Friday, 13 July 2018

Hogweed



In Dutch, this plant is called Berenklauw, or Bears claw. A much nicer name than Hogweed, I think! We have a lot of them in my province and in the city I live in and they are actually considered a pest, since they overgrow all other plants and it is not an original plant for this area.

I do like them, and I think they are excellent on photographs!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

2x The Kennedys (tv series)

I am very interested in the Kennedys, and I know I am not alone. There are many books and films and series about this fascinating family.

A while ago I discussed three series about the Kennedys (here) and recently I saw two other series.

These are The Kennedys (2011) and The Kennedys, after Camelot (2017). These were made after the books by Randy J. Taborrelli. The books (I am reading them at the moment) are quite good.

I really liked the first series, made in 2011. I know some historical mistakes were made, but on the whole I really enjoyed watching it.

It has eight episodes and I like how there are flash-backs to the past, the dealing of old Joe Kennedy and the first steps on the political field by John F. Kennedy. It gives you a better understanding of the history of the family and how the boys were raised.

I also like most of the actors very much. The problem is that for me Martin Sheen is the best Kennedy (I think I even prefer him to the real JFK!), and every other actor who plays JFK must at least be in the vicinity of Martin Sheen.
Well, Greg Kinnear does a very good job. He has the accent and the way of speaking, and looks enough like JFK to make it very watchable.

Barry Pepper plays Bobby Kennedy and Tom Wilkinson plays Joe Kennedy and I think they both do an excellent job as well.

There is the problem of Jackie Kennedy, who is played by Katie Holmes. But more on that in a moment.
So on the whole, series one is good and decent and if you are willing to overlook a few historical mistakes, you can really enjoy this.

In 2017 there was the second series and I recently watched it.

It picks up at 1968, at the moment when Bobby gets shot. After that, we have three storylines. First there is Jackie who marries Ari Onasis and who must try to find a life for herself and her children. Then there is Ted Kennedy who must come out of his brothers's shadows and in the end there is John, Jackie's son, who also needs to find his own way.

And oh my god, it is very, very, very bad.

The first problem is Katie Holmes. She is in my mind not a good actress. There were some later scenes where she was not horrible, but that is the kindest I can say.

I feel that in the first series she only got the job because she has a pretty face, but not because she can deliver a good Jackie. In the second series she has a lot more screentime, and it is very clear she is not good enough for this job.

Her accent and  the way she speaks are nothing like the real Jackie, and her hair is an even bigger mess.

The second problem was Matthew Perry as Ted Kennedy. If possible, Matthew Perry is an even worse actor than Katie Holmes is. He is terrible in every scene he plays.

A good actor, even when he does not look like the person he or she is playing, can make your forget that. Jonathan Rhys Meyers looks nothing like Henry VIII, but I believed him in The Tudors (we will not go into the historical mistakes in that series at this moment). My point is that Matthew Perry did not make me forget he was Matthew Perry, not even for a second.

The final problem was that the storylines were not interesting at all. Jackie and her marriage to Onasis was done badly, the death of Mary Jo Koppechne was dreadful to watch, the ending was weird and in the end I did not care for all of them at all.

So frankly, this second series is not really worth watching.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Classic beauties in Amsterdam

There is a new exhibition in the Hermitage museum in Amsterdam. It is called Classic beauties and it is all about the neoclassicism in the 18th century.

They were digging in Pompei and Herculaneum since 1738 and the beautiful sculptures and artwork that were found inspired a new fashion, people in the 18th century were interested in all things Classical.

Rich people made grand tours through Europe and especially to Italy, to admire the ancient monuments and artwork.

Artists like Canova made new statues, inspired by the Greek and Roman statues, but tried to improve them, making them true perfection.

I am not really fond of the 18th century and this is not my favorite part of history, but despite that I enjoyed this exhibition more than I thought I would. It is not a big exhibition, but the statues, especially those by Canova, are very impressive and beautiful.
The exhibition Classic beauties can be seen in Amsterdam until January 2019

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

A sunny morning

This weekend I went out on my bicycle, the weather was amazing and I really enjoyed my little bikeride. The sun was shining, the lake was blue and there are also plenty of quiet lanes to walk or ride.





Friday, 29 June 2018

Small country, Gael Faye

Gabriel lives with his family in Burundi. His father Michel is French and his mother Yvonne is a Tutsi from Rwanda. The family is well off and lives in a good neighbourhood in the capital, surrounded by other expats.

Gabriel, or Gabe as he is known, enjoys his childhood. He is ten years old and liked to play football with his friends, or visit family friends in Zaire. He has a penpall in France and he writes her that he would like to become a mechanic someday, so he can repair things.

But not everything is a good as it seems at first. The marriage between Michel and Yvonne is getting worse and they seperate, and Gabe and his sister Anna stay with their father.

The difference between their relatively rich situation and the poverty that surrounds them also becomes very clear in some situations. And of course the political situation is not very stable. When a political party wins the elections, but does not have the backing of the militairy, Michel knows something will happen.

And soon after there is a militairy coup and the racial tensions between different groups, like the Hutu's and the Tutsi's grow, just like in the neighbouring country of Rwanda. Old scores are settled with a machete and the government does nothing to prevent it.

Gabriel now sees things no child should see and does things no person should do.

Small country is written by Gael Faye, who is both French and Rwandese. He grew up in Burundi and then in France and after working in the financial sector, changed to making music and now writing. He lives with his wife and children in the capital of Rwanda.

I really enjoyed this book. I read it a couple of weeks ago in Dutch, but there is now also an English translation.

It is well written and I like how Gael Faye wrote Gabe. It is very authentic, as a ten year old boy who is intelligent and sees a lot, but also does not understand everything that happens. Sometimes he crumbles under peer-pressure and makes bad mistakes. But he is very lucky with his neighbour mrs Economopoulos who gives him boosk to read and teaches him how literature can be a solace and a place of refuge.

Despite the horrible events this is not a sombre or depressing book, nor is it gruwesome for the sake of being gruwesome.
The humour makes it light and very readable, as does the heartwarming main character.

A great book.

Original French title: Petit pays (2016)

Friday, 22 June 2018

Jan Altink, an artist I love

In 1918 a group of artists in the nothern city of Groningen came together. They wanted to paint in a modern way and not follow in the footsteps of the 19th century painters. This group called themself De Ploeg, meaning The Plough. They wanted to plough the country to make it fertile for a new beginning. Their inspiration came from Vincent van Gogh, but also from German expressionists like Ludwig Kirchner.

Since it has been a hundred years ago De ploeg started, there is a huge exhibition in Groningen. I visited this a couple of weeks ago and I really loved it. It was very divers and huge, over 250 works could be seen.

I really like De Ploeg and how they painted portraits, the landscape of Groningen (I was born there), and citylife.

My favorite painter is Jan Altink (1885-1971). He was one of the founding members of the group.

In the exhibition, I always liked his paintings the most.
Here are a few examples to show you his work.







Friday, 15 June 2018

Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster

Daphne du Maurier is one of my favorite authors. I first Rebecca and for a long time this was all I read, but in the past years I read more of her books and I enjoy them very much.

I wanted to know more about her and although I read the book Manderly forever by Tatiana de Rosnay, but this is of course a fictionalized biography.

So I wanted a real biography! Margaret Forster had access to the letters Daphne du Maurier wrote and interviewd people who knew her and her children.

The result is an excellent biography, well written and interesting and it really gives an insight into Daphne du Maurier.

Daphne was not always an easy person to live with. On one hand she could be charming and funny, but she had a deep need to be alone and to write.

She married Frederick Browning and together they had three children. But for Daphne, motherhood was never as important as her writing, and although she loved her children, taking care of them and making sandwiches or other mundane tasks were not for her. Fortunately she was in the position to hire nannies.

Daphne hired Menabilly, the house in Cornwall she desperately loved. She was never able to buy it and when the owner died, his heir wanted to live there himself. Although she put up a fight, she lost and in the end Daphne had to move to another house.

After the war her marriage to Frederick was in trouble, but divorce was never an option. He lived in London and worked at the royal palace, and Daphne was in Cornwall, and was writing her books. Her marriage was also not helped by the fact that they were both very private persons who did not know how to talk about their feelings and Daphne was terribly conflicted about her feelings. A couple of times in her life she fell in love with a woman, but she refused to consider herself a lesbian (being bisexual did not exsist in those days I imagine) and thought she was completely unique in her feelings.

She was always afraid that one day her books would not sell anymore, or worse, that she could not write anymore.

Margaret Forster has written a very good biography which has both the details to make it a rich story and the perspective it needs. It has dept and loads of interesting facts, but it is still very compact and readable, you do not drown in details. It gives pychological insight in her personality, but also in her books.

If you want to know more about the woman who wrote Rebecca, My cousin Rachel and haunting stories like The birds and Don't look now, read this biography. It is the only one you need.
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