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Life of Pi – The Movie

5 Feb

Life_of_Pi_2012_Poster

I knew the book for years now, I had never read it but I knew of its existence, for some inexplicable reason it never really appealed to me. Honestly though I had no idea what the story about and some part of me had always thought it was about some mathematics genius and I don’t know how it happened but on the version of the book cover I knew I had never really noticed the ship, tiger and fishes. Somehow in my mind it had settled itself as a blue cover with math signs on it. Boy was I wrong! I still haven’t read the books but it’s on my to read list now so I’ll get there at some point. As one of my reading resolutions of this year is to read a bit more adult fiction (not counting the ones I read for my research), I should give it a go this year. The movie seemed like one of those one has to see so off to the movies I went with my friend.

Yay!

  • The stunning visuals, it’s a long movie but you never get bored due to the wonderful cinematography. Be it India or the wide open sea, a tropical island or hallucinations, there’s never a boring visual moment in this movie.
  • The acting skills of young Pi Patel, Suraj Sharma. I love that they chose an unknown actor for this part, it gives the main character that innocence it needs and not somebody who maybe tries to overdo it.
  • The fact that the tiger was CGI most of the time because really in this day and age we don’t need real animals anymore, also it was amazing CGI because Richard Parker looked amazingly real. Although I would have liked to see a 100% use of CGI.
  • The way Pi embraces all religions, I’m not religious but I liked the way it was dealt with in this movie.
  • The main thematic of the movie, when somebody tells us a story, can we ever completely believe it? And what is actually reality and what is fantasy?
  • Man’s relationship with the forces of nature and how helpless we can be in the light of some things juxtaposed to the fact that Richard Parker and Pi have to find a way to survive the wild open sea.
  • The hopelessness and desolation coming across the screen, the movie in some way feels a bit claustrophobic but it’s beautiful to see how Pi never seems to completely lose hope.

Nay…

  • I keep thinking that the theme of which story is true lends itself better to a book, thinking of the question how reliable a narrator is or can be. It was however wonderfully done in this movie and I can only really judge this when I read the book.
  • They could have used only CGI for the tiger.

All in All

I really liked this movie and I went in not knowing a lot about it which was probably a good thing because I could just let it all wash over me. It’s a long movie but you won’t be bored for a second. There’s nothing really bad I can say about this movie so if you want to see a stunning movie that has amazing visuals and tells a wonderful story satisfying your mind and eyes, you should definitely watch this.

4 stars

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January Movies

5 Feb

As I haven’t done any movie reviews of any of the movies I watched in January so let’s have a look.

I started out my year by re-watching both of the Bridget Jones movies, after I had re-watched Love Actually, I felt like seeing some more Hugh Grant so I decided to re-watch these two.

bridgetjones1 bridgetjones2Yay!

  • Hugh Grant. Seriously, nothing else needs to be said. So sexy as a bad boy.
  • Colin Firth. I’m a Hugh fan girl but in these movies Colin Firth even convinces me, he’s just the perfect mix of a man.
  • Bridget, she’s not perfect and relatable to a lot of women, which is quite refreshing
  • The group of friends, they’re awesome and honest
  • The humor, they’re the kind of movies that have you laughing out loud even though you’ve already seen them.
  • The romance, which is so perfect yet not perfect because Bridget keeps messing it up.
  • The fights between Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, one should only watch these for those alone.

Nay…

  • The second movie seems to be trying a bit too hard and relies a too much on practical jokes.
  • The whole plot in Thailand and Bridget going to prison is far from realistic, she’s not THAT stupid.
  • Daniel having ordered a hooker and taking Bridget to his room, seriously?!

All in all

These are obviously not highbrow movies but I like my romantic comedies from time to time and even more so when they star Hugh Grant (in any format, bad boy or not) and these are particularly funnies and movies that I can re-watch from time to time and still get lost in it. They’re kinda refreshing and Renee Zellweger is the perfect Bridget, even though there was probably nobody who thought she would be when she was first cast.

4 stars for the first one and 3 stars for the second one.

518efKfpDWL._SX500_Yay!

  • The ending was great, loved the music and the dancing.
  • Melissa McCarthy.
  • The friendships.
  • The food poisoning and the scene at the bridal store, I’m usually not a fan of this kind of humor but this was kinda funny, I mean Melissa McCarthy on that sink? Hilarious!

Nay…

  • I’m not a huge wedding fan so the whole theme of the movie was not my kind of thing.
  • It’s a movie you easily forget.
  • It wasn’t as funny as it’s made out to be.
  • The main actress was kinda meh.
  • The creepy cousins.

All in all

Honestly, it’s one of those movies I watched and didn’t really think about, I remember some things and I remember laughing about some things and liking the end of it but I don’t really have a lot to say about this one.

3 stars

Brave: Change Your Fate

3 Sep

I while ago I went to see Brave with a friend. Mostly because my friend loves anything Disney and he asked if I wanted to come. I didn’t really know a lot about the movie going into it besides that it was about a princess with an awesome head of red, curly and unruly hair. That alone as was more than enough to have me go and see the movie. I was definitely in for a surprise!

Yes the movie is about a little princes with a head of red unrluy hair but this is not your ordinary princess. Merida is a strong little girl who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go for it. She loves to ride her horse, climb mountains and she practices archery really well. Being set in Scotland the red hair is a distinct feature of Merida’s Scottish heritage but it is also a symbol for her fierceness and bravery, and with curls going everywhere it’s a symbol for her not being the one to just settle and just do whatever is expected from her. I absolutely loved how this movie turned gender stereotypes proposed for years by movies about princesses upside down, not only with Merida but also with the princes from other clans because they’re not exactly what you’d call handsome strong princes. And even with her own parents, while her dad is really large and bulky, it does actually seem to be her mother who wears the pants in the household (even though she is the one who wants Merida to act like a “real girl”).

This movie finally gives little girls a princess who sets a good example for them and teaches them that they can achieve anything they want and that they can follow their own paths in life. It also shows a very sweet relationship between a mother and a daughter who need to come to terms with who the other is and wants and accepting those facts. Hopefully this is another message kids going to see this movie take with them, as their parents should as well.

Besides the message this movie sends, it is also simply entertaining, you’ll surely have some good laughs and it’s beautifully made with stunning visuals and a wonderful soundtrack.

Review of Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone

11 Aug

Thanks to Netgalley, Penguin Group USA and Viking USA for an arc to review!

I set out reading Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone expecting a completely different book than it turned out to be. What I expected was a light summer read set in Italy. Well, it was set in Italy and parts of the book take place in Italy but it’s far from what I expected.

Swimming to Elba deals with two girls, Anna and Francesca, who are best friends and live in the industrial town Piombino. They’re 13 years old and it’s the summer before they start high school. The girls look like complete opposites, Anna with dark curls and Francesca with straight blond hair, but they live their lives as if they are one and have done so ever since they were little kids. This will change once the start high school because Anna is the smart one of the two and she’ll attend a different high school than Francesca. However the girls are convinced they will remain best friends and are set on enjoying their last summer before venturing into this new life. It is this summer they have discovered the impact they and their bodies have on others so they start using their looks and newly discovered sexuality to tease boys and men around their town. Both their families are far from perfect, Francesca’s father Enrico beats his wife Rosa regularly, and does the same thing to Francesca especially because he doesn’t like his daughter showing of her body and getting involved with boys. Anna’s father works at the local steel factory but when he gets fired he starts to get involved in criminal activities and disappears from their family several times. The girls find support in each other and their friendship and always dream of getting away from their town, one of their dreams to get away is to swim to Elba, the luxurious island glistening in the sun, which they can see from their side of the beach. They also dream about getting older and finally being able to take part in the enticing adult and night life of their town, which includes parties, drugs and being able to get around on a Vespa when they turn 14.

Things take a turn for the worse however when Francesca realizes that she is in love with Anna, when she confesses her feelings, the first wedge in their friendship is created and soon after they fall out of touch completely when Anna falls in love with her brother’s friend Mattia, who is much older than she is. Both girls keep thinking about each other of and on though and both girls keep dreaming of escaping the worker’s apartments in Via Stalingrado and Piombino. Anna and Francesca soon start growing up way too fast, experiencing things they are not ready for yet. Anna by getting involved with Mattia and engaging in a sexual relationship and Francesca eventually by having to drop out of school and help out at home and by trying to follow her dreams of becoming famous and getting away, which has her ending up working in the sex industry.

Besides Anna and Francesca we also get the bleak stories of their parents, Anna’s brother Alessio and their friends and other people living in Piombino. Nobody seems to be really happy and everybody has to deal with their own problems.

The novel is written in a marvelous style, Avallone really transports you to the locations the novel takes place in with a lot of detail, while reading you can imagine every place in your head as watching a movie and in my opinion, if an author can do that in a way it doesn’t get repetitive or feel forced, they really know their craft. Even if you have never been to Italy and don’t know a single thing about the country, you will love the style of writing because it takes you to that wonderful country. If you know the country very well, you’ll be fascinated by all the things you recognize while reading; and if you only know the more glamorous parts of Italy, it will be quite a change to see this other part of the country.

I really liked the juxtaposing of Elba, the paradise where everything seems to be better to the girls from Via Stalingrado, and Piombino with its industrial bleakness. Elba is a symbol for all the dreams the girls, and probably other people in Piombino have, a whole other world, only a ferry ride away yet still so far away.

Swimming to Elba definitely leaves you with an uncomfortable feeling at certain points and while it only gets worse in that sense towards the end, the ending of the novel itself gives a bit of hope, hope that maybe it is possible to escape the life most people seem to be living in Piombino, maybe it is possible to make something of yourself and just maybe these girls will end up doing just that, maybe they’ll even do that because they experienced so many things in that one year, and grew up so fast.

To come back to the first sentence of my review, I’m glad that this novel was not what I expected it to be, I’m glad it was not just a summer read because while not an uplifting holiday read that you can read without really thinking, and while being a book that can make you uncomfortable at times, this is a novel you shouldn’t miss out on. It’s an outstanding coming of age story of two girls that are unsympathetic at times yet at other times you feel immensely sad for them and what they are going through. Moreover, the prose is simply astounding and I’ll be looking forward to reading more by Silvia Avallone.

Review of UR by Stephen King

1 Aug

URUR by Stephen King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked the premise of this novella but I didn’t like the execution of it all too much. There are some interesting ideas raised but they are not dealt with extensively which is too bad but understandable because it’s a short novella.

The characters were all flat and definitely didn’t click with me and the style of writing was in no way appealing to me unfortunately.

View all my reviews

Review of Eating Animals

29 Jul

Eating AnimalsEating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an amazing book, very difficult to read at times because of the particular topic. It’s very well written and researched and Jonathan Safran Foer lets people from all areas that come in play when it comes to eating animals. He never tries to come across as better than people who aren’t vegetarians, it’s simply informing about any things that are of concern when it comes to this topic and whether you are a vegetarian/vegan or you eat meat every day, people should be better informed about where their food comes from.

It was an especially interesting read because he included his own decision and decision making to become a vegetarian as well. Especially I have recently made the same decision it was interesting to read about his process and motives. The book only made me feel stronger about the decision I made to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. I definitely recommend it to everybody who wants to know more about the topic!

I admire Jonathan Safran Foer for writing this book in the way he did, touching and informative and he never tries to tell people what to do and that his lifestyle is the best one.

View all my reviews

Review of The Glimpse by Claire Merle

20 Jul

Thanks to Netgalley and Faber and Faber for an arc to review!

The Glimpse by Claire Merle deals with a future London that is divided into two sections, one is the Community where the “Pures” live, the people that don’t have a mental disability, the other part is the outside world, the city, where the “Crazies”, people with a gene that could lead to a mental illness live; they are the people that are considered dangerous and a risk to society. The protagonist, Ana, was considered a ‘Pure’ and she lives in the Community. However it turns out there has been made a mistake in her DNA test and she does actually carry the gene that would make her prone to a mental illness according to society. Because she is bound to me married to Jasper, a Pure boy, Ana is allowed to keep living in the Community unless she does become ill or Jasper decides not to marry her.

This is the premise of the book and how it starts, however shortly before their bounding date ceremony, Jasper is abducted by a sect like group of people and because the authorities don’t do anything about it, Ana decides to try and find him herself and sneaks out of the Community. As she makes her way in the City looking for clues that might lead her to Jasper she meets a group of people believed to be involved in the abduction. However as Ana slowly finds out, things she has believed to be true her whole life aren’t as she thinks they are.

It seems like this book has stirred up quite some controversy because of it’s theme of mental illness. I think, however, that the fact Claire Merle decided to take up this kind of theme for a dystopian novel is quite interesting and it’s a daring concept to tackle. Surely, she didn’t mean to offend any people with it and it’s just another way for a government to oppress a society and enforce their rules on people. Besides throughout the book, it’s quite obvious that Merle does not approve of a society like this (and I doubt any writer of a dystopian novel would, they are just showing us yet another way of a possible future).

It took me quite a while to get into the book and I think I never really completely felt it. Sometimes it seemed to slow and at other times it seemed like random plot developments were thrown in. There were certain passages that really engaged me, especially in the third half of the books, but it didn’t put me completely under its spell and I’m not sure I can put a finger on what it was exactly. I did like the brutal honestly some parts were written with, especially the passages in the mental institution and I think that was when I really got into the book and where I finally found what I was missing before.

I’m not really convinced by Ana, the protagonist, but I can see how others might like her but I didn’t think she was as strong as other female leads but this could obviously be explained by the fact that she has been fed lies all her life and grew up in the protected Community. In general I wasn’t really convinced by other characters in the book either, they could have been fleshed out a bit more and given a bit more detail. Another thing that didn’t really work for me, was the romance part of the book because it didn’t really feel real and it was done way too quickly in my opinion. In the end I also feel that too much value is put on the romance story instead of delving more into what’s wrong in society.

I will probably pick up the second book of this series as well to see how the story develops and hopefully we will get to know more about what is wrong with the world and an actual kind of revolution. I’m also looking forward to reading more about the glimpse the book get its title from and the Enlightenment project, both of which we didn’t really get to know a lot about in this first installment.

Lastly, props to whoever designed the cover!