The Mystery Blogger Award

Herba, on her Unkraut vergeht nicht… oder doch? blog, has nominated me for The Mystery Blogger Award. Thank you for thinking of me, Herba! You can read her contribution to the award (in German) here.

So, what is The Mystery Blogger Award? I didn’t know how it works either, but here are the rules and here is the logo that goes with it:mystery-blogger-award-logo

About The Mystery Blogger Award:

This is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates, it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.

Okoto Enigma is the creator of the award. To motivate the Blogger please do visit her blog.

The Rules of the Award:

– Put the award logo/image on your blog.
– List the rules.
– Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
– Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
– Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
– You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.
– Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
– Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
– Share a link to your best post(s).

My responses to 3 things about myself:

Hmmm, 3 things about myself… I could say many things, but I have said a lot of things about myself on blog before so I had to think a bit about what I maybe haven’t said before. Not quite sure if these things are totally new, but hopefully these 3 things about me are somewhat newish…

1.  I never drink coffee, I just do not like it, not even when it’s a tiny bit of coffee with a lot of milk! For years when I went to my parents’ house my dad would always offer, “Esther, do you want a cup of coffee?” It was this little joke between us because I would always say, “Nope, I still hate it!” I do love tea, though, especially herbal teas.

2.  I come from a large family, I am number 6 of 8 children. Half of my brothers and sisters are adopted (two of Palestinian and two of Ethiopian descent). Kids just sort of happened to appear on our doorstep, due to social projects my mother was involved in when we lived in Israel in my youth, and my parents just kept the kids who were alone in the world and adopted them later. 🙂 I have always loved our large, colourful family, warts and all. When I was a pre-teen I read a book called The Family Nobody Wanted about a couple that ends up adopting 12 children of different ethnic backgrounds and I really identified with that, as it was close to my own family experience as well! I still have that book.

All of this made me want to have 8-12 children myself and I wanted to adopt most of them! That idea quickly changed, however, when I got children of my own. I love them, I love having them in my life, but I couldn’t imagine juggling 8 or, God forbid, 12 children on a daily basis! And adoption in The Netherlands? So much more complicated, so many rules, such a long waiting period (up to 5 years!) and more expensive than the way my parents were able to do it in the 1970s… So yeah, I’m just very happy with my 2 kids now and enjoy having a lot of siblings, some of whom look nothing like me.

3.  I am NOT a morning person, I prefer to not go to bed before 1 am. It’s a real struggle getting to bed at around 11 pm on work nights.

Responses to the 5 questions Herba posed:

1. Do you have a phobia?

Yep, spiders!!! I can tolerate mice and snakes and scorpions but I can not do spiders!

2. Are you working in your dream job?

There’s a huge problem with this question: I don’t know what my dream job is! What I want to do changes all the time. Sometimes I want to be a kick ass social worker or children’s psychologist, sometimes I want to be a writer, or a web designer, or I want to go back to librarianship which is what I trained for (after trying psychology and English as fields of study first). I’ve wanted to be a teacher and a translator, I have wanted to be a journalist or a stills photographer on a TV or film set, I have wanted to be an aid worker in a developing country. What I can say is that I always look for jobs in a social field and so far, to my great satisfaction, I have worked for government, education and development aid organizations. Right now I have an IT-related job for an organization that provides healthcare and educational advice for children and youngsters and I very much enjoy it. That doesn’t stop me from still envisioning other career paths, though.

3. As a child, did you have a favourite book, a favourite movie or tv series, and a favourite singer or music group? What are your current 3 favourites?

  • Favourite book, that I read when I was about 9 or so, was a simplified children’s version of Jane Eyre and the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
  • Favourite TV series was Little House on the Prairie and I loved the first movie I remember seeing in the cinema, a Cinderella movie called The Slipper and the Rose.
  • I’m not sure I had a favourite singer or group as a kid. I do remember loving ABBA songs and I liked Boney M. My absolute favourite song was Ma Baker by Boney M:

Current favourites:

  • Favourite book: Jane Eyre is still up there, along with Jane Austen’s books Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice, but I think I’d have to go with To Kill a Mockingbird as my favourite. I still remember reading it for the first time, it was almost like a religious experience, it spoke to my very being.
  • Favourite movie – I love so so many but I think my all time favourite still is Roman Holiday. Favourite TV series: I love so many, I couldn’t just pick one. Latest obsession is Suits.
  • I already once blogged about all my musical favourites throughout my life. My current fave for the last few years has been English band Muse. Just for fun, here’s a song I haven’t linked to before in other posts; it’s one of my faves and is called Hysteria. I have blogged about 2Cellos covering Hysteria but here is Muse’s original:

4. If you could walk in someone else’s shoes for 24 hours, who would it be and why would it be that person specifically? 

I had no idea what to answer here so I asked Mr Esther who he thought I’d like to be for a day. He immediately shot out a reply: Colin Firth’s wife! And, oh my goodness, he is right! The man knows me well. 🙂 Livia Firth is smart and socially very conscious, she’s an Eco warrior with her own consulting firm through which she tries to make the fashion world a more fair place and, extremely importantly, she’s married to Colin Firth! So, yes, I wouldn’t mind being Livia Firth for a day and I know exactly on which day as well: I want to be Livia with Colin Firth on Oscar night! They had a great Oscar night in 2011 when Colin won the Oscar for The King’s Speech. They got all dressed up together (click on images to enlarge)…

… and looked quite lovey-dovey and had fun on the red carpet together…

… Colin kissed Livia when his Oscar win was announced. Ah, to be on the receiving end of Colin’s kiss..

… and Livia and Colin had fun together after the win…

So, I’d like to be either Livia on Oscar night, or I wouldn’t mind being Richard Armitage’s make up artist Tami Lane on The Hobbit for a day, specifically this day when these pictures were taken…

5. McDonald’s or Burger King?

I’m not really a fan of either. I think there are more McDonald’s than Burger Kings here in The Netherlands. I never go to Burger King, I think I can count on one hand the amount of times in my life that I’ve entered a Burger King. I do go to McDonald’s and the reason for that is not the food (I rarely eat anything there) but I do love the milkshakes! So, I choose McDonald’s for the milkshakes. Mr. Esther likes the coffee there.

Mystery Blogger nominations and my 5 questions

Nominating others is always a tough one. I’ll just throw a few names out there, but feel free to ignore or jump in, whichever! And if your name isn’t here but you’re inspired to answer, please feel free to!

So, the nominations first (trying to not nominate anyone already nominated by Herba):

Violet | SueBC | Lady Butterfly | Sarah | Gratiana | Linnetmoss | Heather | Obscura | BerLinda | Richard

And my 5 questions:

  1. Your favourite genre of book or movie? Name 3 examples of each.
  2. Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life and who should play your partner? (If you don’t have a partner, you can make up a mystery one! Even if you do have a partner, you can make up a mystery one. 🙂 )
  3. Are you sunrise, daylight, twilight, or night? Please explain why.
  4. If you won the lottery what would you do?
  5. Tacos for life or sushi for life?

Tag, you’re it if you want to be!

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Depressing & loveless film festival

Once every 6 months the Pathé cinema chain here in The Netherlands organizes a one-day film festival where 5 new movies are shown back to back, simultaneously in several cinemas throughout the country. It’s always on a Sunday, starting at 10.30 am and ending around 11 pm. I’ve written about previous PAC festivals here and here and have also been to one or two more before I started blogging. I can safely say that the one I went to yesterday was the most depressing of all! My friend and I had gotten tickets before we knew the complete line-up and yeah, we may not do that ever again. Next time, we wait for the line-up first. The line-up this time was this:

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I ended up going to this thing alone without my friend as she called the night before to tell me she was really sick (a suspected kidney infection) and really couldn’t go. She urged me to go on my own, as the tickets were already paid for, and after a little hesitation I did.

The morning started at 10.30 am with a Russian movie called Loveless. In hindsight, I found this to be the best movie of the day. It’s about a married couple (actors Maryana Spivak and Alexei Rozin) who are about to divorce. They are so caught up in their own lives (with new lovers each) and hating each other, they ignore their 12-year-old son (Matvey Novikov). The effect that this planned divorce has on him is heartbreaking to see and is so well acted by the young boy! Then one day the boy is gone and the couple must team up to search for him…

This movie is bleak! And Loveless is a very fitting title. There is no love lost between the divorcing couple, no love for their son, a loveless relationship is hinted at between the mother and her mother and also briefly shown. Basically the main players are incapable of love and the little boy is the victim in all of this. The movie has a matter-of-fact calmness to it, with some very nice cinematography and very good acting by all, but so bleak and cold, it left me depressed at the end. Even so, it was a good movie! I read that it’s being submitted to the Oscars as a Best Foreign Language film, and rightly so, I believe.

If I had hoped for something a little lighter for the second movie, which was shown after lunch, then those hopes were quickly dashed by You Never Really Were Here with Joaquin Phoenix. It’s about a man named Joe who used to be in the army but is now a tormented and brutal enforcer and lives a lonely life. He goes on a mission to rescue a missing young teenage girl, leaving a lot of bodies in his wake. The rescue mission then takes an unexpected turn…

I read that in Cannes the movie got a 7 minute standing ovation, it’s also getting very good reviews. While I thought the movie was quite good, I wouldn’t go so far as giving it a standing ovation (not even for one minute). Maybe it was just too dark and violent for me, I don’t know. What I can say, however, is that Joaquin Phoenix really is very good as Joe. He won the Best Actor Award at Cannes for this and I can see why. He is a very good portrayer of a tormented soul. And I guess, you could see this movie as a continuation of the loveless theme of the first movie – Joe does live with his old mother and there is some love there, but his life is mostly loveless and lonely. I could sort of deal with the bleakness, the violence less so.

After these two movies I was more depressed than ever. Then came a 15 minute break after which the movie The Glass Castle was shown, with Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts. The Glass Castle is based on a true story, to quote from IMDB: “A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.”

It’s a childhood spent running away from debts, living in utter poverty and squatting in homes. While there is a lot of love there, it also shows that only love really isn’t enough. Jeannette, the second daughter, after many disappointments, decides to get away and make a better life for herself. Again, I liked the movie alright but couldn’t love it. It was really mostly a portrait of a daughter and her father. I could relate to that and because of that, at the end I did wipe away a tear, but I was left with mixed feelings. In the end, it felt like that which wasn’t right was brushed under the carpet. We see the parents neglecting the kids, almost starving them at times, they gave them no ounce of security, they for a long time refused to send them to school ‘because real life is the real school’, they once left them with an abusive grandmother for a week and the kids literally had to escape to get away and make their own way in the world. But hey, the parents really loved them, so in the end it was no big deal and all OK, right? Nah, that really didn’t do it for me! It was a typical American feel-good ending and glossing over all that had gone before. Again, the acting was very good but the movie itself was not so great.

While I was a little less depressed after this movie, I was left with a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. Luckily it was time for dinner. There was 90 minutes for that, so I took a walk to clear my head before I got myself a quick bite to eat. The cinema is right near a river and it felt good to be in the air and moving around a bit. The boat in the picture on the right is called ‘Grace Kelly’, by the way. Very fitting name to come across on a one-day film festival.

The first evening film was Stronger with Jake Gyllenhall about the aftermath of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing. It’s a true story about Jeff Bauman who loses both his legs (below the knee) in the blast and has to deal with building a new life with his disability amidst all the media attention that comes with role of survivor and ‘hero’.

Again, great acting by Gyllenhall, Tatiana Maslany as his girlfriend Erin who forces him to grow up and Miranda Richardson as his mother. I liked the way it was filmed, it had a real look and feel and it was different from other ‘inspirational’ true stories. Jeff’s struggles looked real and especially the scene where his bandages come off really stuck with me in its no-fuss portrayal. The thing I didn’t that much like was the end when he basically succumbed to American heroism after finally finding peace in his situation. There is a bit of an American patriotic streak in all of this (as in very many movies coming from the US) and I have always had iffy feelings about that. Because of that, I think this movie may be more powerful for US audiences than it is for European ones.

After another 15 minute break, the final film was Good Time with Robert Pattinson. It’s a heist movie about two brothers. They rob a bank, which goes awry and the mentally challenged brother, Nick (Ben Safdie), gets arrested. Connie (Pattinson) in the night that follows tries everything he can to free his brother

While Pattinson really was excellent, this movie did absolutely nothing for me! The gritty feel was alright, what I really didn’t like was the close up, jerky filming style. It was so tiring to look at that I found myself closing my eyes occasionally. I didn’t quite nod off to sleep but I could have. While commendable that Connie tries everything for his brother, he just sinks deeper and deeper into shit. How these brothers came onto this track is never explained, why Connie thinks therapy is bad for Nick, I don’t know. I really did not like this movie and almost regretted having stayed for it. I had stayed for Pattinson, I generally find him to be quite a good actor and he really was good here, but he couldn’t save the movie for me. That whole world was just too gritty and ugly and, except for the brothers caring for each other, it felt very loveless and grim as well. Why it’s called Good Time is a little beyond me, Pointless might have been a better name. Maybe I would have liked it more if it hadn’t been the last in a line of loveless and depressing movies…

My ranking for the movies I saw at the 17th PAC Festival would be:

  1. Loveless
  2. Stronger
  3. You Never Really Were Here
  4. The Glass Castle
  5. Good Time

I had to take public transport (tram and train) followed by a 10 minute bike ride home and as it was night, there was less public transport available. What normally would have taken a maximum of an hour, took me an hour and a half. It meant I had time to catch up on news on my phone, with the whole #TakeTheKnee Trump versus NFL confrontation in the US (seriously, how can this man STILL be president??) and the devastating news that Nazis have made it into German parliament for the first time since WWII. I do realize 87% did not vote for them, but still they got enough votes to get into parliament! Seriously, after those 5 movies and the news, I felt like the world was coming to an end… When I finally fell into bed at 12.45 am my brain was so fried, I thankfully quickly fell into a deep sleep.

This sickly feeling, though a little lighter now than last night, has prevailed throughout the day today and I hope that writing all this up helps lighten the load. And a word of the wise: don’t ever watch all these films in one day!

Miss Fisher movie crowdfunding!

It’s no secret that I have fallen in love with the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries; I have made a handful of fan videos for the show, after all. Season 4 ended something like this for Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) and Jack Robinson (Nathan Page)…

… which was really a very open-ended ending. The good thing about open ends is that it sparks a lot of fan fiction, the bad thing is that you really want to see what happens next and you can’t!

For a while now there has been talk of a sequel in the form of a movie but financing has been a problem. Last spring there was a report of the script being discussed with the actors, but there has been no go ahead as yet for the project. So, the team have come up with crowdfunding as a solution! Here’s a video of Nathan Page (on the Miss Fisher Facebook page) getting the idea to crowdfund:

And here’s the link to the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, explaining in more detail what they want to do: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/468758721/miss-fisher-the-movie.

Also, two images I’d like to share that I have borrowed off that Kickstarter page; one explaining what makes Miss Fisher special and the other because the image is just lovely…

Miss Fisher director's statementMiss Fisher plane

Yeah, I think I need to back this one. Feel free to do so as well, if you care to. 🙂

FlixChatter Review: PILGRIMAGE (2017)

Ruth on Flixchatter, a blog I very much enjoy and have been following for a while, has reviewed Pilgrimage. Ruth is an advocate for independent film (she is just now finishing making her own first short film called Hearts Want, info on Facebook if you’re curious: https://www.facebook.com/heartswantfilm/) and she liked “Pilgrimage”.

Of Richard Armitage as Raymond de Merville she says: “Armitage is good but I feel like he’s basically reprising his role as Guy of Gisborne in BBC Robin Hood, though his French is rather impressive.”

Have a read if you like and check out her “Hearts Want” Facebook page too. I helped crowdfund that movie. 🙂

FlixChatter Film Blog

It’s been ages since I’ve got time to write a review, but I knew I had to write one for this after I saw it last weekend.

I’ve mentioned PILGRIMAGE all the way back in January 2016. It’s been a long time coming but I’m glad I got to see it on the big screen (though it’s a shame it’s only playing in a single theatre in Twin Cities suburbs with odd screen times!)

In 13th century Ireland, a group of monks must escort a sacred relic across an Irish landscape fraught with peril.

The premise is simple, but it’s packs a punch in terms of its thought-provoking story and the unrelenting violence these monks face along the journey. It opens with a horrific stoning of Saint Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot following his betrayal. The barren landscape of Ireland, an island on the edge of the…

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The Yorkshire Dales

Just a few more picture impressions to share from our holiday… Of the ducks at our campsite, for instance. There are so many of them! I love seeing them quack and waddle around although my son in his tent is less happy with them… their quacking right next to his ear each morning wakes him up before he wants to wake up.

We also passed through the village if Middleham, where Richard III (him again – a bit of a theme for us this holiday!) spent part of his childhood in the castle there (now a ruin).

 

 

The area is also known for horse-racing and we promptly walked by some stables next to the castle…

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We visited Aysgarth Falls in the Yorkshire Dales…

This is apparently also the location where the river fight between Robin Hood and Little John was filmed in the 1991 movie Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves:

The Dales are so beautiful, pictures can hardly do them justice! And yet we tried to capture some of the wonder (click to enlarge)…

When we saw a litte red car in the distance on one of the narrow roads, Mr Esther, a grown man of 46, exclaimed, “Hey, there’s Postman Pat!”

Another filming location we drove through was a village, Askrigg, that was used for external scenes in the 1970s/1980s TV series All Creatures Great and Small.

The series was about the Yorkshire vet James Herriott and Mr Esther kept on saying how he loved watching that TV series in his youth and how that show defined the look of the English countryside for him. It really was a great show, we also enjoyed watching it at my house, so we both were mildly excited at actually driving through this village.

We were also quite high up in the Dales at one point, it really felt like the middle of nowhere. It was quiet and windy and very chilly up there (see my shivering son) and oh so beautiful!

We start our journey back home on Thursday. We’ve totally blown our budget for this holiday but even so, I’m really not ready to leave yet…