An Education

I recently had the pleasure of watching An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig. It is a film based on Lynn Barber’s memoir of the same name.

The screenplay is written by the brilliant Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity) which makes the dialogue and interactions between the characters, witty and sharp.  This is a touching tale that centers around Jenny, a 16, but soon to be, 17-year-old,  British schoolgirl in suburban London in the early 1960s. It is a coming of age story and one of first heartbreak.  Jenny is an intelligent and ambitious student (and an only child),  with her eye on Oxford. Her parents are ardent supporters if not, at times pushy, especially her overly protective father, wonderfully played by Alfred Molena (Frida, Spiderman2).  Jenny attends an all-girls prep school, plays the cello and studies Latin while listening to French music. One rainy day, after a cello lesson,  she meets David (Peter Sarsgaard) a handsome  older man, and her world suddenly opens up to the possibility of living a romantic lifestyle filled with weekends in Paris, art and intellectual pursuits.  The colorful and vibrant world that David offers seems to good to be true  however,  though I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to see it.  Carey Mulligan, as Jenny,  is charming,  sophisticated and turns out a sensational performance, eerily  reminiscent  of Audrey Hepburn.

Now I have added Lynn Barber’s memoir to my ‘to read’ list for this summer and look forward to more details of this story.

This is a wonderful little gem that would be perfect to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon (with a friend or two).  It is well worth your time and popcorn. Here’s a clip.

This is the word for the last Sunday of the month. Enjoy.

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Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire

The film, Precious; based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

I have not read the book, but have seen the film. Check out the link below; but be forewarned, this is NOT an easy film clip to watch and neither is the film itself.

Personally speaking, I have read many memoirs in which the narrator describes horrific events of which they have survived, namely abuse of one kind or another. Or they have survived tragic circumstances and are inspiring in their will to live and/or learn from their experiences. I have always believed that we all have stories to tell, and if we can, we should tell them. A personal story is unique and often illustrates the indomitable spirit of survival, in ordinary lives.

Now here is my dilemma of sorts and one with which I have struggled with of  late. I think that some personal stories are better left untold. This is a paradox for me because of past beliefs that everyone has a story, regardless of who you are.  As a reader and a cinephile, I’ve never shied away from horrific or disturbing story lines, because let’s face it, ever and again, such is life. (However – not a fan of gratuitous violence!) Perhaps I’m getting too old to appreciate this fact any longer. Perhaps it’s because I’m a mother whose child is on the brink of adulthood. Or it may be that I’m simply fed up with the knowledge of the evil we are capable of as human beings. Often I am astounded at the utter cruelty with which we can wield power over another human being, especially our children. I think we have all known parents who have been abusive to their children.  Yet what continues to appall, is the length and breadth of abuse that some people, are capable of. This fact profoundly alarms me. I don’t believe myself to be naive. Indeed not much surprises me about the depravity of certain people. On the other hand, discussing abuse of any kind, is a very touchy subject that most sane people would rather not broach. Who can blame them? In the past, I have been able to read about abuse and somewhat detach myself emotionally from what I was reading. Call it self-preservation. Yet I have never been indifferent to such facts of life. In films, I have maintained the knowledge that what I was seeing, however graphic, or based on truth, was only a film. In fact, it became a mantra, to safeguard my sense of sanity, and grounded-ness.

The point of this article (and I do have one; bear with me) is in direct relation to the film, in that many levels of abuse happen in this film to the character of Precious. The primary abuser is Precious’ own mother, played by Mo’Nique, an American comedienne and actress (who incidentally, recently won for Best Supporting Actress for this particular role). The abuse takes place from early infancy to adolescence, and finally to the end. What I find disturbing, is not merely the abuse itself (as if that weren’t horrific enough) but that the abuse happens, period. That as human beings we allow children like Precious to be victimized time and again, and do little, if nothing, to end it. Herein lies my dilemma, although true stories like these have their place (and are no less important),  yet I think I will now choose not to read these particular stories  nor see films of this nature.  Of course I wasn’t aware of the extent of the abuse before I saw the film. Now that I know, it just makes me sad.  This world simply has too much sorrow, this is a fact of life. Finally I’ve come to the point where I just won’t spend my time seeing films of this genre anymore.

I believe in causes. I believe that if I call myself a member of the human race, I have a certain obligation and responsibility to my fellow-man, which is to lend a hand when I can. Although you can stand for a cause and defend it and do all you can to bring awareness and help to ease people’s suffering, in the end, there is just so much one can do without feeling overwhelmed to the point of staggering astonishment. I suppose all you can do is be empathic, compassionate and aware.

I have posted this film and novel not so much to hail it, but simply to illustrate that some stories are hard to witness. Some stories will break your heart. Yet I’d rather tackle issues that I know I can change or at least try to change. Ghandi said; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I can’t single-handedly stop child abuse. I can’t change the fact that child abuse has gone on since time immemorial. But what I can do is be aware. The film Precious was difficult to watch on a personal level and in the future I won’t be watching films like these anymore. Although I don’t believe I’m burying my head in the sand, nor do I believe I am ignorant about life’s realities,  the point is that I choose not to put horrific images into my head (and ultimately into my heart) any longer. Regrettably my head and heart are already filled with too many such images to last me many lifetimes.

And this, folks, is the word.

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Dear John

Over the Christmas holidays, I read another ‘light’ read from Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember) the romance novelist who churns out these romantic stories, like Stephen King turns out best-sellers by the arm full. Sparks’ novels are not difficult reads, but page after page is full of twists and turns about two people trying to get their love story either off the ground or simply get together once and for all.  Sparks’ novels  don’t always have a happy ending but he is a true hopeless romantic. Quite a few of his stories have been turned into films. Dear John, case in point;

John Tyree is an angry rebel who enlists in the Army right after high school and sometime later meets and falls for Savannah, a college student.  Over a two-week summer period, while John is on leave, they court and fall for each other, hard.  But then 9/11 turns their idealic story upside down.

Although I recommend this story, I think you have to be in a certain mood to read any of  Sparks’ romance novels. I, myself, don’t always want to be reading about other people’s’ romantic entanglements simply because it’s often gut-wrenching and sad. I can only take so much ‘love gone wrong’, plot lines. However, though I haven’t seen the movie, it seems entertaining if you don’t actually want to read the novel. Have a look;

Rent it sometime, alone or with a friend or your significant other. Add a box of tissues and a bowl of popcorn and you’re good to go! Have a wonderful and safe weekend, folks!

This is the word for January 16th!

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Stieg Larsson; The ‘Millenium’ trilogy

Happy new year, everyone!

Welcome to ‘books to films’ for 2010!

My first installment is Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy, namely the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which is a wonderfully engrossing murder mystery about a journalist, Mikael Blomkvist hired to find the niece of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families. Helping Blomkvist is a young, pierced and tattooed computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander, who helps him uncover the truth behind the niece’s disappearance forty years earlier. It’s a page turner of a mystery, well written and well worth your time.  Lisbeth is a kick-ass gal, with the mind of a genius, and the heart of a warrior. A true but uncharacteristic heroine for the millennium!

The film has just been released on DVD and is entitled, Millenium. It’s in Swedish with English sub-titles . The film is well-directed with visuals of  Stockholm and its surrounding country side. The cinematography is very beautiful and esoteric of Swedish films (think Ingmar Bergman and Lasse Hallstrom). The film remains true to the book although with a few exceptions, as it logs in at 2 hours and 30 minutes. Here’s a sample;

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Millenium #1

In theatres across Canada at this time,  is the second film based on the second book called, The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Here’s a sneak peek.

The Girl Who Played with Fire – Millenium #2

And finally, the last book in the series is called The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, which hasn’t been translated into English yet although it’s already been translated in French and in Spanish. Go figure!

Stieg Larsson died in 2004, months after he had delivered the entire manuscript for the series. You can learn more about him at his website.

http://www.stieglarsson.com/

Have a wonderful 2010, people and remember;  Do something green every day(recycle,reuse, reduce)  do one random act of kindness every day (pay it forward!) and be proactive in your community or give your time and or donations to help in your global village, which means any and many humanitarian causes, for instance, War Child.  They are so many! Get involved, be a part of  giving and living and smile, smile, smile!

This is the word for January 4th, 2010! Cheers!

*(Happy birthday, Victoria Lee!)

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The Lovely Bones

We are almost into a new year and I have procrastinated long enough. It’s time for an update. With working full-time and with other responsibilities, I’ve neglected my resolution to keep writing on a more consistent basis. My bad. I need to be much more disciplined, I know. So without further ado, here’s another installment of books to films (folks, there are tons of them!).

Today’s pick is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

I first read this when it was first published in 2002. It’s in my bookshelves in hardcover along with Sebold’s second book, a memoir, entitled Lucky. The Lovely Bones in short is about Susie Salmon, a 14-year-old girl murdered by her neighbor, and who throughout the novel, narrates what happens to her and her family, from heaven.

The film will be released in January and is directed by Peter Jackson of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Here’s the trailer.

This is the word for the last days of 2009. See you in 2010!

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The Reader, The Bridges…Sophie’s Choice

The Reader

I read The Reader by Bernhard Schlink back in 2000 or so. I watched the movie on DVD a few weeks ago. I thoroughly enjoyed both.  Of course, books are, for the most part, better than film adaptations, but sometimes, although rarely, movies are better. No, truly.

Take for instance, The Bridges of Madison County. Loathed the book, yet loved the film. Go figure!

The Bridges of Madison County

I read a great deal ( goodreads.com) and I am an avid movie-goer. Most of the time, I like to read the book before I see the movie, but I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to see some films before I even knew a book existed. Example;  Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. Saw the film, bought the book!

Sophie's Choice

If you haven’t seen the film, or read the book, I recommend it. However, it’s not an easy novel to read or an easy movie to watch. Although the trailer is dated (1982), it’s still a classic with Meryl Streep as Sophie. Rent it.

Oh, and have a box of tissues at the ready. You’ve been warned!

This is the word for this evening, folks!

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The Time Traveler’s Wife

The latest novel to be made into a feature film is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger published in 2003. Have you read this book?

The Time Traveler's Wife

This is the short word for today.

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Royal Wood; Juliet

This video is from a song by a Canadian singer/songwriter named Royal Wood and the song is called ‘Juliet’.  The lyrics are simply beautiful and haunting. The melody stays with you if you like the song. I find myself humming this song often. I love how the video tells a story. It is bittersweet and heart-wrenching. Recommended to all romantics!

Lyrics are important to me in most songs as they also tell a story. Since words in prose, poems or lyrics speak to me, I always follow lyrics. Since I’m also a ‘visual’ person, I often need to see what is being sung; i.e. the lyrics. I’m not sure everyone listens to the lyrics of a particular song. Do you?

Let me know if you also follow or hear the lyrics to a song while listening? Or is the melody the only important part of a song for you?

This is the word for today, folks, have a good one!

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A Rhinestone Button, The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch

I’m reading two very different novels at the moment; one has my interest The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch by Marsha Moyer and the other I’m simply struggling through, A Rhinestone Button by Gail Anderson-Dargatz.

A Rhinestone ButtonThe Second Coming of Lucy Hatch

Lucy Hatch is about a young widow struggling with loss and her attraction to a local musician/handyman. The prose is fresh with plenty of interesting dialogue and subplots. The narrator is Lucy herself and the story is insightful and peppered with humor. I like where it’s going and it has definitely piqued my interest.

However I must say that I’m disappointed in the second novel written by a well-respected and much-loved Canadian author, Gail Anderson-Dargatz who has written two bestsellers, A Recipe for Bees and The Cure for Death By Lightning.  A Rhinestone Button tells the story of Job, a thirty-something West-coast farmer struggling to find his place in a small town and whose faith in God has him doubting that he’s ever been truly ‘saved’.  He also has a condition known as ‘synaesthesia’ in which he is able to  ‘see’ colors.  The plot is slow and not much happens apart from him interacting with the same ‘colorless’ (excuse the pun) neighbors, friends and Job’s brother, as far as I’m concerned.  The characters are dry and not well-developed and I just can’t bring myself to care about any of them. The authors two other bestsellers are much more defined and well-rounded with interesting plots, characters and drama. This book is like eating dry lettuce leaves; no flavor and even less taste. Blah!

I do plan on finishing both books although I’d rather dump Rhinestone and look forward to continuing Lucy Hatch. Even if a novel is boring me to tears, I simply have to finish it, regardless of how much I dislike it. That’s  just me; a finish-what-you-start kinda gal. I’ll keep you posted.

 

This is the word for today.

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Musings on Loss

Over the years, I’ve had the misfortune to attend too many funerals of friends and family. I believe that the number of people who I have lost is truly abnormal.

This year alone, I’ve attended four funerals and we’re just about to start the 8th month of the year. I attended the latest, 2 days ago. Sometimes I just can’t wrap my head around this reality. So much loss and so much sorrow in the loss of important, significant and inspiring people that I once knew. I choose to see these losses in a positive light most of the time and try to tap into the fact that I was fortunate and blessed to have known these people at all but sometimes platitudes just don’t cut it. Sometimes I’m just down right confused and angry for having to say goodbye again, and again!

I believe that I am a spiritual being and I try to understand the significance of these events to come to terms with letting go. Reason doesn’t always jibe with what my heart feels although I know intuitively that loss is a part of life, burying friends and family is not something that one can do easily without feeling that loss deeply.

Maybe my karma is to learn to let go in this life. Maybe karma has nothing to do with it. Maybe loss is just is what it is and I simply need to let go and not try to understand what I have lost. Moving forward after grieving is a healthy part of the grieving process yet how long one needs to get there is anyone’s guess. There is no ‘time’  allotment on grief. When we lose a loved one, we grieve and eventually we move on. It could take weeks, months or even years to get through the grief. But eventually we need to move on and move forward in life. Because, my friends, life does indeed, go on.

This is the word for today.

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