Perfect Couple (Jennifer Echols)

Perfect Couple is the second novel in the Superlatives series by Jennifer Echols.
Finished on: 10.8.2022
[Here’s my review of the first novel in the series.]

Yearbook photographer and introvert Harper can’t believe it when the voting results for the senior year superlatives come in and she won “Perfect Couple That Never Was” with star quarterback Brody. Who would ever think to pair the two of them together when they couldn’t be any more different? But once the thought is out there, Harper can’t help but consider Brody. This is only made more awkward by the fact that they are both dating other people. Well, more or less. Harper’s boyfriend Kennedy is constantly picking fights with her, and Brody likes to keep things casual. But as the two of them try to figure out what exactly their class had been thinking and how to take the obligatory photo for the yearbook, they discover that people may have been onto something with them.

Perfect Couple was a superquick read (half a day of being out sick from work and I was done), and a very sweet one. I think I might have been a tad more in love with Biggest Flirts, the first novel in the series, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the hell out of this one.

The book cover showing a girl holding up a camera for a selfie with a guy who stands behind her.
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Do Better (T.A. Pratt)

Do Better is a short story collection connected to the Marla Mason novels by T.A. Pratt.
Finished on: 10.8.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Do Better collects more than twenty stories, about half of which center Marla, the rest focus on other characters from the series. The stories are much like the series: inventive and funny, a little bit creepy and, though you wouldn’t necessarily expect it, very romantic. They are arranged in chronological fashion, with a short intro paragraph that places them in the wider context of the series (although they don’t always stick with the canon 100%, a fact is well aware of – probably better than me). Those intros are very helpful, even for people who have read the entire series and might not remember everything very well. But they also mean that it’s a bit tricky to read Do Better to get a feeling for whether one would want to delve into the series because they are riddled with spoilers (that goes for the rest of this review where I talk about each story as well). But for fans of the series, the stories here will be a satisfying addition to the series.

The book cover showing a figure standing on a mountaintop looking down at a landscape where everything is crumbling - including the figure itself. the image is mirrored so that one copy is upside down. The upper half has a red background, the lower half a blue one.
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Blood Red Sky (2021)

Blood Red Sky
Director: Peter Thorwarth
Writer: Peter Thorwarth, Stefan Holtz
Cast: Peri Baumeister, Carl Anton Koch, Alexander Scheer, Kais Setti, Gordon Brown, Dominic Purcell, Graham McTavish
Seen on: 5.8.2022

Content Note: (critical treatmen of) racism against muslims

Elias (Carl Anton Koch) and his mother Nadja (Peri Baumeister) are flying to the USA. Nadja is sick, and a doctor there has promised to be able to heal her. Everything seems to be going well until their plan is hijacked. As things turn more and more tense and outright bloody on board and Muslim passengers like Farid (Kais Setti) get singled out by the hijackers for some reason, Elias tries to hide. As the hijackers turn their attention to him and Nadja, it becomes apparent that there is more to Nadja’s illness than appeared at first.

My expectations for Blood Red Sky weren’t particularly high, but they were disappointed anyway as it is a vampire movie that is just no fun, despite the nice idea.

The film poster showing Nadja (Peri Baumeister) holding Elias (Carl Anton Koch) in an airplane seat. Her reflection in the plane window shows a creature with a bloody mouth.
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I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987)

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing
Director: Patricia Rozema
Writer: Patricia Rozema
Cast: Sheila McCarthy, Paule Baillargeon, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Richard Monette, John Evans
Seen on: 5.8.2022

Polly (Sheila McCarthy) is a slightly chaotic temp worker with a passion for photography. When she gets assigned as an assistant in the Church Gallery, owned and curated by Gabrielle (Paule Baillargeon), Polly is awed by Gabrielle’s artistic eye as much as her sophisitication and beauty. When she gets the chance to turn the job from temporary to permanent, she jumps at it. Then Gabrielle’s ex Mary (Ann-Marie MacDonald) turns up, and the balance between Polly and Gabrielle shifts.

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing is a wonderful film. Funny, sweet and warm, it is also a insightful examination of the central characters. I really loved it.

The film poster showing Polly's (Sheila McCarthy) head floating over the ocean, a slight smile on her lips.
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Happiest Season (2020)

Happiest Season
Director: Clea DuVall
Writer: Clea DuVall, Mary Holland
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber, Alison Brie, Mary Holland, Dan Levy, Burl Moseley, Aubrey Plaza
Seen on: 5.8.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis) have been dating for a while and are still very much in love. In an unguarded moment, Harper invites Abby back home to her family for Christmas. Abby, who doesn’t have a family anymore, happily accepts. When they’re on the road already, Harper comes clean: she hasn’t acutally come out to her parents yet and she would like Abby to pretend that they are just roommates. Abby reluctantly agrees, but this secret and the emotional toll it takes aren’t easy to stomach.

Happiest Season is a typical holiday movie except for the fact that it’s about a sapphic couple. It is exceptional in the way it just refuses to be anything more than that: family chaos, a bit of drama and a happy end. While I do like it when films have something to say, I do think that there is a lack of queer films that aren’t “issue films”, so this was a really good thing in this case.

The film poster with the main characters arranged as if in a family portrait that hangs crookedly over a fire place with Christmas decorations.
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Locked Down (2021) – DNF

Locked Down
Director: Doug Liman
Writer: Steven Knight
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anne Hathaway, Dulé Hill, Jazmyn Simon, Mark Gatiss, Ben Kingsley, Ben Stiller, Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, Claes Bang, Lucy Boynton
Seen on: 4.8.2022

Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) have been a couple for a while. But they were in the middle of breaking up with each other when Corona and the resulting lockdown hit them. Now, they are both at home, trying to avoid each other best as they can. Linda takes meeting after meeting online, drowning in work she questions more and more, while Paxton who usually works as a delivery driver is bored out of his mind. When Paxton is supposed to make a delivery with a false identity that connects to Linda’s job, the two have an idea, though: they start to plan a heist.

Locked Down should be good. A heist movie with Ejiofor and Hathaway sounds absolutely ideal. On paper. The actual film is so dreary that I called it quits 50 minutes in, not willing to waste any more time on it.

The film poster showing Linda (Anne Hathaway) staring at Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
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Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Director: Alexander Witt
Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson
Based on: the video game series
Sequel to: Resident Evil
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretschmann, Sophie Vavasseur, Razaaq Adoti, Jared Harris, Mike Epps, Sandrine Holt, Matthew G. Taylor, Zack Ward, Iain Glen
Seen on: 4.8.2022

Raccoon City seems to be just getting back to its feet after what happened at the Hive, when the next catastrophe strikes and the city is overrun by zombies. Alice (Milla Jovovich) wakes in the hospital amidst the chaos as one of only a handful of people still in the city and not yet zombified. To contain the zombies, a bomb is supposed to be dropped in the city, and if Alice doesn’t find a way out by then, she will surely die. Teaming up with other survivors, they look for an escape. But zombies aren’t the only thing that the Umbrella Corporation experimented with – and there are more surprises to come.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse is actually a little better than Resident Evil, not that that’s saying much. But there are some good action moments, the male gaze is dialled down a bit and the plot is a little more coherent.

The film poster showing Alice (Milla Jovovich) walking through a destroyed city wrapped in a towel and carrying a semi-automatic weapon.
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Failure to Launch (2006)

Failure to Launch
Director: Tom Dey
Writer: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper, Terry Bradshaw, Kathy Bates, Katheryn Winnick, Patton Oswalt
Seen on: 2.8.2022

Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) is in his 30s, but still living comfortably at home with his parents Al and Sue (Terry Bradshaw, Kathy Bates). His parents aren’t as comfortable with the arrangement, though. Since they are not the only people in their circle of friends with that issue, they hear about Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) who has specialized in dating guys who still live at home, boosting their self-confidence until they’re ready to head out into the world. Al and Sue decide to hire Paula to get Tripp out of their house. But things with Tripp develop differently than Paula expected.

Failure to Launch does not work at all. Not in the ill-advised animal comedy that is peppered throughout the film, not in the romance, not even in the general idea of how things are supposed to work here. And it’s definitely not entertaining enough to make you forget about its failings.

The film poster showing Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) leaning back against Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) who is pushing him forward.
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Wilder Girls (Rory Power)

Wilder Girls is the first novel by Rory Power.
Finished on: 1.8.2022

Content Note: suicide, self harm, starvation

Hetty, Byatt and Reese are students at the Raxter school for girls. The school is located on Raxter island and pretty much the only thing on that island. For the past 18 months, Raxter island has been hit by the Tox – a sickness that has been changing the animals and the people on the island. At least the people who survived it. Hetty has lost an eyes. Byatt grew a second spine. Reese has a claw. What hasn’t changed is the friendship between the three, as they wait to be released from quarantine on the island, to be cured. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty is done waiting, even if it means breaking all the rules.

Wilder Girls reminded me a lot of Annihilation, though there is much more emphasis on body horror here and the two novels are far from alike (apart from a very changed nature). There is just this sense of unsettled strangeness that they both work with. In any case, I found myself entirely engrossed by Wilder Girls.

The book cover showing a young girl, hair covering one eye. Her face is drawn in a spiral with gaps and in those gaps we can see flowers.
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Wrapped (Rebekah Weatherspoon)

Wrapped is a novella connected to the Fit Trilogy by Rebekah Weatherspoon.
Finished on: 31.7.2022

Shae hasn’t been divorced for very long and getting back out into the dating world is not exactly easy, despite the various apps. Especially while running her own bakery. When she matches with Aidan, a very hot former colleague, it seems that her Christmas wish for a good date is finally granted. But one date soon turns into many more and maybe things are moving a bit too fast for Shae who is still nursing her wounds from the divorce.

Wrapped is a fluffy bit of writing that was thoroughly enjoyable (despite me reading this Christmas novella in July). The bit of conflict in it wasn’t quite paced right, but other than that I have no complaints.

The book cover showing a man in a Santa costume. The shirt is open, revealing a very fit upper body.
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