For The Love Of Tom Hiddleston – Crimson Peak

crimson-peak-poster

Film: Crimson Peak
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Genre: Gothic Romance/Horror/Psychological Thriller
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam
Country: United States
Release Dates: 15th/16th October 2015

The year is 1901. Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), a young unpublished American writer meets and falls in love with a tall and handsome English baronet and engineer, Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) who is in America on business with his sister Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). After the unfortunate death of her father, Edith marries Thomas and travels back with him home to Cumberland, England. Here, she finds herself acquainted with Allerdale Hall, the Sharpes’ crumbling and creepy mansion on top of Crimson Peak which derives its name from the red clay soil beneath. But what is more disturbing is the creepy supernatural presence in the house as well as the dark secrets being held by the Sharpe siblings.

Have you ever watched a film without even knowing what it’s about and have had your mind blown by its brilliant writing and awesome visual storytelling? On the other hand, have you ever anticipated a film for so long that once it comes out, it completely ruins every single expectation you had about it?

The latter happened to me yesterday. I watched Crimson Peak.

The first thing we noticed when we entered the theatre on a late Thursday afternoon was that it was practically empty. I don’t know why that was the case (especially since it was a declared public holiday!) but it didn’t look like a good sign especially on the first day of its release.

The setting was beautiful. Allerdale Hall was a huge dark and dilapidated house with lots of history, mystery and horror that was over-amplified with the onset of bleak and harsh winters. The overall characterizations were nicely written and the three were brilliant in their respective roles. Mia’s Edith was naive yet determined and curious as a cat to get down to the bottom of things. Tom’s Thomas was intelligent, charming, passionate about what he worked for and yet bogged down by the ghosts of his past. Jessica’s Lucille was cold, unfeeling and highly controlling. However, the character graphs did not hold many elements of surprise that could have taken the story to a whole new level.

Although the movie was rated 18+, we went in fully knowing that some sexual graphic scenes were going to be slashed by the strict local censors. This is pretty normal in this part of the world so we wouldn’t have minded so much except this time, it interrupted the flow of the story which we didn’t care for at all.

The actual ghosts were neither ghostly nor spooky. The metaphorical ghosts unearthed, were more dangerous and spine-chilling. However, their demonic power of a complex and twisted psychological nature was highly diminished by the weak and incomplete plot which had nothing to do with the gaps created by the censors and everything to do with the feeble writing. There was a wild overuse of the crimson hue (as rightly pointed out to me by my sister) and this metaphor for blood, gore and other evil things could have been toned down in our opinion.

I apologize because I know this review in no way qualifies as complete since we obviously missed out on a few scenes that could (but I doubt it!) have been crucial to the film but even so, the plot was terribly hollow and thin. I cannot discuss more of this without giving away any spoilers but let’s just say that we left the cinema hall with more questions and baffled expressions than horrified trembling faces.

Expectations were high, that much I know.
– Thistles and Whistles

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5


Thank you for taking the time to visit this blog, I always value your encouragement and support! If you liked this blog post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help spread it by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!

If you’d like to contact me for enquiries or just to say hello, you can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com or even connect with me on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

Email Facebook Instagram Twitter GoodReads BlogLovin
SIGNATURE
Advertisements

Films I am Looking Forward To This Fall/Winter 2015

Popcorn

As much as I love the big screen experience, going to the cinemas can get really expensive. I am a rare movie-goer and very picky about the ones I watch on the big screen. I’ve been to the cinemas for only two movies this year – Kingsman: The Secret Service and Spy, both coincidentally being of the same spy/action-comedy genre – one was more comedy than the other but both thoroughly enjoyable.

This Fall/Winter there are some amazing films coming out which I am very excited about and hope to catch in theaters. There’s a heavy bias involved in choosing the first three films and you’ll know why soon enough:

      1. Crimson Peak : So, I’m not a fan of the horror genre. AT ALL. I’m that chicken who covers her eyes shut with the palms of her hands and peeps at the screen through her fingers when a scary scene comes on. I haven’t watched more than two horror films in cinemas and in retrospect, they were both very mildly scary. Crimson Peak, I’ve heard, is heart-palpitating-touch-me-and-I’ll-scream-bloody-murder kind of scary. So why am I going? Well, my answer is simply – Tom Hiddleston. The trailer really fascinated me though. I mean, what’s not to love about a dashing English gentleman with a shady past who woos and marries an American wannabe-author and brings her home in a beautiful but creepy manor on top an equally creepy hill where blood curdling ‘crazy shit’ begins to take place? Yeah, that’s kinda fun.
        Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam
        Director: Guillermo Del Toro
        Release Date: October 16th 2015
      2. High Rise – This film, set in the mid 1970’s is based on J.G. Ballard’s dystopian novel of the same name. Dr. Robert Laing is a young doctor who moves into a luxury tower block that is cut off from main society. I haven’t read the novel yet so I don’t know what exactly happens but judging from this movie clip, there’s some weird stuff expected. I hope to read the novel before I go for it but my main motive for watching this movie is pretty clear.
        Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Elizabeth Moss, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans
        Director: Ben Wheatley
        Release Date: TBA
      3. I Saw The Light – This movie choice also has to do with the same above tall, dapper, Englishman with blue eyes. Only this time, he’s playing a biopic role of 1940’s legendary American country singer Hank Williams whose alcohol and substance abuse caused his untimely death at age 29. This movie portrays his fiery and tumultuous relationship with his wife and manager Audrey Williams. Hand the man a guitar and ask him to croon in a country twang and let’s see what he does!
        Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen
        Director: Mark Abraham
        Release Date: November 27th 2015
      4. Spectre – 2015 seems to be the year of spies! Skyfall has to be my favourite film of the whole Daniel Craig series. Not only did I love Adele’s haunting opening melody, but it showed James Bond in a very vulnerable light in the dark and breathtakingly beautiful Scottish countryside. I can’t say I am equally excited for Spectre but I would like to see how Ralph Fiennes plays the ruthless M in place of the strong Judi Dench. There’s way too much action in this film than I care to see but this is a series which I would like to finish.
        Starring: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christopher Waltz, Andrew Scott
        Director:  Sam Mendes
        Release Date: November 6th 2015 onward

Are you going to see any of these movies as well or are you going to see something else? Let me know in the comments below. I LOVE hearing from you! 🙂


Thank you for taking the time to visit this blog, I always value your encouragement and support! If you liked this blog post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help spread it by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Thank you!

If you’d like to contact me for enquiries or just to say hello, you can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com or even connect with me on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

Facebook Instagram Twitter GoodReads BlogLovin
SIGNATURE

For the Love of Bollywood: Hrishikesh Mukherjee

image001

There are very few movies that remain fresh and as relevant in today’s world as they were when they were made decades ago. Movies you can actually label as ‘timeless classics’ because their settings, characters, well-scripted dialogues and situations are so real that they could practically happen to anybody.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee was one such filmmaker who injected the true meaning of reality in his drama films. Bragging a huge cult following, his films could best be described as socio-dramedies as situational comedy played a huge if not always the main role in a majority of his everyday plots. His family-oriented films included huge ensemble casts of a handful of his favorite actors and depicted strong cultural and family values. A message, no matter how big or small, was always weaved in the layers of the uncomplicated and simple art that he painted on screen. Not to forget, Hrishi da (as he was lovingly called by juniors) had the knack of bringing out the best performances out of all his actors resulting in a real visual treat.

If you have never watched a Bollywood film before or are simply not a fan of old classic Bollywood, I can guarantee you that I will be able to convert you into a fan (at least a Hrishikesh Mukherjee one!) by showing you any or all of these priceless gems :

  1. Anupama (1964) – This movie was the first film of actress Sharmila Tagore who plays Uma, a young woman who has received no love from her father ever since he lost his wife while giving birth to her. She is extremely beautiful but very quiet, withdrawn and has no self-confidence. It is Dharmendra’s character of a young author/teacher who shows her how to be free from the bondages of your inner fears and to embrace happiness.
    Starring: Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, Deven Varma
  2. Aashirwaad (1968)- Portraying the unconditional love of a father for his daughter, this movie is a beautiful tear-jerker. Ashok Kumar plays Jogi Thakur, the free-spirited landlord of a village where everyone loves and respects him. His only true loves are his music and his 8 year old daughter. When he tries to save a young village girl from being raped and ends up killing the rapist, he is sentenced for life in jail where his love for poetry and the memories of his little girl keep him alive for many years. Will Jogi Thakur ever meet his daughter again? Keep those tissues ready, Ashok Kumar’s heartfelt acting will fill your eyes with constant tears.
    Starring: Ashok Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar, Sumita Sanyal
  3. Anand (1970) – Rajesh Khanna played this iconic lovable and effervescent character who knows that he does not have more than six months on earth but still chooses to live everyday as if it’s the best day ever. A huge message to everyone that life is meant to be lived in each and every moment because it could be gone in a second.
    Starring: Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Sumita Sanyal
  4. Guddi (1971) – This film was the launch pad of Jaya Bachchan née Bhaduri’s first ever film as an actress in which she played the title role of Guddi ‘aka’ Kusum, a vivacious school going movie fanatic who is obsessed with the actor Dharmendra and his films. In her naivety, she vows that she will never get married to anyone because she is in love with her movie idol. It is up to her family (and Dharmendra himself!) to subtly change Guddi’s viewpoint by showing her the real side of the movie business. A film which every fangirl will definitely be able to relate to.
    Starring: Jaya Bachchan, Dharmendra, Utpal Dutt, Sumita Sanyal, A K Hangal
  5. Bawarchi (1972) – Another great family movie where the focus is on a big family who live together in the same house but bicker and fight all the time. Because of their irritable nature, no cook lasts with them for more than a couple of months. One fine day, a man comes to their home and changes their lives forever. But who is this man? Is he really a cook? The multi-talented chef who can sing, dance, clean, teach life lessons and make a mean meal was played by Rajesh Khanna, the superstar of the 60’s and 70’s.
    Starring: Rajesh Khanna, Jaya Bachchan, A K Hangal, Asrani
  6. Abhimaan (1973) – What happens when the overnight success of an unknown classically trained singer overshadows the career of her famous Bollywood singer husband? A huge male ego is hurt, of course. The famous real life husband-wife duo Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan play a celebrity couple whose new marriage is torn apart because of his raging jealousy of her growing success. Will their marriage be saved or be broken forever?
    Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Asrani, A K Hangal
  7. Chupke Chupke (1975)– A hilarious and deliberate comedy of errors which will keep you on your toes and rolling in laughter. In this film, Dharmendra plays the role of a young and recently married botany professor who is tired of listening to his new wife (played by Sharmila Tagore) brag about her ‘genius jijaji‘ (her sister’s husband) who she claims is not easy to fool as he can detect a lie from far off. Determined to prove her wrong, he decides to play an intricate prank on his wife’s ‘genius’ brother in-law by applying for a job as a pure Hindi speaking driver and purposely getting on his nerves. What poor jijaji doesn’t know that everyone in his circle of family and friends is in on this big practical joke.
    Starring: Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, Om Prakash, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Asrani, David
  8. Mili (1975) – Mili is a bubbly and charismatic college girl who lives with her father and her aunt. Everyone in her apartment building loves her especially all the kids. When a new neighbour moves into the penthouse upstairs, everyone is scared of his anti-social behaviour. Can Mili mend his ways before it’s too late?
    Starring: Ashok Kumar, Jaya Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan
  9. Golmaal (1979) – Another great comedy of errors where a fresh graduate with a crazy love for watching football has to pretend to be a simple nerd with no hobbies to get his very first job at a prestigious company. His pretense is based on the fact that the owner believes that today’s young generation is interested in all sorts of things except their careers. A hilarious must-must-must-watch for Amol Palekar’s acting especially where he has to keep up the charade in front of his boss by playing two completely opposite personalities of twin brothers where one is a nerd and the other is a good-for-nothing ruffian!
    Starring: Amol Palekar, Utpal Dutt, Bindiya Goswami, Dina Pathak, David, Shobha Khote
  10. Khoobsurat (1980) – This movie proves that rules, routine and discipline are great but having a little fun in life is very important too! Rekha plays a fun-loving girl Manju, whose only sister gets married in a home where everything works like clockwork and even laughing is not allowed thanks to the strict lady of the family! When Manju goes to visit her sister for a few days, she begins to inject a little fun in the family’s lives by allowing them to secretly indulge in their favourite hobbies. A beautiful movie and so much fun to watch!
    Starring: Rekha, Rakesh Roshan, Ashok Kumar, Dina Pathak
  11. Rang Birangi (1983) – This movie shows what happens when romance takes a backseat after many years of marriage. Amol Palekar plays a workaholic husband who loves his wife very much but is so focused on his work, that he doesn’t spend any quality time with her anymore. His best friend starts encouraging the workaholic husband to engage in a little harmless flirting with his secretary to bring a bit of fun in life. Will the husband cheat on his wife or rekindle his romance with her? You have to watch this masterpiece comedy of errors by Hrishi da to find out!
    Starring: Amol Palekar, Parveen Babi, Deven Varma, Farooque Sheikh, Deepti Naval, Utpal Dutt, Om Prakash

These are my absolute favourite films which I must have watched countless number of times. If you get the opportunity to watch them, please do let me know if you liked them. In fact, I challenge you not to fall in love them. 🙂 Some of them are subtitled on YouTube and other sources.

Do you have a favourite director whose movies you can keep watching over and over again? I would love to know in the comments below.


Thank you for taking the time to visit this blog, I always value your encouragement and support! If you liked this blog post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help spread it by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Thank you!

If you’d like to contact me for enquiries or just to say hello, you can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com or even connect with me on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

Email Facebook Instagram Twitter GoodReads BlogLovin
SIGNATURE

Take 5 #2 – These Inspiring Celebs

take 5 branded banner

Celebrities – we either love them or love to hate them. We’re either appalled by their behaviour or completely inspired. Unconsciously (or consciously!) many of us try to find a role model in our favourite public figures. Some celebs handle the constant public scrutiny with grace and poise while some are not quite so classy. Of course, at the end of the day, we all know they’re just as much human as we are and they each have a different way of handling public pressure.

This post is about those celebrities who I personally find inspiring because they are eager participants of everything about life and they each have something incredible to teach everyone:

1. Tom Hiddleston – Who would have guessed that behind Loki’s green leather suit, there beats the heart of a true Shakespeare lover? Tom is like a breath of fresh air in an industry driven by mostly looks and physique. He is the epitome of a perfect gentleman who has put the faith back in the hearts of many women that the qualities of chivalry, kindness and gentleness are still out there and that good guys are super sexy. Tom seems to be so enthusiastic about life and very genuinely loves giving out free warm hugs to everyone he meets (especially his fans!) and spending time talking to them. If the internet is anything to go by, the menacing villain is more famous than his heroic brother because of who Tom is as a person. He loves playing along with whatever the media want him to do, is an active philanthropist and has a knack for giving out wonderful inspirational advice! Tom’s face radiates happiness which is evident from his wide grin and adorable laugh. It doesn’t hurt that he is such a handsome man and that he leaves no opportunity to shake a leg. If you haven’t guessed already, yes, I am a little more than obsessed with him.

Tom Hiddleston Excited

2. Hugh Jackman – I love Hugh. I always have. Hugh can do anything he puts his mind to. He can act, sing, dance and host a mean Oscar. I love that he is so incredibly nice to everyone. He is such an enthusiastic person in general. His eagerness can be seen on his personal Instagram where he posts pictures of his family, two adorable dogs, him working out at the gym and his genuinely infectious laugh.

Hugh Jackman genuine laughing
3. Drew Barrymore – This former wild child is so effervescent about life and is always expressing her gratitude and talking about how incredibly blessed she is, especially after the birth of her two adorable daughters. You’ll always find her happy and her vivacious energy tends to rub off on you even from the screen. She is a cute adorable goofball and she knows it.

drew barrymore running

4. Ellen Degeneres – What can I say about Ellen except she really is ‘Ellen The Generous’. A woman without an ounce of self-consciousness about herself, Ellen can not only laugh at herself but also make others laugh too with her unique sense of humour. Age has not slowed her down at all. If anything, it has made her more appreciative of life. Ellen can shake a mean leg, prank famous people, give out generous gifts and help those who are in need, live vegan and basically show everyone how to have a bloody good time. Her parting words on the show are words to live by daily, “Be kind to one another.”

Ellen Degeneres

5. Michelle Obama – The First Lady is a recent addition to my list but I am very impressed with the way she and her very powerful husband have not been afraid to show their fun side. In fact, the Obamas seem to be quite approachable to everyone they meet. As part of her Let’s Move campaign and the #GimmeFive challenge to get the nation of America physically moving, Michelle has shown off her amazing dancing skills on several instances including hip hop, the dougie and even the Indian bhangra. She has also shown her athletic side on Ellen by doing push ups with her and in another show, she went on to show her professional jump rope skills too! I think Michelle is a lovely internet celebrity and a true lady.

MO 4

Which celebrities inspire you the most and why? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
You can also follow me on Facebook , InstagramTwitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

Email Facebook Instagram Twitter GoodReads BlogLovin
SIGNATURE

 

 

2015 Reading Challenge – Book #10 – The Diary of a Young Girl

Book #10 – A book originally written in another language – The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Genre: Autobiography
Published: 1947 as Het Achterbuis Dagboekbrieven 14 Juni 1942 – 1 Augustus 1944
Originally written in: Dutch
Country: Netherlands
Book to TV/Movie Adaptation: Adapted for theater in 1955 and for film in 1959. Also dramatized for television in 2001.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank 2This is a real life epistolary novel of Anne Frank, a 13 year old Jewish girl living in Amsterdam who went into hiding with her family in 1942, two years after the Nazis occupied the Netherlands.

Anne recounts all her experiences of living in the “Secret Annexe”, the hiding place in Anne’s father’s office building with her parents, elder sister and four others that included a family of three and a dentist. Living a secret existence for two years until 1944 was by no means the easiest thing to do but the eight fugitives had the constant support of a handful of close friends and co-workers who would risk their own lives and supply them with food, news and books from outside.

Like any young girl of a similar age, Anne goes through many several first-time experiences including reaching puberty, discovering her life’s purpose and surprisingly, even falling in love during these two years of being cooped up in the secret quarters. In this unabridged version, she even touches upon a few adult subjects which pique her interest. Her conflict with her mother is also described in great detail, where Anne claims that her parent does not understand her at all. She also ends up saying some very foolish and hurtful things to her father which she regrets later on. Having gone through similar troubled teen years myself, I could relate and sympathize with her parents for bearing with her and loving her unconditionally at the same time.

Despite the turbulent times, Anne was quite mature and wise beyond her thirteen or fourteen years. She was a deep thinker and keen observer of human behaviour,  painting such a vivid picture of all the different members of the house that it was easy to see their individual personalities through her eyes. Anne was a voracious reader whose interests lay in history, Greek and Roman mythology, art, poetry and searching for family trees. She also was a huge fan of film stars, the photos of whom she pasted all over her room’s walls.

I found Anne a very colourful and interesting personality – a girl with a great sense of humour, someone who maintained her ideals, had lots of opinions about everything and who could carry out deep conversations at great length. Towards the end of the book, she herself mentioned that although she sometimes acted superficially with her school peers and friends, she badly wanted someone with whom she could talk about subjects that hadn’t seen the daylight.

Only one thing was going through my mind when I read this surprisingly easy and funny book. It was how bold and fearless Anne was for a girl her age in those unstable times. She had a zest for life and an inimitable spirit that many would have lost in such a precarious situation. Despite the dismal circumstances, Anne talked of only hope, positivity and a beautiful life that was meant to be enjoyed. Anne also described in great detail, the goings on of the shared household from the conflicts that arose from living under the same roof with another family to almost being discovered by burglars and other workers in the building as well as the plight of the Jews who were not so fortunate and were caught by the Nazis.

There comes about a vast change from the thirteen year old Anne in 1942 to the almost fifteen year old in 1944. She becomes more sensible and less prone to acting out which results in some very quotable quotes. Her last entry spoke of how everyone called her a ‘little bundle of contradictions’ and how she was fighting to bring out the real Anne in her which everyone was trying to suppress. All in all, this book was a wonderful read. It took me on a roller coaster journey of happiness, misery, helplessness, fear and hope and I was left with a heavy sadness in my heart after I read the epilogue. The diary was retrieved from the Secret Annexe and given to Otto Frank, Anne’s father and the only surviving member of the family, after her death in a Nazi concentration camp. Otto edited the diary and got it published in 1947, thus fulfilling her wish of  ‘going on living after her death’.

Anne was a treasure trove of wisdom. I had a really hard time deciding which of her passages to include in this post but after much deletion, I selected the below:

1. Riches can all be lost, but that happiness in your own heart can only be veiled, and it will still bring you happiness again, as long as you live. As long as you can look fearlessly up into the heavens, as long as you know that you are pure within and that you will still find happiness.

2. And in the evening, when I lie in bed and end my prayers with the words, “I thank you God, for all that is good and dear and beautiful,” I am filled with joy. I don’t think then of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains. My advice is: “Go outside, to the fields, enjoy nature and the sunshine, go out and try to recapture happiness in yourself and God. Think of all the beauty that’s still left in and around you and be happy!” And whoever is happy will make others happy too. He who has courage and faith will never perish in misery!

3. Keep your courage up! Like I do. Although it’s not always easy, your time may come sooner than you think.

4. I want to go on living even after my death! And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me.

5. How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then, without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time. Anyone can do this, it costs nothing and is certainly very helpful. Whoever doesn’t know it must learn and find experience that: ‘A quiet conscience, makes one strong!’

6. Because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are good at heart. I simply can’t build my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death.

Book Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Have you read a translated book originally written in another language that you highly recommend? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
You can also follow me on Facebook , InstagramTwitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

Email Facebook Instagram Twitter GoodReads BlogLovin
SIGNATURE

 

2015 Reading Challenge – Book #9 – Just William

Book #9 – A book you can finish in a day – Just William by Richmal Crompton
Genre: Children’s classic
Published: 1922
Country: United Kingdom
Book to TV/Movie Adaptation: Adapted from 1940 onwards for television, film, theatre and radio. More recently adapted for BBC in 2010.

Firstly, let me tell you, I failed at this challenge miserably. I was supposed to be able to finish this book in a day but…. I didn’t. I took five or six days to finish it!

I do not blame myself or the book for this failure at all but wholly give that honour to the internet for sucking my attention into its deep, dark vortex of everything and yet absolutely nothing. Each time. *sigh*

Just_William_coverAnyway, back to the topic of this popular children’s classic of the 1920’s and thereafter. I’d never heard of the Just William series when I was growing up. My childhood diet consisted of The Famous Five, Secret Seven, The Five Find-Outers and mostly all other Enid Blyton books. I came across these lovely treasures a few years ago in a little corner of the local supermarket, where a collection of books were being sold at an almost close-to-nothing price. I picked up three of these gems and thought to myself, “For this price, how bad can they be?”  I was wrong. They were not bad at all, they were BRILLIANT!

The collection of short stories are about William Brown, a little boy of eleven who has been born with the world’s most mischievous and restless bones in his body. He lives with his parents, an elder college-going brother Robert, a teenage sister Ethel and a dog called Jumble. William is the cause of constant grief in his household due to his free-spirited and oblivious-to-destruction nature.

A wild, runaway imagination and a gang of three other boys are his best friends. The four – William, Ginger, Henry and Douglas – call themselves the Outlaws and their past times include going on adventures, pretend kidnapping, playing Red Indians and consuming an extraordinary amount of sweets. Ah! Such fun!

Well, maybe not so much fun for his family! William is a vandal (as most mischievous boys are!) and he simply doesn’t understand why his father confiscates his favourite bow-and-arrow (after he breaks his neighbour’s windows) or why his own brother doesn’t want him around (after he unknowingly let slip of his brother’s hidden affections to a pretty girl and breaks his bicycle at the same time!) or why his parents won’t trust him to have a house party for his friends in their absence (after he and his friends devour ALL the food in the larder and wreck the house!)

Ginger found a splendid hiding-place in Robert’s bed, where his boots left a perfect impression of their muddy soles in several places. Henry found another in Ethel’s wardrobe, crouching upon her satin evening shoes among her evening dresses. George banged the drawing-room door with such violence that the handle came off in his hand. Douglas became entangled in the dining-room curtain, which yielded to his struggles and descended upon him and an old china bowl upon the sideboard. It was such a party as none of them had dreamed of; it was bliss undiluted. The house was full of shouting and yelling, of running to and fro of small boys mingled with subterranean murmurs of cook’s rage. Cook was uttering horrible imprecations and hurling lumps of coal at the door. She was Irish and longed to return to the fray.

I love Crompton’s style of writing. She describes characters, scenes and exaggerates William’s deviously boyish inner thoughts almost poetically.

The day of the ordeal drew nearer and nearer, and William’s spirits sank lower and lower. His life seemed to stretch before him – youth, manhood, and old age – dreary and desolate, filled only with humiliation  and shame. His prestige and reputation would be blasted forever. He would no longer be William – the Red Indian, the pirate, the daredevil. He would simply be the Boy Who Went to a Wedding Dressed in White Satin. His cheeks grew hot at the thought. His life for years afterwards would consist solely in the avenging of insults. He followed the figure of the blushing bride-to-be with a baleful glare. In his worst moments, he contemplated murder.

Just William is the first of 39 books in the series and I found an e-book version for this challenge. The books are laugh-out-loud funny and one cannot help but wonder how Crompton came up with such hilarious and creative tales, enough to fill 39 of them. While reading this book, I was wondering if she knew of such naughty boys personally or was one of the naughty ones herself or just had a naturally overactive imagination! You will cringe at the things William does, they are that destructive!

He reminded me of Dennis the Menace and maybe, just maybe J.K. Rowling must have had this little boy in mind when she wrote, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” After all, boys will be boys! 😉

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
You can also follow me on Facebook , InstagramTwitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

Email Facebook Instagram Twitter GoodReads BlogLovin
SIGNATURE

 

For the Love of Colin Firth – Kingsman: The Secret Service

Film: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Genre: Spy Action Comedy
Adapted from: The Secret Service comic book series created by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar in 2012
Cast: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Sofia Boutella
Country: United Kingdom
Release Dates: 29 January 2015

To be honest, I didn’t know much about this film when I impulsively decided to go watch it. All I knew was that one of my favourite actors Colin Firth was part of the main cast and that this was his first proper action film.

Naturally, I was very curious. The poker-faced king of period films and comedy, flying through the air delivering kicks and punches and shooting people through the heads? This I had to see.

My impulsive decision, however, mostly stemmed from the fact that one of my DayZero goals was to go to a movie by myself. I’ve written more about this here.

Kingsman - The Secret Service-001

The film’s popup at the cinema

The premise of the film is as follows: Harry Hart aka ‘Galahad’, a secret agent working for Kingsman: The Secret Service, an independent international intelligence agency in London, advises Eggsy, the messed up son of his deceased colleague, to get his act together and apply for a position as a Kingsman spy too. Eggsy, who has nothing to lose, agrees, and undergoes a selection process which includes rigorous training and a series of tough tests to demonstrate bravery and presence of mind in the face of danger.

Meanwhile, Galahad and the other Kingsmen try to find out the connection that a billionaire businessman has with the mysterious disappearance of influential world leaders who have safely returned each time. It is up to the Kingsmen to foil the attempts of a dangerous plot that could potentially wipe out entire mankind.

James Bond is the inspiration behind the original The Secret Service comics and of course this film. All the characters are nicely sketched and I couldn’t decide who I loved more. From the ambition-less Eggsy with his strong Cockney accent who transforms into a suave secret agent to the hilariously bright personality of environment loving Valentine, all the characters had their own quirks.

Kingsman-The-Secret-Service-Team

L-R – Valentine, Gazelle, Eggsy, Galahad and Arthur

What amazed me above all was of course Colin Firth’s new action hero avatar. In the bar fight scene, I was sitting there with my eyes wide, my mouth opened in awe and my breath hitched, watching him deliver some well-deserved punches and tackle the ‘mannerless’ bad guys nonchalantly using a very special black Brigg umbrella and a mildly bored expression on his serious face. Did I mention how much I love Colin Firth?

colin-firth-kingsman-the-secret-service

The bar fight scene

For a girl who doesn’t usually watch too many hard action films, I LOVED this one and immediately wanted to watch it again. I mean, what’s not to love? A modern day London setting: CHECK. Debonair British spies in dapper suits and oxfords: CHECK. Ingenious spy gadgets and underground bullet capsule trains: CHECK. Colin Firth with his unique brand of deadpan British sarcasm and dry humour: CHECK. Samuel L. Jackson’s foul-mouthed, rough-talking villain with a strong lisp who cannot stand the sight of blood: CHECK. A ruthless beautiful woman with steel prosthetic legs that double as weapons: CHECK and CHECK.

cdn.indiewire.com

The church fight scene

The plot was really simple, all the elements fit very well and the story had a good balance of humour and seriousness to make it entertaining. To break the monotonous tones of the suited gents, there was Valentine who was always clad in bright neon colours which I loved. The five minute (or more!) church fight scene was the turning point from where things took an unexpected turn. The intricate choreography was shot speedily with the camera following the chaotic movements of Galahad and others present which added much to the thrill. In the last fight sequence, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), Valentine’s lady henchman who did all his dirty work, performed some very athletic leaps and stunts including cleverly added freestyle movements (she is a real life hip-hop and freestyle dancer) which were a bit unnecessary but looked good. Not to forget, the splendid firework special effects towards the end, the details of which I dare not give away, were real fun to watch.

I think this movie was well-paced and I was entertained throughout. I would definitely watch it again in the cinemas given the opportunity. Oh, and if you’re planning to watch the film, make sure to stick around till the middle of the end-credits for an added scene. 🙂

Film Rating: 4.5 out of 5

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
You can also follow me on Facebook , InstagramTwitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

Email Facebook Instagram Twitter GoodReads BlogLovin
SIGNATURE

 

Take-A-Step Thursday #2 – Going Solo

TakeAStepThursday 2“One ticket for Kingsman: The Secret Service please.” I nervously but excitedly ask a bored-looking box office agent at the mall’s multiplex cinema on a Monday afternoon.

He nods and asks, “The show is at 12:30pm. You want a ticket for 4D or 2D?”

After comparing the prices of 4D and 2D, I opt for the latter. The agent asks me to choose my seat on the screen and I observe that only a handful of seats have been taken. This is to be expected since it’s almost lunch time on a work day. I choose a seat in the right hand corner of the last row at the back and part with my money. He hands me the ticket and I place it carefully in my wallet. Phew. He didn’t say anything.

I have some time to kill so I head to the shops. An hour passes away quickly and it’s almost time for the movie to start. As I climb up the few stairs to the cinemas and hand my ticket to the usher, I feel nervous again. He merely tears a portion of the ticket and hands the other back saying, “Kingsman. Cinema 3. Enjoy the movie ma’am.” I smile and say, “Thank you.” Phew. he didn’t comment either.

The movie theater is silent and the overhead orange lights are dim but enough to lead the way. I climb up the right aisle staircase and notice that a couple of solo movie patrons are already seated here and there. I head towards the back row, locate my seat and breathe a sigh of relief again. Phew. I’m not the only one.

As I settle down and fidget with my phone to silence it, I notice a few more people entering the theater. Some are on their own while some are in pairs. My heart speeds up as a pair of giggly ladies squeeze past me and settle down just a few seats away. I relax when I realize they are too engrossed in their tub of popcorn to notice anything. The lights go dark and the screen lights up with the first advertisement. I pray to God no one else has tickets to the back row. Suddenly, I stiffen up as two gentlemen, obviously playing hooky from work seat themselves right next to me and start talking. I begin to wonder what their line of work is. Probably something to do with outdoor sales so they can leave the office whenever they want? One of them receives a phone call and my earlier suspicion is confirmed when he says, “I am busy right now. Can I call you later?” Aha! So he is clearly avoiding work-related stuff today. He silences the phone and continues talking to his friend. The ads are still playing and I contemplate moving to the row below to avoid their chitter-chatter. God is on my side when the two men suddenly get up and move to the row below just as the movie is about to start. I thank my lucky stars and shift one seat closer to the aisle, distancing myself some more from the popcorn-crunching ladies and settle down to watch the movie in peace hugging my rucksack against me like a pillow. Phew, let’s get the fun started.

Maybe watching a movie alone isn’t such a weird thing after all.

“Go to a movie by myself.” I was starting to wonder if setting this DayZero goal was a hasty decision on my part or something that I would actually accomplish one day. I had never gone to the movies alone. Actually I had. I’d been alone to the movies a couple of times before, but that was during my several years working at a film festival where watching foreign films or a big film premiere after a work shift was how we would sometimes unwind, be it alone or in the company of another. I never considered it as a special ‘me time’ activity since I knew everybody at the festival and would run into one colleague or the other who was also there to enjoy a film.

But watching a movie alone in an actual theater? Now that was something outside my comfort zone. I knew a few people who did it all the time and I used to find it strange. Like the only reason they were going alone was because they had no friends or family who would go with them. I am sure that it’s not true but somehow I had that wrong impression in my mind.

Come Monday morning, a couple of days ago, I was Googling “solo activities to do” (no kidding) because I wanted to read about people’s experiences of doing something by themselves. I came across some great stuff like this blog. As I read more and more experiences, I began to feel confident and inspired. I immediately took out the daily tabloid and scanned the movie page. I got excited when I saw that Kingsman was playing because this was Colin Firth’s first proper action film and I wasn’t going to miss it for the world.

I acted on impulse and went to the mall a couple of hours later. It was now or never and I am so glad I didn’t let my mind talk me out of it. Yes, I was a bit intimidated and felt vulnerable. Yes, I was worried about what the box office agent and the usher were thinking. I was also worried about the giggly ladies and the chatty men but when I saw that there were so many people who had just come on their own, I realized it wasn’t such a big deal after all. I’ve done bigger, scarier things alone in my life and this was just going to the movies.

I thoroughly enjoyed a movie for once without talking to anyone and just being in the moment. It was great fun and I can see why more people are tempted to engage in solitary activities. I learned an important lesson too – not to wait around for someone to tag along with you wherever you want to go and then feel disappointed when they don’t want to. If you can’t find a friend, you be your own partner in crime.

What have you been inspired by to do this week? Write about it on your blog and tag it TakeAStepThursday and link back to the original post on my blog. 🙂

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
You can also follow me on Facebook , InstagramTwitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

Email Facebook Instagram Twitter GoodReads BlogLovin
SIGNATURE

2015 Reading Challenge – Book #7 – The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Book #7 – A popular author’s first book – The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Genre: Murder Mystery/Crime
Published: 1920
Country: United Kingdom
Book to TV/Movie Adaptation: Adapted for TV in 1990 and subsequently for BBC Radio as well as several touring plays.

christie-mysterious-affair-at-styles-bookcover

What do I say about the Queen of Mystery and Crime? She has set the bar so high for me, that I have yet to read a mystery that can match her level of ingenuity and simplicity. Her characterizations, settings and plots are so deceptively simple yet so clever in their detailing, it is impossible to not be able to imagine them in your mind’s eye. The picture she portrays is crystal clear.

This is her first novel and set in the middle of the First World War. We are introduced to Arthur Hastings, a young man of about thirty years who has been given a month’s leave from the Army to fully recover from an injury he sustained a few months ago. Having no close relations, he is unsure of where to go when he runs into an old friend John Cavendish. John invites Hastings to spend his leave at his home in the village of Styles St. Mary in Essex county, an invitation which Hastings accepts. On the way, John tells Hastings about his old stepmother’s recent remarriage to a much younger man who is disliked by everyone in the house. Hastings senses the hostility towards Mr. Alfred Inglethorp, Mrs. Emily Inglethorp’s younger husband and within a fortnight of his stay, witnesses several arguments in the household. A tragedy occurs when Mrs. Inglethorp is violently killed a few days later by way of strychnine poisoning.

The local police and Hastings unofficially employ the help of trusted friend Monsieur Hercule Poirot, a very famous Belgian detective now seeking refuge in Styles in his old age. Poirot loves a good mystery to exercise his little ‘gray cells’ and is a neat freak who likes order in his surroundings and thought. Despite several odd eccentricities that he is prone to display, Poirot is a very clever man who lets no small detail or information escape his mind.

Hastings is a man with much emotion yet little imagination. He is often baffled at the way Poirot’s overactive mind sees details that no one can see.  Poirot is a man with a method to his madness that only he can understand. Together, the two attempt to solve the mystery that has even got Scotland Yard involved.

The pairing of Poirot and Hastings is akin to Holmes and Watson, indeed the inspiration for the two has been derived from Doyle’s novels, but Christie’s writing style is her own. Her language is uncomplicated and timeless and her insight into human psychology makes for very interesting characterizations, each possessing their own quirks and idiosyncrasies. In fact, body language and expression play a very strong role in her novels.

What I love about Agatha Christie’s writing is her ability to keep the mystery alive till the very end. All the facts of the case are straightforward and laid bare on the table, making you think deeply along with the characters in the book. However, there is a purposeful enjoyment she derives in leading her readers astray. You think you have figured it out but the ending completely shocks you and you realise how far you had been thrown off track. This is a charming characteristic I have not seen in most mystery writing.

Despite my amateur attempts at sleuthing, I definitely did not guess the mystery right as expected, but I also wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending of this one. I have absolutely enjoyed her subsequent novels more than this first attempt. Having said that, I will definitely recommend anyone to read this book, just to get acquainted with Poirot and Hastings and see if they can solve the mystery.

Book Rating: 4.5 out of 5

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
You can also follow me on Facebook , InstagramTwitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

Email Facebook Instagram Twitter GoodReads BlogLovin
SIGNATURE

2015 Reading Challenge – Book #4 – The Five Red Herrings

Book#4 – A book with a colour in the title – The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers
Genre:
Murder Mystery/Crime
Published:
1931
Country:
United Kingdom
Film/TV Adaptations: Adapted for television in 1975. Available for viewing on YouTube.

The Five Red Herrings

The plot is deceptively simple – an unpopular town artist is murdered and suspicion falls upon six of his artist peers with whom he had several unpleasant encounters previously. Five of them are red herrings (or distractions) to keep the authorities from finding out who the real murderer is.

The setting is breathtaking. The adjacent towns of Kirkcudbright, Gatehouse of Fleet and Newton-Stewart with quaint cottages, rolling hills, ramshackle castles and rocky creeks which are part of the Galloway countryside in Scotland provide the handsome premises of the story.

In the beginning, we are introduced to a very drunk and arrogant Campbell in a local pub who provokes a fellow painter, leading to a physical brawl. Several other townsfolk who also find Campbell insufferable, bear witness to this disagreeable situation. Among the people present, is also Lord Peter Wimsey, an Englishman and a fairly newer member of the Galloway community.

The next afternoon brings some unfortunate news. Campbell is found dead by the river Minnoch, in the hills near Newton-Stewart. Luckily, a good old-fashioned mystery is right up Lord Peter Wimsey’s alley and he sets off gleefully in his large Daimler Double-Six to assist the local authorities in solving this case.

Despite the straightforward scenario, the book is utterly maddening, infuriating and exhausting to say the least.

Many difficult elements in this book made for a very laborious read. Too many things were happening at once, creating a tangled web of confusion. Train schedules and routes were so excessively mentioned that it became apparent that the author spent too much time at railway stations poring over train timetables rather than creating a lucid plot. Coupled with that were sudden disappearances of five of the six suspects and quite a few bicycles that dragged the story unnecessarily to the point of sheer frustration.

In fact, the author too shares the same opinion when a dialogue is shared between Wimsey and his faithful manservant.

“Bunter,” said Wimsey, “this case resembles the plot of a Wilkie Collins novel, in which everything happens just too late to prevent the story from coming to a premature happy ending.”

The heaviest use of Galloway slang and accent, although very intriguing in the beginning, slowed down the reading process considerably and I found myself reading these dialogues aloud (in what I considered to be a very good Scottish accent) to get the gist of the conversations.

Like an overcooked melange of conflicting textures and flavours, the involvement of too many characters than was crucial to the plot, completely spoiled the broth.  These included Wimsey, seven official investigators, six suspects and their families, friends, housekeeping staff, neighbours and several other witnesses. It seemed that the whole country was involved in this village mystery.

What was absolutely the last straw was when each official would reconstruct the crime each time a small clue was found and endless possibilities and theories were made to be proved. This must have easily happened at least 15 times in the whole novel. In the end, all seven of the officials and Wimsey gathered to tell their own versions of the sequence of events. It was like swimming through a muddy river with nothing in sight.

Sayers mentions in the beginning of the book that every place described is real (even the irksome train schedules). When Wimsey finds out about the murder, he sets off in his car to the scene of the crime, which is some distance away from the towns. His journey is through a beautiful part of the countryside but it was difficult for me to picturise it due to the overly-described sceneries to the point where I felt like a lost tourist. I felt it was necessary for me to be acquainted to some degree with what was being described about. Google came to my rescue and I found a blog post where the blogger had actually followed Wimsey’s journey in person and posted pictures of the same. You can find the blog post here. 

This book took me the LONGEST time to get through and to abandon it held a strong appeal. Several times I had the urge to press delete (since I was reading an ebook version) and start reading another one. However, since I had publicly declared it on Instagram that this would be my next read, I was determined to see this book through even though it literally put me to sleep each time.

This book is NOT an exciting page-turner in my opinion, in spite of the beauty of the locale and the plot. Google also tells me that many Dorothy fans share the same opinion that this wasn’t her best work.

Some of my favourite parts of the novel, including a lovely typically English breakfast description are:

1. It was a marvellous day in late August, and Wimsey’s soul purred within him as he pushed the car along. The road from Kirkcudbright to Newton-Stewart is of a varied loveliness hard to surpass, and with a sky full of bright sun and rolling cloud-banks, hedges filled with flowers, a well-made road, a lively engine and the prospect of a good corpse at the end of it, Lord Peter’s cup of happiness was full. He was a man who loved simple pleasures.

2. ‘It depends on how clever you are,’ replied Wimsey, coolly. ‘You remember Poe’s bit about that in The Purloined Letter. A very stupid murderer doesn’t bother about an alibi at all. A murderer one degree cleverer says, “If I am to escape suspicion I must have a good alibi.” But a murderer who was cleverer still might say to himself, “Everyone will expect the murderer to provide a first-class alibi; therefore, the better my alibi, the more they will suspect me. I will go one better still; I will provide an alibi which is obviously imperfect. Then people will say that surely, if I had been guilty, I should have provided a better alibi. If I were a murderer myself, that is what I should do.” ’

3. After a further interval came a large and steaming tea-pot, a home-baked loaf, a plate of buns, a large pat of butter and two sorts of jam. Finally, the landlady reappeared, escorting the ham and eggs in person.

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
You can also follow me on Facebook , InstagramTwitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

Email Facebook Instagram Twitter GoodReads BlogLovin
SIGNATURE