Arts and Entertainment, Books, Films

The Chosen (1981)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Chosen (1981) from Chosen Film Company
Rated PG. (Contains some disturbing Holocaust footage.) Drama, Faith Theme, Historical

Description (from the film case): Set in 1940s Brooklyn, The Chosen is the story of two teenage boys who become best friends despite huge differences in their upbringing. Danny (Robby Benson) is the son of an orthodox Hasidic Rabbi (Rod Steiger). Reuven (Barry Miller) comes from a progressive Jewish family whose father (Maximilian Schell) stands at the forefront of the battle for Israeli statehood. Danny’s every moment is devoted to religious study, while Reuven plays jazz piano and is intensely interested in changing the world around him. Their family differences soon force both to make difficult choices.

My thoughts: A film based on one of my all-time favorite books.

Although politics are a passionate part of the story, I don’t like it for the politics. (You know, sometimes I almost hate to use the word, for its connotations. It can be easy to minimize or brush off a complex and crucial human issue by saying it’s “just politics.”)

Anyhow. I like this story for the way it portrays how there are differences within groups, behind the broad labels. “I thought you people only studied Talmud.” You people. One Jewish young man speaking to another.

I like this story for its reflection of fathers and sons. Of friendship. “It is not easy to be a friend.” Especially when your friend is someone you don’t understand.

Reuven has an appropriate level of understatement, Danny has an appropriate level of strangeness. Now, what hit me as the most powerful scene in the book didn’t need as severe a close-up as the film generously gives it. But it still has its own power onscreen, and I can otherwise forgive the moment’s over-generosity for being a product of 1980s filmmaking.

A compelling coming of age story indeed.

My corresponding reading: The Chosen by Chaim Potok.

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I’m not a super-fan of the trailer, but, hey. Maybe it’s also “1980s forgivable.” 🙂

 

Books, Films

Captain America: The Winter Soldier by Alex Irvine

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Phase Two: Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier by Alex Irvine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, still isn’t fully adjusted to the modern world. But that’s a small problem compared to the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised. As the agency begins to hunt Steve down as a fugitive, he’ll have to get to the bottom of an international conspiracy–and face a new, mysterious enemy in Captain America: The Winter Solider, adapted by Alex Irvine.

I’m still working through the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a mix of movies and books.

A key momentous event or two in this one didn’t catch me by surprise, due to some of my prior MCU knowledge. But my lack of surprise didn’t ruin the events, since the story is that good.

There’s real depth here, even pretty gut-wrenching at times. Steve isn’t following a straight line with easy answers, and neither are his allies–whoever they are. It’s interesting to see him trying to figure out what to do when the lines between friend and foe, folly and good sense begin to blur.

Out of all the MCU books I’ve read so far, this one most whetted my appetite for its related movie.

 

Books, Fiction

The Avengers by Alex Irvine

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Phase One: Marvel’s The Avengers by Alex Irvine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

With the help of his extraterrestrial army, Loki means to conquer and enslave planet Earth. It’ll take the superheroes gathered by Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., to thwart Loki’s plans. But Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye must discover something about themselves first in The Avengers, adapted by Alex Irvine.

So as not to break the chronological flow in my progress as I go back and watch some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, I’m reading certain books written from the screenplays. Doesn’t matter that the books are targeted at kids, since I do enjoy middle grade reads from time to time.

Having previously read Captain America: The First Avenger, also adapted by this author, I was ready for the flow, tone, and even the occasional corn in this book. It’s all fitting.

The story is good, meaningful fun, with parts that got me laughing and other parts where I felt for the characters. Sure, you can tell some of the content is toned down for young readers (I even would’ve liked a little of the language toned down a smidge more, though there’s no profanity), but this isn’t an oversimplified, pat-on-the-head adaptation. The adventure isn’t too complicated, but there’s still enough depth and intrigue to keep it interesting.

I guess, apart from The Incredibles, I didn’t imagine before this year how much heart and life-affirmation I might find in action/superhero stories. This one has got some great moments. And I’ll admit that seeing the Avengers eventually become, you know, The Avengers–yeah, that got me pumped.

 

Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Captain America: The First Avenger by Alex Irvine

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Phase One: Captain America: The First Avenger by Alex Irvine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

US Army recruiters repeatedly turn Steve Rogers away, deeming him unfit to fight for his country. But when the Strategic Scientific Reserve selects Steve to become a Super-Soldier, he’ll be in for a mission of heroic proportions in Captain America: The First Avenger, adapted by Alex Irvine.

Disclosure: I’m watching some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and didn’t want to break the flow in my lineup before getting my hands on the first Captain America flick. So I decided to read a book based on the screenplay for now.

It so happens to be a book targeted at kids. Doesn’t bother me, since I can do middle grade books now and then.

What did bother me was running into two instances of a little foul language. So what if those words are now allowed on 21st-century network TV? Can’t we give youngsters a tad more time to read books that are free of that stuff? Eeesh.

Besides that, though, I got a kick out of this read. A “never give up” type of story with exciting turns and plenty of action. It’s a bit choppy and head-hoppy in places but still easy to follow. Given the genre and reading level, I just smiled at some of the corn, and, yes–I certainly did do the sound effects aloud, when they came up. WHACK! WHAM! BLAM! The intriguing ending must be an after-Marvel-movie-credits kind of scene.

Steve’s heart, his determination, may be this book’s highest recommendation.