Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘films’

4f1096f1d0e242d597a446b6141434f414f4141

This story is told in two storylines, both of which are narrated by Jennifer Doyle aka Lola Nightingale. In 1916, Jennifer accompanies her roguish father from England to America, where she is given a job with the wealthy de Saulles family. It is there that she meets and falls deeply in love with Rudolfo Gullielmi, a dancer employed by the family, who is having a relationship with Mrs de Saulles.

1926, Jennifer goes by the name Lola Nightingale, Rodolfo is now known to the world as film superstar Rudolph Valentino, and at the beginning of the book, they have just been reunited after a decade apart. Jennifer/Lola has been in love with ‘Rudy’ for the whole time, and throughout the rest of the book she proceeds to describe the events that transpired between 1916, when Rudy vanished from her life, and 1926, when he reappeared.

I enjoyed the book, and thought that the writing was engaging and flowed well. However, I veered between sympathy for and annoyance with Jennifer, who was her own worst enemy. She knows that she drinks too much and dabbles in drugs, which are doing her ambitions as a bidding scriptwriter no good, and she also becomes involved with a horrible abusive man, who is a drug dealer to the stars.

Anybody who knows about Rudolph Valentino’s life and death, will have a certain knowledge of what happens in the ending of the book. I personally really enjoy fiction books that are based around real people and events, and I liked the fact that at the end of the book, the fates of all the real people in its pages (such as Mr and Mrs de Saulles) is revealed.

Overall, while I didn’t love the central character, I did really enjoy the story and am looking forward to reading more by Daisy Waugh.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

After reading ‘Hatchet Job’ by Mark Kermode last year and thoroughly enjoying it, I was really looking forward to reading his other books, starting with ‘It’s Only a Movie’ which is his sort-of biography (in reality more of a collection of stories from his career; Kermode describes the book as “inspired by real events” and tells the stories as though they are part of a movie of his life – with Jason Isaacs playing the man himself).

For anyone who doesn’t know who Mark Kermode is, he is a well known and popular British film critic, and half of Kermode and (Simon) Mayo’s Film Review programme on BBC Radio 5 Live, and this book relates the story of how he got there, starting off as an enthusiastic journalist for various regional magazines – amongst other things, he describes being humiliated by Helen Mirren, a wholly unenjoyable and ultimate fruitless journey to Russia to do an on-set report about the film Dark Waters, and how celebrated director Werner Herzog was shot at mid-interview!

If anything I enjoyed this book even more than I enjoyed Hatchet Job. Kermode is a self-deprecating and often very funny narrator, with a tendency to veer off at tangents halfway through any given story, but he always comes back to the point he is making, and always in a very entertaining fashion. His passion for films – in particular splattery gory horror movies – is clear to see, and even if I didn’t always agree with his opinions on certain films, I certainly enjoyed reading them.

It’s an entertaining and easy read, and I would definitely recommend it, particularly to film fans.

Read Full Post »

This book took me two months – to the day – to read. For someone who used to read a book a day and has now slowed down to generally a book a week, that is LONG time. But don’t think that it was because I didn’t enjoy reading this – on the contrary, I loved it, to the extent that I would put it in my top ten favourite books.

Because it is Richard Burton’s diaries, it is not an autobiography as such, but it does paint an revealing and fascinating picture of his life, particularly during his first marriage to Elizabeth Taylor.

The diaries initially start with schoolboy Richard (then called Richard Jenkins) describing his day to day life – with focus on friends, family and sport (and a lot of board games!) but even then you can see his budding interest in books and literature. The majority of the diaries are, as aforementioned, written during his life with Elizabeth Taylor, and they are very absorbing – not just for the private snapshots of their lives together, but also for his thoughtful observations on the world in general, his profession, his children and his reading habits. Because he certainly loved to read – up to three books a day sometimes – and wrote his thoughts about almost everything he read. He had a wickedly acerbic sense of humour and often used quotes by poets, authors and playwrights to support his point.

The diaries tail off towards the end of his and Taylor’s relationship and then start again during his four marriage (to third wife Suzy Hunt). After another long gap, they restart again during his relationship with Sally Hay, and during preparation for the Private Lives tour, when he and Taylor starred together in Noel Coward’s play about a divorced couple who still have feelings for each other. I admire Burton’s widow Sally for releasing the diaries, especially when he writes with such passion and love towards Taylor for the majority of them.

What ultimately emerged from the diaries was a picture of a very intelligent, witty and generous man, with many demons (not the least of which was of course alcohol), but who was all too aware of the flaws in himself, as much as he noticed flaws in those around him.

It’s a thoroughly enjoyable book from beginning to end, beautifully edited (although I would have preferred the notes to be in a list at the back of the book, rather than footnotes on almost every individual page), and one I will definitely pick up and read again. Highly recommended for anyone with even the slightest interest in any aspect of Burton’s life.

(Click here for the official Richard Burton website.)

Read Full Post »

Despite being acknowledged as an excellent actor both on stage and in films, Richard Burton is largely remembered for his tempestuous marriages to Elizabeth Burton, and his enormous capacity for alcohol.  Melvyn Bragg’s excellent biography delves into his life, to reveal that there was far far more to Burton – that he was a highly intelligent and thoughtful man, a voracious reader, that he was plagued by guilt over his children, and generous to a fault.

Burton’s notebooks (essentially a diary) which he started during his life with Elizabeth Taylor were released to Bragg by Burton’s widow Sally, and here they appear (albeit abridged) for the first time in print.  After describing Burton’s tough but loving childhood and adolescence, and marriage to first wife Sybil, Bragg wisely lets his own writing take a back seat to Burton’s words, as he reproduces large sections of the notebooks.  (It is worth noting that the notebooks have since been released in their entirety as The Richard Burton Diaries; I have a copy of this and intend to read it very soon, but Bragg’s biography is useful in that it provides context.)  I thoroughly enjoyed reading Burton’s words – he was incredibly witty (I laughed out loud on several occasions, particularly when he described social situations), certainly wry, and often melancholy.

The biography is clearly meticulously researched, and while Bragg is never sycophantic, he is always respectful of his subject.  What I did find unusual at first, was that in many ways, it was also a study of Burton the man.  Bragg would offer his own opinion as to Burton’s motivations for certain actions, and it felt as if he was trying to understand certain events in this very interesting life, rather than just relate them.  However, this did not spoil my enjoyment of the book, and actually demonstrated the author’s great interest in his subject.

The book was written with the collaboration of many of Burton’s family and friends, and refreshingly, does not just focus on the more scandalous areas of his life; it concerns itself equally with Burton’s Welsh family, his career, his life after ‘the Elizabethan period’ and of course, his premature death at a time which tragically came at a time when he seemed to have his life back on track.

It’s a thick book – 600+ pages – but so well written, and so very interesting, that I found myself reading huge chunks at a time.  Anybody interested in Richard Burton, or indeed in acting in general, should certainly read this – I strongly recommend it, and will definitely be keeping it to read again in the future.

(For more information about Richard Burton, please click here.)

 

Read Full Post »