We’re coming up on finals season now and with all those essays and problem sets, it can be hard to gather up the energy to read something for fun. But if you’re still hankering for something literary, worry not: Netflix has been outdoing itself with a steady stream of high-quality book adaptations that are sure to take your mind off GenChem, senior design, or Orgo. Want all A’s? Look no further, because I’m sure one of these is sure to fit the bill.
1. A Series of Unfortunate Events
If these strangely pessimistic, uniquely verbose, darkly comical books weren’t a part of your childhood, you’re still in good time to become a fan of Lemony Snicket and the Baudelaire children with the brilliant Netflix adaptation that is now in its second season. Originally thirteen books, each one is split into two hour-long episodes that perfectly capture Snicket’s sharp wit and cynicism as they narrate the tragic story of precocious orphans Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. This adaptation includes details of the intricate plot that previous adaptation have glossed over and perfectly captures the steampunk gloom of the original books. Featuring a star-studded cast with big names such as Neil Patrick Harris as antagonist Count Olaf and Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, this show is sure to ruin your day in the best way.
Based on the strange science fiction novel by Jeff VanderMeer, this movie starring Natalie Portman is a slow-budding, aesthetically beautiful work that leaves you strangely satisfied, even if it does raise more questions than answers. Centred around an all-female group of scientists that ventures into a The Shimmer, a wildland from where no previous research time has returned, Annihilation is filled with shifting landscapes, vivid colors, and strange creatures. Although the film deviates quite significantly from the novel, its great cast, soothing soundtrack, and amazing visuals make it a more than worthwhile watch.
3. Alias Grace
This Canadian-American adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name is, in my humble opinion, the only one of these three titles that by far surpasses the original literary version. Centered around accused murderess Grace Marks, the Netflix miniseries organizes the confused and rather underdeveloped narrative from the novel into a coherent, riveting narrative that leaves you on the edge of your seat. Combined with a stellar cast and well-executed plot twists, this is a nice and easily bingeable series perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale, period dramas, or psychological murder mysteries.
That’s all for now, folks. Happy finals!
Written by Mariana N.
Happy Groundhog Day (1993, dir. Harold Ramis)! Here’s a review of a different movie.
I have to preface this review of Thelma (2017, dir. Joachim Trier) by disclosing to the reader that I had a little bit of a personal bias before I sat down to watch this movie. Not because I felt one way or the other about any of the movie-makers or the subject of the film, but because I had to endure the harrowing experience of walking from Brown College to the Rice Media Center by myself in the dark in 118% humidity. I didn’t take the bus because I was paranoid about being late and I thought it would be faster to walk than to wait for the bus. (It was a 40 minute walk due to me going to two of the wrong buildings.) (I was still a half hour early.)
Thelma was disarming in its beauty. I’m not usually married to certain mediums of presentation for art, but I do think there was something worthwhile about seeing this movie on the big screen. I feel like you see a window shatter on your phone screen, and think, “a window shattered,” you see a frozen lake on your laptop screen and think, “yeah, that sure is a lake.” You see the mountains of Norway on a 20-foot screen and think, “20 feet and they still can’t fit the whole mountain in the frame?” You see a frozen lake in your entire field of vision and you feel like you could press your cheek against the ice. I don’t know if I was just sitting too close to the screen, but when I saw that window shatter I flinched. Even if the movie didn’t have subtitles, I think I would have been content to just sit back and let the images happen to me.
Plot-wise, Thelma strays far enough from convention that it’s enjoyable to a variety of audiences without being too disjointed: if you want an art film, it’s an art film with more than one line of dialogue every 10 minutes, if you want a psychological drama, it’s a psychological drama with some levity and romance, if you want a superhero origin story (which it has been called by other critics) it’s...kind of like that? I mean, the only superhero movie I’ve seen to the end was one of Andrew Garfield’s Spiderman movies in my freshman year of high school, but somehow I know that these aren’t exactly the same type of movie. I think superhero movies could be like Thelma if they tried, though. Basically, I don’t know if you’ll like Thelma enough to walk forty minutes in the dark to see it, but if that ends up being the case for you, I don’t think you’ll be too torn up about it once the movie ends.
Written by Rynd M.
April is the cruelest month, breeding/ Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/ Memory and desire, stirring/ Dull roots with spring rain.
-T. S. Eliot
R2: The Rice Review
Rice University's undergraduate literary magazine. Here you can find event updates, monthly writing contest winners, and opinions by the R2 staff on what's new, interesting, or subject to discussion in the literary and arts world.