I binged Stay Close

Warning: minor spoilers ahead (including spoiler pictures)!

I wasn’t going to, but in the end I did and I binged all of Stay Close on New Year’s Day. Apparently it was number 6 on Netfix in The Netherlands yesterday.

I won’t go into a very detailed review here because, in honesty, that would mean spending a lot of time on something I don’t feel like doing. I also won’t spoiler plot here but what comes next does have a few minor spoilers and I guess even some of the pictures might give something away, especially if you don’t want to know anything in advance. So, progress at your own caution!

I’m starting with lots of screenshots of Richard as I liked him in the role of photographer Ray and he is what I liked best about Stay Close. Here’s the first batch (click on images to enlarge), there’s some really nice cinematography in many of these…

So, let me cut to the chase: Stay Close was not my favourite Armitage project. It has nothing to do with Richard, though. He is good at playing a tortured soul and Ray is just that. I really felt for him, trying to piece together what had happened in his past. The other actors were good too. Although I felt a bit iffy about the Megan/Cassie character, I thought Cush Jumbo did a really good job with what she had. James Nesbitt as detective Michael Broome, Sarah Parish as Lorraine and Youssef Kerkour as Fester did great jobs as well, as did Jo Joyner as detective Erin Cartwright. I got a kick out of seeing Jo act a few scenes with Richard again, it was a little North and South reunion of the Thornton siblings!

There was even a little N&S dialogue reference between the two when Erin mentions to Ray that her husband “dabbles in photography”. It’s such a pity Ray did not respond with “I’m not sure I’d know how to dabble” as John had done in N&S. Nonetheless, I was just grinning from ear to ear at that little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference. And seeing James Nesbitt and Richard reuniting again after their roles as dwarves in The Hobbit was also nice.

For all the nice acting, the story was… meh. Just like in The Stranger, I felt there were too many characters and too many storylines and some of them felt very contrived. The central hook of Megan not wanting to expose her former life as Cassie wasn’t that strong to me either and I wasn’t too fond of the messing with timelines. Also, again like in The Stranger, I felt a little too manipulated by all the story threads that turned out to be not so important after all or some character backgrounds that had no real pertinence to the story at all. I guess that must be the Harlan Coben style of storytelling?

Murder mysteries aren’t my preferred genre to watch anyhow unless the characters are really appealing and in this series I just couldn’t care so much for many of the characters or the outcomes of their stories. I admit to a little fast forwarding here and there. Maybe I would have liked it better if it had been, say, four episodes, with only half the characters? Basically, I only watched this for Richard and he was a joy to see in a new role, so I don’t regret watching this. Ray was one of the few characters I could root for. I just don’t think I’ll be in a hurry to watch it again.

Here are some more screenshots, because Richard was so lovely and the camera sure liked him in close up as well.

All in all, if I had to give Stay Close a star rating, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars. Not so great but also not too horrible, with some good performances and some nice Richard Armitage screen time.

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. πŸ™‚

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.

The end of an era

I read in a blog post on More Than Thornton that the C19 message board is closing! I logged in to C19 and sure enough, there was the announcement from a month ago. Oh man, that truly is the end of an era.

When North & South first aired in the fall of 2004, the BBC message boards famously crashed because of an overwhelming desire of fans to talk about that adaptation and, more specifically, about who the hell that man was who had played John Thornton!

When I first watched North & South myself in the spring of 2006, I too quickly developed a thirst for knowledge about all things Richard Armitage. In my online search I soon came across C19, requested and was granted membership, and my quenching of that thirst could begin, with all the wealth of information right there. I just checked, I registered at C19 back in April of 2006 (under a pseudonym)…

I was mostly a lurker at first, then did comment some, but always stayed in the background in the Richard Armitage sections. I did become more active in other sections for a little while, apparently I have 519 comments/posts to my name, but in time it all just ebbed away and I stopped going there, finding other places and sources of information and, more importantly, I started my own little bubble with this blog.

Over the years, I would on occasion go back to lurk and read up on news and see how people reacted to certain projects. In recent years I have maybe logged in 2-3 times a year and while I hardly ever popped in anymore, it was always nice knowing that C19 was there. Of all the message boards I frequented (there were a few) this one has always been my go-to one. And now it is closing down on November 2nd…

Even though I am sorry for the small community that still goes there, I do understand the decision and I am grateful to those who have put in the hard work of keeping it going all these years. May everyone stay safe, well and happy and continue the fangirling in other places. Thank you for the good times, C19!

After all these years…

… I finally won one of Guylty’s pocket shrines in this year’s Richard Armitage birthday auction! I’ve been admiring her shrines for years, I have seen some up close and personal from a few fans I have met over the years, but I have never managed to win one.

I didn’t want just any shrine, I preferably wanted one with any of my fave Richard Armitage characters, i.e. John Thornton, John Porter, John Proctor, Harry Kennedy, I could have done Adam Price as well, he’s so cute, or a Thorin or Astrov one, and even would have accepted a Daniel Miller. I can’t tell you how stoked I am that in the end I now actually won a John Thornton shrine! The bonus is that it also contains a candle holder (I love candles). John Thornton is my gateway drug to Richard Armitage from when I first saw North & South 14 years ago and I still think it’s one of the absolute best things Richard has ever done. Now I’ll have him in a shrine too. So, this is what I will be receiving…

Oh man, my heart rate went way past healthy when the last minutes of the auction started. I was the highest bidder on this item from almost the beginning and it surprised me that it still remained within my price range during the whole auction. Usually I am quite quickly outbid on shrines and I turn to lovely other items instead (and this year’s auction had some really lovely other items!), but this year was different and the item remained affordable for me. During the last minute I raised my bid a little higher than I had originally planned beforehand (I could almost taste victory, so couldn’t let it pass) and it paid off and I won! Mr. Esther looked on in amazement and is extra pleased for me because I won a John Thornton item. He knows how much I love John Thornton. I’m sorry the other last minute bidder was not successful but I am also very happy for myself.

So, I win a shrine and it benefits the LOROS charity in Leicester in celebration of Richard Armitage’s birthday. Best of all worlds, I’d say. πŸ™‚

Fictional crush challenge – day 9

10 days, 10 fictional crushes
Post an image of a fictional character who has been or still is your crush. No names or explanations needed. TV, movie, book, comic, cartoon characters are valid.

John Thornton (Richard Armitage) from the BBC’s 2004 adaptation of North and South. To anyone who reads here regularly this isn’t a surprise, I think. Four years ago, around my 10 year anniversary of crushing on Richard Armitage, I already wrote about first meeting John Thornton. It was “Look back… look back at me” that sealed the deal and forever stole my heart. That fourth episode really was everything. And oh my goodness, has it really been 14 years? I feel extra old now.

John Thornton awakened my interest in Richard Armitage, John Thornton inspired me to write fan fiction, John Thornton inspired me to go online and check out message boards and Armitage-related websites and blogs, John Thornton inspired me to actually read Elizabeth Gaskell for the first time, John Thornton still inspires me to watch some of or all of North & South again from time to time and John Thornton is on my bedroom wall (signed by Richard Armitage himself.)

For a while I thought it was only John Thornton who interested me but I have come to accept that it is something more than just John Thornton that keeps me hanging around Richard Armitage. I still can’t put my finger on what quality it is exactly that keeps me interested but I do know that whatever it is, Richard used it very effectively when he portrayed Mr. Thornton. Even now, after 14 years, a few looks at John Thornton’s intense gaze and furrowed brow can still make my heart skip a beat.

I used to watch a lot of N&S fan videos in those days and years when I first became a fan and later even made fan videos myself. I never made an N&S fan video (maybe I should rectify that situation but then again there already are so many good ones out there, it feels redundant now) but I have always enjoyed watching good John Thornton ones. This is one of those videos I have always loved, it has a lot of the captivating John Thornton gazes in it. The video was made by Delicateblossom who was one of my fave fan video makers at the time when she used to make them.

John Thornton will hold a piece of my heart forever. Sigh.