Sunday, June 29, 2014

New Hampshire Museum Visits

In a recent visit to New Hampshire (aka Nude Hamster), I had the opportunity to visit 3 very different museums.

First, there was the Christa McAuliffe - Alan Shepard Discovery Center in Concord.  Go to Museum Website here.

This was a small museum, (and felt even smaller with 3 bus loads of young school kids running around), but the exhibits were informative and well-done.  There was a large section that talked about lunar photography - the equipment needed and the techniques used.  There were also displays of objects used on space missions: 

This is a backpack used for space walks - it weighs about 300 pounds.  The museum worker on duty said that if we ever find ourselves in space, we shouldn't do what the actors did in the movie Gravity, or we would soon be dead.  They also had a display of a toilet used on the space station.  Somehow I neglected to photograph that, even with the docent demonstrating it! They also had a jet ejector seat, and several other pieces of space equipment.  

This is an XF8U-2 Crusader Jet for which Alan Shepard was a test-pilot.  Eventually this will be hung from a NASA atrium ceiling.  

There were models and displays about the careers of both of these astronauts, but there was one significant display that seemed to be missing.  After touring the whole museum, I found nothing about the 1986 Challenger Disaster.  Finding this a curious omission, I approached the same museum worker to ask if I had missed a display.  He looked at me with a strange expression, and said, "You aren't from around here are you?"  "No, I'm from Ohio," I explained.  That seemed to explain everything to him - "everything" being the ignorance of my question.  He went on to explain to me that "it's just too soon."

The Shuttle Challenger exploded about 1 minute after take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 28, 1986.  That is almost 30 years ago.  The museum worker went on to explain to me that every school child in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts saw the explosion live on television, and everyone was traumatized by the event.  The school systems in New England had to bring in thousands of counselors to help the children deal with the trauma of what they saw.  So, for the people of New England, mentioning the disaster in the museum is too painful.  The family of McAuliffe has also asked the museum to focus on her life and accomplishments rather than on her death.

While I understand the sensitivity of this subject, and the delicate steps that this museum has to walk, I really feel they are doing a disservice to their visitors.  It seems to me that part of the purpose of a museum is to teach the facts of their subject.  Do we have Holocaust museums that don't mention the death of Jewish people because it is too painful to their families, or because everyone already knows how they died?  

I'm not suggesting that this museum has to show video of the event, but I do think there should be some mention of it even in a small discreet corner display.  To omit it is to deny an important fact of history which the space program actually learned from.  Of course, this is my opinion, and was clearly not shared by the museum worker with whom I spoke  nor with its director and decision-making board.  I found myself wondering what the young children who were in the museum had been told about this space mission.


The second museum I visited was the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester.  Go to museum website here.

This front sculpture is called "Origins" and was done by Mark Di Suvero in 2001-2004.

This third photo was the original exterior entrance to the museum, but it is now in the courtyard of the museum cafe as a new section was added in front of it.  

I have to say I was very impressed by this museum.  It was very well done and contained many important works of art.  They have permanent collections of European, American, Contemporary, Modern, Decorative, and New Hampshire Art.  I really felt like I was in a miniature version of a large classic museum from New York or Chicago.  Much of the permanent collection can be seen on the website. 

This was the first painting that caught my eye.  It was done in 1897 and is titled A Knock at the Door.  This is by English artist Laura Alma-Tadema.  She was popular in her day, and was considered a 'first wave feminist'.   I was fortunate to find a matted print of this painting in the museum gift shop, so I now have it framed and hanging on my bedroom wall!  I was struck by the fact that the fame itself looks like a mirror frame as it houses a painting of someone looking in the mirror.  I was also struck by the fact that to me the head tilt in the mirror's reflection doesn't match the head tilt of the woman looking in the mirror, and would we really be able to see that much of a face if we were looking from this angle behind the woman's head?  In spite of these issues, I found the painting quite charming. 

Another painting that I was lucky enough to bring home and hang on my wall is this one called Freeman Farm: Winter 1935 by American artist Maxfield Parrish who died in 1966 in New Hampshire.  What struck me about this one was the glow of the sun behind the house which is so intense it looks like the painting is lighted from behind.  I marvel that he was able to achieve that effect.  

There was also a lot of great furniture in the museum.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Loveseat called "True Loves Blue" was done by Jon Brooks in 2000.

"Distant Thunder" - 2001 - Wendell Keith Castle - Peruvian Walnut with oil finish.  

This last chair was designed by architectural great Frank Lloyd Wright and is a sort of recliner - made in 1902-03.  It also just so happens that this museum is affiliated with the only public Frank Lloyd Wright house in New England called the Zimmerman House.  Tours have to be booked through the museum and the house is accessed only by museum vans by reservation.  I would LOVE to see this house, and it is on my To-Do list for a future visit.  Here is an internet photo of the house:  

The Currier Museum (no relationship to Currier and Ives, by the way)  also has a wing in which they feature temporary exhibits.  While we were there, we saw a special exhibit by artist Romare Bearden who did a series of works called "A Black Odyssey". This is a series of works that tell the story from the classic Greek Odyssey by Homer but with African figures portrayed in the scenes.  His point was to make the story accessible to African-American students by helping them see how the story was really universal.  

My summary of a trip to this museum would not be complete without including 1 more photo.  I neglected to note the artist, but I still want to share this work because I found it fascinating:

The wood is exquisite and the carving is excellent!  It is whimsical, and yet it has a serious subject of Motherhood.   I found it thought-provoking.  

Another thought-provoking piece was this by artist Marisol Escobar, an American born in Paris in 1930.  This work is called The Family and was done in 1963.  It was actually on the cover of Time magazine on Dec. 28, 1970, to introduce an article about the crisis of the American family.  The stylish mother is decked out in gloves and a pill-box hat as she takes her 4 children for a walk.  The doll being carried by the 3-legged child has a self-portrait of the artist.  She used found objects and an influence of Cubism to capture the materialism of post-war America.

Visit the website to see more about this lovely museum, and be sure to stop in the next time you are in Manchester, N.H.  They also have a great gift shop where I was able to get some nice jewelry and a set of Frank Lloyd Wright inspired placemats.  


The third and final museum visit for this trip was outside.  It was the Andres Institute of Art in Brookline, NH.  Visit museum website here.  This is an outdoor sculpture collection built along the hiking trails of Big Bear Mountain.  It was started in 1996 by Paul Andres who bought the land and built a house at the top.  There is one trail for cars, but most of the sculptures can only be seen by hiking.  Some of the foot trails are very steep and only for diehard hikers.  Other paths are more for normal walkers.  You can download a trail map that tells you how steep they are and how long each should take.   Cousin and I stayed in the car.  The terrain is hilly and woodsy.  Little clearings are cut out along the road for the sculptures.  We didn't get out of the car to read any of the artist info, but most of the sculptures can be seen on the website.  Here are some of the ones we saw:

This is the first set of sculptures on the car trail, and it is intimidating.  These are lifesize metal cutouts of armed military guys on patrol, and there are about 8 of them placed around in the trees.

This is the gate at the start of the trails.  
The museum is free and contains dozens of sculptures that are quite varied in theme, material and size.  

Those are my museum experiences for this trip.  Thanks for letting me share with you!  What museums have YOU visited lately?  I want to see your pictures too!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Edith Head Visits Lancaster, Ohio

Welcome to Lancaster, Ohio, home of the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio,
 and this summer, the home of visiting Costume Designer,  Edith Head.  

First, let me clarify: Edith Head passed away in 1981, so "she" wasn't actually in Lancaster, but a museum there hosted a fabulous exhibit of some of her work.  For those of you who don't know her, she was the main costume designer at Paramount Pictures from 1924-1967, and she won 8 Academy Awards for her work.  

Edith had a BA from UC Berkeley, and an MA from Stanford, but she never studied costume design.  It just came naturally to her.  She began as a costume sketch artist.  But enough bio stuff....  you can read more about her life on Wikipedia if you are interested.  Let's move on to the exhibit!  

My traveling companion (here after referred to as TC) and I had never been to Lancaster before.  We were immediately impressed by how lovely the town is.  There are many well tended historic homes and several museums in the downtown area.  The Decorative Arts Center of Ohio is in a building called the Reese-Peters House which dates back to 1835.  The first floor is decorated with period furniture to represent the house as it would have been  in its heyday.  The second floor is for special exhibits.  There is another building on the property called the Wendel Center for Art Education, and of course there is a delightful, ubiquitous gift shop.  
TC and I both agreed that this exhibit was very well done!  A large grand staircase swept from the first floor to the second with actresses in Edith Head designs leading the way.  

From the top of the stairs hung movie reels with pieces of film hanging down identifying the names of her Academy Award winning films.  Very clever!

The exhibit consisted of 4 rooms and the central hallway where the clothing was displayed.  One of the most clever parts of the exhibit was the use of technology.  In each room was an iPad on a stand.  The screen showed the costumes in the room, and when you touched a photo, a movie clip would play showing the opening movie title sequence, the credits, and then a scene where the costume was worn.  This part of the exhibit was really great and added so much to the write-ups of the clothing.  

It was amazing to be able to compare the clothing we were seeing in person to the images on the screen.  It was clear just how much the camera can distort its subject!  Here are some examples of what I mean:

This dress was worn by Joan Fontaine in the 1950 movie September Affair.  Much of the beaded detail of the bodice was lost in the black and white movie.  In person, this dress is magnificent!  The dress also appears to be white in the movie.  

These costumes were worn by Arlene Dahl and Bob Hope in the 1953 Here Come the Girls.  You can see the golden color of this dress with a pink ruffle in my photo above.  In the black and white display photo it appeared white (below), and the color of the ruffle was totally washed out.  However, in the color movie clip, the whole dress appeared to be a pink/lavender color. I don't know if the movie was colorized, or if that was the original version, but it was interesting to see how much black and white photography and colored filming affected the true color of the dress.  

Speaking of color versus black & white film, I noticed early on that a dress that was a dark rust color in person looked black in the movie.  I asked the docent on duty if Edith designed with the use of b&w filming in mind.  It turns out she did, and that is why she often wore large glasses with dark-tinted lenses.  She said she wanted to view the world as a black and white camera does.  

One of the dresses I found most interesting was very simple and made of silk.  It was worn by Carroll Baker in 1965's Harlow.  It was a bias cut, cream silk charmeuse.  In the movie, the star falls into a fountain, and as you can see from the picture below, the dress becomes her skin.  What I marveled at was that the silk survived that water.  I am curious as to how this was cleaned after the filming.  

Along the walls of the display rooms were quotes.  This is a good one:  

The center dress is this display was worn by Mae West in She Done Him Wrong from 1933.  This got my vote for "favorite costume" out of 4 shown for museum guests to pick from.  When we voted, the 4 options were running neck & neck.  

Here is Edith shown with a list of the movies she won her Oscars for.  Interestingly, none of these movies were represented with clothing in this show.  

My friend, TC had this to say about the show:  "The Edith Head exhibit was a lovely treat for fans who are nostalgic for the glamour of old Hollywood!"  I agree! Here are some of her favorite costumes:

This was worn by 2 actresses in the same film as part of the plot was the 2 women show up at a party wearing the same dress.  TC said she had a bridesmaid dress with a similar print. 

The one at the right here was from an Elvis Presley movie - this got TC's vote for "favorite".  (Note, the one at the left is the one I said looked black in the movie.)

This was worn by Jane Russell, and of course she looked amazing in it!  

We noticed that in the movie where this black dress was worn, the "drops" were very sparkly - it was much more impressive with movie lighting on it. But TC commented that this was something that could easily be worn today. Indeed several of the styles on display were classics that could be worn now.    The dress at the right with the fish decals wasn't worn in a movie.  It was made for a promotional photograph.  

We also commented that all of the costumes were very small.  Of course, they were made for Hollywood glamour girls with curvy figures and small waists, but most of these were tiny-tiny.  Our docent said that Edith designed specifically for each person and worked to hide their flaws and accentuate their assets.  


TC and I topped off our visit to this exhibit with lunch at a place called Shaw's Restaurant.  This a lovely restaurant in a hotel in downtown Lancaster, just a couple of blocks from all the museums.  The food was very good, and I can highly recommend it to my readers who visit Lancaster in the future.

This exhibit is on through August 17, so if you are local and can make it to Lancaster, please let me know what YOUR favorites were!

Thanks for reading!
:)Amy (and TC!)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mrs. Poe - Book Review

I just finished reading Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen.  I found the book to be engaging and frustrating at the same time.  In general I would say I liked it, and I'm glad I read it, but I'm still not sure what to make of it.  

The book is historical fiction, and Ms. Cullen talks at length in an "Author's Note" at the end about how she researched the history of the characters and the setting.  For her it was important that everything in the story "could" have happened.   The story begins in New York City in 1845 after Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven" has just been published.  The main character is a young poet named Frances Osgood who becomes linked with Poe both professionally and romantically.  In many ways this is a classic example of a gothic romance where there is intrigue and drama with slowly building sexual tension.

The title ambiguously refers to both the real Mrs. Poe, his young bride Virginia, and Mrs. Osgood who is actually mistaken for his wife more than once in the book.  Virginia Poe and Frances Osgood become friends early in the book when Virginia declares she is a fan of Fanny's poetry.  This friendship is strained at times as the romance between Frances and Edgar heats up, and at times the friendship is a useful excuse for Frances and Edgar to get to see each other.  Virginia's mother Mrs. Clemm (Muddy, as she was called by Poe) also plays a large role in the story.  

My enjoyment in the book was just in getting lost in the story and the time.  It was engaging and easy to read.  However, my frustration was in not knowing what was true and what was fiction.  Having taught Poe for many years in school, I'm fairly familiar with his biography and with the common thinking about what he was like.  This book confused what I thought I knew with this author's interpretation of some of his biography.  The book also talks a LOT about many of the other important writers and editors of the day.  Margaret Fuller, Horace Greeley and poet Rufus Griswold figured heavily, and Louisa May Alcott is also mentioned as are many other contemporaries of theirs such as Walt Whitman.  Poe and Osgood attended many salons which were a who's-who of the literati of the time. 

Frances Osgood was married to Samuel Stillman Osgood, an important portrait painter.  He was a well-known philanderer who left her and their 2 children high and dry to go off and paint wealthy women who often became his lovers.  He eventually came home again, but his reputation affected them in many ways.

One thing I found interesting was the description of Lower Manhattan and Greenwich Village from the 1840's.  Central Park was just in discussion at that time, and not everyone thought it was a good idea or necessary.  Manhattan was largely undeveloped.  Cullen also talks about touring Trinity Church as a scene from the book is set there.  She tried to go to all the places she wanted to write about - whether they still existed or had changed - to get a feel for the setting.  

I also found interesting the ideas of marriage that were mentioned.  Divorce was not acceptable at that time, so many couples lived very unhappy lives or had other relationships.  On one hand that lifestyle seemed to be accepted and understood, yet it was still the subject of gossip and ridicule.  There was much talk of a person's "reputation".  You had a bad reputation if you got divorced, and you had a bad reputation if you had an affair.  The characters commented that very few couples had "good" marriages.

I must say, reading this book has inspired me to do some research into the events and lives of some of the people mentioned.  I would recommend this book to lovers of Poe and 19th Century American literature, but I will say it needs to be read with a grain of salt, and the realization that much of it could be fiction.  

If you read it, let me know your thoughts!

:) Amy

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bessie's One Year Anniversary!

I have been negligent in not reporting on Bessie's BIG milestone.  On June 11, 2014, she celebrated her 1 year anniversary since surgery.  We celebrated by going to the surgeon where she got a great report.  He took another couple of x-rays, and said everything looks great!  I don't need to go back for 5 years.  (Let's see if I remember that in 2019...)

One question I asked my surgeon was if there are any parts inside that could work themselves loose over time, and he said no.  The only thing that might need attention at some point in the future is the plastic plate that is between the 2 "bones" that rub together.  (This would have been the meniscus, originally, which is what was worn away.)  He said that this plastic plate can wear down over time, but it wears at a very very slow rate, and most people are never affected by it.  If it wears down enough that it is noticeable, it can be replaced with a simple surgery, but let's hope that never happens with Bess!

Tonight I went back and read my entries here from that first 10 days after surgery.  She was still dead-weight at that point.  Ah yes, how well I remember.  Just last night I laid in bed and lifted my leg high in the air and reminded Hubs that I couldn't do that last year at this time.

Doc asked me if there was anything I wanted to be able to do that I can't do now.  I told him that I need to work on stairs because I don't have any in my daily life unless I go out of my way to find some.  I told him that I can do stairs as long as I have something to hold on to, but I'm not confident, and I want to get stronger with that.  Hubs made me a box to step on last year for PT and I can still use that for practice.  I'm going to start doing that daily.

Doc also asked me about the other knee.  I told him that I originally was thinking I'd wait 2 or 3 years and get the other one done, but now I'm not sure I need it done.  He said that is very common.  Once the new knee is up and running at full capacity, it takes much of the pressure off the other "bad" one, so it is not as strained.  I think that is what is happening with me.  Of course, that whole leg is still out of alignment which ultimately affects the way I walk, so it might be a good idea to have it done anyway.  That will also help my hips if I am walking straight with both legs.

I must say, my quality of life has improved immensely because of my surgery!  Just last week, I flew to New Hampshire and back.  My walking in the airport was very easy this year, and I didn't have to stop to rest my knees half way down the concourse as I did the last time I went. I even thought to myself as I walked up the Jetway from the plane to the airport that my knee didn't hurt at all!   I still can't really bend them as tightly as I could "back in the day", so getting in and out of a car can be a small challenge, but I do have more than 105 degrees on Bessie and just a little under 100 on Tillie, so I "can" do what I need to do.

So, that's my 1-year-milestone update.  I really can't complain at all about the process or the progress.  Everything turned about better than I ever thought was possible!  YAY !!

I appreciate your support - thanks for sticking with me!


Before Midnight - Movie Review

Ok, there is no way I can talk about this movie without spoiling the ending of the previous movie, so prepare for a tiny spoiler...

Before Midnight is the 3rd (and so far, last) in the series, and was produced in 2013.  Again - 9 years after Sunset.

This movie opens with Jesse saying goodbye to his son at the airport, and we learn that he and his family are vacationing in Greece for 6 weeks.  His family is now Celine and their twin daughters, and his son with Jesse's first wife who lives in Chicago.

As the movie progresses we learn about how he missed his flight at the end of the previous movie, and eventually, he left his wife for Celine.  They lived together in New York for awhile, but eventually moved to Paris, where she has a successful career, and he is still a writer.  He wrote a follow-up book about their second meeting.

During an early conversation that Jesse has with some of his male friends, we also learn more about Jesse's writing career and some other ideas he has for new books.  I must say some of these ideas are fascinating, and I'd love to actually read these books!

This movie is somewhat different than the first 2 in that it incorporates more people, mostly friends they are vacationing with.  They have some good, in-depth, conversations with these people at dinner. It is very interesting adult conversation about sex and relationships and marriage.   After dinner, Jesse and Celine walk to a hotel where they have been given a room for the night as a gift - without their daughters.  It is on their walk to the hotel and during their time in the room that we see them as they were in the previous movies - focused on each other and their relationship.

Both characters have aged (they are now 41) and have matured.  Both of these changes show in their conversations.  However, the basis of who they are together really hasn't changed.  A large part of their conversation is a  fight which ends with Celine boldly telling Jesse that she doesn't love him any more and walking out the door.

As was the case with the first 2 movies, the primary focus here is on their conversation with each other in real time.  However, to me, this movie felt even more real than the first 2.  It is sexy and funny in places, and these 2 people really seem like a couple.  (They are not married.)  It is clear that Jesse is head-over-heels in love with Celine, and he has made huge sacrifices to have a life with her, while she remains a bit strong-headed and temperamental.  At one point he calls her "The Mayor of CrazyTown", and that is pretty accurate.

One clever writing bit from this movie is when he is making up with her after the fight, he picks a napkin up off the table and says it is a letter she wrote back to her younger self from her 82 year old self.  He "reads" it to her, and through it is able to soften her and get her to talk to him again.  As the movie ends, they are "together" once again.

Another thing I liked about this movie was accurate and realistic references to cell phones, computers, Skipe, etc.... and some realistic references to the role that computers now have in relationships.  This movie doesn't try to pretend that the internet has not affected life as we know it.  I found that refreshing.  (Especially after Nebraska which was supposedly set now and yet no one had cell phones!)

It seems to me there HAS to be another movie in 2022.  Right?  And every 9 years until they are both dead.  There just HAS to be!

Well, again, I highly recommend this trilogy, and I recommend watching all 3 in short succession.  Then you can wait another 8 year with the rest of us!

Happy Viewing, and thanks for reading my reviews!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Before Sunset - Movie Review

Before Sunset is the 2004 sequel to Before Sunrise from 1995.  As it has been 9 years between productions in real life, it has been 9 years between meetings for Celine and Jesse, the characters in the movie.  So, the actors really have aged the same as their characters.

As Sunrise ended, the two characters had agreed to meet at the same spot on the train platform in exactly 6 months.  As Sunset begins, we learn that they didn't meet that day. (And we learn why, but I will leave that for you to learn when you watch.)  In fact, this is the first time they've seen each other since their magical 24 hours in Vienna 9 years ago.  

As of 2004, Jesse is now a successful writer who is on a European book tour.  His last stop is Paris where he does a book talk and signing at the famed Shakespeare and Company Bookstore.  As his session ends, he sees Celine watching him from across the room.  What is the book he's written?  It's a romance about their first meeting.  It turns out that she's read it and saw a notice that he would be there.  Obviously, she knows it is a true story, but he doesn't admit to the public that it's based on real life and has labeled it "fiction".  

This time, they do what they did before.  They spend some time together before he has to fly home - this time it is about 80 minutes in real time.  They walk and talk their way through Paris, with a stop at a cafe and a boat ride along the way and ending at her apartment.  Sorry - no spoilers here.  You will have to watch it to find out what happens.

As with the first movie, this is all about their conversation.  They discuss their lives, loves, philosophies and share very private thoughts and feelings. This movie had the same primary writer, Richard Linklater, but was also co-written by actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.  They all came together in Paris after several years of emails and phone calls discussing ideas and dialogue, then they rehearsed for about 2 weeks and shot the movie in 3 weeks on location around Paris.  This movie received wide acclaim and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

An interesting side-note, both Delpy's mother and father appear in the movie very briefly as neighbors in her apartment building.  

In the days since I watched the first movie, I found myself looking forward to watching this second one.  I'm very glad I didn't have to wait 9 years to do so.  I now have #3, Before Midnight, waiting for me.  I'm not spoiling it for myself even though I know the plot summary is online.  I'm having fun imagining where this next episode will take us.  

I do have just one question or complaint, however.  In this second movie, Celine's character is working as an environmental activist.  She is very concerned about all environmental issues like pollution, etc...  Then during the scene when they are having coffee in a cafe, she pulls out a pack of cigarettes and lights up.  Really?  I found this totally out of character for her.  Maybe that's the point - that she's human and has inconsistencies as well, but I found this to have an untrue ring to it.  Just my opinion, I'm sure. 

Those of you who are romantics at heart will enjoy these movies.  I do think their impact is enhanced by watching them in short sequence.  While it is tempting to label low-action movies where people talk about their feelings and relationships as "chick-flicks", I really don't think these are.  I think romantic men who value in-depth relationships with women will see value in these movies, too. 

Let me know what YOU think!  Happy viewing, and come back again soon!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Before Sunrise - Movie Review

Before Sunrise is a 1995 romantic drama starring Julie Delpy as Celine and Ethan Hawke as Jesse.
The two of them meet on a train from Budapest.  Jesse is traveling to Vienna where he plans to catch a plane back home to the U.S., and Celine is traveling to Paris to return to the university after visiting her grandmother.

This entire movie takes place over a period of less than 24 hours in which these 2 characters get to know each other as they explore Vienna on the night before Jesse is to fly home.  They have a few minor encounters with other people, but 95% of the movie is the 2 of them talking to each other as they walk around.  They go to clubs and restaurants, but mostly they walk around outside - along the Danube, through the streets and parks.

Through the dialogue these characters share stories from their lives, but they also talk about their philosophies of life and relationships.  As the night progresses, they share their attraction to each other by kissing.  As their feelings grow, so does their physical activity, but they agree not to have sex.  However, whether they do or not is left to the viewer's imagination.

I'm not really giving anything away here as far as "spoilers" go because there isn't really any action to give away.  The point of the movie is the dialogue.  The movie ends when Jesse walks Celine to her train and he goes on to the airport to fly home.  As they say good-bye, they agree not to exchange contact information, but they do promise to meet again 6 months later at that spot.

This movie was first released at the Sundance Film Festival in 1995 and received rave reviews.  The Director/Writer, Richard Linklater, later won an award for Best Director at the 45th Berlin International Film Festival as well.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie.  As was the case with Nebraska, this is largely a character study.  I will say that the dialogue seemed very real and natural for the 2 stars.  I'm told (by Wikipedia) that there was a script written by Linklater and Kim Krizan, but I would not have been surprised to learn that the actors were given mere suggestions and improvised much of the dialogue.  It felt very fresh and true to life.  The actors also seemed to have a natural chemistry between them.

To me, the relationship that develops between these 2 characters captures the experience that people can have when they open themselves up to new experiences and are willing to take some risks.  If they met at home and had a more traditional relationship that developed during a series of dates, they might get to the same place, but it would take months.  Here they know they only have 1 night so they skip the small-talk and get to the meaty stuff right away.  

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is where they pretend to have phone conversations with their best friends at home, about this experience, and they each take the roles of the friends.  It is a very insightful conversation and shows how well they have gotten to know each other very quickly.  It is also a somewhat safe way for them to share their feelings sort of indirectly.    

There are 2 sequels to this movie.  Before Sunset is set 9 years later, and then Before Midnight is set 18 years later.  They are next on my Netflix Que, so you'll be hearing about these subsequently!

I hear thunder in the distance so that means it's about time to shut the computer down.... 
Thanks for reading!
:) Amy

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks - Movie Review


Have you seen this movie yet?  If not, you should !  Put it on your To-Do List right now!  Go ahead... write it down.... I'll wait.  

There!  That wasn't so hard was it?!

I found this to be a delightfully enjoyable movie!  I'm sure it helped that I've always loved the original movie Mary Poppins and have very fond memories of it from my childhood.  The picture above depicts Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers, in a scene where Disney gives his guest a tour of Disneyland.  I chose this picture from the hundreds of them I found because it captures these 2 characters as they are throughout most of the movie.  Disney is almost always smiling and "selling" his brand, and Travers is determined to be a sourpuss almost ALL the time.  

Pamela Lyndon Travers is the pen-name of an Australian writer and actress who published a series of books about a magical nanny named Mary Poppins.  The first book came out in 1934, and by 1961, when Saving Mr. Banks is set, there had been 4 books in the series.  The premise of this movie is that Walt Disney's daughters had loved these books, and he had come to love them as well, and was determined to make the story into a Disney movie.  Saving Mr. Banks is the story of how the movie Mary Poppins came to be made.

Here is an interesting photo I found with the real people superimposed over the actors:

P.L. Travers was born in  Australia in 1899 and was named Helen Goff.  "Travers" was the first name of her father who died when she was a child.  She lived until 1996 and spent most of her adult life in England.  She was never married, but she did have an adopted son.  She also was in an "intense" (and possibly ambiguous)  relationship with a woman named Madge Burnand, and they lived together for decades.

These Mary Poppins books are new to me.  I don't remember ever knowing about them when I was a child.  I also don't ever remember hearing that the Disney movie was based on books.  (Here we go again with more holes in Amy's knowledge and memory!)  Ms. Travers was also an actress.  Here is a photo of her as an actress when she appeared as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Here is a photo of her(right) with Julie Andrews (left), who played the role of Mary Poppins in the movie, and Walt Disney, taken at the premier of Mary Poppins in 1964.

In Saving Mr. Banks, Mr. Disney has asked for the rights to the Mary Poppins stories, and Ms. Travers has refused to sign the papers. Her lawyer has advised her that she needs to give Disney the movie rights so that she can make some money because she was in need of an income.  So, when Disney invites her to California to work with the writers so that she will feel she has some control over the script, she goes - but just for 2 weeks.  She dislikes much of what has been written and argues with the writers over very small details. Travers is difficult for everyone to get along with.  Everyone at the Disney studio seems to be puzzled by her and frustrated with her, but they all maintain the "Disney Likability" and bend over backwards to do things for her.

As the movie progresses, the story of Travers and Disney is interspersed with the story of her childhood in Australia.  Her father tried to be "magical" in his dealings with her.  She clearly was his favorite, and he loved to tell her stories and entertain her.  However, all his happy story-telling was hiding the fact that he was an alcoholic who had trouble keeping his job as a banker. Hence, the connection with the name "Banks".  He ended up dying when she was still quite young.  Here is a photo of Colin Farrell who plays the father Travers Goff and Annie Rose Buckley who plays the young Helen "Ginty" Goff.  

Saving Mr. Banks shows the process of making Mary Poppins.  Along the way we get to hear some of the songs and see some brief scenes from Mary Poppins as well.  Travers didn't like the idea of Dick Van Dyke playing Bert the cockney chimney-sweep.  Clearly she didn't win that battle!  She was also very much against having any animation in the movie. She thought the idea of animated penguins dancing with real people was just ludicrous!  

There was one battle that Travers did win with the writers.  It involved the portrayal of the character of Mr. Banks in the movie.  She wanted people to be left with a good feeling about him, in spite of his minor character flaws, and so the ending was written to accomplish this goal.  Hence, they "Saved" Mr. Banks.  

This movie was a great pleasure to watch.  There's really a lot going on it, and it does give food for thought as well.  I highly recommend it to all viewers!  

Thanks for tuning in here, and Happy Movie Viewing!