Robert Wm. Gomez's

Snake Eyes (7/10)

The story is implausible and Nick Cage is as ridiculous as ever, but the stylish direction makes this an entertaining thriller. It opens with a ten minute long shot and keeps bouncing back to that same moment in the plot to show different perspectives. Once the baddies are established things quickly fall apart but by then I was invested in whatever little plot there was.

The Wood and the Graver: The Work of Fritz Eichenberg by Fritz Eichenberg (9/10)

My copy was bought used and man-o-man does it smell musty. The odor is, at best, like a stack of old newspapers in the dampest bayou floodplain basement, or, at worst, the bouquet of the finest Trader Joe's wine. I'm not sure if the author's intent was make his readers recoil in disgust, but, if it was, mission accomplished. Okay, it's unfair for me to judge a book by the way it smells, and, as we all know, a book's scent is not set by the author. It's set by the publisher. Damn you Crown Publishers, Inc.!

Shirley Temple and the Screaming Specter by Kathryn Heisenfelt (5/10)

This is a strange old book. It's a Nancy Drew style mystery but the main character is a teen-aged Shirley Temple. Characters in the book recognize her as the famous entertainer and then it's never mentioned again. There's one instance in the book where, in order to escape a desperate situation, she needs to utilize skills she had learned sitting in the make-up chair. This is just weird concept. The mystery itself is not that deep and Shirley isn't even the one who solves it. The whole plot about a haunted lake might have been the impetus of her investigation, but it's soon forgotten.

A History Of Wood Engraving by Albert Garrett (6/10)

The title of this one is a bit deceptive. The book is actually a history of British wood engraving. It starts out at the very beginnings of art history by making the tenuous claim that European cave art was actually a form of engraving. There are some nods to Chinese works, then quite a bit about the woodcuts of the Albrecht Dürer and other formschneider print makers (again, not wood engraving!).

La Dolce Vita (7/10)

Wonderfully photographed and filled with memorable moments, but this just wasn't my cup of tea. A little too meandering for my plot-craving brain.

Suspiria [2018] (7/10)

I'm not sure why filmmakers insist on remaking films that were already great. The original Suspiria is one of my favorite movies, but perhaps there is room for improvement. Like almost every Italian horror movie, the plot is a mess. Is that reason enough for a remake? This new version is pretty good, and I'd prefer this to Mother of Tears any day. Wisely, there really wasn't much of an attempt to match the colorful visual mastery of the original.

Execution Squad (6/10)

A roving band of vigilantes are killing criminals left and right while the police try to track down a kidnapper. Not much action in this poliziottesco, but it's moderately entertaining.

Presto! How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales by Penn Jillette (7/10)

Penn details his weight-loss journey and his wacky diet. It's an interesting take on how we view food and there are elements of his diet that might make sense for me to try. He keeps it entertaining and informative, but I miss crazy junk-food Penn. Snackers need a hero now that the Go-Nuts are no more.

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (6/10)

I primarily have this book because I am interested in the spectacular Gustave Doré wood engravings. The text is a deep and thoughtful meditation on the divine yadda, yadda. To be honest, most of it was over my head. I would be reading and finally think I had a grasp on what he was talking about, then he'd slip into the medieval Florentine pop-culture references and I would be lost again. By the third book I was just reading the overviews, skimming the poem and spending most of my time in awe of the illustrations.

Anthem by Ayn Rand (5/10)

Having read her other books, I felt obliged to read this novella. It's a fairly literal take on individualism that would have benefited from a little world-building and character development. The sci-fi premise is that the world has regressed back into a primitive technological state. The collective is all-important. People are known only by numbers and their preferred pronoun is we. As expected, the hero is the character who begins to view himself as an individual only to be shunned by his peers.