alobear (alobear) wrote,

Turtles, Blocks, Agents

On bank holiday Monday, we went to see The Red Turtle. I definitely enjoyed the experience of watching it. It flowed very well, and I found myself immersed in the world very easily, despite (or perhaps because of) the lack of dialogue. I was certainly invested in the character of the ship-wrecked man, and I shared in his various emotions throughout the story. Dave said the film felt really long (it was 80 minutes - though the heat in the cinema wouldn't have helped) but I didn't have that problem at all. I did find myself anticipating the ending too early, but was pleasantly surprised when it then moved on into a different phase of the story. Afterwards, the group had a relatively brief discussion about the meaning and message of the film, which resulted in some rather unfortunate interpretations, and I admit it would be easy to see some quite unhealthy messages to take away from it, when viewed from a certain angle. So, I have decided to let it remain non-specifically contemplative in my mind, giving it a dreamlike quality that I think fits quite well with the presentation. It's not a film I think would benefit from lengthy analysis - I just let it take me along, and now I'm ready to let it go.

Something that I think will stay with me longer is A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart. I picked this book up at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival after enjoying an interview with the author. He's a computer games reviewer, who discovered a way to connect better with his autistic son by playing Minecraft with him, and that's the central premise of the book, though the background of the characters and the arc of the various plot strands are very obviously fictional. I found the book intensely emotive - to the extent that it had me pretty much crying on the train and in a cafe, but also inwardly cheering at other points. The difficulties of being a parent to an autistic child are very honestly and unflinchingly portrayed, which I find very brave of the author. But that also means that the emotional payoff at various points is that much stronger. I loved the development of the characters, I thought the portrayal of the relationships was very realistic, the narrative had tons of very sharp and sometimes funny observations about people and society, and the overall arc of the book was extremely satisfying. It was very painful to read in places, but well worth it in the end. And I particularly liked the concluding sense that these characters lives were going to carry on long after the book finished - the ending was much more of a beginning in a way that really appealed to me. I also loved all the bits set inside the world of Minecraft - it was very vividly brought to life and added a fantastical element to what was otherwise a book very firmly set in the real world.

The General by Robert Muchamore is the tenth in the CHERUB series, and my comments about it are very similar to those for the last few books. It was too short, too episodic, and none of the characters seemed to change or really learn anything. The main protagonist, James, is still a total dick, and my favourite parts of the books are always when the female agents point his flaws out to him in quite aggressive fashion - but he doesn't seem to learn from this at all. The main plot of the book involved a training exercise the CHERUB agents were taking part in, so there was very little sense of jeopardy in the story, and the section in Las Vegas at the end felt rather tacked on. Still, overall it was quite fun, the narrator is very good, and I like the peripheral characters enough to want to keep listening. As the books are so short, I don't feel they're particularly good value for money when I'm spending Audible credits on them, but I make up for that so much with my other audiobook purchases that I don't really mind. There are only two books left in the main CHERUB series, so I will see it through to the end, mostly to find out where James ends up after his CHERUB career is over.
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