Watched, Read, Loved: June and July 2017

*warning: gargantuan post ahead*

I want to start every post now with “yes, it’s me, and I am still alive”. What a couple of months this has been! July has hands down just been the slowest month in everything for me. It was a roller coaster – I was away in Nelspruit end of June to bid my bestie goodbye, then for two weeks in Potchefstroom for university work and then I had to rush to finalize my younger sister’s 21st birthday. And when I looked down at the date it was suddenly the 19th of July and there were no blog posts from me! SHOCK, HORROR. So I am trying to move my blog into activity again, and herewith some of my favorite posts, a Watched, Read, Loved list for both June and July. I really hope to be back to full time blogging in August, I’ve really missed everyone and the feeling of having a creative outlet.

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I started off June by watching Wonder Woman (2017). I’m not really a weeper, but let me tell you I was misty eyed reading some of the truly excellent tributes that poured in. Little girls in costumes, women everywhere just flooding cinemas to watch a superhero films and all the financial and critical acclaim that accompanied this film just filled my heart. I can’t do any more justice to this excellent work of director Patty Jenkins that has already been done, but I assure you that I will always try.

Say Anything

I also saw Say Anything (1987) for the first time. I can now put a film to the iconic John Cusack pose that is everywhere on the internet, and I’m not really surprised that I enjoyed this film because it is right up my alley. It is a short, fun and easy watch and really good in its’ genre. I must post its review soon but a severe case of apathy towards typing out reviews has taken hold of me at this stage.

 

I also saw Rules Don’t Apply (2016) which has the unfortunate distinction of being one fantastic box office fail. It’s not really bad, it is just frustratingly boring. It could have been great with its excellent set design and costumes, solid acting and notable performances. It just lacked heart and a decent turn of events.

I picked up Mother’s Day (2016) to watch with my own mother, because I can promise you Gary Marshall won’t be putting too risqué sex scenes in any of his films. I was right – there is little to no romance. If you can get past the notion that Jennifer Aniston is supposed to be the old, washed out mom in here, you will likely enjoy it. Julia Roberts is hidden under the most horrible wig I have ever seen, but the film is sparingly okay and has some legitimately funny moments in. It also casts Jason Sudeikis, and I have never seen him in anything except this and that godawful We’re the Millers – can someone tell me why he’s famous?

I also watched Bad Moms (2016) which was rather fun and hilarious. I know, I was shocked too.

Then there was Jackie (2016), a movie that got an Oscar nod for Natalie Portman. While her performance certainly deserves a nod, the movie itself is quite slow and not really worth the hype.

On the Afrikaans movie front I watched Platteland again. It is such an intense musical, and as Afrikaans as can be. I really do have a fondness of locally produced movies, and my plan to branch a part of this blog off into local films will hopefully happen sometime.

Homecoming

Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) was a first of three July cinema watches for me. I really still struggle to formulate thoughts on this film. I sincerely didn’t hate it, but I have struggled to see the reason for Spiderman for years now, and this reboot even more so. Tom Holland is okay I guess. I particularly liked Zendaya. I think it is safe to say while I still have time for amazing and new superhero films (such as Wonder Woman), the generic Marvel film has become somewhat of a repetitive bore.

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I still cannot believe that I refreshed my makeup, made sure my outfit was okay and went out on a damn Friday night (this is torture for me) to watch Valerian and a City of a thousand planets. You will see that review hopefully Friday, but heads-up: I hated it.

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I also saw Dunkirk this last weekend and that at least was worth my time. Christopher Nolan is the salve to every hurt a bombastic Bay/Snyder movie throws out, and the beautiful, heart wrenching film hit me quite in the feels.

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Series:

Yes, I know. I need to tame this wild Pride and Prejudice obsession that has gotten over me. Not only did I see the 2005 film AGAIN – this is in addition to the watch I did in May of it, I also got my hands on the 1995 series version of it. I am a bit torn. I’ve read far and wide that it is the best adaption, and while it is certainly the most faithful adaption, I really hated the score – classical music makes me want to pull my hair out.

I finally started watching Alias season 4. It isn’t bad, still has plenty of Michael Vartan in, and I want to finish it before it somehow gets spoiled by the internet for me.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 6: Season five of this vampire-tastic show took me ages to finalize. It was slow, badly planned and really unimaginative in some places. I am glad to report that season six is wonderful – it is the first season with really legitimately funny moments in, and I am having a fantastic time.

Game of Thrones Season 7: This is still ongoing and I am avoiding people or comments like the plague who have watched it – the internet is the rudest place ever.

books

On the reading front I haven’t been exactly revolutionary, but I have picked up Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon. I have never read anything by this author, and I am really enjoying it so far. It is fast paced plot and is well written with likeable characters. I didn’t think I would like a lawyery story, but it seems I was mistaken. I’ve hit a lag with it, and should really finish it up. I’ve slightly changed my opinion with the events that just loops all the time.

I have reread a bunch of Nora Roberts novels – Blue Smoke, The Obsession and some small ones which I really can’t recall the names of. I’ve also picked up Jewels of the Sun and Tears of the Moon, and I will review the entire trilogy once I am finished with the third book.

come sundown

I am also now reading Come Sundown – I did all the dance moves when I got a special on Loot (online shopping rocks) for this new release of Roberts. I always weep because I’m just not okay with forking out the prices retailers ask in South-Africa for new releases, so this was quite a score. I can tell you now that there is something different to Come Sundown. I will see how it ends, but it is one of the most unique books Roberts has ever done, and the tone is quite different from what she usually does.

I also should really get in to finalizing those 100 Happy Days post on here. They are just so much work and admin that I am not in the mood. I did finish the challenge, and you can few that all on my Instagram account.

As for adventures, I quickly went down to my bestie to see her one more time before she goes on her international adventure. The next time I see her will be in London, which at this stage is simply mind boggling to me.

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Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

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Plot: Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

Can you hear that sound? It sure sounds like the patriarchal system starting to crack. Since I watched Wonder Woman Friday night I haven’t been able to stop looking at photos of young girls entering the cinema in their Wonder Woman costumes looking excited and elated. Someone of their own gender entering battle and saving people! I haven’t been able to stop checking on the financial success of WW, which is helmed as a victory of super heroines and female directors. I can’t help but laugh with glee how mad all the men are about the women only screening in Texas – how dare women want to celebrate and feel strong without having to hear whisperings that Steve Trevor is the actual hero? MADNESS.

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Director Patty Jenkins was the perfect choice to direct this film. A film about a woman by a woman. If you will bear with me, I will tell you why – Diana Prince is portrayed as a strong woman who fights for herself, sees her love interest as secondary to her mission, is fierce and formidable while being beautiful and smart and adoring children at the same time. I feel like women are constantly told you can either be the soft maternal type OR the fierce business woman, and it was nice seeing a character on screen that didn’t just do it, she made it look positively easy. Gal Gadot strides on screen with her incredible face and intimidating charm and manages to be warm, pure, sweet, funny, caring and kick-ass without breaking a sweat. It is a standout performance of which she can truly be proud, and she’s truly the Wonder Woman we needed.

The opening scenes with Themyscira is certainly some of the weakest parts in the film. I enjoyed the women fighting sequences, it was beautifully choreographed. The beauty of the hidden island is a perfect contrast with the war Diana plans to enter. It did feel just a bit out of place with the strong structure of the rest of the film. The scene where Steve Trevor crash lands and brings a horde of Nazis behind him is heartbreaking to behold, and the consequences of his arrival made me very sad. The fight scenes aren’t ridiculously drawn out, something Mr. Zack Snyder just loves to do, and it is DC’s saving grace. I haven’t seen a DC movie like this ever, and it is the first I’ve able to place above many Marvel movies. If DC can take this magical formula and copy it directly over into Justice League, please note that I will buy a ticket again and be completely on board with cheering for the male heroes too – something I can do without feeling my gender threatened, hem-hem.

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Where DC usually spends their entire films being depressing and dull, Wonder Woman manages to balance the serious with banter and some light-hearted moments. That is actually where Marvel sometimes messes up – they can be too light-hearted. Steve’s insecurities that can’t help slipping out when Diana refers to him as an average man is quite funny, as well as Diana’s comments on why women should even want to tuck their tummies in had me laughing – so very well aimed at society’s double standards.

There is always the stock standard romance, and while it was present this time around, there was nothing stock nor standard about it. Steve is such an incredible guy – he has a purity that is very nearly Steve Rogers about him – morals, etiquette, the ability to see war as injustice on both sides. He allows Diana to do her thing and after only a few slips begins to understand that she will do what she wants to whether he thinks it is allowed or not. Chris Pine was a great choice as this character. He is a talented man that is finally getting some good exposure. He had good chemistry with Gal Gadot. Honestly – he looks like a wartime hero and that certainly gave him impact as well.

Did I see some of the plot reveals coming – I saw the one, but there were a few others that managed to surprise me. It made for interesting watching – and no, I’m not telling you. This movie is way too fresh out to be spoiled on my blog.

If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet – go right out and do it. I will need a really strong contender to even ruffle this movie’s feathers as my favorite film of 2017 going forth into the remainder of this year. It is an excellent superhero film in a time where superheroes are stock standard. Let me know if you’ve seen it, and what your thoughts were!

Rating: 8.5/10

Movie Review: Batman vs. Superman (2016)

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Plot: Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the man of steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday, is created by Lex Luthor. It’s up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences along with Wonder Woman to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.

Rating: 6/10

If we could rate Batman vs. Superman solely on the thigh muscles of Henry Cavill, displayed in tight leather pants, then the most awkward attempt at block buster creation would have ended up with a much higher rating than it currently holds, especially on Rotten Tomatoes, who is leading the angry mob with a nice little 30% rating on there. I was feeling a bit meh towards the film when I walked out of cinema, but have to admit I was slightly shocked at the hate I saw online while doing my usual post-film Googling.

Is it 30% bad? No. It might be the biggest wasted potential of the decade, but it is not worth such a harsh rating. Some things worked really well. Henry Cavill is the most Superman-looking Superman that has graced our screen in a long time, and while his character is shrouded in guilt and really, let’s be honest, needing to man the hell up and stop pitying himself, Cavill is as entertaining as Superman as he was in Man of Steel. Ben Affleck is surprisingly good. Look, I enjoy Affleck very much. He’s a talented actor and comes across as a fairly decent human being. I was not convinced of his ability as Batman, because Batsie is dark and Ben Affleck just seems so nice even when he is trying to be not nice. Yet Affleck portrays Batman with underlying anger and menace that I never thought was possible. He was one of the best things in this dismal movie.

What went wrong?

Lex Luthor

Jesse Eisenberg. I called this mistake in casting he second it happened. He’s twitchy, he’s whiney, he is not marginally charming in this role. What I liked about General Zod in Man of Steel is you could root for him, understand on some level why he was doing what he was was doing. Lex Luthor in BvsS is silly, stupid and twitchy. He barely gives any reason why he is acting like he’s acting, and it constantly feels like he has a tiny-man syndrome and is angry at the chiseled looks of Clark Kent and the adoration humanity has for him.

There is no story. Seriously, the film, starting out darkly with (yet another) backstory on Bruce Wayne looked enticing but quickly developed into a mess. There are kitchen timers, wheels being beaten into submission, Lois Lane throwing the one object that can kill a Kryptonian being into some pool (that appears from nowhere). Even Batman eventually needs to check in what is going down at the end of the film.

I discovered that I dislike Zack Snyder. A man of his wealth and fame will hardly care what I have to say, but looking at the films he made up till now makes me realize that I kind of feel about him like the internet feels towards Michael Bay. Poorly written material with violent scenes seems to be his biggest thing, and it always reflects poorly. This is no different just as MoS was no different – fight scenes that takes way too long to flesh out and then falls flat. The big fight between Batman and Superman started out animatedly enough but ends up with Lois breaking it up. FFS.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

Lois Lane and Martha Kent constantly needs saving. They have zero girl power. Can we have the sassy Lois Lane from Smallville, please? Amy Adams… yeah. I find her relatively decent as a rom-com character but she needs way more spunk as Lois Lane if she wants to continue in the role.

But, what worked?

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. I can’t wait for this movie.

Holly Hunter as Senator Finch. I could moan for days that she was badass but not used enough, but I won’t, because she had a hard stance when she was on screen and was girl power through and through. Go team!

The score. It is Hans Zimmer everywhere and it is dramatic, lonely and astonishingly beautiful.

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Ben Affleck as Batman. It worked, as mentioned above, surprising everyone. I wouldn’t completely be against a standalone movie here, but not sure if it would qualify as necessary.

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Henry Cavill as Superman. Good golly, yes please. He didn’t get any character development in here, and I didn’t appreciate the Christ-attributes that was given to him, but he continues to work well as the local Kryptonian.

The quick spotting of Aquaman. Does anyone fully understand my level of adoration for Jason Momoa? It’s unnatural and unhealthy. I can’t wait.

The bottom-line

I think the critics are being unnecessarily rude about this film, and their harshness is uncalled for. It might be a good plan to scrap Jesse Eisenberg and Zack Snyder and to follow a straight line of comic book back story. There are enough things that work in here to make the exhaustive time of the film slightly tolerable. Go watch it, get your own opinion and don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong about it.

Batsie