Tag Archives: Piatkus

Bridge of Spies is as poignant today as it was in the 60s #FilmReview

fiction-fridayWelcome to Fiction Friday. This week I’m reviewing the new release film Bridge of Spies (Dir: Steven Spielberg). 

I thought it would be dull, Bridge of Spies. You know those old black and white movies where time stands still and all you can hear is a wooden clock ticking in the background, daring something to happen? Yeah, that. But while there were clocks ticking, they certainty weren’t slow in what is a tense, intelligent thriller from critically-acclaimed Director, Steven Spielberg.

Set in the 1960s cold war era, Bridge of Spies centres around a Russian spy who’s caught by the CIA, and, going to trial, requires representation as per USA statute. Step forward Tom Hanks. Ah,BridgeOfSpies_060615_263x351 Tom. Rather now like a familiar grandfather, Tom plays the insurance lawyer picked to defend the Russian spy, even though he hasn’t performed criminal law in years. And that’s where the story really starts – with the relationship between Hanks’ character James Donovan and the Russian spy, Rudolf Abel played by the very talented Mark Rylance – and what a sublime job he does.

Statue still and barely moving, Rylance portrays the role of a man not resigned to his fate, but instead at ease with it and the world, whatever guise it is in. When Hanks’ Donovan asks him, upon the event of significant development, ‘Aren’t you worried?’ Abel replies, on more than one occasion, simply, ‘Would it help?’ And that really sums up not only the spy’s character, but the relationship, the friendship even, that grows between these two men.

But of course, being a thriller, a lot more happens. This film is set at a time when Germany was divided into east and west and we see that on the screen, not only the wall going up, but the direct consequences it has. It is sharp, atmospheric, a big winter soup of a movie with added kick. And it gets you thinking. Thinking of double standards, of how, when it comes down to it, governments demand certain behaviour of others, yet do not always display that same behaviour themselves. This film get you thinking about friendship and cultures and how sometimes we just need to be, well, nicer to each other, really. It may be from the 60s, but Bridge of Spies plays on themes that are just as relevant – and poignant – today.

The only downer? It’s a tad slow in the middle, could do with a scene or two ending up on the cutting floor, but still, Spielberg has made an oil painting of a film, one that, each time you peer at it looks just a little different. And it’s that difference, that perspective it gives – well, it’s weird, really, but it kind of follows you around even after you’ve left the cinema and you’re walking home in the pouring rain. Because, you see, when I got royally soaked by a passing truck and immediately went to my default ‘Aaargh!’ mode, I stopped, as, without even realizing, from the shadows of the movie I had just watched, one sentence drifted slap centre in my head: ‘Would it help?’

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Bridge of Spies is currently showing at cinemas across the UK & worldwide


Agree with the review or totally disagree? Comment below.



#SPECTRE is, basically, sexist…

fiction-fridayWelcome to Fiction Friday.

This week we’re taking a slight detour & reviewing the film Spectre. Oh. My. Days…

I don’t know what I expected, really. Action? Sure. Deaths. Aye. Swanky gadgets. Where do I press? But what I did not expect, despite the legacy, despite the decades of decadence, was the out-and-out sexism. There. I said it. Namely, the latest Bond movie is a sexist show.

From the very beginning titles even, the new Bond film is all about strong men and weak women. The rolling titles feature, basically, naked woman writhing around Bond with the odd snake thrown in, real snakes that is. I won’t even contemplate the imagery for Bond’s trouser area.

Now look, sure, I’m not naive here, I know how the Bond franchise works: slick secret agent, shaken not stirred, an eye for the ladies. But, with the emergence of the Bourne films, the raw, visceralspectre-poster-black-white quality of them, their realness, the straight forward, actual depiction they give of women – how we are basically equal – the Bond films changed. They had to up their game to compete with this new real Bourne character that director John Greengrass had created.

So Casino Royale was better. It was less, ‘ladies’ and more, well, normal. In a good way. It slipped a little with Skyfall, Miss Moneypenny starting out as a tough agent then being relaxed to a secretary, but still, it was trying. Heck, the reason I switched the main character of my thriller to a strong woman was because I was sick of films like the Bond franchise portraying women as weak. Yet Spectre is out-and-out just for the lads. It was cringey. There were lines in the film that were simply clunky. The first female character, a widow played by Monica Bellucci – well Bond, frankly, shagged her and left. Then the next female, a character played by Lea Seydoux who first appeared strong, eventually submitted to Bond’s charms with the line, after a man was killed, ‘So, what next?’ This was followed by, yes, you’ve guessed it, them, ahem, shagging. And this woman is a good twenty years younger than Bond.

I know a lot of people will read this and say, what did you expect? It’s Bond! He loves the ladies! get over yourself. But why should I accept that? I brought my daughters to watch the film and I was so utterly disappointed that they had to see, for two hours, women being objectified and portrayed consistently as weak, for them to see a woman ‘in need of protection’, who says she’s scared only for a man looking after her.

It’s tiring. Even when the blonde female character showed strength, it had to be pointed out. Why can’t films just show strong women without any explanation of why or how they are strong? You don’t see Bond going around defending why he’s got big muscles or saying he can shoot, thanks, that he doesn’t need anyone to do it for him.

Sam Mendes, director of Bond, please, re think your strategy. Women are strong. Depict us as so. Because my daughters one day will be adults with money to spend , and if films like Bond continue to degrade them, they won’t be spending their cash watching those films any time soon.

Next week’s review: Stasi Child by David Young

Agree with the Spectre review or totally disagree? Comment below.



#fridayreads: My review of Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly Macmillan…

fiction-fridayWelcome to Fiction Friday.

This week’s fiction gives you my review of Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly Macmillan (Piatkus £8.99)

If you’re a parent, imagine taking your eyes off your child for a split second and then losing them. This is what happens to Rachel, the main character in the amazing novel that is Burnt Paper Sky, and boy is it an emotional read.

What ensues after Rachel’s son, Ben, goes missing is a huge search during 25343473which everyone, including Rachel, is put under suspicion, and in today’s world of intense social media and 24-hour TV news pressure, it’s a suspicion that the public get well behind.

What Gilly Macmillan has done with this story is get to the raw nerve of not only the utter despair of losing a child (amidst, what turns out, is the break up of her marriage), but of how we as a society are so quick to judge and accuse, especially hiding behind the veil of internet guises. The writing in the novel is sharp, taut with social media put to clever use with emails and transcriptions weaved within the narrative. The cumulative result is powerful, gripping and very, very emotional.

It’s a real page turner and really looking forward to the next novel. And if you want to know what it’s like revealing a new book for the first time, what the Burnt Paper Sky vid below…