“The Outsiders” Remains Outside the Classics

Image result for the outsiders movie poster

Based on the book of the same name by S.E. Hinton, Francis F. Coppola’s The Outsiders, originally released in 1983, is a movie that desperately attempts to capture the ideas and morals of the original novel but falls conspicuously flat in movie magic.

Featuring C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane, this coming-of-age drama touches on the starkly contrasting ideas of violence and hope, dark and light, poor and rich. The soon-to-be-famous actors and actresses starring in this film lent it potential, but it was quickly squandered with a weak script, courtesy of Kathleen Rowell, and egregious directing.

Ultimately, a combination of horrible camerawork, awful acting, and mistimed music, create The Outsiders, a movie that even the inspirational message cannot improve.

Ponyboy Curtis (Howell), the movie’s protagonist, is a fourteen-year-old orphan who lives with his older brothers Darry (Swayze) and Sodapop (Lowe) in the poorer north side of town, the “wrong” side. Known as the “greasers” for their greased hair, they and their gang, which consists of Dally Winston (Dillon), Johnny Cade (Macchio), Two-Bit Mathews (Estevez), and Steve Randle (Cruise), have a bitter rivalry with the Socs (short for ‘Socialites’), the rich kids on the south side.

For as long as anyone can remember, these two groups have been at each other’s throats, always jumping and getting jumped by the other, but there were always limits, an unspoken line never to be crossed – until the day that the life of one is weighed as more than the life of another, and Johnny murders a Soc to save Ponyboy’s life.

The Outsiders is the kind of movie that has the potential to either become an all-time classic or an all-time flop and after one watches it for the first time, it is obvious that this film strongly inclines to the latter. Some things that immediately stand out to the viewer are the lack of proper filming technique and a distinct dearth in emotional acting, but the most pressing issue with this movie is the background music. Not only do the pieces performed not fit the mood of the shots at all, but they also appear at the most inopportune moments, blocking out what the actual characters are saying at the same time, which can become rather tedious to the audience.

All in all, The Outsiders is a film which had promise, but did not take advantage of it to leap to great heights. Though some fans may enjoy the film for its accurate events compared to the novel, even the most dedicated of followers may not be able to sit through this train wreck of a film, with atrocious acting and misplaced music. Out of five stars, this movie deserves a two, because while it did maintain the novel’s message and plot, it failed in all the aspects that make a movie a classic.

-Mahak M.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Image result for to kill a mockingbird book cover

Published in 1960 and never forgotten since, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a dramatic coming-of-age tale about a small Southern town poisoned by prejudice during the 1930s, only about half a century after the end of the Civil War.

Told through the eyes of eight-year-old Scout Finch, this novel appears to merely be the story of a small-town girl, but if one observes carefully and makes connections, one will discover the twisting and turning threads of racial segregation lying just underneath the surface. Atticus Finch, Scout’s father and a man who believes that justice is blind, faces the most dangerous trial of his life when he attempts to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, from a rape charge.

In the background of all this, however, is a quaint depiction of Maycomb, a tiny village at the heart of Maycomb County. The reader watches Scout Finch grow from a young tomboy to a slightly older tomboy, as she loses her innocence in the face of the hate brought on by racial prejudice.

All in all, To Kill a Mockingbird is the kind of book that will stay with the reader long after they have finished it. Combining delightfully accurate prose with an undercurrent mocking the idea of segregation, this novel is an extraordinary one, pulling any and all readers into its pages and holding them there from the very first page to the very last word.

-Mahak M.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Though often overshadowed by its fellow stories, such as Goldfinger and Dr. No, Ian Fleming’s first novel, the action-packed adventure novel Casino Royale, is an incredible escapade not to be missed for the world.

As a double-o agent, 007 James Bond is licensed to kill, and has taken advantage of it on multiple occasions. However, his new assignment at a French casino may be his greatest challenge yet. Tasked with bankrupting one of the richest European paymasters on the planet (and one working for the rival spy organization SMERSH to boot), Bond must enamour lady luck long enough to win eighty million francs at the baccarat table – a pure game of chance.

And yet, good fortune is far from the only romance Bond has on his mind. Attracted to his beautiful companion, Vesper Lynd, Bond must balance his love for her with the importance of his mission, but when misfortune befalls Vesper, the carefully-built castle of cards may come crashing down.

Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale is a classic novella that combines love, luck, and logic in a twisting and turning plot with a startling conclusion that is practically impossible to see coming. Pages turning, plot thickening, no reader will be able to put down this exciting book about one man who has to risk everything he has to save it.

-Mahak M.

Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

From the author of the well-known The Three Musketeers comes The Count of Monte Cristo, a classic tale of romance, adventure, and overarching revenge.

In 1815, Edmond Dantès, a talented sailor on the cusp of marriage, finds his golden life stolen away from him when he is cruelly betrayed by his supposed comrades. Branded a traitor and sentenced to life in prison, Dantès, innocent and heartbroken, has no idea the scale of the conspiracy presented against him. Of the three co-conspirators, all were considered the unfortunate man’s “friends”: M. Danglars, a fellow sailor who was desirous of supplanting Dantès as captain of their ship; M. Fernand, who loved the woman Dantès was to marry; and M. de Villefort, who ignored his duty as a man of law and sent a faultless young man to prison to protect his murderous father.

However easily they may have gotten away with their crime in round one, they certainly did not keep up their success in round two. After spending fourteen years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Edmond Dantès sets himself at liberty, and returns to France as the enigmatic Count of Monte Cristo, the man everyone knows yet no one does.

Receiving wealth beyond belief from a fellow inmate, the count, tenacious and patient, not only avails himself of the opportunity to exact revenge on the malicious men he blindly trusted, he also uses his immense wealth and munificence to benefit the lives of those who helped him in the past.

In the midst of all this, however, life goes on, and romantic intrigues, marriage refusals, and the like all continue on in the background of a slow-moving chess game only the Count of Monte Cristo knows is being played.

Mind racing, excitement overtaking, any reader, no matter what genre they prefer to read, will root for the vengeful Count of Monte Cristo, and condemn his enemies to their given punishments.

-Mahak M. 

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Overdrive

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Image result for the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxyThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy starts off on a normal Thursday – until, of course, a repulsive alien race arrives with the intention of destroying the entire Earth in order to construct a new galactic bypass.

Seconds before Arthur Dent is vaporized along with the entirety of his planet, he is lucky (or unlucky) enough to be saved by his friend Ford Prefect, who is actually a researcher for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which is exactly what it sounds like), and who has been stranded on Earth for the past fifteen years.

As Arthur and Ford travel throughout the galaxy, they team up with Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed, slightly insane president of the galaxy; Trillian (Zaphod’s girlfriend), the only other human being left in the galaxy; and Marvin the Paranoid Android, an extremely intelligent but extremely depressed robot.

Together, this unorthodox crew will travel across the galaxy in search of the universal question of life as well as the answer to the question no one cares about. They will face indescribable horrors in the form of Vogon poetry and two white mice; they will almost die, then improbably survive, then almost die again; but above all, they will remember the mantra of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: DON’T PANIC!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is an extremely entertaining novel that truly combines humor and science-fiction into one unforgettable book. Adams makes up for a lack of plot with an overabundance of satire and hilarity that will leave the reader racing from cover to cover faster than they can say ‘Magrathea.’ Fans of science fiction, humor, or reading in general will immediately fall in love with this prime example of imaginative fiction.  

-Mahak M.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It is also free to download from Overdrive

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Image result for death on the nileMost murders are committed in one of two ways. The first is a crime of passion, of spur-of-the-moment violence, while the second is a crime of mediation, carefully thought out and carried out accordingly. Usually, a murder can be classified as one or the other quite easily, but what happens when the two run together and become a bloody mix of accident and intention, heart and brain? This is exactly the sort of crime faced by Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie.

Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective with a big brain and an even bigger mustache, is called to action once more by newlywed Linnet Doyle. After unceremoniously stealing her best friend Jacqueline de Bellefort’s love, Simon, and marrying him, the wealthy young woman seeks protection from her rival in love.

Unfortunately for Mrs. Doyle, even Poirot cannot stop a crime of passion, and the next day finds Linnet Doyle lying dead with a bullet shot straight through her head. Jacqueline is obviously suspected, but when she is revealed to have an airtight alibi, Poirot is confronted with a seemingly endless selection of twists, turns, and backstabbers, leaving even him at a temporary loss of suspects. Luckily for Poirot (and the reader), the killer is uncovered, and the events behind the murder are so unforeseen that it is impossible for even the most dedicated reader to correctly deduce them.

Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie, is an extremely compelling novel that combines good writing, a neat plot, and a startling conclusion into four hundred pages of action and mystery. Fans of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot or any detective will not be disappointed by this intriguing Egyptian thriller novel.

-Mahak M.

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Are Libraries Still Necessary?

Since the beginning of time, libraries have been an important part of human culture. For
over thousands of years, people have met to discuss, gain, and impart wisdom in
libraries across the globe.

Unfortunately, in the twenty-first century, people are starting to rely more and more on technology than on these beautiful buildings stuffed with books, and are questioning the necessity of libraries today.

The fact is, more people visit libraries every year than they do any other establishment. There was actually a study in New York that showed that the number of people who attend sporting events, museums, live performances, zoos, etc., adds up to about 30 million. Though this seems to be a rather large number, the NYC libraries counted about 37 million visitors, meaning that libraries attract more people than all other attractions do – combined!

Despite this, some people are suggesting that we do away with these wonderful libraries in favor of the internet. However, not only has overexposure to screens been
proven to damage one’s eyesight, reading books online is not nearly as thrilling
or satisfying as holding an actual library book in one’s hand.

Notwithstanding this, there are some people who still believe that libraries can be replaced with a simple Google search. What these people refuse to understand, though, is that libraries have become so much more than a place to store books. Nowadays, one can enter a library and find jobs, homework help, and many other activities, such as trivia nights and book talks, ice-cream socials and reading programs, that enrich and empower the community.

For these reasons, it is as plain as day that these power plants of knowledge are exceedingly necessary for our society and our world to not only survive, but to thrive.

-Mahak M.