Mar. 12th, 2017

alobear: (Default)
My film of choice on the plane on the way back from New York last weekend was Queen of Katwe. I’d heard good things about it when it came out, and the story of an African chess star was appealing. I quite enjoyed it overall, but it didn’t feel like it had anything new or interesting to say. The plot was very predictable and pretty unoriginal, in terms of both story points and general arc. Now, I know it’s based on a true story, but it should still be possible to present fresh ideas and a new take on the age-old rags-to-riches story, even within the confines of a real-life premise.

Still, David Oyelowo is always good value for money, and didn’t disappoint. And a lot of the kids gave good performances, too. The most interesting character to my mind, though, was the mother, played with admirable complexity by Lupita Nyong'o. She definitely had the most inner conflict to contend with, struggling between wanting her children to have opportunities, while trying to keep them safe, and also not really being able to understand what was being offered to them and what it involved.

So, overall, it passed the time quite pleasantly on the plane, but it wasn’t as good as I had been led to believe.


Whilst in the US, we went to visit the New York Public Library, where there was a small exhibition about the graphic novels of Will Eisner. One of them looked quite interesting, so I bought the Kindle version and read it in its entirety in less than a day. Contract With God tells three separate stories about the people who live in an inner city tenement block - and it’s bleak as all get out. The overriding message is that people either do bad things or have bad things happen to them - that this is inevitable and doomed to be repeated indefinitely. The art was compelling and the stories themselves immersive, but the whole thing was very depressing and quite unpleasant in places.


Of more varied content was The Story of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang, a short story collection, which provoked much discussion and debate at Family Book Club this lunchtime. Everyone liked and disliked different stories, largely based on how interested they were in the technical detail and how much they were able to relate to the characters and situations. I found it very interesting to re-read the story on which the film, Arrival, was based, particularly since the film made significant changes to the story, in order to imbue it with greater jeopardy and a more intense emotional impact.

I much preferred the more character-based stories, and the ones that had less technical detail, but they all raised fascinating questions about society, human behaviour, interaction with technology, and moral and ethical what-ifs.


And, on Friday night, we went to see Logan in the cinema. And, well, hum. I had been warned beforehand that it was very bloody. While at no point did the violence actually cause me to look away, it was quite overwhelming in its frequency, and quite disturbing the nature of one of its main perpetrators. Also, there wasn’t much else, other than grimness, unpleasantness, tragedy and despair to distract from it. So, I found the whole experience very draining, despite excellent performances and some interesting thematic focus. It was by far the best of the lone Wolverine outings in terms of quality, but that’s a very low bar, and what it did provide was not presented in a way that was appealing to me at all. I actually almost walked out a couple of times - and probably would have done, if I’d had anything with me to read, or even my phone to play games on while waiting for my companions to exit as well.

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