norwegianwood: Polaroid (Stock-Polaroid)
2009-08-26 12:03 pm
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Film review: italians



Title:
Italians
Year: 2009
Directed by: Giovanni Veronesi
Seen in: August 2009
Rating: ★★★★★
 
My thoughts: This film really surprised me and made me think a lot. I wish there was a copy with English subtitles available out there, because it doesn't really feel like an Italian film, it's really well done and has a great message to give. I love that it's divided in two parts, as there are two stories which are completely apart and separated one from the other, but which are both about Italians going abroad for different reasons, and the way they are seen from foreigners. I love how this film puts all these stereotypes in relevance and makes you think about this little country in a different way, even if you belong there. As an Italian living abroad, this film really touched me and moved me :) The acting was surprisingly great as well, and the soundtrack was just perfect, with Negramaro's version of the beautiful Meraviglioso as a final touch.
norwegianwood: (Disney-Enchanted)
2009-08-26 11:50 am
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Film review: Coraline



Title:
Coraline
Year: 2009
Directed by: Henry Selick
Seen in: August 2009
Rating: ★★★★★
 
My thoughts: Coraline is incredibly well made! You can just tell there was so much effort in the animation and in every little detail, and the result is a film which is captivating, cute, visually stimulating but also beautifully dark and gripping. It was a long time since a film of this type had involved me so much, and the reason is that the characters are amazing, funny but also a little disturbing, and until the end you just can't quite understand what it is that is wrong. The film has great images, a wonderful atmosphere, an original plot and fantastic characters, and is definitely very unique in its genre :)
norwegianwood: (Stock-GirlButterfly)
2009-08-24 10:30 pm
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Film review: (500) Days of Summer



Title:
(500) Days of Summer
Year: 2009
Directed by: Marc Webb
Seen in: August 2009
Rating: ★★★★★
 
My thoughts: This movie could have ended in a very predictable way, but it didn't. I entered the cinema expecting a very conventional film with a very conventional ending, and I found something completely different. This film was absolutely hilarious at points, but also really made me think at others. I knew Zooey Deschanel was an amazing actress, but he is a brilliant actor too. The soundtrack is amazing, and the whole vibe of the movie just makes you want to watch it over and over again. It's a very cute film but also very deep and emotional at the same time. I loved it!
norwegianwood: (Japan-Geisha)
2009-08-24 12:01 pm
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book review: twenties girl by Sophie Kinsella



Title:
Twenties Girl
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Read in: 08/09
Rating: ★★★★★

My thoughts: When I started this book I was a little disappointed, as I didn't manage to get as much into it from the very first page as it had happened with all the other Sophie Kinsella books. But after reading a few chapters, I started finding this novel very fascinating, with the result that it is now one of my favourites by this author. What I like about it is that she put together two different centuries that somehow get in touch with each other. There is a supernatural element, but it is so clear that she did a huge amount of research to manage to write this book successfully. The result is an extremely funny and witty novel which is very moving and instructive in the end as well, with unexpected twists and interesting, believable characters, as usual. I really think Sophie Kinsella is growing as a writer, and her style and subjects are becoming more mature, and somehow deeper, but always without losing that amazing way she has of writing something incredibly true in which most people can recognize themselves. <3
norwegianwood: (Disney-Enchanted)
2009-08-24 12:33 am
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Film Review: Coco Avant Chanel



Title:
Coco Avant Chanel
Year: 2009
Directed by: Anne Fontaine
Seen in: July 2009
Rating: ★★★★★
 
My thoughts: This film was truly unique, and definitely one of the best 'good mood' movies I've seen this year! The acting was fantastic, and I have to say that Audrey Tautou couldn't have portrayed this woman any better. She just inspires class anytime she breathes, and she's such a fantastic personality that the whole film stands on her. I loved finding out about Coco Chanel's life, and I have to say it really wasn't what I had expected to be watching. She was a very interesting person, a strong woman who never accepted no as an answer but who also had to compromise and make a series of choices that imposed her boundaries in order to find her freedom in the end. I absolutely loved the ending, which made me go out of the cinema with a smile and every intention of finding out everything I could about Coco Chanel.

The film was happy at times, sad at others, very funny but also extremely inspirational.
norwegianwood: Girl by the window (Default)
2009-08-23 05:30 pm
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film review: Antichrist



Title:
Antichrist
Year: 20089
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Seen in: August 2009
Rating: ★★★☆☆
 
My thoughts: Antichrist was an interesting film. I wouldn't really know what genre to categorize it in, and I don't think I'd be able to offer a detailed plot of it, as it's completely unique. There's violence, swearing, mutilations, shocking sequences, things being cut or damaged, running, hiding, but even black and white scenes with soft music, scenes where nothing really happens in the surface and others where you're not really sure of what's going on, and whether it's really happening or it's all in the imagination.

The truth is that this film can be seen from a series of different points of view, none of which would be wrong or right in absolute. Lars Von Trier has put in some amazing shots and has directed this film in an amazing way, even if it shows two really disturbed people doing strange things and going to strange places. It's not entirely symbolic or entirely realistic, it's just a story about a "him" and a "her" who are never given name, and between whom it's really difficult to determine who is the bad person and who is the good one. This is the question that stays with the audience at the end of the film: did she go crazy because of his rationality? Has she made him like this? Or has he made her that way? Who is the "antichrist"? And I think that this is exactly the confusing and genius effect the director wanted to leave. I have to say though, I won't watch this film again for a very long time, because of all the violence and the shock...
norwegianwood: Polaroid (Stock-Polaroid)
2009-08-23 10:48 am
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book review: Uglies by Scott Westerfield

 

Title:
Uglies
Author: Scott Westerfield
Read on: 2208/09
Rating: ★★★★★

My thoughts: Uglies is such a clever book that it has already made its way into the list of my favourite reads. It's about a future version of our world where, to avoid diversity, at 16 you have an operation and from an "ugly" you are turned into a "pretty", which means that you would look perfect, just like everybody else. I wasn't sure I would have liked this book, as the plot didn't say much more than this, but I found it so clever in the way it develops, and so incredibly well written. The style is simple but effective, and it grips you from the start to the end. I often find that so many books have a slow beginning and then get better and better, but Uglies was interesting and captivating from the start. It's a different read, instructive, that makes you think and that entertains you all at the same time. It's so hard to find a book which is based on a completely original idea, and Scott Westerfield managed to write one.
norwegianwood: (Stock-GirlButterfly)
2009-08-23 09:47 am
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tv review : Brothers and Sisters 1, 2, 3



Title:
Brothers & Sisters
Year: 2006-2009
Creator: Jon Robin Baitz
Rating: ★★★★★
 
My thoughts: Since I've seen all three series in the last four months or so, I thought I'd write a review of the whole show so far, as it had been ages since a show had interested me so much! I love Brothers & Sisters because the story flows very naturally, characters are many and all interesting, and I like the way I really cared for every single one of them after only having seen a few episodes!

What I like about this show so much is that nothing is ever either right or wrong, but there are different sides to it. In the same way, there's not good characters and bad characters, but I have to say, I really do like everyone in the show. That's because, even if someone acts in a way that has negative consequences of other people, they always show you the reasons for this behaviour, and it's easy to understand them and to relate to both sides most times. An example of this is Holly: she's meant to be the 'evil' woman who takes over the family business, but I've often seen her as a very independent person who really cares about her family and ultimately tries to make decisions that will make everyone happy in the end. Her past is also very interesting, I've often wondered what she had been like :) Rebecca is also like that, she has her flaws but she's sort of in the middle between the two families, and I like that about her.

My favourite characters will have to be Nora (Sally Field is an amazing actress, she really makes you care so much for her character), Scotty, Justin and Kitty. Kitty is the one I've loved since the very first episode, and she's probably a little bit of what I would like to be at some point: opinionated, passionate, wanting more from my life and not letting people getting in the middle of all this. I like that she's such a strong character with a great personality but can also be very fragile at moments. I also love Kevin, the senator, Julia, Sarah, Saul... All of them are interesting in their own way. 
norwegianwood: (Stock-GirlButterfly)
2009-08-21 05:07 pm
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Film Review: Sunshine Cleaning



Title:
Sunshine Cleaning
Year: 2008
Directed by: Christine Jeffs
Seen on: August 2009
Rating: ★★★☆☆
 
My thoughts: Sunshine Cleaning was an interesting film. It wasn't the least how I expected it to be, as the trailer said it was meant to be funny, and by the same author of Little Miss Sunshine, which is one of my favourite comedies. It wasn't funny but rather depressing, but I still think it was a very good film. The authors were very brave because they chose a very unusual/unpopular theme, and the characters are not heroes with a great personality, but everyday people who have gotten used not to want too much from their lives and who all look completely stuck.
This film has a great message, and I personally think that the ending is very positive and makes up for everything else. It was acted in a brilliant way and it had some very moving moments, but what I loved the most was the characters, as non of them was the 'conventional' type of film protagonist you'd expect :)
norwegianwood: Polaroid (Stock-Polaroid)
2009-08-21 01:01 pm
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Book review: City of Bones (mortal instruments 01) by Cassandra Clare



Title:
City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Read on: 19/08/09
Rating: ★★★★★

My thoughts: I loved this book because I found it very unique in its genre. I love how the author makes up this incredible world in a city like New York, which could seem anything but magical or supernatural. But all her fantastic places are concealed right at the heart of the city, giving this book the perfect atmosphere. Also, you can just tell that there was so much thought in the development of all the character, as the story develops and unfolds slowly but with such a precision of details and wonderful descriptions that it really does end up in completely unexpected twists. I can't wait to read the next volume of the series!
norwegianwood: (Japan-SakuraCat)
2009-08-20 11:51 pm
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film review: the time traveler's wife



Title:
The Time Traveler's Wife
Year: 2009
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Seen on: August 2009
Rating: ★★★★★
 
My thoughts: I loved it. I thought what made it great and interesting was that it was different from the book. Some scenes have been changed, some (many, actually) have been excluded, and I can understand why. It's a very dense book, and it would have made such a long film if they had left everything in it. Of course, there are a few scenes that I would have loved to have seen acted out on screen, and I would have rather had the ending a little bit different, but on the whole I thought it was very well done.

Rachel McAdams was perfect in her role and I loved her entrance, which was absolutely adorable. You see that woman acting and it makes you want to smile, you just can't help it. I cried a few times as well, not so much at the end but more around the middle of the film... But it's so hard to write a review of this film without writing about specific scenes, so I'm going to put the rest of the entry in a cut, as it will contain spoilers... So don't read if you don't want to know anything!

From now on, Spoilers! )

But on the whole, I really liked it and it really made me think. It really wasn't an easy film to make and I think they managed to do a great job with it! Even the fact that there are such mixed opinions of it proves it :)
norwegianwood: (Japan-SakuraCat)
2009-07-31 05:07 pm
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Book review : War Horse



Title:
War Horse
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Read on: 30/07/09
Rating: ★★★★★

My thoughts: This book was incredibly moving and absolutely unique in his genre. It's the first book I've read that is seen from the point of view of a horse, and it's completely believable and 'realistic' even if it's obviously an impossible situation, as a horse can't write or speak. I loved the relationships that so many different people have with this animal, how they feel the need to talk to him and to protect him, and how in the end they are all very similar to each other (it's set in the time of war) even if they have to fight each other. It makes you think of the reasons behind the start of a war, of the different attitudes to it as seen from the point of view of someone who is powerful but also has been dragged into the situation unwillingly. It's a story of friendship, trust, love, search. It's extremely moving and the characters seem to take life in front of us. The ending is just brilliant, as the only two really good characters of the books, who are also enemies, are somehow unconventionally joined together by a common point, and admit their weaknesses by showing their real nature to each other. It's absolutely perfect and the writing is simple but extremely honest and powerful.

Quotes: "He talked to himself because he felt that he was the only one who understood himself or would ever listen to what he was saying".

"You see, my friend, I want my Emilie to live on in people;s hearts. I shall die soon, in a few years, no more; and then no one will remember my Emilie as she was. I have no other family left alive to remember her. She will be just a name on a gravestone that no one will read. I want you to tell your friends at home about my Emilie. Otherwise it will be as if she has never even lived".
norwegianwood: (Stock-GirlButterfly)
2009-07-31 10:50 am
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Film Review : public Enemies



Title:
Public Enemies
Year: 2009
Directed by: Michael Mann
Seen on: 30 July 2009
Rating: ★★★★★
 
My thoughts: It's very different to find a film of this kind which is actually original and interesting and not predictable at all. This film really made it, and the fact that it was a true story added to it even more. It's a long film but it always keeps you interested. I loved the soundtrack, the characters (Well, Johnny Depp owned his character completely) and the accents. It's not characters that are made to be liked, but they all add up to the final picture of it, and this film actually lives you with something. It's violent, funny at times, moving at others, and doesn't have only one central theme. It leaves you sort of unsatisfyed at the end, but at the same time it's the perfect ending, and the audience is aware of it.

Quotes:

John Dillinger: I like baseball, movies, good clothes, whiskey, fast cars... and you. What else you need to know?

John Dillinger: [from trailer] There is absolutely nothing I want to do in Indiana.

Melvin Purvis: What keeps you awake nights, Mr. Dillinger?
John Dillinger: Coffee.

John Dillinger: We don't work with people we don't know. And you don't work when your desperate. Walter Dietrich. Remember that?
John 'Red' Hamilton: Walter forgot. When your desperate, that's when you got no choice.
 
norwegianwood: Polaroid (Stock-Polaroid)
2009-07-31 10:43 am
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film review : My Neighbour Totoro



Title:
My Neighbour Totoro
Original Title: Tonari No Totoro (JP)
Year: 1988
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Seen on: 27 July 2009
Rating: ★★★★★
 
 
My thoughts: This film is now my favourite Studio ghibli film ever. Apart from the fact that it's absolutely amazing how Miyazaki was able to hand-draw everything in such a perfect, detailed way at the time, everything about this animation film was amazing. The soundtrack is super sweet, the characters are so unusual and each of them has such a great personality, and the story itself is amazing. It is a children's story, but it drags adults into it even more. Totoro himself is presented in such an original way, and I love the way he makes such massive verses and shouts so much. At the same time, i love that the cat-bus seems almost evil, and that there's always a doubt whether everything is really happening or is just a dream. Things happen and then everyting goes back to normal, and in the end everything just fits in a perfect, magical way. I could watch this film over and over again. <3
norwegianwood: (Stock-GirlButterfly)
2009-07-20 01:57 pm
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Film review: Ex



Title:
EX (ITALIAN)
Year: 2009
Directed by: Fausto Brizzi
Seen on: 19 July 2009
Rating: ★★★★★
 
 
My thoughts: I absolutely loved this film! I really hope it will come out with English subtitles at some point, because it's one of the best Italian movies I have seen recently. It has a great cast with so many characters who are all connected in the end, it's funny but also sad and insightful, it's extremely moving and unusual, it's set in a series of different places (Paris, Italy, even New Zealand) and involves people speaking in Italian, English and French at points, and has great imagery and photography in it. I loved every second of it! Definitely worth seeing and new!
norwegianwood: Girl by the window (Default)
2009-07-20 01:33 pm
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Film Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince



Title:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Year: 2009
Directed by: David Yates
Seen on: 16 July 2009
Rating: ★★★★★
 
 
My thoughts: When I first came out of the cinema, I found myself wondering whether the director had actually read the book or not. There were bits where I was so disappointed, as they added scenes (like the burning of the Weasleys' house), they modified important moments (like the ending, which is supposed to be much darker!) and gave less relevance to some characters (like the whole story of Snape and of the Half-Blood Prince, and all the memories of Tom Riddle! And even Draco wasn't given that much importance somehow!) and too much to others (I mean... Ginny? I don't think they made her look that great in this film, and some things are too cheesy and not supposed to happen until the next book/film! Even the whole Ron/Hermione scene at the hospital is a bit too much...)... 

But then I also started thinking back about the film as a whole, disconnected from the books, and I have to say, apart from all that, i also found some bits I really liked. I love Bellatrix, Helena Bonham Carter is amazing! Also, Ron is at the centre of this film, and he owns it! He's such a great actor that the first half of the movie is all about him, and in some bits I couldn't help laughing out loud! It was the funniest out of all movies! Snape was also great, I love his voice and his pauses, he's such a good character and Alan Rickman is brilliant as always! I really liked Dumbledore in this film too, and the fact that they added a few scenes with Luna! She's great as well! :)

So yes, I wasn't expecting it to be like that, and it was a mixture between a comedy and a horror film, with changes of genre in between, but... I have decided to take it as something which is apart from the books, and if I think this way, I did like it a lot :)
 
Quotes: 

Ron Weasley: What do you think he sees in her?
Harry Potter: She is nice... intelligent... attractive.
Ron Weasley: Attractive?
Harry Potter: She has nice... skin
Ron Weasley: So you think he is going out with her because she has nice skin?
Harry Potter: It contributes.
Ron Weasley: Hermione has nice skin.
Harry Potter: I never took the time to notice.

Professor Minerva McGonagall: [to Harry, Ron, and Hermione] Why is it that, whenever anything happens, it's always you three?
Ron Weasley: I've been wondering that for six years, Professor.

Ron Weasley: How much are these?
Fred Weasley, George Weasley: 5 galleons.
Ron Weasley: How much for me?
Fred Weasley, George Weasley: 5 galleons.
Ron Weasley: I'm your brother!
Fred Weasley, George Weasley: 10 galleons.

Ron Weasley: It's beautiful, isn't it? The moon.
Harry Potter: Divine. Had ourselves a little late night snack, did we?
Ron Weasley: It was on your bed, the box, I just thought I'd try one.
Harry Potter: Or twenty.
Ron Weasley: I can't stop thinking about her, Harry.
Ron Weasley: Honestly, you know, I reckon she was starting to annoy you.
Ron Weasley: She could never annoy me. I think I love her.
Harry Potter: Oh... brilliant.
Ron Weasley: Do you think she knows I exist?
Harry Potter: Well, I'd bloody well hope so, she's been snogging you for three months.
Ron Weasley: Snogging? Who are you talking about?
Harry Potter: Who are you talking about?
Ron Weasley: Romilda, of course. Romilda Vane.
Harry Potter: Okay, very funny.
Ron Weasley: [throws the chocolates box at Harry]
Harry Potter: What was that for?
Ron Weasley: It's no joke! I'm in love with her!
Harry Potter: Alright, fine, you're in love with her! Have you ever actually met her?
Ron Weasley: No... Can you introduce me?

norwegianwood: Girl by the window (Default)
2009-07-20 09:59 am
Entry tags:

Book Review: The Time Traveler's Wife



Title:
The Time Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Read on: 16/07/09
Rating: ★★★★★

My thoughts: I have read so many reviews about this book that I just had to read it! At first I was very confused by the plot, as it keeps shifting back and forth in time and characters have different ages from chapter to chapter, with no specific order apparently at the start. After a while I started to get into the story, and I actually liked it! I wouldn't say it's my favourite book ever, but the idea behind it is very original, and the concept of shifting from time to time is fascinating. I like her approach to time traveling as well, which is very original, and I love that Henry often goes back to see himself as a child, and can't control where and when he will go. The ending is very sad, but also very important for his relationship with his daughter. It's hard to read a book which is completely original, and this one surprised me. It's wonderful that she had such a big success with her first attempt at writing, which makes me like it even more and wait for the film :)

Quotes: "I have a sudden glimpse of all the Christmases of my life lined up one after another, waitin to be gotten through, and despair floods me." (...) "But then I feel guilty for wanting to avoid the sadness; dead people need us to remember them, even if it eats us, even if all we can do is say I'm Sorry until it is as meaningless as air."

norwegianwood: (Stock-GirlButterfly)
2009-07-13 08:52 pm
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Book review: The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon



Title:
The Angel's Game
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Year: 2008 (UK 2009)
Read on: 06/07/09
Rating: ★★★★★

My thoughts: I have been waiting to read this book for a long time. I loved the Shadow of the Wind so much and I knew that this was set in the same sort of place, so when I went to Spain last summer and I saw it in Spanish I couldn't help myself and I bought it. Then I realized that it's not the Spanish that I knew, but it's the Barcelona dialect, which was impossible for me to read. So I sold that version and I had to wait till last month when it was finally released in English. I have to say that the book matched all my expectations, and went beyond that. Ruiz Zafon is a person I admire and respect immensely for the way he manages to write such interesting, dark, complicated stories that evolve around the most unusual 'heroes' and manage to evoke a wide variety of feelings and reactions, but also include ideas of the author, such as issues of identity, life and death, writing to leave something of yourself, the consequences of specific choices, desperation, expectations... And this book is, in a way, all about those 'great expectations' that the protagonist always remembers. It's funny, witty, dark, terrifying, intriguing and moving. Ruiz Zafon doesn't give us a happy and predictable story. He gives us characters that could be real people, that we can imagine and that we get attached to. He gives us a story that slowly develops and draws the reader into it. He gives us a series of wonderful quotes on life, purpose and the meaning of things, and some extremely moving moments whose images are so vivid in our eyes. He has this way of giving life to every single character that he creates, and providing them with history, purpose and reasons behind their actions, making us really care for every single one of them. It's a story about the supernatural in everyday lives and the consequences that a single gesture can have on a person and everyone around them. It's about good and evil, and it's a battle against the unknown and a history that seems to belong to the past. And of course, it's about Barcelona.

It's one of those books that I could read so many times, because it really speaks to me. In a way, I am almost jealous of the author because I wish I had written something like that. In another, I'm completely blown away by its atmosphere and by the perfect ending, which puts together real people and just the right amount of magic.
norwegianwood: (Disney-Enchanted)
2009-07-12 10:41 am
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Book Review: Stieg Larsson - Män som hatar kvinnor


Title: Män som hatar kvinnor
English Title: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
Year: 2005 (UK 2008)
Read on: 10/07/09
Rating: ★★★★★

My thoughts: I have to say, it took me a while to get into this book at first. It's a really long book and the author tends to provide the reader with a lot of details, some of which are not that important. Also, i'm not sure the Italian translation of this book really does it justice, as the narration seems a bit 'forced' at bits. But there is two things that made me really love this book: the characters and the brave choice of themes. Characters are unique, especially Lisbeth. I love the way the author doesn't give us her thoughts or details about who she is and what her history is until much later, when we already know most of the other characters. She is fascinating and very powerful, and her descriptions are intriguing, make us want to find out more about her an what she had to fight against. Mikael is also a very strong character, and the fact that we know from the start that he has been wrongly accused and condemned of a crime make us instantly like him. From the start of the novel, I couldn't wait for the two of them to meet. Also, I love that he is presented as someone who is able to make a decision and stick to it, no matter what. These are the two protagonists, but I found extremely important and interesting for the development of the plot a series of other people, starting from Erika and her weird relationship with Mikael, and then of course Henrik Vagner and his whole family and even DIrch Frode and Armanskji, who are not mentioned very often but are still very significant.
As for the themes, I love the idea of finding out the past/history of one family, and the confusion and revelations that are generated by this search. In this book, the Vagner family is turned inside out and a series of characters make strong appearences and lead to more revelations. It's a mystery novel but also one about identity and the reasons that move people to act in certain ways, the way they are connected to each other. The original title suggests that the book is about 'Men who hate women', and some passages are disturbing and revolting, as Larsson doesn't try to make them easier to read, but they are necessary. I think his choice of theme is very brave, especially coming from a man, who put himself in the position of women.
norwegianwood: (Japan-Geisha)
2009-05-29 11:40 am
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Book Review: Haruki Murakami, Birthday Stories

First of all, I have to point out that one of the stories in this book, Haruki Murakami's Birthday Girl, is available for download! I have uploaded it here, and I really hope you give it a try, because it's quite short so a very quick read, but it's really worth it! And now, on to the review!

Title: Birthday Stories
Author: Haruki Murakami
Year: 2002
Read on: 28/05/09
Rating: ★★★★☆

My thoughts: I've never really liked books that are collections of short stories, but this one will have to be the exception. As a start, it was great to have Murakami's introduction to every story, because it's not pretentious at all but it sort of gives a tone to the book and an idea on how to interpret each story, what to expect from it, and what is so special about it :) I have to say, I love the idea of having a collection of Birthday stories, because it's such a delicate subject. Everyone remembers most importan birhdays we've had, but still we all regard them in a different way. In general, we can end up not wanting to do anything, or organizing something big and then ended up being deluded because it didn't go as well as we thought, or having certain expectations in general. So this collection touches themes like expectations, dreams, future, past, and in general, ageing and getting old. I loved most stories, but my favourites will have to be these:

The Birthday Present by Andrea Lee: I don't know if I loved it so much because it was set in Italy and the author herself is so interesting, but I just loved the idea of it. It's apparently a very simple story, but it has so many layers and really manages to describe the author's way of seeing relationships. The very idea of the subject is amazing!

The Moor by Russell Banks: The perfect start to this collection. This story really moved me, and i will remember it for a long time :) The style is once again very simple and it represents everything I love about unexpected encounters :) Very good story!

The Birthday Cake by Daniel Lyons: This story is very short but has a great twist in the end! It's a great choice!

The Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami: Of course, my absolute favourite of the collection! I love the way he doesn't explain what the girl's wish was in the end and it starts from such an uneventful Birthday to end up being very different :) The ending is just brilliant, and it is a mixture of everyday routine and supernatural/magical events, all in only 10 pages. I love this man!