Blog

The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity by Mike Carey and Peter Gross (2010)

At first glance, The Unwritten seems to be about a grown-up, real-life Harry Potter: a man desperately trying to escape the shadow of the fictional character based upon him. (In actuality, co-creator Mike Carey has said the character of Tom Taylor is based more upon the real-life Christopher Robin of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories than anything else.) But read a little more, and you'll witness Tom Taylor get dragged further into a world that may or may not be fictional, where the collective of human consciousness can grant powers, and a shadowy, book-burning cabal wants him for their own purposes.

The Unwritten is an ongoing comic series published by Vertigo, currently collected in six volumes (the seventh was published in March 2013). It features diverse artwork by Peter Gross (The Books of Magic, Lucifer) and beautiful, lush cover art by Yuko Shimizu (Barbed Wire Baseball).

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (2012)

In Some Kind of Fairy Tale a teenage girl disappears in the woods near her English home, then returns to her family 20 years later. She has barely aged and her explanation, hardly believable, is that she was abducted by fairies…as the story unfolds it reveals an increasing amount of tangible evidence to back up her explanation.

Joyce weaves elements of folklore and myth into this novel of magical realism; its well-drawn characters build a tale of family, life and contradicting realities.

I find this idea of an updated fairy tale very appealing and as a quote in the novel says:

A fairy tale...on the other hand, demands of the reader total surrender; so long as he is in its world, there must for him be no other.” – W. H. Auden

True Blood. Seasons 1 and 2 (2008-2009)

Vampires have always existed in the shadows of Bon Temps, Louisiana, but with the invention of the artificial blood product “True Blood,” vampires have come out into the open. Some residents welcome them, like heroine Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), but others need a little persuading.

As so often happens when vampires are around, other supernatural creatures make appearances as well. Be prepared for great characters, violence, gratuitous nudity, goofy humor, and a touching love story in seasons 1 and 2 of True Blood. Seasons 3 and 4 are also available on DVD. Based on the novels by Charlaine Harris.

Edward Scissorhands (1990) PG-13

I hadn’t seen Edward Scissorhands in about 20 years, but after seeing the previews for Dark Shadows, I decided to revisit the first collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. And I’m glad I did.

Edward Scissorhands is a good movie and a classic filled with funny moments. Costarring Winona Ryder.

For more on Tim Burton, check Sally's spotlight of the director.
Tags:

Joe Golem and the Drowning City by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (2012)

An excellent read for fans of classic Lovecraftian horror. Whereas Mignola and Golden's last team-up, 2007's Baltimore, or the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, was an homage to Gothic horror in the vein of Frankenstein, Joe Golem and the Drowning City hearkens back to the horror writers of the early 20th century such as Lovecraft and Poe.

Filled with old gods and occultist pseudoscience, fans of Mignola's Hellboy series will also be charmed by the similarly gruff but deeply caring character of Joe. Though it's got plenty of monsters and creepy stuff, at its core the story is about friendship and family – and how to move on for the sake of others when faced with an inevitable loss. Mignola's skillfully haunting black and white artwork compliments Golden's descriptive (but never longwinded!) prose.

Firebird by Jack McDevitt (2011)

Firebird is not just fantasy, but an adventure-mystery story about what may have happened to an imaginative scientist when he disappeared 40+ years ago from the time of the story. There are business problems in selling artifacts from his estate and frustrating government inaction in giving help to the investigators. Also the reader gets a glimpse of what it might be like to get caught in a time warp. An enjoyable read; I like McDevitt’s books.

 

Midnight in Paris (2011) PG-13

This is a Woody Allen film, but because he is not in the cast I put it in the DVD player and settled in. It was a delightful fantasy about Paris in the 1920s. There was nothing to dislike about it; it was a pleasure to watch.

Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) are sort of in love, and in Paris with her parents. Gil is caught up in the romance of Paris in the springtime. A screenwriter from Hollywood, he has written a novel with visions of joining the ranks of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the other legends of Paris in the 1920s – the perfect set up for what follows.

The film is not without a serious moment. It has a message that is purposely delivered at the end; it’s an illusion that a life different from the one we have would be much better.

Did you participate in the 2012 Big Read? We read Paula McLain's The Paris Wife. For more on the book and its related resources featuring Paris in the 1920s, visit thebigread.org.

Pick up a copy of Midnight in Paris from the library.

Hugo (2011) PG

I usually begin my reviews by stating the year of the film and listing the main stars. I briefly describe the plot, perhaps quote a line from the film or describe a scene and emphasize what I believe are some of the high points of the film.

In this case, I decided to write my review as I approached viewing the film. I knew almost nothing about the film. All that I knew was that it won several Oscars, and I had seen a few brief snippets during the Academy Awards ceremony. I chose not to find out anything more about the film, and I would advise anyone who has not seen this film to take the same approach.

If you appreciate art, science, fantasy, a vivid imagination, you will love this film. If you don't appreciate art, if science bores you, if you look at a cloud and that's all you see, you won't like the film.

This film reminded me of what it was like to see a motion picture in a movie theater for the first time. I was amazed and filled with a great sense of wonder. You too can experience this again, if you see this film.

Based on the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Directed by Martin Scorsese.

Join us on Friday, May 4 at 7:00 for a screening of Hugo. Doors open at 6:30; fresh popcorn will be served. Register at calendar.ippl.info.

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs  (1914)
Tarzan is not at all timid about telling he is a mighty warrior, killer of beast and men, but he is utterly confused by lessons in French speech when he speaks only Ape and reads only English. It’s a fun read and well written.

Going Postal

Going Postal (2010)
Based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, Going Postal is the best movie between Color of Magic and Hogfather. It’s a nice balance of fantasy, humor, and soul-saving life observation. I believe it’s so good for teenagers!

You can also check out a 2010 review.

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris (2011) PG-13
It was so wonderful to see this Woody Allen movie. I have seen every Woody Allen movie, but this one is in a class with Annie Hall (1977) and Sleeper (1973). The time travel element really does the trick. Paris is a perfect background. I highly recommend this film.

Did you miss your chance to see the film on the big screen?  You're in luck -- the La Grange Theatre will be showing the movie for one night in March in conjunction with the Big Read 2012. Look for the program guide around February 1 for more details!

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz (2003)
His name is really Odd. He sees dead people and he does something about it. Odd works as a fry cook in a small town in California. He gets visited by borachs (spiritual entities) that swarm over people and places where future violence will occur. This story is suspenseful, the characters are compelling, and the humor is dark. Check out more book from the Odd Thomas series.
Watch Odd star in a another new adventure.

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke (1997)
A silver dragon named Firedrake is on a mission to find a mystical land called “The Rim of Heaven” that only dragons believe in. Firedrake meets a new friend, a human named Ben. He joins Firedrake and a brownie named Sorrel. They meet other characters along the way on their journey who help them find The Rim of Heaven. The trio also encounters some opposition to their quest.

Funke also wrote Inkheart (2003) and The Thief Lord (2002).

Spotlight: Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne

Spotlight: Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope OsborneIn Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, siblings Jack and Annie travel in a tree house. An enchantress from Camelot, Morgan, cast a spell on the tree house. Jack and Annie travel to places in time, space, and fantasy. They are fun books – I can’t stop reading them!

Start with Dinosaurs before Dark and The Knight at Dawn.

Visit the author's website and learn more about the series.


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) PG-13
Pilgrim (Michael Cera from Juno and Superbad) plays bass guitar in a Toronto garage band. He’s dating a high school girl, but meets his dream girl, Ramona Flowers, a punky American girl closer to his own age. The story is told as an allegory of life as a video game, complete with extra lives and the need to out-fight one’s enemies. Scott soon finds out he must defeat Ramona’s 7 evil exes before they can date. Not just another teen movie, the movie appeals to a much wider range of fans. Watch for an uncredited appearance by Thomas Jane (The Punisher) as one of the Vegan Police.

One of the writers of this film (Edgar Wright) also co-wrote the clever zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead (2004). Bryan Lee O'Malley wrote the graphic novels the movie was based on.