The Fifth Elephant (Terry Pratchett)

The Fifth Elephant is the fifth of the Discworld novels about the City Watch by Terry Pratchett [reviews of the others here].

Plot:
Sam Vimes gets send to Überwald on a diplomatic mission by the Patrician. Überwald is the home of the dwarfs, the vampires and the werewolves. Things are brewing in Überwald – a new dwarf Low King is about to be throned, the werewolves are planning something and Angua and Carrot get mixed up in all of this as well.

I liked the Fifth Elephant – Sam Vimes as a diplomat is always an awesome sight. Though I don’t think that it’s the best book in the series, it’s not the worst either. Getting a look at society in Überwald was also really cool.

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Manic Monday #182 – Meme Monday

(taken from here)

Would you be willing to have horrible nightmares every night for a year if you would be rewarded with extraordinary wealth?
As I really very rarely remember my dreams*, definitely. :) If part of the condition was that I had to remember the nightmares, I’d probably still do it. I have faith in my coping mechanisms.

What was the most recent movie that made you cry?
Not a movie, but I cried during the Waters of Mars episode of Doctor Who.

Would you rather be stranded on an island alone or with someone you hate?
Alone. I have no problem with being alone but I usually hate people because they don’t leave me enough space and on an island that could really be a problem.

*Speaking of which: a few weeks ago I dreamed that I was in Johnny Depp’s house to interview him. He was most charming and had pictures of musicians everywhere. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you any news since I don’t remember doing the actual interview.

Best Served Cold (Joe Abercrombie)

Best Served Cold is a stand-alone novel set in the same world as (and after the events of) The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. [Reviews of the trilogy here.]

Plot:
Grand Duke Orso has been waging a war against the League of Eight in Styria for years. His biggest asset in this war is Monza Murcatto who might well be the best strategist and warrior around. But Monza is getting to popular for his taste so he decides to kill her and her brother. Unfortunately for him, Monza survives – and wants nothing but revenge. So, she gathers a group of followers (some of which we know from the previous books) and she goes after the people who betrayed her.

Best Served Cold is another excellent addition to this universe (and oh my goodness, I have to wait until summer next year until something else by Abercrombie hits the shelves? *sobsduringpreorder*). The characters feel very real, the prose is good and the story exciting. If only all books could be like that!

Still beautiful. Much more beautiful than the US version.

[SPOILERS]

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Restoration of Faith (Jim Butcher)

Restoration of Faith is a short story by Jim Butcher. It’s a prequel to the Dresden Files. You can read it here.

Plot:
Harry Dresden is a wizard and P.I who specialise on looking for kid. When he and his mentor/employer Nick have to find a young girl who presumably ran away, they quickly get more than they bargained for: the kid herself being just the beginning.

Restoration of Faith is a funny and quick read, a nice introduction to the series and – I think – a pretty good measurement whether you’re going to like it (although I have to admit that part one – I’m in the middle of it right now – is a little darker and grittier than this short story). It’s a nice mixture of noir and fantasy and I do like Harry. Looking forward to reading more.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

[Somehow this film, too, slipped through the cracks in my trying to get this blog up to speed. I saw it in July, I think.]

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the 6th movie in the Harry Potter series based on J.K. Rowling‘s book of the same name. It was directed by David Yates and stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael GambonAlan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, David Thewlis and Jim Broadbent.

[SPOILERS for the WHOLE SERIES after this point.]

Plot:
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is in his sixth year at Hogwarts (school for wizadry). He finds a mysterious book that belonged to the half-blood prince and the notes in it help him star in Prof. Slughorn’s (Jim Broadbent) potion class. At the same time he works together with Prof. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) to find out more about Lord Voldemort and his weaknesses.

The Half-Blood Prince is definitely the weakest of all the Potter movies so far. The plot’s all over the place, things happen you can only understand if you’ve read the books and HOLY SHIT! they spoil the seventh book/movie. What the hell?

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Che: Part One (2008)

[Somehow this film slipped through the cracks in my trying to get this blog up to speed. I saw it in August or something like that.]

Che: Part One is – surprise! – the first part of a two-part biography of Che Guevara by Steven Soderbergh, starring Benicio del Toro.

Plot:
Che Guevara (Benicio del Toro) is a young Argentinian doctor who meets revolutionary thinker Fidel Castro (Demián Bichir). Together they build a guerilla troup of supporters for their cause: to free Cuba from US-friendly dictator Fulgencio Batista.

The acting was very good and the movie was beautifully shot but unfortunately it was also so very boring… And it was damn confusing for people like me who didn’t know the story perfectly already. [I know much of what was going on, but not in any depth.] That’s why I didn’t even bother to watch the second part, despite my admiration of Benicio del Toro.

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Tanz der Vampire (Dance of the Vampires)

Dance of the Vampires is a musical based on the Roman Polanski movie of the same name. It was written by Jim Steinman (music) and Michael Kunze (book).

Plot:
Professor Abronsius (Gernot Kranner) travels with his young assistant Alfred (Lukas Perman) to find Vampires. They end up in a remote village, which is strangely obsessed with garlic. They stay at the inn, where Alfred falls in love with Sarah (Marjan Shaki). Sarah likes him, too, but her heart is set on bigger things. Therefore she isn’t really unhappy from the attention she gets from the mysterious Graf von Krolock (Thomas Borchert). And things only go downhill from there.

Dance of the Vampires is an awesome mix of comedy and kitsch – it doesn’t play with all the Vampire stereotypes, it revels in them. The music is awesome (even if mostly recycled from previous Steinman works) and this particular production isn’t bad either.

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Video Vriday

Since we talked about German Hip Hop last week, I though I’d continue the theme.

Freundeskreis – Esperanto

I love this video, though it’s not my favourite song by Freundeskreis. The youtube description says it all:

Nine designers worked on the lavish mixture of styles for the Stuttgart band “Freundeskreis” – producing a four-minute animation in a record-breaking two weeks.

Funny Games (1997 and 2007)

Funny Games is an Austrian movie by writer/director Michael Haneke starring Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, Arno Frisch and Frank Giering which he then remade shot for shot ten years later with Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet.

Plot:
A well-off family travels to their weekend getaway at the shore of a lake. While the father Georg(e) [Ulrich Mühe/Tim Roth] and the son get the boat ready, the mother Ann(a) [Susanne Lothar/Naomi Watts] stays in the house to prepare dinner. Suddenly a young man, Peter, [Frank Giering/Brady Corbet] comes from the neighbour’s house to ask for some eggs. He’s joined by another young man, Paul, [Arno Frisch/Michael Pitt] and while both of them are very polite, things become threatening really quickly. When the father and the son return to the house, Peter and Paul take the whole family hostage to play “games” with them.

Both movies are heavy cost – a thorough and deep analysis of violence in movies and what it does to the viewer. Haneke uses the horror genre conventions to hammer home a point – and hammer it he does. This is no subtle pointer that maybe violence in movies is not such a good thing but a huge, blinking neon sign that screams about the depravity of the average movie consumer.

[SPOILERS]

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