The Sinner: Another Season, Another Crazy Case

the sinner part 2It’s back, it’s back, it’s finally back! The new season of The Sinner is here, and it looks like it’s gonna be another good one. Sophomore Slump, away with you. You know how the Sinner formula works, right? A seemingly normal person commit a brutal, abnormal crime. We know immediately whodunit, but we don’t know why.

Ambrose is back, Cora is not:  As far we know, Cora is still in the psych ward in Dorchester.  She’d be a jailbird still if it weren’t for Harry.  She won’t be making an appearance this season.  But Ambrose is.  He seems a little bit happier and healthier this time around.  But going back to his childhood hometown threatens to ruin that.  Like before, he immediately knew that Julian was the killer the moment he met him.  But–maybe this was me–he’s a little rusty.  But I’m sure he’ll be back fully next episode.

About Julian….: Man, that kid was creepy.  We know that he’s a killer, but what’s his deal?  Towards the end, we discovered that his parents weren’t his parents.  But for the most part, he seems very comfortable in their company.  He and the fake mom sang songs together.  The couple wants him to have fun and be safe.  The three of them were laughing and joking together like….well…a family. They weren’t your average kidnappers. So maybe they’re not blood relatives, but there was a genuine bond.  Maybe they were a part of this apparent cult?  Or maybe Julian really is a genuine psycho who did this with a premeditation?  Or maybe someone forced him to do it?

The new detective:  Her name was Heather Novack, daughter of Harry’s friend Jack.  She seems to be very ambitious, but also sympathetic.  She and her father seemed to have a very close relationship.  And he was proud of her.  But there were little hints of  ‘tortured soul’ there.  Like sneaking off to the bathroom to have a drink.  She knows this case is too much for her to handle, so she asks Harry for help.  She and Ambrose know each other because of her father.  But not very well.  It’ll be interesting to see how their relationship forms in the coming episodes.

Julian’s apparent real mother:  Is she his real mother?  Or does she just see herself as a mother figure to him?  And what was this stuff about the shadow self?  In their first scene together, Julian was coloring a picture of a man in a dark cloak.  And we see this figure in a few times in flashes.  Will Julian have DID, formerly know as multiple personality disorder?  Ugh, so many questions?

 

This season is off to a good start and I hope it continues to be good.  Until then…..

Review for “Ocean’s 8”

Cast:  Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, Cate Blanchett as Lou, Mindy Kaling as Amita, Anne Hathaway as Daphne, Rihanna as Nine Ball, Helena Bonham Carter as Rose

Synopsis:  A crime caper tale about 8 women who rob a museum.

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It seems to be a theme these days–sequels coming out years and years after the originals.  It’s also a theme for movies to be renewed.  It’s like they’re sequels and new original movies at the same time.  I watched the first 2 Ocean’s movies a long time ago.  Both were incredible.  Now there’s a new Ocean’s movie out in theaters now.  It’s gender-flipped.  Will it be as good as the originals?  (Side note:  I recently learned that the real original Oceans 11 movie starred Frank Sinatra in the 1960s.  That makes the George Clooney’s Oceans movies remakes.  Interesting fact.

 

There wasn’t a single bad performance in Ocean’s 8.  Sandra Bullock, who played the leader Debbie Ocean,  was a badass.  She was very believable in this role, and a great bad girl.  Cate Blanchett was also great playing Lou, the right-hand woman.  Even Rihanna was surprisingly decent as the mysterious Nine Ball, hacker genius.   Her role wasn’t very demanding, but still, nice job.  Anne Hathaway turned out to be the biggest surprise here.  Her character/target, Daphne Kruger, was a famous actress who was initially shallow, flaky and stupid. But she turned out to be a lot smarter and less oblivious than we thought.   The 8 women and their different personalities blended very well.  Will we see more of this in the sequel?

 

What about the cinematography, the pretty images?  Well, they were beautiful.  Cinematographer Eigil Byrd did a great job with it.  I loved all the cutaways and two way scenes.  Gary Ross did a good job directing Ocean’s 8.  You can tell that he, the stars and everyone else had a lot of fun making this movie.  That’s what makes it fun to watch.  Did it have problems?  Reasons for me not to like it?  Of course, but not many. *mild spoilers* I was kinda disappointed not to see Danny Ocean pop up at some point in the movie.  I was hoping his death was just another con.  Sadly, that wasn’t the case.  Plus, I never understood Daphne’s motives. *mild spoiler alert over*

If you like fun, fast-paced movies that shouldn’t keep you guessing, but do, then watch Ocean’s 8.  Awesome cast, good directions and great costumes.  What more could you want.  But it also makes me slightly paranoid for some reason too.  Haha.  I’d give Ocean’s 8 an 8.5 out of 10.   It’s in theaters now.  Go see it.

 

 

Review for “The Favorite Sister”

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A while ago, I read Jessica Knoll’s last novel, Luckiest Girl Alive.  I didn’t like the protagonist of the novel, Ani, for most of the book.  But I did sympathize with her.  She’d been through a lot and it made her into a hard shell of a person.  By the end of the book, you kinda realized that maybe she wasn’t a hard shell after all. It was just a facade.  And I kinda liked her after all.  Just kinda.  Can we say the same thing about the main characters in her newest novel, The Favorite Sister?  Let’s found out, shall we?

 

I usually try to refrain from writing bad reviews.  That’s usually very easy for me because I can find the good in almost anything or anyone.  Almost, like 70% of the time.  Maybe 80?  Anyways, the good in this book is that it’s very well-written.  The book was kind of addictive.  The not-so-good things about The Favorite Sister are the characters.  They’re stars of a reality show called Goal Diggers.  I’ve never come across more shallow, superficial, vain and selfish characters in a book.  Maybe they’re supposed to be, I don’t know.  The only likable character in the book was Layla, Kelly’s daughter.  But she wasn’t in the book very much.  None of the characters cared very much about anything other than being famous.  You quickly get the impression that they would–and often did–anything to stay in the spotlight and be the star of Goal Diggers.  Clawing their ways to the top.  I was astounded and disgusted by all the things these characters did, said and thought about each other.  You did get a really good look into Kelly’s, Brett’s and Stephanie’s psyches.  But you also just wanted them to shut the hell up.

 

Call me naive, but for a long time, I actually believed that reality TV was….real.  I thought it was interesting that people can be so open and honest in front of strangers.  Form friendships and even relationships while having a filming crew following you everywhere.  Then much later, I found out that ‘reality TV’ is basically another acting job.  At least some of the time.  Then you find yourself wondering what is real and what is fiction.  Then reality TV just lost its appeal for me.  So reading The Favorite Sister wasn’t a total chore.  It gave a good look into reality shows and what they’re really like.  The book was called a mystery, but there isn’t much mystery in here.  It’s mostly drama.  It leaves you wondering why women are often so vicious towards each other.  It’s unnecessary.

This leaves me with quite a pickle.  The book overall wasn’t that bad.  Jessica Knoll really is a good writer.  But the characters in this book?  Ugh, I hated them all so much except for Layla.  There were good points in the book about feminism and such, but I’m not sure I’ll ever read it again.  Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.  Anyway, I give it 4.5 out of 10.  Don’t let me dissuade you from reading it.  It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Review for “13 Reasons Why: Season 2”

The first season of the controversial 13 Reasons Why was….pretty intense. Okay, very intense. It certainly got people talking, yelling and just scared. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it, but it was a very good show the first season. So it wasn’t the least bit surprising when a second season was ordered. It still gets people talking. But is it as good as the first?

Hannah:

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The 2nd season is still very Hannah-centric. It almost felt like she never died. But part of me wished that it wasn’t like that. I’ve learned things about Hannah–bullying, lying, keeping more secrets etc. Things that made it very hard to feel sorry for her. Hannah is so frustrating!

 

Clay:

Clay in 13 reasons why

So was Clay. He was certainly a complex character. He’s a generally good person, but also kinda self-righteous and annoying. There were times I just wanted to slap him. When he found out about Zach and Hannah being a couple. Hannah wasn’t Clay’s girlfriend. He couldn’t even tell her how he felt about her. Zach could. Or like the Polaroid scenes. He implied that the girls were asking for it. Luckily, Sheri set him straight. Unfortunately, though, there are a lot of people who think that. And that’s one of the reasons why so many victims are so scared to come forward. Clay was far less sympathetic this time around.

The big 180s:

 

 

 

Of course I’m talking about Courtney and Kevin Porter. Last season, both were insufferable. Though I liked Porter more. This season, they were like completely different people. They grew as characters and learned from their mistakes. I was very proud of them both. The sad part was that Porter lost his job. Then again, it’s probably for the best. He’ll be able to help more people in an environment full of people who don’t cover their asses all of the time.

The new characters:

newbie traitor in 13 reasons why

Mixed bag. I liked Cyrus and Mackenzie–kinda. I thought it was very nice that Tyler had friends who accepted him. At least until episode 11.  I was glad that Jessica had a friend in Nina at first.  But then I hated her for stealing those Polaroids and burning them.  She kept talking about her story, but she didn’t think about the other victims.  What if they wanted to move on?  Get those bastards who hurt them in jail for life?  Jessica needed those photos!  Because of Nina, that bastard Bryce isn’t in jail where he belongs.  Chloe was a sweet girl, but I hated her for staying with Bryce.  Even though she knows what he did to her, Hannah, Jessica and who knows who else.  I hated the bitchy lawyer, but she was good at her job.  Bryce parents?  Both actors did a good job, but I didn’t like them either.

Poor Tyler:

Tyler in 13 reasins why

 

Tyler has done some messed up things on this show.  Then again, what character here hasn’t?  But I’ve always had sympathy and empathy for him.  Maybe I should hate him, but I don’t at all.  I was happy that Tyler had friends for accepted him for who he is.  I was happy that Tyler finally got help for all of the issues he had.  I was definitely happy that he was beginning to be happy again.  But then that happened.  I think you all know which scene I’m talking about.  It still makes me wanna throw up!  To hell with Monty and his goons!  Why did they do that to him?!  Just as Tyler was beginning to be happy again.  Shaking my damn head.  Which leads to the next section…..

The Ending at the Prom:  Normally, I’m not one to condone any kind of violence in real life.  But in the world of fiction, I often make exceptions.  After all, they’re not real people.  Just characters on a show.  So it’s safe to wish death on them.  As you all may know, Clay was somehow able to talk Tyler out of shooting up the school.  But I actually wish he didn’t.  This is bad of me to say, but I wanted Tyler to shoot up the school. And I was actually disappointed when he didn’t.   It would’ve been much more fitting to just let him do it.  I mean, he was apparently pushed to his limit.  Someone pushed to their limit wouldn’t listen to Clay and have them risk another friend’s freedom just to save someone they don’t even like.  But then again, Clay does have a huge hero complex.

Jessica:  She was the star of this season.  Definitely.  I so desperately wanted her to get justice.  Who knows?  Maybe she will next season.  If not, I’m sure that many fanfiction writers make sure she does.

Jessica in 13 reasons why

Overall, the season was just okay.  It didn’t pack the same general punch as the previous season.  Too many characters and situations pissed me off.  I guess I’d give it 5 out of 10.

Review for Face/Off

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Synopsis: A police captain goes undercover to stop the terrorists who murdered his son many years before.

Cast: John Travolta as Sean Archer, Nicolas Cage as Castor Troy, Joan Allen as Dr. Eve Archer

I guess I have a soft spot and/or occasional interest in thrillers from the 1990s. I was…..too young to be seeing any of these movies in theaters. My parents only let me watch an R-rated movie maybe once or twice. I don’t know. There’s just something about movies from that era. Fast-paced, crazy, over-the-top movies that also make you think. This time, I’m talking about Face/Off. Let’s get into the review.

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It’s difficult to say who gave the better performance in Face/Off—Travolta or Cage. Both of them are very good actors.  Even though at least one of them has fallen from grace, somewhat. I think they both did great jobs playing both villains and good guys.  Well, good but frazzled, overworked guys.  But they were at their best when they had scenes together.  and there were plenty of those.  I wondered if they were/are friends in real life.  Probably not, but bravo gentlemen.  The other actors did a good job in their roles too.  But they weren’t particularly memorable.

It’s pretty rare to see actors play both the good guy and the bad in the same movie.  But…. read above paragraph.  I kinda wish that this kind of thing could be shown in movies more.  I guess they don’t because it’s too challenging?  Maybe?  The execution of the movie was very over-the-top, crazy and maybe a little nonsensical.  But none of that really matters because it works so well onscreen.  John Woo did an exceptional job directing this movie.  The writing was mostly very good too.  The action scenes are among the best I’ve seen in a movie.  So many breathtaking ones, it’s hard to choose which ones.  The very last scene?  The hangar scene?  Ugh!  So many good ones!  Fan nerd’s dream! I’d see a movie by this team again.

Over-the-top, insane but ultimately very entertaining, this was one action-packed, cling-on-the-edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.  It was never dull for one second, and it’s worth a million rewatches.  It never gets old.  I give Face/Off  a 8.5 out of 10.  I’d highly recommend it, and it’s available on Netflix or on online stores.

Review for “Nerve”

Nerve movie posterSynopsis:  A high school graduate plays an online reality game that changes her life forever.

 

Cast:  Emma Roberts as Vee, Dave Franco as Ian, Miles Heizer as Tommy

 

Venus–known mostly here as V– isn’t one to walk on the wild side.  A watcher in game speak.  She envies her best friend, Sydney, who is a self-described adrenalin junkie.   A player.  Sydney is popular on this online-reality game called “Nerve”.  Which is basically a game where you have to do a lot of dares, in front of an online audience.  After V gets rejected by a boy she likes, she impulsively decides to join “Nerve” as a player.  Will this be a major game changer for her?  Let’s find out.

 

Emma Roberts did a fantastic job as V.  She had the shy, never-taking-a-risk thing down pat.  I will say that I miss watching her be evil on Scream Queens.  I also liked her chemistry with Dave Franco.  Ian was a fun character to watch.  He’s great in his scenes without her, but their scenes together are the best.  Miles Heizer did a believable job as the computer nerd who worried about his best friend.  No other performances really stood out for me.

 

Oftentimes, teen movies are boring and predictable and, worst of all, very forgettable.  This one wasn’t.  I guess it’s because the whole take-a-risk thing is something people of all ages can relate to.  But it also reminds us that taking a risk isn’t always the best thing for us.  It can be foolish, too risky and even dangerous.  Nerve also showed many scenes of people in cliques, people who had a severe case of mob mentality.  We all know that conformity and being a sheep can be very, very bad.  It seems to be about becoming your own person, away from the crowd.  Good job, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost.

 

The film certain had its imperfections, but overall, I thought it was good.  Intentionally or not, Nerve taught some good lessons.  I’d give it a 7 out of 10.  It’s on Hulu right now.