Category Archives: Movies

Wedding Night

We saw the movie On Chesil Beach on Monday.  It stars the luminous and lovely Saoirse Ronan who is superb in her role as young violinist Florence Ponting.  Billy Howie plays her fiancée. He’s a recent history graduate named Edward Mayhew.  

Florence and Billy are on their honeymoon. Neither of them has any idea how sex works and it leads to disaster.  It makes the viewer awfully glad to be living in a time when information about sex is more readily available. Billy makes a choice the day after their wedding and it sets his life on an entirely different course than he’d planned.  It makes you stop and wonder what choices in your own life changed its direction forever and how alternate choices might have turned out for you. 

I haven’t read the book of the same name on which the film is based by Ian McEwan but apparently it has a much more ambiguous ending. I thought the end of the film was poorly done.  I hardly ever notice make up in a movie but the cosmetic jobs on Florence and Billy who are in their sixties at the end of the movie are painfully unrealistic. 

The story is a bit slow-moving ( I saw my husband nod off a couple of times) but I found it well acted and it made me think about my own wedding night at the North Star Inn- my first taste of both champagne and caviar which were supplied with our honeymoon package.  I remember Dave called one of his baseball teammates before the evening was over to see if the guys had won or lost the game he’d missed that day.  The outcome of our honeymoon night was thankfully not the same as Florence and Edward’s. On Chesil Beach is sad but worth seeing. 

Other posts about movies……….



The Post

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february baby 1979If you’ve given birth you probably have a photo like this too.  Don’t I look all beaming and on top of things?  I wasn’t.  These kinds of photos of new mothers hide the truth.  I was actually exhausted after a seventeen hour labor during which I had done some of the hardest work of my life. At one point my pain seemed so bad I told my husband I was never having another baby. When this photo was taken my body ached and throbbed and was so sore in so many places. I was also sooooooo in love with that little bit of a thing in my arms it totally overwhelmed me. I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to look after him properly. 

An exhausted Marlo leans against the  hallway wall for a minute after dropping her older son off at school

I saw the movie Tully this week. It doesn’t attempt to hide  the fact that pregnancy and early motherhood is full of messiness and hurt and hard work and anxiety.  Marlo the new mother in the film is not only looking after her newborn but two older children as well. Her husband is nice and well-meaning but is working constantly and has little time to help her. Marlo doesn’t care about her appearance, throws frozen food warmed in the microwave on the table, and loses her temper easily. Her life is an endless and exhausting round of breast feedings, school drop offs and pick ups, diaper changes, making school lunches and household chores. 

This photo was taken when our son was still tiny.  The reason I look as happy as I do is because of my mother. I remember the first day I was home alone with my infant son after my husband Dave had left for work.   The baby started to cry.  I was still so stiff and sore I had to roll out of bed and crawl over to his cradle. I felt too weak to even pick him up, never mind feed him and bathe him.  I crawled over to the phone and called  my mother.  “MOM………….” I sobbed into the receiver.  “I’ll be right there,” she said. For the next few days Mom took care of me and our baby and my house till I had a handle on things and could manage on my own.  I don’t know what I would have done without her. 

A young woman named Tully arrives to help Marlo.

Marlo the new mother in the movie Tully doesn’t have a mother to help her but she does have Tully a night nurse hired by Marlo’s rich brother who helps bring a measure of sanity back to Marlo’s family life.  Tully, a young and vibrant woman, cares for the baby at night so Marlo can sleep properly and she also cleans Marlo’s house, cooks for her family, gives her relationship help with her husband, and listens to her problems and concerns.  Marlo doesn’t know what she would do without Tully. 

The film Tully presents a more realistic view of new motherhood than we may have seen in movies in the past. Despite the challenges Marlo faces one never doubts for a minute the honest and passionate love in her heart for her children.  I won’t say too much more about the film because it would be easy to spoil it for you.  Take my word.  It is worth seeing.

Other posts………..

What Does Your Mother Do?

Mothers at the Met

Should Women With Young Children Be Politicians?


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Farewell Tour

insurgence:resurgenceOn Saturday I gave my last tour of the Insurgence/Resurgence exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  I have toured through the exhibit with hundreds of visitors since last September and have learned so many new things from my tour participants as they pointed out things in the art pieces that I hadn’t seen and shared how the works connected to them personally.  

indian horse posterAt the end of my tour on Saturday I told the group I would be going to see the movie Indian Horse in the evening.  Based on the excellent book of the same name by Richard Wagamese the film tells the troubling story of an indigenous boy’s experience at a residential school.  One of the women in my group had seen the movie and she said the Insurgence /Resurgence exhibit provided a hopeful balance to the film.  The exhibit celebrated the gifts and talents of indigenous Canadians and placed them front and centre. The boy in the film who has a rare talent for the sport of hockey is prevented from celebrating that gift and retreats into a place of darkness because of the prejudice and abuse he experiences.  

gone but not forgotten winnipeg art galleryOne of my favorite pieces in the Insurgence/Resurgence exhibit was called Gone But Not Forgotten.  Made from wood collected along the banks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers it is a memorial to people who have lost their lives in Winnipeg’s rivers. This week when I go to the art gallery the works that formed the Insurgence/Resurgence exhibit will be gone but they won’t easily be forgotten.  An article in Saturday’s Free Press makes it clear the exhibit will have a lasting impact on the city of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, its staff and visitors. 

Hustle Bustle Downriver House by Bruno Canadien

Other posts……….

She is Gripped By Terror

Four Grandmothers


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Choose Kindness

On Good Friday Dave and I watched the movie Wonder. I had read the book and so I knew the plot, but the film still engaged me totally and had me weeping. Although there are some credible critiques of the film, particularly this one in The Atlantic I thought the message of the movie and the excellent performances from its main actors Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay, far outweighed the fact that it probably didn’t paint a totally realistic picture of a family and a school community impacted by a fifth grade boy named August who has a severe facial disfigurement. 

teacher in the movie wonderAugust’s home room teacher Mr. Brown puts precepts on his chalkboard for his students to discuss and consider.  The precept that grounds the story of Wonder is from Wayne Dyer, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” 

This is something August’s schoolmates, their families, August’s own sister and August himself must struggle with as they deal with their tendencies to react in less than kind ways. 

Choose-Kind-Facebook-Share-Posts-1200x630pxI found out the movie Wonder has sparked a Choose Kindness campaign.  School classes or individuals are encouraged to have a Choose Kindness jar.  Each time they do something kind a marble, or coin, or some other marker goes inside till the jar is full.  Kids have been coming up with their own precepts that encourage kindness, writing stories about kindness, designing kindness T-shirts and doing all kinds of projects that inspire kindness. 

The movie made me think about my own behavior.  Sometimes when I write or speak I let my belief that I am right get in the way of being kind.  I need to be more conscious of that. 

Wonder was really the perfect movie for a Good Friday, because its story reminds us to be as compassionate and kind as Jesus was to the people hanging on either side of him on the cross, to the people who killed him, to his mother who was grieving and to the many marginalized people he encountered during his time on earth. 

Other posts…….

Acts of Love and Kindness

A Different Kind of Snow Angel

Four Things You Can Do To Be More Empathetic

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Best Picture? You Must Be Kidding!

phantom thread movie posterWe saw Phantom Thread in Lagos Portugal last week.  There were no characters in the movie I liked or cared about. 

reynolds woodcock in phantom threadCertainly not the self-centered, chauvinistic 1950’s high-end fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock who was not only cruel and demanding but eccentric and anti-social as well.  He had a creepy obsession with his dead mother that reminded me of Norman Bates in Psycho. Was Reynolds Woodcock the villain of Phantom Thread or the protagonist? His toxic behavior towards women could make him a poster child for the#MeToo movement. 

I sort of admired Reynolds’ sister Cyril who was essentially the brains of his fashion empire taking care of all the organization and paper work and customer relations to keep the family business thriving. But it was hard to like Cyril because she was way too devoted to her crazy brother and tolerated his ridiculous behaviour. I wanted to shout at her, “Make a life of your own.  You are smart and confident. You have what it takes. Ditch that neurotic sibling of yours!”

SHOWBIZ Film Reviews 083028

Reynold’s sister Cyril supervising the hardworking seamstresses in the film

I felt sorry for all the very talented seamstresses who worked in Reynolds’ fashion house. Without them his business would have been nothing. It was their skill and expertise that made his illustrious reputation possible.  They all lined up like frightened soldiers to cater to their boss’s every whim.  Filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson never really let us see their individual personalities. 

I had no respect for the rich women who came to buy Reynolds’ dresses. They seemed to care about nothing more in life then what social event they would attend next and what they would wear to it that would make everyone else jealous of them. Their main concern in life was whether they looked beautiful or not. 

Phantom-ThreadFinally we have Alma, a simple waitress who becomes our protagonist/villain’s mistress and then wife.  Initially she is besotted with this man who introduces her to his upper crust London life. But even when she fully understands his crippling obsessiveness and cruel nature she doesn’t leave him but cultivates a sadomasochistic relationship with him that keeps him in her life. 

fashion 1947-57

Photo I took at the Golden Age of Couture exhibit at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in 2009

The only thing I found mildly interesting about the movie was its historical signficance. In 2009 I visited a fascinating exhibit at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum called…. The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947–1957. It featured more than a hundred fashionable outfits from exactly the time in which Phantom Thread is set. The exhibit touted 1947 -1957  as the most glamourous and remarkable decade in fashion history. It happened right after World War II when people were beginning to have an interest in things like fashion again and it celebrated designers like Dior and Givenchy. Phantom Thread is firmly set in that golden fashion decade. I applaud the film’s costume designer Mark Bridges who so faithfully recreates the outfts of the golden fashion decade for Reynold Woodcocks’ clients and his wife Alma to wear in the movie. 

Phantom Thread is nominated for best picture at the upcoming Academy Awards. Except for its costumes I have no idea why. 

Other posts……….

The Golden Age of Fashion

Inuit Fashion Show

The Costumes Were Worth the Price of Admission


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To Understand Yourself: Is That a Discovery or a Creation?

I always like to read novels set in the countries we visit. I started my two months in Portugal with Pascal Mercier’s Night Train to Lisbon. It’s the story of Raimund Gregorius, a 57 year old ancient languages teacher in Bern, Switzerland who encounters a Portuguese woman about to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. He saves her life and aburptly leaves his own career and home to pursue her to Lisbon taking along a Portuguese book he finds in a second hand book shop. It is called The Goldsmith of Words and was written by Amadeu de Prado a deceased Portuguese doctor.  

Raimund reads the book and becomes obsessed with finding out about the author. He goes to visit many of the people who knew Amadeu de Prado. As Raimund learns about Amadeu’s life he is inspired by the doctor’s  passion, courage and strong personal relationships. To Raimund it seems the very antithesis of what he views as his own plodding lonely existence back in Switzerland. 

jeremy irons and lean olin

Jeremy Irons plays Raimond in the movie version of Night Train to Lisbon and Lena Olin has the role of the former lover of the doctor who wrote the book The Goldsmith of Words 

The book exams the idea of how the choices we make in life impact us. What were the turning points that could have changed everything? Is it possible even at an older age to throw off our current existence and begin anew? 

There is a lots of heavy talk in this book and huge excerpts of rambling philosophical thinking from The Goldsmith of Words. Sometimes I felt like skipping these sections to get to the plot, but they did have some thought provoking ‘gems’ I bookmarked in my Kindle as I read. 


We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. 

Sometimes, we are afraid of something because we’re afraid of something else

To understand yourself: Is that a discovery or a creation?

So, the fear of death might be described as the fear of not being able to become whom one had planned to be

There were people who read and there were the others. Whether you were a reader or a non-reader was soon apparent. There was no greater distinction between people.

Why do we feel sorry for people who can’t travel? Because, unable to expand externally, they are not able to expand internally either, they can’t multiply and so they are deprived of the possibility of undertaking expansive excursions in themselves and discovering who and what else they could have become

night train to lisbon movieMy friend Rudy helped me find the movie Night Train to Lisbon on his Apple TV and we watched it.  The film took HUGE liberties with the plot, leaving out many characters and simplifying the long passages from The Goldsmith of Words into short statements. It resolved a number of loose ends the book didn’t pursue and was much more plot driven than the book.  

One of my favorite things about both the book and the movie was……. that having spent a week in Lisbon I was able to identify many of the places in which the story was set. Dave and I left for the Algarve in the very same train station where Raimond arrives on The Night Train to Lisbon. 

Other books………..

Reading My Way Through Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Where I Live Now

Seeing The Post in Lisbon


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Seeing The Post in Lisbon With People Who Truly Understand What Freedom of the Press Means

We saw the movie The Post in a large packed theatre in Lisbon.  The film was in English with Portuguese subtitles. It tells the true story of how President Nixon tried to stop American newspapers from printing information from the Pentagon Papers- stolen documents that revealed a government cover up of damning information about the Vietnam War.  The Washington Post published stories using Pentagon Paper materials even though the President threatened legal action, including possible imprisonment of The Washington Post editor and owner. I intitially wondered why so many Portuguese citizens,many of them my age, were so interested in a movie that was essentially about freedom of the press in America. As I thought about it I realized they were probably interested  because they could identify.  Antonio Salazar’s Estado Novo political party held power in Portugal from 1932-1974. Salazar appointed a goverment censorship committee that strictly controlled all forms of media including newspapers. A revolution in 1974 ousted the Estado Novo party and full freedom of the press was restored.  People in Portugal my age can identify with The Post because in their country’s recent history they have lived both through times of complete supression of the free press and complete freedom of the press. 

The Post is considered a particularly timely film for 2018 when the American President is repeatedly attacking the freedom of the press in his country.  According to a rating scale on a website called Reporters Without Borders Portugal actually has a freer press now than the United States.  

Interesting how the country in which you watch a movie can add meaning to its message. 

Other posts………

Cambodia Revisited 

Three Lessons From the Movie Arrival

Childbirth and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

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