Australia, United Kingdom · 265 Days · 29 Moments · January 2018

My “25” challenge


28 September 2018

Book 12: The Lesser Bohemians, Eimear McBride
Film 14: “Dark River” dir Clio Bernard

15 September 2018

Film 13: Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh
Film 12: The Darkest Hour, Joe Wright
Film 11: Death of Stalin, Armando Iannucci
Film 9: The Square
Book 11: Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Book 10: To Throw Away Unopened - Viv Albertine
Book 9 - Clothes clothes clothes, music music music, boys boys boys - Viv Albertine
Book 8 - Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby
Book 7 - Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

22 April 2018

Film 8: The Wailing, Na Hong-Jin

19 April 2018

Book 6: The Power, Naomi Alderman

16 April 2018

Play 4: Love and Information, Caryl Churchill

10 April 2018

Film 7: Annihilation, Alex Garland
Book 5: Persepolis, Marjane Strapani

2 April 2018

Film 6: The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro
Film 5: Paddington 2, Paul King
Film 4: A Touch Of Evil, Orson Welles
Play 3 - Tamburlaine the Great, parts 1 & 2, Christopher Marlowe
Book 4: If on a winter’s night a traveller, Italo Calvino A book about books, really. The English literature student in me geeked out about it - a novel wherein the main storyline is a characterising/narrativising of reading and writing theories. And Calvino almost peacocks his writing genius by having every alternating chapter an opening or extract from a completely different novel (of his own creation) and each one gripping you, and making you want to continue reading the story, only to be rudely interrupted (as is the protagonist, ‘the reader’ in the other chapters). But I couldn’t be bothered to delve into it further and figure out the literary specifics. If I was studying it, it probably could have been far more fascinating, but on the surface level it got a bit tedious and I knew ultimately that I was often missing the real point. Writing 4/5 Unputdowness 2/5 Emotional resonance 2/5 Literary worth/worldly 4/5 Recommend to a friend 1/5 Total 13/25

25 February 2018

Book 3: The Book of Dust, Philip Pullman It’s been a LONG time since I read His Dark Materials. And what I rarely admit is that when I read those aged 12–14, it never once occurred to me that they were a religious allegory, influenced by Milton, in a new fantasy epic guise. I just loved Lyra and Will and wanted my own Daemon. And you know what? Nothing’s changed. Malcolm’s adventures to deliver baby Lyra into safety were thrilling and full of heart. I perhaps saw a few more metaphors but not enough to warrant caring for. I found the drift into the supernatural “other worlds” rather clunky and odd, as if he had added them in to remind us that his tales span across numerous dimensions and is based on Spenser’s Faery Queen. But I will impatiently await the next two instalments and will then, no doubt, return to the original trilogy. Writing 3/5 (not usual Pulman standard) Unputdowness 4/5 Emotional resonance 4/5 Literary worth/worldly 4/5 Recommend to a friend 4/5 Total 19/25

29 January 2018

Film 3: Hail Caesar, Dir. Coen Brothers Their most recent pastiche/homage to the Hollywood Golden Era felt like a real all-rounder; slick, funny and clever, it mocks the era with truthfulness but kindness. Extremely strong performances. Raef Fiennes and Alden Ehrenreich as English thesp director meeting Wild West stunt man was pure class. “Would that it twere so simple...” 3/5 - script 5/5 - acting 4/5 - direction & cinematography 2/5 - resonance (political and emotional) 3/5 - recommend to a friend Total = 17/25
Play 2: The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare Continuing my theme of “plays I secretly haven’t read” is Shakespeare’s early foray into the mistaken identity gag. And by god does he forage. Deeply and extensively in the same square foot of forest until it becomes dry, infertile and inhabitable. It is LITERALLY a one joke play. Which is mad. And maddening. But it’s good to see how it inspired future, much better plays. And although at times I sighed and pulled at my hair for reading the same joke played out in yet another scenario, it did remind me of Monty Python’s ability to stretch out a gag so far that it goes from funny-unfunny-mysidesaresplittingsomuchiactuallyneedsurgery. So actually, left in the right hands, this could be fantastic. 2/5 - writing / plot 2/5 - characters/actability 2/5 - emotional resonance 0/5 - worldly relevance 4/5 - do I want to see it? Total: 10/25

18 January 2018

Book 2: Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson I confess, I have never actually read a non-fiction book cover to cover. Even if I find it interesting I find it hard to maintain momentum. Could this one crack the curse? It seemed apt; I miss home immensely and could do with a laugh. Did it change my opinion on non-fiction? No. Did I finish it?! Yes, with a few pep-talks en route. Did i enjoy it? Immensely, but I was far more entertained by Bryson’s acute observations of people than of places. I also thought he should really learn a thing about travelling if he wants to avoid disappointment in the future. I could tell you straight away not to go to a shopping centre in Milton Keynes?! I find it bizarre that he never asks for personal recommendations from the locals - that’s the UK in a nutshell, on the surface it’s shit but go down a windy lane and it’s a gem. 4/5 writing 2/5 unputdownness 3/5 emosh resonance 2/5 literary worth/worldly resonance 3/5 recommend to a friend Total 14/25

14 January 2018

Film 2: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, dir. Martin McDonagh A classic McDonagh script - dark comedy with a sensitive heart - but this was perhaps less funny and surprisingly more touching than I expected. Frances McDormand is sensational, Sam Rockwell a masterclass in playing someone so believably thick, Woody Harrelson was a surprise, not the brutish cop I expected but an utter gentleman - if only his wife had been better cast it would have been a full house of perfect performances. It’s all about Mildred though, and I continue to be impressed by any film/tv which presents to us a real human woman, warts an’ all. Mildred is strong, but she’s often wrong - and justified in being so. And that’s ok. That’s real. And now is the time for real women - not sexy women, not feisty women; normally abnormal, brilliant, maddening, failing, fighting, whole fucking women. 4/5- script 5/5 acting 4/5 direction & cinematography 4/5 - resonance 4/5 - recommend Total 21/25

7 January 2018

Film 1: Get Out, Jordan Peele Using genre to comment on the true horror of social appropriation and institutionalised racism. Brit actor Daniel Kaluuya is superb. Hot Fuzz meets Stepford Wives meets Black Mirror. Creepy as f***. 5/5 - script 5/5 - acting 4/5 - direction & cinematography 4/5 - resonance (political and emotional) 5/5 - recommend to a friend Total = 23/25
Play 1: The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde True Oscar Wilde wit, puns and whimsy. His ability to, in the space of one small quip, both utterly damn a social trope whilst also undermine his own commentary through sheer irreverence is genius. I feel like one read-through only scratched the surface. Even so, I found it to be very very silly, and my favourite Wilde by a long way. I only wonder how I would do it, and really I think I need to see it done by the big dogs in order to fully understand how to go about nailing text like this. 5/5 - writing / plot 4/5 - characters/actability 3/5 - emotional resonance 2/5 - worldly relevance 5/5 - do I want to see it? Total = 19/25
Book 1 Sarah Waters, Fingersmith Trapped in a web of trickery and betrayal is a pearl. That is the motif Waters returns to to capture the purity of love between Maud and Susan (or Susan and Maud...) Victorian England is presented as a place where the female narrative is limited and united by a need to escape one’s fate, be that poverty or gentrified society. In each layer of deception that our heroines find themselves caught in, another woman’s desperation is unravelled, and it is only when “Gentleman” is dealt with that their truths have space to unravel, and some sense of freedom can be achieved. I was duped at every twist, had no idea how it would play out and couldn’t put the thing down. Waters’ imagery is so powerful and visceral, you can taste her words, but they never stand in the way of the plot, just serve it...deliciously. 5/5 - writing 5/5 - unputdownness 3/5 - emotional resonance 3/5 - literary worth/worldly relevance 4/5 - recommend to a friend Total = 20/25