Friday, 27 February 2009
It is impossible to describe the book without spoiling the story. The book dives deeper into the complex relationships between the supernatural creatures and humans which makes it interesting, a story you don't want to let go from your hands. Some aspects of the story are a bit disturbing. Some even more disturbing.
It is fun to notice how Meyer has developed as a writer during these books. When reading Breaking Dawn, it feels like Twilight was just a piece of practise. The books definitely get better in time, the story gets more complex, the characters more deep. Breaking Dawn does not use most of its time describing how beautiful Edward is - the part repeated until its annoying in Twilight. Instead it binds the story into a thrilling web of relationships, and when in some previous books you might have thought of characters a certain way, you most likely will start feeling something for each and every character in this last book.
Meyer's style of writing is similar to the previous books: reader still knows all the time what's going to happen next (or in the next few hundred pages), but all events are again written in such an addictive way, that it absorbs the reader totally.
My suggestion: if you have read Twilight and are planning on giving up the saga after the first book, just give it a try - the story gets so much better in the books three and four!
Written by Stephenie Meyer
Amazon.co.uk - order here
Amazon.com - order here
Play.com - order here
Thursday, 26 February 2009
Director Zack Snyder (300) was not afraid of the challenge and created a movie that is very loyal to the original work, both in its story and visual style. Watchmen is a challenging work of art as a novel - it requires its reader to really work through the story, every single frame has so much information and there are parallel stories that need the reader's full attention. The film does not differ that much from the novel: it is also challenging to watch. During its three hour duration one will see rape, murder, very graphic and bloody violence not that common in comic book movies.
Watchmen is a story of a former group of masked superheroes. Masked heroes have been made outlaws in the US, and only very few still continue their work on the streets. Many of the ex-Watchmen are already aging, retired from the superhero business, and then suddenly one of them (The Comedian played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) gets brutally killed. Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) suspects someone is killing off masked heroes and starts investigating. At the same time the world is falling towards the World War III between the Soviet Union and the US.
The story is very complex and to even try to describe it here would not make any sense. Due to the complexity it is strongly recommended to read the novel first and only then see the movie. That way the viewer will get the most out of the movie as well, because there are many things that are not thoroughly explained.
The Watchmen cast is brilliant. Billy Crudup as the blue Dr Manhattan has just the perfect amount of the god-like behaviour in him, but does not fully forget he was once a human. Haley as a socially incompetent Rorschach is as perfect as in his creepy role in Little Children. Haley's Little Children colleague Patrick Wilson brings vulnerability to his shy-ish Dan Dreiberg, and Malin Akerman is just too sexy in her latex costume as Laurie. Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt first feels a bit too "weak" for the character, but eventually he grows into the proportion required for the "world's smartest man".
Watchmen is a comic book movie but it is no Fantastic Four. It is complex and does not necessarily open up to a person not familiar with the original story. It is challenging in both its story and visuals. It is dark and grim, but visually mesmerizing, and it gives something to think about, and also a reason watch it again.
Directed by Zack Snyder
Written by David Hayter and Alex Tsu, based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Gibbons
Cast Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Goode, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Carla Gugino
Monday, 23 February 2009
It was a great evening with shining stars and perhaps a couple of suprises.
It was also a nice and welcomed change to see Hugh Jackman as the presenter at the Gala and he sure opened a new chapter in: How to do the Oscars. As he said in Barbara Walter's interview earlier: It doesn't always need to be all about business, but more of a show and having fun!
And it sure worked! He went through the nominated films with Broadway style and pulled Anne Hathaway from the audience, proving that this young lady is not only talented actor, but could also have a bright future as a singer. And soon after Hugh Jackman and this amazingly talented crew did a spectacular number with names like Beyonce and many other young, talented actors. But even though Hugh Jackman was amazing the most interesting part was yet to come.
What a night! So many touching speeches, so many unforgettable moments and so many talented people gathered inside the Kodak Theathe.
The most talked about films of the evening were The Curious Case of Benjamin Button nominated in 13 different categories, winning three. But the real winner of the evening was Slumdog Millionaire being nominated in ten different categories and winning eight. After seeing the Golden Globe winnings this victory was not a big suprise, though.
And here they are, all the winning Oscars in different categories.
* Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Actor in a Leading Role: Sean Penn, Milk
* Best Actress in a Leading Role: Kate Winslet, The Reader
* Best Directing: Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Foreign Language Film: Departures (Japan)
* Best Original Score: Slumdog Millionaire, A.R. Rahman
* Best Original Song: ''Jai Ho,'' Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Sound Mixing: Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Sound Editing: The Dark Knight
* Best Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
* Best Documentary Short: Smile Pinki
* Best Documentary Feature: Man on Wire
* Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
* Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
* Best Live Action Short: Spielzeugland (Toyland)
* Best Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
* Best Costume Design: The Duchess
* Best Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
* Best Animated Short: La Maison en Petits Cubes * Best Animated Feature: WALL-E
* Best Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy
* Best Original Screenplay: Milk, Dustin Lance Black
And for the brightest stars of the evening...
They were of course Kate Winslet in The Reader (my absolute favorite in this category) winning the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role and Pénelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (the best choice in this one too, I would say) winning the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
I was also one of those hoping that the Oscar for the best Actor in a Leading Role would've gone to Mickey Rourke in film The Wrestler, but well, I haven't even seen Milk yet, so who am I to judge here? But still, I have to say, Randy The Ram was such an unforgettable and touching role I can't but wonder why the Oscar didn't go to Rourke.
One shining star was also the Best Director Oscar Winner Danny Boyle with his work in the movie Slumdog Millionaire. I have not yet seen this film, but I sure am going to after all these eight wins this film achieved yesterday evening. And all the other wins in Golden Globes, SAG Awards etc.
And of course the movie itself, Slumdog Millionaire. Winning the Oscar for Best Picture. A low-budget film that almost didn't make it to the movie theaters is now a multi-Oscar Winner! Wow!
And last but not least. Best Animated Feature Oscar winner, WALL-E.
Our family's number one movie at the moment and as I already revealed in my other blog my daughter's guess for the winner in this category.
What a great night!
And let's not forget all the other Oscars from last evening either. Given for Best Documentary, Cinematography, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing and so many more important parts in the art of making movies.
I know that some of you have been awake the whole night watching this show and I really hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!
And it doesn't take too long, when we can start guessing which are the nomimees for next years Oscar Gala...
Sunday, 22 February 2009
This time Fincher has taken a totally different kind of story in his hands - a romantic drama of a man who is born old and gets young all his life. The story is loosely based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the 1920's.
Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) is born in 1918 and his mother dies in childbirth. His father is devastated by her death - and even more when he sees his baby boy who looks more like a dying old man than a cute little newborn baby. He abandons him at the door of nursing home for old people, where he's taken care of by Queenie (Taraji P. Henson). Queenie believes all God's creatures deserve to live, and especially because she could not have children on her own, she takes Benjamin as her son.
Soon she realises that Benjamin is very special. He refuses to die as doctors predicted, and starts growing up, and at the same time getting young. When he meets a cute little blue eyed granddaughter of a lady living in the house, his life gets a new turn. Somehow the old young man and the girl get connected. The blue eyed girl grows up to be a stunning young lady called Daisy (Cate Blanchett) and eventually her and Benjamin's paths cross again.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a delicate romantic drama. The story holds up surprisingly well for its whole duration of 2 and a half hours. Surprisingly, because when I first heard about the movie, I thought the story sounds stupid. But it is far from stupid. It is a very sweet story, and even though you know exactly where events lead to, even just seeing other people get old and Benjamin get young is fascinating. The idea of being able to use all your old age wisdom and experience when young is interesting. But the idea has major downsides: the people around you just die of old age when you still continue to flourish. This will eventually lead to serious loneliness.
This is the third time Fincher and Pitt work together, and every time they do brilliant job together. It is beautiful to notice how Pitt has grown into a great actor after his "cute boy" years, and him working with one of without doubt the greatest actresses of our time, Blanchett, is fantastic to watch. Blanchett's variability is just amazing, how she can do pretty much any role she's given, and always in such a passion that captures the viewer deep into the story she's telling with her presence.
Benjamin Button was nominated for 13 Oscars which made it the most nominated film this year.
Directed by David Fincher
Written by Eric Roth
Cast Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, Taraji P. Henson, Tilda Swinton
Monday, 16 February 2009
The movie begins on one rainy day. A young Michael Berg (David Kross) is walking in the rain and is weakened by a worsening scarlet fever. He gets a helping hand from a lady called Hanna (Kate Winslett), who offers to guide him back to his home. When Michael gets better and is able to leave his house again, he wants to go to her and thank for her kindness. Hanna lets him in her tiny apartment and in her lonely life. It doesn't take long for them to find themselves being passionate lovers. There is quite an age difference and the affair keeps secret, but there is still something unforgettable about all the moments these two share together.
Hanna also seems to have some peculiar habits. She loves to be read and Michael sure enjoys reading to her, every single time that they meet. He doesn't ask any questions, but just keeps on reading. No matter how passionate they seem to be, there is always room for a new chapter, a new book and a new story.
Until one day, when Hanna mysteriously disappears, leaving Michael heartbroken.
Years go by and Michael is a law student observing trials in court halls. One day when going to the court there is a Nazi war trial, where several S.S. guards are defendants and believed to have sent children and women to their deaths in Nazi camps. When at the courtroom he suddenly realizes that Hanna is one of the accused S. S. guards. He is stunned to see her again in these kind of circumstances. There is also a tiny secret, just a little detail Hanna won't reveal in the court, but which Michael knows about and is torn between helping her or just letting it go.
Time goes by and Hanna is now in prison. She is serving a life time sentence for her actions during the war. Michael (Ralph Fiennes) on the other hand has a family, but eventually gets divorced and when going through his old things, he finds all the books he used to read to Hanna and decides to record those books into tapes and send them to her. He sends them year after year, until finally Hanna starts to use these tapes to teach herself how to read.
In the end Michael is the only contact Hanna has in her life outside the prison and when it's time for her release, he is the one to take care of her and her new life, being a free woman. But things don't always go the way they're supposed to as is the case in this one too.
The end of the film was quite slow paced and even a bit boring I would say, but overall this was an interesting story of two strangers that meet, fall in love, have true passion, drift apart and then meet again in the strangest circumstances.
Kate Winslett's role as Hanna was very strong, believable and real. Like Kate herself is. There is just something about this woman that makes her so alive and real on the screen. She is perhaps one of the most down to earth actresses that I know of and maybe that's one of the reasons she outshines the others. And remember, Kate is nominated for an Oscar for her role as Hanna.
But this film is not only about love and the little affair, nor about Kate or her skills, even though she is nominated for Oscar for her role in this film. But we need to remember that this is also a story about war and about all the horrible memories of the Holocaust, the dark side in German history. It was very moving and confusing to see young Michael walking in the old prison camp, all those empty halls and those empty gas chambers. You could almost sense the presence of all those poor people that were walking their last steps to their deaths, closing one chapter in German History.
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Written by David Hare (screenplay) and Bernhard Schlink (book)
Cast Kate Winslett, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross
Thursday, 12 February 2009
He's Just Not That Into You falls into this category. The storyline is bubbly and quite entertaining, and the cast is full of well-known actors and actresses. Names like Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly and Scarlet Johansson. Not to mention some new names (at least for me) like Justin Long, Ginnifer Goodwin, Kevin Connolly and Bradley Cooper.
In this movie there are several parallel stories of singles or couples who are desperately trying to understand each other and read other peoples behavior. This may sound a bit chaotic, and maybe it is, but the cast keeps the story alive and compelling until the very end.
Gigi's friend Mary (Drew Barrymore) has her own obstacles when it comes to men and feels that she has been dumbed with every possible gadget that our modern technology offers. But she doesn't want to give up and believes she will find her man, eventually. She just has this problem wanting to share all her love-life details with her "perhaps not so straight" co-workers, which is not always the smartest way to do things.
When a man and a woman decide to be just friends, what do you expect happens...? Ben (Bradley Cooper) and Anna (Scarlett Johansson) run into each other at a local grocery store and sparks fly immediately. Ben tries to hold back and explains that he's happily married with his wife Janine (Jennifer Connolly), but Anna won't give up and persuades him into a relationship, which starts first as a friendship, but you know, who can resist Scarlett? I mean... Anna... ;-)
And of course ladies love to share their thoughts about all the disturbing details of their relationships and point of views from friends are always highly appreciated. Who else can give you help in these matters than another woman, since they know the best. Don't they?
You can expect to see a lot of new turns and little twists, but don't expect this to be too deep or a life changing experience. Entertaining and funny, but an average movie experience, I would say. And one star goes to the cast, absolutely!
It is very difficult to review this book without spoiling the story. That's why I won't tell much about it. Eclipse continues directly from New Moon, and focuses more and more on the complicated relationships in the series. It introduces new creatures and monsters, it deepens the original story and the characters familiar to us from the first two books and that way it gives the characters history.
After getting Edward back in New Moon, Bella faces a new problem: her relationship with Jacob has formed into such a deep friendship it is difficult to balance. Especially when some new magic steps in. Bella is also (again) in mortal danger - Victoria is still hunting. And this forces people to form unexpected alliances with each other.
In a way Eclipse is better than the previous novel - the deepening of the character's motives and backgrounds gives things perspective and interesting history to the whole story universe. Also there is more action, cool fights that would be interesting to see on screen.
The weakest point of the saga is in my opinion the central character Bella. Even though the author has mentioned in some review that everything is done the way Bella wants, and that way the story is a feminist story, I just don't see this. I see Bella as a self centered, whining and even stupid girl, who does everything according to other people's will. She seems to be almost totally lacking the ability to logical reasoning and she is being irrational in so many ways. Other characters - especially Jacob in this book - are so much more complicated and interesting. They have souls that are able to think outside the box.
Meyer's way of writing is still holding the reader. Despite the annoyance one may feel towards some events, characters or motives, the events and actions are still described in such a detail that it is easy to picture the steaming hotness of certain things in one's mind. However, she does not give the reader much surprises. All events are hinted so clearly along the way, that once the characters themselves finally figure out the case, the reader has known that already 100 pages before. But somehow it is not what happens, but how it is described to the reader that counts in these books - very often the "how" overrides the "what".
I felt incredibly bad for one of the main characters in the end of the book. And even though I have already spoiled myself with the final novel, I'm still looking forward on reading the story wrap up.
Written by Stephenie Meyer
Amazon.co.uk - order here
Amazon.com - order here
Play.com - order here
Saturday, 7 February 2009
In New Moon Bella is facing a different problem from being killed by a vampire: aging. Her 18th birthday makes her freak out because then she's officially older than her beloved, always beautiful and 17-year-old Edward (even though in real years he's about 100 years old). Her birthday party becomes a chaos after she gets a bleeding cut in her hand at Cullens' house - a house full of vampires.
This leads to events that cause the whole Cullen family to move away from Forks, and Edward leaves Bella behind. Her world comes tumbling down and she spends months in a deep depression. Finally she starts to recover with the help of Jacob Black who eventually becomes her best friend, but who also has a dark secret to bear.
The writing in New Moon has the same kind of gripping hold of the romance-thirsty reader, but the story does not handle much deeper investigation. I suppose it is the author's own views on life that jump up in the story too much - the glorification of the good vampires and the inclusion of religious views in such a story make me sigh in disbelief. Also I find it difficult to understand that a 18-year-old girl who is officially and legally adult, would be fine with being grounded at home by her father. It does not make any sense to me.
Sex is prominent between the lines but is still not really mentioned in the story. Marriage is mentioned though, and that clearly shows the author's disapproval for pre-marital sex. This does not make any sense in the real world, at least not to a person living in a sexually liberal Nordic country. It just makes me wonder, if this kind of beliefs, which were common in this part of the world many many decades ago, really still are that strong in the US.
Is there then any good in New Moon? Yes, of course there is. It has much more action than Twilight, it has new creatures and monsters, interesting revelations, but the author also digs pretty deeply into the area of depression. It describes thoroughly how the changes in life can cause total chaos in one's mind, making everything meaningless, even survival. Because depression and other forms of mental illness are so common in the world today, I find it good that such things are also discussed in literature targeted to young audiences as it may help also them to deal with the difficult time as a teenager and also with the emotions that may lead to serious depression.
The movie of the novel is set to be released in November this year, and it will directed by Chris Weitz, the director of The Golden Compass. Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart will be returning to their roles as the lead couple Edward and Bella. It will be interesting to see how the new movie turns out as New Moon will require much more efficient visual effects than Twilight, in which the effects were a bit crappy. Also interpreting Bella's depression will be a difficult task for Stewart.
Written by Stephenie Meyer
Amazon.co.uk - order here
Amazon.com - order here
Play.com - order here
I do like to watch beautiful women like Angelina Jolie and Keira Knightley, but as a heterosexual female, it's the men that make my heart beat a few times more with their muscular upper body, piercing dark eyes, hairy face and deep voice... Think about Australia - without bearded Hugh Jackman and his shirtless appearance the movie would have been much boring (eye candy-wise)!
I have noticed that a good looking man can make otherwise miserably bad movie watchable, and sometimes I even choose to see a movie just because some of my favourite sex symbols is in it.
Only very few remain as the favourites for many years, but there are a few. I do have a soft spot for tall, dark and handsome men. Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves have been my guilty pleasures for about 20 years now, and I still melt in front of those beautiful eyes.
Few years ago Colin Farrell made his way to my top of sexiest men. And I just utterly adore his freshly rebel and still somehow shy performances on screen. Being a good looking man, and a great actor is a fantastic combination, and Farrell, Depp, George Clooney with his now already aging charisma and the Mexican heart-melter Gael Garcia Bernal are examples of this.
No matter how much Reeves's acting skills are being criticised, he still draws my attention to his movies. They may not be masterpieces (except for the first Matrix), but they are pleasing to watch because of the chocolate eyed heartthrob.
Sometimes it is not just the looks that count. My heart can beat a few more times also when I hear a sexy voice. This is what happened with Vin Diesel. In my books he was not that great looking, but when I heard him speak for the first time (it was actually in xXx), I changed my mind - his voice made also his looks so damn sexy it took me some time to recover.
It's not always even the voice, but the way of talking. Farrell is a perfect example of this: when he opens his mouth and starts talking, I'm done for. And a brilliant young Scottish actor James McAvoy - I just love to listen to his native accent!
I am aging along with my beautiful stars, and my taste in men has also grown up. I don't think the gray hairs in Clooney's head are at all less sexy. He still has that boyish look in his eyes. 20 years ago I couldn't have thought a gray haired man was sexy!
Even though the men of (around) my own age have appealed to me, I have found it is very cute to see some new rising star, a new young face that has enormous potential on becoming the new "George Clooney".
I did not like the movie Narnia 2 (nor did I like the first one, though), but there was something that caught my eye. A young, fresh and extremely beautiful face of Ben Barnes, whose career I'm definitely going to follow more closely from now on.
Although the dark haired, dark eyed men are the ones that on screen make this blonde drool, I'm not excluding the blondes totally. Brad Pitt was definitely eye candy when I was young (and he was young), but nowadays, oh how masculine that once baby-faced actor now is, when over 40!
And last but not least, the late Heath Ledger... RIP. The brilliant actor just died too young.
Sunday, 1 February 2009
April (Kate Winslet) and Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) are a young adorable couple with two beautiful kids. They live in a cute white house with some space for everyone to play and enjoy life. Frank works in the city and is forced to take a train to cover the long distance, when April has lived years at home taking care of the kids, house, food and garden.
She's a bright young lady who suffers of her situation, and the difference between the couple's lifes starts to tear them apart. April gets depressed, Frank gets an affair. Suddenly April remembers their long lost dream of moving to Paris, and their relationship starts sparkling again. But when things have gone already bad, not even Paris helps...
Revolutionary Road is extremely intense drama. It is intense especially because of the realism - this can happen to anyone, and I'm sure this kind of couples are out there - many of them. All the terrible pain of relationship gone bad, being together but alone, and that performed with the skill and intensity of Winslet and DiCaprio, ones of the most brilliant actors of their generation, just makes your heart ache for two hours.
This movie is one of the best I've seen in describing how a relationship can go bad without a clear reason. For outsiders everything looks perfect, but under the cover everything is burning and ready to explode and destroy.
The movie wakes you up. It makes you think about your own life. And if your own life is going downwards, it hopefully wakes you up to act before its too late.
Directed by Sam Mendes
Written by Justin Haythe, based on the novel by Richard Yates
Cast Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kathy Bates, Kathryn Hahn, David Harbour, Michael Shannon