Watched, Read, Loved: August 2017

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Yay! It’s spring! (I am writing this up quickly in September). The weather has turned me into a positive, upbeat person for the time being. There is something to be said to drive to work and the sun is actually up when you get there, so I am pretty thankful. The saddest thing is naturally not being in the sun during the day, but it makes life worth it.

Life-wise, we went to the Modderfontein nature reserve for a friend’s birthday. It’s quite lovely, and as it is not the one I usually head to for a it-doesn’t-feel-like-the-city feel, it felt like a new place to see in the concrete jungle I live in. Had some amazing cupcakes too, which changed my life – like WOW.

I also watched the international Dota championships – like, I still don’t know how that happened. I hope to have actually played this game by next year to have a clue what is happening.

I also did a Parkrun – naturally the morning was chillier than all the rest, but I did one. I’d love to 1) make better time 2) remember my barcode and 3) get fitter. We are doing an international health challenge at work, starting the 27th of September, and the aim is 10 000 steps a day. It is scary because I don’t think I manage 2000 a day at this stage.

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Ghost (1990) – I really thoroughly enjoyed Ghost. The effects had me giggling, while the youth of Swayze and Demi Moore was really pretty to look at. Definitely one of the best Blindspots this year, though my selection has been pretty on point if I say so myself.

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The Intern (2015) – you can read my review here. The Intern is a heartwarming film with a great message, and I had a great time.

Ella Enchanted (2004) – I seemed to have had a lot of exposure to Anne Hathaway this month, but I’m not complaining as I really like both films. Hathaway is joined by Hugh Dancy, who has the most perfect face to play any form of a Prince. So handsome. This is a really fun movie, and I always enjoy it.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) – yes, again. Don’t judge.

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Sully (2016) – probably my favorite watch this month, Sully is inspirational and I was on the edge of my seat. Highly recommended.

Wild (2014) – Wild is a prime example why I don’t like real life adaptions. The lead character was uninspiring and selfish, and a track across the NST couldn’t convince me to root for her.

Mean Girls (2004) – Is Mean Girls the most quotable movie of all time? This movie is definitely one of my favorite films ever. It is relatable, accurate, hilarious and just so much fun.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them (2016) – I have a friend who was really outraged that I talked smack about this film. His attempt to convince me was to have me watch it at home in Bluray with 3D Glasses. I don’t have the heart to say that just because something is pretty to look at it means it is good, but it did improve on rewatch.

series

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Stranger Things – the amounts of hearts I want to draw around this show. STRANGER THINGS IS EVERYTHING AND I NEED MORE NOW. The soundtrack, the premise, the whole I difference of it all, the miraculous amount of kids who can actually act. I was told by ten million people to watch Stranger Things, and now, after watching, my life is richer as a result. I need the second season now. Like NOW.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 – I joined everyone and their grandma’s to watch the amazing penultimate season of Game of Thrones. I still need to do a recap of the last two episodes, which are some of the best this show as given us.

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Vampire Diaries Season 7 and 8

Season 7 nearly sunk the show for me. The departure of Nina Dobrev proved to be a terrible blow to the show. The odd thing is that Season 7 started fine and halfway just lost the plot. It became so bad that Damon slipped in his number one ranking for me, and was replaced by Enzo. Even after being done with the show, Enzo remains as number one. I need to find it in me to review the last two seasons, but man, some things just can’t be forgiven, DAMON.

books

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The Rise of Nine (Pittacus Lore)

I am steadily working my way through the Lorien Legacies series of Pittacus Lore. I am enjoying the Rise of Nine quite a bit, although I still find the battles way too frequent and drawn out.

The Gunslinger (Stephen King)

Finally, I am also trying to attempt to work my way through The Gunslinger. I really like Stephen King’s way – I’m not always sure whether his books are for me, the man is amazing with words. I was about 5 sentences in when I googled a word to check what it means, and that rarely happens for me. I’ll still have to see what the book is all about, and hope to finish at least the first one.

What have you been up to this month?

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Movies 2016: Worst to Best

The year 2016 will be known for a number of things – an inordinate amount of celebrity deaths and an equally inordinate amount of lackluster movies. Are these two correlated? I’m not convinced its’ not. Anyway, here is my list of movies I watched this year that was released in 2016. It’s not been a good one.

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Number 19: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice 6/10

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Number 18: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them 6/10

Number 17: Before You 6/10

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Number 16: The Choice 6.5/10

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Number 15: How to be single 6.5/10

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Number 14: The 5th Wave 7/10

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Number 13: SUICIDE SQUAD 7/10

Number 12: Rogue One: 7/10

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Number 11: The Huntsman: Winter’s War 7/10

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Number 10: Legend of Tarzan 7.5/10

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Number 9: Finding Dory 7.5/10

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Number 8: Captain America: Civil War: 7.5/10

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Number 7: Zootopia 8/10

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Number 6: The Jungle Book 8/10

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Number 5: 10 Cloverfield lane 8/10

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Number 4: Dr. Strange 8/10

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Number 3: Deadpool (8/10)

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Number 2: Bridget Jones’ Baby: 8.5/10

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Number 1: Pride and Prejudice vs. Zombies 8.5/10

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

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Plot: Five sisters in 19th century England must cope with the pressures to marry while protecting themselves from a growing population of zombies

Rating: 8.5/10

ERRR-EM-GHEE. I LOVED THIS.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, let me tell you, this film was tailor made for me. I am 1) a huge fan of the original work despite having to fully read the book 2) detailing on that means that I’ve seen the 2005 movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew McFayden and I consider myself an expert 3) I’ve read the book about halfway but olden English can be challenging and I’m just an Afrikaans Girl in an English world – which should be a song or at least a blogpost 4) I’ll stop sounding deranged now and actually review this.

This movie is really Pride and Prejudice but with Zombies. Exactly. It is based on the successful adaption / parody by Seth Graham-Smith, and if the book is like the movie, I am so on board with reading it (a little flip from how I usually approach things). I’m a little sad that this film didn’t do great in cinema because it is so much fun.

I thought Lily James made the perfect Elizabeth Bennet. Ms. Bennet has always been the original feminist, and adding some ass kicking skills to her resume only made her seem more so. Excluding Mr. Darcy, the females in the film does the majority of zombie slashing and there is an underlying humor that suggests that the men are a bit more afraid than the ladies of zombies. Lily was as sassy and as proper as Jane requires of a character, and had undeniable chemistry with Sam Riley – a crucial element in making the relationship dynamic between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth work out.

Initially I was a bit concerned with Mr. Darcy being portrayed by Sam Riley. It is a really difficult thing to pull off – being a bit of a prick while still being able to be compelling and attractive. Sam Riley has a really weird voice – it took a while to get used to. However, he was able to portray the character with conviction and before long I was so on board with him. He was tormented and unamused and serious and it was so hot man. The chemistry between Lily James and Sam Riley is kind of through the roof. It was really hot in a dignified way.

As for the rest of the cast, you will see some Charles Dance and Lena Headley, Matt Smith and Douglas Booth (notably). There were some new names that I haven’t seen on screen before, like Bella Heathcote that did a really good job with Jane Bennet, a tricky role because the character needs to be beautiful and shy without being a pain in the ass. Jack Huston played Mr. Wickham. I’m starting to recognize Huston more and more on screen and he seems to be a fine actor that is going somewhere. He has a specific period look that suited the film well, and was sufficiently slimy in his portrayal of Mr. Wickham. Lena Headley was way underused – the woman has a comedic ability that is suppressed in Game of Thrones. I am always a huge fan of any person that emits sarcasm through every pore in their body and Headley manages that with aplomb.

The pace of the film is good, it is neither too long nor too short. I was ready to riot a few minutes before the end – watch it to see why – and I was spared this use of energy a few moments later when I was really happy with the end.

I really never knew that I needed a version of Pride vs. Prejudice with zombies, but let me tell you, my life is so much better for it now!

Maleficent (2014)

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Maleficent: “I had wings once, and they were strong. But they were stolen from me.”

Maleficent is a 2014 Disney movie that looks at the iconic Sleeping Beauty fable from another perspective, the villain, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie). The young Maleficent (Ella Purnell) lives in the magical realm the Moors, and because she is the strongest of all the faeries there, she is destined to become their leader. One day, she has to address a young thief, and meets Stefan, a peasant boy from the nearby kingdom with which the Moors are in constant war with. Stefan and Maleficent bond, and eventually fall in love, but it isn’t real love: Stefan is soon corrupted by the things that break most humans: greed, thirst for power and jealousy. Stefan drifts away from Maleficent and becomes a squire for the King, who wishes to infiltrate the Moors. Maleficent wins a fight against the King, injuring him badly, and the King promises all his squires that the one that kills Maleficent will be the next King.

Stefan returns to the Moors, intent on killing Maleficent, but the single shred of dignity in his body prevents him from killing her. Instead he cuts off her powerful wings and takes it to the dying King. Believing it to be proof, the King makes Stefan his successor and Stefan is married to the King’s daughter. Shortly afterwards they have a beautiful baby girl, Aurora.

Maleficent is nearly destroyed with heartbreak of Stefan’s betrayal and losing her wings, and swears revenge. After saving a raven from death, she turns him into a human, and Diaval (Sam Riley) becomes her eyes and ears, and soon tells her of Aurora’s impending christening.

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Maleficent heads to the christening, where she lays the curse on Aurora: that on her sixteenth birthday she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel, and fall into a deep slumber, and that only true love’s kiss can awaken her.

Aurora is taken by three dimwit faeries to safety, but their incompetence causes Maleficent to save Aurora plenty of times. Times progress, and Maleficent soon notices that Aurora (Elle Fanning) has none of the flaws her father has, and is truly as lovely as everyone says. Is it too late for Maleficent to take back the curse? Can Aurora be saved? Does true love exists, because Maleficent doesn’t believe it does and specifically put that into the curse for that very reason?

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Maleficent to Aurora: “I will not ask you for forgiveness. What I have done is unforgivable. I was so lost in hatred and revenge. I never dreamed that I could love you so much. You stole what was left of my heart. And now I’ve lost you forever.”

Rating: 7/10

This is the second movie I watched in the cinema in two weeks, and I still haven’t seen the Fault in Our Stars, and I desperately want to. I haven’t seen that yet because the company I went with “didn’t want to cry”. Well, let me tell you I nearly damn cried in Maleficent more than once. It is beautifully done and tells a good, tragic story about a good person so maddened by grief that they do something they regret and ultimately can’t reverse, no matter how sorry they are.

The casting was near perfect. Sharlto Copley and Michael Higgins were both perfect casting choices as King Stefan with narrow faces and high cheekbones. Copley finally seems to be the hope of the South-African acting community and did well as the lowly Stefan. His true agenda was surprising – not to save his daughter, but rather defeating Maleficent to be the greater power. I found him so deplorable in the end, broken by greed and selfishness.

The internet has been raving about Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, and I am glad to finally have seen how right they truly were about it. She was amazingly cast and Maleficent’s looks are truly the live impersonation of the Disney movie. I’ve always had this bad perception of Jolie’s acting abilities and I can admit that I was wrong – her acting was real and deep and really made the movie.

Brenton Twaithes and Elle Fanning as the iconic Prince Phillip and Aurora also worked incredibly well. Prince Phillip was also one of the characters that stood out as perfect casting – once again the live impersonation of a story book character and all. I found that both characters actually looked sixteen – something highly unlikely in Hollywood where age perception is flawed. Their love story is charmingly underdone and that I enjoyed, because for all my love for Disney movies I have always felt derision at the love at first sight angle – WHEN has that ever happened? Without giving too much away, I thought the true love scene was so beautifully done and a brilliant fresh take on the story.

What people seem to forget about Maleficent is that it is a Disney movie. If you look at it forgetting who made the film, you might feel it is fluffy and not worthy of attention. If you remember that Maleficent is from Disney and look at it from that angle you will recognize it as a good Disney movie and very much worthy of attention. The take on the story is fresh and entertaining and I loved how they worked everything from the old storyline into the new story and how it all seemed plausible. The crow (that angle was pretty well done), the little monsters, King Stefan’s surprisingly deplorable character (feeling alone in the naughty chamber, Joffrey?) and how the three good fairies weren’t actually all that sweet and kind and capable.

I love the new direction Disney is taking with their movies. It is as if they are trying to rectify the fact that they have been whispering to girls for many years that you are only there to be saved by a prince, and that girl power is an actual fact and not a myth.

Maleficent is good enough to be watchable to adults and stays away from too scary, so the kids will like it too.

Have you seen it? Did you like it?