Author: thoughtsallsorts

Just someone with thoughts about whatever happens to inspire - generally music, movies and books.

~Legends of Western Cinema Week Tag~

Ahhh….anything Western just catches my attention and so I came across Caftan Woman‘s Post titled LEGENDS OF WESTERN CINEMA WEEK: Post 2, Tag (originating at Along the Brandywine here.) And in this European heat wave…a tag is just perfect…especially with the Western theme. Ok, ok, a Western tag is perfect come rain or shine, hot or cold… 🙂

1) Do you tolerate, like, or love westerns?

What kind of question is that???? I looooooove Westerns! But those “traditional” style ones. These new-fangled modern-day Westerns aren’t for me.

2) What do you enjoy about them and, more broadly, the west itself (e.g. the history, accompanying paraphernalia, etc)?

War_Wagon_film_posterI just love that “romantic” notion that the Western movie brings me. There’s something special about a cowboy driftin’ the plains. The honkey tonk music somewhere in a distant saloon where someone is bound to come crashing to the boardwalk through the swinging doors. And then there are the cowgirls, the ladies who can swing into the saddle and wrangle as good as any man. She can hold her own in the dusty west yet always has a tender side.

3) What’s the first western you can remember watching?

The War Wagon with John Wayne on the Super 8 reels my parents had salvaged from a store who was about to throw them out when VHS and Beta Videos came out and the Video Store was born. I think part of my passion comes from that certain something that came with watching movies on our white lounge walls and ever so often having to change burnt out light bulbs or salvage stuck film before it melted.

4) Who are your favorite western stars, the ones whose presence in a western will make you pick it up off the shelf?

Gosh, this is a difficult one. When I was younger, John Wayne (but a young or middle-aged John Wayne) was a definite watch. Gary Cooper and Paul Newman weren’t too bad either. But over the past few years, Gregory Peck has become my favourite. But this too is bound to change. I like modern day actors in Westerns too – Michael Fassbender does a good job as does Karl Urban.

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5) What’s your favorite performance by an actress in a western?

scalphunters3I thoroughly enjoy Sharon Stone in her role as The Lady in The Quick and the Dead. But Shelley Winters as cigar smoking Kate in The Scalphunters is absolutely brilliant.

6) What is your “go-to” western, the one you’ll typically reach for?

Yellow Sky. And now and then The Magnificent Seven (1960). But yes…Yellow Sky. I’d say it is my favourite western.

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7) Do your family/friends share your interest in westerns, or are you a lone ranger (pun completely intended)?

My father loved a good western but these days I’m out on the prairie alone.

8) Pick one western to live inside for a week, and explain why you chose it.

I’d have to pick Yellow Sky…and of course I’d be “Mike” (Anne Baxter) as she’s tough as nails yet behind all that lies a woman who’d love a beautiful dress or that flowery bonnet. And it is just so wonderful how her friendship with “Stretch” (Gregory Peck) develops. Ok…fine, I just love this movie so I’ll admit it…I’d dream of living it…

 

Although, as a little girl I used to see myself as some character in Big Jake and make up my own derivative story.

9) Share one (or several!) of your favorite quotes from a western.

Ha ha…I don’t even need to look this one up: “You can call me father. You can call me Jacob. You can call me Jake. You can call me a dirty son-of-a-bitch. But if you ever call me Daddy again, I’ll finish this fight.” – Jacob McCandles (John Wayne) to his son James (Patrick Wayne) in one of my other favourites, Big Jake.

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Friday’s Drive Home with Natural…

…not much to be said but turn it up full blast and enjoy the drive on the highway home!

I thoroughly enjoy this one…Natural by Imagine Dragons. It also has some “sentimental value” with a very specific time/association in my life…you know, when a piece of music coincides with life and thus becoming forever intertwined?

(Video might be disturbing to some so maybe just listen)

First impressions of…Psycho (1960)

PsychoPosterWe all know that iconic shower scene accompanied by that specific music…don’t we? And we all know which movie it comes from. Yet…until this weekend I’d never dared (yes, “dared” because I’m scared of horrors…but how bad can a 1960s movie really be? And Hitchcock? Why am I such a scaredy Cat??? (no pun intended for those who know me…ok, ok, fine, I couldn’t resist).

So, with The Janet Leigh Blogathon I decided to tackle this one. In that way, it would go from my To Watch List to my Watched List because I’d obviously need to watch it. And it is another case of …why did I wait so long?

Absolutely excellent. The opening credits, or more so, the music sets the scene (gosh, I’m doing well today 😉 ) for a brilliant Hitchcock work. And off course, the symbolic music, those screeching strings have finally made an impact…I’d learnt about how they are the perfect horror music accessory but this movie really shows their ultimate usage. One thing is for sure, I’ll never be quite comfortable in a motel shower again. Ever. I’ll probably also check behind every picture too.

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Oh, the story. I won’t go too much into it. I think you’d best discover it yourself. Let’s just say that Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) ends up at the Bates Motel one rainy night. Run by Norman Bates, the creepiest guy out such a lovely, polite man. And well, the rest I won’t give away. I never knew the story until now, so will leave you in as much suspense. Just go watch it.

Moving on to our Blogathon subject…I’d never seen Janet Leigh before (bar the shower scene stills) and was really impressed. I absolutely loved her in this Oscar and Golden Globe nominated role as Marion. Even though we are introduced to her in what is a secret tryst, somehow she is still a sympathetic character from the start. So much so that, knowing the shower scene was coming, I was hoping that, having never seen it, she’d come out of it alive. And, spoiler alert (sort of), what she does to get the story going in the first place, is therefore totally unexpected. Janet Leigh‘s depiction of her inner turmoil is absolutely convincing yet there are moments when you wonder if she’s not a little psycho herself. Yet, somehow you really feel for her. Especially once she checks into the infamous motel (oh, that’s another thing that I “knew” of this movie but really didn’t, if that makes sense…amazing how popular culture impacts us). But somewhere, at the back of my mind, the unfair thought that she ended up in this situation because she wasn’t quite innocent crept in. Would any of this have happened had she gone to the bank?

Fascinating, yet disturbing, is the explanation/reasoning behind the shower scene. The personality/ies of Norman. It somehow reminded me of the movie I’d reviewed a while back, Peacock.

JL banner - Evil 1It isn’t only Janet Leigh who makes this all come together. Hitchcock‘s amazing imagery, the music, the actors, the story, everything just works so well together to present us with the perfect movie. Absolutely worthy of a watch. Maybe even a second or third.

Love Letters to Old Hollywood has more Janet Leigh post right here.

Animal Farm…thought provoking

I’d always “known” about Animal Farm by George Orwell but it is another of those books that, embarrassingly, I’ve never gotten around to read. Until now…and I should have read it a long time ago. But then, I’ve always believed that a book finds you at the right time…

…you see, I’ve been on a serious reading drought for the last, hmmm, two years…but, recently a work colleague recommended it. Said it was a nice thin book that I’d get through quickly. Hmmm, ja, maybe, we’ll see…besides, I don’t like asking people for their books…but somehow I asked after all…

Well worth it. And yes, it is a quick and easy read, but by no means to be underestimated. It is thought provoking both while you are reading and long afterwards.

The story, is about a bunch of farm animals who are convinced of a cause. Of getting rid of humans and running the farm themselves. Such they do, starting off with reasonable ideals and living well as a community. But, from the get-go, you have an inkling around the cracks that are inevitably going to appear. Of course, as the story unfolds, these cracks get bigger and bigger and by the end, the initial cause is no longer recognisable, although, you saw this coming all along. It’s all so clear. Well, obviously not to the animals. Or maybe it was?

While the allegory is on the events leading up to the Russian Revolution and the following Stalinist era, I wouldn’t restrict it to that – reading it, many other situations/events came to mind. In fact, we can simply go down to a general human nature level with this book. I’m sure you too will be able to pick out people you know. Look no further than your circle of acquaintances (possibly even friends), people you engage with at work or just the community on the whole. Interestingly, Mollie, Boxer, Clover and Benjamin immediately brought known people to mind, even Moses seemed familiar. In fact every single animal or group of animals could be associated in some way or other in the current time.

As for the helplessness or inevitability of the situation…nothing more frustrating than being the outsider who just knows where it is all heading. And the signs are so clear. I just wanted to scream at the animals…can’t you see where this is all going? But so too I guess is the real life situation…frustration at why people just can’t see what is happening. Frustration at why people don’t change things, or why they don’t change things earlier. Why they allow themselves to be brainwashed, to become indifferent, to just accept things, to accept others’ egotistical goals and power kicks. It is seemingly easier for many to remain in a comfort zone, even if it isn’t an ideal one, than to stand up for things, to question, to challenge. To simply accept someone else’s “me, me, me” approach. And so often the gripes are vocalised (amongst the discontent) but never actioned upon because status quo appears to be better than to ruffle feathers. To just continue because “it is done” or because “what difference will it make”. But, this is a touchy subject, one that I will ponder some more, take it offline.

And on a different note, ahh, the book itself…visually, striking. I had it lying on my desk at work and the cover caught the attention of quite a few people.

Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) looks really good too. Just bought it and can’t wait to get stuck into it!

So wonderfully horrendous…agonisingly euphoric…

Reel Infatuation 2019…you just want to cry out of pure frustration yet savour those special butterflies in your stomach. Knowing that you can never have the man…knowing that he doesn’t view you the same way…that helpless feeling knowing that he has his own life. One where you don’t feature. Arrghh….I absolutely love but hate crushes!

And the worst part…this one snuck up on me. I mean I knew him (who doesn’t?) but out of the blue, one day, the besotted-ness just hit me square on. I never saw it coming. I can’t pinpoint what triggered the wiring in my brain to go haywire…something just did. And now…I’m not managing to get over him. What are you????? 16 years old????? Crazy?????

Possibly it was because he was just another guy until that point where he realised things needed to be done and without muscling his way through, but rather even battered and bruised joins the “opposition” and makes some plans taking everyone’s input into account:

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I’m on about a man who speaks his mind. He’s confident and goes after what he wants. When others don’t dare, he does it. He ruffles the feathers and gets stuff done. Who wouldn’t crush on a man like that? He’s also clever and has a plan, even though he’ll often deny it or claim he’s not educated (raised in a brothel)…

…he’s worked his way upwards. He has a drive to better himself. He has used the resources available to him to observe, listen, train, grow, learn…and has become something better. Through pure determination, trial-and-error as well as long hard hours, the fact that he is underestimated gives him an advantage. And definitely doesn’t deter him in business dealings with the “aristocracy” who mock him. He listens. He soaks it up. And then speaks wiser than any of those with formal education.

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He is ultimately respected by his friends (and enemies) and likewise respects them. He doesn’t claim a higher status amongst them and even makes a round table so all are equal:

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But, I’m not his type. A man like that wants a fit, young and pretty woman. One who can hold her own when the going gets tough. That’s why, he might be single now (I guess he has work to do at this stage), but we all know how things go once Guinevere enters the scene. Don’t we?

But, I can dream on, can’t I?  About the things that make a man total crush material.

Oh…did I mention…I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but in case you didn’t, my character crush is on Arthur. Not the King. But the man, who grew up not knowing his true background. That gives him so much more character for me. Makes him so much more attractive. The fact that he doesn’t use his status to get ahead.

Head over to my crush posts from previous Blogathon years: Crushing on Will Scarlett and Lucky Luciano (here), Sexy Crush…Peaky Blinders’ Tommy Shelby (here) and Unsuspecting Crush (here)

And now that I’ve disclosed my latest crush you can read about others over at Silver Screenings (here, here and here) or Font and Frock (here) (aka A Smell Press Life)

Sexy, oops, I mean, Mean Villain…

…gosh, what’s on my mind? This is the Great Villain Blogathon…right? And I’d put my name down for Prince John from Robin Hood (2010)…right? And, my mind is clearly elsewhere because I got sidetracked…right? Wrong…because…actually, the real villain here is not Prince John (Oscar Isaac)…he’s merely being, should we say, gently guided, by the sexiest nastiest man with ulterior motives. Oooh….but there’s just something about Godfrey, who just wouldn’t be the same if played by any other actor than Mark Strong.

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I’d very quickly realised that Prince John is simply a spoilt brat who wants his way. And he’s too busy having his way (not with his wife) to really pose any threat. Yes, he might have his moments, purely out of having some sort of power kick, but Godfrey, he’s there ever so subtly, or not, steering things. Weaseling his way into everything. Being English “when it suits me” French when that works better.

Godfrey has this presence from the very start. He’s clearly not phased by airs and graces, so comfortable is he around Philip of France during their (and our) first encounter. With that introduction comes…a perfect piece of music that will forever be associated with him…this one:

…it is Godfrey for me…staccato, slightly evasive, yet with an underlying hardness, energy, gradually increasing in drive, just like this man…all to gradually crescendo to a point where he eats the human blood stained oyster. The things people do. He encourages his men to plunder from the dead and doesn’t hesitate a moment to yank on the lance embedded in a dying knight. All in a day’s work it seems. And he’s so smooth when he does this.

And if his initial presence isn’t enough, somehow the scar on his cheek from Robin’s arrow simply makes him meaner in terms of personality as well as looks. Oh, and according to seasoned expert Prince John, the “ladies will love you all the more” for it. It amplifies his sexiness, oh no, did I write that again? “villain-ness” while he’s always listening, always scheming:

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Addressed as “my Lord” by both the French and the English, this man will casually instruct his men to get rid of someone or patiently wait in the sidelines for an opportunity to present itself. Strategically positioning himself during court meetings, saying just the right things, while Prince John is too busy dealing his family and greed issues. Wait…isn’t that an ever so slight (sly) smile on his face as he is about to officially serve the crown? Nicely played Godfrey, nicely played:

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“Choose carefully the spot Godfrey, where you would place your dagger”, so obvious to everyone including William Marshal (William Hurt). A man to be wary of.

Villain Banners 2019This must be one of the most heartless villains…who gives an old man news of his son, proudly telling him that “I’m the one who killed him” (left in a French ditch)??? To entice a fighting reaction from a blind man…plain mean.

Yet, at the end of the day, things must come to an end for him. And, while cowardly trying to race from the battlefield, this villain has had lots of personality. He has a certain presence that doesn’t even need his “signature” theme music. You notice him in all the scenes he’s in. He’s so bad yet somehow I feel drawn to him. He has the blatant audacity to pursue his goals. The way he holds himself. Confident, almost elegant. And while I obviously don’t support his behaviour, it is this type of character, acted perfectly by Mark Strong, that allows that “guilty pleasure” of being drawn to the bad guy. Because, that’s what movies allow us. Escapism.

For my previous entries to the Great Villain Blogathon, pop past Villain, Villain on the wall (here) and Meanest of the Mean…Ma-Ma (here). I’ve also written a piece on Mark Strong as a character actor in A Strong Character… (here)

And of course all the other entries to the Great Villain Blogathon can be found here (Shadows and Satin), here (Speakeasy) and here (Silver Screenings).

Here some impressions together with his theme song:

10 Things I Hate About You…

10_Things_I_Hate_About_You_film.jpg 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) is already (!!!wow, can’t believe it!!!) 20 years old yet it never feels that way…I still enjoy watching it as much as I did when it came out.

First things first, the plot: Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) transfers to Padua high where he is smitten on first sight with Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik). Telling his new friend Michael (David Krumholtz) that he would like nothing more to date Bianca he finds out that she isn’t allowed to date. This due to strict dad-rules which unexpectedly change: Bianca has a sister Katarina ‘Kat’ (Julia Stiles) who everyone deems scary, anti-social, ant-establishment etc. So, “knowing” that nobody would ever think of even approaching Kat, dad allows Bianca to date if Kat does. And the challenge is on! Find a guy crazy enough to date Kat so that Bianca can do so. Enter Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) the guy who has supposedly eaten a live duck, done time, donated his liver etc..

Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, you know you’re in for a good one when a character is introduced accompanied by Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation. And that’s the refreshing part…Kat doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her and she is who she is, having “swore I wouldn’t do anything just because everyone else was doing it”. The reasons become clear during the movie but I really think this is such a valid point. As is Patrick’s comment to Cameron of “don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want”. So there you have it…the guy who uses his flip knife in science to dissect a frog isn’t all that bad. Oh, and he even buys her a Fender guitar instead of flowers and chocolates to apologise for messing up:

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I never tire of watching this one. While it may be predictable, it is still a pleasure watching the characters fall in love. Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger have really good chemistry together and at the same time are convincing in their outward “mean and scary” demeanor yet showing their underlying true personalities in just the right quantities at the right time. But it isn’t just these two. Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Krumholtz, Larisa Oleynik and Andrew Keegan (who plays stud Joey Donner) gel well together with their respective characters being absolutely believable. The magnitude of teen high-school problems and dilemmas come across perfectly.

So, if you haven’t seen this one yet, go give it a go. It really is worth the watch. And, after that, you could even give the series a go. I thoroughly enjoy it too (watching episodes here and there when the mood strikes) and it is a pity that it never got past the first season.

Head on over to Pop Culture Reverie and In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood for some more entries into this It’s a Young World Teen Movie Blogathon. And finally…enjoy the week ahead.rebelbanner