Thursday, December 27, 2007

Glass Mask

13-year-old Maya Kitajima is good for nothing, but can recite the whole dialogues from a 3 ½ hour-movie she has seen only once, including the gestures of the actors and their positions. When long-forgotten actress Chigusa Tsukikage sees her, she knows that she has found a perfect candidate to play the Crimson Goddess in the future. The Crimson Goddess is a legendary stage play and only a perfect actress can play it. The rights belong only to Chigusa Tsukikage, the only one who has played the role until a terrible accident destroyed her face, and she refuses to sell it to anyone, including ambitious Masumi Hayami, the young president of Daito Production Company, and Hajime Onodera, the producer of Ondine Theatre. Meanwhile, Ayumi Himekawa, a genius with perfect acting technique, also wants that role. Later Ayumi and Maya become life-long rivals, but they always admire each other. Both take any role, no matter how small or unimportant it is, because they believe that every role brings them one step closer to become the actress who will able to play the Crimson Goddess.
Mme. Chigusa teaches Maya that on stage she must wear the glass mask of the character she is playing in order to become the character completely and forget about her own. Maya runs away from home because her mother doesn’t allow her to act and she has a hard time dividing her time for school, theatre and half-time job. Her only consolation is that she has a secret fan who sends her purple roses and supports her in many ways. Maya doesn’t know that the Purple Rose is the man she hates the most.

Glass Mask (Garasu No Kamen) manga by Suzue Miuchi was very popular here in mid 90’s, but the final book had never been released here or have I missed it? I don’t think so! It has become a very favourite of mine, along with Candy Candy.

This animation brings a lot of memories. There is a very touching scene when Masumi visits Mme. Chigusa who is ill, bringing white roses and a basket of fruits; and Maya is so angry to see him (because she just heard that Onodera, and presumably Masumi, had sabotaged Tsukikage Theatre Group in a competition, resulting disqualification for them despite Maya’s wonderful efforts to perform it solo since the rest of the cast were late); and Maya snatches the flowers from him and throws them right into his face and throws apples at him. She doesn’t know how much Masumi cares for her.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Robson Green A Trilogy

Ain't Misbehavin' (1997)
Robson & Jerome duo was very popular in the UK in mid 90's, following the success of the Unchained Melody recording, which they sang in Soldier Soldier series. In Ain't Misbehavin', the two actors met again. Set in London around WW2, Jerome Flynn stars as an ex-RAF who becomes a saxophone player, and Robson Green plays a private detective who also works as a bass player. When the lead singer dies in a bombing, they both replace him and has misadventures with local gangsters. This movie is very entertaining, funny at times, with some nice musical numbers. This is my favourite among the three and reminds me of 'The Singing Detective' and wonder how would it be like if Green played the role of Dan Dark.

The Last Musketeer (2000)
Robson Green plays a fencer who gives inspirations to his students. Disappointed because he hasn't been elected into the national team and to get away from a group of gangsters who believe he has taken their money, Steve McTear (Green) finds a shelter in an exclusive school and becomes a fencing coach. I'm not fond of any movie about sports, so I don't really like this one. The tone of this movie is also dark.

Take Me (2001)
I have read many horrible reviews about this one, but this is a part of the trilogy boxset and I wanted to watch The Last Musketeer so much (although I end up with Ain't Misbehavin' as my favourite). Sad to say that after watching this, I am agree to those reviewers, and that Green's other works are better. In my opinion Take Me could be better if they had reduced the running time (293 minutes) because the first part is very slow. The plot is actually not bad, although it's hard for me to believe that in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne there is a neighbourhood where the husbands agree to swap wives in every party they have. It's nice to hear the lovely song 'The Twelfth of Never' by Johnny Mathis; I'm familar with the versions by Donny Osmond and Cliff Richard, but never heard Mathis's before. Jack (Green) suspects his neighbour Doug (Danny Webb) has killed a woman and hidden the body somewhere, but he has no proof; and later in a party Doug tells Jack that he has accidentally killed another. Jack helps him to bury the body in the woods only to find that Doug has set a trap for him. The twists in the end are nice. The food in the picture below also looks delicious...

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I love very much the Columbine - Hummingbird bookmark and it's also not difficult to make and doesn't cost much.

1. The pattern is free at internet.

2. I use left-over materials.

3. On the flipside I put the famous verse from the beginning of Auguries of Innocence by William Blake.

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour."

I am not a fan of poetry, but I really like this verse. Lesley Garrett used it in the beginning of O Waly Waly video clip and it was read slowly and I thought it was beautiful. You can download the soundclip here.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Alain Delon Screen Icons

Let's say I'm in a mood to see movies with good-looking actors. There are 5 movies in the Alain Delon Screen Icons boxset.

Plein Soleil (1960) - before Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith's novel becomes alive with this movie. Alain Delon plays Tom Ripley, who is sent by Philippe Greenleaf's father to save his son from a decadent life in Rome. Although poor, Tom is inteligent and his talents include forging signatures and immitating voices. Upset because Philippe treats him badly, Tom kills him and steals his money and later moves towards Philippe girlfriend, Marge. The ending is good: Tom happily sits on a chair under the sun while the police are ready to catch him. I myself prefer if he can get away from his crime and live happily ever after with Marge.

L'Eclisse (1962) - This is an art movie by Italian director Michaelangelo Antonioni and too difficult for me. The black and white pictures are wonderful, each frame is beautiful, but often the story goes very slow with no dialogue at all. The heroine is Vittoria (Monica Vitti), who has just suffered the break-up of a relationship. When she meets Piero (Delon), a stockbroker, she learns to fall in love again only to find that their worlds are different. What I like about this movie is how they stage the Italian Stock Exchange and to see what the business is like in the 60's.

Un Flic (1972) - I think what stands out from this one is the bank robbery in the beginning of the movie and the helicopter heist which seem very real and believable. Delon plays a cop (=flic) who has an affair with one of the robbers' girlfriend, played by Catherine Deneuve. There are parts in this movie where I can see how clear and blue Alain Delon's eyes are, so I can say the transfer is excellent, despite the grainy end credits.

Traitement de Choc (1973) - This one is a thriller. Annie Girardo plays Hélène Masson, a rich manager who is having a therapy at the Devilers centre. Delon plays the doctor who can make the old become younger and stonger. Hélène feels something is wrong but none believes him until she finds the doctor's terrible secret: take the essence from his young employees who are all illegal workers.

Flic Story (1975) - based on a true story set after the WW2. Paris cop Roger Borniche (Delon) tries to put dangerous criminal Emile Buisson who has escaped from a mental asylum into jail. During the pursuit, Buisson killed 36 people, including his mates who he thinks have betrayed him. This one is very enjoyable and Delon's Borniche reminds me of Lucky Luke, always has a cigarette in his mouth, lit or not; while Buisson who can kill without thinking is a fan of Edith Piaf's songs.

From all 5, my favourites are Plein Soleil and Flic Story, although I have to admit that I also like seeing young Alain Delon as a stockbroker running around in the Stock Exchange building in L'Eclisse.

The Voyage Unplanned

The Voyage Unplanned (1974) is my 3rd Frank Yerby book. I chose it because stories about Resistance interest me. The story is set in 1972.

After watching a play in New York, 54 year-old attorney John Farrow meets Byron Graves, an ex S.O.E. whose life he saved in the Vercors salient in the spring of 1944. This event makes Farrow goes to France to search the news of his long lost fiancée, Simone Levy. Before he leaves, a man from the Federal Narcotics Bureau asks him to look for a man called Albrecht Holtz, a drug dealer, and confirm that Holtz is also Heindrich Kroll, an ex S.S. Lieutenant Colonel who has tortured Simone. Farrow refuses because he has promised Simone not to make a revenge. “Don’t kill. There’s no excuse for it – ever-," said Simone.

Farrow is an American, born in France of a French mother and an American father. His father is a member of American diplomatic corps. In WW2 Farrow is a member of the Resistance, 3rd in command of Réseau Merle, Liaison officer from the O.S.S. to Redoute de Vercors. Shaken by the death of his mistress to save his life in 1943, John, or nicknamed Jean le Fou, wishes to die. “Have you ever seen a man get killed in combat who wanted to die? It’s almost impossible. His body’s instincts defeat his will. And being crazy he becomes invincible.” His world revives when he meets Simone, a Jewish officer of Réseau Merle. Soon they are inseparable, until the day Simone is caught by the S.S. officers and tortured for four whole days until John rescues her, only to have her leave him.

Twenty-eight years later, during his search for Simone, John finally learns the truth about the tragedy which made Simone left him, and also finds a new love in Simone’s little sister.

Frank Yerby gave good details about French Resistance and the story is very engaging. It’s also interesting to learn that ex-Nazis were living in perfect tranquility in Spain.