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.
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Been watching the BBC and the Brexit deal vote all evening. 202 Members of Parliament voted for Theresa May’s Brexit deal and 432 MP’s have voted against. What next, I wonder, with 2/3 of parliament against the deal? But I don’t want to go into politics here, rather I’d liked to focus on the speaker of the House of Commons.

I think for the first time ever I really noticed the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. I rarely watch any UK parliamentary debates, mostly only see highlights on the news and those don’t show the speaker so much. This evening, however, I have been watching Jeremy Corbyn’s and Theresa May’s speeches in parliament live on TV and John Bercow stood out. Watching the House of Commons is always an interesting show with all the shouting going on and I looked on in admiration how this little man, looking a bit despotic, tried to keep control of the session. I know nothing of the man or his politics but his handling of rowdy MP’s just made me laugh. Been looking on YouTube and found some good clips, like this one from last year…

or this one…

I’m sure he must sometimes seem crass or make people angry, and I wonder if he can even be seen as bullying, but goodness, parliament is LOUD and you really do need someone knowledgeable with good vocal chords calling MP’s out on their behaviour to keep control over parliament! I know I couldn’t do it…

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. 🙂

#Armitage fans – Burned by @DigitalTheatre’s Crucible?How to Help

Still no reaction from Digital Theatre? Here’s what we can try, thank you to Perry for initiating this!

Armitage Agonistes

At this stage, with no really helpful reply or action from Digital Theatre, I’m proposing that Richard Armitage fans make a concerted, signal-boosted effort to get @DigitalTheatre’s attention and action – through Twitter and Facebook. (Meanwhile, keep those emails going)

Many Richard Armitage fans, and probably other DT customers, have faced a frustrating time these past weeks trying to gain access to The Crucible on the DT website.  it started with change in Terms of Service, and hasn’t ended yet. The solution DT is proposing is just sending us around in circles, receiving the same useless email responses, IT order tickets, inaccessibility to the site, and most frustratingly – notices that they’re closed over a holiday that ended over a week ago.

It appears that although they are claiming a backlog – not ONE customer has had success. in accessing The Crucible or even getting resubscribed to the site.

You…

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More fangirling in London!

Well, not only fangirling, we mostly did touristy stuff… As I already blogged about in my previous post, my 15 year old son and I were in London this past weekend and what a lovely time we had!

We went inside Tower Bridge and walked on the glass floor there, looking down!

My son was fearless about that and while I did do it briefly, I found it scary. But I did it – yay me! We also saw the engine room…

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… and when we finished our tour, we were greeted by a cannon salute across the river!

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OK, so the salute wasn’t for us but for the Queen’s 91st birthday. Still, we felt honoured. 🙂

We passed through Westminster…

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… and went on to Portobello Road in Notting Hill…

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… which was also a bit of fangirling for me as it reminded me of the lovely movie Notting Hill. The Notthing Hill thing was a spontaneous idea; if I had thought of it sooner, I would have researched it better and would have fangirled my way to Hugh Grant’s front door from that movie.

That evening my son and I went to see The Lion King musical, which we both very much enjoyed (we had a good view from the front row of the Grand Circle)…

While we were walking to the theatre, we passed by Covent Garden and walked by a street artist/comedian getting ready to do his thing. The street artist looked straight at my son and in his microphone announced “Ah, there we have Justin Bieber”! I had to laugh and the whole crowd turned to look at my son as we scurried along and my son turned beet-red! He has been compared to a younger Justin Bieber before and he hates it… I know I’m probably an awful mother but I have ribbed him about this incident regularly and in hindsight he now also has started seeing some of the humour in it.  He still insists he looks nothing like Bieber, though. 🙂

We shopped a bit in Oxford Street and also met up with fellow Richard Armitage fan Hariclea from the Opera is Magic blog on Saturday afternoon! We met at “Fortnum and Mason” and had ice cream ‘coupes’ at the ice cream parlour on the first floor! Beautiful, delicious, filled our stomachs right up! So much so, that my son felt a little sick there for a moment! Luckily he recovered quickly. It’s always a delight to see Hari and it was so much fun that I forgot to take pictures of our beautiful ice cream creations! The only picture I took was of two teacups priced at £145,- while waiting for Hari…

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Hari and I may have mentioned Richard Armitage a few times in passing but didn’t get too carried away in the presence of my son. That evening, as Hari went off to the theatre, my son and I went to see the Scarlett Johannson scifi movie Ghost in the Shell in a Leicester Square theatre with a truly huge screen. The movie was not the greatest scifi movie I’d ever seen, but it was quite fun and had nice visual effects.

We spent our Sunday on Hampstead Heath. We walked there for a bit, my son even climbed a tree…

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… we got up to Kenwood House (also a Notting Hill film location, by the way!)…

… and treated ourselves to some delicious scones (this had been something my son had particularly wished for).

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Later that afternoon we made our way back to the airport and flew home again. But I didn’t leave London without some specific fangirl items!

I’ve bought a DVD of a Gregory Peck movie I came across that I have always wanted to see but have never been able to…

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I’m not that much into Westerns but, come on, it’s Gregory Peck, my first real teenage fangirl crush!

At Kenwood House I bought the book Belle that accompanies the excellent movie of the same name, about a black young lady who lived as a lady and not as a servant in Kenwood House in the 18th century. She was also featured in a painting that was painted at the time but alas that painting is not at Kenwood anymore and is now somewhere in Scotland. I had seen the film, I now saw the book and grabbed it for myself…

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And, I did some more Jane Eyre fangirling when, in a bookstore, I happend upon a book with this title…

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I immediately recognized it as the first sentence from the last chapter of Jane Eyre and just had to have it, especially considering we will be visiting writer Charlotte Brontë’s house this coming summer.

Last but not least, there was Audrey Hepburn fangirling as well! I came across this POP doll of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s  and just couldn’t let it go…

So, yes, London is a great place to fangirl; it makes me feel greedy when I see all these goodies together even though they all didn’t cost that much. London is also a great place to spend time with my son! He picked out pretty much all our activities (Portobello Road and meeing Hari were my picks, the rest were his) and I loved that one-on-one time with him. I think that, except for my snoring at night, he enjoyed his time with me as well. We’ll definitely be back!