January 07, 2012

GirlReaction Goes to the Movies: Favorites 2011

You know when you mention a movie you saw recently and the person you're talking to says "Oh you saw it in the theater? Really? I haven't been to a movie in the theater since..." ? Yeah, that happens to me a lot. My dad is a huge movie buff, we've been going to them as a family my whole life, I'm never going to stop going to them, and people need to STOP COMMENTING ON IT. :) Heh.

I saw 35 movies [in the theater] in 2011 which is exactly my average over the past 12 years, which means it's not as many as I wanted to see, but still a fair amount considering what the last year of life has entailed time-commitment wise.

I've been thinking about it and thinking about and it turns out my very favorite movie in 2011 was The Guard. I know I said in that review it was probably top 5 or 2 but yeah. I was wrong.

Here's the list of my favorites with links to Snip reviews and very brief commentary. [Although be warned, a bunch of them got reviewed in the same Snip post so they're quite succinct. Heh.]

1. The Guard - black humor, yet heartfelt.

2. Tree of Life - throw out that 30-minute visual creation OH HAI dinosaurs in the middle and this would have been #1. The family stuff was super compelling.

3. Red State - Kevin Smith's masterpiece.

4. The King's Speech - technically a 2010 movie for many people I'm sure. Quite lovely.

5. Beginners - the previews were so twee, I was leery of it. It was so sweet and really touching.

6. Midnight in Paris - really a movie about the joy of movies and art and connections. quite good.

7. Take Shelter - paranoia. discomfort. anxiety. but good movie making. [email me if you need the password for that review. it's the same pword that was formerly used to leave comments on Snip.]

8. Haunters - one of the most original movies you could ever possibly see. Spooky but sometimes sooooo funny.

9. True Grit - another one others saw in 2010. Really great. Gritty in the best possible way.

10. Somewhere - a slow (SLOW) but lovely exploration of how celebrity steals away one's real life.

Unfortunately movies can be a little harder to choose than books and I also saw some real doozies in 2011. The WORST movies I saw were Hanna (the dialogue was horrible, the plot had so many holes), The Green Hornet in 3D (overdone, dumb--heh, sounds like I didn't quite dislike it as much in my original review as in my memory. I guess it got worse with time!), Bridesmaids (I HATE THAT MOVIE. I'm SO SICK of people talking about how it's finally the movie that shows how girls are. NO IT IS NOT) and The Company Men a ridiculous movie that misread its possible audience in such a huge way.

Biggest tearjerker: Buck
Most nostalgia creating: Super 8
Cleverest dialogue: Young Adult
Most ridiculous scenario: Cowboys & Aliens
Best house lived in by main character: The Mechanic
Made me feel most voyeuristic and icky: Blue Valentine
Felt most like 89 movies I'd seen before: The Fighter
Made me super mad: Black Swan
Movie I really liked that no one else in the world saw: Somewhere
Possibly the best EVER use of 3D with some of the world's most annoying voiceovers: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Best action movie: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Best song sung by lead actor: Martha Marcy May Marlene
Also best introduction of a new actor: Martha Marcy May Marlene

And that's it for 2011. I have my first two flicks of 2012 lined up for today and tomorrow (VERY LATE for me, last year I saw 7 movies in the first 7 days of January) and I can't wait to see them!

Posted by Duff - Say What? - Permalink | filed under 2011, All Faves, FaveMovies

January 06, 2012

GirlReaction Reads: Favorites of 2011

I read 113 books in 2011 which is higher than my 85-book average for the past 6 years (see more stats here) but pretty much par for the course. Also I don't usually include textbooks and articles on my reading lists but this year I did include all the children's and YA fiction I read for a class I took this fall because, after all, it was fiction! :) It wasn't a class that counted toward my degree, just an elective I had been wanting to take. Only crazy people take an extra class during student teaching though; I can't say I really recommend it!

I read more non-fiction than usual (a lot of memoirs!) but no short stories at all. What? (I did start 2012 off with some though!)

It's always hard to pin these things down, but...

My top six very favorite books read during 2011 were (not in any order) "Wonderstruck" by Brian Selznick, Love Is the Higher Law, by David Levithan, "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett, "36 Arguments for the Existence of God", by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein (that's fiction, despite its non-fiction-like sounding title), "Mother's Milk" by Edward St. Aubyn and "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" by Tom Franklin.

I also really really loved two of the last books I read in December: "A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness (not at all Twilight for adults, as I keep seeing it called--the quirks of the publishing industry's advertising could really drive one to madness, couldn't they?) and "Falling Together" by Marisa de los Santos.

I do read a ton of both adult and YA fantasy/sci fi, as you might know heh, and my favorites in 2011 were "Divergent" by Veronica Roth, "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss, "Aftertime" by Sophie Littlefield, "Across the Universe" by Beth Revis and "Hunger" by Jackie Morse Kessler.

Other YA, but not fantasy, or not really, books I loved were "Ninth Ward" by Jewell Parker Rhodes, and both "Okay for Now" and "The Wednesday Wars" by Gary D. Schmidt. And I particularly loved a novel in verse "Inside Out & Back Again" by Thanhha Lai.

I enjoyed Rosanne Cash and Keith Richards' memoirs, I loved both the fiction and non-fiction I read by David H. Hackworth, widely known as one of America's most decorated soldiers (now deceased), I would recommend absolutely any and everything (romance and memoir) written by my good friend Rachael Herron and if you want to revisit my favorite fantasy books of all time as I did this year I recommend The Tornor Chronicles by Elizabeth A. Lynn (book 1 is "Watchtower") and The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander (book 1 is "The Book of Three").

I read a LOT of stuff I loved this year, a lot of stuff that was good and fun and only a very few things I wish I hadn't wasted time on and most of those woudn't wind up appearing on the read list anyway! :) I grew out of that whole "I HAVE to finish every book I start!" baloney in my late 30s. There just isn't time for bad books. And there are SO many good ones out there!!

Posted by Duff - Say What? - Permalink | filed under 2011, All Faves, FaveBooks

Books Read in 2011

date refers to date finished; i.e., just b/c I finished two books in a given day doesn't mean I read two entire books that day!

  • Enclave, by Ann Aguirre (12/27)
  • The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, by Margarita Engle (12/27) (biography) (poetry)
  • Someday Soon, by Joan Wolf (12/26)
  • No Dark Place, by Joan Wolf (12/26) (re-read)
  • Life, by Keith Richards (12/25) (memoir)
  • Steel My Soldiers' Hearts: The Hopeless to Hardcore Transformation of U.S. Army, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, Vietnam, by David H. Hackworth (12/24) (memoir)
  • Foiled, by Jane Yolen (12/20) (graphic novel)
  • To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel, by Siena Cherson (12/20) (memoir) (graphic novel)
  • One Day, by David Nicholls (12/19)
  • Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai (12/18)
  • Falling Together, by Marisa de los Santos (12/17)
  • A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness (12/16)
  • The Black Cauldron, by Lloyd Alexander (12/10)
  • Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery (12/6) (re-read) (audio)
  • Three Cups of Deceit, by Jon Krakauer (11/11)
  • A Life in Stitches, by Rachael Herron (11/10)
  • Invitation to the Game, by Monica Hughes (11/10)
  • The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt (11/8)
  • Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine (11/8)
  • When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead (11/7)
  • Love Is the Higher Law, by David Levithan (11/6)
  • Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow, by Susan Campbell Bertoletti (11/6)
  • Charles and Emma; the Darwins' Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman (11/6)
  • Honeybee, by Naomi Shihab Nye (10/30) (poetry)
  • The Ocean Between Us, by Susan Wiggs (10/30)
  • Life as We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer (10/28)
  • The Demon Trapper's Daughter, by Jana Oliver (10/23)
  • The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander (10/23)(re-read)
  • Feed, by M.T. Anderson (10/21)
  • Educating Esme, Diary of a Teacher's First Year, by Esme Raji Codell (10/18)
  • Northlanders Vol 2: The Cross + The Hammer (10/15)
  • Northlanders Vol 1: Sven The Returned, by Brian Wood (10/15)
  • Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Patterson (10/15)
  • Where do you think you're going, Christopher Columbus? by Jean Fritz, pics by Margot Tomes (10/10)
  • The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel (10/10)
  • Don't You Know There's a War On? by Avi (10/9)
  • Ten Birds, by Cybele Young (10/9)
  • The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin (10/9)
  • The Trouble with Thirteen, by Betty Miles (10/8) (re-read)
  • Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick (10/8)
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick (10/8)
  • Journey Into Mohawk Country, by George O'Connor (10/2)
  • Y: The Last Man -- Unmanned, by Brian K. Vaughn (10/1)
  • Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt (9/25)
  • Stitches, by David Small (9/23)
  • The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life, by Ann Patchett (9/22)
  • The Arrival, by Shaun Tan (9/18)
  • Lockdown, by Walter Dean Myers (9/17)
  • Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem, by Marilyn Nelson (9/15) (poetry)
  • The Patchwork Quilt, by Valerie Flournoy (9/11)
  • The Butter Battle Book, by Dr. Seuss (9/11)
  • Maizon at Blue Hill, by Jacqueline Woodson (9/10)
  • Weed Flower, by Cynthia Kadohata (9/10)
  • The Northern Girl, by Elizabeth A. Lynn (9/x) (re-read)
  • The Dancers of Arun, by Elizabeth A. Lynn (9/x) (re-read)
  • Watchtower, by Elizabeth A. Lynn (9/x) (re-read)
  • The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, by Peter Sis (9/4)
  • Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi (9/4)
  • Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest (9/3)
  • Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes (8/29)
  • Purgatory Chasm, by Steve Ulfelder (8/27)
  • A Summer to Die, by Lois Lowry (8/27) (re-read)
  • Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White (8/26) (re-read)
  • The New Teacher Book, from Rethinking Schools (8/24)
  • The Bone People, by Keri Hulme (8/21)
  • The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner (8/12)
  • Heartless, by Gail Carriger (8/8)
  • Rebirth, by Sophie Littlefield (8/6)
  • The Cradle in the Grave, by Sophie Hannah (8/4)
  • Divergent, by Veronica Roth (8/1)
  • Maybe This Time, by Jennifer Crusie (7/26)
  • Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, by Tom Franklin (6/28)
  • The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss (6/26)
  • The Price of Honor, by Colonel David H. Hackworth (6/19)
  • Just Like Heaven, by Julia Quinn (6/19)
  • The Hunted, by Elmore Leonard (6/19)
  • State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett (6/18)
  • The Hero of Ages, by Brandon Sanderson (6/17)
  • One Bullet Away, the Making of a Marine Officer, by Nathaniel Fick (6/6)
  • Generation Kill, by Evan Wright (6/5)
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch (6/2)
  • Trust No One, by Gregg Hurwitz (5/?)
  • All Clear, by Connie Willis (5/15)
  • Blackout, by Connie Willis (5/14) (re-read)
  • Relentless, by Lauren Dane (5/12)
  • Carry Me Down, by M.J. Hyland (5/12)
  • Blameless, by Gail Carriger (5/11)
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch (5/7)
  • Killbox, by Ann Aguirre (4/28)
  • 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein (4/28)
  • The Well of Ascension, by Brandon Sanderson (4/17)
  • Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson (4/14)
  • Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White (4/10) (re-read)
  • Changeless, by Gail Carriger (4/8)
  • The Berrybender Narratives, Book 1: Sin Killer, by Larry McMurtry (4/6)
  • Soulless, by Gail Carriger (4/5)
  • Aftertime, by Sophie Littlefield (3/29)
  • The Night Season, by Chelsea Cain (3/24)
  • Undercover, by Lauren Dane (3/18)
  • Tempest Rising, By Nicole Peeler (3/18)
  • Composed, by Rosanne Cash (3/15)
  • Magic at the Gate, by Devon Monk (3/15)
  • The Dark and Hollow Places, by Carrie Ryan (3/15)
  • How to Knit a Heart Back Home, by Rachael Herron (3/13)
  • Mother's Milk, by Edward St Aubyn (3/12)
  • River Marked, by Patricia Briggs (3/9)
  • Faith Fox, by Jane Gardam (2/20)
  • Visitation, by Jenny Erpenbeck (2/14)
  • Across the Universe, by Beth Revis (2/1)
  • The Old Devils, by Kingsley Amis (1/27)
  • What the Librarian Did, by Karina Bliss (1/19)
  • The Sentry, a Joe Pike novel, by Robert Crais (1/18)
  • Hunger, by Jackie Morse Kessler (1/5)

Posted by Duff - Say What? - Permalink | filed under 2011, Books

December 26, 2011

Duff at the Movies 2011

  • Young Adult (12/26)
  • Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (12/23)
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene (11/26)
  • Take Shelter (10/22)
  • Haunters (10/15)
  • Our Idiot Brother (9/4)
  • The Guard (8/5)
  • Cowboys & Aliens (8/3)
  • Harry Potter 8: Deathly Hallows 2 (7/24)
  • Super 8 (7/6)
  • Buck (7/4)
  • Beginners (6/22)
  • Hanna (6/9)
  • Midnight in Paris (6/5)
  • Tree of Life (6/4)
  • Incendies (en fran├žais) (5/26)
  • Thor (5/25)
  • Cave of Forgotten Dreams (3D)(5/13)
  • Hesher (5/11)
  • Bridesmaids (5/10)
  • Certified Copy (4/?)
  • Red State (3/8)
  • Cedar Rapids (3/6)
  • No Strings Attached (2/20)
  • The Company Men (2/6)
  • The Mechanic (2/4)
  • The Tourist (1/16)
  • Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (1/11)
  • Blue Valentine (1/7)
  • The King's Speech (1/6)
  • The Fighter (1/5)
  • The Green Hornet (3D) (1/4)
  • Black Swan (1/2)
  • True Grit (1/2)
  • Somewhere (1/1)

Posted by Duff - Say What? - Permalink | filed under 2011, Movies

December 20, 2011

Duff Does Live Music 2011

  • Alabama Shakes (12/17)
  • Bon Iver (5th x) (7/23)
  • Iron & Wine (6/6)
  • The Head and the Heart (6/6)
  • Arcade Fire (4th x) (4/22)
  • The National (3rd x) (4/22)
  • Sharon Von Etten (4/9)
  • In Tall Buildings (4/9)
  • Greg Laswell (3/3)
  • HelloGoodbye (2/17)
  • The Avett Brothers (2nd x) (1/29)
  • David Mayfield Parade (1/29)

Posted by Duff - Say What? - Permalink | filed under 2011, Gigs