Thoughts on… My Most Watched Actors

I have a Letterboxd account and it’s pretty great. Letterboxd is the movie version of Goodreads so you can log what you watch, write reviews, make lists and follow different users. If you get a Pro account (which is only $19 a year which is about £15 and I think that’s pretty good value to be honest) you get to see what your various movie-related stats are each year you log films and overall on all the films you’ve ever marked as watched.

I’ve been looking at which actors I’ve watched the most overall and there’s some interesting things there but it does make me want to try and change some of my viewing habits.

Out of my top twenty most watched actors, just two of them are women – Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson. Scarlett Johansson was someone I was surprised to be there as she’s not one of my favourite actors nor someone who I’d go to see a film just because they’re in it. Her being in the Marvel Cinematic Universe certainly helped give her a boost and for a younger actor (she’s 32) she’s been in the business for a while and has an eclectic filmography. Rachel Weisz is a new addition because I have been watching more of her filmography recently, trying to get her (and more women in general) into my top twenty. In comparison to Johansson, Weisz is an actor who I love and will seek out films just because she’s in them but she usually stars in dramas or films that aren’t so mainstream hence while she is someone I do really like, her filmography isn’t always to my taste. (more…)

Advertisements

REVIEW: Journey’s End (2017)

Set in the trenches in Aisne in March 1918, the story focusses on C Company and it’s officers, led by the young Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin), as they wait for the German offensive they’ve been warned is imminent.

Journey’s End is a claustrophobic and tense film. The way it’s shot makes you feel like you’re in the trenches beside these young men. This is achieved by a lot of close ups and the fact you as the viewer only see as much as the characters do. Like them, you get no warning when there’s sniper fire or a barrage of bombs, you have the same information as the characters do and this increasingly racks up the tension.

The majority of the film is set in the trenches and in the officer’s dug out. The dynamics between the five officers, Stanhope, Osborne (Paul Bettany), Trotter (Stephen Graham), Hibbert (Tom Sturridge) and Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), switch between camaraderie to violence and anger as the pressures of their situations rest heavily on their shoulders. All actors give brilliant performances but Claflin was the standout. I’ve never thought he was a bad actor, but he never made much of an impact on me before, in Journey’s End he’s magnificent. The fear, anger and frustration was clear to see as he struggled to look out for his men when it seems like there’s no hope at all. He turns to drink to get him through but that in no way stops him being a good Captain, even as it’s clear to see his mental state is deteriorating.

While Journey’s End is a bleak film, there’s still moments of humour, most of them coming from the officer’s interactions with the cook Mason (Toby Jones). It’s often gallows humour but they are trying to make the most of their terrible situation. These moments of humour help flesh out all the characters as you get to see their personalities when they’re not just focused on what’s a few hundred metres across no man’s land.

Journey’s End is a powerful and gripping film. Everything comes together, the costume and set design, the simple yet haunting music, and the great performances, to make this a great war film. 4/5.

Finally Fall Book Tag

As I’ve said quite recently, I love Autumn. And look what I found that puts two of my favourite things (books and autumn) together – the Finally Fall Book Tag! This tag was created by Tall Tales, it features 11 questions and I’m just going to get stuck right in.

1. In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting!
The Gunslinger by Stephen King. This is the first book in The Dark Tower series and not a lot really happens in it but you definitely get a vivid description of this place that the Gunslinger roams. It’s like a desert in a dying world, and it feels incredibly lifeless and harsh.

2. Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.
The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinsborough. This is a short story about death, grief and the ties that binds a family until they don’t anymore and it’s beautiful. It’s very sad as a woman is basically with her father, in the family home, waiting for him to die as her siblings briefly visit them. It’s a great look at family connections and how they can break so easily while also being about how hard it is to see someone you love slip away.

3.Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.
The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla. I learnt so much about what it’s like being a person of colour in Britain today, and no matter how much I read up on it I’ll probably never understand it because I’m white. (more…)

Thoughts on… the Resident Evil films

Last month I finished watching the Resident Evil film series for the first time. I watched the first film back in May on Netflix and then when I saw a cheap deal on a box set of all the films I decided to get them and slowly make my way through them all.

The films are apparently very loosely based on video games with the same name. The films follow Alice (Milla Jovovich), someone who was once a security operative for the Umbrella Corporation, a bioengineering pharmaceutical company that develops bioweapons, as she fights against the corporation and the undead monsters it created with its bio weapons.

They are not particularly great films and the early ones haven’t aged particularly well in regards to the special effects but generally there’s something somewhat enjoyable/good to be found in each one. There’s often a lot of quick editing, making it hard to follow or appreciate action sequences and the dialogue isn’t always that great either. there’s a lot of heavy-handed exposition dumps throughout the film-series, especially in Resident Evil: Retribution. The later films were obviously shot/converted into 3D as there’s so many shots of bullets or knives flying towards the screen. It’s this sort of thing that might have looked cool or added something to the film if you were watching it in 3D in the cinema but now, watching it on the TV it’s just a gimmick.

My favourites out of the six-film series is the first Resident Evil film and Resident Evil: Extinction. The first film because it’s really quite a tense film that combines mystery and horror well. Being in The Hive (the underground research facility), such an enclosed space with only a small group of characters who are learning about the undead at the same pace you are is interesting. Plus, the deadly artificial intelligence offers an extra layer of threat because it has control of the whole place. The characters themselves all follow pretty typical military-esque stereotypes with strong, in control leader James Shade (Colin Salmon) and the lone-badass girl in the team Rain (Michelle Rodriguez).

I like Resident Evil: Extinction because it really feels like a post-apocalyptic world. It’s set in the desert states of America, Alice’s outfit is the most practical out of all her various outfits she wears across the films, and it’s got a lot of interesting characters like Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) who is really cool and capable and I loved his relationship with Alice, and Claire (Ali Larter) the leader of this ragtag group of survivors you follow. All the other character you see in this group of survivors are obviously somewhat smart and capable to have survived so long and when Alice comes into their lives, you get to really see how her abilities have developed.

Both films feature the zombie dogs which are my favourite scary creatures in the series. I think it’s because you see monster-humans a lot in media but you don’t really see the animals become undead or evil. The sequences with undead dogs and crows are some of my favourite, they’re instantly more tense and scary in my mind.

The Resident Evil franchise is not the best thing ever but in my mind, it’s not the worst either. I think Resident Evil: The Final Chapter did a good job at wrapping everything up, especially as the films seemed to get more convoluted as they went on. There was the various clones, characters who didn’t stay dead and the Umbrella Corporation’s over the top evil plans, it all got a bit confusing and unnecessary at times. I don’t feel I’ve wasted my time on them, they were mostly entertaining, easy-watches – though I didn’t really like Resident Evil: Afterlife, I found it kind of boring.

Have you watched the Resident Evil films? What do you think of them?

Why I love… Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

I love Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. They are two of the greatest tennis players who have ever lived and they are my favourite players. I am one of those people who likes and supports both of them, no matter who they are playing. When they end up playing each other I’m often torn because I love them both and never really know who I want to win, but I do know their matches will be incredible.

Theirs has been a rivalry that’s been going for thirteen years now. They’ve played each other 37 times so far, with Nadal leading with 23 wins to Federer’s 14 wins. Probably their most famous match is the Wimbledon 2008 final. It was pure magic and one of the first tennis matches I remember being riveted by, it was an example of phenomenal tennis. They’ve made each other improve their game and have set so many records individually and together. They’ve each had their problems and injuries and for them to come back in 2017, with Federer 36 years old and Nadal 31, and win the four major Grand Slams between them is incredible. This year Federer won Wimbledon for a record eighth time, and met Nadal in the Australian Open where he won in five sets. While Nadal won the US Open and he won his tenth French Open title (another record) and firmly cemented himself as the King of Clay.

Last month was the inaugural Laver Cup, a tournament organised by Roger Federer in the style of golf’s Ryder Cup, with Team Europe playing against Team World. It was an event that had its critics before it started as it doesn’t affects any players standings and was seen as more of an exhibition tournament more than something players want to win. Doubters were proved wrong as everyone involved was desperate to play their best and to win.

One of the highlights of the tournament was that Federer and Nadal, both playing for Team Europe, played a doubles match on the same time – the first time they’ve ever played together like that. It was a thrilling match and their opponents from Team World, Sam Querrey and Jack Sock, put up a fight, especially in the second set but Nadal and Federer went on to win the match, even if there were some slight mishaps where they were unused to playing together. Team Europe went on to win the tournament after Roger Federer defeated Nick Kyrgios, when in his excitement Rafa went and jumped into Roger’s arms!

The Laver Cup really highlighted how these two sportsmen not only respect each other, but how well they get along off the court. They are some of the fiercest rivals in sport ever but they have also become almost friends. It was wonderful seeing them on the same side, supporting each other and the younger players on the team. To be honest I don’t think I’d ever seen Rafa smile and laugh as much as he did that weakened, especially whenever he was with Roger. It was such a great tournament – and being able to watch their doubles match live was the best £6.99 I’ve ever spent (I got a Sky Sports 24 Hours Pass on Now TV).

They are both getting older, and they will have to retire at some point, but until then I’ll enjoy watching them play – both against one another, and against anyone else. I could write even more about Rafa and Roger and why I like them so much, but really it can be narrowed down to two things that applies to them both. 1. They are very talented tennis players and 2. They seem like generally nice, charismatic people. I could say so much about them, using their own quotes to describe each other, but I don’t want this post to be even longer than it already is.

I love them both and I’ll finish this post with a video from the Laver Cup someone highlighting Federer and Nadal’s friendship. Though I also have to mention this video, where Roger and Rafa are supposed to be filming an advert for a charity match and they cannot stop laughing – if I’m ever feeling down I watch this video and it always makes me feel better.

REVIEW: Bubblegum by Sari Taurez

*I received a free electronic advance reading copy of this book in return for an honest review*

Status means everything in this society, including the difference between life and death. Tiana is a pampered member of the higher class of society, until her mother cuts her off and she must make her own way in the world. Tiana has a plan though – she has a knack for murder. Julia is Tiana’s first client, a lower-class girl, who volunteers at the local orphanage – an orphanage that’s being targeted by the infamous brothel-owner Bobby Nails. But as Tiana investigates she finds she might be in over her head. Tiana and Julia face a dangerous enemy on their quest for vengeance and justice, and they soon discover that they’re stronger together than a part. But will it be enough to stop Nails and save the orphans from a terrible fate?

The setting of Bubblegum feels like the near-future. Technology is pretty similar but the class system is very much a dystopian ideal – the rich get protection and are free to do whatever they want, including kill people from lower classes, while the lower classes struggle to get by with limited opportunities when it comes to work and education.

Bubblegum is a lot of fun and that’s down to the larger than life characters and the fact the action never really lets up for long. The characters are what really pulled me into this story. Tiana is bold, confident and a bit selfish sometimes, she seems to steamroll over Julia (and others) quite a few times but slowly you get to see that she’s not always as tough as she appears and she does truly care for a few select people. Julia is great. She’s the most relatable character of the bunch. She doesn’t have a lot of money, she cares a lot about the children she works with at the orphanage and she is very well aware of the dangerous situations she is slowly getting herself into and has very realistic, yet level-headed, reactions to it all.

The dialogue between Tiana and Julia is great. To be honest, pretty much all the dialogue is quick and engaging, putting the point across without too much unnecessary exposition. It’s the relationship between Tiana and Julia as well as Ruby and William, two characters you are slowly introduced to and are just as engaging as the story progresses, that really makes Bubblegum for me. Tiana and Julia have such an unlikely yet solid friendship (what with Tiana being almost the stereotypical white rich girl while Julia is the black poor girl) and when Ruby and William come along they dynamic shifts but they all make a badass yet kind of messed up group of people.

I’m pretty sure Bubblegum is the first New Adult story I’ve read and if this is the kind of thing the NA bracket brings I’ll be reading more of it. Bubblegum doesn’t shy away from gory violence and it does have some sex scenes but nothing too explicit. However, there are references to prostitution, including child prostitution, and sexual violence.

While I can’t say anything about how good the representation is, there is a female/female romance between a lesbian character and a transgender character. The relationship between the two is organic and sweet and you’re really rooting for them both, especially as their personalities are kind of the complete opposite but they compliment each other a lot.

Bubblegum is action-packed and while it does feature tough themes like human-trafficking and prostitution, it still manages to be fun without lessening the traumas the characters face in these situations. 4/5.

Bubblegum is released on 9th October 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Books Featuring Witches

Top 5 Wednesday is a great feature created by GingerReadsLainey and hosted by ThoughtsonTomes. To find out more about Top 5 Wednesday and the upcoming topics, check out its Goodreads page. This week it’s about books that feature witches, whether they are the main characters or there just happens to be a witch as a side character.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Eragon, and the whole Inheritance Cycle, features one of my favourite witches ever – Angela. I love her so much because she’s much older and wiser than she appears, she can make potions, she can fight and maybe she can see the future. You never really know what she’s capable of and that’s what makes Angela such a great character.

Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan
This is the first book in the Sweep (or as I knew it Wicca) series. it’s about a girl called Morgan who thinks she’s perfectly normally until she discovers she’s a “blood witch” which is someone who is born with magical powers and she’s in fact a descendent of a long line of witches. I read this book, and the whole series, when I was about eleven or twelve and it was the first series I read solely by getting it out of the library.

Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
It’s been a while since I’ve read Northern Lights but the witches in it, including witch queen Serafina Pekkala, came straight to mind when I saw this week’s topic. The witches in this book live in the north, don’t feel the cold and they can fly if they have the right type of tree branch. I really like their relationship with their dæmons, which are always birds, because they can be a part from each other without it causing either of them pain.

The Graces by Laure Eve
The Graces is one of those books where you it makes you wonder if magic and witches are real or if what happens is just pure chance. It’s such an intriguing read and there’s definitely magic in the air of some sort and the Graces do seem all powerful and mysterious.

Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pieńkowski
This is the first book I thought of when I saw this topic. It’s an illustrated series of stories about a witch called Meg whose spells always go a bit wrong and her black and white stripped cat Mog. I had a collection of these stories when I was little and apparently I drove my mum mad by getting her to read it to me every single night!

What are some of your favourite books featuring witches?