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Sue "Sue" (Cyprus)

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A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
by Donald Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Editing his story, 17 May 2014
This is the story of what happens when two film-makers want to make a movie about Donald Miller’s life. He learns – and explains, with anecdotes – about the ways film characters vary from real life, and in doing so explores some of his own hang-ups and longings.

He learns, too, about living a story.. and finds himself on a physically painful long bike-ride to raise money for charity, and an emotionally difficult journey trying to find out about the father he never knew. Written in his apparently random way, this is highly readable, often moving, frequently thought-provoking, and definitely recommended.

Mystic Pizza [DVD] [1990]
Mystic Pizza [DVD] [1990]
Dvd ~ Annabeth Gish
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: 4.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Light and enjoyable... rather like pizza, 17 May 2014
This review is from: Mystic Pizza [DVD] [1990] (DVD)
It’s the 1980s, and Jojo (Lili Taylor) has cold feet during her wedding, calling it off. She and her two friends Daisy (Julia Roberts) and Kat (Annabeth Gish) – sisters, but very different – work at the pizza parlour in a small town called Mystic in the USA. Daisy is wild and sexy, Kat is sensible and sweet… and during the course of the film, all three girls find themselves wondering about the future of relationships they’re in.

There’s not really a whole lot of plot, and its’ all rather predictable, but nicely done, with some amusing moments, and great rapport between the three friends. Not too deep, but enjoyable while it lasts; good for a Saturday evening in. Just like pizza, really.

Steel Magnolias [DVD] [1990]
Steel Magnolias [DVD] [1990]
Dvd ~ Shirley MacLaine
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 3.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Moving, 17 May 2014
This review is from: Steel Magnolias [DVD] [1990] (DVD)
This film is about six rather different women in the US South, who live in the same neighbourhood and regularly see each other at the beauty parlour, whose owner is very well played by Dolly Parton. All the women have slightly odd names, the least unusual being Shelby (played by Julia Roberts). Shelby is preparing to be married in the first part of the story, with her household in an uproar.. and it’s not long before we learn that she’s diabetic.

The blurb says that this is the ‘funniest movie ever to make you cry’. Serious hyperbole there since I neither laughed nor cried. It’s undoubtedly moving, and the characters (once I had got used to the strong accents) likeable. There were a few amusing moments, and a tragedy which I should probably have foreseen, but which I didn’t quite believe would happen in the context of a fairly light mildly humorous film.

Still, it works well; the interactions between the women are mostly believable, and the story thought-provoking. I felt quite involved with the story and the people and was sorry when it ended.

On Golden Pond [DVD]
On Golden Pond [DVD]
Dvd ~ Henry Fonda
Offered by Helen's Goodies
Price: 6.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, romantic, gentle, 17 May 2014
This review is from: On Golden Pond [DVD] (DVD)
Norman and Ethel are an elderly couple who spend their summers on Golden Pond. Norman (Henry Fonda) is a crusty old guy with a terrific low-key sense of humour, and Ethel (Katharine Hepburn) is his wife: sometimes long-suffering, sometimes deeply loving.

Their daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda) comes to visit them with her fiancé Bill, and his thirteen-year-old son Billy, after quite a long estrangement. Chelsea and Norman have never managed to communicate to each other that they care, and Billy is rebellious…

There's not a huge amount of action, just one summer that passes slowly with fishing, and calling loons on the lake. We thought this was very moving at times; it explores the depth of relationships in an elderly couple, the problems of dysfunctional families, and the special friendship that can develop between a teenager and a grandfather figure.

Totally delightful.

Bridget Jones's Diary [DVD]
Bridget Jones's Diary [DVD]
Price: 3.96

3.0 out of 5 stars Three-and-a-half stars really, 17 May 2014
This review is from: Bridget Jones's Diary [DVD] (DVD)
This film is based on a novel, which I haven’t read, and which – supposedly – takes its storyline from ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

There’s a nice irony in that Colin Firth, who played Mr Darcy in the BBC series of Jane Austen’s classic, plays Mark Darcy in this film; Hugh Grant, who also stars as the office Casanova, is rather more appealing. The heroine, Bridget, bears little relation to any of the Bennet girls although her mother is quite as ghastly as Mrs Bennet.

It’s nicely done, and there are one or two amusing moments but it’s not the hilarious comedy some reviewers suggest. Grant and Firth are both excellent, and make it worth watching; but I found the smoking and excessive bad language very off-putting. Without them, it could probably have been rated 12 rather than 15.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? [DVD]
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? [DVD]
Dvd ~ Spencer Tracy
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: 24.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, albeit rather dated, 17 May 2014
Apparently this was a landmark film, made in 1967. Joanna, a young white woman, falls deeply in love with John, an intelligent, much-sought-after doctor. John also happens to be black. This was pretty much unheard of in the USA in the 1960s, when – although it’s hard to imagine, from our more enlightened times – it was illegal in several states for ‘mixed race’ marriages.

However, Joanna is confident that her parents, who have brought her up to be liberal minded about race, will be delighted for them. John is less certain about his parents. Nobody expects the extremely negative reaction from Tilly, Joey’s family’s much-loved cook and housemaid, who is also black. And all the parents have to battle their initial shock.

The feel of the film was rather ‘1950s’ – I was surprised it was made as late as it was, not just due to the content. There were some very fake-looking scenes supposedly featuring sunsets or other outdoor views, which were nothing of the sort. Still, the acting was good, the script excellent (given its vintage), and I felt totally involved in the film and characters all the way through.

Even though the particular subject-matter is now out of date, it’s a fascinating look about how we deal with prejudice of any kind, and how difficult it can be to reconcile our theoretical beliefs with an actual situation involving someone we love.

Definitely recommended. Four and a half stars, really.

The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree)
The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree)
by Enid Blyton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Childhood favourite, ideal read-aloud, 17 May 2014
Jo, Bessie and Fanny are three children from a fairly poor family who move to the country with their parents, and discover the magical Faraway Tree with its unusual inhabitants, and a variety of strange lands at the top of the tree. Each story takes place over about four or five chapters, and has some suspense, but not much.

This was one of my very favourite childhood books when I was about six. I re-read it in my teens. I read it to my sons when they were small. Just recently, I read it aloud to a five-year-old friend.

The plots are nicely done, the characterisation less so, but perhaps that doesn’t matter too much in a plot-driven book. The adventures are certainly unusual, and if some of the language seems remarkably old-fashioned, that’s not really surprising for a seventy-year-old book.

Just about everyone my age who loves reading as an adult started out on Enid Blyton, so I hope her books remain in print for many years to come.

Runaway Bride [DVD] [1999]
Runaway Bride [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Julia Roberts
Price: 6.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely done rom-com, 17 May 2014
This review is from: Runaway Bride [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
A reporter hears about a young woman who has apparently run away, at the last minute, from several weddings. He writes an article based on what he’s heard… and his paper receives an angry rebuttal from Maggie, the young woman in question. Ike decides to investigate further…

The style is ‘rom-com’, with a fairly predictable ending, but it’s nicely done. Julia Roberts as Maggie is excellent, as is Richard Gere as the reporter Ike. Maggie’s fear of commitment is perhaps overdone, and her previous boyfriends are rather caricatured – but still, some amusing moments, plenty of action, and an enjoyable film overall that doesn’t require much brainpower.

Falling In Love [1984] [DVD]
Falling In Love [1984] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert De Niro
Offered by e-katastima
Price: 19.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Great production, unfortunate storyline, 16 May 2014
This review is from: Falling In Love [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
Meryl Streep, as always, is excellent in this film. And it’s nicely made, with Robert de Niro providing a good foil for her. We soon realised it’s quite old, as films go – the lack of mobile phones, and the presence of old-fashioned dials on house phones rather gave it away. It was in fact made in 1984.

However the subject-matter is all too modern. Frank and Molly bump into each other in a bookshop, while Christmas shopping. Each is happily married to someone else – and although a predictable switch of parcels happens, they might not have met again but for the coincidence of being on the same train.

A friendship starts… and escalates far too quickly, each convinced they have found their soul-mate. I didn’t like the message conveyed – that the promises of marriage can be thrown aside, even when the marriages are, basically, pretty good.

Still, it was reasonably entertaining, very well done, and even mildly amusing in places. Five stars for the production, three – or a little less - for the storyline. Four overall.

Ballet Shoes (BBC) [DVD]
Ballet Shoes (BBC) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emma Watson
Price: 7.30

4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely done, 16 May 2014
This review is from: Ballet Shoes (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
I always loved the book ‘Ballet Shoes’ by Noel Streatfeild, so wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from a made-for-TV film of less than 90 minutes . The story is about three adopted sisters who are determined to make their mark on the world: Pauline as an actress, Petrova as a pilot, and Posy as a dancer. Emma Watson (best known as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies) plays Pauline, the eldest of the Fossil children. There were other well-known faces in this film, including Victoria Wood who wasn’t entirely convincing as Nana.

Although, inevitably, a fair amount of the book was condensed or cut out, the storyline mostly stuck to what’s in the book; the three sisters were very good, with Posy outstanding as a promising ballet dancer. I wasn’t too impressed at a light romance being thrown in at the end – decidedly NOT in the book! – but that kind of thing appears to be compulsory, even in children’s films these days.

Still, worth watching for a light evening’s entertainment. The sets and atmosphere of London in the 1940s were very realistic.

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