Saturday, August 4

Book: The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu Click for more info

Despite having heard loads about The Three-Body Problem, this book was not what I was expecting. Firstly, it was a more raw brand of science fiction that relies more on human interaction than technology (even though it does have lots of that, particularly toward the end). Secondly, as a translated book it brought with it a vibe from the original Chinese language, a more to the point and staccato way of presenting plot and story development. In fact my immediate thought was how the book paralleled the Chinese movies I've seen.

That said, after getting past the disorientation caused by the mismatching of expectations I did find The Three-Body Problem to be quite the engaging read. The premise was gripping, the science just about plausible and by the end the plot was poised to pay off handsomely during the next two books. And since both have been translated, they are exactly what I'll be reading next.

Thursday, August 2

Film: Mission: Impossible - Fallout Click for more info

In the run up to the release of the sixth installment in the Mission Impossible film series a few of us spent the last few weeks catching up on the five previous films. This was useful for three reasons: firstly, it got us all on board the hype train; secondly, it allowed me to appreciate the development of the series over the 20+ years (yikes!) it's been around (as well as recounting just how bad the second film was); and thirdly, seeing as how Fallout is a direct continuation to Rogue Nation, it helped us to figure out exactly what was going on here.

Fallout itself was great. All two and a half hours were packed with action, a decent enough plot and brilliant set pieces which flowed into each other so well that that it was difficult to tell when each began. The supporting cast was second only to good ol' Tom doing his thing, and although its easy to criticise the film as being obvious it did it all so well that it didn't matter.

So yes, definitely one to watch... just make sure you have a look at Rogue Nation (heck you could even pick up 1, 3 and 4 too) before you go.

Saturday, July 28

Spun Click for more info

Almost fifteen years after the London bombing, the questions surrounding London Muslim identity and loyalty and accountability have become almost as cliched as the answers given in response to them. On paper then, Spun seems to be stuck in the past, discussing things that most people would have been over by now. Surely it wouldn't be able to generate more than an eye roll or two? And yet, it has not been since Shades that have I enjoyed such a tight and expressive brown Muslim play.

For sure, there wasn't much new ground covered and little novelty here. The characters were plucked from the standard identikit starting selection, with their respective development following the tried and tested exclusively dual paths of spiritual identity and secular integration. As I mentioned above, a lot of this had been seen before and so those coming to Spun for novelty or a final twist would have left sorely disappointed.

But where Spun really shone was the performances themselves. Aasiya Shah's Aisha in particular was able to hold me firmly in her grasp throughout (which, considering she was probably five when the bombing happened is impressive in itself), with Humaira Iqbal portraying a solid Safa next to her. Good actors always shine in plays with a sparse number of props and sets, and the two here were bright throughout.

The third talent, in the form of the writer of the play Rabiah Hussain, was also something worth talking about. Some things jarred a little, others fell flat and in its conclusion the discussion wasn't as deep as I would have hoped fifteen years of contemplation would bring... but ultimately all those were minor flaws in a solid and clean script that didn't confuse its delivery with a need to be too clever. It was funny when it needed to be and touching when it mattered. It didn't need bells and whistles to make its point, and was better for that.

Overall then Spun was 80 minutes of straightforward, if not challenging, joy and if anything serves as a poignant recounting of what many London Muslims went through over a decade ago (and perhaps still face today). Although it doesn't really ask new questions or give new answers, it didn't need to. As a historical account of something a lot of us went through, sometimes its just as effective to tell good stories well.

Saturday, July 21

Food: Mahdi Click for more info

These days travelling any further than a 4 mile radius for food feels like a massive risk to take. That's saying less about the quality of the options and more about the number of them - we certainly are spoilt here in London, particularly in the east. So it was with trepidation that we set out to grab dinner at Mahdi, all the way in exotic Hammersmith... especially as the website almost deliberately painted it as just another Persian.

Well in this case the distance was worth it. Mahdi topped the marks both in quality of the food but also novelty - there was plenty I hadn't seen before. The staple Kubide and Juju were generous and as good as they get, while the more adventurous pilau dishes (one served with neck) was more than enough to keep us interested.

On the downside the place was busy and service suffered as a result. But at £15 per head (plus petrol costs) Mahdis easily surpassed expectations and has cemented itself as the place to go if I ever fancy eating in Hammersmith in the future.

Wednesday, July 18

Film: Skyscraper Click for more info

There comes a point when things really do become silly. This film far passes that point, taking us to a place that's so silly and laugh out loud fun you can't bring yourself to admit that it's actually quite a bad film. How can it be? I'm still chuckling to myself just thinking about it.

Of course we came to see Johnson do his thing and on that level there was just about enough to fulfill. But the junk that came with it... hoo boy. What little integrity I have forbids me to recommend this film, but please do feel free to make it your secret shame once it's released for home viewing.

Thursday, July 12

Food: Icco Click for more info

Ah, Icco. If you ever went to university in London you'll know this place well - I can't actually ever remember it not being there in some shape or form.

The premise is simple: cheap pizza of an expected quality. And while it's easy to admit that an Icco pizza isn't the best, having a bill of under £8 per head for a pizza each is a win in itself.

Things may have changed decades after Icco first started, and options are even more numerous now. But you know what you get with Icco, and more importantly what you'll have to give to get it, and that kind of reliable relationship has value in itself. Oh and that it has a mosque next door just adds to the proposition.

Thursday, June 28

Food: Red Camel

Although I didn't have much to eat tonight what I did (and in what is possibly the biggest crime in restaurant reviewing, I can't actually remember what it was called) was wonderful enough for me to right about it. From what my companions ordered Red Camel seems to promise good solid home food in a comfortable, albeit small, seating area. It's the kind of place to while away a lazy summer's evening... which is exactly what we did.

There's no website or marketing here, so a web search might be lacking in results. Red Camel is situated at 552 High Road Leytonstone, and is well worth a visit under the right requirements.

If I do get to go back I'll be sure to update this review.

Thursday, June 21

Film: Hereditary Click for more info

I went into Hereditary blind, pretty much the best way to watch any creepy scary movie. That might have been why I enjoyed it as much as I did - not knowing the premise allowed the unfolding mystery to accentuate the horror. That said, the film did seem to suffer from a bit of confusion as it struggled to make up its mind as to what it wanted it to be: was this a psychological thriller? A straight up monster flick? OR something perhaps a little more supernatural and spooky? Hereditary manages to be all three, but not always to its benefit.

There's no double that the movie was more effective on the big screen, and yet I can't quite bring myself to recommend it past a DVD release. Perhaps its one to watch if you want a good scare and have nothing else to see.

Monday, June 18

Film: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Click for more info

I think the biggest flaw in what would otherwise have been a great film was the setting. Although the trailers show a large part of the film as being situated on an island, the main meat happens on American Soil in a mansion.

It may sound like a minor thing but it was enough to dramatically change the game - the plot, set pieces and threats all have to pivot on being inside rather than outside, and in my view the whole premise suffered for it.

That said Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is still the place to go for dinosaurs, so there is that.

Wednesday, May 16

Film: Deadpool 2 Click for more info

The first Deadpool was clearly genius in all it wanted to do: it was satirical, audacious, fun and showed exactly what could be achieved when filmmakers trust their audiences. It was also novel for all these reasons (and a few more).

Deadpool 2 is more of the same... except for the novelty. And it appears, for me at least, that novelty was part of the reason I liked the first film so much. That's not to say I didn't enjoy Deadpool 2; I just didn't find it as sublime as the first installment. On the other hand, for those who are exactly looking for more of the same, Deadpool 2 delivers in spades.

Oh and I'll also throw a nod to Zazie Beetz, whose portrayal of Domino was my highlight of the film. Recommended.

Friday, May 11

The Adriatic Coast, Day Six: Split

As it was Friday, the plan was always to base today's activities around Jummah. Due to the locality of our accommodation we went even further than this; we were in and out of the apartment for most of the day, mopping up the remainder of our souvenir shopping, sightseeing and prayers.

Split's Old Town was of course old, although uniquely a large part of it was made up of the remainder of Diocletian's Palace... something you don't really appreciate till you've walked around the complex.


There was definitely more of an eclectic mix of architecture and age in and around Split's Old Town. It seems that a lot of the area, in particular the docks, have been well maintained and even modernised, although the effort made to keep the vibe unspoilt was clear and appreciated.


After a brief interlude at home we headed to the western part of central Split to walk up Park Marjan where we were treated with some lovely night views of the town.


The day ended perfectly with us chilling at home over card games and banana milkshakes. The whole day was the perfect ending to what seemed like a month's worth of trip rolled into 6 days. In fact I was actually surprised that we were able to relax as much as we did - it's another sign of how sometimes paradoxically leaving things unplanned provides the space to expand in the way you want to at the time, instead of against a previously thought well laid schedule. Its arguable whether we would have seen as much as we had this trip if we had planned more than the single night that we did.

Thursday, May 10

The Adriatic Coast, Day Five: Hvar

With the remainder of our trip now anchored in Split, there was little uncertainty as to how we were to spend today. Making sure we took the first ferry to Hvar, we got there in good time to make the most of our only trip to the island. After pottering about for the first hour or so, we rented a speedboat to take us island hopping. We went for the pricier option which in hindsight was a bit unnecessary; the sights that could be reached by the more powerful boat didn't really justify the cost or time spent on the sea.


Still we saw some Red Cliffs and visited the islands of Jerolim and Milni where we had an excellent tuna steak for lunch.


After making it back to Hvar Town there wasn't really much time do do anything other than to explore the locality more, so I took an hour or so climbing up to the fort for some elevated views of the port town. A visit to Stari Grad may have been possible given more time - perhaps if we hadn't spent so long on the speedboat.


After this, we were pretty much done. In what seemed like the whole trip so far finally catching up with us, we found a decent cafe on the docks where we planted ourselves while waiting for the ferry back to Split. I suspect for many of us the trip was over and it was pretty much silently agreed that tomorrow would be a well deserved chill day.

Wednesday, May 9

The Adriatic Coast, Day Four: Exploring Bosnia

After spending the early morning mopping up a few Mostar souvenirs and trinkets, we left Mostar for Blagaj, the first of three sights we had planned to see this day. Blagaj and the next stop were actually recommended to us by a friend we made during the previous night's evening prayers - it was again another example of how good things can come from giving yourself the space to be serendipitous.


Apart from the quaint natural beauty, one of the highlights in Blagaj is the Dervish House, the only one in Bosnia (although apparently this ceased to be true as of the day we visited after the opening of another in Sarajevo).

The second unplanned visit was to the village of Pocitelj. Despite its small size, it was hard to miss due to it being situated on a steep bank of a bending river - it was quite the magical approach. We spent a couple of hours or so exploring the village and its forts, mosques and towers - compared to that in Kotor, the hikes were pretty accessible.


Unlike the previous two sights, Kravica Falls was always on the list of things to see. Although we reached there in good time, we spent some of it in the car waiting for the rain to stop. Rain is usually a good thing when viewing waterfalls, but after Blagaj and Pocitelj Kravica for me was the third of three very good sights we saw that day.


After Kravica we made our way out of the country and back to Croatia and our final destination of Split. We caught the coastal route from Baska Voda, which although taking around 45 mins longer than the highway did provide us with some decent views of the Adriatic Coast - time was against us otherwise I would have loved to have stopped off in one of the towns for a bit. As it stood though we reached Split in decent enough time to return our car that day - even though we have two days to go the road tripping part of the holiday was now officially over.

Tuesday, May 8

The Adriatic Coast, Day Three: Mostar

We started early to give ourselves enough time for the hike up to the Castle Of San Giovanni back in Kotor. It was a leisurely trail, even though we took the back (and free) exit to get to the top. The elevated views of the bay were worth the exercise alone, but it was also fun to scramble through the castle ruins. The whole thing took us around 3 hours.


This pretty much ended our time here in the Bay of Kotor, and it was with a relatively heavy heart that we left for our next destination - the bay is definitely a place one could spend time just chilling in. Montenegro itself seemed to agree; it was actually not that easy to exit the country when we found that we had to pay a 5 euro fee (whether this was for the use of the road or some kind of departure tax we're still not sure). With no ATMs nor card facility we had to (over) pay in Croatian kuna which left a bit of a bitter taste. Something to bear in mind if you're planning to cross the border.

When we eventually did cross, we found ourselves in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Technically however we were in Republika Srpska, a separate entity from what is known as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. If this sounds confusing then it is - it's probably a good idea to enter the Balkans with some knowledge of the land and not in ignorance like we did. Nevertheless since our first stop was in Stolac (in the Federation), we just drove on through.

Stolac itself was a bit of a ghost town, eerie in its emptiness and still all too clear signs of conflict. The plan was to stop to check out some Ottoman architecture, but as a group we thought the time would be best spent getting to Mostar in good time. So on we went.

Mostar itself is nice at night. It has a very intimate and romantic feel to it - not least because of the rebuilt old bridge.


Of course the other appeal was in how, unlike the Republika, the Federation is Muslim friendly. We got to offer both evening prayers in congregation in the oldest and most central mosque, and I'm also not ashamed to say that we had our best local meal of the trip so far this evening.

Again, it might have been another place to have spent more than a single night in... but by bedtime we had all decided that we would have to move on the next day.

Monday, May 7

The Adriatic Coast, Day Two: The Bay of Kotor

With a blank slate for the day, we headed north to cover the Adriatic coast up to Ston. This really was a case of the journey being more important than the destination, with the drive giving us some fantastic views of the coast.


On the way back we decided to drive off the beaten path and stopped for a while in Slano, paddling in the sea while taking a break. Once again it was a tiny moment that more than justified the shredding of any plan.


Backtracking all the way to Dubrovnik, we continued south until we crossed the border into Montenegro. The Bay of Kotor is the main feature here, and the drive around such a peculiar shape was an experience in itself.

After settling into our home in Dobrota we headed to Perast for an easy yet late lunch, taking the time to also pay a visit to Our Lady of the Rocks. It was the epitome of a lazy afternoon.


Since the night was still relatively young, we ended our long day by driving to Muo for some night views of Kotor old town and fort.


Considering the lazy pace we had covered a lot today, and for me it was a reassuring sign of how varied and dynamic the next few days would be.

Sunday, May 6

The Adriatic Coast, Day One: Dubrovnik

Full disclosure: the title for this series of posts covering my time in and around Croatia was not set until the holiday was done. This was because we didn't actually know what we would be doing until we got there. That in turn was due to the relative geography of the travelling group (two of whom were from across the pond), a general lack of drive in the planning stage and, crucially, the fact that researching this particular region opens up a huge Pandora's Box of activities and sights that I personally found impossible to incorporate into an agreed plan.

So instead, we decided to book our open jaw flight, our car for the next few days as well as our first night's stay (here in Dubrovnik) and see how it went. In my personal experience "winging it" generally ends up with a holiday to remember... but it largely depends on the flexibility and agility of the group travelling.

Our first day was easily decided: we landed in Dubrovnik at 10am, opening up the real possibility of completing our time in the town on the same day. After settling into our accommodation, we headed out to the Old Town (where we figured would be the meat of our tourist activities). On the way we took the cable car up the adjacent hill for some decent views of the old city, most of which were seen not from the cable car complex itself but further down off track from the side of a cliff.


After we were done with the exterior views, we entered the Old Town itself for a spot of lunch. This was similar to other old towns you can find across Europe, if a bit more busy and perhaps commercial - I often found myself wondering what the town would have been like pre-Game of Thrones. That said, it was fun walking around trying to spot as many scenes from the show as we could (resulting in us chanting "shame" to each other for the whole day as well as what I can only predict will be for the rest of the holiday).


Still, the group seemed in agreement that we were done with Dubrovnik and the decision was made to leave the town the next day. Knowing that we wouldn't have another day here, a couple of us decided to squeeze in a trip to the other side of the peninsula for beach walks and sunset - this side was much less busy and much more chilled out that what we found in the Old Town, and it was a welcome change.

After a pizza dinner we randomly decided to drive back up the hill we visited via cable car earlier in the day - the night drive up winding roads was just about justified by the night views of the Old Town and the wider Dubrovnik. It was a nice intimate end to a busy day, and one that I felt had set the tone for the rest of the trip going forward.

Saturday, April 28

Film: Avengers: Infinity War Click for more info

The most amazing thing about Infinity War is in fact how they managed to actually pull it off. In all other contexts and attempts it would have been impossible to create a film that sufficiently gathers the momentum and energy of its previous 18(!) films... But here we are. But aside from that feat the film itself was a joy to behold, both in terms of entertainment and technical accomplishment. I don't think I've seen a single film so fun, energetic, emotional, pumped, well produced, balanced, acted or directed before.

The only real flaw is that as a standalone movie it probably won't make a lot of sense. This has to be watched as the 19th episode of an epic, but I'm guessing for most people that's not really a flaw at all.

Absolutely stunning and sublime, Infinity War gets nothing less than an utmost recommendation. I'm still buzzing just thinking about it, and I expect that to last till my next viewing of the movie.

Wednesday, April 18

Film: Rampage Click for more info

Ah, Rampage. It's one of the first games I remember playing with excitement - the characters! The destruction! The ability to play with three players! So yes, I will fully admit I went into this with some expectation of a nostalgia fix.

But it turns out that Rampage manages to balance precisely on that fine line between flagrant fanservice and having a decent identity of its own - yes homages were paid, but the good (and bad) of the film were wholly owned by it.

Other than that, Rampage is an action film with CGI and Dwayne Johnson, so you don't actually need a review to tell you what to expect. It provides exactly what is promised, and so whether that's something you'll want or not is for you to decide. I for one really liked it so it receives a hearty recommendation from me.

Tuesday, April 10

Film: A Quiet Place Click for more info

At 90 minutes long, A Quiet Place is a blessed example of efficiency in film-making. There's not much fat in a film that is already lean - along with the plot device that means there's not much talking means that the film has to rely on some really great production and depth to carry itself.

And it really does. There really isn't much to complain about here. I was on the edge of my seat for most of it, the story flowed at a steady pace from the start, and by the end of it all I was so invested in the family around which the film is centered that it all become more than just another scary film for me.

Definitely recommended.

Monday, April 9

Book: Caliban's War, James S. A. Corey Click for more info

A marked improvement on the first book, Caliban's War brought me some of the things I felt were missing from the world of a well explored solar system. We now have politicking, some out there science, dogfights and even a bit of character progression. It's still not perfect science fiction, but if it continues on the trajectory it does promise to be something great.

In the meantime I have watched the first book's worth of the TV show (which perversely took me to the middle of season 2), and it turns out that my hope that the visualisation of a book would be better entertainment was once again misplaced; although a decent enough show it did feel a little bit rushed and patchworked. It remains to be seen if it can pull the same trajectory as the books so far do.

Wednesday, April 4

Film: Ready Player One Click for more info

I wrote about my thoughts of the book here, making a bold claim that by virtue of its medium a movie would fix all the issues I had with the novel. I actually happened to be right for once - most of the flaws had been fixed as visuals trumped expectations of depth. What I was implicitly wrong about however was that the movie would be a better experience overall - as while it did fix the issues with the source material it brought just as many of its own to the table. The result is a film that will not be the classic it deserved to be, but more of a cash in for the millennials.

Kudos to the makers for not relying on the fanservice too much, but that which was there wasn't as relevant to the plot as it had been in the book. It appeared that it had been included only for the reference hunters ("runters"?) amongst us, and not to further the story. As a result, the film lost most of excellent "referential depth" which made the book so enjoyable. The moralising was dumbed down (and as a result felt a little patronising) while no space was left for any of the characters to develop much - I didn't really care for much of them.

There were also pacing issues, with none of the challenges seeming that challenging, and the whole thing kind of ends a little too quickly.

Like the book, Ready Player one is probably not a movie I'm going to watch more than I need to - it'll probably get a rewatch on home release but that's about it. It's pretty disappointing to consider what a missed opportunity it turned out to be.

Tuesday, April 3

Film: Cake Click for more info

Apart from a few shaky plot developments, Cake was actually quite good. It was a bit of a Kapoor and Sons lite, exploring the reunion of a family taken apart (and put back together again) by tragedy and deceit. The excellent acting came second to the production, with some of the most mature cinematography taking centre stage, and overall the story was a solid one.

There are flaws however: some mild schizophrenia from some of the characters and some slight pacing and timing issues - these led to the aforementioned shaky plot developments, but overall you would be able to look past them if you wanted to.

If this is a sign of Pakistani film-making to come then I can't wait. For now though Cake gets a firm recommendation in my book.

Wednesday, March 21

Film: Tomb Raider Click for more info

Despite the rebooted games being brilliant, Tomb Raider (the film) fails to live up to the expectation and standards set. There are various pacing and plot issues, and the film suffers as a whole due to this lack of depth and balance. This all in spite of the valiant efforts by the sublime Alicia and co to fight through with their acting skills.

It remains to be seen whether the franchise as a whole will do any better, but for now Tomb Raider is one to avoid.

Saturday, March 17

BAHfest London 2018 Click for more info

I attended this year's BAHfest in during a period where I've actually been pretty hermit-like, thus is the allure of the nerdy fun event hosted by Imperial one a year. This is the third time it's been in London, and has cemented itself as a must-date in my diary. Today's show was of no disappointment.

Tonight we were told of how setting of a nuke might be the best way to combat global warming, how the black death is directly responsible for how bad we are at romantic relationships, why and how we should prevent attacks on sharks, why the moon is so obnoxious (and how to remedy that), the importance of thinning the atmosphere (via mass and gravity reduction) in order to reduce the greenhouse effect and finally why symmetry is so important in evolution (which is actually probably true but not in the way it was presented tonight). Oh and also why cuteness is a genealogical disease.

There were a few repeat presenters (no bad thing), and the quality of the laughs and presentations were clearly on an upward trend. I'm not sure how I feel about that - for me part of the charm of BAHfest is the grassroots amateurishness of it all - but so far there's no sign of any of the geekiness dumbing down.

On to next year then!

Friday, March 16

Food: Yard Sale Pizza Click for more info

The thing about pizza is that it's pretty easy to get right. That's both a good thing (it's hard to get it wrong) but also a bad thing (it's hard to make it special). And so is the case here at Yard Sale Pizza, where, although the food was great, there was no real apparent reason to visit them over any other pizza place. In fact I would cite not being halal as pretty criminal given the vicinity.

So yes, a recommendation of sorts, but only if you happen to be passing and crave pizza.

Thursday, March 8

Food: P.F. Chang's Click for more info

Although I always struggle to answer questions about my favourite cuisine, I generally have no problem saying what doesn't rock my boat. It's not that I dislike Chinese, but more that that I find it really difficult to get excited about it. And so that's how I felt tonight on approach to P.F. Chang's.

It turns out however that not all Chinese is made the same; I actually really enjoyed the food here. It was clean, flavourful and although we exclusively stuck to the chicken dishes (everything except, well, the pork is halal) everything was varied enough to keep us interested. The service was great in a familiar non-poncy sort of way, and there really wasn't much to complain about.

The bill came to £25 per head which I suppose fairly reflects the experience I had. P.F. Chang's definitely comes recommended, which for a Chinese is quite exciting for me after all.

Wednesday, March 7

Film: Red Sparrow Click for more info

For me, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy remains the epitome of the mind melting spy thriller sub genre - I still don't think I quite fully understand what the heck goes on in that film, and I'm always in two minds about whether its complexity works for (since it's a challenge) or against (since who wants to watch a film that makes them feel stupid?) it.

Whatever the case, TTSS makes for a decent benchmark against which other films of the genre can be positioned. So finally then to the point: if TTSS is a 10, Red Sparrow weighs in at around 5 or 6. It's certainly more accessible, easier to follow and ultimately... more enjoyable as a result. Jennifer Lawrence does a decent job as the torn spy who we can't quite figure out the allegiances of, and apart from the acting the film is really well put together.

The cost, however, of this accessibility is the sense of implausibility that comes with it. It's difficult to believe that a prima ballerina can so easily be turned into a master spy for instance. It was kind of like seeing a more serious version of Eggsy from Kingsman.

So yes, as long as you don't let the caricaturisation of the spy world bother you too much there's not much to dislike about Red Sparrow. Recommended.

Tuesday, February 13

Film: Black Panther Click for more info

At first glance, Black Panther is a great film. It has great tech, good humour, decent action and even ties it all together with a decent enough plot. The effects were a little rough around the edges, but not enough to spoil the film... all in all on the surface it's a fun film and all the stronger as it stands on its own without having to lean on the rest of the MCU.

... But of course we can't just leave it at that. It's also a black film and although I'm the last random guy on the internet to assess the credentials of the film in that context I did find myself considering how the film tackled the inevitable baggage it was always going to carry.

So yes, on the whole I felt that Black Panther initially did well with handling its heritage and colour - it wasn't apologetic about what it was, yet managed to not caricaturise itself on the way. It was a little unfortunate that the film ended up being about black on black war, but I can see how anything else would have attracted criticism too, so overall I think it did okay on this front.

Aside from that Black Panther makes a great entry in the MCU - the last before the really big event starts. Recommended.

Monday, February 12

Film: Padmavati Click for more info

If indeed Padmavati is to be considered the third in the SLB-Padukone-Singh epic period set of films, it is also by far the weakest entry in the trilogy. Apart from the shallow plot, the acting is shoddy, the special effects laughable, the music forgettable (and I mean that literally)... and although I really should be above this in a work of fiction, the portrayal of Muslims as nothing less than douchebag extraordinaires was kinda jarring.

This is both unfortunate, but also a relief since it highlights just how brilliant and good Ram Leela and Bajirao Mastani respectively were. You can't just expect magic; no, that requires something special that even established dream teams struggle to continually always provide. I guess things would just be boring otherwise.

Wednesday, February 7

Book: Elantris, Brandon Sanderson Click for more info

I can see why Elantris is seen as "a decent enough start" to the Cosmere. From the first page it contains such characterisation and construction of plot that you can't but help marvel at the genius and scope of what is yet to come, yet the whole thing collapses under its ambition toward the last few chapters. In short, it seems to be full of the kind of mistakes you just know will be fixed in future stories, and that's something which, if true, holds great promise for what's to come.

I can see why Sanderson was asked to complete The Wheel of Time, and its the accessibility he gave to that series that I see here in Cosmere.