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review 2016-07-04 21:16
A life in clothes, lived with a big heart and plenty of talent.
Wear and Tear: The Threads of My Life - Tracy Tynan

Thanks to Net Galley and to Scribner for offering me a free copy of this memoir in exchange for an unbiased review.

I knew who Kenneth Tynan was before I read this book. Although well before my time, I do love theatre, I’ve lived many years in the UK and I’d heard of his reviews, his wit, and remembered having seen pictures of him, but didn’t know much about his life. I didn’t know anything about his first wife, American writer Elaine Dundy, or his daughter Tracy, and I must admit that I’m not a big clothes buff. Having said all that, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The clothes give name to the chapters and form the backbone of the book, assisting the author in organising her memories. I guess we all have things we remember, music, movies, books, and they help bring to our mind momentous happenings in our lives. Why not clothes, especially when they were so meaningful to herself and the people she cared about?

Tracy Tynan’s life isn’t ordinary, whatever our definition of an ordinary life might be. Both her parents were popular, talented, brilliant and social butterflies. Their parties and events read like the who is who, first of London and then of the LA of the era. But they weren’t particularly gifted as parents. They seemed wrapped up on their own relationship, the people they knew and their careers. Their daughter was often an afterthought, and even when they tried to connect they weren’t very skilled at it. But the author is generous to a fault and makes an effort to be fair and not to dwell or overdramatise matters. She tries hard to understand and does not moan or complain, despite having lived through pretty harrowing experiences due to her parents’ rocky relationship and to their difficult behaviour. She is sympathetic towards other’s plights and never self-apologising, something extremely refreshing.

The book is full of anecdotes but despite the many famous people the writer has met through her life this is not a scandalous book trying to exploit her connections and throw dirt at others. She always has a good word to say, even about people or actors she had a hard time with, and I got the distinct impression that she subscribes to the idea that if you don’t have anything good to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. It’s a book full of passion for clothes, for life, for her friends and family. It’s a touching and warm book although it avoids sentimentality, cheap thrills and pulling at heartstrings.

This first-person account is a beautifully written book (she seems to have inherited the writing talent from both her parents), a page turner, understated, and we get to feel as if we were reading the memoirs of a friend. The chapter about her daughter, who was born premature, reminded me of my goddaughter, who was born in similar circumstances, and it resonated especially with me.  Her reflections about getting older, her experience of losing loved ones, and her more recent activity volunteering with homeless organisations and those looking after women victims of domestic violence made me realise I had more in common with this woman than I could have ever guessed when I started reading.

If anybody is worried about reading these memoirs because they aren’t familiar with the people involved or are not interested in clothes, don’t let that stop you. The book can be enjoyed by readers who know the era and many of the famous actors, writers, directors, clothes designers… who formed the social circle of Tracy Tynan’s family, but also by all those who have an interest and a passion that has accompanied them throughout their lives, who’ve survived complicated family lives, who love their friends and their families, and who don’t fear reinventing themselves once over again.

I’m not sure if the paper copies will have pictures. The Kindle review copy I was sent didn’t, but that did not diminish my enjoyment.

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text 2015-09-27 14:07
How to Survive a Film Festival and Truly Enjoy It
I live in a city of FILM FESTIVAL.
 

The end of summer is marked by the Film Festival and only when it ends the regular academic year starts. Or so it feels to me. I always treat September as a transition month, time to get used to early waking up and rushing around all day long. And it is a hard transition, made even more difficult by trying to fit into my new work schedule as many festival screenings as possible.

 

Yesterday was the last day of this year´s festival and it makes me nostalgic. I look back not only at the last week and all the wonderful films, but also at previous year’ films.

It always starts with juggling schedules. I sit with my timetable and with festival screenings’ timetable (released only one day before the tickets go for sale) and first mark all the films, all the hours that I could fit in with my work. Don’t get me wrong: not all of these films I want to see, but it’s better to eliminate the films that I have no way of seeing before reading any synopsis that could potentially break my heart or make me drop my job.

 

Once I figure that out, I make a list of the titles that I could potentially see and I start reading all the synopsis. If I have doubts, I look for trailers. The frustrating part is, not all the trailers are available: some of the films have their international premiers and don’t have all the promotional materials out yet. After about two or three hours, I have all the titles I really want and can see.

 

Unfortunately that´s not a happy end to making difficult choices: many of the screenings are at the same time. Last year I managed to see 17 films, this year only 14. The good news is, with time you get better at selecting what is worth seeing. I was wrong only about one film this year, while last September I made at least 4 doubtful choices.

 

 

So, the choice is made. You have your films carefully selected. You think you can relax and sleep well? Wrong! The very next morning the sale starts at 9 in the morning. And again you are faced with a choice: spend half night in a line and tremble that all the people that are in front of you are trying to buy tickets to YOUR screenings or you can sit in front of your computer and fight with the overloaded online sales system that constantly faces you with new bugs and challenges. I prefer my computer. If I am lucky (I was this year!) I start at 9.00 and at 9.15 I´m done. If I am not lucky (last year) I start at 9.00 and at 10.30 I still don´t have tickets. And the Sunday is done. You finally have the tickets, not always all you wanted, but at least the hunt is done. Exhausted you decide to sleep and forget about all that. You have 6 days till Friday: the first day of festival.

 

You see 3–4 films per day. Wake up at 5:30 and go to sleep at 2:00. Your coworkers worry if you might be sick. You are too tired to calm them down. All you can think about is the film you just have seen/will see. And your favorite author is coming the very next day.

 
 

 

But when he arrives you are at work. And you’ve already missed to many hours. Then at night your friend calls you and tells you in 5 minutes he will be out of the restaurant at the other side of the city. How the hell could you possibly get there in 5 minutes?? You couldn’t. At least you bought the ticket for the screening with presentation, so you can see him tomorrow. And so on… The week flies by and you are happy when it’s over. You promise yourself that the next year or you will take a week of at work, or you will just go to see 2–3 films. But 365 days later you don´t remember anymore all the weariness. So you spend 2–3 hours to set the timetables right, wake up at 8:30 on Sunday before the festival, fight with the computer sales system….

 

 

It´s still worth it. I promise!

 

All the pictures are done by me at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

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text 2015-09-23 18:43
TIFF Wrap Up

Congratulations to “Room” this year’s TIFF People’s Choice Award winner based on the book by Emma Donoghue.

 
 
 
“Room” was on my wish list to see but, unfortunately, it was never playing at a time when I could attend (screenings run from 9 a.m. to midnight seven days a week).  My daughter did see the film and said it is definitely a “must see” when it comes out, so I will definitely make a point of going to the theater to see it.
 
The trailer can be viewed HERE
 
This past weekend I once again attended two TIFF features.  I wanted to post this on Monday, but life has a way of getting in the way of how I plan to do things.
 

NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT

 
My daughter and I picked this movie out of her “magic book of movies” because it sounded really interesting.  As a “mockumentary” this movie presents an alternative universe where men stop serving any purpose.  In the film women began having what were referred to as “virgin births” – basically pregnancy and birth without the need of sperm.  It came as quite a shock when it first started happening – lots of accusation of adultery, fornication and lies.  When it was discovered that it was happening worldwide, women accepted it and went quietly on with their lives.
 
Oh … the births all resulted in girls.
 
Men eventually became of no use.
 
The film moves forward to present day where Andrew Myers, at 37, is the youngest man left in the world.  Men have been relegated to “men only communities” and are on the brink of becoming extinct.  Women rule the world through the “World Governing Council” and have done away with countries governing themselves, war, poverty and any number of other crisis issues existing today. 
 
But what happens when the inevitable occurs … a woman falls in love with Andrew and together they dare to question the new order.
 
This is the type of movie you want to go see with a group of friends, preferably male and female, leaving plenty of time afterwards for a nice dinner and drinks so it can be discussed.  Although most definitely tongue in cheek with several “laugh out loud” moments this film raises so many “what if” scenarios and questions that it just begs to be mulled over and dissected.
 
Interestingly, the premise was conceived and directed by Vancouver born Mark Sawers.  It makes me wonder if the film might have gone in a different direction had a woman been at the helm behind the cameras?
 
There is a little “teaser” for this film HERE 
 

JACK

 
Based on true events this film tells the story of Jack Unterweger, one of Austria’s most infamous real-life convicts.  Jack was convicted of the murder of a young woman and sentenced to a 15-year jail term.  While serving his sentence Jack begins his road to rehabilitation by writing poetry.  His poetry becomes popular with publishers and, predominantly, female fans alike.  Upon his release he embraces his new-found celebrity and tries to stay on the straight and narrow.  Unfortunately, about the same time that Jack is enjoying his popularity there happen a series of murders involving prostitutes (one of Jack’s many weaknesses) and slowly the police come to believe that Jack may be the killer.
 
This film, given the subject matter was quite dark, both in the story and in the cinematography.  Johannes Krisch, portraying Jack, was brilliant casting on the part of director Elisabeth Scharang.  There were a few moments in the film that had us talking about this one, later over coffee, as well.
 
One a personal note … the film’s dialogue was in German with English subtitles.  I have no problem with subtitles but when I speak the language of the movie I get a little frustrated because there are those moments when I feel the dialogue and subtitles don’t quite match up.  I am a little out of practice in German so for the first third of the movie I was reading subtitles and then “language memory” kicked in and I was able to follow the dialogue on screen.  It made it much more enjoyable.
 
My daughter and I do not usually mesh when it comes to taste in music, however, we did both comment, while walking out of the theater, that the soundtrack to this film was great.  That’s a pretty good testament to the talent of “Naked Lunch”.  Unfortunately, the soundtrack has a limited release of 500 hundred copies (vinyl only … CD included).
 
Over all, although we only saw one movie that is scheduled for release in theaters soon (The Danish Girl) all the movies we attended were well-done and interesting films.  It’s nice to get a taste of what’s out there aside from the “blockbusters”.
 
The “teaser” for this film can be found HERE
 
And … another year of TIFF is over.
 
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text 2015-09-14 18:19
A TURKISH HORROR MOVIE, THE DANISH GIRL and CULLING BOOKS ...

… those are the reasons I am sooooo behind in writing and posting reviews.  I feel bad about that, but I console myself with the thought that my “week or so” has been productive in other areas.

 
It is Toronto International Film Festival time so my focus has been and is currently on movies instead of books.  I have an excellent source for tickets … I’ve finally forgiven my daughter for leaving her job at the bookstore … so spent the past weekend seeing some pre-release movies and will repeat the process next weekend as well.  Sadly, we couldn’t fit any red carpet events into our schedules this time around.
 
This past weekend's highlights were a Turkish horror film called “BASKIN”.  Five police officers are called to an abandoned house on a suspicious call.  Little do they know that they are about to enter through a portal to hell … and hellish it was.  Definitely not for the squeamish.  I was a little apprehensive about this one because it was described as being "cringe-worthy for even the most seasoned horror fans" and it was in the original Turkish with English subtitles.  Was it the best horror movie I have ever seen?  No, probably not, but still definitely worth a look-see if you are a fan of the genre.  Despite the fact that I left shaking my head about some parts the “cringe-worthy” description was dead-on.  I looked around, during those times I couldn't bear to look at the screen, and I was NOT the only person watching parts of this movie through my fingers. The character of “Father” was played by Mehmet Cerrahoglu who in real life is a parking lot attendant chosen for this role because of his rather unusual looks. (See, I do pay attention during the Q&A's) "Father" or "Dada" is one of the creepiest and most unique characters I have seen in a film in some time.  Personal thought ... someone in Hollywood should sign up Mr. Cerrahoglu because he is interestingly unique and did a superb job in this film.  Hard to believe it was his first time on film.
 
Director Can Evrenol did a Q&A after the film.  Considering his self-admitted micro, micro budget this was well-done film and I think Mr. Evrenol could be an "up and comer" filmmaker.  In consideration of more delicate constitutions I won’t embed it here but if you are a horror fan and want to check out the trailer it can be found HERE.
 
The other film was "THE DANISH GIRL" starring Eddie Redmayne.  He is superb in the film and it would not surprise me if he received another Oscar nod for his portrayal of Lili Elbe (aka Einar Wegener) one of the first recipients of gender reassignment surgery in 1930.  It’s a hot topic these days with Caitlin Jenner being all over the tabloids but this movie shines a different light on a very sensitive subject and depicts a heartrending portrayal of unconditional love.  The film is based on David Ebershoff's book of the same name.  There is also a biography titled "MAN TO WOMAN" which includes letters, Lili's diary entries and a conversation between Lili and the editor, Niels Hoyer.  As is often, dare I say always, the case with books made into movies some parts are left out for the sake of the cinematic story.  After seeing the film I checked out a few more facts on line and that just led me to want to read both the Ebershoff book and the Hoyer book (if I can find a copy ... haven't checked that far into it yet).  In addition to the wonderful story and outstanding acting the film was a pleasure visually as well.  This was a good one in all respects.
 
The film was also followed by a Q&A with director Tom Hopper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables).
 
I also did some much needed “culling” of my bookshelves.  I need incentive to do that because it’s very difficult for me to get rid of books.  I purged 127 books off my shelves and (sigh) it didn’t even seem to make a dent.  There is a huge “used book sale” happening at the end of October in support of the local library in the city I work in (not the same city I live in) which I want to attend.  They are currently taking donations so some of the older books and paperbacks went into that box.  The books were picked up on Friday and I feel good knowing they are potentially going to be enjoyed by other readers.  On the flip side of that deal … I know that I am going to be attending the sale so, no doubt, some of that cleared space will be refilled.  Oh well!  All for a good cause as long as I don't end up buying back some of my donated books.
 
Some of the others I took pictures of and offered “grab bags” to the “Free Little Libararies” organization in the city where I live.  I posted them on their website and within 15 minutes I had more than enough messages from people willing to pick them up.  I also have a list of names to contact when I do round 2 of the “culling”.  I just couldn’t be ruthless enough to pull all the books that should be pulled in one fell swoop.  I feel like I achieved an even split of the two cities so I feel good about that.
 
 
 So that’s what I’ve been up to instead of writing reviews.  I hope to get caught up this week.
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review 2015-07-14 00:00
A Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema
A Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema - Kelly Cozy I was given a free copy for an honest review.

A Nerd Girl's Guide to cinema is a book of reviews about ""lesser known movies."" The genres range from horror, sci-fi, drama, and even romance.

Kelly's reviews are very insightful and she has a distinct personality. As a writer she gets into the characters' minds and actions. She is humorous and a bit snarky at times.

I thoroughly disagree with her review of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang however. I just couldn't get past that scathing review. As a child of the 70s she seems to like movies that are ""boring as heck"" to me. But that is her opinion, of course.

Overall the reviews are insightful. I even added a few to my queue.
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