Sunday, 13 December 2015

Bridge of Spies

When I was 12 I remember hearing about an American called Gary Powell being killed in an air crash. The news reports mentioned that he had been shot down over the old USSR back in the 60s but I didn't take much more notice.

Earlier this year we saw a trailer for Bridge of Spies which is set during the Cold War in the 60s and thought it looked interesting. We decided to see it and discovered it was the story behind how Gary Powell got back to the States.

Tom Hanks plays a lawyer given the task of defending Rudolf Abel, brilliantly played by Mark Rylance, on charges of spying for the USSR. What I hadn't known was that Gary Powell was swapped for Abel Rudolf and this film is that story. 

I found it a fascinating and enjoyable film. Tom Hanks gives his usual reliable performance while Mark Rylance is wonderfully understated. The story is complex enough to keep your interest while not being too pro American. Definitely one I'd watch again.

Saturday, 25 April 2015


A while ago now I bought "Birdsong" by Sebastian Faulkes and added it to my pile of books to read. I picked it up and started to read the introduction written by the author but struggled and so put it back.

Other books were read and Birdsong made it's way to the top of the pile again. So, giving it another chance, I started it again but skipped the introduction. I'm glad I did. 

Like most people, I think, I know a bit about the First World War. I know it was a hard, attritional war fought in awful conditions that almost wiped out a generation of men. This book follows one soldier from his life before the war until the war ends.

At times the descriptions of warfare and how the men suffered are horrific. The detail is superb (I've just finished itching!) and the storyline compelling. Once I started I found it difficult to put down. 
It is very much a human story. I felt sympathy for not just the main character but those who helped fill out the story. The annoying characters are just that but are there for a reason and not just for the sake of it.

This book has gone into my "keep" pile and will be read again.