I read that Kate Atkinson book When Will There Be Good News a while ago and there never was good news in that book – so depressing, and the whole world seems to be stuck in a horrible no good news cycle at the moment too.
Anyway, if like me, you are in need of something to cheer you up a bit, you might like to have a look at this Laurel and Hardy film. It was always one of my favourites, and this time of the year (Christmas) is usually jigsaw season for us, so it seemed appropriate.
We don’t go to the flicks all that often, which is a shame because I do enjoy going out to see a film but there’s hardly ever anything on which I want to see. There was a lovely wee film called La Luna on just before Brave and it was worth dragging myself out just for that one alone.
I wasn’t at all sure about going to see Brave because I thought it might just be a 21st century version of Brigadoon but I must admit that I did enjoy it, and it was such a relief that the Scottish accents were authentic, not the usual phoney ones which grate on the ears of anyone who really knows what a proper Scottish accent should sound like, mind you there are so many different accents within Scotland.
Basically Brave has all the elements of a classic fairy tale or mythology. The king and queen are looking for a suitable husband for their beautiful daughter so the lords of all the various far-flung parts of the kingdom travel to the palace in an attempt to get their eldest sons married to the princess. So far so like the beginning of Song of Achilles in cartoon form. Throw in an old witch with a cauldron and spells for added humour, especially her call menu of potions.
Princess Medira has developed a mind of her own though and she isn’t going to conform just because her parents expect her to marry. She wants ‘freedom’ – is there a rule now that that word has to be used in films set in Scotland, since Braveheart? Brave is about all sorts of things like times changing, things not being as they seem and is all for independent women, particularly princesses with long red hair. What a shame I neglected to be born a princess.
We were told that this film was for children but the film theatre was full of adults, just a few kids, who all behaved themselves after the one who was sitting next to me and wailing all the time was taken out. I don’t think it was anything to do with me! She was just too tired and too young.
Alex Salmond, the First Minister – or in other words ‘the high heid yin’ went out to the US to see the premier of Brave as it is hoped that it will encourage people to visit Scotland. I can’t quite see that myself, it’s not as if there was any real Scottish scenery in it, it is a cartoon after all. It sounds like clutching at straws to me. Surely everyone knows by now that Scotland is a great place to visit, if it doesn’t rain.
We went to the local flicks one night last week, to see the Ken Loach film The Angels’ Share. It won the Jury Prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. It’s an enjoyable and funny film but if you’re sensitive about bad language then it might not be one you would want to view. It wouldn’t be authentic without the swear words though, given that it’s set in a rough part of Glasgow, where young men inevitably get involved in violence.
Robbie is a young, new father and he’s determined that he is going to mend his ways and be a good dad. A judge has sentenced Robbie to do community payback rather than sending him to jail. Harry, who is in charge of the community payback team, is a bit of a softy really and he takes Robbie under his wing and the rest of the team tag along too. Harry is a bit of a whisky connoisseur in his spare time and he takes them all on a distillery visit which gets Robbie in particular thinking about The Angels’ Share – which is what they call the 2% evaporation which takes place during the whisky making process.
There’s quite a lot of good Scottish scenery in this film but also the inevitable kilt jokes. I think there must be a law somewhere which says that if you’re going to have kilts then you must have ‘ what’s under them’ or rather ‘what’s not under them’ jokes. Anyway, there were quite a lot of laugh out loud moments and also a few yeuch moments. Have a look at the trailer to see if it takes your fancy!
We went out to the flicks tonight, the first time I’ve been to see a film for absolutely yonks. Of course, Midnight in Paris is a Woody Allen film and his films are not to everyone’s taste. They aren’t always great but more often than not I really enjoy them.
Midnight in Paris was a bit like a big advert for Paris, if you haven’t been able to visit then you’ll probably find the whole thing interesting just as a way of seeing the place.
Gil is a successful Hollywood screenwriter, and he’s in Paris with his fiancee Inez and her ghastly parents. At first I thought it was going to be a difficult film to like because none of the characters were at all likeable, but it wasn’t long before lots of wonderful artistic people from the past made their entrances. Gil mentions that he would have loved to have lived in Paris in the 1920s and it isn’t long before he is whisked into the past and meets up with Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Dali, Man Ray – to name a few. I suppose it’s a hackneyed sort of a fantasy, but still very watchable.
A flick with vintage cars, flapper dresses and Paris added up to a good night out. They do say that the only thing wrong with Paris is that it’s full of French people! I couldn’t possibly comment.
It has taken about nine months for Midnight in Paris to reach the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy and it’s only on for one more night – February, 14th – today. It’s worthwhile going out on a dark, cold night to see it!
We went on a tour of Chatsworth before going into the parkland and even although it was quite early in the day it was packed with people. About half of them seemed to be Scots! Although there’s quite a lot to see, it’s obvious that only a fraction of the house is open to the public. I would love to know what the main staircase looks like as that’s usually the grandest part of stately homes.
Karen of Books and Chocolate was wondering if Chatsworth is what Jane Austen based Pemberley on in Pride and Prejudice. I read somewhere that Deborah Devonshire (the dowager duchess) believed that she recognised Chatsworth in Jane’s descriptions, and I suppose she should know. Jane does mention that Lizzie visits Chatsworth amongst other great houses in the Derbyshire area, the county does seem to have a plethora of them. But its the fact that Darcy’s sister is given the name Georgiana and that was the name of the 5th Duke of Devonshire’s wife who lived at Chatsworth in Jane Austen’s time which makes me think that she did really base Pemberley on Chatsworth. The house was used for parts of the 2005 P&P film, not a favourite of mine.
As you can imagine it’s just about impossible to get a photo without people in it but I took the one below of a stairway. I love the stairs themselves but I’m not so keen on the paintings, it’s all very heavy and dark looking but it fits in with the age of the house I suppose.
The ceiling in the photo below is of the room which was the 6th Duke’s dining room and it’s much brighter and airier with the crystal chandeliers and white and gold paint.
And this is the dining table, loaded with silver and looking wonderful. I’m so glad that I don’t have to clean all that silver though!
I could have quite happily settled down in the library which is below, I think it would probably be one of the cosiest rooms in Chatsworth.
I might be blogging about the garden and parkland again tomorrow, that really was my favourite bit.
It was Anbolyn of Gudrun’s Tights who nominated the author Edna Ferber for the CPR Book Group, the idea of which is to give neglected authors and or books a bit of a boost and breath some new life into them. So thank-you Anbolyn because I hadn’t even heard of Ferber who was so popular in the 1920s and 30s and even won a Pullitzer Prize.
I started off with Show Boat which I think everyone will know was made into a Broadway musical in 1927. The 1951 movie is so famous that it’s one of those ones which I’m not sure if I’ve actually seen in entirety or maybe I’ve just seen lots of clips over the years. Anyway next time it’s on TV I’m going to watch it to see if it differs from the book.
I really enjoyed this. The show boat is the Cotton Blossom Floating Palace Theatre and it plies its trade on the Mississippi River, calling in at towns on the river as the local crops ripen and the inhabitants have money in their pockets. Magnolia’s parents are the boat owners, they are Captain Andy Hawks and Parthenia Ann Hawks and while Andy is a popular and kind chap, Parthy is a grim-faced terror with a dislike of the theatre, actors and just about everything else. She has a tongue that would cut cloot (cloth) – as we say here.
Against Parthy’s wishes Magnolia ends up on the stage and when they call in to St Louis she falls for the wonderfully named Gaylord Ravenal, who ends up joining the show boat’s cast.
That’s a brief outline but there’s lots going on in this book with characters being accused of miscegenation (marriage between a black person and a white person) which was illegal in some places in America at the time and that ‘n’ word is used quite a lot by the more ignorant characters. One of the characters is ‘passing’ as a white person.
As a Jew Edna Ferber was no stranger to prejudice but it didn’t stop her from having a very successful career as a writer, which you can read about here. I have one other book by her – Ice Palace, but I’ll certainly be looking out for more in the future.
I’ve loved the idea of a Mississippi river boat since I started reading Mark Twain years ago but I know that the reality would kill me in no time – too hot!
Amazingly, we actually went to the cinema in Dunfermline last night to see The Eagle which is based on the Rosemary Sutcliff book which I enjoyed reading years ago. Mind you it was SO long ago that I’m not sure how true to the book the film is. I don’t remember there being so much fighting and goriness but as that seems to be what most people want then they’re obviously going to add in as much as possible.
It’s set in Roman Britain and Marcus Aquila has been given command of a fort on Hadrian’s Wall and he is determined to gain back his family’s honour which was lost when his father and the Ninth Legion which he had command of, disappeared along with their golden eagle standard. The only way he can do it is to find the standard and take it back to Rome.
I quite enjoyed it but the battle scenes were so loud, they shook the whole place and it’s positively painful on my ears. Marcus and his slave Esca travel north into Caledonia/Scotland and some of the Scottish scenery is quite spectacular, the best part of the film for me really. It turned out to have a bit of a Romano-British Brokeback Mountain flavour to it, I think.
We hadn’t been to the flicks for ages, since we saw Tamara Drew actually because we didn’t get around to seeing The King’s Speech. I think we’re the only people in the western world who haven’t seen it. We did try when it was at the wee local cinema but we couldn’t get in as everybody else had booked their tickets! You live and learn!
I remembered that I really enjoyed reading a few of Lindop’s books way back in the 1970s and for that reason I decided to add her to the CPR Book Group list, which is a place for neglected authors and books which deserve to be better known than they are at present. It only seems to be myself and Anne Hayes who have any interest in Lindop’s books at the moment.
Unfortunately her books are quite difficult to get a hold of but I bought The Singer not the Song in an Edinburgh second-hand bookshop and it was one which I hadn’t read before. At first I was really disappointed when I realised that the book is set in Mexico and is about the Roman Catholic church, in fact I almost didn’t read it for that reason, but I’m glad that I persevered.
Firstly I have to say that my copy is from 1954 and the blurb on the cover is wrong when it says that it is set in the revolutionary period of the 1920s and 30s. It is definitely post World War II early 1950s and a bishop is interviewing priests for an appointment in Quantana to replace the elderly Father Gomez who hasn’t exactly stuck to his vows and has lost the respect of his parishioners.
Quantana is a small village in the mountains and is very cut off from the rest of society and the whole place has been taken over by Malo, a young bandit, and his sidekicks. Basically Malo – the Bad One – runs a protection racket in that if the villagers don’t pay him ‘tax’, nasty things are going to happen to them. Malo has an affinity with cats and he has the same habit of playing with his victims.
Father Keogh, a young priest from Ireland, is chosen for the difficult position. Just about the first thing he has to do is get Father Gomez out of the village alive as Gomez believes Malo will kill him.
The whole book becomes a fight for the lives and souls of the villagers as Malo is determined to keep his evil hold on them and tries to humiliate the priest. Father Keogh struggles against Malo for the good of the people who are all terrified of the bandit gang.
It doesn’t sound like much I suppose but it is a very good read and the book was made into a film in 1961. I had already finished the book when I realised this but strangely I had imagined Dirk Bogarde as Malo so maybe I did see it when I was knee high.
There seems to be virtually nothing on the internet about Audrey Erskine Lindop. Possibly her mother or grandmother was Scottish as Erskine is a Scottish surname and place name. She was married to a playwright called Leslie Dudley and I’ve discovered that at one point she lived in a place called Chagford in South Devon. I discovered that because someone is selling a letter from her on Ebay at the moment and you can just make out the address. Does anybody have any more information on this sadly neglected writer?
I’ve just heard on the radio that Disney have bought the rights to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. I suppose that if I were on Twitter this is the sort of thing that people tweet about, but I’m not on Twitter so I’m moaning about it here.
What on earth were the people at Disney thinking about when they decided to cast a 38 year old woman in the part of Miss Marple? Have any of them ever seen a Miss Marple film or TV production?
The whole reason for Agatha Christie writing a character like Marple is that she is an elderly lady, a spinster of the parish of St Mary Mead and people are supposed to think that she’s in her dotage and so they don’t take her seriously.
Marple is meant to surprise everyone and triumph over them all with her superior wits and a long experience gained from observing the inhabitants of her very small village.
They are going to lose the whole essence of the Miss Marple books if they do it any other way. Poor Agatha Christie will be birling in her grave, but I suppose her family felt that they could be doing with the money.
Alan Alexander Milne was born on the 18th January 1882 and I thought about writing a birthday post on that day but then I thought that an ‘unbirthday’ post would be more appropriate.
Although he was born in England A A Milne was from a Scottish Presbyterian background, like so many other authors of childrens’ fiction. The severely strict upbringing seems to have encouraged a wild imagination in those people feeling the need to rebel against such a strait-laced background. Hurrah!!
I didn’t actually read Winnie the Pooh until I had children of my own, and I loved it, in fact I went on a bit of a Pooh binge, reading The Tao of Pooh and Pooh and the Ancient Mysteries as well as collecting classic Pooh ‘stuff’.
Everyone I know seems to be a Pooh character. I think I’m a combination of Kanga and Tigger, depending on my mood, if you can imagine that. Two for the price of one as I keep telling my husband! Which character do you resemble most?
I love the original E H Shepard illustrations and I’m not mad keen on Disney as a rule but I have a soft spot for the 1966 Disney film which you can see some of below.