Keanu (2016) Film Review

Have you seen Key and Peele? If yes, then you know that this is absolutely the film they were going to make. There’s a guy, Rell (Jorden Peele) who’s girlfriend has left him and he is so down until the cutest, tiniest little kitten turns up on his doorstep. He calls him Keanu and it becomes his best friend until it disappears. His mate, Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) is brought in to retrieve the cat from the nearby gang banger, Cheddar (Method Man) and his crew, and so Rell and Clarence fake being out-of-town drug dealers to save Keanu.

It’s ridiculous. It starts out a bit silly, then gets somewhat crazy, and then finally becomes totally and wonderfully absurd. If you like the humour of these guys, I think you’ll love this. But if you don’t like ridiculous funny, it’s probably not for you.

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Doctor Strange (2016) Film Review

Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an amazing surgeon until he has an accident and his hands are left injured and shaky. No longer able to work, he sees little point in life until he hears of a man he operated on who recovered from paralysis and he pursues this path, discovering a mystical world filled with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton – and I mean, what more could you really want? Magic? Sure, have some of that too.

I wish I had seen this in the cinema- the visuals are amazing. I found the movements that the magic people have to make a bit… geeky, really. Which was odd given how cool the magic itself was. I’m quite pleased that this guy is now in the Marvel Universe – I look forward to what next.

Doctor Strange was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects

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Carol (2015) Film Review

Carol (Cate Blanchett) is a rich woman, married to Harge (Kyle Chandler) but who prefers the company of women. He has forced the end of her relationship with Abby (Sarah Paulson), but now that Carol and Harge are separated, she feels free to pursue Therese (Rooney Mara). But things cannot go smoothly.

Again, it is one of those films where not a lot happens – it’s slow and beautiful and fabulous. It’s rare to have a film about love between women in the mainstream, and with a cast like Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, this was always going to be mainstream. Setting it in the fifties allows the film to be read with an element of ‘that was then, things are different now’, but I hope people realise that many of the prejudices and fears are still as real now.

Carol was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Cate Blanchett), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Rooney Mara), Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Phyllis Nagy), Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Costume Design and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score.



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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – Audio Book Review

Read by Michael York

Finally, I have read this book! I’ve been meaning to for so many years but just kind of haven’t, but I know it is in the same esteem (and somewhat similar style) of 1984. And wow, how wonderful.

So, it is the future, and everything in the world is controlled, from birth to the sleep learning of status and structure, to the set careers and playtime fun through to death and the recycling of the human body. Sex is a normal interaction like conversation, spending time alone is considered freaky, and no one reads. People are bred and conditioned into several groups, from the Alphas who control everything and have the most fun to the Epsilons who are deprived of oxygen during incubation in a test tube (people are decanted, not born. No-one actually carries a baby anymore). And to avoid emotions and anything unpleasant, people take Soma, a drug that can stimulate good things and send people on holidays in their mind.

Bernard is an Alpha who feels that things are not quite right, and when he goes on a holiday to a savage reservation in New Mexico with Lenina, a woman who plays by the ‘normal’ rules of sex and dating, he discovers an Alpha woman who was abandoned there many years ago. She was pregnant, an unacceptable state in society, and has become an alcoholic who sleeps with men to get drink. Her son is now an adult, and Bernard delights in bringing him back to society to be shown off like a trophy, like a novelty, a creature who, despite his recitation of the famous line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (Oh brave new world that has such people in’t), finds society disgusting and disgraceful.

The one thing I found difficult from the reading of the book by Michael York was the range of accents he (or the producer) chose during the reading. Bernard is Welsh and The Savage and his mother are from the North of England, possibly Birmingham as a couple of examples. This creates a different reading to it which I’m not sure was intended by Huxley, and I wonder if it added a sense of class that changes things. It’s a shame in a way, because I think I would have preferred to have kept it relatively neutral.

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Poum and Alexandre: A Paris Memoir by Catherine de Saint Phalle – Book Review

What is the purpose of a memoir? Having recently loved Magda Szubanski’s, and also The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Smith, I found this a tricky one. See, the characters are great, fascinating, unusual, and it’s a strange life the author had, somewhat disconnected to her parents and yet close to them and thus disconnected from those around her. Yet I felt like I needed something more – some kind of theme, or a through line, or something.

It’s beautiful and yet disconnected. I enjoyed it, but I get the feeling that there will be a lot of people out there who will really love it.

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Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut – Audio Book Review

Read by James Franco

I had no idea what this book was about, just that I’ve been meaning to read it for years. I knew it was a classic, and I knew it was about war. I did not expect time travelling or aliens or… well, any of that. And wow. It’s pretty hard to describe this book succinctly, but it’s about the bombing of Dresden, about a group of American soldiers who were prisoners of ware and were there for the aftermath, about a man trying to write about it and then… yes, aliens and time travel and etc. etc.

Initially, I was disappointed that it was read by James Franco. He’s okay, but I found his voice a bit monotonous. But, as it went, I found that his voice was prefect for this text – it had the resigned tone of someone who has lived through hell and needs to tell of it, but also kind of can’t. The only issue I had with it as an audio book was I couldn’t get a strong sense of the structure of the story, but I still really loved it.

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Ex Machina (2014) Film Review

Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) works for some fabulous tech company and wins a week to stay with the founder of the company – the elusive Nathan (Oscar Isaac). After a long helicopter ride, he finds himself at an amazing property in the middle of nowhere. He discovers that Nathan is a mysterious alcoholic with a non-English speaking, Japanese servant, Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) and that he is not on a break, but has a task. He is to see if the robot woman that Nathan has developed, Ava (Alicia Vikander) can pass as human.

Exhausting, stunning, clever, wonderful, fantastic, I just loved it. It’s creepy but beautiful and raises a lot of questions about what we value in life and how we interact with the world around us. Since I watched this, Ex Machina keeps popping onto my head. I can’t recommend this enough – although I think if you cannot stand scifi, you probably won’t connect with this one.

Ex Machina won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects and was nominated for Best Writing, Original Screenplay. It was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Alicia Vikander) and for BAFTAs for Best British Film, Best Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander), Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.

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