Cassandra Clare: City of Bones (2007) Mortal Instruments I Book and Movie

City of Bones

A couple of weeks ago I watched the movie City of Bones and liked the imagery and the story so much, I had to pick up the book. The movie got dreadful reviews; it seems I’m the only one who really liked it. The book was said to be much better. It’s tricky to read a book after having watched a film with such stunning visuals. For the first 200 pages I didn’t really see the descriptions of the book but the movie images. After that I got a better feel for the book because it contained some major plot elements which had been left out in the film.

The story might be familiar to you by now. Clary and her best friend Simon live in New York City. One night they go to the Pandemonium Club and Clary witnesses a murder. Funny enough Simon can’t see anything. Neither the murder, nor the people who commit it. When Clary’s mum is abducted a little while later, and Clary is attacked by a demon, it dawns on her that the life she has been living might have been a lie.

Together with her friend Simon, Jace, one of the guys who committed the murder, and his friends, she embarks on a big adventure. Clary like Jace is no real human. She is a shadow hunter. Shadow hunters kill demons, but they co-exist with downworlders like werewolves and vampires. I’m not going to write much more about the plot as it’s one of those that is easily spoilt.

I thought the movie did a good job at tightening the plot. Maybe if I had read the book first, I would have missed the scenes and episodes that were cut but I thought they were not that gripping. Clary’s interior monologue in the book is often silly, like when she wonders why there are only good-looking vampires. I’m going to spare you her reasoning. It’s NOT clever. Interestingly though, the greatest appeal of the book are the dialogue sections. Jace, Clary and Simon and not only witty but very sarcastic, which made me chuckle quite a few times.

Overall I would say, book and movie both have their strengths, but I prefered the movie because I absolutely loved the imagery and the interiors they created – the club, Clary’s house, the church in which the shadowhunters live.  I also liked that they made the plot so much tighter. And I thought the cast was perfect.

What I didn’t like so much in both lies in the nature of this specific type of story. There are numerous ways to tell (urban/dark) fantasy stories. I tend to prefer those in which magic/fantasy are part of the world the characters live in, and their existence are known by everyone, or when the main character is part of the paranormal world. Normal humans who are thrown into a paranormal situation or who discover at the beginning of a book that they aren’t entirely human are just not as appealing to me. I find that these stories stretch believability too much. At the beginning of City of Bones, for example, Clary is a normal teenager and after only one day, she’s immersed in a paranormal world she never knew existed, her mother’s abducted, she’s attacked by demons, werewolves and vampires, but she accepts this without questioning it too much. This premise can work sometimes. Neil Gaiman made it work in Neverwhere, but often it feels unrealistic.

Anyway, it’s an entertaining book and I might even read part two, if only for the dialogue. If there is another movie, I’ll certainly watch it.

This is my first contribution to Carl’s Once Upon a Time Challenge. Don’t miss the review site, which can be found here.

World Cinema Series 2013 – Wrap up and Winner Announcement

While I’ve not been an active participant in my own event, others have made quite a few contributions, especially Novia (Polychrome Interest) and Ruth (Flixchatter).

As I said at the beginning, the person who covered the most countries will win a DVD for up to 25$ or an amazon voucher.

And the winner is Novia from Polychrome Interest, who reviewed eitght movies from 6 different countries.

Congratulations!

Here are all the reviews

Intro posts

Novroz (Poychrome Interest)

Reviews

Austria

The Wall – Die Wand (2012) – Caroline (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Chile

No (2012) – Fariz (Vampibots)

China

The Flowers of War – Novia (Polychroem Interest)

Red Cliff (2008) – Ruth (Flixchatter)

France

Those Who Remain – Ceux qui restent (2007) – Guy (His Futile Preoccupations)

Holy Motors (2012) – Ruth (Flixchatter)

The Untouchable (2011) – Novia (Polychrome Interest)

Germany

Three Penny Opera – Richard (Caravana de recuerdos)

Lola rennt – Run, Lola, Run (1998) – Akbar Saputra (Me on The Movie)

The Untouchables (2010) – Ruth (Flixchatter)

Funny Games (1997) – Novia (polychrome Interest)

The Edge of Heaven (2007) JoV (JoV’s Book Pyramid)

Indonesia

King – Dhitz (Across Dhitz Universe)

Belenggu (2013) – Akbar Saputra (Me on The Movie)

Iran

About Elly (2009) – Fariz (Vampibots)

Japan

Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below (2011) – Dhitz (Across Dhitz Universe)

Twilight Samurai – Novroz (Polychrome Interest)

Detroit Metal City – Novroz (Polychrome Interest)

Shinjuku Incident (2009) JoV (JoV’s Book Pyramid)

Korea

Perfect Number – Novroz (Polychrome Interest)

Norway

Headhunters (2011) – Ruth (Flixchatter)

Palestine

When Pigs Have Wings – Le Cochon de Gaza (2011) – JoV (JoV’s Book Pyramid)

South Korea

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…. Spring (2003) – Akbar Saputra (Me on The Movie)

Spain

Bolano cercano – Richard (Caravana de recuerdos)

UK

The Beatles – Help – Novia (Polychrome Interest)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail – Novia (Polychrome Interest)

The 39 Steps – TBM (50 Year Project)

Her Majesty Mrs Brown (1997) – Ruth (Flixchatter)

Vietnam

The Scent of Green Papaya – TBM (50Year Project)

Philip K. Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Blade Runner (1968)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

The movie Blade Runner is one of my favourite movies. I liked it so much that I never re-watched it but the mood and the atmosphere and some of the pictures stayed with me. I always meant to read the book it was based on but always forgot about it. After reading Danielle’s review a while back (here) and Brian’s insightful commentary a few weeks ago (here) I thought I really need to do it now. I also did a much more daring thing, I re-watched the movie. Luckily my courage wasn’t punished. It’s still one of my favourite movies of all time. Maybe I even like it more than before.

Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  is set in San Francisco, in a bleak post-war society. Only those who cannot afford to leave Earth and emigrate to Mars, stay on. These are people who have either been too damaged by the fallout, the so-called specials or chickenheads, or those who lack money. Plants and animals have been badly damaged and there are hardly any living animals on Earth anymore. It’s a sign of prosperity if you can buy yourself an animal, any animal, a toad, a sheep, a goat.

Rick Deckard is a cop, or rather a bounty hunter assigned to hunt and “retire” androids who have escaped and turned against humans, starting to kill them. A new generation of androids, the Nexus 6, look and act exactly like humans but they don’t feel like humans that’s why a test which measures the emotional response can detect whether someone is an android or not. What complicates matters is that some androids have received false memories and don’t know that they are androids.

Deckard’s salary isn’t high but he receives a bonus for every retired android. 6 of these Nexus androids have escaped and need to be hunted. Some of them are quite dangerous. He hopes retiring them will allow him to finally buy a real animal and not just an electric sheep.

I thought it was extremely interesting to read this book and I didn’t expect it to be the way it was. To some extent it’s an almost straightforward noir novel, of course with a sci-fi twist, but it still works like many other bounty hunter or PI novels. But that is only one part, the part that was kept for the movie. The other part is more philosophical and at times a bit confusing. The people in the novel can use an empathy box and also use mood altering devices. The empathy box lets them experience what Mercer, a god-like figure, experiences. Empathy is the key word in this novel. What differentiates the humans from the androids is empathy but even the humans lack it and need to be reconnected to the empathy box. At least that’s how I understood it. What makes a human human is another important question. While the humans call destroying androids “retiring”, the androids see it as getting killed. They feel a real horror of death. It is Deckard’s dilemma that he can no longer pretend that he feels as if they were just machines.

Ridley Scott used the noir elements and turned them into something that has been called cyberpunk. His movie is set in a LA that looks like Hong Kong in which it is constantly night and raining. It’s quite a melancholic movie. The hunter and the hunted are both losers, the characters are much more complex than in the book.

I didn’t expect book and movie to be alike but I didn’t expect them to be this different. I absolutely love the movie but I didn’t love the book. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it but it’s pale in comparison. I found it much colder, and it lacked the mood and atmosphere of the film. The androids in the movie seem more human while some of their acts in the book made me despise them.

Brian has written an in-depth analysis in which he focusses on the philosophical aspects of the novel. I’ve read the book for the first time and certainly didn’t get all of it. So if you’d like to know more about those aspects here is the reviw. And here another review from Anna.

525 Free Movies Online – Classics, Indies, Noir, Western and Shorts

Maybe I’m the last to find out about this but if I’m not, I’m sure a lot of you will be interested in this amazing resource. Open Culture provides links to 525 movies which you can watch for free online. Some on YouTube, some on their own page.

I’ve been meaning to watch some of the Tarkovsky movies like Solaris and Stalker again and they are available here. So are Ivan’s Childhood, and Mirror and some more.

Of course you’ll find many other movies and film directors too.

I also like that they included some short movies which won prizes like the French short J’attendrai le prochain which I included above. There are quite a few silent movies and documentaries too.

For people interested in film and film history, this is an invaluable site.

Should you not be interested in film, you may still have a look and find other interesting things like free courses and books. The categories are listed in the side bar.

World Cinema Series 2013

I suppose one could say that the World Cinema Series is back by popular demand. When I posted the wrap up, I realized that there really were quite a lot of contributions and just because I wasn’t highly active, that didn’t mean others were equally inactive.

There were comments and questions about whether or not it would take place again. And so the World Cinema Series is back.

The rules are really simple. The idea is to watch movies from as many different countries as possible. It’s also possible to pick a lot of subtitled movies from one country like some of you have done last year. However in order to make points and win a prize, you would have to cover as many countries a possible.

Like last year, the person who covers the most countries will win a DVD or a 25$ amazon voucher.

I will collect all the reviews on the World Cinema Series 2013 page. Please leave your links there or in this post.

I hope for as many participants as possible and to discover a lot of great movies. And I also hope I will manage to review more than last year myself.

I would also like to post at least bimonthly wrap up posts.

Like last year, Richard from Caravana de recuerdos is hosting a similar event, the Foreign Film Festival. You are free to submit your reviews to both events.

To put you in the mood I attached a trailer of a movie I’d like to watch one of these days.

World Cinema Series – Wrap up and Winner Announcement

I’m not sure what happened to my wish to watch a lot of foreign movies. I did for a while but didn’t review them and then I stopped. This means that my own participation in the  World Cinema Series and Richard’s (Caravana de recuerdos) Foreign Film Festivval  never really took off. While Richard and I were not that active, others were. Especially four people have contributed quite a lot of reviews. At the beginning of the year I had said that

At the end of the year  I will give away a DVD to the person who has managed to cover the most countries.

The winner can choose between a DVD for up to 25$ or an amazon voucher.

And the winner is Guy (Phoenix Cinema/His Futile Preoccupations) who has contributed reviews from 12 different countries.

Congratulations, Guy.

Collectively we have managed to cover over 30 countries. Not a bad result at all. Thanks to everyone who has participated. I hope you will join again next year.

Here are all of the reviews

Argentina

Bar “El Chino”  (2004) – Richard (Caravana de recuerdos)

Australia

Animal Kingdom (2010) – TBM (50 Year Project)

Austria

Klimt (2006) – Obooki (Obooki’s Obloquy)

Brazil 

At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul  (1963) – Obooki (Obooki’s Obloquy)

Besouro aka The Assailant (2009) – Nekoneko (Nekoneko’s Movie Litterbox)

Canada

Familia (2005) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

China

Sleepwalker 3D (2011 Hong Kong) – Nekoneko (Nekoneko’s Movie Litterbox)

House of Flying Daggers -rtm (Flixchatter)

The Road Home (2000) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

In the Mood for Love (2000) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

Happy Together (1997) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

Colombia

Bolivar is me – Bolívar es yo (2002) Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

Czech Republic/ Fromer Czechoslovakia

Protektor (2009) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

Larks on a String (1969) – Dwight (A Common Reader)

Capricious Summer (1968) – Dwight (A Common Reader)

Denmark

In Your Hands (2004) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

The Inheritance (2003) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

Open Hearts (2002) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

Pusher (1996) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

Melancholia (2011) – Caroline (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Aftermath (2004) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

Dancers -Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

Murk (2005) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

France

C’est La Vie (1990) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

Love is my Profession – En cas he malheur (1958) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

La Ronde (1950) – Dwight (A Common Reader)

Amélie – TBM (50 Year Project)

Persepolis (2007) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

When Pigs Have Wings (2011) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

Germany

Soul Kitchen (2009) – Sarah (what we have here is a failure to communicate)

100 Years of Adolf Hitler (1989) – Obboki (Obooki’s Obloquy)

Little Dieter Wants to Fly (1998) – Séamus (Vapour Trails)

Der blaue Engel – The Blue Angel (1930) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) Richard (Caravana de recuerdos)

NaPola (2004) – Novia (Polychrime Interest)

Hungary

Szinbád (1971) – Dwight (A Common Reader)

Iceland

Heima (2007) – Dwight (A Common Reader)

India

Shaapit:The Cursed (2010) – Nekoneko (Nekoneko’s Movie Litterbox)

Indonesia

The Raid: Redemption  (2011) – Novroz (Polychrome Interest)

Pintu Terlarang aka The Forbidden Door (2009 ) – Novroz (Polychrome Interest)

The Raid:Redemption (2012) – Nekoneko (Nekoneko’s Movie Litterbox)

Ireland

His and Hers – Ronan (Filmplicity)

The Guard (2011) – Sarah (what we have here is a failure to communicate)

Ireland (then and now) through Cillian Murphy’s movies The Wind that Shakes the Barley and Perrier’s Bounty – Novroz (Polychrome Interest)

Israel

Lemon Tree (2008) – Caroline Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Kalevet – Rabies (2010) – Nekoneko (Nekoneko’s Movie Litterbox)

Italy

Cinema Paradiso (1988) – rtm (Flixchatter)

Bicycle Thieves – Ladri di biciclette (1948) – Seamus (Vapour Trails)

Life is beautiful (1998) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

Rome Open City – Roma città aperta (1945) Richard (Caravana de recuerdos)

The Conformist (1970) – Séamus (Vapour Trails)

Japan

Whisper of the Heart – Ronan (Filmplicity)

A Story of Floating Weeds (1934) – Dwight (A Common Reader)

13 Assassins (2010) – Novroz (Polychrome Interest)

Kuroneko (1968) – Richard (Caravana de recuerdos)

Woman in the Dunes (1964) Rise (in lieu of a field guide)

Way of Blue Sky – Slice of Life Teen Movie – Dhitzunako (Across Dhitz Universe)

Arrietty (2010) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

Korea

The Fox Familiy – Gumiho gajok   – Obooki (obooki’s obloquy)

War of the Arrows (2011) – Nekoneko (Nekoneko’s Movie Litterbox)

Lebanon

Caramel – Sukkar banat – Caroline (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Malaysia

Alamak…. Toyol (2011) – Nekoneko (Nekoneko’s Movie Litterbox)

Mexico

Miss Bala (2011) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

La Zona (2007) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

Norway

Happy Happy (2010) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

Peru

La ciudad y los perros – The City and the Dogs (1985) – Guy (His Futile Preoccupations)

Philippines

Aswang (2011) – Nekoneko (Nekoneko’s Movie Litterbox)

Poland

The Hour-Glass Sanatorium (1973) -Dwight (A Common Reader)

The Doll (1968) – Dwight (A Common Reader)

 Faithful River (1987) – Dwight (A Common Reader)

Ashes and Diamonds (1958) – Dwight (A Common Reader)

Katyn (2007) Fiona (The Book Coop aka Popcorn Pictures)

Russia

Torpedo Bomber  (1983) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

Shine, Shine, My Star – Gori, Gori, Moya zvezda (1969) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

Tsar – Ronan (Filmplicity)

Father & Son (2003) -TBM (50 Year Project)

Senegal

Moolaadé (2004) – Caroline (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

South Africa

District 9 (2009) – rtm (Flixchatter)

Spain

Cell 211 – Celda 211 (2009) – TBM (50Year Project)

Julia’s Eyes – Ronan (Filmplicity)

Cuadecuc, vampir (1971) – Obooki (obooki’s obloquy)

El abuelo- The Grandfather (1988) – Dwight ( A Common Reader)

La ciudad de los prodigos – City of Marvels (1999) – Diwght (A Common Reader)

Why Do They Call it Love When They Mean Sex? (1993) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

Sweden

Let the Right one In – Låt den rätte komma in (2008) – Novroz (Polychrome Interest)

Everlasting Moments – Eviga Ögonblick (2008) – Caroline (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Thailand 

The Unborn Child (2011) – Nekoneko (Nekoneko’s Movie Litterbox)

Shutter (2004) – Fiona (Popcorn Pictures)

Turkey

Cehennem (2010) – Nekoneko (Nekoneko’s Movie Litterbox)

UK

Route Irish – Ronan (Filmplicity)

An Education (2009) – rtm (Flixchatter)

Nowhere Boy (2009) – rtm (Flixchatter)

Amazing Grace (2006) – Novroz (Polychrome Interest)

US

Prometheus (2012) – Novroz (Polychrome Interest)

Venezuela

Manuela Saénz (2001) – Guy (His Futile Preoccupations)

Yugoslavia

When Father Was Away on Business (1985) – Guy (Phoenix Cinema)

A Christmas Carol (2009) The Kitty Scare Version

Of all the possible movies based on A Christmas Carol I had to pick one of the more recent ones, the animated Disney version from 2009. I had already seen the one with Alistair Sims which is absolutely great and wanted to watch a modern one this time.

I suppose this intro has already  told you what you wanted to know, namely whether I liked it or not. Obviously I didn’t and that’s actually quite sad because it had such a lot of potential. The beginning of this movie is stunning. It really gets you into a white Christmas mood, is atmospherical and appealing. I liked the way they showed the streets of London, up close and from above. The first half is equally good but as soon as the second spirit appears it wasn’t good anymore but extremely annoying. The second spirit is a jovial, bulky man, sitting on the top of a Christmas tree and laughing the most annoying laugh in movie history. It even made the cat run. I tell you, nothing makes that cat run once she is installed on my lap, on top of that, nothing usually scares her. Not even the Hoover. But that mad laugh did it. She fled to her basket behind the TV, far away from the speakers and half an hour later, when there was wild screaming and drama in the final moments of the movie, I had to go see what was happening as the poor little thing was having the mother of all nightmares and squeaking like a piglet.

The cat, I’m happy to report, has recovered but she is a bit grumpy. 

Don't mess with me

I hope others were luckier in their choices or found a more kitty friendly version of A Christmas Carol. I would have watched Great Expectations but I have still 250 pages left to read and will not watch it before I finished the book.