Friday, February 20, 2015

The 2015 Oscar Nominations - One Movie-lover's Opinion

I love watching movies. And I like watching the award shows, but think they are only really worth watching if you have seen the nominated movies, so for the last few years I have made an effort to try and see at least all the Best Picture nominations prior to the Oscars.

This year I thought I wasn’t going to make it given that Selma disappeared from my local screens before I had a chance to see it. Fortunately it popped up at a mid-town Manhattan theater this week so I was able to cross it off the list—just in time given the Oscar ceremony is on this Sunday (22nd February).

Of the eight movies nominated there weren’t any that I disliked but there were definitely some that would not make my list of top movies for the year.

My favorites were TheTheory of Everything, American Sniper and Whiplash, each in their own way powerful depictions of human nature backed up by extraordinary performances from Eddie Redmayne, Bradley Cooper and JK Simmons.  

Next would be TheImitation Game  and Selma both of which were fascinating from the historical perspective and well acted but didn’t quite provide the ‘wow’ feeling at the end that signals I’m really impressed.

Then there is Boyhood. Yes, the idea was novel – use the same boy actor over 12 years as he matures, but the storyline was almost non-existent. I watched this one On demand at home and thought it was enjoyable enough but was pleased I hadn’t gone to see it at a theater.  I fail to see what the huge attraction is that puts it in the Best Picture category.

Which leaves The GrandBudapest Hotel and Birdman. Both had their positive points, the magnificent sets, scenery and costumes of The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Michael Keaton, Emma Stone and Edward Norton’s performances in Birdman, but neither story appealed. I have to admit I’m not a fan of the type of comedy in The Grand Budapest Hotel—if it hadn’t been nominated I probably wouldn’t have watched it—and  I thought the magical elements in Birdman were both unnecessary and detracted from the story.

The one movie that I was surprised not to see on the list was Foxcatcher. Despite not being at all interested in wrestling, I thought it was an excellent movie. Steve Carell’s performance was mind-blowing, he was so creepy, I felt myself tense up whenever he came on screen. And strangely, it has a Best Director nomination which often goes along with a Best Picture nod while American Sniper, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash and Selma have all been left out of that category.

So who would I like to see win? I’ll be rooting for The Theory of Everything or American Sniper for Best Picture, Eddie Redmayne or Bradley Cooper for Best Actor, Julianna Moore for Best Actress (Still Alice), JKK Simmons for Best Supporting Actor,  Emma Stone for Best Supporting Actress and Foxcatcher for Best Director.  

What about you? What were your favorite movies this year?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dresden - A City Rebuilt

Last year during a trip to Germany I had the opportunity to visit Dresden. At the time all I knew about the city was that it had been considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe until it was devastated by Allied bombings during World War II.  The bombings, which took place between February 13th  and February 15th 1945 killed thousands of people and left many of the historic buildings in ruin.

After the war Dresden became part of East Germany. Some of the less damaged buildings were patched up and some were replaced by bland modern buildings, but the rest were left as ruins and it was only after the reunification of Germany that reconstruction began in earnest.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Making Dreams Come True - Part 2

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

It's been almost two years since I blogged about my ambition to travel around America by train. At the time I hoped that 2014 would be the year I achieved that dream, but general life and the unexpected opportunity to visit Berlin over the holidays and then Rio later in the year meant plans had to be put on hold. Maybe it was just as well, because in the interim I have found a willing travel companion - my sister, who will come over from England this spring and accompany me on this great adventure.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Joy Of Learning

The Joy of Learning

"I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught."
                                                                                                 - Winston Churchill

Yes, I did just use the words joy and learning in the same sentence!

 I’ve always loved learning though I have to admit school was a disappointment. Maybe it's because I like to work at my own pace, but I always found the traditional classroom setting uninspiring, which is why the quote above resonates with me. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fifteen Tax Deductions for Writers to Consider

 “The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.”
                                                                                                                          - Mark Twain

The holidays are over - it’s time to get back to work and, unfortunately for many of us, to confront the annual ritual of tax returns.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Where Did The Time Go?

Time flies when you're having fun - so the saying goes - which means I must have been having lots of fun the last few weeks because I've just realized it is well over a month since I last put up a new post. 

Where did the time go? Mostly on finishing the last few chapters of my latest novel which is tentatively titled Motive for Revenge and is a sequel to Ulterior Motives. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rio - Exercise Made Easy

As someone who spends a great part of the day sitting, either working or writing, I'm always on the look-out for ways to incorporate exercise into my day. Usually it comes down to either going to the gym or, if I want outdoor exercise, walking, which might explain why I was so impressed with the outdoor gyms ( or Academia as they are known in Brazil) which are a common sight in Rio.