Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Know Where I'm Going!

I Know Where I'm Going! is a 1945 film directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and starring Wendy Hiller (Academy Award-winner, who acted from 1936-1993 in such films as Pygmalion, Major Barbara, A Man for All Seasons, 1974's Murder on the Orient Express, The Elephant Man); Roger Livesey (best remembered for this and 2 other Powell/Pressburger films); Finlay Curie (active from 1899-1968, including roles in the TV series The Prisoner and The Saint); John Laurie (who acted in film and tv from 1930-1979); and Petula Clark in her 4th film. This is the story of a young woman who has always known where she is going. And now she's almost there. This is wonderful and a beautiful film to watch.

film clip:



BFI Screen Online says,
It was perhaps the pair's most personal film to date: a metaphysical love story which confirmed their continuing departure from Britain's realist tradition. IKWIG (as the Archers themselves referred to it) is a full-blown critique of materialism -in the philosophical as well as the economic sense...
and concludes by saying it "is one of the duo's best-loved films, cherished for its heightened romanticism and fine performances, and for Erwin Hillier's ravishing cinematography."

The Guardian calls it "a great movie". Time Out says, "lyrically shot in monochrome by Erwin Hillier, it's all quite beautiful, combining romance, comedy, suspense and a sense of the supernatural to winning effect." Senses of Cinema asks, "Why have so many people fallen in love with this film? So much so that they trek to “the edge of the world” to visit its locations?" and concludes, "Powell and Pressburger’s film casts its own magic that cannot be replicated in the real world. But nevertheless, we can continue to appreciate the movie-made magic of I Know Where I’m Going! over and over again."

DVD Talk says, "A superlative film, I Know Where I'm Going! is as romantic as they come and twice as deep." It's listed in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. TCM has information. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Consider Yourself

Consider Yourself:



from the 1968 film Oliver!

Lyrics excerpt:
There isn't a lot to spare.
Nobody tries to be lah-di-dah or uppity.
There's a cup o' tea for all
Only it's wise to be handy with a rolling pin
When the landlord comes to call.
Please check out the T Tuesday gathering at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Raw Deal (1948)

Raw Deal is a 1948 film noir directed by Anthony Mann and starring Dennis O'Keefe, Claire Trevor, Marsha Hunt, John Ireland, Raymond Burr, and Whit Bissell (who has a Star Trek connection).

The man is in prison after taking the fall, but he manages to escape. The poor sap doesn't stand a chance. The escape was arranged for him so that he would be killed in the attempt, and the mob boss isn't happy when he survives because the boss doesn't want to split the heist money.

He has two women in his life -his faithful moll and his lawyer's assistant- who both want what they think is best for him. Burr is the mob boss who is aiming to take him out. Heartache and tragedy, a perfect film noir.



Senses of Cinema says, "It’s one of those noirs where you hold your breath, where its tension gets your heart rate up almost so you can hear it beating." Noir of the Week praises it. Rotten Tomatoes has a 100% critics score.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Spellbound

Spellbound is a 1945 Alfred Hitchcock film starring Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov, Leo G. Carroll, Rhonda Fleming. A theremin is used in the score, and there's a dream sequence designed by Salvadore Dali. Honestly, this film doesn't seem to get the love it's due, considering what it has going for it. Yes, the psychology is dated, but that doesn't affect my enjoyment of the movie.

It opens with this writing on the screen:
The fault is not in our stars... but in ourselves. -Shakespeare

Our story deals with psychoanalysis, the method by which modern science treats the emotional problems of the sane. The analyst seeks only to induce the patient to talk about his hidden problems, to open the locked doors of his mind. Once the complexes that have been disturbing the patient are uncovered and interpreted, the illness and confusion disappear … and the evils of unreason are driven from the human soul.
You can watch it in small sections via Youtube. The first section is here:


DVD Talk says,
Less a pure Hitchcockian thriller than the intriguing and satisfying foray of Hitch's own subconscious-penetrating preoccupations and sensibilities into the dreamlands of surrealism and Hollywood, Spellbound isn't the master's greatest film, but there are very few pictures quite like it, either in his filmography or anywhere else.

Images Journal says, "the movie still has considerable power and its hypnotic atmosphere is still compelling." It's listed in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. TCM has some information. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 85%.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Last House on the Left (1972)

The Last House on the Left is a 1972 horror/splatter film. This isn't really my thing, but I'm told it's a must-see because of its influence in the genre. So now I've seen it. Once was enough.

trailer:



Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars and calls it "an important genre landmark". Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars and says, "Some 30 years after its original theatrical release, this schlocky extrapolation of Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring is still the definitive horror-film-as-cautionary-tale." 1000 Misspent Hours opens its review with this: "If there is any one movie that can be taken to symbolize the trend toward utterly unapologetic viciousness in the horror films of the 1970’s, Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left is probably it."

HorrorNews.net says, "It’s tricky and nasty and scary and vengeful and heartbreaking and strange. It is light and dark, fast and slow, happy and angry and sad and silly. It has moments that are incredibly hard to watch and I wouldn’t recommend this to just any audience as I don’t know that they would be able to handle it." DVD Talk says, "The Last House on the Left is first and foremost an exploitation film." DVD Verdict says it's still "mostly an effective film" but warns, "Last House on the Left is not a fun film; it might not even be called "entertaining." It's certainly not a Friday night popcorn flick (at least not for most people). The plot is horrifying, the violence graphic, and the outlook of the film pretty bleak."

Roger Ebert likes it, gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and calls it "a tough, bitter little sleeper of a movie that's about four times as good as you'd expect." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 51% and an audience rating of 51%.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Long and Happy Life


A Long and Happy Life is the 1962 award-winning first novel by Reynolds Price. This is a short, easy-to-read novel exploring the life of a young girl in rural North Carolina who has waited 8 years for the boy she's set her heart on to offer her any word of commitment. Price actually makes you feel her pain.

from the dust jacket of the 1987 edition:
On its initial publication in 1962, Eudora Welty said of A Long and Happy Life, "Reynolds Price is the most impressive new writer I've come across in a long time. His is a first-rate talent and we are lucky that he has started so young to write so well. Here is a fine novel."

From its dazzling opening page, which announced the appearance of a stylist of the first rank, to its moving close, this brief novel has charmed and captivated millions of readers since its publication twenty-five years ago and its subsequent translation into fifteen languages. On the triumphant publication of Kate Vaiden, his most recent novel, in 1986, there was almost no review that -praising the new book to the skies- didn't also mention in glowing terms the reviewer's fond recollection of the marvelous first novel, the troubled love story of Rosacoke Mustian and Wesley Beavers and its beautifully evoked vision of rural North Carolina. It is a pleasure now to restore to print the cloth-bound edition of this truly enduring work as a companion to his brilliant book of essays, A Common Room, published simultaneously.
The first sentence:
Just with his body and from inside like a snake, leaning that black motorcycle side to side, cutting in and out of the slow line of cars to get there first, staring due-north through goggles towards Mount Moriah and switching coon tails in everybody’s face was Wesley Beavers, and laid against his back like sleep, spraddle-legged on the sheepskin seat behind him was Rosacoke Mustian who was maybe his girl and who had given up looking into the wind and trying to nod at every sad car in the line, and when he even speeded up and passed the truck (lent for the afternoon by Mr. Isaac Alston and driven by Sammy his man, hauling one pine box and one black boy dressed in all he could borrow, set up in a ladder-back chair with flowers banked round him and a foot on the box to steady it) -when he even passed that, Rosacoke said once into his back "Don’t" and rested in humiliation, not thinking but with her hands on his hips for dear life and her white blouse blown out behind her like a banner in defeat.
This book is mentioned in many reviews of Price's later work, but actual reviews are harder to find. Kirkus Reviews has a short but positive review.

I've read Kate Vaiden (and loved it) and Good Hearts (but liked it less).

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying


I learned of this book from a review on Viktoria's blog. It sounded like a fun way to approach the subject, and Viktoria sent me her copy to try. (Thank you!)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo takes the tack that you should go through your possessions by type instead of location, so you gather the clothes, for example, from all over your house and go through them item by item instead of tidying your house one room at the time. She has you choose which items to keep based on whether or not they bring you joy, then you get rid of everything else. She says the process will take about 6 months to complete and then will never have to be done again. You won't ever again have to tidy a little bit every day. You can read an excerpt here.

I think Kondo's system is worth trying. I'm working on clothing now, and have bagged up clothes that either no longer fit or that I'd forgotten I had. I do find myself wondering as I look at my 2 closets which remain full, if perhaps joy comes too easily to me. She may think this is a one-time activity, but I think I could go through this process again with the clothes I have left and discard more. Perhaps I need to re-define "joy" for the purpose of this process.

I've been going though a process these past couple of years of paring down my possessions, but my system is extremely gradual. Every day or so I go to my bookcases and pull down a book that I think I probably won't ever read again and donate that book. I do the same thing with my DVD racks. Honestly, after a couple of years, I can tell a difference but I don't think anybody else can. I have managed to pare down to five 7-foot tall bookcases, leaving room for knick-knacks on some of the shelves. While I work on the clothes I find myself passing the book shelves and taking down some books as I pass, saying, "Who am I kidding, I'll never read that again." The DVDs seem hopeless, with ten 7-foot-tall DVD shelves full and stacks of DVDs on the floor not yet watched.

I haven't tried emptying my purse when I come home, which is part of her plan. One of my issues is that I actually keep my purse by my bed with my wallet/phone/keys handy. I don't know, maybe that long-predicted earthquake will happen in the night, and I'll need my purse.... I'm finding the purse-emptying idea to be a bit stressful for whatever reason.

I have adapted her system in several ways:
  • I prefer to hang everything that can hang. All tops and pants I own are hanging in my closet. No clothes except socks, underwear, and sleeping clothes are in drawers.
  • I don't like her system of folding. I have given it a try, but I prefer to roll my sleeping clothes and stack my underwear instead of standing things up. I don't know how she keeps clothes that are stored standing on edge from falling over once some are removed.
  • I hang clothing in outfits with tops and pants/skirts together. I started doing this when I realized I tended to wear the same thing every day and that my tops are not wearable with all the pants. I matched my clothes up in top/pants outfits that went together and hung them up that way. My jeans hang at the far right of the closet and are worn with those tops that don't have dedicated pants/skirts. Now when I take off my clothes I hang them on a hangar and put them at the right side of the closet next to the jeans. The next day I pick something from the left side of the closet. It works wonderfully for me, but that means I'm ignoring her system of hanging clothes.

Her order is clothing first and keepsakes/mementos last. I have an attic full of keepsakes once I finish with everything else. That'll be tough. I'm giving some to the kids as they marry (silver candlesticks, crystal vases, milk glass, etc.), and I'll keep passing them on gradually, but I can't see just getting rid of most of the keepsakes.

I found a few videos that inspired me before the book came. She has several presentations that I watched. This is her folding method:



Marie Kondo discusses her history with organizing and describes her current methods in this talk:



Here's how she does a bookshelf:



Today.com praises the system and says, "Kondo's method really can change your life — if you let it." The Guardian has a positive review. The WSJ has a lengthy and glowing report. The New York Times reporter jumped in with both feet and tells of his joy: "My weekend was lost to Ms. Kondo. After three days, I had given four bags of clothing and two bags of shoes to the Salvation Army...."

Psychology Today recommends it highly and says,
I do encourage you to pick up the book (downloading means no additional physical clutter) or get it from the library, because her Eastern philosophy is critical to understanding why the rules work and why they make sense (and will seem a bit wacky to some Westerners). Her book also helps with the emotions around decluttering things like gifts people have given you, or important paperwork.
NPR has an excerpt. Slate has an article by Kondo.

Spirituality and Practice says,
Kondo firmly believes that serious tidying up cannot be done in baby steps of 15 minutes daily or throwing out a few things every day. Her philosophy is to do it all at once. Kondo's criteria for tossing or keeping something is, "Does it spark joy in you or not?" There are many other tips in this very helpful book but we are recommending it highly because of the spiritual practices it offers for use in the home and with possessions.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dyer's Burgers


I met The Daughter and Son-in-law-to-be at the jeweler to get my Daddy's wedding ring resized for the new couple to have, and afterwards was treated to lunch at a Memphis institution. I'd never been to Dyer's, and it's a good feeling to have experienced it. The Son-in-law-to-be is a descendant of the founding family (though not associated with the restaurant itself), and the restaurant has been around since 1912!


I had the burger combo, and it's a good burger. A traditional hamburger, nothing fancy, but worth the trip. from their website:
Legend has it that the "secret" was Doc Dyer's ageless cooking grease. This famous grease , strained daily, has continued to produce our juicy Dyer's Burgers for almost a century now.
Doesn't it look good? It was even tastier than it looks.


The Husband and The Younger Son had to miss this trip because of scheduling conflicts, but now that I've been I'll make sure to take them soon.

Yelp and Trip Advisor give it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Zomato gives it 3.6 out of 5. Food Republic has an appreciative article. Road Food gives it a score of 88% and calls it "a burger to remember".

Handy Park is just across Beale Street, and there was a concert going on as we were leaving the restaurant:


Walkin' in Memphis!

I'm linking with the other drink-related posts at Bluebeard and Elizabeth's T Tuesday party.

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Do you remember the 21st night of September?"

September:



a 1978 release by Earth, Wind, & Fire.

Lyrics (excerpt):
Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Love was changing the minds of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away

Our hearts were ringing
In the key that our souls were singing.
As we danced in the night,
Remember how the stars stole the night away

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Witch World


Witch World is a 1963 fantasy novel by Andre Norton. This was one of the first books I read that could legitimately be called "fantasy" that wasn't a fairy tale. I loved Andre Norton's books beginning in the 1960s. Her death in 2005 at age 93 was hard on the science fiction community.

I never read much in the Witch World series, preferring the stories she wrote that had space ships as opposed to the more magic-oriented ones.

from the back of the book:
Ex-colonel Simon Tregarth was a hunted man -and the hunt was beginning to come to its inevitable deadly end. Tregarth was desperate, and his situation required a desperate solution. His only alternative, however, was wild beyond any imagining -sorcery.

Simon was forced to give himself up to the mysterious Siege Perilous, the ancient stone of Power. It would judge him, determine his worth, and then deliver him into a world in which his mind and spirit should be at home.

Simon Tregarth's lot would pit him against an uncanny world where the laws of nature operated... differently. Where, in fact, "magic" was science.

For Simon Tregarth there would be no return, he could never escape from WITCH WORLD.
Kirkus Reviews has an overview of Norton's young adult literature.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Mortal Storm

The Mortal Storm is a 1940 anti-Nazi film directed by Frank Borzage and starring Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Robert Young, Frank Morgan, Robert Stack, Maria Ouspenskaya, and Ward Bond. The ugliness displayed in this film is not gone. There seem to be plenty who condemn others based on accidents of birth or on religious beliefs. People will not learn.

Voiceover at the beginning of the film:
When man was new upon the earth, he was frightened by the dangers of the elements. He cried out: 'The gods of the lightning are angry, and I must kill my fellow man to appease them.' As man grew older, he created shelters against the wind and the rain, and made harmless the force of the lightning. But within man himself were elements strong as the wind and terrible as the lightning. And he denied the existence of these elements because he dared not face them. The tale we are about to tell is of the mortal storm in which man finds himself today. Again he is crying, 'I must kill my fellow man!' Our story asks, how soon will man find wisdom in his heart, and build a lasting shelter against his ignorant fears?

Here's the first 6 minutes:



via Daily Motion:



The Huffington post says, "It stars James Stewart as a German who refuses to join the rest of his small Bavarian town in supporting Nazism. He falls in love with "non-Aryan" Freya Roth (Margaret Sullavan). Freya and her family are implied to be Jewish but the word "Jew" is never used". Senses of Cinema says, "The Mortal Storm... provides not only a direct refutation of Nazism, but also a call for American action – in advance of Washington."

Slant Magazine gives it 4 stars. TCM has information. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Page of Madness

A Page of Madness is a 1926 silent Japanese horror story long lost before being rediscovered in 1971. It doesn't have intertitles, because as I understand it the Japanese practice at the time was to have a professional narrator present as part of the experience. The plot involves a woman living in an asylum whose daughter comes to share the news of her engagement not realizing that her father works as the janitor in the asylum.

via Youtube:



Open Culture says,
While Kinugasa was clearly influenced by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which also visualizes the inner world of the insane, the movie is also reminiscent of the works of French avant-garde filmmakers like Abel Gance, Russian montage masters like Sergei Eisenstein and, in particular, the subjective camerawork of F. W. Murnau in Der Letzte Mann. Kinugasa incorporated all of these influences seamlessly, creating an exhilarating, disturbing and ultimately sad tour de force of filmmaking.
TCM has an article that says, "Neither "pro"- nor "anti"-madness, clearly not traditional but also not purely modern, A Page of Madness stands as a rich and ambiguous film and one that demands to be read as a forceful but ambivalent commentary on the potentials of cinema itself" and
Using superimpositions, rapid and insistent visual patterns, fantasy sequences, and the visual flamboyance of actors impersonating mad people, A Page of Madness builds an atmosphere of astonishing intensity. The film plays on a continual discordance between subjective and objective reality, although the various layers of the narrative can eventually be discerned by the patient viewer.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dolly


Dolly is a 1993 novel by Anita Brookner.

from the back of the book:
In her superbly accomplished new novel, Anita Brookner proves that she is our most profound observer of women's lives, posing questions about feminine identity and desire with a stylishness that conveys an almost sensual pleasure.

From the moment Jane Manning first meets her aunt Dolly, she is both fascinated and appalled. When Jane is tactful and shy, Dolly is flamboyant and repentantly selfish, a connoisseur of fine things, an exploiter of wealthy people. But as the exigencies of family bring Jane and Dolly together, Brookner shows us that we may end up loving people we cannot bring ourselves to like -and that this paradox makes love all the more precious and miraculous.
I thought it was much less about Dolly than about Jane. I see it as a character study of Jane. I'm not seeing "love" here as much as "duty". I like the book and find Brookner -as always- a beautiful illuminator of character. Anita Brookner is a treasure, and I've enjoyed everything I've read by her so far.

Kirkus Reviews calls it a "memorably expressed but cramped vision of isolated women in a hostile world." Publishers Weekly says, "Brookner ... renders with impeccable finesse the complexities of female desire as she meditates on the emotional legacies left by mothers to daughters." The Independent has a positive review.

Brookner books I've read:

A Start in Life (1981, US title The Debut)
Hotel du Lac (1984)
A Misalliance (1986)
A Friend from England (1987)
Brief Lives (1990)
Fraud (1992)
A Family Romance (1993, US title Dolly)
Altered States (1996)
Visitors (1997)




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Children of the Night: A Book of Poems


I read The Children of the Night: A Book of Poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935) to meet the Read Harder Book challenge. It counts unsurprisingly as a collection of poetry. It was published in 1919 and can be read online here. Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1922 (Collected Poems), 1925 (The Man Who Died Twice), and 1928 (John Brown's Body).

Robinson had a sad childhood beginning when his parents wanted a girl and so didn't get around to naming him. He had a disappointing love life with his chosen one choosing his brother and continuing to reject him even after that marriage ended miserably. His childhood home is a National Historic Landmark, though it is privately owned.

This is the first poem in this collection:



The Children of the Night

For those that never know the light,
The darkness is a sullen thing;
And they, the Children of the Night,
Seem lost in Fortune's winnowing.

But some are strong and some are weak, —
And there's the story. House and home
Are shut from countless hearts that seek
World-refuge that will never come.

And if there be no other life,
And if there be no other chance
To weigh their sorrow and their strife
Than in the scales of circumstance,

'T were better, ere the sun go down
Upon the first day we embark,
In life's imbittered sea to drown,
Than sail forever in the dark.

But if there be a soul on earth
So blinded with its own misuse
Of man's revealed, incessant worth,
Or worn with anguish, that it views

No light but for a mortal eye,
No rest but of a mortal sleep,
No God but in a prophet's lie,
No faith for "honest doubt" to keep;

If there be nothing, good or bad,
But chaos for a soul to trust, —
God counts it for a soul gone mad,
And if God be God, He is just.

And if God be God, He is Love;
And though the Dawn be still so dim,
It shows us we have played enough
With creeds that make a fiend of Him.

There is one creed, and only one,
That glorifies God's excellence;
So cherish, that His will be done,
The common creed of common sense.

It is the crimson, not the gray,
That charms the twilight of all time;
It is the promise of the day
That makes the starry sky sublime;

It is the faith within the fear
That holds us to the life we curse; —
So let us in ourselves revere
The Self which is the Universe!

Let us, the Children of the Night,
Put off the cloak that hides the scar!
Let us be Children of the Light,
And tell the ages what we are!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tea in the Sahara

Tea in the Sahara:



a 1983 song by The Police.

Lyrics:
My sisters and I
Have this wish before we die.
And it may sound strange
As if our minds are deranged.
Please don't ask us why
Beneath the sheltering sky
We have this strange obsession
You have the means in your possession.

We want our tea in the Sahara with you.
We want our tea in the Sahara with you.

The young man agreed
He would satisfy their need
So they danced for his pleasure
With a joy you could not measure.
They would wait for him here
The same place every year.
Beneath the sheltering sky
Across the desert he would fly.

Tea in the Sahara with you.
Tea in the Sahara with you.

The sky turned to black-
Would he ever come back?
They would climb a high dune
They would pray to the moon.
But he'd never return,
So the sisters would burn
As their eyes searched the land
With their cups full of sand.

Tea in the Sahara with you.
Tea in the Sahara with you..........
Shared as part of the weekly T Tuesday gathering at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I Found Trouble, Baby

I Found Trouble, Baby:



by the Daddy Mack Blues Band, live on Beale Street back in the Summer of 2010. They have a Facebook page here.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dodsworth

Dodsworth is a 1936 William Wyler film starring Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Mary Astor, David Niven, Maria Ouspenskaya, Spring Byington, John Payne (Miracle on 34th Street). It's an adaptation of a 1934 stage adaptation of the 1929 novel of the same name with Huston reprising his role in the stage play. Seeing Maria Ouspenskaya's name -The Wolf Man (1941), Waterloo Bridge (1940), Love Affair (1939)- is enough to convince me a movie is worth watching. Beyond that, it's a heartbreaking film in many ways, while still being a joy to watch.

Preview:



The Examiner gives it a full 5 stars, calls it "an exceptional film about the hapless pursuit of fulfillment," and says,
One of cinema's all-time best, director William Wyler, was at the helm of this little gem. The composition and choreography of his scenes -especially those between husband and wife as they bicker, argue, grow apart and, sometimes, come back together- are a joy to watch.
DVD Talk says, "Dodsworth is absorbing to watch. It's the strange exception to the rule; a movie made 65 years ago that not only hasn't dated, but is more balanced than many modern movies on the same subject." TCM has some information. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 87%.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ivy 42


You hafta be watchin' to see those 42s! This one was along a street named Ivy.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sisters

Sisters is a 1973 horror thriller directed by Brian De Palma. Margot Kidder stars as a heavily accented version of French Canadian separated conjoined twins. Wow... Charles Durning also stars. Reviewers seem to like it. I found Kidder's accent annoying and hard to get past. Once I was able to get past it, though, I found this an effective thriller and an interesting mystery.

via Youtube:


Slant Magazine gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars. 1000 Misspent Hours closes with this: "the last half-hour or so is the phase in which Sisters finally shows its teeth, and although there is humor even then, it serves to emphasize the horror of the proceedings rather than to lessen it. It also reveals De Palma as a much more agile filmmaker than he is often credited with being." HorrorNews.net says, "his [De Palma's] most Hitchcockian film, Sisters (1973), remains his most original." Roger Ebert calls it "a neat little mystery picture". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 83%.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Call of the Toad



The Call of the Toad is a 1992 novel by Gunter Grass. I read The Tin Drum some years ago and didn't care for it (I forget why), and I remember liking The Flounder (because how can you not like an eternal talking fish). I liked The Call of the Toad much better than Tin Drum, but for some reason I'm not wanting to finish it. I'm not sure why. It's interesting, and the characters have a quirky feel to them that I like. I'm just not motivated to keep reading, so I'm not finishing this one. So many authors I haven't read makes me think it'll be a long time before I come back to this one.

from the back of the book:
In what many have called his most accessible satire since The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass tells the poignant, irreverent story of two people who find adventure in love and business. The love is late middle-aged; the business is the cemetery business. The couple's vision is to offer plots in Gdansk to those Germans who have been exiled after World War II. He, the German, will provide the bodis, cash, and know-how; she, the Pole, will provide the human warmth and political fervor. The Call of the Toad is a tale of entrepreneurship taken to absurd extremes as both the German and the Polish characters are skewered with style, tenderness, and baroque inventiveness.
Kirkus Reviews closes with this: "Spun like a jazz solo, the book seems a lot more casual than you later realize it is -which is one of its choicest pleasures." Publishers Weekly has a positive review. Entertainment Weekly gives it a grade of A-.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Duel at Diablo

Duel at Diablo is a 1966 Western film starring James Garner and Sidney Poitier (in his first Western) and also Bibi Andersson (a favorite of Ingmar Bergman), Bill Travers, Dennis Weaver and John Hoyt (who has a Star Trek connection as the doctor in the original pilot). John Crawford (who was in one episode of Star Trek: TOS) is also here.

James Garner plays a frontier scout who, while seeking revenge on the murderer of his Comanche wife, rescues Andersson from the Apaches and returns her to her husband (played by Weaver). He joins an army unit bringing supplies to the fort. Poitier is the horse breaker attached to the group. All hell breaks loose when the Apaches pin them down far from aid. This is a traditional-type Western with interesting actors. I enjoyed watching it, even on TV with commercials.

via Youtube:



DVD Talk reviews the Kino Blu-Ray release, calling the story "average" but worth seeing for Garner and Poitier's work together, and saying that "one waits for something cool to happen and it never seems to." The Spinning Image says, "the action is plentiful, the politics not battered over the audience's heads, and Duel at Diablo a solid effort without being stodgy".

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The Ladies in the Brothel Dining Room

The Ladies in the Brothel Dining Room:


is an 1893 painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who was born on November 24, 1864, and died on September 9, 1901. He was only 36 when he died from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis. The Guardian says he's been misremembered and that he's "so much more than a stylish graphic artist". The Metropolitan Museum of Art says, "without Lautrec, there would be no Andy Warhol".

Have a cup of coffee (or tea or a tisane or....) while you enjoy this 45 minute long video biography:



You can see more of his work online here, at The Athenaeum site online and at WikiArt.

Please check out what other people are sharing at the weekly gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Molly Dee

Molly Dee:



by The Kingston Trio.

Lyrics excerpt:
Here we go 'round again
Singing a song about Molly Dee
Far away, I know not where
She's the girl who waits for me

I got a gal in Tennessee
Sweetest little gal that you ever did see
Works all day in a cotton mill
She makes her gin in a bathtub still

Well here we go 'round again
Singing a song about Molly Dee
Far away, I know not where
She's the girl who waits for me

My true love's in Memphis town
Pretty little thing named Sally Brown
Travels around on a riverboat
Shares her room with a Billy goat
...

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Tirant lo Blanch


Read for the Read Harder Challenge, this is a book written before 1850. Tirant lo Blanc is a 1490 work, influential on the author of Don Quixote and in the development of the novel as a literary form. "Tirant the White" is the hero of the piece, a knight. There was a 2006 film adaptation. This is the plot summary from Wikipedia:
Tirant lo Blanc tells the story of a medieval knight Tirant from Brittany who has a series of adventures across Europe in his quest. He joins in knightly competitions in England and France until the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire asks him to help in the war against the Ottoman Turks, an Islamic tribe of invaders threatening Constantinople, the capital and seat of the Empire. Tirant accepts and is made Megaduke of the Byzantine Empire and the captain of an army. He defeats the Turkish invaders and saves the Empire from destruction. Afterwards, he fights the Turks in many regions of the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa....
You can read it online here, translated into English. It begins:
CHAPTER I

COUNT WILLIAM OF WARWICK

In the fertile, rich and lovely island of England there lived a most valiant knight, noble by his lineage and much more for his courage. In his great wisdom and ingenuity he had served the profession of chivalry for many years and with a great deal of honor, and his fame was widely known throughout the world. His name was Count William of Warwick. This was a very strong knight who, in his virile youth, had practiced the use of arms, following wars on sea as well as land, and he had brought many battles to a successful conclusion.

The count found himself at the advanced age of fifty-five, and moved by divine inspiration he decided to withdraw from the practice of arms and make a pilgrimage to the holy land of Jerusalem. This virtuous count wanted to go, because he felt sorrow and contrition for the many deaths he had caused in his youth.

That evening he told the countess, his wife, about his plans, and although she was virtuous and discreet, she became very upset at the news because she loved him so much. In the morning the count had all his servants, both men and women, come to him, and he said:

"My children and most faithful servants, it is the will of His Divine Majesty that I should leave you, and the time of my return is uncertain. Since the journey will be very dangerous, I want to pay each of you now for all the good services you have rendered to me."

He had a large chest full of money brought out, and to each of his servants he gave much more than he owed, so that they were all very satisfied. Then he gave the countess all his land and all his rights. And he ordered that a ring of gold be made with his and the countess's coat of arms on it, and this ring was made in such away that it was divided into two parts. Each part was a complete ring in itself, showing half the coat of arms of each of them, and when the two halves were joined together the entire coat of arms could be seen.

When all this had been done, he turned to the virtuous countess, and said kindly:

"I know that you will accept my departure with love and patience, and if it is God's will, my journey will soon be over. I am leaving in your charge everything I have. And here is half of the ring I had made. I beg you dearly to hold it in my stead, and to guard it until I return."

"Oh, dear!" cried the countess. "Then it's true, my lord, that you are leaving without me? At least allow me to go with you so that I can serve you. I would rather die than go on living without you. Just when I was thinking that all my misfortunes were over, I see that my unhappiness is only increasing. I'm left with only this poor son as a pledge from his father, and his sad mother must be consoled with him."

She seized her small son by the hair and pulled it, and then slapped his face, saying:

"Cry, my child, for your father's departure, and you will be good company to your mother."

The tiny infant, who had been born only three months before, burst out crying. The count, seeing both mother and child in tears, felt deeply grieved, and he could not hold back his own tears. And for some time he could not speak, while all three of them wept.

The count took his leave of her, kissing her again and again, tears running freely from his eyes. He said farewell to the other ladies, and when he left he took only one squire with him.

Leaving his city of Warwick, he boarded a ship, and sailed with a good wind, and as time passed he arrived safely at Alexandria. There he disembarked and made his way to Jerusalem. When he reached Jerusalem he confessed his sins, and with great devotion he received the precious body of Jesus Christ. Then he entered the holy sepulchre of Jesus Christ and prayed there fervently and tearfully, with great contrition for his sins.

After visiting all the other sanctuaries, he returned to Alexandria. Then he boarded a ship and went to Venice. When he was near Venice he gave all the money still in his possession to his squire who had served him well, and he arranged a marriage for him so that he would not want to return to England. Then he had his squire spread the news that he had died, and he arranged for merchants to write to England that Count William of Warwick had died while returning from the Holy Land of Jerusalem. .....

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Camille (1936)

Camille is a 1936 George Cukor film starring Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, and Lionel Barrymore. It's based on the Alexandre Dumas novel. It opens with this writing on the screen:
1847

In the gay half-world of Paris, the gentlemen of the day met the girls of the moment at certain theatres, balls and gambling clubs, where the code was discretion -- but the game was romance.

This is the story of one of those pretty creatures who lived on the quicksands of popularity -- Marguerite Gautier, who brightened her wit with champagne - and sometimes her eyes with tears.

via Daily Motion, part 1:



part 2:



DVD Talk says, "While certainly not amongst Greta Garbo's best films Camille in my opinion is one of the most enjoyable features she was involved with. The film is full of passion, drama, and of course plenty of romantic scenes that place Camille between the best classic tearjerkers Hollywood once proudly produced."

Weird Wild Realm says, "Garbo creates a marvelous portrait of the sophisticated Marguerite with her pretence of lightheartedness, for whom no happy ending is possible" and "Garbo is spectacular in her performance. ... she can scarsely make a physical movement that falls short of a dancer's poetry, & every time she speaks there is subtle emotive power from lighthearted dismissiveness to intense pain; sorrow. Taylor is more than adequate; terribly romantic in his part".

It's listed in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and is in Time Magazine's top 100. Filmsite.org has a lengthy plot description. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 91%.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Zombie Flesh Eaters

Zombie Flesh Eaters is a 1979 Lucio Fulci horror movie with as much zombie gore as you'd like, if you like that kind of thing. This is the only zombie movie I recall where I've seen a zombie battle sharks.

via Youtube:



Moria says, "The film certainly does not hold back on gore –in fact, it is its raison d’etre. Outside of the various gore scenes however, there is not much to the film". 1000 Misspent Hours closes a positive review with this:
Later Fulci films would display more imagination and a bold penchant for the surreal that is absent here, but he also often failed to bring his more personalized visions to convincing life on the screen, and prosaic though it may be, Zombie is surely his most satisfying and compelling work.
Empire Online says,
Some sequences are quite striking as the shambling undead emerge from their graves or advance menacingly and the serial‑style silliness is sort of endearing, but Fulci's monotonous pacing and a few too many descents into total absurdity curtail the entertainment value.
DVD Beaver says, "Lucio Fulci's 1979 B-movie near masterpiece "Zombie" (a.k.a. a slew of other titles) has enough worm-ridden zombie flesh, horrendously fake yet appalling gore, and completely superfluous female nudity to make this a winner." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 42% and an audience score of 70%.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Odd Women


The Odd Women is a novel from 1893 written by George Gissing. This is quite readable, a quick and easy read, and not at all preachy. It has a more modern feel to it that might be imagined from the publication date. Wikipedia describes the origin of the title:
The novel's title is derived ostensibly from the notion that there was an excess of one million women over men in Victorian England. This meant there were "odd" women left over at the end of the equation when the other men and women had paired off in marriage. A cross-section of women dealing with this problem are described in the book and it can be inferred that their lifestyles also set them apart as odd in the sense of strange.
You can read it online here, or listen to it at LibriVox.

from the dust jacket:
If ever there was an age in which women were superfluous, it was the nineteenth century. George Gissing takes a group of such middle class women who are without any hope in or outside marriage, without any opportunities for betterment, without any opportunities of escaping from the whalebone corset of the society of the day.
...

From this unlikely material George Gissing creates a fascinating story; he captures completely the claustrophobic atmosphere of female society of the time. The reader is rewarded not only with immense sympathy and insight into the nineteenth-century woman's world, but also with a compulsively good narrative.
Nineteenth Century Gender Studies discusses the book in terms of the economic realities of the time:
Gissing does not render every relationship in exclusively economic terms, nor does he stipulate that women or men are economic entities and nothing else. However, the deprived condition endured by the characters regulates many of the decisions, conversations, and commentary in the novel, resulting in discussions which often suggest, explicitly or implicitly, a business deal of some kind. Because of this reality, Gissing frequently injects the terminology of capitalist exchange into the narrative. Capital and class are not identical, but in this novel, capital does affect one’s ability to participate in class-appropriate roles.
Open Letters Monthly has this to say:
One of Gissing’s central concerns in The Odd Women is precisely the way financial exigencies like the Maddens’ lead to moral compromise because women had so few ways to support themselves. The uncomfortable proximity of a “good marriage” to prostitution is a theme often touched on in Victorian fiction.... It takes Gissing a while to get all his pieces on the board and into position, but the game that plays out after that is fast-moving, dramatic, and consistently surprising. Hardly anything turns out quite as you expect...
You can read a literary analysis here.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Natchez Trace Parkway

I've never driven the entire Natchez Trace Parkway and probably won't, but it goes through Tupelo, MS, and we were there anyway looking at pretties for the bride-to-be. We drove along it for a while and discovered some interesting sites. There's an odd Chickasaw village site that has signs showing where buildings used to be but aren't any more. The signage was extremely helpful, and I'm always interested in Native American historical sites.




Further to the northeast along the parkway we saw a mysterious Confederate graveyard. No one knows what these soldiers died of or why they're buried at this location:


You walk a short way along this path into the woods:


and there are 13 graves:



It's a touching reminder of how fleeting memory is.

There's also an overlook, although we weren't clear what we were overlooking:


We enjoyed this exploration of what to us were lesser-known sites. Not everything in Tupelo is Elvis-related, and we celebrate that.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Johnnie's Drive-In


While we were in Tupelo looking at wedding veils -pause for ahhhhh- we went to Johnnie's Drive-In for lunch. Elvis has a booth here labeled as the one he sat in when he came here as a child. It was very crowded, and we had to wait for a table. We weren't seated at Elvis' table, sadly, and we didn't feel comfortable taking a picture of someone else's booth. There are photos online, and I'm linking to one here.

I had a hamburger, fries and a coke:


We got a kick out of eating where Elvis had eaten, and the food and service were good. Trip Advisor gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Yelp has a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. Tiny Travels Through Mississippi includes it in their Tupelo tiny tour, has some good interior photos, and says, "The burgers were tasty in a real-food, just-like-you-remember kind of way. What a treat."

Join the party at the link-up at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog. There's a nice welcome and a variety of beverages waiting for you there.