December 2016: Watched, Read, Loved

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Happy 2017 everyone! I pretty much disappeared from the blog in December. I needed a break. I often am way too harsh on myself about blogging – wanting desperately to post five times a week. It is important to remind myself though that blogging is supposed to be fun and for times where I actually have the time. So I gave it a bit of a break and I am back feeling all refreshed!

It was also quite a sad December globally with the deaths of George Michael and Carrie Fisher. It seemed like 2016 kept knocking everyone down and I am really glad it ended. Let’s hope for a peaceful and fantastic 2017.

Series Watched:

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Vampire Diaries Season 5: I am currently stalling with this season. It is a pretty rotten season and by far the worst of all the seasons so far. I need to finish it up but definitely not feeling all the bullshit of the season.

Alias season 1 and 2: EEK! I am having so much fun! It is so much fun! I can’t wait to review this.

Movies Watched:

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Rogue One: A Star Wars movie. It was good, great excitement and all. I did like The Force Awakens better though.

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Memento: This was my second last blindspot for 2016. It is mind tingling and interesting, well directed and acted. Definitely worthy of watching, despite me taking ages to get it done!

Annie: I put this on for my mother to watch. It was okay – very singy and full of children but not overly offensive. It’s definitely a film that parents can watch with their children without wanting to cry because it is so boring.

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Twilight: I had such a weak moment! Want to review them all at some stage again.

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Scream 1, 2 and 3: this was so much fun. I’m planning to do the fourth one soon. Great entertainment!

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A Nightmare on Elm Street: Same here. I am having way too much fun with these old school thrillers.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:  second time watching this and I loved it way too much.

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The DUFF: I am racking up the watches on this film. I showed it to my mom and my bestie on separate occasions and they both really enjoyed it. Why so much hate against this film? I know it is completely different from the book, but the additions worked really well.

The Departed: The Departed is a film my bestie has told me to watch or be disowned. So I watched it with her just to make sure she had the evidence and everything 😀 did I like it? Yeah. Excellent performances and directing all around. I got a bit exhausted with the length of it, and that is about the only thing I didn’t like.

Me Before You (2016): after reading the thought provoking book I was quite amped for the film. I pushed it back when the reviews didn’t garner the most promising reviews I pushed it back. Bestie and I watched it on our visit, and it was okay. Not really bad, but Me Before You doesn’t carry as much emotional baggage as the book does.

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Cruel Intentions: What a deranged film. I enjoyed it, but wow, deranged. Not something to watch with your parents, if you weren’t already aware.

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Ocean’s Eleven:  I really liked this! Heist films done right is a treat for the soul man. Clooney and Pitt together? There can’t be a better idea out there.

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Seven:  I got to see a young Brad Pitt as the excitable and young cop and Morgan Freeman as the intelligent, calm cop. It’s quite dark and deals with a demented serial killer. It had a dark and depressing atmosphere.

Books Read:

Dawson’s Creek – this is a compilation of short stories based on the series. I’d love to watch the series at some stage, but the book isn’t worth reviewing.

The Collaborator – Margaret Leroy – I can’t wait to post this! I really loved the book, and was so unhappy when I finished it.

The Martian – Andy Weir. The Martian was my favorite film of 2015, and I really wanted to get my hands on the novel. However, I’m struggling at this stage to get through it as it contains some unnecessary jargon in my opinion.

What were you up to in December? Tell me!

Movie Review: Passengers (2017) – CONTAINS SPOILERS –

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Plot: A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.

Rating: 6.5/10

– CONTAINS SPOILERS –

When a movie gets trashed second after it was released, it is safe to assume that it is either:

  • The movie is legitimately a terrible film
  • The movie didn’t live up to its’ expectations and delivered something else
  • The critics hated the film because of some petty reason

Passengers is somewhere between two and three. The film’s last hour and half (perhaps more than that) is a romantic drama film set in space. I’m sure that upset a number of people who might have expected a Sci-Fi film. I also think the hate train might have been loaded to capacity with people reacting unnecessarily harsh to a moderately decent film because everyone was doing so.

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The majority of the film is spent exploring Jim Preston and Aurora Lane’s horrified realization that they woke up on their spaceship way too early to reach their destination, Homestead II – 90 years too early. Aurora suffers another setback when she’s made aware by the barman-robot Arthur (Michael Sheen) that Jim (Chris Pratt) deliberately woke her up and that her pod didn’t malfunction. She’s understandably very upset with this death sentence but is forced to put it aside when the ship starts acting erratically and it becomes clear that no one on the ship will arrive at Homestead II if they don’t find the source of the problem. Captain Gus Mancuso (Laurence Fishburn) wakes up in time to conveniently steer Jim and Aurora in the right direction.

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I enjoyed the scarcity of people in Passengers. Chris Pratt and his female equivalent Jennifer Lawrence make a charismatic team. Pratt is able to accurately portray the loneliness of Jim’s life in the year before he wakes Aurora up. Aurora (Lawrence) is different in nature than Jim. She’s a writer and immediately begins to report her life on the ship. She initially refuses to believe their fate and is forced to accept eventually that Jim is speaking the truth. Michael Sheen is able to be a convincing robot, keeping his facial expressions carefully contained. Fishburn is the last character that enters the film was a good captain if you are able to look past the fact that it is amazing that the captain woke up and not someone else. The film is scarcely populated and it works well.

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The film also looks really good. That spaceship was something to behold inside and out. It looks modern and is one of the films that bring spaceships to the new century. The swimming pool was mind boggling – I wouldn’t go close to that mass of water that is kept in its’ place by such fragile means. The robots on the ships look great – and a dash of cuteness is mixed into the plot with the housekeeping robots.

What didn’t work? Well, the holes in the plot is bigger than the holes in the spaceship. Are these two really choosing to live on that ship for the remainder of their lives with only the other as company? How will they prevent children? What about the finite amount of food on the ship? Are they dooming their fellow passengers to a journey without food? How did the asteroid not immediately destroy the ship? It is extremely convenient that the fire started becoming unmanageable when they found it? Speaking of extreme convenience, how about the third passenger that woke up is able to access secure locations?

Despite the numerous unanswered questions, of which I’m sure many other bloggers can add more to, I actually ended up enjoying Passengers. I think that the leads were compatible. Jim can be forgiven his selfishness by considering his loneliness. Their heroic antics are heart warming, especially for the following passengers. If you keep your eyes closed and ignore all the questions, I’m sure you will enjoy Passengers too. But what I will end this review with one more question – Why did they change the ship into a swamp at the end?

Blindspot 2016: To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

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Plot: Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice.

Rating: 9/10

YESSSSSS. Guess who is finally done with their 2016 Blindspot list?! MEEE! It hasn’t been easy. 2016 was such a busy, annoying year and I had some really heavy movies on my list. I was lagging behind all the time. It’s bad! Anyway, I finished this one up last night, and patted myself on the back.

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To Kill A Mockingbird was so good. I loved Atticus Finch (I guess everyone does) and Gregory Peck was so good in the role. The character is kind and wise and ahead of his time. I appreciated that he stood by his morals even when it would have been a lot easier than just to punch someone. The children were surprisingly non-grating and their games reminded me of an Enid Blyton book. They were sweet and adventurous. Scout was so amusing with her tomboy ways and love for fighting. Her brother was a young miniature of their father – admirable when Atticus Finch is your father. The kid actors were also all very good – that is so rare these days.

TKAMB also deals with material that could only have been considered extremely risqué in the time the book was published as well as the movie. It is now so clear to me why the book was banned. An innocent black man? That must have boggled everyone’s minds back then!

It always amazes me that black and white films manage to show so much more than color films, being able to draw attention the smallest aspects of the shot. To Kill A Mockingbird is surprisingly easy to follow despite many events occurring at the same time, which in itself speaks legions about how well the film was written and directed.

I really liked this film – it’s not upbeat and it’s not depressing. It manages to show both the best side of humanity and the worst side of humanity all in one go, and makes you think a bit about on which side you really are. I only have one request – that they NEVER remake this film.

PS: Robert Duvall is Boo Radley?!?!

Movie Review: Star Wars: Rogue One (2016) – NO SPOILERS –

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Plot: The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

Rating: 7/10

I actually don’t have an awful lot to say about this. Can I say I really liked that I was in a cinema full of fanboys, and while the excitement was palpable they quieted down and watched the film without any raucous noise? Definite plus! It was also the first time I visited The Mall of Africa – I’d been dodging it since it opened because the people went there in droves and if you know me you know I don’t like the droves. Despite the heavy traffic getting in, that Mall is gorgeous and I’m definitely returning after the festive season to just walk around and get a feel of the place.

What was good about Rogue One? The cast. Mads Mikkelson definitely deserves a mention. He’s been on the circuit for a bit and is slowly making the transgression into mainstream films, something he’s dipped his toe into a few times but has traveled under the radar mostly. I might not have gone super fangirl about him in Dr. Strange, but I really do like the man and his role in Rogue One worked very well for him.

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Someone really rich at Disney had the idea to put Felicity Jones and Diego Luna together on screen as Jyn Erso and Captain Cassian Andor. It Felicity Jones certainly carries the look of all the Star Wars girls – pretty and pure and innocent. It must be what the fan boys like, because there is definitely a similarity between her, Portman and Rey. I did like her however. Jones’ is a great actress and any role where the female is sharp, smart, loyal and brave is worth watching. I enjoyed Diego Luna after a bit. He got into his role eventually and became comfortable onscreen. He shares undeniable chemistry with Felicity Jones, which made the duo a great success.

The look. No doubt about it, the technology is now what Lucas always wished it would be. The different worlds are so unique it is quite mind blowing believing that this is truly a brain child of one man – such a visionary. The film looks great – typical Star Wars.

The humor was light and carefully woven into the story so that it didn’t drown it out. Most quips are given by Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) – the blind man with an uncanny ability to see around him. I liked Chirrut quite a lot, he had funny moments and was all around cool. (I can say that for pretty much everyone in this film).

What didn’t I liked? I feel that it lacked some heart and felt a bit forced. The world doesn’t need a Star Wars movie every single year, they just need really good ones every couple of years. I was a major fan of the Star Wars one last year, and still feel that it is the better film of the two. There are two things I thought could have been done a tad differently – that ending (won’t mention because it is truly a massive spoler) and the fact that the film went completely Constantine – sorry for the comparison – and despite the heavy chemistry and cute moments not one kissing scene. This definitely isn’t a romance film and I’m not wanting it to be one, but can I just say that it wouldn’t have hurt this film.

Anyway. I wasn’t blown over and I enjoyed The Force Awakens much more. It isn’t a bad film, and my fanboy brother-in-law and his friends really loved it, so I guess that says something. This is probably one of the last films |I will see in cinema for 2016, and it really wasn’t a bad way to bow out!

Movies 2016: Worst to Best

The year 2016 will be known for a number of things – an inordinate amount of celebrity deaths and an equally inordinate amount of lackluster movies. Are these two correlated? I’m not convinced its’ not. Anyway, here is my list of movies I watched this year that was released in 2016. It’s not been a good one.

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Number 19: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice 6/10

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Number 18: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them 6/10

Number 17: Before You 6/10

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Number 16: The Choice 6.5/10

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Number 15: How to be single 6.5/10

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Number 14: The 5th Wave 7/10

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Number 13: SUICIDE SQUAD 7/10

Number 12: Rogue One: 7/10

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Number 11: The Huntsman: Winter’s War 7/10

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Number 10: Legend of Tarzan 7.5/10

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Number 9: Finding Dory 7.5/10

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Number 8: Captain America: Civil War: 7.5/10

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Number 7: Zootopia 8/10

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Number 6: The Jungle Book 8/10

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Number 5: 10 Cloverfield lane 8/10

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Number 4: Dr. Strange 8/10

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Number 3: Deadpool (8/10)

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Number 2: Bridget Jones’ Baby: 8.5/10

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Number 1: Pride and Prejudice vs. Zombies 8.5/10

Blindspot 2016: Memento (2000)

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Plot: A man juggles searching for his wife’s murderer and keeping his short-term memory loss from being an obstacle.

Rating: 8.5/10

The entire point of Blindspot is to see things that we were supposed to have seen ages ago but obviously never did for a number of reasons, most notably laziness in my case. Memento is definitely one of these films, and after watching it I am so happy that 1) I finally got to it and 2) somehow avoided spoilers all this time.

Directed by one of the craftiest and most intelligent filmmakers of our time, Memento is some of Christopher Nolan’s finest work. And it should be clear that nearly all of his work is fine – Prestige was on my Blindspot in 2015, I loved Interstellar, Inception blew my mind on a level that I still haven’t written a review for it. Those Batman movies? Dark and heavy and undeniably brilliant. Memento is some of his earlier work, and definitely some of the best that he’s ever embarked on. The directing is excellent, naturally – the black and white and color alternating between past and present. GENIUS.

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Guy Pearce plays Leonard, a man with short term memory loss. That alone fascinated me from a medical viewpoint.  Memories and retention of them are so fascinating and complex and the Nolan brothers managed to bring Leonard to life in a way that gives insight to the complexity of his problem. Leonard is highly organized and tackles his memory loss by notes and tattoos. I kept hoping he had some form of a tattoo on his back that would resolve a lot of his problems. Alas, he didn’t, but his tattoos on the front of his body were highly informative and disturbing. Pearce also gives the performance of his career in my opinion – tightly controlled and methodical, this role would have been a disaster in a less accomplished actor’s hands.

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The other characters are all a bunch of shady fellows you can never quite pin down – are they bad, are they misusing our guy, what exactly is going down. Assistance is provided due to the movie moving backwards – Leonard never knows what he did yesterday, but at least we do. It quickly becomes apparent that Natalie (Carrie Ann Moss) isn’t what she pretends to be to Leonard, and it is very very easy to quickly learn to hate her. I STILL have no idea whether Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) is a villain or what. He’s most certainly not a good guy and is one of the best grey characters in the story.

The directing is unique and brilliant – stark black and white alternating between current events that are depicted in color – I have to admit I only noticed that part afterwards reading up about it – it is quickly clear that the movie is moving backwards in a way, but the clear difference isn’t something I immediately picked up on. I’ll definitely have to see this again at some stage.

So that is basically it for my second last Blindspot of 2016. I kicked against watching it, but in the end I was so entertained that it will definitely make one of my favorites of this year.