14 Nov 2016
in Book Review
Tags: activisit, aki, atomic bombing, atomic bombing survivor, book, books, brutal, caren stelson, cautionary tale, decimated, essential reading, exposure, fat man, fundamental chapter, gruesome, hardship, hibakusha, honest, human resilience, ichiro, infomration, informative, maps, nagasaki bomb survivor, narrative, non-fiction, nuclear fallout, nuclear weaponry, peace, perils of war, photographs, radiation poisoning, raw, respectful, review, reviews, sachiko, sachiko and her family, sachiko yasui, story, survivor, symptoms, toshi, tragedy, tragedy of war, war, world war 2 bombing, world war ii bombing, ww2 bombing, wwii bombing
The story of Sachiko and other hibakusha are important, as they chronicle a fundamental part of history. This book also supports Yasui’s work as an activist for peace, as it is a cautionary tale about nuclear weaponry, but also one of hardship and human resilience. At 144 pages there were elements that could have been elaborated on further, but it remains a well-researched piece of narrative non-fiction and essential reading for anyone interested in learning from the perils and tragedy of war.
To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201611/207492
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13 Oct 2016
in Film Review
Tags: archive footage, brian oakes, captured, complex, conflict journalist, conflict zones, doco, documentary, film, films, foreign correspondent, freelance journalist, good portrait of jim, good-natured, hostage, important, interviews, iraq, isis, james "jim" foley, james foley, james folley, jim foley, jim folley, john cantile, libya, murdered american journalist, murdered by isis, photo journalist, prisoner, prisoners, review, reviews, syria, talking head interviews, war, war journalist
Most people were introduced to James “Jim” Foley when he appeared in a bright orange jumpsuit and reports (and video) confirmed that he had been the first American citizen to be murdered by ISIS. It was a moment where the Islamic State had stripped away his humanity and reduced Foley to a casualty. In the film, Jim: The James Foley Story, those closest to him set about reclaiming Foley’s story and offering us a glimpse into his complex and good-natured character.
The documentary is directed and co-written by Foley’s childhood friend, Brian Oakes, who is making his directorial debut here. The story is like a labour of love for Jim, who is shown as a restless and principled guy. Foley was a disorganised man but he believed in the importance of his work in capturing the plight of those individuals who were displaced and affected by war and conflict zones, first in Iraq and Libya and ultimately in Syria.
This film is by no means a perfect one. It does gloss over and omit some things, like Foley’s relationship with British photo journalist, John Cantlie (who was captured with Jim and remains so) is not explored. There is also little airtime given to the work that was undertaken by governments in order to negotiate with the captors for the release of prisoners (several journalists from Continental Europe were released but how this was achieved is not explained here.) The addition of some of the key facts would have made for a more comprehensive and complete tale.
Jim: The James Foley Story does succeed in creating a good portrait of Jim. The film utilises some archive footage of Jim speaking at his alma mater as well as family photos and Foley’s work from the frontline. The latter contains harrowing images of deceased and injured Syrians. These images are graphic and hard to watch but it is what Foley wanted the world to see. The filmmaker of this documentary did make the right decision however, to show only a short excerpt of Foley’s video with ISIS and it thankfully left out the gruesome beheading.
This story also contains a series of re-enactments to give the audience an idea of the brutality Foley and others experienced while in captivity. The interviews with Foley’s fellow prisoners are particularly striking and illuminating. Like Foley’s friends, colleagues and family members, they describe Jim as a caring and self-less creature who put other’s needs before his own.
Jim: The James Foley Story is an important documentary that shines a light on the late conflict journalist, James Foley. It also make us stop and appreciate what journalists and civilians caught up in war and other conflicts have to deal with on a daily basis. This story is ultimately one that will make you pause as it tugs at your heartstrings and makes you want to cry over the darkness in the world. But if there is some hope to be had here it means that it will also make you want to reach out and embrace your loved ones.
Originally published on 11 October 2016 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/film-review-jim-the-james-foley-story-usa-2016-tugs-at-your-heartstrings/
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24 Nov 2015
in DVD Review
Tags: adaptation, drama, engaging, fine period drama, forbidden love, france, german solider, good perofrmances, intense, Irène Némirovsky, irene Irène Némirovsky, jewish woman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lieutenant Bruno von Falk, literary fiction, love, Lucile Angellier, margot robbie, matt charman, Matthias Schoenaerts, michelle williams, period drama, romance, romantic, Ruth Wilson, sam riley, saul dibb, subtle, Suite Française, suspenseful, tragedy, war, world war 2, world war II, writer, ww ii
Loving thy neighbour can be complicated in times of love and war. And World War II is the setting for the romantic, period drama, Suite Française. The film is a subtle and unoriginal story about an unlikely couple and their acting out of some forbidden love.
The film is directed by Saul Dibb (The Duchess) and he doubles as the script-writer along with Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies). The story is an adaption of a novella by the late writer, Irène Némirovsky who was originally born in Russia and was of Jewish origin. The story of the book’s author is actually an interesting one as she would eventually move to France and convert to Catholicism. She penned a few books and stories but she would die in 1942 from typhus at Auschwitz. Her manuscript for Dolce or what would later become, Suite Française was not discovered until years later by her daughter and became a best-seller in the naughties.
Suite Française is a work of literary fiction about World War II and tells the story about the good-hearted and well meaning, Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams). She is trapped and living with her icy and ruthless mother-in-law (Kristin Scott Thomas) at the latter’s country estate in France. Their domestic bliss is shattered when Lieutenant Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts) a German soldier moves in after the invasion and subsequent occupation of France. The Lieutenant proves to be a sensitive and cultured man who plays the piano.
Lucile and the officer fall in love with each other and are characters you can easily empathise with, but questions about collaboration and compassion abound. There is also a strong sub-plot where Sam Riley (Control) plays a poaching and injured farmer who kills a horrible German solider and is subsequently forced into hiding. The supporting cast also includes Ruth Wilson and our very own, Margot Robbie.
Suite Française is certainly not the most original story in a film genre that is already burgeoning with different ideas and stories. It’s also a tad confusing to see the actors speaking in English accents whilst portraying French people, especially as the German characters are allowed to speak in their native tongue. If viewers can get past these minor quibbles they can enjoy one intense and engaging romance and adaption. It’s a film that is suspenseful and engaging and boosted by a great cast and some good performances. In all, this is a fine period drama and tragedy showing how unfair life can be in love and war.
Originally published on 24 November 2015 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/suite-francaise-dvd-review/
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08 Jun 2015
in Book Review
Tags: 30th nsw premier's award winner, beautifully-written, book, books, change, detailed, dr. pamela freeman, drama, emotional, engaging, grief, griefing, heroine, historic novel, hope, independent woman, longing, love, naive country girl, novel, novels, pamela hart, review, reviews, romance, ruby hawkins, strong, the soldier's wife, tragedy, true cost of war, war, whirlwind romance, world war 1, ww1, wwI
The Soldier’s Wife is an intimate tale about World War I. The book is the 30thone to be written by NSW Premier’s Award-winner, Pamela Hart (who has also published children’s and adult fantasy novels under the name, Dr. Pamela Freeman). This is ultimately an emotional story about love, change, hope, grief and longing.
The narrative is mostly told from the perspective of Ruby Hawkins. She is a naïve girl who used to work in her parent’s shop in Bourke. After a whirlwind romance to the dreamy Jimmy she decides to relocate to Sydney so they can get married and she can see him off before he goes over to fight at Gallipoli.
In Sydney, Ruby undergoes a massive transformation after she takes a job in a timber merchant’s yard. It’s a man’s world but Ruby is determined and she learns a lot of lessons along the way. Eventually she blossoms into a smart and strong, independent woman who seems before her time.
The war wages on and Ruby is comforted by Jimmy’s letters that are mostly filled with love and yearning. There is some grief and tragedy along the way and it is interesting to see how the characters deal with this. Hart does an excellent job with the characterisation here, as she really gets at the underlying emotions felt by all of the individuals. She also excels in providing historical context to the setting because it makes us understand what women could and couldn’t do and Ruby’s journey and internal struggle is very much framed by all of this.
The ending to The Soldier’s Wife is a little too swift. But that said, the rest of the book is very detailed and engaging as it really gets at the true cost of war. The Soldier’s Wife is full of characters that feel real and are easy to relate to. It’s a beautifully-written romance and historical fiction book that is entertaining and hits more high notes than low.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/the-soldier-s-wife/9262889
25 May 2015
in Book Review
Tags: adventure story, aimless, at the water's edge, book, books, dark, descriptive prose, gothic romance, historic fiction, imagery, independent woman, lacks depth, loch ness, loch ness monster, lush, more depth, novel, novels, plodding, predictable, review, reviews, sara gruen, slow, story, subtle, tale, tale of redemption, transformation, unusual, verdant, vivid, war, water for elephants, world war 2, world war II
On paper, Sara Gruen’s novel, At The Water’s Edge holds a lot of promise. The book is by the same, famous author who penned Water for Elephants and Ape House. Plus, the plot itself has an original premise, three socialites travel to Scotland to find the Loch Ness Monster during World War II. Unfortunately at its worst, the book can be as disappointing as an unsuccessful attempt to find ol’ Nessie.
The story begins with three smug and entitled rich kids disgracing themselves on New Year’s Eve in 1942. These actions result in the couple- the witless Ellis, the weak, Maddie along with their friend, Hank being cut off by the former’s father, the bank-rolling Colonel. The latter is disappointed in his son, not least because the young man cannot serve in the war because he is colour blind.
The trio hatch a plan, if they can survive U-boat attacks and make it to Scotland, they can attempt to do what the Colonel failed, to find the Loch Ness Monster. Along the way they encounter an interesting cast of Scottish characters who teach Maddie real humility and allow her to gain a greater appreciation for ordinary things and the harsher realities of war. It is through these lessons that she discovers that her marriage is a sham, her husband is a drunk and an addict and she gets the courage to become her own, independent woman.
Gruen’s writing is excellent, there is some very vivid imagery and descriptive prose. The characters could have been made a little more likeable or they could have had some extra weight added to them (at times this book feels like little more than three fish out of water). Some of the elements in the plot require a major suspension of disbelief while other parts are plodding and predictable.
At The Water’s Edge is pleasant and it knits together some different genres, like historic fiction, a gothic romance, a tale of redemption and at times even an adventure story. But there are points when things are a little too subtle and aimless which prevent things from really sticking, overall. There are some people who may like this dark and unusual tale that is set in a lush verdant environment, but one can’t help but think that there should’ve been a little something more here, but perhaps this was lost in the depths of a Scottish river.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/at-the-water-s-edge/9176280/
12 Apr 2015
in Film Review
Tags: a royal affair, activist, alicia vikander, beautiful, british, colin morgan, coming-of-age, complex, determined, devestation, drama, extraordinary spirit, feminist, film, films, frontline, gritty, haunt, headstrong, human suffering, independent woman, james kent, kit harington, misfortune, oxford, pacifist, period drama, raw, rebellious, resonate, respectful, restrained, review, reviews, role model, shines, sumptuous, taron egerton, testament of youth, trailblazer, upper middle class, vera britain, vera brittain, volunteer nurse, war, warm, well-crafted, western front, world war 1, world war I, world war one, ww1, wwI
Vera Brittain was a feminist trailblazer, pacifist and activist. Her memoir about World War I, Testament Of Youth, was a detailed account of her coming of age and experience as a volunteer nurse on the frontline.
Her story has recently received its second adaptation (the first was as a TV series decades ago), and while it’s not a seamless transition to the silver screen for director James Kent, it is still a good and worthy story.
This period drama stars Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair) as the rebellious, headstrong and determined Brittain. Vikander absolutely shines in this role and encapsulates the heroine’s extraordinary spirit with a classy but respectful air as well as showcasing the full extent of her emotional struggles. Brittain is no saint but thanks to Vikander she is portrayed as an amazing, independent woman and role model.
The costumes in this film are quite sumptuous at times and the cinematography is warm and beautiful during the periods of peace, and raw and gritty during the war. Brittain had had a promising career awaiting her after she passed the Oxford entrance exam but she puts this all on hold after her brother Edward (Taron Egerton); his friend, Victor (Colin Morgan); and Brittain’s fiancé Roland (Game Of Thrones’ Kit Harington) enlist and are sent to the Western front.
Testament Of Youth offers a unique, complex and female perspective on the devastation of war. It shows the life of an upper-middle-class British family and lovers struck by tragedy (and the Swedish-born Vikander does a great job with the accent). The film is well-crafted and mostly true to the memoir, and elegant and restrained in its telling. In short, this film is something that will continue to haunt and resonate; a touching reflection on the human suffering and misfortune that is typical of war.
Originally published on 8 April 2015 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/arts/testament-youth
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