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Posts Tagged ‘brilliant’

Zadie Smith’s third novel focuses on two rival academics, Howard Belsey and Monty Kipps, and their respective families.  While these two men are feuding, their wives are making friends and their children are struggling with adolescence and responsibility.  There are too many threads to cover here, but this is a story of family, race, infidelity, forgiveness, unrequited feelings, and much more.

I really REALLY enjoyed this book.  The characters seemed so completely real, each with their positive and negative, but always very human traits.  They may not always have been likeable (I actually found Howard Belsey to be never likeable), but they were identifiable.

Smith writes so beautifully, with such a wonderful, spot-on turn of phrase.  She also has an incredible eye for observational humour, with sometimes just a few words or one line making me laugh out loud.  At times I was frustrated with the characters, at times angry, and sometimes sympathetic, but whatever my feelings, I always wanted to know what was going to happen to them.

It’s not a story with a neat beginning, middle and ending – things are not necessarily wrapped up neatly; it’s almost like a snapshot of a certain period of these families’ lives.  I thoroughly enjoy it, and definitely recommend it.

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In Chicago in 1929, musicians Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) witness a mob hit, and decide to get out of town described as women in an all-female music group, where they meet singer and ukelele player Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe).  Romance, complications and comedy ensue!

Some Like It Hot was voted number 1 on the AFI’s list of the top 100 comedies of all time.  In the past, I have sometimes been disappointed by films which have been so hyped up, so I wasn’t sure what I would make of this.  However, I absolutely adored it.  The three leads are all wonderful – Marilyn was made for this role – she absolutely sizzles – and Curtis and Lemmon play perfectly off each other.  (My personal favourite was Jack Lemmon, who was so utterly endearing, and laugh-out-loud funny, both as Jerry and his female alter-ego, Daphne.)

Naturally two men posing as women, in the company of young and pretty actual women gives rise to plenty of opportunity for comedy and romance, and Curtis was so funny as both ‘Geraldine’ and Junior – a third identity which he adopts in order to woo Sugar!  Meanwhile, ‘Daphne’ has caught the eye of millionaire yacht owner Osgood Fielding III, who decides he wants to make her his eighth wife (or ninth – he can’t really remember how many times he has been married).

This film is one that really is worth all the hype.  It’s sexy and sweet, and really, truly, incredibly funny.  Billy Wilder was a legendary director, and films like this, Sunset Blvd and Stalag 17 show us exactly why.  Watch it whenever you need a good belly laugh!

Year of release: 1959

Director: Billy Wilder

Producers: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Doane Harrison

Writers: Billy wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Robert Thoeren, Michael Logan

Main cast: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Joe E. Brown, Joan Shawlee,

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Christine Lucas suffers from a rare form of amnesia.  While she is sleeping, she forgets everything from the day before.  She is shocked to find out that she is in her 40s, not in her 20s; she doesn’t recognise the man lying beside her who tells her he is her husband; she is unable to recognise the house she apparently lives in…and she can’t remember how she came to be like this.  As she tries to discover what caused her condition, she makes unsettling discoveries and realises that she does not know who she can trust.  Is her husband Ben being honest with her?  And is Doctor Nash really interested in helping her?  And even if she finds out the truth, what happens when she wakes the next morning and can’t remember it…?

I thought this book was absolutely fantastic; from the very beginning I knew I was going to love it.  The main character Christine was totally believable, and I felt that throughout the story I really got to know her.  As she forgot things from day to day, she was never really sure what was real and what was imagined, who to believe and who to distrust – and I went through all of these emotions with her.  As the story is told from Christine’s perspective, the reader only ever knows as much as she does.  Despite her unusual condition, she was easy to believe in and a totally realistic character.

The story itself was (and I hate to use such a cliche, but in this case it’s deserved) a real page-turner.  I had to stop myself constantly peeking a few pages ahead to see what happened, and didn’t want to put the book down.  There is a sense of menace which pervades the narrative, and I always felt that danger was just around the corner.  It was never possible to know whether Christine’s husband or indeed her doctor could be trusted.  The ending was also terrific – I genuinely would not have been able to guess what would happen (although that did not stop me trying), but the story ended on a perfect note.

This is S.J. Watson’s debut novel – it is a fantastic read, and I urge fans of all genres to pick it up.  I will certainly be looking out for the author’s future works.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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The beautiful gothic fairytale is one of my very favourite movies.

I am a big fan of Johnny Depp anyway – I think he is one of the most talented and versatile actors around today – and this is surely one of his greatest roles. He plays the title character, a man who was ‘created’ by an inventor (Vincent Price), but the inventor died before finishing off Edward by giving his ‘proper’ hands, rather than the scissors that were obviously a temporary measure. Stuck in the beautiful old castle where the inventor lived, Edward has never interacted with any other people before, but then a kindly Avon lady (Dianne Wiest) calls there and ends up taking him to live with her and her family.  And so ensues several hilarious but touching scenes (Edward valiantly battling with a pea on a plate, Edward waking up in shock and stabbing the waterbed, Edward’s first taste of alcohol). For a while, Edward is loved by all his new neighbours, except for one – everybody wants a piece of Edward, and he starts doing topiary, hairdressing and dog grooming for his all his new ‘friends’.  He also falls in love with Kim – the daughter of his new ‘family’, but who doesn’t warm to Edward like everyone else.  Kim’s boyfriend is also not happy about him, although he is quick to attempt to use Edward to his own advantage.

It doesn’t take long before things go wrong and pettiness and small mindedness sets in.  Edward, so innocent and eager to help, inadvertently ends up in a few situations where things go wrong and he gets the blame, and is hounded out of the neighbourhood.

Johnny Depp deserved an Oscar award for this.  Although he has few lines (less than 100 apparently, although I didn’t count), he portrays beautifully the innocence and wonder that Edward feels, and gives the character a lovable, childlike quality.  The viewer feels all of Edward’s emotions with him – fear, awe, anger, sadness – and this is largely due to Johnny Depp’s portrayal.

The other actors are fine; Winona Ryder does a great job as Kim, and Dianne West is great as Kim’s mother, but this is really Depp’s movie.  It’s no wonder that he and Tim Burton are such good friends, and have made so many movies together when they can come up with magic like this.

I laughed and cried in equal measure in this movie and would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Year of release: 1990

Director: Tim Burton

Writers: Tim Burton, Caroline Thompson

Main cast: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall

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