Balm for my soul

I’ve been a very bad blogger of late, too occupied with other things, just not moved to blog and also not really able to at times.

First off,  Anne with an E still holds me in its claws, I’m completely obsessed and feverishly await the next episode. I even made a new fan video that I put up on my Anne with an E video page (if you do happen to watch, beware of huge spoilers!). This past week gave us these scenes (episode 5 of season 3) that are also in the season 3 trailer (and so much more happened, which I won’t spoil here):

When not obsessing over Anne, I try to get life back on track. The dizziness/vertigo is still bothering me and I am only able to work half days. It is dispiriting to have to deal with this but it is what it is and has been improving slowly and will continue to do so more quickly, I hope. Anyway, I work some from home but I also try going to the office, which I have done twice last week by car. Driving is alright if I don’t have to throw looks over my shoulder too much (so I stick to a single lane as much as possible). Which brings me to the reason for this post.

Recently in the car I have been listening to Nina Simone and I have to say that she has become a balm for my soul this past week. Especially on my way back from work I feel frustrated for not being able to do more and this woman just reaches into my soul with her voice and her songs and calms me down. Nina Simone had a beautiful, warm voice full of feeling and meaning and she sang like she could look straight into your heart. I have liked her for a long time, have used a small part of her great song Sinnerman as the background music in my Richard-Armitage-says-Esther ringtone that I have installed on my phone…

… but I haven’t listened to her very much for a long time, until this past week during my drives to and from work.

I am not really a jazz fan, so the more full on jazzy numbers are less for me. However, she has sung some beautiful, melodic-jazzy songs as well and those are the ones that have been the balm during each 30-40 minute drive. One that has especially struck a chord is this one, “I wish I knew how to be free”:

Not that I don’t feel loved and free, but I think it touches on a longing for things to maybe be more carefree? I do realize I have a good life but every life has it’s cares and worries and so does mine.

Another one I adore is ” My baby just cares for me”. It’s the first song that introduced me to Nina Simone back in 1987 when it was used for a commercial.

It’s such a brilliant song and nowadays when I listen to it, it makes me smile because I associate the lyrics with Mr Esther as he too ‘just cares for me’. 🙂

And I really loved listening to this one this week – “I loves you Porgy” reminds me that I have never seen the musical Porgy and Bess and I need to watch it someday. If you only watch one of the videos I post here, watch this one. Simone’s intensity while she performs here hits you right in the heart:

I also loved listening to Mr Bojangles:

… and Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood:

I used The Look of Love in a fan video for A Place to Call Home and Marta Dusseldorp, the lead actress in that show, even tweeted her approval when I posted it last year.

And then there’s the very moving song “Blackbird”. You can hear Nina Simone’s excellent version here but a cover was sung by wonderful and gorgeous actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw in her excellent movie Beyond the Lights that I want to share here:

There are many more great Nina Simone songs (her version of “Feeling Good” may be my fave version out there) but especially these songs I mentioned have carried me this week. It’s good to be alive in world that, next to all the ugliness out there, also holds these treasures.

Anne with an E, anyone?

I have always loved Anne of Green Gables. I first really learned about it when I saw the two TV movies with Megan Follows during my teens back in the mid-1980s (Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: the Sequel). I adored them and over the years have come back to them again and again. I have read the books (albeit a long time ago) and thought nothing could top those 1980s adaptations. I loved Anne and I loved Anne with Gilbert and her long journey to finally realise that they belonged together. Here’s a fan video someone made to refresh the memory:

Then a year or two ago on Netflix I saw that there was a new adaptation called Anne with an E, which I thought could never top the Anne adaptations I already loved. I was curious, however, and decided to give it a chance. It promised to be an adaptation with more grit and yes, I can confirm that it is. Anne, after she comes to Marilla and Matthew, is traumatized by her childhood in her periods at the orphanage and families who couldn’t love her and put her to work. The story is the same, the characters are basically the same, but yet it’s also very different. Also, as this is a real TV series (with 7 episodes in the first season and 10 in the second), Anne with an E has much more time than those TV movies to delve deeper into Anne and her world.

annewithane flower crown

The story of Anne with an E strays from the books, most notably in Gilbert’s storyline at first, but in the rest of the story too. The stories touch on issues of trauma, bullying, sexual identity, racism, loss, feminism and even educational reform and yet also weaves seamlessly back into the Anne stories we already know, with her imagination and love of storytelling at the heart of her character. It’s Anne at the end of the 19th century but also adapated to modern age issues. It’s not a hit with everyone, I understand (considered too liberal, I guess?), but it is a hit with me. Is it better that 1980s Anne? I honestly couldn’t say! They are two very different adaptations with the same core and I just love them both.

Anne with an E Cuthberts

Amybeth McNulty makes a great Anne, I love Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert…

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and I also love Geraldine James as Marilla and R.H. Thomson as Matthew.

Anne with an E Marilla Matthew

Anne’s bosom friend is of course Diana Barry, played by Dalila Bela…

Anne Diana

… and another friend, naive Ruby Gillis (played by Kyla Matthews), really cracks me up every time with her dreamy mooning over Gilbert…

Season 2 introduced the new character of Sebastian Lacroix, called Bash, from Trinidad (played by Dalmar Abuzeid) who becomes Gilbert’s best friend. He’s a delightful character.

There’s a great New York Times article on the show, with many more insights, should you care to read it. Here’s a trailer for season 1 of the show…

… and for season 2:

I recently checked back to see when a season 3 would finally happen and it turns out that season 3 has recently started airing in Canada! So, I’m tapping into that now with great excitement. The trailer for season 3:

As Anne and Gilbert grow older the story matures for them and so far the first 3 episodes have been so great that I have started making videos again! Should you want to see them (beware of spoilers!), they are over on the separate Anne with an E page I have set up under the Fan videos section on this site. The most recent, third episode was particularly heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. I am now seriously and feverishly awaiting each new episode. With Suits now ended, I guess this is my new obsession!

Suits – the end!

Suits has now officially wrapped. I watched the finale and have got to admit to wiping away a tear or two. Yes, I’m going to do a whole recap here, with loads and loads of pictures (most of them my own screencaps), just so that I can relive the whole finale again and again whenever I choose to. 🙂 Click on the smaller images to enlarge them, they’re all worth it, I promise. And read on at your own peril, there will be lots of finale spoilers from here on in!

The 10th episode of the 9th season begins with Harvey Specter talking to Faye Richardson, the evil woman now overseeing the lawfirm, who has just fired one of the senior partners, Katrina. He (Gabriel Macht) comes home to Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty), and she is able to distract him for the night…

The next day there’s an argument with Faye (ruthlessly portrayed by Denise Crosby) and that evening Harvey goes to see Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams, a most welcome guest-starring role!) and they concoct one last con to get rid of Faye.

Mike discusses the plan with Samantha Wheeler (Katherine Heigl) and Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce).

Alex Wheeler (Dulé Hill) involves Katrina Bennett (Amanda Schull).

Harvey discusses the con with Donna and Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) at the office.

And Louis approaches Gretchen Bodinksi (played by awesome Aloma Wright) for help.

Harvey then approaches Donna alone. He has some doubts and wants to check with her. “You’ve always been my compass,” he tells her. She says she’s with him all the way and he then tells her about an ace he has in the hole should the con not end as planned. He will only pull that ace if Donna is in it with him. What that ace is, we don’t find out yet.

The first part of the plan is set in motion, with Katrina threatening Faye, and Faye isn’t happy and threatens Harvey. Harvey tells Donna they’ll have to move fast.

The next day the showdown with Faye begins, with Mike and Samantha coming in to play their part, staging a fight with Harvey.

Faye hastily and in anger, without reading, signs a paper that Gretchen has swapped during the heated debate, incriminating herself. The team start to gloat but Faye won’t back down (man, she’s a tough cookie!).

Harvey then asks to speak to her alone and gives Donna a long look before everyone leaves the conference room. You just know he’s going to play that “ace in the hole”. We still don’t find out what that ace is, though. Not yet.

Harvey then goes to the waiting team, exchanges an “it is done” look with Donna, and assures everyone that Faye Richardson is now indeed out. When asked how he did it, he enigmatically replies that he’s the best closer in town and that all they need to know is that he closed that deal.

Donna gives a litte rousing speech about how they all love each other and are family and that they won this because they stuck together, before they all head out for celebratory drinks.

All of this is wrapped up halfway through the episode, so I’m betting on good things coming up for our main characters for the rest of the episode and I wasn’t disappointed!

So, next we see Louis at his therapist’s office. Louis asks Dr. Stan Lipschitz (really brilliantly portrayed by Ray Proscia) to stop being his therapist and be his friend instead so that Stan can officiate Louis’ wedding. When Louis says that he can find another therapist should he need one in the future Stan says drily in an aside “that’s for sure!” I just cracked up at that.

We then cut to see Louis nervously pacing on his wedding day. Harvey comes to distract him and rile him up saying Louis isn’t “the prince of England” (nice little side joke, considering both actors attended the real prince of England’s wedding a year and a half ago) and that he looks like “Mr Peanut”. Donna then comes in, asking whether the distraction worked. If Louis is worked up about something else he will more easily accept that Donna is stepping in for bride Sheila’s sister as the sister is stuck somewhere.

Louis does accept the change of sister to Donna and then Harvey and Donna walk down the aisle. As Harvey takes Donna’s arm he says in an aside to her “Don’t get any ideas about us doing this anytime soon”. Donna laughs and tells him now’s not the time as they both then walk down the aisle together, looking every bit a bridal couple. The voice-over is Dr. Lipschitz talking about how two people that are perfect for each other have found each other. He’s talking about Louis and his bride Sheila but you just know those words hold true for Harvey and Donna as well. By the way,  I just adore Donna’s dress here, it’s so beautiful!

The guests look on curiously, with Mike seated next to his father-in-law Robert Zane. Mike’s wife & Robert’s daughter, Rachel (Meghan Markle), is alas absent from the cast for this finale episode, although at the end she does pop up 2 or 3 times in flashbacks.

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The wedding ceremony also has some Dr. Lipschitz versus Louis ex-therapy banter that’s so funny that Harvey and Donna exchange a grin. Louis is marrying Sheila Sasz (pronounce that out loud quickly and you can understand why that’s a funny name, portrayed by Rachael Harris) who is 9 months pregnant.

And yes, of course the wedding is disrupted by Sheila’s water breaking! They rush through the vows and then head away for the hospital.

Louis, ever prepared, had arranged an ambulance on standby.

Meanwhile, back at the wedding reception, the party understandably ain’t hoppin’. Mike joins Donna and Harvey at their table, wondering what could make the party better.

And then Harvey has an idea, so he grabs Donna’s hand.

Yes,  you guessed it, he proposes to a totally surprised Donna!

He asks her to marry him right here, right now and she says of course she’ll marry him…

… but what about their families and a dress? He tells her she already looks gorgeous and they can do it again for their families. He doesn’t want to waste any more time.

“But what about rings? We don’t have any rings?” Donna asks. We as an audience already know that Harvey has his recently deceased mother’s ring in his pocket. And sure enough, he produces that. Awwwww!

They kiss in total happiness, with Darvey-shipper Mike looking on with a smile…

… and then get up, with Harvey announcing to everyone that there will be another wedding that day!

Mike butts in to congratulate and tell them he won’t be officiating as he isn’t licensed (little joke referencing his unlicensed time as a lawyer during the first 5 seasons of Suits).

Meanwhile in the hospital things aren’t going so well. Sheila and her baby are in danger and need to be taken in for an emergency c-section.

We hear Harvey speak in a voice-over, talking about not letting chances pass you by because a loved one can be snatched away from you in a second (like his mom recently was). It’s touching how those words are both joyful (in the wedding case) as well as angsty (in the endangered life of mother and child case). We cut back to the wedding where Donna and Harvey are ready to be married. They speak of their love for each other…

… meanwhile we go back to Louis who hears he has a baby daughter and all is well after all with mother and child. Oh, the joy and relief!

Now we can really celebrate as Harvey and Donna finally say “I do” and exchange rings!

Then Harvey may kiss his bride…

They then face their guests and news is also shared that Louis had a baby girl.

Donna tells Harvey she’d like to go see Louis. Harvey says, “And we will, but right now I want to dance with my wife.”

Harvey and Donna walk to the dancefloor. In passing Harvey and Mike briefly clasp hands and that’s when the tears came for me. Even though Mike left at the end of season 7, to me he and Harvey are still the heart of the show, together with Donna.

The dance, to Ed Sheeran’s song Perfect, is just beautiful and touching and yes, perfect. You just know that these two really will be together forever. After all they have been though, in all those years, they can weather anything.

We then cut to Louis, who meets his baby girl for the first time. We learn her name will be Lucy.  Oh, so sweet!Suits S09E10 finale (268)

Harvey and Donna, still in their festive clothes, come to meet the new baby. The way Donna adores the baby and Harvey and Donna share smiles, you can’t help but think this will be in their future as well!

Then we finally find out about the “ace in the hole”, the ace that helped remove Faye: Harvey and Donna are leaving the firm and moving to Seattle where Mike and Rachel live. Harvey is going to work with Mike at his firm! Harvey has sacrificed himself for the good of the firm, yet he also likes where he’s going, together with Donna. “I wanna do for the good guys for a change,” he says. It’s bittersweet. Harvey and Mike will be happily ever after together (yay!) but that means leaving Louis. But rest assured, they will always “be family” Donna says.

Now the real ending comes. We have Harvey and Donna back in the office, overlooking the ‘bullpen’ where the young and upcoming lawyers work. They are at peace with their choice to leave.

Harvey sees Mike in his office and a lovely reference is made to the pilot episode where Mike came in for a job interview with Harvey. Now the tables are turned and Harvey mock-applies for a job with Mike, using the same lines Mike had used so many years ago. Now that was just a lovely, full-circle moment!

We get to see another lovely moment where the remaining partners deservedly make Katrina the newest name partner.

And we get a brief moment of Sheila with baby Lucy.

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This is the last day at the firm and Harvey is sitting pensively in his office. Donna comes in, tells him it’s time to go. He wants a few moments alone, “I’ll see you at home,” she says. He then tells her he could never had done any of this without her, Donna smiles as she leaves.

She walks to the elevator and sees Louis standing there, who is on his way to go see his wife and baby daughter.  As they get into the elevator together you see that on the wall Harvey’s name Specter has already been removed. Donna and Louis wordlessly hold hands as the elevator closes.

Harvey is still in his office, pensive, as images of former times come by on the screen.

He then picks up one of the basketballs in his office, has a last sip of whiskey…

… and off he goes into a new future.

Fade to black and this dedication…

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… and I’m sitting there, blinking away a tear and very satisfied with how this show has wrapped up. Especially Harvey’s journey has been a wonderous one to me, seeing a hard-nosed, tough lawyer finding his own humanity and vulnerability. I’m totally good with this happily ever after. Thank you Suits team for this wonderful show! I’m going to miss it…

Fangirling more Richard @TIFF!

Finally, a week and a half after the fact, I am getting around to my more-fangirling-Richard-Armitage-at-TIFF post. I already fangirled a bit here, but more delights of Richard at the Toronto Film Festival came in after that and I’ve been clicking and saving images like mad. As always, you can click on the smaller images in this post to enlarge them.

There was an extra image I hadn’t seen yet of Richard in his first TIFF outfit. I didn’t think the yellow did anything for him but I was looking at his face mostly anyhow.

Then came pics or Richard in a second purple suit, my fave suit of the suits I saw him wear there.

I loved the background in this picture and the way Rich leans against that wall with hands in pockets.

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Nobody puts Richard in a corner? Yeah, little Dirty Dancing reference there, but apparently he does corners well!

Even Julie Delpy joined him in his corner. That smile in this following picture reminds me of the selfie-smiles he tweets out that always look a little off to me. Maybe it’s the way he looks into the camera?

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There was more posing with Julie:

Portraits with a dark background:

Portraits with a light background:

Portrait seduction is complete!

There were some images of an interview with Julie:

And final funky pics infront of a mirror. I really liked that solo one.

There’s a video interview: https://deadline.com/video/my-zoe-julie-delpy-interview-video-toronto/ and some screenshots from that:

Fellow fan Cyn over in Twitter was at TIFF and shared this video interview after the screening of My Zoe which, beware, contains spoilers:

And this video about the ending of the movie, which also contains spoilers!

Also this image:

Just before I wanted to hit post, I saw this video pop by which has Richard and Julie sitting on that couch as in the interview pics above, the Variety interview: https://www.msn.com/en-us/video/sports/my-zoe-variety-studio-at-tiff/vi-AAHrcIq

Couldn’t resist, took ‘a few’ screenshots:

And last but not least, these shots from the My Zoe movie (source) showed up:

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Oh man, Richard holding his movie daughter like that does all the right things to my heart! I’m really curious to see this movie.

All in all, not such a bad haul, right? 🙂


MTA: I just found the whole video of the Q&A after the screening. I’ve only watched bits and pieces but beware, there are major spoilers here!

Audrey Hepburn pilgrimage Arnhem

A few days ago, Mr Esther, my mini-me daughter (although not so mini anymore at 15 and only 1 cm shorter than me) and I took a day trip to the city of Arnhem, in the east of The Netherlands, not far from the German border. Mini-me had never been there and was curious to see the city. I was last there with Suzy a few years ago, it’s not such a terribly interesting city to me, but this time I suddenly thought of a new reason to go, one I had never really thought of before.

It’s no secret that I am an Audrey Hepburn fan and Audrey actually lived in Arnhem as a teenager during the Second World War. I’ve been rewatching some Audrey movie highlights recently and it suddenly, and for the first time, occured to me to go in search of where she actually lived during the war, when she looked like this (also pictured: her Dutch mother who was divorced from her English father, source of pictures here).

I once visited her grave in Tolochenaz, Switzerland (near Geneva) back in 2002, 9 years after she died…

Audrey Hepburn's grave

… so why not also visit the places she lived in during her youth? I have several books on Audrey Hepburn, I consulted the biography by Barry Paris for info on where she lived.

AH biography

Sure enough, her movements within The Netherlands were documented in that book and so we did a little Audrey Hepburn pilgrimage on the side while we were in Arnhem.

For the last years of the war, 1942-1945 , Audrey and her mother went to live in Velp, a small town that is right next to Arnhem. They lived with Audrey’s maternal grandfather, Baron van Heemstra, in a villa called Villa Beukenhof on the Rozendaalselaan 32 in Velp.

AH address 3

The Baron’s villa doesn’t exist anymore, there is now a new building on the spot where the old villa stood called “De Nieuwe Beukenhof” (“the new Beukenhof”) which houses apartments for the elderly.

After passing through Velp we drove on to Arnhem. We walked through the centre and not too far off from the station we passed by Jansbinnensingel 8A, which is the second address Audrey lived at in Arnhem. The book isn’t quite clear on when exactly Audrey moved there, but it must have been around 1941, I think. An article in the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant (a good, serious paper here), which also describes an Audrey pilgrmage in and around Arnhem, says she moved there in 1940.

AH address 2

Jansbinnensingel 8A (here we always state the house number after the street name) is a store now with apartments above it, I’m not sure if it also was a store during the war.

There is a little gold plaque commemorating Audrey Hepburn, which looks to be beside the other arch-shaped door (7c as someone with a marker wrote on the plaque?), so maybe what is now 7c was then 8A? Or was the plaque only placed there because there’s no actual room to do so right next to door 8A?

AH Arnhem Jansbinnensingel3

In any case, the plaque isn’t quite correct as Audrey didn’t live there from December 1939, she lived at another address then (more about that later). When the war ended in May 1945 she did return to this address from Velp for a few months, according to the book, before moving to and around Amsterdam to further her hopes for a career in ballet there.

According to the book, Audrey and her mother moved to a house on Sickeslaan 7 in Arnhem in December 1939.

AH address 1

The house is a terraced house, situated a little outside the centre (we drove by there on our way home) in the Sonsbeek area in Arnhem.

Near the front door there is an “official monument” badge (shimmering at the bottom left of the little window next to the front door); is this because it was once Audrey’s home or because the houses are a special pre-war build in general? The house was apparently just sold this year, see here for a view inside! How cool would that be, to say you live in Audrey Hepburn’s old house? I also notice that the monument badge is there in my picture but not in the picture of the sale website. Looks like the house has only recently been declared a monument and now Mr Esther, who is researching this as I tell him what I’m writing about, tells me the monument was indeed declared for a block of houses and not specifically only for Audrey’s house.

From Sickeszlaan (as it’s spelled correctly) we drove on to another nearby part of Arnhem, a little park square called the Burgemeestersplein (“Mayor’s square”) which houses a bust of Audrey Hepburn that was unveiled there in 1994.

I don’t think it looks that much like her and the plaque underneath is not very legible. It’s easier to read in this picture than it is when you are standing there.

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Still, it was nice to see this little tribute to Audrey.

As we drove on home I remembered we had missed finding the newly named Audrey Hepburnplein (Plein = Square; apparently it was named that in 2017) somewhere in the centre of Arnhem. I looked it up on Google Maps and going by the location, I figured we must have walked there. So, we just now checked Mr Esther’s pictures and sure enough, we were there, in front of the big church that was playing a beautiful Glockenspiel mixed with orchestral music (filmed a video as we walked there)

From the church we walked on to what is apparently the Audrey Hepburnplein. I remember noticing the movie theatre there, but it didn’t occur to me to look to the street name sign! The sign is visible in Mr Esther’s pictures, though.

So, I guess we really did have the full Audrey Hepburn in Arnhem experience after all. 🙂

Recently a new book was published about Audrey’s war years in Arnhem called “Dutch Girl”, which I think I’m going to get myself as a gift. Do I really need another book on Audrey Hepburn, I thought, when I first heard about it a month or two ago? It could at the very least answer the timeline and location questions that were raised for me during this little pligrimage. So yes, now I’m thinking, that I do indeed need to get this book after all.