Showing posts with label Britain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Britain. Show all posts

31 July 2012

Film review: A Good year (2006), by Ridely Scott, ***


Director Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe--who first worked together on the Academy Award-winning Gladiator--are reunited in this romantic film, which is based on Peter Mayle's book A Year in Provence.

Crowe plays Max, a workaholic London bonds trader who doesn't know the meaning of vacation. When his uncle dies, leaving him a picturesque estate in the south of France, Max views it as an opportunity to cash in the vinery and pocket the profits. The film is reminiscent of Diane Lane's Under the Tuscan Sun in the way the scenery plays as much of a role in the film as its characters. The lush village and streaming sunlight portray Provence as an idyllic, magical place. Even Max falls under its spell. While not a particularly likeable character, especially in the early part of the film, Max also isn't a bad guy. Nothing that happens comes as much of a surprise. Still, while the film doesn't fully utilise Crowe's range of skills, the actor is charming in his role and A Good Year provides fine viewing. --Jae-Ha Kim for Amazon


A feel good movie to take you to Provence for a couple of hours. Crowe is not at his best, whereas Marion Cotillard is the real star.

The moral of the story is one I share: work to live, don't live to work. The setting (ruthless London city trader sees the light and a pretty woman and turns good) is a bit trite. But then again the point the movie is trying to make is a simple one. But a strong one.

But this is also a movie about wine. You learn a bit about French wine making specifically, though American wines enter the fray when Max's cousin comes into the picture. A couple of references are made to the France-California rivalry: I would recommend watching the film "Bottle Shock" together with this one. This movie was made the same year as the rematch of the  Judgement of Paris, again won by California over France.

The ending is predictable, sort of, but with a fun twist...

11 July 2001

Book review: The Slave Trade, 1440-1870 (1999), by Hugh Thomas, *****


After many years of research, Thomas portrays, in a balanced account, the complete history of the slave trade. The Atlantic slave trade was one of the largest and most elaborate maritime and commercial ventures. Between 1492 and about 1870, ten million or more black slaves were carried from Africa to one port or another of the Americas.

In this wide-ranging book, Hugh Thomas follows the development of this massive shift of human lives across the centuries until the slave trade's abolition in the late nineteenth century.

Beginning with the first Portuguese slaving expeditions, he describes and analyzes the rise of one of the largest and most elaborate maritime and commercial ventures in all of history. Between 1492 and 1870, approximately eleven million black slaves were carried from Africa to the Americas to work on plantations, in mines, or as servants in houses. The Slave Trade is alive with villains and heroes and illuminated by eyewitness accounts. Hugh Thomas's achievement is not only to present a compelling history of the time but to answer as well such controversial questions as who the traders were, the extent of the profits, and why so many African rulers and peoples willingly collaborated. Thomas also movingly describes such accounts as are available from the slaves themselves.