I’m late to the game, but recently I was sick in bed and doing what you do – scanning movies on Netflix. I saw they finally added Bradley Cooper’s 2015 movie Burnt. It’s a bit intense, but I really enjoyed it. The acting is fantastic, the score is moving, and it had great energy. The film follows Adam Jones, a chef who’s downward spiral into drugs and jerky behavior cost him his career, and a slew of burned bridges. Adam is determined, after getting clean, to gaining respect in the industry again, and chasing the ever elusive three Michelin stars. With some charm and hustle, he puts together a pretty great team, and is on his way to working through his issues, and achieving his goals. One of the things that tugged on my heartstrings the most was the relationships people had with Adam. Even though he’d burned them in the past, there were people in his corner rooting for him to be the best version of himself, they knew was possible. Such an example of unconditional love and forgiveness, even on a friendship level. Burnt was refreshing because it was a little bit different than anything I’d watched recently. Plus, make the setting London for any film and you’ve definitely got my interest. If you haven’t seen Burnt already I say, check it out!
I have barely gone to the movie theater in 2017, but there was one movie I saw the trailer for several months prior to its release, I just knew I wasn’t going to miss. Gifted starring Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, and also included Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer, and Lindsay Duncan in this incredible cast. I tend to go to the movies by myself, but this one I saw with my parents, and it was great to know I wasn’t the only one that went through several tissues during this drama. McKenna Grace plays Mary, a spunky, spirited, brilliant little girl being raised by her Uncle Frank (Chris Evans) in Florida. Frank unfortunately gets into a custody battle with his mother, but it’s not any usual custody battle – Evelyn wants Mary because she’s basically a child prodigy and she wants to exploit her abilities. Jenny Slate plays Bonnie, Mary’s teacher who recognizes her unmistakable talent, but also gets Frank’s desires for Mary to have as normal a childhood as possible. The film is just beautifully done. You can tell that the cast seriously bonded with one another, and the chemistry is so palpable, I forgot that all of these characters aren’t related to one another in real life. (Isn’t that the goal of a film – make the whole story undoubtedly real?) I really loved the message in this story too. Frank so badly wanted Mary to really get the chance to be a kid. I won’t ruin the story, but it explores plenty of themes – the value of family, finding balance in life, figuring out ways to acknowledge a gift but not make life ever be about only one thing. The soundtrack was amazing, the cast was astonishingly talented, the story was beautiful and it’s funny but some of the parts that made me sob in the theater weren’t even “sad” they were just so incredibly touching. I laughed, I cried, I got mad at characters, I thought about relationships and life, and the little things. I know I haven’t recommended a movie in a while, but if there’s one you’re going to add to your To Watch list, this should be it. The cast deserve some major awards for these performances!
Paper Towns is my third favorite John Green novel. (First being The Fault in Our Stars, second Looking for Alaska.) I was raised in central Florida, and a lot of my late teens and into my twenties years of adventures involve Orlando, so I was happy to the sunshine state as a setting for the book. Also, I personally don’t care that people think Margo is a fantasy manic pixie girl – every story does a little better with a spark of mystery, and something alluring to chase (and hey, that chase gives plenty of time for self-discovery.) Also, Nat Wolff did an amazing job in the role of Q. The friendship between Quentin, Radar, and Ben felt really genuine, and provided a lot of comic relief in the film (and some seriously touching moments). Nothing will successfully compare to TFiOS, but I don’t think it’s fair to try and judge these against one another. Paper Towns is a separate story, with a different message, and I don’t think the content is meant to be as heavy. For all of these reasons, I think Paper Towns was a success in the transition from book to screen. The soundtrack is fantastic, and they didn’t make you feel like you had to read the book in order to keep up with the story (though I highly recommend doing so, anyway!)
Here’s the gist: senior in high school, Quentin, has grown up across the street from Margo in their nice little Orlando neighborhood. In their younger years, they were partners in crime, until popularity sent them on their ways to separate social circles. Q has had a hopelessly devoted crush on Margo all these years. He’s got two best friends Radar and Ben – and they live pretty tame teenage lives, band and video games filling their days, and getting good grades looking forward to college. Margo on the other hand, lives life a little on the wild side. One night, for old times sake, she convinces Q to assist her in a night of wild revenge tactics and escapades all through out town – she’s trying to teach him how to live on the edge. Cautious Q comes out of his shell a bit, and is as enamored as ever with Margo. Following their night of mayhem, (resulting in some pissed off victims at school), Margo disappears. This leads to Q searching for clues in the pieces she’s left behind, and with Margo’s former best friend Lacey in tow, along with Radar, Ben and Radar’s girlfriend Angela – the crew is on a mission to build some last minute memories as a farewell to high school, and an unforgettable road trip in pursuit of finding Margo. Of course there are some teaching points along the way, and reminders to be true to yourself in whatever capacity that means for you.
This isn’t the kind of movie I would choose to watch over and over again, but if you’re looking for a light-hearted film, with some hearty characters I definitely recommend giving Paper Towns a go.
I know, you’re probably wondering what took me so long to read Paula Hawkin’s Girl On the Train, especially after my exaggerated enthusiasm for Gone Girl? I’m not sure either, but I’m so glad I finally did and before I saw the trailer to the upcoming movie! I don’t read too many psychological thriller novels, (mostly because my impatience to know what happens keeps me up all night turning pages, and then awake the following nights because I can’t quiet my mind.) While Gone Girl will probably hold the number one spot for me for years to come, Girl On the Train was full of quite a few twists and surprises of its own. I felt a relatability to our narrator Rachel (or main narrator I should say, as the book shifts between three view points) with her vivid imagination. After losing her job following some day drinking on work days, and a string of inappropriate behavior as a result of the fallout of her divorce and some personal traumas, Rachel moves in with an old college friend. Instead of coming clean about her employment situation, she hops on the train each day and continues about her old work day commute. Just instead of going to her old PR job, she pops into coffee shops to work on her CV, or visits the library, or does an inordinate amount of people watching. This combined with her active imagination brings us to one aspect of this jumbled up tale. Rachel witnesses an encounter of infidelity, though she doesn’t have a personal relationship with the people involved, passing them each day on the train makes her feel like she does. Then days later the woman involved goes missing! This mystery gives Rachel a new purpose in life, other than her hobby of drinking and obsessing over her philandering ex-husband and his new wife as she tries to piece together the random puzzle parts of these strangers lives. Of course this isn’t cut and dry, and her bouts of blackouts from drinking bring some complications to her reliability and memory recall. Such faults just add to the suspense and intrigue, though. Add in a jealous new wife, a troubled missing woman, and some manipulative but unsuspecting men and voila! We’ve got ourselves quite a story. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t that jazzed when I finally watched the trailer to the film but I’ll probably give it a chance anyway. In the meantime, if you haven’t dived into this thrill ride of a story yet, I highly recommend it!
For those of you who are enticed to read a book when you see the film adaptation trailer, here you go:
(Image from Goodreads.)