Thursday, March 28, 2013

(Here is an awesome guest post from the fantastic Emma @ Mabismab - please hop on over to her blog and show her some love!)

Wow, here I am again! I'm so lucky to have such a great friend who will let me share my amateur views on film on her blog – Thanks Mrs B! (Emma is being far too modest!)

This time, I'm here to talk about vampire films. More specifically, I'm here to discuss the two versions of Let The Right One In; the Swedish film of the same name, and the American “Let Me In”.

It is only very recently (this weekend, in fact) that I have ventured to watch the American adaptation. I watched the Swedish film in the cinema as soon as it was released, and loved every second. This was closely followed by reading the (very brilliant) book by John Ajvide Lindqvist. When it came to Let Me In being released, I felt that the Americans had made this film too soon. It was barely a year since the Swedish release, and my enjoyment of it wasn't ready to be eclipsed either positively or negatively by the English speaking version. The reviews had also been a little unconvincing, so, I sat back and watched other things. God help me I actually watched Jennifer’s Body on the quest for vampire visual consumption... 

Of course, the lure of a vampire film inspired by a novel I knew to be great couldn't be kept at bay for long, and so it was with anticipation that I settled down to watch Let Me In on a suitably bleak Bristolian day. 

Well, I have to say that I'm glad that I waited this long. The film is very almost a scene for scene copy of the Swedish film, and the performances of the two children are creepily alike in both versions. If I had watched it at its release I think I would have resented it for that, being so soon, but now I find it was nice to have a non-departure from such a stunning original attempt. 

Chloe Moretz is currently “actress du jour” for the up-and-coming star hunters among us, and in this film it is very easy to see why. Both she and her counterpart Kodi Smit-McPhee are brilliantly meek and fragile in their exchanges. They convey that childlike awkwardness with great style and I will admit my only disappointment with these two characters is that the American writers chose to call Moretz’ character Abby instead of Eli and Smit-Mcphee's character Owen instead of Oskar. Never mind eh, they have a habit of unnecessary name changes... (ahemGoldenCompassSorcerorsStoneetcetcahem)

I also found the snowy setting just as believable in the American estate as in Sweden. The cinemato
graphy, although it lacked an artistry that was evident in the Swedish version, was nonetheless interesting and engaging, if a little “standard”.

I actually think that in one respect, the American version surpassed the Swedish: The phone call Owen makes to his father is deeply moving, and brings something more to the character than the “bullied school misfit” that would have been all too familiar for a teen-targeted film at the moment.

Of course, there were mixed reviews for this film for a reason, and I can only put them down to the completely unneeded CGI. Watching Abby clamber up a tree as if she had just escaped The Ring was jarring, to say the least, in a film so otherwise unassuming and modest. It wasn't even a scene that was integral, it was just there because it could be; because it was Hollywood. The same can also be said of Abby’s “transformation” - also unneeded and also bringing something of a gimmicky, tacky edge to an otherwise poetic concept.

One of my favourite moments from the Swedish film was the pool scene. If you have seen it, you might agree that it was one of the most beautiful, graphically violent things to be watched in 2008. Something of a contradiction, but true. Unfortunately Hollywood got all Hollywood about it, and the scene's subtlety was destroyed -very much a shame as I had looked forward to a new representation of it all film long. Deep down, though, I knew it would be as it was. I shouldn't be so surprised!

At the end of the day, I don’t know whether or not I would encourage anyone to watch Let Me In, but I wouldn't dissuade from it. Similarly to much of the “new” things in the film, I felt the entire thing was just a bit unnecessary. If you want Let The Right One In without subtitles, watch this. If you want to see why Chloe Moretz might be worth putting Oscar bets on when she’s a bit older, watch this. Otherwise, if you’re choosing between the Swedish version and the American one, I honestly don't think it matters...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

“My greatest enemies are Women and the Sea. These things I hate. Women because they are weak and stupid and live in the shadow of men and are nothing compared to them, and the Sea because it has always frustrated me, destroying what I have built, washing away what I have left, wiping clean the marks I have made.” Iain Banks, The Wasp Factory

This book is just so gross. By gross, I mean recurring graphic descriptions of animal torture and deaths of children. Avoid this book if you have a weak disposition, do not have a thing for gore or if you love fluffy bunnies, because I kid you not, some of the stuff in this book is just awful.

Frank, who's sixteen, lives with his father, some old brilliant ex-university professor. His brother Eric is in a psychiatric hospital and we begin the book hearing of Eric's escape. The story is written in first person and to be honest not much really happens. We know that Frank's's father has an office that he always keeps locked. Also, Frank receives crazed phone calls from Eric every day or two, frequently becoming hysterical and overly sensitive. All the while there are a good too many scenes of animals being killed and tortured, we have to listen to endless, monotonous internal dialogue by the incredibly boring Frank, which all culminates to what you think will be an epic struggle and battle but instead a huge freaky secret is exposed.

The Audiobook
The book is narrated by Peter Kenny. He is a master of many voices and to be honest listening to him reading in Eric's voice is eerie - he encapsulates the fury, hysteria and lunacy in Eric's voice, I'm not exaggerating, you can practically hear the spit shooting from his mouth as he rages! It's scary! Unfortunately though, the voice he chose for Frank was just so boring, coupled with Frank being quite boring it was like pulling teeth listening sometimes. 

The Story
I'm sure you can tell just from my rating that I wasn't a big fan of this story. There were parts in the tale that were interesting. For instance, Frank is evidently crazy himself. He divulges the three murders he planned and perpetrated as a child with a quiet detachment, and consistently shares with the reader his obsessive compulsive behaviours and his inability to control his habits.

Frank's OCDish behaviour manifests in his creating a sort of religion. Everything he does has, in his eyes, greater meaning. The animals he tortures and kills are always done in a ritual manner, he believes himself to be able to see in to the future with these killings. We hear references of his alter, the animals being called sacrifices, and his premonitions... there is even one point where he thinks that he can reach his brother telepathically and is pretty sure he did. 

I found the story repetitive and so frustrating. It was just a constant reminder of how nuts Frank is and how much he loves torturing things. Frank does not grow. He is stagnant, and bizarre, and I'm sure Banks thought that it would all be worth it in the end with the twist, but it wasn't. I walked away flabbergasted and annoyed.

The story's twist, which I shall not give away can easily pass even the most focussed reader, but the clues are there, all along, so let me know if you catch them. I unfortunately already knew the twist at the end and I am sure that it removed some of the intrigue from the book that others would experience. All in all though, I'm not a fan of excessive gore, or animal torture or child murders, so it was a difficult read for me, and the only reason I finished reading it was because I'd started. I also like to read writers that are clever about being pretentious... I don't like it shoved in my face.

It's a coming-of-age type of story set on a tiny Island in Scotland. It has pacing that is very, very typical of the Gothic. No goblins, ghosts or ghouls though I'm afraid! You may like it, I won't be unreasonable, I mean on GoodReads The Wasp Factory has done very well indeed and so it really just depends on your tastes. For me - no, I didn't enjoy it at all, it was like pulling teeth.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

...these films are;
          A) In your DVD collection
          B) ...considered, by you, to be the best films EVER

        The movies are not in any particular order... except for number one... number one is number one I'm afraid!

21) SpaceBalls [1987]
You get every reference and find yourself having to explain them to your guests.

20) Fight Club [1999]
You still talk about the ‘twist’ in the movie and regularly compare with acquaintances at what point you ‘clicked’ – or maybe, you’re one of those geeks who say ‘Oh... but the book was far superior’?

19) Seven Samurai [1954]
Oh yes... you love world cinema and regularly say (with a flourish of course) ‘Akira Kurosawa’s film, Seven Samurai, is really not only his greatest film, but... also his most widely known movie on our side of the planet... har-har!’

18) The Cabin in the Woods [2011]
You make everyone you know watch this at least once and watch for their expressions... you then check at the end of the film to see if they ‘got it’.

17) Highlander [1986]
Yes, it’s awful... you agree, but you love it. You love it because it’s about Scotsmen, swords, revenge and the modern world (oh and Sean Connery). You can’t help it... I get it.

16) Zombieland [2009]
I’m afraid if this is on your shelf, there’s no hope for you now.

15) 2001: A Space Odyssey [1968]
You sit with bated breath during the five minute overture at the opening, not allowing anybody to talk or even blow their noses (or like me you stare at the ‘iPad-like’ devices they have in the space ship and pause it to tell everybody about it).

14) Metropolis [1927]
Conversations with you about this film are painful – as you’re convinced you’re the one who discovered it.

13) Shaun of the Dead [2004]
You guffaw at all the right places like a Brit; whilst saying ‘there really is nothing quite like British humour’. You also point out all the foreshadowing in the film to the annoyance of other people.

12) Battle Royale [2000]
Does the following sound familiar... ‘Ha, you liked The Hunger Games? You do know that she totally ripped it off from Battle Royale... a Japanese film from like the 2000s, which was also a manga!’

11) Gattacca [1997]
‘The themes in Gattacca are totally relevant to our very near future’ says you, whilst shaking your fist, convinced that future super-stars will be having their children genetically engineered in the womb etc etc

10) Batman [1989 onward]
All of them.

11) Serenity [2005]
Argh... stop telling me that it used to be a TV Show (Firefly) and all the actors are pretty much up to start the show again and blah blah...

10) 12 Monkeys [1995]
Post-Apoc is a genre that gets your juices flowing. This is required watching.

9) Idiocracy [2006]
When you sit to watch it, you have to be alone... otherwise, your constant spouting of how people have already reached the level of stupidity in this movie distracts those watching with you.

8) Alien Series [1979 onward]
Oh my. To initiate other people to your geekdom you force them to watch this... and the rest for good measure!

7) The Fifth Element [1997]
Another Bruce Willis – you use the fact that he is in this movie, and 12 Monkeys to prove that Willis is just so flexible and one of the best actors of our age.

6) Back to the Future [1985]
This is so geek it’s close to becoming main-stream... but your inner-geek can’t resist, even if you resent it a little.

5) Planet of the Apes [1968 onwards]
The whole damn franchise

4) Dune [1984]
This is another one of those films where you push up your glasses and tut at all the inconsistencies the film has with the novel.

3) Star Wars [1977 onwards]
‘The old ones please, none of those fandangled-fancy ones’, says you, gritting your teeth.

2) Stargate [1994]
You not only love this, but own it... and the whole series too!

...and the number one place goes to...

1) Star Trek [1979 onward]
There is nothing left to be said

Have I missed something? Do you disagree? Has your inner-geek just raged against this list? Let me know! You can message me below or on Twitter @OrisiB

Am I not geek enough?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

[So, I kinda suck, I had this post ready for yesterday and went out, and didn't get back home till late. When I got in I went straight to bed, COMPLETELY forgetting to publish it. So here it is... with my amendments! haha!]

Oh yes, it's yesterday was World Poetry Day. Exciting hay? Well I think thought so!
I'm gonna share a poem with you, but also some awesome anthologies/collections that are so delicious you may LITERALLY sink your teeth in to them.

But first...
Here's a poem from an unknown Inuit poet. I live right by the sea, on an island, I love to swim and I love everything about the ocean... so, this moved me too.


The great sea stirs me.
The great sea sets me adrift,
it sways me like the weed
on a river-stone.

The sky's height stirs me.
The strong wind blows through my mind,
It carries me with it,
so I shake with joy.

(Inuit Poem)

And now for something completely different...

Here they are - for your viewing pleasure! Eight awesome poetry collections from around the world (oh and sorry... two are from Britain).

Do you have a favourite poem from a place other than your own country (I know... I'm totally rocking the boat here, hay!)? If you do, post it below or you can always Twitter my face @OrisiB I'd love to get hold of some new awesomeness!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The very wonderful Madiha @ The Smell of Parchment nominated me for the Liebster Award. Cute huh!

It's an award for blogs with fewer than 200 followers. It's a way of showcasing different blogs and more importantly discover new ones! Super awesome.

So, I've gotta answer 11 questions, as well as give away 11 facts, and then nominate 11 blogs PLUS give them some questions too (11 to be exact)!

Many thanks to the fabulous Madiha - you can find her at the link above! Go and stalk with ya bad self!

My Questions from Madiha

1. Why did you begin blogging?
I have always written and I have always been opinionated. I began my 'blogging career' when I moved to the United Arab Emirates a few years back, I had (and still do but I've been lazy since the new year) a blog that recorded our adventures and misadventures, as well as pieces with general information about the UAE. I read English at university and so from an education perspective was taught to be quite critical of literature in general, also a good friend of mine @MabisMab had a book blog and so, I apologised profusely to her and let her know that I needed a place to express my audiobook, book and movie loves and irks and so that I would too, be starting a book blog. So viola - that is a detailed explanation of not only why did I begin blogging... but also how I got in to book blogging.

2. Sunrise or Sunset?
It's all about sunset for me my awesome friend. It's just stunning, the sun all deep oranges and reds that gives way to darkness. Just beautiful!

3. Do you judge a book by its cover?

Yes, yes I do, and I am not ashamed to sing it loud and proud. Occasionally not so good covered stories can surprise me, but if I'm out looking for a new book in a store I will naturally gravitate towards the prettiest covers.

4. What is the most exciting thing you've ever done?
It would have to be upping sticks and moving to the middle east. I love it here, it has been an amazing experience so far but yes, it was pretty exciting. Lots of tears but excitement too.

5. If you had to give up one of your senses, which would it be and why?
I guess it would have to be my sense of smell. I know I would miss out on the smell of fresh books, bread, and cut grass, and I'd definitely miss perfumes, but I think I couldn't go without the others optionally!

6. Which, in your opinion, is your favourite book to movie transition?

I'm gonna have to say To Kill a Mockingbird would be my favourite... even though I risk sound like an old fogey, but anywho, yes, yes, I loved it! Both the movie and the book, so there!

7. Most embarrassing story you are willing to share online?

This is an embarrassing but also AWESOME story. A friend and I had been walking through Borders once upon a time, as a teen, looking for a new book and I kid you NOT, there was a book that had a lady on the front that looked just like me! My friend and I could not believe our teenage eyes and so we grabbed it off the shelf and went to one of the staff members. We told them that I was the author of the book and the model on the front and that I was here for my scheduled book signing. The staff member looked flustered and told me that he would quickly go to his manager and that they would set something up as soon as possible.
So anywho... he started going and I... a total coward, chased him up the stairs apologised profusely and said that we were only joking. I was red, and stuttering, and feeling like I could potentially be arrested... my friend added to the aggrieved looking staff member, 'But doncha think she looks just like her?'. I felt just, so very embarrassed. 

8. Your favourite book as a child?
The B.F.G by Roald Dahl. I even had it on audiobook too - I loved it!

9. Which book are you highly anticipating to read.

I'm really looking forward to reading Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis. It's a supernatural alternate history set in 1939; need I say more?

10. Who's your favourite character from a book/movie and why?
I think it has to be Odetta Holmes from Stephen King's The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three. She's also known as the Lady of the Shadows and Detta, she's a black lady from New York who is missing both of her legs below the knee and is wheelchair bound. She has a few, very awesome personalities. I love her because she's awesome, witty, moody and has other personalities - haha!

11. Have a book boyfriend/girlfriend? Who is it and why?
Funnily enough... I really don't. I do, though, remember when I was around fourteen having a massive book-crush on a character named Jethro from the Point Horror books. Yes... I know, I should be ashamed of myself, I had even thought that that was a hot name. Embarrassing.

11 Random Facts about Me

1. I get claustophobic if I'm indoors too much, but I prefer being indoors than outdoors
2. My favourite film of all time is The Wizard of Oz
3. I used to tight-lace
4. I'm a snob. A book and movie snob, I try not to judge, but I do. 
5. I am a teacher
6. I have a freakish obsession with Stephen Fry
7. I am bilingual
8. I have a ridiculous soft-spot for 'inspirational teacher-movies'
9. I avoid CAPTCHA like the plague (unless when necessary)!
10. Rachel Berry from Glee is the most INFURIATING character to me and I actually stopped watching the show because I hated her so much
11. I love to swim

I Choose You!

1. Mab is Mab

2. Scenes of Chaos
3. That's What She Read
4. Lola's Reviews
5. The Social Potato Reviews
6. Literary, etc
7. Girl with a Pen and a Dream
8. Words and Tea Bottles 
9. Wonderlands Reader
10. Ramblings of a Book Nerd
11. Shadows of the Past

My Questions for all of Yous

1. Why do you blog? 
2. If you could become a character in a book for one day, who wouldja be?
3. What is your favourite genre?
4. Spring, Summer, Winter or Autumn?
5. Do you have a favourite book? What is it and why?
6. In your opinion what makes a good book cover?
7. Look one-hundred years in to the future... what does reading look like then?
8. Do you love or loathe movie adaptations of your books?
9. Where is your favourite place to read?
10. Where in the world have you visited?
11. If you could explore one culture in the world and ask all the questions and not offend anybody which culture would that be?

And there you have it! I look forward to seeing your answers - drop by and leave me a comment so I know when to find it and where! You guys rock and a special thank you to Madiha! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Well, while the world waits to hear who has been named the new pope I came across this BEAUTY. It was uploaded on to YouTube just yesterday and it has the potential to go viral.

Enjoy my friends... enjoy the beginning credits of Game of Thrones... 1995 styley!

Much love to huntersland on YouTube who put this together!

So thanks to some of you awesome people, and thanks to many other awesome people, Orisi's Blah Blah Blah has got through to the second round of voting for the Best Noob Blogger of 2012 for the upcoming Book Blogger Twitter Conference (BBTC) hosted by ParaJunkee and Bookish Brunette. I'm thrilled!

So... I'm gonna be tacky and ask that you guys vote for me one more time. Just one more time (I know I've harassed over on Twitter, but please bare with me)! It'd be awesome and much appreciated. 

Many thanks

Thursday, March 7, 2013

'Anyway, as long as there is oil in the Middle East we will never have peace' Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis 

If I hadn't had work the next day I would have easily been able to finish both books in one sitting. Unfortunately I actually had to pause, and spent work-days, outings with friends and family thinking about these books. 

The books are written by the fabulous Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian lady who happened to witness both the ousting of the Shah, and the revolution that lead to Iran becoming an Islamic Republic. To save her from the continued horrors her parents send her to Austria to study. Satrapi details her experiences as a child, as a teen in Austria, what happened when she decided to move back to Iran and eventually her acceptance and celebration of her identity and emancipation from guilt.

It is awesome.
By awesome I mean it is great.
Okay. I'm a fangirl now.

Just in case you don't know, Persepolis is a graphic novel. The art work is black and white in a straight laced comic strip form... y'know, with windows and such. The pictures are stark, but then so is the topic. 

She does a wonderful job at highlighting how cultural and national identity can become difficult issues for immigrants. Even those of us who have first generation immigrant parents pretty much spend our early lives trying to unite the many sides of our personalities, whilst also trying to withstand the pressure. I found that part of her narrative absolutely fantastic and poignant, it was so relevant to my own upbringing. The pressure she feels from her national and cultural identity is beautifully expressed, as it is not only the guilt of escaping a war that oppresses her but also the pressure of living in a country of luxury; she's been given a great opportunity... she needs to make something of herself.

I got hold of this version.
Both books in one!
Satrapi as a child is also brilliant and her experiences can, at times, be chilling. Her rebellious nature as a child is one that could not possibly survive when the new regime comes in. Satrapi uses foreshadowing throughout the novels which means that she is perfectly in control of the tension, fear and anxiety she's trying to make us feel. She throws them on the reader in much the same way a good novelist will. 

I borrowed this book from a cafe a few kilometres away. I was very impressed that this was openly available in the United Arab Emirates, but then again, the regime in Iran is very different to the politics in the UAE.

I have yet to watch the movie. It is on my to-watch list though and I will post a movie review very soon.

Why this comic is so excellent is that it is not preachy in its tone. I avoided it for a long time because I thought it was going to just end up being another 'Muslim-Bashing' piece of literature, but it isn't that. It isn't a criticism of religion, it is a criticism of fanatics of all sorts (racists, royalists, anarchists, communists, 'religionists' etc etc) masquerading behinds constructs that allows them to control others. It didn't seem didactic... just honest. 

So, what did I give it. I gave it 5 stars. Marjane Satrapi has a refreshing voice that I've not had the pleasure of reading before. It is a highly personal memoir with beautiful and stark art work. I recommend it. Greatly.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Remember those movies you loved as a child... or even as a teen? I do. I remember them like the back of my hand. In fact, I bought the majority of my DVD collection as a teenager and so I have cold, hard proof of my tastes and transgressions.

The 'Re-Watching Series' is an opportunity to re-watch the movies that I thought were AWESOME as a kid... and report my now adult-experience to you guys, so that you may admire, sympathise, wince, and laugh at me (and maybe you can laugh with me too!).

Films will include:

  1. The Others
  2. Donnie Darko
  3. Malcom X
  4. Holes
  5. GI Jane
  6. Recess: School's Out
  7. Superstar
  8. Beetlejuice
  9. Hook
  10. Uptown Girls
  11. Willow
  12. Before Women had Wings
And many others!
You never know... I may have just had excellent kiddy-taste when it came to movies! Haha! We'll see!

I'd love to hear about your own re-watching experiences too! So, get re-watching those movies you used to think were epic as a child/teen and send me a message here, or over on Twitter @OrisiB

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