Thursday, December 26, 2013

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (5)

I desperately want to see this play. Like with many plays, much is lost in translation when you merely read it. How different to see Sigourney Weaver as aging star Masha lamenting being cast as a grandmother and getting paid less than she did in her glory days then to read a faceless character you are somewhat ambivalent towards. I never connect as well to a play I'm reading unless there's a character I desperately want to play that I am imagining myself being.

And yet, it is funny. It is both current, three aging siblings considering their lives, and the state of global warming and the world in general, and ancient, with Cassandra, their maid, a modern version of The Cassandra, from Agamemnon touting prophesies at each turn of the page. Spike is the only character firmly routed in the current world while Vanya, Sonia, Masha, and Nina are all Chekhovian. I would love to hear reactions from someone with less knowledge of classic theatre, and also the reaction of someone who understood EVERYTHING. Who knows The Sea-Gull and The Cherry Orchard and The Three Sister like I know The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and A Game of Thrones.

Did I give it five stars because it's a Tony Award winner, and who am I to argue with the pros? Probably. But it also gave this 25-year-old a glimpse into the minds of those older than me. It did what all great art should do: it helped me understand a person different then myself. It may be funnier to someone who understands more Chekhov, but it made me want to dive back in and read Chekhov, and how many works can state that?

Most of all, I loved how beautifully Christopher Durang discussed the idea of a shared memory between the generations. How does a grandparent converse with a texting, tweeting teenager? What do they have in common? There are thousands of shows and everyone has their own tastes and opinions firmly staked, what can we all discuss?

"The Ed Sullivan Show was on...Richard Burton and Julie Andrews would sing songs from Camelot. It was wonderful. It helped theatre be part of the national consciousness, which it isn't anymore."

And yet, NBC aired a live television broadcast of The Sound of Music this year. Maybe it was in response to the production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and perhaps it wasn't, but it was so popular that they are absolutely doing it again next year. Please, please do NBC! But maybe cast Audra as the lead this time? Or at least Lea Michele. Pretty please?  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Night Film (4.5)

Sovereign. Deadly. Perfect.

That is how they describe the films of famous director Cordova, not necessarily how I would describe Marisha Pessel’s Night Film. The book was fabulous and met all expectations it created which made it both satisfying and a bit easy to guess.

Ashley Cordova, age 24, is found dead in a warehouse in lower Manhattan. Everyone believes that she jumped. She was, after all, the daughter of Stanislas Cordova, the director of movies so terrifying they have been banned from theaters. His most devoted fans hold underground viewings, but even they have not seen Stanislas in 30 years. No one has.

Journalist Scott McGrath lost his career the last time he tried to expose Cordova, but Ashley’s death brings him back on the case and deeper and deeper into the secret, dark world surrounding Cordova’s supposed retirement.

I loved how it took you on the journey, the slow build into mysticism, broken just long enough that you begged to bring it back. Anything but the simplicity you were being offered. You wanted the darkness to be real.

I also loved how Pessel interspersed internet articles and pictures, because it made the book feel so real. In addition, if you download an app to use to scan hidden elements of the book you can watch movies. Or something. I haven’t tried it, because I’m lazy.

Do you dare? 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hyperbole and a Half (5)

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened.
By Allie Brosch

I think at this point in time there are two kinds of people: people that like Hyperbole and a Half (the blog) and people who have yet to read Hyperbole and a Half. I started my journey through Brosch's blog somewhere around here:"How Fish Almost Destroyed My Childhood" and then promptly spent the rest of my night reading her previous two years of blog posts. TWO YEARS. I think it actually took me more then one day.

Allie reminds us all of the beauty of humanity, or at least those of us who haven't quite mastered the art of adulthood but are still, for some reason, allowed to wander around the world doing jobs and renting homes and adopting pets. Either this book will make you feel like a really, really responsible adult, or it'll make you feel less alone in your utter confusion about the "real world," either way, you should get a healthy chuckle or two out of it. I personally read the first half in one sitting and started laughing so hard I couldn't breathe at least once.

This pictures sealed it for me though

I just can't stop laughing, and I need everyone to read this essay/cartoon so that I can use it in every day conversation because who HASN'T had a random feeling of, like, "there's a spider in my house, better just burn the damn thing down" and has had to repress that feeling?

If you aren't sure if this is the thing for you, definitely go check out her blog, and then decide. It won Best Humor book on Goodreads so if you're into that kind of thing, go read it. Immediately.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Miss. Peregine review (3.5) & Cress is coming!

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.” - Miss. Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs 

Jacob, 16, is a quiet loner who has one best friend, a misfit like himself, and is closest to his grandfather. As a child, his grandfather told him many stories about a magical house he lived in as a child during World War II, the kindly matron who protected them from the monsters, and the peculiar children he lived with. As Jacob grew older, he came to realize that the monsters were really the Nazis, and the pictures of magic merely illusions. But after he finds his grandfather half-dead in the woods, torn apart by an animal who he glimpses, Jacob begins to wonder if the stories were real after all. He ends up travelling with his father to the island his grandfather had spoken of, to find the house where it all began. 

This book started out really strong, but the more fantastic it got, the less connected to the characters I felt. I thought it was going to be a great, creepy, Halloween read but it turned into a less interesting X-Men meets Harry Potter and ended on such a blatant to be continued, I felt a little cheated. Maybe if I had known that it was the first book of a series, I would have accepted this more, but I thought it'd been out for awhile (only 2011) and was just a book all on it's own. 

Now, in the book's defense, I did read it immediately after finishing The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which became more beautiful as it got more fantastical, so it did have a lot to live up to. And the author's note that all the creepy pictures of fantastic children were actually real pictures he found in thrift shops was pretty cool. And the next book comes out January 14th, so you don't have long to wait if you want to know what happens. 

I, personally, am feeling a little overwhelmed by the authors/series I'm following, and If you're into YA, I am in love with the Cinder series, and the third book is coming out in exactly two months!! If you missed my earlier post about Cinder (which was really short), it's another one of those fairytales re-told, which I have a soft spot for. I am especially obsessed with retellings of Cinderella, so I probably like this series more then I should. I may have already read it twice this year. I tried really hard to say it was just ok, but it's the perfect fast read if you're into that prince falls in love with ordinary girl and you can see it all but she doesn't because she's just so ordinary except she really is special if only she could just see it. SPOILERS, sorry, but it's based off Cinderella, so you  have to see that part coming. Cinder's a cyborg, it's the year 3000-something, there are cyborgs.