Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Hello, hello!
I loved Knives Out, so much in fact that I went to see it at the cinema twice. I was both excited for Benoit Blanc to make a return as well as slightly concerned that I just would not live up to my expectations. So, let’s take a closer look!

The Plot (as found on Rotten Tomatoes):

Benoit Blanc returns to peel back the layers in a new Rian Johnson whodunit. This fresh adventure finds the intrepid detective at a lavish private estate on a Greek island, but how and why he comes to be there is only the first of many puzzles. Blanc soon meets a distinctly disparate group of friends gathering at the invitation of billionaire Miles Bron for their yearly reunion. Among those on the guest list are Miles’ former business partner Andi Brand, current Connecticut governor Claire Debella, cutting-edge scientist Lionel Toussaint, fashion designer and former model Birdie Jay and her conscientious assistant Peg, and influencer Duke Cody and his sidekick girlfriend Whiskey. As in all the best murder mysteries, each character harbors their own secrets, lies and motivations. When someone turns up dead, everyone is a suspect.

The Rating:

Damn this was a fun movie! Was it as good as Knives Out? No, not quite. But I still had such a good time watching it.

Obviously, this movie tremendously benefits from the amazing, star-studded cast. Almost every single role features a big name in this industry. Well, but even the best actors and actresses would have a hard time carrying this movie if the plot wasn’t it.

The story was filled with many interesting twists and turns, a good many that you definitely did not see coming. Not only is the plot written really cleverly, I also enjoyed that the movie is poking fun at the characters in it. What I will say, however, is that there are a lot of elements to the story that are very much of our time right now. For example, the film starts off during COVID, they reference testing, masks, and isolating, etc. While it is cool to see current events incorporated into a movie – especially one that most likely struggled during production because of COVID – I wonder how these aspects of the film will be received in the future. I was thinking the same thing when they discussed how one of the characters is a streamer on Twitch. Knives Out felt more universal and timeless whereas Glass Onion has elements that people probably won’t get in 20 years’ time. The movie is very much *now* and that is fun. As I mentioned it pokes fun at the characters and the characters are pretty much all reflections of people we have at the moment: the “self-made” pretentious annoying millionaire, the idiot celebrity influencer, the streamer dude with weird ass statements regarding women, etc. I’m pretty sure you all can think of at least one real person when you read those descriptions. So, right now this is fun, but in the future people might not get it – or at least not to the degree we do now. I mean, that totally makes sense, who knows if, for example, Twitch will even still exist then. So, obviously, nobody would know what they are talking about in this movie. But I guess only time will tell how this film will age. This is not really a criticism as I enjoyed the movie as it is, but rather something I’m curious about.

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Hey guys!
Blonde certainly was among the most talked about films in 2022. After seeing the trailer I already had my doubts that this would be good, but naturally, I couldn’t resist and just had to check it out!

The Plot (according to Rotten Tomatoes):

Based on the bestselling novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde boldly reimagines the life of one of Hollywood’s most enduring icons, Marilyn Monroe. From her volatile childhood as Norma Jeane, through her rise to stardom and romantic entanglements, Blonde blurs the lines of fact and fiction to explore the widening split between her public and private selves.

The Rating:

What on earth was this movie?
Bad. That’s what it was. I rarely say this but honestly, don’t waste your time. There’s pretty much nothing good I have to say about Blonde.

Let’s start with Ana de Armas. She’s a wonderful actress and she really nailed the Marilyn look but her accent just was not it. I don’t care how long she might have spent working on it but you can simply tell that she’s not getting it right. In fact, it’s not even that she’s a little off. There are many instances in the movie where you can clearly hear Ana de Armas’ Cuban accent and I think we can all agree that that’s not what Marilyn sounded like. That already annoyed me to no end but it’s only a small part of what ruined this film for me.

While I might have been able to tolerate the accent to some degree, what I can’t overlook is the more than terrible writing. This movie is nothing but misery porn. It paints Marilyn Monroe as nothing but a series of tragedies, there’s pretty much no moment of happiness in the film. While I could accept it if they were trying to make an accurate depiction of her life and it really was this tragic, so many parts of it feel weird and oddly exaggerated if not fabricated. Maybe they are being faithful to what actually transpired, I have no way of knowing that. But if that is the case they sure did a shit job.

Throughout the film you get the clear impression that Marilyn struggled with never being perceived as who she is and then this movie sweeps in and instead of giving her more agency, somehow we only ever keep witnessing her through others or in relation to them. Even in a film titled Blonde, a film about Marilyn herself, she feels more like a plot device and object to connect other people the movie wants to feature than a real person, the one we should be focusing on here. It becomes quite evident when it comes to how she struggled with being perceived as a sex symbol. I’m sure this is an integral part of telling her story. Then somebody please tell me why on earth we get close-up shots of her naked breasts approximately every ten minutes. Not once or twice throughout the movie, but constantly. For no reason whatsoever. Literally, there is no explanation I could come up with as to why she had to be naked in all those scenes. Was it to show that struggle? Her vulnerability? Again, if that was the case, this movie that a shit job of conveying that. It just feels voyeuristic and unnecessary and annoying. Especially as it’s a contrast to what Marilyn is talking about in several instances.

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 TMP Television Edition: 2022 Freshmen Series

Hey, guys!
Welcome to another entry for Thursday Movie Picks.
It’s a series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves, so if you want to join the party, head over to her blog! It’s pretty easy: check out each week’s topic and come up with 3 to 5 movies that fit the theme.
As is tradition, the last Thursday of each month is focused on TV shows instead of movies. Today we’re tackling some of 2022’s best new releases!

#1 Wednesday

I absolutely adore Wednesday Addams. She’s one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. From the moment Netflix announced this show I was keeping my fingers crossed they wouldn’t mess it up. As it turns out, Jenna Ortega is absolutely outstanding as Wednesday and I had the best of times with the show!

#2 The Sandman

This is another one that I had been looking forward to for a while. The Sandman is based on Neil Gaiman’s comics and while I haven’t read those (yet – I’m working on it), I’ve seen plenty of other adaptations of his work (e.g. Stardust, American Gods, Good Omens). I never cease to be amazed by the power of his imagination, so I just new this show would be cool as well.

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Top 5 Tuesday: series I will start in 2023

Hey, guys!
It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for a bookish favorites post. Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Meeghan over on Meeghan Reads and is quite simple: check out the topic and write a post with your picks.
Today we will talk about some pretty cool book series I want to get started on this year. Well, if you read my post about bookish new years resolutions, you’ll know that I said there I don’t want to start any new series that aren’t concluded yet. For some of the ones below, the final book hasn’t been released yet, but according to Goodreads, they are all supposed to drop this year. So, hopefully, by the time I make it to the final novels, they’ll be available.
Of course, I haven’t read any of the books/series below yet, so let’s take a look at the blurbs from Goodreads together, so we can figure out what’s going on!

#1 Book of Night

In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.

Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgängers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

#2 Fractured Fables

It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it’s the last birthday she’ll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia’s last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.

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Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody

Hello, hello!
A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I randomly decided to head to the cinema. Among the movies playing that day, we opted for the Whitney Houston biopic which – up until that day – had somehow completely escaped my attention. Let’s see if it gets the job done!

The Plot (as found on Rotten Tomatoes):

Discovered by record executive Clive Davis, Whitney Houston rises to fame in the 1980s to become one of the greatest singers of her generation.

The Rating:

I was quite interested in this movie because obviously, I know who Whitney Houston is but at the same time, I don’t. Just like probably everybody else I know (some) of her music, and I have a vague memory of the news report on her death. But that’s where my knowledge of who Whitney was or what she did pretty much ended. So, I was definitely ready to sit down, learn something about her life and maybe discover some more of her music!

We start off in a decent place, learning out Whitney’s roots – and already some surprises for me! Actually, a lot of the events depicted in the movie are great, are impactful but the main problem I had was that things felt a bit too disjointed. Somehow, they failed to connect the individual snapshots well. I fully understand that it’s difficult. This is not a random narrative somebody thought up, this is a real person who leads a life full of interesting moments. It’s a challenge to pick and choose what to show. I’m not saying that they chose wrong in terms of what to include, but the connection between the bits just wasn’t strong or clear enough at times. So, while many of the scenes by themselves were intense, overall the movie felt a bit bland. Maybe it’s because we stay very much on the surface level. Because there are so many things to tackle, everything gets brushed slightly but not really explored. For example, Whitney expresses her desire to be in movies. We get essentially one scene where she is shooting Bodyguard and that’s it. At some point, somebody mentions that Whitney was in three movies, and I was really surprised. I hadn’t been aware of that and it also is never shown or addressed in this film other than in an off-hand remark. Sure, probably there wasn’t time to depict all the stuff she starred in, but for example, showing more of the aftermath, the success, the criticism etc. of Bodyguard would have been interesting to see. If you bring it up at all, do something with it. That’s how most of the moments we get to see feel. You get an intense scene but then it’s like “and now what?”. Nothing really gets explored on a deeper level. So, while I learned a thing or two about Whitney Houston watching this, overall I still feel like I know almost nothing.

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