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review 2018-03-21 22:06
Lektor (film + książka)
Lektor (film + książka) - praca zbiorowa

Nieźle przedstawiona problematyka fabuły, aczkolwiek ten temat zmusza do większych refleksji, więc można było wykazać się troszkę bardziej. Kilka ciekawostek na temat książki Bernarda Schlinka, na której podstawie nakręcono film. Tradycyjnie: krótkie notki biograficzne o odtwórcach ról: młodego i starszego Michaela oraz Hanny Schmitz oraz ładne, barwne kadry z filmu. Książeczka jest wyjmowaną wkładką umiejscowioną w "kieszonce" po wewnętrznej stronie okładki i nie ma standardowej liczby dwudziestu jeden stron (jak to zazwyczaj bywa w tego typu opracowaniach). Można więc łagodniejszym okiem spojrzeć na fakt, że wydawca tylko zahaczył o najbardziej istotne aspekty, ale ja trochę nad tym brakiem ubolewam, stąd taka ocena, a nie inna.

Ocena książki: przeciętna (5/10)
Ocena filmu: dobry (7/10)

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review 2018-03-03 01:06
Poor execution
Mine own executioner, - Nigel Balchin

I have to confess that I did a thing which I am always telling people they shouldn't guilt themselves into doing...I read a book that I wasn't really all that interested in reading. My rationale was that I had gone out of my way (interlibrary loan from a different state) to get this book and I didn't want to admit that it wasn't worth the effort. *sigh* 


The book that I'm referring to is Mine Own Executioner by Nigel Balchin. I want to give you a central theme or something to succinctly explain it but the closest I can manage is saying that it's about a man who is battling an inner turmoil while also trying to be a competent psycho-analyst. There's a lot of discussion around the validity of a medical degree vs hands-on training which leads to our main character, Felix Milne, taking on a very difficult case to 'prove' that he is just as capable as a medical professional. His patient was recently involved in a traumatic experience in the war and as a result he experienced a psychotic break from reality and tried to murder his wife. While Milne tries to uncover the root of this man's troubles he continues to ignore the cause of his own marital problems. He has a strained and virtually platonic relationship with his wife and actively struggles with his feelings for her best friend. I guess there's an irony there that he is able to ascertain and ultimately help heal what ails his patients but he can't clearly see that he is the cause of his own misfortunes and unhappiness. Milne is an acerbic and not altogether likable character who plays God with those he seeks to help (and his wife). He justifies this by saying that it's a necessary part of their treatment that they come to see him this way. I don't think I can say with any conviction that I liked this book. The characters were one dimensional, the plot was fairly predictable, and the ending was highly unsatisfactory. I can't even say that I recommend it to ________ or ________. 0/10


PS They made it into a film. Why?


What's Up Next: Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman


What I'm Currently Reading: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-19 23:36
A solid domestic-noir thriller with a familiar plot, unlikely to surprise those who love Hitchcock movies and habitual readers of thrillers
The Woman in the Window: A Novel - A. J. Finn

Thanks to NetGalley and to Harper Collins for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely decided to review.

I have been reading a lot of thrillers recently and kept coming across this book and, eventually, I thought I would read it. The description and the accolades mention Hitchcock and noir film and that convinced me I should read it.

Many of the reviews compare it to The Girl on the Train. Although I have watched the movie adaptation of that book, I haven’t read the novel, so I cannot compare the style, although yes, I agree that the story is very similar. This is more Rear Window (because the protagonist, Anna Fox, a psychologist, suffers from agoraphobia following a traumatic incident, and she is stuck at home, in New York) with touches of Body Double (I agree with the reviewer who mentioned that). It also brought to mind, for me, apart from the many Hitchcock and noir movies the character herself is so fond of (Shadow of a Doubt, The Lady Vanishes, Rope), some newer movies, like Copycat (the main protagonist is also a psychologist suffering from agoraphobia, in that case after being assaulted by a serial killer) and Murder by Numbers (that is a new treatment of Rope).

Anna is an unreliable narrator, and she tells us the story in the first-person (I know some readers don’t like that). I do like unreliable narrators, but I did not feel there was much new or particularly insightful here. She is a psychologist who seems to be able to help others with their problems (she joins an online chat and helps others suffering from agoraphobia) but is not capable of fully accepting or recognising her own (she sees a psychiatrist once a week but lies to him, does not take the medication as prescribed, keeps drinking alcohol despite being fully aware of its depressant effects and knowing that it should not be mixed with her medication), and lies to others, and what is worse, to herself. The fog produced by the alcohol and her erratic use of medication make her unreliable (and yes, some of her medication can cause hallucinations, so there’s that too), and although her predicament and her agoraphobia are well portrayed, because a big twist (that if you’ve read enough books will probably suspect from very early on) needs to remain hidden, for plot reasons, it is difficult to fully empathise with her. She is intelligent, she loves old movies, and she’s articulate (although her intelligence and her insight are dulled by her own behaviour and her state of mind), but we only get a sense of who she really is (or was, before all this) quite late in the book, and yes, perhaps she is not that likeable even then (in fact, she might become even less likeable after the great reveal). Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved books where the main protagonist is truly dislikeable, but I am not sure that is intentional here, and I felt that the character follows the plot and accommodates to its needs, rather than the other way round.

The rest of the characters… well, we don’t know. As we see them from Anna’s perspective, and this is impaired, there is not much to guide us. She is paranoid at times and can change from totally depending on somebody and thinking they are the only person who can help her, to dismissing them completely (that detail is well portrayed), but although some of the characters are potentially intriguing, we don’t know enough about any of them to get truly interested. This is a novel about Anna, her disintegrating mind, the lies she tells herself, and how her being in the wrong place at the wrong time (or rather, looking at the wrong place at the wrong time) almost ends her life. For me, the needs of the plot and of making it an interesting page-turner end up overpowering some of the other elements that I think are truly well achieved (like her mental health difficulties).

The writing style is fluid and competent, and it is evident that the writer knows what readers of the genre will expect (yes, from his biography is easy to see he knows the knots and bolts of the profession), although, personally, I think people who don’t read thrillers regularly will find it more interesting than those who read them often, as avid thriller readers are likely to spot the twists and expect what is coming next early on. The agoraphobia aspects of the story are well written (and from his biography it is clear that the author has a first-hand knowledge of the condition), although I agree with some comments that the many mentions of the wine spilling down the carpet or on the character’s clothes, of opening another bottle, and abandoning a glass of wine somewhere could have been reduced, and we would still have got the message.

Lovers of film-noir and Hitchcock movies will enjoy the references to the films, some very open, and others more subtle, although the general level of the character’s awareness and her wit reduces as the book moves on due to the stress and pressure Anna is under. The ending… Well, I’m trying not to write any spoilers so I’ll keep my peace, although, let’s say you might enjoy the details, but there are not that many possible suspects, so you might guess correctly. (Yes, it does follow the standard rules).

In my opinion, this is a well-written book, that perhaps tries too hard to pack all the elements that seem required nowadays to make it big in the thriller genre: a female unreliable narrator, domestic problems (domestic noir), meta-fictional references to other books and films, twists and turns galore, witty dialogue (not so much, but yes, especially early on Anna can quote with the best of them), an action filled ending with a positive/hopeful message. I enjoyed the descriptions of Anna’s agoraphobia and, particularly, the way the house becomes another character (that is what I felt gave it most of its noir feel).  People who don’t read many thrillers or watch many movies in the genre are more likely to be surprised and thrilled than those who do, as the storyline will be very familiar to many. I am intrigued to see what the writer will produce next, and I am not surprised to hear that the book’s film adaptation rights have been already bought. That figures.

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review 2018-02-11 18:46
Night Film
Night Film - Marisha Pessl

The body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova has been found in an abandoned warehouse. It appears as though she has committed suicide. But investigative journalist Scott McGrath believes this is not true. Ashley's father is Stanislas Cordova, an enigma. He's a film director whose dark, unsettling work can be found underground along with a cult following. Scott believes he may have had a hand in what happened to his daughter. As Scott digs deeper into the Cordova's lives, interviewing those closest to both Stanislas and Ashley as well as those who last seen Ashley before her death, he begins to wonder if he's the next victim.

The hardcover was on sale for $5! Where could I go wrong? I love the iridescent letters and luckily the story inside is good. It's long, I'm happy it's over, but it's solid all the way through. The thing that really bothered me throughout was the excessive italics. Not only was it annoying, it was distracting. I also didn't like the ending. Towards the end I was like 'oh my God, this is good!' then the author started to lose me, but then I thought 'well, this isn't so bad' But the actual ending, ugh. No. I really enjoyed the mystery and secrecy surrounding Stanislas Cordova. There were lots of weird things happening, that's for sure! Some things may not be as they seem. I liked all the characters. Each of them were different and they seemed real to me. Speaking of different, I really liked Nora. I hope New York hasn't taken away her sparkle.

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review 2018-02-07 23:24
Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies - Andrew DeGraff,Fredric Jameson

I received this book for free from the publisher (Quirk Books) in exchange for an honest review.


I really liked this book. The idea behind it is so fun! The book consists of maps from 35 different movie worlds. Some of the movies featured include, Jaws, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Clueless, and Guardians of the Galaxy. The maps are also not your typical flat ones. They are more three dimensional and are reminiscent of bus/subway maps because of the characters’ paths that run throughout them.


Artistically, each map is stunning, You can tell so much work was put into each one. There is so much detail in each map. It’s really amazing.


The essays that accompanied each map were incredibly insightful in its analysis. The essays don’t necessarily correlate to the map; they just talk about the film in general. I also really liked the writing style of the essays. They were easy to read, concise, and flowed nicely.


My one issue with this book is the size of the maps. Even though they take up a whole page, the maps are still too small to fully appreciate. Some parts are made bigger which helps, but it’s still not enough to gain the entire experience. You would need a magnifying glass to see all the little details. In person, the maps would be glorious, but in the book they fall a bit flat.


Together, the essays and the maps create a beautiful coffee table book that will make you want to re-watch the movies featured.

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