21st century girl

reviews – my way.

Month: November, 2014

The Railway Man: The Memoir VS. The Movie


The Railway Man is a memoir by ex prisoner of war survivor Eric Lomax about his traumatic days working on the infamous ‘Railway of Death’, and how it took over 50 years for him to forgive his torturers. Being bored of the normal stuff that I read, I read this as my sister loves it. I have probably said this to every novel that I have read, but this book has opened my eyes to the realism of war, written first hand from an actual tortured soul who was brave enough to write about it.

I did not realize how horrific he described it, until I turned every page. It is hard for as a modern reader, and mostly born well after this time, to imagine that a man like that suffered so much for so long, and actually only died shortly before the film went into post production. We have rights now, that is the problem, the only person affected by it fully is his wife and his live near relations, but it doesn’t mean that the hating has to carry on. We can only read it and not realistically think of the pain that Lomax went through, surviving in near starvation, dehydration and horrible conditions that were actually sad to read while we are all concerned about our first world problems. He was only a guy obsessed with trains, and we could just feel his innocence lost as he begins to just about survive horrific events- even if it meant that he seemed distant.

The memoir has since been made into a movie starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Jeremy Irvine.




‘I like trains. I really like trains’

Most movies based on memoirs and true stories are often better depending on the accuracy and the right actors. You know that mostly all of it occurred at some point. Anyway, Jonathan Teplizlay directs this movie, based on the memoir of the same name by Eric Lomax (played by Colin Firth in the movie), an ex prisoner of war, who, for years was mentally and physically scarred by the torture that was inflicted on him and encountered when he was kept prisoner by the Japanese on the Burma Railway in World War II, and years later could finally confront his torturer, Nagase, who happened to be still alive.

The cast for a difficult to depict memoir was very well casted. Colin Firth was being brilliant as usual and showed the life long mental illness through his face and actions, such as the screaming and violent shell shocked outbursts with himself and his wife Patti (played by Nicole Kidman) to the point when he is punishing her and how Firth does not play the same charecter in all his movies.

Nicole Kidman, was fairly good as Patti, although she relied mostly on her ‘eye acting’ to show any form of a charecter. Jeremy Irvine was incredibly exceptional as the younger Eric, but less so he apparently starved himself for the role. The torture scenes between Irvine and the Japanease torturers were incredibly difficult to watch, and any of the other torture scenes but were very cleverly done. What makes it worse is that it is a true story.

The Railway Man was a bit of a depressing movie, but would you much rather have a film where they show you the harsh truth or sugar coat it with distractions? Is it because we have all lived in a time where all this is distant but still often remembered? Lomax also lived for a very long time right into his nineties and he died in 2012. The movie also teaches us, in a non preachy way, to find a way to forgive.

A great movie for those who love history,are train enthusiasts and many others. The memoir and the movie are both as good as each other, but I would suggest reading the memoir first for a bit of back story which they cannot put into the film due to its irrelevance to the pace and time of the movie.



Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella



Twenties Girl is a young adult novel by Sophie Kinsella (the writer of the Shopoholic series), who uses her way with words and girly writing style to keep her hoard of readers entertained.

The novel is about an average agency co-founder named Lara Lington who can see and talk to her dead Great Aunt Sadie as a young woman, who only wants her prized possession, a dragonfly necklace, before she can be laid to rest.

Like other authors that I often read, like Giovanna Fletcher’s You’re the One that I want, but mostly Kinsella herself, Twenties Girl should not be taken seriously in any way. It is simply a girly novel where you can laugh, cry and play along with the charecters. Bad breakup and you still like the guy? I’m sure we can all relate to that. A relative that you knew was around, very old but really want to know, or only knew them very vaguely? Definetly. Some rich successful guy in the family? Yes.

The narrator doesn’t exactly speak like a whiny teenage girl or anything, mostly because Kinsella knows how to write and does not follow the ‘long road’ technique in her books, in fact, the conversations between Lara and the charecter of Great Aunt Sadie were often hilarious, like spying on her ex boyfriend or asking out a timid American businessman out on a date. All of that gathers together into a heart-warming sweet ending. It is also nice to realize that an old relative only wants a certain possesion even if she has lived for a long time.

Certainly one to read to unwind. Well written, entertaining, funny, not very predictable.


V for Vendetta


‘Beneath the mask there are ideas, and ideas are bullet proof’.

I must admit, I do not like the masks associated and worn in the movie, which are called Guy Fawkes masks (which is actually an anonymous mask for  protesting and hatred towards the government) and I never have, to the point of some sort of fear, on the same lines that I am not a huge fan of Natalie Portman films. Both of them are put together and mashed up  into a fairly lengthy but gripping dystopian thriller otherwise known as V for Vendetta. The film is basically Phantom of the Opera with hints of Beauty and the Beast sprinkled into it, spread into a well spent two hours filled with action instead of swearing at every opportunity (although some bits dragged on).

The movie is based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and is presented in the same action-like way, even though I am probably under researched and biased when watching the film, as I haven’t read the graphic novel so I had no idea what was going on sometimes.

V for Vendetta was is about a young woman called Evey Hammond (Portman) who is rescued by the permanently smirking masked ‘terrorist’ who goes by the anonymous code name V (Hugo Weaving) in a dystopian London of the near future controlled by a dictator played by John Hurt, and V uses terrorist like behaviour to fight the dictatorial England and his old enemies. It also stars one of my favourites- Stephen Fry.

As I have mentioned, although I don’t like many of Portman’s films (they are all rather weird), she played Evey very well, expressing the torture etc though her face and English accent, realistic acting and screen prescence. As for Weaving, his portrayal was convincing beyond words, from the way he pulled off the charecter, the expression through the expressionless mask, that he never takes off or violently doesn’t want people to,  the anonymity of being  dressed head to toe in black, or the low, husky and rather creepy voice which often sounded like he was mumbling but was moreorless for effect. However, being Hollywood they had to fit in some semi love story towards the end which is both a bit random (bearing in mind that I have not read the graphic novel) but rather sweet, for good measure.

I found that the movie was heavy on symbolism and camera angles which are not just there to make the film look cool. Most of the film and is highly forgettable but I found myself needing a box of tissues by the end- I didn’t expect the ending to be so touching. I originally heard of it from a reference in the book of The Fault in Our Stars, but around this time last year some guy was wondering around where my sister is situated in a Vendetta mask, which is actually highly stupid, and I used the mask in a drama piece.

Slightly creepy, symbolic, worth watching for the duration of about two hours (but it ends when it ends), particularly as I saw it as nothing else but a channel flicker whenever it was on TV.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November, Gunpowder, treason and plot. I know no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot’

Good cast and storyline with heroic charecters, more of a thinkers movie than a flicker movie. Depending on the viewer, it is probably better with a second viewing and is very much open to interpretation.

Directed by James McTeigue.



The Wolf of Wall Street



Martin Scorcsese directs this black comedy bi0pic  about New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio, one of my all time favourite actors) , the party man, the sex addicted womaniser and the coke user as part of a life of corruption in the late 1980’s, and based on the book by the actual Jordan Belfort.

Despite the party scenes and the occasional hilarious parts, this movie does not fit the quality, entertainment or ability of DiCaprio, or his business partner Donnie, (played by Jonah Hill)’s other roles. For DiCaprio, a better role of his is The Great Gatsby or the lengthy Inception, although he certainly put across Belfort’s greed very well, and he does not fail to disappoint as he is probably more good looking that the actual guy, but he nearly always plays Leo DiCaprio, the guy obsessed with money. I don’t know whether the my thoughts of the film were let down because I am technically not old enough to watch the movie, or because the use of the ‘f’ word loses it’s meaning if it is uttered in every single line of the movie in the space of three hours, as well as the reoccurring nudity, which was always a bit much, no matter what rating the film is. DiCaprio doesn’t really take drugs- apparently he used Vitamin A tablets.

Ok film, it landed him multiple Oscar nominations, but I would probably appreciate it when I am a bit older. It is rather sickening watching women being used as sexual objects, but Belfort is the wolf and they are his prey. The movie also stars Margot Robbie as Belfort’s mistress and later wife Naomi, Jean Dujardin (I wouldn’t be able to watch him in the same way in the Artist  again) as Jean Jaurel, Joanna Lumley as Aunt Emma and Matthew McConaughey as Mark. I want my three hours back, it would have been better at two hours or less as it lost its meaning.