MatthewSean Reviews

Book reviews, movie reviews, and other writing

Book Review – Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovitch — November 25, 2012

Book Review – Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovitch

Facts:

  • Book: Moon Over Soho
  • Author: Ben Aaronovitch
  • Genre: Fiction (Mystery / Fantasy)
  • Year of Release: 2011
  • Read 288-page paperback edition in November 2012.

Book Description: This is book 2 in Aaronovitch’s series following British detective Peter Grant, who is assigned to the 2-person unit of the London Metropolitan Police that investigates strange cases involving the magical underworld.  In this book, Grant must determine who or what is behind killings in the Soho district, and who or what is so obsessed with jazz musicians that they are killing these people at an alarming rate.

Book Review: I had not read the first book of this series for over a year, so I was worried I would not have a lot of the backstory to fully understand and appreciate this second book.  Thankfully, this book is mostly a standalone novel that you don’t necessarily need to read book one (although it helps).  The author does a great job of weaving mystery, fantasy, police procedural themes, and a lot of humour into the story, and they all intermingle and interplay in a nice way.  Ben Aaronovitch has done a great job with creating strong characters in his lead, Peter Grant, as well as his boss, Inspector Nightingale, as well as some other unique characters like the mysterious housekeeper to Nightingale and new secondary characters for this book.  The villains for this book are appropriately mysterious as we work with Grant to uncover the magical underbelly of the story.  The one downside was that there was a lot of predictability related to some of the plot, especially related to Grant’s love interest for this book.  Overall though, a great story and a great fusion of mystery, fantasy, crime, and humour.

Overall: 4 stars out of 5

Movie Review – Albert Nobbs (2011) —

Movie Review – Albert Nobbs (2011)

Movie Review: This movie, starring Glenn Close as the title character, was about Mr. Albert Nobbs, a woman posing as a man in late 19th century Dublin, Ireland, so she could find a job as a waiter in an era where sexism was rampant and equality was not considered important.  Glenn Close does an amazing job as the actress playing Mr. Nobbs, and Close actually got involved behind the scenes with co-producing and co-writing the screenplay on this project as well.  The film had some strong and heavy messages, and for the most part did a great job at bringing them to our attention.  There were lots of serious and sad situations going on here, and the viewer was treated to many of them, as well as seeing a glimpse of Mr. Nobbs’ suffering behind the closed bedroom door of his servants quarters as well.  The struggle with gender identity after so many years acting as  a man was also very intriguing.  Although some of the themes could have been explored in more detail, overall this film did a great job at showcasing a complex story in a difficult era.

Overall Review: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars

Movie Review – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) —

Movie Review – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

Movie Review: This British film centres around a number of older British folks who, for various reasons, find themselves short on cash and nowhere to go as they enter various phases of retirement and older age.  They read about the Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Aged and Beautiful, in India, and decide to make the journey there for a better retirement life.  However, what they find there challenges their thoughts and views, and gives them various levels of culture shock.  Overall, Director John Madden has done an awesome job bringing this amazing story to life, using colour and sound to bring the vibrancy and crowded Indian urban life to the screen.  The British actors and actresses do outstanding work in this movie, with Judi Dench shining as a recently widowed woman striving to make it on her own, and Maggie Smith as a racist, wheelchair-bound woman who needs to learn lessons in humility.  Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire fame does an incredible job as the excited hotel manager.   The movie has high points and low points as these characters intermingle in India, and overall, this movie is definitely one worth watching!

Overall Review: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars

Movie Review – Skyfall (2012) — November 12, 2012

Movie Review – Skyfall (2012)

Movie Review: The latest Bond movie, Skyfall, finally landed in theatres after protracted difficulties surrounding the recent bankruptcy and restructuring of MGM Studios.  Thankfully, the details have been taken care of, and the result is one of the best Bond films of all time.  The storyline is incredibly fast-paced and action-packed, while still creating deeply personal and emotional explorations as well, which many Bond films fail to achieve.  The shots of Shanghai are truly incredible and mind-boggling as it illustrates China’s rise.  Counterpoint to this setting are the scenes shot in Scotland and England are equally beautiful in showcasing the natural beauty of the UK’s rugged terrain and historical architecture.   Daniel Craig proves himself (again) to be an incredible James Bond, with the physical strength, the emotional complexity, and the Bond charm that is required in this role.  The series is truly in good hands knowing Craig is going to be reprising the role for at least the next couple films as well.  Judi Dench as M, and guest star Albert Finney, do an amazing job in the film in their roles, and the combination of solid acting, solid script, and action sequences that wow the audience make this film a perfect Bond movie.  The theme from UK singer Adele is a perfect Bond opening, reminding us of the beautiful opening to Goldfinger.  This movie truly gets is right.  Well done!

Overall Review: 5 stars out of 5 stars

Book Review – The Pilgrimage – Paulo Coelho —

Book Review – The Pilgrimage – Paulo Coelho

Facts:

  • Book: The Pilgrimage
  • Author: Paulo Coelho
  • Genre: Non-Fiction
  • Year of Release: 1987
  • Read 265-page hardcover edition in November 2012.

Book Description: This non-fiction book follows Paulo Coelho’s modern-day pilgrimage for enlightenment and spiritual discovery along northern Spain’s Road to San Tiago.  Along the journey, Coelho has miraculous encounters and meets an array of interesting people and spectacles.

Book Review: This was an adventurous book written by Brazilian Paulo Coelho, and was actually written a year before his fictional story The Alchemist.  One can see a lot of The Alchemist inside this non-fictional tale, and can see how Paulo Coelho’s real-life experiences influenced the writing of The Alchemist.  There are many grains of wisdom and thought-provoking material inside this spiritual adventure, however at the same time the book sometimes gets a little bit ahead of itself.  At times it seems the material is disjointed, and despite some grains of useful wisdom, there are also many exercises and lessons taught in the book which are likely a little bit beyond the usefulness factor of most readers.  It is likely a different novel/book would be more useful for readers who are looking for spiritual exploration for their own lives today.  Still, an interesting read nonetheless, especially if one wants a good backstory to The Alchemist.

Overall: 3 stars out of 5