The Image Issue

Friday, June 29, 2012

If there is one thing you should know about these blog posts that I mange to get scribbled onto paper, forming them into some semblance of sense, it is that a lot of them are stirred by lyrical words. I’ll be making a batch of muffins with my bright orange ear buds in and whatever my new favorite song is will be blaring into my ears, and this is when I am often struck by what I think has potential as a blog post. That is the case with this one.

What does “self respect” mean to you?

Fairly Legal, Season One (2011)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Though I watch an alarming, copious number of cop dramas, this legal drama didn’t really sound like my sort of show – surprising given it aired on one of my most favorite networks, but eventually, I did my usual reading up on it plus heard good reviews from a friend, and found it actually did sound promising. Good thing I stuck with it because that reading sure paid off.

Reel Love (2011)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Televised movies tend more towards the silly side. That is just a fact. This one is no different but where others usually hold up with by their cast or script, this one is messier than even the normal.

Chicago is where Holly Whitman (LeAnn Rimes) ran away following her high school graduation. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her family so much as she needed to get away from Alabama where her widowed father couldn’t handle the pressures of two children – instead Holly kept things going. What she ran from was her stifling small hometown. On the brink of one of the biggest cases in her young career as a lawyer, Holly gets a call from her brother that their father has had a heart attack. Not taking the time to do anything but commandeer her boyfriend’s sports car, Holly drives ten plus hours down to the small fishing town only to find that her father has checked himself out of the hospital. Stubborn to a fault and a man who refuses to remember names, Wade Whitman (Burt Reynolds) is not about to let his daughter stick around to care for and fuss over him – he wants her to go back to her successful life in Chicago so that he can get back to his. Despite his annoying hints and bully tactics, Holly is staying put – and the fact that she reconnects with old friends, and a handsome drifter (Shawn Roberts) may change her mind about her past altogether.

The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

About the Book:
Author: Janice Thompson
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: 2012
Series: Backstage Pass - Book 3
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

Tagline: The one thing she cannot direct is her heart

The Story (from the publisher): Tia Morales is used to calling the shots. She’s the director of the popular sitcom Stars Collide, and her life on set is calculated and orderly. Well, most of the time. But her life outside the studio is another matter. If only she could get her family to behave as well as her stars do! When she starts butting heads with handsome camera operator Jason Harris, it’s enough to send a girl over the edge. Will she ever learn to let go and take life–and love–as it comes?

Review: Tia’s story rounds out what has been a “fun” series. Set in the glamorous and glittering, fast-paced world of Hollywood, the books take a unique approach in each storyline – all three angles of filmmaking, acting and writing, are covered. Book one looks at show business from the perspective of actors, followed by the screenplay writer viewpoint, and then directing. Of the three, I think hers was the story I was (subconsciously) most anticipating. Even from the first, meeting Tia and before I knew who the final book was about, I hoped Tia would get a chance to have her story told and indeed Thompson did not disappoint. (Plus it didn’t hamper my enthusiasm that I also hoped a certain cameraman who was a source of irritation to Tia would be leading man potential. *wink*) I loved this little book despite the fact that it was the least wholesome of them all.

Ramona and Beezus (2010)

Though most if not all of you have seen this one (if not, you must check it out!), I haven't been organized enough to get my reviews written up this week  - yet! As a result, I decided to post this "oldie but goodie" but I will have new reviews up later this week!
One of the best, most sweetest films to come along in a long time, those of you who are or were fans (or who have young children in your family) of the books (books that have a reversed title) may be upset at some of the changes implemented but those who are non-readers cannot help but discover this as a wonderful alternative to today’s Hollywood.

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren

Thursday, June 21, 2012

About the book:
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Publisher: David C. Cook
Publication Date: 2012
Series: The Grand Tour - Book 1
Genre: Fiction, Christian Historical
Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: It was the summer of 1913, and Cora Kensington's life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, so is her father's health. Cora is carrying on, helping her mother run their Montana farm until a stranger comes to call, and everything changes. Cora then learns a secret that will radically change her future: she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king who has come to claim her.

Cora is invited to take the "Grand Tour" of Europe, a journey intended to finish a person's education, to solidify an understanding of ancient culture and contemporary refinement. As she travels from England to France with half-siblings she's never known, Cora encounters the blessings of the Kensington family name, as well as the curses. But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes the journey is only beginning.

Faced with the challenge of accepting her father, new family, and the identity that comes with it, Cora also struggles to accept that she is also the daughter of the one true King-a Father who is the only One who can truly heal.

At Risk (2010)

As crime mysteries go, this one isn’t horrible. It boasts an intriguing story and some sharp twists but unfortunately, not even all its big-name stars can recue it; for this little known thriller, that is about all it has going for it.

Iron Man (2008) - The Superhero Who Started the #MCU Legend

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

With the release of The Avengers I wanted to see one more superhero flick to complete my mirage of the fearless heroes who were almost too “big” to be in the same frame let alone in the same film. He was Tony Stark or Iron Man as his alter ego is tagged. What I came away with was this: I liked the cocky billionaire a great deal more than reviews would have me think of him.

From Time to Time (2009)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One of the sweeter productions from the Brits, I cannot help but think this little gem never did reach its full potential.

Royal Pains: Season Three, Volume 1 (2011)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Some medical shows use a hard-to-fathom draw. Most of them are soapy dramas that fill an hour-long time slot with immoral escapades and cover-ups. The exact opposite is true of Royal Pains. True, it is not perfect but this breezy summer crowd-pleaser is sure a lot of fun.

Royal Pains: Season Three, Volume 2 (2011)

Summer’s favorite doctor is back.

Secrets have no place in HankMed’s concierge organization. Or they don’t where its doctor, Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) is concerned. Following the near death of one of his wealthy Hampton clients, Hank is furious to find out he was prescribed the wrong medication by someone at Hampton’s hospital. And he knows who it was: Hampton’s cocky Dr. Van Dyke (Kyle Howard). Fortunately, Hank finds the patient in time to rush him to the hospital but for one of his staff members, the trouble has just begun. Physicians’ Assistant Divya (Reshma Shetty) has had to earn money wherever she can. After a botched arranged marriage by her wealthy and traditional British parents, Divya took a job at Hampton’s Heritage in order to pay back the money her fiancé’s family demands and threatened to sue her for. Her father has cut her off completely which means Divya has not only had to earn her own living but also rent her own place – for the first time in her life, she has to earn a paycheck instead of working because she wants to. Learning that her fatigue caused this horrible accident, Divya takes responsibility but how will her double life – and dishonesty affect her relationship with Hank?  And will she still have a place working for HankMed?

G.I. Joe, the Rise of Cobra (2009)

Friday, June 15, 2012

A summer blockbuster hit, G.I Joe was more than likely released during the height of summer blockbuster season to compete with the likes of Transformers and X-Men. Not as brilliant compared to some, it somehow managed to keep me thoroughly enthralled while on the edge of my seat.

Gone (2012)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Amanda Seyfried is a stereotyped actress. She has a reputation for playing the sweet fiancée or more of the girl-next-door than she does that of an action star – and she does well in those roles. The pretty blue-eyed blonde doesn’t seem to have the right stature it takes to make a good kick-butt kind of star as this role would requite but to her credit, she pulls it off.

Taken (2008)

In recent years, I have begun to enjoy the thrills that action-packed films provide. On occasion they even showcase some tender moments (yes, you read that right, I said, tender). Such is the case for Taken. In a way it’s sweet to think of the love a father held for his daughter (never stopping until she was safe), while at the same time making you cringe at the picture of lifeless bodies strewn everywhere, killed by a merciless man bent on finding his daughter.

Stars Collide by Janice Thompson

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

About the Book:
Author: Janice Thompson
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: 2011
Series: Backstage Pass - Book 1
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5

Tagline: Her future is so bright, she’s gotta wear shades

The Story (from the publisher): Kat Jennings and Scott Murphy don’t just play two people who are secretly in love on a television sitcom–they are actually head over heels for each other in real life. When the lines between reality and TV land blur, they hope they can keep their relationship under wraps. But when Kat’s grandmother, an eccentric star from Hollywood’s golden age, mistakes their on-screen wedding proposal for the real deal, things begin to spiral out of control. Will their secret be front-page news in the tabloids? And can their budding romance survive the onslaught of paparazzi, wedding preparations, and misinformed family members?

Sherlock, Series Two (2011)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Purists of Doyle's works were once all up in a tizzy about this BBC produced show that took the iconic character of Sherlock and plopped him on the streets of 21st century London. Little did anyone know – purist or not, just what a grand success this Masterpiece Theatre series was going to be.

Following in the aftermath of a face-off with his arch nemesis – one that happened to involve guns and a bomb – Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) is bored. He is so bored that he paces and plays his violin for hours on end but every single case that is brought his way is turned down even if his friend and flat mate, John Watson (Martin Freeman) sees potential in it. Then Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) – Sherlock’s staid, elder brother who is prominent in the British government, summons him. Ordered to the royal palace, it would seem that a member of the royal family has gotten themselves in a bind. There are compromising photos of the nameless young woman with another woman known as “The Woman.” This woman makes her living as a dominatrix. Seeing her photo and her website intrigues Sherlock enough to change his mind about the case he had just refused to take only moments before.

The alluring Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) knows of the by-now famous detective Sherlock Holmes. Thanks to Dr. Watson’s popular blog, the woman has heard of Sherlock’s escapades and photos were simply a means to catch the selective private detective’s attentions. Irene has other things in mind for Sherlock Holmes. Irrespective of the promise he made that the photos would be in his brother’s hands by the afternoon, Sherlock is beaten by the equally clever Irene. This sets up a game of battling wits that sets Sherlock on a case to prove he isn’t about to lose his first case.

Honestly, I do not think I have ever seen a show that is as intellectual as this. Sherlock takes murder mysteries to a new level – one that I am afraid is unmatched. Leading up to my seeing this, there was a great many reviewers, passionate writers and bloggers who wrote about the first episode. It was said to be terribly degrading and prone to such offensive content that it was hardly worth salvaging – naturally I played into that because it sounded just awful and I wasn’t sure that I even wanted to watch the first episode, “A Scandal in Belgravia.” Growing up in a conservative home, no matter that I am an adult now I still take issue with profane, needless material, so it is still a “concern” if films portray blatant profanity or immoralities. Right after I bought the set (quite uncharacteristically, it took me a long time before I hit the “pre-order” button), I had made up my mind that I’d either watch the entire episode or not at all – something that was conflicting considering the first series ended up on such an awful situation in which our beloved hero was in terrible danger. (Obviously, the fact that there was a second series suggested everything was cool in Sherlock’s world.) The point of this rambling is that I chose to watch the episode and right or wrong, good or bad, I am going to be honest and say that it may be my favorite episode of the three.

Written by British scripter Steven Moffat, I have been told as a writer, the man is pure genius. Known for his work on another popular British serial, he is no stranger to television. This series has got a great things going for it – not only is it insanely witty but I love that the supporting characters are not forgotten. Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) is still in these as is the cute coroner, Molly (the girl is totally crushing on Sherlock – and I detest him for being so darn mean to her! Fortunately, he makes it up to her in episode 3 but even then we won’t see the results until season three). Watson and Sherlock are still fabulous together which is a credit to the actors who portray them (seriously Benedict is just terrific) – gosh but Watson has patience to live with Sherlock! It is great to know that he isn’t about to sit back and always take Sherlock’s “abuse,” instead he knows when to walk away and it is also not fair to assume Sherlock is uncaring because he is, we just have to look a bit harder to get the “true” story of who Sherlock is. The end result is so worth that search though.

Uncharacteristically, I had read nothing about the ending of these so the end took me by surprise (in a good way!) but I also “knew” that it wasn’t all it seemed because it was after all, Sherlock Holmes. The final episode was just brilliant. I loved that we experienced such a wide range of emotions – happiness, laughter, sorrow, danger, and edge-of-your-seat-suspense – and yet none of it felt misplaced. That is good writing. The final episode, “The Reichenbach Fall” may be the cleverest of the three but the first is the funniest while the one sandwiched in-between seemed the most lethargic – though still unfairly witty. The last twenty minutes of ‘Reichenbach’ are intense but intriguing and dramatic, and it was difficult to see Watson’s reaction to it all. Behind-the-scenes, I love the filming – how it seems to give us a picture inside Sherlock’s uncanny mind and every scene seems to set the mood for every emotion. Writer’s pay tribute to the iconic Sherlock snapping photos of his signature hat on this one and in dressing him in a long overcoat but the thing that I love most in seeing him in our modern world is watching him send off text messages! Gotta’ love that. Everything about the show is just fabulous! I could go on forever about how well and “prefect” everything is during these three hour-and-a-half films but I do have to stop somewhere. Just know that the script, acting and characters, filmmaking and stories are phenomenal and if you are not already among the masses who watch this… give it a try!

Let’s talk: What did you like about season two? What didn’t you like – which season was better? Which episode was your favorite, and why? Comment below.

(Parental Review: E1 has a nude Irene meeting Sherlock with a full shot of her back side before she sits down using her hands to carefully cover everything. There is some conversation about this and we see Watson and Sherlock’s shocked expressions. She is seen in a suggestive outfit entering a room housing a “client.” She once uses her whip to get Sherlock to be “submissive” and there is some suggestive dialogue between them [she remarks that she could have him “twice” and Sherlock is made fun of for his naive sexual experience]. Remarks are made about Watson and Sherlock being gay much to Watson’s mortification – once Watson stumbles upon a car in which two people are having sex [the car is rocking]. There is some violence with guns fired; two men commit suicide [there is blood] and another takes a dive off a skyscraper. One man is murdered by what a boy perceives to be a terrifying creature [there are flashbacks].There is some profanity [bas*tard] and abuse of God’s name. This is rated TV14.) 

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

Whether it is as close as our television screen or at the box office, fairy-tales are making a triumphant return in a big way – and I love that. Earlier this year, the Snow White legend already was given a fresh spin with this blockbuster being the second take on the Grimm legend. Brought to the big-screen by universal with ambitions to become a trilogy, it may have the big-name stars, beautiful special effects and costumes backing it but I am not sure its blockbuster status is enough to win over the masses.

Covert Affairs, Season Two (2011)

If you are curious what to compare this to, think of it as a “soft” version of the now gone ABC show Alias. Having now seen the latter, I can honestly make that leap and not just make educated assumptions; the similarities are not far-fetched. This network has standards and those consist of always producing shows that are whimsical and overall, cheerful. There can be realistic conflict but there does have to be a happy medium. With that being the case, we get to say: Hello, happy. Goodbye, suspense.  

Unfortunately for Annie Walker (Piper Perabo), the reason she joined the CIA – and unbeknownst to her, the only reason she was recruited – is back. CIA novice-in-training, Annie first joined the agency not out of a stoic duty to American patriotism but a guy. Come to find out, Ben was not just any guy Annie met serendipitously, he is Ben Mercer (Eion Bailey), an agent who is presumed to have gone rogue. Seizing their opportunity, the agency recruits Annie hoping she will lead them to Ben. In the aftermath of their joint mission in Sri Lanka along with the assistance of the ambitious fellow field agent Jai Wilcox (Sedhil Ramamurthy), Annie remains with Ben at the Guam Naval hospital during his recovery – up until the point that he vanishes.  

Back home, Annie is reunited with her sister (Anne Dudek) who believes she is nothing more exciting than a Smithsonian employee. Without the resources to find out where Ben is, Annie has to assume that her boss Joan (Kari Matchett) knows where he is, and that means Langley knows where he is so instead of trying to ply more answers out of her by-the-books boss, she focuses on doing the job she is set to – making contact with a Russian informant. With the assistance of her handler and friend, Auggie (Christopher Gorham), Annie is read in with what she’ll need to check in with the asset who missed her last two check-ins – the question is: why?  

Before this show, I think the three-letter government agency that usually came to mind when in the mind-set of what makes good suspense was the FBI. This light, breezy show can hold its own in dishing out a bombshell or two, and is really an intelligent serial. It isn’t your typical spy caper that blows things sky high or uses guns to dodge pursuers instead Annie uses her smarts to escape capture – and is even encouraged in her training program to rely on intellect not brawn. If that is true or fiction, I do not know but whatever, the show grew leaps and bounds from its freshman season. It knew how to better use its characters and to play to their strengths. 
The writer’s of this show like to take us back into the past and re-introduce characters whom Annie met while on missions. Some may find this distracting because you get the feeling that you are supposed to know the character but cannot remember them. In my viewing, I felt like the story-telling and filming did a nice job in reminding us if we needed it but the episodes also stood alone so that it wasn’t imperative to remember in order to find enjoyment in the installment. Most of these characters are men who seem to fall over Annie – each of them have designs on her for some purpose, one that is (usually) only for their own benefit. If there is one subplot I am a tad irritated at, it would be her wishy-washy emotions. She seems (finally) be coming to terms about that Ben isn’t going to be a sure bet, then writers throw multiple romantic possibilities into the mix, and instead of settling on one – giving it the courtesy of being able to blossom in its own time, all of the relationships are danced around, not drawn out to be anything “special.” A lot of fans want to see Annie and Auggie wind up together, and usually I’d be rooting for that also (they are cute together) but for once, I actually don’t mind that this subplot isn’t falling into the clichéd trap of best-friends-falling-for-each-other. Fans of these would-be lovers will enjoy the ending – whereas I found it sort of “out there,” a realization that there was no legitimate place of origin.    

Covert Affairs comes across as a breezy piece of escapism set in an espionage world of spies gathering intelligence but it has grown in its years of television. There is something about the premise of the girl-next-door turning spy that is fun. Piper pulls that off with all the finesse that she needs to be both characters. I must admit that I don’t always love looks stylists try on her as she is more attractive than some of the ensembles make her seem. When all is said and done, her character is what keeps us returning to find out what is next for the globe-trotting super spy, Annie Walker. Some of the characters fall this season, some of the characters I found myself second-guessing and others I empathized with on a new level. Fortunately, the finale isn't a cliff-hanger in the traditional sense but as previously alluded to, I have issues with its ending. Considering that, there is nothing overt about this gem of a series – everything is a mystery.  

(Rated TV14 for occasional violence [Annie doesn’t carry a gun]; weapons are drawn and fired on people – some barely escape with their life. Women wear inappropriate clothing, including Annie in her form-fitting business attire. Profanity is infrequent but there may be a few instances of it. A man engages in a fling with a stewardess while on an extended trip and then with a former Special Forces friend’s sister; there are some sensual scenes in this context with characters in states of undress.)

Man on a Ledge (2012)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

If you’ve seen the trailer for this, then you have all but been given the high points and low points of this crime drama. Still… although this isn’t Academy-Award winning material, there is a decent, capable writer keeping the story-telling tightly woven into a satisfying premise and in that, it manages a plot that is entertaining if not brilliant.

Winning Balance by Shawn Johnson

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

About the Book:
Author: Shawn Johnson
Publisher: Tyndale
Publication Date: 2012
Genre: Autobiography, General

There probably are not many of us who have not heard of the pint-sized, gold-medal-winning gymnast who won over the heart of America at the 2008 Olympic Games. If her name is not familiar from the sport she excels in, then you probably “met” her on the eighth season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars (which she also won). 

This book is a journal of sorts that she has written for her fans about her life so far – her growth in maturity and her faith; the lessons life has taught her and getting back to the place where she is more happy – and healthy. It is rare that I read books in which the celebrity name emblazoned on the front shares their life story. My tastes seem more suited to fiction but I do not regret having read this book in the least. If you’ve followed this athlete, I’d wager that in reading this, you will learn a lot of things about Shawn you didn’t know. Some that may even surprise you.

Suits, Season One (2011)

Monday, June 4, 2012

USA Network shows are not only well produced but they have “something” that is missing from the majority of primetime television. They make us sit up and take notice. The scripts are not “just” funny, the seasons are actually collectively intelligent shows that wage battles of wills and as a bonus, some truly fantastic wit.

Bunheads Pilot - 1.01 (2012)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Much to my own surprise I have found numerous of ABC Family's shows some of the most fun that I’ve ever watched. They are what I like to call my “mindless” pieces of television fluff. Dance is the subject of their latest TV show, and manages to engage the viewer but are rarely all that “deep.” Each of them seem to allow for a rare type of happiness captured on film and most the time there is usually something to think about. This one seems the less intelligent of the two I’ve watched in their entirety. This pilot episode has promise and I am cautiously optimistic it has enough sparkle to enjoy long-term success.

Femnista: Literary Ladies

The wait is over! The May/June issue of Femnista is here. Remember the "Literary Men" issue? This time around, we cover memorable leading ladies from the works of Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell,  plus some newer faces from our contemporary world of fiction - some of whom you may find delight in discovering. I hope you all enjoy paging through this issue as much as I did - and as much as you did the edition filled with dashing leading men. Click on the link below to download this issue to print out  and read at you leisure or page through it by clicking on the tab "read Femnista" on the right-hand sidebar.

Next comes the Fantasy/Sci-Fi issue. That one, you can be sure will be packed full of all sorts of great adventures, princesses... and some cool superheros. To finish out the year, there will be a "true story" issue and one dedicated to Tolkien. Now, readers, we'd love to have your input - what topic would you like to see spotlighted in 2013? Is there one Femnista hasn't covered that you've been awaiting? If so, let us know - and let us know how this issue turned out!


Femnista: Literary Women - May/June 2012

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