TOP 3 – HBO TV SHOWS written by Miriam

HBO has given us amazing entertainment, groundbreaking, shocking, hilarious entertainment. However, this is only a Top 3 list, so I do not have a lot of space to spare, and also I am not basing this list on the number of viewers or prizes (if I did, The Wire wouldn’t even be on this list). I am solely basing this ranking off my personal taste. So I do apologize to those who are missing Game of Thrones, or Curb Your Enthusiasm, or True Detective on this list, because I can only speak for myself and what I have seen. And the three shows I am about to introduce to you are three of the best TV drama series you will ever have the joy of watching.

TOP 3

3. Boardwalk Empire

The Volstead Act, which introduced the Prohibition era to the United States that lasted from 1920 to 1933, was a bad idea, because it did not work the way it had been planned. Boardwalk Empire shows how a group of gangsters became millionaires by smuggling alcohol into the US every which way, killing whoever stood in-between them and the alcohol they wanted to illegally import into the US. The series centers around Nucky Thompson, played by always awesome Steve Buscemi and based on a real-life person. Nucky is the treasurer of Atlantic City, but basically controls the entire city, and when the Volstead Act is officialized, he and a group of politicians and gangsters decide to cash in. The first 3 seasons of this historic TV show are epic and thrilling, with an amazing ensemble cast, including not only good old Steve, but also Michael K. Williams, Michael Shannon, and Daredevil Charlie Cox. The scale of this superbly written drama really reaches epic proportions, considering the producers were unable to shoot scenes on the actual boardwalk in AC, so they built a new one in another city, furnishing it with amazing details from original 1920’s postcards and photos. The wardrobe and cars used in the show are so true to the prohibition era the production costs must have been astronomically high, and it pays off: anyone watching will definitely feel like they were transported right into the year 1920. Add to that the amazing variety of characters and gripping dialogue (as usual for HBO), this show is just fun to watch. It can be quite gory at times, though (there is a scene in season 2 where someone is literally scalped), so it might not be suitable for people with weak stomachs, but that just proves how amazing the special effects make-up is, as well. Characters you hate will die, and characters you love will die, and you just have to know how the story continues. There are several characters involved in the plot who existed in real life, such as Charlie Luciano, Bugsy Segel, and Al Capone (portrayed perfectly by Stephen Graham), which again proves the attention to detail applied to the writing. Season 4 loses some of the show’s excitement and speed, and season 5 seems like a tired, idea-lacking wrap-up that had me quite disappointed, but the first 3 seasons are just plain brilliant TV drama.

“We been on the road for eighteen hours. I need a bath, some chow, and then you and me sit down, and we talk about who dies, eh?”

“F***in’ tough guy, you gonna shoot me for mouthin’ off?” – I wasn’t going to, but you kinda talked me into it.”

“Untie him. Oh, but before you do, put a bullet in his f***ing head.”

2. The Sopranos

This is a TV drama that basically paved the way for all other TV dramas that followed. There would be no Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, or Dexter, without Tony Soprano and his family of thugs. For those of you who have actually never seen it, it is a show about Tony Soprano, New Jersey mobster and capo and later on the boss of the Soprano clan. Officially employed in waste management, he and his underlings are stone-cold killers who make their living with drugs, prostitution, illegal gambling, and collecting debts. At the same time, however, Tony is a loving father of two children and an unfaithful husband. The show explores themes of faith, family, loyalty, friendship, Italian-American intercultural conflicts, and lays down ground rules for storytelling and dialogue that were revolutionary at the time. Also, you will see some of the finest acting ever broadcast, on the small or big screen. Michael Imperioli especially, portraying Christopher Moltisanti, will tear your heart out with his all-in performance, and was awarded with the Emmy for his efforts. Moreover, I believe it was the first TV show to begin the tradition that was later copied by Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead of killing off characters unexpectedly that you were sure would stay until the very end. Some of the deaths you will see coming, some will hit you completely unprepared and make you weep with either glee or (more often) grief. The show stays brilliant throughout its six seasons, but the finale is, well, debatable. Nonetheless, if you love TV dramas, and you liked Goodfellas, Casino, and of course The Godfather, you need to see this. Even Martin Scorsese himself did not want to miss out on the fun and has a very brief cameo in the first season.

“Who do you think you are?” – “I’m the person who says how things go, that’s who I think I am.”

“You don’t think that human beings possess free will?” – “How come I’m not making f***ing pots in Peru? You’re born to this sh*t. You are what you are.”

“You’re being set up! He’s lying to you, whoever he is!” – “Wouldn’t make any difference.” – “What do you mean, it wouldn’t make any difference?!” – “He wants you dead.”

1. The Wire

Once denoted the “best show that nobody watches,” The Wire is possibly the best TV drama ever created, and still, if you research how many awards the show has received, you will be appalled, and rightly so. Even though it was supposedly suffering from continuously low ratings, luckily the creators managed to produce five whole seasons, and they are a gift to anyone who loves watching high-quality TV drama. At first glance, it seems to be a cop show, but it cannot be compared to Law and Order and the likes thanks to HBO’s liberty to give it a gritty sort of realism, which is what the show is praised for and owes largely to its creators, who are an ex-cop and a journalist, respectively, and know how the real world of crime and punishment works in Baltimore, Maryland. Using their background to thoroughly investigate and tell the story of life in Baltimore from as many angles as possible, the show aims to portray a new point of view in every season. While the first season begins with introducing the police in Baltimore and kicks off the amazing plot by starting the investigation of the Barksdale clan, a drug-dealing organization operating on the streets, the second season introduces the struggles of the dockworkers on the Port of Baltimore. The third season focuses more heavily on Baltimore’s politicians, showing a white councilman’s attempt to become mayor in a predominantly black city. In the fourth season, we enter the school system of Baltimore, while the fifth season places us in the newsroom of a big Baltimore newspaper. The fascinating thing about this multi-faceted way of portraying Baltimore is that we not only learn more and more about the city and how its institutions have an effect on the individual, but that the plot manages to outline not only the stark differences, but also the striking parallels between all these milieus. Giving every character, from the lowest street thug to the richest politician, their moment to shine, we see how every system is built on greed and deception to achieve its goals of surviving and persevering. The Wire is also the only TV drama I can think of that stays equally strong and brilliant in its casting, acting, and storytelling from the first episode to the very last one. If anything, the series finale is the best episode of them all, because it manages to wrap up the story of the entire show by demonstrating how everything always changes and yet stays the same. There is a reason why it has been termed a literary show. It is beautiful, skillfully crafted, and yet still entertaining enough for people who prefer less demanding entertainment, through awesome and funny characters such as Omar, the gay gunman who robs drug dealers for a living. The Wire is my favorite TV show of all time and will always be an example of how to do it right.

“You come at the king, you best not miss.”

“Does this sh*t look like money, motherf***er? Money be green!”

“You heroic mother***ers. Fighting the war on drugs, one brutality case at a time.” – “Girl, you can’t even call this sh*t a war.” – “Why not?” – “Wars end.”

 

Chris Carter – The Crucifix Killer – Review

Hey my loves,

today I am going to review a book I recently finished reading and fell in love with. It’s ‘The Crucifix Killer’ by Chris Carter! If you are a big fan of the thriller genre then keep on reading:

1.jpg

So let me tell you a bit about the story: It’s about the hunt for a psychotic killer whose name is ‘The Crucifix Killer’. It’s the first book of a series about the Homicide Detective Robert Hunter. Detective Hunter and his partner are trying to find out who this serial killer is and enter a hunt that is gripping, dangerous and definitely not for people who cannot handle distress. I don’t want to give to much away, so I think that is all you need to know about this book.

2.jpg

I love a good thriller and this definitely is one of the best ones I’ve read in my life so far! I absolutely love the storyline and the characters! It’s super intense and I even cringed a few times about a some things in the story and that says a lot, because I don’t cringe easy! But that only made the book even more fantastic! You fall in love with the characters and root for them and the end, oh my god, the best part ever! You had absolutely no clue who the killer was and when it all unravelled you were left shocked, excited and completely overwhelmed! I love the detailed storyline and immediately bought the second installment of the series.

8.jpg

If you love thrillers and a good detective story and aren’t of the squeamish kind you will fall for this book very hard! I would recommend this book to all the thriller lovers out there!

Have you read any of the ‘Robert Hunter Series’ books by Chris Carter? Let me know in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this entry and if you did make sure to give it a thumbs up. I would really appreciate it!

I wish you all a wonderful day!

XoXo, Jasmin.

Gillian Flynn – Sharp Objects – Review – 2016

Hey my loves,

today I want to give you a review of the New York Times Besteller “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn. As I told you earlier this month I wanted to read more this year and this book was the first one of my New Year’s resolution. And I loved this book! I read in about a week I think, probably would have finished it earlier, but I was busy with other things so I only read in the evening for about 30 min. or more. This is what the cover looks like:

Enlight1-1

I loved this book so much it was dark, twisted, thrilling and fascinating at the same time. You had moments where you literally sat there and was like “WTF?? How? Why? Isn’t she a bit to young?” I was so sucked into the world of the main character – Camille Preaker – and my imagination played wild during reading. I would like to see this made into a movie, it was so compelling and the potrayal of the individual characters was so original. I just have to recommend this book for you if you like this sort of stuff – the dark, psychological, thriller ones – because I surely do, and this book might just be one of the best in that genre that I have read. Chapeau to Gillian Flynn, for her incredible work.

Enlight1-2

I don’t want to give too much away from the storyline, so here is what’s written on the back of my paperback copy:

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: She must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie group on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims – a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story – and survive this homecoming.

Enlight1-3

Have you read this book? If you did, tell me in the comments what you think of it. If you haven’t read it and were thinking about reading it, definetely do so. It’s absolutely amazing and was the best book I good start of my year with.

Continue reading

Halloween Movie Night

It’s Halloween in a few days, and most people like to celebrate this day in some way or other. There’s of course a variety of things to do, but mainly you have two options: you can do a party, or you can watch movies. And just in case you decide on the latter, here’s a list of suggestions for you.

Classics

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

An absolute all-time classic, not just for horror fans. Sure, nowadays it does not hold the same shock value it had fifty years ago, but this movie is still great. Suspenseful, dark, creepy, superbly acted, and the score alone is haunting enough, even without the bizarre dream sequence in which Rosemary conceives her hellish offspring.

The Exorcist (1973)

Once considered the most scary movie ever, horror fans will not be shocked as much now, but this movie is undeniably a true piece of horror that made a lasting impression on all occult horror flicks that came later. I still cannot watch it at night, or alone.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

It is not the first zombie movie ever (that credit goes to “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” from 1920), but it is considered the one that laid down the ground rules for all zombie flicks to boot, and it led to the five subsequent movies George Romero made, which were remade and inspired more than one generation. It is not really scary, but then, most zombie films are not, and if you are a genre lover, you have to see it. Also, as far as I know, it was the first movie ever to cast a white woman and a black man as the two lead actors.

The Shining (1980)

One of my all-time favorites. Even watching it for the 20th time, you can still get a kick out of Jack Nicholson’s acting. From the haunting score, to the kid actor that is ridiculously good for a 7-year-old, to the rotting corpse in the bath tub, to the chase through the icy labyrinth, everything about this Stephen King adaption is perfect. One of the best scenes in movie history is the scene in the bathroom where Delbert Grady cleans Jack Torrance’s jacket. Oh, and the bloody elevators. And the twins in the hallway. The horror that Kubrick managed to create with such limited means is still awe-inducing.

Slashers

Halloween (1978)

Could have been placed in the Classics section, since it is the mother of all slashers, laying down ground rules like the final girl and the masked killer. I guess I was too old (21) when I finally saw it, because it did not make much of an impression on me. But I will not deny that it is a good movie, and perfect for a Halloween movie night.

Friday the 13th (1980)

Tried to hop on the train that “Halloween” (1978) started. I have to admit that I have not seen it, but Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide gave it only 1 ½ stars out of four, calling it a cardboard thriller. However, it has developed into a cult classic, and it has brought to the genre the idea of a secluded camp area that has been copied a million times.

Scream (1996)

This one could have also been placed in the Classics section, since it revived the genre and defined its tropes, as well. Never say you’ll be right back! Not scary after watching it 20 times, but that is the one downside to slashers—they usually only work once. However, this first installment in a (too prolonged) series is at times exciting, sexy, hilarious, and just enjoyable.

You’re Next (2011)

A fairly new movie that is surprisingly fantastic. It is an independent project with no known names, but I was completely thrown by how good it is. The action starts suddenly, and brutally, and when the suspense starts picking up, your heart rate will definitely rise. Its solution is not really a surprise, but that hardly matters, nor do any potential plot holes, because the movie artfully plays with the genre tropes, spinning and twisting them without ever breaking any rules, turning the slashers into the slashed.

Zombies

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Another one for the Classics. Not actually a spoof of “Dawn of the Dead”, a misconception that must stem from the title. This brilliantly intelligent British production is a zombie film that just happens to also be extremely funny. Dozens of shout-outs at classics of the genre and other pop culture phenomena, as well as dialogues sprinkled with hints at the entire plot that you only catch if you pay really close attention, make this a pure pleasure to watch. Look out for Michael Smiley’s two-second-cameo as a zombie.

Zombieland (2009)

Wonderful comedy with big names like Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone that gives us a quite realistic view of what the life post-zombie apocalypse might look like. Like, for instance, the fat ones die first because they cannot run that fast. The characters are relatable, and also this movie has one of the best cameos ever. Of course, most people are already spoiled, but I will not mention it.

Wyrmwood (2014)

This Australian production might just be the best zombie film I have ever seen. Gory, yes, of course, but also very funny, and sad, and shocking, and with so many new ideas to the genre it makes your head spin. I saw it at the Fantasy Filmfest without having seen any trailers or reviews, which is a true blessing because you will not get the full experience if you do not watch it completely ignorantly. No, seriously, do not watch the trailer. It tells you everything.

Deathgasm (2015)

Outrageous production from New Zealand about a teenaged boy who founds a band with his pals and then they inadvertently play a song that brings hell to earth. While the idea is not new, the variety of weapons the survivors choose to employ to fight off the zombies surely has not been seen like this before. And the humor is so rudely, incorrectly, gut-wrenchingly funny that you just have to fall in love with it. Also probably the most gory flick I have ever seen. An absolute must for genre fans.

Creature horror

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Very funny, but also really creepy movie with Oscar-winning make-up effects that were unbelievable back then and still are today. I watched it when I was way too young and was absolutely terrified. I am certain it would not have as much of an effect on me now, but it is perfect for a nice scary movie night.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Exciting, slightly scary movie about two sisters, one of which gets bitten by a wolf. The movie is not surprising, but well acted, and the characters are relatable. There is a significant amount of tension created as we watch Ginger slowly change, starting with her personality and the fact that she suddenly has very hairy legs.

Cursed (2005)

Also a werewolf flick, with Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg as siblings that both get bitten and go through some interesting changes as a consequence. Funny, fairly suspenseful and with a nice twist in the end.

Black Sheep (2006)

Completely absurd and extremely hilarious creature horror from New Zealand in which crazy scientists try crossing human DNA with sheep DNA and inadvertently create genetically modified sheep that crave for human flesh and bite people who then slowly turn into sheep themselves. And the hero, of course, has an extreme sheep phobia. Very gory and brutal, but the effects are handmade, which makes the whole thing very likeable and just plain awesome.

Haunted House

Poltergeist (1982)

Another one for the Classics, and, to my knowledge, one of the first movies ever to display such a clear example of the Haunted House motif. I admit I have not seen it. I am not made for this genre because of my vivid imagination. However, there is nothing but praise to be found for this horror flick that was cowritten and coproduced by Steven Spielberg (!). If you are a fan of the genre, I guess you need to see it.

The Amityville Horror (2005)

There is a long history of movies centering around the same story that I was not aware of. This installment is the only one I have seen and that is enough for me. Again, classic Haunted House, but with a striking resemblance to “The Shining” (1980) at times, just with a slightly different ending.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

I have not seen this one either. All I know is I watched a few snippets of it and then had to sleep with the lights on that night. This film (that is also a classic example of the found-footage-genre) represents the epitome of why the Haunted House motive is so scary—because it is an invasion by an offender you cannot fight against, in an environment where you are supposed to be safe. If you can watch that kind of thing, this is your movie.

Insidious (2011)

There are those who found it boring, and then there are those who were a complete mess after watching. I have to admit I belong to the latter group. Starts out as classic Haunted House, until it turns out it is not the house that is being haunted. A mean ending, and well-acted with a lot of jump scares and a very sinister atmosphere.

Miri – @OriginalSGreenD

Tell us in the comments what you’re favorite movie is to watch for Halloween!

Still Alice – A Review – @OriginalSGreenD

This year, Julianne Moore won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal in the movie “Still Alice”. When I went to see the movie at the theater with my mother, we didn’t yet know it was based on a book by the same name. My mother found the book by accident and immediately bought it because she thought, if the book is just half as good as the movie that was made from it, I need to have it. And she was right.

Now, if you haven’t read the book, it’s alright. The movie is an excellent adaption, the differences in content between the two mediums are marginal. Also, if you haven’t seen the movie either, no worries, you can read this entry anyways, because, logically thinking, there are no spoilers for this story. Alice is a woman who finds out she has Alzheimer’s disease, and once you learn this – which is very early on in the story – you know what’s going to happen. This is not a feel-good movie with a happy ending. Alzheimer’s is not curable, and its symptoms can only get worse as the disease progresses. Hence, you already know the starting and the ending point before you have even opened the book: the story begins with Alice showing symptoms like short-term memory loss and difficulty finding the right words, and it ends with Alice not remembering who and where she is. However, it’s not the ending that counts so much as the how she got there.

It begins with Alice Howland, renowned professor at Harvard with a PhD in Psychology (in the movie she is a linguist, while in the book she is a psychologist also researching in the field of linguistics and psycholinguistics; I guess for the movie they changed it for simplicity’s sake), holding a speech in front of hundreds of students, something she does every week, and suddenly missing the word “lexicon”. It will not come to her, no matter how hard she tries remembering. She ends up paraphrasing it and moving on without paying it much mind, but these kinds of issues start occurring more and more often. At one point she goes on a run around Harvard square, where she lives with her husband and has been working for the last 25 years, and suddenly loses orientation, not knowing where she is. A while later she forgets to visit a conference in Chicago that she had been preparing for extensively. Alice knows something is up, and she goes to see a doctor, and she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease at only 50 years old.

From that point on, Alice’s symptoms grow steadily worse. And for Alice, losing her mind means losing herself. For someone who has defined their entire life and being by their intelligence, as a Harvard professor probably does, losing their memory means losing everything. Alice knows she will forget who her children are, and who her husband is, and to prevent that, she writes herself a list of questions, like “where do you live?” and “when is your oldest daughter’s birthday?”, and she says to herself, when I cannot answer these questions anymore, I will kill myself. The novel shows Alice’s progressing deterioration by letting her answer these questions frequently, and every time she gives these answers to herself, we see that every time a small piece of information is missing, right to the point near the ending when the answers are only fragmentary or downright wrong. But when Alice tries to kill herself, she is already too far gone and just forgets before she can go through with it.

This novel is very hard to read. Not because it is overly complicated, or because its style is poor, but because you read it and you feel it, you can understand and perfectly relate to anything Alice goes through, until the ending when Alice doesn’t recognize her family anymore, gives them nicknames like “the nice man” or “the actress”. You cannot help but get involved in the story, and it hurts. If a story can achieve this, it’s fantastic. “Still Alice” is a fantastic story, brilliantly structured, well written. I’m not sure if I’ll ever read it again, but if you haven’t yet, you should do so.

Miri

Follow Miri on her Twitter: @OriginalSGreenD

Book Monday – @OriginalSGreenD

“The World According to Garp” – John Irving

If you are familiar with Irving’s work, you know that in each one of his novels, there always are at least two prostitutes and a high chance of at least one trans-sexual or at least one bear or both, plus the treatment of several socially sensitive subjects like, for instance, sexism, racism, war, rape, and cheating on spouses. Now, in Irving’s fourth novel “The World According to Garp” you have ALL of the above, and the magic of John Irving is that he manages to treat the worst things imaginable with a sense of dark humor and an eye for the absurd that has yet to find an adequate match. Reading of the entire life of author T.S. Garp and his family, you will laugh and you will cry and you will never want this novel to end.


“Cider House Rules” – John Irving

Speaking of Irving’s treatment of socially sensitive subjects, this book deals with abortion, one thing that politicians and religions and generally every person on the planet has thought about and formed an opinion on. The story of orphans, birth control and the treatment of Afro-Americans is beautiful, realistic and shocking, and because this is Irving we are talking about, it is also hysterically funny and absurd and littered with historical observations of the early 20th century America and its societal structures. Sure, it is a thick book, but seeing it through to the end is not only rewarding, it’s an experience you will not want to miss.


“The Help” – Kathryn Stockett

Yet another anti-racist novel has made it onto my list. Never have I been able to understand the pain that black women went through in the 1960’s in the Southern States as well as when I read this beautiful story about civil courage and standing up against oppression. The novel by Stockett is relevant, but also heart-warming and, at times, extremely funny, without ever getting sentimental. An absolute must in every bookshelf.


“We Need to Talk About Kevin” – Lionel Shriver

This story about a teenager who stages a massacre at his school is anything but funny. It is uncomfortable, it is harsh and gruesome, and it talks about a subject that is so touchy I have rarely (if ever) seen it dealt with so consciously and out in the open: Kevin’s mother Eva hates her son and has always felt estranged towards him. The novel is composed in letters that Eva writes to her husband, and in these letters she spreads out her guilt, her confusion, her hurt, her hate. And even though the story is told in a loosely chronological order and culminates with what you already know (said massacre), you need to read it from beginning to end, because the finale is so surprising and painful to read it will stay with you for a long time.


“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” – John Le Carré

I am aware that British spy novels are not everybody’s cup of tea, but you need to give this masterpiece a chance to let it drag you into a dark, hostile world of post-WWII Great Britain and the inner workings of their Secret Service MI6. What I love so much about le Carré is that his writing challenges me. Let your attention slip for a minute, and suddenly you have missed an important detail and you need to re-read the last five pages to catch up again. It makes your reading experience of this story, told through a maze of flash-backs and conversations, gratifying, intense and exciting.


“Millenium Trilogy” – Stieg Larsson

Swedish crime novels have been widely successful and popular for a long time (look at Henning Mankell and Håkan Nesser) because of their gloomy atmosphere and unadorned depiction of violence and the dark recesses of human minds. But I did not get the hang of it until I read Stieg Larsson’s trilogy about Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. It must have something to do with the fact that, while the first installment “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is a very dark and gruesome tale of murder and revenge with a nice spin, parts 2 “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and 3 “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest” develop more and more into a legal and political thriller while still maintaining the dark and hostile atmosphere established in the first part. A must for thriller fans.


“It” – Stephen King

It is no secret that many literary critics have torn King apart, for his works are – allegedly – free of any content safe for the means to shock. Now, while that very well may be true for some of his short stories, it is not for this monumental novel about the evil in the world. “It” is not just the clown Pennywise, it’s the cruelty and hate that every being holds in its deepest secret primal form. The story is told on so many levels of time and space it is hard, if not impossible, to be grasped on film. Of course it is a horror story, and it’s shocking, but the most shocking thing is how true it is at times. Advice from me: do not read while you are home alone.


“The Mists of Avalon” – Marion Zimmer Bradley

As someone who is anything but a fan of fantasy stories, I am as surprised as you might be that this novel made it onto my list of all-time favorites, but this telling of the Arthurian legend is so perfect and gripping and epic that it has reached a somewhat Bible-like status for me. Furthermore, my mother was recommended to read this book when she was at college because it is a realistic depiction of what life had been like for educated women in the Middle Ages. The descriptions of Avalon are so intricate I can see it before my inner eye as if I had actually been there myself.


“The Lost World” Michael Crichton

It has to be the second installment of his Jurassic Park novels that is my favorite work of Crichton. The story, deviating entirely from the second movie (which was terrible), concentrates on fighting for survival in a hostile environment, the dinosaurs who pose the biggest threat in this environment, and, as is typical for Crichton’s works, the scientific background that put these dinosaurs there. The pages of discussion about chaos theory and natural selection are fascinating, but they can easily be skipped to delve right into an amazing action adventure.


“The Talented Mr.Ripley” – Patricia Highsmith

We have all seen TV shows like “Dexter” or “Breaking Bad”, so we know that there is something in these characters on the wrong side of the law that has us rooting for them. We can’t pin down what it is, but we do not want them to get caught. And that is in essence what this story about a 1950’s con artist who involuntarily turns into a murderer is about. Tom Ripley does terrible things, but the reader cannot help but like him, understand him, make excuses for him. The sequels are a satisfying read, as well, but the first installment of Ripley has got to be singled out as the best one in the series.

Go follow Miri on Twitter: @OriginalSGreenD

Movie Monday – Miri aka @OriginalSGreenD

7. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

We have been waiting for it a long, long time, and here it is now. The release of Episode VII is scheduled for December, so there is still an almost year-long wait ahead of us, but it is getting closer and closer.

I have to admit that I never was a big Star Wars fan. Born in 1990, the first one I saw was (unfortunately) Episode I, and even though I had no eye for cinematic quality as a kid, I do remember being bored out of my mind in the theater back then. That experience kind of spoiled the franchise for me a little, but I do recognize and understand the deep appreciation fans have for the original trilogy, and what little footage we were allowed to see so far looks great. I might be convinced to watch it in theaters.

Anyways, re-christening JJ Abrams “Jar Jar Abrams”, as some skeptical fans have, is unnecessary. Why anticipate the worst possible outcome?

6. Pound of Flesh

Now you might think I’ve lost my mind. What is Jean-Claude Van Damme doing on this list? Well, if you saw “The Expendables 2” and “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” (both 2012), you know JCVD can make for some really great end-boss action. The premise of this indie action flick sounds promising as well, with a missing kidney and an angry JCVD looking for revenge. This might be another candidate for direct-to-DVD, and I could not find a release date nor a trailer, but according to ssninsider.com filming had wrapped up in May 2014, so the chances are high we will be graced with it this year.

5. The Fall season 2

One British production has made it onto my list of things to look out for in 2015: the amazing series about a sexy serial killer in Belfast consisted of only five one-hour episodes for its first season, but the story was knitted so tightly it could not have been realized any other way. Also the shortness makes it possible to watch the entire thing in one go, which I strongly recommend you do. The tension and thrill of it are breath-taking, not to mention the actors are fantastic, the scripts are intricate and pay an amount of attention to detail I have only seen on HBO so far. Altogether this five-hour thriller was not something I would have expected the BBC to produce.

I am aware that technically, season 2 was released in November 2014 and that should disqualify “The Fall” from this list, but I have not been able to see it yet. If I can, I will watch the six episodes in one go again and then probably sleep with the lights on. Also, I did pick a trailer for you to watch, but to be honest, I did not watch it, because for this show, spoilers are deadly.

4. Justified season 6

FX’s “Justified” is one of the most underrated TV shows I know. The story of Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens returning to his hometown Harlan, Kentucky, and his life-long friend/nemesis Boyd Crowder was based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, and some of the intrigues and schemes hatched in that show really remind you of “Jackie Brown” and make Leonard’s best qualities shine through.

Even though “Justified” was graced with several Emmy nominations and a few wins and has made it to its sixth and final season, the show never reached the popularity I feel it deserves; in my list of all-time favorites it would easily crack the top five. I am sad to see it end now, but at the same time I am anxious to see how the story about crime, friendship and betrayal comes to a head. If you haven’t seen this show, but you like drama series quality with brilliant, quick-witted dialogues, a gloomy atmosphere and bloody shoot-outs, there is only one thing I can tell you.

Watch it.

3. Community season 6

When I watched the pilot episode of “Community” I knew this was going to be a big thing. This TV show was possibly the funniest comedy ever. Oh, the quotes, the hints, the constant insertions of meta-elements and jokes you could only understand if you knew your way around movie history – I was in fan-heaven, even more so when Abed’s promise of “Six seasons and a movie!” for the low scale NBC show “The Cape” was taken out of its in-show context and referred to “Community” itself.

Countless hearts were broken – mine included – when the show was canceled after only five seasons. (I still wish for all NBC officials to get nothing but socks and Chris de Burgh CDs for Christmas for the rest of their lives.) All hope seemed lost when suddenly Yahoo! Screen turned out to be the unexpected knight in streaming armor. I guess most fans were thinking the same thing: TV series, web series – who cares, as long as there’s another season! A few members of the original cast have already left, and new characters will be added, but as long as Danny Pudi’s Abed and Dan Harmon are still on board, what can possibly go wrong?

Now the only thing we need is a movie and Abed’s prediction will be fulfilled.

2. Better Call Saul

If you cook meth for a living and you get into a tight spot with the law, who you gonna call?

No, not the Ghostbusters. You know who I’m talking about.

In “Breaking Bad” Saul Goodman aka Jimmy McGill was one of the most popular characters, even though he only entered the series at the end of season 2. Why? Well, the answer is obvious: he was comic relief, he was slightly ridiculous in everything he did, he was the epitome of a slimy lawyer, but at the same time he was sympathetic and honest and had the greatest catch phrase. Not to mention, “Mr. Show” Bob Odenkirk did a fantastic job portraying him. I have to admit, the moment I first saw him on the show, he immediately became my favorite character.

Hence, when I heard there would be a spin-off called “Better Call Saul”, I was over the moon. I still am. This will probably be the TV event of 2015 for me.

1. Skin Trade

If you are a true lover of the medium of film, you cannot get around watching the old action classics, and in that genre there is no way around good old Dolph Lundgren. He is “The Punisher” (1989) and the “Red Scorpion” (1988), after all. And now, after a successful and joyous return to the big screen thanks to Stallone and the Expendables franchise, he has written, produced and starred in a new movie that’s supposed to be released this year: “Skin Trade”.

With human trafficking the movie touches on an important subject, and the action in the trailer looks nice; still, there is a chance this production could end up as direct-to-DVD, considering “The Expendables” (2010) was Lundgren’s first cinematic release in over a decade. However, the involvement of Tony Jaa and Ron Perlman (!) might lead to a theatrical release in more countries than just the US.

I have a deep appreciation for Dolph Lundgren because, while he is not a great actor, he is almost always fun to watch. That’s why I had to put “Skin Trade” to the top of my list. I am really looking forward to some good action reminiscent of the old days.

Agree with my list? Do you have anything to add that has not received the attention it deserves? Feel free to let us know.

Miri

Twitter: OriginalSGreenD

Skin Trade trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsGH6_qbBxU

Better Call Saul trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lK_70f7PamE

Community season 6 trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQ3qzm0c7FA

Justified season 6 trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DH6J4UFMI_w

The Fall season 2 trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXuJONpEpXg

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMOVFvcNfvE