Monday, 28 November 2011

Music cufflinks created by Simone Walsh

This post is to shamelessly plug the wonderful handmade jewellery designed and created by Simone Walsh.
A few weeks ago, we hired a suit for the eldest Teen's school formal and seeing as his shirt had french cuffs, we needed a pair of cufflinks. The easy option would have been to hire a pair, or to simply buy a suitably neutral pair from the nearest department store. As the Teen loves music, I thought buying a pair of music themed cufflink would be a good idea, the trouble was, no department or jewellery store had such a pair - that I could find... What to do? Well, turn to twitter of course. There in my feed was @simonewalsh tweeting about being in her studio creating her current pieces. Bingo! I would contact Simone and ask if she could create the cufflinks. Of course she could! So, a few short emails later and all I had to do was sit back and wait for the cufflinks to arrive in the post. The whole process took less than a week - I still think this is an amazing feat! It really was very easy, payment was organised through PayPal, the cufflinks were express posted and arrived in plenty of time. Simone enclosed the important care instructions and the cufflinks were beautifully wrapped. What more could I ask for? Well, how about a special discount offer for my next purchase - yes, special voucher enclosed - excellent!

Here's an image of the cufflinks, the music is from one of the Teen's own compositions.
What did the Teen think of his cufflinks? He loved them!

Need some inspiration for gift giving ideas for that special person? Then look no further than Simone's website. Happy shopping!
 music cufflinks 1
 The Outfit

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Movie Review and Rant - "We need to Talk About Kevin"

Thank you @mamamia for the double pass - I am SOOOO excited to go along to the premier!

Firstly, thank you to Mamamia and Hopscotch for offering tickets to the preview screening of "We need to Talk about Kevin", a movie I was very keen to go along and watch.

Secondly, the traffic. Sydney - what is going on? Seriously. I really want to know what the hell is going on with the roads out there.It was a rainy Wednesday night - who wants to go to the city on a rainy Wednesday night? Well, it seems that everyone wanted to go to the city and we were all sitting in the endless traffic snarl that slowly snaked it's way along the freeway.  I had allowed 2 hours to drive from Kellyville to Moore Park, a distance of 42km never imagining that it would take that full 2 hours to get there. So much for chilling out with N., pre-movie over a bite to eat and a chat. I say poo to you Sydney traffic. /rant.

And now, to the movie - yes, we got there and missed 5 minutes, possibly 10 minutes, maybe less and maybe even more. The reason for the confusion is the way the movie portrays the story. Written as a series of letters the screen adaptation doesn't follow the chronological order of the book, instead you are shown vignettes from the present and past and back again. However much was missed, it certainly didn't impact on the rest of the movie. The movie was brilliant. I don't watch many movies, but this is the way books should be adapted into movies - it left me speechless and for all the right reasons. Both the casting and the acting - perfect, I really couldn't find fault. There is much to be said for actors who don't use botox and Swinton could not have pulled off the nuances of expression needed had she been pumped with the celluloid-doll-making stuff. The dialogue was spare - it was all about the visual. The pain, anguish, confusion, realisation in Swinton's face and body were very real. The same goes for Reilly and the actors who played the various stages of Kevin. This sort of acting is what movies should be all about.

So, reasons why you should go and see this movie:
1. You've read the book. Forget going to see this if you haven't, as you won't be able to make heads or tails of what is going on and you will miss the subtleties that pepper the movie.
2. You like old style horror and suspense that leaves you lying awake at night. Sometimes it's what you don't see that is far more frightening than the obvious. This movie has plenty of chilling subtle visuals.
3. You're not squeamish about the topic of "parenting". At the heart of this story is the relationship parents have with their children and just how much is nature versus nurture. Without giving anything away, this portrayal is an extreme and will leave you questioning just how people tick - husband and wife, parent and child.
4. You like your movies a little on the arty side. This movie is full of angled shots, blurry fade outs and ins, extreme close ups, artfully cropped scenes and hand-held-on-the-go camera technique. It all adds to the drama and chill.
5. You're over movies that are full of dialogue. As mentioned, the dialogue is spare. It's all about the emotion and this is beautifully shown in the visuals.
6. You like to be able to hear the movie over the din of chip wrappers, slurping fizzy drinks and rustling popcorn. I can tell you that in the cinema last night, I didn't so much as hear a lolly being unwrapped. And that is a wonderful thing.

Reasons why you shouldn't see this movie:
1. You read the book, or at least tried to, and hated it. You will hate the movie even more.
2. You prefer your movies presented in an orderly fashion and really don't like movies with flashback scenes.
3. You don't like horror, graphic or subtle, and you're pregnant with your first child. To be honest, I would be squeamish watching this if I were in that position. Yikes...
4. You like happy endings. I don't think that's a spoiler alert, but there's little happiness in this movie. There are some touching moments and that's the closest you'll get to happiness with this story.
5. You don't like confrontation. The story will mess with your head and what it means to be a parent. If you're particularly sensitive, you'll be too frightened to read to your child ever again. In fact, you may even ban books altogether...

All in all, I loved the book and I loved the movie. I would rank it the second best movie ever.
Do you dare go and watch it? If you do, let me know your thoughts.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Book Review - "We Need to Talk about Kevin" by Lionel Shriver

It was haunting but...

I have been remiss and this review is long overdue and not just because I promised N. that I would write it. You don't know N., but we go back quite a few years and we've always swapped book lists. Our tastes aren't always the same but that's the beauty of it. It works most of the time... Last year though, it almost ended in tears. I finally got around to reading one of N.'s favourite books and I wrote my not-so-thinly-disguised thoughts here. I think I am the only person in the whole wide world who didn't enjoy that book. Everyone else I've spoken with about it, speak of it in those soft and dreamy angel-voice tones. Many also enjoyed the movie, and again, speak of it in dreamy-like angel tones. As for the movie, I understand the ending is somewhat different (and by that I mean TOTALLY) and casting Cameron Diaz as the mother? Goodness, what were they thinking? In my head, Diaz is the last person I'd imagine playing that role in that movie.

So, to the point of this post and speaking of actors and the characters they play, segues perfectly to - "We need to Talk about Kevin" by Lionel Shriver. If I had a Top Ten list of favourite books EVER, then Kevin would be in the Top Three. I don't know about you, but when I read I build images in my head of what I think the characters look like. And I think that's why I see so few movies based on popular novels - the actors tend not to match the characters in my head. The exception is Kevin. I cannot imagine a better actress than Tilda Swinton to play the part of Eva, Kevin's mother. And John C. Reilly as Franklin and Ezra Miller as Kevin - WOW! perfect casting!

If you haven't read Kevin, it's a toughie. This is the sort of book you'll either love or hate, there won't be a middle ground. I found the story haunting. Each page delivered a punch to the guts that didn't let up for any of the 468 pages. Each night I would apprehensively open the book and although I was cosily tucked up in bed, I always had the feeling of being on a precipice. A craggy, crumbly precipice only barely held together by some non-gravitational force; one that could give way at any moment if I dared breathe incorrectly.
So, if it made me feel so uncomfortable and anxious, why did I read it? It was the language. It was personal. It was as though I had a friend recounting her life's story to me; a gripping, heart wrenching, difficult and challenging one at that. And you don't turn your back on a friend when she's pouring her heart out. You  listen, with patience and without judgement, until she finishes. And when it's over, you can sink back into the chair you've been ever-so-slightly sitting on and be grateful that her life isn't your life and even more grateful that it is, after all, fictional.
I can see how this story can spark debate about parenting, communication among other things. In fact, in the back of the edition I have, the publisher has even supplied a list of possible questions you're meant to sit and chat about with your book club buddies. That really isn't necessary, the story supplies you with all the questions you'd ever want to debate. Unlike "The Slap", which also sparks debate and division, you develop empathy with the characters in Kevin. At the end of the story, I wanted to hug Eva and simply cry. As for the movie, I'll be putting it on my To Watch List and who knows, I might even meet up with N. so we can watch it together.
For a great interview with Tilda Swinton by Kira Cochrane on the role she played in Kevin, click here.

N. - you are so redeemed. :)

Now, what other books have you read lately?

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