Fearful Holiday: A Review of ‘The Visit’

Movie Reviews

I, like you, have pretty much sworn off M. Night Shyamalan films. It wasn’t so much that his films were technically bad. In fact, some of his tracking shots and use of jump cuts are some of the most jarring uses in modern cinema. His story lines, on the other hand, are often so unbelievably ridiculous, building towards a crescendo of some big reveal that ultimately almost always underwhelms. This is why I was so reluctant to watch The Visit, despite its intriguing trailer. I’m not always the biggest fan of films that star kids, but I’m glad I made an exception and sat down to watch Shyamalan’s latest.

The Visit 2In today’s post-modern age, especially with such a fickle viewing audience, making a ‘scary movie’ is no easy feat. Why, Shyamalan’s own track record demonstrates that fear is subjective yet still very reliant upon staid genre conventions that are guaranteed to make the audience squirm. In today’s horror/thriller film world, conventions are being subverted and fused. A mash-up of scary films past to make one modern movie is not that unusual. In The Visit, Shyamalan eschews almost  all of these current trends and tendencies to make a truly thrilling film. Despite its footage-style type of storytelling, everything else in the film is wholly original and crisp, which for me, exceeded the little expectations I had.

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A Review Of J. Gregory Smith’s “The Crystal Mountain”

Book Reviews

A published author of thrillers and mysteries, The Crystal Mountain is author J. Gregory Smith’s first piece written for young adults. It’s clear that Smith understand the technical styles and mechanisms required to drive a plot forward for the Young Adult crowd as there is no page in The Crystal Mountain that does not engage the reader.

The novel itself is not completely different in the landscape that comprises young adult fiction. It is impossible to tell a completely original tale written for the young adult demographic as familiarity is a key driver for these type of book buyers. However, Smith does manage to inject new life into the fantastic and supernatural, evoking just the right amount of comic book action and extra-terrestrial allure, making The Crystal Mountain more than your average teen best seller.

Crystal Mountain

Catherine E. Coulson, Twin Peaks‘ Iconic Log Lady, Dead at 71

Random Musings

I hope she filmed her scenes for the revival series before she passed. She was a pivotal part of the shows mythology.

TVLine

Catherine E. Coulson, who was known for portraying Twin Peaks‘ Log Lady, died of cancer on Monday, our sister site Variety reports. She was 71.

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Models Taking Runway Selfies May Be the Most Narcissistic Thing Ever

Random Musings

TIME

Runway modeling and taking selfies. Both are things that you might do if you feel self-confident. Fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has managed to combine them to create what may be the most narcissistic thing ever: models taking selfies on the runway.

That’s right, models at Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring/Summer 2016 Women’s Fashion Show on Sunday busted out smartphones to take selfies while modeling. The photos were then posted real-time to the designer’s Instagram account where they quickly racked up tens of thousands of likes. Narcissism sells, apparently.

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A Review Of “Practical Positive Psychology” by J. Kaye

Book Reviews

Always having been a believer in the powers of positive thinking, I was very happy to receive a book review request for the succinct and concise Practical Positive Psychology by J. Kaye. Void of the often fluffy and unnecessary overly verbose writings that comprise a lot of today’s psychology books, Kaye’s Positive Psychology provides an exercise book of sorts for the reader who wants to harness their positive thoughts in hopes of achieving something tangible that is desirable.

Neatly packed into a mere 6 key points that effectively summarize the books accessible ideas and practices, Positive Psychology is a riveting and easily applicable work that can be utilized by anyone. Kaye’s clear language helps the reader to focus and guide their thoughts, clarifying their own true motivations all along the way, to help understand what their true intentions are and why they crave what they want.

Positive

The Science Behind Why Nice People Finish Last—And How to Fix That

Random Musings

TIME

Adam Grant, the youngest tenured professor at Wharton Business School, wants nice people to finish first. But, according to him, they don’t.

Grant was a speaker at this year’s session of The Nantucket Project, an annual lecture series on the island in Massachusetts put on by Tom Scott, the founder of Nantucket Nectars, and featuring former Meet the Press moderator David Gregory, musician Neil Young, and computer pioneer Steve Wozniak, among others.

Speaking in a tent by the waterfront at the White Elephant Hotel (the main event tent, that is, not the cozily furnished “espresso tent” by its side), Grant explained which kinds of people have the easiest time getting ahead in life.

He’s an organizational psychologist by trade, and broke people down into three types: Takers, Matchers and Givers. In simple terms, Takers look out for themselves. Givers are generous with other people with no strings attached. And…

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A Review of “Island Bluffs” by Alan A. Winter

Book Reviews

For those of you who are frequent readers of Reading Other People, you know of our preferences to read innovative and refreshing takes on life instead of the staid conventions that tend to comprise the pop culture canon. Alan A. Winter’s incredibly entertaining “Island Bluffs”, there is a new welcome addition to the subversion genre movement, and we are ecstatic about it. John Grisham or Dan Brown this is not. And that’s a good thing.

At a compact 455 pages, Island Bluffs is so much more than your average thriller or mystery. Instead of exploiting the typical modes and formulas that comprise these genres, author Alan A. Winter instead opts to dissect what defines the human condition. Carly Mason and Gabe Berg, a power couple indeed, are trying to have a baby to no success. Hopeful but not unrealistic, the two learn of a scientist who may just be the resource to help them have a baby. However, this scientist is not without his own set of motives. Carly must agree to have twins, but they both won’t end up being hers. One will be biologically hers, and the other, well, let’s call it a surrogate.

Island-Bluffs-CoversmCary and Gabe must upend life as they know it and move to Island Bluffs, the isolated and Stephen King-esque town where the doctor lives. With Gabe’s rebellious 16-year-old daughter in tow, the family tries to start a new life, and a new life, but soon discover that the picturesque town is not all that it seems. Cue the thriller/mystery/horror.

Instead of falling into the traps of telling the type of story that has been told a thousand times before where it is only locations and names that are the only things that seems to change, Winter presents a refreshing and tantalizing tale on life in all of its darkness and light. Winter deftly touches upon each character’s motivation and relates that to a much bigger entity. He questions what really is right and wrong, and if there really are such clear-cut differences between the two. We zoomed through Island Bluffs in just a few days, and it has certainly earned its place on the Reading Other People mammoth bookshelf of the good ones.

These Bittersweet Portraits Show How Puppies Become Grown-Up Dogs

Random Musings

TIME

Amanda Jones recognizes the life-changing bond that often forms between people and their dogs. In her latest book, Dog Years: Faithful Friends, Then & Now, Jones set out to document the lives and stories of 30 dogs she photographed over her career. Inspired by her first dog, Lily, the book features black and white photos of each furry friend at both young and old ages, along with short bios written by the dogs’ human families for an inside look at their personalities.

“One thing that remains constant is the love people and dogs have for each other,” Jones wrote. “That does not change, no matter how many dog years go by.”

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