2017 Movie Murder On The Orient Express

I love Agatha Christie and I love Poirot. And my favourite of all the Poirot novels is ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. I will defend this story to the death and I will be incredibly pedantic about any adaptation.

And look what Kenneth Branagh has just delivered!

My thoughts…

  • It looks like an mystery/thriller movie. Which is all wrong, in my humble opinion, because this story is about the fine line between what is right and what is the truth. But trailer’s do lie so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Everyone is in this movie. Literally everyone. But because this plot had a large supporting cast, all of whom play a key role in the story, that’s to be expected. The 1974 movie had an all-star cast too (but I’m pretty pissed that Johnny Depp is still getting amazing acting gigs despite the wife-beating allegations.)
  • There was some attempt at diversity by including a POC but it’s not enough to offset the crime of including Johnny Depp.
  • I’m glad Kenneth Branagh didn’t attempt to replicate the looks of David Suchet’s Poirot. He’s done his own interpretation of the infamous moustache but besides that I didn’t see enough of him to really get a sense of what kind of Poirot.
  • The scenery is stunning I’ll give them that.
  • And I need to know the song

I’ve seen the 1974 movie which I know was a classic with a thousand Oscar nominations but I didn’t like Albert Finney’s interpretation of Poirot. I thought he was too hammy and he’s no David Suchet. I did enjoy Lauren Bacall but she’s always a stand out.

I’m currently re-watching Suchet’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and let me just say, Branagh’s got a hard act to follow, but I’ll be glad if the newest adaptation gets more fans and exposes a new generation to Agatha Christie.

Reading Is Cheap But Books Are An Expensive Hobby

Reading is cheap. 

You borrow from the library where it’s free, or you simply sell any book that you’ve already read because what are the chances of you re-reading it again, and that way you can live that minimalist life that Marie Kondo seems to love?

But books are expensive.

To make books your hobby, it’s not just the reading. You want to own, collect, display, interact. Reading isn’t enough.

Book fans want to own it. We hoard them on our shelves. We love that new book smell and creating the spine ourselves.

We probably want specific editions too. If there’s an edition with a revised afterward, we are all over that bad boy. If there’s a limited edition released on the anniversary of the author’s birthday with a fancy cover, it’s going straight onto our wishlist. If there’s a hardcover collector’s edition, we covet it like we don’t already own a copy anyway.

And it’s not just the books we buy. We are an insatiable market for all the pop culture merchandise like little figurines and plushies. Which we then artfully arrange on our shelves because #bookstagram is a hashtag that we flock to.

Book fans also want to go to author signings and writer talks. We wait in line for authors to sign newly purchased books that we just had to buy at the festival because hey, it’s part of the experience. We need to take a picture with them too. And writer events aren’t free; the ticket is $20 (and if you bought online, the processing fee is $5 for some unfathomable reason) and lunch is another $20 and the book was probably $35, so all up, just under $100. For one event.

And even though reading is a solitary activity, books are a community event. We need to discuss about our feelings. We join book clubs. We write reviews. We may even start up blogs dedicated to books. And this costs money. If you upgrade your blog, it’ll cost you. If you join a book club, hosting the meeting will cost you in food expenses. If you want to meet up with other book aficionados anywhere, the travel expenses will get you.

Reading doesn’t cost a cent, but if you want to immerse yourself in the whole experience, books are a hobby that drains your wallet.

Sydney Writer’s Festival: John Safran’s ‘Depends What You Mean By Extremist’

The Sydney Writer’s Festival is on right now! 

It was hard deciding which talk to attend; we always complain when there aren’t sufficient options to cater for everyone but I always seem to get overwhelmed when there are too many options. I was flip flopping between Roxanne Gay or John Safran but in the end decided on Safran since I’ve actually read one of his books ‘Murder in Mississippi’.

(I even brought my copy of ‘Murder in Mississippi’ for him to sign, which, by the way, is hilarious I highly recommend it, it’s like a modern day ‘In Cold Blood’.)

It was a beautiful day, it’s Sydney weather at it’s finest (you can even see the Harbour Brdige from behind, so this cannot be more Australian). 

The atmosphere was buzzing and the event was well organised, so for someone that’s as anxious and Type A about punctuality as I am, it made my day way more relaxing.

(Also I’m not going to lie, the demographic was very white, very middle-class and very middle-aged so I felt like a child playing dress-up, but you know what, I enjoy these things and I have every right to be here too.)

The bookstore Gleebooks even partnered up with SWF to be the sole provider of ny books discussed at his festival because that’s how you do business damnit. 

And because there is no point attending a book discussion without actual ownership of the book talk, I succumbed to the event atmosphere and purchased my own copy of ‘Depends What You Mean By Extremist’.

It cost me $35 and because I live off second-hand books, that is a lot of money, but it’s part of the experience. Just like you go to a concert and buy an overpriced t-shirt, you go to a writer’s event and buy their book brand-spanking new.

But what about the actual talk you ask?

Safran rambles before he gets to his point and there were so many times that I wanted him to dig deeper because I felt he was just skimming the surface. He does exactly what I do which is give people him and his dog’s entire life story instead of just answering the question but the topic itself is probably too difficult to to be answered nicely in a few sentences without some context.

I also wanted him to make some neat succinct remark about the nature of extremism and the people it attracts. But the topic is too complex to be wrapped up neatly and even Safran points out that this book is just him recounting his adventure with extremism, it’s hardly an academic essay and he’s just had to accept the cognitive dissonance in the rationale of extremists.

The talk was delivered in typical Safran humour; I liked that he was offended when one of the extremists he interviewed had been arrested by the police and he wasn’t interrogated as a key witness (“The newspaper said the police collect over a hundred statements, which means I didn’t even make the Top 100, even though I loved with the man for a year!” Safran indignantly points out to a laughing audience).

I wish I’d come pre-prepared with some questions but I’ll know for next time. I wonder if I would have had a different experience had I read his book beforehand, like would I have found the talk boring because Safran just reiterates everything he’s written about or would I have been able to get more involved. 

But overall, I loved the event and I’m so glad I dragged myself out of bed for this, I’ll definitely be going again next year!

Sick But Not Reading.

I’ve been stuck at home after being discharged from the hospital for a week and I am so bored.

It’s nothing too serious, but serious enough that I couldn’t go to work for a week and a half, or risk another trip back to the hospital.

You’d think I would have used that time to read, write more, and just be more productive in general, but you know what, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was too depressed and restless to do anything else other than to fidget and feel sorry for myself, which I utterly loathed. 

I hated being like that. I like to feel some kind of control over my fate and my own choices. And I hated the ridiculous state that I’d gotten myself into, which was to constantly feel sorry for myself.

If I hadn’t been bedridden, I’ve been nervously pacing around my house, and if I hadn’t been nervously pacing around the house, I’ve been crying my eyes out. Crying over my job prospects, my health, the pain I’ve caused my own family, and just getting upset at all the closed doors that I kept seeing in my future.

The one good thing that has come out of this health scare is that it’s forced me to reconsider what I really want from my life, as opposed to just ambling about and seeing what life threw at me. I can’t just accept things the way it is and I’m prepared to fight for the things I want.

Just to be clear, I’m still not sure what I want but I feel like I’ve taken some control back over my life, even if it’s just accepting that some things need to change.

I’m a lot calmer and happier than I was last week. I’m still uncertain about my future but there’s less trepidation and more excitement.