2017 Movie Murder On The Orient Express

I love Agatha Christie and I love Poirot. And my favourite of all the Poirot novels is ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. I will defend this story to the death and I will be incredibly pedantic about any adaptation.

And look what Kenneth Branagh has just delivered!

My thoughts…

  • It looks like an mystery/thriller movie. Which is all wrong, in my humble opinion, because this story is about the fine line between what is right and what is the truth. But trailer’s do lie so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Everyone is in this movie. Literally everyone. But because this plot had a large supporting cast, all of whom play a key role in the story, that’s to be expected. The 1974 movie had an all-star cast too (but I’m pretty pissed that Johnny Depp is still getting amazing acting gigs despite the wife-beating allegations.)
  • There was some attempt at diversity by including a POC but it’s not enough to offset the crime of including Johnny Depp.
  • I’m glad Kenneth Branagh didn’t attempt to replicate the looks of David Suchet’s Poirot. He’s done his own interpretation of the infamous moustache but besides that I didn’t see enough of him to really get a sense of what kind of Poirot.
  • The scenery is stunning I’ll give them that.
  • And I need to know the song

I’ve seen the 1974 movie which I know was a classic with a thousand Oscar nominations but I didn’t like Albert Finney’s interpretation of Poirot. I thought he was too hammy and he’s no David Suchet. I did enjoy Lauren Bacall but she’s always a stand out.

I’m currently re-watching Suchet’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and let me just say, Branagh’s got a hard act to follow, but I’ll be glad if the newest adaptation gets more fans and exposes a new generation to Agatha Christie.

Happy Free Comic Book Day!!

I love Free Comic Book Day!

I try to be in the city on this day so I can wonder off to Kinokuniya and soak in the atmosphere. Either that or trek down to smaller comic book stores where they won’t be so stingy with the free comics.

But I really love going to Kinokuniya, it reminds me so much of my high school days when I was openly into anime and manga. Sadly I’m feeling the burden of adulthood so my love of anime is a guilty pleasure that I can’t help indulging, so seeing everyone get so excited makes me a little nostalgic. To any hardcore fan out there, don’t give in; you’re going to have wonderful memories of these moments so don’t hesitate to embrace your nerdiness.

And of course, here’s my obligatory haul. My favourite was ‘Attack On Titans’. The story had depth and could stand on its own. But I liked the drawings in Buffy.

How eBooks lost their shine: ‘Kindles now look clunky and unhip’

Everyone read this article from The Guardian, which outlines the decline in e-book sales.

In a nutshell, despite publishers being convinced that paper would be obliterated off the face of this earth due to smartphones, or similar, books are still standing and not only that, the e-book sales are falling.

Honestly, but this doesn’t surprise me. If you love books, and I mean, really love books, you’re not just going to be satisfied with jusy reading the story itself and therefore, just be satisfied with any format the words come in. 

You want the whole package.

You want the experience of relaxing with a cup of tea. You want the feel of the paper in your hands. The smell of the books. The wear and tear that comes naturally when you re-read something over and over again.

And in the age of the Instagram, you want pretty pictures for your #bookstagram, like an artful lay of your current read next to some pop culture item, or a photo of your current bookshelf, where you can earn your internet karma. 

And you can’t do any of those things if you only have a kindle.

Asking this audience is a bit moot since as book bloggers, we all want hard copies and it’s obvious that we’ve expanded the hobby of reading from just only reading, but I’d like to know your opinions on e-books. I have never purchased an e-book since I so prefer a physical copy for the above reasons but I want to hear your thoughts!

What Books Do You Find Most Attractive In A Partner?

Is there a certain book that your future partner must love or cannot love? Would it be a deal breaker to you?

Finding out about someone’s book preferences is essentially a proxy for their intelligence and interests, so it doesn’t surprise me people take the question ‘What are your favourite books?’ so seriously on dating web sites.

They had an article on it in ‘ The Guardian‘ and some of the results were surprising. 

  • Like more women found reading to be an attractive hobby in men than men liked a woman reading. Which is so misogynistic that I had to put my phone down and look away for a bit to recover.
  • There were some interesting thoughts on the hypocrisy of so-called “feminist men” who never read a book written by a woman. And I agree, any man who claimed to be a feminist but read books where women were an accessory and not a critical force in the story was someone to watch out for.
  • Of course Harry Potter came up as a deal breaker (both as a lover and a hater). If Harry Potter didn’t come up, I wouldn’t have taken the results seriously.
  • Can we also stop referencing ‘Twilight’ and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ please? Men didn’t like it if women liked either of those books which was a huge surprise, so shocking. I am honestly so bored with the analytical pieces highlighting the sexism in these books, we get it now.

But this quote from Paul Farrell, sums up just how important reading, or hobbies, in general should be in a partner:

But it’s best not to be too snobby about it. It’s a strange thing that we place so much romantic stock in the shared love of a pastime that is really such a solitary activity. 

I wrote about this in an earlier post. Like it’s nice for my partner to like reading but it’s not a necessity; I just hope he understands and appreciates my love of reading. I don’t care what he reads, but I hope he’s got a varied interest.

Because if people get too hung up on certain books, it starts to feel pretentious. A friend insisted his perfect woman would love Les Miserablé and Anna Karenina as much as he did, which was impressive but a little eye-roll inducing after the eighth time.

To be fair, I’d be a little nervous if he was too into ‘American Psycho’ or if he thought that ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ was the modern day rock star, but all in all, I’m not as hung up about book preferences as I would be had you asked me five years ago.

Do you have any preferences? Firstly, does your partner need to love reading, and secondly what books do they need to love or cannot love?

The Impact Of Books On Emma Watson

For anyone who loves reading, the act of reading can represent a great deal more than just a hobby to pass the time so let’s have a look at what Emma Watson has to say on it, as quoted from her interview with Vanity Fair:

Aboveground, over coffee at a nearby café, Watson explains why she thinks reading is “sacred.” There’s the obvious, professional reason: Harry Potter was a literary sensation before becoming the blockbuster franchise that made her famous and a millionaire many times over. But books are also rooted in her deepest personal experiences. “Books gave me a way to connect with my father,” she says. “Some of my most precious and treasured moments…” She trails off and, unexpectedly for someone who is known for her composure, tears up. Her parents divorced when she was young. “I just remember him reading to me before bed and how he used to do all the different voices. I grew up on film sets, and books were my connection to the outside world. They were my connection to my friends back at school because if I was reading what they were reading we’d have something in common. Later in life, they became an escape, a means of empowerment, a friend I could rely on.”

I’m not going to talk about how she’s just like Hermione Granger OMG because that topic of discussion has been beaten to death (but my God she’s the living embodiment); I want to talk about what books can mean to people.

There’s just something about the act of reading that inspires an almost fervent attachment that few other hobbies can. It is a love that transcends generations, cultures, and economic status; it is an activity where if you ask a million people why they read, you get a million answers.

Emma is really just articulating one of those many reasons but it’s an emotional one. There’s the ocassional mention of using it as a means of escapism and to educate yourself further, but for the people who are capable of describing reading as “sacred” with a straight face, books have usually been the  at a critical juncture in their lives. 

Books don’t judge you, they don’t criticise you. They just give the right advice at the right time.

I won’t ask what reading means to you because if you’re part of the book bloggimg community, you’re not going to be able to answer that in a paragraph, so I’ll ask you this: has there been any book that stands out in your memory, as an integral part of your history and character development? 

For me, I’d pick ‘The Secret History by Donna Tartt’ because I’d read this when I was at university and it showed me just how complex friendships can be and just how little we really know about our friends until it comes down to the crunch.

A Fully Faceted Protagonist As Mused By Actor Tom Hardy

As some of you may know from previous posts, I follow gossip pretty closely and to be honest I don’t know why. I think it might be due to some lasting remnants from my teenage interests in journalism and the fact that I’m pretty snoopy (some say curious, I say snoopy) hence my love of crime fiction and my need to just know.

I was reading a Tom Hardy article the other day on Vulture and I happened across his opinions on why he seems to gravitate to the bad guy rather than the good guy.

MZS: I often hear actors say they have more fun playing the sidekick, the villain, the foil, or the eccentric who has one or two juicy scenes, because the good-hearted action hero or the romantic lead is never as interesting.

TH: By default, by default. Things happen to them; they don’t make things happen. There’s a laziness in storytelling whereby you present the character as a blank canvas and then you throw a lot of stimulus at the character and you just follow this blank canvas through various rooms where we meet the actually interesting people. But if you have your protagonist fully faceted in ambiguity and hypocrisy and the paradox of true heinous wrongness, combined with innate nobility, well, that’s more interesting to watch.Great Expectations, Oliver Twist.It’s all there. The Shakespeare tragedies. Or Marlowe with Faustus.

I know what he says is in relation to movies but the same aspect can be applied to any form of story-telling, even ones in print. 

And it is quite true now that I think about it. I’ve always been drawn to the villain or the anti-hero in any story because they presented the opportunities to challenge the status quo (whether for good or for bad) and make us consider a situation from mulitple aspects. They’re also driven by their own goals and histories and biases, usually radically different from the motivations of the protagonist because as Hardy said, they don’t have things happen to them. These characters usually join the story and the protagonist’s journey from their volition. 

They may be on the same path to justice and friendship and the triumph of good over evil, but maybe these characters are also there for the thrill of the fight, the allure of money, or something more complex I’ll leave it to the writers. It’s never just black and white for a protagonist with complexity and that’s part of the enduring appeal. 

The standard good guy may need to earn their stripes through the trials of the story but a fully faceted protagonist has already had their mettle tested, we just need to see if their principles can be upheld in the face of further conflict.