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Tag Archives: 1930’s

Movie Review: The Book Thief

d326e3e8deb69479ae2a56a451ab07e8Based on the book by Markus Zusak.

Version: 2013; starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson

Genre: drama, WWII

Plot Summary: Liesel Meminger has been orphaned by the circumstances of WWII and adopted by a new set of parents in a different town.  She is also new at school and ashamed to admit she cannot read.  But Papa helps to educate her as he learns to improve his schooling as well.  Meanwhile, there are other things to be learned while living in Germany during the time of the Third Reich.

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not by comparing it to that novel.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

This was a film that had my interest from the first, but I didn’t have a chance to watch it until a little while ago. The trailer looked so intriguing, and I guess I get my interest in WWII history from my mom.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it included the actor Geoffrey Rush in a major role.  His voice is one of my favorites (he played the voice of Nigel the Pelican on Finding Nemo).

The Book Thief was interesting in that it followed the story of a German civilian (Liesel) throughout the duration of the WWII.  Because of the perspective, it sort of reminded me of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, another film I would recommend.  Liesel is involved with the Hitler Youth and other activities just like many other young people her age.  Her adoptive parents aren’t too particularly anti-Hitler, but aren’t entirely for him, either.  However, they go with the flow as many do and keep the peace.

That is, until a young Jewish man enters their home and they are compelled to hide him in their basement. Liesel doesn’t completely understand what is going on, only that Max is her friend and she wants to protect him.

1ea864bc74e07178ed875aaca980711bI really did enjoy this movie, but I get a sense that the book was probably better. There were parts (mostly at the beginning) that I didn’t understand.  Why was Liesel’s mother taken away?  What exactly happened to her brother?  What was the burgermeister’s reasons for banning Liesel?  What’s the deal with the abstract narrator called Death?  Although the story was called “The Book Thief”, that really wasn’t so much of the plot.  It was hard to suspend disbelief when several years go by, yet Liesel and her girlhood crush Rudy don’t appear to get any older.  But I did get a kick out of the Christmas scene in the basement, where the family smuggles in snow, has a snowball fight and builds a snowman.  “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done!” Rosa states.  😀  I also really liked the scene where Liesel enjoys a good book at the burgermeister’s library.  The colors, mood, and design are something I would like to replicate someday for my own personal library.

Another thing I appreciated is that the end of the story takes a different twist that I did not expect, as real life sometimes does. It was sad, but not altogether so.  There is not really ‘content’ issues.  This film is based on a YA book and I was glad to see it kept age appropriate.  But there is what you would expect in a story that takes place during such a time as 1940’s Germany, and there are beatings, bombings, etc.

I would recommend this, but parents will probably want to watch it with their kids and decide what age it’s appropriate for.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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Movie Review: Mrs. McGinty’s Dead

eb573d1180cc7b5cbff9aae960b7398fBased on the book by Agatha Christie.

Version: 2008; starring David Suchet.

Genre: mystery

Plot Summary: [from IMDb:] “A pair of photographs are the only clues that Poirot has to solve the murder of a village charwoman, and to prove the innocence of the victim’s lodger.”

My Review: To be honest, it’s been a long time since I read this particular Poirot mystery.  I remember it had a lot of female characters, and it was the first time I had read anything where the character Ariadne Oliver made an appearance.  I also remember I enjoyed the mystery a lot, because it featured a common storytelling technique of Christie’s, which is to involve a mystery with roots beginning far back decades ago and the detective must piece together how the current generation of characters are affiliated with the past.  I couldn’t recall the details, however, such as who was killed, who had done it or why.

This is one of the more recent Poirot productions starring David Suchet, compared with when they first started filming them in the 1980’s. The quality of it is very good, and I loved the creepy atmosphere of the film!  The period set contributed heavily to this, along with a swirl of yellowed dead leaves, and the signature Poirot music.  Love, love, love it!

Another thing I appreciated was that this murder mystery wasn’t gorey and it didn’t make me feel too uncomfortable. On the flip side, it could also be considered predictable.  I cannot verify if it stayed true to the book, but to the best of my memory I believe it was for the most part.  Poirot was his lovable old self, and the new role of Ms. Oliver (played by Zoe Wanamaker) was totally convincing as the Agatha Christie-herself-inspired character.

This movie makes for great autumn entertainment, so grab a comfy blanket, slippers, and hot cocoa, and have fun some evening!  🙂

 

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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Movie Review: Murder on the Links

f4da3d317fb63eb8f390f3f3b1dedbd9Based on the book by Agatha Christie. [See my review of the book here.]

Version: 1996

Genre:  mystery

Plot Summary: [from IMDb:] “While Poirot and Hastings are holidaying in France, a businessman tells Poirot that his life is in danger. The next day he is found stabbed to death on a nearby golf course.”

My Review: While down and out with the flu, I watched this Poirot flick since I’d read the book a few months previously. Some of the finer details of the mystery had escaped me, so I was still kept in some suspense throughout the story.

Overall, I believe it was a decent adaptation of the book, with some minor things changed around. As any avid Poirot fan knows, Captain Hastings is a complete sucker for the ladies, and this excursion to the French countryside is no exception. SPOILER ALERT: This time the story has been rewritten in that Hastings finally gets the girl (though where she is in the next episode is beyond anybody’s guess).  The movie ends with Bella in Hastings’ arms, a slight deviation from the original story, but nothing major to ruin the key plot. END OF SPOILER. As this is an earlier Poirot film, it escapes a lot of gore and one needn’t worry about offensive scenes.

As always, no one can match actor David Suchet’s superb interpretation of the eccentric character he plays. Costumes are a little dated and hint at the ‘90’s decade in which it was filmed, but in general it was a decent production and I would recommend it.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2016 in Movie Reviews

 

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BBC Audio Drama: Lost Horizon

592d5ab37872b836ef751fd3984b80b4Hello, audio drama fans!  I thought I’d pass along a dramatized version of an old classic that is one of my favorites because of it’s exotic setting.  BBC Radio 4 is currently playing “Lost Horizon,” by James Hilton for a limited time.  It is in three parts, and features some beautiful classical music.  You can listen to it by clicking here.  Have a nice day!

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2016 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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“The Goebbels Experiment”

023adc95ba40c93716a80dd303688acbI recently watched a riveting documentary, The Goebbels Experiment.  Using text taken completely from Joseph Goebbel’s diary and speeches, the film documents the Nazi Minister of Propaganda’s life, especially his work in the years leading up and during the Second World War.  Goebbel’s voice is narrated by Kenneth Branagh, and his acting made for a completely believable retelling of what happened.

There are no graphic descriptions of the mass murders that took place during the holocaust.  However, there is some disturbing film footage of Goebbels, his wife Magda, and their six little children after they were found dead at the end of the war.  There is also a brief description near the beginning of the film of a passionate love affair Goebbels was involved in with a girlfriend.  I wouldn’t recommend this for children, obviously.  Parents would be well advised to preview it for older kids first.

It was eye-opening, and a bit creepy to be a viewer to so much material about the Nazi “spin doctor.”  I found it educational in learning how Nazis like Goebbels thought, how they manipulated the public’s perception of information, and could see similarities in things going on in the modern world today.  I highly recommend this film– the more we learn from history, the more alert we are to the things going on around us.

 

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2016 in Movie Reviews

 

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National Velvet- audio drama on BBC

6413f71e5fe737ba8c1af0e1eae0a504Do you remember what it felt like to be young and horse crazy?  Revisit that world by immersing yourself in the audio dramatized version of the classic book, “National Velvet,” by Enid Bagnold [click here].  To be honest, this is one of those rare stories that I enjoy dramatized better than the original novel.  I’ll be looking forward to settling down to listening to this myself, as I hear it’s pretty good.

Please note that this is playable for free for a limited time only.  If you find this is no longer available to listen to, make sure to click on my ‘audio/radio dramas’ tag to the right hand side of this blog to find others that may be currently free.  BBC Radio 4 always has a large amount of things to listen to.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2016 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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Book Review: “A Man Lay Dead,” by Ngaio Marsh

30f8d0a8a38f86f6c470cbd449c7f223Genre: mystery

Plot Summary: An exciting weekend is to be had at Frantock when Sir Hubert Handesley’s house party guests are invited for a game of “Murders.” But what was supposed to be fun entertainment soon turns into a real-life mystery of “Whodunit,” when one of the guests turns up with a knife in his back.  Not just any knife—a symbolic knife belonging to an ancient Russian brotherhood.  When the butler goes missing and one female guest refuses to give any information, will Chief Inspector Alleyn solve the mystery?

My Book Review:  I’d seen a couple of BBC’s Inspector Alleyn mysteries a few years ago and liked them enough to want to at least try the first book in the “Roderick Alleyn Series,” by Ngaio Marsh.  There are 32 books in all to this series,– A Man Lay Dead being the author’s very first novel.  I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie’s books (what I consider to be “cozy mysteries”), so I was hoping that the trial I was giving Marsh would be as good.

This was a fun light read.  First and foremost, I loved the exciting atmosphere throughout the book.  A house party at a country manor, a cast of suspicious characters, tangos, a secret Russian brotherhood…  all set against the backdrop of 1930’s England!  It felt like a game of Clue.

It didn’t take long to read this, although the chapters were a bit long.  I did find the dialogue lacking the “crispness” found in Christie’s mysteries (and one of the reasons why I love A.G. so much).  But there were a few things I liked better about this first one from Ngaio Marsh.  One was that she gives you pretty much all the clues so that it was possible to solve the mystery yourself.  SPOILER: I was sure I’d figured out who the villain was, as I assumed it must be the least obvious person.  It turns out it was the most obvious person, which makes them the least obvious person!!  Great fun!  END OF SPOILER.  Another thing I liked was that although Inspector Alleyn himself is a little colorless, he isn’t made to be the main character.  He is different in that he isn’t like so many other literary detectives who are made to be mysterious gods themselves, with lots of eccentric quirks and who irritate you by holding back all of their information until the very end.

I’m not sure what all the other novels in the series are like.  I think Patrick Malahide (who played Alleyn in the movies) “looked” like his character, so I did imagine him as I read the book.  I haven’t seen A Man Lay Dead yet, but from reading plot summaries it sounds like it isn’t like the book very much.  There has been a radio drama made of this story (posted below).

I should say any mystery lover will enjoy Ngaio Marsh, especially if you love Clue, tango, and costume dramas!

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in Audio/Radio Dramas, Book Reviews

 

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