When I started blogging I actually didn't imagine I would like it so much. My "adventure" on line started with LEARN ON LINE on 23rd November 2008. The blog was meant to help my students and motivate them studying English Literature. But since it was also MY blog I started writing about my favourite books, my DVD collection, my impressions on readings and movies but...I wasn't convinced it was correct to mingle my personal stuff with the materials for my students. So I decided to start with a personal blog, this FLY HIGH!

Now what I'm trying to do, from time to time, is to remove the personal stuff from LEARN ON LINE and post it on FLY HIGH. This is what I'm doing tonight ... If any of you has already read the following reviews, I beg your pardon, but I'm just re-ordering my posts. I'm sorry I'm going to lose the comments I got but I'm a Virgo -it's my sign!- and I tend to be rational and extremely tidy... If,instead, you haven't read this posts before, enjoy them. They are about one of the best movies I've recently seen (from my DVD collection) and one of my best readings of the last months.

FROZEN (2005)

It's a movie, a DVD a bought two months ago, that has been waiting for my attention - kept in my precious "yet to be seen" red box - till last Friday night. No papers to be corrected, no lessons to be prepared, husband out with friends, sons engaged with their computer or videogames ... nobody would disturb me for a while. The fact is that I felt it was a movie deserving proper attention, careful watching (I had seen just a trailer but got it right!) so I wanted to choose the right moment for it. At about 10 last Friday night I put the DVD in my laptop, turned the light off and, warm in my bed, I started a stunning journey in Kath's disquieting world.

The film is set 2 years after the disappearance of Kath Swarbrick's older sister, Annie. Kath (Sherley Henderson) is haunted by Annie's disappearance and continues to investigate herself. When she steals a security camera videotape from the police that captures Annie’s last moments, Kath believes she finds a mysterious image on it. As she retraces Annie’s last steps, she has recurring visions of Annie in an otherworldly landscape and she appears to lose her grip on reality. Friends and colleagues are concerned for her sanity and beg her to stop. She begins to wonder if this is a clue, a warning, or a glimpse into the afterlife. The pain in her heart doesn’t stop and she grows more and more disturbed while everybody tries to convince her that time will heal her wound. She finds help in a parish priest, Noyen Roy (interpreted by an excellent Roshan Seth), who seems to understand her and to care for her very much.
I don't want to tell more ... this film really deserves to be seen ...What I really want to tell you about is ...How astonished I was once I got to the end. By what? By the numerous emotional shifts I had gone through. I had been so absorbed in the amazingly good photography and by the extraordinarily gifted acting of Sherley Henderson that ... it took me time to "land back" in my bed.

But here I am now ...still unable to give a precise shape to my extremely positive response. Even now, after 2 days, I'm trying hard to find the right words . I'll try with a list of the features which moved me most.


I had already seen her - among others - in "Bridget Jones" ," The way we live now" or in "The Taming of the Shrew" (BBC Shakespeare Retold) but in her first lead as Kath she is hauntingly good. Her childish voice is perfect here to convey Kath's loss of grip on reality and her desperate sorrow in her solitary quest for the truth of her sister's disappearance. Sherley is so convincing that you really breathe and feel her nostalgia for her childhood, her sufference, her desperation, her physical attraction to Noyen, her utter trembling fright when she thinks she has finally got to the truth.
Boundless grim mud flats, northern coastline, decaying industry
Study of a character? Ghost/mystery story? Murder mystery? Thriller?
All of them.

The hectic final 10 minutes are worth an entire movie. Incredible!

The viewers are called to give their own contribute to the completeness of the story.

Directed by Juliet MacKoen


  • Shirley Henderson - Kath Swarbrick

  • Roshan Seth - Noyen Roy

  • Ger Ryan - Elsie

  • Richard Armitage - Steven
  • Sean Harris - Hurrican Frank


    “For those of us in professional despair about the future of British cinema, there was precious little to gripe about. Juliet McKoen’s ghost story, Frozen, is a brave choice. It gives Shirley Henderson, so often the viola player in a string quartet, the chance to show how haunting she can be as a lead. In McKoen’s subtle hands Frozen becomes a poem about the limbo of not-knowing; of not being able to grieve for a loved one who keeps calling in dreams; and how this appalling ache reshapes the place where you live and the people you grow up with. It is also an exceedingly topical film about how horror is becalmed.”(The Times, November 2004)

    A surreal and evocative tale… Shirley Henderson's acting is excellent. From childlike to erotic, from sad to simply fucked up, she has a ageless quality about her that immediately garners sympathy from the audience. While Frozen may not be the fast-paced thriller that resolves all of the lingering questions in an easy manner, it is a surreal meditation on grief and death.” (Anji Milanovic, Plume Noir)


    And now from a good film to a good book!

    “It was snowing again, soft flakes drifting down out of the blackness…”

    I finished Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD (Pulitzer Prize for fiction 2007) last night and I must admit that, even though it is NOT the kind of novel I usually read, I really really enjoyed it. Touching and horrific at the same time, a rare combination…I bought it a couple of months ago but didn’t have the time to open it. It has been patiently waiting on my bedside-table till last week when I started it, at last . Now it’ll stay on there for some more time before I start I new book because I like re-reading the passages I usually underline while reading something for the first time.
    So where can I start from?
    1. How I came to read it.
    I was watching a programme about books on TV (Rai 3) and they read some pages from it … the passage was touching. It was lyrical, estremely simple but heartbreaking at the same time.

    2. The story.
    A father and his son, a young boy, survived a nuclear explosion, and are on the road, bound to the coast, searching safety and especially food in an appalling waste land totally covered of ashes where the few survivors have become cannibals. Everything is grey and terribly cold. When darkness comes it is like being blind. But in this terrifying setting the relationship between the two unnamed protagonists gives the reader the most moving involving moments I’ve recently found in a book.

    3. An excerpt.
    Here is an example of their conversation and relationship…

    “No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So he whispered to the sleeping boy. I have you.

    When he got back the boy was awake. I’m sorry, he said.

    It’s okay.

    Go to sleep.

    I wish I was with mom.

    He didnt answer. He sat beside the small figure wrapped in the quilts and blankets. After awhile he said: You mean you wish that you were dead.


    You mustnt say that.

    But I do.

    Dont say it. It’s a bad thing to say.

    I cant help it.

    I know. But you have to.

    How do I do it?

    I dont know.”

    (from pp. 56-57)

    4. Reflections
    Reading this story I went on recalling the book I read during Christmas holidays, David Grossman’s UNTIL THE END OF THE LAND, which was, instead, about the tragic situation of a mother escaping from any bad news from the war-front which might be delivered to her: her beloved son was fighting in a very dangerous war action and he could die in it. So she starts a sort of escape-pilgrimage during which she re-lives the best and the worst moments of the bonds between her and all the people she loves, especially the one that links her to her son at war.

    My constant thoughts were “How painful can it be for a father like this to watch his son starve, to know their situation is helpless and still to have to comfort and to give hope? How painful can it be for that mother to wait for her son’s return knowing that many soldiers are going to die and that, anyhow, there will always be mothers grieving ?”

    Awful situations, touching and heartbreaking as I said. Now to start a new story I need to “digest” this one first. I’m not a book eater. I prefer to give a novel the time to enter my mind slowly and to stay there alone for a while. Especially if I like it.
    5. Some reviews
    “One of the most shocking and harrowing but ultimately redemptive books I have read. It is an intensely intimate story. It is also a warning” (Kirsty Wark, The Observer)

    “A work of such terrible beauty that you will struggle to look away. It will knock the breath from your lungs.” (Tom Gatti, The Times)

    “You will read on, absolutely convinced, thrilled, mesmerized. All the modern novel can do is done here”. (Alan Warner, The Guardian)

    6. From the book to the movie

    As it usually happens, this book has been adapted for the screen. It has been classified as a horror movie which I NEVER want to see. I couldn’t bear it. One thing is reading such a story, one is to see it with your own eyes.

    To know more about the upcoming film



    lunarossa said...

    Personally I like reading intelligent reviews of films and books written by intelligent people, so I'm really glad that you have decided to "tidy up" your entries. I hadn't heard of the film or book before so I will put them on my list. Do you know the www.anobii.com website? You can create and organize your virtual booksehelf with your own comments, rating etc. Something much more interesting than facebook! Ciao. A.

    Maria Grazia said...

    And I appreciate intelligent comments and good advice. Have a wonderful day up there in York!