Culture Consumed 15

Here are the books and films I consumed between the previous culture consumed post and the end of last year.

Jodorowsky’s Dune – Back in the mists of time (the 1970’s) cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky was asked to direct a film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune. The attempt never got made due to the Studio’s baulking at the production costs. However the preparation work was meticulous, and extravagant. It resulted in the production of several huge storyboard books. This production work had a huge influence on later films such as the Alien trilogy. Jodorowsky’s Dune is a documentary about the process. It’s a fascinating study of genius and excess. I’d love to see the storyboard book published as a series of graphic novels. I’d also like to see a well done film adaptation of Dune. As a trilogy to get all the material in. The TV adaptation and sequel are the best adaptations so far. I rated the documentary about Jodorowsky’s attempt to make Dune 9/10.

Sicario – Film about the battle with Mexican drug cartels along the border with the USA. Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent who is placed on secondment with a joint US and Mexican task force who are battling the cartels. I really liked it. Emily Blunt, and the other cast members, are great. It’s beautifully shot. There is a sunset scene with the members of the task force walking at dusk that is spectacular. It’s up for a cinematography Oscar. I’d give it to them just for that scene. I rated it 8/10.

Dune – Frank Herbert. I reread Dune after watching Jodorowsky’s Dune. As you do. Actually I read it over various formats. I wrote about that in this post. One of the best books ever written.

Suffragette – I went to see this as my OneFilmPerWeek pick on 1st November. It was fabulous. It’s hard to believe that it was only 100 years ago that women were treated like 2nd class citizens in the United Kingdom. And not just with respect to the vote. The contempt and vindictiveness directed towards the suffragettes was eye opening. Still lots of places around the world where that battle is still ongoing. And other rights for women here in the West need fighting for. Reproductive health and equal pay to highlight two. I rated it 9/10.

Burnt – Another film caught in the weekly cinema trip net. Apparently this was a pet project of Bradley Cooper who stars in a great cast. The film was okay. The music was good. The song Fire by Barnes Courtney over the end credits is great. On Apple Music. I rated the film 6/10.

Steve Jobs – I was adamant that I wouldn’t go to see this. It had been slagged off by people who were close to Steve Jobs in life. In the end I went and I’m so glad I did. It’s basically a three act play. No it doesn’t cover the whole of Steve Jobs’ live. No film could. Yes it gets some historical details wrong. Probably for dramatic effect. It’s a film, not a biography. I liked it for what it was. A three act drama about relationships between people. Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet are very good in the main roles. Rated it 8/10.

Geek Girl: All Wrapped Up – Holly Smale. I really enjoyed the previous Geek Girl books. They are fun reads when you want something to amuse you and not get too taxing or deep. This latest one is more of a novella rather than a full length novel. With some lists and appendices to pad it out. I was a bit disappointed in it to be honest. Two more novels in the series. They’ll be better I expect.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – Well, if you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that I think that The Hunger Games series is the best Sci-Fi film franchise ever. I came to it late. I had the original film recorded from UK Film 4 channel siting on my V+ Box for 8 months before I watched it. I was hooked. Sinker, line, rod and boat. I loved The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. I came very close to giving that film a 10/10 rating. Still not convinced I shouldn’t go back and do that on IMDB. I loved the way it considered the topic of propaganda in civil war. And how figureheads become pawns in others plans. Not enough people agreed with my view however and there were complaints about the third film being too long and not like the previous two. I think this probably influenced the editing and cut of the last film. It was more action focused to appeal to the people who liked the original and second films. As such I don’t think it holds together as well as Part 1, but is still a good film. Katniss’s post traumatic stress syndrome isn’t given the prominence it has in the books. But the end is good and there is closure. Plus we get to hear Jennifer Lawrence sing again. I rated it 8/10.

The Silk Roads: A new History of The World – Peter Frankopan. The audiobook of this was recommended to me by Audible UK. I liked the description and sample. What a book. It tells the history of humanity over the last 3000 years or so using the trade routes known as The Silk Roads as the thread to tie it all together. There is stuff in here that wasn’t even on the radar in my history classes in school. This should be required reading for everyone from about 14 upwards. Gives great inside into the events we see in Asia, Russia and Mediterranean regions today. The meddling we did 150 years ago is still costing lives. I liked the audiobook so much I bought the hardcover as well. I included The Silk Roads in my Top 5 books from last year.

Gamehouse Series – Claire North. Two of Claire North’s novels were in my Top 5 reads of 2015. I love her writing. The same holds true for The Gamehouse Series. It was published as three novellas that together make up a novel length story. All three are linked and need to be read in order. The story is about a secret group of people associated with The Gamehouse who have been manipulating history for millennia. The stories actually tied in really well with The Silk Roads history that I was listening to on audiobook during the same period. Highly recommended. Looking forward to Claire North’s new novel due in May 2016.

Carol – I’d been looking forward this film for a while. The trailers looked good and the film lived up to expectations. Story of an illicit lesbian romance set in the 1950’s when such things were frowned upon. Beautifully shot and very well acted by all the cast. I rated it 8/10.

The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves The World Again – A.C. Wise. This came to my attention via the SF Signal RSS news feed. The title and cover just grabbed me so I bought the book. It’s great. A connected series of stories about a group of superheroes and misfits with an LBGT theme. Really fun read. Would make a great comedy superhero film franchise I think. Looking forward to more stories about the gang.

Danny Collins – I’d wanted to see this in the cinema when it came out but didn’t get a chance to fit it in. I watched it on AppleTV when it hit the rental section there. I liked it. It’s about a reasonably successful musician who gets trapped into playing the same old songs that made him famous. He tries to break out of that creative straitjacket. Shows how this affects him and the people round him. Has a nice tie in to real events about a letter from John Lennon to a young musician. I rated it 7/10.

Grandma – This is a fabulous film. The acting from all the main characters is fantastic. There is thought provoking and surprising dark humour throughout. Provides a sad commentary on the state of control over women’s own bodies in some parts of the world, even in enlightened parts of the USA. Tells the story, over a single day, of Elle (brilliantly played by Lily Tomlin) trying to help her granddaughter get the $600 she needs for an emergency abortion. Of course its about a lot more then that. The relationship between Elle and her partly estranged mother, Elle and her granddaughter, and Elle and her girlfriend. They visit lots of people Elle knows during the day trying to get the money. And lots of secrets are revealed as a result. I really liked it. Also discovered Angus & Julia Stone’s music via the film. Bella was part of the soundtrack. I rated the film 8/10. It was trending towards 9.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – I’ve already written a long post about the new Star Wars film. Suffice to say here that I liked it. In fact I’d say it was the best Star Wars film. Daisy Ridley is fabulous. Related to Arnold Ridley of Dad’s Army fame it turns out. I rated it 8/10.

Christmas With The Coopers – This was the last film I saw in the cinema in 2015. I really enjoyed it. A delightful film that cheered me up no end. It’s more a family drama than a comedy. There are funny lines and bits in there but labelling it a comedy sets wrong the expectation. It’s not full on comedy but is a very good family drama with a great cast. Especially Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin and Marisa Tomei. Had a very Woody Allen vibe to it. There is some great banter about religion in America which appealed to my secular core. I rated it 8/10.