Monday, November 23, 2009

Getting Rid of Matthew (Jane Fallon)

Helen has been having an affair with her boss Matthew Shawcross for four years. She is a few months shy of 40, he, much older. She has repeatedly begged him to leavr his wife and two young daughters to live with her, thinking she is in love with him. However, it's a case of be careful what you wish for, because, when he finally does, she realises that she doesn't actually want him.

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On the surface, it would seem like we the reader would loathe the protagonist for her home-wrecking and proceeding to be so fickle, but such is the sly writing that we find ourselves softening to her and even rooting for her as we discover more about her history, how she ever got herself into such a sorry situation, and see that, under it all, there is a good person. Similarly, Fallon captures the perspective of the gilted wife Sophie, so we see the full repurcussions of Matthew's selfish actions and the effect it has on the wife and her kids, who, by the way, offer up some of the funniest lines in the book. In fact, the biggest villain of the piece is (quite unsurprisingly) painted to be Matthew.

There are a wide range of interesting and engaging subplots, some funny, some sad, some downright bizarre. I really loathed Annie and Jenny, two of Helen's truly despicable work colleagues, but, this being a chicklit, we know they will get their just desserts, though that doesn't make it any less rewarding when they do.

At over 400 pages, the novel is on the long side, but perhaps this was necessary to capture the wide range of events that occur in Helen's life after Matthew moves in with her. Fate would just so have it that Sophie ends up rescuing Helen when Helen twists her ankle one day, and the two women end up striking a friendship (Helen under the alias Eleanor). This Eleanor then gets propositioned by Matthew's adult son Leo (from his first marriage. Which, incidentally, ended when he had an affair. With Sophie), which makes for a comedy errors that is both amusing in its convolution, as well as nail-biting as we ponder over the events of the upcoming finale.

Infidelity is a topic that has been tackled repeatedly in a wide range of novels. Some judge, some condone, some describe. Getting Rid of Matthew does all and none of these things. As a read, it is highly impressive.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Don't say I don't treat you.

A conversation with my flatmates last night about what our all-time favourite image of Marilyn Monroe was arose. My answer was quite a cliche one: the iconic shot of her dress being blown up in The Seven Year Itch. However, two of my mates said they found that boring, and they'd seen it too many times. So, having recently just purchased a book called Images of Marilyn Monroe, I thought I'd share a rare pic of her every week.

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"Creativity has got to start with humanity and when you're a human being, you feel, you suffer." - Marilyn Monroe

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A look at this crappy list from Mizz, a magazine I used to buy religiously when I was an immature teenager (hehe), got me thinking about a real list of snog songs.
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Mine'd probably be:
1/ Glory Box - Portishead
2/ Underneath Your Clothes - Shakira
3/ Inside and Out - Feist
4/ Nude - Radiohead
5/ I Kissed a Girl - Jill Sobule
6/ We Walk - The Tings Tings
7/ Good old Fashioned Lover Boy - Queen
8/ Number One - N Dubz ft. Tinchy Stryder
9/ My Love - Pixie Lott
10/ Some Hearts - Carrie Underwood

Hmm... a bit of a duff list really. What would yours be?

Oh yes, and my rankings of the seven on X-Factor last night: -
01. Stacey (amazing vocals, as ever)
02. Olly
03. Joe
04. Jedward
05. Lloyd (hot though)
06. Jamie (riding on his first audition and his afro a bit now)
07. Danyl (please can he run along? Can't stand him)
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Due to heavy workload, I only managed to see one film this week:

Ne le dis à personne (Guillaume Canet, 2006), a tense, moody thriller about a doctor whose wife seemingly died years ago, only now for him to be contacted by her. Based on the Harlan Coben novel, François Cluzet stars as the put-upon grieving husband who finds that the more he digs, the murkier he finds his surroundings. Despite strong performances and an urgent pace, I wasn't terribly bowled over by this film. The twist was shocking enough, but the characters were too blandly developed and thinly sketched for me to care.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More than a little bit in awe.



By the way, my week is over!! How are you all bungs? x

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For the banter...

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I have quite a mixed relationship with the High School Musical saga. At best, I think it's frivolous, kitsch fun, with some catchy tunes. At worst, I think Vanessa Hudgens is a terrible actress, the plotting contrived and some of the lines so bad they wouldn't be out of place in a Lars von Trier film. That said, on the whole, I've had lots of fun with them, and shall list my 10 favourite songs over the three films.

10. I Don't Dance

Not gonna lie, Ryan is easily my favourite character from the films, and in this video he exhibits some of his camp swagger. Loves it.

09. Can I Have this Dance

Right, so, Troy and Gabriella can jog on, but there is something fundamentally quite sweet about this song.

08. Stick to the Status Quo


07. You Are the Music in Me

Yay

06. Just Wanna be With You

Ryan and Kelsey are my favourite duo from the film. When me and Luke saw this for the first time, this scene made us lol so much, because of the wink he gives us, as well as the the little glissando he does on the piano. So much win.

05. Getcha Head in the Game

There's more artistry than is given credit for in this video. I mean, just the way they got the basketball skidding to go in time with the music. That's well clever.

04. Scream

The most melodramatic of the 10 videos on my list, I could not stop giggling when the camera angles turned and Zac Efron tries to look brooding, but instead just looks constipated.

03. Bet on It

So much raw emotion.

02. Now or Never

Now or Never is a definite karaoke favourite of me. The part where Gabriella stands out of the audience and sings is still one of the funniest scenes in film.

01. We're All in this Together

When all is said and done, the original song from the first film is still my favourite. It holds so many awesome memories for me, not least performing in my Sixth Form Revue, where this song was employed. It's just a lovely, catchy song really.

Oh, and I hate myself for this, but, I have to concede.... there are moments when Zefron is actually bungable.

Brick Lane (Sarah Gavron, 2007)

Based on Monica Ali's novel of the same title, Brick Lane is a story of the stifling life led by Bangladeshi wife and mother of two Nazneen Ahmed (played by Tannishtha Chatterjee). Residing in the eponymous Brick Lane in the East End of London, she is married to a man with the best of intentions but the worst of executions. Her life consisting of one day more mundane than the last, her interest is piqued by the arrival of the sexy Karim (Christopher Simpson), a spirited and youthful man who brings out a side in herself she hasn't seen for a while. However, her husband is busy pursuing half-baked plan after half-baked plan in order to raise the funds to transport them back to Bangladesh, when she finds her own wants conflicting with those of his.

Like the source material, Brick Lane is easy to admire and difficult to love. The cinematography by Robbie Ryan is gorgeous, and we are treated to a plethora of rich, lush colours that each evoke the beauty of Bangladesh. The performances are strong, particularly by Chatterjee, who poignantly captures the protagonists' plight, her dilemma between old and new, wants and roles. However, despite having a standard running time, the who plot feels too dragged out and full of uninteresting sketches to feel worth making a film. The shooting of the film was bogged down by controversy after another (including a very public slanging match between Salman Rushdie and Germaine Greer) but in all honesty, it was definitely a case of much ado about nothing. The film isn't terribly cutting edge or particularly risque at all. It's just a well-shot, occasionally interesting film about a woman and the choices she finds herself making. Good on Sarah Gavron for trying, but next time, I'd like to see her having a little bit more fun.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Screening (02/11/09 - 08/11/09)

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Russian Dolls (Cédric Klapisch, 2005)
Entertainingly sweet romantic comedy sequel to L'auberge espagnole. Whereas the 2002 film centred on Barcelona, Russian Dolls takes us to Russia as our likeable protagonist Xavier (Romain Duris) tries to find out exactly what it is he wants from wmoen, and life. The parts of the film set in London were ridiculously picteresque and there were quite a lot of subplots that grated, but there was a sweet enough conclusion for me to overlook most of the film's flaws. Kelly Reilly was bung.

An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009)
Gentle comedy about growing up, love, culture and finding yourself starring Carey Mulligan as 16-year-old Jenny, a smart and sassy 16-year-old residing in Ealing with aspirations of reading English at Oxford. One day, on the way home from school, she is propositioned by Peter Sarsgaard's David, and soon he's taking her on weekend breaks to Oxford, expensive holidays to Paris and giving her the kind of education she will never find in school. Terrifically written by Nick Hornby and with a strong central performance by Mulligan, An Education is a very likeably and enjoyable little film, topped off by a show-stealing turn by Rosamund Pike as a ditzy society girl. There's one icky part where Peter Sarsgaard's character suggests Jenny loses her virginity to a banana, but apart from that, fully recommended.

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The Damned United (Tom Hooper, 2009)
Extremely intelligent film about Brian Clough's ill-fated stint as manager of Leeds United, a reign that lasted only 44 days, this is one of the best films about football that I've seen for a while. Michael Sheen's central performance is exquisite - he captures Clough's arrogance and hubris perfectly, and Timothy Spall is poignant as the long-suffering Peter Taylor. And the script by Peter Morgan is pitch-perfect, capturing the voices of football fans, players and managers in the time period perfectly.

The Invention of Lying (Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson, 2009)
Amiable enough comedy, but it felt like a bit of a backpat for Gervais. I loved the cameo from Shaun Williamson and Stephen Merchant, though! Ahhh, Extras...

Thoughts on last night's episode of X-Factor.

The theme for songs this week was film tunes. Being a film blogger, I was more than a bit excited about it.

Stacey - Stacey is by far my favourite contestant and Son of a Preacher Man is one of my all-time favourite songs and this performance pretty much made my Saturday. I thought Stacey did sexy very well, without going over the top and giving off a totally hoodrattish Scarlett Johansson vibe. The fact that she wasn't so keen on the overrated film that the song came from just makes me love her more. Stacey for the win.

Olly Murs - gave his performance a lot of energy and exuberance but like Louis and Danni said, something about his performance jarred.

Lloyd Daniels - he's one of the cutest things I've seen in my life, but, as we lose more talents every week, it doesn't seem fair that he stays. Stand By Me is an absolute classic and he completely underwhelmed me in his performance of it, not to mention the fact that he misses just about every other note. Sorry, Lloyd.

Jamie Archer - I thought it was quite amusing about the fuss Louis kicked up over Jamie singing the song "Crying" as it was from Gummo and not a very well known film, but then again I do see his point - pretty much every song has been in some film at some point so that does pretty much leave the door right open, which goes against the whole point of having themes. That said, Jamie sang the song absolutely beautifully and the emotion he felt shone through.

Lucie Jones - don't like her any more. Camp Rock: shitty song, average performance and annoying over-usage of the wind machine. Hope she jogs on soon.

Danyl Johnson - him starting the song by sitting on the stage was a horribly cheesy touch, and his supposed "best vocals" didn't sound anything more than OK. That said, I'm glad he got a proper haircut, and that he found middle ground in persona between the cocky bastard that he has come across as, and the domestic abuse victim he looked like last week.

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John + Edward - They sang Ghostbusters. As usual, a horribly incestuous undertone ran through their entire performance. They just can't sing, can't dance, can't do anything other than piss me off. I mean seriously, what the bung?

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Joe McEldry - the judges were horribly snarky about this being too "drama schoolish" but they can run along, his rendition of Circle of Life was beautiful.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

For the banter...

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Alejandro - Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is an extremely weird one, but I love about 90% of her songs, and Alejandro is no exception. There is a really awesome swagger in this song, especially in the delivery of:


You know that I love you boy
Hot like Mexico, rejoice
At this point I gotta choose
Nothing to loose

It's a bit of a cryptic song, but from what I can make out, there's a love triangle or square in there somewhere. Trust me, after a few listens, the "Ale-Ale-jandro" will be fixed into your mind.

Winter - Tori Amos
A bit of an obvious pick, bearing in mind the atrocious weather in the UK at the moment, but this still remains one of my all-time favourites.

The Other Side of the Door - Taylor Swift
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The exquisitely talented and beautiful Miss Swift really can do no wrong in my book, and this is yet another sublimely sweet love song from her. I love the country kick in all her songs.

Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas
OK, here's the thing. I really don't like the Black Eyed Peas - I think they're pseudo-environmental, wannabe cool twats who are all "let's save the planet with love" one minute, and then "let's bung, I like yo' humps" the other. But... this song does carry good memories for me. First of all, it was played in Wembley in the Wembley Cup, and anything that conflates music and football is a-ok with me. However, there's a weirder reason: there's this girl we know who is a gigantic hoodrat who has bunged so much that her vag is probably not dissimilar to a bucket, and me and my mates sing this song about her, the "boom boom pow" being the sound of her being piledriven. lol... we're charmin'.

Dead & Gone - T.I.
If I could rap like T.I., I'd die a happy girl.

Jimmy - M.I.A.
One of my favourite songs of all-time, it's a beautiful ode about a man (a genocide worker) who asks her out on a date. She, rejecting, writes this gorgeous song instead. The "Jimmy... aaja" part is one of my favourite musical moments. <3 Russian Roulette- Rihanna
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Like Umbrella, Russian Roulette is quite a polarizing song. Unlike Umbrella, it captures the essence of the heartbreak of love incredibly. The raw emotion in Rihanna's voice literally makes me shiver. LOVE.

Happy Hour - Cheryl Cole
My favourite song from Cheryl's "Three Words" album, which is some feat as Fight for This Love, Parachute and Rain on Me are all excellent. This tops them all though, especially her sexy delivery of "You tell me that you love me then you go and break my heart" as well as the "sometimes I can be sweet and sometimes I can be sour". Terrific album, btw.

On the whole, my playlist for November seems to be all about the women!

That's What Friends Are For.

My beloved bessie Anna, has seen it all from me. Knobbish behaviour, bitchiness to the extreme, depressed!Emmabung... you name it, the poor girl has been there with me. I love her more than life itself, which makes it rather fail that I don't know all her favourite songs and films off by heart. Thus, I got her to list 'em, and I thought I'd give every one a review. Starting with the songs: -

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01. Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones - it's OK
02. Too Young - Phoenix - I bloody LOVE this song. Pity it was played in Lost in Translation, but such is the strength of the song that I'm willing to overlook it!
03. Don't Speak - No Doubt - Gwen Stefani's vocals are amazing.
04. Marlena Shaw - California Soul - BRILLIANT song. I actually didn't know this was what the song was called, I just knew I've heard it lots of times and appreciate it a lot.
05. All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix - s'ok
06. Scar Tissue - Red Hot Chili Peppers - there are some great lyrics in this song.
07. Deepest Blue - Deepest Blue - don't see what all the fuss is about
08. No-one Knows - Queens of the Stone Age - sexy chorus, everything else meh
09. Go with the Flow - Queens of the Stone Age - I just don't see the Queens of the Stone Age jizzing, I guess
10. Ordinary World - Duran Duran - an absolutely stunningly deep song
11. Spells like Teen Spirit - Nirvana - inventive title, not much else rocks me
12. We Belong Together - Mariah Carey - not my favourite Mariah song (that's Fantasy), but definitely up there. Excellent singing and tune.
13. Heart-Shaped Box - Nirvana - affecting, but depressing
14. Let's Stay Together - Al Green - lovely song, one of the best love songs ever written.
15. The Killing Moon - Echo and the Bunnymen - the instrumental part in this song is pure sex
16. Skeleton Boy - Friendly Fires - surprisingly catchy!
17. Sweet Child Of Mine - Guns and Roses - "oh-oh-oh sweet child of mine"! Great one for dancing to.
18. White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane - there is some absolutely class guitar playing in this song. The vocals aren't bad either.
19. A Horse with No Name - America - hehee, I got this song with one of those "Rock legends" CDs I got for free with Saturday papers. OK song.
20. Sunshine of your Love - Cream - the riff is catchy but the rest sounds raggady and crappy to me

All in all, there are some class selections on here, but I'm a music idiot and love me my Rihannas and Kanyes. So yeah. <3 Anna, though. x

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Thoughts on last night's episode of X-Factor.

Joe - strong as ever.
Lucie - liked her take on Sweet child of Me, but I've realised that there's something dislikeable about her.
Danyl Johnson - forgot his words at the start and was just very boring. Him to go, please.
Lloyd - still can't sing, but I would. Louis was being blood pedantic, like.
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Stacey - wonderful. Easily my favourite of the series. The Essex Jew to win please!
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Jamie - OK, overrated.
Rachel - I like her a lot.
John & Edward - oh dear. They sang "We will Rock You", and tried to sing the talky bit together and were completely out of synch. They need to die, but not before they've provided more lulz with their atrocious performances.

Olly - he sang Come Together wonderfully, it reminded me why i adore The Beatles so.

Also, look, factual!fail on Final Score for a few seconds. I managed to take a printscreen for the banter: -
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Bung's Hallowe'en 2009 Outfit.

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Red coat, tiara and steering wheel = Princess Die! ;-)