Lucy (2014)

The premise itself – what if human beings could use 100 per cent of their cerebral capacity – opens up a possibility of a remarkably interesting movie. But Luc Besson seems undecided in how to develop the premise. It seems like he could not decide whether to make an action-packed movie about a superhuman, or a philosophical discussion about the nature of human kind and the universe. So he tried to do both. The result is a movie which lacks character and cohesion.
A few times my mind wandered to the Matrix and Akira, which only goes to show that my attention was not fully on the movie, despite the fact that Scarlett Johansson was once again riveting.

You can choose to watch Lucy or not. Frankly, whatever you decide, you will lose absolutely nothing.

I hate indifference. I prefer feeling appalled, exhilarated … something. Indifference and ambivalence I detest. And I can sum up Luc Besson’s Lucy with those two words.

The most ridiculous thing is, after having seen Lucy, I left the cinema with this in my head:

ADDENDUM: Apparently I was not using 100 per cent of my cerebral cortex when writing this post. It would not be very nice to edit this post as to hide the fact that I’m a lazy bastard who takes what is served to her by the popular culture at face value so, so I’ll just add this link – Myths About the Brain: 10 percent and Counting.

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The Most Anticipated Movie of 2014

Lucy. Why? Beacuse Scarlett Johannson, Luc Besson, SciFi, Kickass Girl Lead, Brain Power.
Coming to cinemas near me on August, 28th.

I’ve been waiting for this movie for a while now. Even before the idea for Lucy was hatched, I was waiting for it.

This movie has 1990s written all over it and I just hope it delivers.

From Rags

I’ve read a total of 66 pages and it was enough for me to conclude that this book will never get To Riches.

Jaxxon is a young woman who has been in foster care, together with her sister Leah and Connor, a boy of 16 with which she has shared a single kiss when she was fourteen. Connor left, never to fulfil his promise and come back to her. Through shitty plot development, they once again come together. Immense sexual tension was supposed to ensue, but there was none of it due to ineptness of the author.

Jaxxon, the protagonist, is a derisive, obnoxious woman. Her homicidal tendencies are supposed to show us how tough and unrelenting she is, I guess. To me it was just freaky and made me a little bit scared. Let me illustrate:

“She wanted to be away from both of them so she could alone enjoy the fantasy of slaughtering them in their sleep.”

I think that’s just sick. 

Now, about that sexual tension between Connor and Jaxxon. There is none. There is just talk about how there’s a lot of sexual tension that everyone can see (except the reader ).

“The sexual tension was so thick it was almost visible.”

~ Key word ALMOST.

“He was itching to touch her, hold her, kiss her, drive himself into her.”

~ The pinnacle of sexual tension in From Rags.

What I particularly detest is the fact that Jaxxon saying “No” is not taken into consideration, because let’s face it, Connor knows what she really wants because he kissed her once when she was 14.

“The angrier she got the more she bloody aroused him.”

~ Very healthy,

I’ll finish with my favourite sentence:

“She was concerned that she might be turning into a eunuch.”

In summation, if you want to read a book which has undergone dubious editing, which deals with an implausible attraction between two thoroughly unlikeable characters who share no chemistry, From Rags is the perfect book for you.

Weird, but in a bad way.

I just got out of a warm, cosy bed because I could not resist the temptation of sharing this book with the world (world being limited to my readership of cca 20).

Let’s start:

She was just a person the same as everybody else.” ~ I don’t even know what this means. Even if I use my imagination and play with some commas, I cannot fathom the purpose of this sentence. We are all a person!

So then why was she stood there?” ~ What might this be? A typo maybe? Hmmmm?

Jaxxon (?) allowed her curious side free-reign, and was soon stood in a stylish, bright reception area…” ~ I invite all to try this. It is an exceptional experience, the exhilaration of being stood somewhere. We should all be stood. If you haven’t been stood you haven’t lived.

Lifting her head, she saw Richie heading towards her grinning.” ~ That sicko, how dares he head towards her grinning?

Everything in it was either black or white. The walls, floor, seats and even the small, simple kitchenette were white. The ceiling, cameras, lighting equipment, laptop, shelves and the mirror frames were all black. Weird, but not in a bad way.” ~ Oh, thank God it wasn’t weird in a BAD way. I was worried for a moment.

All of this can be found in only 30 pages of the book titled From Rags. I’m sure there’s more, considering I skipped large portions trying to alleviate my suffering.

The deal breaker was a perfectly legible sentence:

Yet two years ago, at just the age of twenty-two, he had become the youngest Formula One driver in the world.” ~ I guess this was supposed to show us how Connor was cool and talented. I believe Seb Vettel was 20 when he started driving for Toro Rosso. Jensen Button was also 20 when he started driving for Williams. Not very impressive, Connor!

I am, however, interested to learn more about this fascinating world of Formula One, so I shall endeavour to read at least 30 more pages of this scintillating book.

More Orphan Den Nut

More often than not I find myself reading stuff I’ve written thinking: what a conceited prat!
More often than not I find myself thinking I actually have that 1% of talent, but am a lazy ass.
More often than not I find myself lacking the strength to change.
More of than not I don’t know how to spell strenght correctly.
More often. Then not.
More orphan. Den nut.

dean

Read One Book, Two Not So Much

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Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles is a tepid book about a rich girl and a poor gang member who end up doing everything together except the chemistry assignment that brings them together. It is readable. I hate describing a book as readable, because it’s the worst sort of insult to a writer. It translates into: “This book made me feel absolutely nothing.” I feel no need to read any of the 40 pages I got left. I read most of the book in one sitting and if I had not been sleepy I would have probably finished it, but I have no interest to go back and find out what happens. However, you might find Perfect chemistry to be a nice piece of YA literature, however. It’s not badly written, and maybe you’ll find something that appeals to you.

Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman is about Natalie who disguises herself as a boy to answer idiotic questions about what boys really want/think. Halfway through, I was unable to continue reading BIB.  My sincere apologies to Jody Gehrman and all the people on Goodreads who rated this book with more than one star. I really tried to find a redeeming quality, but was unable to. I mean, honestly, 50% of this books consists of Natalie putting on make up to look like a boy, being anxious in  various situations, screaming like a girl and looking at Emilio’s glistening moonlit muscles. It reads like a really bad daydream of a 12-year-old girl.

The DUFF (Designated Fat Ugly Friend) by Kody Keplinger is a fun, refreshing book about Bianca, a cynical high school senior who finds that hooking up with a guy she despises is a good way to run away from problems. Doing due diligence, I found that a lot of people think that Bianca hooking up with a boy she hates is disgusting and/or terrible. It never even crossed my mind because I got the impression that she doesn’t hate Wesley, she “hates” him. Haven’t you ever “hated” a guy? I have. I “hated” the hell out of a certain boy with a generic name. Hating him was easier because I thought there was no chance he would notice me, because he always picked the girls who were hot (i.e. not me), and because it was original (girls were either indifferent or obsessed with him) which was extremely important to me in my formative years. The book was written in first person, which is why Bianca doesn’t put quotation marks when she says she hates Wesley. She doesn’t know she “hates” him, the book is a process of her adding quotation marks.

What The DUFF lacks the most is attention span. Conflicts and problems are solved too quickly – parent problem, boy problem, friend problem – it all goes away in a whirlwind of cynicism and good will of other characters. Lackadaisical approach to sex could be considered a bit problematic, I guess. But it’s fiction, right? We should have some faith that kids today can tell the difference between fiction and advice. When I was sixteen if I read in some book which said that casual approach to sex is ok if you don’t get pregnant, I still wouldn’t have exclaimed in jubilee: “Yay, I’m gonna buy a ton of condoms, get on the pill and start screwing around!” The DUFF might not be among the best. It did not make me giddy, it did not make me fall in love with the male protagonist (didn’t make me feel anything about him, actually), but it was worth the time and it served it’s purpose – it entertained me.

A few issues with Openly Straight

Openly-StraightOpenly Straight is a book about Rafe (Seamus Rafael) who has come out of the closet in eight grade and everybody in his home town knew him as the gay kid. His parents were more than fine with it and veryn supportive. He wanted to try out something new, so when he started a new school he decided not to be gay, or at least not to say he was. He wanted to try out what it would be like for people to see him just as Rafe, not as gay Rafe.

I liked parts of this book, but as a whole it simply did not work for me. I liked Rafe and his crazy parents, I liked Albie. I liked the writing and the humour and I really enjoyed the way Rafe tried to reinvent himself.

  1. The biggest problem with Openly Straight is that it’s neither flaky nor serious, and it fails to find a balance between the two. It goes from cheesy romance to serious life issues in a heartbeat, without achieving a smooth transition.
  2.  I’m really not liking the writing professor who gives sage advice about life and writing. I find it tiresome, and in Openly Straight the part where Rafe writes and his professor comments is completely useless and doesn’t add to nothing to the story, except for dubious writing advice.
  3. Ben had no place in this story, in my opinion. As much as I liked their bromance and found it cute, it felt too cute for a book that was trying to deal with issues of identity. If it was a story for itself, if it was a flaky love novel about a gay guy and straight guy getting all agape and eros on each other, maybe I could have mustered it. I think Openly Straight would be much better if there was no love story, and if Ben and Rafe were just friends. It would have done wonders for the book.

All things considered, Openly Straight is a good effort, a fun book to read and it does ask some serious questions and it answers some of them. In my opinion, it could have been better, but it was still worth the while, if nothing for those times it had me laughing silly.

There’s one thing that really struck me as awesome, and it has to do with Rafe’s problem with everybody looking at him as this gay kid and thinking who knows what about him.

“It was like the world opened up to me at that moment, and my thoughts tripped over one another. I was staring at this effeminate kid, and judging my own masculinity, or lack thereof. And was I so different from everyone else? Who was to say what Mr. Meyers in Boulder was thinking about when he looked at me? How come I was assuming his staring at me had anything to do with me? It was probably all about him. Same with everyone.”

Two ‘Easy’ Pieces

If you’re looking for something light and sugary to read this summer (or any other season for that matter) you should pick up either Attachments (1999) or Fangirl (2013) (preferably both). They’re just so damn sweet. To be clear, these books, as sweet as they are, have a certain gravity to them, making them a perfect blend of bitter and sweet.

These are romances. However, there are no blushing, innocent virgins and no tall, dark, mysterious, 29-year-old billionaire-multinational-CEOs here. These are regular people with regular stories. You and me, and that guy we had a serious crush on back in school. You know, the guy that was brainy and clumsy, and seemed like he liked you but had even less balls than you to do something about it?

These are situations we’ve been in. The dialogue is witty and hilarious, and you’ve surely had that discussions with your friend. This is us, trying to pry out of a rut we’ve been stuck in for years, but a rut we’ve grown so used to we think we like it. This is you, a student, convincing yourself you actually prefer books to people, and that it has nothing to do with the fact that you’re petrified to get out there and stop being socially awkward. It’s you and me, it’s Everyman and Everywoman.

So why should you read either of these books? After all, how can it be exciting reading about something you’ve experienced?

Well, Rainbow Rowell summarily executes willing suspension of disbelief by making you the protagonist of her books. She makes you feel like a hero, makes your life seem worthy of a book of its own. Because, most of us can find some portion of our lives, as small as it may be, that a little imagination and some wordplay can make into a good, maybe even a great book. And that’s what Rainbow tells you, what she reminds you of – your life is interesting, you have great friends, there is excitement behind that very corner, you just need to see it.

The overwhelming familiarity of it all gives you strength and fortifies your belief that anything is possible. Anything.  You need a right set of circumstances, some guts to step out of your routine, and just wait for things to change, develop, and possibly turn absolutely beautiful.

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Despite their similarities, Attachments and Fangirl are fairly different. Both deal with relatively new (at the time they were written) social changes which stem out of technological development. Fangirl is categorized as a YA novel, which I do not like, because YA makes me think of Twilight and Hunger Games, and Fangirl is nothing like those…things. It’s a story about a girl in college, in reluctant search for her place in the social order. Attachments deals with old people (30) who are stuck and are only realizing they haven’t really found themselves.

Obscure movie references are another thing these two books have in common, and you cannot help but feel like you have some kind of inside information, because there must be a whole bunch of people who didn’t get that “single-white-female” reference.

Even though Attachments should be more up my alley, and even though it’s a solid 4* book, I still preferred Fangirl (5*). Attachments is a fun read but at times it felt more like an exercise in writing than a complete work of fiction. It doesn’t lack closure, but it lacks a clear sense of direction, something Fangirl has in abundance.

I don’t usually  copy quotes from books because for me that’s the equivalent of dismembering a body, but sometimes it’s hard to resist, so here’s a one from Fangirl:

He made everything look so easy… Even standing. You didn’t realize how much work everyone else put into holding themselves upright until you saw Levi leaning against a wall. He looked like he was leaning on something even when he wasn’t. He made standing look like vertical lying down.

And another from Attachments:

Have you ever seen The Goodbye Girl? Don’t watch it if you still want to enjoy romantic comedies. It makes every movie made starring Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock lash itself in shame. Also, don’t watch The Goodbye Girl if it would trouble you to find Richard Dreyfuss wildly attractive for the rest of your life, even when you see him in What About Bob? or Mr. Holland’s Opus.

Fringe Benefits

I’ve finished watching Fringe a while ago, and I must admit I still feel a certain emptiness. Last time I felt like this was when I finished Harry Potter. Stephen King’s It almost killed me. I hate the feeling. It’s like someone yanked a piece of my life that never was and hid it somewhere in some alternative universe, maybe.

A lame feeling. Bitter-sweet. I hate it one sentence. In the next one I’m revelling in it. I’m revelling in the fact that I have experienced the non-existent, that there were imaginary people who shared there lives with me. I admit, it is a bit voyeuristic.

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I have memories of a life never lived, journeys never taken and people never met. And I miss them. And love them.

Now, Fringe itself. As you might have noticed, there is a certain impediment to me taking even a moderately objective position when writing about the series. I mean, the shit I’ve typed probably killed every and any possibility of a plausible review. But let’s not kid ourselves. Objectivity is as elusive a construct as is reality, so fuck it.

I’m very ambivalent about Fringe. Even now, while I’m missing it and pining after Walter, Olivia and Peter, I’m still not sure how I feel about the show itself. It’s weird, narratively dishevelled, continuity completely displaced. It’s just, well weird. But the thing is, once you fall in love with the characters, once they get under your skin, it seems that the plot itself can take whatever crazy-ass turn it wishes to take. It can have Grand Canyon sized holes. But who cares. You just want those guys to be ok, to be happy and alive.polivia-polivia-21616101-555-313

Walter Bishop grows on you like one of those parasites they have in shows like Fringe. He’s someone you would like to have around the house. You know he’s a pain in the ass, too much work and effort. Still you know that the benefits of him being in your life and in the world make both better. Most of the times you end up liking him despite yourself. He’s not an easy guy to like, but you just can help it. He’s so damn cute! And John Noble is such an amazing actor who can make you believe pretty much anything the screenwriters want you to believe. He can be adorable and intimidating, lovable and diabolic. You just need to put in an order, and John Noble delivers.

Olivia, Peter, Broyles, AstroCharlie, and Lincoln are a bit slower on growing. They’re more like a 75,000 year-old virus which sleeps deep underneath the surface until some evil, oil-drilling corporation brings it up to the surface. Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is an acquired taste if there ever was one. She’s pasty, very monochromatic, but if I had to choose a colour for her, I’d call her beige. I hate beige, it’s so blah. But Olivia isn’t. The show goes on and somehow beige becomes acceptable because it is tainted with strength, audacity and determination. As universes overlap and stuff gets crazy in Fringe, you realize Anna Torv is actually a decent actress and is capable of acting the same person with a different background where you actually notice which version she is at a given moment.

tumblr_mf4ru3r3sx1rbrja2Peter Bishop is the most difficult to like. He’s treats his father, one of the most lovable characters ever, like shit. Sure, his father is in fact an evil genius with a knack for experimenting on children, but come on! Peter also has a face of someone who used to be friends with James Van Der Beek and Katie Holmes back in Dawson’s Creek. Joshua Jackson was a bold choice to say the least, because I think nobody associates him with words like: cool, mysterious, powerful, sexy. But somehow, Joshua manages to pull it off. I think it was the hardest for him, with that teenage-idol-I-was-in-Dawson’s-Creek face. I think the fact that Walter loves Peter so much makes the viewer love him too. If Walter loves him, there has to be something good about the guy, right?

The Peter-Olivia relationship, although having plenty soap-opera quality, is actually unobtrusive, which is a rarity especially when a romantic relationship is crucial to a show.

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I miss shows like Fringe, like X-files and PSI Factor. I mean, as shitty as some of them were, they still opened my mind to endless possibilities and universes, and I loved them. I miss REAL science fiction. Like, where there’s science on which the fiction is based. We need that stuff to keeps us wondering, to shake us out of our safe places for at least 45 minutes a day.

We know police officers catch bad guys, we know that there is corruption in politics, we know normal people sell meth, we know that as a race, we are prone to idiocy. Yeah, a lot of us are socially awkward yet somehow adorable. And it’s nice to see those “truths” produced nicely, confirmed by Bryan Cranston, Kevin Spacey, Matthew McConaughey

However, from time to time, I crave for fiction that’ll open the shutters and let a new, eerie light shine on all the things we think are real and sure. 

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