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Thread: The Book Discussion Thread

  1. #6701
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    Quote Quoting Ezee E (view post)
    I think this is his best book.
    I was gifted a big Hemingway's-four-novels-in-one book, and now there were For Whom the Bells Toll and The Old Man and the Sea left to see if I would prefer anything else (although someone has rec-ed A Moveable Feast to me). Kinda been putting it off because FWtBT is the longest one.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  2. #6702
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    The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)

    The Fellowship of the Ring - 5/5
    The Two Towers - 4/5
    The Return of the King - 4.5/5

    Since the books are written as one, I waited until I finished all three to write about them. But I really hadn't expected my preference of the books to exactly match the one I have of the films.

    FOTR, like the film, is the one I love best with its sense of a world springing up fully established and vivid. It's also the only book where Tolkien's world-building doesn't get exhausting sometimes for me yet, because the nature of this part is one whole forward trek with a brief pause in the middle (Rivendell). It's paradoxically a straight-line narrative of epic scope, in which its one-group focus allows you to both luxuriate in its rich environment while engages its vividly thought-up adventure. No surprise that this one makes for most faithful adaptation (and imo best film) as well.

    TT's splitting of narratives cleanly into two halves (or for each "Book") threw me off at first. Book 4 with the trek towards Mordor is as engrossing as FOTR, and with Gollum in the mix, also with a touch of psychological twistedness like in the film. However, I don't know if I'm alone in finding the purely Men part here and in ROTK, though by no mean bad, my least favorite section of LOTR. Book 3's Men part, in comparison with the more intimate telling of Frodo/Sam/Gollum trek, clearly aim more towards mythic language that marks the nobler rise of Men. But it may be too distancing and a tad excessively "noble" (especially towards Book 3's end and Book 5's start) to the point that a drinking game can be made by taking a shot every time you come across "And lo!"/"And behold!"

    In ROTK, even if that noble tone of the language ramps up even more, it mostly suits Book 5's Men part better, with the story's bigger sprawl and gravitas as this nears the end. Meanwhile, Book 6 may be the best of them all: a grand, at-times heartstopping conclusion of an epic quest (Sam is as aching a creation originally here as he comes off, perfectly translated, onscreen); followed by some chapters self-checking if the characters/world can go back to their status quo after they have been through war; before a heartwrenching epilogue answer with "never fully" -- if not physically (an idyllic land ravaged), then mentally (a scar not healed in more ways than one). For all of LOTR being an influential high fantasy archetype with its seemingly simple tropes of good and evil, Tolkien is also there first before today's gritty "realism" of the genre, with the powerful pragmatism of his fantasy in showing complex struggle against that evil (Gollum) and the consequence afterwards (Frodo).
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  3. #6703
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    The Stanley Kubrick Archives (Alison Castle) - 4.5/5

    Cover of the edition I read:
    []

    The in-depth details and images would have made this already essential, but it's also assembled by Castle with such thorough chronological background that makes it a great read. However, this would have been full 5/5 for me if not for two issues:


    1) Each film has a central essay detailing from its conception to its release, so I was anticipating the one for 2001, only to disappointingly find out that it's the only one that breaks away from the format, and is composed of timelines and disparate essays on different elements of the film instead.

    2) From Barry Lyndon onward until Eyes Wide Shut, each film's central essay is all by Rodney Hill, whose writing is tad too hagiographical on Kubrick for my taste. For example, the theatrical release part of his essay -- on every single Kubrick film he writes on -- always points out how Kubrick's films were misunderstood upon initial reception by some circles, preemptively dismissing the criticisms by bringing up praises from critics who "get it", which gets eye-rolling by the third or fourth time he uses this already.

    Also, I was looking forwards to reading about the treatment of Shelley Duvall on the set of The Shining. Considering the involvement of his estate and family with the book, I didn't expect that section to be seriously disparaging towards Kubrick or anything, but past essays haven't shied away from mentioning the frictions or differences Kubrick can have with other actors, like Spartacus (Kirk Douglas and the film's British actors) or Lolita (Shelly Winters). But all Hill mentions, in a positive tone, is why Kubrick casted Duvall for the role, which feels crossing the line from too hagiographical to borderline dishonest for me.


    This is still engrossing in details and gorgeously put together though, even through sections of Kubrick films that I'm not a big fan of (eg. Lolita), so that I'm very glad I blind-bought it.

    Trivial side-note: this book has a ton of BTS stills, and as I was reading through it, I was curious to see Kubrick's switch from his early, relatively fresh-faced look to his more common, older bearded image in later career. I know it's an age thing, and the film's production took over a few years, but it's funny to see from the pictures how most of that transformation seems to take place primarily over his time on 2001.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  4. #6704
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Love that book. It's my favorite coffee table book. Read it cover to cover.

    Nobody - ***
    Dune - *** 1/2
    Raw - ** 1/2


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  5. #6705
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    Quote Quoting Ezee E (view post)
    Love that book. It's my favorite coffee table book. Read it cover to cover.
    It actually tempts me to rewatch the Kubrick I'm meh on (Lolita), which I thought wasn't possible.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  6. #6706
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    Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) - Knowing about the book's background and Alcott's opinion of it herself, from around the time of Gerwig's adaptation, helps clarify my opinions about the two halves, in which I prefer the first part over the second. The second half's arc is compellingly plotted-out in putting the sisters through more complex world of adulthood, but the writing is a tad more convoluted and doesn't feel as effortless as the charming first half. Also, Alcott's touch of lightly having a moral around the end of almost every chapter is really suited more to the simpler narrative and childhood trouble of the first half as well. All that said, this remains readable and lovely throughout. 3.5/5


    The Long Walk (Richard Bachman/Stephen King) - My love for Stephen King in his sprawl mode more than most (my favorite of his being The Stand) may be a Monkey's Paw wish since that mode can produce his worst works as well. But The Long Walk might be the first King I love for its brutal simplicity, setting up a few introductory chapters of characters and premise then just push the narrative right off, dropping off its world-building in bits and pieces non-intrusively along the way. Its concept is so succinct yet so horrifyingly immediate that this might be his most compulsive read ever. A good thing too because if this is among of his more sprawling novels, I might have actual problems with the crowd spectacle aspect of it, but the relatively sparse writing keeps that as only a few occasional speed-bumps along the way. King also crucially populates the story with different, believably portrayed kinds of male adolescence, so that you can feel yourself getting drawn into this group of doomed boys further and further. And he nails the ending for this one too. 4/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  7. #6707
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    For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ernest Hemingway)- I was hugely apprehensive at first when I saw how thick the book is, given both The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms (even if I enjoyed the latter quite a bit) in which his writing doesn't seem able to support a novel of this length (Can't wait to dive more into his short stories after The Old Man and the Sea). But either Hemingway slightly changes his style, or his writing evolves over time; here he still writes in sparse, terse prose, but it's more detailed, emotive, and even at times properly compulsive, which makes the novel his most engrossing yet. At times it's also unsparing in depicting wartime; the two long monologues by two female characters separately recalling the unimaginable cruelty they either experience first-hand or become a witness to will stay with me for quite some time. And the ending packs a haunting punch even more than A Farewell to Arms. 4/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  8. #6708
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    The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway) - Going briefly over some popular low-star reviews on goodreads, I'm glad I went through my Hemingway four-novels-in-one omnibus book chronologically, as I can see myself being similarly nonplussed (although wouldn't hate it to the same level of some) if this is the first book of his I read. But seeing his rhythmic, sparse style evolving over the years (paradoxically but somehow fittingly) into expansive epics, culminating with For Whom the Bell Tolls that's my favorite so far, I find the scaling back of scope into simple but precise storytelling achieve a mythic, at times transcendental power. Ultimately moving, and reread may prove very rewarding here. 4/5

    My ranking of the omnibus:

    1. For Whom the Bell Tolls
    2. The Old Man and the Sea
    3. A Farewell to Arms
    4. The Sun Also Rises
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

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