Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Selma

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Selma” (2014) in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the upcoming Black History Month:

This one left me breathless.

The Woman With the Demure Smile

It was a lovely spring Paris afternoon. I sat in the same chair at the same table I always sit in. Jacques, the waiter, brought me my usual cognac. I opened my sketch book. My eyes moved from table to table to table, searching for something, or someone, to draw. Several tables away, a woman shyly glanced over at me with those round eyes of hers, eyes as blue as the French sky that canvassed our afternoon. She wore a demure smile. Her lips I imagined speaking softly, breaking the heart of her last lover. My hand began its magic. The pencil drew. Soon I finished a page, then a second. Ten, fifteen empty pages I filled. The woman rose and walked my way. She said nothing, but passed me by, then she was gone. It was a lovely spring Paris afternoon.

Hamlet: Laertes Returns

His means of death, his obscure funeral—
No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o’er his bones,
No noble rite nor formal ostentation—
Cry to be heard as ’twere from heaven to earth,
That I must call ’t in question.
Hamlet Act 4 Scene 5.

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 4 Scene 5 (continued). Noise came from the courtyard.

“Alack,” Gertrude said. “What noise was that?”

“Alack?” Claudius asked. “Where did you learn to talk like that?”

“Doofus,” Gertrude gave him that look. You know the one. The one you’re wife gives you when you’ve done a faux pas. And, in case you don’t know what faux pas means, it means faux pas. So there. “I am in a play by Mr. Wonderful. You know, Shakespeare. It’s Elizabethan England and we’re in Denmark. I am supposed to say things like alack.”

The actress playing Gertrude can’t believe she’s in a play with this idiot. She’s supposed to kiss him every so often like they are in love. How did she get cast with this guy? Truman Capote was right when he said, “The better the actor the more stupid he is.” This guy must be really good. My God, she was in Shakespeare and she hated it. The cast was driving her nuts. How she longed to go back to soap operas. At least, she got to kiss men—and women—with good breath.

“Okay,” Mr. Doofus said. “Alack is good.” Then he said his line, “Where are my Switzers? Let them guard the door.” Now hold on. What is Claudius doing with Swiss Guards? He isn’t the pope. Oh, well. Just get on with it. Finish the play and accept that offer from Spielberg. He wants to put you in there with Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks. Can you imagine me with Tom Hanks?

As you can see, actors do act. They can be thinking of stuff a million miles away and we will never know it. It’s a way to pull up an emotion they can’t fake. Sometimes it’s a way to get through a project they really hate. Evidently our Gertrude and our Claudius here hated this production.

Into the room bursts Laertes. Polonius’s son. He left a boy and returned a man. He is like Robert Goulet walking out on stage in “Camelot” for the first time.Gertrude swoons from his handsomeness and faints.

All Claudius can say, “God, he glows in the dark. He must be running for something. Could it be? No, he doesn’t want to be king? Or does he?” That was a lot to say for a guy who was trembling in his booties.

Laertes had a name to live up to. Laertes was a Greek hero. He was one of those Argonaut guys who went off hunting for the Calydonian Boar. Also he was Odysseus’ dad. On that particular day, Laertes was giving the hero business his best shot.

“Oh, you vile king,” Laertes said.

Claudius was stunned. “Who? Me? What did I do?”

Gertrude unswooned and got off the floor.

“You made a bastard out of me and my mother a whore.”

Gertrude stepped in front of Claudius to protect him. Claudius pushed her aside.

“It’s okay. Nothing will happen to me. I am the king. God protects the king. Traitors can’t hurt him.” Had Claudius forgotten what happened to the last king? Had he forgotten what happened to Richard II and Richard III?

“Where’s my dad?” Laertes had fire in his voice. It seemed he already knew the situation. Had a ghost appeared before Laertes and requested revenge? If not, why not? Shakespeare had made up this rule that a ghost appeared before his son and asked for revenge. If it was good enough for Hamlet, why not for Laertes? Also it makes you wonder if Hamlet Senior’s ghost ran into Polonius’ ghost. Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall in that conversation?

Hamlet Senior: “You’re going to hell.”

Polonius: “At least, I won’t have to put up with you.”

Anyway back to Elsinore. Now here’s where the conversation got really interesting.

Gertrude said, “But the king didn’t kill your dad.” Was Gertrude ready to give up her own son to save the king? Some mother, huh?

Laertes demands, “How came he dead? I’ll not be juggled with. To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil! I’ll be revenged.”

Pretty scary talk. Only Claudius wasn’t scared. Nothing scared Claudius. He’d killed a king to get where he was. He’d sent that king’s heir off to be murdered. He was feeling pretty cocky. “You want to hurt your dad’s friends as well as his enemies?”

“Only his enemies.”

“I was his friend. Your dad was my best friend. I would not be king if your dad had not stuck up for me when I most needed it. Why would I kill your father?”

Well, you can imagine the big huh that appeared on Laertes’ face.

“I am guiltless of your father’s death and I will prove it to you.”

Just as things are about to get settled, something dramatically interesting happened. Shakespeare pulled a Kramer out of the bag. What’s a Kramer? you ask. In Seinfeld, there was a moment in a scene when things were starting to lull. In walks Kramer to change the direction of the scene. That’s exactly what Shakespeare did. He pulled an Ophelia.

Ophelia entered the room. Again she sang her nonsense, taking Laertes’ breath away with grief. She then leaves.

“Do you see this, oh God?” Laertes cried out to heaven.

Claudius was moved by Ophelia and Laertes. Tears were in his eyes. He wiped away the tears, then got back to the business at hand. Saving his butt.

“Listen, Laertes. Gather your wisest friends and bring them to me. Let them listen to us both and decide who was the guilty party. If they judge me guilty, everything I have, including my life, will be yours. If they judge me innocent, then be patient. I will help you with your revenge. This I promise.”

All I have to say is, “Laertes, you’d better run for cover. The last two he made promises to, Hamlet Senior and Polonius, are now dead.”

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: An Adult Male Fairy Tale

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “From Russia With Love” (1963):

I have been watching James Bond movies since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I just love them. Guess that’s why I put them in a very special genre of movies that only James Bonds inhabits. That category is Adult Male Fairy Tales. They have gorgeous sexy women, gadgets up the wazoo, awesome cars, some of the most beautiful settings on any planet, and lots of blowing things up. What more could a red blooded adult male ask for?

Now all us James Bondies have our favorite Double-Oh-Sevens. Me, I have no love for the Australian model. You know the Bond who married Diana Rigg in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. His acting was so bad it killed Diana Rigg off and almost ruined her career.

Timothy Dalton did okay in the two movies he was in. He seemed to be trying way too hard Bond with us. Seems he could kill with that look of his. One might say that he was the working-stiff Bond.

I was rather fond of Pierce Brosnan. He always seemed like he wanted to charm the pants off the villain. After all, he was a handsome fellow. I did think he was rather good in “Tailor of Panama”, but, in that one, the intelligence agent was slumming. Geoffrey Rush’s character did most of the work.

Then there was Roger Moore. Oh, Roger, he was so much fun. For some reason, the word pussyfootin’ comes to mind when I think of this Bond. What M in their right mind would give him a double-oh? He’d probably shoot himself in the foot. Guess that’s why he was given Sean’s Berettta. I always expected to hear M say, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

Now Daniel Craig, he looks dangerous I must admit. Not much charm but, as I have been told, he looks good in a bathing suit. Most of the time he’s way too serious for my taste,

For my money, Sean Connery, or The Sean as I like to call him, is the Bond for me. He’s a Scot, kilt and all. He sure is charming with the women. Even Money Penny goes for him, and she didn’t go for just any Bond. Sean looks like he could kill an adversary without blinking. His villains are such memorable villains with truly awesome names: Dr. No, Goldfinger, and Ernst Stavro Blofield.

Now, you know guys with those names could take over the world and shoot your eye out to boot. Blofield was so villainous he just kept coming back. Only Jaws could compete and take a bite out of the British Secret Service. But he wasn’t the boss. He was one of the many supporting minions that were sent after Double-oh-Seven. And no other Bond said, “Shaken not stirred”, with the kind of conviction Sean Connery said it. So there you have it, Uncle Bardie’s rundown of the Double-oh-Sevens.

The thing I love about “From Russia With Love” is that the producers had not worked out all the kinks. It was still new territory, being only the second of the series. Sean Connery was still feeling his way around in the role, so there is a certain rawness to this sophomore effort. It may be very old school, but it’s old school in the best way.

In the capable hands of director Terence Young, this Bond shines. Double-Oh-Seven is off to Istanbul to take control of the mcguffin, a Russian coding machine. A Russian woman has fallen in love with James Bond’s picture, or so the British have been told. She has the good Russian name of Tatiana. Not as exotic as Pussy Galore but then again what woman is? Tatiana is ready to betray the Soviets for a chance to meet the Secret Agent in the flesh. But it is a trap, set by SPECTRE.

The usual opening sequence with the title and the song as its own little movie is not in this one. That opening sequence first made its appearance in “Goldfinger”. The song comes at the end of “From Russia With Love”.  Also the gadgets are not running the show. Just a briefcase with some talcum powder. This one is Bond, and only Bond, not the guinea pig for Q’s toys. And I like that Sean gets to show his stuff instead of the cars and the gizmos.

The cast of “From Russia With Love” has Class with a capital C. Bernard Lee has returned as M. So has Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny and Desmond Llewelyn as Q. Robert Shaw gives Bond a real challenge as the villainous Grant. His boss, Rosa Klebb, is the great German actress, Lotte Lenya. The classiest of all  was the brilliant Mexican actor, Pedro Armendáriz, who portrays Kerem Bey, the Turkish Station Chief in Istanbul. At the time, he had cancer and still he worked. To provide money for his family.

To top it all off, there’s murder on the Orient Express and one hell of a boat ride. So fasten your seat belts. Let’s get on with Uncle Bardie’s favorite of all the Bonds, “From Russia With Love.”

Do you have a favorite James Bond movie?

Cost Overruns at the Tower of Babel

OR EVERY RULER HAS A BAD DAY.

“When do you think it will be done?” Nimrod asked. He always asked the hard questions.

“I don’t know, sir. We’re already over budget.” Furg, the Builder, said.

“Over budget?” Nimrod was not happy. “How can we be over budget?”

“We just are. After all, we’re having to ship brick all the way from Egypt. The Egyptians raised their prices.”

“Why can’t we use good Babylonian brick?” Nimrod was no builder. He was a warrior, good at chopping off Sumerian heads in battle. Not at this budgeting kind of thing. Wasn’t it about time he went and started a ruckus with Ur? The Urians had been smart mouthing him lately.

“Babylonian brick just won’t hold in place. Egyptian brick will.”

“I sure hate to go back to Congress and tell them I need more money. They weren’t happy about that chariot cost overrun. How was I to know the Philistines upped their prices?”

“Yes, sir. So do you still want the Glorious and Magnificent Nimrod Wing or not?”

“Darn tooting, I do. And in pure gold trim too. Now I have other business to attend to.” Nimrod was thinking that he was already late for his tete-a-tete with Belatsunat. His wrist sundial said a freckle passed a hair already. She was going to charge him double. It sure was hard being a conqueror.

As Nimrod was turning to leave, Furg threw him another fastball. “There’s just one more thing.”

Nimrod wanted to say, “What now?” But he didn’t. After all, he was a kind ruler. At least, he liked to think of himself that way. He said, “Yes?”

“What do we do about the quicksand?”