Monday, August 29, 2016

The 306 Greatest Books #138 - The Three Musketeers

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. This book can be found on the Sybervision Book List and My Book List.



After having read several books on the list that were either partially or entirely a drag to read, it was a tremendous surprise to find out how much I really liked this book. The Three Musketeers is actually very easy to read and I swear, it feels as if it could have been written today. However, this is not one of those books that has a higher intellectual purpose. This is an action/adventure flick in book form. It goes from one action "scene" to the next all the way to the end. The story follows a man named D'Artanian, who, at the being of the story, was not a musketeer. Shortly he befriends three men who go by the names Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, which are the entitled Three Musketeers. The funny thing about this story though is that it really isn't about the three musketeers at all. They are supporting characters at best, and in the case of Porthos, he is even called out in the story as almost superfluous. Even with this, it doesn't detract from the story at all, and there are several instances where different character's fates were not what I was expecting at all (and if this was written today would have been completely different in my opinion). There were a couple of things that didn't work for me. The main one was the long winded section where Milady is describing her past and how she got to where she was at that point in the book. The problem is, all of that story was a lie, and the reader knew it was a lie while she was giving the story. So, it felt like a complete waste of the reader's time, which is already being taken up for a while with this >600 page book. But besides that, I ripped through this book faster than I have read a book in a long time. This is a must read that I'm adding onto my must-read list.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The 100 Greatest Movies - #22: 2001: A Space Odyssey

I am in the process of watching all of the Top 10 Science Fiction movies according to AFI and reviewing them for my list (http://www.dinojim.com/Cultural/Movies/10Top10.html#SciFi).

The current film I just watched is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is #1


This movie is also on the 100 Greatest Movies list (#22), the 10th Anniversary List (#15), the 100 Greatest Thrillers list (#40), and the 100 Most Inspirational Movies (#47).




Having never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey before, I wasn't sure exactly what I was getting myself into. I had known only a few scant details of the plot and/or images of the movie but in reality I knew nothing. I'll probably spoil the plot going over the details, so if you wish to go in spoiler free, I wouldn't read any further. We start off in the distant past, when hominids first started tool use. These hominids are "visited (?)" by a monolith (one of the few things I knew about the movie was the presence of these monoliths). The monolith appears to have jump started mankind into tool use. We flash forward to the distant future (2000 or 2001) where a scientist is heading out to a dig site on the moon. Within a pit on the moon another monolith has been uncovered (I have no idea what happened to the first one on Earth). The moon monolith transmits a signal to Jupiter upon being discovered but other than that is silent. This prompts an expedition to Jupiter 18 months later (maybe this is 2001?) with one of the most well known sci-fi computers in history, HAL, leading the way (I love his unsettling design and voice). Upon arrival at Jupiter we find another monolith and all hell breaks loose because I don't have a clue as to what is going on. There's a baby and...the end. 


For the most part this movie is visually breathtaking, but ploddingly slow. My wife would look up at the screen every couple of minutes to see if anything new had happened. It didn't. The visuals could almost make up for it, but I feel that Kubrick purposely drug out the scenes to emphasize the slowness (much to the detriment of the modern audience I am sure). The entire movie is rather slow up until the end, when everything kicks into psychedelic. Truthfully, I was rather interested in the movie, wondering from the get go if would we get a reason for the monoliths. My feelings wavered throughout the movie, sometimes thinking we were going to get no answers at all and sometimes thinking we would get answers to everything. However, at the end of everything, I have no clue what we got, besides a WTF. The ending definitely felt like something pulled straight from Contact (or I guess vice versa based on creation dates). But no, I don't think we got an answer. This is the type of movie that film schools thrive on I'm sure, trying to piece out the meaning behind everything. I prefer an answer though. Overall my thoughts on the movie were that, besides the slowness, I was in for most of it. The monolith music was suitably unsettling, and everything about the movie from the sound design to the visuals had me. But my big problem with the movie was that I wanted to know what was going on. I needed to know. Unfortunately, I never found out. I feel like I should watch this movie again to possibly discover an answer hidden in it, however I don't think I can do it.