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Amazing Grace

Amazing-Grace
I re-watched this moving film last night.  I knew very little of this period in history, other than a couple of names and recall watching the first time because it is historical, it had Ioan and Benedict in it.

It covers the period in William Wilberforce’s life where he tries to bring through parliament the Abolition of Slavery Act, during a time when many direct and indirect industries were reaping greedy amounts of riches from the backs of Africans, shipping and sugar plantations.  As humans we rarely want to think about the full consequences that bring us what we want [how many of us could really visit a slaughter house but would clamour for a good steak or sizzling bacon, how many of us think of sweat shop working conditions but begrudge paying extra for ethically traded clothing, I am as big a hypocrite on this score as anyone].

Politics and its ugliness, it most devious and scheming thwarts attempts time after time.  We meet John Newton [excellently portrayed by Albert Finney] in his monastic years, his spirit and dreams haunted by the thousand of slaves he had on his ships, and the bodies he threw overboard.  Known to the educated as the author of the hymn, he implores and encourages Wilberforce to struggle on.

Eventually he succeeded, but only be a lighty devious means.  Often when his motion was put to the house the opposition would ensure they had all their people there ready to vote.  So, a bill was introduced by another with regard the use of ‘neutral flags’, where ships often flew them to avoid being attacked and boarded by privateers.  A boring bill, a piece of nothing, but all too late did Lord Tarleton realise that by banning the use of ‘neutral flags’ the slave ships and sugar ships could not carry their cargo safely and thus a resounding victory saw the start of this country’s abolition of slave labour.

The portrayal of these men is colourful and impressive and gives insight to the period excellently, but it is the very end as the credit begin to roll that so do my tears.  It starts with a lone piper, in full dress uniform slowly marching through the amassed company playing the haunting strains of Amazing Grace, shortly the remainder of the pipers join in, as the lone piper continues his slow march.  As the piper progresses and the camera pans back you see the drummers as the begin.  Until finally the whole band is together in harmony.  The building up on the layers is goose-bumping and to my ears no piece of music is ever as ‘right’ as bagpipes and Amazing Grace.

A blight on our countries history, one of quite a few really, but we do find enlightenment eventually.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2014 in Films, Review

 

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All In A Week

BusyHead

I have often remarked that if I could just link my head to the computer via a handy usb port I would get so much more done!

The week has been all kinds of topsy-turvy.  Sunday last was a car boot day, I was up at 5am, bundled into the car by 5.40, arrived on site and made our first sale by 6.15.  You have to be that early, if you join the que of cars waiting to get in after 6, you’re likely in the hedges or turned away.  It was a gorgeously sunny day and along with my Big Sis and her bestie we people watched, mused, laughed and amused ourselves through the next six hours.  We didn’t make our fortune, the estate car was packed to the roof and what we took home went into one box.  As we sat there munching a ham roll we listed the stuff we had not brought and it was sort of collectively tentatively thought we do it all again next Sunday [15th].  I don’t mind doing them but I always get this fear I will need a wee … there are some loos there [think muddy field festival type style] but they are raised and not disabled friendly [probably not human friendly at all, likely to be bitten on the bum by a spider].

Monday got thrown out of kilter as Sister was going to be here all day. Husband was going out in his kit car, taking son as well for a boys night, so they’d be gone from 4 til 9 so instead of going home to sit in an empty house she stayed with me.  We had a pizza treat and watched Pompeii.  wow what a film! It was exhausting, you were so taken in by the characters and knowing the impending doom and wanting the good to win and the bad to get their just deserts.  Highly recommend it.

Tuesday did its best to behave as normal but I still had not recovered from the exhaustion of Sunday and no matter what I tried, I could not get proper resting sleep.

Wednesday was all over the place, Big Sis was on-call to watch over the not-so-tiny terrorist, everything was waiting on phone calls.  So we couldn’t really settle to do stuff as we knew the phone would ring, as it did.  Although I do believe Wednesday night I did actually sleep, phew!

Thursday was Big Sisters birthday, and we went out for a carvery together.  Lovely meal, I don’t often have a gravy dinner, no point doing all the faffings for one, it was a nice treat to feast on roast pork and turkey, roast potatoes, peas, beans, carrots, stuffing, sausage, proper meat gravy and a big old Yorkshire pudding.  

Friday behaved, but I am so behind on all the stuff that should have been done, the whole house needs a proper going through and I just do not have the time or the inclination, as for the energy, forgetinalready!

Yesterday I was proofing my web work of Friday before publishing the new review page.  There maybe some other additions to make [when people get back to me] but for now I am pleased with it.  Just the new photo album to work on, this means selecting the photo, correcting any faults and sharpening, resizing, adding site logo, adding © info, saving it to the folder and then making sure you have the note of who, what and where it was taken.  There have been six shows in all, I have done about 6 from the first two shows so far.  It can be arduous working a web site, getting the permissions and the paragraphs of remarks and reviews etc, but the finished article can look quite pukka.

aaaand we’re back to another Sunday, trying to catch up on the catching ups.  Need to empty the washer if I want clean nickers tomorrow and need to get washing done if I want a clean top!  Sink is full of dishes, freezer needs organising, trash needs stuffing in the bin, counters need wiping. I’ve got a pile of papers that need filing and a DVD that needs packaging up for mailing out.

Where are the team of helpful elves when they’re needed!!

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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12 Angry Men

12angrymen

On Tuesday night my Sister and I went to see this play.  It has been decades since we saw the Henry Fonda film but were intrigued.

The cast were excellent, Martin Shaw [juror 8], Jeff Fahey [juror 3], Nick Moran [juror 7], Robert Vaughn [juror 9].  Some may remember Shaw from tv programmes like The Professionals, The Chief, Judge John Deed etc, Fahey was in Lock Stock and a few other blockbuster films, I am sure many of you know Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo in the Men From U.N.C.L.E. [no brownie points for knowing that acronym]. The rest of the cast were Paul Anthony-Barber [juror 4], Robert Blythe [juror 6], David Calvitto [juror 2], Edward Franklin [juror 5], Owen O’Neill [juror 12], Miles Richardson [juror 10], Luke Shaw [juror 1], Martin Turner [juror 11] and Jason Riddington as the Guard.  Hmm, always thought thesps were the superstitious types, 13 in the cast, 13 on stage .. but thankfully the fates left well alone.

The plot surrounds 12 men good and true in 1950’s America, serving as jury on a murder trial where a boy of 16 is accused of murdering his father – a crime for which the death penalty lies.  It was interesting to see the complexities of a group of people all seeing and hearing the same thing [the trial] yet entering a room full of opinions and prejudices and closed minds.  It illustrated all that is bad and all that is good about the jury system.  Essentially the slum-living forgotten child is let down by his court appointed Lawyer, all believing that the evidence is too too tight to be dispute or questioned.  But one man, juror number 8, thinks and questions and slowly pulls apart the prosecutions case and the witness statements, as one by one the fellow jurors change their determined “Guilty” vote to “Not Guilty”.

Watching the film you forget the off hand comment and the humourous twists, where a large audience do and yes you laugh out loud.  The knife used is thought to be unique but the night previous [it was a three day trial, be three months in this day and age] juror 8 had taken a wander around the neighbourhood and purchased an identical knife, both were stuck in the jury room table; during a discussion a protagonist grab the knife to show its use and a small voice says “That’s the wrong knife’, the protagonists point rendered mute.

It was not until the end of the first half that my Sister asked me about the table, I had not noticed it had slowly revolved around, it started at curtain up in the | position, small end to the audience, by the end of the first half it was much more of a , having travelled almost 180º.  I never noticed it move, it was so subtle.  We also noticed that with this play there were no use of microphones [as has been the case with others].

It was skilful, artful, poignant, and entertaining.  I wish it well for it’s up-coming West End debut.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in Review

 

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Magdalene Sisters

magdalene_sisters1

A thoroughly mind provoking film about 3 young women whom, under socially unacceptable circumstances see themselves cast away to a Magdalene Asylum for young women in 1964. One of many such institutions all over Ireland at the time; run by the rule of God and a will of iron, the prison like regime saw young girls forced to do workhouse laundry and hard labour, never to understand their crime and never to leave, unless they decide to ‘take orders’ and become one of the nuns.

The asylum is for supposedly ‘fallen’ women, one of the three had found herself pregnant, the child taken for adoption and she ostracised by her family; a second had been seen behaving tentatively flirtatiously towards the boys hanging over the railings at the orphanage, branded as potential ‘trouble’ she was whisked off; the third a young innocent who was raped by a village boy at a wedding, he said she asked, she said she didn’t, as he was believed she was denounced as a lying whore and taken at first light.

The young girls are imprisoned indefinitely and endure agonising punishments and a long, harsh working system which leaves them physically drained and mentally damaged.  Every ounce of human identity is removed, they are uniformed day and night, drilled and marched around, no idle chit chat permitted, every opportunity to humiliate taken advantage of.

As the girls bond together, it soon becomes clear that the only way out of the Magdalene convent is to escape, but with twisted Sister Bridget running the wing, any chances seem limited.

To say I enjoyed this might sound sadistic, but the enjoyment came from the quality of acting, the script, the scening, the whole package delivered its subject extremely well.  It was informative without being documentative.

I won’t go into the rights and wrongs of this system, nor the doctorin of religion imposed, it was of its time and now thankfully no more, but I do wonder if we had such schemes today more women would be ‘in’ than ‘out’.  It is a sad piece of social history.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Films, Review

 

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The Soloist

SoloistPoster

From the moment I first heard about this film I wanted to see it.  The film is based on the book by Steven Lopez a columnist for the Los Angeles Times about the Cellist Nathaniel Ayers, the book came about because of a series of columns wrote about Nathaniel, his life and its spirals.  There is something about a true life story that gives a film an undefined depth, but this one for me didn’t quite get there, maybe because as is often the case with such fall and rise films you wanted an ending that brought everything back together for the better – an ending with positive hope.

Lopez first finds Ayers playing beside the Beethoven statue in Pershing Square on a two stringed violin, Ayer’s schizophrenic mind zipping and darting as if on permanent fast forward but Lopez catches snippets that intrigue him as a writer, the mention of the word ‘Julliard’ the prestigious musical university.  He wonders what brought such a gifted musician to the streets of LA, homeless, broken of mind, but still enraptured in music, specifically Beethoven.

As when one human is touched by another so profoundly you want to do right by them, you want to be able to help set them straight, get them back to some kind of accepted ordinary.  Carting your life around in a shopping trolley, sleeping in doorways where the rats and detritus of the world accumulates, sitting for hours beneath an underpass playing a two stringed violin is far from the ordinary this once child prodigy deserves.

One of Lopez’s readers send him a cello for Ayers and this becomes the tool to bring Ayers out of his solitude, but the realities of life on and around skid row are harsh.  The interactions are wonderful, the scenes sometimes dramatic and disturbing, you sense the hopelessness of many folk so down on their luck that even the viewer cannot see help.  You see the results that a violent world can have on a person, and how their fear over rides everything.  It can be difficult rationalising a fear with someone of sound mind, but if you put pure fear together with an injured mind there is little that can be done.  You sense that Ayer’s does not want any association with the word schizophrenia because he will be locked up.  Ayers does not know what he wants for himself and is distrustful of everything.

If anything, for me, this film showed that how ever much you want to help and improve things for a person, they themselves may not want that.  You could see that Lopez wanted Ayers brought back to full health, receive treatment for his schizophrenia, had visions of one day Ayers being back at school, maybe touring as a cellist, in an orchestra, a world of audience adulation and acceptance, but Ayers would not want that.

It was an interesting film to watch, not exactly entertaining, not exactly inspirational, not altogether uncomfortable, but yes I would watch it again, there are nuances that I know I will pick up on second time around

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Films, Review

 

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Once Upon A Time .. .. Not So Long Ago

On The Road

As the weather improves I find I am feeling my confinement more than during the winter months [I know, I am never satisfied].  As I sit here the sun is shinning, the blue sky is smattered with a few fluffy comfy clouds, the tree is full of blossom and even the occasional chirp of a bird [other than crawing seagull] sounds happy.

Today is the sort of day that I would have sprung up with the alarm, washed my hair, dressed in clothes other than slopping around the house attire, got into my beloved blue car and with suitable rocking music blaring out, would have motored up to the City.  I’d have been seated in my best friends kitchen waiting for the coffee she offered as we gabbled and conversed, she may have been doing laundry or clearing out the fridge. We may have gone to do her grocery shop, or run errands in the city or taken child 1 or 2 to friends, project supplies shopping or where ever.  After jobs were done we may have sat outside or jaunted off somewhere, we may have watched a film together.  I would have been transported and involved in another world.

But I no longer drive and she no longer lives that close.

I miss it.

I miss that time.

Today I am trying to get some chores and jobs done but am too easily distracted. Coming to the blog site was a distraction from balancing the cheque book and paying the credit card.  Playing a silly game will likely distract me from emptying the dryer.  Staring blankly at nothing will distract me from filing away the post and papers.  Then I will be angry at myself for not getting the stuff done and allowing myself to distract myself.

A disability can take away huge things from a person, but it can be the little insignificant things that are felt the most.

Tonight I am going to watch the DVD The Soloist – the Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jnr film about the life of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers it is based on a true story and is something I have wanted to watch since it was first trailered in 2009.

Happy weekend everyone

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Senna – TT 3D – Fastest

senna

If you’re a an fan of the motor racing world then you will find this three disc box set very interesting and somewhat enlightening.

SENNA – a documentary style film about Senna’s years in Formula until his tragic death in 1994, predominantly featuring behind the scenes home cine footage and television interview footage, enlightening insights into the politics of formula 1, the on and off track rivalry between he and Prost, the changes in cars and teams.  F1 went through a rough period in the early 1990’s, the successful season of 1992 was followed by a controversial 1993 season when the early days of electronics ad computerisation creeped in, as such technology was out of the pockets of many teams they were banned for the 1994 season.  one would think this meant returning to the 1992 cars but no, it became a year of carnage where Martin Donnelly was severely injured in a practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, Roland Ratzenburger died while driving a qualifying lap at the San Marino Grand Prix and the next day Senna died during the race.

TT 3D CLOSER TO THE EDG – This centres on the 2010 season of this bastion of road racing.  It shows many of the riders [they look either old enough to know better or young enough to still be using stabilisers].  It does not really explain the circuit, which for a unique place is a shame.  I found the drivers talk interesting and insightful, however, it is portray Guy Martin as a slightly selfish renegade, maybe he was, maybe it was the black leather relentless sponsored attitude; all the same those eyes .  These guys are straight talking, hard riders, they know the perils and they know the dangers.  While the crashes are spectacular, there are injuries and fatalities, they do not make light of it.

FASTEST – The prime focus for this is Valentino Rossi, number 46, known as ‘The Doctor’ [give him the bike, and he will tell you what is wrong with it and how to fix it].  This baby faced uber talented rider charms those all around him, his fans range from the 80-year old Granny to the 3-year old toddler.  Listening to them as they describe the injuries that they ride with is astounding.  Rossi broke his leg and within weeks was back in the saddle and riding hard to reach a podium finish.  Watching the race footage I required a defibrillator as well as a ventilator because I was twitching and gasping as the wheels wobbled and my heart stopped as a rider high lined it off into the air.

guyeyes

I said there was something about those eyes ………….

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Films, Review

 

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