It’s been a while since I posted the last Culture Consumed. So this is a long one. What have I read and watched since the previous post on 25th April? As always, hat tip to Galactic Suburbia for the idea. Some mild spoilers contained below.
John Wick – Keanu Reaves kicks some arse. A retired mob hitman gets dragged back into the world he had left behind. Mayhem ensues. I liked it. Gave it 7/10. A sequel has been given the go ahead I hear. Good stuff.
Big Game – A coming of age story set in Scandinavia. A young boy out in the woods to kill a deer as a rite of passage into manhood, gets caught up in a plot to kill the President of The United States. After the President’s Airforce One escape capsule lands in the woods, when the plane is shot down, the boy and The President team up. Above average: 6/10.
The Age of Adaline – I loved this. A woman has an accident and stops ageing. She then has to deal with the relationships with people who age around her, and change identities to avoid the authorities who have an interest in her ‘gift’. I’ll be buying this in iTunes to watch again and again in the future. Blake Lively and Harrison Ford are great in it. 8/10
Limitless – I caught this on Film 4HD. I’ve been watching a lot of Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro films recently. This didn’t have Lawrence in it but did have Anna Friel. Win. I really liked this. Man takes experimental drug that vastly increases cognitive ability so he can win in business and politics. Can’t all be upside can it? Can it? Watch and see! 8/10.
Twenty Trillion Leagues Under The Sea – Adam Roberts. What a strange book. In a good way. An experimental French submarine dives in the Atlantic. And keeps on diving. And diving. Well beyond the floor of the Atlantic basin. And on. And on. Are they even still on Earth at all? Does anyone in the crew know something they are not saying? Its a good bit of storytelling. Deals with the tensions amongst the crew as their predicament unfolds really well. Worth a read.
Mad Max: Fury Road – This left me cold. But then I didn’t like Mad Max 3. This is a competent bit of film making. Really well shot and the stunts and action sequences are great. But the story is lacking. It’s a chase movie set in desert and rocky hills. Fine if that’s what you want. I’ve no issue with Max not really being the focus. The Charlize Theron character is the best thing about the film. 5/10.
Touch – Claire North. Read this after liking The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by the same author so much. This is just as good or maybe even better. Deals with a similar subject. The essence of certain people are able to jump between human hosts just by touch. Using them as vessels for a while. Minutes or years. But some one is hunting them down. A brilliant sci-fi thriller. Read this. Claire North is a real talent.
Tomorrowland: A World Beyond – I was really looking forward to this after seeing the trailers repeatedly in the few weeks running up to release. It was good, if perhaps not as good as I hoped it would be. But your perception and enjoyment of a film is shaped by your mood when you see it. The performances by Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy are really good. Rated it 7/10.
The Affinities – Robert Charles Wilson. A science fiction book about social and genetic profiling taken to extreme. People, who pay the commercial company behind the process, are profiled and allocated to a Affinity of like minded individuals. Inevitably there is interest from the authorities and friction between the various affinities. Humans are humans after all. I liked this a lot.
What We Know About Climate Change – Kerry Emanuel. A short book about the current (as off 2012) knowledge that shows that man made climate change is a fact. Good summary if you want to get up to speed.
American Hustle – I had this sitting in my AppleTV wish list for a while. Due to it being from the same director and actors who were in Silver Linings Playbook. Finally got round to buying and watching it. Loved it. Has a definite Goodfellas vibe. But not as violent. People have poo-pooed American Hustle because of the obvious Goodfellas influence. I don’t agree with them. I loved it, possibly even more than Goodfellas. Time will be the judge of that. I rated it 8/10 on IMDB.
The Way Inn – Neil Wiles. If you do a lot of business travel and stay in hotels a lot then you’ll recognise the hotel related stuff in this book. Based around a newly opened Way Inn built beside a new business conference centre. Main character is a professional conference attender. He goes to conferences so business people don’t have to. Love that concept. But turns out, The Way Inn might not be a simple hotel chain… Recommended.
Man Up – Another film caught in my #OnefilmPerWeek project net. A romantic comedy. Nancy (played brilliantly by Lake Bell) ends up an a blind date with Jack (played by Simon Pegg) on which she pretends to be someone else. The woman who Jack was supposed to meet having left Nancy a copy of the self help book that was to allow them to recognise each other in a busy train station in London. Nancy is running to return the book when she is accosted by Jack who thinks she is his blind date. She doesn’t put him right. I liked this a lot. It’s funny. Came out after it with a huge grin on my face and feeling good about the world. Gave it 9/10.
Spy – The 2nd best spy film I’ve seen this year. Kingsman takes top slot. But Spy is fantastic too. It’s very funny. It has the best swearing that I’ve seen in a film in a long time. Possibly ever. I’ll be buying this on iTunes. This is one to watch again and again. There have to be sequels! 8/10.
Mr. Holmes – An ageing, forgetful Sherlock Holmes makes an new attempt to solve the case that forced him to retire a few decades earlier. A nice study on the effects of ageing. Good performance by Ian McKellen as the old Sherlock Holmes. 7/10.
The Falling Sky – Pippa Goldschmidt. A book in the Lab Lit phenomenon. The trials and tribulations and life story of a female astronomer. She and a co-worker find an image in their data that looks like it contradicts a central tenet of the big-bang theory. The professional ramifications of this are explored. Media scrutiny, media manipulation to get a good story too. The book also covers the early life of Jeanette, the protagonist. I liked it. This isn’t a science novel, or a science fiction novel. It’s a life story.
Minions – The minions got their own film. Maybe they shouldn’t have. It wasn’t that good. 4/10.
Slow West – A nice take on the western genre. This is actually a road film. Albeit one set at a gentle pace on horseback. Jay Cavendish is the son of a Scottish Laird. He is travelling across America to find the girl he is in love with. She has fled to America with her father who is wanted and now has a price on his head. Quite a large price. This means that a lot of bounty hunters are also looking for the Scots. One of them befriends Jay and travels with him. Of course Jay doesn’t know this. Great film. Looks fantastic (was actually shot in New Zealand). I liked it a lot. Gave it 8/10.
Superintelligence – This book melted my head. Listened to the audiobook version. It’s fantastic. Liked it so much I bought the hardback to read again. Deserves detailed study. Artificial Intelligence is one of the next big things (along with Big Data and Internet of Things).
Terminator Genisys – Arnie’s back! Lots of reviews have said that they shouldn’t have bothered. I couldn’t disagree more with those negative reviews. I liked this a lot. It is a good reboot of the Terminator franchise. Certainly as good as the original and the sequel. Some nice takes on the same motifs that are in those films. The scene where The Terminator asks the punks for their clothes and bike is fabulous. 8/10.
The Higgs Boson and Beyond – Sean Carroll. A great audiobook version of the particle physics lectures from The Great Courses. If you want to get a picture of what modern particle physics and the standard model is, then listen to this audiobook. I’ve started listening to the Time one from the same series. Loving it too.
Knock Knock – Yikes. This was a bit disturbing. Keanu Reaves is working late at night when his wife and kids are away for a few days. There is a storm raging. He hears a knock on his front door and finds two soaked young girls at the door. They worm their way into the house and end up seducing him. They then pretend to be underage. Then they blackmail him and more. Just say no people! Well made and shot. Story good. Rated 7/10.
Humans – TV series about the impact of artificially intelligent synthetic beings on society, and how humanity reacts to them. There have been 6 out of 8 episodes shown so far. Will say more when it’s complete. No spoilers. Suffice to say its possibly my favourite drama TV show ever.
Self/Less – Science fiction story on a well trodden theme. An ageing billionaire businessman, who has a terminal illness, is contacted by an organisation who claim to be able to transfer his consciousness into another body. A body that has been grown in the lab. Not a clone however. Which should raise a few red flags! he agrees to the process. Let’s accept the process to do this at face value and let it through on the nod (read Superintelligence to get an idea of how hard taking a snapshot of a brain will be). The businessman starts leading his new life, with the instruction not to contact anyone he knew previously. All is fine until he starts to get hallucinations and memories that are not his. I liked this a lot. The story is well told and is an entertaining two hours. Well worth watching. Rated it 8/10.