Celluloid Diaries: Reading / watching / listening to...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Reading / watching / listening to...

Freak Unique The Double


* The Double by José Saramago. Remember how crazy I was about the movie Enemy after seeing it at the Sitges Film Festival last year? Well, The Double is the Nobel Prize winning novel on which that film was based. While the story is just as exceptional, I was unable to revel in the novel due to Saramago's overanalyzation, digression and awkward stream-of-consciousness style. Sentences of more than forty lines and just as many commas are prevailing, as is the use of capital letters where they shouldn't be, the discontinuation of thought processes and dialogue etc. He's very coherent in his incoherence, though, which makes him one of the most debated writers in today's literary world.

* Freak Unique by Pete Burns. I'm unsure what to even say about Pete Burns' autobiography. I like the person behind the book, and the parts about his creative self-doubt and about how he put his career aside to care for his terminally ill mother, are strangely similar to my own thoughts and experiences. He's also a real romantic at heart and the way he describes his recent affair is attaching. Sadly, Freak Unique feels rushed, as if Burns had to work against a tight deadline and lacked time to revise the book. Also, a large chunk of his autobiography reads as if a ghost writer jotted down the answers to an interview without any questions or structure whatsoever. A fascinating personality lost in first draft chaos.

* Chi's Sweet Home vol. 10 by Konami Kanata. If books could cure depression, then this hyper cute manga series about a cat would be the answer.


* The Returned / Les Revenants. In a secluded community in the Alps, several people who are presumed dead re-appear at their homes. They have not aged and they are unaware of their own fatality. Everything about this French TV series was perfect: the storyline, the filming locations, the soundtrack by Mogwai. Can't wait to see season two and the American remake.

* Sorcerer. In this seventies film, William Friedkin takes the meaning of misfortune and hopelessness to an entirely different level. Several outcasts are forced to work on an oil-drilling operation in South America. Just when they get the feeling that their situation can't get any worse, they are given the opportunity to earn enough money to escape the country by transporting six crates of unstable dynamite through the jungle. What follows is suspenseful and poignant to the extreme. One of Friedkin's very best.

* The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. I went to see this out of habit really, and also because I hadn't yet seen a movie at 48fps. While I'm still a fan of the series and its coziness, I have to admit that most of the magic is gone. And as for the 48fps, it's really not as bad as everyone says it is.

* Captain Phillips. The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking of his cargo ship by Somali pirates. The movie gets many excellent reviews, and while I can't say anything bad about it, it just wasn't as compelling for me as it was for so many others.

* After Porn Ends. What do porn stars do after their career is over? This documentary interviews some of the biggest names in the adult entertainment industry in order to give its viewers a good laugh. Definitely entertaining, but also a bit repetitive.

* Escape From The Planet Of The Apes. The simian astronauts Cornelius and Zira travel back in time and arrive on present day earth. They are treated to celebrity status until a government conspiracy forces them to run for their lives. Entirely different in tone than the previous Planet Of The Apes movies. Sometimes comedic in style, sometimes tragic, but always clever and original.

* Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. How many times did I watch this creepy alien invasion film before? Ten times? Maybe more. For once, the remake from 1978 is so much better than the original. Perfect film.

* Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. I was just going to watch fifteen minutes of Bad Grandpa during lunch, but ended up viewing the entire movie. Johnny Knoxville plays an old man who takes his grandson on a roadtrip flirting, insulting and farting across the US. Not very classy, but I almost choked laughing.

* You're Next. I'm late with this one, but as You're Next appeared in so many 'Best Horror Films Of 2013'-lists, I decided to give it a try. The ominous music and animal-mask-wearing-assailants definitely justify its success, but apart from that, it's just an ordinary slasher movie that tries way too hard to be cool for the suspense to work.

* Blue Jasmine. Woody Allen hasn't quite made a notable movie in years, but with Blue Jasmine he's back full force. As is usually the case with his best movies, an intensely moving character is at the heart of his brilliancy, in this case a formerly rich socialite who is now broke and unable to fend for herself, but who still behaves as if she's superior to others. The question is: will she learn from her mistakes or will she continue the downward spiral she's already in? Woody Allen tackles the subject with his typical lightness and humor, but there's no mistaking the depth and harshness of the subject.

* The Truth About Emanuel. This was my least favorite of the bunch. A young girl is hired as a babysitter and discovers that the baby in question is a doll. Afraid to hurt the mother's feelings, she decides to play the game along, thus challenging her own messed-up mind. Sadly, The Truth About Emanuel is as preposterous as its characters.

* The Final Terror. On many levels, this is your typical eighties slasher movie: a violent opening scene, a creepy campfire story in which background information is given, a hiking trip in the woods, a couple getting killed during intercourse... Like it or hate it. The Final Terror is better than average though if you compare it to other slasher movies of that era. Maybe it's the setting and atmosphere that reminded me of Deliverance and Just Before Dawn. Maybe it's the fact that the characters don't realize what's happening to them. Or maybe it's the name actors (Daryl Hannah, Joe Pantoliano, Rachel Ward) who don't quite know yet how to say their lines. I wouldn't recommend The Final Terror to everyone, but if you're into obscure eighties horror, then you might want to give this a try.

* Rewind This. I very much enjoyed this documentary about VHS collectors. Being a VHS collector myself, watching Rewind This was like spending time with likeminded friends. Added bonus: the many extracts from relatively unkown VHS gems.

 Listening to: 

* Unreleased Themes For Hellraiser by Coil. Originally composed for the movie Hellraiser, but rejected as being too frightening. This music truly is an experience.

* Héritage by College. Most of you will know College from their participation A New Hero to the original motion picture soundtrack of Drive. Their latest CD, with its strong eighties synthesizer vibe, reinforces that sound.

* Original motion picture soundtrack of Swimming Pool by Philippe Rombi. Hauntingly beautiful musical score for the excellent film by François Ozon.

* Selected Memories From The Haunted Ballroom by The Caretaker. This ballroom music inspired by the haunted ballroom scene in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining brings you right back to the Overlook Hotel.

If you're looking for more to read, watch, and listen to, you can check out my old "Reading / Watching / Listening to..." posts.


  1. Bad Grandpa is up for an Oscar. I think it's a sign pf the apocalypse.

  2. Nice. When the weather gets bad, I know I will have something to look forward to.

  3. You sure kept busy indeed, wouldn't after porn ends just spoil everything lol

  4. Great list! I want to see Captain Phillips.

    Have a great week!

  5. ❀❀*❀❀ o-❀-o ❀❀*❀❀
    Hello dear Vanessa !!!! :)
    Thank you for sharing this great list !
    Have a nice day.
    Greetings !!!

  6. I want to see Escape. I'm intrigued by Returned and I think I'll just catch Captain Phillips on DVD.

  7. I just saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on Sunday. I was a big Tolkien fan a million years ago when I was in university so it's wonderful to see his tales brought to life in live action -- and of course CGI which makes the whole thing possible.

  8. Thanks for all the great reviews ;o) All the best ;o)

  9. Great post. Have a great week! =)

    Following you on Bloglovin. Can you please return the favour? =)

    Opinionated Cupcakes

  10. My daughter ADORES the Chi series. I think she's read every single one of them 3 times, but I still catch her curled up with them.

  11. Hi Vanessa -- To answer your question, labyrinths are used for meditation and contemplation as a spiritual tool (having both pagan and Christian roots). But you don't necessarily have to have a spiritual purpose to enjoy them.

  12. Hi, I am new to your blog and found you on FF. I am now following via bloglovin. I haven't heard of your books but I must say that Drowned Sorrow sounds super good and right up my alley as I love suspense/horror. I hope one day I will be able to check it out. :)

    Have a great day,

  13. Great post. Have a great weekend! =)

    Following you on Bloglovin.

    Opinionated Cupcakes

  14. It's fun that you read and watch so much, and naturally you find both good and bad in the grab bag. (I must say the Nobel book sounds dreadful to me.) Have a great week! :)

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  16. Vanessa,

    I know Belgium is a little laid back (having lived near Amsterdam for three years, I did travel around - but saw few cats :) but *how* do you find the time to read, watch and listen to all this stuff :)

    I bow down in admiration :)

    PS: You have to share one day with me why you don't like LOVE ACTUALLY? :)

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