“The Liebster Award”

I would like to extend a very special thank you to Cara from Silver Screen Serenade for nominating me for The Liebster Award; I greatly appreciate it.  If you aren’t already a member of Cara’s blog, when you finish reading this, click the link to her site, and become a follower. She consistently posts well written and interesting content on her blog, which deals with a diverse array of films and television shows. Cara is also someone who is great when it comes to supporting the work of other bloggers.

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As with all blog awards there are certain rules that the recipient must follow.

1. Post the award on your site.

2. The blogger who has been nominated must link back to the person who nominated them.

3. The nominee must answer the eleven questions given to them by the person who nominated them.

4. The person who has been nominated must choose eleven bloggers who have less than 200 followers to answer a set of questions.

5. When you are nominated, the only blogger you can’t nominate is the blogger who nominated you for the award.

The following are the questions that Cara asked me and her other nominees for this particular award:

1. Favorite vacation spot?

In the United States, San Diego, California.

Internationally, various places in Europe.

2. Favorite color?

Green

3. Favorite dessert?

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae

  1. Favorite black and white movie?

Psycho.

5.  Favorite superhero?

The X-Men, I know it’s not just one person, but I couldn’t just pick one.

6. Favorite television show?

There are plenty of television shows I currently love, for example “Game of Thrones,” “Sherlock” and “Homeland,” as well as shows I have loved in years past, such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “The Twilight Zone,” and the original “Star Trek;” since this question asks me to pick just one favorite past and present, it would have to be Dexter.

7. Favorite book?

I am sorry, this question is just too hard for me to answer. I read a great many authors, working in a variety of genres, so I would have to pick an author from each genre of writing, and I still probably couldn’t narrow it down to just one author per genre.

8. Favorite Beatles song?

Drive my Car.

9. Favorite dog breed?

Golden Retriever.

10. Favorite beverage?

Coffee to wake up in the morning.

11. Favorite nerdy franchise?

Harry Potter.

The following are the bloggers I am nominating for the Liebster Blog Award, per the rules I am bound by.

1. http://ramblingsofacinephile.wordpress.com

2. http://returntothe80s.wordpress.com

3. http://mykindofmovie.wordpress.com

4. http://Beermovie.net

5. http://ccpopculture.com

6. http://filmnerdblog.wordpress.com

7. http://hollowknowledge.wordpress.com

8. http://tallglassoffilm.wordpress.com

9. http://oneblondeandonebrunette.wordpress.com

10. http://confessionsfromageekmind.wordpress.com

11. http://flashbackbackslide.wordpress.com

Those of you whom I have nominated, answer the same questions that Cara asked me.

Again Cara, thank you very much for nominating me for the award.

 

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Foreign Favourites: Lilya 4-Ever

Originally posted on Alex Raphael:

I wasn’t expecting to add any more to my Foreign Favourites series, but when Robbinsrealm Blog got in touch I just had to let him in. In fact, there’s really no reason to close it off. So if anyone is reading this and wants to write an entry of a film that hasn’t already been covered and keeps to the other basic rules listed, I’d be happy to put it up.

I’ve put Robbinrealm Blog’s review below. If you haven’t already checked out his very impressive site, you really should. It’s got loads of intelligent and thoughtful reviews and articles, including recent ones on House of Cards and the career of Mexican golden boy Alfonso Cuarón.

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Synopsis: Swedish director Lukas Moodysson’s third movie, “Lilya 4-Ever,” concerns itself with its title character, Lilya, played in an emotionally impactful way by Russian actress, Oksana Akinshina. Hungry and living in poverty…

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“Alfonso Cuarón – A History Making Director”

A month ago yesterday, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, The 86th Academy Awards, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, took place. When Alfonso Cuarón took the stage to accept his Oscar for Best Director, for the film “Gravity,” the evening became historic. In that moment, Cuarón became the first Latino to win the award. Born on November 28, 1961, in Mexico City, Mexico, Cuarón’s first interest in film came after he watched the Apollo moon landing on television. At the time, he wanted to be either an astronaut or a filmmaker; upon learning what went into becoming an astronaut, he opted for the latter, and the world of cinema has been enriched by that decision.

I learned that in order to be an astronaut, you had to be part of the army, and I said, ‘okay, I want to be a director and do films in space.”

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Cuarón’s love of movies was nurtured by his mother, who was passionate about film, and encouraged her son to explore his artistic dreams. Growing up, some of Cuarón’s favorite films consisted of the entire “Planet of the Apes” series. But his viewing habits weren’t limited to just science fiction. In fact, he set a personal goal for himself, to see a film at every movie theater throughout Mexico City; this in turn exposed him to a wide array of diverse genres. He marveled at the techniques of directors such as Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo), Stanley Kubrick (Lolita), F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu) and Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark).

Cuarón attended film school at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He was expelled, however, for working on a film in English, which was counter to the universities rules and regulations. Twenty years old, and with his then girlfriend pregnant, he began taking behind the scenes jobs, such as cameraman, grip, sound man, among others in Mexican film and television. Finally, having his fill of working for other people, after he finished scripting several episodes of the television show ” Hora Marcada,” he decided to branch out on his own.

His first feature film “Solo con tu Pareja,which he co-wrote with his brother Carlos, was released in October of 1992, to English speaking audiences, as “Love in the Time of Hysteria.” The film concerns itself with a man who has been a serial womanizer, but after receiving word that he has contracted HIV, a ruse perpetrated against him by one of his spurned lovers, he begins to reflect on his life. The film caught the attention of Academy Award winning director, Sydney Pollack, (Out of Africa) who hired Cuarón to direct an episode of the series “Fallen Angels” which aired for two seasons on Showtime. The series featured appearances by Benicio Del Toro, Tom Hanks, Diane Lane, Joe Mantegna, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, and a host of others. In addition, certain episodes were directed by Peter Bogdanovich, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Steven Soderbergh, but only Cuarón walked away with a CableACE Award for his directing on the 1994 episode titled “Murder Obliquely.”

Cuarón’s American directing debut came with the 1995 film “A Little Princess” which was based on the novel written by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The film would go on to be nominated for two Oscars, one for Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki and the other forBest Art Direction-Set Decoration for Bo Welch and Cheryl Carasik. Three years later, he followed with “Great Expectations, which was a modern day adaptation of the classic work by Charles Dickens. The film starred Oscar nominated actor Ethan Hawke, (Training Day) and Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man). Cuarón has said that while he was pleased with the aesthetic quality of the film, that the script wasn’t as strong as it could have been, in addition to other problems, all of which he takes responsibility for.

“It’s a movie I did for the wrong reasons. I was too engaged in the machinery” — in reading scripts, that is, and taking meetings, trolling for stars.”

In his next film, “Y Tu Mama Tambien,he again collaborated on the script with his brother Carlos. At the time of its release in June 2001, it became the highest grossing film in Mexican history. In addition, the Cuarón brothers were nominated for the Academy Award and BAFTA for their screenplay, and the film was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. The plot centers around three characters, two teenagers, Julio (Gael García Bernal)and Tenoch (Diego Luna), and the attractive Luisa (Maribel Verdú), whom they meet at a family wedding. While trying to impress her, they tell Luisa that they plan to travel to a secluded Mexican beach that is extremely beautiful. The beach, as well as the road trip, are complete fabrications on the part of the teens. Luisa, however, after learning of her husband’s (Juan Carlos Remolina) infidelity, decides to accompany the guys on their trip. Throughout the duration of the movie’s runtime, the film transitions from being a comedy to a drama, which speaks on topics such as friendship, sexuality, and social status.

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Next, Cuarón was hired to helm the third film based on J.K. Rowling’s iconic Harry Potter books, the 2004 “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” The movie is considered by many to be the best entry in the series. Interestingly enough, Cuarón had not seen the first two films, nor had he read any of the novels. His friend, Oscar nominated and BAFTA winning, fellow director, Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) talked him into the project. Two years later, the Cuarón directed “Children of Men, an adaptation of the novel by P.D. James, opened to strong critical praise and garnered Academy Award and BAFTA nominations. Sadly, it didn’t resonate with the movie going public at the time, but, thanks to strong word of mouth, it has found a new generation of fans on DVD. The film would go on to win the BAFTA for Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki and Best Production Design for Jim Clay, Geoffrey Kirkland and Jennifer Williams. The movie takes place during the year 2027 in and around a dystopian London, England. No child has been born during a span of eighteen years, and the human race is facing the very real possibility of its own extinction. Clive Owen, who portrays London office worker Theo, agrees to help guide a pregnant woman, Kee, (Clare-Hope Ashitey) on an dangerous journey to a sanctuary at sea.

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Seven years would pass before another feature film directed by Cuarón would be released; it was one for which he co-wrote the screenplay with his son Jonas. The highly entertaining, innovative and visually stunning “Gravity” took four and half years to turn from concept into a finished film before premiering on August 28, 2013 at the Venice Film Festival. Starring Academy Award winners Sandra Bullock (The Proposal) and George Clooney (Michael Clayton) as two American astronauts stranded in space, because their shuttle was destroyed by the debris from a Russian satellite. The years of hard work would pay off for Cuarón when the film received ten Academy Award nominations and seven victories. Cuarón not only won the Oscar for Best Director, but he also won the BAFTA and Golden Globe, as well as a multitude of other awards. To quote Cuarón discussing the movie and the feel he was striving for he had the following to say:

“We wanted Gravity to be a journey in which people recognize the world that we’re talking about. We wanted it to almost have the experience of an Imax documentary gone wrong.”

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What I have written in the proceeding paragraphs about Cuarón’s films was meant to serve as nothing more than a brief introduction charting his career thus far. Any one of the movies that were mentioned could easily have been turned into their own blog, and, in fact, have been by many of the talented bloggers I read on wordpress.com.

Currently airing on NBC is the television show “Believe, which Cuarón worked on creating with J.J. Abrams (Super 8). The show deals with a young female child, who possesses supernatural abilities, as well as the people who are trying to protect her from those who would exploit her.

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Cuarón is certainly a director who takes his time in-between projects, but the results of quality over quantity shine through when he does release a new film. In closing, I look forward to seeing what a true talent like Alfonso Cuarón will decide to direct for his next film, and hopefully there will be many more in the years to come.

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“No Sophomore Slump for Season Two of House of Cards”

Spoilers throughout regarding season one.

Minor spoilers regarding season two.

The only problem I had with season one of the critically acclaimed and immensely popular, Netflix series, “House of Cards,” was that I had to wait a little under a year for it to return. I figuratively devoured the strong writing, spot on direction, and engaging first season of the stellar political drama during several sessions of binge watching. Finally, the day had arrived when Netflix would release, all at once, the thirteen episodes that comprise the second season of the show. Would it, however, fall victim to a sophomore slump? I am glad to report that it doesn’t disappoint.

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Two time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) once again portrays political, Machiavellian manipulator, Francis ‘Frank’ Underwood. During the first season, he is introduced to the viewer as a Democratic congressman from South Carolina, who also happens to be the House Majority Whip. At the end of the first season Frank will rise in the political hierarchy of Washington politics, all the way to the Vice-Presidency. I wouldn’t dare spoil it for those of you who have yet to watch, or are finishing the second season of the captivating drama, as to whether or not he achieves his ultimate goal of becoming President. In addition, Spacey’s character continues to break the fourth wall, as he did during the first season, by speaking directly to the camera, as if he is addressing the viewer personally.

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The motives for Underwood’s duplicitous behavior were made clear during the first episode of season one. Those motives all boil down to revenge against President Walker, (Michael Gill) to whom Frank offered his considerably valuable political support, in exchange for being made Secretary of State. The President reneges on his promise by giving the position to Senator Kern, (Kevin Kilner) completely unaware that he has just painted a target on his back for the viperous Underwood to strike at. The road to Frank’s obtaining the most prestigious job in American politics doesn’t end and begin with Walker; it is paved with victims, who will suffer both professionally, as well as personally; and for certain individuals – such as the alcoholic and drug addicted, Pennsylvania congressman and gubernatorial candidate, Peter Russo, (Corey Stoll) – they will pay with their lives.

The second season, once again, features an outstanding ensemble cast. Golden Globe winner Robin Wright, (Forest Gump) returns as Claire, Frank’s wife and co-conspirator; they are the epitome of the ultimate power couple. She, just like Frank, is ruthless. The difference between husband and wife is that unlike Frank, who has no remorse for his actions, Claire sometimes struggles with feelings of guilt, even going so far as to cry after hanging up the phone with First Lady, Tricia Walker (Joanna Going). No longer concerning herself with the non-profit organization CWI (Clean Water Initiative), she sets her sights on getting a sexual assault bill passed in the Congress that would allow members of the military to bring sexual harassment suits in civilian courts. The catalyst for her actions, is the result of her talking, during a live interview, about being raped, when she was in college, by someone who has risen to a position of prominence in the military.

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Additional returning and new characters include, Michael Kelly, (Chronicle) in the role of Doug Stamper. He is Underwood’s unquestioningly loyal, Chief of Staff. This season, however, the work he does for Frank is at odds with his ever growing obsession with Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan). During the first season she is placed into a forced hiding by Stamper, at the behest of Underwood, because she is the only link between Underwood and what really happened to Peter Russo. Capitol policeman, Edward Meechum, (Nathan Darrow) another Underwood loyalist, gets rewarded by being made a member of the secret service, after Underwood becomes Vice-President. Billionaire business man, Raymond Tusk, portrayed by Gerald McRaney, (Simon & Simon) long time friend of President Walker, becomes a legitimate threat in regard to Underwood’s achieving his ultimate goal. Hired gun Remy Danton’s (Mahershala Ali) loyalties to his boss, Tusk, come into question. The relationship that tests Remy’s loyalty is with the new whip of the Congress, Jackie Sharp, (Molly Parker) who he becomes romantically involved with. She is a three term, congresswoman, from California, and a former member of the military. Underwood personally appeals to her to run for the position, as opposed to his more seasoned colleagues. Crusading reporter, Lucas Goodwin, (Sebastian Arcelus) is attempting to expose Underwood for the conniving person he really is, as well as implicate Frank in the murders of both Peter Russo and someone else, who shall remain nameless at this time, to avoid a major spoiler for those of you who have not yet seen season two. Fellow reporter, Janine Skorsky, (Constance Zimmer) originally working alongside Lucas, leaves him to his own devices. She has fled, in fear for her life, to upstate New York, to teach and spend time with her mother. The back story of Freddy, (Reg E. Cathey) who owns Freddy’s barbeque, Underwood’s favorite place to eat, is expanded. Wealthy Chinese, businessman, Xander Feng, (Terry Chen) also joins the cast. He is a money launderer and associate of Raymond Tusk. Mr. Feng is yet another obstacle which will present a problem for Underwood’s path to the presidency. Those characters, as well as host of others, is one of the main driving forces behind what makes the second season such compelling viewing.

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I am not going to do a review of each episode. That would make this particular blog far too long, and ruin the pleasure I hope you will derive from watching the second season. The majority of the episodes concern themselves with current issues such as: cyber terrorism; the United States relationship with China; splinter fractions within political parties; and the wheeling and dealing of Washington politics. Netflix has already committed to a third season of the show, even though it originally was set to run for only two seasons. In fact, Netflix executives have unofficially stated, that the series will continue as long as Spacey and Wright are willing to work on the series.

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“Dolores Claiborne”

Normally, I don’t like to watch a film based on best selling author Stephen King’s work until I have read the book or short story that the movie is derived from. “Dolores Claiborne,” which was originally released on March 24, 1995, is a rare exception. King wrote the Claiborne character specifically with Academy Award winning actress Kathy Bates (Fried Green Tomatoes) in mind, after he met her while she was working on the set of the film “Misery.” The movie was directed by Oscar winner Taylor Hackford, (The Devil’s Advocate) and written for the screen by Oscar and BAFTA nominated Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy). The film’s runtime is 132 minutes, and various parts of its plot touch upon the genres of crime, drama, mystery and thriller.

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At the start of the film, the viewer is presented with a seemingly open and shut case of murder. A bit of arguing takes place between the bitter, hard working, maid / caregiver, Claiborne, and her employer, the wealthy, overbearing, Vera Donovan, portrayed by Judy Parfitt (Girl with a Pearl Earring). The argument comes to an end when Donovan seems to have been pushed by Dolores, and is laying at the bottom of the staircase, clinging to life. Bates’ character hurriedly makes her way into the kitchen, looking for something that will finish the job. She picks up a rolling pin, and returns to the staircase. As she is standing with the weapon raised high above her head, ready to bludgeon Vera to death, the mailman arrives, and Dolores drops the rolling pin, stunned by his entrance. Vera passes away moments later, and Claiborne is taken into custody by Oscar winner Christopher Plummer’s (Beginners), character, Detective, John Mackey.

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Plummer’s character is the worst type of member of law enforcement, at least at the stage of his career he is introduced to the viewer. He is willing to put his ego pertaining to closing cases, and his wounded pride, above all else, instead of adhering to the policy of innocent until proven guilty. Detective Mackey is hell bent on seeing Claiborne spend the rest of her days behind bars, no matter what. He goes so far as to write a police report containing nothing but circumstantial evidence, that he wants to be taken as proof of Claiborne’s guilt. The viewer will soon learn that this is not the first time Dolores has been investigated. Apparently, her husband, Joe St. George, who was, among other vile things, an abusive alcoholic, played by David Strathairn, (Good Night, and Good Luck) died under suspicious circumstances many years earlier, and because the death was ruled an accident, Mackey feels a murderer walked free. (As an aside, Oscar and Golden Globe nominated actor, John C. Reilly, (Chicago) also appears in the film for a short duration of total screen time as Constable, Frank Stamshaw).

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Tenacious, cigarette smoking, pill addled, New York reporter, Selena St. George, compellingly portrayed by Jennifer Jason Leigh, (Weeds) receives a fax with her mother’s picture on it and the written words “isn’t this your mother.” Temporarily putting on hold an assignment that would take her to Arizona to cover an important story, she returns home to the sleepy, island town, off the coast of Maine, where she grew up. Mother and daughter have been estranged for fifteen years. Selena is a hard character to warm up to, but one begins to better understand her attitude, thanks to a series of flashbacks, that effortlessly take the viewer from past to present and back again. Along the way, what is offered in those scenes helps the viewer to see why both Claiborne and Selena have turned out to be the women they are, at their respective stages of life.

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Dolores is taken from the police station by Selena, and since Vera’s house is now deemed a crime scene, they return to the home they lived in during Selena’s youth. The house is worse for wear, thanks to broken windows, graffiti, courtesy of some of the more mean spirited townsfolk, and the lack of anyone having really lived there for a long time. The tension between Claiborne and Selena is palpable, as long dormant secrets start to make their way to the surface, causing each to face the reality of what actually took place in the past.

Bates was the perfect choice to play Dolores, offering up a nuanced performance that captures a wide gamut of emotions. The entire cast, for that matter, is excellent; there is not a one dimensional character to be found among them. Will Detective Mackey finally get his long festering revenge against Dolores? Did she really kill her husband years earlier or was it an accident? What events from the past have Dolores and Selena attempted to repress? Why, after so many years of loyal service to Vera, a woman who was nearing the end of her life, would Dolores kill her? All of those questions and more will be answered if you take the little over two hours to watch the powerful drama, which at its heart explores the lengths people will go to protect the ones they love most in this world.

 

 

 

 

 

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“The Shining’s Delbert Grady – Philip Stone’s Most Famous Role”

I have watched Oscar and BAFTA award winning director, Stanley Kubrick’s modern day horror classic “The Shining” numerous times over the years. Each time I view it, I sit riveted in front of my television screen, knowing full well the ending, but still opting to take the descending journey into madness with the Overlook Hotel’s caretaker, Jack Torrance. I would imagine most who watch the film know that Torrance is portrayed by three time Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson, who, per his usual, acquits himself excellently in the role. In this film based on bestselling author Stephen King’s novel, there is, however, another actor that perhaps not as many people know about. The actor I am referring to is Philip Stone, the subject of this blog, and the man who appears as former Overlook caretaker, Delbert Grady. A role, that while there is no denying is short in terms of its screen duration, is paramount in regard to putting Nicholson’s character on a destructive path from which there is no return.

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Philip Stone was born on April 14, 1924 in Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. The only difference between his birth name and the one he used as a professional actor was the removal of the letter ‘s’ from his last name, thus changing it from Stones to Stone. Those who were familiar with him, no doubt spotted him throughout the years in a variety of roles. In fact, in addition to being a prolific stage actor, his resume lists 106 different television and film productions that he was a part of during his career, including roles on television shows such as: “The Avengers” as Dr. Richard J. Tredding; “Coronation Street” as Detective Sergeant Sowman; “The Rat Catchers” as Brigadier Davidson; and as Sir John Gallagher on the show “Justice.”  He also played: the father of Malcolm McDowell’s villainous character Alex, in “A Clockwork Orange;” portrayed real life German general, Alfred Jodl, in the  film “Hitler: The Last Ten Days;was the Lyndon family lawyer, Graham, in “Barry Lyndon; and made an appearance as Captain Blumburtt in Oscar winning director Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”

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Stone dropped out of school at a young age to go to work at the Jonas Woodhead & Sons engineering firm in Leeds where he lived. When his country needed him in 1943, he answered the call, and served admirably in the Royal Air Force, during the Second World War. Prior to his military service, his love of acting took shape when he attended some drama classes at Leeds College. After returning from the war, he made up his mind to become a member of the acting profession, and proceeded to go after roles with an unrelenting zeal.

His first big break came in 1947 when he landed a supporting part in the play “The Sleeping Clergyman,” which was being staged at the Criterion Theatre. Sadly, however, his dreams would be put on hold for several years, due to his contracting tuberculosis. After going through the necessary treatment, he returned to work at the engineering company, but acting remained his first love. In 1953, he began to both act in and direct local productions at the Leeds Arts Centre, where he would wind up meeting and marrying Margaret Pickard, with whom he would have three children. In 1960, he moved to London, to make his mark. It was in London, where his career as an in demand character actor in television and film truly began to burgeon, and continued to flourish from that moment onward, until his passing on June 15, 2003. For a time, he also ran his own production company, “Philip Stone Productions,” 

While writing this blog, I stopped to ask myself the following question: What did I find so intriguing about Delbert Grady, that I would want to look into the life of the character actor who played him? At first it seems easy enough to dismiss Grady’s presence as nothing more than another vivid figment of Torrance’s imagination, like, for instance, Lloyd the Bartender (Joe Turkel). After all, Jack’s a recovering alcoholic, who’s been sober for less than a year, snowed in at a hotel, located miles from civilization and the nearest bar, even if he did feel like getting off the wagon to knock back some shots, or drink a few cold ones. In addition, the peace and quiet that was supposed to give him the requisite time to work on and complete his novel appears to be having the opposite effect; so who could really blame the guy if he was suffering from cabin fever – -  regardless of how big the cabin is. Therefore why should I spend so much time reflecting on the conversation that Grady has with Jack in the bathroom?

Warning: For those of you who have not seen the film, and want to, there are spoilers contained throughout the remainder of the blog.

For starters, Jack not only enlightens Grady regarding the horrid manner in which Grady disposed of his own family, but he also tells him that he, Grady, was the former caretaker of the Overlook. At first Grady denies having any such memory of serving in that occupation, but when Torrance pushes him on the issue, he is none too pleased. The following exchange of dialogue, although simplistic in the words that are spoken, has always been one of the main catalysts for my contemplations about “The Shining” after each viewing.

“Mr. Grady, you were the caretaker here.”

“I am sorry to differ with you sir, but you are the caretaker, you’ve always been the caretaker. I should know sir, I have always been here.”

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Rather than go into explanation, as to the meaning of the line, Grady informs Torrance that his son Danny (Danny Lloyd) has a special ability, one much greater perhaps than Jack has ever realized. Not only does he have an unusual gift, but he is attempting to use his ‘shining power’ to contact the Overlook’s cook, Dick Hallorann, (Scatman Crothers) to help save the day. Torrance admits that his son is a willful boy, but that a great deal of the blame falls on his wife, Wendy (Shelly Duvall) who interferes in things. After suggesting to Torrance that he speak with his family, he takes things a step further and says perhaps talking is not enough. Using cryptic language, thereby never actually using the words ‘murder’ or ‘kill,’ Grady informs Torrance that his girls didn’t like the Overlook, and one of them stole a pack of matches in an attempt to burn the hotel down. Furthermore, he lets Torrance know that he not only corrected her, but when his wife tried to keep him from carrying out his responsibilities, he corrected her as well.

If it were merely the one conversation Torrance had with Grady in the bathroom, preceded by several occasions of craving liquor so much that he conjured up a bartender named Lloyd, I would dismiss it all to be nothing more than meaningless delusions; the potency of Jack’s overactive imagination creating conversations he would forget about after a good night’s sleep . . . but not so fast. Danny and Wendy also see and hear strange ghostly images of figures from the Overlook Hotel’s notorious history. These ghostly figures let me as a viewer know that what is taking place is not just imagination, but the awakening of the dormant evil that is trapped inside the hotel. For example, Grady’s brutally murdered twin girls (Lisa & Louise Burns) appear to Danny several times throughout the movie, at one point imploring him to stay with them so they can all play together forever. There is also the tuxedo attired, injured man, (Norman Gay) who has blood caked down the front of his face, but still raises his cocktail glass to Wendy and says, “great party isn’t it,”  Not to mention the literal river of blood that erupts forth from the elevator as Wendy is frantically searching the hotel to find Danny.

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Why does Grady say those lines to Torrance in the bathroom? Why would Jack Torrance have always been the caretaker, and how has Grady always been with the hotel? There is no explanation given; it is left to the viewer to speculate. The same way, the final frame of the film, made my jaw drop the first time I viewed it, as the camera focuses in on a picture which reads: “Overlook Hotel, July 4th Ball, 1921.” The picture speaks theoretical volumes, but, just like the conversation, offers no clear cut, concise information. The only concrete thing I was able to take away from the photo was that Jack Torrance looks exactly the same in 1921 as he does in the present; once again leaving further speculation up for discussion. I would love to hear any of your thoughts regarding those or any other aspects of the film.

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“Emilia Clarke – The Mother of Dragons & More”

Born on May 1, 1987, in London, England, Emmy nominated actress Emilia Clarke, thanks to the critically acclaimed and immensely popular HBO series “Game of Thrones, is known these days by many names. The HBO series is based on author George R.R. Martin’s best selling series of books, “A Song of Ice and Fire. Clarke’s character is referred to as, amongst other names and titles, Daenerys Targaryen, Khaleesi, The Mother of Dragons and Mhysa. Clarke, who grew up in Berkshire, almost wasn’t known by any of those names. In fact, she almost wasn’t even a cast member on the show, never mind a starring one. According to BAFTA and Emmy nominated show runners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, actress Tazmin Merchant, (Jane Eyre) was originally cast in the role. She even filmed the pilot episode before being replaced by Clarke.

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Emilia’s interest in acting began when she was a small child. Her father, a theater sound engineer, was working on a production of the musical “Show Boat, which her mother took her to see, and from that moment forward, Emilia knew acting was the life she wanted. After completing her education at St. Edward’s School, where she first appeared in two plays, and the Rye St. Antony School, both in Oxford, Clarke studied acting at the Drama Centre London. While there, not only did she act in ten plays, but also appeared for the first time on television in the role of Saskia Mayer, in the 2009 episode “Empty Nest,” on the BBC show “Doctors.”  Work as an actress didn’t exactly take off upon her graduating from the Drama Centre. She paid her dues as a waitress, and tended bar, as she waited for her big break in entertainment to present itself. According to Clarke, while she was working at her day job, she received a phone call from her agent regarding the role on “Game of Thrones.” In order not to be fired for taking a personal call, she had to excuse herself, go to the ladies room, stand up on the toilet, and whisper. Several weeks later, she flew to Los Angeles, California to meet with HBO executives and audition for the part.

The character first introduced to fans during season one is an innocent, timid young girl, fraught with low self-esteem, who cowers whenever her brother, Viserys, (Harry Lloyd) yells at her. She is given in marriage, against her will, by Viserys to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa). He is the fearsome leader of a tribe of horse warriors known as the Dothraki. Viserys, along with Daenerys, are the last of the Targaryens. The reason for Viserys using his sister as a bartering tool is so he can cross the Narrow Sea, with the Dothraki as his army, to reach the continent of Westeros, which houses the Seven Kingdoms. It is a journey he must make in order to reclaim both the crown and the Iron Throne from the current king, Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy). (As an aside, before season one even concludes, Robert will be replaced by Joffrey, (Jack Gleeson), who he thinks is his son and heir, but in actuality isn’t. Joffrey is the product of incest between Robert’s wife, Cersei Lannister, (Lena Headey) and her brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).)

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As the first season progresses, however, after marrying Khal Drogo, slowly Daenerys begins to understand the power she has in her role as, not only the Khaleesi, (the wife of the Khal) but the woman who is pregnant with Drogo’s child. She starts to fight back against her brother’s abuse. After one episode where he slaps her, she asserts her authority and lets Viserys know, in no uncertain terms, that if he ever hits her again, he will no longer have hands to hit her with. Afterwards, as subsequent seasons progress, she transforms herself fully into a formidably strong-willed woman, who is serious about doing what needs to be done in order to reclaim the throne that was taken from her family. The fact that she is the mother of three dragons that keep getting bigger in size every time they appear on screen, as well as the commander of an army that consists of 10,000 strong, including free slaves, who worship her as their ivory-haired queen, doesn’t hurt in that endeavor.

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When asked what she would be doing if she hadn’t become an actress, Clarke usually responds that she might have tried her hand at music. She loves to sing, and can also play the flute, guitar, and piano. Clarke has also expressed interest over the years in both architecture and graphic design. In March 2013, she starred in the Broadway production of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” based on Truman Capote’s novel, as the character of Holly Golightly; a role first made famous by Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe winner, Audrey Hepburn. Recently it was announced by Paramount that Clarke has been cast in director Alan Taylor’s (Thor: The Dark World) Terminator reboot titled “Terminator: Genesis,” in the role of Sarah Connor. For those who might not know, Clarke’s character is the mother of John Connor, who will grow up to lead a resistance movement against a corporation known as Skynet which lets loose upon the world a virtually indestructible army of  machines that wish to eradicate all elements of human life from the earth. The film is scheduled to open on July 1, 2015. Previous actresses who have brought the role of Sarah Connor to life include Linda Hamilton, and Clarke’s fellow “Game of Thrones” cast member Lena Headey who portrayed Connor in the Fox television series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

In addition, Clarke has voiced an episode of the animated show “Futurama” and Co-starred with BAFTA award winning actor Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley) in the film “Dom Hemingway.” Clarke’s character portrays the daughter of Jude Law, who comes calling on her after he has served a dozen years in prison. Prior to that role, Clarke appeared in the 2010 television movie “Triassic Attack” and in the 2012 feature film “Spike Island” There seems to be no slowing down for the young twenty-six year old, who was recently voted the number one most desired woman out of 99 by Ask Men. Com

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Emilia Clarke’s best friend in real life is Rose Leslie, who plays Ygritte on “Game of Thrones.” The two, however, hardly get to see one another while filming. Clarke’s scenes are usually shot in different locations than most of the rest of the cast. Clarke also has stated that one of her favorite shows is the HBO series “Girls,” and that she would love to appear in an episode, even if only for a moment. The creator and one of the stars of the series, Lena Dunham, seems like a cool person; hopefully she will get wind of Clarke’s desire to be on the show, and give “The Mother of Dragons” a line or two. Regardless if that happens or not, if Clarke continues on her current trajectory, she should be a talent that stays around to entertain the television and movie going public for years to come.

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