MOVIE: Layer Cake (2004)

Layer CakeYear: 2004Rating: RLength: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours I always find it interesting to go back and watch breakout films by directors who would come into their own years later. In the case of Matthew Vaughn, I have enjoyed his work, which includes Stardust (2007), Kick-Ass (2010), X-Men: First Class (2011), and the Kingsman franchise. With Layer Cake (2004), I could see the kind of filmmaker he would become—with plenty of neat visual tricks—but there’s so much that’s lacking polish that I’m not even sure what happened in this movie. I kind of got the general sense of the plot, but I found myself lost by what was happening by the end of it all. Perhaps part of my problem is that the action is quite loud, but the dialogue is all quiet. I kept having to adjust the volume on my surround sound as a result. Maybe I should have put subtitles on because I had trouble understanding what most...
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BOOK: The Opal Deception (2005)

The Opal Deception Year: 2005 Author: Eoin Colfer Length: 449 minutes / 7.48 hours As a fan of the three-act structure that trilogies can provide, I’ve found over the years that the fourth book in a series generally determines what the style of future books will be. Plenty of series have strong plotlines and character arcs that span multiple volumes, but some series settle into a tried-and-true formula that works for them. For The Opal Deception, the fourth book in the Artemis Fowl series, it’s the latter. Granted, the series is meant for grade-school readers, so it’s not entirely surprising that the series has become formulaic. There was an amount of status quo (and returning to it) that had to happen after the events in The Eternity Code, which is where The Opal Deception came in. It honestly feels a little like a half-step backward for the series, or at least a realignment to get the characters all back together to continue on future adventures....
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BOOK: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)

The Man Who Was ThursdayYear: 1908Author: G.K. ChestertonLength: 355 minutes / 5.92 hours On the surface, The Man Who Was Thursday has all the markings of a witty thriller satire. Unfortunately, as the subtitle of this work is “A Nightmare,” things don’t necessarily stay coherent to the end. It’s not that The Man Who Was Thursday is terrible, but rather that it loses focus and becomes absurd the longer it continues. And perhaps that’s the greatest tragedy of this book: that it could have been a solid story if it didn’t devolve into a nightmare at the end. I certainly liked plenty of aspects of the early parts of this book. Infiltrating an anarchist society with day-of-the-week codenames. The revelation that few members of said society were actually who they said they were. The conspiracy and twists as the protagonists and antagonists get flipped on their heads. Of course, this last bit is when things started going downhill. Perhaps it’s that odd...
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BOOK: Moonraker (1955)

Moonraker Year: 1955 Author: Ian Fleming Length: 410 minutes / 6.83 hours For those of you who have seen the movie Moonraker (1979), push everything you know about this story out of your head. About the only things that the film has in common with the book are the main character, villain, and an enormous rocket. While the film tried to capitalize on the sci-fi that was popular at the time, the original book takes a look at the threat introduced in World War II by the Germans: ballistic missiles. For its time, the book was relevant in a world that hadn’t even been to space yet. Having now read a handful of the James Bond books, my problem with this book stems from how formulaic it was. Only three books in, and it felt like Fleming was recycling content and would continue to for books to come (like in Goldfinger). I mean, never before has a game of bridge been so exciting, but using card games as...
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BOOK: Goldfinger (1959)

Goldfinger Year: 1959 Author: Ian Fleming Length: 509 minutes / 8.48 hours For many years, I was aware that the James Bond series of books did not follow the same order as their respective films. Given the action/adventure spy thriller genre these books were written in, it is possible to mix them around and still have a good understanding of what’s going on, even if some of the references made within the novels could only be understood by having read the previous books in the series. In some respects, it is disappointing that the film franchise didn’t capitalize on a continuous narrative that the books provided. If the stories are out of order, then it 's hard to build up the constant battle between James Bond and the Soviet spy agency, SMERSH. Fortunately, since I had read a few of the first books in the James Bond series, I could appreciate Auric Goldfinger’s connection to the organization. That being said, I seemed to have jumped...
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MUSIC: CSPhil – 007: The Music of James Bond

Colorado Springs Philharmonic Conductor: Thomas Wilson Date: March 4, 2017 Very few film franchises have been able to stand the test of time. Of course, with the resurgence of reboots and remakes, some long-gone franchises are starting to find themselves once again. The James Bond franchise has had a few bumps over the years, but it continues to maintain its presence in the popular culture landscape. One of the most recognizable aspects of this franchise has certainly been its music. There's a tension in it that oozes action and masculinity. With films spanning half a century, the music has done its best to keep up with the changing styles of our culture. Similar musical styles gave many of the early Bond films' title songs a very consistent sound. I was a little disappointed that the Philharmonic chose to do "The Look of Love" from the 1960's spoof, Casino Royale, instead of the Herb Alpert opening track, but at least it matched the tone with the rest of...
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BOOK: The Rook (2012)

The Rook Year: 2012 Author: Daniel O’Malley Length: 1,066 minutes / 17.77 hours One of the nice things about listening to audiobooks from my library (via the Overdrive app), is that I can pick up a book and listen to it without really knowing what it’s about other than a title and a cover. In this way, I often have no preconceived notions about the book other than first impressions. At this point, all I’m giving up to “read” the book is the time it takes me to listen to it, and I have plenty of that driving to and from work every day. Since I had no idea what this book was really about, I was surprised at how humorous it was. If I were to combine a few, better-known series together, I’d say this is X-Men mixed with James Bond, with just a dash of Jason Bourne all blended together in Monty Python’s Flying Circus. An odd combination, I know. But somehow, it...
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