bschaller at ltoa dot com
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Reviews: Sarah Vowell's Partly Cloudy Patriot and Patty Jenkins' Monster

Partly Cloudy Patriot: This is with out a doubt one of the best books I have read in recent memory. Sarah Vowell and I are on such the same page it is uncanny. From the small personal things like being in marching band in high school and being active participants in political email discussion groups to the really big things like being Jeffersonian Democrats and liking the same TV shows. She gets upset at the same things I do, like someone putting a flag on her lawn on the 4th of July and not asking her permission. She even goes as far as explaining Al Gore by sighting a conversation between Jordan Catalano and Brian Krakow on My So Called Life. By the way I am a huge MSCL fan. If you look up "Byron Schaller" on Google two of the responses are high scores for an online MSCL trivia game. She also talks a lot about Giles versus Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I thought that was neat too. She has great politics and likes the same stuff I do so it is kinda hard not think this book is great. It was also very funny and made a lot of sense. Any true patriot will enjoy this book, but for us on the nerdier end of the spectrum this is a real treat. A must read.

Monster: This is one of the most intense films I have ever seen. I am not new to cinema extremes and I have seen this all before, just not quite like Monster. I have seen the rape/revenge/mass murder plot line before in I Spit on Your Grave!. I have seen Florida white trash true crime before in Bully. I have seen clandestine lesbian relationships in both Bound and Mulholland Drive. And that's not even considering foreign films. Yet something about this movie really struck a chord. I think a lot of it has to do with the score provided by BT. The background music really drives the high power intense scenes. Most of the movie it is hard to tell who to feel sorry for. Do you feel sorry for Lee or her johns? There are a couple that a very hard to tell and a couple where the decision is far easier. The real mark of this film is that you leave feeling like you have been hit by a truck. The experience is so intense and overwhelming that forming a valid response as the credits roll is almost impossible. For someone who is shockproof and seen it all, this kind of impact says a lot. A must see and award worthy all the way. B

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