Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism – The Book Makes it to the Big Screen

Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism is based on the popular children’s book by the same name. This British film version is set in the town of Briersville and in London and stars Raffey Cassidy as young Molly.

Molly Moon Book

The book upon which the new film is based. Creative Commons.

A suitably Gothic-looking orphanage fills the opening scene, followed by a scene in which the young orphan inhabitants endure ongoing ill-treatment by the horrible Miss Adderstone (Lesley Manville). One of the older girls, Molly, hides out in a cupboard where she escapes grim reality by immersing herself in books. Molly’s love of books leads her to the local library whose plinth is marked with the words “Knowledge is Power”. Power is indeed what Molly discovers when she comes across The Incredible Book of Hynotism. In an effort to improve her life and those of her fellow orphans, Molly begins to apply the lessons taught in her hypnotism book. She hypnotises many around her from the nasty Miss Adderstone to the latter’s funny looking pug dog. Molly’s antics propel her on a journey to London where her newfound talent begins to take on a sinister aspect. A life of glitz and glamour ensue, one in which Molly lives out a fake existence, temporarily forgetting what’s really important: her friends. Her adventures are intensified by the antics of the inept Nockman (Dominic Monaghan), a common thief who is after the book (and therefore Molly) for his own dubious reasons.

The refrain “believe in yourself” is one of the messages that come through in this story. But apart from this common Disney theme, there are other more interesting messages to be heard. The city versus country theme promotes a quiet country life; the starlet hype versus genuine friendship promotes the latter; and books and knowledge form a further positive refrain.

I didn’t enjoy Molly’s London episode, and sighed with relief when she returned to the country, the library and her happy world of books. But then perhaps that was the intent of the story: to learn that while knowledge found in books is powerful it needs to be used for good, not evil.

Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism opens at cinemas in South Africa on Friday 23 October 2015.

Walking cities: a travel post

Travel post by Brenda Daniels

Earlier this year A Feast of Tales featured a review of the documentary The Human Scale. We mentioned that the film discussed the growth of cities, their emphasis on urbanisation and the motor car, and the resultant erosion of people contact and public life. The film also listed a number of cities around the world that had tried to reverse this trend by introducing kilometres of cycle lanes and by changing roads into pedestrian areas.

I have visited four international cities this year: Washington DC (USA), Munich (Germany), Beijing (China) and London (England). What follows is my own brief experience of these cities as a pedestrian (and in one instance as a cyclist), and how the conditions of that experience affected my enjoyment of the city.

Walking in Washington DC

I visited Washington DC in January – perhaps not the best time of year to judge this city’s pedestrian-friendly places. My husband and I stayed in a hotel very near Ford’s Theatre, the place where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Our trips to this museum and the natural history museum passed no vegetation or pedestrian areas. Whilst the roads were quiet and I never felt unsafe when crossing them, I felt the real chill of the winter weather on the concrete surroundings and didn’t enjoy the lack of atmosphere. I rate this third place on my “walking” scale out of four.

Brenda Daniels wrapped up in Washington DC. Photo: Bruce Daniels


Brenda Daniels wrapped up in Washington DC. Photo: Bruce Daniels

Walking (and cycling) in Munich

After much persuasion my husband eventually consented to us hiring bicycles on our March trip to Munich. Well, he loved the cycling so much he left me in his dust (metaphorically speaking), as he raced along the miles and miles of VERY SAFE and well-laid-out cycle tracks in the city. Munich is a beautiful, historic, character-filled place and is full of properly regulated walking and cycle tracks, as well as large pedestrian areas in the city centre. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to visit many times in the future. I give it second place (only very close behind first place) on my “walking” scale. 

Brenda Daniels lagging behind in Munich. Photo: Bruce Daniels.

Brenda Daniels lagging behind in Munich. Photo: Bruce Daniels.

Walking in Beijing

May was a lovely time of year to visit this VERY busy city. We went to some lovely monuments and palaces that were set in vast gardens with waterways and beautifully interesting trees. These public places were full of locals enjoying the outdoors. However, getting to these tourist attractions meant catching the underground train and walking many kilometres (I think we did 12 in one day) along VERY busy roads. At one stage of our walk, while trying to decipher a Chinese SMS on my mobile phone, I fell headlong INTO the road, leaving a fair portion of my elbow skin on the tar before making it back to the hotel.

My overall impression of Beijing: very busy roads with LOTS of traffic. It gets fourth place on my “walking” scale.

Taking a break in a small not so busy area of Beijing

Taking a break in a small not so busy area of Beijing

Walking in London

London is the ultimate when it comes to my “walking tourist” experience. Even catching a bus (that uses biofuels) to Hyde Park on a busy August day was a pleasure; from the top deck of the bus we got to see flower-bedecked pubs, bougainvillea-clad restaurants, and topiary-decorated hotels. Hyde Park was beautiful. Wide, flat pathways, lined with huge oak trees, miles of flat, soft grass, the odd monument (Albert to be precise), and a tea stop at Lake Serpentine, all made walking in this city of cities a real delight. My favourite, London gets first out of four on my “walking” scale.

Bruce Daniels heading out in Hyde Park. Photo: Brenda Daniels.

Bruce Daniels heading out in Hyde Park. Photo: Brenda Daniels.

Environment-friendly bus. Photo: Brenda Daniels.

Environment-friendly bus. Photo: Brenda Daniels.

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Hearing King Lear – with National Theatre Live

The National Theatre Live screening of Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear is not to be missed if you’re studying it at school and certainly not if you just love anything to do with this 16th Century literary genius. It is showing (in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and at Ster-Kinekor Blue Route Mall in Tokai) on 14, 15, 18 and 19 June only.

It goes without saying that Shakespeare was meant to be performed. Not read. But it’s worth reiterating. During my school days we watched one of Shakespeare’s plays on film. Another one was accompanied by a voice over. For the rest it was reading. And that was difficult.

Watching a play being performed brings it to life and helps the viewer understand this writer’s often inaccessible old English. The inflections, the pauses, the tone of voice, facial expressions and movement of the actors all communicate and help the viewer/listener understand and therefore appreciate the words.

I had never read (or watched!) King Lear so this production was a superb introduction. Whilst the language is true to the original, director Sam Mendes brings some modernity to the play by using modern-day clothing and stage set. But, as alluded to above, it was the performance of the excellent actors that enriched my experience of this play.

The action opens with King Lear dividing his kingdom between his three daughters, Regan, Goneril and Cordelia, based on their professions of love for him. Devastated by his favourite’s (Cordelia) unwillingness to flatter him, the king hands his estate to the other two and then gradually descends into madness.

Goneril and Cordelia become greedy and turn their backs on Lear, an act which contributes to his poor mental state. Shunned by his family, Lear’s only companions become the faithful servants in his realm. A parallel story of filial love/betrayal is that between the Earl of Gloucester and his two sons (one of whom is illegitimate).

As with many of Shakespeare’s plays, weather conditions act as portents of things to come. This one is no different. Thunder and even rain accompany descriptions of lightning.

A brief interview at intermission reveals the thought and research that were used to make this production the emotional, understandable one it is.

King Lear screens at 7.30pm on 14, 18 and 19 June and at 2.30pm on 15 June at the theatres mentioned above. With an intermission, the performance is three and a half hours long. Visit or call Ticketline on 082 16789.

A 1600s print out for King Lear

A 1600s print out for King Lear which is to be screened in South Africa from the National Theatre in London. Photo: Creative Commons

Cordelia in King Lear's court, a scene from Shakespeare's play, King Lear. Photo: Creative Commons

Cordelia in King Lear’s court, a scene from Shakespeare’s play, King Lear. Photo: Creative Commons