Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Holidays: Celebrate

Last week was unusual because we had Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year all in one week. In addition, there was President's Day, Maha Shivaratri, Ash Wednesday, Tibetan New Year and, according to a local liquor store, National Wine Day. That could lead to a lot of celebrating.

I'm most interested in Chinese New Year, because it's my year, the Year of the Ram (or the Sheep or the Goat--I've seen all three.) 2015 is considered to be an inspiring period and a year of promise and prosperity.

Here are more details on the upcoming year. Hope all the positive predictions come true.

At the moment, I'm hoping to celebrate a few consecutive days of normal temperatures (high thirties.) It would be so nice.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Thoughts on The Sea Hawk

I mentioned The Sea Hawk in a post about movies that included Robin Hood last week. Both films were directed by Michael Curtiz, starred Errol Flynn and featured Claude Rains. I prefer The Sea Hawk to The Adventures of Robin Hood, but based on a recent viewing of part of the film, feel that I may have underestimated Robin Hood.

I now have the opportunity to re-watch The Sea Hawk (I recorded it last week.) I like that the film takes place during Queen Elizabeth's reign. Flora Robson is a good Elizabeth, but I would have loved to see Bette Davis play her again.

I like the shipboard settings including the early battle between the English and Spanish ships. The early scene in the galley is harrowing: the ominous drumbeat of the timekeeper punctuated by the crack of the whip. I liked that an old sailor, Tuttle, knew he was in the English Channel by the feel of the currents.

The swordfights are enjoyable, especially the one between Captain Thorpe (Flynn) and Lord Wolfingham (Henry Daniell.) I loved the way it was shot, in a large scale room, and through a series of doorways.

There's a scene where Curtiz used a reflection type of shot. Here a Spanish officer sees a reflection of Thorpe and his men in a wine goblet as they are taking control of the ship.

The Sea Hawk has a great cast including Donald Crisp and perennial Flynn co-star Alan Hale. I was disappointed that Olivia de Haviland was not the female lead. But I know she didn't enjoy those roles. Here, Brenda Marshall takes her place.

One last thing--The Sea Hawk is the first movie that I remember watching with my father. It has a special meaning for me for that alone.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

I have to be honest--I'm more into Valentine's Day because it marks the end of our alcohol fast (if that is a correct term) rather than a day of hearts and flowers and love. Jeff and I have planned a dinner with filet mignon, lobster tail, twice backed potato, mixed greens salad, sparkling wine, red wine and chocolate cupcakes with fresh blackberries for dessert.

It's not that I have anything against hearts and flowers and love, but I hate the commercialization of the holiday. Even the flower ads last week warned about the price spikes for roses this week. I also hate that Valentine's Day expectations often make single persons feel like failures.

I do like picking out cards and gifts for Jeff and enjoying good food and drink. That makes a happy holiday for me.

The Week in Review

My highlight of the week was going to the gym for the first time this year; I made it three times. Yea for me. More the most part, I used the weight amounts from my last few visits, but I did fewer reps. I was stiff after the second consecutive visit, meant to exercise at home (didn't) but felt pretty good on my return yesterday.

In other news, I'm sick of cold and snow. Without checking weather records, I'd say we've had only about four or five days in the past month that reached 35 degrees or higher. According to the local weather channel, normal highs are 37 degrees. There's snow that hasn't melted: piles in corners of our parking lot, along the streets, most dangerously on street corners. As I've written before, we've gotten off easy--especially compared to the Boston area--but I'm still sick of snow and cold.This week we've had snow on Sunday, flurries on Thursday and more snow starting today.

Received New York magazine with Joni Mitchell on the cover. She's dressed in a long flowing robe/dress. My first thought was she looked like Saruman from The Lord of the Rings. Obviously, I wasn't the only one to think so.

Have a quiet weekend because many of my students are on a February break. It's bad because I need to make money, but good because who wants to travel in snowy conditions.

We're pet-siting now--settled in with Spike and Jake--waiting out the latest snow storm.

Monday, February 9, 2015

More TCM Movies: 1936's The Last of the Mohicans and 1937's Kid Galahad

One of the nicest things about having a DVR is the ease of recording; you can record something on the spur of the moment (assuming you have room, of course.)

The Last of the Mohicans:

I had enjoyed the 1992 version of the film with Daniel Day-Lewis. That film credited the screenplay of the 1936 movie, so I wanted to see it.

I was disappointed in the 1936 version. The acting was just okay. The casting of lily white actors as Indians was comical. All the Indian characters were mere stereotypes.

I love classic movies of the 1930's and 1940's. I can see beyond the censorship, the back lot rather than on location settings, the primitive special effects. This film just didn't do anything for me.

Kid Galahad:

I've seen this movie many times before, but it's been awhile so I was glad to watch it again. This is the only film starring Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson. For that reason alone, it's worth watching. The movie combines boxing, gangster and romantic stories.

I noticed a few things today. First, Michael Curtiz (who deserves a post of his own) directed. He also directed The Adventures of Robin Hood which we watched last week. I liked the way Curtiz staged the party after the film's opening fight. The camera moved through several rooms in Nick's (Robinson's) hotel suite. Reflections in mirrors captured guests partying, Nick getting a haircut, and women putting on make-up. Most importantly, a confidential conversation between Nick, Fluff (Davis) and Silver (Harry Carey) about Turkey Morgan (Bogart) seen in a mirror is almost overheard by a reporter.

I also liked the last scene of the film. Bette is walking down the alley from the arena after the last boxing match--alone.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Word Play

This morning I was lying in bed in that state halfway between dreaming and waking. Someone--a woman--in my dream said something about a stoic lyric. Because I was in the half-way state, I was watching or listening and thought there was something contradictory about a stoic lyric.

 Later I was thinking that a lyric could be stoic or a person could sing lyrics stoically. I liked the sound of the phrase too.

Maybe someday I'll figure out how to use it.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Film Round Up

Haunted Honeymoon:

About two weeks ago, I recorded Haunted Honeymoon, an adaptation of Busman's Honeymoon, a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery. Jeff and I watched it last Monday, the second snow Monday in a row.

My sister was a big Wimsey fan--that is of the Dorothy L. Sayers mysteries. I think she read all of them. I may have too, but I only remember Have His Carcase.

Apparently Haunted Honeymoon is the only Wimsey film adaptation. Ultimately, I was disappointed in it. Robert Montgomery played Wimsey. I've never cared for him anyway, but Montgomery was horribly miscast as Wimsey. The mystery also took too long to get started, though I liked the murder method.


Non-Stop:

I thought Jeff might like this movie, and I liked cast members, Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson. Neither of us liked this film. It was dumb.


The Adventures of Robin Hood:

Jeff was watching this when I got home Thursday night; I caught about an hour of the film. It had been years since I've seen it. I seem to have underestimated its appeal, because my favorite Errol Flynn swashbuckler is The Sea Hawk. But Robin Hood is quite good. I had forgotten that Basil Rathbone was Sir Guy of Gisbourne, and it was fun to see Eugene Pallette, Patric Knowles and Ian Hunter.

It reminded me of how much I love the classic Warner Brothers films.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Shaking Off Taylor Swift

On my way home yesterday, I heard Taylor Swift's song, Shake It Off. And I couldn't. I woke up with the song going through my head. Anytime my mind slowed down, Shake It Off jumped in.

 It also came out in weird moments. I told Spike that he was cute, cute, cute, cute, cute, cute.

I think I'm safe now. Hope I don't relapse.

TCM Movie Matinee: Eyes in the Night

We stayed home on Tuesday because of the snow. After walking Spike and watching local and national news coverage of Juno, I checked out the TV listings. TCM was showing Eyes in the Night. Eyes is the first of two films about blind detective Duncan Maclain played by Edward Arnold.

The story begins when an old friend (Ann Harding) visits Mac. She's concerned because one of her old lovers is dating her young stepdaughter (Donna Reed.) The lover ends up dead, but that's only the beginning of a crazy night.

My favorite part of the film is Mac's dog, Friday. Friday is not just a guide dog; he's also a crime fighter who can manipulate doorknobs, jump into open windows and save the day.

The Hidden Eye is the second film in the series. I'm pretty sure that I saw it but can't remember anything about the movie. Eyes in the Night has the framework for a good series; I wish the series had continued.