Jon Krakauer’s stunning biography Where Men Win Glory details the life and death of Pat Tillman, a nationally known NFL player who turned down a multimillion-dollar contract to serve in Afghanistan, a decision that ultimately cost him his life. The chapter arrangement is reminiscent of Steinbeck’s style in The Grapes of Wrath, alternating between Tillman’s life and chronicling the Afghan political turmoil that led to his untimely death in 2004. I honestly don’t care much for political history of any nation, but reading about the thoughtful, tough, sensitive, gentile giant named Pat Tillman, I wish I could have met him. I realize posthumous tributes are often written with rose-colored glasses, but Krakauer authentically paints a complex man who’s at once relatable and strange in his uniqueness. I’m not even done with the book yet and I can already give it a 9.5/10 for entertaining anecdotes, a relatable protagonist, and an emotional tribute. Half a point lost because the politics aren’t my cup of tea, but I respect the narrative structure. Even if you have no clue who Pat Tillman is, read this.
*Note: Because the movie follows the book so closely, this will be a combo review. Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaption of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel is a true masterpiece. It follows the novel to the letter, each scene drenched in the saturated color Luhrmann is known for. DiCaprio brilliantly captures the fear, denial, and delusional certainty behind the title character’s facade of easygoing luxury and friendly bribery. Carey Mulligan gives an irritatingly ethereal essence to the golden girl Daisy Buchanan, which nicely complements Joel Edgerton’s rough and rude demeanor as her husband Tom. Toby Maguire looks somewhat like a shrew, but this adds to his portrayal of Nick Carraway’s nervous excitement and displacement in the glamorous high society of 1920s New York City. The Wilsons follow their literary counterparts well. Isla Fisher gives Myrtle the smolder and fire the book demands and Jason Clark as George Wilson hides behind her shadow while he can. Gatsby and Daisy definitely have chemistry but it’s built only on dreams and memories. Overall 10/10 for amazing set and costume, the fact that the characters and plot are authentic to the source material, and picking Leonardo DiCaprio for the lead. Watch it, especially if you like the original novel.
Passengers is a thoughtful movie that explores the primal human need for community. After spending a year alone on the Starship Avalon due to a technical malfunction, Jim encounters (in an interesting way) Aurora, a young beautiful writer. (So she and I are kind of twins. 😉 ) As the only two humans awake on the entire craft, their dynamic is interesting and extreme, yet elements of it ring true in every relationship. The only characters of note in the two-hour movie are Jim Preston, Aurora Lane, and the android bartender Arthur. (A ship deck chief appears later in the movie, but only as a plot device for action). The wrench in their relationship is inevitable to viewers, but it creates good dialogue among both characters and audience. The movie seems to suffer an identity crisis in the third act, abruptly shifting from a thoughtful philosophical drama to a high-stakes action flick and then back again. While the movie does an excellent job as a cerebral romance, the action feels forced and rushed. There is a certain conflict that adds an insidious undertone to the movie and drives the action of the third act. Overall 8/10 for thoughtful and original plot, exponential stat power, and discussion-provoking ideas. Points deducted for the identity crisis.
I am a poet
I scrape the insides of my mind
Excavate old wounds, old scars
For the pleasure of others
Write so furiously
A thunderstorm struggles to keep up
Dead in my tracks
Out of words
Out of food for the soul
And then I start again
When words come to me
I don’t write poems
Poems write them
I am merely a vessel
Through which the indescribable wonder of the universe
Is condensed into a mere few lines
Finding the EXACT word
Or the specific simile
Or the arranged alliteration
To create emotion
Tears, laughter, anger, sorrow, joy
All these I can create
I hold the key to the soul of the world
Is the mind of a poet.
So I finally joined the bandwagon and watched the movie. The grandma is hilarious and wise. Maui is a hilarious, complex, heartfelt character. Moana’s relationship with her grandmother brings some tears to my eyes, as I had a similar special connection with my own grandmother. The magical scene with the spirits of her grandmother and other voyagers was beautiful. The unexpected reveal about the villian raises thoughtful questions about how circumstances change someone. I admire the movie for giving Moana a position of power, while keeping her realistic and naive. She was also unburdened by unnecessary relationships, and I admire that. Overall, a quality movie that shows a young admirable role model. 10/10 for likable characters, an actually unexpected twist, and a killer score. I just regret waiting so long.
* I wrote this imagist poem in about five minutes in American Lit class, and then expanded on it in prose.
Stand at attention
Watch him descend
A folded flag
And a legacy of honor
One childless mother
Mary Wilson watched in shock and grief as Liam’s body was lowered into the cold, unforgiving ground. She was too numb for tears, but the sky wept for her, and the roar of thunder echoed the anger in her heart. Mr. Charles Wilson stood beside her. He grieved, but also admired his son’s courage and kindness. The Wilson’s had no other children, only each other-a terrifying prospect.
My name is Elena Vaughn, and I have a passion for the written word. This blog will be a combination of fiction, poetry, and reviews of various media. I will attempt to create some sort of schedule, but I make no promises. Enjoy!