East of Eden by John Steinbeck

East of Eden is a novel by American author and Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck. Published in 1952, the work is regarded by many to be Steinbeck’s most ambitious novel  …

Steinbeck stated about East of Eden: “It has everything in it I have been able to learn about my craft or profession in all these years,” and later said: “I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this.”  …

I liked it less well than the author, but am still pleased to have made it through the lengthy, rambling saga.

Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902. In fact, he appears as himself as a small boy in this novel.

Racism is a fact in this era. But one of the two smartest and best characters is Lee, an American born Chinese servant.

The other character you want to spend time with is Samuel Hamilton, the patriarch of one family.

Steinbeck books frequently explore the themes of fate and injustice, especially as applied to downtrodden or everyman protagonists. For example, Of Mice and Men.

The female characters are not nearly as important or well drawn as the men and boys.

The title comes from Genesis, Chapter 4, verse 16. The story of Cain and Abel.

Two sets of brothers are the main characters in this book. And one of the four is named Adam.

There are weird love triangles complicating both sets of brothers.

There’s something of a reimagining of the biblical story woven into a history of California’s Salinas Valley.

My two highlights reflecting back on this epic:

  • the STORY telling is memorable and entertaining
  • the philosophical discussions

James Dean played in one of the movie adaptations.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Belfast – Kenneth Branagh

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Kenneth Branagh — brilliant, but sometimes too self-important.

But his recent semi-autobiographical film is fantastic.

Belfast is a 2021 British coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. …

Branagh’s “most personal film“, follows a young boy’s childhood in BelfastNorthern Ireland, at the beginning of The Troubles in 1969. …

The film received seven nominations at the 94th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, winning for Best Original Screenplay. …

The film chronicles the life of a working-class Ulster Protestant family from the perspective of their nine-year-old son Buddy during The Troubles

Wikipedia

Jude Hill as Buddy is by far my favourite character.

Ciarán Hinds as “Pop”, Buddy’s grandfather, is wonderful too.

Jamie Dornan and Caitríona Balfe are fantastic as Buddy’s parents. Caitríona so beautiful.

Judy Dench, of course.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Cloud Atlas 2012 film

This movie is either BRILLIANT. Or a disaster. I’m not sure. 🤔

It’s included on various “Best Film” and “Worst Film” lists.

Cloud Atlas is a 2012 epic science fiction film written and directed by the Wachowskis (Matrix) and Tom Tykwer.

 Based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell, it has multiple plots occurring during six eras in time, with the cast members performing multiple roles.

I watched mainly because it was one of the only Tom Hanks films I’d not yet seen.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Wow.

What a fantastic book.

Richard Powers is my age. The main difference between us is that he won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Overstory. 😀

I’m saving that long book for a long outdoors trip.

Bewilderment is his 2021 book set in the near future amid the environmental degradation of the planet. 

It follows widowed astrobiologist Theo Byrne and his volatile nine-year-old son Robin, who is diagnosed with Asperger syndromeobsessive–compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Theo resists psychoactive medication for Robin, turning instead to an experimental neurofeedback therapy in order to help his son.

It’s part science fiction. Part science. Part philosophy. An important father and son story.

Extremely well written.

The author must have been inspired by Flowers for Algernon.

There’s a character much like Greta Thunberg.

The bad guys are a Trump-like President and his enablers. Anti-science. This time the losing President cancels election results in 6 States he lost and calls a new election.

Black Bear Pictures and Plan B Entertainment acquired the feature film rights.

Click PLAY or watch the author on YouTube.

Bombshell (2019 film)

Great cast. Not much a film, however.

Too preachy. And I felt they tried to include too much. Fewer story lines would have made it better.

 Charlize TheronNicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie star in this film based on the accounts of the women at Fox News who set out to expose CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. …

After co-moderating the 2016 Republican debateMegyn Kelly faces numerous insults from Donald Trump, who is upset because she asked him about his offensive comments toward women. …

Fox eventually paid the victims of sexual harassment $50 million, while paying Ailes and O’Reilly $65 million in severance.

wikipedia

Roger Ailes died age-77 in 2017.

Rupert Murdoch hired him in 1996 to become the CEO of Fox News. In 2016 Ailes was fired, taking a $65 million golden handshake. He was under investigation for sexual harassment from Megyn Kelly and many other women.

Other FOX old men accused of harassing blonde women included:

Fox Sports President Jamie Horowitz
Fox Business Host Charles Payne
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly
Fox News Latino vice president Francisco Cortes
Fox News co-President Jack Abernethy

It was the culture of FOX. Hopefully things are better now.

Personally I wish some billionaire would buy FOX News and fire most of the opinion talking heads.

Alpha (2018 film)

Wow. I recommend this film for the story and special effects. Inspiring cinematography.

Alpha (2018) is a … prehistorical adventure film …

… a young hunter who encounters and befriends an injured wolf during the last ice age

… Europe 20,000 years ago, a small tribe of hunter-gatherers prepare for a hunting expedition for the coming winter’s food. …

The hunters eventually reach a herd of steppe bison, which they attempt to stampede off a cliff …

Filming took place in DrumhellerBurnaby, and Vancouver …and in Iceland. …

Rotten TomatoesAlpha holds an approval rating of 80% …

The dog was the first species to be domesticated, by hunter–gatherers over 15,000 years ago, before the development of agriculture.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

documentary – The Alpinist

Marc-André Leclerc died in Alaska age-25.

His death seemed inevitable.

When Alex Honnold thinks you’re crazy, you’re crazy.

Before his death, many of the top climbers would rank him best on mixed rock and ice.

Born in Nanaimo, he gravitated to becoming a dirtbag in Squamish with his girlfriend Brette Harrington, also a badass rock climber, and alpinist.

In 2015, Leclerc completed his first solo ascent of The Corkscrew on Cerro Torre. In winter. That’s one of the the toughest solo climbs ever. Yet nobody in the climbing world had ever heard of him.

Marc’s earlier solo climb of the Emperor Face of Mount Robson might have been even tougher. But he found it relaxing.

Marc didn’t care about fame or social media. Or money.

During the filming of this documentary, he got bored and took off. Climbing around the world.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

WOW – Don’t Look Up

I rejoined Netflix mainly to watch Don’t Look Up.

Brilliant.

Be sure to watch the credits. There are 3 endings.

Satire that reminded me of both Swift’s A Modest Proposal and Wag the Dog.

Something between a star-studded Hollywood blockbuster and an amateur YouTube documentary. Very original editing.

You’ve never seen DiCaprio like this. He had a lot of input on the script.

The cast is great. Best is Jonah Hill who plays a Don Jr. idiot appointed by his mother as the insanely unqualified  Chief of Staff.

The Republican tribe is urged to NOT LOOK UP at the planet busting comet. And deny what they can see with their own eyes. 😀 It parallels the American idiocracy of covid denial, for example. Apathy, incompetence and self-interest.

Denial of science.

It’s certain ReTrumplicans will hate this film.

This movie came from my burgeoning terror about the climate crisis and the fact that we live in a society that tends to place it as the fourth or fifth news story, or in some cases even deny that it’s happening, and how horrifying that is, but at the same time preposterously funny.[10]— Adam McKay, writer, director, and producer of Don’t Look Up

Toronto HOLIDAY in December

Having traveled over 90 nations, IF you asked me where to go in December … near bottom of the list would be Toronto, OnTerrible. 😀

Yet for reasons I’m too embarrassed to relate, I ended up staying in a downtown hostel for 5 nights.

ON THE UPSIDE, the Planet Traveler Hostel in Kensington Market is excellent. I knew the eclectic Kensington neighbourhood from the  Canadian television sitcom which aired on CBC Television from 1975 to 1980.

The STAR of King of Kensington was Al Waxman, a household name in those days.

Waxman died in 2001 — but there’s a statue of him in a neighbourhood park. Crowded by homeless tents.

I really did enjoy funky Kensington, however. Weird shops, cafes, and restaurants.

I went looking for the #GardenCar. And found it.

There’s a lot of bad graffiti. And some excellent art.

My best meal was slow cooked ribs and brisket from Hogtown Smoke. I brought it back to the hostel where the wine was cheap. 😀

What do you do in a big city during wet, dark winter?

Photo by Vincent Albos on Pexels.com

MOVIES. MUSEUMS. STAGE PLAY. WALK. WALK. WALK.

First stop was an immersive van Gogh exhibit.

I attended my second NBA game ever. Toronto defeated the defending Champion Bucks — who were without their MVP Giannis that night.

My first visit to the Royal Ontario Museum was a surprise. Expensive. But excellent. The space compares well against the Prado in Madrid, for example.

My highlight? Light of the Desert, the world’s largest faceted cerussite gem, weighing 898 carats (179.6 g).

By Miranda1989

Next December? … Hawaii. 😀

My Name Is Rek”