Thursday, 28 July 2011

My Last Summer by Kerem Mermutlu

My Last Summer is about an 18 year old Taiwanese girl who works in a cafe at the airport. She sees people flying away every day and secretly wants to be one of them. She wants to fly away to Hollywood and become an actress. This is the story of her last summer in Taiwan as she works to earn enough to book her flight and go...

For a young adult book, this deals with a lot of very adult themes - namely sex, relationships, intoxicating escapism and family divides. The inexperience and naivety of our heroine is made all the more tangible by the fact that she is not a native English speaker. Her manner of speaking is very "correct", never colloquial and in doing so she grabs the reader and pulls them head first into her world to see life from her perspective. As she takes you along, see her first love and her constant battle between making herself or her family happy. Watch as she starts to learn that there are many sides to people and just as people can let you down, they also have the ability to make your life better.


Our heroine is also adorably weird. She passes the time at work by seeing how long she can remain silent and then tries to break her own record - and yet she finds her hi-fiving work pal and the boy at the book store strange...


Mermetlu's writing style is very unique and with incredibly short chapters it jumps a lot but somehow manages to flow really well. The characters have no names, simply referred to as father, brother, the girl who also wants to be an actress but only on T.V. and the boy from the bookstore. They are all identified by what they do and what relationship they have to her.


The one thing I will see is that the writing style may be difficult for some to get into. This is by no stretch a negative on the book, simply an acknowledgement that it might not be everyone's cup of tea. But if you like books that push boundaries, try new things and experiment with style then you absolutely must try this one. Plus, for those who don't have the patience for big chunky books, this is nice and short! :)


4/5 FOBLES


Kerem can be found on twitter and the book is available as an ebook now.
Click here to check out the interview with the author himself.


Enjoy xx

Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses is the story of three guys who are so unhappy with their bosses, and don't feel like they can quit their jobs, that they decide to off them. What they don't realise is that life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans and as they try to come up with the best way to achieve their goal, their plans go slightly awry. 

The three guys are not the important part of this film though - it is the bosses who steal the show. Jennifer Aniston plays Julia, the sex crazed man-eater, Kevin Spacey plays Dave Harken, the psycho and Colin Farrell (not remotely attractive thanks to some hair and make-up magic!) plays Bobby, the coke-head "tool". Harken clearly is slightly unhinged, Julia will get her man even if she has to resort to blackmail and when Bobby tells his guy to "trim the fat" he literally means fire the fat people.


With brilliant and all-too-minor cameos from Donald Sutherland and Jamie Foxx, the men's attempts to rid themselves of these evil bosses go from bad to worse in what is a surprising and hilarious plot. I had absolutely no clue what was going to happen in the next scene, let alone the end of the film.  The whole cinema was laughing out loud (often embarrassingly so).

Sadly, it's a little too like The Hangover which makes it look like its not as cool cousin but still very worth a watch.

Enjoy xxx

3/5 FOBLES

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Driving Lessons

I will admit to getting this out simply because it had Rupert Grint in it with his Harry Potter mum Julie Walters. I was pleasantly surprised to see it's actually a very good film! With a supporting cast including Laura Linney (with British accent), Nicholas Farrell and Tamsin Egerton, Driving Lessons is the story of 17 year old Ben (played by Grint) as he struggles to balance a bizarre homelife with a new summer job as assistant to retired actress Evie (Walters). He has just failed his driving test and mum Laura (Linney) insists on teaching him herself. He is also a tortured poet of sorts and the girl he likes thinks he's a little odd to say the least.


The family are strictly Christian (the dad is a priest) and every other line is about Jesus and God which is a little jarring when you learn that the mother is - by any stretch of the imagination - a total bitch! Of course, goody-two-shoes Ben is a little taken aback by the foul-mouthed Evie but the two soon become unlikely friends and go on adventures together.

It's a heart-warming tale about growing up and becoming your own person, done with sensitivity and bucket loads of humour. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Favourite line has to go to Grint after his first time with a lovely Scottish lady as he leaves saying "Thanks for having me". I was close to tears I was laughing so hard.

I will say that for a die hard Harry Potter fan, the opening twenty minutes or so were a little weird given that I am used to seeing these two leads as mother and son but all is soon forgotten as you fall into the plot and get taken along for the ride.

A lovely and very funny heart-warming tale of friendship and trusting in who you are.

4/5 FOBLES

Thursday, 21 July 2011

My dream fictitious dinner party

Ever had the discussion about who would be at your dream dinner party - alive or dead? People's lists normally include all sorts of people from Lady Gaga to JFK ... but what if you could have a dinner party with your favourite fictitious characters from book or film? Who would you invite? Here is my selection for a dream dinner party...

My dream list of guests is as follows:
Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Ron Burgundy (Anchorman)








Ron Weasley (Harry Potter)


Jacob Black (Twilight Saga)



 

The Doctor (in the form of David Tennant please!)










Aragorn (Lord of the Rings)










Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice)

Vianne Rocher (Chocolat)










Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Some Like it Hot)










Princess Leia (Star Wars)










Yvaine (Stardust)









Lisa Simpson (The Simpsons)
 










Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)






At the start of the night (in the drinking, pre-eating stage of the evening) Scout would be allowed to stay up with her dad to meet the guests and would have her friend Lisa Simpson to talk to once when had been sent upstairs to bed (wouldn’t they just have the best chats ever!)

Friendships that might begin over the first course: Atticus Finch and Elizabeth Bennett. I imagine, as they are both moral but quietly daring for their times, they would get on really well. I can also see Ron Weasley and Jacob Black getting on… that is, unless Jacob sees Ron as one of the pale faces. Yvaine and Princess Leia could talk out of world experiences with the Doctor and compare notes on which planet is the most interesting – or amusing to watch. Ron Burgundy would probably want to “be on” Sugar, and she might just go for it (fuzzy end of the lollipop in that moustache) – unless Aragorn steps in to be her knight in shining armour.  And the lovely Vianne, who would no doubt get along with everybody, would bring us the most delectable assortment of treats for dessert.

And as for me? I would be chatting to Elizabeth Bennett and Yvaine as much as I could, having heated debates over moral issues with Atticus and Aragorn and drooling over David Tennant’s Doctor, wishing he would transport me to somewhere really cool. Sugar and Ron Burgundy would be making me laugh all evening and I could spend hours listening to Vianne talk about chocolate. I would be a little overly friendly with Jacob Black and get him to hug me (shirt optional). I would ask Ron W about how his family are doing and get him to teach me a few spells.

And though I would love to see them in the flesh I opted out of inviting the rugged and oh so sexy Mr Rochester and Mr Darcy because let’s face it – they’d make horrible dinner party guests. Rochester would be snapping at people and making them feel awkward and Darcy would just be brooding off in a corner, staring at Elizabeth.

So who would be at your dream dinner party and why....?

LE xxx

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Top 10 film insults

Ever watch a film and wish you had the courage to insult the way they do? It always seems more poetic and witty or just hilariously vulgar. Here are ten to make you wince ... or laugh, depending on your mood:

10. Sex and the City
I curse the day you were born.

Charlotte plots what she would say if she saw Mr Big again after what he did to best friend Carrie. Then, while heavily pregnant and eating alone, she gets her chance. It would have had a lot more clout if she didn't then go into labour and need his help to get to the hospital. Funny.

9. Scary Movie
Shorty: Yo mother!
Brenda: You my brother, that's your mother too, jackass.
Shorty: Oh yeah..well, then your father's stupid! Ha ha ha.
Brenda: So? I don't know him.

Possibly the best comeback to a "yo mother" insult ever uttered.

8. Anchorman
You are a smelly pirate hooker. Why don't you go back to your home on whore island?


Up there with the best of them, Anchorman has some of the greatest one-liners ever uttered in cinema. This is just one of the many insults Ron Burgundy throws at his co-anchor Veronica Corningstone.

7. Saving Private Ryan
I mean, picture a girl who just took a nosedive from the ugly tree and hit every branch coming down.

Matt Damon really knows how to paint a picture when he tells a story.

6. Much Ado About Nothing
Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such a face as yours were.

If you want insults that pack a wordy punch, you can't beat a bit of Shakespeare for pure class.

5. Clueless
You're a virgin who can't drive.

Brittany Murphy keeping it to the point.

4. Parenthood
Well, I thought someone in this house ought to be having sex - I mean with something that doesn't require batteries.

Has there ever been a meaner insult to someone's mum on screen? She follows it up saying that she should go before she says anything she'll regret... it gets worse?

3. A Fish Called Wanda
You pompous stuck up snot nosed English giant twirp scum bag f**k face dickhead asshole.

Kevin Kline plays the stereotypical arrogant American perfectly.

2. Battle Royale
You ugly shrimpy nit!

This one may have lost something in translation but it remains one of the funniest insults I've ever heard as our heroine is hiding from the school bullies in the toilet and gets this classic thrown at her.

1. Monty Python's The Holy Grail
I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries.


Has there ever been a funnier, more bizarre insult than this? The french taunting scene is one of the funniest scenes in cinema history and goes on and on and on...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: Book vs Film

SPOILER ALERT please only read this if you have read the book and know the plot (or don't mind being told it!).

OK firstly I am stunned that JK Rowling actually put her name to this one with a producer credit. It's quite possibly the worst book to film conversion of the entire series. I was delighted when they decided to make it into two films as there simply is just too much in book 7 to cram into one film. There's no way they could have done it justice. And Part 1 really did well in setting the scene for Part 2. It had a much slower pace but so does the book and it's all necessary in the build up to the big dramatic finale. It's such a shame then that the finale had very little drama.

All the best bits from the book are dropped, changed or trivialised. The deaths of important characters are brushed over so quickly you barely have time to be upset for them before moving on to the next scene. Personal favourites for me - and no doubt many other fans of the books - were Mamma Weasley getting her girl on girl fight on with Bellatrix (something that in the film had no build-up to and was over in a heartbeat) and THE kiss. I hasten to add it wasn't the romance that I loved of that particular kiss but the brilliantly funny dialogue that accompanied it. Harry is there with them, Ron is worried about the elves and the two boys fight over whether now is the most opportune moment to be having a quick snog. BRILLIANT! In the film, it's a quick kiss on their own and on ya go with the fight please, thanks. Even the epilogue failed to mention Neville or even include little Lupin so brilliantly mirrored in the book by the youthful Harry. Most of the very short section was totally dropped and turned into schmaltzy nostalgia.

Altfg
Of course there are great bits too. Hermione as Bellatrix was actually very funny, especially when she says good morning to somebody in her normal voice. Also, the spectacle of it all is amazing. One part in particular sees the three running through the chaos and being met at every turn by some kind of enemy. The battle sequences are all about brilliant effects, wands at the ready. But in that lies the biggest problem of the film - they have gone with spectacle over plot. Those who haven't read the book would be totally lost I'm sure as none of it really gets explained. And for those who have read the book it is a mystery why, when such massive chunks of plot are left out, they have added so much that never existed to begin with. There is a whole new fight sequence between Voldermort and Harry that lasts ages and the whole section where Ron and Hermione disappear off to destroy the horcrux in the chamber of secrets is expanded.

What the makers of this film seem to have not realised is that the spectacle is only as good as the characters taking part. If you aren't allowed time to care then the fights just don't matter and you may as well be watching Transformers. People have grown up with these characters and seen them grow and they needed a proper and fitting send off.

The famous "I open at the close" scene is incredibly moving but rather lacking of company (weren't there loads of people in the book?) Radcliffe manages to pull that whole section off really well, I thought, given the severity of it all.

Also, for younger fans there is one particular death that was so nasty it had me cringing and looking away and I don't normally scare that easy. Man I hate that snake.
The one thing I can't decide is whether I would have enjoyed it more if i hadn't read the book. I really couldn't tell you. You can't unknow something and look at it that impartially. So would I see it again? Well yes actually I already have tickets to see it on Friday - perhaps it will be better in 3D? And fans of the book will of course want to see it regardless just to see more of their beloved characters on the big screen. Would I rush - hell no. Wait till it's Orange wednesday and you might feel a little less cheated.

2.5/5 FOBLES

If you're as much of a fan of the books as I am check out my blog on why they are perfect literature here. LE xx

Harry Potter: The Half-Blood Prince (Book vs. Film)

The sixth book in the series sees Harry really become Dumbledore's protegĂ©. Dumbledore has clearly decided that Harry is no longer a boy and is now a man (or close enough) and starts to tell him more than he has previously. He tells him about Tom Riddle as a boy and passes on all the information he can to help him in the inevitable quest (AKA the giant elephant in the room) and starts to take him out of school on trips. Harry is also shown more of Dumbledore's memories of Tom as a child who in turn becomes more human. As the book continues, different elements of his youth are uncovered and really help Harry to better understand his nemesis. He also explains that parts of Voldemort's soul are hidden in objects and they start their search to destroy them.

Harry must also spend a lot of his free time (which is just eaten up by all his extra-curricular activities!) hanging out with his favourite teacher - Snape. Snape has been assigned the fun task of teaching Harry how to keep Voldemort out of his head, something that is now becoming far more than just the odd vision and dangerous.

Meanwhile, in the classroom Harry manages to get his hands on a ridiculously old and shabby looking text book in his potions class which he soon learns is a blessing in disguise as it has very helpful notes in the margins. Of course, Hermione morally objects and Ron just wants to copy. But the mystery remains - who does the book belong to? Who is the Half-Blood Prince?

With the book, Harry manages to go straight to the top of the class, greatly impressing new teacher Professor Slughorn - a teacher who is quite proud of his list of promising and well connected students he has taught over the years. Dumbledore gets Harry to befriend him in order to uncover a memory Slughorn is so ashamed of that he has even warped it in his own mind... but what could he be hiding? What did he tell his star pupil Tom Riddle all those years ago...?

Book 6 is made great by one of the most dramatic cliffhanger endings in the entire series. The biggest shock awaits the reader as one of the major characters is killed off and the book is left hanging, not knowing what is going to happen next...

The film was largely a good conversion and focused so much on the genius of Alan Rickman as Snape that you forgot that hardly anybody else gets much screen time. HBP also sees the introduction of the brilliantly weird and oddly cuddly Jim Broadbent as Prof Slughorn who pulls off the role perfectly. He manages to be the perfectly flawed character that JK Rowling created, who has been led astray by the glory of fame and success as so many good and decent people have been.

One of Dumbledore and Harry's trips is also fantastically dark and done so well that the end result is chilling and gripping throughout as dark, scary creatures come out of the water and after the pair. It also sees the transition as student becomes the equal to his teacher.

Then you get to the ending which was changed unnecessarily and greatly angered me. I have said before that I don't mind changes when they make sense but this one doesn't. The death scene in the book sees Harry thrown against a wall against his will, silenced with magic and covered with his invisibility cloak. He cannot move a muscle and cannot speak but he must witness the scene as it unfolds. The horror of that was gripping and you really felt him trying to leap out of his invisible prison to save the day. In the film, they had him hide out of sight. The Harry Potter we all know and love would not have stood by and done nothing, no matter what the danger to himself, unless he absolutely had no choice. It just didn't make sense and made the entire scene much less shocking. The frustrating part though is that it saved nothing in time and would possibly have worked even better on the big screen than in the book. The said death just didn't get the drama it needed.

That said, the final scene immediately after it did tug at the heart strings and was a very moving and fitting tribute.

Check out Harry Potter 7: The Deathly Hallows - Part 1 and Part 2

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

The plot makes absolutely no sense, the film goes on for 3 hours, Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley (AKA Megan Fox Part Deux) cannot act (but damn can she pout and strut). Yes you've guessed it folks - I loved it! Well come on I wasn't exactly expecting witty dialogue and Oscar winning performances. The only times I got even close to emotional was when Bumblebee was in danger coz let's face it - he's the best character in the whole Transformers saga.

I'd try to explain the plot but believe me there's very little point. Some of our favourite humans and transformers are back (basically everyone BUT Megan Fox) for more action but this time they are joined by some new faces... the always brilliant Frances McDormand is on top form as always and McDreamy himself Patrick Dempsey playing, well let's face it - a bit of a doosh! Who knew? (Please ladies, you still would!)

Oh and if Sam's mum and dad and their crazy, massive beast of an RV aren't comedy value enough for you then at least you have RHW's perfectly clean white jacket that seems to repel dirt throughout the battle sequences. Come on guys, even Megan Fox got dirty. Yeah, so dirty is Megan that friends of mine came up with a dirtier version to the classic "That's what she said" game to "That's what Megan Fox said". I doubt RHW has even heard of it. Not only does the jacket remain perfectly white and crisp - even after she's thrown around a collapsing building like a barbie doll -  but her face and hair and that perfectly glossed mouth remain ready for a poolside photoshoot at a moment's notice. Though many have dubbed her as being a Megan Fox clone, after a while we thought perhaps it was Zoolander she modelled her facial expressions on...
Picture Courtesy of Collider

"Why do the decepticons always get the good shit" Tyrese Gibson yells as a hole digging mammoth of a Decepticon is tunneling its way through their building - well they dont have the washing detergent RHW uses so they dont have everything!
  
While the effects used to create the transforming Autobots and Decepticons were as amazing as always, bizarrely the opening section of the film fell flat as it used fancy effects to have fictional conversations with now deceased presidents. Come on now - if Forrest Gump can do it, it shouldn't be that hard!

Definitely one to add to the so bad they're actually quite good pile...

3/5 FOBLES it may be bad but it does what it sets out to do so damn well :)

Enjoy! xxx (if you like that sort of thing)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix - Film vs. Book

When The Goblet of Fire ended, readers were horrified to witness the return of Lord Voldermort. But in The Order of the Phoenix, we learn that not everyone is convinced Harry Potter does not tell lies. The Minister of Magic is convinced that it is all a fabricated plot by Dumbledore to take over the Ministry and Harry Potter is his pawn. But there is a prophecy about the boy who lived and Harry wants answers. But Voldermort is after the same thing and it's a race to see who will get there first.


Harry's cousin Dudley this time falls foul of a couple of rogue dementors as the two of them are near the house and Harry is forced to break the underage wizarding law and use magic to get rid of them to save not just himself but also his cousin (who in this book has turned into a bit of a rude boy and started picking on ten year olds bless). Harry's patronus does not go unnoticed of course and he is called up for his illegal act by the ministry who are convinced that this was not a self defence act but an act in support of Dumbledore.


In an attempt to keep a watchful eye over Hogwarts, the Ministry have sent over Dolores Umbridge to teach the Defence Against the Dark Arts class. But when it comes to lesson plans, Umbridge believes in the theory, not the practice of dark magic and has the class writing passage after passage. Though this of course does not sit well with those students who believe Voldemort has returned, it seems to always be Harry who has something to say and is punished for his disobedience using a nasty spell by the eerily polite yet totally evil teacher. Clearly she doesn't mind using dark magic, it's just teaching it she has issues with.


The most fun happens when Hermione takes charge (as Hermione always does) and organises an elite group of classmates who want to learn the practical side of defence under the tutelage of Harry himself. And then suddenly Neville shines, Cho and Harry get closer to their infamous first kiss and the group really start to form their own little private army ready to face Voldermort and the deatheaters. There's real fun and humour thanks to the new lesson and seeing Hermione realise that sometimes it's worth going against the rules is just delightfully naughty.


The Order of the Phoenix has one of my favourite endings (surpassed only by the ultimate Deathly Hallows ending) as the mini army of Harry and his friends face the deatheaters. The Order itself, comprised of the Weasleys, Lupin, Sirius, Snape and more new faces join in and a massive fight ensues.


This was the first book I have ever read where I was so shocked, so totally stunned by an event, that I actually turned the page back for fear I had misread it. Sadly, I had read it correctly.


In the film version, Imelda Staunton was beautifully cast as Dolores Umbridge. She has such a cute and cuddly persona and encapsulates the cat loving, pink cardigan wearing Umbridge beautifully while managing to show real menace behind her perfect smile. The film also saw the deatheaters start having things to say. So far we have only really seen Lucius Malfoy as a character but suddenly we are learning more about some of the others. Helena Bonham Carter was born to play Bellatrix Lestrange. Nobody else could possibly be that manic and silly and still scare you to your very core! Voldermort finally gets some real screen time himself and shines as Ralph Fiennes takes on the role of he-who-shall-not-be-named so creepily.


The real downside to the film is that massive amounts of the book got lost in the conversion. The big build up to the finale and the fight itself was trimmed down to its bare essentials, losing the suspense needed to make the end so jaw-dropping. It all just came off a bit rushed and panicked.

Favourite Quote:
Ron: Hermione, you are honestly the most wonderful person I have ever met. If I'm ever rude to you...
Hermione: I'll know you've gone back to normal.

The effects are cool, though, and there's more spells and wizadry to enjoy throughout. The three main actors have really come into their own now and have both the comic timing and serious drama down. More importantly though, they are able to lead the ever-growing ensemble cast. It's really become a team effort in Order of the Phoenix and everyone is holding their own.


All in all, nobody was ever going to get all the subtleties and character development of such a chunky and intricate book into a 2 hour film but they gave it a pretty good bash.


Friday, 1 July 2011

Bridesmaids

Not to sound like an 80s film producer but this film somehow manages to be Hangover Part 1 meets Steel Magnolias. A hilarious ride from start to finish, Bridesmaids sees the poor single Annie enlisted to be maid of honour to old friend and best pal Lillian. And of course, all manner of chaos ensues. But this is not your average gross out American Pie style comedy where it's all about the jokes and only slightly about the characters. Each character is explored in great depth making it a surprisingly emotional but always funny look at a bunch of misfit women that make up Lillian's bridal party in the lead up to the big day.


The genius of Kristen Wiig's writing (yes she wrote it and starred in it) is that you really like Annie even though she is, lets face it, a total downer! This is not your average moany female lead complaining that life is hard because she's single and her friends are married - life has dealt her a reaaaally shitty hand of late and you can understand her total reluctance to walk around with a big smile on her face. Business has gone bust, money's gone, boyfriend's dumped you. And all at once, poor love.

And when Annie realises that she has competition for the one certain thing in her life - best friend Lillian (in the form of goddess Rose Byrne) - it all starts to get just a bit much. Their microphone battle at the engagement party became so cringeworthy I found myself unable to look.

But the film, though clearly aimed at women, is not your average chick flick. Its humour and issues are universal and it gets incredibly gross at points (a bout of food poisoning while the ladies enjoy a dress fitting ends in shockingly hilarious results).

And though it has a couple of cases of arsehole males there is light relief in the form of IT Crowds' Chris O'Dowd, playing Officer Rhodes. He is adorable and the little pick me up our heroine needs but she is not perfect herself (as she readily acknowledges) and buckles under the pressure of a nice guy.

The rest of the brides party are comprised of the grooms manish sister (also known as Sookie from Gilmore Girls), the cousin with the children who hates being a mother and the cute and bubbly newlywed. And with such a mixed bunch of women, decisions as to what to do for the wedding shower and bachelorette party vary from french theme to fight club.

All the pent up tension between the ladies is bound to erupt eventually and when it does... watch out!



You will laugh, you will cry (whether through laughter or through sadness depends on the person but tears will be shed!) and you will leave in the knowledge that the bar has been raised for future contenders.

5/5 FOBLES - absolutely perfect!

Enjoy xxx