Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rob Roy: A Highland Adventure

Over the past month I have been recovering from foot surgery. This meant weeks spent in a recliner watching movies to keep my mind occupied. One of the films that I watched was Rob Roy starring Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange. When one thinks of Scotland, movie audiences almost immediately think of BraveHeart. I happen to think Rob Roy is superior to Braveheart in many ways.

Rob Roy is a 1995 historical drama film directed by Michael Caton-Jones. Liam Neeson stars as Robert Roy MacGregor, an 18th century Scottish historical figure who battles with feudal landowners in the Scottish Highlands. The villains in this movie were perfectly casted. John Hurt, famous for his portrayal of Caligula in the 1976 BBC television production of I Claudius, plays the part of Marquis of Montrose who lends Rob Roy £1000 only to have Montrose’s conniving factor Killearn (Brian Cox) and evil henchmen Archibald Cunningham (Tim Roth) conspiring to take the money for themselves.

Together John Hurt and Tim Roth portray the greed that can befall men who hunger for nobility and power. Tim Roth was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the villain Archibald Cunningham.

(Tim Roth as Archibald Cunningham)

(John Hurt as Marquis of Montrose)

(Liam Neeson as Robert Roy MacGregor)

Breathtaking landscapes of the Scottish highlands, steamy love scenes and non-stoping, riveting action together make this film a must see. Rob Roy had excellent cinematographers in Karl Walter Lindenlaub and Roger Deakins and costume designer Sandy Powell.

The realistic sword fighting scenes in this movie can be attributed to fencing master and choreographer William Hobbs who also choreographed Othello (1965), Excalibur (1982) and The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) among many other great films.

Click below to view the final duel between Rob Roy and the infamous Archibald Cunningham in addition to a montage of the movie with Celtic music performed by Scottish folk singer Karen Matheson.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Just For The Beauty Of It....

By guest author ClassicBecky

John White Alexander
I had never heard of the artist John White Alexander (1856-1915) until Yvette, a blogger friend of mine, highlighted some of his paintings on her site. (See below for information to visit Yvette's lovely site.) His work is stunningly beautiful, specializing in portraiture, and I plan to try to obtain at least one print for myself. Alexander was a very popular artist of his day, and he did portraits of many famous people, including Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Walt Whitman. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Alexander was quite celebrated, accepted into the famous Beaux Arts Salon in Paris, and his paintings now hang in museums, including The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Library of Congress. I find it strange that his work was not known to me, but here for your enjoyment is a selection of some of my personal favorites:

Portrait in Gray

Young Girl in Rose

Portrait of Mark Twain

A Ray Of Sunlight (the Cellist)


Isabella and the Pot of Basil

If you could choose one painting from this selection, which would it be? For me, it is the lovely Isabella ... and now I'm getting greedy ... I want The Cellist too!

(Visit Yvette's blog, in so many words..., to see more of John White Alexander, and to enjoy her offerings of art, literature and classic film reviews. Click on http://www.yvettecandraw.blogspot.com. )

Halloween Season Begins in Blogosphere

Halloween may be a couple months away but the Halloween Season has already begun in the Blogosphere. There are many great blogs out there to help you get into the mood of ghosts and goblins. I wouldn’t have the space to include them all in one post. Below are a few of my favorites. Enjoy!

George Van Orsdel’s Monster Spookshow Radio


Halloween Holler




Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Playwright and author, Tennessee Williams called her “the greatest prose writer that the South produced.” I fell in love with Carson McCullers’ writing when I read The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. In her debut novel which she wrote at the young age of 22, McCullers interweaves the racial tensions in the South with the internal human struggles of her characters. McCullers touches on several themes including unrequited love, racism, poverty, cruelty, forgiveness and loneliness.

Set in a small Southern mill town in the 1930s, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a richly told, unforgettable story about a deaf-mute John Singer and a spirited young teenager girl, Mick Kelly. Mick is an idealist beyond her financial means who struggles for happiness. She becomes infatuated with Singer. In the end, Singer is a “Christ-like” figure where those broken, misunderstood, put-upon characters rely on to help them in their search for meaning in their lives.

One of my favorite literary reviews reads of this novel reads as follows:

"This book is literature. Because it is literature, when one puts it down it is not with a feeling of emptiness and despair, but with a feeling of having been nourished by the truth. For one knows at the end, that it is these cheated people, these with burning intense needs and purposes, who must inherit the earth. They are the reason for the existence of a democracy which is still to be created. This is the way it is, one says to oneself - but not forever." - May Sarton.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Edge of Darkness: A Norwegian Epic

Lewis Milestone's Edge of Darkness, released in 1943, depicts the heroic true story of the Nazi resistance led by villagers in a small Norwegian fishing town of Kronos. It's hard to fathom that the threat of Nazi occupation stretched far North into Scandinavia.

Edge of Darkness is full of beautiful cinematography that captures Norway’s scenic beauty. The movie opens with German planes flying through the clouds and mist that engulf the mountains and villages. The head of the fisherman’s union, Gunnar Brogge, (played by Errol Flynn) assumes command of the resistance after his lover Karen Stensgard (played by Ann Sheridan) is raped by a German soldier.

Edge of Darkness captures the human struggles experienced by Norwegians under Nazi occupation. Lewis Milestone, who also directed "All Quiet on the Western Front" delivers a wartime drama at its best.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Salem's Lot: A Macabre Delight

Horror movies are one of the most difficult genres to pull off successfully with audiences today. There are so many horror movies being made today and most of them are terribly written and unoriginal. Many of the best horror movies ever made were based on novels or short stories written by the "King of Horror" himself, Stephen King.

My next movie recommendation for this month is Salem’s Lot which is based on Stephen King’s second novel. Salem’s Lot aired as a television miniseries in 1979 frightening millions right in their own living rooms. Salem’s Lot is a deeply engrossing story that unfolds exactly as if you were reading a book. The pace of the movie for today’s audience may seem slow, but the slower pace allows time to weave intricate relationships between key players of the story and creates a ripple like effect as the suspense of the movie increases.

Salem’s Lot is a story about author Ben Mears who returns to his childhood town to write a book on the infamous Marsten House, a 19th Century Gothic mansion that has haunted Ben since his childhood. The Marsten House was once occupied by child rapist and murderer Hubert Marsten who mysteriously died in the house. Upon Ben's arrival, he discovers that the house was recently purchased by two antique dealers, Straker and Barlow. Acclaimed British actor James Mason, who played Brutus in the 1953 production of Julius Caesar, delivers a stunning and eerie performance as Straker.

Not long after Ben's arrival, a child goes missing in Salem's Lot while another is admitted to the hospital for pernicious anemia (severe blood loss) and dies. Others soon go missing and soon the town of Salem's lot seems to be dying off to some mysterious plague. As bodies go missing from morgues and cemeteries, Ben believes the source of the evil that has succumbed Salem's Lot lies in the Marsten House and its evil tenants Straker and Mr. Barlow, whom no one has ever seen.

Salem's Lot is a truly terrifying Gothic horror movie that is reminiscent of Bram Stroker's Dracula. What it lacks in special effects and gore, it makes up in suspense and atmosphere.

Click here to view movie trailer:

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Perfect Halloween Nostalgic Experience

"Who Spooked Rodney?" was a TV Halloween special from the '80s about a superstitious boy who gets spooked on Halloween after going to the fortune teller. I first discovered this on TV when I was very young, and forgot about it for years, until I happened to come across it on YouTube. It’s the ultimate nostalgic experience that captures the Halloween experience. This 30 minute video is divided into 3 parts. Enjoy!