I, Daniel Blake

Ali I Daniel BlakeI, Daniel Blake is the most moving film I have  watched  in years. The reviews on the front cover say it all. It is a sadly realistic film with no melodrama, violence or sex but it had me crying when I am not a crier!  It is amazing that a film around the tedium and frustration of dealing with bureaucracy and the tragedy that can result, can have such an effect. It touches something deep within and  reminds us that we could easily find ourselves in this vulnerable position in this harsh world.

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Suite Francaise

Amy Suite FrancaiseThough only two parts of the suite were finished before the author was taken from her family and killed in a concentration camp in 1942, the scale of this novel is still so grand. In the first part, people flee Paris as the Germans approach, and in the second, a country village is occupied. The setting is breathtakingly beautiful, the different reactions to the situation are raw, shocking, tender, brutal and very real. It’s hard to separate the book from the author’s real life tragedy, and why should we? The film focuses on just one part of the book, where it is set in the country village. Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas ( American, Belgian and English) do a great job playing the French and German characters and it is a moving film.

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Woman in gold

Tracey - Woman in Gold

Starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.

This is a true story about a an elderly Jewish woman – Maria Altman , played by Helen Mirren – who embarks on a quest to reclaim valuable family artworks including a world famous painting in oil, silver and gold of her aunt – ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1’ by Gustav Klimt –  stolen by the Nazis during WW2.

She hires a young inexperienced lawyer who risks his newly acquired job with a reputable law firm to help Maria fight the Austrian Government and the gallery who held not only this particular painting but many works that were stolen from their Jewish owners during the war. The gallery refused to return the stolen works to their owners or acknowledge a theft had taken place. Continue reading

Jane Eyre

Amy Jane Eyre(The 1983 version with Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke). The library owns seven film/miniseries adaptations of Jane Eyre (someone kept all the 2006 versions!), and this is one of my favourites. It was made in the early 80s, so the film quality isn’t great, sometimes it’s unintentionally funny, and Jane is too old, but that goes for most of the versions. Timothy Dalton plays a great Mr Rochester and the dialogue is often straight from the book; it’s a very faithful version. Everyone should watch it because it’s Jane Eyre, and men will especially love it because James Bond is in it

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Helen PhilomenaA young teenage girl, Philomena, becomes pregnant out of wedlock in 1952 and was sent to a convent to have her baby. When her baby, Anthony, was a toddler the nuns took the child away, putting him up for adoption in the United States. For the next 50 years Philomena searched for her son. When a former BBC journalist learns of her story they travel together in search for Anthony. Lots of twists and turns in this story. Also, have your tissues ready – a real tear jerker!

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Case histories

Amy Case HistoriesCase Histories is the television adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie detective series. I really love the books, and I didn’t dislike the TV series, but I didn’t love it. Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy!) plays Jackson Brodie, a private detective in beautiful Edinburgh. He tends to stumble across mysteries that are old, with current implications. The scenery is great, there are lots of reconcilable British actors, but sometimes I wasn’t sure I could actually follow what was going on. Back to the books….

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Doctor Thorne

amy-dr-thorneBased on an Anthony Trollope novel, adapted by Downton Abbey’s creator Julian Fellowes, Dr Thorne is a bright, sweet, romantic period drama. The scenery and costumes are beautiful, the happiest of endings is never in doubt and it is a lovely experience all round.

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Betty & Coretta

betty-and-corettaThis is a television movie based on the lives of Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King, the wives, and then widows of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. It starts off while their husbands are still alive and goes on to show their struggles after the assassinations, and how they continued the fight. It’s a fascinating look at a lesser known aspect of the civil rights movement in the US.

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‘Room’ – a film directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Emma Donoghue based on her novel of the same name had me glued to my TV screen from the opening scene!

Room is home to Jack (played by Jacob Tremblay) who has just turned 5 years old. He is a typical curious, wide-eyed, innocent little boy who doesn’t believe that there is any other world outside of the 4 walls of this small room where he was born.

Room is a prison to his Ma where she has been held hostage for the past 7 years, having been abducted and exploited by ‘Old Nick’. It is where she nurtures and protects her son, no matter the cost. Continue reading

Divergent by Veronica Roth

amy-divergentI borrowed the movie first to watch with my teenaged daughter, a bonding thing, and enjoyed it enough to give the books a go. Divergent is a Young Adult, dystopian series with a kind of silly premise. Everyone belongs to a faction where they emphasise one quality over all the others, and our heroine doesn’t fit just one mold.  The story and language aren’t sophisticated, in fact I think the film did a better job of explaining some aspects, but it is certainly engaging. It was nice to read of a teenaged girl’s struggles being more about right and wrong, who she is and should be, than about which boy to love. I couldn’t have a steady diet of this sort of thing, but I really enjoyed it and will finish the series.

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