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Whiplash
Whiplash
DVD ~ Miles Teller
Price: $14.99
19 used & new from $13.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Blood, sweat, and MORE blood., March 23, 2015
This review is from: Whiplash (DVD)
"Whiplash" is definitely one of the best films of 2014. To be honest, it's also one of the best films I've seen in a long, long time. I'm not a fan of jazz music but I still felt profound enjoyment watching this brutally-sharp film. The performances by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are spectacular. I was shocked that Teller was overlooked during award season. His performance was just as intense as Simmons' performance. And I felt like Teller had to work even harder to prove his dedication. Not only was his role physically demanding, but it must have been emotionally taxing as well. Of course we all know that Simmons won a much-deserved Oscar for best supporting actor. He owns and steals every scene he is in. Wow. The way he enters the room is electric. He demands attention and respect. A fearless performance indeed. This film stays with you. I watched it almost 2 weeks ago and I'm still thinking about it. "Whiplash" is beautifully directed and well-written. It's fierce, shocking, sly, and simply breathtaking. You think one thing is going to happen and something else happens instead. Surprises and revelations at every corner. A must-see for sure. I highly recommend it. Enjoy!


The Girl on the Train: A Novel
The Girl on the Train: A Novel
by Paula Hawkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.60
178 used & new from $10.32

5.0 out of 5 stars "I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head...", March 17, 2015
"The Girl on the Train" kept me thoroughly entertained. Paula Hawkins is a great, promising writer. The protagonist, Rachel is a train wreck (no pun intended). She's unemployed, divorced, and a deeply depressed alcoholic. She commutes to "work" by train. She pretty much has no life, but she's a vulnerable soul so it's not hard to feel sympathy for her. She has a strange obsession with Scott and Megan Hipwell, (a seemingly happily married couple) with whom she sees through her train window every morning. She nicknames the couple Jason and Jess since she doesn't know their real names. One day, Rachel sees Megan kissing someone, but that someone is not her husband. Rachel's illusion of Megan is completely shattered. She becomes enraged and feels deep empathy for Megan's husband, since Rachel knows what it's like to be cheated on. Rachel's ex-husband, Tom left Rachel for another woman, Anna. Rachel suffers from blackouts (due to her alcoholism). Something happens and a chain of events start to unravel which changes the lives of Rachel, Tom, Megan, Jason, and Anna forever. Each chapter has a different 1st person narrative: Rachel, Megan, and Anna. I found it difficult to relate to Megan and Anna. Their characters were so unlikable. Megan and Anna don't really have any redeeming qualities. Rachel is no walk in the park but like I said, she is the ONLY character I felt a connection to. Her chapters were the most exciting to read. Towards the end of the novel, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen but overall, I truly enjoyed reading "The Girl on the Train". Well-written and intriguing. Enjoy!


Rebel Heart
Rebel Heart
Price: $15.88
37 used & new from $9.60

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I had a fire burning in my heart...", March 13, 2015
This review is from: Rebel Heart (Audio CD)
She's back!!! Madonna continues to amaze me with the release of her 13th studio album, "Rebel Heart". You'd think by now, she would've ran out of ideas, but it's safe to say - this little vixen still has some tricks up her sleeve. I've been a loyal fan since the groundbreaking epic, "Ray of Light". But she's been writing timeless, infectious pop songs for as long as I've been alive. "Rebel Heart" has wonderful variety. Some parts of the record feel a tad uneven, but I think this 19 track juggernaut is her most intimate/reflective album since the highly underrated, "American Life". And my god, how beautiful does she look on the album cover?! Still striking as ever. But enough of that - let's discuss the music!

UPTEMPO/MID-TEMPO TRACKS:

"Living For Love" - An excellent choice for a 1st single. Reminds me a bit of "Like A Prayer" and "Express Yourself". Great piano riff and the pulsating dance beat is electric. I love the message and music video.

"Devil Pray" - Definitely one of the best songs. Lyrically, it's one of Madonna's strongest. Powerful hook. The music ebbs and flows beautifully into the chorus. It's dark and edgy and makes you think about what's most important in life.

"Unapologetic B####" - A flawless dub-step track. Completely original and innovative. Also contains elements of reggae and ska. Madonna sounds confident and well, unapologetic. I love snarky Madonna.

"Illuminati" - This is the first misstep on the record. It's not a bad song, just not one of my favorites. The name-dropping is interesting and I like the techno beat.

"B#### I'm Madonna" - Another song I find disappointing. I feel like Madonna pushed it too hard. Trying to please a younger crowd. But I appreciate her tenacity. The rap courtesy of Nicki Minaj is lukewarm.

"Iconic" - This song has numerous tempo changes, a killer cheerleading-style hook, and catchy chorus. This song gives me whiplash but somehow it works. An unexpected surprise.

"Holy Water" - Lyrically, it's very tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended). Classic Madonna. Naughty and risqué. Excellent synths but the arrangement is a bit lazy. It's ok but not a standout.

"Best Night" - A moody but sexy love song. The music is not overdone. Reminds me a bit of "Justify My Love" with the breathy vocals during the bridge.

"Veni Vidi Vici" - I really like this song. The rap solo by Nas is decent, but slightly distracting. Madonna sure knows how to write and sing a hook. Melodic and introspective.

"S.E.X." - It's sultry but forgettable. I don't hate it but it's predictable. Sorry.

THE BALLADS:

"Ghosttown" - First, I have to say that I've always been tender-hearted towards Madonna's ballads. This is where her talent shines through. The way she emotes is exquisite. It's palpable. And her delivery is always perfection. This track is mesmerizing. I hope she releases it as a future single. Dark and haunting. Madonna has never sounded better.

"Hold Tight" - Love the middle-eastern influence throughout the track. Creative and magical.

"Joan of Arc" - Lyrically, it's raw and heartbreaking. When Madonna allows herself to be vulnerable - it's quite spectacular. I love everything
about this song. Madonna is a strong woman but even hurtful words can leave a lasting, emotional scar.

"Heartbreak City" - I get teary-eyed when I listen to this song. It's so sad. The arrangement is big and glorious. Madonna's vocals are gorgeous on this track. And people say Madonna can't sing! Ugh.

"Body Shop" - I adore this track. It's laid-back and ultra cool. Madonna's vocals are heartfelt and organic. I like the simple arrangement. No fuss, no muss. Absolutely beautiful. Shows Madonna's versatility.

"Inside Out" - This song is so hypnotic and lovely. Don't overlook this underrated beauty. Madonna can do no wrong.

"Wash All Over Me" - Love the gospel choir. Madonna reflects on the crumbling state of our world's humanity. But it's a hopeful song underneath all the pain and anguish. Beautifully arranged and sung. Madonna is a genius. Just saying.

"Messiah" - Ok, this song is RIDCIOULSY GORGEOUS! Feels like a sequel to "Falling Free". Baroque pop arrangement. Flawless vocals yet again. A haunting melody. This track has the power to melt the coldest of hearts. Amazing.

"Rebel Heart" - And now we've come to the title track. Madonna is one smart cookie. A brilliant pop ballad. Fluid, bouncy, and carefree. Another song that makes me choke up. How does this woman do it? She knows how to pull my heart strings for sure.

As you can see, there's a handful of songs that I still feel iffy about. But overall, I immensely enjoyed "Rebel Heart". There's a little bit of everything. You get dance Madonna and sensitive Madonna. And she's definitely fits the definition of a rebel. Madonna has been mocked, ridiculed, and used as a scapegoat since the beginning of her career, but she keeps pushing on - with no regrets . She does what she wants to do. She doesn't compromise her art or integrity. Madonna's music represents strength and independence. Work hard, stay true to yourself, live and love hungrily and never settle for less. Long live the Queen!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 13, 2015 3:08 PM PDT


The Singles 86>98
The Singles 86>98
Price: $14.24
117 used & new from $1.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A vicious appetite visits me each night...", March 4, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Singles 86>98 (Audio CD)
"The Singles 86>98" by Depeche Mode picks up where "The Singles 81>85" left off. The sound quality and variety on this greatest hits collection are pitch perfect. Depeche Mode were one of the most influential bands (and still are) to emerge from the new wave era. Songwriter Martin Gore really made his stride during the late '80s/early '90s. He composed some of the most beautiful and timeless songs. These tracks have aged incredibly well. Nothing generic or fluffy about these pop gems. Gore also sang on a couple of tracks like the breathtaking, "A Question of Lust" and "Home". Anyone who doesn't think "Home" is insanely gorgeous must be insane themselves. Just saying. The instrumental at the end of "Home" is stunning and the lyrics are so emotional. A highly underrated ballad. Lead singer, David Gahan has an equally talented set of pipes. His voice is perfection on "Condemnation" and "Only When I Lose Myself". There's so many great tracks on this GH collection including the hits, "Enjoy The Silence" (the best song of the '80s), "Policy Of Truth", "World In My Eyes" (so sexy), and "Personal Jesus". Every song feels deeply personal like "Stripped" and "Never Let Me Down Again". Everything from the music, to the lyrics, to the production is absolutely phenomenal. And Depeche Mode weren't afraid to take risks. They experimented with grunge, "I Feel You", electronica, "It's No Good", and alternative, "Barrel of A Gun". The results were stellar. I think "Little 15" and "Behind The Wheel" are my favorite tracks. The piano/string arrangement is unbelievable on "Little 15". "Behind The Wheel" is so tantalizing and hypnotic. I highly recommend this amazing collection. This type of music has substance but style as well. Good music, plain and simple. Buy this today. Enjoy!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 17, 2015 7:34 PM PDT


The Singles 81>85
The Singles 81>85
Offered by Customer Direct
Price: $11.55
106 used & new from $0.27

5.0 out of 5 stars "Everything counts in large amounts...", March 2, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Singles 81>85 (Audio CD)
"The Singles 81<85" by Depeche Mode is the perfect way to dive into the iconic band's amazing music. These songs are timeless and unforgettable. Vince Clarke was the chief songwriter for the band, and after he made his short but significant exit - Martin Gore took over songwriting duties. The band's growth and momentum never faltered or diminished. I don't think people realize how IMPORTANT their sound was. An outrageously gifted new wave band. This greatest hits collection has a lot of variety. The band was something special, even in their formative years. You get the early hits like "I Just Can't Get Enough", "Dreaming Of Me", and "New Life". I don't think their music suffered after Clarke decided to leave the band. Martin Gore proved he had the talent and drive to carry on. He tweaked the band's glossy new wave sound into a more polished, darker sound. You can notice the subtle changes on "Get The Balance Right" (one of my favorites) and "The Meaning of Love". The band continued to evolve with the pop juggernaut, "People Are People" and the edgy, "Master And Servant". I truly feel the band really hit their peak with "Blasphemous Rumours". That track has a brooding, almost industrial sound. Definitely the best track on this collection. David Gahan was the primary singer for the band, but sometimes Martin Gore would take over lead vocals. You can hear Gore's beautiful voice on the heartfelt ballad, "Somebody". That song always gives me chills. But Gahan is also a talented vocalist. His voice is low and sexy, and he's got the rock & roll attitude/swagger to match. I also enjoy "Shake The Disease" (highly underrated) and a special mix of "Photographic" (love the synths). If you're a fan of '80s music then this collection is calling your name. I also recommend "The Singles 86>98" as well. A great continuation of the band's commercial breakthrough years. Enjoy!


More Songs About Buildings & Food
More Songs About Buildings & Food
Price: $15.29
88 used & new from $2.30

5.0 out of 5 stars "Absolute trust keeps me going in the right direction...", February 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Talking Heads' second studio album, "More Songs About Buildings & Food" is nonstop fun - minus the silly album title. David Byrne really "flexed" his unique songwriting ability on tracks like "Stay Hungry" (a moody dance track), "Warning Sign" (love the cool bass solo, courtesy of Tina Weymouth), and the Bruce Springsteen-esque, "The Big Country". There's also a ultra-cool cover of Al Green's, "Take Me To The River". Brian Eno co-produced this album with the band. The results are stellar and timeless. Nothing on this records sounds dated. The music still sounds fresh and innovative especially on the classic, "Found A Job". Anyone who doesn't love that song must be crazy! The killer outro is legendary. I really like "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel" and "The Good Thing". Definitely 2 of the Talking Heads' most accomplished and beloved songs. "With Our Love" is also a standout. So fun and quirky. There really isn't one bad song in the bunch. Every track has so many layers and tempo changes. Nothing is stale or repetitive. "The Girls Want to Be With The Girls" and "I'm Not In Love" are mini-masterpieces. And finally, "Artists Only" is pure avant-garde. I don't think people of my generation have a clue how amazingly talented the Talking Heads were. Classic new-wave music. It doesn't get any better than this, folks. I highly recommend this album. It's THAT good! Enjoy.


Tampa: A Novel
Tampa: A Novel
by Alissa Nutting
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.33
82 used & new from $6.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Sick in the head., February 15, 2015
This review is from: Tampa: A Novel (Paperback)
Alissa Nutting's debut novel, "Tampa" is deliciously wicked. This book might upset some so keep in mind, the plot is deeply disturbing. "Tampa" is designed to shock and rattle your core. The protagonist (if you can call her that) is deeply flawed and unrepentant. Celeste Price is a 26 year-old junior high school English teacher residing in Florida. She's unhappily married to a police officer, Ford - whom she unapologetically married for financial gain (of course Ford is unaware of that). Ford comes from a wealthy family and Celeste is his spoiled, self-entitled princess. She's basically arm candy for him. Ford has no clue that Celeste has a sick and unsettling secret. Celeste is sexually attracted to 14 year-old boys. Hence, why she became a teacher. She purposely found a career where she can live out her "fantasies" and "desires". Yes, she's a self-described, "soulless pervert". She's also extremely self-centered. She uses her good looks to excuse her troubling behavior. It's clear and obvious that Celeste is a sexual sociopath. She feels no guilt and never displays the slightest hint of remorse for her actions. She is on the "hunt" to find a boy who's impressionable, vulnerable, and can keep a secret. Celeste's main concern is getting caught. Everything or anyone else is just background noise. My only gripe with "Tampa" is I wish there was more backstory about Celeste's childhood. We only get a short chapter in the beginning as to why Celeste has an unhealthy fascination for underage boys. Otherwise than that, I find this novel highly entertaining. There are a lot of graphic sex scenes so beware of that if you're not comfortable reading about an adult woman having sex with a minor. Celeste is a horrible, horrible woman. She's a protagonist you are NOT supposed to like or root for. But I had to chuckle at how utterly damaged her mind is. Celeste says some outrageous things in "Tampa". She knows how to manipulate, deceive, and deflect blame like only a true sociopath can. Bravo to Alissa Nutting. Her prose is razor-sharp, and her use of head-turning metaphors are a breath of fresh air. Enjoy this book if you dare.


Gone Girl
Gone Girl
DVD ~ Tyler Perry
Price: $14.97
38 used & new from $8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crazy like a fox., February 10, 2015
This review is from: Gone Girl (DVD)
I had high hopes for "Gone Girl" after I read the novel last year. The novel is clever, unnerving, dark, smart, funny, and well-written. When I heard the author of "Gone Girl" - Gillian Flynn was writing the screenplay for the movie; I thought it was a genius move. Well, when I finally got around to renting the movie - I was hugely disappointed and utterly annoyed. I guess it's true that authors shouldn't attempt to write screenplays because it's too hard and challenging. The novel is so fascinating and gripping, but the movie is so flat and suffers greatly from huge plot holes. If you read the book beforehand like me, then you know the book has no loose ends. My main problem with the movie is nothing is explained if you happen to be a person who didn't read the novel prior to seeing the film. I actually found myself cringing at a few of the scenes because I knew the best parts of the novel probably would be left out of the movie - hence the obvious plot holes. I think Gillian Flynn thought she could master a flawless transition from book to feature film but she failed. I'm sorry to say that because I think Flynn is an interesting and wickedly gifted writer. Too bad.

There are some saving grace moments from this film adaptation. First being director, David Fincher. I'm a big fan of his previous films. I think he's a visionary. His mind works in mysterious and complicated ways. The second is the charismatic and beautiful, Rosamund Pike - nailing the role of Amy Dunne. I haven't seen in her in many films prior to "Gone Girl" but I find her absolutely fascinating. She is the perfect Amy. Her icy and calculated performance has earned her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Rosamund is a dedicated actress. She had to gain weight and lose weight and gain it again over the course of filming. The third best thing about "Gone Girl" is the cinematography. Beautifully shot. The editing is well-crafted as well.

I'm also sorry to say that Ben Affleck has continued to disappoint me with his acting ability. In some ways, he was a good choice to portray Nick Dunne. Nick is smug and aloof just like Affleck. But I have to admit, a freaking turtle has more emotion than Affleck could ever possess. Affleck is a stiff and boring actor. I was not impressed or blown away by his wooden performance. He's forgettable. Some of the supporting acting I found fake and overdone. Too many stereotypes of southern people. Bad southern accents and unrealistic, hokey characters. Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry were also disappointing. I didn't believe they were Desi and Tanner. This movie just didn't work. Too many unanswered questions and distractions. I found it silly and pretentious. None of the characters had any depth or intrigue besides Amy.

I highly recommend reading the novel instead. This story of a wife going missing on her 5th wedding anniversary just didn't work as a feature film. The novel covers so much more ground and backstory. And I felt uncomfortable watching some of the raunchy sex scenes. Some big and important elements were changed for the film that I didn't like. Amy's strained relationship with her parents was never discussed in the film. The demise of Nicks affair with Andie was never fully explained. And the ending felt incomplete and draggy. The book is brilliant, the film is well...not. I guess you can't please everyone. Oh well. It's a mixed bag for me.


Fear of Music
Fear of Music
Price: $4.99
108 used & new from $0.32

4.0 out of 5 stars "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco...", January 31, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Fear of Music (Audio CD)
Talking Heads' 3rd studio album, "Fear of Music" is delightfully weird. Out of all their studio albums, this one in particular took me the longest to warm up to. "Fear of Music" has a tendency to sound disjointed and unfinished. Some of the tracks sound fresh and unique, while others sound dated and slightly pretentious. But underneath all that weirdness, David Byrne was a gifted musician. He never wrote about the same things twice. His songs were full of variety, different textures, and oddball observations. The rest of the band were outrageously talented as well. The band's chemistry was evident and strong on this record. "Fear of Music" is not my favorite album by them but there's something strangely inviting about this album from 1979. There are a couple tracks that I don't entirely enjoy like "Drugs". The song is too minimalistic and lyrically, it's kind of boring. "Electric Guitar" is another track that doesn't impress me much. It's dull and flat. But the rest of the tracks are diverse and memorable starting with the opener, "I Zimbra". "Animals" is insane and absolutely frightening. "Cities" is the best track. So freaking catchy and timeless. "Mind" and "Paper" are quirky and unconventional pop tunes. "Air" is another winner. The tempo changes are excellent. A highly underrated gem. Of course the standout track is "Life During Wartime". Paranoia at its finest. A classic. "Heaven" is drop-dead gorgeous. And "Memories Can't Wait" was ahead of its time. It's grungy, depressing, and simply irresistible. Talking Heads were the definition of avant-garde. "Fear of Music" was co-produced by Brian Eno. They sure don't make music like this anymore! Give this dark and brooding album a try. Enjoy!


This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel
This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel
by Jonathan Tropper
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.27
240 used & new from $1.10

5.0 out of 5 stars "It's a complicated legacy.", January 23, 2015
"This Is Where I Leave You" is my first introduction into the brilliant and zany mind of author, Jonathan Tropper. Tropper's writing style is quick-witted, razor-sharp, and 100% all heart. Tropper does an extraordinary job balancing between light-hearted fun and gut-punching emotional depth. The novel's protagonist, Judd Foxman is a complex and wayward man. Judd is going though a serious rough patch after his wife of almost a decade, Jen is caught having affair with Judd's boss, Wade. Judd is also dealing with a recent family tragedy. His father, Mort has lost his battle with cancer. Judd returns to his childhood home for his father's funeral. The Foxman family is well....a unique sort of bunch. He is told my his older sister, Wendy that their dad wanted them to sit Shiva for 7 days (a Jewish tradition). The plot is simple but the humor is enormous! Judd's mother is highly inappropriate, his sister, Wendy doesn't like to beat around the bush, his older brother, Paul is cold and self-righteous, and his baby brother, Philip is the "screw-up" of the Foxman clan. They put the 'fun' back in dysfunctional! I really enjoyed all the hilarious twists and turns of this novel. This family is insane but highly entertaining. I enjoyed the complexity of Judd's emotional baggage. He felt like a real person to me. Judd is relatable but also rough-around the edges. He doesn't always say the right thing but he's learning and growing as he goes along. I thought the chapter where Judd recounts the traumatic event that caused life-altering friction between him and Paul was eye-opening and deeply moving. I also liked the chapter where Judd gets revenge on Wade and reconnects with his high-school crush, Penny. Some family secrets are exposed during the 7-day Shiva, some are somber and some are completely hysterical. I loved this book. I can't really say anything bad about it. It's quirky and well-written. I can't wait to see the movie. This will NOT be my last Jonathan Tropper novel. I highly recommend "This Is Where I Leave You". Enjoy!


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