Movies and Tea #27 – The Ice Storm

The next episode of Movies and Tea is here as we continue to look at Ang Lee’s directorial films. This next one is The Ice Storm and we’ve invited a guest to discuss the film with us. Head over to Movies and Tea blog and check it out. While there, let us know if you’ve seen this movie and your thoughts on it.

Movies and Tea

Set over the thanksgiving weekend of 1973, Ang Lee here sets out to capture the changing times of the era as two upper class families attempt to find themselves in surburban hell set against a backdrop of adultery and key parties here Lee brings together an impressive cast for his adaptation of the Rick Moody novel.

Norman from Flickhunter joins us once again to the discuss the film and explore the various plot threads within this tale of family dysfunction.

Music on this episode

Too Late to Turn Back Now – Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
I Got a Name – Jim Croce

Listen to the Show

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Blog Tour: The Weighing of the Heart by Paul Tudor Owen

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The Weighing of the Heart
By: Paul Tudor Owen

WOTHCoverfront

Publication Date: March 22, 2019 (Obliterati Press)
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS

Following a sudden break-up, Englishman in New York Nick Braeburn takes a room with the elderly Peacock sisters in their lavish Upper East Side apartment, and finds himself increasingly drawn to the priceless piece of Egyptian art on their study wall – and to Lydia, the beautiful Portuguese artist who lives across the roof garden.

But as Nick draws Lydia into a crime he hopes will bring them together, they both begin to unravel, and each find that the other is not quite who they seem.

Paul Tudor Owen’s intriguing debut novel brilliantly evokes the New York of Paul Auster and Joseph O’Neill.

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REVIEW

The Weighing of the Heart is a wonderfully written novel by Paul Tudor Owen. Its one that essentially follows the main character Nick who truly starts off as a very likeable character and appealing to all of those people around him. However, throughout the slender length and with that, a well-paced storytelling skills, Nick’s character starts to fall apart. His character becomes the central focus as it seems that there is a lot more than what is shown with a lot of questions of his past and the little details that pop up. Its because Nick is such a character that it makes the story develop in a way that when the decision to go through with a wrong act leads both him and his girlfriend Lydia start showing their division. Their characters span out to how they cope with the whatever guilt they have.

As charming as Nick’s character is drawn out, its the central focus on a piece of artwork called The Weighing of the Heart that dives into Egyptian mythology and becomes something that, in some ways, haunts Nick and with that, it further emphasizes on the elements of this picture that builds up the story and how the choices that Nick and Lydia make actually matches up to the whole Weighing of the Heart ceremony (I had to do a little research here to clear some things up). It ends up corresponding to the issues of different values as well as the concept of right and wrong. This is a refreshing element to use.

Overall, The Weighing of the Heart is a good read. It starts off fairly lighthearted and quickly becomes something of a romantic story but takes a turn into something more of a thrilling mystery as the possibility of success gets thrown into the equation and how far someone will go to meet an end. At the same time, the thrilling elements intrigue as Nick’s character starts showing more and more of the lesser side and he starts viewing his world in a comparison to this obsession over The Weighing of the Heart. Its a very unique reading experience.

Score: 4.5/5

Purchase Links

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Pic (2)

Paul Tudor Owen was born in Manchester in 1978, and was educated at the University of Sheffield, the University of Pittsburgh, and the London School of Economics.

He began his career as a local newspaper reporter in north-west London, and currently works at the Guardian, where he spent three years as deputy head of US news at the paper’s New York office.

His debut novel, The Weighing of the Heart, was shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize 2019 and longlisted for Not the Booker Prize 2019.

Paul Tudor Owen
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GIVEAWAY

Giveaway Details: 1 of 3 Signed Copies (International)
Enter HERE

BLOG SCHEDULE

January 13th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
Vick’s Bookish Writing (Review) https://vicksblogcom.home.blog/
Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

January 14th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Guest Post) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com
Kristin’s Novel Café (Spotlight) https://knovelcafe.wordpress.com/

January 15th

Viviana MacKade (Guest Post) https://viviana-mackade.blog/
Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com
The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/ Entertainingly Nerdy (Spotlight) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com

January 16th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
My Bookish Review (Review) http://www.mybookishbliss.com
Life’s a Novelty (Review) https://lifesanovelty.blogspot.com/
The Bibliophagist (Spotlight) http://thebibliophagist.blog/

January 17th

Port Jerricho (Spotlight – Review to Follow) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/
Sophril Reads (Spotlight) https://sophrilreads.com/

Blog Tour Organized by:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

TV Binge: Eternal Love (三生三世十里桃花, 2017)

Eternal Love (三生三世十里桃花, 2017)

Eternal Love

Cast: Mi Yang, Mark Chao, Ken Chang, Dilraba Dilmurat, Vengo Gao, Maggie Huang, Vin Zhang, Alan Yu, Lawrence Wang, Bambi Zhu, Wayne Liu

After a devastating war, the immortal tribe paid a heavy price to seal the demon lord. 70000 years later, in an attempt to re-seal the demon lord who broke free, Bai Qian was sent to the mortal realm. In the mortal world, she meets Ye Hua and falls in love with him after forgetting about her life as a goddess. Ye Hua gifts her the name of Su Su. Su Jin, who is jealous of Ye Hua’s love for Bai Qian, intentionally creates a series of misunderstanding between them and causes Bai Qian to lose her eyes. Thinking that Ye Hua has betrayed her, the devastated Bai Qian jumps off from the Zhu Xian Terrace. At her request, all her memories have been erased and she forgets Ye Hua. Hundred years later, the two meets again as deities. Another lifetime another world, Ye Hua recognizes Bai Qian but the latter remains indifferent. Three lives three worlds, her and him, are they fated to bear an entangling love? – MyDramaList

Eternal Love is currently available on Netflix (as on January 15, 2020)
You can also find it on Youtube via Croton Mega Hit Channel with English subs.
Below is the playlist:

STORY

ten miles of peach blossom

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Tang Qi and later translated, titled To The Sky Kingdom, Eternal Love aka Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms is the most watched Chinese Drama in China to date. The C-drama tells the story that spans over Three Lives, Three Worlds (as the Chinese title calls it) and as its about the love story that happens between the many trials and tribulations between Fox King’s youngest daughter Bai Qian and Nine Heaven’s Prince, Ye Hua. Their story is told over the events of the Sky Kingdom: Nine Heavens, Ghost Tribe, Kun Lun Mountains, Fox Clan and other fantasy lands as well as the mortal world. Suffice to say that, the story itself might sound a little back and forth with its focus on the three lives and three worlds for these two characters and their love stories.

eternal love baiqian

However, the story is done well that it gives room for each of the characters to grow and each love life in each world has their own depth. Plus, the supporting characters also have a good amount of entertaining filler to guide these characters. Between good and evil, love and trust, and the schemes and power balance, the story has a lot to love. It has its frustrating moments with some of the scheming characters but overall, its done really well.

LENGTH/PACING

ten miles fighting

Episodes: 58

58 episodes is the norm for a Chinese drama of this calibre. Anything set in the fantasy world and such always has the 50 or more episodes attached to it. Its something that doesn’t always work depending on what the story interpreted is. Surprisingly, while there are some small moments that feels like the plot stays or simply some characters being frustrating as times because of their stubbornness or whatever character trait (which I will talk about in the characters section below), the story does move forward.

It does so by giving it enough places to move around these fantasy worlds. Between the rigid rules of the royalties in Nine Heavens to the much more relaxed Fox Clan’s Fox Burrow  setting to the dark Ghost Tribe and the beautifully enchanting Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms owned by the Phoenix God, the story shifts from its political elements of war between good and evil to maintain peace and the romances and friendships that happen between the characters and with that, its own set of misunderstandings. There’s a decent amount of action scenes which are well-executed and the dialogue is done naturally, while giving it a good amount of space for building the chemistry between the characters.

CHARACTERS/CHEMISTRY

eternal love dilraba

If you haven’t noticed, characters and chemistry are my favorite parts of TV series and with Eternal Love and its 58 episodes and different worlds, we’re in for a ride in this section as there are some really good ones to highlight and talk about.

Bai Qian & Ye Hua
(and their 2 other lives/worlds)

eternal love 1

I’m not going to lie that its a little hard to totally figure out which romance this whole Three Lives and Three Worlds was initially for Bai Qian and Ye Hua but they do make an effort to point it out at the end which is pretty cool. There’s a lot to love about these two as their different romances each have a different sort of feeling whether its the type of love or the conflicts that happen that cause them to break apart and in the end, solidifies their love more by the end. Its the first time I’ve seen Yang Mi in this sort of role and she is so pretty in her various outfits and they match well with Mark Chao’s character in his various prince transformations. Mark Chao’s character becomes one that changes in his personality and not so much the lives prominently so its easy to quickly feel and connect with his character quickly.

Dong Hua Di Jun & Bai Feng Jiu

eternal love fengjiu dijun

While the main couple was done really well, this supporting characters of Bai Feng Jiu, the rare nine-tailed red fox niece of Bai Qian portrayed by Dilraba Dilmurat and Dong Hua Emperor Lord who is has lived so long that he has let go of emotions. These two are the focus of the sequel coming up this year. Suffice to say that they were done very well. Their romance is one that is not only fun because of Bai Feng Jiu who is a bit clumsy and naive but will do anything for love but facing Emperor Lord who seems to care but not reciprocate affections, it turns into a roller coaster of emotions that probably hits even harder than the main couple.

Li Jing

ten miles li jing

Li Jing is the second son of the Ghost Tribe Emperor and ends up taking over when his father’s war against Nine Heavens fails. He is a character that is one that isn’t very ambitious but at the same time, a rather frustratingly silly character as he constantly gets led astray by Xuan Nu, a childhood friend of Bai Qian who uses a prettier face to gain attention. Li Jing also is the first person that Bai Qian falls for romantically but due to Xuan Nu’s action, it causes them to break apart. Li Jing is not exactly a bad character. He actually fills up some of the spaces well as Xuan Nu is one of the “bad gals” who orders harm because of jealousy. Li Jing becomes a fairly tough character who stands up for peace and rights as the Ghost Tribe King and has a bit of character development that suits him well.

Bai Zhen & Zhe Yan

eternal love alan yu

I’m a huge fan of Alan Yu as an actor. There’s something very unique about him that I enjoy about him and as Bai Zhen (Alan Yu), the fourth son of the Fox King and the older brother of Bai Qian, he pops up occasionally in a very carefree and relaxed way randomly and yet him and his best friend (who seems like they have a special relationship) Zhe Yan (Ken Chang), a Phoenix Immortal both spend time together drinking peach blossom wine and playing Reversi and then randomly have arguments that makes Bai Zhen run off to his palace in the Northern Seas. These two are something of a comedic relief as well as surprisingly insightful guidance for all the characters and the myriad of dilemma.

There’s a ton of other characters that we could also talk about but I’m going to leave it at these top ones that truly appealed to me. However, one of the bad ladies in this one is the woman who loves Ye Hua called Su Jin and her role was to create a lot of the misunderstandings and misguidances that lead to a lot of the drama happening. As frustrating as her character was because she was able to get away with it because of her status, it was all merited because she was a character that had nothing to like.

OVERALL

Eternal Love is a much easier mountain to climb than expected. Other than the elements that I talked about for the story depth and the great fantasy world that is presented here with gods and fairies and spirits and a roundup of some well-written and well-developed characters, it also has some lovely visual effects. Every scene is done really nicely. Sure, some of the flowers might look a little fake in some scenes but overall, its done relatively nice for TV dramas. At the same time, as I was researching this up, the costumes are actually rather intricate with each one done by hand to show off the details for each of the characters plus all the sets were newly built to not have any replicas. Not to mention, the soundtrack here is amazing. Every song is so great that I almost wanted to share it all. Eternal Love is definitely one of the better Chinese dramas out there. Sure, its a bit long but it has enough content to make it really nice. If you watch the behind the scenes, its actually a pretty involved process between the actors and the director with how they work the script and how each scene is done. All things great for bingeworthy TV.

MAIN THEME

What’s Up 2020: Week 2

Week 2 of 2020 has wrapped up and its been a fairly crazy time. A lot of it got affected by the fact that we had some bad weather hit Montreal and the lovely suburbs that I lived had power outage for 16 hours or something which of course, took a toll on the whole movie watching and gaming elements along with one other issue. With that said, it still is pretty balanced of late. I’m trying to start 2020 with a nice start of not procrastinating any writing so taking things a little slower to allow more time to do the write-ups.

READING

Death in Smoke

  • Death in Smoke by Barbara Elle (Review)
  • The Weighing of the Heart by Paul Tudor Owen

As with any power outage, my Kindle became my best friend, especially as the cell towers seemed to also be affected. I was able to catch up on some reading and finished up The Weighing of the Heart which will be reviewed in a blog tour coming up very soon. Both of these books that I finished was pretty good. I’d have to say that The Weighing of the Heart was good because of the Egyptian mythology angle as well as a quick concise story that helped keep the pacing really good.

PLAYING

color pieceout

Currently playing: Color Pieceout, Overcooked 2 (co-op mode)

I’ve been playing Color Pieceout for a while already but never really quite talked about it because its a mobile game. Mobile Game Roundups are hitting a little stand still over at Game Warp Blog which is mostly a writer’s block for specifically game reviews. Its coming up soon but I just need to get back into the groove of things. However, Color Pieceout is a fun little game. Its free and uses coins collected during the puzzles to unlock things which makes in-app purchases unnecessary. Its animation is similar to Professor Layton and blends Match-3 puzzles with mystery cases. So much fun!

WATCHING

brokeback mountain

  • Brokeback Mountain (2007)
  • Mamma Mia! (2008 rewatch, Review)
  • Sinister (2012)
  • The Marshes (2017)

I’m not going to lie that I started a few movies but just fell asleep so I’m not adding it in like Robocop, The Raid 2 and some other one that I can’t remember right now. However, these few are those that I did finish. We are getting back into horror, not that I took that big of a break from it in the first place. The highlight of this week goes to Brokeback Mountain which is part of the Movies and Tea season. Why it gets the highlight is simply because it surprised me how much I liked it. It shouldn’t because its Oscar fodder and it comes with its talent but I liked it a lot more than I expected that I would. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy Sinister which was a pretty tight fight between the one to highlight. Sinister did a lot of things right and had a sequence that I absolutely loved and had some clever twists to the story.

BINGING

all i want for love is you

  • All I Want For Love Is You (2019)

Currently binging: The Circle, Who’s The Murderer 5, Ashes of Love

I took an unexpected turn and started watching All I Want For Love Is You, which wasn’t part of my list anywhere and just popped up on my feed and I was like, “Sure. Why not?” It turned out to be pretty fun overall. It had the whole teenage high school romance that went into university. There were some silly moments but it had some SERIOUS pacing issues. I’ll be getting the post done for this one and will talk more about it then. One the other hand, The Circle has one more week of their event to go before it ends. I honestly can’t wait to talk about it since there’s a lot to discuss about that and it’ll depend on how the final few episodes go. While I’ve started a new series via Netflix called Ashes of Love which was a big deal the year that it was released. I literally just started the first few episodes so hard to say how I feel about it so far.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

Double Feature: Turbo Kid (2015) & Hell Night (1981)

Next up in the double feature is the continuation of our catch-up for the New Year’s viewing with a movie set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland in an alternate reality then hopping back to watch some 80s slasher as we work through some of the Shudder selections that we often forget to check out.

Turbo Kid (2015)

Turbo Kid

Directors (and writers): Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell

Cast: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzari, Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland in 1997, a comic book fan adopts the persona of his favourite hero to save his enthusiastic friend and fight a tyrannical overlord. – IMDB

Turbo Kid is a wonderful little full feature debut for RKSS, the team that contains the director trio, Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell. Together they put together this alternate 1997 post-apocalyptic wasteland setting filmed in the secluded Thetford Mines in the province of Quebec where asbestos mining used to be its main activity. Suffice to say, the thought of the setting already gives it a lot of extra points. The 1997 setting also gave this film a lot of the charm with its music selection, its effects, the color palette as well as the outfits of the characters.

turbo kid

On the other hand, the character designs are equally fun. Leading the movie is Munro Chambers who plays The Kid, who finds his heroism through his comic book fandom for Turbo Rider. The Kid lives by himself and has found a way to survive on his own since he was young and the film takes its time to gradually reveal his backstory. At the same time, his subtlety is quickly contrasted by his new friendship with a mysterious and very bizarre girl with an over the top enthusiasm called Apple, played by Laurence Leboeuf. If anything, Laurence Leboeuf does steal the show a little here as her character is colorful both physically an emotionally. There is something so odd about her that makes her the more intriguing to discover. With any hero movie, there has to be a villain and of course,  its not hard to soon discover in the harsh wastelands played masterfully by Michael Ironside, a towering bad guy called Zeus who pretty much controls the scarce resource: water. It doesn’t help that his masked henchman , Skeletron is also as intimidating.

There’s a lot to love about Turbo Kid. Its packed with a lot of creativity and creates an alternate reality that works in a wasteland that makes sense. The acting and characters all have their stand-out points. It also manages to blend comedy and action adventure elements really well to keep it fun while having some more dramatic moments as well.

Hell Night (1981)

hell night

Director: Tom DeSimone

Cast: Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton, Kevin Brophy, Jenny Neumann, Suki Goodwin, Jimmy Sturtevant

Four college pledges are forced to spend the night in a deserted old mansion, where they are stalked by the monstrous survivor of a family massacre years earlier. – IMDB

80s slasher films probably mean more to others than it does to me. To myself, its really just a fun little killing romp with a lot of the similar kind of deal. There’s always some kind of bad effects (usually because of the film not aging well) and then it has some disposable dialogue (that at the best of times is very fun to laugh at) and of course, a certain flow of events of the final girl syndrome and the couple having sex that gets killed first and the likes. I’m not well-versed in 80s slasher and really have just mostly seen the main big franchises so I probably don’t appreciate it as much as the connoisseurs out there.

With that said, Hell Night is okay. It has its very similar moments with a lot of the other 80s slashers and falls pretty much where I’d expect it. It drags in the middle a little and its incredibly predictable. The slasher scenes or death scenes aren’t very fulfilling as they just kind of happen and hope to get multiple scares as other characters discover the deaths. The acting itself is rather lackluster and its not helped by some pretty bad dialogue which merited some eye-rolling or laugh out loud moments. There’s some really silly moments in Hell Night.

Honestly, Hell Night is a lot of what you would expect of 80s slasher films, especially the earlier ones. Its not great but it has some entertaining elements that comes with the time. Its not quite as good as some of the more known slasher films but then, I think slasher film has its audience and if you happen to haven’t seen it, its okay. Save it for a rainy day or something.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films? What are your thoughts?

Announcing the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon

Drew's Movie Reviews

Hello, friends!

I hope you all had a great holiday ringing in the new decade. But before we get too deep into the 2020s, my blogathon partner Kim from Tranquil Dreams and I would to stay in the 2010s for just a bit longer and are asking you to join us. That’s right, the annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon returns! Over the past four years, we have looked at your favorite films from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Now, for this milestone year we want to look at the best movies of the decade that we just said goodbye to: the 2010s.

The prompt for the blogathon is simple: What do you think is the ultimate 2010s movie? What movie embodies the decade of the 2010s to you?

Kim and I would love to see you participate in this blogathon. If you are interested in participating, tell us in a…

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