Tag Archives: movies

Night Train to Lisbon

 

Thanks to AMK Lakelett, one of the authors I follow I was reminded of this movie.  Have you seen it?  It is based on the book of the same name by Pascal Mercier, a Swiss writer, and philosopher.  Pascal Mercier is the pseudonym of Peter Bieri, who studied philosophy, English studies and Indian studies in both London and Heidelberg.

Raimund Gregorius (Jeremy Irons) is a stuffy academic teaching Latin at a college in Bern.  One day, on the way to work, he stops a young woman from jumping off a bridge.  He takes her with him to the college but she runs off leaving her coat and a book with a ticket for the train to Lisbon.

Leaving everything behind, yes everything, he rushes to the station and when he can’t find the young woman, he takes the night train to Lisbon.  He becomes entranced by the book she was carrying.  Amadeu de Prado, the (fictional) author is a Portuguese essayist and doctor. Through the writings, in the book the author explores the ideas of friendship, love, loneliness, and death.  Gregorius becomes determined to track down the author or at least find out about him and his life.

His investigations take him to the doctor’s home where he meets the sister (Charlotte Rampling), who acts as if the author is still alive.  His further investigations then lead him all over Lisbon as he meets with his teacher and friends, and those who were involved in the author’s life both as revolutionaries and in his professional life.

Through Mariana (Martina Gedeck), a friendly optician who assures Raimund that he is not boring, he meets her aged Uncle Joao (Tom Courtenay), another member of the resistance who rebelled against Salazar’s dictatorship. Prado is quoted” ‘When dictatorship is a factrevolution is a duty”.’

This is a fascinating film, showing what can happen when one man walks away from all that he has known, to pursue a whim. The film was not greeted with much acclaim by reviewers, but I enjoyed it and am now off to get a copy of the book from the library.

 

 

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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
movies.”
― Audrey Hepburn

Priscilla

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.

 

Hysteria

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.

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

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

And the winner is…

Movie poster

Well I was going to write about this film.  We saw it last week but now everyone knows about it because of its Oscar Best Actor award for Jean Dujardin

By now you all know the story of George Valentin a silentmovie great who refuses to acknowledge the advent of the talkies and is sure that it will never take off.

When he is at his height he befriends a new comer and yes you have guessed it, she becomes a hit of the talkies and an even greater star.  He falls from grace and is reduced to selling his artifacts and belongings and yes, again you have guessed it, she has somebody at the auction to buy everything.

The plot could have been written by any one of us .  The acting, minus a sound track, is no doubt what won the best actor award for Jean Dujardin but for me the actress who played Peppy – Bérénice Bejo – stole the show.

And again for me, the highlight of the movie was the tap dancing which the pair perform together at the end of the movie – click here to watch if you haven’t already seen the film.  Or even if you have, it’s worth a second or third, or fourth watch.  This is worthy of comparison with Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell – click here to see their dance routine.

No doubt the move away from the norm was much of the appeal of the movie to the powers that be, but frankly if left me thinking that I had seen so many much better movies during the year.

Film poster

poster via Wikipedia

Last week we also saw The Descendants.  Of course any movie starring George Clooney has my vote.  In this he really shows his acting skill, demonstrating that he is so very much more than just a pretty face.

Once again, you no doubt know the story.

Matt King is a Honolulu-based lawyer and the sole trustee of a family trust that controls 25,000 acres of pristine land on the island of Kaua’i. The  rule against perpetuities means the trust will expire in seven years so the family decides to sell the land for development.   Just before the family formally endorses the deal Matt’s wife Elizabeth is involved in a boating accident and rendered comatose.

There are two daughters, 10-year-old Scottie and 17-year-old Alex.  Matt is not very close to his daughters but with his wife in a coma he is forced to confront Scottie’s inappropriate behavior with other children and Alex’s destructive behaviors.

Of course, as in all good stories the family pulls together when it is clear that the decision has to be made to pull the plug on Elizabeth.  Meantime, Matt discovers through his elder daughter that Elizabeth has been having an affair with the developer ti whom the trust proposes to sell the land on Kaua’i.

In a scene which for me, shows Clooney’s talents well, he confronts the developer and invites him to his wife’s bedside so that he can say his goodbye.  Of course, the developer does not attend, but instead his wife does.

It is a convoluted story but to my mind, much more interesting than the ‘hackneyed’ story told in The Artist.

Monday Meandering

Go down to Kew in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac-time;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London).
And you shall wander hand in hand with love in summer’s wonderland;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London).
Alfred Noyes, The Barrel Organ

I received an email from my sister in Los Angeles asking if I remembered the day that a neighbour’s lilac tree fell down.  She went on to say how she remembered the neighbour commenting that she was unaware how dark her kitchen was – over the years, the bush had completely covered the window, and suddenly there was sunlight in the room.

Lilac

This set me off on thinking about lilacs and immediately I remembered the song “On the street where you live” from My Fair Lady.  This was a great hit in the late 1950s (Oh I know that was long before most of you were born but bear with me).

“Are there lilac trees in the heart of town
Can you hear a lark in any other part of town
Does enchantment pour out of every door?
No, it’s just on the street where you live
click here
to see the video from the original movie

Then I was off thinking about other musicals that I saw in those dim dark off days.

Carousel posterA particular favourite was “Carousel”.  This is the story of Billy Bigelow, a carousel barker  and his romance with Julie Jordan, a millworker.  They marry and when he discovers that Julie is pregnant and his is about to become a father he sings the famous soliloquy  “My boy Bill.  Then when “realises that he can’t provide for Julie and the baby he attempts a robbery to do so; it goes wrong and he kills himself rather than spend the rest of his life jail.

Some fifteen years later he has the opportunity to return to earth and sees his Julie and her daughter one time.

A secondary story line has Julie’s  friend Carrie falling in love with and marrying Mr Snow a fisherman.

Carousel was made into a movie in about 1956.  So of course, I went to see it too.

Other well known (and remembered by some of us)songs  include:

  • “When the Children Are Asleep””
  • “(When I Marry) Mister Snow”
  • “If I Loved You” – Listen here to this song
  • “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over”
    “Soliloquy” –
  • “What’s the Use of Wond’rin’?”
  • “You’ll Never Walk Alone”

Pajama GameThen I thought of “The Pajama Game“.  Great memories of this musical.  My dashing-young-Scotsman and I had just announced our engagement (August 1957) and to celebrate he took my parents and me  to the St James Theatre (in London of course) to see this musical. We had a box at the theatre, one of the only times for me and I thought us very grand.

A memory of that night has surfaced.  We all arrived  home to find that my young sister had been carted off to hospital having had an accident on her bicycle.  No cell phones to call with the news then; we had to wait to get home when my grandparents (or was it my older sister) gave us the news.  Note here – we all have hard heads and she was discharged into Mother’s care that night.

The story is set in a factory producing pajamas.  The employees want a rise of 7.5 cents an hour and a strike is imminent led by Babe.  Sid, a new superintendent comes to the factory and these two are on opposite sides of the story.

Yes, you’ve guessed it.  After several false starts and hiccups, they fall in love.

So many great songs came from that one including the very popular “Hey There” sung by Canadian, Edmund Hockridge.  Here’s a version of the song sung by Harry Connick jr – sorry I couldn’t find a YouTube version by Edmund Hockridge.  This one is great too.

Other songs included :

  • “I’m Not At All in Love”
  • “Hey there
  • “Her Is” – Prez and Gladys
  • “Once a Year Day”
  • “Steam Heat”
  • “There Once Was a Man”
  • “Small Talk”
  • “Hernando’s Hideaway”
Kismet

Imasge via Wikipedia

I saw Kismet – meaning fate or predestined course – the story of a poet and his daughter.  The poet enters the mosque to sell his verses but without success.

His beautiful daughter Marsinah  is then sent to steal oranges in the Bazaar for their breakfast, while her father sits down to beg with three others.  When the beggars object the poet claims to be a cousin of Hajj a beggar who has travelled to Mecca. However, Hassen-Ben, a  man from the desert, mistakes him for Hajj and kidnaps him. The poet (who is referred to as Hajj thereafter) is taken to a notorious brigand. It appears that some years before the real Hajj had placed a curse on the brigand that resulted in the disappearance of the brigand’s little son. Now he wants the curse removed.

Of course, there are stories within stories.  Wazir a merchant must have the Caliph marry one of the princesses of Ababu or he will be ruined.  But the Caliph, masquerading as a commoner, has seen Marsinah and is determined to marry her.  As you can imagine, all turns out well in the end for the couple.

Two great songs from this one are :

  • “Baubles, Bangles and Beads”
  • “Stranger in Paradise”. Click here for Tony Bennet’s version of this wonderful song. Note – after posting this blog I found this lovely version of Tony Bennet singing with Hedy Lamarr’s pictures.  Just fantastic.

The King and IAnd finally, The King and I.  Who hasn’t seen the movie but I saw the stage show.

We all know the story, based on the book “Anna and the King of Siam”.  Anna goes to Siam to be the Governess to the King’s children.

The well known scene of Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr dancing to “Shall We Dance” was supposed to be the governess’s way of describing western love to this eastern potentate.

Anna and the King disagree over the fact that she and her small son are expected to stay in the palace while her contract stipulates a separate house.  This is the ongoing conflict between the two.  He also objects to the way in which she is teaching the children.

Their attraction to each other is evident throughout but of course, nothing can come of it.  We later see that after various other trials and tribulations Anna is packed and ready to board a ship leaving Siam forever when a letter is brought from the King who is dying.  Anna hurries to his bedside and forgives him.

So all works out well once again!

And the songs from this musical:

  • Hello Young Lovers
  • Shall we Dance?
  • I Whistle a Happy Tune
  • We Kiss in the Shadow
  • Something Wonderful
  • I Have Dreamed
  • Getting to Know You – Julie Andrews sings here.

How innocent the story lines and the music in all of these musicals!  But what great memories they invoke.

And back to the original thoughts for this post – Lilacs

“I am thinking of the lilac-trees,
That shook their purple plumes,
And when the sash was open,
Shed fragrance through the room.”
Mrs. Anna S. Stephens, The Old Apple-Tree

Special thanks to my sister in Los Angeles for the inspiration for this post.

Sisters

Oh so very long ago.

“We each hear different drummers,
but still find music to dance together.”
Judith Baxter
, Sister, friend and confidante
1938 –