Saturday, August 22, 2015

Movie Review ... Southpaw


southpaw_posterBoxing movies have been a mainstay for years.  ‘Rocky’, ‘Raging Bull’ and others have examined the dynamics of those brave enough to tussle in the ring.  What they have in common is not the focus on the sport but the people.  Using boxing as a cipher to explore all facets of humanity – from the players to the spectators – every emotion is covered.  ‘Southpaw’ delves into these in a reasonably fresh way.  It’s difficult conjuring something original in the boxing genre but the performers and direction highlight its enduring popularity.

A world light Heavyweight champion, Billy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is at the top of his game.  Watched by his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and daughter, he thinks life is good.  Events take a sad turn when Maureen dies during a fight.  Falling into a spiral of despair, Billy’s life crumbles.  After his daughter is given to welfare, Billy resolves to turn things around.  With the help of trainer Tick (Forest Whitaker), Billy aims to reclaim his life and climb his way back up the career ladder.

An intense exploration of self-destruction and redemption, ‘Southpaw’ is gripping viewing.  Whilst the fight sequences are of the usual nail-biting standard, it’s the psychological elements gaining interest.  It only takes one fatal mis-step to wreck Billy’s world leading to an emotional cataclysm. How he deals with fate’s dark hand provides him another chance of re-building his life.  His relationships with others aid in his re-discovery of who he is and his former passion for boxing.

Directed with intensity by Antoine Fuqua, ‘Southpaw’ succeeds in having a gritty, urban feel.  Although Fuqua occasionally delves into the clichés the genre brings, he is able to put his own unique stamp on the story.  He is helped by Gyllenhaal’s strong performance, again confirming his ability to successfully inhabit characters.  Whitaker makes the most of what could have been a clichéd ‘mentor role’, giving it depth.  The boxing scenes are expertly handled, with the precise skill in developing each move seen.

‘Southpaw’ may not be anything particularly new, but it delivers its own impact.  There is no doubt boxing movies will continue to be seen with the ‘against all odds’ motif always finding favour with audiences in and out of the ring.


Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Trivia Bits 22 August



Quentin Tarantino (pictured) wrote and directed the multi-award winning 2012 American western film Django Unchained and is a highly stylized variation of the spaghetti Western taking place in the Old West and America's pre-Civil War South.

Situated on the Mediterranean Sea gulf, the Gulf of Tunis, behind the Lake of Tunis and the port of La Goulette, Tunis is the capital of the northern African country of Tunisia and has a long history with in the 2nd millennium BC a town, originally named Tunes, was founded by Berbers and also over time occupied by Numidians.

Diego, Iago, Giacomo and Jacques are all foreign equivalents of the English name James.

First used in 1798, Vaccine comes from the Latin word vacca which means cow and was chosen because the first vaccination was derived from cowpox which was given to a boy.

English sculptor and artist Henry Moore was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire, England who is best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art.

Danish-born American trombonist and jazz composer Kai Winding's song Time Is on My Side became a U.S. top ten hit for The Rolling Stones in 1964, and has been covered by Michael Bolton, Wilson Pickett, Paul Revere & the Raiders and Vanessa Carlton, among others.

The first surfer to win the World Surfing Championship five times was Australia surfer Mark Richards who was born in 1957 and grew up in Newcastle, son of Ray and Val Richards, both keen beachgoers.

Will Robie, a highly skilled U.S. Government assassin, first appeared in the 2012 novel The Innocent by American novelist David Baldacci.

Once important in western herbal medicine, Orris root is now used mainly as a fixative and base note in perfumery, the most widely used fixative for potpourri and is also an ingredient in many brands of gin.

In the history of wound care, the Ancient Greeks were the first to differentiate between acute and chronic wounds, calling them fresh and non-healing, respectively.

Quotables 22 August



Friday, August 21, 2015

Trivia Bits 21 August


The Wedding Dance

In The Wedding Dance (pictured), a 1566 oil painting by Flemish Renaissance painter and printmaker Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the movements of the people show that they are acting inappropriately or in an epitome of rustic buffoonery.

Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia with the old town of Riyadh within the city walls didn't exceed an area of 1 km sq, therefore very few significant architectural remnants of the original walled oasis town of Riyadh exist today.

In the 1978 television sitcom series Mork & Mindy alien Mork’s home planet was Ork was sent to observe human behaviour and mentions many times that Orkan scientists grew him in a test-tube.

The first English professional cricketer to be knighted was John “Jack” Hobbs in 1953.

German businessman and a pioneer of field archaeology, Heinrich Schliemann claimed to have found Priam's Treasure in the ruin of Troy but the treasure disappeared from Germany in 1945 after World War II and turned up at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow in 1993.

The first official cricket Test Match between Australia and England was held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground between 15 and 19 March 1877 which Australia won by 45 runs.

In the sport of sailing people compete in the Etchells Class a racing class of one-design sailing boats which was named after a naval architect, boat builder and world championship sailor Elwood Widmer (E. W.) Etchells and the 30’6” keelboat he designed in 1966.

The parallel of latitude of 66o 33’ 44” south of the Equator is the Antarctic Circle.

With a length of 260.1 metres and width of 27.8 metres, the Palace Bridge is a road traffic and foot bascule bridge spanning the Neva River in Saint Petersburg between Palace Square and Vasilievsky Island that was opened on December 23, 1916.

Barstow, California, and Strong City, Kansas, are both named in honour of William Barstow Strong, former president of Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

Quotables 21 August



Thursday, August 20, 2015

Trivia Bits 20 August


Edsel Bermuda station wagons

An estimated 892 Edsel Bermuda station wagons were produced in 1958 by the Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln (M-E-L) Division of the Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan, before the model was dropped after a single year of production.

Cardiothoracic surgical fellow Cristina Yang, portrayed by actress Sandra Oh, is one of the main characters in the American medical drama television series Grey’s Anatomy that premiered in the US on March 27, 2005.

Margrethe II of Denmark became Queen in 1972 and became the first female monarch of Denmark since Margrethe I, ruler of the Scandinavian countries in 1375–1412.

An area known as exurbia suggests that residents sleep in these neighbourhoods, generally outside of any suburban areas, but normally work elsewhere and that these communities have little commercial or industrial activity beyond a small amount of retail, oriented toward serving the residents.

Ohm’s law defines electrical resistance and was the result of his work on resistance in the years 1825 and 1826, and published his results in 1827 as the book Die galvanische Kette, mathematisch bearbeitet ("The galvanic circuit investigated mathematically").

The Yippies were members of the Youth International Party which was a famous youth movement that started in the USA in the 1960’s and was a countercultural revolutionary offshoot of the free speech and anti-war movements.

In the Greek Orthodox Church an eparchy is a territorial diocese governed by a bishop of one of the Eastern churches.

In a natural cave, the Cave Bath of Miskolc, Hungary is an unusual thermal bath that low salt content allowing people to bath for a longer time and became a popular bathing place only after the Ottoman occupation of Hungary (16th-17th century).

The Last Ship, premiering the Bank of America Theatre, Chicago in 2014, is a musical by rock musician Sting and was inspired by Sting's own childhood experiences and the shipbuilding industry in Wallsend.

Monsieur Hulot is a character created and played by French comic Jacques Tati for a series of films in the 1950s and '60s with Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean being an English version.

Quotables 20 August



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Trivia Bits 19 August



An Epaulette (pictured) or Epaulet is a type of ornamental shoulder piece or decoration used as insignia of rank by armed forces and other organizations with their direct origin lying in the bunches of ribbons worn on the shoulders of military coats at the end of the 17th century, which were partially decorative and partially intended to prevent shoulder belts from slipping.

The River Usk rises in the Black Mountain of mid-Wales and into the Severn estuary at Uskmouth with the whole river designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as it contains estuary with mudflats and salt marsh, lagoons, bog and marsh, varied grassland and woodland habitats along its course.

Also known as the Church of Our Lady Queen of the Polish Crown, the 17th century Field Cathedral of the Polish Army was one of many buildings destroyed by the Luftwaffe during the Warsaw Uprising, and was restored between 1946 and 1960.

In bookbinding, the plural of one of the names for a volume printed on sheets folded to form 20 leaves or 40 pages is twentymos.

First performed on 2 July 1733, The Gloria in Bach’s Magnificat if D provides a good example of number symbolism in music as The Gloria praises the ‘Holy Trinity’ - three in one and Bach uses 9 vocal parts in 3 groups of 3, uses a time signature of 9/8, 3 groups of 3 beats to the bar, and a key signature of 3 flats.

Entebbe is a major town in the African country of Uganda and is located on a Lake Victoria peninsula, approximately 37 kilometres (23 mi) southwest of the Ugandan capital Kampala and is the location of Entebbe International Airport, Uganda's largest commercial and military airport.

A jaybird is a person who does housework in the nude with the word almost always meant as an affectionate insult among friends.

Coal is classified as a sedimentary rock formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water.

The Church of England separated from the Roman Catholic Church when the English church renounced papal authority when Henry VIII broke with Rome to secure an annulment from Catherine of Aragon in the 1530s with The Act of Supremacy of 1558 renewing the breach and the Elizabethan Settlement charted a course whereby the English church was to be both Catholic and Reformed.

According to Greek legend, Laius King of Thebes was killed unwittingly by his son Oedipus thus fulfilling a prophecy that said he would kill his father, and thereby bring disaster on his city and family.

Quotables 19 August



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Trivia Bits 18 August


NPG x25198; Lionel Bart

Based on the 1838 novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, the music and lyrics for the musical Oliver! were by writer and composer of British pop music and musicals Lionel Bart (pictured) and premiered in the West End in 1960.

The legendary Greek figure of Orpheus was the subject of a thirty-minute ballet created by choreographer George Balanchine in collaboration with composer Igor Stravinsky with the premiere on April 28, 1948, at City Center of Music and Drama, New York.

Jeff Bezos is best known as the found of incorporated as the company Cadabra on July 5, 1994 and going online as an online bookstore under the name in 1995.

Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore since 2004, likes to code in his spare time and recently published on Facebook a program he wrote for solving Sudoko puzzles in C++.

A Sikh kirpan is a ceremonial sword or dagger carried by baptized Sikhs following religious commandment given by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 in which all baptised Sikhs must wear five articles of faith at all times, the kirpan being one of five articles.

Apiology is the scientific study of honey bees which are often chosen as a study group to answer questions on the evolution of social systems.

In 1998, the American alternative rock band Goo Goo Dolls had a hit with the song Iris originally written for the soundtrack of 1998 film City of Angels, and later included on the band's sixth album Dizzy Up the Girl.

A bass run is an instrumental break in which the main vocal or melody line rests and the bass instruments and line are given the forefront.

The continent of Africa contains the most number of countries and includes Madagascar and various archipelagos with 54 fully recognized sovereign states ("countries"), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition.

USS Wabash (1855), the first Wabash was a steam screw frigate in the U.S. Navy during the American Civil War.

Quotables 18 August



Monday, August 17, 2015

Trivia Bits 17 August


Treasure of Sierra Madre poster small

Walter Huston and his son John become the first father-and-son team to win Oscars as director of and an actor in Treasure of Sierra Madre (poster pictured) in 1949.

The 1848 discovery of Neanderthal remains in Forbes' Quarry, Gibraltar, was the second in history, but its significance was not realised for another sixteen years.

The 1960s British science-fiction television series Thunderbirds had a secret base on Tracy Island which was is not evident from the air, since the Thunderbirds and Pod Vehicles are housed in underground hangars accessible only via hidden launch chutes.

The main ingredient of Italian cacciucco is seafood in an Italian fish stew native to the western coastal towns of Tuscany and Liguria.

The term swan song is a reference to an ancient, controversial belief that swans sing just before they die, and also an idiom for a final performance or accomplishment by a creative person.

A 1965 Esquire poll of US college campuses found that college students ranked Spider-Man and fellow Marvel hero the Hulk alongside Bob Dylan and Che Guevara as their favourite revolutionary icons.

The French noble family, La Tour d'Auvergne held three ducal titles in the Peerage of France - those of Duc de Bouillon, Duc d'Albret, and Duc de Chateau-Thierry up to 1802.

To winnow grain is an agricultural method developed by ancient cultures for separating grain from chaff and also used to remove weevils or other pests from stored grain

Toronto, the largest city in Canada, began in 1750 as the French Fort Rouillé but was abandoned in 1759.

In relation to the illness MERS, the acronym MERS stands for Middle East respiratory syndrome and is a viral respiratory infection caused by the MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) with symptoms ranging from mild to severe including fever, cough, diarrhoea, and shortness of breath.

Quotables 17 August



Sunday, August 16, 2015

Trivia Bits 16 August



The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (pictured) is a 2000 published memoir of Bahamian-American actor, film director, author and diplomat Sidney Poitier.

Although Admiral Robert Calder arguably saved Britain from invasion in the 1805 naval battle of Cape Finisterre against the combined Franco-Spanish fleet, he was court-martialed for his failure to win a more decisive victory.

According to popular American writer of the early 19th century James Fenimore Cooper, Magua is the last of the Mohicans as described in the 1826 historical novel The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757.

West Timor port Kupang was the final destination of Captain Bligh when he was set adrift after the Mutiny on the Bounty on 28 April 1789, sailing for 41 days over a distance of 3618 nautical miles.

Found in English county of Hertfordshire, the Hertfordshire puddingstone is a conglomerate rock named after its resemblance to Christmas pudding and was credited in local folklore with several supernatural powers, including being a protective charm against witchcraft.

All the world’s a stage is a quote from William Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy As You Like It believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the First Folio, 1623.

Pioneer German-American automobile manufacturer, August Duesenberg, went bankrupt after his failure to sell his first mass produced vehicle, although his race cars had won seven of the first ten places in the 1920 Indianapolis 500-mile race.

Tunku or Tuanku is a Malayan title of respect that is used before family names as an indication of nobility.

With origins traced to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century, the Saint Thomas Christian music of Kerala, India may preserve elements of the earliest Christian music due to the Saint Thomas Christian community's isolation and resistance to outside influence.

Built in Warsaw in 1747–1795, Polish bishop Józef Andrzej Załuski, founded Załuski Library, one of the largest 18th century European libraries.

Quotables 16 August