* Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham. I didn't relate with Lena Dunham's essays about growing up and finding oneself. I enjoyed the parts where she touches on her fear of death and liking a 'normal' job whereas society wants us to be more ambitious, but overall she came across as immature, full of herself, and sex-obsessed. If I finished the book, it's mainly because of her open and engaging writing style and because her behavior is strange enough to make you curious. But unlike Lena Dunham I don't use the words 'vagina' and 'tampon' in nearly all my sentences, I don't think that 'the blood of animals makes me strong', I'm not obsessed with my weight, and I don't invite men in my bed for the sake of turning them on so I can feel better about myself. In fact, the only thing I thought while reading this book was: I'm not that kind of girl.
* The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Joan Didion wrote The Year Of Magical Thinking right after her husband died of a stroke while their daughter was lying in a coma. It's her account of what happened and how she tries to come to terms with the loss (or rather denying it). Many readers blame her for being detached of any emotion, but I don't agree. The way Joan Didion writes is how the brain works when it grieves; it goes over the same facts over and over in an attempt to understand and process the events; emotions seem far because the brain is numb. Reading The Year Of Magical Thinking is to understand grief, whether it pleases or not.
* A Gift From Bob by James Bowen. James Bowen goes Scrooge. He recounts his last miserable Christmas as a busker, and encounters 'ghosts' that represent his past, present, and future, thus turning him into a happier, more stable person capable of enjoying the holidays. I'm such a fan of James Bowen that I'll probably be reading every single one of his future books without even glancing at them beforehand. They awake in me a sense of happiness that most other books never will. Yes, he's rehashing the same subjects, he could do with a better editor, and he hasn't written the most intellectually stimulating memoires ever; but who cares? I'm sitting here with a broad smile on my face just thinking about his stories. I believe that's reason enough to keep on reading them.
* Chi's Sweet Home Volume 11 by Konami Kanata and Plum: un amour the chat volume 4 by Hoshino Natsumi. I'm taking these two cat mangas together because they are so similar. If you've read my previous reading, watching, listening to posts, you already know how much I love them. If you're a fan of cat books, I oblige you to put these on your TBR list.
* Gone Girl. When Nick's wife goes missing, it becomes the focus of a media circus in which he has to prove his innocence. But is he really innocent? I already knew the answer after half an hour, so the rest of the movie was a little pointless. But I suppose Gone Girl can be enjoyable if you don't pay too much attention to detail, and if you don't get annoyed with the absurd twist in the end. I have to admit that I never got bored, though the film lasts two and a half hours. If you like movies such as Final Analysis and Side Effects, I'd say, go for it.
* It's All About Steve. I watched It's All About Steve on the plane to The Gambia. What a mistake. Sandra Bullock headlines as one of the most neurotic and annoying women in film history. She falls head over heels with Steve (Bradley Cooper), stalks him across the US while he's trying to do his job as a cameraman, screams and runs like a madwoman, and wonders why he's not reciprocating her feelings. If Sandra Bullock ever plays another character like this, she risks getting bombed.
* Sharknado 2: The Second One. Sharks literally fly their way through New York and nibble on everything that crosses their paths. Sharknado 2 is almost exactly the same as Sharknado 1. It can be fun if you watch it with friends, but I wish it could have been more inventive.
* Der Samurai. A man dressed in women's attire and carrying a samurai sword wanders through an isolated German village at night and takes on gargoyle-like postures. His movements are like choreography. His mission: to kill, to transform, to seduce. The entire film feels like a dream, with nightmarish colors and a soundtrack that pushes the story to yet another level of mystery. Der Samurai is as unconventional as it is accessible. The film may be small in scope and budget, but its impact is the opposite. A mesmerizing piece of debut cinematography.
* The Babadook. My first reaction to The Babadook was: disappointment. The beginning was okay; but what was that silly ending all about? I wanted to forget about the film and move on to better ones. But then friends started to send me text messages like these: “Babadook: one of the best movies of the year”, “Not sure what to think of The Babadook. What's your opinion?”, “How do you interpret the ending of The Babadook?” Little by little, I started to see that there was a little more to the film than I originally thought. (spoiler alert) I like for example that in the end, feeding the 'monster' means that the mother has tamed her own madness. I'm still not a fan of The Babadook, but at least I can appreciate it a little more now.
* Wolf Creek 2. Eight years after the release of Wolf Creek 1, Australian serial killer Mick Taylor is back to butcher more unsuspecting tourists. Wolf Creek 2 may be less realistic than its predecessor, it's also faster paced and more suspenseful. I didn't like the quiz at the end, but it mingles well with the rest of the film's humor. Good sequel.
* Nightcrawler. Because I was so looking forward to this movie, I was convinced that I'd be disappointed, but Nightcrawler has even surpassed my expectations. Jake Gyllenhaal is brilliantly disturbing as the mantra-spouting sociopath who manipulates his way into LA crime journalism, and nothing beats the atmospheric and colorful camerawork by Robert Eswit. Fans of the film compare Nightcrawler to Drive, Network, and Taxi Driver. It's only a matter of time before the audience will start quoting Nightcrawler as an example.
* The Counselor. Michael Fassbender plays a lawyer who gets involved in drug trafficking, and has to learn the hard way that life is about being responsible for the choices you make; once the mistake has been committed there's no turning back. I heard The Counselor was boring, pretentious, and overly philosophical. While I can understand the criticism, there's just no denying the originality of the characters, the bleakness of its plot, the importance of its philosophical rants, and the impact of its most salient scenes. I just wish I could wipe that bolito from my memory.
* Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever. “Why are you even watching this?” Grumpy Cat asks the audience in her movie. I asked myself the same question. How could I watch a movie that is so by-the-numbers, so obviously made for commercial reasons alone, and so effortlessly dumb? I know I'm forgiving when it comes to Christmas movies and cat flicks, but still... Why did I watch something this bad till the end, and still kind of enjoyed it?
* Stars 80. Typical French comedy about two concert organizers who set up a tour with famous singers from the eighties. The story and jokes are almost non-existent, and the movie consists mainly of the real artists singing their songs. However, everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves tremendously while making Stars 80, and that enthusiasm rubs onto the audience as well. I bet you can't stop singing French eighties classics after seeing this movie.
* Stonehearst Asylum. Also called Eliza Graves, Stonehearst Asylum is based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story The System of Dr Tarr and Professor Fether. It starts with a terrific idea (a recent medical school grad takes a position at a mental institution, having no idea that the patients have taken over the asylum), but it fizzles down because of wrong directorial choices that make the movie tame and on-the-nose. Thanks to an unexpected twist and many talented actors (Jim Sturgess, Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley), I still enjoyed the movie. Stonehearst Asylum has potential, but it never quite makes it to the top.
* Soundtrack for the TV series The Leftovers by Max Richter. This is my favorite music of 2014. It even inspired me to write my short film script Next To Her. Just the perfect mix of sadness and tenderness that mixes so well with my story.
* Soundtrack for Under The Skin by Mica Levi. The music is unsettling and might not be everyone's taste, but for me it's another favorite soundtrack of 2014. I'll definitely listen to this when writing another supernatural thriller.
What have you been reading, watching, and listening to lately? Anything here that piques your interest?