Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review: With All My Love

When Veronica recieved this from S&S, she was quite excited to read a novel that promised an endearing story about how a seemingly necessary decision could affect the lives of three generations of women. Patricia Scanlan wrote a tale full of drama, hardships and life in a small town. Her ability to seamless weave between the generations kept us turning the pages even if we couldn't necessarily relate to any of the topics.

I have a particular soft spot for chick lit and stories that bounce from the past to the present. 

Patricia Scanlan touched on a topic that many women today don't need to fear anymore - the stigma of being an unwed mother. But for a young woman in the 70s, this can be a harrowing and scary time, especially if you live in a small town. 

Relationships are inherently complicated and ones that involve women are more so. We're just so prone to stubbornness and using that to fuel our misunderstandings. 

Everything that we did in the past will reverberate to what happens in our future. Valerie and Tessa's dislike for each other was instant and lasting. And it wasn't until age and wisdom settled in that they finally met on common ground and resolved something that shouldn't have even mattered in the first place. 

This is my first Patricia Scanlan novel (how have I not heard of her before?) and I'm sure won't be my last. 

I have to be honest; I didn’t like this book. I have nothing against chick lit and often find comfort in it when I’m in the right mood, and while this had all the makings for such an experience, it just didn't do it for me.

I guess I just had a hard time relating to the characters. Not that I have to have personal experience with something to relate to a situation that they’re going through in order to have any kind of empathy, but I just didn’t agree with the character’s actions and reactions and couldn’t find any kind of compassion for them. Which doesn’t speak to the book or the writing, it was just my own personal reaction to the story.

We received this as an Advanced Readers Copy, so I’m not sure what the final product ended up like, but I also found it very repetitive and in need of some tightening up. Perhaps that did happen, but it was the first time I have read an ARC where the unedited version made an impact on my enjoyment of it.

There were definitely interesting parts, but overall this just wasn’t my thing.

CityGirls Rating: 3 Glasses of Wine out of 5

images courtesy of google

Friday, July 19, 2013

R.I.P.D. Serves the Living with Lighthearted Humour not to be taken too Seriously

Who would have thought that a movie about policing the dead would end up making for a clever and entertaining Thursday night? We apathetically attended the screening for R.I.P.D. last night and wound up leaving pleasantly surprised, dare I say impressed by what could have been a terrible, horrible movie.

Brief synopsis: A recently slain cop named Nick (Ryan Reynolds) joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department, whose job is primarily to wrangle the escaped dead who roam our mortal streets and putting them back where they belong. 

Nick is partnered with Roy (Jeff Bridges), a loose cannon cowboy with his own way of handling things. They’re both under the supervision of Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), who has her own complicated relationship with Roy and the precinct. When Nick and Roy stumble on a case linked to Nick’s own murder, the two find themselves in the middle of the apocalypse, the end of the world resting on their shoulders.

The first twenty minutes sets the pace for the rest of the movie. There are some interesting camera shots; shots that make the first action sequence look much like a video game with quick zoom in shots on targets, rapid movement around corners, close-ups on people in action. Based on the comic book, they really took advantage of that comic world and brought that to the screen for a very cool and distinctive feel. However, with the 3D component, the quick jetting around was sometimes a little too much to handle, but it was brief and unique enough to make it worth it. 

From there, things shift from video game format to a reminiscence of Ghost or What Dreams Will Come, where your hero crosses over to the other side for the first time and has to deal with the change in life status. The transition holds a refreshing tone, despite it being done in many movies before, which helps give the movie a bit more of a credible feel instead of seeming cheesy.

This is where we first meet Proctor, a recruit so to speak, who presents Nick with his choice between a 100 year tour with the R.I.P.D or facing judgement and trying his odds against the big guy. While the character’s mannerisms and overall feel doesn’t stray too far from her iconic Nancy Botwin in Weeds, Parker is still delightful in the role and her banter with Bridges adds a lighthearted comedic component that again, doesn’t seem cheesy and makes for some of the better moments in the film.

Reynolds is trying his hand again at the leading man role, which we feel he often seems to struggle with. We have nothing against him, he’s a fine enough actor, but often he doesn’t seem to really rise to his full potential, or the potential needed to carry a movie. He’s great with the side kick one liners, he creates a strong dynamic between characters and certainly isn’t to be forgotten about, but the reason Reynolds works so well in this movie is because of Bridges. Hands down.

Bridges brings the Wild, Wild West to gunslinger Roy. He’s always running his mouth, spouting ridiculous anecdotes and wearing a cloak of cocky arrogance, but the kind of arrogance that is almost charming from a veteran officer who’s been on the job forever. His emotional attachment to his hat, the way he breaks in the Rookie, it’s all entertaining and laughable. Apparently Zach Galifianakis was suppose to play this role, but we really can’t think of anyone who would have done a better job than Bridges.

Overall, R.I.P.D. has a real Men in Black feel to it, right down to the CGI “Deados” that seem to be very similar to the aliens hunted in MIB. There’s been a lot of talk that it’s a blatant rip-off, even. And sure, it's not the most original or well made movie, but keeping that in mind, it’s still a fun enough movie that adds a bit of comedy to the afterlife in a somewhat reviving way.

Images from Google images

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Savages @ the Mod Club

Every since seeing Savages at the Horseshoe during CMW, we've been keeping an eye out for a triumphant return to Toronto behind their anticipated new album Silence Yourself.

There was a lot of buzz about the sold out Savages show last night at the Mod Club. And rightly so. The Mod Club was more crowded than I have seen it in ages, the venue filling up even before the first act came on stage.

Expanding on the rocking CMW showcase, these girls have found their groove on stage. Their sound was tight and their stage dynamic, while minimal, was still dramatic enough to revive a dead crowd who seemed to barely make it through the humdrum drone of an opener.

Displaying more aggression than probably every other new band you see these days, Savages sound and overall presence combines the dark, haunting Euro-feel with a fresh presence that the music scene is in dire need of these days.



Images ©CityGirlScapes

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane Review

I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman. I've been anticipating the release of his newest book The Ocean at the End of the Lane for ages, couldn't wait to get my hands on it, especially since it's the first book in a while that's been marketed as an adult novel.

That said, The Ocean at the End of the Lane doesn't really read like an adult novel. At least not in the sense I was expecting. It's definitely dark and in no ways childish, but it is much more along the eerie lines of Coraline than, say, American Gods. Unfortunately, I think my predetermined expectations have sort of lead to some disappointment in the book. I wish I had of known this going into it.

In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Of course, the brilliance that is Gaiman is still here (I'll put the blame for my misunderstanding on the marketing, not the book itself). It's written beautifully, a very haunting and dark story about sacrifice and boundaries. He masterfully blends the lines of universes in a way only he can do, creating a world filled with his personal touch.

The characters are greatly handcrafted, the Hempstocks especially. You almost wish the book was longer and more background was given on these mysteriously magical women. And the darkness Gaiman describes, the creatures he's created, the fears that lurk in the shadows, some of those passages reach right up off the page and drag their finger nails down your back, giving you shivers. 

In pieces, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fantastic book. But as a whole, it wasn't quite enough for me, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. But that's kind of my own fault.

City Girl Rating: Three out of Five Glasses of Wine