Monday, May 30, 2011

Voices Part V - More of The Hobbit Cast: Poetry and Humor

I continue my occasional Voices series with more of the cast of The Hobbit.  I'm always interested in the effect of an actors voice on the roles they play and on the audience, and also love to find poetry readings or audio books by favorite actors.  I'm also curious about the cast of The Hobbit and hope to continue my exploration of their voice work  while they work on the films, the first one is scheduled to open in 2012.

I've probably seen  more of Benedict Cumberbatch's television work than that of any other young British actor.  For some reason U.S. Public Television stations have acquired almost everything that Mr. Cumberbatch has made in the last few years.  So I'm very familiar with him as an actor, though I know nothing of him personally.  I've seen him in period and contemporary dramas and he's a very versatile and excellent actor.  He has a very deep and often mellifluous voice which I enjoy.  

Recently there's been a flurry of news when his Sherlock co-star, Martin Freeman, mentioned, before any official announcement, that he was also cast in The Hobbit. The rumor mills and predictions are going full force, and most seem to think he has been cast as the voice of the dragon, Smaug.  Oddly enough, I've never seen Benedict Cumberbatch play a true villain, so if he is Smaug, this will be interesting. 

Calexora mentioned in a comment on Voices Part IV below that she was curious about his voice. Below you can listen to Benedict Cumberbatch reading the poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: 

Update on June 16, 2011:  Benedict Cumberbatch will be the voice of Smaug in The Hobbit:

I tried to find readings of any kind with Martin Freeman to listen to his voice in an unexpected role, but so far have been unsuccessful.  But I did find this clip, apparently in answer to an interview question, that sounds to me more like a monologue from a one man play called "Martin Freeman".  Mr. Freeman is obviously a naturally funny man, but having seen him in Sherlock, I also now know he's a very good dramatic actor.  I can't wait to see him as Bilbo Baggins.

Martin Freeman- I Would Cook Jesus Pasta:

When Sherlock aired in the U.S. on PBS (Public Television) in 2010 I wrote my impressions of the program, before I knew either actor would be cast for The Hobbit. To read my post click on the link:

Would a post about The Hobbit be complete without the great man himself! No, I don't mean Peter Jackson, though he is a great man also, I mean J.R.R. Tolkien himself,  author of  The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings and creator of a fantasy world that can seem just as real as the one we all inhabit. Below is a video clip of Tolkien reading a poem in Elvish, a language he created:

Below is a translation of the poem that was posted in the comment section of the above video:

For now the Kindler, Varda, the Queen of the stars,
From Mount Everwhite has uplifted her hands like clouds
And all paths are drowned deep in shadow;
And out of a grey country darkness lies
On the foaming waves between us,
And mist covers the jewels of Calacirya for ever.
Now lost, lost to those of the East is Valimar!
Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar!
Maybe even thou shalt find it! Farewell!

From all accounts Ian Holm will also be in The Hobbit as the old Bilbo.  It's going to be a treat for all Lord of the Rings movie fans to see him again, and to see him in the same films with Martin Freeman playing the younger Bilbo.  I've seen Ian Holm through the years in everything from Shakespeare to playing Napoleon Bonaparte, from comedy to drama, and he never fails to give an amazing performance. He also has a very distinctive voice, and though he can inhabit a role, you always know it's Ian Holm.  In the video below he reads "There's Hope..." a poem by Anno Birkin (1981-2001).

Of course, I can't have a post that mentions The Hobbit without mentioning my favorite voice of all, Richard Armitage, who is playing Thorin Oakenshield.  Below is one of my favorite readings by RA, I often listen to it if I feel particularly melancholic.  The poem is called "Code Poem for the French Resistance : The Life that I Have" by  Leo Marks:

There are several videos of RA reading this poem, but I was inspired to make my own little version.

The poem itself has a very interesting history.  The poem is really a poem code or poem cipher written/created by Leo Marks, who was a cryptographer during World War II.  Marks wrote the poem for use by agents during the war. The poem was also about Marks former girlfriend who died in a plane crash.  A very appropriate poem for Lucas North I think.  

To read more about the curious story of this romantic poem and the fascinating people involved, check out the links below:

I hope to continue the Voices series of posts and to continue to feature more actors from The Hobbit. Would love your comments as always.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mood of the Day: RA Bliss

I woke up late this Sunday, a bit grumpy, and grumbling about chores I should do today. After puttering about I logged on to my laptop to check on the news of the day...and the RA news of the day...and what do I find!!!!!!!!!!

Our lovely and true gentleman, Richard Armitage, sent his fans a beautiful message, in part about the RA Community's contribution to the Rise Up Telethon for Christchurch Earthquake relief (to read more about this event on my fellow bloggers sites, see the left hand sidebar).  

You can read the entire message on Click on the link below:

Also check out my friend and fellow blogger Calexora's Befuddled Musings to find out what the "cello challenge" RA refers to is all about:

I am so very proud  and honored to be part of the RA Community! Hugs to all!

My great admiration, respect, and affection to Richard Armitage 

Happy Sunday

Cap from Powhiri Ceremony - Peter Jackson Video Blog

Friday, May 27, 2011

Donna Leon and the Commissario Brunetti Series

Imagine a TV detective series set and filmed in Venice, Italy and imagine that all the Italian characters in the series are speaking in German and you have the Commissario Brunetti series based on the mystery novels by Donna Leon.

The creator of Commissario Brunetti is American author Donna Leon. She's lived in Venice for over twenty years and was an English Literature professor until dedicating herself to writing a few years ago.  

I recently saw a short interview with Leon and it brought back memories of the few episodes of the series that I've seen.  Even if it's been a few years, and I've only read a couple of the twenty Brunetti novels, and probably seen only a few of the 16 Commissarrio Brunetti programs made for German television, I remember them well. 

The books have been translated in  many languages and are very popular in Europe, especially Germany. Oddly enough Donna Leon refuses to have her novels translated into Italian because she has stated in several interviews that she doesn't want to be famous in Italy, the place she calls home. 

Below is an excerpt from one of Donna Leon's Brunnetti novels from BBCAudiobooksAmerica:

Commissario Brunetti is a brilliant detective who has to battle an incompetent boss and rampant corruption to solve the crime. We also see his life at home, his wife is part of the aristocracy who married down with a police detective, and they have two teenage kids, a son and a daughter. Of course there's always a crime to solve and through that we see the sinister side of La Serenissima. But the star of the show is the beautiful and otherworldly city of Venice. We see the parts of Venice that tourist see, Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal. But one of the joys of the series is seeing the daily life of the city for those who call it home.  

The series is very well acted and directed, and after the first few minutes of wondering why everyone in Venice speaks German, you get swept into the plot and the intrigues and the life of Brunetti. In the episodes I've seen Joachim Krol plays the Commmissario, but when looking for video clips to use I see there's an entirely new cast now, and Brunetti is played by Uwe Kockisch. 

Joachim Krol as Brunetti 

Below is a clip from the series, to give you an idea of what the series looks like (in German with no subtitles):

Uwe Kockisch as Brunnetti 

Below is a video of Donna Leon  talking about the writer's relationship with the reader and other things as part of a lecture series on writing a police or mystery novel.

Sunday, July 3, MHZ Networks will air an episode of the Commisario Brunetti series, Vendetta, at 9:00pm. The episode repeats on Tuesday 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Voices Part IV - Some of The Hobbit Cast Reading Poetry, Shakespeare, and The Raven

I started this series of posts about voices to highlight the power of the voice and how great actors can move us, inspire us, and amaze us, with a wonderful and unique voice.  

In this fourth Voices post I want to highlight the voices of a few of the actors in the cast of The Hobbit.  Whether it's the depth of the voice, or the vocal range, or the particular music of the accent, or   even an idiosyncratic way of using words, to me the four men below have voices that command our attention and our emotions.

I've highlighted Richard Armitage's  marvelous voice in a previous Voices post, but his deep masculine voice, and wonderful vocal range always amaze and inspire me.  Luckily for us, thanks to BBC Radio, we have the privilege of hearing him reading poetry on occasion.  Below he reads "Wife in London", a poem by Thomas Hardy:

I think that it has to be challenging for an actor to play a famous person, even someone from a time before film and video still kept the real person more of a mystery.  Aidan Turner played the famous artist and writer Dante Gabriel Rosetti in the BBC series Desperate Romantics (2009).  Turner's voice has a lovely musical quality, and in the video below he reads one of Rosetti's poems, The Kiss, as he portrays the artist himself:

< There are actors that are known for their unique voice, and their unique phrasing of words. For me Sir Ian McKellen is one of those special actors.  In the video clip below a young Ian McKellen makes a very well known soliloquy from Shakespeare's Macbeth very much his own:

There are even some voices that frighten us, "tenebrosa" would be the word in Spanish, and I don't know an English equivalent. Voices that have a certain quality that reaches that certain part of our imagination frightened of the dark.  The great Christopher Lee has that special quality in his voice, and we can become enchanted by it, and frightened as well.  In the video below Christopher Lee reads from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe:

To read  and listen to my other Voices posts, click on the link below:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shakespeare, War of the Roses, and Game of Thrones

My “appointment television” for Sundays is HBO’s Game of Thrones.  I’ve been following the development of the series from the time it was only a twinkle in the eye of HBO – before the pilot was made – and now finally the series has started and it is living up to more than my expectations.   Though I’ve read three of the four books that are so far part of A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF)  by George R. R. Martin (GRRM), and am now on the fourth,  I’m very much a novice in this fantasy world.

When I first heard about the possible TV series, and contemplated reading the first book, “A Game of Thrones,” I had my doubts I would read them all.   When I reach for a good read, I don’t tend to reach for fantasy fiction.   But aside from the obvious reason I became interested in GRRM’s books (the casting of Sean Bean as Lord Eddard Stark, one of the Point of View (POV) characters in the novels), my interest was also sparked when I read that the author was inspired by a real historical event,  The War of the Roses.

I’m not a historian by any means, but I have an interest in certain historical periods, and I love a good historical novel.  The thought of reading a series of fictional novels based on a historical period I knew a little about, with political intrigue, and swords and castles was irresistible to me.  But in the last few weeks as I’ve watched Game of Thrones on Sunday I realized that most of my knowledge of the War of the Roses comes not from historical facts, but from William Shakespeare.  

For as long as I can remember I have watched or read the plays from Richard II to Richard III, and the Henry’s in between (Henry IV Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, Henry V, Henry VI).  I’ve seen the plays performed by legendary actors in film and on television, and have seen the plays on stage by amateur and professional actors.  I can’t say that I can recite every line of every performance, but I can’t separate the historical facts I learned in school, from Shakespeare’s characters.

Though set in a totally fictional world, with unique and fascinating totally fictional characters, I can see how the ASOIAF books and the Game of Thrones series were and are inspired by English history, and by Shakespearean drama.    

Below are a few videos of Shakespeare’s War of the Roses or related to the history plays that I've thought about in the last few weeks while watching Game of Thrones.  

 Would love your comments as always.

One of my favorite films and a favorite speech from Richard III (Laurence Olivier):

In 1964 The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) filmed the War of the Roses series of plays, and I was lucky enough to see them a couple of decades later thanks to U.S. Public Television. Below are two clips from the RSC plays:

Sir Ian McKellen made a series of videos to help audiences better understand Shakespeare's language. Reminds me of his one man play/show, "Acting Shakespeare":

Many actors and directors have been interviewed about what Shakespeare means to them or how they prepare to play Hamlet or Macbeth, but in 1996 Al Pacino made a unique and fun film with several of his friends, including Kevin Spacey, about directing and performing Richard III, and here's a video clip from the film "Looking for Richard" (with Spanish subtitles!)

I have to say, there's something about that title, 
Looking for Richard, that really inspires me :)

Two of my favorite scenes in another of my favorite Shakespearian films,  Henry V, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Kenneth Branagh:

Click on the link below to revisit an earlier post that includes Kenneth Branagh talking about directing:

I'll finish my tale with a scene from Game of Thrones with Mark Addy and Sean Bean:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

An Old Video for a Saturday

Thought I would post something a bit...sweeter...for this weekend. An old video and a little romance.

and Sean Bean...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Not Very Happy with Blogger

Unfortunately my last post was deleted by Blogger and I'm having serious doubts that they are going to reinstate it, not only the post, but the comments.

I now know in the future to keep some sort of backup of my posts elsewhere, maybe a paper copy like in the old days. Never rely on technology.

I realize in the scheme of things this is not really important, just a long week that seems longer for me.

I understand that there are problems, but don't announce that "Blogger is Back" when it isn't, and  please provide some way to get technical support other than posting on a forum and waiting for someone to answer.  Yes, maybe we shouldn't demand consideration and service from something that is free, or should we?

IT IS FRIDAY the 13th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How Compatible Am I with Richard Armitage?

Imagine my luck, tonight I found a website that could tell me exactly how compatible I am with Richard Armitage?

No...not this Richard Armitage (sorry):

But this Richard Armitage:

 Unfortunately, the results are not what I hoped they would be, and I'm now a bit depressed,  but it does say despite it all, we are a very "promising combination":


Compatibility level: 25% - A relationship that presents frequent challenges and requires much compromise.

This is both a very promising as well as a very difficult combination. Richard Armitage's Life Path number 3 reveals a fun-loving, optimistic side, a creative, playful, perhaps even childlike nature. Richard demonstrates faith in life and is confident that things will work out, no matter what. In addition, Richard has a natural, intuitive talent to go with the flow and escape pitfalls almost effortlessly.

Fabo Laktuko's Life Path master number 22, on the other hand, is much more grounded, practical, and has a hands-on approach to life. Fabo Laktuko feels that discipline and focus, responsibility, dependability and duty are the requirements to create a life of comfort and contentment. From one perspective, this makes for a nicely balanced relationship. Richard's approach works for Richard. Fabo Laktuko has seen the fruits of effort and discipline and knows there is safety in having at least some control.

As long as life does not throw a monkey wrench in their situation, this can be a harmonious, very satisfying relationship. (Note from me: YES! Very Satisfying.) But when life becomes a challenge, when problems - especially practical, material, worldly problems - come up, this combination is one of the least prepared to deal with it.

Richard may well start resenting Fabo Laktuko for taking such a hard, grab-the-bull-by-the-horns approach, since Fabo Laktuko is not the type of person who backs away and watches things fall apart. In addition, it is important that Richard and Fabo Laktuko bear in mind that they are talking about problems that did not arise between them, from their relationship, but from outside, issues like a shortage of money, the loss of a job, an expensive illness, or some other unfortunate shift.

Fabo Laktuko will be tempted to look at Richard and question the amount of effort and sacrifice Richard is investing during this difficult time. (Note from me: I know I'll be tempted when I look at Richard, who wouldn't be, but not this way at all!) Blame will feed resentment and anger, and soon, instead of forming a combined front to overcome the obstacle, the two will turn against each other.

When that happens, Richard and Fabo Laktuko will need to step back and realize that, although they may not understand what motivates their partner to respond so differently from what they believe is the correct and required approach, they must not judge. Richard may not believe that Fabo Laktuko makes any sense, and may well feel that all that effort is misdirected, perhaps even detrimental to a positive outcome, but Fabo Laktuko needs that effort. Fabo Laktuko needs to feel that there is some control. (Note from me: Forget control!)

On the other hand, Fabo Laktuko may blame Richard for not doing enough, which may be true. On the surface, Richard may seem to be backing away from the problem. Richard does not focus on the issue itself as much as on whatever is needed to make it go away, or, at least, to make it bearable. Richard will bring in the optimism and the motivation to go on. Richard will point to the light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how tiny or seemingly far away, and when everyone else is ready to give up, Richard will bring in the much needed energy and get them back on their feet. Richard is invaluable during such a time. (Note from me: I know Richard is invaluable at all times!)  And that, too, takes effort.

Richard and Fabo Laktuko have to remember that, although difficult, theirs is also a very promising combination, and the key to making the most of it lies on not trying to judge each other, but on combining their many individual qualities. (Note from me: YES!)

Want to see how compatible you are with Richard Armitage? Go to the link below to find out:

(Dear RA, if you're reading this, I know that you know this is all for fun, well, I hope you know.)
Two of my fellow bloggers have taken the Armitage Compatibility test and have very funny and fascinating posts about their own test results. Check them out at the link below:

The Squee:

Richard Armitage and you - your number's up!

Jonia's Cut:

Jonia and Richard Armitage - Compatibles

Note: After Blogger removed this post, and then reinstated it, I've been waiting to see if the Comments would also be restored, but they haven't been so far. Luckily I still had a copy of the comments in my email, and I'm copying them here below. Thank you for your comments:

Summer has left a new comment on your post "How Compatible Am I with Richard Armitage?": 

Qué lástima que el resultado no haya salido como tú lo esperabas. Por curiosidad.. ¿sientes que si fue acertada la descripción de tu personalidad, si es así yo también estoy en problemas, somos muy parecidas Jaja 
Me fascinaron tus anotaciones, después de todo, que saben ellos!! Jeje
Mañana con más calma haré la prueba de compatibilidad, a ver como me va :) 

Traxy has left a new comment on your post "How Compatible Am I with Richard Armitage?": 

You should try checking horoscopes as well! LOL! ;)

Oh, I just had to try this myself, and *stares at screen* "Compatibility level: 100% - A natural fit that usually produces a very compatible relationship." Woah! o.O And it says the same regardless of if I use "Traxy Thornfield" or the name on legal documents. I have to read the rest of the result now! 

joniarogue has left a new comment on your post "How Compatible Am I with Richard Armitage?": 

Thank You Fabolaktuko! :* 

Monday, May 9, 2011

How was your day Lucas?

A day in the life of my favorite spy, Lucas North:

May 21, 2011 - This Just In - Lucas North finds True Love

Saturday, May 7, 2011

In Memory

In Memory of my Mother and Grandmother on Mother's Day

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