Monthly Archives: October 2011

Movie Review: The Rum Diary

by Dan Fields
First published October 29, 2011 by the California Literary Review

Why is the Rum Gone? Now We Know

Certain films leave you with the feeling of a long weekend spent smoking and drinking, simply by watching the characters do so much of it. The Hustler with Paul Newman is a good example, but it did not have the natural beauty of Puerto Rico to comfort the eyes. Bruce Robinson’s The Rum Diary is the newest movie which allows you to tie one on without touching a drop, but at least you can imagine swimming in the sea afterward. Continue reading

Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 3

by Dan Fields
First published October 22, 2011 by the California Literary Review

The Devil and Me and Teddy Makes Threee

Paranormal Activity 3 was inevitable. This is the horror franchise that people love to hate, but still keep paying to see. Rather than introduce another parallel timeline to the first two chapters, this movie serves as a full-blown prequel. We will now witness the harrowing events of 1988, when protagonists Kristi and Katie were little girls together. As it turns out, they have already been through the familiar regimen of being taped while they sleep. When troublesome things stir in the night, the girls’ video-geek stepfather Dennis decides to capture and track the phenomena with nightly surveillance footage. In other words, he assumes the same role as Micah Sloat in the first film, only working in analog, and for the record is far less irritating a character.

em>Paranormal Activity 2 was an interlocking piece of the original Paranormal Activity. Part 3 is more of a tangential riff. All this footage apparently made up a box of home videos stolen from Kristi’s house, which burglary prompted the setup of their home security system in Part 2. How or why we are seeing these old tapes is a total mystery, and it makes everything just a little bit weirder and more interesting. This new entry has a lot of problems, but it is easily the best of the films so far. If this had stood alone and been released by itself as Paranormal Activity, a lot of us would not be so down on the franchise as we are.
Continue reading

Movie Review: The Big Year

by Dan Fields
First published October 13, 2011 by the California Literary Review

Warm and Downy, but No Rara Avis

David Frankel, director of such high-profile book adaptations as Marley & Me and The Devil Wears Prada, serves up a feather-light comedy about birdwatching in North America.

Strike that. The preferred term is actually “birding.” Birders like being called “birdwatchers” about as much as Trekkers enjoy being called “basement-dwelling prom rejects.” But I digress. As a child of birders, I was raised with a nominal respect for the hobby, and in time acquired a genuine appreciation of our seasonal outings to High Island and Brazos Bend State Park. To this day I remain a bit of a nature-program junkie, and although I can identify a few unusual birds on sight, I consider myself non-practicing – a lapsed birder, if you will.
Continue reading

Movie Review: Machine Gun Preacher

by Dan Fields
First published October 01, 2011 by the California Literary Review

I Once Was Lost… I’m Still Kinda Lost

What do you call a two-hour movie with forty-five minutes of wholesome, inspirational tearjerking and a buck-fifteen of dead weight? No, not The Blind Side. This year, you may call it Machine Gun Preacher. This presumably well-meaning film from Swiss humanitarian Marc Forster is a cleverly devised ambush on the conscience of the average moviegoer. That would probably be okay, if it were a better crafted film. However, we all know that the words “based on a true story” have become code for “we don’t have to craft it better; this is what really happened!
Continue reading