Thursday, June 26, 2008

Second Hand Wedding

Second Hand Wedding (2008)

A little bit of kiwiana that I am sure won't make big waves anywhere else, but everyone local enjoyed this movie as it seemed filled with those characters we all know. Mum and her best friend race around to all the local garage sales to chase a bargin. When daughter gets engaged she delays telling her mum, as she is scared she will end up with a take over of the wedding plans. Dad of course, is off tinkering in the shed.

You know it all works out in the end, but the fun is in getting there. 3/5

Double Bind - Chris Bohjalian

Double Bind - Chris Bohjalian (2007)

This is one of those books that I kept running into at the local bookstores. The vast increase in price of paperbacks has mean that I rarely buy a book, preferring to write down the details and request is from one of the local libraries. They usually do a good job, and I managed to get this relatively new book within a week of requesting it. Having an on-line catalogue and request system is awesome too.

The premise of this book was enticing. Laurel, a twenty something social worker, works for a charity helping homeless people. When one of the elderly men she has helped dies, a box of photographs are found with his belongings. Looking through these, Laurel discovers many photos of her childhood neighbourhood, photos of Jay Gatsy and most curious of all a photo of what could have been Laurel taken years earlier when she suffered an assualt by unknown attackers.

I felt the middle of the book dragged a bit, but it came together at the end and some things were explained and a twist in the tale enabled you to look at the story differently. Although an interesting start I felt it didn't reach the power of his earlier novels, Midwives and A Law of Similars. Still he is always an enjoyable author. A 3/5 from me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Into the Wild

Into the Wild - dvd (2007)
I read the book a couple of months ago and was drawn into the tale of a college boy, Chris McCandless, who after college hits the road, donates all of his money, abandons his car and lives a life without anything to hold him down. His ultimate dream is to reach Alaska and live in the wild, subsisting by eating local plants and fruit and wildlife. Taking only one bag of rice and a gun he sets out on a deserted trail, without maps, gps or any radio.

Played by Emile Hirsch, this dvd was fantastically done, and I think did the greatest job is showing how Chris affected the lives of all those he met and knew, yet he seemed to hold back his own emotions. I felt it played like a poem for the wilderness and for that part of all of us, that would all like to run away and have adventures.

To top off this visual feast, the soundtrack is performed by Eddie Vedder, whose voice fits pefectly with the rolling vistas.

Bravo, Mr Sean Penn, it was worth the ten year wait to get this movie done. You deserve a 5/5.

The Witch's Trinity - Erika Mailman

The Witch's Trinity - Erika Mailman (2007)
It was the first time I was drawn into a book for some time, and again the bedside light went off a few minutes later that usual (late nights at work haven't helped the beauty sleep either).

Set in Germany in the 16th centuary, life was tough for all as the plague was still raveging towns and villages, and a famine was affecting most causing great hardships. Gude lives in a small village with her son, daughter in-law and two grandchildren. After seeing one of her closest friends accused of being a witch, Gude knows that her secrets may slip out and she will be in danger herself.

I felt the characters cold and hunger so much that I must admit to using up all of my leftover vegetables and making a chilli this week, thinking of them cold and suffering from hunger in their small wooden shacks. How did people keep warm then and how bad must they have smelt?

A gripping 4/5 for me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nothing to Lose - Lee Child

Nothing to Lose - Lee Child (2008)
Now over the past few years Lee Child has remained one of my fave authors. His stories of Reacher, a ex military MP who wanders around the US, finding himself outsmarting all kinds of nasty folk .

I struggled with this one, I felt like the main character, finding myself retracing the same steps over and over again. It seemed like a town that Reacher may have been in before and the stereotyped baddy that has been in many a book or movie lately. Sorry buddy, it seems you and your stories are getting tired and you both seem to have lost your mojo. Just a poorly 1/5 from me.

Sex and the City

Sex and the City - (2008)

I guess I may have expected great things from this movie, and to be honest I think if they had put the four main characters in paper sacks and had them in a room wallpapering for 2 hours, it still would have been fun.

I was distracted though by the clothes, I felt they wore the girls and didn't seem like things anybody would choose, the strange Mexico clothes, the puffy crazy auntie duvet jackets, the acid colours and the hideous designer hand bags (I would have cried being given that horrendous LV monstrosity). The main distractions were Mirandas strange dangly earrings, the crazy walk in the park outfit (white long boots, fluoro green sweatshirt that AHA lost in 1989 with matching turquoise jacket). Carries green bird in her hair and hideous lippie for the dream wedding scene, puke. She also looked swamped in Mexico in big caftans designed for someone a foot taller and possibly 15 years older. I failed to see her look particularly hip. Samantha I thought looked awesome, but was a bit distracted by all of the shoulder pads. Charlotte, so demure and classy looked like a big cushion in the hideous polka dot maternity ensemble, oh my gosh what a crime making her look frumpy instead of fantastic.

How I missed those ladies though. I think the series (up til series six) was the most intelligent and funny show that has graced our airwaves. No matter what the outfits looked like, no matter how studly the men, it was always the girls and their friendship that outshone everything else.

I'm going to have to say it was a 3/5 for me. I'll still watch it again someday though.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace (2006)

Amazing Grace tells the true story of politician William Wilberforce, who spent 15 years trying and succeeding in getting the English Government to abolish slavery. Told with a cast of fabulous British cast, Ioan Gruffardd, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon and many more who make the story come alive. I did daydream a bit, in some parts of the movie because I was so distracted by their beautiful clothes. Why did men stop dressing like this? I am sure in the real 1790s, they didn't wash very much and probably smelt really bad - but they sure looked great in their leggings and fantastic jackets (they could ditch the smelly wigs).

This great story is bought alive though by the superb casting. It would almost be worth just listening to, turning the picture off and letting all those lovely accents just tell the story. I also LOVE the fact that the UK film and television industry uses actors of all ages, one without botox and old men and women can look their age and look great. I have become turned off by the CSI franchise, Desperate Housewives and many other Hollywood produced TV, which only use actors who look like models. You know the villains are truly bad if they are fat, wear glasses or worst of all look normal!

I'm going to give it a hefty 4/5. Definitely worth watching on a quiet night with a glass of sherry or port (neither of which I drink - but they seem appropriate).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Shakespeare - Bill Bryon

Shakespeare - Bill Bryson (2007)

I really really wanted to like this book. I've read other Bill Brysons, well maybe all of them over the years. I was awestruck by his guide to everything in the world, how much work must it have been to reseach that book? I then saw him interviewed on tv, and although he is of modest looks, he seems to be a man who is interested in all around him, has a sharp sense of humour and has a certain charisma.

I guess in finding out facts about Shakespeare, Bill Bryson has found out that there aren't many known facts about him. Four or so known signatures, not one original copy of a play or letter written by him, he might be a catholic (or not), the only known portraits of the man may or may not actually have been done when he was alive, he may have gone to Italy and he may or may not be the author of all that homework we had to struggle through at school.

Still Hamlet and King Lear remain with me even though it is 20 years, or so since I read them in high school. I loved that I was able to be mesmirised by Ralph Fiennes playing Hamlet, in London in 1995 (cheapest seats in the house but we could only see one third of the stage, and the top of their head - still worth it!).

A brief read with a small score. Just a 2/5 for me.

A 5/5 though for this blog. It is called I read too much, and if you click here you can go and visit : Taryn is Canadian, and seems to share a similar taste in books, with three of my this years reads on her first page.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Devil's Bones - Jefferson Bass

The Devil's Bones - Jefferson Bass (2008)

The good Dr Brockton returns, this time looking into some burning bones, and cremains returned to him to investigate by a close relative.

I liked the content of this novel much better than his first book, and I think better than the second. The only downside I felt was the return of the evil doctor who had escaped from prison. It felt like such a silly cliche, and a real silly twist that usually is dreamed up by hollywood scriptwriters.

Oh well, I guess we have to wait until 2009 to read the next one. 3/5 from me.

Carved in Bone - Jefferson Bass

Carved in Bone - Jefferson Bass (2006)

This is the first novel by the team that writes as Jefferson Bass. Setting up the tales of Dr Bill Brockton, the fictional head of the Body Farm, the place where bodies are studied as they decompose under differing conditions.

I enjoy the writing, they manage to infuse a bit of humour, reminding me of Nelson De Milles style, but I found the hillbilly cops gone bad a bit predictable and boring.

Only a 2/5 from me.