It is cold outside. Or better: it’s freezing. And I don’t like to be cold, nor do I like anything to be cold. Least of all the weather when I have to get up in the morning and go to work. Give me cold, crispy air on a prolonged weekend I can spend in bed. Now that’s my kind of cold. That I can live with. Especially when I can wrap myself in a cozy blanket, have food in bed, enjoy a pot of hot tea and have a pile of films or a new TV show to binge-watch. Of course, I have some favorites but new gems always find a way on my shelves in mysterious ways. So here it is, my list of recommendations for anyone who, like yours truly, is in touch with her inner bear and craves to hibernate in a comfy cave. Don’t give freezer burn a chance and enjoy a good flick instead!
For all of you who enjoy movies set in bygone times, films with strong female leads, I bring a list of recommendations. Period dramas I have enjoyed for their wardrobe, décor and cinematic style. Films I like to revisit for their characters and storylines. Films I have enjoyed for their music and cast. Films released in recent years or back in the 1990s.
- Agora, starring Rachel Weisz as Hypatia, a female mathematician, philosopher and astronomer in late 4th-century
- Anna and the King, starring Jodi Foster as Anna Leonowens, an English school teacher in Siam in the late 19th century
- Being Julia, starring Anette Bening as Julia Lambert, a popular actress in London in the late 1930s
- Doubt, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams as two nuns in 1960s New York (Bronx)
- Driving Miss Daisy, starring Jessica Tandy as Daisy Werthan, a resolute widow in the 1960-70s
- Enchanted April, starring Miranda Richardson, Polly Walker, Joan Plowright and others as a bunch of English ladies who spent their holidays in Italy in the 1920s
- Fried Green Tomatoes, starring Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker as two friends who are mastering life in the Great Depression
- The Great Debaters, starring Jurnee Smollett as Samantha Booke, the first female member of her college’s debate team, set in the mid 1930s
- A Little Princess, starring Liesel Matthews as Sara Crewe, a lovely rich girl who loses everything when her father dies in WWI
- Miss Potter, starring Renée Zellweger as Beatrix Potter, the famous writer and creator of Peter Rabbit
- Out of Africa, starring Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen, A Danish lady who emigrates to Africa in the early 20th century
- Paradise Road, starring Glenn Close, Julianna Margulies, Frances McDormand and many others as female POW in Sumatra during WWII
- Tea with Mussolini, starring Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Lily Tomlin and Cher as five expatiates in Italy in the 1930s through 40s
This list, of course, is far from complete. So whatever you miss, please feel invited to share your favorite flick with a strong female lead! 🙂
As a kid, growing up, I always swapped books with my grandma. Together, we devoured Agatha Christie, especially her books with Miss Marple as the clever leading lady. Then, I fell for Perry Mason. With more than ninety published cases, I still haven’t managed to read all of him.The same goes for J.B. Fletcher and the murders she stumbled into in Cabot Cove. Now, a new character has won my heart: Guido Brunetti, the refined and sightly Commissario. Venice, his daily companion, is the distinctive home for his family, his friends and cases. A place more than an attraction swarmed by millions of tourists each year, pestered by oversized cruise ships and aqua alta. A town as unique as Brunetti himself, used by his creator as a main character. Venice, La Serenissima, the trading town crossed by canals and surrounded by water. A decaying beauty built on logs and land. A lagoon and setting that has inspired many authors, from Shakespeare to Thomas Mann. And, for twenty-two years now, also Donna Leon.
It was a streak of luck that brought Brunetti on paper and into our lives as readers. Donna Leon, once an English professor, has lived in Venice for more than a quarter century. Her passion for literature, opera and Venezia jumps out on every page of her bestselling novels now available in many languages but Italian (upon the author’s insistence). She never expected to write more than one, a crime novel set in Venice with a character she genuinely liked. Twenty-three books later, she’s now a grande dame of mystery and crime. A writer whose protagonists are erudite, sophisticated and often angry at the world and its crimes. It is an intoxicating mix for anyone who enjoys authenticity and reliable characters, for anyone who has a heart for history and critical thinking. Brunetti’s cases are never as grim and gloomy as many Scandinavian novels, but neither are they la dolce vita and cotton candy. For anyone who likes a descriptive style, Italian food and a dash of philosophy, Leon’s books are the perfect pastime told in a pleasant pace. But be warned, once you’ve picked up the first volume, you may never want spend another day without Brunetti and his Venetian life.
Hungry now for more on Donna Leon?! Follow the links below to dive into her world.
Every once in a while it’s important to treat yourself. Good food, some shoe shopping or listening to records in a local store. It’s recommendation time again on Talking Classics. So let’s see what we have:
1) Do you know Caro Emerald?! She’s a Dutch singer whose second album is about to be released in the US on May 14. Mark your calendars, fellow lovers of new vintage, The Shocking Miss Emerald is a real treat.
2) For Perry Mason fans it’s a joy to hear that season 9.1 will soon be available on DVD – on June 11 to be exact. That leaves us with only one half season to complete our collections. Fingers crossed for the TV movies to follow soon.
3) Scarecrow and Mrs. King’s fourth and final season was recently leased on DVD for anyone who has fond memories of a lovely show that sadly lost its heart when its female protagonist, Kate Jackson, fell severely ill.
4) Book-wise, I finally finished reading Eve Arden’s wonderful autobiography. In Three Phases of Eve, the actress takes us on a journey through her life on stage, in movies and beyond. Filled with funny anecdotes, the book is every bit as witty and charming as the woman herself used to be on radio and screen.
5) And last but not least, a new shopping discovery of mine is Unique Vintage. For all you ladies out there who can’t get enough of classy patterns and styles, this site may be a great addition to your favorite retailers. I know it is to mine. ♥
Every once in a while, I love to share links to precious finds and sites. Today, I bring you a cheerful little mix of entertainment and gorgeous, vintage fashion.
- Bombshells and Babes Vintage is a shop I introduced to you before but can only praise again. If my wallet was well-fed, I’d be the first one to empty those lovely online shelves.
- Moxie is another favorite store of mine. The shop is located in DeKalb, Illinois (which tickles me immensely) and is up high on my list of must-go places. You can also find them on Etsy or follow their blog here.
- For my fellow music lovers, I have a wonderful country treat most of you may already know, Della Mae. Their music is so beautiful and uplifting, I really hope to get a chance to see/hear the ladies live anytime soon.
- And last but definitely not least, I bring you a modern Shirley and Laverne. Created and produced by the two leading ladies (Chloe Taylor and Jennifer Erholm) themselves, The Mop & Lucky Files are taking the internet by storm and get well-deserved laurels and praise for a true web series gem.
Do you like to listen to the radio?!
Well, if you’re like me and enjoy the beats, lyrics and commercials of the swing, big band and rock ‘n roll era, I just found the place for you today: Radio Vintage.
Go ahead and listen in, they are online and a wonderful addition to all the available programs on the Internet Archive (including Lux Radio Theater, selected episodes from Dragnet or Father Knows Best, Mr. and Mrs. North, Our Miss Brooks and Perry Mason).
But be warned, you better plan to sing along and move your feet – I know I’ve been doing that all day and enjoyed every blessed minute!