Melina Gunnett

December 3, 2012

And another month fades away.

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 4:02 AM

So, I have flipped the page on another calendar month. Yeah, the first was yesterday, but I had a lot to do in November, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it spilled over by a day or so. Amazingly enough I actually got most of the things I really wanted to done.

My job, which I took to help organize my time has been taking up more and more of it, but that’s Okay. I love my job and it is keeping me in coffee. Things will calm down on that front in the next week or so, in the mean time it his really helping me learn my way around Portland.

For those of you who don’t know, I am working as a Mad Scientist. Yes, that is actually my job title. I teach fun, amazing science stuff to elementary school kids as part of an after school program and lately I’ve been doing birthday parties on the weekend. I used to work for the same company in Boston and it is one of the best jobs I’ve had. (And I’ve had some pretty amazing jobs). is my day job, by night (or sometimes morning and, occasionally, even during the afternoon) I am a writer. Lately I have been writing a lot of movie reviews – 8 in the past month. Not a bad way to pass the time. I attend free advance screenings and then let the rest of the world know what I think of the movie.

It has been interesting, trying to find the balance between telling the world my opinion of a movie and not giving away so much that it will spoil the movie for others. Deciding wither or not I like a movie is one thing, figuring out why is another. It means that I have to think about and understand why a plot or a character works and where it breaks down. I think the processes is going to make me a better writer as a whole and I plan to continue. To that end I have spun off a new blog REEL SOON which only contains my movie reviews. You can look forward to review for On the Road and Playing for Keeps this week.

Part of being a writer is writing. In spite of my slightly crazy schedule, it has been a fairly good month. One of my pieces, Of Cats and Coins, sold and will be coming out in an anthology next year (I’ll tell you more about it when I have all the dates and details.) and I finished another piece I have been working on and managed to get it out the door before the submission deadline.

One of the things I hadn’t taken into account is how much research I end up doing for anything that is set in the real world, fiction or not. I’m beginning to realize that only about 20 percent of my writing time is spent writing, but it is almost midnight here and I have to be up and awake tomorrow, so I think I’ll save that for another post. For now I’m off to bed. I need to dream up my next story. 😉

November 24, 2012

Rise of the Guardians

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 9:40 PM

Rise of the Guardians.

But you already have a blog…

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , — Melina Gunnett @ 7:10 PM

But you already have a blog….

The link above will take you to my new blog where I will be posting my movie reviews from now on.  I’ll post reminder links for the next few weeks, then I am going to let it spin off on its own.

Hopefully this also means that you can look forward to seeing some more substantial posts from me here.

November 14, 2012

Review – Red Dawn (2012)

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 10:52 PM

I can’t wait for the new Red Dawn to come out on video. Okay maybe I’ll wait for it to hit Netflix. Either way it is going to make a great drinking game. One rule – Every time you see or hear an overused cliché or war trope, drink. You’ll be soused 15 minutes into the film. On the up side, the rest of the movie will probably be better that way. One of my friends that saw the movie with me summed it up nicely. OMG, it really is a remake. Up until we actually started watching the movie she had been holding out hope that they had re-done the movie and fixed the oh so many problems the first Red Dawn had.

The original Red Dawn had its place. I remember seeing it back when it came out. It had all the hot young actors of the day. It’s problem wasn’t the cast, all of them were good actors, most when on to long successful careers. I suspect many of the actors from this movie will do the same. (I’d tell you who was in it, but I suspect they are already hoping that people forget that they were involved.)

The problem wasn’t even the concept. Everyone loves an underdog story and there is nothing more underdoggy than a bunch of high school kids trying to fight back against overwhelming odds. They could have handled the concept, lets be generous and only say, A LOT better. To their credit the writers did try to fill in some of the plot holes for the remake.

They setting was moved from some agricultural town in Colorado to Spokane, which at least has an airbase and decommissioned missile silos that might make it a strategic site if someone was to invade the United States. They also made the point that the kids weren’t trying to beat the invaders, but act as insurgents, making trouble where they could.

The new movie does offer a nice training montage and lots of high quality explosions. Sadly the dialogue is just as painful to listen to as it was in the first movie. Too bad they didn’t spend a bit less on the pyrotechnics and a little more on the script, but hey, it does have a lot of things that blow up.


And don’t forget to drink up, because someone is probably saying something cheesy. 😉

November 13, 2012

Review – Silver Linings Playbook

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 9:38 PM

Silver Linings Playbook is an excellent glimpse into insanity.  This isn’t so much a romantic comedy as a crazy romance.  Pat (Bradley Cooper) lost it when he caught his wife having an affair with another teacher.  Now he is trying to get it together so he can get back with his wife.  She has a restraining order against him, but he believes that, if he can just become the man she wants him to be, she will take him back.

Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) never really had it together to begin with.  Her husband died and she is also trying to put her life together, trying to become the person she always wanted to be.  Neither one is having much luck on their own, but together they just might be able to help each other out.  Tiffany agrees to get a letter to Pat’s estranged wife if he helps her with her dream – to take part in a couples dance competition.

Sliver Linings does a good job of showing what it is like to live with and be around someone who is not mentally stable without it seeming like a cliché.  Parts of this movie can be uncomfortable, they are meant to be.  Neither of the main characters has much of a filter and tend to say what they think as they are thinking it.

Pat comes by his insanity honestly.  His dad is OCD and fanatical about the Philadelphia Eagles (The movie is set in Philadelphia.)  There is no miracle cure for anyone in this movie.  What the characters do find is support.  They have to learn to live with and accept each other eccentricities.  In this regard Silver Linings tends to reflect real life, because in the end, that is the basis that all good relationships.

November 10, 2012

Review – Skyfall

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 1:09 AM

Why yes the new Bond movie does feature James Bond as well as most of the trappings we associate with him – casinos, shootouts, chases, beautiful women and of course, a villain. This is the third Bond film feature Daniel Craig as James Bond (Casino Royale 2006, Quantum of Solace 2008) and once again features Judi Dench as M and introduces Naomi Harris as the lovely Eve Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw as the new Q.

What this film doesn’t have is the misogynistic attitudes so prevalent in the early bond films, nor the suggestively named female sidekick/opponent. To make up for it they added plot. In fact this movie had more plot that I have ever seen in a Bond film, but it still starts out with an amazing car/motorcycle/train chase.

Bond has been sent to retrieve a hard drive with a list of agents planted in terrorist cells around the world. Arriving too late, he and Eve give chase. The chase ends when Eve is given the order to shoot the thief. She doesn’t have a clear shot had ends up shooting Bond instead.

With Bond falling to his death 15 minutes into the film and the villain getting away, it makes you wonder where the story is going to go. The names of the agents are being released (5 per week), M is called in to answer to parliament, the MI6 building is bombed, everything is falling apart and there is no Bond is sight to save the day.

Okay, it’s a Bond movie. No one expects that he is really dead, but he was trying to stay that way. Once he sees a news report he feels obligated to resurrect himself and return to M and Country. With him he brings the crucial clue to tracking down the man who had stolen the list of names. Despite his injuries, Bond returns to active duty to hunt him down and find the person behind the theft and bombing of their headquarters.

We are now about 30 minutes into the movie, like I said, they added plot, a lot of plot. This movie is all about the past, M’s and Bonds. We learn a lot about the character’s background, but none of it is filler. Everything has a point from M’s time at the Hong Kong Branch to Skyfall. And there is no shortage of butt kicking action in any of the scenes. If someone isn’t being chased, hit or shot they are being hacked by a computer genius.

From the beautifully choreographed opening credits to the dramatic end scene, this movie is all Bond all the way. If you are a fan you will enjoy this movie, if you like well done thriller/action movies, you will like this movie, if you are just watching for the naked chicks, you might try something else.

November 2, 2012

Review – Flight

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 1:18 AM

An airplane crash and alcoholism: Had I known what this movie was about going into it, I probably would have skipped it all together. I’m not really a fan of movies about either one of them. If you are, then this is the movie for you.

The acting was good, the story a bit predictable but well done and other people seemed to like it. One guy compared it to Argo. I don’t see it. The only comparison I would make between the two movies is maybe in the costuming. Despite the fact that the movie was apparently present day (at least if you judge it by the cell phone technology they were using) most of the clothing and settings looked like they came out of the late 70’s. Actually, I think most of the music was from that era too.

They did do a good job of portraying alcoholism. Whip, the main character played by Denzil Washington, has everything going for him. He is a supremely talented pilot who pulls off an amazing landing, saving nearly everyone on board the plane. That is only the background for the film. The real story is about his addictions and the path of destruction they have rent through his life.

I left the theater feeling sad and depressed. This is probably because I have lived with an alcoholic and am far to familiar with the burnt wasteland they leave behind them. I doubt everyone will have this strong of a reaction to the film, like I said, many people seemed to like it. Me – I’m off to find something cheerful to watch so I can sleep tonight.

October 25, 2012

Review – The Sessions

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 1:23 AM

The Sessions was a difficult film to watch. Not because it was bad, it was actually rather well done, but because of the subject matter. Sessions is a docudrama about Mark O’Brein, a writer and poet who contract polo at a young age and live most of his life in an iron lung. The film covers the last decade of his life.

O’Brein (John Hawkes) his hired to write an article on sex for the disabled. While doing research for the article he begins to wonder about the possibility of having sex himself. Deeply religious he consults his priest (William H. Macy) and eventually hires a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help him explore his capabilities.

While the focus of the film is O’Brien’s sessions with his sexual surrogate, the film is also about his relationships with those around him. While O’Brien had almost no control over his muscles from the neck down and could only remain out of his iron lung for a few hours a day, he was still determined to live as full of a life as possible. He attended and graduated from college and continued to go out into the world on gurney with the aid of his caretakers.

It is through his interactions with these caretakers, his priest and his surrogate that we see glimpses of the wit and intelligence that made O’Brein such a good writer. Samples of his poetry are also interspersed through out the film, giving us an even deeper glimpse into the thoughts and emotions of the man trapped within his own body.

The film is handled tastefully, but it does center around sex and audiences should be prepared for a significant about of nudity.

October 23, 2012

Review – Cloud Atlas

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 8:53 PM

I walked away from this movie feeling like I needed to see it again just to catch pieces and connections that I know  I missed. I’m Okay with that, its a Wachowski film. This is a complicated movie, with six interlacing plot lines, and the same cast members portraying different characters in each vignette.

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” Madame Horrox


The Cloud Atlas Sextet is a composition by one one of the characters, Robert Frobisher. Each movement represents its own time, its own story, and is the life music for the character with the comet birthmark.

It is hard to say much more about the story without giving spoilers. The acting is good all around. I even liked Halle Berry, who up until now I had always considered a fairly weak actress. The make up and consumes should both be expecting Oscar nods as should the FX team.

I am surprised to see how many of the “professionals” have been panning this movie. I can understand that it isn’t to everyone’s taste. I’m not particularly fond of movies that jump around between story arcs myself, but in this particular case it is well done and I can not think of any other way to show this particular movie. Had it been filmed linearly, many of the connections would have been lost.

I suspect that the biggest problem most of these critics are having with the film is – they just don’t get it. – People tend to dislike things they don’t understand. I think this movie will go over well with it’s target audience (Science Fiction/Fantasy Fans). I know I will be buying the DVD.


October 21, 2012

Review – Lincoln

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 4:01 PM

Lincoln – A name I expect to hear called over and over this Oscar season.

Steven Spielberg has once again brought an amazing docudrama to the big screen. This movie is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. It begins shortly after Abraham Lincoln’s election to a second term in office and takes us through to his assignation. The story focuses on the fight to end the civil war and pass the thirteenth amendment.

Not only is the cast phenomenal, pulling the characters right of history and on to the screen, [You can click here for a full listing of the amazing cast] but the rest of the movie was just as well done. The sets, costume, and make-up artists all came together to turn well known actors into the historical personages they are portraying.

Unless you completely skipped high school history, you probably have a pretty good idea who won the American Civil War and wither or not the 13th amendment, outlawing slavery and involuntary servitude, passed. The true art of this film is in the way it takes those topics and shows us the details behind them making a tense, suspenseful story out of a history we already know.

I came away from this film, not only awed by the skill with which it was done, but with a wonderful reminder as another presidential election year comes to an end – Things do change and people can come together, cross lines and accomplish amazing things if the are willing.

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