Friday, March 24, 2023

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is a 2021 adult animated dark fantasy film focusing on the origin story of Geralt's mentor and fellow witcher Vesemir, the witcher featured in The Witcher televsion series. This is a wonderful origin story which stands on its own even if you're unfamiliar with the other witcher stories. I watched it on Netflix.

trailer:



Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus rating of 100%.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Curse of Humpty Dumpty

The Curse of Humpty Dumpty is a 2021 horror film. It's one of those evil doll films, which I tend to avoid, but I'm glad I watched this one. The main character is a woman recently diagnosed with dementia. I saw it on Tubi.

trailer:

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance

Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance is a 1972 Japanese sword-fighting film, the first in a series of six films in the Lone Wolf and Cub series based on the manga. This is interesting, and I'm glad The Younger Son introduced me to the series. The father/son pair is sweet. Right now it looks like it's available on Internet Archive. I watched it on HBO Max.

trailer:



Criterion opens its description with this: "The inaugural film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series immediately thrust Itto Ogami into the ranks of the all-time great samurai movie icons." Rotten Tomatoes has an audience consensus score of 90%.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Pinetop's Boogie Woogie

Pinetop's Boogie Woogie:



This is a live version. The song was recorded at Sun Studio by Pinetop Perkins, who died on this date in 2011 at 97 years of age.

Pull up a chair and join me in a cuppa (mine's chamomile) while you listen:



I'll be joining the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Join me?

Monday, March 20, 2023

Wanda

Wanda is a 1970 award-winning American independent drama film written and directed by Barbara Loden, who also stars. Set in the anthracite coal region of eastern Pennsylvania, the film focuses on an apathetic woman with limited options who inadvertently goes on the run with a bank robber. This is definitely re-watchable.

The director died of breast cancer in 1980 at age 48. Wanda is her only feature-length film as director.

I watched it on HBO Max.

via YouTube:

NPR concludes, "Unable to find backing for another film — [the director] wanted to adapt Kate Chopin's The Awakening — Loden died of cancer at age 48. But her legend continues to grow. On the basis of a single movie, posterity has made her a symbol of all the women filmmakers who might have had great careers but never really got the chance." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 92%.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

A Million Ways to Die in the West

A Million Ways to Die in the West is a 2014 American Western black comedy film directed by Seth MacFarlane and starring Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman, and Liam Neeson. This movie is funny, and I liked it well enough as long as you're not expecting much. Critics weren't kind. I watched it on HBO Max.

trailer:

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Death in Paradise 42


This 42 locker key makes an appearance as a key piece of evidence in episode 1 (Murder on the Honoré Express) of the 8th season of the tv series Death in Paradise.

Friday, March 17, 2023

The Scorpion King (2002)

The Scorpion King is a 2002 sword and sorcery action adventure film. Both a prequel and spin-off of The Mummy franchise, it launched The Scorpion King film series. The film marks Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's first lead role. This is another in the category of movies that are great splashy fun to watch but that will never appear on "Great Film" lists. I watched it on Amazon Prime this time, but I had seen it before years ago on one of the kids' DVDs.

trailer:

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Blood Vessel

Blood Vessel (get it? *wink wink*) is a 2019 Australian horror film that takes place in 1945 on a ship. Clever. I enjoyed this one even though there's nothing new here. Don't make it one of the first vampire movies you see, as there are so many better ones out there, but once you've plowed that ground this is a fun addition. I watched it on the Tubi app on Roku, but it's also available free on Tubi online, on Plex, on Vudu, and via multiple other free sources.

trailer:



Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Mr. Arkadin

Mr. Arkadin is a 1955 film directed by and starring Orson Welles. The main character is also the main character in the classic film The Third Man, but the movies aren't dependent on each other so can be viewed separately. That there are multiple versions of this film out there is an interesting story. HBO Max has the Corinth version. You can also see it here at PBS. It's not hard to find free.

Via Daily Motion:



TCM has information. Rotten Tomatoes has an audience score of 80%.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Indiscreet

Indiscreet is a 1958 romantic comedy film starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. I don't tend to like romantic comedies, but we shouldn't let those kinds of prejudices rule us. I'm always willing to try a film in order to broaden my horizons. This is delightful fluff. I watched it on Amazon Prime.

via YouTube:



Here's a screenshot from the movie:



Please post your own drink reference and join us at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Robbing Mussolini

Robbing Mussolini is a 2022 Italian historical comedy-drama film. It was fine enough but no better than that. I watched it on Netflix.

trailer:

 

 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Paris, Texas

Paris, Texas is an award-winning 1984 road movie directed by Wim Wenders and starring Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, and Nastassja Kinski. I like these actors when I find them and enjoyed this movie. from Wikipedia:
The plot focuses on a traumatized man named Travis (Stanton) who, after mysteriously wandering out of the desert in a dissociative fugue, attempts to reunite with his brother (Stockwell) and seven-year-old son (Carson). After reconnecting with his son, Travis and the boy end up embarking on a voyage through the American Southwest to track down Travis' long-missing wife (Kinski).
I watched it on HBO Max.

trailer:



Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies. Rotten Tomatoes has a 94% critics consensus score.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

The Man in the Brown Suit, by Agatha Christie



The Man in the Brown Suit is a 1924 Agatha Christie detective novel. You can read it online here or listen to it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,

PROLOGUE
Nadina, the Russian dancer who had taken Paris by storm, swayed to the sound of the applause, bowed and bowed again. Her narrow black eyes narrowed themselves still more, the long line of her scarlet mouth curved faintly upwards. Enthusiastic Frenchmen continued to beat the ground appreciatively as the curtain fell with a swish, hiding the reds and blues and magentas of the bizarre décors. In a swirl of blue and orange draperies the dancer left the stage. A bearded gentleman received her enthusiastically in his arms. It was the Manager.

“Magnificent, petite, magnificent,” he cried. “To-night you have surpassed yourself.” He kissed her gallantly on both cheeks in a somewhat matter-of-fact manner.

Madame Nadina accepted the tribute with the ease of long habit and passed on to her dressing-room, where bouquets were heaped carelessly everywhere, marvellous garments of futuristic design hung on pegs, and the air was hot and sweet with the scent of the massed blossoms and with more sophisticated perfumes and essences. Jeanne, the dresser, ministered to her mistress, talking incessantly and pouring out a stream of fulsome compliment.

A knock at the door interrupted the flow. Jeanne went to answer it, and returned with a card in her hand.

“Madame will receive?”

“Let me see.”

The dancer stretched out a languid hand, but at the sight of the name on the card, “Count Sergius Paulovitch,” a sudden flicker of interest came into her eyes.

“I will see him. The maize peignoir, Jeanne, and quickly. And when the Count comes you may go.”

“Bien, Madame.”

Jeanne brought the peignoir, an exquisite wisp of corn-coloured chiffon and ermine. Nadina slipped into it, and sat smiling to herself, whilst one long white hand beat a slow tattoo on the glass of the dressing-table.

The Count was prompt to avail himself of the privilege accorded to him—a man of medium height, very slim, very elegant, very pale, extraordinarily weary. In feature, little to take hold of, a man difficult to recognize again if one left his mannerisms out of account. He bowed over the dancer’s hand with exaggerated courtliness.

“Madame, this is a pleasure indeed.”

So much Jeanne heard before she went out closing the door behind her. Alone with her visitor, a subtle change came over Nadina’s smile.

“Compatriots though we are, we will not speak Russian, I think,” she observed.

“Since we neither of us know a word of the language, it might be as well,” agreed her guest.

By common consent, they dropped into English, and nobody, now that the Count’s mannerisms had dropped from him, could doubt that it was his native language. He had, indeed, started life as a quick-change music-hall artiste in London.

“You had a great success to-night,” he remarked. “I congratulate you.”

“All the same,” said the woman, “I am disturbed. My position is not what it was. The suspicions aroused during the War have never died down. I am continually watched and spied upon.”

“But no charge of espionage was ever brought against you?”

“Our chief lays his plans too carefully for that.”

“Long life to the ‘Colonel,’” said the Count, smiling. “Amazing news, is it not, that he means to retire? To retire! Just like a doctor, or a butcher, or a plumber——”

“Or any other business man,” finished Nadina. “It should not surprise us. That is what the ‘Colonel’ has always been—an excellent man of business. He has organized crime as another man might organize a boot factory. Without committing himself, he has planned and directed a series of stupendous coups, embracing every branch of what we might call his ‘profession.’ Jewel robberies, forgery, espionage (the latter very profitable in war-time), sabotage, discreet assassination, there is hardly anything he has not touched. Wisest of all, he knows when to stop. The game begins to be dangerous? —he retires gracefully—with an enormous fortune!”

“H’m!” said the Count doubtfully. “It is rather—upsetting for all of us. We are at a loose end, as it were.”

“But we are being paid off—on a most generous scale!” Something, some undercurrent of mockery in her tone, made the man look at her sharply. She was smiling to herself, and the quality of her smile aroused his curiosity. But he proceeded diplomatically:

“Yes, the ‘Colonel’ has always been a generous paymaster. I attribute much of his success to that—and to his invariable plan of providing a suitable scapegoat. A great brain, undoubtedly a great brain! And an apostle of the maxim, ‘If you want a thing done safely, do not do it yourself!’ Here are we, every one of us incriminated up to the hilt and absolutely in his power, and not one of us has anything on him.”

He paused, almost as though he were expecting her to disagree with him, but she remained silent, smiling to herself as before.

“Not one of us,” he mused. “Still, you know, he is superstitious, the old man. Years ago, I believe, he went to one of these fortune-telling people. She prophesied a lifetime of success, but declared that his downfall would be brought about through a woman.”

He had interested her now. She looked up eagerly.

“That is strange, very strange! Through a woman, you say?”

He smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

“Doubtless, now that he has—retired, he will marry. Some young society beauty, who will disperse his millions faster than he acquired them.”

Nadina shook her head.

“No, no, that is not the way of it. Listen, my friend, to-morrow I go to London.”

“But your contract here?”

“I shall be away only one night. And I go incognito, like Royalty. No one will ever know that I have left France. And why do you think that I go?”

“Hardly for pleasure at this time of year. January, a detestable foggy month! It must be for profit, eh?”

“Exactly.” She rose and stood in front of him, every graceful line of her arrogant with pride. “You said just now that none of us had anything on the chief. You were wrong. I have. I, a woman, have had the wit and, yes, the courage—for it needs courage—to double-cross him. You remember the De Beer diamonds?”

“Yes, I remember. At Kimberley, just before the war broke out? I had nothing to do with it, and I never heard the details, the case was hushed up for some reason, was it not? A fine haul too.”

“A hundred thousand pounds worth of stones. Two of us worked it—under the ‘Colonel’s’ orders, of course. And it was then that I saw my chance. You see, the plan was to substitute some of the De Beer diamonds for some sample diamonds brought from South America by two young prospectors who happened to be in Kimberley at the time. Suspicion was then bound to fall on them.”

“Very clever,” interpolated the Count approvingly.

“The ‘Colonel’ is always clever. Well, I did my part—but I also did one thing which the ‘Colonel’ had not foreseen. I kept back some of the South American stones—one or two are unique and could easily be proved never to have passed through De Beer’s hands. With these diamonds in my possession, I have the whip-hand of my esteemed chief. Once the two young men are cleared, his part in the matter is bound to be suspected. I have said nothing all these years, I have been content to know that I had this weapon in reserve, but now matters are different. I want my price—and it will be a big, I might almost say a staggering price.”

“Extraordinary,” said the Count. “And doubtless you carry these diamonds about with you everywhere?”

His eyes roamed gently round the disordered room.

Nadina laughed softly. “You need suppose nothing of the sort. I am not a fool. The diamonds are in a safe place where no one will dream of looking for them.”

“I never thought you a fool, my dear lady, but may I venture to suggest that you are somewhat foolhardy? The ‘Colonel’ is not the type of man to take kindly to being blackmailed, you know.”

“I am not afraid of him,” she laughed. “There is only one man I have ever feared—and he is dead.”

The man looked at her curiously.

“Let us hope that he will not come to life again, then,” he remarked lightly.

“What do you mean?” cried the dancer sharply.

The Count looked slightly surprised.

“I only meant that a resurrection would be awkward for you,” he explained. “A foolish joke.”

She gave a sigh of relief.

“Oh, no, he is dead all right. Killed in the war. He was a man who once—loved me.”

“In South Africa?” asked the Count negligently.

“Yes, since you ask it, in South Africa.”

“That is your native country, is it not?”

She nodded. Her visitor rose and reached for his hat.

“Well,” he remarked, “you know your own business best, but, if I were you, I should fear the ‘Colonel’ far more than any disillusioned lover. He is a man whom it is particularly easy to—underestimate.”

She laughed scornfully.

“As if I did not know him after all these years!”

“I wonder if you do?” he said softly. “I very much wonder if you do.”

“Oh, I am not a fool! And I am not alone in this. The South African mail-boat docks at Southampton to-morrow, and on board her is a man who has come specially from Africa at my request and who has carried out certain orders of mine. The ‘Colonel’ will have not one of us to deal with, but two.”

“Is that wise?”

“It is necessary.”

“You are sure of this man?”

A rather peculiar smile played over the dancer’s face.

“I am quite sure of him. He is inefficient, but perfectly trustworthy.” She paused, and then added in an indifferent tone of voice: “As a matter of fact, he happens to be my husband.”

CHAPTER I

Everybody has been at me, right and left, to write this story from the great (represented by Lord Nasby) to the small (represented by our late maid of all work, Emily, whom I saw when I was last in England. “Lor’, miss, what a beyewtiful book you might make out of it all—just like the pictures!”).

I’ll admit that I’ve certain qualifications for the task. I was mixed up in the affair from the very beginning, I was in the thick of it all through, and I was triumphantly “in at the death.” Very fortunately, too, the gaps that I cannot supply from my own knowledge are amply covered by Sir Eustace Pedler’s diary, of which he has kindly begged me to make use.

So here goes. Anne Beddingfeld starts to narrate her adventures.

...

*******


Friday, March 10, 2023

Affliction (1997)

Affliction is a 1997 drama film I watched because James Coburn is in it. Coburn won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work here. Based on the 1989 novel of the same name by Russell Banks, the film also stars Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, and Willem Dafoe. Just pause a moment and consider that cast. How can you not watch it?! It's available free on Tubi or on Freevee.

trailer:



Roger Ebert gives it a full four stars, particularly noting "Nolte and Coburn are magnificent in this film". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 88%.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Jug Face

Jug Face is a 2013 horror film about a backwoods community who worship a creature in a mud pit because in exchange for occasional human sacrifices the creature heals them of illnesses. I watched it on Tubi. It's also free on Pluto and with a regular subscription on Amazon Prime.

trailer:



It got good reviews, especially of the actors' performances.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Warriors of Future

Warriors of Future is a 2022 Hong Kong science fiction action film. It takes place in 2055 after wars have ravaged the Earth due to the prevalent use of advanced military robots and global warming and pollution have destroyed the environment and ruined the atmosphere. I'm happy to see more science fiction movies being made, and I enjoyed this one. I watched it on Netflix.

trailer:



Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 88%.

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Three Colors: Blue

Blue is the award-winning first film in the Three Colors trio of films themed on the French Revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. According to director Kieślowski, the subject of the film is liberty, specifically emotional liberty, rather than its social or political meaning. Set in Paris, the film is about a woman whose husband and child are killed in a car accident. Suddenly set free from her familial bonds, she attempts to cut herself off from everything and live in isolation from her former ties, but finds that she cannot free herself from human connections. The film is a masterpiece, and I regret not having seen it before now. I watched it on HBO Max, though I have all three films on DVD.

trailer:



Criterion says, "Juliette Binoche gives a tour de force performance as Julie, a woman reeling from the tragic death of her husband and young daughter." Empire Online concludes, "This superb French arthouse modern classic still beguiles." Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies. Rotten Tomtatoes has a critics consensus score of 98%.

There are several coffee-related scenes in the film, but I've removed the screenshot.

Please share your own drink-related post and join us at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, March 06, 2023

The Wife's Story

The Wife's Story is a short story by Ursula K Le Guin. You can read it online here or listen to it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,
He was a good husband, a good father. I don’t understand it. I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe that it happened. I saw it happen but it isn’t true. It can’t be. He was always gentle. If you’d have seen him playing with the children, anybody who saw him with the children would have known that there wasn’t any bad in him, not one mean bone. When I first met him he was still living with his mother, over near Spring Lake, and I used to see them together, the mother and the sons, and think that any young fellow that was that nice with his family must be one worth knowing.
*******



Sunday, March 05, 2023

Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice

Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice is the first in a trilogy of 1970s Japanese sexploitation movies featuring the Hanzo the Razor character. From Wikipedia:
The film incorporates elements of exploitation film, and is highly sexual: Hanzo has an outlandishly large penis which is a frequent theme (though we never actually see it in all its uncovered glory), and he uses his impressive member to interrogate women, usually by rape, to reveal cases' hidden secrets and truths.

I made it as far as the rape by our hero of his boss' mistress as part of his interrogation. She pretty quickly moves from "no, no" to "don't stop". It went on so long I got tired of it and quit watching. Ask me about what he does in his private exercises leaning up against a wicker basket filled with uncooked rice. Go ahead. Ask. The soundtrack is a hoot.

Even the trailer is age-restricted, so you'll have to click on "watch on Youtube" to view it:

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Blasted (2022)

Blasted is a 2022 Norwegian (dubbed in English) science fiction comedy alien invasion film. Mindless silliness. There's nothing wrong with that. I watched it on Netflix. To be honest, Netflix is the streaming service I could most easily do without. I could subscribe for a month every year or so and binge what I've missed. I'm not sure it's worth the cost as a continuing subascription.

trailer:

 

 

Friday, March 03, 2023

Valley of the Dead

Valley of the Dead is a 2020 Spanish zombie action movie that takes place during the Spanish Civil War. The zombies are the result of Nazi experimentation, and there's something irresistible about Nazi zombies. It's a fun film with lighthearted touches, but I wouldn't call it a comedy. I tend to like the zombies, whether slow or fast, old or new, few or many, and I enjoyed this film. That said, I wouldn't recommend it as one of your first zombie movies. There are better ones out there and better introductions to this horror subgenre. I watched it on Netflix.

trailer:



Heaven of Horror says it's more of a war movie than a horror film. The Review Geek opens its review with this: "Valley of the Dead is certainly not original, but it’s also not a bad zombie flick either."

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Son of a Preacher Man

Son of a Preacher Man:



recorded in Memphis by Dusty Springfield, who died on this date in 1999 of breast cancer at the age of 59

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Blue Velvet

Blue Velvet is a 1986 neo-noir mystery thriller film directed by David Lynch and starring Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, Hope Lange, George Dickerson, and Dean Stockwell. This is one of those films that shows up on lists of important films and that I never wanted to watch but wanted to have already seen. I had heard just enough about it to turn me off while hearing enough about it to feel like I should see it. I watched it on HBO Max. I'm glad I did. I should've watched it much sooner.

trailer:

Criterion says, "With intense performances and hauntingly powerful scenes and images, Blue Velvet is an unforgettable vision of innocence lost, and one of the most influential American films of the past few decades." Roger Ebert did not like it, giving it only 1 star. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 95%.

The song Blue Velvet is featured:

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Sweet Hereafter

The Sweet Hereafter is an award-winning 1997 film that tells the story of a school bus accident in a small town that kills 14 children. A class-action lawsuit ensues, proving divisive in the community and becoming tied with personal and family issues. It stars Ian Holm as a lawyer involved in the case. This is a quiet, personal film, dealing with individual lives and how they are affected. I watched it on Freevee.

trailer:



Spirituality and Practice says, "This film courageously and convincingly circles around the difficult themes of death, public and private loss, and the very human need to take some meaning away from inexplicable tragedy." Variety describes it as "a rich, complex meditation on the impact of a terrible tragedy on a small town". The Roger Ebert web site has a full 4-star review which concludes by saying, "This is one of the best films of the year, an unflinching lament for the human condition." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 98%.

Join me in a hot beverage



over at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Trilogy of Terror

Trilogy of Terror is a 1975 American made-for-television anthology horror film. It features three segments (being a trilogy of terror, after all...), based on unrelated short stories by Richard Matheson and each starring Karen Black. I don't tend to like anthology films, but not liking a thing is no excuse for refusing to watch something this highly recommended. I'm glad I tried it.

via YouTube:



Moria says it is "considered a classic of horror television." 1000 Misspent Hours says, "this movie stands head and shoulders above the norm for broadcast horror." Horror News has a positive review and an extensive plot summary with screenshots. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 92%.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Saturday, February 25, 2023

I Lost My Body

I Lost My Body is a 2019 award-winning animated film. It's not a children's film. I don't know what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised. I watched it on Netflix.

trailer:



IndieWire calls it "profoundly moving". Rogert Ebert's web site says, "“I Lost My Body,” a surprise winner of the Critics’ Week Grand Prize this year at Cannes (the first animated movie to do so), is a visually sumptuous slice of macabre storytelling..." Rotten Tomatoes has a 97% critics consensus score.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Weekend (1967)

Weekend is a 1967 French postmodern black comedy film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard. As I write this, it's available here on Internet Archive. I watched it on HBO Max.

trailer:

Roger Ebert has a full 4-star review and says,
"Weekend" is about violence, hatred, the end of ideology and the approaching cataclysm that will destroy civilization. It is also about the problem of how to make a movie about this. Movies about The Bomb are almost never effective; the subject is too large. So Godard abandons any attempt to show us "real" war or destruction. Instead, he shows us attitudes: the casual indifference to suffering that saturates our society.
Criterion opens with this: "This scathing late-sixties satire from Jean-Luc Godard is one of cinema’s great anarchic works." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 93%.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

American Splendor

American Splendor is a 2003 American biographical comedy-drama film about Harvey Pekar, the author of the American Splendor comic book series. The film, which is a hybrid production featuring live actors, documentary, and animation, is in part an adaptation of the comics, which dramatize Pekar's life. Paul Giamatti stars. This is not my usual fare, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I watched it on HBO Max.

trailer:



The Guardian reviewer explains why it's her favorite film. Roger Ebert gives it a full 4 stars and a glowing review. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 94%.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Tosca

I'm repeatedly told by people who know music much better than I do that opera is all about the music and can be fully appreciated as music without knowing the language. That may be for some, but for me opera is no different from musical stage plays. Opera is story-dependent as it's performed, and I can no more fully appreciate an opera in a foreign language I don't know than I can fully appreciate a foreign film without subtitles. Go ahead, judge me, but opera was originally performed for audiences who knew the language. My prejudices stated out in the open, I've been looking for videos of Italian operas that offer subtitles and have found this one at YouTube.

Tosca is an opera in three acts by Puccini to an Italian libretto adapted into Italian from a French play, and was first performed in Rome in 1900 to an audience who spoke and understood Italian. (Am I beating a dead horse here?) In this one it's performed by the Finnish National Opera, and I'd bet precious few of the audience members understand Italian, though they may all know the plot well enough to follow what's going on.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Monday, February 20, 2023

Jennifer's Body

Jennifer's Body is a 2009 comedy horror film, considered a cult classic by some. It's better-appreciated now than when it was first released. I watched it on Amazon Prime.

trailer:

 

 

 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

That Memphis Train

That Memphis Train:



by Grandpa Jones, who died on this date in 1998

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Murdoch Mysteries 42

a screenshot from The Hangman, Season 3 Episode 11:

Friday, February 17, 2023

The Europeans (1979)

The Europeans is a 1979 British Merchant Ivory film based on Henry James's novel with the same name. It stars Lee Remick. It's lovely, what of it I saw, but I didn't stay with it to the end. I'm not sure why... I watched it on Tubi. It's also free on YouTube.

trailer:



Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 80%.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Negative Emotions by Lydia Davis

image from Wikipedia


Negative Emotions is a 2012 short story by Lydia Davis. If you prefer your stories short, then you're going to love this. You can read it online here. It begins,
A well-meaning teacher, inspired by a text he had been reading, once sent all the other teachers in his school a message about negative emotions. The message consisted entirely of advice quoted from a Vietnamese Buddhist monk:
...

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Limelight (1952)

Limelight is a 1952 comedy drama film starring Charlie Chaplin, Claire Bloom (who observes her 92nd birthday today), Nigel Bruce, Norman Lloyd, and Buster Keaton. What a beautiful story, a touching movie about what love means. I watched it on HBO Max.

trailer:



Criterion calls it "masterful drama" and "among the writer-director’s most touching films". Roger Ebert calls it "probably his [Chaplin's] most personal, revealing film". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 97%.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Still life with glass with red wine and a peeled orange

Still life with glass with red wine and a peeled orange:



by Vilhelm Hammershøi, who died on February 13, 1916. There is an in-depth article on his art and influence at this link. There is a 4-minute appreciation here:



Please post something drink-related and join us at Elizabeth's T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, February 13, 2023

February by John Clare

February is a poem by John Clare. You can read it online here. It begins,
The snow has left the cottage top;
The thatch moss grows in brighter green;
And eaves in quick succession drop,
Where grinning icicles have been,
Pit-patting with a pleasant noise
In tubs set by the cottage-door;
While ducks and geese, with happy joys,
Plunge in the yard-pond brimming o'er.

The sun peeps through the window-pane;
Which children mark with laughing eye,
And in the wet street steal again
To tell each other spring is nigh:
Then, as young hope the past recalls,
In playing groups they often draw,
To build beside the sunny walls
Their spring-time huts of sticks or straw.
...
*******

This is a short biography of Clare:

Sunday, February 12, 2023

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

What We Do in the Shadows is a 2014 mockumentary comedy horror film. This is the first installment in the franchise, which continues with a television series. This movie is great fun (96% Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus rating), but I find the TV series even funnier. The Younger Son has the movie on DVD. The series is available on Hulu.

movie trailer:



trailer for season 1 of the TV series:

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Stargate

Stargate is a 1994 award-winning science fiction film directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Kurt Russell and James Spader. Mindless fun, which is often all I need in a film, and it did give rise to several TV series that stretched out for years and years and... I re-watch this every once in a while, and this time I saw it on HBO Max.

trailer:

 

 

Friday, February 10, 2023

Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Dracula: Prince of Darkness is a 1966 supernatural horror film directed by Terence Fisher and is the third entry in Hammer's Dracula series as well as the second to feature Christopher Lee as Count Dracula. It also stars Barbara Shelley. I don't see this movie streamable anywhere right now. I can't remember how I watched it. This is the kind of thing I'd encourage people to keep an eye out for at their local DVD store, but we don't have local DVD stores any more. I still mourn the loss of those opportunities.

trailer:



Diabolique Magazine closes with this:
Dracula: Prince of Darkness occupies a special place in Hammer’s history as the sequel that resurrected the Dracula franchise proper, after languishing for eight years. Stylistically it represents the kind of stately and patient storytelling that was Hammer’s hallmark, and which is almost nonexistent in today’s horror cinema. ...if you want to settle in for the evening with a good Gothic horror yarn, Dracula: Prince of Darkness suits well.
DVD Talk calls it "an effective haunted house thriller" TCM has an overview. Moria and 1000 Misspent Hours each has a positive review. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 81%.

Thursday, February 09, 2023

The Pale Blue Eye

The Pale Blue Eye is a 2022 mystery thriller. The cast includes Christian Bale, Harry Melling (as Edgar Allan Poe), Gillian Anderson, Lucy Boynton, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, Harry Lawtey, Simon McBurney, Timothy Spall, and Robert Duvall. This is another film that didn't open to universal acclaim but which I liked. Melling, in particular, is an actor I'm appreciating more and more. I watched it on Netflix.

trailer:



Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Bullet Train (2022)

Bullet Train is a 2022 action comedy film starring Brad Pitt as Ladybug, a former hitman who must battle fellow killers while riding a bullet train. The film features an ensemble supporting cast including Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Benito A. Martínez Ocasio, and Sandra Bullock. Channing Tatum and Ryan Reynolds appear in uncredited cameo roles. This is absolutely hilarious, and I laughed out loud throughout. Definitely re-watchable. I watched it on Netflix.

trailer:



Tuesday, February 07, 2023

The Menu

The Menu is a 2022 black comedy film. Ralph Fiennes stars as the celebrity chef holding a special event for a small carefully selected clientele. I'm thinking I wasn't the target audience for this movie, as fine dining isn't something I'm familiar with. I've been to expensive, fancy local restaurants maybe once a decade during my adult life, and none of them provide the kind of pretentious experience skewered in this film. I don't generally hold that one must have a personal experience that connects with a film to appreciate or enjoy it, but in this case I think it would've helped. I did find the ending satisfying. I watched it on HBO Max.

trailer:



The Guardian says, "A bunch of ultra-wealthy foodies get more than they bargained for in this riotous black comedy starring Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy." Roger Ebert's site has a positive review. Rotten Tomatoes has an 88% critics consensus rating.

Here's a screenshot from the trailer:

for the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Please post your own drink and join us.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Appointment with Death (1988)

Appointment with Death is a 1988 adaptation of the 1938 Agatha Christie novel. It stars Peter Ustinov (in his final portrayal of Hercule Poirot), Lauren Bacall, Carrie Fisher, John Gielgud, Piper Laurie, Hayley Mills, Jenny Seagrove, and David Soul. It was not well-reviewed and is not widely available, but I found it on Tubi. Ustinov is not my favorite Poirot, but even so this was a fun movie. Look at that cast!

via DailyMotion:



Sunday, February 05, 2023

The Banshees Of Inisherin

The Banshees Of Inisherin is a 2022 dark tragicomedy film starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two lifelong friends who find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship. I was predisposed to like this film and looked forward to having it available. After it was over I sat staring at the TV screen wishing I had those two hours back. I'm one of the few, though, because it is widely praised, so you may think it's the best thing since sliced bread. Most people have nothing but good things to say. I watched it on HBO Max.

trailer:



Rotten Tomatoes has a 97% critics consensus score.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Glass Onion

Glass Onion is a 2022 sequel (of sorts) to Knives Out, but stands alone without watching the original. Not quite as good as the original in my opinion, Glass Onion is still a hilarious film featuring Daniel Craig as the private investigator Benoit Blanc. I'll keep an eye out for more sequels, because I'm now a fan. I watched it on Netflix.

trailer:



AV Club says, "it’s nothing less than perfect crowd-pleasing counter-programming for folks craving something that isn’t either superhero or horror-related." Roger Ebert's site has a positive review. Vulture likes it better than the original. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 93% and an even higher audience score.

Friday, February 03, 2023

The Innkeepers

The Innkeepers is a 2011 haunted house horror film about ghost hunters who work at a hotel that is in its last week of operation. You can watch it on Peacock, Tubi, or Amazon Prime.

trailer:



NPR gives it a positive review and describes it as "lovingly executed experiment in genre minimalism". Roger Ebert closes by saying, "Ghost movies like this, depending on imagination and craft, are much more entertaining than movies that scare you by throwing a cat at the camera."

Thursday, February 02, 2023

The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush is a 1925 silent comedy film starring Charlie Chaplin. I watched it on HBO Max, but it's also available on Amazon Prime, free on Tubi, free on Plex and via YouTube:



Criterion calls it "an indelible work of heartwarming hilarity" and says,
Charlie Chaplin’s comedic masterwork—which charts a prospector’s search for fortune in the Klondike and his discovery of romance (with the beautiful Georgia Hale)—forever cemented the iconic status of Chaplin and his Little Tramp character.
Silent Film says,
The Gold Rush is his greatest and most ambitious silent film; it also was the longest and most expensive comedy film produced up to that time. The film contains many of Chaplin’s most celebrated comedy sequences, including the boiling and eating of his boot, the dance of the rolls, and the teetering cabin. However, the superb quality of The Gold Rush does not rest solely on its comedy sequences but on these scenes being so fully integrated into a character-driven narrative. Chaplin had no reservations about the finished product. Indeed, in the contemporary publicity for the film, he is quoted as saying, “This is the picture that I want to be remembered by.”
Film Site has a lengthy article. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 100%.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968


The Memphis Sanitation Strike began on February 12, 1968, as a response to the deaths on February 1st of 2 sanitation workers. From the King Institute:
On 1 February 1968, two Memphis garbage collectors, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck. Eleven days later, frustrated by the city’s response to the latest event in a long pattern of neglect and abuse of its black employees, 1,300 black men from the Memphis Department of Public Works went on strike. Sanitation workers, led by garbage-collector-turned-union-organizer T. O. Jones, and supported by the president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Jerry Wurf, demanded recognition of their union, better safety standards, and a decent wage.

The union, which had been granted a charter by AFSCME in 1964, had attempted a strike in 1966, but failed in large part because workers were unable to arouse the support of Memphis’ religious community or middle class. Conditions for black sanitation workers worsened when Henry Loeb became mayor in January 1968. Loeb refused to take dilapidated trucks out of service or pay overtime when men were forced to work late-night shifts. Sanitation workers earned wages so low that many were on welfare and hundreds relied on food stamps to feed their families.

On 11 February, more than 700 men attended a union meeting and unanimously decided to strike. Within a week, the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People passed a resolution supporting the strike. The strike might have ended on 22 February, when the City Council, pressured by a sit-in of sanitation workers and their supporters, voted to recognize the union and recommended a wage increase. Mayor Loeb rejected the City Council vote, however, insisting that only he had the authority to recognize the union and refused to do so.

The following day, after police used mace and tear gas against nonviolent demonstrators marching to City Hall, Memphis’ black community was galvanized.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Mountaintop speech, the last speech he delivered was given here in Memphis during that strike, and he was assassinated here the next day. You can read the full text of that speech here and listen to him in this video:

 

 

It closes with this:

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Still Life with Glass and Jug on a Table

Still Life with Glass and Jug on a Table:



by Leon Bonvin, who died on January 30, 1866. He approached gallerists on rue Laffitte and rue du Bac, but he made few sales of his watercolors. In January 1866, Bonvin traveled to Paris again to offer his watercolors to a dealer, who rejected them as too dark. Desperate, he hung himself the next day in the forest and was discovered a few days later. He was 31 years of age.

Please share your own post with a drink reference and join us at Elizabeth's Tea Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

*******
Due to the Tyre Nichols tragedy, my attention has been focused on local news and Facebook this week. Investigations continue as does news coverage, though the national news outlets have left. The investigation is widening to cover why the county sheriff officers were present without the knowledge of the sheriff and why fire department personnel didn't render aid. In addition to the 5 police officers fired and criminally charged, 2 more police officer have been suspended and 2 fire department EMTs and a fire department lieutenant have been fired. It's a mess.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims

Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims by François de La Rochefoucauld is a collection of pithy sayings. You can read them online here. They are easy to skip around and not intended to be read straight through as with a book of fiction. Feel free to dabble.

Here's a 6 minute overview:

 

 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Abuse of Power by Armed Agents of the State

If you watch the news at all you may have seen our suffering here in Memphis. My heart is heavy, though anyone who is surprised by police thuggery hasn't been paying attention. I wish I thought there'd be systemic change and reform, but I don't. From the Associated Press:
The video is filled with violent moments showing the officers, who are also Black, chasing and pummeling Nichols and leaving him on the pavement propped against a squad car as they fist-bump and celebrate their actions.
From Reuters:
Tyre Nichols repeatedly cried, "Mom! Mom!” as the five Memphis police officers now charged with the Black motorist's murder pummeled him with kicks, punches and baton blows after a Jan. 7 traffic stop, video released by the city on Friday showed.
From the Wikipedia article:
Tyre Nichols died January 10, 2023, three days after being beaten by five Memphis Police Department officers during a traffic stop. The Memphis Police Department initially stated that Nichols had been driving recklessly, but its chief later stated that footage showed no evidence of probable cause for Nichols to be stopped (though stressing that cause might nonetheless have existed). Following the traffic stop, an initial altercation ensued during which officers deployed pepper spray and a taser. Nichols fled on foot, and within a short distance, a second altercation occurred when Memphis Police Officers caught up with him, then punched and kicked Nichols's face, and hit his back with a baton. Media outlets reported that the footage did not show Nichols appearing to provoke officers during the beating. He was hospitalized in a critical condition and ultimately died.

Five officers, all African American, were fired from the police department. An autopsy commissioned by his family found "extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating". On January 26, the five officers involved were arrested and charged with murder, kidnapping, assault, and misconduct. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Justice have both opened investigations. Furthermore, two Memphis firefighters who were involved in the initial patient care of Nichols were relieved of duty, pending an internal investigation.
This is a synched video of the entire attack. Individual videos are embedded separately below. You must click through to watch it on YouTube because it is age-restricted due to its brutality.



Video 1 (Police-issued body worn camera at an intersection. There is no audio for the first minute.):

Video 1 from City of Memphis on Vimeo.


Video 2 (Pole camera shows officers beating Tyre Nichols, no sound from this camera):

Video 2 from City of Memphis on Vimeo.


Video 3 (Police-issued body worn camera video at a second location, a residential neighborhood. There is no audio for the first minute.):

Video 3 from City of Memphis on Vimeo.


Video 4 (Police-issued body worn camera video at a second location, a residential neighborhood.  There is no audio for the first minute. Tyre Nichols surrounded by officers, none of whom render aid):

Video 4 from City of Memphis on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

Looking for something seasonal to read I came across this list of "best books to read in winter". It includes one book in the public domain that I had not already read. Fun! The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket is Edgar Alan Poe's only completed novel. It relates the tale of the young Arthur Gordon Pym, who stows away aboard a whaling ship called the Grampus.

According to Wikipedia, difficulty in finding literary success early in his short story-writing career inspired Poe to pursue writing a longer work. A few serialized installments of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket were first published in the Southern Literary Messenger, though never completed. The full novel was published in July 1838 in two volumes to mixed reviews. The novel later influenced Herman Melville and Jules Verne.

You can read it online here or listen to it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,

PREFACE.

Upon my return to the United States a few months ago, after the extraordinary series of adventure in the South Seas and elsewhere, of which an account is given in the following pages, accident threw me into the society of several gentlemen in Richmond, Va., who felt deep interest in all matters relating to the regions I had visited, and who were constantly urging it upon me, as a duty, to give my narrative to the public. I had several reasons, however, for declining to do so, some of which were of a nature altogether private, and concern no person but myself; others not so much so. One consideration which deterred me was, that, having kept no journal during a greater portion of the time in which I was absent, I feared I should not be able to write, from mere memory, a statement so minute and connected as to have the appearance of that truth it would really possess, barring only the natural and unavoidable exaggeration to which all of us are prone when detailing events which have had powerful influence in exciting the imaginative faculties. Another reason was, that the incidents to be narrated were of a nature so positively marvellous, that, unsupported as my assertions must necessarily be (except by the evidence of a single individual, and he a half-breed Indian), I could only hope for belief among my family, and those of my friends who have had reason, through life, to put faith in my veracity—the probability being that the public at large would regard what I should put forth as merely an impudent and ingenious fiction. A distrust in my own abilities as a writer was, nevertheless, one of the principal causes which prevented me from complying with the suggestions of my advisers.

Among those gentlemen in Virginia who expressed the greatest interest in my statement, more particularly in regard to that portion of it which related to the Antarctic Ocean, was Mr. Poe, lately editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, a monthly magazine, published by Mr. Thomas W. White, in the city of Richmond. He strongly advised me, among others, to prepare at once a full account of what I had seen and undergone, and trust to the shrewdness and common sense of the public—insisting, with great plausibility, that however roughly, as regards mere authorship, my book should be got up, its very uncouthness, if there were any, would give it all the better chance of being received as truth.

Notwithstanding this representation, I did not make up my mind to do as he suggested. He afterward proposed (finding that I would not stir in the matter) that I should allow him to draw up, in his own words, a narrative of the earlier portion of my adventures, from facts afforded by myself, publishing it in the Southern Messenger under the garb of fiction. To this, perceiving no objection, I consented, stipulating only that my real name should be retained. Two numbers of the pretended fiction appeared, consequently, in the Messenger for January and February (1837), and, in order that it might certainly be regarded as fiction, the name of Mr. Poe was affixed to the articles in the table of contents of the magazine.

The manner in which this ruse was received has induced me at length to undertake a regular compilation and publication of the adventures in question; for I found that, in spite of the air of fable which had been so ingeniously thrown around that portion of my statement which appeared in the Messenger (without altering or distorting a single fact), the public were still not at all disposed to receive it as fable, and several letters were sent to Mr. P.'s address distinctly expressing a conviction to the contrary. I thence concluded that the facts of my narrative would prove of such a nature as to carry with them sufficient evidence of their own authenticity, and that I had consequently little to fear on the score of popular incredulity.

This exposé being made, it will be seen at once how much of what follows I claim to be my own writing; and it will also be understood that no fact is misrepresented in the first few pages which were written by Mr. Poe. Even to those readers who have not seen the Messenger, it will be unnecessary to point out where his portion ends and my own commences; the difference in point of style will be readily perceived.

A. G. PYM.

New-York, July, 1838.



...



Friday, January 27, 2023

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio is an award-winning 2022 stop motion fantasy film based on the Collodi book. I hate the Disney adaptation and always have, so I was happy to see this and to see it done well. I watched it on Netflix.

trailer:



Roger Ebert's website gives a glowing review that closes with this:
A wondrously affecting work, "Pinocchio" becomes a magnum opus for del Toro that channels his interests and beliefs long present in his oeuvre but spun with a luminous new gravitas. It may go against its ethos to deem del Toro's "Pinocchio" an impeccable masterpiece, even if that's an adequate description, but know that if the art of making movies resembles magic, this is one of its greatest incantations.
Rolling Stone says,
The movie is beautiful. This take on the Pinocchio puppet reminds us, among other things, that he’s made of wood. He looks and moves and creaks and breaks like wood. He’s got knots for eyes and an entire personality carved into his body by benefit of the fractal patterns in the pine wood used to make him. He’s got the kind of thin awkwardness befitting a puppet, the kind where the head looks too heavy for the body. And yet there’s a real boyishness to him, somehow — here and throughout, with every character, the animators clearly took care to master the expressiveness of the eyes, the natural flow of movement.
The Verge calls it "a haunting and beautiful instant classic that will leave you thinking about your mortality." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 97%.