MatthewSean Reviews

Book reviews, movie reviews, and other writing

Book Review – One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez — October 26, 2015

Book Review – One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Book Review – One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

one-hundred-years-of-solitude

Facts:

  •    Book: One Hundred Years of Solitude
  •    Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  •    Genre: Fiction
  •    Year of Release: 1967
  •    Read 417-page hardcover edition in September 2015.

Book Description:

In this classic of Magical Realism from South American Nobel-prize winner Marquez, we here of the rise and fall of the town of Macondo, and the rise and fall of an honourable family that is central to the town’s development.  Through a variety of war and peace, violence and love, we see a family and a town change and permeate through the generations.

Book Review:

This was most assuredly a difficult novel to read! However, for the person who perseveres, it feels like quite an accomplishment to successful complete it!

This novel is one of the classics of the 20th century, with huge praise far and wide for its magical realism elements, its descriptive language and prose, and the unleashing of beautiful South American creativity.  These are all very true, and there are sections of the novel where you truly feel awe-inspired by the portrait the author is painting.  This is a mythical tale of a mysterious landscape, and we are being given a window into something breathtaking.

However, at the same time, there are also many challenging elements to this novel as well.  For one, many of the characters have similar or the same names, and it is up to the reader to keep up with which character is who, and which generation the author is referring to as the story unfolds.  It can be difficult when many generations encounter similar issues, and in fact that may be one of the overriding themes of the novel, that often families and history are doomed to repetition of a sort.  There are excellent themes to ponder in this novel to be sure.

But at the same time, there are also elements of the novel that were simply very challenging for the reader to keep up with and fully understand. The storyline sometimes seems to wander into territory that is confusing and that isn’t related to what came immediately before it. Although there are some creative scenes and truly creative descriptions at times, it is also difficult when you don’t know where it fits with the overriding story being told.  The could be a problem due to the particular translation or just an element of magical realism that the reader must become comfortable with.

Overall though, this novel was a challenge.  A challenge can be completely acceptable and even a good thing when there are many amazing things in the novel. After all, often it feels good when we work for something good! However, this was a case of not only that, but also challenge because not everything seemed to tie together easily.

Definitely a classic, and worthwhile to read, but not an easy read!

Overall: 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Movie Review – The Martian (2015) —

Movie Review – The Martian (2015)

Movie Review – The Martian (2015)

martian

Movie Synopsis:

Botanist, engineer, and astronaut Mark Watney is on the surface of Mars with his crewmates when the mission is suddenly aborted due to serious weather conditions that arise on the planet. But when he is thrown away from the group in the storm, the crew is forced to leave him for dead and evacuate the surface. However, Watney is not dead, and must now find a way to survive for the next 4 years, until the next Mars mission arrives, when he only has limited food and water, and has no contact with the departing ship and Earth.

Movie Review:

Based on the successful sci-fi thriller of the same name, this action packed movie was fantastic in many respects.

Firstly, the writing in the film was quite exceptional, with a good job in bringing to the screen the novel penned by Andy Weir.  Because the novel itself was somewhat introspective and a lot of it was narrated by Watney through mission logs, not all of the dialogue, scientific description, and humour from Watney necessarily got brought forward into the film.  At times it felt kind of unfortunate because we may not have gotten the entire sense of who Watney was as a character.  However, that being said, screenwriter Drew Goddard does a fairly good job illustrating Watney and some of his key character traits, including the humour and the closeness he feels with his cremates.  Goddard also does a nice job illustrating some of the connections and the plot and humour points between other characters as well.

Secondly, the direction in this film by Ridley Scott is phenomenal.  The visual effects, especially of Mars, are astonishing. One wishes we could see more shots of the red planet in this film actually, because when we do see the vistas, it is incredible, and really brings us into Mark Watney’s space, and helps us to understand how vast and alone he really is.  Other scenes in space are also breathtaking.

Thirdly, the acting in this film is wonderful, with a strong ensemble cast of actors who do a great job.  Matt Damon in the starring role is very strong, and he also does a great job not only of showing us Watney’s charm and humour, but also of showing us some vulnerability and emotion in a couple places too, which actually served to elevate the film in my mind, and really drive the moral of the story home.

The sense of camaraderie amongst the astronauts in the film was great, and overall the film is a fun one to watch, and is highly recommended!  Following on other space movies like Gravity and Interstellar, and recent space novels like The Martian itself, it is clearly a good time to be making science fiction films.

Overall: 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Movie Review – The Interpreter (2005) — October 9, 2015

Movie Review – The Interpreter (2005)

Movie Review – The Interpreter (2005)

interpreter

Movie Synopsis:

When UN translator Sylvia Broome overhears a death threat made against an African leader in a very rare dialect, she is placed under US Secret Service protection led by Tobin Keller. While Keller and Broome try to work and determine whether the threat is real, and where it may be coming from, they realize this might be part of a much larger threat.

Movie Review:

This film definitely benefitted from standout acting performances of Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. These two had great chemistry on the screen together and it led to an enjoyable movie from that regard.

The idea of a film based on something a UN interpreter heard in the UN headquarters in New York City was a great concept, and a fresh idea that was enjoyable to see on the screen. This was a great building block to a movie that had drama, action, and thought provoking social commentary on important topics such as violence in the world.

In addition to that, the screenwriters did a great job adding elements to the script that enhanced the themes and added authenticity, from the cultural art and masks in Broome’s house to the details on the African languages that Broome is knowledgeable with.

That all being said, several problems did exist with this film. The first is in complexity. At times, the film’s attempt at touching on many issues and plot points leads to confusion in the plot and where we are going with the story itself. This can be problematic and leave the viewer hanging in some places. The second problem is with length. At times the over 2 hour film did feel like it was dragging a little, and it could have been edited for length. The third problem is in logic with the plot. There are some issues with the plot that just didn’t seem believable to the viewer. For example, when the interpreter Sylvia Broome reports the threat to authorities, they do not take the threat seriously for some time, and rather suspect Broome of making things up for attention or fame. This seems an odd approach to take, when one considers UN leaders likely do receive threats, and it is paramount that they be taken seriously. Examples like that occurred several times in the film, which became frustrating at times.

Overall, the film was an enjoyable and intriguing one to watch, although certainly the film did have components that left the viewer wishing for more at times.

Overall: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.