Category Archives: Film

The Party

This is not as much fun as the title might suggest.

Lucy Hawking has long had a deep interest in autism, and knows much more about it than I do. She has written a short film script, which has been recorded for the Guardian’s new virtual reality site. It shows what the world – or at least a birthday party – looks like to someone on the autistic spectrum.

Technology is hard, and I don’t know enough about it. If you bought Saturday’s Guardian you’d have found a mention of this new VR site, and if you were very lucky you’d have received a free pair of spectacles with the paper, to use when viewing the video. I imagine it’s similar to the kind of 3D glasses you have for 3D cinema.

No glasses for us, but I registered online to be sent a pair. I gather you could also buy some. The information is (hopefully) to be found here. And there’s apps and stuff. I always get worried when people mention apps…

You can watch the film online – albeit not on Safari – and I did. But I imagine I didn’t get the full experience without the glasses. (It reminded me quite a lot of parties I go to, and I think we can safely say I’m not always the biggest fan of such ‘happy’ gatherings.)

I’m grateful Lucy has gone to the trouble of working out a way to show the neurotypical world what it [can] be like. As with most things, I am sure we experience them differently.

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Queue? Not even for Tom Hanks, thanks.

Waterstones are (well, they were yesterday) flogging the possibility that you might get a ticket to stand in a very long queue at some unknown London venue to ‘meet’ Tom Hanks, as he signs his new book. In November. Possibly partly outside, in whatever weather. For hours, as it’s a first come first served queue. I.e. a normal queue for a big name, except you need to ‘win’ a ticket to stand in it.

After investigating their ‘offer’ briefly, I knew it was not for me. I don’t queue well.

And that led me to ponder who I would be willing to do this for. I mean, I like Tom Hanks as much as the next witch, and it’d be interesting to ‘meet’ him. But it would need to be under more comfortable circumstances, and with fewer restrictions. He won’t sign your name. He most likely won’t talk to you. But someone will be on hand to take a photo just as he signs ‘your’ book. No posing, obviously.

Luckily my most favourite people write really good books, but are not such superstars that their queues will last hours. When I thought a little more, I came to the conclusion I’ve not stood – remained – in a long queue. Not for anyone.

Not for Terry Pratchett, nor for Neil Gaiman. After those two I can’t come up with any real queue-magnets. A few stars have been managed by starting in the right spot, and/or running really fast in a well organised way. Daughter once queued for Jacqueline Wilson, where the bookshop sold timed tickets, so you’d at least know which hour was your hour. They also sold photos taken of you with Jacqueline (that really delayed proceedings), which was fine until the camera ran out of memory…

Cutting edge

I had my hair cut the other day. And on a good day the hairdresser remembers I am into books, and we can talk books. I suppose it helped that I brought one with me. To read, in case he was delayed with some other woman’s hair. It calms my nerves. The reading. Not other people’s hair.

He does read, which is nice. Not all hairdressers do. His children read, too. I asked once.

His current book is Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. So I immediately burst out with the words ‘that’s a Swedish book!’ He might not have known that.

He then paid me a compliment by saying he thought the book read so well, that it could almost be an original English one… I’m sure translator Roy Bradbury will be pleased to know.

And as Daughter and I had discussed the film just a week or so ago, I said I’d been thinking of watching the film. He said he thought it’d make a good film. I said it already had. And I’d been surprised to discover the film is several years old, since it felt as though it was only this year.

Time goes fast sometimes.

So based on that, I decided to look up how old the book is, and found it’s actually seven years already. But the English book version is two years old, so the film clearly happened before the translation.

Whether I find time to read Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann is uncertain. But I do feel the film must be watched. If only to make sure it doesn’t climb out any windows and disappears.

I suppose the next thing I should do is ask the hairdresser if he buys his books, and if so, where. Because he lives in Cumbernauld, where they don’t have any bookshops. I’ve been meaning to look into that, but it’s good to know that people still read, anyway.

Mads for Mayor

Trying to decide who came into my life first, Mads Mikkelsen or Patrick Ness. It’s all in the past, and that’s getting murkier by the minute. Some things I just don’t remember.

And others I do. That fateful – but really lovely – young reviewers club I was connected with quite a few years ago, for instance. I remember that one of the boys read The Knife of Never Letting Go. I thought it a curious title, and I wasn’t sure what I thought of the language, so I didn’t read it. Then.

The boy’s review was published on a review site that didn’t exactly get lots of hits, but some. One visitor was Patrick Ness. (I reckon most authors google themselves and their books. At least early on.) I followed the lead to where his subsequent link was coming from, which was on his blog. The review was the first, or one of the first, which was especially noticeable because it was before the book was officially out.

Patrick was pleased, and I was pleased that he was pleased.

Mads Mikkelsen. I know exactly where I clapped eyes on him. Just not when. His Danish television police series Rejseholdet seemed to be screened on Swedish television every summer, and one evening midway through an episode, I happened to switch on. I disliked him on sight.

But I enjoyed Rejseholdet, and eventually, after many years, I grew fond of Mads. And by now I, and the rest of the world, have seen him in lots of films, international as well as Danish.

I had never imagined Mayor Prentiss in The Knife of Never Letting Go looking like Mads. Not even a little bit. But I expect he’ll be marvellous as the ghastly Mayor. I’m already looking forward to the film, but suppose I will have to wait until 2019 for Chaos Walking, as it will be known. Slightly less of a mouthful than the book title.

The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star

I just love Ganesha, the baby elephant detective in Vaseem Khan’s Inspector Chopra novels! And I rather admire Poppy, aka Mrs Chopra. (I may have mentioned this before. Like every time I review Vaseem’s books.) I reckon Poppy is finding herself, going from loving wife of a police inspector to someone who… Well, maybe better not give it away, but there were one or two scenes in this, the third outing for Chopra and his elephant, that made me laugh out loud. Poppy knows her mind, but she still can’t prevent her personality from getting the better of her.

This crime adventure is set within the Bollywood business, but it is also pure Bollywood in itself. It is colourful and crazy, while also showing the reader the serious side to life in India; how some people have very few rights and lead dreadful lives.

Vaseem Khan, The Strange Didappearance of a Bollywood Star

Chopra’s sidekick Rangwalla has his own mystery to solve and he definitely discovers a few things about himself that he’s not proud over. But people can change.

So on the one side we have a kidnapped Bollywood hero and on the other we meet the Mumbai eunuchs. Chopra’s decent behaviour gets him into trouble, and were it not for those around him who love him; Ganesha, his adoptive boy Irfan, Poppy, his staff and his friends, things wouldn’t have ended so well.

Forgive me if I keep going on about how much I love these books. There is a charm and a decency, coupled with humour and a good crime plot and a fantastic setting. It leaves me wanting to learn more, but first I want some of chef Lucknowwallah’s food. And I’d like an elephant best friend.

Pride

You can’t go wrong with solidarity on a day like today.

And when there isn’t as much of it about as we could do with, it can be necessary to timetravel.

I watched the film Pride over Christmas, because it was on television. If you’ve seen it you know how heartwarming it is. How warming of just about anything it is. And how much we need this right now.

This week has been hard in several ways, and the only solution I could come up with was to introduce the Resident IT Consultant to Pride, while it’s still available on iPlayer. (Five more days, people!) I could tell he had his doubts as we started, but by the end we blubbed side by side, the way you do when you’ve been watching an extraordinary film; one based on true events.

I’m sorry to say I was far too unaware of this when it happened in the mid-1980s. I wish I’d realised quite how big it was. But glad I had no idea how much we’d need this today, when things have changed for the worse.

If you need something to take your mind off things today; try Pride.

Pride

A Monster Calls – the film

This was the film we tried to go and see all week. We should be grateful it made it to the local cinema, because who would want to be deprived of a good long cry? As it was, Kleenex were required, and there was a bucket too.

A Monster Calls

I can no longer recall the exact details of the book* by Patrick Ness, and by that I mean the minor characters and any minor plots. I think there were some. They are not in the film, which is good, as you don’t want anything to detract from the main story about Conor, his dying mum and his angry grandma. And the school bullies, because to be beaten up every day as your mother is dying is obviously [not] what a 13-year-old boy needs.

A Monster Calls

The film let us concentrate on Conor’s nightmares and the subsequent meetings with a tree monster who comes to the house (voiced by Liam Neeson) to tell him stories.

Then there is grandma, played by Sigourney Weaver, doing a good British accent, while going around being at least as angry as her grandson. And who can blame her; she is losing her child, and gaining a grandchild who hates her.

A Monster Calls

At first the film went so slowly I was afraid it would ruin things but, almost imperceptibly, it sped up and before we knew it we were hooked, by Conor’s dismal daily life, and his mum’s sufferings, and you could literally see her getting worse.

Beautifully filmed in the Northwest, it looked like home to us (not quite as I’d imagined it from the book or from Jim Kay’s illustrations).

And it was only on the way out I remembered I had tissues in my bag, after casting around in my mind what we could possibly use to mop those tears with.


*Based on an idea by Siobhan Dowd