The Book or the Film? Which do you prefer?

Which do you prefer - the book or the film? The eternal question for us culture vultures. This year's crop of Oscar nominations and eventual winners has thrown up several contenders for that debate; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Help, Hugo, War Horse, The Descendants.....so, if you are wondering whether to read the book or watch the film, read on... I found the decision to read or watch these stories was partly personal preference and partly an accident of circumstance.

And the nominations for best film are...

The King's SpeechAwards season is here! The 84th annual Academy Awards ceremony better known as the Oscars will take place on February 26th, 2012.  Oscars are the most famous of film awards, the first awards ceremony was held in May of 1929. The annual ceremony at which the awards are presented is a major part of the film industry's year and will honour the best films of 2011. Nine films are nominated for best picture 2012, who will win?

Charles Dickens's 200th Birthday!

ScroogeFirst we had the 130th anniversary of the birth of James Joyce, now today, 7th February, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s other greatest novelists, Charles Dickens!

And to mark the occasion, Laurence Foster has re-created Charles Dickens’ first public performance in Ireland, and the performances (Dickens in Dublin) are taking place in a number of our branch libraries (details below - but do check with location, may well be booked out at this stage).

Watching the detectives

Miss MarpleThere is something very comforting about whodunnits.  Unlike real life, there are never any unsolved mysteries or loose ends; the murderer is properly unmasked, Scooby-Doo fashion, at the end; and the whole thing is a gentle exercise for the old brain cells as we get to play along, working out clues and chasing red herrings. They’re the television equivalent of toast: warm, cosy, and easy to digest. A whole host of detective series is available on DVD in libraries now, including a pretty hefty set of Miss Marple that would make an admirable murder weapon in itself.

Rachel Allen's New Book 'Easy Meals'

Rachel Allen Easy MealsRachel Allen’s new cook book 'Easy Meals. Over 180 Delicious Recipes to get you Through your Life' is now available to borrow from Dublin City Public Libraries. Included in her new book are lots of quick and trouble-free recipes and plenty of great ideas such as her one pot recipes and recipes that have just five ingredients.

As always her book is full of colourful pictures and has lots of interesting and original combinations of ingredients for example Pork, Chorizo, Haricot Beans with Red Wine and Chickpea and Aubergine Salad.

Elemental Stories of India

‘Elements’ is a trilogy of films set in India, by Deepa Mehta, an Indian-Canadian film director.  The three films Earth, Water, and Fire are a loose trilogy in that they follow an elemental theme – Earth deals with territory, Water (nominated for an Academy Award) with purity, and Fire with passion -  but they are each standalone stories, and don’t need to be watched in sequence.  All are available on DVD.

EarthEarth (1998) is set in Lahore, in the run-up to the partition of India in 1947, and is told through the eyes of Lenny, a Parsee girl of about ten. Her Hindu ayah, Shanta, is the focal point of a group of friends, of different religions, whose friendship is shattered as partition takes its toll on the community and different faiths turn on each other.

Swedish Crime is on the Climb! (Part One)

Map of SwedenSwedish crime writing has always had a good reputation, and its popularity is greater now than ever, largely because of the movie and TV spin-offs which have served to highlight two writers in particular, namely Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson. There are several others, but I will write a second post soon where I will focus on those other fabulous writers. There is just too much material for one post! So in this post I am going to concentrate on the two biggies, introducing you (as if I need to) to the books that give us those now famous characters, Liz Salander and Kurt Wallander.

David Oistrakh, Artist of the People?

David Oistrakh Artiste du PeubleDavid Oistrakh, Artiste du Peuple? is a film by Bruno Monsaingeon which traces the life of David Oistrakh,  who is recognised not only as a great violinist but also as one of music's most interesting personalities. Born in Odessa in 1908 into a Jewish family of merchants, David Oistrakh lived through the troubled years of the October Revolution. At the age of five he began studying the violin and viola and went on to perform at many concerts throughout the Soviet Union playing Khachaturian, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and others to packed audiences. He won several prizes along the way including the Stalin Prize in 1942.

nostalgia telly

Television in the 1970s didn’t just consist of Mart and Market, and Garda Patrol: there were some classic television series around at the time, which kept the nation entertained for months on end – this was possibly due to the lack of choice available, or maybe times were just simpler! These are all available on DVD from your local library, so hit the sofa with a tin of biccies and take a trip down memory lane....

I ClaudiusBased on the Robert Graves novels, I Claudius, was originally shown in 1976, with an all-star cast including Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, and Brian Blessed (without his beard – worth it to see that alone!). The story of the stammering Claudius, regarded as the family idiot, who eventually became emperor of Rome, is full of intrigue, plotting, counter-plotting, and some downright insanity, with Caligula and Nero being particularly memorable in the insanity stakes.

Talent on the Double

Julia Fischer Violin & PianoA DVD, Julia Fischer Violin & Piano, available to borrow at the Music Library, features Julia Fischer, playing solo on piano and violin in the same concert. The concert was recorded at Frankfurt, 1st January 2008.

Julia Fischer says she knew from an early age that she wanted to be a musician. She took up the violin because, when she was a child she always had to wait until her mother and her brother (who is four years older than her) had finished practising on the family's only piano. From the age of four she received piano lessons from her mother and applied herself at the Piano with nearly the same intensity she brought to playing the violin.