cynicale: Drew Sarich, Leanne Dobinson, Jon Robyns and Nancy Sullivan (Default)
[personal profile] cynicale
Happy New Year, everyone! I intended to post this entry last night, but that obviously never happened... I'll probably backdate this entry in a couple of days.

There are a couple of things I'd like to talk about, so expect another entry in a while, but for now, in keeping with the tradition: Books and Movies of 2011!



Books of 2011

I've barely read anything this year, I'm truly ashamed of myself. Finally got a grip and raced through quite a bit of non-fiction in October/November. 

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brönte
River Marked, by Patricia Briggs (6th of the Mercy Thompson series)

The A-Team, by Charles Heath (based on the pilot episode)
The Final Affair, by David McDaniel (internet distributed, unpublished final Man from UNCLE novel)
The Dagger Affair (Man from UNCLE #4), by David McDaniel

Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay (...really bad)
Dearly Devoted Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay (better than the first book!)

Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex, by Eoin Colfer

Hit Man; Manual for Independent Contractors – Non-fiction. How could I resist that that title?;) Strictly theoretical reserach, of course. Very annoying narrative voice.

Everything Is Going to Kill You; The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants to See You Dead, by Robert Brockway

Cold Cases; Famous Unsolved Mysteries, Crimes and Diappearances in America, by Hélèna Katz

Parisian sights and French principles (seen through American spectacles), by James Jackson Jarves
– Non–fiction published in 1852, exactly what the title would suggest. Quite interesting, the first three chapters (life in general, suicides, entertainments), his comments on education and chapter 13 (on the insurrection staged after Louis Napoléon’s coup d’état in 1851) were particularly fascinating. Prices of sundry necessities were even listed (though I don’t have the energy right now to research how much those prices would have to be adjusted according to inflation in order to be valid for the early 1830s OR convert some of it from dollars to francs)! Also, for virtually every play mentioned I felt the urge to research whether any of them existed pre-June 1832 – Courfeyrac’s life would not be complete without him having seen them performed;)

The Perilous Crown; France Between Revolutions, by Munro Price
– Non-fiction, 378 pages, a relatively quick, engaging read. It’s rather heartwarming to read about Louis Philippe’s family life, disturbing educational regime of his childhood notwithstanding. Only a very short segment on June Rebellion 1832 (for which Les Misérables was the primary source…), I felt even July Revolution could have been more extensively covered. I enjoyed the book, but I wish the segments on Bourbon restoration etc. had been written with a slightly less favourable slant towards Louis Philippe – I wish to know what went on under Louis XVII and Charles X, not how LP would have acted more wisely in their place.



Top ten movies watched for the first time in 2011, in no particular order:

- Elle s'appelait Sarah/Sarah’s Key
- X-Men; First Class
- District 9
- True Grit (2010)
- The Sting
- The Bridge on the River Kwai
- A Night to Remember (1958, Titanic film)
- Les Misérables (1972)
- Phantom of the Opera; Live at the Royal Albert Hall (more on this below. Not without its problems, but somehow I've managed to rewatch it three times within the last week. I've never been more than a casual fan at most, but I'm apparently in the mood for this show right now)




January

  1. The Hangover; Extended Cut (05.01.11) – Hee, this was fun! Never got around to seeing it while it played in the cinemas here, but it caught my interest again when I realised Bradley Cooper was in it.
  2. Pan (w/Lasse Kolstad) (11.01.11) An adaption of the book by Knut Hamsun. We read an 8 page excerpt and watched this in Norwegian class. I hated the excerpt, to be honest, but the film was kind of cute.
  3. District 9 (26.01.11) – To tell the truth, the only reason I watched this after deciding to give it a miss in the cinemas was Sharlto Copley. Ended up enjoying it a lot! The third act kind of disappointed me, but I liked the ambiguous ending very much. I posted a longer comment on this in early February, I believe.
  4. The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) (27.01.11) For English Lit. Class. This is the one with Colin Firth and Rupert Everett. Wonderful cast, though I found Reese Witherspoon’s Cecily to be Catherine Morland without the charm (read: I didn’t like her character). Otherwise, positively couldn’t stop grinning. I realise it’s rather heavily criticised by fans of the play and the 1952 adaption on IMDb, but as I’m unfamiliar with both I don’t care. Loved it.

February

  1. Due Date (02.02.11) – I watched for Robert Downey Jr., got exactly what I expected.
  2. Platoon (02.02.11)
  3. Bowling for Columbine  (05.02.11)
  4. Imagine This the Musical; Original London Cast Live – SPOILER! I worship the concept album. Wasn’t bad as such, enjoyed it well enough, but it’s not without its problems. “Hail” has some very silly lyrics now. Also, by cutting “No More” from the DVD (included as a deleted scene, along with Salome’s Lament) don’t they realise Pompey’s last words make no sense? Acting-wise, Polycarpou did a fine job, but when are people going to stop giving him roles he don’t <i>quite</i> have the vocal range for? Playing a girl who is an actress in the play that makes up more than half of the story is beyond Leila Benn Harris capabilities, but vocally she was okay (strangely enough, I think it was her voice I had a problem with when I saw her in Phantom of the Opera…). I found Roy Litvin in the ensemble, Joel Elferink is supposedly also somewhere.

March

  1. True Grit (05.03.11) – Awesome. Don’t quite see why the actress who played Mattie ended up being nominated for “Best Supporting Actess” when she (in my opinion) was the lead, but she certainly deserved it.
  2. Passchendaele (07.03.11) – WW1 movie. Okay, I guess. Best thing about it was Paul Gross as the main character.
  3. Jeg reiser alene/ I Travel Alone (17.03.11) – I’m very fond of The Man Who Loved Yngve (“Fittesatans anarkikommando is Made Of Win!), and this is the “sort-of-sequel”. I saw this with my Norwegian class, though not in order to study it in any way.
  4. Fuglane/The Birds (18.03.11)- For Norwegian class. This was the Polish adaption of Vesaas’s novel. Strange mix of very abrupt scenes and long, boring artistic shots of nature, but impressively faithful adaption.
  5. Chronicles of Narnia; Voyage of the Dawn Treader (30.03.11)– My favourite Narnia books are Prince Caspian, Dawn Treader and The Horse and his Boy, in that order. This one, however, is among those books that do not lend itself very well to a film adaptation, due to the fact that it’s more about several different stages of the voyage, separate adventures, than an overall story. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it: Eustace was perfect, Georgie Henley has grown up (Lucy tends to annoy me, but not so much this time), Skandar Keynes did a good job with my favourite character Edmund, Edmund and Caspian had some great scenes together, Eustace as a dragon was well-animated and I actually really liked the actress they got playing *insert name of star girl*. Minus for the changes they made in the story and the fact that it was even more preachy than Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe near the end.
  6. Black Swan (30.03.11) I’ve always loved the music of Swan Lake, so that’s a plus. Natalie Portman is one of my favourite actresses, and she was very good. I was not impressed by the first hour, but I had a bit of a “wow!” moment near the end. Overall, I’d definitely call it overrated though.
  7. Scott Pilgrim vs The World (31.03.11) Video game gimmick was kinda neat, but otherwise I don’t really see what the big deal was. Great supporting cast?

April

  1. Serenity (12.04.11)– Very enjoyable, surpassed my expectations even though I couldn’t care less about River and Simon in general. Marathoned Firefly for the first time right before watching this, so it was fresh in my mind.
  2. The Loosers (13.04.11) – I’ve seen worse movies, but also plenty of better ones. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is always a plus though, and I liked the characters Pooch and Jensen enough to say I enjoyed it well enough.
  3. Elle s'appelait Sarah/Sarah’s Key (13.04.11) – An excellent adaption of an excellent book! I normally steer clear of everything WWII related, but the synopsis compelled me to buy it when it first hit the shelves here in Norway. It ended up being one of the best books I’ve ever read, so I thoroughly recommend it. Admittedly, the first part, where Sara’s still young, is clearly the better half, but there’s nothing wrong with the rest of it. If the “artsy” feel of French films bothers you, be reassured it doesn’t really feel like a typical French film at all.
  4. The Unsinkable Titanic (2008) (18.04.11) – Norwegian narration
  5. The Last Airbender – In all honesty, I’ve seen plenty of films I’ve enjoyed less, but the script truly is a mess. I’m not even going into the whole racebending deal. I enjoyed seeing Dev Patel and Shaun Toub again, though!

May

  1. The Bridge on the River Kwai – (03.05.11) Excellent! Dramatically exceeded my expectations. Unexpectedly amusing every now and then – at one point, after I laughed out loud, I immediately went:” Oh, God, poor guy! I really shouldn’t laugh!” though. The only two things I can find to criticise is the unexpected shift in focus around the midway-point, and a somewhat poorly construed minor plot point.
  2. The Hurt Locker (03.05.11) – Also excellent. A couple of scenes dragged a bit, and in the end I’m more into overlaying plots than episodic films such as this one, but it was thoroughly enjoyable.
  3. Thor – (09.05.11) – I was inordinately bothered by the weird pronunciation of various names, but fun. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if they had eliminated Natalie Portman’s role entirely though. I really like her, both as an actress and a celebrity, but it was a terrible role. Loke/Loki will never cease to be the highlight of any and all adaptions of Norse mythology – he’s just that awesome:) Loved the “Is that one of Stark’s?” comment. I’m not sure whether I should blame the writers or the director for the frustrating lack of follow-up when it comes to certain plot points. I sound overly negative – I did enjoy it quite a lot, I just didn’t think it was a very good movie.
  4. The Sting (14.05.11) – Awesome!  Kinda fun to be able to recognise ALL the cons they pulled before the big reveal, due to being a devoted fan of Hustle. And it’s so obvious they partially based Danny on Johnny Hooker, they don’t even try to be subtle.
  5. Schindler’s List (18.05.11) –
  6. Valentine’s Day (22.05.11) I watched primarily for Bradley Cooper and I can’t stand high doses of Ashton Kutcher, so watching this involved a lot of fast-forwarding. Great cast in general, though I really got the impression they were trying to make the new Love Actually (ensemble cast completely made up by stars, love as a theme…subtle, ‘tis not).
  7. The Hangover Part II  (27.05.11) – Genius. A complete rehashing of the first movie, of course, but more shocking, more beautiful scenery and more screentime for Bradley Cooper. Felt that way, at least. I loved the darker edge of Part II, but missed the awesome Tiger-song from I.
  8. Source Code (28.05.11) – Perfectly watchable… but I spent the entire movie waiting for a plot twist that never happened. The two so-called twists that were present were totally predictable…and at least one of them makes no sense at all. If the movie had ended with the freeze frame, it would have been vaguely memorable. I just don’t get the raving reviews on IMDb. Now I want to visit Chicago, though!

June

  1. Tangled (03.06.11) Fun, and the characters actually were in some real peril at several points! And Maximus is basically a badass version of Altivo from The Road to El Dorado. But animated films are somewhat less enjoyable nowadays, when I spend time contemplating things like fire hazard, predictable plots and goofs while watching them.
  2. Megamind (03.06.11) –I wasn’t all that that impressed by. Perfectly fine entertainment, but not a new favourite. However, the Godfather-spoof was priceless (I haven’t even seen any of the Godfather films!) and what Megamind did near the end was rather clever.
  3. X-Men; First Class (04.06.11) – SPOILERY REVIEW! Very enjoyable, and I daresay better the other films. Charles/Erik was just as shippable as always. Felt like cheering at the reveal of how Xavier got paralysed in this ‘verse, I thought it was a rather awesome explanation (I’m a sucker for angst). To criticise this film: most blatant use of token minority character I can recall having encountered in recent times.
  4. Limitless (05.06.11) – The showing began at 22.50 and lasted until 00.40ish. Bradley Cooper was great, but I was not very impressed by the plot. It was rather more violent than I expected (which I have no problem with), and the actions of Bradley’s character were at times remarkably stupid, despite the enhancing drug. I would have liked some more technobabble than what we got. Continuous use of voice-overs throughout the film is never a good decision. I’m incredibly relieved it wasn’t a 3D film, ‘cause that would have been terrifying.
  5. Dorian Gray (2009) – The Ben Barnes/Colin Firth thing. Last English-class of the year!entertainment. I like neither the book nor Ben Barnes particularly well, but nice to see Firth. Perfectly fine film.
  6. Jane Eyre (2009) (25.06.11)– Though Michael Fassbender is no Toby Stephens, he saved the movie for me. I enjoyed his portrayal of Rochester quite a lot. Mia Wasikowska’s Jane fell too short for me, but apparently I’m in the minority. Not terrible, per se, just poor chemistry with the rest of the cast, the notable exception being Jamie Bell. Some of the cuts bothered me quite a lot, others didn’t faze me at all. I for one was quite relieved by the change in Adèle’s characterisation. My last visit to Nova Cinema Centre before I moved out of my flat.

July

  1. Holy Rollers (11.07.11) – Mark Zuckerberg was the perfect role for Jesse Eisenberg, wasn’t it? His performance fell a bit flat here, but he wasn’t terrible or anything. Justin Bartha is certainly stepping out of type these days! The script needed some work.
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II (14.07.11) EXCELLENT! I’ll probably write more on LJ. Saw it in Copenhagen, so Danish subtitles. Luckily, only really jarring on a couple of occasions.
  3. Priscilla; Queen of the Desert (16.07.11) – I mainly watched in order to get a couple of pop-culture references, but it was surprisingly enjoyable. I expected to enjoy Hugo Weaving’s performance, but actually ended up enjoying them all to a certain degree.
  4. Hanna (27.07.11) – Seen it all before, but okay.
  5. Super 8 (30.07.11) – Liked it!

August

  1. The Spy With My Face – Theatrical release of the “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” episode “1.8 - The Double Affair”, with added scenes and colour. I loved the extra Illya scenes (he was the first Lieutenant in the Soviet Navy to set fire to an igloo! He is good at making murder look like an accident! Illya lends Napoleon money, but gives him roubles at first.), but the Stewardess with the blow-up doll made me raise my eyebrows. Illya really should have caught on earlier, as they were building up to it from the beginning, but here he does at least eventually get there, as opposed to his showing in the episode.
  2. One Spy Too Many – Man from UNCLE theatrical film based on the “2.1-2.2 - Alexander the Greater Affair part I-II”. They actually cut the scene with the parents, present in the episode! The button Napoleon doesn’t try out is here an aphrodisiac, not knock-out gas.
  3. Every Little Step (21.08.11) – Auditions for A Chorus Line…I’ve never seen A Chorus Line (have now), but I enjoyed it.
  4. Captain America (22.08.11) – Nice, generic superhero movie, better than average.
  5. A Night to Remember (31.08.11) – A 1958 Titanic film, among others starring a young David McCallum (as Assistant Wireless Operator Harold Bride). DMc was 25 in ’58 but looks younger. He was my reason for watching this film, and it was more than worth it. Minor character, but still a fair-sized role. Even a couple of those adorable little smiles of his made it in, and the film was quite enjoyable in itself too. I judge it to be reasonably accurate, according to the books I’ve read, though there are things they got wrong. For some reason, Lightoller was the awesome officer in this film, rather than Murdoch.

September

  1. The Karate Killers (01.09.11) – Another Man from UNCLE theatrical release. I seem to be in the minority when I say I kinda love it. It’s hilarious, despite the numerous ridiculous fight scenes – way too “loud” and camp, of course, but that’s what you get in season 3. I’ve actually yet to the episodes this is based on (well, made up of). On a side note, pretty high body count by the end! 
  2. Hodejegerne/Headhunters (07.09.11)– Based on the book by Jo Nesbø. Another surprisingly good Norwegian film, though I haven’t read the book. Dad’s first personal experience of Adaption Decay, but he still seemed to enjoy it.
  3. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (24.09.11) – My best friend is into the Darren Shan series. I gave up three chapters into the first book, but she explained it all to me once. Not my thing (books seemed to be too childish by half), but was willing to give the film a try, if only for John C. Reilly. Less than seven minutes into the film, I spotted a prop-goof, but it was an okay film. Sort of like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, only with a better Master (I love Reilly, am really starting to tire of Cage), a younger target audience and a poorer script.
  4. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (30.09.11) – Not to my taste. I had rather high expectations, it didn’t live up to the trailer. I enjoyed the flashbacks to the Christmas party, the final few scenes and the presence of actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Toby Jones. I recognise that it is a good film, but boy, is it dull.

October

  1. Les Mis 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 Arena (10.10.11) – Though I was present at one of the concerts, it was technically my first viewing of the DVD.
  2. Footloose (30.10.11) – 2011 Remake of the 1986 film. It’s been a while since I saw the original, but I’d say I preferred that one. I disliked the female lead in this one, but rather liked Dennis Quaid in his role. The script was at times weak, but that’s the case with both films, I guess. Must rewatch my DVD of the original to compare soon.

November

  1. Martin Guerre- A Musical Journey (07.11.11) – Oooh, great.  
  2. Catch Me if You Can (25.11.11) – Entertaining.
  3. Les Misérables (1972) – (the “let-me-show-you-what-Les-Amis-de-l’ABC-is-up-to adaption) Love, adoration etc. etc. Covered in own post.

December

  1. Les Misérables (1957/1958) (08.12.11)Gabin-adaption.  I thought it was delightful! Covered in own post.
  2. The Duchess (10.12.11) – Woman, telling your husband the name of your prospective lover? Are you trying to get him killed?!  I particularly enjoyed the brief scenes with her two friends, Charles Fox and Richard Sheridan, as I’ve seen the actors before in two different Jane Eyre adaptions (I was also familiar with all four people of the main cast, of course). Very nice soundtrack.
  3. Les Misérables (1934)(11.12.11) – The Bernard adaption. Covered in own post.
  4. Les Misérables (1988, animated) (13.12.11) - …entertaining, yet horrifying at the same time. Honestly, I was kinda impressed by how much ground they managed to cover in an hour. Very choppy storytelling, yet at times impressive detail. Mostly horrible character designs, especially Javert.
  5. The Fantasticks (15.12.11) – Very entertaining! I have never listened to any recording before, so it was all completely new to me. 
  6. West Side Story (17.12.11) – I’ve never really enjoyed the score, but lots of great dance scenes! I particularly enjoyed the whole Puerto Ricans on rooftop sequence.
  7. Making of “The Pirate Queen” documentary (20.12.11) – Least interesting of the B&S Musical documentaries I’ve watched, but with a few good cast moments and some nice pro-shot scenes (unfortunately, only very short excerpts). The useless fellow hanging out on the coast of Ireland was terribly dull, while the teleshopping interludes were as obnoxious as one would expect. I’ve yet to manage to sit through a whole Pirate Queen video…
  8. The Phantom of the Opera (25.12.11) – The cartoon version. Uhm… vaguely entertaining. I expected it to be much worse than it turned out to be. Spoilery opening is never good, in my book. Hated Christine in the first half. Oh no, kitty!
  9. The Phantom of the Opera; Live at the Royal Albert Hall (26.12.11) – I attended the live screening in Covent Garden, but this was my first viewing of the DVD. Better editing this time around, though I’m still disappointed by how poorly they follow Raoul in “Notes” etc. Sierra’s acting bugged me on a couple of occasions, occasionally so did Hadley’s darker glances. However, I rather enjoyed his take on the role and I thought Sierra sang beautifully. I thought Ramin made an excellent Phantom, though now that I’ve read some rather scathing reviews of his voice I can suddenly hear the imperfections too. Annoying. Not a fan of Liz Robertson’s Mme Giry or whoever played Meg, but loved Gareth Snook as André and Wendy Ferguson as Carlotta. I was highly relieved that they had managed to edit away some of ALW’s painfully embarrassing attempts to get handsy with Sarah Brightman… miss the elephant and the wedding doll (what’s with cutting one of the most creepy sequences here, in a version that will be widely distributed and therefore seen by people not yet familiar with the show?!). Mirror scene did not work for me.
  10. Sherlock Holmes; Game of Shadows (29.12.11) - …uhm. No matter what you say about the plot of the first film, at least it was cohesive and fun. This film was silly and all over the place, in my opinion. Postives: Liked Mary a whole lot more this time around (LOVE her in the books, didn’t like her much in the first film), awesome Moran, some great Watson scenes. I didn’t really enjoy the silly Holmes/Watson pandering, but RDJ’s puppy-eyes made a few highly appreciated appearances.  Think I need to see this again in order to gain some perspective. 

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