5 Dec 2014

Reading & Seeing 21

Since my last Reading & Seeing post I've finished three books and seen a bugger load of great films.

Interstellar - visually and conceptually stunning (I had to scoop my jaw off the floor when you first see that black hole). Yes it's very long and overly sentimental (didn't stop me crying a fair few times though) but I felt the human story at the centre gave the film some grounding. Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of science talk which was largely lost on me and probably most people but the key thing to remember is: time is relative. It's kind of like a cross between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Sunshine *hard core SF fans might now be cursing me and banging their heads against brick walls*. The performances are solid but TARS (the robot) stole the show from an ever-increasingly-cool Matthew McConaughey. I liked this film because not only does it revolve around the subject of humanity's and earth's demise and the failings and incredible acheivements of individual people, it also provides a solution to a huge question: what will we do when the earth can no longer sustain human life? Is that solution far-fetched? Maybe. But is it imaginative, thrilling and incredibly positive? Hell yes.

Gone Girl - I'd not read the book because the advertising and quotes made it seem like some trashy crime story. And so, I confess, I only went to see the film because practically everyone was saying how good it was. And it is. I hold my hands up. I judged that book (kinda by it's cover, although the posters on the tube did it no favours) and I was so wrong. I think I got more out of the film having not read it, everything was completely unexpected. It's quite understated and almost felt like I could've been watching a 2 part docu-drama, and I mean that in a good way. It's not frilly or full of superfluous special effects (like a lot of crime thrillers can be), the plot is streamlined, and although it keeps you guessing, reveals major twists in a direct and gritty way. As the audience you're not sparred much detail. Good stuff but I'm still not interested in reading it.

Dispicable Me - Fiiiiinally saw it. I bloody loved it and the minions lived up to the hype. We actually watched the sequel not long after and it too is ace.

Secret life of Walter Mitty - for me, another film grossly mis-sold by its poster and, in this case, trailer. I avoided it in the cinema because it was presented as a smaltzy Hollywood comedy. In actuality it's an awesome, indie-film-at-heart (David Bowie interlude bit - omg) which has shy, timid Ben Stiler running around the most beautiful country ever (Iceland), on a quest to find a photographer and learning, along the way, to come out of his shell a bit. Excellent. Oh and the soundtrack is perfect.
The way way back - A look at one kid's summer at his mum's dickhead boyfriend's beach house. Luckily for our guy he meets a v.funny Sam Rockwell, owner of an awesome looking waterpark, and suddenly his summer doesn't seem so shitty. I liked this film a lot, there was something very nostaligic about it. I can remember summer holidays with my parents and their friends' families. Those awkward holidays when you're old enough to want to go and do your own thing but young enough that you wouldn't be allowed. Too bad I didn't meet Sam Rockwell and go work at a waterpark. I definitely reccomend this if you missed it at the cinema.

The Box Trolls - another great example of a kid's film that's also incredibly easy on the ear for adults too. A clever little story (with some pretty gross moments) all brought to you in impressive stop motion animation. 

St Vincent - it's true, the formula of unlikely friendship between young boy and grumpy, kinda lonely, old(ish) man has been done a million times but in St Vincent, Bill Murray is the grumpy man.  He's excellent at playing intially unlikeable characters that you eventually warm to,  and here, he's on top form, as ever.

Maddaddam (2013)
The last in Margaret Atwood's dystopian-future trilogy. It's definitely been my least favourite of the three. However, Maddaddam has rounded the series off quite nicely whilst at the same time leaving the story open ended. The conclusion has an overall positive note with a glimpse into the future of the crakers and how, as the new human-like race, they will prevail.
A man called Ove (2014)
This was chosen by Blook Club and, having read the blurb, I fully expected not to like it but that's the beauty of a book group, it'll get you to things you would never normally pick up. Another grumpy, rather unlikable, set-in-his-ways, old(ish) man learning to cope with change, firstly the death of his wife and then the arrival on new neighbours. About a third of the way in I nearly stopped reading - Ove is quite a miserable chap and even hearing his backstory didn't make me sympathise with him. Then, I changed my mind. I can't remember what the catalyst was - perhaps the story of his holiday with his wife - but I finally warmed to it and would reccomend a read. It's amusing, if you can get past Ove's rudeness but it's also quite emotional and uplifting.

Only Ever Yours (2014)
An incredibly bleak look at the future where human women no longer exist. Instead 'females' are "designed" and brought up in schools where, from the ages of 0 - 16, they are taught how to behave - appearance and how thin they are being highly prized - their 16 years culminating in a ceremony which will define their purpose in life. The girls can become one of three things: a companion, a concubine or a chastity. The first are like wives whose main purpose is to produce male children. These are picked by the inheritants, 16 year old boys who live in the protected zones (most of the planet has become a wasteland). The concubines are essentially prostitutes, whilst the chastities are the teachers who instill in the girls terrifying mantras like "I am a good girl" & "no one likes a fat girl". Weight and appearance are basically all that the girls are taught to care about, with daily weigh-ins and mirrored walls and surfaces everywhere. Of course it's all very extreme but it's quite clearly an exaggeration on the today's society's obsession with appearance - looking younger and thinner - particularly in terms of women. The concept was intriguing and I've been thinking about it still (days after finishing it). I'd reccomend it but as a word of warning, it made me feel very claustrophic (much like our protagonist, Frieda) and left a pretty awful taste in my mouth.


  1. This is the second review of Only Ever Yours I've seen in the past couple of days, it sounds like a really interesting book.

    1. I would definitely recommend it - v.easy to read (I think it might actually be YA fiction) and it gave me lots to think about.

  2. Sweet! Running to see Walter Mitty and Boxtrolls.

    1. Great! I was so pleasantly surprised by Walter Mitty. Hope you like it too :)


Ta v.much :)

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