November Blind Spot Review: City of God (2002)

“You need more than guts to be a good gangster. You need ideas.”
– Rocket

SYNOPSIS: Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer. – via IMDB

Man, I have been meaning to get to this movie for years and years and just never have, and finally I can cross it off my list. I don’t know about Top Ten Movies of All Time material or anything (which is where I see this movie listed often), but this movie is definitely fantastic and well worth the watch. It is heavy and handled exceptionally well, and comes across as authentic, not some attempt at a sob story from a dangerous area.

First off, City of God does not pussyfoot around in terms of the violence, drug use, and life in the slums. Oh no. You get kids with guns doing drugs and killing people and it is just the way it is, and you get a look at junkies, you see robberies and plenty murder. I have no issue with it, but I think some people might find it a little hardcore. I think it told the story in a gritty, brutal manner, and didn’t sugarcoat things.

City of God has an array of characters, and they are all interesting, all bringing a new facet to the story, and I quite liked that. The story is so interesting and immersive, being told in disjointed chapters which all fit together seamlessly as they are laid out. I was mesmerised from the off. It takes a few minutes to get rolling, but once it catches it barrels right along and it is so good. It is so heavy to see the conditions that people live in, and how the violence and danger was simply accepted as a way of life.

There are some heavy scenes that come up throughout the movie that just get your blood boiling (Li’l Zé, you are a supreme dweeb). Benny is a character you cannot help but like – he is just likeable. Yes, he’s in the whole drug racket and is respected and will do what is necessary, but he is also more level-headed and fair, so the people like him more. Rocket, our main peanut, is in a sticky situation all throughout the movie as he does not want to be either a cop or a hood, and I can’t think you would have a lot of options in the slums. Li’l Zé is a freaking crackpot crazy – no two ways about it o.O

Anyway, City of God benefits from a good cast that presents to us an uncomfortable but important and engrossing story. It is gritty and brutal, authentic and heartfelt. The film is shot well and the score works hand in hand with the visuals to draw you in. You become invested in what you are seeing, and the movie truly provokes viewer engagement throughout. You are fascinated, but you don’t want to be these people. For people uhming and ahing about this because it is subtitled, get over it. The story is awesome and you will hardly be aware of those subtitles.

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Review: Her Last Day – T.R. Ragan

Jessie Cole #1

SYNOPSIS: Ten years ago, PI Jessie Cole and reporter Ben Morrison each suffered a tragedy that changed their lives—and now these two strangers are about to share a nightmare.

For Jessie, who makes her living finding missing persons, no case has consumed her more than the disappearance of her younger sister, Sophie. But left alone to raise Sophie’s daughter, she realizes that solving the case has become an unhealthy obsession.

For Ben, a horrific car accident resulted in scars both physical and emotional—and amnesia that has made his life a mystery. But curiously, out of his shattered memories, there’s one person he recognizes without a doubt: Jessie’s sister. He just doesn’t know why. Yet.

But Sophie isn’t the only phantom drawing Jessie and Ben together. An elusive serial murderer known as the Heartless Killer has reemerged from the shadows. His next move will cut even deeper into Jessie’s worst fears. And for Ben, what happens this time is going to be unforgettable.  – via Goodreads

Ha! This! This was good. I have been reading Ragan’s Lizzie Gardner books, but they have certainly not hooked me and drawn me in like Her Last Day. Initially when I started I saw it was yet another private investigator with a past and a possible boyfriend in law enforcement, and I felt my enthusiasm dwindling, but I was drawn in by the writing that is better than the Gardner books and characters who are more real and far less grating. This world drew me in, and the story is really good.

From the off, minus my initial gripe, I was interested. This is dark and gritty and the characters are good. While a little predictable at times, it is a solid story that is methodically laid out. Jessie has more than one case she is working on, what with Zee Gatley and the Parker Koontz stalking case, not to mention re-investigating her sister’s disappearance. Even with all of that going on, none of the cases is really forgotten. Sure, the stalking case is the least handled of the lot, but it does feature, and I liked how it all balanced. The pacing was also quite good, nothing feeling too forgotten, or shoehorned in randomly at a later stage.

Ben Morrison is a complex character, and I am interested to see where his story goes, as well as find out more about who he was before his accident, as a lot of his flashbacks are a bit dodgy and rather violent, which begs pause. I never really thought he was super involved with any of the cases Jessie was investigating in this (with the exception of his possible involvement with her sister), so that makes me wonder all the more. This has a lot of potential, and I liked how it was not rushed into this, or that Ragan didn’t rush to resolve it all in this book.

The plot flows rather well, and the book doesn’t read like it is chock full of filler to make the book longer or lots of roundabout reasoning. It gets into everything, and does so well. Overall, I think that Her Last Day is a solid read with good characters, a captivating premise, and reads really easily. I am quite looking forward to seeing where Ragan goes with this series.

Review: The Last Mrs Parrish – Liv Constantine

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne and her husband, Jackson—the beautiful philanthropist and the confident real estate mogul—are a golden couple straight out of a fairytale, blessed with two lovely young daughters.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrish family, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. – via Goodreads

Disclaimer: I am so over reading these taglines for books touting it an addictive/shocking/thrilling and having “the best twist” or a “twist you won’t see coming”. Eventually this is going to cause me to not request books or something I swear.

Now, moving on from that, let’s get to the book. Initially I was not a fan of this book. I liked the concept, but didn’t know how well the execution was going as it was a bit rocky in the beginning. I resented reading from Amber’s perspective because really, what a bitch and what a horrible piece of work. There were absolutely no redeeming qualities to her, and the more you read about her, the more you realise that she is one hell of a selfish twit and sociopathic and all. Yes, I am aware that is exactly how she is intended to come across.

I won’t say that the book is shocking – Daphne is a character I liked from the beginning, one I did not believe to be even remotely as stupid as Amber thought her to be. Jackson set my teeth on edge, and I felt so justified in my belief that he was an abusive douche nugget and that he and Amber totally deserved each other. I felt vindicated man, really. They are truly icky characters.

The book flows quite well, laying this sordid tale bare, and you cannot help but be drawn in. As I said, it might come across as a bit predictable, but in no which way does that mean it is not engaging. It is compelling, but it could certainly have toned down on the money shaming that went on the whole time in the beginning, it got old fast. To read about the reality of Jackson and Daphne’s marriage was quite rough because really, that was some mad stuff going on there, and I was fascinated to see how Constantine would carry through with it. Every time you think that something might have been forgotten/overlooked in the narrative, Constantine delivers the goods.

All in all, The Last Mrs Parrish is well worth the read. It is engaging and interesting and has some things that will make you think (spoiled children and one’s notion of abuse amongst other things). The Last Mrs Parrish is a solid psychological/drama read (though not a shocking! thriller! like it is marketed), and I am so glad I checked it out, and can certainly recommend it!

Review: The Dead Zone – Stephen King

SYNOPSIS: Johnny, the small boy who skated at breakneck speed into an accident that for one horrifying moment plunged him into The Dead Zone.

Johnny Smith, the small-town schoolteacher who spun the wheel of fortune and won a four-and-a-half-year trip into The Dead Zone.

John Smith, who awakened from an interminable coma with an accursed power—the power to see the future and the terrible fate awaiting mankind in The Dead Zone. – via Goodreads

I recently read It, after being in the mood for a King novel for ages. I thoroughly enjoyed it and read a few other books, but the King bug bit me again, and this time I ventured for The Dead Zone. Totally worth it folks, totally worth it.

The book is actually a rather quick read, and flows really well. The story is quite good, and draws you in from the beginning, though it does feel (especially when you get to the end) that you got a slightly more in depth snapshot of something that happened (like a moment in time), but served no real purpose, though you can also sit and think on that and see how it actually does mean something. This totally depends on what you take from the book, and everything will take something else.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Johnny and Sarah, his accident, his parents and how they (and Sarah) coped with Johnny’s coma after his accident. This is typical Stephen King, weaving some in depth characters to look at and chew on, and this book is no exception. Vera is a woman that starts off sounding like a woman with a bit of a stick up her ass, and then completely devolves into denial and some major mental health issues. Herb is a lovely man, and while he has some dark thoughts about Johnny, you can understand them, too.

The Dead Zone is proper psychological thrills. There are only few instances where there is some extreme violence and/or blood. The rest is all about Johnny and the “ability” he woke from the coma with. It is really interesting to read about Johnny’s recovery, and how this ability is something he fears, but is not something he can get rid of, and so it will haunt him. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how the people around him treated him, how they didn’t believe him, thought he was crazy, feared him, respected him, or were creeped out. There were some really nice characters in here, too.

Overall The Dead Zone is a pretty good read that zips on by rather easily. I was engaged throughout, and once again can appreciate King’s craft, he is really talented. The book is well written and engaging and has a solid story to chew on, whether you feel ultimately that it made you ask questions, or just gave you a snippet of a few years in a young man’s life, it is worth checking out. Man, all I want is some more King to read now!

Review: Death Note (2017)

“Every human spends the last moments of his life in the shadow of a death god.”
– Ryuk

SYNOPSIS: Light Turner, a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it. Light decides to launch a secret crusade to rid the streets of criminals. Soon, the student-turned-vigilante finds himself pursued by a famous detective known only by the alias L. – via IMDB

You know, I wondered how this was going to go down. I am sure there are going to be a ton of people that are going to hate on it and knock on it (yes, I see I am right having Googled the reception and rating). Anime is not an easy thing to bring to screen, and I must confess I have skipped a lot of the things. I don’t watch anime, though my brother in law and a very close friend of mine swear by it.

Now, while I do not and have not watched a lot of animes, Death Note is one of the few I actually did watch. Well, most of it, until it got so drawn out and boring I wanted to scratch my eyes out. It was entertaining until about halfway, three quarters through, then it just got crazy. When I saw the run-time for this, I was interested to see how exactly Wingard was going to handle the whole story and bring it to life. In short, pretty damn well actually.

Yes, I know a lot of people might want to shoot me for that, and I don’t care. I liked that this was fast and got to the core of the story without all the filler stuff that just bored me out of finishing it initially. The movie felt a bit longer than it was, not because I was bored, but because there was a hell of a lot of content crammed into a short space of time. It never felt rushed though, which is a bonus. It set up what was needed and then told the story, and it came together pretty well.

A big drawback for me was the casting of Keith Stanfield as L, he just didn’t really feel right. The other actors fit and did alright with their roles, but Stanfield just stood out because he did not seem to gel with the other actors, and his performance came across as forced, which I didn’t like. Also, I could have done with more of Ryuk. Light was definitely a strange character here, like he was never scared of Ryuk, but that also didn’t always hurt this. It all just rolled along fine, just strange.

As this was done by Wingard, it looked stylish and I enjoyed the soundtrack and score. Wingard understands style, that’s for sure, so that was one of the things nailed down really well in Death Note. All things being said, I quite enjoyed this and I really think the internet is hating on it way more than it deserves.

JB & The Chop Do: Scream 4 (2011)

JB & THE CHOP SCREAM

After taking such a long hiatus – and relieving the public of my constant shame – I want to say that I have had a shitload of fun doing this again, JB. Thanks for not giving up on me :  ) I haven’t exactly loved these Scream movies BUT I didn’t grow up on them like you did. I wonder what we can pick next… maybe something older – like ME! I remember the 90s as my young 20s when I moved out of my mom’s and went to college and had to start paying bills and shit and working 90 hours a week (for real). Those aren’t my fondest memories CRY CRY CRY. But, with that, I had to say this was probably my favorite one of the bunch… *walks slowly backwards out of the room….

scream 4 poster

SYNOPSIS: Ten years have passed, and Sidney Prescott, who has put herself back together thanks in part to her writing, is visited by the Ghostface Killer. – via IMDB

CHOP SCREAM

What made me like it the most out of the four? It came out in 2011 so it was a little more modern. It was definitely much  more gory,  #guts . Dewey seems to be back to his role as an inept #dingdong . I know the cast is principally the same but I liked the cameos. This came out right when True Blood was popular so I wonder how much they had to pay Anna Paquin and her #legs to be in this for two minutes? I also liked the fact that the killer made sense this time even though I still think the costume is not #tits . If you don’t get that reference, you can search my site for the three page explanation of how that term came into my life. Searching that word on my site will take you to probably 1000 of the 1300+ posts out there. Go find it and get back to me here. Maybe you’ll win a prize! A #booby prize!

Plus – Marley Shelton??? #??????????? any movie with her in it gets extra marks from me.

I also like Emma Roberts. I don’t think JB does but I do – I really liked her in Scream Queens.

You know what I didn’t like? This asshole’s hairdo. (Not the chick). A man’s hair should never blow in the wind! #fuckinhippies

I also really liked the publicist:

Where have I seen her before??? OH YEAH! She’s one of the leads from GLOW!

I loved that show! Bring on season two! More #spandex and #chickfights and #cleavage and #bighair and #showerscenes . #hashtag

I always try and end these runs with a nice thank you to the beloved JB, not that that happens consistently but… even though JB and I live on different continents, if it ever came down to it, and I was a zombie:

It gives It permission to end It without repercussions. It does not want It to end It in any way, but It saw this image and it made It think of It.

Always love,

It

JB SCREAM

And here we are, the final movie. Thank you all for sticking with us, reading, commenting, everything. As always, we appreciate it! It’s been a blast, and hopefully we will be back soon with something new!

I think that this is a damn fine entry to the series, especially after so many years passing in between. More solid than the last, that is for sure, and I really liked how it took the concept of Scream and modernised it to cellphones, vlogging, etc. So much has changed! I will always be a fan of the fact that the same cast has always returned for their roles, it just gives the whole experience a more cohesive and authentic feeling, which is awesome. I really like how these movies are all solid – truly, how many franchises can say that they have so many entries and that they are all well worth watching? *cough* Amityville *cough*

scream 4 don't fuck with the original

Thank goodness Cox’s hair was sorted out – Scream 3 did her no wonders whatsoever, and whoever styled her hair with that fringe should have been shot. Seriously. Her and Dewey being together is adorable, and I will not lie, that blonde woman, Hicks, who was hitting on Dewey? Really made me angry :/ Stay away or go find an available man, hooker! Even though the Chop thinks she is hot. Which is fine. But she must back off the Gale/Dewey thing!

And yes, the Chop is 100% right – I am still not sold on Emma Roberts. Even her face just looks like a spoiled brat to me, and she always comes across like that, too. Ugh. She isn’t even that great an actress (or I have yet to see her in anything where she wows me, at any rate).

Scream 4 brings on the slashing, the guts, the gore, some humour, more movie references than you can shake a stick at and all most all of our favourite characters. *cough cough* no Randy ;( The rules have been updated, too, for a more modern set, and it works for this. When this first came I just didn’t watch it, because… well… what if it didn’t end well? When I finally got to it I was pleasantly surprised, and definitely rank this over Scream 3.

scream 4 i'm gay rule

I almost died when they tried to call Rory Culkin’s Charlie Walker this generation’s Billy Loomis. Are you freaking kidding me?????? Are you?????? I mean I get the updating and all of that but… but… yeah. Still not, though I did like how he was worked with in this.

scream 4 ghostface door

Hayden Panettiere (who I am sure will always be Claire, the cheerleader, for me) initially struck me as potentially out of place in this, but fast becomes a fan favourite, she’s awesome.

scream 4 trying to do ghostface

Anyway, after all is said and done, I just want to thank Eric from the bottom of my heart for doing these movies with me! I am glad to see you liked them, even if you didn’t love them! I am so excited for any and all future projects that we will do together (and damn, those Amityville movies are racking up again). This is always fun and you rock 😀

PS: It loves Its picture, but It will not be ending It in a hurry!

Review: The Whispering Room – Dean Koontz

Jane Hawk #2

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: “No time to delay. Do what you were born to do. Fame will be yours when you do this.” 

These are the words that ring in the mind of mild-mannered, beloved schoolteacher Cora Gundersun–just before she takes her own life, and many others’, in a shocking act of carnage. When the disturbing contents of her secret journal are discovered, it seems certain that she must have been insane. But Jane Hawk knows better.

In the wake of her husband’s inexplicable suicide–and the equally mysterious deaths of scores of other exemplary individuals–Jane picks up the trail of a secret cabal of powerful players who think themselves above the law and beyond punishment. But these ruthless people bent on hijacking America’s future for their own monstrous ends never banked on a highly trained FBI agent willing to go rogue–and become the nation’s most wanted fugitive–in order to derail their insidious plans to gain absolute power with a terrifying technological breakthrough.

Driven by love for her lost husband and by fear for the five-year-old son she has sent into hiding, Jane Hawk has become an unstoppable predator. Those she is hunting will have nowhere to run when her shadow falls across them. – via Goodreads

I read The Silent Corner a while ago and quite enjoyed it, very different to what I am used to from Koontz. When this became available for request on Netgalley, I just knew I needed to know what would happen with Jane Hawk and her incessant hunt for the truth about a huge conspiracy to control mankind and to avenge her husband.

The Whispering Room picks up almost directly after The Silent Corner, and wastes no time getting the story underway. As with the first novel, it feels like it could have been shorter in some places and felt like it rambled a bit in places, but other than that, barrels along at the speed of light. We have two new characters to sink out teeth into  and enjoy what with Luther and Grandpa Bernie, which is nice. Fresh characters can be fun, and I particularly enjoyed Jane teaming up with Luther Tillman. The man is smart and sharp and brave, too, which works wonders for them in the team.

The story unfolds rapidly, and the conspiracy to take over the world for “peace” and all that throws a few spanners into the works along the way, the theory of what this conspiracy club is doing and how and who is in charge and why keeps changing. The term “play Manchurian with me” becomes a really important part of this book, and it was interesting to also read a bit of the story form the perspective of a woman who “has a spider who lives in her brain”.

I feel that this Jane Hawk trilogy started strongly and has a follow up that is just as good as the first. I am super interested to see the final part of this story to see how Koontz is going to wrap it up and bring it all to a close. Hopefully soon I will know! The Whispering Room provides another interesting, fast read that has a few characters to truly enjoy, though there are places the book could certainly have been tightened up some.