Monday, June 24, 2013

A Few Words About STAGED

I was so happy to open my mailbox tonight and see my copy of STAGED.  We've all waited long to see this small gem from Richard Armitage's early career. 

Truly a pleasure to see Richard in this basically two-character very short film. He's not playing a baddie or a hero, but only a man struggling with his career and his marriage. 

Two actors in a play in search of a marriage.  

Richard was already using his amazing eyes to express much more than the words in the text. There's one scene when as Darryl he's talking about being an actor, the joy and the price to be paid, that really touched me. 

Jennifer Taylor Lawrence, who I didn't know before, plays her part well and reminds me of actresses with strong personalities of an earlier generation. Armitage was just at the cusp of his leading man looks here, and just developing his acting arsenal. He plays a softer character, despite flashes of temper, than he has in  more recent work. I enjoyed the contrast and chemistry between the two actors.

Seeing STAGED makes me hope more than ever that we will see Richard Armitage in a more intimate film soon.  

Thank you Darren Denison for the opportunity to add this small treasure to my Richard Armitage DVD collection. 

Staged was written, produced and directed by Darren Denison and produced by Denison Entertainment. The DVD was available for a very short time in very limited release. 

More information at the link below:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Three Richard Armitage Fan Projects I Support: Bring North and South to PBS, Armitage for Dawsey Adams, Armitage as Ross Poldark

Yes, I know, it doesn't really matter what I support - who am I to say!  I have nothing to do with initiating or maintaining any of the three projects below, other than my interest, and yes, my firm support. 

It is Richard Armitage's decision of course what his next project, and future projects will be. We don't know what he's auditioned for or has been offered, or is interested in pursuing. The most important thing for me is his satisfaction and happiness with his career. I will follow wherever he leads us. 

But if you are a Richard Armitage fan and happen to drop by this blog intentionally or accidentally, I did want to bring to your attention three Armitage related fan projects that may be worthwhile for fans to explore further and see if they want to join and support their fellow fan efforts. 

Bring North and South to PBS

Looks like there will be renewed efforts and a new campaign soon in the ongoing project to have PBS (US Public Television) show North and South with Richard Armitage nationwide, or make it available nationwide, on PBS stations. Click on the link below for more information and to join and show your support:

The new efforts, from what I'm reading on the FB page, will be directed towards the BBC and not just PBS. (Thanks to Me and Richard Armitage for the original info).

I posted about the original campaign in 2010- you can read about it at the link below:

Richard Armitage for Dawsey Adams

This has been a long running fan campaign to have Richard Armitage cast as Dawsey Adams in the future film based on the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

The campaign seems to have gained new momentum after Richard mentioned in an interview recently, during the Australia Hobbit DVD Promo I believe, that he's been auditioning or talking to producers in Los Angeles, and that one of the projects is based on a charming book that we (his fans) would like (I'm paraphrasing here).  Could the "charming book" be Guernsey?

I also posted about this fan campaign a while back, and you can read if interested at the link below:

Now, some fans believe that Armitage should play another character from the book,  Markham V. Reynolds, rich and handsome American.  I agree that the physical description in the book matches Armitage, and I have no doubt that he could play this ultimately not always sympathetic character well.

I'm with the fans that think he would be perfect for Dawsey, and for me that has to do with the "inner RA" more than the outward physical beauty of the man.  On the Dawsey/Armitage side I offer the description of Dawsey when book heroine Juliet first sees him:

"Then Dawsey held out his hands. I had been expecting him to look like Charles Lamb, and he does, a little - he has the same even gaze... Dawsey is dark and wiry, and his face has a quiet, watchful look about it - until he smiles...he has the sweetest smiles I've ever seen..."

Portrait of Charles Lamb:

The Guernsey film project is currently "In Development" according to IMDB.

Poldark Fans Want Richard Armitage 

Robin Ellis as Ross Poldark

The BBC has announced they are producing a remake of the very popular 1970's series Poldark.  I was a great fan of the Poldark series in my teens thanks to PBS airing the entire series here in the US. I also read all the Poldark books at the time, and still own them. I agree that Richard Armitage would be the perfect Ross Poldark - the only actor I can think of that I would accept without reservations as playing the character other than the original, the wonderful Robin Ellis.

For those that have never heard of Poldark, below is a video of a documentary about the series that may answer some of your questions:

Below is a link to the original article saying that the Poldark Appreciation Society members voted for Richard Armitage as their favorite to play the lead, Ross Poldark, in the new BBC series in production:

If you want to show your support below is the link to the Poldark Appreciation Society on Facebook:


I hope Richard Armitage gives us more hints soon as to his future 
projects. I'm a believer that mention of fan interest in seeing him on stage, screen, or our TV sets, is a good thing. 

Image sources many and varied from various fan sites, Wikipedia,

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Viggo Mortensen in ALATRISTE - Movie Review

There was a time when the sun never set on the Spanish Empire, and the Alatriste book series by Arturo Perez-Reverte takes us back to those times.  

Painting by Diego Velazquez

All empires fall and we find our hero, Diego Alatriste, at a time of corruption, intrigue, and the Inquisition.   Alatriste (2006) the film is sumptuous and ambitious, visually stunning, taking the look from Spanish art of the period (17th Century).   The film has all the elements of a satisfying period film based on historical fiction: a world of handsome men in period costumes, women wearing beautiful gowns and jewels,  amazing settings and locations, many  excellent sword-fights,   star- crossed romance, and political intrigue. 

In response to a question about his own films, Viggo Mortensen mentioned Alatriste as one of his favorite.  I read a couple of the Alatriste books some time ago, but never finished the series. I prefer Perez-Reverte’s  mystery books.  But the interview gave me the desire to revisit the film, since I’m lucky to own the DVD. 

The film covers a long period of time in the life of Captain Diego Alatriste,  and several of the books if not most.  We first meet Alatriste  waging war for Spain in Flanders and rescuing the man who will become his protector in the Spanish court,  the Count of Guadalmedina (Eduardo Noriega). Then we see him back in Madrid taking care of the son of his dead comrade in arms,  ten year old Íñigo Balboa (played as an adult by Unax Ugalde).  We follow Alatriste and his ward Íñigo through a decade or more, sometimes in  the never ending wars, sometimes in the dangerous peace of home in Madrid.   We see the boy grow to a man, and Alatriste trying to survive his political and military enemies. 

Some of my favorite scenes are the many battle scenes and sword-fights in the film  The director knows how to handle these large crowd and battle scenes well. Some of the scenes in Flanders with the Spanish soldiers in the trenches during the Dutch Revolt or the Eighty Year’s War is reminiscent of similar scenes in World War I themed films and TV programs, I’m sure deliberately so.  The constant rain, the snipers,  the lack of food, the illness, the petty arguments, all in the place  Alatriste (Viggo Mortensen) describes as hell. 

There are also love stories in the film for both Alatriste and Íñigo.  I like the contrast between the illusions of the young lovers versus the world wariness of the older couple.  Elena Anaya plays the young, beautiful Angelica,  and Ariadna Gil plays Alatriste’s lover Maria de Castro (based on La Calderona, mistress of Philip IV of Spain).

Yet there is something about the film that manages to not engage me fully.  Is it the complicated real history that is the basis of the story, yet too complicated for those not fully acquainted with it to make us understand?  Is it Viggo Mortensen’s performance as the lead character Alatriste,  too remote and enigmatic to make us care for the man?   I would answer yes to both questions, and that is why, even if this film has all the elements I hold dear in a period film, I admire the work, but I can’t give this cinematic experience my full heart and soul.

Even so, I do recommend seeing Alatriste if you like historical fiction and grand period films.  For fans of Viggo Mortensen the film is another chance to see him in a heroic role. 

Alatriste (2006)  Directed by

In Spanish - English subtitles available on DVD

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Desolation of Elves

Exciting day - the first teaser trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug out today

My first impression after three or four viewings: 

Too many Elves

Especially this one

I've read the book, this is a story about Bilbo and the quest of the 
Dwarves of Erebor, not the Elves of Mirkwood

Yes, the elves play a key part, but this is not their story

Thranduil is impressive - but still - Ni Ikred Fund

Not enough of my dear dwarves

But I'm very happy we did see and hear Bard

One of my favorite scenes in the clip, Bard talking to Thorin

Speaking of Thorin, why doesn't he speak - he's pretty chatty in the book you know


 and to my surprise we saw the dragon himself, Smaug

 I think I have to hear Smaug's voice before 
I can really say more about him

Too early to tell

Still, it was marvelous to see the teaser trailer and know that this is only the first tantalizing glimpse and there will be more to come on the road to Erebor and December

Screencaps from, Filmofilia, Herocomplex-LA Times,, Google Images

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Screen Legend Alain Delon on US Television - Detective Show Frank Riva

French detective series Frank Riva, starring Alain Delon, 

 Premieres MHz Networks tomorrow, Thursday, 
June 6, 9:00pm EST.

See links below for schedule and trailer:

I'll have more about Frank Riva and Alain Delon after I watch a bit of the series. 

I grew up watching Alain Delon films and am thrilled to have a chance to see him in this recent French TV series.

Check your local PBS station also, it may be playing in your area. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Roberta Janeta Velazquez - Cuban Woman was Secret Soldier in U.S. Civil War

I was fascinated to read this article and interview in Cuban Art News about a Cuban woman who disguised herself as a man and fought in the American Civil War.  Cubans started fighting for their independence from Spain in 1868, and she was also involved in the Cuban independence movement.

Whatever your politics today, or the politics of the Civil War, I hope you also find this a fascinating story of women at war, often ignored in our history books.

Loreta wrote her memoirs,  The Woman in Battle, in 1878.  She came from a wealthy Cuban family and was educated in New Orleans. There she met an American soldier, an officer, fell in love and married him, despite her family's objections. After the death of her soldier husband and her children she disguised herself as a man and joined the American Civil War as a Confederate soldier.  

Below is part of an interview with Maria Agui Carter,the director of Rebel, a PBS documentary about Loreta Velazquez

Today people may be surprised that there were Cubans, such as Loreta Velázquez, taking sides in the Civil War, particularly in the South. But to Latinos in the second half of the 19th century, the American Civil War existed in relation to larger geopolitical forces intimately tied to Spain and her colonies in the Americas. The American Civil War was preceded by the U.S.-Mexican War of the 1840s. Cuba sought its liberation shortly after the American Civil War. The U.S.-Spanish war took place in the 1890s.
When the Civil War broke out, Velázquez sided with her home state of Louisiana  in the Confederacy. She grew up in a New Orleans with a rich Hispanic legacy, which the South shared. The South Central Gulf States of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are known for their French heritage and are not usually associated with the Hispanic world. But the three states all fell under Spanish rule at points between 1762 and 1813, and saw heavy immigration from Spanish speakers.
A jewel in the Spanish empire’s crown, Cuba had intimate ties to the United States, particularly in the South. As Latin Americanist and Cuban expert Louis A. Pérez explains, in the 19th century North Americans regularly visited, and owned businesses in Cuba, and the Cuban upper classes did likewise in America, preferring to send their children to study in the United States, as Loreta Velázquez’ family chose to do. Indeed, Pérez writes, “In mid-century, Cuban trade accounted for as many U.S. merchant vessels as were engaged in the total trade with England and France.”
Cuban businessmen flourished in North America, particularly in New Orleans society. And ties to the South were strong. Prominent anti-abolitionist Southerners plotted to annex the slave-holding Spanish colony of Cuba and strongly supported Cuban independence in the 1850s. In fact, as Pérez explains, “Many Confederate officers, politicians, and planters fled to Cuba after Appomattox, from Generals John C. Breckenridge, Robert A. Toombs, to Jubal A. Early, and former Louisiana governor Thomas Overton Moore.”
For Cubans, the experience of being educated and/or living in the United States created a complex shift in their national identities during the 1800s. While Cuba was still a colony of Spain, America had gained self-rule. American technology and industry and politics represented progress. Yet the Cuban economy ran on the backs of slaves, and its closest social and economic ties were to the Southern states. As the daughter of a Spanish aristocrat who owned a plantation, it was natural for Loreta to embrace progressive ideals—such as those of women’s political and social freedom, the ideals of American democracy—and yet to endorse slavery, the source of her family’s subsistence and her country’s economy.
Loreta’s personal journey starting out as a Confederate soldier and ending as a double agent spying for the Union, and ultimately speaking out against slavery later in life, echoes a very fascinating personal growth of an immigrant who comes to embrace the American ideals of democracy. (From To read more click HERE.

For more information also check the PBS Website:

Images, graphics, and video from Cuban Art News

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