09 Feb 2017
in Film Review
Tags: a man and his cat, a street cat named bob, addition, Anthony Head, bestselling book, big issue seller, bio-pic, biopic, bob the cat, companionship, contrived romance, covent garden busker, drama, England, feel-good, film, films, friendship, ginger cat, ginger cat named bob, heart-warming, heroin habits, hollywood's take on addiction, homeless man in london, hope, james bowen, kooky vegan neighbour, luke treadaway, methadone habits, movie, movies, public housing, recovering drug addict in london, redemption, review, reviews, ruta gedmintas, struggles are downplayed, stunt cats, true story, u.k., uk, young drug addict in london
A Street Cat Named Bob is the heart-warming and feel-good true story about a young and homeless recovering drug addict living in London with his cat.
James Bowen (played here by the occasionally whiny Luke Treadaway) is down on his luck, busking in Covent Garden and living in public housing until a chance meeting with a ginger tomcat changes his life. The pair become inseparable, with Bob the cat sitting by James’ side as he faces up to his heroin and methadone habits, becomes a Big Issue seller and looks to turn his life around.
Bob plays himself in the film (along with some stunt cats), and he steals the show. Cat enthusiasts will love the fact he has many close-ups and mishaps to enjoy, and that scenes are even shot from his perspective at times.
A Street Cat Named Bob is not a particularly gritty film, but it does include some funny moments and some interesting and well-realised dramatic subplots with James’ estranged father (Anthony Head) and a fun but contrived romance with his kooky vegan neighbour (Ruta Gedmintas).
A Street Cat Named Bob is a Hollywood take on addiction, for James’ struggles are often downplayed in service of getting the story moving. But if you can overlook this sanitation, and you’re after a film about hope, companionship and redemption, then this biopic ticks many of the right boxes.
Originally published on 7 February 2017 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/arts/street-cat-named-bob
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27 Jan 2017
in Book Review
Tags: aegean island, affairs, affairs of the heart, Agápe, among the lemon trees, betrayal, big love, bittersweet, book, books, chick lit, cliched, cliches, contemporary, domestic bliss, eros, escapism, family secrets, fiction, forgettable, friendship, fun, greece, greek islands, greeks have four types of love, home, loss, love, love lament, major turning point, middle-aged protagonist, nadia marks, not memorable, novel, philia, pleasant, regret, regrets, review, reviews, romance, sex, sexual love, storge, tender love, unoriginal, zeimbekiko
Love is a wonderful thing. We all want to experience it. Many musicians, artists and writers have used it as inspiration, but it was perhaps Darren Hanlon who put it best when he sang, “Love is just a lazy generalisation that we use for a hundred different feelings and as many situations.” Journalist and author, Nadia Marks knows a lot about this kind of love, as she proves in her debut novel for adults, Among the Lemon Trees. She says that the Greeks have no fewer than four different types of love: Agápe is the big love, storgé the tender other love, philia friendship, and éros sexual love.
To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201701/218733
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31 Dec 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: 2 unlikely friends, 24 hour emergency butcher, 8 part, abc, adventures, anxious guy, best friends, buddy comedy, celia pacquola, charming, clever, clever jokes, comedy, daniel mccallum, danny mccallum, dvd, dvds, eight part, emma dawes, family real estate business, fish-out-of-water comedy, friends, friendship, funny, kris mcquade, likeable, luke mc gregor, luke mcgregor, luke warm sex, misadventures, nervy guy, review, reviews, rosehaven, rosehaven series 1, rural Australia, season 1, season one, series one, shenanigans, shy guy, sitcom, two unlikely friends, utopia, wonderful laughs
Rosehaven is a comedy show that finds the funny in lots of things. It’s a fish-out-of-water comedy, a buddy comedy and a sitcom set in rural Australia. This eight-part series debuted on the ABC in 2016 and it was a hit with audiences. This is because it’s a funny show about two rather unlikely friends and their lives in the fictional town of Rosehaven.
The show is written and created by Australian comedians Celia Pacquola (Utopia) and Luke McGregor (Luke Warm Sex). It’s not the most original premise for a program but it is one that has a big heart. This could be because Rosehaven manages to find the comedy in the characters’ adventures and misadventures.
McGregor stars as Daniel McCallum, a character that you sense is not a huge stretch for him to write or play. McCallum had previously left his childhood town of Rosehaven in Tasmania to work on the mainland of Australia. But his mother’s ailing health means that her shy, anxious and nervy son must return home to help run the family real estate business. Cue a lot of the local townspeople greeting the grown-up Daniel by his childhood name, “Danny” and making the assumption that he couldn’t “Hack it on the mainland.”
Pacquola stars as McCallum’s vivacious and confident best friend, Emma Dawes. You get the sense that the pair’s friendship has survived an awful lot, not least Emma’s marriage. The series opens with McCallum playing the bridesmaid for his best friend but the marriage doesn’t last much longer than the actual ceremony. Emma is left abandoned by her new husband on her honeymoon in Bali. So she goes to Tasmania to seek refuge and new opportunities with her best friend, Daniel. It helps that Emma is a fast-learner and a natural talent at the real estate game and that she’s not fazed by the town’s eccentrics (think a hoarder, some vigilante neighbourhood watch members, a 24-hour emergency butcher and more).
The series pokes fun at the shenanigans the pair encounter while trying to run the small real estate office owned by Daniel’s mother (an powerful and occasionally scary, Kris McQuade) in the quiet and idyllic, eponymous town. McGregor and Pacquola have a wonderful chemistry and it’s obvious that they’re close friends in real life. The pair also have great lines that really bounce off the other quite well with McGregor’s reticent straight man often proving to be the comedic foil because he is a pushover for the more devilish, quick-thinking and enterprising Emma.
Rosehaven’s first series proved to be a charming and likeable one. The show has some clever jokes and wonderful laughs and it is a testament to the exciting writing by Pacquola and McGregor that they did not have to resort to cheap jokes about the local townspeople who to be fair are a bunch of eccentrics. Instead this is a fun comedy program that will have you cheering on these adorable adolescent-like adults and their blooming business because it will make you want to sit back and hope that this little family enterprise and friendship becomes hot property.
Originally published on 29 December 2016 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/dvd-review-rosehaven-series-one-australia-2016-is-a-funny-comedy-misadventure-about-two-unlikely-friends/
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14 Jun 2016
in Blu-ray Review
Tags: 1970s, 1973, 70s, Aku Orraca-Tetteh, american century records, andy warhol, blu-ray, bluray, boardwalk empire creators, bobby cannavale, coke fiend, confusing, david bowie, devon finestra, downward spiral, drama, drug fiend, drugs, excesses, fictional, flashbacks, friendship, gritty, james jagger, john cameron mitchell, juno tempo, Leslie Kujo, mafia, Martin Scorsese, meticulously researched, Mick Jagger, mob, murder investigation, music, music business, music industry, new york city, Noah Bean, nuanced, Olivia Wilde, raw, Ray Romano, real-life artists, ritchie finestra, rock, rock 'n' roll, season 1, season one, seventies, sex, sexism, Shawn Wayne Klush, slow-burning, sprawling, Stephen Sullivan, television, ten part 10 part, Terence Winter, the nasty bits, The rolling stones, troubled, tv, tv series, vinyl, zak yankovich
A story clouded by lost brain cells, self-aggrandisement and bullshit. This is what the TV series, Vinyl sells you. It’s a heady dramatic turn through the sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and hedonism that was the music industry in New York in 1973. This ten part TV series is a slow-burning, nuanced one that feels like a love letter to the period and the genre and a celebration of the redemptive power of rock ‘n’ roll.
This program has got a pretty impressive pedigree to say the least. The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger is a creator and producer along with Martin Scorsese (who also directs the pilot). Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos) is also a creator and executive producer and the series stars Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire). Vinyl takes in both fictional and real-life events and artists and it is clear that it has been meticulously researched as it is very true to the period. While the series starts off a tad slowly, the later episodes really hit more of the right notes and will hook the viewer in.
Cannavale stars as the record executive, Richie Finestra and the principal owner of the fictional label, American Century. He is a liar and coke fiend but despite these vices has also managed to maintain a friendship with his business partner and the head of promotions, Zak Yankovich (Ray Romano who puts in a strong, dramatic performance). Finestra is married to Devon (Olivia Wilde) a former model and associate of Andy Warhol’s (John Cameron Mitchell). Devon is now sober and a restless mother to two young children.
The fortunes of the owners of American Century looked set to change when Polygram wanted to buy the company. But at the eleventh hour Finestra sees The New York Dolls and his interest and enthusiasm in music is restored. The deal is off, he decides to keep the company and attempt to turn their fortunes around for the better. The label is home to some jocular A & R reps and an ambitious coffee/drug girl Jamie Vine (an enchanting, Juno Temple) and she discovers a young, punk outfit The Nasty Bits (lead by Jagger’s son, James).
The soundtrack to this series is fantastic with David Bowie’s “Suffragette City”, “Life On Mars” and “Jean Genie” played alongside tracks like “Hey Joe” (made famous by Jimi Hendrix), The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again, Pink Floyd’s “Money”, The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman In a Black Dress” and two Eddie Cochran hits that Led Zeppelin liked to cover, “Somethin’ Else” and “C’Mon Everybody”. In some instances the original track is used, in others it is a live version or a cover. The series also portrays some famous musicians in their youth- like Bowie (Noah Bean), John Lennon (Stephen Sullivan), Elvis Presley (Shawn Wayne Klush), Bob Marley (Leslie Kujo) and Peter Tosh (Aku Orraca-Tetteh), among others.
The series is not a perfect one. Some of the sub-plots are not satisfactorily explored (many of the female characters feel like quick punctuation marks to the whole tale), the flashbacks are sometimes a tad confusing and the pilot was overlong (at 113 minutes). But once you sit back and immerse yourself and get into the groove there is a lot to enjoy in this vibrant series. The individuals navigate through difficult marriages, a murder investigation, creative issues, brushes with the law and the mob, sexism and the tragedies of drugs and more. Vinyl is an enthusiastic look at the seventies but it’s not hagiography, the filmmakers are happy to show the real and raw grittiness of the environment, and this is especially important when the story is told through the eyes of the troubled main character and particularly as we follow his downward spiral.
The visuals in this series – like the soundtrack – seem quite true to the era. The colour palette looks like it could have come from an old video from the seventies and the costumes, scenery and props are also fitting for the decade. The special features on the Blu-ray are satisfactory and include audio commentaries, a featurette and some “Inside the episode” looks at the program with Terence Winter.
Vinyl is a sprawling TV series and a rich look at an exciting chapter in music. It stars a bunch of mad misfits and details their manic misadventures through friendship, booze, drugs and other excesses from this colourful period. In all, this is one fun and nostalgic look at the grit, glitz and glam that was the seventies New York music industry. Rock on!
Originally published on 13 June 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/vinyl-season-one-blu-ray-review/
Visit Impulse Gamer’s homepage at: http://www.impulsegamer.com/
16 Feb 2016
in Book Review
Tags: ally, authentic, book, books, charlotte, dani atkins, david, dilemmas, drama, emotional, emotional rich, emotional roller-coaster, families, family, family drama, fate, fiction, flashbacks, friendship, great characterisation, great premise, health, heart condition, intensive care, joe, life, love, novel, novels, our song, predictable, review, reviews, sentimental, sickness, tension, tugs at your heartstrings, two women in a waiting room
Dani Atkins may not be the world’s most famous author but her third novel, Our Song, looks poised to change that. This emotional, family drama is a slow-burning and nuanced tale that looks at fate, friendship, love and other dilemmas. It’s a poignant tale that will give you cause to sit back and reflect and this will happen long after you’ve finished the book’s final words.
The story is about two women and former friends who are suddenly hit by individual tragedies. Ally is the mother of a gorgeous, seven year old boy named Jake and wife to the kind-hearted and sweet, Joe. The latter finds himself in a sticky situation early on. Joe discovered a young boy in distress who had fallen into a frozen lake while attempting to save the family pet. Joe is an admirable man and he saves the kid and the dog but he also falls into the frozen water himself and is rushed off to intensive care.
David is Ally’s old flame and a jet-setting, rich man who is now married to the equally ambitious, Charlotte. The former is about to surprise his wife with a surprise trip to New York but he is struck down with a mysterious illness in a department store. David winds up at the same hospital as Joe and the doctors soon discover that David has a very serious heart condition.
Our Song has a great premise- it throws two strong women in the same waiting room as their husbands are in intensive care, lying in limbo with different ailments. Atkins has done an excellent job with the characterisation and telling of the story. She expertly weaves together flashbacks and scenes in the present day, which cover Ally and David’s courtship and break-up as well as when David and Charlotte get together and when Ally meets and falls for Joe. The story is a little simplistic at times but it is not lacking in sentiment or feeling. There are also a lot of rich details offered in the prose so the reader gets a good sense of the different individuals, especially when the same scene is retold from the other person’s perspective.
This novel is a well-told, beautiful and moving one but it does have some minor flaws. Part of the plot is predictable (but thankfully there are enough twists thrown into the mix to keep things interesting). The other issue is that sometimes the level of coincidence will require a major suspension of disbelief, which is a shame as the characters themselves feel rather authentic. But despite these small quibbles, the story is a veritable rollercoaster that is jam-packed with different emotions and lots of drama and tension. In sum, it will ultimately tug at your heartstrings and make you stop and realise how important your own loved ones are in the grander scheme of things.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/book-club-our-song