H(e)arts for Valentine’s Day

Still in Hart to Hart mode in my spare time and what better day to share something Hart to Hart related than on Valentine’s Day!

For those who don’t know or don’t remember, Hart to Hart was a TV show at the beginning of the 1980s about Jonathan Hart (played by Robert Wagner), a self-made millionaire, and his wife Jennifer Hart (played by Stefanie Powers), who in every episode stumble upon murder and solve those mysteries, whether near home in Los Angeles or somewhere else in the world during their travels.

hart-to-hartThey are filthy rich (but do remain relatable!), the stories are of course unlikely, almost every episode has some sort of (car) chase and sees Jonathan beating up the bad guy and the Harts always win. And yet, I used to be fascinated when I watched this series back in the 1980s on German TV (where it was called Hart aber Herzlich). It was fairytale, crime-solving fun, I guess, with at the heart the close relationship between Jonathan and Jennifer. Now, as I re-watch it, I find it a little dated but also find the relationship between Jennifer and Jonathan still has a very irresistible quality. They are truly happily married, very much in love, they have fun together and the way they look at each other… ah, the magic between these two still jumps at you, right off the screen! What I love is that nothing ever threatens their marriage, all challenges come from the outside, they trust each other completely and are completely committed to each other. Who says steady relationships on TV are doomed to be boring?  This one totally isn’t. Their joy in being together is infectious and they are very happy together, as this fan video beautifully shows…

… and they make each other smile…

… and they totally fancy each other…

They are best friends to boot and I find that, in hindsight, they made me dream of having such a relationship myself one day. I know now, all these years after I first saw Hart to Hart, that I have been lucky in that regard. OK, so we’re no millionaires, and we have never solved murders or handled guns or been in a car chase, but Mr Esther and I are best friends, we have fun together and we very much fancy each other. We kiss each other every day, we are always pleased to see each other again after we’ve been apart and, like Jennifer and Jonathan, we trust each other implicitly and we have complete confidence in each other. It’s been like this with us for 27 years now (picture below taken on our 27th first kiss-iversary a few weeks ago).

We never ‘do’ Valentine’s Day at our house, it’s of no importance to me or Mr Esther as we just don’t find it necessary to remind each other to appreciate each other. Yet, somehow, I find myself doing yet another V-Day post due to two things: firstly, because of the Harts, who have been ghosting around in my head for a little while now, and secondly, because as I was on my way home from work this afternoon, I passed by this Donut place and couldn’t resist buying these…

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My daughter decided that Mr Esther and I should have the two white donuts, while she and my son had the red and green donuts. It was yummy, accompanied by a nice evening cup of tea and now, at the end of the day, I find myself musing on how nice it can be for two h(e)arts to be so in synch, whether on the TV screen or in real life. ❤️ ❤️

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The future just brightened up!

It’s in the bag: I have a new job! Had a final interview this morning, we discussed salary and working hours and they want to have me and I want to have them. 🙂 It’ll be a little while before I can start (May 1st), but already I am feeling so much lighter!

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On Monday I’ll be handing in my resignation at my current job and suddenly the world looks a lot brighter to me now that I can give micro-manager the finger. 🙂

Space is being cleared in my mind now, so hopefully I’ll be back to Richarding again soon. I had considered dropping by the Red Dragon Con last weekend when I was in London, but in the end my weekend was filled with other fun stuff with my brothers and niece, there was little time left to travel to the convention center and back, and as I wasn’t going to pay the entrance fee anyhow for Hannibal, there wasn’t much point in going. I did think of my fellow fans enjoying Richard over last weekend, though, and hope everyone had fun. I got an especially big kick out of this Twitter exchange, referencing the vicar of Dibley!

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Thank you, Kate and Richard and Dawn French! And thank whatever good kharma there is out there for giving me a really good way out of my current job. 🙂

… and it was white, snow white.

There was snow in Amsterdam this morning very early (taken through the airplane window)…

… which meant wings had to be de-iced and our flight was delayed. We arrived in London and all was white here as well, like my brother’s garden…

It was all quite pretty! Alas, snow turned to rain and by the time we got into town and walked by Buckingham Palace, the snow was gone…

Nearby there was a remnant of ice on water, but that was pretty much it.

The white magic has disappeared here in London but at least the squirrels are cute!

It’s cold and wet, so time for a warm indoor break now with tea and chocolate…

… and a little time to figure out what to do this evening.

Busy, busy, busy but good!

So many beautiful Richard Armitage pictures during the Sundance Film Festival and also new project news. Yay! While I can just about follow what’s happening on Twitter, I have no time whatsoever to collect pictures and squee on blog. I’ll just post the latest (and best) squee-picture that I saw appear on my Twitter feed this morning (he’s so drop dead gorgeous in this one!)…

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… and look forward to when I have a little more time to indulge in Armitage news. Just busy, busy, busy with work, stuff going on at home and also binge-watching old episodes of Hart to Hart.

Used to love that show in my teens and happened across it again. While it is a little dated, gotta say I still enjoy it now (despite mixed feelings about Robert Wagner). It’s so nice to see a prolonged happy marriage on TV! More about that maybe another time.

Some good personal news to share in the meantime: it looks like I may have a new job in the spring! I applied for a job at a college, they are interested in hiring me and have invited me back for a third interview, which will be held some time next week. That interview should be a formality and once I have certainty there, I can give notice at my current job. I need to give two months’ notice but the end here is in sight! I’m going to miss some of my co-workers but will be sooooo happy to be rid of micro-manager! And I won’t be the only one who’s leaving. One colleague leaves mid-February and another colleague is also in advanced talks for a new job, which she intends to accept. Can’t tell you how happy I will be to start a new job and how good it will feel to give the manager the finger, probably at the same time my colleague will. Oh, the triumph of it all!

Tomorrow I fly to London for the weekend. Unexpected trip.  I was at my mom’s yesterday, my younger brother was there too and said he was going to London for a weekend to visit my older brother and would I like to come too? Considered it, then found cheap tickets, so the answer was yes. 🙂

On top of all this good news, also the feel-good feeling that:

  • My daughter is doing really well right now! She has found a way to give her friend T some attention but also just be herself and do her own thing and be with her other friends. School is going well for her and she is enthusiastically talking about her future dreams. Her depression seems to be lifting, therapy seems to be helping, and she’s really social, communicative and cheerful right now. After all the stuff she’s been through, that just lifts my heart to the high heavens.
  • As we speak, my son is having fun on a ski trip in Austria with school and he actually has been texting us pictures! He’s a social soul but out of sight is out of mind when he’s away from us, so the pictures he’s been sending really make me happy.
  • My husband’s blood tests came back well and he has started working half days again. Monday another appointment to discuss results of MRI scan of his stomach, fingers crossed all is well. He still tires easily but is at least feeling better and slowly getting back to his old self again. This looks promising.

Bottom line is that I’m feeling tired, but with so many good things happening, my spirits are certainly being lifted. A few new leaves have been turned over at the beginning of this new year and that feels good.

One-day film festival with Oscar nominees

Last weekend I went to another one-day film festival at one of the large Pathé cinemas here in the Netherlands. The PAC (Pathé Alternative Cinema) festival is held twice a year and I try to get to at least one of these each year. My friend and I went last Sunday. The line-up was as follows (and as of yesterday, 4 of the 5 movies here have garnered Oscar nominations!):

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I’m not going to go into detailed descriptions and criticisms of each movie, just giving quick impressions of what these movies did for me. I can tell you straight off that I liked all of them (yes, even Green Book!) but that I think my fave of all these 5 movies was the first one called Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is the true story of an author who has fallen on hard times and by chance discovers that faking letters from famous authors can earn her a lot of money.

canyoueverforgiveme-catI loved the story and I loved the character of Lee Israel; Melissa McCarthy portrayed her beautifully. I loved seeing a character in a lead role who isn’t all skinny and pretty (although I do find, and have always found, Melissa McCarthy to be pretty and cute), someone who seems dowdy, caustic and even unlikable. She is someone who is pretty much invisible to the world around her and yet, she is so rich on the inside and yes, despite her flaws and sarcasm, she is lovable, maybe because of the very real struggles she is facing. Also, anyone who loves their cat as Lee Israel does has something good in them, regardless. 😉 Richard E. Grant plays Jack Hock, someone who is down on his luck as well and becomes her best friend and he too plays this role beautifully. What I liked most of all was that these characters are layered, they aren’t all good or all bad, they are all only human. What seems drab and maybe even evil on the outside isn’t necessarily all that on the inside.

canyoueverforgivemeI was tickled pink to discover that both Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant have been nominated for Oscars for their roles. They so deserve it!

Next up was the movie If Beale Street Could Talk. It’s about a young African-American couple who are in love. After Tish’s (Kiki Layne) fiancé Fonny (Stephen James) is unjustly arrested, she looks back on their relationship and does everything in her power to get him released. The two young lead actors beautifully portrayed their characters. They were so gentle and sweet, very poetic in a way. I loved Tish, such a sweet, open and innocent face, starting out grown up life in such difficult circumstances…

beale street… and I loved Regina King who plays Tish’s mom. She almost stole the movie for me. She too has been deservedly nominated for an Oscar.

The film was almost other-worldly, dreamlike, and felt very poetic. That also made it quite a slow movie, almost too slow. My friend even nodded off for a bit there. I loved the feeling of goodness trying to overcome evil and prejudice in this film and I liked that the ending wasn’t glossed over happy, but the movie was too slow in parts and so for that, I can’t give it the highest marks. It did feel very topical and gives food for thought, though, which is always excellent.

The next movie we saw was Vice. It’s a comedy-drama film, dripping with sarcasm, about Dick Cheney who was the former vice-president under George W. Bush. Cheney is played by Christian Bale whom you hardly recognize as Bale. He is excellent in the role…

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… as is Amy Adams in her role as his wife Lynne.

vice01While I was very aware of George W. Bush as president (and truly hated his presidency), I only recalled Dick Cheney by name. I knew virtually nothing about the man, other than that he had been vice-president and that he had been Secretary of Defense under papa Bush, where he pushed for a war on Iraq on what I recall as flimsy or even false evidence. The film is very polarizing, I can imagine Democrats in the US loving this and Republicans hating this and after seeing this I still don’t know what’s really true or not. I tend to believe he must have been a sleaze, as I also truly hated the George W. Bush presidency and from the beginning felt the war on Iraq was more about oil than about Al Qaeda or Saddam Hussein, but I don’t know if this movie does justice to Cheney or not. The movie clearly does state that they are not sure everything played out as they show it, and even have someone during the end credits claim the movie is liberal bullshit, which I thought was a very nice touch. Regardless of how polarized it is, the sarcasm made me laugh at times and I especially loved the scene between Dick and Lynne in their bedroom, doing a Shakespearean dialogue. That alone is Oscar-worthy. And yes, these two actors have also been nominated for Oscars! So, yes, I did like the movie, even though I was very aware of it being a one-sided, liberal stand-up show which also had some surprising twists and turns. My friend isn’t so much into politics, especially not US politics, and didn’t like it so much. Some of it went over her head, I think, as I think it did to a lot of the Dutch audience. I was laughing in places where I noticed no one else around me laughing… So, I’m thinking this movie works best in the US and for people who are interested in politics.

After this came Green Book, which I was very curious about after having read Servetus’s criticism of it. I really like both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali and the story interested me too. Mahershala Ali plays classical pianist Dr. Don Shirley, who is doing a tour in the Deep South of the US in the early 1960s and hires Italian Tony “Lip” Vallelonga to be his driver.

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I get the criticism of the film, and especially the fried chicken running joke felt off, and for a while there the idea of Tony ‘educating’ Don on what black people should like felt off as well. But I also saw this movie as a story mostly about Tony who has to face his prejudice against African-Americans and through actually becoming friends with an African-American, learns the error of his ways. This movie is mostly aimed at a white audience, I think, but is it really so bad to address this from a white point of view? To me African-American Don felt in no way inferior to Italian-American Tony and it was nice seeing the African-American character as the eclectic, more-cultured and learned man. He was the main educator to me, rather than the white man. Yeah, Tony tried to ‘teach’ Don about African-American music and about letting other people in, but in the end the lessons Tony learned from Don where more profound than the other way around. Not only the lesson of racism but also the lesson of learning to express yourself more eloquently, the importance of dignity and learning that not all African-Americans love the same things. Don didn’t need to change so much, except for maybe letting people in a little bit more, Tony did need to change and this was mostly Tony’s story. I’m sure there was stereotyping of African-Americans in this, but I have a feeling there was Italian-American stereotyping as well. Maybe I’m missing nuances here but from an outsider’s point of view on racism in the US, this to me didn’t feel so very biased against African-Americans. It was not a very surprising movie, however, and did feel a bit like a story that has been told before. It also never really dug deep into the psyche of these two men, it remained a little shallow overall. So, in that sense, this wasn’t the best movie of the day for me. It was pretty enough but lacked depth. Viggo and Mahershala have both also been Oscar nominated for this and while I thought Viggo did really well (and I would be happy for him to win, though maybe not for this role), I liked Mahershala even more. He’s up in the same category as Richard E. Grant for the Oscars, it’ll be a tough call. Although, in hindsight, maybe it isn’t so tough, as I think the depth of Richard’s character was more developed than the depth of Mahershala’s.

The final film of the evening was Arctic starring Mads Mikkelsen, he of Hannibal fame to Richard Armitage fans.

It’s a movie about a man surviving on his own after his plane crashes in the Arctic. You don’t see the crash, you just have this story of this one man trying to survive. At first he stays put but when he rescues an unconscious woman from a helicopter crash (a team of pilots who tried to save him had crash landed) he decides he needs to move and find safetly with her in tow, pretty much unconscious for the whole movie. Not much dialogue and a lot of hardships are endured and yet it still was a good watch. Again, like Green Book, it wasn’t the most surprising movie, especially not after having seen The Mountain Between Us a year or so ago with Kate Winslet and Idris Elba also trying to survive such a freezer climate together (although Kate is not unconscious for too long). Still, it was never dull, the story moved along nicely and my friend, although it was the last movie of the day, never once dropped off to sleep. 🙂

All in all, I enjoyed all the films and some more than others. If I had to put it in order from fave to least fave of the day, the list would be:

  1. Can You Ever Forgive Me?  – Everything was right in this movie – story, characters, depth and the way it all looked and felt.
  2. Vice – The storytelling in this movie surprised me several times, different from any other movie I know, I really liked that. Also, I can really appreciate sarcasm.
  3. If Beale Street Could Talk – The most sympathetic characters in this one, with a dreamlike quality and food for thought. However, also a little slow.
  4. Green Book – Mainly liked it for the two main actors in this and it looked good. The movie overall didn’t have that much depth, though, and didn’t feel very new.
  5. Arctic – well-acted by Mads but I felt like I’d seen it all before.