Category: Parenting


THE SAVAGES written & directed by Tamara Jenkins (USA, 2007)
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Though this movie received universal acclaim upon release, there were the inevitable naysayers. It’s interesting to read some of the negative comments. One says the story is depressing because it’s too much like real life while another says he was disappointed because he had expected a comedy.

I confess that, having glanced at the DVD cover image, I thought it would be more comic than dramatic. There are some amusing scenes but nothing to laugh out loud about. This is not so surprising since it touches upon a number heavy themes including sibling rivalry, mid-life crises, parental abuse and, most serious of all, dementia and dying. Not much cause for hilarity in this list!

It stars Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Wendy and Jon Savage. Both are single with messed up personal relationships, both have aspirations as writers and both are fundamentally unfulfilled. Continue reading

ROOM directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Canada/Ireland/UK, 2015)

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Joy and Jack look for light in the darkness.

Room is the story of survival. The main victim is Joy Newcombe ( which evokes the idea that he is the devil in human form. While in captivity he has fathered Joy’s 5-year-old son Jack and you imagine that sexual abuse is the prime motive for his actions.

There is always a morbid curiosity to uncover the dark secrets that drive this kind of depraved behavior. A weakness of the movie is that we learn so little about this man’s background or what happens to him after being apprehended. We hear of, but never really see any physical abuse and only the sound of a creaking bed tells us that he is repeatedly raping her. Continue reading

THE EDEN EXPRESS by Mark Vonnegut (Seven Stories Press, 2002 – originally published 1975)

I seriously doubt that this ‘memoir of insanity’ would have found a publisher so easily if the author did not also happen to be the son of Kurt Vonnegut. Much of its interest derives from this blood connection rather than any obvious literary merits.

Since Vonnegut Sr wrote so well about a world precariously balanced on the brink of universal madness, his son’s schizophrenia might be expected to connect in some ways with the surrealism and cynicism of the Vonnegut mindset. If this is what you hope to find from the book, you will be sorely disappointed. Continue reading

Pleased to see that How To Suck At Your Religion is one of the most popular cartoon strips at the ever reliable Oatmeal. I love this part:

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THE CHILDREN ACT by Ian McEwan (Vintage Books, 2014)

With this novella’s strong focus on the burden of mortality and the melancholy reflections on ‘what-ifs’ from the past, it seems to me that, not for the first time, Ian McEwan takes a lot of inspiration from James Joyce’s Dubliners and ‘from The Dead’ in particular.

The delicate line that divides life and death centres on the fictional case of a 17-year-old boy, Adam Henry, who will almost certainly die unless he receives a blood transfusion. Since he has not quite reached the age of consent, the decision over his treatment rests with his parents who are both Jehovah’s Witnesses.

McEwan is an Atheist but he is interested in the nature of belief so is not about to score cheap points criticising the rigid application of religious principles. The opposition to transfusions is therefore presented as a serious moral dilemma rather than merely the result of blinkered thinking.

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