Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter – Book Review


Perry and Baby Girl are two teenage girls living in the bad part of small town America. They drink and steal cars and get into trouble with each other a lot and they don’t care about anyone – except each other. Until they start getting contacted by a guy through social media and things get complex and messy.

It’s kind of a horrible book – told from varying points of view, these two main characters have so many problems in their lives that you really want the author to give them a break, give them a chance to get through their teenage years and have a life. But no such luck it is blow after blow. I can’t say that I enjoyed reading this book, but I’m kind of glad I did.



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The Princess Bride (1987) Film Review


If you have never seen this film, well, that sucks for you. Because I think that if you come to this film too late in life, you just may not get it. See, it is daggy as anything, with cheesy special effects, and over-the-top, magnificently melodramatic acting. And it is totally wonderful.

Story? Well, Buttercup (Robin Wright) is a girl who is love with a farmboy, Westley (Cary Elwes). But when his boat is taken by Dread Pirate Roberts, a pirate known to leave no survivors, Buttercup is bereft. So when evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) chooses her as his bride, she doesn’t care. Love is dead for her. Then she is kidnapped by a mysterious party of three – Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), a man gunning for the revenge over the death of his father, Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) a Sicilian who thinks he can outsmart anyone and Fezzik (the late, great Andre the Giant) who loves to rhyme but is not too smart. And things get exciting!

So wonderful, so fantastic. And then add in a legendary performance by Peter Cook, along with Christopher Guest, Fred Savage, Peter Falk, Mel Smith, Billy Crystal… too wonderful.


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Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015) Film Review


It’s the 70s. Minnie (Bel Powley) is a teenager whose mother, Charlotte (Kristin Wiig) has come out of a long-term relationship with a man who restricted her freedom. She now has a boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard) and together they regularly get drunk and high and have a great time. Then Minnie starts having sex with Monroe without her mother knowing. And she loves this secret, despite feeling ugly and terrible.

It’s an odd film. I hate the idea that this man takes advantage of this girl, but yet he ultimately seems more unhappy and basically effed up than anyone else. But is him feeling a bit crap any real punishment for his seducing this young, innocent girl? The fact that both she and, ultimately, her mother come out better at the end doesn’t really make up for his sleazy behaviour… does it?

I love the occasional use of animation, and the fact that the girl is ultimately stronger than she thinks, and despite her mother, you feel that she’s got a good future at the end. I think I liked it; I definitely likes Bel Powley as Minnie and look forward to seeing more from her.


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Captain Fantastic (2016) MIFF Review


Ben (Viggo Mortensen) lives in the deep forest with his six children, educating them, teaching them to fight, to hunt, to live off the land and to be critical of society. Then they get word that the kids’ mother has died and they go on a road trip to meet the family and honour her last wishes.

Ben drove me insane. I get what he was doing and I get why he was doing it, but it seriously annoyed me because it was clear that when it went wrong, it would really blow up in his face big time. Yet… yet I really enjoyed it. The kids were pretty awesome, it was genuinely funny and also kind of cheesy and delightful.

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Bride and Prejudice (2004) Film Review


Essentially, this is an English-language Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice. I can’t tell you how close to the original text they have stayed because (shock horror) I’ve never read or seen an original Pride and Prejudice. I know the basic premise from things like Lost in Austen and various referential things, so I know where it was going.

I really enjoyed it. All the singing and dancing and amazingly beautiful clothes and styles – and the mum – she was fabulous. Ah, let it wash over you – it’s fun times. Would I watch it again? Nah, probably not. I don’t think I’d go out of my way to see it. If it was on television, perhaps. Especially if I turned it on during the market scene. I really liked that one!



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Auggie and Me by R.J. Palacio – Book Review


This is kind of a sequel to Wonder, but not really. The author explains at the start that she never intends to follow Auggie on his journey for many reasons, including that many teachers use Wonder as a springboard into creative writing exercises that allow students to discover the many different paths Auggie and his friends go on. Instead, she wanted to look at three characters who only play small roles in the first book and investigate the types of journeys they are going on.

First is Julian, the nasty bully. His story takes him to his grandmother’s house in Paris, where she tells him a story from World War Two that causes Julian to rethink his attitude. I felt like certainly Julian needed someone to give him a kick up the bum, but this seemed like major overkill. Mind you, perhaps that is just the point – that it might take more than you’d expect to get through to some people. Second is Christopher, Auggie’s old friend who moved away, and who we know of, but don’t really spend any time with. Christopher is dealing with the guilt that he feels over an accident his mother had – she survived, but he is aware of how close it could have been, and finds it difficult to find his place in all of this. I liked this story – the feeling of being out of depth, and wanting to change things, and not knowing how to deal with divorce and so much else. Finally, there is Charlotte, who is one of the three kids chosen to buddy with Auggie by the principal, and who stays friendly but distant from him. She’s trying to deal with the world of girls and friendships, and how things can seem to be totally different within a few moments. This one I think I related to the most, remembering school and the want and need to be liked whilst still trying to be true to yourself.

This is a nice collection of stories and it was nice to be back in their world briefly.

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A Common Thread (Brodeuses) (2004) Film Review


Claire (Ariane Ascaride) is a seventeen-year-old who has accidentally fallen pregnant and decides that she will have the baby and adopt it out. She lives alone, and takes sick leave from her supermarket job. She doesn’t want anyone to know that she is pregnant – not her family or colleagues. She loves to embroider, and takes a job with a seamstress who has recently lost her son in an accident.

This is one of those films where kind of not a lot happens. It’s slow and beautiful and the craftwork is amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of this small world for an hour and a half.

A Common Thread won the Critics Week Grand Prize in 2004

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