Parasite – Film Review

I thought I was going to miss out on this movie, but thanks to its recent historical success at the Oscars, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s film got a second life at the cinemas. It’s a remarkable and wildly entertaining ride that deserves to be seen on a big screen, if only for the reactions of the crowd gasping out loud at the movie’s twists and turns.

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A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson – Book Review

I absolutely loved Kate Atkinson’s brilliant and inventive Life After Life from a few years back, a genre-defying novel that portrayed the many parallel lives of its heroine Ursula Todd in the first half of the 20th century. It also introduced the readers to the rest of the Todd family, among them Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy who becomes a bomber pilot in World War II. In the final “life” of the novel, Teddy gets a miraculous reprieve: presumed dead by everyone, he survives the war and comes back after having spent time as a POW. A God in Ruins takes that ending and runs with it, exploring Teddy’s war as well as his post-war life, a life that he never really expected to have.

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The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie – Book Review

This novel marks the debut of Miss Marple, Christie’s other beloved fictional detective, a gentle and harmless-looking old lady with a keen interest in human nature and a remarkably clear view of its dark side. I couldn’t say if it’s the best Miss Marple whodunit, but it ranks as my personal favourite for being so enjoyable to re-visit. I lost count of how many times I picked up my old tattered copy of The Murder at the Vicarage (now replaced with a more respectable one) for a quick and easy in-between comfort re-read.

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Farewell Movie Rental Store

That’s it, it’s finally the end of an era. My favourite movie rental in Sandringham had closed down a few weeks ago, and now the last rental store standing in my area has been worn down by progress and is going out of business too. It’s time to give up and join the streaming masses I guess. There are still those small rental kiosks and online DVD hire where they send you movies by post, but it’s just not the same.

I’m sure that there’s plenty of good stuff to be found on Netflix, Stan and so on, and that once I start streaming I’d no more dream of going back than I would of swapping my iPhone for my ancient indestructible Nokia. But dammit I’m going to miss my weekend ritual of doing grocery shopping and dropping by the rental store. I always enjoyed the experience, saying hi to the familiar friendly faces behind the counter and leisurely perusing the shelves. My favourite store had an excellent selection of TV series and foreign and arthouse titles in particular; streaming is all fine and dandy but it’s not like I’m going to subscribe to every major media provider to cover all bases.

Best of all, having a deadline for returning the DVDs forced me to actually watch the movies I rented. I have a selection of DVDs at home I got years ago that are still sitting in their wrapping. There are so many other distractions these days, it’s easy to procrastinate and just keep on wasting time on the internet instead of dedicating a couple of hours to a film.

So goodbye movie rental stores and thanks for the memories.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire – Film Review

My first reaction to the title of this movie was to wonder if it was something in the spirit of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, maybe a horror parody of Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady? But no, instead this exquisite French film is a sumptuous and sensual drama about an impossible love between two women in 18th-century Brittany.

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