Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Bill's 2015 Top Ten List - Number 9's

Continuing on with my theme for the past two days, here are my Number 9 selections in my ongoing 2015 Top Ten List.


9. The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham - In 2013, I bought and read Maugham's The Razor's Edge, my first experience with his writing. I loved it and it was definitely one of my favourites of the year. Since then, I found The Moon and Sixpence and tried it out this past year. Once again, one of my favourites of the year. The story was originally published in 1919 and follows the narrator, presumably Maugham, who follows Charles Strickland, an English banker, who abandons his family for the life of a painter, first heading for Paris and then onwards to Tahiti. The story is loosely based on the life of artist, Paul Gauguin. I love Maugham's writing style, his ability to turn words into pictures. This was my review of the book - "Such an excellent story! My first experience with Somerset Maugham was The Razor's Edge, a book I had great difficulty putting down. The Moon and Sixpence is my second experience and I found this story much the same. It is based somewhat on the life of Paul Gauguin and follows one Charles Strickland, a London businessman, who in his '40s decides to leave his family, move to Paris and become a painter. The author of the tale meets up with Strickland throughout his time in Paris and follows him ultimately to Tahiti, where Strickland has finally found out where he belongs and what he wants to paint. Strickland is not a likeable character; he abandons his wife and children, ruins other lives during his travels. But there is something about him that draws the author in. Maugham is a wonderful story-teller, his style is clear and flows so wonderfully. He puts you in his story, you can picture the people and the locations. And the story is fascinating, a joy to read."


9. Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift - I readily admit that Taylor Swift's music hasn't really done much for me in the past. I don't deny her talent as a song writer, but I've found her songs kind of one-note. However, over the past year, I've rediscovered her and I have to say, she's fantastic. I've added a few of her songs to my usb, including Style and Bad Blood, both excellent songs. But my choice for number 9 is latest single, Wildest Dreams, which reached number 4 in Canada. I especially like the chorus, but the whole song is great. I discovered it on the Virgin Radio playlist in September.


9. A Place to Call Home - Another Australian TV show makes my Top Ten list, this a period drama called A Place to Call Home. It stars Marta Dusseldorp, who Jo and I had first seen in a legal drama, Janet King, which we both liked immensely. In this series, Marta is a nurse who had gone to Europe, converted to Judaism to marry the man she loved and got caught up in WWII, spending most of the war in a concentration camp. The story starts with her return to Australia by ship, where she meets the wealthy Bligh family, saving their gay son from committing suicide on the ship. Their lives become entwined as she moves to Inverness to continue working as a nurse and falls in love with George Bligh, much to the consternation of the family matriarch. It's a great soap opera on a grand scale and we've managed to see two seasons this past year on BBC Canada. Excellent stuff!


9. The Railway Man  - Once again, one of my 2015 choices was actually released in 2013, late 2013 mind you. I really have to catch these movies a bit sooner. :0). Anyway, The Railway Man, directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, stars Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Stellan Skarsgard. Firth is an ex-British Army officer who was captured by the Japanese during WWII and spends the war in a Japanese POW camp, working on the Thai / Burma railroad. He is tortured by the Japanese for building a radio transmitter. The story is told in flashback as an older Firth still struggles to deal with the trauma of this ordeal and with his hatred of the man who tortured him. He is helped by his wife and best friend. He decides he has to confront his torturer and the story leads to his search for the man who caused him this anguish. Not an easy movie to watch, but excellent.


9. Marta Dusseldorp - The missus and I discovered Marta Dusseldorp first when our Canadian network, the CBC, showed the Australian mini-series, Janet King, where Marta plays the lead character, Janet King, of course, an Australian crown prosecutor, caught up in a murder case that disrupts her life and threatens to get her killed as she sorts out the case. This past year, BBC Canada and PBS started showing her latest series, A Place to Call Home. I think she did a great job in both shows and they are quite different roles. As I checked out her resume, she's been around since the '90s, even had a role in one episode of a couple of other favourite series of mine, Halifax f.p. and Farscape. She was even in the previously mentioned The Railway Man (I'll have to check that out again.) We've seen the first two episodes of A Place to Call Home and we're definitely looking forward to seeing what happens next, after how the past season ended!!


9. Rainn Wilson  - American actor, Rainn Wilson, has been around for a long time and made a name for himself in the American version of The Office, a show, I have to say, I didn't really get, or maybe more accurately, try to get. But this past year, I developed a real appreciation for his acting in his role in the short-lived comedy-drama, Backstrom. The series was produced by Fox TV and is based on the books by Swedish crime writer Leif Persson. Fox moved the location to Portland, as filmed in Vancouver BC and Wilson plays the lead, Police Lieutenant Everett Backstrom, overweight, heavy drinking and irascible. He hates everybody equally and somehow is successful at solving the cases thrown his way. It's unfortunate that Fox didn't give the show more of a chance to succeed as I thought both Wilson, the rest of the cast and the show, itself, was excellent. I guess I'll just have to read the books now. It did give me an appreciation of Wilson's acting chops as he suited the role perfectly.

So there you go, the Number 9's. Tomorrow, on to the Number 8's.

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