Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Film Spotlight: Conversation Piece

This month, Eureka Entertainment released Luchino Visconti’s 1974 film Conversation Piece, a heartfelt tale of loneliness and intimacy starring legendary actor Burt Lancaster, along with a superb international ensemble cast. The ensemble cast features Helmut Berger, Silvana Mangano and Stefano Patrizi (with uncredited cameos by Claudia Cardinale and Dominique Sanda).This release is part of their Masters of Cinema Series.

The film tells the story of a retired American professor, played by Lancaster, who lives a solitary life in a luxurious palazzo in Rome, where he keeps himself peacefully occupied with his art collection and books. All is well and quiet in his life until he encounters Bianca Brumonti, the grand wife of a right-wing industrialist. She forces her way into his life and wants to rent the upper apartment in his home. She pushily decides that she will force him into renting the apartment to her even though he is not interested in doing so. The professor also has to deal with the intrusion from her young lover, her daughter and the daughter's boyfriend. They are a rowdy, loud bunch who disrupt the professor's much loved solitude. However, the professor becomes intrigued by the group and gets glimpses into a more animated life that is very foreign to him.

The film takes place predominantly within the walls of the palazzo and this gives a very intimate feeling to the story. A world is created. Even though the palazzo is large and grand, the interactions between the characters brings a welcome feeling of intimacy to the story. The palazzo is a haven against the outside world even though bits of the 'real world' seep in from time to time.

I really enjoyed Conversation Piece. The performances were excellent and the film is a superb example of  Italian cinema. There is an intriguing building of tension throughout the film, coupled with the varied experiences of human emotion. The stark contrast between the professor's traditional life and the harsher realities of the lives of the younger people is interesting to examine. I was really drawn into the story. This is a film which I will revisit again and again.

Conversation Piece is available to order from Amazon here.

 *Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this film for review. All opinions are mine.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Spotlight: Behind Closed Doors

Detective Inspector Beatrice Stubbs is the central character in a series of novels by author JJ Marsh. I was recently given the opportunity to read the first in the series, Behind Closed Doors.

We are introduced to DI Stubbs as she is asked to travel to Zurich to head up a multinational team of detectives investigating a number of suspicious deaths across the continent of Europe. Over a period of years, several seemingly successful and wealthy businessmen have been driven to take their own lives. Or have they? Could this, in fact, be the work of a serial killer?

Under pressure from her bosses, and motivated by a desire to put her own troubled past behind her, Beatrice Stubbs has little time to mould her pan-European squad into a team that will work effectively together. Dealing with an apparently unfathomable case, at least one hostile colleague, as well as the alien world of international finance, this investigation promises to be make or break for the Scotland Yard detective.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this well-paced and believable book. Despite the horrors of the case involved, there is always a dash of humor throughout the story, with credible characters and dialogue. Whilst Beatrice is the central character, there is a great ensemble cast of personalities that I felt brought this novel vividly to life. More than once I found myself giggling along at the team members' interactions as they worked and socialized together. As the investigation proceeds, the palpable tension is slowly ratcheted up and there is an ominous sense of danger as the list of deaths may not yet be quite complete.

Behind Closed Doors is a great summer read, and I will certainly be seeking out the rest of the DI Beatrice Stubbs series before the sixth and final book is released in the autumn!

This novel is available here and at all good bookshops.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

Friday, August 19, 2016

World Photo Day

Happy Friday!

Since it's World Photo Day, I thought that I'd share a photo. I took this back in 2013. I like the way that the tree branches scatter across the path as they simultaneously reach to the sky.

Have a wonderful weekend! :)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Wonderful World of Festival Food

Summer is a glorious season. It's a time to spend outside with family and friends in a variety of ways, like going to the beach, going on a picnic, or going to a festival. There's so much to see and do. I love all of these activities and plenty of others, but one of my absolute favourite pastimes is going to festivals, especially music festivals.

I've gone to a quite a few music festivals over the years and I always love the laidback vibe. Everyone's there to enjoy themselves and make some fun memories. When I go to a music festival, I'm there of course to see the musicians, but the food and drinks are always inviting.

When I walk through those gates at the festival, the first things that hit my senses are the sounds and the delicious food smells. This makes me so happy. The music draws me in like I'm following the Pied Piper and the cooking aromas draw me in even more. I know that somewhere a musician is firing up his bass guitar and the cooks are firing up their diesel generators in order to make festival food culinary magic.

I've had a variety of festival foods ranging from burgers, fries and spicy chicken wraps to fish & chips. There's usually a bit of everything you can think of and some things that you haven't thought of,  but would love to try. There's a variety of foods to discover as you dance and sing your way through the day and night. It's always a fun time!

*collaborative post