Jackie (a movie blurt)

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, aka “Jackie,”has always fascinated me. She’s enigmatic.  This recent film portrays the young widow’s perspective following the assassination of her husband on Nov. 22, 1963. The contrast of the shocking violence that unfolded against Jackie’s quiet demeanor reinforces the feeling of how painful it must be to endure such an unbelievable and unfair fate. For example, the charismatic and popular President John F. Kennedy’s brain matter splattered over Jackie’s lap is just one of the harrowing images showed in the film. The film’s focus on Jackie’s private moments in the first few days following the assassination gives us a new understanding that there was more behind her character than just a stylishly dressed woman, who appears stoic on TV. Natalie Portman plays Jackie’s character admirably, revealing the former first lady’s strength, intelligence, grace, and appreciation for history.

Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz (a book blurt)

This book is the first of a series about an orphan who is raised and trained to be a lethal agent to handle covert missions for the U.S. government. After years of stealthily assassinating so-called dangerous people, our hero, Evan Smoak, starts to question if he’s really killing “the bad guys” and decides to leave the program. By doing so, he puts his handler, Jack Johns, into a precarious situation. An older man, turns out Johns is more than Smoak’s handler; he’s also the one who raised Smoak since childhood, growing fond of him along the way.

Smoak successfully escapes anyway and transforms himself into an undercover “fairy-tale godmother” by helping one desperate individual a year. Usually, the help involves ridding the bad forces that have made the individual’s life impossible. A bigger-than-life hero is what makes a thriller thrilling, and this story delivers such a character in spades. Prepare for all kinds of action and twists. The second book in the series is now available, The Nowhere Man, and I’m on it! (I just finished reading The Nowhere Man and it is even more action-packed than ever. Our hero finds himself close to being “no more man.”)

I must mention another book similar to this in many ways, and just as thrilling: Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri. For a full book review, read Bookidote. (This book is also the first of a new series.)

4/23/17: Subsequently, I’ve gone on to read more of Hurwitz’s books, as listed below.
The Tower
Minutes to Burn
Don’t Look Back

The Hollars (a movie blurt)

A movie about a family with dreams that somehow didn’t take off as they wished. John Krasinski directed this movie, as well as starred in it as a son who returns from New York to his Midwestern home due to a family illness. While visiting with his parents and brother, we soon learn about the family strains bubbling beneath the surface, not too different from many families experiencing hurt and feelings of inadequacy. Krasinski’s character himself is also wrestling with disappointment. He doesn’t quite know how he feels about his relationship with his live-in girlfriend, played by Anna Kendrick. She’s pregnant and ready to give birth at any time. In the midst of this angst comes the eventual realization of self-worth, gratitude and stronger family bonds. Overall, the movie is heartwarming and well-acted with a surprise twist in the end. Other stars include Charlie Day, Richard Jenkins, Margo Martindale, and Sharlto Copley.

The Yellow Handkerchief (a movie blurt)

At once a mystery and a love story, this road trip movie shows how three unlikely people come together to eventually trust and help one another in more ways than one. The three travelers are played by William Hurt, a newly released, middle-aged ex-convict; Kristen Stewart, a lonely young woman with insight beyond her years; and Eddie Redmayne, an awkward but earnest young man wanting to see more of the country in his big old American car. Together they travel the backroads of the southern bayou, unloading their emotional baggage and gradually finding hope. Prepare for a tear or two at the end.

I Am a Sidewalk by Matt MacGregor (a book review)

December is a month of multicultural holiday celebrations. If you’re considering exchanging gifts when celebrating holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Three Kings Day, then how about a book for that young, budding engineer?

Written by Matt MacGregor, a Dallas-based civil engineer and father of three, I Am a Sidewalk is about the lifespan of a neighborhood sidewalk winding its way through a quintessential American town. Over a period of years, from the initial pouring of cement until the very end, the sidewalk’s neighborhood undergoes gradual yet profound change.

On one level, children learn about the basics of road and sidewalk construction. At the same time, they learn that change is good and nothing in life stays the same.

An uplifting read for both kids and adults alike.

Illustrated by Don Huff

Illustrated by Don Huff

http://www.iamasidewalk.net/book/

Urge (a movie blurt)

A horror thriller movie with an interesting twist to it. The movie title is the name of a designer drug that makes the user feel uninhibited. The catch is this “ideal” drug can only be taken one time ever, or there are consequences. The man with everything buys this drug for himself and his friends to rewind for the weekend. But, you guessed it, the spoiled brats just don’t know the meaning of self-control. Pierce Brosnan stars as the Man, who introduces this dangerous pharmaceutical.

Blood Father (a movie blurt)

An action film with fairly developed characters and some decent dialogue. This story is about a father, played by Mel Gibson, riddled with guilt for not being there for his daughter as she was growing up because he spent most of his time in prison. Finally out of jail but on probation, he hears from his daughter, now 17 years old and who he hasn’t seen for years. She calls him out of desperation because she has nowhere else to turn for help. Living a life of petty crimes herself, the daughter gets in bigtime trouble when she gets involved in a murder and drugs, with the police and a drug cartel after her. The movie also stars Michael Parks (from the ‘60s TV series, “Then Came Bronson”) and William H. Macy.