Silver Linings Playbook Review

I have been curious about this film from the moment I saw the trailer. It seemed like a quirky romantic movie, and the reviews indicated fantastic-ness. When I saw it (about a month ago) I was incredibly impressed. I can really see why Jennifer Lawrence won best actress at the Academy Awards.

silver linings playbook

Patrick Solitano’s (Bradley Cooper) life is messed up. After finding his wife in the shower with her lover and beating him nearly to death, he is booked into a psychiatric hospital for bipolar disorder. Pat’s mother manages to get him an early release, and he is taken back to his child home, forced to live with his mother and OCD father.

Patrick is obsessed with getting his marriage back on tracks. He largely ignores the fact that his wife took out a restraining order against him. He continuously looks for ways to regain her love.

One night Patrick’s good friend Ronnie Maxwell invites him to dinner to celebrate his release from hospital. Ronnie’s wife, Veronica (played by the delightful Julia Stiles) invites her sister, Tiffany, to the dinner as well. Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) is the black sheep of the family. After her husband died, she coped with her loss by sleeping with everyone in her office. She is every bit as crazy as Patrick, and they strike up an unlikely agreement and eventual friendship. Tiffany agrees to get a letter to Pat’s estranged wife, in return for him helping her train for a dancing contest she needs a partner for. Patrick reluctantly agrees because he is challenged by everything it represents: doing something new, forgiving himself and his attraction to Tiffany. She gives the letter to his wife, but fakes a reply and gives it to him, giving him hope for a possible reconciliation.

Patrick Senior (Robert DeNiro) lost his job and is making money on the side by bookkeeping. He truly believes that Pat junior is the lucky charm for his football team, the Eagles, and wants Patrick to watch every game with him. There comes trouble when Patrick needs to train with Tiffany at the same time there is a game on – and when the Eagles lose, Pat senior loses all his money on a bet. They make a bet with one of elder Patrick’s friend, that the Eagles will win, and Patrick and Tiffany will score an average of 5 in their dancing competition. The Eagles winning is one thing, but the score of five seems a large stretch with the dancing team not even at an average level.

Patrick refuses, and the only way his family convinces him to do it is by telling him that his estranged wife will be there. Tiffany also echoes this lie, although she is very reluctant to do this.

On the night of the competition, his wife does show up – with an invitation of Ronnie and Veronica. Patrick and Veronica dance, and they get their unexpected 5. Tiffany leaves in a rush when she sees Patrick’s wife congratulating him. He follows her, and tells her that he found out weeks ago that she wrote his wife’s “reply” to the letter. He confesses to his realization that he loves her, and not his wife.

The story ends on a sweet note – Patrick and Tiffany happy, surrounded by their families.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Tiffany and Patrick practising for the dance competition.

Rating: 7/10

The film was great. It is honest and sad, and not the type of film usually released. There is such truth and honesty to the film, and it is more than just a romantic movie with an easy tale. It really is a fresh breeze in the world of movies. I feel that the cast was well chosen, and they did a spectacular job of portraying their roles. The movie is just over two hours long, but it doesn’t feel stretched. It seems like a movie everyone would like, so go give it a try 🙂

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Review: The Search

the search

The Search

Nora Roberts

Book: 2/100

Main antagonist in the book, George Allen Perry, is a fictional serial killer, focusing on young, athletic university students. His signature style is strangling and burying the victims with a red scarf tied around their necks. Perry managed to murder 12 women before finally meeting his match. Fiona Bristow, planned number 13, had a small knife hidden in her jogging pants her fiancé Greg Norwood had given to her. In Perry’s trunk, on the way to her grave, she managed to free her hands and feet, and attacked Perry when he opened the truck. She managed to identify him, had his prints, and yet the FBI only managed to capture him when Perry retaliated by murdering her fiancé and his K9 dog partner, Kong.

Years later, Fiona has moved on. She lives on the quiet island Orcas, in the USA. In memory of Greg, she started up a puppy training school and Search and Rescue unit involving trained canines.

Simon Doyle arrives at the island with an unappreciated  gift from his mother. Jaws, his little puppy, take delight in chewing everything except his toys. When Simon finds Fiona and her school, he demands she takes them on as students. They start training Jaws, and his development runs along with his human trainers falling for one another.

Davey, the deputy sheriff, arrives to tell Fiona terrifying news: a copycat serial killer is on the loose. It is obvious Perry is behind it all, since the victims contain trademarks the police never released to the public. Perry refuses to cooperate, claiming ignorance, but investigating Officer Tawney sees the excitement that lurks behind his lifeless eyes. When the victims’ burial sites get closer to Orcas, it is obvious that the final victim will be Fiona, as payment and gratitude to Perry.

Francis Xavier Eckle led a boring, restricted life until he met George Perry. Now, as a trained copycat, he meticulously follows the plans that Perry set out for him. Soon, Perry’s way of killing becomes boring to Eckle, and he starts experimenting different ways to murder his victims. That, and the taunting scarves Eckle leaves Fiona (first in an envelope and then tied around her gate) angers Perry enough to get him to give information on his student.

Kati Starr sees Eckle as her way to journalistic fame. She continuously hounds Fiona for an article, and although ignored and declined, she publishes it along with a photo of Fiona in front of her house. Starr is abducted by Eckle and taken into the woods where Fiona lives, and Fiona and the Search and Rescue team set out to find her before she becomes another victim. Fiona gives her dogs another scent: Eckle’s, and she and Simon set out to find the killer. They finally do, and when Eckle aims to shoot Simon, Fiona shoots him.

With Eckle and Perry both behind bars, Fiona is finally able to live her life with Simon in peace.

Rating: 6/10

I enjoy Roberts’ romantic suspense tales. She continuously researches her topics thoroughly, and the characters are quirky, fun and intelligent. I love how she incorporated animals and their wonderful nature into this book. Serial killers fascinate me, and reading about Perry and Eckle had chills running down my spine. I found Simon a particularly charming male lead, for he had no problem with being moody and brutally honest, and baffled first by his cute dog and then the woman he fell in love with. Fiona is a fun, inspiring character, with a backbone I appreciated – since it is rare to find romantic tales with proper female leads.

Crap office manners

Spree

 

Some things really annoy the hell out of an entire office. If you do one of these, please stop (at least for your own safety) because sooner or later, someone is going to either a) shout at you *, b) kill you **

Finish all the milk and not tell reception so that they can refill it.

Sing loudly and off key

Cook smelly food

Take someone’s paper, scissors, pens, pencils or any other stationary ***

*this just happened

** be happy that this DID NOT HAPPEN

***cause of shouting

Really, it is not that difficult to act like a normal human being.

Review: Chasing Fire (Nora Roberts)

Book 1/100

chasing fire cover

Rowan Tripp’s life hasn’t always been easy. Abandoned by her mother as a child, she was raised by her loving father and grandparents. Though they love her immensely, she still carries the scars of her young years.

Now as an adult she works as a smoke jumper. Smoke jumpers are wild land fire-fighters who jump out of aeroplanes with jumpsuits to combat remote fires.  She is part of the Zulies, a smoke jumping unit in Missoula, Montana.

Rowan is very close to her father, Lucas “Iron Man” Tripp. He is a retired smoke jumper – famous from his days in the unit. He now runs a sky diving business a few miles from the Zulies base. When Lucas starts up a relationship with Ella, a high school principle, Rowan has conflicted feelings about his change of relationship status.

Rowan has some romantic changes in her life as well. Gulliver Curry, rookie smoke jumper and former hotshot fire-fighter, starts his career up as a smoke jumper by becoming known as a fast footed runner. She initially tells him she is not interested in a relationship with a fellow smoke jumper, but bends her rule later in the book to accommodate her growing attachment to him.

One of the Zulies, Jim Brayner, died on a jump during the last season. His supposed girlfriend, Dolly Brakeman, holds Rowan responsible, as she was Jim’s jumping partner that day. Dolly was fired from base after she attacked Rowan with a knife, but is allowed back after it becomes known that she gave birth to Jim’s baby. Many people, including Marge, the head cook, Michael Little Bear, the manager, and Rowan, believe that the father could be anyone, since Dolly was known to sleep with everyone she could. Dolly is caught throwing pig’s blood over Rowan’s living quarters, and not even her pastor, Reverend Latterly, can save her job now.

When the base’s stock room gets vandalised, Dolly is prime suspect. She denies the accusation, even threatening libel action.

During a fire fight mission, Rowan finds a body in the woods. She reports this, and the body is identified as Dolly. Rowan becomes a suspect, but she has an alibi – she spent the night with Gull. Since men are not indisposed to lie for sex, the cops cannot fully acquit Rowan of suspicion. Dolly’s father, Leo, takes Rowan on outside the base, blaming her for the death of his daughter.

Rowan and Gull are shot upon at the base. The gun used for the shooting is found, and Leo Brakeman is arrested, since it belongs to him. He breaks his bail, and disappears into the woods.

Meanwhile, another body has been found in a burning forest. This time the victim is Reverend Latterly, or rather, Dolly’s secret lover. Leo Brakeman is still the lead suspect, now in the vandalism, murders and shooting, but Gull and Rowan realise that all the crimes points toward a totally different character type than Leo.

In the end, the killer reveals himself. Matt Brayner, the grieving brother, blames himself for the death of his brother Jim. Before Jim’s last jump, Matt confessed to sleeping with Dolly as well, making him a candidate for the paternity of Dolly’s baby. Wrecked with guilt and anger, he kills Dolly and Latterly because of their affair, and attacks the base as he feels them all responsible.

On the last fire mission in the book, Yangree, a smoke jumper who is close to retirement nearly dies from a fall when his parachute malfunctions. Gull notices Matt is the only person who cannot look at Yangtree while he is medevac’d out. Matt sets out to kill Rowan and Gull, injuring another jumper, Cards, and he burns to death.

Rating: 6/10

Nora Roberts is one of the most prolific romantic suspense writers of our time. She smoothly shifted from Mills and Boon type books, into this becoming an accredited writer. Her books are always well researched, evident in the little facts she drops into the characters experiences and conversations.  She has the talent most good writers have – to pull you into the book, isolate you from the world, and have you suspect every single character.

The book is really well written, and the romance is at an acceptable level where anything less or more would have either been boring or tacky, alternatively.

I would recommend this as a book to read if you enjoy crime, romance, suspense and action all rolled into one.

This whole Oscar business.

No, not the Academy Awards. That, and everything else (like meteor showers in Russia) are taking backseat to the drama in the South-African courtroom regarding Oscar Pistorius, and the alleged murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. To explain the situation to readers in other countries, please see my attempt at explaining what the hell is going on.

The story

On Valentine’s day, police received a call from concerned Silverwood residents, where Pistorius also lives. Residents claimed they had heard gunshot sounds. Upon police arrival, Oscar’s girlfriend and model, Reeva Steenkamp’s body was found, with three gunshot wounds to her body. Pistorius was arrested as he was the only other person in the house, and the gun belongs to him.

Pistorius claims that he thought that Reeva was an intruder, yelling for Reeva (who he believed was still in bed) to call the cops while he fetched his gun.

Reeva was cremated on the 19th of February 2013 in an intimate ceremony.

Who’s who

Oscar Pistorius

Really? Only the greatest Paralympian of all times. He competed at the 2012 London Olympics as well as the Paralympics, becoming the first double amputee to qualify in the Olympics. I have always seen him as one of the greatest modern day South-Africans, and his dedication and perseverance is an inspiration to all.

Oscar Pistorius

*Image from guardian.co.uk

Reeva Steenkamp

Now deceased, Reeva was a model who was making a name for herself. By all accounts she was intensely loved and an amazing person.

Hilton Botha

Lead investigating officer of the case. Botha is currently also due in court (in May) for allegedly killing 7 people during a drunken rampage with friends. Botha is currently under unwanted attention, for contaminating the crime scene, presenting evidence that has not been proven accurate.

Desmond Nair

Judge in case. By all accounts, Nair is honest, no bullshit and unbiased.

Gerrie Nel

Prosecutor in case.

Leading defence lawyer

Barry Roux. Roux is already known as one of the best lawyers in SA, and he is proving himself again by ripping Botha’s already shady testimony to shreds.

South-African Police Service

This is not SAPS’s shining moment. Botha is already under the spotlight for incriminating the scene, and the SAPS failed to find one of the bullet casings left behind in the toilet.

South-African journalists

Are at this point in disgrace. Shuffles for space in the courtroom, false stories being widely published, photos taken in direct violation of a court ruling. I am SO glad I am not in that profession.

My thoughts

At this point, I honestly think Oscar did not know Reeva was at the other side of the bathroom door. South-Africans are gripped by fear, as we live in a country with the highest rape statistic in the world, with the most violent criminals and high crime stats as well. Fear can blank your mind. It is obvious that Oscar is going through the worst time of his life, barely in control of his emotions. Seeing him in court depresses me – I only read the reviews of the trial at the end of the day.

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But sadly, we have to wait for this laborious trial to end before we know what will happen to our star athlete. I only see the visible destruction his family and the Steenkamp’s are going through. It breaks my heart.

Thoughts on a Tuesday

LAB:

When you have on a lab coats or gloves, your nose will invariably start itching, your eyes will water, or you will sneeze.

It is always the lab’s fault.

Dipping a balloon into liquid nitrogen is the coolest thing I have done in a while.

Burning hand in said Liquid Nitrogen is not so cool.

SOUTH-AFRICA

The country, and its newspapers, are OBSESSED with the whole Oscar Pistorius case.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Companies have the most ridiculous names.

One Direction should change their name to One Contraception. Because that is about the appeal they have to grown-ups.

Movies will never beat books.

You can only cheat or steal for so long before it comes out.

Once you get over the costs of doing a BSc degree, you need to face the costs of the handbooks.

Somewhere, someone still believes everything they read on the internet.

No electricity in the morning makes getting ready adventurous.

There is nothing happier than planning a wedding/baby shower (for two different people!)

100 Books

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.

Oscar Wilde

reading quote

I have always loved reading. I cannot understand anyone who doesn’t  So many poetic things can be said about reading, or writing, but at the moment I can only think to say that it is the one thing I love with a pure heart.

I have decided I want to read 100 books this year. I do think this possible – I read quickly and easily.

My rules for my 100 books

Rereading within 2013 does not count.

Rereading from previous years only counts once.

New Genre’s needs to be explored.

Books in series count as separate books.

If you have any ideas to books I should read, drop me a comment 🙂

 

Valentine’s Day crapathon.

I am so sad. This year so far is not living up to the excitement I had to finally finish the disaster of year I had in 2012.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. (I suspect everyone knows this, since you either need to be blind, deaf, and have no social contact with the world to not know this). I suspected it to be terrible, for numerous reasons. And it was

Valentine’s Day will always be a testimony to my bad judgement.

Yesterday, a year ago, I started dating a man who was so completely wrong for me, because I was bored, and bowed to pressure from our friend group. I shouldn’t have done it, since I never admired him, and now I will always face V-day with the reminder that I allowed someone like that into my life, and let him fester himself into a core group I thought unshakable. Yes, I obviously still have a lot of anger towards myself and him, but I am in a much better place about it than I was.

Driving license test

I am renowned for stressing my ass off. Yesterday, I was supposed to do my driving test. My dad helped me wonderfully, and I was somewhat confident upon arrival at the test centre. Just when I started my pre-trip inspection, the instructor failed me on my brake lights that didn’t work – lights that had worked half an hour earlier. I do not know what made the brake lights to fail, either someone put a voodoo spell on me, or I have incredibly bad karma, or I really am bad luck Brian. I didn’t even get to test.

Vampire diaries season 4 sucks.

Enough said about that. 

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp

South-Africa suffered another incredibly sad shock yesterday. When I saw on my twitter feed that our golden boy, Oscar Pistorius, had been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, I refused to believe it. I went onto a reputable news agency’s website, and there it was. Reeva was shot in the early morning on the 14th of Feb, by the Paralympian wonder boy. At first, rumours started that he thought her an intruder. Then, after SAPS confirmed the rumours false, it came to light that there had been domestic disturbance calls from their neighbours to Pistorius’s home that night.

It is heart-breaking. SA already has such a bad rep across the world. Recently the spotlight in this country has been on the atrocious sexual and domestic violence that dominates in South-Africa. We as citizens of this country lost another hero. I do not know any South-African that wasn’t shaken by the news.

So all in all, it was a terrible day. I am in serious need of some happy today.