Saturday, October 29, 2016

I, Daniel Blake

It was a cold spring night here in our city and a perfect evening for an early visit to the cinema.  Our one was full to see I,Daniel Blake.  It is a drama set in Newcastle.  Dan is a 59 year old carpenter, who after a heart attack has to apply for a benefit.  His dealings with the social welfare agency points to some of the many problems that people encounter with them, for a department that is meant to be in the business of helping people in need their seemed to be so many obstructions.  On one visits he meets a single mother, who is trying to get some help with her two children and a friendship forms.  Their friendship is the heart of this movie and made us smile by the small gestures of helping each other, of sharing a meal or a hug.

This movie was a good touch of social realism and feels like you are just watching some real people in their lives, no Hollywood sets here or fancy outfits.  This is the bleak life that many people live struggling with money, being able to afford food, rent or electricity.  It was a simple story in many ways, but told with integrity and feeling.  4/5

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Wonder - Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue is the author of Room, which was a clever novel made into a fine film.  She has returned with The Wonder, a story about Lib an English nurse who has trained under Florence Nightengale.  Sent to rural Ireland, she is to tend to and observe Anna, an eleven year old Catholic girl who has not eaten for 4 months, and is one of the fasting girls, a phenomenon of the time.

The author is talented, I felt drawn into that dark smelly cottage and could picture the bustling round of mother and maid, but somehow I felt like I was waiting for something more to happen.  Although more was revealed at the end of the novel I felt like I was missing so much more of a story. 3/5

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Golden Years

Boy it poured with rain today and it would have been tempting to spend the day off I had at home, but I had organised to meet some good friends to go to the cinema and as I had a gifted voucher it was nice to be able to use that.   We met a bit earlier so that we could have a bite to eat and due to the rain, the cinema was quiet so we didn't have to fight off the crowds to get a table.

Golden years is about a pensioner couple and their friends who are finding it difficult to live on a fixed income and after a fluke day out decide that they can easily take money from the banks.  It was quite an enjoyable little movie, and nice to see real pensioners in the roles, with real faces and not one bit of botox between them.  Like most UK movies, it is filled with lots of special characters and has the feel of a good Sunday night movie.  Lots of the pensioners behind us giggled the whole way through the movie and it did provide lots of chuckles.  3/5

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Girl On the Train

Today was a rainy morning, and the call of the discounted seats at the cinema were calling.  I liked the look of the Girl on the Train, even though I had not enjoyed the book too much.  I found in the book the shifting narrators and time shifts were a bit of a distraction, and none of the characters were particularly likable.

I do however like Emily Blunt and she did a great job in this movie as alcoholic Rachel who spends her commuter journeys staring out the windows of the train watching the characters in a couple of homes on her trips in and out of New York City.  With blackouts due to drinking too much vodka, she is beginning to lose her grip on what really happened in the past, and what is real and imagined.  Like the book character, I felt that she was not the nicest person and I got a bit annoyed at why she kept interfering, she was just asking for trouble.

A solid 4/5 for this movie, it could have had a bit more suspense and menace to make it a bit more scary.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I remember when I first got to watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I am sure it was broadcast on tv when I was around 10 or 11, and while the parents entertained themselves with cheap box wine and bad music, I got to sit by the box and watch the movie more or less uninterrupted.  I remember being mostly entertained as it was most unlike any other offerings with its talk of transvestites, sex and lust all thrown together in a punk like party and I must admit to having watched it at least 5 times since. .  It still makes me smile if I catch some of the original show on tv - but I must say I am often bored when I have watched the whole thing.  I am never a fan of any musicals - as I think the story is sacrificed for songs that seldom do a good job of linking the whole thing together.

I didn't really have any high hopes for the remake that was broadcast tonight, I had heard it had been slated by the US reviewers.  So I put it on in the background while I did some exciting chores like cleaning out the drawers.  Somehow it all felt a bit Disneyfied - a bit watered down as though the director and actors in order to show it on tv had to hold back on the sexy part.  Somehow though they got it wrong, as it seemed like they had watched the original and read the script but missed the point.  Maybe it was because the 1975 was quite shocking for its time and Tim Curry did an amazing job in his role.  I like Laverne Cox, she looked amazing but seemed to be lacking in sauciness and sizzle.  So I'll be sticking to the original version.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Way We Die Now - Seamus O'Mahony

I feel a bit awkward saying that I like this genre of book, but I think it is the type of book everybody should read and discuss with their friends and family.  Seamus O'Mahony is a gastroenterologist who has worked hospitals in England and Ireland and is able to draw on his own personal experiences of dealing with many patients at the end of their lives.  In this book, he looks at the way we die, and how there is a myth around the good death, the one we picture of dying peacefully in bed in white linens, holding a loved ones hand and quietly slipping away. In reality for many patients, death may be painful, and drawn out by unnecessary and expensive treatments that may not gain any additional time or benefit for the patient.

It did bring me close to tears on several occasions, after witnessing my dads death this year and made me think about what I would want for myself if I were able to any input.  He describes how although now doctors are much better at discussing prognosis with patients and families there still needs to be a better system of being honest about risk benefits of undergoing further treatments/procedures and having honest discussions about facing death. 5/5

Friday, October 21, 2016

Where Am I Now? - Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson is instantly recognizable on the cover as the role she played  in Mrs Doubtfire as Natalie,  the youngest sibling and as Matilda and many other roles.  Now at 29, and retired from acting, and she has written a biography about her life then and what she is up to now.  Although I am not the biggest fan of biographies written by 20 or 30 year olds, she has something fresh to write about. I am sure being an actor so young makes for many challenges, and with the death of her mother at a young age and struggling with anxiety and OCD I felt there was some wisdom to be shared.

I do think though that this is a generation growing up with the need to overshare everything, and wonder how they will feel when they are older with children of their own with every thought and photo published and available on google at the touch of a button.  3/5

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Date with a Documentary

I am always a fan of a good documentary and now it is easier than ever to find quality ones, these are ones with a bit of a female twist, but a good story is interesting to everyone.  These are a couple of the ones I am looking forward  to seeing.

Crazy About Tiffany's talks about the history of the company and the magic of those little blue boxes that everyone around the world recognizes.

The next one is Embrace - one womans journey to find out why as women so many of us have issues with our bodies and can't just love the body we live with, and why we spend so much energy hating ourselves instead of  enjoying this amazing gift.

The First Monday in May - Anna Wintour and Fashion are a powerful combination, and the fashion although unreal and over the top it is quite the spectacle.

I have some days off coming up, and as the weather has already packed in with cold and rain on the first evening off, the cinema/apple tv may beckon and keep me entertained.

Are you looking forward to seeing movie/documentaries?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A House Without Windows - Nadia Hashimi

Zeba is married with four young children when her husband is found in her yard and her life changes as she is put in prison - but it is not just her story that we learn about, we get to hear about the other Afghani women who are often put into prison for whispering  and rumors.   It was shocking to me that these were stories from a modern age and not from hundreds of years ago, and that women and girls could be treated with such contempt.

This is a story that will stick with me for some time, and I look forward to seeking out the authors other novels. 4/5

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena

Two parents head to their neighbors house for a party, returning each half hour to check on their infant daughter Cora.  Then the baby is not in the crib - where has she gone and who took her?  Police are called and the mystery begins to deepen.

I didn't really connect to the story, it felt a little bit tv movie to me, like I had seen the premise on episodes of SVU or any other police drama and I found all the characters a bit annoying and unlikable.  The police seemed disinterested and I didn't believe how it all unfolded.  The title too was a bit misleading, as the neighbors weren't an important part of the story - or maybe I missed something. 3/5

Monday, October 17, 2016

Music Monday - Girls On Film - Duran Duran

I have to confess that I was a 80's child, dancing away my late teenage years and loving the music although I was only 13 when this came out in 1981 - so long ago now.  This week I have been binge watching Brief Encounters a UK 6 episode series about some women in the 1980s who gain confidence and independence once they start working selling Ann Summers underwear and marital aids at home parties.    The show has a great 80s soundtrace and I love that they have done a realistic representation of 1980s fashion, that looks like clothes and hairstyles that we loved, as so many shows go overboard with the neon/wham/crop top stuff, that real women weren't wearing.  This looks like they have gone to the op shops and found the real deal.

So I loved this little show - it has the feal good factor much like the Real Monty, with great British characters, a shame it has only the one series.  I wish there were more.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In Such Good Company - Carol Burnett

I saw Carol Burnett being interviewed on a tv show, and that is how I learned about this book which talks about her tv show that ran for 11 years in the 1970s.  She writes about her life, running the show, her co stars and the many guests that came on doing skits and songs, in the variety show.  First and foremost she comes across as a lovely lady that cared deeply for her many friends and is nice to everybody.  I am maybe a touch too young to know who many of the people are in her book, but still enjoyed reading about them. 3/5

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Love You Dead - Peter James

Ahhh Roy Grace, you seemed to take a little back seat in this your latest adventure, only popping up every now and again to share your wisdom and more focus on your family.  Instead we get to meet Jodie - she's a bit of a femme fatale who is in search of her next new hubby to entertain.  She is a bit of a naughty girl, and now quite a few people are looking for her and who will find her first?

In the meantime Roy is trying to be a good father and husband - but he hears from Germany as Sandy rears up again.  What will she want and will it disturb his relationship with his wife Cleo? I like this sensitive Roy - seeing his soft and sensitive side, magic to middle aged lady fans. 4/5

Monday, October 10, 2016

Music Monday - Lily Allen - Somewhere Only We Know

I like a bit of Lily Allen, she is good when she is fun and when she is serious and always makes me smile when her songs pop up on my ipod.  I loved watching the making of this video which I think was for a Christmas ad in the UK.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo - Amy Schumer

It seems to be the modern way of celebrity living, that if you are in your twenties or thirties you need to look back on your life and write a memoir, because you are wise and want to impart your wisdom to the masses.  I can hardly criticize as I do like to read memoirs.   I had only encountered comedian Amy Schumer on the odd chat show on TV and on her movie Trainwreck.

In this book, I was amused by lot of her stories, she is funny although a bit borderline smutty, I did like that she didn't name drop a lot or write boring anecdotes about dull shows that I hadn't heard about.  Where her writing shines is where she talks about her family, sexism, gun violence and sexual violence.  Maybe she is a voice that is needed to speak to the younger generation about some of these issues, and I am sure it will generate many conversations of a political nature, which you may not expect from this type of book.  4/5

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Dead to Me - Lesley Pearse

Lesley Pearse is what I like to think of as a reliable author.  She turns out solid historical fiction that are filled with strong female characters.  Although this one was a bit of a door stopper in size, I ripped though it and enjoyed losing myself in 1930s and 40s England.

Verity and Ruby meet as youngsters in London, when Verity is a girl in nice clothes from a posh home, while Ruby has only one dirty dress and never enough to eat.  Both girls become friends and even though their circumstances change drastically they still manage to help each other out, even after a bad falling out. 4/5

Monday, October 03, 2016

Labyrinth of Lies

Another quiet night at home made it a middle aged mumster night in.  Chores were done, a nice dinner made - candles lit and time to sit down and relax and be mellow.  I had heard from someone I worked with that this was an interesting movie, so thought I would give it a chance.

Based on a true story this is about a young German public prosecutor who takes an interest in the case bought against a local school teacher who was a SS officer at Auschwitz.  However he finds that there is limited interest in prosecuting him because of many of the men involved were also in the Nazi party.

I was surprised by one of the scenes where many of the young Germans are asked about their knowledge of Auschwitz and other camps, with most of them unaware of the horrors commited there.  Eventually put in charge of making a case against the workers at the camp, his team are able to take some of them to trial.  With only 789 of the approximately 6,500 workers being tried, this was still the biggest prosecution of some of those responsible for the murders of the many people who died in the camps.

It is hard to say if I enjoyed this movie - it was certainly not the most cheery of subjects, but it was interesting and the main character was a charismatic watch. 3/5