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Oscars 2015: Birdman soars, but Imitation Game moves

London, Hollywood assesses the Oscars

London, Hollywood

Eddie Redmayne Eddie Redmayne at the 2015 Oscars, where he won best Actor

After months of jockeying for position, the Oscars had settled down to being a two-horse race between the two “B” movies, Boyhood and Birdman. The Globes gave no clue, since they split Best Picture into Comedy and Drama and honoured both films. Last night at the Academy Awards, Birdman emerged as the big winner with four of the big ones: best picture, director, original screenplay and cinematography.

Boyhood had to make do with best supporting actress, which was no mean feat given that Meryl Streep was nominated in that category. Meryl took defeat more than graciously. When Patricia Arquette gave a speech thumping the tub for gender equality and equal pay for women (the hacked Sony emails having showed how culpable Hollywood was in this regard), Meryl whooped, pointed at the stage, and shouted “Yes! Yes! Yes!” like…

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Repression art

This is definitely worth a read…

Standing Ovation, Seated

Wars have inspired many artists throughout the centuries to come up with art glorifying the victors or lamenting losses, or thinking of the ways wars make people stop being human. We talked about it here, in the War Art post.

Surprisingly, repressions against a country’s own people have largely failed to produce anything that would be similarly impressive. I can understand why. First, killing or imprisoning your own people for entertaining ideas the boss doesn’t approve of is a relatively new concept. Second, artists who have enough strength of spirit to come up with such art are usually repressed first. Unless, of course, they join the other side, but even that does not guarantee their safety.

Repression art done by the descendants of the repressed often turns out to be a trite repetition of the kind of war art that talks about the plight of the defeated, with truly unique insights…

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The Difference Between Men And Women…Very, Very, True!

Read this on The Journal’s blog – it’s brilliant and absolutely hilarious!


couplegfLet’s say a guy named Fred is attracted to a woman named Martha. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening…

when they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Martha, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: “Do you realize that, as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six months?”

And then, there is silence in the car.To Martha, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation…

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Head or Heart?

The observant among you may have noticed it’s been a while since I posted on this blog. This is because, like many others, we’ve been partaking of the annual mass migration from north to south in the hope of finding a bit of sun, meals we don’t have to cook ourselves and some quality family time together.

Somewhat eccentrically, we prefer to avoid airports and planes in favour of stuffing the family car with everything we could possibly need – and much that we don’t – and taking a leisurely drive through France towards Italy, where we have friends and relatives.

William the Conqueror's Castle, Falaise, Normandy.

William the Conqueror’s Castle, Falaise, Normandy.

Done properly, the travelling is as much a part of the holiday as the time we spend at our destination. We’ve got it down to a fine art; crossing the channel in the evening, spending the night in one of the picturesque towns in Northern France such as Falaise or Reims and then heading on south.

I enjoy the car journeys. I’m lucky because the spouse prefers to do the driving, so I can spend the time watching the countryside gradually change as I plot out story ideas in my head. On the way there, you have the anticipation of what’s to come; on the way back, the sense of eking out the time away just that little bit longer.

Amiens Cathedral

Amiens Cathedral

We’ve got into the habit of spending our last night away in Amiens, which has a stunning 13th century cathedral and an attractive river frontage lined with a plethora of bars and restaurants. A slap-up dinner is always a nice way to bring the holiday to a proper conclusion.

We spent quite a lot of the time away discussing the relative merits of France and Italy. I love them both for different reasons. Italy is warm and convivial – especially as we tend to spend much of the time with family. The food is incomparable and the landscape stunning.

Al Mare in Tuscany

‘Al Mare’ in Tuscany

However Italy these days has a run-down air about it and our friends complain about declining public services and the difficulty of finding work, especially for young people. France always feels slightly cooler and less welcoming, but just seems to work better, with excellent roads and the sense of things being well organised and generally better managed.

If I had to choose between the two, it would be a tough decision. My heart would always plump for Italy, but my head tells me that France would definitely be more ‘liveable.’


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In memory of Robin Williams

Please take a look at this beautiful and moving tribute to Robin Williams from Blood ‘n Shadows Writing.

Blood 'N' Shadow Writings

I know this is not my usual post. But I made this last night and I want to share it with all of you. I did the instrumentals a few months ago, and so I integrated it in the video. Enjoy!

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Someone once told me that it’s only when you accept the reality of death that you can really start to live. There’s been a great deal of comment about Stephen Sutton, who lost his battle against cancer this week, though not before he’d succeeded in raising nearly three and half million pounds on behalf of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Stephen Sutton - a thumbs up to life.

Stephen Sutton – a thumbs up to life.

We will never know how Stephen’s life might have panned out, had he not been diagnosed with cancer at the age of 15, but one thing is indisputable; faced with certain death, he chose to live triumphantly, passionately, generously and more fully than most of us achieve in a lifetime.

The exhibition of Henri Matisse’s cut-outs at Tate Britain tells a similar story. What a luminous, inspiring show it is! The cut-outs were produced towards the end of Matisse’s life, after he’d undergone a major operation that greatly reduced his mobility and made it hard for him to stand at an easel or execute the precise brush-strokes needed to paint.

Many in such circumstances would have allowed themselves a well-earned retirement, but not Matisse. For him, ill-health and old age were no match for the irresistible the urge to live and create. Abandoning palette and brushes, he began instead to fashion a whole new and innovative way of working.

Matisse working on a cut-out

Matisse working on a cut-out

Matisse originally developed the technique of cutting shapes out of coloured paper to help in the composition of his canvases. He loved how paper cut-outs allowed him to move things around and try out a myriad of different arrangements that he could adjust and re-adjust until the image was perfect.

Following his surgery however, the paper models came to take the place of painted images altogether. As video footage shows, Matisse was remarkably adept at cutting, his scissors slicing through the paper in fluid, wholly confident movements. He found this liberating, remarking, “only what I created after the illness constitutes my real self: free, liberated.”

Matisse’s acute visual sense, developed over a life-time, enabled him to see how apparently bizarre or random shapes could take on meaning and potency within his carefully constructed schema. As an artist he had a terrific capacity for expressing dynamic movement, which, coupled with his unparalleled sense of colour, endows his work with huge vitality, a sense of lightness, energy and joy.

The cover of Jazz

The cover of Jazz

As Matisse grew older, his paintings became ever more youthful. The cut-outs feature stars and sea-creatures, tumbling acrobats, dancers and doves, floating coral, beating hearts, flowers bursting with colour. They’re extraordinarily life-affirming. Matisse finally died in 1954 at the age of 84 but he kept on working right up to the end.


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Bradbury, Roosevelt, my what tales you must tell!!!

See this from Cher for a little slice of Hollywood history!

The Chicago Files


This post is the final in the Los Angeles/Long Beach series.  The above photo is the famous Bradbury Building.  It was built in 1893, and has been the focal point of many movies and fictional stories.  But wait, let’s take a look inside.  You won’t believe your eyes!


Have you ever seen anything like it?  The Bradbury Building was used in the movie, “Blade Runner”.


The building houses office of Internal Affairs of the Los Angeles Police Department.  Here’s another photo showing the other end of the building:


Perhaps you are thinking this building couldn’t possibly get any more unique! Ah, look at this:


This is the elevator! To use it, there is a ‘call button’ to press.  A on-duty guard literally has to crank a wheel-type device and up you go! How’s that for ‘old time travel’!

This building was one of the most unusual I have ever seen. …

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