One Italian Summer Book Review

The loss of a parent at any age is difficult. It is harder when you are close to that parent.

Rebecca Serle‘s new novel, One Italian Summer, was published earlier this month. After years of battling cancer, Carol Silver has succumbed to the disease. No one is more devastated than her daughter, Katy. They were more than mother and daughter, they were best friends. Carol was the one who Katy turned to when she needed advice and support.

Matters are made worse by the potential cancelation of a trip to the Amalfi Coast in Italy that they had been planning and the possible break up of Katy’s marriage. Needing a break from everything, she decides to make the trip alone. When she arrives at her destination, Katy starts to feel Carol is still with her. Walking in her mother’s footsteps, she visit the same places Carol had been to thirty years ago.

Walking into her hotel one night, she sees her mother standing in front of her. But this Carol is not the woman Katy saw in the hospital bed. This Carol is young and healthy. Katy has to decide if she will only remember the woman she knew or get to know the younger woman who has no clue as to what the future holds.

To say that this book is amazing is an understatement. It’s a story of grief, hope, love, and finding yourself in the midst of the storm of loss. What made it special was the slight but super important science fiction element of the narrative that made it more than just the story of a daughter losing her mother.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

One Italian Summer is available wherever books are sold.

Flashback Friday: Men in Black II (2002)

When a writer sits down to create a fictional world and decides to mix genres that seem to be opposite from one another, it requires a certain amount of skill. While being true to each category, there also has to be a way for them to co-mingle successfully.

Men in Black II (2002) is the sequel to Men in Black (1997). Its been four years since Kay (Will Smith) and Jay (Tommy Lee Jones) have been in the same room. Jay has since retired from the job and has erased his memories of his previous work experience. When Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) and her henchman Scrad (Johnny Knoxville) sets her sights on Earth and MiB, Jay has two seemingly impossible tasks on his hand. He has to save the world (again) and somehow remind Kay of his past.

I remember liking this film. It has the charm and the comic sensibilities of its predecessor while building on the previous narrative. The only issue that I have is that the two female characters are built on stereotypes. Serleena is a temptress whose main weapon is her sexuality. Laura Vasquez (Rosario Dawson) is the princess/love interest who has to be rescued. Unfortunately, this is not the first, nor is this the last story in which women are not just limited in number, but forced into boxes while the men are given wings to figuratively fly.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Matrix Resurrections Review

When The Matrix premiered in 1999, it was more than the standard science fiction good vs. evil movie with computer-generated effects and stunts. The narrative question was existential in nature. Both the special effects and the fight scenes were (and still are) awe-inspiring.

The 4th movie in the series, The Matrix Revolutions, premiered last week. Neo (Keanu Reeves) is torn between the world he sees and the world that is just beyond his consciousness. He is the creator of the best-selling video game of all time called The Matrix. He is also seeing a therapist, known as The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris).

He begins to question his reality when Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, replacing Laurence Fishburne) comes back into his life. When he finally breaks from the world he has known, Neo can only save the day once more with the help of Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). But like Neo, she first has to see the truth.

I wanted to like this film, I really did. It tries to build on the legacy of its predecessors while adding new layers to the story. After nearly two decades. both Moss and Reeves still have the same chemistry. The addition of new cast members builds on this idea of fighting for our individuality instead of just going along with the rest of the crowd. Among the newbies, Harris stands out. I haven’t followed his career closely, but this character from what I know is not one that he normally plays.

The problem is that it just stretches on. It only perks up when Trinity wakes up, which is at about the 60% mark.

Do I recommend it? I would lean toward yes, but only if you have seen the three previous movies.

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Throwback Thursday: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

The question of our fate is one that is open ended and based upon the beliefs of the individual. Is it in our hands or is it preset even before it has begun?

The 2011 movie, The Adjustment Bureau (based on a short story, Adjustment Team, by Phillip K. Dick), is a science fiction inspired love story that is not supposed to happen. According to the powers that be, politician David Norris (Matt Damon) and contemporary dance Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) are supposed to live separate lives in New York City. But when he sees a flash of his future with Elise, David goes against those are keeping them apart, The Adjustment Bureau, to be with her. David and Elise have two choices in front of them: accept that their relationship is not meant to be or fight for it.

This movie is so good. It asks existential questions in a way that both speaks to the audience and keeps within the boundaries of the genre. Blunt and Damon have fantastic chemistry and the narrative is perfect taught with tension and suspense.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Throwback Thursday: Never Let Me Go (2010)

When we are kids, we can’t wait to grow up. But then it happens and we question how it went so fast.

The 2010 film, Never Let Me Go, is based on the book of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro. Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley), and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) grew up in a beautiful and isolated boarding school in the English countryside. Besties as children, they were never far from each other. Now reunited as adults, Kathy starts to look back at their memories and piece together the gifts that will shape the rest of their lives.

This film is best described as a coming of age story with a subtle current of science fiction lurking quietly beneath the surface. As I remember my experience to be, the film was ok. The acting is fantastic, but I recall not quite understanding the final scene.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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