Detective Pikachu (2019) – Review

The image shows a cartoon image of Pikachu (a small yellow Pokemon with long pointy ears) with its mouth open and eyes wide in surprise“Do we really need another childhood nostalgia movie?” I asked, as we wandered through the park on the way to the cinema. “Haven’t they all been done by now?”

The picture on the left is my face, 5 minutes into the movie.

It turns out that we do need more childhood nostalgia movies – or at least, more movies like Detective Pikachu. Against all the odds, against the entire track record of live-action movies about cartoon characters, Detective Pikachu is a really great film. Let’s get into it.

Continue reading “Detective Pikachu (2019) – Review”

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First Man, Hidden Figures, and the Race for Space

Buzz Aldrin Apollo 11 Moon landingThe latest bout of 20th century nostalgia has been taking us back to the 1960s. Something about violent social conflicts, the constant threat of international war, and egomaniacs spending millions of dollars on space travel seems to strike a chord with artists and audiences in 2019. I wonder why.

Snark aside, I like this trend. The story of space exploration is a story of disasters, near-misses and over-spending. But it also brings out the best in us: adventure, imagination, and collaboration. In this post, we’ll look at three different ways that story has been told.

Continue reading “First Man, Hidden Figures, and the Race for Space”

Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata (Review)

Convenience Store Woman Convenience Store Woman has been a bestseller in Japan since 2016, and was released in English last year as a translation by Ginny Tapley Takemori. So, because this is a blog for book nerds (among other types), we’re going to review both the story and the translation.

The story goes like this: Keiko is a woman who doesn’t understand the rules. Nobody seems to like the way she is, so she watches other people to see how they behave, and then copies them. She finds work in a chain convenience store because they have an employee manual that tells her exactly what to do. How to stand, how to say hello, how to move.

But it’s still not enough; she still doesn’t fit in. Everyone wants her to get a career, a husband and a baby. And when she meets a man who is desperate for a girlfriend and a place to stay, she thinks she has found the solution. Continue reading “Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata (Review)”

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) – Review

Mamma Mia 2018 review

Why do you watch musicals? If you have any sense, you go for the music and dancing. It is a fatal mistake to actually notice the story, script, or underlying themes.

If you like ABBA songs (yes, you do), then you will enjoy the music and dancing in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. If you are a fool like me, and make the mistake of having more than two brain cells, then you will wish for death. Here, in no particular order, are all the reasons why I hated this film. Here, I am very much afraid, we go again.

 

Continue reading “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) – Review”

Mission: Impossible – from I to Fallout

Mission Impossible Fallout book reviewI would like to begin with an apology. Right now, there are 7 drafts sitting in my review folder. I have indie films to analyze, antique anthropology to bring back into the light, and a hatchet job on Mamma Mia 2 which consumes me with evil joy.

But nothing – nothing – can come before Mission: Impossible. I am totally biased on this topic. I have been nurturing weird fan theories for years, so as well as a review, you are going to have to sit through the internet equivalent of someone sitting at a bar emanating weird smells and muttering to themselves.

I’m probably going to get kicked off the blog for this. Thanks for the excuse to rewatch the series. Continue reading “Mission: Impossible – from I to Fallout”

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr (Review)

9781501173219_p0_v3_s550x406Radio is not fashionable any more. The rot (or the revolution, depending on your view) set in years ago: television, online music downloads and auto-suggested playlists, smartphones. More and more people are listening to podcasts, but podcasts are a very different beast to radio. They’re full of star appearances telling sob stories, built into very specific media niches like weird deep-sea anemones. You have to be the right person for a podcast.

But radio is for everyone. If you have ever been awake late, alone, and turned on the radio, you will know what I mean. A quiet voice on the airwaves is one of the most comforting things there is. This is why people write so many books about the shipping forecast, or mount national protests when the BBC tries to close a station.

All the Light We Cannot See begins just as the lights are going out across Europe. In a bare Paris flat, in a cold German orphanage, in a beachside house with all the doors and windows sealed shut, a single voice is heard on the wireless: a rich, warm voice, explaining what the moon is made of or how electricity works. The kind of voice that can light a fire in a cold room. A voice for radio. Continue reading “All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr (Review)”

The Vietnam War: a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (2017) – Review

The_Vietnam_War_(TV_series)_title_cardThe greatest movie I have ever seen is The Deer Hunter, released in 1978 and starring Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro, among a galaxy of other Hollywood notables. It was gripping, gritty, expertly produced, shudderingly authentic. I never ever want to watch it again.

Like many people, I am absolutely fascinated by media about the Vietnam War – fascinated, and sometimes disgusted or horrified. I am interested in war movies, in general. They represent a huge number of films made since the industry began, to distract the population, to raise morale, or as naked propaganda.

There are classic comedies of resistance: Whisky Galore!, Closely Observed Trains. Thrillers: The Guns of Navarone, Ice Cold in Alex, The Hunt for Red October. Breakthroughs so radical they must have seemed like science fiction: The Dambusters, The First of the Few. But the Vietnam War seems to have cast its own particular spell over people. Continue reading “The Vietnam War: a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (2017) – Review”