Afghan war, as seen by a British soldier


This video is called The Patrol – Official Trailer.

By Jeff Sawtell in Britain:

Film: The Patrol (15)

Friday 7th February 2014

War worse than a waste of time

The Patrol (15)

Directed by Tom Petch

4 Stars

After all the Hollywood propaganda films about the war on the world, along comes a more modest offering from Britain suggesting it has been worse than a waste of time.

Written and directed by former soldier Tom Petch, it’s the first British feature film to deal with attitudes to the war from the point of view of the soldiers fighting it.

It questions the veracity of those politicians who described their mission in Afghanistan as one of “reconstruction,” since “we are pulling out in 2014 with 444 dead.”

The film opens to reveal that the patrol of the title is made up of two officers, five regulars and a Territorial Army soldier, representing different ethnic and class origins.

The officers refer to the men as “chaps” while the latter address them as “boss” and between themselves as “Ruperts.”

There are no mass battle scenes. What is depicted is the daily grind, the moans about lack of equipment and armaments and the desire simply to try to avoid being killed.

There are casualties, differences of opinion, insubordination and even accusations of treason – all definitely not in the tradition of the British army.

As we have learnt to our cost that tradition is a lengthy one of lions led by donkeys, the former having to force the latter to face up to reality even though, as the men say, “this is not our war.”

Afghan Civilians Deaths Up 14% in 2013; 35% for Women, Children: here.

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Hollywood actress Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)


This video is the film THE BIGAMIST (1953) Joan Fontaine – Ida Lupino – Edmond O’Brien – Edmund Gwenn.

By Hiram Lee in the USA:

The unknown women of Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)

1 February 2014

It is unfortunate that tributes to actress Joan Fontaine, who passed away December 15 at the age of 96, have largely focused on the longstanding feud between Fontaine and her sister, fellow performer Olivia de Havilland. Certain tell-all revelations included in her 1978 memoir No Bed of Roses have also been given ample treatment. For the most part, the entertainment press concerns itself with gossip and little else.

Too little has been said about Fontaine’s body of work. She was a remarkable actress who contributed performances of real depth and sensitivity to a number of Hollywood films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. She was fortunate enough to work with many of the more interesting and talented film directors of that period, including George Cukor, Alfred Hitchcock, Max Ophuls, George Stevens, Anthony Mann, Fritz Lang, Nicholas Ray, William Dieterle, Mitchell Leisen, Jean Negulesco and future blacklist victim John Berry (she also apparently had a small, uncredited part in Orson Welles’s Othello [1952]).

Fontaine appeared opposite many talented actors as well, among them Welles, Cary Grant, Robert Ryan, Burt Lancaster, Joseph Cotten, Charles Boyer, Tyrone Power, Louis Jourdan, Dennis O’Keefe, Zachary Scott, Mel Ferrer, Mark Stevens and others.

While Fontaine had performed on stage and screen from the mid-1930s onward (including a significant role in Cukor’s The Women [1939]), her breakout role came in 1940, in Hitchcock’s Rebecca. Based on the 1938 novel of the same title by Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca tells the story of a young woman who works as the paid companion of a wealthy society matron. She meets rich widower Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) and the two fall in love. As she steps out of her class and apparently out of her depth to marry him, she soon confronts a darker reality under the surface of her idyllic marriage.

De Winter’s former wife Rebecca died under mysterious circumstances. Her presence still haunts his mansion, the gothic estate of Manderley. The frightening Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), a servant fiercely devoted to the late Rebecca, makes life hell for the young wife (known only as “the second Mrs. De Winter”).

Fontaine’s terror is strongly felt, as is the warmth of her character contrasted to the cold world of shadows and insulating wealth in Manderley. A theme emerges over the course of Fontaine’s work and it establishes itself in Rebecca. A fear and unease—a profound insecurity—dominates many of the characters Fontaine played, as fantasy turns to nightmare and promise into a prison. Something about the contradictions of the war years and the postwar period, the gap between the official “optimistic,” “democratic” version and life as it was actually, frighteningly experienced by masses of people, finds expression in her best work.

The 1940s brought several significant projects to Fontaine. In Suspicion (1941), also directed by Hitchcock, she would again play a wife for whom wedded bliss turns into a torment. Her husband, played by Cary Grant, may or may not be plotting her murder. Fontaine won the Academy Award for her performance. In Jane Eyre (1944), a strong adaptation of the Charlotte Brontë classic, featuring Welles as Rochester, Fontaine gave an especially memorable and moving performance as the title heroine.

As was evident from Rebecca going forward, Fontaine was capable of contributing something rich and thoughtful. Her face and body language, alone, could speak volumes. She was, in this sense, a very physical actress.

In a 1978 interview with Doug McClelland collected in American Classic Screen Interviews, Fontaine said “George Cukor … gave me the best acting advice I ever had, and I had been to many teachers. In films, you must think and feel, and the rest will take care of itself, he advised me. The least gesture, you see, is what counts in films. Thinking and feeling are what really matter up there on the screen.”

Her best characters do have a weight to them, an internal life which one can discern. It’s unsettling to see, for example, the machinations beneath the surface of her social climber Christabel in Nicholas Ray’s Born to Be Bad (1950). The mixture of adoration and hatred toward the very wealthy which she carries inside her, and which can turn at an instant, is communicated well by Fontaine. Christabel’s words say one thing, while Fontaine’s face tells you the truth of her motives.

Fontaine would give another of her best performances for German-born director Max Ophuls, in his beautiful 1948 film Letter from An Unknown Woman. Fontaine’s character is a young working class woman who becomes infatuated with a famous musician. Fate brings them together briefly for a short but passionate affair, which ends as suddenly as it began. While the infatuation remains for the “unknown woman,” the famed pianist fails to remember her during later encounters. In the end, he has meant everything to her and she has meant little to him.

One is moved by the awkward and unsure effort of Fontaine’s character to be seen, to be recognized as someone of value. The character’s life could almost be summed up by the last words of the letter referred to in the film’s title: “If only…”

One gets the sense that Fontaine, who grew up in the well-to-do home of successful but troubled British parents in Tokyo, knew something about wealth and success, including its more vacuous, unfulfilling and sheltered aspects and brought this to her performances. She knew, intimately, how dreams, careers and lives could be dashed. Not for nothing did the actress once candidly describe Hollywood in this way: “I realize that one outstanding quality it possesses is not the lavishness, the perpetual sunshine, the golden opportunities, but fear.”

Many of Fontaine’s characters had the feeling and texture of real life about them and showed us something of the anxiety and unsettled nature of her time. Her best films continue to speak to us today. Readers are encouraged to explore her work.

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Sunshine Award, thanks Barbara!


Sunshine Award

Barbara of idealisticrebel blog has been so kind to nominate Dear Kitty. Some blog for the Sunshine Award.

Thank you so much for this wonderful gesture!

All the best for you and your blog, Barbara!

Here are the rules for this award:

Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog.
Link to the person who nominated you.
Answer 10 questions about yourself.
Nominate 10 bloggers.
Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.

The 10 questions:

- Favourite food: pineapple.

- Favourite actor: Melina Mercouri.

- Favourite TV show: I don’t watch much TV. Wildlife documentaries.

- Favourite tear-jerker: The Bear.

- Favourite sport: track and field.

- Lucky number: I don’t think a number has ever brought me luck; or misery :)

- Tea or coffee: tomato juice.

- Holidays – rest on the beach or active time: wildlife watching. Like here. Or here.

- Twitter or Facebook: Twitter, as Facebook has privacy issues. See also here. As also became apparent in the recent “Prism” governmental spying scandal.

- Favourite Christmas movie: this video:

My ten nominees are:

1. Chittle Chattle

2. Wild South

3. Lisa Lanser-Rose

4. LOST IN SPACE

5. Journey Around The Globe

6. mysuccessisyoursuccess

7. Ώρα Κοινής Ανησυχίας

8. “OUR WORLD”

9. Mom at home scientist

10. The Infrequent Atheist

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Prehistoric human ancestors on video


This video from the USA says about itself:

Ancient Ancestors Come to Life

2 Jan 2014

See our ancient ancestors come to life through paleoartist John Gurche‘s realistic human likenesses for the Smithsonian’s Hall of Human Origins. “The human story is really nothing short of the story of a little corner of the universe becoming aware of itself,” says Gurche.

VIDEOGRAPHERS: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo and Dominic Mann

EDITOR: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo

By Isaac Saul in the USA:

Artist Brings Our Prehistoric Ancestors To Life (VIDEO)

01/03/2014 3:21 pm EST

Ever wonder about the origins of those incredibly life-like busts of our prehistoric ancestors on display in natural history museums?

As it turns out, the renderings are the handiwork of a handful of highly skilled paleo-artists around the world — including John Gurche, featured in the video above. …

Gurche, 62, spent four years sculpting the 15 detailed busts of human ancestors now on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. In addition to many sculptures, he’s also produced a book, “Shaping Humanity: How Science, Art and Imagination Help Us Understand Our Origins.”

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Humpback whales, video


This video says about itself:

This video was captured in Tonga with the help of Whale Watch Vava’u and Endangered Encounters, two excellent whale watch operations in Vava’u Tonga. The images were captured with a RED Epic and a Tokina 10-17mm lens in 5K resolution.

Michael Graham Richard writes about this video:

January 2, 2014

Watch it in full screen mode!

Here’s another great video by Howard Hall, a natural history filmmaker specializing in marine wildlife and marine environmental films, who also made Ocean Requiem, a reader-favorite on this site. Hall really got up close and personal with a pod of playful whales, some of them apparently curious about the strange creature swimming around them. The title of this short film is Leviathan

I find it very touching to see mama whale cuddling her calf.

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Thatcher let Mandela rot in apartheid prison


This video is called Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) Official Trailer.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Thatcher left Mandela to rot in prison

Friday 3rd January 2013

PMs glossed over issue in controversial talks

Newly released cabinet papers put paid yesterday to longstanding Tory boasts that Margaret Thatcher used her controversial courting of South Africa’s apartheid-era government to help win the release of Nelson Mandela.

Government minutes from 1984, published under the 30-year rule, show that Thatcher made little or no effort to secure Mandela‘s freedom during her first official meeting with South African prime minister PW Botha.

The documents record a summit between Thatcher and Botha, supposedly to discuss the country’s policy towards its black population.

Yet the British PM did not mention Mandela once during the official discussion.

In a report sent by adviser John Coles to Roger Bone, then private secretary to Sir Geoffrey Howe, Number 10 suggested the issue was raised at a short “tete-a-tete.”

No note-takers were present during the discussion but Coles says the issue was raised by Thatcher, who was rebuffed by Botha who claimed he was unable to “interfere with the South African judicial process.”

In the officially minuted meeting that followed no further mention was made of the matter – apparently despite Foreign Office advice to do so.

Thatcher went on to infamously brand Mr Mandela and the ANC as “terrorists” in 1987, while the ultra right-wing Federation of Conservative Students notoriously wore “Hang Nelson Mandela” badges in the early 1980s.

In the wake of Mandela’s death Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior party figures have rushed to distance themselves from their previous stance.

But in a special parliamentary session former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain claimed the Tories were attempting to “rewrite” the history books and attacked the Thatcher government for its “craven indulgence to apartheid rulers.”

“We all say in Britain we were against apartheid, and doubtless we were,” Mr Hain said.

“But some of us did things about it and others didn’t.

“But it really does stick in the craw, when Lord Tebbit, Charles Moore and others similar claim their complicity with apartheid, for that’s what I think it was, somehow bought its end.”

Film: Mandela- Long Walk to Freedom (12A): a critical review is here. Another one is here.

A new book on Joe Slovo and Ruth First pays due tribute to an inspirational couple in the struggle for liberation in South Africa, says JOHN HAYLETT: here.

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Sunshine Award, thanks Ajaytao!


Sunshine Award

Ajaytao of Ajaytao 2010 blog has been so kind to nominate Dear Kitty. Some blog for the Sunshine Award.

Thank you so much for this wonderful gesture!

Here are the rules:

Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog.
Link to the person who nominated you.
Answer 10 questions about yourself.
Nominate 10 bloggers.
Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.

The 10 questions:

Favourite food: pineapple.

- Favourite actor: Melina Mercouri.

- Favourite TV show: I don’t watch much TV. Wildlife documentaries.

- Favourite tear-jerker: The Bear.

- Favourite sport: track and field.

- Lucky number: I don’t think a number has ever brought me luck; or misery :)

- Tea or coffee: tomato juice.

- Holidays – rest on the beach or active time: wildlife watching. Like here. Or here.

- Twitter or Facebook: Twitter, as Facebook has privacy issues. As also became apparent in the recent “Prism” governmental spying scandal.

- Favourite Christmas movie: this video:

My ten nominees are:

1. The Arts and Crafts Bungalow

2. Musical Wishes Blog

3. xdarkxlightx

4. Sketchjay

5. Glorialana’s Blog

6. Latin-American Women Wear Earrings

7. M.FUNK

8. weird & cool stuff seen while out & about

9. Artistic Milestone

10. Eye-Dancers

Walking With Dinosaurs, new film


This video is called Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie – London Gala Screening.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Film: Walking With Dinosaurs (U)

Friday 20th December 2013

Walking With Dinosaurs (U)

Directed by Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale

5 Stars

This film captures the world of dinosaurs in a way never experienced before on screen.

Set 70 million years ago in Alaska, it follows the life of Patchi, an energetic young Patchyrhinosaurus

sic: Pachyrhinosaurus

who has to learn fast to survive in a prehistoric habitat of fascinating creatures and majestic nature.

There is a continual presence of danger, mostly in the form of Gorgon, a cunning and relentless Gorgosaurus. Always on the lookout of his next meal, Gorgon is a turbo-charged T Rex. While leading his family on their annual migration Patchi’s father dies and he’s left with with his older brother Scowler, who is big, strong, single-minded and who takes on any challenge to lead the herd. He loves Patchi, though sometimes there is a sibling rivalry.

Patchi must summon a different kind of courage to approach Juniper, a pretty Patchyrinosaurus female. He triumphs against all odds to become a hero for his herd and for the age.

This is a fascinating film, totally successful in creating a unique world. The dinosaurs are really believable as is the intense action is intense and you’ll be transported to the time of the dinosaurs, sharing their adventures. Utterly enjoyable.

Rita Di Santo