Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Movie Review: Les Miserables

1. Short review: 

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked: Anne Hathaway's stunning performance of "I Dreamed a Dream." Others have sung it better, but no one has performed it better.

2.2. What I did not like: Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe trying to sing.

2.3. Who I think is the audience: Everyone.

2.4. Is the movie appropriate for children to see? Yes. There is death, filth, cruelty, violence, and suicide but no on-screen sex.

2.5. On the basis of viewing this movie, will I pay to see the sequel? I cannot imagine a sequel to Les Miserables.

2.6. Rating and the plot in a nutshell:

2.6.1. How I rate movies:
-- I want my money back.
-- Worth a rental, not more. 
-- Worth first-run theater price once. 
-- I will pay first-run theater price to see it again. <-- Les Miserables

Running time: 158 minutes.

2.6.2. The plot in a nutshell:
     The earliest we could get tickets was the day after Christmas. The theater sold us advance tickets for a matinee show on the 26th. As it happened, I caught the  1998 version starring Liam Neeson on cable Christmas night. There are major differences between that version and this, but I knew the plot going into the theater. Thus, it was easy for me to follow the action, and I could enjoy the music.
     Les Miserables is an opera. It is billed as a musical because Americans consider opera high-brow entertainment and avoid it, but they will pay to see a musical.
     I gave a link to the plot of the novel above (and here again) and here is the plot of the new movie. I have nothing to add. 

2.7. Other:

     Anne Hathaway's portrayal of Fantine is outstanding. Others have sung "I Dreamed a Dream" better -- including Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent -- but no one has performed it better. If this performance does not win Anne Hathaway an Oscar, TANJ.
     Universal gives a taste of the audio in this trailer:

  As strong as the audio is, with the video it is stronger.

     A couple of notes:
     Anne Hathaway campaigned for the role of Fantine. Skinny to start with, she lost 25 pounds to better project herself into the role of Fantine.
     The sequence in which she sings "I Dreamed a Dream" was shot in one take.

2.8. Links:
IMDb review
Rotten Tomatoes review

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

eBook Review: McGuffey's Eclectic Spelling Book et alia

William Holmes McGuffey, McGuffey's Eclectic Spelling Book

Product Details

  • File Size: 149 KB
  • Print Length: 152 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004TRTFK6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars (6 customer reviews)
  • Price: $0.00 (FREE)
1. Short review:    (Amazon rating: 1 out of 5 stars -- I hate it. If I could give it 0 stars, I would.)

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked:  Nothing.
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? Should be a walk in the park but it is a mugging in an alley.

2.2. What I did not like: The lack of illustrations. The original had illustrations. In place of each is now a barren statement of [Figure].
The terrible formatting. The formatting was so bad that it made the book unreadable.

2.3. Who I think is the audience: For the original, the audience is esoteric historians and homeschoolers. For this version, only masochists need download it.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read?  No. A thousand times "NO!"

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? No.

2.6. The plot in a nutshell:
     There is no plot. McGuffey's Eclectic Spelling Book was used as a grammar school textbook in the 19th century in the US.
2.7. Other:
     I also downloaded and perused the following:
McGuffey's First Eclectic Reader, Revised Edition;
McGuffey's Second Eclectic Reader;
McGuffey's Third Eclectic Reader;
McGuffey's Fourth Eclectic Reader;
McGuffey's Fifth Eclectic Reader; and
McGuffey's Sixth Eclectic Reader.
     One and all suffer from the same faults as the Spelling Book: They lack illustrations and the formatting is so bad as to render the book unusable.
     In spite of this, I highly recommend McGuffey's books -- just not the Amazon Kindle versions. Instead, go to the Gutenberg Project and download the PDF versions. Do not waste your time downloading another version. Get the PDF versions.
     I added a bonus book: McGuffey's Eclectic Primer, Revised Edition.

2.8. Links: (All links to the Gutenberg Project.)

2.9. Buy the book: I shall not give you a link to McGuffey's Eclectic Spelling Book on Amazon. You deserve better. Use the Gutenberg Project links above.