Part of my expat agreement includes one trip home for personal reasons. I used mine this past week. There will be a separate post on the trip but a trip home means, in total, 20 hours in a plane and almost that long in an airport. Plenty of time for movies and books!
First up, movies, with a bit of HBO thrown in at the end.
The Nice Guys: In the vain of In Bruges and the Travolta/Jackson bits of Pulp Fiction, we have the wrong-side-of-the-law version of a buddy cop comedy, with lots of violence and cursing. It's a fun movie, with plenty of twists and turns. The seventies setting gives us a chance to see Ryan Gosling in hilarious and horrible facial hair and both he and his partner, Russel Crowe, in disastrous fashion. It's a bit noir, a bit procedural. It's one of those movies that won't, and shouldn't, get a lot of love at awards time but it's probably going to be popping up on cable, Netflix, and airports for years to come. There's something re-watchable about it, comforting. It didn't get much attention when it first came out but I imagine, as it gets to the aforementioned venues, the word of mouth will start to improve. Check it out when it comes your way. And one final comment - the version I saw had all the curse words edited (but not the violence or nudity) so there was a lot of 'freaking's and 'dingus's thrown around. It took me out of the movie a few times, so maybe find an unedited one, though maybe they'll improve the dubbing by the time it makes its way to TBS.
The Lobster: If I hadn't read a review of this movie, I would have ignored it. But knowing a bit about the plot (single people get turned into animals if they can't find a companion, basically), I had to check it out. It's an odd film but I couldn't shut up about it. I explained the plot a half dozen times while I was home, in whatever conversation I could shoe-horn it into. It's a fascinating idea, providing commentary on society's focus on relationships. I especially appreciated it when I was home and my grandmother could only think to ask me whether or not I'd met a boy in Germany yet. But hey, at least I don't have to turn into a horse for reaching thirty unmarried. The film is bleak but also humorous. Also, if anyone is looking at an excuse to laugh at a kid getting kicked in the shin, this is it.
Neighbors 2: I really enjoyed the first movie. And the second movie is basically a Mad Libs version of the first, replacing 'fraternity' with 'sorority' and adding more babies. If you liked the first one, you will like the second. The feminism is super blatant, so anyone who thought the female Ghostbusters ruined their childhood need not apply. It was a little overhanded at times, but given how sexist the sorority and fraternity systems are, we can use some obviousness. I was in a sorority in college and so much of this hit close to home. The dumb party and alcohol rules. The strict codes that are nowhere to be found for the guys. At first I was annoyed that the girls started a new sorority - just get an apartment off campus and call it a day! - but I get it. I like knowing that I always have a place at my alma mater, whether it's a stay at the house or stopping by the Tri Delta tent at Homecoming. Having a family and all that. But also wanting to have wine while watching The Girls Next Door and have a party without dealing with dumb frat boys. One more comment - this one was also edited and the dildo baby Stella kept playing with was blurred out. Honestly, it made the gag more funny.
Me Without You: It was part my lack of sleep the two nights previous, part the jet lag, but I tried watching this movie twice on my flight back to Germany and fell asleep both times. Emilia Clarke, your eyebrows are adorable but it wasn't enough.
WestWorld: Brief foray into TV now. I spent my first day back from Germany on my couch, exhausted and with a huge to do list but not wanting to move. Honoring a promise to my brother, I binged the first three episodes of HBO's next big thing. I don't have real thoughts this early into the series. It doesn't seem to know yet what it's really trying to say or even which characters we're supposed to be rooting for. But the world-building has been impressive so far and I like how the humans interact with the robots. The world outside Westworld honestly interests me more. I want to know more about that. But overall I'm enjoying the show. That aside, my biggest reaction so far is questions. Why the West? Are there other worlds out there exploring other eras, like in the movie it's based on? What do the hosts think of planes? Do they see planes? Is Westworld a no fly zone? How do they prevent harm to guests besides shooting? Is there some type of panic button they give the guests? Also, how do other guests know it's a guest or host? The guns aside, what is preventing a guest from raping another guest, mistaking her for a host? Stabbing another guest? Is that picture really the first anachronistic thing to make it into westworld? Do guests really give up their cell phones? How far in the future are we? This awesome new technology is really just used for a theme park? Would westworld really be any fun, just watching other people shoot at each other? How did that one guest transition from his dressing room to the train so easily? Also, is it that cost efficient to have so many bespoke clothing and hat options for each guest? How long do guests stay in westworld? Wouldn't they need to bring luggage? Okay, that's enough of that.
Next: books! I was a bit lazy here and only read two, though I started In the Garden of the Beasts in paperback and started a re-read of To Kill a Mockingbird on my Kindle app.
The Good Girl: This book is really not perfect. The story line is a little silly and I hated the tacked-on ending. But I also read the whole thing in one day, which I don't think I've done since college. I just couldn't put it down. The romance is believable and there's chemistry between the characters. The central mystery is interesting and different from the usual romantic drama plots. It tries really hard to be Gone Girl in that respect and it's just not. None of the characters are as complex or interesting as Amy Dunne and the writings not as good but that's okay. It's perfect for a long plane ride or a beach.
In Cold Blood: This is the opposite of that. I don't recommend this on a beach. Maybe a plane.