Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

The Widows of Malabar Hill
by Sujata Massey

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2018
Publisher: Soho Press
Genre: Mystery, Historical, India
Hardback: 385
Rating: 5

Perveen Mistry series:
The Widows of Malabar Hill
A Murder on Malabar Hill

First sentence(s):
On the morning Perveen saw the stranger, they’d almost collided.

Bombay, 1921: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father's law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's rights.

Mistry Law is handling the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen goes through the papers, she notices something strange: all three have signed over their inheritance to a charity. What will they live on if they forefeit what their husband left them? Perveen is suspicious.

The Farid widows live in purdah: strict seclusion, never leaving the women's quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate and realizes her instincts about the will were correct when tensions escalate to murder. It's her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that nobody is in further danger.

My two-bits:

Got a sense of Parsi culture especially the situation with women who are secluded and not. Also, a look at some of laws in India of the times as the protagonist is a lawyer.

Flickers of feminism are present.


* part of Books, Inc. Foreign Intrigue Book Club (here)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Blog All About It: Luck

Lucky to get a hopeful fortune after experiencing a recent string of bad luck.


Hardboiled & Hard Luck
by Banana Yoshimoto
translated by Michael Emmerich
-Short stories, Japan | Goodreads

Something luck related from one of my favorite authors.


Just My Luck
Director: Donald Petrie
Screenplay: I. Marlene King, Amy Harris
Story by: Jonathan Bernstein, Mark Blackwell, James Greer, I. Marlene King
Stars: Lindsay Lohan, Chris Pine
-Comedy, Fantasy, Romance | imdb

Looks like a cute one with a young Lindsay and Chris.


* part of the Blog All About It Challenge (here)

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy St. Patrick's Day with Sarah David-Goff and Anne Griffin

CELEBRATE today with Irish authors!

Last Ones Left Alive
by Sarah Davis-Goff
-Dystopia, Ireland | Goodreads
Release date: August 27, 2019

Remember your just-in-cases. Beware tall buildings. Always have your knives.

Raised in isolation by her mother and Maeve on a small island off the coast of a post-apocalyptic Ireland, Orpen’s life has revolved around training to fight a threat she’s never seen. More and more she feels the call of the mainland, and the prospect of finding other survivors.

But that is where danger lies, too, in the form of the flesh-eating menace known as the skrake.

Then disaster strikes. Alone, pushing an unconscious Maeve in a wheelbarrow, Orpen decides her last hope is abandoning the safety of the island and journeying across the country to reach the legendary banshees, the rumored all-female fighting force that battles the skrake.

But the skrake are not the only threat…

Sarah Davis-Goff's Last Ones Left Alive is a brilliantly original imagining of a young woman's journey to discover her true identity.


When All Is Said
by Anne Griffin
-Literary, Ireland | Goodreads
Release date: March 5, 2019

If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said?

At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual ­- though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.

Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories - of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice - the life of one man will be powerful and poignantly laid bare.

Beautifully heart-warming and powerfully felt, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said and done.


* found these authors amongst The Irish Times The debut books and authors to look out for in 2019 article (here)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Lovely Books and Things - 3.16.19

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)



1. Sunny, clear and warm spring day

2. Replacing the winter scarves with the spring scarves

3. Monday night chorus rehearsals for a Spring performance of Carmina Burana at the Herbst Theatre



Last Lover
by Can Xue
translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen
-Literary, China | Goodreads

HIGHLY recommended by Helen Oyeyemi who described it with excited passion.

Author event:

Green Apple Books on the Park, hosted a reading and Q&A with Helen Oyeyemi including a gingerbread treat to celebrate the release of Gingerbread. It was fun to learn that part of the inspiration for the story was from passing a gingerbread shop on a street while walking up to Prague castle (details).

by Helen Oyeyemi
-Literary, Magical Realism | Goodreads

Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories--equal parts wholesome and uncanny, from the tantalizing witch's house in "Hansel and Gretel" to the man-shaped confection who one day decides to run as fast as he can--beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.

Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there's the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it's very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (and, according to Wikipedia, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee's early youth. In fact, the world's truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread is Harriet's charismatic childhood friend, Gretel Kercheval--a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.

Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother's long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet's story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi's inimitable style and imagination, it is a true feast for the reader.

AND watched: in theatre

Captain Marvel (2019)
Director/Screenplay/Story by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Screenplay/Story by: Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Story by: Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve
Stars: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn
-Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero | imdb | my rating: 4

Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

OH, cool - an origin story of both Captain Marvel and Avengers.

AND watched: on DVD - nominated for the Oscar's 2019

Christopher Robin (2018)
Director: Marc Forster
Screenplay: Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, Allison Schroeder
Story by: Greg Brooker, Mark Steven Johnson
Based on characters by: A.A. Milne, E.H. Shepard
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael
-Animation, Adventure, Comedy | imdb | my rating: 4

A working-class family man, Christopher Robin, encounters his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh, who helps him to rediscover the joys of life.

DELIGHTFUL portrayal of Pooh and his buddies.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Calypso by David Sedaris

by David Sedaris

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Essays, Humor
Hardback: 272
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Though there’s an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age.

David Sedaris returns with his most deeply personal and darkly hilarious book.

If you’ve ever laughed your way through David Sedaris’s cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you’re getting with Calypso. You’d be wrong.

When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realization: it’s impossible to take a vacation from yourself.

With Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: these stories are very, very funny–it’s a book that can make you laugh ’til you snort, the way only family can. Sedaris’s powers of observation have never been sharper, and his ability to shock readers into laughter unparalleled. But much of the comedy here is born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.

This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’s darkest and warmest book yet–and it just might be his very best.

My two-bits:

I found that I knew most of these stories already from attending David's guest appearances while on tour. However, the stories were just as enjoyable to encounter again.


* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of Backlist Reader Challenge (here)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Milkman by Anna Burns

by Anna Burns
narrated by Bríd Brennan

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2018
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Genre: Literary, Coming of Age, Ireland
Paperback: 360
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The day Somebody McSomebody put a gun to my breast and called me a cat and threaded to shoot me was the same day the milkman died.

In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous.

Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

My two-bits:

I liked how this went into unexpected directions. Lots of mini stories embedded to create the scene and its people.


* Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2018

* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of the Tournament of Books 2019 (here)

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Lovely Books and Things - 3.9.19

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)



1. Sun breaking through rainy days even for just 10 minutes

2. Bundaberg Ginger Beer when feeling fizzy

3. Illustrations from Seoul’s Jee-ook Choi (here)



The Gilded Wolves
by Roshani Chokshi
-Fantasy, YA | Goodreads

PARIS was the attraction for getting this one.

Author event:

The Bindery in the Haight hosted a conversation and Q&A with Shoba Rao and Ingrid Rojas Contreras (author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree ).

Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao
-Literary, Feminism, India | Goodreads

A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.

When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima's father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the two girls are quickly drawn to one another. Savitha is even more impoverished than Poornima, but she is full of passion and energy. She shows Poornima how to find beauty in a bolt of indigo cloth, a bowl of yogurt rice and bananas, the warmth of friendship. Suddenly their Indian village doesn't feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to lock down for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend again. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India's underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face relentless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them.

In breathtaking prose, Shobha Rao tackles the most urgent issues facing women today: domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism. At once a propulsive page-turner and a heart-wrenching meditation on friendship, Rao's debut novel is a literary tour de force.

AND watched: in theatre

To Dust (2018)
Director/Writer: Shawn Snyder
Writer: Jason Begue
Stars: Géza Röhrig, Matthew Broderick
-Drama, Jewish | imdb | my rating: 5

Shmuel, a Hasidic cantor in Upstate New York, distraught by the untimely death of his wife, struggles to find religious solace, while secretly obsessing over how her body will decay. As a clandestine partnership develops with Albert, a local community college biology professor, the two embark on a darkly comic and increasingly literal undertaking into the underworld.

AH grief and its ways.

AND watched: on DVD

The Lego Movie (2014)
Directors/Screenplay/Story by: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Story by: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman
Based on LEGO Construction Toys created by: Ole Kirk Christiansen, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, Jens Nygaard Knudsen
Characters created by: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Peter Laird, Kevin Eastman
Stars: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks
-Animation, Action, Adventure | imdb | my rating: 5

An ordinary LEGO construction worker, thought to be the prophesied as "special", is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the LEGO universe into eternal stasis.

WATCHED this to prepare for watching the sequel. It is a clever and fun play on things lego.

AND watched: in theatre - nominated for the Oscar's 2019

Free Solo (2018)
Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Stars: Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin, Alex Honnold
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 5

Follow Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite's 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history.

BREATHTAKING views with nail-biter scenes.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, March 8, 2019

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister the Serial Killer
by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2018
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Genre: Literary, Thriller, Nigeria
Hardback: 226
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Ayoola summons me with these words—Korede, I killed him.

When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what's expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This'll be the third boyfriend Ayoola's dispatched in "self-defence" and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating a doctor at the hospital where Korede works as a nurse. Korede's long been in love with him, and isn't prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other...

My two-bits:

PULLS you in at the start. And even though you can guess as to what is going to happen, the unfolding of this story continues to engulf you.


* part of the Tournament of Books 2019 (here)

Thursday, March 7, 2019

America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo

America Is Not the Heart
by Elaine Castillo

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2018
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Literary, Historical, Filipino
Hardback: 408
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
So you're a girl and you're poor, but at least you're light-skinned—that'll save you.

Three generations of women from one immigrant family trying to reconcile the home they left behind with the life they're building in America.

How many lives can one person lead in a single lifetime? When Hero de Vera arrives in America, disowned by her parents in the Philippines, she's already on her third. Her uncle, Pol, who has offered her a fresh start and a place to stay in the Bay Area, knows not to ask about her past. And his younger wife, Paz, has learned enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. Only their daughter Roni asks Hero why her hands seem to constantly ache.

Illuminating the violent political history of the Philippines in the 1980s and 1990s and the insular immigrant communities that spring up in the suburban United States with an uncanny ear for the unspoken intimacies and pain that get buried by the duties of everyday life and family ritual, Castillo delivers a powerful, increasingly relevant novel about the promise of the American dream and the unshakable power of the past. In a voice as immediate and startling as those of Junot Diaz and NoViolet Bulawayo, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful telenovela of a debut novel. With exuberance, muscularity, and tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave home to grasp at another, sometimes turning back.

My two-bits:

Loved the bits of Filipino history intermingled with the Filipino American and immigrant experiences.


* part of the Tournament of Books 2019 (here)

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Happy Release: Yes She Can: 10 Stories of Hope & Change from Young Female Staffers of the Obama White House edited by Molly Dillon

Yes She Can:
10 Stories of Hope & Change from Young Female Staffers of the Obama White House

edited by Molly Dillon
-Non-fiction, Feminism | Goodreads
Release date: March 5, 2019

Return to President Obama’s White House in this anthology for young women by young women, featuring stories from ten inspiring junior staffers who joined his administration right out of college with the hope of making a difference.

Meet ten amazing young women who were so inspired by Barack Obama’s inclusive feminist politics that they decided to join his White House. Although they were technically the lowest ranked members—and all in their early to mid-twenties at the time—their high levels of responsibility will surprise you.

There’s Kalisha Dessources, policy advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls, who recounts the day she brought a group of African American girls (and world-renowned choreographer Debbie Allen) to the White House for Black History Month to dance for Michelle Obama; Molly Dillon, who describes organizing and hosting an event for foster care reform with Vice President Biden, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, and a hundred foster kids; Jenna Brayton, one of the members of the first White House digital team, who talks about an Obama initiative to bring together students of all backgrounds and ages from across the country to showcase their vision for the future through cinema; and more.

Full of never-before-told stories, here is an intimate look at Obama’s presidency, as seen through the eyes of the smart, successful young women who (literally) helped rule the world—and they did it right out of college, too.


Kick-off Women's Herstory Month with this latest release!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Happy Release: The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

The Wolf and the Watchman
by Niklas Natt och Dag
-Historical, Mystery, Sweden | Goodreads
Release date: March 5, 2019

One morning in the autumn of 1793, watchman Mikel Cardell is awakened from his drunken slumber with reports of a body seen floating in the Larder, once a pristine lake on Stockholm’s Southern Isle, now a rancid bog. Efforts to identify the bizarrely mutilated corpse are entrusted to incorruptible lawyer Cecil Winge, who enlists Cardell’s help to solve the case. But time is short: Winge’s health is failing, the monarchy is in shambles, and whispered conspiracies and paranoia abound.

Winge and Cardell become immersed in a brutal world of guttersnipes and thieves, mercenaries and madams. From a farmer’s son who is lead down a treacherous path when he seeks his fortune in the capital to an orphan girl consigned to the workhouse by a pitiless parish priest, their gruesome investigation peels back layer upon layer of the city’s labyrinthine society. The rich and the poor, the pious and the fallen, the living and the dead—all collide and interconnect with the body pulled from the lake.

Breathtakingly bold and intricately constructed, THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN (Atria Books; March 5, 2019; ISBN: 9781501196775; $28.00) brings to life the crowded streets, gilded palaces, and dark corners of late-eighteenth-century Stockholm, offering a startling vision of the crimes we commit in the name of justice, and the sacrifices we make in order to survive.

About the author:
Niklas Natt och Dag ("Night and Day") is a member of the oldest surviving noble family in Sweden. He enjoys playing the guitar, mandolin, violin, and the Japanese bamboo flute. THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN, his first novel, was named the Best Debut of 2017 by the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers and is being published in thirty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and their two sons.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Blog All About It: Pink


I got invited to MoAD (Museum of African Diaspora) and found the pink that I needed for the month. An exhibit, Phone Home by Sadie Barnett. Loved the sparkle covered books!


I went to the Balboa Theatre to watch the Oscar's show coverage on the big screen. Guest host comedian, Irene Tu was in the house to entertain during the commercial break. Had a blast :-)


by Anna Burns
-Literary, Ireland
Goodreads | my review | my rating: 5


Seolite by Lee Hi is one of my favorite South Korean Pop Albums with a lovely pink tinge.


* part of the Blog All About It Challenge (here)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Lovely Books and Things - 2.23.19

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)



1. Movie days and nights

2. Getting exciting news

3. Anka sticky bun with my latest read at Breadbelly



The Widows of Malabar Hill
by Sujata Massey
-Mystery, Historical, India | Goodreads

FOR my face-to-face group, Foreign Mystery Book Club.

Camp Austen:
My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan
by Ted Scheinman
-Memoir, Jane Austen theme | Goodreads

LOOKS like an entertaining one to add to my shelf of Jane Austen related stuff.

Freebie: from Free Little Library

When the Elephants Dance
by Tess Uriza Holthe
-Historical, Filipino | Goodreads

HIGHLY recommended by a friend.

AND watched: in theatre

Extreme Job (2019)
Geukhanjikeob (original title)
Director: Byeong-heon Lee
Writer: Se-Young Bae
Stars: Gong-Myoung, Lee Hanee, Seon-kyu Jin
-Comedy, Action, South Korean | imdb | my rating: 5

A team of narcotics detectives goes undercover in a fried chicken joint to stake out an organized crime gang. But things take an unexpected turn when the detectives' chicken recipe suddenly transforms the rundown restaurant into the hottest eatery in town.

HILARIOUS scenes intermingled with fun action and chicken ;-)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)
Director/Writer: Dean DeBlois
Writer/Based on book by: Cressida Cowell
Stars: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, F. Murray Abraham
-Animation, Action, Adventure | imdb | my rating: 5

When Hiccup discovers Toothless isn't the only Night Fury, he must seek "The Hidden World", a secret Dragon Utopia before a hired tyrant named Grimmel finds it first.

DRAGONS and what becomes of them - somewhat bittersweet.

The Mustang (2019)
Director/writer: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
Writers: Brock Norman Brock, Mona Fastvold
Stars: Matthias Schoenaerts, Bruce Dern, Connie Britton, Gideon Adlon
-Drama, Horses | imdb | my rating: 5
Release date: March 15, 2019

MUSTANG tells the story of Roman Coleman, a violent convict, who is given the chance to participate in a rehabilitation therapy program involving the training of wild mustangs.

This was a preview screening with director present for Q&A.

LOVED the character growth and horse bonding.

AND watched: in theatre - SF Indie Film Festival

I May Regret (2018)
Director/writer: Graham Streeter
Stars: Denise Dorado, Lisa Goodman, Darryl Stephens
-Thriller | imdb | my rating: 5

An older woman suffering from dementia is convinced that her young live-in nurse out to kill her and take her life's fortune. But people are not always who we think they are. And dementia has a strange way of unraveling the truth. It's all coming back. And, yes, it's killing her.

COOL take on a dementia story with light horror aspects.

Cruel Hearts (2018)
Director/Writer: Paul Osborne
Stars: Alev Aydin, Patrick Day, Bonnie Root
-Thriller | imdb | my rating: 5

A young man, Guy, discovers the woman he's been sleeping with is not only married, but married to Burt Walker, a notorious low-level crime boss. Worried that Walker will at some point discover the affair and kill him, Guy decides to be upfront, tell Walker about his transgression and beg for forgiveness. The ploy works, and the pair form a very unusual, and ultimately dangerous, friendship.

LIKED the unexpected turns in this one.

AND watched: in theatre - Mostly British Film Festival

Black '47 (2018)
Director/writer: Lance Daly
Story by: P.J. Dillon, Pierce Ryan
Additional material by: Eugene O'Brien
Stars: Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea
-Action, Drama, Ireland | imdb | my rating: 5

Set in Ireland during the Great Famine, the drama follows an Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, as he abandons his post to reunite with his family. Despite experiencing the horrors of war, he is shocked by the famine's destruction of his homeland and the brutalization of his people and his family.

This screening included Q&A with the director.

SOME Irish history and revenge action moves this one.

Pickups (2017)
Director/writer: Jamie Thraves
Writer/Stars: Aidan Gillen
-Comedy, Drama | imdb | my rating: 4

Pickups, the new film directed by Jamie Thraves, is about a man called Aidan (conveniently enough, played by Aidan Gillen) who is suffering from insomnia, back trouble and the breakdown of his marriage. Aidan finds solace in a number of strangers he picks up, although he's now concerned someone is stalking him. Work is getting on top of him too, he murdered a couple of people last week and he still has more people to kill.

THIS one can make your head spin as to what is real.

AND watched: in theatre - Modern Cinema: Jia Zhangke

LOVE how this festival has a focus on the body of work from a specific director. It also includes works that inspired the director or films recommended by the director. I chose three films by the director to get a feel for his work. The first two mentioned below included Q&A with the director.

Xiao Wu (1997)
Director/Writer: Zhangke Jia
Stars: Hongwei Wang, Hongjian Hao, Baitao Zuo
-Drama, China | imdb | my rating: 4

Little pocket thief Wu never got away from the streets like his friends did. He realises that he is alone, as his old buddy doesn't invite him for his wedding. When he falls in love with a hooker he is forced to think about his future. Can he break with his criminal past?

Zhangke's earlier work. Got a sense of the people and dire situations.

Ash Is The Purest White (2018)
Jiang hu er nü (original title)
Director/Writer: Zhangke Jia
Stars: Tao Zhao, Fan Liao, Yi'nan Diao
-Drama, Romance, China | imdb | my rating: 5

A story of violent love within a time frame spanning from 2001 to 2017.

Zhangke's current release. Got of sense of time, place and transition. I liked the focus on the female lead and her plight.

24 City (2008)
Er shi si cheng ji (original title)
Director/Writer: Zhangke Jia
Writer: Yongming Zhai
Stars: Jianbin Chen, Joan Chen, Liping Lü
-Drama, China | imdb | my rating: 4

Change and a city in China. In Chengdu, factory 420 is being pulled down to make way for multi-story buildings with luxury flats. Scenes of factory operations, of the workforce, and of buildings stripped bare and then razed, are inter-cut with workers who were born in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s telling their stories - about the factory, which manufactured military aircraft, and about their work and their lives. A middle-aged man visits his mentor, now elderly; a woman talks of being a 19-year-old beauty there and ending up alone. The film concludes with two young people talking, each the child of workers, each relaying a story of one visit to a factory. Times change.

FELT like a documentary with interviews to tell the stories.

Dong (2006)
Director/Writer: Zhangke Jia
Stars: Xiaodong Liu, Sanming Han
-Documentary, Drama, China | imdb | my rating: 4

China's greatest living filmmaker Jia Zhangke (Platform, The World) travels with acclaimed painter Liu Xiaodong from China to Thailand as they meet everyday workers in the throes of social turmoil. Liu Xiaodong is well-known for his monumental canvases, particularly those inspired by China's Three Gorges Dam project. In DONG, Jia Zhangke visits Liu on the banks of Fengjie, a city about to be swallowed up by the Yangtze River. The area is in the process of being "de-constructed" by armies of shirtless male workers who form the subject of Liu's paintings. Liu and Jia next travel to Bangkok, where Liu paints Thai sex workers languishing in brothels. The two sets of paintings are united in their subjects' shared sense of malaise in the face of the dehumanizing labor afforded them.

LOVED how the story of the artist, art subjects and art meaning interplay.

AND watched: in theatre - nominated for the Oscar's 2019

Never Look Away (2018)
Werk ohne Autor (original title)
Director/Writer: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Stars: Tom Schilling, Sebastian Koch, Paula Beer
-Drama, History, Thriller, Art, Germany | imdb | my rating: 5

German artist Kurt Barnert has escaped East Germany and now lives in West Germany, but is tormented by his childhood under the Nazis and the GDR-regime.

ENGROSSING - three hours long and didn't feel it.

Free Solo (2018)
Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Stars: Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 5

Follow Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite's 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history.

WOW. This dude is one of those extraordinary individuals.

Oscar Nominated Shorts (2018)

A Night at the Garden
USA/7 MINS/2018
Director: Marshall Curry
In 1939, 20,000 Americans rallied in New York’s Madison Square Garden to celebrate the rise of Nazism – an event largely forgotten from history. ‘A Night at the Garden’ transports audiences to this chilling gathering and shines a light on the power of demagoguery and anti-Semitism in America.

Black Sheep
UK/27 MINS/2018
Director: Ed Perkins
After the high-profile killing of Damilola Taylor, Cornelius’ family move out of London. But when they discover their new town is run by racists, Cornelius takes a drastic step to survive.

End Game
USA/40 MINS/2018
Director: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Where will loved ones spend their last days? Who will be in the room? What feelings and secrets need to be shared with family before it is too late? ‘End Game’ probes these questions and more as it follows visionary medical practitioners who are working on the cutting edge of life and death.

USA/34 MINS/2018
Director: Skye Fitzgerald
Volunteers from a German non-profit risk the waves of the Mediterranean to pluck refugees from sinking rafts pushing off from Libya in the middle of the night.

Period. End of Sentence
USA/26 MINS/2018
Director: Rayka Zehtabchi
In a rural village outside Delhi, India, women lead a quiet revolution. They fight against the deeply rooted stigma of menstruation. ‘Period. End of Sentance’ tells their story.


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