Watched, Read, Loved: November and December 2017 and a (belated) happy new year!

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Happy New Year dear friends! The past two months have been whirlwinds! I’ve forgotten how to even blog, and I will be super surprised if my WordPress account actually allows me to log me back in.

Needless to say, it has been hectic – when is it ever not though? I finally completed my degree. I always imagined how it would feel getting that notification, and nothing came close to it because hyperventilation was the prevalent feeling – this panicked excitement and too much happy. I’ve also subsequently been promoted, so November and December were interviews and crazed stress. January is all about settling in to my new role and getting my replacement into her new role, so I can promise some extra crazy moments around the office.

We had my sister’s babyshower, and it was a wonderful day. She’s had some scares with her pregnancy, but I am happy to report that her baby girl is now happy and on her way at the end of January. The day of the babyshower was extremely hot! (It was after all December in South-Africa). We made way too much food but had a lovely time celebrating. If I may say so myself – I can organize an event! 😀

I also managed to have some recreational fun. We went to Sun City in Rustenburg, South-Africa. It has a “sea” and it was a fun day away from Johannesburg. (Also an international five star resort, and looks like the intro to Jurassic Park) However, if I ever go again, I will stay the night. The drive back was straight from a horror movie.

We also went to The Garden of Lights, annually hosted by Emperor’s Casino. It was nothing like I imagined it would be – so charming and gorgeous. It is definitely something I will revisit in the years to come.

Another nice day was visiting the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. They are so wonderfully green now and it was therapeutic strolling between the plants.

I went on another Tinder date. It’s actually a recurring event with this one guy. I just don’t know what to make of the situation at this stage. I’m sure he’ll make a decent boyfriend, I’m just not sure if he will make one for me. I also went to another singles event, which was really nice. However, the people that attend persistently do good in short bursts but later just fade into the background.

It seems too few paragraphs to describe the past few months. I feel like my life has expanded and grown, and you won’t hear from me that 2017 was a bad year. It was a pretty good year for me. I’m extremely grateful how much I’ve managed to achieved, and hopeful that I will reach some major milestones this year – which I’m keeping secret for now, but the moment they happen I will let you know.

I only have one “resolution” this year, and that is to use less plastic. Plastic consumption in South-Africa is pretty bad, and I am also a culprit. The government implemented costs on plastic bags a few years ago, but as it is still only about 20 cents a bag there hasn’t been a lessening in the staggering plastic consumption in South Africa. So I am planning to take a woven bag with me from now on and to pack my groceries in there when I shop, so as to help in a small way save this planet of ours.

Well, here is a rundown of my entertainment adventures below. Let me know your opinions! (Sitting on a thousand unread personal emails, so I might have missed some really important moments)

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The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). Hmm. There are so many strong feelings about this film currently on the internet.  Let me tell you, my feelings were strong after exiting the cinema. I’ve mellowed some, but I am not a fan of this film. I need to write a proper review for it, and I will save my commentary for then.

Pitch Perfect 3

Pitch Perfect 3 (2017): These amazing ladies have decided to exit while they are on top. I enjoyed this film so much. It is such silly humour and can be pretty darn vulgar, but at the same time it does my heart good to see female driven comedies shine on their own.

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PS I Love You: Gerard Butler, my pants were on fire. I like this film, despite fully knowing so many people hate it.

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Lego Batman (2017): What a smart, funny, dialogue savvy film. The best Lego movie and one of the finest DC movies.

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Fifty First Dates: I remember loving this film as a child, and eagerly ordered the DVD when I stumbled upon it. It’s still good – a strange mix of Adam Sandler’s best and worst sides. I can at least let my Adam Sandler movies I actually like list grow to three – The Wedding Singer, Mona Lisa smile and Fifty First Dates. The rest remain garbage though.

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Lethal Weapon 3 – I got the third and the fourth movie to watch after Zoe and I watched the first two. I had a great time with this one as well, and the three movies I’ve seen are all equally good. How looky was Mel Gibson before he became the bitter old white man?

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Grease – It really seems unnatural the way John Travolta’s hips move in this film. How young was he?! How young was Olivia Newton John?! Had a lot of fun watching Grease, but it is undeniably a long film.

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Sy Klink Soos Lente – I got in my Afrikaans fix twice in films the past few months. Both (the second below) made me so happy and proud of my language and what we are achieving in cinema. Sy Klink Soos Lente is funny, smart and sweet, and I have watched it once more since the first time.

Vir die Voels

Vir Die Voëls – Same as the above. The writing is significantly better than most South-African films, and there is an awareness of dialogue in both these films that impressed me. It’s not just words, it is how Afrikaans people speak. I will definitely sit down for this again!

Eat Pray Love – I grabbed this off the shelf for something to watch with my mom. I’ve always liked this film, but this time around I found myself slightly irritated with the level of first world problems the character experiences – it’s just so much easier to have a midlife tantrum when you can travel the world. Javier Bardem in this remains gorgeous.

The lord of the rings

The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King: My heart. I am so attached to these films. They are everything. I actually don’t want to review them – how to bring justice to some of the best films ever made? My heart.

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Justice League – Yep, seemed to have done this in November/December too! To be perfectly honest I enjoyed this more than – gasp – Star Wars. It is definitely one of the better offerings from DC.

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The Italian Job (2003) – Another Blindspot off my list! This went okay, just not a favourite Blindspot this year.

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Zoë got me the best Christmas gift EVER – all the way from England (I’m still naive enough to get such a massive kick from an international shipment). DOWNTON ABBEY BOXSET!!!!! I cannot describe my intense love for this show – it is simply so wonderful. I am already on to season two, and the sarcastic remarks, the amazing running commentary of the Dowager Countess, and the unbearably lovely Matthew Crawley (SOB) keeps my so entertained my pinkie is going to shoot in to the air anytime soon.

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I actually have read way too much to even remember. I am still busy with Under Rose Tainted Skies – it’s good, just very angsty. I’ll finish it soon and tell you all about it, but teenagers are generally difficult to deal with and this one even more so. I am currently devouring Marian Keyes’ This Charming Man, arguably my most favourite read of hers. It’s written so well and flows through the course of the story easily. I also revisited Laurian Clemence’s Mushy Peas on Toast, one of my favourite South-African reads ever, and consumed an unhealthy amount of Nora Roberts. Nora is a spiral – I will read so much of her and then not look at another author for ages, which is lazy and unhealthy on my part. I know I read the two books in the Stanislaski brothers again – which I enjoy despite my opinion on Ukranians not quite matching Nora’s, I also read one of the MacKade books (Return of Jared MacKade), and revisited the Guardians Trilogy. I also read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them (the original book, not the play, which I avoid on principle), and this makes me in the mood for Harry Potter, a complete reread. Who knows, maybe I will even watch the movies as a series. I am also in the mood to read Eat, Pray, Love again by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s the True North of my love of her books, and I’d like to experience it all over again.

What were you up to this festive season? Let me know!

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Movie Review: Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall poster

Plot: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. Whilst MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

Rating: 8/10

CONTAINS SPOILERS

It’s going to be really silly to say again that I love Daniel Craig as James Bond, because I do, but I mention it every time. Anyway, the man is so prime you know? The eyes, the attitude, the suits. Skyfall introduces a broken Bond – he’s simply lived too long and seen too much at this point, and it is catching up with him in a bad day. For him a close call with death is in his daily routine, but after being shot by Moneypenny, he allows himself to be presumed dead for a few months to give himself some time to recover, and only returns when there is big drama in England and his loyalty to his country forces him too.

M is as enigmatic as ever, a power clad iron lady that rules the secret service. The relationship between Bond and M is fascinating, alternating between a very twisted mother and son dynamic, a questionable work relationship and a long standing friendship.

The death of M and Bond’s reaction was a really hard blow to stomach – they had a complex and interesting relationship, one of the few that lasted in Bond’s life. I loved M – especially because it is Judi Dench and only an actress of her capability could have shown so effectively that she would always remember her role to put her country first, and her humanity second – the hard choices she had to make with both Silva and Bond clearly highlighted that.

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I really friggin loved Eve Moneypenny. She is so smart and the banter between her and Bond is good for the soul. Naomi Harris was an excellent choice for the role – intelligent, uber British, sassy and pretty.

Then there is the incomparable Ralph Fiennes. I love the man – he has such a diversity to anything he does and he is simply incapable of being in a mediocre role, simply because of his capability to make everything he does exceptional. I loved him as the good voice of reasonable reason – he wasn’t being a tool and underhanded for personal gain, he was simply doing his job and dealing with the fallout of a failed mission.

Daniel Craig;Javier Bardem

Javier Bardem joined Mads Mikkelson as some of the better (excellent) villains of the Craig era of Bond. He was an impressive villain, and gave way to one of the creepiest scenes in the film. The blonde hair is still the worst decision for him ever, but it suited the creepiness of the character. I also really liked the angle that Raoul Silva was an ex CIA operative and the reasons behind his vengeful quest, as well as how eerily calm he was. The method to his villainy incorporated the new modern technology its reach of power.

Ben Whishaw as Q was ridiculously cute. He had this nerdy confidence based on that while Bond would do well in the field, he was the guy making it all work out behind the scenes. He is VERY adorable in that nerdy way, not in a Bond way, but still good. The incorporation of Mallory, Eve Moneypenny and Q seemed nearly seamless in execution, without it being rushed or forced.

Anyway, that is it from me – Skyfall is worth the watch and great entertainment. It is Bond, but not Bond – women have been treated increasingly less as objects in the Craig era, and that is something that can definitely be attributed to Daniel Craig himself, a staunch feminist that has had issues that side with Bond since the start. It shows in Skyfall, where the leading women are Moneypenny and M, and both are equal and perhaps even superior to Bond himself. For that I can simply salute this film!

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Ultimate Transformations – the actors who really took their jobs seriously – PART 1

Happy Friday everyone!

I’ve been thinking a while now about putting a post up like this. There are likely ten million of these floating around, but it was so much fun (for me) putting up a post that explored the actors and actresses who made incredible changes for their roles. Let me know what you think!

Manu Bennett

Manu Bennet

  1. Manu Bennett as Azog the Defiler

This is more about CGI than anything else, but it is still disconcerting to see the very attractive Deathstroke (Arrow) become so very unattractive. Azog was truly gross and something The Hobbit franchise created disgustingly well (despite its many flaws!)

2. Tom Hardy as many of the characters he chooses to portray

Ah, Tom. He is as talented as he is beautiful, but he has no issues in becoming very intense and doing massive body changes for a role when needs be.

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Tom Hardy in Bronson – I haven’t even seen this. I’ve heard more than once that this film is pretty gross, hence the avoidance. I mean, look at it.

Bane

Tom Hardy as Bane, The Dark Knight Rises

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Tom Hardy in Star Trek – I can’t even!

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3. Chris Hemsworth

Yep, you KNEW I would go here. Chris tapped into some serious muscle power to become Thor, but even though it broke my heart, he’s turnaround for Into the Sea was even more frightening impressive.

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4. Benedict Cumberbatch in Zoolander 2

Yep, it happened.

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5. Javier Bardem – Skyfall

*sobs uncontrollably* There are a few hair colors Bardem must never use. Like blonde.

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Good Bardem,

bad bardem

Bad Bardem

6. Christian Bale, who ties with Tom Hardy as the most insane with body transformations

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The cast of 'American Hustle' filming

Bale as Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle

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Bale as Trevor Reznik in the Machinist – this is actually really painful to even look at! 😦

There we go for this round! I’ll put up another one at a later stage – it continues to be amazing (and terrifying) the extent these actors will go to to look the part, especially with the current technology where pretty much anything can be created.

What did you think? Which actor has gone the greatest length in your opinion?

Double Review: Eat, Pray Love

Book and Movie Review: Similarities, and which one won

Book: 56/100

The condensed version of what happens:

After Elizabeth Gilbert finally divorces her husband after years of heartache, she is emotionally drained and is suffering from severe depression. Her relationship after her divorce with a man named David also goes off, and she knows she needs to restore her balance somehow. She found faith through David – Hinduism.

Elizabeth has three wishes to fulfill her life: To visit Italy to learn to enjoy life again and speak the language that has always fascinated her, to visit India and go to the Ashram of her Guru, and to go to Bali in Indonesia to find a balance between her spiritual life and pleasure.

After the divorce, Elizabeth is broke. An unexpected miracle happens and she is able to make plans to visit the three countries within a year: Italy first, then India, and lastly Bali. Each visit will take four months.

In Italy Elizabeth visits the finest Italian restaurants, and truly enjoys the food, the people and their culture. She starts her healing process here, only focusing on the enjoyment of life. Her nature enables her to make friends easily, and most notably she becomes friends with Luca Spaghetti (obviously Italian) and Sophie, a lovely Swedish girl.

In India, Liz starts to become a true Yogic devotee, meditating for hours on time. Her struggles with more complex meditations are becomes her battle, and she takes a while to understand why it is so necessary. She makes a Texan friend, Richard, and he helps her makes peace with the memory of her husband and the divorce, and also parts of herself.

In Indonesia, Bali, Liz studies with Ketut, an old Balinese medicine man. In exchange for English lessons, he teaches her how to be more spiritual. She also meets Wayan, another healer. They become best friends in Bali. Through Wayan, Liz ends up at a party hosted by Felipe, a Brazilian expat who also went through a divorce. Liz and Felipe starts seeing each other, attracted by their similar pasts, their chemistry, and the way they now approach life.

Will Liz and Felipe manage to keep their relationship working when they are supposed to live in different parts of the world?

Rating: 8.5/10

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The lengthy reasons why I really loved this book:

Firstly, the book is superbly written. The writing is of such a high standard, and it is obvious that the writer is well trained in her art.

EPL is a book that manages to bridge a gap between two types of books I never read – self-help and autobiographies. Both of these irritate me senseless because 1) I am quite able to fix myself and 2) you are not so overly interesting that I want to read about your life. EPL, however, is a good bridge between the two. Elizabeth Gilbert’s life has been one of incredible privileges, but also unthinkable sadness. She makes you understand that divorce rips you apart, and take ages to recover from. She describes her journey to recovery to you in a way that makes it seem possible that you too can recover from any depression in her lives.

The self-help part of the book isn’t enforced in the obvious way that it is normally done. Your beliefs and the way you perceive the world happens automatically when you read through her tale. It isn’t something you can help, or something she insists on, but rather something that is a very natural step by reading such a thought provoking book.

I love how she refers to everyone in the book as “my friend”. It makes me sense the overall politeness of her character, and that she will accept you no matter what.

The book made me interested in other peoples’ cultures and beliefs. Living in South-Africa, it is a challenge each day to change your mind-set enough to consider someone else’s viewpoint because their traditions and cultures are so much more different from yours. Her travels to Italy, India and Indonesia are full of interesting, wise people with fascinating stories. They are all so different, and all are fascinating. She shares many sad stories too – is it even possible for anyone to become fully connected to the divine without difficult times behind them?

In Italy, I found the search for the perfect meal delightfully acceptable. Her desire to only experience pleasure was gratified here, and she managed to learn other lessons too. There was still so sad about her damaged love life. Italy, it would seem, is the perfect place to recover from its demise.

India is all about the spiritual journey of her year long hiatus. In the Ashram, she cements her Hindu beliefs and starts to learn how to balance her life. What struck me the most is her insistence that she would never state any religion is wrong. I am a fierce believing in the right to choose your religion, and she is definitely part of that belief.

Bali is the place where Elizabeth finds everything she needs – food, friends, spirituality (especially through the wisdom of her friend Ketut, a Balinese healer aged somewhere between sixty and one hundred and twelve)

Elizabeth’s other healer friend Wyan’s tale made me sad. The woman defied her culture by divorcing her abusive husband and getting custody of their daughter, an unknown victory in the patriarchal society of Bali. She still survived, took care of her daughter, adopted two orphans, and made a business of her healing powers. She even managed to stay true to her culture despite defying it – she practices her beliefs devoutly and her work honors it.

On the Bali part, I know now much more of their history than previously. When I thought about the holiday destination before, I thought of the terrorist attacks in 2003, and also about what a beautiful place it is. Now I know that their story runs much deeper, and their peace now is so well deserved after centuries of violence and struggle. Their culture is deep and unexpectedly humorous – they basically name their children First, Second, Third and Fourth. I found this confusing system funny and sweet, and really simple since it makes naming your children not so exhausting like our Westerners’ naming activities get.

Finally, when she finds Felipe, you are happy for her knowing she has someone special again, even though she would have been fine alone for a very long time. Wyan tells Elizabeth that Felipe is a good man outside and inside (of himself), and that is apparently very true. He seems perfectly made for Elizabeth. It is almost as if they experienced the same things in life just so that they, he a Brazilian and she an American would end up in Bali, and find one another.

If I have one complaint about the book, there were a few parts that threatened to become tedious in explanation. However, it was such a little amount of places that I really did not mind in the end.

The Movie (2010)

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Rating: 8/10

Starring:

Julia Roberts (Elizabeth)

Javier Bardem (Felipe)

James Franco (David)

Richard Jenkins (Richard)

Billy Crudup (Steven)

Viola Davis (Delia)

Tuva Novotny (Sofi)

In this case, the book is victorious over the movie. Both are exceptionally done. I am a huge fan of Julia Roberts, and I think she was a wonderful choice for Elizabeth. She fits the physical description perfectly, something that rarely happens in a book-movie adaption.

The male characters were well cast as well. It is enjoyable seeing James Franco act as David, mostly because he plays a lovable yet childish guy. Javier Bardem rocks as Felipe. I think that he is the captures the essence of that character so well – an older gentlemen who has such capacity to love but is still afraid of hurt.

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There were a few changes, naturally. I didn’t mind as much because it simply served to provide a movie within an acceptable timeframe.

The book wins over the movie because the book packs enormous spiritual power, and the movie doesn’t as much. There simply isn’t enough time in one movie to accurately portray the storyline.

My friend Zoe mentioned that she had read somewhere that it is a movie about sunglasses, and I have to confirm it is true. It is the great movie of promoting sunglasses to be honest. The sunglasses rock in Eat Pray Love, turning already hot characters into very, very hot characters. I love the aviators on Julia Roberts, and Javier Bardem looked mighty fine with his as well. The fact is that the storyline encourages sunglasses, because travelers wear sunglasses. A whole lot.

EAT PRAY LOVE

*sunglasses*

I really liked the movie, and I would recommend both the book and it to most people. You might get a bit offended if you aren’t comfortable discussing other religions than your own, but I found it wonderful.