IT

GUEST REVIEW by Blake

  • Release date: September 8, 2017 (USA)
  • Director: Andrés Muschietti
  • Budget: 35 million USA
  • Producers: Seth Grahame-Smith, Barbara Muschietti, Dan Lin, Roy Lee, David Katzenberg
  • Screenplay: Cary Fukunaga, Chase Palmer, Gary Dauberman

Let me first start off this review by saying…I am not BooksBeJeweled. I know, talk about a plot twist right? But, have no fear, Jewels isn’t going anywhere! Jewels was just kind enough to let me have a guest review here on her blog.

So for now here is a Movie review on the movie “It” from  Blake, otherwise known as a younger, smaller, better looking version of Jewels because I am lucky enough to call Jewels my mother. Okay, now seriously, on with the show…Unknown-2

So I am no book worm, but I AM a movie worm (?) Being the lovely daughter that I am, I bought tickets for my parents and I to attend a viewing of the movie “It.” I only bought them because I forced them to go, after all these kinds of movies are only good in the theaters right?

At least that’s what we thought until we realized if we waited to see the movie in the comfort of our own home, we wouldn’t be forced to put up with the obnoxious 30-year old men giggling like Pennywise the entire film or burping like they were 12 year old boys having a belching contest. Okay sorry, I know this isn’t supposed to be a review on the theater experience, but c’mon seriously??

Now, this review isn’t going to be comparing the 2017 version to the OG movie or the book, because well, I haven’t read the book or seen the OG movie. YOU’RE GETTING FRESH EYES PEOPLE.  The movie had barely begun before I quickly decided I enjoy any movie that revolves around a group of little boys, riding around on bikes and cussing. I mean honestly, does it get any better than that? The boys were easily the scene stealers of this movie.

The boys’ acting was totally believable, at times I even wondered if some of the dialogue was improvised. The little girl in the movie was a total badass, but also could easily pull at the audience’s heartstrings. I’m not going to lie I could have just watched a whole coming of age movie about the little kids, but I guess that would just be “Stand By Me.”

Now for what we are all here for right? Bill Skarsgard AKA Pennywise. The voice Skarsgard chose to use as Pennywise was perfect. Enticing, yet also something that would be in your nightmares. There were a lot of good, classic jump scares from his character, and amazing special effects. I kind of love that this movie had a lot of over the top scenes, some might say were too cheesy, but they took me back to some classic horror films like “Nightmare on Elm Street” and Stephen King’s “Carrie.”

While the jumpiness and clown were scary; overall, it was just a fun movie to watch. If you go into this movie wanting to laugh and wanting to scream you will. Just have an open mind and I’m sure you will be surprised by how much you love it. I enjoyed every second, until the men behind us started talking so loud I completely missed the last scene. I regret to inform you I completely missed the last scene. For all I know it could have been terrible, but I somehow seriously doubt that. I guess you’ll just have to go see it and let me know..get it? Go see “It?”

Ok, this is Blake signing off! Back to regularly scheduled programming!

XOXOimg_2971

5 Perfect Podcasts to Binge this Weekend

  • Up and Vanished
  • S-Town 
  • Sincerely, X
  • My Favorite Murder
  • Sworn
  • Bonus Podcast:  What Should I Read Next?

Sometimes my eyes need a break from reading! But, chores and driving are absolutely too boring without a juicy book or podcast in my ears. These are my favorites!

UP AND VANISHED just finished its first season and oh my gosh! If you are even mildly interested in true crime/mystery and you aren’t familiar with this one, you’re in for a treat! Payne Lindsay, an everyday guy from Georgia, decides to launch an investigation into the disappearance of beauty queen and high school teacher, Tara Grinstead. Tara has been missing over 11 years and the case is freezing cold by the time Payne begins to look into the story in his Grandma’s hometown. TALK ABOUT PLOT TWISTS! Payne is a very RELIABLE narrator and the events unfold almost real time.  Not a spoiler (HUGE NATIONAL NEWS ATTENTION was given) to say Payne and his novice crew end up solving the case with the killer(s) arrested and awaiting trial at this moment. Start at the very beginning with Episode 1 to literally watch (listen to) the growing pains Payne experiences going from small time film maker to national crime solving hero. Fascinating.

S-TOWN The second season of the original SERIAL podcast, this season is completely different. Please tell me you already listened to Serial, the grandaddy of all podcasts? If not, that’s your first assignment. S- Town, I believe, started out to be on a similarly arced season with a murder to solve in S-town, Alabama. But (major plot twist) this story ends up being something completely different! I can’t give away anymore than that, it is a journey that you will not believe, won’t stop thinking about, and can’t stop talking about. I listened to it months ago and I still am blown away by the philosophical implications it raises about our country. Bookish hint: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.

SINCERELY, X is a new podcast done by TED and Audible. It has quickly become my favorite in only four short (30-ish) minute episodes. The series features talks from speakers whose identities are hidden. Holy smokes, these stories will cut straight through to your heart and brain–so compelling! In Episode 2, entitled Pepper Spray, a woman describes what happened when she snapped one day in a retail store.  If you have ever dealt with anxiety issues, you will feel every ounce of her experience. Each stand-alone episode is presented by a victim or a perpetrator or an entrepreneur or an activist or an empath, or….

MY FAVORITE MURDER the app blurb reads: “Lifelong fans of true crime stories Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark tell each other their favorite tales of murder and hear hometown crime stories from friends and fans.” SO. DRY.  Actually, these two women are both hilarious working Hollywood types (google them). They’re not for everyone, they’re racy, candid and love to curse. They don’t make the murders funny, (no victim shaming ever) but they don’t hesitate to go the extra mile and comment on every aspect of the case they are featuring. I love Karen and Georgia!

SWORN is a spin-off from the UP AND VANISHED series. Listen to Up and Vanished first. Then when you are trying to shake off the withdrawals, turn on SWORN. By this time you’ll love Philip Holloway like he’s your own personal defense attorney and you’ll feel right at home on SWORN. As of right now, there are only three short episodes about The Lake Oconee Murders from Florida. It is going to be another captivating podcast.

WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT? If you read or blog or blog about reading, you probably know of Anne Bogel. She’s the charming person behind the very popular Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. Each week, Anne interviews a reader and finds out their tastes in books. Then, she makes recommendations about what to read next. I have learned about so many different wonderful books from this show, it’s a no-miss podcast for me. Plus, Anne Bogel has a beautiful voice to die-for!

What podcasts do you love? What am I missing out on? Let me know!

 

 

 

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

5/5 stars

  • Member of the Twister Hall of Fame
  • Author: Paula Hawkins
  • Published January 13th 2015 by Riverhead Books

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

The Girl on the Train: A Novel Amazon Great Kindle Deal!

This story is actually told from three women’s points of view. For all intents and purposes, you will only remember Rachel. She’s the main character and her drunken memories help to create, dare I say it?  The all-time MOST UNRELIABLE  NARRATOR in literary history.  That’s why I love this book so much!  Well, one of the reasons. Actually, every character in this book is unreliable. Who can you trust? NO ONE. Put the clues together and solve this mystery yourself.

The new label being thrown around these days is “domestic noir” and I believe describes this sub-genre much better than “psychological thriller”or “chick” noir (ick).  This is the tribe of books I have embraced. And millions others. We may be in danger of overdosing on domestic noir now.

The novelist, Julia Crouch, described the subgenre in her blog in 2013. “In a nutshell, Domestic Noir takes place primarily in homes and workplaces, concerns itself largely (but not exclusively) with the female experience, is based around relationships and takes as its base a broadly feminist view that the domestic sphere is a challenging and sometimes dangerous prospect for its inhabitants.”

Paula Hawkins set the domestic noir scene on fire with this book. We had all been waiting (2 years!) for someone to replace Gillian Flynn on the bestseller list and she did it. Girl on the the Train is a much more delicious variation on the textbook standard that Gone Girl had established. I think it is an easier, faster read than Gone Girl and not as cynically, bitterly dark and depressing as Gone Girl.

The highly anticipated movie version of The Girl on the Train left me deflated. I thought The_Girl_on_The_Trainit was shot in such a slick manner, way too glossy while the book was unabashedly gritty. I couldn’t get past that! Oh, Hollywood. What are ya gonna do about it?  I love Emily Blunt as Rachel. But, the movie is a miss. Read the book.

BTW: the Audible version is outstanding.

LIFE OF PI

5/5 Stars

  • Member of the TWISTER HALL OF FAME
  • Author: Yann Martel
  • Published August 29th 2006 by Seal Books (first published 2001)

Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Yes, I’m aware that this isn’t a suspense/thriller type story in the least.  There are some pretty gruesome descriptions of animals devouring each other, but that doesn’t really count. Does it?

I have to include this gorgeous modern day fable in my Hall of Fame simply because the entire story is a twist. Is Pi telling the truth? Did he really spend 227 days with a Bengal tiger on a raft in the ocean? The beauty lies in what the reader wants to believe.  No matter how you react to the ending, you will find evidence in the book to back up your belief.

Life of Pi is now studied in most high school English classes for good reason. Yann Martel combines literary devices masterfully,  you could read this book one hundred times and never catch all the allusions, metaphors, and symbols. It is a rich and charismatic text that poses questions on religion, survival, nature, morality and truth.

This is a book that has stayed with me for years.  If you haven’t read this book, WHY NOT??? Also, you could watch the movie! (The book vs. movie snob in me approves highly of the movie).

Amazon paperback Life of Pi

Amazon Kindle Life of Pi

Amazon dvd Life of Pi

ENJOY.

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP

5/5 stars

As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child, thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me…

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love–all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

I must have read this gripping book at least 3 times. A true psychological drama with twists, turns and such a sense of urgency that you will not be able to stop reading. You will want to scream at the main character, Christine, GET OUT of that house! DON’T TRUST Ben! The beauty of this suspense is that the answers are so close, but the reader doesn’t see them because Christine cannot see them. She is suffering from a kind of short term amnesia and must keep a diary every day just to remember who she is and what day it is. And so much more. .. It is a brilliant story and I cannot recommend it enough.

BTW: The image ABOVE is from the movie. Although Nicole Kidman stars, it was really disappointing. It comes off as clunky, not nearly as slick and suspenseful at the book reads. Once again, the book wins! Sigh.

Amazon US  Paperback

Amazon US Kindle Before I Go To Sleep: A Novel

Amazon US Audio Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel

DARK WATER film review

5/5 stars (for the BACKSTORY)

3/5 stars (if watched at face value)

 

Dark Water is a 2005 American horror film directed by Walter Salles, starring Jennifer
Connelly and Tim Roth. The film is a remake of the 2002 Japanese film of the same name which is in turn based on the short story “Floating Water” by Koji Suzuki, who also wrote the Ring Trilogy. The film also stars John C. Reilly. 

The film was released on July 8, 2005, to mixed reviews and grossed almost $50 million worldwide.

My 20-year old daughter and I started watching this random movie on Cinemax the other night. We neither one had even heard of it before, but I’ve since discovered this movie is anything but random or unheard of.  More on that in a bit.

The movie is set on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan and all of the action takes place in a dilapidated apartment building. This is the story of a newly divorced woman (Dahlia) and her kindergarten-aged daughter (Cecilia) moving out on their own, away from the cheating ex-husband. The neighborhood is rundown, the apartment buildings are stacked on top of each other and everything is gray and depressing. Very post-apocalyptic. This is what $900/month could get you in 2005 NYC.

Dahlia keeps having a problem with water leaking from an above empty apartment into hers and she has all kinds of issues getting it repaired. The super is a strange angry man and there are loud noises coming from the supposedly vacant apartment. All manner of weirdness ensues. Meanwhile, Cecilia suddenly has a new imaginary friend that keeps getting her into trouble at school. The plot is very much centered on this dark icky water that is spilling through their ceiling.

This isn’t a horror film, it is more of a family drama with a supernatural element thrown in. There is a surprise ending (plot twist!) and it’s a decent little movie. It’s no Sixth Sense, but it’s certainly not bad either.

We immediately noticed something strange about this story and setting.  Here’s the thing, this movie is infamous for another reason. The setting includes an old looking water tower on the roof of the apartment building. My daughter and I looked at each other and said immediately “THIS LOOKS LIKE THE CECIL HOTEL!” That’s the only building we’ve ever seen with a water tower on top of it.  If you’re into unsolved mysteries, you probably have seen the strange footage of the young Canadian woman, Elisa Lam. The footage shows her acting really bizarre in the hotel elevator at 2 AM before she disappeared. Her body was later found in that water tower on top of the Los Angeles Cecil Hotel. A quick search of YouTube will give you hundreds of theories and conspiracies about the events that led to her death.

There are few logical explanations of why she died, but her weird behavior, the haunted history of the Cecil Hotel, and the fact that police were not forthcoming with what they found all combined to make a perfect storm of controversy in this young woman’s death.

I know I’m rambling, I get overly invested in unsolved true crime cases. Is this a crime or a suicide? We still don’t know for sure, the coroner did rule that she died of drowning, but no word on why or how. My daughter and I even visited the L.A. hotel last summer in hopes of….I don’t know. Getting a feeling? However,  I had never heard of this movie and all the similarities to the case.

Back to the movie, Dark Water. We immediately started googling about it as the closing credits began, since we couldn’t figure out why this story was familiar.  I suggest you give yourself about 3 hours if you start digging too,  it is one deep rabbit hole. If you are just now looking into this story, you would assume that the movie was loosely based on the Elisa Lam case. Here’s the thing:  Dark Water was filmed years BEFORE the actual incident at the Cecil Hotel. WHAT???  Some similarities that we noticed:Unknown-1.jpeg

  • of course the name, Cecil, with the movie character, Cecilia
  • The Black Dahlia was known to frequent the Cecil hotel and is also the name of the mother in the movie
  • Cecilia’s red jacket looks like Elisa Lam’s red hoodie in the elevator footage
  • In both the film and the Elisa Lam case, guests complained of foul tasting, dark water coming from their taps. Disgustingly, this was due to the decomposing body in the water tank.

There are countless other creepy connections, but these are the the highlights that we picked up on with no idea that Dark Water had already been matched up by thousands of other interested people. Amazon has a great deal on the DVD!  click here >   Dark Water