Review: Michael Morpurgo – War Horse

photoAfter seeing War Horse at the cinema a couple of weeks ago, I was expecting this book to be brilliant and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a kids book, so it was very easy reading and didn’t take too long, but it was entertaining and very well written. I think it would definitely be aimed at older children, some parts were quite upsetting.

As I expected, I couldn’t help but compare the book to the film, and I did find myself waiting for certain things to happen. The film was definitely more dramatic than the book, but I suppose that’s what happens on the big screen. With a book you can fill in the story with your own imagination, but with a film they tend to spell it all out for you.

The book was slightly different from the film in that it was written completely from the perspective of Joey (the horse). It’s quite unusual for books that I read to be narrated by a non-human character, but I felt it really made this book more effective. You can feel how completely helpless he is caught up in the war, and when he’s stuck in the middle of no-man’s land, you can sense the confusion and nervousness more than you could in the film when seeing the horse through the soldiers in the trenches.

I was glad to find that one of my favourite lines in the film was actually from the book. When Joey is in no-man’s land, a soldier goes out to get him from each of the English and German trenches. It’s quite a tense moment in the book as the German soldier gets to Joey first, and you immediately think that Joey and Albert will never be reunited. However, they flip a coin to decide who gets to take Joey, and this quote from the German when he loses made me smile:

“That’s the face of my Kaiser looking up at me from the mud, and he does not look pleased with me. So I am afraid you have won.”

As it’s a kids book, you can probably tell how it ends, but not without a few hiccups along the way, including Joey being struck down with tetanus and almost being sold away from the Army in an auction at the end of the war.

All in all, I’m very glad that I read this book, although as usual I wish I had read it before I saw the film – when will I learn?! I do think after reading the book that the film was a very good book-film adaptation, one of the best I’ve seen in a while.

5-5

 

Now Reading: Michael Morpurgo – War Horse

photoThis book is one that I stole borrowed from the bookshelf in my brother’s room. I recently went to see the film at the cinema and I really loved it, one of the best films I’ve seen in a while. It’s not the usual way that I do things, I usually like to read the book before I go see the film, but I wanted to make sure that I saw it before it dropped out of the cinema. I didn’t want a repeat of Jane Eyre all over again, where it took me too long to read the book and the film had stopped showing.

I know that this is a kids book, but I wanted a change from the last book and this one seemed perfect. I’ll try not to compare it to the film while I’m reading it, but I guess that’s unavoidable…

Moneyball…Finally!

moneyball-posterFinally, about 2 months after it came out in America, and after I’ve read countless reviews, I went to see Moneyball yesterday. It came out on Friday, and the Saturday showing only had 6 people in (including me and my Dad). I did think that might be the case though, as the film was purely about baseball, and not many English people are that interested. I’m guessing Brad Pitt is the main reason the film is even showing in the UK.

It was really cool seeing baseball on the big screen, and I loved the film. Having read the book, I sort of knew what to expect, but I think the film was really well made. Brad Pitt played a great Billy Beane and Jonah Hill was great! I loved the way that they interspersed real clips of baseball with the film, to give it that authenticity, but then reproduced some great shots from different angles (like David Justice chasing the ball into the corner, the camera angle on that was so unusual from normal baseball viewing).
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One thing that I found quite interesting (if that’s how it really happens), is how General Managers call each other up to discuss trades. I don’t know if it’s at all like the movie, but I like the idea of Billy Beane calling Mark Shapiro and saying ‘ I need a outfielder, what have you got…’

It’s hard to pick a favourite part from the film, but I loved the end where Billy puts in the CD with the song his daughter (played by Kerris Dorsey) recorded for him. The 20th consecutive win was also pretty great. Not being a baseball fan in 2002, I never saw that, but I found myself genuinely caught up in the excitement, especially when Scott Hatteberg hit the walk off home run – great moment! My favourite quote from the film had to be this exchange at Hatteberg’s house:
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Billy Beane: You don’t know how to play first base?
Scott Hatteberg: That’s right.
Billy Beane: It’s not that hard, Scott. Tell him, Wash.
Ron Washington: It’s incredibly hard.
Billy Beane: Hey, anything worth doing is. And we’re gonna teach you.

According to Ron Washington, that conversation did actually happen, just not at Hatteberg’s house.

moneyball-brad-pitt-jonah-hillNow the film was great, the experience at Cineworld, not so much. I usually go to the Vue, but the film wasn’t showing at the right time, won’t be making that decision again. When we got there, they let us in to the film 20 minutes late because they took too long cleaning up from the film before, but they had already turned off all the lights and started playing the trailers. Not great for my disabled Dad to walk up the stairs in the dark. Then about 5 minutes before the end, they dragged in all the cleaning trolleys and stood in the entrance talking on walkie-talkies. Obviously in a rush to get us out of there, and didn’t really care about the 6 of us who were actually interested in the film and how it ended.

I’ll leave you with this clip of Kerris Dorsey singing The Show with some clips from the film, great voice!

It’s not often I say this but…

the-help-poster-1I went to see The Help today and it was as good as the book. I read the book earlier this year, before I found out it was going to be released as a film. It was a great book, even made me cry in places. I managed to avoid the tears in the film though, although not sure Cameron did! 😛

If you’ve not read the book, it’s about the civil rights movement in America in the 1960’s. Set in Jackson, Mississippi, it’s about an aspiring journalist (Emma Stone) who decides to write a book about the hardships experienced by the black maids employed by well-off white families, including her own.

the-help-movieFor me, it was quite hard to believe that it was only 50 years ago that these situations actually happened, the idea of building separate toilets for ‘coloureds’ to use is mind boggling, never mind the idea of labelling them ‘coloureds’. It’s a great film about the courage of those involved in the civil rights movement, the world would have been a very different place without them!

The acting in the film was amazing – Emma Stone played a brilliant Skeeter, and Viola Davies as Aibileen was simply the-help-actresseswonderful! And best of all, unlike the last book to film adaptation I saw, the accents were spot on! It did surprise me how different Viola Davies looked out of character when I found this picture, she looks a lot younger than I thought she was – another testament to her acting!

If you’re interested in seeing the film, check out the trailer:

Now Reading: Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre

Jon Richardson’s book was just as I expected, honest, a little grumpy and completely hilarious. The book was pretty much just a stream of consciousness, and there were a lot of times reading the book that I found myself nodding in agreement with what he was saying. It was a lot like his stand-up or the radio show he used to do but a lot more frank – it’s refreshing that he’s not embarrassed to just tell it like it is.

The next book I’m reading is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I was bought it for Christmas last year, but it’s never worked it’s way to the top of the pile. Last time I was at the cinema I saw an advert for the new film adaptation, so I decided now was as good a time as any to read it. I probably won’t go to the cinema to see it (too expensive nowadays!), but it will be good to have read the book before it comes out on DVD.

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One Day, One Great Actor, One Dodgy Accent

I went to see One Day last night. Having read (and really enjoyed) the book, I was in two minds whether to go see the film or not. Surprisingly, the film was fantastic. They kept it quite true to the book (David Nicholls wrote the screenplay), although trying to fit 20 different years into the same film meant that a lot of the detail of the story was missed.

The best part of the film was Jim Sturgess as Dexter – he played the part exactly as I imagined it when I read it, and just as in the book, you can’t help but like Dexter even when you’re not supposed to. He got the last few years of the story spot on – I actually found some of the scenes quite difficult to watch.

Rafe Spall was a good choice to play Ian, he had the look, and the ‘comedy’ was just right, I don’t think they showed as much of him in the film as I would have expected, but I guess that’s what happens when you have to condense the book into less than 2 hours. Although at 1hr 47 mins, it’s not that long, so they probably could have made it longer.


So that brings us to Anne Hathaway. I usually like her, but I think the directors of the film made the wrong decision picking her to play a girl from Leeds. They should have either had her do a London accent, or just no accent at all. Her accent swung from a ridiculously terrible attempt at a broad Yorkshire accent, to sounding vaguely Scottish, to sounding like she’s not even trying an accent at all. If I’m honest, I would have preferred them to pick a northern actress for the part (but maybe I’m just biased).

Now if you’ve read the book, you know how it ends (I’m not going to spoil it if you haven’t). I thought that they might have changed the ending, but I’m very glad they didn’t. Although when ‘it’ happened, even though I was expecting it, I was still as shocked as I was when I read it in the book.

I think when it comes out on DVD, I’ll probably watch it again and see if it’s as good the second time round. If you’ve seen the film and read the book, let me know what you think – was it what you expected?

If you’re interested, here is the film trailer: