Saturday, November 29, 2014

'Pompeii' (film) - movie review

'Pompeii' (film) [Wikipedia]

Pompeii (referred to in marketing as Pompeii in 3D) is a 2014 German-Canadian historical disaster film produced and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. The film stars Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Carrie-Anne Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, and Kiefer Sutherland. It premiered in France, Belgium, and Russia on February 19, 2014 and was released over the course of the next two days in many major territories, including the United States, Canada, India, and Australia.


'Pompeii' wasn't an "epic" movie, such as 'Spartacus', 'Braveheart', or 'Gladiator'. It was a good movie, and like 'Braveheart', it brought a historical event to life. Apparently, Pompeii was something of a resort city within the Roman Empire... located near modern Naples. It was a major city, and was perhaps more perceived as a "resort town" by Roman authorities.

It would not be giving away the movie to state the obvious... that Pompeii was located right near the foot of Mt. Vesuvius, which was an active volcano which destroyed the city in a horrific manner in 79 AD. Actually it wasn't the lava which destroyed the city and killed its inhabitants, but the real details are too gruesome to go into now. The plot of the movie was fictional.

The film opens with scenes of plaster casts of the victims of Pompeii as quotes on the destruction are made. The opening scene is from the Roman province of Britannia, where Celtic Britons lose in a revolt against the Roman army. The only survivor is a male child named Milo who becomes one of the two chief protagonists. He grows up to be a gladiator in Britannia, and naturally he has a desire for revenge against the Romans in a political and military sense. He is eventually taken to Pompeii to fight in the colosseum arena there, where he meets a princess named Cassia whose father is the city ruler Severus (Jared Harris). Severus' wife, Aurelia, is played by Carrie-Anne Moss. She has such a great character face.

The love affair between Milo (Kit Harington) and Cassia (Emily Browning) is the main plot around which the whole movie revolves. I thought Kiefer Sutherland played the best role, as far as character acting, in the role of Senator Corvus.. a powerful Senator from Rome who was forcing himself on the city's first family while pursuing Cassia for marriage. Naturally Corvus, a classic "bad guy," came into conflict with Milo. This was a very fast-paced film which fits events which would have unfolded over a year or two... into a few days.

The graphics of this movie were very good. Pompeii reminded me of what I perceive Etruscan cities to have looked. The beautiful imagery of the city against the mountains and countryside. During the opening scene in Pompeii.. it was during the "Festival of Vinalia"... a Roman harvest festival held in April and August. Later, the harbor of Pompeii was shown as spectacular and very advanced. Not surprisingly, the special effects of Mt. Vesuvius blowing looked like the end of the world. For the people of Pompeii, it was.

Milo's legitimate issue with Roman authority went along with what was portrayed as a bit of an autonomous feeling by the Pompeiians against Roman dominance over them. The Romans were clearly shown as the antagonists here. One interesting quote from Senator Corvus caught my ear... where he mentions the Roman deities Jupiter and Venus. Jupiter was the god of sky and lightening... symbolized by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius; while Venus was the goddess of love, beauty, sex, fertility and prosperity... symbolized by Pompeii.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

'The Ballad of the Green Berets' by Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone's version of 'The Ballad of the Green Berets'.. 'La Ballata dei Berretti Verdi'. I don't think it was composed for a movie, but I'm not positive about that.

"Wonderful Morricone. He can do it all. Thanks for posting ."
--shelabacon, YouTube user

"Wonderful hymne...thank you SO much!!"
--Pedy1968, YouTube user

The original version of the song was featured in the movie 'The Green Berets' (1968) starring John Wayne.

Part of the lyrics:

"Back at home a young wife waits
Her Green Beret has met his fate
He has died for those oppressed
Leaving her this last request

Put silver wings on my son's chest
Make him one of America's best
He'll be a man they'll test one day
Have him win the Green Beret"

Below, the movie version, with chorus:


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

'Gloria'.... by Vivaldi

A few days ago, I heard this piece on KDFC.. a classical music radio station out of San Francisco.

[From treblechoir99 - Choir of King's College, Cambridge - Gloria(Vivaldi).wmv  - 'Gloria in excelsis Deo'; 2- 'Et in Terra pax'; 3 - 'Gratias agimus tibi'; 4 - 'Propter magnam gloriam' - Sir David Willcokcs, dir.]

Gloria (Vivaldi)

Antonio Vivaldi wrote at least three settings of the hymn Gloria in excelsis Deo, whose words date probably from the 4th Century and which is an integral part of the Ordinary of the Mass. Two survive: RV 588 and RV 589. A third, RV 590, is mentioned only in the Kreuzherren catalogue and presumed lost. The RV 589 Gloria is a familiar and popular piece among sacred works by Vivaldi. It was probably written at about the same time as the RV 588, possibly in 1715.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Superman's coach: Dave Righetti

Of course, after this last week, World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner has become a household name after his super performance during the series. His coach, since he was called up from the minor leagues in 2009, is veteran player, coach, and San Jose native Dave Righetti.