The Woman in Black

I have recently watched this wonderfully spooky and atmospheric chiller again, which is based on the novel by Susan Hill, and stars Daniel Radcliffe as a recently widowed lawyer named Arthur Kipps, who is  haunted by and trying to come to terms with the death of his first wife, who died during childbirth. Kipps is sent on a business trip to the remote East Coast town of Crythin Gifford to attend to the outstanding paperwork and  estate of a recently deceased reclusive old lady named Alice Drablow who lived in the remote and rather dilapidated EEl Marsh House that can only be reached at low tide via the rather dangerous Nine Lives Causeway, which is submerged at high tide and surrounded by thick disorientating sea mists and treacherous marshes.

Whilst at Eel Marsh House He starts hearing strange noises on the marshes and keeps seeing visions of a mysterious woman in Black. He informs the locals, who are curiously reluctant to talk about what is going on and warn him to stay away from the house, At first he dismisses it all as superstitious nonsense but as he goes through Mrs Drablow’s paperwork he uncovers the heartbreaking story of her sister who had a child whilst unmarried and was forced to give it up for adoption and watched helplessly as the child died in an unfortunate accident in the marshes.

Then whilst at Eel Marsh House Arthur starts to witness a series of inexplicable Events which  gradually become more terrifying and are followed by a series of inexplicable deaths among the children of Crythin Gifford and he soon finds himself caught up in the midst of a nightmare and begins to suspect that he and his young son may also be in mortal danger too.

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Tribute to Edgar Degas

World reknowned French artist Edgar Degas was born 19th July 1834 in Paris. He is  famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist. A superb draftsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half of his works depict dancers. These display his mastery in the depiction of movement, as do his racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and depiction of human isolation.

Early in his career, he wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art. In his early thirties, he changed course, and by bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life

Degas’s work was controversial, but was generally admired for its draftsmanship. His La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans, or Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, which he displayed at the sixth Impressionist exhibition in 1881, was probably his most controversial piece; some critics decried what they thought its “appalling ugliness” while others saw in it a “blossoming” The suite of pastels depicting nudes that Degas exhibited in the eighth Impressionist Exhibition in 1886 produced “the most concentrated body of critical writing on the artist during his lifetime … The overall reaction was positive and laudatory”.

Degas sedly passed away on the 27th September 1917 and During his life, public reception to his work ranged from admiration to contempt. As a promising artist in the conventional mode, Degas had a number of paintings accepted in the Salon between 1865 and 1870. These works received praise from Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and the critic, Jules-Antoine Castagnary. He soon joined forces with the Impressionists, however, and rejected the rigid rules, judgements, and elitism of the Salon—just as the Salon and general public initially rejected the experimentalism of the Impressionists.

Recognized as an important artist in his lifetime, Degas is now considered “one of the founders of Impressionism”. Though his work crossed many stylistic boundaries, his involvement with the other major figures of Impressionism and their exhibitions, his dynamic paintings and sketches of everyday life and activities, and his bold color experiments, served to finally tie him to the Impressionist movement as one of its greatest artists. His paintings, pastels, drawings, and sculptures are on prominent display in many museums and  he also greatly influenced several important painters, most notably Jean-Louis Forain, Mary Cassatt, and Walter Sickert and  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Happy Birthday Brian May

Brian May, English guitarist with British rock band Queen was born July 19th 1947. Queen were formed in London in 1971, consisting of Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (guitar, vocals), John Deacon (bass guitar, guitars), and Roger Taylor (drums, vocals). Queen’s earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works, incorporating more diverse and innovative styles in their music.

Before joining Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had been playing together in a band named Smile with bassist Tim Staffell. Freddie Mercury (then known as Farrokh/Freddie Bulsara) was a fan of Smile, and encouraged them to experiment with more elaborate stage and recording techniques after Staffell’s departure in 1970. Mercury himself joined the band shortly thereafter, changed the name of the band to “Queen”, and adopted his familiar stage name. John Deacon was recruited prior to recording their eponymous debut album (1973). Queen enjoyed success in the UK with their debut and its follow-up, Queen II (1974), but it was the release of Sheer Heart Attack (1974) and A Night at the Opera (1975) that gained the band international success. The latter featured “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which stayed at number one in the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks; it charted at number one in several other territories, and gave the band their first top ten hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Their 1977 album, News of the World, contained two of rock’s most recognisable anthems, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. By the early 1980s, Queen were one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world, and their performance at 1985’s Live Aid is regarded as one of the greatest in rock history. In 1991, Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of AIDS, and Deacon retired in 1997. Since then, May and Taylor have infrequently performed together, including a collaboration with Paul Rodgers under the name Queen + Paul Rodgers which ended in May 2009.

The band have released a total of 18 number one albums, 18 number one singles, and 10 number one DVDs. Estimates of their album sales generally range from 150 million to 300 million albums, making them one of the world’s best-selling music artists. They received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1990, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. So  to mark the occasion  here are some of Queen’s best songs courtesy of YouTube.

About Time

The Time-Travelling Romantic Comedy “About Time” is Currently filming in Portloe, Cornwall. Written and directed by Richard Curtis (4 Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually), it is described as a fantastical feel-good movie which stars Domhnall Gleeson as a young man who comes from a family of time-travelers that change history for the better, who, During one of his trips to the past, happens to meet the girl of his dreams (Played by Rachel McAdams) and falls in love with her.

The film also stars Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Margot Robbie, Lydia Wilson and Vanessa Kirby and is Due for release 22nd March 2013.