The End

Hello, all!

That title may imply a few things and yes, it is a little out of the blue. However, this is no story, analysis, review, or anything of that like; instead, this is an announcement on the state of the blog and a decision I have contemplated over the past few weeks: I have decided to put this blog on indefinite hiatus.

Now, I am aware that I have not been writing on here for some time and that I intended to write over the upcoming summer months, but my motivation for doing so has dwindled. It is not due to a lack of interest in writing and analyzing, as I am still very much doing that off of this blog. Instead, my interest is occupied by other outlets that are off of WordPress, and this blog does not fit into that any longer.

I should make it clear that this has nothing to do with views, comments, or followers. I love it when others interact with my work (which doesn’t happen too often on here), but my primary focus while writing always has been in my own interests rather than what others want or what’s ‘trendy’. After all, this isn’t a fashion, lifestyle, food, or travel blog; I am aware that a writing blog is a niche, especially on WordPress.

Instead of saying goodbye, I will invite you all to continue to read my work on another site that I have been writing on for the past three months, called Commaful. I won’t make this post an advertisement, but I will quickly describe what the site pertains to as it is not as popular as some other creative writing sites such as Wattpad. Commaful is a website for shorter pieces (I mostly write poems and ‘poetic prose’ on there) that are accompanied by pictures, and it has been refreshing to write on there and lots of fun! I recommend that you check it out, as that is where I will be.

Matter of fact, here is my latest piece on there! I hope it isn’t too geeky, but alas.

https://commaful.com/play/stadarooni/infinite/

I should add that this is not a permanent ending for the blog, as I am rather indecisive at times. I may post again in the future, but for now, I do not plan to due to a lack of interest.

Of course, the blog’s social media accounts will still be active and they will instead be redirected for the purpose of Commaful as well as some other things, such as opinions or recommendations and the such, for example. Here are some links! (Facebook and Instagram are the most active of these accounts.)

In case this is the final post on the blog, I want to thank all of YOU for reading over the past two years! Starting this blog is a decision I am still very happy that I made, as it had helped me to maintain an outlet for writing while I still posted on here. I am still proud and fond of quite a few of the posts I wrote on here, and I will list a few of my favourites right now!

Just to note, I will not be deleting anything on this blog.

I also want to give even more thanks to Braydon, Kristine, Robert, Corina, Griffin, Sylvia, and Ben for writing posts and helping out with the blog when I was absent. You are all awesome and I cannot thank you enough for that!

Also, thank you to my brother for this picture! He doesn’t have any photography account on social media (or anything like that), so I can’t provide any links.

If these are the final words, then take care! Continue on writing or doing whatever you are passionate about. Despite me leaving this blog, I will continue to pursue my love of writing and I won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Of course, you know where to find my writing!

Yours truly,
Alex 🙂

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Cake and Celebration!

Hello, everyone!

It has been a very long time since I have last seen the WordPress editor, and the thought of writing this short and significant post excites me more than it should. However, it is that day, once again! Another birthday, if blogs deserve such celebration. While its namesake goes back further, stadarooni is now two years old! In another fourteen years, it might be able to drive, but we wouldn’t want that.

Unlike last time, where I simply exclaimed the blog’s ‘birthday’ and carried along, I want to talk a bit about some cool things that have happened since I last posted in December. I can assure you that I have kept a watchful eye on the blog and in the absence of posts, there has still been quite a bit of activity!

In 2018, so far, the blog has performed very well in terms of views. March was the blog’s third-most-viewed month as of yet, and many more international (outside of Canada) views have been coming in as well. To all of you, thank you! I am very happy to see that the blog shows up on Google search results, and your views are definitely appreciated. This year, the five countries that the blog has received the most views from are the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates, so far! However, all of you are awesome for checking everything out regardless of where you are from or if you all view the same post.

I wanted to make longer posts last year, and that plan did not work out as well as I expected it to. However, I do plan to post either once or twice over the course of the summer months. I will give an estimated time of late-June for the next post, although I will give no hints to what it will pertain to. If you want some vague hints, make sure you check out the blog’s Instagram account and even follow it, if you want to!

I have been writing poems and ‘poetic prose’ in my spare time, although I have not posted any of it on my blog. I was going to back in early March, but I decided that I would not waste time with a shorter piece. However, I will give you a little sample now! This is the first piece of creative writing following a very long break. Enjoy!

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I love conveyer-belt people.

They remind me of the sky.

Blue sky summer, your joy twirls and swirls: why must you go away? You smile at my camera and embrace its eyes even when it dies. Aesthetic, picturesque, beautiful – where did you get such nice words? Wait; they are dead. I can’t see anything. Language is dead. You melt concrete into a freeform cacophony of euphemism, and now I smell the ashes. But concrete lacks ashes. You swirl and twirl and swirl and twirl; burn and learn and blaze. And language is everything.

Ice cream only tastes sweet in the fire. Doesn’t it feel nice?

That’s one off the belt. But you get the point.

Grey skies; weeping skies; crimson skies; skies cackling in the wind. They’re above and below: there’s only so much dirt. More importantly, they’re made for us.

It’s like we get deadlocked into something that doesn’t exist.

I guess conveyer-belt people aren’t like the sky; I lied. The sky makes sense.

***

With that, I encourage you to explore the blog a little and see if there are any pieces that you like! I cannot bear to go back and read my old writing most of the time, but I hope you enjoy what’s on here, regardless. Here’s to many future posts and prosperity!

Also, I invite you all to some cake. Ask me in the comments, and you shall receive.

Take care, all! 🙂

(Lastly, photo credits to my brother! And it’s also my sister’s birthday today!)

Mantle’s End – What the Forerunners did AFTER Halo (and where they are now…) — haruspis

“And those who made the rings? What happened to the Forerunners?” One hundred thousand years ago, a great and terrible civilisation achieved technological dominance. They appointed themselves as the galaxy’s rulers, imposing a chastening peace over their protectorates for countless millennia. This they did in the name of the Mantle. Their duty: to preserve diversity […]

via Mantle’s End – What the Forerunners did AFTER Halo (and where they are now…) — haruspis

“Who is Luke Skywalker?” – A Review of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

“Who is Luke Skywalker?”

This is one question LucasFilm asked in the process of developing The Force Awakens, but once again, “Who is Luke Skywalker?” This question lies at not only the core of The Last Jedi, but for the entire original trilogy, pouring into the prequels. A character that is the centrepiece of the entire Skywalker saga; is Luke a hero, a legend? Do the Star Wars films define the character, or do the fans? This is one question that is prevalent in The Last Jedi, and it may be the deciding factor in one’s opinion of the film.

I should warn that this paragraph will be your last bastion before spoiler territory. Enjoyment of The Last Jedi is seemingly based on expectations on not just the film’s quality, but of its story. If I can make a suggestion, do not expect anything. Do not make any predictions, and do not expect a film that resembles The Force AwakensThe Last Jedi is the boldest Star Wars film to date, and also the most polarizing as evidenced by the Internet. I enjoyed the film: it is not without unfortunate flaws, but its highs are amongst the best in Star Wars. I do not like to rank these films as my rankings shift too often, but as of now it is roughly tied for third with Return of the Jedi, beneath A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

Also, one last point before I delve into the film proper. If you expect me to either love or despise The Last Jedi, I am afraid I will disappoint you. Remember: only a Sith deals in absolutes… Even though that line within itself is an absolute. But still!

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I want to look at The Last Jedi on its own, but a comparison with The Force Awakens is an inevitable point of discussion that needs to be brought up. The Last Jedi is a very interesting movie compared to The Force Awakens, to be straight. The effects of a different creative force behind the production are not only evidenced by the story, but also by filming, cinematography, tone, amongst other things. One scene involves Luke calling R2’s decision to show Leia’s message from A New Hope as cheap, which divides this film from its predecessor: its reliance on nostalgia is different. Now, The Last Jedi is still full of references and parallels to the past, but that’s what it is: parallels to tie the present to the past. There are many callbacks to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but the film’s narrative structure does not pander to these similarities by mimicking another film’s plot.

Also, C-3PO lacks a red arm, which makes his ‘redesign’ in The Force Awakens the most pointless change in this franchise.

I Have a Bad Feeling About This – Some Shortcomings

Now, I want to get my complaints out of the way first. No film is perfect, and The Last Jedi is just another piece of evidence to this fact.

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My least favourite part of this film is its humour. Now, here is the kicker: I found the majority of the jokes funny, but the manner in which these jokes are told is disappointing. A lot of the jokes in The Last Jedi are ‘laugh-out-loud’ jokes; these jokes are similar to those found in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This brings me to my first complaint about the humour: its style. In previous Star Wars films, there were mostly two varieties of jokes: wit and ‘toilet humour.’ Prequels be damned, wit is what defined a lot of the original trilogy’s charm (as well as The Force Awakens), and this came from character interactions. The ‘laugh-out-loud’ humour does have its fans, but the fact that this film has a ‘your mom’ joke in its first minutes is indicative of things to come. My first complaint on humour would be just a matter of personal preference, but alas.

My second complaint on The Last Jedi‘s humour is its timing and its negative effect on the rest of the film. One example is at the very beginning of the film. Luke tosses his father’s lightsaber over his shoulder, which does make sense from a storytelling perspective. He is not a hero; he is a troubled human being. But the timing of this scene is for comedic value, which interrupts and diminishes its dramatic focus. Imagine if in Return of the Jedi, when Luke confronts the Emporer and Darth Vader, when he threw his lightsaber away in refusal, that Luke threw it in a comedic manner over his shoulder. Sure, it might be funny, but it would disrupt the dramatic focus of such a moment, and the tone of the film would go awry. With The Last Jedi‘s brand of humour, tone and drama are sacrificed for a laugh. Just think of General Hux, and how much of a literal punching bad he is in the film. A film can be dark; it can still find moments of light when things are at their worst.

One elephant in discussions of The Last Jedi is Finn, Rose, and their detour on the casino of Canto Bight. This portion of the film does feel out of place, but I can see the potential that was untapped. The animal cruelty theme was an unnecessary detour that is out of place, however. The casino did feel a bit ‘out of character’ for Star Wars, perhaps for how ordinary it was. A ‘space-casino’ would have been a much cooler idea, but as it stands, Canto Bight is a detour that should be fun, but it adds padding and takes away focus from the rest of the film. Its role in making Finn question the nature of the Resistance-First Order conflict with the role of arms dealers is an interesting concept, but it is simply preaching that serves no purpose for the rest of the film. Breaking down the ‘good versus evil’ trope is a strength of the film, but Canto Bight is a missed opportunity to explore a more ‘grey’ side of the galaxy.

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Now, this is where I am afraid to talk about one aspect that is definitely present: the role of women in The Last Jedi. I hope I do not offend you, as social equality is an issue in contemporary society that many feel strongly about on all sides. However, make no mistake; it is present in The Last Jedi, and it has a major thematic purpose. It is also NOT a flaw of the movie. My critique is in the portrayal of these two female characters who had more potential than the film let them have. If you want to, you may skip the next paragraph, but I hope this portion of the review does not lose you.

Laura Dern’s character, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and Kelly Marie Tran’s character, Rose Tico, are representative of social issues, and I believe one cannot deny that. However, Dern’s character succeeds where Tran’s does not. Holdo is not a perfect character, as she is arrogant and lacks the qualities of an effective leader (this point is up for debate). Holdo is interesting, as her role within The Last Jedi is to defy expectations. She may not have a flaw to overcome, but not every character needs one; Holdo instead exists as a divisive character (and a strong one at that), and that is presented wonderfully. On the other hand, Rose is quite shallow and exists as a means to supplement Finn’s arc. A personal flaw to overcome (perhaps self-doubt?) could have been an interesting justification for Rose’s development and it could have juxtaposed with Finn’s, but instead, she only exists for the film to make its point on Finn’s motivations and heroics.

While more disappointments than flaws, there are some miscellaneous points I have for this section. I wanted more Rey (as well as Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO) in The Last Jedi, as there are larger portions of the film that do not include her. Captain Phasma is ‘cooler’ in her appearance, but it was once again disappointing. The humanity of such a character could have been explored, but alas, she might be dead. Snoke’s background could have also been interesting to explore, but that is a minor gripe that doesn’t bother me too much. The film’s pacing is also sometimes uneven, mostly due to Canto Bight. However, it does improve in the film’s latter half. Lastly, it feels as if The Last Jedi nearly wants to unveil a grey side of the Star Wars universe, but it backs off with this and ends the film on a disappointing ‘the Rebels are back’ note.

I would have also loved to have seen Lando return, but I suppose I cannot always get what I want.

In My Experience, There is No Such Thing as Luck – The Good

Now, with all my issues one may question why I think this film is great. In truth, The Last Jedi‘s fallings are disappointing, but its strengths more than make up for it!

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I have not touched upon the technical aspects of The Last Jedi, but as with its predecessor, the acting here is great. Even for characters I did not like too much, each actor pulled together an awesome performance, with Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and Mark Hammil taking the spotlight as Rey, Kylo Ren, and Luke Skywalker. The new cast members all put their own styles into their roles, fitting in naturally with established characters. Sound, props, digital shots (including one of the most awe-inspiring shots in a Star Wars film), and the score all come together to enhance the Star Wars experience, and I have no complaints regarding these aspects. Director Rian Johnson does have a distinct style of cinematography that sets this film apart from its peers, with shots I would not expect in a film like this. However, that distinction is what gives The Last Jedi so much flavour.

Visually and musically, The Last Jedi is a beauty. Noteworthy mentions go to Crait and Ahch-To, which both provide unique backdrops for action and storytelling. One notable absence in this film is a true lightsaber battle, although one scene in the middle with Rey and Kylo Ren serves as a chill-inducing substitute. The special effects are as well-done as they were in The Force Awakens, and it is a marvel that Supreme Leader Snoke looks realistic. Additionally, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Last Jedi‘s score, with many returning pieces feeling right at home and a lot of the new pieces (while more subdued than a lot of other ones) complimenting the film’s narrative quite nicely. John Williams has not lost his touch, and his score continues to enhance the experience of watching a Star Wars film. The piano rendition of Leia’s Theme in the film’s credits was also a very nice tribute to Carrie Fisher.

Perhaps another of the most contentious subjects of this movie is its treatment of Luke Skywalker’s character arc. I have seen many call The Last Jedi‘s portrayal of him as ‘character assassination’ – while I can see why one would come to that conclusion, I disagree and find this to indicate an inability to see a fictional character as an individual. “Who is Luke Skywalker?” I posed at the beginning of this review, and for good reason. This film shows him as a fallible character who deals with failure and regret, not as a mythical legend as one’s expectation (both in and out of universe) dictates. Luke Skywalker is The Last Jedi‘s hero, subverting expectation and overcoming his flaws for the better. His decision to attack Ben Solo is his sleep has also been a point of contention, but I see it as a part of his failure. Luke Skywalker is not the protagonist of the sequels; Rey is. The Last Jedi shows Luke’s growth as a person, and how a legend does not equal a man. For that, he is easily my favourite character in this film.

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Rey and Kylo Ren are also highlights, as their arcs are another example of the film subverting expectations. Rey is a nobody: sorry, fan theories. Kylo Ren does not redeem himself, or even hint at such a direction; he instead plunges further into the dark side. The interactions between these two characters are another of The Last Jedi‘s strong points, carrying emotional weight and fleshing them both out as characters. Much alike to Luke Skywalker, they are grounded as people instead of larger-than-life figures, putting their stories in a very interesting place for Episode IX.

While not groundbreaking by any means, the themes in this film are the final point I want to address. Sacrifice, heroism, and failure are all present here, and they are deconstructed and examined brilliantly. With Finn and Poe (thank goodness the middle of which appears far more often in this film), sacrifice is noted as not always being for the greater good, as some sacrifices can be for nothing. Luke Skywalker portrays heroism as he did in the original trilogy, and his appearance for the Resistance was quite awe-inspiring. As mentioned with him, failure is The Last Jedi‘s grounding element that makes this film feel less about ‘good-versus-evil’ and more about the struggles of an individual.

Of course, this is all tied nicely with Kylo Ren’s assertion to let the past die, as that is what this film is about. There are new heroes to explore, new beginnings to unfold, and of course, all things must come to an end. With The Last Jedi, that process has been fulfilled. I will not rate this film, as that is cheap. However, I do encourage you to watch it, as it is both the boldest Star Wars film as well as the best of the new Disney-era films by a clear margin. Although its lows are unfortunate lows (lows which The Force Awakens did not stoop to), its highs are very high and make up for it with some of the best moments in this franchise. The Last Jedi is not the best film I have seen this year, but I am very excited to see where J.J. Abrams takes Episode IX, and where Rian Johnson takes his future trilogy.

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If there are any elements of The Last Jedi that I did not touch base upon, it most likely means that I liked it, or that I did not find it noteworthy enough to talk about. Leia flying across space did not bother me, for one. On the subject of Carrie Fisher, I am somewhat surprised that the film did not address how her death will affect the future of Leia’s character, as the film’s narrative almost makes it feel as if she will appear in Episode IX. There is not goodbye scene on a highway, I am afraid.

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Anyway, if there are any additional comments you have, please feel free to comment and I will respond to the best of my ability! I apologize for lacking the ability to properly dissect what I liked in this film, as it is sadly easier for me to put my complaints into perspective. There will likely be a month-end post to collect my impressions of works I have experienced over both this month and November (which I decided to skip due to a lack of content), but who knows what the future holds?

Thor: Ragnarok – First Impressions

Hello, everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying your time as the days get shorter (or longer), and darkness envelops you at 4 o’clock rather than 10, or perhaps the inversion of this. Regardless of your whereabouts, I know Thor: Ragnarok (which I will refer to as ‘Ragnarok‘ throughout this post) came out a week and a half ago. I was in no rush to see it, but a plethora of good reviews gave it a very high percentage on Rotten Tomatoes, which caught me off-guard. Curiosity is great, and I was waiting to be surprised. This collection of impressions comes a few hours after my viewing of the film, so please forgive any opinions that may seem undercooked.

I have a few things to say, but here is the verdict if you want me to get to the point: the movie is entertaining, and a lot of fun. I know that concerning this movie, ‘fun’ is a buzzword you have heard countless times if you watch or read reviews as I do. However, that is the best way to describe it. There is a lot to be enjoyed in this film, with action and intensity being its strong suit. There are some issues, but this film is quite easily the best Thor film. Best in the MCU… perhaps entertainment-wise, but I would rank some other films above this one.

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Time for some background details. This was a movie I was both excited and worried for. Marvel’s previous two Thor movies are merely okay in my eyes (I prefer Thor to The Dark World), and it has been a while since their releases. However, Marvel’s recent track record has been fantastic, even if some of their more recent films have their own issues that make them great instead of amazing. As a result, I was cautiously optimistic for Ragnarok, and I can say that has paid off.

Compared to the other two Marvel films this year, I can say that Ragnarok is easily my favourite (with the other two being good films, of course). Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was overly predictable and had some extraneous elements, as well as a pace-killing and unfortunate sequence that was just expository. Spider-Man: Homecoming had substantial tonal discrepancies with humour and drama, but I cannot say that brought the movie down as much as it could have. Ragnorak blends humour and drama organically, and it isn’t afraid to take a few risks either.

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This film sheds away what didn’t work in the previous two Thor films, with the Earth-based characters being completely absent sans one reference. The focus is entirely centered around Thor and his quest to stop Hela and doesn’t stop to dillydally too often. The pacing here does start off a bit slower on the film’s onset, but this is done to give breathing room that the film needed.

Being so long since The Dark World (four years), Ragnarok feels more akin to a stand-alone story instead of the third part of a trilogy. This is due in part to the material this film sheds, but also to what it adds. This commences an awkward segue to where I talk about characters. Thor and Loki are both as great as ever in this film, but so are the new and returning characters as well. I am unsure if it could be considered a spoiler, but there is one cameo towards the beginning that was nice. Seeing Hulk and newcomer Valkyrie also provide a bolder flavour that the last two films lacked, with this film being a colourful collage of gritty sci-fi elements in harmony with the more pristine fantasy side of Asgard. Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster was unexpectedly hilarious, and Cate Blanchett’s Hela was a more smug villain that may not break the trend of un-amazing villain’s in the MCU, but she is delightful nonetheless.

Visually and musically, this film shines as well. The garbage planet of Sakaar is colourful in a trashy kind of way and feels like a more rugged and ‘exotic’ approach to Guardians of the Galaxy’s sci-fi extravaganza. The soundtrack was also unique in that it had a signature ‘1980’s’ vibe to it, which gave off character even if it did not necessarily fit in (at all, actually). Of course, Ragnarok is filled with CGI, but none if it looked out of place or ‘bad’ to me. Action sequences are also plenty here, with fights having splendid choreography that have weight to them. There is no shortage of it, and all of it is what made the film so ‘fun.’

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The only people I cannot recommend this film to are those that are looking for something fresh in the MCU. Ragnarok feels like a standalone Thor movie with dashes of Guardians of the Galaxy in it. The film is very well done, but it did not ‘wow’ me, despite my praises and lack of significant criticism. I walked out of the theatre feeling satisfied, especially with my cautious optimism paying off in the end. The film also does connect with Avengers: Infinity War, although this film felt like it told a well-crafted story that didn’t exist to set up future films (*cough* Age of Ultron).

In two words, see it! Have fun! Thor’s cool! I know I did not talk a lot about the story, but the premise of ‘Thor must stop Hela from causing destruction’ is nothing to talk of. It works for this film, and it’s other elements (action, humour, characters) matter more anyway.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this look at Thor: Ragnarok. I look forward to Black Panther this February, but before that, there’s one film that will definitely be getting a proper look at when the time comes around…

Until then, I will most likely see you again when my monthly impressions post (which will be lighter than October’s) is published at the end of the month! 🙂

 

The Review Roundup – October 2017

As per my last post, I have kept my promise of having this ‘impressions roundup’ at the end of this month. I am aware that the title says otherwise, but I appreciate alliteration. 🙂

Anyways, welcome back! With this being my first year in university, I don’t think I should be surprised at the heap of literature that currently clutters my desk. The bi-daily posts earlier this month was likely an indicator to that, but you may be surprised to discover that my readings had actually slowed down following my look at Look Back in Anger and The Prisoner of Zenda. There is still much to get through, but I will promise that each piece I look at will not take up an enormous span of your time.

Here’s how this is going to work: as with the last few impressions, I will list some overall opinions on each piece, trying to give some positives and negatives as well. While virtually the same as my last several posts, this format will be briefer. I also will be covering the pieces from said posts, but do not worry. I hate to leave out suspense, but for your pleasure, I will give a list before I delve into the meat of this roundup. Matter of fact, here it is!

  • Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden (novel)
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (novella)
  • Blade Runner 2049 (film)
  • Burmese Days by George Orwell (novel)
  • The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope (novella)
  • Look Back in Anger by John Osborne (play)
  • The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter (play)
  • Top Girls by Caryl Churchill (play)
  • It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (novel)

Before I begin with this list, you can probably see the lopsided nature of its composition. There’s only one film here, and the backend of this list is heavy with plays. I should also add that there can and will be a variety of other pieces from different mediums; I just didn’t happen to play any new video games this month or watch any television either… Not that I even watch television.

Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

Some context: I had to pick out a book for a novel study in my Canadian History class and this one had a premise that seemed interesting enough. It is a sniper story between two Indigenous brothers during WWI and Goodreads was giving me good vibes. (Pro-Tip: never gauge an opinion off of Goodreads. Beowulf is not bad because you forced yourself to read it in high school.)

Now, I should start off by saying that this novel is enthralling. It will make you uncomfortable at how raw and blunt its language is; it will make you see the ugly side of strained relationships and the downfall of character. I should make it clear that this novel did not feel biased on my reading, so the reasons for the above points are due to how strong this novel’s narrative is. The lack of fear in this novel’s writing is easily its strongest feature and one that made me stop reading momentarily in partial disgust. The main characters are also well-realized, each serving their role and not entirely reflecting the viewpoint the reader may find themselves in.

If you are looking for an academic read, Three Day Road is not a novel for you. Simply put, this novel is for the experience and excitement of reading. Its plot may also feel cyclical at times, but this is a minor gripe in comparison with the other storytelling elements that will grasp your attention instead. The first-person recollective narrative may also throw some off, but that comes down to preference in the end.

An article on Joseph Boyden by Historica Canada can be found here.

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

The original impression post can be found here.

My opinion on The Thirty-Nine Steps has not changed much since my initial reading. The spy-thriller on the doorsteps of WWI is a story that will keep you entertained through its fast-paced plot. There is a sense of adventure in this novella, with much of it coming through its protagonist and the adverse situations he faces. There are curveballs thrown around every corner, which kept me reading until to the end.

However, the limiting factor of this novella is its status as a pioneer of the spy thriller genre. Depending on your exposure to it, this story may seem rather bare, becoming a slog to get through as a result. More importantly are the characters, which do not serve to amend this issue. They are not easily attachable, and character development is nonexistent. This may sever a reader’s connection, especially if one’s goal in reading is to be invested in a story.

An article on John Buchan by Historica Canada can be found here.

Blade Runner 2049

The original impression post can be found here.

What a phenomenal film. I know my post on it was complete gushing, but intellectual sci-fi is awesome. Blade Runner 2049 is for people who loved the original film for its look at humanity. It’s for those who want a sequel that respects the original film and builds off of it logically. This film is aesthetically pleasing, boasting hauntingly beautiful visuals and a moody score.

Some issues one may have with this film is its runtime. Three hours for a film that isn’t fast-paced could kill one’s enjoyment of this film, but expectation could be the other killer. This film is not action-driven, not even to the extent of the original film. This film also requires your attention, as it does not hold your hand through exposition. By and large, whether this film surpasses the original is all up to the viewer.

A website for the movie can be found here.

Burmese Days by George Orwell

The original impression post can be found here.

As this novel is based on Orwell’s experiences in the British Raj, Burmese Days can be called personal in its depiction of Imperial Burma. The smaller viewpoint of one man gives this novel a unique perspective and one that isn’t afraid to incite controversy with its reader. The protagonist grounds this novel in a degree of sympathy, yet makes it very despicable at the same time.

Criticisms may be leveled at this novel’s repetition in its theme and character exploration, but this may have been done intentionally. The lives of these British colonists are dull, and for some stretches, the novel shifts focus away from its [more] sympathetic protagonist to other characters, which can cause pacing to be uneven at times. Going in with the impression that this novel is another 1984 can also be detrimental to your enjoyment of it, but note that this novel does have quite a few parallels to Orwell’s later work that should be quite apparent.

A biography on George Orwell by the BBC can be found here.

The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope

The original impression post can be found here.

This Ruritanian romance of swashbuckling adventure and identity changes is an enjoyable and highly entertaining tale, just as it was when I initially read it. The Prisoner of Zenda is unique in that it feels like a fairy tale told as in an adult novella, with murder and politics involved in its plotline of high romantics. As with The Thirty-Nine Steps, this novella is a quick read, and its events take place at a quickened pace that will be likely to keep you interested to the end.

However, in another vein that is similar to The Thirty-Nine Steps, this novella is a pioneer for the Ruritanian romance genre. If you have read plenty of novel’s with high romance with identity changes and royalty, this novella may appear as a drag. This is not helped in part by the frontloaded plot here, where exposition establishes characters and setting before letting them loose for your reading pleasures. To add to that, the characters present are fleshed out, but not much is in the way of drama or development, despite the implications that these characters grow and bond through the various situations contained in this novella’s pages.

As much as I would love to provide a link to a more ‘official’ website, there isn’t much in the way of Hope. Instead, a biography on Anthony Hope by Encyclopædia Britannica can be found here.

Look Back in Anger by John Osborne

The original impression post can be found here.

If investigating social issues during the twentieth century (that are still relevant today) is your forte, Look Back in Anger is a play that will intrigue you. It is intentionally provocative, calling feminism, nostalgia, and education into question in the post-WWII era in Britain. This play defied British theatre in its realism, showing characters who are not romanticized and characters who are all flawed.

If you like plays for wit or escapism, Look Back in Anger may not be what you’re looking for. You will see the aforementioned social issues on center-stage, and they will make you uncomfortable and may even give off a sense of deep controversy and anger. Whether or not the play will do this or even fascinate you is entirely dependant on why you read or watch plays, so keep that in mind if you decide to explore the issues that theatre can brilliantly present.

As much as I would love to provide a link to a more ‘official’ website, there isn’t much in the way of Osborne. Instead, a biography on John Osborne by Encyclopædia Britannica can be found here.

The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter

If Look Back in Anger sounds deadpan on its themes, it may be reassuring to know that The Birthday Party is instead more about the experience of theatre rather than the issues it brings up. This play is not violent or grotesque in a sense, but it is terrifying. Important character motivations and backstories are hidden behind subtle hints and potentially fabricated truths, making this play a story that leads itself into unexpected turns. Pinter’s story is rather straightforward at the same time, with fewer characters giving a more surreal and claustrophobic atmosphere.

If I am to be as honest as possible, I can say that this play did not leave as large of an impact as I thought it would have. I am sure I have missed something, but its themes of truth, nostalgia, and sex are very relevant to its pages, but not on a larger scale that adresses society as Look Back in Anger had done. This play may also confuse you if you like your stories to be more concrete, but there is enough implied to potentially fill in the blanks.

Harold Pinter’s website can be found here.

Top Girls by Caryl Churchill

Yet another play, Top Girls is one that I think one will either love or put down. This play explores feminism in a uniquely unique way (yes; uniquely unique), with its first acts being one of the most cohesive ways to explore the history of women [while also intentionally breaking immersion]. I will not spoil it here but know that so much is compared and contrasted in terms of history, and its beautifully done. The play is also no stranger to being provocative, giving off an almost eerie and surreal vibe in its second and third act as characters leave darker implications that do not sugarcoat feminism. This is done with themes of maturity, hate, and possible murder giving this play a flavour of discomfort that goes beyond the surface level.

If you like your stories to not surprise you in ways that will make you uncomfortable, I do not recommend reading this play. I can now see why high school teachers only teach Shakespeare, as this play is beautiful and haunting at the same time. It is certainly heavier than Look Back in Anger, even daring to excessively swear and disturb you with grotesque imagery. If you also like stories to wrap up nicely at the end, Top Girls is rather open-ended in both plot and in answering the questions it poses on feminism. This is due to the plot not being told in a linear fashion, which may end up disappointing you.

I should say that this play is one I really liked, and out of all three plays above, I would reccomend reading this one above all. It is facinating, and not very long either.

Caryl Churchill can be found on the British Council’s Literature website here.

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

Hey, a dystopian novel!

It Can’t Happen Here is a novel that aims to address its own title. The idea of fascism in the United States during the Great Depression: certainly, it can’t happen here? I will not go into that topic, but the regime this novel presents is very clearly and vividly realized. If you were ever curious to how an American-specific regime would function and affect its citizens, this novel does not disappoint. All the technicalities are accounted for, making the dystopian part of this novel work brilliantly and even being contemporary in some manners.

I know this novel is liked by many and spiked in sales recently, but I do have one gripe with it: I found it dull. The novel’s ultimate falling is its narrative, with characters that muddle together, and an everyman protagonist that serves his purpose and nothing more. The plot is also filled with rugged pacing that is very slow to begin with, and is uneven by the end. The lack of a dramatic arc made it hard to be invested in this novel, although this improves in its second half as the brutality of the government becomes more apparent and fully realized. The writing is also dry, making this novel feel more technical than it should be with the exception of a few odd chapters, that almost make this novel feel very inconsistent, but not quite so.

An article on Sinclair Lewis by the website of the Nobel Prize can be found here.

***

I hope you enjoyed this post, and I hope I did not anger any of you if I expressed too much negativity at any one piece. There was a lot to cover for this month, but I can guarantee that the next one will be a little lighter. If you have not heard of many of these pieces, I recommend experimenting with them. I had no idea I would enjoy a play on feminism as much as I did, or that I would find an American dystopian novel to be dull.

If I am to give an update on how my university experience is going so far, I will say that it is going steadily so far. In particular, I am enjoying my International Studies class, where we look at the world through the scope of geography, history, anthropology/culture, economics, and political science. I am very much looking forward to learning and reading much more, and I will be sure to make another life post like the one I did about my experience in the Air Cadet program on my entire first year when that comes around.

As always, keep reading, watching, and playing! You never know what you’ll like, and experience isn’t to be spent on a rail. 🙂