Wednesday 1 September 2021

Monthly Recap: August 2021

I'm having a really hard time believing how fast this year is passing by? Like, how the hell is it September already? How have I already wasted eight months of 2021?

I'm not even sure how I wasted the month of August. I worked half the days of July and yet I managed to do way less stuff than I did then. I even had five days of (unpaid) vacation and didn't do much then either. I went to Gran Sasso one day, and I enjoyed it — although many times as I glanced upon the CIMA, I questioned my choice of spending my last day off to climb rocks to get to the top of a mountain when the weather said it would rain. I did make it to the top though — and took some pretty pictures — and the rain thankfully only came when I was safe in the car. 

Which brings me to the next point, the law of attraction, manifestation or whatever you want to call it. I always thought it was bullshit but I've been giving it some thought lately as well as a chance, and maybe it works after all. I mean, I manifested a beautiful day in the mountains, sunny but not too hot, and that's how it went. It literally started pouring rain after I came down and closed the car's door. And even if it's just a coincidence and it doesn't work, it doesn't cost anything to put it out there in the universe. I know, I know, I sound so delusional right now. 

I finally hit my goal of reading 30 books this year but, other than that, I did very poorly here as I only read a couple of books. Which is very little considering all the free time I had.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller broke me. I knew how the story would end right from the start and yet it was such a compelling novel from start to finish. It is also very moving and heartbreaking, and the romance between Patroclus and Achilles is handled beautifully. I loved it so much I couldn't even put it down when my eyes hurt. 

Normal People by Sally Rooney was simply fantastic. The plot is reminiscent of David Nicholl's One Day (a book I loathed, and took me years to finish) but it so much better written, it reads so well, the characters are flawed and quite fucked up but you still care about them; the relationship are well-developed — both the one between Connell and Marianne and those they each have with other people — and even the supporting characters are well written. It is fun, insightful, intelligent, heartbreaking, and it feels so damn real. 

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel was a real struggle. This book was suggested to me by someone on Twitter and I was already expecting to not like it considering I wasn't a fan of this person's other suggestions. But I was definitely not expecting to struggle so much with it. Maybe it's because I never cared for Henry the 8th, Cromwell, the Boylens, and all that, but I found this book so, so boring. I only finished it because it was on my 2021 reading list. 

I've also started reading Circe by Madeline Miller — I'm enjoying it so far but I can already tell it's no The Song of Achilles —, and am re-reading George Orwell's 1984 in German for learning purposes — this one is taking me forever because the writing is rather complex and the text in my edition is very small and it hurts my eyes to read too much of it at once. 

The End of the F***ing World

Although many people suggested this series, I never cared to watch it nor to read what it was about so when I finally checked it out earlier last month I was really surprised as it definitely was not the teen drama I was expecting. In a good way. The plot isn't always the most compelling and I enjoyed season 1 more than 2, but I loved the characters of James and Alyssa and their weird relationship. And the acting is more than solid.

Normal People

I could say that  I don't do well watching series or movies when I already know the story but that wouldn't explain how I can rewatch a movie hundreds of times and never get bored of them. Anyway, I thought the series was boring and had a very hard time focusing on it. There are some major key differences between the novel and the series (this article explains them very well) that made the series work even less. And the casting of Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne... in which universe is she ugly or unconventionally beautiful? She is gorgeous and on top of that, she can rock a bang like few people can. 

I haven't watched a lot of movies either, only 10, but I'm expecting to do much worse this month as I'll be busy with the new seasons of Money Heist and Sex Education. And will probably catch up on season 2 of Ted Lasso. So, yeah, expect the next recap to feature no movies. 

Bo Burnham: Inside (2021)

Plot: A musical comedy special shot and performed by Bo Burnham, alone, over the course of a very unusual year.

I'm not Burnham's biggest fan but people wouldn't stop talking about his special for Netflix so I checked it out. And it's not bad. Actually, it's pretty good. There are some parts are that a bit boring and not funny, but there are some pretty funny and brilliant parts, and the songs are very catchy. Rating: 3,5/5

Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)

Plot: A rogue artificial intelligence (Don Cheadle) kidnaps the son (Cedric Joe) of famed basketball player LeBron James, who then has to work with Bugs Bunny to win a basketball game.

The original Space Jam was one of my favourite movies as a child and, although adult me sees how flawed that movie is, it still has a special place in my heart. Hence, I don't know why I thought it was a good idea to watch this sequel. And it was just as bad as I was expecting it to be. It doesn't bring anything new in terms of story, in terms of themes, it's just a bad, very bad remake of the original. There's Michael B. Jordan but he can't save this mess. Rating: 1,5/5

Kung Fu Panda (2008) - Review | Rewatch

Plot: A lazy, irreverent slacker panda, Po (Jack Black), sees his dream become reality when he is chosen as the Dragon Warrior and must become a Kung Fu Master in order to save the Valley of Peace from a villainous snow leopard, Tai Lung (Ian McShane).

This is one of the few movies Netflix has in German with literal German subtitles so I ended up rewatching it. And it was just as good as I remembered it. It's very simple, dialogue wise, which I loved considering how basic my German still is, and, despite the language barrier, it still managed to make me cry. Rating: 4/5

The Suicide Squad (2021)

Plot: Supervillains Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena) and a collection of nutty cons at Belle Reve prison join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X as they are dropped off at the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese.

I had high expectations for this one because I love Gunn and I read such positive reviews online. Unfortunately, it didn't work at all for me. While I loved Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, King Shark, and the soundtrack, the overall movie feels like a parody of superhero movies. Most of the jokes and gags are old and don't work, and the story was so damn boring. I know I'm almost on an island alone, but I actually enjoyed the original Suicide Squad a bit more than this. Courtney's review is exactly how I felt. Rating: 2/5

Memories of Murder [살인의 추억 Sarinui chueok] (2003)

Plot: In a small Korean province in 1986, two detectives (Song Kang-ho and Kim Sang-kyung) struggle with the case of multiple young women being found raped and murdered by an unknown culprit.

I'm hating myself so much right now because this film is terrific and I couldn't even be bothered to write a full review for it. While it's not Bong Joon-ho's best, it's compelling from start to finish, the characters are well-written and developed, and the acting is great. There are a few sequences that feel out of place — it's typical Bong Joon-ho to have violent sequences, but the fight at the sushi place, for instance, doesn't feel very genuine as it looks like a sequence from a cheap martial arts movie. Rating: 4,5/5

Zola (2020)

Plot: A stripper named Zola embarks on a wild road trip to Florida.

Saying this film was a disappointment is an understatement. I went in with very high expectations because of Film Twitter but it was so bad. The story is insane and it's very hard to believe it happened for real, but it's also very boring. It is a very stylish film, though, and the acting is good. Rating: 2/5

Our Friend (2019)

Plot: After receiving life-altering news, a couple (Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck) finds unexpected support from their best friend (Jason Segel), who puts his own life on hold and moves into their family home, bringing an impact much greater and more profound than anyone could have imagined.

I had no idea what this movie was about when I decided to watch it. I had heard it has Dakota Johnson's best performance that was enough for me. Had I known the plot, I probably would have never watched it because it hurt so much to watch it. A woman I knew died of cancer, and she wasn't even forty. She left a loving husband and two kid daughters. The filmmaker handles the story so well, with such heart and sensitivity, and the performances are so, so good, that I felt like watching that woman and her family. The scene where she's watching her daughters laugh on the couch with her husband and she starts crying because she is going to miss that, and the letters she wrote them because of all of their milestones she will miss... those scenes fucking broke me. Rating: 3,5/5

Stepmom (1998)

Plot: A terminally-ill woman (Susan Sarandon) must deal with her ex-husband's new lover (Julia Roberts), who will be their children's stepmother.

Do I get a prize for watching two cancer movies in a row by accident? Anyway, unlike the one above, this is a very clichéd and predictable movie whose purpose is to make you cry, and it's definitely not the best movie of the genre. But it still is a quite enjoyable flick. Rating: 3/5

I'm No Longer Here [Ya No Estoy Aqui] (2019)

Plot: In Monterrey, Mexico, a young street gang spends their days dancing to slowed-down cumbia and attending parties. After a mix-up with a local cartel, their leader (Juan Daniel García Treviño) is forced to migrate to the U.S. but quickly longs to return home.

I didn't like this one as much as I would have wanted as it didn't always compel me (I was actually quite bored most of the time), but the cinematography is gorgeous and the Kolumbia subculture comes across as vibrant and fascinating, and the leading performance is great. Rating: 3/5

The Wounded Man [L'Homme Blessé] (1983)

Plot: A young man (Jean-Hugues Anglade) discovers his homosexuality and begins a relationship with a manipulative hustler/petty criminal (Vittorio Mezzogiorno) that he meets at a train station.

I have to thank an Italian book-tuber for making me discover this film because, while I didn't love it as I found it a bit too slow for my tastes, it still is a rather compelling story of (homo)sexual awakening, and the performances are more than solid. Also, I need to mention how handsome Vittorio Mezzogiorno was. Like, what aren't Italian men built like that anymore?! Rating: 3/5


  1. I wish more people talked about The End of the F***ing World, it feels like it's a show that slipped under the radar. It's so different to anything else I've seen!

    1. It is so true! There's only a friend of mine (and some on Twitter) who watched it, and it definitely needs to be seen by more. Unfortunately most people only watch the cheesy teen series on Netflix.