5 ideas about a movie: Ghost Stories

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Hello!

I started last week with some American horror, so it’s only right that I start this one with some British horror. This is Ghost Stories!

IMDb summary: Arch sceptic Professor Phillip Goodman embarks upon a terror-filled quest when he stumbles across a long-lost file containing details of three cases of inexplicable ‘hauntings’.

  1. Ghost Stories was written and directed by Andy Nyman (who also played the lead) and Jeremy Dyson. Nyman has worked quite a lot alongside psychological illusionist Derren Brown and that collaboration has influenced a lot of projects, including Ghost Stories, which actually started as a play on West End (co-written by both Nyman and Dyson) and was adapted to film this year.
  2. For the first 70minutes of the movie, I thought that the writing for it was good but not particularly original. The psychic detective character was an interesting one to focus on and his family’s background was also quite fascinating and obviously important. The three cases themselves had some nice themes within (violence, psychosis, family drama) but they seemed quite typical for a horror movie. However, the reveals which occurred in the last 20 minutes completely changed my mind on the wiring: the rapid-fire reveals and explanations made the whole script way more genius than it seemed before. Basically, Ghost Stories had great ‘bigger picture’ writing with some good and some just okay details.
  3. Thematically, Ghost Stories asked whether the supernatural was real and I sort of think that it answered the question by saying that the psychological is the supernatural – inner demons result in outer ones. The second big thematic idea was the statement that things are not what they always seem and that was both true within each individual case and for a whole movie overall, as its story was not what it seemed at first. The finale with the main character being trapt in his own mind was the spookiest idea of the whole film.
  4. The direction of the movie was good too. The documentary-like style opening was cool and I wish that the whole picture continued to be filmed like that. The horror sequences were scary, disturbing and intense but not something one hasn’t seen (especially if you watch a lot of horror movies – I only see a few horror movies per year and I still didn’t found the horror in this one to be particularly original). I feel that the sequences were scarier when the actual supernatural figure wasn’t directly seen: I, personally, fear the unseen way more.
  5. Ghost Stories’ cast consisted of a writer/director Andy Nyman (with whose previous work I was unfamiliar with seeing this movie), Black Mirror’s and The End of a F***ing World’s Alex Lawther (he is amazing at playing characters on the cusp of a mental breakdown, like the ones in the aforementioned TV shows and this film), Martin Freeman (also known as a Tolkien white guy on Black Panther and my main drawn to this film), and Paul Whitehouse (The Death of Stalin). No female characters were present in the film.

In short, Ghost Stories is a spooky ride with some original packaging of familair (but still cool) ideas.

Rate: 3.7/5

Trailer: Ghost Stories

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5 ideas about a movie: The 15:17 to Paris

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Hello!

We had literary adaptation train movies (Girl on the Train, Murder on the Orient Express) and action train movies (The Commuter). Now, it’s time for a train based biographical picture: The 15:17 to Paris!

IMDb summary: n the early evening of August 21, 2015, the world watched in stunned silence as the media reported a thwarted terrorist attack on Thalys train #9364 bound for Paris–an attempt prevented by three courageous young Americans traveling through Europe.

  1. The 15:17 to Paris was written by Dorothy Blyskal (as her first screenplay), based on the book with an incredible unnecessarily long title – ‘The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Soldiers’ by a journalist Jeffrey E. Stern and the three titular American soldiers: Spencer StoneAnthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos. Both the book and the movie recount the real events that happened in the summer of 2015. I can’t really comment on the book as I haven’t read it, but I don’t think that the movie’s writing was successful, mostly because the stopped terrorist attack wasn’t a big enough event to base the whole movie around – it lasted but a moment in real life as well as in the movie. Thus, The 15:17 to Paris focused mostly on the lives of its 3 heroes, and the said lives also didn’t make for a very compelling story.
  2. The countless flashbacks and the whole backstory were fine, at best. The scenes actually improved the closer in the timeline to the actual event on the train they got. Thematically, the movie looked at a lot of very American concepts, like their obsession with guns and radical Christianity and also, their quite terrible public school system. The movie also was also really pushy with its message and laid it on thick. I could have done without that many scenes of the guys saying ‘oh, I feel like my life is pushing me towards something’. We get it, it is pushing you towards that one heroic moment. However, that moment would have seen more heroic if you haven’t told us numerous times that you will be heroic soon.
  3. The 15:17 to Paris was directed by Clint Eastwood, who was obviously expecting to have another Sully on his hands. And while both stories are similar (constructed out of flashbacks and have ordinary people doing extraordinary things), the quality of the final products differs significantly. While I thought that Eastwood did a good enough job with the pacing (the moment on the train was intense) and the editing (the flashbacks did blend seamlessly), I really think he misfired with the casting of the non-professional actors.
  4. The three leads of the film were portrayed by the actual real people: the 3 heroes were played by the actual 3 heroes. It was nice of Eastwood to honor them and their story by allowing them to tell it/act it out themselves. Though, it must have been a bizarre experience for them to play themselves. Also, the idea to cast real people to play themselves must have sounded like an amazing marketing opportunity and/or a creative experiment to reach almost documentary-like levels of authenticity. It didn’t work, though.
  5. While Spencer StoneAnthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos seemed like they tried, they really could not act. They were relatively fine in the physical scenes but the dialogue and the emotional stuff really escaped them: the majority of the lines were delivered in an incredibly stiff and wooden manner. The kid actors playing their younger counterparts were also awful, which is inexcusable nowadays, knowing how many amazing young actors are currently working. Even professional actresses Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer, who played the mothers of the heroes, didn’t deliver great performances.

In short, The 15:17 to Paris was a poorly written picture that wasn’t helped by the acting. The only thing it had going for it was a striking name and Eastwood’s seasoned directing.

Rate: 2.8/5

Trailer: The 15:17 to Paris

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2017: 100 Book Challenge

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Hello!

Welcome to another 2017 round-up post. I’ve already done a post about my favorite and least favorite movies of the 2017 and now it is time for my list of book for this year. I don’ really post about books on this blog (I write short comments about them on Instagram as @sharingshelves) but since a lot of the books I’ve read are movie related (novels and comics that are adapted into films or non-fiction works about movies), I thought that some of you might be interested in my suggestions/recommendations. Also, I wasn’t planning on repeating the challenge but I managed to finish 100 books again this year (did the same in 2016). I have to promise myself that I’m not even going to attempt to read this many books next year, as when I have a certain numerical goal in mind, the reading experience does become more about quantity than quality.

Before I give you the list, here are a couple of general notes about it:
• From the 100 books this year, 10 were in Lithuanian (my native language) and 90 in English – I’m reading less and less in my native language every year.
• Most popular authors were Galbraith/Rowling for novels and Ennis, Bendis, and Snyder for comic books.
• I’ve read more graphic novels this year but fewer non-fiction books. My most often read comic book characters were Batman and Wonder Woman.
• I didn’t do an author break down by nationality but a general overview is this – I mostly read books by English-speakers. I didn’t even read a single book by a Lithuanian author (one by an author of Lithuanian descent was on the list, though).
• I’ve read mostly stand-alone books this year: if we’are not counting the comic book series, I’ve only read one full novel series.
• The 20th and 21st-century books were my most preferred for leisure reading, while for my English course, I’ve jumped around all time periods, but mostly focused on the literature of the 19th century.

Anyways, here is my list of books divided into the different genres. In every part, I’ve highlighted a couple of my favorites! I have also linked some movie reviews next to the relevant books. Enjoy!

Non-fiction:

  1. S. Cain – ‘Quiet: The Power of the Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’
  2. W. Isaacson – ‘Steve Jobs’ (adapted to film)
  3. R. Roll – ‘Finding Ultra’
  4. P. Pfitzinger and S.Douglas – ‘Advanced Marathoning’
  5. F. Hufton – ‘Running: How To Get Started’

Fiction:

  1. D. Brown – ‘Digital Fortress’
  2. M. Zusak – ‘The Book Thief’
  3. W. Carther – ‘Death Comes For The Archbishop’
  4. Z. N. Hurston – ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’
  5. N. Gaiman – ‘American Gods’
  6. N. Gaiman – ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’
  7. S. Meyer – ‘ The Chemist’
  8. A. Huxley – ‘Brave New World’
  9. A. Huxley – ‘Island: a novel’
  10. I. Welsh – ‘Trainspotting’ (adapted to film)
  11. J. Moyes – ‘ The Girl You Left Behind’
  12. L. Groff – ‘Fates and Furies’
  13. R. Galbraith – The Cuckoo’s Calling’
  14. R. Galbraith – ‘The Silkworm’
  15. R. Galbraith – ‘Career of Evil’
  16. L. Moriarty – ‘Big Little Lies’
  17. A. Burgess – ‘A Clockwork Orange’
  18. G. Orwell – ‘Animal Farm: a fairy story’
  19. G. Orwell – ‘1984′
  20. D. Eggers – ‘The Circle’ (adapted to film – review)
  21. J. le Carre – ‘The Night Manager’
  22. E. Morgenstern – ‘The Night Circus’
  23. L. Evans – ‘Their Finest’ (adapted to film – review)
  24. M. Bulgakov – ‘The Master and Margarita’
  25. D. O’Porter – ‘Goose’
  26. C. Palahniuk – ‘Fight Club’
  27. C. Bukowski – ‘Post Office’
  28. N. Larsen – ‘Passing’
  29. G.R.R. Martin and G. Dozois (as editors) – ‘Rogues’
  30. D. Gibbins – ‘Crusader Gold’
  31. R. Sepetys – ‘Between Shades of Gray’
  32. B. Ridgway – ‘The River of No Return’
  33. F. Molnar – ‘The Paul Street Boys’
  34. T. Parsons – ‘Starting Over’
  35. T. Capote – ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’
  36. A. Christie – ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (adapted to film – review)
  37. A. Thomas – ‘The Hate U Give’
  38. P.K. Dick – ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ (adapted to film – review)
  39. S. King – ‘It’ (adapted to film – review)

Cinema related books:

  1. G. Jenkins – ‘Empire Building’
  2. J. Luceno – ‘Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel’
  3. A. Freed – ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ novelization (film review)
  4. C. Fisher – ‘Postcards From The Edge’
  5. C. Fisher – ‘The Princess Diarist’
  6. C. Fisher – ‘Wishful Drinking’
  7. D. O’Neil – ‘The Dark Knight’ novelization
  8. C. Clark – ‘The Prince, The Showgirl and Me’
  9. C. Clark – ‘My Week with Marilyn’
  10. J.K. Rowling – ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ script (film review)
  11. A. Kendrick – ‘Scrappy Little Nobody’
  12. S. Nathan and S. Roman – ‘Frozen’ novelization
  13. S. Bukatman – ‘Blade Runner – BFI Film Classics’

English 3rd year degree books:

  1. Aeschylus – ‘Prometheus Bound’
  2. C. Marlowe – ‘Doctor Faustus
  3. J. Milton – ‘Paradise Lost’
  4. M. Shelley – ‘Frankenstein; 1818 text’
  5. R. Henryson – ‘The Testament of Cresseid’
  6. D. Defoe – ‘Robinson Crusoe’
  7. N. Shephard – ‘The Quarry Wood’
  8. N. Larsen – ‘Quicksand’
  9. A. Carter – ‘The Bloody Chamber and other stories’
  10. C. Bronte – ‘Jane Eyre’
  11. E. Bronte – ‘Wuthering Heights’
  12. A. Bronte – ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’
  13. G. Elliot – ‘The Lifted Veil’
  14. G. Elliot – ‘The Mill on The Floss’
  15. C. Dickens – ‘Great Expectations’
  16. H.G. Wells – ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’
  17. B. Stoker – ‘Dracula’
  18. W. Collins – ‘The Woman in White’

Graphic novels:

  1. Various authors – ‘Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Doctor Strange’ (film review)
  2. D. Abnett – ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket Raccoon and Groot steal the galaxy’ (film review)
  3. G. Ennis and S. Dillon – ‘Preacher: Gone To Texas’
  4. G. Ennis and S. Dillon – ‘Preacher: Until The End Of The World’
  5. G. Ennis and S. Dillon – ‘Preacher: Proud Americans’
  6. G. Ennis and S. Dillon – ‘Preacher: Ancient History’
  7. G. Ennis and S. Dillon – ‘Preacher: Dixie Fried’
  8. B.M. Bendis and M. Gaydos – ‘Alias: Volume 1’
  9. B.M. Bendis and M. Gaydos – ‘Alias: Volume 2’
  10. B.M. Bendis and M. Gaydos – ‘Alias: Volume 3’
  11. B.M. Bendis and M. Gaydos – ‘Alias: Volume 4’
  12. G. Rucka – ‘Wonder Woman Rebirth: Volume 1 The Lies’ (film review)
  13. G. Rucka – ‘Wonder Woman Rebirth: Volume 2 Year One’
  14. G. Rucka – ‘Wonder Woman Rebirth: Volume 3 The Truth’
  15. M. Finch and D. Finch – ‘Wonder Woman: Resurrection’
  16. S. Snyder and G. Capullo – ‘Batman: The Court of Owls’
  17. S. Snyder and G. Capullo – ‘Batman: The Nights of Owls’
  18. S. Snyder and G. Capullo – ‘Batman: The City of Owls’
  19. S. Snyder and G. Capullo – ‘Batman: Endgame’
  20. J. Tyrion – ‘Batman Detective Comics Rebirth: Volume 1 Rise of the Batmen’
  21. G. Morrison and A. Kubert – ‘Batman and Son’
  22. T. S. Daniel – Batman: Battle for the Cowl’
  23. A. Conner and J. Palmiotti – ‘Harley Quinn Rebirth: Volume 3 Red Meat’
  24. J. Hickman and C. Pacheco – ‘Ultimate Thor: Volume 1’ (film review)
  25. M. Wagner – ‘Trinity’ (film review)

And that is it for the books I’ve read this year! What was your favorite book(s) of the year? What are you planning on/excited to read in 2017?

Leave a comment below and Have a Happy New Year!

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Movie review: The Glass Castle

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Hello!

The Captain Fantastic-esque movie for this awards’ season – The Glass Castle – has reached theatres, so let’s see if it is as good as its predecessor.

IMDb summary: A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.

Writing

The Glass Castle’s script was written by the director of the picture Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham (who wrote the 2017 religious pic The Shack), and Marti Noxon (writer on Buffy and To The Bone). It was based on the memoir of the same name by Jeannette Walls (who was played in the film by Brie Larson). The writing for the film was interesting – it had some great moments but a few flaws too. First, the narrative simultaneously unraveled in two temporal lines, past and present, and these two were connected well-enough. However, the story itself was a bit too long – there were differently quite a few moments which could have been cut and made the plot more tight and streamlined. Nevertheless, the fact that the story was so long and drawn out kinda helped to build a strong emotional core of the film.

The Glass Castle had the Interstellar syndrome of focusing on a single child’s relationship with the parents and kinda letting the other children fade into the background (but, I guess, since the movie was based on one person’s memoir, it’s okay for the film to also have a more centered focus). Thematically, the movie tackled a lot of issues. The most obvious one was the less-than-conventional lifestyle of the family (and this were the Captain Fantastic similarity came in, although, CF was more about living unconventionally, while this one was more about just living in poverty). It was depicted quite well and with enough detail. The second topic was the parent-child relationship. That discussion had the ultimate message that parents need to respect their children’s life choices, even if they might do something different in their place (at least that was my takeaway).

The third issue was the abuse in the family. This problem was depicted in both The Walls’ family and the father’s family. The first recreation of the issue (in The Walls family) was way more well-rounded, while the abuse in the father’s own family (abuse of the mother/grandma) was only just glanced at, which was the biggest flaw in the film. If that was definitely the case of pedophilia, the movie should have looked at it much more. If it wasn’t the case, all the speculations needed to be cleared out way more overtly. Lastly, The Glass Castle also presented an alcoholic character and had one of the best and most accurate representations of the issue. The withdrawal scene, as well as the irrational need for a drink, were very realistic inclusions.

While The Glass Castle did a fairly good job of presenting a variety of issues and topics, I wish it were more critical of them. I saw this being the main complaint in the reviews of the various critics and I completely agree with them. The end of the picture was mostly sugar-coated and very Hollywood-y. While forgiveness is a powerful tool to have, an ability to stand for one’s own beliefs and to cut toxic people from one’s life, no matter how close to them one used to be, are also important life lessons that I wish the film would have added.

Directing

Destin Daniel Cretton, who has previously mostly worked on short films and documentaries, directed The Glass Castle as his 3rd feature film. The pacing of the movie was really slow, and while the emotional connection between the viewer and the characters was quite successfully built, the narrative itself did drag and got too repetitive at times. The cinematography was good, very classic, drama-style one. The director also did a good job of working with the actors and pulling amazing performances out of them.

Acting

The two stand-outs from the cast were Brie Larson (Room, Kong, Free Fire) and Woody Harrelson (Triple 9, Now You See Me 1+2, War For The Planet Of The Apes). Larson has actually previously worked with this director and her involvement in his film post-Oscar win, kinda raised the movie’s profile. Anyway, Larson, once again, proved that she deserved that last Oscar that she won and I hope to see her standing on the Academy stage once more in the future. Harrelson also nailed his role. This time around his performance as an alcoholic was even more believable than in The Hunger Games. Other supporting cast members included Divergent’s Naomi Watts (she was amazing as the eccentric artist mother) and Sarah Shook (Steve Jobs), Josh Caras, and Brigette Lundy-Paine as Jeannette’s siblings. New Girls Max Greenfield also had a fun role, while Ella Anderson did a very good job as the younger version of Jeannette.

In short, The Glass Castle is an interesting biopic that should have analyzed rather than just depicted its source material. The acting is top-notch, though.

Rate: 3.5/5

Trailer: The Glass Castle trailer

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5 ideas about a movie: Snatched 

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Hi!

2015’s Trainwreck was both a commercial and critical hit. Let’s see if Amy Schumer can repeat the same level of success in 2017 with Snatched (most likely not). Female comedies generally can do very good if they are good, like Bad Moms. However, Snatched seems to be closer to Tammy (even the premises are similar).

IMDb summary: When her boyfriend dumps her before their exotic vacation, a young woman persuades her ultra-cautious mother to travel with her to paradise, with unexpected results.

  1. Snatched was written by Katie Dippold (The HeatSpyGhostbusters). Schumer herself is said to have done some additional writing, though, she has not received a screenwriting credit. The movie was directed by Jonathan Levine (producer of the last year’s Mike and Dave comedy). Well-known comedy director Paul Feig served as a producer. Overall, I was pretty disappointed by the movie, even though I did not expect much.
  2. To begin with, I thought that the movie did not know what it wanted to be. The tone was all over the place. Snatched tried being a comedy for the modern ‘selfie’ generation (social media played a part and Internet-y types of jokes were used) but also employed old-school Hollywood comedy cliches, like the ‘nerd character’, ‘idiot in the lead’ (literally just saw one of those in Baywatch too), and ‘sibling rivalry’.
  3. Storywise, a lot of weird choices were made. A lot of supporting characters were introduced but their plot-lines went nowhere. The two ladies (ex-special ops agent and her friend) had a small role to play so I could forgive their involvement, even though it was jarring at first. The doctor, his friend, and the worm – what was that scene all about? It was also super abruptly cut. The American adventurer was literally on screen for 5 minutes (best ones of the film). However, I didn’t like the fact that they trusted him instantly just because he was an American (I wouldn’t). That action just felt super irresponsible and just plain stupid. What Snatched didn’t seem to get was that stupidity does not equal humor.
  4. Overall, all the jokes were mostly awkward going on cringe-y rather than being funny. The narrative was lazy cause the characters would escape a situation by a coincidence. The set-up was quick (15 minutes) but I wish I cared more about it. The situational comedy fell flat most of the time too. The few emotional moments that the filmmakers attempted to include as well as a single scene of gender commentary were super out of place. At least the dance and the dog whistle things were paid off instead of being introduced and disappearing from the plot like so many other ideas. Basically, this movie was Grown Ups 3 – some actors just wanted their vacation in Hawaii (which acted as South America) to be captured by a professional film crew.
  5. Amy Schumer played the daughter, while Goldie Hawn was dragged out of retirement to play her mother (she hasn’t appeared on film in 15 years). I thought that they were cast well as mother-daughter duo and their chemistry was fine too. However, I do wish that the characters were more interesting (the daughter could have been made less stupid especially). Ike Barinholtz (NeighborsSuicide Squad) starred as the brother and he was actually quite fun to watch when paired with Bashir SalahuddinThe Shallows’ Óscar Jaenada played the main villain (a walking stereotype).

Rate: 2/5

Trailer: Snatched trailer

In short, Snatched is not a particularly funny comedy. I suggest you watch Baywatch if you want something a bit more interesting.

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as,

2016: 100 Book Challenge

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Hello!

The end of the year usually means a lot of looking-back/reflection/summary posts. This one is no exception. Also, if you ever needed more proof that I am a gigantic nerd, this is it.

At the beginning of the year, I raised myself a challenge – to read 100 books and to keep track of them. I mainly did that because 1. I wanted to read more – I used to read a lot during childhood but couldn’t find time for books in later years, due to watching a lot of films and 2. since I read/watch/hear so many stories, I wanted to have a list of them so that I would not start reading a book which I have read before.

I’m glad to announce that I did achieve my goal and did finish 100 books in 12 months. I covered a variety of genres, authors, and languages.

Some statistics before I give you the list: out of the 100 books:

  • 23 were in my native Lithuanian language and 77 were in English.
  • 20 of them were for study purposes, 80 – for leisure.
  • 60 authors were covered: I read only one book by 44 authors and a few books by 16 authors. W. Shakespeare came in first with 8 repeats, T. Morrison followed second with 6 and J.K.Rowling with 5. D. Brown had 4, while A. Moore, R. Riggs, M. Strandberg and S.B. Elfrgen and Sir A. Conan Doyle all had 3. Lastly, I read 2 books by each of the following authors: A. Miller, H. Ibsen, A. Spiegelman, S. Plath, J. Conrad, J. Moyes, G. Flynn, and H. Lee.
  • 30 writers were American, 15British, 5French, 2 (each) were Lithuanian, Irish, Japanese, and Scandinavian and 1 (each) – Russian, Polish, Nigerian, and Pakistani.
  • 72 were stand-alone books, while 28 belonged to 11 series.
  • 53 were modern books, while 47 were classics.
  • 56 were prose and 2poetry books. 15 were plays, 18graphic novels, and 9memoirs.
  • 8 was my monthly average.

Before I give you the long list by genre, here is my TOP 10 in no particular order:

  • A. Spiegelman – ‘Maus’
  • A.Moore and D.Gibbons – ‘Watchmen’
  • J.K.Rowling – ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’
  • S. Plath – ‘The Bell Jar’
  • H. Lee – ‘Go Set a Watchman’
  • A. Weir – ‘The Martian’
  • G. Flynn – ‘Sharp Objects’
  • E. Cline – ‘Ready Player One’
  • L. Wacquant – ‘Body and Soul: The Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer’
  • C. McDougall – ‘Born to Run’

Now the actual list by genre:

Prose:

  1. E. A. Poe – collection of short stories titled ‘The Gold-Bug’
  2. A. de Saint-Exupéry – two storiesSouthern Mail’ and ‘Night Flight’ in one novel.
  3. M. Shelley – ‘Frankenstein’
  4. J.M.Barie – ‘Peter Pan’
  5. W. Golding – ‘Lord of the Flies’
  6. V. Nabokov – ‘Lolita’
  7. K. Ishiguro – ‘Never Let Me Go’
  8. S. Plath – ‘The Bell Jar’
  9. J. Conrad – ‘Hearth of Darkness’
  10. J. Conrad – a trio of short stories ‘An Outpost of Progress’, ‘Karan’, ‘Youth’.
  11. J. Baldwin –  ‘Giovanni’s Room’
  12. C. Achebe – ‘Things Fall Apart’
  13. T. Morrison – ‘Beloved’
  14. T. Morrison – ‘Sula’
  15. T. Morrison – ‘Song of Solomon’
  16. T. Morrison – ‘A Mercy’
  17. T. Morrison – ‘The Bluest Eye’
  18. T. Morrison – ‘Home’
  19. M. Mauss – ‘The Gift’
  20. H. Melville – ‘Moby Dick’
  21. J. Austen – ‘Sense and Sensibility’
  22. J. Moyes – ‘Me Before You’
  23. J. Moyes – ‘After You’
  24. H. Lee – ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’
  25. H. Lee – ‘Go Set a Watchman’
  26. A. Weir – ‘The Martian’
  27. G. Flynn – ‘Sharp Objects’
  28. G. Flynn – ‘Dark Places’
  29. M. Strandberg and S.B.Elfgren – ‘The Circle’
  30. M. Strandberg and S.B.Elfgren – ‘Fire’
  31. M. Strandberg and S.B.Elfgren – ‘The Key’
  32. K. Vonnegut – ‘The Breakfast of Champions’
  33. I. Fleming – ‘Casino Royale’
  34. D. Brown – ‘Angels and Demons’
  35. D. Brown – ‘The Da Vinci Code’
  36. D. Brown – ‘The Lost Symbol’
  37. D. Brown – ‘Inferno’
  38. G. DeWeese – ‘Into the Nebula (Star Trek: The Next Generation #36)’
  39. R. Riggs – ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for the Peculiar Children’
  40. R. Riggs – ‘Hollow City’
  41. R. Riggs – ‘The Library of Souls’
  42. E. Blyton – ‘The Famous Five: Five Go Down to the Sea’
  43. E. Blyton – ‘The Famous Five: Five Go to Mystery Moor’
  44. E. Blyton – ‘The Famous Five: Five Have Plenty of Fun’
  45. E. Blyton – ‘The Famous Five: Five on a Secret Trail’
  46. K. Keplinger – ‘The Duff’
  47. P. Hawkins – ‘The Girl on the Train’
  48. J.K.Rowling – ‘The Casual Vacancy’
  49. J.K.Rowling – ‘Fantastic Beast and Where To Find Them’
  50. J.K.Rowling – ‘Quidditch Through The Ages’
  51. J.K.Rowling – ‘Tale of Beedle The Bard’
  52. Sir A. Conan Doyle – ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’
  53. Sir A. Conan Doyle – ‘The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes’
  54. Sir A. Conan Doyle – ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’
  55. E. Cline – ‘Ready Player One’
  56. G.R.R.Martin – ‘The World of Ice and Fire’
  57. D.Grayson – ‘Doctor Strange: The Fate of Dreams’

Poetry:

  1. S. Heaney – ‘North’
  2. S. Plath – ‘Ariel’

Plays:

  1. J.M.Synge – ‘The Playboy of the Western World’
  2. A. Miller – ‘The Crucible’
  3. A. Miller – ‘Death of a Salesman’
  4. H. Ibsen – ‘A Doll’s House’
  5. H. Ibsen – ‘Hedda Gabler’
  6. J. Lyly – ‘Galatea’
  7. W. Shakespeare – ‘The Taming of the Shrew’
  8. W. Shakespeare – ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
  9. W. Shakespeare – ‘Twelfth Night’
  10. W. Shakespeare – ‘The Merchant ofVenice’
  11. W. Shakespeare – ‘The Tempest’
  12. W. Shakespeare – ‘Coriolanus’
  13. W. Shakespeare – ‘Hamlet’
  14. W. Shakespeare – ‘Troilus and Cressida’
  15. J.K.Rowling – ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

Graphic Novels:

  1. A. Spiegelman – ‘Maus’
  2. A. Spiegelman – ‘In The Shadow of No Towers’
  3. M. Satrapi – ‘Persepolis’
  4. J. Maroh – ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’
  5. C. Burns – ‘Black Hole’
  6. M.Millar and S.McNiven – ‘Civil War’
  7. Various authors – ‘Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes: Wolverine’
  8. A.Moore and D.Gibbons – ‘Watchmen’
  9. A.Moore and D.Lloyd – ‘V for Vendetta’
  10. A.Moore and B.Bolland – ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’
  11. M.Anusauskaite and G.Jord – ’10 litu’
  12. Various authors – ‘The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told’
  13. Various authors – ‘Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Iron Man’
  14. J. Sacco – ‘Palestine’
  15. C.Thompson – ‘Blankets’
  16. M.Wolfman and G.Perez – ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’
  17. E. Brubaker – ‘The Death of Captain America’

Memoirs:

  1. D. Howell and P. Lester – ‘The Amazing Book Is Not On Fire’
  2. T. Oakley – ‘Binge’
  3. C. Franta – ‘A Work in Progress’
  4. G. Helbig – ‘Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to be a Grown-Up’
  5. L. Wacquant – ‘Body and Soul: The Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer’
  6. M.Youafzai and C.Lamb – ‘I am Malala’
  7. I.Staskevicius – ‘Maratono laukas’ (‘Marathon running’)
  8. H. Murakami – ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’
  9. C.McDougall – ‘Born to Run’

I hope you enjoyed flicking through my 2016 reading list. I really want to start writing more book-centric posts next year, so this was like a taster-post. Have a great New Year and tell me in the comments your favorite book from last year!

A snapshot of my collection

Movie review: The Girl on The Train

Movie reviews, Uncategorized

Hello!

The highly awaited adaptation of the best-selling thriller has finally reached cinemas, so let’s talk about it! This is the review of The Girl on The Train.

IMDb summary: A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing person’s investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

The Girl on The Train is an adaptation of the book with the same name, written by journalist-turned-writer Paula Hawkins and published in January of 2015. It has taken Hollywood only around a year and a half to come up with the cinematic version of the same story. The book has been compared to Gone Girl – famous novel by Gillian Flynn (another former journalist, now a published author), but I would also suggest you check out the other two Flynn’s books – Sharp Objects and Dark Places – if you liked The Girl on The Train. J.K.Rowling’s first adult novel – The Casual Vacancy – might also be of some interest to you, as it explores similar topics to The Girl on The Train, namely the idea of the domestic affairs and the concept of the outside image. Another analogous book about a dysfunctional family that is on my to-read list is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and all its sequels.

To me, the dichotomy of private and public life was one of the most interesting aspects of the source material. The novel also appealed to my inner stalker – I, as the main character Rachel, like to watch strangers around me and imagine their lives or imagine myself in their place. I guess that tells you something about my less-than-stable mental state. I promise I’m not a drunk, though.

Last year, both Gone Girl and Dark Places have been adapted to films and The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo has been turned into a couple of movies (both in Sweden and the US) and I’m sure that the adaptation of The Girl on The Train will be compared to all of them. Some will even go as far as to compare it to Hitchcock’s classics, which isn’t really fair, in my opinion. But, enough of the introduction, let’s get into the actual review of the picture.

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!SPOILER ALERT!

Writing

The Girl on The Train’s script was written by Erin Cressida Wilson. She penned last year’s Men, Women & Children – the only recent film with Adam Sandler that I didn’t hate – I actually even enjoyed it. As per usual, some of the details of the story were changed when adapting the narrative. To begin with, the action was relocated from London to New York for no obvious  creative reason, other than to appeal more to the American audiences. I would have preferred it to be set in England – the gloomy and rainy London would have fit the story more than the city who never sleeps – NY. The screenwriter also cut a few of the creepier details that were in the book, namely a couple of messed up sex scenes. She also gave more traits to some characters: Rachel liked to draw and we actually saw her go to an AA meeting and Megan liked to go on runs. Cathy’s character was altered a bit too, while the character of Martha was an original creation for the picture. The role that the media played in the murder mystery was also diminished in the film.

Other than that, the characters pretty much stayed the same – they were all damaged people, some for a reason, others – without explanation. Then again, some people just are the way they are and there is no deeper tale behind their personality. Rachel basically was digging a hole for herself throughout the film, Megan was playing with fire and got burnt, and don’t even get me started on Anna – she was so willing to turn a blind eye to everything that she kinda made me sick. The 2 male character got a bit less of development but they were both kinda similar – abusive in one way or the other to some extent. Inspector Riley’s character was actually better in the film than in the book – she was super annoying in the novel and actually quite efficient and clever in the film, though she still went after a wrong person.

The narrative was more compressed in the movie than in the book, but all the main themes stayed the same: the desire to create a family was still the most driving plot point of the story (so stereotypical and one that I cannot understand or agree with, then again, I’ve never been family-orientated and this story only reassured my beliefs) and the private life and the public exterior were juxtaposed. The characters looked at each other for an ideal example and lived in a past way too much. The movie also showed the complexity and the dark side of relationships and love and looked at a very important aspect of the modern life – mental problems and depression.

Directing

Tate Taylor, whose previous films include The Help and Get on Up, directed The Girl on The Train and did a fine job. The camera was a bit static, but the visuals of the train in the background of various shots were nice. All the close-ups also worked to make the movie a bit more intimate experience. And yet, the film was quite slow and the numerous flashbacks didn’t really allow the story to go forward – it seemed like something was holding the movie back. The levels of intensity were also low and the buildup to the big twist was basically non-existent. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the big reveal even if I knew it beforehand. I wish that particular sequence would have been longer, though – the picture wrapped up really quickly when the real killer was announced to the audience and the characters. Overall, the directing was a bit flat and I wish Taylor would have done more with the material.

Music

The movie’s soundtrack by Danny Elfman wasn’t really noticeable (which sometimes is a good thing). I liked the instrumental score but wished they used more actual songs. For one, I really liked the trailer’s song Heartless and that comes from a person who highly dislikes Kanye West.

Acting

  • Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, Into the WoodsSicarioThe Huntsman) as Rachel Watson was absolutely amazing. She played such a believable drunk person – her performance was never over-the-top or too cartoonish. She basically carried this whole movie by herself and I really wish that her work in this film would be recognized with at least a Golden Globe nomination. Her 2 upcoming film are both animated but I’m sure that we will soon get a few announcements about her being cast in some live-action flicks.
  • Haley Bennett (Hardcore Henry) as Megan Hipwell was also really good. She reminded me a bit of both Jennifer Lawrence and Rosamund Pike. Furthermore, Bennett’s acting range is amazing – the character of Megan was completely different from her last cinematic character in The Magnificient Seven. Would love to seem more of her work.
  • Rebecca Ferguson (MI5, Florence Foster Jenkins) as Anna Watson was also great. While reading the book, I really disliked Anna and thought she acted a bit creepy and Ferguson portrayed that well.
  • Justin Theroux as Tom Watson. Theroux played a good villain – that of the worst kind. He seemed to be a good husband and father on the outside, but deep down was a manipulative liar, who managed to believe his own lies, and had no regard for other people’s mental or physical lives. While reading the book, I guessed that he was the killer when I still had around 50 pages left to the big reveal. He just seemed too normal to be a character in the book full of broken people. Going forward, Theroux will be voicing a lord in The Lego Ninjago Movie
  • Luke Evans (The Hobbit trilogy, Dracula Untold, High-Rise) as Scott Hipwell was fine in the role. I kinda feel like he was used as an eye candy for the first half of the film, though. He only said his first line in the 45th minute of the film (I checked). Nonetheless, his few emotional scenes with Blunt were my favorite parts of the movie. His next film is the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, which I’m super excited about!
  • Allison Janney as Detective Sgt. Riley was really good. Janney’s performance made me like the character of Riley much more than I did in the book. Coincidentally, I only just saw another film with her – she had a small role in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
  • Édgar Ramírez (Joy, Point Break) as Dr. Kamal Abdic was fine. He was clearly not Bosnian (that was a big deal in the book) but they still tried to mention his ethnicity in the film which didn’t work. In the book, he was the survivor/refugee of the Yugoslavian wars and this impacted the media’s perception of him as the supposed killer. In the film, they just had Rachel throw the line ‘Where are you from?’ as a possible nod to his background in the book, but that didn’t really work.

In short, The Girl on The Train was an okay movie. The strongest part of it was the acting, while the directing and the writing had to take the back seat. It is not a must watch, but the fans of the book, as well as those who like character/actor-driven films, should check it out.

Rate: 3.5/5

Trailer: The Girl on The Train trailer

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The Liebster Award x3

Uncategorized

Hello!

Welcome to quite an unusual post. It’s not a movie review or preview but it’s a tag/chain post that unites fans of movie blogs and movie bloggers/reviewers – The Liebster Award. The basic idea of this project/concept is that bloggers nominate other bloggers and ask them 11 questions. Nominated people have to answer those 11 questions, nominate 11 people and ask them 11 questions of their own. To my mind, these ‘awards’ not only allow the movie bloggers to show their appreciation for their fellow reviewers but also help to build a community, right here on wordpress.com. The fact that the readers also get to find out something more about the blogger is also pretty nice.

So, to begin with, I would like to thank Jason from Jason’s Movie Blog for nominating me. I highly suggest that you check out his blog and give him some love (in a form of likes and comments!).

Jason’s Q and My A’s

  1. Favorite Movie of All Time? I, honestly, have no idea what my favorite movie is as I watch too many of them. However, if I really had to pick one, it would probably be Jurrasic Park.
  2. Favorite Movie Scene? Another hard question. I do really enjoy the opening scene and the pub scene from Inglorious Basterds. The Coin Toss scene from No Country For Old Men is also pretty neat. Since I also like movie musicals (ultimate guilty pleasure genre), The Dancing Queen performance/scene from Mamma Mia! is also one of my favorites.
  3. Last Movie you saw in theaters? Everybody Wants Some!! – coming-of-age sports drama/comedy set in the 80s.
  4. If you had the chance to meet one actor or actress in real life….who would it be? Emma Watson.
  5. What was your favorite movie of 2015? When I did my list of favorite movies, I put Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the first place. However, looking back, I would probably pick Mad Max: Fury Road.
  6. Star Wars or Star Trek? I’ve never seen the original Star Trek films, only the J.J.Abrams remakes and really loved them. However, Star Wars is…well…Star Wars. It’s not only a movie franchise but a cultural phenomenon, so, Star Wars!
  7. When did you start blogging? A little over 2 years ago.
  8. Why do you blog? I started blogging about movies because I didn’t have any friends who shared my passion for cinema, so I didn’t have anyone to discuss films with. So, I started posting my ideas online and got into a conversation with other cinephiles from all over the world. I also write because I want to be a published author one day and blogging is a great starting point for that.
  9. If you could visit a movie’s world in real life, what movie’s world would you choose? Without a doubt, it would be Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings a.k.a. New Zealand.
  10. What do you collect? Physical copy of movies or digital downloads? I mostly stream all the movies I watch at home, so I don’t really collect anything. Although, if I had to pick, I would buy physical Blu-rays.
  11. What movie are you looking forward to seeing? I can’t wait to see Suicide Squad because I still have faith in DCEU. That film also comes out around my birthday, so I definitely know, how I will be celebrating!

UPDATE: I would also like to thank Demi97 from Bookstraveller for nominating me a second time. Check out her blog and subscribe!

Demi’s Q and my A’s

  1. What is your favorite animal and why? I think my favorite animal is some sort of a sea creature, either a whale, a dolphin or a shark, probably because I also enjoy spending time in the water (I’m a swimmer).
  2. What is your favorite book and why? I read a lot of books and I also study English literature, but my favorite book(s) will always be the Harry Potter series, just because I grew up with them and have re-read them multiple times – more than any other book or series.
  3. What is your favorite movie and why? Jason’s question #1 – Jurrasic Park. Because it left the biggest impression on me as a kid and because I still enjoy watching it a decade later.
  4. What is the most recent happy event in your life? Probably my trip around Isle of Skye & Glencoe in Scotland.
  5. Pepsi or Coca-Cola? Coca-Cola. 
  6. Do you like to travel? Love it (who doesn’t?) I wish I could travel much more!
  7. How many languages can you speak? 3: Lithuanian (native speaker), English (fluent speaker), Russian (mediocre/terrible speaker). I’m also learning Italian.
  8. What is one aspect of yourself that you occasionally get complimented on? That I’m very level-headed.
  9. What is your dream job? Screenwriter or producer.
  10. What would you recommend me to watch or read next? I’m currently reading all the books by Toni Morrison. If you haven’t read any of her books, I suggest you start with Beloved or Song of Solomon. To watch – Civil War is my favorite movie of this year so far.
  11. Do you think Donald Trump should become the president of the United States? Absolutely not. I’m afraid of what will happen to the world, not just to the US if he becomes the President.

11 random facts:  

  1. I was born in Lithuania, but a month after my 18th birthday, I moved to UK (Scotland, precisely) to study Anthropology and English literature.
  2. I started learning English language when I was 4.
  3. I enjoy movie musicals.
  4. I collect postcards.
  5. And posters.
  6. I love Youtubers! Currently binging on GMM.
  7. I have been swimming competitively for 12 years.
  8. I was always a good student and a giant nerd.
  9. I enjoy dreaming way too much.
  10. I have social anxiety and feel much better when talking to people online rather than in person.
  11. I wanted to be a journalist up until I had to apply to university’s and then changed my plans and dreams completely.

UPDATE NO.2: As it happens, one of the people that I nominated – Macabreadore – nominated me back again (thank you!), so I am adding a 3rd set of answers!

  1. What is your least favorite movie and why? I don’t like to dislike movies – I always try to find something positive about all features. However, the film that I strongly disliked as a child because it scared me too much was Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! I cannot watch it to this day.
  2. In your opinion, which of your blog posts are you most proud of? I’m quite proud of my Civil War review, just because it is probably my longest post ever. I’m also really happy with my piece on volunteering at a sports event – that post got a lot of views, which I did  not expect. My very personal review of Cinderella is also, in my opinion, one of the best post that I’ve written.
  3. What’s your favorite movie quote of all time? ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn’ from Gone With The Wind.
  4. What film do you think has the most beautiful cinematography? Gravity, Birdman or The Revenant. All by Emmanuel Lubezki.
  5. If you had to watch one movie every day for the rest of your life, what would you choose? Jurrasic Park.
  6. Which horror movie scared you the most? I don’t watch a lot of horror movies, so I don’t have many to choose from. As a child, Burton’s Mars Attacks! and Planet of the Apes scared me a lot. Couldn’t sleep for a few days. As a pre-teen, I remember watching the first Paranormal Activity and feeling scared quite enough as well.
  7. Why did you decide to start a blog? Because I didn’t have anyone to talk to about movies and because I wanted to (still want to) become a writer and blogging seemed like a great way to start.
  8. What’s your least favorite color? Yellow.
  9. What was your favorite film from last year? Mad Max: Fury Road!
  10. What’s the cheesiest movie you’ve ever seen? (be honest!) Well, since I unapologetically like movie musicals, I have seen a lot of cheesy movies. Any musical Cinderella remake is probably the cheesiest, though.
  11. What’s your favorite type of dinosaur? Brontosaurus. I fell in love with them after watching The Land Before Time.

11 bloggers that I nominate are:

  1. Opalflame
  2. Joel Watches Movies
  3. Musing Site
  4. KayleyIsLame
  5. KeithLovesMovies
  6. James Hayward Productions
  7. Movies and Music Surgery 
  8. Nikis Reviews
  9. Diary of an Angry Film Nerd
  10. Macabreadore
  11. Life’s little bits and bobs

…and my 11 questions to you:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. First cinema experience?
  3. Favorite genre?
  4. Favorite franchise?
  5. Remakes/reboots – for or against?
  6. Favorite movie soundtrack?
  7. Guilty pleasure movie?
  8. A film that you have seen more than 3 times?
  9. Favorite director?
  10. Favorite foreign language (non-English) film?
  11. Favorite movie from the year you were born?

I hope that at least a few of you will participate in this challenge/tag. If you didn’t get nominated by me, feel free to still answer the questions and post them on your blog!

Have a great day!

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2015 in review

Uncategorized

Hello, my dear readers, for the last time in 2015!

I have already done my final movie post of the year, which you can find here. This post will touch upon my personal life.

2015 were the craziest, most interesting and most rewarding year of my life so far. I started the year as a senior in high school and ended it as a freshman at a prestigious university in a different country. I made lots of great memories: preparation for prom and the most amazing prom night I could have asked for, stressful studying for exams, the actual exams and then graduation. I had to say goodbye to a wonderful bunch of people: my classmates and other people from school as well as my old swimming team. The summer of 2015 was full of anxiety – I felt very uncertain about the future but finally managed to make a decision, which I now believe to be the right one. I moved to a different country, which I have dreamed about doing for the past 8 years. I met lots of people from all over the world, joined a university swimming club and won my first medal in the university swimming competition. I also started to study new and exciting subjects, which made me question everything. I also managed to keep up this blog without any huge breaks. I delved deeper into my love for cinema. I read lots of new books. I also managed to participate in 7 running, 3 swimming and 1 cycling marathon as well as went to 2 concerts of my favorite singers – Ed Sheeran and Loreen. I spent a few weeks volunteering at a basketball event and made amazing new friends as well as improved my skills of communication and organization. Lastly, I managed to pass my driving exam during the Christmas season!

However, the most important accomplished of this year was the fact that I finally became happy in my own skin. I got to know myself much more deeply and started trusting my judgement much more. I have finally understood what makes me happy, so I don’t need to follow the crowd anymore. My only goal for 2016 is to fully enjoy the life that I am living, even if it does not seem like a good life at times. What are your goals for the next year?

How are you going to celebrate the end of 2015? I will probably lay in bed with a bucket of Häagen-Dazs ice cream and will watch live streams of NYE celebrations and fireworks from all the different time zones – and you know what? I am fine with that.

P.S. Bellow, you will find all the statistical figures of this year, if that interests you. Bye!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Blogging 101. Who Am I ?

Uncategorized

Hello my dear readers!!

I have some news for you!!
During the month of February, I am participating in the Blogging 101 workshop! This means that you will get a lot more daily (I hope that they will be daily) posts from me! I will be covering a variety of topics, so there will be something for everyone’s taste as usual (Movie reviews, Fashion and Beauty news, Pop Culture ramblings, Travel posts, and other weird and quirky things). The reason behind my decision to be a part of this course is the fact that recently I haven’t been writing much and I kinda miss it. I hope that Blogging 101 will help me stay on schedule, will encourage me to post more often and will improve my writing skills! So, let’s have a great month!