Category Archives: Book Review

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BEIRUT & YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (2 reviews, No spoilers)

I am writing two quick reviews of two movies, BEIRUT and YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE for two reasons. First off, I just saw them this past Sunday, they have been in the  theater for a bit but I just now got to check them out. Secondly, they are about to leave the theater tomorrow or next week. Whoops, guess there is a third as I wanted to recommend both of them if you ever get a chance to watch them.

BEIRUT stars Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike and a unrecognizable Dean Norris, about a former U.S. diplomat in 1982, returning to Beirut after ten years to save a colleague from a terrorist group responsible for murdering his family. The movie works mainly because of Jon Hamm’s performance. I don’t know if I like him as a person all that much because of what I’ve seen in interviews and heard about his private life, but like Tom Cruise, he can act the pants off anything and always brings his A-game.

The movie almost falters because of the very predictable plot. No doubt the film is entertaining and it is actually a unique in the beginning but then when several twists and turns are revealed it turns into a lame conspiracy mess. You can basically keep up with each beat and plot point and if you don’t, don’t worry, some characters spells it all out for the viewer (you know, in case we were that stupid). The film is light on action but the dialogue is nice and hefty, thanks to screenwriter Tony Gilroy (if you don’t know who he is apparently he saved Rogue One from being a complete disaster and even wrote that awesome Darth Vader scene at the end).

The finale is a little white knuckle even if it is predictable, but I didn’t regret seeing the film. It probably in the end won’t be very memorable but if you are bored and happen to see it on Netflix, you could make much worse choices…like any Netflix Adam Sandler film. By the way, Rosamund Pike is good in this movie but isn’t given that much to do.

Speaking of a conspiracy mess, it’s funny how YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE also contains one, and the conspiracy is almost as outlandish as it was in Beirut. Out of the two movies though I recommend this one more, in all essence because of Joaquin Phoenix’s performance alone. He stars as a hired post traumatic stress depressed war veteran that is hired tracking down missing and trafficked girls. And….that is all you need to know really. One of the girls he is trying to track leads to a big conspiracy. And while it was cool trying to figure out what was going on, the end result, at least for me, was a little ho-hum. I thought the conspiracy was too outlandish for the people involved to never have been caught until now.

The movie is supposed to be dark, gritty, and hyper realistic, and it is, but the conspiracy kind of takes that jolt and almost brings it to an absurd crossing the line ludicrous kind of affair. I did like a minor twist with the ending, and the movie is a tight 90 minutes to recommend anyone that finds this on a streaming service when it eventually comes to video. The movie is worth watching for Joaquin Phoenix alone, who turns in probably his best performance to date. If this movie was released later in the year, he could’ve been up for an Oscar but it just being released and being extremely limited, I am very doubtful unless every Oscar prospect sucks at the end of the year.

And be for warned, the movie is pretty violent and has some disturbing content for those with a faint of heart. But yeah, worth seeing for the performance and the gritty realism, but it almost loses itself with the out of whack conspiracy.

Anyway, if your interest is piqued I believe these are still playing at Cinemark Legacy and Cinemark West Plano, but if you don’t have the time, definitely give them a Netflix view.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BLACK PANTHER (spoiler free!!!)

Let’s get this out of the way: BLACK PANTHER is already the best film of 2018, one of the MCU’s best films to date, and really proves that Warner Bros. and DC need to get their shit together and fast. Believe the hype, this movie is pretty fantastic. What I really love most about the MCU right now is that while they slowly have tried to reinvent themselves from their same old schtick and formula, starting with Guardians Vol. 1, they are gradually progressing with Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, and now seem to be kicking it into high gear with this. While some of the same threads of the MCU formula are still in there, co-writer and director Ryan Coogler makes Black Panther is own animal, bringing in new cultural and ethical elements into the franchise oh and uh, maybe finally solving the MCU villain problem.

If you don’t think MCU (hell even DC right now) has a villain problem, you are up dumb shit creek. What villain do you truly love in the MCU other than Loki and Vulture? Yes, Black Panther has the best MCU villain thus far with Erik Killmonger. That’s right, even better than Loki and Vulture for me. While Loki has that charm that Tom Hiddleston swoons both males and females with, and while the Vulture was played with some balls and class by Michael Keaton, neither of the two had a very legitimate reason for being villains or any true emotional wait. Loki just wanted to rule, and Vulture wanted to make money. Erik Killmonger has the best reason for doing what he is doing, and you actually feel for this villain, and Michael B. Jordan’s fantastic performance brings everything together. Don’t worry, I know I put spoil free at the top, so I won’t reveal his motivations, just to say that they have worked the best out of all the MCU films.

To make this spoil free, let’s write a short two sentence abstract statement about the plot. Black Panther takes place about a week after the events of Civil War. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has to adjust to being the new king in Wakanda with enemies old and new surrounding him. That’s all I will say. The plot slowly builds around all of these fantastic non-one dimensional characters and then once true revelations are revealed, goes into all out hyper mode. My one criticism with this film, let’s just get it out of the way, are some of the special effects in the climax. All the effects building to the climax are top notch and amazing, but let’s say that the climax has a few CGI shaky moments the film could’ve used maybe just a couple of more days of touch up on. Mainly having to due with the Panther suits and how the characters heads sort of wobble, knowing that they are actually probably wearing green screen suits.

But that is a minor quibble, because everything else is astonishingly good. While Chadwick Boseman is already a fantastic actor, and is probably going to be this generations Denzel, it is really the ladies of Wakanda that steal the show and the entire movie out from under the men, other than Michael B. Jordan of course. Danai Gurira, who you may know as Michonne on The Walking Dead, plays Okoye, one of T’Challa’s royal guards, and her fierceness and determination makes a lot of scenes more believable and well rounded. Lupita Nyong’o plays T’Challa’s love interest, and she has a couple of scenes to shine, and so does Angela Bassett as T’Challa’s mother. But the real scene stealer is T’Challa’s sister, played by Leticia Wright. If this were a Bond film, you could say that she is the Q of Black Panther, designing and making all the cool tech you see throughout the film. But it is her jokes and one-liners that make her the star, and hopefully she is in every Black Panther film as much as this one.

You have other characters to, like Martin Freeman as the one token white guy throughout this film that just gets dragged along for the ride. He’s there as a story/plot representation of the audience, seeing everything for the first time in wonder. You also have Forest Whitaker, who is there in just a couple of scenes to provide plot information. And Andy Serkis is in this, who is so fantastic with his very small role that you wish he was in the film a little bit more, where you could say he really solves the Marvel villain problem. Also, you have recent Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) who plays a Wakandian that is on a different tribe. His role is small too, however everyone does have an important part to play at some point or another and even though some of the roles are very small, all of the character progression and growth is so well rounded, it makes the characterization of Baron Zemo (the main villain in Civil War) look outright childish.

This movie does a whole boat load of things right. It not only brings a solid story with it, it also combines cultural significance and heritage of a people and uses it in the best way I have ever seen out of a comic book film. It is really hard to talk about it without getting into spoilers, but lets just say you’ll know what I mean when you see and hear it . This film is gorgeous. Wakanda is a place where I would want to live myself. The city with it’s technology is the best mini world I have seen in the MCU thus far, and I can’t wait to see more of it, because you know this film is going to do well by all the ticket tracking that Fandango has done thus far (it is expected to hit possibly $180 million this weekend in the U.S. alone.)

Do I need to mention to stay after the credits? If I do then you are kind of…well…stupid. I mean seriously, does anybody need to tell you this anymore? I snicker when I see people leave right after the credits, because by now you know that there will at least be two, one mid way and one at the very end. I do like though that these final two after credit sequences lead to more story progression with Black Panther and Wakanda other than just trying to nod and wink at future films. Anyway, if you don’t see this movie as fast as you can, you are either and idiot, or just don’t have the time, the latter of which is okay. Seriously, this film rocks, Wakanda forever!!!

For You by Kristen Ashley


Set in: Indiana
Summary: Lieutenant Alexander Colton and February Owens were high school sweethearts. Everyone in their small town knew from the moment they met they were meant for each other. But something happened and Feb broke Colt’s heart then she turned wild and tragedy struck. Colt meted out revenge against the man who brought Feb low but even though Colt risked it all for her, Feb turned her back on him and left town.

Fifteen years later, Feb comes back to help run the family bar. But there’s so much water under the bridge separating her and Colt everyone knows they’ll never get back together.

Until someone starts hacking up people in Feb’s life. Colt is still Colt and Feb is still Feb so the town watches as Colt goes all out to find the murderer while trying to keep Feb safe.

As the bodies pile up, The Feds move in and a twisting, turning story unravels exposing a very sick man who has claimed numerous victims along the way, Feb and Colt battle their enduring attraction and the beautiful but lost history that weaves them together.

I have a love hate relationship with Kristen Ashley and her books. First she follows a pattern strong alpha male and strong female lead fall happily in love and run into the sunset. Under normal situations, this crap ticks me off, but when it comes to Kristen Ashley and her books, the send me into an out of control spiral of obsession. I got off the wagon because I need to you know… eat & sleep.

I told myself I was quitting Kristen Ashley, but I got on goodreads and read a review for a book in this series and I decided just one more book, it won’t hurt.

And oh my god, I am right back in the window of obsession. It is like my obsession with Eddie Chavez all over again.

Travel: The Three Day Runaway: Refined and Luxurious Weekend Travel on $100 Dollars a Day By Katarina Green


Summary: Travel: The Three Day Runaway: Refined and Luxurious Weekend Travel on $100 Dollars a Day
Do you want to explore the world, but feel like you lack the resources or the experience?

Do you want to make the most of a weekend in a new city?

Do you want to get the biggest bang for your buck and learn how to plan your adventures?

Do you want to skip student hostels and homemade bologna sandwiches?

Do you want luxury on a budget?

This book is perfectfor you. You will learn how to prepare yourself emotionally and logistically for a rewarding weekend in a new place. This book is really about packing in as much as possible and getting in everything you want without emptying your checking account. From how to choose your location to how to choose your dinner, this book is here to help you make great choices that will give you a great trip for the lowest possible price and the biggest possible impact.

“The Three Day Runaway” will help you plan a fun packed three days with a remarkably low price tag, and without compromising on basic luxuries.

In this book, you’ll discover:
How to work up the courage to go. How to choose a location. How to research and save your way to your destination. How to manage the line between prepare and over-planned. How to keep up your energy. How to pack for any season. How to stay well hydrated and well fed on thecheap. How to book chic lodging. How to save money on nights on the town. How to live like a local and get more for less. How to know when to say no, and when to splurge. How to save money at every step!

One good thing about planning a RTW adventure is the preparation stage, especially since I can’t do much else, although I will say my life is getting better with every paycheck.  That is a nice feeling.

Anyway, I have been using my Kindle Unlimited subscription to find books to read, especially books that are about travel, budgeting etc.  I found this book and I thought it would be fun to read since I don’t really have a target date set in stone, and I might want to take a weekend getaway.

This book is full of information, I found the book geared more towards Europe which for me isn’t really a weekend getaway, but still full of information none the less.  It gives you standard tips that any travel would know but I also found tips that were helpful in planning my trip away.  I also figured since Europe will be a stop on my RTW adventure this information will be useful.

If you are planning your RTW adventure or just a simple weekend getaway on a budget this book would be helpful in your planning.  I recommend reading this one if you are budgeting for any trip!