A Year in Film: May 2020

How can we be at the end of May! Where has the time gone? I know for many that this pandemic has been a stressful period but I feel in some ways it has brought people together, maybe not physically but electronically definitely. In the past few weeks I have shared in family Facebook quiz nights when in ‘normal’ times we would hardly see each other from one week to the next. One positive that has come from this lock-down is that my road now has a Whats-App group where neighbours, I never knew I had, can join in social distance events such as street bingo and leaving favourite recipes in house windows. I for one feel more connected than ever before. How are you coping? Let me know in the comments box below.

In May David and I watched a grand total of eight films together, some rather more miss than hit. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my reviews.

Philadelphia ✩✩✩

A young Philadelphia lawyer who is infected with AIDS keeps his homosexuality hidden from his employers. When he is suddenly dismissed, he hires a homophobic lawyer for a wrongful dismissal suit.

This 1993 film really shows its age, starring a very youthful Tom Hanks in his first Academy Award performance. Watching in 2020 I wouldn’t say the film was riveting and David wasn’t too impressed but it is definitely a film from its decade. Worth a watch.

The Best of Enemies ✩✩✩

Civil rights activist Ann Atwater and local Ku Klux Klan leader, CP Ellis, who regard each other as enemies, co-chair a meeting to discuss racial desegregation of schools.

I quite enjoyed this film starring Taraji P Henson (who was great in Hidden Figures) and Sam Rockwell. Based on a true event, a Ku Klux Klan leader and civil rights activist find there is more similarities between themselves than differences.

Sonic the Hedgehog ✩✩

The world needed a hero — it got a hedgehog. Powered with incredible speed, Sonic embraces his new home on Earth — until he accidentally knocks out the power grid, sparking the attention of evil genius Dr. Robotnik. Now, it’s super villain vs. supersonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using Sonic’s unique power to achieve world domination.

We finally succumbed and watched Sonic. I remember playing the game in the 90’s. This film, though not as good as the original game was watchable. I think one for the children! Looks like a sequel with Tails is on the cards!

Inheritance ✩✩✩

A patriarch of a wealthy and powerful family suddenly passes away, leaving his wife and daughter with a shocking secret inheritance that threatens to unravel and destroy their lives.

I like most things with Simon Pegg in, though he should keep away from writing Star Trek films! This recently released thriller wasn’t bad. I enjoyed the twists and turns of this dark mystery. I’ve read reviews and not many people enjoyed it, but I thought it was worth a watch.

The Goldfinch ✩✩

Theodore Decker was 13 years old when his mother was killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The tragedy changes the course of his life, sending him on a stirring odyssey of grief and guilt, reinvention and redemption, and even love. Through it all, he holds on to one tangible piece of hope from that terrible day — a painting of a tiny bird chained to its perch.

You all know I couldn’t even finish reading Donna Tartt’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner, The Goldfinch, but imagine my surprise when I managed to sit through two plus hours of the film! Knowing a bit of the story helped, however the film is just as plodding as the novel. The only highlight was Finn Wolfhard’s performance as young Boris.

The Island ✩✩✩

Lincoln Six Echo is just like everyone else who waits to go to the island. But he soon discovers that his existence is a lie and everybody including the other inhabitants are human clones.

This 2005 release was a film I remember seeing though somehow I had mixed up the character names and only remembered certain scenes. The music by Steve Jablonsky is one of the highlights of this film for me.

Vivarium ✩

Hoping to find the perfect place to live, a couple travel to a suburban neighbourhood in which all the houses look identical. But when they try to leave the labyrinth-like development, each road mysteriously takes them back to where they started.

I don’t know whether I enjoyed this unsettling thriller or not. Both Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots portray convincingly a young couple trapped in a strange housing estate taking care of a ‘cuckoo’ child given to them by their captors. Who these captors were was never realised. However there were more questions than answers. On reading further it seems the film was a commentary of suburbia and post natal depression. Who knew!

Escape from Pretoria ✩✩

Based on the real-life prison break. Two white South Africans, imprisoned for working on behalf of the African National Congress (ANC), determine to escape from the notorious white man’s `Robben Island’, Pretoria Prison.

Daniel Radcliffe plays a convincing South African in this real life prison escape. Set during the apartheid in South Africa, Radcliffe plays Tim Jenkin a political activist supporting the ANC who is imprisoned for distributing leaflets. The film is full of tense moments and you do care about the fate of the cast, it just fell a little flat for me.

Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?

Thanks for reading and stay safe!

Christine x

Sunday Sevens #59

I’ve been wanting to update you all in a Sunday Sevens (devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins), for a few weeks now but have not had enough photo content to warrant a post. However I’ve decided to put together pictures from the past two weeks. I hope you enjoy the update?

Family walks:

Sundays have become days when we are joined by members of our family and take Riley on a long walk. Last weekend we visited Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve and walked six miles following the paths overlooking flocks of black tailed godwits and teals.

This Sunday we took a leisurely 4.5 miles walk around Liverpool’s Otterspool Prom and Festival Gardens in thick mist. It made for some atmospheric pictures.

#walk1000miles:

The days are noticeably getting longer! This week I have managed to walk 48 miles, which brings my overall total to 356 miles. I am enjoying every step!

Book I am reading:

I’ve just finished reading Joanna Cannon’s Three things About Elsie. I won’t spoil the plot for you but I found many passages in the novel profound. The last chapter had me in tears! Have you read a novel that has affected you?

For my next read I have picked up JoJo Moyes’s last installment of the Me Before You trilogy, Still Me. Have you read any of these books?

Yarden:

With all the early Spring-like weather we have been having recently in the UK, the plants in the yarden are beginning to wake up! During winter I feared for the raspberry but I’ve recently noticed new leaves starting to sprout! The crocus is giving the yarden a splash of colour and there are bluebells leafing. The greatest surprise was that the camellia which usually flowers in April has already begun to bloom!

RSPB Membership:

Saturday, David and I visited Burton Mere Wetlands. It’s the first reserve we’ve visited with our new membership. We spent an enjoyable three hours and 4.6 miles walking the trails and viewing the pools from the hides.

I love discovering new species and learning about them. We saw a flock of redshank, shoveler ducks and a little egret. I can’t wait to visit another RSPB site in the future. Where do you think I should visit next?

So, that was my week(s), how was yours?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

A Year in Books 2018 – April to June

the-year-in-books

A Year in Books

Thanks to Laura at Circle of Pine Trees for creating the challenge, The Year in Books.

I was surprised I managed to finish the same amount of books this quarter, as I did last year, all of 13 books. It will be the period between July to September that will be the real challenge. Where I prefer to be outside enjoying nature to being stuck within the pages of a book.

As April began I rushed to finish The Famished Road – Ben Okri.

This book began promising, but soon lost my interest. There is only so many times a spirit child can go wondering off and then witness psychedelic strangeness before one gets bored. There is a second novel which follows Azaro on his adventures but I won’t be picking this one up. Have you read The Famished Road? Did you read its sequel?

Wodwo by Ted Hughes

I was inspired to turn to this collection after reading Mark Haddon’s anthology The Pier Falls. One of Haddon’s more memorable short stories was entitled Wodwo about the beginnings of a wild man but with a twist! I enjoyed Hughes’ short stories in this collection more than his poetry. I particularly liked the play, The Wound, set in the trenches of WW1, the narrative I found was very visual.

Seven Wonders of the Industrial World – Deborah Cadbury

I reviewed this inspiring book in my Sunday Sevens #49.

Playing with Fire – Tess Gerritsen

This one was suggested by my mum. Playing with Fire is a psychological thriller. Julia is a musician who desires to find out why her daughter attacks her whilst a particular piece of music is playing. The trail leads her to Venice and the sad tale of Lorenzo, an Italian Jew living during the turbulent 1930’s. The novel is a quick read, with a twist and one I would recommend. Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

Origin – Dan Brown

It seems that Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels all seem to have the same plot. They are just set in a different country! If you cut out the tourism jargon, I think this book has to be the weakest of the series. Langdon, who is the main character, didn’t seem to have much influence moving the story forward. I liked the premise of Winston but think the whole plot was far fetched. If you’ve read this book, what were your impressions?

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I would love to see a re-imagining of this poem. I felt that the narrative was very modern, of zombie sailors, reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean. At a wedding party, a mariner tells his tale of a disastrous journey where he kills an albatross and of his subsequent guilt. The narrator describes the doldrums, seen as a punishment, where the crew of the ship die, but the narrator doesn’t. The crew then frighteningly become zombies. The narrator is eventually rescued but has to retell his tale to educate others of not to kill an albatross! I particularly enjoyed Orson Wells recital on YouTube.

Have you read this poem? What were your thoughts?

The Women of Heachley Hall – Rachel Walkley

This book is written in the vein of A Parliament of Rooks by Karen Perkins. It could have been so much better if there was less description of every nook and cranny. I like description but too much of it clogs the narrative. I felt this was the case with The Women of Heachley Hall. The narrative was trying too hard to be Gothic and the ghost story was fantastical! It was more a love story than a ghost story. The book did keep me interested, I just wasn’t too enamored on the style of writing.

Stressed, Unstressed – Edited by Bate, Byrne, Ratcliffe and Schuman

After taking the enjoyable Future Learn course, Literature and Mental Health a few years ago. I made a note to purchase this book, which is an accompaniment to the course. An anthology comprising of poems to aid in healing, grief and mindfulness. The book is very accessible and could be picked up if and when required. I don’t know whether it was because I read the book mostly at night, when I was tired, but I did find a lot of the poetry quite depressing. Possibly a book to keep going back to.

Open Water Woman Swims Windermere – Jacqui Hargrave

I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. I discovered whilst reading, that the chapters were really just blog posts stitched together for publication. Being from a blog, the chapters were succinct but lacked detail. There was so many grammatical errors, I wish the author had had the manuscript proof read before publication. I’d keep a wide berth from this book if I was you.

Crow – Ted Hughes

I don’t know if it’s me, or that my education is lacking but I find Ted Hughes’ poetry hard to fathom. I can pick out an undercurrent of threat and violence, a lot of hubris and humour but his poems on crow have been rather lost on me.

Do you like poetry? If so who is your favourite poet?

Birds – Edited by Mavis Pilbeam

It was Sharon from the delightful blog Sunshine and Celandines that suggested this book. I thought I would read it for The Wildlife Trusts30 Days Wild. I enjoyed many of the poems inspired by paintings in the British Museum. Poems by John Clare and Edward Thomas were among the highlights for me.

The Turn of the Screw – Henry James

I re-read this book due to being inspired by soprano Charlotte Hoather’s post on her participation in the opera of the same name, at the Royal College of Music. Charlotte sang the role of Governess who is employed by an enigmatic uncle of two young orphans. Everything goes well until Miles, the eldest is expelled from school and returns home with a question mark over his character. Henry James is not a favourite author of mine. I find his style of writing rather long winded. In The Turn of the Screw, James’ writing is even more ambiguous as the Governess narrates her tale of a haunting by two debauched ghosts, trying to steal away her two charges, or is she narrating a tale of her own spiral into madness? It is never certain as to which scenario it is. Have you read this book? Did you think it was a ghost story?

A Cold Death in Amsterdam – Anja de Jager

This is the first book in the Lotte Meerman series. Lotte is quite a complex detective with a lot of background story which comes out slowly within the novel. The stories themselves are also quite complex with many different threads running parallel. I did find it a bit hard going to start off with, knowing which plot-line was which but it all comes together quite well.

Have you read any of these novels?

I ended the quarter by starting Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman, which I am really enjoying at the moment.

Have you read any good books lately, any recommendations?

Thanks for dropping by,

Christine x