Movies I watched in November (in the order I watched them)
1. Murder On The Orient Express
I felt like I was the only person not looking forward to this adaptation, and my expectations were not challenged. Everyone knows how the story ends so all attempts to build tension immediately fall flat. Kenneth Branagh and Josh Gad are great but nobody else seems sure how to play it. Can we please stop casting Johnny Depp in movies? He's not a good actor by any means (his last great performance was Edward Scissorhands) and frankly any dickish American could have played that role. There's a half hearted attempt at a 'fake' alternative ending but it lasts for about 30 seconds and nobody believes it anyway. Also, for a movie set almost entirely inside a train there is a disturbing amount of CGI. Would it really have been that difficult to buy some stock footage or send a crew out to the mountains for a few days? While this version isn't horrible, the David Suchet TV adaption is far better.
2. Bad Mom's Christmas
Full disclosure, I really liked the first Bad Mom's movie and felt similarly warm hearted about this one. Sure, it has loads of problems, like confusing slow motion sequences with plot points (there's like 12 slo mo scenes) and a confusing message (adult parents constantly sniping with their parents about the kids) but it's enjoyable enough fluff. It's also the only movie franchise of recent times that shows/allows moms to have fun and have their own personal lives. So for that reason alone it gets a thumbs up from me.
3. Paddington 2
I usually hate kid's films but Paddington 2 is very sweet. It almost becomes saccharine but a great cast with standout turns from Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson help keep it the right side of schmaltzy. Hugh Grant is clearly having the best time as the camp villain and the movie as a whole makes a nice change from all the Grimdark superhero movies of recent years.
4. Justice League
We all knew it was going to be rubbish, didn't we? The only question was whether it was going to be as bad as recent turkeys The Mummy and X-Men: Apocalypse, and the good news is that Justice League isn't quite that bad. It's just boring. Really, really boring. Every beat in it you've seen before in a different superhero movie, particularly the Avengers movie Age of Ultron. It's not as trying as Batman vs. Superman but only because it's run time is 40mins shorter than BvS. The cast aren't bad: Ben Affleck looks embarrassed to be on screen but Ezra Miller provides some light hearted moments and Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa are both good as their characters. However, the plot is paper thin (a CGI monster and some crappy glowing boxes want to take over the world) and the final act has some of the shoddiest CGI of recent blockbusters (not quite as shockingly unfinished as The Mummy Returns but not far off). It's a fail, but sadly not even an interesting fail. Also, for the people campaigning that the 'real' Zack Snyder movie should be released: Justice League looks and feels like a Snyder movie to me, with glossy, pointless violence and vacuous characters pursuing largely nonsensical aims.
The best film I saw in November was Paddington 2 and the movie I'm most likely to re watch was Bad Mom's Christmas.
Books I read in November (in the order I read them)
1. Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
2.5 stars. I really struggled to stay engaged with this story. The main character has no journey - she faces no consequences for doing something that literally kills hundreds of people in really horrible ways. Her actions also leads to the deaths of her friends but seemingly that's okay because a faceless corporation did it first. The characters chasing the MC also kill people with impunity and face no consequences, they actually get rewarded to pursue their wildest dreams at the end.
The world building has some interesting things to say about modern life and how corporations have a stranglehold on the truth, but it reads like an editorial rather than fiction. Also for 2144 the tech seems to be stuck with innovation that is almost possible now.
I'm disappointed because there was so much hype around this book and I was really looking forward to it, but the story didn't grab me and the ideas feel quite old.
If you're interested in this I would recommend you also check out Slow River by Nicola Griffith or Lightborn or Sound Mind by Tricia Sullivan, as they cover similar themes.
2. Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
3 stars. This is an odd novel. The descriptions of 1940's San Fransisco and the struggles each of the women, and gay women in particular face are well described and sensitively handled. I loved the romance between Spike and Haskell and wished there was more of it. However, there's some unexplained fantasy elements thrown in that while interesting, seem to jar with the rest of the story. The actual ending is very odd as it's a sad moment that's also almost played for laughs.
3. Weaver's Lament (Industrial Magic #2) by Emma Newman
3 stars. It's pacy, and I like the world first outlined in Brother's Ruin, but Weaver's Lament offers little in the way of character development for the MC and provides no answers to the mysteries raised in the first book. The plot is low stakes and while the MC asks a lot of questions very little actually happens. I will read the next novel but if the pace of the series doesn't pick up then I probably won't stick with it.
The best book I read in October was Passing Strange.
All of my book reviews can also be found on my Goodreads under my profile Doon.
TV wise I've started watching Mindhunter, which is quite slow but interesting enough.
Next month: I'm on a bit of a true crime trip at the moment and so will be reviewing The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich.