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Doctor Sleep (2019)
Doctor Sleep (2019)
2019 | Horror
A return to Room 237
***MINOR SPOILERS ONLY***

After the events which ruined his childhood at the Overlook Hotel, Dan Torrance has not had a profound life. He does drugs and has become addicted to alcohol. He decides to move to a small town where he tries to get his act together. He is still haunted by those events so long ago even seeing the ghost of long deceased Overlook cook Dick Hallorann who also possessed the ability to "shine". Dan always knew or assumed other in the world had the ability as well; however, had tried to lead a normal existence.

Meanwhile, a cult of soul swallowing degenerates emerges and preys on those who have the ability. Some not knowing their minor gifts are easy prey, but those who have remarkable abilities present more of a challenge. One of these such wunderkinds is 13 year old Abra Stone. Like Danny, she has had abilities all her life, her parents chose to ignore them, but now events are intensifying so profound she cannot ignore them. The cult leader, Rose The Hat, seeks out more victims for her flock to feed upon having an eventual confrontation with Abra.

***I don't want to say more so I don't ruin for anyone.***

I have decided when writing a review of a sequel of any kind, I will never refer to it as "unnecessary". I have read many recent critiques of movies like Zombieland: Double Tap or Maleficent: Mistress of Evil when this word is used and I don't agree with that as a criticism. People are only using that word if the sequel is a disappointment. Someone would never say The Empire Strikes Back or The Dark Knight were unnecessary because they were great films. Even mediocre sequels will get tagged with unnecessary and I guess I feel you should rate the film which was made on its own merits and not try to decide if it was worth making or not.

Much like the way 2010 tried to explain the monolith and the mystery from Kubrick's masterpiece and my favorite film of all time 2001: A Space Odyssey, Doctor Sleep explores and expands the "shining" universe and gives audiences another look into that world. I was reminded when watching for some reason the sequence in Ready Player One where the characters go back to the Overlook and interact with the unique setting and art direction the film possessed. The homages and settings in Doctor Sleep feel both modernized and a fond look back of what everyone loved from The Shining. I could tell writer/director Mike Flanagan loved this universe so intensely, he decided to adapt the Stephen King sequel novel and it is well done.

Most main characters from the original Shining film make an appearance here as well, most with smaller cameo type roles which I don't want to spoil here. The new characters of both Abra Stone and Rose The Hat are great additions and acting by Rebecca Ferguson (who is quickly becoming one of my faves) and young Kyliegh Curran really bring them to life. Other than the obvious Trainspotting, Ewan McGregor usually plays such happy and likable characters that it was interesting to see him in a darker light, especially at the beginning of the film.

The musical score felt much like The Shining at times (the best parts), but also foraged new ground and was truly haunting and beautiful throughout. The cinematography and art direction were beautiful when showing the dark forest and suburban landscapes as well as the recreation of some of the more familiar elements.

Doctor Sleep is the ceiling threshold of how good a sequel to a Kubrick classic iconic perfection piece of movie artwork onscreen. The feeling and fun of seeing new interpretations of classic characters was fine with me as the screenplay does them justice. Comparing it to The Shining is moot since Kubrick was the master and his films should be studied indefinitely by film students worldwide and Doctor Sleep is an admirable compliment to that.

I tried to find an instance where Kubrick made comment about the film 2010, but I could not other than he said he wished the director well with it. I would imagine he would have the same reaction here. I think he would feel his work stands on its own without need for further explanation or additional narrative, but that is not a criticism, just an observation.

  
The Temple House Vanishing
The Temple House Vanishing
8
8.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
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<b><i>Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…</i></b>

The Temple House Vanishing left me with a tiny scar in my soul after reading it. It is intriguing and mysterious, it is real and delusional. The next time when I mention a special mystery, with a cruel end – this will be the first book that pops in my mind.

Louisa and Victoria are two friends that study in a Catholic girls’ boarding school. Both of them have something unique about themselves. They can both see the world in a different light and disobey the rules slightly.

They both also manage to become intrigued with their young, bohemian teacher and act in silly ways when they are around him. Until, one night, he and Louisa suddenly disappear.

Twenty-five years later, one journalist dives into the story again, hoping to finally find out the truth. The search for truth will uncover many buried secrets and a suppressed desire. It will break hearts and lay a lost soul to rest.

This novel might be the most intense novel I have read in 2019, right next to The Silent Patient. And The Devil Aspect. To witness the life of Louisa, and be aware of what is happening around her is quite intense. As soon as she meets Victoria, they click, and they both know they will become best friends. But even Louisa can feel that there is something odd about Victoria. After all, her last best friend left the school and no one knows what happened.

<b><i>On that subject – why didn’t we find out what happened to this girl?</i></b>

One friendship, and a very interestingly weird love triangle. I felt so bad for Louisa, because all she ever cared about was Victoria. And all she ever wanted to do is to help in any way. She loved Victoria, but she should’ve said something. If she spoke – everything would now be different.

The teacher reminded me of one of my high-school teachers. The type of person that will show you that the world isn’t how you’ve always known it. There is a meaning behind it all, and there is a purpose for everything. My teacher, she could make me feel like I was able to achieve everything. Anything was possible, if we only followed the right path. Mr Lavelle made all the girls feel like this, and counting his beautiful face as well, it’s no surprise that most of them fell in love with him. But he encouraged them, in his own subtle way. Sweet look in the eyes, gentle touch on the shoulder, and that is all it takes to confuse a teenage girl.

What I loved most in this book was the fact that I had so many theories whilst reading it. I was certain I knew how it all ended. But I was wrong. I didn’t have a clue on what was actually happening until the very end, and I was still surprised. After finishing the book and having a little think, as I always do with books that amaze me – I realised something. The clues were there from the very beginning. But unless you already know the ending I doubt you will notice them. And that is the great masterpiece of writing. And for that, I salute you, Rachel Donohue.

<b><i>If you love mysteries, thrillers, disappearances and unpredictable endings – I will guarantee you will love this book. And not only that, but you will also devour it in a day!</i></b>

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<b><i>Thank you to the team at LoveReading UK, for letting me part of the Ambassador Book Buzz and sending me an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Check out the other amazing bloggers too! </i></b>

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Dear Edward
Dear Edward
Ann Napolitano | 2020 | Contemporary, Fiction & Poetry
10
9.0 (3 Ratings)
Book Rating
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<b><i>Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano is one of the few books that instantly captures your heart, then shatters it into hundred pieces and teaches you many life lessons at the same time.</i></b>

"A reporter holds up a copy of The New York Times to a camera, to show a huge block headline, the kind normally reserved for presidential elections and moonwalks. It reads: 

191 DIE IN PLANE CRASH; 1 SURVIVOR

The relatives have only one question when the press briefing comes to close; they all lean toward it like a window in a dark room:

"How is the boy?"</i>

Dear Edward features a boy called Edward, who is flying with his family to move across states. This is their chance of a new life, a brand new start. When the plane crashes, he is the only survivor.

The author tells the story through two different timelines; during the flight and after the plane crash. We follow Edward's life and how he is coping with the loss of everything he knew. We also see how he is struggling to cope with the unwanted celebrity title he has now.

I have always been intrigued by planes and plane crashes. I used to watch every single episode of the documentary on Discovery Channel back in the days. And today, I like to listen to the Plane Crash Podcast by Michael Bauer. I have had some bad experiences while flying, and have always wanted to understand what exactly happens when a plane crashes, and what aviation does to prevent this from happening in the future. This book contains amazing details about the crash, and my hidden mystery person inside me was deeply satisfied by all those pilot dialogues and explanations.

Edward's grief and growing up journey is so painful. He survived, but everyone he loved and cared about in his life died. He is lucky to have survived, but why does he then feel guilty? Why did he swap places with his brother on the flight? If they didn't - his brother would still be alive now. The brother relationship was written so perfectly. The love and the bond they shared for each other was so strong.

Despite the fact that Edward is the main character in this story, we also get to meet so many other characters, the people who lost their lives in the crash. Through flashbacks and "during flight" scenes, as well as encounters from their families, we get to see all the wishes that will never come through, all the hopes and dreams buried under the plane ash.

And that is why Edward's journey is so difficult. He doesn't have to only carry to guilt for his own family, but all those other lives as well. Edward receives letters from the families asking him to do all these things that these people would do. He is asked to become a musician, a doctor, a teacher, to travel around the world, learn knitting, etc, and Edward feels obligated to do all of these things, to give peace to the families.

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<b><i>I knew this book would stay with me forever from the moment I started reading the first few pages. It is so harshly real and painful, but what it does it remind us how every day is special and we should be thankful for it! We may not get a tomorrow, but that's why we have today. Let's make the best of it!</i></b>

Thank you to the team at Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Also thank you to the team at LoveReading UK, for allowing me to be their Super Ambassador of this book for the month of November.

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A Haunting In Cawdor (2016)
A Haunting In Cawdor (2016)
2016 | Horror
5
6.0 (2 Ratings)
Movie Rating
The psychological thriller is another genre that seems to have taken a ‘back seat’ to the big budget action films, horror, and comedies in recent years. Or if there were any good psychological thrillers to hit the theater or the internet I either didn’t hear about them or they didn’t really make much of an impact. Personally when I think of that genre the first name to come to mind is Alfred Hitchcook. I’m sure if I sat down and thought about it, I could think of a movie that falls into that category I’ve seen since then but I don’t have that kind of time. What I do have time for is to tell you about a movie that is certainly a step in the right direction.

Uncork’ed Entertainment’s ‘A Haunting In Cawdor’ available March 11th, is written and directed by Phil Wurtzel and revisits this genre of film with an impressive cast in attempt to breathe new life into psychological terror. Vivian Miller (Shelby Young of American Horror Story) is a young troubled woman who is serving out her jail sentence along with a group of convicts with a work release program in a small Midwestern town. Specifically, at the Cawdor Barn Theater. A rundown seasonal summer run by Lawrence O’Neil (Cary Elwes of A Princess Bride and The X-Files) a failed Broadway director who has taken it upon himself to stage amateur productions with young parolees.

It doesn’t take long once the movie starts for the quote ‘madness’ to begin. The moment Vivian sets foot in town, she starts to hallucinate. A local boy Roddy (Michael Welch of The Twilight Saga, Z Nation, Scandal) takes an immediate interest in her but disappears shortly thereafter. Once the group arrives at the theater they are told that along with helping with the theater’s upkeep part of the group’s probation is to put on a stage production of William Shakespeare’s ‘MacBeth’ which has not been performed at the theater in 15 years. While the everyone is preparing to upgrade the theater and rehearse for the play Vivian finds an old VHS cassette with a recording of the theater’s last performance of ‘MacBeth’. As it turns out the young girl that was cast in the lead for that performance Jeanette (Alexandria Deberry), the same role Vivian has been cast in, was found dead not long after and upon viewing the tape unintentionally releases an evil force that has some sort of connection to Lawrence who has begun to act superstitiously. At first Vivian tries to write these instances off as hallucinations brought about by her own personal demons and a lack of medication which her psychiatrist Dr. Lazarus (Peter Floch) readily agrees with. Things take an even more otherworldly turn though when the spirit of the dead girl begins to communicate with Vivian through the tape and the mystery surrounding her death and that of her mysterious admirer Roddy and his connection to Lawrence and the play all converge just days before the play.

This film is definitely the kind of thing you’d want to watch in the dark and preferably on a stormy night as well. You had a great cast composed of veterans and up-and-comers combined with a basic premise. The movie did seem to lack something though. There was very little regarding the interpersonal relationships between the characters in the movie and how they got along with one another. Mostly just a few scenes of the group presumably drinking alcohol which they were not supposed to have to begin with. There was also the fact that you learn Vivian’s crime but not why she did it and they continually poke at the subject in the brief flashbacks. There were also the ending of the film which, after the grand finale, makes no sense whatsoever. There’s no resolution and not in the sense that it was written that way purposely. There were a few directions the movie could’ve explored in that hour and 40 minutes but didn’t which would added more to the film. It could almost be compared to having a bunch of people run every path in a maze except the one path that would lead you out of it.
The one thing that saved the film was the cast and their performances. I can give this film 2 1/2 stars because of that. It’s worth watching once for that aspect alone.
  
In Time (2011)
In Time (2011)
2011 | Mystery, Sci-Fi
6
6.2 (20 Ratings)
Movie Rating
t is said that time is money and in the new film “In Time” this statement takes on an entirely new meaning. In the future we learn that humans have been genetically created to stop aging at the age of 25. Once they reach this selected age, a clock starts to count down from one year. People can obtain more time via work, stealing it from others, or being gifted more time but once their clock hits zero, they expire or “Time Out” as it is called.

As the film opens, we are introduced to Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), a man who is three years past twenty five who lives at home with his mother (Olivia Wilde). Will starts each day with barely enough time on his clock for another day, so he dutifully heads off to work each day to earn more time. As does his mother and everyone he knows since workers are paid at the end of their shifts by having more time added to their accounts. Many need to work daily in order to see the next day. To stop working is to die and since everything from food to rent and clothing is paid for in time from an individual’s account, they often have to make the choice between a transaction or more hours of life.

One evening after work, Will encounters a man named Henry (Matt Bomer), with over 100 years remaining on his clock and cautions the man that in this area he is likely to attract thieves. Will’s warnings go unheeded and soon a group of thugs arrive forcing Will to whisk the man away to safety. During their night in hiding, the man tells Will that after living for over a century, he is tired of the way the system is and how the rich can live forever while the working poor suffer just to live another day.

Will awakens the next morning to find the man gone and that his clock has now been credited the 100 years. Will locates the man just in time to watch him time out with a smile as he watches the sun rise. Flush with new wealth, Will plans to move his mother out of the slums and into a better life but when tragedy strikes, Will decides to move to where the wealth is as to take them for all he can.

Will soon finds himself in a high stakes card game at a casino and in a desperate move finds himself wealthier than he ever imagined. His actions impress very wealthy banking magnet Philippie Weiss (Vincent Kartheiser), who introduces him to his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried). Will and Sylvia hit it off as she is intrigued by someone who came into money rather than being born with it and imagines what life would be like with some excitement.

Will and Sylvia soon have their worlds turned upside down when Will is suspected in the death of Henry and find themselves on the run from a Timekeeper named Raymond (Cillian Murphy), who wants to bring Will to justice. In a rapid series of events, Will and Sylvia must contend with Raymond, criminals, and a series of unsavory characters to regain their lost time before it is to late so they can implement their master plan to truly make a difference.

The film has some great social commentary and a great cast but is hindered by trying to be too many things. It works well as a science fiction film with elements of action and romance. Sadly the film goes off course by having Will and Sylvia act as a modern day Robin Hood duo taking on the powers-that-be to save the downtrodden masses. While it is a noble effort it derailed the momentum of the story as much of the tension and mystery of the story was lost. If one is wanted by thugs and the authorities, I would think that knocking over one high profile time bank after another would not be the way to keep a low profile.

That being said, despite the flaws, the film works and I found myself thinking about the characters and the setting they lived in days after the I screened the film. I had been concerned that the film would be nothing more than a knockoff of “Logan’s Run” but thankfully the film had enough new content to keep it fresh and interesting. In many ways, “In Time” is science fiction at its best as it allows for timely social commentary and provides a disturbing look at many age old debates on society’s endless quests for wealth, power, and youth.
  
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Bob Mann (459 KP) rated Emma (2020) in Movies

Feb 21, 2020  
Emma (2020)
Emma (2020)
2020 | Comedy, Drama, Romance
Anya Taylor-Joy.... mesmerising (2 more)
Gorgeous to look at; stunning locations and costumes
Witty and well-observed debut script
Music is overly intrusive in places (0 more)
Simply Sublime
I loved the look of "Emma" from the trailer. And I was not disappointed. It is a simply sublime piece of comic entertainment.

Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a rich, privileged 21 year-old looking after her elderly and quirky father (Bill Nighy) in the family stately home. She has never loved, despite the persistent presence of 'family friend' George Knightley (Johnny Flynn), but finds it entertaining to engage in matchmaking, particularly in respect to her somewhat lower class friend Harriet Smith (Mia Goth). Emma has high ambitions for Harriet... ideas significantly above what her social station and looks might suggest.

Emma has her sights on a dream.... the mystery man Frank Churchill (Callum Turner), son of wealthy local landowner Mr Weston (Rupert Graves). She has never actually met him, but is obsessed with his myth. #fangirl. As a source of immense annoyance to her, but often a source of valuable information on news of Churchill, is the village 'old maid' Miss Bates (Miranda Hart). "Such fun"!

But Emma's perfect life is about to face sticky times, as her machinations fail to yield the expected results and a stray comment, at a disastrous picnic, threatens to damage both her reputation and her social standing.

If you like your movies full of action and suspense, you are digging in the wrong place. "Emma" is slow... glacially slow... wallowing in beautiful bucolic scenes (with superb cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt); gorgeous costumes by Alexandra Byrne; and hair styling by Marese Langan.

The movie also benefits from a joyfully tight and funny script by debut screenwriter Eleanor Catton (a Man-Booker prize winner). This picks relentlessly at the strata of the class system set up by Jane Austen's novel: "Every body has their level" spits spurned suitor Mr Elton (Josh O'Connor).

I know Anya Taylor-Joy as the spirited Casey from "Split" and "Glass": she was impressive in "Split"; less so for me in the disappointing "Glass". But here, I found her UTTERLY mesmerising. She has such striking features - those eyes! - that she fully inhabits the role of the beautiful heiress who haunts multiple men sequentially. I even muttered the word "Oscar nomination" at the end of the film: though we are too early in the year to seriously go there.

An even bigger surprise was the actor playing George Knightley. Johnny Flynn has been in a number of TV shows I haven't seen, and a few films I haven't seen either (e.g. "Beast"). But I had the nagging feeling I knew him really well. The illustrious Mrs Movie Man clocked him: he's the Cineworld "plaid man"! (For those outside the UK or not patrons of Cineworld cinemas, he was the 'star' of a Cineworld advert that played over and Over AND OVER again for months on end before every film I saw. Arrrgggghhhh!).

Here, Flynn is excellent as the frustrated and brooding Austen-hunk. He even gets away with an ar*e-shot within a U-certificate!

Particularly strong in the supporting cast are Bill Nighy (being delightfully more restrained in his performance); Miranda Hart (being "Miranda", but perfectly cast) and Mia Goth (memorable for that eel-bath in "A Cure for Wellness").

And a big thank-you for a web review in the online Radio Times for naming one of the comical (and bizarrely uncredited) footmen as Angus Imrie - - the truly disturbed stepson of Claire in "Fleabag". It was driving me crazy where I knew him from!

The one criticism I would have is that I found the (perfectly fine and well-fitting) music, by David Schweitzer and Isobel Waller-Bridge (sister of Phoebe) poorly mixed within the soundtrack. There were times when I found it overly intrusive, suddenly ducking under dialogue and then BLASTING out again. Sometimes music should be at the forefront.... but more often it should be barely perceptible.

As you might guess....
...I loved this one. The story is brilliant (obsv!); the film is simply gorgeous to look at; the locations (including the village of Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds and Wilton House - near me - in Salisbury) are magnificent and a blessing for the English Tourist Board.

All the more impressive then that this is the directorial feature of video/short director Autumn de Wilde.

This comes with a "highly recommended" from both myself and the illustrious Mrs Movie-Man.

(For the full graphical review, please check out https://bob-the-movie-man.com/2020/02/20/one-manns-movies-film-review-emma-2020/ .)
  
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel
2021 | Crime, Documentary, Mystery
Scarily glamourises internet sleuthing
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is the latest stylised true crime documentary from Netflix, and it’s a pretty scary watch, but not in the way you’d expect from something that has been advertised as a supernatural murder mystery.

The 4 episode documentary series focuses on a notorious hotel in downtown L.A, Hotel Cecil, and the disappearance of a Canadian student, Elisa Lam, who went missing from the hotel in unexplained circumstances and who was later found dead. On paper this has everything a true crime lover wants: CCTV footage of the victim acting strangely, a creepy hotel with a dodgy history and a lot of strange and unusual circumstances, which culminates in Elisa Lam’s decomposing body being found in a water tank on the hotel roof days after her disappearance, the same water that the hotel guests have been drinking all along. It’s a truly fascinating story and if done properly, would have been very interesting. However in the hands of director Joe Berlinger, the disappearance of Elisa Lam has been turned into a dull, drawn out affair that dangerously glamourises baseless conspiracy theories.

One of the two main problems is that this documentary has been drawn out over 4 hour long episodes, when realistically the true story of Elisa Lam’s disappearance could still have been told effectively in an hour, maybe two maximum, without detracting from the facts. And I guess that’s really the problem with The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, it isn’t necessarily all that concerned about the facts but rather just wants to create a film-like entertaining story, with the facts almost an afterthought crammed into the final parts of the last episode. It features lengthy and pointless interviews from other guests and tourists to try and give us a feel of what life at the Cecil was like, and these are entirely unnecessary, as some short exposition from the hotel manager or officers involved would’ve sufficed. Every part of this case is stretched so thinly that you almost lose track after having to weed out the truth and facts amongst all the irrelevant interviews and chatter. It isn’t helped by the narration of some of Elisa’s Tumblr posts, which comes across as cheesy and irritating rather than emotional and meaningful like it was probably intended.

What is most irrelevant and dangerous about this documentary, and the second main problem, is the focus on internet sleuths. These are mostly YouTubers who have spent hours dissecting every aspect of the case and have put forward many outrageous theories, all of which are completely laughable. But instead of mocking these idiots, this documentary glamourises them and their theories, and has dedicated more of it’s runtime to them than it has to any of the real life detectives and investigators involved. Watching these people wheel out one ridiculous theory after another had me wanting to throw my remote at the screen to make it stop. The theories ranged from the questionably plausible (foul player or murder) to the downright ludicrous - someone copying the film Dark Water, possible links to the Lam-Elisa TB test and a vast cover up jointly orchestrated by the police, hotel management and coroners staff are the ones that made me laugh and cringe the most.

All jokes aside, this focus on internet sleuths is extremely damaging and dangerous and this is illustrated by the awful accusations they made about Pablo Vergara aka Morbid, who’s only crime was to make music that wouldn’t be considered mainstream. If this documentary had focused on slamming these people and highlighting the dangers of them getting involved, then it would’ve redeemed itself. But it doesn’t, it gives them centre stage and debunking their theories is almost an afterthought. They aren’t even condemned for their treatment of Pablo despite the obviously long lasting effects on his mental health. These people are crazy and this only serves to highlight the huge problem with internet, video streaming sites and social media – how Joe public can ever think they know better than qualified pathologists and investigators is beyond me. And how this documentary can indulge and glamourise these people is even worse. From working a day job in the emergency services, I know how damaging this sort of interference and public perception can be.

The story of Elisa Lam’s disappearance at the Hotel Cecil is undoubtedly an interesting one. However in Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, the real story has been mauled and disrespected by the focus and respect given to the internet sleuths and their absurd theories. I feel like I’m being generous giving it a 3, it made me so angry.
  
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Erika (17633 KP) Mar 1, 2021

Agree completely! The fact they were highlighting the crazy conspiracy theorists was scary. They legitimately distracted the police with all of the baseless conjecture.

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Sarah (7794 KP) Mar 2, 2021

So glad it's not just me. How they could focus on these people is bonkers.

Suburbicon (2017)
Suburbicon (2017)
2017 | Crime, Drama, Mystery
Suburbicon is a picturesque community built to free families from all the hustle and bustle of the big city but with all the amenities a community will need. For all intents in purposes Suburbicon is the ideal place to raise a family in the 1950s. That is exactly what the Lodge family is doing. That is until the night Nicky (Noah Jupe) is awoken by his father, Gardner (Matt Damon), and told that there are two men in the house. The two criminals, Sloan and Louis (Glenn Fleshler and Alex Hassell), move the family to the kitchen and tie Nicky, Gardner, Nicky’s mother Rose (Julianne Moore) and Rose’s sister Margaret (also Julianne Moore) to chairs and put them to sleep using chloroform. When Nicky awakens in the hospital his father and aunt are waiting for him but sadly his mother was overdosed with chloroform and died. After the funeral it is decided by Gardner that Aunt Margaret should come stay with them. When officer Hightower (Jack Conley) calls to let them know they have found two possible suspects Gardner rushes to the police station to look at a lineup. Gardner arrives and is surprised to find Margaret and Nicky there. He asks that Nicky be left outside to save him from the trauma. After a line of potential criminals are paraded in front of Gardner and Margaret both agree that the perpetrators are not there. When they turn around they are surprised to see Nicky with a shocked look on his face as he is staring directly at Sloan and Louis. Nicky now knows that something is going on with his mother’s death and he may be trapped in a house with the two people who are responsible. He is not the only one that thinks something is amiss an insurance investigator, Bud Cooper (Oscar Isaac), shows up with questions about the policy. Is the Suburbicon truly the sanctuary that it looks like from the outside or is there something sinister happening behind closed doors?

This dark comedy, thriller, and mystery is directed by George Clooney (The Monuments Men, Leatherheads) and written by Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo, The Big Lebowski). The film has some fun moments and interesting twists. I enjoyed how they made the film authentic to the 1950s era. The scenery and sets all give you the feel of the time period. The performances were are mostly well done. Julianne Moore’s performance was really good in both roles but especially as the out there Margaret. She was at times very innocent and loving and the next moment really scary in a deranged kind of way. The supporting cast was large and all were fun, especially the dry Hightower (Conley) and the lovable Uncle Mitch (Gary Basaraba). Matt Damon is part scary and funny but sometimes over the top.

Where this film lost me was on parts of the story really that felt disjointed from other parts of the film. For instance another story line that is playing out during the film is that the Mayers’ family moves to Suburbicon on the same day that the break in at the Lodge’s. The Mayers are the first African American family to move into the area and they are instantly judged and discriminated against. As the movie continues and more craziness is happing at the Lodge home, which shares a back yard with the Mayers, there is an escalation in the persecution of the Mayers. I totally understand what point the film was attempting to make about how people were up in arms about a single family that just moving the town and ignoring, or rather too busy to even notice, the evil deeds being committed so close. I just believe that two stories never felt like they were truly tied together and in some points even part of the same film. I really believe an opportunity was missed. Also the comedy was at times really good but also times where it felt forced. When Matt Damon is riding a child bike with a blood soaked shirt down suburban streets you would think that would be funny, and it looked funny in the trailer, but it felt forced when put into the context of the scene.

Overall this is a film was good but really left me feeling like I just didn’t get it. It was definitely original and I would encourage people to watch it and come to their own conclusions.
  
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)
Charlaine Harris | 2001 | Fiction & Poetry
8
8.0 (35 Ratings)
Book Rating
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#1 <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3262782990">Dead Until Dark</a> - ★★★★

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<b><i>Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris is the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. We follow the life of Sookie, a waitress in Louisiana, who also has the ability to read people’s minds. </i></b>

When a vampire enters the bar and Sookie can’t read his mind – she is intrigued and wants to know this mysterious man better. But vampires usually mean trouble, and maybe Sookie is not really for all the troubles to start coming her way.

After watching the TV show “True Blood” and finding out that there is a book series, I had to read the books. I am usually a person that reads the books before watching the adaptations. The first book was great and I also loved the TV Show.

<b><i>I liked everyone, apart from Sookie. </i></b>

Possibly because she acts very immature at all times and behaves like a spoilt child, when others tell her no. Maybe it is the lack of fear, empathy and emotion she feels. Or maybe, it is just the fact that she feels entitled because of her special ability, and likes to talk about how people always treat her badly because she is different. I just didn’t like her at all. And given the fact that she is the main character in this series, I am wondering how I like this book. Sookie – if you don’t behave in the next books, we’re going to have some problems!

I loved this book because of the side characters. In Dead Until Dark, we meen many amazing characters that I loved who have their own stories to tell. This was something I really enjoyed, and considering I watched the TV Shows and knew some of these stories, I was actually excited to read the book version of them. It felt like I was meeting them again for the very first time. I was really hoping to meet Tara though, but she is not in the first book… Oh well. Maybe she’ll appear after? Don’t tell me if you know.

Charlaine Harris has an interesting writing style that kept me engaged. I was invested and curious throughout the whole book. I loved the adventures and the plot twists that kept coming up. The ending was meh, but considering the fact that it is a build-up for the second book, I wasn’t too surprised. It definitely gives you something to think about until you read the next book though.

<b><i>Vampire Bill was the character that intrigued me the most.</i></b>

I was so glad that he was not the usual vampire type we are used to, of the likes of Edward Cullen or the Salvatore brothers. Bill seemed more mature, more mysterious and I loved it.

I actually enjoyed the whole vampire world in this book. The rules and the hierarchy model was pleasantly surprising. It is interesting to dive in more in how the vampires respect each other depending on their ranks and age. Even though I do wish that the mythology was more followed through, it was nice to read a book where vampires are living in the society, and are more or less accepted. We could see how people still have their prejudice though, as is the example that the women who tend to hang out with vampires are called “fangbangers”, and they tend to be frowned upon by society.

<b><i>Overall, I believe Dead Until Dark is a great first book, and a promising beginning of the Sookie Stackhouse series. I will definitely be continuing the series!

Highly recommended if you are a fan of vampires, fantasy, romance and a bit of mystery, followed by many different side characters that you will instantly adore.</i></b>

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His and Hers
His and Hers
Alice Feeney | 2020 | Crime
8
8.7 (3 Ratings)
Book Rating
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With His and Hers by Alice Feeney, prepare to jump on a ride where one murder will open up the gates of the past, and expose a lot of people in a very brutal way. 

I am extremely happy and proud I can be part of the blog tour for this book!

<b><i>Synopsis:</i></b>

When a woman is murdered in Blackdown village, Anna Andrews needs to go there to cover the story. However, her hometown brings back a lot of unwanted memories. 

Her ex-husband, DCI Jack Harper is investigating the murder and is very suspicious of Anna's involvement. That is, until he becomes a suspect himself.

<b><i>My Thoughts: </i></b>

I have to admit, at the beginning I though this will be a domestic thriller, and I am not too keen on them. I enjoy them, but I prefer psychological thrillers more. It turned out that His and Hers is not only a psychological thriller, but also a very well written one. I have only read one book from Alice Feeney before,<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2798981407?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1">I Know Who You Are</a>, and I also enjoyed it, so I was expecting to enjoy this one as well. 

<b><i>The chapters are split into three points of view.</i></b>

The first one is Her - Anna's point of view. The second one is Him - Jack's story. The third one is the point of view of the killer, who has their own thoughts and explanations. And the beautiful thing about the third point of view is that we don't know who it might be until the very end of the book. That point of view is so well written, that I kept guessing who it might be, and kept changing my mind. At the end, the answer was so surprising and satisfying in the end. And once I knew who the killer is, I went back and read those pages again, and they had a completely another meaning for me. Kudos to Alice for making this possible, as I know not everyone can manage to do this! 

<b><i>"And I pay attention to the little things, because they are often the biggest clues to who a person really is. People rarely see themselves the way others do; we all carry broken mirrors."

Dementia</i></b>

The book also briefly focuses on Dementia, and we get to experience the moment Anna realises her mother is ill. For me, this had a special meaning, having experience working with people suffering from dementia, and the writing of the symptoms was very accurate. The reaction of Anna was quite accurate as well, in terms of how hard it was to notice, but also how much harder is to actually accept this fact. 

<b><i>"Mum doesn't always remember that I'm thirty-six and live in London. She frequently forgets that I have a job, and that I used to have a husband and a child of my own. She didn't even seem to know that it was my birthday. There was no card this year, or last, but it's not her fault. Time is something my mother has forgotten how to tell. It moves differently for her now, often backwards instead of forwards. Dementia stole time from my mother, and stole my mother from me."</i></b>

If you get to read His and Hers, prepare for many twists, many mysteries, a lot of drama and betrayals. The ending was the most satisfying part for me, but I enjoyed this book all the way through and struggled to put it down. I recommend it to everyone that is in love with mystery thrillers, especially the ones that focus on the psychological aspect. 

<b><i>"Youth fools us into thinking there are infinite paths to choose from in life; maturity tricks us into thinking there is only one."</i></b>

Thank you to the HQ Team, for sending me an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!