My favourite films

I enjoy films, not as much as books, but I have compiled a list of my favourite films that I have seen. Most of these are rated 15 or over so not for children except August Rush which is rated PG. I don’t enjoy horror films and I haven’t seen any comedies that I would consider favourites. These are mainly action, drama and biographical films. Some are based on books, which I intend to read in the future because I feel that the books are often better than the film. These aren’t in any particular order, I don’t have one favourite film.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)

A biographical film about the life of Nelson Mandela, it details his journey from a young child to becoming President of South Africa and being an anti-apartheid world icon. Idris Elba plays Nelson Mandela and his acting was very good.

The Green Mile (2000)

This film stars Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan in an adaption of the novel The Green Mile by Stephen King. It’s about a prison guard who works on death row in Louisiana during the Great Depression in the 1930’s. It has a scene showing an execution of an inmate.

Philadelphia (1994)

Also stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. This is about a man who is fired after his company discovers he has AIDS and sues for discrimination. This is quite a sad, but moving story.

August Rush (2007)

A story of a young musical prodigy in New York City who runs away from an orphanage to search for his parents. It stars the late Robin Williams and is one of my favourite movies.

The Blind Side (2010)

This is a biographical sports drama film about a couple who adopt a homeless black teenager. He later becomes a successful American football player. It stars one of my favourite actresses Sandra Bullock and she won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress for it.

Maid in Manhattan (2002)

A romantic comedy with Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes about a hotel maid and a politician who fall in love. It is also a drama film and its my favourite romantic comedy.

The Pelican Brief (1994)

A political thriller based on a novel by John Grisham. A young law student, played by Julia Roberts and a reporter, played by Denzel Washington uncover a conspiracy related to the assassination of two Supreme Court Justices.

The Bone Collector (2000)

This psychological thriller is based on a crime novel by Jeffrey Deaver called The Bone Collector. Denzel Washington plays a foresic expert and Angelina Jolie, a policewoman and together they are solving a series of murders.

The Matrix Trilogy (Matrix -1999, Matrix Reloaded 2003)

This stars Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne, in a science fiction franchise about a virtual reality where machines have enslaved humans and the ensuing war between them. Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, gets freed from the ‘dream world’ a simulated reality humans live in. The visual effects and cinematography are really interesting and the storyline contains philosophical and religious references throughout.

 

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August Book Haul

We’re now in August and I was recently walking along the high street when I approached a small book shop. I went inside and picked up a few more books that were on sale. This is going to be a small break from my 2017 reading list that I will link below. I will finish Dracula and then begin reading the new books I have bought because they are not as long.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This is described on the blurb as an “unconventional ghost story” it was written by an American author, who later acquired British citizenship. He Is a key figure of 19th century literary realism. The book was published in 1898 and is a horror and gothic fiction. It is open to different interpretations.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This has been on my reading list for a while as I have heard about it for several years and I have seen the film released in 2009 that is based on the book. This is the first book I will have ever read by Oscar Wilde and I am looking forward to reading one of his most popular works. Published in 1890, The picture of Dorian Gray caused outrage in the Victorian era for its portrayal of London life.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I have heard of Harper Lee’s classic novel numerous times and it explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South in the 1930’s. It concerns the prejudice, violence and hypocrisy of a town in Southern America.

The Hobbit by J.R.Tolkien

This is a modern classic and is also the prelude to The Lord of the Rings, the popular fantasy novels. In the blurb it is described as ‘One of the best-loved children’s books of modern times’ and I think it will be similar to Narnia which I really enjoyed. Published in 1937, it is still very popular. I also noticed that there are lots of adaptions for stage, screen, radio and video games.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is a modern fantasy novel written in 2011 that was long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012. It is a fantasy novel set in Victorian London and is about a fictional circus that only appears at night, and disappears in the daytime. It is slow-moving, but once the story gets underway it could be an interesting read.

 

Links

Ban on reading To Kill a Mockingbird in schools in Virginia

‘To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn banned from Virginia schools for racism’

The reading list for 2017

2017 reading list

Dorian Gray film review

Dorian Gray (2009) film review

 

 

Hartsholme Country Park Visit

As a part of a weekend break, I visited Hartsholme Country Park In Lincolnshire with my mum.

The park has more than 200 acres and has lots of woodland areas to walk. We saw squirrels up in the trees and ducks and swans in the Lake. It was a mild day and the sun came out in the morning. Fortunately it did not rain today so we could take off our jackets for a while.

After a 45 minute walk, we went through a meadow to the cafe where I bought a hot chocolate and some chips. The visitors centre opposite the cafe was open so we had a short look around and before leaving.

I took some photos and video at the park of the wildlife we saw.

 

Why reading is a good hobby

For a while, when asked what my hobbies were, I would answer “reading” and receive a sarcastic “that’s not a real hobby” while rolling their eyes.

Not only is reading books in your spare time fun, it can have additional benefits such as improving your vocabulary and understanding of grammar. For example, where commas go and how to use semi-colons. Regularly reading non-fiction can be useful because you can learn about different cultures from books.

“There is no friend as loyal as a book” -Ernest Hemmingway

There is also a correlation between reading and improving confidence and self-esteem, improving sleep and reducing loneliness. It is also likely that reading non-fiction exercises the imagination and creativity we naturally have. Statistics carried out by The Reading Agency in the UK reveals that ‘In England, 36% of adults don’t read for pleasure, rising to 44% of young people aged 16 to 24.’

People have argued that reading books is unnecessary because of the creation of films based on books that have been written. However, I have seen many television and film adaptions of books and I noticed that parts of the story is often omitted from the film for lack of time. In addition to this, there can be a lack of character development that the author intended. I never usually believe a movie based on a book is ever better than the actual book, they are usually not as good or on equal footing.

So, Dracula will be the next book review and there will be more book reviews to come.

‘Why is reading good for me?’ -bbc iwonder

‘Ebook sales continue to fall as younger generations drive appetite for print’

Reading Facts

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Review

Huckleberry Finn is Mark Twain’s sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and was published in 1884.

I found the writing of the book to be very difficult to get used to and this made it a time-consuming effort. The author notes at the beginning that several dialects from Southern America are used by different characters. The speech, which there is much of, is not spelt in a formal English way which made it difficult to read. I didn’t really enjoy the book that much as I found it difficult to read and didn’t like ending after Tom Sawyer was re-introduced towards the end.

The storyline does include many little adventures for Huckleberry, while he and Jim run away and are travelling on a raft down the Mississippi river. There are lots of characters introduced and Huckleberry travels around with the raft so that he can escape when necessary. I also feel like there was unnecessary stereotyping of Jim as being ignorant and not intelligent.

It is argued that the book was against slavery in the south of America at the time and the main character Huckleberry Finn appears to be conflicted on whether helping a slave to escape is the right thing to do. The novel is controversial for it’s repeated use of the n-word, a pejorative slur. In context at the time of its publication the word was not seen as unacceptable within the society. Moreover, there have been discussions of censorship of the book, to edit out these words, which has been heavily criticised.

Links:

Sparknotes Context to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/huckfinn/context.html

Video Sparknotes: Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary

‘To kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn banned from schools in Virginia for racism’ article by The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/05/kill-mockingbird-huckleberry-finn-banned-schools-virginia-racism/

Classic Book Reviews

This is a compilation of all of the Classic Books I will be reading this Summer/Autumn. I have already written a review of Frankenstein so that is not pictured above.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)

This is one of the great American novels and has themes of race and identity. The author Mark Twain seemed critical of the racism that existed at the time of the books publishing. It is written from the perspective of a boy named Huckleberry Finn as he goes on lots of adventures in his youth.

Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1854)

This is the 10th novel of Charles Dickens. I am looking forward to reading Hard Times because Charles Dickens books sometimes had critical views of the social and economic conditions in 19th century England.

Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

A gothic horror by the Irish author Bram Stoker. He created ‘Count Dracula’ in a story of vampirism and horror fiction. Many books on vampires have been successful since, for example, Twilight based on the vampire myth. This was a landmark vampire novel and I am excited to read it.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

This  is a romance novel and is a popular novel in English literature. I do not read many romance novels but I find Pride and Prejudice to be appealing.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)

Emily Brontë was part of the Brontë family and Wuthering Heights was her only novel. This book is a classic in English literature and is part of the period of Romanticism in Europe.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1856)

This was the debut novel of French author Gustave Flaubert and he began the artistic movement of literary realism in France. It depicts ordinary circumstances as they are.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

This is another American classic that is set in the puritan era in 17th century Massachusetts. This is also considered a romance novel and revolves around legalism and sin.

Gullivers’ Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)

This is the oldest of the novels I have compiled so far and it is a satire on human nature. This one is also by an Irish author.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Marquez (1967)

This is a modern classic by a Colombian author and is a multi-generational story with a magic realist style. I hope to read more literature from other ethnic authors as part of the next collection of classic books I review.