Tag Archives: films

Anna Karenina Trailer

When I was fourteen my great Auntie gave me a copy of Anna Karenina. I’m not a huge fan of Keira Knightley (almost certainly jealousy…) but I’m looking forward to seeing the adaptation that she stars in when it comes out later this year. Some of the scenes were filmed in Didcot Parkway train station which is very  near where I work. Some of my friends and I considered attending the open casting for extras but we weren’t sure whether we were, as the advert requested, “of Eastern European appearance”.

Still not sure what that is… but look! The trailer! How exciting!

I will have to dig out my copy of the book when I next visit Wales.


The Hunger Games are a Battle Royale Rip Off…

….Real or not real?

Not real. In fact, this statement has been bugging me all week.

I started reading the books when our editorial assistant lent me the first after having enjoyed it herself. I got hooked, not only is it compelling reading, but FINALLY a young adult heroine who has some guts, fight and more important things to worry about than the love triangle she’s in.

For anyone who has been hiding under a rock with no access to any form of media, The Hunger Games has been accused of being a Battle Royale rip off because it features a contest in which teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 are forced to fight to the death, the winner being the survivor. In both books this is a means of controlling the populations of futuristic dystopias, in The Hunger Games this is overt, the games are a punishment for an uprising by the thirteen districts 75 years before, in Battle Royale it’s less overt- the government pretend it’s a military experiment.

As a result of this similarity, people have called The Hunger Games a rip off of Battle Royale. I guess it is then. In the same way that Battle Royale is a rip off of concepts like The Running Man and television programmes like Sliders which used the story line of game shows in which people fight to the death or struggle for survival prior to the publication of Battle Royale in 1999. But then if that makes any of these works bald-faced rip offs, then someone needs to have a word with Mr Shakespeare’s agents or estate because, damn, people have been ripping off the whole star-crossed lover thing that he did in Romeo and Juliet for centuries now. What? What do you mean he ripped it off from someone else?

I guess the point with any story or film is, does a work that shares a concept with a novel as striking as Battle Royale have enough originality and flair to pull it off successfully in its own right? I would argue that The Hunger Games does. The cultural commentary is less than subtle but sharp as a knife as it parodies the current obsession with reality TV and the image of its “stars”, the Capitol’s investment in Showmances and intrigues inviting the reader to take a clinical look at their own participation in a less extreme form of this culture (do any of you or have any of you watched The Hills, Jersey Shore, Big Brother or Castaway by any chance?)

If I was going to compare Suzanne Collins’ efforts with The Hunger Games to anything, it wouldn’t be Battle Royale, that’s too obvious and doesn’t do The Hunger Games justice. In many ways they are crueller and uglier than the world of Battle Royale. Terrible, yes, that adults should send children to kill each other to control a populace. Worse still that the same adults should watch it for sport. But to have adult Gamemakers pushing buttons which starve, suffocate and burn children as they are taunted by birds which scream with the voices of their loved ones being tortured? That’s worse still.

For me, The Hunger Games is like Margret Attwood for young adults with Katniss Evergreen as a Handmaid who is thrust to the forefront to become a symbol of hope in a world which seeks to destroy her. The mutations were like echoes from Oryx and Crake to me, an abuse of science which lead to pain and suffering for mankind. The smoking borders of the legendary district 13 were like the nuclear fields that characters were sent to toll in when they were deemed of no future use to society in The Handmaid’s Tale.

So are The Hunger Games a blatant rip off of Battle Royale? Only if you are too crude to read the subtleties. I enjoyed them immensely and will be going to see the film on Saturday. And possibly taking archery lessons, though Holley Maher assures me that these side effects are common and will pass with time…

Wuthering Heights Trailer (Andrea Arnold version)

I cannot wait to see this! One of my favourite books ever, and it can hardly be worse than the Juliet Binoche version, can it?

Speaking of film adaptations, I finally got around to watching Stardust in hospital (I got out yesterday). The only thing I didn’t like about the film was that I actually came really close to rupturing the stitches in my donor site by laughing too much.

One Day- David Nicholls

What did you do on July 15th? Maybe you fell in love, maybe your heart broke, maybe you were fired, maybe your dreams came true, maybe you had a fight with your best friend. Maybe your life changed forever. Maybe all of these.

July 15th 1988, Dexter and Emma spend the night of their graduation in bed kissing and talking knowing that afterwards they have to go on with their very different lives, Dexter will go travelling and on with his privileged middle class existence, Emma back to her parents’ home in Leeds. Neither really expects to see the other again, but this is the start of a friendship and love that will last the rest of their lives. One Day tracks their relationship through the next twenty years, always on July 15th.

This was a great book and cleverly written by David Nicholls who also wrote Starter for Ten. I’m sure you’ve heard the massive praise for this book (another one that had me laughing and crying in public) so I just thought I’d share my thoughts on the book very quickly.

Though I really enjoyed the book and liked the characters an awful lot, I find David Nicholls’ writing style a bit strange. His background is in acting and television, and his writing is somehow reminiscent of this, focusing on the establishment of scenes, juxtaposing Emma and Dexter’s situations across the years in a way which is almost visual, and with fantastic dialogue which bounces back and forth in a manner that is reminiscent of sit com banter, funny, but somehow artificial. It reminded me of a diluted literary version of my favourite film, Jeux D’Enfants, the characters unable to acknowledge their real emotions and throwing unnecessary obstacles in the way of their love.The film version, wow that was fast...

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the book was really engaging, presenting characters who are loveable not because of their flaws, but because of the quirky charms that shine through regardless. In a way it’s Starter For Ten grown up. The class conflicts, the arrogant little tosser, the brainy girl, the feeling of being lost and found. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I’ve read an author like David Nicholls for capturing the British university experience, and this seems to be an extension of this. I fully sympathise with Emma’s awkwardness, and understand the sarcasm she uses to cover her shyness and unease about life not panning out as she had imagined upon collecting her first class honours. I can even relate to the attempts at inspirational speeches to students who just don’t want to get along.

You can’t miss the hype surrounding this book, even if you missed that it won the Galaxy Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award and the mentions in TV and Radio as the must read book of 2010 there have been countless WordPress reviews of it. The book certainly does not disappoint even after all these accolades. Unsurprisingly, the film adaptation is already in the works, and names like Anne Hathaway (Emma), Jim Sturgess (Dexter) and Romola Garai (Sylvie) mean that it will be a massive box office hit, though the casting of a flawless American smiley smiley beauty as Emma is sure to raise quite a few eyebrows.