Saturday, September 27, 2014

Apple Picking Time

No city scene here:  with only a five-minute drive we're in apple country where we can take baskets up to the orchard, carry our pickings home, make crisps and pies, or just munch on lovely, fresh apples.  So this past week, the season just starting, some of us did just that.  Though the peach harvest around here did not fare well this year--too cold a winter--the apples are doing just fine.

For the PYO option--Pick Your Own--you carry on up the hill, open the gate, and there's the orchard

Then you trot everything back to the road where you pay the woman in the barn

Or you can buy them already picked.

There's something about apples  ...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Still Lifes: Seven Oil Paintings

Two Pears and a Chinese Bowl on a Kitchen Stool

In doing still lifes, I always seemed to want to get to the painting itself rather than spend much time figuring the set up--the color combinations, light source, design element.  I'd fiddle around a bit until I came up with something I thought I could paint--nothing too complicated since I didn't want to get lost in intricacies, preferring layering color on color.  I also paid attention to painting a bit of the object's reflected color into the shadow as well as a bit of the shadow into the object itself.

Here, then, are seven still lifes, all in oil.

Hot Peppers

Apples, Pears, Plums, and Pomegranate

Chiles on Tissue

Diane's Cauliflower  (a quick sketch)

After the Market

Onions on Foil *
*This isn't painted on aluminum foil; it's painted on canvas.  It's the set up that's on foil which enhances the design element.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

29 Movies I've Seen This Year That I Recommend

(Next posting will be in two weeks)

I've written it before:  I don't seem to go to movies in theaters anymore, preferring to rent them by mail.  (I used to rent them locally, but over the years, our three video stores closed.)  Anyway, by evening I just like to sit in my chair and be cozy--or even turn the movie off and finish it another time.  In renting them, I put a good number of the 5-star ones in my queue as well as many with 4 stars.  Generally, I don't bother with the less-well-rated.  And regardless of rating, I skip those with violence.

Since I'm always on the look-out for good movies, I thought I'd return the favor and pass along this list which, despite flaws in some, includes a whopping-good batch.

Here, then, is my 2014 list to date--those that I thought were either well acted, well cast, well written, well photographed, or worthy in their particular way.

1.  Several were about World War 2:
The Book Thief (US/Germany).  Perhaps should have been titled The Book Borrower.
War of the Buttons (France).  Boys in neighboring towns during the occupation of France.
Winter in Wartime (The Netherlands).  Bleak but gripping with an especially appealing young actor.
The Monuments Men.  More a docudrama but an interesting topic.  Good cast.

2.  Good foreign:
Barbara (Germany).  The cold war, set in East Germany.  Good story.
The Past (Iran).  Slow.  Intelligent script.
The Well Digger's Daughter (France).  A bit over-the-top acting by the director/actor plus somewhat stereotypical story-line.
Like Father, Like Son (Japan).  Poignant tale of two families discovering that their now-6-year-old sons were switched at birth.
The Lunchbox (India).  A widower mistakenly receives the daily lunchbox of a young wife intended for her husband ... with a growing friendship and correspondence between the two of them.  Set in Bombay.  

Fill the Void (Israel).  A young Israeli woman's wedding plans change when her older sister dies.  Wonderful view of an Orthodox family in Tel Aviv.
Still Mine (Canada).  A splendid (and true) tale and a splendid rendering of it.  An old man battles government bureaucrats for the right to build a new house for himself and his ailing wife when their current house no longer serves them.
Two Lives (Germany, Norway).  The tale of a now-grown child of a Norwegian mother and German soldier is slowly revealed, tangling several happy lives in Norway.

3.  Good U.S. movies:
Nebraska.  Talk about bleak!  But well-done bleak, even amusing in parts.
Dallas Buyers Club.  Well done.  Though there would be no script without the f-word.
American Hustle.  Ditto.  Much more amusing than I'd expected.  Well cast.
All is Lost.  Robert Redford alone and lost on the seas.  Even after just 20 minutes, this was so gripping I didn't know if I could carry on or not.  But I did.
Too Big to Fail.   More a docudrama.  Well cast.
Enough Said.   The lightest of the bunch.
The Yellow Handkerchief.  An indie film, first shown at Sundance.
The Company You Keep.  Intelligent rendering, fabulous cast, good script.  Redford acted and directed. About an anti-Vietnam War militant who's been hiding out for 30 years.

4.  Those already recommended this past spring on the side bar of this blog:
Border Cafe (Iran).  A rather sweet movie about a widow trying to make a life for herself and her children.
The Pool (U.S., in Hindi).  Set in India.
Delicacy (France).  Audrey Tautou in a romantic comedy-drama.
Sarah's Key (France).  One of the most heart-rending films I've ever seen.
Love is All You Need (Denmark).  A love story with Pierce Bosnan.
The Cave of the Yellow Dog (Mongolia).  A dear film about family life in a yurt.
Oranges and Sunshine (UK, Australia).  About the children's replacement program from the U.K. to Australia.
Philomena (US, UK, France).  A woman's attempt to find the child she had to give away.
Made in Dagenham (UK).  The effort of factory women in Dagenham, England, to better equalize their salary with that of the men.