Month: May 2016

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley – Book Review

mistsI first read this book when in highschool, and had only vague memories of it, so when I spotted it in friend’s book collection while housesitting I was curious to read it again. Turns out, I also forgot what a slab this book was – my friend’s deceptively small edition stood at mammoth 1,000 pages. That’s a long time to spend on one book, but overall it was worth the re-read.

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X-Men: Apocalypse – Film Review

xmenapocalypseimax-1There’s a scene in this movie where a bunch of young students from Xavier’s school discuss Return of the Jedi and one of them remarks that the third movie is always the worst, a knowing wink to the audience that was probably meant to refer to X-Men: The Last Stand, the much-hated third entry of the original X-Men trilogy. A movie’s gotta be careful with a line like this in case it comes to bite it on its ass, and man does it come to bite, hard. It’s not just the worst film in the trilogy that got started in the 60s with X-Men: First Class, I’m tempted to call it the worst X-Men film ever made, if only for the fact that it was the first time I was bored watching an X-Men movie. This disappointment doesn’t exactly come as a surprise seeing that I wasn’t a big fan of Days of Future Past, the previous offering from the writer Simon Kinberg and director Bryan Singer, which flattened most of the great character work seen in First Class, wasted or underused most of its cast and was full of dumb contrivances. Still, I had hopes that, with the continuity now reset courtesy of the time travel plot, something new and different will be done with the franchise, but nope, instead Apocalypse feels like a tedious, messy, over-familiar rehash of the elements seen in these series over and over again.

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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – Book Review

cloud-atlas-cover-imageWhat a book. Its scope and ambition made me feel like I’ve read multiple books and been away on a very very long journey. At one point it even gets cheekily self-referential when one of its protagonists wonders out loud, “Revolutionary or gimmicky?” Neither, from my perspective, but it’s one hell of a remarkable book. It can frustrate and demand patience at times, but it’s immensely rewarding the more you stick with it.

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Vietnam Week 2

We stayed in Hoi An for three nights, and it was totally worth it: it’s an incredibly pretty place, especially enchanting at night. We did another countryside excursion on the second day, this time on a mountain bike. By the end of the trip, I felt like some parts of me might never be the same again, but it was a fun day out. Among other things, we got to make our own rice noodles for lunch.

I’ve never heard of Nha Trang before, and it turned out to be a coastal resorty place, full of Russian tourists. It was bizarre seeing Russian signage and menus everywhere. We had a full day boat trip on the bay, including snorkelling which unfortunately I didn’t get to do since I can’t see much without my glasses. The water however was lovely and warm, and I really tried to squeeze in as much sunbathing and swimming as possible before coming back to Melbourne and the impending winter.

Once in Ho Chi Minh City (our group leader never called it so, preferring the old name of Saigon), I finally gathered enough courage to try the frog. It tasted kinda like chicken and caused many Kermit jokes around the table. I really liked the city and its wide shaded boulevards, even if the street traffic here was at its most intimidating to cross.

Vietnam Week 1

I’m back from my two-week trip to Vietnam, and it’s amazing how quickly the rubber band snaps right back and the whole thing feels like a dream. Thankfully, there are photos to remind of all the good times had. It was a big success all-around: great group and leader, a wide variety of experiences, yummy food. The weather was humid and got progressively hotter as we went further south, but other than sweating like a piggie I bore it surprisingly well. The only real low point came when I ate something dodgy couple of hours before boarding the overnight train. Food poisoning and bumpy Vietnamese train and me with my motion sickness… let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. It’s probably a karma payback for all those times in Egypt and India when I was almost the only person in the group without tummy troubles.

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Joy – Film Review

joyI watched this movie on my flight from Singapore to Hanoi. International flights are usually a chance for me to catch up with the movies I never bothered to see at the cinema and I often end up watching a whole load of rubbish. Joy isn’t quite rubbish, but it’s not particularly good either. It’s a third straight collaboration between David O. Russell and his Oscar-winning muse Jennifer Lawrence, and it’s easily the weakest of the three. Though ultimately forgettable, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle at least entertained me while I watched them, but Joy just never gets off the ground.

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