Month: January 2016

Review: A Murder is Announced (1950) by Agatha Christie

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Harper Collins, 2005. Format: Hardcover Facsimile edition. ISBN-13: 9780007208463. 258 pages.

9780007208463 About the book: A facsimile first edition hardback of the Miss Marple books, published to mark the 75th anniversary of her first appearance and to celebrate her new-found success on television. When The Murder at the Vicarage was published in October 1930, little did the literary world realise that Agatha Christie, already famous for her early Poirot titles, was introducing a character who would become the best-loved female sleuth of all time. The 14 Marple books would appear at intervals over the next 49 years, with Miss Marple’s Final Cases published in 1979, three years after Agatha’s death. To mark the 75th anniversary of Miss Marple’s first appearance, and to celebrate her renewed fortunes as a primetime television star, this collection of facsimile first editions will be the perfect way to enjoy these books in their original form – 12 novels and two short story collections. Reproducing the original typesetting and formats from the first editions from the Christie family’s own archive copies, these books sport the original covers which have been painstakingly restored from the best available copies, reflecting five decades of iconic cover design. (Source: Harper Collins)

Synopsis: The villagers of Chipping Cleghorn, including Jane Marple, are agog with curiosity over an advertisement in the local gazette which reads: A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m. Friends please accept this, the only invitation. A childish practical joke ? Or a hoax intended to scare poor Letitia Blacklock ? Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at Little Paddocks at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out… (Source: Harper Collins)

More about this story: More than a simple murder mystery, this is a story of redemption set in the throes of post-war muddle and discomfort. Miss Marple, on holiday in nearby Medenham Wells, is ably assisted by Inspector Craddock who went on to appear in Sanctuary, 4.50 from Paddington and The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side. This is one of Christie’s most successful conjuring tricks, the physical mechanics actually tested out on her own neighbours in Wallingford, and as usual some of the best, and in retrospect, most infuriating clues are verbal: in this case, you could even say typographical. Agatha Christie even allowed herself a small inhouse joke – the vicarage cat in A Murder is Announced received the rather grand name Tiglath Pileser, after an Assyrian king whose warrior artefacts were discovered on one of her and husband’s archaeological excavations.

This story was the first Miss Marple to be adapted for television in 1956, with Gracie Fields in the starring role, alongside Roger Moore. It was later adapted for the stage by Leslie Darbon and opened in London at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1977 after a try out in Brighton. Set in “present day”, it is one of the few stage plays to feature Miss Marple. It wasn’t until 1985 that Joan Hickson revived the story for TV in the BBC’s adaptation and it was then adapted again almost twenty years later, in 2004, starring Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple. In 2005, BBC Radio 4 produced a dramatisation which featured June Whitfield as Miss Marple. (Source: Official Agatha Christie website)

A Murder Is Announced has been a reread for me, though I probably read it for the first time when I was between twelve or fourteen years old. However I have still found it a fascinating read. Since I don’t have much time right now, I will not elaborate any further. Suffice is to say that I very much agree with the view stated in the blog In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, given below. I should add, however, that I have particularly enjoyed in this rereading, with the opportunity to observe the changes that had been produced in British society and, by association, in Western societies in the time period between the two World Wars; changes that are fully reflected in this story. Highly recommended.

I submit this book as my third entry for the year 1950, at Rich Westwood’s meme ‘Crimes of the Century’, on his blog Past Offences.

Agatha Christie was born in Torquay in 1890 and became, quite simply, the best-selling novelist in history. Her first novel, ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’, written towards the end of the First World War, introduced us to Hercule Poirot, who was to become the most popular detective in crime fiction since Sherlock Holmes. She is known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and another billion in 44 foreign languages. She is the author of 80 crime novels and short story collections, 19 plays, and six novels under the name of Mary Westmacott and saw her work translated into more languages than Shakespeare. Her enduring success, enhanced by many film and TV adaptations, is a tribute to the timeless appeal of her characters and the unequalled ingenuity of the plots. (Source: Harper Collins)

A Murder Is Announced has been reviewed at Mysteries in Paradise, Books Please, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, ahsweetmysteryblog, Past Offences, and Clothes in Books among others.

HarperCollins Publishers

Official Agatha Christie website

Audible

Se anuncia un asesinato de Agatha Christie

Sinopsis: Los habitantes de Chipping Cleghorn, incluyendo Jane Marple, estaban impacientes de curiosidad por un anuncio en el diario local, que dice: Se anuncia un asesinato, que tendrá lugar el viernes, 29 de octubre, en Little Paddocks, a las seis y media de la tarde. Amigos, no desoigan este único aviso. ¿Una broma pueril, o un montaje destinado a asustar a la pobre Letitia Blacklock? Incapaces de resistirse a la misteriosa invitación, una multitud empieza a congregarse en Little Paddocks a la hora señalada cuando, sin previo aviso, las luces se apagan … (Fuente: Harper Collins, mi traducción libre)

Se anuncia un asesinato ha sido para mí una relectura, aunque probablemente lo leí por primera vez cuando tenía entre doce o catorce años de edad. Sin embargo todavía me ha parecido una lectura fascinante. Como no tengo mucho tiempo ahora, no voy a extenderme más. Baste decir que estoy muy de acuerdo con la opinión expresada en el blog In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel. Debo añadir, sin embargo, que he disfrutado especialmente en esta relectura, con la oportunidad de observar los cambios que se habían producido en la sociedad británica y, por asociación, en las sociedades occidentales en el período de tiempo entre las dos guerras mundiales; cambios que se reflejan plenamente en esta historia. Muy recomendable.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Presento este libro como mi tercera entrada al año 1950, en el meme de Rich Westwood “Crimes of the Century”, en su blog Past Offences.

La escritora inglesa, Agatha Christie es considerada como una de las más grandes autoras de crimen y misterio de la literatura universal. Su prolífica obra todavía arrastra a una legión de seguidores, siendo una de las autoras más traducidas del mundo y cuyas novelas y relatos todavía son objeto de reediciones, representaciones y adaptaciones al cine.
Christie fue la creadora de grandes personajes dedicados al mundo del misterio, como la entrañable Señorita Marple o el detective belga Hércules Poirot. Hasta hoy, se calcula que se han vendido más de cuatro mil millones de copias de sus libros traducidos a más de 100 idiomas en todo el mundo. Además, su obra de teatro La ratonera permaneció en cartel durante 23 000 representaciones. Nacida en una familia de clase media, Agatha Christie fue enfermera durante la I Guerra Mundial. Su primera novela se publicó en 1920 y mantuvo una gran actividad mandando relatos a periódicos y revistas. Tras un primer divorcio, Christie se casó con el arqueólogo Max Mallowan, con quien realizó varias excavaciones en Oriente Medio que luego le servirían para ambientar alguna de sus más famosas historias, al igual que su trabajo en la farmacia de un hospital, que le ayudó para perfeccionar su conocimiento de los venenos. La obra de Christie se extiende a lo largo de más de cincuenta años, con personajes como Miss Marple o Poirot, siendo clasificada como novela enigma. De entre sus novelas habría que destacar títulos como Diez negritos, Asesinato en el Orient Express, Tres ratones ciegos, Muerte en el Nilo, El asesinato de Roger Acroyd o Matar es fácil, entre otros muchos. Las adaptaciones al cine de su obra se cuentan por decenas. Además de estas obras, Agatha Christie también se dedicó a la novela romántica bajo el seudónimo de Mary Westmacott. Christie recibió numerosos premios y distinciones a lo largo de su carrera, como el título de Dama del Imperio Británico o el primer Grand Master Award concedido por la Asociación de Escritores de Misterio. Agatha Christie murió en Wallingford el 12 de enero de 1976. (Fuente: Lecturalia)

RBA Libros

OT: Marqués de Riscal Rueda Verdejo (2014)

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  • Winery: Bodegas de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal S.L. Crtra. Nacional VI, Km. 172,600. 47490 – Rueda (Valladolid) Marqués de Riscal is one of the oldest wineries in La Rioja. Founded in Elciego (Álava) in 1858 by Guillermo Hurtado de Amézaga, it has always been characterised by its benchmark status, both nationally and internationally, in the wine sector. At the start of the 1970s, Vinos de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal decided to expand its product range with a white wine. Following two years of tests, the Rueda region was selected for its production. Loyal to its pioneering spirit, Marqués de Riscal created a new young, fresh and fruity white wine in a region famous for its strong, fortified wines. Other wineries took their lead, resulting in the creation of the D.O. Rueda in 1983. Vinos de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal has the best owned vineyards in the Rueda Designation of Origin (205 hectares), and is, additionally, one of the main wine producers in the area, as well as being one of the main producers throughout Castilla y León.
  • Phone: + 34 983 868 029
  • Winemaker: Luís Hurtado de Amézaga Hamparzoumian
  • Website: www.marquesderiscal.com
  • Brand: Marqués de Riscal Rueda Verdejo
  • DO: Rueda
  • Type: Young White Wine. The verdejo grape is stemmed and cooled and left to macerate in order to extract the maximum aroma from the skins and increase the smooth oiliness of the wine. The must, once fined and clear undergoes slow fermentation at a controlled temperature of between 13ºC and 15ºC for 20 days, in order to preserve the varieties characteristic fruitiness. After a time of maturation the wine will be bottled between January and March in the year following the harvest.
  • Vintage: 2014 
  • Alcohol: 13% vol. 
  • Grape Variety: 100% Verdejo (According to the rules and regulations of Rueda D.O. if the Label says Verdejo, the wine has to be at least 85% Verdejo —although many are truly 100% of the native grape. The balance can be Viura and/or Sauvignon Blanc)
  • Vineyards: Vinos de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal has the biggest stock of estate-owned vines in the Denominación de Origen Rueda (205 Ha of own Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc vines, plus 250 Ha of controlled external vines in the villages of La Seca, Rueda, Serrada and Rodilana). 
  • Soil Type:  The D.O. Rueda is located in the central area of the depression formed by the river Duero, on a smooth plateau blown by Atlantic winds. The area has alluvial and flood terraces on the banks of the river Duero and its tributaries, the rivers Trabancos, Zapardiel and Adaja. Dark grey-brown soils, rich in calcium and magnesium, stony but easy to farm, with good ventilation and draining, and limestone outcrops on the hilltops. Permeable and healthy, their texture varies from sandy-loamy to loamy.
  • Bottle Size: 75.0 cl.
  • Price: € 7,10 at Licores Lafuente Madrid.   
  • My wine rating: 88/100 (A wine of good quality) NEW!

By the way, the 2015 will soon be available, if it is not already, and would be better to buy this vintage. Note that young whites don’t improve with time, to the contrary they tend to get worse faster.

Film Notes: The Hateful Eight (2015) directed by Quentin Tarantino

US / 168 minutes / color /The Weinstein Co. Dir: Quentin Tarantino Pro: Richard N. Gladstein, Stacey Sher, Shannon McIntosh Scr: written by Quentin Tarantino Cine: Robert Richardson Mus: Ennio Morricone Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks,, Dana Gourrier, Zoe Bell, Lee Horsley, Gene Jones, Keith Jefferson, Craig Stark, Belinda Owino, Channing Tatum Release Date: (Los Angeles, California, premiere) 7 December 2015. (Spain) 15 January 2016.

The Hateful Eight is a 2015 American Western mystery film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino announced the film in November 2013. After the script leaked in January 2014, he cancelled the movie, but announced that he had changed his mind after directing a live reading of the script at the United Artists Theater in Los Angeles. Filming began on December 8, 2014, near Telluride, Colorado. Distributed by Weinstein Company, The Hateful Eight was released on December 25, 2015, in a roadshow release in 70 mm film format, to generally positive reviews from critics. It had a wide digital release on December 30, 2015. The score, composed by Ennio Morricone, was his first complete Western score in 35 years and was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award, winning the former. (Source: Wikipedia)

Official Synopsis: Set six or eight or twelve years after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. The passengers, bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) race towards the town of Red Rock where Ruth, known in these parts as “The Hangman”, will bring Domergue to justice. Along the road they encounter two strangers Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) a black former Union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) a southern renegade who claims to to be the town’s new sheriff. Losing their lead on the blizzard, Ruth, Domergue, Warren and Mannix seek refuge at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass. When they arrive at Minnie’s they are greeted not by the proprietor but by four unfamiliar faces. Bob (Demian Bichir) who’s taking care of Minnie’s while she’s visiting her mother, is holed up with Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) the hangman of Red Rock, cow-puncher Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). As the storm overtakes the mountainside stopover, our eight travelers come to learn they might not make it to Red Rock after all… (Source: The Quentin Tarantino Archives)

Last week Begoña and I had the chance to go and see Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight, another film that I was expecting I would have enjoyed much more, unfortunately, this has not been the case. In a nutshell after a first half which I quite liked it, in my view, the film ends up being unnecessarily lengthy and the ending is far too predictable and disappointing. Maybe only for Tarantino’s diehard fans.

The Hollywood Reporter film review

Quentin Tarantino Interview: Screenwriting The Hateful Eight with Chris Nolan

Quentin Tarantino on his new film, The Hateful Eight

Official site

Film Notes: Son of Saul (2015) directed by László Nemes

HU / 107 minutes / color / Laokoon Filmgroup Dir: László Nemes Pro: Gábor Sipos, Gábor Rajna Scr: László Nemes, Clara Royer Cine: Mátyás Erdély Mus: László Melis Cast: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnar, Urs Rechn, Todd Charmont, Sándor Zsótér, Marcin Czarnik, Jerzy Zalczak, Uwe Lauer, Christian Harting, Kamil Dobrowski, Amital Kedar, Istvan Pion, Juli Jakab, Levente Orban Release Date: (Cannes Film Festival) 15 May 2015. (Spain) 15 January 2016-

Son of Saul (Original title: Saul fia) is set in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, and follows a day-and-a-half in the life of Saul Ausländer (played by Géza Röhrig), a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando. The film premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prix. It was also shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. It is the ninth Hungarian film to be nominated for the award, and the first one since István Szabó’s Hanussen in 1988. It won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. It is the first Hungarian film to win the award. (Source: Wikipedia)

Synopsis: One of the most talked-about films of the year, and winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival László Nemes’ tour-de-force directorial debut is a powerful and gripping representation of the horrors of the Holocaust. In the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp at the tail end of the Second World War, the Hungarian Jew Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig) works as a member of the camp’s Sonderkommando unit, assigned to shepherd the constant stream of prisoners into the gas chambers and dispose of their bodies thereafter. When one young boy he retrieves from the chamber exhibits a brief flicker of life before dying, Saul is shaken out of his deadened state. Determined to give the child a proper burial — a mission made even more urgent by an impending breakout attempt — Saul manoeuvres his way through the camp’s intricate networks in search of a rabbi to perform the Jewish prayer for the dead. “A terrifyingly accomplished first feature … a masterful exercise in narrative deprivation and sensory overload that recasts familiar horrors in daringly existential terms” (Variety). (Source: Toronto Film Festival)

László Nemes was born in 1977 in Budapest, Hungary. After studying History, International Relations and Screenwriting in Paris, he started working as an assistant director in France and Hungary on short and feature films. For two years, he worked as Béla Tarr’s assistant on The Man From London, and subsequently studied film directing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He directed the shorts Türelem (07), The Counterpart (08), and The Gentleman Takes His Leave (10). Son of Saul (15) is his first feature. He is member of the European Film Academy since 2008.

Begoña and I had the opportunity to see this film a couple of days ago and I very much agree with foxgrove, a reviewer at  Metacritic, here. He wrote: “Son of Saul is one of those important films that comes so steeped in the injustices and horrors of its history that one feels positively guilty about saying anything negative about it.” …. “The ambiguity surrounding whether or not the boy is actually Saul’s …. causes confusion in the narrative which, in turn, has an overall detrimental impact.” “The film’s style further distances…. Long tracking shots, out of focus imagery and an in your face claustrophobic feel becomes somewhat overwhelming.” “Likewise, the frenetic and dizzying camera movements don’t always allow time to process exactly what is happening.” However, I also realises the film has some superb sequences. And I could not agree more with him when he states that “Overall the film cries out to be seen (the critics seem to have been inventing superlatives for it). I just wish that I liked it as much as I appreciate it.” (The emphasis in bold letters is mine). In any case it’s an essential film for a better understanding of II World War. It seems to me a clear favourite to win the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Oscars.

Official site

Laszlo Nemes Narrates a Scene From ‘Son of Saul’

Laszlo Nemes’s Son of Saul by David Hudson at Fandor

The Hollywood Reporter

OT: Kandinsky A Retrospective

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The one in CentroCentro Cibeles, Plaza de Cibeles 1, Madrid, it is probably the largest exhibition dedicated to Vassily Kandinsky made in Spain. From 20 October to 28 February we can enjoy Kandinsky A Retrospective a great exhibition dedicated to the Russian artist Vassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) that has been organized in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou in Paris and Arthemisia Group, and it is curated by Angela Lampe, Curator of Modern Art at the National Museum of Modern Art at the Pompidou Centre.

The exhibition is divided chronologically into four chapters which trace the various episodes of Kandinsky’s life. At the age of thirty he was studying law an economics, but decided to abandon his university career and leave Russia for Munich in order to became a painter. It seems that two aesthetic experiences had been decisive for him. The first was the discovery of one of Claude Monet’s Haystacks in a Moscow gallery: the force of its non-figurative approach made a permanent impression on him. The second, shortly after,was a performance of Lohengrin at the Bolshoi Theatre. Wagner’s opera was a revelation of the power inherent in an art as abstract as music, which was capable of generating brightly colours mental images. The synthesis of the arts was to become a constant in Kandinsky’s work, and central to his famous publications, Concerning the Spiritual in Art and the Blaue Reiter Almanac, which he co-published with his friend Franz Marc in May 1912. The outbreak of World War One put an end to the vibrant Munich period. Kandinsky had to return to his native land, where he helped to reorganise artistic life in revolutionary Russia, up until the moment when he was invited by the founder of the Bauhaus, the architect Walter Gropius, to come to Germany an join the latter’s renowned art school in Weimar. Along with Paul Klee, Kandinsky became a leading figure in the innovative educational system. When the institution was closed by the Nazis in 1933, he was obliged to go into exile yet again, this time in Paris, where he remained until the end of his life. Angela Lampe. (Taken from the exhibition programme)

This travelling exhibition was on display in 2014 at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, before travelling to Milwaukee and Nashville, United States. In Madrid it will be on show in CentroCentro until February 28, 2016. If, on these dates, you happen to be here, do not miss the opportunity of visiting the exhibition, Begoña and I went this morning.

CentroCentro Palacio de Cibeles (in Spanish)