Welcome to my Blogger page, thank you for visiting. This is where I will share my reviews of books, movies and other things I enjoy. If you would like to see my ramblings, fanfiction and other general posts, please visit my Livejournal: beren_writes. Visit my pages to learn about me and my books.
Top set of links above are external links, second set are pages local to the blog.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Tom Hiddleston dream - had to share :)


Had a Tom Hiddleston dream last night and it was so weird I had to share ::g::. Beware, this is a trip into my subconscious, sometimes a very wacky place.

It started off fairly normally, a friend and I (no idea who the second person was, I just knew there was someone with me) were in London. Even though it looked much more like Amsterdam or Haarlem, wide spaces between rows of buildings, impeccably clean, lots of bright sunshine and canals (it was the canals that gave it away), my brain insisted it was London.

Over the course of a few days me and my friend kept seeing Tom, mostly in nice coffee shops. My own bias kept showing because half the time he had a glass of wine in his hand even though I know instinctively one of the sightings was at about eight in the morning. (Don't ask me how, I just knew okay! ;)) He went from blond curly haired Hiddles to current hair and back again several times during this part of the dream.

Then this is where is started to get strange.

Suddenly, for no reason my dream decided to share, I'm walking down a road with Tom. He decides to do this odd balancing act on a metal beam next to this big house next to water and then dives into the canal. At which point I had the bright idea of pointing out that I couldn't do that so how was I supposed to follow him.

He gave me a look, y'know, a Prince Hal stern look, as he got out the other side, which was kind of nice since he was dripping wet, and then did something weird with the metal work so it made a little bridge to the front door of the house. He then came back through the canal (I'm blaming a soaked Hiddles fetish) and led me through the house explaining it was the only way to the other side of the canal. At this point I started trying to work out why we couldn't use the perfectly good road next to the house, but like a good Brit, didn't think I should mention it.

Then it gets weirder.

My invisible, just-know-he/she/it-is-there friend is back and we're following Hiddles down a road towards a huge shop. He's off in front making a huge gaggle of Japanese school girls all dressed like Sailor Moon and carrying Sharpe memorabilia (no I have no idea why Sean Bean memorabelia turned up at that point, I can only think it might have been some connection like, Hiddles = Shakespeare = Macbeth = bad Sean Bean production) die of giggle overload.

Then we get to the shop and I'm like, ooh, Forbidden Planet type shop (I'm blaming Moonlettuce for this reference) and I'm all excited, but we walk in and we're in a huge train station or something, no sign of the shop at all. My invisible friend has gone again as well (probably eaten by rabid Japanese fangirls ;)) and I'm disappointed for all of five seconds because then Hiddles is talking to me again and all is well.

He tells me he's actually one of three identical triplets and we're going to meet his brothers. One's a doctor and the other is a PhD physicist or something like that and he tries to say he's the thick one of the three. So I pointed out the double first from Cambridge and all the languages he speaks and he blushes beautifully at the praise and ... the bloody alarm went off!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Oh, my first spam.

I feel as if my blog is growing up, I've had my first spam comments. *clutches heart in a dramatic gesture*

FYI I've just turned off anon commenting. The blog allows Open ID etc, so you don't have to be a member of Blogger, but you do have to offer some form of identity.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

FB3X Drabble Cascade #3 - From the Pit (PG)

This week our prompt work for the Drabble Cascade is stone. It's actually one of my prompt words, thank you random number generator. In case you were wondering, that's how we're choosing the words. People have suggested them and we have them in a long list and use a random number generator to choose which one for which week.



From the Pit
by Natasha Duncan-Drake


Cold, dead stone surrounded him; his prison. They had thrown him down here calling him witch, sorcerer, demon.

He had never hurt them. Always tried to help and yet now they beat him and imprisoned him.

That he could have forgiven, but he had been in communion with her, touching her spirit. They had ripped him from that and then they had hurt her. He could not let that pass.

Falling down into the power that lived, inside he called to his lover, to nature, offering his magic, and she answered. Stone crumbled under roots and vines. They would pay.




Everyone is welcome to join the cascade. Full instructions are available here at this weeks intro post.


Monday, 25 March 2013

Short stories and a reader's expectations

The Nebula awards defines a short story as less than 7,500 wds, but I'm not sure what some people are expecting when they pick a book described as a short story.

Sometimes I see reviews declaring that a story was too short, but the book turns out to actually be novelette length which is up to 17.5K wds. This suggests to me the reviewer wasn't looking to read a short story. Some short stories don't deliver, some do, but you can't go into reading them expecting a novel.

One thing I can tell you, it's not going to have a long and complex plot, because if it is strictly a short story there aren't enough words for that. It might be an element in a long and complex plot, whether the author produces the rest of the plot in print of not, but with that number of words there is not going to be the whole thing. That's not to say short stories can't be complex, they can be, but you're never going to get War and Peace into 7.5K wds.

What a short story usually does have:
  • a beginning
  • a middle
  • an end
  • characters
What I look for in a short story is an encapsulated happening in that you meet the characters, something happens and then there is a resolution. It may not be the whole resolution, especially if the story is part of a series, but if there is no closure of anything, even on a small scale, I tend to feel cheated.

I am sure there are literary short stories out there that don't have all the elements, but if I'm reading genre, that's what I expect. I don't read literary fiction as a rule, because it doesn't have any of the things I like :).

I have read short stories I thought were absolutely brilliant, short stories that gave me nothing and short stories from every level in between. I love short stories, because they don't take the commitment to read that a novel does. I love novels too, but sometimes I'm just in the mood for something quicker to read. From a good author a short story can have all the richness of a novel, just with a less encompassing plot and fewer words.

It saddens me when I see a good short story on Amazon or Smashwords with a bad review because the person reviewing didn't take the time to read the part of the product description that says short story. Kindle are nice enough to tell you how many pages are in the book and Smashwords give you an approx word count, so even if it's not in the blurb the length is obvious.

Short stories are great, stop being down on them world because they are exactly what they advertise to be; short.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Everything seems to have been about movies or plays lately :)

Sorry that everything on here seems to be reviews lately, I am working on my A to Z April Challenge posts, so that's where all my random post energy is going :). I think it's going well. So far I have seventeen of the twenty six written.

All the ones in the table below in grey that have a strike-through font are done, only those in the clear cells are left to finish. I'm leaving J and T until last because I have to sort through thousands of photos for the best few to pepper into the posts :) - ah, such hardship ;).

Bizarrely, so far the hardest one to write has been K for Kryton.

I'm looking forward to V and W, but then they are two of my fav topics. I just haven't decided what to so for them yet :). I might write flashfic for one of the other, we shall have to see.

Soph is beta reading them all for me thank heavens, or you would all get to see my complete murder of the use of commas. Actually you probably see it in these more random updates. One day I will remember to put commas around subordinate clauses, or rather, at both ends of subordinate clauses, honestly I will.

April
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
01
A
Android
02
B
Bard
03
C
Cakes
04
D
Death
05
E
Effect
06
F
Favourite
07
/
08
G
Giggle
09
H
Harry Potter
10
I
Imagination
11
J
James McAvoy
12
K
Krypton
13
L
Love
14
/
15
M
Marvel
16
N
Natasha
17
O
Otherworldly
18
P
Publishing
19
Q
Q
20
R
Romance
21
/
22
S
Sex
23
T
Tom Hiddleston
24
U
Unicorn
25
V
Vampire
26
W
Werewolf
27
X
Xenomorph
28
/
29
Y
Yellow
30
Z
Zeus

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Review: Welcome To the Punch

Title: Welcome to the Punch
Cast:
James McAvoy - Max Lewinsky
Mark Strong - Jacob Sternwood
Andrea Riseborough - Sarah Hawks
Writer: Eran Creevy
Director: Eran Creevy
Summary: Max Lewinsky is a police officer in London and three years ago he almost caught Jacob Sternwood, top criminal single handedly. It almost cost him his career and when Sternwood, now retired, is forced to return to the UK because his son is involved in a shooting, Max is there to try and catch him. However, there are deeper things going on and nothing is quite so straightforward.

I read one review of this that said it was incoherent, but I have no idea what film they were watching. You have to pay attention, but that's because the story has details and makes perfect sense. I loved this film and can't wait for the blu-ray release.

One of the things I really liked about this movie, is it is a film all about guns and yet it sends the message that being unarmed is actually safer. Part of the plot is a politician trying to get support for London police officers to be armed, but the only reason Max is alive for most of the movie is because at the beginning he was unarmed. He also spends most of the film without a gun even though everyone else seems to have one. I thought it was brilliantly done.

James McAvoy plays Max Lewinsky, who, in the first few scenes is a fiery young police officer desperate to take down Jacob Sternwood, master criminal.

It doesn't go so well.

Three years later we meet a police officer who is good at his job, but who is toeing the line and not causing waves.

James does an absolutely superb job of showing us both sides of Max's character. Then, as the film goes on we see the old Max coming forth again, and boy can he kick arse when he wants to. He is brilliant as ever and gives us the complexities of Max as well as his failings. Also can I just take a shallow moment to say that James also looks very fine throughout this film :).

The second lead, Jacob Sternwood is also played brilliantly by Mark Strong. Left is how we see him at the beginning of the film as the sharp criminal, right is how we see him throughout most of the movie as the desperate father.

He is a bad guy; he shoots people, but he's also rather likeable and not as psychotic as the "evil bad guy" (as my brain kept referring to him), Warns. I suppose Sternwood is the gentleman theif where as Warns is the thug.

The third performance I want to talk about is Andrea Riseborough as Sarah. Sarah is Max's partner and exactly how he used to be before his tangle with Sternwood. She is strong, competent and calls Max on his shit as well as being the only one willing to support him against his dick of a colleague (and it's most annoying because I can't remember his name and IMDB don't have it).

There is a perfect moment between Sarah and Max that displays the depth of feeling they have for each other, but neither of them is willing to step over the line.

This film starts with a car chase, who could possibly not give it points for that. It's not a car chase sort of film mostly, but the one at the beginning is great. Interesting and not too long, just the way I like them :). It's not a big explosions kind of film either, but what it does have is some great gun battles. Three stand out in my head and they are all superbly put together.

There is a fast pace, good dialogue, great acting, superb plot and stunning visuals; this is a great film. It's even darkly funny in places, which is just brilliant. I can't recommend it more.

So, that is the end of my review, but I just have to add, be still my slashy little heart. Oh my, the fanfic vibes I got off this. Max and Sternwood have this staring into each others' eyes moment at the end of the film, admittedly over a gun, but it just fired every fanfic button I had. It's like Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, or Loki and Tony Stark; it just screams, we are enemies and yet we should be kissing madly :). See below and tell me I am wrong.


The trailer for those who are interested:

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Fantasy Boys XXX Drabble Cascade #2 - Word of the week: Moonlight

And we're on to week #2 of the drabble cascade. Thank you to everyone who played last week. This week our word prompt it moonlight and everyone is welcome to join the cascade, all you have to do is write a drabble, be it fanfic, original fic or even meta. The only rule is that is must be exactly 100 words.



Foolish Heart
by Natasha Duncan-Drake

They said moonlight was the key. If he looked into the pool under the light of the full moon he would see his one true love and then all this foolishness would be over. Once he knew who the girl of his dreams was, he could put all of his pining for his best friend's brother to the back of his mind and forget it.

The sky was clear, the moon bright and Liam closed his eyes and bent over the pool. He recited the sacred words and looked. His heart skipped a beat as Paul stared back at him.



If you would like to join the cascade then click the image below and it will take you to this weeks intro post that has all the details.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Top Ten Movie Countdown BlogFest - My Top Ten

So, choosing my top ten movies was really hard! I have a lot of movies I love and picking just ten was a big ask. I could pick ten vampire movies, let alone any others. In the end what I did was go through my DVD collection (which took a while) and pick all of my favourites and then agonise over which ones of those to pick. Hence there may be some eclectic choices in my list. Eventually I just went with the ones I've watched the most.

I hope there may even be a couple of titles in my list you may not have heard of. So in reverse order, here are my top ten.

#10 Rockula (1990) 

This is one of the ones most people probably haven't heard of for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact it isn't available on DVD. I have the VHS tape which I bought from the US several years ago after I had been looking for it for years having seen it on Sky.

This (if you hadn't guessed) is a vampire movie. It is one of those wonderful late 80s and early 90s comedy vampire movies and it has moments of sheer brilliance. It's about Ralph, a vampire, who wants to be a rock star so he can win the heart of his one true love, who is a singer. The problem is that he has a curse on him. Every time he meets his one true love, who is reincarnated over and over again, she's killed by a pirate with a rhinestone peg leg wielding a ham bone.

Bits of the movie are filmed like music videos, while other parts are straight up film and it is wonderfully put together. The music is fun and Toni Basil as Phoebe (Ralph's mom) is just brilliantly whacky.
This is not a film to be taken seriously, but it is truly wonderful.

#09 V for Vendetta (2005)

Now I'm not usually fond of dour, the future is bleak movies, I much prefer an upbeat future like Star Trek, but there is just something about this film I love. The characters are superb and the way Hugo Weaving manages to convey so much while wearing a mask, is just incredible.

This is a film about a bleak future where much is outlawed and the totalitarian society is run by an iron fist. V (Hugo Weaving) uses terrorist tactics to fight for freedom and gains Evey (Natalie Portman) as an ally when he rescues her from the secret police. Parts of it are gut wrenching and not all of it is easy to watch, but it is utterly captivating.

It makes me cry every time and yet I come back to it over and over.

#08 X-men First Class (2011) 

What to say about this one? Just in case you haven't heard about it, this is the X-men prequel and is all about the first meeting of Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr or Professor X and Magneto, as they are to become. It's set in 1962 when mutants are just really beginning to emerge and it's brilliant.

I can give you one simple reason I love this movie and that is James McAvoy, well James and Michael Fassbender actually, but James is my favourite.

James plays Charles and he's so unlike the bald, controlled, careful Xavier we are used to in the other X-men films that he's completely new. First of all he has hair, lovely, floppy brown hair that makes me want to run my fingers through it. Then he's a bit of a lush and just coming out of being an eternal student now that he has submitted his final thesis. He's naive and a little bit arrogant, but so well meaning and loveable. In a word; brilliant.

Then there is Michael as Erik; Charles' total opposite. Hard edged, volatile, dangerous and honed into the perfect weapon by his time in a Nazi concentration camp.

One of the best things about this film is the chemistry between the two leads. They make the screen crackle and are totally superb. They have this habit of playing chess which could totally be a euphemism for sex :).

#07 RED (2011) 

This film is simply genius. RED stands for Retired Extremely Dangerous and Bruce Willis plays Frank, a retired CIA operative, who is in love with a woman, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), he has only heard on the phone. He keeps ripping up his cheques just so he can ring her up and talk to her. They talk about a set of romance novels they are both reading.

However, when someone tries to burn him he has to go get her and run so that she doesn't get killed. Along the way they pick up Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich), Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Ivan (Brian Cox) while being chased by Cooper (Karl Urban). This film has action, romance, hilarious comedy, tragedy and everything else you could possibly ask for. It is brilliant and the cast is to die for.

#06 The Lost Boys (1987) 

It's hard for me to pin down exactly why I love this movie because there are simply so many reasons. This is the movie that started me on my drug of choice, which is vampire movies. These days I collect them and I have really good ones to really terrible ones.

I still think the late 80s and early 90s produced some of the best vampire movies in the genre. Some are funny, some are serious, but none of them took themselves too seriously, unlike some I could mention these days. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against totally straight vampire films, but teenage angst is given far too much credit these days. The Lost Boys does teenage angst, but it's far less emo and much more 'holy shit, I'm floating on the ceiling'.

I saw this film in the cinema when it came out and then I bought a copy of the VHS as soon as I could and the moment it was on DVD it was mine; I really must update to the Blu-ray soon. I can still quote most of it.

The basic plot is this: the Emersons move to Santa Carla because Lucy (Dianne West), the mom, has divorced and they have nowhere to live, except with Grandpa (Barnard Hughes). Sam (Corey Haim), the youngest son is of the MTV generation and just does not fit in, Michael (Jason Patric), the elder son is trying his best to help his mom and keep his little brother in line. What they didn't count on was vampires.

Michael starts running with a gang headed by David (Keifer Sutherland), because he falls for Star (Jami Gertz) who hangs out with them. He is tricked into drinking David's blood and starts turning into a vampire. Then it's up to Sam and some local teen vampire hunters (The Frog Brothers) (Corey Feldman, Jamison Newlander) to rescue him from the mess.

There are plot twists and humour and lots of action, and the script is beautifully put together. It is a classic and deserves its place in history. However, don't bother with the sequel, it is terrible, however, the third in the series is actually quite good. Not as good as the original, but not bad.

#05 Bicentennial Man (1999) 

I cry my way through the end of this movie every single time I watch it, but it is so good I always go back to see it again.

This film stars Robin Williams as Andrew, an android bought by Richard Martin (Sam Neil) for his family. It follows Andrew through his evolution from droid to synthetic human alongside three generations of the Martin family. It is an epic movie in the true sense of the word and it is touching and beautiful and poignant.
Have the tissues ready for at least three points in the film, but also be prepared to laugh and beam with joy, because it will take you on the whole journey.

#04 The Green Mile (1999) 

Another one that makes me cry; I'm seeing a theme, which is odd, because I don't like tragedies. Of course, I cry through E.T. as well, so it's not exactly Greek tragedy we're talking about.

This film has so many aspects I love; it has drama and supernatural powers and love and joy and sacrifice.
It also has scenes that make me hide behind cushions because they are so hard to watch.

All the characters are rich, good and bad, and the plot is complex and winding and exciting and heart wrenching. I don't think I could take the end in many films, but the way it is written is so well balanced that it rips my heart out, but patches it back together again. Tom Hanks is superb as Paul Edgecomb, the prison guard who comes to learn there are far more things in this world than he understands and Michael Clarke Duncan (RIP) is just amazing at John Coffey, the inmate on the Green Mile who teaches him these things.
The rest of the cast are equally as good, from Doug Hutchinson as Percy, the prison guard just made to be hated, to Bonnie Hunt as Jan, Paul's wife. This is a stunning film.

#03 The Avengers (2012) 

Not gonna lie, one of the reasons I adore this movie is Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He's the bad guy and he's bonkers and does lots of nasty things, but there's still something about him that makes him my hands down, favourite character. There's a depth there you don't often get with comic book villains and Joss Whedon did an amazing job of putting together this movie.

Robert Downy Jr and Mark Ruffalo make the most amazing science bros as Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson make you actually believe humans can keep up with superheros and gods. Chris Evans plays a very human Captain America and Chris Hemsworth brings humour and strength to Thor, even if his accent is somewhat wonky. Then there is Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, not to mention Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and they are all brilliant.

The script is funny and exciting in equal order. There are serious moments and moments that made the whole cinema laugh out loud. It is not only the best comic book movie I have ever seen, it is one of the best movies, hence it's place in my top ten. I only hope they can keep it up for Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2 and Avengers 2.

#02 The 13th Warrior (1999)

I didn't see this when it first came out, I only discovered it on DVD, but as I understand it, that's because it wasn't a huge hit at the time. I have no idea why, because it is a film I can watch over and over again and enjoy more and more every time.

Antonio Banderas plays Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, an Arab poet sent as an envoy to the north lands because he looked at the wrong man's wife. He ends up the 13th man on a quest with the Norsemen to find out why some of their settlements are being destroyed.

The film is full of fighting and mythology and adventure with strong characters, a very well thought out plot and superb acting. It is an epic tale and yet has very human elements and the script is superb. I cannot recommend this film more, which is why it has my number 2 slot.

#01 Moon Child (2003) 

Never heard of it, I hear you say, which does not surprise me, because it's a film written by and starring a Japanese rock star; Gackt. It's another vampire movie, but probably not quite as you have seen before. It actually stars two jrockers, Gackt and Hyde, who play the two leads, but don't let that put you off, they do the whole acting thing very well.

It is mostly not in English, but the subtitles are very well done and actually make sense of the subtleties of the plot. It was designed to be an international film, because it's not all in Japanese either.

Hyde plays the vampire Kei who we first see at the turn of the millennium with the vampire who created him. With his maker tired and wishing to die, Kei is left all alone.

Then we skip to 2014 after the Japanese economy has collapsed and many immigrants are living in a place called Mallepa. We meet Sho, a young street kid with his brother Shinji and friend Toshi who are looking to score big money by theft. While making a run for it, Sho finds Kei, who is waiting for light to kill him, and takes him back to their hideout where Kei saves Sho and the others by eating the gangster they robbed.

Hyde as Kei
The film them follows the ageless Kei and the growing Sho through their lives, finding love and friends and tragedy; growing apart, but coming back together again, until the poignant ending. I think one of the reasons I love this film so much is the ending, because it can be interpreted in many ways. It can be seen as a final ending, it can be seen as a stepping stone to something else entirely, or it can be a step along the same road the film had shown all along.

This film will make you cry twice at least unless your heart is made of stone. It is full of emotion and has some of the best fight scenes I have seen. Not because they are perfect and have the biggest budget, but because they have humour as well action.

Gackt as Sho
I would call this a live action Manga, because it's full of gangsters and vampires and impossible things, but all put together so you want to believe. It doesn't have a huge budget or big name Hollywood actors, but it is still my favourite film. I can watch it again and again while I cry my way through the middle and the end. It has clich├ęs, it has infinite bullets at times, but I don't care. The characters are engaging, the plot is gripping and it is brilliant.
Sho and Kei

Just in case you were wondering, here are the titles that didn't make the top ten, but did make my initial list :).
Chronicles of Riddick - Director's Cut
Con Air
The Dark Crystal
Ju-on (The Grudge) - Japanese version
Dog Soldiers
Galaxy Quest
Hawk the Slayer
The Hidden
Identity
Thor
Interview with the Vampire
Jack's Back
Kick-Ass
Let the Right One In
The Rock
Return of the Jedi
Midnight in Paris
Grosse Point Blank

Sunday, 17 March 2013

James McAvoy as Macbeth is Bloody Brilliant

This weekend my husband and I had a long weekend in London, mostly so that we could go and see James McAvoy in Macbeth, and boy was it worth it. I can say that this production of Macbeth is bloody brilliant and I meant that quite literally.

Now if you don't like the sight of blood this is not the production for you. Half the cast are covered in it for half the play and the floor gets covered at least twice. That being said, the blood is not over the top since this is a very violent version of the play.

Please be aware this review will contain spoilers for the staging of the production, I'm pretty sure most people reading this already know what happens in the play ;).

For those who do not know, this version uses the original text, but is set in a distopian Scotland of the near future. It is all about conflict and it shows it in spades. It is definitely the most exciting version of Macbeth I have ever seen.

First of all there was one thing I was slightly unimpressed with, but that had nothing to do with what was going on, on the stage. The theatre is small and the seats are cramped and not very comfortable. However, I was so enrapt in the play that I only noticed these things when the actors left the stage, i.e. the interval and the end. That was when I discovered my bum was numb and it was stiflingly hot. Take water if you are going to see this; you will need it.

It's a slightly odd layout in that the front rows at both the front and the back of the stage are actually on the stage. It looked very exciting to be on the front row, a little too exciting for some people. At one point I think one lady thought she was about to be decapitated by a machete and I am sure one chap shrank about a foot when he was yelled at by Macbeth.

Okay, on to the play.

It grabs your attention straight away with a bang and then never lets go. I was thoroughly impressed with the whole cast who delivered their lines in such a way that it was totally understandable. I know Macbeth quite well, having studied it at school and never forgotten (well done Shakespeare and Miss Spittle), but Rob didn't know it as well and he thought it was incredibly clear. I've seen some plays where the cast have delivered the dialogue so badly it's unintelligible, but this production didn't have one speech I didn't get.

Then there is the acting. James McAvoy is stunningly good. He entered the stage and immediately owned it. The fact he was banging a machete and an axe on the ground probably helped, but he didn't really need it. He was commanding and engaging and, boy, is he strong and fast. In his soliloquies he filled the stage, which was a hell of a job with the audience all round, and when he was sharing the stage he gelled with all the other characters.

Macbeth's decent from hero to tyrant was shown in every word he spoke and every action he made. He was marvellous from his first hug with Banquo (Forbes Masson), to his final, bloody death throws thanks to Macduff (Jamie Ballard). This is an incredibly physical production; no standing around just spouting lines and McAvoy shows his strength and flexibility at every turn. There is also beautiful chemistry between him and Claire Foy as Lady Macbeth.

Which is a nice sidestep onto Lady Macbeth, for she was also fantastic. Her "Out damn spot..." was a work of utter beauty. It's really a shame that Lady Macbeth doesn't have a huge death scene like Macbeth, because she would have been epic. She went from conniving wife, to completely batty with wonderful fluidity and the way she and Macbeth get very cosy a time or two was nicely hot.

The one scene where McAvoy basically drags Foy around the stage it utterly amazing. The tension is incredible.

As I have said before the whole cast were marvellous and I could go into raptures about all of them, from the witches to Macduff's son, but it would take me far too many words. Hence I will mention the other two stand out performances for me: Forbes Masson as Banquo and Jamie Ballard as Macduff.

Banquo was every bit the firm friend to Macbeth. There was no doubting they were comrades in arms and men who had had each other's backs. It was there in all their interaction and made is so much more poignant when that fell apart. Masson was wonderful throughout, but he really shone in the banquet scene, where he ends up nose to nose on a table with Macbeth before being drenched in blood from the ceiling.

Then there is Macduff. The scene where he finds out about the death of his wife and children actually made me cry. There is a part where Ballard actually howls in grief and that just did it for me. That was it, I blubbed. I think it was the most heart-wrenching scene from Shakespeare I have ever seen on stage. Simply amazing.

I wish I could go back and see it all again, even with the uncomfortable seats and incredible heat. It was utterly fantastic. The best Macbeth I have ever seen and not just because I am a huge fan of James McAvoy.

Then there was the standing outside the stage door to get an autograph from James. The first thing I have to say, is thanks to my long suffering husband for standing with me and taking pictures. I would have liked to grab a few of the others for autographs too, but it's really quite hard to figure out who are actors when everyone is bundled up in hats and scarves and not covered in blood - who knew ;).

We waited for quite some time, but it was worth it. James came out and signed and talked and had photos taken. He is such a lovely man; genuinely sweet and so nice to everyone.

Thank you James.

I'm pretty sure I didn't make a complete idiot out of myself, although I did discover that silver sharpies do not like the cold. It worked, but barely.

And there you have it, the highlight of my weekend.

This is a superb production and, if they aren't completely sold out, you should all go and get tickets.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Review: Hansel and Gretel - Witch Hunters - It Rocks!


I love this film. It's going straight onto my wishlist as soon as they announce the Blu-ray release.

Do you know what I love most about this movie (apart from shirtless Jeremy Renner, which is simply a given)? All the women in it are so incredibly kick ass. Yes, a good percentage of them are evil to the bone, but you have to respect their life choices because they can take down anyone who gets in their way. Gemma Arterton is brilliant as Gretel and it totally the one in charge, Famke Janssen is superb as the deliciously evil Muriel and Pihla Viitala is delicately beautiful, but surprisingly strong as Mina.

   

Right so onto the film in general. It has a good plot, solid characters, a good cast and kept me completely entertained from the beginning to the end. I don't think anyone could ask more of a movie.

The plot was actually deeper than I expected it to be. We're not talking Agatha Christie here; it's not exactly difficult to see what's coming, but that's the whole point. This is a film where you get more than you were expecting, because the person who wrote it actually thought about it, and it's exciting and there are no unnecessary, annoying sidetracks or twists. That's not to say there isn't anything, but the twist there is doesn't jump the shark and is perfect for the rest of the film.

The plot has action, a love story, humour, reasons for everything that happens (including the back story) and there are no holes that you can drive a bus through. Hansel's big weakness is a nice idea, but a little silly and brings up a whole load of questions that are never answered, but it's the one inconsistency that can be forgiven. It's a fairy tale, so you have to forgive it for its science and history - none of it is real and it doesn't actually try to be.

The only characters with real back story are Hansel and Gretel, so they have more depth than any of the others, but that's okay, because they're the ones we're interested in. Everyone else, from Ben (Thomas Mann), through Hansel and Gretel's parents up to Muriel have enough depth to make them interesting, but we only know a little bit more about them at then end than we did at the beginning. This doesn't detract from the plot, because the performances of the actors give them all the depth they need.

Jeremy Renner is brilliant as Hansel (you knew I was going to get a shirtless pic in here didn't you ;)). He's just this side of sociopathic and perfectly happy to follow his sister into hell and back. I had the feeling he was a shoot first and ask questions later kind of guy, reined in by Gretel.

He is totally badass and gets his sister out of a few scrapes, but she gets him out of some as well, so it is (as my sister keeps saying) equal opportunities kickassery.

His character has some funny moments and some touching moments and the fact he can totally deal with women on the witch hunter level, but is still bashful at the sexual level is adorable. There are also other quirks we're shown through the film that make him more than just muscle with a gun, which I thought were very well done.

As I have already mentioned, Gemma Arterton is also fantastic. She is the clear thinker and just as able to take down witches and nasty sheriffs as her brother. In fact I think she's more likely to take down nasty sheriffs - watch the movie and I am sure you will agree with me.

Gretel is practical, capable and devoted to her brother, as his is to her. This is one woman who can destroy the baddie and look very fine doing it. Which is not to say she is super human. This is a very bloody film and the good guys shed almost as much as the bad guys. Our heroes are not invulnerable and they need help, which makes them human and very likeable.

Of course you can't have great heroes without great villains and Muriel is a great one of those. She is irredeemable; child killer, torturer of adults and more. However, she's just what is needed for a film such as this one.

I never once doubted that she deserved everything that was coming to her, but that is exactly what I wanted for this action adventure and Famke Janssen played her perfectly. This is a witch totally out for herself and her sister witches and all of humanity should be ground beneath her boot.

She's clever, ruthless and very powerful and is just the right balance of beautiful and psychotic when not showing her true face.

Do not go into this movie expecting Lord of the Rings level characters or epic plots. Just go to enjoy a romp that makes no excuses, doesn't pander to the 12A that seems to be popular at the moment and goes all out 15 rating and will entertain. There is eye candy for all, a well thought out adventure and lots of bloody battles.

Of course now I am left with the desire to write Avengers/Hansel and Gretel crossover fanfic where Hawkeye is the reincarnation of Hansel (who died tragically to save his sister in a witchly encounter that made Gretel immortal) and Loki chose him because he could sense the magic in him and needs help with Thanos and Lady Death (who is actually an intergalactic high witch and enchanted Loki for Thanos which is why he needs the help). But that's just me and I don't have time to write it, so, meh. :)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Fantasy Boys XXX Drabble Cascade #1 - Word: Question

So this is for the Drabble Cascade being hosted by FB3X. To see all those participating and to read their drabbles, check out the linked list at the bottom of the post. I'm doing three drabbles this week, one at FB3X, one here and a fanfic one on my LJ. The cascade will run all week, so please join in.


The One Never Asked
by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Jess put down the gun she was cleaning and looked over to the grizzled man who had been her mentor and occasional lover since she was eighteen. They were the best bounty hunting team on the west coast and had been for ten years.

"Why do you do it?" she asked the one question she had never dared before.

A man had shot her daddy and then Bill has rolled into town, taking down the bad guy; she had a reason and Bill had to have a reason too.

"Someone has to," was not the response she had hoped for.



FB3X Drabble Cascade #1 - Word of the Week: question (thanks to Alix Nowarra for the inspiration)
Join in the cascade, post a drabble inspired by our word of the week to your own blog, or website, add this list to the bottom of it by copying and pasting in the code from here and then add a link to your post to the list.
Drabblers

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Review: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ`s Childhood Pal

Title: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ`s Childhood Pal
Author: Christopher Moore
Format: just about all of them as far as I can tell

Summary: Levi, or Biff as he is known was Joshua's (Jesus is the Greek version of his name) best friend from when they were six years old. He is there for all the skinned knees, mistakes and learning how to be the Messiah by travelling to find the three wise men, and in the year 2000 he is brought back to write a new gospel for the modern world.

So I supposed I should tell you what I think of this book. Well that's easy: it is brilliant.

It's even better when you know your gospels. I have evidence of this because both my husband, Rob and I have read it. Now my father is a retired Vicar, so I know a significant amount about the content of the gospels, my husband on the other hand is a bit of a heathen and knows some because I've been dragging him to church for the last sixteen years, but he was not brought up with it so it's not ingrained, as it were.

Now Rob thinks this is a brilliant book too, but there are some bits he just didn't get. For example he doesn't really know his parables, but anyone who has gone to Sunday school knows the one about the wise man building his house upon the rock. There is a point in the book where this is used and it had me falling off my bike (I read while on the exercise bike in the mornings) laughing, but Rob only found it amusing for the actual situation rather than the context.

This is what is so great about this book. It's hilarious if you know nothing about the Bible and it is even more hilarious if you do.

Christopher Moore weaves a story of two young boys, one of whom happens to be the son of God, who grow into two young men and it is engaging, funny and heart wrenching all at the same time. Everyone knows how the story is going to end, but boy does it rip your heart out.

Biff is so brilliantly human and he firmly believes Josh is the son of God, but he still tries to keep him out of trouble. Josh is naive and enlightened and loves everyone. Biff loves Josh and Maggie (the Magdalene) and never figures out enlightenment or healing or walking on water, but he's there to break Josh out of a wine jar and shave a yak. He's the foolish mortal stuck in a hotel room with an angel obsessed with soap operas trying to tell the world about his friend Josh and he is wonderful.

Yes this book pokes fun at Jewish and Christian religion, but it is done with such skill that it is brilliant. I love this book and can't recommend it more. Just in case you're wondering, it's going to my father next (yep, the retired Vicar) so he can have a read and a laugh.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Giant nerd! :)


Well I have been struggling to write over the last two days and have resorted to doing other tasks when that failed, but I feel the muse coming back this morning - yay! :) On the bright side I did get some stuff done that needed doing ::g::.

I have also come to the conclusion that I am a total nerd because I was watching Bones last night and it was about comedians. The joke that made me laugh out loud was this one:

Is it just me or is a circle totally pointless.

And not just once, oh no, I laughed every time someone said it.

Then again I do also find this joke funny:

What do you call a fish with no eyes.

Fsh

So there is no accounting for my taste. I love geek jokes and stupid jokes apparently.

Talking of jokes I am also reading a great book, it's called Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. It is hilarious and touching and simply brilliant, especially if you know something about the gospels. I have nearly finished it and will do a full review when I have.