Wednesday, December 29, 2010

MHZ International Mystery's Interview with Wallander's Krister Henriksson

As you know I love mysteries and especially those great Scandinavian mystery writers so popular today. I'm happy that I discovered the Scandinavian TV series in the 90's, before they became the talk of the town, thanks to the MHz Networks, and I think it's wonderful that the rest of the world is now in love with Nordic Noir.

MHz Worldwide: International Mystery has a new interview with Krister Henriksson who talks about how he became Kurt Wallander and his walk with creator and author Henning Mankell.




To view the Krister Henriksson interview, find out more about the Wallander series (the Swedish version) and MHz's International Mystery click HERE.


Mark your calendars for February 28 at 9:00pm (US EST) for the premiere of the documentary "Lone Wolves and Dragon Tattoos: How Scandinavian Crime Fiction Conquered the World" on MHz Networks.



(Disclaimer: I have no connection to MHz Networks :) only a fan of their international programming)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Voices Part III-Remember the Ladies

So here's the third of my posts about great voices and the actors who possess them. (Is that a strange sentence?).  I've concentrated on the male voice so far because for obvious reasons I'm attracted  to the male voice more, the range and depth and power and beauty and allure.

But as we approach 2011 I want to also start to talk about the contribution of my own gender, the uniqueness and strength and beauty of the female voice.

As a kid I used to watch old movies all the time on TV, what they now call classic films.  Even as long ago as my childhood the movies of the 30's, 40's and 50's were indeed classics and the actors and stars even then legendary.  My favorite actress and star was and is Bette Davis.  A voice so unique that you can't mistake her for anyone else, and even though often imitated by impersonators and comics, there's nothing like the real thing.

Bette Davis in "All About Eve" (1950):



Whether she's the star of the film or TV program, or in a supporting role, for me Maggie Smith is always unforgettable, as is her voice. Sadly I've never seen her on stage. I admire the fact she's never stopped working and loving what she does so well. I have so many favorite Maggie Smith roles, but I'll post the first movie I saw her in, and still a favorite today.

Maggie Smith in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie":



Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

BBC Documentary "Nordic Noir"





For UK viewers BBC Four will be showing a documentary on the popularity of Scandinavian mystery and detective fiction.  The program will feature the works of Henning Mankell (Wallander) and Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

I would truly love to see this documentary since I'm a great fan of Scandinavian mysteries and detective fiction and television shows based on the work of these great writers. I love the complexity of the stories, the flawed yet brilliant protagonists, and the psychological motives behind the crimes. The stories also don't shy away from political and social issues that often transcend national boundaries.

So if you're lucky to be in the UK or be able to see BBC Four tonight, click below for further information:

BBC Nordic Noir

I've posted here before about some of my favorite Scandinavian Mystery TV series we've been lucky enough to see in the US and you can find them at the links below:

http://whiterosewritings.blogspot.com/search/label/International%20Mystery

http://whiterosewritings.blogspot.com/search/label/Varg%20Veum

http://whiterosewritings.blogspot.com/search/label/Mikael%20Persbrandt

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Who is Mikael Persbrandt?


Of course, many people know who Mikael Persbrandt is, but  in a world dominated by Hollywood films, he's not as well known as he should be. But that will change soon.

Today it was announced by New Line Cinema that Mikael Persbrandt will play the shape-shifter Beorn in "The Hobbit". You can read more about his character HERE but beware of spoilers.

I know about Mikael Persbrandt because of the Swedish TV Series " Beck" based on the detective novels by Maj Sjowall and PerWahloo.  I was already a fan of the novels when I became a fan of the series thanks to US Public Television (MHZ International Mystery).  Mr. Persbrandt played Gunvald Larsson,  one of the lead characters and one of great police detective Martin Beck's fellow policemen.

                                              With Peter Haber who plays Martin Beck

Below are a few descriptive sentences about  the character of Gunvald Larsson from the Beck novel "The Man on the Balcony":
" Gunvald Larsson entered the room. Exactly thirty-seven minutes had passed since he had been called up and the taxi receipt was still  in his hand. Since they had last seen him he had shaved and put on a clean shirt...It was some little while before Gunvald Larsson said anything. He busied himself with the tape recorder, the note pad and his pencils. There was no doubt some sort of psychological reason for this, Martin Beck thought as he regarded his colleagues." 
You can click on the link below to see a few scenes of Mikael Persbrandt as Gunvald Larsson. Even if you, like me,can't understand Swedish, you still get an idea of the his performance in the series:



I wish MHZ Networks or other US Public Television stations would show the Beck series again (with subtitles of course), and maybe they will now with all the PR about The Hobbit and the actors involved. 



There's a great interview of Mikael Persbrandt with film expert Michael Jeck that was made for an International Mystery special some years ago, but unfortunately now unavailable. It was a great review of  Mr. Persbrandt's career. But I did find this interview with James Lipton done in more recent times: 





Here's a fun clip of Persbrandt dancing:




Mikael Persbrandt is one more reason to look forward to "The Hobbit" .

Update February 28, 2011:

In a Better World, a Danish-Swedish film starring Mikael Persbrandt won the Best Foreign film Oscar. Read more about the film at the link below:

http://www.thelocal.se/32302/20110228

Watch the trailer HERE.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Interest in William Blake's Birthday

I saw today on Roger Ebert's Blog that it is William Blake's Birthday!

I knew vaguely about William Blake from my college days, but just recently I became interested in finding out more about his work because of this man:


So thanks  to Spooks (MI-5) and the character of Lucas North, played by RICHARD ARMITAGE  now I know more about Blake's work and find his artwork especially interesting:




William Blake (1757-1827) was a fascinating figure and ahead of his time.  Find out more about him HERE.

(photos from RichardArmitageNet)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Films Worth Seeing: Stormy Monday and Windprints



I wrote the post below for another blog I contributed to at one time. I was thinking about it because Sean Bean is currently filming "A Game of Thrones" and he will be playing the role of Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark, a man of honor and justice. Those that only know him from his Hollywood film career as the British Baddie may be wondering if he's ever played a "good guy" before.  Well, he has. That's why I'm reprinting the post below with a few edits:

Early in his film career Sean Bean played the male ingénue in two films he made in the late 80’s: "Windprints" and "Stormy Monday".

"Windprints" (The Killing Wind) 1991 - is a politically charged mystery that took a snapshot in time of the political realities of apartheid in South Africa and Namibia. The film was written and directed by South African director David Wicht. This film is unique because the political story is told through the story of mysterious Nhadiep (Lesley Fong), who may or may not be terrorizing white farmers, and his own people, the Nama. This film is almost impossible to find since it’s not out on DVD and the video is difficult to find. I was lucky to finally see it a couple of years ago when one of the US cable channels showed the film for a few weeks.




Sean plays Afrikaner Anton van Heerden, camera man and journalist conflicted about his role in fighting the injustices in his country. He joins jaded veteran British journalist Charles (John Hurt) to cover the story. I believe the plot was based on a real story, and the mystery and the characters’ lives end in a rather unresolved way, just like real life. Sean’s character, Anton, is the conscience of this film, and he proves his ability to transform himself in a role, South African accent and all.




I have a sentimental connection to the second film, "Stormy Monday", 1988. It was the first time I saw Sean Bean and I've been a fan since that day. I still remember sitting in that small downtown art house movie theater, sadly now a drugstore. I had gone because I was curious to see Sting and Tommy Lee Jones and because I do like the Film Noir genre. I remember the small screen, and the image of the rain, and windshield wipers, and the sounds of modern jazz. Then there he was, looking out a window at Newcastle. It was Sean as young Irishman Brendan, looking for a job in the big city. Jazz lover, he circles an ad for a janitor in a well known club owned by “big man in town” Finney (Sting). Sean Bean barely utters a word in these first scenes, but he controlled the movie from that moment on.



Mike Figgis, who would later direct Oscar winning film "Leaving Las Vegas", directed and wrote this moody film about corruption on both sides of the Atlantic, American cultural and financial power, music as international ambassador,and the power of love. The only one not yet touched by corruption, not yet compromised by money, is Sean’s character of Brendan. He falls in love with Kate (Melanie Griffith) the good time girl of American gangster/businessman Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones). Events take a violent turn as Brendan helps Finney fight the takeover of the nightclub by Cosmo. In the midst of all this, the two lovers, Brendan and Kate, plot their escape from corruption’s clutches. Bean’s character of Brendan is a transformative character in this film, from innocence to revenge.



Both films are two small gems in Sean Bean’s career, and little known by the general public. They are worth seeing.

(pics from compleatseanbean.com,  cultfilm.com,  oldnovocastrian.com, internet.je)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Spooks/MI5 and Lucas North

BBC series Spooks (MI-5 in the US)  recently finished airing  the last episode of Season 9 in the UK.  In the US you can catch old episodes of the series on select PBS (Public Television) stations.

Richard Armitage starred in Series 7, 8, and 9 of Spooks (MI-5) as Lucas North.  Below is a small video to remember this very complex character and the complex actor that played him so well:



They've already announced there will be a 10th season of Spooks next year.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Elementary My Dear




Yikes! I didn't realize it’s been so long since I posted. 

I was lucky enough Sunday night to watch my favorite Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke in a repeat of the old series just before watching the new BBC series “Sherlock” a 21st Century version of the world’s most well known detective.  I hope one day to write about Jeremy Brett and Sherlock Holmes, but today I want to write about the new series and the first episode. 

Usually I’m not a big fan of changing the time period of my favorite books or plays.  I prefer the original.  Even Shakespeare which seems to constantly be modernized only works for me occasionally (“West Side Story”, Kurasawa’s “Throne of Blood” and “Ran”, “Shakespeare Re-told” are a few).

I didn’t buy the modern Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as Conan Doyle’s creation, but I did buy them as an enjoyable addition to Masterpiece Mystery on PBS (U.S. Public Television) and British TV detectives.

As the new Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch is rather sexy . I must confess I’ve seen him in many UK TV productions and though he’s a very good actor, this is the first time I’ve found him sexy.  (Isn’t Benedict Cumberbatch a wonderful British name! Good thing he’s a British actor, if he was here in the US they would have told him to change his name to Ben Batch).   He does a marvelous job of capturing the literary Holmes' hyper activity and arrogance, but makes the character his own by not taking on any of the mannerism of film and TV Sherlock’s we know so well.  I felt this Sherlock comes across as the tortured artist in some way more than the calculating detective. But I liked the fact I couldn’t really compare him with Jeremy Brett’s performance or any other Holmes. This character is very 21st Century, right down to the nicotine patch!



I was most curious about seeing Martin Freeman in the role of Dr. Watson since he’s just been cast as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. I had seen him in “The Old Curiosity Shop” and in brief scenes of The Office, but nothing more before. Movie Star in the making Freeman is a very modern Watson.  Though Cumberbatch’s  character retains most of the Sherlockian canon,  this John Watson is a new creation, both by the scriptwriters and Mr. Freeman.  No buffoon here like some of the earlier movie Watson’s, and no cozy and fatherly Watson like Edward Hardwicke’s portrayal.  This is a Watson who is a man to be reckoned with, a doctor, a soldier, a man’s man in some ways.  Makes a great contrast to the free spirited and uncontrollable Sherlock.   

Greatly enjoyed seeing the always reliable Rupert Graves as DI Lestrade looking very handsomely boyish with gray hair. (If only I looked prettily girlish in mine!  I worship the gods of hair color.)  I also love the scenes with Holmes brother Mycroft who apparently is a member of MI5 or 6! (Calling Harry Pearce!).

Why is it that men can do wonders with those scarves, wrapping them around for such dashing effect?

A great first episode of a new series that I enjoyed so much more than I thought I would.  Look forward to next Sunday and getting to know the new Holmes and Watson a bit more. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bring North & South to PBS - Postcard Campaign from Me&Richard Armitage

I grew up watching Masterpiece Theater - now known as Masterpiece- on American Public Television (PBS). I think it's a wonderful idea for US fans of the great BBC series "North & South" starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe to participate in a postcard campaign to bring this series to PBS and American audiences.

Calling all US Fans of RA & North & South!!!
Another year goes by & still the US doesn’t broadcast North & South
Maybe they don’t know what a ‘masterpiece’ it is. Why not spread the word?
We are searching for fans of North & South & Richard Armitage who have access toPBS to join a postcard campaign.
To read the details of how to participate in this campaign go to Me&Richard Armitage at the link below:

http://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/bring-north-south-to-pbs/

photo from The Art of Clothes Blog


Update: May 4, 2012

Join the Global North & South Rewatch in June 1,2,3 2012
On Twitter and Facebook
For details go to the link below:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More Voices

The second in my series about special voices and how unforgettable some actors are because of it. Below are  a few more examples of this essential of all actor's instrument, and some of my favorites:  Jeremy Irons, Peter O'Toole and Sian Phillips and Gregory Peck.

I fell in love with Jeremy Iron's voice when I first watched "Brideshead Revisited" on American Public Television (PBS).  I still think he has one of the most mesmerizing male voices of all time:




Peter O'Toole, one of my favorite actors of all time and the star of my favorite movie, "Lawrence of Arabia", and  Sian Phillips, wonderful in every role, but especially as Livia in "I, Claudius".   Here the two of them in
" Taming of the Shrew":



There was a time in the movies when handsome men played men of integrity and made us love and admire them for it.  One of the sexiest male voices of all time for me, Gregory Peck, and one of the great movie speeches of all time, in "To Kill a Mockingbird" :



For the previous post on special voices click HERE

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Varg Veum Interview

New interview on International Mystery's Facebook page with Trond Espen Seim about the new Varg Veum series.

Click HERE to go to the Facebook page.

If you're lucky enough to speak Norwegian, or even if you don't - LOL- enjoy the video below:


If anyone sees this post and can translate the video for the rest of us, please leave me a comment and let me know. Would greatly appreciate it friend!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Spotlight on Errol Flynn on TCM August 7

There's still time tonight for those that get Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in the US and elsewhere to watch one of the biggest stars and best swashbucklers of all movie history: Errol Flynn.

See below for the rest of the schedule on August 7:


I've loved Errol Flynn movies from the time I was a small child watching him on my grandmother's living room TV on lazy afternoons.

Watch a bit of Errol Flynn's mastery of the movie swordfight in the video below:


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sad Article - Last Carnegie Hall Tower Resident Moving Out


I was so sad to read this article today about the last elderly residents of Carnegie Hall Towers having to move out to make way for a $200 million dollar renovation and a "new and improved" plan for use of the building. How sad that these artists, many who have lived more than 40 years in the building are now being moved from the home they loved at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives. We really don't appreciate the value and wisdom of age and experience and our debt to those of our parents and grandparents generation. As the article makes clear, we also don't value our architectural heritage either, since some of the renovations will do away with many unique architectural elements of the towers, built in the 1890's by industrialist Andrew Carnegie.
Click HERE to read the entire article.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Skin - YouTube Video - Guy & Marian - BBC's Robin Hood

I love this song, and have been listening to it frequently lately. I've seen several videos on YouTube using this lovely and emotional song by Natalie Merchant, but the version below from HeathDances is my favorite. The music and lyrics go perfectly with the story it tells, though you have to know about the characters involved already, but his is a fan video after all. Check out all her wonderful videos on YouTube:


Friday, July 16, 2010

Thoughts on Varg Veum Week


I've really enjoyed Varg Veum Week on MHZ Networks and we still have tonight and Saturday to come. Aside from viewing the great Veum episodes again, I've truly enjoyed the wonderful interviews at the end with creator/author Gunnar Staalesen. He comes across as a wonderfully engaging man who truly loves his creation and his home city of Bergen.

Also a treat to see how famous and popular Varg Veum is in Norway. So much so that he has his own statue in Bergen near his office at the Strand Hotel. Fascinating to know that the statue was based on the look of three men, Mr. Staalesen (we can see that in the photo above), Trond Espen Seim who currently plays Varg, and *another actor (sorry, didn't catch his name) who portrayed the fictional detective in the theatre. (I know the third actor was a guest star in an episode of Varg Veum, I'll have to find his name.)

I understand that three of the novels have been translated to English so far. I haven't read the novels yet, but I encourage anyone in the US, or anyone who can view MHZ Networks to check out Varg Veum tonight and tomorrow night.

UPDATE: Thanks to some wonderfully helpful and knowledgeable readers (see comments below for more info) I now know that *the actor who played Varg Veum on stage and radio is Bjørn Willberg Andersen click HERE for more information.




Tuesday, July 6, 2010

VEUM


Great news for mystery lovers! MHZNetworks in the US will be showing a full week of the Norwegian detective series Varg Veum from July 12-16. I think I've seen all the episodes of the series so far, but plan to watch them all again.

For those not familiar with the series, Varg Veum is played wonderfully by actor Trond Espen Seim. Trond plays my favorite type of private detective, and I don't mean just because he's tall, blond and I can imagine him in full Viking gear sailing towards me in a longship. I love Varg Veum because he cares. You see Varg used to be a social worker specializing in children and teenagers. He's now a detective and his world view as a former social worker influences his dealings with criminals and victims alike.





But I also love the fact that Varg, like other fictional detectives from this part of the world, is very human. He doesn't always get the girl, or even pick the right girl. He makes mistakes and pays for them. He lets his emotions influence his actions at the wrong moment.


Varg's sometimes ally, sometimes enemy, sometimes competitor, is police Chief Inspector Hamre played by Bjorn Floberg (see photo above). For me the two men play perfectly off each other because Varg is the idealist and Hamre the realist. As you watch the episodes of the series you get the idea the two really respect each other, though they would never admit it.

One additional plus for the series is Bergen. The second largest city in Norway, Bergen is another character in the series as Varg's home and workplace.

The series is based on the crime novels by Norwegian writer Gunnar Staalesen.

To find out more about Varg Veum, to check out the series schedule on MHZ Networks or buy the DVD's click HERE.

Breaking News-ScreenDaily: Second Varg Veum Series for Distribution in August: Click HERE for full article...

The latest film is the first of six new thrillers featuring the Norwegian dectective.

Stefan Faldbakken’s The Writing On The Wall (Skriften På Veggen) will launch the $14.1m (NOK 91m) second series of Varg Veum thrillers when it is released on August 27.

The latest instalment of the franchise, which is based on the best-selling novels by Gunnar Staalesen, follows Veum as he investigates the murder of a judge. Scripted by Thomas Moldestad, it will see Trond Espen Seim (pictured) return in the lead role alongside Bjørn Floberg as his sidekick, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Lene Nystrøm.

Meanwhile, principal photography begins today (July 6) on Two Black Sheep (Svarte Får) and Suburban Death (Dødens drabanter, both of which are being directed by Stephan Apelgren, of Wallander fame.



Sunday, June 20, 2010

They Had Voices Then

...and they still do...

For my own amusement I thought I would start a series of posts on special voices.

One of the instruments of the actor is their voice. However, in recent times - the last 20 years or so - there's been a move towards a more naturalistic style of acting and the public often seems unaware of the great voices we've enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, in our TV and movie screens.

I like to listen to audiobooks sometimes in my car as I commute to work, and also enjoy poetry readings when I'm in the mood. As a member of the audience, I've noticed that even good actors are often not the best at either of these things, or even in making a dull documentary subject interesting. Having a beautiful and special voice that can move an audience, or keep us interested in a long book, or a lovely poem, is a special gift.

My first post features three actors who I love to listen to: Richard Armitage, Sean Bean, and Alan Rickman. Click on the videos below to hear Armitage and Rickman read poetry, and Bean reading the prologue from a wonderful audiobook:










Thank you for reading and listening...more posts about my favorite voices to follow soon...

Update: RichardArmitageOnline.com has a great interview from Naxos Audiobooks with Richard Armitage, He talks about the audiobook he recently recorded, The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer. Armitage discusses the difference between acting on stage or on film and using only your voice. You can hear the interview HERE.

Monday, June 7, 2010

TATORT - Scene of The Crime - My Favorite Police Series




Scene of the Crime, as we know it here in the US, or TATORT, is a very, very, long running (1970-present) German/Austrian/Swiss television series. The series has followed, and features, a large number of detectives in different cities throughout Germany and Austria.




For most of the US however, (thanks to the MHZ Networks) our two Tatort detectives are the intrepid duo from Cologne, Max Ballauf played by Klaus Behrendt, and Freddy Schenk, played by Dietmar Bar. The basic foundation of the partnership is the friendship between the two lead characters. Max, the boss, is the good looking one who can't commit to a woman, or even an apartment, and who often makes decisions based on his emotions rather than his intellect. Freddy is the family man, who is the rotund comic relief of the series, but in an interesting twist, also the more intellectual of the two. They are aided by their very smart Assistant/Girl Friday, Franziska, played by Tessa Mittelstaedt. (I think all women working in a very male dominated environment can relate toFranziska).

We are very lucky that after what seemed like years of repeats, MHZ Networks has now started to show new episodes of Scene of the Crime on select Sunday and Tuesday nights. In the last new episode a madman is killing off Max's old girlfriends and leaving him all kinds of ominous clues and threats. Even worse, Max is taking care of his ailing cousin's young daughter. Of course, Max is incredibly insecure about taking care of children, so family man Freddy comes to the rescue. I won't say more for those that may catch the episode in a repeat showing (believe me, there will be a repeat showing on MHZ). I liked this episode because they explored the psychological consequences of unintended acts while giving us another glimpse of the detectives' personal lives.




Scene of the Crime/Tatort has many elements that will be familiar to viewers of police detective series around the world. What gives it a different and special twist to me is that the series deals with the grey areas in life, both good and bad people are flawed human beings, and the detectives are not always smart and invincible.

If you love mysteries and police dramas, hope you get a chance to see Scene of the Crime.





Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Making Movies - Directors on Directing






























The Movie Business



Selecting the Right Cast




From Idea to Production



How to get your Film into Theaters

Thank you to YouTube - Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

SUITCASES

I was thinking this week of saying goodbye to the suitcases. Four suitcases that have followed me all my life, I don’t remember a moment of life without them. Am I afraid and guilty of thinking I should let them go? Yes, afraid and guilty and heartbroken.

They are very big. So big in fact that only one set fits in the closet. The other I have moved from room to room and wall to wall. I’ve stacked them on top of one another, or leaned them against a closet wall. I haven’t opened them in years and now look at them and wonder what I’ll find inside, or whether they are empty. They weigh so much it’s hard to tell.

You see my mother bought the two sets of luggage before I was born, or shortly thereafter. At the time I’m sure they were very stylish, she would buy nothing less. She bought them at a time when there were porters everywhere and a lady never expected to carry more than her purse. For decades we traveled with them, me with the red and her with the blue. Then one day we packed them up with all our hopes and fears and brought them with us to our new country from the old.

When we next traveled together we didn’t take them with us any longer. We both bought newer luggage, narrower and with wheels. Stylish of course, my mother and I would buy nothing less. We rolled them through airports and train stations on our own travel adventures, together and alone.

Yet the old suitcases were always home waiting for us and moving with us from country to country, and home to home. Large and amazingly square one set sits in a corner of the room, hoping I will pack them up again and take them to some exotic place. Will I or will I let them go on a new adventure without me?

If my mother is watching me from “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns” I hope she knows I’m saying goodbye to the suitcases but not our memories.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"Up in the Air" and George Clooney - Recession Tales from a Road Warrior

 

I saw "Up in the Air" recently and it brought back many memories. Some memories were of the days when I used to travel a bit for my job.  This was before September 11, so I didn't have to take my shoes off, but I do remember running like an Olympic track athlete to make my connection so I wouldn't miss my flight and be late for a meeting across the country or sometimes across the world.   I haven't been a "road warrior" for quite a while now, but I remember the nightmare of my suitcase spilling over in the middle of an airport, of a wheel coming off as I ran for that gate,  of struggling to stash my bag in the baggage compartment when someone had filled it with their holiday purchases...oh yes, memories.  Like George Clooney's character, once in a while, in my now grounded life, I miss those days.  I miss the chocolate on my hotel pillow, I miss discovering a restaurant in a different city on per diem,  and I miss the camaraderie of my work colleagues at some conference or other.  

But it also brought back memories of being laid off.  I've been laid off once, and almost laid off  a few times after that when my workplace ceased to exist. (I jumped ship before the guillotine came down.)  My first memory of it is as fresh as if it happened yesterday.  We should have seen it coming, since of our three departments we were down to one after layoffs a year before.  But still we believed the head office when they said we were safe.  You see it was my first "real job" out of college, and I had grown after a few years to care for my co-workers as my extended family.   I still remember picking up the phone after the intercom buzz  on a Valentine's Day and hearing my boss say he wanted everyone in his office now.  As those of us left filed in and sat on his large couch and assorted chairs he leaned back in his chair and said "It's over".  We all stared at each other and silently shared our thoughts "what does he mean it's over?".  He continued in a rather "matter of fact" way to say he had just gotten a call from HQ that we were closing down, and that soon we would all get a letter letting us know of our 30 day notice and when it would be our last day. (We were in another recession and Congress had passed a law saying if your place of employment closed its doors, they had to give you 30 days notice).  We all filed out, sad and angry we had been so gullible to believe what we were being told.  I remember one of  the women had just quit her job elsewhere to work there, and had only been there a few months.  They had to know when they hired her.   We were too small to have a Ryan Bingham (perfectly played by George Clooney) do the dirty deed, or maybe in those days employers did their own firing and layoffs.  I remember after a month of  packing away files walking out to my car at the end of that day, alone with my box of belongings.  All I had left after many years of dedication and work was a box that stayed for ages in the trunk of my car.  After that day I have never trusted what anyone says about being safe, but only trusted my own "fight-or-flight" instincts. 

So for all of you that have had those work life experiences, and even more for those that haven't, go see this movie. I really liked "Up in the Air" because in many ways it was an unexpected film.  There is also a lot of good acting in this film, not just from star Clooney, but from all the people playing and mirroring all of us out in the workforce who know an unwanted change in our life is only an email, or Webcast, away.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Murder in the North - The New York Review of Books-Red Riding Trilogy



See link above for a very interesting article about the Red Riding Trilogy. Caution for those that haven't seen the films, or read the books, there are spoilers.  But as the review says, all three films are very complex and even after seeing them, and no matter how much you read about them, there are still more questions than answers.

I've seen all three films on DVD, but look forward to seeing them on the big screen in the US sometime in February. (The films open in New York on February 5 and then at selected theaters nationwide.)  There are some wonderful performances in this film, from a fantastic cast, the main characters, to minor roles. The films are not easy to watch for even the "good guys" are flawed.  Though I didn't have any problem with the Yorkshire accents (lots of listening practice for me), I can understand how it may be difficult for US audiences and I hope this does not drive lazy audiences away because it is well worth the effort to listen.  I see them as three separate films, very different stylistically, but seen together one of the most powerful cinematic experiences I've had in a long time.  For me 1974 and 1983 are part one and two of the same film, and 1980 is a  stand alone story, but that still deals with the events we first encounter in the first film (1974). Beware also that these films are not for sensitive souls or those that prefer to be taken away to a fantasy CGI world. 

Living in a high crime area in a major city , I relate to the feeling of mass fear that can grip a city or an area, and not only because of Yorkshire Ripper type crimes.  Having experienced that mass fear, even as recently as eight or nine years ago, I applaud the three directors and the script writer for so excellently capturing that atmosphere and the impact on every day life for so many even with no connection to the victims.  I've seen other films on TV and the big screen that have tried to capture this fear, but for me either are too sensationalistic or too cavalier about the long lasting effects of horrific crimes. Not so Red Riding Trilogy.

If you are in the US watch for IFC Films and Red Riding in your area after February 5 or through your cable television provider.
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