Good bye Doris

Doris Day passed away today at the age of 97.

I first saw her movies in my teens, I loved her spunk and spark and quick wit, she had a great smile and laugh and a beautiful voice. I share a birthday with her – April 3rd – and that always made me feel connected to her in a way. I loved seeing her with Rock Hudson, especially in Pillow Talk.

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In fact, I loved Pillow Talk so much, I have seen it several times (and I can still recommend it, even if it is a little dated). Some 6 or 7 years ago it was showing in a cinema and I organized a movie-night with some colleagues to go and see it on the big screen.

Two nights ago, on Saturday, I was feeling very tired after a busy week. I took some alone time, taking my laptop with me to my bedroom, and on a whim decided to watch Pillow Talk again to cheer me up. I don’t know what made me pick that, I could have picked any of so many other cheer-me-up-movies, but Pillow Talk it was, for the first time since that movie night. It feels like a very odd coincidence to me today.

Doris Day had great chemistry with not only Rock Hudson, I also really  loved her with James Garner, Rod Taylor and David Niven. She was very expressive and I loved that about her too.

I’m not going to go into a whole filmography and obituary of Doris Day, others can do that way better than I can…

But I am going to say thank you, Doris Day, for the smiles and laughs and touching my heart. I’ll leave you with her greatest hit…

Rest in peace, Doris Day. Your memory already is a blessing to me.

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A cheer-me-up post

I need some cheering up after another attack took place yesterday, this time in Utrecht which is about half an hour away from where I live. When will this killing end?!?

Anyway… so, this cheered me up yesterday (before I knew about the Utrecht attack) and still cheers me up today: Richard finding his old Guy of Gisborne leathers!

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Look what I just found in an old washing bag 😮

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Yup!!!

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(I for one would be curious to see those episode 1 North & South scribbles!).

Then, last night, to cheer myself up after I switched off the news, I finally finished a video I had started making a long time ago but had never gotten around to finishing yet. It’s a fan video for the not so known but in my eyes absolutely wonderful Danish film starring Pierce Brosnan called Love Is All You Need. The Danish original title is way better: Den Skaldede Frisør (which translates to The Bald-Headed Hairdresser). The film is full of heart without being sappy and you can see a trailer here. I made another video for this film a few years ago which can be found near the bottom of my Pierce Brosnan fan video page, along with a brief description of what the movie is about. I needed to do something with love, after all the hatred of the past few days, and this video is all about that (set to John Denver’s Annie’s Song). When I heard that John Denver song again a few months back somewhere, suddenly images of this movie flashed through my head when I listened to the lyrics. So, the video begged to be made and now I have finally finished it. Beware that, if you haven’t seen the film and you still wish to do so, this video is full of spoilers!

And last but not least today, while I was having lunch on my own for a change, eating a delicious falafel in town close to my office, I happened upon this little gem of a video. It’s a choir flash mob on an airplane, by the choir that also sang at Harry’s and Meghan’s wedding last year. I’ve seen it before but this time it gave me goosebumps.

I guess we can all use a little solidarity and a feeling of people standing by each other.

It’s good to know there is also a lot of good in this world.

Oscars 2019

My friend came over yesterday evening to stay up all night with me to watch the Oscars, as we do together every year (and we always take the Monday off work afterwards). We watched and I needed to blog about it, which also incidentally ties in perfectly to Herba’s and Pö’s next ‘Mach Was’ challenge that was announced yesterday: do something with awards! So, here goes: with my own fake Oscar that I have owned for many years and something to nibble and drinks, we were ready to watch the Oscars show…

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First the red carpet, of course, which we were able to see through Eonline on my TV. The kids have the week off school this week and were going to watch with us but gave up during the red carpet before the awards show even started (for us it starts at 2 am). There were some nice and not so nice outfits on the red carpet, my friend and I tended to not like the overfluffed dresses. There’s a whole overview HERE if you want to take a gander. My friend’s heart stopped dead for a moment when she spotted Jason Momoa on the red carpet. She has always liked him, I think now she’s in love. He did look wonderful with wife Lisa Bonet by his side…

The show itself was alright but a bit boring for most of it. Queen opening the Oscars was pretty cool, though:

… and the 3 ladies (Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) opening the show were quite fun. Maybe they should headline the Oscars show next year!

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Regina King quickly won Best Supporting Actress and then a load of other awards, more technical and costume and such, followed. The speeches and most of the show were a little dull, though. Lots of tears too. Anyway, my friend took a few pictures off the TV screen of some of the presenters during the evening…

We both like James McAvoy and Paul Rudd; Melissa McCarthy very much amused us in that over the top outfit she wore to present costume awards. A big highlight for us was seeing Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga perform “Shallow” together. When this moment happened (another picture taken off my TV screen), our hearts completely melted:

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Here is that performance in full on YouTube, we found it mesmerizing. I know Lady Gaga has a good voice, but boy, does Bradley sound good too!

Also, I highly anticipated seeing Richard E. Grant reacting to seeing Barbra Streisand live in the flesh on stage (she was introducing Spike Lee’s BlacKKKlansman).

Richard E. Grant has been gleefully joyful about his Oscar nomination. Watching his Twitter feed in recent weeks has been an absolute delight. He has been gushing about being a Streisand fan since the age of 14 and when he finally saw her live on stage, the camera showed his ‘Wow’ and it was just endearing!

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In the past two hours, as I type this, he has also chronicled meeting Streisand after the show for real:

There’s even a selfie, albeit a little blurry:

The true highlight for me came at the end, when Olivia Colman won Best Actress. I was rooting for her or Melissa McCarthy, I would also have liked to see Glenn Close win, but when Olivia won in the end, I was extremely happy!

Also, I just knew the speech would be fun…

… and how cool was it that she blew that raspberry!

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I have also just watched her press room appearance after the show, and there too she is just as adorable:

It’s cute that even my fave, Richard Armitage, loved to see Olivia Colman win!

So, what do I think of the winners? I like that there was not one movie sweeping up all the Oscars. Also, I’m fine with most of the acting awards. I would have preferred a Richard E. Grant win for Supporting Actor but I also really like Mahershala Ali, so was fine with him winning. I was happy with Regina King also, only Rami Malek was a bit of a disappointment to me. I would have preferred to see Bradley Cooper win, I thought he gave a phenomenal performance in A Star is Born.

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Also, one day I truly want to see Amy Adams win that Oscar! After 6 nominations, it’s time. I didn’t think Vice was the one she should win it for, but it’s time. I would have given her the Oscar for Arrival. She wasn’t nominated for it that year but she should have been and would have been a much more worthy winner than Emma Stone for La La Land (such an overrated film!), in my humble opinion.

As for Green Book winning Best Picture? I quite liked the movie, but to me it wasn’t Best Picture worthy. From the list of nominees I only haven’t seen Roma and BlacKKKlansman yet, and I have a sneaking suspicion that one of those two (especially BlacKKKlansman) would have been a better choice. That or Can You Ever Forgive Me, if it had been nominated, would have been a better win for me.

So, all in all, this was not the most exciting Oscars in the books. Due to there not being any host for the evening, it all felt a little rushed. That was good (made the show seem less endless) and bad at the same time. Part of the fun of watching the Oscars is enjoying, or taking the mickey out of, the main host. Usually, my friend and I get to bed after the Oscars at around 6 am, this time we went to bed at around 5.15 am. Even if I was a little underwhelmed with the whole show, there were some little gem highlights that I think I will remember very fondly for a while (Olivia, Bradley & Gaga, and Richard & Barbra) So, even though I’m tired now, being up all night for this wasn’t a waste. 🙂

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.

To all the Catholic priests I’ve known before…

News this morning (yesterday morning by the time I publish this) is that Richard Armitage has a new role coming up…

… and I really like the sound of this. Finally an Armitage project for me to get excited about! He’s going to be playing a Catholic priest, “handsome Father Quart”, who solves mysteries. I know nothing of this story or this character but I am curious and I am quite partial to priests. In fact, priests have been on my mind recently, ever since Herba blogged about “The Thorn Birds syndrome” on her blog last week. It’s as if she felt some priest-announcement in the air. 😉

Due to my father’s work, we were friends with a lot of religious people. We grew up around nuns, we were friends with rabbis and priests. One of our favourite people was a Dutch Melkite (Greek Catholic order) priest who lived on top of a mountain in the Lower Galilee in Israel. Father Jacob, but we called him Uncle Jacob, was like a granddad to us and we visited him and his tiny community regularly. He had this beautiful little chapel hewn into the rock which I think still may be my favourite chapel ever…

Until we saw The Thorn Birds in the early 1980s I had never thought of priests as sexy, but then Richard Chamberlain was on the screen as Father Ralph de Bricassart and we loved it. I think my mum even had a bit of a crush on Father Ralph, I had the same crush. Can you blame us? Just look!

Now that’s a handsome and sexy priest. Will Richard be anything like that as Father Quart? I wouldn’t mind! By the way, not only Richard Chamberlain was sexy in this, I quite liked Christopher Plummer as a cardinal as well.

And my fave actor during my teens, Gregory Peck, has also played priests. It’s been ages since I’ve seen him in Keys of the Kingdom from 1944, one of his first starring roles, where he plays a priest that starts a mission in China. Even though he ages to an old man in the movie, he really is baby-Gregory as a priest. Very cute. 🙂

In the 1980s I also saw him in The Scarlet and the Black, a TV miniseries where he plays a Monsignor at the Vatican who hides POW’s during WWII. That too I haven’t seen in ages… In that one Christopher Plummer was a Nazi Commander, by the way.

Another priest I remember seeing in a movie was Bing Crosby in The Bells of St. Mary’s. I never was much of a Bing Crosby fan, I saw this movie for Ingrid Bergman, whom I do love. In the last picture of this group, they’re petting a kitten. Awww!

There was some comedy in St Mary’s and another movie about a priest (and a rabbi) that had some light-heartedness to it was a faith and romantic comedy called Keeping the Faith, starring Edward Norton, Ben Stiller and Jenna Elfman. I actually saw Keeping the Faith again recently and yeah, I still like it. Edward Norton looks very nice in a collar.

From comedy to darkness and Max von Sydow as a priest in The Exorcist. I have only ever seen that movie once (not my genre) and also barely remember it, but I do remember thinking that Von Sydow was good.

Another priest I liked was Jeremy Irons in The Mission, which I saw in the cinema in the 1980s, but also haven’t seen since, I don’t think. In class, in high school, we had to write a poem about a picture and I even wrote a poem about this one from that movie…

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I wonder if I still have that poem somewhere, I remember writing it before I had even seen the movie, I just liked the image so much. That movie also starred Robert DeNiro and Liam Neeson as priests…

… and Liam Neeson as priest reminded me of a movie called Silence that I saw two years ago, which impressed me. Besides Neeson, it mostly starred Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield and also briefly Ciaran Hinds. Ciaran looks very dashing as a priest, I have to say.

That movie was a little grimy and gritty, just like Pilgrimage was, in which Richard killed priests instead of being one…

At least he could already practice with taking Communion…

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These are all the Catholic priests that sprung to my mind (I’m sure there must be more but they didn’t pop-up in my head) when I read about Richard’s new role. He’ll be joining this nice line-up of actors before him and  I can hardly wait to see him dressed and act as a priest. He already looks good in a collar (of sorts) after all…

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… he’ll be a knock-out in a priest’s robes.

I think I’m going to see if I can track down the book somewhere, my curiosity has been awakened! It feels good to be excited about an Armitage project again. 🙂