Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli & Every Day by David Levithan (Book Reviews)

I recently posted mini-reviews of these books in my March Roundup of all that I watched & read last month. I’m posting these same reviews again as Love, Simon is now out in UK cinemas and Every Day has a release date of April 20th.

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The movie adaptation of this (Love, Simon) came out in UK cinemas last Friday. This is a YA book (yeah, I do like YA books) and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in this genre in the past few years. I’m not normally one for YA “romance” (give me the apocalyptic stuff!) but this one was done well and I really bought into this relationship. In the book, Simon is a gay high school student who connects with then starts an anonymous online relationship with another student at his school. I’ve never wanted a couple to get together so bad! The boy Simon talks to is extremely protective of his identity and Simon struggles with this as he wants to meet the boy he’s fallen in love with. I was like “Tell him who you are!!” (you, the reader, aren’t aware of his identity either). Beyond that, there’s not much to say about this book as it’s a fairly typical YA romance. But it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see the movie, which has had excellent reviews. I’ve even heard rumors of it having a John Hughes vibe?! Sounds good to me!

My Rating: 4/5

Every Day by David Levithan

This is a book that I read because, like Mortal Engines (mini-review HERE), I loved the original concept. It’s hard to find stories that feel unique. And, again, it’s a YA romance (Ugh. Sorry!). Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” The story does feel truly original and I really appreciated that. However, I just didn’t quite connect with the characters. A, who switches bodies every single day, was very interesting as you get some insight into the mind of someone who doesn’t define themselves by their body, gender, family, friends, etc. since these things change every single day. As I said, it’s a great concept but the book is just okay. I didn’t find myself caring as much about these characters as I’d have liked. This also has a movie adaptation coming out this month, but the reviews are meh. I’ll still watch it to see how they handle the story, though.

My Rating: 3/5

Here are the trailers for the movies:

In Your Eyes (2014) Review

In Your Eyes (2014)

Directed by Brin Hill

Written by Joss Whedon

Starring: Zoe Kazan, Michael Stahl-David, Nikki Reed, Steve Harris, Mark Feuerstein, Jennifer Grey

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two seemingly unconnected souls from different corners of the United States make a telepathic bond that allows them to see, hear and feel the other’s experiences, creating a bond that apparently can’t be broken.

My Opinion:

How did this movie so completely pass me by? It’s fantastic. I’m usually pretty informed about this sort of thing but I don’t think I’ve even seen this one mentioned by any fellow bloggers. I added it to my Netflix list ages ago after reading what it was about & thinking “that sounds sort of interesting – I’ll watch that by myself one night if it’s one of those very rare occasions where I’m in the mood for some girly chick flick“. But it’s not just another girly chick flick… It’s GOOD. And, I never thought I’d say this but I think I have my new Say Anything. I think I have my new Lloyd Dobler! Here he is – the perfect boyfriend:

He’s so boy-next-door cute and so sweet in this movie. Yeah, I’m old now but I can still have a crush on a movie character! Anyway, I’m not one of those girls who’s a big fan of romantic movies. Most of them make me want to puke because the characters are so unbelievable & usually so goddamn attractive that they don’t seem real & I can’t relate to them in any way or buy into their love story. Not that Zoe Kazan & Michael Stahl-David are exactly unattractive but they felt like real people and I loved their unconventional romance.

So, like the synopsis says, these two have a telepathic connection that they feel at various points throughout their lives but which fully comes into effect one day when they’re adults. It allows them to see through each other’s eyes and to talk to each other whenever they want. I really loved the concept – it’s very simple yet works perfectly in this film (probably, again, mainly due to the characters being so fully believable and the film being well written).

Yes, this was written by Joss Whedon & I didn’t know that until I started watching it. I’m sure that has probably piqued the interest of those reading this who are fans of things like Buffy (I never watched that – I was too old for it) or Firefly (great show) or even The Cabin In The Woods. I’d say that this movie has the same sort of overall feel as all of those but is a little more grown-up (I’m not sure of the characters’ ages but I’m guessing around 30).

I liked that they didn’t spend ages explaining the “telepathic” thing. There was no need to. These are just two people with a great connection having chats & sharing their lives with each other the same way any good friends would in normal circumstances. I’m a big fan of good dialogue & characters that don’t feel fake or forced and I instantly bought into the way these two talked to each other as though they were just having a normal long distance chat on the phone with a good friend. It’s like any long distance romance movie, I suppose, but with a more unique twist and with characters I actually believed & cared about.

Summary:

I’ll wrap this up before I ramble on and just keep saying the same things over & over. What can I say? I loved this film. It’s rare that a romance works for me but, as with Say Anything as well, I guess that’s the difference a good writer and strong characters makes (and it certainly didn’t escape my notice that this movie shares its name with the Peter Gabriel song made so famous by my beloved Lloyd Dobler & his boom box). 

I won’t pretend there aren’t cliché moments (he’s a poor ex-con living in a trailer in sunny New Mexico, she’s a well-to-do doctor’s wife living in snowy New Hampshire) but it doesn’t matter when the movie is actually good. And the contrast between their two worlds was quite beautiful – there are so many lovely shots of New Mexico that I want to move there right now. Into a trailer with Michael Stahl-David’s character! But, seriously – don’t write this one off just because it’s a romance. I almost did and I’d have missed out on a new favorite if I had.

My Rating: 8/10

Time Out’s 100 Best Romantic Movies

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Can’t say I fully agree with their list (Up should be much higher for one thing – Up is my number one…). However, Brief Encounter is definitely a good one. And Harold And Maude is a favorite movie of mine but not one that pops into my mind when I think of “romance”. I’ve not seen numbers 3, 4 & 8. Hmm…

Their top ten:

10. Punch-Drunk Love
9. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
8. A Matter Of Life And Death
7. The Apartment
6. Brokeback Mountain
5. Harold And Maude
4. Annie Hall
3. In The Mood For Love
2. Casablanca
1. Brief Encounter

Link to the full list: Time Out London

I do recommend Brief Encounter – I loved it. Lots of great sexual tension! My review: Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter (1945) Review

Brief Encounter (1945)

Directed by David Lean

Based on Still Life 1936 play by Noël Coward

Starring: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey, Cyril Raymond, Everley Gregg, Margaret Barton

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Brief Encounter is about British suburban life on the eve of World War 2, centering on Laura, a married woman with children, whose conventional life becomes increasingly complicated because of a chance meeting at a railway station with a married stranger, Alec. They fall in love, bringing about unexpected consequences.

My Opinion:

Oh the sexual tension!!!

Figured I should watch a romantic movie for Valentine’s Day. As I’m finding current movies less & less romantic (unless they’re Pixar!), I’ve decided to explore older movies a bit more. So I went with Brief Encounter, a story about a married man & a married woman who meet & fall in love & have to decide how they’re going to deal with that since they’re married and have kids & all that malarkey. Okay – I have to be careful how I review this as the hubby likes to have a little peek at my blog sometimes…

I really liked this movie. Two things I actually really liked were that a) they were middle-aged and b) they were quite plain looking. Nowadays everyone has to be young & beautiful, especially in romantic love stories. It made them seem very real and I was able to believe the love story more because of it. And, yeah – just because you’re middle-aged and have kids doesn’t mean that you lose all interest in romance & aren’t capable of having a passionate love affair.

Holy crap, though – talk about repressed British people. My god how things have changed in the UK since 1945. The poor woman in this constantly looked like she was painfully constipated because she couldn’t handle the stress of being in love with someone other than her husband. She even kept getting all faint. Nowadays in the UK they’d have a quickie in the bathroom on the train and that would be that. But I certainly don’t want to see that movie. I know plenty of people would rather see that more modern version of Brief Encounter but I’ll take it as it is, with all that great sexual tension & frustration. I think I’d much rather live in that time when people were “proper” and polite. But then I remind myself that I’d have to be a good housewife then and actually learn how to cook & sew & all that bullshit. So, maybe I’ll stick to living in 2013 (with some good old-fashioned black & white movie romance thrown in here & there).

My Rating: 8/10

Warm Bodies

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When I first heard there was going to be a zombie love story movie I was like “Whaaaaat….??” I LOVE zombie movies. Is that weird for a girl?! Forget wussy sexy vampires and all that – give me a good zombie movie! It started years ago when I watched Night of the Living Dead and then Dawn of the Dead, which I now consider one of my all-time favorite movies. So, anyway – even being a big-time zombie fan I did think the idea of a zombie love story sounded ridiculous. I like the comedy ones, such as Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead, but… Love story? Puh-lease!

Well, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by Warm Bodies! I suppose it helped that I went into it with fairly low expectations. I do like a lot of the young adult fiction these days but I didn’t know about this book so I’ve not read it and I went to the movie really knowing nothing about it.

I liked that this movie had a sense of humor about the whole zombie thing and had some funny moments. It wasn’t taking itself too seriously, which actually meant that you could sort of buy into the whole crazy idea of a zombie romance and the even crazier ending a bit more than if it had tried to be all serious & dramatic (like Twilight. Gag!).

The movie is kind of a strange mix of trying to be a little bit indie/quirky and trying to be a little bit mainstream (think somewhere in the middle of The Perks of Being a Wallflower & Twilight). If I’d made the film I think I would have gone much more “indie” with it but I think the way they’ve done it did work. It’s still not mainstream enough to get the entire Twilight crowd going to it, though (thank god!). To be honest, I’m not entirely sure who WILL go to this… It’s an odd one and the people at the cinema were an odd assortment – there were mothers with children way too young for it (8ish – WTF? I know it’s a 12A in the UK but this movie is too old for them!) through to one quite old couple in front of me. It’s not going to get all the young adult girls who want a dramatic love story with a pretty boy but, being a 12A, it’s certainly not going to get hardcore horror movie fans going to it either. I’m surprised it has quite a healthy IMDB rating of 7.4 at the moment, to be honest. Although I really enjoyed it I have to say this is one movie that people are gonna like or they’re gonna REALLY hate. I’ve told my co-workers that I really liked it but know I shouldn’t have because I KNOW that every single one of them would hate it. But they all suck when it comes to movies anyway, which is why I blog to people who are proper movie fans instead of talking to the people I work with about movies! 😉

In conclusion…. Hmmm… Not sure where to go with this now. Would I recommend this movie? No, not to EVERYONE. It’s not for everyone and it’s one of those rare ones where I can’t really predict who would like it and who wouldn’t (if I know a person well enough, I’m usually very good at recommending movies they’d like). Honestly, I have NO idea who will like this and who will hate it. If you go to it, go to it with an open mind and knowing that the premise is ridiculous and just have a bit of fun with it. Remember that it’s a 12A romance if you’re a horror movie fan and expecting lots of gore and remember that it’s a zombie movie if you’re thinking you’re going to get some lovely girly romance.

Oh yeah – the romance! Did I believe that a girl could actually fall in love with a zombie? Er… No. It’s a rotting zombie, FFS! Gross! Lol! But I did actually find the relationship in the movie very sweet and FAR less annoying than the one between Bella and vampire-boy. It was good that it was told from the zombie’s point of view so you could understand how he’s feeling and I have to admit that I really liked the WAY he gains his feelings (I won’t give that away but I liked that it felt like an original idea – there aren’t many original ideas in the tons of zombie movies these days. If you don’t like your zombie lore messed with, though, you might want to skip this one!). I was fine with them breaking a lot of zombie rules as I think you really HAVE to if you’re going to turn it into a romance. I didn’t go to it for the romance side of things to be honest, though – I went for the zombies! And I enjoyed it.

My Rating: 7/10 (but don’t get mad if you see it & hate it because I’ve warned you that it’s not for everyone!) 🙂

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