Monday, April 24, 2017

Film Review: Their Finest

Their Finest - 4 and a bit stars

Okay, I am a sucker for English films. A big sucker for English films, but if all films were a bit like this, I think the world would be a much better place.

So Their Finest (released in Britain as "Their Finest Hour and a Half") is a historical comedy set during The Blitz. One Mrs Catrin Cole, from somewhere deep in the valleys of Wales is called up by the Ministry of Information to assist in writing the scripts for their "Keep Calm and Carry On" propaganda films. The film tells the story of a British Ministry of Information film team making a morale-boosting film about the Dunkirk evacuation during the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz.

Okay, Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain. Romantic Comedy. Well, yes - and it works delightfully as we embark on a two hour journey into what it was like to live in through the Blitz and be a part of the spin machine that operates during wartime (Funny, it feels a bit like that now).

The cast are excellent. The film's prtoagonist, Catrin Cole, played by Gemma Arterton is just the right mix of plucky, resolute and fragile and the rather downtrodden screen writer. Her love interest, Buckley, is played with ablomb and a stunningly awful moustache by Sam Claflin - who seems to be doing a great line in playing redeemable arseholes of late (Think Me Without You and The Hunger Games Trilogy.

Stealing the show, in his own inimitable way is Bill Nighy, who plays Bill Nighy. Other notable mentions include Eddie Marsan, who plays Nighy's crotchety manager, and Helen McCrory, who ends up being his manager. Lovely cameo parts which bring warmth and humour into what could have otherwise been a heavy film.

The direction of the film is another of its strengths. Lone Scherfig, who is responsible for wonderful British Films including An Education and One Day. She has a steady hand and knows how to milk the British psyche for its wonderful nuances and failings.

Part farce, part romantic comedy, part look at the horrors of war and just what the British put up with during world war two, I will be recommending this movie for a long time.

I also love it when you have a film that has you doing spit-takes for most of the film only to have you crying buckets for the last ten minutes. (I haven't sobbed like that in ages)

Set in the back streets of London as well as somewhere concocted as "Devon" (it was filmed somewhere off the Welsh Coast) this is a film which you can take your Mum along to and know she's not going to be offended. I know I got out of the cinema and called my Mum, telling her to go and see it.

This is a marvelous film, with just enough lightness to make a war story very human and very enjoyable. It's also a fantastic insight into the propaganda machines which drive our world today.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Mommy Time Questions

Despite the dodgy title of these questions, they are not too bad.

I'm in assignment mode - for which I am not doing too badly. 2000 out o a 3000 word story is complete and the planning is done for the monster 5000 work paper due on 8 May.

So I'm not in a bad place, but I have a LOT of work to do - thank goodness for ANZAC Day on Tuesday.

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

1. What are five passions that you have? (If you have less than five, tell us what you do have interests.)

  • Writing
  • Travelling
  • Cinema
  • Movies
  • Reading

2. List up to ten random facts about yourself.

  1. I topped my school in Chemistry and French.
  2. I have webbed toes on my right foot
  3. The scar in my eyebrow comes from when my sister donged me over the head with a golf club when I was eleven.
  4. I lived in London for eight years
  5. I love the smell of dog's paws first thing in the morning.
  6. I would love to run a writer's retreat one day.
  7. I have a birthmark on the back of my left calf - my niece had the same birthmark.
  8. I have never worn my hair shorter than a bob.
  9. I am a passionate fifth-generation South Australian.
  10. I am VERY proud of my five uncles who participated in the trenches of World War One (Gallipoli, Alexandria and the Western Front - all support crew - drivers, ambulance men, signalmen and a bugler)

3. List five people (personal, historic, living or dead) who have had a major impact on your life or the way you think.

  • JK Rowling
  • Dr Spencer Johnson - author of "Who Moved My Cheese"
  • Thomas a Becket
  • Leon the hypnotherapist
  • Shakespeare

4. List 5 things you'd tell your 15 year-olds self, if you could.

  1. Things ARE going to get better.
  2. Exercise more - you will learn to love it.
  3. Just shut up - pick your battles - there are some not worth fighting.
  4. You are not fat. Seriously.
  5. Learn to let go with grace. It is a skill you will learn to love.

5. What is a major strength that you have? (You can list more than one. Staying with our no rules approach.)

I am loyal, kind and tenacious. I think these are wonderful strengths.

6. What is a major weakness that you have? (You can list more than one. STILL staying with our no rules approach.)

Other than ice cream?  I get bored easily - and it can get destructive.

7. Describe the family dynamic of your childhood versus your family dynamic now.

Passive-aggressive. It wasn't a particularly happy home.

8. What popular notion do you feel that the world has most wrong?

Other than that trickle down economics works (For fuck's sake, it doesn't) Conservative values are really not a good thing at all - they're a crock of shite - particularly where it comes to women's and reproductive rights. Get your hands off my ovaries and go find something of your own to fuck up.

9. Name three things that always cheers you up when you are down.

  • Cuddles
  • Ice Cream
  • Movies

10. Name three things would you like to be remembered for?

  • The fantastic novel that I will write
  • My kindness
  • My sense of humour

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Place for Pumpkins Questions

Happy Easter / Passover / Insert your public holiday here.

I'm trying to have a nice and peaceful Easter, but the hacking cough going on at the moment is not helping matters. After a week, I think it's time to go see a doctor.

Anyway, no idea why these are called "The Place for Pumpkings" questions but I will give them a go.

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

1. If "happiness" was the global currency, what kind of work would make you a gazillionaire? 

Probably being a fiction writer. I do like the thought of that. Breeder of Bernese Mountain Dogs - that would be very cool too.



2. Would you break the law to save someone you loved?  And, if so, how far would you be willing to take it?

Probably not. I'm not made up that way.
   
3. Is it possible to really know the truth without questioning it first?

I think so. Some things you just know. Matters of the heart you have to trust your gut. Everything else, question it. Especially the news.
   
4. Do you remember that one time . . . oh, about 5 years ago or so . . . when you were really, really upset?  Does it really matter now? If not now, then when?

No, it doesn't matter. I've moved on.

5. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?

No. As somebody who is not a Christian, with the possible exceptions of Hitler and maybe Donald Trump ( who's ignorance is evil) I'm not that sure. Not sure I believe in good and evil.  The goalpost move too much.
   
6. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Nothing. I really don't give a crap what people think.
   
7. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?

More work I enjoyed doing. I don't mind work, but I like to be productive.

8. Would you rather be an anxious genius, or a tranquil fool?

Rather be a tranquil fool. Anxious geniuses are very, very concerning.

9. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

Much prefer to do the right thing. Doing things right is good, but it is always better to do the right thing.
   
10. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

Young enough to have fun without knowing better.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Sassiest Questions

Well, I am quite proud of myself - I have done my two tutorial responses, I'm about to do my ironing and make my lunch for the week - and even better - I'm off to see Book of Mormon tonight. Yay. I feel like I've done some stuff this weekend.

Questions, as always from Sunday Stealing.


1. If you could say anything you wanted to say to Donald Trump, what would you say?

Resign, NOW. Before you lead us into World War III, you orange fucktard.

2. If you had to be the mother of Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, who would you choose and why?

Britney Spears. Despite some very hard years and some rather awkward decisions, she appears to have turned into a reasonable human being.

3. You get to be Queen for a day. The kids are all taken care of, and you can spend as much money as you want. What do you do all day?

Probably go and have a massage and spend a lot of time (and money) in a book store. If not that, buy a last minute First Class Ticket on Emirates Airlines - and go somewhere for a few hours that way. That is supposed to be amazing.

4. Is there a song that brings tears to your eyes every time you hear it? If so, which one?

This. Every. Freaking. Time.



5. A fairy taps you on the shoulder and tells you that you can either have a perfect face or a perfect body for the rest of your life. Which do you choose?

A perfect body. One that doesn't break down and get old and cranky. I don't mind a few wrinkles but I would love to be as flexible as I was in my 20s. I promise I'll look after it.

6. If you could live any place in the world and money was no object, where would you live and why?

Probably London. I love London. But you need money. Rome would be great too.

7. What is your biggest regret in life?

Not getting therapy sooner.

8. If you could go back and visit one person in your life who is now dead, and ask one question, what would that question be and why would you ask it?

I would love to talk to my paternal grandfather - who has been dead nearly forty years. I would love to get his perspective on things. There were always a lot of things never said on that side of the family. Lots to talk about.

9. If you had the choice to age forward (like we are now) or aging backwards (think Benjamin Buttons) which would you choose and why?

Age backwards - and get all these middle aged grungy thinks I'm feeling over and done with. Middle age is not for sissies.

10. What will the epitaph on your headstone say?

Nevertheless, she persisted.  (It's a bit of a feminist battle cry - and I do live to persist) I doubt I will have a headstone as 1) I want to  be cremated and 2) I want my ashes scattered somewhere where a headstone would look out of place.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast - 4 Stars




Okay, so I must be the only one on the planet not to have seen the original Disney “Beauty and the Beast”. Seeing that it came out in 1991 when I was moving myself to London, I like to think that I had better things to do at the time. Besides, I was aware of the general story, why did I need to see it?

So this new Disney live action film come out and I’m a bit interested. I do like Emma Watson. It’s been great to see her grow out of Hermione Granger’s shadow and into a decent actress. I’m rather fond of Luke Evans. I sort of like Dan Stevens even if he will never come out of Lady Mary Crawley’s pall after that car crash on Downton Abbey – besides, he has lovely blue eyes.

Sam and I took ourselves off to see this on our semi-regular girls night out – not the animated version, but the 2017 Emma Watson, “gay-scandal in Malaysia” version. 

And we loved every minute of it.

The story is quite simple. Belle, a bit of a misfit in her village is the daughter of a local merchant. The Merchant goes off to Paris to sell his wares. Belle asks him to bring back a rose for her. On the way back from the trip, the merchant strays off course where he ends up at the castle of a once handsome prince, who having pissed off a local witch.  The witch has turned him into a beast – and quite a gnarly one at that. He has until the last petal falls off of a rose to find somebody to love him as he loves her back. (Yeah, not the greatest feminist message out there and as I have written this word thirty times today it is front of mind) While picking said rose for Belle, the Merchant the beast captures him – he’s not very happy about his roses going missing – even if nobody has been around the place for years.

Back in the village, a vain git called Gaston is trying to win Belle’s hand. She sees him for the rubbish suitor he would be and tells him to go get stuffed. When her father’s horse returns without him, Belle goes to search him out. Finding him inprisoned, she takes her father’s place. You'd think he'd like a visitor.

Okay – they you have the middle bit of the movie, the Beast and Belle fall in love, Gaston comes to search her out, but not after being rebuffed by her father. There is a big fight scene and then the witch reverses the spell and they all live happily ever after.

Okay, you don’t think about the slightly creepy through that there is this bloke – turned into a beast, who is keeping a woman against her will (though thinking about it, he does treat her well in captivity). You also overlook the fairly bad case of Stockholm Syndrome which Belle appears to procure. And you can forgive the overacting by most of the cast as this is a Disney Musical.

We loved it. It was a fanstastic film to just sit back and enjoy. Emma Watson is the quintessential Belle. Kevin Kline is both believable and fun as her father. I was quite taken with Luke Evans as the dreadful, arrogant and redemption-less Gaston. He was superb. And Josh Gad was brilliant as Le Fou, Gaston’s sidekick.

Much has been made of the homosexual overtones from Le Fou’s admiration / love for Gaston. Malaysia banned the film because of this. In my honest opinion, stupid move. There is nothing to it. It’s very fun to watch, completely inoffensive and could happily be construed as one many admiring another, if you wanted to. I was shocked at Malaysia’s over-reaction to some fun scenes.

Other cast members who provided voices, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci and Ian McKellen, to name a few, were great as the CGI furniture and cutlery who keep the beast company.

This is a fabulous film to take kids to, or bigger kids. It’s great fun. There isn’t an over commitment to the songs and you leave with a big smile on your face, even if you do wonder why Malaysia was having such a hard time with the fact that two guys are dancing on screen. And they weren’t even twerking. 


Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Cannon Fodder Questions Meme

I should be studying.  At least it's a short list today.

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

1. Is there someone you'd like to be kissing right now?

Yes, but I'm not going to tell you who that is.

2. When you're being extremely quiet, what does it mean?

I'm either tired or thinking. Both states are a bit dangerous.

3. What are you listening to right now?

The cat talking to me and the morning news.

4. Are you a big fan of thunderstorms?

Love them - a long as they aren't right over me and lightning isn't striking within 100 metres.

5. Do you believe in perfect?

No.

6. Are you a jealous person?

No. Pointless emotion.

7. What was the first thing you thought this morning?

Where is that duvet - the cat had stolen the covers.

8. What do you think about when you are falling asleep?

Can I go to sleep now? Side or tummy.

9. Are you satisfied with what you have in life?

Yes. I am very lucky.

10. Do people ever think that you're either older or younger than you actually are?

People tend to think I'm about ten years younger than I look. Thank goodness.

11. Do you think men truly understand women?

Of course not.

12. How about women understanding men?

Do you really want to?

13. Did anybody ever call you handsome or beautiful?

Yes, but it was a long time ago. I'm lovely on the inside.

14. What is one fact about the last person that called you?

She's my mother.

15. Other than your current one, tell us about the longest relationship you have had either a romance or a particular good friend.

I'm still great friends with a couple of university friends. We don't see each other often, but it's like old times when we do meet up. It's great.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Kathy Ann Questions

It appears Kathy Ann is Sunday Stealing's wife. I've just come back from a Short Story Bootcamp hosted by Maxine Beneba Clarke. Awesome and thought provoking weekend.

This will be a quick one - I want to get short story writings seeing that I've just got the lunches ready for the week and watched Married at First Sight (Susan, Susan, Susan....)

1. What is the meaning of your blog’s name?

Denial is a big river in Egypt... and I am its princess.

2. Why did you start your blogging?

I wanted to chart my path to a marathon. I've run five half marathons, but the big one is fifty pounds of weight loss and a year of training away (and I'd rather train for the Camino now)

3. What’s your usual bedtime?

Somewhere around 11 pm. Rarely earlier, sometimes later.

4. Are you lazy?

At times, but generally now.

5. Do you miss anyone right now?

I'm pretty good at the moment.

6. How would you describe your fashion sense?

Melbourne black with a few quirks. Lots of stripes and a bit of Adelaide navy for good measure.

7. What are your nicknames?

Panda. Dory. "Leave the cat alone."

8. Are you a patient person?

To a fault for the most part - then I snap and walk away.

9. Are you tight-fisted or frivolous?

A bit of both. I wouldn't say I'm frivolous, but I do consider what I'm spending my money on.

10. What magazines do you read?

NY Times magazine. Sometimes overland, Sometimes Marie Claire. I do most of my reading online.

11. Are you stubborn?

Sometimes.

12. When is your birthday?

In August. Winter baby.

13. What book are you currently reading?

Maxine Beneba Clarke's "Foreign Soil".

14. What phone do you have?

iPhone 6.

15. Do you have any pets?

No, but I borrow cats when their owners go away. I seem to have a cat in my flat about half the time.

16. Do you have siblings?

One sister, one step-sister.

17. Any children or grandchildren?

No. Not that silly.

18. What do you order at Starbucks?

Nothing. The coffee is crap. I live in Melbourne where you only go to Starbucks if there is a gun put to your head. At normally coffee shops I have a large skinny cappuccino.

19. What did you do for your last birthday?

Went and saw Matilda with some friends and ate a lot of meals out.



20. What’s your occupation?

Currently I'm a technical writer / process analyst / project dog's body.

21. Do you live in the country or the city?

Inner city, though I come from the country.