Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Owd Bob" with James Cromwell (1998)

We have all seen James Cromwell act in a score of movies. Sometimes you might not recognize him. He looks the same, but his thespian abilities sometimes make him unrecognizable to the audience. It’s called acting. Not the type you expect from Bogart, or even DeNiro; though both are fine actors. It’s just that they are almost always playing an extension of their own personalities. Not so with Mr. Cromwell.

In this touching story widower Adam MacAdam; played brilliantly by James Cromwell; finds himself with custody of his grandson, David. The boy is on a trial visit for the summer from America, where his parents were recently killed in a car crash.  MacAdam is skeptical of the whole idea, but agrees to it out of a sense of duty, rather than love for the boy, whom he has never met.

The old man raises sheep and sheepdogs. The dog’s job it is to keep the sheep moving and grazing, as well as protect them from any predators. The complication occurs when an unknown dog; believed to belong to old man MacAdam; begins killing sheep. Tradition; and local law; hold that when a dog kills a sheep the owner of the dog must “put him down.” But MacAdam insists that the culprit is not his dog Zac, and refuses to submit to putting him down.

David finds comfort in the company of a neighboring family; the Moores; who also raise sheep and dogs. Keith Moore; played by Colm Meaney; is the son of old man MacAdam’s biggest rival, and though the elder Moore is dead, old man MacAdam has never forgiven him and carries the grudge forward to the younger Moore. In addition, Owd Bob, the dog belonging to Moore, was sired by a dog that had killed sheep before and was put down. In the mind of old man MacAdam, Owd Bob is the likely culprit.

As David becomes close with the Moore’s daughter Maggie; played by Jemima Rooper; friction erupts between David and his grandfather. When her mother dies the two become even closer and David moves in with the Moore’s while he awaits assignment to a foster home. There is no way that the boy and his grandfather can ever bridge the divide caused by past events which occurred before David was even born. The old man is just too stubborn and bitter.

As the people on the island lose patience with the dog that is killing their sheep, they gather as a group and demand that Keith Moore put his dog down, thinking that the culprit is Owd Bob. David knows differently and tries to stop them, but they are all as stubborn as the old man; including Mr. Moore, who is even willing to put his own beloved dog down without looking too hard for the truth.

I will not tell you how this film ends; only that the end will have quite an impact upon you. This is a film which will make you think about all the times in your life that you may have been wrong and judged things too harshly, too soon. It is also a film about taking responsibility for those mistakes and healing broken bridges.

Beautifully filmed on the Isle of Man; tightly directed and well-acted by all; this is the film of which Mr. Cromwell should be the most proud. All of his other performances; as brilliant as they are; pale in comparison with the depth of emotion it must have taken to play this role. His performance here stands as a monument to his long and varied career.

Directed by Rodney Gibbons and written by Sharon Buckingham and Harry Alan Towers, this film has been delighting audiences since it was first released in 1998. It will undoubtedly stand the test of time.


Lakefront Restaurant at the Hilton Hotel

Sue and I had dinner at the Lakefront Restaurant last night. The restaurant is in the Hilton Hotel at J.M. Keynes Drive in the University area of Charlotte. Cody, our server, was delightful and accommodating in all respects.

I had the Sea Bass with capers and olives and sautéed Spinach. Sue had a Beef Tenderloin and we both shared an Arugula salad which was exceptionally well made.

There is a new Sous Chef, Mike Hancock, in the kitchen now. Cody bought him out to say hello so that we could compliment him on the cuisine.

Hotel restaurants don't always receive the credit they deserve. People take them for granted, figuring, "well I'm staying here so I may as well eat in the hotel."

Sue and I have eaten at the Lakefront before, but even we tend to forget about it often when we are wondering where to eat. And then when we do eat there we wonder why we don't do so more often.

With Mike in the kitchen; and Cody seeing to our comfort in the dining room; we will be back again sooner than later. Thanks Mike and Cody for a wonderful dining experience.

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