Big Little Lies vs Big Little Lies *spoiler alerts*

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (audiobook read by Caroline Lee)

Set in the fiction Sydney beachside suburb of Pirriwee , Big Little Lies investigates a death that happens during a school trivia night at the local primary school. However, it’s revealed in gradual dribs and drabs, first introducing the colourful cast and then eventually reveal who dies, how and why. It’s fabulous. The audiobook reading by Caroline Lee is wonderful – she brings the characters to life in a fabulous way, each separate and perfect. I found the book a very funny read, even though when I mentioned the humour to friends who had watched the show, they said that it definitely wasn’t a comedy. And it’s not, but it is very funny!

When I heard that the show was set in the US, I was surprised because, to me, it feels like a really Australian story. But with all that juiciness, it was going to translate well.

Big Little Lies (TV Review)

There were a lot of little things that I didn’t like being changed in this adaptation – like the fact that the book starts on Madeline’s 40th birthday. It’s not a big thing, but it’s important. Then there is the whole “Avenue Q” thing, which I didn’t see as being a great addition, and then the French au pair takes a backseat, and that for me, was a delightful addition to the tension in the book. I also didn’t like the changes to Jane – in the book, she is initially in denial about the events of the night when she conceived Ziggy, but the film has her with far more of a need for closure/revenge, and I liked her as someone still dealing with her trauma. One thing that translated beautifully was the Celeste/Perry situation – very, very hard to watch and a massive hats off to Nicole Kidman. I also really liked that there were some characters who, in the book, were quite flat that were really filled out in this. Did I love it? Yes, I loved the book, I loved the show, I’m quite concerned that they are going to squeeze another series out… will it work? I don’t know.

Lion (2016) Film Review

I must admit, I avoided watching this film for a while because, while I was curious to hear Dev Patel doing an Australian accent (awesome job there, by the way), I felt that I’d seen the whole film from the trailers. A young boy in India gets lost and ends up being adopted by an Australian couple, and years later goes back to track down his mother and brother. But no! I mean, yes, that is the story. But I though it would all be the tracking down – the first half of the film or so belongs to Sunny Pawar, the young boy who plays Saroo as a child getting lost. It is beautiful and tragic, and very, very wonderful. Yes, the later parts with Patel and David Wenham and Nicole Kidman are good, but only because they had such a strong start.

See it. Yes, have tissues, it’s clearly a tear-jerker, but in all the very best ways.

Lion was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Dev Patel), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Nicole Kidman), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Cinematography and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score). It was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture- Drama, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Dev Patel), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Nicole Kidman) and Best Original Score – Motion Picture. It won BAFTAs for Best Supporting Actor (Dev Patel) and Best Screenplay (Adapted) (Luke Davies) and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Nicole Kidman), Best Cinematography and Original Music.

Paddington (2014) Film Review


So, Paddington (voiced by Ben Wishaw) ends up in London, gets adopted by Henry Brown (Hugh Bonneville) and his family, but the evil Millicent (Nicole Kidman) wants to get him and so adventures take place.

Many kids in the UK and Australia grew up with Paddington – a bear from deepest Peru who came to London and was adopted by a family. Possibly, you could even say most kids know of him. I’d heard of him, but I didn’t know the story, and had very little interest in watching this film despite being told repeatedly that it was amazing. And it was a really good kids film with a great cast, a fair bit of humour and a lot of niceness. Enjoy with some kids – that’s the best way!

Paddington was nominated for BAFTAs for Best British Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.


The Paperboy (2012) Film Review


This is a tough film… it starts as a film about a couple of hopefuls who are trying to get a possibly innocent criminal out of jail and turns into… well, I don’t really know what. It’s all really tricky.

Zac Efron plays Jack, a young guy in Florida in the 1960s who is dragged into a strange world after his brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) returns to town to try to expose injustices in relation to a murder conviction. The convicted is Hilary Van Wetter (John Cusack), a repulsive man from the swamps. Ward brings along his writing partner Yardley (David Oyelowo), who creates waves as he is a black man in this racist society, and Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), a racy woman who believes after corresponding with Van Wetter, that not only is he innocent, but that they are in love. Jack is in love with Charlotte in no time. And then things get really horrible. The whole story is told by the family maid, Anita (Macy Gray).

It’s interesting, and then it is creepy, and then it is a bit shocking, and then thing get a bit twisted, and then things get horrible and then more horrible and I am possibly never going to recover. And Nicole Kidman, well, generally I find her very difficult to watch these days, but she it fabulous in this. No wonder she was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance.


The Hours (2002) Film Review



Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is battling her mental health issues and attempting to write Mrs Dalloway. Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is a mother of a small child, pregnant to a second in the 1950s, reading Mrs Dalloway and struggling with depression. Her doting husband Dan (John C Reilly) seems to not notice how much she is struggling, even though her small child, Richie (Jack Rovello) seems acutely aware of it. Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is a woman living in present-day New York who is throwing a party for her closest friend, Richard (Ed Harris) who has just won a literary award. He is ill with AIDS and between the illness and the medication, he is not mentally all that aware of what is happening around him. A long-standing joke between them is that he refers to her as Mrs Dalloway.

The film is beautiful and tragic and wonderful and only ruined by one thing – that nose. Nicole Kidman has a prosthetic nose, presumably because she is considered to beautiful to portray the plain Virginia Woolf. Bullshit. She does some decent acting here, but it is all taken away by the constant staring at that stupid lump on her face. If they really couldn’t handle having her with her normal face playing the role (and hey, if they wanted to make her Hollywood ugly, doesn’t she just need a frumpy dress, bad hair and glasses?), then perhaps they should have cast someone plainer. The whole nose thing made me so angry, because it treats the audience like morons. Grrr.

If you can get past the nose, do. Oh, and the unrelenting, too loud and melodramatic soundtrack. All three storylines have pain and sadness and so much depth in a short amount of time. The supporting cast is pretty fabulous as well, but it is the three main women who carry the weight of this heavy film.

The Hours won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Nicole Kidman) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ed Harris), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Julianne Moore), Best Director (Stephen Daldry), Best Writing Adapted Screenplay (David Hare), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Music, Original Score.


The Golden Compass vs The Golden Compass


The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

This, the first of the His Dark Materials trilogy, tells the adventurous story of Lyra, a young girl who has grown up an orphan being raised at Oxford College in a previous era. Only, it’s not – it’s a different world, a world with polar bears who wear armour and fight, with witches and where every human has a daemon – an animal representation of their soul that is spiritually joined to them and has various roles in their lives. Until one hits puberty, their daemon changes depending on the situation, but after puberty it is fixed. In Lyra’s world, children are disappearing and there are all kind of rumours. When Lyra starts investigating, she finds out more about her world and the outside world than she could imagine – including about her uncle Lord Asriel and the mysterious Mrs Coulter.

I quite liked Lyra and the depictions of the characters, but I found that as soon as problems were raised, they seemed to be solved; things just seemed to be quite convenient. I also struggled with the way he wrote the dialogue, representing Lyra’s accent – it really annoyed me. I think possibly because I didn’t feel this was how Lyra spoke, so it felt wrong. Still, despite the things I disliked about the book, I am keen on reading more, and I intend to read the next two books.


The Golden Compass (2007) Film Review

I’m glad I’d read the book before I saw the film, because I suspect that I would not have had such an easy time following it otherwise. There is just so any elements to the story, and the book gives it time to tell the story, but the film rushes through it all. Like the book, I found the dialogue for Lyra and some of the others quite jilting.

It was a beautiful film, although some of the effects already look quite dated. Nicole Kidman was perfect for Mrs Coulter – she conveys coldness very well. It seems at this stage that there is not going to be further film adaptations made.

The Golden Compass won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects and was nominated for Best Achievement in Art Direction.


Margot at the Wedding (2007) Film Review


I recently have been very annoyed with the number of films that go for ninety-plus minutes and have very little happen. I felt as though this was a recent phenomenon, very much present at this year’s MIFF – until I saw Margot at the Wedding. There are a lot of quite big reveals in this film, but there is a sense of nothing much actually happening.

Margot (Nicole Kidman) takes her son, Claude(Zane Pais), to visit her estranged sister, Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is about to get married. Meeting the fiancé, Malcolm (Jack Black) an unemployed musician/writer/artist, Margot feels that she cannot remain quiet about the huge mistake she believes is about to happen.

It’s one of those films where not only does it feel like only a little happens, but the characters are all incredibly annoying. They constantly say stuff to each other that is rude or overly personal or just plain cruel. No-one cares about each others’ feeling, and everyone is out for their own gain.  I would be happy to reach the end of my life without ever spending time with people such as these. I think I’d also be happy enough not watching  them.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) Film Review


Dr William Harford (Tom Cruise) is highly respected in New York, has a beautiful wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman) and a rarely seen child. But when, stoned, she over-reacts to his comments and then admits that she was once attracted to someone else, his life goes off the rails. He stumbles into a world of sexuality and intrigue, culminating in sneaking in to a massive, mysterious sex-party/weirdo cult event. After being discovered, he tries to find out more but realises that his life and his family may be in danger.

I recall seeing this at the cinema back when it was first released. It was exciting – a new Kubrick, with the golden couple that was our Nic and her superstar husband, Tom. Even those who perhaps didn’t really love Tom or Nic could surely get something out of a Kubrick masterpiece? All I remembered prior to this viewing was a lot of nude women and men in masks and cloaks, and a very annoying sound track consisting of two notes on a piano. And hating it, thinking it was terrible and a waste of time. Sometimes, it is not worth revisiting bad films.

There was so little to enjoy about this film. The writing was awful; the conversations stilted and unrealistic, the sense of danger came from nowhere. I did not believe any of the characters would behave as they did. What’s more, I couldn’t understand why, if William was so keen on discovering more, he would suddenly stop looking when he did. The acting was terrible, especially Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of drunken and/or stoned sexuality that was almost painful to watch. The film runs for 159 minutes, and I think about at least half of that were long, static shots of people’s faces as they barely react to things. Kubrick was wonderful, but obviously, not always.

Rabbit Hole (2010) Film Review


A husband and wife are in mourning months after their young child was killed in a car accident. This slow-moving character piece explores their grief and how they struggle to find a way through it.

It felt like it needed more. More plot, or more emotional connection, or something. This, perhaps, is exactly what the director intended. It is a film about how the inertia of grief has frozen them in their lives, and they cannot move any way. The big problem for me is that there were a lot of scenes that were clearly meant to be emotional scenes. Lots of staring into the middle distance and crying – but I felt nothing. I just didn’t connect with the characters. Was it the acting? Perhaps.

I always used to defend Nicole Kidman. For years, I’d tell people that she was a much better actor than they thought. But, I’ve really had to come to the conclusion that just because she is Australian, that doesn’t mean that she’s good at what she does. I mean, we’ve got Rachel Giffiths and Toni Collette, not every Australian actress is going to be brilliant.  I still think Nicole was pretty good in To Die For, and on the second watching, when I got past the prosthetic nose, I didn’t mind her in the hours. But generally, whenever I see her in a film, I just see Nicole Kidman playing some other character. I still have hope for our Nic. Not sure if it is misplaced or not.

There was little connection between Nicole Kidman’s character, Becca, and he husband, Howie, played by Aaron Eckart. Whilst this seemed really in line with the disconnection between them caused by their grief, I found it really hard to believe that there was ever a connection between them. There was no chemistry, not even that familiarity of a long-term relationship.