Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 30 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Film This Time Last Year

A fantastic gem of British cinema.  Which, typically, got very much overlooked.  The performances were all excellent.  It keeps you gripped and had a tiny budget which should have left some for marketing :-(  Gemma Arterton really proves her worth in this.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 29 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Film as a Kid

This has a fabulous cast.  Wonder Harryhausen work.  A classic tale.  Glamour.  Monsters and a Flying Horse.  What's not to like?

And yes, I still lose sleep smarting over the remake.

Satin and Steel @ Oldham Coliseum Theatre

I'll have to be honest.  I wasn't looking forward to this.  I'm not a fan of 'club entertainment'.  It's just not my thing.

However this was the perfect setting for this story.  It was anything but the story that I was expecting to unfold.  It was well told and very well acted.  Roxanne Pallett was great as Teena, the local girl with a voice.  She was a pleasure to watch.  Matt Healy was brilliant as Vince for the opposite reason.  He came across perfectly as the sleazyish lounge singer wannabe.  He really did give me the creeps.

I really felt for Teena.  You know how when your heart breaks for someone.  That doesn't happen to me too often in the theatre.

The script had been altered slightly to set it in Oldham.  I think this was a great touch, done very well.  You really could vision the characters.

One of the topics raised shocked me.  I didn't expect it to be seen at the Oldham Coliseum.  Credit to them that they were happy to broach the subject.

All in all I'd say this was an excellent play.  Go see it.  Book your tickets on 0161 624 2829  The Oldham Coliseum is

This was directed by  Joyce Branagh.  And yes, it is nice to have Kenneth's sister at our local theatre ;-)

4 out of 5 pawprints

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book 26 of the 50 Book Challenge

Doctor Who and The Android Invasion  by Terrance Dicks, 120 pages

This is the latest in my following and reading along of Paul's Blog Now as I remember I enjoyed the tv version of this story.  I can't really say the same for the book.  It's not told with any gusto.  It's like a bored person describing the events.  You don't feel any sense of danger, elation, anything.  This should have been a good read.  There's a good story to tell here.  It's the first time I've been disappointed by a Target novelisation.  I'm worried it won't be the last....

2 out of 5 pawprints

Total so far, Books - 26, Pages - 8,026

Next - I'm unsure.  I need to decide on my holiday reading...  I bet the suspense is killing you ;-)

Day 28 - 30 Film Challenge

The Most Obscure Film I've Ever Seen

This is a film made in the 1960's by the BBC.  It depicts life in Britain once Nuclear War has broken out.  It was never shown in the 1960's.  It was decided to be too horrific for broadcast.  I've heard rumours that the government put a stop to it being shown but I'm unsure how valid they are.  It was finally shown in full on British TV in the 1980's.

It is described as a documentary but nowadays I think it would be labelled a docu-drama.  

It is horrific, very dark and makes you very glad the Cold War is no longer.  It did get a limited BFI release on DVD.  'New' copies are available on Amazon for £99.99.  Making me wonder why they don't make a few more copies to sell.

It is available on YouTube in various chapters.  The first of which is below.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I have to be open here.  I did try to read The Shadow of the Wind but I just couldn't get into it.  I put it to one side to try again in another mood.  It seemed perfect for me.  A spooky mystery story, about books, set in Barcelona.

I recently listened to a BBC World Book Club podcast.  It was a question and answer session with Carlos Ruiz Zafon, discussing his most famous book The Shadow of the Wind.  In the podcast he gave a couple of readings from the book and discussed many aspects of himself as a writer and the book.  All the time coming across as a thoroughly nice man.

What I liked most were two of the points he made.  One when he was asked if he could avoid old book shops and their wares.  he made it quite clear he could not, then said  "I remember when I was a kid, I always thought that if you can take just paper & ink and create characters & worlds & images that was the coolest thing.  It was like magic.  And I still feel that way.  I think it's wonderful that you can create all those things out of ink and paper, nothing else."  I thought was a wonderful thought to have as a child and take through with you to adulthood as a best-selling author.  I do think he's missing the two shakes of fairy dust though.  You need a write with the imagination to put th pen to the paper.  Then you need your own imagination to help you vision it as you read.  Here is a man that would understand when I say I can only truly lose myself in a book I love.

Later he was asked if he had any offers or plans to put his books onto the screen "Nothing tells a story with the depth, the riches, the complexity that a novel does when it's done right.  The best film version you're ever gonna see of Shadow of the Wind is playing in the theatre of your brain when you're reading.  The book is designed to work like that.  To evoke these images, these textures and the dynamics, movement & light and out you there.  So the idea of a movie seems extremely redundant and wrong to me.  And the only real reason to do that would be money.  Money is a great thing because it buys freedom and time, so I'm not putting down money.  But I think that the money I'm not making by not selling these books is the price I pay to preserve them as I think they should be.  And I think that because of the success of this novel has been made by the readers, by people who love books, who recommend this book among themselves.  In many ways I feel I owe it to readers to keep the books as they are.  Not sell them as a some piece of merchandise so they become something else."  Here he received a round of applause.  He acknowledged that he is lucky to be in a position to have this choice and that not all writers are so lucky.  Then he promised no films of his novels over his 'dead body'.  Even though you don't have to see the film made of the book you love.  Knowing it's out there is enough to bug you.  I think the man is right.  Vision your greatest reads yourself.  Film screenplays not my favourite books.

Oh, and yes.  I will be picking up the book for a proper read very soon.  It sounds wonderful :-)

The BBC World Book Club podcast can be found here 

Day 27 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Independent Film

A most impressive debut film.  Clever, without being too clever.  Nods to the classics with it's own take on things.  Impressive performance.  It looks fantastic.  All on what would be termed a micro-budget.  It seems every penny was very well spent, never does it look cheap.  I saw this twice in the cinema and I think I'll be seeing it many times more via DVD.  This film was made by a man who must love the sci-fi genre and love the same things about it that I do.  The ideas, the visions of the future.  The examination of ourselves as a race.  Not just' splosions and FX.  It's sci-fi with a soul rather than just a veneer.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book 25 of the 50 Book Challenge

The Meaning of Sport  by Simon Barnes, 357 pages

Started April 18th, finished April 25th.

This is a book I borrowed from my friend Shane.  he is the main contributor to a great sporting blog Greatest Events in Sporting History 

This was one of the strangest reads I've had.   Trying to capture the Meaning of 'Sport' is hard.  Sports may all have common goal but every sport is still different.  I also think that meaning may be different to each person contemplating the question.

Simon barnes is without doubt a good writer.  He also understands his remit.  It's just that we don't always see eye to eye on the subjects he raises.  I found myself having an 'aah, thank God he managed to make that clear to me' moment half the time.  The other half I was struggling to try and phrase why I disagreed or wanted to take the question further.

He is fond of using the term 'Redgrave' for a great sportsman.  Redgrave's achievement's can never be denied.  But he doesn't explain what Redgrave had that his teammates hadn't.  Redgrave never won on his own.  This leads to the main question I would have added to the text.  What is the difference between solo and team sport.  he does look at how one man can change the force of a team but no further.

He mentions Liverpool's 'shock' winning of the 2005 Champions' League more than once.  But never really gives mentions to other 'shock' wins.  He seems more interested in what makes the great sporting minds tick.  Those that win again and again.  At the risk of sounding whiny I couldn't understand why he failed to talk much of Arsenal's unbeaten season and what created such a great team.  The word 'Treble' is never mentioned.  I can only think that this means he doesn't see that as an achievement worthy of note.

I would have liked to see how he thought of a football manager.  Is he part of the team?  Does he think they have a big effect on what happens on the pitch or do they just shop well?  Is a football manager different to an athletics trainer?  But he seems to think that football is given far more exposure than other sports.  Maybe he was trying to level the balance.

His thoughts on Paula Radcliffe seemed very harsh.  You couldn't deny the points he made though.  I wish he had said if he ever thought she could recover from 'Failure'.  Or if her career was indelibly stained.

All in all I enjoyed this book.  It did seem to make me query sport more than I have before.  It also revealed more questions for me than it answered.  Which is always good.

I don't have the author's passion for sport.  It sits on the periphery of my life.  I look at it mostly as an outsider if at all.  I find it interesting rather than have a passion for it.

The author made no friends telling me of his animal sightings ;-)  I just got very jealous!

 3.5 out of 5 pawprints

Total so far, Books - 25, Pages - 7,906

Next - Doctor Who and the Android Invasion by Terrance Dicks

Day 26 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Foreign Language Film

I only saw this film relatively recently.  I am not that well up on the Nouvelle Vague.  What struck me at first was how this was 'Paris in a movie' but the side of Paris cameras rarely catch.  Away from the glamour of the City of Light.

You follow Antoine through a pretty bleak existence.  The empathy flows pretty much from the start.  It has a great ending which will keep you and your fellow viewers discussing it for a while.

I have seen some of the follow up films but this is the only Antoine Doinel story that I'm really fond of.  I should stop referring to it as Les Quatres Cents Loups with my terrible French.  As my dad says, that would be an entirely different film ;-)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 25 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Documentary Film

Now, I love towers.  I feel they're our mark on the world.  A statement that we're here on this planet.  Some are nicer than others but all hold an allure.  I want to get to the top.  The top as in the legally allowed top.  The top that's reached by a lift.  Preferably with a nice screen telling you how fast you're climbing. I then like to look out of the windows of the provided observation deck.  Feel a little queasy at the height.  Marvel at the ant cars and be impressed with the architecture and engineering that got me to the observation deck.  I NEVER want to do anything like sneak away from the provided area.  I am way too scared.

The Twin Towers weren't admired by everyone for their aesthetics.  People had complained about them from the time they were a sparkle in the NYC planners eyes.  But they were awe inspiring.  Not just one but two.  To stand at the bottom and look up was an experience in itself.  The pop of your ears in the lift gave you a smile.  The view from the top was spectacular.  They are all normal thoughts.

To cross between them on a wire?  That is above and beyond what I believed possible.  I'm not sure if I believe it now after reading the book (To Reach the Clouds) and watching the documentary twice each.

This documentary keeps me totally engrossed.  I feel my gut clench as he begins his folly.  Even though I knew the outcome.  I don't think I'd describe Philippe Petit as brave exactly. To be brave you need to first be afraid.  I'm not sure he ever was afraid, just determined beyond all normal levels.

Those towers inspired me as to what we could achieve.  His walk was something beyond what we should be capable of achieving.  Thankfully he achieved his goal safely.  

The story of how he and his band of helpers got to the finale is pretty damn good too.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 24 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Animated or Children's Film

I have yet to see a better animated film.  This is just wonderful in every way.  A fantastic one to singalong to.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 23 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Thriller/Mystery Film

This is pretty much a perfect film for me.  I can't think of any real weaknesses.  Great, large cast, all performing very well across a broad range of characters.  Twists and turns, well told.  It looks beautiful with some wonderful scenery.  Even when you know the plot it's still a great watch.  This one was close with Chinatown, a similar film.  This one pipped it on rewatchability.  I can rewatch both but LA Confidential more often.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 22 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Horror Film

This is the first film I saw of del Toro's and it immediately made me want to see more.  The cast is superb, no mean feat when a lot of them are children.  It has a wonderful sense of atmosphere and unfolds as a spooky tale should.  It also has Eduardo Noriega who is never too difficult to watch ;-)

I know most people think of Pan's Labyrinth as del Toro's masterpiece but this is my favourite.  Although there isn't much between them.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 21 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Sci-Fi Film

I love this film so much.  I love the look, the feel, the soundtrack, the cast, the world they created.  I never get tired of it.  It's definitely in my top 5 films.  If I ever drive past Ellesmere Port at night it reminds me of Bladerunner.  I'm not overly concerned with which cut is the best, I have them all and I'll watch whichever I feel like.  I am grateful to Scott's fiddling though as it gave me a chance to see this in the cinema :-)  What did surprise was that I could not get into the novella Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep'. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

RIP Elisabeth Sladen

Full disclosure, if you want an obituary that does the Doctor Who legend justice you need to look further.  Maybe at some of the blogs I follow to the left of this page.  This is a selfish little post on what Sarah-Jane meant to me personally.

There are two times I feel the TARDIS has carried a perfect Doctor/Companion combination.  The 2nd Doctor & Jamie  and  The 4th Doctor and Sarah Jane.  My two favourite Doctors and my two favourite companions.  Obviously I have seen much more of Sarah Jane Smith, as her stories are more accessible.

As a youngster, watching my VHS releases and reading my Target novels I had no idea about feminism.  I didn't realise that Sarah Jane having a brain, a career, wit and intelligence along with a proper stint as a Companion made her unique.  I just knew I liked her, a lot.  These were the reasons I liked her more than most I just didn't know it.

Sarah Jane didn't need a costume to be remembered.  She is remembered with such fondness because of her personality and the performance.  I always think her stint on Dr Who was much longer than it actually was.  She was such a big part of DW for me it's surprising to learn she was only around for a few years.

She was immensely likable.  Her journalistic inquisitiveness allowed her to get herself into trouble rather than her stupidity.  She didn't squeal a lot but she squealed when appropriate.  I loved the ways she said 'Doctor' or 'Doc-tor....'  I loved her smile and her wry grins.  She was lucky enough to be companion at the beginning of Tom Baker's run.  When he was at the top of his game.  There's a reason the BBC released so much from that era early on.  It was DW gold.  The TARDIS team has never been better.

I have wondered if John Smith and Sarah Jane Smith are family.  That's a nice thought.  They definitely had a wonderful bond.

Having said all this I have never seen the actress in another role.  To me Elisabeth Sladen and Sarah Jane are pretty much indistinguishable from each other.  I don't mean this to be dismissive.  Just that she was so perfect in the role.

I have never watched The Sarah Jane Adventures.  They didn't seem to be for me.  Maybe I will sometime in the future.  For now I'm remembering her and the Fourth Doctor and her feistiness.

RIP Elisabeth Sladen, you will be missed.  Thanks for all you've given us, it was some of the best.

Day 20 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Romantic Film

This is such a beautiful film, in every way.  It heightens my suspicion that Sicily may be the most neautiful place on Earth.  It has it's moments of romance in the traditional sense.  The whole thing just feels 'romantic' to me though.  Maybe I shouldn't skew my meanings like this.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Game of Thrones - TV Show

I've been looking forward to this one for a while.  The cast looks great, the production seems excellent and I've just read the book.

The first few scenes definitely had me interested.  They were very eerie, harsh and looked wonderful.

It seems that for me  the main bonuses are how it looks and the casting.  Sean Bean isn't how I'd imagined Eddard Stark but he totally convinced me.  Jamie Lannister is played, just as I'd visioned him.  Lena Headey is wonderfully unsettling as Cersei.  Brandon Stark is fantastic.  Tywin Lannister looks like he'll be providing some cynical comic relief.

The only characters I was a little unsure of were Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen. Daenerys is far too old but it seems that HBO have shied away from having a 13yr old commit and have committed against her the acts within the book.  The Khal seems a little too wooden for my tastes.  I will give them a few more episodes before I let myself be disappointed yet though......

Let's be honest though.  I really want to see a whole lot more of those cute little Direwolf pups.  Stop teasing HBO!

I can't see how this is the show to bring Fantasy back from the Geeks.  It definitely has more tits and a bigger budget.  Will that be enough to open it to a new audience?  It's hardly a break from the typical Fantasy tale.

The episode went out with a bang.  All in all I'll definitely be tuning in again.  I hope it continues to keep me happy as the run goes on.  I'm looking forward to seeing another couple of my favourite actors turning up.

Day 19 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Action Film

This one I saw recently on the big screen.  No this one didn't come top for it's progressive depictions of women ;-)  It wins purely for starting one of my favourite film series', the nostalgia I feel for watching them throughout my life and well of course, Mr Connery :-)  I know it has it's cheesy moments but I still love to watch it and most of it's sequels.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Book 24 of the 50 Book Challenge

A Game of Thrones  by George R R Martin, 807 pages

Started April 6th, finished April 17th

This was chosen due to it appearing on my TV soon.  I always prefer to read the story before I see an adaptation.  When it arrived I was more than a little daunted.  It's bloody massive!

I'm surprised I hadn't heard of the book before the adaptation.  It seems to be heralded as a fantasy milestone.   I haven't dabbled in the fantasy genre for that long I'm totally out of the loop.

The book is chopped into easy digested chapters.  These chapters tell the tale of about 5/6 of the main characters.  It's a good way to keep up with the goings on many miles apart.  The characters are well painted, if not all that original.  The pace is kept up, thankfully or I don't think I'd have made it through.  The lands are typical fantasy places.  Cold North, warmer South and hot across the sea.

I was asked by Karode which my favourite characters were.  I'd have to say my favourite would be Arya Stark.  A little girl who doesn't want to be ladylike.  I wonder who that reminds me of ;-)  Tyrrion Lanister is also a favourite.  I enjoyed trying, and failing, to figure him out.  Same with Petyr Baelish (can't wait to see him played by Aidan Gillen). Really I'd have to say that all the 'good' characters, namely the Starks and a few others, I liked.  The 'grey area' characters, of which there are a few, I enjoyed.  The 'bad' characters however I found boring and predictable.  

The strong point of this novel has to be the characters for me.  I found the whole thing brought nothing new to a genre I seem to have fell out of love with.  I can't say it's a bad book.  It just didn't bring anything exciting.  The scope of it means I have been tempted to know more of events.  But, can I be bothered reading more of these doorstop books?  I'm really not sure I need to know that badly.  The closing scene of the book put me off greatly too.  It was slightly ridiculous and too fantastic for my tastes.

The killer for me maybe not reading any more is the HBO adaptation.  I've seen the first 10 minutes and it looks amazing.  The production seems to have spared no expense and the landscapes seem to be as lavish as they need to be.  From what I've seen of the casting I have no worries there either.  I may just watch it and hope they finish the series of books.  I could read three other complete tales in the time it takes me to read one book of this serial.  If I do return it won't be for a while yet.

Roll on tonight.  I want to see the next 50 minutes!

 3 out of 5 pawprints

Total so far, Books - 24, Pages - 7,549

Next - The Meaning of Sport by Simon Barnes

Day 18 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Comedy Film

Now this one was difficult.  It ran very close with Le Diner de Cons and Les Visiteurs.  Both of which I highly recommend.  I have seen the remake and it is good.  I do prefer the original though.  I have the sequel but I'm a little scared to watch it.  You know how these things are.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book 23 of the 50 Book Challenge

A Wine Miscellany by Graham Harding, 168 pages

Started February 22nd, finished April 15th

This one has sneaked in as I didn't expect to finish it before Game of Thrones.

This was a gift from my husband.  I'd had a little look at a few bits and pieces but never actually read it.  As it's the perfect 'titbit' book it was off the 'to read' shelf at last.

It contains many weird and wonderful wine facts.  As well as many useful hints and tips for anyone interested in wine.  You don't have to have a knowledge of wine to enjoy this book.  In fact reading it could start you off with an interest in wine.  If you do have an interest in wine I'd definitely recommend it.  

It can be read as a book or used as a reference tool.  There are more complex and full guides to wine out there.  The joy of this is it's lightness and humour.  If you like to know which wines literary characters prefer this is one for you.

3.5  out of 5 pawprints

Total so far, Books - 23, Pages - 6,714

Next - A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin (really this time)

Day 17 - 30 Film Challenge

My Favourite Drama Film

I've loved this film since I first saw it.  It's shameful really.  It's a story of horrid, bored, rich people trying to take down the one good person in their arena.  I can't help it though, it's a great watch.  I think it has Close, Pfeiffer and Malkovich's finest performances.  Thurman and Reeve's get regularly slated but I usually enjoy seeing them on screen.  I probably should read the (translated) book shouldn't I?  I have seen Cruel Intentions, which was much better than I expected but this is far superior for me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 16 - 30 Film Challenge

A Film I loved but Now Hate

Hate is too strong a word.  But this is my biggest childhood favourite, rewatch disappointment.  It was so predictable, boring and trite. I was quite upset.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Blogosphere

Caroline's Miscellany

I found this blog thanks to a tweet from the Manchester Modernist Society

The first post I came across was a look at her visit to the BT Tower.  I've always been fascinated by the BT Tower in London.  A fascination I can do nothing about :-(  To say I'm jealous of the access the blogger had would be a huge understatement!  I'm just glad she's shared this and other things with us via her blog.

The blog contains some lovely pictures and explanations at some nice locations.

Go and have a look, it can be found at

Day 15 - 30 Film Challenge

A Film that Depicts My Life

We'll have to go tongue in cheek here.  There is no film that is as boring as my life!  So, as my life has always been ruled by felines I've gone for the excellent Bring Up Baby.  Grant and Hepburn at their best with an exceptionally good-looking co-star.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 14 - 30 Film Challenge

A Film No-one Expected Me to Like
This was a toughie.  I'm pretty predictable in my tastes.  The thing with this one is I dislike musicals and 'period but modern' tales.  I think this was just too much fun to dislike though.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book 22 of the 50 Book Challenge

The Tattoo Murder Case  by Akimitsu Takagi, 324 pages

Started March 31st, finished April 5th

The book is another borrow.  This time from my dad.  The provider of a hell of a lot of my reading material :-)

I knew this was a crime novel set in post-war occupied Tokyo.  I pre-judged this to mean that it would be very dark.  Although murder is never a light topic this book can't really be described as dark.  It's definitely got humour.

The descriptions of the Japanese art of tattooing and its results were wonderful.  They sound absolutely wonderful.  Much more interesting than the Western style.  I would love to see one in real life.

The characters in this book are great.  It was an easy job to get to know them.  They all added a little to the telling of the tale.

The mystery is well set-up.  The solving of the mystery is excellent.  It takes plenty of time and gives you a great ride through the book.  I had my suspicions on the guilty party but not how they'd done it.  It was interesting to see it explained.  With a few surprises thrown in.  The author left me wanting to read more about these characters.  Always a good thing.

4.5 out of 5 pawprints

Total so far, Books - 22, Pages - 6,546

Next - A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

Day 13 - 30 Film Challenge

A Guilty Pleasure

I love this film in all it's cheesy glory.  The ridiculousness, the cliches, the terrible effects none of it matters. It's just damn good fun.  Saying that, I have yet to see Escape From LA.  I don't want to ruin Escape From NY if I hate it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Know I Said I Wouldn't, but....

Last year I ran the 5k Race for Life in order to raise money for Cancer Research.

Thanks to people's generosity I raised over £400.  I then said 'Don't worry I won't be harassing people for sponsor money next year.'  I didn't want to be waving a sponsorship form at everyone, all the time.

However, one of my friends has breast cancer and has asked people to run this year's Race for Life.  There is also another girl in our town, also very young, suffering the same disease.  Locally their friends have done a massive amount, organising events to raise money for Cancer Research.  It seems surly not to politely request sponsorship to aid this good (and now more personal) cause.

I am running two races this year.

The Great Manchester Run (10k)


Heaton Park's Race for Life (5k)

If you would like to sponsor me, please click on one of the links on this page.  I will be very grateful for any amount, however small.  Every but makes a difference.

Day 12 - 30 Film Challenge

A Film by my Least Favourite Director

This was a toughie.  I don't have a least favourite director really.  If I hate a film it's unlikely I'll give a director another go.  So I went with the film that left the nastiest taste in the mouth.  This film was awful.  The first one was unnecessary but didn't really stain one of my favourite tv shows.  This one did.  It touched on the offensive and the reek of cashing in was potent.  If you're going to look at how women are treated in certain parts of the world don't belittle it with Gucci.  Michael Patrick King (and everyone else involved) SHAME ON YOU.