Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I am Legend


Living in the heart of the Irish Midlands with what amounts to limited access to new releases to the big screen means that I am now relegated to reviewing DVD releases as opposed to cinema releases. I'm not sure if it's worthwhile bothering at this stage but seeing as this site is concerned with the things I've seen and read I'm going to persevere!

I had read a review of this film at the time that it was released and had also seen the trailers on TV and had decided that it was probably one that I'd miss. The review called it boring and the trailer seemed to make too much of an effort to make the movie look action packed, which is always a suspicious move to me. So when it came out on DVD we only decided to rent it as we've been starved of movies whilst we await the release of the all the Oscar nominated films! Call it a precursor to the glut of movies I'm looking forward to seeing...

This film surprised me. Considering it's just Will Smith and his canine companion for the majority of the time on screen, and what amounts to a very small amount of speaking opportunities I was gripped by this story. The flashbacks are perfectly timed. Just as I was beginning to get frustrated with the lack of information we begin to get drip fed the back story and a picture of what has happened and where our hero came from begins to emerge.

Smith plays Robert Neville - the apparent last man alive - who is somehow resistant to the virus that has wiped out the population of the earth or changed those who survived into flesh eating zombie/vampires. I'm a sucker for vampire stories so whilst some would dismiss this instantly as sheer nonsense I allowed myself to be carried into the story.

The premise is by no means new (The Omega man and Cast Away for example). But Smith no more than Hanks in Cast Away did an excellent job in drawing you into his story, building a relationship and understanding of his position and his pain and suffering. It highlights to me what a good actor he is.

The story moves at a slow pace which I didn't find boring. I enjoyed the voyeurism of watching his daily routine and part of me was annoyed when the story moved on even though it was of course inevitable.

I don't believe in giving plot lines and revealing story lines here so I'm not going to explain what happens. It's a movie you should watch in a quiet place in order to feel the tension and if you can't abide science fiction don't even bother.

I would recommend this one as I enjoyed it immensely.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Rose of Sebastapol by Katherine McMahon


I like my historic novels as well as the next girl but I'm afraid that this particular offering by Katherine McMahon just didn't float my boat.

It had great potential as stories go. You have the romance of Florence Nightengale, the excitement of the Crimean War, a thwarted heroine and a dashing young doctor, but for me it was all a bit flat.

The heroine was well drawn as a character and totally unlikeable for most of the book. I found myself rooting for her demise rather than caring about her development as a person. Her love interest was about as interesting as watching paint dry until he goes mad and even then frankly I still didn't care.

This story had little to offer in terms of freshness or interest. It would appeal to some I have no doubt but would not come highly recommended from me.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann


Be prepared for a devastating story of loss and death at the very outset of this story. Normally you get a chance to get to know the characters before the author makes you cry over them but I found that I was crying before the end of the first chapter in a twist on the usual tragic love story format.

The descriptions of foreign and often less visited lands in this book is particularly intriguing and beautiful and the author gives the reader a good and lasting impression of places where most of us may never see.

The story does slow down a lot in the middle of the book but you're initial devastation experienced at the beginning carries you through the lull and makes the book impossible to put down.

This is a perfect read if you want to just curl up in silence and lose yourself in somebody else's story or in this case two people's story. It's an ideal weekend hour buster!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Holding Doors for Strangers - Kidic

Holding Doors for Strangers is Kidic's first commercial release, and it's a great first start.

The band is Dublin based and I have known Morgan the lead singer for years as we went to college together and he's going out with one of my best mates! But besides that I wouldn't be reviewing them if they weren't any good.

The video (also try here if link not working) for the song is down right brilliant, funny and inspired. And the song itself is very catchy and radio friendly. The song can be downloaded in the Irish charts so go do a new band a favour and give them your support. Kidic are ones to watch.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling

Well it's here at last and I finally got my hands on it a week after it's general release in the English speaking world. Not bad considering I was in Japan.

So does the final book in the Harry Potter series live up to the hype and expectation of the legions of fans? I can only speak for myself on that score and I say... kind of.

It's not an anti climatic ending by any means and all the loose ends are neatly tied up which I think left the book being a bit of a disappointment. There won't be anymore and that's final.

But as for the story itself. It's fast moving from the start and sweeps you along in its complicated wake without any chance to catch your breath. There's plenty of thrills and spills to cater for all tastes and we finally see Harry, Ron and Hermione come of age. The flip side of it is that we also see some of the well loved characters in the story fall by the wayside. Some who have been there from the start and others who made later entries in the series.

As the story has progressed the plot line has increasingly become more sophisticated and intriguing and to this end the finale is appropriately and fully satisfying. Now that the theories have been put to rest is a good time to go back and read all the books from start to finish. And that's what I plan to do once I get home...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath


I'm a bit nervous writing a review of this one as it is after all a modern American classic and I am after all just me. I'm not a student of English, nor a graduate in English studies and this review is not meant to be used as a study guide!

I am also nervous about writing my thoughts on this book because of the way this book made me feel.

For the first time in many years I connected with a character in a book. I lived this story with Esther and I understood without any hesitation where it was that she was coming from.

It is a book about confusion, madness, life styles, love and sex. It is a snapshot of a few months in the life of a young woman who does not know where it is that she is going, what she is supposed to do, or how she is supposed to fill the expectations that are demanded of her.

The weight of expectation that she feels in relation to her career, love life, sex life and family life drives her mad. The reality of her madness was very real to me. I could see how and why it happened to her and how she got to a position where to her, suicide was the only real option.

It was a great comfort to me to read this book. It was good to see such honesty and truth about an aspect of life which I think most of us face, in one shape or form, at some stage or other in our lives. The thing is, most of us just don't acknowledge it. It is unacceptable to acknowledge such a thing in polite company, and there is always that stigma associated with depression which makes it almost possible to address it as a topic in a real way.

I realise that many people read this book in school or college and probably analyse it to death. But I would suggest that it is not just a story for young impressionables, it's a story for all women to consider. And if you're a man it's a story which may give you an insight into what it is to be a woman and how difficult it can be at times, if you're open to it that is.

This goes in my top ten favourite books of all times and I'll be re-reading it again soon.

Sunday, April 01, 2007



Once is a low budget movie/musical set in Dublin and starring Glen Hansard, lead singer of The Frames and Marketa Irglova. It's directed by John Carney who used to play with Glen in the Frames and is marked as an up and coming director and one to watch, apparantly. The film won the World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance Festival this year and I was really excited about seeing it, as I'm a well documented Frames fan!

I remember when it was being shot in Dublin 2 years ago, I know where I was when Glen was doing the busking scenes on Grafton Street. I also knew all the music featured in the movie very well as well as the majority of the locations where it was located. For this reason I found it to be a personal film and I really enjoyed watching it.

The story is best described as a snapshot of two people's lives. A moment in time when two paths cross and how they were both affected by it. It also shows a side of Dublin which I in my cosseted world just wouldn't know in an intimate way. It shows the poor of Dublin, the immigrant community, the disenfranchised and the lonely.

The music is mostly taken from an album written by Glen and Marketa called the Swell Season. I think it's one of the most beautiful albums I've heard in a very long time and I just don't get tired of listening to it.

The film itself is very simpy made. Glen does a good job in his role and is a fantastic live performer. But Marketa steals all their scenes together. She has a very pure and sweet voice and a quiet clarity of beauty that is very attractive and compelling.

It's a film I would happily recommend to anyone even someone with an anti Frames prejudice.