Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wall-E review.




(Sorry dears, I’ve been on holiday and hence no posting. But on holiday I saw The Dark Knight & Wall.E, so, reviews follow!)

It’s several hundred years into the future and grubby little Wall.E is the last remaining robot on Earth, programmed to collect garbage around the world. By now the Earth has become such an unliveable mass of scum and debris that the humans had vacated the planet long ago, shirking responsibility for the mess they made to live it large in space.

Wall.E’s only company is a little cockroach that follows him about, until one day a spaceship lands in his vicinity, bringing with it Eve, a high-tech, no-nonsense pod robot that has been programmed to search for traces of life on Earth. Wall.E spies on Eve, and he is in turns bewildered and bewitched by her, but the principle emotion he feels toward her is love. So much love, in fact, that when the spaceship comes back to take Eve back, he follows his Goddess onto the ‘ship and it takes them to where all the humans have relocated; floated around in Space and with no intention of going home.

Any initial doubts I had about whether Pixar could pull off a futuristic robot movie were immediately quashed when we were introduced to the enigmatic robot himself. Wall.E’s existence is a mundane one; forcing rubbish into cube after cube, which he piles together to make towers of rubbish, but he finds pleasures in the household items he encounters – a spoon, a light, a bra. Back in his “home” – an upturned schoolbus he resides in, he gathers together all the items he collects, and falls asleep Hello, Dolly!, from which he becomes particularly fascinated with the act of holding hands, and wishes he has someone to do it with.

The romance between Wall.E and Eve is believable (yes, believable!) and poignant; I had tears in my eyes when he was tending to her and holding an umbrella to shield her from the rain, even though it resulted in himself getting electrocuted. Though the film is about robots (humans don’t feature until the second half, and even then they are just fat rolls operating electrical chairs, a sad reminder of where our society is headed) and the only words exchanged by the two leads are each others’ names, this is one of the must “humane” movies I have ever seen, with a lot of soul.

Beauty dominates practically every frame. The initial scenes of Wall.E captured the desolate, crumbling state of Earth, but Pixar has found loveliness in the most unexpected of places. This is Pixar’s most ambitious movie to date, and the landscapes and details are appropriately cinematic (the planet is captured with such meticulous pans and fade-outs that it feels almost Shawshank Redemptionly, no real surprise when we consider that Roger Deakins worked as a visual consultant on the movie). Another filmmaker who helped make The Shawshank Redemption the masterpiece that it was, Thomas Newman, also contributed to Wall.E, and his score, whilst not matching his personal best of the other Pixar movie he wrote for, Finding Nemo, still ranks as one of his best, particularly in his usage of the harp, which lends an otherworldly feel to the film throughout.

(Ahem. Sorry for all the references to The Shawshank Redemption here.)

My only qualm with Wall.E is that there isn’t enough humour in the movie. In a way, this is Pixar’s darkest movie to date; with its messages about society’s need to wake up to the problem of global pollution, commercialism, mass obesity and whatnot. The cheeky filmmakers even managed to slip in their own message to Disney; when the president in the old clip says “stay in the course.” But all this means that, whilst there’s the odd visual gag or two, Wall.E is not really all that funny, with no definite belly laughs. With last year’s Ratatouille also failing to tickle my funny bones, I worry that Pixar are becoming darker and darker these days, and leaving the comedic roots that served them so well in the past.

However, despite the fact that I cried more than I laughed, Wall.E still gets a resouding thumbs up from me. The animation is flawless, the entertainment is countless and for once, I became interested in sci-fi. And the denouement shows that it’s not too late; redemption is still available and we can still save the world if we really want to.

9/10.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

So, I’ve started watching Big Brother recently…

(Yeah, I know. But honestly, without school and seeing as I have no job, there’s literally nothing to do!)
These are my brief thoughts on each of the housemates:

Luke – he likes to stir, but I’m pleasantly entertained by him and his campness.
Rachel – I really like her. I know a lot of the housemates don’t trust her due to her tendency to sit on the fence, but having a nice person is what the house needs.
Sara – I’ve not seen enough from her to form a judgement yet
Stuart – I’m definitely liking him more now that Jen’s left. Not entirely sure if those tears in the Diary Room were geniune though.
Mo – a bit greedy, a bit bland
Mikey – hehe, I really like him! Watching him rant about being in hell last week was really entertaining
Rebecca - I can’t stand her. Whiny, loud, and just a spoilt brat in general. Although it did give me a huge amount of glee to see how depressed she was to be in Hell.
Maysoon – so dull.
Kat – great fun and can be really sweet, but sometimes goes too over the top with her singing and constant happiness.
Darnell – I’m starting to go off him, truth be told. He got too drunk with power at being elected Head of House, and needs to control his temper.
Rex – sarcastic and entertaining, but I don’t particularly like him
Dale – have a bit of a crush on him. Is definitely a better person now that Jen’s left.
Lisa – a bit boring, but a hard worker that never complains.

The Dark Knight has already set 8 records...

I like Peter Crouch.



1 - Largest number of opening theatres with 4,366 (more than the 4,362 debut theatres of pirates of the caribbean: at world's end in 2007).

2 - Biggest midnight preview gross with $18.489 million in 3,040 theatres (beats star wars episode iii: revenge of the sith and its $16.9 million in 2,915 theatres in 2005).

3 - Biggest imax midnight previews set an new record with $640,000 (included in the $18.489 million preview number).

4 - Biggest single-day gross in box-office history with $67.850 million (bests the $59,841,919 set by spider-man 3 in 2007).

5 - Biggest opening weekend gross in box office history with $155.340 million (bests the $151,116 million set by spider-man 3 in 2007).

6 - Biggest opening weekend gross for an imax release in box office history with $6,214,061 million in 94 theatres with $66,107 per theatre. (bests the $4.7 million set by Spider-Man 3 in 2007.) Imax showing at full capacity $1.9 million on Saturday alone.

7 - Biggest opening weekend of 2008 with $151.340 (beats Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull's $101.137 million from may 23-25, 2008)

8 - Biggest July opening ever (beats Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest's $135,634,554 on july 7, 2006).

source

Damn, that's a lotta numbers.

As Heath Ledger's character might say:
Bung

The Duchess poster.

Photobucket

Miss Knightley's in an awful lot of period pieces out this year. Dominic Cooper = win!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let's hear it for the boy('s movies)!

I recall a conversation I had with my friends in Physics lessons last year about Fight Club and how I used to continually go on and on about how I didn’t care for it. Wondering if this is because it’s considered a “lad’s” movie, and that I have quite girly taste in films, I thought I’d compile a list of movies for men that I do enjoy.

Half today, half another day when computer stop crashing.

In alphabetical order:

Bad Boys I & II (Michael Bay, 1995 & 2003)
No? But they’re like, so fun, people! Will Smith & Martin Lawrence are the odd couple Mike & Marcus, a stylish pretty boy with a nice car and a family man, who have 72 hours to retrieve $100 million worth of stolen heroin. Cue a couple of truly thrilling (albeit brainless) action sequences, featuring car chases, shoot-em-ups and a heavy dosage of style over substance. The two leads are likeable enough with genuine chemistry and there’s some witty banter between them. It won’t trouble MENSA, but it does offer lightweight entertainment on days when one doesn’t feel like bothering to read the subtitles on a Fellini film. The second film offers much of the same, except being even more violent and adult (yet rated 15 as opposed to the original’s 18… showing that the bbfc have no consistency), and with a louder blaxploitation soundtrack. Lil’ tidbit: the Bad Boys II OST was the first soundtrack I brought.

Casino (Martin Scorsese, 1995)
Starring his bessies De Niro and Pesci, edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and featuring themes of corruption and betrayal, Casino has the makings of a typical Martin Scorsese crime drama. But bunged in as well this time is a woman. Or, to be more precise, Sharon Stone, proving that she can act, in a career-best as wag-ish showgirl Ginger McKenna, whom Sam (De Niro) is trying to persuade to marry him, at the same time as Nicky comes into town with an agenda of his own that threatens to ruin the party.


Crouchybung
Three hours is a long time by any stretch of the imagination and admittedly, the movie does drag towards the end. But you’re on constant alert throughout the film, whether it be due to the foul language (398 usages of the f-word, bb), painfully sadistic violence (Joe Pesci shows us the more experimental usages of a vice) or just Pesci’s unsettling presence in general. Having a woman in the film really complicates things, making stakes much higher and the three leads are all impeccable. A brutal, disturbing but completely compelling depiction of the choices we make and the deals we do, you can bet your copy of Goodfellas that Casino is a damn good movie.

Dead Man’s Shoes (Shane Meadows, 2004)
Along with Dogville, one of the films that makes me despair at the human race. It tells the story of a soldier (played by Paddy Considine), who returns to his hometown to extract revenge on the group of bullying shits that had messed with his mentally-slow brother years ago. Dead Man’s Shoes has been called a slasher movie, and indeed, there’s disturbing bloody violence a plenty, but what unsettled me more was the treatment of the group of people towards Anthony, the mentally
handicapped boy. Those scenes were just so painful to watch and I wanted to kill the characters that were picking on them. I felt a great sense of justice when they eventually did die their slow and darkly comic deaths. The killing scenes are executed with such sterile aggressiveness that I was terrified throughout, but Considine’s performance completely carries the movie; without him, it may have just begun to sink into farce. Oh, and the revelation of truth at the end? I bawled like a baby. And it felt so cathartic to do so, after a litany of killing, to cry for the death of a character that I actually cared about.

Face/Off (John Woo, 1997)
A convoluted thriller starring John Travolta as an FBI agent who decides to “become” comatose criminal Nic Cage in order to discover the whereabouts of a bomb he has planted. Slightly daft, but great fun, with a pretty underrated cast involving John Travolta, Nicolas Cage (even if they don’t look anything like another), Joan Allen (elegantly wonderful as ever), Alessandro Nivola (hot), Gina Gershon (weird) and Dominique Swain (she played Lolita, thus, rules). And John Woo sure does know how to direct a rollickingly good action sequence!

Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino, 2003-2004)
The first time I heard of Kill Bill was when one of my friends told me about it, and I’d laughed. “Kill Bill?”, I’d scoffed, “That sounds like Like Mike!” Soon though, I found that having a rhyme in the title that these two films had in common. I saw the trailer of Kill Bill for the first time before Pirates of the Caribbean, and I was just blown away by how cool it looked, what with Battle without Honour or Humanity playing coolly underneath and all the quick-editing. I knew then that I had to see Kill Bill Vol. 1, and see it I did, on pirate DVD with my dad, and we both loved it. I became so obsessed with Kill Bill Vol. 1 that I used to walk around with a branch of a tree, imagining it was a samurai sword, I went round calling everyone “bitch” like they did, and anytime we had a school project that required backing music, Battle without… would be my track of choice.

The films themselves are good too, naturally. Uma Thurman kicks serious ass, the soundtrack is drool-worthy, and blink & you'll miss some of the uber-quick, hyperkinetic fight scenes. Plus, I personally adored the more "humane" strand in Vol.2, showing for once, that QT's inventions do have a heart. The look of maternal warmth in Bea's eyes when cuddling her daughter to the tune of McLaren's "About Her" is Tarantino's finest moment, in my opinion.

Mean Machine (Barry Skolnick, 2001)
Vinnie Jones showing that he can be likeable, he plays disgraced ex-footballer Danny Meehan who, falling discoveries that he was involved in match-fixing, falls from grace even further when he’s sent to prison for assaulting a police officer. Inside, pretty much everyone bar the odd football nut treats him like dirt. That’s until he puts together a game of cons vs. guards and suddenly everyone wants to be on his team, to prove to the guards that they’re not as useless as they’re continually told they are.

The first half of the movie, outlining Danny’s arrival at the prison and life inside it, is appropriately gritty, with all your typical British colloquialisms bunged about left, right and centre. All the clichés are there; Danny getting attacked, drug-dealing inmates, corrupt governors, etc. The second half revolves around the beautiful game, and the big match is filmed beautifully, with brilliant fouls thrown in, the type of fouls that would have present day footballers rolling around on the ground as if they’d been amputated. Danny’s team are winning at half-time, but then the governor, desperate for them to lose so he can make a profit from gambling, blackmails him with a longer sentence and Danny is forced to consider what means more to him – his personal freedom, or the spirits of his teammates. Not quite The Shawshank Redemption with footie, nor Bend it Like Beckham set in a prison, but terrific fun nonetheless.

So that was me. Feel free to share some men's movies you girls like, or vice versa.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Obsession with Film Classifications.

A post in conjunction with Culture Snob’s Self-Involvement blogathon. I thought I’d talk in detail about my weird obsession with film ratings.


I.L.P.C.


To start with, I’ll explain the British rating system. There are 5 ratings: U (suitable for all, the equivalent of G in the US), PG (parental guidance, ditto), 12A (which means that under-12s have to have an adult accompany them. 12A used to be a 12 and was changed to 12A immediately after I turned 12, so I was more than a bit pissed off about it), 15 (no-one under 15 can be admitted) and 18 (no-one under 18 can be admitted.)

The first time I visited the cinema in England was when I was 5. The film that I saw was Toy Story. It was wonderful, really. We had popcorn and sticky drinks and all the usual junk that is forced on you when you step into a cinema. Except, being the first time I’d ever had any of that food, I felt like I was in heaven. And the film itself was an experience of its own; I’d seen cartoons on TV before, but Pixar’s revolutionary brand of CGI amazed me. Back then I was probably too young to appreciate just how gorgeous and how much care had gone into creating every character, but all I know is that I thought it was pretty.

And I also remember being pretty damn scared by Toy Story at certain moments. I’d noticed that it was a PG, and perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but knowing that it wasn’t a U-rated film made me scared at several points in the movie; particularly whenever Sid was on. But this whole crazy-obsession-with-film-ratings that I started when I was 5 has definitely carried through, because when I was younger, I used to be immediately terrified/suspicious of a movie if it had the 18 logo on it.

Similarly, if a film were rated 12 or 15, I’d feel a sense of false security when I went into the cinema to watch it. Two cases in point with 12-rated movies: The Others and Red Eye. I was so sure of myself that they’d be harmless, that I’d watch the “scary” scenes and suppress a yawn, but with both movies, that wasn’t the case; I was completely ruffled by parts of the movie.

I didn’t feel so much of a complacency towards watching 15s. This was because, when we were learning Spanish for GCSE, our teacher had played us Talk to Her, which was a 15. Most of us were 14 and 15, and the class was just so immature about the entire movie. I must admit, seeing it for the first time, I was kind of disturbed by certain parts of it, but it wasn’t anywhere near the most disturbing thing I’d ever seen. However, that experience had just shown me that movie ratings are all very well in describing how much swearing, violence, etc is in a movie, but it doesn’t necessarily measure the impact they have on the viewer. (Case in point, Savage Grace, which I saw yesterday. It was just a 15, but the sight of Julianne Moore doing something to her screen-son will disturb me for ages. Another case in point, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. That “sex” scene between Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei, shudder.)

Anyway, I’m just really obsessed with movie ratings, even on DVD cases. I used to have this paranoid fear when I was 17 that looking at the back of a DVD case that was rated 18 would get me automatically expelled from HMV. That’s why I’ve never tried buying an 18 when I wasn’t 18. I did buy a few 15s when I was younger than that and got away with it, but that all came to a halt when, on a Summer’s day, I’d tried to buy Ghost World & Dead Man Walking from Virgin Megastores and the store clerk had rudely told me that I “didn’t look anywhere near 15.” I was 14 and a half! Gimp.

To me, that marked my transition from child into adulthood (or child into less of a child).

PS. I dug out an article on the newsround website that I wrote when I was 13, about, surprise surprise, film ratings!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Having a laugh.

Thursday night signalled the return of one of my all-time favourite comedy shows, Mock the Week, (and Friday the return of a less-loved, but still entertaining, Would I Lie to You?) And thank God, because without the comedy shows, I do think that I would have started to go mad with the bad blood from Summer.

Mock the Week came back in rollicking good form, with guests Lucy Porter and Michael McIntyre (whom I had the pleasure of seeing live last year) in addition to the show’s regulars Russell Howard, Hugh Denis, Andy Parsons, Frankie Boyle and the show’s presenter Dara Ó Briain. I always learn quite bit about current affairs from watching MTW, and surely enough, one of the things I learnt this week was that inflation in Zimbabwe is 1 million per cent. However, that was only after a lot of banter encompassing topics from Amy Winehouse’s constant state of drunkenness to the Media over-reaction to that 14-year-old Brit winning young Wimbledon. Then there was the creatively titled “Britain’s Got Jokes”, wherein four fo the contestants did a spot of stand up, before the caption round. In this week’s round, the actual caption was “Church Decrees Women Bishops”, with a photo relating to the outcry aagins the female bishops. Of course, the panel knew very well what the actual caption was, but that didn’t stop them from having a bit of fun first. “Christ Didn’t Wear Bras” was one suggestion. “Church Don’t Want Birds” was another.

Finally, it was the familiarly brilliant round “Scenes We’d Like to See”, which had me in total stitches. Despair at the state of society clearly exists in these comedians, but following the prescription that laughter makes the best medicine, they show us that all you can do is laugh.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The 02 Wireless Experience.



On Sunday, I went to the 02 Wireless Festival with my friend Hannah in Hyde Park, London. There were four sound stages, on which a wide range of artists, from Ben Harper, Powderfinger, Bowling for Soup, The Hold Steady, Joe Purdy, Donavon Frankenreiter, and the main attraction, Counting Crows, performed on. Here are my thoughts on the day and the acts I saw:

Magic Christian – with a lead singer that looks like a cross between Jim Carey and Jackie Stallone, a band that were mediocre at best and song lyrics so hackneyed they wouldn’t be out of place on the opening credits to Lizzie McGuire, we weren’t all that impressed.

Luke White – My friend and I chose to give young Lukey a chance in the hope that he may be related to the British R&B singer Keisha White, and treat us to a good soulful ballad like “The Weakness in Me”. In fact, he turned out to be an inarticulate, androgynous waste of time and space.

Eddy Grant – Absolutely incredible. Here was a man who was not only a good musician – he had a powerful voice and strummed the electric guitar like it was second nature - but knew exactly how to get the crowds’ pulses pumping. Eddy Grant is a reggae singer who is best known for his song “Romancing the Stone” from the movie of the same title, as well as “Electric Avenue”, which was played to great effect on a car advert. Eddy Grant performed both of these tracks and the energy and life that he exhibited was an absolute joy. He also sang one called “Hope, Joanna”, which the crowd had a good time singing and grooving to.

Overall, his 45-minute gig was really entertaining and during it, the tumultuous weather calmed down and displayed a warm ray of sunshine. It seemed like the weather, like us, were rejoicing in Eddy Grant’s presence.

The Goo Goo Dolls – I have mixed feelings about this act. The lead singer had a strong voice and overall, the band were very together and knew their act very well. The Goo Goo Dolls really got the crowd going, but with the exceptions of a few songs, they kinda did the same thing throughout and didn’t push my buttons. The bass player was CRAZY, and the lead singer kept changing his guitar in between every bloody song, which seemed a touch pretentious to me. That said, their performance of Iris (you know the song, it’s real pretty and the one good thing about the naff movie “City of Angels” was stunning, everyone was swaying in awe and singing along. Overall, a lukewarm act with one good song, but the crowd loved ‘em.

Amy Studt – she was on the smallest stage, the “In association with MTV” sage, and the acoustics were terrible because the music from the main stage carried over and overpowered any of Amy’s music. She herself was very mediocre and epitomized blandness. On stage with her was another woman playing drums and backing vocals, and a guitarist who had the enigma levels of a lab rat. Study kept telling the audience that she had a sore throat and that was bloody obvious through all her singing. As with Goo Goo Dolls, her songs were a bit same, though her rendition of “Misfit” was well done. Overall, a lacklustre set, not at all helped by the godawful acoustics.

Joe Purdy - …. But a true musician wouldn’t let a simple glitch like that from letting them do their thang. Joe Purdy was on after Studt, using the same stage as her, and he was everything she wasn’t – interesting, watchable, appealing and utterly wonderful. He had his acoustic guitar strapped on and his harmonica attached a la Bruce Springsteen and he performed a selection of his songs including the lovely “I Love The Rain The Most When It Stops”, which he song beautifully, though sadly did not make the then downpour of rain disappear. Joe Purdy was quiet and ironic when he spoke to the audience, joking about how the noise from the other stage was interfering with his gig, but rather than whining about it like Amy Studt, he fought back, singing swoon-worthyly loud, yet still retaining the sensitivity and tenderness of his poetry. My only complaint was that he didn’t sing “Wash Away”, which is the song that I heard on the Lost soundtrack and got me interested in him in the first place. But, as he showed in his short and sweet performance, here was a man who was so much more than a one-hit wonder. I recommend you check him out if he comes to a venue near you.

Ben Harper – No, not the grumpy dentist from My Family, the reggae singer! The second reggae act I saw on Sunday, and he paled in comparison to the soul and dynamicism of Eddy Grant, but he was by no means a disaster, keeping the audience lively throughout. I was seated during this, chomping my way through a Galaxy bar (our feets ached too much to stand and we needed to conserve battery power to dance to the Counting Crows), but I was still able to summon enough energy to sing along to his funky, sexy rendition of Bill Withers’ Use Me.

Counting Crows – Even though it was immediately transparent than lead singer Adam Duritz had had a pre-concert drink or five by the way he was falling all over the stage, this was still by far one of the best gigs I’ve seen. Counting Crows played their songs, but they didn’t just play them, they performed them, messed with the timings so as to make it harder for the audience to sing along, and added new riffs and crescendos and stuff. It was cool. Their rendition of Colourblind was heartbreakingly emotional, with the lead singer getting tears in his eyes. Mr Jones was also sung very well, with the audience chanting happily along. The whole band were very together and exciting, with the pianist particularly shining, as he got several moments to play beautiful piano solos. Similarly, the electric guitarist was quite special, bopping along to the music whilst he played a cadenza. As with Joe Purdy, I was real disappointed that Counting Crows didn’t play one of their songs – Accidentally in Love – which is on the Shrek II soundtrack. At one point, it sounded like they were playing the opening to AiL and I jumped up, euphoric, but it suddenly modulated to another song, which I thought was kinda false advertising. Oh, and Big Yellow Taxi was done terrifically, everyone in the audience knew the words and we sang it together. Their last song of the gig, Spain, was a melancholy, wistful piece that was as close to a lullaby as you could get. Between the turbulent weather, getting updates on the tennis scores on the large screen and making sure my nice jeans weren’t getting too dirty, it was a brilliant way to kick-start Summer 2008.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Some of you have seen this already....


But it was so gorgeous that I just feel the need to share it with the world:

Done by my wonderfully talented mate Hannah.
Aww.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Some movies I has seen recently.

Practically sentence-long reviews, because I’m not feeling too articulate.

- Wanted
Angelina. James. Lotsa guns. Kinda sexy. Kinda fun.

- Sex and the City Movie
Yeah, so it was shallow. Yeah, so it was predictable. Yeah, so there were a lot of labels. But I like all those things. Anyone who willingly chooses to sit through SATC will enjoy it.

- Dear Frankie
So underrated and beautiful, with some amazing acting from Emily Mortimer, Gerard Butler, and mostly, the young lad in the movie. And they played Spiegel im Spiegel! ♥

- Evita
Entertaining. I like musicals now.

- Bigga than Ben
Ironically, my problem with the film is that it wasn’t “big” or overblown enough. But it’s a sweet little black comedy in its own right with an amazing soundtrack. One of the better films of 2008 thus far.

- Fantasia 200
Pretty, but I prefer the original.

- Peter’s Friends
Brannagh! Laurie! Fry! Thompson! Staunton! And the result is, thankfully, equal to the sum of its parts, a thoroughly charming and witty Britcom. ♥

I'll have a bit of that to go, please.

Bung.

Bung.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Four brief book reviews.

I’ve been a bit behind on the whole “a book a day” thing, as well as reviewing them for the blog. But anyway, here’s four books I read this week:

- Memories of My Melancholy Whores (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
Underwhelming, to say the least. It was turgid, dull and extreeeeeeemely unsexy (I don’t want to hear about a 90-year-old man’s waning libido, cheers). Marquez, you can and have done so much better.

- Dumb Witness (Agatha Christie)
One of my favourite Agatha Christie mysteries. Not quite up there with The ABC Murders and And Then There Were None, but certainly one of her finest, in terms of plot, character development, and narration. The idea - of Poirot investigating the murder of a woman who sent him a letter long before she died - is ingenious, and there are various twists and turns throughout.

- Star Struck (Val McDermid)
Emma 4-xing loves this book!!! After I ploughed through my own “script” of Butterfly, I thought the two words “crime comedy” would instil nothing but a shudder in me. I was wrong, for Star Struck has got crime and humour in spades. It’s about Kate Brannigan, a P.I. in Manchester who has been hired to be the bodyguard of famous TV star Gloria Kendel, who has been getting death threats. But once she takes on the job, it's more than just scary letters that she has to contend with as a celebrity mystic-meg type gets murdered. The book encapsulates all of Kate’s life, from her employees who are getting arrested or hooking up in cyberspace, to her brooding boyfriend, to all the eccentric people she meets on the job. Kate Brannigan is an amazing role model. Honestly, with the influx of wags and empty-headed glamour models that we're seeing in the Media, reading about Kate, with her Thai-boxing, Chinese food eating, fast-talking ways was an absolute breath of fresh air. Star Struck is very clever, well-written and insightful, it played a bit like an episode of Jonathan Creek as written by Sophie Kinsella. I absolutely adored it. (And I've just found out that there are about 5 more Kate Brannigan books written! *is happy*)

- The Lady and the Unicorn (Tracy Chevalier)
If anyone can make the process of painting and creating and weaving a tapestry interesting to a complete art-phobic like me, it’s Tracy Chevalier. Girl with a Pearl Earring was one of the most beautiful and underratedly sexy books I’ve ever read. TLATU is a little less subtle in its characters’ carnal desires, and I for one couldn’t see what all the women in the book saw in Nicholas (who didn’t sound that fit, imo) and why they were willing to run the risk of getting pregnant by him. That said, the narration, which jumps from character to character, is really well done – their inner monologues are completely believable and it’s refreshing to hear a story from different angles. And a tapestry of a unicorn sounds sublime.

Did anyone see Fallout last night?

Knife crime is becoming an increasingly pertinent problem in the UK nowadays, particularly in London, where 17 young people have died from knife-related incidents alone. As part of Channel 4’s Disarming Britain season, last night showed “Fallout”, a drama following the act of a knife crime by some teenagers and the fallout of it.

What I thought was good about it
- The handheld camera, which contributed to the gritty feel of the show.
- The acting, which was completely intense and authentic.
- The scene with the “you will know when I’m getting vexed” line. The repetition of “vex” made me think of Gladiator. Unintentionally amusing, but never mind.
- The ending. Downbeat, depressing, and completely the opposite of how things would end in a Hollywood film with no justice served, but realistic.
- The scene between the deceased boy’s mother, and Shanice, the girl who was in part responsible for his death towards the end. Whilst I absolutely wanted to throttle Shanice, it was very, very sad and evoked a tear from me.
- Lennie James’ performance as the tough black cop Joe. A brooding, serious and terrifying performance, even if his character stared at Shanice far more than was normal in a film that was attempting to tackle knife crime, not Lolitas.

What I thought was bad about it:
- The two females in it. I think the writers were trying to paint Shanice (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the pretty one, as the tart-with-a-heart from Aylesbury Estate, but that didn’t wash with me. To me, she was just whore who was responsible for ending the life a good lad because he wasn’t into her like everyone else was. And the other girl, nicknamed Troll– don’t get me started on her. Whiny bitch.
-The good cop/bad cop routine between rigid, rule-following white policeman and tough but well-meaning black policeman. Cliche, cliche, cliche.
- The quantity of shitbags in the film. FFS. Not one repented for what they'd done.
- Characterising the boy that had died - Kwame - as different - intelligent, deep, and on his way out. It was a bit pat for me.

Overall, I thought it was a powerful drama, but with too many flaws and a muddled sense of what it wanted to achieve to be truly great. Your thoughts?