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.

Justice league 2017

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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Blindspot 2017: The Italian Job (2003)

Italian Job Poster

Plot: After being betrayed and left for dead in Italy, Charlie Croker and his team plan an elaborate gold heist against their former ally.

This month is running the risk of churning out very little blog posts. That’s okay. I’d rather post when I’m in the mood versus loading crap because I have some demented sense of responsibility. I sat down to get through this Blindspot entry after my emotional breakdown finishing Spartacus. I can’t even contemplate reviewing it yet, I go into a hulk smash mode whenever I think of it – just ask Zoë. So I am not committing to watching another show right now. I can’t deal with having my heart ripped out of my chest a second time.

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So on to The Italian Job – it was quite okay if a bit forgettable. Mark Whalberg pretends he can act and we let him think he can. Seriously, I’ve always thought of him as Second-Tier Matt Damon. Then Donald Sutherland – what’s the word on him out there? He seems to have been 76 for 76 years; I can neither contemplate him as younger or older than he always seems to be. I’m also not really onboard with saying he’s a fantastic actor – age is not an indicator of talent. President Snow is a top tier thief in The Italian Job, recently on the run from his parole officer, when he meets up again with Charlie (Whalberg), and a Fast and the Furiousesquetype of team of thieves. There’s Jason Statham as Handsome Rob (don’t get why people think he’s handsome – he’s short, angry, and can’t act), then two other guys. Or three other guys. Not sure. They are all introduced in a typical fashion, with flashbacks and quips. Some of the dialogue is quite off, the humor doesn’t always hit the right spot, and it is very easy to forecast the resolution of this film. Homegirl Charlize Theron is the best with acting in the bunch working to find her father’s killer, and she made the movie okay for me. She’s a smart sort in this film, making sure the skills she learned from her nefarious father is turned into a legal and thriving enterprise. Also – really blonde and pretty and completely devoid of her South-African accent.

It seems like an Ocean’s Eleven, without the extreme charm of George Clooney and Brad Pitt to carry it when needs be. The acting and storyline isn’t as solid as it should be either. They rely heavily on the use of Mini Coopers to provide flash, and I guess when the car manufacturer launched again back in 2003 it was a big deal. But shoot me – I don’t see a man driving a mini as significantly manly. The car is so tiny – if you want to rob things just use a big vehicle.

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The Italian job a decent enough heist/thief movie, with the characters as always trying to show you how nice thieves really are. Did I miss the part where the name of the movie links to the content of the movie? Or is it merely because their job in Rome resulted in the death of one of their team members? I can’t really tell, so let me know if you know.

I’ve had such a fantastic list in 2017 so The Italian Job isn’t near to the best I’ve seen, but it is quite enjoyable all the same. You don’t need to think too hard about it, so it was really quite okay to watch with my broken Spartacus and Gannicus’d heart.

Rating: 7/10

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!