Tuesday, May 12, 2015

2015 | Spring Favourites


It's been quite a while since I've done a favourites post so I thought another one was due. I'm loosely calling it "spring favourites" as it encompasses everything I've loved the most since February/March. As I was writing this post I noticed that 1/3 of the things I've mentioned are Marvel Universe-related, which just shows how much of a sucker I am for a good superhero story.

Films


Avengers: Age of Ultron
I lived and breathed Avengers when the first film came out in 2012, and though I am not as obsessed as I was back then, I still screamed of excitement when I discovered I could see it a week early. Age of Ultron brings the Avengers back to defeat Ultron, a peacekeeping program gone rogue. The cast feels just a little too big sometimes - the film is packed with cameos - and the plot is "check your brain at the door" material, not to mention the weird handling of Black Widow's storyline, but it's full of witty one-liners and fantastic choreography and is exactly what I wanted from a sequel.



Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch's beautiful crafted 2013 indie film is nearly impossible to find in the States and I stumbled upon it on Germany's Netflix by accident. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton star as married vampires who reconnect after living half a world apart. The pace is slow and the plotline nearly nonexistent, but the film is beautifully carried out, from the acting to the setting to the design to the soundtrack. 

Television


Agent Carter
Although I am not a fan of the first Captain America film, I did immediately fall in love with Peggy Carter, the British officer and later love interest. The show takes place a few years after World War II and Peggy now works for an intelligence agency where she is often passed over for assignments because she is a woman. An old friend asks her to become a double agent and clear his name after he is accused of illegal weapons dealing. Carter teams up with Jarvis, a butler, and together they work to solve several mysteries. Though the first season is only 8 episodes long, it is a fantastic series and features a well-written, complex female lead in an era where sexism was blatant, and is the first of hopefully many female-lead Marvel projects.



Better Call Saul
I am a huge Breaking Bad fan, so when I heard a prequel was being made with the lawyer as the lead I was ecstatic. Better Call Saul functions as an origins story for Saul Goodman, known in his past as Jimmy McGill. Set six years before his appearance on Breaking Bad, the show explores his family life, start and career of his stint as an elder law lawyer, and the beginning of his eventual downfall into the shady lawyer we all know and love/hate. Though it's clearly part of the same story as Breaking Bad, the creators did an excellent job of making Better Call Saul its own thing, and I am impatiently waiting for the second season to release next year.


Poldark
If I'm completely honest, I only started this show because Aidan Turner was in it, but I was hooked on the story after one episode. BBC's adaptation of Winston Graham's popular book series has everything I love from a good period drama - famous British actors, beautiful settings, equal amounts of happy and sad moments, and naturally, believable romance. Poldark, set in the 18th century, stars Turner as Ross Poldark, a British soldier in the Revolutionary War who returns to his family mines in Cornwall only to find his former life in shambles. The series follows Poldark in his attempts to restore his family name and fortune. While a bit melodramatic, it nevertheless pulled me in from start to finish.


Daredevil
I wasn't familiar with the character of Daredevil until Netflix created this show so I didn't know what to expect. Unlike Marvel's last live-action television creation, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil is a gritty, realistic piece that feels more like an 11 hour film than a TV show. The premise follows Matt Murdock, a lawyer who has been blind since age 9, his best friend and lawyer partner Foggy, and their assistant Karen as they attempt to bring down Wilson Fisk, the man at the top of organised crime in Hell's Kitchen. Murdock fights via the law during the day and as a vigilante known as Daredevil at night. What I personally love most about this show is the fight choreography. Unlike the stylised work that is typically of superhero stories, Daredevil is a brutal, exhausting production, where the fatigue and blood is shown. Daredevil is not for younger Marvel fans, but is perfect for those who want something a little more "mature."

Albums



Glitterbug by The Wombats
The Wombats' 3rd album follows the same formula as their 2011 release This Modern Glitch - light, dance-worthy tracks full of unexpectedly sad, sometimes desperate but always clever lyrics about romance and modern culture. I've already listened to Glitterbug more times than I can count and I can tell it will make up the bulk of my summer soundtrack.
Favourite tracks: Give Me A Try, Greek Tragedy, Your Body is a Weapon, The English Summer



Piece by Piece by Kelly Clarkson
Kelly will forever and always be one of my favourite artists so naturally her newest release gets a place on this list. Her 7th album departs from her usual pop-rock formula to delve a bit more into dance-pop, giving Piece By Piece a very polished, perfect sound. Lyrically she tackles heartbreak, love, empowerment, and details a few personal struggles. Though not Clarkson's best release, it's still a fun pop piece that makes me want to dance.
Favourite tracks: Piece By Piece, Bad Reputation, Take You High


Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Nightwish
Nightwish's 8th album - and 1st with new vocalist Floor Jansen - is a high step above their previous release Imaginaerum. Endless Forms Most Beautiful brings back what's fantastic about this band - the orchestral work, the collaboration between the musicians that brings out each player's best, and the unique vocal work. The album, inspired by Charles Darwin and named after a quote of his, is described by the lead composer as a "very loose concept album," and is "all about beauty of life, the beauty of existence, nature, science."
Favourite tracks: Shudder Before the Beautiful, Yours Is An Empty Hope



All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I included Anthony Doerr's most recent novel on my April reads post, because it was not only the best book I read last month, but one of my favourite books I have ever read. Set in World War II, All the Light We Cannot See follows two characters - a blind French girl and a curious German boy - and two timelines - their childhoods and their lives' convergence and subsequent consequences in 1944. Doerr recently won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for this novel, and there's no question that he absolutely deserved it.


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