Sunday, October 28, 2012

Woolton Pie


Here is some information about an old dish first created during the first year of World War II in Great Britain. I learned about this dish, while watching the "Wartime" segment of the BBC series, "THE SUPERSIZERS GO", hosted by Giles Coren and Sue Perkins.


First known as (Lord) Woolton Pie, this savory vegetable pie dish was first created during the early years of the Second World War at the Savoy Hotel in London by its then Maitre Chef de Cuisine, Francis Latry. The dish was one of a handful recommended to the British public by the Ministry of Food during the war to support a nutritional diet, despite shortages and rationing of many types of food - especially meat. The pie was named after Frederick Marquis, 1st Earl of Woolton, who became Minister of Food in 1940.

Woolton Pie consisted of diced and cooked potatoes (or parsnips), cauliflower, rutabaga, carrots and turnips. Rolled oats and chopped spring onions were added to the thickened vegetable water, which was poured over the vegetables themselves. The dish was topped with potato pastry and grated cheese and served with vegetable gravy. The recipe could be adapted to reflect the availability and seasonality of ingredients.
Lacking in any meat, Woolton Pie was not well received by the British public. In fact, it was among several wartime austerity dishes that were quickly forgotten by the end of the war.

Below is a recipe for Woolton Pie:



1 lb Potatoes
2 lbs Carrots
½ lb Mushrooms
1 Small leek
2oz Margarine or Chicken Fat
2 Spring onions
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg, Chopped Parsley.
Bunch of herbs made of 1 small Bay Leaf, 1 small sprig of Thyme, Parsley and Celery


Peel the potatoes and carrots, cut them into slices of the thickness of a penny. Wash them well and dry in a tea-cloth. Fry them separately in a frying pan with a little chicken fat.

Do the same for the mushrooms, adding the finely chopped onions and leek. Mix them together and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg and roughly chopped fresh parsley.

Fill a pie-dish with this mixture, placing the bundle of herbs in the middle. Moisten with a little rolled oats, chopped onions, a little giblet stock or water. Allow to cool. Cover with a pastry crust made from half beef-suet or chicken fat and half margarine. Bake in a moderate oven for 1½ hours.

This recipe has been translated from an original flimsy Savoy Restaurant kitchen copy.

World War II Ration Book Book 3 jpeg

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"HOW THE WEST WAS WON" (1962) Review

"HOW THE WEST WAS WON" (1962) Review

This 1962 movie was among the last of the old-fashioned "epic" films that was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).  Filmed using the Cinerama widescreen process, it featured an all-star cast directed by at least three directors.  

After making the decision to use the Cinerama wide-screen process, MGM decided to produce a cinematic adaptation of LIFE magazine's 1959 series of articles about the history of the American West.  Screenwriters James R. Webb and John Gay (uncredited) achieved this by focusing the film on two to three generations of family that migrated westward from western New York, to Southern Ohio, to California and finally to the deserts of Arizona.  The story stretched out in a period of fifty (50) years from the late 1830s to the late 1880s.  According to Wikipedia, the movie was set between 1839 and 1889.  Yet, Webb and Gay's script never indicated this.  The movie consisted of five segments that were directed by three directors, Henry Hathaway, John Ford and George Marshall.

"The Rivers", which was directed by Henry Hathaway, focused on the Prescott family's journey from western New York to Southern Ohio, in an attempt to reach the Illinois country via the Erie Canal and the Ohio River.  During their journey, they meet a mountain man named Linus Rawlins, who falls in love with eldest daughter, Eve; encounter murderous river pirates; and are caught in some dangerous rapids during their trip down the Ohio River.  The last part of their journey ends in Southern Ohio, when the patriarch and matriarch of the Prescotts are drowned and Eve decides to remain there.  She eventually marries Linus and her younger sister, Lilith decides to head to St. Louis.

In "The Plains", Lilith Prescott is a dance hall entertainer in St. Louis, when she receives news of an inheritance - a California gold mine - from a former patron.  In order to join a California-bound wagon train, Lilith becomes the traveling companion of a middle-aged woman named Agatha Clegg.  She also becomes the romantic object of two men - the hard-nosed wagonmaster Roger Morgan (who has a ranch in California) and a professional gambler named Cleve Van Valen.  Lilith eventually forms an attachment to Cleve.  But when her inheritance turns out to be a bust upon their arrival in California, Cleve abandons her.  He eventually reconciles with her on a Sacramento River steamboat and the two marry.  Hathaway also directed.

John Ford directed "The Civil War", a short segment about the experiences of Zeb Rawlins' (Eve and Linus' elder son) at the Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War.  Although Zeb survives, his father was killed during the battle, and his mother died before his return to the family's Ohio farm.  Zeb decides to remain in the Army after the war.

"The Railroad" was about Zeb's experiences as an Army officer during the construction of the railroad during the late 1860s.  He tries and fails to keep the peace between the construction crew led by a man named Mike King and the local Arapaho tribe.  The Arapho incites a buffalo stampede through the railroad camp after King breaks another promise.  And Zeb resigns from the Army.  George Marshall directed.

Hathaway directed the final segment, "The Outlaws", which featured Zeb's last days as a law officer, as he tries to prevent a group of outlaws led by a man named Charlie Gant from stealing a shipment of gold.  After he is successful, Zeb and his family join his widowed aunt Lilith on a trip to her new Arizona ranch.

"HOW THE WEST WAS WON" was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.  It won three won - Best Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Sound.  It is also considered a favorite of director Ron Howard.  I might as well be honest.  I have always liked "HOW THE WEST WAS WON".  If I had not, I would have never purchased the DVD set.  But I cannot see how it was ever nominated for Best Picture, let alone won the Best Screenplay Oscar.  It was NOT that great.  To me, "HOW THE WEST WAS WON" was a mediocre epic that featured a small handful of excellent performances, great photography and a superb score.

The fifty year period that spanned "HOW THE WEST WAS WON" struck me as more suitable for a television miniseries, instead of a movie - even if it had a running time of 162 minutes.  There was too much going on in this film and its time span of fifty years was simply too long.  The 2005 miniseries,"INTO THE WEST" had a similar premise, but it had the good luck to be aired in a six-part miniseries that ran for 552 minutes.  And because of the lack of balance between the story's premise/time span and its running time, the story about the Prescott-Rawlins family seemed half-empty . . . and rushed.

The best of the five segments are the first two directed by Henry Hathaway - "The River" and "The Plains", which featured the Prescotts treks from New York, to Ohio.  Although not perfect, thanks to some plot inconsistency and historical inaccuracy.  What makes these two segments superior to the other three is that are longer and if I must be frank, more substantial.  I could not decide between the two segments on which was my favorite.  I enjoyed viewing the family's journey down the Ohio River and the exciting battle with the river pirates.  On the other hand, both Debbie Reynolds and Gregory Peck's performances made "The Plains" very enjoyable for me.

But the worst of the three segments is the third one directed by John Ford - namely "The Civil War".  I hate to say this, but John Wayne did not make an effective William T. Sherman.  The recently deceased Henry Morgan did a slightly better job as Ulysses S. Grant - frankly, by saying as little as possible.  As for the segment, the screenwriters and Ford did not even bother to feature any plausible battle scenes of Shiloh.  Instead, the audience was subjected to a quick montage of Civil War scenes from other MGM movies - probably 1957's "RAINTREE COUNTRY".  The only good thing about this segment was the beginning scene, when Zeb said good-bye to his mother and younger brother . . . and the last scene, when he said good-bye and handed over his share of the family farm to his brother. 

I enjoyed the work of the cinematography team led by the legendary William H. Daniels very much.  I noticed that a great deal of the movie was shot on location in many of the national parks in the United States.  However, the Cinerama process took away some of the grandeur with the curved lens, which made it impossible for Daniels and the others to film any effective close ups.  And has anyone ever notice that whenever two of the actors seemed to facing each other, their lines of sight seemed to be slightly off?  It must have been hell for the actors to face off each other in a scene, while being unnaturally positioned for the camera.

There were certain aspects of "HOW THE WEST WAS WON" that made it enjoyable for me.  Debbie Reynolds, Carroll Baker, George Peppard, Gregory Peck, Thelma Ritter, Henry Fonda, Lee J.Cobb and Eli Wallach gave the best performances, as far as I am concerned.  Spencer Tracy did a top-notch job as the film's narrator.  But I especially have to commend Reynolds, Baker and Peppard for damn near carrying this film.  Without them, this movie would have folded like a sheet of paper.  There were some performances that did not ring true to me.  According to one scene that featured Linus Rawlings' grave, Eve's husband and Zeb's father was born in 1810.  I hate to say this, but James Stewart was too old - at the age of 53 or 54 - to be portraying a 29 year-old man.  He gave an entertaining performance, but he was too damn old.  Karl Malden, who portrayed Eve and Lilith's father, struck me as a bit too hammy for my tastes.  So were Robert Preston, who portrayed the gauche wagonmaster Roger Morgan; and Richard Widmark, who portrayed the railroad boss Mike King.  Everyone else was . . . okay.

What was the best thing about "HOW THE WEST WAS WON"?  The music.  Period.  It . . . was . . . superb.  Every time I hear the first notes of Alfred Newman's score at the beginning of the movie, I feel goosebumps.  I love it that much.  As much as I enjoyed John Addison's score for "TOM JONES", I find it mind boggling that it beat out Newman's score for "HOW THE WEST WAS WON".  I just cannot conceive this.  Newman also provided 19th century music from the era for the movie and it was used beautifully . . . especially in "The Plains" segment.  With Reynolds portraying a dance hall performer, she provided moviegoers with entertaining renditions of songs like "What Was Your Name in the East?""Raise a Ruckus" and the movie's theme song, "Home in the Meadows".

What else can I say about "HOW THE WEST WAS WON"?  It is an entertaining movie.  I cannot deny this.  It featured first rate performances by the leads Debbie Reynolds, Carroll Baker and George Peppard.  It featured beautiful photography shot by a team of cinematographers led by William Daniels.  And it featured some gorgeous music, which included a superb score written by Alfred Newman.  But it is a flawed movie tainted by historical inaccuracy and a story that would have been served best in a television miniseries.  I am still astounded that it managed to earn a Best Picture Academy Award.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Below are images from the 1938 classic movie, "THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD".  Directed by Michael Curtiz, the movie starred Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland:


Friday, October 19, 2012

"Marie" [PG-13] - Chapter Four

Civil War nurse Charlotte Evans uncovers a mystery at a Mississippi plantation during the middle of the war.

* * * *


Chapter Four

Several days later, Major Scott and the few remaining plantation hands took a large wooden cart deep into the south fields. When they returned, the cart was filled with expensive furnishings - valuables hidden from Union troops. Since the war was practically over in this neighborhood, the major deemed it safe to bring it out in the open again.

One of the furnishings turned out to be a heavy, walnut bureau that was placed in the room I shared with Alma. We decided to use it to put some of our and other belongings in it.

"Look what I found!" Alma declared. She held up a stack of letters tied together by a blue ribbon. "Wonder who they belong to?" She started to untie the package.

Outraged, I cried, "Alma!"


"That is someone's private letters! You shouldn't be prying into someone's affair!"

"So what? I already know who they belong to. Someone named Brent. And there's nobody name Brent living in this house."

"That's because he is dead! Brent was Major Scott's brother," I retorted sharply. I took the pack of letters from her hands. Waving them in front of Alma's face, I added, "And if anyone had ever dared to poke into any of my correspondence or those belonging to my family, they'd wish to God they hadn't been born." I threw the letters back into the bureau.

Pouting, Alma went back to her packing and later left the room, mumbling. After I put the last of my clothes into the bureau, I spotted one letter lying on the floor. I picked it up and started to return it to the bureau when I heard a whisper in my ear. "Read it." I glanced around the room and peeked outside the door. No one was around. "Read it," the voice repeated.

Slowly I unfolded the letter. It read:

April 2, 1842

Dear Brent,

Darling. Why haven't you answered any of my letters? Ever since you returned from Texas three years ago, I have tried repeatedly to regain the love we once had. Yet you continued to spurn my efforts. What have I done to deserve this? Don't you realize that I have never stopped loving you?

When you had informed me we were through that night at the Dickersons' ball, a fire inside had extinguished. I thank God I had our son Richard as a reminder of you during all those years living here alone with Matthew. I knew that Matthew always went to the slave wenches to warm his bed. A brute like him would prefer savages. But I never thought you would be the same. And yet, I saw you kiss that woman at Walker's Pond, two days ago. I nearly died right then and there. That creature who is Richard's mammy. I could not believe that for the past three years, you had prefer her to me, a woman who loves you heart and soul!

Please come back into my arms, my darling! I'm so unhappy and I need you so much. I know that deep in my heart, we belong to each other. Nothing, not even HER, can ever change that.

Yours forever,


I stared at the initials below. D. I believe that Maum Janey once call Mrs. Scott, Miss Deborah. Now I knew why Richard's mother hated me so much. I reminded her of a woman - a colored woman - who had took away the affections of the only man she had ever loved. And history was in danger of repeating itself twenty years later.

Did Richard ever suspect his mother of murder? Did he ever discover that his uncle Brent, not Matthew, was his father? Part of me wanted to reveal what I knew. But something else inside me said to keep my mouth shut. There was no need to reopen that can of worms. Without realizing what I was doing, I tucked the letter in my skirt pocket and went downstairs.

* * * *

Once more, Major Scott invited the hospital staff to dine with his family. Only this time, Mrs. Scott was present. Her presence brought a pall upon suppertime. The fried chicken, potatoes, okra and bread were delicious, but the mood was tense. It was hard to feel jolly with Lady Medusa at the table not speaking but staring at everyone. And when Mrs. Scott spoke, she was cold, polite and short.

After the strained meal, Doctor Anders quickly excused himself to look after the patients. The coward. I asked for Major Scott's permission to play the beautiful Steinway piano in the parlor. It had returned with the other furniture. Everyone gathered inside the parlor and I started to play "Lorena". Somewhere in the middle of the song, Alma asked Richard if someone named Brent was an uncle of his.

"Why yes," Major Scott replied. "Brent was my father's younger brother. Why do you ask?"

"Miss Charlotte and me found this pile of letters in the bureau that was put in our room. On the top someone had wrote, 'To Brent'. Your uncle must have been a popular man. I ain't never seen so many letters to one man in my life."

Major Scott smiled cheerfully, unaware that his mother's face had suddenly paled. "Uncle Brent was always a popular one with the ladies. Best looking man in the county. Wouldn't you say so Mother?"

Mrs. Scott merely nodded.

"Unfortunately, after he became engaged to the daughter of a Natchez merchant, someone accidentally shot him during a deer hunt, twenty years ago. No one really knew who pulled the trigger."

Suddenly I hit the wrong note on the piano and everyone glanced at me. I waved it aside and started playing again. However, there was no mistaking the suspicion in the eyes of the mistress of the house.

"How sad," Alice commented. "I saw the portraits of him and your father. They were both handsome."

From the corner of my eye, I saw Mrs. Scott tremble with emotion as she got up and excused herself. So, more than one ghost resided at Green Willows. I found myself wondering about the "accidental" nature of Brent Scott's death.

End of Chapter Four

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"THE PACIFIC" (2010) - Episode One "Guadalcanal I" Commentary

"THE PACIFIC" (2010) - Episode One "Guadalcanal I" COMMENTARY

March 2010 marked the premiere of the 10-part miniseries, "THE PACIFIC"; which was produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman. The miniseries focused upon the lives and experiences of three U.S. Marines who fought in the Pacific Theater - writer Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale), war hero John Basilone (Jon Seda) and professor/writer Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazello).

This first episode featured the three men's reactions to the attack upon Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Basilone was already a one-year veteran of the Marines during this period, when he bid good-bye to his family. Leckie joined the Marines about a month after the Hawaii attack and formed a friendship with a local girl named Vera before saying good-bye to his father. And Sledge was forced to realize that his heart murmur will prevent him from joining the Marines with his friend and neighbor, Sid Phillips (Ashton Holmes). Not long after this opening, both Leckie and Basilone found themselves being shipped out to deal with the Japanese threat on Guadalcanal. Most of the episode focuses upon Leckie and Phillips' early experiences on Guadalcanal. By the end of the episode, Basilone and the 7th Marines regiment had arrived.

If there is one thing I can say, "THE PACIFIC" was definitely different from 2001's "BAND OF BROTHERS". But I guess I expected it to be. One thing, this episode made it clear that scenes featuring the three characters' experiences on the home front and amongst other civilians would be featured. The scene between Leckie and his father at the bus depot was very interesting - especially with the writer dealing with his father's reluctance to say good-bye. And it was interesting to watch Sledge deal with his frustration at being unable to join up, due to a heart murmur. I found myself wondering if he had any idea what he would experience during the war's later years, would he feel so frustrated.

The main difference between "THE PACIFIC" and "BAND OF BROTHERS" was that the latter mainly recount the experiences of an Army company, with an officer as the series' main character. "THE PACIFIC" was presented in a way that was similar to the 2000 movie, "TRAFFIC" or the 2005 movie, "CRASH" . . . in which the same topic was presented from different perspectives. "THE PACIFIC" presented the viewpoints of three men who DID NOT serve in combat together. And yet, there were connections between them. Leckie had served in the same Marine company as Sledge's best friend, Phillips.  Both Leckie and Basilone fought on Guadalcanal and had a brief encounter with one another at the end of Episode One. Two future episodes featured both Leckie and Sledge fighting in another campaign together - Peleliu. Although there were complaints, I was happy to note that some viewers understood and managed to accept the fact that "THE PACIFIC" possessed a different style of storytelling than "BAND OF BROTHERS".

I would also like to add that I found the combat action featured in this episode very amazing, especially the Battle of the Tenaru. And I found the jungle setting rather lush. The birthday tune that Leckie and his Marines friends sang to Phillips was not only funny, but held an ominous aura as well. Well done. Very well done.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Below is my review of the recent 2010 adaptation of one of Agatha Christie's most famous novels - "MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS":


After being on the air for nearly two decades, ”Agatha Christie’s POIROT” decided to air its own version of the mystery writer’s 1934 novel, ”Murder on the Orient Express”. Although there have been two other well known adaptations of the novel – the famous 1974 movie that starred Albert Finney and the 2001 teleplay that starred Alfred Molina. But this latest version starred David Suchet (considered by many to be the ultimate Hercule Poirot) in the starring role.

Directed by Philip Martin and written by Stewart Harcourt, ”MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS” opened with Hercule berating a British Army officer, who has been revealed to be a liar in regard to a case. Upon completion of said case, Poirto travels over to Istanbul, the first step of his journey back to England. There, Poirot witnesses the stoning of a Turkish woman for adultery with a Colonel Arbuthnot and a Miss Mary Debenham. Thanks to an old acquaintance named Monsieur Bouc, a director of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (which owned the Orient Express lines), the detective manages to book passage aboard the famed continental train, the Orient Express. Among the passengers are Colonel Arbuthnot, Miss Debenham and a sinister American businessman named Samuel Rachett. The latter tries to hire Poirot’s services to protect him from unseen enemies; but the detective refuses due to a dislike toward the American. After the Orient Express becomes caught in a snowdrift in the middle of Yugoslavia, Rachett is found murdered in his compartment – stabbed to death twelve times. As it turned out, Poirot discovered that Rachett was a criminal named Casetti, who was guilty of kidnapping and murdering one Daisy Armstrong, the five year-old daughter of a wealthy Anglo-American couple. To protect the passengers from the Yugoslavia police, Monsieur Bouc hires Poirot to investigate the American’s murder.

Considering this film turned out to be the third, well-known adaptation of Christie’s novel, there were bound to be comparisons with the previous films – especially the famous 1974 version. All three movies featured changes from the novel. In this adaptation, screenwriter Stewart Harcourt decided to allow Poirot to witness the stoning of an adulterous Turkish woman. The characters of Doctor Constantine (a Greek doctor who volunteered to assist Poirot) and an American private detective named Cyrus Hardman were combined into a new character – an American obstetrician named . . . what else, Doctor Constantine. Rachett aka Casetti became a man who desired forgiveness for his kidnapping and murder of young Daisy. The brains behind Rachett’s murder turned out to be a different character. The Greta Ohlsson character was younger in this film. The movie featured a threat against Poirot’s life, after his resolution to the case. And the Orient Express remained snowbound a lot longer than in the novel and previous movies.

But the biggest change in ”MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS” featured the addition of religion as a theme. In fact, the subject permeated throughout the entire movie. Television viewers saw scenes of both Poirot and surprisingly, Rachett, in the act of prayer. The movie also featured a discussion between Poirot and Miss Ohlsson on the differences between their dominations – Catholic and Protestant – and how they dealt with vengeance, justice, and forgiveness. Like many other Christie fans, I suspect that this addition of a religious theme was an attempt by Harcourt to allow Poirot to struggle with his conscience over his willingness to support Monsieur Bouc’s decision regarding the case’s solution.

There were some aspects of ”MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS” that I found appealing. Due to the production’s budget, this adaptation spared the audience some of the over-the-top costume designs from the 1974 movie. The movie also featured first-rate performances from Denis Menochet (the best performance in the movie), who portrayed the car attendant, Pierre Michel; Brian J. Smith as Rachett’s private secretary, Hector McQueen; Barbara Hershey as the verbose tourist Mrs. Caroline Hubbard; Hugh Granville as Rachett’s valet, Edward Masterman; and Eileen Atkins as the imperious Princess Dragonmiroff. Despite portraying the only character not featured in the story, Samuel West gave an impressive, yet subtle performance as Dr. Constantine, whose occasional outrageous suggestions on the murderer’s identity seemed annoying to Poirot. I also have to give kudos to Harcourt for making an attempt to allow Poirot experience some kind of emotional conflict over the fate of Rachett’s killer(s). The novel never broached this topic. And in the 1974 film, Poirot twice expressed brief doubt and regret over the matter.

Despite some of the movie’s virtues, I found ”MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS” to be rather disappointing. One of the biggest disappointments proved to be David Suchet’s performance. I have admired his portrayal of the Belgian detective for over a decade. But this movie did not feature one of Suchet’s better performances. In this movie, his Poirot struck me as harsh, judgmental and one-dimensional in his thinking. The movie also featured Poirot in full rant – against a British Army office at the beginning of the story, and against the suspects, following the revelation scene. In fact, this last scene struck me as an exercise in hammy acting that made Albert Finney’s slightly mannered 1974 performance looked absolutely restrained.

Unfortunately, most of the cast did not fare any better. Joseph Mawle, who portrayed the Italian-American car salesman, Antonio Foscarelli, gave a poor attempt at an American accent. His British accent kept getting into the way. As for David Morrissey’s portrayal of Colonel Abuthnot, I could only shake my head in disbelief at such over-the-top acting – especially in the scene following Poirot’s revelation of the case. And I never understood the necessity of making the Mary Debenham character so anxious. Jessica Chastain’s performance did not exactly impress me and I found myself longing for the cool and sardonic woman from the novel and the 1974 version. I really did not care for Serge Hazanavicius’ portrayal of Monsieur Bouc, the train’s official. I found his performance to be ridiculously over-the-top and annoying. One could say the same about Toby Jones’ portrayal of Samuel Rachett aka Casetti. Poor Mr. Jones. I have been a big fan of his for the past five years or so, but he was the wrong man for this particular role. What made this movie truly unbearable was the last fifteen to twenty minutes, which became an exercise in overwrought acting by most of the cast. Including Suchet.

There were other aspects of this production that bothered me. I never understood the necessity to change the instigator of the murder plot against Rachett. It made more sense to me to adhere to Christie’s original plot in that regard. And I found the use of religion not only unnecessary, but also detrimental to the story. I have nothing against characters with religious beliefs. But I found the scenes featuring both Poirot and Rachett praying in their compartments excessive. The religious topic transformed Poirot into a grim and humorless man. As for Rachett . . . I can only assume that the sight of him praying inside his compartment was supposed to be an indicator of his remorse over his crimes against Daisy Armstrong. Or did fear, instigated by a series of threatening letters, drove him to prayer? If so, the scene clumsily contradicted his other actions aboard the train – snarling at his employees and Pierre Michel, and propositioning Mary Debenham. The topic of religion also produced a tiresome scene filled with overwrought acting by Marie-Josée Croze, in which her character – Greta Ohlsson – lectured Poirot about the differences between Catholics and Protestants in regard to justice, revenge, forgiveness and remorse.

I found the stoning scene in Istanbul completely unnecessary and rather distasteful. I found it distasteful, because the scene changed Poirot’s character and allowed him to harbor a laissez faire attitude over the incident. Poirot also used the stoning scene to indulge in an excessive lecture to Mary Debenham about justice. He was right about the stoning being a part of a custom that no foreign visitor had a right to interfere. But his entire attitude about the matter did not seem like the Hercule Poirot I had become familiar with from Christie’s books, the movies and the ”POIROT” series. Worse, the incident provided a contradicting viewpoint on vigilantism and justice. Think about it. Poirot said nothing against the stoning, which was an act of vigilantism, because not only did he view it as a foreign custom, but also as an act of justice against someone who had sinned. Yet, at the same time, he expressed outrage and disgust over Rachett’s murder – also an act of vigilantism. The entire topic reeked of hypocrisy and bad writing.

”MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS” possessed some virtues that its filmmakers could boast about. Performances from Samuel West, Brian J. Smith, Eileen Atkins, Hugh Bonneville, Barbara Hershey and especially Denis Menochet were first-rate. There were no over-the-top costumes that left me shaking my head. And thankfully, the Hector McQueen character strongly resembled the literary version. On the other hand, the movie seemed riddled with unnecessary changes that either lacked common sense or damaged the story. Its additions of the religion topic and stoning incident simply made matters worse in regard to story and characterization. And a good deal of hammy acting abounded in the movie and made me wince with discomfort, especially from David Suchet. In conclusion, this ”MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS” turned out to be a disappointing affair for me.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"MEN IN BLACK 3" (2012) Photo Gallery

Below are images from "MEN IN BLACK 3", the third entry in the MEN IN BLACK franchise. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, the movie stars Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Emma Thompson:

"MEN IN BLACK 3" (2012) Photo Gallery