Month: June 2015

Inside Out – Film Review

pixarWelcome back Pixar, I missed you guys.

I suppose technically that’s not correct, since I did love Toy Story 3 a lot. But if I had to think of an original Pixar movie I loved without reservations, I’d have to think back as far as The Incredibles* in… 2004? (I say that a lot lately but man does time run fast). Since then, even the universally acclaimed Pixar movies had been hit and miss for me. Ratatouille was just ok with one great scene near the end. Wall-E was half of a brilliant film until it got to the fatties in space. Up was a quarter of a great movie – I honestly cannot remember anything that happens after the old man and the boy land in South America. So while Inside Out gathered all those great reviews, I still went into the movie rather cautiously.

(more…)

Advertisements

Books I’ve read lately

funnygirlFunny Girl by Nick Hornby

Hornby novels for me are like pizza: when they’re good they’re great and when they’re not they’re still enjoyable and immensely readable. Luckily, in addition to being readable Funny Girl is really good. It starts off in 1960s, in the North West England town of Blackpool, where our heroine, Barbara, wins a beauty contest. She doesn’t remain crowned for long, however, as her life ambitions are rather much higher, and she relocates to London where she pursues a career in television. Barbara looks like a blond pin-up goddess, but what she really wants to do is make people laugh and be Britain’s answer to her hero, Lucille Ball. With talent and luck on her side, she changes her name to Sophie and lands the lead role in a domestic sitcom, which she comes to dominate so completely that the show adopts the name Barbara (and Jim). Needless to say, the sitcom is a huge hit. Even though Barbara/Sophie is set up to be the heroine of the book, it devotes almost as much attention to the team behind the show, particularly the writing duo of Bill and Tony, and the different ways they deal with the success of their sitcom and their own sexuality (the novel takes place before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK). How long can Barbara (and Jim) stay on top, before the inevitable decline sets in?

(more…)

The Book Blogger Confessions Tag

I saw this on another blog and thought it would be a fun thing to do.

1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish?

The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky, English translation. His novels are ultimately rewarding, but my can they be hard work; I made it to half-point and then just quietly gave up.

(more…)

Slow West – Film Review

slowwestCaught the encore session for this movie today at Palace Cinema Como. I’m not usually a fan of westerns, but this one looked more offbeat and interesting plus I’m very partial to Michael Fassbender. Because I’m not into westerns I probably missed out on tons of references and tributes that the genre enthusiasts would pick up on and appreciate, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless.

(more…)

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – Book Review

burial-rites_bookI was very eager to check this book out. It got a lot of attention and praise, and the premise seemed interesting: it’s based on the real-life story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last person to be executed in Iceland. She was beheaded in 1830 for her part in the gruesome murders of two men, one of them her employer, and the attempted cover-up by arson. Before the execution, she spent her last months at the rural home of Jon Jonsson, a middle-ranking official, and his family, a wife and two daughters. Iceland is a place that has always fascinated me, and I can’t say I’ve read many stories with it as a setting, so that made this book even more intriguing. Did it live up to the hype? Not really. I found it solid reading, but not that special, at least not consistently so.

(more…)

Quote of the Day

I read out this extract from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet during my speech at my sister’s wedding – I was looking for a wedding-appropriate poem that a) didn’t make me vomit and b) expressed something I personally believed in. I think it puts a very practical advice on the need of space in relationships in a very beautiful way:

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

The Wolverine – Film Review

The_Wolverine_(film)_poster_001Watched The Wolverine yesterday on regular TV; I really forgot how annoying the ad breaks are. Luckily a mute button was there for me to make things a little bit better.

I love Hugh Jackman and I love the character, but I skipped the movie during its theatrical release. I still had the foul aftertaste of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in my mouth, a legitimately shitty movie if there ever was one, and the trailers just didn’t look inspiring enough. While The Wolverine is not anywhere as terrible as Hugh Jackman’s first solo outing, it’s still nothing more than mediocre. It’s not exciting enough as an action/thriller and much too superficial to be a thoughtful, mature character study it was obviously aiming to be. In fact the best thing about it is this rather cool Japanese-style poster.

(more…)