Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Limitless: A Guys Film for Girls

Every once in a while a guy film comes along with such a clever plot and such a hot male lead that swarms of females go to see what all the guys are talking about. Limitless is such a film. Fundamentally its a guy's film about a guy who wants to have it all and might just pull it off...

Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a loser. There's no sugar coating it -the guy is a Writer with Writer's block, is hideously unattractive (yeah right!), is broke and living in squalor and has just been ditched by his long suffering and totally adorable, more successful girlfriend.

Then, when he bumps into his ex-brother in law, he is offered a new FDA approved drug which unlocks the 80% of your brain you don't normally use and this one's a freeby - for old times sake. The effect is so powerful that from just one pill, Eddie has cleared his entire flat, bedded the landlords wife and written a large chunk of his book. So, of course, he wants more... and that's when the fun really starts. Oh and yeah it's not FDA approved but you didn't really believe that did you...?

Apart from one scene which was so gross it had the entire audience gagging into their popcorn, the film is very clever and action packed. There are so many bad guys it's sometimes hard to keep track of who comes where on the food chain. Oh and what does our hero do with this new found power? Well he is a writer to start with, so surely he uses this new knowledge to write the new War and Peace, perhaps a modern classic, a Wuthering Heights or Oliver Twist of the new world.  Hell no, he becomes a stock broker. (Like I said, it's a boys film!)

Eddie soon starts to realise there may be some side-effects to this miracle pill. But surely, when you can use all 100% of your brain, you can think your way out of anything - or can you?

There's some parts of the plot that are conveniently forgotten which is its only real downside but overall its just silly and easy to watch.

Enjoy! I know I did :)

LE x

Sunday, 27 March 2011

From Notting Hill with Love... Actually by Ali McNamara

What better book could I find to review on here than one about a 20-something woman obsessed with films? I think I'd struggle.... actually.

Scarlett is bored of life with her fiance David. He is reliable and he loves her. But he refuses to spend more money than absolutely necessary and insists on doing the refurb on their new house all himself (and bugging her with all the details). Scarlett wants the romance, the big declarations of love, the happy film ending. But her friends and family are insisting she leave the films alone and wake up to reality.... but can she have the film ending in her real life? Or is that just a silly dream?

Scarlett's decision to get away and clear her head for a month by house-sitting in Notting Hill brings all sorts of comedy and drama to her mundane and oh-so-normal life in brilliantly witty ways. The film references are never-ending from Notting Hill to Brief Encounter via Sleepless in Seattle. She meets the fabulously camp Oscar when he accidentally spills orange juice down her top (Notting Hill for those who don't know) and even has two guys fight over her in a fountain (Bridget Jones). 

Her mission to prove her family and friends wrong and find film moments in her everyday life leads her to people she didn't expect to meet and even a quest for her mother who left her and her dad when she was only a baby. 

This is a brilliant and heartwarming debut from McNamara and well worth a read for any film buff who has wished she had a little more Mark Darcy (or perhaps a little bit of Daniel Cleaver) in her life. There's even a film quiz at the end of the book!


LE xxx

Rating: 4 out of 5 FOBLES

Beautiful modern day musical: Once

Every once in a while I find a film that is just beautiful. Simply put, it makes you go all warm and fuzzy as you watch and after it's finished. Not in the cheesy loved up chick flick sort of way - but in the honest and heartwarming way a film based on character and realism mixed with just a hint of something extra sometimes manages.

Once is such a film. The last time I saw a film that did a similar thing was when I saw Before Sunrise (and then Before Sunset). This film is Before Sunrise with music. And such a beautiful soundtrack it is, sung by the two main leads of the film.

The plot revolves around a guy and a girl (they are actually credited as being called "guy" and "girl" to add to the anonymity of the characters) and centers on a guy who busks on the streets of Dublin and an immigrant girl who he meets. They become friends and start singing together after she shows her talents on a piano. He quickly makes it known how much he likes her but she is more reluctant to get romantic as she has 'responsibilities' in the form of a young daughter at home and a husband back home in her native country. As the film only spans one week, it is simply a snippet of their lives and how they impact each other in such a short period of time.

A modern day musical with beautiful songs and brilliant characters. Perfect.



LE xxx

RATING: 4 out of 5 FOBLES

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (Book)

When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like a Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.

Waking up one morning without being able to see would be a terrifying prospect for anyone - but for one man, it is expected. He has been in hospital after an attack from a Triffid, the bizarre plants he works with on a daily basis. Then, he realises that he cannot hear anything. Not a thing. This might be normal if he lived in a quiet neighbourhood or it was 3am. But when the clock outside is chiming 9am and you are in a hospital you know stands next to a main road in central London, silence is wrong. Then he removes his bandages to discover he can see, but the rest of the world cannot. It is on this premise that the Day of the Triffids begins, with the personal account of Bill Masen.

From my little knowledge of the numerous film/TV adaptations of this book, it appeared to be very much like any other alien/disaster movie. Big scary plants killing people all across the country and the human battles to survive. In reality, as is often the case, the adaptations have destroyed what is actually a superbly clever and chilling tale of humans on the brink of extinction trying to fight back - their battles to keep some level of decency (it takes Bill a couple of days before he feels OK looting), and their struggles not just against the murdering Triffids, but each other.

Bill must deal with fear, loneliness, disease, hunger and panic while trying to keep alive and away from the now free-to-roam Triffids. Bill meets many people along the way, some much more pleasant than others. And the absolute genius to Wyndham's writing is that he doesn't allow it to read like a good vs. evil, black and white plot. There are no good guys and bad guys (not even the plants!). Instead, it is a battle for survival against each other where people prefer different methods to achieve their goals. When devastation hits as quickly as it does in this book, people must alter their perceptions of what is good and what is bad, of what is normal and what is strange. Most importantly what is right and what is wrong. Some turn to religion, others to weaponry, others to defeat and others to morals. New families/tribes are created by choice and by force.

I won't ruin it by telling you the ending but I will say it holds up much better than I'm sure the film/TV adaptations did and the quality of the book is not just in the end but in each and every chapter. Each part is woven so beautifully that it doesn't read like the conventional beginning-middle-end set-up. The beginning is the end of life as Bill knows it so in fact the beginning is the end and the end is the beginning of whatever the new world is to become.

Out of sheer curiosity, I now want to see the adaptations, just to see the Triffids in action. They are an incredible feat of imagination on Wyndham's part and the descriptions are so matter-of-fact that it makes them even more chilling. I have never had a book make me jump before - until now.

Also, it passed my tube test with flying colours :) I left the tube in a huff because I had to stop reading. One thing I will say is that it is perhaps not ideally suited to bedtime reading - I have had some terrifying and very vivid dreams this week after reading it... don't say I didn't warn you!


LE xx

Saturday, 19 March 2011

True Grit (film): funnier than it should've been

I know I'm late to the game but I have now finally seen the film everyone was raving about at Oscar time... and it was totally worth it. I must say it doesn't quite reach the dizzy heights Black Swan and Kings Speech left me with but it does very well nonetheless.

Basic plot - in case you don't already know - is about a young girl Maddy who decides to hire a man to track down her father's murderer so she can bring him to justice, in the form of the drunken and impossible to understand Jeff Bridges. Set against a stunning Western backdrop, this film also sees the hapless two joined by Texas Ranger Matt Damon who has been on the man's trail since long before he decided to kill Maddy's dad.

Firstly, though the film revolves around Maddy (who is only 14!) being sad about the murder of her father, she is no wallflower (hence the Oscar nomination!). The girl can hold her own, whether it's negotiating a deal or the use of a firearm. Watching how the two men warm to her is funny and heartwarming but not remotely soppy. The film also has all the essential elements to a great western - there are gun fights, horse chases and bad teeth a plenty and the unlikely hero of the piece is a bumbling drunken man with one eye. The Coen brothers have done brilliantly here with even the smallest character played by incredible actors.

What really surprised me was just how funny this film was! There are numerous laugh-out-loud moments and I am not actually sure if they are all intentional. But I guess there is humour to be had in everyday life and it plays really well on that. Put a 14 year old girl with a bumbling old man and a texas ranger in the middle of the American West and funny things will happen just as much as scary things will!

I LOVED how totally un-Hollywood the ending was. If you are of the school of thought that a great film needs a nice happy-all-wrapped-up-nicely-in-a-bow ending, you will be disappointed. I, however, love films that don't follow convention and am now looking forward to getting the book if only to see how accurate the ending was compared to the original... though I may leave it a while so I don't compare the two TOO closely :)


3.5/5 FOBLES
LE x

Monday, 14 March 2011

"Taken" and Top 5 Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson plays an ex spy who has given up his old life to reconnect with his 17-year old daughter. He reluctantly agrees to let her travel to Europe with her friend alone only to then discover that she and her friend have been taken and he doesn't have long to find her before she falls off the radar completely.

Firstly Liam Neeson is AMAZING! I was so impressed with his bad-boy John McLane/Jason Bourne/James Bond attempt - it really works for him! The fight scenes are very impressive (if a little one-sided! - John McLane always won but he got beaten to a pulp in the process). Also, the scene where the girls are taken still gives me chills. It's a terrifying sight to see and on his hunt to find his daughter, Liam encounters all sorts of sordid characters and the many females along the way that have been duped and dragged along against their will, drugged and sold to the highest bidder. It's nasty stuff.

The phrase "good luck" will also never be the same to me again. *shudder*

Now here's the downsides... the premise would have been far more believable had the two girls not been such complete ****s at the start. I am by no stretch of the imagination saying they deserved it but it infuriated me when they met a guy at the airport, shared a cab and showed him where the flat they're staying in was - oh and then the friend says "Our cousins are away in Madrid, yeah come over later". The sex traffic industry is not something to be laughed at but have some common sense ladies! The ending is also a bit of an anti-climax but doesn't ruin the rest of the film at least.

Other than that though, its definitely watcheable and quite amusing to see a cameo from Holly Valance. If you wait for TV it wouldn't be the end of the world. Just watch it at some point - no rush! :)

Top 5 Liam Neeson (in no particular order!):
  1. Nell (beautiful and bizarre film about a woman, played by Jodie Foster, who has grown up without human interaction)
  2. A-Team (silly, funny, action-packed, brill - I love it when a plan comes together)
  3. Schindler's List (Phenomenal cast act out the life of Oscar Schindler who saved many Jews in the Holocaust by paying to have them work for him)
  4. Love Actually (Richard Curtis film about the lives and loves of a large group of people with Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant - among others!)
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (voice only I know but Aslan is brill and the first film is hands down the best of the bunch - magical, will take you back to your youth)


LE xx

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Films that never made it big - but must be seen!

Top Secret
The jokes are from the Airplane/Naked Gun school of humour and there are so many crammed into each scene you need to watch the film over and over again just to pick up on them. The plot revolves around a very young Val Kilmer, who plays Nick, an American rock 'n' roll star who is sent on a public relations project as he has been enlisted to sing for a concert in Germany - just as they are about to take over the world... Nick is soon mixed up in hostages, jails, the resistance movement and falling for the woman in the middle of it all - all while singing *yes he actually does the singing!* songs lovingly ripped from every Beach Boys classic.

The main humour of the whole film is that it pretends to take itself seriously. I'd say it has some of the greatest one-liners in cinema history - but I've seen Monty Python. It does come close though with lines like "I know a little German, he's sitting over there" and "Nick? What does that mean?" "I don't know my father thought of it while he was shaving."

Absolutely worth buying and watching over and over. Then when you think you can't watch it any more, invite friends over and make them watch it! :)

Point Break
Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, guns, jumping out of planes, surfing and half naked hotties. Need I say more?

Amazing amazing cast includes Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Junior, Sally Field, Teri Hatcher, Whoopi Goldberg... the list is endless. Takes the piss out of soap operas from behind the scenes of the fictitious soap opera "The Sun Also Sets" as life begins to immitate art.

Mandy Moore is hilarious alongside other brilliant young actors including the fab and all grown up Macauley Culkin. Set in a modern day "cool" Christian school it chronicles a bunch of teens as their lives take turns they could not have seen coming. Deals with acceptance, forgiveness, homosexuality and even Judaism all within a Christian school in the funniest, coolest way imaginable. Absolute comedy genius mixed with some real drama.

Battle Royale
A class of school children are put on an island and forced to kill each other. Brutal but fascinating and compelling from start to finish. Must see foreign film!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Jane Austen Addict books by Laurie Viera Rigler

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

What would you do if you fell asleep reading Pride and Prejudice and woke up in 1812 in someone else's body? This is what happens to Courtney Stone, a 30-something modern day inhabitant of LA, unlucky in love and life. Her only solace is the world of her favourite author Jane Austen. But then she wakes up in the body of Jane Mansfield. Her new mother is pushing her to marry Mr Edgeworth or else be sent to an insane asylum .. and after a recent riding accent which has left her disoriented, she is about to be bled.

This is the story of Courtney and Jane as their lives blur together. Courtney soon learns that all the romanticism of the era is not exactly as she imagined it. She is now in a world where women's only career option was to marry well and one kiss could ruin their reputation forever. Class boundaries are rigid and her modern day morals are quickly called into question.

This is a funny and dramatic account of what Courtney learns along the way and that, even if she can figure out how to return back home, she has Jane's life in her care and must respect the responsibility that brings. The humour lies in the subtle cultural differences, in her incorrect use of modern day language and the normalities of 1812 England which she must learn to adapt to if she is to survive a world without daily baths, mobile phones and TV.

Confessions has all you would expect from an Austen - misunderstandings, rogues, innocents, meddling mothers and cool fathers - but with a modern day twist which makes it even more enjoyable.

Clever, funny, romantic and silly all at once. Rigler lovingly takes all the best of Austen and treats it with the care and devotion only a true Austen fan could do. Look out for Austen's very own 'cameo' as our leading lady meets her idol face to face...

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

Book 2 by Rigler is the story in reverse - as Jane Mansfield, a gentleman's daughter from 1812 wakes up in modern day LA in all its terrifying glory. Unlike Courtney, Jane knows nothing of the world she is now in and must learn to speak like her friends and not to jump out of her skin every time she sees light without candles, tiny people acting out plays in the box in her apartment and giant machines fly over her head. Oh and how on earth will she ever figure out how a car works?

This book is just as funny as the first but for very different reasons. The dialogue is brilliant and seeing modern day living through the eyes of Jane is absolute class - especially when she encounters cocktails and hamburgers for the first time. She must learn to adapt to the new morals of this society where divorce can be a good thing and having sex doesn't make you a ruined woman. It's lovely to see her make the most of her new life as she tries to balance work, bills, friends and love - all while continuing to read the new Jane Austen books she hasn't seen written yet.



LE xx

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Chocolat by Joanne Harris: A Mouthwatering Read

"...the dark glories of the Church cannot compare with her magic carpet rides..."

Vianne and her daughter Anouk arrive with the wind and meet the inhabitants of Lansquenet. Each character has their own brilliant identity, some are more welcoming than others and each seems affected by Vianne's arrival in their own way. After she opens a chocolate shop right infront of the Church (and just as Lent begins), the people start to come and discuss things they never felt they could before under the watchful eye of the town priest. Secrets are revealed and age/gender/class issues are brought to the fore-front. While many blame Vianne for the changes in the villages' inhabitants, others seem grateful for her arrival. But as gypsies arrive, the village is forced to choose between their indulgences and their morals.

This is my first experience reading a Joanne Harris and I was delighted with what I found. Thanks to Harris' exquisite writing style, what could easily have been a simple tale about a free-spirited woman coming to a small French town and ruffling some feathers has been turned in to a sensory delight that left me salivating. The superb descriptions, not just of the chocolate, but of the people, the area, the nuances and every detail of the beautiful little rustic French town are - simply put - delectable. There is no other way to describe her writing style. It envelops you in a way that no other book has like a warm blanket bringing its French sunshine, yummy treats, and care free nature right along with it.

I had already seen the film but it's been a while so the book was no weaker for it. The film actually does the book a lot of credit.

Funny, heartwarming, sad and mouthwatering.


LE x