Friday, October 20, 2017

Book Review on “The Hidden Life of Trees” Reviewed by Robert Fogg



I recently read an interesting book named “The Hidden Life of Trees", by Peter Wohlleben. This book looks at trees and forests in a totally non-traditional way.  
 
The author contends that trees feel and that they intentionally work together and even communicate with one another. He dives into deep detail, regarding the hidden and inner workings of the forest, from how trees manage water (and the lack thereof) and their “pecking order” to how and why trees take root where they do. 

Wohlleben stresses the importance of maintaining old-growth forests over working forests.
Much of the information is based on European forests, which apparently contain a lot of beech trees, but there are also many references to the forests of the United States.  

Being a “tree guy”, I found this to be a very interesting book. I don’t necessarily agree with everything I read, but it has given me a lot to think about. I tried to keep an open mind throughout the book and consider the possibilities.  

For the moment, I’m seeing trees and forests in a different light. Who knows? Maybe Wohlleben really knows what he’s talking about. Who am I to say he’s wrong.  

I suggest that you read the book and decide for yourself.

The author is general manager of Q-Team Tree Service in Naples and is also a licensed Arborist. He can be reached at RobertFogg@Q-Team.com or 207-693-3831.

Friday, October 13, 2017

"Blade Runner" A movie review by Daniel Kilgallon



Thirty-five years after the release of the original “Blade Runner” movie comes its long awaited sequel, “2049”. The 1982 science fiction, cult classic has grown on me as of late. But it is worth noting that 2007’s “The Final Cut” is the only one of the seven versions of the film I have seen. 

Apparently, director Ridley Scott made fairly significant changes upon each edit, but “The Final Cut”
is widely regarded as the definitive version; I would highly recommend giving it a watch before checking out this new movie.

Scott returned in the role of an executive producer this time around, with acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners” and “Arrival”) taking over the helm. Harrison Ford once again portrays Rick Deckard, highlighting a handful of cast members who reprised their roles from the original film.

“Blade Runner 2049” takes place thirty years after the events of its predecessor and is once again set in the city of Los Angeles. The area remains a crowded, dreary place in this dystopian world, defined by industry and “replicants”. Designed to look like humans, replicants are pretty much androids, primarily used for manual labor in this dark vision of the future. During the first film, all replicants were outlawed on Earth due to their violent nature, and it was Rick Deckard's job as a “Blade Runner” to eliminate them. This time around, Ryan Gosling plays LAPD Officer K, who assumes the same position thirty years later. However, the times have changed, and K is a replicant himself who is responsible for killing older, outlawed models of his own kind. Eventually, K uncovers a shocking secret that traces back to Deckard - forcing him out of hiding.

Thankfully, “Blade Runner 2049” isn’t quite like the countless other sequels and reboots that Hollywood has been dishing out during the past decade or so. It actually functions well in supplementing, and more importantly - building upon, the source material of its predecessor.

Gosling adds another excellent performance to his impressive résumé here, carrying the audience through the visually stunning depiction of this already rich universe. Harrison Ford did a great job as well, and I think it was a very wise, storytelling decision to save Rick Deckard’s screen presence for the dramatic last act of the film. The only other thing I could ask out of “Blade Runner 2049” is more viewings to unravel its thematically deep and heavily layered story. Any fan of the original, science fiction films, or movies in general should check this one out; it may very well be a classic in 2049.

Friday, October 6, 2017

"Jackie Brown" A movie review by Daniel Kilgallon


Coming off the tremendous success of 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs” and 1994’s “Pulp Fiction”, writer/director Quentin Tarantino certainly had a lot to live up to with his third full length feature. 

Based on Elmore Leonard’s novel, “Rum Punch”, “Jackie Brown” was released on Christmas of 1997 and remains the only time when Tarantino has adapted someone else’s original work. With the exception of “Death Proof” (2007), this is also the only film from the legendary director I had missed prior to this chronological marathon of his work. While it may not be his most iconic project, it has seemed to gain a cult following over the years and I can confidently say that my initial viewing of this film has been long overdue.
 
“Jackie Brown” is yet another gangster story from Tarantino; this time revolving around criminals who get caught up in a mess of lying to and crossing each other. The title character (Pam Grier) is a stewardess working for an airline that flies from Los Angeles to Mexico. She is involved in smuggling money for a weapons dealer named Ordell Robbie, who is brought to life brilliantly by a ponytailed Samuel L Jackson. Eventually, a pair of government agents portrayed by Michael Keaton and Michael Bowen, start to figure out what’s going on. A few other players become tied up in this game, including a bail bondsman (Robert Forster), a bank robber (Robert DeNiro), and a beach girl (Bridget Fonda).

While that summary is brief, “Jackie Brown” is so full of twists and turns that any more information would ruin the exciting plot. That being said, the all-star cast and unique characters they play is enough to show that this is a whole lot of fun, fueled by snappy dialogue and clever humor. There is also a very clear 1970s feel to the entire movie due to elements such as the costume design and soundtrack choices. 

Aside from those Tarantino trademarks, there are a few things that make “Jackie Brown” feel different from the rest of his movies. First, there is very little violence in comparison to the bloodbaths that define all of his other work. It is also worth noting that up until the end, the story is pretty much told in order, unlike the nonlinear form that he tends to go for. Finally, I would add that the plot takes a pretty long time to develop, but the payoff is well worth it by the time the credits roll. Overall, “Jackie Brown” is a bit different than most Tarantino movies, but does more than hold its own against the rest of his filmography. Give this underrated crime drama a well-deserved watch on Netflix and keep an eye out for reviews of the separate volumes of Tarantino’s fourth major project, “Kill Bill”.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" - a movie review by Daniel Kilgallon



Runtime: 154 mins

After bursting into the filmmaking world through the success of 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs”, Quentin Tarantino went on to release “Pulp Fiction” in 1994. Similar to his debut movie, “Pulp Fiction” is driven by extended scenes of sharp dialogue and witty humor, in an absolutely brilliant script which Tarantino wrote with Roger Avary. This time around, there was a significantly bigger film budget, which hovered around $8 million according to the Internet Movie Database. 

Between more money to work with and the success of “Reservoir Dogs”, an even better cast was put together for this masterpiece; led by a career resurrection of sorts, for John Travolta and perhaps the quintessential role for Samuel L Jackson. Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames, Christopher Walken, and Bruce Willis are just a few other names included in this all-star group of acting talent. With such a special team behind the production of this instant cult classic, Quentin Tarantino crafted a completely original story that many believe to be his magnum opus. Because of that, “Pulp Fiction” has rightfully landed near the top of countless lists of the greatest films ever made.

Typical of a Tarantino film, “Pulp Fiction” has a nonlinear structure that lets the audience piece together the overarching plot down to every detail. The movie intertwines several different storylines into one giant tale of gangster violence; included in this are: A young couple of diner robbers, two hitmen, the wife of a local kingpin, and a talented prizefighter. I would hate to spoil anything more from this gem, as the film’s closing scene ties everything together in a manner that practically demands multiple re-watches.

In my opinion, the sheer uniqueness of “Pulp Fiction” represents so much about what is wrong with many films today, that it has only become better each time that I see it. Just about every word of dialogue contributes at least one of the following elements, including: building strong characters, moving the plot along, and providing strong humor. Each and every role is executed to a tee, but the script is written so naturally that all of the conversations feel very casual and draw the audience in, unlike any movie I have seen before or since. It was more than well-deserved for Tarantino and Avary to bring home the top honor for writing, at the 1995 Academy Awards.

While the tremendous screenplay is the clear strength of this movie, effective use of homage and excellent action sequences are a few other aspects that have earned it such a positive reputation. Unless you just don’t like Tarantino’s edgy style or can’t handle the plethora of violent sequences, “Pulp Fiction” is a must watch for any movie fan who hasn’t seen it and worth checking out again for anyone who has. It is currently available to watch online with Netflix, along with the next film in this series of reviews, “Jackie Brown”.