July’s the winter of our discontent

Books:

I read two books in July while off sick. I needed something easy to read, that wouldn’t leave me exhausted, so opted for ‘Landline‘ by Rainbow Rowell. I’d really enjoyed ‘Fangirl’ and ‘Attachments’ previously so thought it would be a good fit…and it was. I read it in a single sitting which is pretty much my ideal way of reading a book. I did struggle a bit with the characters as communication is such an important thing to me, so it was frustrating that they were just so bad at it. I also read ‘Places no one knows‘ by Brenna Yovanoff after the author was recommended to me by a friend. This one didn’t really do it for me. I really liked the main character and the way her detachment was handled, but I struggled with the best friend and the story felt a bit too tediously high school for me. I do enjoy that both novels had a touch of magic/supernatural that’s never explained though – books that are set in the real world but have one random magical element always appeal to me.

Music:

Presented without comment.

Movies:

Wonder WomanThoroughly enjoyed this one, it’s basically Thor meets Captain America: The First Avenger. I loved the background of Themyscira and would happily have watched a whole film about Hippolyta and Antiope kicking ass. But nevertheless I really enjoyed Diana’s innocence and hope, neither of which stopped her from getting shit done. And I loved how the overall theme of it was very Dumbledore-esque. I saw this twice and it really struck me on the second viewing how so much of it is about self-belief. It’s when Diana believes in herself that she can be what she needs to be. And I am here for it. Also, the Wrath theme is a thing of beauty and I want it playing in the background whenever I do anything, ever.

Spider-Man: HomecomingI’m not a huge Spider-Man fan (comics are ok, loathed the Toby Maguire films, Andrew Garfield’s was fun) so I wasn’t tripping over myself to see this, but bf is a big fan so off we went. It was overall pretty enjoyable. The thing I enjoyed most was that Tom Holland is actually believable as a high schooler. He fits that part perfectly. And I liked that Peter was a nerd but it wasn’t that loner sad kind of nerd, he had a kid who bullied him but it wasn’t a jock, and he was just going about his life, being a nerd and not minding it. More of that in films please! It’s not sad being a nerd! Anyway, it was an enjoyable watch. Some funny one liners. Too much Iron Man though.

Baby DriverObviously this is a film that revolves around its soundtrack. The music is everything here. And I love good film soundtracks. I thoroughly enjoy Edgar Wright’s films (Scott Pilgrim is one of my all time faves) so I had high hopes for this one. It mostly delivered. Solid car chases. Solid supporting actors – John Hamm is great, and Kevin Spacey is just living his best life. I loved that Baby and Joseph used sign language, and how natural that was – more mainstream films with that sort of thing please. What I didn’t like was that the whole thing kind of fell apart towards the end when Baby could easily have solved all his problems by simply answering a yes/no question honestly. There was no motivation for him to not do so. Also, he goes on like two dates with Debora and then they’re in love and running away together? Uh. Ok then. Overall enjoyable, and well worth a watch.

DunkirkHoly CRAP. I do not like war films, I don’t cope well, I get extremely anxious and end up crying because of the waste of human life, so in general I avoid them. But everyone was going on about this and bf wanted to see it so off we went. This film took about 20 years off my life. I’ve never been this stressed in a movie theater. I had my hood up the entire time and had marks on my neck from where I was digging my fingernails into my skin to stop from freaking out. This film is incredible when it comes to recreating the feeling of war. One review described the experience of watching it as being reminiscent of shell shock and that’s certainly how I felt. It is relentless. I’m really sick of non-linear storytelling but I thought the way this was told was actually quite clever, seeing the timeline from different points of view. I really appreciated the minimal dialogue as it felt true to the story being told, and the horror of war doesn’t really require many words. The score was incredibly important in creating the tension and anxiety in the viewer, and it did a damn good job of it. Overall, very effective film, would not say I enjoyed it.

June whatever

Look, I didn’t do much in June. The Lions Series was in full swing and every fibre of my being hated it. So most of my brain power was spent on work and maintaining the will to live. It was tough. I read one book, which was for work and called ‘Architechting Experience‘. I don’t know, it might be useful if you’re into marketing and user journeys and shiz like that. I also only saw one film in Wonder Woman, which I of course saw on opening day. I’ll add my two cents during the July recap – I saw it again this month so it’s technically still true.

Only really bothering to sum up June cause I think my playlist was kinda fly. And we can all agree that Lorde’s Melodrama is a glorious masterpiece, right? It’s the album 24 year old me desperately needed. Also the bass line on Charlie Puth’s ‘Attention’ is out of control. So there is that.

It’s gonna be May

Books:

I haven’t read much as work is insanely busy at the moment (also the reason this is so late, stupid Lions). I read ‘Feminist Fight Club‘ by Jessica Bennett. I’ve read a fair few of these books recently but I still found this interesting as it was mainly focused on the workplace. A quick, easy read with humorous and informative bits. Not world changing, but a good read.

Music:

Thoroughly enjoying the 1D spin offs, good on them all. Harry Styles’ album is pretty sweet listening, highlight is definitely ‘Kiwi’. Also ‘Malibu’ by Miley Cyrus is an absolute tune and was on heavy rotation this month.

Movies:

Didn’t see everything I wanted to but still got through a bit.

Bright Lights: Caught this at the Edge Documentary Film Festival with a friend, and it was thoroughly captivating. This film paints an intimate portrait of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, and also Todd Fisher. It explores their relationship and their eccentricities and it is especially poignant in light of Carrie and Debbie’s passing last year.

Get Out: I don’t actually like horror/thrillers but I had to go see this after the insane rave reviews. I’m glad I did, even if it was mentally scarring. Basic premise: Chris and his girlfriend Rose go upstate to visit her parents for the weekend. Weird shit goes down. That’s all I’m saying. The cinematography and imagery work double time, and the score is sensational.

A Dog’s Purpose: This film follows a pup trying to discover its purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners. I went to see this with my work wife as we’re both obsessed with dogs. I cried once, laughed multiple times, and got particularly overwhelmed by the cuteness of the corgi. Dogs are the best. We don’t deserve them.

King Arthur: I love a good Guy Ritchie film, judge me all you like, I don’t care. This plays out like a heist film, is a complete bastardisation of Arthurian legend, has Charlie Hunnam  playing cockney Jax Teller and Jude Law hamming it up and I am here for it. Lots of women get fridged, sadly, and there is an all too brief cameo by the delightful Katie McGrath who should just be in all Arthurian things. But I enjoy a bit of popcorn action and this fit the bill, even as I sat there quoting Monty Python to myself.

Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!

April is the cruelest month

Books:

I read two books in April, yay, go me! The first was ‘Americanah‘ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. I started it last month but had to return it to the library shortly after as someone had reserved it (ugh) and I anxiously waited for its return so I could finish it. I. Loved. This. Book. It is magnificent. Some really powerful commentary in there. It was one of those books that set my soul on fire when I finished it, and made me want to write again and do all these things I’ve always wanted to do. I particularly enjoyed it from the point of view of an ex-pat aching for something but not knowing what it is, and thinking maybe a return to home could fix it. Would recommend every time. The second book I read was ‘The Silkworm‘ by Robert Galbraith, which is the second Cormoran Strike novel. Like the first, I enjoyed it, just really solid detective fiction and great for a Saturday afternoon finish-in-one-sitting type of read. Solid genre fiction and I’m not complaining.

Music:

Kind of a dud month to be honest. Found myself relying more on old favourite albums rather than listening to mixes. New Fall Out Boy song though which is…interesting. I’m not sure it’s for me but I wasn’t really on board with ‘Centuries’ either and ended up loving the album. So who knows.

Movies:

Only two this month, bit sad. But gird your loins as blockbuster season is upon us and it’s the Doc Edge International Documentary Film Festival is in town. See all the things!

Beauty and the Beast: This is my favourite Disney film so I was a bit skeptical about a live-action take on it, but you know what, it was fine. You know the story, was the same deal. Songs were on point, Gaston is amazing (and awful) and I think they actually did a good job explaining some of the things people have always wondered about this story. Like how does an entire village not remember there was a prince in a castle not that far away? Costumes were a delight. Lord how I love good costume design.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: I know I’m in the minority here but I did not rate the first one of these and was expecting more of the same lameness from this one. I actually enjoyed it a lot more, maybe because I knew what I was getting in to. Some really good humour in there and a genuinely touching ending, I’m ashamed to admit that I even got a wee bit teary eyed. Petition to put Nebula in everything though because she was my favourite thing in this #TeamNebula I do wonder though, if you don’t have 80s nostalgia, is this film’s aesthetic any good?

 

March madness

Books:

March was pretty hectic with unexpected moving and whatnot so I unfortunately didn’t have much (see also: any) free time. So I only read one book in March, Tina Fey’s ‘Bossypants‘. I really like Tina so I enjoyed this easy-to-read glimpse into her thoughts. I particularly relate to the whole “blorft” thing, or “completely overwhelmed by proceedings as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the topor of a possum.” Hoping April will be a better month for reading and general R&R.

Music:

Enjoying the return of Lorde 🙌🙌 Also a big fan of the Selena Gomez/Kygo track. Suspect Ed Sheeran’s ‘Dive’ is about Taylor? Discuss.

Movies:

Despite the aforementioned lack of free time this month, still managed to see two films and, of course, attend the Harry Potter Movie Marathon.

Logan The X-Men are probably my favourite comic creations so I’m always down for anything related to them. I’m also a huge Hugh Jackman fan so there was no way I wasn’t going to see this asap. It’s a wonderful film, one that really tells a story about regret and struggle and coming to terms with your failing mortality. Hugh Jackman gives a masterful performance that is somehow trumped by Patrick Stewart’s broken portrayal of Professor X. A great example of what can be achieved when the story and characters are put first, rather than the need to set up a bunch of sequels and spin offs. Also a great example of just telling a story and applying a rating that fits (R18 in this case) rather than trying to make a film fit into a specific rating, or just being gory for the sake of it. I did think it was a bit long in the middle, but overall really recommend it and its melancholy soundtrack.

Ghost in the ShellI’ve never read the manga or saw the original animated film. I had no idea really what it was about it but I like Scarlett Johannsen and spec fic, and it was filmed in Wellington, so I really wanted to see it. I liked it. It was weird, but I liked it. It reminded me a bit of The Matrix, except the action was way slower and it wasn’t as mind-bendy. The story seemed weirdly simplistic, I felt a bit “That’s it?” about it. I guess I was just expecting there to be more philosophical angst over what makes you human, and robot v human existential issues. More Blade Runner, you know? There’s obviously been a lot of criticism about the casting of Johannsen to play a Japanese character, and while I think it would be amazing to see more diversity on screen, in this instance it didn’t feel obtrusive, considering the story centers around body modification and the blurring of artificial and natural states. Regardless of everything, the cinematography is beautiful. Just an incredibly pretty film.

Feb Fallout

Books:

Another three books checked off this month, with a fourth almost finished. The first was ‘The Rest of Us Just Live Here‘ by Patrick Ness. I found it generally enjoyable and easy to read, polishing it off in two burst.I enjoyed the idea of being disaster adjacent, of kids just minding their own business while shit goes down around them. Following this, I finally got round to reading ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling‘ by Robert Galbraith. I  grew up on Nancy Drew books and loved reading mysteries, and this book reminded me why. Thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the characters and I liked that the ending wasn’t really drawn out over multiple chapters. I also read ‘On the Jellicoe Road‘ by Melina Marchetta. I have a friend who always raves about it and I’d read two Marchetta books in high school, so I figured I’d give it a go. It completely destroyed me. I’m not even joking. There were tears. Very Australian, with moments that felt supernatural  and genuinely made me uneasy, and just all-round heartbreaking. Finally, I’m almost finished with ‘Rewire: Change your brain‘ by Richard O’Connor which is fascinating from a psychological point of view, but not really that helpful in a general ‘give me some tips, I need to stop doing this shit’ sense.

Music:

I’ve really been enjoying the return of the Mack. I’m not apologising.

Movies:

Got a lot done this month because my work wife and I were trying to see as many Oscar nominated flicks as we could before the awards.

Jackie: The film takes place immediately following JFK’s assassination and I found it pretty harrowing to see it from Jackie’s perspective. I cannot imagine being in that situation, or how I would act. It felt more realistic to me than a traditional biopic, more psychologically real. Much like the glamour of the Kennedys, the film could easily have fallen into the trap of superficiality, but it maintained a balance and dignity that never felt forced. Like most biopics, I had to resist the urge to google a thousand things while watching it but overall, I thought it was a good little film and Natalie Portman did a phenomenal job of not only capturing Jackie’s mannerisms and quirks, but also capturing a real sense of emotion. The outfits were also on point.

Lion: I know this is based on a real story but I had somehow completely missed the whole media coverage around this and had no idea how it was all going to turn out. Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel were both captivating as Saroo. Nicole Kidman also turned in a great performance. And Dev’s Australian accent was surprisingly good! Loved the use of food as a trigger for memory, very Proustian. It’s a very powerful story that really hits you in the feels.

Moonlight: Maybe it was just because I was tired but this didn’t do anything for me. I’ve read these amazing reviews for it since I saw it and I wish I could have had that experience but for me it felt like the film your friend makes for his final film project that you try to be supportive of but don’t really get. It’s too arty for me, is what I’m saying. I wanted it to be shorter, and quicker paced. I found the camera work jarring and annoying. I also found it really odd that the story starts with an adult basically just taking in a kid he finds loitering around to lunch – just doesn’t seem like a reasonable thing to do when you find a kid somewhere it shouldn’t be. But I completely appreciate what it was trying to do in telling a story about sexuality and masculinity, and I’m 100% for telling more stories about different communities and experiences.

Manchester By The Sea: I didn’t know what this was about when going to see it and if it had been described to me (man has to return to home town after his brother dies to take care of his nephew, also: traumatic past) I probably wouldn’t have gone to see it. But it is by far my favourite out of the four. Just a phenomenal piece of storytelling, perfectly paced and with genuinely funny moments despite quite a bleak outlook. And the main scene with Michelle Williams was devastating. A well-deserved Best Original Screenplay Oscar winner. I loved this so much.

January R&R

Books:

I read two books in January. The first was ‘Anna & the French Kiss‘ by Stephanie Perkins, a YA novel recommended by a friend while we were in Paris and that I only just got round to reading. I loved it because I love a good easy to read YA novel and I love Paris. Pretty much read it in a single sitting which, frankly, is how all books should be read. I also read Neil Gaiman’s ‘View from the Cheap Seats‘, a collection of non-fiction pieces. I always enjoy a good collection as it’s nice to have something that I can easily segment and put down when I need to. It was fine, none of it was revolutionary.

Music:

In recent years I’ve fallen into the habit of listening to the same three playlists over and over again, so basically I’m listening to the same shit I listened to in 2009. And that’s fine, don’t get me wrong, I love that shit. But I also don’t want to be one of those people who listens to five bands from years ago and has no idea what’s happening out there now. Who knows what awesome is out there?? So I’m making a conscious effort to listen to new stuff (while also still listening to old stuff cause why not yo) Here’s my January playlist…

Movies:

Assassin’s CreedI agreed to see this because I’ve watched the bf play enough Assassin’s Creed to understand the basic premise of the universe, and I always enjoy a sword & sandal type film (Prince of Persia anyone?). Plus it has three Oscar-nominated actors in it…how bad could it be? Ha. Hahaha. It’s not often I’ll say this but this film needed more action. The parkour scenes were actually pretty fun and more past-life fights would have helped balance out the snore fest. That said, Michael Fassbender is shirtless for a good 30 minutes. Take the perks where you get them.

La La LandLook, if you came out of this complaining it was overly nostalgic or corny then you frankly just weren’t paying attention. Nothing about the marketing of this film promised anything other than a wishful 1950s inspired musical and it 100% delivered on that. I enjoyed it, especially Emma Stone’s wardrobe (brb, selling all my clothes). I did think the ending was depressing and I resented the implication that any happy ending for some reason has to involve having children. Also, five years is not nearly enough time passing for all that shiz to go down in the final act. But whatever, the film did exactly what it said it was going to – I don’t understand why there’s suddenly so much hate for it.

MoanaWhat an absolute delight. DELIGHT. There’s nothing about this film I didn’t love and I have happily been listening to the soundtrack on the odd occasion. Loved seeing Pasifika culture reflected. Up there with Brave as a new fave animated film.

Hidden FiguresOh my god, what a film. Loved everything about it. Yet again, total outfit envy. Such an inspirational story and like all things reflecting diversity these days, it feels desperately necessary. And the soundtrack is on point. Bf’s verdict following the film: “I have never felt more male and white in my life.” Preach.