Halloween Week: Woman In Black

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Plot: A young lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals (via IMDb)

Scare O’Meter: 3 scares out of 5

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Oh em ghee! Look, I am a scaredy cat. I won’t even deny it. Give me violence, I can deal with that shizz, give me terrorism, I will be endlessly fascinated. Give me a serial killer, I will be hooked. Give me a nice little psychological horror? I will hide under my blankets yelling for my mama.

I was impressed with the directing. The movie was shot in such clear, contrasting lines, it reminded me somewhat of a Hitchcock film (I am sorry if I do offend by that statement, but the dramatic contrasts and sharp lines reminded me terribly of Suspicion). The way this movie was directed made it more eery at the end of the day.

Daniel Radcliff never really impressed me with his portrayal of his iconic Potter roles, but I really enjoyed him in here. He manages to be distressed and determined at the same time, and shows with a film like this he can carve a name out for himself in the current entertainment industry.

The scariest of the film all came from obvious tricks that managed to make you jump even when you knew what was going down. I had some seriously Dafuq moments with those creepy as fuck dolls, and then Arthur goes and willingly winds them up on his own at one stage?!?!

I thought Ciaran Hinds was Stephen Fry who had  losta LOT of weight. My bad. I always enjoy both actors and thought he was handling his grief in this movie way better than his loony wife, who also freaked me out at one stage quite spectacularly.

Tips to surviving when visiting a freaky English town:

Don’t go to Freaky English Town (FET).

If you are at a FET, don’t go into spooky old mansions. Ain’tnobody got time for that.

If the villagers tell you to LEAVE, you LEAVE.

Don’t invite your son on a working trip, basic knowledge.

Don’t wind up freaky old school dolls that look like it had a demonic encounter sometime in the last five hundred years.

Don’t try and fix things, just leave.

Here are some (patented) clips of me and Zoë discussing this movie while I was watching. Enjoy!

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(notice how my typos increase as the movie continues… I promise that is not how I usually spell!)

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PS:  I am referring to Ciarian Hinds, mistakenly seen as Stephen Fry (anyone could have done that!)4

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Okay, there you have it! A look into the (slightly hysterical) conversations Zoë and I had about this. Hope you enjoyed and happiest of Halloweens!

Halloween Week: Cry Wolf

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Plot: Eight unsuspecting high school seniors at a posh boarding school, who delight themselves on playing games of lies, come face-to-face with terror and learn that nobody believes a liar – even when they’re telling the truth. (via IMDb)

So much cute in this pic!

               So much cute in this pic!

Scare O’Meter: 1/5 – The equivalent of having to listen to more of the Oscar Pistorius Case

Rating: 6/10 

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Cry Wolf was better than expected. When the friend I visited mentioned that it is a good movie I was like erm, YOU were the one that told me Grown Ups 2 is funny, but persistent was the friend and we watched it. The movie is obviously low budget, but the actors acted just fine, the horror wasn’t too much (I don’t even think classifying this as horror is correct), and it had a few tinges of scary but not enough to keep me awake. I enjoyed Jared Padalecki much more in here as in Supernatural, because he wasn’t shedding a damn tear every time something scary happened. Seeing Ian Morris pre-Pretty Little Liars and Once Upon a Time was fun – his British accent is the best thing ever to happen and he just seems so sweet. Jon Bon Jovi plays the sleazy teacher in here, and he surprised me the most with his acting chops. He did the slick, slimy teacher so well I was repulsed all the time, which was something they were aiming for.

I could have told everyone in that school that Dodger was Dodgy, because she looked the part, played the part and was generally a spoiled rich girl in desperate need of attention. I really didn’t like her much, because the tricks she pulled werenot that far from the manipulative lengths a lot of women of a certain calibre would pull if they wanted something their way.

The movie didn’t drag its’ butt so it gets major points there, and the storyline was clearly outlined and not immersed in a pool of confusion, something that happens way too much with low budget films. It had a nice little plot twist near the end, something completely surprising, at least to me, which made a lot of things more realistic that had happened earlier on.

Marvelous Mondays: The Hulk by MovieRob

Ahoy folks! Rob was kind enough to review the Hulk for me for my Marvelous Mondays blogathon. If you are interested, see the list here and pops me a line, okay? Thanks!

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“We’re going to have to watch that temper of yours. ” – Dr. David Banner

Number of Times Seen – 2 (3 Nov 2003 and 20 Oct 2014)

Brief Synopsis – A scientist gets caught in a gamma ray accident which causes him to turn into an indestructible Green Monster when he gets angry

My Take on it – I have always been a big fan of superheroes, so when I heard that they were coming out with a film version of the Hulk, I was hopeful that they would do a great job with it.

What’s interesting is that when it originally was released in 2003, I probably enjoyed it more because of the lack of many more movies in the genre, but now, re-watching it in 2014, I can rightfully say that this is a disappointment because obviously it could have been done better.

Director Ang Lee tried to make a superhero movie that was more intellectual than action in order to give the viewer a  reason to think about the “why” and not just the “how” one becomes a superhuman.

I don’t think the world was ready for something like that at the time and it would take a few more years until Christopher Nolan was able to prove that it’s possible to achieve.

The storyline is weak because there isn’t much of a villain here and that’s kind of the point of a superhero movie.  When the Marvel juggernaut of movies took over this franchise in 2008, they did a better job of fleshing out the character and gave us a more enjoyable superhero movie like we all wanted.

All that being said, this movie still has it’s merits and the main one being that the special effects are very well done (for the time).

As much as I like Eric Bana, I’m not sure if he was the best choice for Bruce Banner, both Ed Norton and Mark Ruffalo do better jobs with the role in the subsequent movies.

Bottom Line - Not the best superhero movie ever made, but also not the worst.  Lee’s attempt to make an intellectual superhero movie just didn’t work out like he planned.  Very cool special effects but the storyline is weak.

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (6/10)

Thanks Rob!

PS: I took part in Rob’s monthly Genre Grandeur by reviewing Wolf of Wallstreet. Go looky see here

Halloween week AHEAD!

Woohoo!!! Halloween is getting nearer and I’m starting to get really excited! Just a heads up – I will be posting some scary stuff from Tuesday on-wards. I don’t have everything I hoped to have ready, because I am writing Chemistry next week Thursday CRY CRY CRY, BUT there are a few things I can’t wait to share with you all!

Up ahead:

Woman In Black review (probably Tuesday)

Some South-African ghost stories to keep you up at night

Cry Wolf – This weirdly entertaining low budget thriller I saw a few weeks ago.

Scariest moments of Supernatural (The REAL Supernatural, meaning Season 1-5)

During the weekend or probably next week I will post what I made for our work’s Halloween cookathon (people at work read this blog sometimes and it is TOP SECRET)

Grading system for Halloween posts:

I created this grading system for all the scary things I will be watching/reading. It contains a personal set of horrors to which I can relate to :D

scare meter log

PS: Halloween candy does NOT make fat, everyone knows this, so you can eat as much as you want! 

See you all next week!

Movie Review: Noah (2014)

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Noah: Fire consumes all. Water cleanses. It separates the foul from the pure. The wicked from the innocent. And that which sinks from that which rises. He destroys all, but only to start again.

Plot synopsis: A man is chosen by his world’s creator to undertake a momentous mission before an apocalyptic flood cleanses the world. via IMDb

Rating: 6/10

In possibly the worst book adaption of the century, Russell Crowe stars as Noah, the iconic Ark building Biblical character. He is moody, prone to bitching and sulking, and thus I’ve deduced that Crowe merely imitated his own personality for this. Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson are also in here, and both are fine but it is clearly either’s best work. The shots where all the animals lie sleeping looked awfully fake, and I thought it was simply silly a few times. Anthony Hopkins is some sort of magical elder that cures Emma of her infertility, and I think he is left to drown, and I found that sad because he was so nice and all.

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I did like that Noah was portrayed as a human being. He isn’t a saint who never got mad, he was flawed and human and insecure. Noah’s eldest son was fine and I got why Emma had such a thing for him always, but I still felt sorry for the other son who had to leave behind his lady friend, once again to drown.

Basically, the movie is too long, and so different from the original version I don’t know who the target audience was – if not made for believers this movie doesn’t have enough weight to be considered good enough for other audiences. It is too long and too shabbily put together to be really impressive.

Book Review: Night Shift (Nora Roberts)

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Rising DJ Cilla O’Roarke loves her late night shows on radio station KHIP. She gets to be with her music and be alone, which she likes best, and can still take care of her younger sister Deborah who is studying to become a lawyer. Cilla’s illusion of safety is shattered one night when she receives a threatening phone call through the station’s caller program. Telling herself that it was a onetime thing, she receives more phone calls and it quickly becomes a nightly occurrence. She is promised death as retribution for her crimes, but Cilla has no idea what these crimes could possibly be. Eventually, her station manager decides to call in the help of the police – wisely ignoring the DJ’s protest that she can handle it herself.

The police arrive in the forms of detectives Althea Grayson and Boyd Fletcher. Cilla is somewhat daunted by Althea’s staggering beauty and Boyd’s easy charm and obvious interest. Ignoring Boyd’s advances is not as easy as Cilla would have liked, because she actually feels something for the first time in ages for a man. Accepting her attraction to Boyd would mean dealing with the scars of her divorce and the insecurities that have plagued her ever since.

While their feelings deepen, the stalker becomes more verbally aggressive than previously, and starts showing up at Cilla’s house and private gigs she hosts. Can they the man who thinks he needs to meet out justice against an innocent woman? What is in Cilla’s past that could have caused this behaviour? Is the endangered lady capable of overcoming her insecurities and accepting the love Boyd is offering?

Rating: 6.5/10

Hmm, wow. My initial draft of this post was SO sarcastic, and I have no idea why. I really had such a nice time reading this book. I’ve been reading the series somewhat out of order but could still follow easily enough (Nora Roberts’ books have very predictable story lines).

It is typical Nora material – interesting, sexy, well written and researched. These books are all very 90’s – women who were starting to do it for themselves but still wanted a man to save the day. I always enjoy a chilly stalker, and the villain in here was rather terrifying a few times. I enjoyed Boyd – he was easy going, charming and sure of himself, without being the “deep, emotional thinker” that loves to be present in books but so rarely really exists.

It has its own element of fantasy – I mean a rich cop (or more accurately, in SA, an HONEST cop), but Nora did not write books in the 80’s based on their believability!

Recommendation: Only to established fans.

Marvellous Mondays: Thor (2011)

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Happy Monday, fair friends and readers. I’m reviewing Thor today. I reviewed it before here, back in the dark ages when I was still very new to blogging. I have some mighty months behind me now, where I’ve hopefully improved significantly from those early moments. I also included him in my Top Ten Movie Crushes for Zoë, which you can check out here.

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Plot synopsis: The powerful but arrogant god Thor is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders. via IMDb

Thinking back, Thor was probably the first movie of the new Marvel stuff I watched. I was hooked immediately, but it may have been due to the fact that the leading start is so attractive and not really about the storyline. Don’t misunderstand, folks, the story-line isn’t the worst ever, but I’ve since seen tons of movies that do it much better. The Iron Man arm of the franchise is much better than the Thor one, and this movie seems to have been produced solely to prepare the world for the Avengers-storm that was looming.

The impressive array of actors and actresses really helped move this movie along. There is the eternally impressive Anthony Hopkins, the darling of the nerd-world Natalie Portman, the ridiculously charming and mysterious Idris Elba, and the surprising (then) new-comer Tom Hiddleston who some might argue was better suited for his role as Loki than Chris Hemsworth was for Thor.

Chris Hemsworth really looks like what I’ve always thought the Norse god would look like. He was probably doing the best with the material given, and his acting isn’t bad, it is just a bit floppy in places. He has improved through the development of the franchise and he has some roles in other movies that he is really good in. I DO find it laughable that they considered his brother Liam for a few seconds for this role, because that wouldn’t have worked at all.

There is decent enough character development in here: Thor had to learn to not let his hot head dominate over his good heart (that is derived from JK Rowling’s description of Harry) and Loki went from the insecure younger brother to the mad villain.

I enjoyed the graphics, something Marvel has never skimped on. Asgard manages to be both other worldly and beautiful, realistic enough to not make me hate the sci-fi part of it (yeah, I just said that). I loved the Bifrost Bridge, one of the prettiest things I’ve seen in a while.

I would rate this movie a 6.5/10, which is slightly less than my original rating.

PS: You can check the list out here for available movies and drop me a line at natashastander@gmail.com to let me know if you would like to review some!

Five things Friday: The Five Personalities that needs a slap at work

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Oh, office life. The office is like returning to highschool – an enclosed space where tempers and hormones flow between people who come from different political, cultural and educational background. A hotbed for dislike, as I’m sure you will all agree. I’ve compiled you a list of the most annoying types around below, but please feel free to add more in the comments section as I am a hundred percent certain the irritation is an ongoing process.

The: I have sooooo many degrees and I am soooooo qualified

Wow, I am so honoured to meet you. Please enlighten me with your 15 years of knowledge gained at University, but please apply all this PRACTICALLY to show me YOU KNOW HOW.

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Your degree makes you nothing if you can’t apply it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that I will take a logical, practical problem solver over a highly educated, self-important narcissist who shakes when they use a pipette because it is such a foreign object.

The: My parents are so rich so I studied this and then got bored then tried this and then that wasn’t for me and now I am going to study teaching YAAAY

Well, why don’t you just climb into your Audi that you got on your 18th birthday and drive quickly to a place of safety before any violence gestures ensue?

I am so happy for you that you’ve never really had to work hard a day in your life, that you could always fall back against your parents’ bed of currency.  Really now.

The: Oh, I’m so sorry you have bronchitis. I was MUCH sicker than you that one time in Uzbekistan (remember my AWESOME trip right?!) because I had pneumonia and Cholera and Ebola combined.

I think you all get this one really well, so I won’t go into too much detail except suggest that when a person is really ill, they don’t want to hear how much worse off you were than them.

The: I just can’t eat when I’m so stressed type.

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Hmm, well, I’ll go drink a milkshake to get over my stress.

The: I am ALWAYS right and your ideas makes no sense, but when I realise you were right and your idea makes sense please don’t expect an apology because I am way too important for that.

Because who needs good vibes at work?

And a bonus: I’m the world’s biggest virgin and yet I boast about my sexual conquests to everyone so they will think I am Tiger Woods.

Bitch please. If you could get a girl to willingly get within fifty meters of you, I am marrying Tom Hardy this weekend.

Book Review: Night Smoke (Nora Roberts)

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Natalie Fletcher, the daughter of Fletcher industries, is as determined to make her new Lingerie stores a success as she is to prove that she can do the job as well, possibly better, than her brother Boyd would have if he hadn’t followed his passion to become a police man.

Natalie is called to the scene where her warehouse is burning down by a worried caretaker. She meets arson investigator Ryan Piasecki, who is blunt and irritates her immediately. The ex-firefighter finds it amusing that she thinks she can help at the scene, but quickly comes to respect her work ethics. Although he initially suspects Natalie of starting the fire to claim insurance, he realises she is innocent because another fire breaks out when she is having dinner with him, miles away.

Meanwhile, Ryan and Natalie start seeing each other outside of work and he has to start facing the facts that she is an heiress to an empire while he is merely a firefighter. Natalie is furious that Ryan would dare bring her financial situation in as a tool to break things off with her, and their prideful natures are soon constantly bumping heads.

Ryan intensifies his investigation after yet another fire, and finds a convicted pyromaniac living close by. Ryan still carries the scars from a fire Clarence Roberts started, so arresting him again brings the arson investigator great pleasure. Through skill and knowledge of his suspect, Ryan confirms his suspicions that a benefactor is paying Clarence to set the fires at Fletcher industries.

Who is financing these fires? Is it a personal vendetta or a competitor? Can Ryan save Natalie when someone is clearly out to destroy everything she has worked so hard for? Will their rocky relationship survive the last fire?

Rating: 7/10

Ah, Nora Roberts. Nora has been publishing books since 1981 and I would like to thank Nora for creating completely unrealistic ideas of men since 1981. I actually love it, even though I have ultimately accepted that no man can be blunt, straightforward, intense and yet utterly charming and in touch with his feelings at the same time. It is silly and unrealistic but hey, books are these things we read to escape from reality, and Ry Piasecki is sadly not in my reality. I liked him, found him fun, and yet could not help what would wonder here in 2014 if an Arson investigator kissed a potential suspect. A broken jaw and a lawsuit perhaps, but hopefully not an invitation into the bedroom.

Serial arsonists fascinate me on the same level that serial killers fascinate me. I can’t understand them so they are ultimately intriguing. I really like Chasing Fire and Blue Smoke more than this, two Roberts books that also deals with firefighters and arson, but this was not a bad addition to the Roberts collection. The book is well written and a quick read and I really had fun with it. My only pain was the floppy ending – it could have been more dramatic, it really felt like it flopped just a bit, and that the writer was tired and couldn’t care any less about it.

Recommendation: For fans