Guardians of The Galaxy

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Guardians of The Galaxy (2014) was one of the outstanding films of 2014 for me. It was a surprise how much I enjoyed it. It really impressed me. I’m not a massive fan of comic adaptations nowadays (besides Christopher Nolan’s Batman), I was when I was a child, or even action movies as a whole. But this movie was really impressive. It was a perfect blend of sci-fi and fantasy while being humorous. It didn’t take itself too seriously but was obviously well made. I loved all the different races of people interacting and different galaxies coming together. It was like a light hearted Star Wars.

There is a colourful cast of main characters which includes a half human/ half alien, an alien assassin, a tree-like creature who’s partner in crime is a smart mouthed engineered raccoon and also a alien guy who’s seeking revenge. The protagonist is played by Chris Pratt, who I knew from Parks & Recreation. I love that guy in Parks & Rec. He just makes me laugh. Whatever he does, even if it’s insignificant, I find humorous. In this film, it’s the same. He still has that funny demeanour and you know he’s going to do something funny just by watching him.

The cinematography is brilliant. I love the special effects and the world building is deeply impressive. I love all the sci fi equipment like the weaponry and airships amid the planetary backdrop.

What I deeply enjoyed was the soundtrack. It’s made up of mostly 60’s and 70’s songs. I felt that this made it much more impressive than using contemporary songs. By using these songs, you could tell that this movie was made by serious people who really knew their stuff. It really gave it a retrospective feeling. At the moment, I’m really loving 70’s music and 70’s sounding songs so this came at a good time for me! My personal favourites were 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” and Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

All in all, a great movie that didn’t take itself too seriously but was really impressive and was surprisingly enjoyable. Hats off!

Top 16 Harry Potter Tracks

Christmas has just gone and over the holidays I watched all eight Harry Potter movies (as they were on TV). I was quite nostalgic watching the whole story arc over a couple of days, so I decided to pick my favourite tracks from the series. The list is based on nostalgic memories of the tracks and also how affecting they are. I tried really hard to whittle it down but of course there’s just so many good songs. I couldn’t even get it to a rounded 15 so you’re just going to have to listen to 16! The scores are quite nostalgic and moving. They’re incredibly made and I feel each composer brought something to each film. John Williams is a genius and for me his scores are really nostalgic and intricate. Patrick Doyle wasn’t around for a long time but he did create good tracks for the Triwizard Tournament. Nicholas Cooper & Alexandre Desplat were my favourites during the series, I really can’t decide who I liked more. Nicholas Cooper had such fun and upbeat tracks as well as being epic or emotional. Alexandre Desplat is a really serious composer for me. His sounds really have something I can’t quite describe. I wouldn’t say “adult,” as that’s a bit condescending, but more affecting and emotional I think. He just has these brilliant sounds. Obviously each composer has to play off the plot they’re given, but all did a really impressive job in applying music to the story. Anyway, here are the top 16 tracks for me:

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Living

From this moment forward I solemnly swear to live.

I’m going to do something.

I’m going to be someone.

I’m going to be happy.

I’m going to laugh.

I’m going to write.

I’m going to dream.

I’m going to smile.

I’m going to breathe.

I’m going to feel.

I’m going to read.

I’m going to love.

I’m going to walk.

I’m going to see.

I’m going to share.

I’m going to hear.

I’m going to play.

I’m going to live.

2014 Book Reviews

I decided to do a review of all the books I read in 2014 with a rating of each book. Note: there are spoilers throughout. I’m using my own rating system which is as follows:

10/10: Absolute classic/ Mind blowing/ life changing.

9/10: Amazing/ Superb.

8/10: Excellent/ Fantastic.

7/10: Great/ Enjoyable.

6/10: Good/ Solid.

5/10: Average/ Ok.

4/10: Disliked it.

3/10: Detested it.

2/10: Hated it with a passion.

1/10: Shouldn’t have been written/ Absolute Garbage.


I have included some novels I read University but excluded things like Anthologies. Although the list isn’t in order, you can find a full list of all the books I’ve read here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/27288351

Anyway, here are the books I read in 2014 by date:

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Le Week-end’s Soundtrack

le_week-end_2698189bLe Week-end (2013) follows a married couple’s holiday in Paris as they try to reinvigorate their love and marriage. A quaint and quite likeable film, it is a pleasurable watch. What really stood out for me was the soundtrack composed by Jeremy Sams. I am a sucker for jazz.

The soundtrack is filled with jazz pieces and we get a lot of rich sounds which does wonders for the Parisian backdrop. One of my personal favourites is the muted trumpet. It’s a sound that I love to hear in any song. It’s found throughout the soundtrack in particular “Train Music,” “Bank Girl” & “Doing A Runner.” It’s a quite solitary sound is it works well on its own. It conjures up this idea of solitude. But obviously because of the film the music isn’t bleak and the trumpet becomes a sort of comfort and warmth. In “Doing A Runner” the trumpet is accompanied by a double bass, drums and saxophone. It’s much more up tempo than the other tracks and consequently has an uplifting feel to it.

The piano plays an important role throughout the soundtrack. It’s used greatly in the contrast with silence. The notes are short and hang in the air like in “Nick In Corridor.” It’s quite minimalist and intermittent. We get this kind of gliding feeling when the piano is accompanied by the double bass like in “Train Music.”

In “Restaurant Wander” we get this smooth jazz vibe. The electric guitar (I think) is used to great avail here in creating this relaxing feeling. We also get the accordion which is an essential instrument in creating the Parisian sound-scape. It’s used prominently in “Hotel Escape.”

One of the more memorable tracks, “Madison,” is used during the dance scene. It’s an up tempo piece and in many ways the most fun. It works in contrast with all of the other tracks as it feels as though each instrument comes into its own in this piece. They really let go in this song and it’s almost like a catharsis. The trumpet is playful and unrestrained along with the saxophone, piano and drums. A great piece to end the movie on with a classic finish.

Carey Mulligan’s “New York New York”

Following on from my post about Kirsten Dunst, I thought I’d continue the theme of Jazz bar performances. This time the spotlight is on Carey Mulligan and her rendition of “New York New York” in Shame (2011). I know jazz isn’t for everyone and jazz bars might seem a bit boring to some people but I truly find at times that they can be really great for the soul. It’s amazing how certain music can just let you disappear from the hustle and bustle of the world and just allow for some escapism. For me, jazz does that (and probably also Indie/ Folk but that’s another story).

Back to the movie. Firstly, I’m a big fan of Carey Mulligan. She’s such a great actress and has a few vocal performances in movies e.g. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). I was aware of this song before this movie. I had been listening to Frank Sinatra’s version for years since I was a child so I knew how uplifting and empowering the song was (Big Sinatra fan as well 😛 ). I think everyone has heard it. I do love that version, it really gets me motivated.

Carey Mulligan’s version is stripped back. We don’t have the brass accompaniment which really does take it in another direction. It’s so fragile and vulnerable. Mulligan’s voice is the centre of attention here and it’s really haunting and beautiful. It is accompanied by just the piano. There are gaps of silence which make her notes hang in the air. It’s almost as if there is an uncertainty which is the complete opposite of Sinatra’s determination. This really suits the meaning of the song. Where Sinatra confidently sings about success and getting to the top, Mulligan sings about longing. Her voice aches for happiness and she is beautifully vulnerable. It has a real delicacy about it that reflects the story of Shame as a whole. Her character, Sissy, possess these same traits. She is suicidal and there is always this fear of what she will do next. The plot of the movie has its characters teetering on the edge of destruction and yet they long for happiness and “normality.” The song really reflects this idea as there is this longing for something better and an uncertainty about the future.

A hauntingly beautiful performance that I will never forget.