Watched, Read, Loved: June and July 2017

*warning: gargantuan post ahead*

I want to start every post now with “yes, it’s me, and I am still alive”. What a couple of months this has been! July has hands down just been the slowest month in everything for me. It was a roller coaster – I was away in Nelspruit end of June to bid my bestie goodbye, then for two weeks in Potchefstroom for university work and then I had to rush to finalize my younger sister’s 21st birthday. And when I looked down at the date it was suddenly the 19th of July and there were no blog posts from me! SHOCK, HORROR. So I am trying to move my blog into activity again, and herewith some of my favorite posts, a Watched, Read, Loved list for both June and July. I really hope to be back to full time blogging in August, I’ve really missed everyone and the feeling of having a creative outlet.

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I started off June by watching Wonder Woman (2017). I’m not really a weeper, but let me tell you I was misty eyed reading some of the truly excellent tributes that poured in. Little girls in costumes, women everywhere just flooding cinemas to watch a superhero films and all the financial and critical acclaim that accompanied this film just filled my heart. I can’t do any more justice to this excellent work of director Patty Jenkins that has already been done, but I assure you that I will always try.

Say Anything

I also saw Say Anything (1987) for the first time. I can now put a film to the iconic John Cusack pose that is everywhere on the internet, and I’m not really surprised that I enjoyed this film because it is right up my alley. It is a short, fun and easy watch and really good in its’ genre. I must post its review soon but a severe case of apathy towards typing out reviews has taken hold of me at this stage.

 

I also saw Rules Don’t Apply (2016) which has the unfortunate distinction of being one fantastic box office fail. It’s not really bad, it is just frustratingly boring. It could have been great with its excellent set design and costumes, solid acting and notable performances. It just lacked heart and a decent turn of events.

I picked up Mother’s Day (2016) to watch with my own mother, because I can promise you Gary Marshall won’t be putting too risqué sex scenes in any of his films. I was right – there is little to no romance. If you can get past the notion that Jennifer Aniston is supposed to be the old, washed out mom in here, you will likely enjoy it. Julia Roberts is hidden under the most horrible wig I have ever seen, but the film is sparingly okay and has some legitimately funny moments in. It also casts Jason Sudeikis, and I have never seen him in anything except this and that godawful We’re the Millers – can someone tell me why he’s famous?

I also watched Bad Moms (2016) which was rather fun and hilarious. I know, I was shocked too.

Then there was Jackie (2016), a movie that got an Oscar nod for Natalie Portman. While her performance certainly deserves a nod, the movie itself is quite slow and not really worth the hype.

On the Afrikaans movie front I watched Platteland again. It is such an intense musical, and as Afrikaans as can be. I really do have a fondness of locally produced movies, and my plan to branch a part of this blog off into local films will hopefully happen sometime.

Homecoming

Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) was a first of three July cinema watches for me. I really still struggle to formulate thoughts on this film. I sincerely didn’t hate it, but I have struggled to see the reason for Spiderman for years now, and this reboot even more so. Tom Holland is okay I guess. I particularly liked Zendaya. I think it is safe to say while I still have time for amazing and new superhero films (such as Wonder Woman), the generic Marvel film has become somewhat of a repetitive bore.

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I still cannot believe that I refreshed my makeup, made sure my outfit was okay and went out on a damn Friday night (this is torture for me) to watch Valerian and a City of a thousand planets. You will see that review hopefully Friday, but heads-up: I hated it.

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I also saw Dunkirk this last weekend and that at least was worth my time. Christopher Nolan is the salve to every hurt a bombastic Bay/Snyder movie throws out, and the beautiful, heart wrenching film hit me quite in the feels.

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Series:

Yes, I know. I need to tame this wild Pride and Prejudice obsession that has gotten over me. Not only did I see the 2005 film AGAIN – this is in addition to the watch I did in May of it, I also got my hands on the 1995 series version of it. I am a bit torn. I’ve read far and wide that it is the best adaption, and while it is certainly the most faithful adaption, I really hated the score – classical music makes me want to pull my hair out.

I finally started watching Alias season 4. It isn’t bad, still has plenty of Michael Vartan in, and I want to finish it before it somehow gets spoiled by the internet for me.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 6: Season five of this vampire-tastic show took me ages to finalize. It was slow, badly planned and really unimaginative in some places. I am glad to report that season six is wonderful – it is the first season with really legitimately funny moments in, and I am having a fantastic time.

Game of Thrones Season 7: This is still ongoing and I am avoiding people or comments like the plague who have watched it – the internet is the rudest place ever.

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On the reading front I haven’t been exactly revolutionary, but I have picked up Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon. I have never read anything by this author, and I am really enjoying it so far. It is fast paced plot and is well written with likeable characters. I didn’t think I would like a lawyery story, but it seems I was mistaken. I’ve hit a lag with it, and should really finish it up. I’ve slightly changed my opinion with the events that just loops all the time.

I have reread a bunch of Nora Roberts novels – Blue Smoke, The Obsession and some small ones which I really can’t recall the names of. I’ve also picked up Jewels of the Sun and Tears of the Moon, and I will review the entire trilogy once I am finished with the third book.

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I am also now reading Come Sundown – I did all the dance moves when I got a special on Loot (online shopping rocks) for this new release of Roberts. I always weep because I’m just not okay with forking out the prices retailers ask in South-Africa for new releases, so this was quite a score. I can tell you now that there is something different to Come Sundown. I will see how it ends, but it is one of the most unique books Roberts has ever done, and the tone is quite different from what she usually does.

I also should really get in to finalizing those 100 Happy Days post on here. They are just so much work and admin that I am not in the mood. I did finish the challenge, and you can few that all on my Instagram account.

As for adventures, I quickly went down to my bestie to see her one more time before she goes on her international adventure. The next time I see her will be in London, which at this stage is simply mind boggling to me.

Book Review: Come Sundown (Nora Roberts)

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Plot: The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose―and her mind has been shattered…

Come Sundown has a different tone than Nora Roberts book usually has. It firstly really had way less sex scenes (something that drives Zoë absolutely nuts) and the biggest pull for me was the fact that our heroine did not lose her personality the second she got some action. Bodine Longbow is pretty awesome. She runs the resort her seriously rich family owns. She’s a staple in her family, and they all rely on and trust her decisions. The “competent woman” had me cheering. Bodine is also written with a lot of warmth. She’s a generous and giving woman and her successes does not change her perception on the world or make her hard and cynical. I also liked Callen – he has heart, is not intimidated by money and is impressed rather than scared by Bodine’s straightforward and problem solving attitude. Then there is Alice, the other main character in this book. She broke my heart, and I’m sure everyone who have read this book will feel the same. What the character goes through remains a fascinating and eery topic, and it always grabs my attention. How sick can the human race be? Well, every time I think I’ve seen it all something else happens. Alice was a rebellious girl. It is clear throughout the book that she was never the perfect child but everyone agrees – she didn’t deserve the 20 years she got as punishment.

I (unfortunately) spotted one villain pretty early one – you must really just read properly to catch it. I thought Callen’s little war with the Deputy was silly and was only there to show how manly and adult-y Callen had become. I sincerely wished I got more of Jessica and Chase’s story. I’d be happy to have had them as main characters or even just more spotlight on them. In fact, if Nora wants to write a book ten years into the future where they rediscover their relationship, I’m ordering my copy now.

I think the best benchmark I can give you is to say that one night I was awake until three reading this book. If that doesn’t speak of the gripping quality it has, nothing will. It’s a big book so do gear yourself up for a massive adventure.

Have you read Come Sundown? If you have, let me know in the comments.

 Rating: 8.5/10

Movie Review: Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

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Plot:A young woman who’s reinvented herself as a New York socialite must return home to Alabama to obtain a divorce from her husband, after seven years of separation.

I wouldn’t want to be the woman who had to choose between Patrick Dempsey and Josh Lucas. It seems criminal to be faced with such a decision. This is what befalls Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon), a successful fashion designer in New York. When the lovely Andrew Hennings (Dempsey) proposes, Melanie, real-surname-Smooter, must head back to the place she’s been avoiding for the last couple of years like the plague, to get a divorce from her high school sweetheart Jake Perry (Josh Lucas), without alerting the press and Andrew’s mother, who just happens to be the mayor of NYC.

But naturally all is not as easy as it should be. Melanie is faced with the fact that she’s become an uppity Yankee snob, and an uncaring one at that. Jake has a lot of secrets, and he’s clearly not as over her as he wants her to believe. There are many people of her past that hasn’t forgotten the mayhem she caused in her life, and that they are comfortable with who they are despite not being upstate and fancy.

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So yes, I wouldn’t want to choose between the blue eyes of Josh Lucas and the warm charm of Patrick Dempsey. It would be SAD. This film is your basic romantic dramedy. There are some attempts at deepness – talk of a miscarriage and Jake knowing he would have to make a drastic change to win back his estranged wife, and lots of subliminal messages about just being yourself and not hiding away your past. There was also so much 2002 fashion in Witherspoon’s outfits that I had a grand time laughing at it – who would have thought that a mere fifteen years later the choker-fashion would return?

Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
 Reese Witherspoon and Patrick Dempsey
Credit: Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

I enjoyed Sweet Home Alabama. You need to walk in without too much expectations – this is just your basic enjoyable romance. A 7/10 for me.

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

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Plot: Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

Continuing on my slightly unhealthy craze of Pride and Prejudice and all things Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet related, I had to watch this 2005 adaption again. I can’t find a review for it anywhere on my blog, and I know I’ve seen it before – is it possible that I did it pre-blog? I’ll never know!

I had a great time. I remember enjoying it the first time but not really appreciating the ending back then – I think I didn’t get at that stage just how British this story is and how perfect that ending was.

There are a number of changes made, but it was organic– I didn’t feel that it deducted from the story at all. The changes made were done to fit the span of the book into a movie, so a lot of information and pivotal scenes were ignored. As I said it didn’t damage the film much, but the book certainly provides a more comprehensive scope of Darcy’s character and the change Elizabeth was able to inspire in him.

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Matthew MacFadyen is truly a perfect Darcy. He is a wonderful actor, truly being able to convey emotions without saying too much. He is perfectly British and his contained atmosphere and telling outbursts as Mr. Darcy is spot on.

My love/hate relationship with Keira Knightley seems set to continue. The way she has of pulling her mouth frustrates me to no end. But, as I listed here, the fact that she has an annoying mouth does not derive from the fact that she is an accomplished actress. Ms. Bennet is as challenging to a female lead as Mr. Darcy is to a male lead – complex, intelligent characters with the weight of being a beloved classic weighing them down. She manages her role admirably and is a delight as Ms. Bennet, and has sufficient and delightful levels of impertinence that made me love her all the more.

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Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet was a choice that I was not that all that pleased with, but she did her best. There was a desperation to her impression of Jane that I did not enjoy – Jane is shy and sweet natured and a bit too believing in the best of others, but she isn’t a desperate woman. Jenna Malone as Lydia Bennet was a perfect choice – Lydia is really the worst thing, she is a flirting little girl with no sense or morals or particular care for her family. It takes a strong actress to bring that particular disregard to family and tradition to life, and the callousness with which Lydia does it as well. Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet properly emanates that exhaustion Mr.Bennetmust feel from a lifetime with the skittish and irritating Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) – who can’t but help being such an annoying person. I wish I could have seen more of Rupert Friend as Mr. Wickham – he was good on screen but not particularly often on it, which is frustrating as Mr. Wickham is quite important to the events that unfold. I wish I liked Simon Woods as Charles Bingley – he was just too ginger for my idea as Bingley. I did like Kelly Reilly as Caroline Bingley – she was as snobbish and backhanded and mean spirited as her character requires.

I felt similarly in the book – a need to rush through and to get to the end to know everything, but the pacing was slow and careful and makes you subsequently pay a lot more attention. The British countryside is beautiful despite the depressing weather, and the director managed to capture it and incorporate it into this very British movie.

The ending of the film is different to the book only in execution, with the phrases altered slightly but still much the same. It is powerful and touching, and the chemistry between Knightley and MacFayden is through the roof at that very moment. I’ve seen the extended version and the normal version, and the extended is a lot more true to what happens in the book.

I enjoyed this adaption so much. It is a great cast, it is well paced and despite missing some key events it still tells what it needs to tell. Watching this soon again is inevitable. An 8.5/10 for me.

 

Movie Review: Beauty and The Beast (2017)

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Plot: An adaptation of the fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love.

Of all the sentimental attachments I have to Disney classics, my attachment to Beauty and The Beast is the strongest. As a young girl Belle was like this guiding light – she liked to read, she was interested in a greater life and she was the author of her own story. She finds love because she’s brave and can see past the exterior, not because she needed rescuing. Belle rocks man. So it was with an uneasy mix of excitement and trepidation that I handled the news of a live animation adaption. Would they ruin it? Would they, GASP, try and be original? I am pretty happy with the original work and I would not have appreciated a new take where Gaston is the hero and the Beast is just a Beast – I’m looking at you, Maleficent.

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However, I loved it. Emma Watson is most certainly not the world’s most accomplished actress, but she’s been unfairly criticized for her work as Belle. I was expecting much worse, both in terms of acting and of singing. People are reporting her as weak and unconvincing. She wasn’t. She is at times slightly wooden but not offensively so. Is her voice auto tuned? Maybe, but since I’m no Adele I am not going around judging people for their singing. Whether her haters like it or not, she’s a face of gender rights at the moment and that, combined with her serious personality and Harry Potter legacy made her a spot on choice for Belle. That yellow dress sure is pretty and springing and she seems to have good chemistry with Dan Stevens – who wouldn’t? – And eventually looks more comfortable with the role.

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A standout performance is that of Luke Evans as Gaston. He’s the boorish, muscled and mean spirited villain with such style that it is obvious he had the time of his life being Gaston. He also has hands down the best singing voice of the cast. My favorite musical of this film is Gaston, he was perfect in every way and the musical is brilliantly executed.

Josh Gad as Lafou provided the required quota of comic relief. He was just a bit over the top. I also didn’t really understand the issue with him being Gay. Goodness me, I guess I’m just that peculiar that I really couldn’t care about someone’s sexual orientation as long as they are decent human beings, and my experience with the gay community has me convinced they are, in actual fact, more often better people than their straighter counterparts. On further thought Lafou wasn’t particularly straight in the original work, so I just don’t get the fuss. I found the third musketeer’s reaction to his wardrobe change hilarious and spot on.

My only issue with Dan Stevens as the Beast is that I didn’t get to see more of his lovely face. It is a pity. He has a gorgeous voice. Considering most of his work was under CGI (mores the pity), I can’t truly comment on his acting in here.

Maurice (Kevin Kline) was much less of a cartoonish fool and a man dealing with grief and guilt. I quite liked this impression of him, and made the character much more lovable. Also great voice work from Emma Thompson, Ian McKellan and Ewan McGregor.

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It is true that Bill Condon provides an extravagant affair. He clearly had Disney’s massive financial backing because his sets are elaborate and finely carved. The only one lacking was Mrs. Potts. She definitely got the bums rush from the development crew. Everything else is so ornate and rich to look at. I enjoyed the castle crumbling as physical evidence of the Beast’s chances of finding his human form beginning to wane all the more.

I know the original work well enough that I can parrot the songs, so I picked up on the changed words. I don’t get why they did it though. It wasn’t necessary for the original works are close to perfect. My only serious complaint is the rendition of Beauty and the Beast. Neither the song in the movie or its’ rendition by Ariana Grande and John Legend comes close to the original Celine Dion cover. The new songs were dangerous experimentations. I liked all of them, but someone sure had balls to create new scores for such a beloved classic.

A lot of political commentary going on and naturally I was on board – women reading, doing their own thing, and specifically Belle stating that she’s not ready to have children yet to the complete bewilderment of her community is a priceless moment. We feel you, Belle.

I actually really loved this adaption. Disney has a knack of producing great live animations. It is somewhat lazy work with about half the creativity than an original production would require – just do good casting and great graphics and depend on the fans that are hit with a wave of nostalgia. It remains quite wonderful work however and I can’t wait to buy the DVD!

Rating: 8.5/10

Watched, Read, Loved: April 2017

April is the best month for South-Africa. Seriously – we have so many public holidays people are actually nice to each other. I took off a chunk of time as well, and it did me the world of good. I actually got some sleep in, saw my bestie and watched some amazing films. Without further ado, here is my rundown of April 2017.

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Movies:

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Beauty and the Beast (2017): The painful excitement that came when I heard they were doing a live animation of my favorite Disney classic was excruciating. Would it work? Would it fail? The QUESTIONS that plagued me.Additionally, B&B was released in South-Africa later than the rest of the world because of South-Africaitis, and there were conflicting reports to be read. Anyway, grabbing popcorn and sitting down to see this was really wonderful. I liked it, and will watch it again. I had Gaston stuck in my head for a week. I better not hear that tune soon.

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One Day (2011): HATED IT.

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Basic Instinct(1992): This is part of my Blindspot 2017 series. This year I am doing remarkably well with it, because Zoë and I watched a bunch of them in December because #besties. Basic Instinct is next on the list and quite the shocker. OMFG my poor eyes.I might never recover.

Anywhere but home (2008): I thought this comedy was quite funny the second time around (I know I’ve seen this before but I can barely remember it). It’s also titled “Four Christmases”. I’ve never understood exactly why some movies get two titles. Anyway, if you can believe that someone like Reese Witherspoon would end up with someone like Vince Vaughn, you can get through the movie. It has some funny moments, and sure they are the typical things you’d expect, but they are funny regardless.

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Twilight: New Moon (2009): I’ve been meaning to blog about Twilight as a set for ages now. I did Twilight (2008) easily, but had a couple of months delay by what succeeds it. New Moon is the most insufferable – both book and movie – but I sat through it eventually.

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Twilight: Eclipse (2010): Eclipse is a strong successor and definitely superior to the ghastly New Moon. Edward is still an obsessive stalker, Bella is still pathetic, R. Patz and Kristen Stewart still can’t act. But decisively better than the infuriating New Moon.

Safe Haven (2013): The casting for Nicholas Sparks film is never specified for acting abilities. I guess the author/filmmaker knows his audience too well, and knows if he provides enough pretty people the film will be acceptable to his fans. He’s not wrong. I enjoyed Safe Haven and the acting is really better than the acting in The Lucky One. The kids were cute and the story was okay.

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He’s just not that into you (2009): I always enjoy watching HJNTIY. My brother-in-law did not appreciate us making him watch it though, telling me that it is not also a guy-friendly film as I initially thought.

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Warm Bodies (2013): I just love this film. Nicholas Hoult is a zombie, and when he eats the brains ofTeresa Palmer’s boyfriend, he starts seeing some memories and slowly returns to human form. The cast, led by Hoult, are all quite charming and for a story that shouldn’t work it works really well.

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The DUFF (2015):yes, I watched it again. One of my favorite films at the moment. Such hilarity.lethal weapon

Lethal Weapon 1 (1987) & Lethal Weapon 2 (1989):
It was my first time around watching this buddy-cop series, and I really enjoyed it. The 1980’s were a glorious time to be alive obviously!

Blood wars

Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

SO SLOPPY.

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Chef (2014): Chef is a film about good food and happy endings, and well deserved of its’ praise. I really quite liked this film!

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Arrival (2016): My review will be up next week. I loved this. Handsdown one of the finest films of 2016.

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Drive (2011): I remember enjoying Drive the first time around, but I really couldn’t remember everything about it. I enjoyed it so much this time too, it is a phenomenal film and some of Gosling’s best work.

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The Guest (2014): This film has a lot of science reasons it works well to the appreciative eye, but I can tell you that I would have loved it without the science too. Gorgeous directing, a solid plot and excellent score, this film is a great film to watch again and again.

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Prisoners (2013): Prisoners currently ranks as my least favorite Villeneuve film. It is on no level a poor film, it was just not my favorite of his. And it is five hundred hours long. *Scientific fact*

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016):

I can watch this movie indefinitely. It is the best!

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Crazy Stupid Love (2011): I definitely need to review this film again – It has been ages since I’ve posted it on my blog. One of the most inoffensive romantic comedies produced in later years, this movie will make you laugh and relate with some character in here.

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Nocturnal Animals (2016): This is my new hated film. Gosh, what a spectacular waste of my life. Pretentious bullshit.

 

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Black-Hills

Black Hills – Nora Roberts

This is a particular favorite book of mine. I enjoy Dr. Lillian Chance – she is passionate about her work in the refuge she built and is smart and cool.

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The Concannon Sisters trilogy – Nora Roberts

While I do enjoy this series of books – Born in Shame, Born in Ice and Born in Fire, they certainly aren’t my favorite of the author. However, her love for Ireland does show when reading this, and I particularly enjoy the description of the scenery.

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Two Broke Girls Season 4 and 5

I’m enjoying myself way too much with this comedy. It shouldn’t be as funny as it is, but I end up really laughing at it.

What did you do in April?

Movie Review: Underworld (2003)

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Plot: Selene, a vampire warrior, is entrenched in a conflict between vampires and werewolves, while falling in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons.

Rating: 7.5/10

A peek at the IMDb scores for Underworld left me certain that I was in for cheese and melodrama and bad performances. Contrary to IMDb, I received intel from trusted persons that Underworld is hated unnecessarily by the “gurus” for whichever murky reason Hollywood powers decide a film should get poor ratings. Kate Beckingsale is front and foremost and brings forth a fantastic strong female character that is in no need of being saved. She does the saving. Seline is strong, powerful, really attractive, brooding and won’t shy away from confrontation. Miraculous qualities for a female protagonist!

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Kate Beckingsale is incredibly beautiful. I’d love to hate her on principle, but the fact is this is a really intelligent women takes on such a fierce role with energy is to be admired. Seline is a mix of power and female, and I was cheering all the way. The relationship between Michael and Selinehas impact because it doesn’t overshadow the political or war elements of the film, yet manages to demand attention when the two get a few moments of peace together.

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The lycans were terrifying. Underworld isn’t this pretty watered down Twilight-version of vampires and werewolves. The lycans live in dark shadows and haunt the decaying sewers of the city. Their leader, Lucian, has a plan and initially you are led to believe that he’s solely a villain, and as the leader of the Lycans he must be stopped at all cost. One sentence from Seline should immediately alert the watcher that things are not as they appear, because whenever a species is banned from looking into the past, there is bound to be things hidden people in power want swept under the rug.

Bring in Bill Nighy’s Viktor, whose awakening is fearful to behold. He plays the role of the Elder vampire with such pizazz it is obvious that he had the time of his life being a vampire.  Shane Brolly as Kraven is the weakest link in the story, his angle of action was really the cheesiest direction of which the other cast members steered well cleared of.

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The directing by Wiseman is excellent. The film remains gritty and gory throughout, and the atmosphere is accurately depressing. Underworld is a long one, but I didn’t mind as much as I really enjoyed it. The last few scenes, which obviously serves as the conclusion of the film is gory and blood filled, but to its’ credit I didn’t need to repress the urge to skip some of it.

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I had a surprisingly good time watching Underworld, and I’m definitely checking out the rest. They might not all be as good, but I will most certainly explore and provide feedback.

Have you seen Underworld? What is your impression?

Movie Review: The Wedding Singer (1998)

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Plot: Robbie, a singer, and Julia, a waitress, are both engaged, but to the wrong people. Fortune intervenes to help them discover each other.

Rating: 7.5/10

I’ve often heard that the earlier work of my arch nemesis Adam Sandler isn’t that bad. I cautiously ventured into this; sure I would end up disliking it either equally or more than his other shitty movies. Other than a horribly outdated impression of a transvestite character which would not have gone off well today, this film was actually really okay and not irritating. There were no butt jokes I could find and the humor was really general and not as below the pants as the current work of Sandler.

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Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler share a large number of films they’ve costarred in, and they seem to have a decent chemistry between them. She’s adorably young and naïve as Julia, whose biggest predicament in life is the inevitability that she would be named Mrs. Julia Gulia. I don’t know about you, but that would put me in a flat spin. Her fiancé is so prick-like you have to wonder how they even met in the first place.

Adam Sandler’s character is a bit of a lost case, a clearly talented singer who makes his money performing at weddings. He’s remarkably proficient in his job, managing to prevent wedding fights and turn the tables around on bad, drunken speeches by best man Steve Buscemi – honestly, it was good enough to watch just for Buscemi’s appearance.

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The whole theme behind this film is these two characters who both clearly just want to get married. The notion is quite antiquated and I was a bit horrified with the outdated notions that were waltzing around for the majority of the film. I’m not going to be overly offended here – I was eight when this film dropped and we’ve (hopefully) come a long way in changing the world’s perception that women must marry or be regarded as failures.

I also have to mention the glorious 90’s fashion sense that is celebrated in here. Adam Sandler’s mullet is spectacular, the exercise clothes of Holly and the overall dress sense of the characters were godawful and wildly amazing to see. No one had a clue in the 90’s, hey?

The Wedding Singer is ultimately a worthy film of popularity. It is sweet, fun, sincere and happens all in one hour and forty minutes, which is as much as you can ask from Sandler.

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#outfitAndHairGoals

Movie Review: Shall We Dance? (2004)

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Plot:

A romantic comedy where a bored, overworked Estate Lawyer, upon first sight of a beautiful instructor, signs up for ballroom dancing lessons.

Rating: 6.5/10

Shall We Dance was quite a surprise to me. I was ready to go on a rampage if it turned into a film that tried to justify an older man cheating on his perfectly nice wife. It seemed inevitable when John Clark joined a dancing studio because of the lovely Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) staring out into the night dramatically every time John’s bus drove past the studio where she worked. He is warned early on that Paulina has a broken heart and a dented ego and that she’s really talented. He tries to connect as he feels the need to be involved in some stranger’s personal business. Luckily she tells him where to get off and that she’s on to his shit. The movie steers in another direction then at least, with John (Richard Gere) learning to love the new skill he’s acquiring. His busy wife is alerted by their daughter that John is happier and acting very twinkle toes suddenly. She gets PI Devine (Richard Jenkins) to investigate and he delivers the real story – John is dancing, but not cheating. Through a whole lot of escalation and dance competitions, John eventually finds himself with a wife whose feelings have been hurt because he hid so much of what makes him happy in the past few months from her.

What I liked?

The cast is charming. Richard Gere is as classically handsome as always, Susan Sarandon is as always beautiful and talented, and Stanley Tucci provides a whole lot of funny moments and impressed me with his comedic ability. The same can be said for Lisa Ann Walter, who plays the really honest and abrasive Bobbie. I liked her attitude and while she could be harsh, I really enjoyed the character. I also really thought Bobby Cannavale and Omar Benson Miller had some great moments as John’s classmates Chic and Vern.

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How Shall We Dance concluded. As I mentioned, I was sure this film would be a justification of cheating episode and I don’t have time for that. It turned out differently than expected and I am grateful for that.

The dancing was a whole lot of fun. I really enjoy dancing movies a whole lot even if they have questionable plot lines.

The pace of the movie is well executed and didn’t drag out for ages.

Stanley Tucci’s role as Link was quite funny and had some gentle reminders in that straight men are also able to be dancers and entertainers, and that society generally gives them a really hard time. His whole costume of wigs and false teeth entertained me to no end and some of the funniest moments on screen come from him.

What I didn’t like:

Jennifer Lopez can dance, she can sing, she can be Jenny from the Block, but what she is unable to do is act. I was left as uninspired as usual by her. No real emotion or even a hint of conviction in her character, all she has to rely on is her dance moves and girly voice to complete the role as Paulina. I’m not even sure why she is on the DVD cover as there were a ton of characters that deserved to be on it rather.

I enjoyed Shall We Dance. It is a reminder that life doesn’t have to be over after a certain age and that you can still experience new things. It is also to a lesser degree a film about being yourself and owning what you believe in. It also contains Richard Gere, one of the most handsome older men still alive. For a romantic drama, Shall We Dance fails to annoy and is enjoyable to sit through, which is as much as you can generally expect from these type of films.

Have you seen this? Tell me in the comment section 🙂

Book Review: The Collaborator (Margaret Leroy)

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Plot:

1940, Guernsey…

Vivienne de la Mare waits nervously for the bombs to come. Instead comes occupation. Nothing is safe anymore. But was anything truly safe before?

The façade of the perfect wife, with her husband fighting on the frontline, cracks under the strain of the lie. Her new life is one where the enemy lives next door. Small acts of kindness from one Nazi soldier feels like a betrayal. A forbidden friendship in a frightening world. But how can you hate your enemy when you know his name, when he makes you feel alive, when everything else is dying around you?

Vivienne is fighting her own private war. On one side, the safe, secret, loving world she could build with her captain; on the other, virtuous loneliness and danger. It’s time for Vivienne to choose: collaboration or resistance…

Rating: 8/10

A two word review of The Collaborator would be “thought-provoking”. Set in the Crown Dependency Island Guernsey during WWII, The Collaborator raises some interesting questions. Can we really call someone our enemy without them having personally slighted us? When they appear to be kind and thoughtful and ready to help out? When they are your enemy based on a war that is not occurring in front of your eyes but somewhere far away?

Leroy goes all out by writing her male lead as a German soldier, the most reviled characters of WWII. She refrained from writing Gunther as SS, because there would be no redeeming qualities in such a person and her book would have flopped. Gunther is merely a man that is fighting for his country and actually grateful to live on the small island and not to further Hitler’s mad plans around the world. He misses his old life, and Vivienne and Gunther are able to create some fragile contentment in their lives for a while. As the war continues Vivienne finds it more difficult to remain impassive about it and questions how much Gunther is also turning a blind eye too. Can the two exit the war unscathed?

Leroy wrote this book with an underlying tension. The feeling is so dreary and tense. It brings the reader to ground level and makes you question your beliefs about a lot of things – religion, the Germans in a time where everyone hated the Germans. Vivienne starts to crack as the soldier’s wife – she knew her husband cheated on her before the war, he made her feel inadequate and he was already emotionally removed from her when he left to go to war. Can we blame her for cracking? Do we dare? Max and Gunther, part of the German army, are seemingly good men fighting for their country’s honor. They aren’t evil bastards running death camps, they are soldiers working on a small island doing as they are instructed. They face harsh punishment and certain death if they rebel. Some in their group aren’t as kind as these two, which leads to some complications later on as one would expect.

What I consider a huge improvement from the previous Leroy novel I read, The Lake House, is that Vivienne actually cares for and considers her children a great deal. Millie and Blanche are a few years apart and both pose a different challenge to Vivienne – Millie is young and requires a lot of care, while Blanche is on the verge of the rest of her life and struggling to remain a young teenager when the world around her is crumbling and harsh. On top of these troubles is Vivienne’s elderly mother-in-law, who can be extremely forgetful and dangerously attentive at times. So can we really judge her for seeking her comfort with a kind, understanding German soldier? I couldn’t.

The book has some surprises in store – the awakening of Vivienne’s determination to do something for the prisoners of war, the twisting at unexpected times and the very sad and bleak end. I’m not usually one for such a depressing end, but it suited the tone of the book – war is a cruelty that changes people and destroys lives.

The Collaborator probably wouldn’t be enjoyed by everyone. I liked it though – it kept me in such suspense most of the time and I kept thinking about it while I wasn’t reading it, a sure sign that a book is a good read.