Helen of Sparta, Making Her Own Fate

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Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella is a wonderfully written tale covering the period of time when Helen (daughter of Zeus and Leda) was the captive of Theseus (son of Poseidon and Aethra). While it does explore Helen’s character prior to her having met Theseus, this is really just the set up for the world as well as the characters.

Not only does Amalia show that she had done her research on the mythology surrounding Helen, but she does so by weaving a beautiful story to give the character (who may be known as Helen of Troy by some) time to tell her side of things. Helen is a strong female lead in this novel, having to fight the gods on whether her fate is sealed or of her own design. It’s heart wrenching, but also heart warming as she finds love and support in places she never thought she would.

While Helen of Sparta also follows Theseus through some of the middle chapters, it is still focused on Helen during that time, only going into depth in order to give the audience a better knowledge of how certain decisions were come to by the other major party in the story. It only builds up the novel, by giving the other characters depth, instead of scattering thoughts by having more than one point of view.

Overall I give Helen of Sparta 5/5 stars, recommending this novel to any mythology buff and/or anyone who enjoys a strong female lead. Beautifully constructed and wonderful depth given to characters glossed over in current mythology.

Live by the Silver Linings Playbook?

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The Silver Linings Playbook, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, is a film that has won many awards, including a BAFTA, an Oscar and an Academy Award while being nominated for several others. While this is a film adaptation of a novel, I have yet to pick up the novel, so my review will not be all encompassing from that standpoint. Silver Linings Playbook follows Pat, Bradley Cooper’s character as his mother, against doctor’s orders, brings him home after a time in a mental institution. With an ex-wife he is trying to win back and a new girl, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who not only battles her own demons but also wants to win Pat’s affections, life is more than difficult to handle at times.

While I’m certainly no expert on dealing with mental disorders, even I can tell that this film was written and performed beautifully. It’s always hard to get it just right, as sufferers from the same illness may have diverse reactions to the same situation, but in this case they went with it and made a killing. The actors, in addition, bring nuances to the film that might be lost in script form, but certainly bring it to life while watching it. I was drawn in and felt their tumultuous emotions during the two hours of film time.

As the movie progresses, you find yourself immersed in Pat’s new life and how he isn’t coping well; wanting to win his ex-wife back even though she has a restraining order against him. Until he is given something to focus on, encouraged and enforced by Tiffany, he has a hard time making his life into a functional, happy one. He learns, over the course of the movie, that what he thought he wanted and would make him happy once more and what actually makes him happy are two very different things. With this emotional turnabout, the audience is relieved to see him making a wonderful choice in order to continue his life without dwelling on the past and his stint in the mental institution.

While this film has an R rating and would not be suitable for minors due to some violence and mostly a lot of swearing, I would suggest it to anyone 16 and up, as long as they had a mature mindset. It’s a well-written, beautifully performed story about finding happiness and coping with your problems. I definitely don’t recommend this if you are looking for something more funny and romantic, although it is technically a rom-com; it’s a bit more on the serious and bittersweet side. Still, I give Silver Linings Playbook a 5/5 stars!

Lucy: One Girl You Never Want To Know

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Lucy: a movie starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman is a slightly ridiculous science fiction movie that should have had a more coherent plot if it wanted to keep audiences interested for the entire 90 minutes it was on screen. As much as I love the two big-name actors that are fronting this movie, the writing of the screenplay was atrocious at best. I knew, going into it, that it wasn’t likely to leave a lasting impression based on the rating it had received (58%) on Rotten Tomatoes, plus a lovely movie review blog I follow here on WordPress (Justine’s Blog) that discussed her thoughts on the movie. In any case, I decided that for a fun night out with my boyfriend, we would go watch Lucy.

At first the premise wasn’t so bad, Sure, it posits that humans only use about 10% of their brain and though it is not a true fact of life it is presented as one. For a good plot I’m ready to believe anything (like aliens exist, zombies have taken over the world, the world has been thrown into another ice age…), so I let it go. In fact, for a good half of the film it seemed as though everything was going to tie together. Even when we watched Lucy, the main character, become a drug mule and get beaten up as a plot device to get the new drug into her system. The new drug, unsurprisingly, makes Lucy super-powerful and capable of accessing 100% of her brain.

You see, here is where things start to get a little wonky. I could suppose that it’s all the writer’s take on what could happen if humans were able to use all of their brain and that the hypothesis could be that the said human (Lucy, in this case) would become God-like in qualities and powers possessed. However, the fact that Morgan Freeman’s character, the man who has been studying the 10% functionality and theorizing what would happen if brain power were boosted past that threshold, was correct in all of his concepts threw me. Science and more specifically theories are meant to be proved incorrect. “In all science, error precedes the truth, and it is better it should go first than last.” Hugh Walpole once said. The beginning part of the quote is the part I’d like to focus on—”error precedes the truth”. This is almost always true (i.e. the world was flat—until it was proven to be spherical), and when theories are posited you expect even a tiny little itty bit of them to be at least not-so-right. (See X-Men, Alphas). I just found his spot-on hypotheses to be really sketchy.

Continuing on in the movie, Scarlett Johansson undoubtedly gave a phenomenal performance (as did Freeman), but the plot got lost partway through. Suddenly everything changed from Lucy wanting nothing more than to get out of the situation she was in and go back to her normal life with finals and partying, but then she got all caught up trying to get her brain to get to 100% functionality—seemingly for no reason. I tried to go with it, as any audience does when a plot twist is thrown at them, but it was difficult to understand where the movie was going by now.

The finale of the movie (which I won’t spoil for you, don’t worry), was lackluster and seemed like a cop-out in the face of all the questions left over from the movie. It seemed like they were trying to go for some enlightenment or a big ‘aha’, but no one in the audience seemed to get it. Whether it went over our heads or it just wasn’t made clear, I’m not sure. I just know that no one left the theater satisfied.