A murderously early spring? (Is it really winter?)

A strange blog post title – what’s going on? Best answer these questions, PlaidCamper.

I thought I’d write this a few months early, as winter appears to have come and gone, and Calgary is gripped by an early spring. Temperatures hitting 12C (!) the next couple of days, and last time I checked the 14 day forecast, the seasonal daytime high of 0C won’t be happening until late December. If this keeps up, expect a photograph of a daffodil next week…

Image 3
Taken this time last year

Calgary has spring, and I’ve had man flu – very disappointing to have a winter affliction when it isn’t even winter outside. Doesn’t seem fair. Luckily, I’d never complain about the weather, and likewise, I’d never complain about feeling under the weather. Nope, I may be gripped by man flu, or worse, but you won’t hear a peep. Perhaps a sniff, sneeze, cough, and a small whimper, but that’s about all.

Having been confined to my sick bed (or sofa), I thought I’d recommend a couple of movies where winter does make an appearance. It’s the only snow we’ve seen for a while.


Let’s start with Wind River (dir. Taylor Sheridan, VVS 2017), one of the few decent movies  for grown ups (they let me in) released since the summer, worth your time if you enjoy a slow burn story, arresting scenery, and great performances. Sheridan wrote this, and he wrote Sicario and Hell or High Water, also good movies. If you’ve seen the others, you’ll know Sheridan enjoys a stand off. The characters he creates aren’t always the most immediately accessible or likeable, but you’ll care about them when the stand off occurs.

More snow!

In Wind River, we start with death on a reservation, followed by death in the past, then more death on a reservation, and finishing up with a bit more death high above a Wyoming reservation. It isn’t the most cheerful of movies, although there are glimmers of hope in the troubled lives of key characters. The story touches on family grief, notions of justice, wasted lives, greed over resource extraction, racial tension, friendship and duplicity. Fortunately, there is also a sprinkling of deadpan humour. And lots and lots of snow. All this in less than two hours, and it is a taut little mystery.

Snow in the city! A happy memory…

Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner are convincing in their roles, Renner as a hunter, Olsen as a rookie FBI agent. We can thank Sheridan as writer for avoiding what could have been a horribly cliched relationship between these two. The smaller roles are well cast and well acted, and the snowy mountain landscapes are beautiful. When the mystery of what happened to the original victim is revealed in a long flashback, it adds to the drama of what happens next. Great storytelling.

If all the gloomy death and despair of Wind River isn’t for you, then let me recommend a different movie. Be warned, it also features death, but there is far more fun to be had in Murder on the Orient Express (dir. Kenneth Branagh, 20th Century Fox 2017), if you are ok with watching a retelling of a story told countless times before.

Train glamour (and snow)

I wasn’t too sure about seeing this one. I’d seen a trailer, and it was a touch off-putting. That moustache! The hammy-sounding Brit accents (I have one of those) and ‘eavy Belgian prrro-nun-cee-ation. Hmm – cliche and scenery-chewing alert!

Well, it was a blast! It’s hard to complain about a wonderfully familiar cast of good actors clearly enjoying themselves. Branagh is confident marshalling his players, giving each just enough space to shine.

I like the snow in this one

The train is rolling through striking mountain scenery when a disaster strikes! It is stuck on a huge trestle bridge suspended over a deep, deep gorge after an avalanche blocks the track, derailing the steam engine. There is lots and lots of snow. There is a murder! Poirot has to solve the case before the avalanche is cleared, the engine restored, and the train is able to continue.

Mist, not steam (and sn- ok, I’ll stop now)

In what is essentially a one set movie after the murder occurs, the delights are in the encounters Branagh’s Poirot has with character after character. The movie isn’t derailed and the story doesn’t run out of steam, even if you know what happens. Branagh himself gives a distinctive performance as Poirot, humanizing him behind the huge whiskers and sharp detective intellect.

The Prairie Express

This movie is good to look at! As well as the colourful period costumes, the train’s interiors are glorious, all cut glass, wooden sheen, crisp tablecloths and gleaming silverware. This is a throwback movie, old-fashioned yet revelling in subverting an age that wasn’t as golden or glamorous as it appears. A fun film, if a story about murder is allowed to be fun.

I hope it is winter where you are!

There you have it, a couple of deeply different movies to enjoy on a dark winter (fake spring?) evening if you are feeling sorry for yourself with a bit of a cold. Thank goodness I was able to get a winter fix, even if it took a murder or two and some CGI…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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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 “A murderously early spring? (Is it really winter?)”

  1. Beautiful winter scenery and I hope you are starting to feel better and will be ready for the snow when it finally arrives. We actually have snow in the forecast for tomorrow and I’m so excited! Thanks for the great movie reviews! We’ve been thinking about watching Wind River and after your review (and lack of good football this weekend) it looks like I finally have a movie to watch (Sicario and Hell or High Water were very good). This is another time of year I always look forward to the movie releases, but other than Star Wars and Denzel Washington’s new film, I haven’t seen many that interest me. I love Kenneth Branagh, but every time I saw the preview to Murder On The Orient Express I was not sure how I would survive that mustache, but I think we may finally have a reason to go to the theater next week. The snowy scenery and photos are gorgeous and I hope you’re back out enjoying it sooner than expected!


    1. Thanks – all the photos were from previous winters, ones with snow! Still nothing, it was 16C in the city yesterday, has to change soon…
      Hope you enjoyed Wind River, one of the better releases this year, I think. Yup, we’ll catch the new Star Wars, but apart from that, not much is jumping out.
      I am feeling better, but now it is Mrs. PC struggling. Can’t think where she caught it!
      Have a great week, and enjoy the snow!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Both of us thought the movie was one of the best we have seen this year and wished we had seen it at the theater. Jeremy Renner was fantastic, I always enjoy Graham Greene and I’ve liked Elizabeth Olson in several movies. I hope Mrs. PC gets well soon. Enjoying the snow and we may actually have a little sunshine today.🙂


  2. Thanks for the movie reviews and wintery photos. Hope your feeling well by now and the weather forecasters are wrong about the delayed arrival. We are feeling the same here although have had 0 snow in town and the mountains are hurting right now


  3. Haha……we had a firm 60ish yesterday and I am thinking…what? in December?!! Feels very off to me. Hey, I love Wind River, so good, I could easily watch it again and again. The Express one I haven’t seen, been curious but since it is one of several re-makes of the movie, I have been dragging my feet. I hope that you get the snow and winter that you desire, great photos by the way!


  4. Hope you’re feeling better by now, PC. These striking photographs and movie reviews seem to banish the fake winter season in favor of pulling up a snug spot by a fireplace while real snow falls heavily all around. Enjoyed it! Have a wintry weekend, if not right away, then soon.


    1. Feeling better, thanks, Walt! Mrs. PC now has the lurgy, although she is bearing up far more stoically than some…
      Still no sign of winter, so going back into the winter photo archives is as good as it gets just now. Patience, not a strong suit as we head further into December and it feels like September!
      Have a great week!


  5. Beth was also under the weather last week so we know it’s the perfect time to recline and watch an absorbing movie. Joe valiantly carried on for both of us. We’ll have to check out Wind River. Sounds like something we could lose ourselves in.


    1. Definitely better, thanks Wayne. Might have passed it on to Judy, but she is made of tougher stuff than me (not that I’d be moping and sorry for myself or anything!)
      Hope your week is off to a good start!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Enjoyed hearing about the movies, PC. I’ve been thinking about seeing “Murder…Express”, it is playing down the street in a theater that looks inviting to me, and your recommendation was encouraging. I am sorry the snow is missing. If a person cannot get snow in Dec. in Calgary, there really is something not right. I won’t go on about that, only to say the photos you captured of the snow throughout this post are beautiful. Hope you feel better, my friend, and I hope the snow falls soon.


    1. Thanks, Jet! Feeling better, although Mrs. PC seems to have picked up a bug from somewhere, can’t imagine how…
      Still no snow, and it was 16C and sunny yesterday – pleasant for September, but so wrong in December.
      If you catch the Branagh version of Poirot, I’d be interested in hearing if you enjoyed it. He has some big shoes to fill, but it can’t be said he skimped on the whiskers!
      Hope all is well, and have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Really enjoyed this one PC. In the midst of all my flood/insurance crisis it was nice to read about snow, cold temperatures, scenic wonders and murder mysteries. Nothing like a classic murder on board a train to distract the mind. Thanks! Hope you feel better soon. 🙂


      1. Thanks PC, well it’s certainly drier though life is never boring. Now I have the fun task of dealing with insurance assessors and plumbers. 😏


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