The Circle by Dave Eggers (Book Review)

The film adaptation of The Circle by Dave Eggers is out today in the US (there’s no current UK release date that I can find. Hmm…). It was directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) and stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly & Bill Paxton (R.I.P.). I’ll probably try to go to the film at some point, so will of course review that if I do. For now, here’s my review of the novel…

The Circle by Dave Eggers

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Fast, thrilling and compulsively addictive, The Circle is Dave Eggers’ bestselling novel about our obsession with the internet and where it may lead. When Mae Holland lands her dream job at the world’s most powerful internet company, she has no idea what awaits behind the doors of The Circle…

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books where I loved the concept & agreed with its stance that, basically, the Internet & big corporations (such as the one that Fincher’s The Social Network is about) are evil. Okay, yes – I’m a blogger and I admit that I love to tweet but I’d happily hop into a time machine to go back to the Eighties and live without this sort of technology as I think we were better off without it. The world is a dreadful place & we’re living in an Orwellian dystopia. But we actually brought this all on ourselves, which I think even Orwell didn’t fully foresee. Hell, even Orwell couldn’t predict something as absurd as the rise of the Kardashi-thingies & wannabes! πŸ˜‰ I blame them for society’s devolution (enabled by the Internet, of course). But back to this book…

I bring up Orwell as The Circle is indeed in a similar vein to 1984. But dystopian novels are more popular than ever and this is yet another of many that come nowhere near that masterpiece. I was pretty disappointed with The Circle overall. I absolutely love this genre and, as I said, I fully agree with this novel’s beliefs so I did expect to thoroughly enjoy it. In fact, I’ve read 14 books so far this year (that’s a lot for me!) and this is possibly my least favorite. Damn. I didn’t expect that.

I found The Circle a bit too long & meandering. It started out okay but, by halfway through, it was becoming a bit of a chore to read as its lead character (Mae Holland, played by Emma Watson in the film) was becoming more and more and MORE unlikable. I think her character is the main problem I had with the novel as I always struggle to enjoy a book when I hate its main character. This can only very occasionally be made up for if the story is exceptionally good but, unfortunately, this isn’t the case with The Circle. I know the book’s whole point is that The Circle (the evil corporation in the story) is almost cult-like and that its believers follow blindly while the reader can see what’s really going on but, ugh, you just want to slap the shit out of Mae and knock some damn sense into her! I suppose Emma Watson is a good choice for the role in the film, though, as she’s seriously starting to get on my tits lately. But I’m hoping that the film will write her character slightly differently and give her some sense.

Well, I plan to check out the movie anyway since I always like to see how novels get adapted. Maybe they can actually improve on the book (it does happen sometimes). I still really like the overall idea behind the novel & its very obvious message even though I don’t think the story and its unlikable lead character do well to convey that message & the seriousness with which we should be taking it. I think I was just hoping for something a little more insightful and less obvious. The Circle doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know and I’m not sure if it was trying to be satirical or not but, if it was, it gave the novel an odd tone that didn’t really work. I prefer my dystopian literature to either be proper satire or full-on bleak, depressing dreariness! The Circle can’t quite decide what it wants to be but I do appreciate its effort to bring further attention to a very important topic we should be taking far more seriously. I think, unfortunately, the satire maybe doesn’t work simply because this book isn’t as exaggerated as Eggers may have originally intended. This story doesn’t feel like a distant future – it feels like it has already happened.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Here’s a trailer for the movie (as is often the case lately, I think it gives too much away):

Beauty And The Beast (2017) Review

Beauty And The Beast (2017)

Directed by Bill Condon

Based on Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson

Music by Alan Menken

Plot Synopsis: The same as the 1991 animated Disney film. Just watch the animated version instead if you haven’t already.

My Opinion:

Mehhhh…. I can’t be bothered to write much of a review for this movie. It’s a cash grab – we all know that. I can’t really trash Disney, though. I grew up on Disney films & I’ll always love Disney, even when they sell out. It doesn’t matter – the majority of film studios, actors & actresses, directors, etc etc, all sell out at some point. As long as Disney keep making some original & quality films alongside these pointless remakes & sequels, I can forgive some selling-out. But I’m sorry to say that this remake of Beauty And The Beast is indeed completely pointless.

I actually didn’t mind the live-action Cinderella (which I reviewed HERE). The kid watched that again recently & I still don’t mind it. At least it’s not a straight copy. I also enjoyed Maleficent quite a bit more than this as it felt somewhat original. With Beauty And The Beast copying everything, right down to giving us inferior versions of the fantastic songs from the original, I just don’t see the point. Okay – there were a few extra things added in storywise (and, I can’t remember now – one or maybe two new boring songs) that didn’t really enhance what was already a good & simple fairy tale.

Emma Watson: Wrong for the part. I’ve thought that since it was first announced that she would be Belle. She doesn’t do a horrible job but Hermoine as Belle was always going to be very distracting. Dan Stevens: Nope! Didn’t work. Plus he’s not hot enough (cartoon beast-turned-human was a babe). Kevin Kline: He was okay. Luke Evans: Actually, I guess he was pretty perfect as Gaston. Josh Gad: Not too bad – he was kind of fun but all I can hear is Olaf. Ewan McGregor: He did okay copying the original version of the character but the French accent was just confusing. Well, all the accents in this were confusing (but I suppose the same can be said of the original). Emma Thompson: Perfect casting but YOU CAN NEVER TOP ANGELA LANSBURY, dammit!!!! Chip was still cute, though. Just not as cute as animated Chip. But nothing in this topped the original in any way, so….

Whatever. It’s not a horrible movie. The CGI is decent. No, wait – I suppose the CGI actually quite good but we’re all spoiled these days & expect perfection. If you love the animated film, odds are that you’ll want to watch this at some point but I wouldn’t say you have to rush out to see it. If you haven’t seen the animated film for some reason, please just watch that first. Or instead. I’ll give this an extra half point since my kid seemed to enjoy it. I guess that’s all the really counts, right? πŸ˜‰

My Rating: 6/10

The Bling Ring (2013) Review

Welcome to Coppola Week at Cinema Parrot Disco! I just so happened to watch several movies directed by both Francis Ford & Sofia Coppola in the past several months so I figured “What the hell – I might as well review them all in the same week and pretend I’m organized & shit and that I actually planned it that way!”. So, I set it for the week of Mr Coppola’s birthday (this coming Thursday).

Here we go! I’ll be reviewing two from each of them this week. Oh, and don’t go expecting big stuff like The Godfathers… I saw those years ago. These are all Coppola movies that I only saw for the very first time recently. Let’s start with a fairly recent one directed by Sofia:

The Bling Ring (2013)

Directed & Written by Sofia Coppola

Based on The Suspects Wore Louboutins by Nancy Jo Sales

Starring: Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Emma Watson, Leslie Mann

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes.

My Opinion:

This had a lot of potential as the true story is rather fascinating. This could’ve been a deep & meaningful piece exploring the worrying way in which so many teenagers today are extremely shallow & are overly obsessed with celebrities and with possessions. But it’s not! The film feels as shallow as its asshole teenagers and the asshole celebrities they stole enough designer handbags from to feed a small country. (With, like, the proceeds had they sold the handbags. I’m bad with words… You know what I mean!)

To be fair, I don’t think it’s really Sofia Coppola’s fault. I can see why she’d want to make a movie about this story but I think it’s quite hard to make a movie where every character is so completely hateful (I need to see The Hateful Eight to see if this statement is still true!). Well, okay – the one male involved in the robberies isn’t entirely hateful, which was was good since this movie desperately needed that one person who seemed human. But I have to say that Emma Watson must be a really good actress because I hated her character with a passion! Her character is the perfect example of everything that’s wrong with spoiled, self-obsessed Western youth.

As for the true story, I’ve not read the original article this movie is based on & not looked into the real people and how closely this movie portrayed things. I just don’t care enough to bother. It’s hard to really feel anything for anyone in this story. It’s basically about the “haves” stealing from the “have-even-mores”. I don’t know if this is how it really was but I got the impression that they were able to rob Paris Hilton more than once as, when you have hundreds of designer bags & shoes & pieces of jewelry, you don’t even notice when some go missing. That’s really quite sad. What these teenagers did was of course very wrong & a crime in need of punishment but, with all the horrible stuff going on in the world, no one is exactly going to cry over some celebrities having been robbed of a few possessions.

But despite the subject matter, I didn’t hate this movie. I guess I just wanted a little something more from it but it was interesting seeing just how easily these teenagers broke into these celebrity houses. You would think there would be loads of alarms, locks, etc! Never mind their possessions – aren’t celebrities worried about their personal safety? I’ll say that it seemed these teenagers broke into these houses, especially Paris Hilton’s which they kept going back to, just as much to hang out & get a taste of living the celebrity lifestyle as to steal things and that’s the only time I almost felt a little sorry for them & was reminded that they’re really just kids.

I think I was just disappointed as I really love Coppola’s Lost In Translation and think The Virgin Suicides is quite a beautiful work of art. Those films have so much style (and fantastic soundtracks! I love when Coppola puts a lot of effort into the music used in her movies). The Bling Ring just tells its story in a very straightforward way and feels much different from other Sofia Coppola movies I’ve seen. There’s nothing actually wrong with the film and I have to say I somewhat enjoyed watching it as, like the teenagers, I think a lot of us are at least a little fascinated with celebrities and the lifestyles they lead. Hey, I admit that I used to watch Cribs on MTV! πŸ˜‰ This movie is a bit like watching an episode of that, in a way, and I did like seeing inside the homes & wondered how close they made them to the actual homes that were robbed. Like, does Paris Hilton actually have her face plastered all over her walls & on her throw pillows?! Lol. Bizarre. I suppose I just can’t stand the type of people this movie portrays but, once it got past what felt like 45 minutes of the characters taking duckface selfies, the movie was half over anyway as it’s quite short. A shallow film about shallow people but worth watching if you’re interested in the story and bear in mind that you’re not going to get anything deep from it.

My Rating: 6/10

This Is The End (2013) Review

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This Is The End

Directed by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg

Starring:
James Franco
Jonah Hill
Seth Rogen
Jay Baruchel
Danny McBride
Craig Robinson
Michael Cera
Emma Watson

Running time 106 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

Well, I think everyone knows by now that the actors listed above play themselves (or fictional versions of themselves, at least). While at a party at James Franco’s house, the final apocalypse begins…

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My Opinion:

This looked quite funny (and I LOVE apocalyptic movies – see my Top Ten here), so I figured I’d check it out even though I’ve never been overly bothered about this little group of actors. So… Do you need to love these actors to enjoy the film? Well, I think it would certainly help but I did still enjoy it anyway. And I have a tiny bit of a crush on Jay Baruchel, who I liked most in a movie I don’t THINK had anything to do with this group (She’s Out Of My League). The two main movies that most everyone in This Is The End seems to have been in are Pineapple Express (think I finished that in about three sittings) and Superbad (don’t remember a THING about that other than the “McLovin” thing). Anyway, in my opinion this movie is at least funnier and more memorable than those two were. Or anything else from this group. So… You’re gonna get a fairly balanced review, I think, as I don’t absolutely worship these guys. πŸ˜‰

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I don’t think I’m giving anything away that isn’t in the trailers by saying that some of the appeal of this movie is watching celebrities getting killed in humorous ways. I think, like me, most of us love celebrities as much as we hate them. Or is that just me?! So I found that entertaining and would have liked to see more of it. There are some fairly impressive cameos – It would have been even cooler to have a few more celebrity deaths that were as inventive as the first one.

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As to be expected, there’s lots of crude humor and lots of drug-taking and lots of humor involving all this drug-taking. Basically, it’s like all their other movies but I found the actual concept and story a lot more fun than something like Pineapple Express.

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I saw this three days ago and, to be honest, I’m struggling to remember specific things so I’m not sure what else to say. There’s a scene involving a porn mag that’s quite funny and probably the highlight of the movie. Oh – the music was (mostly) good! Never going to complain at a bit of Black Sabbath! Also don’t mind some Cypress Hill & KRS-One. So other than an annoying boy band & Whitney Houston, fairly decent soundtrack. Oh yeah – and at one point a character calls someone a “duplicitous taint” and I was like “I need to remember that because I think I know a certain someone who would probably appreciate that. (The IPC…). Lol! But I didn’t quite remember because I’m getting old and senile and I’m now not sure if that’s exactly what was said but I know the second word is right. Anyone feel free to correct me if I got that wrong. Okay, I’m rambling now – time to finish this review. πŸ˜‰

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Summary:

This Is The End is rude, crude, and fun. If you love this group of actors, you’ll probably worship this movie. Great job on the pretty original idea of having them play “themselves” in the middle of one messed-up apocalypse. But, overall, I found the whole thing quite forgettable. As much as I enjoyed it while watching it, I can’t see it being one I’d watch again anytime soon. As far as comedies go, I’m very picky but the few I love I could watch over & over again. This Is The End isn’t one of those for me but neither are any of the other movies from this group of actors. For me, at least – I know I seem to be in the minority on that.

My Rating: 7/10

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Scene After The Credits?: No, there’s nothing after the credits. It’s the kind of movie where I expected something.

Cameos?: I know some people will want a list of all the cameos in This Is The End. As I didn’t know several of the actors anyway, here’s a good link with the list: BuzzSugar

My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies – Does this make the list?

Movies Seen In 2013 – Where does this rank?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Went to this movie recently and really liked it – one of my favorites this year. Logan Lerman & Ezra Miller were both very good and I think Emma Watson probably was as well but I was too distracted by the fact that I kept thinking I was watching Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club! When did she turn into her??

Anyway – indie movies – I love them or I hate them. This one got it right. I now want to read the book to get more character development (there’s supposedly a lot more about his family in the book), which I very rarely do – it’s hard to read a book after seeing the movie. I always do it the other way around!

One very trivial thing that annoyed me in this movie, though. As I felt I could really relate to the characters, I figured it was written by someone my age or it took place when I was a teenager. From what I can gather, it did – it’s set in about 1991. So… I was the same age then as the characters in the movie. GREAT characters. The type of people I wanted as friends in 1991 (but didn’t exist in my small hick town). Characters very into music. Like I was (and am still). Characters who, in 1991, don’t know a popular David Bowie song?! Come on! I sure as hell knew David Bowie, I certainly knew “Heroes”, and these characters certainly would have too! Okay, like I said it’s a trivial thing but it annoyed me. Oh, and the music in the movie was okay but quite predictable. “We are a quirky indie movie therefore we must stick a song by The Smiths in there”. 500 Days of Summer beat you to that. Both great movies, though, so I’m not really complaining… πŸ˜‰

Rating: 8.5/10

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