Book Review: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

Jane Eyre

Plot: Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.

But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?

-Contains minor spoilers-

I have finally read and finished Jane Eyre. I had to mature, this I can now tell you with utmost certainty. I attempted a couple of years ago, and halfway through the book became overwhelming – the English is elaborate and for lack of a better word – floral – and the twists and turns of the novel was too much at that stage.

I enjoyed it very much this time around. The book has a dark tone, with intimacy I would not expect published back in the 1800’s (it wasn’t all Fifty Shades of Grey back then). The romantic suspense between Jane and her master builds and builds, until you want to smash them together.

There are some shocking moments in this book too – Jane’s treatment as a child is nothing sort of horrific. Her school years is a vast improvement over her aunt’s behavior towards her, but I felt the same helpless sympathy I felt when Harry was locked under a staircase in Privet Drive. Jane takes school and turns it into a life for her, and it is soon evident that she has overtaken all her relatives in integrity and ambition. Leaving the school, she starts working for the mysterious Mr. Rochester, and her love for him is pure, idolizing and intense, and nearly fatal when she flees him after hearing his dark secret.

The writing is incredibly elaborate and winding, and the dialogue is sharp and drawn out. There were a few times where I generally wondered the need for ten pages dedicated to one scene, the fact that it could have either been eliminated or just shortened was evident.

I was ready to burn this book to the ground nearing the end. I feared and feared Jane would end up marrying the extremely boring St. John, who, despite what Jane believes, struck me as a priggish, self righteous fanatic that would have murdered her spirit. Had this happened, I promise you now, I would have hunted every single copy of Jane Eyre and burned them all into crisps. Luckily, the novel avoided it’s untimely end by giving me exactly what I wanted. The book ends with sadness – Mr. Rochester injured and suffered a great loss, but their love is enough to carry them through.

This book made me sigh with happiness more than once. It appealed to me because Jane is firstly, a feminist. They did not coin that term so easily back then, but she is a smart, educated woman who takes her affairs into her own hands. She has no need to marry until she falls deeply in love with a complex man. Mr. Rochester’s love for Jane does not spring from her beauty or her charm, rather her smartness and capability and that they are so excellently suited for one another. In the end Jane meets him as his equal, and not some inferior caste who is dependent on him. For over two hundred years this is a love story that is more realistic than the garbage produced today.

My next step is to watch the latest adaption – I need to watch it NOW.

Rating: 8/10

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Movie Review: Black Panther (2018)

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Plot: T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

I remember sitting down to watch Wonder Woman last year – the nerves and anticipation and hope that a film about my kind finally being a superhero would be great. How fantastic was the notion that someone like me could change the world? How empowering it was! As I watched Diana Prince ignore male orders and march onto a battlefield because her heart dictated her to,  and I finally felt vindicated for having my own share of protectiveness towards those I hold dear.

And finally, in 2018, we have come to a place where black people can finally celebrate the same feat. Black Panther is fantastic. I am not black, but I am South-African, and sitting in the cinema with black people and feeling their joy with this film was uplifting and very emotional. T’Challa isn’t a sidekick, he isn’t the bad guy, he is a man of royal blood. He doesn’t have to find his riches, he is rich. Wakanda is, as some have rightly said, both a view of how Africa might have been without colonialism and a celebration of retaining your culture will thriving in a modern technological world. Black Panther does not skirt around issues, it faces it head on. Slavery and the destruction of a continent is frequently referenced, as well as the deeply moral question of why Wakanda did not intervene to help their neighbors when they had unlimited power to do so. Well, to me Wakanda had the correct intuition, and I can only wish the entire continent could have seen the danger and protected itself against pillaging.

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Chadwick Boseman is an exceptional Black Panther. T’Challa is a good mix of culture, regal blood, love, humor, wisdom, kindness and some fantastic fighting skills. He was born to be King, and his nature dictates him to be a kind and just one for his people. Other tribe leaders, especially W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya’s, in wonderful South-African traditional clothes), Mbaku (Winston Duke) have issues with some of his choices, and this especially creates discord between W’Kabi and T’Challa when T’Challa fails to bring Klaue (truly excellent Andy Serkis) to Wakanda to account for his crimes against the Wakandan people.

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Michael B. Jordan impressed me immensely. I haven’t seen too much from him, and I really did not know how excellent an actor he is. As Erik Stevens the warmonger and the thorn in T’Challa’s side, he is both heart breaking and terrifying. He would have been like T’Challa if a great crime hadn’t been committed against him, and his crimes are heinous enough to have you wince but his memories are painful enough to make you weep for him. He was a strong villain, perhaps one of the stronger ones in Marvel, and I really enjoyed him.

There is a lot of humor too, especially delivered by Shuri (Letitia Wight). The movie has genuinely funny moments and the audience was in stitches as it found its crowd. Even Mbaku has some funny moments, and his humor mixes surprisingly well with his warrior attitude.

It would be very unfair to not mention the outstanding female cast as well. Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira are fierce female warriors, sworn to protect Wakanda. They have great moments together, and their chase through South Korea is especially fine to watch. Shuri is a smart and sassy young woman, and she is a technological spearhead for Wakanda, highlighting the importance of girls in technology in style. Angela Basset as the Queen Mother is regal and beautiful, and her care for her children and nation are evident to see.

South Africa had a phenomenal week last week. The fall of the Gupta empire and Jacob Zuma, the rise of Cyril Ramaphosa and the first SONA in years that didn’t result in a screaming match made South-Africans happier than I’ve seen them in a decade. The optimism in the streets could only be even more enhanced by seeing South-African faces in this film, South-African traditional wear and Xhosa being used as the Wakandan language.

I was worried that Black Panther wouldn’t be good – I really wanted it to be, if only to prove to the butthead racists on the internet that inclusion is necessary and can yield as good results as the standard white washed, male domineered films we generally get. Black Panther is GREAT, and is an excellent start to the superhero year. The cast and director and Marvel should all be congratulated for their excellent work in this film – it is something to be proud of!

Rating: 8.5/10

Blindspot 2018: Ghostbusters (1984)

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Plot: Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service.

Whether you’ve seen it or not, you really know who to call. Ghostbusters (1987) is one of the most instantly recognizable films and soundtrack – like the Matrix, another Blindspot choice, you know of it whether you have seen the film or not.

Bill Murray is a surprisingly hunky (sorry) scientist, Venkmen. He is fired from his plush job at the university, and has an idea to start a business capturing supernatural creatures, and takes his equally fired colleagues Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) with. They officially become Ghostbusters, hunting down the alarmingly high number of supernatural creatures on the loose in New York City.

In fulfilling these activities, they attract the attention of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who has the really annoying supernatural phenomena of cooking eggs on her countertop and a demon named Zuul, who naturally won’t settle for anything less than destroying the world. The Ghostbusters set themselves on the task of saving said world, while procuring the affections of Dana for Peter.

A remake of this classic film was released in 2016, and man, there were a lot of angry men. I’ve been told that not all men were pigheaded in this regard, and with that I agree – some aren’t sexist prigs. However, I can see why they were so angry – the original Ghostbusters have some rather sexist attitudes – Peter Venkmen is rather persistent in Dana Barrett, even after her explicitly stating that she’s not all that interested. That type of humor was okay back in the 80’s, and I am sure a lot of men still subscribe to the nothing that even if a woman is clearly not interested, you should still harass her. But I digress. There is also the fact that all the heroes are men – and I do like a good hero – but I can see that some could feel threatened by it.

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Anyway, back to the actual film. It was fun, short and packed with adventure. The graphics aren’t half bad for the time, and it is truly fun to see Bill Murray in action. It’s not my favorite role of Sigourney Weaver (Alien forever), but she’s really good to watch as always. There were some great supernatural moments, and what I genuinely liked is that this movie manages to pass as a comedy rather than some thriller, because that would never have worked.

Ghostbusters is definitely not a bad way to start my Blindspot series, and I really hope the rest of the year’s films will be equally as fun.

Rating: 7.5/10

Movie Review: My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

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Plot:A young Greek woman falls in love with a non-Greek and struggles to get her family to accept him while she comes to terms with her heritage and cultural identity

As we head into February, it seems like it’s that time of the year again. I am a big fan of romantic comedies that doesn’t make you want to puke, and this certainly fits the bill. I watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding in June last year, and found it a really fun and sweet comedy that I will probably watch twenty times in the future again. The question is: why haven’t I ever seen this film?

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I LOVED it. It was the perfect pick me up when I watched it, and I have watched it once more already. It was so lovely. If you have a big, loud family, you will relate with all of Toula’s problems. I loved her dad and his Windex. I loved the mom and how she expertly handled dad who thought he was in charge of the house. I loved the sense of family from the women.  I loved how Ian Miller fell for and went after Toula, and how sweet and caring and understanding he was. Only a man with plenty of courage will go willingly marry in to that family! Aunt Voula was a delight, with her inappropriate comments and stories. The story about her dead twin made me laugh so hard. The film is a celebration of strange families and how we are stuck because you love them even when they embarrass you.  It is quick witted, sweet and caring. Toula’s wedding was hilarious – the level of makeup and tull and who knows what else they stuck on her was quite funny.

Definitely recommended as a delightful hilarity – it is also a quick watch so if you are like me and hate drawn out films, definitely consider this one!

Rating: 8.5/10

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Movie Review: The Maze Runner: Death Cure (2018)

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Plot: Young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as the “Flare”.

Contains minor spoilers

I have experienced a rather good start to the year with new releases. I am still not over the wonderful The Greatest Showman (2018), and I am still listening to its’ soundtrack every single day. I can’t wait to purchase the DVD and show it to everyone I know, so that they too can be as happy as I. It also provided a pitfall for The Death Cure – could anything impress me after I was so ridiculously happy?

Well, The Death Cure didn’t make me as happy (two tonally different films as there ever was), but it did entertain me. The opening sequence, the lead culprit in the massive time delay of the film when Dylan O’Brien was seriously injured on set, is exciting and intense. I also really appreciate a film where the main characters can actually shoot and is not just randomly shooting into thin air – all the actors can be applauded for holding a gun in a manner that shows they’ve had some training.

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The relationship between Thomas (O’Brien) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), is still as tight as ever. They are in this together, and the two actors themselves share a great chemistry on set. I like Newt, he’s such a sarcastic character full of pithy remarks. I still absolutely loathe Theresa – who doesn’t, and even her final attempts at redemption couldn’t convince me to find actual time for her. He doesn’t deserve Thomas or his compassion, and I completed related to my fellow movie goer when he passionately yelled “Can this bitch just die?!” in cinema – although good sir, do not refer to women as bitches, please.

I will perhaps always hate Aiden Gillen (perhaps unfairly). He also plays a devious bastard in The Death Cure, and this does not help him in terms of affection. He is able to play a weak man really well. He meets his fate in The Death Cure in a much more brutal and enjoyable fashion than in Game of Thrones.

The film has a solid progression, and although it did start to feel long I wasn’t terrible irritated by that. There was a stage at about halfway through the film where I wondered how on earth they were planning to wrap things up in the time they had left, but they managed.

Granted that I really didn’t like the second one (I am still not sure what went on there), this film turned out remarkably well. The Death Cure is not perfect – I felt that half of the female stars had no acting power, and they are, as always, very underrepresented. I always enjoy a dystopian setting that turns out to be some clinical trial drama – that is essentially what Divergent and The Maze Runner boils down to – what ethical values are governments willing to forsake of their people when faced with a massive viral disaster? This is my food man. However, it should be noted that the rights of a patient will never be compromised for the advancement of science, thank you very much.

Overall, The Death Cure did just fine as my second film for this year. That guy with the hollowed out cheeks and funky attitude was proper badass and had an epic moment or two. Eyebrows returning – he looks like he waxed his eyebrows, and I still think it must be a challenged to be permanently surprised. I’ve never read these books, so I can’t compare it to the source material, but as a dystopian film it works well and rounds of the series just fine.

Rating: 7/10