Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Looking back at 2013

The year 2013 will be memorable for me for various reasons! I made my book review blog, Shounak's Book Reviews, in January. I discovered a lot of new-to-me authors, and a lot of new-to-me directors.

In November, I realized that because of time shortage, it was becoming difficult for me to manage two blogs (Shounak's book reviews and Blog of an aspiring movie buff). Therefore, I made this blog, Life with Books & Movies, where I review both books and movies.

''Life with Books & Movies'' is a very new blog, that I made in November 2013. I hope I will be more active in this blog in 2014.

The top ten books that I read in 2013 (Top Ten Tuesday post)

The best movies that I watched in 2013

 I am making a list of the best movies I watched in 2013. The list is not in any order, it's listed randomly.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Pan's Labyrinth
Vertigo (watched for the second time)
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari
My Fair Lady
Broken Blossoms
12 Angry Men
The Haunting

 I hope to discover more new-to-me authors and new-to-me directors in 2014!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I wish everybody a great 2014!!!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

It's the last day of 2013, and I'll probably be doing several blog posts today, but firstly, I"ll be listing the ten best books that I read in 2013.

2013 will be a very memorable year for me. I discovered a lot of new-to-me authors.

I'm listing ten books that I think were the best that I read this year, BUT they are listed randomly. I don't think I can choose which is my Number 1 Favorite! I loved all ten of these books!

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

''And Then There Were None'' is certainly the best Agatha Christie book that I have read till now! It was such a scary, such an intense, thrilling, suspenseful novel, so very memorable, such an amazing page-turner. I cannot praise it enough!

The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks was another new-to-me author (though I had watched the movie adaptations of several of his books previously), and I read several Sparks books this year. Some, I must admit, were a little cheesy, but some just left me thoroughly impressed. ''The Guardian'' was a beautiful novel, a suspenseful thriller and a sweet romance at the same time. I was so impressed while reading this book. The characters in this novel were so well-developed.

Emma by Jane Austen

I read all six Jane Austen novels this year (''Pride & Prejudice'' was a reread for me). ''Emma'' was my favorite Austen novel. It was such a wonderful novel!

Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley

Now this is another book that made me thoroughly emotional. It is probably the longest book that I read this year.  ''Roots'' was such a wonderful book!

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I read all three Khaled Hosseini novels this year. And my favorite among them was ''A Thousand Splendid Suns''. It was a great book, it was. Such an emotionally intense historical fiction novel with excellently-developed characters.

Several of the Chronicles of Narnia books by C. S. Lewis

I won't exactly list which book, because I'm not yet sure which is my favorite Narnia novel, till now. I think I love the first three books (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and the favorite has to be one among them. (Note: I haven't yet finished reading the series. I have one more Narnia book left to read).

A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

Now. Is this one of the best Agatha Christie books I read this year? Yes, it is! Is it the best Miss Marple I have read till now? Yes, it is! But the main reason I just love this book is because this novel introduced me to Agatha Christie, it was this novel that made me a fan of Agatha Christie's works. It was such a warm mystery with such well-developed characters and such a lot of humor! I became comfortable with the story at once!

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

It was a reread for me, but I'm listing this book because when I had first read this novel (several years ago), I didn't love it this much. This year, I reread it, and absolutely loved it! Elizabeth and Mr Darcy were perfect protagonists!

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I really loved The Hunger Games trilogy. And ''Mockingjay'' is my favorite Hunger Games novel. It was such an emotional book, and a great ending to the wonderful trilogy!

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

Another Nicholas Sparks. :) I just loved ''A Bend in the Road''. It was such a beautiful love story. Though some aspects were a bit predictable, I really loved this novel.

Oh well, I guess these are the ten best books that I read this year! 

Sunday, 29 December 2013

''Rose Madder''- Book Review

Author: Stephen King
Published: 1995

Genres: Novel, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5


This is the first Stephen King book that I have read.

The protagonist of ''Rose Madder'', Rose Daniels, is the domestically abused wife of Norman Daniels, a cop. Rose faces domestic violence for fourteen years. And one day, she decides to run away from Norman. She takes his bank card, and runs away. She arrives in a distant city, and is sheltered by an organization, Daughters and Sisters. Eventually, she moves to a little apartment, and gets a job as an audiobook reader. 

However, Norman is still following her, and using his methods, he locates the city where she is living in.

Rose comes across a painting, named ''Rose Madder'',  at a pawnshop. She is strangely attracted to the painting, and buys it, in exchange of her cheap wedding ring. Shortly after that, strange things start happening centering the painting... the objects in the painting start changing their positions, and not only that, new things start appearing in the picture...

Norman is looking for Rose. Rose is being troubled by the creepy things about the painting...

''Rose Madder'' was such an intense, compelling and engrossing read! Rose is an excellently-developed protagonist. At first, she is really well-portrayed as a domestically abused, meek woman who has to run away from her abusive husband. And over the course of the novel, Rose's mind is explored in various ways. The things that happen over the course of the story makes Rose a protagonist with a lot of depth.

Norman was an excellently-developed villain. He was developed in such a way that the readers start to hate him.

The idea of the novel was itself very interesting. The other world, the world of Rose Madder, was so vividly described, and it became quite fascinating reading about the world of Rose Madder.

At first, I did think that the novel was a bit too slow paced. However, from the time Rose discovers Rose Madder's world, I was really fascinated by the story! I think the slow pace and vivid descriptions were really wonderful!

''Rose Madder'' is a suspenseful, fascinating, extremely engrossing novel. I really liked it. I know that this is not perhaps the best introduction to Stephen King, but I am looking forward to read his other novels like ''Carrie'' and ''The Shining''.

4 out of 5

Friday, 27 December 2013

''Taken at the Flood''- Book review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1948

Genres: Mystery, Crime

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


This novel stars Hercule Poirot. It starts with a prologue, set in 1944, where Poirot is, along with a friend, at a club. Major Porter informs the people at the club that a man named Gordon Cloade was killed because of an air raid in his house. None, except the young wife of Cloade, and her brother, survived the blitz.

Two years later, in 1946, Poirot receives a visit from Katherine Cloade- sister-in-law of the late Gordon Cloade. Gordon Cloade's widow has come upon a huge fortune after Gordon Cloade's death. The widow, Rosaleen Cloade, had been married previously to a man named Robert Underhay, who is believed to be dead. However, Katherine has been ''informed'' by spirit that Robert Underhay is still alive... Poirot, however, declines to take any initiative regarding this.

There is a flashback. We learn more about the members of the Cloade family. Gordon Cloade had been childless, and had promised all his relatives that he would protect them, that they would always be financially secure. But, then he married young Rosaleen, and, having not made a will before his death, Rosaleen had inherited all his wealth. The Cloades thus bear a grudge against Rosaleen, and especially her brother, David Hunter, who apparently manipulates her and controls all her decisions. 

But then something unpredicted and puzzling happens... and Hercule Poirot is finally compelled to look into the matter...

This novel takes a lot of time to develop the characters and develop the atmosphere, to make us understand the condition of the Cloade family and it's members. I really liked this thing about this novel. After the prologue, the book is divided into two parts: in the first part, the Cloades, Rosaleen, and David Hunter are described with depth, and Hercule Poirot doesn't appear in this part. The second part deals with the investigation and has a lot of unexpected revelations.

I really enjoyed ''Taken at the Flood''. I didn't love it as much as to say that it's among the finest Agatha Christies I've read, but I'd really recommend this one. The character development is intense, the story is extremely engrossing, and the solution comes completely unexpected and unpredicted, with an (or several) unexpected twist. Hercule Poirot is amazing as always.

3.5 out of 5


Thursday, 26 December 2013

''Saboteur'' (1942 movie)- Review

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Released: 1942
Country: United States

Genre: Thriller, Action

Cast: Robert Cummings, Priscilla Lane, Otto Kruger, Norman Lloyd, Vaughan Glaser

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


''Saboteur'' is the story of Barry Kane (played by Robert Cummings), who works in an airplane factory. One  day, Barry and his friend, Ken, meet a fellow worker, Frank Fry, whom they never met before. Shortly afterwards, a fire starts in the factory, and Fry hands Barry a fire extinguisher, which Barry hands to Ken. Ken, however, meets a tragic death in the fire.

It is later discovered that the fire extinguisher was filled with gasoline, and Barry is blamed for this; it is said that he is linked with the death of Ken. Barry decides to prove his innocence, and find Frank Fry, who had handed him the extinguisher  and has disappeared. Apparently, there was never a man named Fry employed in the factory, which puzzles Barry, and he decides to find Fry and prove his (Barry's) innocence.

This takes him on a dangerous, thrilling journey...

I absolutely loved the first half of the film. It was so energetic, so lively, so thrilling! The first half was thoroughly entertaining! I really loved the chemistry of Barry and the heroine of the film, Pat (Priscilla Lane). The adventures that Barry and Pat share were extremely exciting and entertaining! And in this first half Barry meets several memorable characters, who, despite their short screen presence, remain memorable, such as a blind man (Pat's uncle), and some circus performers.

The second half of the film loses some of the fast pace and excitement of the first half. I mean, I still enjoyed the film; however, not as much as I had enjoyed the first half. The second half was thrilling as well, and with a lot of important points, but it did not have the energy of the first half. And also, there is not much presence of Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane together in the second half, so I thought the film lost much of it's charms in the second half. Yet, I still liked the second half because it was quite thrilling and the film had a good climax and ending.

Overall, while I absolutely loved the first half and the chemistry of Cummings and Lane, I just liked the second half. It was extremely energetic, lively and entertaining at the first half, but the second half was just enjoyable and likeable.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, 23 December 2013

''Suspiria'', ''Mrs Miniver'' and ''Iris''- Short reviews

Suspiria (1977 movie)

Directed by: Dario Argento
Released: 1977
Country: Italy

Genres: Horror, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5

Short review

Suspiria is about a famous dance academy. Our protagonist, Suzy Bannion, enrolls in the academy, and after her arrival there, she starts noticing that strange, mysterious, scary things have been happening in the academy. She soon comes across dark secrets, hidden mysteries about the academy...

''Suspiria'' was a wonderful film, indeed! It was very suspenseful and kept me really engrossed! The most memorable thing about this film is probably the use of color. It's a beautifully colorful film. The use of red, blue, and green are commonly seen, and the red light in the corridor makes the whole atmosphere more scary, lonely, suspenseful. This use of colors is the most memorable aspect of the film. The score is also very good, and the performances are really good. Suspenseful, scary, and engrossing throughout, this is a really colorful film I would really recommend!

Mrs Miniver (1942 film)

Directed by: William Wyler
Released: 1942
Country: United Kingdom

Genres: War drama

Rating: 4 out of 5

Short review

''Mrs Miniver'' tells an emotionally intense and painful story about how normal people's life can be affected because of wars. The story starts in the summer of 1939, with a happy middle class family, the sweet and wonderful Minivers: architect Clem Miniver (Walter Pidgeon), his wife, Kay Miniver (Greer Garson), and their children: Vin (Richard Ney), T
oby (Christopher Severn), and Judy (Clare Sanders). The early parts of the film shows the carefree, happy life of the Minivers before the World War II. Vin falls in love with Carol (Teresa Wright), the sweet granddaughter of the aristocratic Lady Beldon (Dame May Whitty), who is excessively arrogant about her social position. 

But, life changes as the war begins. To escape from the bombs and air raids, the people often have to take shelter in their cellars. Vin enlists in the air force. There are constant worries and fears about what may happen. The film follows the story of Mrs Miniver's experiences during the war, the losses and tragedies that she and her family come across.

''Mrs Miniver'' was an extremely touching film. Greer Garson is amazing. Teresa Wright is also very memorable; her sweet performance and beautiful smile are quite unforgettable. A sad film that portrays how a cheerful and happy family is greatly affected because of war.

4 out of 5

Iris (2001 film)

Directed by: Richard Eyre
Released: 2001
Country: United Kingdom

Genre: Biographical drama, Romance

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Short review

Iris is basically the story of the relationship between novelist Iris Murdoch (played by Judi Dench and Kate Winslet) and her husband, John Bailey (played by Jim Broadbent and Hugh Bonneville). The film shifts between two time settings: showing the young Iris and John Bailey and their developing relation on one hand, and on the other hand, an elderly Iris suffering from Alzheimer's disease, unable to write, unable to speak and express herself, losing the words that she once used to love so much, while John loves her extremely and cares for her.

''Iris'' was a moving film, a very sweet, touching, and beautiful story. Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent are great! Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville are good too. But what remains memorable is John Bailey's deep love for Iris. It was really emotional. For him, it's extremely painful that Iris can no longer write, use the words that she once loved, and he does his best to take care of Iris, to support her.

While I won't exactly say that the film is great enough to be unforgettable, it is certainly an emotional little journey, a sweet, moving, lovely film.

3.5 out of 5

Friday, 20 December 2013

Feature and Follow Friday

Hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, Feature and Follow Friday is a way to gain 
new followers and make new friends!

Question of the Week: Pick a book in your favorite genre that you’d recommend to a reluctant reader.

I have several favorite genres, but I think, right now, Mystery is my favorite genre!

                                  And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I was extremely impressed with this book! It was such a great mystery, such a scary and suspenseful book! ''And Then There Were None'' is one of my favorite books, and my favorite Agatha Christie (she is among my favorite authors). It was very scary and suspenseful. 

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Thursday, 19 December 2013

''Amélie'' (2001 movie)- Review

Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Released: 2001
Country: France

Genres: Romantic comedy, Drama

Cast: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Serge Merlin, Claire Maurier, Isabelle Nanty, Urbain Cancelier, Jamel Debbouze

Rating: 5 out of 5


Amelie... ah, what a beautiful, charming, what a lively and refreshing film! This is such a film that brings a smile in the face, it's a film that makes you feel good, feel emotional, feel happy, feel wonderful. While I won't say that it's one of the greatest films I have seen, but when it comes to the most beautiful films, most charming films, I think it's certainly one of them. It's a great film, a heartwarming, charming film.

The film tells the story of Amelie. As a child, young Amelie's life was extremely lonely. She had no siblings, no playmates, and her parents were never friendly to her; they were rather strict and eccentric. Her father, a doctor, never hugged her, and only talked to her once in a month, for medical checkup. Seeing her father, her heart would start to beat fast, and her father mistakenly assumed that she was physically unfit to go to school. Her mother took the entire responsibility of her education. Amelie's childhood was sad and lonely. After the accidental death of her mother, Amelie was left alone with her introverted father, who never used to give her company. After she became an adult, she got away from home and started to work as a waitress, still living a lonely, isolated life.

But her life changes soon. One day, in her apartment, she accidentally finds a hidden box, filled with the toys of a child, that was kept there by a resident of her apartment, forty years ago. Amelie decides that she will find the owner of this box and return it to him. And if the owner is happy to get the box back, she would dedicate herself to make other people happy. After a lot of effort, she is able to find the owner of the box, and the owner becomes extremely happy to get the box back. Delighted and inspired, Amelie decides to make the people around her happy. She indirectly helps and tries to bring a smile to the people around her, like a blind man, the assistant in a grocery store, a middle-aged worker in the restaurant where she works, and also, her father, who lives a lonely life.

And one day, Amelie comes across a young man, Nino, who collects discarded photos from photo-booths. Nino accidentally drops his album (where he keeps those photos), and Amelie, who has fallen in love with, decides to return it to him, but her shyness doesn't let her come near him... 

How will she approach Nino? Will she be able to express her feelings,  and let Nino know about her feelings?

''Amelie'' is a film with which you become feel comfortable at once. It is such a film that has the power to bring smile on the viewer's face, it is a beautiful, charming story, a feel-good masterpiece.

I found myself attached to the characters, especially Amelie. Audrey Tautou is so amazing, so wonderful. Amelie's character is portrayed excellently by Tautou, bringing the character to life. Her beautiful and firm determination, childlike innocence, vivid imagination--- all these were so well portrayed. She becomes such a memorable, unforgettable character.

The visual beauty of this film is quite unforgettable. I loved the cinematography. I loved the settings. Bright, sunny, brightly lit, the film's visuals are extremely memorable and beautiful. It's a beautiful looking film, it's hard to move the eyes from the screen because the film is so beautiful, so charming.

''Amelie'' has a lot of characters, most of whom are helped, indirectly, by Amelie. As such, there are several subplots, like the subplot about Amelie's father, whose garden gnome has disappeared (Amelie is using the gnome to help her father). There is a middle-aged, hypochondriac co-worker, who has never found love, and Amelie tries to bring love to her life. And there is a painter, a neighbor of Amelie, with whom Amelie becomes quite friendly. Another subplot involves the abusive greengrocer, whom Amelie decides to teach a lesson. It was amusing, this subplot. There is also another subplot about a mystery man (there are lots of photos of this mystery man in Nino's album; Amelie wonders who this man actually is and why he takes so many photographs of himself).

If you are looking for a film that is beautiful, heartwarming, lively, charming, and that will make you smile, then watch ''Amelie''! It's certainly one of the most beautiful movies that I have seen!

5 out of 5

Monday, 16 December 2013

Sunday, 15 December 2013

''The Cabinet of Dr Caligari'' (1920 movie)- Review

Directed by: Robert Wiene
Released: 1920
Country: Germany

Genres: Horror, Mystery

Rating: 5 out of 5


I can't praise ''The Cabinet of Dr Caligari'' enough--- it was such a wonderful, haunting, memorable film, that kept me thinking about it for a long time. ''The Cabinet of Dr Caligari'' has a haunting and engrossing presentation, AMAZING set decorations, and cinematography. I loved the film.

The film starts with two people talking, one of them is our protagonist, Francis, and the other is an elderly man. A woman in a white dresses walks by, and Francis tells the old man that she is his fiance. Francis tells the elderly man about the strange and scary incidences that he and his fiance had experienced...

Francis and his friend, Alan, had gone to visit the town fair. A strange man, Dr Caligari was exhibiting something in the fair. He was exhibiting a somnambulist, named Cesare, who sleeps all day long. Only Dr Caligari can wake him, and Cesare can predict the future. The curious Alan asks Cesare a question: how long he (Alan) will live. Cesare replies that he will live till dawn the next day. Startled, Alan and Francis leave the fair, but soon forget Cesare's prediction.

That night, however, Alan is mysteriously killed... 

Francis guesses that Alan's death, along with another crime that recently occurred, is connected with Dr Caligari and Cesare... He searches for the truth behind these events... what is actually happening?

''The Cabinet of Caligari'' has an extremely memorable set decoration. The presentation is wonderful and haunting. As Dr Caligari, Warner Krauss is excellent. The character is presented in a very creepy way. Conrad Veidt, as Cesare, was creepy as well.

''The Cabinet of Dr Caligari'' is full of shocks, twists, and scares. It was so atmospheric, so haunting. The images are unforgettable, it's such a film  that is extremely engrossing and haunting. Another remarkable thing about the film is the blue that indicates the night scenes. 

The ending is certainly one of the most surprising endings that I have ever come across. I absolutely loved it.

With an extremely engrossing, scary, suspenseful and twisted story, wonderful presentation, set decoration and cinematography,  it's a very memorable film and I would highly recommend it, it's a must watch.

5 out of 5


Friday, 13 December 2013

''One, Two, Buckle My Shoe''- Book review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1940

Genres: Novel, Crime, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5


Hercule Poirot visits his dentist, Mr Morley. That day,  the other patients of Mr Morley and his partner Mr Reily include: Mr Amberiotis (a Greek man), Miss Sainsbuy Seale (a good-natured middle-aged woman), Howard Raikes (an angry-looking young man), Alistair Blunt (a very powerful and influential banker), and Mr Barnes.

After Poirot arrives home from his appointment with Mr Morley, he gets a call from Chief Inspector Japp, who tells him that his dentist, Mr Morley, is dead. Apparently, he committed suicide. But Morley was not the kind of person who would commit suicide. There was no reason. And the death doesn't look like suicide either... Apparently, he was murdered.

This is followed by a lot of other events, tragic, perplexing incidences, and in some way or other, they are all connected with the patients of Mr Morley...

I loved One, Two, Buckle My Shoe! It was such a very perplexing, complex mystery! It was very cleverly written, extremely engrossing, very perplexing! And once again, it was very complicated and twisted, and it was a joy to read this one!

With a solution so unpredictable, and a mystery so well-written and well-presented, and suspenseful and puzzling, I guess it will be, though not my favorite, one of my favorite Hercule Poirot novels.

4 out of 5

Thursday, 12 December 2013

''The Third Man'', ''The Man Who Knew Too Much'' and ''Batman''- Movie reviews

The Third Man (1949 film)

Directed by: Carol Reed
Released: 1949
Country: United Kingdom

Cast: Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Erich Ponto, Ernst Deutsch, Siegfried Breuer

Genres: Film noir, Crime, Mystery

Rating: 5 out of 5

Short review: ''The Third Man'' is set in post-World War II Vienna. Holly Martin (Joseph Cotten) comes to Vienna. His friend, Harry Lime, has arranged a job for him in Vienna. When Holly goes to Harry's house, he is informed that Harry has died, in
a road accident.

Holly wants to know more about Harry's death. A man, Baron Kurtz, who had been Harry's friend, informs Holly that after Harry met the accident, he (Kurtz) and a Romanian man, Popescu, carried Harry to the side of the street. But, from a porter, Holly comes to know that there were three men who carried Harry... So who was the third man? Both Kurtz and Popescu deny the fact that there was a third man... Holly feels that something is wrong about Harry's death... that perhaps his death was not an accident, as the facts seem rather strange.

As Holly goes deeper in his investigation, he comes across startling, shocking facts...

I loved ''The Third Man''. The atmosphere created with the cinematography and the memorable zither music was great. The zither music that was played again and again was so wonderful, so memorable! Performances, especially the performances of Joseph Cotten as Holly and Alida Valli as Anna Schmidt were great! It was a great film, with great story, screenplay, cinematography, music, and great mystery. An unpredictable, atmospheric, wonderful film!

5 out of 5

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 film)

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Released: 1956
Country: United States

Cast: James Stewart, Doris Day, Brenda De Banzie, Bernard Miles, Ralph Truman, Daniel Gelin, Christopher Olsen

Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5
Short review: Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors. It had been some time since I last watched a Hitchcock film (the last I watched was ''The Lady Vanishes'', a few months ago). It was a great pleasure to watch ''The Man Who Knew Too Much'', a remake of his 1934 British film of the same name.

James Stewart and Doris Day play Benjamin (Ben) McKenna and Josephine McKenna, respectively. Their little son, Hank, is played by Christopher Olsen. The McKennas have come to French Morocco on vacation. There they meet Louis Bernard (Daniel Gelin), a mysterious man. The next day, the McKennas are traveling with another couple they had become friendly with, the Draytons. Suddenly, Louis Bernard, having been stabbed by somebody, runs to Ben, whispers to him that somebody in London is about to be murdered, and some unclear whereabouts regarding the future murder, and then dies. Ben and Josephine, go to the police station. Ben gets a phone call, where he is informed that if he tells what Bernard had told him to anybody, their son's life will be in danger. Ben is astonished, as Mrs Drayton was supposed to be taking care of Hank... Returning to the hotel, Ben and Josephine come to know that Mr and Mrs Drayton have left the hotel... and that means, they have kidnapped Hank...

Ben and Josephine go to London... to get their son back... Will they be successful in their search for their son?

I really liked ''The Man Who Knew Too Much''. It was really suspenseful, sometimes quite thrilling. It was so interesting, so engrossing! Stewart and Day were wonderful. The song ''Whatever Will Be, Will Be'', sung by Doris Day, and that won the Academy Award for Best Song, was really beautiful. Wonderful Hitchcock film.

4 out of 5


Batman (1989 movie)- Review

Directed by: Tim Burton
Released: 1989
Country: United States

Cast: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle

Genres: Action, Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: I'm not a fan of superheros. This film was my introduction to Batman. Directed by Tim Burton, another of my favorite directors, this film is a very entertaining, excellently made film with great performances and visual effects.

This is a quote from the film: ''Gotham City has become synonymous with crime.'' People of Gotham City remain afraid because of the countless criminals in the city. However, recently, the criminals have been afraid of a certain Batman, a vigilante, who, dressed like a bat, attacks the criminals...

Photojournalist, Vicky Vale (Kim Basinger), teams up with Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl), to investigate about this Batman.

Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) is a criminal, and one day, Batman throws him on a vat of chemicals. Though it is thought that Napier has died, he is in fact still alive, with his face deformed. After undergoing a plastic surgery, his face resembles that of a joker, and he renames himself as ''The Joker''. Arrival of the Joker starts causing panic in the city, as he starts releasing a fatal chemical, ''Smilex'', using it in different products and releasing Smilex gas.

What will happen? Will Batman be able to stop the Joker? And who is Batman?...

''Batman'' was an entertaining and engrossing film. Jack Nicholson's performance was excellent. Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger were wonderful as well. The cinematography and visual effects were wonderful.

This is one of the very few superhero films that I've watched, and I really liked it.

4 out of 5

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

''At First Sight''- Book Review

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Published: 2005

Genres: Novel, Romance

Rating: 4 out of 5


At First Sight is the sequel to the novel True Believer.

When I began reading ''At First Sight'', I didn't really have much high expectations from it. Sequels often aren't as good as their predecessors. I had loved ''True Believer'', but I wasn't sure if my feelings would be the same for ''At First Sight''.

I was pleasantly surprised. I loved ''At First Sight'' as well. I really, really, really loved it. In fact, I'm not sure if I love it as much as I had loved True Believer, or even more than that! ''At First Sight'' beautifully continues the story of the protagonists, Jeremy and Lexie, and it's an emotionally intense, powerful, and very touching love story.

Jeremy and Lexie are waiting for their baby and also preparing for their marriage. As he had promised, Jeremy has moved to Boone Creek.

Jeremy starts suffering from writer's block. It becomes really painful for him. The time is supposed to be happy, as they are looking forward to their wedding. But things get even more problematic, as Jeremy starts receiving mysterious emails, that makes him suspect Lexie and wonder if she has been wholly truthful about herself...

Like ''True Believer'', ''At First Sight'' also has some mystery in it. But that mystery isn't about some mysterious lights. The mystery is about the characters, about Lexie's past, if she had really lied to Jeremy about something, or hidden something from him.

But the whole novel is not about this mystery. This thing is just a part of it. The novel follows their developing relationship, and their eager anticipation for their daughter. 

''At First Sight'' is, in various ways, quite different from ''True Believer''. ''True Believer'' had a different atmosphere in it, the suspenseful, mysterious light on one hand (and Jeremy's research about the topic) and on the other hand, Jeremy and Lexie's relationship. ''At First Sight'' is beautiful in it's own way. The only focus in this novel is Jeremy and Lexie, their troubles and happy moments, and their waiting for their daughter. A beautiful story.

The supporting characters from ''True Believer'' are present here, and some of them get more depth: Lexie's psychic grandmother Doris, and there are other characters like Rodney, Rachel, Mayor Gherkin, Jed, who get more depth and importance in this novel.

A beautifully told love story, tearjerker, emotionally powerful, and overall simply beautiful, I really loved ''At First Sight''. I found it much more touching than it's predecessor.

4 out of 5

Sunday, 8 December 2013

''Road to Perdition'' (2002 movie)- Review

Directed by: Sam Mendes
Released: 2002
Country: United States

Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5


Excellent story and screenplay, perfect atmosphere created by the cinematography and the background music, and strong acting- ''Road to Perdition'' is a great film.   

At the beginning of the film we see a happy family. Michael Sullivan, Sr., and his wife, and their two children: Michael Sullivan Jr., and Peter. One night, Peter asks Michael Jr. about what their father does for a living. Michael Jr. himself has no clear idea about it. He only knows that their father works for John Rooney (Paul Newman), who had raised Michael Sr. because he was an orphan. According to Michael Jr., Rooney sends Michael Sr. for important tasks, and since these tasks are often dangerous, he carries a gun with him.

John Rooney is actually a crime boss, while Michael Sr. works as a hitman for him. Michael Sr. and his wife do their best to keep this fact hidden from the children. But the children, especially Michael Jr., is very curious to know. 

One day, Michael Jr. hides in the trunk of his father's car, while the latter is going on a mission. Michael Sr. is accompanied by Rooney's son, Connor (Daniel Craig). Michael Jr. witnesses a murder... he witnesses how Connor, in the presence of Michael Sr., murders a man. The thing shocks him... he is shocked to learn what his father's real profession is. However, Michael Sr. makes him promise not to say a word about it to anybody, and John Rooney is ready to forget that Michael Jr. had witnessed the murder... but, Connor is not assured... he thinks that Michael Jr. might cause danger... and one day, he enters the Sullivans' house, and mistaking Peter for Michael Jr., he murders Mrs Sullivan and Peter.

When they return home, Michael Sr. and Michael Jr. are shocked. Michael Sr. makes up his mind to take revenge on Connor. He is determined to protect his son. He takes his son to Chicago, where, on one hand, he starts looking for Connor (who has gone into hiding), and on the other hand, he must also protect his son.

It was an amazing film... The atmosphere created with the excellent cinematography and background scores... it was great, simply great. At the beginning of the film, when Michael Sr. and Michael Jr. are in their home, with their family, in Rock Island, the atmosphere is created wonderfully with snow, and with rain now and then. Throughout the film, the setting changes, from a snowy area, to city, to wintry areas, countryside, area around a woods, green farmhouses. Natural scenic beauty is seen very often. And then there is the darkness, another notable aspect of the atmosphere.

Tom Hanks and Tyler Hoeclin are excellent in their roles as Michael Sr. and Michael Jr., respectively. Michael Jr., in the beginning of the film, reflects childhood innocence, like reading books in the middle of the night using a flashlight, and playing snowball fight with Peter. Michael Sr. wants his son to be a good man, he does not want his son to follow his path. He wants to protect his son from the criminal world, not only from criminals and crimes but also from becoming involved in criminal activity. The developing father-son bondage is deeply portrayed. Both Hanks and Hoechlin are wonderful in their roles.

Jude Law plays an assassin who is hired by Rooney to kill Michael Sr. and Michael Jr. Now that is a very strange character. While he (his name is Harlen Maguire) is a crime scene photographer, on one hand, he is also an assassin, and when he murders anyone, he takes their photos and keeps the photos in his collection.

There are also Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, and Stanley Tucci, in supporting roles.

''Road to Perdition'' has a great story and great screenplay, great performance by the actors, splendid background scores, and beautiful cinematography. Thrilling and often emotional, this is certainly a great film.

5 out of 5

Saturday, 7 December 2013

''Raging Bull'' (1980 movie)- Review

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Released: 1980
Country: United States

Cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty, Nicholas Colasanto, Frank Vincent

Genres: Biographical drama, Sports

Rating: 5 out of 5


Martin Scorsese's ''Raging Bull'' is an often-intense, unforgettable film, about the life of boxer Jake LaMotta, the numerous winnings and defeats of his life, and the major focus being on his personal life. The film shows his deteriorating relation with his wife and his brother, making his personal life unhappy, and his continuous misunderstandings eventually destroying his family life.

Robert De Niro, as Jake LaMotta, gives an excellent, memorable performance. The rages, joy after the wins, disappointments, the terrible misunderstandings- all of these are wonderfully portrayed.

The film follows Jake LaMotta's journey to success, defeating well-known boxers like Sugar Ray Robinson. He himself becomes a celebrated, successful boxer. His best friend and confidante is his brother, Joey (Joe Pesci).

But his mind is filled with misunderstandings and suspicions. He suspects his wife, Vicki (Cathy Moriarty) of having extra-marital affairs, and his suspicions and sense of insecurity become so strong that he starts to think that something is wrong even if Vicki simply greets a man. Gradually, he goes as far as to thinking that Vicki is having an affair with Joey, and all these result in his deteriorating relation with his family. His temper and rage gradually cause a lot of damage to his life and his career.

''Raging Bull'' is a powerful, unforgettable film. LaMotta's rage and misunderstandings that ultimately destroys so many things--- it was presented very deeply. 

Violent, intense, and with an excellent, highly memorable performance from Robert De Niro, it is absolutely a must watch!

5 out of 5

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

''Cards on the Table''- Book review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1936

Genres: Novel, Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Rating: 4 out of 5


It had been some time since I last read a Hercule Poirot novel (the last I read was Sad Cypress, which I read back in September). It was a great experience reading Cards on the Table! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it had a wonderful premise and character development.

The great detective, Poirot, comes across Mr Shaitana, a well known, notorious man, whom everybody is, for some unknown reason, afraid of, but who gives excellent and memorable parties. Mr Shaitana tells Poirot something rather odd: that he knows some murderers, murderers who escaped punishment. Poirot is curious, and Mr Shaitana invites him to his home for dinner.

As asked, Poirot goes to Mr Shaitana's house for dinner. The other guests present are Colonel Race, Superintendent Battle, and Ariadne Oliver, a well known detective novelist. The remaining guests arrive soon: Dr Roberts, Mrs Lorrimer (a woman in her sixties), Miss Anne Meredith (a young woman, in her mid-twenties), and Major Despard). 

After dinner, the group of guests play bridge: Poirot, Race, Battle and Oliver play in one room, and Robert, Lorrimer, Despard, and Meredith in another, while Mr Shaitana sits in the latter room.

Poirot, Race, Battle, and Oliver go to the other room, somebody says something to Mr Shaitana... only to realize that he is dead!

Anybody could have murdered Shaitana. Roberts, Lorrimer, Meredith, Despard. Anyone of them could have done it. Poirot remembers something that Shaitana had told him, that the purpose of the invitation was that he (Shaitana) wanted to show something to Poirot: Shaitana wanted to show him murderers who had escpaed punishment. Apparently, these four people where those whom Shaitana had referred to. And that means, one of these four people understood that Shaitana knew his/her big secret, and murdered him.

But who did it? 

The four sleuths, Poirot, Colonel Race, Superintendent Battle, and Ariadne Oliver, investigate...

''Cards on the Table'' had a great premise and it was actually really very, very unpredictable. There are four suspects--- and just these four suspects, nobody else could have done it--- and any one of these four could have done it. Each of them had the motive, each of them had the oppotunity. And so it becomes a complicated case with a wonderful investigation and unpredictable solution.

I really liked the character development. I liked reading a Poirot novel after such a long time! In this novel, Hercule Poirot hardly shows any arrogance! Ariadne Oliver--- I had heard of her before, but this is the first time I haveread a novel featuring her!

It was a cleverly crafted, cleverly written, really interesting and engrossing novel. There are a few moments when there is plenty of suspense--- and by the the time the mystery was solved, I was really impressed. 

4 out of 5