Testament of Youth Review

A while ago I watched the Trailer for Testament of Youth and I knew I wanted to know more about it. I bought the book or rather the memoirs of Vera Brittain, which the movie is based on, but I haven’t managed to finish it yet. Nonetheless, I finally decided to watch the movie and I do not regret not having waited any longer! I will keep this post Spoiler-free but I cannot say the same about the comments!

Here some basic facts:

Genre: Biography/Drama/History

Length: 129  minutes

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Colin Morgan, Taron Egerton, Hayley Atwell, Emily Watson, Dominic West, Miranda Richardson …

Director: James Kent 

Testament of Youth is the real account of Vera Brittain’s life and keeping that in mind, the movie was just so much more heartfelt and heartbreaking than I thought it would be. I can tell you that they did not stick to the book a 100%, but that was a thing of impossibility anyway. What fascinated me so much about it though, was that the point of view wasn’t from someone at the front, someone involved in the actual fighting, but rather the view of a person who got left behind. Vera does everything possible to be of help, joining the volunteers as a nurse and in that way she witnesses her own horrors of war.

I always have my problems with war stories. There are never any real winners. Yet, the movie shows why people joined up, what their course of thinking was – their motivation. It also shows how war changed them and in consequence also their lives, their thinking and the people they love. Towards the end Vera gives an impressive speech in front of a pro-war crowd and she makes it her duty to never forget what happened to the people she cared about. I think we can all agree that she succeeded in doing that.

The movie is so beautiful and sad to watch (I’ll admit to having cried … a lot). The combination of strong visual pictures and quite striking poetry was extremely touching. Everyone involved did an extraordinary job and I was delighted with the work of  Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Colin Morgan (Merlin), Taron Egerton (Kingsman) and even Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) whom I barely recognised at first. The real reason to watch is Alicia Vikander (Ex_Machina) though! She gives a strong, sympathetic and worthwhile performance, that I’ll be sure to remember.

Fazit: very recommendable!

Have you watched it as well? Have any of you read Vera’s memoirs?

Lust for Love Review

I feel like writing today, so here’s my recommendation #2 for Valentine’s Day: Lust for Love! Again, beware of Spoilers ahead!

Here the basic facts:

Genre: Romance/Comedy

Length: 85  minutes

Cast: Fran Kranz, Dichen Lachman, Beau Garrett, Caitlin Stasey, Enver Gjokaj, Karim Saleh, Miracle Laurie, Felicia Day, Jonathan Oldham, Maurissa Tancheroen …

Director/Writer: Anton King

Astor has dreamed to be with Mila his whole life. So, when they finally get together, he’s the happiest man on the planet. Too bad Mila doesn’t feel the same way and breaks up with him before the relationship really started. To win her back, Astor seeks the help of Cali, Mila’s former best friend, who’s supposed to make him a real player with women. Things get complicated when feelings don’t just evolve for Mila but Cali as well and Astor has to choose who he really wants to be with.

Let me start by saying that I adore this movie – there is literally nothing I don’t love about it! (Except maybe for the fact that it was too short and I could have watched it all day long!)

  • I love the cast, because it feels like a long overdue reunion of one of my favourite shows on the planet: Dollhouse. For everyone who knows the show, you’ll understand this: It’s like Topher got a day off to play with the dolls and he decided to let everyone fall in love with him. That alone should get you to want to watch it! But everyone on the movie is just amazing – I mean the minor characters were casted with real stars like Felicia Day or Caitlin Stasey (Reign) to name just a few.
  • It is one of the rare cases where the music from the Trailer was actually used during the movie and I love that as well.
  • The story is sweet and hilarious and cool at the same time and just strikes the right balance for me. You root for Astor the entire time, because he’s just so relatable that you ship him with everyone he meets. I personally would have even liked to see him with Miracle Laurie‘s character Jenny, just because she seemed to be genuinely interested in him and that even though she wasn’t even part of the main cast.
  • Last but not least, it’s just one of those movies that’s really beautiful to watch.

So, after Not Another Happy Ending this is my other go-to-movie for Valentine’s Day! Enjoy it and tell me what you think!

Comet Review

A couple of months back, I was raving about the trailer for Comet to all my friends . It looked so beautiful, endearing and, as always, I am a complete sucker for the boy-meets-girl-with-a-twist kind of story. So, now that I finally got to watch the whole thing and not just impressions of it, I decided to write a little review. Spoilers ahead!

Before we get into the actual review, here a few facts:

Genre: Drama/Romance (imdb would also like to have me believe it’s a comedy, but I really don’t think so)

Length: 91 minutes

Cast: Emmy Rossum, Justin Long, Eric Winter, Kayla Servi …

Director: Sam Esmail

In the movie, you see the relationship of the perfectly paired duo Emmy Rossum and Justin Long unfold over the course of 6 years. It all starts at a meteor shower, but you just get glimpses of their life, not necessarily in chronological order. Dell (Justin Long) is a bitter, cynic, smart-ass narcissist, while Kimberly (Emmy Rossum) is beautiful, witty, crazy and fun – of course they hit it off right away. I’m not sure Esmail really managed to “re-invent” the boy-meets-girl drama, but the two main characters have a certain fascination to them and so does the movie.

The first thing I noticed (besides the great choice of music) was that it’s visually stunning, even poetic at times. That alone should get you to want to watch it in a movie theatre, but otherwise I sometimes felt lost. I understand that, just like a painting, Comet does not have a traditional beginning, middle and end, but during the entire time I was watching it, there was this alien feeling to it, and you just knew that something wasn’t quite right. Apparently the whole story is set in a parallel universe, but to me, it seemed much more like a dream; thoughts bouncing back and forth at random, or in this case, Esmail switching between channels, jumping through time. It’s not just the time jumping though, every part of the story has a unique visual style to it and while it’s truly beautiful, I kept wondering if it were several different parallel universes where Dell and Kim met each time instead of just one. Also, it seemed like they were stuck in a loop, always ending up the same way which made for an abrupt ending of the film. You spend one and a half hours investing your emotions into this relationship, just to get it taken away without real conclusion. I suppose that’s what bothered me most; not knowing if they got together or not.

All in all it seemed like a mix between (500) Days of Summer and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to me, which I can’t say is a bad thing. I still have so many questions about the movie and I guess if that was Esmail‘s goal, he succeeded. It’s definitely one of the better Indie movies out there, because even though it’s confusing, you never stop watching. Did any of you see it as well? What was your opinion?

2014 – blogging in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for my blog and I wanted to share it with you. What a fantastic year it has been and that’s all thanks to you!

Here’s an excerpt:

  • The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
  • The busiest day of the year was September 3rd with 666 views.
  • I wrote 90 posts this year and my longest streak was 5 posts in a row.
  • As of today, the most viewed posts were about Caleb Ruminer and Our Girl!
  • People from 121 countries visited my blog! (Muhahaha, I’m taking over the world!)
  • Funnily enough, people weren’t just referred to my blog from Facebook and Twitter, but also from a dating advice site. I’m not sure they found what they were looking for, but it’s still interesting information to me.

So I hope we can keep this up the next year and maybe we’ll even manage to grow our little community a bit. Again thank you for all your support and a Happy New Year from me (even if it’s a bit in advance)!

Downton Abbey Christmas Special 2014

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a bit of Downton Abbey. As always a lot happens when it comes to the family and staff residing at Downton. Spoilers ahead!

Downton Abbey - ITV

No different than in any other episode of Downton Abbey, I am clueless as to where to start especially since this one was two hours long. So much happened and very little actually had to do with Christmas, but let’s get started:

  • Anna is in prison now and it doesn’t look too good for her. Bates of course can’t watch her getting convicted, so he signs a confession and flees to Ireland until they’re both proven innocent. Those two seriously never get a break. Anna can’t enjoy being back at Downton without her love, but then gets surprised by Bates at Christmas, after Molesley can prove that he wasn’t in London during the time of the murder. Now, I hope that Anna doesn’t get imprisoned again, but I also still wonder who actually did it.
  • Andy the footman who helped out in London now works at Downton.
  • Everyone in the family (except for Mary) knows that Marygold is Edith‘s daughter. I’m so happy for her and you can visibly see that a heavy weight was lifted from her shoulders when Lord Grantham “forgave” her. Their might even have been a new love interest for her in form of the agent from York, but I am not sure.
  • Speaking of love interest! Lady Mary has a new one in with the name of Henry Talbot (portrayed by the very handsome and dashing Matthew Goode). I very much approve, in fact I am jealous! She always gets the best love interests and that even though she’s still extremely mean to Edith, who’s been a lot nicer and a good person in general the past seasons.
  • The feud between Spratt and Ms Denkers is hilarious!
  • I am so glad that Rose and Atticus are still happy! Those two are lovely and they deserve it! Even Lord Sinderby now approves of Rose, even though I sincerely hope that it doesn’t blow up in her face one day that she helped him cover up an illegitimate child. Atticus surely won’t be too joyous when he finds out. But maybe he never will since he’s probably moving to New York with Rose sometime soon.
  • Barrow was once again at his best while scheming against the Butler at York. You definitely don’t want to mess with him!
  • The old Lady Grantham helped Princess Kuragin to come to Britain and therefore declined Prince Kuragin. While she still liked getting the proposition at her age, she just couldn’t go with it. We finally get the whole story between her and the Prince and that is great.
  • While I am sure that Doctor Clarkson isn’t too unhappy, I feel sorry for Lord Merton because Isobel keeps refusing him. She doesn’t want to have to deal with his disapproving sons, but I think that really shouldn’t be her main concern if Merton makes her happy.
  • It finally happened! I thought it never would and it was the sweetest moment ever! Carson asked Mrs Hughes to marry him! They are simply perfect for each other!
  • There was a slight scare that Lord Grantham might be sick and everyone was really concerned about it, but he just has to follow a strict diet and should feel better in no time. It’s a relief, because he really is a main component of this show!
  • Tom … my beloved Branson. It seems the time has come and he is actually leaving. It’s not like I don’t want him to succeed on his own, but I’ll terribly miss him, like everyone from the family will too. The most emotional moment from the episode was for me when he was in the childrens’ room and wanted to take a mental picture of everything. Edith and Mary joined him, they held hands and thought of Sybil. They were the ones supposed to grow old with her! While everyone did say their goodbyes to him, I won’t actually believe that he’s gone until he’s not at Downton anymore.

What were your thoughts about the Christmas Special? Did I miss an integral part?

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2014

Before I start this post: I wish all of you readers happy holidays! It’s been a great year and I am thankful for all the support I’ve got from you. I’m truly happy about every visit to my page, like and comment! Thanks!

Now, on to Doctor Who! Despite the fact that the episode was named after the single most terrible Christmas song ever produced, meaning Last Christmas, the episode wasn’t nearly as bad. Beware of Spoilers ahead!

Last Christmas … I don’t even know where to start. This was definitely the most Inception-like plot ever, because there were just so many dreams in dreams and technically we still don’t know if they woke up (just like in the movie). There were parts I really liked and others I didn’t like so much. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on this years’ Christmas Special of Doctor Who:

  • Nick Frost as Santa together with his elves was simply hilarious. Also I was very happy to see Nathan McMullen, who I first encountered on Misfits, in this episode. I like the way they incorporated Santa and left it open as to whether he truly exists or not, even though we don’t actually have Santa in my country and I never believed in him, the thought of him is quite nice. And just fyi: I like getting tangerines. They are totally yummy!
  • Leave it to Steven Moffat to make dreaming unsafe. I generally didn’t dislike the episode, but it was really confusing and even repetitive at times. A very interesting concept, but at times copied from Inception (as I mentioned above).
  • Unfortunately I didn’t care that much about the other dreamers. The only thing that was a bit interesting to see was where and how they woke up.
  • A lot of people wondered why the episode was called “Last Christmas” because there were so many rumours about Jenna Coleman leaving. In truth though, it was Clara‘s and Danny‘s last Christmas together. It was heartbreaking to see them part yet again. Danny is just too perfect, even if he was just a projection in a dream.
  • Well, Jenna Coleman didn’t leave, although I read somewhere that she had a change of heart at the last minute and that they had to rewrite the ending of the episode. (This information was never actually confirmed though) It was originally planned that Clara would die at old age with the Doctor visiting her for the last time. It doesn’t really matter now that that didn’t happen, although that part of was brilliant. The prosthetics didn’t look as terrible as they sometimes tend to look and I just loved the whole scene. The way the Doctor still saw her the way she looked like when she was young and Clara telling him that there was only one other man than Danny, but that he was impossible. In the end, I am very happy though to see her for at least another half-season. We’ll see if she still stays after that.
  • Clara and the Doctor on the sleigh was so cute and lovely. Another one of my favourite moments!
  • I’m not exactly sure I can pinpoint it, but a lot of this episode reminded me of Donna. The way Clara dreamt about her life with Danny, made me think of Donna while she was saved in the library and the Dream Crabs really reminded me of that thing on Donna’s back during Turn Left.
  • While we still don’t know when Series 9 will continue, we have a title for the first episode: The Magician’s Apprentice. Sounds interesting.

It may still not rank as one of my favourite Christmas Specials, but it wasn’t bad at all. I quite liked it, what about you? What are your thoughts?

NaNoWriMo Challenge Completed!

I did it! NaNoWriMo ends tomorrow, but I’ve reached 50K and simultaneously the end of my story today! I’m now an official NaNoWriMo winner and I have the certificate to prove it.

I wrote a book! Can you believe it? I know some of you doubted it, but … I’m just kidding. You guys have been crazy supportive all through NaNoWriMo and I’m incredibly grateful for that. So, before I continue to talk about the final week of writing I want to thank all of you for being the awesome and supportive people that you are!

Now, how did the writing fare this week? I think I went totally crazy towards the end. You have to know that I write best shortly before going to bed, because I feel the need to reach my daily goal. This has worked just fine most days, but I tend to finish with a scene, turn off my laptop and go to bed and then I would just lie there, not able to sleep whatsoever. My characters kept me awake with all the possibilities of what could happen to them next. I do have a notebook right beside my bed, but I always had the fear that I wouldn’t remember what my notes meant the next day and rather turned on the computer sometime after midnight than forget what I wanted to write about.

Writing the actual ending was the hardest. I’ve made up so much of the story as I went along, that I lost sight of how I wanted it to end. I got closer and closer to my desired word count, but the finish line still wasn’t in clear sight, because I just didn’t know what to write. In the end, I knew that I wanted to have some final reference to the title (which is “Break Up Buddy”, just fyi), but I had no idea how to get there. I’m not a big fan of cliffhangers at the end of books (unless they are a series), so I wanted to tie everything up nicely and in the end I think I did that.

Also, I think I went a little overboard with the final scenes, but that’s okay, because what matters most is that I have a finished first draft! I really wasn’t sure I would make it this far and now I have something to work with, something to revise and edit. To be honest, I already forgot some of the scenes I wrote and it will be one heck of a fun to re-read and re-visit everything I wrote, because I’m sure there are some hilarious typos and plot holes in there.

Now, how did your month go? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo as well? Did you reach your personal goal? I’d love to talk some more in the comments below!

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileIf you want to read more about my journey during this month, click on the links below:

Participation Announcement

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

My NaNoWriMo Playlist

NaNoWriMo Week 3

So, week 3 of NaNoWriMo has come and gone. Time’s just flying by! To catch up, you can read my recap of Week 1, Week 2 and the participation announcement by clicking on the links!

Since it’s become somewhat of a routine, I’ll start with my current word count again. As of right now, my novel consists of 32,493 words and today’s goal is 36,000. So, even though I am still behind, I did catch up a little and reached my personal goal of passing the 30K mark during week three.

Week three has been a bit strange for me though. It wasn’t as dreadful as Week two, but I did feel like inspiration wasn’t exactly on my side. More often than not, I was sitting in front of my laptop, wondering what on earth I could possibly write. I was supposed to have reached the halfway point of my story, not just my writing, but I felt a little lost. By now, I think I’ve actually accomplished getting beyond that mid-point and am now looking forward to tying up all the loose ends during the next week. I have some sort of idea where the story is supposed to end, but as I am making most of it up as I go along it might just turn out a little different than I thought.

The problem with making it up on the way is that it’s easy to get stuck. You didn’t think it through and therefore have no major plot points to hold on to. During the last weeks I found several things you can do, when you have no idea how to continue your story:

  • Do something crazy! Whether it’s introducing an odd character who’ll be gone in a couple of chapters never to return again or turning your main character’s life upside down by giving him/her amnesia – just try it! I had my doubts if that would work, but it just makes writing more interesting again. The thing is, when you’re bored writing something, the reader will probably be bored reading it, so don’t be afraid of spicing things up every once in a while. It doesn’t mean that you have to leave it in your final draft.
  • Let your characters go on a road trip! Sounds simple because it really is that simple. I thought it didn’t fit my story at all, but then I kept thinking about it and just wrote it and it was fun and opened my story up for a lot of new possibilities.
  • Play the “What if” game! What if the worst possible thing happens to my character? What if my character gets exactly what he/she wants? Think it through and you might find a new angle to your story.

There are tons of other things you can do, such as writing prompts, word sprints or looking through the motivational speeches NaNo sends you every week (by authors such as Stephanie Perkins and the likes). Whatever you do, don’t give up in the last week! I know that NaNo isn’t for everyone and it’s completely up to you if you want to throw the towel or not, but I have to write about 2,000 words every day to get to 50,000 and I don’t know if I’ll make it, but I’ll definitely try!

Happy writing everyone! How are you doing so far?

NaNoWriMo Playlist

So, I just posted about how my experience with NaNoWriMo was thus far (you can read about it in my recap of Week 1, Week 2 and the participation announcement), but I completely neglected to mention how important music is for me during the writing process. Sometimes the songs are directly connected to scenes in Break Up Buddy and others just get me pumped in general, or best case scenario inspired. Below you’ll find a list of the songs I most listened to so far, which I’ll simply title my NaNoWriMo Playlist (no need to be creative all the time). Just click on them and you’ll be redirected to a YouTube video. Happy writing to all of you!

Run Boy Run – Woodkid
Like Real People Do – Hozier
War Rages On – Alex Clare
Wasting My Young Years – London Grammar
Moving On – Paramore
Shot at the Night – The Killers
It’s Okay – Tom Rosenthal
Hunger of the Pine – alt-J
Hold Me – Tom Odell
Maps – Maroon 5
Tell Her – Rizzle Kicks
You & I – Crystal Fighters
Forever Ever – Bastille feat. Kate Tempest and Jay Brown
Of the Night – Bastille
I Found – Amber Run
Rules – Nat & Alex Wolff

What are some songs that inspire you or that you listen to during writing?

NaNoWriMo Week 2

As you already know, I am participating in NaNoWriMo this month. Click here if you want to know how the first week went, or here if you just want to know what I’m talking about in general.

So, to get it out of the way: I am massively behind on my word count. As of right now, I have written 19,090 words and I am supposed to reach 25,000 by the end of the day. Yep, something went wrong and unfortunately I know exactly what it was – the curse of Week 2! Okay, I’m just kidding. It was my own fault.

By the time you get to week two, a couple of things happen. On the one hand you are flirting with the idea of writing an entirely different story, but on the other hand you know exactly that you wouldn’t like that story much either, if you had started with it. So, it is wise to stick with what you got and to stop worrying if it is any good or not. The most important thing during NaNoWriMo is to keep writing, no matter what. But during the second week, you are bound to get tired of your own story, therefore you are allowed to take a few days off from writing, but not more than two consecutive days in a row. Well, I didn’t write for four days and it totally backfired. I lost touch with my story, had to re-read a lot of scenes because I forgot some things, which lead to me editing a lot more than I should and it just generally showed in my writing.

But right now, I am actually pretty happy with my “novel”. I like my characters and think they have potential, but I am not yet halfway through the story, which is a bit worrying. Things that I wanted to happen during the course of a year, happened within a week and I might have to edit that after November is done, but right now I’ll just focus on continuing the story the way it is at the moment. I often have the feeling that I’m running out of ideas, until something really funny comes to mind again. Writing truly was an up and down the past week.

So, what am I going to do the next week? I will try to catch up on my word count and I definitely want to get my story moving. I have the tendency to write a lot of dialogue, which doesn’t really move things along. I have no idea how this little project will turn out, but I can tell you one thing: I am not giving up!