Midweek movies and music

The thread through this post is a little frayed, and a bit twisted – less thread and more like an old cassette tape that has unwound from the spool – but there is a line…

One thing leads to another, if I can borrow an old lyric. Where to begin? A splendid piece, Monster Blues and Salmon, Too, by Walt over at RivertopRambles was the starting gun – it got me thinking and following movies and music along a winding trail. A long and winding (oh stop it, PlaidCamper! Or get your own lyrics…) Walt linked to a video (you can go watch and listen to it at the link above) that had me jumping down a musical rabbit hole, chasing old memories and digging out old albums.

(courtesy: Springsteen.net)

The Big Head Blues Club pointed me to John Lee Hooker, I took a detour with Van Morrison, and ended up traveling through Springsteen’s Nebraska. I heard and found echoes and traces of all these and more after Walt’s blues pulled the musical trigger. Hanging  out in Nebraska got me back to the Terrence Malick movie Badlands, and that reminded me I was planning to watch Malick’s Days of Heaven. So I did.

What an astonishing movie! Set in 1916, it is a rural drama played out in the fields of the Texas panhandle. Murder, loyalty, poverty, identity, family breakdown, and the threat of industrial scale farming production are some of the themes in the mix. If that doesn’t appeal, don’t be put off, simply watch the movie as a series of painterly scenes. And Brooke Adams, Richard Gere, and Sam Shepard are all quite pretty.

The  actual story is slight, fairly conventional, and the dialogue is rather stilted and spare. Fortunately, what overrides the plot and dialogue deficiencies is the voiceover delivered by the most interesting character, a teenage girl played by Linda Manz. Sometimes I find voiceovers irritating; it can seem as though the movie is unable tell a story effectively without a clunky voiceover explaining everything. The voiceover in Days of Heaven is exceptional. It reveals the real story in the movie, told almost in parallel to the events unfolding on screen, and the commentary presents the most affecting point of view.

Days of Heaven is beautiful, with frame after frame of striking images. For the look of the film, Malick was inspired by Edward Hopper, and if Hopper had ever made a movie, it might have looked something like Days of Heaven. The house in the movie was built as a set based on the painting below:

House by the Railroad, 1925 Edward Hopper (courtesy EdwardHopper.net)

Malick’s aim was to shoot in natural light, which he mostly did and with striking results – the harvest scenes are breathtaking. The cinematographer, Nestor Almendros, won an Oscar for his lighting.

As I was watching, the natural lighting had me thinking about The Revenant, how that was filmed in a similar way, in natural light at the start and end of the day. I’m such a nerd – some quick research revealed the production designer, Jack Fisk, worked on both movies. The cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki won an Oscar for his work on The Revenant. I ended up watching The Revenant again, wanting to see and compare the cinematography. What a nerd, but what a delightful landscape-heavy double feature. Shot in different seasons, and forty years apart, both movies were made (in part) in Alberta. Oh the winter grandeur of the mountains, and the late summer beauty of the rolling prairies.

Days of PlaidCampers. Rarely seen. Shot in Montana. Beautiful lighting. Lost plot.

What a wonderful music and movie journey I ended up taking. OK, so it was through an iPad screen, and the hour got exceptionally late, but it was as close to being out of the city as I could get midweek.

There you have it. I’m not so sure I’ve managed to wind the cassette tape back onto the spool, but the music and movie trip was good for me (and for Mrs PC – she didn’t have to listen to me complaining about my nature deficit – and she seems to like my noise cancelling headphones even more than I do. Apparently they really work…)

Good for your health – winter playtime is near!

Little end note tangent: I stayed up late and watched movies because I didn’t have “real” work the next day. Instead of teaching, I attended a workshop designed to promote positive mental health in students (and teachers) – I was a little drowsy later in the day – and one repeated theme was about being outdoors and/or in natural environments and having time to play.

The profile of the class I’m teaching this year includes many students with a mental health diagnosis, and there are several others with mental health problems. It’s quite the challenge in our communities these days, and, sad to say, increasingly prevalent amongst our young people…


I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I firmly believe that being outdoors and involved in the natural world has a fundamental part to play in maintaining good (mental) health. We are better human beings as a result. In that spirit, we are planning on being out in the mountains and on the slopes this coming weekend. Winter playtime!

Thanks for reading, please feel free to share a story, a music or movie recommendation, or a tip for positive mental health, and have a wonderful weekend! If you are in the USA, or from the USA, and you celebrate, I hope you are enjoying a happy Thanksgiving.

Another little end note: to meet the overwhelming demand (erm, one request) the butternut and black bean chilli recipe will be included next week – there was no need (or demand, PlaidCamper) to squeeze in more squash after last week…

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

20 thoughts on “Midweek movies and music”

  1. I agree, nature is a big dollop of medicine, I go batty without taking my medicine. I have two movie recommendations to give you…first the quirky one which is “Lars and the Real Girl”. The second is “Nebraska” with Bruce Dern. Looking forward to recipes and more of your writing, it never fails to bring a smile to my face. 🙂


    1. Thank you for the movie recommendations – I haven’t seen either, so will track them down. Bruce Dern has made some interesting movies down the years, and I think Nebraska is on Netflix, so I’ll watch it over the winter break.
      Thanks again, and have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, down the rabbit hole of art and nature we go toward winter and its pleasures. Another fine one here, PC, and thank you for the link inside your text! You’ve got me wanting to view Days of Heaven, with its Hopper influence and all, as soon as I get back into Netflix mode. Sounds great. And thanks again for all your guidance of students and readers alike as we steer toward mental health and nature love.


    1. Very happy you enjoyed this, and thanks for the kickstart! Hope you get to catch Days of Heaven and enjoy it.
      Have a great week ahead – and I know we shouldn’t wish the time away, but if you’re anything like me, the winter break will arrive just in time!


  3. Hello Plain Camper – thank you for the post.

    I think that the students in your class are very lucky to have you as their teacher. I think that you provide inspiration and motivation to them. I think that you treat them with kindness and understanding. I hope that one day soon the stigma of mental illness will be gone.

    Hope you have a wonderful week-end, enjoy the slopes, the majesty of the mountains, an abundance of snow, and hopefully, blue skies.

    I look forward to next week’s post and photos!


    1. Hello Pandora – thanks for reading and your kind words, very much appreciated.
      We had some snow, downhill conditions were a bit patchy, but it was fun to be out and trying to remember how to get down the mountain in one piece!
      Thanks again, and have a great week!


    1. Yeah, it’s quite the movie to look at!
      Sore legs, a few bruises – it was our first day on the slopes for the new season, and other than a few slow motion tumbles, we had a pretty good time out there – not bad for a pair of oldies on snowboards!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing your wonderful music and movie journey. I still have a case of cassettes I have held on to all these years and am a Classic Rewind listener on Sirius Radio, but think Classic Vinyl has the better name. The latest addition to the music library was Joe Bonamassa Live at the Greek Theatre and The Secret Life of Pets was added to the movie library, both were wonderful. After your interesting review I plan on trying to watch Days of Heaven (although I’m still fighting against watching Stranger Things again). We are stuck in a cycle of gray and rain, but I hope you enjoyed your trip to the mountains.


    1. Glad you enjoyed this one! We switch between Classic Rewind and Classic Vinyl too – although today we also had 70s on 70s (I think it is called that) further along the Sirius dial. Every now and then they have a run of fabulous 70s tunes, and all is good – then something dreadful gets played and it’s time to spin the dial ASAP!
      Have a great week ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. There’s nothing quite like the journey one simple internet/you tube search can lead to. I love falling down that little rabbit hole where music is concerned. It always seem to end somewhere new or in some long forgotten spot.


  6. I’ve just put Days of Heaven on our movie list, pc, sounds like a good one. (I’m passing on the The Revenant though.) I’m with you, there’s nothing like a brisk walk outdoors to get the seratonin dancing. My best wishes to you and Mrs. pc~~


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