Tuesday, November 15

Film: Arrival Click for more info

Oh no, oh no no. How did this happen? The book was a short one, so in theory there was no reason to mess with it or edit it. Okay sure, there was enough peculiarity in the story to warrant some creativity in the film making process, but the amount of dilution and irreverence introduced to such a fantastic story has done nothing except spoil the whole thing. The character development has been trashed, the twist up ended. I might almost be able to see why they did it (accessibility) but really, the price was not worth the result.

A real disappointment. Read the book instead - it will probably take you as long as it would to watch this.

Book: The Story Of Your Life, Ted Chiang Click for more info

Yes: another book to be read before the film, but perhaps this time it's a little different. The Story is a short one, having taken only a few hours to read. But those few words presented such joy that I'd have recommended the book regardless of the context.

I personally enjoy exploring the themes of free will and predestination, and ideas like having a whole conversation before uttering a word resonate with me. The story here doesn't give any answers... But like all good books it does present new ideas and a new perspective. The subject matter also implies deep characterisation, again impressive for such a short story.


Tuesday, November 8

Book: Ready Player One, Ernest Cline Click for more info

Ready Player One isn't a great book. It has a skinny plot, one dimensional and flimsy characters and takes almost no risk in telling its story. It's put together pretty flimsily too - it ranks above some of the more recent young adult readings for sure, but doesn't really push the reader too much (which might be a good thing). The flow is trashy, as page turning as you can get.

In fact, the young adulty vibe of the story is a bit confusing considering who the book is aimed at. The thing is that Ready Player One is almost purely fanservice - a compendium of references to all the hip songs, movies and games from the 80s and 90s which only those of us now in our middle ages will appreciate to any real extent. It reminisces, remixes, remasters and mashes up these nods... and once you appreciate that is all it really is the book does become enjoyable of sorts.

It's also why I'm really looking forward to the film (the actual reason why I thought I'd read it now). If the film manages to pull it off, it'll certainly be great, and ironically it's the aforementioned attributes that make it a bad book that will probably make it an awesome flick.

In short, the book isn't a total waste of time and is cheap enough to read and enjoy.

Friday, November 4

Food: Boondocks Click for more info

Once there was Stax, a burger place sat in Soho, reaching legendary probably because of the lack of covers it presented. I think the max capacity of the place was 20 or 25, which although paltry I suspect helped boost the exclusiveness of the place. That's not to say that the place wasn't good - it was - but things change and options present themselves as time goes on (I won't mention which I mean). Social media reputation isn't enough in these cases and so it's not surprising that the same team which brought us Stax looked to present the same food in a more accessible venue.

Boondocks is that place. Situated around Old Street, the location makes a refreshing change, as does the large venue - there was no problem getting a reservation for 8 tonight, although they did insist on a £15 deposit which I found quite unacceptable in this day and age. The food was good, with the menu 90% that of what we had seen before while the service was even better, enhanced by the fact the servers could actually move around without stepping on people. Otherwise this was Stax through and through - I found it to possibly be a little more pricey than Stax, but that could have been due to our decadence: we even tried the Smores which were both novel and delicious (although not all enjoyed).

So quite positive so far then? Well yes, except I felt awful afterwards and will expect that feeling to continue tomorrow morning. This is less the fault of Boondocks and more due to my recent change in lifestyle and diet which seems to have affected both my taste and ability to consume this kind of stuff. That may or may not be a consideration for most reading this, but still perhaps something worth bearing in mind.

Wednesday, November 2

Film: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Click for more info

I think I quite liked the first Jack Reacher film - not that I can remember much. And that's pretty much how things stand with the second in the series: a paint by numbers crime thriller with Jack and co trying to get to the bottom of some quite villainous frame ups and betrayals, all while kicking bum on the way.

The story, acting and production all pass to an extent. As long as you don't go into this with too high hopes you'll more than enjoy it. Recommended.