The Wind That Shakes The Barley , by Paul Laverty

bookshelves: film-only, autumn-2014, britain-ireland, skoolzy-stuff, published-2006

Read on September 01, 2014

 

Watch Here

Description: The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a 2006 Irish war drama film directed by Ken Loach, set during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1922) and the Irish Civil War (1922–1923). Written by long-time Loach collaborator Paul Laverty, this drama tells the fictional story of two County Cork brothers, Damien O’Donovan (Cillian Murphy) and Teddy O’Donovan (Pádraic Delaney), who join the Irish Republican Army to fight for Irish independence from the United Kingdom. It takes its title from the Robert Dwyer Joyce song “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” a song set during the 1798 rebellion in Ireland and featured early in the film.

Widely praised, the film won the Palme d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Loach’s biggest box office success to date, the film did well around the world and set a record in Ireland as the highest-grossing Irish-made independent film ever.

The plot (wiki sourced): County Cork, Ireland, 1920. Dr. Damien O’Donovan is about to leave his native village to practise medicine in a London hospital. Meanwhile, his brother Teddy commands the local flying column of the Irish Republican Army. After a hurling match, Damien witnesses the summary execution of his friend, Micheál Ó Súilleabháin, by British Black and Tans. Although shaken, Damien rebuffs his friends’ entreaties to stay in Ireland and join the IRA, saying that the war is unwinnable. As he is leaving town, Damien witnesses the British Army vainly trying to intimidate a railway guard and the train driver for refusing to permit the troops to board. In response, Damien decides to stay and is sworn into Teddy’s IRA brigade.

Powerful, gruelling and very sad in parts. Of course it is, it’s war.

Listen to the Rebel Ballad that gave rise to the title:

I sat within a valley green,
I sat me with my true love,
My sad heart strove the two between,
The old love and the new love, –
The old for her, the new that made
Me think on Ireland dearly,
While soft the wind blew down the glade
And shook the golden barley.
Twas hard the woeful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
Twas harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, “The mountain glen
I’ll seek next morning early
And join the brave United Men!”
While soft winds shook the barley.
While sad I kissed away her tears,
My fond arms ’round her flinging,
The foeman’s shot burst on our ears,
From out the wildwood ringing, –
A bullet pierced my true love’s side,
In life’s young spring so early,
And on my breast in blood she died
While soft winds shook the barley!
I bore her to the wildwood screen,
And many a summer blossom
I placed with branches thick and green
Above her gore-stain’d bosom:-
I wept and kissed her pale, pale cheek,
Then rushed o’er vale and far lea,
My vengeance on the foe to wreak,
While soft winds shook the barley!
But blood for blood without remorse,
I’ve ta’en at Oulart Hollow
And placed my true love’s clay-cold corpse
Where I full soon will follow;
And round her grave I wander drear,
Noon, night and morning early,
With breaking heart whene’er I hear
The wind that shakes the barley.

Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss

 

bookshelves: summer-2014, published-1954, film-only, poetry, kiddlewinks, mental-health

Read on August 19, 2014

 

Description: Horton the kindly elephant has his work cut out saving the tiny Whos who live on a speck of dust – no one else believes they are there! But Horton eventually convinces everyone that ‘A person’s a person, no matter how small’!

Being schooled in the leafy lanes of Surrey meant I didn’t come across Dr Seuss until adulthood. Enid Blyton and E Nesbit were the two authors in particular I remember from the young years. So, to oik my way out of sentimental meanderings I decided to watch Horton after reading this post from the sadly-missed-on-goodreads, Ceridwen.

Bad Boy by Peter Robinson

 

Description: Banks’ old neighbour Juliet Doyle comes to tell him that found a gun, wrapped up, in her daughter Erin’s bedroom. Helen leads a raid on the house, resulting in Erin’s father Peter being tasered and ending up in hospital. Consequently Annie is asked to head an investigation into Helen’s decision. Erin tells the police she was given a parcel, unaware that it contained a gun, by older boy-friend Jaff Kitson. The gun was used to kill DJ Richard Martin and Banks makes a connection with villainous local businessman Al Jenkins. However Jenkins tells him that he sacked Kitson before the murder. A further interview with Erin reveals that Banks’ daughter Tracy has left town with Kitson – and she has told him that her father is a policeman.

Suspenseful episode. Two Smith and Wessons, and one and a half heart-attack inducing tasers.

3* Gallows View (Inspector Banks, #1)
3* A Dedicated Man (Inspector Banks, #2)
3* A Necessary End (Inspector Banks, #3)
TR The Hanging Valley (Inspector Banks, #4)
TR Past Reason Hated (Inspector Banks, #5)
3* Wednesday’s Child (Inspector Banks, #6)
3* Dry Bones That Dream (Inspector Banks, #7)
3* Innocent Graves (Inspector Banks, #8)
TR Blood At The Root (Inspector Banks, #9)
TR In A Dry Season (Inspector Banks, #10)
3* Cold Is The Grave (Inspector Banks, #11)
4* Aftermath (Inspector Banks, #12)
TR Close To Home (Inspector Banks, #13)
3* Playing With Fire (Inspector Banks, #14)
3* Strange Affair (Inspector Banks, #15)
3* Piece Of My Heart (Inspector Banks, #16)
3* Friend Of The Devil (Inspector Banks, #17)
TR All The Colours Of Darkness (Inspector Banks, #18)
3.5* Bad Boy (Inspector Banks, #19)

Piece Of My Heart by Peter Robinson

bookshelves: published-2006, mystery-thriller, britain-england, e-book, summer-2014, film-only, series, music, yorkshire

Read from August 17 to 18, 2014

 

Description: The body of journalist Matt Barber, found in a chalet deep within the hills of a remote village, connect Banks to the death of John Gaunt, a guitarist for a band known as ‘The Crystal Kiss’, who died during the 1980s. His band-mate, and best friend, Martin Hareford, was sent to prison on the grounds of manslaughter, serving five years for Gaunt’s death. Banks finds himself not only investigating Matt Barber’s death, but re-opening the Gaunt case in order to identify the potential cover-up which is threatening to hide the truth behind Barber’s death. As he finds himself raking over bad memories for those involved, DI Morton finds herself suspicious of Barber’s father Jack, who was the investigating officer in the Gaunt case, who extracted a confession from Martin Hareford. However, when the files reveal the confession has disappeared, DI Morton suspects that Jack has more to do with his son’s death than he is letting on.

3* Gallows View (Inspector Banks, #1)
3* A Dedicated Man (Inspector Banks, #2)
3* A Necessary End (Inspector Banks, #3)
TR The Hanging Valley (Inspector Banks, #4)
TR Past Reason Hated (Inspector Banks, #5)
3* Wednesday’s Child (Inspector Banks, #6)
3* Dry Bones That Dream (Inspector Banks, #7)
3* Innocent Graves (Inspector Banks, #8)
TR Blood At The Root (Inspector Banks, #9)
TR In A Dry Season (Inspector Banks, #10)
3* Cold Is The Grave (Inspector Banks, #11)
4* Aftermath (Inspector Banks, #12)
TR Close To Home (Inspector Banks, #13)
3* Playing With Fire (Inspector Banks, #14)
3* Strange Affair (Inspector Banks, #15)
3* Piece Of My Heart (Inspector Banks, #16)
3* Friend Of The Devil (Inspector Banks, #17)
TR All The Colours Of Darkness (Inspector Banks, #18)
TR Bad Boy (Inspector Banks, #19)

Wednesday’s Child by Peter Robinson

 

Description: A strange man and woman turn up on the doorstep of Kyle Heath, an eleven-year-old local school boy, claiming to be social workers having received a report of abuse against the child. As they make the decision to take the child from his mother’s custody, little does she know that the man and the woman are in fact sinister child abductors, who have no connection to social services whatsoever. A search for the missing boy soon gets underway, but the discovery of a large quantity of drugs underneath the floorboards of his living room reveals some rather dark and sinister secrets. DI Morton suspects that the child’s abduction, however, was planned by his own mother to extort money. The boy’s headteacher soon becomes prime suspect when evidence reveals he was with the boy the night after he disappeared. Meanwhile, Banks’ attempt to protect Annie from the emotions of the case draw them closer together.

Solid insert. Three slot machines

3* Gallows View (Inspector Banks, #1)
3* A Dedicated Man (Inspector Banks, #2)
3* A Necessary End (Inspector Banks, #3)
TR The Hanging Valley (Inspector Banks, #4)
TR Past Reason Hated (Inspector Banks, #5)
3* Wednesday’s Child (Inspector Banks, #6)
3* Dry Bones That Dream (Inspector Banks, #7)
3* Innocent Graves (Inspector Banks, #8)
TR Blood At The Root (Inspector Banks, #9)
TR In A Dry Season (Inspector Banks, #10)
3* Cold Is The Grave (Inspector Banks, #11)
4* Aftermath (Inspector Banks, #12)
TR Close To Home (Inspector Banks, #13)
3* Playing With Fire (Inspector Banks, #14)
3* Strange Affair (Inspector Banks, #15)
TR Piece Of My Heart (Inspector Banks, #16)
3* Friend Of The Devil (Inspector Banks, #17)
TR All The Colours Of Darkness (Inspector Banks, #18)
TR Bad Boy (Inspector Banks, #19)

The Physician by Noah Gordon

 

Description: In the 11th century, Rob Cole left poor, disease-ridden London to make his way across the land, hustling, juggling, peddling cures to the sick—and discovering the mystical ways of healing. It was on his travels that he found his own very real gift for healing—a gift that urged him on to become a doctor. So all consuming was his dream, that he made the perilous, unheard-of journey to Persia, to its Arab universities where he would undertake a transformation that would shape his destiny forever.

Not an item for the rigid, pedantic historian as there are anachronisms galore. Black Death, for one glaring instance and, wait for it,… the discovery that fleas were the carriers. Yes this is 11th century. Who cares, ’tis romping fun!

That aside it is a fabulous tale fully worthy of an encounter.

Isfahan

Three and a half genie lamps

The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright

bookshelves: film-only, published-1907, summer-2014, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-richer, forest, bucolic-or-pastoral, christian, doo-lally

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Don
Read from June 29 to 30, 2014


Watch the film here

Description: “Here and there among men, there are those who pause in the hurried rush to listen to the call of a life that is more real. He who sees too much is cursed for a dreamer, a fanatic, or a fool, by the mad mob, who, having eyes, see not, ears and hear not, and refuse to understand.” –From The Shepherd of the Hills Originally published in 1907, The Shepherd of the Hills is Harold Bell Wright’s most famous work. Pelican Publishing Company is honored to bring this classic novel back to print as part of the Pelican Pouch series. In The Shepherd of the Hills, Wright spins a tale of universal truths across the years to the modern-day reader. His Eden in the Ozarks has a bountiful share of life’s enchantments, but is not without its serpents. While Wright rejoices in the triumphs, grace, and dignity of his characters, he has not naively created a pastoral fantasyland where the pure at heart are spared life’s struggles and pains. Refusing to yield to the oft-indulged temptation of painting for the reader the simple life of country innocents, Wright forthrightly shows the passions and the life-and-death struggles that go on even in the fairest of environments that man invades. The shepherd, an elderly, mysterious, learned man, escapes the buzzing restlessness of the city to live in the backwoods neighborhood of Mutton Hollow in the Ozark hills. There he encounters Jim Lane, Grant Matthews, Sammy, Young Matt, and other residents of the village, and gradually learns to find a peace about the losses he has borne and has yet to bear. Through the shepherd and those around him, Wright assembles here a gentle and utterly masterful commentary on strength and weakness, failure and success, tranquility and turmoil, and punishment and absolution. This tale of life in the Ozarks continues to draw thousands of devotees to outdoor performances in Branson, Missouri, where visitors can also see the cabin where the real Old Matt and Aunt Mollie lived. Harold Bell Wright also is the author of That Printer of Udell’s (pb) and The Calling of Dan Matthews (pb), both published by Pelican.

How lovely it is to be so ignorant of divisive issues re geography in US. This, in a heap of reviews, is peculiarly Ozark and that it might be hard to grasp. I looked up Ozark on ‘thankheavenfor’ wiki:

Ozarks is a toponym believed to be derived as a linguistic corruption of the French abbreviation aux Arcs (short for aux Arkansas, or “of/at Arkansas” in English)[1] in the decades prior to the French and Indian War, aux Arkansas originally referring to the trading post at Arkansas Post, located in wooded Arkansas Delta lowland area above the confluence of the Arkansas River with the Mississippi River.

Residents, as far as I can tell, are looked down upon by other US citizens. Please feel free to jump in and explain why this is, I am always up for my horizons being broadened.
:O)*

The answer from Don:

Great post Bettie, thanks! I will be out that way later this week so this is very timely and informative to me.

As far as residents being looked down upon, the label for them, hillbilly, as explained by wikipedia, connotes a “stereotype — the poor, ignorant, feuding family with a huge brood of children tending the ancestral moonshine still — reached its current characterization during the years of the Great Depression, when many mountaineers left their homes to find work in other areas of the country. It was during these years that comic strips such as Li’l Abner and films such as Ma and Pa Kettle made the ‘hillbilly’ a common stereotype.” Hope that helps!

Theme tune placed here just for fun

Riight, gotcha, I’m with you. Thanks for answering, Don, I can see why many would not have felt comfortable with replying: regional prejudices are a tricky subject. Funnily enough, because I can see ‘Springfield’ on that map, it set me thinking of stereotypical ‘Dohs’.

Eve by James Hadley Chase

bookshelves: film-only, noir, published-1945, under-500-ratings, italy, venice, rome

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Andrey Kurkov
Recommended for: Laura, Wanda et al
Read on June 24, 2014


Watch the full film here

Description: Clive Thurston was a hard, ruthless Hollywood writer. But his fame and reputation rested on the work of another man – a brilliant playwright who had conveniently died. Clive thought his secret was safe – but then he met Eve. Eve was on the game. To Clive she was an enigma – bold, shy, wanton, and childlike by turn. Clive was a pushover, from the moment he saw her he was a man possessed – possessed by a woman who was beautiful to look at but lethal to love..

How quiet is was at night in Rome in 1948.

From the Venice bath scene: Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra – Willow Weep For Me

Cracker by Jimmy McGovern

bookshelves: summer-2014, britain-england, manchester, psychology, mystery-thriller, series, film-only, families

Read from June 19 to 24, 2014


NB This is the original TV series starring the excellent Robbie Coltrane, not the lame US replication called ‘Fitz’.

1.1 – “The Mad Woman in the Attic”. A young woman is brutally murdered on a train, the victim of a serial killer. The prime suspect is an amnesiac man, who cannot confess to the crime if he cannot remember committing it unless Fitz can crack him.

1.2 – “To Say I Love You”. While his own marriage is falling apart, Fitz goes up against a young couple who would literally kill for their love, leading to an equally literally explosive climax.

1.3 – “One Day a Lemming Will Fly”. The disappearance and death of a 13-year-old boy inflames the local community as a teacher becomes the prime suspect. But Fitz begins to have doubts about the teacher’s guilt and attempts to convince Billborough that the truth is more important than a mere result that seems to fit.

2.1 – “To Be a Somebody”. A Pakistani shopkeeper is killed and a skinhead seen leaving the premises. The police are at first convinced that it is a racist killing until a white, English psychologist helping out with the case and DCI Billborough are murdered by the same man. Fitz, while facing his own problems with his family and a hurt Penhaligon, is brought in to investigate, convinced that the killer is not a mere racist hood but actually an ordinary citizen gone horribly wrong.

2.2 – “The Big Crunch”. A young girl missing for several days is discovered naked, covered in strange symbols and quoting the Bible. The trail leads to a fringe Christian sect and its charismatic leader.

2.3 – “Men Should Weep”. The case of a serial rapist who wears a mask, yet tries to develop a relationship with his victims strikes at the heart of Fitz’s personal and professional life when Penhaligon is raped and the rapist, apparently acting on Fitz’s advice, starts to kill as well. Meanwhile, Penhaligon begins to discover a connection between her rapist and Jimmy Beck.

3.1 – “Brotherly Love”. The brutal murder and violation of a prostitute quickly leads to an arrest, but while the suspect is in custody, an identical murder happens. At the same time, the death of Fitz’s mother reunites him with his brother Danny, and Jimmy Beck, under long time stress from Bilborough’s death, finally reaches his breaking point, leading to a devastating climax.

3.2 – “Best Boys”. When the older Stuart Grady meets the teenage Bill Nash, the instant attraction between the two leads to murderous consequences. Meanwhile, the birth of Fitz’s new son is not the solution to his marital strife that he expected, and Judith begins to seek solace with Danny.

3.3 – “True Romance”. Fitz is the target of a secret admirer who is willing to kill – and keep killing – to get his attention, understanding and love, even if it means targeting Fitz’s loved ones.

Extra Episode – “White Ghost”. While in Hong Kong on a lecture tour, Fitz is asked by the local police to help investigate the murder of a Chinese businessman.

Extra Episode – “Nine Eleven”. Fitz returns to Manchester for his daughter’s wedding, but is soon involved in another murder investigation when an American comedian is killed, apparently without motive.

See also Prime Cracker Comic Relief

Pennies from Heaven by Dennis Potter, Kenith Trodd (Introduction)

bookshelves: play-dramatisation, film-only, under-50-ratings, summer-2014, period-piece, britain-england, forest, music

Read from June 07 to 17, 2014


1978 mini-series

Pennies from Heaven (1978)TV Mini-Series

IMDB description: Arthur, a sheet music salesman, has an ear for the hit tunes, but nobody will trust it. And his imagination often bursts into full song, building musical numbers around the greatest frustrations in his life. He meets an innocent young school teacher, Eileen, who seems to hear the same music, but when Eileen learns that he’s married, and that she’s pregnant with his child, she runs away. Arthur gives up everything to find and protect her, but fate and the music haven’t finished with Arthur Parker. – Written by Kathy Li

Bob Hoskins
Gemma Craven
Nigel Havers

Theme Tune

The bits that my better half finds so ugly are the singing interludes, those songs of the times that further the story along and explain innermost thoughts. Personally, I love the Royal Forest of Dean setting for Arthur’s alternative life.

Yes, this is a dated offering but it is one that I have waited a long time to see. Potter was one of the ground-breaking social-realism playwrights. No doubt Mimal will like the Singing Detective better when we get to it. Episode details that follow are taken exclusively from wiki:

Part 1 ‘Down Sunnyside Lane’: In the mid-1930s, Arthur and Joan Parker (Bob Hoskins and Gemma Craven) are an incompatible married couple living in the London suburbs. Arthur, a travelling sheet music salesman, is a passionate man who is frustrated by his wife’s repressed nature. On a car journey to the Gloucester area he picks up ‘the accordion man’, a vagrant (Kenneth Colley) who invariably busks on the instrument in the vicinity of the other characters, but the signs of the man’s mental illness soon lead Arthur to reject him after they spend several hours together. While trying to persuade a shopkeeper (Arnold Peters) to take some of his goods, Arthur notices a female customer with whom he immediately becomes besotted. Arthur and ‘the accordion man’ both manage to frighten the young woman. Before returning to London, Arthur has sex with Marjorie, a Gloucestershire prostitute (Rosemary Martin) in the back of his car.

Part 2 ‘The Sweetest Thing’: Arthur’s bank manager (Peter Cellier) refuses to give him a loan. Eileen Everson (Cheryl Campbell), the woman he encountered, is a junior school teacher in the Forest of Dean who lives with her widowed coal mining father and two brothers, also miners. Meanwhile, Arthur has returned to the area to trace the woman he is obsessed with. He finally encounters Eileen in a wood near the Everson’s cottage, and returns to their home where Arthur claims his wife has died in a motorcycle accident. He and Eileen eventually make love after the rest of the household have gone to bed.

Part 3 ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’: The Parker’s marriage briefly revives after Joan smears lipstick on her nipples, and appears to respond to some of her husband’s sexual fantasies. Joan is persuaded to use her inheritance to finance Arthur’s desire to open a record shop. Meanwhile, Eileen has discovered she is pregnant and is forced to give up her job. After unexpectedly meeting a young blind girl (Yolande Palfrey) in a field, whom he lusts after under his breath, Arthur reappears at the Everson family home, and his relationship with Eileen revives. The blind girl is raped and murdered, for which Arthur is arrested, but soon released. Eileen moves to London, but she has though lost contact with Arthur again.

“Part 4 Better Think Twice”

Almost destitute, Eileen eats little and is in arrears for her cheap hotel room. She meets the superficially sympathetic Tom (Hywel Bennett), a wealthy man with no obvious occupation, and becomes dependent upon him. Arthur opens his new record shop, but he has very few customers, an exception being Tom. The two men get along very well, and Arthur delivers some records to the apartment where Eileen is recovering from an (illegal) abortion paid for by Tom, but the couple are not reunited. Arthur later glimpses Eileen in the pub where she had met Tom, and they leave for the record shop. Unaware of Arthur’s connection to Tom, Eileen explains that the man who paid for her abortion now has a hold over her, and he intends to be her pimp. The couple decide they have to escape from London, and shatter Arthur’s stock of fragile shellac discs.

“Part 5 Painting the Clouds”

A police inspector (Dave King) visits Joan after Arthur’s unexplained disappearance and the destruction of his retail stock. Her comments about Arthur’s sexual tastes, particularly his wish for his wife to move around the house without wearing her knickers, lead the police to make a connection with the murder of the blind girl whose undergarment had been removed. ‘The accordion man’ is haunted by her image and his responsibility for the murder. (It is clear he is not delusional over this event.) He is disorientated when running into Eileen while she is street walking; the dead girl bears a resemblance to her. Arthur is now living off Eileen’s immoral earnings, and she is a client of a Conservative MP, Major Archibald Paxville (Ronald Fraser), who she unsuccessfully attempts to blackmail. ‘The accordion man’ commits suicide, probably by throwing himself off Hammersmith Bridge (which also features ominously in The Singing Detective), and his corpse is discovered. Arthur and Eileen’s false optimism for the future is dashed when they see a newspaper headline indicating he is wanted for murder.

“Part 6 Says My Heart”

Arthur and Eileen are on the run. They spend the night in a barn, but Eileen’s attempt to find help eventually leads her to shoot dead a lonely and deranged farmer (Philip Locke). They feed and clean themselves in his farmhouse, and scavenge through the man’s possessions for money and things they can sell. Leaving the farm Arthur stops, thinking he has seen ‘the accordion man’, but cannot restart their stolen car. Passing police take the couple in for questioning, and Arthur is charged with the murder of the blind girl. In the crown court inconsistencies in Arthur’s various accounts, and a witness unwittingly confusing Arthur’s fixation on Eileen for an obsession with the blind girl lead to his conviction and execution. After Eileen notes the time set for his hanging has passed, Arthur reappears and a happy ending is announced by the two characters.

CR Pennies from Heaven
5* The Changing Forest: Life in the Forest of Dean Today
TR The Singing Detective