Saturday, March 31, 2007

The fantastic British comedy (unfairly compared to the far inferior American Pie) about two film students who set out to make a film called The Love Story and end up making a porn film of the same name staring the famous porn actress Candy Fiveways (Carmen Electra - Epic Movie and The Scary Movie series). Jimmy Carr (British comedien) pops up as a video store employee and Mackenzie Crook (The Office and Pirates of the Carribean).

This is a great film and although it deals with the dodgy side of the porn industry, there is no nudity in it (sorry boys). The actors who play the students are all great and I look forward to seeing more films with the three of them in. The story is fun and it is funny without being too much of a slapstick or gross out comedy which seem too popular these days. I recommend it to anyone with a sense of humour.

*** out of 5 and yes I want Candy!

300 - Film

This has been one of the most hyped films this year (apart from Grindhouse) and I was reluctant to go and see it having heard very mixed reports. It tells the tale of the 300 Spartans who take on the Persion army lead by Xerxes (the Diving King). The Spartans are lead by their King Leonidas (Gerald Butler) who was brought up with traditional Spartan hardships and challenges and who is married to Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey). He leads 300 of his best fighters who all leave behind sons bearing their names (which doesn't count as an army) so as not to violate the laws of the gods, to death and glory and to take as many Persian's as possibe to hell with them.

This is a film you need to see at the cinema to appreciate the scale of it. It is beautifully filmed with stunning visual effects. However, the plot is thin at best and the actors don't really get much of a chance to act (they are too busy pracing around in their pants with their manly chests bared to be bothered with such trivial matters). The other things that bothered me about this film were (a) the portayal as the bad black Persians with their piercings, deformaties and mystical ways and (b) once again Miller can only write woman who are whores (prostitues or waitresses) and cannot be strong in their own right. The best thing about it was David Wenham (Faramir from LOTR) who played the narrator and only Spartan to survive the Persian attack and had a lot more involvement in the story than Leonidas.

Overall **1/2 out of 5 as it left a bitter taste despite the prettiness.

This film is based on Jane Austin's life and stars Anne Hathaway (Brokeback Mountain and The Devil Wears Prada) as the central character. The main love interest Tom Lefoy is played by James McAvoy (Started for Ten and The Last King of Scotland) who I really liked. It follows Jane and her family as Jane is proposed to by a Mr Darcy like character and meets a Mr Wickham type character (Tom). Hard choices are faced and big decisions need to be made both by Jane and her sister Cassandra.

Unlike a lot of films in Hollywood, it doesn't really have a happy ending. It was an ok film, more for Austin fans and definately a chick flick. It tried to do for Austin what Shakespear in Love did for Shakespear, but doesn't quite get it right. I got quite a few of the references to her novels and probably the best thing about this film was it made me want to get her complete book of novels as I have only read Pride and Prejudice. I guess this mean it succeeded in what it set out to!

*** out of 5 overall.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Starring Jennifer Garner as the main character Gray who is coping with the death of her fiance on his stag-do. Luckily she has her friends to help her cope, played by Sam Jaeger and Kevin Smith (I love him even though he pretty much plays himself). Things take a turn for the worse when she finds a mobile phone her fiance had that she knew nothing about and his bank accounts don't add up. It seems she is only able to get to know him, and herself, once he has died. Spending time with Fitz (Timothy Olyphant) also adds to Grey's confusion and at the same time is the most healing influence on her.

I loved this film and will definately be buying it when it is out on dvd. It's funny how some films just touch you and you fall in love with them, without really knowing why. For me, this is one like Chasing Amy (funnily enough directed by Kevin Smith) and Almost Famous. It's also not a film you need to see in the cinema, it will translate really well to the small screen unlike something like 300. The acting is spot on and it is filmed beautifully. Juliette Lewis also stars in it about half way through and she is one of my favourite actresses.

Not for everyone, but personally I give it ***** out of 5

Monday, March 26, 2007

randomness...feed your mind and your blog Week of March 25: A Few of My Favorite Things what's your favorite.....

1. food - Spaghetti Bolognaise is my comfort food

2. movie - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but I love so many

3. song - At the moment it is Camille vs Fedde Le Grand : Creeps but will be different tomorrow

4. colour - Purple

5. outdoor activity - Walking in the park. I am more of an indoor kitty to be honest.

6. season - Autumn is the most beautiful and my birthday is in September.

7. book - Hmm a difficult one. I usually say LOTR by Tolkien but I really loved The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop as well.

8. store - Does Amazon count?

9. car - Jaguar XJS.

10. animal - Cat (moggies are the best, non of this pedigree posh malarky)

till next time....

Sunday, March 25, 2007

These tales were first published in 1835 and the edition I have has more than 80 of his stories in it translated into quaint Victorian English The edition I have also contains some beautiful fine ink drawings by A.W. Bayes.

They are interesting tales and are a lot sadder than I was expecting. I know fairy tales are often much more gruesome than is expected, but some of these were heart wrenching, particularly The Little Sea-Maid. Some of the tales were a bit random and one or two didn't make a lot of sense, but for the most part I really enjoyed them, despite a lot of the endings!

My favourites were: The Travelling Companion, The Little Sea-Maid, The Hardy Tin Soldier, The Wild Swans, The Snow Queen, The Flax and The Shadow. I am not sure though that I would read them to a young child, just because some of the endings are so sad that it might upset them. I can't wait to get around to reading the tales by The Brothers Grimm, Angela Carter and Jack Zipes!

**** out of 5

Sunday, March 18, 2007

First published in 1726 this book tells the tale of four of Gulliver's travels.1) Voyage to Lilliput where the people are only 6 inches tall2) Voyage to Brobdingnag where the people are giants3) Voyage to Laputa (the floating island), Balinibarbi (full of people in pursuit of science) and Glubbdubdrib (a place filled with enchanters and sorcerers who can raise the dead)4) The country of the Houyhnhnms (horses that rule the island and can speak their own language) where Yahoos (humans in their unevolved state) live as slaves.

It was a strange book. Gulliver really doesn't think much of lawyers, politicians and the role of woman in society besides being wives. He also spent a little too much time talking about excrement and other bodily functions. I also wasn't impressed with his attitude to the people in Brobdingnag who refused to learn about gunpowder and the art of war as our "civilised" country does it. I felt the most sorry for his poor wife and children, expecially when he returned from his last voyage.

It was an ok read, but I doubt I would read it again. It wasn't particularly well written and sadly didn't really engage me. I know it isn't to be taken literally and is more an allegory, but it still didn't really appeal.

** out of 5

Saturday, March 17, 2007

...and they were yummy! I made shortbread which I am sure is very easy, but it was my first time so I am a little over excited. It was a mission to get the butter creamy to be able to mix in the sugar and flour. I also had to improvise as I don't have a rolling pin. Some are a bit of a wonky shape, but the point is they taste delicious even if I do say so myself! Have only eaten two and put the rest in an air tight container for me and Alex to have tomorrow.

Will look forward to them. I wonder what to bake next...

Friday, March 16, 2007

I can't believe I have never read this book before! It was published in 1949 and is set in the future in 1984 in London. Much has changed and the world is divided into three massive powers who are constantly at war with each other: Oceania (Britain and USA), Eurasia (Russia and Europe) and Eastasia (China and Japan). The Party led by central figure Big Brother govern Oceania.

We follow WInston Smith as he secretly rebels against The Party and Big Brother. He does this by keeping a diary, hiding from his telescreen (which can be used to watch him as well as constantly putting out propoganda that people are unable to turn off), fornicating with fellow party member Julia and lastly joining The Brotherhood (a secret organisation dedicated to bringing down The Party). Of course Winston is caught by Big Brother and the Thought Police and is taken into custody at The Ministry of Love and tortured.

This book was fantastic yet frightening look at a possible future. It is a future we could be heading towards and there are some aspects that are true already. You can see why this book has spawned the ideas for so many other films and books. It can be applied to the different cultures that exist around the world at any time and I believe this book will be timeless.

****1/2 out of 5

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I saw this film today straight after The Number 23 (I love cinema afternoons!). This one had Edward Norton, Paul, Giamatti, Jessica Biel and Rufus Sewell starring as the main characters in this film about an illusionist and stage magician with supernatural powers. It was part period drama, part romance and part who-dunnit so a little for everyone!

Eisenheim (Norton) and fall in love with Sophie (Biel) when they are children despite her being a duchess and him being a peasant. He leaves to pursue his interest in magic and returns 15 years later to get the woman of his dreams. The problem is she is about to be engaged to the violent and cruel Crown Prince (Sewell) and he has the Chief of Police (Giamatti) try to shut Eisenheim down.

I really enjoyed this film but couldn't help comparing it to The Prestige in places even though they are actually quite different. The acting was great by all the main characters and in particular Giamatti who was the most in conflict with himself. The twist at the end I saw coming although not quite all the details, but it was still fun getting there and I liked the ending.

**** out of 5

Starring Jim Carey and Virginia Madsen, this psychological thriller follows Walter Sparrow when he is given a mysterious book by his wife on his birthday called The Number 23. It tells the story of Fingerling who is a detective in a film noir style that ends up killing the woman he loves and framing her new lover. Fingerling develops an obsession with the number 23 and starts to see it everywhere. He sees it just as 23 and then he starts to see patterns where the letters in his name add up to 23 etc.

The story starts to get intense as Walter recognises ideas from the story as being familiar from his own life and the number 23 starts to crop up everywhere from his birthday on February 3rd, his house number, his name etc. The story becomes more complicated with the addition of NED the dog who guards the dead and a girl who was murdered but her body was never found.

I enjoyed this film and loved the psycholoical aspects. Carey was really good playing Walter and Fingerling and I loved the tattoos he had whilst playing the detective. The twist at the end I wasn't so sure about, it seemed a bit random and whilst the rest was relatively believable the ending wasn't which let it down.

*** out of 5

Monday, March 12, 2007

This book contains four Greek tragedies that each concern a central character who was once powerful and has been brought down by betrayal, jealousy, guilt and the gods.

Medea (431BC) - Medea kills Creon (the King of Corinth), Glauce (his daughter) and her two sons by Jason. This is to cause Jason pain for leaving her for a second wife (Glauce). As a woman if her husband takes a second wife she is supposed to lump it and although killing her children is completely wicked and dispicable, she is sort of a feminist sticking up for herself and not wanting her husband to leave her. This was probably my favourite of the plays and is the most well known.

Hecabe (425BC) - Hecabe (the wife of Priam who was the King of Troy) blinds Polymestor and kills his two sons after he murdered her last living son Polydorus for his gold who he was supposed to be looking after. I can understand why she did this as she has already lost her husband, her other sons and all of her daughters except for Cassandra.

Electra (415BD) - Electra and her Brother Orestes kill their mother Clytemnestra aqnd her husbad Aegisthus because the two of them killed their father Agamemnon when he returns from winning the war at Troy. The sad thing is that they realise that they need each other but in the end they have to go their seperate ways and will never see each other again. Orestes is pursued by the Furies for murdering his kin and Electra marries his best friend Pylades.

Heracles (420BC) - Heracles returns from completing his Twelve Labours and kills Lycus. Lycus was about to kill Heracles' father, wife and three sons so acts in self defense. However now he has completed his labours, Hera is allowed to interfer and send her messenger Iris and Maddness ( who doesn't want to do this to Heracles) who afflict Heracles and in his maddness he kills his wife Megara and his sons. His father Amphitryon just escapes and they manage to confine Heracles until the maddness passes. Heracles did a horrible thing, but to be fair it wasn't really his fault. I did enjoy this the least though, it took a long time to tell when it was essentially a very short tale.

Overall ***1/2 out of 5.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A cross between a magical and self-help book, this covers meditation, visualisation and self-hypnosis techniques on how to lead a charmed life. It covers love, friendship, family, work, money and problem areas such as phobias.

It was really useful and the top tips were something I have made a note of to go back to at a later date. Very down-to-earth as usual from Teresa and there were some helpful true-life tales, I really enjoyed this book. She refers to Spells as Charms which makes it accessible to those of a non-Pagan backround.

The questionnaires and exercises were also useful and I would recommend it to someone needing help looking to take their life in a new direction.

**** out of 5

Friday, March 09, 2007

I am a massive fan of NIN and was overjoyed when a friend called with a spare ticket to last nights gig. I hadn't got one as I saw them on their last tour and am skint. I found some money from somewhere and set off to Brixton in my little black top and dark eye make up (customary uniform for NIN fans).

The support sounded good but the people I was with wanted to stay near the bar outside so I didn't get a proper look at them sadly. Some songs sounded a bit like a more electronic Placebo. I coundn't help but jiggle along as far back as I was.

For NIN we moved inside and positioned ourselves on the left looking at the stage about a third of the way back. One friend ran staight off to the front but I stayed further back so I could have a good view and not get squished. They played an amazing set (very similar to last time but with a couple of new songs). My favourites were Sin, Terrible Lie, Hurt, Something I can never have, The Hand that Feeds and Head Like a Hole. Trent seemed to have more power this time around and be more into the music. He was covered in sweat by the end of it (well what do you expect wearing a thick jumper over a thick long sleaved top...) and the other band members seemed to be having a great time as well jumping about. As before the lighting was simple and subdued really adding to the atmosphere, especially the slower songs like Hurt and Something I can never have.

All in all a fantastic night out (apart from the random guy I threatened to smack as he kept feeling me up grr). Beg, borrow or steal a ticket to see them on this tour!

***** out of 5

Thursday, March 08, 2007

This story follows the Ramsey family and their guests at their second house in St Ives. It is split into three distinct parts: pre-War, during the War and post-War. It looks at the effects of the War and the relationships between men and woman and parent and child.

The first part looks mostly at Mrs Ramsey and Lily Briscoe and their relationships with the other characters in the story (the one between Mr and Mrs Ramsey is particularly interesting). In the middle section Mrs Ramsey has suddenly died along with two of her children (the brightest, Andrew, was killed suddenly by a shell fighting in the War). The final section is back at the house with Lily and Mr Ramsey being the central characters.

This is mostly autobiographical and I liked Lily as a character with her painting and not marrying. I enjoyed this book, but not sure I would read it again. Perhaps another time I will read some of the critical notes on it to gain a bit more of an insight into the characters.

***1/2 out of 5

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

We went to this this production by the RSC last night staring Patrick Stewart as Prospero. I hadn't read the play so made sure I read the EndNotes online so I could keep up with it on stage as the language can be a little confusing sometimes live when said quickly.

It was a fantastic performance with a wonderful set. It was done up in Artic conditions with lots of fake snow which Ariel used in one of his spells. The music was haunting and had an Inuit feel to it being sung by Ariel and 3 Goddess/Spirits The story was easy to follow and the acting superb. I am told Ariel is usually played by a spritely female, but this worked really well as a tall, thin, death like creature (pictured above with Prospero) who walked slowly through the background influening others as Prospero directed.

We saw Anthony and Cleopatra with the same company last month and it was good to see them in different roles. I enjoyed this performance much more and the first half had some great comedy moments with some bare bottom male nudity! Miranda wasn't my favourite as she seemed a little more focused on projecting her voice than acting but she was much better in the second half. There was also a beautiful blessing that was just like a Handfasting ceremony that the spirits performed for Miranda and Ferdinand. The best part was meeting most of the cast afterwards and getting them to sign my programme, even the wonderful Patrick Stewart!!!

I highly recommend seeing this play if you are in London, it renewed our love for Shakespere and going to the theatre.

****1/2 out of 5

Monday, March 05, 2007

Random Purchase

Look what I bought the other night!

"The Offical Defy Gravity Glitter Globe with music box has arrived. This totally swankified globe features Elphaba defying gravity over Oz while purple, green and black glitter encircle her to the tune of "Defying Gravity." No (place like) home should be without."

How cool is that?!? It is already driving Alex mad (part of the reason I bought it).

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Billed as an Advanced Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, this book covers how to develop pagan practise, how to determine spiritual goals, the cycles (including the Sabbats) and how to bring it all together.

Not the best written book, but not aweful either. I wouldn't particularly recommend it however as I didn't feel it lived up to it's title. It didn't really cover anything new or inspire me to progress to a more advanced understanding. The exercises helped, but it still wasn't anything advanced.

Give this a miss and try The Second Circle by Venecia auls if you are looking for some new ideas.

** out of 5

This is one of those books I have been meaning to read for years and have kept putting off. It wasn't the subject matter, it was more thinking it would be a dull, dry novPaeel in badly translated English.

I was so wrong! This is a fantastic wok of fiction about the relationship between paedophile Humbert Humbert and 12 year old nymphet Lolita. Although the author is Russian he wrote this novel in English and it is one of the best (if not the best) books I have ever read, despite the unsettling subject.

There are no crude descriptions or words describing the realtionship between the two, but I can see why it is considered controversial and was banned. Paedophilia is always a very touchy subject, and rrightly so. No matter how precocious and experienced little Lolita was, it doesn't make what Humbert did right on any level. Despite the topic I highly recommend this novel, give the first couple of chapters a go to test the water if you aren't sure.

***** out of 5

Friday, March 02, 2007

Tori Amos

Woo and I have 4 tickets to go and see her in July in London! I am a massive fan of her music and have all her albums (apart from the latest collection The Piano as I had most of the songs already). I am hoping my sister and her boyfriend will be back from Africa in time to come with me and my husband (it will be just before her birthday so will be a nice birthday treat), but if not I am sure a couple of my friends will buy tickets off me at face value.

It will be the fourth time I will have seen her in total and she is such a character on stage. Should be a fun night and I will put up a review afterwards naturally.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

My Library Thing

I just finished adding all my books and tarot decks to My Library Thing so it is now a complete list. All tarot decks etc are under Oracle and I have 1388 on there and I ordered some more today! Not sure if I should be embarassed or proud to be honest...

The 25th Discworld novel concerning mostly new characters, the cental one being William de Worde who manages to accidentally start the first newspaper. He enlists the help of a group of Dwarves led by Goodmountain, Otto the Vampire and Sacharissa the woman he sort of fancies.

The story follows William as he tries not to be killed by various criminals and irate townspeople as he aims to unravel the mystery surrounding Lord Vetinari's apparent crime of stabbing his clerk and trying to escape with a lot of money on horseback.

Some of the old characters resurface with minor parts like Gaspode (the talking dog) and Commander Vimes as well as Death of course. It was fun, but not the best. It was good to have an original story with some new charactersto break up his usual patten for a change.

*** out of 5

Have added a new challenge in the bottom left corner to this blog to run alongside the 101 things to do in 1001 days. They overlap a little in that the books I have added are on the 100 greatest books list (number 87). The picture will link to the original site that put up the challenge of reading 8 books by authors you haven't read anything by. It's a good idea as I do get stuck reading whole series of books which seem to take forever (yes Mr Pratchet that means you...).

Will cross things off as I go along hopefully. Watch this space!