So we all made it into 2018, we’ll done people. As last year, I will be logging and reviewing all the movies I see at the cinema (whether it’s a new release or not) and all the books I read.
Movies: in the order I watched them
1. Pitch Perfect 3
The first movie is alright, the second was quite boring and this one was just awful. There’s not much plot apart from the world’s most contrived singing contest. As always, the decision to have Anna Kendrick’s character as the star is an odd choice, and the idea that she’s about to get picked up by a major label to be a pop star is ludicrous. Plus her outfit at the end of the movie is just lamé tragedy. John Lithgow and Rebel Wilson are the only redeeming features of this dull film.
2. All The Money In The World
Christopher Plummer and Romain Duris are the best thing in an overlong, overwrought attempt to bring a fresh new take on a story that everybody already knows. There are just so many scenes of Michelle Williams, and/or Mark Wahlberg getting into cars, which really slows the pace of a film that was already not very pacy. I didn’t dig it.
3. Molly’s Game
It’s based on a true story but everything about this is classic Aaron Sorkin. It’s Rounders, but everyone is talking NON STOP with Jessica Chastain in an array of fabulous, tiny dresses. I really enjoyed it, and it felt like it was about to say something really important about the different standards society holds men and women to but it flubbed it right at the end to go for a comfy parental reconciliation ending instead. Still good though.
4. The Death Of Stalin
I wasn’t sure about watching this, because the cast was just so male, but it was genuinely hilarious. Simon Russell Beale and Jason Isaacs are the standouts, but everyone is good.
5. The Commuter
The Commuter has a totally illogical, nonsensical plot. However, this is a Liam Neeson movie, so nobody cares. There’s one really good fight, and Neeson throws a few good punches, but ultimately it should have been better than it was. More Run All Night than Non Stop.
The best movie I watched in January was The Death of Stalin’s and the movie i’m Most likely to rewatch is The Commuter.
Books: in the order I read them
1. Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
3.5 stars. It’s a really interesting insight into Mara’s life and it’s sad and sweet and funny. I wish there had been more of it to read.
2. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
5 stars. I really enjoyed THE FIFTH SEASON, but it left me with loads of unanswered questions. Happily THE OBELISK GATE provides some of the answers, deepens our understanding of the character’s motivations and really expands the detail of this richly imagined world. I enjoyed it so much partly because the MC is an adult woman (so rare) and also because there’s really nothing else like it, so it’s impossible to tell where the story will go. Also boilbugs? I’m gonna have nightmares about those.
3. On Writing by Stephen King
3 stars. There’s some really helpful practical advice in here, which I will try and utilise and the memoir segments are engaging. However we don’t all have career supporting wives to be our first readers and to ensure we have spare time to devote to writing, so those sections are less helpful.
4. Beneath The Surface by Rebecca Langham
3 stars. The world, story and Lydia’s journey are all interesting, and I genuinely couldn’t tell where the story was going, which was refreshing. However, ALL the story is driven by character dialogue and the MC pondering things, which doesn’t make for a very exciting read. Also there were 3 POVs but only the MC really gets a journey. None of the characters felt particularly realistic.
Beneath The Surface wants to be like A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet but doesn’t have the memorable characters.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
5. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
4 stars. The world is richly imagined, and yet unexpected. I enjoyed the concept of the Belles, and the ambition of Camellia’s character and her multi-layered journey. After so much build up the ending came very quickly and was less satisfying than I’d hoped - it’s clearly set up for a sequel. However, it is a really innovative and readable novel and I look forward to seeing where the story goes next.
6. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon
3.5 stars. I raced through this. The high concept is excellent, and I really liked the world building of near future literary New York. However, Ana is a very passive main character, everything is happening to the characters around her as she just waits on the sidelines feeling confused and upset, which meant I could never relate to her as a real person. The ending is sadly just wrapped up in a massive amount of exposition and feels forced, despite it failing to tie all the plot threads together. However, the central mystery is excellent, and the peripheral characters are all entertaining.