Review: Call Me By Your Name (2017)

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“We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new.”
– Mr Perlman

SYNOPSIS: In 1980s Italy, a romance blossoms between a seventeen-year-old student and the older man hired as his father’s research assistant. – via IMDB

I recently popped this on to watch – I remember when it came out, people raved about it, and I always said that I would get to it and then, you know, life. But then it was on Netflix and I had some chill time and I figured “why not?” and let me tell you, I had no idea what I was in for whatsoever.

Call Me By Your Name is a visually stunning movie. Honestly, it is just beautiful to look at, and it has the feeling of a memory, this charming look back into a summer in the eighties, and I loved that. It almost feels dreamy, and everything just seems to chilled and summery. The music also comes in and just vibes with everything going on. It is never too in your face, but totally the shaping the experience.

Then there is the main meat of the story, and that is (obviously) Elio and Oliver. You get swept up into this story, watching a young boy coming to terms with his blossoming sexuality, and an older research assistant of Elio’s father very much the object of desire. To watch the back and forth between Hammer and Chalamet is very rewarding. You see that while Elio comes across as very cultured and smart, there are still larges swathes of innocence for him. You also see that while Oliver is a confident young man, he, too, has struggles with his feelings towards Elio and the situation in general.

Michael Stuhlbarg is fantastic in this, and it is so lovely to watch him with his family and the relationship he has with his son. It is fantastic to watch his scenes, and I thought the family dynamics between mother, father, and son were wonderful.

Call Me By Your Name creates a beautifully sensual movie that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure. It is an emotional journey you undertake and enjoy throughout. This is a movie about first love, not just sexuality, and will resonate with many people. I highly recommend it, it is a beautiful watch and it has lingered with me after the fact. I have bought the book and audiobook already because I just need more of this!

February Blind Spot Review: Atonement (2007)

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atonement-poster

“I don’t know how I could’ve been so ignorant about myself… so… so stupid. And you know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You knew before I did.”
– Cecilia Tallis

SYNOPSIS: Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5I have been meaning to watch Atonement for years, and for all sorts of reasons, I never got to it, hence I thought it would be a great addition to my 2017 Blind Spot list. Man, oh man, this movie. My heart! Goodness, there is so much to talk about it, so I suppose I best order my thoughts and try to convey what I felt about this in some form of coherent review. That, and a gif overload. I can’t help it, the movie was beautiful to look at.

James McAvoy is an actor I would watch in anything, and not just for science. The man is ridiculously talented, and this was just another example of how phenomenal he is when he sets his mind to something. I was so taken with his character Robbie. I adored him. I mean wow. Then, opposite him, is Keira Knightley. She is one of those actresses that irrationally annoy the crap out of me (again, thanks for that one Abbi). I don’t know – she’s not a bad actress, but she grates on my last nerve every single time, without fail. Not in Atonement. In fact, I thought she was very well suited to the role.  Knightley and McAvoy have great chemistry and fit together really well, and you are drawn in from the off to see if class was going to be set aside for them to be together. Just watching them was an experience on its own!

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The rest of the cast was incredibly good, too. Saoirse Ronan was excellent as the young Briony Tallis, and demonstrated that even as a young actress, she is a gifted, capable performer. I thought her subsequent counterparts to depict her while ageing were great, as both Ramola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave convincingly looked like her. Benedict Cumberbatch, another actor I adore, made my stomach turn completely here. I mean ick, ick, ick. I knew he was up to no good, but holy crapsticks, you nasty, despicable man! I found it pretty creepy that Juno Temple again played a character that got some nasties done to her by an older man (hem hem Killer Joe).

Anyway, Atonement was truly a heartbreaking story. I felt like the entire world was dark and doomed by the end of it, but I liked it. It was a bit predictable – I wasn’t ever actually shocked, but I was so invested in the outcome, even when I knew how it was supposed to go. That being said, it still had moments to shock you endlessly. The pacing is great because it gets you, and it gets you quickly. Then this story unfolds, flicking between the observations of a child who does not understand what she is seeing, to the actual events taking place. The difference between the two is amazing, and was used perfectly to point out that you don’t always know what you are looking at, and shouldn’t  jump to conclusions.

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I thought that visually, the movie was simply stunning. My word, it was shot well, and was a feast for the eyes, pretty much from the opening scene. So many things came together, and besides the performances and score, you could not overlook the specific shots that came together throughout the movie. There were so many scenes that captured such beauty, but I will just show a few here.

Let’s start with Robbie in the flower fields, it was so peaceful and serene.

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There was the scene with the water bursting into the tunnels, with everything breaking and the newspaper flying out.

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I was particularly fond of the ferris wheel. Everything about this scene just worked, especially with the sun shining through, the bandstand with the soldiers singing, and the smoke rising in the background. So much just came together to give us this.

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Another aspect that just worked was the score. The music set the tone, it did, and I particularly enjoyed the sound of the typewriter keys thwacking away being used to create a score, too. It was original, and so suited for the movie. It was great.

Anyway, as I am sure you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed Atonement, and did not feel that the predictability of it hurt it at all. A visual feast to behold, with a love story that will make your heart ache and amazing chemistry between Robbie and Cecilia, I would wholeheartedly recommend this movie. Just know that it is a heavy watch, but worth every moment of your time, even if it feels like the world is never really going to be okay again.

Rapid Review: The Revenant (2015)

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the revenant poster

“My heart bleeds. But revenge is in the creator’s hands.”
– Hikuc

SYNOPSIS: A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820’s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5So obviously you all know that I was super amped for this. DiCaprio? Sold! Tom Hardy? Sold. But DiCaprio. That was my main seller. Let me tell you, I was not in the least disappointed by this. It was brilliant. It is a long movie, but never really felt that way. The length just serves the purpose of really showing you how hopeless Glass’s situation was. It flips from a tale of survival to one of vengeance, each getting their moment to shine. Then there is the cinematography. Oh. My. Gosh. It told a whole story on its own and it was beyond beautiful to look at. There are lens flares all over the show, but it worked and didn’t annoy me (but then they seldom do, hence I never understand the flak that Abrams gets). Emmanuel Lubezki perfectly showcases the harsh and unforgiving conditions that Glass had to soldier through, but at the same time the breathtaking beauty was highlighted every step of the way. There were certain shots that I wasn’t a huge fan of, but that’s because it made my head spin and ache to try and match it, so there was that. Alejandro González Iñárritu truly realises a gorgeous film. The soundtrack suited the film down to a tee, and it all came together very well. But now on the the really big seller – the performances. They were all wonderful. Seriously, DiCaprio came in and owned Hugh Glass (but who in their right minds would have expected otherwise?). We felt for this guy, he captivated us, he drew us in with the story of his son (which, incidentally, was a major plus for me and then totally not a part of the real Glass’s life). I was backing this man all the way and I wanted to see him succeed. Credit is due to DiCaprio because his character is a man of exceptionally few words, and yet this did not stop him delivering one stellar performance. As for Tom Hardy? It was the first time I had actively despised a character of his (and he has played some dweebs), but this guy? What a douche! Domhnall Gleeson, who is just everywhere nowadays (my celebrity unsavvy fiancé even recognizes him by now), gave a damn fine performance, too, and was well worth a watch. Overall, this movie might not be for everyone due to the length and silences that fill the run time, but I feel that every aspect worked together well to draw you in and tell you a harrowing story of survival and a driving need for revenge with an absolutely stunning backdrop. Worth every second for sure, especially to see DiCaprio and Hardy united.

Review: Playing With Fire – Tess Gerritsen

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tess gerritsen playing with fire cover

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: A beautiful violinist is haunted by a very old piece of music she finds in a strange antique shop in Rome.

The first time Julia Ansdell picks up The Incendio Waltz, she knows it’s a strikingly unusual composition. But while playing the piece, Julia blacks out and awakens to find her young daughter implicated in acts of surprising violence. And when she travels to Venice to find the previous owner of the music, she uncovers a dark secret that involves dangerously powerful people—a family who would stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light. – via Goodreads

GRADE 8I was so stoked to get approval for this novel, I always enjoy reading something from Gerritsen. What I did not expect was how well this whole book was going to come together. It started innocuously enough, trundling along, nothing special or amazing. Then it got interesting when Julia plays this handwritten piece of music and her three year old daughter kills the family cat. I mean whoa, things escalated quickly. It has this horror/supernatural vibe going for it, and it works for the story. Out of nowhere, the story flips to a character named Lorenzo, and his part of the story is set in Venice in the 1940s. The story takes on a whole new feel altogether, and tells us about a young Italian Jew who is a phenomenal violinist, who is tasked to work with a young woman named Laura to compete in a musical competition. The tone is totally different in Lorenzo’s sections, and the book has another feel altogether when reading Julia’s sections. I was far more engrossed when reading about Lorenzo, his family, his Jewish roots, the Nazis occupying so many of the countries around them and moving in on the Jews, the steadfast Italian belief that they were safe, and would be fine. Having Italy as the backdrop for the Holocaust is something different, a lot of novels concentrate on other areas of that time in history. It gives a different outlook altogether. Reading about Lorenzo and Laura was wonderful – it was not painful, in your face and soppy, but there was such a beautiful relationship that blossomed between them, birthed by music. Being wrenched back into Julia’s present problems of her daughter going scary and insane and violent, it was always a heavy transition to make, but you slip back into it quickly enough. I was enthralled pretty much from the beginning – while Julia and her situation interested me, it was Lorenzo and Venice in the 1940s that enchanted me. The books flows nicely and puts out a beautiful story, interspersed with thrills when you see how the past and the present become woven together. The two differing times really have two totally different feelings, but for me the past side was far more influential, and most of this review refers to that section. The book is chilling, strange, intoxicating, thrilling, romantic. Granted, neither story really needs the other, and Lorenzo’s was definitely the more captivating story (I could have read just about him and his affairs), but the two stories ultimately do come together. The ending was not something I saw coming, and it worked so well. I enjoyed this book far more than I was expecting, and I cannot recommend it enough. It is Gerritsen’s first standalone novel in ages, and definitely her best work in quite some time.

Review: Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

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eleanor and park cover

SYNOPSIS: Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. – via Goodreads

GRADE 9I would like to thank and cuss out Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are in equal measure for recommending this book. Let me tell you, from those first few pages, Eleanor & Park took over my whole darn life. I consumed this novel. I loved it and I hated it and I wish it never ended. It was truly a thing of beauty. I really wish that I had the words to describe how this book was. I found myself smiling and giggling like a little girl at times, and so quickly that mood could be crushed and soured. And just as you think the world is the nastiest place ever, Rowell picks it all up again and makes things right. This really was one of the most amazing books I have read in a long time. I don’t know when last I read a book that took over every waking minute, where I could not think further than getting my hands on it and reading, where I lay in bed at night, itching to read more but knowing I had to rest for work, and getting to the office and putting everything on hold until I could finish it. I did. I blew through the book, not only because it is a fast read, but because it demands to tell the story, to be heard. Eleanor & Park was thrilling and beautiful, painful and inspiring, everything all at once. I am crushed but not, depressed but happy… it’s like I want to read this book over and over again so I can commit every single detail to memory. Obviously I am a fan. This book spoke to many things I understood, many things that people deal with daily and hide. I appreciated it. I thoroughly enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s writing style, and I loved how she told the story. It draws you in from the opening pages, basically, and keeps you there all the way. I am gushing I know, but this book speaks of so many issues, and this feeling settles in your chest – anticipation, excitement. Butterflies. Like love. Exactly like that. This will remind you of youth, in all its fantastical glory and seemingly endless misery. It reminded me of what it was to be sixteen and be in impossible situations and seeing no way out of it, every problem being massive and insurmountable, yet having your whole life ahead of you but the inability to see it as such. I enjoyed the characters of the book quite a bit. Granted, the supporting characters were not as in depth or layered as Eleanor or Park, but they definitely contributed to what was going on. I was fascinated to read about Park’s conflicted feelings, how he had to make peace with himself about Eleanor as a whole, screw what everyone else thought, and it was a lovely thing to see how Eleanor no longer completely despised herself or her life. Their confusion at first love but determination to be together was amazing. I was grinning like a total goofball at the beginning of the book, and I found my facial state returning to that more often than not. They were both just adorable, and a bit like misfits. If you were ever a little different in life, something here is bound to make sense and resonate. I  wish I had the words to do this book justice, to share how amazing and awesome it is, to get everyone to understand the brilliance, to understand how much I loved it.

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Sporadic Scene: Vikings (Season 2×07) – Blood Eagle

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Vikings is just one of those shows that works phenomenally. Initially intrigued by the fact that this was hosted by the History Channel, I was soon roped in by the way that they used a series for epic storytelling, to relay the history in an intersting manner. Vikings is pretty heavy on the gore and bloodshed, so it is nice that they do not pussyfoot around the ancient viking rituals. Below is a scene in which someone was subjected to the ritual of the Blood Eagle, and I thought that it was done excellently, with the ritual shown, as well as the emotions, honour, suffering and respect.

If you have a scene that you would like featured, drop me a mail at sporadiczoe@hotmail.com with a picture/gif/video of the scene and an explanation as to why (should you want to include it).