Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Movie Review: Breaking Glass (1980)

Watching Breaking Glass (1980) was a weird experience for me because I knew who the main star, Hazel O'Connor, was (and had even met her!) and also knew the soundtrack by heart -- but didn't know anything about the movie. If I had, I probably wouldn't have watched it right before bed.

The movie follows the rise and fall of Kate (O'Connor) and her band. It takes place during a period of extreme political and social unrest in Britain. Breaking Glass can be gritty and violent in places. Since I was born two years after the film was released, I have to rely on Jay to tell me if pubs full of people shouting "Sieg heil!" and attacking the band was normal at the time. He says, unfortunately, it was.


Hazel O'Connor's Kate is every bit as aggressive and in-your-face as the rest of the film. In short, she's kinda scary but, you know, it was the Eighties...

Kate's journey from idealistic nobody to broken pop star is a rocky ride. Her band is a motley assorment of people (the saxaphonist, for instance, is almost completely deaf) who can't seem to get noticed by anyone in the music industry. When they eventually do -- thanks in part to the determination (and dodgy tactics) of Phil Daniels's Danny -- tragedy strikes.

After watching a teenager die at a (kind of failed) music festival, Kate slips into a deep depression that she can't pull herself out of. Meanwhile, the record company starts manipulating the band so that the members turn against their manager, Danny, and each other. Though the band keeps gaining popularity, they find it harder and harder to go on. Until they don't.

Don't expect a happy ending from this one. It finishes on such a downer that I suggest you have chocolates and puppies standing by.

I suppose it won't surprise you to learn that Jay and I don't see eye-to-eye on Breaking Glass. (Do we ever?) Here's why: when the band's producer starts showing interest in Kate, Danny (who, apparently, is dating Kate -- though that's not clear) becomes abusive. Well, I see his character as abusive...

Jay sees Danny as the wronged boyfriend. He says that Kate was "blinded by the bright lights" and let herself get used. For him, it's a failed romance. Hmm.

After filming finishes on her first music video, the producer approaches Kate to tell her that she did a good job and Danny cuts in, suggesting she puts a coat on. Doesn't want another man looking at her? Abusive. Later, when they're alone, he says, "You were terrible." When she tells him she is who she is, he replies with "not what you were." Constantly putting her down? Abusive.

Kate's reply here is perfect: "You look up to me as an idol, then you cut me down." Sums up being a woman pretty well, right?

Anyway, Danny starts acting like a world-class jerk. He's lost control of the band, and Kate, and he doesn't like it. That's nothing to do with romance; that's power. There's a scene where Danny storms up to Kate after a gig, demanding that she return to the stage for an encore. He shouts at her, towering over here where she sits, jabbing a finger at her. All a power play.

Sorry, hun, this ain't no romance.

I guess it sounds like I'm coming down pretty hard on the movie. I don't dislike it, honestly, but it's not the kind of thing I would have watched without Jay. The plot (good musician struggles to make a career of it, then cracks when they make it) has been done a million times before and the punk thing makes it feel old, but it isn't particularly hard to watch. As much as I love the soundtrack (and I really do), I doubt I'd ever bother with Breaking Glass again.

Have you seen it? Let me know what you thought.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Movie Review: Orca (1977)

Today, we're going to be talking about the seventh movie I've chosen to tackle on my list of 100 Classic Must-See Movies (That I've Somehow Never Seen) and the one I've liked the least. Let's be honest, I hated this movie.

Jay called Orca "the whale equivalent of Jaws." Jaws did well, he said, "so let's make whales scary." He continued with, "wales are worse killers than sharks, you know, but because you see them at Sea World, everyone just thinks, 'Oh, how cute.'"

Orca doesn't feel like a horror movie at first. It feels more like a nature documentary, even after it switches from shots of the whales to a classroom lecture on the animals. I don't know how much of the lecture is accurate but it's clear that the professor, Charlotte Rampling's Rachel Bedford loves (damn near worships) the animals.

It took almost no time for me to decide that I hate Orca. Early in the film, Richard Harris's Captain Nolan decide's he's going to catch an orca and sell it to a zoo as a get-rich-quick scheme. (He's been killing sharks up to this point.) So, he tries to catch an orca.

With a harpoon.

Does it go well? About as well as catching a whale with a harpoon could possibly go.

I was done with this movie the moment the whale started screaming. Yes, screaming. Done. When she tried to kill herself by throwing herself into the ship's propeller, I was ready to throw something at the television. When she aborted her calf onto the deck of the ship? I wanted everyone associated with the film to stop by so I could punch them right in their stupid faces.

It's pretty obvious that I don't do well with animals getting injured but, really, the whole thing was painfully gratuitous and disgusting. It went too far.

Jay argued that "it had to be that bad." He said that it was necessary for that part of the film to be "graphically unpleasant" so you understand what drives the whale but I was thoroughly traumatised.

This was about the time I reached for the remote. Jay had to assure me (several times) that no more animals would be harmed (only humans) before I would put it back on. Boy, I really didn't want to.

And, yet...

If you're not familiar with the movie (and, for your sake, I hope you're not), the other whales mourn the female's death, then her mate beaches her as a warning. The shark in Jaws is just an evil fucker; this whale just lost his woman and child. He wants revenge and he's going to torment the whole damned town until he gets it.

Here's the thing: I wanted him to get revenge. There wasn't a single moment of the film when I was rooting for the humans. Nolan was completely unlikable in every way -- which is pretty hard to say, since he's DUMBLEDORE, and all. In Orca, though, I freaking hated him and wanted to kill him myself.

Nolan wasn't just greedy, he was also as ignorant as they come. He set out to catch a whale, without any plan for bringing her back safely. He didn't know the first thing about whales and had no interest in learning about them. Worse than that, he took no responsibility for his actions.

Captain Nolan's wife and unborn child died long before the start of the film. It's obvious that they wanted to try to draw parallels between their deaths and the death of the female whale and her calf but... 1. Nolan's wife's death was an accident; the whale's wasn't. There was nothing accidental about that. 2. Nolan expresses disgust when he sees the fetus (to the point of freaking out) but he has no compassion toward the calf's dying mother. If the makers of the film wanted his wife/child's deaths to be meaningful, they really screwed up.

If you think I'm overreacting about the deaths of some animals (fuck you), let's look at the human lives he screwed up. Nolan's crew paid the price for his ignorance. The men all died and Bo Derek's Annie was left maimed. Sure, Nolan bought it too but he had it coming.

It's interesting to note that Annie and Rachel, always portrayed as smarter than their male counterparts, were the only characters to show any compassion toward the whales. The men were matter-of-fact, callous or indifferent, while the film's women were its conscious.

Even when Nolan supposedly grows as a character, it's uneblieveable. He says of the whale, "He loved his family  more than I loved mine," showing that he understands that the orca is a better man than he is. I know you're supposed to feel sympathy for him but... nope. Sorry (not sorry.) Too late.

There was one thing that I like about Orca. Will Sampson (from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) made an appearance. I did a little squeal of delight when I saw him, then went back to scowling angrily at the screen.

I think that's really all I have to say about this one. Next time, an action flick.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Spring 2018 Bucket List

The day I started this list, it started snowing. Well played, Nature. Well played.

It might be a few weeks before it really feels like Spring but that's okay. I'm ready with this bucket list of ways to enjoy the season!

1. Make (and throw!) wildflower seed bombs. Jay and I have been talking about doing this for a couple of years now so I really hope this is the spring it happens. With the world's bees struggling so badly, it seems a crime not to get as many wildflowers out there as possible.
2. Visit a garden. We're not devoted gardeners, here at Castle Vanian, so it can be easy to miss out on some of the more exotic flowers around this time of year. The National Botanic Gardens of Wales isn't that far away, though, so here's hoping that I can convince Jay to take me.
✅3. Spend time in my garden. I do have a garden. Ish. Kind of? There's a plot of land outside my house that is sometimes home to living things. I would like for those living things to be more aesthetically pleasing, if possible. Trouble is, heat plus sun equals migraine for Wondra, while bending plus lifting equals crippling back pain for Jay, so this can be tricky.
4. Stop and smell the flowers. Do you make time to stop and smell the flowers? We're always rushing about, for one reason or another, and sometimes we forget to make time to enjoy nature. Let's all remember to stop and smell the flowers this spring!
5. Pick flowers/get a bouquet/buy myself a bouquet. Basically, what I'm saying here is that my house needs some cheering up! I know a lot of people say that flowers are prettier in nature (and they are) but I don't spend a lot of time outside my house so, if I want to enjoy the beauty of spring, sometimes I have to bring it indoors.
6. Make flower art. I especially love the idea of trying out watercolour, which I've never used before. This could go badly, though. If that fails, something like this could be fun.
7. Photograph the flowers. This will be a lot easier if I can visit a garden! I've also been wanting to do a photo shoot using cherry blossoms. They're never around long enough, so this'll be a race against time. There are always plenty of daffodils about, though, so I'll definitely try to get some of those. Oooh... and the bluebell fields. I'm actually getting excited about this one.
✅8. Watch a tree grow its leaves. One of my favourite parts of spring is getting to watch teeny tiny dots of green blossom into proper leaves. It really is a kind of magic. One year, I'm going to find a tree and photograph its leaves as it grows. Maybe this year? We'll see.

9. Enjoy a long walk. I've spent the whole year so far stuck in the house -- partly because of my Anxiety/Depression and partly because of a poorly pup -- so I could really do with some time to reconnect with nature.
10. Feed the birds & ducks. This is something we usually do anyway, but it deserves a spot here. I also want to start a log of the birds we see and where.
11. Make my own bird feeder. Have you ever tried this? Our neighbours have a TON of bird feeders but we have just one in our garden. Of course, we did have two more but the wind in the valleys is cah-razy so... you see why making my own would be smart? (There's a chance our old ones now reside in Oz.)
12. Make a birdhouse and/or bee hotel. I never made a birdhouse as a kid. Did you? What about bee/insect hotel? I want to try both. Problem with the bee hotel is that Jay is allergic to wasps. So, yeah... making it, good, putting it too close to the house, possible death. Hmm...

13. Photograph a rainbow/the clouds. I'm totally a rainbow-chaser. Poor Jay has to stop all the time to let me take photos of rainbows. I never seem to have a "real" camera on me, though, so that's the goal. Get a proper photo of a rainbow and maybe some stunning clouds.
14. Jump in a puddle/play in the rain. Shouldn't be too hard, since it never stops raining! Seriously, though, I need to stop grumbling about the weather and try to enjoy it.
15. Go to the zoo. It's been a long time since we've been to the zoo. I'd especially love to visit one of the zoos we've never been to, like Dudley Zoo.
16. Visit a castle or museum. Most of the castles around are only open during the spring and summer so it's time to go a'visiting. Jay's mom always promised to take me to St. Fagans National Museum of History but we never made it. Maybe I can get Jay to take me instead?
✅17. Celebrate Pancake Day (13th Feb). That's PΔ…czki Day to you lucky 'ganders. Yeah, we don't get those here. *sniff* Instead, we get pancakes. Except...
✅18. Make British-style pancakes. British pancakes are more like crΓͺpes than pancakes. I've successfully made them all of once in the time that I've been here. (I mean, I'm dangerous in the kitchen, anyway...) Traditional toppings include fruit, raisins, sugar, and honey. Ya roll 'em up (or fold them up,) and eat loads.

✅19. Celebrate Easter & Ostara (1st April/20th Mar). We're a multi-faith house so there are plenty of holidays to go around. Ostara is usually a quiet time for me, while we do the more traditional stuff for Easter. (Jay would never give up his Easter celebrations. He's agnostic but was raised in a Christian house.)
20. Dig into an Easter basket. I have a dream... Did you know the Brits don't do Easter baskets? Lame. I don't care how many chocolate eggs you get, it's never the same! I've probably dropped a million hints about Easter baskets but Jay remains clueless.
✅21. Nom on an chocolate egg/bunny. It's not that I have anything against chocolate eggs, of course. Mine last AGES, luckily, because I'm a nibbler -- as long as I can hide them from the hubs! πŸ˜‰
✅22. Decorate eggs. Here's my problem: our eggs are brown. I've never seen an egg here that was anything else. How the heck are you supposed to decorate those? No, seriously... leave a suggestion.
23. Bake bread. You know, I could probably count the number of times I've baked bread on one hand. It's a traditional way to celebrate Ostara, though, so I really want to have another go.
24. Play with a bunny. No more small animals allowed in Castle Vanian (Blod sees them as snacks) but I'm dying to play with a bunny. I can see myself getting kicked out of a pet store this spring...
25. See a bunny in the wild. There's a field nearby where lots of bunnies live. We make a game of counting how many we see (if any) as we go by.
26. Make Easter/Ostara arts & crafts. There are so many Easter/Ostara crafts I want to try! Wanna see some of them? Off to Pinterest you go...

✅27. Celebrate National Poetry Month (April). It's really an American thing that doesn't get much attention here but I try to get involved each year.
✅28. Read/write poetry. Especially read. It's been ages since I've read any poetry. I would like to read more modern poets; I just don't know where to start. I'm open to suggestions!
29. Make a magnetic poetry kit. I did this once before (and still have it) but I've got a stack of old magazines waiting to be re-purposed so let's do it again!
✅30. Make blackout poetry. I recently finished my first book of blackout poetry and can't wait to start the next one. It's a fun way of creating poetry without the pressure of creating poetry.
31. Learn a new poetry form. I know a few styles of poems but I really need to branch out and learn something new.
✅32. Celebrate St. David's Day (1st Mar). Okay, so St. David is the patron saint of Wales. Traditional ways to celebrate St. David's Day involve daffodils, Welsh cakes, and...
33. Wear traditional Welsh dress on St. David's Day. I've been wanting to do this since I moved here but my husband is a great big spoil sport. What do you say? Should I do it anyway? (Or, maybe I should just go for a dragon instead?)
✅34. Celebrate Beltane/May Day (1st May). If you don't know much about Beltane, that's okay. All you really need to know is that it's sexy time for witches. It's also a fire festival and jumping over a bonfire is traditional -- but thinking of me having sexy time might be less traumatic than picturing me anywhere near a bonfire much less leaping over one. πŸ˜‰ May Day is pretty much the same thing, to be honest, but Wondras are inclusive. 😁
35. Make a maypole. The maypole has got to be one of the best parts of Beltane. (Except for, you know, the sexy time. Lol.) There are some really great ways of making mini-maypoles. I think this is my favourite.

✅36. Celebrate the amazing moms in my life (13th May). Mother's Day is a pretty sad day at Castle Vanian. (Well, except for Blodwyn, who always gets a treat.) This year, I want to stop feeling sad that neither Jay nor I have our moms around. Instead, I'm going to focus on the moms who are in my life, doing awesome mom-stuff.
37. Do something nice for Jay in memory of his mom. I actually have a couple of projects in action but I don't want to spoil anything so I'll tell you about it later...
38. Make a wind chime. As you can see from this Pinterest board, I've been thinking about this for a long time. My grandmother had this window between her dining room and kitchen that was just loaded with wind chimes. They never made any noise (If they had, I would have been out of there -- that place was totally haunted!) but they were beautiful to look at.
39. Make a fairy garden. I've been seeing other people's fairy gardens a lot lately and I'm absolutely in love. I didn't think it would be possible (seriously, my garden is that bad) but I found some great tutorials on making them in planters and things so this can finally happen.
✅40. Get some spring cleaning done. And by "some" I mean BUTTLOADS. Buttloads.
41. Bake cupcakes. Do we need an excuse for cupcakes? Oh, look! Spring's here, let's have cupcakes!
42. Paint rocks. I fell in love with this idea when one of my friends told me that painting rocks and leaving them around for other people to find is a thing. I just need to get my hands on some good rocks...
43. Get crafty. My craft corner needs a serious purge so I'm going to try to craft through as many of my supplies as possible. You know... so I can buy more!
44. Perform random acts of kindness. This will always be on my bucket list. The world is a nasty place right now, full of horrible people doing horrible things. That means the rest of us have to work twice as hard to make up for it.
45. Cross something off my bucket list. Er... my official bucket list, not my seasonal bucket list. Huh. I guess I'm kind of obsessed with lists.

Wow. That's a lot of stuff!

Spring is a really hard time for me. My Depression and Anxiety are really bad this time of the year, especially during April and May so I'm going to need a little encouragement to stay on top of things. Keep me focused, y'all.

Movie Review: Ghost Story (1981)

Ghost Story (1981), staring Alice Krige, Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and John Houseman, surprised me. I was expecting a hokey, old film and got a brilliant adaptation of a Straub novel. Good thing these gems keep popping up... I'd hate for my list of 100 Classic Must-See Movies (That I've Somehow Never Seen) to be dominated by movies like Caddyshack.

Peter Straub's Ghost Story was published in 1979 and the film adaptation of the best-selling novel came just two years later. Like the book, the movie focuses on a group of old men who call themselves the "Chowder Society" (minus one of the novel's protagonists, for whatever reason.) Ricky Hawthorne (Astaire), John Jaffrey (Douglas), Edward Wanderley (Fairbanks), and Sears James (Houseman) gather at night to tell one another scary stories. They are the wealthy, the powerful, the pillars of their community -- and they all share the same dark secret.

The pacing in Ghost Story is great. You don't get all of the information at once. All you know, as the movie starts, is that the old men are plagued by nightmares and something nasty is after David (Edward Wanderley's "successful" son.) I was impressed with David's opening (and, er, ending) scene because I wasn't expecting anything quite so nasty from what I assumed would be a rather stuffy film.

The special effects are pretty gruesome (in a typically 80s way) and they get worse as the movie goes on. I didn't get the connection between the ghost (Eva) tormenting Wanderley's twin sons and the Chowder Society at first. Then, the old men start buying it. The links are subtle, and not too in-your-face, which is a nice break from a lot of the horror films I've seen recently.

I love that you don't get to see the ghost's face until you already know who it is. Her face is always obstructed, or blurred, which helps build suspense. Even in the old photo Wanderley's son finds of the Chowder Society with a mysterious woman, her face can't be seen clearly. Ghost Story doesn't necessarily hide anything but it doesn't give you everything straight away, either.

Do I have any sympathy for the old men? The rich, old, white men who clearly hold all the power in the town. Hmm...


They get every single thing that's coming to them. Ghost Story isn't a movie about a haunting; it's a movie about revenge.

What Ghost Story teaches us is that it's a mistake to think that old means cute and harmless. Our sins stay with us, no matter what else we achieve or how far we think we've buried them in the past.

The score to Ghost Story helps add to the tension. It's strong, powerful music that successfully uses stings at the most exciting moments. You can also hear howling wind in several scenes, which is effortlessly atmospheric. There are also other noises all through the film (creaks, groans, etc.) that leave you wondering what is there and what isn't. The most powerful sound in the film, though, is Eva's laugh. That's some creepy shit.

It's interesting to note that the wives of the Chowder Society's members are clucky but mostly inconsequential. They're present, fussing over the old men, but don't have any real importance. A woman the old men haven't seen in over thirty years still gives them nightmares -- has more power over them than their own wives.

I mentioned the the wives fuss over the men quite a bit. The wives practically treat the husbands as invalids. This is interesting because these men, who ruined one woman's life because of their need to exert dominance -- and who all but rule the town they live in -- are married to women who see them as something inferior, despite their social standing.

The subplot of Ghost Story is all about power and position. If you can watch this one without a healthy dose of rage at inherent male privilege, you're part of the problem.

It's pretty obvious that I'm a fan of Ghost Story but it is flawed in a couple of big ways. I had unanswered questions -- like how did Eva come back and why now? If these questions had been addressed, though, it might just have been the perfect (forgive me one bad pun) ghost story. Even as it is, though, it's a must-watch film.

If you've seen Ghost Story (or, even better, if you've seen it because of this review), please get in touch and let me know your thoughts. Do you agree with my anger at the Chowder Society? Do you think they deserved their fates? Did you jump like a wuss at any point? I'm not saying I did, or anything... (I did.)

Next time, a movie that I absolutely hated.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Movies Still to Come in 2018 (That I'm Way Too Excited About)


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I do't care if they make a hundred sequels/reboots/whatever. I'll never get tired of these.


Yeah, okay, it's basically Towering Inferno with the Rock but I don't care. I'm excited for Skyscraper anyway.

I love the Mission Impossible movies. I don't care how many they make, I'll keep watching them!

Ant-Man and the Wasp. Ant-Man is a totally overlooked and underappreciated franchise. I'm excited to see the Wasp in action (finally.)

Is it wrong that the trailer for Hotel Transylvania 3 trailer makes me laugh so hard?


The trailer for The Meg is off it. I can't wait for this one!


The Nun. Fucking hell. Even the trailer made me cover my eyes!


Another Halloween movie? More Jamie Lee Curtis? Yes, please!

Venom. I'm gonna need a moment to hyperventilate. Whoa.


The Harry Potter series will never lose its magic. The Crimes of Grindelwald promises to be just as exciting as the first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.


When are we going to get an Aquaman trailer?! Hurry, please!

OMG! I can't believe they made Mortal Engines into a movie! It's such a clever book I can't wait to see what Jackson does with it!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Movie Review: The Man Who Would be King (1975)

The Man Who Would be King (1975) is one of the movies on my list of 100 Classic Must-See Movies (That I've Somehow Never Seen) that Jay was most excited for me to watch. He's told me about it many times so I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen, which left me free to pay more attention to the little things. Here's what you need to know:

This movie is an adaptation of a Rudyard Kipling novella. It stars Sean Connery as Daniel Dravot, Michael Caine as Peachy Carnehan, and Christopher Plummer as the author himself. Chance and a connection to the Masons connect the three main characters. Connery's Dravot and Caine's Peachy are what I believe you'd call "right geezers", with a plan for everything and the cheek to pull it off. This time, they're on their way to Kafiristan, a place where no white man has been since Alexander the Great, with the intention of setting themselves up as kings.

The Man Who Would be King starts with a lengthy tribute to the exotic nature of the Indian subcontinent. I had to wonder, as it dragged on, what exactly the makers of the film were trying to get at by focusing so heavily on the otherness of the natives and, to be honest, I didn't really get it. I assumed that it was just a commentary on the fact that between the time the novella was written and the time the movie was made, the British Empire fell to pieces. It's easy to imagine the visual love letter to India that opened The Man Who Would be King is just longing for "the good old days."

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that it serves another purpose. (Don't get me wrong, I think there's a good part of "No Empire, no more" going on there, too.) It's the otherness that's important here. India is pictured as wild, weird, and wonderful - but still so very British at the same time. No matter how bad it gets for Danny and Peachy in India, they can handle it because it has the familiarity and safety of home.

Kafiristan offers no such thing. While 19th century Brits see India as delightfully exotic, Kafiristan looms in the distance, inhospitable and unwelcoming. Wild, weird, and wonderful, yes. But it's important to see Danny and Peachy swagger away from trouble in India, so that you feel the danger more prominently when they face trouble in Kafiristan. As Jay would say, "They ain't limpin' away from this one."

Well, that's not exactly true... but I don't want to give too much away.

It's interesting to note Danny & Peachy's attitudes to the military before they leave India. I wouldn't say that it's overtly negative but there is a sense -- and it's one that's still very relevant today -- that the military uses you up and spits you out, without so much as a pat on the back.

When they meet the District Commissioner in his office, he asks why they never went home after the the end of their service in the army and Peachy replies, "Home to what? A porters uniform outside a restaurant, attainin' tips from belching civilians for closing cab doors on them and their blowsy women?" Daniel seconds this with, "Not for us, thank you. Not after watching Afghans come howling down out of the hills and taking battlefield command when all the officers had copped it." Talk to any former soldier struggling to find meaning after coming home from the Middle East and I think you'd get a very similar sentiment.

Why do I bring this up?

Because the first thing Danny and Peachy do when they finally reach Kafiristan is train the first bloody tribe they find to BE SOLDIERS.


"Now listen to me you benighted muckers," Daniel tells the sorry group of men in front of him. "We're going to teach you soldiering. The world's noblest profession. When we're done with you, you'll be able to slaughter your enemies like civilized men." The two ex-soldiers do to the Kafiristanis exactly what's been done to them. (The fact that I can't wrap my head around this might be exactly the reason why, though I come from a military family, I never once considered enlisting myself.)

That shit doesn't make sense, y'all.

Except, of course, that it does in a really sad way. We all exercise power over others by doing to them the wrongs done to us by others. It's a terrible cycle.

But, anyway. *sigh*

The whole first third of the movie sets up parallels for the third. (With a journey into the unknown taking up the middle.) The foreshadowing in The Man Who Would be King is effortless. My favourite bit is in the line, "We don't kill easy." I hear that and I expect someone to die in the next couple of minutes. It was so much better in The Man Who Would be King because, know what? They don't kill easy.

Danny becomes what he always dreamed of being in Kafiristan when an opponent's arrow embeds itself in his leather bandolier during a battle. He pulls out the arrow and carries on but the Kafiristanis see this "miracle" as proof of Danny's divinity -- something confirmed when the high priest, Kafu-Selim (played by an actor who, by the way, was over 100!), orders his death. Danny's shirt is torn open, revealing the Masonic Square and Compasses given to him by Kipling before their journey began.

Good thing Alexander the Great, whom the Kafiristanis worship as a god-king, was also a Mason!

There are loads of Masonic references in The Man Who Would be King. Not surprising, really, since Kipling was a Freemason. There are subtle Masonic references in a lot of his work. I won't go into it now, but if you want to know more, check out this article.

At first, Danny & Peachy stick around because they know they'll never get through the treacherous mountain pass back into India until winter has passed. During this time, Danny soaks up the adoration and worship, dolling out law as he sees fit. All goes well -- for a while. Unfortunately, it doesn't take Danny, presumed son of the god-king Alexander (they call him "Sikander"), long to start believing the lie.

You see the first signs of Danny's delusion taking hold when he pulls his old friend to the side and tells him, "If we're gonna make it stick that I'm a god, you ought to bow when you pass in front of me like everybody else." Peachy sees right away that something isn't right.

By the time he tells Danny the pass is clear and Danny insists that he's not leaving, you can tell Peachy knows his companion -- his "brother", to use the Masonic terminology Kipling favoured - is lost. When Danny defends his decision with, "This isn't the first time I've worn a crown" (ie: he actually thinks he IS the reincarnation of Alexander), the look Peachy wears isn't one of surprise; it's one of pain.

The Man Who Would be King is a testimate to three fine actors. Connery, Caine, and Plummer all excel at their craft but, for me, Caine's performance steals the show. Even when Danny's lies are discovered, when he should cut and run, his madness drives him to fight on. Caine's Peachy, though, watches the proceedings with an assessing eye.

He's the planner, the thinker. Peachy communicates their intentions with strangers they meet on their journey to Kafiristan, while Danny plays the dancing fool. He guides Danny through the blizzard that blinds him (so much symbolism it hurts...) and does the math when Danny struggles with it.

And, at the end...

Gods, the end.

I'm going to draw a line here. I don't want to ruin the end of the movie for you, if you haven't seen it, but the ending really hits you in the chest. I knew what was coming, thanks to Jay, and I still bawled. But, anyway, I was talking about the actors, wasn't I?

The sign of their talent is that I hated Connery's Danny by the end but adored Caine's Peachy. Plummer is in less of the film but he does such a brilliant job of giving us Kipling's shock and horror that his small performance is absolutely vital to the film.

I don't know what else I can say about a movie like The Man Who Would be King except that, despite a few minor annoyances (things like the inescapable sexism of the period and the cringe-worthy, old "night filters" used in the 70s), this one's a real masterpiece. I lost myself in it and I think you will too. Is that down to Rudyard Kipling's storytelling ability or amazing performances by some of the best actors of the time? I'll leave that up to you to decide.

As always, leave a comment below if you want to add anything or if you have any suggestions for next year's list, which I'm already building. Next time, some classic horror. See you then.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Spring Blog Post Ideas 2018

The days are getting longer. The trees are nearly ready to spread their leaves. Spring is most definitely on the way. As the chilly, dark days of winter ease into the bright, cheerful days of spring, there are plenty of things we can blog about.

Sometimes, because my Depression and Anxiety get worse this time of year (yeah, I'm kind of messed up), it can be hard for me to remember the things I meant to blog about. This year, I thought I'd make myself a list, to help me on those days when I struggle to find purpose.

Spring Blog Post Ideas:

  • your spring wishlist
  • your spring bucket list
  • spring self-care ideas/routine
  • a day in the life: spring edtion
  • explore spring through the 5 senses
  • your favourite memory of spring
  • reasons to love spring
  • a fresh start (any kind)
  • how to put a spring in your step
  • celebrating Pancake Day
  • yummy pancake recpies
  • celebrating National Poetry Month
  • share a spring poem
  • an Instagram challenge
  • Instagram/Twitter hashtags for spring
  • flower photography
  • spring date night activities
  • sprign crafts
  • flower art
  • a playlist for spring
  • your favourite spring reads
  • best spring movies
  • rainy day box sets
  • rainy day blues busters
  • spring drinks
  • best spring snacks
  • best recipes for the season's fresh veg
  • decorating for spring
  • spring fashion
  • best makeup for spring
  • freshening up your wardrobe
  • best spring colours
  • plan the perfect picnic
  • spring cleaning tips
  • celebrating Earth Day
  • Earth Day arts and crafts
  • Earth Day inspiration and motivation
  • plans for your garden
  • what you're planting and why
  • flower arrangements
  • ways to preserve flowers 
  • flower photos or art
  • April Fool's Day: Like or Loathe?
  • learning about St. David's Day
  • something totally Welsh
  • best Easter/spring movies
  • your favourite things about Easter
  • the history of Easter
  • Easter crafts
  • Easter decorations
  • favourite Easter memory
  • ways to decorate Easter eggs
  • best eggy recipes
  • what Memorial Day means to you
  • your Memorial Day story/memories

What do you think of my list? Did you find anything to inspire you? If so, be sure to share the link so I can check it out!

What I've Been Watching: January 2018

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) ⭐⭐⭐
Ransom (1996) ⭐⭐⭐
Caddyshack (1980) 
The Snowman (2017) 
Geostorm (2017) 
Insidious (2010) 
Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) 
Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015) 
Kingsman: The Golden Circle 
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) 
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) 
Mother! (2017) 
Insidious: The Last Key (2018) 
Paddington (2014) 
Temple (2017) 
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 
Kelly's Heroes (1970) 
The Shape of Water (2017) 
Darkman (1990) 
Fifty Shades Darker (2017) 
Superman (1978) 
A Demon Within (2017) 
Vamps (2012) 
The Covenant (2017) 
The Man Who Would Be King (1975) 
Paddington 2 (2017) 
Keep Watching (2017) 
Murder on the Orient Express (2017) πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ
Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003) 
IT (2017) 
Quarantine (2008) 
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) 
Orca (1977) 
Ghost Story (1981) 
Victor Crowley (2017) 

January's surprise winner is Murder on the Orient Express. I've never been a huge fan of Agatha Christie or Poirot but there was nothing much else on at the time and I'm still astonished by how much I enjoyed the film. Jay said, "If you can screw up that story, with that cast, you don't deserve to make movies." Well, I guess he's right (even if it's not the most tactful way to put it.)

Anyway, if you haven't seen it yet, check out Murder on the Orient Express -- even if it's not your thing. You won't be disappointed.