January Microreviews

One of the goals on my 101 Things in 1001 Days project (2 goals complete and another 5 in progress so far!) is to start a blog dedicated to reviews. Unfortunately, at the moment I’m hardly seeing enough new films or reading enough new books or listening to enough new albums to make it worthwhile—it can be fun to read reviews of older works, but not fun enough to create a whole blog around it unless there’s some sort of theme other than “what I’ve read/seen/listened to.” However, in the meantime I’m going to do a microreview roundup each month of all the books, films, and anything else old or new that I’ve consumed (for the first time). Sure this month is a little late, but there’s still plenty of time before I’ll need to write February’s entry.

If you’re interested in seeing what pop culture I’m looking at as it happens, you can follow me on Goodreads or take a look at my 2014 scrapbook. What have you read, watched, or listened to in the last month? Tell me about it!

January books

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The Letters by Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (2012): A compilation of the correspondence between Kerouac and Ginsberg from 1944 to 1969, this book amazed me with the depth of the relationship between these two icons of the Beat generation. At times it is pretentious, of course, but in other instances there’s a rawness and sincerity that helps to explain the reason their writing still resonates so strongly.

While the Women are Sleeping by Javier Marías (1990): I’ve been wanting to read something by Marías for ages, but judging by the reviews on Goodreads for this collection, it’s not the one to choose as a first look at his work, and maybe that’s why I had trouble fully connecting with it. However, I did like the creepiness of the stories, whether it was due to a paranormal element or simply the weirdness of human nature.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (1929): I see why Bradley Cooper’s character threw this novel out the window at the start of Silver Linings Playbook. While I enjoy Hemingway’s style so I liked the writing as much as I have in his other works, the unresolved nature of the plot, particularly the ending, made the book lack closure and feel almost unfinished.

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013): Like a lot of people, I was introduced to Adichie’s work by Beyoncé’s ***Flawless, which samples one of her speeches. Americanah covers race, feminism, cultural and national identity, and does so through the wonderful character of Ifemelu. While some of the characters were somewhat one-dimensional, the protagonist was so compelling that I couldn’t set the book down.

January films

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013): I wish I liked The Hobbit films more than I did. They’re not bad, exactly, although they certainly don’t compare to the epic near-perfection of the Lord of the Rings movies. But there’s something missing—or maybe there should be something missing. I’m guessing that when all is said and done, there’ll be one excellent film’s worth of footage within the bloated three.

The Ugly Truth (2009) and Life as We Know It (2010): One hungover afternoon my housemates and I had an impromptu Katherine Heigl movie marathon. I won’t lie, 27 Dresses is one of my all-time favourite chick flicks, but both of these films were pretty awful. At least The Ugly Truth had the redeeming quality known as shirtless Gerard Butler.

Step Brothers (2008): I always claim I don’t like this kind of stupid man-child comedy, but the truth is I could watch movies like Anchorman and I Love You, Man over and over. This was actually really funny, and that’s all I really have to say about it.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013): I’d be hard pressed to find a Cohen brothers film that I don’t love, and this is no exception. Oscar Isaac is excellent as the title character and the cinematography perfectly reflects the 1960s folk scene in which the film is set. I also love that all of the music is performed in full and was mostly recorded live.

January music

65daysofstatic: I saw 65daysofstatic at the Roisín Dubh. I didn’t know any of their music except for one song, ‘Drove Through Ghosts to Get Here,’ which I couldn’t remember anything about except for the title, but they were pretty great. Exactly the kind of music my friends and I were looking for on the night.

January television

Sherlock (series 3): The second best Sherlock Holmes inspired detective show on television made its long awaited return. I liked the first episode, loved the second, and didn’t enjoy the third at all, for a median rating of “okay.” I loved Mary, and I loved the utter ridiculousness of both Sherlock’s not-so-triumphant return and of John’s inevitable wedding, but I couldn’t look past the ridiculousness of the plot, or the usual disinterest from the showrunner in having any respect for the female characters.

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