Watched, Read Loved and what I’ve been up to in 2018

Hello everybody! I’ve been rather inconspicuous the last few months, and I’ve really missed blogging and interacting with everyone in the blogging world. I’ve posted a few times, and thanks to everyone that still popped in – you are appreciated! I’m almost ready in having a normalized life again, so I plan to be a bit more active with reading and posting about how I’ve managed to entertain myself since December 2017.

Firstly, I started my new position in the company I work for. It’s been quite a change, and I’ve been struggling to adapt to this new life of crazy deadlines and people with serious lack of work ethic. I’m almost motivated again, and I’m not blind to how extraordinarily lucky I’ve been to get to a point where my qualification and my job are actually aligned.

I’ve also graduated, and the event was… anticlimactic? I’ve worked my butt off to get here, and yet the day felt rushed and the moment passed too quick. However, my BSc is now in the bag and I can continue with this crazy career path of mine.

I am also finally in my own apartment. I hope someday soon it will actually feel like I live here, but for now I am just enjoying the experience and getting used to having my own place.

So yes. This year has been really big so far. We are only at the end of August now and I have been all over the place. It is good, right? To be honest it is all just a bit overwhelming.

This post has basically said nothing that I originally thought to write on it, but here’s a rundown of the films (it’s probably not all, because it has been so long), books and series I’ve explored.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies – One movie night and three really dedicated people lead to all three Hobbit movies being watched, with a variety of sarcastic comments (mostly from me) about the length and things that happen that is entirely unrelated to the actual Hobbit book. I haven’t  had a look at the reviews about these films up here for ages, and it is probably time to revisit them. They aren’t bad, but compared to The Lord of The Rings trilogy (incidentally never reviewed on here because I don’t know how to review perfection like that), they are a bit uninspiring.

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Edward Scissorhands (1990): A pretty cool film and very deserving of its reputation, I enjoyed seeing Johnny Depp in something pre-Jack Sparrow. This is some of Tim Burton’s best work and really great to watch.

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The Duff (2015): Yes, again. It’s great to watch and such a nice laugh, I can’t understand why this film received such a negative backlash at the time. It’s certainly better than it’s hormonal book counterpart! This reminds me of a 2015 version of Mean Girls (although Mean Girls is certainly better), and on that note, I probably watched Mean Girls sometime this year too, as well as Easy A, a simply hilarious staple for chick flicks.

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Pride and Prejudice (2005): Yes, also again. I can watch this all the time, and this rerun was triggered by reading the book again.

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Vampire Academy (2015) Okay this one does deserve the hate that gets thrown its way, but it is a guilty pleasure of mine.

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Jane Eyre (2011): I loooooovvveeeedddd this. It is a wonderfully accurate adaption to the book, and another film I’ll probably end up watching ten million times.

Ant-Man (2015): I somehow kept postponing this film, and it is so stupid because you all know how much I like watching Marvel superheroes do their thing. Eventually Ant-Man turned out really fun and is a great film, and I will actually manage to see the second one before the turn of the century.

Nacho Libre (2006) and Napoleon Dynamite (2004). I can at least claimed to have heard about Napoleon Dynamite prior to my watching it. The spectacularly ginger teenager Napoleon is really a staple image in everyone’s recollection of the internet, occupying his own, very unique space. It was really quite a weird film and I am not sure what else to say about it. Nacho Libre is also… really weird. Jack Black has some strange titles under his belt, and this might bee the strangest yet.

Jumanji (2017) – Jumanji deserves an actual review, not necessarily because of it’s cinematic prowess but because of my eternal love for Dwayne Johnson. This film was surprisingly good, and included another viewing of Jack Black, who was actually quite fantastic in this film.

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Fallen (2016) – Got in my YA dose with this, and I am not sorry for a second. Is it bad? yes. Do I care? No. I had fun.

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About a Boy (2002) – one of the better random films I picked up to watch the last couple of months. Review coming soon

Tomorrowland (2014), Freaky Friday (2003) and Did you hear about the Morgans? (2009) – neither of these deserves posters on this post. Tomorrowland is getting a thrashing in it’s review (when I end up writing it), because what a load of turd. Freaky Friday is fun, but it also serves as a really sad reminder of how someone can screw themselves up so badly. The last, Did you hear about the Morgans, is neither inspirational, funny or adventurous, and is some of the poorest films in it’s genre.

 

Blindspots: I’m behind (which is a shocking surprise, I know)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Ghostbusters (1984), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  (2005), Die Hard (1988)

2018 releases:

Avengers: Infinity War Tomb Raider Black PantherThe Maze Runner: Death CureThe Greatest Showman, Jurassic World (Fallen Kingdom), Deadpool 2

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The Obsession (Nora Roberts)Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), Harry Potter (series), The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams), How To Hang A Witch (Adriana Mather), Shelter in Place (Nora Roberts, ongoing), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

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I am really bad at finishing series. I will start off with great enthusiasm, but I never have the patience to get through the lull that inevitably strikes every show about halfway through when the original cast wants to leave and the writers are tired of finding something interesting to keep the watchers entertained. I was recommended to watch Call The Midwife Seasons 1&2 because of my love for Downton Abbey. It’s good, and I enjoy the show. I should continue into Season 3 soon and continue with my knowledge of female reproductive health when women had even less rights than we do now.

Friends Season 1-7: A series I actually finished! I loved this show. It is hilarious, and even though there are some lulls it stays funny, sweet and relatable.

Brooklyn Nine Nine Season 1 – this is a hilarious comedy and I will definitely watch some more. I was a bit crushed when they announced the series was coming to an end, but I see that there will be a final season of Jack Peralta and his fellow officers. Yay!

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Riverdale Season 1&2 – I have a review coming in shortly for season 2, and I really like this show despite the lack of quality the last part of season 2 had.

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Grey’s Anatomy Seasons 1 – 7: As I am finalizing this post I come to you from a space where I have now banned myself watching this show during the week. There are a couple of reasons why – the lack of will to live if I am not watching it, the extreme emotional attachment to the characters and the stern talking to I had with myself that they are not real and that I can’t stop watching at night and then I am exhausted the following day (really, I need a boyfriend or a life at this stage). I couldn’t have expected this show would be so good. I mean, at seven seasons I am only halfway through the series, because the show remains super popular and it is now at it’s fifteenth (?!) season. It is heartbreaking and intense and happy and sad, and I.AM.ADDICTED.

Pride and Prejudice (1995): I am telling all of you, I know I have an unhealthy attachment to this story. The series is by far the most accurate to the book, and it is a lovely adaption that makes me really happy to watch.

So, there you have it. I have been writing on and off on this post for ages, so it is so good to have it finally out there! Let me know what you’ve seen, whether or not it has correlated with my watches. Adios!

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Book Review: City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)

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Plot: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know… 

My sister was campaigning that I  read this, hands wildly thrown in the air, that it was good and I needed to read this (you get the idea). I needed a healthy break from Grey’s Anatomy (seriously too attached), so it was a great time to pick up a new book series.

I think we all know these YA books are such hits with their population group because it tells the story of a teen who realizes that she really is different, and that it isn’t just her wildly out of control hormones making her feel excluded. I happen to still like them – they are fun and campy and you can use them as “filler” books between more serious reads.

City of Bones is a good example of this. Clary is likable, Jace is a good love interest. Jace has an attitude as big as the Great Wall of China so that makes him an entertaining character even when you want to punch him, which is quite often. There is a regrettable love triangle going on between Clary’s best friend Simon, Clary and Jace, and that is really typical and not too unexpected, but I still an arc like this as I consider it lazy writing. Imagine a series where two characters are completely into each other and a third doesn’t have to get hurt? For all Tris’ many mistakes, she and Four in the Divergent series never deviate from each other. But it does play into the dreamworld of a teen girl who wishes that not only one, but two, really handsome guys can pine after her

Simon is also a pretty cool only-human character (there needs to be one in every YA book). He is sweet and it is annoying that he lost his superior position in Clary’s life just because she realized her true identity. I hope he is around throughout the series. He’s a funny guy.

So if you’ve read the book you will know there is a major plot twist at the end. It made me furious furious furious (probably as intended). I hope some magic happens and it un-plots itself because I just can’t deal with this.

The book felt about a hundred pages too long. Gosh, the ending is just too drawn out and the author could have kept a few paragraphs off the book and still have gotten to the end like she did.

So now that I have bitched about the bad things, I will tell you that this is easy and light reading. The lore is explained as the book continues and it is as imaginative as we can hope from a genre that has explored every single avenue repeatedly. There are demon hunters, werewolves, vampires, faeries and an entire underworld that hosts them. The focus is on the demon hunters, and how snobby and elite they can be. The villain is all around bad and unforgiving, and not unlike Hitler in his beliefs. He is mad and determined and not even remotely afraid in taking out the people that needs to be taken out in order for him to succeed.

The main protagonist Clary is determined and can deal – she isn’t needy or silly or whiney, and she does her thing. I liked that about her, because too often female protagonists in their own story end up depending on every male available. Clary isn’t like that, and while she may be minuscule, she remains someone to be reckoned with.

If you like the genre, you will definitely like this. I will pick up the movie (even though it has terrible ratings), and maybe even the series – I see that got cancelled too – just to see whether their casting matches to my imagination

Have you read the series? No spoilers please!

Blindspot 2018: Die Hard (1988)

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Plot: John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

1988 was the year. My eldest sister was born and John McClane became became the hero of the Nakatomi Plaza attack when he took down Hans Gruber and his other German terrorists. So all in all, it was a good moment in history. Let’s also just take a moment to marvel at the fact at how the view of terrorism has changed,  as well as the nationalities of suspected terrorists.

I have been chewing on this a while – did I like it? Did I not? I really can’t tell for sure. I really like action movies, so it was a bit of a weird thing for me to not have seen Die Hard, considered by many to be 1) a Christmas movie and 2) one of the best action movies, like, ever. So, in the spirit of actually finishing up my Blindspot list this year, I sat down and got this done.

I have to confess that while I liked Die Hard just fine, I didn’t really love it. I felt disconnected from Bruce Willis being young and gung ho and ready to fight the bad guys. The dialogue is fantastic though, and John really is a smart mouth. I am sounding old again, but the dialogue in “today’s” movies just aren’t the same anymore.

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I’ve never seen Alan Rickman in a younger role. He has always been Severus Snape to me, (and now Marvin). It seems like a real shame and something I need to sort out – he is simply fantastic as Hans Gruber – controlled, brilliant, devious and a mastermind. If not for one rogue cop, this man would definitely have succeeded. Hans Gruber is a villain that you don’t get too often in action movies – he is not just a bad guy for shits and giggles, he is smart and has a plan and Alan Rickman acts convincingly as this ominous man.

There is also a bit of a buddy cop vibe going between John McClane and Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald Vel Johnson). Al is the first person to take John seriously and alert the cavalry that there is indeed a terrorist attack going down. Al gets a moment too at the very end to prove his bravery, and I can only hope he is in the next million films that were released in this franchise.

I also liked Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), but I have never really been able to sympathize with people who leave their cop-partners because of the workload (sure, infidelity or abuse, but he is busy protecting everyone). Despite her choice to leave John, she is given good dialogue and is not so afraid of the terrorists that she can advocate rights for her fellow hostages.

I’m giving this a 7/10 because it was good, not particularly great, but a decent watch that didn’t require too much brain power and a decent film to have noted as “watched”.

 

Movie Review: Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man

Plot: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Ant Man is really the only Marvel film I haven’t specifically gone to see in cinema in the last five years. I finally sat down to watch it a while ago, and it halfway confirmed my suspicion that a movie about a superhero the size of an ant would be silly, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t end up enjoying myself quite a lot.

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Anyone who has ever seen Clueless will tell you that Paul Rudd is the most adorable person to have ever person’d (not a word, but going with it). He also hasn’t aged in the 23 years since Clueless and looks exactly the same, adorable person he was back then (although with a lack of photographic evidence I can’t really comment on whether he was as ripped back then). He takes on a big role and sort of becomes an Avenger as Scott Lang, an engineer who has some bad taste in friends, and is recruited for a big role when he steps out of prison.

Joining the Ant Man cast is Evangeline Lilly, as Hope, the daughter of inventor-technology-extraordinaire Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Hope is smart and successful and plays a double agent between her father and the rapidly mentally deteriorating ex-protégée of Hank and current evil person and CEO of Hank’s brainchild company Pym Technologies, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). She’s also love interest of Scott Lang, because plot reasons, and she’s also not allowed to put on the suit – initially I was like poor move Marvel, not allowing her to put on the suit because of her lady parts, but the movie does try to explain it as daddy has lost mommy this way and can’t lose his daughter this way too (I’m not convinced, but at least the sequel is titled “Ant-Man and the Wasp”, where Hope becomes the Wasp. Hope is great, looking amazing in her black suits and amazing hairstyle and kicking ass while being a central part of the plot. I also really enjoyed Michael Douglas, it is good seeing him look so well after his cancer diagnosis a few years back, and he adds gravity to the movie and manages to deliver some snide remarks and sarcastic comments while he’s at it.

One of the best things about Ant-Man is Michael Pena’s performance as Luis, Scott’s former cellmate and criminally-inclined-but-still-cool-person. Not really sure why Marvel would want to tap into the stereotype of Mexican criminals, but Pena manages to make his character a hit and especially hits it off with his amazing storytelling skills.

I also enjoyed seeing Judy Greer again, she’s great and as always after seeing her in something, I wish I could see her become a leading lady in a film. She’s been in Hollywood for ages and yet has never been the sole focus of a film, which is a shame in my opinion. I liked how she wasn’t portrayed as the villainous ex-wife of Scott, but rather a mother and an ex-partner who would be open to allowing more visitation rights to the seriously cute Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) once Scott sorts himself out.

I enjoyed Corey Stoll as the villain, but I really wish there were just a bit more depth to the backstory and more explanations why he lost the plot quite so badly and turned from protégée to “I want to kill everyone” type of person. He quickly becomes the madman, and I don’t always understand why.

I also suffered some confusion, and would advise people to watch Marvel films in the order they come out in, because I got the events quite mixed up in my head at a stage.

Ant-Man had a lot of good things going for it, and it is as warm hearted as a Marvel superhero movie can and will get. I missed out on Ant-Man and The Wasp in cinema (cry cry cry) but will definitely watch it when I can. I hope that Hope gets her chance to kick some ass and become part of Luis’ excellent storytelling skills.

Rating: 7.5/10

Movie Review: Fallen (2016)

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Plot: A young girl finds herself in a reform school after therapy since she was blamed for the death of a young boy. At the school she finds herself drawn to a fellow student, unaware that he is an angel, and has loved her for thousands of years.

Rotten Tomatoes gives Fallen a 7% rating. A really unfair 7% rating. Look, the movie starts with a type of introduction that was clearly stolen from the Lord of The Rings intro (I kid you not), complete with a Galadriel-esque voice over and mystique images. Then it proceeds to the teenage-on-earphones driving in scene so reminiscent from Twilight that I didn’t expect too much. All these movies hope to become the sleeper hit that the first Twilight film was, and they all copy at least one or two aspects of that film.

I wasn’t such a fan of the book Fallen when I read it a couple of years ago, but that had more to do with the writing style than the actual content. Also, are all schools for troubled youth beautiful old mansions or is this just Hollywood?

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Anyway, Fallen is a surprisingly okay film for the tired Young Adult genre that has seen more misses than hits the last few years. Fatal flaw or not, I have a weakness for these films and always end up getting a copy. They don’t have to be good for everybody for me to give it a chance. There are some scenes which are remarkably silly (angels fighting in clouds), but for the most part I was interested and wanted to keep watching. The chemistry between the three leads are great, and the support cast, notably Lola Kirk as Penn, provided enough color to the film to keep it going. She’s hilarious and did the whole nerdy girl perfectly. Also, the two male parts of the love triangle never gets any real animosity going between them.

I liked the story well enough – the angels who didn’t choose sides when Lucifer and God split were sentenced to earth, and that is where one angel (hint, he’s a handsome blonde teenager), fell in-love with a teenage girl (hint, she’s a beautiful brunette), and as a result, this angel damned all the remaining angels, both good and bad, to a lifetime on earth. They are generically white, light angels versus heavy eyeliner dark makeup so that we can definitely know who is on whose side. Naturally beautiful blonde angel guy is stuck pining for eternity, and every 17 years gets to fall in-love again as his true love meets him and dies as soon as they kiss. Pretty sad, I know. Luckily for us, Luce’s reincarnation this time is “different”, and they share a smooch only to discover that she’s not dying and there is hope for them this time around.

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The film has a satisfactory grungy look and tries hard to be hardcore. Since I am about as “hardcore” as a pink marshmallow, I was impressed with the scenes of a metal club (if you can overcome the fact that these troubled teens break out of their dormitory with loud bikes) and found it satisfactorily cool.

I might even pick up the books again to see if they are better this time around. It definitely wasn’t a bad way to spend an hour and thirty minutes, and I won’t scream loudly against picking it up again at some stage.

Rating: 6.5/10