Tuesday, 12 April 2016

February Recap

Okay, I'm slow, but I get there in the end! 


Spotlight, which I saw with Debbie, was really excellent. I thought it was a superbly-acted and really hard-hitting look at the scandal of abuse in the Catholic church, and the dark humour which ran through it at times stopped it from being unbearably bleak. Massively powerful, it's easy to see why this has done so well in awards - I said in my January recap that Room would have my vote of the five Best Picture nominees I'd seen at that point, but I'm glad this won.

I went with Stacey to see my first Cineworld secret screening, hoping against hope that it would be Deadpool, but knowing it was pretty unlikely. It turned out to be Triple 9, which I'm not sure I'd have seen normally, but actually enjoyed. Woody Harrelson's performance was especially good, while I thought the plot was better than I was expecting from the trailer, with a couple of interesting twists.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a fun watch - I really liked most of the cast, Matt Smith stealing the show as Mr Collins in so many scenes, but Lily James making a wonderful Elizabeth. I also thought the humour worked well, and the action scenes were decent. Minor quibble is that the VERY ending (post-credit scene) annoyed the heck out of me, but well worth watching anyway.

Me, Debbie, Stacey, Charlie and Lili went to see Deadpool, which we were all highly anticipating and definitely lived up to expectations! One of my two favourite superhero movies of recent years (the other being Guardians of the Galaxy), I loved the humour here and thought the film captured the feel of the comics brilliantly. It was also really exciting, with some superb sequences.

I saw Jem and the Holograms with Debbie not really knowing what to expect - I was a big fan of the cartoon as a kid and have enjoyed what I've read of the recent comics. As an adaptation it seems kind of pointless, it's so far away from the original. (Does Jem have THAT many fans that the name value is worth it?!) Taken on its own terms, I really enjoyed it though - it's a cute script, Aubrey Peeples as Jem and the other lead girls are really good, the the music is fun and the ending was just what I wanted. In addition, the mid-credits scene has me intrigued for a possible sequel. (Although not convinced that's particularly likely, to judge from the box office.)

Me and Faye saw The Finest Hours, which was basically everything I expected/wanted from a Disney disaster movie. Fairly maudlin story, but well-acted - especially by Chris Pine and Holliday Grainger, the storm felt suitably epic, and the ending felt sentimental and a bit manipulative, but worked. (Hey, I cried!)

My film of the month - and my favourite central performance this year by some way - was Trumbo, with Bryan Cranston magnificent as the screenwriter blacklisted by 1950s Hollywood. Funny, moving, dramatic and featuring a fantastic script with pretty much every actor outstanding, I thought this was breathtakingly good. (Also it's too spoilery to get specific, but Dean O'Gorman as Kirk Douglas has one of my favourite lines ever.)

Others I saw and was less keen on - The Revenant (soooo long!), Dad's Army (ending was good, but overall thought I'd have been better just watching three episodes of the original TV series!) and Secret in their Eyes (was really enjoying but the ending killed it for me.)


I saw Cirque Berserk with Debbie, who's a big circus fan and who's getting me interested in it. I thought it was slightly mixed overall but the best bits were brilliant and it was definitely worth seeing. The acrobats were clearly the highlight for me, and I'm keen to see more from Zippo's in the future - they're definitely a company to watch.

My parents came down for the weekend and we went to see Sunny Afternoon together, as my dad's a big fan of The Kinks. The script is terrible, even by jukebox musical standards, but there are some outstanding songs here - especially in the second half. An acapella version of Days, in particular, was completely gorgeous and it was pretty much worth seeing the show for that alone. If you're a fan of the band, this is one that definitely won't disappoint.

Show of the month is a joint one again - I saw In The Heights (one of last month's winners!) for the third time in four months and, as previously, it was tremendous. Keris, Susie and Lili who came with me all agreed that this is a really fantastic show. However I also saw Nell Gwynn, somewhat unexpectedly, grabbing a front row day seat for just £15. Gemma Arterton in the title role is incredible, the rest of the cast are excellent too (I was especially thrilled to see Michelle Dotrice, a childhood crush of mine!) and it's an utterly hilarious script. I prefer musicals to straight plays normally but this was really amazingly good.

Other cool stuff

I went to lots of amazing launches, for authors I really love! In London, I attended launches for Melinda Salisbury's The Sleeping Prince with LOTS of my favourite bloggers (followed by Nando's afterwards, which is always good!), Alwyn Hamilton's Rebel of the Sands and Katherine Woodfine's Mystery of the Jewelled Moth - both with Charlie and Stacey - and Abi Elphinstone's The Shadow Keeper with too many amazing people to mention. (And followed that one up by going for cocktails with Debbie at The Marylebone just down the road from Daunt Books, before she headed over to the O2 for a Coldplay gig.)

I also ventured outside of London to Brighton's Waterstones for the launch of Beautiful Broken Things, Sara Barnard's debut. I don't make it to that many events in Brighton as it sometimes seems just that little bit too far, but there was no way I was missing the launch of this - it's one of my favourite UKYA books of the year and it was fantastic to celebrate with Sara.

Another great bookish event was the Faber blogger brunch, which saw fabulous authors Laure Eve and Alwyn Hamilton talk about their books. I'm already a big fan of Alwyn's Rebel of the Sands and am desperate to read The Graces after hearing tantalising things about it from Laure herself, and from various lucky authors on Twitter who've read early! (Sadly I had to decline an invitation to join some friends at Ma' Plucker's afterwards which was a shame as it sounded BRILLIANT - check out Debbie's review here.)

We went to Simmons Bar Tower Bridge, a new venue for #drinkYA. I'm not sure we'd go back, as it wasn't that convenient for most people, but they had some nice cocktails and a great crowd of people turned up so it was a fun evening.

Two really fun afternoons at my friend Daphne's house - book club was great as always, but we also got the excitement of helping put together boxes for her brilliant Illumicrate! It was fantastic to help out with these (and I was super-excited to get mine!), and I've loved seeing the reactions from people receving them. (Although was it really too much to hope for that in all of the unboxings ONE person would comment saying that the pencils were especially well-packed?!) I'm looking forward to going back to help pack up the May boxes, and would highly recommend subscribing if you love great books and awesome swag!

I also planned the 5-4-3-2-1 feature which started at Teens on Moon Lane and moved over to this blog during February - it was amazing to get books picked out for pretty much the entire year, and a 'wishlist' of contributors sorted, really quickly. I had lots of help with that from my friend Caitlin - huge thanks to her! (Also go read her awesome blog at Chronically Caitlin!)

There will be a books recap over at Teens on Moon Lane eventually (although I've not actually got the January one up there yet, so should probably sort that one first, or follow Caitlin's advice and combine the two...) but I also wanted to give a shout out to Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, which is my favourite UKYA book of the year so far. In Alice's second book she gives us a stunning story looking at the weight of expectations, internet culture, different kinds of love and so much more. It has a diverse set of characters who are brilliantly portrayed and this is an absolute must-read.

Have you written a February recap? (And/or a March one, assuming you're more timely than me?) Link me in the comments!

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