Thursday, July 30, 2009

Candor Review

Candor - Pam Bachorz
*September 22nd, 2009 EgmontUSA

In a town where his father brainwashes everyone, Oscar Banks has found a way to secretly fight the subliminal Messages that turn even the most troubled kids into model citizens. On the outside, he's the perfect Candor teen, and no one knows that he's built an entire business around helping new kids escape before the Messages take hold.

But then Nia Silva moves to town, and Oscar thinks she's perfect exactly the way she is. Soon he must make a choice: let Nia be lost to the brainwashing, or help her stay special and risk himself in the process.

Nowadays, we want YA sci fi that pushes the envelope. Something innovative, curiosity-probing, thought-provoking. Pam Bachorz's Candor more than delivers on that front. With an intriguing characters and a chilling plot line, Candor offers a fresh perspective on the "classic sci-fi themes of conformity and mind control" (back cover).

The first person present tense works very well here. It draws the audience in, sharing the experience live as the events unravel. Oscar - the cheeky little bugger's a very interesting leading man. Bachorz characterizes him exceptionally; intricate details and little asides add depth to his character, flaws add realism. Sherman, oh Sherman, what great comic relief thou dost offer! Mandi too; sure, at first glance it seems Candor has brainwashed them into the perfect teenagers, playing their roles perfectly. But can individuality ever be fully quenched? Quite a stroke of brilliance really - Bachorz manages to subtly add unique quirks to differentiate each character and explore the theme of individuality vs. conformity, nature vs. nurture.

And then of course there's Nia. Spunky, fun, rebellious Nia, whom Oscar falls for. Bachorz conveys their relationship beautifully. Oscar's thoughts of the physical are amusing asides, but also add a realm of realism, to keep it from turning to fluffy sap. There's a real progression shown in Candor, of how they develop, eventually relating on a sensual side. And that is something that takes a lot of skill - something that Bachorz completed masterfully. (I would've liked to have seen a little more interaction between the two before the "L" word popped, maybe a little more playful banter, but that's just me.)

As for the setting, the "world-building" so to speak, Candor presents a very skewed view of society - skewed, but somehow still realistic. The Messages, the mind control, Bachorz implemented the concept beautifully throughout. The new technology, the descriptions thereof - just like Campbell Banks built the city of Candor from the ground in the middle of a swamp, Bachorz took words, ideas, and built them into "perfect" concepts and inventions. The way typical stereotypes are dealt with is very interesting.

Candor is very fast-paced, very edge-of-your-seat, and exceptionally hard to put down. If you must do so for some reason, I would suggest taking that break before hitting the mid-point, because it only accelerates, and by that point, you'll be as hooked on Candor as its residents are addicted to the Messages. The ending - wow. Just wow. It was definitely hard to absorb at first, but now, I couldn't imagine Candor ending any other way. How many brilliant YA novels have had their impact diminished due to a floundering ending? Not Candor though, oh no, the ending here fits as perfectly as if it were custom-made in Candor, a work of Campbell Banks himself. If at all possible, it even augments the impact, the memorability of the story itself.

Spine-tingling and thought-provoking, Candor brings up the probing concepts of mind control and how to force conformity from that. Bachorz has pulled off quite the debut here. In fact, I'm starting to wonder - has she pulled an Oscar Banks herself and inserted subliminal Messages into the book? Perhaps, "Candor is perfect. You will love it."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ash Review

Ash - Malinda Lo
*September 1st, 2009 Little, Brown & Company

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, re-reading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Malinda Lo's Ash is a stunning debut! The story, the characters, the world comes alive like Lo has sprinkled it with fairy dust. It's pretty safe to judge Ash by its cover; the beautiful cover is fairly indicative of the interior. With Ash, Lo has taken the basic threads that comprise the timeless tale of Cinderella, rewoven them, and like the fairy godmother, waved her magic pen and transformed a pumpkin into a magnificent coach.

One of the things that stands out the most is definitely Lo's writing style. The diction choice, the phrasing, the tone... there's something especially melodic about her descriptions, almost achingly beautiful in places.

"The rhythm was echoed in the sound of her mother's fingers on the fabric of her dress, a subtle swoosh in the dark, up and down, up and down, the friction like a rope binding them together" (Lo 74).

Through the ethereal descriptions, the setting really comes alive, immersing the audience in Ash's world. Something about the voice - Lo has captured the fairy tale tone almost perfectly. There are moments where the language does seem a little reminiscent of the present, but that also draws the reader closer into the alternate realm. Over the years, various retellings of Cinderella have cropped up (e.g. Ella Enchanted, Just Ella, etc.), but there have been none like this. Ash is something else entirely; Lo has practically created a whole new fairy tale.

And throughout the course of Ash, there are various fairy tales that are part of Ash's world. These I found to be a very nice touch, and added realism, but also irony. They were very enjoyable mini-stories to explore. At 264 pages, Ash could have seen a little more character development with addition of a couple extra pages, but then again, some removal from the audience may be needed to maintain the fairy tale aura. In any case - Ash, Kaisa, Sidhean, the stepsisters... all very intriguing and well-written characters.

Not only that, but the relationships between the characters were conveyed very nicely as well. Ash is quoted as being "a lesbian retelling of
Cinderella", but it's also so much more than that. It's a new sort of fairy tale (that could potentially spark a revival?), a story of loss, love, and life. The relationship that forms between Ash and Kaisa is very pure, very beautiful. The situation between Ash and Sidhean and the surrounding circumstances were a very nice - albeit sad and ironic - twist.

It seems the fairies must've aided with casting spells, because Ash is a spellbinding debut. Lo has created a truly remarkable story here - a real fairy tale.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In My Mailbox [16]

In My Mailbox, a weekly meme, is inspired by Alea and the brainchild of Kristi...

Candor - Pam Bachorz

In a town where his father brainwashes everyone, Oscar Banks has found a way to secretly fight the subliminal Messages that turn even the most troubled kids into model citizens. On the outside, he's the perfect Candor teen, and no one knows that he's built an entire business around helping new kids escape before the Messages take hold.

But then Nia Silva moves to town, and Oscar thinks she's perfect exactly the way she is. Soon he must make a choice: let Nia be lost to the brainwashing, or help her stay special and risk himself in the process.

All Unquiet Things - Anna Jarzab

All Unquiet Things centers around the murder of teen heiress Carly Ribelli, who was found shot to death a mile from her house in a wealthy Northern California suburb. Carly’s uncle, a dissolute alcoholic, was convicted of the crime, but a year later his daughter still doesn’t believe her father is guilty. Determined to prove his innocence, Audrey Ribelli contacts Carly’s ex-boyfriend, Neily Monroe, the boy who found Carly’s body. She is convinced that he knows more than he thinks about the events that led up to Carly’s death. Despite Neily’s initial reluctance, he and Audrey begin their investigation at the posh private school they attend, identifying prime suspects from among their spoiled classmates and digging up secrets about Carly’s past to get to the truth behind her murder.

The ARC I received from Anna is also signed, and she included a brief note on a bookmark as well (for a total of six bookmarks!), which was really awesome. The little doll pin is also adorable - check out Anna's site for details as to why the doll. Thanks, Anna!

So, now it's your turn. What was in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Candor Book Trailer (& Contest)

Candor - Pam Bachorz
Oscar Banks has everything under control. In a town
where his father brainwashes everyone, he's found a way
to secretly fight the subliminal Messages. He's got them
all fooled: Oscar's the top student and the best-behaved
teen in town. Nobody knows he's made his own Messages
to deprogram his brain. Oscar has even found a way to
get rich. For a hefty price, he helps new kids escape
Candor, Florida before they're transformed into
cookie-cutter teens. But then Nia Silva moves to Candor,
and Oscar's carefully-controlled world crumbles.

, which will be released September 22nd, 2009, has already been subject to numerous rave reviews. A book with such an awesome premise and writing deserves and equally awesome trailer, and that's something that Candor has definitely got. Check out the awesome book trailer below - deliciously chilling with spot-on synchronized audio, imaging, and transitions, it'll leave you craving for more. You've been warned ;)

And after you've watched the trailer, pop by the fabulous Pam Bachorz's contest.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Interview: Amy Efaw

Awhile ago, I reviewed Amy Efaw's novel After (August 11th, 2009 - Viking) here, and for those of you who've seen the review, you may recall my marvelling over the tense/perspective choice. Being the awesome person that she is, Amy zapped over a message regarding that, and I was able to tack on a few more additional questions for an interview of sorts. She is also the author of the highly rated Battle Dress (Nov 4, 2003 - HarperTeen). So without further ado, Lucid Conspiracy presents Amy Efaw, ladies and gents!

To start off which, the query from my review: why third person, present tense?
You were pretty much on target in your review about why I chose the third person present perspective. I did feel that the reader definitely needed some distance (a “sense of removal”) from Devon. Being right inside her head would’ve been too intense, but also very unreliable and chaotic. At the beginning of the story especially, Devon was very unstable and basically “out of it.” Hearing every thought and seeing everything immediately through Devon’s confused perspective would’ve been too much, I think.

But I also chose the third person perspective for the character herself – it’s what made the most sense. Devon had been very dissociated from herself for so long – the whole issue of denying a pregnancy is about compartmentalizing things and disconnecting from reality. But – and you probably noticed this – as the story went on, I slowly zeroed in that third person, getting closer and closer to Devon, until it felt almost like it was written in a first person perspective. Actually, while I was writing the book, I kept thinking to myself that the narrator really was Devon, detached and disconnected from herself, telling her own story as it was happening, as if she were just sitting there watching it unfold before her and reporting about what she observed. I even toyed with the idea of switching the third person to first at some point in the story when Devon was finally starting to come out of her fog and seeing things more clearly. But in the end, I decided that approach would’ve been sort of device-y, and really hard to pull off. The timing would’ve had to been perfect, or it would’ve been too jarring.

And I chose present tense because I wanted the reader to learn the facts of Devon’s past right along with her (just as you said).

Wow, a lot of thought definitely went into deciding the tense/perspective! It's great that your intentions were conveyed so well. If you could meet any character from your book, who would you choose, and what would you guys do for a day?
That is a really tough question! I guess I’d like to meet Dom, who was Devon’s (the main character) attorney in the novel. I can imagine us going to lunch, in a professional sort of setting, and me picking her brain. One of the things I’d want to do is see if I could get Dom to tell me what she really thinks about Devon’s story (meaning, whether or not Dom buys the fact that Devon didn’t know she was pregnant).

I'd probably want to get to know more about Dom as well - she seems really intriguing! And brain-picking is always fun. Speaking of the realm of the fictional - If you could bring any fictional character (book, movie, TV, or any form of media really) to life, who would it be, and why?
Pretty much any book I’ve read or movie I’ve seen that I thought was exceptional, I always wish I could bring that main character to life. I especially like those characters who’ve done heroic things, but who are also complicated (meaning, flawed in some way). Examples that just popped into my head are Mr. Orange (of the movie, Reservoir Dogs) and Billy Costigan (of the movie, The Departed), but I have many others – I just can’t think of them right now. Both of the characters that I mentioned died in the end. I’d want them to continue living because they were so awesome!

Very worthy answers. What do you do when the muse has gone on vacation (i.e. the inspiration is lacking)?
I procrastinate, unfortunately. Actually, I think my procrastination tendencies encourage the muse to go on vacation (She probably thinks, “Why in the world am I hanging around for? I’m just sitting here doing nothing!”).

But, seriously, if I’m “stuck,” I sometimes go for a run or research some minute issue that may pop up in my book, just to be working on something semi-related. Mostly I find other ways to occupy my time so I don’t feel guilty that I’m not writing. Vacuuming or folding laundry or going on a long run often allows me the time and freedom to let my mind work through the problem that’s keeping me from moving forward. But when I have a deadline looming and the above hasn’t worked, I then am forced to push through and write anyway, inspired or not. And most of the time, that “forced” approach works out just fine. I definitely perform best with deadlines kicking me in the butt!

Deadlines, therefore pressure? Well, it's great that it all works out either way! Words of wisdom - share a quote of personal significance?
One afternoon many years ago while I was listening to public radio, Amy Goodman (a foreign news correspondent) said something random in an interview that has stuck with me since. She said, “Go to where the silence is and say something.” This may have been a random comment, but to me it was profound. I felt as if I had received a sort of mission statement. As a writer, “go[ing] to where the silence is” means to me that I should try to write about the things that haven’t yet been explored. I did this with my first book, BATTLE DRESS (which is about a girl going through basic training at West Point and surviving in a guy’s world), and I hope I did it again when I wrote AFTER!

Sometimes the littlest comments made in passing can have the biggest impacts. Now, about the unexpected. What are the best and worst unforeseen things that have come along with this whole process (e.g. the planning, outlining, writing, querying, submitting, publishing, etc.)?
The best unexpected thing that happened while writing AFTER was having the great luck of getting Viking as my publisher and especially Joy Peskin as an editor! She is so awesome! Such a lame adjective to use, I know. But she really “got” what I was trying to do with this book, and she knew just how to push me to make it better.

The worst unexpected thing that happened was that it took me over seven years to write the book! This definitely wasn’t my intention; I had a lot of good reasons, though (it wasn’t just due to procrastination!) First, my family moved from Tacoma to Denver – a major move to a new state really kills your writing time. Second, just when I was settled in Denver and had finally started to get into a writing routine, my husband Andy got deployed to Iraq for a year! Raising five kids all by myself wasn’t very conducive to writing a novel. Even after Andy came home, it took me a long time to get back to writing consistently again. And third, when I was only a chapter or two from completing the novel, my original publisher with whom I had already signed a contract (I won’t mention which it was; I don’t want to embarrass them!) decided to terminate my contract because it had taken me too long to write the book, and they didn’t feel that it fit into the types of books they were publishing anymore.

But, coming full circle, that’s when the “best unexpected thing” happened, and Joy Peskin accepted AFTER, instead. And I have to say, I’m so glad that it worked out the way it did. Unexpected things definitely happen for a reason.

So everything worked out for the best then! Thanks for the great interview, Amy.

And now we have below a brief Q&A with the awesome Amy Efaw, provided by her equally awesome publisher & publicist! A copy of this can also be found here.

1) What inspired you to write this book?
A: I first became interested in “dumpster babies” while living in Philadelphia. One winter day, the big news story was about an off-duty police officer and his pit bull who stumbled across a trash bag that was left with some garbage cans at the curb. The dog just wouldn’t stop barking, so the officer tore open the bag and found a newborn baby inside, still alive. Then a couple of years later, when I was living in Washington State and pregnant with my fifth child, my Army prosecutor husband got his own “dumpster baby” case to try. At that point, I knew that I had to write a novel involving the issue.

2) Is this story based on a real case? Is Devon a real person?
A: After is not based on any one particular person or case. But after spending many hours researching the issue and reading hundreds of newspaper accounts, I found that most “dumpster baby” stories shared some basic characteristics. Out of those characteristics, I was able to compile a profile of the type of teenage girl who might conceal her pregnancy and then throw her baby into the trash. That profiled character became the main character, Devon Sky Davenport.

3) How did your own experiences—personal, professional, or both—impact the writing of this book?
A: I’m very lucky to have worn many “hats” thus far in life—elite college athlete, West Point grad, Army officer, attorney’s wife, mother, freelance reporter, and novelist. While wearing those “hats,” I’ve picked up a lot of important tools that came together for After—soccer knowledge from hours spent on the sidelines as a soccer mom, details of pregnancy from my own five pregnancies, access to my own legal expert (my husband), the ability to track down details from my reporter days, a strong work ethic from my West Point and athletic training, and a pretty good imagination.

4) In After, Devon does a horrible thing—why did you want to tell her side of the story?
A: One afternoon many years ago while I was listening to public radio, Amy Goodman (a foreign news correspondent) said something that has stuck with me. She said, “Go to where the silence is and say something.” At that moment I felt as if I had received a sort of mission statement. As a writer, “going to where the silence is” means to me that I should try to write about the things that haven’t yet been explored. Telling the story of a young girl who had thrown her baby into a trash can definitely fit that category!

5) What would you like readers to take away from After?
A: I definitely would like to bring more awareness to the “dumpster baby” phenomenon. But even more than that, I would like readers to realize how important it is to get involved in other people’s lives. Take a risk and reach out to others even if a mere gut feeling tells you that something is wrong. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. More often than not—whether you offered help or asked for it—you will be happy that you did.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Winner & Updates

Lazy summer days are here, and time seems to travel a little differently, doesn't it? Simultaneously fast and slow. It's been too long already though, so without further ado, the winner of my YA Swag Giveaway is . . .

Congratulations, & zap me over your mailing information. There were a fair few interesting answers to the question If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would it be and why? Pop on over to check out some of the awesome answers.

In other news, and apologies it's taken so long (about a month! oops), the fabulous Darcy of Library Lounge Lizard has nominated Lucid Conspiracy for the Proximidade Award again, which was pretty sweet. Thanks, Darcy! Pop on over by her blog if you get a spare moment, it's pretty awesome.

Unfortunately, there probably won't be an IMM post this week, as nothing came in the post. :(

Sunday, July 12, 2009

In My Mailbox [15]

Give Up the Ghost - Megan Crewe
Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts over “breathers.” Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable, and they know the dirt on everybody…and Cass loves dirt. She’s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school.

But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass’s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her to help him contact his recently deceased mother, and Cass reluctantly agrees.

As Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim’s life, she’s surprised to realize he’s not so bad—and he needs help more desperately than anyone else suspects. Maybe it’s time to give the living another chance….

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eyes Like Stars, Congrats Lisa Mantchev!

Eyes Like Stars by the superduper Lisa Mantchev was released on July 7th, 2009. Having already earned numerous rave reviews, this is definitely one to check out.

In honour of the release, Vania of Reverie Media and Shelly of Write for a Reader are hosting an Eyes Like Stars Extravaganza to celebrate! Pop on over to join in the fun. In the meantime, here's my contribution to the festivities:

Congratulations, Lisa Mantchev!

So, I actually made this a few days ago, and believe it or not, it actually took all day, on and off. The stage frame was painted in acrylic paint, and then sealed with Mod Podge. Puppets were sketched, inked, coloured, sealed, and then affixed to popsicle sticks. And then came the filming and voice recording. After that, the syncing and editting in Windows Movie Maker - man, that program has a personal grudge against me or something! So of course it decides to not save. And since it was on a Vista desktop, the project file then wouldn't open on my XP laptop. Alas, two days later, finally got it worked out.

Unfortunately, I realized today that I kind of screwed up the genders of Bertie's sidekicks. Cut me some slack though, please - haven't had a chance to read the book yet, although I definitely will have to very soon!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Prophecy of the Sisters Review

Prophecy of the Sisters - Michelle Zink
*August 1st, 2009 Little, Brown & Company

Sixteen-year-old Lia Milthorpe and her twin sister Alice have just become orphans, and, as Lia discovers, they have also become enemies. The twins are part of an ancient prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other.

To escape from a dark fate and to remain in the arms of her beloved boyfriend James, Lia must end the prophecy before her sister does. Only then will she understand the mysterious circumstances of her parents' deaths, the true meaning of the strange mark branded on her wrist, and the lengths to which her sister will go to defeat her.

Debut novelist Michelle Zink takes readers on an unforgettable journey where one sister's fateful decision could have an impact of Biblical proportions. Prophecy of the Sisters is the first of three books. Learn more at ProphecyoftheSisters.Com.

Prophecy of the Sisters is the first book in a trilogy - and what a debut it is that Michelle Zink has crafted! With the eloquently formal diction of days gone by and a sinisterly gothic setting, Zink opens a portal to a what feels like an alternate dimension.

Setting is definitely one of Zink's fortes; the dark forebodding tone conjures a deliciously creepy mood that sustains throughout the course of the novel. The imagery in this is very realistic, allowing the audience to imagine the events as they occur very vividly. The diction choice may seem a little odd at the beginning, but once the initial strangeness is overcome, the beautiful phrasing simply serves to draw the audience in deeper. Once the "speed bump" is passed, Zink's enthralling narrative style sinks its teeth into the reader - and doesn't let go. I would suggest making sure you have a large chunk of time laid aside when you begin Prophecy, because it's very hard to put down.

It was pretty uncanny to see some of the concepts in Prophecy of the Sisters - especially since I'd been researching astral projection just prior to reading the book. The prophecy, the ancient tales, the otherworldly aspects - Zink deals with these deftly in a way that's very intriguing for the audience. I, for one, am definitely curious to find out more about some of these things in future books. The shock factor is another thing that's pretty central to Prophecy. Some of those events I didn't see coming, and Zink spins the aftermath in a way that's very raw, very poignant. Unpredictable events always keep readers on their toes, hardly daring to relax.

As it's a first person narrative, the character who we get to know most intimately is Lia. Which is great, as she's the main protagonist. The surprising circumstances surrounding her, the loss she suffers, her vulnerability - they all add to the credibility of her characterization. In the next two books though, I'd really like to see a little more development of some of the minor characters. It was a little aggravating, having figured out a pretty crucial plot point and watching for pages and pages while Lia and her sidekicks struggled to make sense of it. However, this could've been intentionally done as a plot device.

As for the character relationships, the bond between Lia and Alice is definitely an interesting one. It was pretty cool to watch that unfurl throughout the course of the novel, to see just how far (or lack thereof) sisterly devotion stretched. I found the start of Lia and Luisa's friendship to be a bit choppy and sudden, but as the novel progressed, the friendship between the trio (completed by Sonia) was definitely one of the strong points of Prophecy. The romance element... there were moments when the chemistry between James and Lia just didn't really come across as deeply as it could have. The relationships with her father, Henry, and her mother however, were conveyed very nicely (as were their characterizations in general).

The ending of Prophecy of the Sisters isn't really an ending, per se. It's wide and expansive, it's open and really, it's more of a beginning than anything else. It promises the start of an enchanting journey. On the brink of a catastrophe, Lia could literally hold the fate of the world in her hands. Thank goodness it's not too bad of a cliffhanger though - at least it's a resolved open ending that I've no doubt will lead beautifully into the sequel.

Prophecy of the Sisters offers a deliciously dark and fresh glimpse into a world of possibilities. Like Henry says, "only time will tell" (Zink 256). But with Zink's beautiful storytelling style and immersing plot lines, this is one series that readers will eagerly await with baited breath.

To leave off, here's a trailer for Michelle Zink's brilliant Prophecy of the Sisters by the multi-talented Vania.

Prophecy of the Sisters from Vania S on Vimeo.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Public Enemies (Movie) Review

In the action-thriller Public Enemies, acclaimed filmmaker Michael Mann directs Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard in the story of legendary Depression-era outlaw John Dillinger (Depp)—the charismatic bank robber whose lightning raids made him the number one target of J. Edgar Hoover’s fledgling FBI and its top agent, Melvin Purvis (Bale), and a folk hero to much of the downtrodden public. No one could stop Dillinger and his gang. No jail could hold him. His charm and audacious jailbreaks endeared him to almost everyone—from his girlfriend Billie Frechette (Cotillard) to an American public who had no sympathy for the banks that had plunged the country into the Depression.

But while the adventures of Dillinger’s gang—later including the sociopathic Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi)—thrilled many, Hoover (Billy Crudup) hit on the idea of exploiting the outlaw's capture as a way to elevate his Bureau of Investigation into the national police force that became the FBI. He made Dillinger America’s first Public Enemy Number One and sent in Purvis, the dashing "Clark Gable of the FBI."

However, Dillinger and his gang outwitted and outgunned Purvis’ men in wild chases and shootouts. Only after importing a crew of Western ex-lawmen (newly baptized as agents) and orchestrating epic betrayals—from the infamous "Lady in Red" to the Chicago crime boss Frank Nitti—were Purvis, the FBI and their new crew of gunfighters able to close in on Dillinger.
Overall, despite its 2 hours and 21 minutes run time, Public Enemies is a compelling watch. It has action, drama, romance, big guns, and "fast" cars - all the primary ingredients for a film success in this day and age. And let's face it; this movie does take something historical and turn it into an entertaining adventure.

Now, I'm not too clear on the exact logistics of how the events proceeded historically, but I have heard that regarding Dillinger and Purvis, etc., the movie remains rather true to fact. However, I did have a qualm with the setting - this took place during the depression, a time of desperation and poverty. Yeah, there was maybe one homeless person throughout the whole movie. A lot of shiny new cars and snazzy clothes though. The tone and mood could have been set a little more realistically.

Johnny Depp - wow! Now, a lot of viewers do go into this movie with high expectations for Depp, but in spite of all that, he does not disappoint. (Any one else notice the uncanny coincidence of J.D. - J.D. : Johnny Depp - John Dillinger?) Depp's performance was raw, gritty, and more importantly, real. He took the persona, the legacy, left behind, and then characterized that from scratch to create Dillinger for the screen.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Christian Bale. Considering he was pretty awesome in Dark Knight, one would've expected at least a decent performance here. But alas, the accent - trying to affect the accent of the time period - just did not work well on Bale here. In fact, it was probably detrimental. Performance otherwise may have been decent, or it may have been simply mediocre; it was hard to get past snickering, and overall, it didn't make a lasting impression.

As for Marion Cotillard, I will say that I had started out a little worried. Was this going to be a typical weak "damsel-in-distress" female character? Bah humbug. But when it came down to acting, when raw emotion was needed, Cotillard delivered. Raw, brave, slightly sinister. Impressive. The rest of the supporting cast filled out the characterizations nicely.

The plot, well, for the most part as this is a historical piece had to stay true to fact. The romance moved a bit quick in the beginning for my tastes, scared me for a moment that it might be reminiscent of the disaster that was Jumper but luckily Public Enemies redeemed itself as the film progressed. It did bother me a little that it ended off on a bit of a "tragic romance" motif, which differed greatly in tone from the way that the movie had started off. The cinematography had weak moments as well (... dude, blurring half the screen out showing some guy's bald head is not artistically innovative).

To be frank, we, society as a whole, has become somewhat desensetized towards violence and guns and such, what with frequent exposure in movies and television and video games and the like. We can "kill" in games and find a thrill. We can view these things in fictionalized accounts without feeling as much as we should. Public Enemies made the shootings a little more real, a little more raw. The deaths felt more shocking, more deep, than what one might've originally expected from Hollywood. There was definitely a fair bit of flinching involved.

With great acting, historical aspects, and an action-packed plotline, Public Enemies is definitely something different and innovative.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

In My Mailbox [14]

In My Mailbox, a weekly meme, is the brainchild of the awesome Alea and Kristi ...

There wasn't an IMM last week because, unfortunately, I didn't get anything in the mail, sadly. No books this week either, but I did get some awesome goodies from the fabulous Tera Lynn Childs
- an Oh My Gods/Goddess Boot Camp bookmark and buttons! Thanks Tera!

So, your turn. What was in your mailbox this week?

*While you're at it, don't forget to enter the YA Swag Giveaway!
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