Movie review: Joy (2015)

The recently-released movie, Joy, is the third collaboration between director David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Loosely based on truth, it tells the story of Joy Mangano, a struggling single mother who became an entrepreneur and founded a business empire worth millions of dollars.

Sounds glamorous? When I first heard about this movie, I had no idea who Joy Mangano was or what this invention, now worth so much, entailed. The trailer doesn’t give anything away, but on closer inspection it turns out that Mangano achieved her wealth by inventing….a self-wringing mop.

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Joy Williams — Venus

The journey that led to the release of Joy Williams’s new album, Venus, was an eventful one, marked by the separation of The Civil Wars. The four-time Grammy award-winning duo, comprised of Joy Williams and John Paul White, split in 2012 after citing “irreconcilable differences”.

In recent interviews about the experiences which gave rise to the songs that we hear on Venus, Joy talks candidly about the personal challenges and sadnesses in her life over the past few years, from losing her father to Stage 4 cancer to coping with troubles in her marriage and adjusting to becoming a new mother. In this detailed song-by-song look at the album, Joy discusses the inspiration and the writing process behind each song.

When I heard the first single, Woman (Oh Mama), from Joy’s new album, it wasn’t what I expected. As a Civil Wars fan, I thought that their Americana country/folk influence would feed into Venus. However, Joy is venturing into new territory with her solo album: The Guardian describes it as “grownup pop”.

As a listener, you sense that Joy has done a lot of work, personally and professionally, to move into a different space. This has made her music stronger and although Venus has been described as “pop”, the eleven tracks on the newly released album are not mindless pop tunes: they are songs with lyrics about pain, letting go and having the courage to work through change.

Joy’s voice has extraordinary strength and beauty and Venus encompasses a range of genres, from the upbeat tribal sound of Woman (Oh Mama) to the quieter piano melody of What a Good Woman Does. “Hear me/I haven’t lost my voice without you near me,” Joy sings in the latter track, which clearly refers to The Civil Wars parting ways.

Joy certainly hasn’t lost her voice! Venus is an exciting new musical direction for her, with powerful and inspirational lyrics sung by a stunning voice.

Venus is out now. You can find it at Amazon and other music sellers.

Amazon US: VENUS

Amazon UK: Venus

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase on Amazon via one of the links above, a small percentage will go toward my graduate school fund. This doesn’t cost you anything.

To Rome With Love – movie review


To Rome With Love trailer linked from YouTube. No copyright infringement intended.

To Rome With Love (2012), directed by Woody Allen and starring Woody Allen, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin, is a romantic comedy which is filmed and set in Rome. But you probably guessed that from merely reading the title. So, what makes it different from all those other rom-coms out there? Instead of focusing on just two characters like many rom-coms do, this movie involves the viewer in the lives of various people. Some are American tourists and others are Italians, resident in Rome. This means that there is plenty to keep the viewer engaged as we flit from one set of characters to another and then to another. There are plenty of amusing scenes, misunderstandings and humorous predicaments, including a farcical storyline which satirically pokes fun at the nature of fame. It’s not an outstanding movie but it is very funny and has a touch of that Woody Allen uniqueness that makes the film really worth watching.

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This weekend I look forward to watching Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012), based on the novel by Julia Strachey, which was published in 1932.


Cheerful Weather for the Wedding trailer linked from YouTube. No copyright infringement intended.

I enjoy costume dramas because they give the viewer a window into another world, one that is so different to our modern lives and yet so similar. Etiquette, manners, social conventions and fashions are far removed from the way we live today but at the core of it, the events and occurrences of human lives remain the same.

Do you enjoy historical dramas? What movies will you be watching this weekend? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

News for fans of The Hunger Games

There’s a lot of excitement going on in the world of Hunger Games fans (of which I am one) at the moment. The first full-length trailer for Catching Fire was released yesterday at the MTV Movie Awards! I don’t know about you but if you’re a fan, I’m sure this trailer has more than whetted your appetite for the movie. Let me know your thoughts on the trailer by leaving a comment below.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire release date – November 22, 2013 (I am so impatient!)

In the spirit of the season…

…here is a list of 2012’s best movies (IMHO). It’s the end of another year and it wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without umpteen lists everywhere you look, reviewing and recapping the year’s news, politics, mindless gaffes by D-list celebrities etc. So here is my list of my top 5 movies of 2012! Happy New Year’s Eve.

#5 – Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – a thematic choice, considering the world was supposed to end in 2012 (but I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t end after all).

#4 – Anna Karenina – I didn’t like Keira Knightley’s portrayal of Anna but this movie deserves to win awards for its beautiful costume design and spectacular jewels.

#3 – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – humorous and ultimately very moving. And the cast of actors is fantastic: talent personified.

#2 – Silver Linings Playbook – Talking of talent, this movie isn’t running low on it either. I went to see it a week ago (you can read my review of it here) and it is one of the best movies I have seen all year. It is so much better than the trailer makes it look. In fact, if you haven’t seen the trailer yet, don’t! Just go see the movie. Silver Linings Playbook is a beautifully directed piece of cinema and it deserves to win all four of its Golden Globe nominations.

#1 – The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games official theatrical poster - all rights remain with original owner(s).

The Hunger Games official theatrical poster – all rights remain with original owner(s).


I am a fan of the books and, for the most part, the movie did not disappoint. For a detailed critique, see my review of it here.

October

So, it is October already and nearly a month has gone by since my last blog post! How did that happen?

Despite my busy life, I am planning a few book and movie reviews. On my pile of books to read is the magnificently lengthy Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzkho. A review of the aforementioned book will appear in time but the novel is over 600 pages and is quite weighty stuff! I am enjoying it though but need to read it in small chunks.

Also coming soon is my review of Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell. Some of you may have seen the 2010-released movie, as it won awards at Sundance in 2010 and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance was Oscar-nominated. I have not seen the movie, however, but it is on my to-watch list. I wanted to read the book before I saw the the screen adaptation of it but I will watch the movie soon and write a review of both book and film.

Finally, I recently joined Twitter! My Twitter handle is @cultureblogger Follow me!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Until next time, goodbye.