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Outlander Premieres on Starz – Guest Blogger Elizabeth Eckhart

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

This write up about the new OUTLANDER TV series was proposed and written by blogger & writer Elizabeth Eckhart and because I have reviewed the Outlander series on my blog as great books to read, we thought her analysis of the series might add to the discussion on the blog.  So I will step aside and share what Elizabeth wants to say:


When the new series Outlander debuted August 9 on Starz, it attracted a whopping five million viewers. That’s not surprising given the long-running series’ devoted fan base, many of whom took advantage of Starz’ current online streaming (for the first episode only, anyone could watch it) and teaser videos. Diana Gabaldon’s sprawling collection of books, first published in 1991, includes eight main novels which she describes on her blog as “big, enormous books,” as well as smaller novellas and short stories set in the series’ world.

That world is a complex mix of places and times. The story’s protagonist is a World War II era nurse named Claire Randall who finds herself whisked back in time to 18th century Scotland, where she’s nearly abducted by the evil ancestor of her loving husband Frank, a history teacher and former M16 agent. Claire becomes caught up in clan politics and eventually is taken under the protection of Clan Mackenzie, where she begins to fall in love with Scotsman Jamie Fraser.

It may sound primarily like a time-traveling romance, but Gabaldon herself insists that in many ways her stories resist easy classification. You’ll hear them described as historical fiction, mystery, fantasy and even science-fiction, much like the similar literary series Game of Thrones (the TV adaptation which is also available online, through Direct TV). That last appellation may be the biggest reason that Ronald D. Moore, of Battlestar Galactica fame, was a natural choice to executive produce the project, which he terms “magical fantasy.”

The success of the first two episodes has already guaranteed the show a second season. Outlander is being shot on location in the Scottish Highlands, and the detailed care given to period and costume settings will undoubtedly keep fans of the books happy. Fans of Game of Thrones might also recognize the castle setting, since both shows use the courtyard of Castle Doune, a fascinating though challenging place to shoot due to complicated logistics.

Devoted fans may also be comfortable with the slow pace of the show. Since the entire first season is based solely on the first novel, the creators have been able to take their time revealing complex layers of the plot and in developing characters. This is a luxury that feature filmmakers, with only two hours at their disposal, simply can’t afford. While there is some concern that the slow pace might not keep the attention of potential fans that aren’t already familiar with the novels, that’s a risk the show’s creators seem willing to take. Given the strong built-in fan base, it may be more important to stay true to the novel’s contours, something that Variety’s Laura Prudom thinks the first episode, at least, does very well.

Irish actress Caitriona Balfe plays Claire and provides the voice-over narration. That narration echoes the first person nature of the books, and keeps viewers invested in exploring this strange world right along with Claire. The voice-over may feel heavy in initial episodes but lessens as the show goes on, according to critics who have seen more of the first season. Claire’s husband Frank is played by Tobias Menzies, who doubles as his own sinister ancestor Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, while Scottish Sam Heughan takes on the role of Claire’s 18th century love interest Jamie. Balfe is receiving kudos for her turn as the strong, displaced heroine.

True to the books, the show contains some bodice ripping moments, but for the most part Outlander doesn’t linger on scenes of sex or violence. The main charm for viewers so far seems to echo the appeal of the books. This complex story world is fun to explore, and the show’s creators seem to be having a delightful time setting it up for us.

Elizabeth Eckhart on Twitter 

My neighborhood has a group to discuss the Outlander series new on Starz and they have a go to lunch group who want even more discussion time too.  Have you discovered these books and the new series?   I saw the pilot free and it was so well done.    Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your thoughts and just maybe we will get a good discussion going in the comments section?  What do you think?

Outlander Series


Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Quartet is a movie I have wanted to see ever since I saw Dustin Hoffman, the director, introduce the movie on the Stephen Colbert Show.  Actually, I don’t have a TV and I do not usually watch the Stephen Colbert Show; I decided because I knew the music and the performance that the movie was highlighting therefore it must be providence that I see this movie and that I had been on at the right place a the right time to learn of it.  It is Hoffman’s debut movie as a director.

Wonders never cease – or coincidences! – about a month later the movie was reviewed on one of my favorite reads the blog  WONDERS IN THE DARK.  The movie was open and showing in New York City and the surrounding areas.

I called the two theater groups in my town and the Film Society theater and none of the folks had ever heard of the movie and it was not on the calendar what so ever.

Many months later, my neighbor, a 50+ years piano teacher, said she drove north to the next big city and the movie was playing for 5 days at the Arts Theater there.  She wished she could see it again because she enjoyed it so very much.   I was jealous.
I could not afford the gas money and a theater ticket also.

I put it on my Movies at Home queue and hoped for the best.  I kept searching for it on the online streaming venues.

AT LAST!   Quartet showed up in my queue, I immediately moved it to the top of my list and there it was in my mailbox.   Hip Hip Hurrah!  I watched it right away.  It was a glorious look at the changes folks were making as those who had been musicians on the top of the world’s queue were settling into a life in a musician’s pensioner’s home.  They were physically changing, psychologically changing, and they no longer held their esteemed status.

It was 95’F (35‘C)  and I took Quartet  to the cool, cool downstairs and enjoyed the beauty of the music again.  The locations were quite stunning and with an “all star” cast like Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, and Billy Connelly included it made a lasting impression.  So many of the musicians in the story were actually playing themselves and it was grand to see the “tried and true” talents emerge in this story.

I loaned my DVD to one neighbor and she watched it 3 more times with different family members.  It is now at the house on the other side and being enjoyed there. Dustin Hoffman did a grand job on his first time out, and the actors and story were worth the retreat.  I can highly recommend Quartet to you.  I believe Quartet is cooler than the tinkling tunes of the ice cream truck.   One can now find it on a number of streaming venues also.
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Related watching recommendations:
Julie and Julia
Temple Grandin
Momma Mia
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and the Beautiful

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and the Beautiful

Monday, May 28th, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movie was a preview which I saw at a theater and just knew I had to see; it looked amazing and what a cast.  Then I read a review at Wonders In The Dark and this cemented by desire.  It was not playing in my town, even with all the theaters we have available, we still are rarely on the first run and seem to be about 3 weeks behind.

As luck would have it, I made a trip to San Francisco and had a number of daytime hours available to fill up.   I found the movie playing at Union Square in 4 theaters at the same time and was given senior rates.   I just headed right inside and paid up!

I try to see Judi Dench when she is in a movie and the cast was full of British actors that I find very skilled and interesting interpreters.  Here’s the list:  Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Dev Patel, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, and Penelope Wilson.  There was not a moment of disappointment or too long a segment.   There was humor, drama, and the story line just touched on exactly a number of the thoughts I have had in recent months about growing old and retiring.

Marigold Hotel is based on the 2004 novel called THESE FOOLISH THINGS by Deborah Moggach and has been very well interpreted by Director John Madden.  It is about 7 seniors who for various reasons end up retiring to India and living in this old hotel. The hotel is one of the relevant seniors. The stereotypical expectations were modified by the gifts of the actors and how they personalized each scene.   They are people with a lack of money, a need for non-emergency medical care, the desire for resolution to experiences, and folks attempting to define themselves within the boundaries of their current circumstances.  The different styles that people use to tackle their life circumstances were explored masterfully.

I was so drawn to the story lines of seniors not wanting to be taken care of by their children and about remaining independent and in full forward motion.  I thought the theme of caring for seniors was an underlining thread which society often layers down low, ignores and yet was exposed in a natural way by the film.

Many seniors develop rigid thinking patterns and often have their fears played upon; within this film these issues were taken up in both a serious and comedic explanation.  I enjoyed seeing both paralleling within the story.

This is a film about success and redemption.

It is well worth seeing and I hope you will put it on your list.  I liked seeing it early on and with the big screen experience because the scenery and filming in India was lovely. It is a big country with many facets.

For me THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL was a 5 ladybug experience.

Have you seen a film lately that you would like to tell everyone about?  Do you enjoy knowing about other people’s circumstances and responses?  How do you feel about British Humor?

No one neither paid me for this review nor extended any product, I purchased my own ticket and train fare.

If you purchase anything from Amazon   or Powell’s from this site I will receive a few beans in my bucket. You could make a donation!  Thank you

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Related Reading:
The Tree Of Life
Temple Grandin 

POETRY a Movie Review

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Mija is a 66 year old woman who lives in a city in a rural province of South Korea. She is raising her middle school aged grandson as her now divorced daughter works in another city.  She is a pensioner and makes some of her income by working as a maid/caregiver to a senior male who has had a major stroke.

POETRY is a movie about a rather plain ordinary older woman.  The Korean filmmakers did not submit it to the American Awards system, so it has not been nominated or received awards, which means it has not received much attention here in the states.  It is also about an older woman living a rather ordinary life and many would not find this an interesting story and it would seem too slow.

Mija has been told several times that she speaks poetically and when she sees that there is a poetry writing class at the cultural center nearby she decides to take the class and write a poem.  The famous instructor asks the students to be aware of everything in their environment and to be open to hearing what nature and sounds are saying to them; they are to discover their feelings and find the words to describe what they are experiencing.   The students are eager and patient and respectful.

When the door to all the sounds of nature creates awareness by opening it also permits the harder, uglier, and tougher noises and feelings to be revealed.   These too are messages to be gleaned into the poem for the class.  Mija is busy taking notes in her book of the beauty, confusions,blossoms and sorrows.

I was introduced to this movie by Sam Juliano at Wonders In The Dark, where every week movie viewing is shared and my list of what to watch grows and grows.  Just about every writer about POETRY  thought it should have been submitted for awards and there were wonder full words of praise for the photography, the production, the story and the acting.  I just knew I would need to see this film.

It is available from many sources for streaming now and rental.  I have watched it 3 times and found more to enjoy and discover with each screening.  I would like to encourage each of you to find the time to watch this movie.  It is a special experience, a profound discovery within a plain story.


No one paid or sent me anything for this review and I did not receive remuneration.

Do you write poems?  Does writing open you up to your feelings – the beautiful and fragrant as well as the difficult and tough?  Has a new movie been an award winner for you?

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Related Reading:
Merle’s Door
Tree of Life
Temple Grandin
Julie and Julia