Category Archives: Film

Bye Napoleon

So, 2016 has claimed another life (or so it seems). Robert Vaughn died today, on the day we learned that Leonard Cohen had died earlier in the week.

He wasn’t my favourite Man from U.N.C.L.E. but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t fond of him. A little, anyway. I’m trying to refrain from calling him Nappy, but it was a nickname Napoleon Solo used at some point. Maybe it didn’t sound so stupid to them, then… It certainly wasn’t sexy-sounding.

I thought he was very good as the politician in The Towering Inferno. And after that I didn’t see much of Robert in anything. Once, in Prince of Belair, with Mark Harmon, as a not terribly nice man. (Could be why it’s not on Wikipedia..?)

More recently he did well in Hustle, which I never watched, but Daughter loved. It’s quite nice when older actors can come out and be sort of recycled when they are well past retirement age.

And it’s good when the different generations can enjoy the same stars in the same shows.

David Calder

‘Oh, there he is.’ That’s usually what I think when I see David Calder in something. And the point is he looks so familiar, like a long lost friend, but I still won’t remember his name. Or what else I’ve seen him in. I suppose some actors just are like that; like your neighbour whom you know well without knowing them at all.

This last happened in The Lady in the Van, where he was Maggie Smith’s long-suffering brother. Whenever I see him I want him to be good. It’d feel wrong if he was a baddie, but you can never be sure, so I always worry. I suppose I need my neighbours to be good.

Forgetting his name isn’t a problem, so long as there is IMDb. And with its help I can check what else I’ve seen him in, and the list is surprisingly short. Half a dozen television crime things, and perhaps something else. You know, not enough for that intense familiar feeling.

But perhaps that’s it. All you need is for a face to pop up every now and then, and you are convinced you are old – and dear – friends. Maybe we are.

And, erm, yes, David is 70 today. Happy Birthday!

Brooklyn

What with lack of time to actually get to the cinema in recent months, I decided to splash out and treat us to some home cinema over Easter, so bought two DVDs. (Yes, real splash, that.) And then we ran out of time, and barely managed one of the films after all.

As Daughter preferred to watch Brooklyn, that’s the one we saw, and I’m glad we did. I’d come across some less than enthusiastic comments when it was available on the big screens, but here at CultureWitch Towers we enjoyed it, and personally I could easily watch it soon again. If I had time, I mean.

Brooklyn

I suppose it was unrealistically romanticised, but I reckon you can see past that, and imagine what it was like to leave Ireland in 1951 and move to New York, all alone. And having vomited my way into England many years ago, I fully sympathise with looking green as you try and enter the US.

Brooklyn

Some things would be easier today, and others not. I quite liked the old Brooklyn, and thank god they made the landlady sympathetic, while no pushover. Julie Walters is always good. And I expect it’s modern media we have to thank for feeling suspicious of Irish priests, which wasn’t necessary here, with Jim Broadbent as your dream religious father figure.

Having seen trailers – in the actual cinema – I was afraid Eilis would opt to stay in Ireland when she returned. What I felt made the story true was the fact that you can love both places and want to be in the new place as well as the old one. You just need something that helps you decide. That feeling when you realise how much you belong where you grew up. Or the feeling when you can see that the new place is good and you want to stay.

Brooklyn

Because that old priest had a one very good comment to make on homesickness; how most people have it and it’s bad, but eventually it stops and someone else catches the bug instead. It does, most of the time, and often you don’t even notice that it’s stopped hurting so much.

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And then it’s your turn to help someone newer – not to mention greener – than yourself. It’s how it works.

There’s nothing wrong with feelgood films, and besides, there was plenty to cry over too.

The deathlist

It is hard keeping track of who has died when you’re living in exile. There are two categories of people I’d know about if I hadn’t left the country of my birth; famous people [but not so famous that their deaths are reported internationally] and local people [to me] that any remaining friends I have would know that I’d want to hear about.

The Retired Children’s Librarian has done a sterling job over the years by keeping a deathlist. In between our phone calls, she writes down who has died, and when we have spoken, she rattles off the dead ones. Some I will know about, because they made it into a British newspaper. Others I won’t, and I’m grateful to be told. She also has a fairly good grip on who I’m most likely to be interested in.

Dead local ordinary people is the hardest. Mother-of-witch would tell me the names of those she knew, but of course, there are always names that wouldn’t have meant anything to her. And it is quite hard to find out if someone is still alive, once you’ve tried the phone directory [which tends no longer to be very effective].

My reason for talking about deathlists here is that today I read a Swedish magazine article about someone famous and long dead. There had been a television programme about her, in which ‘the late’ Alice Babs had taken part. That was the first inkling I had that Alice Babs is dead. Not surprising, though. She died two years ago at the age of 90, which is pretty good going. And when I searched, I found that she made it into the New York Times, but that was probably mainly the Duke Ellington effect.

I have blogged about Alice once before. I still maintain that her Swe-Danes album is one of the best ones I own.

Galaxy Quest

Thinking about Alan Rickman’s films on Thursday, I was struck by an urgent need to watch Galaxy Quest again. So we did. It’s the kind of genius comedy that should be watched regularly, which we haven’t done, but might do from now on.

We saw it in the cinema when it was new, but it felt like not many people did at the time. We got the video and made good use of it for Son’s birthday party soon after, as a film that would appeal to the age group, but was unlikely to be known to the other boys. That turned out to be right, and Galaxy Quest was also a hard act to beat, or even match, for subsequent parties.

The Star Trekky-ness of it is fun, but all the humour works even if you have no idea what Star Trek was, or the relationships between its actors. And Galaxy Quest has the best taking-out-the-rubbish-and-recycling scene I know.

Time means you forget some details, which then can come back and be almost as good as new when you see them again. I particularly enjoyed the bit where the other actors, minus one, arrived on the spaceship and were freaked out by the aliens, who turned ‘human’ shape by the time the last of the group caught up with them and who had no idea what all the excitement was about.

It’s possible to go on and on about it and its perfection, but I won’t. Watch it – again – if you haven’t already. I believe I will. It was the only thing to do on a day that brought us the news of Alan Rickman’s far too early death.

Galaxy Quest

The show must go on.

Subtitled

Dubbing films is a vile thing to do. It’s OK if it’s for young children who can’t read, but at any other time I hate it. It sounds simple enough, but the ramifications are many.

If you’re an English speaker and move to Sweden you will be fine. You have to put up with subtitles all over your James Bond, but he will still speak the way you expect him to.

If you’re an English speaker and move to Switzerland, you will be less fine. You’ll be lucky if you have subtitles to put up with. James Bond will have a weird new voice, and what’s worse, if you don’t speak French or German there is little point in going to the cinema at all.

I’ve now had the pleasure of cinema in Geneva twice. There is the odd film being screened in its original English/American, but you can’t choose the time or place as easily as if you go for dubbed-into-French films.

And for equality you get subtitles. Not one lot of subtitles, but two; one in German and one in French. I’ve discovered that the temptation to read the subtitles even when you understand the spoken words is great. It’s very hard not to read. The temptation to read is still there even when you don’t know the language of the subtitles. So there you are, listening to your normal actors, while desperately checking what those words look like in two other languages. Three, in the case of the original film requiring subtitles like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. which I saw a few weeks ago.

I liked it, which was surprising as I’d expected not to go and see it out of solidarity with the original television series. But it happened to be Daughter’s film of choice so I went.

The other day we watched The Intern. Not because either of us wanted to, but because we felt like going to the cinema and it was our only option. We’re glad we did, as we enjoyed it far more than we thought we would.

Mamma Mia! for mother

I’m continuing my trend of jumping into the middle of films. This evening Swedish television very suitably screened Mamma Mia! which was a good end to Mother’s Day. Not that I celebrate it, but any excuse will do.

Came in about halfway, which is good enough for me. Even the Resident IT Consultant seemed to enjoy it for a few minutes. What’s not to like about James Bond getting down on one knee and singing ABBA?

That’s the thing, really. We had Mrs Kramer singing with Dr Hofstadter on one side and Mrs Weasley on the other. Agent 007 has to share a third of a daughter with Mr Darcy and Bombi Bitt. And their offspring is in love with a History Boy.

My own Daughter/Offspring was so keen to see the film the first time that we were in the cinema hours after her returning from her Swiss school trip. And Switzerland continues to be on the agenda.

Anyway, nice treat for all mammas.