Wednesday, 14 August 2013

I got tagged! - my 10 favourite movies...

So, I got tagged by Miss Jane Bennet over at Classic Ramblings and I think this involves me writing down my 10 favourite movies (I'm actually not sure I have 10, but we'll see as I go along) and why I like them... should be fun :)

Apparently there are some rules, so here they are: 
1. List favourite movies (in no particular order)
2. Post James Movie Tribute Video somewhere on your blog 

3. Tag other blogs (optional)

1. NOTTING HILL: Oh my goodness, this film. It's romantic, funny, and has the line "happiness isn't happiness without a violin-playing goat", which I think speaks for itself...

2. TANGLED: Flynn Ryder, dreams and great songs. This film is pretty much as perfect as any film could get. And I'm probably not as ashamed as I should be to admit that I have a pretty big crush on a cartoon character (all I'm saying is at least this one is human, and I stand by the fact that Simba is an attractive lion) moving very swiftly on...

3. LES MISERABLES: Of course this one has to be a favourite. It makes me cry EVERY time at the finale, and it brought Les Mis to a wider audience, which is nice.

4. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (25th ANNIVERSARY): does this one count as a film? I don't much care, I'm going to include it anyway because I adore it. Hadley Fraser, marry me?

5. Too many Disney films to mention: mainly TARZAN, THE LION KING and BEAUTY & THE BEAST, but pretty much most of them. It's actually quite embarrassing how much I love Disney movies, but there's something about the classics and the songs that will never get old - everyone loves a bit of nostalgia, after all... and if I ever have kids, they will watch these films, even if they don't like them.

6. FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS: Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis together in one film? It was bound to be great anyway, but then they just made it hilarious too, at the same time as being unbelievably cute. Definitely a feel good film...

7. 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU: Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt just make this film. And the "Can't take my eyes off of you" scene is perfect.

8. THE HOLIDAY: Just saying Jude Law is probably enough explanation for this one.

9. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Every Christmas this film can be found on in my house -  not because it's a family tradition, most of the time it's just me sat in front of the TV with my duvet and a big bar of chocolate, but I've made it my own tradition, because it's lovely. 

10. THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE: The spiritual hippie in me loves this film. A movie about golf really isn't that appealing on the face of it, but really it's about life. And it has Will Smith spouting life lessons, which I wouldn't miss for the world :)

And the person I'm going to tag is Jess :) Happy Wednesday!!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A Thousand Splendid Suns

"One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls"

People have been telling me to read Khaled Hosseini's 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' for
years but it wasn't until recently, when I saw it staring at me from my crowded shelves of unread books, that I decided it was finally time to pick it up and start reading. 
This is the kind of book that it's virtually impossible to put down, and so you rush through the first pages until, as the end approaches, you suddenly realise that you don't want it to finish and so slow down as much as possible to take in the final 20 or so pages. 
This was such a touching book, although Hosseini does make you feel a multitude of different emotions as you read: from horror and despair, to disbelief and at some moments disgust. And then only pages later you are heartened, hopeful, and at times even joyous. 
But is this book better than The Kite Runner? Honestly, I'm not sure it is, and of course this is purely a matter of opinion and every reader will think differently, but for me there was just something more about The Kite Runner that had me thinking about it for days after I read the final page. In contrast, only days after finishing A Thousand Splendid Suns, the story is almost (almost) gone from my mind. But I did really enjoy it while I was reading it, and it's definitely a book that is difficult to put down. Also I'm not sure anyone needs to decide which book is better; they're both now favourites of mine, joining many other books which it would be so difficult to rank... basically what John Green said when asked what his favourite book was - "you want just one??!"
Hosseini really does have a way with words and there were so many 'quotable' sentences. The characters were great and I loved that the female characters ended up taking control of their own destinies, rather than waiting for men to sort everything out for them. (Hosseini even says that "a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated" - this quote makes me happy, and ironically, especially since it's written by a man). 
One of the great things about Hosseini's books is that they offer westerners an insight into Afghan society. I often feel bad at how little I know about the situation in the east with multiple wars that seem to have been taking place forever. It's even difficult to connect with the areas when disasters such as bombings are shown on the news, and so books like this will always be needed to remind us of all the atrocities that are taking place in the eastern world, and the fact that those events are just as bad there as they would be if bombings took place here. We just hear far less about it. 
There is even some much needed romance in Hosseini's book, in the form of Tariq. Although he isn't present for much of the story, you do get the feeling that he is always there in thought, and he gets to say one of the most beautiful and wonderfully soppy lines in the book: "I will follow you to the ends of the world" -- I may or may not have let out a very long (and very loud) "awwwwwwwh" at this point...

There are **SPOILERS** from this point on...

“Miriam wished for so much in those final moments. Yet as she closed her eyes, it was not regret any longer but a sensation of abundant peace that washed over her. She thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager, an unintended thing, a pitiable, regrettable accident. A weed. And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian. A mother. A person of consequence at last. No. It was not so bad, Miriam thought, that she should die this way. Not so bad. This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate beginnings.”

This quote is so beautifully written and is a perfect example of the overriding message of love presented throughout the book as a conquerer of everything, even the opinions of society. For me it also reminds me of what Dr Wayne Dyer - I love this man, he's so great :) - repeats again and again: that material objects are absolutely nothing, after all when we die we can't take any 'stuff' with us, and the love you give to all those around you is everything. Miriam really was a great character and I'm not quite sure I can forgive Hosseini for killing her, although I guess he did kind of make up for it, if only a little, with Laila's pregnancy at the end. I like that he left it up to the reader to decide the gender of her baby, and I'd be willing to bet most people who read the book like to think she has a girl. 
The last sentence of the book was beautiful and finished off the novel in a way that leaves the reader satisfied, rather than annoyed at the lack of a decent ending. So often the ending of books can be wrong (I'm still annoyed about 'Before I go to Sleep', ughh) but this one was just right and Hoseini's tone remained the same until the very end.
I'm definitely looking forward to reading his next book 'And the Mountains Echoed' at some point in the near future and if his first two books are anything to go by, it'll be absolutely amazing! 9/10.

Thursday, 1 August 2013


I can officially now label myself a 'Cumberbitch', and I'm proud of that fact. I had caught a couple of episodes of 'Sherlock' here and there while they were on TV but, although I wanted to watch it, the BBC series somehow evaded me for 2 years. But then my friend offered to lend me her boxset and I'm fairly sure I'm now suitably obsessed. Since yesterday evening I've watched all 9 hours of the first two series, despite the 30 degree heat outside, meaning I'm just as pale as ever but probably not as unhappy about that as I should be. Ugh, it's just so perfect.
Every so often you find a series in which every episode is just as amazing as the one that came before it. Friends was the first. And then came 'North and South' and 'Emma' in terms of period drama. And then there was Merlin, Miranda and of course Downton Abbey (the last Christmas episode doesn't count, I've wiped that from my memory). And now we have Sherlock, and it might just be the best of the lot. There's a wonderful combination of serious drama and comedy about Sherlock that makes it a fantastic series which I hope will never become tired. And it's always nice to have a light-hearted drama on TV to counteract the increasingly depressing EastEnders. 
The reworking of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes character to modernise the well-known stories and bring them into today's London, works so well I'm pretty sure it's better than the Robert Downey Jr./ Jude Law films. And I'll be honest, much of that is down to
yes, Benedict Cumberbatch will be in every picture
the brilliance of Benedict Cumberbatch. He basically makes the series and it's unlikely the whole thing would work so well without him. Additionally his pairing with Martin Freeman ('The Hobbit') as Dr. John Watson shows so much chemistry it's impossible to not believe that they're good friends. Although, having said that, I did keep shouting 'Martin' and 'Benedict' (I might have even called him 'Bennie' at some points which almost seems criminal) at the screen when something was going wrong, rather than 'Sherlock' or 'John'. Yeah... we'll forget that ever happened.

Actually it's probably a good thing I was home alone when I finally got round to watching the series because it's definitely the kind of show to get a little squealy about. Whether that's at the appearance of Benedict Cumberbatch's beautiful face on screen, or yelling at him not to jump off that building... and then later becoming a teeny bit hysterical when he appeared alive in the graveyard. 
Ever since Sherlock faked his own death in the last episode the internet has been alive with conjecture as to how he did it. Personally I have absolutely no idea. Not a clue. Perhaps Mycroft helped, perhaps he didn't. Maybe the man on the bicycle who knocked over Watson was involved, maybe he wasn't. After much wondering I've decided it's probably best to just wait for the new series to find out, although the only person I would bet on being involved is Molly. And I want her and Sherlock to get together. Ugh, there I said it. Seriously it would be so, so cute. Hmmm, maybe I'll send Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss a letter one day. 

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with myself waiting for the next series of Sherlock - hopefully the rumours that the air date has been pushed back to 2014 are untrue as I'm not sure I can wait that long. It has been released this week that the brilliant Moriarty will be replaced by a new nemesis by the name of Charles Augustus Magnusson. I've never heard of that character before but I'm sure it will be great, even if it will be difficult to replace Andrew Scott's wonderfully mental Moriarty. And the only other clue we have about the next series are three words: Rat, wedding and bow. What the hell that means I have no idea - does it mean bow as in tying a bow?? or bow as in take a bow?? I'm guessing the last one but I can't be the only person confused, right?
Sherlock is without doubt the best series that's been on TV in a while - I can't believe I'm saying this but it might even beat Downton. And so for as long as I can I shall try to wait patiently until Sherlock returns, but meanwhile I think I might just have to order the boxset of the first two series and satisfy myself with those 6 episodes for the next few months. Seriously, 3 episodes does not constitute a series!!! 10/10