Blameless (Gail Carriger)

Blameless is the third novel in the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger.
[Here are my reviews of the other books.]
Finished on: 15.8.2015

Plot:
After the shameful actions of her husband (actually suspecting her of adultery just because she’s pregnant with an impossible baby), Alexia moved back in with her parents. But considering her relationship with her mother and her stepsisters, it should comes as no surprise that things don’t actually go very well. And since Alexia has to figure out what kind of baby she’s going to have anyway (with a preternatural mother and a werewolf father – despite what he may think – that’s not that easy to answer), since she lost her job due to the social scandal resulting from the estrangement from her husband, and since the attempts on her life are increasing, it might be time for a trip. And what better thing to do than to visit the Templars who have been experimenting on preternaturals for a long time?

With Blameless, the Parasol Protecorate series continues to be increasingly enjoyable and increasingly well written. It’s thoroughly entertaining.

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Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Director: Kelly AsburyLorna Cook
Writer: John Fusco
Cast: Matt Damon, Daniel StudiJames Cromwell
Seen on: 13.08.2015

Plot:
Spirit (Matt Damon) grows up in a herd of wild horses and as he grows, he becomes their leader. But one day men, white soldiers and settlers, turn up in the horses’ territory. Spirit tries to save everyone and ends up getting captured himself and brought into a fort where the Colonel (James Cromwell) tries every trick in the book to tame him. But Spirit won’t be broken and even manages to escape with the help of native Little Creek (Daniel Studi). The Colonel doesn’t give up that easily though.

When I was a kid, I was a horse girl. I went horseback riding for many years; I read countless horse books; I nearly broke my jaw when I fell off a horse once (not the only time I fell) and decided I had to rent that particular horse permanently for a while. That’s how obsessed I was. But I was just a little old for Spirit – it came out when I was 17 and pretty much past the horse thing. But my niece has the DVD and in a moment of nostalgia, I decided to watch it. I think if I had seen it 20 years ago, I would have loved it. But now, while the horses are cute, I am not really sold on the film.

Spirit_Stallion_of_the_Cimarron

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Der Knochenmann [The Bone Man] (2009)

Der Knochenmann
Director: Wolfgang Murnberger
Writer: Wolfgang Murnberger, Josef Hader, Wolf Haas
Based on: Wolf Haas‘ novel
Sequel to: Komm, süßer Tod, Silentium
Cast: Josef Hader, Josef BierbichlerBirgit MinichmayrChristoph LuserPia HierzeggerSimon SchwarzDorka GryllusStipe ErcegIvan Shvedoff
Seen on: 13.8.2015

Plot:
Simon Brenner (Josef Hader) is getting by. With the help of Berti (Simon Schwarz) he can earn a little money by repossessing things. When Berti sends him to find a guy and his car, Brenner ends up at an inn in the middle of nowhere looking for him. The guy’s car is there, but nobody admits to knowing him. Sufficiently intrigued by circumstances and with nowhere else to go, Brenner decides to stay for a bit. Despite the foreboding presence of owner Löschenkohl (Josef Bierbichler) whose daughter in law Birgit (Birgit Minichmayr) may have something to do with Brenner’s interest. But a missing guy is only the beginning of the weird events at the Löschenkohl inn.

While the Brenner movies continue their increasing technical proficiency here, regarding plot and script Der Knochenmann is the weakest movie in the series so far.

knochenmann

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Slow West (2015)

Slow West
Director: John Maclean
Writer: John Maclean
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPheeMichael FassbenderBen MendelsohnCaren PistoriusRory McCannKalani Queypo
Seen on: 11.8.2015

Plot:
Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is on a mission: he has to find the love of his life, Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius), who has found a new home in the Wild West. Jay is all alone, which is not without dangers. When Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) stumbles upon him, he practically forces himself on Jay as a guide. Together they make the track West. But there seems to be more to the story than just simple romance and to Silas’ motivations than pure kindheartedness.

I’m not a huge fan of Westerns in general (though I do find myself starting to appreciate the genre), but quite apart from genre considerations, Slow West is a beautifully crafted, well executed film that I enjoyed a lot.

SlowWest

[SPOILERS]

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While We’re Young (2014)

While We’re Young
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Naomi Watts, Ben StillerAdam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Maria Dizzia, Adam Horovitz, Dree Hemingway, Charles Grodin, Peter Bogdanovich
Seen on: 11.8.2015

Plot:
Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) have been together for a while and are quite settled in their lives as their friends left and right start to have children. Josh gives lectures at uni and works on the same documentary he’s been working on for years, Cornelia works as a producer with her father Leslie (Charles Grodin), a famous documentary filmmaker. One day after class Josh is approached by Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried), a young hip couple. Josh is flattered by their admiration and they start to hang out together more, making both Josh and Cornelia painfully aware that they are not 20 anymore. But maybe they can change that.

While We’re Young wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I had fun for the most part, but the end did leave a weird taste in my mouth.

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Learning to Drive (2014)

Learning to Drive
Director: Isabel Coixet
Writer: Sarah Kernochan
Based on: the article by Katha Pollitt
Cast: Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley, Grace Gummer, Jake Weber, Sarita Choudhury, John Hodgman, Samantha Bee, Avi Nash
Seen on: 10.8.2015

Plot:
Wendy’s (Patricia Clarkson) husband Ted (Jake Weber) just left her, which came as a complete surprise to her. Wendy is slowly losing herself in despair, she barely has any social contacts and her daughter Tasha (Grace Gummer) works on a farm in Connecticut. But if Wendy learned how to drive, she could visit her. So when chance brings Darwan (Ben Kingsley) to her doorstep who happens to be a driving instructor, she goes for it. But it turns out that Darwan can teach her much more than just to drive.

Learning to Drive was nice, though I didn’t care for the romantic angle or for the occasional bouts of orientalism in it.

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Man Up (2015)

Man Up
Director: Ben Palmer
Writer: Tess Morris
Cast: Lake Bell, Simon Pegg, Olivia Williams, Ophelia Lovibond, Rory Kinnear, Sharon Horgan, Dean-Charles Chapman, Ken Stott
Seen on: 10.8.2015

Plot:
Nancy (Lake Bell) has made herself a promise: she’s going to put herself out there. Well, at least more than she used to, which is not at all. When Jack (Simon Pegg) mistakes her for his blind date and she feels an instant connection to him, Nancy decides to just go for it. They spend a great date with each other, but Jack is bound to find out that Nancy isn’t actually Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond) – and what then?

Man Up was sweet and funny and exactly what you’d expect and want it to be: a RomCom of the best kind with perfect leads.

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Magic Mike XXL (2015)

Magic Mike XXL
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Writer: Reid Carolin
Sequel to: Magic Mike
Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Kevin NashMatt Bomer, Gabriel Iglesias, Adam Rodriguez, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett SmithDonald GloverStephen Boss, Andie MacDowell, Elizabeth Banks
Seen on: 8.8.2015

Plot:
Mike (Channing Tatum) is hard at work, trying to get his construction business off the ground. But so far, it hasn’t quite paid off. When he is visited by his former stripper colleagues Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tarzan (Keven Nash), Ken (Matt Bomer) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez), he first declines their invitation to come to Stripper Con to make one big, last splash in the business. But he finally does give in and they are on their way. But one difficulty after the other hits their road trip and since they are all out of money, fortunately most of their problems can be solved by dancing.

Every once in a while, Magic Mike XXL has moments where it is exactly the film I wanted it to be. Unfortunately, for the most part it consists of dreary dialogue scenes and has some of the worst pacing I’ve ever seen in a film.

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Paper Towns (2015)

Paper Towns
Director: Jake Schreier
Writer: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Based on: John Green‘s novel
Cast: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, Jaz Sinclair, Jay Duplass, Ansel Elgort
Seen on: 6.8.2015

Plot:
Quentin (Nat Wolff) has been in love with Margo (Cara Delevingne) since she moved in across the street. They were friends for a while, but now nearing the end of high school, they both move in different circles now. Then one night, Margo climbs into Q’s bedroom and takes him and his car on a revenge trip against her ex-boyfriend. Q is exhilarated and has hopes for Margo again. But then she is gone, run away from home as she has several times before. But Q finds clues she’s left where she might have gone to and decides to go on a roadtrip with his best friends Radar (Justice Smith) and Ben (Austin Abrams) to find her.

If this wasn’t based on a book by John Green, I probably wouldn’t have seen it at all. But since it is, I had hopes that the wouldn’t play the manic pixie dream girl trope quite as straight as the trailer suggested. I was correct in thinking that, although they don’t manage a complete subversion of the trope. But at least it’s entertaining and sweet and it tries.

Paper_Towns

[SPOILER]

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Oscar Wilde and the Ring of Death (Gyles Brandreth)

Oscar Wilde and the Ring of Death is the second novel in the Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries, a series of books about Oscar Wilde as a Sherlock-Holmesian detective by Gyles Brandreth.
[Here’s my review of the first book.]
Finished on: 6.8.2015

Plot:
Robert Sherard tells the story of how Oscar Wilde invites a bunch of people to a dinner (among them  Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, E.W. Hornung, Alfred Douglas aka Bosie, his brother Francis Douglas, and Charles Brookfield), where they play a game of “murder”: every person should name one person they would murder if they got the chance. After the dinner, the people on the list start dying one by one in the exact same sequence. That gives Oscar Wilde a tight time frame to find the murderer among his guests – before his own name comes up.

Oscar Wilde and the Ring of Death was an entertaining read and a definite improvement on the first novel. I enjoyed it.

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