prince john in ‘the adventures of robin hood’ (1938)

This post is a late entry to The Claude Rains Blogathon.

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The most vivid cinematic image from my childhood is found in ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ (1938).  It comes from a scene near the beginning of the movie when Prince John (Claude Rains) and Sir Guy of Gisborne (Basil Rathbone) toast their bright future as masters of England and Prince John accidentally spills some wine.  It drips to the floor, looking very much like blood and Prince John turns to Gisborne with a crafty look of glee on his face.

I believe two things made this scene stick out in my mind: the blood-like wine (in all that glorious Technicolor) and Claude Rains’ complete embodiment of the dastardly Prince John.  Because he is dastardly.

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I’ve seen Claude Rains in several films over the years, but his role as Prince John in ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ is far and away my favorite role of his.  He’s so slick, conniving, and utterly fun to watch as the biggest baddie on the screen (not even Basil Rathbone can steal the show here – a rare feat).  ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ was a huge part of my childhood and, to me, Claude Rains simply is Prince John.  His ability to turn from charming to chilling is just…wow.  Love it.  Good villains are the best.

Take, for instance, another scene near the beginning of the film where Prince John is enjoying a dinner party at Gisborne’s hall.  He’s his usual princely, courteous self.  Bits of humor and wit spark off of him.  But once he announces that he’s kicked out the rightful regent of England and intends to rule in Richard’s place, the mood turns dark and Claude Rains goes from suave to defensive in a moment.  It’s great acting.  I really dig it.

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Or consider how stone cold (yet affable) he is when sentencing Maid Marian to death?

Of course, Prince John gets his comeuppance at the end and Robin Hood triumphs, but Claude Rains put in an excellent performance while the fun lasted.  He did a brilliant job of portraying Prince John – one that I hope to enjoy for years to come.

Have you ever seen ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ (1938)?  What’s your favorite Claude Rains’ role?

Eva

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five reasons why Esca, son of Cunoval is simply the best

‘The Eagle’ is a new favorite movie of mine.  Based on Rosemary Sutcliff’s most famous book, The Eagle of the Ninth, it takes some new directions with the source material but I still love the movie.  I couldn’t say if I like it better than the book, as I haven’t read the book for a while.  But I can easily say that Esca is my favorite character (Marcus is awesome though) and here are five reasons why. (I had to severely limit myself.) (Jk.) (But also legit.)

// Hello – it’s Jamie Bell //

Jamie Bell and Channing Tatum in The Eagle (2011)

Just thought I’d get this out of the way first because this movie kind of fueled my (*cough* huge *cough*) crush on Jamie Bell. (Or at least I thought it did until I found out he was in ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ which I watched ages ago and thought that the guy who played Smike deserved my attention.)  In all seriousness, he does a fantastic job of portraying Esca (just not…book Esca? *cringes away from die-hard Sutcliff fans*).  He has such a lovely accent and it’s a bit rougher than what you’d expect in a regular British accent, which is perfect because Britain was different back in the time of ‘The Eagle’.

// He has so much loyalty/patriotism //

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This entire movie makes me feel very, very cold.

I know it’s a huge thing in the books, how Esca is all “I’m my master’s dog to lie at my master’s feet” but he’s much more ferociously anti-Roman, pro-Britain in the movie.  Esca’s patriotism is at the core of everything he does, even when it comes to serving Marcus, a Roman.  Because Esca’s reasoning for staying under Marcus’ authority is that, since Marcus saved his life, Esca owes him one and he won’t break that loyalty because he’s a Brigantes/his father’s son.  And this level of honor and loyalty being displayed by a guy whose entire family was just killed by the Romans (well, his mom was killed by his dad, but it was still because of the Romans)!  That’s some serious strength of character.

// He’s pro //

One of my favorite scenes in ‘The Eagle’ is when Marcus and Esca are sitting by a river, eating their lunch, when Esca looks up and tells Marcus that there’s three rogue British warriors in the woods behind him (Marcus).  Marcus can’t pick them out, but yeah…Esca’s a pro.  If you need bloody entrails dug out of the wild boar you just killed, Esca’s a pro.  If you’re a little kid, terrified about what your dad will do when he finds out that the guy who’s been super nice to you is leaving the village without a word…Esca’s a pro at giving you the (professionally carved) wooden fish he made.  And if you’re that same little kid, suddenly murdered by your dad, be sure that Esca will revenge you in the pro-est, awesome-est way possible.

// He won’t be a piece in their Games //

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(Oh, Peeta, how I love you…)

Our introduction to Esca is in a crudely built, mini-Coliseum. (Think ‘Gladiator’ before they all packed up and went off to Rome.)  He’s pitted against this guy who’s got to be a crowd-pleaser because he has all this flashy equipment and headgear and it’s ridiculous.  But instead of trying to defend himself (and he has to be furious at the Romans, the gladiator, and the whole mess of a situation), Esca throws down his sword and shield.  Refuses to die on Roman terms.  It’s kind of more than a little awesome.

// THE SMIRK //

Unfortunately not The Moment

The clip isn’t on Youtube, I can’t find a GIF anywhere, and my laptop won’t play DVDs so I can’t take a screenshot.  BUT.  In the final scene, when Marcus returns the eagle in all its glory to a bunch of Roman officials, Esca gives the greatest little smirk after Placidus (a snotty Roman legionnaire) gets a put-down from Marcus (because Placidus insulted Esca).  IT’S SO GREAT.  I LOVE IT.  You must see it.

Have you ever watched ‘The Eagle’?  Who’s your favorite character?

Eva

P.S. I forgot to mention Esca’s whole “He’s my slave” bit.  That was gold.  Just sayin’.

this & that

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A quick review of It’s Okay Not To Be Okay: This book is beautifully written and brought me to tears more than once. I didn’t find much to be of practical help to me, but I think other people might. The author took stories from the Bible and wove them into the points she made, which was really interesting. (I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and you can purchase it on Amazon here.)

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The Reams of Rereads challenge is over and I didn’t even notice for so long. 😦  NaNoWriMo is keeping me crazy busy and Mom was away when the challenge was ending, so yeah.  I didn’t hit everything on my list, but I did manage to read Mockingjay, Eve’s Daughters, and half of Ender’s Game along with the other books I’d already mentioned rereading.  Thanks so much to everyone that participated!

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Speaking of NaNoWriMo, I wrote 25,000 words in the first four days.  Wut.  It was crazy and my right hand started aching (it’s okay now).  I’m not entirely happy with how my writing project is going, but it’s still good.  And then I got sick today, which meant I ‘only’ wrote 1,200 words.  I’m just glad I got a huge chunk in before sickness struck.  I’m planning to get up early for the virtual write-in tomorrow and I’m also probably going to attend a late night write-in on the 11th (Edmontonwrimos are great).  This is the first time I’ve ever been super active in the NaNoWriMo community and trying to participate in ALL THE THINGS.  It’s been loads of fun.

My seven-year-old brother, Ethan, is aiming for 3,000 words this month and he’s done AMAZING so far.  And I’m not just saying that.

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So many blog events coming up!  Blog tour for Allison Tebo’s A Royal Masquerade, a Claude Rains blogathon, and a Robots in Film blogathon.  I’m going to be sooooo busy. (Well, Robots in Film isn’t until January.  So that’s something of a relief.)

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All you lovely people who commented on my ranking of the Pevensies…I WILL get back to you as soon as I have the time.  I’ve just been very, very busy and Uninspired To Answer Comments. 😛

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Movies I’ve watched recently:

-‘The Eagle’ (crush on Jamie Bell is real; seemed like they were trying to copy the fabulousness of ‘Gladiator’ and even though they didn’t, it was still an excellent film)

-‘Defiance’ (ditto about Jamie Bell and also I loooooved Daniel Craig in this one)

-‘Nicholas Nickleby’ (sensing a theme here? the naked baby at the beginning was Shocking, btw)

-‘Breathe’ (I kinda sorta watched this and was Unimpressed by the ending)

-‘Star Trek’ (2009 version and it was great; totally cried when Leonard Nimoy did the whole “Space…the final frontier…” at the end)

-‘Adventures of Robin Hood (this was for the Claude Rains blogathon and I have a lot to say

-modern ‘3:10 to Yuma’ (meh)

There’ve been some more, but those were most of the highlights.

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What’ve you all been up to?  TELL ME EVERYTHING.

Eva

ranking the Pevensie siblings

I recently watched all three Walden Media Narnia films and read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Last Battle.  So I thought I’d rank the Pevensie siblings from least favorite to most favorite (‘least favorite’ being a relative term because they’re all dear to me).  I’ve also read The Horse and His Boy and parts of Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader so my opinions are a smattering of book-and-movie perceptions of all the characters. (But mostly the movies because those are the most fresh in my mind.)

#4 – The Magnificent

Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do. -The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

It honestly hurts to put Peter last on this list because I don’t want anyone to be last!  Peter has some amazing qualities.  He’s brave, humble (for being the High King, he doesn’t boast about it or anything), kind to his sisters…Peter is a great character.  But because I love and adore Edmund, he pales a bit in comparison.  I know there are a lot of people who are huge Peter fans, though, so he’s definitely not without a following.

#3 – The Valiant

“I’m sorry, Aslan,” she said. “I’m ready now.”
“Now you are a lioness,” said Aslan. -Prince Caspian

Lucy is almost everyone’s favorite character, it seems.  She is a definite inspiration to me, with her total faith and trust in Aslan.  If I could have a faith like that, I think ninety-five percent of my problems wouldn’t matter anymore.  But at the same time, Lucy seems a little too perfect and unattainable – to me, anyway.  I prefer my characters to be flawed, yet redeemable (*cough* I believe y’all can guess who’ll be #1 on this list *cough*).  I think the Dawn Treader movie did a good job of giving Lucy some flaws so I liked that.

#2 – The Gentle

It is a mistake to think that Susan was killed in the railway accident at the end of The Last Battle and that she has forever fallen from grace. It is to be assumed, rather, that as a woman of twenty-one who has just lost her entire family in a terrible crash, she will have much to work through; in the process, she might change to become truly the gentle person she has the potential for being. -Companion to Narnia by Paul Ford

Susan reminds me of myself, sometimes more than I want.  I like being able to see and know what I’m getting into instead of taking a leap of faith.  I keep an eye on my siblings.  I falter in my faith far too often.  But Susan has good qualities, too.  She’s courageous and loyal and steadfast.  She loves her brothers and sister very much.  Like Paul Ford, I don’t believe that Susan is irredeemable and I’m not mad at Lewis for what he did with her story.  It’s actually believable that at least one of the Pevensies would ‘grow up’ and I think it makes her character more realistic.

#1 – The Just

But even a traitor may mend. I have known one who did. -The Horse and His Boy

First off…THAT QUOTE.  GAH.  MY HEART.

Edmund is my favorite Pevensie sibling and my favorite character in the Narnia series.  He was my favorite from the very first time I met him and I haven’t changed my mind since.  As so many people say, Edmund is us.  He fell from grace, he made horrible mistakes that led to Aslan’s death.  And yet, Aslan still loved him and rescued him. *tears*  Because of all this, Edmund becomes a far better person: King Edmund the Just.  He wasn’t King Edmund the Brave (though he certainly is) or King Edmund the Loyal (true again) but instead he is Edmund the Just.  He knows what justice is because Aslan bore the judgement he deserved.  And Edmund lives up to his name, becoming a wise, mature, honorable king.  So he’s my favorite. (Plus, I’m a goner for characters with a redemption arc.  Always have been, always will.)

What’s your ranking of the Pevensie siblings?  Who’s your favorite character in The Chronicles of Narnia series?

Eva

movie review: little women

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Do all the things.

I don’t particularly enjoy Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, but there are two film adaptions of the book that I adore.  ‘Little Women’ (1994)…and ‘Little Women’ (2018), which is the adaption I’m reviewing today.

Let’s start with the story!  Instead of trying to craft a recognizable plot out of a rather episodic book, the filmmakers went a different direction and told the story in a series of flashbacks.  (The framework for the flashbacks is Jo working on her fantasy novel with instruction from Professor ‘Freddie’ Bhaer.)  Most of the major events from the book are depicted in this film: Christmas without (m)any presents, Jo bumping into Laurie at a party, Meg making a fool of herself at another party (the prom this time), Amy burning Jo’s notebook, etc., etc. (I will say that Amy was a lot more justified in burning Jo’s notebook.  The situation was changed up a little and I Approve.)

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The feels were so, so real.  I teared up multiple times, especially with parts concerning Beth (no spoilers!) and the final scene which was #beautiful and #weddingdaygoals.

Now I’m sure most of you are wondering if the casting director got it right.  If Jo was the same strong, independent, flawed woman we all know and love.  If Beth warmed every heart with her sweetness.  If Laurie was a faithful friend.  The answer to all of that is “YES”.  I loved the casting for pretty much every character, but especially the four ‘little women’.  Sarah Davenport was outstanding as Jo.  She’s full of fire and fierce love and flaws.  And she is indubitably a Writer!  All the other films portray Jo’s writing as more of an unimportant, background hobby, but this adaption celebrated her journey as a writer.  And that made her so much more relatable to me.  For the first time, I actually, truly ‘got’ Jo. (And her connection to Beth was also so strong and I loved it.)

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This review is getting loooong, so I’ll just quickly run through the rest of the cast.  Beth was incredibly sweet, but also genuine.  Meg was perfect.  Amy (played, of course, by two different actresses) was annoying but had her moments of warmth.  Marmee was suitably Marmee-ish.  John Brooke was the only good portrayal of the character I’ve seen on film.  It took me a bit to warm up to Laurie (especially because they didn’t include the part where he sends for Marmee without waiting for permission which is my favorite character moment of his) but by the time he comforted Jo at The Funeral, I really liked him.

Overall, ‘Little Women’ is a beautiful film about the importance of family and the connection between sisters.  Highly recommended to fans of the original story.

Eva

Screening provided by Graf-Martin Communications and Pure Flix.

five reasons why ‘Gladiator’ is an astounding epic

Warning: I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone without several caveats, especially because of the violence and the villain’s incestuous tendencies.  Definitely not a movie for immature viewers.

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#5 – ‘Gladiator’ respects the precedent set by ‘Ben-Hur’

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‘Gladiator’, like ‘Ben-Hur’, is an epic tale of revenge, love, and redemption that hinges on incredible characters that interact with each other in believable ways.  Yes, there’s violence.  Yes, there’s spectacle and intense action sequences and military triumphs.  But Maximus, Lucilla, Juba, Proxima, and even Commodus are at the centre of the film and that is a large part of what makes ‘Gladiator’ so well-loved.  In the end, it’s not about the gore or the glory.  It’s about the characters.

#4 – ‘Gladiator’ is a revenge story

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Arguably, the best stories are revenge stories.  The Count of Monte Cristo, True Grit, Hamlet…all great classics that have vengeance as one of their main themes.  Though I doubt a Roman emperor would lower himself to the level of a slave and fight in the arena, is makes for sweet revenge.

#3 – The emotions are real

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So real.  An aching lump in your throat that refuses to go away during the final minutes of the movie. (And at various other scenes as well.)  “I will see you again, but not yet…not yet.”  “There was once a dream that was Rome.”  I’m honestly choking up just typing all that because IT’S SO BITTERSWEET.

#2 – Hans Zimmer outdid himself

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My next ‘favorite composer’ post will be about Zimmer and I’ll talk a little more about his soundtrack for ‘Gladiator’ then, but I’ll say that the score for this film is incredible.  Evocative, moving, thrilling – there’s every emotion you can think of.  ‘Now We Are Free’ is unbelievable. (Lisa Gerrard also had a hand in composing it.)

#1 – Maximus Decimus Meridius

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Commander of the armies of the North.  Father to a murdered son.  Husband to a murdered wife.  And he will have his vengeance.  Russell Crowe, the screenwriters, and Ridley Scott created one of the 21st century’s greatest film heroes in the character of Maximus.  His grief, his courage, his struggles all command your respect.  He’s one of my favorite fictional characters.

(My uncle, whose favorite movie is ‘Gladiator’, said he wanted to name his son Maximus Decimus Meridius – I’m still not sure if he was serious or not.)

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Have you seen ‘Gladiator’?  Do you love it like I do?

Eva

mini movie reviews {#9}

Mudbound (2017) – Spectacularly depressing.  Gave me a headache.  But Garrett Hedlund was amazing so I don’t really regret watching it.

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Jurassic Park (1993) – YESSS.  So good.  Loved it and watched it twice and still loved it, so yeah.  The music was my favorite part, I think.  That or Jeff Goldblum.

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Wonder (2017) – Not quite as good as the book, but still thoroughly heartwarming.

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Goodbye Christoper Robin (2017) – Really heavy and a little boring.  I think I’ll enjoy ‘Christopher Robin’ much more.

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Unconditional (2012) – Actually one of the better Christian movies I’ve seen.  Great characters, good acting, and some pretty emotional scenes.

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Tarzan (1999) – One of my new favorite Disney movies!  Jane is awesome.

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A Monster Calls (2016) – Made me ugly sob.  A beautiful movie, though, and the Monster warmed my heart.

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Room (2015) – It’s rare that a film actually makes me bite my nails, but I’m pretty sure that ‘Room’ did.  My heart was pounding so hard.  The second half was a little boring, but overall a great film.

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Earth to Echo (2014) – This movie is a tribute to films like ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘E.T.’ and I really dug it.  All the characters were so sweet and small and perfect.

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Napoleon Dynamite (2004) – Some friends of mine HIGHLY recommended this movie to me so I watched it and, yeah, now I love it.  Which is weird because none of the characters are super likable, there’s no plot, and the humour isn’t even my kind of humour.  But there’s just something about it that keeps me coming back for more. (Also, it’s one of the most quotable films everrrr.)

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Annie (2014) – Loooove.  Makes me so happy.

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Anna Karenina (2012) – I cannot get over the dresses and coats and hats in this film.  Incredibly, unbelievably gorgeous.  But that was pretty much the only thing I enjoyed in ‘Anna Karenina’.  (It was filmed a little oddly as well.)

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The Breakfast Club (1985) – Two words: JOHN. BENDER. *heart-eyes emoji*

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So what movies have you watched recently?  Have you seen any of the ones I reviewed above?

Eva

P.S. My bi-weekly excuse for no read-along post – my weekend was crazy busy with the birthday party sleepover I hosted.