What I Am: The Hype Edition

I am usually pretty cautious when it comes to certain things in the realm of pop culture (see: Twilight). But I’m willing to give anything a go, especially when it comes to books. Less so with movies, but I watched such a great movie, that I’m offering a wholly unsolicited review this week.

The Blind Side
I stayed up until nearly midnight to watch all of this movie on a recent Saturday night. I’m not slavishly devoted to watching Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning films. I tend to like my movies as entertainment, not vehicles that make me think a lot. While I am sure The Hurt Locker is an excellent examination of wartime psychology, it’s not going to be what I want to settle onto my couch to watch with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

I had my doubts, too, about The Blind Side. Based on a True Story, rich white folks, poor black boy, high school football, etc., etc.

But I found The Blind Side to be quietly moving, and utterly compelling. Sandra Bullock earned every molecule of gold in that statuette for her portrayal as a woman who reached out to a boy in need. It’s far less about black and white than I expected (although it does touch on racial tensions and class differences), and it was not a huge, moving tear-jerker, which I really appreciated.

The story is rife with quiet moments that are affecting. There are no bombastic moments that ensure You Are Going To Feel Something! It’s touching and funny and sweet. Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) is a no-nonsense suburban mom and wife (with her own design business). Aside from Kathy Bates as Miss Sue, Michael Oher’s tutor, there are no big-name movie stars in the rest of the cast, but everyone is just excellent. And Quinton Aaron is quite a find as Oher — he was such a natural that when the real Michael Oher appeared at the end of the film, I had forgotten that I was watching an actor portray him as a high school student. I was like, “He looks so different!” Der.

Aside from the way Bullock captures Tuohy’s emotional moments (she prefers to walk into another room rather than let people see her get teary-eyed), I loved the college recruitment scenes. Anyone who loves college ball should watch this movie for these alone. S.J. (the son) is going to crack you up.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson

I checked this out of the library, started it, and had to take it back. I wasn’t encouraged by my first try. The book opens with the end of a libel trial in Sweden, and it didn’t seem that promising.

But then my mom left me her paperback copy, and I decided to try again.

And once I got past that opening scene, it’s a real page-turner, a locked-room mystery complete with sex, incest, murder, intrigue, and interesting characters (if not straight-forward hero-type protagonists). I was unsure about continuing after a rape scene (not graphically portrayed, but still unpleasant), but I’m glad I stuck it out, not only because of the karma boomerang, but because the suspense and mystery just keep ratcheting up.

I haven’t quite finished the book yet. It’s long and Larsson packs — er, excuse me, packed — a lot into its pages. I’m already looking forward to getting my hands on the other two in the series. Lisbeth Salander is fascinating, and I want to see what she gets up to next.