Sunday, 31 January 2016

Book Review: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Hello, everyone. I have a book review for you all. It is My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult which was made into a film with Cameron Diaz. It is one of my favourite books so I thought I'd write about it, maybe give you a good review of it so you want to read it too!

The Background
This story is about Anna Fitzgerald's older sister, Kate, who suffers from acute promyelocytic lukemia, a blood and bone marrow cancer. To save Kate's life, Anna was created by Sara and Brian to donate what needs to be donated to help Kate. Initially, it is successful but the cancer continuously relapses throughout Kate's life, causing Anna to donate much of her blood and various other things to help her.

However, now that she is thirteen, she is told she needs to donate one of her kidneys which isn't guaranteed to work and the operation may kill Kate anyway as well as Anna's own life being impacted. Anna petitions for medical emancipation with help of Campbell Alexander, a lawyer who is willing to take her case. The court also appoints a guardian ad litem, Julia Romano, whose job is to decide what would be best for Anna. She was also romantically involved with Campbell back in their school days before he broke her heart. The story follows these people as they all become affected by Anna and Kate.

My Thoughts
I'll be honest and straight. I didn't think I'd like this book when I first read it a few years ago. The medical terminology and law speak/court scenes was enough to put me off. I didn't really understand what exactly was being donated by Anna and what they were talking about when it came to her case. I almost gave up on the book because it is kind of a slow burner type of novel too. 

There isn't actually much pace in the novel until about the middle-ish to the end either. There are chapters about the past and there are chapters focusing on the present. It works well once you really get into it because it ties in what happened and how the parents, Sara and Brian, came to their decisions and how they coped with them. The book centres around Anna's perspective as well as Brian and Sara's. We don't read any of Kate's thoughts or indeed their brother, Jesse, who is pretty much ignored by the rest of the family and sets buildings on fire in response. Dramatic, right? 

I loved Jodi's style of writing because you become completely torn in your emotions. One minute, you're pissed at Sara and Brian for how they are using Anna and how they don't take into account her feelings or thoughts about certain situations. But then on the other hand, you realise you don't know what it's like to be a parent of a dying child while also trying to juggle life with a juvenile delinquent and a thirteen year old who is suing you! You are pulled one way and then another way throughout the entire book but in the end, you completely sympathise with them.

It's a heart-wrenching story that has you feeling all of the emotions! I couldn't put it down when I first read it and I still find myself going back to it from time to time because it is such a great story. The ending is absolutely heart breaking and a bit of a shock, actually. It is rare for me to cry at books, I tend to cry more at films and that but this really made me shed a tear. Especially because it is a book about cancer and I have lost a few people to that dreadful disease. 

It might seem like a depressing book to read and it is at times but it is also an uplifting book because some relationships are healed which really makes you smile. It is worth reading because it has become one of my favourite books of all time. Once you get through the beginning, it is worth every page. I haven't watched the film yet but it is definitely on my to-watch list.

Have you read this book or seen the film? What did you think of it?
Thankyou for reading.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Film Review: The Revenant (2016).

Hello, everyone. Hope you're well. Sorry I haven't posted anything for a few weeks. I had four deadlines for one day for uni and it genuinely wiped me out and I wanted a break from being online. But I'm here now and I've got a film review for you all.

So, I've just been to see The Revenant and I enjoyed it alot more than I thought I would!

The Background
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, a hunting team are explore the wilderness of America when Hugh Glass, explorer and father, (Leonardo Dicaprio) is violently and horrifically attacked by a bear. Left dead by his team members and betrayed by his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), he must fight his way back through a brutal winter to live and get his revenge. It is an embellished version of apparent true events.

My Thoughts
Before I even got to the cinema, I'd read and heard different things about this film. The cast and crew went through a turbulent time filming it. The director, Alejandro, insisted that the film should be shot with natural light which only occurred during 90 minutes per day which obviously slowed the process down. But it was dramatic and stunning! 

DiCaprio's character goes through ALOT, such things like; eating raw fish and bison liver, dodging bullets, being mauled by a bear, riding a horse over the edge of a cliff, sleeping in animal carcasses. DiCaprio really immersed himself within the role by doing the frozen river stunts himself and actually biting into bison liver (his real reaction is caught on camera and kept in the final cut). Although, he isn't the first actor to get into film roles like this (just look at Daniel-Day Lewis) but the finished project is absolutely unreal and you really admire DiCaprio's dedication and performance here.

But, apart from that, there isn't that much more to his character that you can connect with. He is a father in this film but it doesn't really complicate things as much as you'd think although the story is about revenge, life and family. His story is gripping from the beginning to the end but perhaps not entirely in the way, DiCaprio and the director wanted it to be. You're more interested in what painful thing is going to happen next to Glass rather than the actual reason why he's crawling across open plains in agony.

Tom Hardy as the strong-headed, opinionated Fitzgerald was intriguing too. He played him perfectly as always. He's one of my favourite actors and this film is just another reason why. However, I did struggle sometimes with the way Hardy spoke in a mumbly fashion and the accent he was using so I missed out half of what he was saying sometimes but overall he did a fantastic job. Even when his character is saying nothing, his eyes are doing the talking and they are saying a thousand words when he isn't.

The cinematography was visually stunning and took my breath away. Each step of the journey feels treacherous mixed in with the beautiful and terrifying nature of the harsh winter. The storms are scary to watch and Alva Noto's musical score accompanying it drive home the terror. Not only that, the bear scene that has everyone talking is just as horrifying and chilling as you'd expect. It is unreal how they filmed it because although they used a CGI bear, it is a scene that has you recoiling in your seat and terrified for Glass. 

This film is terrifying, beautiful and amazing all in one. It is very graphic by the way so if you're sensitive to blood and gore etc., it isn't for you. DiCaprio and Hardy are both nominated for Oscars for this and they are truly deserved! If DiCaprio doesn't win for this genuine endurance test, then I don't know what it will take for him to win.

Here's the trailer

Have you seen this? What did you think of it?
Thankyou for reading.


Thursday, 14 January 2016

R.I.P Alan Rickman.

What a sad start to 2016.
First, we lose David Bowie and now Alan Rickman.

He was only 69 and he has died of cancer.. weirdly, the same age and death as David Bowie! As far as I know, this is a major shock to everybody as no one knew he was suffering from that dreadful disease. He's always been a very private celebrity but a very much loved one. He is easily one of the best British actors we've ever had in both film and theatre over the past 30 years.

For me personally, I've watched him in so many films from a young age to now in my 20s. Characters that stood out to me are a mixture of Rickman's ability to play evil characters as well as normal, innocent ones. The earliest one I can remember has to be Hans Gruber, Bruce Willis's vile adversary in Die Hard
I loved the early Die Hard films but I obviously watched the first one years and years after it was released (I was only born in 1994!) but it still blew me away. Funny, vile yet charming Rickman played Gruber with ease and it was wonderful to watch. I also loved him in Love Actually with another amazing British actor Emma Thompson, as the Caterpillar in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Dogma and in Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp which I know not everyone liked… but I did!

But I think the most standout character for me and for others in the younger generation, it has to be Professor Snape from the Harry Potter films.
If you are a fan of the Harry Potter films and books like me, you will have grown up with those characters, Snape being one of them. Playing one of the most horrible yet complex and misunderstood characters, Alan Rickman brought Snape to life and played him like no one else. 

Safe to say, I am shocked and heartbroken he is gone. Every year when I was very young, me and my brother got excited every time JK Rowling brought out the next instalment of the books. Then when the films were coming out, my school took us to see the newest film in the series every single year before half term and that is easily one of my fondest memories of school. I grew up with the character Snape and Alan Rickman's acting, so it's sad to see such an icon leave us.

We are luckiest generation to have had great people like David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Whitney Huston, Michael Jackson etc. be in the same lifetime as us but we also have the misfortune of having them pass away during our lifetime too..

Are there any films you remember Alan Rickman in?
Leave your thoughts and comments below!
Thankyou for reading.


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Jaden Smith is the New Face of Louis Vuitton!

Hello, everyone. First of all, happy new year! 
Secondly, I want to share some exciting news with you if you haven't heard about it already. Jaden Smith, son of actor Will Smith, is going to be one of the new faces of Louis Vuitton! To be exact, he's going to be part of the new womenswear campaign. I'm very much out of the fashion loop, I do my reviews of red carpet outfits at award shows but that's very much it. I appreciate fashion but I probably couldn't tell you a thing about it.

This is clearly a great publicity stunt for Louis Vuitton but who cares? It's working because it's got everybody talking about it both positively and negatively. Many thought Louis Vuitton exclusively sold handbags but who knew they were actually selling women's clothing for men all this time? And who better than Jaden Smith, who has seemed to be gender neutral much of his teenage life, to be the face of this campaign?

The fashion house's creative director, Nicolas Ghesquière, announced the new campaign on Instagram with a first look at the new photo shoot by Bruce Weber:
Jaden Smith "represents a generation that has assimilated the codes of true freedom, one that is free of manifestoes and questions about gender". I, for one, LOVE this. To me, he just looks like a normal kid wearing women's clothes, not necessarily a man in transition. And, damn, doesn't he look good? He doesn't look like a girl in them either, he just looks like a guy who is wearing obviously female clothes which works for me.

Let's get educational for a moment. For the people at the back who are complaining and saying that this is not 'normal'. Well, men wearing skirts is not a new thing at all. In some cultures, men wearing skirts has been occurring for a long time historically.

Here's some examples:
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Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 9.52.04 PM   

This is why I love this new campaign already. We have to give some love for Will and Jada Pinkett Smith as well for being so flexible and allowing their children to literally be whatever and whoever they want to be while they're young.

"Clothes don't make you a man or a woman." -Kingsley.
I couldn't put it better myself.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this new campaign, do you like it or hate it?
All opinions are welcome!
Thankyou for reading.