Re-Read: Sabriel (Garth Nix)

Sabriel is the first book in The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix.

Plot:
A large wall separates the Old Kingdom from Ancelstierre. But it’s more than just a geographical separation: there is magic in the Olde Kingdom, Ancelstierre on the other hand relies on technology. Sabriel is from the Old Kingdom but goes to school just south of the wall in Ancelstierre because her father wanted to make sure she was safe. In the Old Kingdom she wouldn’t have been since her father is the Abhorsen: a necromancer charged with making sure that the dead stay dead. But then the Abhorsen goes missing and it is down to Sabriel to find him before the dead overrun both countries.

I had been meaning to re-read the entire series for a while, but when it was announced that a prequel was about to be published, I had to re-read it immediately. Sometimes I just make really good decisions because Sabriel is still as awesome as I remember it to be.

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Sequel/Prequel to: Sin City
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Josh BrolinEva Green, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Christopher MeloniJeremy PivenChristopher Lloyd, Juno TempleStacy KeachMarton Csokas, Jamie Chung, Julia GarnerJaime King, Lady Gaga, Bruce Willis

Plot [with SPOILERS for the first film]:
Basin City is called Sin City for a reason. A town full of crooked politicians, even more crooked cops, murderers, sex workers and pretty much everyone who was thrown out everywhere else. Marv (Mickey Rourke) spends most of his time when he isn’t fighting with somebody in a strip club where Nancy (Jessica Alba) dances. Nancy is still hung up on Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) suicide to save her and tries to kill Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) who is to blame and regularly plays poker at her club. He always wins, of course, until Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shows up. But the Senator can’t have people beating him. Dwight (Josh Brolin) is also at the strip club a lot. He is still obsessed with his ex Ava (Eva Green) who suddenly shows up in his life again and severely disrupting it in the process. Now he needs Marv’s help.

I couldn’t tell you what the difference was between the first film and the second since it looks equally great, has an equally good cast and tells equally problematic stories. But in Sin City everything works. In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For I spent very long stretches feeling very bored.

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Re-Watch: Sin City (2005)

Sin City
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, (Quentin Tarantino)
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Jessica AlbaElijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Powers Boothe, Michael Clarke DuncanRutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, Devon AokiJosh Hartnett, Alexis BledelJaime King, Carla Gugino, Brittany Murphy, Nick Offerman, Nick Stahl

Plot:
Basin City is called Sin City for a reason. A town full of crooked politicians, even more crooked cops, murderers, sex workers and pretty much everyone who was thrown out everywhere else. After the last good cop Hartigan (Bruce Willis) saved Nancy (Jessica Alba) from a pedophile and Senator’s son (Nick Stahl), he had to take the fall for it. But now he is out of prison and full of worry for Nancy’s continued safety. Nancy works as a stripper in a local club. At that same club, Shelly (Brittany Murphy) works as a waitress and she’s freshly in love with Dwight (Clive Owen). But her ex Jackie (Benicio Del Toro) is not done with her yet and Dwight suddenly finds himself in over his head in the part of town run by the sex workers. One of them (Jaime King) was just murdered – while Marv (Mickey Rourke) slept next to her no less. Now Marv is determined to find her killer and to exact vengeance.

I remember when I first saw Sin City – I was completely blown away by it (back then I was also a rather unaware baby-feminist, so I barely noticed the incredible sexism). Now I look at it with a more critical eye, but it’s still an awesome film.

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If I Stay (2014)

If I Stay
Director: R.J. Cutler
Writer: Shauna Cross
Based on: Gayle Forman‘s novel
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Jamie Blackley, Mireille Enos, Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato, Stacy Keach, Gabrielle Rose, Jakob Davies, Ali Milner, Aisha Hinds

Plot:
Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz) is waiting for her college acceptance letter. Quite anxiously. Her family (Mireille Enos, Joshua Leonard, Jakob Davies) try to get her mind of it by taking her to her grandparents’ place. But on the way there, they all have an accident and Mia finds herself floating outside of her body, seeing her parents die and her brother barely alive either. Soon she realizes that she has to decide: does she want to stay alive, where things are complicated – especially with her boyfriend Adam (Jamie Blackley) and the loss of her family – or does she want to let go?

If you’re not careful, If I Stay will land you in a diabetic coma. It pulls on all the heartstring with full force and is equally effective and ridiculous with it.

ifistay

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A Most Wanted Man (2014)

A Most Wanted Man
Director: Anton Corbijn
Writer: Andrew Bovell
Based on: John le Carré’s novel
Cast: Philip Seymour HoffmanGrigoriy DobryginRachel McAdams, Nina Hoss, Daniel Brühl, Kostja Ullmann, Rainer Bock, Herbert Grönemeyer, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, Homayoun Ershadi

Plot:
Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) works for German intelligence. His current obsession is proving that charitable muslim Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi) is not quite as good as people think he is. He sees his chance when a young Russian/Chechnyan fugitive arrives in Hamburg. Issa (Grigoriy Dobrygin) has experienced awful things but he also brings with him a huge inheritance from his politically less than sound father. But first Bachmann has to gain access to the money and connect it to Abdullah, all while the American intelligence and most of the German intelligence has different plans than him.

I knew that I couldn’t resist watching something with that cast, but honestly Corbijn and me, we’ll probably never hit it off. That is also the case in this film which was boring, confusing and generally frustrating.

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This Is Where I Leave You (2014)

This Is Where I Leave You
Director: Shawn Levy
Writer: Jonathan Tropper
Based on: Jonathan Tropper‘s novel
Cast: Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Corey Stoll, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Jane Fonda, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Debra Monk, Abigail SpencerBen Schwartz

Plot:
Judd (Jason Bateman) is not in a good place in a moment. He just found out that his wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer) cheated on him with his boss Wade (Dax Shepard) and then he gets the message that his father died. So Judd returns home for the funeral where he sees his siblings Phillip, Paul and Wendy (Adam Driver, Corey Stoll, Tina Fey), and his mother Hillary (Jane Fonda) as well, of course. They don’t spend much time together and that’s for a reason. So when Hillary reveals that it was his father’s dying wish that they sit shiva together, more than just a little tension boils to the surface.

This Is Where I Leave You was mostly enjoyable but a little uneven all around. Some things were great about it, other things annoyed me a whole lot.

thisiswherileaveyou

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Bronenosets Potemkin [Battleship Potemkin] (1925) + Michael Nyman Band

Bronenosets Potemkin
Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Writer: Nina Agadzhanova
Cast: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky, Grigori Aleksandrov
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by: Michael Nyman, played by the Michael Nyman Band

Plot:
There’s trouble brewing on the Battleship Potemkin. The Crew is far from happy with their leadership and the conditions they have to work in. Soon discontent grows into outright rebellion – a rebellion that grows even past the ship and onto the mainland.

I had never seen the film before and practically all I knew going in was that it was an absolute classic and that it featured a famous scene with a baby carriage. In any case, it was a great film, though I’m less sure about Nyman’s accompanying music.

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The Maze Runner (2014)

The Maze Runner
Director: Wes Ball
Writer: Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, T.S. Nowlin
Based on: James Dashner’s novel
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Aml Ameen, Blake Cooper, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson

Plot:
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) finds himself among a group of other teenage boys in the middle of a maze. He has no memories of his previous life and no idea why he or the other boys are in the maze in the first place – none of them do. But they try their best to solve it and get out of there. But the maze is a dangerous, even deadly place and despite their best attempts to map it, they haven’t been successful so far. And then a mostly unconscious girl (Kaya Scodelario) is delivered to them, causing further confusion.

I was less than enthusiastic about the book and I am not sure whether I was even less enthusiastic about the film, or just equally unimpressed. In any case I was glad I won tickets and didn’t spend any money for it.

themazerunner

[SPOILERS]

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Re-Read: Horns (Joe Hill)

Horns is Joe Hill‘s second novel. [Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
A year ago, Ig had it all: a nice girlfriend, a good family, a great best friend and he was about to get the job he always dreamt about. And then his girlfriend, Merrin, gets raped and murdered – and Ig is the only suspect. Bit by bit, his life and he himself fall apart.
The day after the anniversary of Merrin’s death, Ig wakes up with the worst hangover of his life – and horns growing out of his head. While Ig still wonders whether the horns are really there or not, he notices that they have an effect on people: They tell him all their darkest secrets and lowest impulses. Soon Ig decides that he will use the horns to finally learn the identity of Merrin’s killer.

Even on re-reading, Horns is a compulsive read that tells an interesting, layered story where probably most people will find something that interests them.

joehillhorns

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Riding the Bullet (2004)

Riding the Bullet
Director: Mick Garris
Writer: Mick Garris
Based on: Stephen King‘s novella
Cast: Jonathan Jackson, David Arquette, Barbara Hershey, Matt Frewer, Erika Christensen

Plot:
After his girlfriend Jessica (Erika Christensen) pretends to break up with him to surprise him with his birthday party, art student Alan (Jonathan Jackson) tries to commit suicide and is only stopped by the arrival of said surprise guests. When he leaves the hospital, things don’t get much better: instead of going to the John Lennon concert Jessica got him tickets for, Alan is informed that his mother (Barbara Hershey) had a stroke and is in the hospital. Alan decides to hike back home to visit her, but the night he spends on the road is more than a little off.

I rather liked Riding the Bullet. It’s certainly not the best at anything, but it does  have some nice visuals and a very decent cast.

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