Choke by Chuck Palahnuik (2001)

choke-mti-1

Synopsis

Vincent Mancini has a lot of problems. He has a crap job, a sick mother, and is a sex addict. Throw in some crazy friends, and an inventive way of making money, and you get one bizarre story.

Review

This is another of my “book stockpile” books. I’ve had it for probably about a year and half at this stage, but only recently dove into into. Again, this book had the honour of being my commuting book.

I’ve been using the same method of commuting to the city centre since I first moved to Dublin. I ALWAYS have a book with me, and I’ve never had any issues with anybody. However, that was about to change.

My shift in the past couple of weeks allowed me to finish work around 5.30 and weary from a long week of work, I shuffled onto the train and stood, wedged in between sweaty busniess men and women with huge bags. I fished this out of my bag and quickly got lost in the story. A few minutes later, I heard the almost stereotypical “ahem” and a bony finger poking me in the arm. A woman in her late 50’s/ early 60s was staring at me like she was expecting me to burst into flame. “Do you mind not reading that? I find it offensive.”, she said, pointing at “Choke”. I just gaped at her. I didn’t know what to say. The guys that I was standing next to looked at me, I looked at them, and went back to reading, ignoring Mrs. Prissy Pants’ sighs and mutterings.

What the actual fuck.

Anyway. This book is an odd one. The story is hard to get in to. It’s almost impenetrable. I didn’t feel any empathy towards Vincent at all. I suppose he isn’t really an empathic character and is just a tough cookie to crack also. You can almost chart Vincent’s coming off the rails and are aware of plot turns and twists before he is. In a way, it’s like car crash tv. You know what’s happening, and what’s about to happen before Vince does, but you can’t look away.

The sex described in the book is not pleasant. It’s not romantic. It’s Vincent’s addiction and is treated as such. He hates himself as much as everyone else. He doesn’t know how to interact with others, and has a very limited range of emotions.

Would I recommend it? It’s difficult to know. I would recommend it to people who have read Palahnuik’s other works, but it’s not my favourite by him.

TL:DR – Let’s not forget Jesus’ foreskin.

RED 2 (2013)

red

Synopsis

Frank Moses just can’t seem to catch a break. The retired CIA agent just wants to settle down with his new girlfriend and live a quiet life. However, things aren’t that simple and soon enough, he and his ragtag band of other retired secret agents. Throw in a Cold War nuke and an Asian assasin, and you get “RED 2”.

First Half Review

Going into “Red 2”, I didn’t know what to expect. “Red”, the first one, went over my head. It was one of those “who cares?” movies that had no interest to me. When I saw a sequel was coming out my first reaction was…. “there was a Red 1?” Is this just a clever marketing ploy to get people in who like sequels go see it?

I watched the first 5 minutes of “Red” and it was a paint by the numbers action movie. My friends, who had seen it, thought I HAD seen it, but in all honesty I just guessed the plot of the movie from the few minutes I had seen. Old Guy “Bruce” tears up cheques to keep talking to the call centre girl on the end of the phone. She wants action in her life, something happens and they go on a crazy adventure.

The sequel, again not having seen the first, seems to be more of the same. It’s in the vein of 80’s action movies, high octane fun, lots of people dying, quirky characters, Russians, CIA, MI6. This movie would have been fantastic. If I was still 16.

But there was something about it, something off centre. It seemed diluted, like it had been done before, it probably has in all essence.

Simplistic formula, Bad guys, double crosses, double double crosses, counter crosses, Russians, love story, hapless princess in the wrong castle.

It has a fantastic cast don’t doubt that, and the hamm-iness is top notch from the likes of Hopkins and Cox.

It’s far far better than the train wreck of “Die Hard 5”. But overall, it’s a weak action movie. Like most action movies nowadays, the action is watered down, the swearing non existent, fake blood seems to cost more than printer ink, either that or “The Walking Dead” or “Game of Thrones” have bought out Hollywood’s stockpiles.

If there’s nothing else on, watch it you won’t be disappointed but you won’t be blown away. You’ll get a chuckle or two. You’ll lose yourself for 2 hours but in 2 weeks time, you won’t remember it.

Second Half Review

The perks of having a card that allows you to see however many movies you want in a month, for a low price, are obvious. You get to see all the new releases and never feel guilty about the amount of money you spend in the cinema. The pitfalls of such a  card are not as obvious. Once all the big movies have been watched, you are left with… less than desirable movies. Of course, I could just not go to the cinema, but where’s the fun in that?

“RED 2”, unfortunately, was one of these movies. I had seen the trailers and such, but wasn’t overly pushed about seeing it. Our regular cinema buddies had seen the first movie, and wanted to see this one, so that’s how we ended up seeing it.

I should preface this review with “It’s not a bad movie”. But it’s lazy. It relies too heavily on the over-used “action” tropes. The switch, the Cold War, the retired agents, the implied “I’m too old for this shit” in EVERY scene. There was nothing new. Nothing outstanding. Just meh. Utter meh.

I’ve seen this movie probably not more than 2 weeks ago, but I am struggling to remember the plot. I did enjoy seeing Helen Mirren in something other than dramatic roles. She is an ass kicking MI6 agent, who doesn’t take no guff from nobody.

I hope that there won’t be another RED movie. It’s almost embarrassing at this stage.

First Half Review TL: DR – Still better than Die Hard 5

Second Half Review TL: DR – Kinda intrigued to see if there is Victoria/ Han Cho Bai fanfiction..

All Families are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland (2001)

coupland

Synopsis

The Drummond family are extraordinary, in the fact that they are a normal family. The book focuses primarily on their lives in the lead up to Sarah Drummond’s launch into space. We also find out details of how their lives led to the events which unfold in this book.

Review

I picked this book up on a whim. I had actually confused Mr. Coupland with another author in my head, and was delighted when I saw this book on sale. It then sat on my “reserve book stack”. I generally have anything from 10 – 20 books in this stack, which tides me over when I have no spare money to spend on books. Having started a new job recently, and feeling the pinch as the tax man eat into my pay cheque, this was the perfect time to get stuck into this pile. And that is how this book became my “handbag book”.

“All Families are Psychotic” is a strange book. It flits between the past and the present in such a fluid way. Often-times  I had to re-read certain paragraphs as suddenly it was 1973 and there was no mention of it. I enjoyed this. It helped keep me focused on what I was reading. 

The best way to describe this book is akin to a black hole. It sucked me in and spat me out faster than I realised. Took me less than a week to read it, at 20 minutes at a time, but in saying that, the story told. The once fractured family has something of a redemption and they fall back together as best they can.

The story, as I have mentioned, takes place in the run up to Sarah Drummond’s space launch. Janet, her mother, and Ted, her father, are divorced and haven’t spoken to each other in years. Wade is a HIV positive con man who’s wife has recently found God, and Bryan, bless his socks, is utterly depressed and has a girlfriend who doesn’t believe in vowels. A heist, imprisonment and a robbery follow, along with miracles and disbelief.

Worth the read, absolutely. Even if it is a bit mental at times.

TL: DR Review – The space launch is about the most normal every day thing that happens…

Premium Rush (2012)


premuim rush

Synopsis

In Manhattan, if you want something moved from one place to another as fast as absolutely possible, you need a bike courier. These folks ride all over the city quick as lightening to deliver their parcels, letters etc etc. Wilee is one such courier. He asks his dispatch for more runs as he is short of money and this next one may just be the end of him. Through in the Chinese Mafia, a dirty cop and a whole lot of NYC, and you have “Premium Rush”.

First Half Review

I saw this last September at a special screening and thought it was a fantastic thriller. It’s one of those old school thrillers that we don’t really see any more.
It has a simple story a simple villain there’s no twists or shocks in it. It’s just a decent enjoyable movie.
Wilee is a New York City bike courier who has to get a package from A to B but someone wants the package. That’s the crux of the movie. It’s a by the numbers thriller that won’t win any major awards but it’s a solid movie in it’s own right.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon play off each other well. The love aspect, while seemingly tacky at parts, is realistic in it’s depiction.

It’ll be one of those movies when it’s on if you watch it, you won’t hate it.
Plus if you’ve been to New York, it’s great to look through it and say “I WAS THERE”.

Second Half Review

When this movie was out in the cinemas, it was one of those movies that I wanted to go see but there was always something better on. I’m a big fan of Joseph Gordon Levitt and love the variety of roles that he plays.

In “Premium Rush”, he plays Wilee; a head strong daredevil who rides his bike with reckless abandon. His girlfriend, Vanessa. is also a bike courier but things between herself and Wilee are not going well. Vanessa is really having a bad time of it. Her boyfriend misses her graduation and now her roommate wants her to move out, with almost no warning.

Wilee gets the call to pick up a mysterious letter from Vanessa’s room-mate and the game is on. It would seem that the this would be an easy delivery but Wilee didn’t count on the absolute mental dirty cop making life hella difficult for him.

It’s a simple movie. There is almost no more to it than what I have described. In saying that, it’s a beautifully shot movie. NYC is looking particularly lovely in this movie. For once, it’s not all dark and grimy. It’s a sunny day and the sunlight truly lifts the city.

Watch it when you want to see something with no in-depth plot, something light but still entertaining.

First Half TL: DR – Believable baddy and premise.

Second Half TL: DR – Who knew delivering letters could be so intense?

 

The Wolverine (2013)

wolverine


Synopsis

Logan is battling numerous inner demons and reckons the best way to do this is to keep out of society’s way at all times. However, his self imposed exile is ended when an old face from his past invites him to Japan to see him once more before the his death. The old man has some interesting propositions for our hero.

First Half Review
It has begun; the “reboot” of the X-men franchise, which I think, for a change, has been done in a smart way.

In the coming years we have “X-men: Days of Future Past” which is linking “X1” and “X2” with “First Class” and “The Wolverine”.  “X3” and “Wolverine Origins” are seemingly being discarded/retconned to make way for the ensemble cast which has been all over the internet in the last few weeks.
But back to “The Wolverine” which is based on the Japanese saga in the Wolverine mythos.
It does follow on from “X3” in that Jean Grey is dead and we’re made blatantly aware of this. But other than that there’s no other mention to it.
It’s the first comic book movie in the long time that feels like a comic book movie rather than an adaptation of a comic book and not being overly stupid in it’s concept and explanation.
We start out sometime in Japan in August in the 1940s. Wolverine is locked up, pre adamantium, and what results is him saving a young Japanese soldiers life and flashing forward to present day where he is living in the woods, minding his own business, and befriending giant bears, as one does.
We’re then taken to Japan where he has to protect the life of a rich Japanese girl and is offered the chance of a normal life.  It has a grittier tone to it than previous installments and feels a bit more adult.
My expectations have been raised for “Days of Future Past”.

Second Hand Review

The “X- Men” movies have never really held any great fascination for me. I’ve seen all of the film adaptation but would be hard pressed to remember any of the details. I get flashes. Like the diamond chick and Deadpool that isn’t Deadpool. I have more of a recollection of “First Class”, but I can’t decide if that is because its one of the better movies, or the most recent.

“The Wolverine” was one of those movies that I wasn’t overly pushed about seeing. I figured that it probably wouldn’t add anything more to the character that I had already made my judgements about, and I was right. The movie doesn’t really delve into Wolverine’s character any more than any of the other movies. He’s still broody and dark and with ever decreasing amounts of patience. In saying that, the scenes where he is talking to Jean Grey is done well. It’s obvious that Logan is in love with Jean and is tortured deeply by her death. I had forgotten that she had died, and even now, had to Google it to ensure that he did, indeed, kill her at the end of “X- Men 3”.

This movie didn’t really need the romance plot. Beyond the obvious reason “rescue the girl”, this movie doesn’t really have any bones to it. Mariko’s sole purpose in this movie is to get kidnapped, which she manages, TWICE. Which is weird  The first time, she is essentially being held by the hand and being walked out of the temple. She is the epitome of the damsel in distress here. This is weird because later in the movie she speaks about being a champion knife thrower and holds her own, martial art styles, when she is set upon again. However, she is then kidnapped in what is probably the lamest kidnapping attempt ever. 

But, I waffle. This movie was a disappointment. I was expecting so much more. It’s not a bad movie, just disappointing.


First Half TL:DR  –  www.trask-industries.com

Second Half TL:DR – Ninjas, giant robots, and geisha girls. Pretty much stereotypical Japan. With a Mutant.

Pacific Rim (2013)

pacific_rim_ver3

Synopsis

War rages on between humans and vile beings from another dimension, hell bent on destroying everything we hold dear. Ex pilot, Raleigh, and enthusiastic trainee, Mako, have to forge an unlikely partnership when it matters most.

First Half Review

A movie about giant robots beating the shit out of each other. What could go wrong…. Now, now, now, this isn’t going to be a Michael Bay vs. Del Toro. Unfortunately. 

But if it’s not where’s the fun people are already and have been debating how can people like Del Toros over Bays. Easy. It’s not a fucking mess of a cluster-fuck there is differentiation between the robots and the humans don’t get in the way of the fighting.

This is what the transformers movies should have been like. Granted it’s not without it’s faults the story is threadbare. The acting hammy at best. The dialogue rivals anything by George Lucas. But it’s a film about giant robots beating the shit out of giant aliens, what were you expecting, Oscar worthy speeches? Dramatic life realisations. It knows what it has to do and that’s entertain and it does. The plot may fall apart as soon as you look at it but again it’s just meant to be fun and a lot of people are on there high horses and forget that this is what movies are about. That for 2 hours of your life you can escape from all that shit going on and lose yourself in a movie. Whether it be an epic about a historical figure, a movie about a kid who gets 3 wishes. They all have there jobs and this one does it.

The main difference between this and transformers is that as i said Transformers focuses too much on the humans and not enough on the Autobots/Decepticons. The explosions are big and bombastic but there’s no urgency about them. And lastly, you can’t tell the difference between the damn things.

Second Half Review

When I saw the trailers for this movie first, I was kinda intrigued. The first trailer didn’t really divulge too much and the whole mystery of the movie whetted my appetite. The second trailer, however, did not. It proved that this movie was exactly what i was hoping it wouldn’t be; big, brash and full of explosions.

In saying that though, this movie honestly wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. It’s plot is almost invivisble and its dialogue is downright cringey at times, but the movie itself is interesting. It’s original content. No “source material” to stray from, no legions of fans to bear witness to. It’s not a movie being churned out for the sole purpose of providing a sequel.

Our story starts with our hero, Raleigh, giving a brief history of the war with the Kaiju. The Kaiju are inter dimensional beings that wreck untold havoc on coastal cities. They spawn from the Rift, a place deep within the Pacific Ocean. Mankind’s only hope, we are told, is in the colossal Jaeger robots, who do battle with the Kaiju where ever they emerge.

Sometimes this can feel a little like a Power Rangers movie, but the effects are spectacular in this movie. There is no point watching it in which I recall noting “That is such a lame/cheap-ass effect”. The battles are stunning and the city-scapes are exactly how I imagine a black market Hong Kong to look like.

As I have mentioned, the dialogue is a little off at times. It’s stilted and sometimes feels as if the actors are purposefully engaging in the tropes that surround action movies. The tight arse general with a tainted past, the young woman  who desperately wants to prove herself, and a hero with a tragic back story. All of these, and more, are to be found within this movie.

The shoe horned in “love story” has absolutely no merit at all for the overall story, which is pretty threadbare to begin with. The characters have no depth to them and so it is hard to feel happy or sad for them at the appropriate times.

In saying all of this though, I would still see it if you can. It’s a brainless action movie with a story that is slightly different to others this summer. At least you can be impressed with the absolutely awesome special effects.

First Half TL;DR – Gipsy Danger is GO!

Second Half TL; DR – War. War never changes. Except for Ron Perlman. Digging those shoes.

 

 

The Heat (2013)

image

Synopsis

Sarah Ashburn is a good FBI agent. Smart, quick and very intelligent,  she should be a dead cert for the upcoming promotion in her field office. However,  her social skills leave a lot to be desired. She gets teamed up with mad cap, ballsy and brave,  Boston Police Detective Shannon Mullins. Together they form an unlikely duo as they take down a ruthless drug lord.

Review

I wasn’t expecting much from this movie,  if I’m honest. It looks vacant and messy and just… meh from the trailer. The kind of movie I wouldn’t go near with a barge pole.

I was wrong.

This movie is just brilliant. Funny,  touching and a little bit more violent than you’d expect. The script is clever and the characters have dimension. They’re are one or two “chick jokes” but they aren’t what you expect.

Sandra Bullock is just great as tightly wound FBI Sarah Ashburn. Her motivations and drives are explained and we get a little glimpse to the woman behind the gun.

Melissa McCarthy as sloppy and heartfelt Shannon is a wickedly funny woman who just wears get heart on her sleeve. Her life is her work

Of course,  this is a buddy cop movie. Expect the tag teaming and crying into drinks. But it’s so well done. You don’t feel the tropes and clichés. You just let these two take you along on the mad ride.

Excellent movie. I think possibly one of the best buddy cop movies I’ve seen.

TL; DR – ALBINO!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45 other followers