I love watching films. Being sick and not going out much, it is my favourite bit of escapism. Sometimes I can knit with the film.
Dir: Ridley Scott
I enjoyed this a lot more than I was expecting to. It seemed to be a prequel to the Aliens films of the 1980s. I felt that and looked it up, and sure enough it was planned to be a 5th in the Alien series and a prequel. I loved the creature effects and the visual effects. The action was non stop, even if the plot was a bit predictable. I would recommend it though. The cinematography was attractive. I used to work with Ridley Scott's assistant directors and directors of photography and I know how fussy he is about the whole look of a film and the sets this was definitely beautiful to look at and dream about.
Directed and written by Ben Drew (Plan B)
The other film that I saw at the weekend was Ill Manors by Ben Drew who you might know as Plan B.
The film featured a lot of the music, and lyrics by Ben Drew and I thought it was amazing. It was urban gritty and from my point of view, I saw it essentially as the biography of a single gun. One gun gets passed around the community and used in different ways and every main character is affected by it, for good or bad. It was a clever concept and ] Ben Drew has done his usual thing as far as a score and album goes with his concept of making a 'film track for the blind' which is essentially a narrated story with rich layers in the music. Genius, really! I loved the action, the direction and photography and it was so much more than I was expecting. I think Ben Drew has made a wonderful job of his first go at directing and bringing this story to us. Parts are sad and violent, parts are quite uplifting but it is life in a manor of London as the real thing.
Of Human Bondage
As I mentioned before, I am getting quite distracted by the genre of YA (Young Adult) fiction, and although it is formularised it is also very tempting and straightforward to read. Some of it is beautifully written and a surprise. Some of it is quite badly written but makes a good basis for a film.
However, I am a sucker for the classics too and I download classic books and re-read the good ones. At the moment, I am part the way through Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage. and have been picking it up between other books I paid much more for. Many of the classics are only about 70p or so to download, and sometimes it includes an author's complete works.
Anyway, this book was a bit of a surprise to me. I thought it would be really melodramatic or Victorian, but found that the writing was quite simple and exposed a beautiful truth of human behaviour.
I have not studied this book so do not know it academically. My impression of it as a good read is its simplicity and its painting of human nature with sympathy. Even the unlikeable characters are shown as normal everyday humans and there are not really any villains or heroes, it is just people.
I wish I had the words to explain this book a little more, without giving away plot information. I can say Philip is the central character and carries us with him. Sometimes he is frustatingly affected by other people and you want to shake him. One of his big problems is giving too much trust to anybody who might be kind to him, spend time with him or live with him. He is so desperate to be affectionate, reach out and have reciprocation that it can be heart wrenching.
All in all it was a little gem, I started out hating it, but then found I did enjoy dipping in and out of this book as it works. There are parts that I thought were a little mawkish (good word mawkish isn't it?).
Man and Wife
I enjoyed the tension in the middle parts of the novel...and I hate to admit that I drifted off it in the end and found the details a little tedious but could that be the effect of too much Wilkie Collins on me? Some of his novels are perfect to read like The Moonstone and The Woman in White. There are elements of farce in those with villains, Heroes and virgins. All the good stuff for a non TV watching readership of the time. However, there are quite a few of Collins and Dickens' books that I really do not take to. Of course, once you have read the most well known novels and move on to more obscure works you can see that the writing suffers a little. I think working to magazine deadlines, did not always work, nor did some of the vanity publishing. The majority of Dickens novels are good, the well known ones, but with Wilke Collins the only two I really adore and are not repeated are the ones above.
Looking at both Collins and Dickens' life (they were friends) I can see a difference in the way the two men lived, but both hazarded adopting a mistress without any intention of divorce, or marriage.
Sometimes they evoke sympathy for their characters, but actually as an adult I can now see a bit of Collins and Dickens in the villanous parts of their novels. They uphold virtues in story telling that neither of them possessed in real life.
A Discovery of Witches
I have finished another few novels on my Kindle as well. You probably would not believe it, but I have a Kindle soreness on my damaged fingers, and a bruise on back of right hand below my little finger that developed from hours of reading. Even if I rest on a soft surface and change positions, it exacerbates the hand soreness where I have nerve damage.
Shadow of Night
Anyway, I finished the 2nd book in the All Souls Trilogy, which is an historical novel as well as containing witches and vampires. Don't be put off and assume this is a teens novel (although they can enjoy it too).
I thought the first novel A Discovery of Witches was really good. It encouraged me to go and look at some of the Salem witch trial records as the main character Diana Bishop descends from the female line. What a jolt I got when I saw my family name, which is reasonably rare, mentioned because the main witch Bridget Bishop had a daughter married to the main witness in the trial, who would have been a distant cousin or other of mine.
That aside, I enjoyed the atmosphere and tension of the first novel which builds into an action packed drama. The second book, has a more historical setting in London and because I love historical novels and I can understand some Latin or other languages (or look them up) I was interested in the pace, the work and research that went into it. However it did receive bad reviews who I think were waiting for a relationship development set up in the first novel. That did not bother me so much and I was more interested in the humans and some witches than I was in the vampire getting his teeth out, or th daemons losing their minds.
However, as the middle section got really exciting I stayed up all night reading only to find that it sort of stopped and fizzled out. It was a poor ending, and not really a good set up for the next novel or the third in the trilogy. It had all the elements too of someone not planning to finish the trilogy, I will have to find out more. I really am talking only about the very very end, before that it was a good read for me but I expected more of a conclusion and a shape that interlocks with book three.
Do not be put off by the title or cover though. It looks really cheesy but is relevant. There are some historical character sin this book who really existed, an they were often referred to retrospectively by historians as the School of Night and in this novel, the main vampire is often referred to as Shadow in different languages.