films

The Girl with All the Gifts – Black Characters Matter

 

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Hello, fellow book junkies! Now that I’m on summer break, I’ve been going like gangbusters with writing and editing three YA novels. One of my projects is a YA fantasy about a girl who can vanish into shadows and longs to see the world but can’t because her family keeps to themselves. Then she learns the shocking reason why.

I recently made a big change in the second draft of that story. It was originally set in the distant past, but I switched it to a couple of hundred years in the future, and now it’s working much better and has an interesting new vibe. I likely got the idea for the time switch from two books I’ve read recently/am reading: Ready Player One and The Girl With All the Gifts, the latter being an adult zombie story with a POV that blew my mind.  (Beware, it gets scary as sh*t.)

The movie version of The Girl With All the Gifts hit UK theaters this week (maybe the US too, but I can’t seem to find it). As a reader who fell head over heals for the character Ms. Justineau, imagine my dismay when I discovered how the producers decided to cast her role.

In the book, Ms. Justineau is depicted as a 40s-ish dark-skinned black woman, in my imagination, kind of like Teyonah Parris:

In the movie, this is how the producers cast her:

Gemma-Arterton02.jpg

?!!? I mean, come on. Nothing against Gemma Arterton, who’s probably a fine actress and certainly is lovely but, well, she’s 30 and so white. Honestly, I felt betrayed and sad, as if the fictional 40-year-old black Ms. Justineau  I adored has been erased.

Other notes about casting for this movie: Glen Close was a good choice, I think, to play the sort of mad scientist Dr. Caldwell, and it seems the movie producers decided to try and balance the color scales by casting the little girl Melanie, who in the book is white, with a black actress.

Okay, but . . .

Ms. . .

Justineau. . .

— Eve Messenger

 

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The Bookish Academy Awards of the Past 12 Months

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Cue the spotlights, it’s time for the Bookish Academy Awards. Out of all the books I’ve read in the past 12 months, these are the winners. Thanks to Brittany @ The Grisha Lieutenant for tagging me and for having such spectacular taste in books.

Best Male Protagonist

Kell from V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic because he’s sympathetic and unique, with a mysterious past that I want to learn more about. (Note: Will and Jem from Infernal Devices were close runners-up in this category.)

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Kell by Victoria Ying

Best Female Protagonist

For her curiosity, bravery, fierce talent for magic, and strong moral compass, I choose Celia Bowen from The Night Circus. Even as a little orphaned girl of six, Celia refused to allow the fearsome magician to intimidate her and speak badly about her mother.

Celia Bowen by mockingbird465

Best Plot Twist

Everything about The Knife of Never Letting Go is twisted, especially the plot.

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Best Book Cover

I haven’t read The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson yet, but for some reason I am really drawn to the cover.

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Best Supporting Character

Kenji Kishimoto in Unravel Me. He’s an accomplished fighter with a sympathetic history, and what I love about him most is his sense of humor and fun-loving nature.

Kenji Kishimoto: “You are moody. It’s always ‘Shut up, Kenji.’ ‘Go to sleep, Kenji.’ ‘No one wants to see you naked, Kenji.’ When I know for a fact that there are thousands of people who would love to see me naked—“

Juliette and Kenji by Ice Ridden

Most Unique World

Magonia features a world unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

Best Screenplay Adaptation

Room with Brie Larson. Watching this movie was honestly like seeing the book come to life. I’ve been a huge fan of Brie Larson’s for a while now, and I’m excited to see her getting starring roles. What a great actress.

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A Book You Would Love to See Animated

The Night Circus, except what I’d be most interested in is an animated version of a prequel featuring the story of Tsukiko and Hinata.

Best Author

V.E. Schwab. I love her writing and everything about her.

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Best Collection of Short Stories

Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction (2003). I don’t read a lot of short fiction, but I picked up this anthology on a whim at the library and really enjoyed it. There are stories by lots of famous fantasy and sci-fi YA writers. My favorite was “Hope Chest” by Garth Nix.

Best Historical or Historical Fiction

I don’t read much historical fiction, but I’m liking it more and more. Not sure if this book counts, but I’ll go with Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier.

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Best Book of the Year

Applause, please, for the big winner of the night, A Darker Shade of Magic. The characters, the story, the unique and magical world, I loved everything about this book.

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 Tag, you’re it:

Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand Stories

Beth @ Betwixt These Pages

Jesalin @ Blogging Everything Beautiful

Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets

Rae @ BookmarkChronicles

Morgan @ Hopeless Book Addict

Jocelyn @ 52 Letters in the Alphabet

Amanda @ Cover2Cover Mom

 

Fantastic Winter Break Binge-Watch : Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones

Holy female badass, Netflix’s Jessica Jones is Marvel-ous. Great casting, acting, music, writing, and cinematography aside, Jessica Jones (played by Ann Hathaway lookalike Krysten Ritter) is a character you’d want to watch even if she didn’t possess superpowers. (J.J. Abrams and Disney would do well to take note of how this show does it–characters with depth are infinitely more watchable.)

Beneath Jessica Jones’ ability to throw 300-lb. guys through walls is an aching fragility. She is conflicted, pissed, boozy, shit-talking, embraces her own sexuality, thinks fast on her feet, and is devoted to what she does. Jessica’s bordering-on-con-artist skills as a private detective are especially entertaining.

More than any other series except Orange is the New Black, Jessica Jones brims with a perfect cast of strong, interesting female characters, notably Carrie-Ann Moss of Matrix/Trinity fame and Australian actress Rachael Taylor (who at first I could have sworn was Elisha Cuthbert all grown up) .

In case you haven’t watched Jennifer Jones yet, I’ll hold back from revealing which actor was chosen to play the sociopathic, mind-controlling supervillain, but I’ll say this: it was a genius casting decision.

–Eve Messenger (who occasionally takes time away from writing and reading to watch TV shows and movies, especially during a blissful event called three-week winter break.)

40+ Time Travel Movies

Redemption, magic, nostalgia, revelation, danger – what’s not to love about time travel movies? If you’re a time travel movie buff like me, you’ll probably enjoy this list of 40+ time travel movies and maybe agree or strongly disagree with their rankings. Most of these films feature characters who slip through time on some sort of cosmic magic (rather than building their own Wellesian time machines), so a more accurate term for them would be “time slip” or “time loop” movie. Enjoy! And please let me know if there are any other great time travel movies I should add to the list. 

1. Groundhog Day – A masterpiece. Harold Ramis and Bill Murray achieve the perfect balance of comedy and drama.

2. 12 Monkeys – The concept, look, and acting are brilliant. In true Terry Gilliam fashion, this is a one-of-a-kind film. Also made into a 2015 Syfy series.

3. Terminator 1 – Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese might just have my vote for all-time favorite movie romance.

4. Donnie Darko – A masterfully dark film with brilliant acting. Real-life siblings Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal play siblings in the film.

5. 13 Going on 30 – Pure fun. Love the ‘80s references and the magic.

6. Somewhere in Time – Heartbreakingly lovely film score and perfect location: the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Before she got into selling heart necklaces, Jane Seymour was a stunning and talented actress, at her most exquisite in this film. I would have gone back in time for Elise McKenna, too.

7. Source Code – Exciting, surprising, with first-rate acting.

8. 9 Times – I’ll admit I cheated with this one since 9 Times is actually a Korean miniseries, but I love it so much I had to include it.

9. Butterfly Effect – Dark, intriguing, underrated. 113 minutes of screen time with Ashton Kutcher is never a bad thing.

10. Fetching Cody – Indie, quirky, loved it.

11. The Family Man – A lot of heart, excellent redemption movie.

12. Back to the Future – Classic fun.

13. About Time – Sweet, romantic, totally worth watching. Domhall Gleeson is the perfect everyman.

14. Idiocracy – Great commentary on reality TV society.

15. Looper – Big budget, compelling.  Some sci-fi purists are put off by how this movie breaks time travel rules, but I was happy to suspend disbelief, especially since I’m a big fan of Emily Blunt’s. Incidentally, three movies on this list star Emily Blunt — maybe she likes time travel movies, too.

16. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Well shot and romantic, but couldn’t live up to the beautiful book by Audrey Niffenegger.

17. The Edge of Tomorrow – An exciting film that would have been much better with a different actor in the lead role.

18. Peggy Sue Got Married – Cute, worth watching

19. It’s a Wonderful Life – A classic and the only black and white movie on this list.

20. Hot Tub Time Machine – I’m not too proud to say I like silly movies, especially when they involve time travel.

21. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – A classic romp and actually kind of educational.

21a. Happy Accidents. Marissa Tomei.

22. The Adjustment Bureau – Creative concept. Would have been better if Matt Damon and Emily Blunt had had better chemistry.

23. Safety Not Guaranteed – Total indie, mostly in a good way. Aubrey Plaza is hilarious in every role she plays.

24. Sliding Doors –Interesting ideas. Alternate realities were edited together well.

24a. Sound of My Voice – Compelling docu-style indie flick. Rough around the edges with something troublingly beautiful at its heart.

24b. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is another film on this list tied for 24th place. FAQATT stars Chris O’Dowd, who’s always fun to watch. The film has an overall goofy feel, but there are dark and shocking moments as well. Anna Faris was a refreshing surprise.

25. Twice Upon a Yesterday – Had an uneven tone but worth watching. Recognize the brunette on the right? Yep, that’s Lena Headey (aka, Game of Thrones’ Circe).

26. Millenium – Great concept based on a John Varley short story, but the 1989 movie looks out of date. This is a movie that must be remade.

27. Minority Report – Slick. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.

28. Time Bandits – This movie is not my cup of tea, but some people love it.

29. Heaven Can Wait – A classic that might feel slow-paced to modern moviegoers.

30. Shuffle – Indie, troubling in a good way, a little disjointed, but that happens sometimes in time travel movies.

31. The Philadelphia Experiment – Typical ‘80s dick flick. Some conspiracy theorists claim this film is based on a true story, as in an entire naval ship really did disappear.

32. Frequency – Some people really like this movie, but it didn’t really do it for me.

33. The Lake House – Interesting concept but didn’t have much life.

34. Heart and Souls – Unique and sustained my interest, but like many of early Robert Downey, Jr. movies there was something a bit off about it.

35. Primer – Indie, good concept, realistic, but maybe a little too much testosterone and technical stuff for me because I kept falling asleep.

36. Touchback – Sweet if not a little too simplistic.

37. From Time to Time – Good cast but slow.

38. A Kid in King Arthur’s Court – Cute.

39. Bedtime Stories – Adam Sandler is in it and there’s magic; that’s about it.

40. I’ll Follow You Down – I had high hopes for this one, especially since Gillian Anderson is in it (“Fall,” anyone?). The movie looks good, but it really disappointed in the time travel department.