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2017-08-03 08:25 pm

Movie of the Week: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian movie posterOh dear. Where to start with this one? Luc Besson directed one of my all-time favourites, Fifth Element, so I had every hope this would be good. Visually it's imaginative (though I'm glad we saw it in 2-D)


You knew there's be a but, didn't you?

This whole thing was so badly miscast that it was ridiculous. Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) who is 31 in real life, looked like he'd just stepped out of a high school movie. I'd be generous if I said he looked anywhere close to eighteen. Cara Delevingne, model turned actress, looked about the same age. They were a pretty pair, but totally unbelievable as the leads, and the chemistry between them was nonexistent. Clive Owen as the villain, was dialling it in. I hope they paid him well because it won't look good on his resumee.

I kept wondering whether it would have been better with Bruce Willis in the lead role. (Yeah I get that it's adapted from a comic, so BW doesn't fit the bill, but surely they could have found someone with a bit more gravitas.)

That's a couple of hours of my life that I wish I could get back. Give this one a miss. Save up your cinemoney for The Dark Tower or Kingsmen 2.

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2017-08-03 08:06 pm

Movie of the Week: Spiderman - Homecoming

Spider Man HomecomingHaving been integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and into The Avengers in the recent Captain America Civil War, Peter Parker has to return to school like any ordinary kid. Unlike ordinary kids he has his spidey powers and though this is not a return to (yet another) origin story it is a coming of age story where Peter learns to use his powers responsibly (by making a few colossal mistakes, of course). He's too eager, too cocky and - well - a pretty typical teen, really.

Mentored by Tony Stark/Iron Man Parker comes face to face with Vulture, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), whose salvage company has been sidelined and business ruined when the government decides that independent contractors can't be trusted to clean up the alien tech after the Battle of New York. Toomes keeps the tech and turns it into super weapons, selling them to foreign buyers illegally.

I wasn't sure the world needed yet another Spiderman reboot, but I'm absolutely convinced by this one. Parker carries the film well. Robert Downey Jnr. puts in a solidly charismatic performance as Iron Man, but perhaps the most interesting aspect in Michael Keaton's semi-sympathetic portrayal of the Vulture. You can see how a good citizen turns bad, but Adrian Toomes is a villain, but he isn't all bad. It's a nuanced performance that adds another dimension.

I enjoyed this movie immensely.

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2017-08-03 08:02 pm

One more question for those wise in the ways of Dreamwidth

When I edit a DW post and re-save it, why does it add the word 'Save' to the text. You can see an example of this at the end of my Wonder Woman blogpost, here. https://jacey.dreamwidth.org/573134.html
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2017-08-03 07:25 pm

Movie of the Week: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman MovieGal Gadot is Wonder Woman. She wears the part naturally and fulfils the promise of her appearance in Batman v Superman. This is the origin story. Diana of Themyscira, princess of the Amazons, reared on a paradise island inhabited by a society of warrior women is unaware of the rest of the world until the First World War, in the shape of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) come crashing (literally) on to the island. It's 1918. Diana is determined that she should leave the island to end the conflict. Believing Ares is responsible for the war, Diana arms herself with the "Godkiller" sword, the Lasso of Hestia, and armor before leaving Themyscira with Trevor to find and destroy Ares (whom she believes to be masquerading as German General Ludendorff).

Full marks also to Lucy Davis who plays Steve Trevor's secretary, Etta Candy, a woman in a man's world, competent and capable

I've never seen Christ Pine in anything I didn't like and his supporting role in this move hits the mark perfectly. There's good chemistry between the two leads, but Trevor never steals Gadot's thunder.

This is a movie of firsts (first superhero featurting a female lead, first Marvel superhero movie directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins). Diana is a badass without surrending her femininity. Sure the movie isn't perfect, but I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to the next.

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2017-08-03 12:53 pm

Movie of the Week: Pirates of the Caribbean 5 - Salazar's Revenge

Pirates of the Caribbean - Salazar's RevengeWhat's not to like about the 'Pirates' movie franchise. Yeah, okay, the first was the best. It's hard to match that reveal as Johnny Depp sails into the harbour on a sinking boat, but they've all got charm. And this one has the ending that we've been waiting for since Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann were separated by fate.

Henry Turner, son of Elizabeth and will is searching for the Trident of Neptune in the belief that it will end his father's curse. To find the trident he needs to find Jack Sparrow (looking no older now than he did in the first movie). But someone else is also looking for Jack, Salazar was tricked into sailing into the Devil's Triangle by a (much younger) Jack Sparrow and is now undead. Understandably, he harbours a grudge.

Several twists and a romantic sub-plot later it all works out all right in the end - but you didn't need me to tell you that.

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2017-08-03 12:40 pm

Movie of the Week: The Mummy

Movie poster - The MummyTom Cruise in a remake of The Mummy should have been good, but somewhere along the road it lost the sense of humour that made the first Brendan Fraser Mummy movie so good. Don't get me wrong, this is a perfectly acceptable action flick, with some good special effects (the kind we take for granted these days) but it's not memorable.

Does anyone else think that Mr Cruise has a picture in the attic?

jacey: (Default)
2017-08-02 11:02 pm
Entry tags:

Am I the thickest person on the planet?

I know I managed it last time, but today I simply can't  post an image to my Dreamwidth blog, so I'm piling up movie-of-the-week posts and booklog posts. I paste the URL into the Insert/edit image panel, but all I get is the broken picture image.

If DW was based originally on LiveJournal, why on earth can't it simplify the way it handles images? LJ's image uploading was a doddle. I can't believe that DW will only take images from the web, so I can't post them from my computer (unless I set up the whole email posting thing, which also seems to have drawbacks in terms of formatting, i.e. pics at the end of the blogpost, not integrated). I don't do Instagram, so if I have an image on my hard drive am I supposed to post it to a website before I can upload it to DW? What a palaver!

Your input welcome. Thanks.
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2017-08-02 06:48 pm

Catching Up

Apologies in advance for bombarding you with upcoming movie logs and book logs. I have at least five movies to catch up with and seven or eight books. I've been so busy putting Nimbus to bed that I haven't caught up with my logs. Please bear with me. There will be a flurry and then it will be back to the usual steady rate.
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2017-08-02 04:58 am

Over on the other blog at https://jaceybedford.wordpress.com/

News: 2017

1st August
Looking forward to Worldcon in Helsinki. I have one panel on Sunday afternoon 13th August: 15:00 - 16:00, 216 (Messukeskus) History as World Building. Using knowledge and research of real-life history as world-building fantasy and science fiction. Thomas Årnfelt, Jacey Bedford, Heather Rose Jones (M), Jo Walton, Angus Watson

27th July
New blog post:
Bladdered or Shitfaced? The gentle art of word choice and the bogglement of page-proofing.
11th July
New blog post Corwen Silverwolf Speaks
26th June
New blog post History Lends Perspective
13th June
New blog post Life, Death and the Writer’s Pen

28th May
New blog post Some Random Thoughts on Revisions and Edits

16th May
New blog post on Due Process
2nd May
New blog post on Worldbuilding for a Series
20th April
New blog post on Committing Trilogy

19th April
Two pairs of Rowankind books (Winterwood and Silverwolf) will be up for auction at Con or Bust on 24th April to raise funds to send fans of colour to conventions.

4th April
New blog post on Cover reveal NIMBUS
22nd March
New blog post on Stories Far and Near
21st February
New blog post on Agent Update
17th February
New Blog post available now on Keeping your Nose to the Grindstone.
10th February
I'm sad to say goodbye to my literary agent, Amy Boggs, but delighted to announce that my new literary agent is Donald Maass of DMLA
4th February
I am interviewed for File 770. With a book giveaway. Thanks to Mike Glyer for hosting and Carl Slaughter for writing.

28th January
My guest post for the Qwilley on half-and-half worldbuilding is now up.

27th January
My guest post on Beginning at the Beginning is now up at Unbound Worlds.
24th January
My blog post on Ten Quick Tips for Writers is available now
16th January
My guest post is up on the I Smell Sheep blog. Corwen speaks out.
14th January
My guest blog on alt.history versus historical fantasy on Arched Doorway.
9th January
My post on the publication of Silverwolf is up today on my blog

Silverwolf3rd January


Silverwolf is out today!

3rd January
Great to see Silverwolf mentioned in new releases at Tor.com
3rd January
What Has Milford Ever Done for Me? My guest blog post is up on the Milford blog today.
3rd January
Nice review of Silverwolf from JoJo the Bookaholic:
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2017-06-05 08:42 pm

Book Log 46: Catherine Curzon & Willow Winsham: The Crown Spire

The coach carrying Alice Ingram and her niece, Beth, along the Great North Road is attacked and the ladies are rescued by a pair of dashing highwaymen and deposited in a wayside inn where Beth meets and falls for Ed, the landlord and Alice has her sprained ankle attended by a somewhat austere doctor. This is a story of double identity, of Alice’s flight from a brutish husband and Beth’s attempts to avoid marrying one. It’s also a double romance, for neither the innkeeper not the doctor are quite what they seem. Though parts of this book were enjoyable there were bits that my brain kept stumbling over as being impractical. The chaps seemed very adept about climbing into bedroom windows as if there was a staircase outside, and I wasn’t sure how Alice intended to flee from her husband merely by changing her name, when her place of refuge was her SISTER. For goodness sake, wouldn’t that be the first place hubby looked? The husband is mentioned a few times but apart from the highwaymen in the opening, all the danger and action is in the last ten percent of the book, which felt slightly out of balance.Save
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2017-06-05 08:38 pm

Book Log 45/2017 - Sarah M. Eden: A Fine Gentleman

A Regency romance with a bit of a twist. Jason Jonquil is a younger brother of a titled household, making his own way in the world as a barrister and trying to uphold his station in life as a gentleman, but when Mariposa Thornton walks into his life with a task which is somewhat beneath his dignity, he finds himself doing all he can to help the infuriating woman. She's been ousted from her home in Spain by the Iberian Peninsular wars and is desperately trying to find what's left of her family whom she believes may have fled to their English relatives.There are a few twists and turns, largely caused by Mariposa not being entirely forthcoming about her real quest or the man she believes means to harm her family. It took me a while to warm to Mariposa and Jason as a characters. In the end it's all resolved without bloodshed. I was somewhat disappointed that a character whom we never meet, but hear much of, doesn't have his story resolved at the end. It may be resolved in one of her other Jonquil Brothers books, but I had this as a review copy from Netgalley and the blurb didn't mention that it was number four in a series. To its credit it stood up on its own, except for resolving this particular character. Now that I know it's a series, I guess the next brother will be resolved in another book.
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2017-05-29 09:09 pm

Book Log 44/2017 - Gwynth Jones: Proof of Concept

Locked away in an underground bunker (a massive cave) for a year-long experiment to find the secret of star-travel, Kir, a young scientist with a super-computer in her brain tries to figure out what’s really going on.

Is it me? I read a lot of science fiction, but there were times when I simply didn't follow this. Not sure it makes me like it if it makes me feel stupid. And I REALLY wanted to like it. The blurb for the book explained things far more clearly than the text did. Sadly the jargon, somewhat hazy explanations and the heroine Kir who seemed strangely incurious and unemotional even when her emotions should have been screaming at her, put me off this.
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2017-05-29 06:14 pm


Sorry if I've been out of the loop, I've been writing, but at last I'm getting to the end of Nimbus. I just have to do a final read-through now before sending it off to my editor. As soon as it goes I'll be working on the next one, of course.

It's a wet and misty bank holiday Monday, so I've just had a massive catch-up day posting my book logs and movie-of-the-week posts. Though to be honest it's been a bit of a thin few weeks for movies - or at least for the movies that we want to see. My cinebuddy, H and I try to go on a Tuesday or a Wednesday afternoon, taking advantage of the Meerkat Movie two-for-one offer. We make a beeline for science fiction and fantasy. We really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy 2, though both of us drew the line at Alien Covenant, since Promethius was so bad. Luckily we have Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and Wonder Woman coming up.

It's been a busy few weeks at Bedford Towers with several musician friends passing through - often with barely any time to change bedding between visits. Our washer and dryer have been working overtime and I've been trying to remember who's allergic to what when planning meals. One is dairy, eggs and gluten intolerant, another is onions, and one of them is allergic to 'pretty much everything except fish and a few vegetables, but luckily is happy to cook suitable meals separately.

First Tania Opland and Mike Freeman from Washington State via Ireland. Then it was the Northwrite weekend with four writers staying for our critique day on the Sunday.

As the last writer left on Monday Morning, Dan McKinnon (Canada) arrived from the airport. Cloudstreet

Dan left and James Keelaghan and Hugh McMillan arrived, also from Canada,

The day that they left Cloudstreet (right), John, Nicole and Emma, arrived from Australia, so it's been pretty full-on, but we have a few weeks now before Cloudstreet swing back again as they arrive to do three gigs in Yorkshire at the end of the month.

Then we have a few days before Dan returns, this time with his wife, Nancy, who's joining him for the last part of the tour,

I have some of the best houseguests.

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2017-05-29 05:38 pm

Movie of the Week: King Arthur - Legend of the Sword

As movies go this one wasn't as bad as some of the reviews I've seen. The real problem was that it tried to present itself as a King Arthur movie while abandoning all elements of the legend apart from the sword in the stone and the names Uther, Vortigern and - oh yes - Arthur. Merlin got a brief mention but all of the magic came from his apprentice, a witch (unnamed). If the movie had simply presented itself as a second world fantasy it might have been better received.

Charlie Hunnam made a passable hero and Jude Law a slimy villain, but the 'castle' stretched credibility somewhat, though Londinium did look to be growing out of the remnants of Roman occupation. Maybe having a kung-fu master called George was a little out of place, but - hey - there was so much out of place that picking one thing would be mean.

So... Vortigern betrays Uther and Arthur - as a small boy - escapes downriver in a boat. He's rescued and brought up by whores in a brothel, gradually going from being protected to being protector and ruling the criminal element of the docklands, until he gets whisked off along with a load of other young ment the right age to try his hand with the sword in the stone. Vortigern quite rightly wants to discover who his rival might be and put an end to him.

Yes, of course, in trying to avoid the prophecy of the true born king, Vortigern puts everything into place for it to be fulfilled.

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2017-05-29 05:13 pm

Movie of the Week: Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Anyone can save the Galaxy once... so second time around Star Lord has some additional help from old foes who become new allies - Nebula, Yondu and Mantis. Add to that a delightful Baby Groot. (How can an animated twig be so appealing?) Of course the original team - Peter's family -  is still on board, Rocky, Gamora and Drax.

The opening sequesnce is merely a warm-up for the main tale as our hereoes battle the Abilisk - something that looks like a space octopus -  to protect some super-shiny batteries for their current employers, the Sovereigns (Nice cameo from Ben Browder in gold paint.) Of course they manage to upset the Sovereigns and after a space battle end up crash-landing on a planet where Peter Quill/Star Lord meets his father (Kurt Russell as Ego - the clue is in the name) and discovers he's half a god - unfortunately not the all-powerful half. In the process he learns more about the true meaning of family.

This is fun all the way with hijinx and mayhem plus some smart one liners. I found it just as enjoyable as the original. Highly recommended.

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2017-05-29 04:57 pm

Movie of the Week: Their Finest

Gemma Arterton plays Catrin Cole, a newly appointed script writer working on wartime propaganda films in the middle of London in the Blitz. The Ministry of Information wants a film that the public will relate to, so when Catrin finds a tale of two sisters who took part in the Dunkirk evacuation they jump on it as a possible storyline. Working with fellow writer Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) and over-the-hill actor Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) they gradually pull it all together, though not everything goes their way. Catrin faces many challenges, personal and professional but succeeds. The overall tome of the movie is sweet.
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2017-05-29 04:54 pm

Book Log 43/2017 - Ben Aaronovitch: Rivers of London - Body Work Peter Grant #4.5

Peter Grant #4.5 Graphic Novel

I'm not generally very good at reading graphic novels (I don't always identify the drawn characters from one frame to the next) but this is an exception. The artwork (Lee Sullivan and Luis Guerrero) is sumptuous and every frame is clear. I got the hardback edition which combines the five 'chapters' issued separately, and I'm so glad I did. It's even a signed limited edition - number 84/1000 - from Forbidden Planet.

The story, by Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel, is a case for Peter Grant. A haunted car (or maybe cars). It's short and sweet, but a welcome return to the London of Peter Grant and the weirdos at the Folly, with a host of favourite characters, Nightingale, Molly and Toby, of course, but also Guleed and Stephanopoulos.
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2017-05-29 04:51 pm

Book Log 42/2017 - Ben Aaronovitch: The Furthest Station – Peter Grant #5.7

A novella set in the period between Foxglove Summer and The Hanging Tree which sees Peter Grant and Jaget Kumar of the British Transport Police (one of the regularly recurring characters in the series) trying to sort out a ghost on the underground. As a novella, there’s not as much time for the ongoing story ark, so this doesn’t delve into the defection of Lesley May, but it does bring in Peter’s teenage proto-wizard cousin and a nascent river god who has been adopted by a well-meaning childless couple. An excellent stopgap while we’re waiting for the next full length book. It’s got all the trademark elements of the series and Peter’s wry and funny ‘voice’.

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2017-05-29 04:40 pm

Book Log 41/2017 - Robyn Bennis: The Guns Above – Signal Airship #1

Lieutenant Josette Dupre is a female auxiliary in Garnia’s air corps fighting both in the never-ending war against the Vins, and against the position of women as second class citizens. Chauvinism is rife. The female auxiliaries are banned from combat, but when her Captain is killed in battle, Josette’s bravery and resourcefulness earn her command of her own ship. Garnia’s first female captain is regarded as an affront as far as the general is concerned, so he sends a spy, his foppish nephew Bernat, to observe and send back reports that will effectively construct a character assassination in order to get Josette demoted and posted to the fever swamps. Bernat is a hedonist, a flirt and a gambler with as much military savvy as a teacup (He can shoot straight, but he doesn't know how to load a rifle because they have servants for that kind of thing.). In addition to everything else, Josette’s new ship is a new and untested design. While she’s still conducting air trials, she’s swept into combat. The one thing that Josette is good at is military strategy, but being female, she still doesn’t get any credit for taking down an enemy airship and scouting to discover that the Vins are about to attack on a second front.

I really wanted to like this book. The blurb made it sound amazing, but it was a bit too much of a one-note for me I wanted more from the characterization, or maybe more change in the characters over the course of the book. Neither Josette nor Bernat are particularly likeable Josette is angry most of the time and admits she’s not good at getting people (especially her crew) to like her. Bernat suggests that she gets more out of them by being relentlessly scary, which is not innately appealing. Other reviewers said they thought the book was funny as well as violent. I must need a sense of humour transplant because it didn’t strike me as funny at all. Josette was very much the angry young woman while Bernat was the clueless fop. And though there were moments when it seemed that both might be inching towards a change of attitude, those moments were few and far between. Bernat found his spine towards the end, but I didn’t feel that Josette had changed much throughout the story. The war between Garnia and the Vins seems to have no real cause and is masterminded by incompetents if the general is anything to go by, (He’s very two dimensional.)

Kudos to the author for working out exactly how a steampunky airship works, from where the struts go, and the properties of luftgas, to how the whole shebang reacts when a canon is fired from her hurricane deck, or how the riggers need to move to keep the vessel balanced. It’s a great authorial feat, but I’m not sure we, as readers, need to know all the nitty gritty several times over. This book seemed to be little more than battle after battle. I would have liked to know a little more about what made Josette and Bernat tick.
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2017-05-29 04:37 pm

Book Log 40/2017 - Sebastien de Castell: Spellslinger

Kellen is a fifteen year old mage in training, but despite his father being one of the greatest wizards of the age, and his younger sister already having more potential than is good for her, his own magic seems to be fading fast. If he can’t pass the three mage trials he’s going to end up in the servant classes, something he dreads. Apart from his own future, his failure will also threaten his father’s standing as he hustles for the leadership of the clan. But Kellen is not entirely without resources. He’s intelligent, observant and asks the right questions. He wins his first mage duel, the first trial, by cunning and psychology rather than magic, but it all goes sour when his own sister accuses him of cheating and nearly kills him. He’s saved by Ferius Fairfax, a mysterious Argosi traveller who lives by her wits and a deck of cards. Difficult and unpredictable, Ferius nudges Kellen in the direction of doing the right thing, which loses him friends, but gains him a somewhat fierce talking squirrel-cat. There are a lot of twists in this. Characters are not always what they seem to be. Kellen is let down by the people he trusts the most, and finds help where he least expects it. This is an excellent introduction to this magical world. I haven’t read any Sebastien de Castell before, but I’ll certainly be looking out for the rest of this series.