Blind Spot Series 2017 Rankings

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So, another year gone, another twelve movies crossed off of my Blind Spot list. For the most part, I had particularly good movies this year. For the most part…

Anyway, as always, I decided to rank them all here.

12. Deliverance (1972)

Well. This. Fuck this movie. I will say it again, fuck this movie. Yep, totally hated it. I am sure you all remember the Shitfest-worthy meltdown I had about this. If you don’t, you are more than welcome to head on back to the review linked above to see how I raged. Ugh…

11. Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Certainly not an underrated gem as I was led to believe, I was so amped to finally watch this gangster movie and was totally let down by it. What a waste of nearly four hours of my life!

10. Cronos (1993)

While I am always up for Guillermo Del Toro’s Spanish works, this one was not nearly as great as I was hoping it would be. It was not a bad movie by a long shot, but it does not stand equal to The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth.

9. The Road (2009)

Dark, depressing, apocalyptic, The Road definitely paints a super depressing, far more realistic apocalyptic future than these movies usually portray. Viggo Mortensen is exellent, and Kodi Smit-McPhee also holds his own in the bleak movie. Worth the watch!

8. Say Anything (1989)

So pleased to have seen this –  it is one of those movies that is referenced all over the show, and I have never really known how it all fit in. Man, Lloyd Dobler is absolutely adorable and the boombox over the head scene finally makes sense now. Say Anything is sweet, but not to soppy your stomach churns. Enjoyed this one!

7. The Help (2011)

Okay, so right off the bat, this is not unpredictable, but that doesn’t make it bad. The Help is rather formulaic, and shies away from some of the sick history it is steeped in, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t find other ways to run home the story. There are terribly sad moments, moments that will make you mad, and some great sections with some fantastic humour, and the movie has heart. The cast, too, definitely sold this one.

6. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, but I really liked this one. I thought it was funny and shot really well and rather strange, but it all worked. I would like to rewatch it and see if it holds up as well. I must admit, this is where I finally understood Tom Hiddleston’s appeal to the world – before he was just a decent actor. After this? Impressed. Plus I liked the humour in this. So deadpan. Swinton and Hiddleston make this a treat.

5. The Orphanage (2007)

Another one of those cult classic type movies I have vowed for years to get to and just never did, 2017 was the year that changed. The Orphanage is haunting, sad, beautiful and creepy, and has a solid story as a strong psychological aspect to it, making it a movie that gets under your skin and lingers long after, not just a typical, generic horror movie at all.

4. JFK (1991)

Conspiracy theories galore! Naturally this was totally going to be my cup of tea, and it totally was. There were some solid performances and I was particularly interested in how Stone would set out his case for JFK’s assassination. While I feel that it was heavy handed in forcing his interpretation of events down the viewer’s throat, if you watch this as a theory and not as the gospel of the answers to JFK’s assassination, you are in for a good time. Great starting point for those not too familiar with the intricacies of the infamous case.

3. City of God (2002)

I can see why this movie is so popular – it is so not an easy watch, but it is engaging, gritty, violent, realistic, and truly gets you thinking. It tells a super solid story and it draws you in, getting you invested in some characters from this nasty slum. It is depressing and yet completely enthralling, something I can see myself revisiting.

2. Rear Window (1954)

James Stewart man, what an actor. The man is amazing, and with Grace Kelly at his side, the duo was bound to impress. Hitchcock, too, weaves a tense one-room story, which is carried and fleshed out completely by a talented cast. The tension is palpable, the story is smart and engaging, and the pacing is just right. Rear Window is a well-crafted movie and definitely worth the time.

1. Atonement (2007)

Ah, Atonement. Where do we even start? My goodness, what a watch. While it is not completely perfect or shocking, and it is predictable in places, it is handled so well and is shot brilliantly – truly, what beautiful shots. James McAvoy is absolutely perfect here, sweeping us all up so completely in Robbie. Keira Knightley, too,  managed to not work on my last nerve. The two work together well, and Atonement tells one hell of a story, a journey I both loved and resented in equal measure. I thought it was told so well, and some details were handled with such aplomb. What a movie, though certainly not a light, easy watch.

Review: The Whispering Room – Dean Koontz

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Jane Hawk #2

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: “No time to delay. Do what you were born to do. Fame will be yours when you do this.” 

These are the words that ring in the mind of mild-mannered, beloved schoolteacher Cora Gundersun–just before she takes her own life, and many others’, in a shocking act of carnage. When the disturbing contents of her secret journal are discovered, it seems certain that she must have been insane. But Jane Hawk knows better.

In the wake of her husband’s inexplicable suicide–and the equally mysterious deaths of scores of other exemplary individuals–Jane picks up the trail of a secret cabal of powerful players who think themselves above the law and beyond punishment. But these ruthless people bent on hijacking America’s future for their own monstrous ends never banked on a highly trained FBI agent willing to go rogue–and become the nation’s most wanted fugitive–in order to derail their insidious plans to gain absolute power with a terrifying technological breakthrough.

Driven by love for her lost husband and by fear for the five-year-old son she has sent into hiding, Jane Hawk has become an unstoppable predator. Those she is hunting will have nowhere to run when her shadow falls across them. – via Goodreads

I read The Silent Corner a while ago and quite enjoyed it, very different to what I am used to from Koontz. When this became available for request on Netgalley, I just knew I needed to know what would happen with Jane Hawk and her incessant hunt for the truth about a huge conspiracy to control mankind and to avenge her husband.

The Whispering Room picks up almost directly after The Silent Corner, and wastes no time getting the story underway. As with the first novel, it feels like it could have been shorter in some places and felt like it rambled a bit in places, but other than that, barrels along at the speed of light. We have two new characters to sink out teeth into  and enjoy what with Luther and Grandpa Bernie, which is nice. Fresh characters can be fun, and I particularly enjoyed Jane teaming up with Luther Tillman. The man is smart and sharp and brave, too, which works wonders for them in the team.

The story unfolds rapidly, and the conspiracy to take over the world for “peace” and all that throws a few spanners into the works along the way, the theory of what this conspiracy club is doing and how and who is in charge and why keeps changing. The term “play Manchurian with me” becomes a really important part of this book, and it was interesting to also read a bit of the story form the perspective of a woman who “has a spider who lives in her brain”.

I feel that this Jane Hawk trilogy started strongly and has a follow up that is just as good as the first. I am super interested to see the final part of this story to see how Koontz is going to wrap it up and bring it all to a close. Hopefully soon I will know! The Whispering Room provides another interesting, fast read that has a few characters to truly enjoy, though there are places the book could certainly have been tightened up some.

11.22.63: Mini Series (2016)

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*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

What I liked:

  • The opening credits. Heck yeah, it summed the book up perfectly, all the smaller things that the show might have missed. It was engaging and looked good.
  • Daniel Webber as Lee Harvey Oswald. This guy was good. Seriously. There were times where you actually felt pity for this man, dirt poor and a wee bit cuckoo, and other times where you were just like “you ass”.

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  • Al Templeton flashing in between the episodes, explaining more about the past, talking about his research and what he discovered, as well as sharing some of the history. It keeps things relevant, so it wasn’t all blandly said in the beginning, and then things referenced throughout the film and then just not making sense later.
  • The tension that the show builds. While it lacks at times, it really kicks other times.
  • The show is engaging. It has a doomed air, and gives you all you need to appreciate the setting, the concept, and how it will come together.

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  • The performances all round were actually really good.
  • Obviously I was a fan of the romance between Sadie and Jake. Man. Lovely. It was captured rather well here, albeit so much more different than what it should have been like.

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  • How Jake also did things that were against his character, just to try and bend the past to his will, no matter that the past is obdurate, and does not want to be changed. I think a particularly crazy scene to highlight this was the entire debacle with Bill and the psych ward.
  • Bringing in the Harry Dunning story so effectively. This was a big thing for me, and I think Leon Rippy was a great Harry. Gosh, that story was so painful, and I am glad we got to see some of it.

What I didn’t like: 

  • How much it deviates from the book.
  • Johnny Clayton in the show was just not as terrifying as the book. His role was totally different, and he didn’t tear into town and wreck Sadie’s life under disguise or shockingly. They knew he was there. Also, I wish 11.22.63 had captured how loopy the guy was. WTF?! They touched on it but didn’t own it.

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  • The Yellow Card Man was also not as mysterious as he should have been, or as scary. The use of him was rather heavy handed, and the lack of explanation was also rather grating. It was an incredibly bizarre change for me, and not a particularly good character here, and he should have been.
  • The time jumped around a lot, and that left you feeling like things had been missed, and progression of certain other things had been overlooked.
  • Some things just didn’t have enough background, and so did not carry a lot of weight and came across as forced, which is unfortunate.

Rating:
GRADE 7
So y’all know I finished the book recently. I am still hanging. I have not stopped thinking about it since then, and I really had a hard time committing to another book. I tried man, I really tried. Other books just don’t look as great by comparison. Naturally I got my hands on 11.22.63 and decided to give it a go with my husband, who will never take the time to read the book, but with whom I really wanted to share the story.

Right off the bat, my husband loved it. He thought it was great, and was super flat when it was over, for so many reasons. I had an array of issues and niggles, of course, but that’s because I read the book. I continually reminded myself that it was obviously going to be different, and it was a huge book to bring to screen, and that the finer points would be missed. Unfortunately. That being said, and the fact that the show and the book are vastly different, it isn’t a bad show – it’s just not like the book. At all.

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The show felt a little bit confused about it wanted to be (for me). Like, did it want to focus on the romance? Did it want to be all about the JFK conspiracy? Did it want to be about time travel? These were not themes that had difficulty interacting in the book, but on screen it comes across as clunky, as though the writers didn’t know what was the most important thing to concentrate on. I was also really let down by how many characters got skipped over – the novel was so story-centric, and there were so many amazing characters that I was really excited to see. Mike and Bobby Jill essentially got a cameo. Ellie didn’t even make it into the story, as well as the array of gangsters that were skipped entirely. All those characters being forgotten and overlooked did not change the fact that Bill Turcotte became a big player in this one. Shockingly. Luckily he was a character that grew on me, otherwise we could have had issues.

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For the most part the show looked really good. The sets were great and looked legitimately old school. The directing made the show suffer a bit, and the pacing was off, and as much as my hubby was hanging on to every word to see what was cooking, so was I. This story was something different entirely, and they worked way more in depth with the whole concept of Oswald being used by the CIA for a hit.

I was so excited to see the relationship between Sadie and Jake. I mean wow, if ever there was an amazing romance, that would be it. I absolutely adored it. I think Sarah Gadon is gorgeous, and she and James Franco made for a good looking couple. She was rather different from what I imagined, and their romance was more fleeting that I would have liked – it was a super elaborate story in the books. However, Sadie and Jake fit together, and while the dance from the show was a little more stiff than I would have appreciated, I was thrilled to see it happen. The show managed to show how their relationship was not a simple, easy thing.

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Deke becoming a more central character was awesome, even if he still hung in the fringe a bit more than most. He was entertaining, and I wish we had seen more of him and Miz Mimi. As for Lee Harvey Oswald? Daniel Webber nailed him. Seriously. The show constantly had you suspicious of him, and did not beat around about painting him this dark, deranged cuckoo. I liked it. It was rather sinister. There were times I felt absurdly sorry for him, too.

Jake is from a totally different time, and the show addressed it quite well that Jake comes from a future where injustice is not taken so calmly, and the way he championed for Miz Mimi to be treated as an equal? Loved it. He gave that horrible petrol attendant the chirping of his life, and his decency at offering her even just a cup of coffee in a time where that was not acceptable was fantastic. The show didn’t spend too much time on it, but it did not overlook the fact that the sixties had some major issues.

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11.22.63 nailed the doomed, melancholic, bittersweet story it should be by the end. It might have been a mixed bag, but really got it rolling right by the end. Looking at how the ability to change the past will mess with you is great. Seriously, how do you know where you fit in anymore? Everything in the world is so precarious. The butterfly effect was explored quite well here.

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I particularly appreciated the smaller things that the show did, such as the grassy knoll umbrella dude and Oswald’s infamous backyard selfie. There were also plenty non-historic Easter eggs like “REDRUM” scrawled on the Texas Book Depository stairwell, and Franco’s “so good” over the pie, reference to The Green Mile’s “Old Sparky”, to name but a few.

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While this will never become one of my all time favourite shows, I appreciate what they went for, super large deviation and all. I think the biggest issue is that King’s work is really hard to bring to screen. Some have been done excellently, with the right people, and I was really holding out hope that this would come together like The Green Mile, but I was let down by that. However, I am convinced that if you watch this and haven’t read the book, you will love it. I am basing this on my husband’s reaction, who thoroughly enjoyed this and it stuck with him long after, and he is not one to really linger or get overly involved. If you have read the book, this will be a little jarring, but if you put that out of your mind, you will have a decent show to fill your time with.

SPOILER: The end was beautiful and crushing, all at once. It left you with that broken feeling, that feeling you were lied to, allowed to hope, even though you know it will be a tragedy, no matter how things go down. It was stunning and sad in equal measure, the perfect close.

Review: Rememberers – C Edward Baldwin

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 Rememberers #1

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: For 19-year-old Kallie Hunt, everyday moments began feeling all too familiar. She had a sense that she’d lived them before. But that was crazy, right? Deja vu. That was kid’s stuff, right? Been there, done that, impossible. You got one shot at this life thing. One shot. You lived. You died. End of story.

But if that was true, then why would the government be interested in her? Why would priests literally be stalking her? How could a small town girl possibly have anything to do with saving humanity from terrorists and demons? And pray-tell, what does any of it have to do with her first love?

For Kallie Hunt, there would be no simple answers. Besides, nothing in life is ever really simple. Not good. Not evil. Not even love… – via Goodreads

GRADE 4This book had a description that sounded mildly interesting (note, I didn’t get the synopsis on Goodreads) and I thought that it had possible potential. It started off and wasn’t particularly engrossing, but I trudged along anyway. Soon there was a possibility that things would look up… we had the church, hidden secrets, some weird agencies with their “soldiers”, dead terrorists and all that, I could even start dealing with the stunted dialogue. But then, just as quickly, that was lost. I honestly wanted to enjoy this more than I did. When Kallie was introduced, there was nothing I found even remotely likeable or identifiable about her, and that is most likely what kept me even more distanced from this book. Exploring this whole déjà vu thing was something I was looking forward to. Admittedly, the memory biology and the majority of the psychology discussed and presented in this book was well researched, accurate, and explained in a fantastically simple manner, so as not to lose any readers, and I appreciated that. As a psychology student, I hate it when some books drag in some slap dash psychology and then they are either wrong or so complicated that it doesn’t make sense to the average reader eventually anyway. So things were on an even level, nothing too amazing, nothing too bland, just average, and I was alright with that. But before I could blink my eyes and adjust to the next thing, Kallie was actually the goddess Kali or otherwise the First Woman, her boyfriend was silly and not fleshed out, FBI agent Bennett was basically stalking Kallie for answers to terrorist plots, the whole religious secret society petered out, there was no real explanation as to Rememberers and demon possession all over the show. Johnny Swag never had me convinced about his religious ties and was creepy from the off, Seth was such an annoyance, and I found Josh to be the most entertaining character of the lot. I think the end also just did it in for me, and I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes. It was just a tad too over the top. Rememberers was ultimately incredibly flawed and I was a little let down when all was said and done. The book came across as very preachy, the writing didn’t always flow (sometimes it did and other times not at all) and the dialogue was not something that interested me, it didn’t come across as natural. The book was also much longer than it needed to be. Also, every time that things start to get interesting, you are ultimately disappointed because Baldwin teases with all these brutal things going down but never delivers. I suppose this book will be much more enjoyed by younger teens and people who haven’t read much, but it wasn’t my cup of tea, sadly.