dimecres, 31 de juliol de 2013

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games 2)

I really liked The Hunger Games, but I missed a more extended explanation of Panem and its society. And Catching Fire gives us that. In the first part, at least.



The second book of this trilogy starts off in District 12 some time after Katniss and Peeta have survived the 74th Hunger Games against all odds. Now they have to tour the other 11 districts and the Capitol as victors, which is an extra challenge for Katniss, as her idea to use nightlock to commit suicide was the sparkle that could start the fire of rebellion in the districts. So President Snow basically tells her she needs to stop any ideas of rebellion from catching if she doesn't want a lot of people to die. Plus, it's Quarter Quell, a special edition of the Hunger Games that takes place every 25 years, and in this particular games, the victors of past games become tributes. Will Katniss and Peeta survive their second visit to the arena?

The book is divided in two big parts: the first part shows us what happens after Katniss and Peeta make it safely out of the arena. It was interesting to see the rest of Panem, all the other districts, the Capitol itself, the people, the reactions to the victors... And the political tension between President Snow and Katniss. The second part takes us back to the arena, and you cannot really skip that but I'd say it's the most "boring" part in the sense that it feels like a repetition of the events in the first book. However, it's important because it leads to the events in Mockingjay, so there you have it.

Catching Fire is all about politics and Katniss realizing her own feelings not just towards Peeta and Gale, but towards the world around her. Involuntarily, Katniss becomes a symbol for rebellion and for hope. The whole tension in the interactions between Snow and Katniss added up to all the violence that she and Peeta encounter while travelling around Panem make the first part of this book the best part of the whole trilogy, in my opinion. They are forced to open their eyes and choose between playing along or fighting against it. As a side note, I also liked to see the contrast between the poor Districts and the opulence in the Capitol.

A not so positive aspect was the repetition of the Hunger Games. It was interesting in the sense that we get to know new, very likable characters that will later be of great importance, but the hours spent in the arena were a bit boring and redundant for my taste. Maybe that's the reason why a lot of people think this is the weakest of all three books?

All in all, Catching Fire is, in my opinion, the reason why everybody needs to read The Hunger Games trilogy. It must be read together with Mockingjay (don't wait for a whole year to read the last part, like I did) in order to get a more complete picture.

Here is the official trailer for the Catching Fire movie, which premieres on November 22nd, 2013.

diumenge, 28 de juliol de 2013

Jo, jo, jo... i Shakespeare (Plötzlich Shakespeare)

Com que el vaig llegir en català, la crítica és en català. De l'autor, David Safier, ja n'havia llegit Maleït karma i Jesús me quiere. Totes dues són novel·les fàcils, divertides, ideals per a l'estiu. De fet, vull veure l'adaptació cinematogràfica d'aquesta darrera, Jesus liebt mich, però no la trobo per internet ni recordo que l'estrenessin als cinemes austríacs (creuar la frontera expressament per anar al cine no se m'ha passat mai pel cap perquè és un merder per tornar a casa, després). De fet, potser m'atreveixo a llegir alguna de els altres novel·les de l'autor en l'original alemany. 

Jo, jo, jo... i Shakespeare ens presenta, un cop més, una protagonista neuròtica, amb tocs de Bridget Jones i de la Marie i la Kim dels llibres anteriors de l'autor, fins i tot de la Lolle de Berlín, Berlín (sèrie de la qual David Safier era guionista, per cert). La Rosa, en aquest cas, s'autodefineix com un gran esterotip de les pel·lícules romàntiques. És conscient que l'estem comparant amb els casos esmentats anteriorment. 


La Rosa està enamorada del Jan, creu que és l'amor de la seva vida. L'únic problema és que la relació es va trencar quan la Rosa es va embolicar amb un company de feina i el Jan s'està a punt de casar amb l'Olivia, una amiga de tota la vida i també companya de feina. Així i tot, la Rosa creu que encara pot recuperar-lo, i per això es deixa hipnotizar per un mag que li explica que pot fer-la anar a la seva vida anterior, de la qual només podrà tornar quan descobreixi el secret de l'amor veritable. I ja us podeu imaginar quina sorpresa se n'endú la nostra protagonista quan es desperta al Londres del segle XVII al cos de William Shakespeare.

M'agrada el "realisme màgic" (si és que en podem dir així) humorístic de David Safier, malgrat que els personatges, sobretot les protagonistes femenines, semblen trets d'una comèdia romàntica qualsevol protagonitzada per la Meg Ryan (què se'n deu haver fet, per cert?) i, per tant, són tirant a plans i previsibles. La gràcia d'aquestes obres és observar el creixement o la maduració de les protagonistes, de senyores desorientades perquè es creien el que diu la revista Cosmopolitan sobre l'amor a dones que han descobert que els prínceps blaus poden ser homes normals i corrents.

La vessant humorística és la que té un pes més destacat en aquesta novel·la. Aquesta vegada, l'autor, sense deixar del tot de banda el tema de les reencarnacions (que ja havia tocat a Maleït karma), ens porta de viatge pel temps a una Anglaterra isabelina que no necessàriament s'acosta a la realitat de l'època i, a través de la Rosa, ficada al cos de William Shakespeare, descobrim quin és el secret de l'amor veritable. És un bon llibre per llegir a l'estiu, sense preocupacions ni arguments complicats. Ah, i no intenteu entendre com es va passar de Plötzlich Shakespeare (que es tradueix per una cosa així com "de cop i volta, Shakespeare") als títols en català i, pitjor encara, en castellà (Yo, mi, me... contigo. De veritat que pensaven vendre, amb un títol així, tan farcit de pronoms?).


dijous, 18 de juliol de 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

Normally, around February and March, right before the Oscar Awards ceremony, I like to watch as much of the nominated films (especially those nominated for Best Picture). However, going to the cinema weekly is not that compatible with my very tight budget, so I sometimes wait until I can stream them online with decent quality or rent them or sometimes even get on DVD for an acceptable price.

I watched the trailer for Silver Linings Playbook when it was still in cinemas and Jennifer Lawrence was already the proud owner of an Oscar for Best Actress. I wasn't that convinced but I was curious to see if Jennifer Lawrence deserved the award, so I finally saw it last weekend.



Pat spends eight months in a mental hospital, diagnosed with a bipolar disorder after he beat his wife's lover when he caught the two of them together in the shower. He tries to lead a normal life, living at his parents' home, in order to get Nikki, his wife, back. Enter Tiffany, widowed sister-in-law of a friend of Pat's, who offers to help him by giving Nikki a letter if he will be her dance partner at a dance competition.

I think we cannot classify this movie as a drama nor as a romantic comedy. It has a bit of everything. Slice of life? The main thing is that it works: the characters, with their flaws and everything, are quite well built. Their reactions to the situations they find themselves in are natural.

Did it deserve the Best Picture award? No. Is it fair that Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress? I can't judge that because I haven't seen all the other nominees, but I wasn't that impressed. Don't get me wrong, all actors are great in this film, but I think the film is, overall, overrated. However, it's a good watch, it has funny moments, it has touching moments, it might even get you thinking about life and love.

dissabte, 13 de juliol de 2013

Dragons, barbarians, beasts, and other magical creatures

In today's entry we're going to look at five animated films that I've watched this year (some for the first time, one for the thousandth time): Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, How to train your dragon, Despicable Me, and Ronal the Barbarian.


Beauty and the Beast


Let the video tell you what the story is about (and please enjoy the music):



Although this movie is more than 20 years old by now, it's a Disney classic. Actually, from the so-called Disney renaissance of the 1990's, I think it's the one that's grown old the best and, no doubt, my favorite. The characters (except the prince's design as a human -eww-), the music (oh, the music!), even the animation, are great. I think all kids should see this.


Tangled


Disney's first 3D princess? The story is based on the fairy tale of Rapunzel, the princess that was locked in a tower and could be rescued when she let her very long hair down and a prince climbed up the tower. In this version, the prince is more of a thief/con-artist and Rapunzel is a big-eyed naive creature that, like all Disney princesses, wishes for more. It's a cute movie altogether and the sidekicks are pretty funny, but the romance and especially the songs are meh.


How to train your dragon



Hiccup is the son of one of the bravest warriors of his dragon-killing Viking tribe, but he is more of a weakling. He actually always screws up whenever he tries to help if dragons attack the village. The only way he thinks he can prove himself worthy of his clan is by killing one of the most powerful and dangerous dragons. But he is not the only one surprised to find out that maybe dragons are not as evil as the vikings have always thought. 

The movie is sweet and enjoyable but predictable, it's been done a thousand times before. Still, it's worth watching.


Despicable me


Gru is a supervillain, but his reputation is going down because of Vector, so he designs a plan to steal the moon. And for such purpose he adopts three little girls who will not accept that Gru misses his duties as a foster parent and their after-school activities.

Why hadn't I seen this before, you ask? Because I was afraid it would be like the Shrek sequels, and boy was I wrong. The world needs more Gru. Enough said.



Ronal the Barbarian



Ronal doesn't look a lot like a barbarian, he's not strong and overmanly... So he's considered a loser amongst his fellow tribemen and women. His chance to prove that he's as good as anyone else comes when all of the barbarians are captured by an evil wizzard.

First of all: this is an animated film but it's not for little children, this is not your Danish version of How to train your dragon. Barbarians wearing strings, sex-hungry amazones, ambiguous sexual orientations... Not as predictable as it seemed at first sight.


dimecres, 10 de juliol de 2013

"The Truman Show" and "Some like it hot"

"Please don't kill me" is my default answer when people wonder how come in my 25 years of life I haven't watched some movies that are considered all-time classics. But I'm trying to catch up, so I can scratch two comedies off my list of pending movies: The Truman Show and Some like it hot.


The Truman Show


Truman Burbank lives an ordinary life in the small Seahaven Island. He is unaware, however, that he is being watched by millions of people all around the world, as his life is actually a reality show and Seahaven Island is actually a huge film set. He starts wondering if something is wrong when mysterious things start to happen around him and people start acting weird, especially after he sees a man who looks a lot like his father, who drowned at sea when Truman was a kid (also, since this accident Truman is terrified of water and he cannot leave the island because of his phobia). And then there's the mysterious Lauren or Sylvia. Who is she really and what was she talking about when Truman was a college student?

In 2013 there probably are no TV channels left that do not air some sort of reality show, whether it be a Big Brothel Brother kind of thing or a talent show. It seems like people are willing to have their moment of fame and glory on the little screen no matter what the cost is. But they are conscious of it and do it after accepting the terms and conditions.

That is not the case with Truman Burbank. His life was destined for TV since the moment the producer chose him, an unwanted child, as his experimental subject. I'm pretty sure there are lots of articles on the ethics of doing that (the film was released in 1998, they've had 15 years to say a lot on the topic) and, despite the fact that The Truman Show is a comedy, there is a certain drama to the whole situation in the background. If you haven't seen it yet, please stop reading and go watch this movie.


Some like it hot


Joe and Jerry are two musicians in a big band in prohibition-era Chicago, in 1929. One night they witness the murders of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and they leave the city towards Florida desguised as women musicians of an all-girls band. There, they become friends with the hot Sugar Kane and they (obviously) fall for her. Can they run away from the gangsters and manage not to be discovered in their disguises?

Although I was a bit confused with the gangster part at the beginning (and I didn't really know about St. Valentine's Day Massacre, I read that afterwards in IMDB), I really liked this comedy. I can understand now why Marilyn Monroe was so popular and why she has also been considered a bimbo (she really nailed the role of the bimbo). The cross-dressing was funny (I still wonder how Josephine and Daphne were never caught xD), and so was the resolution. A very enjoyable film overall.

dilluns, 8 de juliol de 2013

Kobato

Hace tiempo que no hago reseñas manga, así que hoy os presento una obra "menor" de las CLAMP, un regreso a las magical girls y al romance... ¿o no?


HISTORIA

Kobato Hanato tiene una misión: cada vez que haga feliz a un humano conseguirá llenar un poco más una botella que le permitirá cumplir su deseo. La única condición es que no puede enamorarse, pero eso no será nada fácil en cuanto conozca a Fujimoto.


OPINIÓN

Eché un vistazo al manga por scans cuando anunciaron que Norma lo iba a publicar y me recordó en cierta manera a Card Captor Sakura: una niña mona e inocente, un guardián bajo la forma de un peluche, poderes mágicos... Pero aquí terminan las similitudes, pues Kobato no tiene ni idea de cómo funciona el mundo humano y mete la pata cada dos por tres. Ioryogi tampoco es Kero. Lo encontré insoportable. Hay algún cameo de otros mangas de las autoras que hacen gracia, pero nada relevante excepto quizás Kohaku, el ángel protagonista de Wish, que sirve para que la trama avance y para meter mini-clases de filosofía parecidas a las de Chobits.

La historia de amor es rebuscada, como debe ser en un manga de CLAMP, y las historias paralelas tienen potencial, pero todo me sabe a poco, como si la editorial hubiera dicho que tenían que cortar la historia de golpe. Todo es muy confuso para mi gusto y el manga en general es prescendible. De hecho, al cabo de una hora de terminar el último tomo casi no me acordaba de qué iba. Sólo recomendable para los fans hardcore de CLAMP, pero creo que incluso esos se sentirán decepcionados. Aunque digo yo que a la gente le debe gustar, porque existe un anime de la serie...

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