Wednesday, January 31, 2007

January 2007 Books and Movies

Ryan Knighton

Loved it. Really great memoir of a man's experiences. And funny! Of course, as the title suggests, he is slowly going blind, but for me, it was more the snapshot of his life that hooked me. Towards the end the book veered towards the exestential, but hey, we all need a little Paul Sartre in our lives. I put the book on reserve after reading Amy's review and later found out that Mike has it on reserve as well. So word gets around! It's Canadian and the author is close to my age, so it made for a good read.

Pan's Labrynth

While I can appreciate the artisitc merits of this film, it truly was too disturbing for my taste. Far too much gore! On a positive note, the costumes and sets were really well done. It was interesting to see how much Spanish I could pick up from knowing Italian and French. Sometimes it was hard to watch the action and read the subtitles fast enough, although it is highly visual, sometimes too much. I still find it amazing that during the Second World War, Spain was completely isolated, fighting it's own civil war. The fantastical elements were highly digitalised, but effective. The central figure, a young girl was very impressive. She was in nearly every scene and had to act under some very off putting circumstances. I recommend it to those with a strong stomach and those who are not overly sensitive. For me it was just too much. I left with a sick, sinking feeling, and had to make a concerted effort to get past it.

Swapping Lives
Jane Green

It seems strange that I'm refining my tastes for a genre that is sometimes described as fluffy and very similar, but there are real differences and I now definitely know what I like and what I don't. I like the verasimiltude that comes from an author writing about where she lives and what she knows. I prefer it when the main character is not perfect, but doesn't flub up everything she does. I prefer the endings to be happily conclusive but not too pat. Unfortunately, Swapping Lives comes close, but ultimately falls short of my preferences. There are two main characters, as the title suggests, one married with children from the U.S. and one single and fabulous from the U.K. Typical grass is greener and the realisation that it is not plotline and not too pat an ending. Likable, but there are better chick lit books out there. A shame because I waited an age for it on the library reserve system, and heard so many great things about this author. I'll still try another Jane Green book.

Learning Curves, A Novel of Sex, Suits and Business Affairs
Gemma Townley

The more I read of this so called chick lit genre, the more picky I get with what I like. This book started out good, but quickly spiralled into a predictable read. The heroine is feisty and opinionated, but immature, learning lessons that should have come years before her chronological age. The ending was too pat! Yikes, I saw that coming a mile away. The plot is different, I'll give it that. Jen works for her mother, who convinces her to spy on her father's company, whom she hasn't seen in 15 years. There are a series of misunderstandings and foul ups that eventually lead to a predictable happy ending. Not Gemma Townley's best unfortunately. I'm still looking forward to more books from her, she is definitely second after Sophie Kinsella in this genre for me.

Freedom Writers

Not the worst teacher movie I have ever seen, but certainly not the best. Better than Dangerous MInds with Michelle Pfeiffer I thought. The best one I have ever seen is definitely Stand and Deliver. What I enjoyed most about Freedom Writers was the time setting of the early 90's which was when I was in high school. The music was a blast from the past and I was huming or mouthing the words, getting my high school groove on. I'm curious as to what the book will be like. Hilary Swank was fine, although sometimes over the top in the earnest, idealistic new teacher role. Her experience was not typical of first year teaching, more sterotypical ideas about teaching then anything else. I heard that the real teacher this character was based on followed her kids to college after they finished their four years of high school. Erin Gruwell (the real life person) should have tried her methods with a new set of students to see if they would have worked with a new class dynamic. Patrick Dempsey was drippy, and very one dimensional as the hard done by, non supportive husband. Some of the kids were great, looking forward to seeing the girl who played Eva and the Asian girl, again in something else. Also, loved the hair and makeup! It was 90s matte, wine colour and do it yourself shocking highlights at it's best!

Sugar Rush
Julie Burchill

Very good young peoples novel that deals with female teen same sex love. The ending is a bit rushed, but the writing is fabulous. I really enjoyed it. More books need to be written about gay teens for both gay and straight audiences. I really liked the first person narrative. This may be a little much for younger or younger acting teens and easily influenced kids because of the heavy drinking, drug use and sexual exploration. Descriptions aren't explicit, but there's plenty of room for wild imaginative tangents.

Children of Men

Very bleak look at the near future. It's hard hitting and gut wrenching. There are deliberate tension relief jokes and some beatiful cinematic shots. Definitely worth seeing in the theatre. I been a huge fan of director Alfonso Cuarón since I saw Y tu mamá también and then the third Harry Potter film. There are so many talented people in this film, Clive Owen, Michael Cain, Julianne Moore and newcomer Claire-Hope Ashitey. It's 2027, women are infertile and the world is in chaos. Reminded me of A Handmaid's Tale both the book and movie. I am really uncomfortable with sci-fi movies that are so close to home. At least with Star Trek type tales it seems impossible that a reality like that could ever exist. But the way our world seems to be headed with racial intolerance, gender inequity and environmental abuse this picture of 2027 seems foreboding to say the least.

When in Rome
Gemma Townley

I enjoyed this book although at certain points I was really frustrated with how stupid the heroine Georgie was being. I really like Gemma Townley's style, very similar to Sophie Kinsella, which, I expect, is why she endorsed the book. I experienced the same sort of frustration that I had when I was reading the Shopaholic series main character Becky Bloomwood. A nice story, very well tied together with the happenings in Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn. I love that movie! A nice easy read, although, if you can't tolerate stupidity then Georgie will drive you bananas. She makes a lot of dumb decisions. She has lovely boyfriend, David, whom she chucks to go to Rome with her ex, Mike, who has always been a complete waste of space. Typical grass is greener stuff. You can most likely predict the ending. Enjoy!


Fabulous and Fantastic! Jennifer Hudson is amazing, what a voice! She totally should have won the American Idol she was on. I love musicals so the sparse dialogue and characters breaking out into bursts of song was right up my alley. Beyonce was really good as well. I don't know what all the hype is about J-Hud stealing Beyonce's thunder, they both had drastically different characters who were equally important to the telling of the story. Edie Murphy, Jamie Foxx and Danny Glover were all great and played their roles with the right touch of understated deference to the women who were the real stars. Costumes were really well done, a trip through the latter half of the 20th century. Go see it, rent it or buy it!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

No Remission Yet

Saw Dr. Jamal and Dr. Malloy yesterday afternoon and the news is, although I'm doing much better, I'm not in remission yet. I've been switched to injectable methatrexate (subcutaneous, so not so scary) and hopefully it will reduce some of the nausea I've been experiencing. I now have a lovely new symptom, insomnia. Apparently Deb C. has it too! All my usual relaxation tricks aren't working. I must be somewhat stressed, but things are good so I can't figure out why. I slept a little better the past two nights but still only 6 hours.

Other than that, nothing new to report. Work is settling back in after the holidays. The juniors are pushing their luck more and more, especially the sixes who are hurtling full force into adolencent angst. The primaries are getting so big, it's hard to believe that some of the junior kindergarteners were only three when they started school in September.

Down time is good as well, but definitely need to find more time to be as active as my body will let me. Can't wait for the warmer weather so I can go for more walks.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sad Day

I played at a funeral today for a truly remarkable woman. She selflessly touched the lives of so many, with very little thought to herself. It didn't matter if you knew her well or only a little, you felt she truly cared. The words of reflection from her sister and husband touched many of us there. She will be missed dearly and I am grateful to have known her.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year Everybody!

2006 was interesting to say the least!

New job
New school
New boyfriend
New diagnosis
And probably all sorts of stuff I haven't even thought of...

Here's to 2007 being full of excitement and good health!