Wednesday, 31 January 2007

The Queen - Stephen Frears

Have watched this movie twice now - once while baby-sitting the adorable Freddy and then at a BAFTA screening at Chez Butch. Wasn't too surprised that HM bagged so many awards, the transformation is startling and complete. HRH should be really chuffed that her image has been given such a sexy injection with HM. But, (and there's always one on this blog) - the humor and the oddity of the family and it's place in the British public's consciousness is debated and but never really taken apart. Yes, there's the cry that the Queen represents all things quintessentially 'British' stoicism, tradition, stiff-upper lip etc but I everyone else in the world sees the British monarchy as a huge pantomime, glossed up figures behind a glass showcase. At times, the movie felt as if it owed a debt to the Spiltting Image series, Philip ranting about how the 'Tea's gone cold'. In essence the popularity of the film just shows how fascinated people are by the idea of monarchy - when will this nation get to grips with modernity and step closer towards a republic!

Monday, 29 January 2007


Pretty disappointed with JC's latest efforts - the premise was orginally quite enticing given that it's like Malory Towers or St Clare's for adults. But there's only so much interest you can gather for tales of youngsters bonking their hearts out. It was also pretty disturbing that the central plot twist involved the breaking of a peadophile ring - dark stuff for something that's supposed to be frothy reading! Am now truly convinced that JC's target audience is the Daily Mail brigade - I feel a little bit cheated.

On another note, I'm thinking of subscribing to an on-line audio book subscription. That way, I'll be able to knit and 'read' books at the same time - genius!

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Ballet 101

Ordered this off Amazon for the massive sum of 67p - the postage was 3 times that price. It's extremely factual giving you the history and information about the various schools but very useful indeed. Still plodding on with Wicked! though my interest in it is slowly ebbing away.

Monday, 15 January 2007

The Shipping News by Lasse Hallstrom

Pretty depressing and heavy at certain points but great all-round performances. Cate Blanchett played against type as a nasty, horrid mother and Kevin Spacey too as a timid & shy loser. Laughed out loud at some points; essentially at the sensationalists headlines. I've had this book for a while (before it was made into a movie) but have never got round to reading it. Movies based on books you've already read seem slightly diminished. They're both such different mediums that you can't impose any comparisions - I love the visual aspect of movies, the nuances that aren't spelt out in black and white but when you have a good grasp of how the plot is going to unfold you loose a slight bit of interest because you not as engaged in the narrative. Read Brokeback Mountain and then watched the film pretty dispassionately. I guess when you read the book first, your mind is untainted with images of places and people who never look as ugly or normal as they were described.

Have started on 'Perfume' but have deliberately stopped as a crucial part because I don't want to loose that element of curiousity when I watch the film. Also indulging in a bit of trashy reading - Wicked by Jilly Cooper (such a big tome that I've allocated it as home reading for practical reasons). Lighter, shorter and pithier for tube journeys, I've got 'Labyrinths' by Jorge Louis Borges.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

Read Brighton Rock when I was a young, voracious reader but this little novel is a mature treatise on the nature of love, desire and jealousy. Structurally surprising, it is a story about a story and written by a writer (Greene) writing about a writer (Bendricks). The self-conscious narrator in the first half of the book speaks with the twisted hatred of a male lover betrayed and abandoned. This is replaced convincingly by the feminine perspective voiced through the intimate medium of diary entries (perhaps borrowed from Joyce's 'Ulysses'?). The end of the affair, secretive by nature occurs half-way through the book when the tryst is revealed and confessed hence bringing about the demise of its existence. The Affair in the title alludes of the sexual liason but also to life as a trivial inconvenience. It examines the tension bewteen extremes such as God versus the Devil, good versus evil and love versus jealousy and asks whether such boundaries exists. Both Bendricks and Sarah suffer a crisis of faith in their own manner - and was as passionate as Richard Dawkins in its indictment of organised religion. Well written and an inciteful multi-layered view on adultery.

This is all part of my big book-reading campaign for 2007 and I'm hoping that Bookcrossing will help. Was originally aiming for 50 books by December 2007 but that equates to roughly a book a week which is going to be pretty ambitious when I've got so many ECA's this year!

Thursday, 4 January 2007

This Other Life

Like most of the UK's 30-something, telly-watching populace the prospect of This Life + 10 was simply too intriguing. A symptom of the Friends Reunited syndrome. Yes, the characters still hadn't changed much and could swear and bitch for England but surely that's the deep-seated fear that we all have within us. That life and life lessons have taught us nothing, that we repeat the same mistake unable to escape our own demons and weaknesses. This Life was groundbreaking in the 90s for its content and style. I was a little too young to completely identify with the characters then but I suspected then that this is how we were headed, that we'd be a disaffected, unhappy, navel-gazing lot caught up in the trite minutaie of trivial anxieties. It was never 'real' or edgy (for that 'Shameless' pushes more buttons), you never believed that they were really lawyers, just young people in LA Law style pretending and blagging their way through their jobs much like what we all do. In any case, my post-uni life was more 'Gimme Gimme Gimme' than anything else!

What followed 'This Life' was 'The Thick of it' - what a sublime show, the blinking politician on Paxman was hilarious. This programme and Radio 4 justifies the BBC's license fee - I just wished the Beeb would produce more programmes of this calibre.

Have also become a BookCrosser and it's strange how I'm so thrilled. It feels slightly subversive as well, like we're secret book spies passing on intelligence to fellow reading counterparts. Dropped off 'Dracula' and 'The Beach' both of which should give the new readers some joy and entertainment. Hope that they provide a bit of a surprise to someone's day and that they don't end up in TfL's 'Lost and Found' section! Was planning on dropping off a whole loads of books to the local charity shop but I suspect they'll just languish there for ages waiting to be picked up by a browser.

I'm making it my mission this year to read all the untouched books on my shelf so hopefully this will prompt me to get through them quicker so that I can BC them.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Christmas crackers ... and whimpers!

Thanks to the lovely Craig from Iknit, I brought Wood and Phil to watch 'Caroline, or Change' for the princely sum of £10 and we were 5 rows from the stage, absolutely amazing seats and I cried,.. (again!)

Besides stuffing myself silly with mum and dad's yummylicious food, I also had a bit of a filmic galore and watched;

- all 3 'Lord of the Rings'
although due to the fact that baby Alex aka Gollum was asleep - we had to watch it at half the volume which meant that I watched a lot more closely due to not being able to listen. Very strange experience indeed.

- The Da Vinci Code
TH had such dumb hair and the plot was as convoluted as a twisty thing which meant that you were riverted by the action. Did think that IMK was going to be a baddie though, in movie land, cripples normally turn out to have twisted and cruel intentions. Definitely spoof material.

-Memoirs of a Geisha
Hated the idea of this movie when I saw the initial trailers prior to its release but I realised that I had to actually watch the movie in order to have the grounds to diss it. I hate the Hollywood-isation of Orientals as mincing, passive and vapid and I don't think this will help Japanese people break away from that stereotype. Hello? Hevn't they heard of Edward Said and 'Orientalism'?!Granted, this was a period movie but it was also about the objectification of women and say what you like but they were prostitutes - selling their virginity to the highest bidder and female escorts at the end of the day. This just seemed to glorify the whole seedy business and was very much shot with a male gaze. Dire, superficial stuff - thought Gong Li was marvellous, they made Michelle Yeoh look bovine and Zhang Ziyi was vapid. Preferred the both of them in the Chinese Action movies when they really kicked ass instead of fluttering their sleeves (puke, gag). Again, up for spoofing!

-Pirates of the Carribean
Ahhhhh, Johnny Depp - always a pleasure

Cheesy, tacky but oh so tragic when you thought about poor old Christopher Reeves. Brought a lump to my throat.

-Life of Brian
Will never tire of it, Michael Palin's hopping leper is probably one of my favourite characters of all time.

-The Great Escape
Steve McQueen yum yum, total top totty ensemble acting and no smaltzy love story in sight.

-Top Ten wild Dives with Tanya Streeter
Amazing, made me green with envy. Loved the footage of manatees, sea lions, whale sharks but best of all manta rays. Nothing would beat actually being immersed in water, think it's pretty hard for the camera to capture the beauty and pure silence of that world.