Friday, August 18, 2017

The Secrets of My Life - Caitlyn Jenner

Most of us are aware of the story of how Bruce Jenner, Olympic gold winning athlete and celebrity transitioned recently and revealed herself as Caitlyn Jenner.  In this memoir, she tells us the story of how she knew from a very young age she wanted to dress as a girl and felt wrong as a boy, but it took decades before she was able to  change her body and admit to her family her true self.

You have to admire people who are able to step up and reveal themselves, faults and all.  I like her bravery in writing this book and and enjoyed learning her story.   I left with the feeling that because of her secrets that she hidden, her life has been lonely and largely unhappy.  I hope she finds happiness now - life is short and to be treasured. 4/5

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fragile Lives - Stephen Westaby

Professor Stephen Westaby is a prominent UK cardiac surgeon.  In this book he tells us about his own life and family and how the death of his grandparents led him to deciding to become a doctor.  He has lots of fascinating stories about his training years.

Most of the book though is devoted to the heart patients that he has looked after over the years - the successes and the failures.  He started his training when cardiac surgery was a young speciality and there have been many advances is surgery techniques and tools available.   I could have listened to his stories endlessly as the were all so inspirational. 5/5

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Juliet's Answer - Glenn Dixon

Glenn Dixon is a Canadian English teacher, who tells us about his classroom and their experience of learning about Romeo and Juliet.  On one of his holidays, he heads to the real Verona in Italy, to work in an office where unlucky in love men and women write letters to Juliet Capulet, and a team of writers reply back giving them hope.

He does a good job of switching between stories, and in the process reminding us all of the beauty of Romeo and Juliet and their star crossed love.  It even made me want to read it again, which I last read many decades ago in high school. 4/5

Monday, August 14, 2017

Goodbye Pet & See You In Heaven - Bel Mooney

Bel Mooney was the owner to a small Maltese dog Bonnie, who had lived with her through a marriage that broke down, living by herself and now was living with her and her second husband at a rural property.  When Bonnie gets older and sicker Bel thought that she was prepared for when she would die, but when it happens she is surprised by the grief that she feels losing her small companion and friend.

Not only does she tell her story, but she talks with other pet owners who understand the loss of a beloved companion.  You may need a tissue, it may have made my mascara run a little. 4/5

Sunday, August 13, 2017

House of Z

Sadly today was the last day of the Film Festival and it was the last movie I had booked to see with a friend.  House of Z is a documentary about American fashion designer Zac Posen.  Like other shows about other designers, this one is about a recent collection shown but I think he has opened up his life more than many of the rest.  He was obviously a very talented and charismatic teenager and he was able to establish himself by having amazing support from his family, with his mother and sister working with him for some time.

 Even though my friend and I do not know much about the current high fashion world, it is a compelling watch, from him being fashions darling to being irrelevant in a short time and then having to make a comeback .  It is interesting to realize how much an illusion it is, when they haven't made any money in years, and that the money comes from investors  and deals made with outside companies.  4/5

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A Womans Life

This is one of the last Film festival shows I got to see, and I must admit to nodding off a bit.  A subtitled French film often has the ability in a warm theatre, to do that to me.  Also I think I was lulled to sleep by the incessant chewing of the older woman next to me, who took 45 minutes to eat her ice cream cone.

So we get to meet Jeanne frolicking in the sun at her French chateau with her Mama and Papa dreaming of a handsome Beau.  Things are good, then they go bad and then they get worse .

I would have liked it more if there were a higher ratio of happy scenes to ones that made you depressed, but maybe I slept through those.  Also it looked like my uncle had filmed it in 1982 on his video camera that weighed 20kg - then showed it on our 70s tv, I am sure it was some arty sort of cinematography that the hipsters would know.  2.5/5

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Farthest

If I  had to recommend one movie from this year's Film Festival this would be the one I would tell everyone to go and see.

The Farthest  the story about NASAs Voyager mission.  Launched in 1977, these two small space ships were sent into the solar system to send back photos and data from distant planets.  It is fascinating stuff, especially when you consider the computer power that was available in the 70s.

They also talk about the golden record, stuck you the outside it is 2hours of music and messages, just in case there is some alien life out there.  The musical choices seemed a bit odd, with only one pop hit and lots of odd cultural picks.  Can you imagine ET playing a record?

It gives a fascinating perspective on just how small Earth is in a huge, huge universe.  The Voyager has made it now to the end of our solar system and is now in Interstellar space - the only thing ever to be out there, and may continue on  long after we are gone, and even after the earth is here.

Amazing stuff that may have even made me tear up at timesome and the best space movie I have ever seen 5/5

Thursday, August 10, 2017

It Comes At Night

OK so going in you know this might not end well.  This is the one thriller I chose to see at the film festival.  It is the type of movie I prefer to see at the cinema, rather than watch at home and not being able to sleep afterwards.  It is also kind of funny to sit in the cheap seats, where when someone in the row jumps, the whole row rocks with them.

It is post apocalyptic world and Paul and his wife and son are locked up in a house in the woods.  I won't tell you anymore.  4/5.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Alice Network - Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is one of those authors that you can escape into her books and picture the story straight away.  From the first few pages I knew I was going to enjoy it, and looked forward to being able to head to bed to read my book each night.

Like most historical novels, this book has two story threads.  Charlie St Clair, a young American socialite who in 1947 comes to Europe to search for her young cousin Rose, who was last heard of in France several years earlier.  When her search begins she meets the rough and tough Eve Gardiner, who has her own story of being in France over the first world war.

Their story begins to weave together as both women begin to rely on each other as they travel between cities searching for clues.

At moments the characters came across a bit cliched and predictable but I did like that they were a little flawed and trying to overcome their demons,  that made the story still feel a little fresh and not the usual war story.  5/5

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Beguiled

The Beguiled is a remake of a 1971 movie of the same name.  It is a dreamy Gothic drama directed by the clever Sophia Coppola.   It is the end of the civil war and at a small girls school one of the pupils discovers an injured Union soldier (Colin Farrell) and assists him to the school where the ladies look after him.

Using his charms and flirting with all the ladies, he convinces them to not hand him in, and tries to stay on as a gardener.  Just as he is about to be forced to leave, there is an accident and things begin to change.

I enjoyed watching Nicole Kidman, Kristen Dunst and Elle Fanning fawn over the handsome Colin Farrell.  The costumes were beautiful although I doubted that in wartime , without help they would have had such glamorous outfits so white and pressed.  3/5

20th Century Women

This one played in the early morning at the Film Festival and was a good start to the day.  A coming of age film done in a unique way.  It is the story of Jamie who is 15, and his single mother Dorothea.  Living in an old run down house they share their house with mechanic/potter William and photographer Abbie, as well as Julie - Jamie's friend who spends most of her days and nights with them.

Dorothea asks the girls to help educate Jamie as she can sense that he is beginning to struggle with growing up and she is struggling to stay relevant.  An interesting peek into growing up at the end of the seventies, with the best boy fight.  Not a film for the kids, this more of an adult drama 3.5/5.

Monday, August 07, 2017

My Life As A Courgette

Hats off to the team who made this stop motion movie which I think took them seven years.  It is the story of a young boy, who after an accident at home is sent to live in care with others of his age group, all of whom have been damaged by the absence of the adults in their lives.

It is not all doom and gloom however, and made me secretly smile throughout as it tries to  show how everyone blossoms with live in their life, and this can take many forms and come from many people you encounter.   4/5

Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Chalk Pit - Elle Griffiths

Ruth Galloway is one of my favorite thriller characters, although she may be a bit too involved in cases than her job would usually permit, the ordinary  parts of her life make her a believable character and more real to me.  I like that she is a single mother just trying to do her best, even when her patience with her five year old daughter and elderly parents is tried.

Harry Nelson too feels real to me, I get a sense of him and there is a good balance of his police work and private life.  Nothing like hating the boss, and having an affair to make detective feel conflicted.

In this book several homeless men are killed and two women are missing and everyone is wondering if there is a link.  I guessed who the bad guy was pretty early on, but still 4/5 from me.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

The Big Sick

So in a little break from the Film Festival - I went to the movies!!! The Big Sick has had a bit of hype lately and this was it's first week of release here.  If you don't know the story it is based on the real life relationship between Pakistani/American comedian Kumail Nanjiani (who plays himself in the movie) and his wife Emily Gordon.  They meet when she heckles him at a comedy club.

Their relationship is new when Emily gets sick, and Kumail has to introduce himself to her parents that he had never met before.

Not a huge laugh it is a sweet movie, and although I did see a poster declaring it the best rom-com ever, I felt that was a bit of an exaggeration.   3.5/5

Friday, August 04, 2017

A Ghost Story

Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara play a young married couple C and M, who notice some strange occurrences in their new house.  As we come to find out, the house is haunted by what becomes the main character in the movie, a ghost in a sheet with two holes in it, who has no spoken dialogue for most of the movie.  At times it is sweet and dreamy, but at times it is a bit confusing although Wikipedia does a good job of explaining the plot.

I did struggle with a long scene of eating a pie, and thought it was maybe all a bit too much hipster for me.  3/5


You know I was going to love this one, as I like my kitty cats and I had read good things about this little documentary.  Filmed in Istanbul, it follows about 5 street cats as they go about their days and the people that feed and look after them.  It must be a tough life, trying to find food and shelter and with markets and homes being pulled down to make way for apartment blocks and motorways, their existence is threatened.

Not only is it the story of the sweet cats, but it lets us learn about people and how it adds to their lives to feed and pat the cats, something most of us know.  5/5

Thursday, August 03, 2017

The Paris Opera

This was the next documentary I saw, a show about the famed Paris Opera.   Following a season, it starts in the managers office, but we get to see lots of backstage organizing, onstage bickering, rehearsals, auditions and snippets of performances.  I have never seen an Opera myself, and not a big fan of classical music, opera or ballet, but still enjoyed this movie.  It showed a human side to this huge organization and I liked that they at least briefly discussed the elitist nature of their entertainment while trying to justify seat prices (prices have increased 91% while cost of living increases have only been 23%).

A couple of the stories withing a story that made me smile, was the introduction of a large bull into a live stage performance and the young 21 year old Russian Opera Singer who at the beginning of the movie is shown at his audition, where he is barely able to speak French.

It was enjoyable, the music although not my think was still great and worthy of a 4/5.

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

It was a lazy morning getting up this morning, as the first film I had booked didn't start until 10:30am.  This was another interesting documentry.  As urban populations increase by one million people a week, we are faced with changing our cities to fit everyone in.  How will we house and transport the increases in population.

This movie focuses on New York, that after WWII goes through immense change as urbanization takes hold.  Slum tenement buildings are pulled down and large scale housing projects go up in their place, and many historical districts are threatened to be pulled down to make space for motorways. On one hand this modernization is spear headed by power broker and developer Robert Moses, who with his posse of middle aged men seeks to change the face of the city.  With little opposition and not much discussion, his vision is not often challenged.

Jane Jacobs, a writer does offer up a different vision.  She questions the loss of eyes on the street that comes from having cafes and shops at street level, and with low windows and stoops there were places to talk and gather and spots for children to play safely.  She wonders why the people that live in the city aren't being asked what they want in new buildings and does the new developments actually serve the purpose they are made for or are they just hiding the poor people away on the city verges?

As well as being a compelling story that tells a story from the sixties, it still resonates today as our own cities swell and struggle to cope with everyone moving in.  I did enjoy looking at the historical images of New York - man that is one busy city. 4/5

Wednesday, August 02, 2017


A couple of years ago I saw the wonderful documentary Sherpa at the film festival. This year it was Mountain - a story about the lure of the mountains, to climb, ride, ski and snowboard on and to jump off.

Much of the movie is made up if beautiful natural scenery, scarily high Vistas and steep slopes.  I did feel a little like the middle part was a collection of youtube videos which was a bit distracting.  3/5

I Am Not Your Negro

This evening it was a documentary that I went to see, it was meant to be sold out, but some tickets were freed up while I was waiting.  It is based on a manuscript that the author James Baldwin was writing about race relations in the US.  In it he talks about his friendship with African American leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

At times it was immensely moving and relevant to look back at how much has changed and then realize that there is still much to be worked on.  As James Baldwin died in the 80s i wonder what he would think of what he would see around him now.  I did leave the cinema thinking though that I expected more and it underdelivered.   3/5.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017


For the past couple of years at the film festival there has been a couple of documentaries that have outshone many of the other movies shown.   The ones that show us the world of high fashion are some of my favorites.   It may have been a dream of mine when I was 12 to be a fashion designer.  Now as an adult I have an admiration for their talent and the art of design.  I dislike the business side of it though and loathe the snobbery that looks down on people while trying to sell you a $900 tshirt.

Dries Van Noten is a Belgian designer who is shown looking at his past collections while trying to bring together his men's and women's new shows.  It is interesting seeing his processes, developing his own fabrics and what I like about his style is that so many if his beautiful clothes look like you would want to wear them, or at least a cheaper more diffused version that may filter down to the high street.

The shows were beautiful , in amazing sights around Paris.   When I see these fashion shows I am always surprised by the young gamine models on the runway, wondering why there is no diversity on stage.  When the designers spout off saying they love women, yet only seem to design for the one type of young tall and slim body type.

We get a small glimpse into the designers private life.  The lovely country home with beautiful gardens that he shares with his partner, and most touching if all was his lovely dog, who gets little bits of play time in between jobs.  4/5

Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer 1993

Summer 1993 is a Spanish film about a young girl Frida, who after the death of her mother moves to the rural home of her uncle, his wife and young daughter Anna.  Told from her point of view, it is a sweet film about trying to fit in in a new home, and dealing with grief, how life can swing from moments of sheer joy to tears super quickly.  The young actress did a great job of her role, it never seemed like she was acting with a very natural performance and she left me remembering what it was like to be a five year old girl.  3/5

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Crime In The Family - Sacha Batthyany

Sacha Batthyany , a Swiss/Hungarian journalist reads a newspaper article which tells a story about a party that happened at his great aunts home.  70 years ago as WWII was drawing to a close a dinner party at the rich estate in Hungary ends with some of the guests killing 180 laborers in the local village. 

So he decides to try and find out what happened and to see if he can find out any answers.  For me though although compelling, I found the story a little unsatisfying.   It seemed to focus more on him and his psychotherapy and his relationship with his father than the main story.  I would have liked to know more about the people killed, more about what went on in Hungary.

 Maybe there weren't any facts to find or people to talk to, as too much time has passed and the secrets will remain buried. 2/5

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Beatriz at Dinner

So this is another film festival movie.   My friend had booked this one and I enjoy the element of surprise in going to a movie I know nothing about, and also I can't be blamed if it is terrible.

This is another evening gathering like last night's movie.   Salma Hayek plays the lead Beatriz, a yoga/goat loving masseuse/healer living a simple life.  When visiting a client she finds herself invited to a dinner.  I won't tell you much more lest I ruin the whole story, but all I can think of is what would I do if forced into a dinner with President Trump and his cronies.  What would run through your mind?

I was a bit disappointed by the ending, it felt wrong for the story.  3/5.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Party

So tonight was the first night of our cities film festival, so that meant there was freezing rain and wind.  The largest cinema was packed with more middle aged people than are usually allowed out on a week night.

We saw The Party, an English comedy about a group of people who gather to celebrate some good news.  It was an ensemble piece including Patricia Clarkson, Timothy Spall, Kristen Scott Thomas and a couple of others.

For me it felt a bit like a stage play and I felt like everybody was over acting  which made me somewhat annoyed, although most of the middle aged loves in the audience were laughing throughout.  3/5.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nevertheless - Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin is one of those guys that is at times compelling to watch and listen to, and then can get annoying.  His book had the same effect on me too.  Like most biographies I enjoyed the early times, the growing up and school years and the early years.  Then it seemed in the later years that he had lots of falling outs and seemed to have what seemed to me lots of petty jealousies.  I got the sense that he felt his career was somewhat hindered and not what it could have been.  For us looking at him being a movie star, being on a successful tv show and now his own radio show it doesn't look so bad.

The book did redeem itself at the end as he talked about his new wife Hilaria and his four children.  It makes us like a man so much more when you can sense the great love he has for his family, 3/5

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Patient H69

In this memoir Vanessa Potter, who has a busy job as an advertising film executive and a wife and mother to two young children, describes her experience of becoming ill with a mystery illness.  Over a period of a couple of days she loses her sight as well as becoming numb over her body.  Doctors are not sure of the diagnosis and she spends two weeks in hospital having various tests and examinations. 

After her sight begins to return, she is allowed to go home, but this becomes a slow process as it doesn't return all at once.  She then begins to investigate the scientific part of her illness.  I did skim through the second part of the book, it got a bit too much for me. 3/5

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Letter From Italy - Pamela Hart

Rebecca Quinn has left Australia to travel with her journalist husband to first world War Italy.  When he disappears on his own adventure she us left to file her own stories.

I really wanted to love this story, but it all felt a bit flat for me.  I didn't really like the main charactersite, nor could I picture the Italian scenery as I would have liked.  Such a shame as it had all the elements of a good story, but I never quite believed it. 3/5.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Desert Island Discs Love

I've written before about my love for Desert Island Discs from the BBC.  It has been running for 75 years - each week someone is interviewed by Kirsty young and asked to provide their 8 favourite tunes which they would take to a desert island,  which breaks up the interview into manageable parts. They usually all talk about their growing up and families and no matter who you listen to, poets or politicians, scientists or astronauts there is always something so heart warming about hearing about someone elses life.   I had had a wee break from listening due to my ipod breaking, but finally gave in and replaced it last week.  So the past week I have been catching up on the podcasts as I walk around the city or I sometimes play one while I do my dishes or cook dinner.

Today after a visit to the library I enjoyed listening to David Beckham  who came across much more witty and entertaining than I expected,  Stella McCartney who was candid about growing up as Paul McCartneys daughter and having a fashion empire, rugby referee Nigel Owens which was very moving and the amazing Tom Hanks.  If you  want to listen to the show, you can click on the names above, and that will take you to the BBC page.  On the photo of the celebrity you click the little symbol on the left hand corner of the page and it should play on your computer. 

Do you listen?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

This Beautiful Fantastic

It was a cold and stormy night in our city tonight, made better by a pub meal with good friends.   We then went to see This Beautiful Fantastic at the movies as we wanted something light.

Bella Brown is a reclusive young woman living in a small flat.  Her life begins to change after a run in with her grumpy older neighbor and the pressure starts when her landlord gives her a month to tidy up the ramshackle garden.

It is beautiful to look at, the actors were excellent and the movie quite sweet, but it didn't move me.  3/5

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Today I was lucky enough to get a day off, so after a few household chores and falling asleep on the bed while doing a soduko, a quick shower and lunch woke me up.  I walked to town and did a couple of jobs and then went to the movies.

It was the first day of screening here so there were a few people at the session.   It was quite the movie.  Reminiscent of the war movies of the 60s in its style this movie is the war movie we have been waiting for.  No need for cheesy patriotic back stories or crazy heroics, it is more raw and honest in its story telling.  With only limited dialogue it is the pictures, sounds and expressions that are used to let us know what is going on.  In fact I think it might have been 20 minutes before there is any conversations and I think that there were only 4 of the characters names mentioned throughout the two hours.

Worth the price of sitting in a cinema seat with the biggest screen you can find.  Young Harry Styles may have set the two young girls sitting next to me sighing, but I did like that there were a range of actors on screen that I didn't know were in the movie.  5/5.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Space Archeology

So tonight I got to watch another documentry about Egypt. Tonight's show was about discoveries made with Space Archeology.   Using satellite imagery and infra red filters are able to reveal unknown pyramids unknown until recently.

 Dr Sarah Parcak is the world leader in this field and I see she has a ted talk on YouTube that I might watch next - and the Internet tells me she was the winner of the 2016 Ted prize.

I figure this middle aged lady is never too old to learn stuff.  Maybe I could go back to school and study ancient cultures.  It is a pity I need my full time job to pay the bills.

Oh and it says it is 50 degrees Celsius I Egypt when they are there - far too hot for this Kiwi girl.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


There seems to be a collection of documentaries on Egypt on free television at the moment.   Even though I have seen a lot over the years, there is still something so compelling about this ancient civilization.   Tonight's show us about the search for a secret chamber in King Tuts tomb.  Did it belongs to his step mother - Nefertiti?

You always learn something new and the treasures are beautiful to look at and have explained.  Especially with today's technology available, there seems to be so much being discovered each year.  Part of me wishes I had studied the Egyptians, Roman's or English history at University and became an author or an archeologist .  I am awe of those who are able to write extensively about these ancient times.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Music Monday - Glorious Macklemore

Such a lovely video.  The artist Macklemore arrives to take his 100 year old grandma out for the day.  Just perfect!!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Grace and Frankie

I signed up for a months free trial of Netflix as it was winter, and I thought I would have more time for viewing shows with cold and dark evenings.  For some reason I seem unable to read at the pace I once did, although this comes and goes over the years, I find that I can no longer concentrate on a book for two long and drift off to sleep after a few pages.

So the first show I started to watch on Netflix is Grace and Frankie.  Both wives of two lawyers, who confess to their wives and families at 70, that they have been in love for twenty years, leaving the wives to have to start living by themselves and come to terms with the new relationship.  Grace, played by Jane Fonda is prissy and uptight and finds it hard to live with the hippy dippy Frankie. 

After all the 20 year old faces forced on you on free tv, it is nice to deal with a different demographic and to enjoy a family comedy/drama that is smart and witty and can cause me to laugh out loud on occasion.  4/5.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


I gave this self indulgent odd movie 15.18 minutes of my time.  That was waaaaaaaaay too long.  0/5

Friday, July 14, 2017

Middle Aged Lady Night In - Tomorrowland

Yup my friends it is another Middle Aged Lady Night In.   After a chilly stormy couple of days and long evening shifts, it was time to ditch the uniform and put on some comfy clothes and sheepskin slippers.  The candles are literally and the snacks are gathered.

I have a stack of things to read and watch at the moment and the DVR is getting full.  So for Friday night I chose to watch Tomorrowland.   It is a bit of a George Clooney vehicle that I am thinking is a bit hard to explain, even after reading the Wikipedia explanation.  

In simple terms it starts with Georges character as a young boy who finds himself led into an amazing future, full of flying cars and spaceships.  Now in the present he us a recluse, living in a rundown house full of strange inventions.  Meanwhile a young girl Casey gets her own glimpse of the future, and this leads her to George and then lots of chasing and explosions occur.   Will they be able to save the future?  Can they prevent the demise of the world?

I am not sure I am clever enough to understand the plot, but I am sure most 12 year olds could figure it out.  Somehow I think that more time and money were invested in the special effects rather than the plot or script.  3/5.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Hidden Hours - Sara Foster

After the  publishing house office Christmas party, one of the bosses Arabella is found dead in the Thames.  Eleanor wakes up not remebering what happened, but was she involved in her death?

I don't know, I didn't feel especially drawn into this story.  As a thriller it felt a bit flat and lacking in any menace.  Eleanor was a bit boring and the whole back story around her growing up in Australia did not add anything to the story for me. 3/5

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Born a Crime - Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah tells us about his life growing up in South Africa.  Because his mother was black and his father white, his birth was considered a crime.  In a society where he didn't seem to fit into any racial group this gives him a unique perspective.   As he and his mother move from suburb to suburb he moves schools and into new social groups and finds it difficult to fit in.

Now as the host of the Daily Show, I have seen a few bits of the show on YouTube where Trevor comes across as an intelligent, funny and we'll informed man.  So inspiring to see someone do so well in their career and life, especially after you read this memoir and understand his background. 4/5

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Get Hard

I should have known better than to watch a Will Ferrell manboy movie. I had Loeb expectations going in, and they were met, i did record it though because I thought I could do with a bit of a laugh. This one is about a rich dude, who is facing going to prison and hires Kevin Hart to prepare him for the realities he will face.

So it was the usual generic storyline, except this one seemed to contain a few too many racist and homophobic jokes for my tastes and fell flato except for a couple of rare moments.  Obviously I am not the intended target audience - but I do wonder who is?  1/5.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Into The Water - Paula Hawkins

I had to stop reading this one.  I wanted to end it at page 50, but percivered until page 200 and it wasn't getting any better, so I finally set it aside.  The multiple viewpoints and shifting time periods made it too hard to follow the story and I failed to connect with any of the characters telling their stories.

I get that they were all connected to the river, a place where women went to end their lives or to be killed.  I could see where the story was heading to but it just dragged for me.  1/5.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

From Cradle to Stage - Virginia Grohl

Virginia Grohl is the mother of Nirvana drummer/Foo Fighter frontsman Dave Grohl.  She writes about Dave growing up and her experiences of seeing him play to thousands of fans around the world.  She then gets to meet mothers of other famous musicians and talks to them about their lives, and how their sons or daughters have managed.

While I knew a few of the artists, there were a few I had no idea who they were and I did get a bit bored half way through.  It seems that all musicians growing up were a bit hyper active and not so good at school -  which fits with most musicians I know. 3/5.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Music Monday - Talkin' 'bout a Revolution Cover

I woke up one morning a week or so ago with the Tracy Chapman repeating in my head.  So tonight I had a look on you tube and found this insanely good cover.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Another Middle Aged Lady Night In

It's another night on the couch tonight here in the middle of winter and I felt like watching something to cheer me up.  Wouldn't you know it, but Forrest Gump is on free TV, and as its been a while I thought I would sit down and watch it.

How can it be 23 years since it came out? That blows my mind and my middle aged lady brain has no recollection of when I first saw it, if I went to the cinema or waited until it was on poor peoples tv.  I was living in London at the time, and they were my partying years, so there us plenty I don't remember.

So Tom Hanks looks so young and fit and still seems so perfect in the role. Especially when you know he is such a smart and articulate chap in real life, he brings a sense of wisdom and vulnerability to Forrest.  The movie still holds up now- a modern classic that is easy to watch over and over. I so wish there was more of this smart intelligent comedy around, instead of the dull formulaic fodder that is being pumped out of Hollywood currently (we watched Pitch Perfect 2) last night.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Middle Aged Lady Night In

Hello to another middle aged lady night in- its cold outside and raining here so it's leggings and sheepskin slippers on and leftover pizza on the couch.   Best of all free television is showing An Officer and a Gentleman. Oh my gosh- young Richard Gere us quite the sight.  I was only 14 when it came out, and it felt like a real grown up movie.  I must have seen it a couple of years later.

So it is nice to have a bit of 80s nostalgia tonight.  Who needs to go out to have fun?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pecking Order

This was a fundraiser movie I saw tonight.  This small documentry follows a small New Zealand chicken/duck/game bird club as they prepare for the National competition.   There is also dissension in the ranks as the aging guys running the show are wanted out by the younger members.

Amusing to watch even if there was an element of cultural cringe, as Kiwis we all know characters like the ones on the screen.  4/5

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Returning Tide - Liz Fenwick

This is a story about families and finding out the truth about what happened seventy years ago in the second world War to drive two sisters apart.  Now at 90, Ellie is helping her loved grand daughter celebrate her wedding at the family home in Cornwall and she is wondering her sister and her wartime love.

I always like a good second world War story, and this one was enjoyable although the flow between the historical story and the current storyline was a little bit stilted for me.  Still it was filled with lots of strong female characters and windswept Cornwall. 3/5

Monday, June 19, 2017

Music Monday- Sign if the Times - Harry Styles

No I am not a One Direction groupie - I am decades too old for that.  I keep hearing this one and have it stuck in my head.  I think it has only 4 or 5 lines, so is easy for an old girl like me to remember.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


A winters afternoon meant it wasn't a hard choice to stay home with the heater on.  I feel that I am constantly trying to watch the programmes and movies clogging up my DVR.

So I tackled this one - Centurion, a take of an unlucky Roman in early Britain.  After being captured by the Picts and then meeting up with the famous ninth legion, our hero a tough looking Michael Fassbender spends much of the movie running, looking dirty and cold.

It didn't really hold my attention too much, and I had the middle aged lady feeling that I may have seen all or parts of it in the past.  3/5.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Post Mortems - Carla Valentine

Carla Valentine has written an interesting biography about her career working mainly as a mortuary technician.  If you ever were intrigued about what goes on in the mortuary, then this is the book for you.

Since a young age Carla had an obsession with burials and pet funerals and it is interesting to read about her career working in various departments.  I would worry that doing the same job, that the bodies would haunt my dreams too much.  That it would be too much sadness day in and day out. 4/5

Monday, June 12, 2017

Music Monday - Fading

I keep hearing this song in lots of shops, and on the airplane flight so I looked it up and put it on my playlist.  There doesn't appear to be a video - just the music.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Carpool Karaoke- Ed Sheeran

I watched this tonight.  Ed Sheeran is so good.  He tours here next year and I was disappointed and unable to get tickets to see him.  Still at least I get to watch him here.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Orange Blossom Days - Patricia Scanlan

This is one of those books that I fit I into the gentle lady holiday reads.  We get to meet a group of different characters as they buy new apartments in a southern seaside town in Spain.  As the years go on we learn more about their relationships and families.

I did like this read, and with the grey skies of winter here I loved reading about the warm temperatures and sunshine. 4/5

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Travel Man

Choice tv here in kiwi land has a few little shows that make me smile.  Tonight was Travel Man.  Richard Ayoade is a British comedian, who travels with a different actor/comedian to a foreign city and they spend 48hrs exploring.

Tonight was a double episode with 48 hours in Budapest and also St Petersburg.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Dirty Dancing Fail

Is it sad to say that on today's public holiday I was content to stay home after having a busy week.  I also saw that Dirty Dancing was on the tele at lunchtime, so I  did my chores in the morning, made lunch and got ready to camp on the couch.

I was just a simple 18 year old when Dirty Dancing came out and went along with a  bestie to see it.  She may have noticed a tear in my eye as the credits rolled. Since then I have seen it several times, although I think it may have been ten years since I have watched it again.

What was this though - not the original 1987 version, but a 2017 remake - oh no!!!  I did watch a bit if it and it was quite the disappointment.   It was like a high school reinterpretation of the original.  The words and actions there but no magic.   Abigail Breslin was not the right choice to play Baby.  Although she may have been the right age and have had curls in her hair, she seemed  too young and awkward for the role .  The guy who played Johnny also seemed outo of place.  Although he put on the tight pants and got himself a six pack he had none of the swagger, dance skills or natural bad boyness that Patrick Swayze bought to the role.

Awww I am a bit sad as I'do been looking forward to this one.  Still lucky I've got a good book to read.  1/5

Saturday, June 03, 2017

The Button Maker's Daughter- Merryn Allingham

In the warmth of May 1914, Elizabeth Summer is taking stock of her options.  After the season in London and two proposals of marriage declined, she is happy to return to the family mansion.  Here she can paint and wander in the gardens with her brother and his young friend from school.

With rumblings of war, a disgruntled uncle and parents who are determined to marry her off Elizabeth senses that change is coming  then she meets Aiden a young architects assistant, who has dreams of heading to Canada.

With echoes if Downton Abbey, I still quite enjoyed the book as the character Elizabeth is likable and seems to want more for herself, a future as an artist and to be free to vote and to marry whoever she wants.  It is hard to imagine how our own lives may have been so different living a century ago and how much for dom we take for granted. 4/5