Archive for the period drama Category

Close encounters of an unusual kind

Posted in BOOKS! DEAR READER I READ IT, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA, period drama, WATCHED with tags , , , on April 14, 2010 by echostains

 For reasons which will become clearer if you look on my Bookstains’ blog, I have included these clips.  Mysterious eh?  Life is full of these little synchronisations (and where there isn’t, well what’s the harm in helping them along a bit 🙂

You may ask (though it’s more likely you won’t bother, as you just know that you will get a long-winded answer) which came first – the Bookstains piece or this post…….  Well it was the Bookstains piece.

Here’s Mr Darcy, Minding his own business, looking perfectly at home  in his Pemeberely estate….until he spies Lizzie….  


Women are always dreaming about houses: past houses, future houses, dream houses, better houses.  Unfortunately I can’t find a clip in english of the first time that  (why has the new Mrs De Winter  no name?) first sets eyes on Manderley – so here’s her escape route from her odious employer Mrs Van Hopper:-  

And now here’s another encounter (well, more of a re encounter), I have just heard that there has been a remake of the Science Fiction series ‘V’ (2009 actually).  The first part is being shown tonight.  It’s hard to believe that this series dates back to 1983 – which seems like yesterday!  I used to love this.  I have the DVDs of the original but haven’t played them for such a long time.  I just love everything about ‘V’, the story, the dramatic acting, the shapeshifting aliens, the fabulous corniness –  just so entertaining!  I wonder if this new version shall be as good though…..  I can only hope that any changes shall enhance the original – and I will try to keep an open mind.  I still remember the shock of the alien Diana eating that mouse – can the horror be bettered?  

meet the aliens

Watched -Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

Posted in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, period drama, WATCHED with tags , , , , on March 13, 2010 by echostains

A new grown up Alice

I got to watch Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 3D the other night.  I’d never seen a film in 3D before, so didn’t really have a clear idea of what to expect or what to compare it to.  I’m also a big fan of the Alice books, so I was hoping that I wasn’t going to be disappointed.

Drink me at your peril

Alice (played by Mia Wasikowska) is now nineteen penniless and Fatherless.  She is in line to marry an upper class buffoon, but is preoccupied with visions of the white rabbit and dreams of Wonderland.  It seems that she has some unfinished business there.  A party is held to cement the engagement (it seems a forgone conclusion that Alice will accept, given her circumstances).  Everyone waits with bated breath to hear Alice’s acceptance. Unfortunately, the wayward Alice catches sight of the white rabbit again and speeds off after it, down the rabbit hole and back into Wonderland.  Here Alice shrinks and expands with much alacrity – and good effect.

the brave Hatter – mad of course

Wonderland is not as she left it though, there has been much trouble since Alice the child left.  The nineteen year old Alice has grown up and is accused of losing her muchness by all and sundry.  In fact she has a job to convince everyone that she is indeed the original Alice.  Everyone seems madder including the Hatter (played by Depp with suitable madness).  Tweedledum and Tweedledee are both Matt Lucas – only much rounder.  the Bandersnatch is made much of (probably because he is linked in the Jabberwocky poem).  The Jabberwock itself is horrifying and hideous and rather dragon like.  Therefore there an inevitable George and the Dragon scenario ensues with Alice as St………Joan not George.  Curiouser and curiouser…..

Tweedle dee and Tweedle dum double trouble

Wonderland and Looking glass collide and we have the caterpillar stoned out of his very blue head and Dinah the Cheshire cat a wispy vaporising vision.  Watching this in 3D, I was amazed when this grinning feline seemed to come right out of the screen and into the audience!  It seemed so near that you could almost touch it.  There are a few of these little projections – but not too many to spoil the film.

the grinning cheshire cat

I’ve never seen anything in 3D before apart from ‘life’, so I didn’t know what to expect.  But overall I found the film quite entertaining.  Some of the special effects are great and I especially like the way that the Victorian Alice proved herself independent in her thinking.  The story itself left me dissatisfied though and perhaps this was because it is childhood tale taken into adulthood – an adult in a childs world.  Maybe this was deliberate on Burton’s part, to make Alice seem ungainly.  As it is, Alice doesn’t really fit into either world – Wonderland or her real life.

the Red Queen

Bonham Carter is a spoilt nasty cruel little Queen, the exact opposite to her sister the white Gaga like queen who is frankly, just ‘odd’ and a little to like Glinda the good queen out of the Wizard of Oz for my liking.  Yes, there is some Lewis Carroll in this film, but I think in order to avoid disappointment, accept that though there are various components and characters from the books – this is no fairytale or literal translation of Carroll’s books.  once you have accepted that, it’s time to put your 3D glasses on, lie back and enjoy this film!

her sister the white queen

Some images HERE

Watched -‘Carrington’

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, period drama, WATCHED with tags , , , , , , on March 8, 2010 by echostains


This film review has now been transferred to my other blog Bookstains here


Mad March and rabbits too

Posted in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, ART, HISTORY, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA, period drama with tags , , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by echostains

'Spar' and 'Dancer' sculptures by Jan Sweeney

It may be March 1st when I’m writing this – but it will be March 2nd when you read it as I always schedule my posts and I’d forgotten all about St Davids Day.  No point of celebrating it now (those ancestors will be spinning in their graves, along with St Andrew and St Casimir).

the white rabbit by Tenniel

When I think of March 1st (which I obviously did – but too late)  I always think of white rabbits.  We were always told that it was lucky to say ‘white rabbits’ three times when we woke on the 1st day of March.  But why?

There are many variations on ‘White rabbit, white rabbit’ white rabbit’ all mentioned in an interesting article in Wikipedia.  It does get a bit complicated, but the rabbit tradition seems to have travelled all over the world;

“In some areas in Georgia, particularly in the Atlanta area, many people have begun saying “wabbit wabbit” as another variation.” (Wikipedia) 

The mad March hare with straw (a sign of madness) on his head

The wonderfully mad March hare in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is another reminder of this month…and the Tim Burton film.  The hare cannot keep still in the story and is full of energy.

In real life he’s not much different either (though he’s not drinking tea…) he is leaping, twitching and boxing other hares in an overly excited way.  Is it a coincidence that hare’s mating season begins February and carries on until September?   Perhaps they’re at their most erratic in March?

a baby moon gazing hare garden ornament

A lot of hare sculptures are depicted as gazing at the moon.  Pagans believed that a hare staring at the moon brought fertility, regrowth and rebirth.  the hare is sacred to the goddess Eostre which gives her name to Easter and of course the reincarnation of the hare into the Easter bunny!

William Morris tapestry

I won’t be caught out again with my white rabbits (the same applies to every month).  Also, forewarned is forearmed and I shall be looking out for the Ides of March (15th ) too ……..

My latest poem experiment here… ‘Three For March’ Haiku

Jane Sweeney sculptures here

Moon gazing hare garden ornament available from here


Watched: Of Mice and Men (but no rabbits)

Posted in period drama, WATCHED with tags , , , , , on February 21, 2010 by echostains

Of Mice and Men

Probably because I had been recently writing about  regionalism (Wood, Stueart Curry and Hart-Benton) and about the Great Depression, I watched a DVD   I hadn’t watched in quite a while the other night.  ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a novel by John Steinbeck, set in the Great Depression.  It tells the sad story of two wanderers Lennie Small and George Milton who are travelling around California looking for work.

George Milton played by Gary Sinise

“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place. . . . With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.”
– John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, Ch. 1

Steinbeck wrote the book in 1937.   The DVD I watched was first shown on film in 1992 and starred John Malkovich as Lennie Small and  Gary Sinise as George Milton.  In the film it is known that these two are cousins, but I thought they were brothers in the book.  It’s so long ago since I read it, that I can’t remember.  When the two finally obtain work (after being manhunted out of their last job due to an unfortunate incident involving Lennie and a girl) all seems rosy.  George has to look after the huge Lennie who has the  mental abilities of a child and he is tough, but compassionate  and played very well by Gary Sinise – the part of Lennie is a hard act to follow, but Sinise is admirable.

Lennie played by John Malkovich

Lennie played by Malkovich magnificently, just wants to touch things – rabbits especially.  he just want to stroke them and cuddle them.  But he doesn’t know his own strength and always ends up killing the poor animals that come his way.  George tries to protect him, especially from the ranch owners son – who keeps picking on him.

Curley (the rancher’s son) has a wife – known only as Curley’s wife.  She is young and bored and desperate for attention, and Curley is jealous of anyone she speaks to.

A lot of the plot features Lennie and Georges dream.  When they have enough money, they plan to settle down on their very own ranch.  The main attraction for Lennie of owning a ranch of their own is all the rabbits they will have.  This dream keeps Lennie going and he is always requesting this same story from George.  Another ranch hand hears about it and he also wants to throw his money and his lot in with the men.

One of the saddest scenes in the film is when the old ranch hand’s dog gets shot.  One of the other men convinces him that the dog is too old and decrepid and needs putting down.  This ultimately is what happens in the end with poor Lennie.  Up to his neck  in trouble once again (this time murder), George shoots him in the back of the head rather than let the lynch mob deal with  him.

I really must read this book again – and soon!  the other book I have read by Steinbeck is ‘Cannery Row’ . The Great Depression seems such an interesting time, though it brought sorrow and hardship.  Steinbeck lived through a lot of it and this shows in some of his novels – which do have that ring of truth.

Watched – Bleak House (it wasn’t)

Posted in period drama, WATCHED with tags , , , on February 16, 2010 by echostains

I have watched the BBC DVD of Bleak House recently, an episode or two per night.   This Andrew Davies adaptation is an absolute delight.  I have enjoyed these half hour episodes very much indeed!  As usual with Dickens there is always a rather large cast of characters.  This is why the half hour episodes work in establishing them – though some are only short-lived – and no wonder in that atmospheric fog clogged London atmosphere!  Yet another sign of total immersion as far as my enjoyment is concerned.  And I feel that I should mention the music – very understated, gently rippling with just a touch of sadness.

A fine cast indeed

The story of Jarndyce versus Jarndyce, the court case to end all court cases though central to the story, got me yawning a bit when reading the book, but here, in bite sized pieces and played so entertainingly, I found them both amusing and interesting.



There are some notable performances too. Gillian Anderson truly astonished me  as Lady Dedlock!  She moved me as I have never been moved before regarding Dedlock’s character.  I cried several times watching her moving performance –  the meeting with her daughter in particular is a tear jerker.   Whilst clinging to the icy exterior of the outer character, I could not help feeling great sympathy for this woman’s inner torment. This a heartbreaking story all round but with a happy ending – well for some.  The eccentric Miss Flyte lets her caged birds fly free when the court case that has ruined so many finally comes to an end, but not before claiming its last young victim Richard leaving poor Ada a widow with impending motherhood.


creepy Tulkinghorn

Notable performances for me apart from the very excellent Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock were  Charles Dance in particular as Tulkinghorn the heartlessly calculating blackmailer, played with an extraordinary reptilian air!  Nathaniel Parker as the ‘child’ Skimpole – a hideous character  presented in a charming package.  Anna Maxwell Martin beautifully played as Miss Esther Summerson, a soft warm loyal girl with intellect, compassion and strength.   The actress’s expressive eyes conveyed all sometimes without even saying a word.  The thoroughly obnoxious Smallweed(‘Shake me up Judy!) I’d like to!  He was played very convincingly by Philip Davies.  But for sheer Dickensian flavour an actor I’d never heard of before, Burn Gorman stole a lot of the scenes, as Guppy.  Guppy is a great comical character anyway, but this man could have stepped out of any Dickens book – his face, the way he talked, the awkwardness of his gait – fabulous!

Burn Gorman as Guppy

I just love Dickens books, and the next best thing to reading them is to watch a carefully filmed, creatively cast BBC adaptation.  I have many and they are calling out to me….

‘How’s it going? here’s an update’



Euphoria Borealis, Acrylic on canvas aprox 3ft x 4 ft

Time for a little update.  ‘Echostains’ itself is going well, many are reading but, not many are commenting – don’t be shy come forward and show yourselves!  ‘Bookstains’ my other blog is coming along alright, its early days yet, but I am enjoying doing it.  Although I keep saying it, I really do need to put a piece of art work on here from time to time.  So here you are – I give you ‘Euphoria Borealis’ (or Belly Laugh) which was the last painting for my graduation exhibition.  I had just completed a 10,000 word Dissertation, a 5000 word one about my personal project (‘Echostains’) which included 10 large paintings and 2 x 500 word essays as well as course work.  Wouldn’t you be laughing?  Of course I have much more recent work, it’s just a case of getting around to scanning some sketchbook stuff  or photographing the bigger pieces, but I am determined to do it! 




As for my altered book which has disappeared yet again….one day I shall actually finish it!  I will have to revise the way I have documented this book.  I think the best way would be to make a gallery especially for it, so each page is linked with its own artist reference (because the project is an art project, underpinned with art history) and each pages should follow the other, like in a real book.  Lol!  I can see me making a blog just for my altered book!!!….not a bad idea 


The material for my  teapot articles are getting a bit tougher to find.  My favorite one lately is the making of the chocolate teapot.  I shall carry on though.  There’s no shortage of material for the weird and wacky design section either, so I will keep that going.  Some sections, like places are now a thing of the past, but this year we are hoping to go to new places nothing planned yet – except to see Iggy Pop in London in May, but do hope to fit a couple of exhibitions in whilst we’re there. 


‘Let them eat and drink cake!’


Easter cake? why wait

 Just a quick post tonight.  I know it’s not Spring – nor anywhere near it, but I just couldn’t wait to show you this lovely teapot made of cake!  I’ve seen teapot biscuits but I’ve never seen teapot cakes before.  If you would like to make  this one, have a look here.  This is an Easter ones, but I’ve found these teapot cakes come in all sorts of designs and for all occasions.

Here’s a very cute birthday cake – and there are loads more HERE.  People are so inventive with these teapot  designs.  I wouldn’t mind having a go at making one of these cakes myself.  I bet an Arc Deco Clarice Cliff shape would be easier than these full-bodied ones though.

seems a shame to eat it

This green teapot HERE