Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Review: Wild hearts can't be broken

Famously only loosely based on horse diver Sonora Webster's life this is a wonderfully engaging live action Disney film.  I was immediately charmed by Anwar's performance as the cheeky and determined Webster and the unusual story set in Depression era America. 


Review: Spider-man: No way home

Interesting entry to the current Spider-man trilogy which owes more than a little to the animated Spider-verse film from a few years back. Unfortunately, the earlier film is far better and more imaginative despite some distinctly inception like mind bending moments in this live action film.  While it's fun to see some old favourites back, the whole thing lacks the spark and playfulness I associate with Spider-man.  It is also far too long for the story being told - a 90 minute running time might have left me feeling less bored. 


Sunday, 23 January 2022

Review: Antwone Fisher

Washington's competent directorial debut is a low key biographical drama about a navy crewman coming to terms with his past with the help of his therapist.  

While the context is unusual, there aren't any surprises in the core story here, but it still manages to be affecting at times and the chemistry between the leads is excellent  Less well earned is the journey taken by the therapist. That feels just a little too pat. 

I'm glad I watched it though. 


Monday, 17 August 2020

Review: What I talk about when I talk about running

 Part meditation, part memoir, Murakami evocatively captures the experience of running - and why some of us keep doing it through a series of essays covering different aspects of his life. Some - like his attempt at ultra-marathoning - are extreme, others simply note the passing of time on our bodies and minds. 

Some of it delicately captures a stream of consciousness which feels near universal, other parts you will probably only recognise if you are a writer or a runner. As an occasional human, runner and writer - it hit all of my buttons. 

Overall: Come for the running, stay for human experience

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Review: Calling Bullshit - The Art of Scepticism in a Data-Driven World

West & Bergstrom have produced a witty and timely guide to navigating the new landscape of social media and fake news.  Some funny examples aside though,  there is not much on offer detection wise that a good science education wouldn't offer.  

More useful is the chapter on Refuting Bullshit - which takes a surprisingly humane approach, especially for friends and family.  Kindness and substitution are key. 

Overall: Fun easy read to detecting and combatting nonsense "facts".


Review: Spider-man: Far from Home

Far from Home deals with fallout from the last epic Avengers battle and immediately opens with spoilers.  As someone who has yet to see any of Tom Holland's previous appearances, I found it did not take long to settle into the narrative - even though in some ways it feels like a wrap up movie. 

The plot is straightforward enough. Spider-man needs a rest and joins his class mates on a European road trip but somehow can't quite escape his responsibilities.  The result is part teen rom-com and part action movie. 

The core conceit of reality not being what it seems is an intriguing and credible one which together with some charming chemistry between Holland and Zendaya elevates it above standard superhero fare. Zendaya is particularly sweet and plausibly awkward as love interest, MJ.  It doesn't quite reach the heights of Into the Spider-verse but the visuals are clearly and rightly influenced by it. 

The 4K release looks crisp and filmic enough, but isn't eye-popping visually. 

Overall: Enjoyable and fun superhero outing with a touch of depth.

Monday, 10 August 2020

Review: Exhalation

Chiang's latest short story collection is a wistful mix of the fantastical and the plausible, grounded in current reality or very different ones.  Most act more like thought experiments although one or two have a Dahl like twist in the tale. 

Some like "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom" left me sorrowful and regretful about relationships lost and alternative paths taken.  Others - Omphalos - mildly baffled at the gordian knots the protagonists get themselves into.  Some challenge assumptions - such as the value of literacy and record keeping.  But it's the title story with it's deep dive into the effects of entropy on an intelligent species which is....breathtaking. 

Overall:  A deft and lightly told collection