July 6th, 2016


Movie Critique 2016 – 04/19/2016: Sleepless In Seattle

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: Romance on the air - old concept in a new bottle - another good watch for those cozy nights. Don’t forget the tissues!!!

Sleepless in Seattle is a 1993 American romantic drama starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. This is their second installment together after the 1990 Joe Vs Volcano. Nora Ephron directed this movie. She also had directed the You've Got Mail (My review here) which was the third installment between these two actors.

I had mentioned about this movie when I posted about An Affair To Remember movie. This movie is a kind of homage to this 1957 classic. The movie is even mentioned in more than few scenes and also uses the reference to Empire State Building at the end. Another movie that was made with low budget but went on to become a great success earning millions.

Sam Baldwin (portrayed by Tom Hanks), a Chicago architect, after losing his wife Maggie, moves to Seattle with his son Jonah to start a new life hoping to overcome the grief. Annie Reed (portrayed by Meg Ryan), a Baltimore Sun reporter, is engaged to Walter (portrayed by Bill Pullman) but feels something missing even though she wants their engagement turn into marriage.

On a return drive from her parents' home after the Christmas Eve dinner, she tunes into a radio program where Jonah is on the air talking to this talk show host about his father needing a wife. Sam comes on to the show a little while later and Annie listens to his grieving and thoughts of his wife. After listening to the show thousands of women write letters to Sam sensing him proposals. While Annie finds that she is missing the "magic" that Sam talked about between her and Walter. She writes a letter to Sam suggesting to meet on Empire State Building on Valentine's Day after watching Affair To Remember movie. Thus begins the tug of tale Annie faces between accepting Walter as is and her obsession to find Sam - coming pretty close becoming a stalker. :P

The movie has so many emotional moments that would consume all the tissues in your home yet you would run to the store and bring more so you can complete watching it. Annie's chirpy self and Sam's melancholy moods are so opposite to each other yet complement perfectly.

Carrie Lowell as Maggie - even though for very few scenes looks charming. I always will remember her as Assistant District Attorney Jamie Ross on the television drama Law & Order than any other role.

The first time Sam sees Annie in the airport, he realizes that he can love again if the girl looks like her.

The director has also put in bits and pieces of Maggie in Annie to make it look equally plausible for Sam to fall for her. For someone who doesn’t believe in superstitions, Annie falls for signs and so does Jonah. Another connection that the director has smartly included getting all the elements under one umbrella. Scene below shows were Annie thinks its a sign that her impending nuptials with Walter may not be right because the wedding dress tears while trying on.

The director adds the reference to The Affair To Remember movie again using the dialogue "hello" and the scene mimicking from the movie although in a different way.

And here is the one from Affair To Remember movie.

There is plenty of comic relief as well not to forget that.

It is so interesting that in the entire movie although Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are the lead actors, they do not share more than 2 mins of screen space together. Yet the entire plot revolves around them. This unique concept perhaps has made the move all the more lovable.

I recommend this movie for those cozy days but caution you that keep a bunch of tissues beside. Enjoy it in leisure.

Book Critique 2016 – 04/20/2016: Murder, She Wrote #26: Three Strikes And You're Dead

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all books under Murder, She Wrote series: Go here

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: If you want an easy and quick murder mystery pick it up and you will enjoy it.

Murder, She Wrote: Three Strikes And You're Dead is the 26th installment of the book in this series whose books were based off of the famed Universal Television Murder, She Wrote. Written by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain, the books was published in October of 2006. The plot is based in and around baseball - the game that I understand very less. A great timing for me to complete this book though. I was visiting my family in CA that week (the day this post originally was supposed to be written, I am seriously behind! :P) and I got a crash course on baseball with this book so I could understand and enjoy my nephew's t-ball games. :P

Jessica Fletcher is in Arizona visiting her old school friend, Meg Duffy and her husband, Judge Jack Duffy. Jack had presided as a judge in the Family Division of the Superior Court, Hudson County, New Jersey. Ty Ramos was the foster son of the Duffy's who was playing for The Rattlers - minor league baseball team and a Double-A team in the Pacific West division. Ty hits the winning run and gets a huge win for The Rattlers. However, the team owner Harrison Bennett (H. B.) is not thrilled as his decision was over-written by the coach and Ty had taken the winning run rather than H. B.'s son Junior Bennett. There is a rivalry between Junior and Ty whose flames are being encouraged by H. B. much to the disappointment of the Duffy's.

During the after game winning party, Ty and Junior get into a fight outside the bar and Ty leaves him there lying on the floor. However shortly after Junior is found dead his head bashed in my by a baseball bat. And Ty is the prime suspect as he had been the last one seen with Junior per the witnesses. To hurt it further, the baseball used to kill Junior was a something Ty had used it as a kid. And his tough childhood was not helping either. He was being convicted by media even before the case was investigated. Duffy's had taken Ty from a rough neighborhood and with all of their hard work they finally became a family. And now this murder is casting a shadow over him. Jessica doesn’t believe that Ty had anything to do with the murder despite what the circumstances speak for. She along with Sherriff Hualga dig deep and investigate to get Ty exonerated and also find the real killer.

The plot is complicated and just perfect like any other Murder, She Wrote TV series. It was fun to learn so many baseball terms, get first-hand read on the various politics around any game as such and the intricacies involved. It did keep me on the edge and I could not guess the killer until it was revealed. That is new for me for this series. All in all a good murder mystery, light on mind and easy on heart.

I remember an episode based on baseball produced for the Murder, She wrote TV series that had a similar title. The TV episode however was called "Three Strikes, You're Out" which was aired on May 7 1989 as Season 5 Episode 20. There are certain differences between the two (the TV episode and the book) but both plots revolve around baseball. I wonder if Donald Bain's book is inspired from the TV episode. Click here to watch the episode.