The Good Place

26x 20 min.

Wat is dit voor leuke onzin? Het zag er leuk en helder gekleurd uit (á la Pushing Daisies, dat ik altijd als standaard voor ‘TV met felle kleuren’ zal gebruiken), en online was er enthousiasme voor, maar nog niet op de vervelende door-de-strot manier. The-Good-Place-poster

Blijkt het stiekem geen onzin. Maar toch ook wel, maar dat moet je zelf ontdekken. Kort gezegd: Eleanor is nogal een eikel, sterft en komt in The Good Place terecht. Hier komen activisten, professoren, zeer goede mensen terecht. En zij dus, en ze heeft vrij snel door dat ze er niet hoort. Maar ja, als je elke keer hoort dat de andere optie vliegende vier-koppige beren zijn ..

Eleanor probeert dus een beter mens te worden. De mensen om haar heen maken het er niet makkelijker op.

Het is een snelle, lichte serie met genoeg kneepjes waardoor het allemaal net wat scherper wordt. En het staat hier op Netflix, dus je kan er helemaal snel en soepel doorheen schieten.

The Good Place, NBC 2016

Juliet Takes A Breath

Dear Harlowe,

Hi, my name is Juliet Palante.

Wederom een boek dat een noodzakelijke andere invalshoek biedt. Een Puertoricaanse lesbische tiener uit de Bronx die handvaten nodig heeft voor opgroeien, identiteit, feminisme en seksualiteit.

Maar leuk en lief en frustrerend en interessant, echt waar. Juliet worstelt nog met haar identiteit en uit de kast komen, maar heeft veel hulp van een boek. Na een enthousiaste mail naar de auteur mag ze langs komen voor een stage, waardoor ze ook nog moet leren omgaan met een compleet andere omgeving (Bronx naar Portland).

Juliet is heel erg een tiener, maar wel eentje die open staat voor nieuwe dingen leren, waardoor wat-een-tiener-frustraties bijna niet op komen borrelen. Ja, ze is koppig en ongeduldig en wantrouwend, maar ook zelfstandig, nieuwsgierig en kan kritiek aan.

Het boek leest als een technicolor sneltrein, en ik kan mij niet herinneren wanneer ik het voor het laatst zo’n ontiegelijk menselijk YA heb gelezen. Dus doen voor de invalshoek, maar zeker ook voor de lol.

Juliet Takes A Breath, Gabby Rivera, Riverdaleave Books 2016

The Book of Life

95 min.

There’s two points of critique from me, for this movie. One: why wasn’t it entirely drawn like some scenes and the credits. Two: if this is a Mexican based story, why were the voice actors of the main characters not Mexican?

book of life poster 20th century foxBut if you want a shot of colour, life and love on a gray (winter’s) day, The Book of Life is definitely for you. Sometimes it feels like an animated version of Moulin Rouge, with the use of pop songs and references. It once again shows that how you dress a story, any story, is a large part of the appeal.

Two boys and one girl are the best of friends, they grow up together. But both are in love with the girl, and supernatural creatures use them as pawns for their entertainment. What will happen, who will survive, who will she choose? And why does the Land of the Remembered look so awesome?

Visit for the looks of things, stay for the happy feeling it will leave you with.

The Book of Life, Twenty Century Fox Animation 2014

Dope

103 min.

Oh, wow, what an amazing, fun, emotional, realistic movie. I was interested because of the soundtrack (nineties hiphop and rap), and was so glad that everything else delivered as well. An original story with people of color that spun clichés and tropes and isn’t afraid to confront the viewer. Go see it.

Forest Whitaker's Significant Productions 2015
Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions 2015

Malcolm and his friends are geeks obsessed with nineties hiphop. They dress like the artists, make music like them, write essays on them. He’s trying to get out of the criminal suburb he lives, aiming high with Harvard. Of course, life happens. There’s a girl, there’s a drugs dealer. There’s a lot of drugs and a muddy connection to those that could help him get into Harvard. What follows is a whirlwind of action, music, comedy and coming of age with from time to time a bit of fourth wall break throughs. Think about this, think about them, think about the society in which we live and where we are all part of.

That doesn’t mean there is anything preachy about Dope. Those with an open mind will see and understand enough to know things need to change.

DopeForest Whitaker’s Significant Productions 2015

The Cuckoo’s Calling

The buzz in the street was like the humming of flies.

I’m one of those readers that thinks that if you read one (good) detective, you have read all of them. Of course, it’s very hard to be (completely) original, but I think detectives definitely suffer from one set-in-stone trope. The detective is a (grumpy) loser who will have to work hard to prove that he is right, after all.

Robert Galbraith (although by now everyone probably knows him to be a cover for J.K. Rowling) manages to at the same timer push the trope to the background and upholster it in a shiny new outfit. The author creates so many characters, so many (landscape) views, so many backgrounds, that it;s easy to forget about the detective case.

It was suicide, everyone thinks so. Except the brother of the famous model, and he wants Cormoran Strike to prove it. Likely and unlikely suspects, witnesses and friends pass through while Strike ties the ends together.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is a thrilling, whirlwind, exciting novel you want to race through.

The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith, Sphere 2013

Kraken

An everyday doomsayer in sandwich-board abruptly walked away from what over the last several days had been his pitch, by the gates of a museum.

A second chance for this author, by me. I read something by him before, but felt like he was better at creating worlds, than keeping a plot together. But as I am a huge fan of a good case of world-building, I couldn’t resist giving it another try. This author has loads of awards and fans, maybe it was for a reason.

Again, China Miéville creates a flabbergasting, mind-blowing world. He starts off with a speed that you can keep up with, but further into the book there are more and more details stacked on, making you page back to pick up the plot again, instead of enjoying the story. This isn’t necessarily bad, just demands a bit more attention from the reader.

Main character Billy works in a museum. From the museum is a dead giant squid stolen. Besides him being the unlikely hero of different religions living in London, there are also a few apocalypses coming up and some gruesome bad guys that work hard to trigger and/or prevent those from happening.

It’s an epic, and demands time and attention. It’s up to you to chose to give it.

 

Kraken, China Miéville, Pan Books 2010

Rash

Gramps, who was born in 1990, once told me that when he was my age the only way to wind up in prison in the USSA (back when it had only one S) was to steal something, kill somebody, or use illegal drugs.

So this is – at least partly – a YA version of Twenty-Thirty. Sadly the world building drops off for a hurried teen version of Prison Break mixed with a sport (football) story.

Main character Bo (short for Bono), is the odd one out. In a super safe, barely criminal, society, he’s the one with half of the family in jail and a grandfather that keeps bringing up illegal things. Bo has an anger problem and that puts him into trouble: an one way trip a correctional facility.

Life there is brutal and monotonous, but of course he manages to become part of an elite team pretty soon. And this team does illegal things: play something called football, without any protection. This looks like the right place for some Life Lessons, but Pete Hautman seems to be to enthralled by explaining several football maneuvers.

The second half and ending seems to be a bit rushed, which really breaks the initial fun down. Not bad, not very good either.

Rash, Pete Hautman, Simon & Schuster 2006