21st century girl

reviews – my way.

Month: July, 2016

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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‘I’m stuck on three, I can’t get any further,’ 

The Girl on the Train is a book about an alcoholic called Rachel who catches the same train everyday but the train overlooks a row of back gardens, one of which is her ex husband’s house. She imagines that she knows the people until she becomes a part of the people’s lives-including harassing her ex husband and his new family and being wrapped up in the murder of a woman that she never knew that well.

Firstly, I thought that the book was way too mature for me. I’m nearly seventeen but I think the target market was for the over twenties. The premise of the story is interesting and, like she people watches on trains, I like to people watch in waiting rooms but I would never want to be involved in their lives.

This book will never be in my ‘Top 10’ books list, and as a reader I felt like yelling ‘leave your ex husband Tom alone!’, but sometimes, as a reader I was made to feel sorry for her. I think that’s what the writer wanted us to think. I didn’t give that much thought into it because I was reading it while I was on holiday and I had never read it before. I also found it unnecessary that Rachel and Scott had a one night stand after he found out that his wife had died. Is that really necessary?

The final line in the entire book was ‘and I’ll have to get up early to catch the train’. It therefore leaves us with an open ending, and it suggests that her life carries on. The train could also be a metaphor for the passing of time but I won’t look too deeply into that.

Despite the fact that the book was too mature for me, I like how the author makes her characters flawed and realistic. The main character is a creepy stalkerish alcoholic who cannot get over her ex husband, even if he had an affair while they were still married, the ex husband Tom is a sex obsessed and manipulative man who wasn’t very supportive of his ex wife and he honestly sounds like a bit of a twat, and his new wife Anna just wants his past to get out of their family life while taking care of their daughter, and she’s a bit of a home wrecker. The character of Megan, who Rachel thought to have had a happy life, ends up dead. The book is basically Fatal Attraction meets Closer. Now all you need is a rabbit and a strip club. The story also teaches you that people might look happy on the outside, and they might not be happy together in private. After all, you only get a glimpse of someone’s life if you see them in public.

Apparently there is a film of it coming out starring Emily Blunt as Rachel, but I don’t have any desire to see it, and even if I did, it would be interesting how they transitioned from page to screen.

Overall, an imaginative, relatively decent and a very chilling book.

3/5

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The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

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The House at Riverton is about an old lady called Grace Bradley who used to be a maid at Riverton Manor as a young girl in the 1920s. However she has a secret involving the suicide of the famous (and fictional poet) Robbie Hunter, and the secret inspires a film to be made about the events.

I read this book as inspiration for a story that I’m writing at the moment, which also involves a manor. The narrative structure of House at Riverton was very good but sometimes it felt like I didn’t care who or what the characters were and there were a lot of stereotypes. However, I liked how the author made an obvious progression from the stuck up Victorian views in the distant past to the ever changing world in World War I and beyond. I liked how they used the old fashioned family dynamic that would eventually be lost by WW1 due to the lack of young male heirs. Users on Goodreads didn’t really like this book and I can see their point. It was a decent book but a book really needs to grab my attention to be good. I also looked up the author and it looks like all her other books are very similar but I can’t judge the book for that unless I read or come across her other work but luckily some of the book starts to piece itself together eventually and I started to like the characters of David and Robbie.

I am generally a big fan of those ‘old person looking back on their life’ stories if it is done correctly. With this one, it is written in a slightly poignant way and it really shows how people like to alter events for drama in a film.

Interesting book with plenty of mystery but it was honestly a book that I randomly picked up and didn’t give that much thought into it when reading it. Luckily it gave me a lot to think about for my own story, and the earlier scenes reminded me of the Jacqueline Wilson book Hetty Feather, which was one of my favorites when I was younger.

3/5

Elizabeth:The Golden Age

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We must act!’ 

Elizabeth: The Golden Age is the sequel to the first Elizabeth film, and it is about the threat of the rule of Queen Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett) and the relationship between her and Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) as he develops a relationship with her favourite, Elizabeth, otherwise known as Bess (Abbie Cornish) as she uncovers the treason plot involving Mary Stuart. It also stars Geoffrey Rush and Eddie Redmayne in one of his first roles (It’s quite obvious that it’s one of his first acting roles because of the drama school approach that he brings to his character).  I also vaguely remember watching bits of the first Elizabeth film when I was younger.

Generally, the costumes look really good. There is a scene where she’s the only one in yellow and the rest are in grey, or a better example is the position of her being lower than Walter Raleigh, suggesting an abuse of power and despite the fact that she is queen, he has more authority. Clive Owen’s costumes looked brilliant and he suited them along with the majestic and dark good looks that brought his charming character forward. Cate Blanchett looked brilliant as Elizabeth as she always is and the other cast were ok. The editing also played a good part of the film in conveying a level of violence and sexual or romantic tension, an example being the regular use of the 360 degree shot.

However, I felt that the film was a bit too rushed and they gave up towards the end. The rude scenes in the middle slowed down the pace to the point where I switched off at some point and they never really got to the point. All star casts used to amaze me and now they annoy the hell out of me. It just shows that you have the fancy costumes, the top actors that you can get, the best sets and props, the best camera techniques but below all that it’s basically a sunken sponge cake. Cate Blanchett had a flawed character with a bit of a temper, and I liked watching her mood dramatically change until she was quite literally a bit of a drama queen. Abbie Cornish was also very stunning. Clive Owen looked really fit in costume but I can’t help feeling that if you want a decent Clive Owen film, go and watch something like Children of Men or Closer or maybe even have a go at watching the Knick because he puts a more emotional performance into those roles rather than just looking hot, occasionally giving some excitable girl a smoldering look, reciting deep lines and standing around in fancy Elizabethan outfits. Moreover, he gives a lot of promising charm to his character and I loved it whenever he came on screen, right from when he first appeared with his smoldering looks and fantastic stage presence. His performance kept me engaged in the film, and I generally admire his as an actor, which is the only reason why I bothered to watch this film. The ships that they used within the last half hour or so of the film looked really good and I might use the scenes involving water as inspiration for an art project.

If my mother ever watched this film, she would probably critize it heavily due to the inaccuracies. If I wanted an accurate portrayal, I would watch a documentary about Elizabeth I,but Hollywood seem to be obsessed with making very dramatized films and adding all star casts into it.

Brilliant cast, great sets, costumes and an interesting colour palate made up of yellow and black and orange. Big budgeted films need to realize that there needs to be a flow of plotline beneath all that, and Elizabeth:The Golden Age gives up on it towards the end. They were probably also trying to show that she was an independent woman and a strong leader through obvious symbolism and camera angles.

Generally, I might give this film another go if I really had to but for now I’ll stick to books.

2.5/5

 

King of Thorn

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‘We’ll be together again, sis,’ 

King of Thorn is an anime movie about a deadly virus called the Medusa virus, which turns everyone who is infected with it to stone. The virus destroys most of earth’s population but when a few cryogenically frozen people awake from their sleep, they have to fight for survival as they are in danger of catching the virus.

I was recommended this film by one of my best guy friends, who absolutely loves anime and Japanese culture. Although I’m not the biggest fan of anime, Japan has its own individual animation style, and I loved the level of detail that went into the movie, from the surroundings to the characters to the precision of the blood that leaked from a virus victim’s head as they got chewed up. The references to fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty are used in an ironic and slightly sinister way rather than trying to cram in as many references as possible.

I liked how it got to the point where you couldn’t distinguish dreams from reality, because they were all living in a nightmare. The little boy in the film could definetly survive better than everyone else in the movie because he compared the trecharous quest for survival to a game that he played. The movie is basically like a better and animated version of the film Contagion. While I don’t really like the ‘I’ve caught a deadly disease and you’ll die’ type of films, this movie tends to show the horror of it through detailed animation and the unpredictability of the virus.

The actors who voiced the characters are probably all famous in their native Japan and they’re all very promising. Japan has its own individual music, animation and film style and taste. King of Thorn is based off the Japanese manga series of the same name.

I would recommend this film because I love its animation and the story line and the dark references to fairytales that you previously thought were bright and happy, but now you can no longer see them in the same light. I also like the flashback sequences and the soundtrack, and the little boy (who is later discovered to be called Tim) is very cute.

4.5/5