Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a very special book. On the face of it, it’s a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat and completely absorbing novel as you follow the journey of Wade, Aech, and Art3mis on their Easter Egg hunt. On a deeper level, this novel is a social critique about where we could be heading as a society and what is truly gut-grabbing, take-the-breath-out-of-you scary is that everything in Ready Player One could be true.
There are some TV shows which just affect you. Shows that stay with you long after they’re finished, like for me, Friends or Breaking Bad. The US Office is one of those shows.
Ok, I’m breaking my own rules here – this book is not lovely. It is not an easy read and often it is not an enjoyable read. The story is horrific, sadistic and painful, yet it HAS to be read.
The Railway Man is the story of Eric Lomax, a British communications officer in World War II. He is captured whilst in Singapore, becomes a prisoner of war and is forced to help build the Burma Railway under his strict Japanese captors.
Anyone who has read anything about the Burma Railway will know about the atrocities faced by those working on it. If you haven’t read about it, here is a run down: The Japanese decided to build a railway between Bangkok, Thailand and Rangoon, Burma in 1943. A quarter of a million people (a mix of civilians and POWs) were forced to build it in deplorable conditions. One person died for every railway sleeper that was laid. On a 258mile railway that amounts to around 115,000 people. The railway was to be built through hilly jungle over many rivers – a terrain that was previously deemed impossible to build through. It was atrocious.
Lomax’s autobiography is a detailed account of everything that happened to him during the war. There is no detail left out, no matter how horrendous. The content makes this book difficult to read and what is, almost, concerning, is the matter-of-fact way in which it is written. Torture, abuse, beatings, starvation is described as simply as if describing a walk in the park. But that coldness, and the way Lomax shuts himself off is a result of the appalling events he witnessed in South East Asia and makes the book even more harrowing.
The Japanese captors were cruel and treated Lomax and his colleagues worse than you can imagine. Mental and physical torture fills the book and it is so painful to read, but stories like this have to be written about. Much like 12 Years A Slave stories need to be told in order to prevent them happening again. So the atrocities aren’t lost in the past.
The story of Eric Lomax was recently made into a film with Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Jeremy Irvine. There is so much left out of the film (mainly because the content is just too horrible to show) but it was a pretty good adaptation nonetheless.
Have you read The Railway Man? What did you think of it? Leave links and comments below.
The stars of Hollywood gathered last night for the highlight event of their calendar, the Oscars! The 86th Academy Awards took place at the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard to celebrate the achievements in film over the last 12 months. I always look forward to the Oscars, I love film and I love fashion, its a win-win! So let’s take a look at the highlights (well my highlights anyway!)
Ellen DeGeneres took charge of proceedings distributing pizza and taking selfies with the A-listers. She was light, entertaining and fun – everything you want in a host of an awards show which takes itself quite seriously! This selfie crashed Twitter and is now the most retweeted thing ever. Ever:
Fashion was out in full force as it always is. Here are some of my favourite dresses gracing the red carpet last night: (photos from here)
The boys looked pretty dapper too…
And so to the actual awards! Here are some of the results:
Best picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best director: Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
Best actor: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club (should have been Leo!)
Best actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Best supporting actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Best supporting actress: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Best adapted screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Best original screenplay: Her
I completely agree with the results bar one. Can you guess which one? I’ve seen both Dallas Buyers Club and Wolf of Wall Street and both are brilliant films. Matthew McConaughey and Leonardo DiCaprio were both tremendous but I just think Leo was better, he was simply incredible! I can’t praise Wolf of Wall Street enough it was a perfect film for me.
Jared Leto was the stand out performance in Dallas Buyers Club for him. His portrayal of Rayon was so accomplished and emotional. It’s hard to believe this is the first film he’s done in six years!
And as for Best Picture? It couldn’t have been anything other than 12 Years A Slave, could it really? The most powerful film I’ve ever seen and am likely to ever see for a very long time.
Did you watch the Oscars? What did you think to the results? The fashion? That selfie?! Leave links and comments below!
I’m a huge Leonardo DiCaprio fan. He is my favourite actor and I only recently realised this. I started thinking about some of my favourite films and they all have one common factor… you guessed it, step up Mr DiCaprio! The Departed, Django Unchained, Inception, Romeo + Juliet. And now, The Wolf of Wall Street has firmly planted itself on that list because this film is, to mirror the film, fucking awesome!
As always, spoiler alert! Go watch the film and come back to read my review!
This film is loud, crass, funny, utterly mental, and completely absorbing. I loved it.
We start by meeting Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) explaining how everyday he takes enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island and Queen’s for a month. He takes quaaludes, adderall, Xanax, pot, cocaine and morphine because well, its awesome. But it is money that drives Belfort. He live a life of excess because he can afford to. And his addictive personality means he can’t stop striving for more, more money, more drugs, more hookers, and this is ultimately his downfall.
This is one of the most accomplished performances from DiCaprio. Not famed for his comedic acting, he had me howling with laughter at points. When he takes the out of date quaaludes, loses the abiliy to use his legs and is faced with a set of steps as well driving his Ferrari home, I had tears in my eyes. Yet as funny as DiCaprio was at times, he was equally compelling when he starts to unravel. I was so completely absorbed when he was losing it, particularly when he was screaming on his bed after an argument with Naomi (Margot Robbie). His portrayal of Belfort has earned him a Golden Globe and an Oscar nod, and I really hope he gets it, it is so deserved!
The Wolf has broken a record for swearing in film. ‘Fuck’ is used 506 times in the three-hour film, that’s 2.81 fucks a minute. On average. Close to the number of actual fucks you see on screen. Yes, there is a whole lot of naked-ness in this film as we witness Belfort’s exploits.
Jonah Hill is also brilliant in this film. He far exceeded my expectations of him and those teeth! My days, they were incredible! I read earlier that he took a salary of $60,000 for this film, because he was so desperate to work with Martin Scorsese (which is much lower than the usual Hollywood rates!) I can’t say I’m surprised – Scorsese is such a talented director, I’d give anything to work with him too!
This film is an incredible journey through an extraordinary individual’s life. Every part of this film is done expertly, the acting, the direction, the production. It is a triumph of the very finest Hollywood talent.
Have you seen The Wolf of Wall Street? What did you think? Who is your favourite actor? Leave links and comments below as I’d love to have a read!
I went to see the highly anticipated and highly praised 12 Years A Slave. There is so much expectation on this film, it has award nominations coming out of its ears, so naturally I couldn’t wait to see it!
As always **SPOILER ALERT** Go watch the film then come back and read my review.
Firstly, this is a triumph of a film. It was powerful, moving, harrowing and at times, a difficult watch. The atrocities suffered by slaves in 19th Century America is disturbing, but all credit to Steve McQueen for tackling it in such an excellent way.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is brilliant as Solomon Northup. The pain and strength he shows in his portrayal makes you feel his anguish for days after watching the film. Near the end, there is a long close up shot of Solomon, his whole face fills the screen, he looks around silently, eventually looking down the lens right at you. It is so intense, I had to look away. I felt so guilty for witnessing Solomon’s life.
The violence suffered by the slaves, not just Solomon, is horrific. But I feel it needed to be shown. Films such as this shed light on a dark moment in America’s past and should be addressed in modern film to prevent such horrors happening again. When Patsey is being whipped at the hand of psychotic slave owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), the whole cinema gasped at the visual. I simply couldn’t watch when Solomon was being ‘hanged’. The violence was so incredibly graphic but the shock of it made the film more powerful.
Fassbender was tremendous as Epps – If he doesn’t get the Oscar something has gone badly wrong somewhere. His character was utterly compelling – neurotic, paranoid, and so angry. When Brad Pitt waltzes in to challenge him, I was sure Epps was going to kill Solomon’s saviour.
Another excellent performance from Paul Dano, he really is one of my favourite actors and Benedict Cumberbatch also does well as the more ‘sympathetic’ slave owner.
All in all, this film is tremendous. All the praise that you keep hearing about it is completely justified. I keep telling my friends about it, imploring them to see it. So here is my advise to you – go see this film, its a work of art and will stay with you for a very long time.
Have you seen 12 Years a Slave? What did you think? Leave links and comments below as I’d love to have a read!
Shame is the story of a sex addict.
Brandon is a slick executive working in New York with an all consuming obsession with sex, prostitutes and pornography. His whirlwind of a sister arrives to crash at his pad and pursue her career as a singer. This fragile relationship is key to the film and seeks to explain the extreme and erratic behaviour of the pair.
We’re not bad people. We just come from a bad place.
Michael Fassbender was truly brilliant in this film. Wandering around Brandon’s beautiful flat with the beautiful view and the beautiful women strewn over his bed, Fassbender simply highlights the ugly inner turmoil that consumes his character’s life. The most crushingly touching moment of this film comes when Brandon is unable to have sex with the one woman he actually cares for. The whole sequence was emotionally charged, choreographed expertly and perfectly executed – Fassbender was completely absorbing.
The musical score is a triumph and helps tell the story as well as Fassbender does. In Brandon’s evening of debauchery as he starts to unravel the music was tremendous; the delicate, controlled and quiet violins contrast starkly with the sex on screen. The depth of the score ignites more passion than Brandon is enjoying; you end up pitying Brandon, his life, his addiction and his self-destructive revulsion.
But what I most loved about this film was that it wasn’t crass. A film about a sex addict could become a glorified porno but what director Steve McQueen manages to do is keep it all about the emotions involved. At times this is a difficult watch, but that is credit to the stellar performances from Fassbender and Mulligan and the superb direction of McQueen. The raw, painful scenes are the most compelling; this is a sad tale of modern times. Loneliness, isolation, family problems, our career-driven, busy, busy lives. It’s all echoed in the situation we find Brandon in. Whilst we’re not all sex addicts, ‘normal’ people all suffer these same emotions and burdens, they just find other means of escape.
I would really recommend Shame, it’s a wonderful film. But as a word of warning, maybe don’t watch it with your parents… There’s a lot of sex and a lot of Michael Fassbender’s penis. Just sayin’.
Have you seen Shame? What did you think to it?? Leave links and comments below!
Hurrah! It’s a new year!
I do hope you all had a wonderful festive period and an excellent new year. I just wanted to give a little update of what you can expect from A Lot of Lovely Things this year…
Firstly, more posts! I’m aiming for two uploads a week so make sure you’re signed up and following my site for the latest updates!
Secondly, more London! I recently bought Tired of London, Tired of Life and I’m keen to try as much of the things in it as I can!
Thirdly, more books! One of my new year resolutions this year to is read everyday something that isn’t internet news – so novels, interesting magazines, articles, essays – the lot. So they’ll be posts about my latest readings too.
Finally, more lovely things! As the title suggests… 😉
So a new year means a new start. 2013 was a bit of a mixed bag for me but I have high hopes for 2014. So onwards and upwards. Let’s go!
Peace and love,
Look – a puppy stuck in bowl!
I saw Gravity last night. And wow oh wow, what an incredible film!
As always ***Spoiler alert!*** Go and watch the film then come back!
First of all, the visual effects of this film were utterly astounding! I mean, breathtaking. It feels as if this is the film 3D was made for! In truth, I’m not the biggest fan of 3D – I find it is often over used on films that just don’t need it but it is completely worth forking out the extra few quid for this. In fact, if you are going to see Gravity, I implore you to see it in the cinema. The special effects on the huge screen and the stunning music in surround sound really make this film epic.
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are tremendous. Clooney plays Matt, suave, charming, oozing with astronaut cool – everything you’d expect of the star, really. But his most touching moment was when he elects to die to save Ryan (Bullock), his love for space leaves him content to die there, it was just beautiful.
But if Clooney was good, Bullock was fantastic! I had my doubts before this film, I wasn’t sure she was up to it but wow, was I proven wrong! An emotional and absorbing performance of a woman who has been hurt so badly, numb to the life she left behind on earth. Yet, whilst she seems ready to give in she doesn’t; she fights through every bit of bad luck that this disaster has to offer. Her determination to survive, made all the more poignant as Matt drifts off into the distance, is something to admire. One of my favourite sayings is: ‘If you’re going through hell… keep going’ I can’t help but think how fitting this quote is for this film; it epitomises Ryan’s journey, don’t hang out in hell, keep moving and eventually you’ll end up in heaven.
The film is set completely in space – there are no flashbacks to life back on earth which makes the film all the more consuming. The lack of horizon means you feel as if you’re the camera, moving around the space station You become so engrossed and absorbed by the events – when will the debris hit again? Will Ryan make it to the Chinese space station? When will she get some sort of good luck? The film is so captivating that when it finally ends, you feel like you’ve been punched in the stomach, had a heart attack, fallen out a window or all of the above! Astounding, truly astounding.
Have you seen Gravity? What did you think? Leave links and comments below!
I went to see Alpha Papa last week and it is freaking amazing!!
As always, SPOILER ALERT! Go watch the trailer and film then come back if you haven’t seen it.
I’m not going to lie, I adore Alan Partridge. And whilst you may think this makes me biased in favour of the DJ in fact it meant I had such high expectations for the film from my love of the TV show. I was very dubious when I entered the cinema, what if the film was rubbish? What if it ruined my favourite sitcom? I was nervous and the tension was not resolved by the trailers, (Insidious 2 and You’re Next – both look HORRIBLE!) I was a wreck by the start of the film!
And so it began. We meet Alan working on Mid Morning Matters with Sidekick Simon on North Norfolk Digital which has been bought out by a hip new radio chain, Shape. They’ve sacked fellow DJ Pat and he’s not happy! A hostage situation ensues and Alan has to save the day.
The cast are excellent; Lynn is back doting upon Alan, Michael is back hiding in cupboards and Alan is as wonderfully awkward and endearing as ever. There is a real honesty to this film – there is no big budget, stylistic, self-indulgence – it is just a raw, independent movie filmed in Norfolk by people who just want Alan to live on. It’s truly brilliant.
This is a comedy and it really is laugh out loud funny. The whole cinema was chuckling and roaring with laughter throughout. There are also different types of comedy; the slapstick man-gina moment, the classic British dry humour runs constantly and the clever unrelenting puns and wit provided by Simon adds another layer of dimension to this comedic feast.
There was so much pressure on this film to be great – Alan has a cult following who expect so much from the writers and actors. Coogan and Iannucci had to please the die-hard fans as well as making the film accessible to a broad cinema-going audience. And they succeded so brilliantly. This is the best film I’ve seen all year. By a country mile! The makers created a visual shrine to Alan and his lovable ways. I simply loved it! A-Ha!
PS. I’m going to see the soft-rock cocaine enthusiasts Fleetwood Mac this month – I’m so excited!!