Hotel Beau Séjour – New Netflix Series

What do I know of Flanders?

We can start with the famous poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McRae, written in May of 1915 during The Great War (1914-1918), or as it is called here in the USA – World War I. McRae was a Canadian military doctor and an artillery commander. One of McRae’s friends had just been killed by an exploding artillery shell near Ypres, in West Flanders, Belgium. As the chaplain was off base, McRae himself led the burial service. Following that he was inspired to author this poem:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

My knowledge of Flanders also includes some famous Flemish painters like Pieter Bruegel the Elder whose most famous work is called The Dutch Proverbs.

We can easily state that this depiction of life (circa 1559 is not exactly a walk in the park.

Then there was Jan van Eyck famed for his earthly realism combined with spiritual symbolism, and

Peter Paul Rubens who specialized in extravagant Baroque style works many of which are far too voluptuous and detailed to be adequately displayed on these pages..

Now those above are mainly just factoids. I have in fact traveled in Flanders which is a region in Northern Belgium, bordering with The Netherlands. I boarded the Thalys High Speed train in Amsterdam Centraal Station bound for Paris.

I stepped off the train at Paris Gare du Nord  in just over 3 hours after passing through Flanders and even stopping in Brussels.

But why I am really writing about Flanders? Just released on Netflix, a few days ago, is a new series set in Flanders. It is called Hotel Beau Séjour. The quick summary is this:

After finding her own bloody corpse in a hotel bath, Kato slowly realizes that she’s dead – yet a handful of people can still see and hear her.

Or said in a different way:

Caught in an afterlife limbo, Kato investigates her own mysterious death, and unravels a web of secrets in her seemingly tranquil village.

Okay, I’ve reviewed a number of Nordic noirs, and British mysteries, and series about French detectives – but I think this is the just the second series from Belgium that I’ve reviewed. The first was La Treve aka The Break reviewed here.

It is a bit strange, but not off-putting to have a new and an unusual perspective; that being the perspective of the victim. She’s a bit of a ghost in the literal sense of the word, but for those that can see her, it is as if she’s returned from a journey.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2016

Well another year has passed into history, and is now a topic for books and historians. It’s been as tumultuous a year as I can remember. But that’s real life – I’m not making any such statements about the world of art. The year I referenced is not a calendar year but rather a Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving year. As has been my custom for this blog – I celebrate Thanksgiving by bringing you some art to admire, to think about, to be puzzled by – or to simply make you say WOW!

I Hope you will enjoy the art. I don’t think that there are any Art Galleries that are open today Thanksgiving Day), and maybe not too many museums, if any. So you may enjoy the selections here without taking to our nation’s roads, highways, or airports. So without further prologue or warm up lets get into it.

Art is a medium that strikes each of us differently. It doesn’t matter if you see the art on a museum wall, or in some one’s home, or even in an art gallery – your collective reactions are as different as the topics artists choose to memorialize.

The painting at the top of this post is called Old Glory. The artist is the Texan, Clinton Broyles. I led off with this work even though I know that not everyone is a fan of guns and or whiskey. But that leads us to the natural follow-up by Mr. Broyles. Yes, there’s still a gun, marked down from a rifle to a handgun, but the whiskey is not present.

This second one from Broyles is called Texas Two Step.

In case you didn’t get the score, the NFL’s hottest team right now is the Dallas Cowboys who today, Thanksgiving Day, won their 10th straight game. These two Broyles paintings also represent an art genre called Still Life – which is a kind of painting that has gotten very little coverage from me over the years.

Our next batch (of three) are about people looking at art. The first is called Puzzled and is by Chris Chapman who hails from Bournemouth in the UK. The next one is by Pauline Roche and its title is Discovering the Degas. Pauline was born in London but grew up in Australia. Her specialty is what she calls people in quiet contemplation that reveal a connection between the people and their surroundings

We’ll let Mr. Chapman close out this section with a work similar to Puzzled. He calls it Head Scratching. Even the dog isn’t sure of what he’s looking at.

Chapman is an illustrator and has done a whole series of similar works called Fraud Monet, Roy Lichtensteinish, and Jason Pillocks.

Switching gears, or should I say the type of art, let’s look at some paintings from the school of classic realism. The first two are by painter Alfredo Rodriguez.

The first is called Free Trapper. Just look at the details of his fur hat, or his beard.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2015 – Every Picture Tells A Story

Thanksgiving gets a lot of people out of the house. According to the travel organization AAA and Homeland Security, nearly 47 million of our countrymen will take to planes, trains, and automobiles for a journey of 50 miles or more for this long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

vlcsnap-00018Count me out. I’m staying at home. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles has become a Thanksgiving must see film, and it was on tonight on the SyFY channel. I watched it as I usually do, and it is still funny. This film came out in 1987, nearly 30 years ago, and now, it is as ubiquitous on Thanksgiving as turkey, stuffing, and cranberries.

The news has been exceedingly depressing lately, and what with many of TV’s best shows having concluded their fall seasons, pickings on TV will come down to sporting events, or reruns.

But there are antidotes for many of the depressing events in the news, or the growing noise coming from our Presidential candidates. With each day, the Mouth That Roared (Mr. Trump) grows increasingly more shrill. Mr. Trump has decided to play the hate card again and again, which in one sense plays to people’s fears, and in another sense, his words have marginalized many in this country thereby pushing them in another direction. Mr. Sanders continues to wallop us again and again. Ben Carson seems to back pedal just as fast as anyone in recent memory. Mrs. Clinton has the experience and the know how, but is she trustworthy? It really is too much.

But there is one thing that I do on Thanksgiving to get away from all of the above. I trot out some art that appeals to me, and call it my Happy Thanksgiving gift to my readers.

Back in 1971, British rock and roll musician Rod Stewart and Ron Wood wrote a song called Every Picture Tells A Story. While this song has nothing to do with art lyrically, and has been called rude, racist, and sexist it does begin with a reference to self-discovery. And what could be a better message on this Thanksgiving holiday than to state that while the answers to the world’s ills will not be solved by self discovery, many of the issues that live within us surely could use some looking at.

Every Picture Tells a Story is the title of this post. I’ve been writing about art every Thanksgiving since 2009, and am proud to do so once again.

By The Fjord

By The Fjord

We will start with Norwegian artist Hans Dahl. Now  Mr. Dahl died in 1937 – almost 80 years ago.

Andreas Admiring the View

Andreas Admiring the View

There was a period in his life (in the 1890’s) when his work came in for considerable criticism. Painting and the world of art was turning away from Romanticism and heading for Modernist themes.

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JMM Goes MIA

No, I’m not lost, or even missing in action. The MIA reference is for the Minnesota Institute of Art, a world-class museum right here in the land of lakes. I had time to find something to amuse me this afternoon, so the GPS got to sit atop the dashboard of the NIssan Versa, and kept telling me to exit right, and then turn right, or a variation of that, and I was buckled up and  behind the wheel and set to follow those directives straight through to. 2400 Third Avenue South which was the home of the MIA as well as my destination

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The featured exhibit this time is the Art of Eugene Delacroix,

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a French master of Romantic Art, He was 19th Century, which is okay, as we all started somewhere, and none of us were able or competent to decide the when. I am not a fan of Delacroix, and this special exhibit commanded $20 for non-members. So I passed. But the good news is that the rest of the museum was free as in no admission.

I strolled around the museum, had a light lunch at the Agra Café,

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and before I knew it, I found myself in the section for Asian art. There was a nice collection of the kind of gowns (I guess) that the richest of the Chinese men, who might otherwise be known as land barons, wore in the days of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

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Around half past two, I headed out and set the GPS for the venue. I had to pick up my Press Badge,

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as well as my tickets for tonight’s films. That went off without a hitch. I even got to meet the Managing Director the TCFF – Bill Cooper.

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Happy July 4th: Presenting Some Art to Celebrate the Holiday

Happy July 4th!

It is hard to believe that the year (2015) is half over. Where does the time go? As has been my custom, I present my annual July 4th trip to the virtual art museum. Actually none of us need leave our desks, homes, or go anywhere to visit these artworks. And of course there is no admission fee for this virtual museum.

There is no overriding theme for my selections, and except for a couple of July 4th graphics – the art does not truly pertain to Independence day. Generally, I bring you art that has simply caught and attracted my eyes. Some art work will be included because of the bold and striking colors, or the design. Others because they show some activities that you or I might find ourselves involved with over this weekend. Or places that we might visit. And still others because I simply like both the look and feel of the art, and that the paintings display beauty as well as invoking thoughts of happy times.

I’ve included landscapes, figurative, impressionist, classic realism. Most are oil paints but some have been created by water colorists. Enjoy.

We will lead off with a trio from Terri Kelly Moyers. Terri grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and now lives in Sante Fe, New Mexico. Whether she’s painting a portrait or a landscape or a cowgirl riding a horse, Moyer’s subjects are things that she sees beauty in, and things that create an emotional response.

She has said “I want to share what I see with other people and help them have the same pleasure I have. Each artist interprets and edits things in a different way, infusing his or her work with a different quality or emotion.”

The first from Moyers is called Morning Exercise – Santa Anita. I know that many folks will attend race tracks and enjoy horse racing today. This image portrays what takes place in the hours of the early morning before the tracks open to the general public. This is when the track grandstands are empty and the people at the track are mostly trainers, grooms and handlers, exercise boys or girls, horse owners, and clockers.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2014

It has been my custom to share some of my favorite art on Thanksgiving. While the paintings that follow are not Thanksgiving themed, they do take me back to my younger days. As a kid growing up in Huntington, on Long Island, we lived near wooded areas. We also watched TV shows about cowboys, and there were even small forts that were built in those nearby woods. So it is no surprise for thoughts of the west to stay with me all these years later. In those days, a good many films were produced that featured Cowboys and Indians. In fact hiking in the woods has stayed with me even as an adult.

These days, I don’t live in the west except through art. And here in Sarasota, Florida, there are neither hills or forests. We do have some hiking trails and those help somewhat. While I like horses, the last horse I rode was near Shenzhen in China. And it wasn’t that many years ago; maybe in 2008. So you shall see a good number of paintings that include horses. But that’s not all – some of the paintings will take you back to the days of the Old West, or others will be family oriented as is this holiday.

If you can remember the Thanksgiving holiday from when you were a child, you will note that those family gathering have changed. Families do get bigger, but they also get smaller with the passage of time. So thinking about those good old days will be good for the spirit. I have a good many paintings for you, so let’s get started. NOTE: Following the end of the text – there is a link to a video I made of almost all of these images.

I’ll lead with Of Many Paths They’ll Take by Steve Hanks. I don’t think I was this small when I started to navigate pathways. And I didn’t have a small sister either. But doesn’t this painting have an aura of wonder to it. We don’t know where these kids will end up. Nor do they know how their lives will turn out. As a companion to the above painting, Steve Hanks also did one (below) involving a walk down a different path and he called it A Path to Follow.

A Path to Follow Steve Hanks

Speaking of paths, beside those that wend through a forest or the country, there are pathways to people’s hearts. But there are also warpaths.

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Art Warms the Heart and is Food for the Brain

Today was a day that saw Germany go to war against France. As did Brazil against Colombia.

Not on battlefields that left bodies destroyed, but rather on pitches of green grass.

That's Mats Hummel (#5) who scored the winning goal for Germany

That’s Mats Hummel (#5) who scored the winning goal for Germany

I’m talking about the FIFA World Cup in Maracano Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, and the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil. Germany prevailed 1-0, Brazil eked out a 2-1 victory, with both of those teams heading into a semi-final match. What was destroyed were the hopes of France and Colombia to proceed deeper into the World Cup Championship.

David Luiz of Brazil just after scoring the decisive goal

David Luiz of Brazil just after scoring the decisive goal

There was more warfare today on another patch of green grass. This time the location was the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London. Roger Federer of Switzerland squared off against the Canadian Milos Roanic in the semi-final of the Wimbledon Men’s Championship.

Federer moves into the Wimbledon Final against Djokovic

Federer moves into the Wimbledon Final against Djokovic

Federer won in straight sets, and neither player lost any blood. Federer will play for the championship against Novak Djokovic on Sunday morning in what has been called ever since I can remember Breakfast at Wimbledon at least on this side of the pond. In London it is decidedly after breakfast.

In the USA, July 4th celebrates the anniversary of American Independence. While it is a national holiday and there are parades, and fireworks, some folks will be at work. But for most of the country it is a day of parties, outings, and celebrations. Did I forget to mention the NASCAR Race at Daytona tonight?It is also a day when many Americans, those not at the beach, or the mountains, or at work, do their favorite things.

Here, annually on July 4th, as well as another American holiday, Thanksgiving, I present some art works by American artists. These great paintings may not all be about patriotic fervor, or about activities you have ever done; but I believe they represent a handsome example of Americans enjoying themselves, or at least – doing what they do to maintain their families and their homes, and their hopes and desires.

I am going to begin this year with a painting by James Bama. It is called Waiting for the Grand Entry. Now if you aren’t sure of what The Grand Entry is, it is how every rodeo begins. In short a procession of the contestants and other riders that follow the flag bearers.

Waiting for Grand Entry by James Bama

Waiting for Grand Entry by James Bama

In this painting, Bama spotted Kenny Claybaugh as he waited at the beginning of a junior rodeo in Cody, Wyoming. Bama has commented that he was struck by the colorful combination of the yellow rain slicker, the dark glasses and the American flag. Incidentally, I did a post on James Bama back in 2009, for Thanksgiving. Check it out here.

In this next one called, Hopes and Dreams we have another piece of breathtaking art by Alfredo Rodriguez. This grizzled prospector, like so many before him, followed his dreams deep into the American West in hopes of striking gold.

Hopes And Dreams by Alfredo Rodriguez

Hopes And Dreams by Alfredo Rodriguez

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Traditions / Fiddler on the Roof

Traditions.

Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as… as a fiddler on the roof.

So said Tevye in the opening scene and opening song of Fiddler on the Roof. Now how was it that I watched this film, that was released 40 some years ago, on November 3rd, 1971, for the first time today? There are two reasons.

The first is probably because it was just a few days ago, on April 30th, that I listened to the National Public Radio show Fresh Air. In this area, I listen to NPR via WUSF  89.7 FM, Terry Gross, the host of the show, interviewed Sheldon Harnick, who celebrated his 90th birthday on the 30th. Which brings up another question. Who is Sheldon Harnick?

Sheldon Harnick (standing) and Jerry Bock (at the keyboard) back in the day

Sheldon Harnick (standing) and Jerry Bock (at the keyboard) back in the day

Sheldon Harnick is the lyricist for the music of Fiddler on the Roof. The music for the show (and the film) was written by Jerry Bock, who passed away on November 3rd, 2010. The show opened on Broadway on a September day in 1964, so this year marks the show’s 50th anniversary.

Bock and Harnick not too long ago

Bock and Harnick not too long ago

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The Monuments Men

On the webpage for George Clooney’s movie The Monuments Men, under the tab for story, we find:

Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is an action-thriller focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 – possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

I’ve no problem with the above description aside from the obvious stretch to consider or label this film an action thriller.

The Monuments Men TRAILER 2 (2013) - George Clooney, Bill Murray Movie HD_20140207141612_3

The Monuments Men is film in which George Clooney is basically asking us to consider the question: Does Art Matter?

He’ll ask you to consider this multiple times as we hear this either as part of a dialogue or as narration. Of course Art matters. Clooney even takes the trouble to answer this question for us as well:

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