Five Things Friday: Five Things I’m excited about

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II

I am really excited to see the conclusion of this saga. I think Jennifer Lawrence is enormously talented and her back-up cast is amazing as well. But really… if you haven’t read the books, you WILL be mad.

Downton Abbey Season Six

What I hope to see:

Mary falling in love

Anna and Bates FINALLY getting some peace

Edith finding happiness but also getting to keep her daughter – get out of that middle child syndrome, girl!

Tom coming back – I mean really now.

Matthew resurrected – improbable, I know, but a girl can dream #matthewcrawleyforever

Homeland Season 5

What I hope to see:

Carrie somehow getting a brain and a personality and no baby drowning moments.

I hope that red haired baby returns – SO GINGERY

Peter Quinn – Can I just always gush about him? Sad Peter, Avenging Peter, Badass Peter, he is the best.

I hope season 5 is as nail biting as season four. It was a fantastic season and I hope they continue on that pace.

Macbeth

Really, Michael Fassbender and Marian Cottliard both look amazing. I’ve never read the play, but it seems like Death is Everywhere. Regardless, I want to see it and hope it is absolutely amazing.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Not gonna lie: I’m not one of the superfans out there, and they are EVERYWHERE right now. However, I am STILL pretty excited about this!

What are you excited for?

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Book Review: Hidden Riches (Nora Roberts)

Hidden riches

Plot: Dora Conroy has a passion for antiques—and any other rarities she can acquire for her quaint Philadelphia shop. A seasoned dealer, she knows all the tricks of the trade. But she is unprepared for the deadly consequences when she purchases a few curiosities at an auction—and unknowingly brings home a priceless cache that makes her the target of an international criminal. Entwined in a reckless chase, Dora turns to her new neighbor, Jed Skimmerhorn, a cop who’s turned in his badge—and whose desire for lovely Dora puts him back in the line of fire. Fighting their attraction while falling in love, they find that hidden riches can have a most ordinary façade. And that possession can be a lethal obsession…

Rating: 8/10

I saw this book in retail recently – for R300. Now, I don’t mind spending that much on a book when I read it and want my own personal copy because it was an enjoyable read. Every single new release from Roberts in the past two years have disappointed me so I was not overly keen for forking out cash for a wildcard read. I walked away sadly, shaking my head at the price of hard copies these days, hoping that the price would come down in a few months.

Then I found this 2015 release book for R100 at my favorite bookshop and I had a wild happy dance in my head. What a sweet find!

Ironically this is the best release form Roberts in the last few years and would totally justify R300. I thought the book extremely well written and that Roberts had deliberately chosen a new path of writing. Her character constantly identifies as a feminist and the hero was not as McDreamy as all the others- he seemed battered and mostly like an ass but with some good qualities too (i.e. most men on this earth).

It annoyed me a bit that the villain was identified very early on (somewhere around page 14) but it worked fine because his madness ran concurrently with the story and kept escalating through the book. DiCarlo was more terrifying than Finley – he was such a predator and how he hid in Dora’s room was scary. Finley was the current favorite prototype for a villain – extremely rich and well-presented and secretly mad.

I liked Dora – she is very right-brain whereas I am really left-brain, but I thought her well written and interesting. Throughout the entire book she continues being her own woman, even though some of her actions are still very retarded and dangerous. Jed was obviously fleshed out to be a more realistic hero and he seemed as real as it was going to get in one of these books.

The drama and mystery escalated quite well and the ending was a rough one – I really enjoyed it. The book was written fluently and was not too thick and didn’t contain scenes that weren’t really necessary.

Hidden Treasures is truly a treasure in my Nora collection (har-har). I might even say now it is one of my favorite reads by the author… YAY!

Movie Review: John Wick (2014)

John Wick poster

Plot: An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him

Rating: 8/10

I’ve been on such a Keanu Reeves roll lately (Zoë and I were having way too much cheesy fun on my visit to her! :D) He’s not a bad actor but unfortunately he has things like 47 Ronin under his belt, which might just be the worst movie I have ever had the misfortune to meet (a lofty praise). John Wick is in the attributes column for Reeves. It is way too much fun and never stops with the cheese. That is a good thing, because the cast is rolling with it and never tries to pass it off as a serious mob movie. I was so furious when that incredibly cute dog was killed by Theon fucking Greyjoy, reminding me why I don’t even feel sympathy for Reek. I wanted to climb through the screen and get my revenge for Robb Stark and for tiny little Daisy – I mean, let’s face it: The only rule in movies that should never be crossed is the one where you DON’T KILL THE DOG. EVER. I was not even surprised that he reacted the way he did – the only thing that made the loss of his life more bearable was that puppy and when he lost it too, he lost his shit – unfortunately for the punks who committed the heinous crime, John Wick was versed in the art of kicking ass and didn’t need just angrily yell into space like the rest of us would have to do. John Wick had such a reputation and I thoroughly enjoyed the respect everyone threw his way and the way they deferred to him and refused to get into a fight. The action scenes were wonderfully choreographed and looked well – big ups to the constant reloading of guns – it drives me insane in other action bullets where they get eighteen shots out of a 6 bullet gun. The movie also looks really good – the way they implement colour into scenes and the beautiful camera work – sheesh, it looked great. I also have to reiterate my point that if men in this world had any inclination how women reacted to good suits they would wear them all the time. (thanks, Keanu). John Wick is such a great amount of fun and shouldn’t be taken too seriously because storywise it isn’t as intricate as people would want. However, it looks really good and if you are the type of person who appreciates the fact that a man went on a mission to avenge his dog, you are going to love this.

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Links I love II

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We’re back at it! You can see my first post on Links I loved HERE. Hope you enjoy these!.

Let’s start off with Meryl Streep discussing how Malala Yousafzai influenced her – I just love when strong women applaud other strong women. We should do that more often.

These two Cracked Posts that shatter your image of famous people (Part One and Two)

These Bratz dolls were reimagined as powerful females – LOVE

This Huffington Post post about how people look before and after coffee – this is me!

This Fight Club Trivia

Some newsworthy posts:

I disagree with miners pretty much all the time in South-Africa – their demands are outrageous and I really feel like unions are detrimental to this country’s economy. However, when I fully read what was going on in this lawsuit where miners are taking large mining companies to court regarding health battles, I got fully on board this time. No citizen should ever have health issues because they weren’t given proper PPE.

The bridge that collapsed in South-Africa – this story caused such righteous outrage in South-Africans – aren’t we being killed by enough things already? Can our bridges NOT kill us too?

Book Review: Matched (Allie Condie)

Matched

Plot:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow

Rating: 6.5/10

Matched is a Dystopian novel and it tries to be unique. I’ve heard it is quite similar to the Maze Runner or one of those. However, I’ve only ever read the Divergent series and the Hunger Games in Dystopian genre, so I won’t be calling myself an expert or anything J

I enjoyed Matched. Cassia isn’t annoying, and that is a big attribute in books that essentially revolve around teenage hormones. Dangerous things. All the characters come across as if they are on Prozac, which is probably spot on because their Society controls them through pills. Cassia’s attraction to Xander and Ky is very PG 13 and seems insincere most of the time.

The biggest flaw in Matched is its slow pace and that it takes forever for anything to happen, and even when there is finally some movement, nothing is as clear as clear as it should be. I still don’t have a clue about the Society and how they properly controls their citizens – that at least could have been nicely written out somewhere in the middle of the first book.

Other than that, the book is okay and mildly interesting. It is much better than Beautiful Creatures, one of the only books on earth that I flat out hate. I see they are planning to do a movie with this, and if adapted properly and more developed, it will be an interesting watch.

PS: I don’t know what these kids are complaining about in Dystopian novels all the time. Cassia gets 1) a perfect partner 2) her food gets made for her 3) she gets to do the work she is the best at 4) she doesn’t have to make decisions. As a grown-up I really can’t see the problems here

Movie Review: What We Do in The Shadows (2014)

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Plot: Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane – like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts.

Rating: 8.5/10

Things I do in watching comedies: sarcastically snort, fondly smile or gallantly chuckle. I never LOL in them (I doubt people laugh out loud as often as the use that abbreviation, but that is another post for another day). My point is: comedies have become too formulaic with humor that they are rarely truly hilarious anymore.

I laughed out loud watching What We do In the Shadows. It is politically incorrect: Vampire Nazis, Vlad the Poker and Viego’s love for Katherine are some of the funniest things I experienced in here. It mocks the hell out of Twilight and I’m pretty sure True Blood with the vampires floating in the air. The New-Zealand accents exacerbate and the fact that we are dealing with vampires, in New Zealand, makes it just funnier. Everyone’s love for Stu but bare tolerance for Nick, swearwolves everywhere and the whole perfection of Vladislav, Viago and Deacon kept me entertained for the hour and a half it ran for. I loved the whole mockumentary style of the movie and how well that told the story.

Some favorite scenes:

Vlad, my favorite vampire of all time:

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Probably my second favorite scene and one of the greatest laughs in the movie:wearwolves not swearwolves

This one is for Zoë:

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And then this: The funnest and craziest phrasing I’ve ever come across… LOL!!sandwich

What We Do In The Shadows is unique, hilarious and worth a try. You will hopefully shake with laughter. Definitely recommended!

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Movie Review: Me, Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

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Plot: High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

Rating: 7.5/10

In hindsight it might not have been the best idea to watch a movie about cancer when I just lost someone to cancer. If you want your opinions to change about cancer movies, see someone die because of it. In hindsight, that is such a stupid statement, but you know what I mean.

Movies involving cancer are most often idealistic and I don’t blame the producers for it. It is a very hard topic and by injecting some optimism here and there it can bring some happiness back into the world – for people who haven’t survived it / haven’t seen what the disease does.

Me earl and the dying girl EARL

Me, Earl and the Dying girl is the best it is going to get without killing everyone’s happiness. I have great love for Sundance and this movie is so typical Sundance – relatively low budget, quite quirky and good enough to watch. The dialogue is very fast and hilarious. Greg Gaines (fantastic performance here by Thomas Mann) is a unique and entertaining character. It is easy to miss that this child obviously suffers from a crippling self-loathing and probably has a ton of social anxiety as well because he is intelligent and does not hide in his room – dangerous qualities in any teenager with problems. Greg’s friendship with Earl (RJ Cyler) is endearing, and Earl’s spot on assessment of Greg’s personality just shows that they will be friends forever.

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Oliva Cooke is Rachel, the leukemia patient. She is talented and memorable (I just had to substitute rememberable for memorable, because it is actually a real word). She did a good job with playing a cancer patient – it can’t be easy, and some of the things the character says will stay with me for a long time.

Nick Offerman plays Greg’s father, and it was nice to see him in something. Albeit strange, his character isn’t just another Ron Swanson knock-off, so it was good to see him be another character.

Jon Benrthal as Mr. McCartney is a character I really liked. Can we just get more of these teachers in school, please? Mr. McCartney wasn’t overbearing and he supplemented the story quite well.

I think the quirk and the originality of the film carries a lot of weight. It does well in addressing the genre, it isn’t this romantic film that is total bull. I enjoyed it, more than I thought I would, because it is funny and sad and has a lot of truth in it. Definitely recommended.

PS: Total LOLZ for the Hugh Jackman voice over. Was great.

Book Review: Captivated Nora Roberts)

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Plot: Nash Kirkland doesn’t believe in magic. But when he hires self-proclaimed witch Morgana Donovan as a great ‘resource’ for his new supernatural film, he suddenly finds himself falling under her spell. Nash has never trusted his feelings, but the alluring Morgana has released an irresistible passion in the usually cool-headed screenwriter. The question is – are those feelings real, or are they just some conjurer’s trick?

Morgana has her own doubts – despite her strong feelings for Nash. She can understand his skepticism about her powers. But can an ordinary man really handle falling in love with a rather extraordinary woman?

Rating: 5.5/10

Even though I read Captivated last, it is a miracle that I did so. I would never have progressed to Charmed, Enchanted or Entranced if I had started with the first in the series.

Captivated had absolutely no charm and bored me. I was so excited to get to the only remaining book in the series because even though they were cheesy, the previous three had worked quite well.

Nash Kirkland and his infatuation/disbelief with Morgana got boring quickly. It always irritates me when they bring the”did she cast a spell on me” route in ANY book, let alone one where witches are involved. Guys, it is mostly just your glands talking, I really doubt she bewitched you – who has time nowadays for bewitching?

I wish I enjoyed it more – the story spun out for ages and when it ended with the incessantly used story line of a baby and a happy ending, I gave up – absolutely no redeeming powers for the book. Meh.

Movie Review: The Martian (2015)

The martian Poster2Plot:During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive

Rating: 10/10

I have never, for any movie, given a full score on this blog. It stems from my grade four days where the teacher believed that nothing deserved a perfect score because then there wasn’t room for improvement (Such a cheerful woman).

Well, Mrs. Van den Berg, The Martian is perfect so I’m giving it 10/10. I can’t think of anything that annoyed me or should have been done in another way. The Martian is both a cinematic masterpiece and a feel good movie, which, as we know, is impossible to pull off.

Don’t be mistaken, you are going to sit and watch the Martian for a long time – it is very close to three hours. However, I did not even care about the time passing. Any shorter would have rushed the whole movie and it would not have been so good. Ridley Scott is in top form and I hope he stays that way. The pace of the movie is tightly controlled and he worked the cast to perform their best.

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I will question the sanity of the Academy if Matt Damon does not get an Oscar. The film also deserves the Oscar for best film. Mark Watney is perfectly written. He manages to be on Mars, stranded, dying, but still find a way to keep himself alive. He has made me more determined to pass Botany, because that shit saves lives. His humor and determination to solve problems, and the sad way he keeps himself sane and only loses it a handful of times makes him one of my favorite characters to ever be written.

 jessica-chastain-as-commander-lewis-THE-MARTIAN

I will start the discussion of support characters with Melissa Lewis, played by Jessica Chastain. Jessica Chastain is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses. She carefully picks her roles so she doesn’t end up with mediocre movies; she is phenomenally talented as an actress and is incredibly beautiful. Melissa Lewis made an amazing woman and commander, the way she managed her team and how she went about it. It makes me really optimistic that there were so many strong female character roles in The Martian – it is uplifting and not one of them were typecast or silly or dumbed down at the end.

 Martian crew

Continuing onto the crew, I thought that Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Pena and Aksel Hennie all did superb work as the other astronauts in the Ares III. They all had their independent roles and personalities and weren’t only there as seat fillers. I especially liked Alex Vogel’s (Aksel Hennie) love and commitment to his family. I found the smidge of romance injected into two of the character’s story really sweet and perfectly placed – it was only a very small part of the story.

Then the crew on earth had Sean Bean in, whose notable performance can be further celebrated by the fact that he did not die. It’s true, I’m not lying. They even injected a Lord of The Rings reference into one of his scenes, and I enjoyed that thoroughly. I really liked his character Mitch Henderson – Sean Bean can really pull of the quietly-dignified-but-still-disapproving look so well.

The martian eart

I can keep on discussing further performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor, MacKenzie Davis and Donald Glover but I won’t as this is getting to a rather long review. However, I will briefly mention Kristen Wiig, who impressed me by not being another comedic role and who did a wonderful job as the NASA spokesperson.

The humor that was part of the movie was perfectly written in and beautifully portrayed. The many uses of ductape was probably a favorite of mine – it is everywhere in the film. The adoration for coffee was another favorite as well as the exasperation you saw on so many employees’ faces when they were told to get a job done faster than what made sense.

The camaraderie between the astronauts was hilarious and touching. It seemed as if they were real coworkers and their banter was endearing.

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There are a lot of things I want to keep on mentioning – I never want to forget how much I enjoyed this film the first time I saw it. Its success lies in being so human – Mark Watney does nothing that makes you pity him, but his lonely fate on Mars is heartbreaking to behold. His crew’s anguish in leaving him behind and how the citizens on the planet band together to bring him back home was a glimpse of the good side of humanity. NASA seems to be fangirling about the Martian as much as we are, and that makes it even more fun. I can’t help but think The Martian coinciding with the discovery that there is water on Mars isn’t a PR dream for them right now.

We probably can’t be friends if you dislike this movie. I am sorry. Go watch it, go like it, and come talk to me.