Monday, 16 March 2015

''Why Didn't They Ask Evans?''- Book Review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1934

Genres: Novel, Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5


I really admired ''Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" It was such an exciting read that I couldn't put it down! I really loved it! I loved the suspense. I loved the character development and the excellent chemistry between the characters. It is such an excellent mystery that it kept me puzzled till the very end.

The story's central characters are Bobby Jones, a vicar's son, and his childhood friend, Lady Frances Derwent (Frankie). At the beginning of the novel, Bobby comes across a man who has fallen off a cliff. The man utters these few words before succumbing to his death: ''Why didn't they ask Evans?'' 

The man is identified as a certain Alex Pritchard by Mrs Cayman, a woman who claims to be the dead man's sister. The case is taken to be that of a suicide or a careless accident. However, Bobby's friend Frankie muses that it might have been a murder. When attempts are taken on Bobby's life, Bobby and Frankie become quite sure that ''Alex Pritchard'''s case was indeed that of murder and the murderer thought that since ''Alex Pritchard'' literally died in Bobby's arms, he (Pritchard) might have told Bobby something that could reveal the identity of the murderer. Bobby and Frankie set out to investigate with a few clues. Their ameteur investigation leads them to discover that things are not as simple as they seem, as they come across complex and layered people; they discover more hidden crimes related to the case, they come across dangers, they find more clues, and they can't quite decide who the hideous villain actually is...

I loved the way the story got more complex, more layered! What seemed a rather straightforward case became a really puzzling and unpredictable one! I kept reading it, and the revelations left me pretty astounded! 

It is not just the mystery that makes this book so irresistible and hard to put down. All the characters are so well-developed! I loved, loved, loved Bobby and Frankie! I loved the chemistry between them! The secondary characters are complex and excellently-developed! All these characters and their chemistry kept the story really engrossing! 

I loved this novel! I loved the suspense, the puzzling mystery, the way everything unfolded! I loved Bobby and Frankie! I loved the humor! I loved the character development. 

4 out of 5

Friday, 20 February 2015

''Pollyanna''- Book Review

Author: Eleanor H. Porter
Published: 1913


Rating: 4 out of 5


''Pollyanna'' is a lovely little story about optimism, and how a touch of optimism and positive thought can change the bitterness and misery of people into happiness and hopefulness. The titular character is a young girl, who, after her father's death, is sent to live with her late mother's sister, Aunt Polly, a cold and strict middle-aged spinster. Aunt Polly initially treats Pollyanna with coldness, and take Pollyanna in only because she feels it is her ''duty''. Like other members of her family, she also opposed it when Pollyanna's mother had married a poor young man against her family's will. Aunt Polly gives Pollyanna a little, undecorated attic room to live in. However, this bitter situation fails to dishearten the optimistic and hopeful Pollyanna. She play the ''glad game'', a game that her father had made up. She tries to glad about everything- she tries to find something to be happy about even in the most bitter things. Gradually, Pollyanna's optimistic attitude brings happiness to the lives of everybody around her; her positive thinking encourages others to think positively, and take a brighter attitude to life.

This is a thought-provoking and lovely novel that I would recommend to everybody. I really loved the character development; there are several memorable characters (like Pollyanna, Aunt Polly, Nancy, John Pendleton, and Dr Chilton). I really loved Pollyanna's way of thinking and attitude to life. Overall, this was an engrossing book, a pleasant read, a book that can make you smile, and I definitely loved it.

4 out of 5

Thursday, 15 January 2015

''The Purple Rose of Cairo''( 1985 movie)- Review

Directed by: Woody Allen
Released: 1985
Country: United States

Genre: Romantic comedy, Fantasy, Drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


''The Purple Rose of Cairo'' tells the story Cecilia (Mia Farrow), a working class young woman stuck in an unhappy marriage. She finds solace in movies. She loves movies, and goes to the cinemas whenever she finds some time. One day, she watches a film called ''The Purple Rose of Cairo''. She falls in love with the film, watching it again and again. Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels) is a minor supporting character of the film. From behind the screen, the character suddenly notices Cecilia, sitting among the audience. Impressed by the fact that Cecilia loves the film so much, Tom Baxter just... steps out of the screen! He gets out of the film and steps into the reality. Cecilia helps him to run away, and over the course of time, falls in love with him.

On the other hand, the actor who played Tom Baxter, Gil Shephard (also played by Jeff Daniels) is worried because Baxter left the screen. Shephard is a rising star, and he is afraid that Baxter, whose face, obviously, matches his, may do such unlawful things that may become an obstacle in his (Gil's) path to success and reputation. He tries convincing Baxter to go back to the film, and meets Cecilia, who falls in love with Shephard.

In this complicated love triangle involving two worlds, the world of reality vs. the world of fiction, whom will Cecilia choose? The fiction, where everybody from the real world wants to go? Or to the world of realities, where everybody of the fictional world wants to come to?

I really loved the concept of the film, I really did. The entire film is so lovely, so sweet. I was really impressed with Mia Farrow's performance! She looked so sweet, so innocent, so lovable! Jeff Daniels's performances as Tom Baxter and Gil Shephard were both really good, really very good. 

The film is sweet, cute, lovely, and beautiful, funny and romantic, but the only thing that I found rather unexpected was the ending. Was that a bad ending? Definitely not: any ending that makes you overwhelmed with emotions is a perfect, or a near-perfect ending. The ending of ''The Purple Rose of Cairo'' is so strong and so unexpected that for me, it will always be one of the most unforgettable endings I have ever come across. I won't discuss the ending in detail, but I will definitely say that compared to the overall film, the ending was unexpected, and while the entire film kept me uplifted, I ended up with a lump in my throat, overwhelmed with emotions, when the film ended. 

It is a near-perfect film that I would recommend to everybody, and, I think, after ''Manhattan'', it is my favorite Woody Allen film.

4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

''The Fault in our Stars''- Book Review

Author: John Green
Published: 2012

Genre: Novel, Romance

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


''The Fault in Our Stars'' made me heartbroken and sad, but it also made me smile, laugh, and love. It made me love the characters, it made me love the story. It is a beautiful young adult romance that is sad but optimistic, a tearjerker, and strangely, heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

Hazel Grace is a teenager suffering from cancer and because of that, she is always required to carry an oxygen tank with her. When attending a support group consisting of teenaged cancer victims, she comes across Augustus Waters. Augustus's cancer caused him to lose a leg. The two become very close, and with the passage of time, their  bond turns into deep love, as they understand each other, support each other. But their lives are shadowed and followed by cancer itself.

I loved Hazel. Our protagonist. I really admired her. I really appreciated her strength, her humor, her easygoing nature, which she could maintain in spite of the fact that she had cancer. She was a strong protagonist, she indeed was. Augustus Waters is also a strong character, and I really liked the things that he did for Hazel, even sacrificing something so that Hazel could meet her favorite author.

The book is so well-written and irresistible that it's easy to fall in love with it. While the love story itself is beautiful and emotionally intense, the overall novel has a great depth. While it indeed is a tearjerker, it has humor even in it's darkest moments, it is witty and sad, heartbreaking yet optimistic and heartwarming. Strange, isn't it? While the book left me heartbroken, I was overwhelmed by the time I had finished it. It was romantic, it was sad, it was emotionally intense, yet witty, optimistic, and to sum it up, beautiful.

4.5 out of 5

Monday, 12 January 2015

''A Streetcar Named Desire'' (1951 movie)- Review

Directed by: Elia Kazan
Released: 1951
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Cast: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden

Rating: 5 out of 5


''A Streetcar Named Desire'' is an intense and powerful film, with two of the most powerful performances I have ever seen. Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando, two of the greatest film stars of all time, give extremely powerful performances as Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski, respectively. Vivien Leigh's performance is simply so strong that by the end of the film, I was literally in tears, seeing the fate of her character, Blanche. On the other hand, Marlon Brando's character, Stanley Kowalski, is so excellently-developed that by the end of the film the only thing that I felt for the character was pure hatred and outrage.

The film's protagonist, Blanche DuBois, arrives in New Orleans to stay with her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter) and her (Stella's) husband, Stanley. Blanche claims that she has taken a leave from the school she works at, because she has been suffering from depression. In reality, there are secrets that she has been hiding. Dark secrets. The short-tempered, violent and wild Stanley doesn't let things go on smoothly. He often treats Blanche with contempt, and then decides to look into Blanche's past. He finds out about the circumstances that caused Blanche to move to New Orleans. 

I was greatly saddened, greatly shocked, and literally terrified seeing the torture and the difficulties that Blanche has to go through. Sure, she might not have had an agreeable past. But HOW can Stanley treat her, torment her in the way he does? How can a human treat somebody in this way? Stanley Kowalski is definitely one of the most hate-able movie villains I have ever seen. I mean, this character is inhuman and savage. And how excellently the character development is done! It takes time. Initially I felt only a mere loathing and even pity for Stanley, but by the end of the film, I felt pure hatred towards the character. For all the things that he does to Blanche.

 The most memorable line from the film is definitely ''Stella! Hey Stella!'' These lines, spoken by Brando's character, are spoken twice during the film, when Stella, tired of her husband's violent nature and torments, decides to leave her husband (twice). The first time this happens, I felt pity for Stanley, because of the circumstances, and because of the way he calls Stella. But by the second time he says this, at the very end of the film, my heart was filled with pure hatred, extreme loathing for the character of Stanley. The character development is done gradually, and I couldn't possibly feel any sympathy for him after the things he does over the course of the film. By the end of the film, I was left with tears in my eyes, having been shocked and saddened seeing Blanche's fate, and outraged and terrified seeing the inhumanity and savageness of Stanley. Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh both give extremely memorable performances- perhaps two of the most powerful performances in the history of cinema.

This is indeed one of the most powerful, one of the most intense, one of the most shocking, and one of the most excellently-acted films that I have ever watched. Elia Kazan's direction is, definitely, excellent, while Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh's performances are unforgettable and powerful enough to be called two of the greatest performances in film history. Besides the direction and the acting, the cinematography and the background score are great as well, and overall, this is a powerful film, a must-watch.


Saturday, 3 January 2015

''Marty'' (1955 movie)- Review

Directed by:  Delbert Mann
Released: 1955
Country: United States

Genre: Romantic drama

Cast: Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Esther Minciotti, Augusta Ciolli, Joe Mantell, Karen Steele

Rating: 4 out of 5


''Marty'' is one of those simple, lovely little films that are so charming that you can never forget about them. It is a film that is a must-watch for those who are fond of sweet love stories.

The titular character, Marty (Ernest Borgnine) is a 34-year-old man. He has never been married. All of his siblings have already married and settled down. His mother is quite worried for him. Marty is also worried for himself, as his friends constantly insist him to get married. At his mother's insistence, he goes to a dance one evening, and there he meets Clara (Betsy Blair), a 29-year-old schoolteacher whose date abandoned her. Marty asks Clara to dance with him, and she does, and spending the entire evening together, they gradually discover that they are in love, and that they are loving the time that they are spending together.

There is also a subplot as Virginia, wife of Marty's cousin starts complaining about her mother-in-law. Virginia thinks that the presence of her mother-in-law is ruining her privacy. This subplot deals with the problems and conflicts that both mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law tend to get through. The mother suffers from a kind of insecurity that her daughter-in-law is poisoning her son against her, while the daughter-in-law strongly feels that her mother-in-law is an obstacle to her  leading a happy life,

But more importantly, ''Marty'' is a great love story! I mean, it is so sweet that it will definitely bring a smile on everybody's face! The scene in which Marty and Clara walk after the dance and Marty cannot even stop talking- that scene was so lovely! The way in which the two characters come to understand each other- in spite of having known each other only for a short time- is really amazing. Perhaps this understanding is because of the fact that they can identify with each other's problems and insecurities. Neither Marty nor Clara is glamorous, but what they possess is good heart, what they possess is love. The chemistry between the two main characters was excellent! Betsy Blair is so cute and charming, and Ernest Borgnine's performance is really great. I admit it is not a great film that emotionally overpowered me or something, but yes, it is an excellent love story that brought a smile on my face and left me impressed- it is  a beautiful film, well-written, well-directed, and well-acted.

4 out of 5