Watched, Read, loved: March 2017

March2017

Here is my monthly rundown of what I was up to the previous month. Right now it is still pretty much only addressing entertainment, but I hope to add some more life things into it soon too. Please feel free to comment below if you’ve seen any of these, or just to say hi!

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Southpaw poster

Southpaw (2015) – I love a good sport movie. Even though they are all pretty much the same story, I’m always caught up. It was no less with Southpaw, and even though Jake Gyllenhaal irrationally annoyed the shit out of me, I really enjoyed this one.

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Letters to Juliet (2010) – Amanda Seyfried delivers another charming performance. Objectively I know this isn’t a strong film, but it is so feel good I actually couldn’t care less about ratings. It is foolishly optimistic and cheerful, and a great film to watch if you are feeling down.

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The Wedding Singer (1998) – The 90’s atmosphere, combined with a surprisingly affable Adam Sandler and an adorable Drew Barrymore, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Definitely one of the best Adam Sandler films I’ve ever seen.

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My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) – I HATED the ending and I really disliked the main character. What a stupid movie.

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Enchanted (2007): This spectacular Disney production made me so happy when I watched it again. It is on a grand scale and very elaborate and so lovely to look at.

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Underworld (2003), Evolution (2006), Rise of the Lycans (2009), and Awakening (2012)

After years of ignorance I am finally familiarizing myself with this franchise. I had a great time with all these movies. Seline is such a strong female character and saves herself and her love more than once, and the feminist in me was cheering all the way.

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Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Continuing on this journey to watch more romantic films that are seen as classics, I got to see this. It was… okay. Hugh Grant really was quite the adorable English actor in his prime, and it is easy for him to be quietly charming. Andie McDowell also had no clue how to act. I’m not sure if she’s ever had a clue in that regard, but it really is prominent here.

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The Lucky One (2012)

The Lucky One  is not by any means the worst Nicholas Sparks film – Best of Me still holds that title – but what is most notable is the awful acting. Taylor Schilling and Zac Efron just don’t gel together. I’m forced to ask whether Zac Efron actually has a brain – there is nothing shining behind those pretty blue eyes. Sure, he’s cute and ripped, but his attempt at a tortured marine invoked less sympathy than concern about synapses firing at an appropriate rate. Schilling, yeah, also pretty bad. They also have zero chemistry and the scenes looked stage and neither actor really wanted their hands on each other. Okay, I’m done. But sheesh.

Kong

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island is what it was supposed to be: a nice action packed adventure with a handsome cast and a big gorilla. Ticked all the boxes for me, excellent popcorn entertainment.

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Power Rangers (2017)

I had not planned going to cinema for this. I would have preferred John Wick, but I was sorely outvoted by a bunch of 30 year old men who wanted to watch Power Rangers. There is something to be said for nostalgia. I ended up having a decent enough time – I  was unaware up until this point that Power Rangers could be made into something that resembles a non-cheesy film. I’m still shocked.

books

The Guardians Trilogy by Nora Roberts: Stars of Fortune, Bay of Sighs and Island of Glass

I read these three books in the span of two weeks and I don’t regret one second of it. It is the most fun I’ve had in ages with Nora Roberts’ fantasy work.

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Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince (JK Rowling)

The penultimate book in the best series to have ever been written is overshadowed in intensity only by the last book. Half Blood Prince is consistently one of my favorites. It features the more mature trio, naturally Dumbeldore’s death and the discovery of the reason behind Voldemort’s apparent immortality.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling)

Horace Slughorn returning to the castle to fight, Snape’s secret, Fred dying, Lupin and Tonks, Colin Creevy being tiny in death, Kreacher’s bullfrog voice, Dobby’s death, Hagrid throwing MacNair, Molly vs. Bellatrix– the last hundred pages of this book is nonstop goosebumps. I get tears in my eyes every time. Every. Single. Time. Deathly Hallows binds every single event that occurred in Potter from the very first page of The Philosopher’s Stone to the very last page of Deathly Hallows in a neat bow. This is truly the best thought out work I’ve ever read by an author.

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Angel’s Fall (Nora Roberts)

I really enjoy reading through my Nora collection at least once a year. Right now I’m with Reece and Brody, and I particularly enjoy the book – I like both main characters, the setting, the plot and development of said plot.

Movie Review: Batman vs. Superman (2016)

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Plot: Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the man of steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday, is created by Lex Luthor. It’s up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences along with Wonder Woman to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.

Rating: 6/10

If we could rate Batman vs. Superman solely on the thigh muscles of Henry Cavill, displayed in tight leather pants, then the most awkward attempt at block buster creation would have ended up with a much higher rating than it currently holds, especially on Rotten Tomatoes, who is leading the angry mob with a nice little 30% rating on there. I was feeling a bit meh towards the film when I walked out of cinema, but have to admit I was slightly shocked at the hate I saw online while doing my usual post-film Googling.

Is it 30% bad? No. It might be the biggest wasted potential of the decade, but it is not worth such a harsh rating. Some things worked really well. Henry Cavill is the most Superman-looking Superman that has graced our screen in a long time, and while his character is shrouded in guilt and really, let’s be honest, needing to man the hell up and stop pitying himself, Cavill is as entertaining as Superman as he was in Man of Steel. Ben Affleck is surprisingly good. Look, I enjoy Affleck very much. He’s a talented actor and comes across as a fairly decent human being. I was not convinced of his ability as Batman, because Batsie is dark and Ben Affleck just seems so nice even when he is trying to be not nice. Yet Affleck portrays Batman with underlying anger and menace that I never thought was possible. He was one of the best things in this dismal movie.

What went wrong?

Lex Luthor

Jesse Eisenberg. I called this mistake in casting he second it happened. He’s twitchy, he’s whiney, he is not marginally charming in this role. What I liked about General Zod in Man of Steel is you could root for him, understand on some level why he was doing what he was was doing. Lex Luthor in BvsS is silly, stupid and twitchy. He barely gives any reason why he is acting like he’s acting, and it constantly feels like he has a tiny-man syndrome and is angry at the chiseled looks of Clark Kent and the adoration humanity has for him.

There is no story. Seriously, the film, starting out darkly with (yet another) backstory on Bruce Wayne looked enticing but quickly developed into a mess. There are kitchen timers, wheels being beaten into submission, Lois Lane throwing the one object that can kill a Kryptonian being into some pool (that appears from nowhere). Even Batman eventually needs to check in what is going down at the end of the film.

I discovered that I dislike Zack Snyder. A man of his wealth and fame will hardly care what I have to say, but looking at the films he made up till now makes me realize that I kind of feel about him like the internet feels towards Michael Bay. Poorly written material with violent scenes seems to be his biggest thing, and it always reflects poorly. This is no different just as MoS was no different – fight scenes that takes way too long to flesh out and then falls flat. The big fight between Batman and Superman started out animatedly enough but ends up with Lois breaking it up. FFS.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

Lois Lane and Martha Kent constantly needs saving. They have zero girl power. Can we have the sassy Lois Lane from Smallville, please? Amy Adams… yeah. I find her relatively decent as a rom-com character but she needs way more spunk as Lois Lane if she wants to continue in the role.

But, what worked?

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. I can’t wait for this movie.

Holly Hunter as Senator Finch. I could moan for days that she was badass but not used enough, but I won’t, because she had a hard stance when she was on screen and was girl power through and through. Go team!

The score. It is Hans Zimmer everywhere and it is dramatic, lonely and astonishingly beautiful.

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Ben Affleck as Batman. It worked, as mentioned above, surprising everyone. I wouldn’t completely be against a standalone movie here, but not sure if it would qualify as necessary.

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heeeyyyyy

Henry Cavill as Superman. Good golly, yes please. He didn’t get any character development in here, and I didn’t appreciate the Christ-attributes that was given to him, but he continues to work well as the local Kryptonian.

The quick spotting of Aquaman. Does anyone fully understand my level of adoration for Jason Momoa? It’s unnatural and unhealthy. I can’t wait.

The bottom-line

I think the critics are being unnecessarily rude about this film, and their harshness is uncalled for. It might be a good plan to scrap Jesse Eisenberg and Zack Snyder and to follow a straight line of comic book back story. There are enough things that work in here to make the exhaustive time of the film slightly tolerable. Go watch it, get your own opinion and don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong about it.

Batsie

American Hustle (2013)

American hustle poster

In 1978, con artist Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) at a party. They have an immediate connection and start a relationship. When Irving tells Sydney what he does for a living, stealing cash deposits from people looking for a loan, he thinks she hates him when she leaves. She returns as English aristocrat “Lady Edith Greensly”. Together they scam and work together and though Irving loves her he is hesitant to leave his solipsistic wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) because he knows he will lose contact with her son Danny who he loves like his own child. Rosalyn knows her husband is up to no good and threatens to report him to the police if he leaves her.

Richard “Richie” DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), an FBI agent, pretends to apply for a loan and when Sydney takes the deposit from him she is arrested and locked up in a cell. Irving is highly upset that she is in isolation and accepts a deal with DiMaso to help them arrest four conmen, caught through their superior skills in the business. Richie believes that Sydney is English, but not an aristocrat and no one informs him otherwise. Sydney is furious with the idea and wants to flee the country with Irving but he doesn’t want to leave because of his son. She tells him that she will do the deal but she is done with him and he can stand and watch as she manipulates DiMaso into liking her.

Irving employs the help of his friend, a man who pretends to be an Arabian Sheik (Said Taghmaoui). The Sheik is “looking” for investments in America. They target the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), a man who really wants the best for his community and has been unsuccessfully campaigning to reopen Atlantic City, something he needs spans of cash for. Richie wants to make Carmine the target of the operation, but Irving and Richie’s boss, Stoddard Thorsen (Louis C.K) object to this. Sydney, who is still getting back at Irving, helps Richie manipulate the lady who does the FBI cash wiring and wires 2 million dollars into an account to back their story that they have the cash to give out loans. Anthony Amado, Stoddard’s boss, hears of Richie’s plans and goes over his head to approve Richie’s endeavours.

Richie, for all his eagerness, is still a newbie when it comes to operations. His over eagerness causes Carmine some alarm and he leaves, but Irving rushes after him and apologizes, and Carmine says he will do business with them only if he exclusively deals with Irving.

Richie goes behind Irving’s back and switches his Sheik with a FBI-agent who can barely speak the language. They arrange Carmine and the new Sheik to meet at the airport and they are invited by to a casino party hosted by Carmine. Victor Tellegio (Robert DeNiro), a Mafia overlord, is at the party and Irving is upset that they are now dealing with mobsters. Things nearly go south when Tellegio can speak Arabian. They are narrowly saved when a drunken man arrives and disrupts the meeting. Richie agrees to a 10 million dollar transfer to prove they are legitimate, once again something the neither FBI nor Irving cleared.

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At the casino party, Rosalyn meets mobster Pete Musane (Jack Huston) who she starts seeing behind her husband’s back. She mentions to him she is sure Irving is working for the IRS, and Pete threatens Irving but he assures Pete they will prove the investment is real. Irving, furious, confronts Rosalyn and she claims she did it because he makes her feel unloved. She agrees to keep his secret but says she think it will be better if they get divorced.

Richie admits to being attracted to Sydney. She confesses her real identity, and he becomes agitated and violent. Irving arrives and throws Richie out of the room, calming Sydney down while sorting out most of their problems. He assures her when it is all over that she, he and Danny will find a way to make a life together.

Richie and Irving videotape a number of Congress members receiving bribes. Richie gets yet another 2 million dollars allocated to the project to prove they are legitimate. A handover meeting is attended by Richie and Irving and Tellegio’s lawyer, Alfonse Simone (Paul Herman). Alfonse promises a number of criminal activities not knowing he is being recorded

Will Carmine be locked up as well? What will Tellegio do when he finds out he is being double crossed? Will Rosalyn really leave Irving, letting Sydney be with him? What will happen to the out of control Richie?

Rating: 6.5/10

I really don’t understand why everyone has been raging about American Hustle. I found it way too long, dragged out and then the ending rushed, and a very simple story at the end of the day.

However, the acting was outstanding and the costumes beautiful. The movie was stretched out over two hours and it was highly unnecessary with the tale being told.

American Hustle had a power-packed cast; something I feel can be detrimental to the story. Sure, it attracts a lot of interest, but fresh faces can give fantastic performances too. Christian Bale here stood out as the best of the cast as always. I love how he is always willing to go the extreme for his roles and he did it once again here. Jennifer Lawrence played her seemingly typecast role as a crazy woman well, and she was quite funny with her constant habit of setting everything on fire. Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper also gave good performances, with Bradley’s ‘fro stealing the moment. I thought Jeremy Renner did such a good job as the Mayor. The Mayor was mostly an innocent, good man, caught between the desperate attempts of the FBI to capture someone. Renner is quite a good actor and I’m tired of seeing him underdeveloped. I sincerely hope that this will be the beginning of good things for him.

So, basically alright but not worth the hype.

Movie Review: Man of Steel (2013)

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The planet Kryton faces extinction when its core becomes unstable, after years of abuse of natural sources. General Zod (Michael Shannon) disposes of its council, and scientist Jor-El (Russel Crowe) and his wife Lara send their son, Kal-El, the only natural born in centuries, to earth, infusing his cells with the genetic codex of the entire Kryptonian race, making him their hope for future generations. Zod and his followers are sent to the Phantom Zone after he murders Jor-El, but after Krypton explodes, they are freed and can start hunting for Kal-El.

Meanwhile, Kal-El has been raised in Kansas as Clark Kent, by Jonathan and Martha Kent. Clark has developed superhuman abilities, because of his Kryptonian physiology compared to Earth’s. He gradually learns to harness his abilities, but never fully reveals himself as his father taught him the danger of exposure.

Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane systematically searches for Clark after he saves her life. She goes on the distinctive trail he has left during his lifetime, and eventually finds him even though he went through a lot of trouble to protect his identity. When she demands the truth, he shares it with her, eventually making her see the truth in his father’s plea for secrecy.

When Zod finds that Kal-El is on Earth, he demands that Clark is handed over to him, or he will attack Earth. The FBI arrests Lois when they learn that she knows exactly who Clark is and where he hides, but Clark hands himself over to them to ensure her safety. Now the questions are: Is Zod as evil as we think he is, and will Clark manage to save planet Earth?

Cast members:

Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/ Kal-El

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I cannot describe how well this man fits into his role. It was simply outstanding. He portrays Clark Kent, from his Kansas roots to his alien parentage to perfection. He is such a sad, sad character. He manages to show how alone Superman really is, even though his earthly parents always loved him. Not only is he ridiculously good looking (it had to be mentioned and appreciated); his looks are so typically Superman that during a few scenes I thought he looked quite like Tom Welling. It is a rare occurrence that a character can be this well cast.

Amy Adams as Lois Lane

To me, Lois had always embodied a feministic, outgoing and slightly aggressive spirit. In Man of Steel, Amy Adams portrayed a more vulnerable persona. For Ms. Adams it was quite a good acting stint, as she usually is rather good in every role she does, but to me she wasn’t what I thought Lois should be. Any opinions on her portrayal? Please share in the comment section!

Michael Shannon as General Zod

Fantastic portrayal! He is such a formidable enemy. I was incredibly impressed by him. He really became a pain in Superman’s ass, as a good villain should. I felt sorry for him at the end, since his genetic programming limited him to think of the human race’s survival.

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Russel Crowe as Jor-El

Russel Crowe is always awesome, and his portrayal as Jor-El was no exception. His love for his son is so obvious, yet he offers up Cal-El to save their race. He managed to be both father and warrior and scientist, and really impressed me (again).

Rating: 8/10

I really enjoyed this movie, and found it one of the best cinematic experiences for the year. I have previously expressed how much I enjoy Superhero movies, but let’s face it: not all Superheroes were created equal. I expected Man of Steel to be as funny as Avengers, but it was not. That is not a bad thing – in the end I enjoyed it because it was slightly more depressing. It steers more to the Dark Knight oeuvre, which makes logical sense (DC-sense that is) and also, it would be completely unrealistic for a man to be incredibly happy if he was the last of his race to survive. I would really recommend this movie to everyone. It is worth every penny spent.