About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Tolstoys, White Ribbons, & A Single Man

Gasp! Yesterday I made it through a movie marathon getting prepped for tonight's Academy Awards. So here are my last three Oscar picks: The Last Station, The White Ribbon, and A Single Man.

But before we get to the reviews, take a look at this postcard which I received from a Postcrossings friend in St. Petersburg, Russia last week. The postcard was especially intriguing--the colorful, onion-domed churches on the stamps, the Russian postmark, and the mystery photo.

I couldn't translate the name for the man in the photo so was just guessing Russian writer or composer. Until yesterday, when I saw this face again in The Last Station, the film about Leo Tolstoy, the Russian writer and utopian movement leader in the late 1800s. The same writer who, as it turned out, experienced War and Peace in his own life.

The Last Station -- Best Actress, Helen Mirren (Tolstoy's wife, Countess Sofya) and Best Supporting Actor, James McAvoy (Tolstoy's secretary Valentin)

This film focuses on the last years of Tolstoy's (played by Christopher Plummer ) life and the power struggle between his wife, Countess Sofra and Vladimir Chertkov, the leader of the utopian movement which Tolstoy founded. It is also an account of the Tolstoy's "war of the roses" marriage. And then thrown in between them is the idealistic young secretary Valentin (played by McAvoy) who is overcome with the honor of working with Tolstoy and needing Countess Sofra's help in navigating his first experiences at love with one of the young women followers of the movement. Here's a glimpse into everyday life in Utopia:

Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer are both perfectly cast as the aging Tolstoys. They love each other still on many levels, despite their brawling dramas. Tolstoy wants peace to finish his work; Sofra wants to protect her 13 children's inheritance from Chertkov and keep Tolstoy to herself. After one outburst over him wanting to go away from their estate to work, Tolstoy tells Sofra, "You don't need a husband, you need a Greek chorus."

I first noticed McAvoy in First King of Scotland, then Atonement and Becoming Jane as well as some minor roles in BBC dramas. In Last Station he was the perfect foil for the Mirren and Plummer characters. It won't happen tonight, but I be happy if best actress went to Mirren and supporting actor went to McAvoy.

Continued later today!

Later today--I just lost my reviews of The White Ribbon and A Single Man. It's 15 minutes to Academy showtime, so Blogger must have been telling me "enough already"! For the record, I hope Colin Firth wins for A Single Man and that The White Ribbon wins Best Foreign Language Film.

Enjoy the show!


The Church Lady said...

Hello Faye! Hope you enjoyed the Oscars last night! I was just discussing with FW why we hardly watch any movies that won an Oscar. I have yet to watch Slumdog Millionaire. Since my girls are young, we are still caught up in watching the "Kid Movies". But, I will definitely be watching Avatar as soon as it is released!

Debs said...

I still haven't seen most of the Oscars yet, but this film looks wonderful and I love James McEvoy too. Such a fine actor and I thought he was wonderful in Atonement.

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