Movie: Rendition

So this weekend was spent watching movies. OK, you got us. However, you have to take the opportunities when they arise. Steve has been ill the last 2 weeks with a cold so we decided to take an easy weekend and just veg (which means watching movies).

Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Meryl Streep are the key names in this film. The movie deals with the use of extraordinary rendition whereby person/s suspected of terrorist activity can be transported from their place of capture to their country or any other country for questioning, intelligence gathering, trial etc. Returning from a business trip to South Africa, Isabella’s husband (Anwar) is a no show at the airport stateside. Confused she sets about trying to figure out where he has gotten to. Little does she know that he was on the plane but upon landing in the US was immediately removed by the government and whisked away under the “extreme rendition” law due to possibly links to an explosion in Cairo.

Enjoyable enough but who’s purpose is it serving? Am I too cynical in thinking why is this being made and for what purpose? How sad is that. Meryl Streep was fabulously disagreeable, you just wanted to dislike her intensely. In Cairo the family story happening between Abasi Fawal (Security Chief) and his daughter lead to an interesting end.

Still making my decision on this one purely because of my attitude of “who does this serve” thoughts. So far, 4.5 out of 10.

Lovin’ Wales

Last weekend we took a trip into Wales. The aim was to get to Hay-on-Wye (bordering Wales and England) which is the booklovers place to go with a riduculous number of secondhand bookstores in one location. Sounded like the place to be for a weekend of reading, browsing and generally lapping up that delicious smell of books.

Of course we decided to take in a few other sites on the way so we headed out early on Saturday morning. First stop, Chepstow. Our first lesson in roadtrips is that everything is a heck of a lot closer than we think. We arrived in Chepstow (Wales) within 15 minutes. Hmmmm, a bit early for anything actually to be open! Our main goal was the Chepstow Castle so we did a walk around the base of the castle then into the village to find the all important early morning coffee.

When Chepstow Castle finally opened we headed in. Being the only ones there at that hour of the morning really added to the magic of the place. This place is a close 1st place winner in regards to my favourite castle so far. Perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the river this is a magnificent piece of history. Here and there the castle has ornate additions which provide a grandeur to the functionality. Of course having a foggy, peaceful morning overlooking the river just added to the romantic setting of this location.

After Chepstow we headed to Tintern Abbey. To be honest, after having seen Glastonbury Abbey this was a bit of let down. I must preface this with the fact we didn’t actually even pay to go in because you can get an idea of what is in there as the wall surrounding the abbey is not that high. I probably would go back another time but at this stage I wasn’t really willing to pay another 8 quid with Glastonbury still fresh in my mind.

Meandering through the countryside we found a little organic food shop and stopped for lunch. The bread we found here was incredible along with a cool bottle of apple juice (even though it was still rather cold by this time).

Another great find was a town called Tretower. Here we investigated the local Tretower Court and Castle which were free to enter. We love free! Fantastic location with staff walking around in costume, a great fire blazing in the main hall, bright red apples overloading the trees outside and a castle tower in the backyard to wander through.

We finally made it to Hay-on-Wye around 4pm (a lot later than we had orginally planned), found some accommodation for the night and spent the rest of the day browsing the book shops. This is a quaint village which truly is focused totally on books. You could spend days here and still not see everything. Our B&B for the night was located right in the centre of town and as far as we could tell we were very fortunate to get accommodation at such short notice. One gentleman in the pub we ate dinner at was saying he had called 20 places before he finally found a bed for the night.

The next morning we decided to get going after another wander through the bookshops as we wanted to have a look at the Brecon Beacons. Traditionally this is an extremely popular area for walking (tramping). I must say as we drove through the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons region they really weren’t what we were expecting. It is still all basically farmland, quite wild and windy on the ridges I would imagine but at the end of the day they are a lot smaller than we imagined. I suppose I was thinking of the Tongariro National Park with large peaks and rocky terrain. I would still be interested in walking in the region but possibly thought it might be a bit more challenging. I think more research into this area is probably needed.

My second impressions of Wales at this stage? Love it! The country is open and uncrowded. I could quite happily spend a weekend here often. The castles in this area have been the best so far (not that I’ve seen too many to date). We got back into Bristol by 3pm, that’s how close everything was. In all I think we only did about 200 miles.

Looking forward to more adventures in Wales that’s for sure.

Lang and Noonan

Something a bit different this week. We did a trip into Wales and I have photos to share as well as some great destinations however our laptop is crammed full of stuff currently and we have to work out a contingency plan at the moment. That’s what happens when you have over 46,000 photos on your laptop! Who knew we had so many.

Anyway, back to this weeks blog. I am totally loving the new albums of Jonny Lang (US) and Katie Noonan (Aust).

Jonny Lang has a new gospel/blues album out which totally rocks. I love his gravelly, raw voice and he totally rocks on the guitar. This is a bit more laid back than the album that I bought last time (a few back from this one called Wander this World). I would highly recommend his music if you are after some fab tunes, gritty vocals and great bluesy guitar. OK so the guitar work is a bit “main stream” in this album but he truly is talented. In particularI love the song One Person at a Time, just makes you feel good and want to dance.

Katie Noonan (formerly of Brisbane band George) has a solo album out. This chick has the coolest dress sense and her voice is heaven sent. The album is pretty girly but so easy going and great to just have playing in the background while you chill. Love her! See the attached website links where you can listen to some of their recent tracks for free.

Movie: The Kingdom

It has been getting a bit colder lately and we haven’t been going out as much. However, we did get to the movies on Friday evening to see The Kingdom.

Set in Saudi Arabia an FBI team is whisked in to investigate an attack inside an American civil compound. They are there to gather evidence and uncover the culprits as they don’t trust the Saudi teams working on the case. Starring Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner and Justin Bates it was a bit violent for my liking. It was obvious the film was trying to instil in its viewers that the “war on terror” is about the motivations of extremist groups and must be seperated from lumping everyone into the same category just because they follow the muslim faith. It achieves this through cheesy and obvious “peeks” into the family lives of the key muslim characters. In all I was quite glad for the movie to end. For one because I really don’t think Jennifer Garner can act and for the other as said before it was too violent for my tastes.

Rating for this movie? I would give this a 3 out of 10. Really not my genre at the moment. Steve however rates this a 7 out of 10. I leave it to you to make your own judgement on this one.