Category Archives: Movies

Paris Can Wait

On a wet weekday afternoon (last Thursday) with the friend in whose house I am staying to dog sit, I went to the movies.

I had read about this movie but it was a disappointment,  Diane Lane is one of those actors with whom I feel a closeness.  She seems to be a woman just like the rest of us and I always enjoy her films.  Lane plays Anne a woman who seems mostly ignored by her husband. Played by Alec Baldwin.  He is another favourite although in this movie he is just passing through.  He appears for a few minutes at the beginning and again at the end.  He is a movie mogul and spends all the time we see him in he movie, on the phone.

Arnaud Viard a French actor of whom I know nothing plays Jacques a a suave, French business partner of Anne’s husband.  

The husband has an appointment in Budapest but Anne has a problem with her ears and doesn’t want to fly  and so when Jacques offers to drive her to Paris  where they will meet up in a few days, they all agree that this is a good answer to the problem.

And this is where for me, the disappointment started.  In an old, unreliable car, Anne is driven through the countryside but we see very little of it.  Much time is spent on food and though we see the food we are given little information as to what they are eating. Perhaps this might have saved the movie.

Jacques, of course (well he is a Frenchman) tries to seduce Anne but she manages to fight off his advances until the end when she is saved by raucous horns being blown in the street below.

For me, it was a nothing film and if I had had anything else to do on that afternoon I would have considered it a waste of time.  But what else is one to do on a rainy Thursday.





Movie going

“Fiction writers, magicians, politicians and priests
are the only people rewarded for entertaining us with their lies”
― Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom

I was at a total loss what to write about today.  Then I opened Judy Reeves Prompts and Practices and what jumped out at me? “You’re in a movie theatre”

Well quite coincidentally, I was in a movie theatre on Friday with a friend.  I haven’t been to a movie for months, in fact, since before my latest adventure.  I have read the Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, the UK edition.  My friend hadn’t read the book and so we decided to go to the movies.

We are so lucky here in Wellington.  We have 4 Bijoux movie cinemas, three of which belong to a chain and one that is independent of the others.  We chose to go to our favourite, one of the chain.

We arrived in time to sit and have a cup of tea and a bit of a chat; then we were called into the theatre, the movie was about to start.  These are small theatres seating 100 people at the most. If you have a glass of wine (or in our case tea)or food before the movie starts, you are permitted to take these in with you.  Certainly not something that the big National chains would ever allow.

So we went into the theatre.  The lights were still up as we made our way to our seats.  There were probably only half a dozen others in the theatre and so everybody had room to stretch out.

I enjoyed the movie after I got over the fact that the story was now set in the US and not in and around London as in the book I had read.  It took some time for me to get over the difference in the houses displayed to the houses imagined by me.

Emily Blunt as Rachel was all and more of what I imagined her to be.  She’s an unemployed, alcoholic, divorcee.  Well,that’s enough to make one turn to drink anyway.  She doesn’t tell her flatmate that she has lost her job because of the alcoholism.  Her ex-husband also blames her for his losing his job even though he now seems to have got over it or at least, has found another job.

From the train window,  Rachel watches the inhabitants of the houses in the street where she used to live. One day she sees something that sets her on a trip to places that she doesn’t want to go, or perhaps she does.

In the unlikely event that you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to do so and also encourage you to see the movie.

And in my least pleasant personna – I’m totally envious of
Paula Hawkins and her abilities.
How I wish I could write such a book.

And now as the south wind is blowing very strongly, I think the rest of the day will be spent inside.

I have been honoured by being sent the manuscript of a new Fitzjohn mystery from Jill Paterson.  Poisoned Palette is the title and if her other books are anything to go by, this will be another good read.  By the way, Jill is a friend and it is as a friend that I am reading and commenting on the manuscript.

I found this on Pinterest. I hope I'm not impinging on anyone copyright.

I found this on Pinterest. I hope I’m not impinging on anyone copyright.

More movies

I haven’t written about movies for a while, and so I thought that this would be a good time to do so.

We have seen several movies over the past few months and a few stand out in memory  Isn’t it amazing how often you see a movie, talk about it on the way home and then forget about it.

Well Les Miserables was a stand out movie and one I won’t forget.  I didn’t want to go as I really disliked the stage play that my DYS and I had seen years ago in Melbourne, Australia.  I felt that the show did little in portraying Victor Hugo’s classic which I had read many years before and which remains one of my favourites.  So having made this quite clear I reluctantly accompanied my friend to the cinema.  And I was not disappointed. I hated the movie.  Oh I know you are all agog that I could say that.  So many of my friends and acquaintances loved it – but not me.

A week or so later we saw Amour.  This soul-searching French movie left us speechless.  It was the story of Ann and Georges a past middle age couple who in the opening scenes are active and happy.  But Anne has a stroke and though her mind remains sharp, her motor skills have started to fail her.  An upsetting scene was when she was  in the bathroom and she had to call for  Georges.  We see him helping her up from the lavatory, pulling up her underwear and we see her looking over his shoulder with a look of resignation and some disgust that she has to rely on him so much.

The spiralling downhill of her health and therefore, their lives is frightening and reminds us that dementia and ill health respect nobody.

It was clear to us why this movie and the female actress won so many nominations in so many film festivals.  And at the end of the movie and after the credits had rolled and the lights came up nobody moved.  I think we were all shattered.

After that we saw QuartetThis is a comedy/drama tale about four aging musicians who reside in a retirement home for musicians.  The cast is made up of many well known British stars and a panoply of real life musicians comprise the supporting cast .  There is a tribute to these people at the end of the movie when we see them as they looked in their prime.

This is a lighthearted movie that I would recommend to anybody.  Pauline Collins is a delight as the scatterbrained Cissy who keeps repeating the phrase “Getting old is not for Cissies”.  Dame Maggie Smith as the latecomer diva Jean joins Cissy, Reg played by Tom Courtenay and the irrepressible Billy Connolly  as Wilf.  I would recommend this movie if you are looking for a movie that doesn’t cause you too many bad dreams.

We saw Performance a not to be missed movie about a string quartet and how they each react when the cellist and the leader of the group tells them that he may not be able to continue as he has early symptoms of Parkinson’s.  He really is portrayed as the spiritual leader of the group.  The quartet consists of the cellist two violins and a viola.  The group have been together for 25 years and Peter, the second violinist  is married to Juliet the violist.  We see how the other three react at the news and we watch the changes in the group wrought by the news.

The looming crisis drives a wedge into the clearly troubled marriage of the violist and the second violinist.   They have a twenty something daughter who gets physically involved with the first violinist, much to the dismay of her parents of course.

Lots of angst and soul-searching but another movie I strongly recommend to you.

And finally Barbara.  All I knew about the film was that it was set in East Germany before the wall came down and Barbara a doctor  is banished to a small medical centre in the provinces.  At no tine during the movie did we find out what her crime was – a brief comment about ‘her incarceration’ was made early in the film but no explanation followed.  We watch as Barbara is subjected to constant supervision and suffers the harassment  of  a local menacing state officer who searches her home and her person (of course carried out by an equally menacing woman) without complaint.  We understand that she cannot complain.

From her initial desire to keep to herself, Barbara forms a strong bond with a young runaway patient and over time she finds herself drawn to her boss, Andre, the head of the hospital.  We see her as she keeps a tryst with her lover, a West German, although it is difficult to accept that she can do so as she appears to be under constant surveillance.  And we never find out what he is doing in this remote area.

However, after we saw the film we picked up a leaflet at the cinema.  Had we done so earlier it would have made so much more sense to the film.  Barbara’s crime was wanting to escape to the west.  The young girl whom she befriends is in a state run orphanage and the young people are very badly treated and so constantly try to run away.

I am in two minds about this movie.  I don’t know hat I would recommend it, but if you do go to see it please find out some of the background before you do.

And here endeth my tour of the recent movies.  Some I have loved, two that come to you highly recommended, one that was thought provoking and rather close to home, one that I really did not like and one other about which I have reservations.  But make up your own minds if you see any or all of these movies.

“Everything I learned I learned from the
― Audrey Hepburn

Greetings from the Middle of Middle Earth

The Hobbit fever/mania has been building up here in Wellington, New Zealand culminating in the world premier of The Hobbit today.  And according to our daily paper today’s date is Hevensday, Blotmath 28,2012.

To get into the spirit of things today we went for a walk to see for ourselves and to enjoy some of the excitement.  We walked through the crowds gathered at the side of the red carpet that has been laid along Courtenay Place in the central city.  It was a beautiful Wellington Day – as we say “You can’t beat Wellington on a good day” whether we are talking about our weather, our sporting heroes or our movie friends.

Some 100,000 fans have flocked into our city to see the stars arrive for the premier.  Streets around The Embassy Theatre are closed to traffic and many people have firmly staked their place along the red carpet having been there since early yesterday evening hoping to get really close to the stars who will walk along the red carpet to The Embassy where the premier will be shown.  Click here to see what we are watching at 6 pm on Wednesday 28 November 2012.  Earlier Sir Peter Jackson talked about making the movie, then a chat with Sir Peter’s daughter, Kate and some of the cast members and also some of the others who were involved in bringing this story to the screen.

All around town, there are flags declaring this is Middle of Middle Earth, people are sporting tee-shirts also declaring this, NZ Post has a series of stamps both to use and to keep commemorating this event.  Passengers flying into  Wellington International Airport are greeted by a gigantic sculpture of Gollum

Hobbit at Wellington Airport

and even the National Carrier, Air New Zealand has had a 777-300 aircraft painted  in Hobbit-theme initially to bring cast and crew to Wellington for the premier, and after to fly the Auckland Los Angeles London route.  They also released the “Unexpected Briefing” in-flight safety video – viewed over 10 million times on YouTube.  If you haven’t seen it, click on the link now.  It’s really innovative.

Last week a huge installation appeared on the verandah of The Embassy Theatre – including a Gandalf sculpture and what appears to be the front of a Hobbit house.  Again traffic was stopped in the surrounding streets to allow this installation to happen.

So now we are off to get together a simple meal so we can enjoy the rest of the partying.  As my friend lives only one street away from Courtenay Place, the centre of the activity, we can hear the noise from his apartment.  But it is a very happy noise telling us that thousands are enjoying themselves and the spectacle.


























One of my all time favourite movies is The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.  An Australian movie made in 1994 starring Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce.  The plot follows the journey of two drag queens  and a transsexual across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs in a tour bus that they have named “Priscilla”.

Poster via Wikipedia

The purpose of the journey is to perform at Lasseter’s Hotel Casino Resort in Alice Springs managed by a female friend of Anthony “Tick” Belrose (Hugo Weaving) named Marion.  Alice springs is a remote town in central Australia some 2770 km, or 1721 miles from Sydney.  Remember Neville Shute‘s A Town Like Alice? But maybe that is a little (or a lot) before your time.

The journey takes them through remote areas bordering the Simpson Desert where they encounter different reactions to their lifestyle.  When the bus breaks down in the desert they meet Bob  a middle-aged mechanic from a small outback town who joins them on their journey and a  group of friendly Australian Aborigines for whom and with whom they perform I Will Survive.

They also encounter the less accepting attitudes of rural Australia and are subjected to homophobic abuse and even violence, and in Alice Springs having their tour bus vandalised with the words “AIDS fuckers go home”

The opening song of the entertainment at the Casino Resort is I’ve Never Been To Me and this seems to sum up the lives of the three unlikely stars of the movie.

“Please lady please lady
don’t just walk away
Cause I have this need to tell you
why I’m alone today
I can see so much of me
still living in your eyes
won’t you share a part
of a weary heart that has lived a million lives..”

The film is part comedy, plenty of one liners and some pathos but well worth seeing I think if you get the chance all these years later.  The twister is that Marion and Tick are married and have an 8-year-old son whom Tick hasn’t seen for many years.  Bob the mechanic and Bernadette the transsexual form an unlikely relationship/ friendship and they decide to stay in Alice Springs at the end of the four-week engagement.

And the film’s title?  It’s pun on the fact that in English speaking cultures, “queen” is a slang term for a male homosexual.



Clapping hands

Note – This is Blog No 501.  Worthy of applause? Now for tonight’s blog.

Tonight we went to the movies.  Yes again.  The choice of movies at our local bijoux theatre was good – The Wish, Your Sister’s Sister, On The Road and more, and we chose Hysteria.

It is described as a romp through London in the late 1800s when Hysteria was a catch-all phrase for many women’s problems.  Click here to see the trailer.

I thought it was all terribly ‘tongue in cheek’ until I looked up our good friends at Wikipedia.  Here we learn “hysteria was a once-common medical diagnosis, made exclusively in women, which is today no longer recognized by modern medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment were routine for many hundreds of years in Western Europe.”

It appears that there really was a Dr (Joseph) Mortimer Granville who invented the electro-mechanical vibrator as a means to achieve this ‘paroxysm” in his female patients without his (the doctor) having to stand for up to an hour administering the ‘pelvic massage’.  There had been an earlier invention by an American physician,  a steam-powered vibrator called ‘The Manipulator’ .  Granville’s invention was rapidly followed by other contraptions none of which could be manipulated away from the doctor’s surgery.

Sears catalogue advertising vibrator

A 1918 Sears, Roebuck and Co. ad with several models of vibrators. via Wikipedia

Then along came electricity giving the ability to use vibrators in one’s own home, then of course, came all sorts of battery operated toys including vibrators.  And if we are to believe all we are told millions of vibrators reside in homes around the world.  But no,  I won’t ask if you have one.

Saturday Once Again


Six word Saturday button

It’s time once again for six word Saturday and today my six words are

“Let them eat cake, she said”

Want to play along? All that’s necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words – click here for more details.

I have just seen the movie “Farewell My Queen”.  A French movie with a German actress in the starring role.  Here we are shown (for the first time in my experience) the Revolution as seen by a servant.

We are introduced to Versailles in July 1789.  Unrest is growing in the court of King Louis the XVI. The people are rebelling – a revolution is imminent.  It is sweeping from Paris towards the court, and the bejewelled, befuddled aristocrats are only now awakening  to discover that they are in the way of a growing and impressive movement of the people and it  will not stop for them.

We are shown behind the facades of the royal palaces where fleeing is on everyone’s mind, including Queen Marie Antoinette and her entourage.  The story is told  through the eyes of one of her ladies-in-waiting Sidonie Laborde    Sidonie is the Queen’s reader and  has become quite intimate with her. We are shown this intimacy growing and a relationship of trust develops.  With the Queen  and with great amazement, Sidonie experiences the first hours of the French Revolution.  Her  misplaced loyalty and conscious self-sacrifice  prove to be her undoing.

We all know that while France and its inhabitants have been starving, the court and its entourages /sycophants have been filling  themselves with expensive delicacies.  We are shown one scene where one of the maids complains about the bread and the retort is that whole families could live on that for a week.  We are given glimpses of the relationship between the classes of French society and the way the lower servant classes spy on, fantasize about and interact with the other upper classes.

In Paris, a list has been drawn up of 286 aristo heads set to roll. And people on the street have not only stopped showing respect for the king, many are waving pitchforks and torches in his direction. It’s July 14, 1789, and within days, the world will be turned upside down.  Once this list becomes known the nobles and gentlemen and ladies of the court fall over themselves int heir efforts to escape.

We see little of  King Louis XVI whose surprising choice to return to Paris on his own and face down the insurrection puts him way above the cowardly fugitives in his court.

We are shown the Queen as a weak willed woman, led by her husband but also by her appetites for gratification.  One of these leads her to an infatuation/love affair with Mme. de Polinac which she doesn’t try to hide.  But when she tells her lover to flee the country and Mme de Polinac agrees she feels betrayed and abandoned by her.  However, she convinces the young Sidonie to dress herself and act as Polinac so that an escape can be achieved.

This is a movie that is worth seeing even if only for the way it portrays the other side of the story of the Revolution.  How it impacts on a lowly maid in the service of the Queen and her ultimate sacrifice for her.


The Way

A good friend walked part of the Camino de Santiago a couple of years ago and when we saw that this movie was being shown at one of our local cinemas we knew we had to go.

Do you know of the Camino?  It is a Catholic pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.  For more than 1,000 years pilgrims have traveled along the many Caminos/walking trails to Santiago. The trails  originate in various parts of Europe, some start and finish in Spain, and they all converge on Santiago de Compostela .

The most popular Camino walking trail is the Camino Frances. This part of the Camino de Santiago traditionally starts in St Jean Pied de Port in France and finishes some 780 kms later in Santiago de Compostela.  However you can start anywhere and even continue past Santiago to the sea at Finisterre.  Cape Finisterre was thought to be the end of the world in medieval times.

Now to the film.  Thomas Avery (Martin Sheen) is an American ophthalmologist who goes to France to retrieve the body of his son who was killed during a storm while walking the Camino.  After some soul-searching and to honour his son’s wishes to complete the journey, Tom decides to walk the ancient spiritual trail where his son died.  He decides to scatter his son’s ashes at various points along the way.  But he is an inexperienced distance walker (trekker) and he finds the going hard.

On his journey he falls in with three other pilgrims and together they make the journey across France and Spain to their destination.  Each is walking the camino for his/her own reasons and to solve a particular dilemma and during the walk Tom comes to realise that there is so much more to live for than his ‘ordinary’ life back in the States.

This is a movie well worth seeing if it comes to your area.  It is a collaboration between Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez who wrote and directed the movie. Estevez plays the role of the son in the movie. I imagine that it will have an effect on many who see this film even to the extent that some might decide to walk part or perhaps even the whole trail.

The Way is not bound up with religion although it ends in the Catholic Cathedral of St James.  For me it spoke of   finding out who we are and about living our lives in the company of others, fully aware of our surroundings, ourselves and others.

And one of the things that we do see in the movie, and which my friend also witnessed was the swinging of the Thurible – the huge incense burner that takes eight men to swing it.  Apparently this was a necessary piece of equipment in the olden days when pilgrims walked the track with no access to water for bathing and arrived at the journey’s end smiling and smelling.  The smell of the incense was to cover the other smells.


For more on the Thurible (or The Botafumeiro) at the Cathedral see

“One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting their bad advice..”
From The Journey by Mary Oliver.

for the rest of this Mary Oliver poem click here.

Comme Un Chef

Once a month our local bijoux cinema in concert with Alliance Francais shows a French movie.  These are all wildly widely supported and we always try to see them.  This month’s offering was Comme Un Chef (The Chef).

A self-trained cook with haute-cuisine ambitions, Jacky (Michael Youn) gets sacked from a series of menial cooking jobs for taking exception to his customers’ taste. He even gets fired from a fast food restaurant where the customers want everything with fries.

Beatrice (Raphaelle Agogue), Jacky’s heavily pregnant girlfriend, tries to halt their financial meltdown by arranging a handyman position for him at an old folks home, but even here while he is painting the window frames, he can’t resist the  call of the kitchen.

But rather than tell you the story why don’t you watch the trailer.

We thoroughly enjoyed it and laughed as loudly as the rest of the audience.  I hope you get the opportunity to see this movie when it comes to your area.  I wasn’t even aware that I was reading the subtitles.  The body language and my school girl French (and of course the subtitles) allowed me to follow without a problem.

“The best way to appreciate your job is
to imagine yourself without one”
Oscar Wilde

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Cinema should make you forget you are sitting
in a theater.
Roman Polanski

Have you seen the movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen?  This British 2011 film has just arrived on our shores.  A local Rotary Club had it as a fund raiser and we went along to see it tonight.


Poster via Wikipedia

Britain’s leading fisheries expert, Dr Alfred (Fred) Jones, is approached by a consultant representing a wealthy Yemeni sheik  to help fulfill his vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing for salmon to the desert.   Needless to say, he thinks the project is absurd and unachievable – salmon are cold water fish and they need water.  The desert is hot and dry.  Obviously unachievable.  He declines to help.

But the Prime Minister’s press secretary is looking for a ‘good news’ story and when she hears of this project decides that it is just what the people of the UK need to take their minds away from the grim news coming out of Afghanistan.

She pressures  Fred into working with Harriet, the consultant and the sheik to implement the project. Over time, he gradually comes to believe in the sheik’s quest and of course, fall in love with the lovely Harriet.

Things become complicated when immediately after he declares his love, Harriet’s boyfriend arrives in Yemen (courteousy of the British Government via the PM’s press secretary).  He had been missing in action in Afghanistan and presumed dead.

For the ending of this delightful tale you will have to see the movie yourself.  Suffice to say there is no violence, some lovemaking, a smidgen of coarse language (from the press secretary), some skullduggery but in all it deserves its “M” rating.

Click here for the movie trailer on Youtube.

The main characters are played by:

I whole-heartedly recommend this movie as a welcome break from all the sex and violence being portrayed in most of the other movies currently on offer.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.
Now put foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau