Monday, 29 February 2016

It's Been A Month

It's been a month since my knee operation and my level of frustration is reaching a maximum that I didn't know I had. I was meant to do the arthroscopy in order that my knee might not limit me so much any more. Instead I find myself, though thankfully with my previous problem 'fixed', still unable to perform the most basic of tasks. You haven't encountered embarrassment till you find yourself needing to ask for the key to the lift at your son's Parents' Day because, even in your early thirties, you find yourself unable to go up a staircase. Meanwhile an outing with my son last Saturday, my first since the operation, turned into an ordeal of trying to attract as little attention as possible whilst limping all the time. My reward for the brave act of trying to live 'normally' and browsing through a couple of stores? A swollen knee so painful I could not get around at home either for the remainder of the day.

I know there are more interesting things to talk about and I'm working on them for the next posts but I thought an update to my life might be more interesting than nothing at all in the meantime. After all, blogging is about expressing yourself and what better way of venting off frustration than to deal with it in writing? Here's hoping my life returns to normal someday soon.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Gearing Back to 'Normal'

For the past few months, my life's been in turmoil. I could say it was because as a working mother I never catch up, I could blame it on that I am trying to build a career as a writer whilst being said working mother during the day and therefore having to work nights and weekends. I could also blame it on my son's homework that literally takes hours out of my week (I've already grumbled enough about that in another post!) but really and truly, despite that all of these things bug me quite a bit and must be dealt with regardless, I am talking here about something totally different which is what has made my life a struggle for a few months.

I woke up on the 4th of November 2015 to a day I assumed would be like any other. What I had no idea was that by the afternoon I would have a nagging pain in my knee, which became accompanied by a limp as the evening wore on. Who knew that by the end of that day I'd be laid up unable to move my knee at all for the pain! With an assortment of pills, creams and physiotherapy my knee got only slightly less painful and I was unable to live a normal life for the excruciating pain till I finally got an MRI done and the result was a very obvious tear on the inside which would require a keyhole operation. This is the operation I mentioned recently that had me laid up at home recovering. The good news is that despite a very long journey to total recovery, I should now be able to resume my normal days and be able to walk although it is proving very difficult to bend my knee well or move it any way I want as I would have prior to the whole ordeal.

Admittedly, I won't be wearing heels or going on a hike anytime soon. I still have to manage to get into the driver's seat of my car, come to that! However, simple things like being able to pick up the book for my next review from the bookshop rather than requiring someone else to do it on my behalf for not being able to walk are a huge relief. It's amazing how a simple injury, if so I could call it) will so stop you in your tracks, literally.

So finally, the black cloud that forever accompanied my every movement, causing me to postpone an artist interview indefinitely, absent myself from a family wedding and generally disrupted my whole routine and dissuaded me from scheduling anything at all unless absolutely necessary, may finally have lifted.

The pain continues, hopefully only temporarily through the three months total of recovery, but the thought of being free to walk without inhibitions and not get tired out just from standing for two minutes, is in itself a push towards gearing myself to getting back on track with life. Let's hope the operation was a total success and that come the end of April latest, the pain will be gone, I'll be able to literally get back to crouching down by my son to play with him, and that the constant nagging feeling that I might wake up tomorrow and have to cancel any appointment I have for the pain will be a thing of the past.

The very idea that there is an end to the ordeal and that even now I should already be on the way to a total mend, is enough to propel me forward and help me achieve all the things that, laid up with nothing much to do for over two weeks, I thought up and now want to carry through.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Films To Watch This Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day tomorrow and whilst most couple will be enjoying a night out on the town or even a weekend break, some will, like us, have to make the most of it without leaving home (I'm still nursing my operated knee and can barely hobble around the house let alone wear heels and walk from the parking lot to the restaurant!!) Injuries aside, those of us with kids might also find it impossible to get someone to babysit and will have to make the most of a romantic dinner for two cooked by one of the partners once the little ones are asleep, maybe followed by a romantic film to suit the occasion. As most of my readers know, films are my speciality so today I'll be giving you an assorted list of romantic films you might like to watch with your better half. Please note trailers are available at the end of each linked review.

The Ugly Truth (2009)
A light and genuinely humorous romantic comedy that stars hunky Gerard Butler in the role of a chauvinistic tv show host who might be getting more than he bargained for when he accepts a job on a morning news show produced by Katherine Heigl's character Abby.

Music and Lyrics (2007)
This one's well worth a watch if you haven't seen it already. Starring two big names in romantic comedy films (Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore), this is about two people who could not be any more different and maybe that is why they work well together on their shared project of creating a song for Cora Corman, a commercial singer who loves their song... only to want to change it drastically! I wrote my thoughts on this one after the first viewing and I must admit I didn't do the film justice at the time, it's even better than I'd said! I must also point out that at the time I had written that it is good for kids to watch but I have to admit some scenes are pretty PG. In any case, here's my verdict at the time: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2014/06/my-two-cents-worth-music-lyrics.html

About Time (2013)
I will never stop recommending this one. It is more than a romantic comedy and it also teaches us a lesson or two but it is primarily a fun ride with main characters Mary and Tim. I have written at length about this one in my appreciation post on here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2014/09/its-about-time.html but for a more commercial review you may click here: http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/01/16/about-time-we-had-a-cosy-night-in/

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Old old old, and yet a must-see for all lovers of British films. It deals with love in the shape not only of 'the one' we should spend our life with but also close friends. Although not exactly a review, here is my take on the film that caused much hype twenty-two years back and is even now a title everybody has at least heard of: http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/04/09/my-guilty-pleasure-a-british-classic-film/

What's Your Number? (2011)
This one's about hot shirtless Chris Evans character Colin but no no, I side-track... it's actually about his neighbour Ally (Anna Faris) who might have had one too many lovers in her young life. Determined to settle down, she vows to herself she's not to ever exceed a twentieth boyfriend!

Love, Rosie (2014)
I left my current favourite for last! Having just reviewed this film only two months ago, here's what I think of this Sam Claflin/Lily Collins film: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2015/12/love-rosie-film-worth-watching.html

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Kissing Downton Abbey Goodbye

My latest article on EVE deals with the fact that Downton Abbey is now no more and gives us alternative films and series we should be watching if we want yet more of the actors we have come to love:


Thursday, 4 February 2016

On Viewing 'The Danish Girl' (2015)

I finally had the chance to watch The Danish Girl, which is one of those films I've been excitedly awaiting ever since filming started on it, which I believe was around a year ago. I remember quite well mentioning it as Eddie Redmayne's new well-researched project at the time he won the Oscar 2015 and when I therefore wrote a feature totally about him on EVE (here's the link if you'd missed it: http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/03/23/the-golden-boy-next-door/ )

In time, after the photo stills from the shoots were out, after all the promotional post-production work was done, and when we finally got the first glimpses of the film from the official trailers, it seemed to justify our anticipation, promising to be even better than The Theory of Everything, which had won Eddie the Oscar.

Fast forward to this week and my first viewing of the film in its entirety, I must admit my first reaction was unfortunately that of disappointment. Only minutes into the film I realised the direction, cinematography, everything to do with the filming in fact, seemed not to do the topic, as well as the fine young stars, justice. I am very much into artsy and I do understand that this was a more artistically inclined film than TTOE and yet director Hooper's latest film has failed to keep me enthralled.

That is not to say there were not bits of it that I loved immensely, from Hans' phrase "the Danish girl" when referring to Gerda (showing how the title encompasses both Einar's female side as well as his wife's gender) to the fact that the montage of landscapes from Einar's past (and his paintings) make up both the opening and closing scene, helping the narrative come full circle. In such instances, the production shows attention to detail.

However there are other places where an obvious lack of detail quite unnerved me, such as the missing scene where Lili and Henrik would have set their first date. It is obvious when the two meet that they had decided this beforehand, though they both of them seem to have had reservations about it. So why throw them together without prelude? Even Hans' transition from art dealer and Einar's childhood crush to a possible love interest to both Lili and Gerda is carried out behind the scenes it seems, without any actual transition happening in front of the audience?

From the start of the film it is obvious that there is to be a set of colour schemes that whilst being pleasing to the eye are also, unfortunately, pretty boring for a two-hour viewing. There is a repetition there, even in the contrasts, that quite echoes the monotone of the rhythm of the story.

This leads me to the question of just why did this film fail in comparison to both Hooper's legendary Les Misérables and Redmayne's best performance ever as Stephen Hawking only one year back?

In Les Mis, structure was the trick to making it all work and balance out. There were serious scenes and there were lighter moments (such as the song 'Master of the House' for some comic down-time). There were scenes full of actors and extras whilst 'Empty Chairs at Empty Tables' is a solo scene that shows the result of the revolution's massacre on life. Does The Danish Girl ever hint at any kind of measured pattern from one scene to the next? It seemed to me to fail in its continuity most of the time, both in plot and sequence, other than for its irritatingly unchanging pace.

Meanwhile James Marsh, in directing The Theory of Everything, proved to us all that there is no need for a documentary feeling to a story that can unfold as a drama above being biographical. In The Danish Girl it quite seems to me that both actors and scenes are telling a story rather than showing it. They move through their paces keeping time, flowing in and out of the story and from one place to the next, one relationship to the next even (Henrik and Hans both help see to this) without really being liquid enough in their moves.

Speaking of moves, I will still be praising Eddie Redmayne for impersonating the trapped Einar to transgender perfection because where credit is due I will give it nonetheless. Even Alicia Vikander engages with her heartfelt performance, making us pity the woman who so loves Einar and yet cannot keep him from slipping slowly further and further from the life they once shared. However my conclusion about this production is not as positive as I'd hoped and the production itself was aided further into cliché by the floating scarf that leads the credits right at the end of the last scene.