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Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

I picked up my keys and called out to Tom.

 “I am leaving” but, he did not hear – understand me.

“What?”

“I said I’m leaving”, and commenced laughing. Poor Tom didn’t think it was funny, but, there I was, laughing; suddenly remembering the movie,  Roxanne – and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Hav you ever had one of these silly moments?

(from YouTube)

 

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House_on_carroll_street_posterTwo movies, viewed a weeks apart, both set in the early 1950’s, one viewed many times, one just once in the theater.

One, a thriller, was a bit of a sleeper, though the venerable Roger Ebert gave it three stars.  The other, a coming of age/love story, is a bit under the popular radar, but, deservedly, up for awards on both sides of the pond.

The House on Carroll Street and Brooklyn both take place, in whole or in part, in New York. Both are rich in setting, mood and nuance, often evoking more in the wordless moments than in the dialogue, especially The House on Carroll Street. Both movies delve into issues of their day, though, in my view, issues not all that different from many issues of these days we live in.

The House on Carroll Street begins with Emily Crane refusing to name names when summoned to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.  She is subsequently fired from her job and takes on a part-time position reading to an elderly woman on a quiet street. Curious about an open window and voices across the street from the elderly woman’s dwelling,  Emily snoops from the hidden garden as she leaves her reading. Later, she bumps into one of the men she saw in the window. The other she recognizes as the government official who questioned her at the hearing. So begins a quietly menacing thriller, ala Alfred Hitchcock, with Emily an unlikely heroine in a world where there are still Nazis.

Brooklyn is based on the book written by Colm Tóibín.  I enjoyed the movie so much 11201971_orithat I now have the novel teetering on my ever-present TBR pile. The movie came to my attention through recommendations, trusted blog reviews, and my own instinct that Brooklyn was a movie I wanted to see. This is a simple story, a slow journey through the agony of leaving what was once home, the long ocean voyage in cramped quarters, the bustle of New York City with new sights and smells and foreign faces. It is of life in a boardinghouse, full of all the comes when woman board together. It is the story of adapting to a new country, to working, attending night school to become a bookkeeper (and being the only female in the class). It is about being a young Irish lass, as Eilis Lacey is, and meeting a young Italian boy at a dance, falling in love, meeting his big family, coming of age, and of choices we make, their consequences and their rewards.

Both films are set in the early ’50s. Both are rich in costuming, details, nuances and the unspoken words as much as the spoken. Both evoke an era we sometimes look back to as simpler times, which were, in truth, often fraught with underlying changes and unspoken fear. Both have an unseen character of menace. The menace in one is McCarthyism, the other small-mindedness.

I would like to recommend both movies if you have not seen them.  If you have, I welcome your thoughts. Is there a movie set in the ’50s that you especially enjoy?

 

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Whilst the Irish Soda Bread was baking and the corned beef dinner was  simmering, a few of my favorite Irish films came to mind, and I was wondering what some of your favorite Irish movies might be.

One that always sets me to laughing is Waking Ned Devine

Of course, there is The Quiet Man, which usually shows up in the these parts on St. Patrick’s Day, as it did again this year.

Evelyn is perfect for social justice and protection of children –  and a wee bit of angel rays,

 

and Finian’s Rainbow if just the one for song and dance.

The trailers are from YouTube. A few I couldn’t find but are enjoyable to watch include Da, The Mammy,  The Secret of Roan Inish, and Ryan’s Daughter.

While I’m blathering on about movies, I would like to mention the British import , Moone Boy on PBS? Have you watched it?

What are your favorite films of Ireland?

 

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MagicofOrdinaryDaysth copyth-2th-3th

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Happy Valentine’s Day.

What are some of your favorite love stories?

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DSCN7038The sun danced through the house today, slipping quietly through the windows of the kitchen door, splashing warm memories of dew drops on the faucet, while sipping on a bottle of Chardonay.

Those angel rays brushed the kitchen cabinets, rendering them a honey brown. Down the narrow hall they slid. They drifted from the skylights, casting shadows on the walls. It was a sunnyside up sort a day, so welcome and warm that I did not mind that the sunbeams accented the cobwebs that have chosen corners from which to hang. The sun has made such infrequent appearances this winter that it is pure joy to see her rays on this January day – especially with the ominous prediction of an Alberta clipper about to descend upon the Great Lakes region.

Our sunny day will be a bittersweet memory come Sunday morning. I think I’ll worry about the snow when it comes and just enjoy the goodwill of sunlight today, sipping something warm, perhaps, and enjoying a dollop or two of lemon curd on an English muffin, while I read Jan Karon’s new book, “Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good”, which I have on seven day loan from the library.

DSCN7081Maybe, just maybe, I’ll take a walk about the Cutoff,  with this wonderful little book in hand, a gift from a very dear friend. Perhaps I can tell the Cape Cods and Georgians of the nesting world and determine who has been living in the trees, pondering their return from the south as soon as warmer winds start blowing.

It’s all in the little things, my friend; like angel rays and birds nests, lemon curd and bittersweet.

I Come in the Little Things

. . . I come in the little things, Saith the Lord:
Yea! on the glancing wings
Of eager birds, the softly pattering feet
Of furred and gentle beasts, I come to meet
Your hear and wayward heart. In brown bright eyes
That peep from out the brake, I stand confest.
On every nest
Where feathery Patience is content to brood
And leaves her pleasure for the high emprize
Of motherhood . . .

. . . I come in the little things, Saith the Lord . . .

Evelyn Underhill

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Checking out the “chipper chicken” in the middle refrigerated case of Marianno’s, I heard someone calling from across the case . ” .. .enny, I haven’t seen you in years, how are you?“.

She was looking at me, gesticulating gleefully, as one tends to do upon a chance encounter with someone from their past.  “Do you like your new house?”.  She was talking to me.

I had absolutely no idea who she was.

I’ve lived a life where more people seem to know me than I them. It is what it is. I’ve learned to roll with it. I can have a conversation with a hard boiled egg.

Yes. Love it, but, miss my friends and neighbors of so many years“.

We miss you too.”

Pause. Smiles. Chicken choices.

I don’t think I know you. I thought you were an old neighbor.”

“It happens” I said.  “I’ve done it myself.”

Someone chuckled behind me: a kindred spirit who had likely been on either side of such a conversation herself; or, was it the butcher? We laughed, the two of us, strangers in the supermarket  – and proceeded to chat for fifteen minutes. We set the world right, as women all over are wont to do whilst shopping for their evening’s supper.  Has this ever happened to you?

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shoppingMy earliest childhood memories are muted in black and white with my cousin Ted nearby. He was a constant playmate in the large brick two-flat in which our family lived. The house on Congress Street was filled with family; aunts and uncles and cousins, my parents and sister, and my Yia Yia.  The photos are many of Teddy and Penny with Christmas presents, sitting on Santa’s lap at Marshall Field’s, and some with a Christmas tree in the background.

There are stories, too, of Christmases past, especially the one where my dad conjured up Santa Clause talking to Teddy and me through the heating ducts.  “Penny. Teddy.” the voice boomed.  “Have you been good?“, our toddler heads pumping yes up and down like bobble headed dolls. The masterful storytellers that wove the stories year after year are now long gone, but the tales, they linger on.

That magical junction where Christmas memories become my own merge in our small house on Harrison Street in Maywood. The lively cast of characters still played their roles, but, in separate houses next to each other, with my Yia Yia living in our house.

The magic of Christmas began in the early morning under the same Congress Street Christmas tree, which followed us to the suburbs. The tree has a story of her own that I will tell one day.

On Christmas morn, at the foot of tree, were two felt stockings, their toes rounded and plump with an orange in each toe; one stocking for my sister and one for me. Inside the stockings were trinkets befitting young girls of the 1950’s; a necklace or bracelet, a candy cane, a toy. My stocking was decorated in pink with a ballerina appliqué on it; proof that Santa has a sense of humor.

It did not really matter to me what my stocking held. What mattered was that the stocking appeared each year – and that it was filled to bulging with a fragrant orange.  We had those stockings every Christmas Day in the morning throughout my childhood. As we grew older, the stockings were filled with other small treasures, evolving as we did, until they held such things as lip gloss and oval, plastic eggs holding Legg’s pantyhose.

What I remember the most, however, are the oranges and it is oranges (or tangerines or Clementines these days that evoke Christmas memories in me.

Ma gave each of us our Christmas stockings to keep when we were on our own. When Tom and I married, I bought us new, matching stockings that we would fill for each other. How fun it would be to come home from work or awake in the morning to find our stockings a little fuller as the days until Christmas neared. What could that little wrapped box mean? or that odd shaped tissue paper lump?

When our children came along, they each had a stocking of their own, which, each in their turn was filled as well. When they became engaged, a Christmas stocking appeared for each of our then future sons-in-law, and those stockings followed each couple into their own marriages.

The constant in my Christmas stocking(s) has always been an orange; with its taste and scent and nostalgia. Besides, how else does that toe in the stocking become full?

Addition to post:  Teddy and Penny on Santa’s lap in Marshall Fields. dscn6409

There is a heartwarming and sensitive movie; which is sometimes sad and harsh,  but always hopeful, called Christmas Oranges.  Have you seen it?

 

 

 

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Juliet Batten

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