Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

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My ratings:
❤️ = Loved it
😐 = It's okay
😝 = Hated it

Monday, November 28, 2016

Invisible (James Patterson & David Ellis)

It started eight months ago, when Emmy's sister was killed in a house fire. Her death was written off as an accident, but Emmy knows that she was murdered.
There have been dozens of 'accidental' fires across the US over the past year that are all too similar to be coincidental.
One of the worst serial killers of all time is being ignored. And it's up to her to stop him.

Quote: "Well, what's that saying? You can't have a rainbow without a storm, you can't have a diamond without friction? You're just going to make me better. Yes, that's right, that's the old Graham talking. Maybe I needed a new challenge. Maybe this can be chapter two of our story."

My thoughts on this book: What a refreshing change from some of the very disappointing reads that have been released recently under the James Patterson brand. This book is like going back to the early stories, which were a big success with their short punchy chapters and plenty of action. Again, this book is co-written so it is difficult to tell what input Patterson had exactly but nevertheless it ticks all the boxes.
A very entertaining read that I found difficult to put down due to the tension it produced.

Café Society (Woody Allen)

In the 1930s, a Bronx native moves to Hollywood and falls in love with a young woman who is seeing a married man.

Starring: Steve Carell, Sheryl Lee, Paul Schackman, Jeannie Berlin, Ken Stott, Richard Portnow, Jesse Eisenberg, Sari Lennick, Stephen Kunken, Corey Stoll, Kristen Stewart, Don Stark, Gregg Binkley, Anthony DiMaria, Parker Posey, Paul Schneider, Shae D'lyn, Lev Gorn, Steve Rosen, Douglas McGrath, David Pittu, Taylor Carr, Debra Lord Cooke, Blake Lively, Rob Ashkenas, Armen Garo, Sebastian Tillinger, Bettina Bilger, Tony Sirico

My thoughts on this film: An upbeat young man falls in love with a girl in 1930s Hollywood. This movie combines a perfect balance between cinematography and tone, and the acting brings to life the superb emotive dialogue that is the driving force for the narrative. The 1930s world built by Allen is fantastic as is the chemistry between the two leads, Eisenberg and Stewart. Supporting characters are effectively used to develop the story as they contend with real world issues and the existential questions that keep us awake at night. A round of applause, once again, for Woody Allen who has shown us that he is truly one of the greats of cinema. Bravo!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Murder House (James Patterson & David Ellis)

No. 7 Ocean Drive is a house with a horrific past.
It was the setting for a series of depraved killings in the small seaside town of Bridgehampton that have never been solved. Neglected, empty, and rumoured to be cursed, it is known as the Murder House, and locals keep their distance.
Detective Jenna Murphy is hoping to escape her troubled past and rehabilitate a career on the rocks. But when a Hollywood power broker and his mistress are found dead in the abandoned Murder House, Jenna becomes involved in a case that at first seems open and shut, but soon reveals more secrets than she could possibly imagine.

Quote: "I turned down several offers to get together, for dinner or drinks or an afternoon at the beach. I was resentful. I wanted to punish him. And now he's gone, and I'd do anything to have those weeks back. I'd tell him how much I love him, how he saved my life so many times, in so many different ways."

Why this book speaks to me: Right from the start, everything about this thriller intrigued me. The title, the cover, the summary... Every single thing. I was stumped until the very end. I thought for a tiny second I had it figured out but then double guessed myself and blew it off. It turns out that my prediction was right.
This book is definitely a page turner. I could not put it down. Every chapter had something new that added to the mystery.
Twists and turns and all types of exciting things make it that much enjoyable!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chocolat (Roschdy Zem)

This is the life story of Rafael Padilla, a former slave in Cuba, who unexpectedly became a star clown in the Paris of the Belle Epoque. Discovered in a small country circus in the North of France by George Footit, a British clown and acrobat, they formed a successful duo, 'Footit and Chocolat'. For two decades, and despite conflicts between the two artists, Footit as the authoritarian white clown and Chocolat as the Auguste Black drudge, filled crowds with enthusiasm. But nothing lasts forever and the glory of Chocolat, despite his high ambitions, started to decline until his premature death in 1917.

Starring: Omar Sy, James Thierrée, Clotilde Hesme, Olivier Gourmet, Frédéric Pierrot, Noémie Lvovsky, Héléna Soubeyrand

My thoughts on this film: Although the director and writers proclaimed their intention of re-introducing a once famous French artist who by the dawn of the 21st Century had slipped into obscurity for a contemporary audience, the issues of race, though certainly a factor of Chocolat's life, are addressed far more strongly than they most likely were back in the days. Of course, Chocolat's entire career was based around his otherness and influenced more by the ignorant cultural notions of white audiences than they were by reality, but that did not stop him from becoming one of the top theatrical artists of his day. And he was known to be proud of that achievement, even though much of his acts involved getting his arse kicked by a white clown.
But the blatant, painful melodrama of his life suggested by this movie is more of an attempt to remind modern audiences of the insanity and humiliation on which his career was based rather than on actually reported events. Not to mention Chocolat's private demons involving women, booze, drugs and gambling, which add further obstacles to his career beyond simply attempting to add diversity to his stage acts. Basically, by adding all these other troubles, the writers make it clear that Chocolat is an artist like any other, dealing with the same pitfalls of fame that other artists experienced.
The performances were the best part. Omar Sy may actually have hit a career high note on this one by delivering what is certainly an extremely convincing performance. He moves from merry clown entertaining women and children to broken, down-on-his-luck artist plagued by rampant racism seemingly effortlessly. Not to mention that he and his co-star James Thierrée are equally matched, with the latter playing a perfect counterpart as the stage obsessed but otherwise grumpy and serious clown Footit, a total opposite to the light-hearted Chocolat in many other respects beyond race. The duo makes for a strikingly different pair of personalities you could hardly imagine sharing the circus, though the ultimate break-up feels like an inevitable event from the get-go. The circumstances involving their separation were not as 'black and white' as this film suggests though. Again, the film feels the need for distorting the truth in order to underscore the malign racism of the era. That message is well received, but the historical character of Chocolat is not aided by hammering home the message so harshly. However, thanks to this movie, he is also not forgotten.
Overall, a 'must see'!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Accountant (Directed by Gavin O'Connor; Written by Bill Dubuque)

Christian Wolff is a maths expert with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world's most dangerous criminal organisations. With the Treasury Department's Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King, starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian unfolds the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.

Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Lithgow, Jean Smart, Alison Wright, Jason Davis, Seth Lee, Jake Presley

My thoughts on this film: It is one of those rare movies that build on the character layer upon layer, telling the story of a father upbringing his kid with autism and his determination to harness his son's true potential by forging him with martial arts.
Christian Wolff is exceptional with numbers and analytics, which combined with years of training martial arts, make him the one that truly swims among the sharks.
The bit that I loved the most - besides all the suspense - was the way they included a very well-known nursery rhyme into the story. Very witty indeed. Now, I am the one who cannot get it out of my head:
Solomon Grundy,
Born on Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday:
And that was the end
Of Solomon Grundy.

Also expect a big story on autism.
One could say that there is a bit for everyone.
Overall, it was not the best movie of the year, but very entertaining!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Harry Potter and the cursed child: parts one and two (J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne)

The eighth story. Nineteen years later...
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it is not much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Quote: "... there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe."

My thoughts on this book: To begin with, this is a play. Right away it is unlike what we have read so far. However, it is very readable because the dialogue is wonderful. It can be just as easily read like a book.
The plot leaves a little something to be desired. I must admit that I only got into it halfway through. This is not so much about the world and magic, but more about relationships.
It also feels older... The jokes are mostly about growing old and there is a lot of family drama between Harry and his son, Albus.
I found this book to be entertaining, but now would be the time to stop. It was a risky experiment and we should leave this world alone. I really do not want to read about old-age Harry, Ron, and Hermione rolling around in magical wheelchairs.