Tag Archives: Cate Blanchett

The Missing

The Missing showcases a side of Ron Howard I never expected to see, and brings a wealth of stunning performance moments from an all-star cast in an epic adventure about family, race, and survivorship. Starring Cate Blanchett, Tommy Lee Jones, Evan Rachel Wood, Eric Schweig, Val Kilmer, Aaron Eckhart, and Jenna Boyd, the story follows the long journey home of a homesteading family in New Mexico after a renegade Apache brujo and his men attack in search of girls to sell in Mexico. Along the way, the white women of this family learn the hard way that their ignorance of Apache values and Apache claims to the land where they live cannot continue to go unchallenged.

My favorite scene in this movie is still the very first one, but I won’t give that away if you haven’t seen it yet. This poem, based on the 79th Psalm, is in Lilly’s voice (Evan Rachel Wood), ruminating in captivity about her odds of being rescued by white soldiers.

What has become of my mother? Strangers
have fouled our ranch with monstrosities,
nothing is sacred to these traffickers.
Our homestead reeks of violation.
the men of our household are carrion,
unburied and impossible to mourn;
their witch cooked Brake alive to feed wild crows.
The land we called our own soaked up their blood
through leaves and snow, as naturally as rain,
and no one left behind to dig their graves.
Before we were the butt of townsfolks’ jokes,
but what we’ve been reduced to – I’ve no words.
How can this have happened to me? How long
will my life be dragged through the mud, how long?
Why don’t these catastrophes strike people
more deserving of contempt, know-nothings,
people with no curiosity,
those who would’ve amounted to less?
Are there not enough fools and laggards
to surfeit their dens of iniquity?
Am I to suffer for my father’s crime?
surely the army will come for us,
for without their help, we are done for.
Someone is bound to attempt to save us,
for we have been stolen from Christian homes,
and no one dare blame us for going along,
so long as we fight in our hearts for grace.
These outlaws and drunks mock our hopes and prayers.
But when cavalry troops come, they’ll turn tail,
eager to outrun avenging lawmen.
When the officers see us bound and gagged,
they’ll be quick to cut our ropes and help us.
They’ll show these shameless bottom-feeders scorn,
and drive home their regard with bayonets.
We here are all that remains of our homesteads.
what we pray for is the barest minimum.
In our mothers’ names we cry for revenge.

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Filed under Acting, Directing, Dream Ensemble, Poetry, Roll Credits

The Missing

So the 64th Psalm turned out to be a dead ringer for Val Kilmer’s cameo in The Missing – pretty tickled to be able to write this poem. I really enjoyed Kilmer’s short appearance in this gem of a Ron Howard movie, opposite Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones.

I haven’t seen his newest release, but I’m eager to check out the material included on his long-awaited project about the connection between Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy. I honestly don’t know what the connection is, but I can’t wait to find out!

I once read a book written by the hypnotist who first introduced Miss Eddy to altered states of consciousness during her long, drawn-out ordeal with chronic back pain. Not too many copies of that one in circulation these days, but it’s housed at the Arts & Sciences library of Johns Hopkins University. It was fascinating, relating the story of a hypnotist who could raise a blister on your arm using only an imaginary heat source. Makes an interesting kind of backstory to the origins of Christian Science, a religion my father and his siblings were raised with – and those were definitely some troubled kids.

But back to The Missing, and the deadpan drollery of Val Kilmer’s lieutenant, when he encounters the search party looking for Maggie’s kidnapped daughter.

Look, ma’am, I’m just a lieutenant to this lot.
We, too, are hunted by Apache raiders.
These are enlisted men – turn aside your eyes,
I do not condone the clumsy thieving here,
and some would speak harshly of my command,
letting fly words of contempt for this disorder,
but such back-biting slanders innocent men,
and without a second thought, careers are up.
Men seek to climb the ranks by spreading mischief.
Already a few sulky men have laid traps.
They suppose me ignorant of common pranks.
“Search me!” such fools proclaim, “turn out my pockets!
What insurance I’ve laid by is hidden well,
and though you rake for it in my very breast,
not a jot will come to light – my cares are safe.”
Little enough do these men know of command.
As quickly as they speak up, they’ll be tossed out.
Their loose tongues will be their own undoing then,
and the rest will merely nod and mock at them.
The stolen valuables will all be paid for,
and by and by, they’ll learn to watch their missteps,
if only to grasp the likely consequence.
My duty and my means constrain my hand, ma’am,
I would offer you protection otherwise.

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Filed under Acting, Corruption, Directing, Dream Ensemble, Poetry

King Richard returns

I don’t have a 4k HD t.v., but I found a lovely pic of Rusty looking ultra regal in 4k HD from Ridley Scott’s 2010 Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett.

This poem, based on the 47th Psalm, is about the beginning of the film, in a pivotal scene when Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son, Prince John, come to greet Rusty and his trusty Crusader, King Richard, on their long-awaited return to England.

No spoilers this time, folks. (But there is some slant rhyme. Like I said, I’ve been experimenting.)

All peoples of England raise the hue and cry,
shout out to King Richard with bluster and pride.
For the Lionheart of the Crusades turns home,
our great King, rich in conquests, takes back his throne.
He crushed the infidels in the Holy Land
and overthrew the rich fortresses of France.
He marked out for England a great destiny,
the pride of our troops in our hour of need.
King Richard arrives – strike up a great fanfare,
the sound of our trumpets should ring him ashore.
Assemble in state to receive your true King,
let the Lionheart gaze on a joyous throng.
For England has long been in feckless John’s hands,
and the land lying fallow without our men.
Richard combined every fief in a nation,
united behind his Crusade and his crown.
The nobles of London all gather and bow;
by bonds that run deeper than blood, they are bound.
For God’s are the kingdom’s Crusader’s and knights.
Much exalted the man who long shared their tents.

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Robin Hood

In Ridley Scott’s 2010 take on the Robin Hood legend, a bit of a history lesson sneaks in the back door with the signing of a precursor to the Magna Carta by King John (played with venomous dash and charm by Oscar Isaac), amply urged on by William Hurt’s William Marshall and Russell Crowe’s Robin Longstride, together with the assembled and much-put-upon nobility of England.

This might feel far-fetched to audiences who only know of one Magna Carta, the one signed by King John’s son and heir many years after the action of the film takes place. But in fact, several precursor documents with the same intent as the Magna Carta were signed by King John under duress at several junctures much like the one dramatized in the film. He reneged on every agreement, but the nobles persevered until they had enough leverage to make the agreement binding on their sovereign.

This poem, based on the 35th Psalm, is in William Marshall’s voice addressed to King John at one of these junctures, when King John’s tax collectors have run amok on behalf of their French overlords (he hired French mercenaries to collect the exorbitant tax from nobles who claimed they could not pay). England faces invasion, and without the nobles’ support, King John cannot hope to repel the French fleet converging on Dover cliffs.

Take up arms, my Lord, against these invaders,
fight those who fight against England and your crown.
Unsheath the sword and nock the arrow – take aim
against these marauders, these wolves in the fold.
Let those who betrayed you be shamed and disgraced,
who used your tax as cover to raid the north.
Let them beat a retreat as they come ashore,
who plot the pillage of English kine and corn.
Let them scatter like chaff before the west wind,
with the longbow harrying their every step.
May they lose their footing in darkness and drown,
with the longbow raining murder over all.
For unprovoked they made designs on your crown,
unprovoked, they set out to sack your estate.
Let us spring our own trap – catch them unawares,
and turn the kernel of their plans against them.
They schemed to divide us – together, we win.
And I celebrate this day to see my King
moved to acknowledge his duties to the crown.
I feel this sea change for England in my bones.
“Majesty, who can supplant you? As our King,
only you can secure the weak against greed
and protect your subjects from their despoilers.”
Deep in your counsel, false witnesses snared you,
painting your nobles as rebels, usurpers.
This is how Geoffry repays your constant trust –
nursed at the same breast, he seeks your very life.
And I, when your kingdom ailed, went in hiding
and roused your people to remember their rights.
May my service to England furnish you well.
As for a friend, I mourned your missteps, waiting
for a chance to set you back on a straight path,
wandering bent and hooded, like a pilgrim.
Yet when your people went in mourning, they struck,
in your name they ravaged the north of England,
like mercenaries they robbed us for the tax.
They tore open our eyes to the awful truth.
With contempt they remarked in their own language
what easy prey we were to the wolves in sheep’s clothes.
Majesty, how long will this go on? We sue
because it is your duty to protect us,
and ours to rise, until lambs become lions.
I shall acclaim you before this gathering,
this great assembly looks to you to lead us.
Will you suffer our enemies to sack us,
will you stand by while the French rob us and leer?
For this is an army of invasion – peace
is an empty pledge, theirs were words of deceit.
Already they throw back their heads in laughter.
They crow, “Hurrah! All England’s for the taking!”
You, my Lord, have seen this – do not stand idle.
Majesty, do not banish me from your court,
deprive me of my duty to my country.
Judge my words by their justice, as England’s King
and let those invaders not gloat over all.
Do not allow our weakness to swell their hearts,
as they congratulate themselves for our faults.
Let them not say to their masters, “We have won.”
Let the French flee with their tails between their legs;
they rejoiced prematurely to do us harm.
Let us humiliate France for her envy,
that France sought to conquer fair England today.
Hear how your people shout and cheer and praise you,
who desire only justice from their King.
And may they always remember this fine day
by the works of their monarch, whose laws are just,
a King who safeguards his people’s well-being,
so their love will follow you into battle,
and their songs will be your ornament of praise.

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Filed under Acting, Corruption, Poetry, Robin Hood