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Jack Barnes (London)

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Atonement [DVD] [2007]
Atonement [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Keira Knightley
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £1.93

26 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK adaptation of a brilliant bool, 10 July 2008
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Right, well, as a massive fan of the book, I must admit that I approached this with caution. Fear, to be honest, of how the dreaded Keira Knightley would attack another literary charcter (her 'interpretation' of Lizzie Bennett as a pouting, 'I'll just say my lines fast so they sound witty' skeleton is still a wonder to me).

And it's fine. I think the direction is superb, as is the adaptation - an impossible task really, of capturing such a 'big' novel on screen, and I think it's handled with extreme care by director and screenwriter, so well done to them both.

The two leads are wrong, however. McAvoy is an excellent actor, but has been badly miscast as Robbie - in the novel there is something very manly about him; his working-class background must be apparent, since it is that which distances him from Cecilia. That is why she has never considered him as a potential partner, and, more importantly, it is why the whole family so easily turn on him, and so easily believe that he could have committed the 'crime' that occurs. Without this tension, it immediately creates a major flaw in the narrative.

As for Knightley, she's not as bad as she has been, but my god, the woman can't even say dialogue convincigly, how she's still a working actress I'll never know.

So, if you enjoyed the film, I very much recommend the book - I think you'll find it altogether a more rewarding experience.

An adequate adaptation.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 12, 2011 3:21 PM BST

The Child In Time: Winner of the Whitbread Novel Award 1987
The Child In Time: Winner of the Whitbread Novel Award 1987
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At times a difficult read, but ultimately a rewarding one, 10 July 2008
Well, to all those that didn't like this novel, and feel the need to attack it - guess what, it's literature, not everyone's going to like it. Criticism is fair enough, but some of the reviews are just childish and boring.

I found this to be a truly disturbing read - the opening incident is truly harrowing, and the aftermath is what leads the ptotagonist, Stephen, into a story of touching sensitivity; an exploration of loss and what it is to need to be found.

What I found interesting is that there was always something at stake for the characters in this novel, always something to be gained or lost, which really heightens the drama. It had a beautifully constructed narrative arc, and the ending for me was spot-on.

Not my favourite McEwan by any means, but for fans of his work, a truly rewarding read.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 5, 2010 2:51 AM BST

Jane Eyre [DVD] [2006]
Jane Eyre [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Ruth Wilson
Price: £5.00

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic adaptation, 3 July 2008
This review is from: Jane Eyre [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Any reviews that give this production one star are clearly written by bitter purists who need to be more open-minded.

'Jane Eyre' is my favourite book, and this adaptation is never less-than compelling.

The main thing that sets this particular adaptation far above it's competition is the casting of the two leads. The BBC were absolutely spot-on in their choice of an 'unknown' Jane (Ruth Wilson) who is simply stunning in the role - subtle, intelligent, brimming with repressed passion; she is everything that Jane should be.

And Toby Stephens is no-less impressive as Rochester; we see a man who has been so badly hurt in the past that he is afraid to open his heart to the possibility of love. The chemisty between the pair is electric - every scene between them is incredibly sexy, and both actors make the connection they have with one another utterly believable.

This is a beautifully written and well-acted production, and if you are a fan of the book I highly recommend it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2008 8:30 PM BST

Extras: Extra Special Series Finale [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Extras: Extra Special Series Finale [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £5.12

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 17 Jun. 2008
This was the most fantastic piece of television that I've seen in a long time.

Hilariously funny, of course, but where I think Gervais, Merchant & co really excel is in the sense of sadness that comes through. Ashley Jensen, surely the most gifted comedienne to have emerged in recent years, is truly heart-breaking; effortlessly funny, but I was in tears watching her face the possibility that her dreams of becoming a 'proper actress' may never happen.

By far the best thing that Merchant and Gervais have written - the way it bounces between comedy and tragedy is genius. A gem.

The Time Traveler's Wife
The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly beautiful, Will break your heart., 10 Jun. 2008
I literally JUST finished this book on the bus into work today, and am currently sobbing at my desk. Sad, I know. And it's my second time of reading it, I knew what was going to happen, and STILL I am an emotional wreck.

Believe every good word you have hear about this book, and then some. It is beautiful. The characters live and breathe, they made me laugh out laugh and weep on many seperate occassions.

Read it, I can say no more.

by Margaret Atwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and intelligent, 1 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Surfacing (Paperback)
Firstly, a note to my fellow reviewers: it is bad form to give away the ending of books in review - despite your own personal views, it's not up to you to spoil it for other readers.

Anyway, to review Atwood's excellent book, Surfacing.

I am a huge Atwood fan, and upon starting this book I must confess to being initially disapointed - it seemed quite drab compared to some of her other novels, quite low-key and uninvolving.

However, this is a slow-burning story, and before long I was completely hooked. It is not as showy or explicitly 'interesting' as 'The Handmaid's Tale' or 'The Blind Assassin', but don't let that put you off. It's a brilliantly well-written tale about a woman returning to her childhood home, and the memories that come flooding back with it.

Most similar to 'Cat's Eye', this is Atwood still early on in her career, still learning her craft, but never the less a masterful storyteller. I highly recommend this book if you are a fan - expect something different, and you won't be disapointed.

by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Majestic, 20 July 2007
This review is from: Saturday (Paperback)
I was profoundly touched by this wonderful book.

A lot of the reviews on here have been negative, and clearly this book is not for everyone. Comparrisons to Woolf's 'Mrs Dalloway' are accurate in style, and if that's not your thing, I wouldn't go near it.

However, if you do begin this book, I think you'll discover one of the most richly drawn portraits of a man in recent literature.

It is a novel about many things, but one of the themes that stood of for me was war and our attitudes towards it - how it is easy to consider yourself 'a lefty', but is that enough when you actually do nothing more than claim it? To hate Tony Blair is considered cool, so should we love Sadam? Is it ok to sit on the fence where something this important is in the air, or should we be forced to have an opinion?

Some reviewers have called it pretentious, but McEwan himself is completely aware of this - it is part of the character's world, and that's EXACTLY the point of the novel. The central character is examining his world, analysing his existence, but at the same time acknowledging that this is a self-obsessed and pretentious way to view himself; looking at the middle-class values he holds, considering why he deserves to live in a mansion whilst others die on the street; essentially why he has the perfect life and others do not.

This is a huge novel, one that encompasses the entire life of a man in one day. I urge you to read it if you are a fan of thought-provoking and intelligent writing.

If not, go buy Harry Potter.

by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breath-taking, 20 July 2007
This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
I have just read some fantastic reviews of this book, all completely justified, but it was one that gave it just one star that inspired me to write. Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the review of "Tiger Man" (clearly no writer) seems to miss the point of the book.

Yes, literature needs to have something at stake, something that at any point can be lost or gained - and I think that this is the novel's main attribute. From the very beginning, McEwan never loses the sense of danger that is his classic territory, and this is what ties together every sentence, paragraph and chapter with incredible grace and urgency.

I personally found that I was unable to put this book down - and when I did it was only because I couldn't bear to continue, such was the emotion involved.

Profound and beautiful, McEwan is a master of his generation; long may he reign.

I Capture The Castle (Vintage Classics)
I Capture The Castle (Vintage Classics)
by Dodie Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful story about love, 1 July 2006
I've just finished this book, and it's one of the most beautiful and touching novels I have ever read.

The central character is so real - funny, observant, intelligent - and I completely believed in the world she paints for us.

At parts it is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and I found moments where I couldn't go on because I was about to burst into tears! Daft I know, but Cassandra goes through so much, and records it with such honesty and frankness, that we feel every emotion she goes through.

It is a story about childhood, growing-up, isolation, freedom, but ultimately about love.

Beautiful and melancholic, read it, and fall in love.

The Blind Assassin
The Blind Assassin
by Margaret Atwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book, 10 Jun. 2006
This review is from: The Blind Assassin (Paperback)
Like many of the reviewers on this site, I found this book difficult at first; but stick with it, and before much longer you'll be hooked.

Atwood is such a wonderful story-teller: she writes intelligently without ever being pretentious, and has a razor-sharp witty humour that she combines with a bitter sadness.

I think this is probably her finest work to date. Exceptional.

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