TMP – TV Edition: TV Score and/or Theme

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

As it so happens once per month though, we focus our attention on television content instead, making this the TV Edition about themes and scores! Some of you might remember how I could barely contain myself last month, when we talked about intro sequences (click here to check it out), but today I find it harder. Music and sound is an integral part of any production, but I would be lying if I said I played extra attention to it. However, as per usual, I’m going to do my very best to give you examples of scores I enjoyed!

Doctor Who

Murray Gold is a genius and has brought that extra bit of magic to Doctor Who. There were several episodes where I remember that his score elevated scenes and brought characters to life. I am personally partial to anything to do with our impossible girl, Clara, which is why I used her theme as an example, but anything would have been a great pick! I mean, the episode with Vincent van Gogh is still one of my favorites and “With Love Vincent” remains a classic example of Gold’s beautiful work.

Bridgerton

Bridgerton did something I enjoy a lot in general and that is remix modern day music into classical pieces performed by string quartets and whatnot they had back in the day. It offers a great connection to our time while not entirely disregarding the time period it is supposed to play in. I personally enjoyed the ball scenes all the more because of it.

Game of Thrones

There are people who would go to a concert just made up of Game of Thrones music, so, I could not not include it. We all know that the intro is iconic, but they also had an amazing score and themes throughout the show as a whole. Ramin Djawadi really understood the assignment here.

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale is a very impacting story either way, but the music manages to elevate the atmosphere on several occasions. Here I wouldn’t claim to know the name of many titles, but I know that some of those notes vibrated through my body during certain scenes and that in itself was memorable.

The Queen’s Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit surprised me in so many ways I cannot even describe. I didn’t think I could find a show revolving around chess as exciting as I did, but I was fully invested. The score was masterfully done and I don’t know how else to describe it except for outstanding!


What are some of your favorite scores? If this was a post on soundtracks, I may have decided differently, but with just the score … I had to think hard!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #58

I wanted to wait with this post until I had watched Shadow and Bone, but then I wrote a whole post just about the show yesterday. If you’ve missed it, you can check it out here, although I have to warn you that I did not hold back and went into detail quite a bit. Anyway, I still have plenty of shows and movies to talk about, so, let’s get started!

Starstruck (Season 1)

It was impossible to find a trailer for this show on Youtube, so I hope you can live with the link to the twitter post, but what a shame! Because this show was so adorable and funny and heartfelt.

I’ve always liked Rose Matafeo as a comedian and this was a passion project of hers for several years. She plays a woman in her late twenties, who just sort of got stuck in London after failed relationships that brought her to the country. Then, one night, she meets a famous actor (without knowing that fact about him) and a whirlwind romance starts.

The six episodes are short (roughly twenty minutes), but span over the course of a year. It has this kind of self-insert wish-fulfillment quality to it, in a way that makes you wonder if maybe a handsome actor could also fall madly in love with you if you just met them at the right time. I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed the open end that left the possibility for more. Genuinely think this is a hidden gem in the BBC programming.

Mythic Quest: Everlight (Single Episode)

I love Mythic Quest. It’s one of my favorite workplace comedies (which seem to be a specialty of Apple TV) and I like how they bridged the gap between Season 1 and Season 2 so far. Their quarantine episode literally had me sobbing, but I didn’t expect the Everlight episode to also hit home. While I wasn’t ugly-crying, I can’t deny how beautiful and uplifting Everlight was. It really brought the team back and set up the new season in a great way and I admired the use of CGI as well. So freaking well done! It may just have been one episode, but it made me so excited for the new content that will come May 7.

Dad Stop Embarrassing Me (Season 1)

Not going to lie, this isn’t really my kind of sitcom. It’s the laugh tracks and the characters turning to the screen to break the fourth wall. It’s kind of like The Crew wasn’t my thing either. I mostly ended up watching it for Heather Hemmens, because that woman has me in her grasp, and for that alone it was totally worth it! The show actually covered some deeper topics than I thought it would and I’m sure it will find its audience.

The Letter Room 

I don’t talk about short films often, but this one has Oscar Isaac. Need I say more?

Admittedly, my knowledge of the prison system is mostly from films and books. It’s essentially not a topic I have spent much time on, but I thought it was handled in an interesting way here. As Oscar’s character gets assigned to the letter room, to scan all correspondence, he gets too attached to a certain exchange. It all boils down to the fact that we all need someone to love us and I enjoyed this interpretation of it.

Monday

I was so excited for this movie, because I like Sebastian Stan’s random indie movie choices. However, this movie unfortunately didn’t manage to capture me. I’ll just copy and paste my letterboxd review (feel free to add me!):

Some relationships are like Fridays. You’re done with work, you’re ready for the weekend and the freedom that comes with it. There’s lots of sex, music, dancing and partying without thinking ahead too much. Why care about your troubles from the work week as long as you get to enjoy the now, right?
Well, at the end of it all, you still have to face Monday. The reality of life and all its messiness and your choices.

Monday (the movie) shows two broken people who would rather get lost in each other and ignore all their issues in favor of passion. It doesn’t always work and while I am sure people enjoy the various sex and nude scenes, they’re a lot and often just an avoidance in order not to have to deal with the real problems. The end is odd and open, because you’ve never seen them facing their issues and this might be the first step towards doing that, but the movie leaves you a bit empty and with a feeling of doom for the couple.


Have you watched anything I mentioned? Do you want to? Let’s talk about it!

My Thoughts on the Shadow and Bone Netflix Adaptation!

It has been no secret just how very excited I was for the Shadow and Bone series (as well as the Six of Crows duology) to be adapted by Netflix. While the streaming platform doesn’t always get it right, I was really optimistic early on and the trailers looked fantastic. Before I watched it, though, I caught up on all the books as to really know what I am talking about (only Rule of Wolves is missing for me now, but that’s irrelevant for the show at the moment) and even before going into details on my thoughts, I think they did a great job!

Obviously, the Grishaverse is huge and vast and has quite the fanbase because of the books series. But not everyone has read those and Netflix offers a platform that exposes the material to millions of people all over the world. Not everyone will be happy with everything, but I would like share my personal opinions in the following post.

*I could not do this without going into detail on some topics, so this might not be for you if you want to go into the show with as little knowledge as possible. SPOILERS ahead!!!*

THINGS/CHANGES I DIDN’T LIKE

I want to get the “bad” things out of the way, because some of it really irked me. It did not overshadow my enjoyment entirely, because I binged the show in a day, but I find it necessary to point them out regardless.

  • Casting Jessie Mei Li as Alina was a beautiful choice. Jessie is a ray of sunshine and hence amazing to watch as the sun summoner. They have great chemistry with on screen partners and I’m so very glad they got cast for this role. In the books, Alina wasn’t biracial though. This was a choice made to bring more diversity to the on screen adaptation, but where they went wrong (in my opinion) was by adding anti-Asian slurs and racism to portray the treatment of people from Shu Han. Nowhere in the books was this kind of racism ever present and we are dealing with a Fantasy world where Alina already faces enough struggles and could have dealt with a number of different circumstances that made her feel othered if that was what they wanted to portray so badly. Every time they inserted a slur such as “rice-eater” or “half-breed” it felt forced and unnecessary and I imagine hurtful to certain audiences. The problem is that they never contextualize this behavior, because they simply claim that being at war with Shu Han is enough to warrant the hostility, but that’s really not the take they thought it was.
credit: Netflix
  • Amplifiers in the books, while still kind of barbaric, are jewelry made out of bones/scales/claws/etc. and can be anything from a necklace to a bracelet or ring. Grisha can only have one amplifier in their lifetime (yeah, I know exceptions exist) and can never take it off. The Grisha who killed the animal the amplifier is from has the power over it. I think that’s all pretty cut and clear, so, why did the show change them into some kind of body horror?
    When the Darkling puts the antlers on Alina, she does not get a badass necklace, but rather the antlers fuse into her collar bone, making it an extremely uncomfortable scene to watch. I worry about this change, not just because she eventually absorbs the antlers into her body entirely and they are not visible anymore at all, but also because it makes me feel that the producers thought putting a literal collar on a person was not horrific enough and they needed another violation of Alina’s body to showcase the Darkling’s evil nature. Apparently, people wouldn’t be put off enough by his disregard for consent and need to control everyone around him.
  • Speaking of the Darkling! Due to budget constraints and everyone adoring Ben Barnes (he is a great actor), they opted to not show the Demon in the Woods short story as part of a flashback, where the Darkling would have been only 10 years old, but rather showed a grown up Darkling. In that tidbit from the past, he seemed enamored with a Grisha called Luda, who did not exist in the books, but came across as a love interest in that scene. Her death causes the creation of the Fold, making it feel like fridging (where the girlfriend/wife/love interest of the male protagonist dies in order to propel his story). In an interview with Insider, the showrunner explicitly said they weren’t trying to do that and even actively tried to avoid it, but nothing in that scene told me they weren’t romantically involved. (You can read the interview here!)
    Also, I keep calling him the Darkling, because that’s how I knew him for 7 books. Yes, his first name is Aleksander, but in the books that’s revealed very late. His name is a mystery and Alina is the only person in that world to know it, which felt special, but here he just throws his name around like it means nothing. The show really humanised him a lot.
credit: Netflix

GENRAL STUFF I ENJOYED OR NOTICED

The following points that I will mention were neither huge mistakes nor masterful choices. I just collected some of my thoughts that I found interesting or necessary to mention to give you all a complete picture.

  • As someone who has read all the books, short stories and anthologies (Language of Thorns and Lives of Saints), I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the Grishaverse. However, had I been someone who didn’t have that prior knowledge, I could have easily seen myself struggle with some of the concepts. They really barely explained anything to do with Grisha orders, amplifiers or something as simple but vital as the belief systems (Fjerdan god vs. Ravkan sainsts etc.). I doubt that anyone could understand some of the important components to their full extent having none of that knowledge and background info. Whereas I understand it’s difficult to include, a little more would have been appreciated from my side.
  • While waiting for the show to release, I always said that I did not care about the faithfulness of the story, but rather about the accurate representation of the characters and their personality and I still stand by that. Yes, Jesper should have been played by a dark-skinned actor, but Kit Younger has his personality DOWN. And not just him, EVERYONE either behaved exactly like I imagined they would (even if they didn’t all look like they had in my head) or even improved on the characters by playing them softer and with more nuance and vulnerability (e.g. Matthias Helvar). I cannot wait to see who they will bring in for the twins, Nikolai and Wylan next season.
credit: Netflix
  • The overall pacing and the amount of story they packed into this first season was well handled. From what I heard, the showrunner has a three-season-plan, which would correlate nicely with the three Shadow and Bone books. I really hope that the next season would also start implementing the Six of Crows plot, because this was a nice prequel to their characters, but I need to see the big heist happening. However, since everything is more interconnected, they might change things up further and I’d be excited to see what that looks like.

SOME IMPROVEMENTS

In some cases, I even think that the show did better than the book. Having the ability to show several points of view, whereas Shadow and Bone the book only offered Alina’s side really gave them the chance to explore the characters some more. Also, it probably helped that the producers already knew about all the later books Leigh Bardugo wrote as well. Here’s some changes I thought worked well:

  • When I first read Shadow and Bone, I hated Zoya. She literally broke Alina’s ribs and just treated her terribly, because she was jealous. Early on in the books, there are few redeeming qualities to Zoya and while she improves over time, I always felt a grudge until I got her side of things in King of Scars. While she starts out similarly in the show, I was grateful that they allowed an insight into her backstory earlier in the season than in the books. She is such an important character, but I think audiences would have struggled later on, just like I did while reading, if they hadn’t softened her up.
  • I think I am part of a small group of people who actually liked Mal in the books, but I think Archie and the writing on the show made the character so much better. They scratched unnecessary and childish jealousy scenes (which was annoying but fine in the books, because they were younger) and genuinely made his connection to Alina seem sweet and fated. I’m so happy people are now actually rooting for them.
  • Milo the goat is the real MVP.

VERDICT

I loved seeing some of my favorite characters brought to life on the screen. My expectations were high and I could have easily been disappointed but I was really pleased with how everything came together. Shadow and Bone is by no means flawless, but the effort they put into wanting to do the material justice came through. I honestly didn’t know if I would understand the involvement of the crows before watching, but it was integrated beautifully and they provided some of the best parts of the season. If you enjoyed the books, I think you will like this as well. Even if you weren’t a huge fan of the Shadow and Bone books, but only enjoyed Six of Crows, I can easily see you liking this better. 

credit: Netflix

Previous Reviews from this books series and Leigh Bardugo’s work:


Have you watched Shadow and Bone yet? Do you plan to? What were some of your favorite and least favorite moments? Let’s talk!

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Episode 6 “One World, One People” Review (Season Finale)

This is the review/recap for the season finale “One World, One People” of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. As per usual, the following post is full of Spoilers and meant to be read after watching the show. Proceed with caution!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Sam takes on the mantle of Captain America and faces off against the Flag Smashers in one final battle (with the help of more than just his trusted friends). 

My thoughts?

Let me tell you, this episode was a rollercoaster of emotions for me! I cheered, I cried, I was in awe. In all sincerity, I don’t remember the last time I was so proud and appreciative of a character as I am of Sam Wilson. What Anthony Mackie brought to this role and what they allowed him to explore on this show was such a fantastic feast to watch and I’m forever grateful they chose these characters to dig deeper.

However, as much as I loved this journey I also have some small quarrels with the finale and as per usual, a lot to talk about. Without further ado (and because I know how lengthy these posts get) let’s dive in!

  • Sam Wilson is now officially and without a doubt in the world Captain America. I think that’s the most important part of the episode, so I just needed to get that right out of the way. Not only did he get new wings from the Wakandans, but also a badass Captain America suit to go with it and I couldn’t be happier. I love how he called himself Captain America when he showed up, how the cc captions called him Captain America the entire episode and even bystanders, because he truly is everything Cap stands for. I’m not exaggerating when I say I squealed with joy every single time it was said.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • From last episode, we pick up again with GRC being on lockdown and getting evacuated but in actuality kidnapped by the Flag Smashers. Bucky is already on scene, Sharon is also there as support (for a second I thought she was a skrull, but she just wore a mask) and you can be sure that John Walker is on his way as well. As always, the fight choreography is outstanding and the action really goes on for the majority of this episode. There’s fights on different fronts and between different people, they really tried to cover their ground with everyone here. I don’t really see the point in rehashing all of them, but here are some noteworthy developments:
    • Sam vs. Batroc: It was interesting to see Sam actually use the shield to fight for the first time. Not all moves worked perfectly yet, but he had a really good handle on it and that training montage from last week paid off.
    • Bucky will always prioritize saving people over fighting someone and it was so nice to see him smile when people thanked him for that. He’s a good guy and the winter soldier no longer has a grasp on him.
    • When Walker showed up, I wasn’t on his side. That man is deranged and needs psychological help. I am still shocked his DIY shield didn’t crumble to pieces, but I did feel sad when he confronted Karli and she said that Lemar’s life didn’t matter. It showed just how far she was gone and, once again, her willingness to sacrifice people for her cause made her inner circle waver in their trust and loyalty to her. They still went with her plan, but she was beyond jaded at that point.
    • Walker was presented with a similar dilemma as Bucky. He could either go after Karli or save a convoy of GRC representatives and I was not sure what he would do, but he ultimately also opted to help people rather than fight. I honestly wasn’t sure that’s what he would go for, but I also don’t know how I felt about that “redemption arc” for Walker in general. As I said above, he is an incredibly unstable man and that’s due to untreated PTSD among other things, but his “team up” with Sam and Bucky just felt off. I get that they had a common foe in that moment, but it made me feel so uncomfortable to have him on the good side?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • I almost called it one of the biggest reveals of the episodes, but it really was pointing towards it all along, so, I’m going to call it one of the confirmations of the season and that’s the fact that Sharon is the Power Broker. I know that a lot of people will not be happy with that development and it is far removed from comic book Sharon’s persona. I don’t think it’s out of character for MCU Sharon, but I can definitely see fans being upset that a character they liked wasn’t treated right by the movies/shows … again.
    In a heart to heart with Karli it is revealed that Sharon is indeed the Power Broker. She had taken Karli in because she reminded her of a younger self, but whereas Sharon wants to control the world that hurt her, Karli wants to change it, making their differences irreconcilable. I don’t think we got a lot of Sharon’s reasoning in that scene, the audience rather has to piece that together on assumptions what she had to go through while in exile. Believe me, I don’t fault Sharon for what she did and making the most of her skillsets, but I would love more depth to it.
  • In a last battle between Karli and Sam, he refuses to fight her. No matter how much she wants him to hit her back, he stands firm, but in a stand-off, Sharon takes it into her own hands to save Sam and kills Karli in the process. I’m sure this hurt Sharon, because she was her protegee, but I can also see her doing it as an insurance policy so that no one knows her identity as the Power Broker (just like she presumably killed Batroc because of the same reason – I phrase it like that, because we never saw a body after the lights went out).
  • Karli ultimately dies in Sam’s arms, apologizing with her last breath. I’m sad that’s how Karli’s story ended, making her a martyr when other characters were given redemption instead. All the while, Bucky and Walker use the Flag Smasher app to round them up and arrest them.
  • One of the most beautiful and meaningful moments of the episode and the first real emotional scene after the fighting is done comes when Sam talks to the GRC. His speech is live-broadcasted everywhere as he presses for the GRC to reconsider their stance and does so masterfully. His words really hit home and I was with him every single second of that scene. It all boiled down to how you use the power you are given, a message that has been woven into the series as a whole.
  • As the Flag Smasher super soldiers were supposed to get transported to the Raft, we can see their car explode. It was caused by Zemo’s butler, who ultimately made sure that Zemo’s plan to not let any super soldiers (aside from Bucky) live was being seen through. I honestly didn’t expect to see him again this episode, but oh wow, did he look happy when he heard that they did not survive the explosion. I can’t help but wonder what he would do if he knew that Walker had taken the serum too. Does he know?
  • Valentina also came back this episode and is still as mysterious as ever. I cannot tell who she is working with, but she officially made John Walker U.S. Agent and I did not like that one bit. I suppose it was always going to go this way, but the fact that he gets to operate officially as U.S. Agent after what he did as Captain America is wrong on so many levels.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Bucky really listened to Sam last week and made some more amends. We can see him telling Yori the truth about his son and then gifting his notebook with all the names crossed off, accompanied by a thank you card, to his therapist Dr. Raynor. It was brief, but none the less emotional and I am happy to see Bucky on a journey to healing.
  • Whenever Anthony Mackie and Carl Lumbly (as Isaiah Bradley) have shared the screen this season, they have given us amazing scenes together. This finale was no exception and my heart soared when Isaiah admitted that Sam was someone special. You could really see that glimmer of hope returning to his eyes and it made me so happy. Even more emotional was the moment Sam showed Isaiah and Eli an installation in Steve Roger’s museum, which was specifically dedicated to Isaiah’s life and good deeds. Him returning his history to him, making sure people would never forget what he sacrificed ever again – I love when a story comes full circle!
credit: Marvel Studios
  • The season ends with Bucky in Sam’s hometown, joking with kids and letting them play with his arm and people fawning over Sam. The music, the atmosphere, the imagery – everything was so much brighter, happier and more hopeful and I adored that as a conclusion! Also, I could have just interpreted too much into it, but I liked that Bucky was on Sam’s right in that final shot, because Steve is always going to be on his left.
credit: Marvel Studios

Post-credit scene: Once again, the final episode had a post credit scene where we see Sharon Carter getting her full pardon, as Sam promised he would make sure she’d get. It’s clear that she is going to use her reinstated title to further her business as the Power Broker, setting her up to be a future antagonist.

credit: Marvel Studios

I think it was clear that I loved a lot of moments in this final episode. I do have my quarrels with the lack of depth for Sharon as the Power Broker, because that was all very vague, but could also be a potential set up for future seasons/movies. And in addition to that, I didn’t like this attempted “redemption” for John Walker. I’m not sure that really conveyed the right message there, but then again, they didn’t say he was good … for now. I’d much rather focus on the character development we got for Sam and Bucky and how much I’m going to miss them for now. I am sure we will see these characters again in some of the upcoming movies, but even more so, I hope we see them once more for a season of

Captain America and the Winter Soldier

(although I think it should be Captain America and the White Wolf, but baby steps)


PREVIOUS THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER REVIEWS


Now, let me bid you goodbye with these weekly Friday reviews for now! I might see you again when Loki comes around. Please let me know in the comments if that is something you would be interested in! And of course, let’s talk all things Captain America and the Winter Soldier!

Thursday Movie Picks – Psychological Thriller

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

This week is all about Psychological Thrillers. I like them more than regular crime or horror movies, but once again, not my field of expertise. I’m such a sucker for fluff and comedy and just regular dramas, but this darker stuff really isn’t my wheelhouse. I will still try to give you my best picks!

*the genre of the following movies is probably debatable, but I picked them from the most popular list of psycho thrillers on IMDB … so, take up the classification with them*

Gossip

I watched this movie up and down when I was younger. It actually has a really excellent cast, but barely anyone I know has seen it. Basically, it’s a study of what happens when you put fake rumors into the world and how wrong things go when they develop a life of their own.

Ex Machina

I like my thrillers sci-fi based? Again, Ex Machina has a fantastic cast and deserved its praise back in the day. They weren’t the first to talk about sentient “machines”, but they did it well and I enjoyed it quite more than I expected.

The Invisible Man

I rarely do horror, but Oliver Jackson Cohen is the exception! He can get me to watch just about anything (I really mean that. I watched some terrible stuff, but also brilliant projects he was in) and he is one of my favorite on screen villains. Although, I also love it when he is the genuine love interest … anyway – probably not the most impacting horror movie ever, but the reality of someone gaslighting you and making you seem crazy to the world is my worst nightmare!

Inception

So many friends tell me they were confused by the movie, but I wasn’t really and I loved the dream-hopping and idea planting. Is it really a thriller? I don’t know, but it has several psychological aspects and it was number one on the imdb list.


What are some psychological thrillers you enjoyed? Did you watch any of the ones I mentioned?

Spring Cleaning Book Tag!

I’ve seen this tag around and I was like “Should I do it? Should I not?”, because I hate cleaning … BUT then the lovely Orang-utan Librarian tagged me for the Spring Cleaning Book Tag and I was all in. Originally, this tag was created by booktuber Jen @ Book Syrup. Let’s get started!

THE STRUGGLE OF GETTING STARTED: A BOOK/BOOK SERIES THAT YOU HAVE STRUGGLED TO BEGIN BECAUSE OF ITS SIZE.

A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara has caught my eye a long time ago, but it’s massive! The edition I saw on Goodreads has more than 700 pages and I’m not going to lie to you, I struggle with 500 pages already. I used to devour books of that size when I was younger, seeing it as a challenge and validation to get through them, but now they just scare me. Still, many have praised the emotional impact of A Little Life, so … I’d like to read it someday.

CLEANING OUT THE CLOSET: A BOOK AND/OR BOOK SERIES YOU WANT TO UNHAUL.

I actually unhauled about 60 books these past months and managed to either give some to family or sell them via an online reseller for used books. I didn’t get a lot of money, but more than I would have likely managed to get at a flea market (which aren’t happening due to the pandemic anyway). So, it’s really difficult to think of books I don’t want to have anymore. Maybe I would let go of my Game of Thrones books. I read them a while ago, never finished the last one and just sort of feel like I am over the series, even if new books should release eventually. They are also just cheap paperbacks, so I am not attached to them because of aesthetic reasons either.

OPENING WINDOWS AND LETTING FRESH AIR IN: A BOOK THAT WAS REFRESHING.

The Summer of Broken Rules

I haven’t been super excited about books for a while, but this year has been great so far. I was especially fond of The Summer of Broken Rules, because it reignited my love for contemporaries. It was fun and emotional too and made me feel like I was really on vacation (which I could so need at this point). It might be a pretty regular formula for a book, but to me it was a breath of fresh air on my shelf.

Read my full review of the book HERE.

WASHING OUT SHEET STAINS: A BOOK YOU WISH YOU COULD REWRITE A CERTAIN SCENE IN.

Charming as a Verb

There is one scene in Charming as a Verb that made me so disappointed in the main character. It created one of the biggest conflicts, so it was obviously necessary for the story, but I just wanted Henri and Corinne to be happy. If that scene was rewritten, they’d have had the cutest story! Still, Ben Philippe has quickly become one of my auto-buy authors. I adore all his characters.

My full review of the book can be found HERE.

THROWING OUT UNNECESSARY KNICK-KNACKS: A BOOK IN A SERIES THAT YOU DIDN’T FEEL WAS NECESSARY.

This might be an unpopular opinion, but … I do not think the continuation of the Shatter Me series (hence everything after Ignite Me) was strictly necessary and even contradicted some of the earlier books. I’m not saying they are terrible, but I just didn’t connect to them as much. The writing style was different and the elements I liked most gone. Tahereh Mafi is still an excellent writer and I enjoy her books very much. Also, no shade on anyone who was into the series continuation, but it just wasn’t for me.

POLISHING THE DOORKNOBS: A BOOK THAT HAD A CLEAN FINISH.

The Dire King (Jackaby, #4)

I think I like books with ambiguous endings that still feel like they make sense. When everything is up to interpretation to you, but the journey there gives you clear indications of what you’re supposed to think? So, this question has me struggling a little bit, because apparently I’m messy.

I really like how the Dire King, the final book in the Jackaby series, ended and came together though. I’m obviously not going to go into detail because of spoilers, but the series as a whole is really worth the read!

My review for book 1 can be read here and for the final book here.

REACHING TO DUST THE FAN: A BOOK THAT TRIED TOO HARD TO RELAY A CERTAIN MESSAGE.

A Pocketful of Crows

I’m not sure A Pocketful of Crows tried to convey a message too hard, but I didn’t enjoy the message I was getting. Basically, this supposedly whimsical and poetic story was of the opinion that it’s fine to seek revenge, that it’s the eternal circle of life to punish those who wronged you. I did not agree with that one bit.

THE TIRING YET SATISFYING FINISH OF SPRING CLEANING: A BOOK SERIES THAT WAS TIRING YET SATISFYING TO GET THROUGH.

After an exhausting summer, where I missed my friends and turned to every distraction I could find, I binge-read the True Blood books. They were … not all great? Very repetitive in part, but unlike many, many, many others, I really enjoyed the final book. The ending made a lot of sense to me and I would have actually preferred the show to go a similar way, but yeah.


I TAG THEE

Whoever wants to do this! As you can see on the post I took this from, there’s actually a prompt to tag four people, but I’d rather give the option to whoever WANTS to do the Spring Cleaning Book Tag! It’s all yours!!


What did you think of my answers? Did you like seeing a book tag on the blog again? Let’s chat!

 

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Episode 5 “Truth” Review

You know how it works, but I will repeat it either way that the following review/recap of episode 5 called “Truth” of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will include spoilers and is meant to be read after watching the show! You have been warned!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Walker has to deal with the repercussions of his actions, while Sam turns inward to figure out his next move.

My thoughts?

I don’t believe a lot of the sites that spread rumors about cameos and episode lengths (we all know where that got us wit WandaVision), but “Truth” really was the longest episode of the season thus far. I’m phrasing it like that, because if we detract the endless credits, it really was only fives minutes longer than previous ones. Still, I enjoyed it a lot.

On the one hand, there was a lot happening and happening fast, but this felt like a more quiet episode compared to the others. We finally got some really great introspective moments with Sam and I cannot wait what it will lead up to in next week’s finale. Considering that this was the penultimate episode and we still had a lot of loose ends, I thought it made everything come together and moved it towards a singular destination quite well. I’ve mentioned this before, but I doubt any of the MCU shows will be completely resolved in their storylines, but I like where The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is headed.

Let’s break down what happened in “Truth”:

  • Sam and Bucky don’t hesitate to confront John Walker after his unhinged execution of the Flag Smasher. In his delusion, he still believes he can be Captain America and that the man he killed was actually responsible for Lemar’s death.
    The fight that ensues is brutal and results in a glitching arm for Bucky, ripped off wings for Sam and John Walker’s arm getting broken in order to take the shield from him. In a gesture that could be an admission that the shield is rightfully his (but had underlying tones of disgust for it being soiled with blood), Bucky throws the shield to Sam, who cleans it.
  • We haven’t seen much of Torres in the past episodes, but he still is as much of the upbeat puppy as when we first met him. I don’t know if I am projecting on him, but it always feels like he is fangirling over Sam and Bucky just as much as me. When Sam turns to leave and Torres reminds him of the broken wings he left behind, Sam tells him to keep them, turning this into another hint that Joaquín Torres will be the next Falcon.
  • John’s murder spree is a huge international incident and we soon see him stripped of his title, authority, benefits and retirement. I wish real life consequences for perpetrators like him would also be as swift, but at least they held him accountable immediately, even if he doesn’t seem to have to serve any kind of sentence? The people in charge credit their lenient decision on his infallible behavior thus far, making Walker get even madder, because he only ever did what he was told. I can’t help but agree that these people made him into who he is now, or at least were partially responsible for it. Letting him just walk off still seemed incredibly dangerous though.
  • As Walker and his wife talk about their next steps (he wants to run away, she wants him to meet with Lemar’s family) we get an appearance I did not see coming. Enter Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine! (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) I can’t tell who or what exactly she will be in the MCU, but in the comics, she was a former SHIELD agent turned terrorist, also known as Madame Hydra. She used to date Fury but also flirted quite a bit with Steve, which led to a frosty relationship with Sharon Carter, who was dating him at the time. All of this obviously won’t be replicable on the show, but there are many possibilities for her role in all of it. Is she the power broker? Does she work with the power broker? Is she feuding with Sharon here as well? It’s interesting to introduce a character like her so close to the finale and it definitely isn’t a good sign that she is interested in Walker.
  • Last week, Zemo ran off, but it didn’t take Bucky long to find him in Sokovia and confront him. While Zemo tries to convince Bucky one last time that the only option to contain Karli is to kill her, he eventually just seems resigned to his fate when he gets taken in by the Dora Milaje. I’m glad Bucky came around and worked together with them.
    It seems like this was the end of Zemo’s storyline, which was a little anti-climactic, but at the same time necessary? He will live out his days at the Raft to pay for his crimes (which will be much harder to escape from), he did what he needed to do for our heroes and he even took the liberty of crossing off his name from Bucky’s book. There’s not much more he could possibly add in my humble opinion, unless you were just here for his snark and charm, which was obviously fun.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Sam, now in possession of the shield, meets with Isaiah to learn about what happened back in the day. The parallels of his accounts to real life events such as the Tuskegee experiments are still chilling. And you understand Isaiah’s anger and reluctance to have any part in this star-spangled madness, but at the same time you can see Sam struggling with what he learns. We as the viewers KNOW that Sam is everything Captain America is supposed to be. He deserves to carry that shield and title, but does America deserve him in that role? 

“They will never let a black man be Captain America. And even if they did, no self-respecting black man would ever want to be.”

  • After his talk with Isaiah, Sam goes home to his sister and nephews and a series of really amazing scenes follow. This episode showcased the importance of community, as Sam called in some favors and was gladly helped, because his family always made sure to help others as well. There’s a montage of Sam and Bucky, who joined him, fixing the family boat. Just two guys working side by side, no words needed.
    Sam and Bucky also finally have that heart to heart that they so direly needed, where Bucky admits that neither Steve nor he ever considered what it would feel like for a black man to be handed the shield. I liked that he acknowledged being unable to put himself into Sam’s shoes and apologizing for his previous behavior. That self-awareness is a great step in the right direction and their bonding moments are everything to me.
    It is followed by some tough love from Sam, resulting Bucky to want to do the work and not look to others to define who he is anymore. He wants to make those people on his list, the ones he has wronged, feel better instead of making himself feel better about what he did. And while there are many, he just needs to start with one and I wonder if we will meet Yori from episode 1 again. Either way – baby steps.
    They part ways, but it is pretty clear that they will always be there for each other when needed, because they are a team, whether they want to admit it or not.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • The montage of Sam training with the shield was everything! He doesn’t need superstrength to wield it either.
  • Sam also has a lovely moment with his sister after they fixed the boat. She ends up not wanting to sell it, making Sam incredibly happy, because that boat is part of their history and it would be a shame to let go of it. This mirrors the conversation he had with Isaiah, where he revealed that the government erased him, his history. They had been doing it to Black people for 500 years and to not let Sam get his history taken away was a great moment. Also, while Sam told Bucky to not let others define who he is, it is Sam who needs the reminder from his sister that Isaiah cannot dictate how he handles the legacy of the shield. The continued connection between the scenes was amazing.
  • Before I forget it, Bucky and Sarah meeting was the cutest thing ever! Despite Sam telling Bucky to not flirt with his sister, I ship it. Their smiles were so wide and genuine and adorable.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Sharon, once again, was only briefly in this episode and I have no idea what to think. She called Batroc, who we remember from the movies as well as the first fight scene in episode 1 of the show, to get him a job. She was responsible for him not rotting in an Algerian prison and it sounded like she was the one calling the shots on his last mission. A mission where he fought the Falcon and now wants revenge on him. If you didn’t believe Sharon was involved in some shady stuff before (which you should, considering that she was literally an illegal arts dealer in a city full of mercenaries and pirates), you should now. I am unclear what her end goal is and I’m a bit impatient about the show holding back on her story so much.
  • At the end of the episode, a fed up Karli is ready to attack. The GRC is holding a vote on what to do with the refugees and she is not about to just let them to do what they want. In order to reach her goal, she is partnering up with Batroc, who wants to kill the Falcon in return for his help. (Did Sharon just set up Sam? Or did she use Batroc to get to Karli?) Every episode, Karli’s inner circle questions her more and we could see they weren’t thrilled to work with a known criminal. I wonder how deep their loyalty to her really runs …
  • Back home, Sam realizes what Karli has planned and gets the box Bucky brought from the Wakandans (a favor he called in and which Ayo seemingly granted, although she had just told the White Wolf to make himself rare in Wakanda) to join the fight in New York City where the GRC meeting is attacked. We still don’t know what’s in the box! Is it new wings? Is it a Captain America suit? It BETTER be the suit! I cannot wait to find out!
credit: Marvel Studios

We have a post-credit scene again! The first one of the season and it shows Walker making his own shield, clearly still not having let go of the idea that he is Captain America and has to avenge Lemar.

In general, I thought it was a really good penultimate episode. We moved along quite a lot in the plot, got great character moments for almost everyone, but especially Sam. I wanted that for him so bad and the show delivered, even if there is still a lot of pain involved. I honestly am excited and cannot wait to see what the finale holds in store for us! A showdown with Walker and Karli is more or less guaranteed.


Fun fact I posted last week, but wasn’t sure if everyone saw: Marvel has set up a tourism website for Madripoor, which you can visit under exploremadripoor.com. It will let you click through several pages with hidden images and wanted posters. If you need passwords to enter certain areas, I also got you!

The art auction can be entered with the code “sharoncarter” and the docks with “powerbroker”. When you are in the container area, you may also search for any random container you like by entering a four-digit-number. E.g. 1273 will show you Sharon’s wanted poster, whereas 4261 was the container Dr. Nagel was in and will show footage from episode 3. Allegedly, some containers used to show names of X-Men such as Mystique, but have since been removed.

AND the string of numbers on the wanted posters for each character feature the date and issue the characters made their comic book debut. As I said, Marvel and its little details.


PREVIOUS THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER REVIEWS


What did you think of Truth? Did you enjoy it or wanted something more action packed for the penultimate episode? Let’s talk!

Thursday Movie Picks – Female Cinematographers

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

Today’s theme was suggested by Brittani and is Female Cinematographers. I am really into this, because I enjoyed doing the Female Directors list a LOT! I’m always up for celebrating women in film and TV at any hour. For those who don’t know, a cinematographer, sometimes also known as the Director of Photography, is in charge of the camera and lighting, hence dictating a lot of the visual style (framing, look, color, light, etc.) of the final product. Let’s see who my favorites are!

A Quiet Place – Charlotte Bruus Christensen

I don’t usually do horror. People who know me are aware that I tried branching out and experiencing new things these past years, but as a general rule, I don’t do horror. With A Quiet Place, I was immediately engrossed though and honestly enjoyed the whole thing. I was never too grossed out by anything, but thought that it had a cohesive look and great embodiment of that post-apocalyptic hermit lifestyle.

Further examples of her work: Molly’s Game, Fences, The Girl on the Train, Life, …

Beastly – Mandy Walker

I cannot help myself in putting one the movies that catered to my teen heart like nothing else in these posts. I stopped trying to suppress that part of myself a long time ago and it is just facts that I enjoy and adore watching teen angst filled movies and Beastly is one I have seen more times than I can count. I just think it is fascinating how Mandy Walker has done those epic gorgeous gems that often did well during award seasons, but also does teen movies like this one and Red Riding Hood. I love a woman who can do both!

Further examples of her work: Mulan, Hidden Figures, Australia, Tracks, Red Riding Hood, …

Black Panther – Rachel Morrison

Do I really have to explain the cultural significance of Black Panther? I think not. Rachel Morrison’s filmography proves that she is more than capable and she was the first woman to ever get nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography (for Mudbound at the time).

Further examples of her work: Fruitvale Station, Cake, Dope, Mudbound, …

The Pretty One – Polly Morgan

I figured why not include a little indie movie? I probably remember this one more due to Zoe Kazan’s performance than the overall cinematography, but Polly Morgan has done a lot of work since then and has moved on to far bigger projects.

Further examples of her work: A Quiet Place II, The Truth About Emanuel, Lucy in the Sky, …

Gloria Bell – Natasha Braier

Gloria Bell is not one of my favorite movies, however, to my shame, the only one I have seen of Natasha Braier YET. Still, despite the narrative not being my thing, which really isn’t her fault one bit, it was an example of just how well Braier handles color. The remainder of her filmography showcases this as well and I am really looking forward to watching some of these movies some day for the aesthetics alone. It’s also interesting to me that she is quite in demand when it comes to music videos, but with her style, it’s really no surprise.

Further examples of her work: The Neon Demon, Honey Boy, Gringo, …


Who are some of your favorite women cinematographers? Let’s talk!