Line(s) of the Day #GossipGirl

Chuck and Dan Gossip Girl

Dan Humphrey: I really thought the days of everyone turning their backs on me were over.
Chuck Bass: Well at least this time it’s because they hate you and not because they don’t know you exist.

Penn Badgely and Ed Westwick in Gossip Girl (2007 – 2012), an entertaining teen drama that focuses on the lives of a group of rich teenagers on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. You can find out more about Chuck’s womanising here, and a quote that defines his twisted relationship with Blair Waldorf here.

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Gr8at: Spectacular National Geographic Images

Formerly known as The National Geographic Magazine, National Geographic has long been a byword for exploration; it’s covering of the history of some of the remotest parts of the globe is second to none. It’s also celebrated for its superb photography. Here are eight shots that have been displayed in its publication that I just had to share. Which one grabs you the most?

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Awards / Notification: Season’s Greeting Tag

I’ve been included in the very awesome Abbi’s Christmas-themed ‘Season’s Greetings’ post. Abbi has a super fantastic blog and I really recommend you go and take a visit if you don’t know her blog already.

Minions Christmas

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Gr8at – George Bellows

George Wensley Bellows was a hugely talented American realist painter who arguably captured better than anyone else the life of the city working classes.  He may have died at 42, but his phenomenal way of looking at regular people and the landscape around them, will live on. I saw his retrospective in The Royal Academy last year and not having heard of him earlier, I was utterly mesmorised by his depictions. Here are my favourites.

New York (1911)

New York (1911)

North River (1908)

North River (1908)

Blue Snow (1910)

Blue Snow (1910)

Men of the Docks (1912)

Men of the Docks (1912)

Rain on the River (1908)

Stag at Sharkey's (1909)

Stag at Sharkey’s (1909)

Snow Capped River (1911)

Snow Capped River (1911)

Pennsylvania Excavation (1908)

Pennsylvania Excavation (1908)

Film Quizzes: Stanley Kubrick

I’ve done two quizzes on film set in New York (part 1 part 2) so it’s only fair to do one for one of the city’s most famous natives. Stanley Kubrick is truly one of the most admired, acclaimed and visionary directors to ever have stood behind the camera. See how many of the films below you can get.

Film Quizzes - Stanley Kubrick Film 1 (1950s)

Film Quizzes - Stanley Kubrick Film 2 (1950s)

Sue Lyon (1960s)

Film Quizzes - Stanley Kubrick Film 4 (1970s)

Film Quizzes - Stanley Kubrick Film 5 (1970s)

Film Quizzes - Stanley Kubrick Film 6 (1980s)

Answers below

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Line(s) of the Day

Great Gatsby

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Taken from the book ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Line(s) of the Day #Friends

Pheobe and David

Pheobe: (Gasps) Oh my God! David!.
David: Hi! I-i-is this a bad time?.
Pheobe: (excited) No! It’s a great time, come in…! WOW, hi… Oh my gosh! What are you doing here? Are you back from Minsk?
David: Well, just for a couple of days, uhm… I’m here to explain to the people who gave us our grant, why it’s a positive thing that we spent all their money and uhm… accomplished uhm… nothing.
Pheobe: Who cares, it got you here.
David: Well, it got me to New York anyway, and then I got on a cab at the airport, and the guy said where to? and I just… gave him your address I… I… I didn’t even think about it
Pheobe: Wow. Where is your luggage? .
David: (thinks for a while) Damn it!

Hank Azaria and Lisa Kudrow from the sitcom Friends (1994 – 2004)

Gr8 – Robert de Niro

Quite simply, an acting institution. Robert de Niro has been in been in some of the world’s most iconic films, worked with directing greats and uttered some of cinemas most memorable lines. In a remarkable career spanning over 50 years (and counting), we take a closer look at eight of his best films. Scary to think of some of the ones we left out.

RAGING BULL

Raging Bull

Going right back to 1931’s The Champ, Hollywood has always loved the skilful yet brutal dichotomy of boxing, so it takes something pretty damn special to stand out from the others. Raging Bull, about loathsome boxing legend Jake la Motta, is far more than a telling of the rise and fall of a sports star. And by a director Martin Scorcese, who has no interest in boxing, or sports in general, no less. It’s an intense black and white film that refuses to pull any punches (sorry) in or out of the ring, with la Motta’s dealings with the Mafia, ridiculously short temper and paranoid tendencies all shown, as well as that ferocious attitude when fighting. A film full of iconic moments,  one scene sums it up nicely:  When la Motta’s wife casually mentions that his next opponent isn’t bad looking, la Motta decides to send a message, by not just winning the fight but destroying the fighter’s face, forcing a fan to remark, “He ain’t pretty no more”.

TAXI DRIVER

Taxi driver

And if Raging Bull is intense, Taxi Driver would make an ideal sparring partner. The story of insomniac New York cab driver Travis Bickle and his rebelling against the “scum” of the city, this violent and thought-provoking classic continues to enthral.  Another incredible collaboration between de Niro, director Scorcese and screenwriter Paul Schrader, Taxi Driver captures that essence of being most alone when you are in a big crowd. The former Vietnam vet’s internal hell and the outer demons he confronts daily are central to the theme and tone of the film, as it all builds to its brutal crescendo. De Niro prepared meticulously for the role, including secretly getting a taxi driver license and trying out different accents for the film, despite also working in Italy on the film 1900. Among the sinister scenes, it also reminds us that taking a woman to a porno theatre on a first date is never a good idea. Not to mention having one of cinema’s most quoted lines. Maybe we were talking to him after all.

THE KING OF COMEDY

The King of Comedy

Coolly received by critics and largely ignored by film goers on initial release, this quirky gem took a while to reach its status of black comedy royalty. But its satirical message on society’s obsession with celebrities continues to resonate, and remains a reminder that true class does come through sometimes. An apt message considering the story is of Rupert Pupkin’s long-time obsession to become (in)famous, and the extreme  lengths he goes to so as to make happen. Though de Niro has done plenty of comedy, especially since the turn of the century, this is still perhaps his funniest film. Memorable moments include his arguing with fellow obsessive Masha over who is crazier, Pupkin’s interruptions by his mother when trying to record his material and the gradual wearing down of his cynical and world weary comedian idol. Pupkin may believe that it is “better to be a king for a night than a shmuck for a lifetime”, but whether you agree or not, he isn’t going back to ignominy any time soon.

THE GODFATHER II

The Godfather movie image Robert De Niro

How do you improve upon perfection?  By giving another example of it. Two years after the  Corleones first came onto our screen, we were again invited to meet the Mafia’s most notorious family. Despite speaking mostly in Sicilian dialects, de Niro won rave reviews, and his first Oscar, for his portrayal of the young Vito Corleone.  A more distinct structure, and with a darker tone than the original, the film tells two parallel stories. One is told in flashback of how a young Vito ruthlessly took control of the neighbourhood to establish the empire, the other of Michael’s struggle to retain his moral identity while taking control of the family business.  The layered structure allows us to see how much both men have in common, and how they had to completely transform their identities to succeed. Having seen his reluctance to join in the family business in the initial film, here we are invited to judge just how much of a monster Michael becomes when dealing with his family, friends and enemies.  The godfather of all sequels.

HEAT

Heat

De Niro and Al Pacino may have both been in the Godfather sequel, but Heat is where we see them really act together. Writer and director Michael Mann’s long term labour of love, Heat was finally made in 1995 and soon became recognised as one of the all time great heist movies. Sure, it has a gripping storyline, believable characters, superb acting, an awesome soundtrack and highly-skilled directing, but there’s one scene that will always stand out.  De Niro as criminal Neil Cauley and Al Pacino as Lieutenant Vincent Hanna, the detective chasing him, sharing a table and discussing how much they have had to sacrifice and why they never let it get in the way. The scene may only represent the handful of minutes they share together in what is nearly a three hour film, but is packed with sharp dialogue and an odd sort of poignant respect. For one to win, the other must lose, and there is no second chance for either. The fact that Cauley is named after a real life criminal and the film is based on the book of the detective chasing him, only makes it more fascinating.

GOODFELLAS

Goodfellas

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster,” says protagonist Henry Hill, and Scorcese’s classic shows us just how tempting that world is. From being an ordinary Brooklyn kid, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) manages to connect himself with a wing of the mafia, and building himself up, soon becomes a big part of the organised crime world. And it all seems so glorious. The money, women, influence and style are so intoxicating, it’s almost too easy to forget just how nasty the nasty stuff is. Of course, it can’t last, but this is not a triumph to tragedy biography. GoodFellas invites us into the mob circle too, and directly challenges us to want out. Glamorous and mesmerising, this gangster film supreme shows us how fun living life on the edge, and all the dark comedy it presents, memorably proved by that Joe Pesci outburst. De Niro may only have been a supporting player this time around, but he is a big part of a film that is a riveting part of American cinema.

MEAN STREETS

Mean Streets

Martin Scorcese’s big break, and his first time collaboration with de Niro, is still one of films the director himself says he most fondly remembers.  Scorcese also co-wrote and co-produced this 1973 tale of two Brooklyn friends heading in very different directions, based on various experiences he saw growing up. Charlie (Harvey Keitel) is torn between his ambitions of rising up the Mafia chain to be a respected gangster like his uncle, and his Catholic responsibility to his reckless long-time friend Johnny Boy (de Niro). There’s a hint of Of Mice and Men about this coming of age tale of survival versus loyalty and how it has to end in tragedy. But there’s far more to this than a simple rite of passage. Laden with religious imagery, musical panache, and relentless energy, this is a film about the real mean streets hidden away from the glamorous side of New York.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA

Once upon a time in america

Anything with a big budget can lazily be described as epic, but some films truly epitomise the word. Covering four decades and with an original running time of over four hours, Sergio Leone’s narrative of a small group of Jewish youths and their rise to power is far from an easy ride. But audiences have continued to watch this mesmerising film, with its unconventional narrative, unpleasant characters and shocking violence. Covering the era between the 1920s and 1960s, the film begins with Noodles (de Niro) escaping New York having been betrayed and seeing his friends killed. He goes to a den to smoke opium which creates a dream-like state, (leading some to think what happens afterwards is all just a dream). Then, the story switches to 1968, and we see Noodles being told that a new cemetery means the bodies of his friends will be moved, leading to a reminisce of Noodles’ childhood. With its violent nature, Mafia power struggle and part history lesson of New York, Godfather comparisons will always be made. Once upon a Time in America is a much darker film though, and with a far more symbolic tone and thought provoking ending than Francis Ford Cappola’s masterpiece. And Leon’s final reminder of just what possibilities there are with a western.

Iconic TV Shows Review: Law and Order

Law and order

Trigger And that’s what I’ve done. Maintained it for 20 years. This old brooms had 17 new heads and 14 new handles in its time.
Sid How the hell can it be the same bloody broom then?
Trigger There’s the picture. What more proof do you need?

Running for 20 years, 456 episodes (and numerous spin offs), and featuring 27 different main actors (no original cast of whom were there by the second half of its run), legal drama Law and Order does indeed bring to mind Trigger’s memorable line from Only Fools and Horses.

But while it may have seemed that it chopped its star players more often than it needed, there were various lengthy stints within and each character usually added a fresh impetus, being more than just an identikit character or cardboard cut-out personality. Viewers would have their own favourite. Whether that be the wry-writted old hand Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach), the sensitive young heart throb Rey Curtis (Benjamin Bratt), the impassioned and renegade Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston), the no-nonsense and forceful Anita van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson), or even the cynical, world-weary and media-sensitive District Attorney Aaron Schiff (Steven Hill), there was someone for everyone.

Lennie and Ray

This was an intense and provocative drama with strong personalities with even stronger opinions, dealing with controversial issues such as rape, race, abortion, homosexuality, religion and political influence. Starting with that iconic two beat scene sound introduction, played at the start of every scene, the show would usually start with the discovery of the corpse by passers by. The two detectives would then delve into the frequently grim world of sinister motives of the New York inhabitants before wading through the red herrings and lies and using their instincts and intimidating personalities to ensure they found the perpetrator(s). The second half of the show would switch to dealing with the political battle of the courtroom between the defendant’s free counsel or expensive lawyer trying to weasel out by finding all manner of loopholes, and the District Attorney’s side, aiming for the strongest sentences and being prepared to legally use any aspect of the law.

Jack McCoy

This was a show where the city itself was more than just a background set. Covering all kinds of characters a 24 hour city like New York provides, Law and Order was a tour guide which let you see within the skyscrapers, into the ghettos and diners and back alleys to see the downtrodden, the high fliers, the career criminals, the cads, addicts, activists and social climbers.

And what a superb level of acting. While the main cast will get the main recognition, the standard of actors who would frequently be used for only one episode was all kinds of superlative. Dealing with the guilt, rage, shock, relief, fear, confusion and even indifference in reaction to the crime on someone they knew, actors coming in fully prepared to display any range of emotions. It’s no surprise to find that more than a few ended up starring in leading roles in shows such as The Sopranos, Dexter, The Wire or even end up in Hollywood.

It may have started off slow, limited and raw with its opening episodes, as it struggled to find the necessary slickness fully evident from series 3 onwards, but it never shied away from the ugly part of human nature. While justice normally came through, sometimes the villains won, sometimes the sentence seemed too lenient or too harsh, and sometimes the criminal was a more sympathetic character than the victim. For a show that wanted to reflect city and legal life, it had it just about right.

Law and Order cast

Memorable Quotes

Narrator: In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.

Logan: How would you like to be in one of these (porn) movies?
Briscoe: You kidding? I don’t even like to look at my own x-rays.

Schiff: Wonderful. We’ve got a truckload of evidence against an innocent man, and for the guilty one we got zip.

Curtis: Motive?
Briscoe: He was married wasn’t he?

Det. Lennie Briscoe: I specifically asked for him to be put on suicide watch. Apparently here at Riker’s that mean that they watch you commit suicide.

McCoy: I remember how hard it was when I realized my father was a son of a bitch. I can’t imagine what it must be like when you realize you raised one.

Schiff: I LOVE cases where a homicidal gun dealer is our best witness

Briscoe: Boy, I’d hate for somebody to trace me by what I read.
Curtis: You read, Lennie?

Schiff: Started with a murder, ends with an execution. You got what you wanted. Take the rest of the week off.
McCoy: It’s Friday, Adam.
Schiff: So it is. See you on Monday.

Jack McCoy: Your grief might seem a little more real had you not just admitted you cut off your wife’s head.

Law and order spin offs

Cast and Awards

27 main actors

Years: 1990 – 2010
Created by: Dick Wolf
Number of series 20
Episodes: 456

Emmys:  6 from 51
Golden Globes:  0 from 6

Years: 1990 – 2010
Created by: Dick Wolf