Books and DVDs

I just finished the book Heat by Bill Buford and I started Break no Bones by Kathy Reichs.

Heat was very good but a little odd at times and disorganized--especially at the beginning. Buford would be quoting himself at times then shift to quoting someone else without any transition and often would have a large time shift involved as well. This tendency went away as the book went on but the time shift aspect never completely went away; Buford just got better at letting the reader know when the place and time had changed.

Heat is on the best sellers list and it's an unusual book for that list. Heat is about Buford's experience doing prep work and eventually cooking in Mario Batali's 3-star NYC restaurant Babbo. Buford is a journalist with the NY Times and this book is also about Buford's quest to become an authentic cook, perhaps chef, and to aid in this transformation he traveled many times to Italy and occasionally England to work under people that trained Batali when he was a developing chef himself. That his wife put up with this unusual midlife crisis is the most amazing thing about the book yet there's plenty more within the pages to make Heat a worthwhile read to anyone curious about what goes on in commercial kitchens. Believe me, after reading this book only true masochists would want to work there--or people that can't live without cooking for others. It's really a profession that involves a lot of sacrifice.

Throughout the book Buford slowly and deliberately tells the backstory of Batali's training in the culinary "arts" as well as short pastiches on some of the people that Buford meets during his own training. Definitely a very interesting book and quite well written -- but stay alert. Buford does throw some curves at you.

DVDs watched this past week:
While the reviews of Rumor has it are quite bad, I liked it a lot. The most of the 4 movies here, in fact. The movie is predicated on the idea that The Graduate was based on a real life event--and the main character, played by the lovely Jennifer Aniston, was possibly conceived during that triste. According to most of the reviews, the film starts off well with that premise and then fizzles--but I liked the comedic timing and much of the writing. This isn't a great film by any means but I found it quite entertaining. Shirley MacLaine is definitely the best part of the film.

Walk the Line
is a very good movie but for me it was too, too something. Careful, perhaps. Sure, you saw Johnny Cash's warts, so to say, but those are well known and the movie just seemed too pat to me. The first half of the movie--before Cash was famous--impressed me a lot more than the second. There wasn't all that much music in the film but that's a good thing. I know it's sacriligious to say, but the Man in Black was more image than music. Amazing what some good (or bad) PR can do.

Ultraviolet was horrible. The film often used bad computer graphics when defyng the laws of physics and those scenes were anything but seamless. The plot (was that a plot??) was so senseless I felt assaulted by its rank odor! In case you have some nasty, morbid curiousity about this movie, it's essentially a vampire flick that just uses a weak "plot" to move from one fight scene to another. And the fight scenes are so stupid and contrived you don't care one whit who wins or loses.

Firewall was typical Harrison Ford fare. Not a bad movie but you always knew what to expect. Not to say it was predictable in the plot sense. The plot was well thought out albeit too elaborate for a real life heist, but if you've seen any Harrison Ford movies--you know just where this film is going. My biggest objection is the ending. It's a "everything is rosy" ending, as you'd expect in a Harrison Ford movie, but anyone following the plot knows that the Ford character is royally screwed. If you've seen the movie, you know what I mean.


I found your reviews very very interesting Dave...I have seen "Walk The Line" and though I liked it a lot, I too felt something was just a bit off....Not the two main performances bu, I think you hit it on the head.
I've not seen the other three and probably the only one I might see is "Rumor Has It"...
I urge you to rent "Tell Them Who You Are" my dear...and thanks for the Kleenex! I sure needed it! (lol)
Claire said…
I've not seen any of these films. Walk The Line purely because it doesn't interest me but the others I just haven't gotten around too! I'm a fan of anything vampire so I'll probably give Ultraviolet a go at some point and I may/may not see the others depending on what else crops up!
Pearl's nummies said…
I don't know Harrison's usual movie. Caught it on a long flight. I felt Firewall's ending was unintentionally comedic. After all that jackie-channess, yes, rosie's the word.

I got the sense of patness from the trailer of Walk the Line and haven't decided whether to see it or not yet.

Haven't heard of the other 2.
Michael Manning said…
Great new look here Utenzi! "Walk the Line" must have been a tough role. I don't think anybody could really portray Johnny. Kurt Russell did a good job with Elvis on a TV movie years ago. Harrison Ford is cool. He gets to make out with so many hot women. But he has sure paid his dues! Very cool post!!
Erin said…
Greetings from Michele's tonight, Utenzi! Nice to see you again!

Thanks for the words on Rumor Has It. I wasn't planning to rent it since, yes, the reviews were bad - but perhaps I should give it a shot! I'm definitely a Jennifer fan.

Have a great weekend! :)
Karen said…
Thanks for the Heat review. I was thinking of buying it for my husband who has read Anthony Bourdain's book. Sounds like it might be worthwhile, but maybe I'll wait till it's in paperback.

Have a great weekend! Michele sent me tonight....
kenju said…
I haven't read those or seen any of those movies, Dave. Thanks for the reviews. Didn't want to skip you, since we posted the same time at Michele's.
I always enjoy reading movie and book reviews by bloggers that aren't professionl 'reviewers'! Thanks! I have yet to see Rumor Has It. It's been on my list. I agree with what you said about Walk The Line. Not putting down Cash's faith, but it seems to me that someone wanted that aspect (his redemption) to be what ended the movie...and that to me is what ruined it...the need to see him 'saved'. But, thats just me! I will say that I was super impressed with the job the actors did musically!
Here from Michele's and I always enjoy the visit!
Shane said…
Interesting reviews Dave:

Walk the Line was definitely more fascinating for the first half of the movie, but nevertheless, I thought it was a great flick.

I'll look into the Rumor movie - you sold me.


tommy said…
OK sounds like ultraviolet is my kind of movie. I hate movies with a plot, my life has plot lines, I see no need to pay the price of a ticket for something I get for free. Thankfully, my life is completely vampire and fight free so I think I'm in. But then I've loved Aeon Flux since it was a short on liquid television.

Michele sent me.
Thanks for the reviews. It is such a big deal these days when the man and I have a night to rent a flick that I hate it when we see something bad! I saw WALK THE LINE on a plane. It was pretty good for a time-killer in the air, but I wouldn't have given it any awards.

Hope you have a great weekend. Once again, Michele sent me over, and I can't believe it's the weeend already!
srp said…
Here from Michele.

First, love the Crepe Myrtle and the sitting hummingbird. In Mississippi they really did perch in the trees around the house quite often. I haven't seen very many here in Virginia, but we haven't put a feeder out yet.

Second, I really don't care for movies that are predictable. An old movie that ended up being one of my favorites is Dead Again with Kenneth Branaugh, Emma Thompson and Derek Jacobi. It is almost in the Hitchcock form.... I promise, I never saw it coming... thought I had it figured out but then.... well.... you'll just have to watch and see.
vanx said…
I'm going to cram a backpost from my thing (last Dec.) in here to tell you about the time I ran into Johnny and June:

You’re probably going to be hearing a lot about the so-called “Man in Black” over the next few days because of that new movie with Jude Law or whoever. Well, yes, I do think you need to hear more. Like: The man didn’t always wear black. Uh huh. That’s right. So gather roun’ now and I’ll tell you about the time... I saw Johnny Cash.

I take you to Newark Airport in the 1980s--some time before that hippy hip-hop guy reengineered Johnny’s case. I’m sitting, waiting to get on a plane to San Francisco, when these two elderly ladies (by all appearances) sit across from me. The eldest is wrapped in a crazy-colored homemade afghan with tufts of scraggly gray hair sticking out on top. Next, I notice that she also has some pretty cool boots. Cowboy boots. Then I look a little closer, and…hey, that’s no lady! That’s Johnny Cash! Or is it? (He had been out of the spotlight for years—but you know the feeling when you’re sure you’ve spotted a “person of interest”? I kind of had that feeling). Whoever it is has a horrible cold. I kind of forget about it until later, when I’m on line at the newsstand and there is a tap on my shoulder. It’s June Carter Cash, smiling warmly. “Yes,” she says, “It’s him.”

I thought it was very sweet of her to tell me—to have caught my double take in the first place. She had an absolute radiance about her, as I recall. Of course, I immediately ruined the moment by thinking of all the great guitarists that went down in airplanes. “I went down in a burning ring of fire…” etc. I reluctantly boarded the plane.

He got over his cold and his career slump. And he absolutely looks better in black than in an afghan.
Michelle said…
Dave, i loved Walk the Line, but like you, thought it was too soft.
Rumor has it, well i watched it for 10 mins then fell asleep....god awful movie!! That dvd is better used as a drink coaster!
The other 2 not seen, have a super weekend!
vanx said…
You know, you might be able to help me. I write for a science magazine, though I am not a scientist. Never mind. But as part of my job, I edit reviews of movies with "science" in them--the rievews are essentially and assessment of how science is represented. Are there any movies with science in them? I'll check back here hoping to find an answer. Luckily, I don't actually have to watch these movies. I can assign them to scientists who will be able to identify the science.~,:^)
rampant bicycle said…
Hmm. *contemplates*

Interesting. Thanks for the reviews! I'll keep them in mind next time I am considering one of these as a rental.

Hello from Michele's!

(Oh, and thanks for visiting me. Honestly, I suspect I wouldn't have liked the religious college for the same reason you wouldn't have as well. I'm not very Religious myself.)
kristen said…
hi there! i just recently heard about the _Heat_ on NPR and it sounded really interesting. It could have been on Fresh Air, but i was listening to the interview with Bill Buford. Thanks for the review.

and thank you also for visiting my blog
Carmi said…
I'm always fascinated when a journalist ventures beyond straight research and actually becomes part of the story.

It's a weird concept for me, because I was always taught that we don't become part of the story.

I guess my young, idealistic assumptions have evolved somewhat since I first started down the journalistic path.

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