Jack Loves Rosie Blog Tour- Important Journeys

Rosie Loves Jack by Mal Darbon is one of my favourite reads of 2018. It hooked me from the first page and reduced me to tears by the delightful ending. It is my absolute pleasure to be part of this blog tour, telling you about my own journey of discovery.

Getting Lost and Finding Myself

The Giant’s Causeway

In July 2016 I was in a weird place. I’d lost a bit of who I was while trying to be what I thought other people liked. Namely a boy. I’d convinced myself that if I lost enough weight, he’d at least look at me in away that wasn’t disgust. To me, he was beautiful, funny and I would have been happy for him to just be my friend.

He never did see me as anything other than ugly and pathetic and I didn’t speak to him again when I left my job in July. I was 3 stone lighter,but I was also beginning my journey into managing the chemical imbalance in my brain that had led to life defining anxiety and depression. I don’t think I’d ever hated myself more.

One of my favourite people in the whole world suggested a trip to Oban and the Outer Hebrides by way of landing on the beach of Barra. I jumped at the chance and hoped time away would mend my broken soul.

Finding Myself

One thing I decided before we left was that I would use this opportunity to try foods I wouldn’t normally. No burgers, no pizza and no salads. Being Scotland, my diet became primarily fish based. From the ‘best fish and chips’ to muscles, I tried it all.

The best part of this new mind set was trying oysters for the first time. London isn’t void of the shellfish; but they’re never cheap especially when you’re not certain you’ll like them. Turns out, I love them and that moment marked a much more experimental me when it comes to food.

The whole experience was documented

Searching for gods in all the Ancient Places

My friend, knowing I was struggling with my mental health,found some ancient rituals that took place in the area we visited. One was sacrificing wine to the god in order to be given good health over the following year. I didn’t have any wine on me, so I’m hoping the grapes I chucked were accepted with equally good grace.

The other was to walk 7 times around the church in a clockwise direction to improve your mental outlook. Having waded into the sea to offer my grapes, I didn’t want to put on my shoes. I figures the surrounding area of the church in question would be grass so off I went down the path towards the church.

How wrong I was. Not only was the quarter mile to the church(only accessible by foot) pathed with sharp rocks and nettles, so was the entire path around the church; it was almost as if someone knew I was going to attempt to do this barefoot.

The first lap was unbearable and I considered giving up and just letting my friend complete it without me. That was when I noticed there was a small concrete section next to the wall of the building. If I was careful with my footing and pace; I could walk it pain free. And so I did.

There were the corners that were hard and if I took them too fast, my feet paid the price. However, the last two laps were taken without a single misstep. Not sure it was what I was meant to take away from the activity, but I certainly saw it as a perfect metaphor for my own mental health.

From God to a Naughty Dog

I wasn’t the only person who was lost on this holiday in the highlands. While trying to find out way to our fourth (possibly fifth?) hotel of the trip, we encountered what looked like a frightened and lost terrier dog.

After getting our directions from the Post Office that just so happened to be back the way we’d come, I decided to walk while my friend drove ahead. This was in the hopes of me capturing the lost looking pup and getting him back home. I should point out here that I’m a little bit like Hagrid; I’d spent the entire trip trying to stroke the cows and any other animals we happened upon.

Alvie

However, I soon realised he had a cunning, yet dastardly, plan. The ankle height beauty would stand still, trembling until I got to grasping distance; when he’d run away at full speed. He then leapt over the grassy dip at the side of the road and waited on the other side. There was nothing for it but to jump over myself. Except I fell into the dip and plastered myself with mud. I swear I heard him laugh.

I gave up after that and decided to inform whomever lived at the house we’d just past, figuring that it must be theirs. The gentleman opened his door. Between myself and my friend, we explained that we’d seen this dog, that we’d tried to catch him and that if he was to hear about a lost dog we’d last seen it in what we assumed was his field.

“Oh, that’s Alvie! He’s forever getting out of my neighbour’s yard and causing mischief.”

Rosie Loves Jack is out now. 

Christmas Film Advent- Christmas Carol (1951)

“There’s more gravy than grave about you”

Length: 1 Hr 27
About: Crotchety Victorian businessman Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) has no use for festivity, even at Christmas. After resentfully allowing timid clerk Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns) to have the holiday to spend with his loving wife (Hermione Baddeley) and family, Scrooge is swept into a nightmare. The ghost of his late partner, Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern), appears, warning that Ebenezer will be visited by three more spirits who will show the cold hearted man the error of his parsimonious behavior.

If there’s ever a film that demonstrates the exact reason why remakes are redundant, this is it. 

The Good

I don’t actually know where to start. It’s not shiny, new or sickly sweet and I adore it. Alastair Sim is the Scrooge I never knew I needed; the bitterness that often comes across as one note is layered and tinged with such a regret that I feel for him, even before the supernatural visitors that will change his outlook.
 The famous Marley scene in which Scrooge is met with his late partner is nothing short of masterful; the music and sound effects are chilling, the acting is on point and Marley’s ghost is more realistic that the ghosts seen in 2016’s Ghostbusters. Sure, you can tell its some sort of camera trickery, but that is all part of its charm.
What caught my attention with this version was the religious commentary throughout. If you asked me to state one line from Christmas Carol, it would undoubtedly be ‘God bless us, everyone.’ Yet, I’ve never really considered it a religious film at all. Yet, the premise itself is one of salvation; Marley, knowing what awaits his friend sends Scrooge on a journey to save his soul. It’s a beautiful message that demonstrates a truer meaning of Christmas than any other film could ever address. 

The Bad

This isn’t so much a bad, but more of a sad. We spend so much time with the ghost of Christmas Past, and yet the Present and Future seem nothing more than fleeting lip service. It’s a shame because it’s quite clear a lot of his change in view happens within the latter two ghosts that its hard not to feel. in hindsight, a little overdosed by exposition. Of course, at the time I was just happy to see how the story played out.
Then, there’s the matter of what the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows dear Ebenezer. It’s hard to make out at first when the audience arrives at the Rag and Bone man’s shop who the three people are talking about with such disregard. Then you feel the knot tighten in your stomach and you hope that your suspicions are not going to be right. It’s the curtains that give it away; they’ve ransacked Ebenezer’s house for all its worth. It makes for an interesting contrast to Scrooge’s treatment of Marley’s estate, but this is something that has been overlooked in modern retellings. I can see why; its a dark, ashamedly realistic, portrayal of humanity. It, again, is here in the bad not because it shouldn’t be there, but because it pulled me up short. I’m certain its exactly how Scrooge would have felt hearing it.

The Ugly

Not something about children again?! Yes, I’m afraid so. Only, this time our leading man is free and clear of my wrath. This time my issue is with Tiny Tim. What the hell?! Aren’t I meant to feel sorry for the character whose described in ways that are no longer politically correct?! The actor they’ve got is an over acting little shit and I all but cheer at the future that sees him buried in a ‘lovely’ patch with shade.
That’s not how Tiny Tim should be; you should understand his popularity within the Cratchit household and feel the insurmountable loss that his absence brings with it.
Luckily, he isn’t burdened with my favourite line and outside of Christmas present, the actor’s lines are kept to a minimum and I can pretend he’s cuter than he really is.

Final thoughts

This film has not only shot to the top of my Scrooge/ Christmas Carol movies, ousting long standing Murray from his perch, it currently is claiming top spot of the all the movies watched so far this advent. I’ll be honest, it’s going to take something amazing to replace it.
I’m off to watch Lethal Weapon on my phone; the internet won’t play night and stream the Gibson festive offering on my TV. Humbug!

Good night and god bless us, everyone x

Q and A with Victor Dixen

If you were part of the crew, waiting to meet your future partner, what would your approach to the speed dating be?

 

Well, I think I would adopt the same position as Léonor: enjoy the trip to space and try to stay authentic, escaping the show business madness.

I would probably use a “logical” rule as she did, inviting each contestant the exact same number of times to attend the speed-dating sessions with me.

But is it really possible, to be both part of the game and out of the game?

This is one of the questions raised in Phobos 

 

 

The Phobos series feels very epic. Would you be happy to see your work turned into a film or tv series?

Actually, I wrote Phobos a bit like script or a storyboard. Instead of “chapters”, I chose to organize the text around “sequences”, each of them corresponding to a different camera angle. Since Phobos is primarily a novel about images and screens, I thought it would be logical and impactful to have this kind of partitioning.

 

I really visualized this story in my head while writing it, and I would love to see it again on a real screen – re-imagined by a director!

 

 

If the series was turned into a TV show or film, do you have any cast in mind?

Not really…

But I’m always interested to see the proposed casting posted by readers on social networks and blogs. I gathered a few of them here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/victor.dixen.books/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1046079018771786

There is one actress though who I could totally see playing the role of Serena, though: the great Tilda Swinton!

 

 

Were you ever tempted to make fundamental changes to the series before translation?

It always feels great when I learn that one of my books will be published in another language, because it means that the story will be shared with new readers.

For the English translation, a very talented translator has been appointed by my British publisher Bonnier: Daniel Hahn. He actually pointed out a few things we should change for the English edition, for the sake of cultural background or consistency. Apart from that, I didn’t feel the need to make significant changes.  

 

 

 

If you could give your readers an insight into the third book with three words: what would they be?

NEVER . ADMIT . DEFEAT

 

What was your initial inspiration for the series?

There are two ideas at the origin of Phobos.

The first idea is linked to space conquest, a theme that has always interested me since I was a child. Today, we have the technology allowing us to go to Mars, but not to come back. The possibility of a one-way ticket stimulated my imagination.

The second idea is linked to the way our world seems to be fascinated by images. We are surrounded by screens, for better and for worse. On the one hand, screens give us the possibility to establish dialogues and relationships throughout the world, and they are also an unlimited territory for creativity. But on the other hand, it is difficult to escape from the flux of images: screens prompt us to react emotionally and instantly to every stimulus, without thinking first. 

That is the reason why images are so important in Phobos :image of the self, image of the others, false appearances. 

 

 

Which other French authors, other than yourself, would you recommend for young adults taking their GCSEs in order to develop their language skills?

Christelle Dabos has built a great fantasy world in her series “La Passe-Miroir”, that has just been translated to English this year under the title “The Mirror Visitor Quartet”. It’s great that this story is available in the 2 languages, for readers who want to develop their French while still keeping an eye on the English text. You will find here the same sense of wonder in the magical “His Dark Material” series, by Philip Pulman.

For those of you who would like to win the first two books, comment on this post telling me who you would most like to head to Mars with.

Distortion by @VictorDixen @HotKeyBooks

About:

After a speed-dating show that is literally out of this world, twelve young astronauts are set to become the first humans to colonise Mars. They are also the victims of the cruellest of plots.

Léonor thought she was a pioneer on an extraordinary mission. She thought she had left all regrets behind her on Earth. But when memories are this painful, there can be no forgetting . . .

Characters

Leonor is as wonderful as ever. Her relationship with the rest of the crew is a little more open. It gives the story scope and allows her to become the leader, whether she wants it or not. She is the consistent within a world of chaos and you’ll want to stay by her side from start to finish.

Returning characters Harmony and Andrew are thrown further into the fray in Distortion and they are a welcome addition to the narrative. Now Andrew is not trying to put pieces together on his own, the tension has changed somewhat. Allowing him to spend time with Harmony gives the reader more scope into his character and he’s someone I want to spend even more time with.

Plot

Not going to lie, I wasn’t sure where the sequel was going. By the mid way point I was convinced there wasn’t a sequel. I assumed that perhaps the trilogy was condensed, and it was leaving me a little sad. It’s on of the reasons why the final act pulled the rug from under me and yet again had me begging for the sequel. 

Collision cannot come quick enough for me. The writing is engaging and the story is compulsive. You can’t put it down and it certainly would make the perfect TV show for all ages.

 Pick up Distortion and Ascension now. Collision is due April 2019

https://amzn.to/2AmrhVq

Review: Condemned and Admired by Bree Wolf

Author’s Bio

USA Today bestselling author Bree Wolf has always been a language enthusiast (though not a grammarian!) and is rarely found without a book in her hand or her fingers glued to a keyboard. Trying to find her way, she has taught English as a second language, traveled abroad and worked at a translation agency as well as a law firm in Ireland. She also spent loooong years obtaining a BA in English and Education and a MA in Specialized Translation while wishing she could simply be a writer. Although there is nothing simple about being a writer, her dreams have finally come true.

“A big thanks to my fairy godmother!”

Currently, Bree has found her new home in the historical romance genre, writing Regency novels and novellas. Enjoying the mix of fact and fiction, she occasionally feels like a puppet master (or mistress? Although that sounds weird!), forcing her characters into ever-new situations that will put their strength, their beliefs, their love to the test, hoping that in the end they will triumph and get the happily-ever-after we are all looking for.

If you’re an avid reader, sign up for Bree’s newsletter at http://www.breewolf.com as she has the tendency to simply give books away. Find out about freebies, giveaways as well as occasional advance reader copies and read before the book is even on the shelves!

Book Blurb

A French privateer’s daughter. A marquess’s son.

And a chance encounter on the high seas.

VIOLET WINTERS, a French privateer’s daughter who fled England with her mother when she was a little girl, takes the chance to return to her home country unrecognised when fate delivers an English lord into her hands. OLIVER CORNELL, EARL OF CULLINGWOOD, fascinated by the adventurous gleam in her eyes, does not hesitate to offer his assistance…and pose as her husband.

Can a privateer’s daughter and a marquess’s son ever have a happily-ever-after?

 

Links:

Webage: www.breewolf.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7333700.Bree_Wolf

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/breewolf.novels/

Facebook EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/408576936315941/

Where to buy

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Condemned-Admired-Cunning-Second-Chance-ebook/dp/B07D3TBHL7/

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/condemned-admired-the-earls-cunning-wife-bree-wolf/1128641189?ean=2940162096047

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/condemned-admired

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/condemned-admired-earls-cunning-wife-9-loves-second/id1382213939?mt=11


Review for Condemned and Admired

This stand alone in the Love’s Second Chance series is my first outing into Bree Wolf’s writing, but it certainly won’t be my last.

Characters

Violette and Oliver are beautifully strong characters that stand out among the others. Their alternating view points give strength to the narrative. Both hold modern outlooks within a period world, which makes for a refreshing read.

Plot

The story deals with putting right something Violette feels is an injustice. It’s fast paced. with an exploration into characters and motivation as Violette completes her personal mission. You won’t put it down once you’ve started reading. Unless of course you’re like me; you’ll put it down once, to order the other books.

Writing

The writing is clear and engaging. It is the part that will keep you reading until the end. The comfortable read, that doesn’t rely on period language which is a big turn off for me. The focus is on the characters and society in that period.


To win one of five e-copies of Condemned and Admired, answer the question below in the comments section.

Giveaway question: Have you ever fallen for the wrong guy?

Excerpt:

Drawing in a shuddering breath, Oliver reached out and drew her hands into his. “Once your sister makes her decision,” he said, “what will you do then?”

At his question, her eyes dropped to the ground. “You know what I will do,” she replied before forcing her gaze back up. “I need to go back where I belong. There is no place for me here.” Regret shone in her blue eyes as well as the agony of disappointed hopes.

“Stay,” Oliver said before he could stop himself, knowing that he had no right to ask that of her, no right to force that decision on her. “I don’t want you to leave.”

Violet’s eyes grew wide as she stared at him. Then she swallowed, and to Oliver’s utter astonishment, her lips curled up, clearly tempted to smile. “A part of me wishes I could,” she whispered, her hands squeezing his gently. “I wish I could stay with you, but I can never–”

Tugging her into his arms, Oliver silenced her objections with a searing kiss. His hands pulled her closer, one sliding up the graceful line of her neck and up into her hair as he kissed her with a passion unmatched as it was fuelled by the desperate need to forget that their love was a doomed one.

There was no happily-ever-after for them. She belonged out at sea while he had his place here…as the future marquess. He had a duty to the realm, and he knew that she would never be happy here. Even if she stayed, their love would not survive such a strain. It would undoubtedly end in a disaster until the day she finally did choose to leave. To return where she belonged.

Lost in the moment, Oliver did not hear the man’s approach. Only when rough hands seized him from behind did he realise that they were no longer alone.

With a harsh snarl tearing from the man’s lips, Oliver was flung backward and crashed into the seating arrangement set up on the western side of the terrace.  His ears rang, and his back ached from the collision. Still, Oliver was back on his feet without a moment’s hesitation, all thoughts focused on Violet. Was she all right? Who was this man and what did he–?

As Oliver rushed forward, the air was knocked from his lungs as he stared at the dark-haired man standing beside Violet. In that moment, he seemed like a messenger of doom, and Oliver could barely keep himself from sinking to the ground in despair.

Blog Tour: Not the Girls You’re Looking For

Characters
Lulu is a brilliant young woman, growing up in a mixed culture household and not knowing where she truly belongs or its impact it has on her identity. That’s all before we even get onto the fact that she’s a teenager in high school and dealing with the social etiquette of that too.
I love her fire and loyalty. She’s honest and uncompromising with her views; it gives you a good basis for the plot to revolve around.
James is a curious individual who isn’t overly likeable at first, but as Lulu gets to know him, you’ll be forgiven for having a change of heart.
Plot
It’s Easy A meets Heathers, by way of Mean Girls. You get an understanding of teen life, before Lulu’s life is turned upside down. It causes her to confront aspects of her life that she has always questioned; enabling her to understand herself a little better before the status quo is finally reached.
You don’t leave Lulu’s perspective, so her friend’s views are given to us through Lulu’s perspective or second hand news. It gives you an interesting view of what Lulu thinks of herself and others.
Writing
The writing is crisp, clean and emotional; you can clearly feel the torment of a person caught between two cultures. It is perfect for anyone wanting to understand what it feels like to almost have your very existence questioned.

Not the Girls You’re Looking For – Book except

“It’s a matter of principle.” Audrey crossed her arms.

When it came to Audrey and her sister, everything was a matter of principle. Lulu shrugged. What Lulu knew of sisters, apart from Audrey, she had taken from fiction. Lulu suspected that Audrey found her sister to be a Mary Bennet– priggish and pedantic– while Audrey’s sister probably thought of Audrey as a Lydia Bennet– thoughtless and selfish. Or maybe they were Amy and Jo March and this was all about a burnt manuscript and an heiress of a boy. Lulu found the idea of sisters fascinating, but her only vocabulary for the relationship was borrowed. She did the best she could to keep up, given the circumstance.

Audrey turned the radio back up. Lulu flicked Audrey’s fingers, like swatting a fly, and turned the radio back down. Audrey sighed. After waiting a beat, she turned up the radio in one grand, sweeping effort, “So where to first?”

“‘Emma’s, then Lo’s,” Lulu punched off the radio with her knuckles. Her ears vibrated from the aftermath of that decibel level. “Then I’m thinking tacos. We haven’t had tacos in forever.”

“Two weeks. Yes, that was forever ago.” Audrey used as much condescension as she had in her. And Audrey had been bred to hold plenty of condescension.

Lulu laughed. Her freshly won freedom made her gracious enough not to hold a grudge. She had taken the blame for the night of the pool incident, getting Audrey off nearly scot-free. But Audrey would do the same for her, even if Audrey knew the world to be a certain way. A way that didn’t hold water, but still.

Lulu made an unprotected left turn and Audrey swooped in to turned the radio back on. Lulu paid these antics no further attention. They constantly danced around like this, attracting one another with what ought to repel. The two girls chatted and laughed until they became four. How any of them could hear one another, over each other, or the music, or the wind coming into the car as it sped along, was anyone’s guess.


BOOK INFORMATION

 

TITLE: Not the Girls You’re Looking For

AUTHOR: Aminah Mae Safi

PUBLISH DATE: June 19th 2018

PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends

SYNOPSIS:

Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

 

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.

 

Debut author Aminah Mae Safi’s honest and smart novel is about how easy it can be to hurt those around you even if —especially if—you love them.

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35795940-not-the-girls-you-re-looking-for

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1250151813

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/not-the-girls-youre-looking-for-aminah-mae-safi/1126791458?ean=9781250151810#/

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250151810

Audio (Amazon): https://www.amazon.com/Girls-Youre-Looking-Aminah-Safi/dp/1250314577/ref=tmm_abk_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Aminah Mae Safi is a Muslim-American writer who explores art, fiction, feminism, and film. She loves Sofia Coppola movies, Bollywood endings, and the Fast and Furious franchise. She’s the winner of the We Need Diverse Books short story contest. Originally raised in Texas, she now lives in Los Angeles, California, with her partner, a cat bent on world domination, and another cat who’s just here for the snacks.

 

Author website: http://www.aminahmae.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16090821.Aminah_Mae_Safi

Twitter: https://twitter.com/aminahmae

Instagram: http://instagram.com/aminahmae

Tumblr: http://aminahmae.tumblr.com/

Ascension by Victor Dixen @VictorDixen

Release date: 28.6.2018
About:
Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world’s craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones.
She has signed up for glory.
She has signed up for love.
She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.
Pre-order here


Characters

I love Leonor. She’s a good voice to have when you’re stuck in space; she grounds you, so to speak. When you have a character like her; passionate, flawed and insightful. The way she works through the speed dating is interesting and something I easily identify with. Not only that, it adds a level of internal conflict that some narratives miss.

We learn bits about the other crew, but it’s those left on earth that are the most interesting. We have Serena, who communicates directly with the participants and becomes the ‘host’ of the broadcast. She’s a piece of work, you’ll quickly learn, but I want you to find that out for yourself.

Plot

It reads like a brilliant Sci-fi blockbuster. There are many threads in play and they change your perspective like a rubrics cube, waiting to be solved. Being the first in a trilogy, you go in knowing that you will have a resolve of some sorts, but there will be questions left unanswered to ensure you want more. It’s expertly done so that it doesn’t feel like it’s the first in a sequence, but a story in its own right.

Writing

Being a translated story, there’s always a worry that the writing loses something. This story, I’m delighted to say, doesn’t. It’s language is clean, its engaging and powerful. It makes for such a consumable, compulsive read.
I just wish I knew enough French to read the other two books in the series. Yes, they’re already published guys but you need to have progressed further than a GCSE in French to be able to access them.

Rampage – 12A

thVLVTRTW9

About 

Release date  11.4.18
Summary
Primatologist Davis Okoye shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry transforms this gentle ape into a raging monster. As these newly created monsters tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.
Time 1hr 47


Trailer


The Good
This is a Dwayn ‘the Rock’ Johnson movie and I’ll hold my hands up here and now; there’s no wrong this man can do (sidebar: My dad calls him The Fairy because of The Toothfairy. When an actor or film gets a Dad Hunter pseudonym, that means they’re on the win list). With Johnson, so come some film expectations. There’s going to be fast paced action, quips and smouldering. There’s also an understanding that the plot will stretch reality to provide a fun plot and indeed it does provide. Bucket loads of it to the point that I’m not so sure we can really call it Science Fiction.
Johnson’s character works well with George, the CGI Gorilla saved from poachers during infancy and taught to sign (Yup, We verge into Congo territory. I’ll reassure you though; I think this one will be considered a little better). Some of the best scenes involved the two of them interacting. There’s heart and humour in their banter and it allows you to feel for them and root for their survival when the shit hits the atmosphere about 2 minutes later.
In addition we have Naomie Harris and Jeffery Dean Morgan helping Johnson ‘save’ his friend and Malin Akerman and Joe Manganeillo playing for the company that caused the mutations in the animals.

The Bad
It really is a shame that most of the film sees George and Johnson’s Davis separated. Not only that, but essentially on opposite sides. They truly do have amazing chemistry that no one else can come close to and it removes some of the natural humour. If the film could keep them together by tweaking the plot it would keep the comedic tone and not seem to be bookended by a separate movie.
The two outside sections have a lighter a tone and sees everyone in on the joke and having fun, however the bulk of the film takes itself a little too seriously.

The Ugly
The CGI is rather ropy and it’s worrying that I picked up on it the first viewing. Normally because it’s all new, I miss the little flaws and only catch them during a repeat viewing, usually at home. It means I wasn’t as engaged in the story as I normally would have been and that could be because of many factors; one being the lack of feeling for the characters.


Cinema offences

A new segment for my reviews. I’m going to list the problems with the cinema going experience as it is something I think we all face issues with.

Viewing date/time: 12.4.2018/ 11.40 showing (Odeon Uxbridge)
Fullness: Quite a busy showing for early in the morning. That said, there couldn’t have been more than 40 people.

Late comers (5 minutes or more into a movie): 4 people in 2 separate groups
Phones (Texting/games/checking the time. Essentially anytime I see/am distracted by the glow of a phone): 0
Talking: 3 separate groups, all persistent.
Oh this was a big one today. Fresh off the back of my annoyance from The Quiet Place I think my patience had already warn thin. However, it was people in the row right behind me and it was persistent; like a running commentary on a DVD. Imagine my horror, when I turn around to bollocks the tween triplets I’d mentally given three chance to are not in fact three kids, but a mum and her two sons. Instead of telling her kids to stop, she was engaging them in conversation. I was rather reserved, for me; I politely asked them to stop talking. Well, my dear readers, I might as well have taken a dump right there on her lap based on the look she gave me. All I heard was ‘don’t listen to her’ from the mother and I’d had enough. Premiere seats be damned, I got up and moved to one of the nice seats; I figured Odeon owed me this for allowing this sort of behaviour to become the norm (Disclaimer: It’s not an Odeon problem, the is a all-franchise epidemic. Seriously, this woman will have spent at least £25 on tickets. Alone. I’m sure she’d jacked her kids up on sugar too and when a ‘kids pack’ starts at £4.50, surly just setting fire to your money would be better?! Or at least buy a dvd, rent one from Sky and then let them chatter away to their hearts content at home.

lonely child

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon #bookreview #gem @gemlovesbooks

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Buy it here
Goodreads

51H4NsPcAKL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

Paige’s world is so exciting; it’s full of magic, mystery and danger!
It’s a very refreshing take on a dystopian genre with the beautiful writing, the language which is used and the imagery that has been created drew me in from the very first page and kept me utterly hooked until the last word.

It’s more literary, and more *clever* than The Hunger Games and Divergent etc., but by no means does that mean it’s hard going; I was completely enthralled by the plot, I loved Paige and Warden! The relationship that builds between them is not what I expected, and as the plot progresses and we learn more of Sheol 1 and the Rephaim, this adds an extra element of intensity and mystery. To me it’s one of those books that you just want other people to read so you can talk to them about it – there are plot elements that aren’t resolved (as you’d expect for what is projected to be a 7 book series) so I want to know if other people think the same things as me!
What I will say is that I hadn’t realised there was a glossary as if I turn to the back I have a naughty tendency to read the last few lines, so make use of that, it will help you get to grips with the different characters much quicker than I did.
NB. I wrote this review on 10th January 2014 and since then I have bought over 10 copies to give to friends and family, organised a Q&a and signing at Waterstones Bham with SS and her wonderful publisher sent me a box of copies to give away at raffle prizes for one of our fan parties. I always made sure this book was displayed in both the YA and fantasy sections of the shop so I could get more and more people to discover Paige’s world.

My love for The Bone Season and subsequently The Mime Order and The Song Rising) knows no bounds!

Rick and Morty. S3 Ep2: Rickmancing the Stone

rick-morty-mad-max

Background
I’m incredibly new to this show, but oh so very passionate. My ex introduced me to it and we watched all of series one in a single sitting. Every so often he would pause it to tell me something offensive was coming up thinking I would hate it and demand for it to be turned off. Far from it, I loved every second.
I will always remember him texting me a screenshot of an episode and him being incredibly impressed that I’d gotten it with one guess and having only seen all the episodes once.
Since our split I’ve been determined to not do my usual thing and for once, not create attachments to a show we shared. Hell, if I did that, I’d have nothing left to watch seeing as I we both loved the same shows, films and he’d even started to get me into gaming.
In the past I’ve stopped watching shows such as Lost (although I hear I didn’t miss much) and films like Goonies had not been watched by me in 8 years since my first boyfriend and I parted ways. Some couples have THEIR song, I tend to have that one movie that will forever be mine and that person’s.
I had explained this to my ex, that I have emotional connections to movies and shows even to the point where I’ve walked away from screenings I’ve paid money for because I’d known the situation would take away from the film I’d loved (Example: a screening of Scrooged was meant to be my works leaving do. I knew had I stayed, I would no longer watch that will in the same way). However, it didn’t stop him from using a conversation we had to inspire him to watch my favourite film (Leon) with another woman literally a day after the conversation. It also didn’t stop him shouting at me for being upset about it.
So, I’m not going to let that happen this time. I don’t want to lose any of the shows I loved before I met him (Stranger Things, House, How I Met Your Mother… hell Star Trek.)

I figured if I blog about the episodes it’ll give me a little bit of motivation to watch them as they’re released. I couldn’t find someone to watch it with me, so I’m afraid my dear readers, you’re the ones holding my hand through this.

 

So, into the fray with go …

RM2-650x367

Rickmancing the Stone takes no time in reminding us about the divorce between Beth and Jerry. It’s always been there in the background; Beth’s frustration has built over the two series. I never thought the showrunners would break them up though and I’m very happy they did. Things are tense when Jerry pops over for a visit and the siblings use Rick as a means of escape. Seconds before the title sequence comes a whisper only Jerry can hear ‘loser’ the wind calls. It’s genius; I love to hate Jerry and this is just the kind of abuse I want him to get.

I’m loving Summer’s active role in travelling with Rick. Long gone is the Summer of Series 2’s Ricks Must Be Crazy. She doesn’t shy away any more. It’s when they travel to the post-apocalyptic dimension that we really start to see how strong Summer has become. In fact, she’s the catalyst for the whole episode and long may it continue.
Her story sees her find herself very much at home in this world, but she soon works through her issues regarding the divorce and comes to an interesting conclusion that resolves some of her angst by the end of the episode.
It’s interesting to see her romance develop. I would love to see Summer become the Kirk of the traveling trio. Also- Sumsum! Rick gets to give all the best nicknames.

Morty is as annoying as ever. I know that’s the whole point of the character, but I’m starting to need the showrunners to pull a South Park Kenny on his arse.

We see him take on a revenge mission that is worthy of Game of Thrones (another show I’ve stopped watching owing to a man). It’s a brilliant. Very WTF and ties nicely into the Mad Max homage they have throughout the dimension. It’s good to see how he works through his hang-ups about his father and the divorce. Although I reckon some of you are like me and would have liked to have seen what Morty would have done with the muscle memory had Jerry been there himself.

Rick was as awesome as always but there was very little in way of progression for him. I want him to show some real concern relating to the divorce and I hope we’ll get it in the next few episodes.

Overall, I have found the episode to be tackling a tricky, complex and relevant subject. They are doing it well, exposing some of the rawness to comedy (and gore) will probably enable viewers who have experience divorce to see it from other the other side. From my understanding of the audience it gets here in the UK, it certainly will be helping those most effected by divorce.

Questions/Predictions

  • Will there be any fallout from Summer’s relationship? We’ve obviously done the pregnancy thing with Morty before but I’d certainly like to see that storyline come back.
  • Rick and Beth need some bonding time during her divorce to Jerry.
  • Will Beth and Jerry reconcile by the end of the series?
  • Will the Cthulhu from the title sequence make an appearance this year?

tumblr_o83erfD2f31tqpn6qo1_1280

Fan Entitlement

maxresdefault (1)

I’m a fan! We’re both fans. Of many things. Find us on twitter, give us a topic and we’ll talk… at length, whether you want us to or not. We love music (Panic! At the Disco, MCR, The Killers), TV (Buffy, Hex, Star Trek for Han) and Films (Jurassic World, Princess Bride, Harry Potter). We are advocates of YA (Holly Bourne, Laini Taylor and Non Pratt) and have just spent an amazing weekend at YALC.

However, we’re both upset right now. Mainly because of this article: http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/brendon_urie_wont_be_meeting_fans_after_kinky_boots_shows_anymore

I know Brendan has refused to sign at Panic! Gigs for the last few years for essentially the same reason. In 2015 I (Han), caught the set list at a Hammersmith Apollo gig and waited for two hours at the “stage door” to be told he’d been accosted at a gig in the US. He’d agreed with his body guard and not signed since.
Thanks to “fans”, people are now losing out on meeting a role model and idol. We’d normally have our bitch together if it was an isolated incident. But it’s not. And it’s not fair.

fans 1
Tom signing and posing for photos early in the Coriolanus run,

Back in 2013/14 Tom Hiddleston was in Coriolanus at the Donmar in London’s West End. I had tickets, I watched the play and then queued for SIX hours to have the honour of telling him how amazing he was. However, my anxiety is a bitch and I didn’t get to say a word to him while he signed my programme.
A month later I had another ticket to see him. Due to the restrictions at the stage door, this meant I had the chance to join the line for his autograph. I decided at the last minute to join. Only what I saw as I approached was nothing short of chaos; mob mentality ensued and the main door was so swamped that a man in a wheelchair struggled to get out. Fans refused to move in fear of missing their chance to get a photo with Hiddleston.
This alone disturbed me. However, that was before I was informed why Tom had refused to leave via the main door that evening, meaning his security was not policing the crowds.
The reason, as I feared, was fan related: two girls a few days before had crossed the line with Tom. They attempted to place their hands down his pants while he was signing for them. This ensured that for the remaining 5 weeks of the production, no one managed to engage with Hiddleston. This did not make the news. Had it been Sienna Miller, who is currently starring in A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, it would have made front page news. It would have been sexual harassment. However, Tom kept this quiet.

Now Brendan has had to do the same. He was doing something he loved and fans enjoyed, however warped sense of entitlement that meant the minority has spoiled it for the majority.

My reason for stage dooring or wanting to meet celebs is not to say “I’ve met Mr X or Ms Y”, but to tell them they have made an impact in my life and thank them for the performance they’ve just been in. Because of my anxiety, I find programmes for plays they’re in are the perfect prop. While they’re signing, their attention is elsewhere and I can talk. It doesn’t always work. Heck, its worse without a prop though. Upon being wingperson for a friend when meeting Domnhall Gleeson all I could muster was “My brother is really looking forward to seeing you in Star Wars”. Not the fact that I adored his recent film Frank or that he broke my heart with About Time. This was before my crush on him had fully developed too.

I’m certain I’m not the only one who thinks like this. It takes courage to open my bloody mouth. In fact I’m starting to avoid stage doors because of these sort of situations. Yet out there are “fans” who not only take advantage they have this sense that it’s okay and that the celebrities welcome this behaviour. I’ve also seen these people melt down when they don’t get what they want. Even if they’ve already had countless opportunities to meet the person.

Case in point: I went to see Lyndsey Lohan in Speed the Plow. It was an okay play, but her performance was appalling. I had a moral dilemma; I wanted Richard Schiff and Nigel Lyndsey’s autographs (By autographs, I mean I wanted to tell Schiff that I loved him in The Lost World and the Infidel. That he is an awesome actor and in all honesty I just wanted to see him smile.) but it was a three person play, Lyndsey was a full house. I was struggling to bring myself to do this as I didn’t have something positive to say about her performance in the play. I text a few people to gage their opinion about the stage door and how to handle it.

1414111298609_wps_52_Picture_Shows_Lindsay_Loh

I need not have bothered seeing as everyone and their aunt were outside; their cameras ready, sharpies poised on their Mean Girl prints. People who had not even seen the play were there, in the prime positions as well.

All I could hear during my wait were vile comments. Links to Lyndsey’s drug use past (and predicted present) and her bad performance of the play. I couldn’t help but wonder why these people were waiting let alone coveting the spaces at the front of the barrier.

After a time we were informed that Lyndsey has already left the building via a different exit. I totally understand that and was ready to get home and move on with my day. However other people did not. What followed the announcement was abuse. She was a whore, people would not watch her work again and she was worse than Satan and someone even wished her dead.

I would say about 90 percent of my encounters have been amazing, uplifting and unique. The best experience I had was meeting Star Trek Deep Space Nine’s Alexander Siddig when he was performing at the Globe. I headed to the stage door and thanked every cast member who came out (cast of 25 and I got every single autograph, meaning I was able to thank every single one of them for a play that meant so much to me). There were two other women there, just hanging out for Alexander Siddig; to the point they blanked other cast members when they drew them into the conversation we were having owing to them being stood so close.

Out came another cast member and when he finished signing for me he questioned whether we were waiting for Siddig. The girl’s ears pricked up and they listened intently as I was told he would be in the bar and that if I had any issues, to tell Alex that he’d sent me.

I watch these two girls run to the bar and shadow him. By some stroke of luck he ended up beside me as I was calming myself at the bar. I was able to have a chat to him (before the women I might add) and express my gratitude for playing the character that got me into Star Trek. We ended with him asking for a hug and telling me his name. The one thing I love about my encounters is that I seem to have a way of making them forget the fan/celeb line and they introduce themselves to me as if I haven’t got a clue who they are. I mentally tell myself as I walk away “That’ll do Pig.”

13312611_10157056237980094_4354230328703549980_n
With Alexander Siddig

I have no desire to meet many of them again (Who am I kidding, there are a few I would love to see again. But in a ‘let’s go for a cuppa, put the world to rights’ sort of way.) I know I can’t improve my experience or gain them as my friend, so it blows my mind when people will actively repeat their actions, gain nothing out of it but a photo and/or autograph. How can it be fulfilling and don’t some of the more ‘devout’ fans see the look of fear on their target’s face?

What can we do to take back our fandoms my friends? I want these victimised stars to know that we’re not all the same. I also want to be able to continue to stage door without having to compete with these people who despite having 5 autographs, will step on your neck to get another. Even if you were to explain to them that you’ve never met them before.

Christmas Film Advent- Elf (2003)

“You sit on a throne of lies”

PG
Watched via Prime Video
Length: 1 Hr 37
About: 
Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa’s elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn’t fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father. As it happens, this is Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a cynical businessman. After a DNA test proves this, Walter reluctantly attempts to start a relationship with the childlike Buddy with increasingly chaotic results.

First Thoughts

I hated this film the first time I’d seen it. Will Farrell was an adult and it didn’t sit right with me the childlike nature he ran around New York with. I found it hideous and as far from funny as any film could be.
However, over the years I’ve warmed to it, and Farrell.  One of the last time’s I watched it was as part of a movie marathon inside the Prince Charles Cinema and it was a delightful was to end the night.

Nice List

  • Now I know who Farrell is, this is a charming and adorable film. Farrell, as Buddy, is able to bring to the role an element of child-like idiocy that he is well known for. He brings joy and laughter that ensures its a fan favourite for many.
  • The cast is rounded out by some amazing people; James Caan and Bob Newhart are the perfect straight face actors to compliment Farrell’s insanity.
  • The films progression through the story is well paced and with enough humour to keep it from stalling. The final act’s action sequence is a stroke of genius and who doesn’t love a cameo from pre-GOT Dinkledge!

Naughty List

  • I’m not certain there’s enough chemistry between Farrell and the barely recognisable Zooey Deschanel. It’s a shame because I remember her presence was one of the film’s saving grace’s, but now she grates.
  • I’m still not sold completely on Farrell as Buddy. The only reason why it’s not passable is because he’s a household name. I’m certain if it was an unknown in his place, I’d struggle with the story and question how wholesome it is.

Final Thoughts

It’s a lighthearted and sickly sweet. It’s perfect for a post shop watch and I’ll happily watch it again this Christmas.

Advertisements

Christmas Film Advent- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

“Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.”

Length: 1 hr 37
About
The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

Making Way for Christmas Vacation

Have you ever hated a film? No, not hate; loath. Yes, okay I guess that’s a given. Everyone has a film they’ve watched that they’ve not liked. How about a film you’ve hated with a passion without watching more than a few clips?! Yep, that’s me and this film. It borders on irrational, so hear me out before you judge.
1. Chevy Chase scared the crap out of me. I called him being part of Operation Yewtree before that was even a thing. I couldn’t explain why I thought he was sleaze, but I couldn’t shake it.
2. My dad stopped me from watching Johnathan Creek one Christmas because he wanted to watch Vacation. My argument that he had it on video wasn’t enough and when I decided I’d record the permed detective’s Christmas special it was decided we’d watch one of the films we’d bought instead. Me, being a teenager and a stubborn Capricorn laid the blame at the film’s door and my hatred for the film i’d never seen built further.
3. My brother knows how to push my buttons. He finds a weakness and exploits it. Thing is, its quite fun. So knowing my hatred of this film and knowing I had declared I’d never watch a single second of it, he conceived a rather funny Christmas tradition.
It was rather subtle at first. A dvd of the film which I gifted to a friend when they’d said they were in the mood to watch it early the following Christmas. A sigh of relief was had until (and I should have seen this coming), I unwrapped another copy come Christmas morning.
The following year, I hadn’t bothered to check the shelves and it turned out he’d pulled it off there and gifted it to me, again. I thought I’d learned my lesson for the following Christmas; DVD in hand, I scanned the shelves. Not that it matters; it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Two years ago, I opened the dvd with indifference. I’m guessing its what triggered my brother to change his tactics. I spent my birthday with him that year. Upon sitting down to open my presents I had what I can only describe as a learned response to seeing a wrapped dvd among everything else. Good on him, his indigence at my suspicion was nothing short of Oscar worthy.  There is was ‘Christmas Vacation 2″. 

So, I think it took my brother by surprise last year when I had offered to go see the film in the Prince Charles if they had a screening while he was over. Alas, they didn’t so we had to settle for me digging out one of the many copies I own on DVD.

The Nice List

  • Chevy isn’t the creeper I always thought him to be; on screen at least. I’m so done making comments on actor’s in that respect because over the past few years it has seemed that no one is clear or free from accusations. Clark Griswold is a rather likable character who has reasonable wants for the Christmas holiday. He’s actually what makes the movie and its his Christmas spirit that will have me watching it somewhat sporadically over the coming years.
  • It is funny. I can’t deny it, I do kick myself a little at leaving it so long to watch it. That said, I think the humour would have gone over my head on the most part when I was younger, so in one respect I was watching it at the right time.
  • You don’t need to see the other Vacation movies. While perhaps you might be more attached to the characters, you don’t lose anything by seeing it as a stand alone.

The Naughty List

  • It’s not really a movie. It feels more like an extended episode of Saturday Night Live; sketches stitched together a little too loosely. It feels a little clunky, a little dry and in need of a script redraft to give it more of a plot.

Final Thoughts

The film is okay, but the banter I had with my brother was much more fun.

Christmas Film Advent – Trapped in Paradise (1994)

“I detect resistance”

Length: 1 Hr 51
About: 
Residents of a friendly Pennsylvania town foil three brothers’ plan to rob a bank on Christmas Eve.

Naughty List

  • I’ve never been a fan of John Lovitz. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but he is the human equivalent of nails on a blackboard. He’s the American Joe Pasquale.
  • It’s too long and slow. The action sequences are brilliant, but there’s no pace or urgency between the set pieces. It would be fine if there was enough character development, but I didn’t feel there was enough to warrant the pace.

Nice List

  • Who doesn’t love a Nic Cage film?! Especially when he is being his impossibly wacky self. So many meme worthy facial expressions and unique verbal inflections that even if it was a rubbish plot, I’d sit through it again and again.
  • Cage’s character makes for quite a wonderful journey. The final act decision to head back to Paradise to redeem himself is rather charming, if not a little off set by the delivery of most of his lines.
  • The best part about this film though is Dana Carvey. Not at the start; he annoyed the hell out of me. However, when his character, Alvin, steps up and speaks out against Lovitz’ Dave, he becomes a less goofy, much more sympathetic character.

Final Thoughts

I’m happy to have watched it, but I can also see why its not a film I was aware of. With a good edit to cut it down to the 90 minute mark it might be a more digestible watch.

Christmas Film Advent- Santa Claws (2014)

“I’m old enough to decide if I celebrate Christmas or not.”

Length: 1 Hr 26
About: 
Santa is allergic to cats, but Tommy has been so good this year he decides to bring him a kitten for Christmas. When Santa has an allergic attack, the kitties have to take over the sleigh to deliver all the presents.

It’s 3am, I can’t sleep and I’m not quite ready to put on a ‘proper’ film. Now my cat is sat glued to the TV watching this kitten focused festive offering. For that alone, it’s worth the watch.

It’s hard to not watch this with a different mindset; its clear from the outset that it is not of the same quality as other films I’ve watched. However, this is not the sort of film that is wanting reviews comparing it to the countless Scrooge incarnations.

What it comes down to, is not how dire the plot might be or how many times I cringed. It doesn’t even matter if  special effects are ropy or the acting is top notch. What matters is if the target audience will love it. Parent’s, I give you warning; don’t show this film to your little ones without being prepared for it being the only thing you watch.

For a kid, its fun, cute and the plot doesn’t matter. The three kittens running about and causing mischief will entertain and engage. For the fury felines, just pop it on as your leaving the house. When you return, you’ll discover that your kitten hasn’t moved anything other than its head. Cassius’ head followed the kittens from start to finish.

Christmas Film Advent- Krampus (2015)

“It’s like Martha Stewart threw up in here.”

Length: 1Hr 38
About: 
A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a festive demon to his family home.

First Thoughts

I missed this in the cinema and I was gutted. I’d tried to get a few people together to watch it but I quickly discovered my friends aren’t horror people. I watched it late night one evening the following Christmas and wasn’t too impressed. However, to quote a much loved podcast, I’ve just looked at it with fresh eyes and I’m pleasantly surprised to discover I’ve had a change of heart.

On the Naughty List

  • I don’t like Adam Scott. It’s a personal thing and I put my first viewing misery down to putting up with his face. However, I will say he does a good job as a put down grown up boy scout made to step it up and protect his sheep. crew
  • The second act shifts the tone, and while I love how it brings the horror with the journey of the daughter, I do feel as if the film missed a trick with how it used its music. I found it a little too loud to invoke any sort of atmosphere. I perhaps would have preferred for the snow to bring an absence of sound rather than an excess. However, I love the use Christmas bells and later the film does explain why there was wind.
  • Aside from the creepy as Christmas cookies, I found the Krampus crew a little on the wrong side of silly. While the helpers bring with them a punchy action sequence, it reminded me that sometimes horror works best when they leave some things to the imagination.

On the Nice List 

  • I love the opening and the whole first act. From that icy themed Universal logo and the music fitting of a festive family comedy to the ‘Christmas time’ tropes and the offset tone of the movie. It sets me on edge knowing that this is a dark and twisted horror.
  • Most of the cast are on the approved list. I love Toni Collette; she’s a versatile actress but her strength is certainly horror and Krampus is no exception. There’s also the added surprise of Two and a Half Men’s Conchata Ferrell as Aunt Dot; her dry humour is a welcome addition to the proceedings, even if she wasn’t welcome at the Christmas home.
  • Emjay Anthony plays the protagonist and catalyst for the narrative. He’s a delightful young actor who seems beyond his years. While I welcomed other familiar facing, I don’t doubt he could have carried the film without them.
  • The German grandma and her animated back story are something I’m not certain I caught in my first watch and they are quite magical. I spent the film, both times, waiting for the lovely lady to become a type of demon and it really did keep me on edge.

That ending

I’m still not certain of what I feel about the ending.
Part of me wishes it ended with Max being left alone and the narration from Omi’s tale, reminding the audience that Krampus spares one as a reminder. Another was proud of Max for fighting for his family and was curious to how it would resolve.
Then it all goes tits up and we get a ‘it was all a dream sequence’. Yes, it’s a double bluff, but it goes on too long for me which is a shame as I’d be all up for it with the right execution. 

Final Thoughts

Better than I remembered and I’ll watch it again, but there’s some tweaks I’d need to make for it to be a regular watch.

Christmas Film Advent- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

“This never happened to the other fellow.”

Length: 2Hr 22
About: 
James Bond woos a mob boss’s daughter and goes undercover to uncover the true reason for Blofeld’s allergy research in the Swiss Alps that involves beautiful women from around the world.

Me Before Bond
I was never a Bond girl. It was there on ITV on a saturday afternoon and it may have kept my attention until the next ad break, but I certainly didn’t go out of my way to watch an Ian Flemming adaptation until Daniel Craig earned his 007 status in 2006’s Casino Royale.
I am however a legacy Bond girl. Without this franchise, I would not have Austin Powers or Kingsman: The Secret Service to love and enjoy so it’s only give this festive outing a shot.

The Ugly

There are quite a few bits that didn’t sit comfortably with me. While I’m aware that it is reflective of the time, Bond’s treatment of women within the whole film hits the wrong tone for modern times and my viewing pleasure. From the slap Diana Rigg takes, her not only being ‘bought’ by Bond but ‘sold’ by her father, to Bond’s Playboy theft and his late night bedroom hoping with Blofeld’s test subjects. It all is tasteless and dated that I struggled to engaged from the outset. 

The biggest problem that draws more attention to the above problem is that I am not sold on George Lazenby as James Bond. He lacks charm and that certain something that allows the character to blend in while standing out to the audience. There are a number of scenes early one, namely while at the casino I lose Lazenby within everyone else in the scene. Far from charismatic, Bond feels sleazy and cheap; for example, does a man who I’m meant to believe can get any woman to drop her knickers for him really need to steal a Playboy centerfold? Diana Rigg has more presence than Lazenby and a Bond girl should never outshine the protagonist.

The Bad

It’s a rather clunky affair. The opening feels as if I’d walked in on the film having missed the first twenty minutes; I never understood why Rigg’s Tracy was in the water and in need of Bond’s rescue nor did I have the inclination to find out.
The link between Tracy’s father, Blofeld and Bond’s actual mission seemed very messy and required a little too much focus for what I’m used to with a Bond movie. I’m aware that I’ve been spoiled with what has become a filmic formula, but I’d take that over this any day.

The Good

I know it’s not the way it’s meant to go, but I loved seeing tropes in this film that became nods to the franchise in films like Austin Powers and Kingsman. From the snowy cable car accessed facility, Blofeld’s iconic wardrobe to Bond’s shirt frill.
Dianna Rigg was a wonderful bit of casting. While her chemistry with Lazenby was lacking and I would argue the films plot didn’t warrant so much screen time for her character, I enjoyed every second she was on screen.
I also loved the very opening scene; the one between M and Q. It had a feel of Shakespeare in the sense that we learnt a lot about our main character through these two, much in the same way Hamlet opens.
I will also say that it was a bold way to end the film. It was a refreshing how downbeat the end was and it actually has made me want to see if this plot point is picked back up in the next installment.

Final Thoughts

A little too dated for my taste and not enough Christmas within it to be part of a future Christmas line up, but I can see why die hard fans would enjoy this 00 outing and relish putting it within their Christmas line up.

Christmas Movie Advent- Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

“But once a calamity ever so great occurred
When two Holidays met by mistake.”


Length: 1Hr 16
About: The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the “real world.” When Jack accidentally stumbles on Christmastown, all bright colors and warm spirits, he gets a new lease on life — he plots to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over the role. But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry.

This is an interesting film for me as I am possibly incorrectly remembering my mum banning my brother from taking me to see this film at the cinema and is perhaps how we ended up seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger fronted Junior (and even if it’s not, brother, it’s the story we’re going with! I watched Junior under protest). I won’t lie; at the time I LOVED good ol’ Arnie waddling around and pretending to be knocked up with Emma Thompson’s baby. But time has not been kind to that film and I’m not certain I’d be able to sit through it now.
It was the year after, when the film aired on my neighbour’s coveted cable, that I hazily remember seeing this film for the first time and not being completely enamored as I thought I’d be. That’s not to say 9 year old me had any taste when it came to films; I loathed Lion King the first time I saw that too.
So it’s quite curious actually that despite never declaring my love of Tim Burton’s cult, and contentiously festive, classic and probably never seeing it more than a handful of times I’ve been gratefully inundated with Jack Skellington based gifts. There are certainly other films of Burton’s that I regard much higher; Sleepy Hollow still hangs on in my ultimate top 10 films and Beetlejuice is not far away from being in it either. This has been my second viewing this year; I’d just finished watching it with my film club in school as part of our Halloween viewing so it’s been interesting watching it with Christmas in mind.

The Good

The stop motion is stunning. Jack is such a perfect character; both as a piece of artwork and as protagonist who is conflicted. While Tim Burton is only credited as the screenwriter on the project, it truly fits within his world. There’s elements that tie this up with Beetlejuice and other films in Burton’s catalogue. I can’t deny that visually, this film is a masterpiece.
Being a musical is a bit of a double edged sword for me, but for now I’ll concentrate on the positives. While I haven’t watched this all that much, I have listened to the soundtrack to death. Danny Elfman stands, for me, alongside the great John Williams for having an instantly recognisable style. Elfman has created beautiful imagery within the songs that they do stand strong away from the visual aspects of the story. There’s a wonderful homage to Beetlejuice within the film’s instrumental suite that I just adore and pulls me into this world further by implying the films are universally linked.
My favourite song will always be Kidnap the Sandy Claws sung by the trio; Lock, Shock and Barrel. Its a underrated song, but has all the charm, fun and blend of both holidays. That’s not to say I haven’t saved any love for the fan favourites, This is Halloween and What’s This?

The Bad

I’m not certain it’s a kid’s film or one that fits within Disney’s branding. Which fits, as it was originally released under the Touchstone banner. It’s rather dark; visually and tonally. I’m not sure when I was a kid I was able to appreciate the approach taken by it. I’d also be weary of showing it to any children I may, or may not, have for fear of scaring them.

The Ugly (Truth)

This, I am certain, will be an unpopular opinion but this doesn’t work as a film for me. The dialogue between the songs doesn’t quite have the punch that I need to keep me engaged with the narrative. And that’s saying something when it’s run time is 76 minutes; you can’t even get a Hobbit out of the Shire in that amount of cinematic time.
Its actually frustrating because the story is there, visually I am enchanted and I want to love it, but it’s those damn songs. They actually outshine, rather than compliment and it should never be that way.

Final Thoughts

So, I’m fond of that skeleton man. I’ll keep pining after the cookie jar the Disney Store bring out every year like Wayne Campbell after the Fender Excalibur, but I will always listen to the soundtrack before watching the movie.

 Han x

Christmas Film Advent- Holiday Affair (1949)

“Quit hanging onto something you’ve lost.”

Watching from DVD
Length: 1Hr 27
About:
Charming seasonal clerk Steve Mason (Robert Mitchum) catches beautiful Connie Ennis (Janet Leigh) in a fraudulent shopping scheme during the busy Christmas rush. But when he discovers that Ennis is a war widow and single mother, Mason takes pity on her and can’t bring himself to turn her in. His supervisor takes notice and fires him on the spot. Mason befriends Connie and her young son, Timmy (Gordon Gebert), and may complicate her plans to marry boring nice guy Carl Davis (Wendell Corey).

The Bad & the Ugly

Can’t seem to get away from scenes that make me feel uncomfortable, and Holiday Affair is no exception. Within five minutes of meeting Connie’s son, Steve asks to have a word with him, alone, in his bedroom.
Once again, it’s done with a timely innocence and what would be deemed socially acceptable; Steve was understanding the catalyst of Timmy’s anger. However, a grown man spending time alone with a young boy, to buy him a rather expensive toy mere days later screams all kinds of shady. While the biggest concern circa 1949 is making little Timmy understand that you don’t always get what you want in life, Hannah in 2018 is very worried that this casual grooming and the mother’s lack of concern is rather scary.

The Good

This is such an antidote to today’s fast paced movies. The plot is simple enough which allows the actors chance to develop and charm. They don’t make actors like they used to; I couldn’t think of anyone better than Robert Mitchum or Janet Leigh for the role of  Steve Mason and Connie Ellis. Their chemistry is not only better than those in any tween flick of recent years (Yes, you Twilight with your couple on, and off, screen lacking all of the chemistry), it will warm your heart.
It makes boring Carl and delightful Connie’s two year relationship born of her fear of being alone all the more relatable. There’s no added layer of jokes at the beau’s expense that is felt necessary in rom-coms today.
With Connie, comes Timmy and he is just adorable. From his hostility towards Carl to his mature and selfless decision to speak to the manager of a store, Gordon Gebert will melt even the coldest of hearts.

It’s the tone that’s set throughout the whole movie that truly makes it a brilliant watch. It’s not a sickly sweet story, but instead one that looks at the aftermath of war. It doesn’t focus upon the loss, but doesn’t shy away from it either. It makes for an honest and refreshing viewing with enough twee to make it feel like festive escapism. 

Final Thoughts

While there’s this one scene that seems off tone , it’s definitely a film that brings joy and is exactly the sort of film you’d want to be watching on a chilly December evening.

Robin Hood

Release date: 21.11.2018
Length: 1Hr 56

About:

Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) a war-hardened Crusader and his Moorish commander (Jamie Foxx) mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown in a thrilling action-adventure packed with gritty battlefield exploits, mind-blowing fight choreography, and a timeless romance.

The Good

The cast is pretty decent if not close to perfect. With a nice change of pace, we see Taron Edgerton providing us with a younger, more political Robin of Loxley. A self aware ‘toff’, humbled and embittered by war with a moral code to motivate his civil crusade against the corrupt. It’s hard not to love the man who brought a charm to Eggsie, Eagle and Elton.

Ben Mendelsohn, if people don’t mind me being so bold, is fast filling the hole left by the late, great Alan Rickman. Successfully handling the bad guy mantel in films like Ready Player One and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, he’s a shoe in for the Sheriff of Nottingham. While it’s safe to say, he didn’t have as much fun or ham up the role as born-to-be-badguy Rickman, he gives it his own flare and brilliant villainy.

In fact, one of the strengths of this production is that Nottingham is not the highest rank of the dastardly food chain. And when you’re historically known bad guy starts to tremble, something interesting is about to happen.

Honorary mentions must go to Fifty Shades actor Jamie Dornan who seems much more at home playing support than lead, and Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck, who steals every scene he’s in and makes me wonder why he’s not in more stuff.

I liked that this film doesn’t assume that Robin Hood’s story is something that can, and should be contained to one movie outing. It’s just a shame that I’d rather not see a second outing for these outlaws.

The Bad

Its that old clique of having all the best people but still providing the audience with a steaming turd of a film. I wanted to love this film; I even gave it a second chance to win me over. However, both times I felt like I’d had my eyes superglued open and subjected to Peter Jackson’s Hobbit followed by the extended editions of Bored of the Rings.

It feels bloated, insincere and lacking any credibility. The script is dire, takes itself too seriously and gives the audience no rewards. The final act is given no gravitas, and the motivation of all the players are either too thin or so convoluted it makes my ears bleed. Case in point is Sheriff of Nottingham and his hatred of those who help him in his treason. His reveal of being sexually abused does not make his motivation clear or just.

The Ugly

When is this bad boy set?! The narrative suggests medieval and they certainly hammer home that this is firmly placed within the papal sanctioned Crusades that began in 1095.

However, from the moment Mendelsohn’s Nottingham donned his bleached grey leather coat that possibly belonged in his Ready Player One wardrobe, I was thrown off.

All the costumes scream future, rather than past. There’s an attempt of medieval stylings, but it’s too obvious that they came from the disposable-fashion racks of the local Primark.

Then there’s the crusade units themselves; the language is too modern, as are the machine gun weapons that both sides of the war use. The uniforms and filming style would look perfect in a Call of Duty game play trailer, but not in a period piece that was attempting to escape the curse of bad Robin Hood productions.

The film is set in a very Mount Doom-like post-apocalyptic Nottingham. It’s seaside town of mountainous proportions with a epic mine that the people can live in set beside Japan inspired architecture that does not blend with the medieval setting it’s pathetically attempting to convey.

Some of these things can be overlooked, but put it all together with the historical elements and you have a messy clash like oil on water. Which is fine, for some. However, for me I want a film that pulls me in and helps me escape from the concept of time and reality for a while; not something that pulls me out of the experience and gave me checking if my watch is ticking ever so painfully backwards.

Love Han x