December Wrap Up: City of Brass, Frozen II and Star Wars Episode IX

Happy new year! I hope you’ve had a good last month of the decade (I know, mad!).

December has been a month of hot chocolates, baking, Christmas markets and festive work events. Our work Christmas party was 70s themed and involved a themed fancy dress competition – the children’s department chose to go as The Muppets and we won the fancy competition. It was a lot of fun!

I was working till Christmas Eve, but the 24th consisted of going in to work, having a lovely brunch and going home. The week I’ve had off was sorely needed though and I loved staying in, watching a lot of films and catching up on sleep which is what I love to do at this time of year. I only managed to read one book in December but it was a good one – The City of Brass and I just didn’t feel like reading anything afterwards (the life of a mood reader).

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The Reading Corner

The City of Brass – S.A. Chakraborty

City of Brass

A fantasy world based on Islam and set in the 18th Century Middle East, I adored this story. There are two threads that eventually meet – first of Nahri, who finds herself a target and must seek rescue in the djinn city of Daevabad with the aid of ancient djinn Dara. The second is of djinn Prince Alizayd as he deals with the politics of the city. The worldbuilding is fantastic in this book but my one criticism is that it is quite complicated and I struggled to keep up with the various meanings and uses of terminology throughout the text.

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The Cinema

Frozen II (2019)

Frozen II

~Spoiler to follow~

I enjoyed watching this but don’t think it made a lot of sense; there’s a natural direction the film can take but seems to deliberately ignore it. Opening with Elsa accidentally waking up four elemental spirits, the gang begin a a quest to free them. This involves the native Northuldra tribe who were betrayed by Elsa and Anna’s grandfather. Though it’s a little problematic to retcon in black characters only for them to be implicit in colonialism, I found it refreshing that this franchise chose to address the whitewashing of history, colonialism and reparations in a meaningful and accessible way.


Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)

Go Rogue

What can I say about the Mission Impossible films? They are always really fun to watch and something that I can enjoy with my family. In this chapter of the franchise, Ethan Hunt finds himself faced with the conspiracy that an underground organisation called the Syndicate, made up of deceased secret agents from around the world, actually exists. With the IMF disbanded, Hunt has to gather his friends and go rogue to prove its existence and stop it. Like previous films in the franchise, it is action packed, full of great fight sequences and of course signature Tom Cruise stunts.


Home Alone (1990)

Home Alone

This made it to my list of the few Christmas films that I actually like and, having not seen it for many a year, I really enjoyed watching it. When 8-year-old Kevin gets accidentally left behind for a family holiday, his dream of being home alone comes true. He enjoys himself at first; eating junk food, watching R-rated films, sledging down the stairs. Then their house becomes a target for two burglars and he has to defend it. He sets a number of ingenious traps throughout the house and it’s a lot of fun to watch the traps play out.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Star Wars IX

This film is a perfect example of what happens when you clearly don’t plan ahead. Much like Frozen II, I liked watching it, but the more I thought about it, the less it made sense. J.J. Abrams, having abandoned the franchise after Episode VII reclaims his place as director here and it is clear that he did not like Rian Johnson’s film, so he proceeds to ignore, retcon and basically rewrite Episode VIII. I felt like it made the previous films, with all their flaws, worse and I am particularly salty about the treatment of the first Asian-American main character.


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2018)

Jumanji

I love the original Jumanji and here folks, this is how you do a sequel; by taking the concept and building on it rather than rehashing the original. The board game finds its way to a new owner; a teenage boy who prefers video games. The magical Jumanji adapts, changing into a video game and the protagonists find themselves in the game world as avatars. I really enjoyed this film. Though the game itself could have been a little more imaginative, it pokes fun at game tropes well. Special shout out to Jack Black who plays a teen girl flawlessly.


The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

Lego Movie

This film is a lot of fun though a whole lot less meta than The Lego Movie. Batman’s character is of a rich, arrogant loner, who secretly wants to have a family but is afraid of doing so. There is a lot going on in this film, with very busy screens at all times but it’s a fun film. The plot revolves around the Joker tricking Batman into sending him to Superman’s Phantom Zone, only to escape with hundreds of supervillains. Batman then has to work with other people, and open his heart to save the day. Lighthearted and enjoyable.


Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Holy Grail

This was my first time watching this film and I honestly didn’t quite know what to expect. This is, in effect almost a series of sketches with a vague overarching theme of King Arthur seeking the Holy Grail as instructed by God. We watch the individual knights of the round table as they split up and attempt to find the Grail on their own from Arthur encountering the knights who say ‘Ni!’ to my favourite sequence, where Lancelot attempts to rescue a prince who is unwilling to get married. At times hilarious, at times random, a lighthearted and fun film.


Ingrid Goes West (2017)

Ingrid Goes West Poster

Ingrid Goes West opens with Aubrey Plaza, the titular Ingrid, in therapy after crashing a friend’s wedding. She moves back home, and falls back into the habit of instagram stalking, using her recent inheritance to move to LA and infiltrate influencer Taylor Sloane’s life. This film comments on the unhealthy behaviour of social media, of instagram versus reality but also of the shallow nature of the LA/instagram aesthetic. A dark comedy, the voyeuristic nature of Ingrid really appeals to the viewer and the ending reflects on on how much value we put on our online. Good, but not fantastic.

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TV

Riverdale (Season 1 and part of Season 2)

Riverdale

I finally caved and started watching Riverdale – hey, it’s been a while since I had a trashy CW show in my life and sometimes you need that. Though I watched this show for a season an a half, there was something that didn’t compel me to finish (though watch this space, I might come back to it). It wasn’t the murder plotline, nor the increasingly mad Southside Serpent tales (including that pole dance, yikes), I think I might just want to watch more quality TV? (I’m surprised too.) Side note: Archie’s character is the most frustrating part of the show.


The ABC Murders (Mini-series)

ABC Murders

This adaptation follows an older Hercule Poirot, no longer the famous detective that he was, shunned by the new, young Sergeant Yelland (played excellently by Rupert Grint). Poirot begins to receive letters, warning him of future murders that are somehow connected to him. First Alex Ascher in Andover then Betty Barnard at Bexhill. The premise has a compelling hook and is a great mystery however, as with many a BBC adaptation, this is just too long. At three episodes, this adaptation is bloated with the inclusion of a backstory for Poirot, adding a grim backdrop to an already dark tale.


The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (Season 1)

People vs OJ

This historic case was such a compelling watch. True crime is fascinating and I think part of why it’s so interesting is that with a lot of unsolved cases, you will never know what really happened.I didn’t know much about the trial to begin with and the twists in the tale came as real surprises to me. Though the show tries to present a two-sided story without it deciding on whether OJ did it, reading up on the trial confirms that it is unlikely to have been someone else – especially as this case was never solved after he was acquitted.

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How was your December? Did you spend the time watching films like me? 

 

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