Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Thoughts on Broken Harbour and The Lost City of Z

Hi! I originally planned to write several posts about some books that I finished reading recently and the 2017 San Diego Comic Con event, but I had to get my laptop repaired so I couldn't use it. I could have used my phone to type my posts but I'm just not a fan of typing long posts using only your thumbs, so I didn't write anything while my laptop wasn't with me. But now it's back, so I'm back too.

During my long summer break, I spent a lot of time reading. I finished reading the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire. I enjoyed reading it but I don't think I need to review it because I assume everybody knows what the book is like. After I finished that one, I immediately started reading Tana French's Broken Harbour, the fourth book in her Dublin Murder Squad series, which I'm going to review in this post. Besides the book, I also have a lot of thoughts about a movie I just saw recently entitled The Lost City of Z.

Broken Harbour by Tana French

Maybe you remember that I have read the first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, In the Woods. Technically I should have read the second and the third books in the series before I read Broken Harbour, but I found Broken Harbour when I came to Big Bad Wolf a while ago and couldn't resist the temptation to buy it. I did a research and found that it's okay not to read the series in the right order because each book is a standalone. So I happily bought and read the book.

"The ones that slice like razors forever are the ghosts of things that never got the chance to happen."
Page 187

Broken Harbour
 has the same formula as In the Woods. Harbour involves two detectives, Scorcher and Richie, that partner up and develop a friendship that starts as something lovely but gradually turns complicated as they get more involved in the case, just like Rob and Cassie in Woods. One of the most memorable parts of Woods is the autopsy part, which is painful to read and Harbour has that as well. I think the ones in Harbour are even more brutal. Also similar to Woods, Harbour has a main character who is emotionally connected to the location of the crime, which allows us readers to see glimpses of their true self outside their work. My favorite part of the book is when the killer is finally revealed. That one chapter where the killer gets exposed is mesmerizing. When I read that part, I totally forgot everything, even the other parts of the book, and was completely hypnotized by the killer's story about what has actually happened. I could really picture everything that the killer says in my mind and even feel what she feels. Tana French is such a talented writer.

When I finished reading the book and found out who the killer was and the reason why, I thought it was crazy and didn't make any sense. But then I realized that I've actually seen something like that right before my eyes. Yes, it doesn't make any sense when you think of it, but it actually happens. Sometimes the world is crazy, right?

So I enjoyed reading this book. I still love In the Woods more because it feels more atmospheric to me, but this book has convinced me to read the rest of the series.

Rating: 3/5

The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z is a film by James Gray that is based on a true story of Percy Fawcett as told by David Grann in his book entitled The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. Percy, played by Charlie Hunnam, was a British explorer who found evidences of a civilization that had never been discovered before while he was on a mission in the Amazon. Finding the lost city where the civilization used to exist soon became Percy's obsession. The film covers Percy's entire journey to find his lost city, which began with his first expedition with his loyal companion, Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson), during which he found some broken pottery which indicate the existence of an advanced civilization in the uncharted area, and ended when he and his oldest son Jack (Tom Holland) mysteriously disappeared during their final expedition.

The thing that I love about films like Z that follow the main protagonists for so many years in their lives is how they could make me feel so small compared to the (hopefully) many years that are coming. At 25, sometimes pride consumes me because I'm technically an adult now, not a child anymore. Sometimes I feel like I am the wisest person in the world who has experienced so much in life. But watching films that let us see someone go through their whole life, how much they change and grow throughout the many years is just humbling. Films like Z always succesfully slap my face and make me realize that I have so much to learn.

Z is based on a book that has the word "obsession" in its title. So I was quite surprised by it because I don't really get how and why Percy became so obsessed with the lost city. Percy's three expeditions that are featured in the film feel really short and, I don't know... rushed? They don't really show how difficult the obstacles were and how obsessed Percy was with his mission. It's probably because the film has to cover so many years of Percy's life yet it only has around 140 minutes to do it. It probably doesn't have enough time to go that deep with each expedition. It's a shame because the obsession is supposed to the center of the story, right?

One of this film's appeals is the actors who are involved in it. The cast includes some well-known actors like Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller and Tom Holland. The great thing about this ensemble cast is, this film is about Percy Fawcett, yet the supporting characters in it show their layers and complexity that are really enjoyable to watch. If there were spinoffs that center on the supporting characters of this film, I would like to watch them.

One of the performances in Z that caught my attention came from our favorite glowing vampire from Twilight, Robert Pattinson. I haven't seen Rob in any movie for a long time; the last time I saw him in a movie is probably when the final Twilight movie came out. So it was nice to see him in a movie again, in a role that is completely different from Edward Cullen. Rob plays Henry Costin, Fawcett's companion in his first two expeditions who also became his close and loyal friend. He has his face covered by a massive beard and mud and spectacles for most of his screen time. His voice also sounds a little different. The way he portrays Costin, who is always smoking and chill and quiet yet so loyal and brave, is unlike anything Rob has ever done in Twilight. There is a scene where Costin geeks out because he and his gang of explorers have just landed on a place where no man has gone before that I like very much. I also love Costin's last scene where he tells Percy that he doesn't want to join him in his next expedition and that he thinks finding Z may not be the answer that Percy seeks. I think that scene is just so intimate and shows how close Costin and Percy have become and how much Costin cares and knows Percy. The point is, I'm really happy to see Mr Pattinson in this movie and hope he would do more films that can show his great acting skills.

Robert Pattinson, his beard and Charlie Hunnam in The Lost City of Z
Source: www.usmagazine.com
Another scene-stealer in this movie is Sienna Miller, who plays Percy's wife Nina. Nina is such a rich and complex character. She is an incredibly loyal and supportive wife to her husband. When Percy tells her that he wants to leave her, again and again, to chase his dreams, she doesn't stop him. She even lets her son go and follow his father when the time comes. After being left like that, she always embraces her loved ones with all the love that she has when they come home to her. I think that really shows how selfless true love can be. Despite being loyal, Nina is also a feminist who demands to be seen as an equal by men, especially her husband. Oh yes, a woman can be a loving wife and mother and a fierce feminist at the same time, just like Nina. 

Father and son
Source: collider.com
Even though he doesn't have much screen time, Tom Holland surprised me with his powerful performance as Jack Fawcett, Percy's oldest son. Tom doesn't waste any time to show that he can act. In the first scene where he interacts with his father for the first time as a teenager, he pours all of his anger to Percy, a father who leaves him and lets him grow without him. He even whispers, "I hate him," with tears running down his face after his father slaps him. That scene totally wrecked my soul. I can understand that Percy, just like every human being, has the right to pursue his dreams. Stopping him from doing that is totally unfair. However, I also know what it's like to be angry at someone who is supposed to take care of you but doesn't. And Tom's final scene! Oh my God! As I told you before, Percy and Jack never returned from their expedition. In the film's ending, we only see them being taken to a river by some people from a tribe after they're captured and are never shown what happens after that because nobody knows what actually happened to them. Seeing Percy in his final scene was kind of peaceful for me. I mean, he has lived a long full life. He has had time to be with the woman he loves, see how his children have grown, feel the glory of success and chase his dreams. So, in that last scene, I could see peace in his face. If he dies after that, at least he has had the chance to live a long full life. But things are different for Jack. He is just a boy. His life hasn't even started. If he has to die that day, that means all the dreams, the joy, the glory and everything that he could have experienced in his life die too. Seeing him sob next to his dad and say, "We're going to die here today," is unbearably painful. It's just cruel. The last look on his face still haunts me until now.

Rating: 3,5/5

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