Tag Archives: Films

Watching “The Pacific” HBO miniseries

PFC Robert Leckie:  “Dear Vera, it seems a lifetime since we met outside Saint Mary’s. This great undertaking for God and country has landed us in a tropical paradise, somewhere in what Jack London refers to as “those terrible Solomons.” It is a garden of Eden. The jungle holds both beauty and terror in its depths, most terrible of which is man. We have met the enemy and have learned nothing more about him. I have, however, learned some things about myself. There are things men can do to one another that are sobering to the soul. It is one thing to reconcile these things with God, but another to square it with yourself.”

After waiting weeks for the mini-series to pile up on our dvr so we can watch it at our insatiable leisure, my DH, Jon, and I sat down for the first episode, Guadalcanal/Leckie.  One word: powerful.  By the end of the episode some of my heart strings were definately tugged and I couldn’t help but recall the harrowing impressions told by my grandfather and passed down through my mother.  As I never heard my grandfather utter a single word about the war, I know very few concrete details, only this: he was in the Navy and one of the boats he was on sunk.  Between the bombs and the sharks, he was one of the few lucky survivors.  To this day, every year,he still meets up with the last of his battalion. 

 

He’s the handsome chap fourth from left to right.

  I adore this picture.  It’s the end of the war and you can just feel the exhilaration.  My grandpa’s front and center, just to the right of the broom. 

Romantic Movies You Might Have Missed – Part 1

Like many movie addicts, I’ve seen my share of trite Hollywood romantic comedies and dramas.  The main problem with the lot of them is, no matter their promise, they all begin and end the same.  Their plot lines run like a bad date: cliched, boring conversation; no element of surprise or anticpation; lukewarm sparks.   If you’ve seen enough of them, they’re downright unwatchable.   So what’s a weary film lover to do?  Seek out an Indie, Foreign title, or a Classic!  The writing is tighter and more clever, the actors earthier and even more unusual, real.  No plastic fantastic here, just a good story, a talented cast, and something more to chew on that popcorn.

1.  Love Me If You Dare – It all begins with a brightly colored candy dish and two very naughty minded children, Julien and Sophie.  They devise a game: whoever possesses the candy dish dares the other to thrilling and destructive acts of one upmanship.  Throw in chaotic childhoods, an intense bond of friendship, and budding infatuation that evolves into l’amour fou.  The twisted game soon serves as a frame for their romance and mutual loathing.  This French film (Jeux D’Enfants or Child’s Play) is dark and wildly colorful, and Marillon Cotillard, pre Edith Piaf fame, is delightful.   If you liked Amelie, rent this.

2.  Dear Frankie – When nine-year old Frankie discovers his father’s ship is sailing into port, he’s delighted to finally meet the man.  Problem is, every time Frankie received a letter from his father, describing far-flung adventures and an extended time at sea,  his mother, Lizzie, had been the one responding.  Desperate not to disappoint Frankie with the truth, as they are actually on the run from his father, Lizzie hires a stranger to pretend to be his long lost dad for the day.  A sweet Scottish film about family and the power of love.

3.  The Quiet Man –  The original cowboy, John Wayne, and the charmingly sassy Maureen O’Hara make this film from 1952 a classic gem.  Set in 1930’s Ireland, Sean Thorton, an Irish American boxer moves back home to claim his family farm.  He falls for the fiery Mary Kate, sister to the town bully, Will Danaher.  When a dispute arises with Will and Thorton refuses to confront the problem, Mary Kate pronounces Thorton a coward and a battle of wills ensues.   The setting is lush, the romance is fiery.  A must see.

4.  The Deer Hunter –  At its heart, the story’s about four friends from small town industrial Pennsylvania who go off to fight in the Vietnam War.  It’s one part psychological drama, one part action, and one part romance, equalling one helluva movie!  The first hour of the movie is pure characterization – something movie goers rarely seen anymore.  As a result, the behavior of the characters is profound.  When war and love brings out their worst traits, you’ll feel like you really understand them.

Robert DeNiro is amazing as Michael, the quiet, restrained hero.  And there’s so much tension between he and Linda, Meryl Streep’s character, that it jumps of the screen.  The deft acting by Christopher Walken adds to the brilliant cast.  This rare, epic treat will touch and horrify you.  Even if you’re not normally drawn to violent movies, give it a try.  It’s so much more than just a film about war (and makes a great date-night movie as it satisfies both).

That’s it for now.  Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!

Georgian Word of the Day:  French Letter

A safety sheath.  Also known as a cundum (1665-1820), a dried gut of sheep worn by men during intercourse, said to be created by one Colonel Cundum.  French Letter is the less vulgar of the two.

Scandals, Sex, and Soirees

18th Century Period Films

I’m a big fan of immersion when I’m working on a novel: reading the literature of the time, listening to period music, and the most fun, watching costume dramas.  My latest work takes place in Georgian England, late 18th century, with touches of the French Revolution thrown in.  I’m loving it, mostly because I’m a raging Francophile, but also because there really is a great abudance of beautiful films that take place during this period.  Take a look.

Affair of the Necklace

A countess stripped of her title.  A priceless diamond necklace, orginally intended for Comtesse du Barry, and ultimately refused by Marie Antoinette.  A daring con scheme that is ultimately, one of the final factors, in condemning the Queen of France as a spendthrift, reckless royal.

Brotherhood of the Wolf

Okay, so this film take place in 1764 to 1767, a little early, but its based after The Legend of Gevaudan, a french myth about a beast attacking the region of Gevaudan during the reign of Louis XV.  A little bit spooky and a little bit kooky (martial art scenes in 18th century France?  Huh?), not to mention sexed up – mostly it’s just fun.

The Duchess

The “It Girl” of late 18th century England, Georgiana was the fashion equal to Marie Antoinette.   She inspired the headache inducing, three foot towering coiffure, resplendent with ornaments; loved and lost Charles Grey (as in Earl Grey, famous now for his affinity for black tea with bergamot); and  had something of a gambling addiction.  The story broke my heart.  Georgiana shows such restraint and passion, but ultimately abides by the former.  The costumes are excellent, Ralph Fiennes is chillingly cold as the Duke of Devonshire, and the soundtrack haunts long after the film finishes.

If you still can’t get enough of Georgiana, there’s a wonderful site dedicated to her.  It’s one of my favorite blogs.

Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette

This film makes me want to eat cake.  It’s a confection of bright, pretty colors.  The soundtrack is oddly modern, but it works brilliantly, painting the Queen of France as a modern rock star.  She’s envied, hated, and glorious.  Although the film doesn’t extend into the gory details of the Revolution, it’s great for getting into Marie Antoinette’s (imagined) thoughts.  The cinematography is so lush, the costumes and feel of Versailles, exqusite.  I loved it!  The Antonia Fraser Biography of Antoinette is worth checking out also.

There are so many others worth checking out too, many of which I haven’t seen.

  • The Scarlet Pimpernel – many versions to choose from.  The original book by Baroness Orczy is fantastic.
  • Amazing Grace – a fine picture of the House of Lords impassioned fight over the abolition of slavery in England
  • Clarissa – Masterpiece Theatre movie concerning a rake obsessed with a virtuous rich young woman.
  • The Madness of King George – what’s better than a mad king?
  • Aristocrats – Based on a true story of four unconventional sisters stirring up society in the late 1700’s
  • Dangerous Liasons – The original Cruel Intentions with fabulous costumes
  • Danton – Subtitled in French; very accurate French Revolution period film