Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TV Trailers: The Leftovers (2014)

Last night HBO released the full-length trailer for Damon Lindelof's new show The Leftovers. Based on a book by Tom Perotta, it deals with the events that take place after 2% of the world's population disappears. It's an interesting concept and a bit of a shift from what you normally see in movies or tv shows which deal with this sort of rapture premise. My only hope is that they don't go for a 7-10 seasons model, but instead follow a more British model and keep it short at around 2-3. A premise like this can only work for so long before devolving into a generic cop/cult/soap drama, so I hope they manage to end it while they're still ahead. God, that's so critical of me - the show hasn't even aired yet and I'm thinking 10 years into the future? Ha.

An important post to let you know I still exist and stuff

You may have noticed it's been a little quiet around here. I've been so super busy and for whatever reason I decided to juggle like 18 books at once, so I am getting NO WHERE with my reviews. But I miss everyone and writing blog posts so I decided to do a bit of a what I'm doing right now post to make up for a lack of actual review posts going on around here. I'll be properly back soon I swear.

What I'm reading
This is a book blog after all, so books first! I'm currently reading Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi and loooving it. I raced through the first 150+ pages and have slowed down a little now, not because I've lost interest but I just don't have the time. Also, I've been trying to stop doing the whole love-this-book-so-much-keep-reading-oops-finished thing which ends up making me feel miserable that I've read it so quickly and suddenly have no more wonderful book to read. It's a really interesting book, fantastically written and with a brilliant concept so I'm quite excited to break it down in review for everyone.

 I'm also making my way through John Ajvide Lindqvist's Let The Old Dreams Die. I find I need to take short story collections slowly to stop from burning out on them, but this is a really different collection of horror shorts. If you've read anything by Ajvide Lindqvist you can probably guess the overall feel, it's almost a melancholy ache, using monsters and the supernatural as physical stand-ins for emotions. I can totally get the Stephen King comparisons people seems to love to give him, although I don't think he's even close to being as accomplished as S.K is at short stories just yet.

I'm also listening to The Goldfinch which was maybe a huuuuge mistake. It's 32 hours long and I wanted to listen to it to and from work, which only takes up about 2 hours a week. So I'm currently about 13 hours in, and have started to listen to it whenever I can find the time so that I'm not still listening to it in September. I am really liking it though. It's not at all the story I expected, but it's a really warm story and it works amazingly well as a audiobook (as slow as I may be progressing). It has almost a bed-time story feel, even if it isn't actually a fairytale or children's book and David Pittu is an amazing reader, he is so accomplished at all the different voices that if I didn't know better I would think he had an actual woman standing in and voicing Theo's mum.

What I'm Watching
Ugh, so much. Aside from keeping up on the new seasons of my favourite shows (Game of Thrones, Orphan Black etc etc) I've put some real time into catching up with Psych, the Sherlock Holmes show before Sherlock Holmes was cool again. It's actually just finished for good, but there are 7 seasons of delicious, silly and downright strange episodes. Basically (in case you haven't heard of it) Sean is the son of an ex-cop who was trained from a young age to pick up clues (deduce, one might say) so when a messy situation arises, he claims to be a psychic and starts to work for the Santa Barbara as a psychic consultant. What's really great about the show is the relationship between Sean and his Watson, Gus (played by Dule Hill from The West Wing). They're like Turk and J.D 2.0, so even if the cases get a little repetitive, they kept me entertained the whole time.

I also discovered the new series Broad City. Holy shit you guys, this show is AMAZING. It's like Girls on speed. It's produced by Amy Poehler (so you know it's good) and the two leads (who also created and write the show) are fucking brilliant. It's much more light-hearted than Girls but I actually kind feel like its's a better representation of life in your mid-20s. Maybe because it doesn't take itself so seriously? I dunno, but it's amazing and must be watched IMMEDIATELY.

Damn Dean, you just never get it.
I also watched the documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father and OMG I have never cried so much in my life. You should go into this knowing as little about the case as possible* but a basic run down is that Andrew Bagby was murdered, and the woman believed to be responsible soon comes out claiming to be pregnant with his child. So the filmmaker travelled across the country collecting stories and memories from Andrew's friends and family to give to this child, so that they can grow up knowing their father - even if technically they can't. It's this crazy mix of heartbreaking and life-affirming. Andrew was clearly loved by everyone who met and spent time with him, which makes his untimely death all the more unsettling. Anyway, it's on Netflix so if you're in the mood for tears then check it out.

What I'm Doing
Outside of uni? Not much. I went wedding dress shopping with a friend last week and it was so much more stressful than I expected. A lot of the stores would give you these little tags and tell you to put them on the dresses you like, but after a couple of minutes every dress looks exactly the same - puffy, white, sparkly. My poor friend struggled to explain what she wanted to the assistants (lace top, not too formal/wedding-y, light basically) and she ended up trying on so many duds before finally finding the perfect store with the perfect selection. I am less excited about the whole wedding process now that I've seen it first hand. God it must be exhausting (you still hanging in there Alley?!)

Oh, I wear glasses now!

While I was in Japan I got word that my sister had her eyes tested and needed glasses which meant that my two sisters and one brother have all been prescribed glasses in the past year, so when I got back I went and got my eyes tested. It's so annoying, I was always told my vision was perfect yadayadayada and then all of a sudden, BLAM, glasses. I don't need to wear them all the time, but it doesn't hurt to (apparently) - so I'm slowly getting used to having frames on my face 24/7. I'm still not entirely out of that "whoops still wearing sunglasses, oh wait no they're glasses" phase, and I'm still not used to seeing my reflection wearing glasses. Also, is glasses shopping the worst or what? It is firmly up there with jeans and swimsuits as far as I'm concerned.

Hmmmmm. I'm redecorating my house? When I moved out of home I moved into a furnished house (worst move, SO not worth it) and then when I moved out of there my dad offered me all of his furniture which was in storage down in Sydney. So for the last 5 years I've mostly been using his furniture but replacing it ever-so-slowly each year. Now I just need to buy a couple of final big items (new couch and armchair) and I'm pretty much set up in a house that represents me and Tom, instead of the parental hand-me-downs. Which is nice, plus it means the house will be better for entertaining and having people over for movie nights, which our previous couch-situation did not accommodate. If anyone has any tips for online homeware stores, please share!

Okay so I'm going to stop prattling so that I can go and finish my final Japan post and hopefully finish up a book today and maybe get a review written (WHAT! I know right?) How has everyone been lately? I missssss chatting to everyone on twitter and commenting on blogs and stuff, WHAT IS HAPPENING IN YOUR LIVES RIGHT NOW, I MUST KNOW!

*I feel a little icky writing that, since this is real life not a movie. But the way the doco is shot, events unfold as the movie is being filmed, means that it actually is better to watch it this way. You learn things with the people, you feel the shock when they feel the shock etc. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Movie Trailers: Gone Girl (2014) & If I Stay (2014)

Gone Girl, the super-dooper popular book full of twists and turns (and not much else) was always going to be made into a film, but I was pretty surprised when I heard David Fincher was signing on to direct. I thought it was maybe a little too, I dunno, hot-for-now for anyone of real calibre to take on. But now that the first trailer is out (being released hella early considering it's a small film being released in October) and...yay? I don't know, I wasn't a huge fan of the book (here's my review for anyone interested) but I think it could possibly work quite well as a film. At the very least it won't be full of Gillian Flynn's ridiculous flowery writing, soooo bonus! I do love me some Ben Affleck when he's in the right role, so I'll probably see this one in the theatre.

If I Stay seems like your standard Nicholas Sparks/Jodi Piccoult heartstrings tugger but almost every blogger I know has rated it a 4 or 5 star book so I'm thinking maybe the trailer just misses the mark? Or maybe it is exactly what it seems but it's done really well? Help me out guys, does the film look like it'll be as good as the book? Anyway, Chloe Grace Moretz (when did she start adding Grace into her name?) is always a solid actress and I have a soft spot for musicians in movies so I'll probably go see this with my little sister or wait for it to hit netflix and hold out until I'm in the mood for a good cry.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Graphic Novel Mini-Review #19

Hawkeye: My Life As a Weapon (Volume 1)

Written by: Matt Fraction; Illustrated by: David Aja, Javier Paludo, Alan Davis

Published: 2013

My Thoughts: Okay, confession time. I'm one of those assholes that scoffs at the Avengers and pokes fun at Hawkeye and Black Wids. But it's mostly a fun ribbing, since it's SO easy to do. Matt Fraction was at Brisbane's Writers Festival last September and he was so interesting that I decided I'd put aside my teasing and get to know Hawkeye a little better. I love this series. Hawkeye, a.k.a Clint, is not really your typical Avenger. He's basically Archer, which is awesome. It's funny and action packed and A LOT silly. I'm less interested in Kate - the Young Avenger incarnation of Hawkeye - but that's mostly because I don't really enjoy the Young Avengers (and the additional crossover issue of Young Avengers/Hawkeye really proved that). If you're looking for a new series to follow and you're a fan of sharp, sarcastic and brilliantly writing and illustrations, then Hawkeye is the one for you.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Legacy (Volume 1)

Written by: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning; Illustrated by: Paul Pelletier

Published: 2008

My Thoughts: I don't know about everyone else, but my most anticipated blockbuster for 2014 is most definitely Guardians of the Galaxy. James Gunn, Chris Pratt, Blue Swede 'Hooked on a Feeling'? Yes, yes 1000x yes. So before the movie comes out I thought I'd check out some of the comics because even though I know a lot about the misfit gang, I haven't actually read many of their escapades. Legacy is recommended as the modern-era place to start because it introduces you to the characters and their formation into the world-saving-but-still-completely-inept team that you can't help but adore. And while all superhero comics have a level of WTF to them, GotG really ramps that up to 11. Their security chief is a soviet dog that was blasted into space and can communicate telepathically, their base is located in a severed celestial head floating around outside of space and time and for superheroes there are an awful lot of murderers amid their numbers. It's fun and tongue-in-cheek, but the action still packs a wallop and will explode your mind-grapes. Definitely one to check out before going to the cinema.

Fatale: Death Chases me (Volume 1)

Written by: Ed Brubaker; Illustrated by: Sean Phillips

Published: 2012

My Thoughts: And now for something completely different. Brubaker is perhaps best known for his work for Daredevil and Captain America (in the fact the current Cap A film is based on his graphic novel) and while his quality of work has always been high, this is something else all together. Set between the 1930s, 1950s and now Fatale is a modern noir tale, except without technically being a noir story. There is no gruff detective but there is a mystery, and that mystery surrounds the beautiful Jo, Fatale's fatale, capable of ensnaring men and wholly incapable of aging. There's an element of fantasy to the story and a huge heap of horror, but the balance between them has been perfected so carefully that it seems absolutely natural that Lovecraftian horror should co-exist alongside James Cainesque noir and it's almost shocking to think it hasn't been done more often. The way the story progresses makes me think this will eventually tip more towards Lovecraft than Cain in influence, but for now even people wary of horror-lite should find themselves utterly entangled in the gorgeous writing and even gorgeouser* art.

*totally a word, just trust me.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kayleigh's Ranty Soapbox of Rants: The Internet and Absolutes

So I've been wanting to get some stuff off my chest and I finally decided to sit down and write a post about it. Like most of the times I do something like this, it'll probably be garbled and steam-of-consciousy but hopefully my tangled thoughts will at least approach the realm of sense making.

At any point there are usually hundreds of annoyances and niggles floating around my head. Like why does The Invention of Lying equate telling the truth with being an asshole? If you can only speak the truth why does that mean you'd walk up to a stranger in the street and tell them their ass looks huge in those pants. That movie was really dumb you guys. But while some are mini and insignificant like that, some are larger and end up becoming this great huge bezoar blocking me from moving past and concentrating on more important, and usually more rational, issues.

Right now the issue clouding my vision is the internets. Oh how I love it and I hate it. One of the best things about the internet is meeting people who get fired up by similar things. I have a lot of dude friends and while I'd say they're all feminists and would happily call themselves that, they're hardly the type to rant with me for hours about rape culture. They're much more likely to nod their heads and dart their eyes worryingly when I start to get caught up in one of my anger-spirals (I feel for them, truly, I can go for hours). So it's nice to come to the internet, especially if I've just witnessed/heard about something particularly demoralising, and see that I'm not alone, there are literally millions of people only a click away thinking just the way I do, getting angry like I do and abusing GIFS the way I tend to.

Of course, there's always the flip side of this. I'm not talking trolls or hatemongers (although those guys make me want to cry) but people who refuse to see anything except in absolutes. The thing that really frustrates me about sites like Tumblr or Jezebel (and stop me from getting more involved with either site) is that people are SO quick to pile on or judge or demand apologies over complete non-issues or misplaced rage. One of the best examples of this is the Heath Ledger/Joker tumblr thread that happened a few years ago.

Granted, I don't know if this one actually happened or was a joke about how quick people on the internet are to make snap judgments but it shows the point I'm trying to make. If you've ever made a rape joke you're pro-rapist. If you ever criticise another country's policies you're pro-Hitler. If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun when discussing a trans person you're a huge pile of shit. There are no allowances for human error or for a slip of a tongue, you are written off immediately and no attempts to apologise or explain yourself will suffice.

 JLaw has landed in hot water a few times over things she's said, and while some of them can be taken badly, I'd personally chalk most of them up to being young and really not understanding how offensive it is. I 100% believe that JLaw has probably read over articles calling her transphobic and realised that her quippy joke about her cat wasn't the wisest thing to think or say out loud. I know it's easy to look at people younger than you and say "you should have known better" but seriously, how many people haven't said some shitty dumb things in their lives but are lucky not to have a microphone in their face when they say it? This isn't to say people don't have a right to feel offended, they absolutely do, but maybe we shouldn't be so quick to cast stones for a few off-the-cuff remarks made at 20.

Then there are things like Jenny Trout's (or Jennifer Armintrout or Abigail Barnette) article "Jennifer Lawrence Body-Shames You More Than You Might Realise" WHICH ACTUALLY BODY-SHAMES JLAW WHEN TRYING TO SAY SHE BODY-SHAMES US. It isn't JLaw's fault that the public doesn't react to her and Melissa McCarthy's comments about weight equally. Just because there are larger actresses out there doesn't mean that JLaw doesn't come under fire from her management, producers or tabloid magazines about being too big for film. Just because she is skinny by IRL standards doesn't negate the fact that Hollywood is fucking appalling. In fact, it makes it worse. Look, I love Melissa McCarthy but it's not like you can deny that she's larger in size. I couldn't care less if she lost weight or put more on as long as she's happy and healthy, but of course she's been skewered by producers and tabloids, she doesn't fit their idealistic beauty standards by a mile. But JLaw is tiny and young and gorgeous, she should be their ideal for beauty. The fact that anyone in the industry thinks otherwise is exactly why that industry is so broken. The fact that they're telling a young girl who can't possibly weigh more than 55kg to lose weight is so disgusting it makes me want to vomit. Neither woman should feel pressured to lose weight to get work and neither woman should be abused if they say they just came from eating a burger at Maccas. But just because people would throw mud at MM for saying the same thing doesn't mean JLaw should have to censor herself.
"What are you gonna do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That's just dumb."
How is that statement body-shaming larger women? Are thin women not allowed to state the obvious and say that diets are dumb as hell just because there are bigger women out there? Are you not allowed to say you enjoy a burger AND mention that you hate spending time in the gym but have to for work? How can Jenny Trout not see that her argument has nothing to do with JLaw and everything to do with society and the Hollywood system? I don't know if this is simply the backlash we all knew was coming for JLaw, misguided internet social justice or misaligned anger based on JLaw's transphobic remarks I mentioned earlier, but it is so stupid I want to tear my hair out.

But in my mind one of the biggest internet absolutes has to be surrounding MRAs (men's rights activists). This is actually tricky ground because 95% of MRAs are absolute assholes who are pissed that a woman might ever have the same rights as them. They're the kind of privileged rich white man who would also march down New York streets with signs saying "diversity = white genocide". Ugh.

But there are 5% of people there with legitimate causes that get grouped into that bundle of assholes just for being a man. Grab the pitchforks ladies, how dare he think he has anything to complain about! But he does. Take male rape. It's a very real issue but either people don't believe it exists (because apparently being aroused biologically - which they cannot help - negates a firm NO) or mock/ridicule men who do come forward as victims. The latest campaign by NO MORE with Mariska Hargitay is actually brilliant because it targets male AND female rape myths and tries to re-educate the public about both of these issues. Or how about the fact that a large chunk of MRAs (of that 5% obvs) are actually focused on equalising rights when it comes to their children. Whether it's paternity leave or shared parenting rights* - these aren't outrageous issues to bring up and aren't actually specifically male issues.

I saw a post on Tumblr** the other day which said that patriarchy is damaging to everyone, not just women. Because of the patriarchal values that still reign supreme there are unreal expectations placed on both women AND men.

Thanks go to Tika for reblogging this

In the case of the legitimate MRAs, they are essentially fighting for the same thing as feminists. They want to be treated equally in all areas of life, which requires removing the patriarchal chains that bind us all. But because of the bigots who hide behind the MRA moniker people on Tumblr and Jezebel hurl insults at anyone who dares bring up a male-centric issue or utter the words men's rights. Yes it's largely a defense mechanism against the horrible people that usually use those words, but it's so fucked up that people just disregard legitimate issues because there are assholes out there. Not everyone who is pushing for men's rights is a white rich cis-gendered bigot.

We all turn to the internet to be our perfect escape from the horrors of the world, so when someone threatens to destroy that I think we all get a little defensive. It's understandable, I've been there, I've made those snap judgments. But it's getting to a point where everyone has to tread so carefully because if they make a wrong step they'll be hated by the internet for the rest of human existence. Damn straight we should call people out when they say something stupid or bigoted or incorrect, but maybe let's not jump to calling a commentator a slut-shamer because they're worried about the direction Miley is headed down or transphobic because they slipped up and called someone a he instead of a she. We're all human and we all have opinions and we all make mistakes. So how about we share out some of that special empathy we all have for minority and subjugated groups and treat everyone like human beings and give them the chance to explain themselves or explain to them why they're wrong. Can't we for one second step off the gas and just calm the F down?

So that's where I'm at right now. I guess I'm basically saying don't be a dick and don't assume the worst of everyone. And maybe give people, obviously trolls not included, the benefit of the doubt. It's not so hard is it?

*two areas*** which are majorly skewed in the favour of women, primarily because of patriarchal ideals that women = caregiver and men = breadwinner.

**In one of the rare instance where I came across rationality on Tumblr

***and two areas which are still grossly inadequate when it comes to everyone involved. Everyone gets a raw deal, and both need to be seriously re-evaluated at the most basic level (also yes, I did note a note)

Holiday Photo Diary: Sapporo, Yubari and Otaru (week 2)

Ooops, guys I completely forgot about my holiday posts! Mucho apologies, I promise I'll do much better with getting the next (and final) post out.

So this second week was pretty work intensive. I headed up to Hokkaido, Japan's north island to attend the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival and interview some film makers. But I did a pretty decent job taking in the surrounding towns as well. It was an amazing experience set against an absolutely stunning background. Sapporo is quite a large city but the rest of Hokkaido is so sparsely populated the mountains and forests and waterways really shine. It was a welcome change after the brightly-lit insanity of Tokyo. Be warned though, Hokkaido is  a lot less English-friendly than Tokyo, so if you're heading up this way (especially away from Sapporo or the more touristy ski resorts) make sure you read up on some Japanese or at the very least have a comprehensive phrasebook with you. Nothing worse than finding yourself stuck in a teensy town with no idea when and if another train is coming by!

The Sapporo Clock Tower

They do love their Eiffel tower replicas in Japan, Sapporo

Tanukikoji Shopping street, Sapporo

Obelisk details in Odori Park, Sapporo
Snowman, Otaru

Bet the kids are eagerly awaiting Spring! Otaru

Suitengu Shrine, Otaru

fortunes on a tree at Suitengu Shrine, Otaru

Poor old man is going to be shovelling for awhile, Otaru

Yubari IFFF signs

The town is absolutely covered in billboards for American, English and Japanese films, Yubari

Bright red bridge, Yubari

small cemetery in Yubari

Excellent ski slopes surrounding the film festival, Yubari

Views around Yubari

The trees reflecting the setting sun, Shin-Yubari train station

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Movie Trailer: The Giver

The Giver is one of those books that I always notice people give 5 stars to and list among their favourite books, but until I saw this trailer I don't think I'd ever questioned what it was even about. Since I haven't read the book I don't really know what to expect from the film, does it look like a decent adaptation? Does it look good? I dunno, it kinda looks like every other grey-toned dystopian YA making headlines at the moment. What I do know however, is that I know the lead actor. Or rather, he grew up down the street from me and I know his name is Brenton and that's about it. BUT YOU GUYS, HOW INSANE IS THAT! I think that technically makes me famous by association right? Tom Hiddleston has no excuse to ignore my emails any longer!

The Giver hits cinemas in America in August. I'm guessing it'll have a similar international release. Maybe.

Graphic Novel mini-reviews #18

Fables: Wolves (Volume #8)

Written by: Bill Willingham; Illustrated by: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Shawn McManus, Andrew Pepoy

Published: 2006

My Thoughts: There was a lot to like about this volume but it also had a few issues I just can't quite get past. After being exiled from Fabletown Bigby went on the run and since then Mowgli has been trying to find him with little luck. Mowgli finally finds Bigby and convinces him to come back to perform a secret agent style mission back in the Homelands in exhange for being able to reunite with Snow and their children. But when Mowgli finds Bigby he's shacked up with another woman. Why? Is this going to play into it somehow, will she be coming back? We know that Snow has been waiting for Bigby's return, so is this just to show us that he's a pretty shitty dude or is it about something else? He's supposedly loved Snow since they first met and he's always been a bit of a loner so why did he need companionship? I just don't understand what this serves and it felt kind of hacky. As for the actual mission he goes on - that I liked. It's pushing the story into an interesting direction and I think there'll be some action-heavy volumes coming up. I also really liked Cinderella's story arc in here, secret agent/assassin  is a much better career than Stepmother's cleaner or Prince Charming's wife. She actually reminds me a bit of Buffy minus the vampires which could never be a bad thing right?

The Strain (Volume 1)

Written by: David Lapham; Illustrated by: Mike Huddleston

Published: 2012

My Thoughts: While I wasn't wowed by the book, there were elements I really loved. The vampires for one. The medical investigation for another. The graphic novel streamlines the book; it cuts out some of the unnecessary waste, reshuffles the plot order, places some reveals earlier (where it holds much more weight) and visually depicts the nightmarish vampires Del Toro created. The art style is dark and frenetic, perfectly representing the chaos and panic of the narrative. The vampires are horrific, gory and terrifying. Eph and Nora are much better with less time spent on unnecessary characterisation, and Setrakians flashbacks work beautifully in this medium. It's a much tighter and successful story, and I think I might stick to the graphic novel from now on.

Batman - Streets of Gotham: The House of Hush (Volume 3)

Written by: Paul Dini; Illustrated by: Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs

Published: 2011

My Thoughts: I haven't read the previous two volumes but I decided to pick this one up when I was at the library and realised how long it'd been since I'd read some Batman. I don't know how this went in concluding the story set up in the previous two volumes, but I thought it was interesting - and easy to get on top of considering I was coming in for the final act. There's a side-along story about a small time crook named The Carpenter who builds traps and hide-outs for Gotham's villains that was fun but went way too far in the pun department. The main story was typical for a Batman comic, vengeance, mistaken identities, double and triple crossing. I like the illustration style but did find that the tall, handsome, dark haired dudes got pretty hard to tell apart by the end. A problem exacerbated by the fact that there are two Bruce Waynes featured in this story. Not bad though, might go back and read the first two.


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