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Eric Anderson (London, United Kingdom)
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Mission : Impossible 2 [2000] [DVD]
Mission : Impossible 2 [2000] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Cruise
Price: £2.18

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mission to Make a Blockbuster, 14 Nov 2002
If you're looking for great action and...effects this film does it all. If you're looking for a deep plot and expect to be emotionally involved don't bother. I was entertained and that is sufficient for me for this type of film. But what I found really fascinating was the way in which an old Hitchcock plot was reworked in the script. It used many of the same plot points of my favorite Hitchcock film 'Notorious'. A woman of questionable moral standards is sent in a top-secret mission to use her charms with a criminal who happens to be an old intimate acquaintance. There is a car chase together to heighten the...tension between the government agent and the saucy heroine. There is a poignant scene at the racetrack. The woman falls ill by the villains hand and the hero must save her thus sealing their love. How interesting that Tom should be the new Cary Grant, but I guess it was inevitable.


Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant
Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant
by Anne Tyler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Center of the Family, 14 Nov 2002
This is a delicate loving piece of fiction. What is harder in life than to try to understand the perspective of the other people in our family? Anne Tyler gives us an intimate look at each of the family member's thoughts and from this we draw a large picture of a complex set of family relations. Where else does a family join together but the dinner table? It is a spot of joyous reunions and a catalyst for causing severe fractures, but it is a place where every person in the family ultimately returns. By placing this at the center of her tale she is able to jump of on all the character's many stories. This novel makes you reconsider the point of view of people in your family you might have given up on. Your sympathy always goes with Ezra, forever trying to hold the family together. But you also learn to see the perspective of the other members through hearing small poignant details of their lives from Pearl's apple apple apple to the devastating reunion and confrontation with the missing father at the end. Their actions aren't just quirky details, but strong philosophies by which they live and rich points of difference that cause friction in their relations. This is handled with tremendous sympathy and understanding by the author. Anyone who has had strained relations with members of their family will be able to relate to this book and be wildly entertained by its twists and turns.


The Pillow Book [DVD] [1996]
The Pillow Book [DVD] [1996]
Dvd ~ Vivian Wu
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: £14.94

45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Finely Created Work of Art, 14 Nov 2002
This review is from: The Pillow Book [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
I happen to be a great admirer of the controversial Mr Greenaway. I think his direction in film is bold and produces powerful results. The Pillow Book is a great example of this talent. It is an amazing combination of his narrative technique, experimental explorations and talent for finding compelling stories. The images are beautiful, especially the shot of Vivian Wu standing in the rain covered with writing on her flesh which slowly melts away. Her character is not that complex, but the action of the story is sufficient to carry her along throughout the tale as she fights for independence and a suitable form of artistic expression. Essentially the story is about the fetishisation of books and sex. These things are enough to make a great movie in my mind. Nagiko is a girl who goes through a ritual where her father writes on her back on her birthday as he tells her of a myth. After burning her way out of a suffocating marriage, she grows up to become a radical artist writing on bodies and searching for a man who can replace her father in the birthday tradition. She meets a talented man named Jerome who she falls in love with, but is eventually sacrificed to her father's old enemy. In the course of the narrative she writes her own Pillow Book on a series of men. It culminates in a gruesome act of jealousy and revenge (a notion not foreign to Greenaway's narratives).
Some emotionally intense scenes are made particularly powerful with the screen-in-screen shots because it shows at one time the levels between thought and action, self-perception and actual action. This is a new style for Greenaway that works tremendously well in this movie because it fits so perfectly with the egotism and self-obsession of the characters involved. The movie as a whole is a powerful evocation of a great Japanese classic. I highly recommend this movie who is in the mood to watch something eccentric, visually moving and stunningly beautiful.


A Pale View of Hills
A Pale View of Hills
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Edition: Paperback

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Choosing to Tell, 14 Nov 2002
This review is from: A Pale View of Hills (Paperback)
This is an amazing first novel and it is a good introduction to Ishiguro for readers who haven't read his books before. It is so delicately told from the point of view of a woman who has survived WWII. You are given only brief personal glimpses of her life, yet those glimpses spark an enormous amount of questions revealing her to be a woman of deep complexity. You would expect her to be pondering the life of her daughter Keiko, but she spends most of her time remembering the mysterious woman Sachiko who she knew briefly in Nagasaki. Over the course of reading the novel you begin to understand that this is a way for her to process her emotions over her daughter's death. Pondering the mysteries of a woman she can never understand is preferable to admitting the responsibility for her daughter's suicide. Perhaps she contributed in some way to her death? From her obsession with Sachiko and Sachiko's daughter Mariko we understand that she is possibly drawing parallels between the girls. While this mystery looms in the background you are brought deeply into her observations of Sachiko and her story of a single woman trying to survive independently. Through the entire time Ishiguro is very careful about what is and is not given away. He is a master at telling and not telling. The selection that goes into telling has an impact on the way we interpret what is told. In this way he explores human complexities that few other writers are able to dig into. Our view of Etsuko, like our view of Nagasaki, is blurred and from this not quite clear view we understand that this Japanese woman still has a lot more to tell.


Moon Tiger
Moon Tiger
by Penelope Lively
Edition: Paperback

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where the Future Begins, 14 Nov 2002
This review is from: Moon Tiger (Paperback)
A history of the world. What's said and what's left out. The things and people that construct the world of an individual. The grand events of a civilisation are on an equal level with the detailed actions of human relations and rather than recount a life as a progression it is looked at as a mosaic, focusing on points here and there, gathering the impression of a whole life. The narration jumps between all forms of telling: 1st, 2nd and 3rd person narration recounted events through numerous viewpoints. A focused attention is required throughout the novel to keep track of who is talking and in what point of history they are at in any section. What Claudia is trying to do in this history of the world is an impossibility. She moulds languages to work for her own purposes by using it for multiple perspectives. "The power of language. Preserving the ephemeral; giving form to dreams, permanence to sparks of sunlight." The question of how to recall the past is the central issue. Rather than flow through the past as in a stream of conscious novel we're given slabs of moments pitted against each other pointing out the importance of individual emotions. Slowly throughout the novel the reader is made increasingly aware of what isn't being remembered. Claudia's relationship with Tom was on of the most emotionally turbulent times of her life, one she is uncertain of how to recount which is why she avoided writing about Egypt for so long. But once she has recalled it she can begin to leave the past behind and what begins is the future.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2011 11:36 AM BST


The Enchantment of Lily Dahl
The Enchantment of Lily Dahl
by Siri Hustvedt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting the Reader, 14 Nov 2002
Like 'The Blindfold' a self consciously post-modern novel filled with empty signs and cultural observation. What I felt her central goal in this novel was to capture the human content of a typical American woman, star-eyed and given to thoughts of her image more than thoughts of her self. At first, it seems that the story might be sacrificed for these random but poignant observations, but by the end you are left with a fragmented image of a woman, cut up by the short-sightedness of society and the misogynistic nature of men. As with her prior novel, she always keeps a tight focus on her heroine, but has succeeded to a much better end a carefully plotted narrative. Like Atwood's 'The Edible Woman', the image of what the heroine sees herself to be is eaten by the woman herself, or buried in this case, in order to be redefined by the woman herself. The novel is beautifully written and an engaging read.


Watt (Picador Books)
Watt (Picador Books)
by Samuel Beckett
Edition: Paperback

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Developing Narrative Perspective, 14 Nov 2002
This review is from: Watt (Picador Books) (Paperback)
In Watt the third person narration Beckett uses shares an uncomfortable relationship to the characters of the story. It is based either on anonymity or antagonism. This is different from the common intimate relation that the narrators of fiction share with the characters they tell us about. The result of Beckett's writing technique is that the reader can get no sense of a total picture or a comprehensive truth of the character's reality. The narrator is just as curious and confused by the nature of reality in the fictional world as the characters. In the first half of ¡®Watt¡¯ the narrator shows an estrangement from Watt equal to that which Watt shows toward himself. This is not the unreliable narrator of traditional fiction, but a narrator whose ignorance is a cause of the technique of telling which seeks to provide a total viewpoint of reality. The narrator of Watt, rather than assuming the position of a narrator who is a guide through the tale, functions as an unnecessary intermediary between the characters and their search for an understanding of reality. Who else but Watt can effectively relate the experience of his being? Consider Lawrence Harvey¡¯s point in his essay on Watt, "He [Watt] becomes a storyteller, but one who by this time is so convinced of the inadequacy of ordinary language that he feels compelled to invent verbal structures that are more closely related to his experience.¡± Watt himself is dissatisfied with the way the narrator is telling the story in the first half of the novel and so tells in his own unique mode of expression his story to Sam who acts as an interpreter. This points to a growing dissatisfaction with language as a way of telling in the text and debunks the impossible power of the third person narrator.
Sam, who writes in the first person of his relationship with Watt, narrates the second half of the novel. Because Sam's subjective view isn't constrained by the obligations of the supposed all-knowing omniscient narrator, he can more effectively convey that the experience of being is unknowable and unnamable. He admits to the inefficiency of his communication with Watt because it is burdened by the hindrance of their environment and their physical inadequacy. A first person narration is limited by its partial point of view of reality, but it is this limited viewpoint that Beckett seems to be trying to convey. For all of Sam's studious attention and examination of Watt, we are left just as baffled as to who he is as the characters observing Watt at the beginning of the novel, but at least it is a view more conscious of its subjectivity than the omniscient narrator could provide. In the first half of the novel we were given descriptions of the fallibility of logic and in the second half we are given a direct account of the ways in which each solution obtained only generates multiple objections. The first person narrative¡¯s direct account thus points to a conscious subjectivity that deletes the assumptions made in omniscient narration that this view of reality is a true representation of what it actually is. However, it becomes apparent in the narrative that the fallibility of reason reveals itself to be not limited to a complication caused by the point of view in telling, but in the nature of the written language used to tell. He develops this point well in his subsequent fiction, but Watt is a fascinating look at how these different narrative perspectives work and is a rich, comic novel to read.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 6, 2009 2:25 PM BST


Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
by Jeanette Winterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Creation of Reality, 14 Nov 2002
This novel has often been criticised as Winterson's best now that she has gone on to write several powerfully experimental novels. This is implying that she should have remained in these more familiar regions of experience or stuck to a slightly more conventional mode of narrative. What's tremendous about this novel is the way it works as a perfect springboard for the kind of fiction that is being so negatively criticised for its inventiveness. This is a story about a girl who is struggling with the conventions of a restrictive Pentecostal community in a small spot of England, but it is also about the interplay between reality and fiction in people's lives. Jeanette's fables are established to be as valid as the complex religious practices of her family. The characters of the novel constantly differ to a fictional artifice to hold together the reality they cannot understand. Tension builds when the fictional worlds that people struggle to hold into place contradicts other people's realities. This novel is a tribute to the fight for independence and survival. She powerfully asserts that there is a necessary space for these fictional parts of people's realities despite the conflict it will inevitably create. She suggests that the reality built in fiction is also the truth of our own fictions accepted as reality. The interplay of these two creates a living reality.


The Longest Journey (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Longest Journey (Penguin Modern Classics)
by E. M. Forster
Edition: Paperback

5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Modernist Makes it Personal, 14 Nov 2002
The Longest Journey's suspicious form and strange conclusions were quite accurately detected by Lionel Trilling who declared this novel in comparison to Forster's others to be his least perfect, least compact, least precisely formed and, simultaneously, his most brilliant, most dramatic, and most passionate. Such a multi-faceted existence is an exact indication of the risky and unfamiliar lines upon which modernists walked. One can assume that Trilling considered A Passage to India to be the wiser and more perfect of Forster's novels in comparison. Where A Passage to India is socio-political, The Longest Journey is personal. The philosophical issues portrayed can be interpreted as being in dialogue with Forster's fellow scholars, pontificating upon the arguments of his academic circles. Scholars who engaged with these same philosophical arguments will no doubt warm to the affable and ironical gestures Forster uses to argue his case.
The structure in which Forster composes The Longest Journey sometimes borders on an obsessive control of the novel's plot and particularly the characters. As the events of the story unfold, we see the frame leading us to a central statement about the human condition. The overemphasis of these points crowded with immense symbolism leads us to question the effectiveness of Forster's statements. Particular points in the story, such as Rickie's realisation that Stephen is his half brother and the reintroduction of Ansell teamed with Stephen, leave us in a troublesome position asking whether this highly personal story was sacrificed to the musically fluent style Forster was working. The Longest Journey's most difficult problem is that it introduces itself as a modernist novel whose commitment is to style, yet its story is obviously Forster's personal account of a series of emotions and events in his own life.
The narrator's voice and Rickie's are essentially interchangeable. The only difference between the two is that the narrator is consciously aware of what Rickie's subconscious knows, but can't admit. If Rickie were so closely intertwined with the authorial voice, then it would seem that there is no room for intimacy with the reader. Yet, the story redeems itself through Rickie's struggle because it is so personal in its metaphysical complications. It is only later in the story, as it drifts farther away from Rickie's consciousness that the emotional impact lets go and we are left wandering through labyrinths of overt symbolic designs. The design in which Rickie is brought to his end is ultimately unfulfilling because the tragedy of the human condition makes itself so poignantly clear when the story is brought full circle to the ending ominously predicted from the outset. Instead, we are asked to accept that no life is tragic because of the enduring factor a human's spiritual hope. If Stephen were created as a character more complicated than a pastoral hero, then this resolution might be effective. However, in the troublesome structure it exists in, it falls short of an enlightening resolution.
Within the complex faults that unfold from an authorial voice inseparable from a central character's consciousness, there is a meaning that resounds through. Apart from stylistic concerns, the modernists were intensely concerned about the human's existential crisis that results from an awareness of the bleak resistance to have faith in either scientific or theological assertions. Rickie is the only vehicle with which we can understand and interpret the complicity of an early twentieth century man's reality. The other characters exist as mere paper figures that serve stilted plot functions. It is through Rickie alone that we understand this particular metaphysical crisis. These sentiments are what make The Longest Journey an important work of modernist fiction in the historical sense. Its theoretical importance lies in the fact of its mismatched structural and sentimental tale's existence.
There is an odd coincidence between symbols he and other modernist writers use. For example, Rickie hangs a towel over a painted harp in the room he is sleeping in at Ansell's house just as Woolf wrote about Mrs. Ramsay hanging her shawl over the skull hanging in the children's bedroom. The symbolic meaning of this can be interpreted in various ways. Yet, in Woolf's writing the meaning makes itself abundantly more clear because the style with which she works supersedes the story in To the Lighthouse. This is why To the Lighthouse is a more successful modernist experiment. A writer that does not work within the laws of the form in which they are working will inevitably fail in their efforts. Forster does not seem to be ignorant of these laws, but he is so enthusiastic about the application of them that his obsessive use of the stylistics becomes rather inappropriate.
Forster often declaimed himself as "not a great novelist". The reason he felt this was probably because he was not able to abide by the standards that he himself set as the qualifications for great novels. This is, at least, the primary objection to be made toward The Longest Journey. In Aspects of the Novel Forster writes, "The novelist who betrays too much interest in his own method can never be more than interesting; he has given up the creation of character and summoned us to help analyse his own mind, and a heavy drop in the emotional thermometer results". The obsessive control of style as an opposition to the driving story he wanted to tell in The Longest Journey proves to be a fatal merging of a novelist who wants to keep with the artistic innovations of his time. Forster is too aware of his use of stylistic method to make the novel a wholly satisfactory piece of literature. Yet, because there is so much of Forster in the novel, it remains a very interesting book to serious and passionate readers.


The Road to Wigan Pier (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Road to Wigan Pier (Penguin Modern Classics)
by George Orwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Picture Speaks for Itself, 14 Nov 2002
This book is divided into two sections. The first is a devastating account of the lives of coal miners in the north of England. While this account may be exaggerated it is completely conceivable that life in this time under such social and political conditions might have been like this. He goes to considerable length to explore the personal reactions and methods of endurance of the people he met. Orwell's dedication to exploring what life was really like for the coal miners was made at considerable personal discomfort and were as heroic as Jonathan Kozol's efforts in our present time.
The second half of the book is a long argument by Orwell of the negative aspects of socialism. He does this in order to provoke a serious discussion over how socialism can be implemented in our society. He understood well, as demonstrated in 1984, that many political parties use propaganda as a means of convincing the public that theirs is the right way. But, by taking the opposing view and criticising his own beliefs, he is able to bring the issues of the party into an open forum to consider implementations of change rather than party rhetoric. He does this most sincerely and in no way tries to hide the faults of the socialist political system of thought. In doing so he proves himself to be quite dignified in his system of beliefs. The juxtaposition of these two sections provides a striking idea of the immediate need for political reformation. He did not need to defend socialism because the need for a political change that could effect the lives of the lower class he investigated was obvious. This showed that Orwell's political ideas didn't exist on some ideological utopian plain, but were firmly rooted in the immense danger a political system could inflict upon a large population. It would be wise to remember this in reading the more popular 1984 and Animal Farm as well.
This book is compelling not just for people interested in politics, but also for anyone interested in history and the human condition. It is something you will be able to learn much from and provide you with inspiration.


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