Category Archives: Movies

Book Junkie

As a writer and avid book reader, I’m often asked who my favourite author is, or whose work influences me the most, or what my favourite book is. All are difficult to answer as I read many genres, many authors, and many books have stayed with me throughout my life. I grew up in a household where books and reading were encouraged at an early age, indeed our mother taught us to read long before we first went to school. She read us exciting bedtime stories, fairytales told German and herself read all kinds of novels. With six of us in the family, the choice and quantity was large and books passed around as we grew older.

My father read science fiction, so I became familiar and enjoyed the work of Arthur C.Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. My older brother loved adventure stories so I soon became immersed in Treasure Island, The Coral Sea, Kidnapped and so on. My two sisters read everything they could get their hands on from Alice in Wonderland, What Katy Did Next, Black Beauty, and the list goes on from there as we grew older to all of John Wyndham (Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos to name but two), Dennis Wheatley (The Devil Rides Out), Alex Haley, and Catherine Cookson. So many good writers, so many books to read, far too many to mention.

And along with all these books there were the comics and annuals we devoured including Bunty, Jackie, the Beano, Dandy, and Hotspur.

However, despite all these great stories, two in particular from childhood have stayed with me. The first is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis. I must have been about 8 or 9 when I read this. I was ill in bed at the time, a frequent occurrence when I was young. I remember the illustrations too, and longed that my wardrobe would open up to reveal a hidden, wonderful world where animals could talk. At that time I had no idea this was a complete set of these magical stories and with so many other books in the house, I didn’t seek out any of the rest. It wasn’t until my daughter fell in the love with Narnia series that I learnt there were more. And of course I was in my element when the film franchise came out. A few week ago I came across The Magician’s Nephew, sixth in the series but a prequel to the whole Narnia world and how it came about. I was engrossed from the first page.

The other story is from a “comic”. I use the word comic in a loose sense as, if my memory serves me correctly, it was an educational magazine for children, the name of which I cannot remember. We didn’t have this at home, I used to read them at my best friend’s house whenever I went to play there. On the back page was always a cartoon strip story of a family who lived under the floorboards of the house and used items taken from the house for their furniture. Cotton reels for tables, matchboxes for cupboards and drawers, doll’s house china. I loved those stories, the magic and wonderment, the concept, the impossibility – or was it? – that there were little people living inside our homes, but in later years I never could remember what the comic strip was called to go in search of the book. You’ve probably realised I’m talking about “The Borrowers”. I found this out when the film came out. I watched it, and was bitterly disappointed. Probably because I’m now an adult, a grandmother, and the film was aimed at children, as was the original book. But the magic in those comic strips lives on in my head. 

So in answer to who influences my writing, it’s all of the authors whose books I’ve read and enjoyed. My favourite author? There isn’t one, because I enjoy many including Rosie Thomas, Nora Roberts, Barbara Erskine, Jeffery Archer, Ken Follett, as well as those writers mentioned above and a whole lot more, but not everything they write. Some of their books I’ve not liked, but these are probably the authors I would go out of my way to read. And my favourite book? Again, there isn’t any one I could pick out because I’ve loved so many.

Kit’s Website and Blog  and Kit’s Art  Site

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“Sublime or Ridiculous?”

September has been a busy, interesting month with another week in Bristol, a day at the seaside, visits to a garden exhibition and a beautifully restored National Trust House plus seeing two movies.  On top: lunches with friends, book club, yoga and singing, also your support, all helpful positive things to relieve some of the fatigue which is improving slowly. I keep telling you all how lucky I feel, not complacently I hope.

Sublime may seem a strange heading for a blog but it has different meanings, my use refers to art, architecture and inspiring achievements. Ridiculous is obvious although as you will see it held a few surprises! My first example was an exhibition of sculpture in a local National Trust garden.  I shared an exhibition set here with you last year of stained glass flower sculptures but this time was very different.  Several of the metal pieces were awesome and delicate, others were ridiculous. The setting enhanced the work too. I could not find what technique the artist used to create the sculptures  and ran out of time sorry. I hope you enjoy the images I’ve included.

My week in Bristol was based in a different part of the city, more multicultural and I met some fascinating characters on my journeys into the centre by bus.  As I mentioned last time I love Bristol,  the highlight was visiting St. Nicholas Market with my grandchildren and all eating different street food from various countries then sharing them. Memories of the day remain and I cherish them.

I visited Clevedon with a friend to photograph the pier which was a feat of Victorian Engineering. Boats still pick up from the pier to take visitors along the North Somerset Coast, a trip I am determined to make. The houses epitomise the wealth of past eras, some from trade in Bristol and people becoming upwardly mobile. Sunshine made the day more enjoyable with the reflections from the water and feel good factor.  I hope the photos help you to capture the beauty of Clevedon Pier.

We moved on to Tyntesfield, a Victorian country house and estate lived in and expanded by four generations.  I originally visited 10 years ago and the changes were amazing.  The interior of the house reflected the Victorian interests in art, technology and innovation.  Many original pieces of furniture remain all beautifully restored by National Trust experts and volunteers. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to visit the gardens but did pop into the Church which was a history lesson itself. Two photos give a glimpse if you are ever in this part of the world. Tyntesfield would be on my sublime list.

Finally, the ridiculous. By chance on our wanderings with my son and family we came upon an exhibition in the Centrespace Gallery which houses temporary exhibitions. Umbrella Covers were the subject of this fascinating exhibit. Nancy 3 Hoffman Director and Curator of the Umbrella Cover Museum hosted our visit.  Nancy 3 is the current Guiness World Record Holder for Umbrella Covers.  Her home and museum are on Peaks Island, off the coast of Maine. A true eccentric and enthusiast, not as ridiculous as we initially thought. Nancy 3 played her accordion and we joined her in singing the Umbrella Song.  My grandsons were fascinated. We all had great fun, do check out Nancy 3’s website.

The Movies were Dunkirk and Victoria and Abdul, very different but both thought provoking. Quite a month!

 

 

http://www.umbrellacovermuseum.org

When they actually can hear you scream!

Okay, so November has sort of passed in a blur that is NaNoWriMo, but happy to say the end is now in sight and on the home run. Yay!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience of NaNo and it seems to have had the desired effect of getting me back into the writing mindset. The story has absorbed me, and the best part of all, I’m enjoying writing again. But November hasn’t been all work and I’ve made time for some fun along the way.

Every month a nearby town holds a community theatre and movie night, which has turned into a girls’ night out. We four do the whole thing: popcorn, wine (for those who aren’t driving), ice cream and a shared box of chocolates. Last night’s movie was Me Before You which was really excellent. I haven’t read the book (being a happy-ending kinda gal) but absolutely loved the movie. Excellent acting, a good story, and although a sad ending it wasn’t mawkish. Highly recommended for those who might not have seen it.

We also had a theatre trip into Bath to see The Woman in Black. This was billed as being ‘the most terrifying live theatre experience in the world’ which, for those of us who love to be scared witless by such things, was impossible to resist. So off we went, the fearless four, armed with fortifying chocolate and comments such as “bet it’s not as scary as they say” and “whose idea was this anyway?”

The play was the stage adaptation of the movie of the same name and is based on Susan Hill’s story of a lawyer obsessed with a curse he believes has been cast on him. In the stage play, he employs an actor to help him exorcise his demons, but soon what is real and what is make-believe begin to blur with spine-tingling results.

One British newspaper gave the play five stars and said: “The atmosphere is so charged up that on more than one occasion, the entire audience screamed in terror”  Well, I read that with a little scoff…until I actually did. The play was spooky and I lost count of the number of times I jumped out of my skin. It was incredibly well acted, with excellent sound effects and visual aids. During one loud and blood-curdling scream which seemed to come from right behind us, we all instinctively grabbed for each other and yes, actually screamed right back. Since most of the audience were engaged in a kind of hushed nervous laughter, I don’t think we were alone in that.

So, two hours later we emerged, a little shell shocked and with the chocolates still in their unwrapped state. Testament indeed to a good night had by all.

 

(n.b. apologies for the formatting of this post – did something wrong somewhere and couldn’t work out how to get it back to normal!)

Two Buddies, a Russian Spy, and an Intern Walk Into a Bar In Transylvania by Valerie J. Patterson

Two buddies, a Russian spy, and an intern walk into a bar in Transylvania.  Sounds like the start to a good joke, right?  It could have been if I was a comedian and wrote my own material.  Instead, I offer you a couple movie reviews.

A Walk In The Woods stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, and was a very entertaining movie.  It was good to see these two men on the big screen again, too.  Barely recognized Nick Nolte, but without him the movie wouldn’t have been as good as it was.  His and Redford’s characters are as opposite as any two humans could be.  One is refined, the other not so much.  But, opposites often make the best pairs.  Redford plays a character who has spent his whole life in the career/family lane of the road of life.  He’s been successful in writing and in love, and everything about his life speaks fulfillment…until his friends begin dying and there’s one funeral too many, causing him to take stock in his life and what became of his dreams.  One night he makes the life-changing decision to hike the Appalachian Trail–the entire trail.  He goes through his phone book of friends and colleagues and invites each of them to accompany him.  One by one, they all turn him down, and he’s beginning to think he’ll have to do it alone.  One last call comes in.  Nolte’s character–whom Redford never called–asks if he can go on the trip.  This pleases Redford’s character’s wife and the two set of on an unforgettable adventure that resonates with any person at any stage of their life.  If you missed this one in the theaters, it’s worth the rental price.

The Intern stars Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro, and the two have exceptional chemistry and comedic timing.  Hathaway plays an over-stressed work-aholic who started her own Internet company that exploded into a huge success that leaves her reeling between work life and home life.  Enter DeNiro’s character as an intern in the company’s new initiative “Senior Interns”.  DeNiro’s character is living life after retirement and the death of his wife.  After traveling everywhere he’s ever wanted to go, he finds himself with wide open days and tons of time on his hands.  Boss and intern need one another–even if they don’t see it, don’t want it, and don’t accept it, which leads to laughs and lessons learned.  Again, if this is not still playing–as it is here in one or two theaters–it’s worth the rental price.

Bridge of Spies stars Tom Hanks as James Donovan, an American insurance attorney who’s chosen to represent a Russian spy arrested on American soil.  Donovan takes the case, and Hanks shines!  Donovan takes his job seriously and Russian spy or not, his client deserves a fair trial.  Too bad the judge and the jury don’t share the same thought process.  This true story shows humanity at its best and its worst.  When Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “The true greatness of a person…is evident in the way he or she treats those with whom courtesy and kindness are not required.” he was not speaking of James Donovan, but it certainly applies to him.  Catch this one in the theater or via rental, but catch it nonetheless!

And finally, Hotel Transylvania 2, the second installment written by and starring Adam Sandler.  The first movie was adorable and appealed to adults and children alike.  This offering–in my humble opinion–was just disappointing.  Steve and I actually apologized to the couple we had with us!  Dracula is waiting to see if his grandson is a vampire or–gasp–a mere mortal like the baby’s father.  The first movie was all about acceptance of those different from ourselves.  This offering seemed less so, though Dracula does become more accepting in the end, but only after…well, I won’t post a spoiler here on the off chance you have a burning desire to see Hotel Transylvania 2.

So, two buddies, a Russian spy, and an intern walk into a bar in Transylvania…

Until next time, may the movies you chose to see entertain you, warm your heart, and tickle your funny bone.

Special Events Lead to Special Memories by Valerie J. Patterson

Steve and I enjoy going to the theater.  It’s something we’ve always done.  We just enjoy movies whether they be mysteries, comedies, or action movies–and sometimes science fiction joins the mix.  However, we’ve recently taken to seeing the special events sponsored by Fathom Events.

A short time ago we got to enjoy Driving Miss Daisy with Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones.  Phenomenal!  Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones were remarkable, and just made for a special evening!!  It was an incredible, memorable event.

One of my very favorite movies is the musical White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen.  2014 is the 60th anniversary of this musical, and Steve just happened across an advertisement for a limited engagement screening of the original White Christmas complete with commentary, interviews, and behind the scenes extras.  This event was being presented by Fathom Events and was available for two days only.  Steve took me to dinner and then to the screening.

It was incredible!  Loved every minute of it.  I’ve seen the musical countless times on TV, but to see it on the big screen just made it all the more better.  It was nearly three hours of pure enjoyment.  Loved the commentaries, the history on the cast and the film, and the anecdotes that were told about the cast during filming.  Definitely one of the highlights of the Christmas season!

We’re looking forward to seeing two of the operas being offered through this special event program.  What could be better than seeing the opera in the comfort of blue jeans and sneakers while munching popcorn?

Until next time, I hope you’re enjoying your Christmas season, have all your shopping completed and your wrapping done!  And to quote Bing Crosby, “If you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep.”

My Encounter With The Duke

We have one of our favorite guest bloggers with us today. Linda Smith Snook writes a visual picture that will take you back in time.

It was March 1955, I turned 13 years old in January that year and was so excited that we were going to take a family vacation. However, I knew riding in the same car as my dad, mom, grandmother and 5 year old brother all the way to southern California and back was going to be a challenge.

This is really the only family vacation I remember, we lived on a small farm….had animals that needed to be cared for, so a day at the park or maybe an over night at the ocean was the most we ever did.

I was in the 7th grade and it was not Spring Break, so my mom talked with my teacher and it was decided that I would be excused from school as long as I wrote a page each day about our activities. Then turn the ‘diary’ in when we got home for a grade for the time I missed.

My dad’s father and step mom, plus his brother and step brother and their families all lived in California. It was very exciting as we headed out the first week of March…down Highway 99. I remember at every stop there was the ‘changing of the seats’ routine between my mom, grandma and myself. Quite frankly I was super annoyed with my brother by the time we passed thru Olympia (30 miles south of our home).

One day after we arrived at my uncle and aunt’s home, my dad’s step brother and his family came over and spent the day visiting. My dad’s step brother (Uncle Don) worked for the movie studios as a freelance photographer. He took those pictures you used to see as you walked up to the ticket booth of a theater, and he took continuity pictures so the actors ended up in the correct spot and in the correct clothes when they came back from a break in shooting their film.

Anyway, during that day of visiting he asked me if I’d like to go to work with him one day while we were there. I was thrilled and my folks agreed that it would be a fun adventure for me. But, I didn’t really have the appropriate clothes with me, so the next day they took me to the Robert Hall store in Hollywood. They got me new shoes, new skirt, blouse and a pink jacket. I felt like a movie star myself.

The appointed day came and Uncle Don came and picked me up. When we got to the movie studio he took me in with him and sat me over in the corner to watch the action. The entire morning they shot the same scene over and over again and I remember that they finally got the scene right, just at lunch time.
My uncle came over and said that he had talked to the two movie stars and they had agreed to pose for a picture with me. I followed him over to another area and there on a high stool sat this beautiful lady named Lauren Bacall. I had never heard of her before…..

She did sit while my uncle took the picture but then she got up and walked away. She didn’t say one word to me.

From there, I followed my uncle over to another spot to a group of people standing around talking and laughing. In the middle of that group stood this larger than life man who stepped forward as we approached. He looked over at my uncle and then at me and extended his hand…my uncle introduced me to John Wayne. I had heard of John Wayne and needless to say I was dumbstruck. Here I was, this 13 year old girl who lived on 10 acres and did farm chores meeting the one, the only John Wayne.

We (or should I say ‘he’) chatted with me and my uncle for awhile and then he asked me if I was hungry. I must have nodded yes, because before I knew it he was leading us to a big round table over in a corner and box lunches appeared for all. I remember there was an apple in my box lunch but that’s all I remember and I don’t even remember if I was able to eat much. I do remember he asked me about my school, where I lived, etc. He was especially interested in the fact that we lived on a small farm and had animals. He wanted to know who was milking our cow. His laugh was hearty and it helped me to relax a little.

Sadly after the lunch break it was time for me to go. My uncle had arranged for my grandfather to pick me up so I bid farewell and literally floated out of the building.

It was a day I will never forget. My 8 x 10 glossy, autographed photos hang proudly in my hall, along with family photos. I have treasured them all these years.

Oh and the movie they were shooting~ it was ‘Blood Alley.’ A very good movie and several years ago a friend gave me a DVD of the movie so I can watch it whenever I want.

Foreign Film Recommendation

I like to watch foreign language films and I took the time to watch two this past weekend. I enjoyed them both even though they were quite different from each other. The one I want to tell you about is quite a lovely little romantic story. It’s called Bread and Tulips.

It’s the story of an Italian woman who is on vacation with her family. They are on a bus tour and the bus leaves her while she’s in the bathroom at a rest stop. She’s been a housewife. She has a husband who is a loud mouth as well as a cheater. He’s not nice to her at all.

When she ends up waiting over two hours and they haven’t come back for her, she decides to hitchhike home. On the way, after chatting with the two people who offer her rides, she decides to go on to Venice.

She spends a day in Venice, then misses the train home. On her way to the station the next day, she stops at a florist shop where there is a help wanted sign. She takes the job and stays in Venice for a while.

This was a wonderful tale of hope and I loved it. I also enjoyed the Venice scenes. Having been there, it was a neat addition to my enjoyment of this film. Here’s a link to the imdb info.

If you haven’t watched a foreign film, try it. It’s a whole different experience. Surprisingly, you won’t feel like you’re reading, the stories are usually so riveting. Give it a try and let me know what you think. If you like foreign films, too, give me some recommendations.