Friday, 31 October 2014

Our Girl & Our World War, Brick Lane, The Riot Club, Mind and Soul podcasts


I took a bit of a break, didn't I?! Whilst you've not heard from me in the online world, I have been up to an awful lot of things out there in that other world; a wedding, a baby dedication, several plays, many meals catching up with dear friends, making plans for new holidays, I even escaped to Madrid last week (more on that in subsequent posts). At one point I travelled some 493 miles in just 5 days without leaving the country.

I've had plenty to write about, but no time to process it. But here I am. Back at last. With a crisp that's even bigger than my mouth!

Our Girl & Our World War

I've still had time to keep up with some TV, particularly military dramas. Our Girl has just finished its second series starring Molly Dawes (Lacey Turner), a young army medic in Afghanistan.  Its quite unusual to present the active side of the military from a female perspective; unfortunately it does retain a fair amount of girl-fronted-TV-show traits, there's a strong focus on fashion and rom-com elements. I also think the fact that the show was brought back for a second series is interesting, indicative of the ways in which the British public have changed perspective on Afghanistan involvement over the last 5 years. In the final episode a mother who has lost both her sons to the conflict says 'I gave you my boys; and you gave me a flag'. Both sons chose to be soldiers, but the mother is left empty handed.

(Molly Dawes. Image Credit: Digital Spy)

By contrast Our World War is a drama series based on the first-hand accounts of soldiers in World War I. The series originally aired in August but I'm only just catching up with it now. Historic accounts can feel distant and difficult to engage with but the series' production team have really done their best to overcome this. Each episode begins with spy-series style mapping and info which means you don't have to know where Delville Wood is to understand the importance of location and action at that moment. A decision to film the series with a strong documentary flavour and a contemporary soundtrack also help to close the gap of a century and make the characters easy to relate to. Can't wait to finish episode 3!

(Image Credit: BBC)

Brick Lane: Monica Ali

Last Christmas I bought myself 5 fiction books about London including White Teeth (Zadie Smith), did we talk about that book? I can't remember. Anyway Brick Lane is in a similar vein but with a much tighter focus on one woman in one family. Nazneen is a Bengali woman who arrives in East London married to a much older man. The book addresses themes common to much of humanity; relationships, friendships, parenting, and employment, through the specific lens of a Bengali immigrant in East London.

I'll be honest, finishing Brick Lane has been difficult. I've been reading it for at least a month and I've still not finished it. I think it might be because it doesn't have that much drama, nothing drastic happens, its fairly run of the mill. That said, stylistically Ali is a pro, she captures the voice and grammar of Dhaka excellently, and the dialogue between characters is both distinct and believable. Ali clearly knows the locality of her book well, having spent some time in Tower Hamlets I recognised the roads and the shops mentioned. I'm determined to finish Brick Lane but she hasn't made it easy!

The Riot Club

TRC is a film based on the play POSH by Laura Wade, itself loosely based on the activity of Oxford society, The Bullingdon Club. The film focuses on one night, and 10 Riot Club members. Honestly, I'm a bit terrified that it will do Oxbridge a ton of disservice. The vast majority of people I met at Cambridge we're not like the cast of Made in Chelsea or The Riot Club - with more money than sense. The things I liked about the film were: the panoramas of Oxford, that scene on the roof top, the eccentric supervisions, the lunch where Tom Hollander plays a successful MP.

That said, I think the film failed to adapt the play enough to its medium. Plays are restricted by physical space so it makes sense to set 90% of the play in 1 room. On film multiple locations become more viable and hosting the majority of a film in the same 4 walls can lose pace and the film did feel like it was dragging sometimes.

(Image Credit: IMDB)

Mind and Soul Podcasts

My congratulations to you if you are still with me! Its been a lengthy one this week as I had so much to say. I just wanted to conclude by saying I've been listening to a series of talks by Christian Mental Health resource, Mind and Soul. They've recently released a couple of talks on Perfectionism, Worry and Guilt. I've found them all helpful. Give them a listen.

Next Time: Madrid! I had an incredible time, I'm still processing the experience.