Sunday, 17 August 2014

Not exactly a murder mystery...

I watched Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal yesterday and was totally blown away by how good it was!  I know that sounds incredibly stupid and naive seeing as it's an acknowledged classic, but for some reason I thought the film would literally be two guys playing chess on a beach.  And let's face it, that sounds pretty boring.  Happily, it's so much more than that.

It seems to encompass every major human emotional state.  There's love (maternal and carnal), fear of death, jealousy, greed, pride - the list goes on!  I know these seem quite dark, but there's plenty of witty banter and even a slightly Carry On-esque seduction between the manager of the acting troupe and a saucy maiden.  All it's missing is the Benny Hill theme tune!

My favourite scene is a beautiful moment where the knight's party is sitting enjoying 'freshly milked milk' and wild strawberries with the travelling actors.  It feels like an oasis of tranquility, and it's so honest and realistic that it took me straight back to summer holidays when I was a child.  When it felt like we had all the time in the world to just hang out.  There was no rush to get things done, no pressure, no deadlines, no horizons.  We were simply enjoying life!

This was the first time I'd seen Max Von Sydow in a Swedish speaking role, and I found it quite fun visualising him as Ming the Merciless, or Frederick in Hannah and Her Sisters.  He's also a lot younger here than I'd ever seen him before, and I'm sure they consciously styled him to make the most of his killer cheekbones.
Finally, I think Death looks rather like Darth Vader without his helmet - what do you think?
Hi, I'm Death, fancy a game of chess?

So for anyone who hasn't already seen the film, I'd like to strongly recommend that you do.  I mean that I STRONGLY RECOMMEND you see this film, it's a deserved classic.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Hello again

It's been a while!  In fact I almost forgot about this blog, but I never lost interest in murder mysteries.

At the moment I'm listening to Cat Among the Pigeons, read by Hugh Fraser (such a lovely voice).  I put off buying this audiobook for quite a while as I remember not being particularly taken with the book.  However, I'd listened to the other audiobooks I had on file over and over again and felt like something new.  I'm glad I did as there's a sprawling cast of well-drawn characters and although there's an international aspect to the story, on the main it's got a quite restricted setting (girls' boarding school) which gives it a 'mystery weekend party' feel.  I'm really quite enjoying it so far - and will be even more so when Poirot turns up!

Hugh Fraser in 'Murder in Mesopotamia'.  Doesn't he look good in a hat.

Today I went out to the shops quite early to get some food in, as there's apparently quite a storm a-brewing!  I was fairly done-in by the time I got back, seeing as I'd traipsed around North and East London for about 3 hours in the sun.  At least there was a nice breeze!

A view from my back door - there are dark clouds ahead!

So this afternoon I didn't feel too bad about settling in for a bit of TV viewing.  I saw an episode of Columbo on one of the 5 channels (can't remember which now) that I hadn't seen all the way through before, so I set it to tape while I did some tidying up.  Yes, I know it wasn't really taping on a tape, but it's a hard habit to break.

The Columbo episode was called 'Publish or Perish' and it featured Jack Cassidy, who was also in the Steven Spielberg directed episode 'Murder by the Book'.  Both of these episodes involve the death of a writer on the verge of leaving Jack's character - in one they're writing partners, in the other they're writer and publisher.  Isn't that a funny coincidence?  Another strange fact is that in 'Publish or Perish' the writer is played by none other than Mickey Spillane!

Jack Cassidy appears in a total of 3 Columbo episodes, in the last of which he plays a magician.  Strangely enough, I don't recall ever seeing him in anything else.  In all 3 Columbo's he seems to play very similar characters.  I'd like to see him in another programme entirely to figure out whether he was always the same mixture of clever-dick, smarmy, ladies-man.  That's not a criticism, because he's really compelling viewing - he makes you feel creeped-out but at the same time you can see the humanity in his characters.

Tell me honestly, does my tie go with this moustache?

One final fun-fact about Jack Cassidy that I found on IMDB - he was David Cassidy's father.  And he used to be married to Shirley Jones who appeared in a couple of MSW episodes.  This is just another reason for Kevin Bacon to stand aside and make way for the Six Degrees of Angela Lansbury!