Thursday, January 28, 2010

Literature News: In Memory of J.D. Salinger -- Quotes from "The Catcher in the Rye"

In Memory of J.D. Salinger
(January 1, 1919 – January 27, 2010)




"What I mean is, lots of time you don't know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn't interest you most. I mean you can't help it sometimes. What I think is, you're supposed to leave somebody alone if he's at least being interesting and he's getting all excited about something. I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It's nice."

"It's funny. Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Site News: Help Film Intuition for Free

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Text ©2010, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com
Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New on DVD & Blu-ray: Calendar of Releases for January of 2010

Film Intuition's
Home Entertainment Calendar

January 2010

New Releases in DVD & Blu-ray*
Check Back Frequently for Updates

Click Here To View our Full Release Calendar




January 5, 2010

10 Things I Hate About You [Blu-ray & DVD: 10th Anniversary Edition]
50 Dead Man Walking
Battlestar Galactica: Season One [Blu-ray]
Below the Earth's Surface
Big Love: The Complete Third Season
Brava Italia
Burn Notice: Season 1 & 2 Set
Chuck: The Complete Second Season
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus (Story 5)
Doctor Who: The Twin Dilemma (Story 137)
Dogtown and Z Boys [Blu-ray]
The Final Destination [2009] 3-D
Good Witch
The Green Berets [Blu-ray]
Kendra: The Complete First Season
Last Starfighter: 25th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack]
Lorna's Silence
Midsomer Murders: Barnaby's Casebook (Sets 4, 6-8)
Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures -- The Complete Series
The Philanthropist: The Complete Series
Riding Giants [Blu-ray]
Super Friends: Season 1, Volume 1
Thomas & Friends: Splish, Splash, Splosh!
Trucker
UFC: The Ultimate 100 Greatest Fight Moments
Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You -- Special Edition

Submit a Title, Press Release or Screener Inquiries


January 12, 2010
January 19, 2010
January 26, 2010

Atonement [Blu-ray]
Bonekickers
The Boys Are Back
Callan: Set 2
Bright Star
Five Element Ninjas (Shaw Brothers)
Fuel
Give 'Em Hell Malone [Blu-ray]
Go Diego Go: Lion Cub
I Heart Jonas
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
Inspector Lewis: Complete Set -- Pilot, Series 1 & 2
Little Ashes
MI-5, Vol. 7
Michael Jackson: This Is It
Paris, Texas (Criterion Collection) DVD & Blu-ray
Pie in the Sky: Series 2
Pontypool
Pride and Prejudice [Blu-ray]
The Red Green Show: The Infantile Years Seasons 1991-1993
Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy (Criterion Collection)
Saw VI [Blu-ray]
SpongeBob SquarePants: Viking-Sized Adventure
Soul Power
Southland: Season 1
St. Trinians
Surrogates
The Waltons Movie Collection
Whip It
Wild Ocean: IMAX
WWII in HD
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown


*Check Back Frequently for Updates re: Release Dates & New Titles
Submit a Title, Press Release or Screener Inquiries

Friday, January 15, 2010

Health & Fitness DVD Review: Mel B's "Totally Fit"


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Getting Fit for the New Year?

Originally Published 2/13/09

As evidenced in the news, the numbers of individuals dangerously obese is on the rise as is the increase of people contemplating expensive and risky surgeries to get the bodies they crave. In response, singer, model, dancer, author, producer, and charity advocate Melanie Brown AKA Mel B of the Spice Girls (where she was also known as Scary Spice) decided to offer her own positive blend of humor, optimism, and advice by releasing a health and fitness DVD with the hope of changing both people's bodies and their lives.

As a mother of two and a woman living a hectic lifestyle, Mel empathizes with the challenges women face in trying to juggle all of life's demands. And luckily, given today's horrific economy, her DVD Totally Fit-- which offers two full body workouts along with specific segments that focus exclusively on areas of the body that may be giving the viewer the most trouble-- comes at a much cheaper price than signing an overwhelming and costly gym membership contract.

On the disc, Mel's advice is to build up intensity over the course of four to eight weeks. Offering sharp tips on how to use the DVD in order to program precisely the content a viewer wants in the order they want to watch it and sharing the importance of always including a warm up and cool down to avoid injury, Mel is supportive from the moment the DVD starts. Her compassion is evident right away as she actually reads the entire medical disclaimer aloud before the menu arrives, warning women who are pregnant, those with medical issues or on pain medication, and others to consult their doctor before proceeding and to always stop if they feel faint or unwell.

Utilizing regular household items from soup cans to water bottles to chairs (with possibly the only purchase one will need to make would be a non-slip surface mat if needed), Mel's exercise routine is flexible, articulating that one can change weight from a can of soup or bottle of water or forget it altogether depending on their level and ability.

Additionally, she urges viewers to watch the disc in its entirety before trying anything to avoid injury and therefore become familiar with the workouts. However, like a good coach, she shares that her expectation is that viewers will try to attempt part of the workout on a second viewing. Emphasizing the importance of never taking on more than one can handle, Mel encourages viewers to make a commitment to gradually build towards roughly four work-outs per week by sharing the specially designed exercise routines that Mel continues to do each and every week in her own life.

Breaking everything up into sections-- the disc includes the following: Warm Up, Cardio, Advanced Cardio, Arms, Legs, Bums, Tums, and Cool Down along with a bonus short segment on nutrition advice and recipes to make healthy a healthy breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner that is full of nutrients to help cleanse the body and provide much needed energy.

Throughout, she talks viewers through the workouts by indicating the little things we may be doing wrong from expressing how important it is to keep our stomachs tight, parts of our bodies arched, or to keep knees bent, and always reminding us to breathe. The exercises themselves run the gamut from easy-to-manage to pro as she jokes continuously about the "calm before the storm," in preparing people to burn and sweat, ultimately fulfilling the promise revealed in her press release that, "for anyone with jubbily bits, I'm going to tighten you up, make you laugh and enjoy your workout no matter what level of fitness you are."

Totally Fit is an all-around excellent workout DVD with a wonderful option for interaction in choosing your own routine so you can theoretically design your own gym class as you build stamina each and every week. And while a majority of it still seemed a bit advanced, her nice all-encompassing style incorporates everything from yoga like postures to dance to marching or punching in the air. Likewise, Mel never makes the exercises seem repetitive or dull as the disc continues on, which no doubt is helped by the fact that it works like a considerably less expensive version of a Wii video game in letting you decide and program just how much you want to attempt from one day to the next.

Fitness DVD Reviews: So You Think You Can Dance: Get Fit: Tone and Groove; So You Think You Can Dance: Get Fit: Cardio Funk (2009)





Now Available to Own on DVD





Getting Fit for the New Year?

Originally Published: 7/30/09

Although I believe that even admitting I'd never seen an episode of SYTYCD (as the kids call it) in its entirety cost me a handful of Twitter followers, I could think of no greater way to kick off the introduction to this review than by quoting from the one, the only Mr. Stephen Colbert.

On Wednesday, July 29 via Twitter himself, Colbert tweeted, "I suggest we do what every good American does when dissatisfied with the state of affairs. Watch an episode of 'So You Think You Can Dance'!"

And he's definitely right in his idea that when things get you down, as Gene Kelly once advised, there's nothing greater than to spend time, "Singin' in the Rain," or dancing like there's no tomorrow. Therefore it was a wonderful bit of pop-culture coincidence to find the arrival of that tweet hitting my computer screen just hours after I'd experienced the energy of the talented group of extraordinary cast-mates from the smash hit series via their blockbuster fitness DVDs.

I always recommend watching a fitness DVD in its entirety before you even begin to attempt any move in the program and of course as the rushed fine print of the medical warning (that looks an awful lot like the FBI one) promises it's advisable to consult your MD beforehand.

Ironically my screening of the discs last night was especially humorous considering it occurred directly after returning from Urgent Care wherein the MD on call informed me that too much exercise had left me with either a severely strained or torn calf muscle. However, unlike the ridiculously flexible cast of SYTYCD, I'm afraid my injury hadn't arisen from shaking my groove thing or getting my funk on but rather from swimming to my heart's content as one of the only ways to escape the heat in the Arizona desert in the summer (aside from jacking up your energy bill).

Feeling that even as a spectator, I wasn't quite ready for the Cardio Funk-- despite a background growing up with suburban parents who dutifully signed me up for tumbling and ballet at three and then tap, ballet, and jazz for years-- I opted to start up with the much less intense sounding Tone and Groove before moving onto the Funk.

Both DVDs begin similarly and with far more intellectuality than I approached my rush towards the water by dreaming of a childhood watching The Little Mermaid. No they didn't just jump in and instead these professions accurately and thoroughly describe just how important it is for those who intend to exercise to warm-up properly to prevent injury or waking up with severely sore muscles the next day. Sure, now you tell me!

Featuring six dancers from the past seasons of the wildly successful series that's going into its fifth season-- the performers alternate during the warm-up and cool down process by explaining directions to the viewer and it's quickly apparent to see which ones may possibly have had a background in either dance or exercise instruction. To explain--unfortunately despite how valuable it is-- this segment is uneven in both clarity and sound depending on whose turn it is to speak.

Thus, the warm-up on Tone and Groove loses points for clarity since only a few dancers truly address the way you should hold your frame including spinal positioning, neck alignment etc. with concern and enunciation such as Travis who aces this in both discs along with Twitch who encourages those who feel the need to go ahead and rewind the segment to warm-up again if they're not quite there yet.

The warm-up on Tone and Groove is much easier to get a handle on, although for a typical fitness enthusiast, the SYTYCD crew certainly wasn't kidding on the other disc when it came to addressing "cardio" since the warm-up alone feels like a typical aerobics level two workout at a health club. However, even the warm-up may take a few rewinds to finally begin to understand as Twitch had advised on the other disc due to the complexity and dance-like movements involved. Still, the one major benefit of Cardio Funk all-around was that largely it was the clear, encouraging, professional Courtney who led you through the start of it and the other dancers seem to pick up on the way she's able to walk people through instructions with success.

Moreover, the camera gets her cues, showing side views as dancers turn to show the right way to get a proper stretch although a constancy of the camera in remaining in full view of dancers including feet throughout the program would've been far more beneficial for those of us at home struggling to keep up.

In both widescreen releases from Paramount Home Entertainment that fill enhanced televisions (despite not making much use out of it with an extremely dull curtain and backdrop that looks like it would have cost less than the hair products used on one dancer), you're then taken through three diverse dance routines step-by-step.

In this way, it's reminiscent of Fame or those musical theatre cattle call dance auditions except slowed down to a snail's pace. That is until, of course the dancers quickly forget that we haven't studied at the Fame school, Julliard (and for many of us it's been a long time since childhood or community theatre) as I found myself baffled within an instant of Tone and Groove's first routine designed by the charismatic Twitch.

When he opens with a drop to the side and walk around, throwing his body off center without explaining how to hold your frame-- immediately I began realizing just how many people would inadvertently hurt themselves (back injuries mostly) no matter how many warm-ups they did unless of course, they had some recent dance, cheerleading, gymnastics, aerobics, yoga, or other physical training.

Although it's a great routine and not all of the dances are like that one as on Tone and Groove, I'd say that Katee's jazz number in focusing on your legs and arms is far more accessible with enough practice for those who are less experienced. Moreover, surprisingly, aside from thinking you should work with the warm-up of the first disc, I'd recommend the beautiful ballet meets jazz contemporary routine by Travis and calorie burning disco number off Cardio Funk by Courtney for beginners-- thereby working with both discs together to build up enough stamina to eventually move onto the rest.

One benefit of the choreography of the six dances contained on both discs which consist of various styles including hip-hop, Latin or contemporary is that they have been created in mind especially to challenge the areas you need most to stay in shape including your abs, thighs, stomach, arms, and booty.

Again, for those of you who can honestly answer the titular question of "So You Think You Can Dance" with a resounding yes, you can feel free to plunge right in, but for those of us who have not taken tap, ballet, jazz or contemporary dance or engaged in actors' body training in a good long while may want to balance between the two worthwhile discs-- both of which contain very solid cool downs and bonus interviews with fan favorite dancers.

Perhaps another answer could be as simple as watching them a few times to study before moving a muscle and then slowly start "doing your own thing" as the dancers encourage after a good warm-up to help get your muscles ready to groove, funk and tone with the rest. Likewise, an additional idea I had aside from initially just feeling overwhelmed by the "performance level" of the group-- even when they were only on say, stage two and still counting before music was introduced-- would be to encourage the discs as a purchase for parents of teens and students heading off to college as in this economy, it's hard to justify a gym membership.

And to those like yours truly who are in their late twenties and early thirties and just getting back into it, another good way to eventually get to the level of Twitch and Lauren would be to work with some other discs to tone such as Mel B's Totally Fit before you start attempting some of the killer routines viewers tune in weekly to see on TV's Fox Network.

Text ©2009, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com

Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited.

FTC Disclosure: Per standard critical practice, I received these titles from the studio in order to evaluate for review. Receipt of the items had no impact on whether or not they received a favorable or unfavorable response.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Music Blu-ray Review: It Might Get Loud (2009)



Now Available to Own




Photo Slideshow





When the sight of Elvis Presley's gyrating hips made parents in the 1950s fear that rock 'n roll was the gateway to further rebellion, they missed the point entirely. Rock 'n roll didn't cause rebellion; rock 'n roll was the rebellion. And when the art-form is epitomized by a series of scintillating strums on an electric guitar, one realizes that rock 'n roll will be the most seductive rebellion of all.

In Oscar winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim's It Might Get Loud, he focuses on
three particular outsiders from different generations and countries that rebelled against the status quo simply by picking up a guitar.



Forgoing the power point presentations of his previous feature length documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Guggenheim and his extremely talented editor Greg Finton embarked on a rock doc rebellion of their own. Noticeably, It Might Get Loud fails to conform to the genre's two most tried and true structures of putting either a standard concert on film or by delivering a 98 minute episode of VH1 Behind the Music... and it's all the better for it.

The result is a rare blend of performance, autobiography, interview, and confessional filmmaking as Guggenheim invites us along to dig past the modern day success of Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White, both separately and together as they participate in a historical jam and gab session in 2008.
And along with mixing the aforementioned techniques together, the filmmaker establishes a great sense of historical time and place as Guggenheim crafts a powerfully toe-tapping opus that you could almost dub "Portrait of a Guitarist as a Young Man and Legendary Axeman" multiplied by three.



While granted, the amount of footage of the three men from England, Ireland and America actually talking and rocking out is considerably less than the film's trailer would have you believe nor is it as "loud" as the misnomer title claims, nonetheless it's a deeply satisfying and cinematically rhythmic celebration of guitar geekdom and musical passion.



For, despite the fact that they'll never forget their first instruments or the particular songs that turned them on to the sound they love, when it comes to the trio's success and work ethic, to quote Page's band Led Zeppelin “The Song Remains the Same.”

Namely, no matter how many songs they've laid down in recording studios, on pieces of paper, or during sound checks, Page, Edge, and White's rebellious revolution will "Ramble On" in pursuit of the next great riff. In the words of the mostly quiet Edge-- since the guitar is the musician's voice, he works extra hard to make sure that he's able to duplicate the exact sound he can hear in his head to express it to the audience the same way that singer Bono can do vocally.



Taking the more technical based search of Edge to a visceral level of playing the guitar until his fingers literally bleed, Jack White uses his knowledge of several instruments as well as his position as front-man to vocally, lyrically, and musically channel the frustrations raging through him into infectious hooks and enviable chord progressions.



It's no accident that every one of White's songs sound like a rebellion, for it's the music that produced "Seven Nation Army" after all. Furthermore, as I recently discovered when the hot water turned freezing cold in the shower, White's work ensures you're able to survive getting the shampoo out by shouting along to "Hotel Yorba" until you make it to safety.



It's this rebellious nature and constant battle within that defines the individuals who began their lives as: a session guitarist and art school graduate fed up with making Muzak (Page), an Irish student who was lucky just to survive a walk to school without blowing up (Edge), and the youngest of ten children in one of the only white families in Detroit's “Mexican Town” who worked as an upholsterer apprentice (White).



Fascinating, inspiring and intimate, we begin the film scratching our heads at The Edge's bizarre version of yoga that replaces tranquil Zen with his BlackBerry before marveling at his technological knowledge. Quickly we discover, his true Zen is the music as he capture sounds and transfers them to buttons, pedals, boxes and more in order to enhance the texture of every single note he plays.



As he shares some of the painful stories of growing up during the endless bombings in Dublin before punk music caught his ear, the fact that Edge wrote lyrics to "Sunday Bloody Sunday" suddenly clicks in your mind as you see in the man, the boy who crafts anthems he wished had been blaring in his country during the '70s.



Likewise, it's awe-inspiring to watch the creativity pour out of the prolific White who writes a song on camera before handing it to the filmmaker off-camera, and likewise connects bottles and wires to a board with an amp in his fight to avoid easy over-processed studio noise by replacing it with pure soul.



However, classic guitar junkies will most likely be transfixed by Jimmy Page, given his amazing body of work including years spent with the legendary Led Zeppelin. And it's hard not to get goosebumps as we tour one of the band's old recording sites in the form of a gorgeous, vacant estate in the country with wide open spaces and excellent acoustics indoors given the high ceilings and wood for echoes.



Yet, as thrilling as it is to see classic footage of the band in their critically misunderstood heyday when music critics summed up their fourth album with a scathing one paragraph review, it was even more exciting to discover just how much of a little boy Page still is at heart. Eagerly sharing the secrets of "Stairway to Heaven" and "Kashmir" while wanting to learn "Seven Nation Army" at the same time, Page never fails to have a twinkle in his eye from start to finish.



While Edge is naturally reserved to the point of stoicism at times-- cracking a rare but charming smile here or there-- and White's bravado feels both staged yet also earnest, it's Page who seems the most at ease. And as the guys reveal their various influences and play records both to us and to the camera, Page still can't help himself from engaging in an impromptu air-guitar session in his rec room as he rocks out to Link Wray's killer track "Rumble."

Since Guggenheim's effort runs just under one hundred minutes, you'll want to move directly to the deleted scenes afterward where you may yourself wondering, as I did, why every single one of the cut moments weren't used in the movie as there's some truly amazing footage hidden in the special features.



Because it is Sony after all, the excellence in both picture and sound quality is to be expected, complete with Sony's visual calibration Easter Egg, which ensures you have the best picture after you press 7669 on the main menu with your remote.



Rounding out the disc with filmmaker commentary, and press conference footage, Blu-ray owners with BD-Live capabilities can also explore pop-up information during the film. And in a second exclusive BD feature, you're able to
create and share your own play-list, which may definitely inspire you to whip out the air-guitar for a rock rebellion fueled by a "Whole Lotta [Guitar] Love."

Text ©2010, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com

Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

FTC Disclosure:
Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Book Review: Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel -- 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets by Phil Villarreal

Laugh and Learn





In PBS terms, the publication and success of journalist Phil Villarreal's humorous Money-Grubbing how-to guide was made possible by the recession along with the generous comedic support from banking industry bail-outs, corporate greed and mistreated consumers like us.

Back in the '80s, Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gecko proclaimed that “greed is good." But then again, Gecko was addressing Wall Street as opposed to Main Street USA wherein values like The Golden Rule were deemed the road-map to the type of American Dream sung about by the working class hero we proudly (but ironically) called “The Boss.”

As evidenced in his witty Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, it appears that Villarreal came of age refusing to drink either brand of Kool-Aid. Instead, he did the unthinkable of applying Gecko’s mantra to life as a working class, college educated, underpaid reporter, husband, and father of two both unafraid and damn proud “to make a dollar out of fifteen cents.”

But what about individuals, like yours truly who are so polite (and in my case, Midwestern) that we trip and apologize to the sidewalk even without worrying about what profiting from fifteen cents says about us?

Luckily we discover in Villarreal’s “Threeword (Because I’m Too Stingy for a Foreword)” that there is a solution! If we can’t ditch the attributes of “honor, integrity, honesty, and dignity” that Villarreal informs “don’t give you a decent return on your investment,” then role-playing can work wonders in the pursuit to not only save but actually make a few bucks.

The University of Arizona business management major turned film critic advises overly ethical readers to take a cue from the celebrities who star in the movies he critiques. So whether you’re “imagining yourself as someone to whom society’s rules don’t apply,” or just reading Scoundrel for an escapist kick in a time when laughs are scarce, you may be surprised by some of the sound advice packed within this 244 paged paperback ("Threeword" and table of contents not included).

Throughout, he puts his own uniquely witty spin on practical advice including: using one credit card with a solid rewards program that you pay off, always being willing to walk away from a car dealer even if you’ve spent a day in their office playing the waiting game, along with canceling your obsolete land line in favor of your cell phone (which he reminds should never include text messaging).

Likewise, he discusses everything from walking right past ATM machines over the insanity of paying bogus charges to retrieve your own hard-earned money to phoning banks and threatening to close your account unless they remove fees. And in one inspiring account that showcases Villarreal’s perseverance as a man on a mission, he describes the way that he successfully bargained with medical offices to knock 25% off bills paid-in-full.

However, Villarreal’s creativity shines through even more when he takes the practical fiscal advice we hear all the time all the way around the board, past go in order to collect $200 more dollars. Memorably, he asks why watches are necessary when a cell phone can do just fine and encourages would-be parents to time a pregnancy so that they can reap the rewards of hand-me-downs.

Additionally, he tackles imaginary problems you could encounter by cutting down on some of your staples in advocating the free Wi-Fi to be enjoyed all for the price of the cheapest beverages possible in coffee shops. Repeatedly answering questions you may have-- in one ingenious chapter, Villarreal deduces the most inexpensive VOIP solution possible by buying a cheap game and a Nintendo DS System to chat with friends internationally under the guise that you’re playing Pokemon together (provided of course, that they’ve made the same purchase).

Throughout, he breaks up the nitty-gritty advice with earnest and witty wishes that it would finally be acceptable for men to clip coupons or wear the free fanny packs you can get from credit card company stands set up on college campuses to lure freshman into monstrous debt. Yet you’re always keenly aware of just how much work, research, careful planning and knowledge of escape routes was and still is required to be a “Stingy Scoundrel” let alone write about it.

For the escape routes and potential for danger is the reason Villarreal's humorous tome was mistaken for gospel when a group of waitresses ignored his "Threeword" admission that he’d included “a few splashes of innovation… often stretched beyond reason to the deranged extreme,” for actual truth.

Staging a small protest at a Scottsdale Barnes and Noble reading last Fall, the waitresses gave Villarreal their two cents plus office supplies regarding the book’s Reservoir Dogs-like section wherein the creative nonfiction work’s semi-autobiographical first person character recommends tipping based on how badly one wanted to sleep with their server.

Let’s just say, it’s a good thing the women-- who obviously were just not into Villarreal’s humor-- didn’t get to his extremely witty but dicey chapters on dating. Clearly establishing that the happily married author isn’t talking about his wife Jessica except in certain occasions and always flatteringly, he walks you through courtship on a budget.

Dating advice, Scoundrel-style includes behaving like a jerk at a country music concert so you never have to go back to taking advantage of the win-win situation of purchasing WNBA tickets since-- not only do they cost less than NBA seats but a man’s scoring potential may increase right along with the team because of his willingness to attend a women's sporting event.

Similar to the way he weaves in true disclaimers when discussing issues that one could mistake for anecdotes about his wife, friends and children, you’re able to clearly establish Villarreal the reporter and the character throughout. And this is especially apparent during the book’s most notorious chapter as he advises the more daring to speak foreign-language sounding gibberish at the hospital in order to get your life saved before immigration arrives and you end up deported to wherever it is they think you’re from. (Side Note: Why Villarreal doesn't use this chapter as a screenplay jumping-off point is beyond me!)

Refreshingly upbeat and lighthearted, Villarreal may pretend he’s Scrooge McDuck or Mr. Grinch, but there’s no fooling astute readers who can see through exaggeration and appreciate the value of the Stingy Scoundrel whose true currency is laughter.

Needless to say, I’ll take creative jokes about sticking it to the corporations over the reality of corporations doing the opposite to us or financial experts asking us to sign up for their outrageously expensive seminars any day of the week. Moreover, Villarreal’s book, which was turned down dozens of times before our economic downturn made it timelier than ever, made me extremely aware of yet another Dirty Little Secret in particular.

Honestly in the end, Scoundrel marked one of the few instances in recent memory wherein I actually looked forward to dwelling on money and consumer issues. Always on our side, even when he's doing a sideways wink in the text, again and again Villarreal reminds us that it's acceptable to consider our national financial situation with an escapist smile rather than the flood of tears on display during the evening news.

Profile on Phil Villarreal from LaFusionOnline



Text ©2010, Film Intuition, LLC;
All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com

Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited.

FTC Disclosure: Per standard critical practice and per Phil Villarreal's Stingy Scoundrel practice, you bet I received a free copy of this book for review. Receipt of such swag has zero impact on whether or not the book received a positive or negative write-up but I can admit that it did make my mailbox happy.