The Magnificent Seven (2016)

I also wanted to see how the remake of The Magnificent Seven stacked up against the Original classic 1960, old school spaghetti western directed by John Sturges which featured a bunch of hired guns, led by Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, defending a small Mexican village against marauding bandits.

It begins in 1879, when robber baron Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) besieges the mining town of Rose Creek and slaughters a group of locals led by Matthew Cullen (Matt Bomer) when they attempt to stand up to him. Matthew’s wife, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), and her friend Teddy Q. (Luke Grimes) ride to the nearest town in search of someone who can help them. They meet warrant officer Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) of Wichita, Kansas. He Recruits a group of gunslingers including gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), knife-wielding Billy Rocks (Lee Byung-hun), notorious Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), skilled tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), and Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). Arriving in Rose Creek, the seven engage in a gunfight with Bogue’s enforcer McCann (Cam Gigandet) and his men, and drive the corrupt sheriff away with a warning to leave Rose Creek alone.

However Bogue arrives with an army of mercenaries and attacks the city, which has been rigged with multiple bombs and traps. A massive and rather exciting shootout ensues, between Chisolm, Robicheaux, Rocke, McCann, Faraday, Vasquez, Horne, Red Harvest, Bogue and Bogue’s Comanche assassin Denali (Jonathan Joss) during which Faraday pays the ultimate price. meanwhile Chisolm, confronts Bogue Who had raped and murdered his mother and sisters during a raid several years earlier intent on getting revenge.

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Ben Hur (2016)

Just out of curiosity I decided to watch the remake of Ben Hur to see how it stacks up against the original classic 1959 Charlton Heston film. It features a Jewish nobleman, Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and his adoptive Roman brother Messala (Toby Kebbell) who are best friends despite their different origins. While racing horses, Ben-Hur is hurt and Messala carries him back to their family home in Jerusalem. Despite the hospitality of Ben Hur’s mother Naomi (Ayelet Zurer) and the affections of sister Tirzah (Sofia Black D’Elia), Messala feels alienated and enlists in the Roman army and fights in the Roman Empire’s wars in Germany. Ben-Hur also develops feelings for the family slave Esther (Nazanin Boniadi)

Three years later, Messala returns as a decorated Roman officer. His return coincides with a rising insurrection by the Zealots, who are opposed to the oppressive nature of Roman rule. Judah treats and shelters a young Zealot youth named Dismas (Moisés Arias). Messala reunites with Ben-Hur and attempts to convince his adoptive brother to serve as an informant. Following a reunion dinner with Ben-Hur and his family, Messala informs them that a new Roman governor Pontius Pilate (Pilou Asbæk) will be taking residence in Jerusalem and that no incidents must occur.

Days later, Pontius Pilate marches into Jerusalem with Ben-Hur and his family watching from a balcony. Dismas attempts to assassinate Pilate with a bow but fails. In retaliation, the Romans storm Ben-Hur’s household and arrest him and his family. Rather than betray a fellow Jew, Ben-Hur takes responsibility for the assassination attempt and is sentenced to enslavement aboard a galley. His mother and sister are sentenced to be crucified. Ben-Hur and Messala fall out. Ben-Hur also encounters Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro).

Ben-Hur endures five years of slavery as a rower aboard a Roman galley under the command of Quintus Arius (James Cosmo). During a naval battle against Greek rebels, Ben-Hur’s galley is destroyed and he manages to cling to a floating mast. He is washed ashore and is found by Sheik Ilderim (Morgan Freeman), who recognizes him as an escaped slave. Ben-Hur manages to convince Ilderim not to hand him over to the Romans by treating one of the Nubian’s racing horses. Ben-Hur bonds with the racing horses, so Ilderim trains Him to be a chariot racer. Ben-Hur and Sheik Ilderim later travel to Jerusalem to take part in a grand chariot race at the newly built Roman circus. Jesus’ draws the attention of governor Pilate and Messala, who is now the commander of the Roman garrison and a champion chariot racer. While visiting Jerusalem, Ben-Hur encounters Esther, who has become a follower of Jesus and is involved in charity work. Esther tells Ben-Hur that his mother and sister are dead.

Ben-Hur later confronts Messala alone in their former home but flees when Roman soldiers turn up. After the Romans execute twenty Jews in reprisal. Sheik Ilderim teaches Ben-Hur about chariot racing. Later, Ben-Hur encounters a former Roman soldier named Druses (Marwan Kenzari), who informs him that his mother Naomi and sister Tirzah are in fact still alive unfortunately they both have leprosy. Meanwhile Sheik Ilderim convinces Pilate that Ben-Hur should compete in the chariot race while Esther tries to convince Messala not to race Ben-Hur, but he is adamant that he will win. On the day of the race, Ben-Hur follows Ilderim’s advice, however Messala cheats and a brutal and grueling race, takes place between Ben-Hur and Messala….

Dydd santes Dwynwen

Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St Dwynwen’s Day) is considered to be the Welsh equivalent to Valentine’s Day and is celebrated annually on 25 January. It celebrates Dwynwen: the Welsh saint of love. The story goes that in the 5th Century Dwynwen fell in love with Maelon Dafodrill. Maelon returned her feelings but for an undetermined reason, they could not be together. Three hypotheses are that a) Maelon raped Dwynwen despite her wish to remain celibate until after marriage, b) her father forbade the marriage, or c) her father had already promised her to someone else. Dwynwen, distraught by her love for Maelon, prays to fall out of love with him and runs off.

After running away into the woods Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice. God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. First she wished that Maelon be thawed, second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers and third that she should never marry.

All three were fulfilled, and as a mark of her thanks, Dwynwen devoted herself to God’s service for the rest of her life and became a nun, fulfilling her wish to never marry. She left for the island of Anglesey and built a Church, which became known as Llanddwyn, literally meaning “Church of Dwynwen”. Its remains can still be seen today on the island of Llanddwyn, off the coast of Anglesey. The smaller island also contains Dwynwen’s well, where, allegedly, a sacred fish swims, whose movements predict the future fortunes and relationships of various couples. Another tradition claims that if the water boils while visitors are present, then love and good luck will surely follow

The popularity and celebration of St Dwynwen’s day has increased considerably in recent years, with special events, such as concerts and parties, often held and greetings cards printed. Although still not as popular as St Valentine’s Day in February, St Dwynwen is certainly becoming better-known among today’s population of Wales. the Welsh Language Board (Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg) Also suggest numerous ways to celebrate the feast including sending cards, organizing a love-themed gig, set up a singles night, prepare a romantic meal and perhaps compose a love poem to read at the local pub. The Welsh often celebrate with concerts and parties, and exchange Dydd Santes Dwynwen greetings cards.

An alternative version states that Dwynwen was the beautiful daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, who was said to have had eleven sons and twenty-four daughters (although these figures vary greatly, to the extent of suggesting he had over fifty children). She met and fell madly in love with a man called Maelon, and he reciprocated her feelings. She asked her father if she could marry Maelon but Brychan disliked Maelon and refused to give his permission. Maelon begged, as did Dwynwen, but Brychan would not relent and Maelon was forced to leave. Dwynwen was so upset that she ran into the forest. There, she met an angel in a dream who granted her the position of the Saint of Love.

Burns Night

Burns night is celebrated annually on 25 January to mark the birth of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns who was also known as Rabbie Burns or the Bard of Ayrshire and is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. He was born 25 January 1759 two miles (3 km) south of Ayr, in Alloway in a house built by his father (now the Burns Cottage Museum). In Easter 1766, when Robert was seven years old he moved to the 70-acre Mount Oliphant farm, southeast of Alloway where he grew up in poverty and hardship. He had little regular schooling and got much of his education from his father, who taught his children reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and history He was also taught by John Murdoch (1747–1824), who opened an “adventure school” in Alloway in 1763 and taught Latin, French, and mathematics from 1765 to 1768.

After a few years of home education, Burns was sent to Dalrymple Parish School during the summer of 1772 before returning at harvest time to full-time farm labouring until 1773, when he was sent to lodge with Murdoch for three weeks to study grammar, French, and Latin. At 15, Burns became the principal labourer at Mount Oliphant. During the harvest of 1774, he was assisted by Nelly Kilpatrick (1759–1820), who inspired his first attempt at poetry, “O, Once I Lov’d A Bonnie Lass”. In the summer of 1775, he was sent to finish his education with a tutor at Kirkoswald, where he met Peggy Thompson (b.1762), to whom he wrote two songs, “Now Westlin’ Winds” and “I Dream’d I Lay”.

In 1777, he moved to a farm at Lochlea, near Tarbolton, where they stayed until William Burnes’ death in 1784. Whilst living in Tarbolton Robert joined a country dancing school in 1779 and, with Gilbert, formed the Tarbolton Bachelors’ Club in 1780 and In 1781 Robert Burns was initiated into masonic Lodge St David, Tarbolton. In December 1781, Burns moved to Irvine to learn to become a flax-dresser, but during the workers’ celebrations for New Year 1781/1782 the Flax mill caught fire. In 1780 Robert and Gilbert moved to the farm at Mossgiel, near Mauchline, in March. In 1784 Burns met The Belles of Mauchline, one of whom was Jean Armour, the daughter of a stonemason from Mauchline. Robert Burns also had manyLove affairs His first child, Elizabeth Paton Burns, was born to his mother’s servant, Elizabeth Paton. Jean Armour, also became pregnant with twins in March 1786 while Burns was with Paton. Although Armour’s father initially forbade it, they were eventually married in 1788. Armour bore him nine children, only three of whom survived infancy.

Sadly Burns Farm was always in financial difficulties, So in 1786 he took up a friend’s offer of work as a Bookmaker on a slave plantation in Jamaica which prompted him to write The Slave’s Lament” six years later. At about the same time, Burns fell in love with Mary Campbell whom he met in Tarbolton. He dedicated the poems “The Highland Lassie O”, “Highland Mary”, and “To Mary in Heaven” and the song “Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary, And leave auld Scotia’s shore?” Unfortunately In 1786, Mary’s brother fell ill with typhus, which Mary caught. She died of typhus on 20 or 21 October 1786 and was buried there. Burns’ friend Gavin Hamilton suggested that Burnsshould “publish his poems in order to raise the money for passage to Jamaica and Scotch Poems was published by a printer in Kilmarnock in 1786. John Wilson also published the volume of works by Robert Burns, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect. (the Kilmarnock Volume) which included the poems “The Twa Dogs”, “Address to the Deil”, “Halloween”, “The Cotter’s Saturday Night”, “To a Mouse”, “Epitaph for James Smith”, and “To a Mountain Daisy”. Jean Armour gave birth to twins soon after

Soon after this his friend Dr. Thomas Blacklock suggested Robert write an enlarged second edition of the Kilmarnock Volume. So On 27 November 1786 Burns set off for Edinburgh and the first Edinburgh edition of Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect was published on 1787. Burns then sold his copyright for 100 guineas and Alexander Nasmyth was commissioned to paint the oval bust-length portrait now in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which was engraved to provide a frontispiece for the book. In Edinburgh, he was received as an equal by the poets Dugald Stewart, Robertson, Blair and Walter Scott —and was a guest at aristocratic gatherings, where he bore himself with unaffected dignity. He also published a new edition of his poems and also became friends with Lord Glencairn, and Frances Anna Dunlop who sponsored him. In Edinburgh He embarked on a relationship with the separated Agnes “Nancy” McLehose then had an affair with Jenny Clow, Nancy’s domestic servant, who bore him a son, Robert Burns Clow, and also had an affair with a servant girl, Margaret “May” Cameron.

In 1787, he met James Johnson, a struggling music engraver and music seller with a love of old Scots songs and a determination to preserve them. Burns shared this interest and became an enthusiastic contributor to The Scots Musical Museum. The first volume was published in 1787 and included three songs by Burns. He contributed 40 songs to volume two, and he ended up responsible for about a third of the 600 songs in the whole collection. In 1789 he returned from Edimburgh and resumed his relationship with Jean Armour and took a lease on Ellisland Farm, Dumfriesshire. He also trained as a gauger or exciseman and was appointed to duties in Customs and Excise in 1789 and in 1790 he wrote the poem “Tam O’ Shanter” and in 1792 he became a member of the Royal Company of Archers before moving to Dumfries. He was then requested to write lyrics for The Melodies of Scotland, and responded by contributing over 100 songs. He also made major contributions to George Thomson’s A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs for the Voice as well as to James Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum. Thomson also commissioned arrangements of “Scottish, Welsh and Irish Airs” by such eminent composers of the day as Franz Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven, with new lyrics.Burns also worked to collect and preserve Scottish folk songs, sometimes revising, expanding, and adapting them. One of the better known of these collections is The Merry Muses of Caledonia (the title is not Burns’s), a collection of bawdy lyrics that were popular in the music halls of Scotland as late as the 20th century. Many of Burns’s most famous poems are songs with the music based upon older traditional songs. For example, “Auld Lang Syne” is set to the traditional tune “Can Ye Labour Lea”, “A Red, Red Rose” is set to the tune of “Major Graham” and “The Battle of Sherramuir” is set to the “Cameronian Rant”

Despite being hugely popular he had alienated many of his best friends by expressing sympathy with the French Revolution and unpopular advocates of reform at home. His political views also came to the notice of his employers and in an attempt to prove his loyalty to the Crown, Burns joined the Royal Dumfries Volunteers in 1795. Unfortunately his health began to deteriorate due to a possible rheumatic heart condition and On the morning of 21 July 1796, Burns died in Dumfries, at the age of 37. The funeral took place on Monday 25 July 1796, the day that his son Maxwell was born. He was at first buried in the far corner of St. Michael’s Churchyard in Dumfries; a simple “slab of freestone” was erected as his gravestone by Jean Armour, which some felt insulting to his memory. His body was moved to the Burns Mausoleum, in September 1817 and The body of his widow Jean Armour was buried with his in 1834. Burns was posthumously given the freedom of the town of Dumfries, and was also made an Honorary Burgess of Dumfries.