Saturday, July 22, 2017

Scent of a Woman / The Tango

Gabrielle Anwa y Al Pacino
Al Pacino / Gabrielle Anwa
Scent of a Woman
The Tango 

Frank (Al Pacino) teaches the beautiful and charming Donna (Gabrielle Anwar) how to dance the tango.

Driven by an extravagant, tour-de-force performance by Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman is the story of Frank Slade (Pacino), a blind, retired army colonel who hires Charlie Simms (Chris O'Donnell), a poor college student on the verge of expulsion, to take care of him over Thanksgiving weekend. At the beginning of the weekend, Frank takes Charlie to New York, where he reveals to the student that he intends to visit his family, have a few terrific meals, sleep with a beautiful woman and, finally, commit suicide. The film follows the mis-matched pair over the course of the weekend, as they learn about life through their series of adventures. Though the story is a little contrived and predictable, it pulls all the right strings, thanks to O'Donnell's sympathetic supporting role and Pacino's powerful lead performance, for which he won his first Academy Award. Scent of a Woman is based on the 1975 Italian film Profumo Di Donna.

TM & © Universal (1992)
Cast: Chris O'Donnell, Al Pacino, Gabrielle Anwar
Director: Martin Brest
Producers: Martin Brest, G. Mac Brown, Ronald L. Schwary
Screenwriters: Giovanni Arpino, Bo Goldman, Ruggero Maccari, Dino Risi

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Adele / He Won't Go

He Won't Go

Some say I'll be better without you
But they don't know you like I do
Or at least the sides I thought I knew

I can't bear this time
It drags on as I lose my mind
Reminded by things I find
Like notes and clothes you left behind

Wake me up, wake me up when all is done
I won't rise until this battle's won
My dignity's become undone

But I won't go
I can't do it on my own
If this ain't love, then what is?
I'm willing to take the risk

I won't go
I can't do it on my own
If this ain't love, then what is?
I'm willing to take the risk

So petrified, I'm so scared to step into this ride
What if I lose my heart and fail declined?
I won't forgive me if I give up trying

I heard his voice today
I didn't know a single word he said
Not one resemblance to the man I met
Just a vacant broken boy instead

But I won't go
I can't do it on my own
If this ain't love, then what is?
I'm willing to take the risk

I won't go
I can't do it on my own
If this ain't love, then what is?
I am willing to take the risk

There will be times
We'll try and give it up
Bursting at the seams, no doubt
We'll almost fall apart then burn the pieces
To watch them turn to dust
But nothing will ever taint us

I won't go
I can't do it on my own
If this ain't love, then what is?
I'm willing to take the risk

I won't go
I can't do it on my own
If this ain't love, then what is?
I am willing to take the risk

Will he... will he still remember me?
Will he still love me even when he's free?
Or will he go back to the place where he would choose the poison over me?

When we spoke yesterday,
He said to hold my breath and sit and wait
"I'll be home so soon, I won't be late"

He won't go
He can't do it on his own
If this ain't love, then what is?
He's willing to take the risk

So I won't go
He can't do it on his own
If this ain't love, then what is?
I'm willing to take the risk

Cause he won't go
He can't do it on his own
If this ain't love, then what is?
We're willing to take the risk

I won't go
I can't do it on my own
If this ain't love, then what is?

I'm willing to take the risk

Monday, July 10, 2017

Christina Perri / A Thousand Years

Christina Perri 
A Thousand Years 

Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I'm afraid
To fall
But watching you stand alone
All of my doubt
Suddenly goes away somehow
One step closer


I have died every day
waiting for you
Darlin' don't be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more

Time stands still
beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything
Take away
What's standing in front of me
Every breath,
Every hour has come to this
One step closer

I have died every day
Waiting for you
Darlin' don't be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more
And all along I believed
I would find you
Time has brought
Your heart to me
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more
One step closer
One step closer

I have died every day
Waiting for you
Darlin' don't be afraid,
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more
And all along I believed
I would find you
Time has brought
Your heart to me
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more

Billie Holiday / Strange fruit
Billie Holiday / All of me


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Chris Isaak / Can´t Help Falling In Love With You
Brad Pitt and Claire Forlani
Meet Joe Black by Martin Brest

Chris Isaak 
Can´t Help Falling In Love With You

Wise men say only fools rush in
but I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay
would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can't help falling in love with you
for I can't help falling in love with you

Scenes from "Meet Joe Black", 1998, , directed by Martin Brest and starring Brad Pitt, Claire Forlani and Anthony Hopkins.
Can´t Help Falling In Love With You was sung by Elvis Presley in the movie Blue Hawaii (1968).
Album - Beyond the Sun (2011) through Vanguard Records label.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Etta James / Misty Blue

Etta James 
Misty Blue 

Composer and original singer - Bob Montgomery
Album - The Dreamer (2011)

Oh, it's been such a long, long time

Looks like I'd get you off my mind
Oh, but I can't
Just the thought of you
Turns my whole world misty blue

Oh honey, just the mention of your name
Turns the flicker to a flame
Listen to me good, baby
I think of the things we used to do
And my whole world turns misty blue

Ooooh baby, I should forget you
Heaven knows I tried
Baby, when I say that I'm glad we're through
Deep in my heart I know I've lied
I've lied, I've lied

Ooooh honey, it's been such a long, long time
Looks like I'd get you off my mind
But I can't
Just the thought of you, my love
My whole world turns misty blue

Ooooh, Oh, I can't, Oh , I can't
Oh, I can't forget you
My whole world turns misty blue
Ooooh, Oh, my love
My whole world turns misty blue
Baby, baby, baby, baby
Baby, I can't forget you
My whole world turns misty blue

Monday, July 3, 2017

Ariel by Sylvia Plath / Review

Ariel by Sylvia Plath - review

'The book is an insight into her mind, as I feel poetry is to any poet'

Wednesday 3 December 2014 09.00 GMT

Ariel by Sylvia Plath is a book of poems dominated by the idea of death, suicide and sadness, which, unfortunately, seems to be what you would imagine was on Plath's mind at the time, as she soon ended her time on this earth (hopefully an ending she did not regret). The book is an insight into her mind, as I feel poetry is to every poet (poetry is one of the most expressive forms of writing).
There are many poems in the book, but, unfortunately I am unable to write about all of them, so I will write about some of the most interesting, mind boggling and beautiful of them, to me to say the least as I am the beholder and will share the beauty I have found within these poems, the book.
Elm; a two paged insight into life, the pure horridness of it, of this, what we're all doing now, just… living, though we do not all see life in this life we must notice some people do, and try to understand why, which if you really look into it, is not the hardest thing to do, one line from this poem really shows the true sad beauty of its meaning, to me at least, and anybody who has the sense to realise this small truth: "I have started the atrocity of sunsets. Scorched to the roots".
Then there's 'Lady Lazarus', not a poem I'm obsessed with or I love to the end, but it is one line from the poem which I truly love, I'm not sure why it's got this kind of funny brutality to it, someone else might not even notice it but to me it shimmers in the poem, like a gleaming light.
"Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well".
I give this book a 8/10 for its sheer greatness.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Carol Ann Duffy / Valentine

by Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy / Valentine

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Carol Ann Duffy / Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway

by Carol Ann Duffy

'I gyve unto my wife mi second best bed...' 

(from Shakespeare's will)

The bed we loved in was a spinning world
of forests, castles, torchlights, clifftops, seas
where he would dive for pearls. My lover's words
were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses
on these lips; my body now a softer rhyme
to his, now echo, assonance; his touch
a verb dancing in the centre of a noun.
Some nights, I dreamed he'd written me, the bed 
a page beneath his writer's hands. Romance
and drama played by touch, by scent, by taste.
In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on,
dribbling their prose. My living laughing love -
I hold him in the casket of my widow's head
as he held me upon that next best bed.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Carol Ann Duffy / Warming her pearls

Warming her pearls
by Carol Ann Duffy
for Judith Radstone

Next to my own skin, her pearls. My mistress
bids me wear them, warm them, until evening
when I’ll brush her hair. At six, I place them
round her cool, white throat. All day I think of her,

resting in the Yellow Room, contemplating silk
or taffeta, which gown tonight? She fans herself
whilst I work willingly, my slow heat entering
each pearl. Slack on my neck, her rope.

She’s beautiful. I dream about her
in my attic bed; picture her dancing
with tall men, puzzled by my faint, persistent scent
beneath her French perfume, her milky stones.

I dust her shoulders with a rabbit’s foot,
watch the soft blush seep through her skin
like an indolent sigh. In her looking-glass
my red lips part as though I want to speak.

Full moon. Her carriage brings her home. I see
her every movement in my head…. Undressing,
taking off her jewels, her slim hand reaching
for the case, slipping naked into bed, the way

she always does…. And I lie here awake,
knowing the pearls are cooling even now
in the room where my mistress sleeps. All night
I feel their absence and I burn.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Les Murray / On the Mitchells

Les Murray
Poster by T.A.
On The Mitchells

The following article was written by the editor for The English Review, a UK journal for A-level English Literature students. A slightly modified version of it was published in Vol. 17, No. 2, Nov. 2006. Reproduced with permission.


Jason Clapham shows how Les Murray's sonnet "The Mitchells" is interesting for students of post-colonial literature as well as those exploring what the sonnet can do
There are certain poems that are difficult to write about because they are so easy. This is not usually the case with Les Murray's work: dense and outspoken, his poems lend themselves readily to detailed analysis and discussion. But "The Mitchells" is different: on first glance it seems to be no more than an affectionate description of two men taking a lunch break in the outback.

Celebrating something without giving it away

One way to approach poems such as these is to start not with language and form but with the key question the reader is left with. In this case, what is it about the Mitchells that the poet thinks is worth writing about? There is an interesting humility about the men, choosing to boil their water in a "prune tin" and wear an "oil-stained felt hat" even though one of them "has been rich". Then there is the curious delayed response of the second Mitchell, who would look up "with pain and subtle amusement" before repeating an identical phrase, "I'm one of the Mitchells". In fact, these two features are related: the faint, understated humour at work here is reminiscent of a quality Murray associates with "deeply Australian" traits of "restraint" coupled with the "sardonic".
Seen in the light of Murray's comments, the poem appears to be a study of Australian rural culture, even a celebration of it. Some years before writing this poem Murray expressed a "paradoxical" desire to "celebrate something without giving it away", and this poem appears to do that. There is a festive quality about the "unthinning mists of white // bursaria blossom", both in their appearance and in bursaria being another name for The Christmas Bush (as it flowers in the Australian midsummer).
The fact that the bees are described as working a "shift" creates a connection between their work in the Australian flora—bursaria and wattles—and that of the men working the land, while the second Mitchell holds leaves in his hand as he gives his name, creating a strong association between the men's identity and the land they farm.

The poem as a sonnet

It therefore might seem odd for Murray to choose the sonnet, a quintessentially European form, with resonances (for us) of genteel love games and the Elizabethan court. Taking a post-colonial approach, commentators such as Ashcroft would not be surprised: as he says in The Empire Writes Back, Les Murray
faces two directions, wishing to reconstitute experience through an act of writing which uses the tools of one culture or society and yet seeks to remain faithful to the experiences of another. (59)
The "Mitchells" does at first seem to support such a reading. A cursory glance at the poem establishes the traditional division into octave and sestet, with the octave further divided into two quatrains (at least visually). More important, perhaps, is the sense of a volta in the unexpected switch to urban in the final line, "Sometimes the scene is an avenue". As in a traditional sonnet, this line effectively alters the meaning of the sonnet as a whole: the urban "avenue" suggests that this "pair" of men represent something broader than a particular rural culture, they represent Australia itself.
We might read this as an irreverent post-colonial "subversion" of the genre. Murray has replaced the urbanity and confident virtuosity expected of the sonnet with plain speaking ("I am seeing this") and an awkward hesitation ("raise / I think for wires … The first man, if asked …"). Instead of aristocratic amours, this sonnet cheerfully presents workmen eating "big meat sandwiches out of a Styrofoam / box with a handle". There might be something indecorous about the pronounced caesurae that slice through four lines, and about the four enjambed lines of the octave; the thirteen, fourteen and sixteen syllable lines seem to struggle against the confinement of the sonnet "box". In "The Quality of Sprawl", a poem published shortly after "The Mitchells", the poet seems to describe this spirit of irreverence as quintessentially Australian:

Sprawl is doing your farming by aeroplane, roughly ...

Sprawl occurs in art. The fifteenth to twenty-first 
lines in a sonnet, for example.
Sprawl gets up the nose of many people ...
So "The Mitchells" can be read as Murray working against the sonnet form, provoking the "centre", trying to free himself of it.
Beyond this, however, such readings are too limiting to allow us to discover much of interest about the poem. It is worth reminding ourselves that the octave-sestet structure of the sonnet dates back to pre-colonial Europe, beyond Dante to Lentini in early 13th century Italy. It could be argued that Murray is doing what poets have always done, importing foreign genres and adapting them to local language and experience (the English sonnet tradition began this way, with Wyatt in the sixteenth century). Seeing Murray as a sort of Janus, with one eye on the poetic genres of the "centre" and the other on the marginal "Otherness" of Australian experience is simply inaccurate. As he remarks in his introduction to Hell and After, Murray feels he has struggled throughout his career against "the narrow national protectionisms which still impede much poetry in English from reaching its natural public across the whole Anglophone world". Post-colonial readings, many of them emanating from the "centre", seem to constitute one such "protectionism", as they leave Murray with a secondary status.

The Vernacular Republic

Language is what "The Mitchells" is really about. The reader is immediately struck by the lack of literary pretension right from the opening four words of the poem, and the language of the whole poem seems to imitate the qualities of directness, reticence and humour discernable in the speech it includes. There is little that could be described as "non-standard" English, grammatically speaking, but the attempts to capture the cadences of Australian speech are unmistakable. This is particularly apparent on hearing Les Murray read this poem; listen, for example, to the elongation of the /a/ sound of the word "handle" and the lack of any sort of subordinating pause around the phrase "I think" in the third line.
The first published version of this poem bore the more grandiose title "Dedication, Written Last, for the Vernacular Republic" (1974). Although this was replaced, Murray used the idea of a "vernacular republic" for his 1976 edition of selected poems, where the Australian vernacular is held to be key to understanding Australian identity. It is "the matrix [of Australian] distinctiveness" he says, "[w]e are a colloquial nation", a "vernacular republic".
The poem dignifies Australian speech, presenting it as beautiful in its own way and worthy of being immortalised in the high art of the sonnet. In his review of The Macquarie Dictionary (the first dictionary of Australian English), Murray says
how much larger and richer our dialect is than many had thought ... gently but firmly shifting our linguistic perception, so that our entire language is henceforth centred for us, not thousands of miles away, but here where we live.
His poetry might be said to have a similar effect.

Nearly everything they say is ritual

In the third to last line of the poem, the reader is struck by an apparent disjunction between the second man announcing that he is "I'm one of the Mitchells" and our being told that one of the men "has been rich / but never stopped wearing the oil-stained felt hat". When we look at the following line the logic becomes clear: "Nearly everything / they say is ritual", the purpose of their speaking is, like many rituals, to express a sense of identity and belonging, and the hat serves also as a badge of identity. Indeed, the speaker persistently fails to distinguish one man from the other - what is important is the fact that they are both Mitchells, not their differences or Christian names.
It is worth noting that the name Mitchell, like the name Murray, is strongly associated with the Scottish settlers of Australia (Les Murray's own family arrived in Sydney from Scotland in 1848, fleeing poverty caused by the highland clearances). By declaring that they are Mitchells, the men are honouring their "lost" Gaelic roots, an important constituent of Australian identity: as Murray has said, "Many [Austrialians'] attitudes, even their turns of phrase, are only really comprehensible in terms of that lost inheritance". The poem as a whole can be seen as a sort of "clanship" ritual, like a number of other Murray poems, namely "Four Gaelic Poems", "A Skirl for Outsets" and "Elegy for Angus Macdonald of Cnoclinn" which concludes

.. Even the claim I make at times

to write Gaelic in English words 
would make you sniff (but also smile),

but my fathers were Highlanders long ago

then Borderers, before this landfall …

Waltzing Matilda

The Scottish theme is arguably continued in the ritualised actions of the men. The very act of brewing tea and eating together by a campfire is ritualistic, and peculiarly Australian. But many would be also be reminded of a better known bush tea drinker:

Oh! there once was a swagman camped in the Billabong,

Under the shade of a Coolabah tree;
And he sang as he looked at his old billy boiling,
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?"
Less well known, perhaps, is that this celebration of Australian experience and "unofficial national anthem" as it is sometimes called, was written by a poet also from New South Wales, of Scottish descent, and that the tune for "Waltzing Matilda" is actually a Scottish folk tune.

Who is seeing this?

One of the interesting features of "The Mitchells" is the positioning of the poem's speaker. At the opening of the poem he describes what he is "seeing", apparently at some distance or hidden in the wattles, close enough to hear the bees humming around it mingled with the mens' voices and the bubbling of the water. He seems unsure of the nature of the work they are undertaking and, as if seeking clarification "overhear[s]" a comment by "one" of the men (he is unsure which). The remainder of the poem is presented first in the conditional, as the speaker has an imaginary conversation with "the pair", perhaps because he is no longer able to hear, and then he makes an observation that could sounds made at a distance: "one has been rich / but never stopped wearing his oil-stained felt hat".
So who is the speaker? The speaker's observation of the men seems to stand in for the reader's, his fascination prefigures our own. Like him, we live predominantly urban lives, amongst "avenues" rather than wattles, and watch this ritual and drama of this scene played out with a sense of nostalgia for the certainty with which they would answer the question left unspoken in the poem: who are you?

Further Reading

Ashcroft, B. (2002) The Empire Writes Back, New Accents

Longley, M. (2004) Snow Water, Jonathan Cape
Matthews, S. (2001) Les Murray, Manchester University Press.
Murray, L. (2003) New Collected Poems, Carcanet.
Murray, L. Hell and After (2005), Carcanet. [Read the Introduction]
Williams, H. (2005) Collected Poems, Faber.

– Jason Clapham teaches English at St Edward's Oxford

Les Murray on The Mitchells

After completing the article I had the opportunity to ask Les Murray about the poem. Here are some of the remarks he made in his fax of 22 March, 2006.
On title of the poem:
"I stuck with the longer and mightier title for a little while, quickly coming to the conclusion that it was too large a title for that short poem … The poem felt more comfortable with its less grandiose name "The Mitchells": that's a surname with some resonance in Oz, partly from the splendid white Major Mitchell cockatoo, partly from the real surname of Dame Nellie Melba [soprano], partly from the venerable Mitchell Library in Sydney etc. etc. though I was mainly thinking of Joe Michell, an itinerant working in Henry Lawson's short stories. The poem did stand as a sort of epigraph to Ethnic Radio [see Bibliography], in which the ethnicity I meant was an Australian one."
On the sonnet form:
"As to my attitude to the sonnet back then, I dimly recall preferring the Petrarchan to the Shakespearean because the Petrarchan tended to integrate the last six lines into the poem, even after a strong volta, while a Shakespearean one might be no more than 12-lines with a pat concluding couplet, like the rhymed couplet that often the end of a scene in one of the plays. But I was never very steamed up about all that, and I can't recall being very political about subverting the sonnet form, if indeed that's what I did. Maybe I was grinning to myself just a little though—I was still at war with the dimensions of Empire and Posh back then …"