Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton

This is the story of Nella Oortman, who after her fathers death is married to an older merchant from Amsterdam, after meeting him once.  Sent to live in his house, she finds it strange and isolating with his sister and servants whispering in corridors and behind closed doors.  In 17th-century Amsterdam, Nella finds herself without many freedoms, but after receiving the gift of a miniature version of their home she begins to feel change begin to happen around her.

I really enjoyed this little book, for me the right amount of balance of historical fiction with a touch of magic and realistic characters that I can picture in a movie.  Surely there will be a movie?  I couldn't wait to finish my lunch, so that I could read for ten minutes before going back for lunch, or diving into bed on a cold night, to stay warm and read.  5/5

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Yves Saint Laurent

So this was the last movie of the Film Festival that I got to go to and it was an improvement on the earlier one of the day.  Telling the story of Yves Saint Laurent, from his early days at Dior through to the seventies, it was  a look at not only his fashion side, but his vulnerable moments and breakdowns.  I did wonder what the post school girls who attended thought of the movie, as it was not only centred on his fashion designs but also on his relationship with his long term partner and other men.

Still we enjoyed seeing the dresses and the music, and it was an interesting little film.  The absolute wealth of some of these designers is staggering - the huge country houses, the antiques, the parties.


The Wonders

Oh Cannes Film Festival, we think you must be drinking too much wine when you award some of these films.  The review in the film festival book made this sound like it was a sweet coming of age story about a girl and her sisters in a rural Italian farm.  I said to my friend that I didn't know much about this film, and I had to apologise for suggesting it.

The main character Gelsomina was sweet, and on the cusp of becoming a woman, and I get that the film was trying to capture that, the awkward time between being treated like a child, but being expected to be a woman working on the family farm, left in charge a lot of the time.  There just didn't seem to be any delight in the movie, no magic moments, no real fun and that left it boring and flat for me.  I didn't see the charm in the dirty muddy backdrop although the rural farmhouse done up could be awesome.  The parents were horrid, with the mother and father spending most of their time arguing.  The crazy television show plonked in the middle of the story just seemed stupid and cheezy and I really didn't get it.

So just a lowly 1/5 - and that is only because the combination of a warm movie theatre on a cold day just after eating brunch, and the gentle Italian accents caused me to sleep through some of the movie.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Still Life

Oh for me you can forget the big blockbusters and the crazy car chases, it is sometimes the quiet little films that echo and you remember.  This one was a sweet little gem that I am glad I went to on a quiet morning.  John May works alone in a little office, tracking down family members that die alone in a London Borough.  When no one is found, he arranges quiet funerals where he may be the only one in attendance giving them a solo send off, but with respect as he has written the eulogy for the vicar and selected some music that he thinks they would have liked.

In tracing his latest clients background, he comes across a group of family members that are about to change his life too.

I am sure I wasn't the only one who wiped away a tear at the end of this little movie, I was just glad to be sitting on a side aisle by myself.  Very sweet.   4/5

I Forgot to Remember - Su Meck

This is the story of Su Meck, a 22 year old married mother of two children who has an accident one day - hitting her head on a ceiling fan.  This head injury leaves her in hospital, with no recollection of what happened, her memory gone and her new short term memory affected as well.  It was an interesting book to read,the poor woman just was left to fumble her way along with little or no support.  It was shocking that her two young boys were often left in charge, and I was more surprised that she was allowed to drive anywhere when she had both memory problems and seemed to be having blackouts on a regular basis. She was so lucky that there were no major incidents where anyone was harmed.

You think about the learning to walk and read again, but I hadn't realised that people would struggle within their relationships, that they might have to learn to date their spouse again, or relearn how to kiss or have sex - all skills they may not remember.

Still with the support of her family and a considerate college, Su was able to go from not knowing how to read or write to getting her masters degree from college a few years later.   You have to admire her journey, when many might have given up.  3/5

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Dior and I

Oh my gosh, the stars of the film festival this year are definitely the documentaries.  So much more dramatic  and moving than any of the other movies I have gotten to see.  Tonight was the wonderful Dior and I, an inside look at the movie of Raf  Simons as the head designer of Christian Dior in Paris.  With only six weeks to go, he has to pull a couture collection together with the help of his team.

If you have any interest in fashion, this then is a movie for you.  The past few years there have been amazing movies about the fashion world, and this is one of the best.  We could have sat there for hours watching them put together the show - it was both moving and inspiring.  5/5

A Lovely Way to Burn - Louise Welsh

In a time when Ebola is hitting the headlines and it feels like it could sweep in and wipe us away, this novel is a timely tale.  Stevie Flint is a saleswoman on a tv show, when she becomes sick with what is known as the sweats, a deadly virus that kills most within days.  Upon recovering she goes to find her surgeon boyfriend, who is dead in a London flat, and she suspects that he has been murdered.

You know, I could see this being a successful BBC three part drama, and I did like the story, I just didn't quite believe in it.  She only knew the guy for a short while, and didn't know him too well - so I just didn't get why she cared so much, and why she pursued it so much.  I mean, doesn't she watch the Walking Dead or other apocalyptic disaster shows?  Doesn't she know that people are going to get nasty and mean?

I am always somewhat disappointed when I pick up a book that says it is book one of three.  It means it always is going to feel unresolved at the end, you have to get through the middle filler book before you get to the beefy finale and it might be years before the next book comes out - something my middle aged lady brain might be unable to cope with.


Monday, August 04, 2014

The Babadook

This Australian scary movie was written up like the  reviewer was terrified to sleep at night and had to check under his bed  at night.  I guess if I had seen it late at night by myself I may have been a little freaked out, but when I was distracted by the young hipster next to me farting, I didn't really jump as I might have expected to.  Samuel is a slightly disturbed child who becomes more agitated when he finds a book about the Babadook to read with his mum.

Let me just say this is a great movie for those folk who don't want to have children.  Makes me glad to have a cat.


Friday, August 01, 2014


Oh little French film, you were so serious and slightly depressing.  The old people in the audience, of which there were many, were complaining that the first third was so dark, as in filmed at night and outdoors, that they couldn't see what was happening.  We get that Violette had a sad life and felt unloved, but there must have been some joy - not just misery.  Best not to go and see it if you are depressed - a comedy it isn't.

Still it was a nice chance to catch up with a besties, eat a lovely salad and have some time out, but I have to say only a 2/5 for the movie.