The Shock Of The Fall by Nathan Filer (Book Review)

*I’m taking it easier on blogging so am re-posting some mini book reviews I did in one long post HERE at the start of this year. Here’s my mini-review of The Shock Of The Fall…

The Shock Of The Fall by Nathan Filer

What It’s About: (from the back cover)

I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.

My Thoughts:

My favorite books to read are always horror, sci-fi or fantasy but I do try to sometimes read bestsellers or ones that have awards slapped on their covers (like this one) which are probably bullshit half the time anyway. This is an example of a book that was pretty good and plenty of people probably liked it but it just didn’t really work for me. Oh! I also judge books by their covers and this has a good one plus I was intrigued by the back cover synopsis (above).

That synopsis sounds interesting, right? This is a book where you’ll easily find out what it’s about if you read anything whatsoever about it but if you like knowing nothing other than what’s on the back cover, skip over this next part….
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SPOILER:

This book is about mental illness (schizophrenia) and told from the viewpoint of the young adult (Matt) who is suffering from it. It’s a fairly unique book & I’d recommend it if it sounds to you like one you’d like.

I have to say it’s actually a better book than some of the others that I ranked higher HERE on my list of books that I read in 2015. But, as always, I rank mainly by my level of enjoyment & I found myself not really wanting to pick this one up much so it took me quite a long time to finish.

My Rating: 3/5

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IMDB Top 250 Challenge – Movie #18 – Mary And Max (2009) Review

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Mary And Max – IMDB Rank #183

Watched 7/6/13

Directed by Adam Elliot

Starring Voice Actors:
Bethany Whitmore
Toni Collette
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Eric Bana
Barry Humphries

Running time: 90 minutes

Country: Australia

Plot Synopsis:

This story follows the friendship between a lonely 8-year-old Australian girl named Mary and a 44-year-old New Yorker with many mental problems named Max. Their friendship starts in 1976, when a very lonely and neglected Mary decides to write a letter to someone in New York and chooses Max at random from a telephone directory.

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My Opinion:

I hated this. Absolutely hated it. That is all. Review over. :-p

Okay… I’ll try to say a bit more. To be honest, I don’t know why I hated this so much but the whole thing just rubbed me up the wrong way. I can see it has some merit and a lot of this is probably just me being awkward as it’s obviously liked by enough people to have been voted into the IMDB Top 250. It does NOT deserve to be in a list alongside the “all-time greatest movies”, though.

I wouldn’t say that I don’t like a bit of black humor so I had no problem with that. But the whole thing was SO depressing. Every single character in this, other than Mary as a young girl, is completely unlikeable and some are downright hateful & horrible. As a young girl, Mary is so sweet. But she’s very lonely thanks to very neglectful parents (especially her alcoholic mother). The kids at school are horribly mean to her because she has a big birthmark on her head. She’s such a nice girl and I just couldn’t stand seeing this poor little girl being neglected and so in desperate need of a friend.

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Then Max comes along and they have a great but oftentimes troubled pen-pal relationship due to Max’s many different issues (anxiety attacks, overeating, depression, and Asperger syndrome). He will sometimes get mad at Mary and she won’t hear from him for ages, which really hurts her. Her life is full of ups and downs (mostly downs!) and, as to pretty much be expected, she starts to descend into her own depression… Yada Yada. I won’t say whether or not this movie at least has a happy ending but who cares anyway – you’ll be lucky to not be severely depressed yourself by the time you make it to the end of this.

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Um. Okay – I’ll say a couple good things. I liked that Mary’s world is sepia & Max’s is black & white. And there are, believe it or not, some quite funny things in this (I was just too depressed to give a shit). These were mostly things said by Mary or Max – I do admit that a lot of their correspondence was cleverly written and sometimes very funny. But this is one of those movies that’s too “aware” of its own cleverness. That sort of thing always gets on my tits. This film is pretentious. Oops – I was trying to say good things, wasn’t I… Mary. Mary as a girl. The only good thing, really.

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Oh! And here’s another thing I hated probably more than anything else – this movie has now ruined for me a song that I loved: Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Perpetuum Mobile. And it not only used the song once, it kept using it over and over and over again. The movie clubs the viewer over the head with this song. Annoying. Dammit – I can’t hear that song now without thinking of this movie!

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Anyway – I suppose this film is making some sort of point about mental illness that maybe I missed. Maybe the point is how it can ruin people’s lives through no fault of their own. Because the lives in this film are certainly not happy ones. Here’s a list from Wikipedia of some of the themes covered in this film:

Childhood neglect, friendship, the obscurity of life, teasing, loneliness, autism (Asperger syndrome in particular), obesity, depression and anxiety.

They forgot several things as well – such as agoraphobia, kleptomania, and alcoholism.

Yeah. Fun stuff indeed. 😉

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Summary:

I hated this movie.

My Rating: 4/10

Now listen to this awesome song then never watch Mary And Max because it will destroy the song for you:

Take Shelter

Been wanting to watch this for a while. I’m obsessed with movies that are at ALL apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic in any way. These days it’s zombie movies that I especially love. Maybe there’s something wrong with me or I just really hate humanity – I think it actually started with that (admittedly awful) Night of the Comet movie I watched in 1984. Or possibly a bit earlier as I loved the original Twilight Zones from a VERY young age and a couple of my favorites were The Monsters are Due on Maple Street and the one where the neighbors all fight over the bomb shelter when they think the world is ending. So, anyway – Take Shelter was close enough to those things I love for me to check it out even though I KNEW it was actually a story about mental illness. But, dammit – some more actual storms would have been good!! 😉

Decent enough performances from all involved but nothing too stunning. I did like the parallels of mental illness/approaching storm. The pacing was a bit too slow at times (I found my mind wandering several times but that’s getting to be more of a problem in my old age plus I have a lot on my mind at the moment AND I was watching it while decorating the damn Xmas tree). 🙂 And I like the ending but I always love a good ambiguous ending that you KNOW people are going to fight about on websites like imdb. Seriously – I think I just like to see movie geeks get all worked up insisting that THEIR interpretation of a movie is the only correct one. 😉 What I love about those endings is that you can take them any way YOU choose to.

So, overall, Take Shelter was a decent enough movie exploring mental illness in a slightly more interesting way by using the symbolism of the storm and the shelter and blah blah blah. But I felt it was missing something. I don’t know what exactly but I was a little bored throughout it. The feel & pacing & exploration of the characters kept reminding me of the movie Another Earth, which I enjoyed much more and I felt did a better job of getting its point across (exploring human emotion as opposed to mental illness and the effects it has on the sufferer & those close to them). And a similar sort of ambiguous ending! Hey ho. 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

(And since I mentioned it, I’d probably give Another Earth a 7.5/10)

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