Being a cripple over the last couple of months has meant I've needed ways to entertain myself. And these are some of them:
Kate Miller-Heidke's album Little Eve. I bought this just before I left Australia (she's an Aussie chick) but only really started listening to it a few weeks ago and was very pleasantly surprised. This woman was trained as an opera singer and it comes through in her musicality, expressiveness and the way she tells her songs, yet they are really contemporary, quirky songs. She reminds me a bit of Regina Spektor but she never goes too far with the quirky factor. Almost every song is a winner, but my very favourites are "Make It Last", "Space They Cannot Touch", "Don't Let Go" and "Bored With Me". I especially love that in "Don't Let Go" she sings about friendship rather than romance - a neglected topic I think. I would recommend this album very highly and I give it five stars!
Flight of the Conchords. The first season played in NZ while I was away, so someone lent me the DVD when I got back and I have been thoroughly enjoying them. With typical lack of foresight or taste, TV NZ decided this group wouldn't take off, so they went to the States, and now have taken NZ by storm. I have been enjoying them so much, as have my sisters and brothers who literally roll around in hysterics when they hear songs like Business Time. Other favourites of mine are I'm Not Crying, Sally I Love You, and anyone who did high school French will love Foux de Fa Fa.
Mister Pip, by Lloyd Jones. This novel won the Commonwealth Writer's Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize but even before then I have been wanting to read it but for some reason never got around to it. It is set in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea in the early nineties, when there was a violent conflict I had never heard of before. The story is about how the only white man in the village takes over the school when the violence starts, and reads the children Dickens' Great Expectations. It's a wonderful novel about the power of a story, narrated by a child, and is a moving and challenging read. I am very happy with my purchase, and equally happy that the author is a Kiwi. Hooray!
I have been wanting to see the German movie Sophie Scholl - The Final Days for ages now and finally watched it yesterday. It is inspired by a real person, one of the few heroines of Nazi Germany and one of my role models - a 21-year-old student who dared to speak out against the Nazi regime and the war. It is beautifully made. Sophie Scholl is played by Julia Jentsch, who is superb, and the rest of the cast is also very strong. Overall, though, it is a movie about a real event, and the real event is so compelling that that is the overwhelming strength of the film. A few years ago a film was made about the final days of Adolf Hitler. I'm not sure if it was intended, but this film about the final days of a brave and true heroine contrasts so emphatically with Hitler in his final days that I can't help but be moved.
Op Shop's album Second Hand Planet. This is a Kiwi band who have been quite popular here for a while now. The first single off this album "Maybe" was one of those songs that was played over and over on the radio so that I hated it. After the initial craze was over, though, I actually started to quite like it, especially when another single came out which is called "One Day". They are a little bit in the same style as Coldplay or Keane or U2, vaguely. I particularly like the songs off the album called "Noah" and "Nothing to Hide" but I have to admit that the rest of the songs are a bit of a disappointment. There's not much variation from the "Maybe" model except for the two single slowish songs ("Nothing to Hide" and "One Day"). So - an okay album. But not great.
Anne of Green Gables - The Sequel. I got this out on DVD on a whim, remembering how I'd enjoyed the Anne of Green Gables movies and books when I was younger, and found myself loving it all over again. I know everyone says this but I love Gilbert Blythe. And Anne is so cool. Now I'm going to have to read all the books again! In a way it's so nice to be able to have time to fill with things like this that are there for pure enjoyment.
So - what has everyone else been getting into lately?