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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Two young people meet on a train in Europe, get off the train together in Vienna and spend the night walking around the city, talking and gradually falling in love.  Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delphy) feel an instant connection, and as they get to know each other, their attraction grows, but they both know that at the end of their one night together, they must decide whether to see each other again, despite the fact that he lives in America and she lives in France, or whether they should agree not to keep in touch, and just have the memory of one wonderful night.  And that’s more or less it.

It’s been a while since I watched this film, but I enjoyed it just as much second time around.  I can see why some people didn’t like it – it’s basically an hour and 40 minutes of people talking.  However, the backdrop is gorgeous – it definitely made me want to visit Vienna – and the conversations range from mundane to profound subjects, as they muse about life, love and everything in between.  It did remind me of being that age – Jesse and Celine are in their early 20s – and feeling both full of hope and full of fear about what lies ahead.  Neither are too sure what they want to do with their lives, and they open up to each other about their insecurities, as they explore the city.

Hawke and Delphy are great together; they are basically on screen the whole time, although they do meet and interact with other people.  The chemistry between them is wonderful (particularly an early scene in a record shop, where the attraction and shyness that they both simultaneously feel is almost palpable), and my goodness, the amount of dialogue is immense, when you consider that most of the film is centred around their ongoing conversations.  Yet it all feels natural and spontaneous.  They really capture that feeling of meeting someone for the first time, and just feeling that there is something there between you.

I wouldn’t recommend this film to everyone; if you like action or heavy drama, then you might not like it…but if you like romance – real, believable romance, rather than hearts and flowers rom-com romance – then I’d definitely suggest giving this a try.

Year of release: 1995

Director: Richard Linklater

Producers: John Sloss, Gregory Jacobs, Wolfgang Ramml, Gernot Schaffler, Anne Walker-McBay, Ellen Winn Wendl

Writers: Richard Linklater, Kim Krazan

Main cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delphy

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Click here for my review of Before Sunset.

Click here for my review of Before Midnight.

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When Chris Stewart flies to Spain and on impulse buys a farm in the Andalucian mountains, he has no idea what he’s taking on.  The farm has no electricity, no running water, no easy access, and to cap it all, the former who sold it to him does not seem prepared to move out any time soon.  However, Chris and his wife Ana set about making the farm their home and their livelihood.  This book tells the true story of Chris and Ana’s move to a different country and lifestyle and how they created their home out of the remote farm.

This book is charming throughout.  Chris is a thoroughly likeable narrator, and I really liked his wife Ana too.  The way of life in the Andalucian mountains is amusingly and affectionately described, and there are a cast of wonderful characters, in the friends and neighbours who become part of Chris and Ana’s lives.

Stewart is very self-effacing and happy to admit to mistakes made in the early part of the rebuilding process, and as hard as some of the tasks they set themselves undoubtedly were, he somehow managed to make the whole process seem extremely inviting.

I wasn’t sure that this would be my kind of book, but I actually found it to be a gentle and sweet story, that was hard to put down.

Author’s website can be found here.)

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This book is a follow up to Louis Theroux’s tv series Weird Weekends, in which he spent time with members of various sub-cultures in America.  Some years later, he decided to track down some of the subjects of the show and see what had become of them.  It isn’t necessary to have seen the tv series (I hadn’t seen all of it) as Louis provides a recap of what happened when he met his subjects initially before describing how he tracked them down – sometimes with difficulty – and details of their second encounter. 

Inevitably, some of the sub-cultures Louis became involved in are more interesting than others (although this is an entirely subjective opinion of course), and some are more disturbing than others.  The final story, where he met a deeply racist mother, who was encouraging her twin daughters (who were only 11 years old) to sing White Power songs.  This story in particular left me with a feeling of bitter distaste, as well as sympathy for the two young girls and their baby sister, who had had their mother’s views forced upon them, and were not really allowed to think for themselves.

Other encounters included Ike Turner – a man who does seem to have some charisma, but holds some very contradictory opinions – I personally did not like him at all; a group of UFO enthusiasts, the Aryan Nations (another chilling chapter, although the main person who Louis had dealings with came over as pathetic more than anything else); the owners and workers in the Wild Horse brothel; and a former porn star, who had now dropped out of the business and seemed to lead a relatively conventional life.  The most resonant and poignant of all the stories was the one where Louis met survivors of the Heavens Gate religious group, who committed mass suicide in 1997. 

I could definitely imagine Louis’ voice in my head as I read the book – and felt the frustrations and the surprise that he felt when meeting certain people.  He is a lively and engaging narrator, who clearly did his best not to judge the people he was meeting – not always successfully.  A lot of the book is humorous, but there are some thought-provoking moments as well.  If you’re a fan of Louis Theroux – or even if you’re not – this book is well worth a read.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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Googlewhack: a single result when you search for a combination of two words on the search engine Google.

Stand up comedian Dave Gorman has turned 31, and decides it’s time to grow up.  He’s going to grow a beard, write a novel, and put his youthful folly behind him.  But a random email from a stranger distracts him from the novel, and he soon finds himself on a trail to find 10 googlewhacks in a row, and meet the owners/authors of the sites where the googlewhacks were found.  The rules of the game are: he cannot find anymore googlewhacks himself, but every googlewhack he meets must find him two more, and so on.  And he has to find his chain of 10 before he turns 32.

Dave’s quest takes him from different parts of America, to China, to Australia, and Wales – amongst other places.  He meets a man who collects pictures of women and dogs (more innocent than it sounds) a group of Mini enthusiasts, an American who takes him into Mexico to buy Coke (the legal kind) and pharmacueticals, a professor in Creationism, and many more interesting and varied people.

The book is genuinely hilarious in parts – I constantly found myself either bursting into laughter or at least having a quiet giggle to myself.  Dave experienced various highs and lows along the way (some of his googlewhack chains came to a dead end), and the reader experiences them all with him.  At times it seemed so unbelieveable that if it had been written as a novel, I might have found the plotline too far-fetched.

And speaking of a novel…the whole time that Dave is on his googlewhacking quest, he is also avoiding calls from his agent and the publisher with whom he struck his literary deal.  But he knows that whatever the outcome he’s going to face the music at some point…

This is a light hearted, hugely enjoyable read, which I would definitely recommend.  (And incidentally, it sounds as though it should be fairly easy to find a googlewhack – but looking at some of the googlewhacks which were found in this story, it’s clear that some imagination needs to be used!)

(Dave Gorman’s website can be found here.)

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