Saturday, April 30, 2022
Friday, April 29, 2022
If you don't usually check there, you might want to.
No telling what you're not seeing.)
To Be or Not To Be is a 1942 black comedy. It's directed by Ernst Lubitsch and stars Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack, Felix Bressart, and Lionel Atwill. The plot concerns a troupe of actors in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who use their abilities at disguise and acting to fool the occupying troops. It was Lombard's last film, released just a month after her death in an airplane crash when she was only 33 years old. She was returning to Los Angeles from a war bond rally. It's considered a comedy classic. I have the DVD but watched it on HBO Max.
FilmSite opens its glowing review with this:
Berlin Germany-born director Ernst Lubitsch's sophisticated screwball masterpiece, with satirical comedy, romance, and suspense. The controversial anti-war comedy about espionage and politics from producer Alexander Korda - marked by incisive black humor - was a bold cinematic work during the World War II years that skewered and lampooned the tyrannical leader Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and the Third Reich, while still being completely entertaining in its story of marital conflict.Deep Focus Review has historical context. Rotten Tomatoes has a concensus score of 96%.
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
The explosion of the ship Sultana is the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history.
On April 27, 1865, the overloaded ship (built for 376 passengers, but carrying 2,427) exploded and sank just north of Memphis. According to Wikipedia, the official count by the United States Customs Service of those who died is 1,800. Final estimates of survivors are about 550. Many of the dead were interred at the Memphis National Cemetery. Three victims of the wreck of the Sultana are interred at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis. There's a museum in Arkansas not far from here.
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Hector and the Search for Happiness is a 2014 comedy drama film starring Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike, Stellan Skarsgård, Jean Reno, Veronica Ferres, and Christopher Plummer. I think this is delightful, but most professional reviewers didn't agree. Well, what do they know, right? You can watch it free on Tubi. It's also on Amazon Prime.
Here's a screenshot from the Tubi video:
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Monday, April 25, 2022
Buffalo Bill and the Indians is an ensemble piece with an episodic structure. It follows the day to day performances and behind-the-scenes intrigues of Buffalo Bill Cody's famous "Wild West Show", a hugely popular 1880s entertainment spectacular that starred the former Indian fighter, scout and buffalo hunter. Altman uses the setting to criticize Old West motifs, presenting the eponymous western hero as a show-biz creation who can no longer separate his invented image from reality.I watched it on Tubi through Roku on my TV.
Spirituality and Practice says it "Explores the interface between heroes, hypocrisy, and illusions in the Wild West."
Sunday, April 24, 2022
Saturday, April 23, 2022
|Arthur John Elsley|
The Joy Of Spring, 1911
Ode: Intimations of Immortality has 11 stanzas in 3 movements. You can read it in its entirety here and here. It begins:
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,Listen to it here:
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
The author William Wordsworth died on this date in 1850 of pleurisy at the age of 80. I'm not much for poetry, but this strikes me as especially apt for springtime contemplation.
Friday, April 22, 2022
Moria Reviews concludes with an explanation of the difference between the western-style vampire and this Japanese version.
Thursday, April 21, 2022
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Here's a screenshot from the beginning of the movie:
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Monday, April 18, 2022
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 88%. Roger Ebert's site has a positive review.
Sunday, April 17, 2022
"There is a wild beast in your woods," said the artist Cunningham, as he was being driven to the station. It was the only remark he had made during the drive, but as Van Cheele had talked incessantly his companion's silence had not been noticeable.
"A stray fox or two and some resident weasels. Nothing more formidable," said Van Cheele. The artist said nothing.
"What did you mean about a wild beast?" said Van Cheele later, when they were on the platform.
"Nothing. My imagination. Here is the train," said Cunningham.
That afternoon Van Cheele went for one of his frequent rambles through his woodland property. He had a stuffed bittern in his study, and knew the names of quite a number of wild flowers, so his aunt had possibly some justification in describing him as a great naturalist. At any rate, he was a great walker. It was his custom to take mental notes of everything he saw during his walks, not so much for the purpose of assisting contemporary science as to provide topics for conversation afterwards. When the bluebells began to show themselves in flower he made a point of informing every one of the fact; the season of the year might have warned his hearers of the likelihood of such an occurrence, but at least they felt that he was being absolutely frank with them.
What Van Cheele saw on this particular afternoon was, however, something far removed from his ordinary range of experience. On a shelf of smooth stone overhanging a deep pool in the hollow of an oak coppice a boy of about sixteen lay asprawl, drying his wet brown limbs luxuriously in the sun. His wet hair, parted by a recent dive, lay close to his head, and his light-brown eyes, so light that there was an almost tigerish gleam in them, were turned towards Van Cheele with a certain lazy watchfulness. It was an unexpected apparition, and Van Cheele found himself engaged in the novel process of thinking before he spoke. Where on earth could this wild-looking boy hail from? The miller's wife had lost a child some two months ago, supposed to have been swept away by the mill-race, but that had been a mere baby, not a half-grown lad.
"What are you doing there?" he demanded.
"Obviously, sunning myself," replied the boy.
"Where do you live?"
"Here, in these woods."
"You can't live in the woods," said Van Cheele.
"They are very nice woods," said the boy, with a touch of patronage in his voice.
"But where do you sleep at night?"
"I don't sleep at night; that's my busiest time."
Van Cheele began to have an irritated feeling that he was grappling with a problem that was eluding him.
"What do you feed on?" he asked.
"Flesh," said the boy, and he pronounced the word with slow relish, as though he were tasting it.
Saturday, April 16, 2022
Friday, April 15, 2022
Mrs. Baroda was a little provoked to learn that her husband expected his friend, Gouvernail, up to spend a week or two on the plantation.
They had entertained a good deal during the winter; much of the time had also been passed in New Orleans in various forms of mild dissipation. She was looking forward to a period of unbroken rest, now, and undisturbed tete-a-tete with her husband, when he informed her that Gouvernail was coming up to stay a week or two.
This was a man she had heard much of but never seen. He had been her husband's college friend; was now a journalist, and in no sense a society man or "a man about town," which were, perhaps, some of the reasons she had never met him. But she had unconsciously formed an image of him in her mind. She pictured him tall, slim, cynical; with eye-glasses, and his hands in his pockets; and she did not like him. Gouvernail was slim enough, but he wasn't very tall nor very cynical; neither did he wear eyeglasses nor carry his hands in his pockets. And she rather liked him when he first presented himself.
But why she liked him she could not explain satisfactorily to herself when she partly attempted to do so. She could discover in him none of those brilliant and promising traits which Gaston, her husband, had often assured her that he possessed. On the contrary, he sat rather mute and receptive before her chatty eagerness to make him feel at home and in face of Gaston's frank and wordy hospitality. His manner was as courteous toward her as the most exacting woman could require; but he made no direct appeal to her approval or even esteem.
Once settled at the plantation he seemed to like to sit upon the wide portico in the shade of one of the big Corinthian pillars, smoking his cigar lazily and listening attentively to Gaston's experience as a sugar planter.
"This is what I call living," he would utter with deep satisfaction, as the air that swept across the sugar field caressed him with its warm and scented velvety touch. It pleased him also to get on familiar terms with the big dogs that came about him, rubbing themselves sociably against his legs. He did not care to fish, and displayed no eagerness to go out and kill grosbecs when Gaston proposed doing so.
Gouvernail's personality puzzled Mrs. Baroda, but she liked him. Indeed, he was a lovable, inoffensive fellow. After a few days, when she could understand him no better than at first, she gave over being puzzled and remained piqued. In this mood she left her husband and her guest, for the most part, alone together. Then finding that Gouvernail took no manner of exception to her action, she imposed her society upon him, accompanying him in his idle strolls to the mill and walks along the batture. She persistently sought to penetrate the reserve in which he had unconsciously enveloped himself.
"When is he going--your friend?" she one day asked her husband. "For my part, he tires me frightfully."
"Not for a week yet, dear. I can't understand; he gives you no trouble."
"No. I should like him better if he did; if he were more like others, and I had to plan somewhat for his comfort and enjoyment."
Gaston took his wife's pretty face between his hands and looked tenderly and laughingly into her troubled eyes.
They were making a bit of toilet sociably together in Mrs. Baroda's dressing-room.
"You are full of surprises, ma belle," he said to her. "Even I can never count upon how you are going to act under given conditions." He kissed her and turned to fasten his cravat before the mirror.
"Here you are," he went on, "taking poor Gouvernail seriously and making a commotion over him, the last thing he would desire or expect."
"Commotion!" she hotly resented. "Nonsense! How can you say such a thing? Commotion, indeed! But, you know, you said he was clever."
"So he is. But the poor fellow is run down by overwork now. That's why I asked him here to take a rest."
"You used to say he was a man of ideas," she retorted, unconciliated. "I expected him to be interesting, at least. I'm going to the city in the morning to have my spring gowns fitted. Let me know when Mr. Gouvernail is gone; I shall be at my Aunt Octavie's."
That night she went and sat alone upon a bench that stood beneath a live oak tree at the edge of the gravel walk.
She had never known her thoughts or her intentions to be so confused. She could gather nothing from them but the feeling of a distinct necessity to quit her home in the morning.
Mrs. Baroda heard footsteps crunching the gravel; but could discern in the darkness only the approaching red point of a lighted cigar. She knew it was Gouvernail, for her husband did not smoke. She hoped to remain unnoticed, but her white gown revealed her to him. He threw away his cigar and seated himself upon the bench beside her; without a suspicion that she might object to his presence.
"Your husband told me to bring this to you, Mrs. Baroda," he said, handing her a filmy, white scarf with which she sometimes enveloped her head and shoulders. She accepted the scarf from him with a murmur of thanks, and let it lie in her lap.
He made some commonplace observation upon the baneful effect of the night air at the season. Then as his gaze reached out into the darkness, he murmured, half to himself:
"`Night of south winds--night of the large few stars!
Still nodding night--'"
She made no reply to this apostrophe to the night, which, indeed, was not addressed to her.
Gouvernail was in no sense a diffident man, for he was not a self-conscious one. His periods of reserve were not constitutional, but the result of moods. Sitting there beside Mrs. Baroda, his silence melted for the time.
He talked freely and intimately in a low, hesitating drawl that was not unpleasant to hear. He talked of the old college days when he and Gaston had been a good deal to each other; of the days of keen and blind ambitions and large intentions. Now there was left with him, at least, a philosophic acquiescence to the existing order--only a desire to be permitted to exist, with now and then a little whiff of genuine life, such as he was breathing now.
Her mind only vaguely grasped what he was saying. Her physical being was for the moment predominant. She was not thinking of his words, only drinking in the tones of his voice. She wanted to reach out her hand in the darkness and touch him with the sensitive tips of her fingers upon the face or the lips. She wanted to draw close to him and whisper against his cheek--she did not care what--as she might have done if she had not been a respectable woman.
The stronger the impulse grew to bring herself near him, the further, in fact, did she draw away from him. As soon as she could do so without an appearance of too great rudeness, she rose and left him there alone.
Before she reached the house, Gouvernail had lighted a fresh cigar and ended his apostrophe to the night.
Mrs. Baroda was greatly tempted that night to tell her husband--who was also her friend--of this folly that had seized her. But she did not yield to the temptation. Beside being a respectable woman she was a very sensible one; and she knew there are some battles in life which a human being must fight alone.
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Reviews were mixed; don't listen to them.
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
The Reverend Curtis Hartman was pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Winesburg, and had been in that position ten years. He was forty years old, and by his nature very silent and reticent. To preach, standing in the pulpit before the people, was always a hardship for him and from Wednesday morning until Saturday evening he thought of nothing but the two sermons that must be preached on Sunday. Early on Sunday morning he went into a little room called a study in the bell tower of the church and prayed. In his prayers there was one note that always predominated. “Give me strength and courage for Thy work, O Lord!” he pleaded, kneeling on the bare floor and bowing his head in the presence of the task that lay before him.
The Reverend Hartman was a tall man with a brown beard. His wife, a stout, nervous woman, was the daughter of a manufacturer of underwear at Cleveland, Ohio. The minister himself was rather a favorite in the town. The elders of the church liked him because he was quiet and unpretentious and Mrs. White, the banker’s wife, thought him scholarly and refined.
The Presbyterian Church held itself somewhat aloof from the other churches of Winesburg. It was larger and more imposing and its minister was better paid. He even had a carriage of his own and on summer evenings sometimes drove about town with his wife. Through Main Street and up and down Buckeye Street he went, bowing gravely to the people, while his wife, afire with secret pride, looked at him out of the corners of her eyes and worried lest the horse become frightened and run away.
For a good many years after he came to Winesburg things went well with Curtis Hartman. He was not one to arouse keen enthusiasm among the worshippers in his church but on the other hand he made no enemies. In reality he was much in earnest and sometimes suffered prolonged periods of remorse because he could not go crying the word of God in the highways and byways of the town. He wondered if the flame of the spirit really burned in him and dreamed of a day when a strong sweet new current of power would come like a great wind into his voice and his soul and the people would tremble before the spirit of God made manifest in him. “I am a poor stick and that will never really happen to me,” he mused dejectedly, and then a patient smile lit up his features. “Oh well, I suppose I’m doing well enough,” he added philosophically.
The room in the bell tower of the church, where on Sunday mornings the minister prayed for an increase in him of the power of God, had but one window. It was long and narrow and swung outward on a hinge like a door. On the window, made of little leaded panes, was a design showing the Christ laying his hand upon the head of a child. One Sunday morning in the summer as he sat by his desk in the room with a large Bible opened before him, and the sheets of his sermon scattered about, the minister was shocked to see, in the upper room of the house next door, a woman lying in her bed and smoking a cigarette while she read a book. Curtis Hartman went on tiptoe to the window and closed it softly. He was horror stricken at the thought of a woman smoking and trembled also to think that his eyes, just raised from the pages of the book of God, had looked upon the bare shoulders and white throat of a woman. With his brain in a whirl he went down into the pulpit and preached a long sermon without once thinking of his gestures or his voice. The sermon attracted unusual attention because of its power and clearness. “I wonder if she is listening, if my voice is carrying a message into her soul,” he thought and began to hope that on future Sunday mornings he might be able to say words that would touch and awaken the woman apparently far gone in secret sin.
The house next door to the Presbyterian Church, through the windows of which the minister had seen the sight that had so upset him, was occupied by two women. Aunt Elizabeth Swift, a grey competent-looking widow with money in the Winesburg National Bank, lived there with her daughter Kate Swift, a school teacher. The school teacher was thirty years old and had a neat trim-looking figure. She had few friends and bore a reputation of having a sharp tongue. When he began to think about her, Curtis Hartman remembered that she had been to Europe and had lived for two years in New York City. “Perhaps after all her smoking means nothing,” he thought. He began to remember that when he was a student in college and occasionally read novels, good although somewhat worldly women, had smoked through the pages of a book that had once fallen into his hands. With a rush of new determination he worked on his sermons all through the week and forgot, in his zeal to reach the ears and the soul of this new listener, both his embarrassment in the pulpit and the necessity of prayer in the study on Sunday mornings.
Reverend Hartman’s experience with women had been somewhat limited.
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
via Internet Archive:
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 86%.
Here's a screenshot from the movie for the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering:
Monday, April 11, 2022
He is a 1927 short story by Katherine Anne Porter. You can read it online at this link. It begins,
Life was very hard for the Whipples. It was hard to feed all the hungry mouths, it was hard to keep the children in flannels during the winter, short as it was: “God knows what would become of us if we lived north,” they would say: keeping them decently clean was hard. “It looks like our luck won’t never let up on us,” said Mr. Whipple, but Mrs. Whipple was all for taking what was sent and calling it good, anyhow when the neighbors were in earshot. “Don’t ever let a soul hear us complain,” she kept saying to her husband. She couldn’t stand to be pitied. “No, not if it comes to it that we have to live in a wagon and pick cotton around the country,” she said, “nobody’s going to get a chance to look down on us.“
Mrs. Whipple loved her second son, the simple-minded one, better than she loved the other two children put together. She was forever saying so, and when she talked with certain of her neighbors, she would even throw in her husband and her mother for good measure.
“You needn’t keep on saying it around,” said Mr. Whipple, “you’ll make people think nobody else has any feelings about Him but you. “
“It’s natural for a mother,” Mrs. Whipple would remind him. “You know yourself it’s more natural for a mother to be that way. People don’t expect so much of fathers, some way. “
This didn’t keep the neighbors from talking plainly among themselves. “A Lord’s pure mercy if He should die,” they said. “It’s the sins of the fathers,” they agreed among themselves. “There’s bad blood and bad doings somewhere, you can bet on that. ” This behind the Whipples’ back. To their faces everybody said, “He’s not so bad off. He’ll be all right yet. Look how He grows!”
Mrs. Whipple hated to talk about it, she tried to keep her mind off it, but every time anybody set foot in the house, the subject always came up, and she had to talk about Him first, before she could get on to anything else. It seemed to ease her mind. “I wouldn’t have anything happen to Him for all the world, but it just looks like I can’t keep Him out of mischief. He’s so strong and active, He’s always into everything; He was like that since He could walk. It’s actually funny sometimes, the way He can do anything; it’s laughable to see Him up to His tricks. Emly has more accidents; I’m forever tying up her bruises, and Adna can’t fall a foot without cracking a bone. But He can do anything and not get a scratch. The preacher said such a nice thing once when he was here. He said, and I’ll remember it to my dying day, The innocent walk with God—that’s why He don’t get hurt. ‘” Whenever Mrs. Whipple repeated these words, she always felt a warm pool spread in her breast, and the tears would fill her eyes, and then she could talk about something else.
He did grow and He never got hurt.
Sunday, April 10, 2022
Rotten Tomatoes has an audience rating of 41%.
Saturday, April 09, 2022
Friday, April 08, 2022
Thursday, April 07, 2022
Wednesday, April 06, 2022
Tuesday, April 05, 2022
Monday, April 04, 2022
Sunday, April 03, 2022
Saturday, April 02, 2022