nedeľa, 8. júla 2012

50 Shades of Grey



More like '50 Shades of Predictable and Repetitive Narration Full of Unlikeable Characters and Badly Written Sex'. Now, my version of the title may not be marketing gold, but at least it sums up the book’s content pretty accurately.

It boggles my mind that badly written books are becoming bestsellers (hi there, Twilight) while books with real, loveable characters and strong plot often sit on the shelves without notice. And speaking of Twilight… 50 Shades of Grey is in fact Twilight, only without vampires and with more ‘kink’.

The similarities between the characters are hard to miss, unless you lost common sense and both your eyeballs. The main character, Anastasia Steele is clumsy (falls flat on her face right at the beginning of the book), misogynist of a student who has never been in love nor had a crush on a guy, even though she’s at a university and is 21. I’m just going to assume she’s lived in a nunnery until now because surely, she would have liked at least one guy.

Obviously, she’s really hot (though she fails to notice) and all the guys she comes in contact with are instantly dazzled, such as her friend Jose whom she finds hot but doesn’t want to date (cough, Jacob, cough). The character, very much like Bella Swan, is the epitome of a Mary Sue.

The first time she meets the love interest Christian Grey, she’s nothing but rude and offensive and hasn’t even managed to do a quick Google search before interviewing him. Despite this, he seems taken with her. Why, I have no idea.

Now, she was conned into interviewing him by her friend Kate, but surely she has enough brain cells to do a five minute recon on the guy to avoid being embarrassed by her lack of basic knowledge. She hasn’t proven herself to be witty, funny or particularly intelligent or even done her homework prior to meeting him, yet this young, filthy rich, beautiful man (as the author reminds us at every opportunity) is practically offering her a job. I thought published stories were supposed to be plausible. My bad.

We're told numerous times that Anastasia is special but the author fails to prove it through action instead of words. All I see is two cripplingly insecure people who are screwed in the head and have personalities of gnats. Now that I think about it, they deserve each other.

Christian is an obsessive stalker who pops up at the most random places where Anastasia happens to be too. What a coincidence, right?! Not only that, he also repeatedly threatens her with bodily harm. That should have ticked her off. It would have if she had any self-respect. Ah, well. Edward Christian is 'oh my, so hot' that he can't possibly be evil. Riiight.


They eventually start to hump like horny rabbits after a long draught of celibacy and miraculously, the virginal Anastasia turns into a sexual beast and a porn-like pro in an instant (very likely, I know). Not to mention it literally takes a few touches for her to get a multiple orgasm. That Christian must be really good. That, or the author just likes to embellish. A lot.

The entire story consists of her mulling over whether she should let him hit her and then letting him hit her while the more than a little psychotic Christian thinks that he probably shouldn’t be hitting her but does it anyway. What a healthy relationship!

I’ve read the beginning and skimmed the rest because I couldn’t wade through it all to save my life. But if you’re expecting a read that delves deep into psychology behind BDSM or at least characters who feel real and refrain from repeating their thoughts a hundred times, you’ll be disappointed. 


The author even admitted she knows nothing of BDSM, yet she makes a (poor) attempt at integrating the elements of it in the story. Hey, why don't I just write a medical book? It's not like you need to know anything these days as long as you create a big enough hype. Because let's be honest, hype is all there is.


There are thousands of fan fics better written than this and the sex is neither erotic nor originally written. Actually, it's not unlike watching the paint dry. All it did was make me question publishers and readers who got it to the bestseller list. Cheers for supporting this 'women love to be victims' drivel sparked by Twilight. That doesn't set us back a century or anything.

pondelok, 6. februára 2012

Why ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ Is My Number One Favourite


1. James Dean in the leading role.



2. The characters’ vulnerabilities have a timeless quality that even people of our generation can relate to.

3. The chemistry between James Dean (playing Jim Stark) and Sal Mineo (playing John ‘Plato’ Crawford) keeps you riveted to the screen. There’s a feeling of longing bordering on obsession every time Plato gazes at Jim that leaves you slightly uncomfortable. And the ability to make a viewer unsettled is, in my opinion, one of the signs that the movie you’ve watched is great. After all, isn’t art supposed to crawl under your skin?

4. The reversal of traditional roles. I was surprised to see this in a movie made in 1955 as my image of this era is a husband yelling, ‘Bring me a God damn sandwich, woman.’

The reversal is particularly poignant when we see Jim’s father Frank dressed in his wife’s apron, scooping up the food he’d dropped on the floor when he was carrying it to his wife Carol. Frank’s weakness and his inability to stand up to Carol is the point of frustration for Jim who just wants his father to grow a pair.

5. The interaction between the three main characters Jim, Plato and Judy feels natural and is entertaining to watch.

6. Vintage cars and 1950’s fashion that I was personally very chuffed to see.

7. The ending made my heart ache. Being the masochist that I am, I liked it.

8. Let’s not forget the most important thing… James Dean. Yes, this point is important enough that it has to be mentioned twice. There never was and never will be anyone like him ever again, though I admit some come fairly close.

He doesn’t have to speak to tell you a story. All he needs to deliver a line is his expression alone. And despite not being six feet tall or having the body of a guy who spends hours slaving away at a gym, he still manages to have the biggest dose of sex appeal I’ve seen on screen.

utorok, 31. januára 2012

Hanna


I was reluctant to watch this after reading the brief summary of the plot on IMDB. With words like ‘assassin’, ‘mission’ or ‘intelligence agent’, it sounded a bit soulless. The thought of watching over 100 minutes of explosions and gunshots, without a lick of something tangible turned me off. Five minutes in, I was hooked.

Hanna is not what it seems upon the first glance. It’s a story about a sixteen-year-old girl that lives on the periphery of the world devoid of comforts, trained by her father Erik to kill, to learn the cold hard facts of how the gears of the world turn, yet completely unaware of what it’s actually like. Sounds just like high school, only without the killing part (I hope).

Her only goal in life is to kill her mother’s murderer and it’s her decision to push the switch and leave the remote forest in order to enter the world filled with things she’d ever only read about in a book, like music and people and electricity. I thought Saoirse Ronan who played Hanna was fascinating to watch as she melded deadliness and innocence of her character.

What particularly resonated with me was the connection Hanna found in a girl named Sophie. The contrast between the two characters was both poignant and amusing to watch as Sophie presented the opposite with her constant chattiness and girly tendencies. The scene where they talk hidden under the sheets with a night light on was probably the most touching in the entire movie.

The plot strides onwards as Hanna constantly evades men hired to kill her due to her ‘special heritage’. The attacks are instigated by Marissa, the intelligence agent stunningly played by Cate Blanchett. Funny how Hanna, the assassin whose DNA sets her up to be ruthless is so much more human than Marissa.

The movie spirals down to a tension filled sequences where both Hanna’s and her father’s lives hang on by a thread. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I do recommend you to watch it. The acting is superb, the scenery is beautiful and personally, I was left with a feeling of wanting to see more, which is always a sign of a good movie.

piatok, 20. mája 2011

Random Rant #1: Being Single

Today, someone asked me, “When are you going to get a boyfriend?” I could write up a list of the reasons this question irritated the hell out of me. And if I knew that person well enough to give them my honest reply, I would have.

Why do people automatically assume anyone single is in desperate need of terminating this status? Someone should yank those rose tinted goggles off their eyes. Heaven forbid a single person could actually be happy being single rather than sit home and wallow in their un-relationship induced depression.

Some people mistakenly assume that only those in relationships can be happy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t happiness achieved with much more difficulty if you have happiness of someone else in your hands as well as your own?

So yeah, instead of skimpily weaving my way through alcohol induced party goers to snatch someone up, I’d rather go do work experience in a magazine or go out with my friends to have coffee. Perhaps have fun at a rock concert.

The idea of my future isn’t built upon slapping the shackles of marriage on a man and settling down with the house with picket fence and 2.5 children screaming my ears off. Instead I’d like to realize my own dreams, so I’d trade the hunt for a boyfriend for spending the night at home working on a novel any day of the week.

Sure it would be nice to share things with someone, but I resent the assumption I should have to. In my eyes, the social norm divides single women into two categories:
1) A woman is single just because she’s in between relationships and is desperate to rectify this asap.
2) She is a workaholic, ice-hearted bitch and her only goal is to climb up the success ladder.

The stigma of labeling and the social presumptions are something that makes me scoff unlike anything else. Am I single? Yes. Does that make me either of those two things? No. It just means I like the freedom of being on my own. Did I make anyone gasp at this startling revelation? I hope not.

If I happen to meet someone that matches my world views and interests, that’s great. I wouldn’t say no to such a fine specimen. If not, I’m not going to cry about it and put my best female friend as my ‘fiancée’ on Facebook just because I’m too insecure to admit I’m single. That sure is my personal pet peeve.

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know.

utorok, 26. apríla 2011

Five Things to Love About Sucker Punch

1. Hot Chicks: Yes, as a woman even I can agree that women in this movie were hot. Something guys might appreciate, unless they are gay or prefer substantial plot. And while I’m sure there are many hard core feminists out there dissing this movie, saying it’s objectifying women, I’m just going to say ‘chill out’. Not everything has to be about the war of genders and their portrayal in popular culture. I’m certainly guilty of supporting gorgeous half naked men in not finding the rest of their clothes.

2. Special Effects: I saw Sucker Punch at a cinema and I have to say, I really enjoyed the special effects on the big screen, especially because they reminded me so much of the Japanese animations or video games such as Final Fantasy. True, you knew the moment they were going to pop up, but they were amazingly done nonetheless.

3. Slow Motion Scenes: A definite trademark of the director Zack Snyder, who likes to pump up the drama with some well-placed slow motion. You could see it in Watchmen too. Perhaps it is not the most original concept but it works here quite well.

4. Plot: Yes, there is one, despite what most critics have to say about the movie. I actually liked the storyline and the various realities melding together to culminate to a senseful (I made up the word, deal with it) finale. Escape plan, child abuse and creepy asylum lobotomies, you’ll understand what really happened in the end.

5. Twist: The ending wasn’t quite as predictable so that’s a positive point for me. I hate the movies where I know from the beginning how it’s going to end more than I hate clichéd ends. Although come to think of it, the two usually go hand in hand.

sobota, 9. apríla 2011

Jersey Shore: The Gem of Postmodern Era


Amazed and touched. That’s how I feel after watching the reality show I’ve been hearing about for months and but never felt like giving it a chance. It is actually really meaningful and these people reflect the majority of our society in a believable way that makes me want to shed a tear. No, really, I am about to cry right now because the cult film Idiocracy has never been closer to becoming reality.

It’s about a house full of Guidos, which means they’re Italian or something even though they all have a very convincing American accent. Well, at least they’re good at something, right?

I don’t think I’d be able to tell them apart, so apt they’re at disguising themselves as mindless clones that simply must have been produced in a factory in Fake Italy. I believe Fake Italy is geographically shaped like a thong. Or a tan bed. Speaking of… What the hell is up with that?

There’s an over-abundance of tanned douche-bags in Jersey Shore, if you’re into that kind of thing. Apparently, one of them called Snooki is some kind of celebrity because she can’t keep her tiny hands off the booze bottles. And jell-o shots. But I am proud our society is so accepting of people who have been growth challenged. Good for her!

But let me use a quote worthy of Sophocles himself. “It takes me about 25 minutes to do my hair,” says Pauly D, whose name strangely reminds me of a green parrot. And I have to say that I applaud his genuine effort of spending 25 minutes on creating the glorious hair-helmet that strongly resembles a bowl.

It’s a sight to behold and all the scientists should herd in on the opportunity to examine the fact that the hair seems to be defying gravity. We should all look up to his inspiring self-confidence and ability to make a joke out of himself. Not everyone has the guts to go out looking like an asshole.

Here’s another gem: “My abs are so ripped up it’s called ‘the situation,’” claims Mike aka The Situation. Now, what more there is to say to that? It simply speaks for itself. So many layers, this man has. He’s like a human onion.

But let’s not forget the female residents. Apparently, one of them is ‘the sweetest bitch you’ll ever meet’. I might be wrong (no, I’m not) but isn’t that kind of an oxymoron? Or maybe I should just omit the ‘oxy’ in the word. Well, in their own words, the Jersey Shore women are classy because they have been living with the men for two whole days (TWO!!! That’s like a whole eternity, people!) and they haven’t had sex with them yet. Classy indeed.

Upon seeing this spectacular reality show, I have decided I’m never watching another episode again. I value my grey matter too much.

streda, 23. marca 2011

127 Hours

Directed by Slumdog Millionaire’s Danny Boyle, 127 Hours is a movie full of gut wrenching, awe inspiring true story made flesh. 127 hours is how long it took the real Aron Ralston to save his own life. By cutting off his arm.

James Franco, whom I fell in love with after seeing him in Freaks and Geeks, played the main character Aron. All I can say is I can’t believe he didn’t get Oscar for the absolutely raw performance that hooked you in and wouldn’t let you go for the entire length of the movie. No, not even if you’d have to go pee.

A daredevil. That’s how I’d describe Aron after the movie introduced him, a man that even after falling from a bike at break-neck speed just brushes himself off, picks himself up and laughs it off. Humor and flirting with two lost fellow adventurers is all the more effective as an ominous prelude to the fascinatingly horrendous core of the story.

The moment Aron starts descending, you just feel something’s about go terribly wrong. A giant rock comes loose and tumbles after Aron and as he impacts with the bottom of the narrow chasm, the rock wedges in between the walls, crushing his arm between rock and a hard place.

An insane coincidence is what someone might call it. Aron Ralston considers this to be fate. He says every decision he has made, every breath he has taken, has led him here. Ever since he was born, that rock has been waiting for him to get there.

And this is where the fight for survival begins.

Aron is literally stuck, trapped in a deep, narrow crack in a vast, impenetrable mass of rock with no one around for miles. Nobody knows he’s there and he has limited amount of water and food.

I don’t recall anything making me as grateful I have a bottle of water at hand as this movie has. Sure, everyone knows what it feels like to be thirsty. Imagine running for miles and all you can think of when you close your eyes is the wet, splashing sound of water being poured into a tall glass, little drops of condensation forming on the smooth surface.

Now imagine it magnified by thousand with nothing around to quench the thirst.

It’s very much focused on close-ups, an effective way to pull you in and see every little shadow of emotion pass Aron’s face. Anger, desperation, sadness, insanity, elation, you name it, James Franco nails it with brilliant ease.

As hours trickle by, and any attempt to get loose from the rock’s hold collapses, Aron starts to realize he’s not going to survive this. He records his thoughts on a camera until it too, shuts down. Specters from his past and hallucinations start to eclipse reality more and more often as Aron nears the end of the rope.

That’s when a vision of his unborn son gives him strength to do the unimaginable.

All he has is a knife dulled by chipping away at the rock. And it’s all he can use to free himself. This part isn’t something anyone can handle without getting sick. You’ll cringe and you’ll want to look away as he breaks the bones in his arms and starts to cut through the layer of skin and muscles underneath. At the same time, you can’t.

Just as you won’t be able to stop thinking this has actually happened and Aron Rolston used a two inch knife and pliers to sever his nerves, arteries and tendons. It took him one hour. This man has pushed through the excruciating pain that would render a regular person unconscious because he had something to live for.

And then, just like that, he is free.

He stumbles back as though he can’t believe it’s happened, that he has made it. At that point I don’t think it matters that he has lost his arm. Even with a long way ahead of him to make it to the surface and get help, he didn’t give up. Instead, he did something so unconceivable and incredible I can’t help but admire his will to live.

P.S.: The clips Aron Rolston recorded while he was stuck are online on YouTube. They’re truly amazing to see after watching the movie.