Sucker Punch

110 min.

Met sommige films/boeken (ik houd het meestal niet lang genoeg vol bij een slechte TV-serie) is er gewoon al voorpret over de review. Potverdikkeme, wat is Sucker Punch een sneu zooitje in zeventien tinten groen en grijs.

Sucker-Punch-posterHet maakt me niet eens zo erg uit dat er geen plot is, en dat wat doet alsof het plot is, compleet onlogisch is. Hey, dat gebeurt wel vaker. Maar gewoon helemaal niks van deze film klopt? Meisje gaat door iets traumatisch en wordt door een gemeen familielid naar een gesloten kliniek gebracht (ook al blijkt ze oud genoeg om daar zelf over te kunnen beslissen?). In die kliniek zijn alleen maar mooie, dunne vrouwen van haar leeftijd, en die dansen voor vieze oude rijkelui. Oké? Máár! Tijdens dat dansen hallucineren ze, of volgen we de jonge vrouwen hun hoofden in, en verzamelen ze in kleine, infantiliserende pakjes, voorwerpen waarmee ze kunnen ontsnappen. Het dansen wordt nooit getoond, maar iedereen is er schijnbaar vreselijk van onder de indruk.

Dit alles in enkele tinten groen en grijs, met veel pruillipjes, koosnaampjes en de hele Sexy Halloween-catalogus. Maar maak je geen zorgen, man-in-charge Zack Snyder vond het een zeer feministisch project. Waarom is onduidelijk.

Enige dat enigszins de moeite waard was? De soundtrack, en die is vast online ergens gratis te vinden.

Sucker Punch, Warner Brothers 2011

4 3 2 1

According to family legend, Ferguson’s grandfather departed on foot from his native city of Minsk with one hundred rubles sewn into the lining of his jacket, traveled west to Hamburg through Warsaw and Berlin, and the booked passage on a ship called the Empress of China, which crossed the Atlantic in rough winter storms and sailed into New York Harbor on the first day of the twentieth century.

The amount of times I thought ‘this would have been more interesting with a female protagonist’ was more than ten. The amount of times I wondered if Paul Auster has any kind of editing team or editor is even higher. Seriously mate, if you need fifteen-plus item lists to get to almost 900 pages, consider aiming a bit lower in page number.

Oh, and definitely change that ending.

What did I like about this story about a young Jewish boy growing up in fifties – sixties – seventies’ USA? Well, it’s one big ‘What if’ story. Every chapter starts with a new Ferguson, but some of them die, some of them grow up to be sterile, some have parents that divorce, some get into accidents. And Paul Auster shows the impact of all these internal and external factors on a human life.

But besides that, he shares a visual description of every woman in the boy’s life, and of every sexual encounter and masturbation session. And then there’s the lists.

If I’d be more aggressive about this time wasted, I’d create an abbreviated version of this book; instead I just want more ‘What if’-stories that won’t repeatedly tell me about a boy’s first erection.

4 3 2 1, Paul Auster, Faber & Faber 2017

Robin Hood

116 min.

Want het was natuurlijk al een hele vijf minuten geleden sinds er een mediaproduct van het Robin Hood-verhaal werd gemaakt. Deze blog zal mogelijk enigszins sarcastisch overkomen.

Robin Hood 2018Als je op zoek bent naar plotloos vermaak met wat redelijk aantrekkelijke scènes, is dit best een redelijke film voor je. De leidende acteur is van tijd tot tijd best charmant en probeert het in ieder geval met de af en toe compleet onzinnige opmerkingen. Dan is er een kleiner karakter (Huck) die in zijn eentje full time zijn best lijkt te doen, en och – de montage van diefstallen is voor het oog ook wat.

Maar de film is te lang, zo’n vijftien – twintig minuten. Niemand van de acteurs schijnen er erg enthousiast over te zijn, behalve de enige vrouwelijke – maar die krijgt dan weer niets te doen. Zelfs bekende slechterik acteur Ben Mendelsohn dobbert maar een beetje rond.

Dus ondanks de introductie van ‘Oh wow, dit is echt niet het verhaal dat je denkt te kennen’ en het super voor de hand liggende open einde met de hoop op een sequel is het dus allemaal vooral (net) niet(s).  Ga dan voor Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur van een paar jaar geleden: zelfde onzinnige toontje, maar zonder die zinloze poging om zichzelf serieus te nemen.

Robin Hood, Summit Entertainment 2018

A Place for Us

As Amar watched the hall fill with guests arriving for his sister’s wedding, he promised himself he would stay.

Finally, a story that grabbed me again. One of those that makes you ache for the characters involved, making you wish that you could reach out to them and shake some sense into them.

At first, I got a bit frustrated by the lack of chronology; a story line is never finished before a memory (from another character) intervenes. It took me until much later that this is how humans work: our bodies might follow a chronology, our minds are always connecting things to thoughts past and future dreams. You learn so much about this family because of all the things they remember, worry about and wish for. But gosh darn it, why don’t they just TALK to each other?

Maybe it’s because it’s a Muslim family that uses their traditions as a wall, a shield and a safety net. Maybe it’s because they’re immigrants in the USA, some of them growing up during and after 9/11. Maybe it’s culture and surroundings and character and fears.

But gosh darn it, do you root for them. Do you wish for more pages to set things right, because surely a happy ending is in order here. Until then, you’re stuck with a lump in your throat.

A Place for Us, Fatima Farheen Mirza, Penguin Random House 2018

The Luminaries

The twelve men congregated in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel gave the impression of a party accidentally met.

This is over 800 pages, I’m just going to share that before anything else. And the first 300 – 400 are basically just world building and giving you the background of the characters involved. If I wouldn’t know better (Tolkien isn’t a kiwi author), I’d say kiwi authors can’t write short and to the point.

The point here is a detective mystery. Some people show up dead in this nineteenth century gold miners town, some things go missing, some relationships are destroyed and made. Before the reader gets to the conclusion of this mystery, they might be worn down by all the endless details shared leading up to it.

If you start this novel knowing that a very long game is being run here, you might enjoy it in an almost encyclopedic way. I didn’t know before that there was a New Zealand gold rush, I enjoyed the descriptions of nineteenth century New Zealand and the immigrants living there. I can’t remember precisely how the mystery was solved, though.

The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton, Granta 2013

All Our Wrong Todays

So, the thing is, I come from the world we were supposed to have.

If the main character wouldn’t have been female, this book wouldn’t have been published or written of as chick lit and get none of the acclaim this one had. And ‘acclaim’ here is the categories my CloudLibrary put it in, so maybe it’s only Canadian acclaim, but still.

Anyway. I picked All Our Wrongs Today because it was time travel with a bit of The Jetsons and environmentalism sprinkled all over it. What’s not to like about that?

Well, probably the fact that all that is merely a background for half of the book, because protagonist Tom just whines about his life, his family, his actions (and inactivity), his life, his family and how his original surroundings are so much better than where he’s now. Mixed through that the reader gets a few female characters that are clear points to hang the plot on: mother, ex(es), (unattainable) love of his life.

But wait, it’s not just the women in Tom’s life that are merely plot points!

And like that, the reader might start hoping for Tom to time travel into nothingness, rendering this entire disappointing story non-existing. Or at the very least with 80 percent less navel gazing.

All Our Wrongs Today, Elan Mastai, Penguin Random House 2017

Half the World

He hesitated just an instant, but long enough for Thorn to club him in the balls with the rim of her shield.

It’s like a bodice ripper with barbarians. Usually I’m fine with what Joe Abercrombie has on offer; brutish fantasy with some comedic relief. Nothing highbrow or what you have to put your brain to work for but still, entertaining. Not so much this time.

The unlikely hero is a young woman that wants to fight, but she’s a woman so she’s laughed off and despised for being better than most. It is also repeatedly mentioned that she’s ugly and not-feminine. Anyway, she ends up as part of a trip around the world and both she and the (male) people around her learn that there’s more to her anger, violence and unappealing face.

This time even the world building just seems to be filler between the fight scenes and insult filled dialogues. I know that sequels are always viewed as to be a bit more challenging, but this was just a slog. If you want barbarian fantasy, try some of his other series.

Half the World, Joe Abercrombie, HarperCollins 2015