Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
There is nothing new in the story, which is based on a true story happened in the late 18th century. However, the locations, set designs and costumes are wonderful. This movie is beautiful. Ralph Fiennes is very good as the Duke: a man who has a strange way to express his love. He does whatever he wants to do and doesn't care about what others may think - except that he doesn't want to be a cuckold. The only actor/actress I like among the cast is Charlotte Rampling, though, who plays Georgiana's mother. 'Never mind what your husband do. He is very influencial and rich. I'm proud that he is my son-in-law. We women are destined to suffer.' -that must be the way she thinks.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The series is divided into 6 episodes, starts when young King Edward, son of King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, dies and is replaced by Mary, the daughter of Katherine of Aragon. Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, is sent to the tower, but after Queen Mary's death, she becomes the Queen. The life of Elizabeth is always interesting: her fondness of the Earl of Leicester, her rivalry with Mary Queen of Scots, how the parliament tries to make her to marry, but when she finds the right man (perhaps), they tries to prevent her.
My favourite episode is 'Horrible Conspiracies' because in my opinion, no fiction's writer can create complicated intrigues like those really happened, especially when it involved a master spy like Francis Walsingham! I am also fascinated by the story of Mary Stuart: how friends betrayed her and how traitors became double-traitors, including her own husband Henry Lord Darnley.
Today I finished Death du jour. The center character is a forensic anthropologist named Temperance Brennan, who is based on 2 countries: Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, where she teaches in a university; and in Montreal, Canada, where she works in a laboratory. She has been separated from her husband, and has a daughter (who studies in a university) and a cat. In this book we can read details about the examination on the bones of victims, the areas she visits, and even a thorough discussion about larvae.
The book begins with how Brennan tries to find an old tomb of a santa in a convent. One of the nuns there will later ask her to help in finding her niece, who happens to be an assistant of a professor who has examined the era when the santa once lived. Meanwhile, the police finds five bodies in a burnt house, two of them babies. The investigation will lead to a sect which its members are live in isolated farm in St Helena.
The book is not bad, but I am not interested in a story about sects, and I am disappointed that there is no connection between the murders and the santa.
Monday, January 19, 2009
The hero is Ariston, a handsome Spartiate (they say he is as beautiful as Dionysus) , who is only 17 when the novel begins. As hinted by the title, his life is a tragedy. He is caught by the Perioeci (the Dwellers Round, who are freemen, but the Spartans treat them almost like slaves.). A girl helps him to run away. The girl will later die horribly. Ariston cannot stop blaming himself and since then it seems he will never be happy. He also believes he is the cause of his father and mother's deaths. He then goes to the war against the Athenians, gets caught, and is sold to a bathhouse as a slave. Ariston is only free from the bathhouse when one of the richest men in Athens adopts him to replace his dead son. To be able to keep his promise to marry an Athenian citizeness, Ariston will go again to a war against the Spartans.
There are also ancient Greece real characters like: Socrates, Euripides, Plato (not much mentioned here), Critias, Sophocles, Alcibiades...
Ariston's love story with Cleothera, a slave from Massalia (=Marseille) is very moving. He has bought her for his friend without seeing her first, so when he does, it is too late. Plus, he has a promise to marry another girl, who in fact doesn't love him and vice versa. When he can keep Cleothera as her mistress, his wife drives her away. When he meets her again four years later, she has been with another man.
Interesting to note that when Ariston goes to war against the Spartans in order to gain his Athenian citizenship, it is mentioned that in that time King Darius the Great rules Persia. I believe this is the same King Darius mentioned in the Book of Daniel.
From all Frank Yerby I've read, Goat Song is one of the bests. My other favourites are: The Saracen Blade and The Odor of Sanctity.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The center character is Carlo di Vanelli (Ruggero Raimondi), a successful opera singer. His personal life is not too successful like his career. His wife wants to leave him because she has had enough - his current mistress, a music teacher, is living under the same roof: the foundation belongs to di Vanelli. His eldest son hasn't spoken to him for a long time. An old acquaintance, François Dubreuil, a businessman, wants to take di Vanelli's most precious thing: his foundation. In the past, di Vanelli won the heart of the woman they both loved: Esther Manet, a soprano. Di Vanelli writes an opera for Esther, called Le sanglot des anges (=The Sob of Angels). He dreams to be able to have it performed one day. The problem is, half of the work is in Dubreil's hand, late Esther's husband.
As soon as di Vanelli's wife, Eléonore, has an affair with a man she just met, the plot gets more interesting. Side characters are quite good, like: Angelo (di Vanelli's son who paints the same mysterious woman's face, a woman whom he has never met), Marlène (di Vanelli's agent who flirts with the inspector who takes the murder case, which at first di Vanelli is a suspect - this inspector always grins all the time, gives an impression that he is not serious with his job.), Gilou (the faithful barman), Diane (a soprano who has the same voice as Esther and has been looking for a chance to meet di Vanelli for an audition).
The ending is predictable, nevertheless this is an enjoyable show.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Set in 18th century, the Jesuit missionaries, lead by Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) christianize the Guarani Indians in the South America jungle, which at that time is the teritory of the Spain. He is helped by Rodrigo Mendoza (Robert De Niro), an ex-mercenary, who is seeking redemption after murdering his own brother. With the Treaty of Madrid in 1750, the missionary is now handed over to the Portuguese colonial, who want to enslave the Indians. The Jesuits are ordered to leave by the Vatican, but refuse. The Cardinal visits the place and sees with his own eyes that the mission actually has an excellent progress. However, he cannot do anything to defend them against the greedy colonialists. The mission is finally destroyed by the Spanish and Portuguese forces.
Starring by the real Sicilian fishermen, this movie focused on the Valestro family in the Aci Trezza village. The fishermen work hard, but the money they bring home is hardly enough. Last night's work is for today's food, and tonight's is for tomorrow's. The wholesalers force them to sell their fish cheap. A young man, Ntoni Valestro, believes that they can get out of this poor life. "He has serviced military in the mainland and learnt about injustice," says his brother Cola, when the old generation wonders why the young just can't accept the life as it is: "The poor is always poor". Ntoni mortgages the family house, buys the boat, and plan to sell the fish to Catania directly. It sounds easy, but in one stormy night, the boat is destroyed. With the loss of the boat, the Valestro family lost every thing and in hunger they must place themselves back into the merciful hand of the wholesalers.
I somehow scratched my head when the Valestros think they are rich after the mortgage of the house. The heap of cash has made them forget that they have to pay the bank back. People around them also think the same. Nicola, the house-builder, knows that he is now too poor to marry Ntoni's sister Mara whom he loves.
After the loss of the boat, the Valestros are out of job. It seems never-ending troubles come to them then. None will hire Ntoni (probably afraid of the wholesalers), his girlfriend is gone, Cola runs away (probably to America), the grandfather falls ill, her sister Lucia becomes an officer's mistress, Mara has lost her better opportunity to marry, and the family house is confiscated. The movie ends with sort-of happy ending, as Ntoni has to swallow his pride and asks the wholesalers to hire him again.
The language used in this movie is the Sicilian dialect, which underlines the sense of poverty.
The beautiful Giovanna is unhappy with her marriage with the fat, dirty, but rich Bragana in Ferrara. Enters Gino, a handsome tramp, who works temporarily for Bragana. Giovanna and Gino fall in love to each other and plan to murder the husband. The police have their suspicion, and the guilt after makes both Gino and Giovanna realize that life is not as beautiful as they have dreamed.
Giovanna marries Bragana because she wants a home. Gino is a tramp who cannot easily stay in one place for a long time. She refuses when he asks her to go away with him, to leave the husband she hates. Love is one thing, but Giovanna sees the reality of life. She cannot leave her comfortable home. She cannot live like Gino. After the murder, Gino has to stay with her and this makes him miserable. When she tells him that Bragana has a life insurance, Gino thinks that she has drawn him into the mess, and now he has blood in his hands. [This is very interesting, especially after watching new movies where people seem to kill without blinking.] He reconciles with her, after she told him that she is pregnant his child. With the police in tail, she finally agrees to leave with Gino, but they have a car accident.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Anna Magnani as Maddalena is excellent. I like her here better than in Rome, Open City (1945). Maddalena is so real and reminds me of obsessive mothers who want their kids to be the best, get the first rank in class, etc. The little girl is also very good. She is very cute and I prefer her with long plaits. She looks innocent in the beginning of the movie, and very polished in the end with the curls and the ballet gown. Gastone Renzelli, who plays Maddalena's husband Spartaco, was not a professional actor and discovered at a slaughterhouse in Rome. There is also Walter Chiari, who was the most sought after actor in Italy at that time.