Saturday, October 31, 2009

October Best

My best recommendation from October - 500 Days of Summer. I saw the movie, bought the soundtrack and will definately get the dvd when it comes out.

October came and went, and it was busy especially having a few days off here and there allows a recharge of batteries and leisurely time to attend movies and read a few books. Birthday month is always good. If only it was warmer, last year it was short pants and sandals and this year it is still merino jumpers and scarves. Roll on summer, if only ours was 500 days long.

2 Days in Paris

2 Days in Paris - Dvd (2007)

Julie Delphy and Adam Goldberg play partners who have been together for two years and are having a European holiday. On their way home they get to spend a couple of days in Paris, staying upstairs from her parents. Old friends and lovers are encountered and if you substituted
Ethan Hawke for Adam Goldberg, you could be back in the Before Sunset and Before Sunrise movies (both of which I love).

Julie Delphy is delightful and I smiled through most of the movie, with its easy banter and relaxed feel. I think though that this will be one the menfolk will HATE. So watch out, borrow it when the girlfriends pop over, or best yet with a glass of wine by yourself on a quiet evening at home. 3/5

Friday, October 30, 2009

Film Friday - Waiting is Hard

Everytime we go to the movies lately, they tease us with the Lovely Bones. Maybe because of Peter Jackson, I do really want to see it, but hate having to watch the trailers 6 months in advance.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Coroner - M. R. Hall

The Coroner - M. R. Hall (2009)

I'd spied this one in Borders ages ago, and waited a good six months for the book to turn up on their shelves. Did I miss anything waiting for it? Not really.

Standard fish out of water, Jenny is in the middle of a breakdown after her divorce, and so popping pills she takes on a new job as the local coroner. One of her first jobs is finding out how the death of a youth at the local care facility, and a girl who appears to have had a heroin overdose may be linked.

Really, I shouldn't have struggled on with so many pages I found myself skipping huge parts in order to finish. Such a shame, when the premise seemed so good and I had waited so long. 1/5


Renditon (2007)

Somewhere in the far reaches of my memory, I vaguely recollect seeing the ads for this one, but I guess in the midst of study panic, it got shelved and not thought about. The temptations of the Tuesday 1/2 price video night though pulled quietly to it, what is not to like? Peter Sarsgaard, Meryl Streep, Reese and Jake - ohhh aaah.

However it a serious subject for a drama, a CIA agent in a North African city is invited to the torture of an American citizen, who is being held on questionable charges. Meanwhile his heavily pregnant wife, Reese , (who looks about 19, even though she has 2 adorable children of her own) is trying to get answers from the government. Everyone is keeping secrets from each other, and I found it compelling to watch, and thought it well done. I don't really need any big build ups and let downs, I just want a drama to unfold, to tell me a story, and one that makes you go away and think about it for a little bit. So I'm going to say 4/5.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Duplicity (2009)

Well I can picture the producers rubbing their hands together, yes we have Clive Owen, and yes we have Julia Roberts, and a couple of character actors as back up, the 30+ girls will be flocking. Now if we just write a story, a little like Mr and Mrs Smith, but without the violence, add in some witty banter, let Clive take his shirt off a couple of times and we will have a winner.

Did I like it? - it all felt a bit fake and forced, and the two leads seemed to lack any chemistry, no sizzle. Also can I say, that both of them looked like they had been carb free for 4 months prior to shooting, which might slim you up, but is going to make you look a bit pinched and like you might faint at any minute. I'm gonna be tough and only give it a 2/5 for this dvd. Which is disapointing, I have got 5 to watch, and this was the first. Bring it on!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Music Monday - Winter Song + Angels Heap

There is a beautiful video for this wonderful, light, lovely gorgeous song sitting on youtube, but you are not allowed to embed it. At the moment it is on high rotation on my ipod, edging it way to the top 25.

I ended up watching this one over the weekend too, and it still sends shivers rolling down my spine. Neil and Tim Finn, we love you boys.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia (2009)

It feels mean that we had to wait sooo long to get this movie, which only opened this week in good old New Zealand. We had been teased with the trailer for months, and bloggers blogged about the joys of it, making me want to see it all the more.

Of course I had read the blog, and read the book, but the movie is the delight bringing it all to life. Julie Powell is a cubicle government office worker who in her spare time, fights stress by cooking. Deciding that she too can blog about a project, she chooses to tackle Julia Childs book Mastering French Cooking.

At the same time we follow Julia Childs story, of discovering how to cook in Paris and writing the cookbook. We also learn about her beautiful love story of the her and her husband Paul. Meryl Streep, plays Julia Child so well. The annoying voice which is shrill and loud, I thought was so well done, even if some of the audience couldn't get past it. They also did a fab job of portraying her as a solid 6foot 2, and I loved the hair.

Amusing too, to see a good story where the women are the main characters and the men play the love interests. Wonderful.

So break out the cookbooks and head off to see it. 4/5

The Rebel Princess - Judith Koll Healey

The Rebel Princess - Judith Koll Healey (2009)

It is a long time since I read Judith Koll Healeys debut novel, The Canterbury Papers but I remember enjoying it immensely. Princess Alais it he younger sister of the King of France, but is pledged to be the bride of Richard the Lionheart of England, however plans change when King Henry takes a fancy to his ward. Seven years after the action of the first book, we encounter the Princess again. This time she is living at the court of her brother, and awaiting the arrival of her fiance, William and his ward Francis.

There is trouble brewing however in Southern France, with the rise of the Cathars who the Pope wants crushed. After an abduction and disruption at court, the Princess and some trusted men travel south to try and discover what is going on.

As with many sequels, the first book is always the better of the two, and as it has been soo long maybe I am a bit jaded. Although a lovely writer, I did find myself a bit bored in the middle and wanted to skip pages to forge ahead. The history of the Cathars was nicely explained and I learnt some facts that made it more understandable to me. The book also manages to leave the story open to a third novel about the same characters, which I would still be interested in reading, just hoping that it doesn't take too long to write. 3/5

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Film Friday

Sigh, I am still reading my novel, and as it has been a busy week, I can't seeing it being finished til the weekend. The good news is that I have 9 days off work, and a tottering mountain of books threatening to spill off the bedside table and onto the floor.

Have a lovely weekend. Oh and go and see Bright Star when it comes out.

I am planning to see Julie and Julia at the weekend, I am soooo looking forward to it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Spare Room - Helen Garner

The Spare Room - Helen Garner (2008)

Helen, prepares her spare room for her friend Nicola to come and stay. Nicola has terminal cancer, and is coming to Melbourne for some alternative treatment. Knowing that her friend will need looking after Helen is gracious, compassionate and patient, and begins to realize that she is also scared and confused. Looking after Nicola is something she can't do alone, without support, and trying to get Nicola to accept help becomes increasingly difficult.

A bold and very straight novel, it is something that anyone who has cared for a relative or friend can relate to. It also made me think about how I would face such a fate. Working in the health field I hope that I would be gracious, and thoughtful to those around helping me, and that also I would seek to make my time as quietly and calmly as possible.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Independence of miss Mary Bennet - Colleen McCullough

The Independence of miss Mary Bennet - Colleen McCullough (2008)
Stumbling across this book in a local Borders, I restrained myself from buying it and went to the library website instead. Such restraint!!! To be honest though, I have only bought one book in the last 6 months, as there is such a glut of great books to be borrowed. Also they have got so expensive, that really I don't want to waste the money.
So miss Mary Bennet, is the lovely younger sister of Lizzie and Jane Bennet, who were the main characters of Pride and Prejudice. Set twenty years after the first book, Mary is finally relieved of her duties of looking after her mother, and has found some freedom as a free and single woman. Determined not to be trapped looking after more family members, she chooses instead to travel the North of England, researching the countries poor and looking at their living and working conditions.
I think Colleen McCullough is a fine author, but I thought she struggled a bit in the first few chapters. They didn't really flow for me, and I thought she must have struggled trying to introduce so much back story in a few pages. Once I got into it I very much enjoyed getting reacquainted with Elizabeth, Jane and Lydia Bennet, and finding out what happened with Mr Darcy (apparently even more pompous). Then I found the middle bits, where Mary falls into some troubles became a bit muddled and I skipped large portions in order to get back into the main story. For that I can only say that it I feel the book floats between a 2/5 and 3/5.
I see that there a few such follow up stories floating around at the moment, and it is interesting to read everyones spin on this 200 year old story. I wonder which version Miss Jane Austen would prefer?

Year of the Dog

Year of the Dog - dvd (2007)

Peggy is 40, and lives a quiet life with her dog Pencil. However, Pencil dies leaving a large hole in her life. Reaching out to try new things, Peggy readjusts her values, becomes a vegan, and involved with animal rights issues.

I picked this little dvd up from the library, and it was a nice surprise. With Molly Shannon, John C Reilly, and Peter Saarsgard I enjoyed it's little look at a little life. I am going to venture out and give it a 4/5. I liked that I didn't know where the movie was going, and how it was going to end. I much prefer this story of ordinary life, over any movie with car chases or guns.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Are you There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea

Are you There, Vodka? It's Me Chelsea - Chelsea Handler (2008)

I read somewhere that this was funny, so I picked it up and it was the right size to cart around in my handbag at the weekend while waiting for my friends. Some of it was funny, some bits made me chuckle out loud. I enjoyed the younger stories of living with her family and the chapter at the end about going on holidays with friends and her father. But, I always find it a bit sad when a girl is trying to act like a guy, retelling conquests and sexaul encounters and comes off as needy and slightly offensive. I guess she is a comedian, and she is really just retelling a series of long extended jokes.

Don't waste your money, get it from the library. 2/5

Saturday, October 10, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

I am so glad I went to see this movie. Most of all because it was warm inside, while it was brass monkeys outside. But more because I loved it - I'm giving it a 5/5 - go and see it.

  • I loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt - perfect boyfriend boy, not just a usual Hollywood pretty boy manboy.
  • Zoey Deschanel - well she is just adorable anywhere, anytime.
  • I love the soundtrack - I have gone on itunes and bought the tracks I didn't already have, and now have reloaded my the Smiths CD.
  • I love the story - didn't know where it was going, wasn't entirely predictable - but made me smile.
  • I love that the guys in the audience laughed as much as the girls.
  • I loved that it wasn't cheesy or smarmy. Yippee for smart funny movies.


Coraline (2009)

I read the graphic novel of Coraline some time ago, and I think I got a little confused. The movie, I think did a better job of telling the story and making it cute and scary at the same time.

Coraline and her parents move into the Pink Palace, a new home in the countryside. However Coraline finds that her parents are busy working and she struggles to get their attention. While exploring the house, she gets to meet an 'other mother' who tempts Coraline with all that she dreams of, she cooks and gives her time and presents. However this new dream family comes with conditions attatched. If Coraline decides to finally cross over, will she ever get back?

Great graphics, even though I knew the story I wasn't bored and enjoyed it. 3/5

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All - Christina Thompson

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All - Christina Thompson (2008)

During a holiday break from studying graduate studies in Australia, American student Christina Thompson takes a short holiday in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. While waiting for her bus, she heads to the local pub where she meets a local boy - Seven. Missing her bus, she heads home with him, falls in love, meets his family, and eventually persuades him to travel to Melbourne with her.

After marrying and having three sons together, Christina shares the story of their live together while looking at New Zealand history, discussing both Tasman and Cooks discovery of New Zealand and early colonial/Maori interactions.

I learnt a bit, and found it witty and smart. 3/5

Thursday, October 08, 2009

We Bought a Zoo - Benjamin Mee

We Bought a Zoo - Benjamin Mee (2008)

Sitting in the South of France with his wife and children, Benjamin Mee was sent a brochure by his sister advertising a run down zoo that was for sale in Dartmouth, Uk. So with his family on board, the Mee family bid for the zoo and animals.

Of course, being a journalist, it became an article, a tv series and a book. In the midst of trying to bring the zoo up to being able to take in its first paying visitors, Benjamin has to deal with his wife who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

I think it deserves a 3/5, for a solid read.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

In the Loop

In the Loop (2009)

English comedy, about a bit of a gormless politician who finds himself bullied by the prime ministers Director of Communications. Thrust into the world of Washington politics, he finds himself out of his depth.

A comedy very much in the style of The Office, it was a more amusing than laugh out loud funny and at moments very cringe worthy. The swearing was pretty awesome though, profanity that I would hope is not heard in many workplaces.

I don't know though if I would consider it worthy of the price of a movie ticket, and can only summon up a 2/5.

The September Issue

The September Issue (2009)

I really wanted to see this one at the film festival, but its time clashed with prebooked tickets, so luckily it was a cool day and I had the whole day off to go to the movies. Only 10 people shared the cinema with me, but I know that many of my friends and colleagues had already been to see it.

The September Issue, as I am sure all of you know is about primarily Anna Wintour, and the putting together of the biggest magazine of the year, for American Vogue. A documentry team follow the production of the magazine, and all the characters that help bring it together.

A part of me loves the flashiness and excitement of fashion, but in reality I wear jeans and flat shoes on my days off, and have given up on high heels and expensive clothes. I think spending over $150 for clothes is expensive, and will only spend that on shoes that I know I will wear and wear.

The vogue world, although beautiful and romantic, is purely an illusion, and the team are there to sell both the clothes and the dream. In reality, I would never buy an issue, but thumb through them at the hairdressers, while I am imprisioned in their chair. I really have so little in common with the 16 year old models in their $40,000 dresses and $2000 pairs of shoes, who look so unhappy - posing like they have scoliosis and kyphosis.

The funniest thing was that they took it all so seriously, and although Anna Wintour is highly regarded, I wonder if she will look back on her life and wish she had been a little more fun.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer (2005)

I finally got around to reading the book. Miss Belle (my niece) and I went to see the movie when it came out, and I bought the book at christmas, with one of my lovely vouchers. I never read it til, last week on holiday, I borrowed my nieces copy, as I had read my other two books.

I actually enjoyed the book, although the romance was a bit over the top soppy, I did enjoy Bella and Edwards getting to know each other, and was constantly having movie flashbacks.

The funniest thing while reading it, was on Saturday morning the local radio show uses Hamish and Andys Aussie show to fill in a few hours. The boys were talking about how they got made to watch the movies by their girlfriends, and that one of the boys knew a couple who had seperated because of Twilight. So radio callers called up to say that they had been dumped because they weren't as romantic as Edward Cullen, or in one case a girl who kicked her boyfriend out after seeing Titanic.

They also talked about there only being two camps: the ones who got into Twilight and the ones that don't. I enjoyed it, but aren't a super fan, but I am a few decades over 15 years old. What I couldn't figure out, was that if you were 17 for sixty years, why you would still want to stay at school?

A 3/5 for me, it was ok but I think I needed to be 20 years younger to really love it.