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.

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Movie Review: Valerian and the city of a thousand planets (2017)

Plot:

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Plot: A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

Couple of things about this film:

1) What the actual f? Valerian and the terribly long name was super long, extremely boring and amazingly pompous.

2) Who authorized the amazingly stupid and sexist decision to remove Laureline’s name from the movie title? Cara Delevigne is the only thing that actually works in this stupid, time wasting, teeth gnashing mishap.

3) Terrible, terrible dialogue.

4) Don’t watch this

5) As much as I like the guy, Dane DeHaan is miscast. He works in awkward and nerdy roles. This intergalactic officer with cheesy pickup lines laced with some sexual harassment made him look even more uncomfortable than he usually looks.

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6) Delevigne is the best thing about this film. Laureline clearly faces the same issues women face in their place of employment – sexual harassment, being overlooked for their male colleagues and always being subtly shut down when they are clearly a leader in their field.

7) The stunning visuals and CGI of the film is the only thing that keeps me from rating this movie a 0. It looks particularly good, and the fact that this is an independent production and managed to look like it did deserve a few points.

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8) The Pearl race was gorgeous, and their little converter was super damn cute. Too bad you can’t save the film with cute animals.

I actually don’t give enough fucks about this shitty piece of drawn out shit to write out full sentences, hence the bullet points above. You can steer well clear – this is exactly how I felt about Fantastic Beasts – it’s pretty but it doesn’t have a point. That said, at least Fantastic Beasts is better and has SOME POINTS.

Rating: 4.5/10

Movie Review: Suicide Squad (2016)

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Plot: A secret government agency recruits a group of imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, which inevitably leads to chaos.

Rating: 7/10

Suicide Squad has been the target of critics since it came out. I still decided to go watch it, because I’d been looking forward to and hoping for something a little different in the comic world. I ended up really enjoying it, so here’s my case below.

Things I liked:

The look: The neon colors inexplicably worked. I wouldn’t usually recommend it for a film, but it increased the super villainous feel of the film. I hear Die Antwoord feels that director David Ayer copied their style (I really fight against the notion that Die Antwoord are South-African, it’s too horrible to comprehend). Has anyone ever seen anything from them? Do you agree or disagree with them?

The soundtrack. OMFG frickin bananas. This soundtrack is EVERYTHING. I can’t tell you how much the music makes the film work, I really can’t. No one in their right mind would think that these songs could be combined and produce such a successful result, and yet it does. It is a combination of every good song that was made in the last few years, and I am so getting the CD when it comes out!

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Will Smith as Deadshot. I saw a really deep query somewhere questioning whether Will Smith was the character or if the character was Will Smith? I don’t know, but I can tell you that Will Smith was obviously prepared to pick this movie up and carry it himself if it was necessary. His acting is incredible in here, he left his awkward son at home this time and we’re all super grateful about it. The costume looks great, Smith injects humanity into a serial killer which should be impossible, and shines as the unofficial leader of the Suicide Squad. His role didn’t actually contain humorous content, but the way he stood up for himself and his team had some really funny moments in it.

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Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Robbie and Smith has been on the receiving end of all the positive feedback about this film, and it’s easy to see why on both accounts. Margot Robbie was impressive in the Wolf of Wallstreet, and her role in The Legend of Tarzan was a bit plain, but boy did she bring it to the table regardless of the material. Harley Quinn was the character that has been waiting for Margot Robbie to come along – she’s absolutely brilliant. She’s deranged, it is the only word accurate for Harley, and Robbie does an amazing job with her. It must have been tricky – she’s worth all the laughs and is the only female supervillian on the Squad – not an easy job to pull of both. She uses a baby voice, which is surprisingly not as grating as I thought it would be. As Smith does with Deadshot, Robbie manages to incite sympathy for her character – a woman who fell in love with a really really bad man.

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Which brings me to the bad man – The Joker, as played by Jared Leto. It’s an iconic role, and unlike Batman portrayals, The Joker has had consistently impressive portrayals. Does Leto stack up? For me? YES. I found him as deranged as his girlfriend (perhaps even more so). I think Leto did a good job. People are also angry that he wasn’t in the film as much as they wanted to see him, but I didn’t feel deprived. He is always lurking behind the scenes, his presence is there, and when he’s on screen he brings it like a complete professional lunatic. I’d actually really like a movie with more Joker and Quinn time, but ladies, PLEASE STOP SAYING YOU WANT A LOVE LIKE THIS, IT’S DERANGED AND ABUSIVE. SHEESH.

I can go on and on about the characters, because I liked them all except two (which I will mention below). I thought Jai Courtney was good as Boomerang. Can people give this poor man a break? You’d swear he’s the worst actor ever, which he certainly isn’t. He was really hilarious as Boomerang, and he looked scruffy and shady, and it was so funny. I also really liked Diablo – he was the only character who showed true remorse. Jay Hernandez looked scary and great and brought some great acting to the screen.

Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag. I was so disappointed in “The Good Guys”. Everyone was a bit of a douchebag, some significantly more than others. Rick was such a good man in a bad situation, and he was making things work for him as best he could. He wasn’t exactly nice to the Squad, but he didn’t make a job to abuse them just for the fun of it.

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Cara Delevingne had a double role as The Enchantress and Dr. June Moore, the poor archaeologist who was possessed because she ripped an ancient statue’s head off. A few things went wrong with the villainy of this particular role, but their was nothing wrong with the acting or the casting – Ms. Eyebrows did a super job.

What I didn’t like:

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On the characters, the only two I really didn’t like was Killer Croc – could anyone even hear what the guy was busy saying? I certainly couldn’t. The other was Katana – Talk about the most stereotyped character to ever reach the screen in 2016.

The harshness of Amanda Waller – I get that this woman is anything but stable, but let’s be real here – no one could sympathize with this loon. Viola Davis did an excellent job, but the character was too unsavory to even feel sorry for.

The Enchantress as the villain. As I’ve said, it has nothing to do with the casting. However, the implementation of the villain was weak, and I spent a good portion wondering why the hell there were petrol monsters to begin with.

The introduction of the characters. At its’ core, Suicide Squad is suffering because DC just doesn’t want to spend any time implementing their characters properly. I’ve refrained comparing DC to Marvel’s success in this post up till now, but I will only mention by the time Marvel launched the Avengers, they’d spent time developing characters. Is Aquaman and Wonder Woman dropping before Justice League? I would hope so – there needs to be memory for the audiences as to why the characters are doing what they are doing, not some random ten minute sequence into the characters when the movie starts.

Well, there you have it. I thought that there went a lot right with this film, and the negative hype is typical of critics. Are there flaws? Yes. Can this franchise continue? HELL YES.

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