Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WWW Wednesday and Library Loot, March 22th

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.
Description: WWW Wednesday is a weekly event where you share answers Below questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?
I am currently reading 3 books:

1. I am still listening to A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.
2. I have just started a short story collection A Slow Boat to China by Haruki Murakami. I am not sure if this collection was translated into English, at least I could not find the English version. I like the unique narration of Murakami and deliberate simplicity of the stories.
3. I have just started a short story collection A Sportsman's Sketches by Ivan Turgenev.
I have finished 3 books:
1. Last week I finished The Unmade Bed by Françoise Sagan.
2. I have finished novella Asya by Ivan Turgenev.
3. I have just finished a graphic novel The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

I am planning to start with the following books:
1. Dogheaders by Alexey Mavrin
2. The Haunted Life by Jack Kerouac
3. The Graveyard Book Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman.

Hosted by: The Captive Reader and Silly Little Mischief
Description: Library Loot is a weekly event that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

I got 3 books from the library this week:
1. The Graveyard Book Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman. I was advised this book by a homeless looking guy, who saw that I was struggling with the graphic novel choice.
2. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
3. A Russian horror novel which I loosely translate as Dogheaders by Alexey Mavrin. I do not believe it is translated in English, but the book has some recognition in Russian book tube, so I will see what it has to propose.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Theatre: Run For Your Wife

Author: Ray Cooney
Original title: Run For Your Wife: A Comedy
Theatrical title: Běž za svou ženou
Language: Czech
Director: Václav Luks, Jan Nosek Novák
Genres: Comedy
Cast: Andrea Bulišová, Barbora Mottlová, Jiří Racek, Václav Čížkovský
Time: 110m
Theater: Branické divadlo, Prague 

       A taxi driver gets away with having two wives in different areas of London because of his irregular working schedule. Complication is piled upon complication as the cabby tries to keep his double life from exploding.

About the author:
      Raymond George Alfred Cooney (born 30 May 1932) is an English playwright and actor. His biggest success, Run for Your Wife, ran for nine years in London's West End and is its longest-running comedy. He has had 17 of his plays performed there.

About the play:
     A London taxi driver has two wives, not because he's any great lady-killer, but because he didn't want to upset the second woman who pursued him. It all works until he gets in a small accident, but then the police come around and he just can't get his story straight. That's pretty much the story on this funny little farce.

About the cast:
        Unfortunately, I must say that I enjoyed a performance of only 3 out of 8 actors. Those are Václav Čížkovský (playing Stanley Gardner), Jiří Racek (playing John Brown) and (playing Mary Brown)
       As though it was quite decent, the performance of Mr and Mrd Brown did not impress too much. I liked how they put emotions and they seemed quite natural, but still something was amiss, and that prevented me from enjoying their performance. Václav Čížkovský's execution, on the other hand, was impeccable. I was not able to recall any scene with him, where I would not enjoy his act, he skillfully masters his body and facial movement as well as his voice.
       Two of the actors: Barbora Mottlová (playing Barbara Brown) and Martin Hartl (playing a reporter) irritated me a great deal. Especially the 5 second appearance of a report was so badly done, that I am still annoyed. It is surprising that such a small role can influence the perception of the play all together.

Final thoughts:
     Overall, I find the comedy as a whole was a well done play that kept the attention of the audience at all times. I didn’t find any part of the play boring or annoying. I think it had great humor and it was nice humor with less of the door slamming and physical comedy than often goes with farce.
      I liked the way how the play escalated from an uncomfortable situation to a complete nonsense with so many people involved and with so many cooked up explanations that you try to do your best to not to mix anything and not to join in the common madness on the stage. One hilarious predicament after another.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Post #8, Rainy Weekend

The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday fun, see the rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Last Week on the Blog

The week: 13.03 - 19.03
This Week on the Blog

The week: 20.03 - 26.03
  • On Monday, 20th I publish my Bond Project overview
  • On Tuesday, 21st I review the play Run For Your Wife
  • On Wednesday, 22th I publish WWW Wednesday and Library Loot
  • On Thursday, 23th I review 2 novellas by Ivan Turgenev (Asya; First Love)
  • On Friday, 24th I review the movie The Passengers
New Comers on my Shelf

     I came across this book accidentally and I liked the blurb. Since I saw Sweet Bean movie where the topic of leprosy in Japan was raised up, I got quite emotional about it. And here there is a book about the journey to leper colonies in Siberia, and I wanted to read a book to see how the disease was treated in a different country.

Outside the Blog

     Today on Sunday is the last chases of 2016–17 Biathlon World Cup. I enjoyed following it throughout the winter and a bit sad that it is over. I am not sure anything exciting will be in March and April, so I hope I will have more time for books.
     I have finished the 3rd episode of BBC War and Peace and must admit that I start gradually love it. I hope I will write the review of my first reaction to the 1st episode, which was quite strong, and as soon as I finish the series review will defensively follow. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Theatre: Moment Of Weakness

Author: Donald Churchill
Original title: Moment Of Weakness
Theatrical title: Chvilková slabost
Language: Czech
Director: Petr Hruška
Genres: Comedy
Cast: Petra Špalková, David Matásek, Sandra Černodrinská
Time: 120m
Premiere: 23. 9. 2016
Theater: Divadlo v Rytířské, Prague

     This theatrical experience started quite funny. We arrived in time and went in to take our seats, when we found out that there were sitting two nicely dressed elderly ladies. The ladies provided their tickets, which clearly indicated our seats. I started to doubt my sanity and checked our tickets - the same seats. Overbooking can happen with airlines, but with the theater... So we rushed for the assistance of the theater staff. Three minutes later the stuff was checking ladies' and our tickets. The poor ladies have tickets for the same seats, same performance, same day of the weak, same date... but in the month time!! I felt so sorry for them, so much preparation and expectation and just to get to know that you are welcome to enjoy the play, but in a month from now. I think the stuff exchanged the ripped tickets and let them go. I felt a bit upset, I would try to find some spot for them, since they arrived and had the tickets, but what I know about theater policies))

Audrey and Tony are a middle aged ex-couple meeting at their old weekend retreat to decide who gets what. Tony is re-married and expecting a baby with his new wife, while Audrey is planning to re-marry as well. Are these two exes really over each other?

About the author:
    Donald Churchill was an English actor and playwright. He appeared in many film and television productions over a 35-year period and wrote several TV scripts.
     His films included Barnacle Bill (1957), The Captain's Table (1959), Victim (1961), The Wild Affair (1964), Zeppelin (1971), The First Great Train Robbery (1979), Charlie Muffin (1979) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983) as Doctor Watson. On television he starred in Spooner's Patch (1980-1982) and appeared in Stanley and the Women (1991) and C.A.T.S. Eyes. His plays include Mixed Feelings, The Decorator, and Moments of Weakness.

About the play:
This is a comedy about modern marriage. Audrey and Tony are a middle aged ex-couple meeting at their old weekend retreat to decide who gets what. Tony is eager to get this matter cleared up. He has re-married and his new wife is pregnant. She has come along for the ride, but goes into labor and is rushed to the local hospital. Tony and Audrey are not able to say two words to each other without mutual accusations and abuse. But still he loves her and she still loves him. The question is will they ever admit this to each other and to themselves?

Family love: It happens when two people just do not have what to say to each other after 20 years of marriage and fall apart. But sometimes they are just drifting apart my small misunderstanding, faults, impatience. They forget how to listen and feel compassion, they start demanding and take family well-being for granted, until the unexpected happens: one of them has enough and explodes and then the whole world falls apart, and not even the feeling of happiness, mutual love and blissful memories can repair the crack. Emotions are rising, passions are overwhelming, marriages are falling apart.
What can be more important then to avoid this situation in a loving family. To look after each other and listen to each other.

Final thoughts:
I truly enjoyed the play and the performance of the actors. I left with a happy feeling, not empty headed as usually after a comedy, but with the nice and enriching feeling of time spent with quality.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

WWW Wednesday and Library Loot, March 15th

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.
Description: WWW Wednesday is a weekly event where you share answers Below questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading 3 books:
1. I am still on the book The Unmade Bed by Françoise Sagan. It is quite a nice read with a lot of psychological reflection.
2. I am still listening to A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler and done with half of a book. I like the story development and the style of the author, but I am quite taken back by the tragedy of the family which surfaces from this easy read.
3. I have just started novella Asya by Ivan Turgenev.

I have just finished 2 books:
1. Last week I finally finished Shark's Fin And Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop, which I was reading more than half a year! Terribly slow read for me.
2. I have just finished novella First Love by Ivan Turgenev.

I am planning to start with the following books:
1. A Sportsman's Sketches (short stories) by Ivan Turgenev
2. The Haunted Life by Jack Kerouac 

Hosted by: The Captive Reader and Silly Little Mischief
Description: Library Loot is a weekly event that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

My recent books from the library are:
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
The Haunted Life by Jack Kerouac

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Shark's Fin And Sichuan Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop

Author: Fuchsia Dunlop
Original title: Shark's Fin And Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China
Pages: 554
Edition Language: Russian
Series: no

Format: Kindle Edition
Genres: Cookbook, Travel Writing 

English woman moves to Chengdu, China for post-graduate study only to end up as the first Westerner to train at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. The author’s following 14 years of Chinese culinary exploration is recounted in this memoir/travelogue/cookbook. This is a very informative book about Chinese food culture and particularly Sichuanese cuisine.

My thoughts:
      For no reason this book took me ages to finish: a memoir about China written by a western woman. In the end, I was so happy finally to finish it. Dunlop really knows Chinese cuisine and culture, but in her book she does not say much about herself. When she spent all that time in China, was she sick? Did she experience homesickness? She tells us she had a tough time in the beginning of her year in Chengdu, but then stops telling about anything apart from her culinary experience. I find the first parts of the book, which are mostly a memoir of her early experiences in Chengdu in the 90s is interesting and inspiring, while the second part of the book was less gripping.
    The author's love of food really comes forward, and it goes without saying that this is not a book you should read if you are hungry. It's also not a book you should read if you have a soft sport for animals and you are quite conventional in food.
 A well balanced Sichuan meal ‘will awaken your tastebuds through the judicious use of chilli oil, stimulate your tongue and lips with tingly Sichuan pepper, caress your palate with a spicy sweetness, electrify you with dry fried chillies, soothe you with sweet and sour, calm your spirits with a tonic soup’.

   The only thing I can say for sure I did not like are the recipes. First of all, I do not find a mix of memoir and cookbook very enchanting idea. Here I am reading about delicious meal in a train and the next page is actually the recipe. So what I am supposed to do with it in the middle of nowhere? Next thing is cooking itself: to cook Sichuanese dish you need Sichuanese spices and ingredients. I know you can find anything in the shops now, but really anything? So I find this part of Dunlop’ writing is useless and absolutely out of place.
      Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Firstly, I liked Dunlop’s style of writing. Secondly, I think she does a great job of explaining some things about Chinese food that is not immediately obvious to many Westerners. And finally, she does do some interesting exploration of some sensitive political areas as the legacy of Mao and situation in removed regions; as well as spiritual matters:  believes, habits, superstitions. This book let me know the Chinese culture more, even though it is only about ther Sichuan region and through the taste and smell perspective

Monday, March 13, 2017

Movie: John Wick: Chapter 2| Moana

Name: John Wick: Chapter 2
Year: 2017
Director: Chad Stahelski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane
Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller
Language: English
Country: USA
Time: 122

Outline of the movie:
After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.

My thoughts:
            I do not have much to say about the movie… unfortunately. It was much weaker than the first chapter and was lacking common logic. First of all, I am so sick of actors not being able to say a single phrase in a foreign language. When the budget of the movie is $40,000,000 could you please, please find a native speaking person, who at least will tell you if what you are mumbling does not make sense at all! This looks so unprofessional. If your actors are so dumb and not able to articulate 2 words in Italian or Russian, just cut their voices and make the phrase up on the computer! In today's era of technology I am spending 2 minutes in the movie trying to put the random sounds coming from the character's mouth in a sensible sentence!
          But on the whole I cannot complain; the movie delivers everything it promises: beautiful settings, style and a lot of killing. Two scenes I really appreciate: one with the sommelier and the other with the tailor, nice dialogues in addition to the endless row of killings. On the other hand, I totally did not understand and not appreciate Laurence Fishburne's character in the movie: such a great actor in such a meaningless scene.
Name: Moana
Year: 2016
Director:  Ron Clements, Don Hall
Cast: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Language: English
Country: USA
Time: 10 
Outline of the movie:
    Moana Waialiki is a sea voyaging enthusiast and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators. When her island's fishermen can't catch any fish and the crops fail, she learns that the demigod Maui caused the blight by stealing the heart of the goddess, Te Fiti. The only way to heal the island is to persuade Maui to return Te Fiti's heart.
My thoughts:
      What a nice movie! The visuals in this movie are so gorgeous! But, besides the visuals there is such a heart and imagination and creativity to it. Moana is such a likable, smart, and relatable person. The voice work for Moana is so sweet and so good. The chemistry between Moana and Maui is so great and so natural, and I appreciate that there is no romance in it. The songs in this movie were too much for me, but some were charming, catchy and fun, especially "You are Welcome".
       I liked the novelty of the settings and plot. The film is based on stories from Polynesian mythology, which is quite interesting to get to know even in the format of the animated movie.