Grim Tides (T.A. Pratt)

Grim Tides is the sixth of the Marla Mason novels by T.A. Pratt.
Finished on: 6.12.2019
[Here are my reviews of the other Marla Mason novels.]

Plot:
Marla Mason had to leave Felport behind, and now she is in exile – on Maui. With Rondeau. Who is super rich, albeit struggling with his new body. It could be worse. If only Marla could find some way to occupy herself. Her business as an occult detective doesn’t really do the trick – although she’s been asked to solve a murder. That Marla is at such a low point is the perfect opportunity for some old enemies, and maybe a few new ones, to try to get their revenge. But even at her low point, Marla is a formidable opponent with interesting friends, so she will not go down without a fight.

Grim Tides is a good, fun read and continues Marla’s story in interesting directions. I enjoyed it a lot.

The book cover showing a woman standing between two tiki statues, glowing magical symbols emanating from her hand.
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Re-Watch: Easy A (2010)

Easy A
Director: Will Gluck
Writer: Bert V. Royal
Cast: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Malcolm McDowell, Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Dan Byrd, Cam Gigandet, Fred Armisen
Seen on: 29.11.2019
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: sexual assault, abuse

Plot:
Olive (Emma Stone) is a good student, though not a particularly popular one. But when a rumor is started that she sleeps around, it puts a quick end to her going unnoticed. Not content with just accepting the sexist double standard, Olive gets into a catfight with the religious do-gooder Marianne (Amanda Bynes), poses as a sex partner for various guys (who are gay or unpopular) and causes general mayhem at her school.

For whatever reason, I had it in my head that I had kinda not liked Easy A all that much when I first watched it (reading my review from back then, that seems not to be true) and that I wanted to give it another try because everybody else seemed to love it so much. Having done so now, I can confidently say that it is a fun film with even some feminist attempts, but it does have problems and I am still not sure why Easy A is the cult classic it seems to have become.

The film poster showing Olive (Emma Stone) in front of a blackboard. There are misogynist curses on the blackboard with arrows pointing at her. She holds a sign that reads: The rumour-filled totally FALSE account of HOW I RUINED my flawless reputation.
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Doctor Sleep (2019)

Doctor Sleep
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan
Based on: Stephen King‘s novel
Sequel to: The Shining
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Kyliegh Curran, Rebecca Ferguson, Cliff Curtis, Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lind, Selena Anduze, Robert Longstreet, Carel Struycken, Zackary Momoh, Jocelin Donahue, Bruce Greenwood, Sallye Hooks, Alex Essoe, Jacob Tremblay
Seen on: 27.11.2019

Content Note: antiziganism

Plot:
Dan (Ewan McGregor) has had a rough go of it. The only way he knew how to deal with his supernatural abilities was to drown it in alcohol. But he is trying to change and to get a fresh start in a small town in New Hampshire. Once he is settled there, he realizes that another person with the same abilities, but stronger, is reaching out to him – a young girl called Abra (Kyliegh Curran). Abra knows that something bad is happening to kids like her – and she needs Dan’s help to figure it all out.

Doctor Sleep has the difficutl tasl of being a sequel to a book and a film which deviate from one another, and it does manage to make something interesting from those diverging predecessors. But the film’s blatant antiziganism is a huge problem.

The film poster showing a red hallway with Dan (Ewan McGregor) wallking towards a boy on a tricycle.
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Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

Zombieland: Double Tap
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writer: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Dave Callaham
Sequel to: Zombieland
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch, Avan Jogia, Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch
Seen on: 27.11.2019

Plot:
Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have become a pretty strong unit in the last few years they spent fighting against zombies. They are living in the White House and things have settled. As much as they can settle in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies. But both Wichita and Little Rock are getting increasingly more antsy. One morning, they are just gone, leaving Columbus and Tallahassee a note but not much of an explanation. Can their found family find its way back together again?

Zombieland: Double Tap was fun in many ways, but others didn’t sit right with me. I often had fun, but the film doesn’t really come together and it begs the question of whether it wouldn’t have been better to just leave it at the first one.

The film poster showing Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) ready to fight.
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Re-Watch: Zombieland (2009)

Zombieland
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writer: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Bill Murray
Seen on: 24.11.2019
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
In the near future, there are barely any people left – most of them have been turned into zombies. Among the survivors are Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) who stumbled upon each other by chance and decided to stick together for a while, though the obsessive and anxious Columbus and the toughtalking, explosive Tallahassee don’t have much in common. When they run into Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), the girls first rob them, but later on, they throw their lot together, hoping to reach a place where they’re safe.

When I saw Zombieland for the first time (almost a decade ago), I was utterly cahrmed by it. Re-Watching it now, I have to admit that it lost a bit of its sheen, but it’s still pretty entertaining.

The film poster showing Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), all with weapons in their hands.
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Aleksandr Nevskiy (1938) + ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester / Frank Strobel

Aleksandr Nevskiy
Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein, Dmitriy Vasilev
Writer: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Cast: Nikolay Cherkasov, Nikolai Okhlopkov, Andrei Abrikosov, Dmitriy Orlov, Vasili Novikov, Nikolai Arsky, Varvara Massalitinova, Valentina Ivashova, Aleksandra Danilova, Vladimir Yershov, Sergei Blinnikov, Ivan Lagutin, Lev Fenin, Naum Rogozhin
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Sergey Prokofiev, played be the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester, sung by the Wiener Singakademie and Marina Prudenskaya, conducted by Frank Strobel
Seen on: 21.11.2019

Plot:
In 13th century Russia, foreign forces have overrun the country. Aleksandr Nevskiy (Nikolay Cherkasov) thought that he had left war behind and could spend the rest of his life as a fisherman. But his reputation makes him the ideal man for the remaining Russian forces to rally behind – and he finally agrees to lead them all to victory against the invadors.

Eisenstein definitely knows how to make propaganda and Aleksandr Nevskiy is no exception there. Accompanied by the entire ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester and the Wiener Singakademie made watching it extra-special though, because size of the orchestra and choir matched the size of the film.

The film poster showing a drawing of a knight - Aleksandr Nevskiy - on a rearing horse.
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Booksmart (2019)

Booksmart
Director: Olivia Wilde
Writer: Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, Katie Silberman
Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Victoria Ruesga, Mason Gooding, Skyler Gisondo, Diana Silvers, Molly Gordon, Billie Lourd, Maya Rudolph
Seen on: 18.11.2019

Plot:
Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are best friends who are nearing the end of high school. They had decided early on that they’d work hard in school to get into the best colleges and that partying could come later. But seeing as their less focused colleagues also got into good schools, they start to doubt their approach so far and decide to live it up this last weekend before finishing high school. But it’s not as easy to get down to party as they thought, especially when you try to fit all the parties you didn’t have into one night.

Booksmart came with a lot of buzz and while I really, thoroughly enjoyed it, the buzz may have been a little too much, leaving me with a faint feeling of “that’s it?”. But the good parts definitely outweighed that.

The film poster showing Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Denver) in matching overalls.
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Last Christmas (2019)

Last Christmas
Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Emma Thompson, Bryony Kimmings
Based on: the Wham! song (kinda)
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson, Boris Isakovic, Patti LuPone, Sue Perkins, Lydia Leonard
Seen on: 16.11.2019

Plot:
Kate (Emilia Clarke) works as an elf in an all-year Christmas story run by Santa (Michelle Yeoh). She dreams of being a singer, but spends most of her time drinking, having random hook-ups and generally being a little flaky. She’s also technically homeless and distances herself from her family. That’s when she meets Tom (Henry Golding). She feels drawn to him, even though she also thinks he’s weird and she’s a little put off by his goody two shoes nature. But their connection is nevertheless undeniable.

Last Christmas is rather cute until it jumps the shark. I mean, it’s still enjoyable thanks to Clarke and Golding, but the big reveal did have me facepalming. A lot.

The film poster showing Kate (Emilia Clarke) and Tom (Henry Golding) on a park bench.
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Monos (2019)

Monos
Director: Alejandro Landes
Writer: Alejandro Landes, Alexis Dos Santos
Cast: Sofia Buenaventura, Julián Giraldo, Karen Quintero, Laura Castrillón, Deiby Rueda, Paul Cubides, Sneider Castro, Moises Arias, Julianne Nicholson
Seen on: 11.11.2019

Plot:
On top of a mountain, a group of teenagers train as soldiers, militia, visited only rarely by their commanding officer who leaves them with a cow and an abductee (Julianne Nicholson) to watch over. Their days are filled with training and exercise, their nights are more rambunctious. But it remains to be seen if their group can make it through all challenges.

Monos is visually stunning and interesting, but it didn’t develop quite the hypnotic quality for me that it aimed for and that would have been necessary for me to really get into it. Maybe it just caught me on the wrong day.

The film poster showing a great swirl of turquoise clouds, with a small horse and rider silhouetted against it.
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Christmas in the Wild (2019)

Christmas in the Wild (aka Holiday in the Wild)
Director: Ernie Barbarash
Writer: Neal H. Dobrofsky, Tippi Dobrofsky
Cast: Rob Lowe, Kristin Davis, Fezile Mpela, John Owen Lowe, Colin Moss, Thandi Puren, Hayley Owen, Lynita Crofford, Waldemar Schultz, Tapiwa Musvosvi
Seen on: 10.11.2019

Content Note: racism/exoticism

Plot:
Kate (Kristin Davis) used to be a vet, but then she gave it all up for her husband and her kid. Now their son is grown and Kate is looking forward to the first real holiday in many years, a safari in South Africa. But just before they are supposed to leave, her husband leaves Kate instead. Kate decides to go to South Africa by herself. There in the elephant sanctuary, she starts to find a new sense of identity apart from her family. And she finds the grumpy pilot Derek (Rob Lowe) who runs the sanctuary.

Christmas in the Wild was re-named Holiday in the Wild (or vice versa). In any case, Holiday is definitely the better title. The film does feature Christmas, but it isn’t a Christmas romance. Whether Christmas or not, it’s a sweet film for white people, especially in the (racist) way it uses Africa as an exotic backdrop for a white story.

The film poster showing two images - Derek (Rob Lowe) and Kate (Kristin Davis) standing next to each other and Kate stroking an elephant.
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