Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Kite Runner

I finished watching "The Kite Runner"- a good enough movie but it just goes to show how much is lost between the book and the film. A positive thing that the movie had going for it was how it was able to skip the parts that dragged the book down especially the melodramatic incidents of the last chapters. It was also fascinating to learn through the bonus features how international the whole film project was from the cast and crew to the locale- Afghanistan was shot in China!

"The Kite Runner" is such a story about friendship, redemption and forgiveness that it was easy to get emotional while watching the movie but not necessarily because of the scenes playing out. My mind was going off on all kinds of tangents. It's sad that war and poverty is still so much a way of life. And, equally sad is how religion gets twisted to justify violence. And I thought of simpler times in general. Oh, nostalgia! The movie also made me wish I was more aware and in tune of my culture.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Murder on the Orient Express

"Murder on the Orient Express" is a movie I've been wanting to watch but was never really in the mood to actually sit through it. Old movies just aren't my style and this was from 1974. But once I got around to it, I found the film highly entertaining.

The movie is, of course, based on Agatha Christie's mystery novel featuring her famous detective- and my favorite- Hercule Poirot. When you've formed your own idea of how a character looks, it's hard to get into someone else's portrayal of them. However, Albert Finney played the part of Poirot well and even had the detective's famous moustache. The rest of the cast was very star studded. The names I was able to recognize included Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York, and Wendy Hiller.

The movie mostly stayed true to the book and without having it seem like a lifeless re-enactment of it. I think that's what makes any adaptation good- if it can retain the spirit of the original source but can bring its own interpretation and energy into it. The cleverness of the crime and solution was captured as well. I also enjoyed the small jokes I caught in reference to the casting like the reference to "Psycho" with Anthony Perkins' character's close attachment to his mother on this film.

According to the "making of" documentary, the movie was meant to be a throw back to old-fashioned glamorized filmmaking. With the cast, costumes and music, I think "Murder on the Orient Express" achieved its goal. In another bonus feature- "Agatha Christie: A Portrait"-, it was nice to see pictures of the literary legend in her later years. This movie just reminded me of how much of a genius she really was.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I figured that while I was still terminally unemployed, it would be a good time to check out what volunteering opportunities there were out in the world. Or, at least, in my immediate vicinity. I was hoping there'd be some at Central Library since it was close by and I was familiar with that environment. I was thinking I could check in and shelve items. I attended a meeting there last week to see what was available. I felt so old that day. I was surrounded by mostly teenagers and some were so young they had a parent with them for supervision. It lasted about an hour- going over some background information on the library district and the different areas in which to volunteer in. Unfortunately, there were no spots at that location but finding out about my work history, one of the coordinators suggested I check out the Friends' Library Store. So I did.

Friends is a non-profit organization run by volunteers that helps support the library system with its sales of not only donated materials like books, CD's and DVD's but also of greeting card, postcards, bookmarks, book ends, literary gifts, shirts, hats, posters, drinks and snacks. For such a small space, I was surprised they could fit all that in.

The interview went well. While my previous work experiences were impressive enough, I think what made them decide to take me was talking to one of my ex-bosses whom I was told said "great things" about yours truly. I'm not sure what the exact words were but it felt nice that someone would have "great things" to say about me.

I just finished my first day there even though I was practically doing everything I would have done working in a bookstore- but without getting paid. The highlight was definitely interacting with the customers. There was a nice lady, who was not only a reader but a booklover as well, and we talked about some good books we've read and even recommended some titles to each other. I missed those connections.

I enjoyed myself and am glad I've rejoined the ranks of the contributing members of society. I look forward to volunteering some more with Friends.