Easy A – Smart and Adorable

How does a typical American college/ high school movie work? ? There is this cool looking school/ college with lots of young people strutting around in minimal to decent clothings doing basically nothing. Listening to music, running around, playing ballgames, ogling at girls etc. They do everything but attempt to study. In comes a stranger, a loner to begin with who is ridiculed for being a geek or somewhat different in his/her fashion and style. He befriends some nice people and then tries to be more popular by finding supposedly even better people. Gets involved with hot partner of opposite sex, changes himself/ herself , almost overnight changes happen to his/her life. There are parties and lots of booze and sex and everything you associate with young crowd. Almost forgets his old pals and then by the end realization dawns, he/she re-aligns to his/ her old style, finds the forgotten path and goes back to older friends and also ends up with hot looking girl or guy respectively and thats how we end a college  movie. A typical date movie as they call it.

Easy A , starring Emma Stone follows more or less the same path except that its witty and Olive played superbly by Emma Stone isn’t half as dumb as most leads in college movies. She is a simple girl who in an attempt to grab attention lies about losing virginity and then the news spreads faster than a wildfire and everybody in high school assumes she is a slut and then she continues her act to remain popular and also to help others. She does wrong things, tells more lies, tarnishes her own reputation and fakes sexual encounters only for the greater good of other people in return for some lousy gift coupons.  She knows she is doing it all wrong and wants to correct it all but she has to carry her act of portraying herself as school slut without actually doing sex just as to protect his friends and teachers reputations and families.

Of course everything gets corrected by the end and it ends the same way as most college movies. The difference here being the script which keeps you hooked in telling the story in a novel way and the best part about the movie is its lead actress Emma Stone,  who gives a breakthrough performance in the movie and literally shoulders the entire movie. She looks good and acts even better. The supporting cast of Stanely Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, Amanda Bynes,  Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow  is nice too but Emma Stone announces her arrival on big stage with this film. She is the star to watch out for.

This film directed by Will Gluck is worth a quick DVD watch and I would recommend it when you dont need anything heavy to watch and just some light hearted fun.

My Ratings: 7/10 –  Smart and Adorable movies with witty dialogues and fantastic acting by Emma Stone

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The Books I Read – The Confession – John Grisham

The Confession is yet another ‘legal thriller’ from John Grisham. John Grisham has written legal thrillers of various kinds but recently in last few years his books have taken a certain theme of promoting certain causes which he himself is keen follower in real life. One of the causes he advocates is abolishing death penalty and in this book presents a fictional case which justifies the cause.

The book has a very good premise of an innocent black man Donte Drumm all of 19, caught for a crime he did not commit, tried in courts, fake evidences presented, erroneous testimonies and he is sent on the death row to be executed by the state of Texas. Just a few days before his execution the real killer Travis Boyette confesses his crime to a pastor in the church in Kansas. The book describes the 4 days in which the pastor, the real killer and the defense attorney Robbie Flak try their last minute effort to save the innocent man caught for the murder he didn’t commit. There is a race to file petitions and appeals and gather evidence including the dead body,  the story clearly asks its readers to think about the morality of the capital punishment.

The book describes the events in quite details and sometimes provides information more than that is needed as well. The author establishes a solid back story for most of the characters and goes in details of the American  judiciary system and the racial divide in the American southern states. As like most Grisham novels the lead characters are almost super heroic and does all kinds of things expected from him but then its a minor fault.

The book at times becomes too much informative and doesn’t move at a rapid pace. The book’ plot is quite linear and with a very few twists and turns you already know what is about to happen at most times. The author highlights the racial divide in the society a bit too much as well. But no one knows the southern states more than Grisham and the detailing of judiciary and police system provided by the author is unmatched. Morality of Death Penalty is the question in reader’s mind and is answered quite well by the end of the book.

I would recommend this only to die-hard John Grisham fans. Quite slow at times and you can easily skip some pages and do not miss much. It is certainly not as good as some of his best.

My Ratings : 7/10 – for Die hard Grisham Fans only

Books I Read – The Cobra – Hisses but not enough Venom

Frederick Forsyth is a well respected fiction novel author amongst a generation of fiction lovers. His books like The Day of the Jackal and Odess File have been read and appreciated by millions. A new book from the master storyteller is keenly awaited. His latest is The Cobra.

However, The Cobra does not come anywhere near the bestsellers I mentioned above. The intensity is not the same, however must say the premise of the story is very interesting and reflects the headlines of the world.

The premise is that the President of USA decides to go all out against the Cocaine trade of the Colombian Cartel and gives full resources, money and man power to ‘Cobra’, who is a retired CIA officer Paul Devereux. Cobra takes up the task and assembles a team of agents like him including Cal Dexter from Forsyth’s earlier novel Avenger. He assembles his private army, navy and even an air force with communication satellites at his disposal and support of American and British leaders and forces, he first plans and then takes on the Colombian Cocaine Cartel by targeting the transport and distribution methods of the cartel via land, sea and air.

The story is about ‘The Cobra’ however it follows Cal Dexter more. There is not much character development and the story telling is narrative and has very less dialogues or interactions. The drug lord’s character is also not powerfully developed. It is like that the author is informing us of various things happening and we just flow with all the information he provides. From Jungles of Colombia to Landing ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg and West African hellhole countries like Guinnea Bissau to Shipyards of India to Mafia land of Italy and from Turkish thugs to British Agencies to Dutch rogues to Spanish authorities to Mexican gang lords the story moves all around the world swiftly and sometimes provides more information then you can handle. Some of the information seems to be inspired from world headlines while some them is well, fiction.

The novel does give real insight into the world of cocaine production, illegal transportation and distribution and how it reaches the snorting end user. There is sufficient amount of research done by the author and the kind of detailing he provides is matchless. The conclusion to the book is bit anti-climactic and does have minor twists. However the novel never rises above the mediocre and is certainly not the best work by the author. The author does seem to be losing grip on his writing as well and the plot development, character back stories, human emotional quotient is bit missing here. If broadly classified then its a simple good old America and Western powers Vs. bad third world countries story.

I would recommend only die-hard Fredrick Forsyth fans to read it. I know I would have still read it even if I had read this review earlier.

My Ratings: 5.5/10 Cobra hisses but does not have much venom

Everybody’s Fine – Not So

I came across ‘Everybody’s Fine’ starring Robert De Niro along with Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell. Considering the mighty starcast I assumed the film would be good watch.

The movie is a family drama with Robert De Niro playing Frank Goode, a recently widowed father to 4 childeren who live across various parts of USA. On cancellation of their reunion plan he decides to visit them each and finds out more about their lives then he ever knew. De Niro plays his part very well and looks more intense then actually needed for the role. The role did not have enough challenge for an actor of his calibre yet he played it with enough seriousness. The other stars who all plays De Niro’s childeren do not have large enough and well defined roles. The movie is mostly about De Niro travelling across length and breadth of USA and learning truth about all of his children. He realizes that what he had dreamt for each of his children is not what the children have achieved and yet his guidance played a crucial role in them choosing their life’s path.

The movie was a typical American family drama to be viewed during a Christmas or thanksgiving. The movie was not bad and not very good either. One can watch any movie starring De Niro and not be disappointed. This one is just par .

My Ratings : 6/10 –  Watch it for De Niro in a role not meant for him.