Batman vs Superman: the Dawn of Justice (2016) Film Review

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The world of Metropolis is reeling from Superman’s battle against the bad guys in the last Superman film. Batman’s not happy with this and wants to stop Superman, and they’re unaware being controlled by the new and evil Lex Luthor. And then there is Wonder Woman?

Ok, I got really lost. I wasn’t sure what world we were in… was it after the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight films? No. But it was after the recent Superman? Yes. So, Superman lives in Metropolis? Yes. And Batman lives in Gotham? Yes. So, they are nearby? Apparently. How does Wonder Woman fit in? I’m still a little confused on that one.

I enjoyed the fighting and stuff. And I quite like Henry Cavill as Superman, and Amy Adams as Lois. Jesse Eisenberg was great as Lex Luthor – I think he was the highlight of the film for me. Ben Affleck as Batman? No, he didn’t work for me. Perhaps I could have enjoyed this more in a cinema, perhaps I would have followed the whole thing a lot better, but as it was I felt like it was a totally confusing mess.

 

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Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor – Book Review

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Our society is fearful of death. Fearful of talking about death, fearful of debates around euthanasia, fearful of what this means for those who are facing death and those who are left behind. Dying: A Memoir is the story of Cory Taylor, a writer and mother who, after she has no further treatment options against melanoma, must face death.

The book is in three parts and it is no surprise that it is an emotional read. But it is beautiful, recounting her life, her family and the choices that they all face. I am sure many will avoid it, not wanting to face the difficult subject matter, but I urge you to look beyond this. Taylor’s writing is brave and entertaining. It is one woman’s truth and a truth that deserves reading.

Dying: A Memoir was long listed for the 2017 Stellar Prize.

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An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire

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It’s a small town outside of Sydney. Bella went missing and, after a few painful days, was found dead, abandoned on the side of a highway. Her older sister, Chris, finds herself in the middle of it all; an investigation, a heap of reporters, and a community within which may hide her sister’s killer.

The book follows a few weeks where, while Chris tries to deal with her grief, aided by her ex-husband and those around her, journalist May, working for an online newspaper, is trying to find her headline and escape her own emotionally broken life.

With so many books on the Stellar Prize long list being non-fiction, I started this thinking it was a true story and only a few chapters in, realised it was fiction. But it is based on the truth of so many small towns where violence occurs, and on the various ways people try to move on. The characters are not necessarily likable, yet Maguire writes them in such an empathetic way that I found myself wanting them to succeed, which I found almost appalling in the case of May; but it is the fact that she is almost self-aware… not quite, but enough that I, against my better judgement, find that I want to be on her side. In a way.

An Isolated Incident was long listed for the 2017 Stellar Prize.

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The Sessions (2012) Film Review

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Mark (John Hawkes) is an academic who spends much of his day in an Iron Lung helping him to breathe. His nurses are able to take him out for hours at a time, but he has very limited movement. After learning about sexual surrogates, people who work with the disable to allow them to have sex, he engages the services of Cheryl (Helen Hunt) and discusses the process with his priest, Father Brendan (William H Macy).

It’s a fairly gentle film, really. There is little drama or action – it almost feels as though the filmmakers decided that it was enough for people to learn that these services exist and can improve the lives of those involved. Having said that, I don’t think that the film would have been improved by adding unnecessary drama; as it was, it was interesting and beautiful and fascinating. And does raise the debate of disabled actors playing disabled roles – John Hawkes is wonderful in this, and is generally quite wonderful in most things that he does, but why not have a disabled person in this role? (Money, for one. John Hawkes is a respected actor who would be a draw to producers. But still…)

Helen Hunt was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a supporting Role in The Sessions .

 

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Rosalie Blum (2015) Film Review

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Vincent(Kyan Khojandi) lives a life stuck in a rut – he runs the hairdressing salon that he inherited from his father, takes care of his needy mother, Simone(Anemone), and has a long-distance relationship with a girl who keeps cancelling their visits. Then he sees Rosalie Blum (Noemie Lvovsky) in a grocery store outside of his usual routine and recognises her. He cannot place her, but becomes obsessed with trying to recall why she is so familiar. Things are not as they seem, however, and when Aude(Alice Isaaz) comes onto the scene, everything changes.

It’s a delightful French film. Somehow, even the kind of creepy stalking parts have an innocent charm to them. And people are raving about this film. Yet.. I wanted to like it, but just didn’t. It seems like the type of film I absolutely should love. The characters are great, the setting is beautiful, the story is quirky and fun with a hidden depth. But I just didn’t really like it. I still recommend it – I think most people will enjoy it more than I did. The guy behind me in the cinema loved it!

 

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Once (2007) Film Review

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There’s a Guy (Glen Hansard), busking in Dublin who meets a Girl (Marketa Irglova) who plays piano, and they start making music together. That’s pretty much it, and yet it is a beautiful and lovely film. It’s partly because the music is just so good. The tag line for the film is “How often do you find the right person?” Which suggests to me that it is a love story, and I felt that it pushed to go that way a few times, but that the better and the real story was that of the creative partnership. It’s a really great film, quite lovely. Very low budget, very unexpected.

Once won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)

 

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The Good People by Hannah Kent

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Set in the Ireland in the early nineteenth century, The Good People takes place in a small town where religion is pushing out older pagan traditions. Nora Leahy is raising the child left behind when her daughter died, and suddenly, her husband also dies. The child is disabled – unable to walk, talk and constantly upset. Though talk of the villagers and the local herbalist, Nance (considered by some to be a witch), Nora becomes convinced that her child is a changling – a fairy child, left when the fairies took the real child. If she can find the right process, she will be able to get rid of this fake and get her one grandchild back – and the bad luck of the area will be reversed.

Hannah Kent’s previous book was Burial Rites, which I also loved. She is able to capture an essence of a time and find the characters who lived there. Her books are touching, leaving the reader desperately wanting to help the characters who seem unable to help themselves. It’s not a light walk in the park, but I’d highly recommend this wonderful book.

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