The Sunday Review

Prospect Park West: A Novel by Amy Sohn

Where I Got It: Library in audiobook

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Satire

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Billed as a satire about Brooklyn’s trendy Park Slope families, Prospect Park West had real promise. There’s plenty of material to skewer, but Amy Sohn didn’t quite deliver on what could have been a really good book. She had all the components, including the oh-so-successful construct of intersecting plotlines, celebrity worship, name-dropping, sexy and sexless characters, and real estate envy, with a little do-gooder food cooperative action thrown in. Listening to it in the car, I was literally turned off by the initial gratuitous sex scene, and almost took it back to the library. Since I didn’t have any other books in the car, I kept listening, and as I came to know the characters, I was intrigued about where Sohn would go with them. Unfortunately, not all of the plotlines were fully realized, and I was left feeling as though there needed to be a sequel, or a television show, which is perhaps Sohn’s intent with this novel.

Oz and James Drink to Britain by Oz Clark and James May

Where I Got It: Library DVD

Genre: BBC television series

My Rating: 4 Stars

I plucked this out of the obscure British television shows bin at the library because I was looking for something that Music Man and I could watch together — he hates pretty much everything I watch on TV. I also hoped that our friend Frazer’s winery would be a part of this series, but apparently their success at the royal wedding came a little late for the television show. I’m going to link up the Amazon description because I couldn’t say it any more clearly.

Wine expert Oz Clarke and travel enthusiast James May combine their passions in this tasty travelogue as they embark on a summer road trip around the UK in a quest to find the drink that defines modern Britain. Starting in a barley field in Yorkshire, the hapless duo meander their way through the country exploring the best and worst of British beers and sampling numerous other drinks of the land, including wine, whisky, gin, vodka, and cider. Their destinations include maltsters, small breweries and distilleries, sparkling wine makers, and hop growers, and along the way Oz and James quibble and tiff with riotous results. Lighthearted and accidentally educational, this is a fun look at the state of drinking in Britain today.

We liked this set of episodes and buzzed through them pretty quickly. As a reformed camper, the best part for me was the slapstick comedy involving the 1970s-era caravan (camping trailer) that brought back memories of flat tires on the sides of deserted roads and impossible turnarounds where my Dad had to back the camper out of some God-forsaken place. 🙂

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara

Where I Got It: Library DVD

Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Back when everyone was reading these books, I was put off by the violence and balked at reading them. Finally, I started Tattoo and couldn’t put the series down until I finished all three books. Then I took my time watching the movie; I was justifiably worried that the movie could not possibly do the book justice and that it would focus on the violence rather than the heart of this story. I was wrong. In director David Fincher’s hands, Larsson’s core plot comes to life. I’m not going to summarize the story; pretty much everyone has read the books, but I was pleased with the way Fincher focused on the mystery of Harriet Vanger’s disappearance. With the choice of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth, the tortuous and brutal path to her bruised psyche was handled beautifully — with enough nastiness to allow the movie-goer who had not read the book to get it. Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomkvist was solid, as was Stellen Skarsgard as Martin Vanger. The film is appropriately dark as befits a movie that is about the degradation of women. This film is a case where, although the book is better, the editing for the film was successful in maintaining the essence of the story. When I posted on Facebook that I had been watching Tattoo, several friends said that I should also watch the Swedish version, so I watched that one too, via Netflix. I liked the ending much better — no spoilers here — and I thought that Noomi Rapace’s portrayal of Lisbeth showed the dichotomy of her hard/soft character with more depth. Now I can’t wait to watch the other two Swedish versions.

Tangled: voiced by Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, and Donna Murphy

Where I Got It: Library DVD

Genre: Animated Fairy Tale (Disney’s 50th Full-Length Feature Cartoon)

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

There is nothing not-to-like about Tangled. The classic tale of Rapunzel is twisted in a positive manner to create a Disney princess who is feisty, likable, and brave. As adult movie viewers, we love the relationships built into this movie between Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder, the cute thief who rescues Razunzel, and between Flynn and his horse Maximus. The thugs are appropriately bad with a heart of gold — the bar scene is hilarious — and the animation is stunning, although I did get a little tired of the huge Precious Moments eyes on Rapunzel. The characterization of the witch Mother Gothel may be disturbing to children because she certainly does not present an unconditional love for Rapunzel, but as adults, we can appreciate the nuances involved in developing such a complex character in animated format. Tangled is another gem from Disney that is destined to be a classic.

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