Friday, July 31, 2015

While We're Young

So the next movie was the dreaded Dromedy - you know the one.  Starts off as a funny comedy, then tries to become a deep and meaningful serious drama to get its point across, but instead just results in a bit of a bore during the second half.  Neither me or my bestie are excited by the thought of a Ben Stiller movie, although he is one of the more watchable manboys.  We do like Naomi Watts though, so it seemed like an ok pick.

Ben and Naomi are a middle aged couple who find themselves questioning how they live when the become friends with a couple of free spirited twenty five year olds.  We did laugh at lots of the situations, we totally get the slide into getting old.  Me and my bestie creak when we get up, and are pleased when an evening out is over by 7pm. 

I came out thinking that the writers had a lot of good ideas at the beginning of the movie, and a lot of good jokes, but not a concrete believable story to hold the movie together.  Like a lot of recent movies, it just feels like a lot of skits strung together, some of which work, but some are just there for cheesy effect.  3/5

Girlhood

Mmmm I am beginning to have reservations about French films.  So many I have seen have been kind of bland and abrupt, they seem to have a certain sensibility that I don't get.  Some I have been tempted to leave half way through, but always stay hoping they will get better.  They do some comedies very well, but the dramas can be a bit hit or miss.

  Girlhood started off ok, I liked the tough girls from the neighbourhood they formed a good strong friendship, although I didn't like them being bullies and picking on other females.  The second half of the movie felt a big disjointed to me.  The main character seems to change without a lot of supporting story, it just seemed to switch in its tone, and tried to be gritty, but seemed to fail.  I get that life is tough on the streets in France, for a young woman without a lot of support, the choices must be limited.  2/5

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book Sculpture

I found this one on Google, a little old book sculpture from the Prague library.  I love the use of books, the reminder of what the building is for.  I do wonder though, if health and safety might outrule it here in NZ. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Girl in the Dark - Anna Lyndsey

Anna is busy working at her desk job, when he finds a flash from her computer screen has caused her pain. She realises that she has a growing sensitivity to light, having to keep herself away from daylight, computer screens, television and most other light sources.  This restricts her to spending weeks and months lying in the dark in a light proofed room of her boyfriends house.

The book does jump around in time, in some parts she can't stand any light at all, and in the next part she is out at dusk walking the neighbourhood.  I found that a little distracting, but pushed through thinking how lucky she was to have a patient and supporting partner and family. 3/5

Iris

It seems the highlight of this film festival is the documentaries.  Iris is lets us meet 90 year old Iris Apfel, who has become a celebrity due to her unique fashion sense, particularly her addiction to wearing bold accessories.  This has resulted in museum shows, front pages of fashion magazines, articles, interviews, a movie and her own range of accessories selling out on the home shopping network.  With her trademark round circular glasses, an armful of bangles and bold designer clothing she is certainly no shy wallflower, but somehow I sensed a sadness, a little old lady who after rushing around from job to show, seemed tired and over it.

A fascinating watch - I think the whole audience enjoyed it immensely.  4/5

Our Little Sister

Our little sister is a gentle Japanese story about three older sisters, who after being left by their father and mother live alone in an old house, each living their own lives.  When they hear that their father has died, they attend his funeral, and meet their young half sister Suzu, who is 15 and living with her step mother. 

A sweet little film with a rather slow pace, it did make me want to go to Japan and eat pickles with the sisters.   They looked like they had a good time together.  3/5

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ex Machina

I guess a bit of burn out yesterday after 3 movies, so today just one was enough, and even though it was 4pm, it was still busy.  Ex Machina is a science fiction movie written and directed by Alex Garland who wrote The Beach. 

An employee wins the lottery to be taken to his bosses river side retreat to see the latest technology at work.  For a movie with only four main characters and not too much action it was interesting and clever, and you are never quite sure who knows what is going on.  I do like a movie that keeps you guessing.  4/5

Letter to the Lost - Iona Grey

Such a delight to pick up a book and be sucked into the story from the first page to the last, and to read a second world war love story that felt fresh and not stocked full of clich├ęd characters.  We meet Stella on the eve of her marriage to Charles, Jess who is escaping from her violent partner, Will disillusioned at work and lost in life.  When Jess finds a house to rest in she finds a pile of letters sent to Stella, and she begins to read about her great romance during the war.

Such a lovely book - I really did not want this one to end, and enjoyed it right through. 5/5

Monday, July 27, 2015

Peggy Guggenheim - Art Addict

So the last of todays film festivals viewing was another documentary - Peggy Guggenheim - Art Addict.  Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, her world changed when her father died on the Titanic when she was 13.  Left with a mother she didn't get along with she had a bit of a rough time, having a breakdown.  After working at a bookshop and meeting a variety of artists she decided that this would be her future.

So off to Paris in the wild twenties where she spend time with artists an authors having a wild old time.  Then over to London for a brief marriage, a couple of children and an art gallery trying to sell modern art, before turning it into a museum. 

When the war intervenes, she heads back to Paris to buy as much modern art as she can before it is destroyed as degenerate by the Germans.  Escaping to New York, she sets up another gallery championing new artists and displaying modern art not seen before. 

In her middle age, an autobiography describing her numerous lovers scandalises American society, so she decamps to Venice to start anew. 

What an amazing lady with such an interesting life, one that people wouldn't blink an eyelid at nowdays, but I am sure was much frowned upon fifty years ago.   Not sure that I liked a lot of the modern art - not quite my thing.  A worthy 4/5.

Phoenix

So every year at the International Film Festival there are always a few odd ones, but that makes the good ones seem almost better.  So this one seemed to have a slightly odd plot.

 Nelly has been released from the camps after the end of the war.  It starts off with her having to have plastic surgery after having  facial injuries.  Then she heads off to find her husband, who fails to recognise her.  He does suggest that she pose as his wife, so that he can procure the money from the bank from her deceased family. 

I didn't quite get how he didn't know it was her.  Her face may have been different, but people usually talk or walk the same way, and their mannerisms don't change.  I just didn't buy it.  And the warm cinema had me nodding off, so maybe I lost sight of some of the plot line.  2/5

Sherpa

Hello International Film Festival nice to see you again.  Always a sign that winter is almost over, and is a nice break away from work.  So I started this afternoon by seeing this documentary called Sherpa.  Just amazing, the scenery was spectacular, you can understand the beauty and the majesty of the mountain, and see why people are compelled to climb Mt Everest. 

Each climber pays between 75-100K to climb the mountain, with the government taking 30% of the funds, without providing much in the way of insurance or support to the Nepalese who work for the climbing companies.  Doing most of the grunt work, these Sherpas carry the equipment up to base camp, and onto further camps up the mountain.  It was amazing to see the huge loads they carried, and how hard they worked.  I never knew that leaving base camp to climb higher, that they did much of this over night in the cold and dark, to avoid the melting ice during the day.

Anyway the whole sold out audience was gasping throughout and it was a movie that you could have carried on watching for another couple of hours, it was such a beautiful interesting watch.  5/5.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Radiant Angel - Nelson DeMille

John Corey is back to being a cheeky chappie.  Now spending his days guarding Russian diplomats in New York, he finds himself on a bit of adventure as one of his charges escapes the city. Times have changed, and it is now hard to know who the enemy is.

I enjoyed this book, it felt like the old John Corey was back in wise cracking form.  I sense the movie, should there ever be one might have a bit too much violence and blood for my liking, but reading the book seemed to keep that under control. 4/5

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mademoiselle Chanel - G. W. Gortner

This novel is the fictionalised life of Gabrielle Chanel, the influential French designer who changed so much in the fashion world.  Mainly focusing on her early life and love affairs, we get to see how after being abandoned by their father after their mothers death, the children are sent to an orphanage to grow up.  Showing a skill at sewing, she gains some early experience upon leaving and uses this talent to improve her situation.

I had to keep reminding myself that this was a story mainly from the 1920s and 1930s, as it seemed so very modern.  With her different lovers, and her own fashion line, stores, jewellery line and perfumes and mixing with the celebrities of the day. 

I just loved this book - I was absorbed from beginning to end.  I could see the wonderful world, the beautiful hats and dresses, the French heat in Riviera, I felt like I was there.  I didn't want this one to end. 5/5

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Desperate Fortune - Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley is usually a very readable author, specialising in the dual timeline type of story (one modern day character and a historical character telling their separate stories).  In this one, Sarah who has a form of Aspergers, finds a new job using her code breaking skills to help decipher a historical diary in France.  Mary and her family are Jacobites, who seek refuge in France and we get to follow her adventures as she travels across Europe helping the cause.  Somehow though it was this story that slowed the book down and I kept waiting for something momentous to happen. I love her book 'The Shadowy Horses' and was waiting for some of that magic. 2/5

Monday, July 13, 2015

Music Monday - Meghan Trainor - Like I'm Gonna Lose You ft. John Legend


I'm just loving the music around at the moment, is it sad in my forties to be saying that?  I did hear on the radio that it was, but isn't that the sign of good music - that it appeals to a wide range of ages.  Say what you want about us oldies loving the young people tunes - you can probably bet that we at least are paying for it, either buying it off iTunes or still buying old school CDs. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Book Shop Moment - Oliver Sacks

It is convenient for us in the city that the fabulous Unity Books is close to a big bus stop.  With new electronic bus timetables up that update you on how many minutes you have to wait for your number, you no longer have to wait in the cold, but can nip in to the supermarket or browse the books.

I wish that I had money to purchase I truly do, but rent and bills empty my wallet, and books are a luxury I have had to forgo in the past couple of years.  I do feel sorry  for booksellers, I am sure it has been hard with so many closing lately, but Unity remains as a bastion of a quality bookseller.  It does not need to give its retail space over to games and novelty items as many have done.  Also not relying on gimmicky sales or permanent discounts keeps it classy.

Today when I went in I was grateful to escape the chilly Antarctic breeze that was flowing over us. I did notice by the door a display of Oliver Sacks new book 'On the Move', that was centred round a vintage motorcycle.  In the middle of the books, was a little letter that I took a moment to read.  It was from the author himself, thanking the book shop staff for posting a photo of them with the display.  He mentioned that if he had the chance at a 3rd life, he would have wanted to have spent it in New Zealand, after being brought up in the UK, and then living for some time in the US. 

It was sweet and simple and gracious, in a time of emails and tweets, for this nice man to take some time out of precious life to write to a bunch of book lovers in far away NZ.  Oliver Sacks is now 82, and was recently diagnosed with metastatic Occular Cancer.   What a nice man. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Magic Mike XXL

Friday night  was awfully cold in the city here, and after a busy work week the couch was tempting.  Still my lovely niece agreed to me join me, so we went off into town to see Magic Mike XXL.  There were a gaggle of girls ahead of us buying tickets, but in the end there were only about thirty of us in the cinema to see the movie.  It was a bit slow at the start but we did enjoy the second half.  The boys were entertaining, the dancing has got a bit more modern, and maybe a touch more sleazy, but I guess that is a charm.  3/5

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Picnic in Provence - Elizabeth Bard

In this book, we reconnect with Elizabeth Bard ten years after her earlier memoir. Leaving Paris with her little family, they arrive in a small village to start a new life.  I felt in this book that she was more engaged with the French and their lifestyles.  She is less mocking of some of their culture and comparing it to the way the Americans do it.  I enjoyed this book with its tempting recipes that I am unlikely to make but enjoy reading. 4/5