The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

Grief is an unfortunate yet unavoidable process. This can be related to and can include loss of a relationship, job, or physical or emotional loss of a loved one. While there are various stages of grief, each individual handles it differently. They may exact revenge, anger, guilt, or detachment. Regardless, these events are life-altering. They halt the anticipated course of our life trajectory, interrupting any previous sense of rationale we once held. “The Sweet Hereafter”, a 1997 Canadian film directed by Atom Egoyan, explores the complex web of emotions associated with grief and bereavement following great tragedy impacting a rural community in British Columbia.

Mitchell Stephens (Ian Holm), an outside lawyer with a complex and contentious relationship with his daughter Zoe (Caerthan Banks), ventures to a small Canadian town during a harsh winter. He is representing a group of citizens in a class action lawsuit for negligence against their own town and a bus company. We quickly learn the true, heartbreaking nature of this lawsuit – a bus accident claiming the lives of fourteen children. Carefully paced, Stephens unearths the raw reality, fears, and new challenges of those affected by the crash, wrestling with his role in Zoe’s battle with drug addiction.

There are many techniques enhancing storytelling used in this devastating yet beautiful film. Firstly, it is crafted such that the story is out of sequence. This aids to juxtapose between a sorrowful present and a once joyful past, but also to highlight parallels between Stephens’ suffering and that of the community. In addition, “The Pied Piper” is incorporated into the story, showcasing similarities between a legend known to many and this town’s tragedy. Nicole Burnell (Sarah Polley) narrates, and her role as “the lame child” serves as a metaphor for her own fate. As a whole, these techniques enhance the palpability of the film’s catastrophic truths.

“The Sweet Hereafter” is spoken within a phrase near the end of the film. Nicole recites that the once united community is now emotionally disbanded, living separate “strange and new” lives in the “sweet hereafter”. I initially felt that there is a great sense of irony in the title, as the future following a mass casualty seems quite grim. However, in the process of grief, acceptance is generally deemed as the final stage. I do not believe that we “move on” from tragic events as they will forever be imprinted in our memories, but we try to create a new sense of normalcy through an understanding and acceptance of our past. Through this, we may be able to find peace and meaning in the new paths we forge.

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I do not own the above image.

This is part of the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon hosted by Kim from Tranquil Dreams and Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews. Please head on over and check out the other awesome entries!

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Favourite All-Time Oscar Winners

Tonight is the ultimate night where by Hollywood glamour is thrust into the epicentre of limelight, celebrating the film achievements and creations throughout the past year – the Academy Awards. This extravaganza has ballooned in its significance and grandeur since its humble beginnings on May 16, 1929. Whether you agree or disagree with its relevance in the motion picture industry, the overall quality of films recognized by the Academy for nearly a century have been extraordinary.

The following include some of my favourite Oscar winners. It was very difficult to narrow down some choices to say the least. As spoken on the granddaddy of all classic film channels (Turner Classic Movies), “let’s movie!”

Best Picture: Forrest Gump

Best Director: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia

Best Actor: Sir Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs

Best Actress: Vivien Leigh, A Streetcar Named Desire

Best Supporting Actor: Joel Grey, Cabaret

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge

Best Original Screenplay (tie): Charles Brackett, D. M. Marshman Jr., Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard/Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Best Adapted Screenplay: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve

Best Cinematography: Black and White: George Barnes, Rebecca/Colour: Sven Nykvist, Cries and Whispers

Best Original Score: Maurice Jarre, Lawrence of Arabia

Best Foreign Language Film: Ingmar Bergman (Sweden), Through a Glass Darkly

Best Costume Design (tie): Theodor Pistek, Amadeus

I apologize as I know I didn’t include every Oscar category. Please discuss the categories in the comments below! I love and welcome all film discussion. I would also like to give a shoutout to Carol from The Old Hollywood Garden for giving me this idea 🙂

It’s the most wonderful night of the year for Oscar lovers! Enjoy!! 🙂 the-oscars-thumbnail

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The American Friend (1977)

The art and mastery of deception have been approached by many and accomplished by few. Distinguishing features discerning individuals’ capabilities in this realm include narcissism, antisocial traits, and overall lack of empathy. Those with these aforementioned traits may slide into the world of fraudulence with great ease while those with higher levels of compassion and appreciation of others’ needs undoubtedly experience guilt. However, particular needs, desires, and goals may create drive to bypass emotions associated with guilt to fulfill immoral acts. Wim Winders’ 1977 neo-noir “The American Friend” based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1974 novel “Ripley’s Game” wholeheartedly explores this concept with a humble frame-maker at the epicentre of this dilemma.

Jonathan Zimmermann (Bruno Ganz) is, as already mentioned, an owner of a frame-making shop in Hamburg with an extremely rare hematological malady. He has an initial icy encounter with wealthy American “cowboy” and art forgery extraordinaire Tom Ripley (Dennis Hopper) at an art auction. French gangster Raoul Minot (Gerard Blain) subsequently asks Ripley to kill members of a rival crime syndicate. Displeased by this interaction with the frame-maker, Ripley indirectly rights this disdainful encounter by setting up Zimmermann as a lowly assassin for this purpose. Unsuspecting and honest Zimmermann is thus carefully manipulated and deeply thrust into the once unknown crime underworld with financial coercion.

Many elements of this film create synergy in its effective delivery of suspense and urgency. The slow buildup of knowingly future tense scenes produces a sense of dread, desperation, and bewilderment. I feel that this necessary technique pays homage to the film noir aura, and especially the style of Hitchcock. The dissimilar and plot-enhancing fast-paced train sequence pays homage to “Shadow of a Doubt” and “Strangers on a Train”, the latter which is based on a novel of the same name written by Highsmith. I also believe that he contrasting vast scenery of Hamburg and claustrophobic images within rooms amplify the conflicted and tormented inner selves of the main characters.

Ultimately, Ripley and Zimmermann establish a mutual agreement. Some may even call it a friendship, with Ripley being “the American friend”. However, there is a lack of genuineness and sense of hypocrisy in the contextual use of the word. This amicability was built on lies, murder, initial disrespect, and exploitation. I believe that both used each other as means to an end in their pursuits, which is unfortunately how some so-called “friendships” operate in the real world. Roots of jealousy and conspiracy can grow from either acquaintances or perceivably strong friendships, leading to a destructive snowball effect. It is therefore imperative that honesty, humility, respect, and true care serve as the foundation for any relationship.

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I do not own the above image.

Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

Road trips have been a mainstay of travelling for as long as motorized vehicles have been invented. They involve a small group of individuals who often reveal a variety of emotions and opinions within a claustrophobic, confined space. This may create closer bonds among said parties, or invoke greater distance and argumentativeness. Regardless, personal truths, epiphanies, and an increased sense of clarity can emerge from such heated discussions. All of the above occur in the vibrant 1994 Australian film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, whereby dramatic music magnifies the vast, tortuous landscape and diverse wildlife of the breathtakingly beautiful Australian Outback.

Anthony ‘Tick’ Belrose (Hugo Weaving) accepts a proposal to perform at a casino managed by his estranged wife in Alice Springs. He works as a drag queen in Sydney named Mitzi Del Bra in Sydney, and asks two other fabulous Sydney queens to join him – grieving Bernadette Bassinger (Terrence Stamp) who identifies as transgender, and flamboyant Adam Whitely a.k.a. Felicia Jollygoodfellow (Guy Pearce). In a cheaply bribed bus christened “Priscilla”, they travel to their destination with an extremely healthy dose of glitter, glamour, ABBA, and some stellar lip-syncing. Unfortunately, they encounter and experience intense discrimination, ignorance, and frustration. However, compassion, acceptance, bonding, mutual respect, and self-discovery grow throughout their journey.

In all of her glory, Priscilla acts as a vehicle to help the characters learn more about themselves and others through the act and art of conversation in a barren, isolated region. They each are confronted with fears surrounding relationships, judgment, and authenticity throughout the film, emerging with enhanced positivity, well-being, and self-actualization. This type of voyage is quite relatable to all individuals, as we all suppress aspects and tasks in our daily lives that seem insurmountable. Nevertheless, challenging these perceived and real fears can allow us to evolve into a more fulfilled, genuine version of ourselves.

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I do not own the above image.

This post is a part of the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon hosted by Drew at Drew’s Movie Reviews and Kim at Tranquil Dreams. Please go to the sites and reminisce about the decade that was…the 90’s!

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Our Hospitality (1923)

Politeness often paves the way for the introduction and growth of social and even business-focused relationships. The tourism industry is founded on this idea. As more personal relationships flourish, uncomfortable undercurrents and animosity may begin to slowly emerge. However, there may be situations whereby a facade of civility and amicability masquerades perceived genuineness from the beginning. Friction is quite apparent from day one, and should be tackled to recognize any impending conflict. The principle of irony in kindness is explored in Buster Keaton’s 1923 classic, “Our Hospitality”.

The story commences in 1810 with a longstanding, foolish feud between the Canfield and McKay families. One night, one member in each family kills each other out of pride and spite. One of these individuals is John McKay (Edward Coxen), the father of young Willie McKay (Buster Keaton Jr.). For protection of the boy, Willie and his mother (Jean Dumas) move to New York City. Flash forward twenty years later whereby an adult Willie (Buster Keaton Sr.) receives a letter that he is set to inherit his father’s property. He must return to his former home to obtain this real estate, but is finally educated about the feud by his Aunt Mary (Kitty Bradbury). He is warned to never interact with the Canfield family. During the extremely complicated train travel equipped with absent and route-changing train tracks, Willie meets a charming young lady (Natalie Talmadge, Keaton’s wife). Unbeknownst to him, her surname is … Canfield! Obliviousness, determination, deception, and farce ensue in his pursuit to court her while avoiding death by the hands of her male family members.

This slapstick comedy has all of the goods – incredible gags, death-defying stunts, and a great deal of heart. In my opinion, the most memorable gags in this film are crafted with waterfalls as the central point. This setting can be quite dangerous, and Keaton did not use stunt doubles in filming these scenes. I viewed this film with extreme awe knowing that his creativity and bravery perpetuated great innovation amongst all in the film world. Furthermore, I feel that the involvement of Keaton’s wife, son, and father greatly enhances the sentimentality and raw emotionality within the film. While the Canfields were less than hospitable towards Willie McKay, Keaton’s hospitality definitely shone through in the fruition of this wondrous masterpiece.

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I do not own the above image.

Here is one such amazing clip related to the waterfall stunts in this film. It definitely took a lot of co-ordination, trust, and fearlessness to execute this scene.

This post is part of the Third Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon hosted by Silent-ology. There are lots of great posts paying tribute to this pioneer of comedy!

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In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Darkness creates a peculiar environment. Stillness and tranquility are at their peak during this time, but nighttime wraps a shroud of mystique and secrecy around one’s domain as well. This can unfortunately generate an opportunity for devious, anxiety-provoking, and unlawful attacks. Trying to determine the root cause of these events can be equally as distressing beneath twilight amidst sleep deprivation and unfamiliar work surroundings. A snowball effect of further doubt, confusion, compounding chaos and ultimately animosity may ensue, heightening the inability to effectively concentrate on the task at hand. The groundbreaking 1967 film “In the Heat of the Night” directed by Canadian Norman Jewison explores this very situation. It was further escalated by a very tense, discriminatory environment in the southern United States of the 1960s.

The always distinguished and poised Sidney Poitier plays Virgil Tibbs, a Philadelphia police officer with an expertise in homicide investigations. While awaiting a train in Sparta, Mississippi “in the heat of the night”, the body of a renowned businessman is discovered on a street in town. Peeping tom and bullheaded Sergeant Sam Woods (Warren Oates) arrests Tibbs under suspicion and brings him to initially obstinate and chewing gum-obsessed Police chief Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger). Upon discovery of Tibbs’ profession as well as the deceased’s wife insistence on his involvement in the investigation, Gillespie reluctantly agrees to work with Tibbs. By all accounts in the world of Sparta, Tibbs should not be in his current social position due to his race. He therefore faces an uphill battle of discrimination, resistance, and disbelief in his pursuance of the truth.

This film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor. Rod Steiger was very deserving of his award. His discomfort and inner turmoil surrounding the discriminatory overtones in his community and simultaneous increasing respect for Tibbs created a very raw and tangible performance. However, I strongly feel that Sidney Poitier’s performance warranted a nomination. This role helped to propel him as a pioneer for many African-American actors. His depiction a highly dignified, poised, and determined character with an esteemed career at the heights of the Civil Rights Movement was unprecedented.

Overall, I believe that the production and the fruition of this film required a great deal of bravery and dedication. Every element of this film, including the leader actors’ execution of their roles, created a perfect synergy. The importance of humility and knowledge acquisition in a work environment was one message that was effectively conveyed without a doubt. Furthermore, I feel that the necessity of universal respect and love towards all was the most significant theme of the film as well as its core. We are all inhabitants of this huge planet. Therefore, we must all honour others’ abilities, rights, and views to effectively work together in forging a wholly inclusive and productive global society.

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I do not own the above image.

This post is a part of the 90 Years of Sidney Poitier Blogathon hosted by Virginie Pronovost of The Wonderful World of Cinema in celebration of his 90th birthday on Monday!

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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

Individuals experience and express a vast range of emotions when faced with challenging life circumstances. Frustration, anger, hope, and determination are among said sentiments. Some may also avoid facing life-altering fears and encounters, later regretting their evasion. However, the course of life events may swerve such that our approach to opposition is tested and there is no option but perseverance. “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is a powerfully constructed Academy Award-nominated French film directed by Julian Schnabel, delving into these ideas. The true story of the film is in itself quite remarkable, but the methods of its conveyance are equally incredible.

Jean-Dominique Bauby (played by Mathieu Amalric) was the very successful editor of the French ELLE magazine, and also has three children. He suffered a very severe stroke affecting his brainstem at the young age of 42, resulting in locked-in syndrome. Bauby could clearly understand every word spoken to him. However, he was unable to communicate verbally and was also completely paralyzed. The extremely strong-willed speech language pathologist Henriette Durand (Marie-Josee Croze) used a French language frequency-ordered alphabet to encourage communication with Bauby, as he would blink with his left eye to verify specific letters to be used to create words and sentences. It was with great resolve and fortitude that he decided to fulfill his contract with a local publisher. This process was thus initiated with the aid of patient stenographer Claude Mendibil (Anne Consigny).

This film was unfortunately ineligible for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in 2008 due its production by the American Kennedy-Marshall Company. It was nominated for four awards however, including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay (Ronald Harwood), Best Film Editing (Juliette Welfling), and Best Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski). These were all very deserving, in my opinion. Bauby’s first person perspective and narrative are imperative in empathizing with him in his dire situation. This also allows us to appreciate the imagination and memories that he dearly cherishes, as we all must cling to these as a means of identity preservation. The interweaving of the past and present combined with beautiful and sometimes harsh images of nature enhance the storytelling, creating a contrast between the joys and sorrows of daily life.

As briefly mentioned in the previous paragraph, the beauty and bleakness of existence are frequently discussed in the film. The title of the film alludes to this as well. The images and references of a diving bell represents the sensation of confinement that is a part of Bauby’s new reality. However, the butterfly images and references signify positivity, hope, and perseverance within this entrapment. Other characters express former and current sentiments of captivity to Bauby as a means of boosting his coping skills and outlook. Overall, I believe that humans feel a variety of restrictions in self-expression. For example, one character in the film was once held hostage while another’s mobility was highly limited and thus could not leave their apartment. As stated in the film, maintaining one’s sense of humanity and integrity through these situations provides great motivation and a will to live. I feel that this ideology rings true to so many challenging situations we face, and that tenacity is achieved through this core belief.

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I do not own the above image.

This movie review is part of the “31 Days of Oscar” Blogathon hosted by Aurora of Once Upon A Screen…, Kellee of Outspoken and Freckled, and Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club. I am very excited to take part in this blogathon, and look forward to reading a wide variety of interesting posts!

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First Mystery Blogger Award!

I am very excited to have been nominated by Catherine of Thoughts All Sorts for the Mystery Blogger Award! This award was created by Okoto Enigma. Being new to the blogging game, I am very honoured to be nominated for this and to discover the supportive blogging community!

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So the following are the rules:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

The next part is sharing with you three things about myself:

  1. I collect Funko Pop Vinyl Dolls. I started in 2015 with Jesse Pinkman and The Crystal Ship, and that collection has grown to 75 I believe. I usually purchase Pops from TV shows or movies that I love. For example, I just HAD to purchase a Pop of Holly Golighty 🙂

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2. As a Newfoundlander and Labradorian, fish is naturally a part of my diet. One dish I particularly love is cod tongues! Ok, it may not sound all that appealing, but it is super tasty fried in a light batter and also served with scruncheons sometimes (fat pork). We have an interesting cuisine to say the least. A deadly scoff, sure!

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3. I also love owls. I have owl scarves, an owl lamp, owl earrings, owl doorstops, etc. I think all of that came from watching the most amazing TV show in the world, “Twin Peaks”. As mentioned in the show, “the owls are not what they seem”.

And now for answering the five questions asked by the nominator!

  1. What do you prefer…the smell of freshly baked bread or freshly mowed grass/lawn?Freshly baked bread! Brings back so many good memories of my grandmother baking yummy bread when I was much younger.

2. If you could delve into the life of one book and live it as if you were a character in it (not necessarily the main one)…i.e. if the world of a book could be visited, which book would it be? (Ahhh…I can “see” this so clearly in my mind…hard to explain)? This is a difficult question. After some thought, I would have to pick “Little Women”. That was my favourite book to repeatedly read growing up. I always admired the sisters for their various strengths as well as their close bond. I especially thought Jo was so wonderful for her free spirit and independent thinking. 

3. Are you a good cuppa tea or perfectly brewed coffee person? Definitely a good cuppa tea person! I limit myself to 3 cups per day maximum. 

4. Most unusual food you have eaten (by your standards)? I don’t consider myself to be that adventurous with food given what I am used to eating. I grew up eating moose, caribou, grouse/ptarmigan, etc. I did try rabbit once though so that would probably be an unusual food for me.

5. Silly/weird question: Take your current state of mind – if you had to pick a piece of music to represent where you are right now…what would it be? I am kind of in a place of transition in terms of careers, so I would have to pick “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots.

 

It is difficult to pick a “best post” because the content of each movie is so different. However, I think I will pick Bigger Than Life (1956). The subject matter of the movie and its portrayal was very moving for me, and it was very rewarding writing about this great film.

 

Here are the five questions I will ask people I nominate to answer. They are not very creative questions, but here they are:

  1. What is one place on Earth you would like to visit but have not yet had the chance?
  2. What is your favourite Academy Award Best Picture winner (I know, tough).
  3. What is one hairstyle you would like to try?
  4. What is one project or new hobby you would like to start?
  5. What is your favourite song?

So now I will choose some people and their blogs to nominate for this award! The people I am selecting are some of many who I have had the pleasure of interacting with since I started my blog in November. I hope you’ll accept and I look forward to hearing your answers!

Keith & The Movies

Silver Screenings

Make Mine Criterion!

No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen

Caffeinated Ramblings

The Old Hollywood Garden

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wolffian classics movies digest

Once Upon A Screen…

Cinema Parrot Disco

Silent-ology

Jess & Jana

 

 

 

 

Fargo (1996)

Individuals’ actions are driven by motives under a multitude of circumstances. Some are propelled by altruism, fame, loyalty, or an incessant desire with underlying greed. To achieve a perceived selfish need, others’ well-being and safety may even be compromised. Greed often breaks the trust of those presumptively held close, destroying relationships and potentially leading to the greatest depths of isolation. The incredible 1996 film “Fargo” directed by the Coen Brothers explores this premise to significant extremes. The initial betrayal and slimy deal setting the film’s plot in motion takes place in the dead of winter in the title city – Fargo, North Dakota.

The pathetic character Jerry Lundegaard (Academy Award nominated William H. Macy) works at a Minneapolis Oldsmobile dealership owned by his wealthy father-in-law, Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnall). Jerry has embezzled $320,000 and is in some trouble, to say the least. In a not-so brilliant idea, he orchestrates the kidnapping of his wife (Kristin Rudrud) to extort money from his father-in-law. He has hired the nearly silent sociopath Gaear Grismsrund (Peter Stormare) and the “funny lookin’ fella” Carl Showalter (one of my favourites, Steve Buscemi) to carry out the task. This seemingly straightforward kidnapping dismantles and becomes extremely complex. In steps the likeable and pregnant Police Chief Marge Gunderson (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand), stringing the pieces of the complicated, plot-twisting kidnapping puzzle together.

This film combines so many crucial yet distinct elements to create a perfectly balanced work of art. The minor key folk music sets a sombre tone, and the setting of the film in a harsh winter climate serves to enhance that tone. The vast distance and sense of semi-isolation can create frustration in terms of resources needed to solve such a convoluted case. As well, violent crimes are not habitual in rural areas.  This in addition to the portrayal of graphic violence heightens the shock factor of the film, reminding viewers of the unfortunate dark side of humanity. In spite of this, I feel that the positive side of human nature is quite evident in the film. Many of the characters are decent individuals, living their lives and wanting to help the police solve heinous crimes. The distinct accents, conversational yet memorable dialogue (Academy Award-winning screenplay), and the raw environment elevates the film’s timelessness. Without giving away any spoilers, the ending creates a sense of normalcy and hope. I feel that the message conveyed indicates that most humans at their core are driven by altruism, loyalty, and a sense of decency.

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Podcast – Trinity Topics!

Hi to all! So I know all of my posts are usually about a specific movie, but I guess I am treading off of my own beaten path. I am very excited to share my interview with the awesome Jeff March and Emily Mayne on their weekly local podcast “Trinity Topics” featuring people promoting events, entertainment, or discussing issues from the Trinity Bay area of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I am at the 13:00 mark talking about my blog and my next-door neighbour Emily George is at the 28:35 mark talking about her YouTube channel. I had a total brainfart and forgot the director of “Random Harvest” (who is Mervyn LeRoy) so I apologize for that. I was afraid I was rambling too much, but I just love talking about classic film! Anyways, please listen and enjoy!

Charlene

Also, here is Emily’s YouTube channel below. She sings some awesome covers 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/user/EmilyGmusic061