Friday, 2 December 2016

Fantastic beasts and where to find them (2016)

Last week I went to the cinema to see the film Fantastic beasts and where to find them. 
The screenplay is written by JK. Rowling and it is set in the Harry Potter universe.

It tells the story of Newt Scamander, an English scientists who comes to New York in 1926 with a suitcase full of magical beasts. He path crosses that of non-wizard Jacob Kowalski, some of the beasts escape and Scamander and Kowalski must try to prove that the havoc in New York is not caused by the magical beasts from the suitcase, but by something much darker and much more dangerous.

I felt a bit weird going to the cinema on my own to see a fantasy-film, but it turned out I was not the only one who was there alone!

I loved the movie very much. I had not really a good idea of what to expect, but I just hoped it would be good. And it was. I appreciate that JK. Rowling does not shy away from darker story-lines, and in this film somebody dies that should not have died.

There were a couple of storylines and a little surprise at the end. I am curious to see where this will go!
Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and Scamander (Eddy Redmayne) 
Eddy Redmayne is great as the shy and boyish but charming Newt Scamander and I loved Jacob Kowalski, who is so impressed by the miracles he sees in this new world. It was very endearing.

I also liked the fantastic beasts very much (some of them so cute and other so funny and others so beautiful!) and the special effects (I saw the film in 3-D) were very spectacular. I loved the twenties-atmosphere and the humor in it.
Tina and Scamander.
Love that twenties-atmosphere!
In short, when the film was over, I needed a long time to get out of this new realm and get back to the real world. I heard there will be four more films following this one, and if all of those are as good as this first one, then the Harry Potter films will have a worthy successor.
Newt Scamander, perfectly cast. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Luxury on a budget

I must admit I do enjoy luxury. I anjoy going to the hairdresser or getting a beauty-treatment. This is a little treat for myself and I enjoy these moments immensly.

I also love a good cream and great beautyproducts, only I am not prepared to spend hundreds of euro's on things that can be bought cheaper. It is, I think, a question of looking a bit better for items than just buying the first expensive item you see.

A cream that costs a hundred euro's does not have to be much better than a cream that costs fifteen euro's.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered this new line at my local drugstore. It is a Dutch drugstore and it is their own brand.

It is not a huge line, three different types (Jasmine and Vanilla, Lime and Mint and Elderflower and Raspberry)
and a couple of products (f.e. lip-balm, handcream, bodycream, showergel etc) in each type.

I bought three different items. I bought the Elderflower and Raspberry lip-balm, the Lime and Mint handcream and the Jasmine and Vanilla body cream.
The bodycream and the handcream are very nice. Rich and smooth and it gets absorbed really well.
The lip-balm it the only thing that does not live up to my expectations. It is not rich enough for my dry lips and within  a couple of minutes my lips feel dry again. So that is not a success, but the other two are.

I think the items look really nice and luxurious, but I can tell you that I did not spend more than 12 euro's in total on these three.
Affordable luxury is the best!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Exhibition about Daubigny, Monet and van Gogh

The French painter Charles-Francois Daubigny (1817-1878) was a famous landscape-painter.

He was the first artist who worked outside and he became an inspiration and role-model for the Impressionists.

Daubigny had a light touch and loose way of painting, and for him the details were not as important as the whole of the image.

He had a boat and he used this to paint directly from the river and paint what he saw.
Later, Claude Monet would also buy himself a boat to work from.
Monet, his studio-boat
Vincent van Gogh saw them both as examples and role-models.

The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam now has a beautiful exhibition about these three painters. I loved seeing the paintings done by Daubigny, because I did not really know his work.

Often they grouped paintings together from Daubigny, Monet and van Gogh. It shows how much attention van Gogh paid to the other painters and how much he wanted to learn, he never thought his own abilities were enough.
Field with poppies, Daubigny

Field with poppies, Claude Monet

Field with poppies, Vincent van Gogh
This exhibition has paintings from over 35 collections and can be seen in Amsterdam until the end of January 2017.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

DVD's about (Jackie) Kennedy

These past weeks I have been watching a few series on DVD about president Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy in particular.

Of course, there are always (minor) errors in films or series about historical events or real people, nothing is ever perfect, but the ones I saw were quite good on the whole. Well, with one exception.

The first miniseries I saw was A woman named Jackie (1991). This has three episodes each lasting 1 1/2 hours. It begins when Jackie Bouvier is still a young girl and her parent's marriage deteriorates. She goes to college and becomes a journalist and then meets a young politician, Jack Kennedy. She marries him, he becomes president and in 1963 he was shot.

A couple of years after his death, Jackie married Aristotle Onassis, only this was in the end not a happy match. After he died, she returned to journalism.

I loved this series because it spans almost her whole life and it gave some insight in why she married Onassis (something I never really understood). I thought the casting was quite good, Roma Downey gave the adult Jackie the right amount of class and Stephen Collins had JFK's boyish charm and played him very well. My only complaint is that the ending is a little abrupt.

The second series I saw was the excellent Kennedy (1983), with Martin Sheen as president Jack Kennedy.
This is a great series. Martin Sheen is the best Kennedy I have ever seen. (funnily enough, when I think about JFK, I think about Martin Sheen playing JFK, not the real JFK)
This miniseries focusses on his time as president, from the Bay of Pigs invasion, the civil rightsmovement, the Cuban missile crisis until the end in Dallas.

Despite the fact there is a lot of politics in this series, it never stops to be interesting and you still get a lot of information about their private lives. I loved how much attention they paid to details.

I loved how Bobby Kennedy (John Shae) tried to get a grip on the FBI that was run by the scary Edgar J. Hoover who wanted to follow his own path. Bobby wanted to prosecute organised crime and promote civil rights, but Hoover was more interested in the president's sex-life.

Blair Brown was an really great Jackie Kennedy, and the rest of the supporting cast was also very good!

Both these series were good, but I am afraid I was not that happy with Jackie, Ethel and Joan, women of Camelot (2001). This series tells the story of the women who were married to the Kennedy brothers. Jackie was married to Jack, Ethel to Bobby and Joan to Ted.

The casting here is horrible, I have never seen such terrible casting in my life. Daniel Hugh Kelly is ridiculous as JFK, Ethel is made completely unlikable, and Sarah Lafleur as Marilyn Monroe was so bad that is was insulting.

It was bad acting and bad storytelling all around, so on the whole, I really do not recommend this film!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Finding peace and quiet

A couple of weeks ago I had some time between classes and a meeting and I went to the Catholic cemetary near school. I needed some quiet time for myself, to find some peace to restore my energy to get me through the rest of the day.

As it turned out, the cemetary was the perfect spot for this. I loved walking here, looking at the graves, some old and some new and I sensed how important it is to remember our dead and how precious life is. It is good to stand still sometimes and realize this.

Some old graves

If this is not a symbol of comfort, I do not know what it. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Augustus, John Williams

The Dutch cover
For many in Rome the Republic was the ideal state, and they wanted to prevent anybody becoming king again. When Julius Caesar was appointed dictator for life, some people thought the next step for him would be to become king, so they killed him in 44 BC to prevent this.

With Julius Caesar dead, there was chaos in Rome and nobody knew what would happen. The murderers thought they had saved the Roman Republic, Marc Anthony wanted to punish the murderers and then there was the unknown factor of Octavian.

He was a young man, nephew of Caesar and nobody knew much about him. And nobody thought he mattered.

But this pale and sickly young man without experience managed to see through every conspiracy, get the right allies at the right and was not afraid to make difficult decisions. And he won. After a long period of civil war and many deaths, he finally held all the power in 27 BC. He did not call himself emperor, but rather first citizen and he would rule over Rome for over forty years. 

Augustus is John Williams third book and he won many prizes with it.

The book begins with the murder of Julius Caesar when Octavian has to claim his inheritance. He has a few good friends, like Agrippa, but at the same time he cannot trust anyone anymore and has to be vigilant at all times.

This becomes clear in the second part when Augustus has been the ruler for some time and he needs to secure an heir. His daughter Julia is a pawn in the marriage game, and finally Augustus has to banish her to a small island because she became a pawn in another game against Augustus.

In the last part of the book Augustus looks back on his life and asks himself if it has been worth it.

The book is set up in letters and I loved how this made you feel like the real Romans were talking. People who know Octavian at the beginning may have a different opinion on him after forty years ruling because they now know what the outcome is of some events, but also because their relationship with Octavian has changed.

I also liked it very much how each person sounds differently. Marc Anthony was a loudmouth and you can read this in his letters, while Cicero tries to cover all angels and Agrippa cannot see any wrong in anything Octavian does.

Augustus himself does not speak until the third part of the book, but still you get a good idea of this very interesting and unusual man.

I have read how many people needed some time to get ‘into the novel’. I did not have this problem, but I do have a very good idea of Roman history and this may have helped me in this respect. But if you do struggle a bit with the first part, it is a book that rewards perseverance and I am sure you will end up loving it!

Stoner is still my favorite John Williams novel, but for me Augustus is not far behind.

Published in 1972

Saturday, 12 November 2016

If it be your will, Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen 1934-2016
If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will
If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing

From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing

If it be your will
If there is a choice
Let the rivers fill
Let the hills rejoice
Let your mercy spill
On all these burning hearts in hell
If it be your will
To make us well

And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be your will

If it be your will

One of the most beautiful songs by the man with the most beautiful voice on earth, Leonard Cohen. 
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