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Book 26: Consider the Lobster

NYC
26 CONSIDER THE LOBSTER David Foster Wallace (US, 2005)

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David Foster Wallace's collection of essays includes reflections on a diversity of topics such as pornography, John McCain's presidential campaign, and the ethics of cooking lobsters.

A few years ago, I read an essay taken from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again for a creative writing class, and absolutely loved it. This might be why Consider the Lobster is a bit of a disappointment.
There's no denying that Wallace has a sharp sense of humor, and that his writing style is recognizable at first glance. But it's his voice that I didn't like as much as I wanted to, and while liking or not a main character in a novel is often irrelevant when judging its quality, the voice of a personal essay needs to be likeable. There are a few things that I didn't like about Wallace, and that might have spoiled some of the pleasure I took in his writing style. I also felt that some of his essays were dragging on, and would've been better shorter.
Maybe this wasn't the right book for me, and I intend to try his work again to see if I change my mind.

2.5/5

Book 25: Therese Desqueyroux

macaroons
25 THERESE DESQUEYROUX Francois Mauriac (France, 1927)

55therese

Everyone knows Therese Desqueyroux of attempted murder, including the very husband she tried to kill, but in order to save the family's reputation, he refuses to accuse her during the trial.

What makes this novel interesting, is that even though we know Therese to be guilty, it is impossible to not feel sorry for her. Most of the novel consists of her recounting the tale of her life and the dull bourgeois life that gradually leads her to commit the crime. Therese is above all a victim of circumstance whose personality is ultimately crushed by her family and society.

3/5

Book 24: Young Hearts Crying

Hopper
24 YOUNG HEARTS CRYING Richard Yates (US, 1984)

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Michael Davenport is a poet who has achieved only minor success in his early career, which leaves him bitter, frustrated, and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

At first, this might sound like another story about a struggling artist, but as usual, Yates' merciless insights rise it above the rest.

Young Hearts Crying, just like his other novels, is about failed careers and marriages. But this one was written later in his life, and fairly closely follows the author's biography and his dealings with a serious mental illness (mostly induced by alcohol). This is a very thorough novel, as it follows the main characters' lives from their young adult years to their bitter middle age; four hundred pages is on average fairly long for Yates.
Richard Yates never ceases to impress me. His characters' epiphanies always ring so heartbreakingly true, that it is impossible not to hold him as one of the greatest writers of his generation and beyond.

5/5

Movie 30: How to Train your Dragon 2

ratatouille
30 HOW TO TRAIN YOUR  DRAGON 2 (US, 2014)
Dir: Dean DeBlois

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Now that humans and dragons have learnt to live together in peace, they are threatened by the power-thirsty Drago Bludvist, who plans to take control of all dragons.

It was a pleasure to find the same adorable characters a second time, and be introduced to new ones as well.
This second movie is more action-packed than the previous one, but there's still space for some character development. It's easy to get attached to the characters, and there were quite a few emotional scenes.

Overall, I thought the first one was better, but mostly because it had the element of surprise, as I did not expectit to be that great in the first place. This is certainly a worthy sequel.

5/5

Book 23: The Wise Man's Fear

bottle
23 THE WISE MAN'S FEAR Patrick Rothfuss (US, 2011)

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On the second day, Kvothe continues the marrative of his exciting yet tragic life.

The fact that I did not feel compelled to buy this second instalment as soon as it came out already says a lot about my ambivalence, I think. Yes, it's a good story. No, I'm not dying to read the end.

First of all, Rothfuss' prose is not as good as a lot of people seem to think. His descriptions of major feelings (such as love) regularly suffer from an abundance of cringeworthy adjectives. Secondly, his pacing is incredibly flawed, and this is particularly showing in this second instalment. I'm not sure how Rothfuss intends to finish Kvothe's story in just one more book, (even though I know there's a book about a secondary character coming up).

I think Kvothe spent too much time with Felurian, as well as with the people of Ademre; I found both subjects a bit boring. More importantly, very little regarding Kvothe's main mission has been achieved, which makes me fear Rothfuss might overly rush the action in his last book (and that can only remind me how bad the last Harry Potter instalment was).

Having said that, I really enjoyed reading about the main character's time spent in the university, and I intend to read the final book when it comes out.

3/5

Book 22: Les petits Chevaux de Tarquinia

Sleeping Beauty
22 LES PETITS CHEVAUX DE TARQUINIA (Eng.Tran.:THE LITTLE HORSES OF TARQUINIA) Marguerite Duras (France, 1953)

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Two couples are spending their vacation in Italy, where the extreme heat makes their overall experience often tedious and painful.

This is far from being Marguerite Duras' best, and I wouldn't recommend this book to someone not familiar with her work yet.

Some of her favorite themes, such as love triangles and mother-child excessive attachment, are once more explored, but not with the same subtle depth and quiet beauty I've grown accostumed to with her work. The book is too repetitive, even for Duras.

Ignore unless you want to red everyting she's ever written (which is my plan).

2.5/5

Movie 29: Jimmy's Hall

grass
29 JIMMY'S HALL (UK, 2014)
Dir: Ken Loach
Cast: Barry Ward, Simone Kirby, Jim Norton...

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When Jimmy Gralton returns to Ireland after years of exile in the US, he decides to reopen his controversial dancing hall, to the displeasure of the Catholic Church.

Jimmy's Hall is based on a true story.

While Gralton's story may seem like a not-so-significant snippet of Irish history, it certainly captures the complexity of post-independence Irish identity in the 1930s, and the influence of the Catholic Church on the population.
While I do not find Jimmy's Hall to be memorable enough for the Cannes Festival, I enjoyed its emotional scenes, subtle love story, and excellent acting. It is also a valuable depiction of countryside mentality.

3/5

Movie 28: Troll 2

Walking Dead
28 TROLL 2 (US/Italy, 1990)
Dir: Claudio Fragasso
Cast: Michael Stephenson, George Hardy...

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It's about goblins, not trolls.

This might well be the best worst movie I've ever seen. The acting, the makeup, the plot, the dialogues, EVERYTHING is hilarious.
Oh, and by the way, there's no trolls in Troll 2, the movie is about gobelins!
An absolute must-see!

N/A/5

Movie 27: Paranormal Activity

jack
27 PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (US, 2007)
Dir: Oren Peli
Cast: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat...

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A young couple decides to record on camera, day and night, the paranormal activities occurring in their house, which they believe is haunted.

My friend and I were in the mood for a scary movie, and we picked this one because it has the reputation of being particularly nerve racking. While we both tend to be easily scared, this one failed to truly impress us.
The concept is great and quite effective at the beginning, but ultimately Paranormal Activity does not deliver the memorable scenes and climax I expected from it.

2/5

Movie 26: Jersey Boys

Moulin
26 JERSEY BOYS (USA, 2014)
Dir: Clint Eastwood
Cast: John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza, Christopher Walken...

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A musical biopic of The Four Seasons.

I've never had the opportunity to see Jersey Boys on stage, and I didn't even know about The Four Seasons before I saw this movie (even though their discography is mainstream enough that I was actually familiar with some of their songs). As a result, I was delighted to hear the songs and enjoy the vintage ambiance.
However, I have the feeling Clint Eastwood failed to be very creative with his direction. Oftentimes, Broadway film adaptations struggle to be more than a copy/paste version of the original (The Phantom of the Opera being the worst example of this phenomenon), which causes the cinematography to be unimaginative. Alas, Jersey Boys falls in that category of adaptations; it is still worth the watch for the great music and excellent acting.

3/5