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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

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This book has dual time frames told in alternating chapters:

In 1985 in Chicago – and across the United States – AIDS has devastated the gay community. The story starts with a group of friends mourning the AIDS related death of their friend Nico. These chapters are largely told from the point of view of Yale Tishman and through Yale, we witness the ongoing crisis, and it’s effects.

In 2015, Nico’s sister Fiona, now in her early 50s, has gone to Paris to track down her estranged daughter Claire. Through these chapters we learn about the fates of various characters in the earlier timeline, and understand what Fiona went through, watching not only her brother, but so many of their friends die at the hands of a virus which the government at the time seemed largely unbothered about.

This is without question my favourite book that I have read so far this year – and I’d put it into at least my top 10 of all-time favourites. I absolutely adored Yale, and appreciated that Makkai drew so many believable and distinct characters which made up his friendship group and other acquaintances. She does not portray heroes and villains, just incredibly ‘real’ characters, who I felt like I genuinely knew and cared for. I do feel that the early timeline on its own would have made for an interesting and wonderful novel, but the 2015 story added to it, in that we could see what an effect Fiona’s experiences had had on her as an adult.

I could write about this book all day, and good luck to anyone who asks me about it – you’re going to need to set aside a few hours while I wax lyrical! However, I don’t think I could do it justice. It is a beautifully written, heartbreaking, uplifting, thought provoking novel, and I recommend it to literally everyone.

 

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Taken from the same source material as the (far better known) film Chicago, this film feature Ginger Rogers as Roxie Hart – a woman who admits to killing her boyfriend, even though she didn’t, because of the publicity it will bring her. She is convinced that with top lawyer Billy Flynn on her side, she won’t be found guilty, and instead relishes the attention that is lavished on her. The story is told in flashback by a reporter (George Montgomery) who was a rookie when the Roxie case was big news, and is now reflecting on the story of his career….

I really enjoyed this film. At about an hour and 15 minutes, it rattles along nicely, and Ginger Rogers once again gets to prove that her talent was solely in her dancing; she was a great actress too. The subject matter is relevant – perhaps more so – in today’s world, where celebrity culture is such that people will do almost anything to get into the public eye. Here, a woman accused of murder is turned into an instant celebrity!

Ginger does get chance to show off her dancing skills on a couple of occasions, but it should be noted that this film is NOT a musical. It is though, an amusing comedy with a satisfying ending, and I enjoyed it a lot. Fans of Chicago should definitely check this film out.

Year of release: 1942

Director: William A. Wellman

Producer: Nunnally Johnson

Writers: Maurine Dallas Watkins (play ‘Chicago’), Nunnally Johnson, Ben Hecht

Main cast: Ginger Rogers, George Montgomery, Phil Silvers, Adolphe Menjou

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This film is rightly regarded as a classic in the comedy/crime genre. It stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford in their second pairing (the first being Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), as grifters Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker. When their friend Luther (Robert Earl Jones) is murdered, they seek revenge upon the man responsible by setting up a plan to con him out of a huge amount of money…

I really enjoyed the film. It is full of good humour, courtesy of the wise-cracking stars (and ladies, it should be noted that there is ALL KINDS of hotness going on in this picture, with Newman and Redford arguably at their best!). The off-screen friendship of the two stars really comes through on-screen, and is no doubt part of the reason for the huge success of both of the films in which they co-star. As well as lots of laughs, there is also plenty of tension, and as a viewer, you are never sure who exactly you can trust.

Robert Shaw is perfect as Doyle Lonnegan – the object of Gondorff and Hooker’s sting – bringing a great amount of menace to his role, and I also particularly liked Harold Gould’s role as another member of the grifters’ team, named Kid Twist (yes really).

The influence of this film can be seen in more modern films and programmes (‘Hustle’ was certainly influenced by this movie), and I hope that it’s appeal continues to endure for many many more years to come. Overall, a very enjoyable film indeed.

Year of release: 1973

Director: George Roy Hill

Producers: Tony Bill, Robert Crawford Jr., Julia Phillips, Michael Phillips, David Brown, Richard D. Zanuck

Writer: David S. Ward

Main cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

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