Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: Italy in the Spring

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is “Enchanted April” (1992):

Remember “Gilligan’s Island”. “Enchanted April” (1992) is not a three-hour tour. It is not a shipwreck. It is not “Gilligan’s Island”. It isn’t even “Survivor”. It could pass for “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Like that movie, it is a leisurely stroll through an Italian landscape that only be described as paradise.

How did four English women find themselves in Italy? A small ad in the newspaper. The newspaper was the 1920s version of the internet. For a small price, a person could see the world laid out before them.

Adapted from Elizabeth von Armin’s novel, the movie begins with two married women, Lottie Wilkins (Josie Lawrence) and Rose Arbuthnot (Miranda Richardson). They are stuck in England with some really lousy Spring weather. They see an advertisement offer to stay in medieval castle for the month of April. Not only do they get a castle, they get Italy on the Mediterranean.

When they see the ad, they say, “What fun.” At least, Lottie does. After some persistence, Rose is persuaded. Each has their own reason to get away from her husband for a month. Alfred Molina (of “Frida” fame) and Jim Broadbent (from “Topsy Turvy”) are the husbands Lottie and Rose leave behind.

Since it’s a bit expensive, the two of them ask two more to come along. Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright) is an older woman with her nose stuck in the air. Then she breaths in the Italian air and she is changed along with her three companions. Lady Caroline Dester (Polly Walker) is an attractive young aristocrat who is searching for direction.

Unfortunately, the Italian weather isn’t cooperating when Lottie and Rose arrive. But the next morning everything has changed. April is April and Italy is Italy. “Were you ever so happy?” Lottie asks Rose. Then the two come across Mrs. Fisher who speaks an “an ancient Italian, the Italian of Dante” and Lady Caroline who speaks “the kind of Italian the cooks understand”. I would say that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. But you’ll have to find out for yourself.

And what happens when the men show up.

If you are partial to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, this one is for you.

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Mr. Squirrel is out and about

My, my, what a nice sunny day. I would like to repeat that. What a nice sunny day. Wish all days were this sunny and nice. Of course, rainy days are nice too. It’s those cold, cold, and I’m talking cold here, cold days of winter that aren’t so nice. That’s why we save up our nuts and other stuff and put them away for winter. So we don’t have to go outside. But a day like this. It’s really nice. Mrs. Squirrel and I got up early this morning. We looked out at the world in all its glory and we said, “It’s going to be a nice day.” And here it is. Nice.

Open Your Eyes

In celebration of Spring.

Open your eyes, wipe the night away.

Open your eyes. It is morning,

the eastern sky awash with the sun and its many colors of light.

Slowly the world arises to do its daily dance.

The lonely and the loved gather themselves up for the new day.

Some waltz easily through the early hours;

for some, it is a difficult march

to be walked only after several cups of coffee.

Early runners dash onto city streets where they run their morning runs.

Their sneakers pound a steady beat.

From the houses, from the homes that the runners pass,

breakfast aromas seep out to them,

voices rise and fall in a chorus of conversations.

“Up and at ‘em,” they chant,

some with a slight tone of the resignation that is Monday,

many accompanied by the sound of running water

as they shower, they shave, they brush their teeth and comb their hair.

In a suburban backyard,

butterflies flitter from roses to wisteria to crape myrtle.

A squirrel scampers from tree to ground and goes foraging for breakfast.

Two robins touch down on the birdbath, scoop the water into their beaks and drink.

Blue jays chatter while the bluebirds come singing,

their best songs sung for they who give an ear.

With its air cooling the skin, a breeze

eases through the oak, the mimosa, the loquat trees,

all standing near the tall metal fence at the property’s edge.

Leaves rustle. Wind chimes tinkle. Occasionally a dog barks.

A clarinet and piano jazz duet drifts in from two neighbors away.

Three cats appear at the kitchen door, a gray, a tabby, a black-and-white

meowing, scratching the wood, hungry from a night of out-and-about.

The door opens. The cats rush inside,

each heading for a bowl of Purina,

each chomping the dry brown pebbles of chow.

The black-and-white looks up. His big round eyes whisper,

“The day is such a joy, such a wonder,

if you open your eyes. Just open your eyes.

See and taste this day. Chew it well

and let its season pass in God’s good time. Soon

the butterflies will be gone.”

Mr. Gecko and the Picnic Basket

An adult faerie tale not for kids

One Wednesday, the heavens opened up and the Great Gecko in the Sky on his mushroom perch looked down upon all his creatures. He was not happy. He saw way too much fornication going on down there on earth. So much fornicating that it got his blood boiling. He had to do something, and what he had in mind was something hard and destructive.

Since it was such a pleasant day up there in gecko heaven, the sun shining all nice and warm unlike a week earlier. His heaven had been all gecko hell with the snow and the blizzard. Down-right freezing it was. Not being a fur-bearing kind of god Mr. Gecko hated the cold. But this particular day was a nice heavenly kind of spring day and Mr. Gecko looked around and saw his favorite tree just a bit of a ways off.

It was a tree all fluffy with cherry blossoms. The kind of tree that Mr. Gecko loved to siesta under when he was taking a break from his gecko-god duties or doing his chores assigned to him by Mrs. Gecko, his wife for nigh-on eight and a half eons. A rather long time for a heavenly pair to stay coupled together but still they were as happy as any two middle-aged gods could be under the circumstances. But enough of that. Mr. Gecko had work to do, coming up with a destructive methodology for those fornicating fools, and the day wasn’t getting any longer. In fact, it was getting shorter.

He strolled over to the cherry blossom tree and sat himself down on the green grass and leaned back to do some thinking. But thinking being what it is, Mr. Gecko could only do it so long and then he was famished. This particularly day in April, the “so long” was about fifteen minutes long and he still had not come up with anything of the destructive ilk yet.

He reached over and pulled his picnic basket closer. A picnic basket Mrs. Gecko had risen up early that morning before sunrise and prepared for him. It was like she could read his mind. Like she knew that he was going to have some hard thinking to do that day, knew that he’d need a good nutritious, delicious meal so he could come up with just the right destruction for his fornicating creation.

Mr. Gecko opened up that picnic basket, and lo and behold, what he saw was good. Very good. There were three watercress sandwiches with mustard…oh, yes and a pickle. One of Mrs. Gecko’s prize sweet pickles that she had grown in her vegetable garden behind their lovely white cottage. In the basket, there was a thermos of his favorite green tea and a bag of Indonesian chips, the chips that made Jakarta famous. And there…no, it just couldn’t be. But it was. A large slice of key lime pie. If he hadn’t known better, he would have believed that he was in hog heaven. But he was a gecko god and he was in heaven just the same.

Then it hit him. If he consumed all that food, he was going to need a siesta. A long siesta. He was not going to be in any kind of destructive mood for quite some time. This was Mrs. Gecko’s way of preventing what he was about to do. First he would come up with The Plan, then he would eat.

When he would comment to Mrs. Gecko on what a fornicating crowd he’d created, all she could say was, “Well, dear, you know that’s how the eight ball bounces. It is in the nature of creation to be about itself creatting. And how exactly do you expect your creation to create with nary any fornication?”

Mr. Gecko took another look into the basket. Those chips looked enticing. Well, maybe he would eat just one…no, two…just two…ah, shoot…three then. Soon he had completely consumed not just the chips, but the sandwiches, the pickle and the key lime pie, tossing it all down with his tea. And he was snoring the afternoon away, dreaming of Indra dreaming of Gecko dreaming.