Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE SHAPE OF WATER

THE SHAPE OF WATER might be the most gorgeous film of 2017 (other than Blade Runner 2049 and I haven’t seen Last Jedi yet). Certainly, not might, this ranks as one of writer/director Guillermo Del Toro’s best films alongside Hellboy II, Blade, Pan’s Labryinth and Mimic. It has a solid structure, there doesn’t seem to be a scene wasted, it’s well acted and it’s very entertaining…so why can’t I put it on my Top 15 Film List of 2017 like so many other critics are doing? Because while the story has a very solid structure, it is unfortunately way too predictable to be taken as a wholly original film. It is still a great film, and I am recommending it to see it in a theater to experience the wonderful cinematography on the biggest screen that you can, but the story, including the journey, was an ingredient that was vital to the masterpiece of this dish, and they didn’t put enough in.

Maybe my expectations were too high after all the praise this film was getting, calling it “one of the best of the year.” I agree it is Oscar worthy in every sense of the form. Especially it should win cinematography if Blade Runner doesn’t and I think Sally Hawkins is likely to win Best Actress (and rightly so, she is freaking incredible in this, her best performance to date). Just something for the story for me was off. Beat by beat, plot progression by plot progression, I was guessing everything that was going to happen at every turn. Sitting in almost an empty theater at 10 p.m., I was saying out loud scenes to myself (but quietly, wasn’t near a soul) that were going to happen 10 to 15 minutes down the line, and I was correct. There wasn’t a moment where something absolutely shocked me into what was going on. The only minor thing that was unpredictable was a subplot with Russians that revealed its hand a little too early and had a conclusion I guessed since moment one.

Not to say the movie isn’t boring at all. It’s not, its quite entertaining, and people are sure to love this exquisitely shot love story. The character arcs all go full circle. Other than Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon, and Octavia Spencer are all incredible here and if any of them got Oscar nominations as well they are well deserved. I shall be crushed though if this gets nominated for Best Original Screenplay, because it is so riddled with some cliches and predictability it would take amnesia to not notice them. I’m only trying to explain myself why I am not putting this on my top list so people aren’t shocked beyond belief. They might be shocked that I am not putting Disaster Artist in my top 15 either even though I thought it was incredible,  but I have reasons for that as well.

Now let’s get to the creature, played by Doug Jones. I was surprised how much of a practical effect the creature was, other than the eyes. I thought it would be a CG creation a la Beast from this year’s Beauty and The Beast, but boy was I wrong. This thing is real, looks real, feels real, so the chemistry because him and Sally Hawkin’s mute character is believable, inspiring, yet heartbreaking when it needed to be. In fact, this creature and the two’s chemistry  make whatever Belle and the Beast had in this year’s earlier adaptation seem like it was done on a computer with a tech on autopilot.

The end is a little anti climatic as well, but effective. And on the whole I still think it is a pretty great film. It’s beautiful and a true work of art: visually. If Guillermo Del Toro, on his next film, could take that art, and turn it into something not just visually appetizing, but bring us a dessert of a truly sweetly written and unpredictable word, by God what a masterpiece that would be. And I was starting to give up hope on Del Toro, after the painstakingly numbing experience of Crimson Peak, and the good but not fantastic Pacific Rim. But this is a giant step in the right direction across the street of cinematic heaven. Just a few more steps Del Toro, you’ve made it there several times before being sent back to the drawing board, you’ll make it again.

The Last Move by Mary Burton

Summary: In this gripping stand-alone from bestselling author Mary Burton, an FBI agent must catch a copycat killer. The only difference this time: she’s the final victim.

Catching monsters helps FBI agent Kate Hayden keep her nightmares at bay. Now an urgent call brings her back to San Antonio, the scene of her violent past. A brutal new murder shows hallmarks of a serial killer nicknamed the Samaritan. Tricky part is, Kate already caught him.

Either Kate made a deadly error, or she’s got a copycat on her hands. Paired with homicide detective Theo Mazur, she quickly realizes this murder is more twisted than it first appeared. Then a second body is found, the mode of death identical to a different case that Kate thought she’d put behind her.

Now Kate and Detective Mazur aren’t just working a homicide; the investigative pair is facing a formidable enemy who knows Kate intimately. While Mazur is personally trying to protect Kate, the closer they are drawn to the killer, the clearer it becomes that in this terrifying game, there is only one rule: don’t believe everything you see…

 

My review:  My mom went to high school in San Antonio and that is where my grandfather is buried so when I saw this book was set in San Antonio I knew I needed to read this book.

This book was very good you just kept waiting for that moment that moment where everything appears hopeless for Kate.   You knew it was coming as the author does a fantastic job building.   There are chapters that are from the killers perspective and as someone who studied the criminal mind in college it was fascinating and way more fun than I care to admit.    I always feel so ashamed to admit I love serial killer books  and thankfully we have authors like Burton who deliver delicious fiction like this to satisfy our serial killer cravings.

Such a good book you really feel like you just know what is going to happen and then BAM you might be wrong.  So well written and Mary Burton has a new fan thanks to this fantastic book!

Book Review: From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

Summary: Italy, 1943—Germany occupies much of the country, placing the Jewish population in grave danger during World War II.
As children, Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were raised like family but divided by circumstance and religion. As the years go by, the two find themselves falling in love. But the church calls to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chooses the priesthood.
Now, more than a decade later, Angelo is a Catholic priest and Eva is a woman with nowhere to turn. With the Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva within the walls of a convent, where Eva discovers she is just one of many Jews being sheltered by the Catholic Church.
But Eva can’t quietly hide, waiting for deliverance, while Angelo risks everything to keep her safe. With the world at war and so many in need, Angelo and Eva face trial after trial, choice after agonizing choice, until fate and fortune finally collide, leaving them with the most difficult decision of all.

My Review:

I admit, I struggle with anything holocaust related. I can find an amazing book and not read it because I know one of the characters is going to be tortured in the concentration camps. I struggle with reading because honestly how often do those books have a happy ending and it is hard reading something that happened to so many, even if the book is fictional.

This book was beautifully written. I have never read Amy Harmon but based on the many glowing reviews I suspect I should add her to my rotation of authors I read. This story was engrossing from the first page. Her writing propelled me into Nazi occupied Italy and I couldn’t put the book down.

The love between the two main characters was so forbidden so powerful and so remarkable that I am pretty positive I will think of this book for a very long time.

If you have not read this book you should even if it is a genre you typically don’t read, it is a very powerful tale of forbidden love during one of the darkest times of humanity and will stay with me a very long time.

Book Review: The Lazy Teacher’s Guide To TEFL by Ian Leahy

Summary:

Short on time or money? The Lazy Teacher’s Guide To TEFL is a very simple and practical guide to teaching English as a foreign language. This guide takes the less is more approach to TEFL which can be especially good for newcomers.

It is not meant to overwhelm you by exposing you to too much information. This focuses on teaching you simple and effective tools for the classroom. It is free of theory, grammar study and non-essential classroom tools.

It is not a comprehensive guide to teaching ESL. Again it is simple and its goal is to make entering the ESL classroom much easier. If you don’t have the time, money or the desire to take a TEFL course and would like to enter the classroom with some know-how then this could be for you. It could also be for the person who has taken a course and probably forgot what they learned.

Learn how to teach English (especially to kids) with this practical quick start guide to teaching ESL.

 

My Review:

I have been reading a lot of Teach English as a Foreign Language books and I admit most are pretty redundant. This one felt useful as it truly gives an easy way to breakdown and process lesson planning. Granted it is probably a better idea to be a little more detailed in classes but honestly I like how the author explained how the classes should go and gave tips on what to do with bad situations in the classroom. When I am ready to leave I will definitely download this one again as a refresher.

This book offers game ideas as well as ways to break the ice with students.   The author also included a lot of links to videos that I completely going to watch especially before I leave to teach abroad.

Click the link below to purchase.

The Lazy Teacher’s Guide To TEFL

Disclaimer:  This post does contain affiliate links, which I earn a small commission if you purchase at absolutely no cost to you. 

Just escape the cubicle already

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