Monthly Movies – September 2015

About Time (06 09 2015) – Absolutely wonderful. I wish films like this were more popular. I loved everything about this movie. I think it’s one of the most romantic films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s probably one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. I found it incredibly touching, moving, and simply perfect. Even with the plot holes! I’m a sentimental and introspective person so this movie was right up my alley. Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy are good in everything, but this is definitely some of their best roles for me. Now I have to add Gleeson to my ever growing list of actors whom I adore. Definitely a movie for rewatching in the future.

Man of Steel (06 09 2015) – I can see why this movie didn’t do well. It’s a bit grim and much too serious. However, I really like Henry Cavil as Superman and I think Amy Adams is good Lois Lane. I was satisfied.

The Parent Trap (14-15 09 2015) – Lindsay Lohan really did have a great screen presence. Not sure why I missed this movie since Lohan and I are the same age, but I grew up watching the original version. Even then the idea of those parents divorcing and splitting the girls up annoyed me. In any case, a fun family movie though I got a bit bored toward the end with the shenanigans.

Pollyanna (15 09 2015) – Hayley Mills was on my mind, and I’ve never actually read the book or seen the movie. It was a bit slow in parts, but I enjoyed it. I like how Mills looked like such a real child. She was pretty, but she’d scrunch her face up like a kid. You don’t really see that kind of look in child actors anymore. Jane Wyman was beautiful. I liked the storyline of her being this repressed matriarch.

Wet Hot American Summer (21 09 2015) – Watched because I wanted to see the show, but this movie was a bit meh. It’s silly and at times amusing, but a lot of it wasn’t that funny for me.

Eyes Wide Shut (21-22 09 2015) – I started this years ago and decided to finally finish it. Boring. Well directed, but very slow paced. I would have preferred to see more of Nicole Kidman, but instead watching Tom Cruise being mauled by various women like he’s a sex god. I understood some of the themes, and I think it would have been alright if the pacing was better.

To Die For (22 09 2015) – Nicole Kidman is good in this. What an underrated role for her. Joaquin Phoenix is pretty too.

Monthly TV – August and September 2015

Select TV shows, more specifically marathon TV shows, that I watched in August and September. I am going to try to limit myself to one to two (if I have holidays) TV series a month from now on unless I am sick or on holiday.

Episodes (August 2015) – As someone who isn’t a completeionist and find it difficult just to make time for all my consumption and hobbies, I dropped this after watching two seasons. Yes, it had funny moments and I did enjoy the acting. However, I grew a bit wary of the industry jokes and watching Leblanc’s character make an arse of himself. I’ve heard the later seasons get even better so maybe I will revisit. In the mean time, I do think it’s an enjoyable and underrated comedy.

Breaking Bad (August – 20 September 2015) – This show grew on me. I know a lot of people loved it, but I was not particularly engaged with it the first couple of seasons. In fact, I felt like I was watching more because of its place in pop and TV culture rather than because I liked it. It isn’t to say that I disliked it in the beginning, but I didn’t love any of the characters. I think I started to like the show with S3 and S4. The latter is my favourite season because I liked the Gus and Mike characters. At this time, I had grown to appreciate the Jesse Pinkman character and Aaron Paul’s acting. I really liked the characterization and acting in the series. Even the sparse, southwest landscape and direction grew on me. I even managed to feel pity for Walt in the last two episodes! From the beginning, I found him weak and immoral. I never rooted for him until the last episode. I didn’t enjoy the villains or the bleakness of S5, but I did really like the ending. I do not necessarily think it’s the best show ever or even for everybody, but I am glad that I watched it.

Ongoing Shows this month:

  • Great British Bake Off
  • Great British Menu
  • Switched at Birth – I’m back at it, though I still think the show still has many issues
  • The Flash – A couple of reruns so that I am caught up for S02. New show for me.
  • The Muppets – It’s not perfect, but I’m enjoying it a little bit. It’s got major nostalgic factors for me.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

When reading this book, I saw the weaknesses with some of Rowling’s writing. Notably her overuse of certain words (in this case, I counted “salubrious” twice early on) and plot holes. I think her editor could have caught a couple of things. Though I do wonder because with big name authors, editors seem to be less open to suggesting things. In any case, these are minor quibbles.

The mystery was fine. I had an idea who the killer was early on, but Rowling kept throwing lots of red herrings on the way to throw me off. I am noticing that fame and envy are big themes in this series. Cormoran’s own life has themes of these with his family history and his relationship history.

I would like Cormoran more as a character even he did not spend so much time thinking about Charlotte. I don’t like the idea of Charlotte or any character whose primary physical appearance is “beautiful” or so attractive that she made heads turn. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I’m irked by Charlotte’s behavior. Thankfully she does not show up in this book at all and Cormoran shows more character development by getting over her.

I do like the supporting cast a lot and not just Robin. I like Cormoran’s childhood friends and his brother Al. I like Cormoran more when they are around them too. I can only take so much of the anti-hero stuff.

Looking forward to the next book.

Read September 27-29, 2015.

Monthly Movies – August 2015

Selected films that I remember watching in August.


The Wind Rises (August 2015) – I cried. I love Hayao Miyzaki. Beautiful.

John Wick (August 2015) – I saw this in August. Loved it. Can’t wait for the sequel.

The World’s End (August 2015)- Hot Fuzz was better.

Only Lovers Left Alive (August 2015) – Tilda Swintonw + Tom Hiddleston = Love.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (August 2015)- Gorgeous. Ralph Fiennes in one of his most lovely roles. Lovely Saorise. Wes Anderson at his best. This may even eclipse my love for Rushmore and equal to Fantastic Mr Fox.

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

This novel was okay. I did not hate it, but I did not think it was a credit to Agatha Chistie or a particularly great mystery.

Poirot is not quite Poirot. The character felt a bit forced, but I could overlook that. I had more issues with Detective Catchpool who is insecure, inept and I suspect, deeply repressed in some way. I found the character a very poor narrator and simply annoying. He never spoke up. He never wanted to trust in Poirot even though Poirot is well respected and well known. He seemed surprised Poirot was right. I do not how the author could make such a bad detective character. Christie’s novels have good police detectives who are great friends with Poirot and don’t display Catchpool’s incessant anxiety about his work and value. The ending suggested that the author would like to write more about the bumbling Catchpool which I will not partake in reading.

The mystery was alright until it became ridiculously convoluted. At the ending and resolution, I was trying to figure out why there so many random puzzle pieces. It made me miss Christie’s cleaner denouements and closing acts wherein all the facts were laid bare, but without all the extraneous details. Clever, but not cumbersome or padded.

The lesson here is that I need to read much more of Christie before I consider reading another of these adapted works.

Read September 17-18, 2015

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

This was a lovely novel. I finally found a Tóibín work I adore.

Set in the 1950s, the novel follows an Irish girl as she emigrates to Brooklyn, away from her family and friends. The prose is simple. The characters lightly drawn, but not overly simplistic. The period details were evocative. The themes were classic.

I related to a lot of this novel. Like the protagonist Eilis, I made a journey across an ocean to a place I’d never been, without family or friends, and it took me awhile to adjust. I experienced homesickness in a different way because I do not have siblings, and I chose to move away in away that Eilis did not. Still, living in a new place among st strangers and a different culture will always affect you.

Also like the protagonist, I fell in love for the first time when I went away and the moments Eilis shared with Tony reminded me of those times. It really brought me back. Eilis’s mother also reminded me of my own parents which was unnerving. I find the story very realistic to anyone who has been an immigrant before.

I read this novel in anticipation of the upcoming movie starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, and Domhnall Gleeson with an adapted screenplay by Nick Hornby. I knew the general story based on the trailer and this is a love triangle though it’s obvious what Eilis will do however tempting it is. I’m excited for the movie not only because I enjoyed the book. I adore Ronan and think she’s my curent favourite ingenue actress. She’s talented and beautiful. I have a crush on Gleeson, but I know his part will be small. My penchant for Hornby’s work has been documented on this blog before. I think he’s the right author to adapt this work.

All in all, a satisfied book experience in anticipation with what will probably be a satisfied film one.

Read September 6-7, 2015.

FO Friday: Katsura

These socks took me eight months to finish and then I delayed photographing them for another three months. All in all, it took me about a year to get this post up. I am not knitting as much as I use to be. When I started these socks, I hoped it would get me back into it. In the past, I could finish a pair of socks in two weeks even while working full-time. I blame myself for picking this pattern. The twisted stitches made these socks very slow. It’s too bad as these were my first pair of socks from this book.

Katsura, started September 2, 2014, finished June 2, 2014.Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Katsuara by Judy Sumner from Knitted Socks East and West Ravelry Pattern Page
Yarn: Froehlich Wolle Special Blauband – 50g/225 yards – 2 skeins – #74
Needles: US#1/2.25mm – 100cm circular

Modifications & Notes:

  • Judy’s Magic CO 2AAT on ML using La-Rink and La-Link for toe increases.
  • Fleegle Heel
  • Yarn came with reinforcing thread so I used it for toes but forgot the heels
  • K2P1 ribbing
  • Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy BO

Cost of Project: Yarn was Random Act of Kindness gifted from Ravelry. Thank you. Cost of book was around $10-15CAD probably.
Would I knit it again? No.

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

I like Bill Bryson’s writing. I like history. I didn’t really like this book.

Certain sections and certain figures were interesting, but the design of the book was disjointed. It moved from one thing to another. I actually like when Bryson writes like this and it works in his memoirs and his previous nonfiction works, but the restrictive timeline of this book limited the topics.

I was really bored during certain sections and found it slow going. I only finished it because after a boring section, it would become mildly interesting again. After the half way point, I decided to just finish it. It was well researched. However, I really have to consider each new Bryson books more thoroughly from now on.

Read August 15-September 6, 2015.

The Royal We by Heather Cooks and Jessica Morgan

One reviewer on GoodReads called this Kate Middleton fanfiction.

It really is and I don’t even like Kate Middleton. I picked this up from the library Express/popular reads. I have not done that in a long time. I’ve been very behind on my reading this year and have too many books already. I picked up this book for two reasons. First, it was chicklit and I haven’t read that in a long time. I thought it would help me back on the reading horse. Secondly, the authors are the Fug Girls. That cinched it.

I have a lot of fanfiction in the past, but this kind of author self-insertion fanfiction is not something I’ve been keen on. While all the names have been changed, it was still very easy to picture all the real life characters. I think there were a good amount of characters and dialogue for this kind of novel. Prince Nick was a tad too generic romantic hero at times. Then again, that was in line with who he was based on.

This novel was addictive at times. It had enough drama, character moments, and plot twists to keep me reading. I liked the moments between Bex the protagonist and her sister. I found the whole love triangle bit realistic in a complicated way. The ending was a bit rushed though. As a former London dweller, I adored the references to various streets and buildings. However, it also didn’t feel like the authors had actually lived there. Still not a bad research for a chick lit novel.

All in all, a nice quick read. I enjoyed it. For the record, I am a Freddie girl. :)

Read September 3-5, 2015.

Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

I first heard about this book when Lewis was interviewed on “The Daily Show.” I was intrigued right away because the story centers around a Canadian trader and banker. This book was a bestseller in Canada as well. The concept of the book interested me, and even more so when I heard that it might have been optioned for a movie. In the Sony email leaks scandal, it was revealed that Aaron Sorkin dismissed the idea of writing the script even though he’d been already paid for it. One of the reasons was that there weren’t many leading Asian actors. I was not a huge fan of Sorkin’s work before, but knowing that about him really irked me.

I think this book would make a nice movie. Better than The Social Network or the upcoming Jobs movie any way. I feel this is a serious topic of exploring the American and global financial markets. Furthermore, Lewis has written about a literal cast of characters.

Over the last few years, I have read more non-fiction than ever. I have been exposed to many journalist-authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Pollan, and now Lewis. Most of these non-fiction writers capture audience by bringing in standard fictional narratives emphasizing real people. I feel Lewis is one of the best I’ve read in awhile in terms of using that technique. He also explains things using “You.”

As I get older, I have been reading more non-fiction and I’ve began to deconstructing the style and prose. I found a lot of this story had an element of Joseph Campbell’s Hero Journey with Brad and his colleagues being the heroes. Another technique is the very faint personality of Lewis that comes through. Just a tiny little bit (more than Gladwell, but less than Pollan).

All that is to say, I really enjoyed this book. It really was like reading a novel. I will preface it to say that I have taken Economics courses and even went to a school with a strong Econ background (though I never Majored in it). I was never great at Econ or Finance, but I probably have more than the average layman’s understanding and interest in the global markets. Some of the technical stuff would not be interesting to most readers; however, I think the background and personality of the people involved can draw people in. I became interested in these people who became like characters in a novel.

I would not necessarily reread this work, but I enjoyed myself and learned a number of things about High Frequency Trading so it delivered on that. I guess the movie will never be made. Oh well. For more on this adaptation that won’t happen, this blog post on Fiction Diversity covers my feelings.

Read July 19-23, 2015.

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

In all the Kingsolver books, the setting and natural landscape become a secondary or even central character. The protagonists also have an interesting relationship with their environment through various interactions. It can be with a political or environment aspect, but it is often a very spiritual and transformative journey for the protagonist.

The beginning of this novel was a bit difficult to read. Cosima aka Codi, the protagonist, was depressed and lethargic in the beginning. She has issues as we learn, but then she became more real as I read about her and in a couple of moments, relatable. Slowly, as I do with Kingsolver characters and novels, I began to be moved and touched by moments in the book. I enjoyed the romance as well; as usual, it was not the central aspect of the book, but a great touch.

It was a lovely little novel. I enjoyed this excerpt:

Codi here’s what I’ve decided: the very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope… What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed.

All I ask is for a book to make me feel and think. I consistently do with Kingsolver’s works. I’ve read most of them now and will continue to do so.

Read July 12, 2015.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Even though I am a perpetually single person, I find reading books about relationships and romance interesting from a sociological and psychological point of view.

This is one of the most well known of relationship self-help books and I knew most of the concept of it by reading the author’s website awhile back. This book was very easy to read which is probably one of the reasons it was so popular. The book also has a very Christian
bent which is something that I did not need. I think the themes in the book are rather universal for couples.

I noticed some of the advise in the book came natural to me. For example, the idea that people should write their feelings at various times and places in their day as a way to help them express their feelings. As an uberintrospective person, I do this naturally, but it’s a good technique for those who are not analytical or whom assess their relationship often.

A couple of lines from the book that I felted echoed with my own experience of relationships (romantic or otherwise: “Being sincere is not enough.” and “Love is a choice and cannot be coerced.” I think both are things that fairy tale movies do not necessarily tell you.

Reading the book confirmed my “love language”. My rankings:

  1. Quality Time
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Words of Affirmation
  4. Physical Touch
  5. Receiving Gifts

At first, I felt like Words would above Acts, but if I look at my own childhood, Acts is more important for me. I grew up in a culture where my parents did not verbally tell me they loved me nor would they compliment me. As I grew older, I knew and appreciated that they loved me through their acts of service.

Overall, I think this book reaffirms what most relationship and psychology experts think is the best way of maintaining a long term relationship: kindness and generosity. The Atlantic had an article about this specifically last year. I feel like reading that article more or less was the same as reading this book.

Read July 11, 2015.