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16 August 2020 @ 05:13 pm
Welcome to my journal! I mainly use this journal to review and recommend great stories and anime. My favorite fandoms are BBC Sherlock, Harry Potter, White Collar, Kpop, and anime.

You may be interested in my recommendations for:

[Harry Potter] [Sherlock] [Kpop] [Anime] [White Collar] [Cabin Pressure] [Other Fandoms]

Onto the Recs!Collapse )

Please also use the tags to the left to find other reviews. I'm always updating my lists, and I love to chat, so please also comment and feel free to friend me. Thank you!

Current Mood: happyhappy
02 June 2018 @ 07:56 am
Lots of love to Benedict Cumberbatch for this. :)

Because of course he would be a real-life hero too.
12 February 2018 @ 02:12 pm
Anime Review: My Hero Academia

 “The deeper the darkness, the more dazzling the light shines.”

In a world filled with people who have genetic powers known as “quirks,” there are professional heroes with powerful quirks who rescue civilians from villains. Izuku Midoriya is one of the few “quirkless” people without a quirk…until he meets the professional hero All Might, who decides to pass on his powerful quirk to Midoriya. Midorya then gets to attend the prestigious U.A. High School to train to fight villains.

 Almost everything works for this colorful, fun, intense, intelligent, and meaningful anime. The characters are universally a delight with each one having interesting quirks, which contribute to their identities and help to lend depth. Our protagonist, Midoriya, is sweet but clever and powerful, and the way his new quirk is too powerful for his body, causing him to be constantly injured, is fascinating to watch. Shoto Todoroki has an amazing and horrifying backstory to his half-fire, half-ice quirk. Katsuki Bakugo transitions from being a bully to an insecure hero. Ochaco Uraraka is bubbly but with an undercurrent of steel.

The pacing is excellent, with never a dull moment or a filler episode. The fight scenes are stunningly choreographed and never filler: each one advances the plot or character development in meaningful ways. Even the overarching message of bettering yourself in order to help others is an important one that is well-presented.

 The only issue is the very occasional annoying fan-service element of sexualizing a handful—certainly not most!—of the female characters (Mt. Lady, Midnight, Momo). But the fan-service at least doesn’t seem to prevent their character development: in fact, their confidence in their bodies is presented positively. In addition, a student (Mineta) who insists on sexually harassing others is called out on it and generally presented in a negative light.

Here’s hoping to many excellent seasons ahead for this anime.

01 January 2018 @ 05:42 pm
A guide for me to keep track of everything. Please ask if you’re interested in any of them! :)

Previous years: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

::: Animation :::

  • Captain Underpants: the First Epic Movie (very enjoyable and even subtly progressive, plus Weird Al song!)

  • Kubo and the Two Strings (cute and a little profound)

  • Moana (impressive visuals, solid movie but not amazing)

  • The Secret Life of Pets (so bad I fell asleep and couldn’t finish, wow)

  • Sing! (not bad but goes off the rails a lot with a random storyline)

  • Trolls (genuinely very good! Great cohesive message and tone)</i>

  • Voltron: Legendary Defender (on Netflix; clearly a kids’ show but still fun)

::: Documentaries :::

  • Casting JonBenet (unusual exploration of the JonBenet Ramsey murder from the perspective of actors auditioning to play the Ramsey family)

  • The Elephant in the Living Room (heartbreaking and very well-made documentary about exotic pets in the US and how in many states there are no legislations against it whatsoever)

  • Icarus (well-done documentary about the Russian sports doping conspiracy)

  • The Keepers (a great Netflix documentary series like Making a Murderer, about the murder of a nun and a buried Catholic sex abuse scandal, that is fascinatingly filmed but the content is completely infuriating)

::: In-Theater Movies :::

  • Baby Driver (amazing; the use of music alone is phenomenal)

  • Bladerunner 2049 (fantastic atmosphere, acting, and music; very enjoyable)

  • The Dark Tower (such a disappointing adaptation of Stephen King’s epic series, totally missed the mark)

  • The Disaster Artist (funny fan tribute to the makers of The Room, great performances from the brothers Franco)

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (I didn’t like the first one, but this one was great! Fixed all the issues I had with the first one, had interesting female characters with growth, and actually made it a commentary on rape culture, wtf?!)

  • Logan (finally, an R-rated Wolverine movie!)

  • Logan Lucky (very good acting from Daniel Craig and Channing Tatum in particular)

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (I’m a big fan of this series and enjoyed this a lot)

  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (quite enjoyable film solidly in the Marvel universe; Michelle completely stole the show)

  • Thor: Ragnarock (tonally uneven but still lots of fun)

  • War for the Planet of the Apes (such impressive emotional acting and CGI covers a lot of plot holes)

::: Other Films :::

  • The Andromeda Strain (from 1971, a fascinating hard sci-fi movie that focuses on the scientific process, based on Michael Crichton’s novel)

  • Beauty & the Beast (2017; I love Emma Watson, but this live-action remake just didn’t work for me)

  • The BFG (actually awful??? How is Spielberg this bad?)

  • Colossal (surprising and haunting movie with Anne Hathaway, has to be seen to be believed; try not to see spoilers before you watch it)

  • Cooties (slapstick horror-comedy with Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, and Alison Pill, not hysterical but not bad)

  • Dad’s Army (with Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Gambon, and Mark Gatiss—sweet and fun, and a bit feminist)

  • Death Note (the Netflix 2017 remake. I’m a huge fan of the original, and this wasn’t actually that bad! It missed a lot of nuance and style but was still enjoyable)

  • The Discovery (with Robert Redford; fascinating setup but can’t completely fulfill its premise)

  • Dr. Strangelove (absurdist 1964 movie with Peter Sellers but still feels very relevant)

  • Dunkirk (interesting movie with almost none of the usual “Hollywood” feel of a war film)

  • Everything, Everything (completely implausible but with a really appealing lead in Amandla Stenberg)

  • The Founder (good movie but a bit obvious and the stakes didn’t feel very high)

  • Ghost in the Shell

  • Gifted (sweet and pretty much exactly what I expected with math, family drama, and custody issues)

  • Girl on the Train (very slow but intriguing)

  • Hail, Caesar! (very, very strange but not very good)

  • Hidden Figures (important story of female African-American mathematicians at NASA)

  • The House (with Will Farrell and Amy Poehler, had funny moments but could have been better)

  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople (sweet Taika Waititi New Zealand movie)

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (infuriating but amazing movie starring Oprah Winfrey about a black woman whose cells were taken without her consent to be used in medical research)

  • John Wick Chapter 2 (enjoyable sequel, very beautifully filmed sequences)

  • King Charles III (a fictionalized account of what might happen after Queen Elizabeth II’s death *cries* The acting was great but the plot wasn’t particularly believable)

  • Kong: Skull Island (a good cast but kind of silly writing)

  • La La Land (sort of poignant, I guess, but I found it dull)

  • The LEGO Batman Movie (sweet movie with a good message)

  • Life (2017 alien movie with Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds; I didn’t find it scary in the slightest and I’m easily frightened)

  • Maudie (fascinating movie about a Nova Scotia folk artist who had such a difficult life but made really beautiful and happy paintings anyway)

  • A Monster Calls (visually beautiful and emotionally resonant film)

  • Moonlight (the Academy Award Best Picture winner! I found it a sweet and moving character study, but I felt like it was too sanitized)

  • Morgan (good creepy atmosphere; reminded me of Deux Ex Machina)

  • Murder on the Orient Express (1974; entertaining even knowing the mystery’s solution beforehand)

  • Office Christmas Party (silly and funny; I enjoyed it)

  • Polytechnique (disturbing movie by the director of Arrival about a massacre on women attending a Montreal university in 1989)

  • The Riot Club (heavy-handed attempt to show the warped mentality that goes into secret elite university clubs)

  • The Room (one of those so-bad-it-becomes-unintentionally-brilliant kinds of movies)

  • Split (with James McAvoy; brilliant acting but sad that we have yet another evil character with inaccurately portrayed dissociative identity disorder)

  • Suicide Squad (certainly not good, but not as bad as everyone was saying)

  • Temple Grandin (intelligent and sensitive film about autism and animal husbandry with Claire Danes)

  • Why Him? (funny Father of the Bride-style movie with James Franco and Bryan Cranston; reminded me of the British show Cuckoo)

::: Film (Non-English) :::

  • The Host (great Korean movie where the monster isn’t the really scary villain, mindless bureaucracy is)

  • In the Arms of My Enemy (interesting French historical movie about brothers and love)

  • The Mermaid (slapstick comedy action romance drama (!) from China)

  • Train to Busan (well-done zombie disaster movie from South Korea; made me tear up at times)

  • Twenty (comedy from South Korea)

  • Yossi (moving film from Israel, the sequel to the amazing but sad Yossi & Jagger)

::: TV / Drama :::

  • Black Mirror (excellent as always)

  • The Good Place (fun and suprising)

  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (excellent as always)

  • Stranger Things (season 2, very enjoyable)

  • The Windsors (silly but fun parody of the British royal family)

So I really didn't enjoy the first Guardians of the Galaxy (see ranting here), but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? I totally loved and would recommend. Go figure.

Cut for SpoilersCollapse )
16 April 2017 @ 09:48 pm
Note: You can also find me on Dreamwidth: shadowfireflame.dreamwidth.org. I'm still working out how to use it and will not be deleting my LJ.


Anime Rec: Spiritpact

This 10-episode shounen-ai anime is the Japanese edit and dub of the Chinese anime Ling Qi (Soul Contract).

In it, a young You Keika is living in poverty as a fortune-teller when he is hit by a bus and killed. In death, he chooses to become contracted to the human demon-hunter Tanmoku Ki as his spirit shadow, a partner to protect Tanmoku and give him strength. Unbeknownst to both of them, they are connected more deeply than they realized. Along with Tanmoku’s ignored fiancée Shin Shiyou, the three team up to uncover the sinister plot going on at Tanmoku’s family home.

The anime packs a lot into its 10 episodes with lots of supernatural hurt/comfort elements and a gentle shounen-ai between You and Tanmoku, with some humor and very pretty art and character designs as well.

While the supernatural elements are a bit stereotypical and aren’t explained well, and the characterizations are a bit one-note, it’s interesting to see the different motivations of the characters, particularly the “evil” ones who are all vying for power behind the scenes and constantly testing Tanmoku and You’s relationship.

Tanmoku is difficult to read as a typical tsundere, but You makes for an appealing lead with his innocence and occasional frustration with his situation. I felt really bad for Tanmoku’s fiancée, Shiyou. Her character is actually fleshed out but it’s still hard to determine her reasons for sticking around when Tanmoku overlooks her constantly. She seems to have more meaningful interactions with You than with her fiancée.

Where the anime really shines, though, is in the evolving relationship and powerplays between Tanmoku and You. The two have great chemistry and it’s wonderful to see how they slowly get to know one another and how they react to seeing each other in danger. Towards the end I loved seeing how they had evolved into a team.

Unfortunately, after just 10 episodes it feels like it’s just getting into the good content when it ends. Would love to see more!

More anime recs can be found here.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
12 January 2017 @ 10:22 pm
My favorite video essayist, Nerdwriter1, has covered my favorite show! It's a very nice analysis of some of the filming techniques in Sherlock.

Video embeddedCollapse )
Current Mood: giddygiddy
03 January 2017 @ 08:38 pm
I'll cut for those who haven't seen The Six Thatchers yet! I thought I wouldn't theorize...but I was wrong... :)

Spoilery theorizingCollapse )
Current Mood: bouncybouncy
Squeeing because Sherlock is back!! No spoilers but I'll put it under a cut just in case.

No SpoilersCollapse )
Current Mood: excitedexcited
01 January 2017 @ 02:12 pm
Happy New Year! Here is my annual list to help myself keep track of what I've seen.

Previous years: 2013, 2014, 2015

::: Animation :::

  • Finding Dory (all right but had issues)

  • Hotel Transylvania 2 (cute and funny, like the first one)

  • The Little Prince (very sweet and beautifully animated)

  • Over the Garden Wall (slowly builds to an interesting conclusion)

  • Steven Universe (superb; read my full review here)

  • Zootopia (best animated movie of the year in my opinion)

::: Documentaries :::

  • Amanda Knox (great documentary that reveals so much police incompetence and sexism in her case)

  • Before the Flood (Leonardo DiCaprio takes on climate change intelligently—you can watch this on National Graphic for free!)

  • Boom Bust Boom (Monty Python’s Terry Jones takes on capitalism…using puppets, animation, and silly songs)

  • Capitalism: A Love Story (great Michael Moore documentary)

  • Catching the Sun (about solar energy)

  • (Dis)Honesty: the Truth About Lies (interesting documentary about deception and building a more ethical world)

  • Frontline: The Choice (about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, makes her a bit more relatable and him less relatable)
  • The Mask You Live In (about what causes toxic masculinity and how to change it)

  • Planet Earth (and Planet Earth II) (beautiful and thoughtful BBC documentaries)

  • Poverty, Inc. (excellent documentary about why traditional paternalism in foreign aid hurts those in poverty and a better way to help local economies to lift people out of poverty)

  • Prescription Thugs

  • Requiem for the American Dream (hard-hitting interview with Noam Chomsky about the sad state of wealth and power in the U.S.; rage-inducing)

  • Rise of the Continents (entertaining documentary about the stories geology tells)

  • Sharkwater (sad documentary about shark finning)

  • The Story of Maths (BBC history of math[s])

  • Super Powered Owls

  • Trophy Kids (parents who push their children to devote their lives to sports)

  • Vanishing of the Bees (systematic pesticides lead to bee colony collapse disorder)

  • Where to Invade Next (great Michael Moore documentary about how America should use Europe’s example to improve the country)

  • Why We Love Cats and Dogs (surprisingly emotional Nature documentary)

::: In-Theater Movies :::

  • Arrival (whoa, best movie of 2016 in my opinion)

  • Captain America: Civil War (great movie! I saw it twice in theatres!)

  • Deadpool (lots of fun, a great parody of the superhero genre)

  • Doctor Strange (with Benedict! Trippy and fun)

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Pretty good but ultimately disappointing. Could have been good, but instead felt like they were trying to make two different movies: one about politics and one about fantastic beasts)

  • Ghostbusters (fun movie and lots of chemistry between the four leads, especially Kate MacKinnon and Leslie Jones)

  • Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (very funny film that actually has something important to say about institutionalized sexism)

  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (the Lonely Island mockumentary; very funny!)

  • Sherlock: the Abominable Bride (amazing, love that it was in theaters! Saw it twice!)

  • Star Trek Beyond (better than the first two, and Sulu has a husband! Awesome!)

  • Star Wars: Rogue One (fun! I like the direction these are going in and I love the diversity in the cast)

  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (with Tina Fey; full review here)

  • X-Men: Apocalypse (yikes, not good)

::: Other Films :::

  • 10 Cloverfield Lane (good slow-building suspense)

  • 99 Homes (good but could have been better)

  • Adam (with Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne, about Asperger Syndrome)

  • Against the Sun (with Tom Felton! Great WWII survival story)

  • Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (hate-watched to see if it was as bad as reviewers said. It was. So, so bad.)

  • The Boss (with Melissa McCarthey and Kristen Bell; pretty funny)

  • Boy (New Zealand Maori family drama by Taika Waititi, who did the very funny What We Do in the Shadows)
  • Brooklyn (sweet story of an Irish immigrant to America)

  • The Brothers Grimsby (can’t believe Mark Strong got involved with this; it wasn’t bad though)

  • Central Intelligence (with Kevin Hart and Dwane Johnson, very funny! I hope it gets a sequel)

  • Concussion (honestly, this could have hit a whole lot harder, pardon the pun)

  • The Conjuring (quite scary and unusual presentation, focusing on ghost detectives)

  • Creed (not a fan of Rocky, but I like the main actor, Michael B. Jordan)

  • Daddy’s Home (funny Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg movie)

  • Dave and Mike Need Wedding Dates (silly but funny; Aubrey Plaza is amazing)

  • Dirty Grandpa (with Robert DeNiro and Zac Efron, not good)

  • Earth to Echo (pretty good found-footage alien movie similar to E.T.)

  • Eye in the Sky (thought-provoking drama about military drone strikes)

  • Fantastic 4 (yikes, no fun at all and certainly nothing fantastic. Almost works as a prologue to a story that never comes)

  • The Game (very messed-up movie with Michael Douglas)

  • The Hateful Eight (takes a while to get going but comes together in the end)

  • Keanu (funny Key & Peele movie with an adorable kitten)

  • Killing Charlie Countryman (too slow and random for me but has Mads Mikkelsen in it, which is always a good thing)

  • Krampus (a disappointment; could have been a fun comedy or horror movie, but instead went the way of being neither)

  • The Legend of Tarzan (2016) (engaging show-don’t-tell style…right up until the third act, when everything takes a nosedive plot-wise and rushes to the end)

  • The Man Who Knew Infinity (about a groundbreaking Indian mathematician at Cambridge during WWI, an inspiring story but could have been presented more meaningfully)

  • Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World (great movie and casting choices! I’m reading the book series right now, which has heightened my enjoyment)

  • Midnight Special (fascinating sci-fi movie like E.T. with wonderful acting, tension, and atmosphere)

  • Muriel’s Wedding (sweet 1994 movie)

  • New Waterford Girl (sweet movie set in rural Nova Scotia)

  • The Night Before (a story about men realizing the importance of emotional labor)

  • Now You See Me 2 (amusing and entertaining if implausible, loved the scenes in Macau and the fact that Daniel Radcliffe was in this)

  • Pan (bad; really, really bad…Captain Hook is for some reason a cowboy…)

  • The Program (with Ben Foster, about the Lance Armstrong doping scandals)

  • The Revenant (with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy)

  • Ride Along 2 (I love Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in this)

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016 Fox remake, creepily sanitized and not enjoyable even though Laverne Cox tries her best)

  • Room (best picture of 2015, in my opinion)

  • Score: A Hockey Musical (as weird as it sounds)

  • The Shallows (tense thriller as long as you accept the premise that there is an obsessed shark)

  • Shrek the Musical (on Netflix; they did a good job)

  • Sicario (about the abuse of the CIA with the drug war in Mexico; not what I expected)

  • Sisters (cute, love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)

  • Source Code (intriguing premise and very good acting)

  • Straight Outta Compton (interesting but missed an opportunity to more deeply explore many issues)

  • Take Shelter (with Michael Shannon; strange and ominous)

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (awful, even worse than the first movie)

  • Triple 9 (about a gang of criminals and crooked cops who are blackmailed into doing jobs by the Russian mafia; amazing cast)

  • Trumbo (I’m glad Hollywood covered this story)

  • Warcraft (standard fantasy in many ways but takes some interesting risks)

  • War Dogs (not a bad take on U.S. military contractors, though I felt Nicholas Cage’s Lord of War was better)

  • The Witch: A New England Folktale (interesting horror film about a devout Puritan family in the 1600s)

::: Film (Non-English) :::

  • The Handmaiden (by the fantastic Park Chanwook; brilliant and tense lesbian drama!)

  • Look Who’s Back (German mockumentary about Hitler coming to the future, very politically relevant)

::: TV / Drama :::

  • 11.22.63 (good time-travel drama with James Franco, based on Steven King’s JFK novel)

  • Cuckoo (amusing “Father of the Bride”-style British comedy starring Americans Andy Samberg and Taylor Lautner)

  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Service (zany fun but dark show from Douglas Adams, and Elijah Wood’s acting is great)

  • Empire

  • Frank Herbert’s Dune (2000 mini-series; couldn’t really get into it)

  • Fresh Off the Boat

  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (very funny)

  • Hannibal (season 3)

  • House of Cards

  • Inside Amy Schumer

  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (utter brilliance)

  • Making a Murderer (a must-watch addicting documentary that will make you insane with rage and horror)

  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (campy lesbian Australian detectives! Love it!)

  • The Shadow Hunters (bad, but better than the Mortal Instruments movie!)

  • Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (brilliance as always)

  • Stranger Things (very creepy and well-done Netflix series that blends many supernatural horror ideas; great child actors)

  • War & Peace (excellent new BBC miniseries)

  • Westworld (superb sci-fi/Western HBO drama, one of the best new shows this year)

Current Mood: excitedexcited