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Monday, December 07, 2015

The Dressmaker (Jocelyn Moorhouse)

Tilly Dunnage returns to her small home town in the country to right the wrongs of the past.

Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Kate Winslet, Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook, Judy Davis, Caroline Goodall, Kerry Fox, Rebecca Gibney, Hayley Magnus, James Mackay, Barry Otto, Shane Jacobson, Julia Blake, Sacha Horler, Shane Bourne

Why I loved this film: Some say Tilly committed a horrible crime and was cursed for it. She has come back to town in order to better learn the truth about what really happened and to set things right.
Battle lines form. Many want Tilly to be guilty and cursed. They work to get her seen in the worst light. Yet, there are many who believe in Tilly. As she sets up a dress making shop and helps create new and better characters for people, her allies grow. The dresses she makes change how people see themselves and how others view them. It may not be Tilly who is cursed, it might rather be the town for their judgement of a little girl.
At the heart of this wonderful film is the theme of how a few awful people make life so bad for others by their terrible and swift judgement. I must say, I really related to Tilly, although I was never accused of murdering anyone.
This movie is set in the 1950s and it is both serious and funny, filled with amazing twists and turns. Added to the spell-binding writing is the superb acting of Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, and many others. This is definitely a 'must see' film!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Bridge of Spies (Directed by: Steven Spielberg; Written by: Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen)

In the cold war, A lawyer, James B. Donovan, was recruited by the CIA to negotiate the release and exchange of a CIA U-2 spy-plane pilot, Francis G. Powers - who was arrested after his plane was shot down by the Soviet Union during a mission - for a KGB intelligence officer, Rudolf Abel, who was arrested for espionage in the US.

Starring: Mark Rylance, Domenick Lombardozzi, Tom Hanks, Joshua Harto, Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, Jillian Lebling, Noah Schnapp, Eve Hewson, Austin Stowell, Jesse Plemons, Michael Gaston, Dakin Matthews, Stephen Kunken, Scott Shepherd, Jon Curry, Will Rogers

Why I loved this film: Bridge of Spies is an absorbing true-life espionage tale very smoothly handled by old pros who know what they are doing.
I went to see it expecting a political drama about the cold war, and while indeed it was that, I had seen so many related documentaries that I was not expecting to still be entertained and kept interested throughout the movie.
The Coen brothers writing a movie Steven Spielberg would direct just sounds like a winning combination and it really was. A great performance by Tom Hanks just seemed to seal the deal.
Watching Hanks play Donovan who is just swept into an overwhelming situation (go back to when the Berlin wall was being built and try to picture the terrifying lives of those people and what they must have felt) and still manages to keep his cool and his charm is just priceless.
I must say that I totally loved Bridge of Spies and highly recommend it for historical and entertainment purposes.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Steve Jobs (Directed by: Danny Boyle; Written by: Aaron Sorkin and Walter Isaacson)

His passion and ingenuity have been the driving force behind the digital age. However, his drive to revolutionise technology was sacrificial. Ultimately, it affected his family life and possibly his health.

This revealing film explores the trials and triumphs of a modern day genius, the late CEO of Apple inc. Steve Jobs.

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo, Makenzie Moss, Sarah Snook, John Ortiz, Adam Shapiro, John Steen

Why I loved this film: After watching the Ashton Kutcher film 'Jobs' two years ago, this really felt like a continued version of that movie.
It consists of something similar to a three-act play where we get to see the life of Steve Jobs during the unveiling of a new product at three different times of his life.The first act consists in Jobs working for Apple as a member of a Macintosh R and D group whose company is about to release the new computer called Macintosh, in 1984.The second act consists in Jobs,who was fired from Apple, now working in his new company called NeXT Computers, which is about to unveil the new computer called 'Cube', in 1988. The final act consists in Jobs back at Apple working as the CEO, whose company is to release a new computer called the iMac, in 1998.
At the centre of it all is his relationship with his daughter Lisa whom he first refused to acknowledge when he had early success in life; later on, they reconnected during the humbling moments of his life; and finally formed a father-and-daughter relationship when he found a renewed success after getting back to his former company.
In terms of acting, Fassbender provides us with a marvellous portrayal of Steve Jobs being both an innovator and a monster alike. We see him as someone that is extremely difficult to get along with due to being an arrogant egomaniac, but at the same time, whose thinking and ideas for innovation and marketing have led the computer industry into greater heights.
Definitely worth seeing!

Friday, November 20, 2015

She's Funny That Way (Peter Bogdanovich and Louise Stratten)


On the set of a playwright's new project, a love triangle forms between his wife, her ex-lover, and the call girl-turned-actress cast in the production.


Starring: Imogen Poots, Illeana Douglas, Owen Wilson, Rhys Ifans, Richard Lewis, Cybill Shepherd, Debi Mazar, Jennifer Aniston, Will Forte, Ahna O'Reilly, Kathryn Hahn, Jake Lucas, Sydney Lucas, Nora Jobling, Tatum O'Neal, Jennifer Esposito, Joanna Lumley, Quentin Tarantino


My thoughts on this film: "Blows my mind to think that just like Lana, a chance encounter changed my life." Isabella is a call girl who aspires to be an actress. When Arnold, a playwright, hires her for the night he gives her a present that changes her life. As Arnold starts casting his next play, Isabella shows up to read with his wife. This starts a chain reaction of events that ends up affecting the lives of everyone involved.
We have many different characters here with their own story while at the same time being involved with everyone else. This is not a main stream comedy but I thought it was funny. The dialogue is very witty, although the pacing could have been better, the interview makes it a little boring at times, although I love her Audrey Hepburn line, as it is one of my all-time favourites.
Overall, this movie is not for everyone, but it is worth seeing if you are into this type of comedy.

Suffragette (Directed by Sarah Gavron; Written by Abi Morgan)


A drama that tracks the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State. These women were not primarily from the genteel educated classes, they were working women who had seen peaceful protest achieve nothing. Radicalised and turning to violence as the only route to change, they were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality - their jobs, their homes, their children, and their lives.


Starring: Anne-Marie Duff, Grace Stottor, Geoff Bell, Carey Mulligan, Shelley Longworth, Adam Michael Dodd, Ben Whishaw, Sarah Finigan, Lorraine Stanley, Romola Garai, Adam Nagaitis, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep


Why I loved this film: Solid performances, great period design, and a historical event worth telling.
Getting involved in Suffragette activism upends the life of Carey Mulligan's character, Maud. It cuts her off from her work, her husband, her child, and her community, but it introduces her to a wider world of ideas and of people of a higher social class who she would never otherwise have known.
We never do find out what happens to Maud after the tragic event at the Epsom Derby (spoiler alert... or maybe not) but we do see actual newsreel footage of the thousands of women who attended Emily Davison's funeral — the true-life quiet dignity of her supporters outshines the perhaps misguided over aggressive militancy of a fictional Maud.
Suffragette features a number of both fictional and non-fictional supporting players that give one a flavour of those involved in the women's suffrage movement. Carey Mulligan does well as Maud Watts, adroitly capturing the intensity of the composite character Gavron and Morgan have served up here.
Definitely worth seeing. Maybe now women will realise the importance of voting.
I'm so sick and tired of people saying it's not worth it!

Burnt (Directed by: John Wells; Written by: Steven Knight and Michael Kalesniko)

Chef Adam Jones had it all - and lost it. A two-star Michelin rockstar with the bad habits to match, the former enfant terrible of the Paris restaurant scene did everything different every time out, and only ever cared about the thrill of creating explosions of taste. Now, to land his own kitchen and that third elusive Michelin star he will need the best of the best on his side, including beautiful Helene.

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl, Omar Sy, Matthew Rhys, Stephen Campbell Moore, Emma Thompson, Uma Thurman, Alicia Vikander, Lily James, Sarah Greene

My thoughts on this film: I found this to be a fun movie! All the food looks delicious. The meticulous preparation and presentation of all the dishes make them look mouth watering. Bradley Cooper is outstanding as Adam Jones. Cooper portrays the chef's vulnerability, aggression, and attention to detail flawlessly. Sienna Miller is brilliant as Helene. They both seem to have great chemistry on every movie they make together. Omar Sy is great as Michel, which was a surprise as I am more used to seeing him in French movies rather than American ones. Emma Thompson is spectacular as Dr. Rosshilde, but then again, she is great in every movie.
Burnt is a must watch for all foodies and aspiring chefs. But even if you are not one, you should go and feast your eyes on some delectable food!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Un moment d'égarement (Jean-François Richet)

A remake of the 1977 film 'Un moment d'égarement', where two friends bring their daughters on a beach vacation and find themselves in an awkward situation.

Starring: Vincent Cassel, François Cluzet, Alice Isaaz, Lola Le Lann, Philippe Nahon

My thoughts on this film: I found it to be a very annoying, phony, and stupidly written movie. I did not connect or relate to the characters at all. The dialogues were empty and lacked true emotion.
I was hoping for something as funny as The Untouchables. I generally enjoy French cinema, but this time they seemed to be following Hollywood steps in a very bad way.
I also did not enjoy the way in which they skipped unfinished scenes.
There were some fun one-liners, but it was, overall, very bad!

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Walk in the Woods (Directed by Ken Kwapis; Written by Rick Kerb, Bill Holderman, Bill Bryson, and Michael Arndt)

Celebrated travel writer, Bill Bryson, instead of retiring to enjoy his loving and beautiful wife, and large and happy family, challenges himself to hike the Appalachian Trail - 2200 miles of America's most unspoiled, spectacular and rugged countryside from Georgia to Maine. However, the peace and tranquility he hopes to find is anything but once he agrees to go with the only person he can find willing to join him on the trek - his long lost and former friend Katz, a down-on-his-luck serial philanderer who, after a lifetime of relying on his charm and wits to keep one step ahead of the law - sees the trip as a way to sneak out of paying some debts and sneak into one last adventure before it is too late. The trouble is, the two have a completely different definition of the word 'adventure'.

Starring: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman, Kristen Schaal, R. Keith Harris

My thoughts on this film: It is a nice, witty, film, where although some pople could say that Redford might have wanted to make a bit of an environmental statement here, Nolte keeps us entertained all through until the end. Emma Thompson is also a delight as Redford's wife Catherine Bryson, but it is truly Kristen Schaal as Mary Ellen - the annoying, obnoxious fellow traveller, who talks endlessly and knows it all - that steals the show.
This is what you would call a buddy type of film. Just a sweet and nice movie that will appeal to all ages!

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Intern (Nancy Meyers)


Seventy-year-old widower, Ben Whittaker, has discovered that retirement is not all it is cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back into the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site founded and run by Jules Ostin.

Starring: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, JoJo Kushner, Andrew Rannells, Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman, Jason Orley, Christina Scherer

My thoughts on this film: The story is simple and very well knit. It beautifully portrays how an old school veteran brings peace and stability to a Millennial generation woman entrepreneur lost in the crazy and excruciatingly demanding business world. The characters have been well conceptualised and sketched. Some of the scenes really touch your heart, particularly the conversations between Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro. At the end, it leaves you with some food for thought.
The simplicity of the story did not demand high levels of acting. However, Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro do a great job at projecting the aspirations, principles, beliefs, and challenges of both generations, not only in terms of dialogue delivery, but also expressions. The supporting cast is excellent too.
In terms of directing, I like the way Nancy Meyers focused on projecting the synergies of two different generations working together rather than the friction which we normally see. This gave the entire movie a very feel-good factor.
Overall, it is a definite film for all ages, which will get you in a good mood!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dior and I (Frédéric Tcheng)

Dior and I brings the viewer inside the storied world of the Christian Dior fashion house with a privileged, behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simons' first haute couture collection as its new artistic director - a true labour of love created by a dedicated group of collaborators. Melding the everyday, pressure-filled components of fashion with mysterious echoes from the iconic brand's past, the film is also a colourful homage to the seamstresses who serve Simons' vision.

Starring: Grace Coddington, Marion Cotillard, Isabelle Huppert, Marc Jacobs, Jennifer Lawrence, Raf Simons, Sharon Stone, Allegra Versace, Donatella Versace, Harvey Weinstein, Anna Wintour

My thoughts on this film: This is a documentary film about acclaimed fashion designer Raf Simons; and his work as the creative director for Christian Dior S.A. (better known as Dior). The movie also features cameos by Marion Cotillard, Isabelle Huppert, Sharon Stone and Jennifer Lawrence. Although the movie is consistently beautiful to look at, it is also extremely boring.
The film focuses on Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons. It begins in 2012, when he first replaced Bill Gaytten, as the creative director for Dior, and it follows him around as he passionately directs the French fashion house's employees. The film-makers interview Simons, as well as several other Dior fashion artists. It all leads up to the debut of Simons' first 'haute couture' collection.
The movie is somewhat interesting, but really slow-paced, and mostly a bore (at least in my opinion). I do like fashion and glamorous clothes, but I am not that interested in the 'behind the scenes' of how the fashion industry functions. This should be an interesting movie for those that are, though.
Simply not my cup of tea!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

R.I.P. Jackie Collins

I still remember 'The Hollywood Kids' as the first Jackie Collins book I ever read. For a girl who had this dream of going to Hollywood and making movies, but knew how impossible that would be, it seemed enough to read fiction about it. Miss Collins fulfilled my everyday life. When reality seemed too much, she was there with me, wherever I would be.
I even remember going to England on one of my usual holidays and coming back with so many Jackie Collins books that I actually had to get a bag to carry it all.
I was also fortunate enough to have a few words with Jackie Collins through her Facebook Page about her books and the Bobby Santangelo character (Jackie always found time for her fans), and it breaks my heart to know there will be no more.
Thank you for keeping me company through the good and the bad!
My condolences to her family and friends at such a hard time, and may you R.I.P. Jackie.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Visit (M. Night Shyamalan)



A single mother finds that things in her family's life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.


Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Jorge Cordova, Benjamin Kanes


My thoughts on this film: I am one who has grown to hate the found footage filming style. But I must say that M. Night does a fantastic job behind the camera. Although this style of filming has become stale (to me anyways), Shyamalan makes it feel refreshing and new. There are also some truly beautiful and impressive shots throughout the film. The performances were also amazing, particularly those of the two kids. The little boy comes off as annoying at first, but he grows on you. And he ends up being hysterical. Both the grandparents were good as well, but the grandma stole the show between the pair.
In the end, I very much enjoyed The Visit. It was an absolute blast, as well as creepy. It kept me on my toes the whole time.
And yes, there is a twist, but I will not spoil it for you, so go and see it!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Ricki and the Flash (Directed by Jonathan Demme; Written by Diablo Cody)

Ricki is a guitar heroine who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom, but she is now returning home to make things right with her family. Meryl Streep stars opposite her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, who also plays her fictional daughter.

Starring: Meryl Streep, Rick Springfield, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Audra McDonald

My thoughts on this film: Ricki is no rock star, although she clearly chased the dream. We learn of this when we see her working as a checker at the local supermarket, and then again when her ex-husband calls her home to Indianapolis in a desperate attempt to pull their daughter Julie out of a suicidal depressive state brought on by her husband leaving for another woman.
The movie's peak occurs with the family dinner scene, as Ricki is united with her three kids, including sons Josh and Adam. It does not take long before true emotions are bubbling over causing much discomfort throughout the restaurant. See, Ricki left her family to chase her music dream, leaving Kline and his second wife Maureen to provide a sense of normal family life.
The band does a nice job with the familiar songs, and Meryl Streep is effective as the lead singer and audience favourite. However, it is difficult to understand why so much time is devoted to the musical performances with such an the extensive family drama set-up. A perfect example is that once the final act hits, Julie is given no more dialogue. It is a strange turn.
The script does make a couple of very interesting points. The first involves the repercussions of a mother in chasing her dream. Ricki compares herself and perception to that of Mick Jagger. The second involves addressing the 'job' of a parent to love their kids. Either of these could be the central theme of a very interesting film, but as with other topics, the surface is barely scratched here. Despite the odd choices in the plot, it is clear that Streep is loving her time on stage.
Worth seeing for a good time, but nothing out of the ordinary!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Absolutely Anything (Terry Jones)

When some aliens - who travel from planet to planet to see what kind of species inhabit them - come to Earth, they decide that, if they are, according to their standards, decent, they will remain alive, otherwise the planet will be destroyed. To find that out, they choose one inhabitant and give that person the power to do whatever he/she wants. They choose Neil Clarke, a teacher constantly being berated by the headmaster and attracted to his neighbour, Catherine, although he does not have the guts to approach her.
Now that he can do absolutely anything, he must be careful.

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Simon Pegg, Robin Williams, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Rob Riggle, Joanna Lumley, Eddie Izzard, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Alexa Davies, Meera Syal, Emma Pierson, Sanjeev Bhaskar

Why I loved this film: The trailer was too great, which had me interested straight away. The plot line alone, the ability to grant any wish you want to come true, had me intrigued. This movie does a good job at keeping you wondering throughout. A few of his wishes were clever and made me really wonder 'what would I wish for?'
The weakest part, I would have to say, is the ending. You will not walk out of this movie thinking 'Oh my gosh Simon Pegg just delivered the best performance in his entire career' but, that does not mean it was bad. The acting was good, the editing was fine, and overall, I would recommend it to anyone - but it will not be the best film you have ever seen.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Minions (Directed by Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin; Written by Brian Lynch)

The story of the Minions begins at the dawn of time. Starting as single-celled yellow organisms, Minions evolve through the ages, perpetually serving the most despicable of masters. Continuously unsuccessful at keeping these masters - from T-Rex to Napoleon -, the Minions find themselves without someone to serve, and fall into a deep depression. But one Minion named Kevin has a plan, and he - alongside teenage rebel Stuart and lovable little Bob - ventures out into the world to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow. The trio embarks upon a thrilling journey that ultimately leads them to their next potential master, Scarlet Overkill, the world's first female super-villain. They travel from frigid Antarctica to 1960's New York City, ending up in modern London, where they must face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind... from annihilation.

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin

Why I loved this film: It is a family night out. Pack your bags everyone and go to your nearest cinema to see the Minions. You will not find a better family film then this. It is a comedy for all ages.
The Minions are cute and funny. And there is also a great cast that you will never forget.
So go and buy some popcorn, and get yourself ready for a lot of fun!

La Famille Bélier (Eric Lartigau)

The Béliers are ordinary people: Rodolphe and Gigi are married, they have two children and run their farm for a living. Ordinary people? Well, almost... since three of them, Dad, Mum, and their son Quentin, are deaf. Which is not the case for big sister, Paula. And not only can she speak but her music teacher scouts her beautiful voice as well. He offers her to sit for the entrance exam of the Maîtrise de Radio France, a vocal elite choir in Paris. Her parents, who rely on her as their mouth and ears, take the news badly. Paula, who hates the idea of betraying her family, goes through a painful dilemma...

Starring: Karin Viard, François Damiens, Eric Elmosnino, Louane Emera, Roxane Duran, Ilian Bergala, Luca Gelberg

Why I loved this film: I am not fleeing, I am flying. Understand it well, I am flying!
There are times when a film can hit close to home making it hard to review objectively because it has spoken to you in a very personal manner. That is the case with this French film.
I no longer live with my parents, but they are still everything to me. it is just that sometimes you have to make your own choices and live your own life.
Louane Emera has a beautiful voice and she really delivers a natural and touching performance in the lead role. I had no trouble caring for her character, so it really worked.
This film manages to be funny and sad at the same time, it even had me crying in the end.
The music also works extremely well. Karin Viard and François Damiens had great chemistry together and provided most of the comedy in the film.
La Famille Bélier is a very charming, feel-good movie full of funny and sincerely touching moments.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (Christopher McQuarrie)

CIA chief Hunley convinces a Senate committee to disband the IMF, of which Ethan Hunt is a key member. Hunley argues that the IMF is too reckless. Now on his own, Hunt goes after a shadowy and deadly rogue organisation called the Syndicate.

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney, Simon McBurney, Alec Baldwin, Hermione Corfield

Why I loved this film: It is one of the best action films I have seen. The story is clever and action packed. The photography is amazing, and the music is fantastic.
I was not disappointed by the stunt work, and the action and chase sequences are as exciting as any I have seen.
The characters are well-defined and engaging.
The female lead deserves particular mention, since Ilsa Faust is a wonderful blend of intelligence, beauty and strength, and definitely an action figure to watch out for.
Overall, this film offers everything you want in an action movie. Definitely a 'must see'!

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Killing Monica (Candace Bushnell)

When P.J. Wallis, creator of peachy-skinned, button-nosed good-time girl Monica (of 'Monica: a girl's guide to being a girl', its three sequels, and four movies) was christened Pandemonia, someone must have been looking into a crystal ball. She might have been born into faded elegance in a dilapidated mansion in the Hudson Valley, but after years of struggle, Pandy Wallis - the fabulously successful author - is cutting a swathe through Manhattan, leaving a trail of trashed pool clubs, shrieking girlfriends, and empty pink-champagne bottles in her wake. And then there are the men: if it is not movie star Doug Stone, with his chiselled jaw and megawatt smile, it is darkly glamorous celebrity chef husband Jonny Balaga, who brings some very specialised skills to Pandy's table.
But as a Monica billboard raises its head above the New York skyline, all is not well in P.J. Wallis' world. Jonny Balaga has sunk his teeth into her earnings, her loyal agent Henry is losing patience, and her soul sister, sidekick and saviour - actress SondraBeth Schnowzer (who also happens to play Monica) - has betrayed her. Worst of all, P.J. Wallis has had enough of her lucrative alter ego. Yearning to return to her roots, she dodges divorce lawyers, lightning strikes, and a giant revolving Lazy Susan. It begins to look like the only way out for Pandemonia is killing Monica - even if it kills her too.

Quote: "Pandy felt an unpleasant click and realized that she was jealous. This was not good. It had taken but one kiss to stir up all those scrambled feelings of being in love with Doug - feelings that she rationally knew weren't real, but which were capable of causing pain nonetheless."

My thoughts on this book: Firstly, let me say that I like Bushnell's sharp, satirical style in general. I loved all her previous books.
However, there are some issues with this one:
All the characters are despicable. The lead, Pandy, is a selfish party girl who rushes from crisis to crisis and falls victim to the 'why me' syndrome. Her best friend is kind of a trailer trash heroine who does not seem like someone any of us would want in our lives for long.
The Monica fans are portrayed as mobs of women mindlessly loving the perfect Monica and refusing to accept anything but more of the same from PJ.
After all the recent gay right issues, a transgendered character is thought to be in Amsterdam in order to cover the secret that she is now a man. I mean, this is 2015! Move with the times!
If only we had a reason for such secrecy... but we do not!
And finally, there seems to be a lot missing from the story. Who is Monica? Why is she so delightful?
Even Lady Wallis (the reason for her recent novel) is disposed of in two lines so that the author can cram in surrealistic scenes of crazed fans, drunken vacation fights, a very confusing section where the heroine goes back and forth on pretending to be her own sister - depending on the person she is talking to -, and some scene where her husband gets punished in the end, which I kind of skipped, not knowing what was actually happening there.
There were parts where Candace Bushnell seemed to go back to her routes of good-writing, P.J.'s feelings about being a singleton and her falling in love with Jonny, but that did not last very long.
Overall, I was very disappointed.

Trainwreck (Directed by Judd Apatow; Written by Amy Schumer)



Since she was a little girl, it has been drilled into Amy's head by her rascal of a dad that monogamy is not realistic. Now a magazine writer, Amy lives by that credo - enjoying a life free from boring romantic commitment - but in reality, she is kind of in a rut. When Amy finds herself starting to fall for the subject of the new article she is writing, a charming and successful sports doctor named Aaron Conners, this trainwreck starts to wonder if other grown-ups may be on to something.



Starring: Colin Quinn, Devin Fabry, Carla Oudin, Amy Schumer, John Cena, Vanessa Bayer, Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, Brie Larson, Bill Hader, LeBron James, Daniel Radcliffe, Marisa Tomei, Matthew Broderick

My thoughts on this film: Amy Schumer is a very likeable comedian. Her scenes are replete with comedic undertones and most of the humour is brainy, personal, and sweet.
If you are not into seeing scenes of fully nude bodies, like wrestler Jon Cena making love to Amy, this is too gross and vulgar for you. However, it sets the film up to show an otherwise likeable and successful girl who just wants to get it all in. Live the full NY experience. But a little too full. Amy works and has to come up with stories for a Men's magazine that is nothing but crude.
Tilda Swinton is completely unrecognisable as the also funny Head of the magazine.
Amy drinks and is pretty much out of control, wanting no future entanglements with any man. This is all in contrast to her sister, who is married to a nerdy guy, but lovable, decent, and happy to be a stepmother to her husband's son, who is a character himself.
The story is also led by LeBron, who can act as naturally as any actor I have seen - well, he is acting as himself.
The humour in this story seems natural, although Amy relies on one-liners.
Overall, it is nothing out-of-this-world, but a good laugh and a good time!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

R.I.P. Cecil the Lion

I cannot help but wonder what is this world we live in?
Killing animals for sport, for pleasure, for an adventure, or even for their fur is simply disgusting and distressing. There is no justification in indulging in such acts of violence.
Cecil's killers have the same blame as if they had just killed a person. I would not say they should have the same ending, but bring them to court, try them as serial killers, which is exactly what they are.
My heart goes out to this poor, beautiful animal and all the others killed by such heartless monsters, who cannot find a purpose for their own life, so they have to destroy innocent, defenceless creatures in order to feel more manly.
Let us hope some good can come from this.

Here is the best speech I heard about this tragedy, given by Jimmy Kimmel, although there is one thing I must correct: that dentist/serial killer is not the most hated man in America, but the most hated man in the world!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mr. Holmes (Directed by: Bill Condon; Written by: Mitch Cullin and Jeffrey Hatcher)

The story is set in 1947, following a long-retired Holmes living in a Sussex village with his housekeeper and rising detective son. But then he finds himself haunted by an unsolved 50-year-old case. Holmes' memory is not what it used to be as he only remembers fragments of the case: a confrontation with an angry husband and a secret bond with his beautiful but unstable wife.

Starring: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hattie Morahan, Patrick Kennedy, Philip Davis, Frances de la Tour, Takako Akashi, Zak Shukor, John Sessions, Michael Culkin

My thoughts on this film: It is a delightful movie, filled with humour and sadness, as Mr. Holmes revisits his last case and finds that his memory is not quite what it used to be. He has retired to his cottage by the sea and taken up the well-known hobby of beekeeping - or apiculture. Living with him is his housekeeper, Mrs. Munro, and her son, Roger, a precocious young boy. The on-screen dynamic between these three is astonishing.
The sets are detailed with precision, the scenery is gorgeous, and the cinematography is stunning. The score is perfect and captures the sentiment of the scenes with finesse.
This is a very different kind of Sherlock Holmes story. It is sentimental without being over the top and I believe it is a fair representation of the greatest detective in fictional history.
I recommend it highly, but do not expect a 'Robert Downey Jr.' type of action.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ant-Man (Directed by: Peyton Reed; Written by: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby)

Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, to protect the secret behind the spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Pym and Lang must fight all obstacles and save the world.

Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Abby Ryder Fortson, Michael Peña, John Slattery

Why I loved this film: I must confess that I had never read or even heard of Ant-Man until now.
Having said this, I should add that I found Paul Rudd brilliant - as he usually is in funny roles - and very believable in this action-packed movie. Michael Douglas was also great. Overall, it was well-cast.
The action was superb, it kept my attention level up at all times, and I particularly loved seeing the world from the same point of view as 'little Ant-Man'. The images were just amazing!
Overall, I found this to be a funny film that will keep you in suspense throughout. A good delivery from Marvel!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Monogram Murders (Sophie Hannah)

Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.
Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at the fashionable Bloxham Hotel have been murdered, a cufflink placed in each one's mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman?
While Poirot struggles to put together the pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim...

Quote: "I did not want to talk about the Bloxham Murders ever again. What I wanted - needed - was to write about them, to set down on paper every detail of what had happened. It mystified me that I was so eager to do the latter and so reluctant to undertake the former. Why should writing about a thing be so different from speaking about it?"

Why this book speaks to me: I was happily surprised. This story captures the spirit and voice of Agatha Christie as I remember with a little touch of the 21st century.
As sceptical as I was at first, I really enjoyed it. However, I am no Hercule Poirot expert.
Overall, a good read!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Terminator Genisys (Directed by: Alan Taylor; Written by: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier, James Cameron, and Gale Anne Hurd)

When John Connor, leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor and safeguard the future, Sgt. Reese finds himself in a new and unfamiliar version of the past, where he is faced with unlikely allies, dangerous new enemies, and an unexpected new mission: To reset the future...

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi, Matt Smith, Courtney B. Vance

Why I loved this film: I was afraid it would be another flop of a sequel, but I must say that Arnold has not lost his touch!
The story was continued from the last two movies with a lot of new special effects added to the equation, and the one-liners were just as brilliant (not forgetting the everlasting I'll Be Back)!
I was entertained throughout the whole film. It was intense and action-packed and the acting was good. The relationship between Sarah Connor and the Terminator really reminded me of the relationship between John Connor (Edward Furlong) and the Terminator in the second movie, which added a lot of depth to the story.
Overall, it was a great surprise! Worth seeing for all Terminator fans!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Magic Mike XXL (Directed by Gregory Jacobs; Written by Reid Carolin)


Three years after Mike bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, he and the remaining Kings of Tampa hit the road to Myrtle Beach to put on one last blow-out performance.


Starring: Channing Tatum, Juan Piedrahita, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Carrie Anne Hunt, Crystal Hunt, Amber Heard, Lindsey Moser, Stephen Boss, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael Strahan, Donald Glover, Kimberley Drummond, Andie MacDowell, Jane McNeill, Rhoda Griffis, Ann Hamilton, Elizabeth Banks

My thoughts on this film: I am no prude and I really liked the first Magic Mike, so I was hoping to see the same kind of guilty pleasure with some good moves. Forget it. These guys just used their nice bodies in a showy and uninteresting way with very little classy dancing.
I found the storyline to be corny, sleazy, and overall silly (not to say stupid). I almost walked out in the middle.
The first Magic Mike was great. This one... not so much!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Ted 2 (Seth MacFarlane)

Newlywed couple Ted and Tami-Lynn want to have a baby, but in order to qualify to be a parent, Ted will have to prove that he is a person in a court of law.

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, Giovanni Ribisi, Morgan Freeman, Patrick Warburton, Liam Neeson

Why I loved this film: When I first heard there was going to be a Ted sequel I had my doubts. Sequels are never as good as the first movie. Well, was I wrong...
This is extremely well-written and - in the middle of all the jokes - it makes you think about what it really means to be a person.
Out of all the jokes, my favourite one had to be the F. Scott Fitzgerald gag, but I will not spoil the movie, so you will have to see it for yourselves.
However, I love the fact that under all the F-jokes there is a real message you can take home.
The sequel is less funny than the first Ted but just as sweet and worth seeing.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

While we're young (Noah Baumbach)


A middle-aged couple's career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives.


Starring Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller, Maria Dizzia, Adam Horovitz, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried


My thoughts on this film: The movie does indeed have a good start - Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play their roles well and make lots of good points regarding how we can sometimes be unhappy with our past decisions and our lives. It also captures the present changes between people who live for their kids and those who do not have any, and how they see one another.
However, 'While We're Young' left me a little disappointed in the end, since something seems to be missing. To put it bluntly, the trailer looked better than the exact film.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Mistress (James Patterson & David Ellis)

As Ben Casper watches his best friend plummet from her sixth-floor apartment balcony, he realises his life is about to change. Diana had no reason to kill herself, she had to have been pushed.
Diana worked for the CIA, so the investigation into her death is kept tightly under wraps. But Ben is a political journalist and can feel that something is not right.
Casper starts investigating for himself and soon discovers that Diana was leading a double life he knew nothing about. But when more people involved die in questionable circumstances it becomes clear that someone does not want the truth to be uncovered.

Quote: "I mean, in The Firm, one of the henchmen, the one who killed Gary Busey and the lawyers in the Caymans, and who tried to kill Tom Cruise - that guy was an albino. If you were going to pick someone to anonymously carry out your wet work, would you choose an albino? Anybody, but anybody, could identify him: Well, let's see... don't remember much, 'cept, oh, yeah, he had white hair and red eyes and was completely pale."

My thoughts on this book: I normally enjoy James Patterson books. I find them to be easy, quick reads, filled with suspense. But this one was awful. The characters were under developed, silly, and annoying. The constant thoughts running through the main character's mind became distracting and irritating, and the events were so far fetched they bordered on laughable. I could not wait to finish it. Not at all worth reading.
Maybe it is just me, but I find that he has made a turn for the worst in his recent books. Perhaps Mr. Patterson should consider publishing fewer quality books per year rather than a lot of bad ones.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Woman in Gold (Directed by Simon Curtis; Written by Alexi Kaye Campbell, E. Randol Schoenberg, and Maria Altmann)

Maria Altmann sought to regain a world famous painting of her aunt plundered by the Nazi during World War II. She did so not just to regain what was rightfully hers, but also to obtain some measure of justice for the death, destruction, and massive art theft perpetrated by the Nazi.

Starring: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Tatiana Maslany, Max Irons, Antje Traue, Elizabeth McGovern, Frances Fisher, Moritz Bleibtreu, Tom Schilling, Allan Corduner, Henry Goodman, Nina Kunzendorf

Why I loved this film: The responsibility of the film-maker when the project is 'based on a true story' is elevated when that same story has significant historical relevance and blends such elements as art, identity, justice and international law. Add to those the quest of a remarkable woman whose family was ripped apart by the Nazi, and more than a history lesson, it becomes a poignant personal story.
Helen Mirren portrays Maria Altmann, the woman who emigrated to the United States by fleeing her Austrian homeland during World War II and leaving behind her beloved family, as well as all possessions. After the death of her sister, Mrs. Altmann becomes aware of the family artwork stolen by the Nazi during the invasion. This is not just any artwork, but multiple pieces from famed Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, including the 'Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer'. See, Adele was Maria's aunt, and the stunning piece (with gold leaf accents) has become 'the Mona Lisa of Austria' while hanging for decades in the state gallery.
The story revolves around Maria partnering with family friend and upstart attorney Randol Schoenberg to take on the nation of Austria and reclaim the extremely valuable artwork that was seized illegally so many years ago. They are aided in their mission by an Austrian journalist who is fighting his own demons. The seven-year legal saga is condensed for the big screen and we follow Maria and Randol as they meet with the Austrian art reclamation committee, a federal judge, the U.S. Supreme Court, and finally a mediation committee back in Austria. But this is not really a courtroom drama, it is a personal quest for justice and search for identity. The role that family roots and history play in turning us into who we are today as seen through the eyes of a woman who has survived what most of us can only imagine.
Director Simon Curtis uses startling flashbacks to provide glimpses of Maria's childhood, her marriage and subsequent escape. We get to know her family and realise the impact of the Nazi takeover in their lives.
Helen Mirren delivers yet another exceptional performance and manages to pull off the snappy lines while also capturing the emotional turmoil Mrs. Altmann endures.
I must also warn the more sensitive souls to bring your tissues as you may be weeping in the end.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Tomorrowland (Brad Bird)

Bound by a shared destiny, a bright teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a dangerous mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space they know as Tomorrowland.

Starring: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Robinson, Pierce Gagnon, Judy Greer

My thoughts on this film: Maybe expectations were too high due to the trailer. Maybe it was more aimed at children than I expected or wanted it to be. However, this does not excuse the fact that the pacing was incredibly slow and the unbelievably idiotic moral of the story. Yes, the world is going to hell, but I am sure there are better ways to get the point across. Acting was good, though, and it was great to see Hugh Laurie back. Filming was also good, but I must confess that I was bored most of the time.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Un village presque parfait (Directed by Stéphane Meunier; Written by Djamel Bensalah, Josselyn Bossennec, Jérôme L'hotsky, and Ken Scott)

Saint-Loin-la-Mauderne is a small village that no one cares about, with no money or employment. They hope to bring back the factory, but there is a slight problem: insurance companies require a resident doctor. Led by their charismatic mayor, the villagers will do anything to convince a Parisian doctor that Saint-Loin-la-Mauderne is the best place in the world!

Starring: Didier Bourdon, Lorànt Deutsch, Lionnel Astier, Denis Podalydès, Elie Semoun, Carmen Maura, Annie Grégorio, Armelle, Pierre Ménès

Why I loved this film: I think French films are taking over our cinemas and this is yet another example of European movies becoming more enjoyable than the 'seen-it-all-before' Hollywood flicks. I guarantee you will be laughing throughout the entire film, even though there are no computer techniques, stunts or violence. It is only a hilarious movie that is fun to watch, and which revolves around a small village. It actually reminded me of my younger self and the summers I spent in my family's village.
A 'must watch' for the whole family!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Captive (Atom Egoyan)


Teenager Cassandra is taken and locked up unable to contact her family to let them know that she is still alive. Eight years later, her father, Matthew, is still being investigated by the police who are also trying to crack the bigger problem of crimes against children, Matthew's marriage has deteriorated and leads in the case are hard to come by. So much time has passed but so little has changed and it is going to be up to Matthew and Cassandra herself to repair the estranged family.

Starring: Kevin Durand, Alexia Fast, Mireille Enos, Rosario Dawson, Aidan Shipley, Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Peyton Kennedy

My thoughts on this film: It lets you know straight away what happens to the little girl and who the captor is. The entire movie is based on the parents working with what seem to be the best paedophile detectives ever assembled to look for their daughter. The film does this Pulp Fiction thing with the past and the present scenes flipping back and forth to tell the story, which I found a little disturbing - I like a story with a beginning, middle, and ending.
The movie was quite enjoyable throughout until the end. Suddenly, everything just seemed to naturally happen, and that is it! Movie done!
There was no build up or suspense to it at all. The rest of the movie was alright but the ending was very poor.
The acting was good, though. Nothing worth of an award, but the cast was good.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

The Humbling (Directed by: Barry Levinson; Written by: Buck Henry, Michal Zebede, and Philip Roth)

An aged and finished actor has his world turned upside down after he embarks on an affair with a lesbian.

Starring: Al Pacino, Greta Gerwig, Nina Arianda, Dylan Baker, Billy Porter, Kyra Sedgwick, Dianne Wiest, Li Jun Li, Derrick Arthur, Steve Rosen

My thoughts on this film: My first thought was to compare it with the currently Oscar-winner Birdman, since the plot seems to be going in the same direction: a washed-up actor who wants to salvage his career. However, this seems to be better written, with a better cast, and therefore better acting.
Having said all this, I would not go as far as calling it a comedy. A comedy should be aiming up and carrying on through the entire movie. This just feels like something you would watch to pass the time, with a few laughs now and then, bordering on 'pathetic' at times.
If you go and see it, expect to find something fun to watch but nothing extraordinary!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Furious Seven (Directed by: James Wan; Written by: Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson)

Dominic Torretto and his crew thought they had left the criminal mercenary life behind. They defeated an international terrorist named Owen Shaw and went their separate ways. But now, Shaw's brother, Deckard Shaw, is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw.

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky

Why I loved this film: It masterfully displays just how deep the values of family and honour are embedded within the Furious characters.
I must also confess that I was very curious about the results regarding Paul Walker (R.I.P.) and that, being such a movie maniac, I would be able to tell which was the real thing and which were stunt-doubles. Well, I was wrong, which just goes to show how brilliant cinematic technology has become, as well as all the masterminds behind it! Well done Mr. Wan and company!
This movie really deserves to be seen for all the possible reasons. Whether you are a fan or not, there is no denying that Furious Seven will take you on a roller-coaster of a ride, visually and emotionally (yes, I left the cinema with tears in my eyes), culminating in an enthralling movie that will live on in fans' hearts.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Papa ou maman (Directed by: Martin Bourboulon; Written by: Guillaume Clicquot de Mentque, Matthieu Delaporte, Jérôme Fansten, and Alexandre de La Patellière)



Florence and Vincent Leroy are getting a divorce. However, they have both been promoted at work and their children will be a burden, so they declare war on each other against full custody.


Starring: Laurent Lafitte, Marina Foïs, Alexandre Desrousseaux, Anna Lemarchand, Achille Potier, Judith El Zein, Michaël Abiteboul, Vanessa Guide


My thoughts on this film: It served its main purpose, which was to make an audience laugh; however, I left the cinema with an uneasy feeling, like something was missing. I am still figuring out what it is that should have been there in order for this movie to be 100% funny and brilliant...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Daddy's gone a-hunting (Mary Higgins Clark)

Hannah Connelly, a young designer and rising star in the fashion world, is plunged into a nightmare beyond imagination when she learns that the family business founded by her grandfather has been levelled by a huge explosion in the middle of the night.
The ashes reveal a startling discovery and provoke a host of suspicions and questions. Could the explosion have been deliberately set? And what was Kate, Hannah's older sister, doing in the building in the middle of the night?
With Kate lying in hospital in a coma, it is down to Hannah to discover what truly happened on that tragic night. But little does she know that someone will do anything they can to prevent Kate from regaining consciousness and revealing the truth.

Quote: "When the tourists saw that crummy old jacket, they felt sorry for him. The dollars they would drop in his cap added up. He had to get rid of the poncho and cut holes in those new warm, heavy pants. He felt like a baby seal in them, a nice, warm, contented baby seal. People liked baby seals but they didn't feel sorry for them."

Why this book speaks to me: I had never read any books by Mary Higgins Clark but this title pulled me and I was not disappointed at all. The story has a tight plot, twists and turns, and it is full of suspense.
The first half of the book is a bit slow and it makes you wonder why you are reading it. However, in the later half Clark put everything together nicely. There was enough suspense to keep me glued to the book for hours. It was hard for me to put it down until I had finished reading the whole thing.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Samba (Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano)

Samba migrated to France ten years ago from Senegal, and has since been plugging away at various lowly jobs. Alice is a senior executive who has recently undergone a burnout. Both struggle to get out of their dead-end lives. Samba is willing to do whatever it takes to obtain working papers, while Alice tries to get her life back on track, until fate draws them together.

Starring: Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Tahar Rahim, Hélène Vincent, Youngar Fall, Christiane Millet, Jacqueline Jehanneuf, Liya Kebede, Sabine Pakora

Why I loved this film: Samba is a French romantic comedy. What I like about this movie is that it is not so cheesy and over the top like many Hollywood productions. Samba is a very personal film. The characters are every day people with every day problems. It also picks up the migration issues in France, which makes it that much more interesting.
Overall, this film is perfect, romantic, funny, entertaining with a little bit of drama and social criticism. You definitely get your money's worth!

Friday, March 27, 2015

R.I.P. Luis Miguel Rocha

Hoje quero começar por fazer uma homenagem a um grande escritor que faleceu, ontem. O único escritor português com quem me identificava e a quem eu dei a alcunha de "Dan Brown português".
Luis Miguel Rocha tinha 39 anos e foi vítima de um estúpido a quem chamam de cancro.
Nestas alturas, damos por nós a pensar na vida e a perguntar: porquê?
Sei que não existe altura certa ou errada, mas o Luis partiu cedo demais. Ainda tinha tanto para dar ao país e ao mundo (as suas obras encontram-se traduzidas).
A nossa cultura ficou, de facto, mais pobre.
Dito isto, apenas me resta a resignação de que nunca hei-de entender estas escolhas que a morte faz, mas é assim a vida...
Até sempre Luis Miguel Rocha!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bleeding Edge (Thomas Pynchon)


It is New York City in 2001 and fraud investigator Maxine Tarnow is on the case of billionaire geek CEO Gabriel Ice.
Standing in her way is an array of bloggers, hackers, code detectors, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Not to mention a drug runner in a motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler's aftershave, and a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues.
Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about, or brought to justice?

Quote: "At bedtime Ernie used to tell his daughters scary blacklist stories. Some kids had the Seven Dwarfs, Maxine and Brooke had the Hollywood Ten. The trolls and wicked sorcerers and so forth were usually Republicans of the 1950s, toxic with hate, stuck back around 1925 in almost bodily revulsion from anything leftward of capitalism, by which they usually meant keeping an increasing pile of money safe from the depredations of the IRS. Growing up on the Upper West Side, it was impossible not to hear about people like this."

My thoughts on this book: I decided to pick 'Bleeding Edge' because I felt curious about Thomas Pynchon after hearing so much about 'Inherent Vice', and since this is his most recent novel, I gave it a go. Well, maybe I am not ready for his books, or maybe he is just not ready to be read by someone like me!
I must confess that I had a difficult time following the narrative, staying invested in the heroine, and understanding the plot.
The characters seemed stereotypical and we get that Maxine is Jewish! There is no need to keep bringing it up every time you get a chance!
In the end, there is no real resolution, no big sigh.
Either I missed something or I really should be reading other types of books. I will not be giving Mr. Pynchon another chance any time soon!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Directed by John Madden; Written by Ol Parker)

Sonny has his eye on a promising property now that his first venture has only a single remaining vacancy. Evelyn and Douglas have joined the Jaipur workforce, and Norman and Carol are negotiating the tricky waters of an exclusive relationship, as Madge juggles two eligible and very wealthy suitors. Perhaps the only one who may know the answers is Muriel, the keeper of everyone's secrets.

Starring: Dev Patel, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, Tina Desai, Shazad Latif, Lillete Dubey, Tamsin Greig, Richard Gere

Why I loved this film: This movie allows you to reunite with an incredible cast and their charming characters, which I am sure are what made the first film such a hit. Sonny and Muriel are the highlight of the story for me, they are hilarious, no matter what. Although you do see a softer side to Muriel, which comes to a particularly emotional point at the end.
But the rest of the cast were as brilliant. When I first realised Richard Gere was going to be in it, I did not really see the point, but he showed that he can be just as funny as the others.
If you loved the first film (who hasn't) then you will enjoy this one.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Big Eyes (Directed by Tim Burton; Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski)

In the 1950s, Margaret is trying to make it on her own with only her daughter and paintings. She meets Walter Keane in a park while struggling to make an impact with her drawings of children with big eyes. The two quickly become a pair with outgoing Walter selling their paintings and quiet Margaret holed up at home painting even more children with big eyes. But Walter's actually selling her paintings as his own. A clash of financial success and critical failure soon sends Margaret reeling in a life of lies. With Walter still living the high life, she must try to make it on her own again and re-claim the ownership of the paintings.

Starring: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston, James Saito, Delaney Raye, Madeleine Arthur

Why I loved this film: I do not know enough about the real story on which this movie was based to tell whether this was a true statement, but I bought it. I really did!
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz were believable, and I must say that I absolutely love Krysten Ritter, she is one of those actresses that leave you wandering whether she ever stops acting in real life.
I read an interview where the real Margaret Keane claimed that "Walter was a little crazier" in real-life, which would explain the court bit, since I found it hard to believe that anyone would act in such a way. That is the part where I doubted whether this was really based on real-life events as the guy seemed completely out of his mind!
Overall, I loved every minute of this film and it made me curious about the real-life story and those paintings. As soon as I got home I had to look it up on Google.
I highly recommend this movie!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

87th ACADEMY AWARDS

Hosted by Neil Patrick Harris

Best actor in a Supporting role: J. K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Achievement in costume design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Achievement in makeup and hair styling: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best foreign language film: Ida (Poland)

Best live action short film: The phone call

Best documentary short subject: Crisis hotline: veterans press 1

Achievement in sound mixing: Whiplash

Achievement in sound editing: American Sniper

Best actress in a Supporting role: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Achievement in visual effects: Interstellar

Best animated short film: Feast

Best animated feature film: Big Hero 6

Achievement in production design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Achievement in cinematography: Birdman

Achievement in film editing: Whiplash

Best documentary feature: Citizenfour

Best original song: Glory (Selma)

Best original score: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best original Screenplay: Birdman

Best adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game

Achievement in directing: Alejandro González Iñarritu (Birdman)

Best actor in a leading role: Eddie Redmayne (The theory of everything)

Best actress in a leading role: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Best Picture: Birdman

That's all folks!

Boyhood (Richard Linklater)

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, this is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason, who literally grows up on screen before our eyes.

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Elijah Smith, Lorelei Linklater, Libby Villari, Ethan Hawke, Marco Perella, Jamie Howard

My thoughts on this film: What makes this movie so unique and touching is its deep humanity. Although it is a fictional piece, you cannot help but relate to the actors as if you were watching a documentary. Every scene feels like real life.
The actors deliver an outstanding performance - there are so many scenes where you feel unbelievably close to them - and the dialogues seem completely natural.
I would not give this an Oscar considering other nominated movies, but it is definitely worth of a nomination!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Hive (Gill Hornby)

Welcome to St. Ambrose Primary School. A world of friendships, fights, and feuding. And that is just the mothers. Meet Beatrice, undisputed queen bee; Heather, desperate to volunteer, desperate to be noticed, and desperate to just belong; Georgie, desperate for a fag; and Rachel, once Bea's best friend, now dumped for no good reason.

Quote: "It's a beautiful place. Full of great people. It had been one of the best mornings she'd had for ages. She loved it when everyone was in the same boat, pulling together, all going in the same direction. And she loved it most when she was actually in there with them. Too often in her life, she'd had that feeling that everyone was indeed in the same boat but she was clinging on to the edge at the back somewhere, not quite able to scramble on board, getting cold and wet."

Why this book speaks to me: It is the start of another school year at St. Ambrose, but while the children are in class, their mothers are learning sharper lessons on the other side of the school gates. Lessons in friendship and lessons in betrayal.
I found this novel to be warm, witty and true. Wickedly funny, but also a fascinating and subtle story of group politics and female friendship.
Nothing out of the extraordinary but a good read!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Still Alice (Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland, and Lisa Genova)


Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested.



Starring: Julianne Moore, Kate Bosworth, Shane McRae, Hunter Parrish, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Stephen Kunken


My thoughts on this film: Still Alice tells the story of a Columbia professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. Just like any disease, your fight is as strong as your support system. Well, Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin's performances are strong, but unfortunately the same cannot be said about their support system.
However, I loved the storyline and did not get bored for a single minute, but I do wish the ending had been different, it felt like something was missing.
Overall, I give this movie a 50/50 rating.

Monday, February 02, 2015

This house is haunted (John Boyne)



It is 1867. On a dark and chilling night Eliza Caine arrives in Norfolk to take up her position as governess at Gaudlin Hall. As she makes her way across the station platform, a pair of invisible hands push her into the path of an approaching train. She is only saved by the vigilance of a passing doctor.
It is the start of a journey into a world of abandoned children, unexplained occurrences and terrifying experiences, which Eliza will have to overcome if she is to survive the secrets that lie within Gaudlin's walls...



Quote: "I want to scream at them, I want to run and shake them, I want to look them squarely in their faces and say, you knew, you knew even then. Why didn't you say something? Why didn't you speak?"

Why this book speaks to me: I am a huge fan of John Boyne and I have been looking for this book for a very long time. This said, nothing about it was disappointing, au contraire. I particularly liked the secrecy surrounding the Westerley family and how the village conspired to cover up the truth. Eliza is also likeable and believable enough that you do truly care about what happens to her.
This book is engaging, sometimes extremely creepy, and definitely worth reading - speaking from the point of view of a ghost story fan. I really enjoyed This House is Haunted and if you share my passion for such storytelling, then you need to include it on your to-read list.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Theory of Everything (Directed by: James Marsh; Written by: Jane Hawking and Anthony McCarten)

The Theory of Everything is the story of the most brilliant and celebrated physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking, and Jane Wilde - the arts student he fell in love with whilst studying at Cambridge in the 1960s. Little was expected from Stephen Hawking, a bright but shiftless student of cosmology, given just two years to live following the diagnosis of a fatal illness at 21 years of age. He then married fellow Cambridge student, Jane Wilde, and went on to become the successor of Einstein, as well as a husband and father to three children. Over the course of their marriage, as Stephen's body collapsed, fault lines were exposed that tested their relationship and dramatically altered the course of both their lives.

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Harry Lloyd, Alice Orr-Ewing, David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Charlie Cox

Why I loved this film: Those who go into 'The Theory of Everything' looking for an elaborate account on Stephen Hawking's work and the method behind it may be in for a bit of a letdown as this story mostly focuses on Hawking's long marriage and relationship with his wife, Jane, who wrote the book on which the film is based on. It focuses heavily on the relationship between Stephen and Jane and the hardships they had to deal with due to his disease. Eddie Redmayne does a phenomenal job here. He starts out as a shy, somewhat nerdy student who has a fair bit of humour to him as well as a love of education and finding out the big questions and answers to the universe. As his illness progresses over the years, we see how hard it is for him to move, speak and just do everyday things, whereas he is eventually confined to a wheelchair and speaking through a computer. Redmayne's performance is so believable and wonderful. This year's Oscars are going to be very competitive with another of the year's best performances. Felicity Jones, who plays Jane, is just as good. While the role is not as demanding physically, it is more demanding emotionally as we see her totally devote herself to all of Stephen's every waking needs and going out of her way to care for him. It really made me see a side to Jane that I had no idea about, it made me think that not many women would be up for what she went through.
When the film first started out, I thought it would be a fairly safe and 'ok to watch' movie, but it really took me by surprise at how interesting I found these characters and their lives. The film has an excellent pace to it and its biographical style works well. It really is an inspirational and feel good movie. It gives us hope and encouragement, as Stephen Hawking's famous words state that 'while there is life there is hope'!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

American Sniper (Directed by: Clint Eastwood; Written by: Jason Hall, Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, and James Defelice)


Chris Kyle was nothing more than a Texan man who wanted to become a cowboy, but in his thirties he found out that maybe his life needed something different, something where he could express his real talent, something that could help America in its fight against terrorism. So he joined the SEALs in order to become a sniper. After marrying, Kyle and the other members of the team are called for their first tour of Iraq. Kyle struggles with the reality of the war and, once returned home, tries to adapt to his urban life, wife and kids.


Starring: Bradley Cooper, Keir O'Donnell, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Sienna Miller, Brando Eaton, Mido Hamada, Sam Jaeger, Ryan Sadaghiani, Ayman Samman, Jonathan Groff

Why I loved this film: This was quite possibly one of the greatest military movies I ever watched. The writing was just brilliant, from the witty remarks to the expressions of pure suspense, Bradley Cooper brought complete life to the role of Chris, a father, a husband, and an American hero. The visual effects were also stunning and believable as well as the sound. At some points, it felt like you were actually on the battlefield. The suspense that they built was captivating and it kept me on the edge of my seat.
In spite of my views on war and arms, I have to say that this man's story was worth knowing about and had me thinking about it long after the ending. I mean, the irony of a man leaving his wife and kids to save a country and his fellow SEALs, almost dying in battle, barely making it out alive, going through hell to adapt to the 'real' life in the States, only to be killed close to home by a crazy war veteran.
By the end, I was left stunned with a mixture of emotions.
This is another Oscar-worthy movie to watch!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Imitation Game (Directed by Morten Tyldum; Written by Andrew Hodges and Graham Moore)


Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, this film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers during the darkest days of World War II.

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Tom Goodman-Hill, Steven Waddington

Why I loved this film: This is a true story, sympathetically told, with brilliant performances all round and a stand-out Turing from the Oscar-worthy Benedict Cumberbatch. Meandering through Alan Turing's life since school until shortly before his death, the script will have your attention as well as a mixture of emotions, it had me smiling shortly before my eyes filled with tears.
Overall, I highly recommend it!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Private L.A. (James Patterson & Mark Sullivan)

Jack Morgan is having a bad week. His twin brother is up on a murder charge and determined to frame him for the crime, and one of Jack's clients has just called to report the burnt bodies of four surfers on his beach.
But what seems like a random mugging gone wrong soon reveals something far worse - a killer calling themselves No Prisoners is holding the city to ransom. And there is more bad news: Hollywood's golden couple, Thom and Jennifer Harlow, have been kidnapped, along with their adopted children.
It looks like the whole world is about to discover whether Private are really as good as they say they are...

Quote: "We are the sum of our thoughts. What you choose to dwell on will dictate your emotions."

My thoughts on this book: There were two completely unrelated story lines, while the No Prisoners took main stage, the Hollywood couple only seemed to serve as a gap filler when nothing else was going on, to the extent where not much thought seemed to have gone to the ending leaving me wondering 'is this it?'. I also could not help reading Brad and Angelina every time this second story came up. However, it did seem to depict the type of scandal found in Hollywood, where celebrities are placed on a pedestal and their craft is put above morals. Then there was the Justine storyline... Very actual and I guess it hit home where a woman is left wondering about her own morals after having been led on by a good looking guy, and starts putting her own life and future into perspective. Will she be alone forever? Definitely something we single ladies tend to think about. Plus the whole workout scenario. I really related more to Justine in this book than in any other book of the Private collection.
It was also fun to read while spending my holidays in Mexico. It made me feel closer to the story.
Overall, I liked what was done with the No Prisoners but felt that the Hollywood couple lacked a little more of a storyline.