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Posts Tagged ‘1986’

Book Review: S by John Updike

November 29, 2010 2 comments

Giant red letter S on a green background.Summary:
Letters, both hand-written and recorded onto tapes, tell the story of Sarah, a North Shore housewife of a wealthy Massachusetts General Hospital doctor who one day in 1986 decides to go and join a commune in the Arizona desert.  Gradually through the letters both her past and her experiences in the commune are revealed.

Review:
I was intrigued by this book for multiple reasons.  I’ve always enjoyed epistolary novels.  I found Updike’s more famous novel, The Three Witches of Eastwick, endlessly entertaining.  Also, I’ve always been fascinated by communes and cults.  This book certainly contains all three elements.  Sarah’s letters compel the reader to get through them as quickly as possible.  Whether she’s discussing the commune or her past life on the North Shore, the letters are truly fascinating.  Perhaps this is partly because there’s a Stepford-wife like quality to Sarah’s past life, and her current life is so over the top from anything most modern Americans experience.  It provides a fascinating contrast.

The book therefore starts out strong, but falters more and more the further toward the end it gets.  The more about Sarah is revealed, the less sympathetic she becomes.  Additionally, due to the nature of the epistolary novel, some of her actions are not entirely revealed, thus leaving the ending a bit confusing.  Frankly, the ending simultaneously surprised and disappointed me.  I was left wondering what on earth Updike’s point had been.  Was it a feminist stance?  Was it misogynistic?  Was it just a portrait of a person?  The great variety between all these possibilities should demonstrate how confusing the ending is.

It’s interesting to note that Sarah is depicted as a descendant of Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter.  I’m sure this plays into the interpretation of the book a great deal, although personally, I am not sure how.

Overall, this epistolary novel starts out strong and engaging, but the ending leaves the reader a bit confused and let down.  If you’re a big Updike or epistolary novel fan, you will still enjoy the book enough to make it worth your while to read, but all others should probably give it a pass.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Swap.com

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Movie Review: The Fly (1986)

A fly on a black background.Summary:
Seth Brundle’s future is looking up.  He is on the verge of completing a teleportation machine and is dating the journalist who is chronicling his creation of this wonderful new invention.  One drunken night brought on by unwarranted feelings of jealousy, he makes himself the first human test subject for teleportation.  Unfortunately, a fly teleports along with him, and the machine merges their DNA, beginning Seth Brundle’s gradual, gruesome transformation into Brundlefly.

Review:
A horror movie hasn’t made me cringe and shriek to an extent like The Fly did in a long time.  I love a good horror movie, and the filmmakers hit all the right notes to make a viewing a mind-tingling, gross-out pleasure.  The urban loft sets are the perfect back-drop to the scientific horror.  The 80s clothes and hairstyles enhance the visual appeals instead of distracting from it.  The dialogue is ideal, having the characters say just enough to keep the story going but not too much to distract from the visual horror.

Seth Brundle’s gradual transformation is a terrific mix of his body gruesomely changing and him visibly losing his mind.  Jeff Goldblum does a fantastic acting job, showing the remnants of Brundle’s human mind and the emerging of his Brundlefly mind.  He manages to pull this off through the grotesque make-up, and it is this superb acting that really makes the horrific scenes read as real and not fake, B-movie material.

I have not enjoyed a horror movie this much in ages.  If you’re a fan of horror or 1980s films, you absolutely must watch The Fly.  I doubt you will be disappointed.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

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