Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Mini reviews

If you have a few minutes between now and Wednesday 25th May 2011, I’d be really grateful if you could contribute to a collection of book/film reviews I’d like to use with my Advanced level students. I’m looking for your own opinions, rather than links online (as I could find them myself) 🙂

I’m trying to encourage them to use a larger range of adjectives than just good/bad/interesting/boring, so anything you could add would be great! They can be as long or as short as you like, and I would really appreciate some negative reviews too, as these are often neglected I think.

How to join in

  • Add a review to the comments in this post.
  • Post your review by adding a post-it note to this page in this link.
  • Record a short review using audioboo
  • Send me a review any other way you choose!
Thank you very much for joining in, and watch this space for a lesson plan showing how I used them.

Comments on: "Mini reviews" (8)

  1. Sandy – how advanced is advanced? Pauline Kael’s “I Lost It at the Movies” has great reviews of the classics, and David Denby and Anthony Lane at “The New Yorker” are worth their weight in gold when the movie isn’t so great…


    • They’re probably going to work towards the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English next year. I’m more looking for your own reviews (am going to change the blog post in a moment to reflect this). Thanks!


  2. Julia Bay said:

    Nowadays people know the price of
    everything, and the value of nothing.
    Oscar Wilde

    It was two years ago that I for the first time read “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo and it impressed me greatly. And even much more than that – I fell in love with that masterpiece at once. Mario Puzo had a remarkable capacity for depicting life as it is. This is encouraging… So long as he understood and revealed his characters’ inner worlds… The world wide fame of his characters is due to the fact that he was a brilliant psychologist. As for me, practically nobody was able to suffuse the novel with many of the ingredients his readers crave for tantalizingly documenting his hot-blooded characters’ lavish lifestyles and skirmishes. He cements his reputation as a page-turning story-teller as well. I can say with certainty that this book is one of his most perfect works. Unfortunately he passed away in 1999 and literary life of his characters, so to speak, has run dry – the Corleone subject has come to the end.

    As is known there exists a film of the same name that was directed by legendary Francis Ford Coppola in 1972 whereas the novel came out in 1969. Frankly speaking, the film compares well with the novel and moreover they are mutually complementary, if you ask me. The film is rather long (I mean each part of the sequel here) but it helps the spectator to understand the work better, it gives us a wide range of topics and reflects our hopes and worries. The plot is fast moving as the tempo of our life. The film is about models of the world, the struggle between good and evil, death (it largely gives us time to note death: there is a great amount of slaughter scenes in the film), about man’s longing to fly, for harmony and light but always via darkness.

    The book tells us a common story of a Sicilian twelve-year-old boy whose father and elder brother were killed by a powerful Don Tomasino and the boy would have suffered the same fate but for the help of good Sicilians who kindly helped him to leave Sicily and start his life anew.

    He arrives in America – the land where all the dreams come true – and works hard. But for reasons beyond his control he becomes a mighty Don Corleone. Well, certainly he did something to impose his power upon other people but in a way he was gradually made to become what he became in the end. Although he let no one stand between him and his success as the head of the family he had his beliefs and views. He rejected an offer to go shares with the other five Dons when it came to distributing drugs. His firm belief was that this “drug thing” would undermine his authority among the police people and the government officials. That’s how his younger son, Michael, came into play. Only thanks to him his father stayed alive while in hospital. ‘Michael spoke very quickly. “You’ve read about my father in the papers. You’ve seen that there’s no one here tonight to guard him. Now I’ve just gotten word some men will come into the hospital to kill him. Please believe me and help me.” He could be extraordinarily persuasive when he wanted to be.’ This very moment I consider to be the turning point in the life of Michael Corleone and the Corleone family as well.

    The life of the Corleone family reflects the adventure and turmoil of contemporary America (although the action of the novel takes place at the middle of the 20th century). The novel raises such burning topics of everyday life as: love, friendship, betrayal, and revenge, the power of money, loneliness, obligation and duty. It proves that lust for money, hunger for controlling everything make people’s souls degrade.

    This novel made me think about people’s message in the world and their attitude to each other. I found it powerful and expressive. It goes without saying that it’s worth reading. (That’s why I didn’t go into detail while writing this review).


  3. Julia Bay said:

    and i’d appreciate if u made reference to the source, Sandy:))


  4. This any good?

    Book: Beneath the Pyramid
    Author: Christian Jacq

    My review:

    I have no idea why Christian Jacq books are so popular – I found the dialogue stitled and forced, charactisation poor, little flow and no tension. I dont know whether this is because Jacq is a poor writer, or this book has been translated poorly (I hope it was a translate – Jacq being French and living in Swizterland – as if not, the fault is entirely Jacq’s).

    For example: within seconds of meeting the judge for the first time, the investigator has given up his entire life story in a paragraph along the lines of “I grew up on the wrong side of the streets, I’m mean and violent and I dont care who knows it and I’ll beat up and threaten anyone who gets on my wrong side whether you like it or not”. Literally.

    The scribe is not better, always turning up late due to arguments with his wife, but the passages where this happens are not funny, threatening, interesting or enlightening and add little to the plot.

    The judge keeps being told that he is making “powerful enemies” but you feel no fear of the characters concerned – and no empathy for the judge – so there is no engagement on either side to make you want to continue to the end


  5. And you can have this one too, if you want:

    The Red Coffin, by Sam Eastland

    I got an uncorrected proof copy of this book as part of LibraryThing’s early reviewers. There are a couple of minor proofing issues I spotted, and hopefully these will be picked up before the official release. Nothing too major (I hope!)

    This is the second of the Pekkala books, but the first one I have read. As a thriller, it is enjoyable and fast paced, especially at the end. There are a number of flash backs during the book, which I can see as annoying to others, but only one (the combined memories of his ex-love) which I thought was a little shoe-horned in, and split up the narrative, even if it was only a page or so long.

    Pekkala’s does have a “all access pass” into Stalin’s presence, which is a little difficult to understand, considering his previous relationship with the Tsar. I have read other depictions of Stalin that, rightly or wrongly, present Stalin as a paranoid control freak, so Pekkala’s apparent easy access is incongrous. This may have been explained in the previous (or future?!) books.

    The representation of the Tsar and Tsarina were reasonable, showing them as slightly out of touch, but so emeshed in politics and personal relationships, including that around Rasputin, that you can see where some of their problems lay.

    On the whole an enjoyable read, and would read similar by this author


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