Miss Potter short review

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‘Miss Potter’ portrays the life and achievements of Helen Beatrix Potter, an English writer and illustrator. The film strategically combines her experiences of creating her well known novels and portrays her inspiration and struggles that ultimately leads to her success. The characters from Beatrix’s books, for example, Peter Rabbit, are delicately animated, indicating a unique and intrinsic friendship which combats Beatrix’s loneliness. The story cultivates creativity and imagination, proving that without the hindrances in her life, Beatrix Potter would not be as successful as she is today. The film can also inspire any aspiring illustrators and writers.

Absolutely Anything review

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I have been a bit obsessed with watching films featuring Simon Pegg, so here is another review of his most recent film, Absolutely Anything.

This whimsical film devises a similar concept as ‘Hector and the search for happiness’ and plays with the notion of power and choice and answering the question, what would we really desire if we could do anything? It also entices viewers by questioning their own purpose and reasoning if they were in a similar situation.

The film is simply about a school teacher, Neil, who is a single, quirky but miserable, going through a downward spiral with a mundane routine in his life. The story then suddenly takes a dramatic change when we are introduced to aliens who have decided to choose Neil to hold the responsibility of being able to do anything, to see if the outcome will be good or evil. I found this aspect of the film random and loosing fluidity when introducing  the main characters, also, the aliens were unrealistic and felt clumsy rather than comical, especially so early on in the film. However, as the film picked up it became more apparent that there needed to be some kind of source for Neil’s sudden magical powers to do anything he desired.

What would you do if you could do anything? Throughout the film many opportunities came for Neil when holding this unique power: feeding the hungry, solving war, making someone fall in love. However, it was clear that everything has a consequence.

Regardless of the film being clumsy in places, for its genre as a comedy it definitely fit the bill perfectly, the jokes were funny and Simon Pegg, as always, was the perfect choice to play Neil.

Hector and the Search for Happiness review

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What is happiness? How do you know if you’re really happy? Are the questions that Hector (played by Simon Pegg) answer in this world-wind of a film.

This film is primarily about a middle aged man who is used to having a simple and controlled life; everything has been the same for ten years. He gets up, has breakfast, goes to work, has dinners, kisses his girlfriend goodnight and then goes to bed. His job, as a psychiatrist, has become mundane and he is half heart-idly listening and putting in effort to his patients. As a result, he sees a decline in his patients achievements. Hector soon realises that he wants to find out what it really means to be happy by travelling round the world, to help his patients and ultimately help himself. This sudden decision results in leaving his everyday life abruptly.

The main actor, Simon Pegg, is spectacular in this film; his versatility and ability to provoke countless emotions to audience throughout the film is one of his best traits. I was hysterically laughing, crying and questioning my own idea of happiness at one point.

As well, the film beautifully depicts the nature of travelling and escapism and shows that being surrounded by the same objects and people every day can be draining. Also, that a strict routine can be lethal. During the film, Hector travels to China, Africa and Los Angeles. Throughout his time in these places, he goes on a quest to ask as many people as possible ‘Are you happy?’ and ‘What makes you happy?’ each time new and surprising answers and depicted from these people and has all contributed to his own journey of self-discovery.

Throughout the whole of the film I was intrigued by the whole concept of happiness and how this could be answered in so many different ways. I was moved and shocked at what I discovered. It is in fact true that no matter how successful or rich you are, if you are not enjoying what you are doing… what is the point? Simon Pegg, as Hector, allows this thought process to continue throughout his adventure meeting dangerous, exciting and wild people to make him realise what he has got already in his life and most importantly to never hold onto the past, whoever is in it and whatever is there it is so important to let go and live in the now.

Overall, this film has everything you need, laughter, emotion, romance and a discovery of one’s self. Not only that, It has left me with food for thought about my own life and to always do things that make me happy on top of anything else.

‘Five Stone of Lead’ review

‘Five stone of lead’ is a charming and effortlessly shot documentary by Johnny Maddison that follows a young boy on his journey to become a jockey. The film primarily uses montages as a technique, which starts of showing the boy and the horse separately and then combining them together to portray the relationship between the two. The montage also creates a nostalgic and almost emotional atmosphere for the viewer, especially with it being accompanied with a piece of slow and dramatic music. Later on in the documentary it is revealed that because of the boy’s short height and built, he has to wear five stone of lead with his gear in order to help him stay in the same league. This helps the viewers make sense of the title and his struggle in the sport. Moreover, halfway through the music changes to a more upbeat track and the visual elements become fast paced, to allow the viewers to experience the emotions involved when participating in a race. To conclude, this short documentary allows a valuable insight into the life of a young boy perusing his passion as a jockey, with a strong message running throughout that you can do anything regardless of your height, build, age or gender as long as you are willing to fight for it.

Review of Cecilia Ahern’s ‘Thanks for the Memories’

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Cecilia Ahern has been an Irish novelist since 2004 and is best known for her novel ‘P.S I love you’, which has been turned into a film. For a long time, she has been one of my favourite authors. One of the reasons for this is her ability to combine genres and to provoke multiple layers of emotions together in order to make her novels exciting and gripping, allowing plot twists and unexpected scenarios intertwine in her stories.

The most recent novel that I have finished reading is ‘Thanks for the Memories’. The first thing, like many other people, do when discovering a new book is to read the tagline and the blurb, and this for me indicates whether I want to read on further. For Cecilia Ahern, the tag line was enough to get me hooked, ‘How do you know someone you’ve never met?’ Almost instantly I was intrigued with this rhetorical question and simply wanted it to be answered and at the same time coming up with my own outcomes and possibilities to answer the question. As a result, when discovering the answer I was suitably satisfied.

Furthermore, the basic storyline is about a man and a woman (Joyce and Justin) who have never met, but are both going through a mid-life crisis and things have drastically changed and gone downhill in their lives. For example, the loss of Joyce’s baby is a traumatic and life changing moment for her character. Justin on the other hand, has just come out of a divorce. This all changes shortly after Joyce exits hospital and Joyce and Justin both sense each other’s thoughts and start to develop similar personalities overnight – the reason why is left uncertain to the readers at this point. The whole book flips from one character’s perspective to another, cleverly jumping from the two in the matter of paragraphs to show how their lives mirror each other. If you want a challenge and like the idea of being one or more voice, then this book is definitely for you.

Cecilia Ahern is also known throughout her novels for discretely approaching hard -hitting topics. For instance, in ‘Thanks for the Memories’ Joyce loses her baby in a traumatic circumstance and throughout the novel Ahern has the ability to shock the readers, but not enough for them to stop reading or get too emotionally involved. In the scene where Joyce loses her baby, the use of language and the descriptions are delicately and beautifully written with the view that individuals reading might be affected by this. In comparison when looking at ‘My Sisters Keeper’, a film adaptation that is similarly related to a loss or losing a child, the whole purpose of the film is to pull on the heartstrings and provoke emotion deliberately to show what it is like to have leukaemia, whereas Cecilia Ahern’s mention of the loss is short and precise allowing the reader to be involved in the comedic and psychological aspects of the book later on.

Another comparison between ‘My Sisters Keeper’, is the different way the film portrays loss. For example during ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ the audience is fully aware of the child’s significant disease and is reminded about it throughout the whole film. In contrast, in ‘Thanks for the Memories’, there is so much more going on in the book especially for Joyce. For example divorce, hearing voices and looking after her father that the readers almost forget about the tragic loss of Joyce’s baby. This is what makes Cecilia Ahern so unique by allowing the readers to completely immerse themselves into her characters to the point where they are even thinking like them. This also means that the book can have a dual focus rather than focus on one issue.

Additionally, when looking at the genre of ‘Thanks for the Memories’ it is already suggested that Cecilia Ahern’s novels have mixed genres. However if you had to select one that fits for this particular story it would be romance. But as previously stated, this would be far from the truth when looking at the story as a whole. The book also has elements of being put in a psychological genre because throughout the novel there is something more connected between the two characters than humanly possible. For example, Joyce has somehow learnt a new language overnight that Justin if fluent in. For me as a reader, the slight hint of something supernatural or not being real set in a normal every day environment (so as it seems), triggers a sense of wonder and a need to find out how these two people are connected.

Also, I appreciate the references to family relationships in the book as well as romantic relationships. Joyce’s dad is a big part of her life and this is beautifully depicted in the story by referencing age and how Joyce is at that time of her life where she has to look after her father. This can be considered to be an emotional read for some but Ahern’s raw honesty about the little moments and changes in life can be nostalgic. Also, the mention of a family can be relatable to the readers which help them to understand and sympathise the characters on a different level. For example, in Justin’s side of the story, his whole family are too involved in his life. As readers, we can feel the frustration when reading the novel.

Overall, this novel offers romance, mystery, emotion and involves a lot of plot twists to keep the readers on their toes. Also, the subtle hints and the desire to know how these two characters are connected was one of the reasons why I was struggling to put it down. A definite recommended read.