Read, Watched, Loved: May 2017

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Hey everybody! This post is going up super late this month – I was happily scheduling away on here and didn’t notice that I still hadn’t put this guy up. So as usual, here’s my monthly rundown (but for May). Let me know what you’ve seen and haven’t seen, and just generally how you are 🙂

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Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017) I don’t think anyone was able to hate this film. It was buckets of fun, and I really have such a soft spot for Baby Groot (who doesn’t?). It is similar to the first film but bigger and more of the formula that worked. The plot wasn’t as solid as the first, but I was able to have a fantastic time regardless of that.

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Pride and Prejudice (2005)I liked this movie so much that when I wanted to initially write a quick blurb for here I ended up writing out the review. It is a wonderful film. I am now convinced I need a Mr. Darcy. He’s difficult and worth it. The adaption is fantastic and the chemistry between the leads is amazing.

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Sweet home Alabama (2002) – I watched this as a young person – maybe at around 21 years or so, and really enjoyed it. I have such love for Reese Witherspoon, she truly is a beautiful and talented woman. Her character has the terrible task of choosing between Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey, and this movie has humor and heart to it.

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Jackie Brown (1997) I watched this for Tom and Mark’s Decades Blogathon.It is one of the few Tarantino films I hadn’t seen as yet, and found it a great pleasure to watch.

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The Host (2013) – I just had to watch this film again to compare source material to it. It is not as unforgivably bad as the internet make it out to be, and I had a rather enjoyable time watching it.

books

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Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice is a slow read, that is no lie, but I enjoyed it so much. It is a wonderful, wonderful book with many events and excellent character development. It also gave me yet another book hero to attach strongly to.

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Three Fates – Nora Roberts: I reviewed this before and seemed to have a good thing to say about it. Strange, because I don’t remember loving it so much. I am having a really good time rereading it again though, it is truly Nora Roberts and some good and light reading.

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The Host – Stephanie Meyer: I’m not sure whether the I was a masochist or just seeking enjoyment without thinking too much about it, but I decided to pick up The Host again. It is okay and certainly better than Meyer’s previous novels. It raises some moral questions and has interesting theories despite some slow parts.

What did you do this month?

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Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

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Plot: Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

Continuing on my slightly unhealthy craze of Pride and Prejudice and all things Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet related, I had to watch this 2005 adaption again. I can’t find a review for it anywhere on my blog, and I know I’ve seen it before – is it possible that I did it pre-blog? I’ll never know!

I had a great time. I remember enjoying it the first time but not really appreciating the ending back then – I think I didn’t get at that stage just how British this story is and how perfect that ending was.

There are a number of changes made, but it was organic– I didn’t feel that it deducted from the story at all. The changes made were done to fit the span of the book into a movie, so a lot of information and pivotal scenes were ignored. As I said it didn’t damage the film much, but the book certainly provides a more comprehensive scope of Darcy’s character and the change Elizabeth was able to inspire in him.

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Matthew MacFadyen is truly a perfect Darcy. He is a wonderful actor, truly being able to convey emotions without saying too much. He is perfectly British and his contained atmosphere and telling outbursts as Mr. Darcy is spot on.

My love/hate relationship with Keira Knightley seems set to continue. The way she has of pulling her mouth frustrates me to no end. But, as I listed here, the fact that she has an annoying mouth does not derive from the fact that she is an accomplished actress. Ms. Bennet is as challenging to a female lead as Mr. Darcy is to a male lead – complex, intelligent characters with the weight of being a beloved classic weighing them down. She manages her role admirably and is a delight as Ms. Bennet, and has sufficient and delightful levels of impertinence that made me love her all the more.

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Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet was a choice that I was not that all that pleased with, but she did her best. There was a desperation to her impression of Jane that I did not enjoy – Jane is shy and sweet natured and a bit too believing in the best of others, but she isn’t a desperate woman. Jenna Malone as Lydia Bennet was a perfect choice – Lydia is really the worst thing, she is a flirting little girl with no sense or morals or particular care for her family. It takes a strong actress to bring that particular disregard to family and tradition to life, and the callousness with which Lydia does it as well. Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet properly emanates that exhaustion Mr.Bennetmust feel from a lifetime with the skittish and irritating Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) – who can’t but help being such an annoying person. I wish I could have seen more of Rupert Friend as Mr. Wickham – he was good on screen but not particularly often on it, which is frustrating as Mr. Wickham is quite important to the events that unfold. I wish I liked Simon Woods as Charles Bingley – he was just too ginger for my idea as Bingley. I did like Kelly Reilly as Caroline Bingley – she was as snobbish and backhanded and mean spirited as her character requires.

I felt similarly in the book – a need to rush through and to get to the end to know everything, but the pacing was slow and careful and makes you subsequently pay a lot more attention. The British countryside is beautiful despite the depressing weather, and the director managed to capture it and incorporate it into this very British movie.

The ending of the film is different to the book only in execution, with the phrases altered slightly but still much the same. It is powerful and touching, and the chemistry between Knightley and MacFayden is through the roof at that very moment. I’ve seen the extended version and the normal version, and the extended is a lot more true to what happens in the book.

I enjoyed this adaption so much. It is a great cast, it is well paced and despite missing some key events it still tells what it needs to tell. Watching this soon again is inevitable. An 8.5/10 for me.

 

Movie Review: Gone Girl (2014)

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IMDb Plot: With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

Rating: 9/10

After spending this past week watching Homeland Season 4 and then Gone Girl, I think my mind has been broken beyond repair. What a phenomenal movie. I am sure it is one of the most unique films out there, and it is definitely one of the best movies of 2014 for me.

Plot development:

I haven’t read the book yet and purposefully kept myself from reading reviews because I didn’t want anything to be spoilt for me. Obviously I had then no idea what was cooking, and not even once did I expect it to go that way. The big reveal was truly a big reveal to me because I’m usually unfortunate enough to figure out the plot twist before it even happens.

Character development

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In what might very be Ben Affleck’s defining movie role, he is the perfect Nick Dunne. He seems so charming and likeable – that guy everyone has to be friends with. Every time you think Nick is responsible behind his wife’s disappearance, you think: “but he’s so nice, could he really do it?”

Here is thus another thing I took from the movie: the crowd helping search for Amy is pretty much me watching the movie – endlessly going back and forth between Nick’s innocence and his guilt.

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Amy Dunne… you are unique. I don’t recall ever finding such a mysterious, well layered female character on the big screen. Why she is the way she is very clear – just imagine if your parents wrote books about the better version of you? If you had to live your entire life knowing that you were rolling in cash because Amazing Amy had provided it? I would probably ended up way more unstable than Amy Dunne. Her clearheaded approach to leaving her husband and his downfall is the eeriest thing I have ever watched. She is clearly at the very least a sociopath (or potential serial killer), but also just sitting and thinking about her childhood and then finding out her husband wants a newer, better version of her doesn’t condone what she did but you get why her character would react like that. Her reaction to being robbed by Jeff and Greta was very significant – that violent screaming that no one would list as a character trait for a pretty, preppy girl. Rosamund Pike was phenomenal – she managed to look the part – pretty, preppy and everything her man wanted, but there was something cold, distant and calculating in her eyes from the very start.

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Tanner Bolt: You two are the most fucked up people I’ve ever met and I deal with fucked up people for a living.

Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt: Perfect, again. Tanner Bolt was the true essence of what it means to be slimy lawyer. He was slick, charming and very comfortable in the spotlight. Yet, his arrogance was not misplaced. He believed his client’s preposterous story gave expert advice and managed to get Nick and Margo out of their prison cells very quickly. I really don’t watch a lot of Tyler Perry’s work, but he was very good in here.

I loved the relationship between Margo and Nick. They acted like siblings do, brutally honest with each other and with no pretense. I appreciated her giving Nick huge amounts of grief for his extramarital affair, his actions and temper.

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Neil Patrick Harris as Desi Collins: He was also good, but I think his performance was the weakest of the cast. However, he did come across as completely obsessed with Amy, and the creepy way he immediately put her in that majestic “cage” the second she had nowhere else to go. The scene where he dies is one of the best death scenes I have seen – it was brutal and horrific and showed you exactly how insane Amy truly is.

Themes and concepts:

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Shows you… no matter how sweet the first kiss is, things can quickly become distasteful. 

Gone Girl is a case study about modern day relationships, particularly marriages, and how two people who once adored each other can end up purposefully setting out to hurt the other. True, it is an extreme case, but it whispers the truth about what is going on behind the perfect doors of suburban life.

I wouldn’t want to spoil this for anyone, so I will be vague and hopefully those who’ve watched it knows what I’m referring to: Eventually I had this strange and grudging respect for the one character and the other one had a horrible situation but I still felt that the person was wrong and nothing could be done to fix a morally broken character.

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If you have been branded guilty by the media, you don’t stand a chance. Modern day technology and the full power of social media are well explored in Gone Girl. The obsessive news coverage of Amy’s disappearance and how it was immediately open season on the dissection of Nick’s character is exactly how it is done in real life. Tanner Bolt knew that he had to make his client gain sympathy – or else Nick would not stand a chance. Ellen Abbot (Missi Pyle) was particularly a character that showed how heartless TV hosts could be and how they would immediately turn around and take your hand if public opinion was on your side.

Conclusion:

The only letdown was the end. Amy wins, and Nick is her little bitch. I do find it a polarizing view of relationships and I do agree that this movie can affirm the notion that feminism promotes the emasculation of men. It would have felt like justice if Amy was caught out and her madness revealed to the world – just imagine how Amazing fucking Amy would have flourished then.