Film Review – The Giver

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the-giver-2014-movie-photos-review-the-giver-sometimes-beautiful-but-hugely-flawedBased on Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel The Giver shows the darker side to young adult fiction and a dysfunctional dystopia.

The idea is similar to Logan’s Run, Divergent or even distantly to The Hunger Games, however less action packed.

Set in a colourless world that has eliminated all emotions, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is selected to be the new ‘Receiver of Memory”. Since no one can remember the past and no one is able to feel pain, anger, desire, joy and love one citizen in this bland utopia is chosen to feel and remember.

The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep in a wig) hints at a tragedy that accord to the last receiver, but one talks about it, even remembers properly. So when Jonas meets is mentor, The Giver (a craggy Jeff Bridges) he tries to find out what the secret is.

But unable to share what he is experiencing when the Giver shares his knowledge and allows emotions to erupt, Jonas soon finds life hard in the community, especially when he is at home, which they call dwellings. His dutiful but distant parents (Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard) notice the changes and are concerned.

Luckily his best friend and love-interest Fiona (Odeya Rush) is more open to the idea of something new, but she is afraid of the strictly monitoring Chief Elder.

As the plot moves on and colour is infused into the scenes it becomes obvious that The Giver never quite grips it’s audience and just muddles along, a little like the community it is criticizing.

And while director Philip Noyce and screenwriters Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide have stayed close to the original story, it doesn’t translate to screen well, especially the bombardment of images at the seems like trying to hard.

Overall the strong cast just isn’t enough to turn The Giver from a bland tale of an unhappy future into a vivid story you can emotionally attach to. And even though newcomers Thwaites and Rush do try their very best, and receive good support from Taylor Swift, in a thankless walk-on role, they are just not convincing as 16year olds.

So if you want an action packed dystopia with a strong story and convincing actors maybe wit for The Hunger Games later this year.

Film Review – Think Like A Man Too

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1200290 - THINK LIKE A MAN TOOAfter the mess the film Think Like a Man was two years ago it comes as somewhat as a surprise that there is now a sequel: Think Like a Man Too .

The last film used Steven Harvey’s best-selling relationship book to create a loose story around the battle of the sexes, this time around there isn’t even such an excuse.

Set in Las Vegas, the five couples find their relationships tested, in the most unlikely of situations. Candace (Regina Hall) and Michael (Terrence Jenkins) want to tie the knot but his overly domineering mother (Angela Elayne Gibbs) keeps getting in the way.

And while the men and the women try to beat each other at having the best stag/hen do on the glittering Las Vegas strip you can’t help but feel someone was trying to create a bad Hangover/ Bridesmaids mash up and not succeeding.

And doesn’t even matter that there are a few individual performances by some of the cast and even the few funny moments that Kevin Hart does supply are too over the top, predictable and nothing new.

Think Like a Man Too was a massive flop when it came out in the USA earlier this year and it is doubtful that it will score big in the box office here either. Don’t waste your money on a ticket, as the only thing you’ll probably enjoy is your popcorn.

grey day, greek words and Dublin culture night

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Today is one of those grey Irish days in which the sun stays hidden behind layers and layers of clouds, the air is heavy and moist and rain is constantly teetering on the edge of a downpour.

On days like this you know that autumn is here, those cooling down months between summer and winter that can be  a little erratic, even by Irish standards.

But I quite enjoy this season, I like the cosiness it brings, the woolen socks, the lit fire, the puddles. Maybe I have ombrophile tendencies (someone who loves the rain), or maybe I am a psekaphile (someone who likes drizzling rain)  but then maybe I just like excuses that allow me to stay in and read or write.

So for now I will take this grey day, enjoy it and wander out into the colours of culture night this evening, allow the creativity of this city to enchant me.

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.

Singer/Songwriter Roger Miller

flee(t)ing time

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I can’t believe it is already Thursday, somehow the days have all melted together leaving me with the sense of how fleeting time is.

It’s funny how time is so hard to grasp, an abstract construct that turns darkness into night, sunlight into days, structuring moments into measurable increments: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years.

Yet somehow time has morphed into something else, it flees at will, slows down unwanted, is often too fleeting to grasp. And it is our most important resource, one that we can never replenish, one that each of us only has a limited amount of, while the exactly how much is unknown and unique to every individual.

“Time is Money”, we have all heard the saying, and it basically implies that we have put a value on time, and that making money is the most important one of them. But if we stick to that it would mean that time is only usefully spent (pun alert) when the result can be counted in our purse.

However I don’t think that is true, the time we spend doing things we enjoy is the most valuable time of all, and if what we enjoy doing is even useful, has a purpose, that is an added bonus.

For example, I love to read, so that is time well spent and since reading often has the wonderful side-effect of gaining knowledge, no matter how trivial, it is also useful. I enjoy writing, for pleasure and for work. Enjoyable and useful. I thoroughly enjoy catching up with friends over coffee or wine and since it deepens the relationships this isn’t only a pleasurable past time it is a useful one too. I adore to travel and since this also educates me, it is very useful as well.

So instead of putting a monetary value on the fleeting status of time I think we’d all be happier if we decided to enjoy the moments we are given and take the benefits of what we do as gifts.

Lost time is never found again.

Benjamin Franklin

 

Film review – A Walk Among the Tombstones

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a-walk-among-the-tombstones-image-liam-neesonSince the late seventies private eye Matthew Scudder has been a big star of the crime novel scene, now, finally, Lawrence Block’s creation has been brought to life by writer/director Scott Frank.

Based on the Block’s tenth novel A Walk Among the Tombstones has a classic film noir feel to it, a distinct touch of retro and good old-fashioned story telling.

The opening scene, set in the early nineties, gives us the back-story: Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) is an alcoholic NYC cop who drunkenly stumbles into a shootout that goes terribly awry. Cut to 1999 and Scudder is now an unlicensed private eye who goes to AA meetings and does ‘favours’ in exchange for ‘gifts’.

When drug addict Peter (Boyd Holbrook) convinces Scudder to meet his drug-dealer brother Kenny (Dan Stevens), the private eye is reluctantly caught up in a serial killer case.

While investigating Kenny’s wife’s kidnapping Scudder discovers a trail that eventually leads to a pair of murdering sociopaths (David Harbour, Adam David Thompson). But he also finds an unlikely helper and friend in the homeless black teenager TJ (Brain “Astro” Bradley).

Things cone to a head when the killers kidnap a new victim, the young daughter of Russian drug dealer Yuri (Sebastian Roche) and Scudder takes over the negotiations ending in a very bloody scene in a basement.

A Walk Among the Tombstones is another notch in Liam Neeson’s ever growing action movie collection and in more than one scene you can’t help but feel you’ve seen it all before in Taken. But his performance is strong and is sure to pull in the fans.

Writer/director Scott Frank obviously knows what he is doing and creates a dark atmosphere, holds the suspense and even there are a few long “bit” in the middle he succeeds in tying it all together in the end.

Setting the film in 1999 gives it a nice touch but unnecessary subplots like TJ’s sickle-cell anaemia distract from the main story and slow the tempo down to much.

Overall A Walk Among the Tombstones is a beautifully shot film noir with a strong story, a solid leading man and creepy bad guys. And since there are sixteen other novels this could be a launch of a series for Neeson to apply his special set of skill in.

Neither – Kate Nolan’s beautiful new photo-book

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1Neither_Nolan-572x720Neither, a self-published photo-book by Dublin based artist Kate Nolan, is an exploration of the story of Kaliningrad. Told from the female perspective, Neither is unique in that it isn’t about the past or the future, nor about the present, but it is a closely woven tale somewhere between fact and fiction, documentation and dream.

The carefully selected photos show women of Kaliningrad and their homes, workplaces, and the streets of a city that seems forgotten and somewhat lost. The words accompanying these beautifully lit images are handwritten memories, hopes and tall tales that the women themselves have chosen to share.

2Neither_Nolan-720x480 The gifted Irish photographer Kate Nolan has succeeded in entering into a world, very different from the one she knows, finding personal stories of strangers and making them universal.

For many the city Kaliningrad is an unknown entity, but this once beautiful Hanseatic town played an important role in central European history.

Kaliningrad once was the most easterly German City, after WWII it became the most westerly part of Russia, even if it is completely cut off by land.

Nestled in between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea, this once proud Prussian settlement was completely isolated during the cold war, and even now is often forgotten by motherland Russia.

3Neither_Nolan-720x480This fragile position that Kaliningrad is in filters down into the perception that the women in Neither have of themselves and their lives. This first generation of post-Soviet women, no matter how strong, independent or modern, struggle to figure out what their identity is: not quite European, but neither fully Russian.

Designed by internationally renowned Dutch designer SYB, Neither, is a true organic collaboration between the photographer, designer, and the subject matter, the women themselves.

6Neither_NolanAs you enter into the story, words open up your eyes to the situation and thoughts that surround the portraits and landscapes further within. And you are left with words, memories and descriptions from 1945 that the first Russian women of Kaliningrad have left behind in the local archives, echoing their modern day counterparts.

Neither is a beautiful piece of art, one that, like Kaliningrad’s famous son Immanuel Kant, demands your attention and leaves you with thought provoking ideas. A collector’s piece both fragile, like Kaliningrad’s forgotten daughters, but enduring like the stunning photos it holds within.

weekly photo challenge: humanity

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Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin

Cloncha Cross, Culdaff. co.Donegal – c.10th century a.d

Cloncha Cross, Culdaff. co.Donegal – c.10th century a.d

A tomb in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery , St Petersburg

A tomb in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery , St Petersburg

I have been struggling a little with this challenge, trying to come to grips with what HUMANITY means to me.

Per definition HUMANITY is the collective of human kind but also the quality of being human: brotherly love, compassion, kindness, sympathy, tolerance, pity, tenderness, generosity, mercy benevolence … just to name a few.

But being human also means eventually dying, leaving those behind that care, that love us. And that is why one part of being human, of showing our HUMANITY is how we commemorate our dead. How we what top remember them and show the rest of the world what we have lost.

sunday morning french toast

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frenchtoastAfter an extremely busy week and a late night I decided I needed a little something special for my Sunday breakfast

So with a few eggs, some milk, a sprinkling of sugar and two slices of toast I made myself some yummy French toast with berries.

It’s a treat I really enjoy but don’t make very often. So as I sat and munched on my late morning feast , enjoying the flavours of sour berries and sweet syrup mixing on my tongue, I decided to continue the day the way I had started it, slowly and with pleasure.

Now with the Sun still warming the afternoon air I can finally finish my window sills (I didn’t get around to them yesterday) and maybe, in a little while, I’ll make myself a cup of cappuccino and drink it while sitting on my blue bench and let the sounds of the city wash over me.

For those who’d like to try here is my french toast recipe (for 2-4 slices):

I whip up two eggs with some milk (maybe 200ml but I just pour at will, it needs to be a nice runny mixture, more milk means less eggy), add a little bit of brown sugar (about 1-2 tablespoons) and some cinnamon.

When the mixture is nice and mixed I dip one slice of toast into it and let it lie while I melt butter (much better than oil) in a pan.

I make sure to turn the bread, but carefully because as the toast soaks up the batter it turns really soft and tears. Once the butter has melted I place the slice of bread into the pan and let it cook. I make sure to turn the bread in regular intervals as I want both sides to be equally crispy.

While the first slice is frying I dip the next slice and keep going until all the batter has been soaked up by slices of toast and fry them up.

Place the toast on a plate, dribble syrup over the slices, add some sprinklings of vanilla sugar (others just use plain powdered sugar) and add fruit., my favourite are berries but any kind give s a nice yummy contrast to the bread.

cleaning and The Breakfast Club

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After a nice ling lie-in my Saturday will be filled with mops, brooms, cleaning products and a duster. My little home needs some TLC and the only way to achieve this is to roll up my sleeves and give it some elbow-grease.

And if I find a moment I would like to complete my window-sill project that I started yesterday. But of course I still have  to work on my book to do and as it is a sunny Saturday I would love to carve out an hour to sit on my bench and read.

However I may need to consider a disco nap as I am going to be out late tonight, not dancing but returning the 80s. A friend and I are going to a late night screening of The Breakfast Club, one of my favorite films.

I didn’t see it in the Cinema when it first came out, 29years ago, but saw it a few years latter when i was in my mid-teens. I fell in love with the rebels and nerds alike and just loved the music. There was (and possibly is) just no one better than John Hughes to capture teenage dreams and insecurities and capture the authentic spirit of an era.

So even if my day will be filled with unpleasant scrubbing, polishing and cleaning I do have a lovely night to look forward to. So maybe I should just turn up the stereo, play Simple Minds and boogie my way around the house to “Don’t You Forget About Me”

 

 

 

finding time for flowers

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pansieThis week has been extremely busy, and today is no exception. But with my summery window-boxes wilting and looking more than sad, I really want to find the time to replant them autumn.

Luckily I did find a few moments to rush in and out of my local garden center, a few winter pansies and a bag or two of spring bulbs quickly captured and paid for at the till.

Now all I need is half an hour to get my hands dirty and create a pretty sight for me to come home to and for my neighbours to hopefully enjoy.

After all, even if the sun is still out and about in Dublin this week, those dull days of autumn aren’t too far off and a few cheerfully nodding heads of pansies do help to brighten them up.

A study done in 2005 about how flowers impact on peoples moods shows that just looking at flowers can ease anxious and agitated feelings and create a sense of happiness and joy.  The study even showed that a pretty display of a few beautiful blooms increased the contact with friends and family, lessening the sense of loneliness.

So hopefully my soon prettified window-boxes will not just cheer me up when I return home or look out the window and bring beauty to the urban space I occupy, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll bring a smile to some lonely strangers face.

Happiness radiates like a fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you

Yogi Maharishi Mahesh

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