Monday, May 31, 2010

Oliver Twist - DVD

Oliver Twist - DVD (2005)

It wasn't til I started watching, that I realized I was getting Oliver Twist and Great Expectations muddled up, and that in fact I knew very little of the story. Alas, Dickens was not taught to us in school, and short of bad productions of A Christmas Carol, and several attempts at reading the novels, my experience of the great English novels is somewhat limited.

I loved the sumptuous griminess of this Victorian tale. An orphaned boy who is honest and kind and in the end is rewarded with love and a good life, after several mean and horrid adults treat him poorly. It is the kind of thing I would like to show to many of the spoilt and rude 10 year olds around the place, but know that it would be wasted on them, and they would not see how lucky they are.

All I can say is that I am glad to have lived in London in 1995, and not in 1850ish, in they type of accommodation on show. Roman Polanski, you did a good job - I truly believed in your muddy streets, run down hovels, rich mans house and twisted corridors and I shall reward you with a 4/5.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Single Man

A Single Man (2010)

Twas a wild day in the city, full of the rainiest rain we had had in a long time. I went and met several of my school friends, and their families. The men charcoaled the meat on the BBQ, under shelter of course while the women toiled making salads and breads, and the kids lounged about with the playstation. It was a lovely night, but because there were seven kids who needed to head to bed the evening finished early.

So a friend and I ventured to one of the little suburban movie theatres, where there are only 16 2 seater couches and watched A Single Man. Which was sweet, and beautiful, but I think over hyped. The story and visuals were good, the performances by Colin Firth, Julienne Moore and others were all spot on, it just felt all a bit vacant, with too many earnest speeches and black and white memories.

3/5 for this 1960s drama, and we loved all the lamps in the movie, but couldn't agree about living in the wood/window house.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Italian Wedding - Nicky Pellegrino

The Italian Wedding - Nicky Pellegrino (2009)

After all that thriller action, I felt I could do with something a bit girly without it being too chick lit. You know, how confessions of shopoholic falls on the bottom of the scale and Bridget Jones, the book not the movie falls at the top end. This one falls somewhat heading up towards the Bridget end. Meaning it was girly and romantic, without being over the top and the lead character was a smart girl, and not in love with her handsome (but dumb) boss/servant/carpenter etc...

Pieta is busy helping design wedding dresses for a famous London designer, but dreaming of making her own hip designs. Meanwhile, her sister is planning her wedding while getting frustrated working in their fathers restaurant. When MrMartennelli is forced to slow down, Pieta gets to spend time with her mother, and finds out how a quiet English girl travels to Rome and falls in love with their Italian father and where the feud between him and his former best friend got started.

This was an easy read, one that didn't tax the brain cells too much, but didn't insult them either. I particularly enjoyed the parents story and will be sure to seek out Nickys latest book. 4/5

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The First Rule - Robert Crais

The First Rule - Robert Crais (2010)

A lot of the thrillers I have read lately have been cracking disapointments, with bumbling plots and see through story lines. I picked up the latest Linda Fairstein last night, but couldn't get pulled in and abandoned it after 5 pages, which is a record as normally I will give it a good 50 or so.

Robert Crais, however rarely fails to deliver, his thrillers are fast paced, get to the point action packed books that remind me of the promise that Lee Child started with in his early novels, but fails to deliver in his latest offerings. This book is what Lee Child wanted to write when he grew up and what James Patterson can only dream of.

Joe Pike becomes involved with a series of brutal home invasions when the latest victim is a past retired mercenary colleague, his wife and two young sons. Ultimately set on revenging his death, Pike with the help of Elvis Cole delves into the world of the Serbian thugs who are involved in violent crime, extortion, gun running and prostitution.

Somehow, once I am involved in the story I always picture Bruce Willis with a scowl and a big gun playing Joe Pike. It is one of those books where you can see the movie playing in your head.

So it's a big winter 4/5 from me. Long dark nights tucked up in a warm bed are making me read more. I went to the library today to grab my latest stack, and I have been good and watched little tv, and ploughed my way through 180 pages of my latest book.

Thanks for dropping by!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Angelology - Danielle Trussoni

Angelology - Danielle Trussoni (2010)

It seems you have to be in the love it or hate it camp for this book. I flicked in to Amazon to see what year it was published, and the three reviewers were rather scathing and gave it a 1/5. Me - well I really enjoyed it, and feel it is definitely worth a 5/5. It has been a long time since I have been pleased to curl up in bed and read my book and carried it around in my bag in case I can steal 5 minutes to read it.

Evangaline is a nun who finds some letters between the late Mother superior of the convent and Abigail Rockerfeller, and they confirm the presence of angels in the world. But of course, someone else wants to find out the secrets of the Saint Rose Convent.

Weaving stories of the Nephilim, who are the children of angels and women, they are both on the hunt for mythological artefact's that have been hidden for thousands of years.

Certainly a tale in the similar vein of Dan Brown, I found the weaving of a modern thriller with the ancient tales and theological ideas interesting and it is a book that I will think about for some time.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Music Monday - The Cranberries

Lately I have been annoyed with the radio stations I usually listen to. They pump out the same song over and over, and even though I only usually have the radio on for about forty minutes, 3 mornings a week, it has become tedious and repetitive.

So, I have switched over to a classic hits station, and tonight while making the bed, I switched the radio on. This song came on. I LOVED the Cranberries, and their music was on the hit charts while I lived in London 1993-1995, so the songs got a thrashing. On one trip from London to Scotland, I must have made my friends play the cds over and over, at least forty times, and all while I was probably singing in the back seat. My friends, I am sorry. For my singing, and for not having a bigger cd collection.

So it has been a few years since I played my collection, but I think it is time to dust the covers off and relive my mispent twenties. Ohh, and I did manage to see them in concert, which I have a wee recollection of it being sunny and in the middle of the afternoon, and me singing along and then the cider memories take over, and it's all gone. Damn you strong UK cider.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bring on the happiness

So, you know that I read The Happiness Project , by last week. Well she contacted me , to guide me to her website and to thank me for reading. I feel honoured and touched that she took the time to do that.

This weekend I did many small things that touched upon making me happy. Some of them were:
  • Making a nice Sunday breakfast of a muffin and fresh juice. Putting them on my fave plates and tray and climbing back into bed, with a pile of magazines.
  • Making my bed on Saturday night, I put the music on loud and changed the linen to make it look like a bed in a nice magazine shoot.
  • Picking out my clothes the night before including underwear, just makes the morning go a bit smoother.
  • Cooking a nice Sunday nite dinner with lots of veg
  • Buying my fave vanilla candles, perfect for winter evenings

I hope you all did some things to make you happy, to make you smile.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Robin Hood

Robin Hood (2010)

Me, I have a soft spot for Russell Crowe, and giving him a decent haircut, plopping him in tights and boots and sticking him on a horse is all good. Also, he looks all stern and concerned, that just makes you love him more.

The movie was ok, but old lady me and my friends had a bit of difficulty in the cinema, as it was so LOUD!! I am sure my ears are still ringing 3 hours later. There was lots of violent boys fighty bits, which I sure the men folk won't mind seeing. The middle dragged a bit, and the pacing was a bit off, with lots of time spent on some bits, and then other parts seemed rushed and edited out.

Still it has to beat old blow dried Kevin Costner and his dancing forest people. And at least they found a man for a mans role, instead of dragging out a pretty boy young actor for the part. Us old girls, like a real man, even if it was just Gladiator in the forest.


Friday, May 14, 2010

So Much For That - Lionel Shriver

So Much For That - Lionel Shriver (2010)

I may be one of the few readers that was underwhelmed with her most famous novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin. I found it long winded and ending up skipping pages, which may not have helped me understand the story better.

I liked the premise of this one, and was quick to order it from the library. Shep has made a million dollars, and is in the process of decamping from his standard life and moving to a remote island where he calculates the money will let him live for the rest of his life. Just as he is about to leave, his wife gets diagnosed with a rare cancer, and the plans change.

That's the gist of the story. It wasn't a cheery read, it became a bit grim, but I did become astonished at the moral and ethical dilemmas posed. What if you didn't have a million bucks in the bank, how on earth would you afford health care? When is enough enough, when do you say I'm not getting any benefits from the treatment?

I liked the ending, I think she had a great idea for a beginning and an end to her story, but the middle just made me depressed. 3/5

Monday, May 10, 2010

Food, Inc - DVD

Food, Inc - DVD (2008)

I tried to entice all of my friends to come and see this one with me, but not being particular fans of the doco genre, it was always going to be a hard sell. I really did try to get to see this at the movies, but I was glad to have watched it on DVD on my couch.

It didn't put me off my dinner, mainly because I was eating a fresh kebab packed full of salad. I was a bit grossed out by the issues surrounding the mega production of meat. The chicken plants where chickens live their whole lives never touching the ground or seeing any sunlight. The cows who are raised not on grass, but in feeding lots , hobbling around in mud and poop. Shocking and somehow so immoral and wrong. I guess they got it right when they say that we have this image in our head of Farmer Brown on the farm in the green grass producing our food, when it is not even being close to the truth about food production.

Most New Zealanders are a bit shocked by folks that eat takeaways all the time and never cook fresh veg or eat fresh fruit. I think most of us here, eat our food made from scratch, with the old meat and fresh veg. Most of my friends grow their own vegetables, and try to buy ethically raised pork (free range and not crate) and chickens (free range also). However, that may be a luxury because we can afford it, but we also choose to vote with our wallets.

If you want to know more about where your food comes from, it is certainly an educational doco to watch. Maybe just do it a while after dinner. 3/5

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Road

The Road (2009)

Well in order to make my day happier, I got some loads of washing out in the sun and wind which is a good start. I traipsed into town, did a bit of browsing in the shops and bought a top on sale. Then a big fruit Tropical smoothie from the juice bar (my fave tipple), and then went to see The Road.

Not the cheeriest of movies, and in fact there was only me and one fellow in the whole cinema, but it was 4.10pm on a Friday. I'd tried to invite friends, but they all declined to see this movie, so I knew I would have to face it alone.

If you have read the book you know the story. Basically the world has surcumbed to some large disaster, and a man and his son are trying to follow the road to the south.

The book, well was disturbing and left me a bit shaken after I read it. It is really one of those, what would I do if I was in that position stories. Not everyones cup of tea for sure, but it is nice to be emotionally challenged when reading and at the cinema, and is a change from some of the silly 12 year old boy written stories that seem to plague our big screens.

So the movie, well I thought they did a great job of capturing the abandoned world and it's greyness and despair without a huge dialogue. You get to see Viggos butt a couple of times, but seen he looks like a homeless dude and you know how he must smell in those clothes, it is not really a thing of beauty. I enjoyed it, but wouldn't play it for family night. 4/5

So the other things I did to make me happy, was I bought a big 16 pack of toilet paper, as I have an unnatural fear of big disasters occuring , running out and having to use leaves or books to tidy up down there. I bought tons of snacks and fruit for the weekend of working. When I changed the linen on the bed, I put the ipod on real loud and danced around the bedroom to Simple Minds and then Eddie Vedder. I then lit the candles and had a nice dinner, and now as it is late, I am off to bed with my new book.

I guess it is all about finding joy in the small things, taking moments to appreciate each day and the pleasure of being able to afford and enjoy the choices we have.

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin (2009)

Gretchen Rubin decides to spend a year devoted to making her life happier. After a revelation on a bus, she faces happiness in all aspects of life, in regards to her children, family, husband, work and how happiness affects her. Many of them are only small changes, like deciding to be herself - to like what she likes and not be influenced by others.

A few things I can see that would be good to apply to my own life and a few things I have already found out on my own. About 8 years ago, I decided that I didn't really like drinking, that wine gave me a headache and made me feel sick, and that often I was peer pressured into it, when I would really just feel like an orange juice. So I stopped, and would just say no, which was difficult. I still do drink, occasionally, and only when I really feel like it. Last Friday, I had two Pineapple Cosmopolitans which were heaven, and then two more cocktails on Saturday. I think though all in all, I have only had about 10 drinks in the last 18 months.

I also would sit through the whole hours news broadcast, including the sports which I guess was habit. When I bought my dvr a few years ago, I changed my habits by recording the news every night, and now I just watch the first 10 minutes or so to see what has happened in the world. I don't watch any sports, headlines or otherwise, which has freed up time.

I'm going to do some stuff at the weekend like put a song on the ipod and dance around, it may just be in my living room. Even though I am working I can find 3 minutes to do this. I will get up at 7 to allow myself a shower, and to have a nice breakfast so I don't feel rushed, and I am off to day to stock the fridge with some quick easy meals so I don't feel harassed. I am also going to stock up on my favorite vanilla candles. I like to light them at night, especially in winter and leave the house smelling great.

I wasn't blown away by the book, but it did give me some small insights, which I could apply to my own days. Especially when in the winter, as the weather gets cooler and every day is the same, I can feel that I am just plodding through life.

A sturdy 3/5

Thursday, May 06, 2010

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper - DVD (2009)

I read the Jodi Picoult book that this book was written from, some time ago. She is one of my favorite authors, her style is easy and she writes intelligent female fiction that usually weave in interesting current ethical issues.

Anna Fitzgerald is 11, and she goes to see a lawyer because she wants medical emancipation from her parents. Born to be a genetic match for her older sister Kate, Anna wants to be able to make her own decisions and choose whether she wants to donate cells or a kidney to her sick older sister.

I didn't really expect to like the movie, but I was entranced by it and thought it was a good interpretation of the story. It portrayed the characters with dignity. love and humour that I never expected, and seldom see played out in many Hollywood movies.

Kate who has cancer was played by Sofia Vassilieva, who normally plays Ariel on Medium and I thought she was awesome. Now Miss Diaz, well her character could do with a good slapping at several stages throughout the movie (oh and a good sandwich too).

Abigail Breslin, well she did a good preteen job of being a normal looking and acting kid.

So grab a tissue, and a girlfriend, and sit on the couch and watch on a cold winters evening. It's a hanky loving 4/5 from me!!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

39 Steps

39 Steps - DVD (2008)
This is a BBC remake of an Alfred Hitchcock classic movie. Moved to 1914 as the English are about to enter the war, a bored English secret service agent becomes involved in a plot to bring the Germans close to war.
A little bit dry to begin with, the movie got better midway through which was helped by the lovely Scottish scenery and the equally beautiful Rupert Penry-Jones. He plays a good hero, and I like that his character and the leading lady seemed to actually have some chemistry and looked like they liked each other.
A solid 3/5 - a good Sunday winter afternoon DVD.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

My Source

I got asked where I get all my books from. Well I have to say that mostly the fabulous Wellington Library is my supplier. I have bought only about 4 books this year, 2 from Trademe and 2 from the bookshop. I just find that I don't reread books and my bookshelves are jammed full already. I can't resist Jodi Picoult, Lee Child and the Twilight books.

I do have a plan though. Usually once a month or so, when I am in town. I visit Borders with a piece of paper and pen, and when I find books that I might like to read, I write down the title and author and reserve them at the library. A few years ago a paperback was $20, but now the new releases are released large size and priced between $25-40 which is getting a bit crazy.

I am finding a similar problem with going to the movies at the moment. $17 is getting a bit pricey, especially with 2-4 friends going, we could actually buy a couple of dvds for that price. Also, as the weather has been so nice, I have felt guilty spending a few hours in the cinema when the sun is shining and warm outside. But soon that will all change, with winter chills on their way.

Of course if I won the Lotto, I would buy a large house and fill it to the brim with lovely bookshelves and spend the days lying in the sun on Caribbean beaches reading - Bliss!!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Music Monday - Amy Winehouse

I still LOVE this song, although it must be a good advertisement for what drugs can do to a girl. You know, like a before shot of healthy looking Amy, before she blows all her money and talent on toxic powders.

Anyways, it has been blasting out through the ipod this weekend.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


Good - DVD (2008)

Oh my gosh, this was soooo not good. In any way. I found the whole jumble a bit false and pretentious, poorly written, acted and directed. I guess the point of it was to show how a normal man, with good intentions ends up being sucked in and how everything can change in your life.

Viggo Mortenson plays John Halder, a German literature professor who finds himself becoming involved with the Nazi Party. He also has to deal with an aging mother, a new wife and a best friend who is Jewish. Trying to help everybody out makes him confront his beliefs and leads him on a new path.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas did a better job of explaining a similar type story. So I am sorry, Viggo and all - it has to be a 0/5 from me. I'd rather sit through 6 hours of mind numbing golf or snooker on TV, than watch this one again.

Mistress of Rome - Kate Quinn

Mistress of Rome - Kate Quinn (2010)

Sometimes a work of historical fiction sucks you into the time period, so much that the characters and their stories feel real and you can picture them moving about in their world. Kate Quinn does a wonderful job of telling the story of Thea, a Jewess who finds herself a slave girl to the deplorable Lepida. Her fortunes rise and fall, as she becomes a prostitute, then a singer who catches the eye of an Emperor.

Rome came alive for me, and it has been a long time since I have looked forward to bedtime by curling up under the warm duvet and reading some more pages. For that it may have to be a 5/5 as I would be happy to recommend this book to everybody - rush out and buy it.

Apparently Kate Quinn wrote this in four months, and is going to write a sequel and a prequel - so I will be hanging out for them to arrive in the bookstore.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Is it a Potato?

Amazing. I loved the UK version, but the US version looks even better.