Meet cute Monday #4

One of the reasons I started blogging was that I needed to unburden myself in my enthusiasm for Richard Armitage. So, naturally, I need to inlcude some Richard in these meet cutes I am posting.

The first Armitage meet cute I am sharing is not only a meet cute between two characters (although, frankly, that meeting was not really cute) but it was also my own first time encountering Richard Armitage. I refer, of course, to Richard’s captivating portrayal of John Thornton in the 2004 BBC mini series North and South that I watched for the first time at the beginning of 2006. This means that I am posting this around the 17th (!!!) anniversary of me discovering Richard!

So, here it is: the very contentious meeting of Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe), the refined young woman from the south of Engand, and John Thornton (Richard Armitage), the rough-edged master of Marlborough Mills in the north.

My goodness, all these years on, the magnetic pull of Richard in this is still undeniable and he had such great chemistry with Daniela.

I still go back to North and South on occasion and re-watch scenes, especially from the final episode. It is still one of my favourite things Richard has ever done.

My happy place

Junior snapped these two pictures of me this evening…

… in my fave chair, with a cat at each side of me, after watching the Elizabeth Gaskell House interview with Sandy Welch about adapting North and South.

I’d love to hear Sandy Welch also speak about adapting Our Mutual Friend, Jane Eyre, and Emma and could have listened to her way longer speaking about North and South. After another busy day today at work, it was perfect to unwind with cats and Sandy Welch and North and South and a bit ‘o Richard Armitage on the side.

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!