Daily Archives: April 28, 2012

OT: OK, now I want an otter. The charming “Ring of Bright Water”

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Ring of Bright Water

Ring of Bright Water (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have my ice pack on my shoulder and pain meds in my system and enjoying some nature therapy. The 1969 film Ring of Bright Water has been on this afternoon and I found it quite delightful. Starring real-life couple Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna (of Born Free fame) and based on naturalist  Gavin Maxwell‘s book, the film chronicles the story of Graham (Travers), a  jaded Londoner, who adopts an orphaned otter, a situation that does not work very well in his London flat.

Graham, who has always intended to write a book, decides to move to the Scottish highlandswhere he and Mij the otter live in a ramshackle cottage. Graham manages to keep putting off writing that book (instead, he works on fixing up the place, he sketches Mij and takes notes about his unusual pet).  He also meets

Derelict bothy at Sandaig Sandaig is an evocat...

Derelict bothy at Sandaig Sandaig is an evocative place because this is where Gavin Maxwell wrote the famous book 'Ring of Bright Water'. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the very attractive town doctor, played by McKenna, and the three, along with the good doctor’s spaniel,  become fast friends.  There are orphaned geese which Graham rather ham-fistedly attempts to teach how to fly, and his harpooning of a toothless shark in hopes of feeding Mij (too bad it turns out he doesn’t like shark steaks) amongst other adventures.

It’s a sweet, humorous and touching film suitable for all ages, with beautiful scenery and a scene-stealing performance by Mij. Dang it, that otter is just tooooo cute.

Maxwell's Otter. The memorial to Gavin Maxwell...

Maxwell's Otter. The memorial to Gavin Maxwell - a very appropriate statue of an otter, beautifully sited on a promontory overlooking Luce Bay. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Armitage as ministering angel and humble hero

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More John Porter. Can anyone of us forget those moments when he introduced himself to Katie, checking her injuries and doing his best to console and encourage her. “Trust me.”  And she did. And we did. Don’t we all have moments in life when we wish a John Porter would show up and console and encourage us? And then there’s that lovely “aw-shucks” moment when Porter gets the approval of the nun, who now realizes he truly is “a good man sent by God.” Love his smile here.  Love John Porter. My hero.

Porter as loving dad

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We’ve seen Richard Armitage play a dad in a few productions–Shakespeare Retold, Between the Sheets, The Impressionists and Strike Back (and stepdad in Sparkhouse) and just as he strikes all the right notes as ardent lover and romantic hero, RA makes us believe in him as a loving, caring father.

I love this particular scene from Strike Back in which Porter, missing and presumed dead, appears on the doorstep to be greeted by his daughter and wife.  The embrace he gives Alex, so all encompassing, the expression on his face–showing his pleasure is being able to hold his beloved daughter once more–positively tugs at the heartstrings.

 

Part of Porter’s immense appeal is his tender side–the part of him that is so gentle with a traumatized Katie, the part that can’t reject the opportunity to aid orphans, the part that seeks to comfort his tearful little girl and later, to give her that wonderful “I’m glad to be home” hug. He’s big, tough and ruthless when need be; but he is also a kind and gentle man. He’s been estranged from his daughter after his life fell to pieces following the debacle of the Bratton extraction, but we know he never stopped loving or wanting to be with her.

I look forward to seeing Richard playing more dad roles in the future. As in so many other things, he does it so well.  (I still dream of him in the Atticus Finch role in To Kill a Mockingbird.)

50 Shades of Grey Trilogy *SPOILERS* Why I can’t recommend it.

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*PLEASE NOTE: SPOILERS WITHIN FOR THE ENTIRE TRILOGY! IF YOU DON’T WANT ANY SPOILERS FOR ANY OF THE BOOKS, DO NOT READ! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*

 

I have noticed a lot of traffic on this site related to searches for information about EL Jame’s runaway bestseller and so-called “mommy porn” Fifty Shades of Grey,which is turn has led to many views of the two posts I have already devoted to the subject. This is an expanded version of an email response to a fellow blogger who had questions for me concerning the controversial trilogy.  It does contain spoilers for the plot, so be forewarned. And considering the subject matter of the books–a BDSM relationship–it naturally contains mature content.

Fifty Shades of Grey at SeaTac newsstand

Fifty Shades of Grey at SeaTac newsstand (Photo credit: rachelkramerbussel.com)

OK, 50 Shades . . . I seriously wondered if I wanted to read the third book after reading the first two and not exactly being enthralled—frustrated and at times, very troubled, is more like it—but I felt I needed to complete what I started.

I decided to consider what I invested in time and money to read them “taking one for the team” in hopes of helping others know whether or not they would be interested. And as a writer as well as a reader, I needed to see what James did with these characters.

She has clearly intended for this to be the first three in a series of books on these characters. She includes a chapter at the end telling of their meeting from Christian’s POV, which frankly creeped me out with its predatory qualities.

I know that BDSM is not considered sexual deviancy by psychiatry today.  I have no problem with a bit of consensual light bondage, light-hearted spanking and that sort of thing between two well-adjusted adults. I’ve included it in my own erotic romances. It adds a nice bit of spice to the sex.  Writing and reading about sex is fun, indeed. Nothing wrong with some steamy escapist fantasies.  And there is no doubt some of the sex scenes in 50 Shades are hot.

However, I believe someone who has an overwhelming urge to beat a series of young dark-haired women black and blue because they resemble his dead crack whore mother who neglected him and allowed her various boyfriends to abuse her little boy, who ended up living with his mother’s corpse for several days . . . is someone carrying a lot of emotional baggage.

He was also seduced by an older woman who made him her submissive for seven years beginning when he was 15. Before that twisted relationship, he was acting out and getting into fights at school, so supposedly she “saved” him by teaching him to be her sub. But I can’t approve of an older woman manipulating a child in such a manner. Little wonder he was so f***ed up.

He thinks Ana will be the perfect submissive, and of course, she isn’t. She keeps resisting his rules. Perhaps that is part of her appeal for him—the challenge. He thinks he can tame her . . . I find myself asking what intelligent and well-grounded young woman (as she is presented to us) would even consider getting involved with a man like Christian once he had presented her with her “contract” and all its clauses. It is clearly evident at that point he is a major league control freak and a kinky one.

No matter how handsome and sexy and rich he was—I would ask myself, would it be worth denigrating myself and potentially putting myself in real harm’s way? I guess part of my problem is I have never desired to be tied up and gagged or shackled wrists to ankles, spanked or beaten with a belt. I enjoy fantasizing as much as the next girl, but those acts haven’t been part of my imaginings.

Their relationship is based on a strong sexual attraction. She is “different” from the others because, number 1, she is a virgin and so he performs “vanilla” sex with her to get that pesky virginity stuff out of the way; number 2, he ends up actually sleeping with her (as opposed to having sex and then returning to his own bedroom). He becomes obsessed with her very quickly and she with him. Before you know it, they get married and then in a rather ludicrous plot twist, she ends up pregnant.

An epilogue at the end shows them having an idyllic picnic with their little boy, with Ana pregnant with a second child. And Christian is now the loving and doting daddy. Happy families with a mum and dad who still enjoy kinky f**kery on a regular basis in the playroom.

As Servetus says, I think we are supposed to see it as that romantic all-consuming love–not unlike Bella’s and Edward’s relationship in Twilight and remember, this started off as a Twilight fanfic– but it doesn’t work for me on an intellectual or emotional level.

These two fight squabble, bicker and scream at each other at every turn throughout the trilogy. The only way in which they seem to be able to communicate and really find common ground is through sex. They don’t talk to each other; they yell at each other. And I find myself wanting to yell at them to grow up. I don’t think it’s a healthy relationship.

There are constant misunderstandings and false assumptions made on each side. This is her first sexual relationship and it’s his first normal (or semi-normal?) one and you feel as if these two are rushing headlong into something they aren’t ready for. There’s a level of immaturity here that makes it difficult for me to see them being able to so quickly establish a successful marriage and family life. I mean, I can’t buy it that this volatile and mercurial and emotionally immature man who gets upset over the smallest things could have become a captain of industry by 27.  He’s all over the place with his emotions, and so is Ana, albeit to a lesser degree.

Are they equals? Well—at one point when he thinks she is going to leave him he falls in his knees in a submissive pose and acts the role . . . as if he is reliving being Elena’s sub. She agrees to continue to do these kinky things with him, after discovering she has more intense orgasms through it.

But I just don’t buy it all. James describes this story as a fantasy, but she seems to be trying to couch it in reality and it doesn’t gel in a satisfactory or acceptable manner for me.

And I think it sends out a message young girls—who will inevitably get their hands on the “forbidden fruit” and read it—don’t need reinforced: that the love of a good woman conquers all.  How many young women have fallen under the spell of a man who proved to be obsessive and abusive, a stalker, jealous of anyone and anything that takes their attention from the guy?

We hear with heartbreaking frequency about cases of women who have been terrorized, assaulted and murdered by men who supposedly loved them.  Men with anger issues and violent streaks who took it out on the women.

The eternal appeal of the bad boy.  Only, in real life—it doesn’t generally end up happily ever after. That’s why I think there’s a potentially dangerous message here. I don’t believe in censorship and Lord knows, my readers will tell you I am not a prude.  But mommies, your daughters don’t need to be reading this stuff.

Actually, I would like to hear what a trained psychiatric pro who has read them thinks of these books and the behavior of Christian’s therapist, which, if not unethical, is certainly questionable at times.

As far as the quality of writing goes, yes, there is definitely better crafted stuff in the arena of fan fiction you can find online and for free that offers plenty of steam without making one squirm uncomfortably as you read about an innocent young woman being savagely beaten with a belt to give a man “pleasure” (that scene still makes me cringe)  . . .    this is still fanfiction with a questionable message masquerading as a mainstream novel.            I love both; but they are two separate entities.  And one more reason I cannot in good conscience recommend these books.