Life: B (See my review)
Ghost in the Shell: C. I never read the manga or saw the anime, so I did not fly into a rage over this live action adaptation by Rupert Sanders. But even I could see that casting Scarlett Johansson (so effective as a post-human character elsewhere) as a Japanese woman, even if her consciousness was occupying a synthetic body, was odd. She only speaks English to her boss, Takeshi Kitano, who only speaks to her in Japanese, and no one points out the strangeness. Maybe if the setting had not been Tokyo of the near-future. The production design is beautiful, even if the writing chews over philosophical problems tackled in greater depth in Blade Runner and elsewhere.
To Walk Invisible: B. How did three young women who lived in isolation in the middle of nowhere produce Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and other spellbinding classics of Victorian literature? The Brontes are an argument for the shut-in life. This film by Sally Wainright, creator of the excellent British series Happy Valley, opens with little Charlotte, Emily and Anne creating imaginary worlds with their brother Branwell. Branwell, the only boy, was believed to be a genius. The family expected him to be a great writer and artist, but he was weak, became addicted to alcohol and opium, and often brought shame to the family. On the other hand, his dramas and afflictions shook up the quiet household and may have unleashed something in his three sisters. A fascinating study of a literary family, even if the ending makes it look like an ad for the Bronte Parsonage Museum.
Books: The Idiot by Elif Batuman and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Both abandoned at the halfway mark because while I admired their intelligence and craft, Batuman’s explorations of language and Saunders’s relentless wit, I was in the mood for a traditional narrative in which I root for the protagonist and something happens. Maybe when the weather isn’t so hot, humid and friendly to mucus.