Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Review: The Hidden Life of Trees

[Shared from my Amazon review]

Don't go into this book expecting a scientific approach to forestry. There are some facts in here, but they are heavily interspersed with 'probablys' and conjecture, along with a somewhat anthropomorphic view of trees. You'd miss out if you let that put you off, though. Rather, this short, fast read speaks of one man's appreciation for nature, specifically, of old-growth forests and the need for them. We forget that while trees can't move or speak as we do, they are living things and should command our respect for their longevity, gratitude for their gifts of oxygen and inner peace, and perhaps even a little compassion. The author has clearly spent many an hour walking in the forest, touching this, breathing in that, listening to and living among his charges, and getting to know them as friends. It reminded me of why I enjoy forests, and while it leans heavily on the writer's experiences in Germany, the message of the book can be taken to any forest in the world.

RATING: Four of five stars

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Movie Review: Logan

If you ever wanted to know what a superhero is like in old age, this is it.

Hubby and I had a much-needed kid-free night to see something our son was definitely not going to be allowed to see (for several years yet, at least). Being an enormous fan of Hugh Jackman and Wolverine, I've been looking forward to this one. I'd heard it gave "Deadpool" a run for its money in the ratings department, but while "Deadpool" is funny and wildly inappropriate, our favorite Canucklehead takes things in a much darker direction.

"Logan" is bitter, angry, hard-bitten, and believable. Logan has lived a very, very long time and seen a lot of horrible things. I can completely buy that he'd spend his twilight years simply existing, in a detached, brooding sort of way, until forced to interact with humanity again. His scenes with Charles Xavier were some of my favorite: two mutants eking out their elder years together simply because the world refuses to understand or accept either of them. While Charles retains his compassion, Logan has all but shut his off.

Enter Laura. A child mutant on the run, she has no one and is practically feral when Logan meets her. At first, he doesn't want to help her, either, but that hero is still in there under that thick, scarred skin, and when the chips are down, he can't resist standing up for her. Their scenes together are sad, resentful, sometimes funny, and always intriguing. While this film is not my usual cup of tea, I was not bored. Just watching a mutant at the end of his character arc, and one not yet in her prime, was fascinating. It was especially thought-provoking to see the damage that could come from a child with that sort of power, who'd never been shown any kindness or constructive guidance. If only Charles had found her a few years earlier, she might have become a new X-Man. Dafne Keen is terrific, and frankly, frightening, as a mutant "little girl lost" who's finding her feet in this dangerous world. I wouldn't want to mess with her, that's for sure.

Fans of Wolverine will appreciate this rendering of Old Man Logan, but there are still some unanswered questions. What became of the other mutants? Why did they not find a way to better manage the problems that occur when an aging mutant begins to lose some of his faculties? What if the safe haven they're looking for doesn't really exist? (Perhaps that's a question that may be answered in a future film.)

I love Hugh Jackman, and always will. There will never be another Wolverine for me...but Dafne Keen just about stole the show. Moral of the story? Don't piss off the little girl in the unicorn T-shirt.

RATING: 4 of 5 stars