Monday, 19 November 2012

Books/Films in October


Their Eyes Were Watching God- Zora Neale Hurston

Yeah, so this is a really good book- I picked it out because of the title, but it wasn't what I thought it was (something Armageddon related right?) it's a story of an African-American woman finding herself outside the roles set out for her in society- by white people, by men, by her own family. Things don't exactly end well for Janie, but she's one of the most inspiring and interesting protagonists I've read for a while.

The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

I'm not actually a communist or anything, but you should seriously read this before you go attacking/celebrating communist ideas, it's nice to know what you're talking about, really. That being said, it kinda didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but it was still interesting. And easy to read. 

Chamber Music- James Joyce

This is Joyce's main collection of poetry (?), and he was mainly known as poet up until the publication of Ulysses, so it's pretty good. I have no idea how to review poetry- some poems I really liked, others I didn't. Argh halp. Peoms hard 2 reveiw.

The Snow Geese- William Fiennes 

Would it annoy you if I told you this guy once said he liked my writing? Well tough, it's true. He's, like, related to voldemort and everything! This is the story of how, recovering from a long illness, he decided to go on a madcap journey from Texas to the Arctic, following the migration route of the snow geese. This isn't really about geese, and Fiennes doesn't seem to find out anything new about himself- which is probably how it actually happened, but still, we want epiphanies, man! He does meet some really interesting characters on the way, like a Texan building a house in front of a pylon because it's cheaper, and an Albertan hobo (an actual train-hopping hobo, I'm not being rude).

Zoology- Ben Dolnick

Don't get me wrong, it was fun to read, and there are good characters in there, but this entire book is just first world problems. "I love her. She's taken. I will go and cry to my goat! My Dad's ill. I will go and cry to my goat!"Seriously, Newman (the goat) is my favourite character by the end of it.

Bonjour Tristesse- Franciose Sagan

You know how it is, you don't get into uni, so you write a million-copy bestseller instead. Ok then, Sagan. Aside from the fact I'm crazy-jealous Sagan actually pulled that off, this is a seriously good book. Like a French Great Gatsby, where you don't hate all the characters. And there are some awesome lines in there; like get-the-highlighter-out-that's-good kinda lines. 


The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I really, really liked this movie. I can't tell if it was the Sonic Youth in the soundtrack, or the fact Erza "corrupter of Souls" Miller was the one playing it that I liked most... But yeah, this is great, and it does the book justice. One thing, it's the kind of film that you'll probably only like if you're a teenager now, or if you were a teenager in the late 80's- early 90's (when the film is set)- it's one of those. Also Emma Watson can't act, but we knew that.

Full Metal Jacket

Brilliant. I had a half hour argument about whether or not it's better than Platoon (hint: it is). The film is spilt into two parts: Training to die and actually dying. I love that spilt. And sure, Matthew Modine was in the worst film of all time or something, but he can actually act. Honest. 

The Graduate

The first 45 minutes are hilarious. Actually hilarious. But then it kind of just decays into too much of Dustin Hoffman being a dick, and not enough of Mrs Robinson being a boss. Also the end is pretty iconic- you should watch that bit, just miss out the bit in the middle. The only other thing that really annoyed me is the casting- Hoffman was 30 playing a 21 year old (altought I can't actually picture anyone else doing the role justice) and Mrs Robinson is actually only 5 years older than him. That's just rude. 

Sleepy Hollow

Watch it for the lols. And for the fact that Christina Ricci looks reaaaaally freaky here. Even more than in the addams family. No joke. It's Tim Burton man, you know what you're gonna get...

Broken Embraces

Aka the one where Penelope Cruz is hot and makes gazpatcho. It's really good, a noir film done with typical Almodovar colour and colourful characters. And it opens with a sex scene (por supuesto). Watch it. Except watch All About my Mother first, m'kay?


This was pretty good, although maybe not worth the immense effort I put in to go and see it. Two things: Plotholes and the fact I find Emily Blunt really annoying. That's what let it down- but it's a good idea and well acted. Also freaky small children are best- they acknowledge that everyone secretly hates small children and I shouldn't be shot down everytime and say I don't like them. 


This is a kinda typical underdog boxing story that would not have been saved from cliche if it wasn't for great performances from Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte. It's decent, and it's got a song by the National on it's soundtrack (plus points for you!) but it's nothing game changing to be honest.

Taken 2

Watched a bootleg copy of this on a Chinese coach, and the mangled english subtitles were the best thing about it. JIIIIIIIIIIMMY!

The Last Emperor

I thought this was very interesting, although the ending was a bit of a cop-out "I-have-no-idea-how-to-end-this-its-already-three-hours-long-help-me". It was informative, but the only really entertaining parts involve Peter O'Toole's aristocratic tutor.

So concludes the epic what I read and watched this month thing. Review. Whatever.  



Friday, 9 November 2012

Making a Family out of Strangers

So I went to a concert yesterday. Twin Atlantic, who were a lot better than I thought they'd be, even if I had to stand through Charlie Simpson (that bloke from McFly. Or Busted. It was a joke last night but now I actually can't remember which one he's from). These aren't just thoughts on this gig, but every gig I've ever been to.

I passed a church saying "Jesus makes a family out of strangers". I don't believe that: Jesus is not a shared experience.

The bass in your ribcage, the numbness in your ears. The random jokes, conversations, embraces, with people you will never see again. The euphoria, the arm waving, everyone in sync. The expanding circle of the pit, the almost sickening jump into it, with elbows out.

That is a shared experience. That is a family out of strangers.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Thoughts on China (only the first day...)

So, I was in China for nine days, Beijing and Shanghai, essentially the two capitals of China (Beijing officially, while Shanghai is the capital of China's economy and culture), with my college. The fact it was with my college is extremely important, as it made the whole thing a hell of a lot more touristy than I would have liked. I only actually wrote anything down for the first day, I was too busy the rest of the time. I don't regret not writing- not yet, anyway, maybe when I'm older and this doesn't feel fresh in my mind, I'll regret not having a record, but until then, it's all good.

On the plane: (please note it was my first long haul flight and I wrote this after about 24 hours of not sleeping)
 I'm on a plane, a metal bird going at 900 mph, making a journey that would have lasted years into less than half a day, and I'm expected to sleep while the enormity of people's lives carries on below us.

The smog is ridiculous, the airport is huge and empty, everyone's speaking too loud, and the tour guide won't stop smiling and talking. It's amazing.

The Temple of Heaven:  
All the old people at the outside gym are hilarious. They also remind me that China will get old before it gets rich, and how Chinese culture admires the elderly, whereas here, they're seen and not heard, and appearing old something to be cheated for as long as possible. The temple itself makes me feel how religious buildings always make me feel: Like a trespasser. I'm not religious, and I can't bring myself to be religious, I feel a bit like I'm destroying a place's sacredness just by being there. That being said, this is the most impressive religious place I've ever been- everything here just seems to be on a bigger scale.

Exploring Beijing:
Everybody apart my little group of mates just seems to have stayed in the hotel- I just don't get why. The power was out on the main road we walked down- a guy waved us into is restaurant in spite of the lack of power. After a weird (butter covered fruit?) meal, we went up onto a footbridge over the main road. It hit me then, that we were somewhere completely different from anywhere else we (or at least I'd) ever been. And I couldn't stop grinning about it. Or maybe it was jetlag.