Saturday, March 22, 2008

Book Review - The Appeal

The Appeal By John Grisham Pub: Century, Random House Prolific authors can fall into the trap of formula plots, characters and similar settings. The Appeal has a familiar setting – the court system of Mississippi but that is where the similarity ends. An unexpected verdict against the Krane Chemical Company triggers a series of events that interested in the verdict will experience. Punitive damages of $US38 million and personal compensation of $US3 million to Jeanette Baker for the loss of her husband and son due to illness caused by the chemical pollution of the town’s water supply. Krane’s owner, Carl Trudeau, is convinced that the Court of Appeal in Mississippi will not be supportive of big business and will uphold the lower court’s decision. Thence begins the political intrigue to put in place a very conservative Judge who will vote to reverse the decision. In a system where Judges are not appointed but elected, all is possible … corruption, conspiracy and deceit. Can effective marketing using all aspects of campaigning with a young, inexperienced but manipulated lawyer really place an ally on the bench? In a year where the focus is on the American Presidential Campaigns, one can only wonder whether or not the scenario painted by John Grisham is possible at the very highest of American Government. Using his easy to read style, John Grisham depicts characters that are believable and with whom it is easy to empathise. Jeanette Baker worn down by the emotional trial with its uncertainty, Wes and Mary Grace Payton – the husband and wife legal team who had mortgaged everything to represent Jeanette, Carl Trudeau an arrogant multibillionaire who did not believe in the word “Lose”, Ron Fisk – the young lawyer being manipulated into the race for the judiciary – are all characters that are easily identified with and either liked or hated. The events depicted are realistic and I hope will make the cinema screen at some stage. Grisham’s research into the system is meticulous and shows the detail that he uses to write a successful book. I found it difficult to put down and left me questioning what could happen in an electoral system.

Movie Review - The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl Gone are the traditional portly stances of Henry VIII as he pursued the young beauties in his court. Young, virile, athletic, demanding, sensual are adjectives that come to mind when looking at Eric Bana’s portrayal of Henry in The Other Boleyn Girl. Centred around the Boleyn family’s interaction, deception, intrigue and manipulation, The Other Boleyn Girl portrays both Anne [Natalie Portman] and Mary [Scarlett Johansson] as sisters who have their lives inextricably changed when Henry visits their home for a weekend. Amidst the pomp and social events, it has been arranged by Anne’s father [Mark Rylance] and her uncle, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk [David Morrisey] that Anne will be put forward as a mistress for Henry. After a hunting accident, it falls to Anne to care for the King and his focus changes to her leading to animosity between the sisters. Anne bears Henry a daughter but soon falls out of favour with him when she fails to deliver the long sought after male heir. Enter Anne after a period in the French court. Anne is an intellectual match for Henry and soon finds favour with him. When Henry’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon is finalised, including the historical breaking with the Roman Catholic Church, Henry weds Anne and she is crowned Queen of England. She bears Henry a daughter, Elizabeth, but also fails to bear the male heir. The saga continues …. Jane Seymour comes to court …… Justin Chadwick, Director, makes the most of the story with tight scripting that enable the cast to develop believable characters. The luxurious costuming and sets add to the feel of realism supported by an empathetic soundtrack. The overall historical events may have been accurate with the conversations although fictionalised support with believability. The Other Boleyn Girl I thoroughly enjoyed especially with the radical overhaul of Henry. Another DVD to be added to my collection.

Movie Review - Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead A jigsaw quite often isn’t complete until all the pieces are in place and the final picture is revealed. “Before the devil knows you’re dead” is just like that. Starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marissa Tomei in a formidable ensemble cast, “Before the devil knows you’re dead” uses forward and backward time sequences to complete the jigsaw. Andrew Hanson [Phillip Seymour Hoffman] and his brother Hank [Ethan Hawke] hatch a plan to rob their parents’ jewellery store to fund their excessive debt. The well thought out plan goes terribly wrong with both finding themselves in a situation that triggers a series of events that send them, Andy’s wife, Gina,[Marissa Tomei], and their father Charles Hanson [Albert Finney] towards a dramatic and unsuspecting finale. By using the time sequences, Director Sidney Lumet tells the tale with masterful strokes. Different camera angles of the same scene replayed add further to the suspense slowly giving clues to the audience. To dwell on the plot would spoil it for possible viewers - it is a movie to be experienced with out pre-knowledge. Cinematography is brilliant with differing angles, long sweeping shots juxtapositioned with intense close-ups all add to the suspense and the revelationary nature of each scene. This is supported by a brilliant score that does not in anyway over power the plot nor the brilliant acting. This is one movie that will make my DVD collection when it is released.

An Adventure

Well this is the start of an adventure - a blogging adventure. I have heard and have read a few and it is about time to start and develop my own. With fear and trepidation, I set out with just the basic tools - some words in my head, an idea and the assistance of So let's see where this goes.