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: Arrival (2016)

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Plot: When twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.

Since I haven’t read one bad review about Arrival and about ten million people asked me whether I’d seen it, I was really rather excited to get to this. I also loved Sicario, which at that stage had been my exposure to director Dennis Villeneuve’s work.

Arrival is one of the most unique and well thought out films I’ve watch in ages. It is some of the best work I’ve seen from 2016, and would certainly have altered my Top Ten list of 2016. Villeneuve has a talent to direct the dark and dreary. His signature style is tense and the subsequent underlying tension makes him a formidable force to watch in the future. He knows how to get the most intense emotions from his films’ stars, most evident in the way Amy Adams, Jermey Renner and Forrest Whitaker portray their part of Arrival.

"Story of Your Life" Day 37 Photo: Jan Thijs 2015

I guess I see now why people were so riled up when Amy Adams was not nominated for best actress. She was fantastic as Louise, a linguist who is tasked to extraterrestrial beings when they mysteriously appear in random locations across the globe. The lingual exploration was fascinating, which explored the dissection of communication and language. It made me realize that we take language for granted and how it forms and changes us. Talking is so natural, we rarely pause to consider how remarkable it is that we are talking.

I am also appreciative that Villeneuve once again provided a film with such a strong female lead. He obviously has an appreciation for strong female characters – can we have more of him please?!

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I always feel like a complete noob when talking about CGI. Visual design is one of the areas where I truly have no experience in (or a desire to get experience in). My adventures into more serious films have shown me however how much tone and proper CGI can affect a film. Arrival has incredible CGI. The Aliens are formed in a way that is slightly revolting and highly fascinating, light years away from our perception of beady eyed human forms. There is a particular scene with Adams that was mesmerizing – I get goosebumps just thinking about it. The directing also is sad and heavy and dark, and impresses the sadness which Adams’ character carries with her.

The eventual conclusion to this two hour masterpiece will stay with you – I am still wondering about the implications of it all. The focus, despite the entire plot, is not truly on the Aliens. It is more about how would we even talk to Aliens should they arrive on the planet.

Rating: A well-deserved 9/10

Blindspot 2017: The Departed (2006)

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Plot: An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.

Rating: 8/10

I might get shot for this, but I’ve now seen two Scorsese films – The Departed and The Wolf of Wallstreet. Both are some of DiCaprio’s finest work, so I don’t have anything to complain about.  Are all Scorsese films this long? The length is about the only thing I didn’t like about The Departed. It’s three hours, and in my opinion only a few films are allowed to go on this long. It is good though, so I was able to sit through it and pay attention.

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Jack Nicholson makes a great gangster. He is criminal and cold and deranged in this film, and has a menacing presence even when he is nice to people. Finding Colin Sullivan and helping him out leads to Sullivan’s corruption, which makes that kind deed null and void on the scorecard of humanity. Colin Sullivan is portrayed by Matt Damon, a man so good at playing the good guy that I didn’t even think he’d do well as the bad guy. He was phenomenal as the reviled Sullivan, who has a perfect place in the State Police and so convincing even hardened cop Captain Ellerby (Alec Baldwin) suspects him of anything but a hardworking officer. Leonardo DiCaprio, the world’s boyfriend, plays Billy Costigan. In contrast to Sullivan, Billy entered the police force with honorable intentions. He is railroaded by his familial history, and Captain Queenan (Michael Sheen) and the cantankerous Staff Sergeant Dignam (Mark Whalberg) both have a hard time believing that he is what he says he is. They offer Billy a way to still serve his country despite his past, and plant him as a mole deep into the Frank Costello’s drug syndicate.

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I loved the smartness of the characters. Sullivan is immoral but is so fast on his feet that you can’t help but admire him. Costigan is increasingly desperate to get out and has sporadic outbursts no one can blame him for. I really liked Costigan – Leonardo is definitely one of the best actors I’ve ever seen on screen. He embodies his character, and although no outward displays of dread can be seen in Costigan, DiCaprio still manages to show you exactly how much anger and fear his character is dealing with. I also really liked Mark Whalberg’s character – he’s so ornery and ready to fly off the handle and action ready. He hated everyone and he didn’t care if anyone hated him back. Alec Baldwin as Captain Ellerby was an upstanding man. I liked him, his direct attitude and approach. He was a bit gullible in the end and quite easily fooled by Sullivan though. No one that pretends to be that good is really that good.

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The pace of The Departed is controlled, carefully laying out the story. It feels that it took ages to get to the end, the majority of the films time is spent developing every character’s situation properly and showing the viewer how incredibly close Sullivan and Costigan were to each other at all times. Being in love with the same woman is the best bit though. Beautiful poetry. The last twenty minutes keeps me from bitching too passionately about the length. Those 20 minutes were action packed and dramatic, leading to an enormously if shocking end. I appreciated the conclusion of the film and would have been furious if it had ended in another way – no justice would have happened.

If you haven’t seen The Departed yet and enjoy tense, complicated and well thought out films, you should definitely give it a try!

Movie Review: Passengers (2017) – CONTAINS SPOILERS –

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Plot: A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.

Rating: 6.5/10

– CONTAINS SPOILERS –

When a movie gets trashed second after it was released, it is safe to assume that it is either:

  • The movie is legitimately a terrible film
  • The movie didn’t live up to its’ expectations and delivered something else
  • The critics hated the film because of some petty reason

Passengers is somewhere between two and three. The film’s last hour and half (perhaps more than that) is a romantic drama film set in space. I’m sure that upset a number of people who might have expected a Sci-Fi film. I also think the hate train might have been loaded to capacity with people reacting unnecessarily harsh to a moderately decent film because everyone was doing so.

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The majority of the film is spent exploring Jim Preston and Aurora Lane’s horrified realization that they woke up on their spaceship way too early to reach their destination, Homestead II – 90 years too early. Aurora suffers another setback when she’s made aware by the barman-robot Arthur (Michael Sheen) that Jim (Chris Pratt) deliberately woke her up and that her pod didn’t malfunction. She’s understandably very upset with this death sentence but is forced to put it aside when the ship starts acting erratically and it becomes clear that no one on the ship will arrive at Homestead II if they don’t find the source of the problem. Captain Gus Mancuso (Laurence Fishburn) wakes up in time to conveniently steer Jim and Aurora in the right direction.

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I enjoyed the scarcity of people in Passengers. Chris Pratt and his female equivalent Jennifer Lawrence make a charismatic team. Pratt is able to accurately portray the loneliness of Jim’s life in the year before he wakes Aurora up. Aurora (Lawrence) is different in nature than Jim. She’s a writer and immediately begins to report her life on the ship. She initially refuses to believe their fate and is forced to accept eventually that Jim is speaking the truth. Michael Sheen is able to be a convincing robot, keeping his facial expressions carefully contained. Fishburn is the last character that enters the film was a good captain if you are able to look past the fact that it is amazing that the captain woke up and not someone else. The film is scarcely populated and it works well.

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The film also looks really good. That spaceship was something to behold inside and out. It looks modern and is one of the films that bring spaceships to the new century. The swimming pool was mind boggling – I wouldn’t go close to that mass of water that is kept in its’ place by such fragile means. The robots on the ships look great – and a dash of cuteness is mixed into the plot with the housekeeping robots.

What didn’t work? Well, the holes in the plot is bigger than the holes in the spaceship. Are these two really choosing to live on that ship for the remainder of their lives with only the other as company? How will they prevent children? What about the finite amount of food on the ship? Are they dooming their fellow passengers to a journey without food? How did the asteroid not immediately destroy the ship? It is extremely convenient that the fire started becoming unmanageable when they found it? Speaking of extreme convenience, how about the third passenger that woke up is able to access secure locations?

Despite the numerous unanswered questions, of which I’m sure many other bloggers can add more to, I actually ended up enjoying Passengers. I think that the leads were compatible. Jim can be forgiven his selfishness by considering his loneliness. Their heroic antics are heart warming, especially for the following passengers. If you keep your eyes closed and ignore all the questions, I’m sure you will enjoy Passengers too. But what I will end this review with one more question – Why did they change the ship into a swamp at the end?

Movie Review: Spotlight (2015)

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Plot: The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

Rating: 8/10

I was so in the mood to watch this at one point, and it paid off. Spotlight deserved its nomination and victory in the Best Picture category at the Oscars. It is combined as a solid film with packed performances and a thrilling plot. Liev Schreiber was particularly good – I’ve always considered him an accomplished actor, but this is some of his finest work. I was initially convinced that this man had to have had a motive – he was so clear on where he was heading to reveal how underhanded and terrible the Catholic Church was with dealing with the rampant child molestation in the Church. He also immediately requested that the project be started as soon as he walked in. However, truth was his only motive – he wanted the story out there. No secret vendettas or dramas, just the truth.

It is quite amusing how desperate they were to have Rachel McAdams appear ordinary. You can’t hide that level of beauty. She is an actress that can convey so much with her eyes. Her sympathy and anger and compassion towards the victims came through without her touching the people she was interviewing at the most once. I loved her role;she was equal to her male colleagues and treated as such.

Mark Ruffalo gives another outstanding performance, but I’ve come to accept and expect that from him. He’s quite the celebrated actor, but I feel he deserves more accolades – I can’t really name one movie where I thought he did a bad job.

Michael Keaton delivers another important and noteworthy performance. He’s in a class of his own, and I must say, even though he’s quite old now there is a virility and energy to him that remains appealing after all this time.

I can actually list the entire cast here – it is outstanding work and I cannot praise that enough. It made the movie so much better.

As for the storyline – it is harrowing and even more disturbing when you acknowledge that this is the truth. I was raised Catholic as a child and although we left when the clergy couldn’t answer religious questions from my father properly, it is still upsetting to think that at least a percentage of these priests are child molesters. Spotlight isn’t even the brainchild of some gifted writer; it is based on true events. The Catholic Church is one of the most controversial bodies that have ever existed. I loved that line from sasf that the Catholic Church thinks in centuries. I see that the Catholic Church had some issues with the depiction but it is obvious that they would have done so however the movie turned out. I personally thought it was a clear minded approach to the horrors that these children had suffered under the hands of those who were meant to protect them. The movie could have gone on a witch hunt against the Catholics and it didn’t a great achievement by the script writers and directors.

I liked the anger these journalists developed. Professionalism only goes that far and if they continued through without getting angry or upset it would have been too cold. Mark Ruffalo’s outburst was raw and powerful and completely justified.

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Spotlight is a slow burn – don’t expect quick bursts of drama with this one. It is intelligent and thought provoking. It will make you feel outraged and sickened. I think it does exactly what it is supposed to do. I enjoyed it, not in a happy way but in a understanding more of the sick human race way, and would recommend that you give it a try. Definitely worth the watch.

You’ve been Tinderised

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For as long as the earth has been revolving on its’ axis, human beings have been concerned with the survival of their species. Make fire, hunt for food, breathe in oxygen, and find someone to reproduce offspring with. As centuries have gone by we have refined how we do it, but we are still trying to achieve the same goals as our cave dwelling ancestors were. It might have become a bit classier (OR HAS IT?) but at the end of the day the hunt remains the same.

Men have thankfully changed their tactic from dragging females, or whichever gender they prefer, by the hair to the caves to sending text messages. I’m not sure but I think it might be an improvement. I honestly sometimes wonder if men were as crude in handwritten letters as they are in text messages?(Guys, don’t comment at the end of this with the usual “that is an unfair generalization” in the tone of a two year old – just replace “man” with “woman” whenever you want to).

The dating scene has changed radically. The way we approach each other is so different. It is sad, because old school courting has a certain level of appeal than meeting up in a club simply does not possess. Sure, females are more enlightened (YES and IMPORTANT) but it really feels like the men have just given up – and yes, I can predict the amount of flak I’m going to get for some of the things I’m bitching about in here.

To make things easier, modern humans are able to do online dating. The stigma that has always been associated with it is gone, people freely share their stories and are only too happy to tell you if they’ve met their partner through a dating site, clearly implying that you might also be just as lucky to meet someone.

Here is what they don’t tell you. They tell you that it is completely okay to be on a dating website, and it is, but they omit how incredibly awkward things can get. It is a weird business, this online dating.

I’ve been on Tinder for a couple of months now and I’m still a bit freaked by it all. Tinder is a pretty decent site from what I’ve been told of other sites. Let’s just say that makes me worry about the other sites.

The Tinder rules are easy – aswipe to the left is a no and a swipe to the right is yes. Very simple. But not so simple. Are you being too picky? Are you being not picky enough? What’s the benchmark? I usually swipe right if I know I’ll check you out in real life too. Because call me superficial, but physical attraction is a real thing and it needs to be factored in.

The categories of the Tinder men:

  • The pervert. Yes. Let’s start with you. You first start your messages with “Hey Sexy”. I bet it took you fifty years to think of that one. You then proceed to be overly sexual and disgusting. Is a bit of decency too much to ask? Where is your mother? Does she know what you say to women? You usually then proceed to go all John Wayne Gacey and I’m convinced you are standing outside my window, happily stroking… your moustache. I swear if I hear the question “What do you wear under a lab coat?” one more time, I might get an aneurysm. What do you think? That I’m nude? Bitch, I’m layering as much as clothes possible between me and resistant bacterial strains. And Mr. Sandton, thank you for texting me “DTF?, I’m at the Hilton”, because I Googled that shit and I now even know what DTF means.
  • Mr. Aggressive. Clearly someone kept all the wrong things from the Neanderthal because you still think that women like being “threatened”. If you say “you will listen to me”; “you MUST talk to me” and “so you think you can ignore me” before we’ve even met, brother, you done.
  • I’m so damaged: Oh this one has either been hurt by a girl, his family or his coworkers, but the need for a mother figure is very strong in his life.
  • The “I’m actually really really cool” guy with sunglasses in most of his pictures. If you so cool, why are you still single?
  • Mr. Desperado We are all looking for someone here, but don’t do WHAT DO YOU WANT IN A MAN or WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM TINDER in .45 seconds from our first contact. Also, don’t even try “I love you” when we haven’t even met. What is WRONG with you?
  • The one with the cheesy status:Literally saw this one: “I was watching an ad the other day of a couple and realized that is what I want for me” WTFFFFF
  • THE ONE WHO IS IN A RELATIONSHIP What the ever loving fuck is wrong with you?!?!?!!?

So, is it even worth it?

I really think it is. Despite the 50 totally useless scumbags, there are a few guys that appear relatively decent. Some of the guys I’ve been speaking to for a while has impressed me because I really thought that some of them were duds and they proved me wrong. Not everyone you are sure you will like will be likeable but not everyone that you thought would suck will turn out sucky. The point is, you have to try. If you are like me and not a social butterfly in large crowds, you need an avenue where you can let people see who you are without having to actual talking. It takes some courage and a lot of sense, but you can do it.

What Tinder has taught me:

It is okay to have rules and boundaries. Why are women conditioned in society to automatically doubt their sixth sense about creeps? I’ve realized that if he sounds creepy, walk away, because he probably really is creepy.

You can say no. Repeat after me: “NO”. There we go!

It can be soothing on a really superficial level. SIXTY men liked my profile in the last hour? GO ME, GO ME, GO ME.

I can stand up for myself. This surprised me. I will share the full story at a later stage, but this one incident of declaring that no-one treats me in a certain way was one of the best moments in my entire life.

Some rules:

If you like the person, move them over to Whatsapp. It is much easier to talk to people there.

Trust your intuition. Believe me, it’s rarely wrong. If the guy seems off, he usually is.

However, don’t be overly paranoid. Tinder is based on Facebook profiles and while I don’t claim that Facebook only has respectable users, it does add a bit of authenticity. But like I said, use that very powerful gut feeling on when to walk away and when to stay and take a chance.

There will be a lot of failed conversations, ignored messages, inappropriate content. Just remember your barriers and keep your chin up. Believe me, there will always be some other guy.

Eventually you must meet in person. Because virtual relationships aren’t real, so go out, meet the guy, be awkward and learn how to go on dates. That is the whole point of things, isn’t it?

Some tips:

Be yourself. No use pretending, ensnaring the man with your imaginary wiles and then you aren’t the cool chick you pretended to be.

Make conversation, not polite howdy do’s. Be your fun loving self and be honest. Volunteer information and keep the conversation ongoing. Check for mutual likes or dislikes and figure out what you have in common. Lately I don’t even enter the “Hey, WUD” stuff, because 1) if you can’t type out What Are You Doing you obviously don’t have the time to talk to me and 2) I’d much rather prefer to talk to someone that makes me laugh with an obviously designed pickup line. Duh.

So give me some feedback here below! I would love to hear if you’ve been on Tinder and what your opinion is on it.

Book Review: Me Before You (JoJo Moyes)

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Plot: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time

Rating: 7.5/10

I purchased this book for the sole reason of knowing who dies when the film comes out (if anyone dies, to be more correct). I really wouldn’t walk away from the film just because of it, but it is better to be prepared than to suffer from shock in an audience.

 What I liked:

  • The book isn’t soppy. I was expecting something in the line of The Notebook or a Walk to Remember, and it couldn’t have been more different. I’m not saying that there aren’t moments that make you rub your heart because of the sudden surge of pain shooting through it, but for the most part the author steers clear of cheap manipulative tricks.
  • The book reads really fast and easily.
  • It is pretty realistic – never once does anyone pretend that Will Traynor can be cured of being a quadriplegic, and they don’t even hint that there is some miracle treatment because there isn’t.
  • SPOILER TERRIROTY: The book touches a lot on whether we have the right to force someone to live. I would say that it is the main theme of the book, and that romance is the second, but falls far behind what is really addressed in this novel. It is a really dark concept, but forcing a clear headed person who isn’t suffering from a mental illness to live in a state that is a shadow of their former selves seems incredibly cruel and selfish. There will be so many people that will say they are completely against assisted suicide and I used to be one of them, but things change when you’ve seen someone you love die of a dreaded disease and who had become a mere ghost of the person they once were. I guess that is why I had some sympathy with what Will Traynor wanted to do – he was one of the most adventure seeking men out there and he became someone that couldn’t even feed himself – that is a long way to fall in my opinion.
  • The author has been compared in some articles to Marian Keyes, and I just don’t think so. Both authors have their merits, but just because two people write about British and Irish characters doesn’t mean that they even cover the same material. REMOTELY.
  • The book isn’t overly littered with medical terms, you just understand the severity of Will’s condition and the complications that come with it.

What I didn’t like:

  • I take it that the book takes place in England – I don’t think the country was actually ever mentioned, and I couldn’t place the characters.
  • Louisa – in the beginning her main attribute is that she is Why do women in books even have to be nice anymore? Haven’t we progressed 66 years from 1950? Naturally she improves throughout the book and experience the most character development, but it is a damn shame that she is so flipping nice.
  • Peter. What.a.loser.

Me Before You is thought provoking. It is sad and wonderful and full of emotion, and once the book starts progressing, it is really hard to put it down and walk away. I will move on to read its’ sequel soon, and I am really excited what it might hold. As always, I will keep you up to date!

Have you read Me Before You? What did you think?

Book Review: Sacred Sins (Nora Roberts)

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Plot: n the lazy days of summer, a merciless heat wave is the biggest story in Washington, D.C. But the weather is knocked off the front pages when a young woman is found strangled to death. A note left behind reads Her sins are forgiven her.

Two more victims soon follow, and suddenly every headline is devoted to the killer the press has dubbed “the Priest.” When the police ask top-notch psychiatrist Dr. Tess Court to help with their investigation, she comes up with a disturbing portrait of a twisted soul.

Detective Ben Paris doesn’t give a damn about the killer’s psyche. What he can’t easily dismiss is Tess. Tall, dark, and good-looking, Ben has a legendary reputation with women, but the coolly elegant Tess doesn’t react to him like other women he’s known — and he finds the challenge enticing.

Now, as the two are thrown together in a perilous quest to stop a serial killer, the flame of white-hot passion flares. But someone also has his eyes on the beautiful blond doctor … and Ben can only pray that if the madman strikes, he’ll be able to stop him before it’s too late….

Rating: 6/10

Yep, another improper title that makes you wonder what exactly is going to go down in this book. I swear, if Roberts only had better titles she would get more conservative readers on her side, because then they wouldn’t think her books are porn. That is what kept me steering clear from this particular novel for some time – I thought it was from her Mills and Boon days.

The book is okay. I had major issues with the waving–the-white-flag end, but otherwise I enjoyed it. I even had a few chills about the serial killer – the Priest – his sections were chilling and his stalking of Theresa made me check if my windows were sealed shut. I even enjoyed the –sigh- cop – hero, who managed to be entertaining but not terribly layered.

The book had a good amount of chills and a surprisingly little amount of cheese and improbable romantic gestures. I enjoyed the vibes around the police station and the interaction between COP and BEST COP FRIEND. (I forgot both their names at this point). I just hated the end – no drama and really the equivalent of the widely hated end Breaking Dawn provided.

If you can get over wimpy ends and typecast characters, then read this book. Else, there are much better Nora Roberts books to pick from.

Series Review: Sons of Anarchy (Season One)

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I decided to watch Sons of Anarchy on a recommendation from my sister – she claimed it was very violent and serious, but good. My friend Zoë’s opinion was that the show had good moments, but ultimately could lead to a fail. I decided to try it out, to break up the absorption I have in my reading challenge, and I am still not certain how I feel about it. It is good, but not as violent as I thought it would be (there certainly are moments that are gruesome) and serious (that is certain). It is really intense – no dozing off while watching. My basic conclusion is that it is a show written for men, and well done so.

Background

The Sons of Anarchy is an outlaw motorcycle club. The show focuses on its original chapter, Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original (SAMCRO). SAMCRO is stationed in Charming, California. Their clubhouse is next to the Teller-Morrow mechanic shop.

The club is led by Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) and Jackson Teller (Charlie Hunnam), respectively the President and Vice-President. The club protects Charming with their vigilante justice, which includes bribery and intimidation. They are very dedicated to keep the hard drugs, and their drug dealers, out of Charming.

What happens?

At the beginning of the season, SAMCRO’s gun warehouse is torched by the Mayans, a rival gang. They also steal the guns in the warehouse. Joaquin County Sheriff Trammel (Glen Plummer) finds the bodies of two dead illegal immigrants. Jackson Teller’s, VP of the club, wife Wendy (Drea deMatteo) collapses after a crank injection. Their son is born ten weeks premature, with a heart and liver defect. They name him Abel.

Jax finds a manifesto that his father, a founding member of SAMCRO, wrote about the club as he collects some baby clothes at the storage unit. He is tormented by the thoughts that the club is becoming something completely different from what the original members planned.

At the hospital, Wendy overdoses on crank after Gemma (Katey Sagal) tells her Abel will never call her mother. She is saved, and goes into rehab. A high school sweetheart of Jax, Tara (Maggie Siff), is a doctor there and suspects Gemma’s involvement in Wendy’s overdose. There is no love lost between Tara and Jax’s mother, as Gemma hates Tara for dumping Jax eleven years ago to study medicine and get out of Charming.

Tara receives a phone call from an ex-boyfriend – ATF agent Josh Kohn (Jay Karness), who she has a restraining order against. He shows up in Charming to investigate SAMCROs criminal activities, but Deputy Chief Hale (Tayler Sheridan) realizes that he took extended vacation from ATF, and is there on his own agenda.

The SOA head to patch over the Devil’s Tribe Motorcycle Club. Previously, Prospect Half Sack (Johnny Lewis) commented on how attractive Gemma, Clay’s wife is. To get back at him, Clay sleeps with a girl named Cherry (Taryn Manning), who actually likes Half Sack. Kohn trails the SOA and sees them in a shootout with the Mayans. Tara receives images of Jax and another girl’s lovemaking, and deduces that Kohn is behind it.

Clay is arrested after a triple homicide where SOA guns were used. Gemma ends up behind the bars as well when she hits Cherry with a skateboard for sleeping with Clay. Tara tells Jax that she is being stalked by the ATF agent, and that is why he is in town. Jax damages Kohn’s car, and eventually throws him through a parlor window. The shop’s owner covers for Jax by saying that he only retaliated after Kohn stabbed him with scissors. Kohn is arrested for breaking his parole, but returns to Tara’s house and attacks her. She manages to shoot him and calls Jax, who kills him when he calls Tara a “biker slut”. They sleep together with the dead body in the room, and afterwards Jax burns his corpse. He tries to burn his father’s manifest, but saves it from the fire.

After his return from prison, Opie’s (Ryan Hurst) life at home is shaky. He returns to work for the club to save his family from losing their house. He is commissioned to kill someone in a favor for the IRA, but when he isn’t able to perform the assassination, Bobby (Mark Boone Jnr) kills the man. There is a witness, and Bobby is arrested. The club thinks Opie turned against them, but he is actually being kept captive by ATF agent Stahl (Ally Walker), who hates the club. She tries to make it look like he is the rat. He is released from prison, and Clay and Tig pretend to believe his innocence, knowing that Jax will revolt if they dare hurt Opie. Police Chief Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) tells Clay that Opie is innocent, but Tig (Kim Coates) is already on the way to go kill him. He ends up killing Donna (Sprague Grayden), Opie’s wife, who was using his truck at the time.

Clay makes it look like a gang related attack, but Deputy Chief Hale tells Jax that Agent Stahl from the ATF set Opie up. Jax realizes that Clay is behind the shooting. Tig, Happy and Chibs find the real witness, and Tig wants to kill her, but Jax shows up, threatens her, and sends her out of California. Jax is angry and unhappy to remain at the club under Clay’s rule, knowing now that he is immoral.

Rating: 6/10

Season One was good, but it really isn’t as good as season two. If I hadn’t watched the second season, I might have mentioned that it isn’t addictive. It is very addictive. Season one is still good though. Very serious, but a solid back story provides basis for a plausible tale.

The best character portrayal definitely goes to Katey Sagal, who plays Gemma Teller-Morrow. She is fiercely intense, and I would hide under the counter if I ever met someone like her. Her devotion to the club is unshakable, and she plays the part of domineering mother to the hilt. The only other show I have seen her in was in 8 Simple rules for dating my Teenage daughter, and even though she played a mom there as well, she went a completely different direction with Gemma. She really did well.

The story hosts a compelling mix of drama, violence, humor and love. The character whose love relationships are explored the most is Jax Teller. Perhaps the most significant form is when he becomes a new father to a seriously ill baby. He obviously isn’t ready to be a father, but it is interesting to see where he starts to develop a sense of duty.

The relationship between Jax and Tara was surprisingly well done. It showed real issues – the fact that they are of completely different social classes, and that she saves human lives, and he is responsible for destroying it. I found the love making scene with the dead Kohn in the room completely nauseating. It was so macabre. I sometimes just want to message him and to keep his pants zipped.

My love-hate relationship towards Clay turned to hate-hate when he ordered the hit on Opie, and got Donna murdered. Yes, he thought Opie was a rat, but couldn’t he make absolutely sure before being so willing to take out one of “the club”? Tig is also such an ass. He is this perverted, messed up man, and has a nasty temper. I just hope Jax pops him one soon. Really, I do.

Opie may be my favorite character of the show. He is this sad, calm, sweet man who loves his wife and kids, got imprisoned because of a fellow member’s mistake, kept his mouth shut about his club, and even then he still doesn’t rise (or barely does) to his wife’s anger. I have to sympathize with Donna – I would have left long ago. At the end I was cheering for her because she turned around and chose him above the ATF. And then Tig killed her. Naturally I hate Tig now.

Another thing mentioning is my appreciation to their attention to detail. The jackets with all their different patches fascinated me enough so that I went and researched what it all means. It is a really decent read, and I suggest you do so if you plan to watch the series.

It really is a good show. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are susceptible to violence. I would mostly recommend it as solid watching material to guys.