Silent Sunday

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The Two of Us

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C’est magnifique film!

Claude Berri’s autobiographical, The Two of Us is a gem set during WWI in France. It opens with Claude, a mischievous boy, stealing a toy tank from a toy store getting chased all around. Claude finds trouble at every turn driving his father to distraction. Because since they’re Jewish, the safest path for the family is to lay low, but Claude constantly calls attention to himself with his troublemaking. A family friend arranges for Claude to go live with her Catholic parents.

The problem is that “Grampa” is quite a bigot and spouts all sorts of anti-Semitic slurs. Claude’s parents coach him to hide is religion so he’ll be safe in the countryside, but there are some close calls, which give the story suspense. Nonetheless, he’s mercilessly bullied for being the new kid from Paris. You just can’t win.

Based on the director’s own childhood experience, there’s a sophisticated treatment of a close relationship that grows in spite of prejudice. Played masterfully by Michel Simon, Grampa loves this boy and takes him under his wing, dealing with his troublemaking with patience Claude’s father couldn’t muster. Berri chose Cohen to play Claude while visiting a Jewish school and seeing him getting into trouble in class and later hiding from the principal behind some curtains. His shoes poking out from under the curtains gave him away. A natural actor, Cohen brings a realism to his understated performance.

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The Two of Us, as Truffaut commented, shows how most French people lived during the war, those who weren’t in the Resistance or collaborating with the Germans. People just going about their business; people who could be both kind, loving, and yet be hindered by ugly beliefs. It’s a deft film that can portray bigotry without supporting it, all the while showing the goodness mixed in with the prejudice. The film masterfully captures the truth of this experience.

The Criterion Collection’s DVD, as usual, includes insightful short interviews that deepen one’s understanding of the film.

If you liked Claude Berry’s later films, Jean de Floret or Manon of the Spring, you’ll love The Two of Us.

Sepia Saturday

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This week’s prompt urges Sepia Saturday bloggers to find and post images of old advertisements (or those with horses or carriages). I can’t resist the charms of vintage ads.

If you need a cheap suit

If you need a cheap suit

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tied for my favorite

tied for my favorite

my other favorite

my other favorite

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

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1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:

The Politician’s Husband

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David Tennent plays a British politician who makes a speech criticizing the Prime Minister’s immigration policy and then resigning. His plan was that he’d receive support from his best friend, who’s also in Parliament. It all goes pear-shaped. His friend betrays him and his wife’s political career leaps ahead due to some power plays. Emily Watson plays the wife in this gray-toned drama. She not only heeds the advice of a senior politician who plots against her husband but declines to support her husband in a television interview. The interview marks a complete betrayal and the husband starts to plot.

On the home front, the grandfather is extremely likable, the only likable character in my book. He offers wisdom and takes care of the grandkids including a son with Ausberger’s. Now that he’s not working the husband must spend more time with his son, and we soon see this is one of his weak points. It is very hard to suddenly take care of a special needs child.

All in all, this three part series is too bleak for me. It’s all scheming and betrayal. The political issues are too generic and never spelled out as they would be in say The West Wing so beyond these characters there isn’t anything to care about. Even though I’m a David Tennent fan, I won’t bother watching the finale.

More on Healthcare

I’ve just learned that when you enter the hospital, at least in Illinois, one of the forms you receive is for when you feel you’re being released too soon. You must fill this out before you get released. Then you have a chance at staying.

As I wrote, my aunt was released last Saturday and went to a poor-quality rehab center. On Monday she was readmitted to the hospital with a cracked rib. None of us know the story on that. Then we heard that she’d have a procedure done for her back on Tuesday. I went to the hospital Monday and she wasn’t in her room. She was getting the procedure done. That was rather worrying because:

  1. No one explained to the family what the procedure was or
  2. Why it was being done so fast

I was willing to wait, but if it was going to be hours, I’d come back later. Because of HIPPA, the US rules on privacy, the nurse couldn’t tell me when the procedure began or estimate how long it would take. She couldn’t answer specific questions, which was frustrating and no doubt an unintended consequence of a policy. Finally, I found she could answer, “If you were me, would you wait here?” She said no. Since my aunt was fine when I saw her yesterday, I’m satisfied. However, I also realize from talking to friends whose near and dear ones have been hospitalized, that the doctors and nurses are okay with people not visiting. The fewer witnesses the better? For them, that is.

She had a treatment where they drill holes in your back and insert a substance “like cement” to decompress the vertebrae. She said she felt better and the doctor said she wouldn’t call it surgery, as it’s not that bad. Still I’m shocked that they wanted to release my aunt yesterday, less than 24 hours after getting her back drilled into. What is wrong with American health professionals? Luckily, the new rehab center couldn’t take her till today. I just learned about this form so perhaps she can stay longer.

I really have decided I’d rather take my chances with the healthcare overseas. Not somewhere where they steal your organs of course, but somewhere where they don’t kick you out of the hospital so fast because, they want better productivity. (They can’t make money from people who’re just resting and not getting lots of tests and procedures.)

Word of the Week

I really like the sound and meaning of this week’s word:

quiff: n.2 ‘A clever trick, ploy, or stratagem to achieve a desired end, esp. by unorthodox, irregular, or time-saving means; a dodge; a tip.’

Pronunciation: Brit. /kwɪf/, U.S. /kwɪf/
Forms: 18– quiff, 19– queef Sc., 19– quift Eng. regional (Lincs.), 19– whiff Eng. regional (Herts.).
Etymology:Origin unknown.
regional and slang (esp. Naut.).
A clever trick, ploy, or stratagem to achieve a desired end, esp. by unorthodox, irregular, or time-saving means; a dodge; a tip.

  • 1881 Advertiser Notes & Queries I. 77/2 Quiff. What is the origin of this word, so often used in the sentence, ‘I’ll teach thee a quiff’, meaning something clever. It is often heard in Cheshire.
  • 1890 A. Barrère & C. G. Leland Dict. Slang II. 164 Quiff..(Tailors), a word used in expressing an idea that a satisfactory result may be obtained by other than strictly recognised rules or principles
  • 1925 E. Fraser & J. Gibbons Soldier & Sailor Words 223 Quiff, any specially ingenious smart, tricky, or novel or improvised way of doing anything. (Navy). In the Army used of any drill method peculiar to a battalion, and not usually done in others. Where the wording of the Drill Book is vague, units often read different meanings into the phraseology and invent their own ‘Quiffs’.
  • 1925 N. Lucas Autobiogr. Crook v. 72 I’ll give you one quiff, right now, because I like your face and your nerve. Never touch the dope, it’s hell—and worse than that.
  • 1928 Weekly Dispatch 13 May 10/4 Suddenly a faint grey blur on the horizon in the expected direction. The seaman blinks his eyes—an old quiff which prevents many a false alarm—and then makes his report.
  • 1933 J. Masefield Bird of Dawning 107 It was young Mr. Abbott worked that quiff on you, sir.
  • 1961 F. H. Burgess Dict. Sailing 166 Quiff, a trick or artifice that makes a job easier.
  • 1996 C. I. Macafee Conc. Ulster Dict. 266/2 Quiff, a trick; a dodge.

Healthcare’s the Wrong Word

Last week we found my aunt had fallen and was lying on the floor for at least one day. (She’s a bit cagey about the details.) She went to Lutheran General in Park Ridge and got good care. I was impressed with the nurse’s professionalism there. They always introduced themselves, explained what they had to do and respectfully and carefully answered questions. You could tell they aspired to excellence.

On Saturday she was moved to a nearby rehabilitation center. What a downward slide! I’m just livid about this move and we don’t know who recommended this place. The nurses just don’t seem to care. They’re slow to respond and just seem out of it, like they aren’t listening when spoken to. At different times my aunt and her roommate have asked for assistance to go to the bathroom and it takes the nurses so long to respond that they’ve had accidents. Another time my aunt pressed the bell for a nurse and she took 20 minutes to arrive.

Since the food is not tasty and my aunt needs to eat to gain strength so she can go home, I said I’d bring dinner tonight and then we’d watch Downton Abbey. I got to the center at 6:45 and discovered the chicken place forgot to give us plastic utensils. I asked a nursing assistant for silverware and he said he wasn’t sure he could get any. What?

When I asked how we were supposed to eat, he agreed to try to get silverware and sauntered off. Ten minutes later he returns with one set of utensils. I told him I needed to eat too and he looked very put out, like a put upon teenager. (This man’s 40 if he’s a day). He slowly left to possibly get me silverware.

I’ve checked out their website and couldn’t believe that the images contained are all stock photos that do not resemble the center. I will say the center’s lobby is nicely appointed, but the rest is very drab and basic. On one page it describes the rooms and “suites” (bigger rooms) and mentions it’s like a hotel. They left out that it’s like a one star hotel. Also the picture on this page isn’t of the rooms. It’s a copy of a drawing in one of the corridors! How dodgy!

I know my aunt could get better care in Thailand or South Korea. What does that say about the US?

I pray we can get my aunt out of this place and into somewhere with more caring professionals.

The Inheritance (1962)

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Until I saw The Inheritance I knew nothing of director Misaki Kobayashi . Until I started my movie New Years resolutions, I only knew of Kurosawa and Ozu. Japan has manymore directors whose films still have power.

The Inheritance shows the materialism of post-WWII Japan. It’s set in the 1960s and the Japanese have prospered. They aren’t trying stretch 35 yen to last all day as the characters in the ironically titled One Wonderful Sunday did. With a jazzy soundtrack, The Inheritance tells the story of a company president who’s learned he’s dying of cancer. He decides to track down his three illegitimate children so his materialistic young wife doesn’t get all of his 300,000,000 yen fortune.

audrey in japan

We see the story through the eyes of Yasuko, his aloof secretary, who could pass for a Japanese Audrey Hepburn. the employees who’re supposed to hunt down the children, all get yen signs in their eyes and make deals with the wife. The man’s son leads a life of desolation and his youngest daughter has died, but his wife and employee try to pass off their secret daughter as the heir. (They had a fling behind the man’s back.)

As the man’s health deteriorates Yasuko moves into his house. His wife is not welcoming in the least. The boss does make a play for Yasuko, who lacks the power to push him away or leave the house. Since she’s living in an apartment she describes as a concrete box, the idea of getting more money appeals to her.

I thoroughly enjoyed this look at Japan. It’s a story of conniving and greed done in a way I wouldn’t expect. If you’re looking for a different sort of drama, see if you can find The Inheritance. My library had the Criterion Collection DVD. I wish they had an audio commentary or more extras as it’s a film I’d like to learn more about.

Silent Sunday

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