It’s that time of year, the annual movie review. The movies listed below are the best of the best (in my humble opinion) of 2016.
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: This movie is a dream come true for any Star Wars fan. A prequel to Episode 4, it abuts to the beginning of A New Hope and explains how the plans for the death star landed in the hands of the rebels. Starring Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, it is the perfect addition to the Star Wars franchise.
- Arrival: Arrival, starring Amy Adams is not the standard science fiction invasion alien film. It is about being human and dealing with everything that is human, while dealing with extra layer of potentially being invaded by an alien race. It could have been the typical schlockly science fiction film, but it is so much more.
- Denial: Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz), a respected historian and professor must prove that the Holocaust happened when she sued for libel. A powerful story of how thin the line is between free speech and hate speech.
- Son Of Saul: Son Of Saul is about a Saul (Geza Rohrig), a prisoner in Auschwitz who is able to locate a spark of hope when he finds the body of boy he believes to be his son. A Holocaust film that is without sentiment, it is one of the more powerful Holocaust films that has hit the big screen.
- Indignation: Based on the book by Philip Roth, Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman) is a young man of Jewish descent from New Jersey. Instead of going to college close to home, he attends a college in small town Ohio. Against the backdrop of the Korean War and the sexual and social repression of the 1950’s, Marcus struggles to find himself.
- Florence Foster Jenkins: Florence Foster Jenkins is a socialite and an heiress living in New York City in the 1940’s. She has always wanted to be a performer, but her technical abilities don’t match up to her ambitions. A live concert will be a life long dream come true, but it could also be a cold blast of reality.
- Love And Friendship: Based on the unfinished novel by Jane Austen, Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) is a widow who decides that its high time to live with her in-laws. While she is chilling under their roof and looking for a husband for her teenage daughter, she may as well find one for herself.
Here’s to the good movies in 2016 and the hopefully good movies that will be released in 2017.
This will be my last post for this year. Have a safe and happy New Year and I will see you in 2017.
One of my great pleasures in life is reading. I’ve read many books this year. Some were excellent, some were good and some I wanted to throw at the wall, they were so bad.
The list below are the five best books from 2016.
- Karolina’s Twins: Lena Woodward is an elderly widow who survived the Nazi Holocaust. She approaches the husband and wife team of private investigator Liam Taggert and lawyer Catherine Lockhart. Her childhood best friend, Karolina died during the war, but not before asking Lena to ensure that her children survived.This book is a heartbreaking and heartwarming tale of faith, friendship and a dying mother’s last wish for the children she will never see grow up.
- The Princess Diarist: Hindsight is always 20/20. I finished reading this book just before Christmas. The heartbreaking loss of Carrie Fisher earlier this week adds a new level of poignancy to the experience. In revisiting her experience while making Episode 4 of Star Wars (and having a brief affair with Harrison Ford in process), the reader is taken not just back in time, but into the mind of one of the most brilliant performers and writers of recent memory.
- Victoria: Daisy Goodwin’s brilliant fictionalized tale of the first years of Queen Victoria’s reign is remarkable. What kept me reading was not her status and her title, but that she was a human being and an 18-year-old girl who is starting to grow up and grow into the Queen Victoria we think of today.
- Modern Girls: Set in New York City in the 1930’s, it is the tale of a mother daughter duo who find themselves pregnant at the same time. Approaching her 40’s, Rose has had 5 children. She thinks her days bringing children into the world are over. Rose’s daughter, Dottie has it all. A solid career, a bright future and a boyfriend she is ready to marry. Then she gets pregnant and not by her boyfriend. If the sign of a good book is wanting a sequel, then this is a really good book.
- The Two Family House: The Berman brothers, Abe not only work together, but live in the same two family house. Their wives, Rose and Helen are as close as sisters. Then they get pregnant at the same time. After the babies are born, the relationship between Rose and Helen is never the same. Soon the rift between the women begins to affect the whole family.
Here’s to the good books from 2016 and the books to be read in 2017.
Readable/watchable dialogue is the backbone of every story. If the reader/audience member is not engaged by the dialogue, it is highly unlikely that they will finish reading the book or watching the movie.
In 2014, writer James Scott Bell published How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript. Breaking down writing dialogue into the nuts and bolts of writing, Mr. Bell shows how good dialogue engages and invites the reader/audience member to continue with the book/movie while bad dialogue throws the reader/audience member off and makes them question if they want to finish reading the book or watching the movie.
What I liked about the book is that Mr. Bell plainly lays out what good dialogue looks and sounds like vs. what bad dialogue looks and sounds like. He also recommends exercises that are designed to stretch a writer’s technical muscles and teach the writer how to write engaging dialogue.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
With New Years Eve swiftly descending upon us, it’s easy to look back at what has transpired in 2016.
2016 has been quite a year for me. While it was far from easy, I can look back with a clear set of eyes and see how I’ve grown over the past 12 months. While some of that growth came out of mistakes and were painful in the moment, I know now that I have come out stronger and braver because of those painful mistakes.
On the writing front, I have hit a new record of readers and hits on this blog. I have also started on a new novel, which I hope to one day finish and publish. I read somewhere that easy reading is hard writing. I don’t doubt it. I can only continue to work hard and hope that my writing will get somewhere someday.
I turned 35 a few weeks ago, I hope that the second half of my thirties will be better than the first.
We lost so many brilliant and respected artists this year. If we only had a time machine to go back to last year at this time and warn us of those who would no longer be with us. But we can’t go back, we can only go forward and remember not just those who are no longer with us, but remember that we are still alive. Where there is life, there is hope and opportunity.
Wherever you are, have a Happy New Year and know that 2017 is full of possibilities.