Are You Not Entertained?

Here continues a monthly series sharing the music, books, and films that absorbed my time.


The guitar and storytelling lyrics–it’s that rare, perfect album. A vinyl find at a garage sale, I rediscovered Making Movies, and it sounded just as sweet to my ears as it did 36 years ago. Fast forward time and Knopfler reinvents himself by cleverly pairing his talents with the legendary Emmy Lou Harris creating another great album in 2006, All the Roadrunning.

Mark Knopfler and Emmy Lou Harris duo
Mark Knopfler and Emmy Lou Harris, dynamic duo

THE BOOKScaptura-de-pantalla-2012-09-26-a-las-18-47-14

Only had time to read one, but Kate Remembered was an entertaining choice and introduced me to A. Scott Berg.  The efforts of his twenty year friendship with Katharine Hepburn and his profession as a biographer produced a satisfying page turner. I appreciated the insights she shared regarding the roots of Hollywood and her journey in the industry for 70 years. She passed in June of 2003, and Berg’s bio came out twelve days later. It’s a must read for movie buffs. Now I want to explore A. Scott Berg’s other biographies, especially his Pulitzer winner, Lindbergh. Can you recommend any of his biographies?

A 2013 article by Cain Rodriguez from Indiewire announced that Leonardo DiCaprio‘s film company, Appian Way, picked up the rights to produce a film version of Wilson. If you want to read the article, it can be found HERE. Does anyone know what stage of production it is in?


I watched a ton of Jeff Bridges this past month. Did you miss The Lucky 13 Film Club discussion regarding him? Why not check it out and comment? Lloyd and I would be happy to hear from you.


Why on earth wasn’t The Assassin nominated in the foreign language category during awards season? It was simply the most beautiful period film I have seen quite possibly, ever. Taiwanese cinematographer Mark Lee Ping Bin and director Hou Hsiao-Hsien captured the grandeur of 9th Century China from the imperial court to the villages blanketed by some of the prettiest scenery on the planet. It’s a magical dream from which you wouldn’t want to awaken.

It was a film of few words. Characters shared space and time with the opulence of nature’s dialogue between song birds and the lively wind. Quirky Chinese twangs resounded from instruments from which I don’t know. A farmer’s walk crosses the screen without a pause for several minutes. When a character makes a statement, the other says nothing. This could be off-putting for Western audiences waiting for reactions or for the plot to move along; if you watch it late at night while tired, it could easily lull you to sleep. But what a dreamy world it is.  4/5. 


A dark comedy with beautiful bodies and Alpen scenery, the cast is exceptional with sharp supporting performances by Jane Fonda and Paul Dano. A treat for all your senses. I highly recommend this smart film with strong script-writing.  5/5 


Lucky 13 Film Club: The Lion in Winter

Katharine Hepburn won an Oscar for Best Actress as Eleanor of Aquitaine. James Goldman won an Oscar for adapting his own play. John Barry‘s score won for Best Score. It’s 1182 and King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) is the scene-chewing roaring lion passionately defending his kingdom while three sons vie for the crown and a sour wife is his greatest adversary.  Ultimately, it’s a love story between a husband and wife whose bitter disappointments in each other flail out to those around them. Their manipulations tarnish the relationships between their three sons. Betrayal is the prominent theme. My heart goes out to son number one, Richard, played to perfection by Anthony Hopkins and Alais, the pretty pawn by Jane Merrow.  

As a conversation starter, I focused on the CINEMATOGRAPHY by Douglas Slocombe (Indiana Jones, Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Great Gatsby, Never Say Never Again). It helps when you film at the gorgeous locale of Wales and England. The sweeping battle scene on the beach was impressive with black horses and sardonic son number 2 (John Castle) looking on.  Even in winter with barren trees and frosty glens and a cold castle, the wide angles were beautiful. However, I think his use of close-ups provide a balanced contrast and interesting angles. For example, I liked Eleanor at her dressing table having a monologue in a mirror. The turn of a skeleton key in the dungeon door. The shocked face of Richard behind the curtain as he learns his lover has betrayed him. The face of King Henry on his knees out on the ramparts and the camera pulls away from his face as he looks up to the stars. Did you like the cinematography? How about that pulling back technique Slocombe employs?  Did you find it distracting? 

Please welcome KATE LOVETON who has a great blog and where she shows off her creative writing talents. This was her idea to form a film club where we could discuss with one another a topic and a film. Kate focused on the DIALOGUE, a huge part of the success of the film:


What a pleasure it was to watch this intelligent film once again. There is so much to like about “The Lion in Winter,” and many aspects worthy of discussion:  staging, costuming, the score.  Best of all is the excellent acting and crisp, often biting dialogue.  It is by turns witty, wise, searing and venomous.
Henry II and Eleanor, once lovers, are now old-age combatants; rather than swords, their weapon of choice is the tongue – and each employs it well. When asked by his mistress how his wife is, Henry (who has kept Eleanor locked away in a nunnery for ten years) responds corrosively, “Decaying, I hope.”
Ah, but Eleanor gives as good as she gets.  She tells Henry’s mistress, “Henry’s bed is his province. He can people it with sheep for all I care. Which, on occasion, he has done.”  Ouch!
Confronted with the treachery and sodomy of her offspring, Eleanor, a master of understatement, dryly remarks, “What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?”
I think my favorite line was uttered by Henry after he’d locked his conniving sons up in the wine cellar. (Henry apparently has a talent for locking up family members). His mistress asks where Henry’s sons are. “The royal boys are aging with the royal port,” he replies.
If Henry and Eleanor are masters of waspish dialogue, their sons are masters of deception and murderous intent toward one another. When one of her sons pulls a knife on the other, the would-be victim whines that his brother was carrying a knife. The wearied Eleanor remarks, “Of course he has knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It’s 1183 and we’re barbarians!”
Just so… and now it is 2015, and we are still barbarians.
Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole employ just the right shadings of tone to convey sarcasm, anguish, fear… and the underpinnings of sexuality. Hepburn’s Eleanor is a dangerous woman… and yet beneath the vinegar and venom, one gets the impression that she still burns for Henry. Her lust no longer physical, it plays itself out in verbal jousting.  Her love is a deadly thing. Hepburn makes us pity and admire her indomitable Eleanor, even when we most dislike her.
And Henry? O’Toole does a masterful job. It was a revelation to me to see O’Toole as the expansive, bellowing, manipulative Henry. He chewed up the scenery… yet he never made Henry a clown. When Henry realizes just how estranged his boys are from him, he stumbles away and cries out, “I’ve lost my boys.” In that moment, my heart went out to him.  He never really had them to begin with.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the dialogue and cinematography?

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