Monthly Archives: March 2012

Happy 95th Birthday, Vera Lynn!

Vera Lynn

What can I say? It’s fantastic that we still have Vera Lynn, even though she gave up singing at 80. Personally I wish that she would have continued, if only to show the world that older people can. But we have the recordings to enjoy.

Happy Birthday! And may there be many more.

Mother’s Day repeat

Either the Resident IT Consultant is even more forgetful than I thought, or I was especially lucky with last night’s dinner entertainment. With only minutes to go before the pasta was done I hurriedly picked a not much watched episode from NCIS season 7. It being the eve of Mother’s Day in the UK, I picked Mother’s Day, despite my earlier comments about it being the worst I’d seen. At least that meant I’d not watched it over and over again.

Gibbs and mother-in-law

Not at all, in fact, if last night’s experience was anything to go by. Maybe we watched it without the Resident IT Consultant, and couldn’t be bothered to offer it up a second time. So serendipity provided me with something 100% fresh for my pasta-eating companion. Nice.

And now that I’ve got both hindsight as well as the determination to see if certain writers write better episodes than others, I have to say that not only was Mother’s Day quite good, but it was written by none other than Gary Glasberg and Reed Steiner. My remaining complaint is simply that this couldn’t (shouldn’t) have happened in real life. Other than that, very well written.

I’ll have to look up other, half forgotten or ignored episodes. There might be treasure out there. Even for a very big fan.

(Photo © CBS)


It struck me that it’s not in every country you can pick up an abandoned baby on a rubbish dump, and simply keep it as your own. But that’s what the young Venezuelan mother and her little son did in the film Hermano. That means brother, and that is what the abandoned baby became to the young boy.

This was the second Venezuelan film for me in this year’s ¡Viva! film festival at Cornerhouse. There are many similarities between Hermano and La Hora Cero; the poor quarters where life is cheap and gun crimes and other violence are of the everyday kind. Where the young start out much as other young people do, only to find that too much is against them and they stand very little chance of getting out successfully, or of living to an old age.


Hermano is also an incredibly good film, but with an ending which took me by surprise and I am certain it was meant to, because of the way it was done. If not, we’d have been more aware of how the penultimate scene played out, and the element of surprise would have failed.

So, it was sad, and although much of the film was sad, there was hope for most of it, too. The foundling, who turned out not to be a cat after all, went by the nickname Gato, and he and his brother Julio (who really wanted a cat) are top football players in their barrio division, about to play in the final. They are discovered by a talent scout and have hopes of signing with Caracas.

Julio deals in drugs, while Gato is an innocent, who doesn’t even quite understand how the girl he’s in love with ended up pregnant (by someone else). Their mother works hard looking after them and she helps them live and breathe football.


And then disaster strikes, and the question is how this will affect them. Because it is fiction and a film, you expect that something will work out, despite all the signs to the contrary. It does, but not as you imagine it.

Wonderful for the football, and a wonderful film. Sad, but scary, when you consider the very real reality of life in Venezuela when you are poor.

I’ll Remember April

This is a lovely film, about the shameful period in US history when they forced US citizens of Japanese extraction to live in internment camps. It’s something I didn’t know much about at all, and where I expected a mediocre film, I felt I got a charming and instructive story about what might have been a brief part of American history, but so very traumatic for those involved.

I'll Remember April

In 1942 four boys discover an injured Japanese submariner on the beach where they live in California. They are scared, and don’t know whether to kill him or report him or help him. One of the boys, Duke, has a brother in the war, another is a Japanese American and about to be interned.

It’s both funny and touching as you see their fear and the excitement, and the frenzy whipped up in their little town when the FBI arrive. Duke’s parents are normal upright people who stand up for their Japanese neighbours, and worry about their soldier son as well as the father working double shifts because there is a war on. So different from other war time films where we are made to believe that the American way of life never changed because they didn’t fight ‘at home.’

Things turn bad, as they have to, but the film ends on a hopeful note.

For a fairly unknown little film, there were some good performances from all involved, including Pam Dawber and Mark Harmon as Duke’s parents, and especially from Pat Morita as their elderly Japanese neighbour. I could watch this again. It was cute, but the seriousness of the politics counterbalance this perfectly.

It’s 45 candles on the cake for John Barrowman

Happy 45th birthday to John Barrowman!

John Barrowman and parents

Hardly surprising John is like he is with such crazily fantastic parents. Good thing they gave up on the idea of throwing him out for being a noisy baby. (Although he is still pretty noisy at 45.)

(Photo Helen Giles)

Due South

Due South

Ah, those polite Canadians! I’m so ignorant that I didn’t know they are especially polite until it was mentioned in the pilot episode of Due South. In which case I’m sure it’s correct. I knew Canadians don’t want to be continually mistaken for Americans, but the bit about manners was new to me.

I was fairly certain that Due South was a television series from about five years ago. Proves how fast time goes, as it’s getting closer to twenty years by now. But never mind that. I’m just glad I discovered it, however belatedly. And really, it’s mainly the size of mobile phones which has changed.

For anyone under the impression that I am mentioning Due South today because it happened to be Lucy Mangan’s choice of DVD-box this week, I have to say you are wrong. I may have been late with my discovering, but I did it just before Christmas, and lovely Son went and supplied me with the whole caboodle, and now the Resident IT Consultant and I can enjoy an episode whenever we need entertainment featuring an over-polite Canadian Mountie on Chicago’s mean streets.

I even watched the pilot twice, as Daughter was out the first time and I felt a compulsion to introduce her to RCMP Benton Fraser. She politely said it was fine, but she didn’t see any need for watching every single episode. She must be a little Canadian.

Apart from being a wee bit too handsome for my liking, Benton is a sweet thing, holding doors open for old ladies and being able to chase people for miles, not getting lost either in the wilderness of Chicago or in the vast, empty spaces in Canada. His wolf Diefenbaker is deaf and lip-reads, except sometimes I notice he seems to hear after all.

Once he got to Chicago Benton was paired off with smooth Italian detective Ray Vecchio, whose dress sense seems stuck in the 1980s. But he’s a nice man, once he gets used to the Mountie ways of doing things.

Well, what can I say? Being late I haven’t watched the whole series yet. But I will, and I intend to enjoy every step of the way. Starting with our pasta dinner tonight. (That’s the drawback. I have to think of meals that are easily eaten in front of the television.) And I’m a little disappointed to find they didn’t film in Chicago after all. It’s Toronto. Oh well.

Arrugas – Wrinkles


Or you can live long and go into an old people’s home. Not dying early might seem like a good thing, but it’s not necessarily much fun having to go into a home. Arrugas is a Spanish animated film set in a care home, and it is both heart breaking and at times very funny. But the heart breaking wins, and I was in tears by the end.

Emilio is getting increasingly confused and his adult son puts him into a home. At first Emilio seems quite ‘with it’ but gradually it becomes clear that he has Alzheimers. His room mate Miguel is a cheerful sort and he tries to keep him going.


He makes friends with a number of the ‘inmates’ and each of them has a problem of some kind. There is the woman who collects all the un-eaten food, to give to her ungrateful grandson when he visits. The childhood sweethearts who are still together after all these years. And then there is Miguel who appears to be a bit of a crook.

The selling point of the home is the swimming pool, except the old people don’t get to use it. The weekly gym is popular only because it gives the men an opportunity to ogle the teacher’s breasts.


Bleak though this film is, there is also hope. They have all lost so much (except maybe Miguel, who never had anyone to begin with), but when they look more closely, they find someone new, be it a puppy or a companion for travelling on the Orient Express (don’t ask).


And when you are elderly you can’t even kill yourself with your stash of stolen pills if they spill out all over the floor.

But there is hope. Not much, but some.

Beautiful film. Sad, but beautiful.