By Keeli Parkey
After too many months away from this column, I am happy to welcome back my readers and friends.
I don’t know about you, but 2015 was a year of great gladness, great sadness and everything in between. Here is my much delayed look back at the year that was. The highlight of the year was the birth of my niece, Callie. My sister, Kari, and her husband, Sammy Humston, welcomed this little bundle of joy on July 13.
I cannot express just how much I love my niece. I also cannot express how much it means to me that Kari and Sammy gave Callie my middle name. What an honor!
Callie continues to grow into a healthy and happy baby. Even though I know she is too young to learn it, I have already started her nerd education. Small Star Wars plush toys have been purchased, as have a Doctor Who onesie and bib.
I am anxious to see what the future holds for this precious baby. And I can’t wait to share my nerdiness with her. It’s going to be so much fun.
Last year was a great year to be a nerd as several films, television shows, books and other media allowed me to embrace my “nerd love” to my heart’s content.
The most obvious of these offerings was the triumphant return of the Star Wars franchise with the seventh installment, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” coming to theaters in December. I’m sure you aren’t shocked to know that Michael and I watched the film the night it opened. And, of course, I was wearing a Star Wars T-shirt.
In the days leading up to the premiere, I kept my excitement in check. Having been left beyond disappointed by the three prequels (“The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones,” and “Revenge of the Sith”) which hit theaters between 1999 and 2005, I knew it was all too possible that one of my favorite movie franchises might not return to its former glory.
Fortunately for me, and millions of other fans, “The Force Awakens” did not disappoint. It truly was a wonderful moviegoing experience – both times I saw it in theaters. The film returned the franchise to the exciting and fun storytelling that defined the original trilogy and moved away from the burdensome scripts and plot that weighed down the prequels. “The Force Awakens” redefined the franchise in many ways, but it also honored the first three films. It was a perfect combination of the old and the new.
As much as I loved “The Force Awakens,” I wouldn’t say it was my favorite movie of 2015. There are still several films released last year (“Room,” “Spotlight,” “The Martian,” and “The Revenant,” for example) that I have yet to see. But, of the ones I did see, “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Carol” stand out in my mind. Which, if you have seen both of these films you will know, is a very schizophrenic thing to say because they couldn’t be more different.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is the fourth installment of the “Mad Max” series, the original of which starred Mel Gibson. I have previously reviewed this film in an earlier column, so I won’t get into it now. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. The action starts early and doesn’t let up.
Now, onto “Carol,” one of the most beautifully styled films I have seen in a very long time. Directed by Todd Haynes, it tells the story of two women, played perfectly by the great Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, who fall in love in 1950s New York.
Haynes is a wonderful director and should have been nominated for an Oscar. His film about Bob Dylan, “I’m Not There,” is definitely worth watching, as is “Carol,” which is based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, “The Price of Salt.” If you have seen “Carol,” make sure you go to YouTube and watch the parody of the film, starring Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon, from the Film Independent Spirit Awards. It will be the funniest thing you see all day.
Moving on from films, 2015 was a great year for books. One of the releases that garnered the most attention was Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” a sequel to her classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
I did not read any reviews of the book before I read it. I had heard rumblings about the portrayal of Atticus in “Watchman” and I wanted to go into the book without any preconceived ideas about the story. I suggest you read it.
In the wake of Lee’s recent death, I am reading “Mockingbird” again and plan to follow that with “Watchman.”
Last year, I also discovered the “Miss Peregrine’s” series by Ransom Riggs. The first of the series, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” debuted in 2011; the second “Hollow City” was released in 2014; and the finale, “The Library of Souls,” was released in 2015. I highly recommend this series, even though it is written for young adults.
The books follow a teenager named Jacob after his grandfather’s death. He travels to Wales to learn about his grandfather’s mystery past. While there, he discovers an abandoned orphanage for “peculiar children” where his grandfather lived for a time. A mixture of unique photos are scattered throughout the texts and help move the story along.
Looking ahead, the film based on the first book is scheduled to be released this fall. I am also looking forward to the “Ghostbusters” reboot, “Suicide Squad,” “Snowden,” “Star Trek Beyond,” and “The Girl on the Train,” just to name a few.
Until next time, have a great week, whether you’re a nerd or not.
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