Insomnia (Stephen King, 1994)

Posted in books with tags , , , , on 17/06/2014 by ser

I used to devour Stephen King books when I was in highschool, but then I stupidly stopped. I think some of the 90s movie adaptations (Tommyknockers and Sleepwalkers spring to mind) could take some of the blame. Anyway, I decided to give his post 1990 books another chance. I was recommended this, amongst others, so that’s how I ended up reading Insomnia.

I actually really liked the first half, when the ‘mission’ wasn’t so important and neither you nor the characters really know what’s actually going on. I also love the fact that the protagonists are elderly people.

But then, once the questions start getting their answers and they get their ‘quest’, everything starts to feel slightly bloated and I lost interest. I never wanted to put it down or anything, but I simply wasn’t that keen. Some of the passages were not particularly well written either.

I am sure I will read some more of his stuff, but I doubt I will overdose on his books like I did when I was a kid.

7/10

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The Lego Movie (Chris Miller, Phil Lord, 2014)

Posted in films with tags , , , , , , on 09/06/2014 by ser

EVERYTHING IS AWESOOOOME! It really is! This is, like everybody says, so much fun. I love the idea of the tongue-in-cheek quest which serves as a satirical homage to fantasy movies, but one made with so much love. I laughed at all the references (Superman and Green Lantern, Dumbledor-I-mean-Gandalf…. and of course Batman!). Batman is fo great that for a moment I thought he would steal the show (his song is incredible) but the rest of the characters are so strong that it doesn’t really happen. Emmet and Unikitty are of course adorable, but there is also the amazingness of Wild Style and Ben! I love Ben! And good cop!

On a thematic level, I really enjoyed the corporate criticism from within, sort of a-la Wall-e, and even the ‘you are special’ message. And the benefits of team effort, of course.

Also, I can’t get enough of all those water, foam and smoke pieces.

I want to watch this again, soon.

“SPACESHIP, SPACESHIP, SPACESHIP!”

8.5/10

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Bryan Singer, 2014)

Posted in films with tags , , , , , on 02/06/2014 by ser

I’ve said it many times, but reading X-Men comics should be compulsory in highschools. It’s not only that most teenagers feel like mutants as they are going through puberty, it’s that if you are in a minority these characters show you that you are cool as you are and you are the hero. They are literally empowering you. Mutants for me fall in two groups: those whose mutations are obvious to the eye (and therefore stand for things like race, gender, physical disability or size) and those who look like other humans and their ‘mutation’ is most of the time hidden (standing then for other things like religion, mental disability or sexual orientation). On top of all that, it also deals with issues of identity and fear of ‘the other’, as well as other philosophical and ethical tropes.

Now, after this wee introductory rant, let’s talk about the latest movie adaptation.

::: SPOILER ALERT :::

I really enjoyed it, I had great fun and time seemed to fly by. I loved everything to do with the sentinels, both past and future. It’s not that I like it when my heroes suffer, but the fights were pretty awesome, especially the first one with Blink, Bishop and company. In a way, I wanted more of these guys, a couple of scenes is not enough! More Colossus, please! More Kitty Pryde! Oh, and definitely more bearded Iceman! But I understand that that’s not where the story was.

I am not sure the time travel storyline withstands careful scrutiny and I am happy not to go looking for paradoxes, but some of it is a bit simplistic. Let’s not think about it too much, but playing with time travel is a tricky thing indeed.

There are several things from previous instalments that are left unanswered, like why is Xavier alive in the future, but I don’t think most of them constitute continuity errors (just because they don’t explain it to you, it does not mean it’s an error; there is an explanation somewhere, they just don’t tell it to you). Oh, and about Bolivar Trask being a black man in Last Stand, well, they changed the actor to Peter Dinklage. No complaints.

Also, new characters! Quicksilver! He was adorable and awesome. And I almost came in my pants at the very end when we see a shot of him and his little sister watching telly. IS THAT THE SCARLET WITCH AS A BABY?! Alas, no she isn’t, as they are supposed to be twins. But I was so happy for a while, thinking about the X-Men/Avengers crossover. Sigh.

Regarding the performances, I liked them all, to be honest, but I do like all those actors. I thought Fassbender was better than in First Class and I must say that Nicholas Hoult was excellent again as Hank McCoy.

So yes, great fun. And I did like the new timeline and sentimental happy ending. However, does that mean Wolverine still has bone claws?

8.5/10

Seconds (John Frankenheimer, 1966)

Posted in films with tags , , , , , , on 01/06/2014 by ser

Probably one of the most stunning films ever made. Thank you Nick and Graham for recommending this. Half Kafkaesque nightmare, half Lynchean weird dream, this sci-fi drama with its surreal imagery totally rocks my boat. Not only that, but one of the main themes is identity (mirrors! loads of mirrors!) and there are several hospital and operating theatre scenes, too. I loved everything in that strange building full of neverending corridors and strange civil servant-type people.

The music is outstanding, too.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy so much is the hippy grape-orgy in the middle (I liked how he was so uptight and then finally gave in, but the scene lasted for far too long), but the rest is quite simply glorious.

9/10

 

 

Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery (Richard Brautigan, 1975)

Posted in books with tags , , , on 26/05/2014 by ser

I really enjoyed this. After a shaky S&M beginning, where I wasn’t sure I was reading the correct book, I totally fell for it. Actually the failed bondage episodes are probably my favourite: they are sad, embarrassing and almost adorable. One thing is sure: they are anything but erotic. I totally fell in love with the older couple. Poor woman, that scene where she asks for a glass of water and gets a peanut butter sandwich instead probably sums up the state of their relationship pretty well.

The use of language is really  impressive, too, with the short sentences, the miniscule chapters and their amusing titles.

And then there’s the brothers and their quest. They are only referred to by the actions they are doing and they have a distinct Coen Brothers feel about them. Please, please, please Ethan and Joel, please adapt this to the big screen.

All in all, a brilliant wee book.

8/10

Brilliant wee book.

Quiver (Kevin Smith, Phil Hester et al, 2011)

Posted in comics with tags , , , , on 25/05/2014 by ser

My weakness for archers is widely known and it all started when I was a little boy, with Green Arrow and Hawkeye. I’ve recently started watching Arrow, the tv series, so I decided to revisit some of the original material. I looked online for the best Green Arrow comics and ‘Quiver’ was the only one I could find in my local library. Easy choice, then.

I was surprised to see Kevin Smith had penned the story, I had no idea he collaborated with DC. Anyway, the artwork feels a bit too 90s for me, but I liked the panel sequencing and the story gripped me. I must say that Smith had some guts when writing this, as it throws the reader in media res and does not bother to tell you much of the background. Once thing that bores me to death in the Dare Devil comics I’ve read, for example, is how they always feel the need to tell you his story. None of that nonsense here, the characters come into play as if you already know what’s going on and who they are. I must say, I really enjoyed that, even when it meant I wasn’t really sure I was following. I loved that bit when he meets his Justice League pals again and they explain to him that he is supposed to be dead. Brilliant.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed it. But you know me, give me a bearded blond archer that looks out of ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ and I am happy. Heh.

7/10

Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes (Mary and Bryan Talbot, 2012)

Posted in comics with tags , , , , , on 23/05/2014 by ser

I loved the art, but I somehow only managed to click with the Lucia James story. I had no idea of her life and I really enjoyed learning about her, the relationship with her father and Samuel Becket, her dance career and her mental deterioration.

I wasn’t so keen on the Mary Talbot story or how it linked, if at all, with Lucia’s life. I did love, however, how the inaccuracies in the artwork were corrected in writing and left on the page instead of modifying the drawing altogether. A very nice touch.

But, all in all, I don’t think this will stay with me.

Nice how they chose to publish it on a 2nd of February: not only James Joyce’s birthday and Groundhog Day (like they point out in the book), but my birthday, too.

6.5/10