Movie 33: Rosemary's Baby

Dir: Roman Polanski
Cast: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon...

A young couple moves to a new apartment in NYC, next to two strange neighbors.

I watched this with friends on Halloween night, and we all enjoyed it. I love old-fashioned thrillers that leave a lot to the imagination. I found it suspenseful from beginning to end.


Movie 32: Never Let Me Go

32 NEVER LET ME GO (UK, 2010)
Dir: Mark Romanek
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield...

A love triangle set in a school whose students have a fate that set them apart from other children.

I've never read the book, but already knew quite a bit about the subject matter, which did not in any way undermine the emotional impact of the film. Never Let Me Go is certainly one of these stories that leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

I love Carey Mulligan, and her acting particularly shines in this film. The young actress who plays Muligan's character as a child is also very talented, and the physical resemblance between the two actresses is incredible.

My only criticism is that Andrew Garfield's character lacks depth; his motives were occasionally unclear.


Movie 31: Lucy

31 LUCY (France, 2014)
Dir: Luc Besson
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik...

After an accident that involved being force to work as a drug mule for a Korean drug lord, Lucy is now able to use her full brain capacities.

I never expect anything good from Luc Besson anymore, but I was particularly sad to see a good cast wasted on this nonsense.
Even when willing to ignore the pseudo-science this film is based on, the rest of the plot makes little more sense, and the ending is simply ridiculous. No thanks.

rainbow cake

Book 11: Le Cote de Guermantes

11 LE COTE DE GUERMANTES (Eng. Tr.: THE GUERMANTES WAY) Marcel Proust (France, 1920)

This is the third installement of In Search of Lost Time.

The narrator is now fully a part of Parisian society, where politics and art are discussed in the most fashionable salons.

This third volume is the most political so far, as the Dreyfus Affair is discussed everywhere the narrator goes. The shallowness and hypocrisy of the aristocracy are also starting to reveal themselved to the narrator, who becomes increasingly disappointed with society.

Walking Dead

Movie 30: We Are Still Here

Dir: Ted Geoghegan
Cast: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie...

After the death of their son, a couple moves to a new house in a rural town.

This horror movie has remarkably good reviews for its genre, but I don't know how they were justified. The entire film is made of cliches, and the acting is so terrible it's difficult not to laugh.

wild flowers

Book 10: Lord of the Flies

10 LORD OF THE FLIES William Golding (England, 1954)

Following a plane crash, a group of young boys find themselves on a desert island without any adults.

I'm glad I finally got around to reading this classic. Lord of the Flies is a solid commentary on human instincts, violence, and leadership. While it can be a little tedious to read  an entire novel written the way children speak, Golding's story is powerful precisely because it deals wit children.


Book 9: Empress Dowager Cixi


A biograpy of the woman who ruled "behind the veil" for decades.

Years ago I read Anchee Min's novels about Cixi, Empress Orchid and The Last Empress, and absolutely adored them. So I felt it was high time for me to read a proper biography.

Jung Chang is the acclaimed author of Wild Swans, but she's been heavily criticized for the controversial arguments in this book. Cixi is traditionally seen as an evil empress whose pride was the cause of many lost battles. Yet Chang sees her as a revolutionary ruler.

As I'm far from being an expert in Chinese history, it is difficult for me to have an opinion about the issue, but after a bit of research on the internet, I realized Chang is not the only researcher who seems to defend her. So are the arguments as controversial as some claim? Not sure.


Movie 29: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Dir: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson...

The Avengers are still fighting against whatever it is that they were fighting in previous movies.

This is without a doubt one of the worst super hero movies I've seen. Many of the scenes seem pointless (the one in which they all try to carry Thor's weapon being the worst), and when time is not wasted on turning the movie into The Robert Downey Jr Show, then it's all about Black Widow and Bruce Banner's unconvincing love story, or Hawkeye - yawn - domestic life.
Loki was the most interesting character in the franchise, and when he's gone....

Walking Dead

Book 8: Martian Time-Slip

8 MARTIAN TIME-SLIP Philip K. Dick (US, 1964)

Mental illness in a martian colony.

While this may not be Dick's masterpiece, Martian Time-Slip is certainly one of his most inventive novels. Using the common SF theme of Martian colonization, Dick manages to insert fascinating commentaries on mental illness (which he addresses even more directly than usual) and education.
I thoroughly enjoyed the dark sense of humor.


Movie 28: Big Eyes

28 BIG EYES (US, 2014)
Dir: Tim Burton
Cast: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz...

The story of painter Margaret Keane, whose husband took credit for her work for a decade.

This is not Tim Burton's masterpiece, but it was nice to see him work with different actors and a subject outside the universe he's created. I also love Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, and enjoyed seeing them together in a film.