Fangirling & family time

So, I am on a family holiday in the middle of England now with my husband and two teenage kids and already feeling very cheeful about it all! Every day brings new fangirl & family moments.

Leaving The Netherlands wasn’t too fangirly but it was family-time. We waited at the ferry that was to take us from The Netherlands to England, but we didn’t have to wait very long to board.

We had our own cabin for the 7 hour ferry trip and the kids reminisced about Titanic on board (although they refused to re-enact any Titanic scenes for me).

Once in England we had to drive on the wrong side of the road (yep, driving on the left feels wrong…)

IMG_5240
We camped just outside Colchester for our first night in England and did a little sightseeing there the next morning (yep, that’s me in the bottom picture)…

In Colchester I had my first real fangirl moment: we passed by a sweet shop called Darcy (of Pride and Prejudice fame)! Of course, this probably has nothing to do with P&P, but it made me smile!

IMG_5300
We also had our first scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam in Colchester… yumm!

IMG_5325
We then drove on to our current campsite, not far from Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire) and set up our camp for the one and a half weeks we’re staying here for. My 16 year old son gets his own little tent to sleep in.

20170721_203857[1]
When I went to the bathroom here at the campsite, I unexpectedly had my second fangirl moment. See for yourself what brand the washbasins are…

20170723_110603
How lovely to have the thought of Richard Armitage with me every day when I visit the bathroom!

We went to dinner at a pub in a village called Perry, which made me think of our fellow RA blogger Perry over on Armitage Agonistes

IMG_5329
… and when we got back, in the tree right next to our camping spot, there was an owl hooting away! We never see owls in the wild where we live, it was quite an experience for us.

IMG_5401
After a day of lazing away, we passed through the town of Stamford, which gave me my next fangirling moment. Stamford was used as the town of Merryton in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice (the one with Keira Knightley… yeah, not my fave P&P adaptation, but I have seen it often enough nonetheless!)…

After a little walk through Stamford, which is quite pretty with all it’s old sandstone buildings, we went on to visit Burghley House, which was used as Rosings in that same P&P adaptation (the one picture here below is mine, the other is from the movie)!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We visited inside the huge ‘house’ and the moment I walked into the kitchen, I was reminded of my favourite childhood film The Slipper and the Rose; there was a very similar kitchen in that movie with shiny brass pot and pans!

We saw some of the interior rooms…

…and when we exited we came across a lovely tree with a wooden seat surrounding the trunk and lots of lavender around it; it’s something I would love to have in my own garden, if only my own garden were large enough!

IMG_5483
There were some very pretty flowers/plants in the gardens there…

There was also an ‘adventure garden’ with fountains and a mirror maze.

IMG_5507

After we had all passed to and fro through a gate with a very fine spray of water that hardly got anyone wet…

IMG_5511

… I challenged my kids to jump through the ‘Exit curtain’ fountain (my husband and I walked around it) and the little sods actually did!

It took them a little while to get dry, they took their time in the sun for that…

IMG_5537
The current last picture on my camera is one my son took while playing around with said camera in the car. I quite like it…

IMG_5622
Our holiday has only just started, but already it’s goooood!

It’s amazing…

…. how after only 4 months in my new job I already feel like there is so much to do that it almost feels overwhelming! I really need to make lists, prioritize and plan. And yet, even with how busy it is, I am truly enjoying it! I have a lot of autonomy, people seem to be enthusiastic that I’m there and the organization is a very interesting one to work for. My 6 month contract that was going to end mid-september has already been extended for another year and my boss is also giving me a pay rise. It feels good to be needed, to be appreciated and to feel like you are making a small difference already. But, I am tired. It’s been a stressful few weeks, with work and with some issues at home that are now finding some resolution. I am glad I only have 3 more days of work left before my 3.5 week summer vacation starts! I am already looking forward to the down time with my family.

With all that’s been going on, what is also amazing is that I have finally been able to make time (and space in my head) to watch Pilgrimage and also Castlevania. I watched Castlevania over the weekend and Pilgrimage on Wednesday evening with my husband.  I won’t go into long reviews here, I’m a little too tired to  write a nice coherent review of both shows. I’ll just stick to impressions.

So, first off, Pilgrimage, a story about 13th century Irish monks who must escort a relic across the land, challenged by danger and menace. Richard Armitage is the baddie…

Pilgrimage

From what I had read beforehand I was expecting a lot of gross violence and I was dreading watching it. In the end, while it really was grossly violent at times, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected and I felt the violence just fit with the movie. I guess, after watching Inglorious Basterds (which I truly loved, despite the gore!), I know I can stomach it. I really only turned away during 2 or 3 scenes and even those weren’t focussed on too long, I felt. By the time you realized what was really happening, the scene was already moving on. I found Hannibal to be far more disturbing than Pilgrimage.

I thought Richard was really good in his role of Sir Raymond de Merville. The character was somewhat two-dimensional, but even so, he gave it real intensity and presence. When he came up riding in his armour (alas, not a knight in shining armour), just by how he was bearing himself on his horse, I recognized him.

His French mostly sounded good to me and I really liked that original languages were used in this movie. Richard was scowling and very intense, he does intense so well!

He even looked good with a scar…

Richard Armitage - Pilgrimage (5)

The acting by all the actors was very good, the landscapes were so beautifully captured on screen and I liked the gritty look and feel. I did enjoy the movie, yet it could somehow never truly capture me. I guess, I didn’t quite see the importance in moving this relic and when the movie ended in a Shakespearean way, I was left wondering what the message was that this movie had tried to convey. Was it just the coming of age of a young man? Maybe it was aimed to show that in the end violence is pointless? It could even be interpreted that fighting for something you truly believe in is pointless. Or that religion and relics are pointless. I guess I just missed a good ending to this. In the end, I didn’t hate it or love it, it just sat as a medium-rated movie with me. I’m sure I’ll watch it again, more often than I ever plan on re-watching Hannibal. I’ll watch again for Richard and to try and make more sense of it all, but it’s not my all-time fave medieval movie.

And then there’s Castlevania, an adaptation of a video game in animation form where Richard Armitage voices the hero. A short synopsis from Netflix: “A vampire hunter fights to save a besieged city from an army of otherworldly creatures controlled by Dracula.” I’ve seen pretty much everyone raving about it from day one, so I was getting quite excited about it!

Castlevania title

Before I say anything else, you should know that I don’t do Dracula stories very well. While I have in the past enjoyed an occasional vampires/mythical creatures/magicians or even zombies movie, mostly I just get impatient with them. It’s just not my genre. Nonetheless, I was looking forward to this because of all the positivity out there. If I could enjoy a movie like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, there was a good chance I could enjoy Castlevania as well. So, last Sunday I got around to watching it and, oh dear, dare I say it? I was a little underwhelmed…

I really wanted this to be the best vampire thing I had ever seen but it really wasn’t… I even nodded off here and there… Maybe I was just too tired to watch? That would be highly plausible. In any case, the story couldn’t grip me, this whole vampire alternative universe just can’t interest me. Also, the style of animation isn’t flowing enough for me and in some places the story was really slow, I felt. However… I did wake up every time Richard’s character, Trevor Belmont, was on screen. Not so much for how he looked (although he really is quite handsome, just like the real man behind the voice is), I woke up because Richard Armitage really did do a stellar job voicing the character!

He does world-weary sarcasm so extremely well! It also sounded like he was having a blast acting his lines, some of them made me grin widely. It almost made me think that maybe I should actually try one of his audiobooks after all. Almost. (Regular readers here might already know that I really don’t do audiobooks).

So, while I don’t really like this whole vampire-story thing at all, I am curious enough to see what happens next with Trevor. And with Sypha, I really liked her (and her people) too!

Castlevania season one feels like a teaser series, so season two is welcome (I hear it is already planned)! Maybe I will like that more? I’m sure that at the very least I will really enjoy Richard in it.

OK, yeah, so I’m not 100% in love with these two projects but they do show me yet again why Richard Armitage really is and truly remains my favourite actor! His portrayals have real presence, intensity, depth and soul, and in the case of Trevor, humour as well,  and I just love that. Richard Armitage is amazing.

Fingers on Fire

So, yes, I finally got to see Brain on Fire last night! Found a way to watch it and I couldn’t resist… 🙂 Warning: some SPOILERS ahead, proceed at your own risk!

Brain on Fire tells the true story of young journalist Susannah Cahalan (Chloë Grace Moretz) who starts showing erratic behaviour, she deteriorates into psychoses, and is hospitalized while the doctors can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong with her. The movie is all about this deterioration process and the search for answers by her, her divorced parents Tom (Richard Armitage) and Rhona (Carrie-Anne Moss) and her boyfriend Stephen (Thomas Mann).

So, what did I think of the movie? The acting was fine, the camera really likes Richard Armitage (he gets some nice close-ups), Moretz did a decent job, Moss (under-used!) and Mann were good, but the story was… a little tedious. Can’t quite put my finger on it why this movie did not ignite for me, but I think maybe it was because the story was fully focussed on the process of Susannah’s decline and the mystery surrounding her illness, where I had hoped it would be more character driven. Of course, as an Armitage fan, I was particularly interested in the characterization for Tom and it was not what I had hoped either. I remember from reading the book that this search for the truth brought Susannah closer to her father, also due to his diaries he wrote at the time, but I saw little of that in the movie. He and Susannah seemed OK with each other from the start (yes, he was a little annoyed with her sometimes, but no more or less than any parent would be) and he was happy with her in the end. Richard played the worried father very well (he was even scary sometimes when he got angry and felt helpless) but other than the worry and the relief at the end, there wasn’t that much character development for him here, I felt. Oh, and as an outsider, I thought he did a good American accent! End verdict for me: the movie was fine and I will watch it again (especially Richard’s bits) but, alas, it wasn’t a masterpiece movie.

My so-so opinion of the movie didn’t stop my screencapping fingers – they were on fire as I screencapped quite a lot of Richard in this. Finally, some new Richard-work for me to sink my teeth into! Alas, the caps aren’t high-resolution, but they are still lovely to look at. Be warned, there are lots! This post isn’t titled “fingers on fire” for nothing…

This is from the beginning of the movie, Tom working the BBQ, meeting Susannah’s boyfriend and celebrating Susannah’s birthday…

BOF Richard Armitage (3)BOF Richard Armitage (2)BOF Richard Armitage (6)BOF Richard Armitage (4)BOF Richard Armitage (5)BOF Richard Armitage (9)BOF Richard Armitage (7)BOF Richard Armitage (8)

Tom visiting his daughter’s apartment…

BOF Richard Armitage (11)BOF Richard Armitage (12)BOF Richard Armitage (13)BOF Richard Armitage (14)BOF Richard Armitage (15)BOF Richard Armitage (16)

In Susannah’s apartment after she gets home from a first stay in hospital…

BOF Richard Armitage (18)BOF Richard Armitage (19)BOF Richard Armitage (20)BOF Richard Armitage (22)

Rhona and Tom discussing their daughter. Also, Tom’s reactions to his daughter’s odd behaviour during dinner…

BOF Richard Armitage (23)BOF Richard Armitage (24)BOF Richard Armitage (25)BOF Richard Armitage (26)BOF Richard Armitage (27)BOF Richard Armitage (28)BOF Richard Armitage (29)BOF Richard Armitage (30)

Worried at the hospital…

BOF Richard Armitage (37)BOF Richard Armitage (39)BOF Richard Armitage (40)BOF Richard Armitage (42)BOF Richard Armitage (43)

Tom watching over his daughter…

BOF Richard Armitage (44)BOF Richard Armitage (47)

In the doctor’s office, desperate because there are no answers…

BOF Richard Armitage (48)BOF Richard Armitage (49)BOF Richard Armitage (50)BOF Richard Armitage (51)BOF Richard Armitage (52)BOF Richard Armitage (53)BOF Richard Armitage (55)BOF Richard Armitage (56)BOF Richard Armitage (57)

Worried at the hospital and Tom comforting Susannah’s boyfriend…

BOF Richard Armitage (58)BOF Richard Armitage (60)BOF Richard Armitage (61)BOF Richard Armitage (62)BOF Richard Armitage (63)BOF Richard Armitage (64)BOF Richard Armitage (65)

More worries…

BOF Richard Armitage (69)BOF Richard Armitage (70)BOF Richard Armitage (71)BOF Richard Armitage (72)

Talking with Rhona and then standing alone in the dark. I love the standing alone in the dark shot (and there’s the diary in his hand, which has no place at all in the storyline).

BOF Richard Armitage (73)BOF Richard Armitage (74)BOF Richard Armitage (75)BOF Richard Armitage (77)

Worries, then finally some good news, smiles and a tearful release…

BOF Richard Armitage (78)BOF Richard Armitage (79)BOF Richard Armitage (81)BOF Richard Armitage (82)BOF Richard Armitage (84)BOF Richard Armitage (85)BOF Richard Armitage (86)BOF Richard Armitage (87)

And I think this is my fave screencap.. hugs after the relieving news of a diagnosis… I just love those smile crinkles!

BOF Richard Armitage (88)

And then the happy ending… Susannah recovering and daddy Tom happily supporting her…

BOF Richard Armitage (92)BOF Richard Armitage (93)BOF Richard Armitage (94)BOF Richard Armitage (95)BOF Richard Armitage (96)BOF Richard Armitage (97)BOF Richard Armitage (98)

So, yeah, this may not be the greatest movie ever but it offers lots of Richard-goodies! Papa Richard is a lovely sight to behold. ❤

‘Mensch’ Gregory

I mentioned Gregory Peck in my last Armitage challenge post and it got me thinking that it’s been ages since I saw any Gregory Peck movies (Roman Holiday excepted, I still dip into that one on occasion). So, before I wrote that challenge post, but when I was already thinking about the answers, I re-watched To Kill a Mockingbird. It is the famous story of a Southern lawyer in the 1930s defending a black man falsely accused of raping a white girl. The story is told from the point of view of Atticus’ daughter, Scout…

Gregory Peck received an Oscar for this role, he is as a true ‘Mensch’ (Yiddish for a man of decency, honesty, warmth and integrity) in this!

I love the character of Atticus and I love Gregory Peck as Atticus even though for me this so highly acclaimed film can’t quite live up to the book. The book is richer than a two-hour movie adaptation of it ever could be… Still, it is a good adaptation and Gregory is quite excellent in this! People have always said that Gregory Peck, the man, was very much like Atticus Finch, and that idea fills me with even more joy.

Next, I went on to watch one of my other favourites of his called The Big Country, which is a very different kind of Western. Peck plays a captain who comes out west to marry the daughter (Carroll Baker) of a rancher but won’t be bullied into macho ways and refuses to be drawn into a feud between his fiancée’s father and a neighbouring rancher… The daughter finds it hard to accept the ‘cowardly’ behaviour of her intended, while the schoolteacher friend (Jean Simmons) does seem to ‘get’ it and tries to help the daughter see it. Charlton Heston also stars in this movie as the right hand man of the fiancée’s dad and much more suited to her than Gregory’s character; Burl Ives plays the family’s rival rancher… I love this story of a good man staying true to himself and I love the chemistry between Gregory Peck and Jean Simmons in this (click on images to enlarge)…

Yes, Gregory is a real ‘Mensch’ in this one too!

I have also been updating my Peck collection with some movies I had never seen before. In the old days when I was a big fan it was difficult to get my hands on those movies and in later years I never really tried… until now.

So last night I found myself watching a movie of his called Captain Newman MD. I’d read good things about it but had never seen it before and I don’t think people even remember this movie anymore. Admittedly, it is a little uneven to be one of the true classics but even so, I was quite impressed with it!

Peck plays an army psychiatrist at the end of WWII, tending to men who are driven over the edge from the horrors of war. He also constantly needs to defend his patients against the prejudice of mental illness, many tend to equal that to weakness of character. He is a real Mensch for his patients and the people around him and also struggles himself, dealing with all he experiences (he even gets drunk in one quite amusing scene).

The movie is not only tragic, it is funny as well. Captain Newman has an un-orthodox way of gathering staff for his unpopular ward. Tony Curtis plays such a ‘hi-jacked’ orderly who turns out to fill his new role with gusto and is responsible for the bigger laughs of the movie. Angie Dickinson plays a nurse that Newman recruits in his unorthodox way as well. His patients include Eddie Albert (who was also the photographer in Roman Holiday), Robert Duvall in an early role (he also played Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird!) and singer Bobby Darin, who won a supporting actor Oscar nomination for this role.

In one scene Darin is drugged and tells the doctor the harrowing story of his trauma. Darin does that very well, but what totally mesmerized me was Gregory Peck just reacting to it all… He doesn’t say anything, just reacts. I think it’s one of the best acting performances I have ever seen him give!

Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (7)

He holds the soldier after the tale is told, then puts him down to bed again. The look on his face is just heartbreaking…

Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (11)Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (15)

… and then he stares wordlessly out through the shutters…

Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (16)

Just… wow! He also questions the wisdom of patching up the men, only to send them off to war again, to destruction and possible new trauma or death… Not all the patients he treats have a happy end and I think the humour in the movie is meant to counterbalance the tragedy. The movie ends on a tragic and a happy note as well. I have to say, I really laughed when at the Christmas party at the end a group of Italian ‘POW’s perform ‘Hava Nagila’, which they think is an old American (i.e. Indian) song.

And the absolute joy on Gregory Peck’s face as he claps along to it, makes up for some of the tragedy…

I’m so glad I finally got to see this! I know I’ll be going back to it again.

Next up: re-watching Gentleman’s Agreement, a movie Peck made in 1947 about a journalist posing as a Jewish man so he can learn about anti-Semitism! I remember it being quite good, an early Mensch-Gregory example, but it has been years and years since I’ve seen it. I wonder how it will hold up for me when I see it again…

For me right now it seems that Gregory Peck is filling a certain “Mensch-void” that I see around me when I look at certain public figures in the world today. Looking at him in his Mensch-roles makes me feel a little better in these divisive times. I just hope there are still enough like him out there in the world today…

The RA Challenge, part 4

And it’s the final part too (following on from parts 1, 2 and 3) of Guylty’s RA Challenge! Questions 25 to 31…

2017-ra-fandom-challenge

#25 Favourite Object/Prop in Context with a Character

The only object/prop that has prompted its own blog post on here was Daniel Miller’s bike on Berlin Station! Loved seeing Richard speed around on that bike. I felt it wasn’t featured enough on the show…

#26 Favourite Costume worn by RA

While researching this, I came to the conclusion that I like Richard to look grungy and scruffy in his roles! I first thought I’d answer Thorin Oakenshield here…

Thorin Oakenshield

…because I find that, although he looks fierce and magnificent, there is a huggable quality there as well! But in researching pictures of Richard in different roles (oh the chore!), I find that the costume that does something to my insides is Richard as John Proctor! I love him in that black coat with the collar standing up…

…or when he is seen without coat but with the linen shirt…

…or with no shirt at all (I even like the boots!)…

armitage proctor @washbasin

I also really liked him in civilian clothes as John Porter in Strike Back, especially in the first two episodes where he wore a scarf as well…

… and when his jacket came off, he then showed himself quite nicely in just jeans and a dirty, grungy t-shirt. The flimsy t-shirt shows off his physique and arms very well…

#27 Favourite Quote by a Character or RA

I don’t think I have a favourite Richard-quote, I’m not really one to remember quotes off the top of my head. Having said that, a few do spring to mind: “Look back at me”, or “You’ll not guess where I have been”, or “You don’t need Henry to explain”, or “You coming home with me?”, all of them from North and South. Yeah, I may have watched it too often…

Another quote that springs to mind is something he was quoted as saying in an interview once: “I was a beanpole with a nose I hadn’t grown into.”

#28 Favourite Climax (i.e. series finale, battle, conclusion of a subplot, etc.)

Well, I guess I just referenced it in the previous question. There are many climaxes that I liked that hit home with me, like the ending of The Crucible or Thorin dying in The Hobbit, John Porter rescuing the journalist in Strike Back or Harry proposing to Geraldine on The Vicar of Dibley. However, the climax I have watched most, hands down, is that train station finale of North and South. I really can’t count how often I have seen that, more than anything else in my life, I think! And it never gets old!

#29 A Moment That Made You Question Whether You Could Continue Fangirling For RA.

I was on a high when I discovered Richard in North and South and soon after I became very aware him, he also did Dibley and The Impressionists. I was Richard-obsessed at the time! But then he also did Guy of Gisborne on Robin Hood and Lucas North in Spooks and those characters really couldn’t entice me! I saw bits to start with but didn’t enjoy the shows and bailed. I postponed watching them for the longest time (even longer than I postponed watching the last 4 episodes of Berlin Station). I did later see things in Guy and Lucas that I found appealing, bits of Richard shining through, perhaps, but in those years (2008-2010 or so) I thought my Richard-obsessed days might be over. He was my fave (I’d still watch every interview and read every article and Christmas message) but not more or less so than my other fave Colin Firth. Then he did Strike Back and my attention was back into full-blown force. So much so, that he overtook Firth in my attention yet again and he has remained firmly in first place ever since!

#30 Will Anything Ever Replace RA in your Admiration?

When I was 15 I thought no one could surpass Gregory Peck…

When I was 30, I thought no one could surpass Colin Firth…

Now in my mid-forties, I think no one can surpass Richard Armitage!

richard_2a-20161016

But who knows what the future may bring? Never say never, but I can’t imagine surpassing feeling this level of involvement that I feel with Richard.

#31 What Would You Like to Say to RA Right Now?

I saw your latest tweet…

Armitage Farber tweets

Does this mean the London stage Oedipus and Antigone is happening at the beginning of 2018? I’ll so be there!

The End!

This challenge certainly deserved its name, finding answers to the questions was not always easy but it was always fun. Thanks Guylty! 🙂