BOOK: Ulysses (1922)

Ulysses Year: 1922 Author: James Joyce Length: 1,797 minutes / 29.95 hours OK, I’ll be the first to admit that perhaps the audiobook version of this story isn’t the best way to digest it. While I did appreciate the Irish accent of the man who read this book, there really wasn’t much of a chance to re-read sections that were quite confusing. As a result, I have no idea what this book is about or what it was supposed to convey. I had a loose understanding that it was based on Homer’s The Odyssey, which helped make a few connections here and there, but I honestly can’t say that this parallel between the plots of the two stories is obvious at all. Perhaps the weakness I perceive in this story is due to its status as one of the great pieces of modernist literature. If that’s the case, then I’ll admit that I don’t understand modernist literature at all. None of it made any sense...
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MOVIE: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Year: 2013 Rating: PG Length: 114 minutes / 1.9 hours Let me start by saying that I was skeptical to go see this film, mainly because it starred Ben Stiller. Given his track record of “comedies,” I found myself avoiding his films just because I knew that they’d be crude and not the type of comedy I would enjoy. Much in the same way I was surprised by Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction (2006), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) was a pleasant surprise. I don’t know if it’s because he also directed this film, but I truly enjoyed it on many levels, both as a lover of movies and a lover of photography. The strength of this film lies in its imagery and presentation. The beauty of our world and the way it’s captured in the travels of a man coming out of his shell is truly inspiring. I can honestly say I haven’t seen a...
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BOOK: Quarter Share (2007)

Quarter Share Year: 2007 Author: Nathan Lowell Length: 250 pages In a genre that often relies too much on inventing new and spectacular foreign worlds, Nathan Lowell’s Quarter Share certainly has a down-to-earth feel. There were a number of times reading this book where I had to remind myself they were sailing through deep space, and not across the Pacific Ocean. That being said, Quarter Share is an incredibly immersive look into the life of a lowly sailor who has the gumption to make something of himself. The realism of the setting and situations certainly makes this science fiction story quite believable. I do have to laud this book with the ability to be as close to wholesome as one can be without the entire plot being labeled “childish”. Unfortunately, this also ends up being one of my main qualms with it. Most of the characters don’t really have any flaws and the conflicts and situations that would arise from being together for long periods of...
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MOVIE: Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Hail, Caesar! Year: 2016 Rating: PG-13 Length: 106 minutes / 1.77 hours I like movies as much as the next connoisseur of film, but clearly the Coen Brothers like them more than I do. Specifically, they like the films made during the “golden age” of Hollywood: the 1950’s. From action-packed westerns, to Biblical epics, to underwater choreography, to big-budget musicals, these films exemplified a Hollywood that was on top of its game. Unfortunately, as is the case with any great success, it can be hard to maintain over time. In what could be considered a “love letter” to a Hollywood of the past, the Coen Brothers bring all these films together in Hail, Caesar! (2016). While I could appreciate the references made throughout this film, many of them felt quite disjointed. Sure, there’s the tie-in to real-life Hollywood fixer, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), but he merely acts as a link between scenes of grandeur meant to show how well the Coen Brothers can follow...
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MOVIE: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Star Trek Beyond Year: 2016 Rating: PG-13 Length: 122 minutes / 2.03 hours First off, I want to admit that I am more of a Star Wars fan than a Star Trek fan. As a result, I have enjoyed the first two of the Star Trek reboot titles because they are structured more like a Star Wars film than a Star Trek one. Of course, this may also be due to my bias toward J.J. Abrams and everything that he directs. For this third installment in the reboot series, we no longer have Abrams, but rather Justin Lin (known for the Fast & Furious franchise). Maybe because of this, I didn't really think this film stood up to the previous two. Sure, there were segments that I thought were interesting and deep, but they were merely bookends in a confusing hodgepodge of action and "buddy up" subplots. I appreciated the beginning, with its humanizing narrative that made sense for the captain's current state of affairs....
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