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Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Santangelos (Jackie Collins)

A vicious hit. A vengeful enemy. A drug-addled Colombian club owner. A coke-addicted young actress. And the ever powerful Lucky has to handle them all. Then there is Max, her teenage daughter, the new 'It' girl in Europe's modelling world, and her son, Bobby, who is being set up for a murder that he did not commit. But Lucky can deal with all of it. Always strong and unpredictable, with her husband Lennie by her side, she lives up to the family motto: NEVER CROSS A SANTANGELO. But when Lucky opens an expensive note card edged in gold, printed with the single word 'Vengeance', she knows that she is in for the fight of her life...

Quote: "Plans were made to be broken. Things happened in mysterious ways. Always expect the unexpected."

Why this book speaks to me: A bitter-sweet read. Jackie Collins has always been one of my favourite authors, as she managed to mix everything I love: crime, thriller, and Hollywood glamour. So, it is sad to be doing my very last review of her very last book. But what a legacy to leave behind! And this is no exception!
She truly was the best in her genre. Thank you for all the joy you have given me, Jackie. I will miss your stories!

The Girl on the Train (Directed by: Tate Taylor; Based on the novel by Paula Hawkins)

The Girl on the Train is the story of Rachel Watson's life post-divorce. Every day, she takes the train to New York, and every day the train passes by her old house. The house she lived in with her husband, who still lives there, with his new wife and baby. As she attempts to not focus on her pain, she starts watching a couple who live a few houses down - Megan and Scott Hipwell. She creates a wonderful dream life for them in her head, about how they are a perfect, happy family. And then one day, as the train passes, she sees something shocking, filling her with rage. The next day, she wakes up with a horrible hangover, various wounds and bruises, and no memory of the night before. She has only one feeling: something bad happened. Then come the TV reports: Megan Hipwell is missing. Rachel becomes invested in the case and tries to find out what happened to Megan, where she is, and what exactly was she up to that same night Megan went missing.

Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramírez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney, Lisa Kudrow, Lana Young

My thoughts on this film: I have never read the book, but I must say that I found the movie bitterly disappointing.
It was devoid of any imagination, life or characters worth caring for.
Looking worse for wear and giving her all, Emily Blunt tries desperately to elevate the film around her in her portrayal of hard drinking and divorced Rachel - who is our film's focus -, but despite her commitment and dedication, Rachel is not an overly appealing character and remains hard to watch for most of the film.
So uninspired and boring, I will say that you can afford to miss this one train!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Inferno (Directed by Ron Howard; Based on the novel by Dan Brown)


When Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks, and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot.


Starring: Felicity Jones, Tom Hanks, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Foster, Ana Ularu, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy

My thoughts on this film: Reading the book beforehand is a positive here and you will want to go and see it, but expect a radically altered story. If you have not read the book, prepare to be confused, but it can still be an entertaining ride.
The largest positive part of this movie is Tom Hanks. Hank's role here is a slight departure from the previous films due to the circumstances that are made apparent from the very beginning - which I will not spoil for you -, and yet he was excellent again as Robert Langdon. Omar Sy was also a nice surprise as I had only seen him in French films.
Aside from these two, the story was muddled, but chase-movie action and constant changes of beautiful scenery made it an entertaining ride.
In my opinion, this film departs radically from the source material. That said, reading the book is an advantage and might be a compelling reason to go and see the movie. Knowing the book-story means you will know what is going on, even through elements that were not in the book and/or were poorly presented (i.e. the skin rash).
One thing to note, Dan Brown's message was pretty much lost and I wonder if that was intentional? Even the ending, which in the book was used to punctuate Dan Brown's obvious point, is radically changed in the movie. So while the basic story is similar, what you actually take away is very different from the book.
Overall, it is still enjoyable to see.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Snowden (Oliver Stone)


The NSA's illegal surveillance techniques were leaked to the public by one of the agency's employees, Edward Snowden, in the form of thousands of classified documents distributed to the press. Based on the books - The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding, and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.

Starring: Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage, Shailene Woodley, Tom Wilkinson, Joely Richardson

Why I loved this film: First of all, I have to give praises to Joseph Gordon-Levitt who I think went above and beyond in not only capturing Edward Snowden's mannerism and the way he speaks, but Gordon-Levitt's performance in this film is so calculating and precise!
Shailene Woodley also gives her most mature performance yet, because this film is more than just about the whole surveillance controversy, it is also about how that negatively affects Snowden and Mills' relationship, which I think is fairly handled as both aspects do not take away or diminish each other's importance in the process.
Overall, I think that Snowden is a riveting film that keeps you engaged and more importantly gets you thinking, which I believe to be the goal of Oliver Stone. Does the film lean one way in that it paints Edward Snowden as a hero? I think so, but not in a way that intentionally judges those who at the end still think of him as a traitor.
Most of all, it has left me with questions and more curious about the truthfulness of the whole situation.