Monday, 11 February 2013

A film, a book and a TV show

This month's recommendations include a book with cake in the title, a film starring one of my favourite actors and a TV show with subtitles.

First off, the book in question is Life, Death and Vanilla Slices by comedian turned author Jenny Eclair (so in fact cake in the title and author's name!). This book was chosen at the first meeting of the new book club I joined last month. I don't read often enough but knowing I had to finish it before the next meeting motivated me to get stuck in and I read it in just a few days, which is pretty good for me.

Here's the synopsis:

Poor Jean Collins. She stepped out into the road without looking and now lies broken in hospital. But what distracted her? And why was she carrying a box of vanilla slices, the cream cakes she only ever bought for special occasions? Jean's daughter Anne travels back up north to find out. But her mind is on her teenage sons in London - boys on the brink of becoming not very nice men. What damage could they do in just a few days? (Quite a lot, probably.) Meanwhile there are secrets waiting for Anne and Jean, back at the old family home. Secrets that were buried a long time ago ...

Jean and her daughter Anne have become all but strangers over the years and know very little about each others lives these days. The story of how and why is gradually revealed, and the unusual method of having each chapter from either the mother or daughter's point of view lends itself to some interesting developments for the reader. It's quite an easy read and after the first few short chapters I was hooked. It's poignant, terribly sad in places but also darkly funny and beautifully observed.  Recommended.

Flight is a newly released film starring the magnificent Denzel Washington as the alcohol and drug-using pilot of a doomed flight. He manages to save most people on board by employing a particularly hair-raising method of keeping the plane from plummeting to the ground, but his heroics soon give way to accusations and questions about his sobriety.  We soon find out that his life is ruins because of his excesses.

Have a look at the trailer:

In my opinion Denzel Washington is always value for money in any film. He adds a natural gravitas, and in Flight he's compelling as Whip Whittaker although it's a departure from his usual heroic roles.

There are also great performances from the rest of the case, specifically John Goodman as Whip's dealer and Kelly Reilly as a drug-addict trying to turn her life around.

It's quite a long film (2 hours 20 mins) so be prepared. Oh, and probably not a film to watch before you go on a flight.

Image source
I'm a bit late to the Scandinavian TV drama but better late than never eh? I haven't seen The Killing or The Bridge but I recently stumbled upon the Danish political drama Borgen on BBC4. It's already on series 3, and I only caught the last 6 episodes but I'm already hooked and I'm tempted to watch the first two series to try and catch up.

It revolves around the Danish government, and the Prime Minister in particular. There's also her spin doctor, the other politicans and their relationship with the media and one particular news presenter who is also living with the spin doctor. Are you keeping up? Good.

The mixture of personal and working relationships, and the impact of politics on both their private and professional lives is completely absorbing,  although you can't take your eyes off the screen when anyone's talking lest you miss the subtitles. And the Danish language sounds so lovely!

Series 3 has just ended, but watch out for its return.