Compelling four part TV series by Peter Kosminsky about a young London woman's journey to present day Israel told in parallel to her ailing grandfather's diary account of his time in Palestine at the end of World War 2. Erin (Claire Foy) discovers her grandfather's diary and travels to Israel where she unravels his story and the story of Israel's bloody rebirth in the 1940s. Great drama and controversial history (controversial for some, anyway), let down by a slightly implausible narrative ploy (the piecemeal reading of the diary over weeks of Erin's time both in London before she sets out on her journey and then in Israel: one presumes she might have read the whole diary before setting off on her journey!). Convincing parallels are drawn between present day Palestinian terrorism in Israel and Zionist terrorism in Palestine in the 1940s.
Powerful drama about a splintered family (Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte) combined with some quite awesome mixed martial arts! What more could you ask? Hardy and Edgerton are superb both in and out of the cage, and Nolte's performance as their father - trying to repair a family that he broke through years of alchohol abuse - is typically moving.
Superb four part documentary about Shakespeare by the always enthusiastic Michael Wood. History and literature come together with Wood's insightful reading of the plays in their historical, biographical and literary contexts, creating a convincing picture of the historical Shakespeare. An excellent rebuttal to Roland Emmerich's travesty, Anonymous (2011).
Outstanding movie about the brutality and cruelty of war inflicted on civilian populations and the power of forgiveness to break the cycle of hatred and revenge. Superbly cast and directed with an artfully crafted screenplay that flicks back and forth between the heroine's past and her childrens' present as they set out to discover her unspoken past, moving inexorably to a shocking revelation. If there is a flaw, it is the plot's dependency on one or two implausibilities (notably the heroine's survival of the deed around which the plot hinges), but this is no different to the implausibility of Greek tragedy, and the result is a masterful, humanist triumph.
In the style of his previous novels Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson delivers a fast paced, page turning, high tech thriller featuring the global war on terror, virtual multiplayer gaming, social media, computer hackers, mobsters, entrepreneurs, religious fundamentalists, and frequent gun use. Reamde is an enjoyable ride, but lacks his usual depth.
Liam Neeson delivers a stand out performance as a broken man leading a rough bunch of oil-rig operators after their plane crashes into the Alaskan wilderness. The crash survivors must fight off a pack of wolves and the freezing elements to survive. What at first appears to be a standard Hollywood story becomes something much more. Existence, belief, hope and love are all explored as the wolves attack.
Well paced action thriller starring Sam Worthington. A man attempts to prove his innocence by faking a suicide attempt. Some nice twists are let down by a cheesy ending. Still worth a look.
Based on John le Carré's classic spy novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is an international thriller set during the Cold War in the 70s. Gary Oldman turns in a powerful performance as a disgraced British spy, George Smiley, rehired by MI6 to track down a mole working for the Russians. The production is magnificant (the 70s never looked so grim), the cast outstanding, and the plot subtle and elusive. Watch carefully to take it all in.
John: Easily the worst Sherlock Holmes adaptation in years. Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson attempt to outwit the evil Professor Moriarty. It's hard to care about anything in this film. Nothing is taken seriously and even the presence of comic actor Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes fails to help. Director Guy Ritchie's original Sherlock film was great, his follow up is a mess.
Listened to the audiobook (read by Kate Reading) and suspect I wouldn't have read beyond the first chapter. "Reads" like a YA novel but with the extreme violence and sex of a pulp horror. Weak writing riddled with cliches and stock phrases, a plot with more holes than a Swiss cheese, and very unlikely characters. However, the story is compelling enough and its re-imagining of Celtic myth and legend and Christianity was just sufficient to hold my interest.
Gerard: Vast improvement over MI3. Superb action and an utterly ridiculous plot that is redeemed by not taking itself seriously in the slightest. Great fun.
Started off a little slowly and the main character, Gideon Dixon, takes some warming to, but Age of Odin evolves into a highly enjoyable reworking of Norse mythology and the End of Days (well, Ragnarok) in a modern setting. Lovegrove works with the familiar idea that we create gods through our belief in them, but finds otherwise interesting ways to bring Norse mythology into our time.
Steven Speilberg strikes again. Cheesy, family based science fiction with excellent special effects but no sense and extremely stupid dialogue. Cliched characters that make you hope that the dinosaurs will prevail.
Ian Banks once again expands his Culture series. This is Space Opera at its best. Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her body markings bearing witness to a family shame. With the help of the Culture, she tries to avenge her past.
Google and Samsung's latest phone, the Google Nexus Prime, with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) makes the iPhone look dull. May even give Samsung's powerful Galaxy S2 a run for its money.
John: Roland Emmerich questions the identity of Shakespeare in a barely passable conspiracy theory with so many historical plot holes you won't believe a thing. The upcoming Foundation movie, also to be directed by Emmerich, could be in trouble if this is the best he can do when the script is more important than the special effects.