Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Books and movies in 2017: July

I am currently listening to Tom Sawyer by Rush so I'm feeling rather bombastic. Though I am sad to report that it was another low month for book reading and movie-watching. I need to get a bit less of a life, or quit my job, or both. One day I will realise my life's ambition to win the lottery so I can drink tea and read/watch films all day.

Movies I watched in July (in the order I watched them)

1. Baby Driver
As someone who isn't into Edgar Wright stuff - "Not even Scott Pilgrim?" - "Surely you like Spaced, it's even co-written by a woman?" - No to both - I wasn't expecting to like Baby Driver, and I did not like it. There are multiple problems with every aspect of it. In terms of being a heist movie - these endlessly quirky crew members (Darling with her pink cropped fur coat, the guy with the Hat tattoo, Bats dressing like Michael Jackson from Thriller, and Baby, a 6ft 3in dork) rob banks in their own clothes and then just wander around the city as if CCTV had never been invented. The women may as well be cardboard cutouts - note to Edgar Wright, giving a woman a gun isn't the same thing as giving her agency - and just because a hot waitress is lonely at a diner doesn't mean she'll abscond with the first enigmatic weirdo that comes her way because he knows a song that uses her name. Baby doesn't learn from his mistakes and the ending is white privilege served with no acknowledgement or irony. I know people have been saying it's their film of the year but those people need their heads examined.

You wanna watch a cool heist film? Then watch Heat, The Town, The Inside Man, Triple 9, Point Break, hell even the Point Break remake has more going on, or Sleepless, which is a high concept mess. I could list about 50 others.

2. Spider-man Homecoming
If there's one constant thing about my personality it's that i hate every incarnation of Spider-man. I literally only watched it because I was worried I wasn't using my Cineworld card enough, but actually it was great! I enjoyed it so much I actually recommended it to people. I think Tom Holland portrays that teenage sense of arrogance in a breezy, engaging way. Michael Keaton is excellent, and while it had the same ending of every Marvel movie for the last x years, it worked better in Homecoming because they made an effort to develop the characters. Marisa Tomei should've been given more to do but it was still great.

3. War for the Planet of the Apes
I loved Dawn and Rise and so was expecting to enjoy War but I was sorely disappointed. I know it's gotten rave reviews from basically everyone but THE PLOT IS UNBELIEVABLY DULL AND MAKES NO SENSE. Like absolutely no sense. Just think about it for a minute. Yes, from that bit, to that bit, and ending up at, with them, just ... doesn't make sense. There's loads of little nods to Apocalypse Now and other serious films, but referencing a great film is not enough to make your film great. The movie looks stunning, and the CGI of the apes is fantastic (though the weight of the apes is still a bit off) but overall it feels like a missed opportunity to detail the last gasp of humanity as Caesar grapples with his.

4. Dunkirk
I was apprehensive about this because Interstellar was such a crushing disappointment - I still get flashbacks of those wheat fields. Wheat fields have no place in a science fiction movie - are you listening Alien: Covenant?

Dunkirk does have it's problems: the whitewashing of the soldiers on the beaches and the total lack of women don't stack up with historical accounts and yet must have been an active decision, which is concerning. However, the movie is visually stunning. It felt more like an experience than a movie, and I got really caught up in that sense of foreboding every time anybody boarded a ship. The choppy timeline wasn't necessary but I didn't mind it, once I figured out what was going on.

I actually knew very little about Dunkirk until I read Connie Willis's  historical time travel  novel Blackout last year, but was enchanted by the small vessels. I thought Dunkirk did a really good job of wordlessly conveying the individual choices of people trying to do the right thing, it's just a shame that Nolan took the decision to only tell white men's stories.

The best film I saw in July and the movie I'm most likely to re watch was Spider-man: Homecoming

Books I read in July (in the order I read them)

1. Infomocracy by Malka Older
3 stars. There are some interesting elements to Infomocracy: the centenal jurisdictions, some of the political positioning and Mishima is an interesting character. However, as someone with a knowledge of election systems I found a lot of the conspiracy to be ill-focused and the ending rushed and dissatisfying. The voting irregularities stuff is years old, which is a bit silly for a novel that is supposed to be a relegation in how to mess with democracy. There are also too many characters and some just disappear mid-way through the book with no wrap up of their journey.

2. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
2 stars. I feel bad for being disappointed by The Princess Diarist. I love Carrie Fisher, and there are some funny moments and interesting insights, but i just found it too rambling and unfocused. I'm just gonna go back and watch Carrie Fisher's cameo in 30 Rock again instead. 

3. The Power by Naomi Alderman
3.5 stars. The world building and the positioning of how the power rolls across the world is fantastic. The little nods to modern sexism are initially very illuminating, though become a bit repetitive. However the characters and the plot very pretty pedestrian and overall it seemed like a missed opportunity to explore how a matriarchy might create a different world (as opposed to just mirroring a patriarchy). 

However I definitely think it's worth reading and if you enjoyed this you should also check out Ammonite by Nicola Griffith and Women on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.

The best book I read in July was The Power by Naomi Alderman

Also, my boyfriend made me watch Robocop, which I had never seen before. I'd been refusing to watch it as I thought it would be sexist but after some careful cajoling from the boyf - "your cries of sexism have finally jumped the shark" and "you have literally no idea what you are talking about" - I decided to watch it, if only to stop him from fucking going on about it. It is actually less sexist than I thought it was, but I still found Robocop quite boring. Still, at least now I get to make the boyf watch Nicholas Cage's USS Indianapolis with me. 

I also watched Dear White People (the TV show, though I've seen the movie too), which was excellent, and started watching Insecure, with Issa Rae, who I've loved since the Awkward Black Girl web series. I live in hope that one day Netflix will show a sci-fi series I can bear to watch but I've tried and given up on the OA, the Expanse and Killjoys so I think I'll give sci-fi a rest for a bit. 

OMG, I also saw the Stranger Things 2 trailer and it's so perfect that I want to cry. I dressed up as Eleven for Halloween last year (along with about a million other women) and so plan to watch the whole of the new series in my Eleven costume. Yes, I am in my thirties. 

Next month: I'm going on holiday to Center Parcs so that should mean more reading time. I'm hoping to get through Kameron Hurley's The Geek Feminist Revolution and a couple of others. 

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