Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Katy Didn't that Little Women Did

I wonder why the "Little Women" series far outstripped "What Katy Did" in popularity. Perhaps it's because although the high-spirited Katy plans to become someone famous and do something meaningful she ends up being a demure damsel who is the "heart of the house". Or maybe her spinal injury theme was too similar to "Pollyanna"? "Little Women" on the other hand has the various characters overcome their many weaknesses who also in the process strengthen their character.

I saw "What Katy Did" it was simply abominable. One thing about it though it was set in Saskatchewan, Canada and the scenery is amazing. I saw the Winona Ryder version of "Little Women" too. Nothing pleasing about it.

Personally I prefer the Katy series - "What Katy Did at School" and "What Katy Did Next" - are really well written. Then there is "Clover" and "In the High Valley" - set in Colorado. They are not bad either.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Groundhog Day

I don't much like Bill Murray - in fact he gave me the creeps in "Lost in Translation" - but I found him quite tolerable in "Groundhog Day".

For those who came in late - "Groundhog Day" is about weatherman Phil who is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (say that 3 times fast - yep that's easier than Eyjafjallajökull) to cover Groundhog day. [Okay for folks on the other side of midnight - Groundhog Day is on Feb. 2nd. Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter. Folks gather into Punxsutawney and have lots of celebrations etc.] Anyway Phil in the words of his cameraman is a "prima donna" and can't wait to get out of the small town. Unfortunately a blizzard that was supposed to bypass them forces road closures and Phil with new producer Rita (Andie McDowell) are forced to stay the night in Punxsutawney - only when Bill wakes up the next day at 6:00 am its February 2nd all over again - only Bill is aware of this time loop. It's the same story night after night - each fresh morning is Feb. 2nd an endless time loop. At first Bill is confused and resentful but gradually accepts the situation and starts taking advantage of it. He initially goes the bad guy route but gradually redeems himself and one can see a lot of positive changes in his character.

For those who haven't seen the movie I wont give away the ending.

What I found lacking - chemistry between the lead pair. Nada. Zilch.

Another thing how come they never thought of showing Phil staying awake all night to see what happens at 6:00 am - why does everything go back 24 hours at that point? I mean that's something so obvious the film makers could have shown something like no matter what Phil drops off to sleep or is rendered unconscious or something like that...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mrs. Malaprop does her bit...

Overheard at a fancy Harley Street Obstetrician's.

Redneck (let's ignore political correctness this once) to Doctor:

"Didn't you not say something like to use absinthe was the total foolproof way to stop them bairns? But look at me gal she's gonna get one more brat squalling all over the place…"

Thomas Crown

Watched the 1968 version of "The Thomas Crown Affair" with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. It was good - you have to bear in mind this was made in the 1960s.

I have seen the 1999 version with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. That was nice in its own way too.

Invariably one is drawn toward comparisons. Pierce Brosnan fits into the image of a bored millionaire much better than Steve McQueen. Faye Dunaway got on my nerves - maybe it is the acting style of the 60s - but I prefer Russo.

Didn't much care for the ending of the '99 version - and the very last dialogue - for want of a better word - was totally cheap. Look at the perfect, elegant ending of the '68 version:

Saturday, April 17, 2010


…are not my cup of tea. My first gripe against the books is the different accents and tones the reader employs for various characters. It’s most annoying when you have a female reader who pitches her voice husky, deep and low trying to make it as manly as possible for a male character and vice-versa. What makes it worse is when it is a particularly lame book you are listening to – Harlan Coben’s “Darkest Fear” for instance.

When I am reading and certain scenes don’t particularly interest me – I just skim through the paragraphs taking in a word or phrase here and there, I occasionally skip pages and still get the gist of it – and you can’t do that with an audio book. If you forward tracks together – you may miss out some crucial element or lose the thread of continuity.

And that bit about being able to access your audio book anytime – when doing chores, in your car, in even in the loo doesn’t impress me.

The only audio books I don’t mind are those management and self-help books (Wayne Dyer and the likes). I think that’s because they are read in a matter-of-fact tone with the right modulations and yes that is something you can listen to when driving your car.

The only fiction audio book to date from the 3 or 4 that I forced myself to finish that I found tolerable was “The Undomestic Goddess” – by Sophie Kinsella of the Shopaholic Series fame. I didn't quite mind "Confessions of a Shopaholic" - but the rest of the books were totally silly.

What about you - do you like audiobooks?

Friday, April 16, 2010


Strawberries, Cherries and Angels Kissing Spring…

…as this popular oldie goes.

And strawberries are synonymous with Wimbledon. But this post is not about strawberries – it’s about Wimbledon – the movie.

Now I think this movie was pre-Spiderman because Kirsten Dunst is in good form as she was in another intriguing movie The Mona Lisa Smile. (Methinks Dunst was awful in Spidey and deteriorated rapidly from there). Wimbledon is about failing British tennis pro Peter Colt (Paul Bettany)now ranked 119th in the world – but used to be ranked 11th – who gains a wildcard entry into Wimbledon. He is totally down and out and decides to quit professional tennis and take up a boring job at a Club infested with middle-aged ladies more than eager to get “served” by Colt. Enter Lizzie Bradbury (Ugggh! What a combo of names - played by Kirsten) – a young and upcoming American player with sights on the cup. She is kept under tight control by her father (Sam Neill) who will do anything to make sure she is not distracted especially by young men. (I was thinking, “Where have I seen this guy (the father) before?” – it kept bothering me throughout the movie – and I finally Wikied it – to find he had starred as the Scientist in Jurassic Park!).

Owing to some strange mix-up Peter is given the key to the penthouse suite that Lizzie is occupying. The relationship begins from there and takes the standard twists and turns of a generic romcom. The movie is not over-the-top mushy and there’s good chemistry between the lead pair. You’ll find Peter reminds you of Boris Becker. I really loved the bit about the comet.

I didn’t like the way they portrayed Jake Hammond – Peter’s opponent in the finals – it was too immature. I totally disliked the Colt parents – they were out of place – and didn’t quite blend in but stood out as the caricatures they were not really made to be.

A number of real-life tennis pros make their appearance including Chris Evertt and John McEnroe.

The ending – I liked it – I’m so glad they didn’t try to take a “realistic ending” route – a perfect grand slam.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Browsing through Gutenberg's excellent site for free e-books I came across two versions of this childhood classic. One is the original I remember reading and another is a translation by a CHARLES WHARTON STORK who is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. There is a note at the beginning that says:

Since "Heidi" has been so often translated into English it may well be
asked why there is any need for a new version. The answer lies partly
in the conventional character of the previous translations. Now, if
there is any quality in "Heidi" that gives it a particular charm, that
quality is freshness, absolute spontaneity. To be sure, the story is
so attractive that it could never be wholly spoiled; but has not the
reader the right to enjoy it in English at least very nearly as much
as he could in German? The two languages are so different in nature
that anything like a literal rendering of one into the other is sure
to result in awkwardness and indirectness. Such a book must be not
translated, but re-lived and re-created.

Maybe so Professor but I didn't like your translation in the least bit - not that you haven't done a good job - but something was lacking. I think it's like being so comfortable with an old shoe that you don't want to even try break the new one in!

Also, I think when I first read this book I remember towards the end - either Heidi or Peter almost fall off the edge of a ravine and Clara is forced to walk and saves their lives. Now what I read is nothing that dramatic - Clara wants to see the flowers that Heidi so passionately talks about and this leads to Peter and Heidi helping her to that spot and Clara with Heidi's encouragement finds she can walk with their support. Does anyone remember this or have I mixed it up with something else?

I saw a movie version of Heidi - not the Shirley Temple one but another made in 2005 starring Max von Syndow as the Grandfather and Emma Bolger as Heidi. It was quite faithful to the story - but Heidi's longing for the mountains when she is at Frankfurt is hardly shown - in fact is seems that Heidi is quite content to be there. Also the ghost/sleepwalking episode was condensed to a disappointing scene. Sebastian (Del Synott)has done a marvelous job. Rottenmeir on the other hard was presented as a total caricature sometimes bordering on Cruella! Another thing totally out of sync was the Grandfather refusing to welcome Heidi when she returns and forcing her to sleep in the goat shed!

Hoping to see the 1993 version - its supposed to be the best.