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All reviews - Movies (4) - Books (3)

Healing Wounds

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 28 June 2010 03:52 (A review of Der Engel schwieg)

W.G. Sebald once said that this is the only novel that somehow captures the horror of the rubble in Germany in the late 40s. Perhaps it was too horrific for the German audience immediately after the war. Although written in 1949-50, the book was not published until 1992.
When it did finally find its ways into bookstores, its reviews were mixed. This novel 'of the lost generation', as Böll said himself, is not, like other works by the same author, widely read in German lessons. Perhaps, teachers struggle to point out anything educational about it. It does not try to be anything more, or less, than an account of the horrors that befell Germany and its people after the war was officially over and the altruistic charity that was needed to help the protagonist, Hans Schnitzler, towards any sort of future. "Talking is silver, silence is gold", a widely used German proverb, describes well Böll's style of writing. The absence of language is often more striking than its presence.
German suffering was often not mentioned or seen as a just punishment. The wounds of the people had to heal in silence, and Böll's novel really does encorporate this sentiment.

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A passionate appeal that has its flaws

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 28 June 2010 03:22 (A review of The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering)

Yann Martel recently claimed in the Guardian that ‘you no more own a historical event than people own their language. The English don't own the English language; the Jews don't own the Holocaust; the French don't own Verdun. It's good to have other perspectives. If you claim to own an event, you may suffer from group think’. Finkelstein points out, in a well-supported argument, the flaws of the organised American-Jewish elite and its hand in the misappropriation of money intended as support for survivors of the shoah. 'The Holocaust', he says, is an invention under which many people have accumulated monies for personal gain. He exposes the sometimes obscure machinations of major organizations such as the WJC (World Jewish Congress). For informed readers, his arguments provide enough scope not to lead to prejudice and false accusations. It becomes clear that Finkelstein is not a friend of Elie Wiesel or Stuart Eizenstat.
A major flaw of the book, perhaps, is Finkelstein's own conviction to have single-handedly exposed, and thus in a way own, the Holocaust Industry.
Nearly 70 years after the end of the Second World War, hardly anyone is left to make justified claims in connection with the shoah. In this passionate appeal to put an end to the corruption, Finkelstein is justified and should be heard by as many people as possible.

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Mr Weston's (not so) Good Wine

Posted : 9 years, 8 months ago on 6 May 2009 09:40 (A review of Mr Weston's Good Wine)

The idea is excellent and I was expecting more from this novel.
I found it hard to stick with Powys's style of writing, which is quick-paced, uncoherent and fragmented. This lead to me boredly skipping some passages. I couldn't find anything to relish on. However, the points that are raised about religion and specifically the ending are worth thinking about. It is impossible to identify with one of the characters and to care what happens to them. Like in wine tasting, all one gets is a little sip of each. I think this would have worked better as a short story.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas review

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 4 October 2008 06:37 (A review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas)

The fantastically shocking final scene of the film left me sobbing and thinking about the horrors of the Shoah. Yet, the debates about the authenicity of it are justified. Especially the beginning seems very British - although set in Germany. Furthermore, Auschwitz seems strangely small in the film. There are now towers from which German soldiers supervise every inch of it. It is questionable whether or not it would have been possible for the two boys to make friends through the fence.
The film is carried by the incredible performances of two little boys. And between all the films that deal with the Holocaust, this one stands out.

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Marie Antoinette review

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 12 September 2008 09:58 (A review of Marie Antoinette)

Incredibly similar to 'The Duchess' with Keira Knightley. Yet without someone who is as good an actor as Joseph Fiennes. Kirsten Dunst is not very convincing as Austrian-French royalty. The film does not have much to say and tries to compensate for it with lavish, colourful scenes of palace life. I kept waiting for something meaningful to happen - but, sadly, it didn't.

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More for the eye than for the mind

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 11 September 2008 10:43 (A review of The Duchess (2008))

Knightley's performance lacked in depth as, frankly, the whole film did.
It did not have something to say at all. In this, it was reminiscent of
Kirsten Dunst's 'Marie Antoinette'. Both women, however, do their reputation as 'empresses of Fashion' full justice. The costumes were actually the most interesting thing about the film. Waiting for Knightley's next appearance to see what she might be wearing was quite enjoyable. The emotions (arising from the horrible things that happened to the duchess) were not believable and it was hard to find them touching. A woman who has her child taken away from her would have normally made me sob, if the actress was only able to carry off tragedy. Nevertheless, I had a good night out in cinema.

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Shadowlands review

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 7 September 2008 05:17 (A review of Shadowlands)

This is a beautiful, emotional film. Exceptional performances from both Hopkins and Winger. Although the relationship between Lewis and Joy is romanticised in various aspects, it remains believable.
Their conversations are witty and memorable. As good as a film can get!

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