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herdivineshadow

August 2017

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herdivineshadow: (listless)

New films I saw this year, in reverse order of how much I enjoyed them (basically, the last film in this list was amazeface) as kept track of throughout the year on Letterboxd.

  • Dad’s Army – This was terrible. The only good part was Mrs Mainwaring.
  • Anthropoid – I can barely remember this film. I imagine it must have much like any other film based on events from WW2. I think there…was a romance? I wasn’t very interested in it if there was.
  • The Girl on the Train – I’d not read the book before I saw this ( and I’ve still not seen it) but it was entertaining enough, if fairly predictable.
  • Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey – It was nice. I had a terrible cold during LFF so it was quite handy that I didn’t have to think too much when watching this.
  • Interchange – I didn’t entirely know what I expected when I decided that I would see a film that involved vampirism in Malaysia – certainly not anything to do with indigenous Malay tribal people. I did like that the characters switched between languages – which of course is common in Malaysia, but I don’t usually get to see it on-screen.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice  – I enjoyed it. Unsure about Lex Luthor, but I’m quite interested in seeing the next film.
  • Dancer – When this film was being made, no one involved in the film had any idea how it would turn out – as they were just following the life of Sergei Polunin. I’m glad I wasn’t making the film or, for that matter, pursued ballet beyond the age of five.
  • Jason Bourne – My Mum really loves Jason Bourne and Matt Damon to the extent that we joke that he is her new boyfriend.
  • Chi-raq  – I will watch nearly anything based on ancient Greek plays so of course I was going to see this.
  • White Colour Black – Interesting look at being part of two distinct cultures, although I’m not sure thaat I could relate much to the main character Leke even though I’m mixed-race too but that’s mostly because I’m not a hedonistic, sought-after photographer.
  • Ghostbusters – Fun and very much in the same spirit as the previous Ghostbuster films. lol.
  • The Secret Scripture – Mum and I went to see this and Dancer on the same day as this year she was interested in going to see some LFF films (although she still thinks going to see as many as I do is a bit out there) and this was the film she was most interested in. As we got towards the end of the film, you could kind of see what was coming but that was more a nice rounding off rather than being boringly predictable.
  • Star Trek Beyond – I love Star Trek with all my heart and this film was a relief after the film that we do not talk about. Fun, lots of exciting action and Karl Urban is the greatest of us.
  • Deadpool – I also love Deadpool, but not as much as I love Star Trek and this film was still slightly more enjoyable than Star Trek Beyond though probably because of the incredible amounts of violence.
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – I have too many feelings about this film. It’s a solid war movie.
  • Captain America: Civil War – Probably not as good as Winter Soldier, but still super enjoyable. I still don’t like spending time with Tony Stark but RDJ continues to play him well. I will never understand how Chris Evans fit in that tiny car. Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson are forever a delight together.
  • Arrival – This film was astounding when I saw it back in October, was still astounding when I saw it again in November and remains so as I think about it now. I think this year really needed this film. V satisfying.

Mirrored from half girl, half robot.

herdivineshadow: (i want to believe)

As for… probably the last 7 years, I remain largely not much of a blogger anymore. Every year that I’ve attended the London Film Festival, I mean to write about what I saw and…. never get round to it.

Well. Here goes – a few words about all the new films I saw last year. At least I got into the practice of keeping a list of all the new films I saw over on Letterboxd and every time I added to it, took a look to re-arrange everything in order of how much I liked the films.

In reverse order then, starting with the film I enjoyed the least.

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron – Ugggh. This film was mostly just disappointing. What was going on with the Natasha Romanov/Bruce Banner thing? It came from nowhere and the relationship seemed out of character for both Romanov and Banner. Probably more because there was no lead up for us to see how it could have developed. Maybe…Nick Fury and Maria Hill were consistent with the rest of what we’ve seen in MCU? Everyone else? Not so much. 🙁
  • I Am Belfast – A kind of wandering essay film about Belfast. It was nice to look at and the people in it were great to hear from. That’s all I’ve got.
  • Blood Of My Blood – Half the film is set in 17th Italy and the other half in the same village in the modern-day. Amusing but felt kind of like there were 2 different films that didn’t have quiet enough story on their own kind of smushed half and half together.
  • Exotica, Erotica, Etc. – So I saw this film and then a few days later I saw Jay Malinowski at the Lexington (ditching one of the films I had planned to see at LFF because live music will probably always trump a thing I can see on DVD later) AND it felt like both things kind of mixed together – Jay Malinowski’s set was largely stuff from Martel, an album with a sort of nautical journey theme woven through.
  • Elstree 1976 – A documentary about some of the actors who appeared in the original Star Wars trilogy and how the films has affected their lives. I
  • Office – I can’t say that I ever thought I would see a Chinese musical in 3D entirely set in the corporate world but there it was. I only wish I understood the language to better enjoy it because I am CERTAIN there was clever wordplay that could not be contained in the translation.
  • Truth – Even though I was about 20 in 2004 I had no idea that the events in this film were even happening so it was fascinating to watch.
  • Youth – All I remember is that while I enjoyed this film, it felt like nothing really happened for a really long time which may have been the point. Also, Rachel Weisz was awesome in it.
  • Suffragette – Enjoyable enough but the main character Maud was a bit empty and obviously it was implausible for a newly minted suffragette to be at all the big moments of the suffragette movement at the time BUT I guess they had to somehow have a self-insert character for the audience to move through the story with? Maybe. Perhaps a film that followed the story of a real woman who was fighting for the vote would have been better.
  • Twinsters – SO I heard about these two sisters who had been adopted as babies by parents in different countries and who had found each other on Facebook a while back BUT THEN I guess they made a film and people I follow on twitter mentioned watching it and THERE IT WAS on Mum’s Netflix so I watched it and it was delightful and moving and heart-warming and all the things.
  • Magic Mike XXL – A DELIGHT from start to finish. I don’t think I have ever watched a film where every single person in the cinema with me had such a good time.
  • A Perfect Day – I don’t think I expected to watch anything so funny when I bought the ticket for this film, thinking “Oh yes, a film about aid workers in a war zone will be interesting,” but it was and I recommend it to everyone.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – All I knew about the series that this film was based on was that it had Robert Vaughan and Ducky from NCIS. Lots of fun to watch and obviously features Henry Cavill eating a sandwich as a key point in the film.
  • High-Rise – The thing about the London Film Festival is that I buy all my tickets in one go based on what the BFI website says the film is about and then I forget ENTIRELY what I have signed myself up to see. And it’s not like I know much about JG Ballard or Ben Wheatley anyway. I knew that this was about a futuristic apparently utopian 70s tower block with its social hierarchy arranged on the various levels and everything then degenerating into a dystopic horror show and at some point Tom Hiddleston got his kit off. It turned out to be GREAT and a DELIGHT and HILARIOUS.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens – I feel like I have only just seen this film (and kind of yeah, that’s true) and that I want to see it again in the cinema really soon BUT it is still my sixth favourite film of the year. Finn and Rey are ENCHANTING and I wouldn’t mind just watching a film where they go on an space-road-trip and discover the galaxy and everything they’ve never imagined.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road – While it feels like I only saw The Force Awakens five minutes ago, it feels like I watched Fury Road at least a year ago – even though this was my birthday film and that was only in May. I liked that this was basically the story of Furiosa and the Wives rather than Max.
  • John Wick – The violence and killing and everything was great and my Mum and I both enjoy violent action films but the REAL HIGHLIGHT was Keanu Reeves hanging out with a puppy.
  • Spy – So I guess a lot of my top ten includes film that were pretty funny but Spy is probably the funniest film I saw all year.
  • The Martian – I don’t like watching bad things happening to astronauts SO the idea of an astronaut being stranded on Mars was a bit daunting but this film is great and heart-warming and well-paced.
  • Jupiter Ascending – OF COURSE Jupiter Ascending was going to be my favourite films this year. It was ridiculous and awesome and Jupiter is a great heroine. It totally filled 2015’s Pacific Rim shaped space in last years cinema-going.

And that’s it. Who would have thought that Jupiter Ascending would have been so much better than Avengers: Age of Ultron at the beginning of the year?

Mirrored from half girl, half robot.

herdivineshadow: (i want to believe)

It seems like every year I’ve gone to LFF I don’t actually really talk about it until weeks and weeks later. Such is life. Luckily I keep my Letterboxd account updated and that helps me to remember. I think the only thing I’m hazy on are a few of the shorts that I saw. Onwards. There’s going to be spoilers (probably). There’s… going to be more than one part to this report on LFF.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from half girl, half robot.

herdivineshadow: (Default)

The Prince
The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had been expecting something more dry and boring. The Prince was a far quicker read than I thought it would be. Machiavelli doesn’t bother with flowery terms or dragging out his points.

It’ll be good to see how it compares to Erasmus’ The Education of a Christian Prince

View all my reviews

Originally published at half girl, half robot. You can comment here or there.

herdivineshadow: (Default)

The City & The City
The City & The City by China Miéville

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Something a little tangential to start with.

I was thinking about this quote I had rattling around in my head and knew that the original piece was said by a man to a woman but I couldn’t quite remember if it was in text or on film, in real life or in fiction but that I had heard/read it twice. In the end my google-fu turned up the film Bright Star which covers the relationship between John Keats and Fanny Brawne.

So.

That quote:

“The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore, but to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out, it is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery.”

Keats says this to Brawne after she turns up for her first lesson in poetry and he starts to wonder if he’s really up to that kind of task or if it can really be taught.

Anyway, having finished The City & The City, that line got me thinking about something Mieville said in the past about monsters.

“So I want to have monsters as a metaphor but I also want monsters because monsters are cool. There’s no contradiction.”

AND THEN, also about something that I occasionally hear from my favourite DJ on my favourite radio station, what seems like one or two people on tumblr and a handful of my music-loving friends on twitter…which is usually some variation on “Participate, not document” in regard to going to gigs and the sea of fellow attendees with cameraphones held aloft videoing the proceedings (I’m a phone Luddite, so generally I may take an actual camera with me but I still treat my digital camera like it’s a disposable film camera and if I do take pictures, I tend to end up with about 5 or 6 choice moments that may or may not be a little blurry).

(And no, I don’t entirely know what my point with that tangent was.)

The sort of general theme of wallowing in the experience probably applies to most of my take on existence. Which, I suppose, makes sense. I wallow in it. I don’t think too much about what the lyrics to a song might mean, but I enjoy the feel of them in my mouth.

And that’s the kind of approach I had with this book. I realise that, yes, there must be undertones of various messages threaded throughout…but for me that’s not the point. When I’m there, inhabiting the brainspace of the main character Borlu, I’m there. In Beszel or Ul Qoma. Unseeing and seeing. Weirdly (or not) I hear Borlu’s dialogue in Mieville’s voice. Another thing that occurred to me was that I regard both cities as somewhere much like Istanbul, but not. More almost but not quite, which I guess may be the point since any place mentioned in a detective story automatically becomes the alternate reality of whatever real place it might have been set in.

I liked it though. At one point I thought that Yolanda and Mahalia were the same person. I wondered if fic had been written of Corwi and Dhatt working together. I was highly suspicious of that one character who asked those very insistent, pointed questions. Other things.

View all my reviews

Originally published at half girl, half robot. You can comment here or there.

herdivineshadow: (Default)

Kraken
Kraken by China Miéville

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love books that deal with religions. Especially made up ones. I love books that deal with the whole world within a world/city within a city/otherside/invisible reality trope.

This kind of SMOOSHES them together. Which is ideal really.

I did read a few reviews where Mieville is accused of sticking in too many made up words and that making it harder to understand. I didn’t get that at all. If you need a word or term for something and there isn’t one, then make it up. At lease he draws on existing language to actually make the new terms make sense.

Although that might just be me, as I learnt a good deal of the vocabulary I possess by figuring out what words meant in context. It’s a pain in the next when I actually have to explain something to my mum, but it does come in handy with crosswords.

View all my reviews

Originally published at half girl, half robot. You can comment here or there.

herdivineshadow: (Default)

Stewart Lee!: The 'if You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask for One' Ep. Stewart Lee
Stewart Lee!: The ‘if You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask for One’ Ep. Stewart Lee by Stewart Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ll admit that I am terribly biased when it comes to Stewart Lee because I loved him when I was a teenager and he was skinny and not old. Luckily for me, Lee is still incredibly funny (and admittedly, still adorably cute – though that’s possibly not an adjective normally attributed to him).
This book is basically a transcript of his “If you prefer a milder comedian, please ask for one” show but with DVD extras (aka, the best footnotes of any author ever). It’s probably not the thing if you’re not familiar with Lee’s style or his delivery – you won’t hear his voice when you’re reading and I think that’s important because. Well. It’s a transcript isn’t it? The awkward pauses and repetition and failboatiness of his style is an integral part of what makes Stewart Lee funny and without prior knowledge of this…well, maybe get a DVD rather than a book.

View all my reviews

Originally published at half girl, half robot. You can comment here or there.

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