One of the things I like about following the careers of film actors, is when I’m introduced to a film through them that I might not have stumbled across otherwise. Ewan McGregor in ‘Little Voice’, Richard Armitage in ‘Sparkhouse’, James McAvoy in ‘Starter for 10’ (I love Benedict Cumberbatch in that one too!), and now Dan Stevens in Hilde. I can safely say that I would not have come across Hilde on my own and just decided to watch it on a whim, because it’s in German, and I (unfortunately) only speak English. but thanks to the wonder of subtitles, I was able to follow along and ended up really enjoying this film.


Hilde is about the German actress/singer Hildegard Knef. It shows what she went through in order to follow her dream and become an actress, the hurdles and hardships she had to overcome. First as a young woman in Germany during World War II, then as a War Bride trying to catch a break in Hollywood, and finally as a well known name back on her native soil-  though maybe not always ‘known’ for the right reasons. Hilde had spirit and tenacity in abundance, but also a good dose of naivete. She had a tendency to jump into things feet first, which always seemed to come back and bite her later.

being refused service, because of a risque film she was in


So by the time she finds herself back in Germany as a well known actress, she’s a bit rough around the edges and cynical. This is when Dan Stevens steps in, playing an actor by the name of David Cameron, who is set to costar with Hilde in a movie.


The first meeting between Hilde and David is not all sunshine and roses. He jovially introduces himself, while Hilde tells him to be quiet because she needs to ‘shut down’. He eventually breaks through her protective wall with some self depreciating British charm.


And so she invites him to a party that she’s hosting, enticing him to attend by promising that industry insiders will be there. When he shows up though, some surprises are in store. He surprises her by speaking German (he communicated in English up until this point), and she surprises him by being the only one present; she canceled the party to spend time with him instead.

a woman who knows what she wants.


What follows is a love story that I really liked. It was short, compared to the rest of the movie, but meaningful to me in the way that David connected with Hilde. He understood her, didn’t judge her, kept calm through her storms of fear and doubt, and encouraged her to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.


There’s a ‘morning after’ scene with Hilde and David in bed together that I find particularly sweet. They are so playful with one another, caressing hands and full of smiles. She gestures for him to listen, and when he does but seems confused about what he’s supposed to be hearing, she says it’s her happiness. He then proclaims that it’s a historic moment because Hilde is happy! it’s really cute.


In another scene, Hilde has finally gathered the nerve to record a song professionally. David has never heard her sing before and shows up in the recording studio to watch. The person working the soundboard tells him that she’s really nervous and David says he’s already made up his mind to tell her that she’s brilliant, regardless of what she sounds like. The song she sings is so good though, so heartfelt, that it makes him cry. You can see how proud of her he is, how much he admires and loves her.


I found the film interesting for it’s historical subject matter, inspiring for Hilde’s determination to become an actress at any cost, and touching for the emotional support that she finally finds in David.


I’m not familiar with the real actress/singer Hildegard Knef, so I can’t say whether Heike Makatsch captured her mannerisms and essence, but I liked the deeper sounding voice that she used for the character.


Dan Stevens’ eyes hypnotized (like always) and the floppy hair style just added to his charm; I’ve always had a weak spot for the floppy haired look.


I liked hearing him speak his lines in German too. I can’t rightfully judge whether he spoke it well or not, but it sounded nice to my ears. Watching this film was an all around pleasant experience: good story, nice music, and a delightful Dan Stevens. win/win!

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Posted by on April 27, 2017 in Movies


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Movie Challenge: favorite action/adventure


2.) Your Favorite Action/Adventure Movie
answer: The Dark Knight


The Dark Knight is the sequel to Batman Begins, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale. I watched the first installment and liked it but it wasn’t something that stuck with me afterwards. This second installment, is one of those movies that I watch again and again. If it’s playing on television I will always turn it on, no matter if it’s almost over or just beginning.


I like the flow of the story, how it’s separated into several storylines that all fit together.
The Joker and The Mob

‘This city deserves a better class of criminal, and I’m going to give it to them.’


Harvey Dent and Rachel, and Bruce Wayne

Harvey: the famous Bruce Wayne, Rachel’s told me everything about you.
Bruce: I certainly hope not.


Batman and The Joker

‘you won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun.’


Overall I like the theme of the movie, the sacrifices that Bruce Wayne makes for the greater good and his unwavering faith in humanity. The Joker tests his resolve, and Bruce’s affection for Rachel makes this doubly difficult for him to resist, but he believes in his cause so strongly that he doesn’t waver. In the end, he’s even willing to sacrifice Batman’s reputation in exchange for Harvey Dent’s, because it’s what’s best for the city of Gotham at that time.

Jim Gordon: He’s the hero Gotham deserves but not the one it needs right now… He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.


Some of my favorite parts: when an employee of Wayne enterprises comes to Lucius Fox and tells him that he’s figured out that Batman is actually Bruce Wayne and he has proof that he’s willing to reveal to the public if his demands aren’t met. the way Morgan Freeman delivers his response, and then the way the employee’s smug face changes as he realizes his blunder.

another favorite is when Bruce is stitching himself up after a fight. Alfred asks if he got mauled by a tiger and Bruce says it was a dog, then clarifies that it was a big dog. his smile a few lines later is enjoyable too.

This movie marked the first time I had seen a movie more than once in the cinema. I’m usually someone who will watch the movie once, then rent it, and then buy it and watch it with abandon. This time I saw it three times! Two times in it’s regular form and a third time in IMAX. The parts of the movie that were shot specifically to be shown in IMAX form were amazing! It truly did feel like I was there and part of the story. The regular parts of the movie though, weren’t as enjoyable for me. I get motion sickness very easily and I wear glasses because of an astigmatism, which sometimes affects 3D viewing and prevents me from sitting too close to the screen. So although seeing Christian Bale up close on a gigantic screen should have been enjoyable, it crossed my eyes a bit and made me feel sick.

such a shame.


As for the actual ‘action’ of the movie, I really liked the car chases and the motorcycles, and all of Batman’s gadgets.

The Dark Knight is a movie that spends much time replaying on my television screen because it makes the comic book world seem real, not like a cartoon. Batman is just an ordinary man (albeit with extraordinary financial resources), not someone with special powers or who comes from another planet. I like my fantasies to be based in reality, somewhat. It makes it easier to step inside the story and pretend that it’s real.

next up: favorite horror movie

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Posted by on April 27, 2017 in Movies


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Movie Challenge: favorite movie

I love to answer questionnaires, which in the blogging world often take form as ‘challenges’. I’ve wanted to do a movie themed challenge for awhile now but haven’t been able to find a set of questions that I liked, so I ended up combining two sets instead. I tried not to think too hard about the answers, just going with my reflex reaction to the question. I’m not out to recommend obscure movies that others may not have seen; most of my answers consist of movies I’ve watched over and over again through the years but never get tired of. These movies helped shape me into who I am, and so I think it will be interesting to remember how I first discovered them and why they continue to move me.


1.) Your Favorite Movie
answer: It’s a Wonderful Life


The first time I saw It’s a Wonderful Life, I was 13 years old. It was playing on TV and my father said I should watch it with him because it was a really good movie. I routinely watched old movies and television shows with my Dad on weekend afternoons and enjoyed them, so I trusted his judgment. I quickly reconsidered that opinion as I watched two clusters of stars floating in outer space, that were supposed to represent angels, talk to each other through the first few minutes of the movie. Really, Dad? As the story started to show different parts of George Bailey’s childhood though, I quit rolling my eyes and started to pay attention.


There are so many things I love about this movie. First, I think it’s funny. There are many quips and winks throughout the story that James Stewart delivers so well.


Second, it’s a love story.
George Bailey: What is it you want, Mary? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down….then you can swallow it, and it’ll all dissolve, see, and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair…


After missing his initial chance with love interest Mary, they finally get together over winter break while she’s home from college. George pretends like he’s going for a walk but his mother knows better and phones ahead to tell Mary that he’s going to stop by for a visit. George tries to play it cool with Mary but she’s having none of it. She has been crushing on him since they were children and she’s tired of waiting for him to make the first move. When an old friend of George’s (who just so happens to be dating Mary) calls on the telephone and wants to speak to them about a business opportunity, they finally admit their feelings for one another.

much to Mary’s mother’s dismay


As the story catches up to present day, George finds the life that he’s built with Mary and their children crashing down around him, when his business partner misplaces a sizable amount of money. It’s then that George wishes he had never been born, because he doesn’t want to bring his family down with him. In steps Clarence, the guardian angel who was one of those voices at the beginning of the movie. Clarence is a lovable character who grants George’s wish, and shows him how he touches the lives of others in so many different ways. That’s my favorite part of this story, the idea that we’re all connected and our actions, no matter how small, have consequences.


Through the years, I’ve related to George Bailey and his plight in many ways. I’ve felt the longing to get out of my small hometown and experience the world.

George Bailey: You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are? Anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.


I’ve understood the disappointment and frustration that comes with always doing the right thing.

George & Mary use their Honeymoon money for the Savings and Loan customers when there is a run on the bank.


and I’ve experienced the suffocating stress that makes you snap and lash out at the ones you love.


but through it all, I remember how George’s seemingly mundane life touched others in positive ways, how many lives he made better by just existing. It’s reinforced in me that I matter, that I’m important too, even if I don’t realize how.

‘fix it, Daddy!’


Watching It’s a Wonderful Life has become a tradition in our family. A year after my first viewing, I made my brother watch it with me when he came home for the holidays from college. He found it just as funny and meaningful as I did. We watched it together every Christmas Eve, quoting all of our favorite lines and routinely using them in conversations throughout the year.

‘Hey look, mister. We serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast, and we don’t need any characters around to give the joint atmosphere. Is that clear, or do I have to slip you my left for a convincer?’


Last Christmas my brother and I chatted together on Facebook as he watched the movie by himself, since his own family doesn’t get the appeal. Luckily my husband does, and he watches it with me year round. I introduced my daughter to it this past Christmas. She had the same reaction I did at first, thinking those star clusters at the beginning were lame and wanting the story to speed up already! but by the end, she loved it. and so the tradition continues.

‘every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings’


up next: favorite action/adventure movie


Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Movies


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a fangirl moment

This is a ‘bookmark’ post for me, a collection of Dan Stevens related videos that I’ve found and want to keep coming back to, gathering them in one place to make it easier to view when I need a fix. My bookmarks and ‘likes’ on social media become so chaotic when I start a new crush. Some things I mark because I like them and want to keep coming back to them, other things I mark because they look interesting but I haven’t viewed them yet, while others I mark to remind me to watch more of that type, etc. It all becomes a bit disorganized and confusing! I’ve only touched the very tip of the ice-berg in relation to Dan, so these are just some of my favorites at the moment.


Dan Stevens:reading Madame Bovary
a series of videos presented by ‘Carte Noire’ coffee, where Dan reads excerpts from classic books. I find them greatly enjoyable for the combination of his reading voice and eye contact. ‘I need your eyes, your voice, your thoughts.’  too true!


Dan Stevens- guilty man crush
at the 2013 GQ Man of the Year awards, Dan was asked who his man crush is. his quick thinking response and dry delivery are priceless, as are his piercing blue eyes when he looks straight at the camera.


Interview with Dan Stevens, Narrator of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein audiobook
I love hearing these snippets showcasing the ‘old Hollywood’ voice Dan uses to narrate this book. I’ve never read this classic myself but his description of the story makes me want to.


Rainbow Connection
a scene from Dan’s FX show ‘Legion’, where he plays the banjo and sings ‘The Rainbow Connection’. his character is terrified in the moment shown, which is why his voice is all shaky, but I’ve always loved this song. the way Dan’s long legs are drawn up into that sitting position, reminiscent of Kermit the Frog, makes me smile big!


Dan speaks French
promo for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ where Dan answers a few questions related to France. his pronunciation sounds lovely to my ear, and his facial expressions during the ‘cemetery’ answer are funny.
he speaks German too. here’s a link to a press conference for the film ‘Hilde’, where he answers a question in German.


Vanity Fair: in conversation with Dan Stevens ‘The Guest’ 
(note: this interview snippet cuts off before any mention of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, like the video title suggests)
Dan looks very sharp in his suit here and his eyes are lovely. and now I kind of want to record myself reciting ‘The Gettysburg Address’ in my accent, just to see what it sounds like.


The Guest- Locker Scene
scene from Dan’s movie, ‘The Guest’. I’ve cued this vid to jump to the point when David’s demeanor transforms from normal to menacing by just using his eyes and a slight shift of his lips. it’s creepy and impressive.


Dan Stevens-GQ Men of the Year awards Red Carpet with Tom Hiddleston
just a short fuzzy moment where old friends give each other a hug. I like hearing Dan call Tom’s name in surprise and then Tom affectionately calls Dan ‘gorgeous’.


confession- I’ve started each day this past week by watching these 4 fanvids while I eat breakfast:


only dan stevens (multi character)
I’ve only seen a few of these characters so far but the shots chosen are pleasing, and the song fits my thoughts perfectly at the moment.


Sydney & David- As Long As You Love Me (Legion)
David and Syd’s relationship in ‘Legion’ is so cute and swoony. Syd can’t touch others so instead of holding hands they hold onto a ribbon of cloth between them, and they ‘kiss’ by using their reflection in the window. the song chosen is beautiful too.


The Guest- Dan Stevens- The Red Crayon Aristocrat Club 
this video and song choice fits the tone of ‘The Guest’ perfectly. the pace and transition between scenes is done really well.


legion- friction
the editing in this vid is superb! really great representation of ‘Legion’.


and I’ll include these pics too, just because:


I don’t know how old Dan is in these pictures or what the backstory is but he just looks so fresh faced and adorable in them!


I love airport pics because they give us an unhindered view into the personal clothing style of our crushes, i.e. the ‘hot mess’ look.
okay, I think that’s a good place to stop. for now.



Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Books, Movies, Music, Television


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The Ticket

Have you ever watched a movie, read the reviews and interviews afterwards, and then wondered if you somehow saw a different version of it than everyone else? That’s what happened to me when I watched Dan Stevens in ‘The Ticket’. It’s an independent film that originally premiered at a film festival last year but recently released to a wider audience (including paid viewing online). So I missed what little press and promotion it did get, only becoming aware of it shortly before it’s recent release. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch it because the premise seemed so sad. The trailer presented it as a blind man who regains his sight and starts chasing a more superficial lifestyle. He becomes an over-achiever at work, has an extramarital affair, leaves his family, and then eventually regrets it all.

The reviews I had seen regarding the film claimed it was predictable, long and boring… so of course I had to watch it! After finishing the movie, I felt sad because the people who wrote those reviews ended up missing the beautiful story that it tells, both visually and emotionally. It’s true that it wasn’t a happy story but I felt Dan’s character, James, got the short end of the stick in perceptions of him. I did not find him to be an asshole, or exceptionally greedy and selfish, like was described the promotional articles I had read. Instead, I found him to be very human in his reactions. I did not see the wife and best friend as clear cut victims of his arrogance either, taking no blame for the eventual downfall of their connected lives. What follows are my thoughts. There will be spoilers.

The movie begins in darkness, as you hear James and his wife interacting with each other while they prepare for bed. They seem to get along, are friendly and silly with each other, life is good. Except for a sigh from James as he walks outside to get some air before turning in for the night. I could feel his dissatisfaction, even though I couldn’t see it. The next morning James wakes up and realizes he can see.

The doctor says the tumor that had been blocking his vision since young adulthood had unexpectedly shrunk with no rhyme or reason to it. As James tries to re-acclimate as a person of sight, I spot three distinct hurdles for his new life.

Hurdle Number One: his wife, Sam, is not a team player and is used to being in control. she keeps secrets about their son’s well being from James. the son tells his father it’s because she didn’t want to bother James with it.

Hurdle Number Two: Bob, James’ best friend, who works with him as a telemarketer for a real estate company. Bob is also blind and is prideful about it, while also harboring secret affections for James’ wife.

Hurdle Number Three: James’ curiosity about other women. we first see this when the family is on vacation and James asks a woman to dance while visiting the hotel bar alone. it seemed innocent enough, Sam fell asleep and so he wandered down by himself. he sees all the couples dancing, which is how he and Sam first met and something they routinely do as a couple. James and the woman both establish that they are vacationing with their spouses, but he eventually asks her to dance. when they do, it’s a little too close and the whole incident feels very intimate. it was a dick move on James’ part, I’m not going to make excuses for him. the issue escalates with a female work colleague that James finds himself working alongside when he aspires to achieve something more at his job.

James and Sam are not getting along, now that he can see. While I don’t discount the view that James became a little too ambitious, suddenly wanting things that he voiced no desire for before, I don’t think it was a case of his new found sight corrupting him. I think he never strove for more because he simply thought it pointless. There’s a difference between contentment, and just making the most of what you’re given. And while I can sympathize with the wife’s plight of suddenly having her well ordered life turned upside down, they are married. Marriage (to me) means they are partners, not only in parenting their son but in their relationship with one another as well. I feel like Sam expected nothing to change, that she just thought James would relish in the wonder of sight as he went about his same routine. She didn’t expect that he would have talents that he could now utilize at work, that he would want to learn how to drive in order to be more self sufficient, that he would want to make decisions about their son and not have her undermine them behind his back. I think all of this played a part in his growing attraction to his coworker.

James was feeling coddled in his marriage and bitter about the fact that he didn’t realize it had been this way all along. Before they separated, James went to a work function and Sam didn’t come. James was giving his coworker some flirty glances during that party and you could definitely tell that something was building between them, but he didn’t cross that line until he moved out of the house (the timeline here wasn’t clear to me. I don’t know how long it had been after he moved into his own place that he and the coworker started sleeping together, and I don’t know if James and Sam were ever technically divorced during the course of the story). The night of the work function he asked Sam what she originally saw in him. why did she single him out at the dance when they first met? She said he looked miserable and she thought that maybe she could help. His response was that when you ask someone to dance it’s usually because you’re attracted to them, not because you pity them.

When James regained his sight not only did he become conscious of his looks

but Sam suddenly became conscious of hers too. She started wearing dresses, fussing over her hair, wearing jewelry, and jokingly claiming she had to look better now that he could see her. The small, neat life that Sam had created for them was unraveling. As someone who has been married for 20 years, I can sympathize with her loss of control, but I don’t think she was being fair to James. The next night they went out dancing because James had promised that he would but vowed, after her revelation, that it would be the last time. The scene at the dance was heartbreaking. The way they clung to each other on the dance floor, like they knew what was destined to happen and so they were hanging on for one final embrace. Then Sam told him if he leaves, he can’t come back. Neither one of them were making a true effort to fight for their marriage, they both gave up rather quickly. In telling James he can never come back, Sam basically pushed him out the door. and he went so willingly, like it was inevitable so why fight it?

The “novelty”, as his girlfriend later calls it, eventually wears off for James and he starts to lament what he gave up when he walked away. The coworker, while not a bad person, doesn’t really connect with James emotionally. The son doesn’t want to stay at his father’s house anymore and feels like a stranger to him now. Sam has thrown herself into exercising, and goes out dancing a lot. James shows up to one of these dances and sees that she’s dancing with Bob, the friend who tried to sabotage James’ project at work because he didn’t agree with his methods (the ethics of the project were questionable but it’s the way that Bob went behind James’ back to discredit it that was sketchy) James and Sam share a dance in which she assures him that she’s just dancing with Bob, it’s nothing more (even though it looks like it has the potential to be), because she would never take away his only friend. condescending much?

The somewhat predictable climax of the story, is that James loses his sight again. Dan Stevens really shines as he conveys James’ desperation here. From the vulnerable breakdown he has in his bedroom, to the argument with Bob (where Bob says that James had everything Bob had ever wanted and he threw it away), ending with his perilous journey to Sam’s doorstep where she tells him that she can’t take him back. The film ends with James wandering out into the field as the last of his vision completely fades. We see blackness again, and the surrounding sounds of the wilderness become amplified. Footsteps can be heard walking up behind him and then soft “shhh” noises of comfort.

Overall I found the story very moving. It left me contemplating the whys and hows of the dissolution of their marriage. The actions that could have prevented it, the different paths that could have been taken along the way, and also what might have happened afterwards. Through it all though I didn’t see James as the ‘bad’ guy, the selfish man who left his wife and family for bigger and better things. I didn’t see his wife as the ‘good’ guy, the understanding and supportive partner who had been done wrong, and I didn’t see Bob as the loyal friend who had to witness the downfall of his best friend’s second chance. I think they all could have done more, tried harder to understand, and just gave the situation more time.

The look of the film itself, I found pleasing to the eye. The soft hues were comforting (as was the cadence of Dan’s voice throughout), the landscapes familiar, and the structure of the story was just what it needed to be. It needed to be told in that way. We needed time to bond with James, to see the things that were bubbling under the surface in each of his relationships without them being thrust in our faces, fast and loud. I don’t think James regained his sight because he repeated a mantra every night saying how grateful he was, or that his sight was taken away again because he squandered his chance. Others may find spiritual lessons in the film, but I did not. I found human lessons, marriage lessons, identity lessons. Points I will continue to ponder, and hopefully learn from.


Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Movies


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