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.

One day

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.

Eclipse

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!

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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.

Drive

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.

Nocturnal animals

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?

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Watched, Read, loved: March 2017

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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.

Power rangers

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.

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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: Southpaw (2015)

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Plot: As tragedy strikes him in his prime, famed boxer, Billy Hope, begins to fall into a great depression. Once the decision regarding the custody of his daughter is under question, Billy decides to get his life back on track by getting back into the ring.

Rating: 7/10

You know those actors you dislike for no reason whatsoever? It isn’t based on their acting ability or the movies they’ve been in, it really is just because because. Their face? Their voice? No idea, but they make you itch on mere sight. Jake Gyllenhaal is that for me. I feel his eyes are too close and his surname is difficult to spell. He’s also related to a woman named Maggie, which may or may not be the real reason. He also freaked me out to no end in Donnie Darko. My point here is that I generally tend to avoid him at all costs, and it really isn’t because of his acting abilities.

Checking out Southpaw was thus a highly questionable venture as Gyllenhaal is the main character. About five minutes in I was engrossed and the film made me sweat bullets. Is that accurate to use here? Southpaw uses some cheap tricks for tears or to get their audience emosh, but it works. I was so involved and rooting for Billy Hope that I couldn’t care less if my favorite-actor-to-hate was in fact Billy Hope. It is your typical rags to riches to rags to riches again, you do get the expected training montage with Eminem blasting at the background, you do get a slick manager who is shady as hell, you do get your trainer that lifts your hero from the ground.

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Is it exhausting because we’ve seen this a thousand times? I don’t know about the other people, but I was just as invested in Billy’s crusade as I was with Rocky Balboa’s. Maybe I’m easily influenced and a bit of a softie, but I was there in the ring with him. I enjoy boxing movies and sport movies in general, so I guess I was programmed to appreciate this. I liked the soundtrack, it is satisfactorily badass. 50 Cent is about the only cast member who isn’t an above par actor, and since he’s cool (and I’m a little bit afraid of him), I didn’t have any issues particularly.

Gylllenhaal does a good job portraying a man that has clawed himself out of the foster care system and built himself an empire. It can’t be easy as I’m pretty sure he’s been privileged his entire life – being nasty again – but there is a roughness to the character that can only come from a life on the wrong side of the tracks.

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Rachel McAdams manages the same feat as Maureen, Billy’s wife. There was careful consideration to her character. I don’t know how to explain it, but the outfits she wears tells that she grew up somewhere else than her current life might indicate. Maureen was a wonderful character. I enjoy Rachel McAdams, but let’s face it, she doesn’t have many roles that aren’t catered to her Southern Belle persona. Maureen isn’t a southern belle, she’s a beautiful woman who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and managed to build her life up with the man she loves. She’s an excellent wife and mother and the center in Billy’s world.

Oona Laurence completes the Hope family as the geeky and sweet child of Billy and Maureen. She was adorable, not irritating as a character and a huge asset to the team. She made Billy’s struggles that much more legitimate and made everyone root all the more for him. She kept tight control of her role for the duration of the film and remained convincing to the very end.

I would have loved to see more of Forest Whitaker’s character. He’s a fantastic actor and taking on the role of Tick Wills couldn’t have been the most challenging role he’s ever done, and yet he did it with a level of experience that had you wondering who Tick was and what is it that made him train those boys in the gym so hard.

Southpaw is saved from being yet another boxing movie by outstanding performances by its’ cast, good costume work and directing and a badass sound track. I eventually deducted one point because it really is emotional abuse what I went through, but I am really pleased I sat through it.

Have you seen Southpaw? Tell me in the comments below!

#100HappyDays ROUND 2: Days 11-20

Hey Everybody!I’m back today with my latest update on #100HappyDays. It is going quite well at the moment with this challenge, although I really am stretching at times to find something specific to photograph and record. Of all the skills I possess, I have to say that photography is not one of them. It is such an enviable trait, but alas, not for me. Anyway, here is my rundown of what went down in days 11 – 2011

Day 11: The humor in Harry Potter is so fine. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the antics of Ronald Weasley in The Half-Blood Prince. Gosh, I’m having such a great time working through these books again!

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Day 12: I’ve been having some really bad toothache lately and finally forced myself to go to the dentist. I have a pathological fear of them since on broke a tooth in my mouth as a teen and had to extract it twice. The news was not good, and I will have to return. I vented my irritation out in the shops, and at least got myself a nice new toothbrush and toothpaste for sensitive teeth. That sentence there is some insight into the joys of getting old, kiddos. I also bought L’Oreal’s Extraordinary oil, and it is the best hair treatment I’ve ever used at home. Thoroughly impressed!

1314Day 14: I bought Stars of Fortune for R60 bucks on a sale. I’ve been somewhat avoiding this book, sure it would be on the same (bad) level as the Dark Witch series. I am enjoying the last of the three books in The Guardians Trilogy now, and I’m still having the greatest time.

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Day 15: I went out for sushi with my sister. It was so delicious!16

Day 16: I have such love for this doggo. She’s the best and I love spending time with her.

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Day 17: Everyone celebrated International Women’s Day and naturally I was game. I do feel the need to mention though that the plight of the female empowerment should not be an activity for one day, but for 365 days per year.

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Day 18: I’ve been having a real little sulk after finishing Daredevil. I want more, and I want it now. So I essentially forced myself to watch a film, and chose Southpaw. I’m really against Gyllenhaal as a general rule – don’t ask me why, he’s just irritating, but I really enjoyed the film and will send my bill for emotional trauma to the director. 19

Day 19: I really usually do eat a large amount of junk. In a desperate determination to not go up a dress size, I’ve gone cold turkey on all things carb and junk related. I’m actually doing really good right now, and celebrated reaching the end of the week by not eating an entire slab of chocolate and grabbing biltong instead. It was delicious!20

Day 20: I confess that this is one of the times where I really didn’t have a pic ready. We spent some time together as a family and it was really enjoyable.

There you go. Till next time friends!