Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Handmaids Tale

Ohhh I have just started this one and am enjoying it.  Ever since I read Margaret Atwoods stunning book in the 1980s it is one of those stories that stays with you.

 After a change in society, infertility has become the norm.   Young women who are fertile are forced into families of wealth and connection where they are used as vessels to breed.

  I am only on episode one, but this  version is dark and ominous.  Elizabeth Moss is mesmerizing in the lead role.  If I weren't soon tired I would have been tempted to stay up all night and binge watch.  Luckily there are a few rainy spring days forecast so I can stay inside and binge.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Secrets of My Life - Caitlyn Jenner

Most of us are aware of the story of how Bruce Jenner, Olympic gold winning athlete and celebrity transitioned recently and revealed herself as Caitlyn Jenner.  In this memoir, she tells us the story of how she knew from a very young age she wanted to dress as a girl and felt wrong as a boy, but it took decades before she was able to  change her body and admit to her family her true self.

You have to admire people who are able to step up and reveal themselves, faults and all.  I like her bravery in writing this book and and enjoyed learning her story.   I left with the feeling that because of her secrets that she hidden, her life has been lonely and largely unhappy.  I hope she finds happiness now - life is short and to be treasured. 4/5

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fragile Lives - Stephen Westaby

Professor Stephen Westaby is a prominent UK cardiac surgeon.  In this book he tells us about his own life and family and how the death of his grandparents led him to deciding to become a doctor.  He has lots of fascinating stories about his training years.

Most of the book though is devoted to the heart patients that he has looked after over the years - the successes and the failures.  He started his training when cardiac surgery was a young speciality and there have been many advances is surgery techniques and tools available.   I could have listened to his stories endlessly as the were all so inspirational. 5/5

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Juliet's Answer - Glenn Dixon

Glenn Dixon is a Canadian English teacher, who tells us about his classroom and their experience of learning about Romeo and Juliet.  On one of his holidays, he heads to the real Verona in Italy, to work in an office where unlucky in love men and women write letters to Juliet Capulet, and a team of writers reply back giving them hope.

He does a good job of switching between stories, and in the process reminding us all of the beauty of Romeo and Juliet and their star crossed love.  It even made me want to read it again, which I last read many decades ago in high school. 4/5

Monday, August 14, 2017

Goodbye Pet & See You In Heaven - Bel Mooney

Bel Mooney was the owner to a small Maltese dog Bonnie, who had lived with her through a marriage that broke down, living by herself and now was living with her and her second husband at a rural property.  When Bonnie gets older and sicker Bel thought that she was prepared for when she would die, but when it happens she is surprised by the grief that she feels losing her small companion and friend.

Not only does she tell her story, but she talks with other pet owners who understand the loss of a beloved companion.  You may need a tissue, it may have made my mascara run a little. 4/5

Sunday, August 13, 2017

House of Z

Sadly today was the last day of the Film Festival and it was the last movie I had booked to see with a friend.  House of Z is a documentary about American fashion designer Zac Posen.  Like other shows about other designers, this one is about a recent collection shown but I think he has opened up his life more than many of the rest.  He was obviously a very talented and charismatic teenager and he was able to establish himself by having amazing support from his family, with his mother and sister working with him for some time.

 Even though my friend and I do not know much about the current high fashion world, it is a compelling watch, from him being fashions darling to being irrelevant in a short time and then having to make a comeback .  It is interesting to realize how much an illusion it is, when they haven't made any money in years, and that the money comes from investors  and deals made with outside companies.  4/5

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A Womans Life

This is one of the last Film festival shows I got to see, and I must admit to nodding off a bit.  A subtitled French film often has the ability in a warm theatre, to do that to me.  Also I think I was lulled to sleep by the incessant chewing of the older woman next to me, who took 45 minutes to eat her ice cream cone.

So we get to meet Jeanne frolicking in the sun at her French chateau with her Mama and Papa dreaming of a handsome Beau.  Things are good, then they go bad and then they get worse .

I would have liked it more if there were a higher ratio of happy scenes to ones that made you depressed, but maybe I slept through those.  Also it looked like my uncle had filmed it in 1982 on his video camera that weighed 20kg - then showed it on our 70s tv, I am sure it was some arty sort of cinematography that the hipsters would know.  2.5/5

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Farthest

If I  had to recommend one movie from this year's Film Festival this would be the one I would tell everyone to go and see.

The Farthest  the story about NASAs Voyager mission.  Launched in 1977, these two small space ships were sent into the solar system to send back photos and data from distant planets.  It is fascinating stuff, especially when you consider the computer power that was available in the 70s.

They also talk about the golden record, stuck you the outside it is 2hours of music and messages, just in case there is some alien life out there.  The musical choices seemed a bit odd, with only one pop hit and lots of odd cultural picks.  Can you imagine ET playing a record?

It gives a fascinating perspective on just how small Earth is in a huge, huge universe.  The Voyager has made it now to the end of our solar system and is now in Interstellar space - the only thing ever to be out there, and may continue on  long after we are gone, and even after the earth is here.

Amazing stuff that may have even made me tear up at timesome and the best space movie I have ever seen 5/5

Thursday, August 10, 2017

It Comes At Night

OK so going in you know this might not end well.  This is the one thriller I chose to see at the film festival.  It is the type of movie I prefer to see at the cinema, rather than watch at home and not being able to sleep afterwards.  It is also kind of funny to sit in the cheap seats, where when someone in the row jumps, the whole row rocks with them.

It is post apocalyptic world and Paul and his wife and son are locked up in a house in the woods.  I won't tell you anymore.  4/5.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Alice Network - Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is one of those authors that you can escape into her books and picture the story straight away.  From the first few pages I knew I was going to enjoy it, and looked forward to being able to head to bed to read my book each night.

Like most historical novels, this book has two story threads.  Charlie St Clair, a young American socialite who in 1947 comes to Europe to search for her young cousin Rose, who was last heard of in France several years earlier.  When her search begins she meets the rough and tough Eve Gardiner, who has her own story of being in France over the first world war.

Their story begins to weave together as both women begin to rely on each other as they travel between cities searching for clues.

At moments the characters came across a bit cliched and predictable but I did like that they were a little flawed and trying to overcome their demons,  that made the story still feel a little fresh and not the usual war story.  5/5