John Wick: Chapter 2

122 min.

Can you get any more violent? When you’re talking to John Wick versus John Wick: Chapter 2, the answer is yes. Maybe the question should be: can it be more bloody? Also, yes. When the first five full-on-screen exploding skulls and body parts might make one flinch, there’s so many of them it’s tempting to just go ‘Ah, you again’ after a while.
john-wick-chapter-2

Viewers were promised more of the world building regarding the criminal world (and hotels) through which John moves. The promise was full-filled, although scantily. This time we learn that this world is international, spending one third of the film in Rome (and under it). Again it’s beautiful surroundings, beautiful people and some worrying rules these people live by.

But mostly it’s violence. With weapons, without. On the roof, under ground (and in the underground), anywhere. But don’t worry about the dog this time, Wick does it utterly, completely by himself.

John Wick: Chapter 2, Thunder Road Productions 2017

Miss Sloane

122 min.

Oh yes, yes please. Miss Sloane bulldozes over the idea of how only men can be cutthroat (in politics). Meet Liz, a lobbyist that eats people and causes for breakfast. While being impeccably dressed.

miss-sloane-posterHer lethal skills are moved to an ‘underdog’ when the head honchos of the gun lobby insult her, making her leave for a smaller bureau. Not completely smooth, because the world of lobbyists is full of egos, including her.
What happens next? As another visitor called it “Oh my God, it was only talking”. Miss Sloane talks. To voters, to politicians, on talk shows. She concocts (outrageous) plans, balancing on an ever thinning rope. It’s a thriller without any blood or guts.
That’s something you have to be interested in, be able to watch without losing focus, because Miss Sloane and her colleagues move fast. Keep up, and you might leave pumping your fist.
Miss Sloane, Canal+ Distribution 2016

The Name of the Rose

On August 16, 1968, I was handed a book written by a certain Abbé Vallet, Le Manuscrit de Dom Adson de Melk, traduit en français d’après I’édition de Dom J. Mabillon(Aux Presses de l’Abbaye de la Source, Paris, 1842).

I gave Umberto Eco a second chance; now I know that he isn’t my kind of author. This was like my Art History class all over again. Except with a few murderous monks added.

With some authors, you don’t want to know other people’s opinions. With some, you need their support. I heard ‘Give him time’, ‘have patience’ and a lot of variations on that. Also that you need to appreciate an eye for detail, but there’s only so many details I can appreciate. It’s dense, I lost the story before it started, thinking back I can only remember frustrations. Besides a mild sense of interest towards the library of the monastery, some of those books sounded very cool.

I’m sure there’s plenty of other history-themed books out there I can enjoy.

The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco, Vintage Classics Random House 2004

A Wrinkle in Time

It was a dark and stormy night.

This was a cooler experience than expected. I expected a children’s book from another age, not a mix of Abarat, Narnia and love of science. There’s discussions of religion, space travel and personal development.

And it all starts with a missing father and strange creatures asking Meg, her weird brother, and a popular boy for help. All three of them are essential – for different reasons – in the fight against the scary dark. It’s all very visual and vibrant, and I’m quite curious about how and how much it will be shown in the movie that’s made based on it.

It’s a children’s book like one of those that are mentioned in fiction, and reading it as an ebook somehow felt like I was missing part of the experience. Yes, there are some questions raised, but they are the kind you accept as unanswered because they don’t sabotage the story and/or we know an answer might follow (there’s a lot more books in the series).

I read this for a Book club, and I didn’t even feel like it was a waste of time. Which sounds like little, but means that I feel like it added to my Books Read, instead of subtracted.

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, Farrar Straus Giroux 1962

Uprooted

Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley
I read stories by Naomi Novak before, and definitely loved her way of world building and kind of clean (fantasy sometimes can be quite fussy) tone of voice and writing. Uprooted was mentioned a lot in the past year, so I added it to my list and – when noticed that it was a hefty 600 pages – got even more excited. This author offered good fantasy stories, let’s do this!

Uprooted is a clunky, dull, stuffed C-History story that can’t even be brightened up by cool elements. The characters one sympathizes with are the horses.The victim that is around to give the main character a more human, caring side, is a more interesting character, but is only used for a sympathy vote. There is a romance that isn’t really a romance, and is there anything the protagonist enjoys? Is there something more she does than just being?

I don’t know if Novak wanted to make a Serious, Epic fantasy novel, but she ended up with a brick with some fantasy elements. A few, that is.

Uprooted, Naomi Novak, Random House 2015

The Wizard Returns

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses, the Wizard thought as the rolling green fields of Oz dropped away from his balloon.

I think I will add a new category: snack reads. Will you learn something from it, walk away a changed person, gain new insights, be blown off your feet? Nah, but it’s fun/entertaining/delicious.

The Wizard Returns is a prequel to the Dorothy Must Die series (another twist on the going ons of the Oz world and its inhabitants) and a novella, so not too large either. It is as it says on the tin, Dorothy and other familiar characters are mostly mentioned in passing, this is for the Wizard.

Paige uses this as an excuse to give/show more history to/of Oz and the Wizard, and to just go – once more – completely all out on technicolour descriptions on this strange but sort of familiar world. The Wizard is a brat, the monkeys fly, the reader is entertained for a hop and a skip.

The Wizard Returns (A Dorothy Must Die prequel novella), Danielle Paige, HarperCollins 2015

Rogue One

133 min.

Definitely more fun when you watch it without knowing too much of the Star Wars universe and stories. And don’t act like it’s an international embarrassment if you aren’t rogue-one-posterwell-versed in its material.

Anyway, there’s another female brunette who needs to fight the baddies. She doesn’t want to at first, but Things Change and she realises that the Rebellion needs to succeed. After a dark (literally and figuratively) first half, it’s for the viewer clear as well.

In my mind Star Wars movies have always been different shades of sand colours, so the beautiful shots of the beachy planet definitely left me pleasantly surprised. So did the tempo, never giving you the feeling that there’s filler or that you’re stuck in your chair for another [x amount] of minutes. And yes, it is watchable with nary a clue about its background.

Think Indiana Jones in space, think explosions, narrow escapes and aliens and you have an entertaining two hours at the ready.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Lucasfilm 2016