On the stairs

Guylty shared a video clip on her blog of Richard Armitage filming Stay Close. In that video there was this short little scene of Richard running down some stairs which immediately reminded me of a movie scene from 10 Things I Hate About You. I made a gif of Richard’s running scene (no spoilers) and slowed it down a little…

10 Things I Hate About You is a great little movie from 1999 starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, it’s a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, set in an American high school. At one point Ledger serenades Stiles from the stairs overlooking the sports fields, which is just such a fun and lovely scene and it’s what I thought of when I saw Richard in the snippet above…

That in turn made me think of other dancing on the stairs scenes in movies, such as this iconic one of the Joker (Joaquin Phoenix) dancing on the stairs. I’ve yet to see the movie but have admired this scene already several times…

It also reminds me of Rocky running up the steps while training. I never liked Rocky, but the scene is quite nice,

I think of a few indoor dances on stairs scenes as well, like this one of James Cagney dancing down some stairs in a fictional White House…

If Richard wants to do some musical theatre, he could study the legendary Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson and his stair dance that he taught Shirley Temple in 1935.

Or from 2 minutes 30 in this video where Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance ‘The Continental’ on the stairs…

I doubt that Richard’s snippet of running down the stairs will become as iconic as these scenes I have just mentioned but it’s fun how such a little Armitage snippet can lead to such nice free associations.

Marry Me – 7 fantasy husbands

Nell participated in a challenge on her blog to name 7 fictional characters that she would marry on the spot (this is originally a challenge from another German blogger). I’m always one to fantasize, so I figured I’d just jump in and join the challenge as well.

The rule is that it’s all about the character and not about the actor who portrays him (all men, in my case). I know actors of course do influence my choice because favourite characters lead to favourite actors for me and vice versa. So, actors can not be completely ignored and characters played by my favourite actors are naturally on this list. 🙂

OK, on to the challenge: which 7 fictional characters am I so in love with that I could marry them?

1. I just had to pick a character portrayed by Richard Armitage and I considered Harry Kennedy from The Vicar of Dibley because he just feels so familiar, like I could know him in real life, or John Porter from Strike Back, a tough guy who can think for himself, but in the end I would just go for John Thornton. Ah, the way he and I could change the world together! And he sure can kiss…

2. Nell mentioned Joe Bradley, the reporter in Roman Holiday (as portrayed by Gregory Peck) and I thought I’d pick him too but then I thought of a few other characters Peck played who I wouldn’t mind marrying either. James McKay in The Big Country springs to mind, the quiet Easterner in the Wild West who has such moral fibre and is made of sterner stuff than most people think, and of course Atticus Finch who, in a way, reminds me a bit of my own father. I’ll just go with the Oedipus complex choice and pick Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. He’d be a good daddy to my children too.

3. Prince Edward (Richard Chamberlain) in the Cinderella movie The Slipper and the Rose because he was the first character that touched my romantic childhood heart.

4. Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) from The Mentalist because life would never be boring with him around and you know how deeply he can love once he lets you in.

5. Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) from Lucifer because who wouldn’t want a fierce looking but soft hearted angel at your side to fight for you?

6. Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones’s Diary. Yes, he’s uptight, but underneath all of that… woof! And he’s smart too, changing the world one high profile human rights law case at a time.

7. Captain Frederick Wentworth (embodied most perfectly by Ciaran Hinds) from Persuasion, a self-made man with a faithful heart and I would get to travel the world with him aboard his ship.

Compiling this list, I chose the characters that popped up in my mind quickest and another one of them was John Keating (so brilliantly portrayed by Robin Williams) from Dead Poets Society, so he gets an honourable mention.

I know that makes it technically eight men I would marry and if I think a little longer I could probably think of 10 more (ooh, maybe hotshot lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) from Suits or honourable FBI agent Jack Hudson (Yannick Bisson) from Sue Thomas F.B.Eye or even Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon) from Little House on the Prairie) but I’ll just leave it at this.

Persuasion adaptations

Jane Austen’s Persuasion is one of my favourite books. It’s a toss up for me whether I like Pride & Prejudice or Persuasion more. In 1995 there was a near perfect Persuasion adaptation made by the BBC, starring Amanda Root as Anne Elliot and Ciaran Hinds as Captain Frederick Wentworth.

I can’t tell you how often I have watched this version of Persuasion, I just love it. I also love how into the ending they also incorporated a little bit of the ending Jane Austen had orginially written before she changed it to the current ending (which is much better and contains that beautiful letter). If you’ve seen this adaptation, it’s the scene near the end where Captain Wentworth comes to speak to Anne in the name of his Admiral Croft and asks painfully whether Anne is indeed to marry her cousin Mr. Elliot. They are interrupted and she can never answer but that little scene is so nicely incorporated into the plot. I could go on about this adaptaion for ages, but I won’t right now.

In 2007 ITV made another adaptation with Sally Hawkins as Anne and Rupert Penry-Jones as Frederick.

While the main actors were lovely, some of the supporting cast was not (most notably the one who played Anne’s sister Mary) and they gave some good quotes out of sequence to other characters (why?). Also, what was up with the mad dash Anne did at the end through Bath? Despite it’s deficiencies I have gone back to this adaptation now and again and I like it well enough.

I even got my hands on a 1971 miniseries of Persuasion starring Ann Firbank as Anne and Bryan Marshall as Frederick.

Ann Firbank, by the way, was also with Richard Armitage in The Crucible.

That Persuasion version I only saw once, it was quite close to the book if I recall correctly but also slow moving and a little too serene. I did like Firbank and Marshall in their roles, though, with the right amount of unease and awkwardness and long silent looks.

There is also a 1960 miniseries, but according to Wikipedia that version is most likely lost. Seeing how popular Emma or Pride and Prejudice are, there haven’t been quite as many Persuasion adaptations but it looks like that is changing.

There is a new Persuasion movie in the making, starring Sarah Snook and Joel Fry. I’ve never heard of Sarah Snook before but I do ‘know’ Joel Fry from his supporting role in the fun movie Yesterday. The actors do look interesting, I hope they’ll be good and that the story/movie will be good as well.

There’s also a Netflix Persuasion movie in the making, starring Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot. Apparently it’s a modern retelling of the story and just yesterday I read that it will also star Henry Golding as Anne’s cousin Mr. Elliot. Gotta say I could see him in the role of Frederick as well. I really like Henry Golding.

No mention yet on who will play Frederick, so I am very curious to find that out. I’m also feeling a bit iffy about this project. Will it be any good? I’m neutral on Dakota Johnson but not so neutral on modern setting remakes. I’ve seen a few and many are not so great. Most notably, in the recent two or three years, Hallmark has been making some modern setting Austen movies that are loosely based on Jane Austen’s novels (though no Persuasion as yet) and they are all terrible. Sometimes I only recognize the names, the characters just aren’t there and the stories are so bare bone Austen, you could hardly call them Austen either.

Yesterday I watched another modern Austen adaptation made last year, this time a Persuasion one which is not Hallmark, but not far off that mark either. It’s called Modern Persuasion (uninspired title) and nope, that movie really wasn’t it. It tried a little too hard to be witty (although some jokes did make me smile). The story was there, the characters sort of as well but I have no idea why it was necessary to change the names so much. Anne Elliot (played by Alicia Witt) was called Wren Cosgrove and Frederick Wentworth (played by Shane McRae) was called Owen Jasper (really, how is that an improvement?). Witt was alright, even if a little too pouty, but McRae sadly had no Wentworth charisma whatsover, he looked uncomfortable in the role.

I have a feeling that the man who played the Captain Benwick character (actor Dominic Rains), named Sam Benson here, would have made a much better Captain Wentworth or Owen Jasper as he was called here.

I found most of this movie to be awkward, I hope the modern Netflix version that is being filmed will be much better than this.

There are a few good modern adaptations of Austen novels out there. I quite loved the Bollywood meets Hollywood Bride and Prejudice, I loved Bridget Jones’s Diary, I loved the YouTube webseries The Lizzie Bennett Diaries and Clueless is a pretty good modern Emma adaptation. Heck, I even (very surprisingly) enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that, despite being a costume drama, is very modern with the zombies added in. I so hope the new Persuasion set in modern times adaptation can fit in with those and won’t be like the Hallmark ones or the Modern Persuasion movie I just saw. The more traditional Persuasion that is being filmed has big shoes to fill and I have slightly higher hopes for that one. In any case, I am quite happy these adaptations are coming and I’m looking forward to seeing them.

King’s Day in quarantine again

It’s King’s Day here in The Netherlands today where we celebrate the king’s birthday (he’s 54 today). Normally the country errupts into one big orange festival but we’re still in Corona crisis quarantine lockdown, so it’s all low-key yet again. Last year we already spent an even more low-key King’s Day in lockdown at home. Quarantine isn’t as strict and as new as it was last year so this year we opted for a little more mobility.

Junior was picked up by three friends at the end of the morning and they spent the day having their own little party amongst themselves and walking in a nature area where they saw this…

Meanwhile at home mini me had some studying to do for exams tomorrow and I had some homework to do for my Stephen Macht drama masterclass that I hadn’t gotten around to earlier. I first watched a bit of our royal family on TV visiting the city of Eindhoven in the south for a socially distanced birthday celebration where they participated in a socially distanced talk show setting and played a virtual quiz game. It was good that I could fastforward a lot of it (hadn’t watched live from the beginning) as it wasn’t that interesting but I did get a bit of an impression.

I then turned to my homework, watching the drama Tender Mercies from 1983, a movie I hadn’t really heard of before, despite the movie earning an Oscar for best script and for best actor Robert Duvall. Thankfully, it really was a good movie…

Afterwards Mr Esther, mini me and I decided to drive to Den Haag and take a walk around there. Some cities were apparently very busy and people were asked to leave according to the news but Den Haag wasn’t bad at all. The sun was out, we got some fish to eat at a fish stand, the trams even had little Dutch and orange flags and it was at least a little bit festive as we walked around for maybe an hour and a half…

When we got home again, Junior was back and sitting in the sun in our front garden (yes, we have the flag out for the occasion, a thing Mr Esther always likes to do) with the cats around as well…

At 7 pm I had my third Stephen Macht drama masterclass which was again interesting (a longer post will follow at some later time). I do notice in the background that he has what looks like Billy bookshelves from Ikea (we have the same but in a lighter wood colour and in white).

After a late dinner the family reunited in the living room again to watch soccer on TV (Madrid versus Chelsea in the Champions League).

The day ended with some gazing at the beautiful full moon. Couldn’t get a good picture yet as it is still quite low and obscured by trees but I got a little something…

I hope next year we can have a real King’s Day with the country turning into an orange street party again with open air junk sales, music in the streets and cafés and restaurants open again to all the celebrating people. I hoped the same last year and look where that got me. Still, a woman can wish, can’t she?

Muted Oscars

As is our yearly tradition, our family friend came over last night to watch the Oscars with me, despite us having seen none of the movies. Well, I saw one, the Borat movie, but it hardly qualified me to pick favorites.

We had a nice dinner, then played Yahtzee with the family and then watched the red carpet arrivals. There’s a nice overview of red carpet looks here at Vogue, in case you’re interested. Lots of plunging necklines and bare skin for the ladies (I was sometimes worrying about possible wardrobe malfunctions) and glitter. My favourite was what the singer H.E.R. wore (never heard of her before), she looked gorgeous; I loved the colour of her outfit and that it was a pantsuit and the scarf on her head, also the long hair cascading down and even the glasses.

Most handsomely dressed man on the red carpet was Riz Ahmed to me (simple, sleek, elegant) and his wife looked quite gorgeous too.

I liked that there was less frenzy on the red carpet…

By the time the awards show started at 2 am our time, Mr Esther and the kids had already gone off to bed and it was just my friend and I who were still up. To keep ourselves awake and invested, I had a printout of the nominees at the ready where I could mark the winners and keep a tally of what movie won how many awards…

… and of course my friend and I gossiped throughout, which is always fun. We stayed awake with coffee (for her) and coca cola and M&Ms and some other snacks and it worked, we didn’t fall asleep.

I’ve heard several news outlets call the ceremony ‘muted’ and I’d have to agree with that. I liked the smaller venue and the tables making it all look a little more intimate…

… but even so, somehow there was a detachment, like no one knew quite how to act or react. It felt like everyone was making sure there was no jumping up and hugging and maybe they weren’t allowed to be too vocal for fear of spreading respiratory droplets as no one was wearing masks? In any case, there was this sense of detachment. There were very few clips, the nominees were just read out without any fanfare, apart maybe from the acting categories, where each actor received a short, cringy speech which only Joaquin Phoenix refused to participate in when he announced Best Actor.

I wasn’t really invested in any of the wins this year as I hadn’t seen the movies but I was quite happy when Emerald Fennell won for Best Original Screenplay, just because I like her and really liked her on Call the Midwife a few years back. I was pleased for Daniel Kaluuya as well for Best Supporting Actor.

His speech, however, did ramble on and I kinda wished he would just stop. He even thanked his parents for having sex at one point which prompted this reaction from his mother…

You can clearly see her mouthing “What’s he going on about?” and I was wondering the same thing.

There was a weirdish music quiz moment which ended with Glenn Close doing a “da butt” move…

I really liked her outfit too, by the way. Speaking of music, I’ve got to say that I didn’t really like any of the nominated songs. It was nice to see H.E.R. win but only because that meant I could admire her in her lovely outfit.

Nomadland ended up winning 3 Oscars, it’s already been on my “I want to watch” list as I quite like Frances McDormand and the director Chloé Zhao (in the middle below) made a good impression on me as well.

My favourite speech of the evening was given by the Best Supporting Actress Winner, the Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn. She had already disarmed me at the Bafta’s two weeks ago and I really enjoyed her at the Oscars too. She was fangirling over Brad Pitt and Glenn Close, she spoke about how weird it is to be competing for Best Actress when the films are all so different and the jokes about her sons made me laugh. She really makes me want to watch Minari as well.

The evening had a weird last hour. First off, the In Memoriam section was completely rushed, maybe because it was set to the upbeat tempo of Stevie Wonder’s I’ll Be Loving You Always. Some images lingered, while others just flew by. In honesty, I, with my limited skills, could probably make a better fan video than that… What was also weird was that the Best Picture Oscar came not at the end but before the Best Actress and Actor Oscars, that felt strange.

Last, but not least, the ending of the show was really abrupt. Apparently everyone had expected Chadwick Boseman to win Best Actor posthumously but in the end Anthony Hopkins won (again, I had no preference and was pleased for Hopkins, as I would have been for any of the others). Hopkins wasn’t there and there was no one to accept the award for him and so after the announcement of his win the show abruptly just ended. Totally weird. My friend and I just looked at each other in a “what was that?” kind of way. So, we switched off the TV at around 5.20 am and 10 minutes later we were snoozing in our beds.

There was a reaction from Anthony Hopkins this morning, which was quite endearing…

Overall, I was left feeling that I liked that this show had been more intimate, diverse and a little less flashy but it also missed some enthusiasm and it all felt a little strange. Quite fitting, maybe, as we do live in very strange times now.