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31
Aug

Book Review: “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage”

Author:

 

Haruki Murakami

Translator:

Philip Gabriel

Publisher:

Knopf

Review:

Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is Haruki Murakami’s latest book and is quite different from his usual books. If you’ve read Murakami’s other books, the plot of this book will be very deceptive. Colourless follows Tsukuru Tazaki as he figures out why his friends left him all those years ago and never spoke to him again.

Now, you’d think there has to be some fantasy element to this, some unrealistic-ness that makes them leave him. But, surprisingly, it’s quite normal. This is probably his most normal and realistic book and it’s probably one of my favourites.

As usual, Murakami’s writing style is poetic it flows like a river and even a simple plot as this, combined with his writing, makes it a wonderfully addictive read. Another Murakami Trademark is that his books make you think, and this is no different. It makes you think about relationships and what impact it has. It makes you think about your identity. Tsukuru, throughout the book, thinks that he is bland, he is colourless and he is very boring. And by the end, he finds himself and who he really is. This book is more relatable that most of his other books as well. I found myself wanting to read this book a second or a third time because it’s just that beautiful.

The charm of the book is that it’s simple and it’s not massive like 1Q84 or massively philosophical like Kafka on the Shore. Colourless is simple, enjoyable and deceptive. The book ends leaving us with a couple questions and probably it’s better that way because, again, it’s add to the charm of hit his book.

It’s really amazing that Murakami’s books are translated into so many languages and everyone has the same reaction to his books. There’s nothing that’s lost in translation and part of the praise must go to the translator as well.

Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is a wonderfully brilliant and without a single dull moment. Pick it up, try it and I’m sure you’ll love it.

 

 

Side Note: This book gave me my first Book hangover. :)

Final Verdict:

9/10

26
Aug

Movie Review: “Under The Skin”

Director:

 

Jonathan Glazer

Writer: 

Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer

Producer:

James Wilson, Nick Wechsler

Cast:

Scarlett Johansson

Based on Under the Skin  by Michel Faber

Music:

Mica Levi

Review:

 

Under The Skin is a masterpiece. Simple as that.

It follows mysterious woman as she seduces men all over Scotland and harvests their skin for….reasons.

This is one weird movie. I mean, the dialogue is minimal and the scenes speak for them selves. The cinematography is brilliant, so is the direction. There’s not much explanation that is given for the action and, well, stuff just happens. There’s not much to say either. The movie is brilliant, it’s weird, it’s sexy, it doesn’t explain anything and leaves you with quite a lot of questions. Johansson’s acting is brilliant. It’s amazing seeing her form being all cold-hearted and nonchalant to seductress in the blink of an eye!

I mean, what else is there to say? Go watch it!

Final Verdict: 

9/10

 

26
Aug

Movie Review: “Only Lovers Left Alive”

Director:

Jim Jarmusch

Producer:

Jeremy Thomas, Reinhard Brundig

Writer:

Jim Jarmusch

Cast:

Tom Hiddleston as Adam

Tilda Swinton as Eve

Mia Wasikowska as Ava

John Hurt as Marlowe

Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Watson

Anton Yelchin as Ian

Slimane Dazi as Bilal

Yasmine Hamdan as Yasmine

Music:

Jozef van Wissem

Review:

Only Lovers Left Alive isn’t your typical Vampire/Horror/Romantic/Drama flick, this is something really special and unique. It follows Adam, played by Tom Hiddleston and his lover Eve, played by Swinton and their relationship that has endured for many centuries. Adam is an underground musician and prefers his seclusion. When he gets Eve to come to Detroit and stay with him for a while, her sister – Ava also shows up and disrupts his peace.

This movie doesn’t feel like a vampire film, which is really really good. You hardly see their fangs and them killing people. This movie has a very melancholy air to it and the Eve-Adam relationship is quite interesting and is pure. Honestly, the couple is awesome together. When I first heard of this movie and the cast, I really couldn’t see Tom and Swinton being lovers given their 20-year age gap, but it really did work.

The writing and the direction was top-notch and so was the acting. Since there were very few characters, each one had their moment to shine. The font that was used, added to the vampire-y feel of the movie. In a word, this movie was sexy. I guess you could see this movie a couple more times and still not get bored of it.

Final Verdict:

9/10

25
Aug

Book Review: “The Magicians”

“If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so. ”

Author:

Lev Grossman

Publisher:

Viking/Penguin Books

Review:

The Magicians follows Quentin Coldwater as he discovers an elite and secret school for magicians called Brakebills. He gives an exam and joins the school. He spends five years at the school where he learns…. well.. he learns magic. But the thing is, this book isn’t about his school life like Harry Potter. The actual story starts much much later into the story, Book 3 as it is called in the book. There’s a lot of foreplay before the actual story begins. the actual story being, their journey to Fillory, a  Narnia-esque land which everyone believed was fictional.

Honestly, there’s way too much of the journey there rather than the there. The book has a Harry Potter-Narnia-Adult Themey vibe to it. The book starts off really interesting and then slowly looses it momentum. The parts that take place in Fillory, they seemed a bit rushed and I really wished we could’ve spent more time there, but there’s always The Magicians King.

The writing is really nice, and the characterization is too! Again, a book about magic lacked the magic element. Yes, there were a bit here and there, but we aren’t given much on it. Many thing happen during the course of the first part, but nothing particular is focused upon. Quentin and Alice’s relationship didn’t make us want to root for them; I wasn’t emotionally invested in Quentin either. At the beginning, I really was hoping for something unique and amazing, maybe I had the wrong idea getting into the book, maybe I missed the whole point of the book, I was just disappointed with it..

The thing this book did right, was maybe serve as a decent set-up to the second book.

Final Verdict:

6/10

24
Aug

Book Review: “Dark Places”

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.”

Author:

Gillian Flynn

Publisher:

Shaye Areheart Books

Published on:

5 May 2009

Review:

Finally, I have managed to complete all three of Gillian Flynn’s books. I began with her latest book, Gone Girl, and then Sharp Objects and finally Dark Places. This book, her second book, follows Libby Day as she tries to unravel the mysteries of how her family was killed. It was her testimony that put her brother away for the massacre, but after meeting with the Kill Club she begins to rethink if it was actually him who had killed them. We are also told about the fateful day through the viewpoint of her mother and Ben as we, too, unravel the mysteries of that day.

Flynn keeps up her brilliant characterisations with the main and the supporting characters. The key to her story is actually in the characters, and without them the story wouldn’t be as great. Dark Places, like her other two, is quite dark and has a lot of weird things going on. This book throws a light on poverty, abuse and satanic sacrifice.

Flynn’s writing has always entertained me and it has this rhythm and flow to it which adds to how screwed up her books and the characters are. The story is quite interesting, but a bit too slow for my taste and hence isn’t her best, in my opinion. Dark Places, is my least favourite book of Flynn. But that doesn’t mean that Dark Places is bad, it’s just not as good as the rest.

Final Verdict:

7/10

24
Aug

Doctor Who: Series 8 Premiere Review

*SPOILERS!*Doctor Who: Series 8 Episode 1 “Deep Breath” Review

The Doctor: I don’t think that I’m a hugging person now.

Director:

Ben Wheatley

 

Producer:

Nikki Wilson

Writer:

Steven Moffat

Cast:

Peter Capaldi as Twelfth Doctor

Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald

Neve McIntosh as Madame Vastra

Catrin Stewart as Jenny Flint

Dan Starkey as Strax

Peter Ferdinando as Half-Face Man

Paul Hickey as Inspector Gregson

Tony Way as Alf

Paul Kasey – Footman

Michelle Gomez – Missy

Matt Smith as Eleventh Doctor

Review:

Since the 25th of December, most of the Whovians have been awaiting the arrival of The Doctor. We bade farewell to our beloved Matt Smith and welcomed Peter Capaldi who wasn’t too happy with his kidneys. on the 23rd of August, we finally met the new Doctor and oh, what a treat he was!

The episode opens to a dinosaur in Victorian London where Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax are at the scene. From it’s mouth emerges the familiar blue box, which crashes on the banks of the Thames. The paternoster gung-ho to investigate and a strange man, whom they don’t recognise, emerges out of the box with Clara who informs them that that is The Doctor. And here we go again! 

The episode is about a person (?) who is killing people and a Dinosaur for body parts. The Doctor, after waking up in a nightgown and arguing about the purpose of the room and the funny accents they all have, goes on to investigate these murders. Clara and the Paternoster Gang are on the case too, but not with the Doctor.

The Doctor, is still not back to…..normal and has a monologue about eyebrows and his liney face. And then he discovers what he is looking for in the newspaper. Clara, finds similar clues in the paper and meets the Doctor at a restaurant where they encounter the man who is killing people and is harvesting the body parts in order to convert himself from a Robot to a man. Obviously, The Doctor stops him and saves the people again!

After all of that, The Doctor abandons Clara (yet again) only to return (what a surprise!) and takes her back to the present, but to Glasgow. There she contemplates leaving The Doctor as she no longer recognises him and then she gets a call and its from her Doctor. Just before he regenerated, he calls her and tells her to save him, to be with him and so she does.

And at the very end we see the same robot-man-thing but in what this mysterious lady (what’s with her calling The Doc her boyfriend?!) calls Heaven.

After many faux-introductions to Peter’s Doctor, we FINALLY get to see the man in action. And what a joy it was! His acting was superb and the episode worked nicely as an introduction to him. Capaldi’s Doctor is, quite evidently, more fierce, more gung-ho and darker than the New-Who Doctors. He is also much older and they would’ve had to work a bit harder to get us to like him after the massive TARDIS sized hole in our two hearts left after Matt’s departure. Peter’s performance was the best right at the end when he is asking Clara to “Just see me.” That scene was so powerful and there was so much emotion in his voice and his eyes. It was really amazing. Also, I’m glad that Matt got a second farewell, but this time meant only for Clara..

The script was really really good, but I felt that the Dinosaur was a bit random. Madame Vastra and Jenny are incredibly cute together and Peter’s dialogues are hilarious. I’m glad that the humour is still rich and not bland. Moffat had said that the new opening titles were inspired by a fan-made video, and it was really amazing, but what my main problem was the theme. They’ve changed it again, and I’m not too happy with it..

I really am excited for Series 8 because not only will we get all 13 episodes without a break, but also because of Capaldi! He is an amazing amazing actor and if the script fails, he is there to entertain us and distract us.. And finally, Into The Dalek, looks like it’s going to be good, but the script wasn’t all that great..

 

 

Final Verdict: 

9/10

 

The Doctor: You can’t see me, can you? You look at me and you can’t see. Do you have any idea what that’s like? I’m not on the phone, I’m right here. Standing in front of you. Please just… just see me.

12
Aug

Book Review: “The Martian”

“As with most of life’s problems, this one can be solved by a box of pure radiation.”

Author:

Andy Weir

Publisher:

Crown Publishing Group

Published On:

2011 (electronic book), March 2013 (audiobook), February 11, 2014 (hardcover)

Review:

To tell you the truth, I don’t know what genre this falls in as it’s not technically a Sci-Fi book, because it feels very real and everything is fact based, and it might be a thriller but it is set on Mars.. Oh well..

Back to the review, yes?

The Martian is quite the unique novel. It a survival story but on another planet and has quite a bit of humour in it. The book follows Mark Watney as he tries to survive on Mars after his team thought he was dead due to a sandstorm. He tries to survive using the resources available on the planet and find a way back home.

The story is told to us in the form of log entries and it’s like Mark Watney is, himself, telling us the story of his survival. I really liked this approach to the story telling, rather than the regular kind. It added that extra layer of realism to The Martian. You can see that Andy Weir has worked hard on this book with all the research. Its mainly for that reason that i found it difficult ti classify this book into a particular genre.

The characterization of Mark was amazing. The dialogues and the wit were superb. Though, the secondary characters could use a little touching up because, to me, some of them felt…dry. Towards the end, the book has you at the edge of the seat (or bed, or..whatever or wherever you sit while reading this). You root for Mark and you feel for him. In the first few chapters, Weir gets us emotionally invested in the character. Weir’s writing style is very easy to read and the tech-talk doesn’t bore the reader.

The Martian has elements for the hardcore readers as well as those casual ones. This is definitely one of my favourite books in the year!

 

Side Note: I am scared for the movie adaptation because Matt Damon has been cast as Mark Watney and personally, I don’t think Damon can pull the role off. But we’ll know in 2015.. 

Final Verdict: 

9/10

Here’s another quote:

“It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.”

10
Aug

Movie Review: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Groot: WE. ARE. GROOT.

Director:

James Gunn

Producer:

Kevin Feige

Screenplay:

James Gunn, Nicole Perlman

Cast:

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill / Star-Lord

Zoe Saldana as Gamora

Dave Bautista as  Drax the Destroyer

Vin Diesel as Groot

Bradley Cooper as Rocket

Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser

Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta

Karen Gillan as Nebula

Djimon Hounsou as Korath

John C. Reilly as Corpsman Rhomann Dey

Glenn Close as Nova Prime Irani Rael

Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan / The Collector

Josh Brolin as Thanos

Ophelia Lovibond as Carina

Peter Serafinowicz as Denarian Garthan Saal

Based on Guardians of the Galaxy  by Dan Abnett Andy Lanning

Music:

Tyler Bates

Review:

I was very excited when I heard that this was being adapted to the big screen and I had high expectations. So, when I saw the movie yesterday, I was blown away by its’s sheer awesomeness.

Guardians of the Galaxy is about a group of misfits and outlaws –  A thief, an Assassin, a talking tree, a genetically engineered raccoon and a mercenary. Quill discovers an Orb with the Infinity Stone that is wanted by Thanos and Ronan and is on the run from assassins who want the orb for Ronan. There is also a bounty on him by Yondu, whom he had betrayed for the orb. To collect the bounty, Rocket and Groot try to kidnap Quill while Gamora does the same but for Ronan. In the end, they are all taken to prison where they team up and try to save the galaxy.

The movie makes you emotionally invested in the character from the very beginning. Its hard not to feel for Quill after that. We also get mentions of each character’s origin story and that all that is needed, I guess. In fact, you are emotionally invested in each of the characters from the very moment they are introduced.

The casting couldn’t have been more perfect. Chris Pratt was amazing as Star-Lord and going through the list of other actors who auditioned for the role, I just can’t see any of them as Star-Lord. Pratt has the dumb, dickish air about him and is, in ways, similar to his Parks and Rec role. Zoe Saldana is one of my favourite actresses and she was amazing as Gamora! I was a bit apprehensive about Dave Bautista as Drax, though. But when I saw the trailers and the actual movie, I realised he, too, was perfect for the role. Unlike others of his kind, Dave can actually act and his comic timing is great! Vin Diesel might have had only 4 words in total ( “I”  “We” “Am” and “Groot”) but he won all of our hearts with those few words. And Rocket. Rocket is hilarious and amazing. Bradley Cooper does an amazing job with the voice. Lee Pace looked nearly unrecognisable, as Ronan was an amazing baddie. Karen has very few scenes in the movie, but whenever she graced our screens, she was superb.

The visual effects in the movie are stunning, Groot looked amazing, Rocket looked real, Thanos looked scary! The music, especially the 70’s and 80’s tracks in the Awesome Mix Vol. 1 were just a joy to listen to and fit in perfectly with the numerous other 70’s and 80’s references. The story and the dialogue were superb and the characterisation of each was brilliant.

Certain scenes that need to be mentioned – Peter Quill’s dance-off with Ronan was hilarious and enjoyable and didn’t even feel out of place. The Dancing Groot was perhaps the cutest and best scene in the whole movie! Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have a toy that does that!

Guardians of the Galaxy is the best movie marvel has given us. This movie is what other marvel movies wish to be. In short, the movie was PERFECT. 

Final Verdict:

10/10

 

7
Aug

Movie Review: “Lucy”

Director:

Luc Besson

Producer:

Virginie Silla

Writer:

Luc Besson

Cast:

Scarlett Johansson as Lucy

Morgan Freeman as Professor Samuel Norman

Choi Min-sik as Jang

Amr Waked as Del Rio

Pilou Asbaek

Mason Lee

Analeigh Tipton

Music:

Éric Serra

Review:

Lucy was a movie I was very excited to see for a few reasons. One, it was Sci-Fi and action. Two, because it starred Scarlett Johannason and Morgan Freeman. The trailers made it look really good. But unfortunately, the movie was a bug disappointment.
The movie follows a twenty-something girl named Lucy living and studying in Taipei who is tricked into becoming a drug mule. But the tables are turned when the drug leaks into her body and allows her to access more than 10% of her brain. She starts off using this to take revenge against her captors.
The second half of the film sees her trying to bring in the others who have been used as mules and extract the drug from them so that she can use it for her self and then she will be able to access 100% of her brain to help Professor Samuel in his research.
The first part has some really good action scenes and was pretty interesting. But the second seemed to lack logic and was just very boring. In the end, (SPOILER ALERT) she downloads all her knowledge into a small pendrive.
The movie had some weird scenes towards the end, which reminded me of the final twenty minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The acting wasn’t too great either. But the music by Éric Serra was really really good, and it’s a shame that the movie couldn’t match up the music. I really loved that Mozart’s Requiem was used in the movie. I had high expectations from this and sadly this turned out to be a sub-par film..

Final Verdict: 

5/10

2
Aug

Book Review: “Kafka On The Shore”

“Chance encounters is what keeps us going.”

Author:

Haruki Murakami

Translator:

Philip Gabriel

Published on: 

January 2005

Review:

I haven’t read many Murakami books, and the reason I read this was my Book Club. It was my final book club, and I wanted to take part so I read the book. The other Murkami book I had read was 1Q84, and that was a tedious read. Not because it was boring but because of the length. Kafka on the Shore was not only different in terns of the choice of the protagonist, but also the speed and the character development. 

The book follows Kafka who is trying to escape his father and an Oedipus Curse; one, which his father said, would come true no matter what. The curse states that Kafka would kill his father, sleep with his sister and fall in love with his mother. But his mother had left him when he was very young taking his adopted sister with her. In parallel, we see Nakata (who isn’t very bright) who can talk to cats. While searching for a cat, he is forced to kill a man who is murdering cats to make a flute out of their souls. Because of which, Nakata, too, has to run away. 

The two leads have very interesting and amazing supporting characters. Oshima was mysterious from the beginning and when he speaks, you just want to listen closely. Hoshino, is fun to be around and the way he takes care of Nakata is something you don’t see too often. He is patient and kind and develops into a better person. 

Without divulging much of the story, I must say that this is one helluva book, a book that’ll keep you engaged and give you more questions than the answers. Murakami’s writing style is poetic and lyrical and it has this flow to it. Even translated into English, it retains the same beauty. There are a million of unanswered riddles. Its tough to grasp it on the first reading, but you enjoy it nonetheless. It is one of those books you keep coming back to to understand and learn something new upon every reading

Final Verdict:

8.5/10

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