Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil (2006)
Originally on limited release in 2006, The Painted Veil has only just made it to movie theatres in NZ after it's re release recently. Certainly a beautiful film, set in China in the 1920's it looked sensational. I thought it had been filmed somewhere in Asia other than China, but did a quick check on Wikipedia to find out it was filmed in the Lijiang River in Guilin.

Naomi Watts plays Kitty who escapes family life with her parents by marrying Walter, a bacteriologist (Edward Norton), who takes them to China as part of his work. Arriving during a Cholera epidemic, both are forced to face the state of their marriage and question their love for each other. I enjoyed their portrayal of stiff upper lip, but was a bit distracted by their accents at the beginning of the movie. As it progressed, they seemed to relax into their plummy accents and were more believable.

Certainly a slow quiet nights watch I am going to give it a thumbs up and a 3/5.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Change of Heart - Jodi Picoult

Change of Heart - Jodi Picoult (2008)
Jodi Picoult is one of those authors, who I rush to read here newest book. There aren't many authors who cut the mustard, but she continues to put out a quality read with characters who are more than two dimensional, and it must be said this one even managed to bring a tear to my eye. I also appreciate that there is always a twist in the tale, and it is often not until the very end that you become aware of it.

I am less enamoured with the courtroom drama law stuff, maybe it is because of the deluge of law related television shows, but I want to just find out about the characters themselves. In this novel, Shay Bourne is convicted for the murder of a policeman and his young stepdaughter and is convicted to die by lethal injection. Over a decade down the track, the widowed mothers youngest daughter is in need of a heart transplant, and the killer offers his as a donor heart.

A bit difficult to start with and I struggled a bit with all the changes of perspective, as many different characters took on each small chapter by the end I was staying up late to finish this book and enjoyed the moral and ethical questions it raised.

Jodi is travelling to NZ and to Wellington for an authors talk in the next few weeks. Hosted by the main library her talk has sold out straight away and her books constantly top our bestseller lists. Jodi, I will give you a solid 4/5

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Life In His Hands - Susan Wyndham

Life in His Hands - Susan Wyndham (2008)

This non fiction story is the tale of two men, Aaron McMilan, a talented pianist who at twenty four years was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour, and Charlie Teo an Australian neurosurgeon who took on his case and operated.

Dr Teo has been both celebrated and berated in the Australian press for courting publicity and taking on the most difficult cases, which other neurosurgeons may decide are hopeless or inoperable. I thought Susan Wyndam, and Australian journalist who spent a lot of time with both men did a good job of telling their stories.

We should celebrate and learn more about our regular heroes. I can't believe how much rubbish about d grade celebrities fill our news.

As you can see, it was only a two day read as I enjoyed it so much and the cold nights are perfect for snuggling into comfy pillows to read. 4/5 for this book.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Ninth Stone - Kylie Fitzpatrick

The Ninth Stone - Kylie Fitzpatrick (2007)

Sarah and her sister are orphans growing up in London in 1864. Dressing as a boy to gain a job at a newspaper, Sarah befriends Lily a wealthy widow with a tale of precious diamonds brought from India to create a powerful jewel. However murders follow the diamonds path and Sarah searches for clues to the killers.

I liked this smart story, the characters were likeable and the tale not too long and drawn out. A good glimpse of a time where change was swirling all around and altering the empire and the role of women. A worthy 3/5.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What happens in Vegas

What Happens in Vegas - (2008)
Well the title really says it all. Ashton and Camerons characters meet up in Vegas after both going there separately to escape their lives in New York. A few drinks, a few bets , a wedding chapel and then of course some explaining to to.

Needless to say it is predictable and a little bit cute. Oh my gosh though, Miss Demi we know you are a lucky lucky lady. Cameron you sure have a cute ass but you are a crazy colour at the beginning of the movie and look like you have spent too much time at the gym. By the end of the movie you are looking slightly normal again, a paler shade of you.

Anyway you can pretty much guess what you are in for by watching the shorts - it only rates a 2/5 as it beats watching Saturday night tv.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Flesh and Bone - Jefferson Bass

Flesh and Bone - Jefferson Bass (2007)
I feel like a sad crazy person for expressing my love for a good plague novel. I must say that I love a thriller much much more, but lately I have felt a bit burnt by them. I mean Patricia Cornmwell was great at the beginning, and then went crazy and seemed to be on too much vodka. She rambled and kept the unrequited love thing going longer than Rachel and Ross. Kathy Reichs, I liked you too, but you seemed to lose momentum, and I felt cheated after watching Bones on tv. First I hated it, but now I have started watching again if only because it beats watching the Desperate Barbie Housewives (please sit on those ladies and make them eat some bread).

Tess Gerritsen, you did ok for a while but I feel your candle is burning out too. So hello Jefferson Bass, a team of two men, one of whom is the real doctor from the Body Farm, the place where they watch the bodies decay. I'm not just in it for the gore, no sirree - they added a touch of humour, they write with a little social commentry added in to keep it current and I like that they express their nerdy side by sounding smart. Sort of like a Nelson DeMille or Lee Child, just with a few more bodies. Thanks also for not heading to the courtroom and adding a boring extra hundred pages on.

I'm not going to really tell you about the story - there are bodies, murders, love interests and it all kept me up reading late a couple of nights. That hasn't happened in a while.

So I'm going to give you a 4/5 and I'm off to reserve the other two books you wrote from the library.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Lars and the Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Seeing as I couldn't convince any friends to go with me, I had to go to the movies alone. I don't mind as long as the movie starts before 5pm. Lucky it showed in the cinema that has comfy couches and the two other patrons (middle aged ladies who lunch together) didn't mind that I ate my reuben bagel and drank my strawberry crush.

Awww this movie was one that mad me secretly smile. No real laughs or chuckles but it did make me smile most of the way through. Lars is a lonely loner, avoiding contact with people and any sort of social experience. Hiding away from his brother and his sister-in-law who attempts to reach out to him, Lars only comes out of his shell when he buys himself a girlfriend off the Internet. Yes, his girl is made of rubber and anatomically correct (in the movie she has clothes on at all times!!).

Lars then begins to connect with friends and work colleagues, and this odd relationship allows him to grow and become more confident. The community eventually come to accept and embrace this unusual relationship. I loved that all the characters were real without fake boobs and teeth and that the wardrobe department obviously searched through thrift stores for some classic outfits.

I am going to say it deserves a 4/5 . Thank you ladies who lunch for not making me feel like a loner at the movies!

Company of Liars - Karen Matiland

Company of Liars - Karen Maitland (2008)
I was sucked in by the added title on the cover - you know the bit, where it says "a novel of the plague". I love me a good plague novel, but this book skirted around it, nobody got boils or died with blackened tongues. Instead a group of misfits, thrown together travels around England at the time of the plague, searching for work, pay and food.

Through this long novel (552 pages) we discover that each of the characters is hiding a lie, deceiving each other and not telling all the truth. A wee girl with the power of reading the runes and conjuring spirits is able to discover each secret by the tales end.

Usually I likes a good historical novel, but I am not convinced this is one. Oh well, that is what happens when you are sucked in by the cover at Borders. At least the library was pretty good at having this one on the shelves soon after release. A timid 2/5.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

My Best Enemy

My Best Enemy (2005)
At a small holiday resort town, there was only one movie theatre. We chose to see this out of a list of four, including Horton Hears a Who, and other school holiday options. The nice thing was to be the youngest in the audience (there were only 11 people at the session that we went to). The worst thing was that the 17 year olds that were running the movie theatre that weekend, couldn't keep the movie in focus so I had to run up and down the stairs 5 times to ask them to go and check in the projection room and adjust the shot. My Italian isn't very good, so the subtitles were very necessary.

A romp about a young man who thinks that his mother has been fired unjustly, and he decides to destroy the evil bosses life. Of course things don't go as smoothly as planned.

It was a bit long, and although the two main characters were likeable, everyone else seemed to be a stereotype of the foxy mistress, the slighted wife, the hopeless mother and the lovesick daughter. Silliest of all was the forty year old rockstar boyfriend from London who had the oddest accent, and only appeared for about two minutes on screen.

Sorry Italian movie, I can only muster a 1/5 for you.

Me and Mr Darcy

Me and Mr Darcy - Alexandra Potter (2007)
I took this in my bag as a light holiday read. Amusing and fluffy I still managed a few sniggers. Emily works in a New York bookstore, and instead of traveling to a beach with her best friend over the Christmas break, she takes off to the UK to do a bus tour discovering the haunts of Jane Austen, and Mr Darcy.

Although the ending is not really a surprise, I liked this little book, and it was perfect to curl up and read by the fire after a hard days activities. 2.5/5 from me.