What’s wrong with Hannibal?

Aside from the obvious?

Not going into aestheticism, they pretty much screwed up everything they could have screwed up. Will Graham, the ultimate empath (insert race from Star Trek) is nothing more than an oversensitive, snivelling child who cannot seem to keep his eyes dry for two minutes. The guy who plays Graham in the show (I don’t care about his name) could not portray the transformation of the “real” Will Graham into a ruthless killer – shockingly, saying “This is my design” has not proven enough.

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The only thing which lead me through the whole first season was the fact that I was intrigued by the massive changes to the story. However, the changes they made to the title character were just too much.

Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is antisocial, weird and so obviously “not-all-there”, that I fail to understand how no one took note of it sooner. He lacks any emotion and fails to react properly in almost all situations, which pretty much screams “sociopath”. However, one of best psychiatrists recommends him to one of the best FBI investigators to help the best profiler. How quaint. And utterly idiotic.

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Hannibal is once again – ruined (remember this?). The greatest and biggest reason to fear Hannibal (the Original) is his normalcy and the fact that you like him and enjoy being in his company. It’s a pleasure to talk to him, even after you learn that he is in fact a monster, at times his intelligence makes you forget this. He is sociable, well-liked and highly-functional – only at times his misanthropy seeps through. In my opinion, you can mess with everything when using Thomas Harris’s books, but you cannot mess with the essence of Hannibal.

Now, the story. One episode per serial killer. Really? Come on? Hello – here’s a vicious, cruel serial killer who kills young women who all look alike. Oh, here’s a list of employees at a construction site. Oh look, here’s the serial killer. Yay. Sorry, but there’s no aestheticism that can mask this massive fail. One episode was simply not enough to portray a warped mind which instils fear and haunts Graham throughout the entire season. I mean, the guy you showed me is just a glorified butcher.

Hannibal is at best a 3/10 but I’m still going to watch season two. Because, I really want to know what happens next. But first I’m going to go back to one of my favourite books  and one of my favourite characters (not Hannibal, Will Graham).

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Must-see anime – Gin no Saji

You’ve seen one. You’ve seen them all.

That’s a claim that can easily be made about most anime belonging to the same genre. There are certain “rules” which authors adhere to. Sometimes they bend them, sometimes they flat out break them, but still the rules are there.

Gin no Saji follows Yuugo Hachiken, a boy tired of trying to live up to expectations he cannot meet. He decides to enrol in Ooezo Agricultural High School, a boarding school in the countryside, as a means to escape the stress brought upon by his parents and his lack of direction. For more adverbs and adjectives visit: myanimelist.net.

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What you might call “rules” of a slice of life anime are present in Gin no Saji. But it’s not the rules that really matter, do they? It’s the characters’ originality and plausibility, the setting in which those rules are being applied.

I’m a sucker for anime in which nothing really happens. And when I say nothing, I mean nobody saves the world, establishes new world order or reinstates the balance between the universes – basically your average slice-of-life is my cup of tea. And Gin no Saji is at the same time average and extraordinary, which is a combination I really enjoy because it is not easy to pull it off.

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Gin no Saji is about friendship, limitations and about having good fun while trying to become a better version of yourself – as much as life will let you. However, all of these usual topics are dealt with while our protagonist Yuugo and his motley crew learn how to make bacon and cheese, while taking care of pigs and cows and learning all there is about horses.

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Somehow, the agricultural setting manages to make all those usual slice-of-life tropes shine brighter and make you laugh and care even more. A must-see for anyone who enjoys slice-of-life. Really.

HOWEVER !!!

If you don’t like/eat meat I think it might be better for you to skip Gin no Saji.

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Also, if you do like/eat meat and have issues with where it actually comes from, you might find some parts of Gin no Saji not-so-nice.

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Film Adaptation. Done Right.

You know how people say: “You should’ve seen it on the big screen“? I have discovered recently this also applies to The Silence of the Lambs, one of my favourite movies of all times.

The Silence of the Lambs is one of those movies which I have watched enough times to have memorized not only all the lines, but also the way those lines are delivered as well as facial expressions of characters as they deliver them. I guess this tends to happen when a movie is directed masterfully, the casting is freakishly good and the script kicks ass. So, not very often.

I’ve seen the movie a billion times and I thought I appreciated it for all its worth. However, I was wrong. Only on big screen can you appreciate the sheer genius of Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Demme. For the first time I was able to fully appreciate how good Jodie Foster is as Clarice Starling.

Aside from the obvious reasons for loving this movie, I also love it because it is the best film adaptation I have ever seen. It is the epitome of film adaptation. It’s film adaptation, done the right way. You take the source material (which is awesome, requires no tweaking and needs not be tampered with) and you give it a dimension only the medium you’re adapting it to can give it.

You give it a voice, you give it a face. You use a simple thing as a look to convey a thousand words that a book cannot communicate. You use the camera and sound the way a book uses words and descriptions – to draw in the audience, make it a part of the scene, make it feel the story, make them live it and suffer it. The Silence of the Lambs is proof that Demme understood his medium and had respect for the source material.

It’s a fucking masterpiece, this movie. It’s also one of the rare film adaptations that I actually like more than I the source material.

The only thing that would make me appreciate it more would be hearing the lambs scream as they are being slaughtered. But I think the current level of appreciation will have to suffice.

A Case of Literary ADHD

Rose Christo’s Gives Light Review

I’ve been itching for something light to read, so when I realised I’d bought a book titled “Gives Light” it seemed a no-brainer. I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I had bought it,  which I absolutely loved because I had no idea what to expect.

In the beginning, the book was capable of smoothing out the wrinkles of a shitty day.

Halfway through, it became apparent that I will not enjoy the book. Rose seemed to have had a bunch of various ideas which are perfectly OK, but she really should not have put them all in one book. It’s just too much, and the book ends up being about nothing and everything and about no one and everybody. It’s all over the place and no character is given proper attention due to this literary ADHD.

I will list all the things that were not given proper attention in Gives Light. And no, I do not care that it is the first book of a series because a series is a series, and a book is a whole in its own right.

  1. Skylar St. Clair is a mute teenager who got his throat slashed by a man who had killed his mother
  2. His father has disappeared without a word and Skylar is put in a custody of his paternal grandmother who lives on the Nettlebush Reserve
  3. Skylar’s mother was murdered on the Nettlebush Reserve by a member of the tribal council
  4. He was in fact a serial killer who had murdered several women
  5. The son of the murderer, Rafael Gives Light, lives on the reservation
  6. Native American customs and history are interspersed throughout the book
  7. For the first time Skylar becomes a true member of a community and makes friends
  8. Skylar’s new friend Annie has to take care of her two siblings because her mother is in the Army and her father is useless (it is mentioned somewhere that he had a stroke)
  9. Rafael Gives Light becomes one of his best friends
  10. Skylar’s father turns out to be a criminal who brings illegal immigrants into the country
  11. FBI and social services regularly visit the reserve and threaten the fragile stability of Skylar’s new life
  12. Skylar slowly falls in love with Rafael and Rafael returns his feelings
  13. Skylar is briefly conflicted about his feelings for Rafael – briefly because there’s so much shit going on in the book he has no time to deal with it for a longer period of time.

Imagine all this (and more – I avoided spoilers) crammed onto 285 pages, and do not forget to include descriptions, internal monologue and musings of a teenage boy who uses words such as “vociferous“.

Let’s go general and explore topics.

  1. Dealing with severe loss and monumental change
  2. Facing painful past experiences and achieving personal growth through adversity
  3. The treatment of Native Americans in modern society
  4. The importance of preserving the culturally and spiritually rich Native American customs and way of life
  5. Dealing with the fact that you are different and learning that “normalcy” is a matter of perspective/upbringing
  6. Treatment of crime and punishment in different cultures

I’m sure I could come up with more but I think this is enough to illustrate my point.

It’s a shame, really, because the book is well written. If the first list was cut down and one or two of the topics given proper prominence, I believe it would have been a really good book and I would have probably been half way through the second part of the series.

Raw Liver & Melted Vanilla Ice Cream

The decision to delve once again into the American Gods was only a matter of proper incentive. The premiere of the TV show seemed like a good one, and, boy, were my reading buddy and me right about rereading this one.

I’m not sure who’d read American Gods in 2013, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me. I have been taken aback by every major turn of events. The review itself is, however, in line with what I feel about the book, although I think it was too vague, so let’s list the three things I loved the most about American Gods.

1. Coercive Suspension of Disbelief

Suspension of disbelief and the type of willing suspension the author requests from me is the most important part of the book. It’s the deal breaker. Halfway through American Gods, I’ve realised that, for me, Gaiman’s quality as a writer comes firstly from the fact that I haven’t even realised that I was suspending disbelief. You simply have no choice in the matter. It comes as easy as breathing and it’s not willing – it’s compulsory. I think this is achieved by presenting the impossible as mundane, and mundane as extraordinary; snow is something to write home about – talking to your dead spouse is an afterthought.

2. Intelligent Design

Nothing in this book is accidental. Every adjective and every metaphor is carefully placed. It’s all so deliberate; far from being effortlessly beautiful. Even though I’m a big fan of effortless beauty, it is impossible not to appreciate the way Gaiman structured and planned everything to make you believe.

3. Raw Liver and Melted Vanilla Ice Cream

When Neil puts in an effort to put that beauty onto the page, he does so magnificently. The thing I really liked is the way he treats the colours. I might forget some of the characters (I already did),  but I will not forget Mr Wednesday’s suit which was the colour of melted vanilla ice cream, nor will I forget the room which has walls the colour of raw liver. I’ll take the colours with me.

“He perceived the pain in colours: the red of a neon bar-sign, the green of a traffic light on a wet night, the blue of an empty video screen.”

Five to Four

However, there is something of a downside to rereading. First time around, I gave American Gods a five. This time around – it’s a four. The ending was anticlimactic this time and the Laura-Shadow relationship was not something I felt was as game-changing as it was meant to be. I needed a bit more convincing.

P.S. Still haven’t delved into the TV show. But I love the idea of Ian McShane as Wednesday. But then again, I love the idea of Ian McShane as pretty much anyone anywhere.

You Perv, You!

“You are a sexual deviant. A pervert, through and through. Now, now, don’t get so defensive. Allow me to explain.”

Jesse Bering: Perv – The Sexual Deviant in All of Us

What is Jesse Bering’s Perv about?

To put it plainly, the Perv explores the normalcy of what we perceive as abnormal in sexual behaviour and/or desires and it takes abnormal from the equation.

One of the best covers ever shows even more plainly what the book is about. Imagine yourself reading this book on a bus and you’ll get what it’s all about.

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Why I liked the Perv?

Bering uses documented paraphilias (a whole bunch of them) to illustrate the impossible malleability of human sexuality. He cites numerous studies, and describes practices of curing paraphilias and homosexuality throughout history. He does this in a way that made me completely numb to the word “normal” – the word I have learnt to detest because it is usually coupled with unspoken bias.

I’ve always felt that, as long as no one is harmed physically or psychologically, the “anything goes” principle should be applied. My belief, I have to admit, was tested throughout the book, but I concluded my reading experience with: I do not have to be able to internalize it to accept it.

The scientific reconstruction (or deconstruction?) of what we perceive as “natural” and “normal” is what made me fall in love with sociology; the impassionate approach to things people feel strongly about but fail to explore with a cool head. Perv might seem light on occassion, but the cool is always there.

Why I did not like Perv enough to give it five stars?

It’s easy to read (and like) a book which pretty much tells you you’re right. Despite those parts which tested my open-mindedness, reading this book felt like a friendly pat on the back. “You’re so evolved in your thinking! So cool! Here, have this study which proves you’re right.” This, of course, has nothing to do with the quality of the book itself, but I feel it dulled my ability to be objective and it put the book at 4.5 stars.

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While I honestly enjoyed Bering’s witticisms and puns and I found it very pleasing to laugh hysterically at his sarcastic commentary, at times I found it to be a bit too much – bordering on judgemental. Here comes the illogical part of my four-star review. Part two. I love a bit of nonPC humour. I do. But I could not stop myself from thinking about an imaginary person; let’s call him John Smith.

John decided to pick up the Perv. John is ok with gay people. I mean, he’s still struggling to abandon the “let them do what they want behind a closed door” maxim. But he’s trying because his best friend in the world turned out to be – gay. I do not see John making it through the first chapter of the book.

Yes, this book has been written for a specific target audience. The cover and the title make it blatantly obvious and the way in which it is written only serves to confirm it. And yes, there are probably books out there intended for the audience to which our John gravitates to. But hey, it’s my review. And even though I play pretend to being objective, I perceive the term much in the same way I perceive normalcy. So there.

P.S. Let’s not forget the possibility (or rather probability) that I’m underestimating John and overestimating the delicacy of his sensibilities. Perv might have given me a pat on the back, but I can’t pretend that I hold no bias.

GotG Vol. 2 – or let’s talk about plot, baby

Three things that saved GotG Vol. 2 from total bust:

  1. The characters and their relationships – namely, the first movie;
  2. The Chain by Fleetwood Mac;
  3. Nebula and Yondu.

I also have to give them credit for avoiding a giant hole in the sky and opting for a subterranean climax.

Twice as many things due to which it sucked:

  1. The unbearable pointlessness of the Sovereign;
  2. Forced humour;
  3. Yes, we get it. Little Groot is cute.
  4. Angst overload;
  5. Drax as a comic relief character;
  6. The James Bondian “let’s pause so I can explain my evil plan to you”.

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Let’s Talk About Plot

Recently, there has been an influx of “big” movies without plot. This post was in my head after the remake of the Fantastic Four. It was there after Dr Strange. Suicide Squad, anyone? I’m really really sorry that it was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that has prompted me to finally write it.

We really do not need to refer to Aristotle to know that every story needs to have three parts: the beginning, the middle and the end. Logic entails that the beginning serves as an introduction to the story and its characters, the middle is in fact plot development which introduces the conflict and where the story reaches its climax, while the end gives us resolution and conclusion (we should be so lucky).

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Boys and girls who are writing superhero movies as of recently have decided to forgo introduction and plot development for something I will call a reminder. For approximately one hour (if we’re lucky, it’s just one hour) we are reminded about how cool the characters are, how familiar we are with them and the “universe” and how much we love it all. The reminder is also full of WHAM! BAM! KAPOW!

And then WHAM! BAM! KAPOW! – the climax of the movie. The end.

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Pretty much like the structure of this post.

Lock, Key – no smoking barrels

I find myself lost for nice words (jaded?). I mean, I really enjoyed Lock and Key, and here I am struggling to write down the reasons I liked it, with a prepared list of things that were poorly executed in the book.

The positive aspects, which made me read the book in three days and have a hissy fit for having forgotten my Kindle at work one day, are just too damn ethereal. It’s not about the characters. It’s not about the plot. It’s about that general feeling that seems to encompass you when you’re reading a worthy book. It infuses every minute of your day and makes it different.

Lock and Key made my days somehow softer. It made me calmer and more serene. The story goes pretty much as Goodreads says it goes. It’s not very original nor is it exactly ground-breaking in character development. It even has one of my least favourite things – first-person narrator. But it worked for me, even though throughout the whole book I was painfully aware of all the things that could have been done better.

What sealed the deal at four stars is a quote which made me realize I need to stop bitching and feeling sorry for myself.

Needing was so easy: it came naturally, like breathing. Being needed by someone else, though, that was the hard part.

Yeah, I knoooow. It’s lame, second-grade stuff, but sometimes you need someone to remind you of that lame second-grade stuff you forget along the line. They don’t stop being true, we just dismiss them, thinking we’ve outgrown them.

I’m pleased that my new vague blog category has not been a complete failure, because this books fall easily into the Maximum Coze category. I guess it wasn’t a fluke after all.

The First Cheap Thrill of 2017

During my seven-day tryst with flu, I have come to recognize there are some, albeit few, benefits to being unable to exercise any type of exertion. Putting aside that you might have to do some actual work while burning up at mild 38.5 degrees Celsius, you don’t (really) need your mental faculties to be at their peak to engage in these benefits.

  1. You can read silly books to your heart’s desire
  2. You needn’t explain to anyone why the fuck you are watching Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Jane Eyre AGAIN.

Flu is what brings about the first  Cheap Thrill of 2017 to my blog.

I’ve stumbled upon Storm and Silence on Goodreads (trending in some context) so I’ve decided to take it up when shit got too real.

Key words: 19th century, London, feminist, suffragette, tall, dark, curt, brooding, gender bender, guns, fights, France, balls (the kind you need a gown for), commerce…

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Storm and Silence (read here) suffers from a serious case of ADHD. Its story lines disappear and reappear indiscriminately, with no sense of proportion and position in the grand scheme of things. For example there’s a story line about Ella (sister) and her love problems which took up so much of Thiers attention (for some unfathomable reason).

Boring. Uninteresting. Superfluous. Boooooooring. Skip-skip-skip. Don’t care.

After putting the reader through superfluous torture with Ella, Thier decides he no longer has any interest in it and ends the blasted thing in just a couple of pages. Could’ve done that sooner. Like before introducing Ella as a character.

There is more than one thing that warns against reading Storm and Silence such as:

  1. The main character Lilly, whose point of view we follow, balances on the edge of lunacy for the best part of the book.
  2. It takes I would say about two thirds of the book to actually get an inkling that  Rikkard (blah name) Ambrose (that’s the tall, brooding dude) is supposed to be an actual human being
  3. The end of the book is stupid, ridiculous and impromptu as the conclusion of the Ella-storyline.

However…

It’s kind of a cute book, with all its quirks and general “is-this-really-a-book” feel. I liked it. It was fun. Even when it was irritating the shit out of me I still had a grin on my face. Despite all of the above, Lilly grew on me and I ended up really liking Ambrose even though it took forever for him to take shape. Yes. It is possible it was the flu doing the liking.

However…

I have also red In the Eye of the Storm (read here). Unlike Storm and Silence, the no. 2 actually gives of a unified feeling and can be mistaken for a book. In the Eye of the Storm can face many historical romances and not blink. While Storm and Silence dabbles with adventure, In the Eye of the Storm brings it on and takes it seriously. The major fault which both instalments share is the extent to which you have to suspend your disbelief in order to digest some of the things that happen.

However…

We who are in the business of Cheap Thrills and Guilty Pleasures suspend our disbelief like you wouldn’t believe. So, I intend to read the third book here and I fully expect to be entertained.

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A Year in Life

Some 15 years ago I had a big fight with my mother. I was in high school (yes, I am that old) and we were watching the latest episode of Gilmore Girls. This was before Netflix, before binge TV. This was in the world of Napster – when it took hours to download a single song. This was a world in which, after a weeks’ worth of downloading you had an album to burn on a CD (a round disc with a hole in the middle which went into that slot in your computer, you know – the cup holder). Back then you could use your mobile phone for five things: call, text, calculate, wake up and play the snake.

In that world, in that particular episode Rory gets hurt after going for a drive (to get ice-cream) with Jess in a car that Dean had built for her. Lorelai, being a Jess-hater that she was, freaks out at Jess’s role in the accident. I don’t remember the particulars, but basically she blames everything on the irresponsible, token bad-boy of the show. She’s presenting her frantic case to Luke when I remark she’s overreacting and that she’s being a bitch about it just because she doesn’t like Jess.

At that point my mother says, calmly, that I shouldn’t comment because I don’t have any children. Today, my mum and I have a relationship akin to Rory and Lorelai. Back then we were Lorelai and Emily. So I freaked out, of course, because I believed (and I still do) that just because I have not experienced something first hand doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have an opinion about it.

All hell broke loose because the fight transcended into a fight about my right to have an opinion, to voice it and to have my opinion acknowledged. Note, it was a MASSIVE fight.

This is, I think, why people care about Gilmore Girls. Female people, that is. I think every mother wanted to be Lorelai to her daughter and every daughter wanted Lorelai to be her mother. With all its ups and downs, it was a relationship we wanted.  Some of us wanted to go to a fancy private school and live in a fairy-tale little town. Most wanted Dean, Jess or Logan. But I think it all boiled down to that mother-daughter relationship.

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It was hard not to get excited about A Year in Life, because it reminded me of how much I wanted to see how everyone was doing. It might sound sad, but fictional characters make out a significant part of my life and, often, they don’t give you closure. Closure rarely happens in fiction, because you don’t want the fiction to end.

Yes, A Year in Life did not show me what I wanted to see. There are some things that I consider stupid and unnecessary, but it didn’t diminish anything about it. Because I always thought what happens in Gilmore Girls just has to happen that way. It’s how it’s supposed to be, because that’s how life goes. Silly, I know, but I have always accepted the plot as a fact of life. Sure, I believe that some (most) plot choices in A Year in Life were made due to the availability of the actors, but I don’t care because it’s Gilmore Girls. It’s the way it should be.

2016 has been one of the lousiest years in my life. Made me question pretty much everything. Everything but my family. And that’s what Gilmore Girls is essentially about. It’s about family, and people you consider to be your family. Frankly, I think that family can get you through everything, even 2016.

In case you were wondering…

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