Wednesday 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!

Wishing Everyone a Magical 2015! 

Love Zoe xx

Saturday 29 November 2014

The Carnegie Long List for Childrens Books

The Carnegie Medal Long List for Childrens Books

The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children.
It was established by in 1936, in memory of the great Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). Carnegie was a self-made industrialist who made his fortune in steel in the USA. His experience of using a library as a child led him to resolve that "if ever wealth came to me that it should be used to establish free libraries."
Carnegie set up more than 2800 libraries across the English speaking world and, by the time of his death, over half the library authorities in Great Britain had Carnegie libraries.
First awarded to Arthur Ransome for ‘Pigeon Post’, the winner receives a golden medal and £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice.
The medal is awarded by CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

I always look forward to seeing the Carnegie Long List. However over the past couple of years the list seemed to lean towards books of dark subject matter so I was really glad to see this year a more eclectic mix suitable for all kinds of readers.

I have put the ones I have read so far on the top with links to my reviews with the rest below.

Carnegie Long List Books Reviewed.

Christopher, Lucy. The Killing Woods
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781906427726

Gemin, Giancarlo. Cowgirl
Publisher: Nosy Crow. ISBN: 9780857632814

Sales, Leila. This Song Will Save Your Life
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447252832

Lockhart, E. We Were Liars
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471403989

And The Rest......

Angus, Sam. Captain
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447263029

Avery, Tom. My Brother's Shadow
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781849397827

Baldacci, David. The Finisher
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447263005

Barraclough, Lindsey. The Mark of Cain
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300199

Bedford, Martyn. Never Ending
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406329926

Bergin, Virginia. The Rain
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447266068

Black, Holly. The Coldest Girl In Coldtown
Publisher: Indigo. ISBN: 9781780621302

Blaxill, Gina. Saving Silence
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447208846

Booth, Anne. Girl With A White Dog
Publisher: Catnip Publishing. ISBN: 9781846471810

Bowler, Tim. Night Runner
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192794147

Boyne, John. Stay Where You Are And Then Leave
Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books. ISBN: 9780857532930

Breslin, Theresa. Ghost Soldier
Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books. ISBN: 9780857533050

Brooks, Kevin. The Ultimate Truth: Travis Delaney Investigates
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447238966

Butler, Heather. Us Minus Mum
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers. ISBN: 9780349124070

Buxton, Jamie. Temple Boys
Publisher: Egmont Books. ISBN: 9781405268004

Cain, Cate. The Jade Boy
Publisher: Templar. ISBN: 9781848772298

Camden, Steven. Tape
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books. ISBN: 9780007511204

Cantor, Jillian. Searching For Sky
Publisher: Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408846643

Carroll. Emma. The Girl Who Walked On Air
Publisher: Faber Children's Books. ISBN: 9780571297160

Cassidy, Anne. Finding Jennifer Jones
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471402289

Chan, Crystal. Bird
Publisher: Tamarind Books. ISBN: 9781848531239

Conaghan, Brian. When Mr. Dog Bites
Publisher: Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408842539

Cotterill, Jo. Looking At The Stars
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300182

Creech, Sharon. The Boy On The Porch
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781849397728

Crossan, Sarah. Apple and Rain
Publisher: Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408853061

Crow, Matthew. In Bloom
Publisher: Much-In-Little Books. ISBN: 9781472105516

Crowe, Sara. Bone Jack
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781783440054

David, Keren. Salvage
Publisher: ATOM Books. ISBN: 9780349001371

Dawson, James. Say Her Name
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471402449

Day, Susie. Pea's Book of Holidays
Publisher: Red Fox. ISBN: 9781782952602

Dickinson, Matt. The Everest Files
Publisher: Vertebrate Publishing. ISBN: 9781906148928

Doherty, Berlie. The Company of Ghosts
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781849397292

Don, Lari. Mind Blind
Publisher: Kelpies. ISBN: 9781782500537

Doyle, Roddy. Brilliant
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447248804

Earle, Phil. The Bubble Wrap Boy
Publisher: Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780141346298

Easton, T.S. Boys Don't Knit
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471401473

Elson, Jane. A Room Full Of Chocolate
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books. ISBN: 9781444916751

Furniss, Clare. The Year of the Rat
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books ISBN: 9781471120275

Gaiman, Neil (author) Riddell, Chris (illustrator). Fortunately, The Milk...
Publisher: Bloomsbury ISBN: 9781408841761

Gardner, Sally (author) Roberts, David ( illustrator) Tinder
Publisher: Orion Children's Books. ISBN: 9781780621494

Gavin, Jamila(author) Collingridge, Richard (illustrator) Blackberry Blue: And Other Fairy Tales
Publisher: Tamarind Books. ISBN: 9781848531062

Gibbons, Alan. Hate
Publisher: Indigo. ISBN: 9781780621760

Gilman, David. Monkey and Me
Publisher: Templar. ISBN: 9781848773356

Gleitzman, Morris. Loyal Creatures
Publisher: Puffin Books. ISBN: 9780141355009

Green, Sally. Half Bad
Publisher: Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780141354309

Haig, Matt. Echo Boy
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300069

Hall, Tim. Shadow of the Wolf
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9781910200001

Hardinge, Frances. Cuckoo Song
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN 9780330519731

Haughton, Emma. Now You See Me
Publisher: Usborne Books. ISBN: 9781409563693

Hearn, Julie. Dance Of The Dark Heart
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192729309

Helsby, Genevieve (author) Eklund, Karin(illustrator). My First Orchestra Book
Publisher: Naxos Books. ISBN: 9781843797708

Howes, M.J. Feed
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781908435965

Ho-Yen, Polly. Boy In The Tower
Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books. ISBN: 9780857533036

Inglis, Lucy. City of Halves
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781909489097

Johnson, Catherine. Sawbones
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406340570

Laird, Elizabeth. The Fastest Boy In The World
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447267164

Landman, Tanya. Buffalo Soldier
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406314595

Lewis, Gill. Scarlet Ibis
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192793553

Mason, Simon. Running Girl
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9780857560582

Massey, David. Taken
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781908435736

McCaughrean, Geraldine. The Middle Of Nowhere
Publisher: Usborne Books. ISBN: 9781409522003    

McGovern, Cammie. Amy and Matthew
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447239000    

McGowan, Anthony. Hello Darkness
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406337846

McKenzie, Sophie. Every Second Counts
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books. ISBN: 9781471116049    

Mitton, Tony. Wayland
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9780857560148

Moorhouse, Tom. The River Singers
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192734808    

Ness, Patrick. More Than This
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406331158

Nicholls, Sally. Close Your Pretty Eyes
Publisher: Marion Lloyd Books. ISBN: 9781407124322

Pass, Emma. The Fearless
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books. ISBN: 9780552566155

Pratt, Non. Trouble
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406347692

Rai, Bali. Web of Darkness
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books. ISBN: 9780552562126

Reeve, Phillip (author) McIntyre, Sarah( illustrator). Oliver and the Seawigs
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192734556    

Riddell, Chris. Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9780230759800    

Rix, Megan. A Soldier's Friend
Publisher: Puffin Books. ISBN: 9780141351902

Robinson, Hilary (author) Impey, Martin (illustrator) Where the Poppies Now Grow
Publisher: Strauss House Productions. ISBN: 9780957124585

Rosoff, Meg. Picture Me Gone
Publisher: Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780141344034    

Sedgwick, Marcus. She Is Not Invisible
Publisher: Orion Children's Books. ISBN: 9781780621098

Sharpe, Tess. Far From You
Publisher: Indigo. ISBN: 9781780621654    

Slater, Kim. Smart: A Mysterious Crime, A Different Detective
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447254096

Smith, Alex. Devilskein and Dearlove
Publisher: Arachne Press. ISBN: 9781909208155

Smith, Andrew. Grasshopper Jungle
Publisher: Electric Monkey. ISBN: 9781405273411

Stevens, Robin. Murder Most Unladylike: A Wells and Wong Mystery
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books. ISBN: 9780552570725

Sutcliffe, William (author) Tazzyman, David (Illustrator) Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books. ISBN: 9781471122552

Suzuma, Tabitha. Hurt
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300205

Symon, Andrew. Jack Shian and the Mapa Mundi
Publisher: Black & White Publishing. ISBN: 9781845027063

Walter, Jon. Close To The Wind
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9781910200056

Westcott, Rebecca. Dandelion Clocks
Publisher: Puffin Books. ISBN: 9780141348995

Wednesday 26 November 2014

My Top Fifteen Most Visually Beautiful Films

My Top Fifteen Visually Beautiful Films

These are films which are a visual feast for the eyes. They are captivating, enchanting and breathtakingly beautiful. The film maker becomes an artist, his camera becomes his paintbrush.
This list is in no particular order and are films which have inspired and entranced me.
What beautiful film has inspired you?

The Black Stallion

Room With A View

The Big Blue 

The Red Shoes

Girl With A Pearl Earring

The English Patient

Out of Africa

American in Paris

Breakfast at Tiffanys

Memoirs of a Geisha

Moulin Rouge

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Gone with the Wind

Night of The Hunter

The Great Gatsby

Saturday 15 November 2014

Film Review The Imitation Game

English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.

My Musings
"Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine." 
Secrets within secrets. The story of how one man's genius and foresight helped win the war with what Churchill called the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany. What is extraordinary about this film is that no one knew of Alan Turing's role until recently when the official secrets act released his files 50 years on. Even though it is a travesty that he was not recognised until now i am not surprised it was kept secret. This is the true story of a man who broke an unbreakable code with a machine he built paving the way to many modern day inventions including the computer. The events that come after I found even more shocking, humbling and chilling. Through this man's amazing story you see how war is won and lost with ruthlessness, calculation, sacrifice and secrecy. Many a battle is lost it seems to win a war. In this case also, like many others forgotten heroes , the establishment use their finest minds and then discard when no longer needed. There seems to be no loyalty or thanks or reward although for the people of Bletchley park loyalty to their country was I believe enough.

The reason I have not mentioned the actual film yet is because the story for me made a bigger impact than the film if that makes sense. However there is an exceptionally strong cast with Benedict Cumberbatch underplaying Turin brilliantly with a quiet offbeat intensity. Kiera Knightly, Charles Dance and  Matthew Goode amongst others who add their weight to the cast. The story flows from Turing being bullied at school and his first crush to being recruited by MI6 to help break the Enigma code and then back to him being arrested for indecent behavior due to his homosexuality which was illegal in the UK up until 1967. 

Turing was a brilliant mathematician amongst other talents, a real Renaissance Man of his age. However he was also antisocial and very difficult to get on with which added to his terrible loneliness and feeling of isolation. This leads to some great pivotal scenes of him and his team clashing before succeeding in solving the enigma codes. The most chilling part comes after they crack the code and the next faze called Ultra. A logical system whereby they chose what information to pass on and what not to so the Germans would not realise they had cracked the code. The enormity of what they had to do, the sacrifice of so many people, the weight of responsibility of who lives and who dies for the greater good i found difficult to digest. It is why we are not told how exactly wars and battles are won. The normal person in the street would find it unpalatable. It is naive to think anyone can win a war without bloody decisions being made on both sides but the decisions over life and death were shown to be uncomfortably clinical. 

The other side of the story was of the man himself. He wanted to have company but his talent and brilliant mind stopped him from connecting with people on a social level. His arrest for indecency in the 1950's because he was a homosexual was shameful on so many levels but primarily because the government would have known and surely could have stepped in and swept it under the carpet. But no, he was chemically castrated and his reputation in tatters.That was the thanks this nation gave him for his service.

This story speaks of how those of us who are different, unique or special can be isolated and rejected because of how society finds it difficult to understand or accept  difference. 

A story of two halves. A man who fulfilled his intellectual promise but who was unable to connect with the world at large. Unique and misunderstood I hope this film helps put Alan Turing back into the history books where he truly belongs alongside other renaissance men who have enriched our lives while sacrificing their own. History will be his judge and  thankfully kinder to him than his contemporaries.

This is a must watch film that is enlightening and humbling. I am sure this will get loads of awards but the biggest award for this film is that it brought such an extraordinary man to the public's attention so we could honor him the way he should have been in his lifetime. 

The Queen gave Alan Turing a long overdue pardon in 2013 for which his family must gain some comfort.

Backround Story

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit Film Review


Jack Ryan, as a young covert CIA analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

My Musings

Under the fashionable premise of taking a popular character and squeezing more life out of it with a  prequel this takes Jack Ryan, previously played by Harrison Ford back to his beginnings with the CIA

The film starts as it means to go on. Jack, played by Chris Pine, escapes a devastating helicopter crash, saves his comrades with his back broken and then learns to walk again whilst meeting his true love played by Kiera Knightley. Phew!! and that's in the first 10 mins!

Its far too frenetic and over the top to grasp Jack's heroism. With Kenneth Branagh , hot of the success of Thor I was surprised there were such amateur mistakes. It felt rushed like he wanted to get the first part of the story out of the way and onto the bigger plot.

Here Jack uncovers a Russian plot (because of course he is a financial genius) and is soon sent out to Russia where he meets megalomaniac, Kenneth Branagh. I would suggest in future Kenneth stick to either directing or acting as clearly he cannot do both.

All the cast bring weight to the film which it badly needs but the direction is so haphazard and the plot is so ridiculous it really drains the film of enjoyment. The action and tension should have been through out. The middle is fine and gets quite exciting when Jack has to break into a high security office to get secret files and save Kiera. But when the film returns to the USA for the finale it goes downhill rapidly. The action sequence at the end is shockingly bad and just tedious.

It is such a shame as I loved the old films and this had all the potential for a new franchise with a stella cast. It even has a blink and you miss it appearance from Mikhail Barishnikov! But with all the money they clearly had thrown at this they just couldn't make it work. Kenneth seemed out of his depth and has no understanding of how to film a slick action thriller. A real pity as I love films like this and on this outing I will be waiting a  long time before another comes along.  Watchable only if your a fan of any of the great cast.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Book Review, Station Eleven By Emily St John Mandel


One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

My Musings

The book centres on events before and after the world is virtually wiped out by a lethal flu virus. Bearing in mind that ebola dominates the news at the moment this is very topical and unsettling. The quickness of the spread of the disease and how fast the world network crumbles is horrifying and , when you think about it in the cold light of day, a real possibility. Things we take for granted like electricity is a thing of the past and we see this new harsh world through the eyes of a small group of actors and musicians touring through the scattered communes of survivors. Some are friendly, some not so much, a bit like a futuristic wild west. The mental struggle with the isolation and how small the world has become without technology is chilling. St John illustrated vividly how minor things become huge, like a small cut becoming life threatening with no treatment. The touring band have to learn to take care of themselves, kill or be killed. Law and order are a thing of the past.

The story bounces back into the past also, following the life of an eminent actor who  dies in the first pages of the book from a heart attack. His journey to fame, his loves and his son. The past and present are woven together through random details which become significant later. Emily St John Mandel  has an intricate and vivid imagination that gives a filmatic flair to her storytelling. It is about survival, intimacy, friendship and courage. It is also about hope in the face of grave adversity. Thought provoking  and mythic in dimension it would be a great book for discussion in a book group. I warily say it would make a great film but she weaves such beautiful imagery of a future world I don't see how a film could possible capture it. 
Enjoy and be enraptured.

Emily St John Mantel Website

Sunday 19 October 2014

Book Review Cover Your Eyes by Adele Geras


Eva was once a legendary fashion designer until, mysteriously, she retired. Now widowed, she lives with her family in Salix House, the home she's owned and loved for forty years. When the family announces it's time to sell, Eva is deeply reluctant. The house contains memories and secrets that are part of her, although she never shares them. Megan is a fashion journalist working in London who interviewed Eva for a magazine. Torn apart by the brutal end of a love affair, Megan is drawn back to Salix House and Eva. Decades apart in age, the two women share a bond. Both are hiding something, but perhaps together they can confront their fears, their past pain and their uncertain futures - and discover the truth of Salix House's secrets

My Musings

A story of two women at different times in their lives, a young writer Megan is having an affair and Eve,  an 80 year old former fashion designer  is about to be forced to leave her home. Their lives entwine and secrets are uncovered. 

Megan, ends up becoming a nanny and companion for Eve and her grandchildren after being dumped by her married lover and leaving her job. Intermingled is Eve's story of her loves and career. Geras is a wonderful children's writer but this is the first adult fiction book of hers I have read. The premise of two strong women is interesting but the fragile balance between the two are, I found, too fragmented, which meant I became irritated about where the story was going. That said I was  tempted enough to carry on reading. 

I also had an issue with both protagonists. They are both selfish in their own way and you feel little sympathy for them, especially in the beginning. However the story reveals how they battle with their own demons past and present which keeps you hooked. It was this that will keep you reading even though Eva's story especially is a little far fetched. Would the trauma of a four year old really crystalise into having a cold relationship with her daughter. There is also a ghostly presence that I never quite got.

This dual plot formula seems to be very much of the moment but it could have been handled better , especially by such an experienced author. I felt it was rushed out to the orders of her publisher. It was unbalanced and even though the ending was very neatly tidied up I felt it was too neat for the extreme events that had preceded. Eva exposes her secret to her daughter and they go on to play happy families? And why has it been kept secret? Megan falls for a property developer and suddenly he has a crisis of conscience? 

I really felt that this could have been great but needed more editing and sharpening up. Its a good holiday read but instantly forgettable. Disappointing from such a gifted writer. 

One's to read by Adele Geras
Troy- Great retelling of a Greek Myth from the servants point of view. Suitable from 11+

For Dual plot 
Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Tuesday 7 October 2014

RIP Geoffrey Holder of Live and Let Die Fame

I always loved Geoffrey Holder in Live and Let Die.He is one of my favourite Bond Baddies. I will never forget at the end of the film him sitting on the train laughing insanely. It always sent chills through me but at the same time totally caught my imagination and I was fascinated. Brilliant character acting and, like the ballet dancer Robert Helpmann ,before him, who played The Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang his dancing skills certainly brought life to his performance and added an extra edge of menace. Brilliant and very sorry to here of his death. RIP Geoffrey Holder

Article about Geoffrey's life from
Geoffrey Holder, a dancer, choreographer, an actor (famously in the James Bond film “Live and Let Die”) and a two-time Tony winner for “The Wiz” who was famous for his deep voice and hearty, enthusiastic laugh, died of complications from pneumonia on October 5 in New York. He was 84.
Despite his wide range of artistic achievements, Holder probably reached his widest audience in his role as pitchman for 7UP in commercials of the 1970s and 1980s, in which he pushed the virtues of the “un-cola.”
Holder’s film career began with 1962’s “All Night Long,” a version of “Othello” adapted to the London jazz scene.
In “Doctor Dolittle,” he played the leader of the natives on Sea-Star Island — experiencing racism while on the shoot.
Holder appeared in Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask” as the Sorcerer before taking on the role of Baron Samedi in “Live and Let Die,” which had a considerable amount of Caribbean-flavored choreography.
In John Huston’s 1982 feature adaptation of “Annie,” Holder played Punjab, one of Daddy Warbucks’ bodyguards.
In 1992 Holder had a supporting role in the Eddie Murphy vehicle. In 1998 he appeared in the Claude Lelouch film “Change and Coincidence.”
Holder was born into a middle-class family artistic family in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He was mentored by his older brother Boscoe Holder, who led a dance troupe, the Holder Dance Company. After Boscoe moved away, Geoffrey assumed leadership of the troupe while still in his teens in the late 1940s.
Agnes de Mille helped bring him to the U.S., where he arrived in 1954, soon making his Broadway debut in the original, Caribbean-themed musical “House of Flowers,” for which he choreographed the Banda dance number.
For a year in the mid-’50s, Holder was a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. He was a performer in an all-black revival of “Waiting for Godot” in 1957, and in 1964 appeared in the musical review “Josephine Baker.”
For original musical “The Wiz” in 1975, he was both the director and the costume designer, winning Tonys for each.For original 1978 musical “Timbuktu!,” Holder was director, choreographer, costume designer and even the illustrated the Playbill cover.
Holder was director and costume designer for the 1984 revival of “The Wiz,” and he did the staging for a 1993 concert featuring the Boys’ Choir of Harlem and Friends.
He is survived by his wife, Carmen de Lavallade, and their son, Leo.

Sunday 5 October 2014

Vintage Film Review, Charlotte Gray


A young Scottish woman joins the French Resistance during World War II to rescue her Royal Air Force boyfriend who is lost in France.

My Musings

This film had such bad reviews I only watched it out of duress to avoid X Factor. Released in 2001 I can't believe I took this long and it was a revelation. I am not saying that this should have won awards by the bucket load or the reviews were unfounded but they were unfair and maybe at the time expectation was too high.

Cate Blanchett can certainly carry a film, she is luminous in this. Acting as a British spy in occupied France while trying to find her pilot boyfriend who has been shot down, it sees her being drawn into helping the French resistance against the Nazis. Forging a close friendship  with a father and son looking after two Jewish boys it proves a intimacy and growing tension in the film as the net slowly closes around them all.

For a war film it is gently powerful and subtly tense. Billy Crudup who plays the french resistance son and love interest, brings a strong and sensitive performance that is not overshadowed by Cate's dominating presence. The horror of that time is nodded to in the end and left to the viewers imagination which can be more dramatic that showing the aactual events. The weaknesses come from the gaping holes in the plot and the action scenes could have been more dramatic and tense at times. When a group of friends are shot it should have been horrifying but just missed a little on impact for example.

It is beautifully filmed and the camera loves Cate with  more than a nod to the golden age of Hollywood.
This is a film that takes its influence from the old school of film making and in this case it does it justice. This is a film which has certainly stood the test of time against the odds and it is a film to lose yourself for a couple of hours. Definitely worth a watch.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Happy Birthday Brigitte Bardot

Happy Birthday to Brigitte Bardot! This picture is of her with Picasso, during a visit to his studio at Vallauris, near Cannes, during the film festival in 1956. He actually refused to paint her!!

Most romantic story is about her romance with playboy Gunter Sachs.  Hours after they met, he arranged for a helicopter to douse Bardot's house in red petals: "It's not every day a man drops a ton of roses in your garden," she wrote, and married him precipitately in Las Vegas. 

Sunday 21 September 2014

Top Ten Favourite Dog Films

My Top Ten Favourite Dog Films

Let me know your favourite doggy movies, would love other suggestions!

1.Eight Below
This is my all time favourite and based on a true story. All about an Alaskan dog team surviving a bitter winter on their own. Beautifully filmed with Paul Walker playing second fiddle to the dogs. A real treat.

2.Lady and The Tramp
A Walt Disney classic. A Love Story that has seduced generations of children and adults.

3.White Fang
A wild dog, part wolf finds friendship with a young miner whilst running from a brutal past owner. Stunning backdrop and gorgeous dog. I have watched this so many times and never get tired of it.

4.Lassie Come Home
All time classic. So many Lassie films so little time! I have picked the Elizabeth Taylor version but honestly you can't go wrong with any of them. The modern version from a couple of years back is also lovely if you don't like old movies.

5.101 Dalmations
Mix loads of Dalmations with Glenn Close as Cruella DeVille and you have an instant hit. Funny, cute and a little dark. Something for all the family. Of course I do have to mention the cartoon version as well. Both have a charm that you can watch again and again

A family adopts a St Bernard puppy and as he grows watch chaos ensue. Laugh out loud film. Brilliant!

7.Because of Winnie Dixie
Lovely little film based on a classic childrens book. A little girl finds a dog and wants to keep it despite there being a no pet clause in their trailer park. Beautiful sentiment and wonderful characters. Divine Dog.

Brilliant and clever animated adventure about Bolt, A Hollywood Dog Star who gets lost and has to find his way home. Funny for all ages

9.Hotel for dogs
Adorable family film about a group of kids taking over a disused hotel to rescue and home abandoned dogs. Inventive.

10. Turner and Hooch
Classic with Tom Hanks and his sidekick Hooch, a French Mastiff. If dribble is not your thing then you should give this a miss. However Tom is at his funny best and a perfect foil to his dog partner. Funny and poignant.

Honorary Mentions

The Incredible Journey
The story of three pets, a cat and two dogs, who lose their owners when they are all on vacation. Can they find their way home?

The Call of The Wild
Jack London's classic story from 1903 about Buck, a dog kidnapped from his home in California and taken to the Yukon where he is mistreated until a prospector discovers him and relates to his situation.

Stray Dog saves 2 children.

All Dogs Go to Heaven
 dog returns from the dead looking for revenge on his killer using an orphan girl who can talk to animals
Cats and Dogs
This never appealed to me but its been so popular i thought I'd better put it in!! A look at the top-secret, high-tech espionage war going on between cats and dogs, which their human owners are blissfully unaware of.
K 9
To stop an elusive criminal, a maverick detective enlists the aid of a police dog who's an unusually intelligent smart alec.
A suburban family moves to a new neighborhood with their large yet lovable Great Dane, who has a tendency to wreak havoc in his own oblivious way.
Snow Dogs
When a Miami dentist inherits a team of sled dogs, he's got to learn the trade or lose his pack to a crusty mountain man.

You'll Need A Tissue, You Have Been Warned

These films I can't watch without shedding a tear. They are all beautiful films but don't watch if you want to cheer yourself up!
Grey Friars Bobby 
Marley and me