Book Review -The House on Foster Hill

SUMMARY

Two years after the suspicious death of her husband, Kaine Prescott is still mired in grief and guilt. She is also wrestling with fear over strange occurrences which continue to happen to her. So, Kaine purchases an old house in her ancestral home town of Wisconsin and flees her life in San Diego. She intends to renovate the house as a way to honor her husband and start her life over. But, the house is in worse condition than she realized. And the same strange occurrences follow her to the house in Wisconsin. As they continue to escalate, Kaine decides to dig into the decades old mysteries which surround the property.

A century earlier, Kaine’s ancestor Ivy Thorpe is also caught up in mysterious events surrounding the abandoned Foster house, when a young girl is found dead on the property. Like Kaine, Ivy too seeks answers as a way of distracting her from the grief of a dead brother and the abandonment of a close friend. But Ivy’s single-minded commitment to discovering the girl’s identity, puts her at odds with the recently returned Joel Cunningham. It also puts her in danger as the killer is still loose and willing to silence Ivy for good. Continue reading “Book Review -The House on Foster Hill”

William Holden Blogathon -Dear Ruth (1947)

William Holden is not an actor I pay much attention too. Though I’ve seen many of his films, I usually watch them due to interest in his co-stars more so than him.

But when The Wonderful World of Cinema, The Flapper Dame &  Love Letters to Old Hollywood announced a blogthon in his honor which just happens to coincide with his 100th birthday, I decided now is the time for me to take another look at William Holden. Luckily, TCM is also celebrating Holden this month and airing many of his movies.

Dear Ruth

The Wilkins family is your typical American family. Traffic cop judge Harry Wilkins (Edward Arnold) shares a happy and balanced marriage with wife Edie (Mary Philips) and their two daughters Ruth (Joan Caulfield) and Miriam (Mona Freeman). The only conflict in their household generally arises from teenaged Miriam’s passion for political causes. Not to mention her general meddling in the lives of her family members. For her part, Ruth is a mature young woman, ready to settle down to marriage and a home of her own with her long term beau, Albert. Continue reading “William Holden Blogathon -Dear Ruth (1947)”

Foreign Film Friday -Le Bonheur (1965)

SUMMARY

François and Thérèse are happily married with two young children. During the week Francois works as a carpenter for his uncle and on the weekends the young family enjoys exploring the nearby countryside. Their life is full of bonheur (happiness) , perhaps even idyllic.

But then François meets Émilie to whom he is instantly attracted. It’s not long before they being an affair, even though she knows that he is married. François seems to believe that his affair with Émilie is not subtracting from what he has with his wife. He doesn’t love Thérèse any less. Instead, his love with Émilie only adds to his overall happiness. But when, he finally confesses to his wife about the relationship and his viewpoint, tragedy ensues.

MY THOUGHTS

With the exception of a Netlix series I’m still in the middle of watching, my last couple of foreign film choices have not been favorites. Le Bonheur is very highly rated by IMDb reviewers which is one of the reasons, I wanted to watch it. Many of these reviews touch on the historical, technical and artistic aspects of the film. But as solely a film fan not a film critic, I tend to judge movies based on how I feel about them. And of course as the title of my website states, I am a story enthusiast. So the story is usually the most important aspect of a film for me.

First, let me just say, Le Bonheur is one of the most visually beautiful films I’ve seen. The scenes are filled with vibrant color and light (which are two things I love). I can almost smell the wildflowers and feel the brush of the wind on my skin when the family is cavorting in the country.

There is also the fact that François and Thérèse are so obviously happy, not only in love with each other, but with their children. Their two tots are utterly adorable.

Though this film is beautiful and the family charming, the story left much to be desired. It took a while for the story line of Le Bonheur to appear. For a while I felt like I was watching home videos of a young family just enjoying their life without any plot or timeline. Looking back from the end, I realize the director was most likely setting the scene for a contented family in order to show in stark contrast the effects of François’ choices. It isn’t until he takes up with Émilie, that the film felt like it adopted a pace that was going somewhere. Even then, it seemed longer to me than it’s 79 minute running time.

The main problem for me with Le Bonheur is that I found the story utterly repugnant. My personal beliefs and mindset cannot conceive of adultery (or cheating) being in any way acceptable. Though François explains his point of view, I cannot agree with it. He genuinely believes that his love affair with Émilie is additional happiness to what he already shares with his wife and children. I found this viewpoint either selfish or very naïve, especially with the tragedy that results from it.  What is worse, is that he himself suffers no consequences. He just blithely continues on with his life, suffering no true grief, guilt or remorse for what his actions have wrought.

At the beginning of Le Bonheur, I thought François was a sweet, loving, dedicated husband and father. As the film progressed, I found myself shocked and appalled by him. For me, he starts as a hero and ends as a villain, even though he never exemplifies any real villain tendencies.

Although, I fully appreciated the beauty of Le Bonheur, the story ruined it for me, so I can’t fully recommend it.

 

Book Review -The Scarlet Pimpernel

SUMMARY

The year is 1792 and the French Revolution is in full swing. In Paris, the guillotine claims scores of aristocratic victims every day. However, one brave man known only as the Scarlet Pimpernel somehow continues to rescue a small percentage of the victims right out from under the watchful eyes of the bloodthirsty French citizens. Other than his mysterious moniker, nothing much is known of him, other than that he is an Englishman of means.

Meanwhile, in England. Sir Percy Blakeney, has been married to the celebrated French beauty Marguerite St. Just for about a year. In that time, they have become the most celebrated couple in England. They are even personal friends of the Prince of Wales. Marguerite is not only renowned for her beauty but also her wit. Many wonder how and why she married Sir Percy as he is considered one of the dullest men in England, despite his immense wealth and fancy clothes.

The fates of the Blakeneys abruptly changes when incriminating evidence is found on Marguerite’s beloved brother Armand. The French spy Chauvelin uses it to blackmail the lady into finding out the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Feeling cornered and unable to confide in her dim witted husband, Marguerite agrees. But what she eventually discovers is a shocking and well-kept secret which not only endangers the life of the English hero but her husband as well. Continue reading “Book Review -The Scarlet Pimpernel”

Film Review – The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

SUMMARY

After the devastating losses of their family restaurant and their matriarch, the Kadam family leaves India and heads for Europe. They wander, searching for a place where they can settle. Papa Kadam notices a property for sale in the small French village of Saint-Antonin. There are many reasons why it is not a good investment. One of which is a successful Michelin star rated restaurant only one hundred feet across the road. His family names other reasons to be deterred; no one in the French village will be interested in Indian food, the previous owners were not able to run a restaurant there successfully among others. But Papa’s conversations with his deceased wife and his confidence in his son Hassan’s skills as a cook override all other concerns.

Hassan is excited to put to use the skills his mother taught him in the kitchen. He has also befriended a local girl named Marguerite. She works for the formidable Madame Mallory in the restaurant across the road. Hassan realizes that in order for his family business to succeed they must all adapt to the culture and the food. Marguerite is helpful to him in this regard. But Madame Mallory does everything she can to make it difficult for their business to succeed. She lodges complaints with the town mayor about minor infractions and purchas up all the ingredients they need before they can get to the market.

When a bigoted man attacks the Kadam restaurant, Hassan is injured. The war between Papa Kadam and Madame Mallory comes to a head, with a surprising resolution. Suddenly, enemies reluctantly make peace. This changes the course of several lives, not the least of which is Hassan’s.

For the full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat.

 

 

Bette Davis Blogathon -Winter Meeting (1948)

THE INCOMPARABLE BETTE DAVIS

There is no disputing the fact that Bette Davis is one of the most talented actresses to ever work in Hollywood. Her success can be partly attributed to this talent and partly to her passion for her craft. With Davis, career always came first.

I cannot deny Bette Davis is quite the screen presence. Watching her on screen is like watching a force of nature. No matter what role she filled, whether the character was reserved and demure or aggressive and larger than life, Davis always imbued them with a backbone of steel, an unwavering stance against compromise and an inner intensity which was shown in her eyes. There is a line from The Philadelphia Story which Jimmy Stewart’s character says to Katharine Hepburn’s haughty heiress, “(There is) a magnificence that comes out of your eyes, in your voice, in the way you stand there, in the way you walk. You’re lit from within, Tracy. You’ve got fires banked down in you, hearth-fires and holocausts.” I’ve always thought this line was the perfect description of Bette Davis.

With all that being said, as much as I admire Davis, she is not on my list of favorite actresses. Much like a strong kick in the pants, I must take her in small doses or take the risk of being completely overwhelmed. Still, I have worked my way through a large portion of her films. So, when I ran across Winter Meeting, I was shocked to realize that there was a Davis film I had never heard of before. Of course, my interest was immediately piqued and it became my choice of entry for this year’s Bette Davis Blogathon. Continue reading “Bette Davis Blogathon -Winter Meeting (1948)”

Feature Film Review -Paul, Apostle of Christ

SUMMARY

Luke, the Greek physician of Biblical fame, arrives covertly in Rome. He is there to visit the apostle Paul in prison. Upon his arrival, he takes refuge with the Christian community in Rome, who are led by Priscilla and Aquila. Extreme measures are necessary to guard the community’s safety and location, thanks to prior events. The emperor Nero, has been persecuting Christians ever since accusing them of a fire which devastated Rome.  Priscilla and Aquila are contemplating whether they should remain in the city or flee for their lives and ask Luke to inquire of Paul for wisdom.

Thanks to some influential friends, Luke is able to regularly visit Paul although Mauritius, the Roman director of the prison keeps a close watch on these visits. As the local Christians ponder their future in Rome, and Luke confides in Paul his own anger and doubts, the two men agree that Luke will record Paul’s own journey of faith. As Paul’s life and those of the Roman Christians hang in the balance, they hope that Paul’s story will serve as an encouragement and reminder of the work of Jesus which will outlast their own lives. Continue reading “Feature Film Review -Paul, Apostle of Christ”