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I started this blog as I entered my 40th year, and now firmly in my 40s, I continue to learn so much about life. I'm learning that life rarely goes according to plan and that there's something new to learn every single day, be it a subtle nudge or a smack in the face.... This is my blog about muddling through my 40s-working hard, writing a book, being an ammateur photographer, trying to exercise and eat well, endeavouring to be the world's best aunt, as well as having fun and laughing out loud every single day.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

#72 Dear Rocky - The Woman In Gold

Read Rocky's review here.

Dear Rocky,

I apologise for my absence - thank you as always for keeping our Facebook Page alive and well!

I finally have a breather from uni teaching and I've been able to watch some movies.

Gush Alert:

I'm going to try to contain myself here, but Helen Mirren has most definitely become my new Dame Judy Dench. What a brilliant actor. Wow.

There is so much to love about this true story set in Vienna during World War II. Maria Altmann (Mirren) is the Jewish niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer, The Woman in Gold. Her uncle had commissioned the artwork by Gustav Klimt which hung in their family home until stolen by the Nazi's when the young, newly married Maria fled the country with her husband.

This is one of the best movies I have seen in such a long time. I know you'll write about the production, but I thought the way they interweaved the past and the present was very clever.

Of course, the main plot is that of Maria hiring young lawyer Randy Shoenberg, brilliantly played by Ryan Reynolds who did not rely on his good looks to carry him in this role. How incredible that Shoenberg's grandfather was also from Vienna and a friend of Maria's family, not to mention also a famous composer. Together, the dynamic duo take on the government of Austria to regain possession of the now incredibly valuable heirloom ($100 Million).

What struck me the most in this incredible story were the relationships. Firstly, those of Maria and her family. We were shown the intimate details of her childhood and the importance of her aunt and uncle in her life - reading the storybook, dressing up, the necklace. And of course, Maria and her parents and her new husband.

The wedding scene conveyed such love and romance and the entire plot about Maria and her husband escaping Austria was incredibly suspenseful. Although I found that the chase scene occurred in the movie alone and not real life, I was surprised to read that Maria's husband Fritz was held at Dachau for 2 months prior to their escape and it took them three attempts before they successfully made it out.

Of course, the most sad of scenes for me was when Maria had to farewell her sick father and mother, knowing they would never see one another again - her father giving his blessing and urging her to leave and live and "never forget us". Heart breaking.

While Helen Mirren, with her perfect Austrian accent, blew me away once again with her precision acting, the young Maria, played by Tatiana Maslany also stole my heart. Her beautiful face conveyed so many subtle emotions throughout the story that my heart sang and broke time and time again.

It's also amazing to compare the actors with the real couple and see the similarities:

I don't know that I have ever hated a government as much as I hated the Austrian government while watching this film. Not only did they make it near impossible for anyone to fight for the justice of having their family belongings returned to them, they were downright unfair about it.

The process was fascinating and the impact it had on Randy and his family financially that was later rectified by the successful outcome was so just. To further endear us to Maria, she sold the painting to Neue Gallery in New York with the stipulation that it be accessible to the public everyday, forever.

I haven't mentioned Katie Holmes yet. She was okay.

I think I give this movie a solid 9/10.

Anyway, I'm off to cook some brownies. Over to you Rock!


Saturday, May 30, 2015

#71 Life

Wow, I can't believe I haven't written on here since March 9th this year.

It's funny - for the past five years I have struggled to strike a balance in my life. As I've written previously, since having breast cancer, I have swung between the extremes of trying to fit in as much life as I can per minute (you know, just in case...) and trying to live a calm and stress free existence.

I'm happy to report, that I think I'm just about as close as ever to the elusive 'B' word - Balance.

I really only have two free weeknights - Tuesdays and Thursdays. They have inevitably been filled with exercise, appointments, my nephews, uni preparation and up until this year, alternating between salsa classes and camera club. So you see, really, I had no nights off.

This year, although most of that still happens, I've managed to come to the understanding that you just can't do everything and so, I no longer stress out if I don't feel like going to salsa and I haven't been to camera club all financial year. It took the pressure off in the best way.

I've managed to finish my book after 2 1/2 years and although my literary agent is yet to find a publisher for it, I'm remaining optimistic and am even thinking about what I can write next. Maybe a couple of blog posts!

March 9th coincide with the beginning of the university trimester and I was lucky enough to teach a subject called The Human Mind for the coolest class of students. I've had a ball. It's finished now and I have some spare time again.... until next trimester that is. I've found it so important to have some variety in my work and although it's stressful, I've very much enjoyed and become comfortable in my sometimes role of Academic. Who would've thought....

The other thing I've been able to do, is binge watch some movies.... stay tuned for some movie reviews.

Hope you're all great!

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