Gods and Demons (Melissa Sercia)

Gods and Demons is the third novel in the Blood and Darkness Series by Melissa Sercia.
Finished on: 29.1.2019
[Here are my reviews of the first two novels.]
[I won this book in a librarything Early Reviewer give-away.]

Demons have escaped the Underworld and threaten New Orleans. It’s up to Gray to get rid of them – or accept the destruction of the human world. Gray knows that she can’t do it alone. She has to invoke the Hades Protocol, calling the Gods themselves for help. But a God’s help doesn’t come without its price – and there are forces that would like to see the world destroyed in any case.

Gods and Demons is again an improvement compared to the other two novels of the series, but its still far from being good enough for me to really like it. I’m pretty glad that I have reached the end of the series (for now, at least) and don’t think I’ll continue reading it should Sercia choose to continue.

The book cover showing a dark-haired woman with two glowing swords.
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Jane, Unlimited (Kristin Cashore)

Jane, Unlimited is a novel by Kristin Cashore.
Finished on: 26.1.2019

Jane was raised by her Aunt Magnolia, a deep sea photographer. But Magnolia has gone missing on her last field trip in the Antarctic, and now Jane is at a loss. She has recently finished school and dreams of designing umbrellas as art. When new acquaintance Krian invites Jane to visit her family’s estate Tu Reviens, Jane recalls Magnolia making her promise that if she ever received an invitation to Tu Reviens, she’d go. With nothing holding her back, Jane packs her things and goes. But what waits for her there, she could have never predicted.

I’m a big fan of Cashore’s Graceling Realm novels, so I was curious to read Jane, Unlimited, the first thing she published that isn’t connected to that world. Would I love it as much as those novels? The answer is, yes. Holy shit, yes. Jane, Unlimited became an instant favorite.

The book cover showing an abstract design in metallic-purple shininess.

Slight SPOILERS follow. If you want to go entirely unprepared, just know that I loved the book and you should read it.

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Glass (2019)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Sequel to: Unbreakable, Split
Cast: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, Luke Kirby, Adam David Thompson, M. Night Shyamalan
Seen on: 24.1.2019

Content Note: ableism/saneism

After abducting several girls, Kevin Crumb (James McAvoy) is on the run, but security guard slash vigilante David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is on his tail. When David catches up with Kevin, they are both apprehended by the police. They are both brought to an institution where Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who was caught by Dunn 20 years earlier, is also housed. All three of them are attended by psychiatrist Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) who tries to show them that they aren’t actually superpowered, but psychotic. But there is also something else going on, something that could threaten everything.

I didn’t expect much of Glass but it managed to not even fulfill those meager expectations. It’s a nonsensical, ableist mess that’s not even fun.

The film poster showing Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), Kevin Crumb (James McAvoy) and David Dunn (Bruce Willis). They are sitting next to each other, but their reflections on the floor are standing tall, looking like villains.
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Manbiki kazoku [Shoplifters] (2018)

Manbiki kazoku
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Writer: Hirokazu Koreeda
Cast: Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Kirin Kiki, Mayu Matsuoka, Jyo Kairi, Miyu Sasaki
Seen on: 23.1.2019

Content Note: child abuse

The Shibata family – mother Nobuyo (Ando Sakura), father Osamu (Franky Lily), son Shota (Jyo Kairi), daughter Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) and grandmother Hatsue (Kirin Kiki) all live in Hatsue’s small apartment, barely scraping by with odd jobs and Hatsue’s pension. They still have to supplement their income by shoplifting – which they have mastered into an art. One night, they find a little girl on the street, going through garbage, looking for food. They take her home and give her food – and then push off calling the police more and more. But their precarious position is at risk.

Shoplifters is a strong film, albeit a little too long (as Japanese films so often are for me). It certainly took me places I really didn’t expect – and did so in a very sensitive and frighteningly realistic way.

The film poster showing the entire family at the beach, holding hands as they jump over a wave.
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Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004)

Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed
Director: Shola Lynch
Seen on: 22.1.2019

Content Note: racism, sexism, misogynoir (all framed critically)

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected in the US Congress. Four years later, she was the first Black woman to run for President of the USA for the Democratic Party. But her candidacy wasn’t just a remarkable achievement, it was also greeted by a lot of resistance, and she had to face obstacles that a white, male candidate never had to face.

I have to admit that I had never even heard of Shirley Chisholm before this documentary, so it was a very welcome way to fill that gap in my historical knowledge. That being said, I thought that the documentary could have been handled a little better.

The film poster that is all red with Chisholm's face on it in black.
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Robin Hood (2018)

Robin Hood
Director: Otto Bathurst
Writer: Ben Chandler, David James Kelly
Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Jamie Dornan, Tim Minchin, Paul Anderson, F. Murray Abraham, Ian Peck, Cornelius Booth
Seen on: 20.1.2019

Content Note: racism

Robin (Taron Egerton) is a lord with good money. He’s also in love with Marian (Eve Hewson), a commoner. His life would have been fine if he hadn’t been drafted to fight in the crusades. Once there, he is not willing to accept his commanding officer Guy of Gisborne’s (Paul Anderson) cruelty, so he gets sent home again. Back home Robin realizes that the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) had him declared dead, seized his property and is ruling the city with an iron fist. But there is also resistance brewing, led by Will (Jamie Dornan) – and Marian who is with Will now. Just when Robin is about to call it a day and disappear, Yahya (Jamie Foxx) shows up, offering to train Robin to take the fight to the Sheriff.

Robin Hood looks like it has the potential to be delightful trash. Unfortunately it takes itself way, way too seriously and it’s just not good enough to fit the bill of a good film, becoming a rather dreary film instead.

The film posters showing the main characters surrounded by arrows.
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Happy Death Day (2017)

Happy Death Day
Director: Christopher Landon
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton, Jason Bayle, Rob Mello, Rachel Matthews, Ramsey Anderson
Seen on: 19.1.2019

College student Tree (Jessica Rothe) wakes up on the morning of her birthday, seriously hungover, and in the room of another student she can hardly recall, Carter (Israel Broussard). Not interested in celebrating her birthday, she ignores both her father (Jason Bayle) and her sorority sister Lori (Ruby Modine). Instead she meets her professor Gregory Butler (Charles Aitken) with whom she is having an affair. That evening a party is beckoning, but Tree is murdered on the way there by somebody wearing a baby mask. Then she wakes up again on the morning of her birthday and realizes that she has to figure out who her murderer is – or keep getting murdered over and over again.

I didn’t know much about Happy Death Day going into the film, apart from the fact that it will get a sequel this year. I also didn’t expect much, but I was absolutely pleasantly surprised. It is a thoroughly entertaining film.

The film poster that looks like a sheet cake with a bloody knife sticking from it. There's a reflection of a masked face in the knife.
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Flesh and Bone (Melissa Sercia)

Flesh and Bone is the second novel in the Blood and Darkness Series by Melissa Sercia.
Finished on: 19.1.2019
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]
[I won the third novel in the series in a librarything Early Reviewer give-away and received a complementary copy of the first two novels.]

A few months have passed and Gray the Dhampir keeps struggling more and more with her dark magic. But when her partner Aldric goes missing, she has to tap into those powers to find him. Her search leads her not only to an old family secret, but also back to her ex-lover-now-enemy Dragos whose help she needs to save Aldric.

I was hoping that Sercia would grow as a writer between the first and the second novel in series and she did, although not enough to not make me wish that an editor would have held her hand a little more.

The book cover showing a dark-haired woman with a glowing sword.
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Mulgoe [Monstrum] (2018)

Director: Jong-ho Huh
Writer: Heo-dam, Jong-ho Huh
Cast: Myung-Min Kim, In-kwon Kim, Hyeri Lee, Choi Woo-sik, Park Sung-Woong, Hee-soon Park, Kyeong-Yeong Lee, Kyu-bok Lee
Part of: /slash Filmfestival Golden Ticket Screening
Seen on: 18.1.2019

Many years ago, a mysterious illness broke out, leading King Jungjong (Hee-soon Park) to eradicate an entire village to keep it from spreading. But his best soldier Yoon Gyeom (Myung-Min Kim) refused to kill one of the inhabitants – a little girl. Instead he and his brother Sung Han (In-kwon Kim) took the girl to raise her in exile. Now many years have passed and the girl Myung (Hyeri Lee) grew up well with her two adoptive fathers. But there are rumors of a monster killing people, so the King sends soldier Heo (Choi Woo-sik) to ask Yoon Gyeom to investigate, fearing that the monster is an invention of his minster Sim Woon (Kyeong-Yeong Lee) who hopes to use it to gain more power. Yoon Gyeom, Sung Han and Myung accept the King’s request and go to find the supposed monster.

Monstrum is fun overall, though it didn’t leave me terribly excited. But it did leave me entertained and enjoying myself while it lasted.

The film poster showing Myung (Hyeri Lee), Yoon Gyeom (Myung-Min Kim), Sung Han (In-kwon Kim) and Heo (Choi Woo-sik) in fighting stances. Behind their backs is the face of a huge monster.
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Capharnaüm (2018)

Capharnaüm (aka Capernaum; Chaos)
Director: Nadine Labaki
Writer: Nadine Labaki, Jihad Hojeily, Michelle Keserwany
Cast: Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, Kawsar Al Haddad, Fadi Yousef, Cedra Izzam, Alaa Chouchnieh, Elias Khoury
Seen on: 18.1.2019

Content Note: sexualized violence, child abuse

Zain (Zain al Rafeea) is only 12 years old when he sues his parents – for giving life to him. Looking back on his short life, he finds that it was deeply negligent of them to bring him into this world where there were neither money nor ressources for him or his siblings. As the oldest, he was soon responsible for his siblings, but as a child himself he couldn’t actually do much – not even protect his sister Sahar (Cedra Izzam). And it only got worse from there.

Capernaum is a heavy film whose message seems to basically be that nothing is alright. If you manage to watch the film without feeling that the world deserves to burn down, congratulations – I couldn’t. And that is absolutely meant as a compliment.

The film poster showing Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) pulling Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole) on a makeshift trolley.
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