I love stories in all forms, from books to movies to TV shows to video games to music. Stories bring us together, move us, and can inspire self-reflection. Several years back, I discovered how audiobooks can make a good story great by having a deft narrator breathe it to life. John Lithgow is one such narrator. His iconic voice has served him well in a variety of roles, including the narrator of his autobiography entitled Drama, which I bought through Audible and thoroughly enjoyed. With this in mind, I was eager to listen to Stories By Heart, an Audible Original that’s part of the Audible Theater collection of audiobooks.
Several years ago I saw the 2003 psychological thriller Identity, and this past weekend I watched it again. Having not seen it for a few years, I completely forgot the film’s twists, which made for an enjoyable viewing experience.
On its face, the film appeared to be a predictable thriller. But as I peeled back its layers, a well-constructed plot, inspired by the Agatha Christie novel, And Then There Were None, presented itself.
The film’s director, James Mangold, best known for Girl, Interrupted and Walk The Line, did an excellent job. Identity moved at a nice clip, had a dark mood and interesting flashback transitions.
While all of the actors turned in solid performances, Ray Liotta stole the show, quickly followed by the always consistent John Cusack. Amanda Peet also did a fine job of injecting her enigmatic character with humor and sarcasm.
If you’re a fan of mysteries and thrillers, Identity is worth your time. It’s an enjoyable film that will keep your interest from start to finish.
John Lithgow is one of my favorite actors, and I’m currently enjoying listening to the audiobook version of his autobiography, Drama: An Actor’s Education. Whether he was playing a serious Shakespearian role or a hilarious goof, Lithgow’s versatility as an actor garnered him numerous awards and fans over the years.
Below are two videos: One is a fan-made compilation of some of Lithgow’s best work on 3rd Rock from the Sun, and the other is an interview about the aforementioned autobiography.
In 2002, M. Night Shyamalan released one of my all-time favorite films: Signs. While the premise – aliens invading Earth and using crop circles for navigation purposes – sounds uninspired, at the heart of the film you’ll find a story about a man questioning his faith. It dealt with love, loss, family, and resolution, and it did so beautifully. The entire cast did a fantastic job, but Mel Gibson stole the show; his ability to convey emotion without uttering a word is marvelous. The script was suspenseful and well written, and the score, composed by James Newton Howard, was breathtaking.
What are your thoughts on Signs? Did you love it, hate it or feel indifferent about it? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section.
Below you’ll find my favorite scene from the film as well as the official trailer.
The Hunger Games has become a pop culture phenomenon. Seemingly overnight, these books catapulted to the top of the best-seller charts and have remained there. Then came the movie, which grossed nearly $700 million since its release this past March. And you can rest assured that many children – and adults – will be dressing up as Katniss, Peeta and, perhaps, Haymitch for Halloween. Having just finished all three books, I’d like to share my thoughts on this trilogy. If you haven’t read the books, stop here because key plot points will be revealed.
I still think the first book is the best in the series. Being introduced to all of the characters and the nation of Panem for the first time was a delight. And unlike the movie, the book allowed relationships between characters to develop at an excellent pace. For example, when Rue died in the book, I was legitimately upset because I had spent hours getting to know her. In the movie, it seemed as if she died as quickly as she appeared. Furthermore, the romantic confusion between Katniss, Peeta and Gale was incredibly well done. But one of my favorite characters in the book was Haymitch. While he originally came off as a drunken fool, he was later revealed to be quite intelligent and an invaluable resource for Katniss and Peeta to call on while trying to survive the Hunger Games.
“One more time? For the audience?” he says. His voice isn’t angry. It’s hollow, which is worse. Already the boy with the bread is slipping away from me. I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dreading the moment when I will finally have to let go.”
Many fans consider Catching Fire to be the best in the series, but I’m torn. It did a wonderful job of picking up where the last book left off, while also further exploring Katniss’ relationships with Peeta and Gale. Moreover, it introduced new, memorable characters and killed off another important person in Katniss’ life: Cinna. And it took the Hunger Games arena to another level by turning it into a clock with a variety of surprises for the tributes. However, I still feel it lacked a certain something that the first book had; I just can’t put my finger on it. Either way, it was a terrific read, and just like the first book, my favorite passage was at the end of the book.
“Katniss,” Gale says softly.
I recognize that voice. It’s the same one he uses to approach wounded animals before he delivers a deathblow. I Instinctively raise my hand to block his words but he catches it and holds on tightly.
Don’t,” I whisper.
But Gale is not one to keep secrets from me.
“Katniss, there is no District Twelve.”
I just finished Mockingjay today, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know many fans were upset with how the series ended, but I wasn’t. In the beginning of the book, reading about Katniss becoming the Mockingjay and the face of the rebellion was fascinating. However, it seemed to drag a little in the middle, and then it picked up towards the end. I enjoyed the twist where President Snow revealed that the newly appointed President Coin was the one who ordered the final assault on the rebels that killed Prim. In the end, both Coin and Snow died, so I was happy. And considering the “romantic” relationship between Katniss and Peeta was the focus of this trilogy, I was perfectly fine with her winding up with Peeta instead of Gale, especially since his creation was used to kill Prim.
“You love me. Real or not real?”
I tell him, “Real.”
Overall, this was a very enjoyable trilogy. If you like your novels packed with action, drama and romance, you should give these books a shot. And while you’re at it, check out the movie too; while it wasn’t perfect, it did the first book justice and has me excited for the sequel. To whet your appetite, I’ve included the trailer below.