Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts

Monday, January 18, 2021

Once Upon A Time in La La Land

Recently we watched two movies, La La Land, and Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood.

I heard rave reviews about both.

I disliked both movies. My husband didn't like them either. There was nothing of substance in either one.  We kept looking at each other and then asking, "What are we missing?"

Sometimes the question was, "Do you have any idea what is going on in this movie?"

Movies are not of great interest to me, so I do not consider myself a movie critic. But honestly, shouldn't there be a plot? Character development? A message? Something to make me not want back the 2.75 hours I spent watching the show?

Sometimes I see a bad movie or read a bad book, and wonder what on earth were they thinking?

Beats me.

If you liked these movies and care to explain why, have at it. I'm always up for learning something.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sunday Stealing: Movies

Sunday Stealing

1. Last movie you watched: Green Book

2. Last movie you watched in a theater: Wonder Woman

3. Film you’ve always wanted to watch, but haven’t: Crazy Rich Asians

4. Favorite movie soundtrack: Forrest Gump

5. Your favorite movie duo: Aragorn and Legolas from The Lord of the Rings. (What, you thought I'd say Batman and Robin?)

6. Movie you like because of its story: Under the Tuscan Sun

7. A film that disappointed you: The Hobbit. It was nowhere near as good as The Lord of the Rings.

8. Favorite scene from a movie: The ending of The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, when Aragorn, now king of Gondor, tells the Hobbits, "My friends, you bow to no one," and he bows down to them, as does the rest of the people there. I always cry at that scene, even though I've seen it at least 20 times.

9. Your guilty pleasure movie: Dirty Dancing.

10. A movie you keep going back to: Steel Magnolias.

11. A quote you admire from your favorite movie: "It is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of love and kindness." - Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings.

12. A movie based on a true story: Green Book.

13. Your favorite actor/actress: I don't really have one.

14. A sequel you’re not a fan of: I thought the last Shrek movie was poorly done.

15. A film you know by heart: The Lord of the Rings (all 12+ hours of it).

16. Your favorite opening scene: I can't think of one.

17. A film that was based on a book and was executed well: The Lord of the Rings.

18. A comedy film: Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

19. TV series you’re binging on now: Stargirl.

20. A TV series you think is underrated: Supergirl. Up until this last season, when it became a bit convoluted, it has had very good writing.

I encourage you to visit other participants in Sunday Stealing posts and leave a comment. Cheers to all us thieves who love memes, however we come by them. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Movie Nights

We recently watched the Downton Abby movie and Tolkien.

I liked them both, but I think I liked Downton Abby best.

The Downton movie was rather plotless - basically the entire plot revolved around a visit from the king and queen - but it was fun to revisit the characters. The coup by the staff to keep the royal staff from taking over Downton was cute and clever. But good theater? Not really. Just entertaining.

The Tolkien movie, from what I understand, was not sanctioned by the family of the famous writer. This movie delves into Tolkien's early years and uses metaphors from his writings to imply that the legends of Middle Earth were, at least in part, Tolkien's way of getting World War I and his early orphaned state out of his system. I have no problem with this; I do not believe a writer can be entirely separated from his or her work, no matter the subject. I have seen this argued both ways in many different forums.

Since I have read a biography or two or three about Tolkien, I knew what to expect. I think the theatric choices were reasonable.

For some reason, the Tolkien movie reminded me of the Dead Poet's Society. I think it was the young men's grouping that brought that about. I wonder if there are young men today who sit around and talk about the classics, look into literature, and discuss the values of Henry James or D. H. Lawrence. I rather doubt it; we're all too busy looking at our phones now to have much discussion.

At any rate, these movies were both set in England, which was about they only thing the two had in common.

We enjoyed them and they certainly were better than watching another round of Bitchin' Rides. (If I never see another car show I will be fine with that.)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Here there be spoilers, so if you are one of the last people to see this movie, and you don't want to be "spoiled," you've been warned!


We went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi a week ago. We went to the Valley View theater, and the sound was LOUD. Deafening, even. That in and of itself was enough to spoil the movie for us, as we both came out of the theater with a massive headache.

Otherwise, the accommodations were fine. But I do hope my next movie IS NOT SO LOUD.

Star Wars is one of those things that I have mixed feelings about. I loved the original first three movies (now called movies IV, V, and VI). I saw them in the theater and was fascinated by the CGI, the story line, and the world. What was there not to like, aside from the minor role of women in the thing. At least there was Princess Leia, who was not a Disney princess by any stretch of the imagination.

I did not see the next three (now I, II, and III) in the movie theater. I eventually saw them on TV and agreed with critics that they were not on par with the original movies. It is hard to mess with perfection, after all.

Star Wars returned two years ago with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We saw that and I enjoyed it. I liked the addition of the new characters and was particularly glad that the newest Jedi was a young woman. Girl power! I did not like the new Darth Vader or his parentage, and the fact that he could kill off his father was too pat (and too circular, since the original Vader was Luke Skywalker's dad). The character was not Darth Vader material, in my opinion. (He still isn't.)

With Carrie Fisher's death, this last Star Wars took on a poignancy that the film wasn't meant to have. We knew that this was Fisher's last appearance in the films, so I was keen to see how her character developed and what they did with her. I was pleased that she didn't die in the film, but the changing of the guard was apparent. Princess Leia is old and while still fighting the good fight, it is time for younger faces to take over.

I was terribly unimpressed with the writing regarding Luke Skywalker. I was not pleased that he was portrayed as a madman, more or less. I do not believe that he would have done what the film said he did and ultimately "create" the new Darth Vader by sending Solo's son over the dark side. His refusal to deal with Rey upon her arrival was frustrating and went on too long.

In the end, he died a hero's death, though a long distance one. Still, it was a good death and he remained on the side of the light.

The Resistance lives on to fight the fight as evidenced in the last scene, when a young boy looks to the sky and then at a ring on his finger that has the Resistance logo. (Do they hand those out in Cracker Jacks throughout the galaxy or something?) As long as there are underdogs, there will be a Resistance.

Now the story passes to a new generation. I will not go see any more Star Wars movies in the theater, no matter how much I may like Rey. She was unimpressive in this last film, for one thing, and for another, I feel like the series has become nothing more than a cash cow for Disney. They will milk it for all it's worth but it was obvious that the mythology and lore is not being embraced in these new films. I am sure I will watch them when they are on the small screen, but that's it.

I went to this last film mostly to see how the writers ended the lives of the main characters. It is fitting that Leia be the last one of the original group still standing (along with Chewbacca - but maybe Wookies live forever), but I did not find the movie inspiring and thought it fell short of a goal of good storytelling as well as movie canon. But it is what it is and no one consulted me.

Doesn't mean I can't have an opinion, though.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Seeing Wonder Woman and the Meaning of Superhero

I do not go to the movies often. The last movie my husband and I saw at the theater was Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which showed in 2015. The last movie I saw alone was Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 which showed in 2004.

But I really wanted to see Wonder Woman. Like I said yesterday in my Thursday Thirteen post, I have always had a thing for strong female heroines. And by "strong" I mean a female character that embodies womanly strength (which I consider to be more pacifistic, circular, and loving instincts) and who is still able to take care of herself without needing intervention from the patriarchy.

In my little band of friends, I seem to be the only fantasy aficionado. If there are others, they haven't spoken up. My brother shares my proclivity for the genre, but we can barely get together for a phone call, much less a movie. My husband watches these movies with me and I think he enjoys them but he doesn't watch them on his own. For example, he can repeat lines from Lord of the Rings because he's walked in to find me watching it 100 times, but it is not a movie he seeks out himself.

Going out by myself has become difficult for me, as a few  of my close friends (and my physical therapist) know. Other people may not realize it, but trying to climb stairs and walk up hills or go any distance on the slightest bit of uneven ground is painful and trying. The movie theater has stairs and no elevator if you want to sit in the middle or up high and not right on top of the screen.

Despite this, I gathered my courage and went alone to the theater. My husband had to work at the fire station today. He has hay down that he will need to work on tomorrow, and another large field that needs to be cut. We are weaning calves. He has a septic tank to install. I have no idea when he might have a free hour, much less time to go to a movie. 

Anyway, I made it to the theater early so I would have plenty of time to settle in. I slowly and carefully walked up 30 stairs to get to where I wanted to sit, which was just above the midpoint of the theater seats. I am paying for it now with a lot of pain but that is okay.

Truly, the stairs were difficult and I ended up asking someone at the theater to help me because I couldn't carry popcorn, a drink, a back support I need because the chairs at the theater are absolutely terrible if you have back problems, and use a cane. I was grateful a theater person helped me. Thumbs up to the theater for having someone available to do that.

After I settled in, I found myself cringing a bit because at the early matinee there were more men there than I anticipated. Just men, in singles and in pairs, and more of them than women. I saw a few fathers with daughters, a few couples, and one or two other people there by themselves. The theater was by no means full; it was maybe one-third filled which apparently is typical for that time of day. Anyway, the abundance of men unsettled me. I wasn't expecting that.

I forgot some of my anxiety when the movie started. It was an amazing film. The picture was better than Star Wars: The Force Awakens by the length of a Death Star ray and then some.

Wonder Woman was full of fun, mischief, and heart. It was cinematic in scope with beautiful scenery and an attention to detail I haven't seen in a movie in a while. Gal Gadot is a good actress and she made a beautiful, enthralling, adorable, and entirely believable character come to life. Chris Pine portrayed a credible Steve Trevor, and I liked the little cadre of assistance Trevor put together to help Diana Prince and himself infiltrate the place where the queen of poison and Ares in the guise of someone else was hiding. I won't spoil anything else; all of that information is available in the movie trailers.

I do urge you to see this movie if you have any interest in coming of age stories, in stories about overcoming the dearth of bad in the hearts of mankind, and in seeing something that offers lessons about humanity, goodness overcoming darkness, and love (not romantic love, but love of humanity).

But truly the most amazing thing, for me personally, happened after the movie. I sat while most everyone left, because I knew it was going to take me a while to get back down the stairs. I tried to catch the eye of the clean-up guy so he could carry my trash for me, but to no avail. So finally I stood and then eased myself carefully down the steps, one at a time - slowly, slowly. I reached the bottom, where a trash can had been placed, and tossed my trash.

I turned toward the door and there, with the light behind him creating a silhouette as he strode down the dark hallway towards me, was my husband in his firefighter's uniform, looking for all the world like a slightly portly superhero in a movie, heading toward a damsel in distress to rescue her.

He had come in with no ticket near the end, to be sure I was okay and able to get out to the car. My hero.

It was extra-special to have him make that small effort because today was his birthday and he was at work. I had thought I might drive to the firehouse to surprise him but instead he surprised me. He helped me to the restroom (the movie is 2.5 hours so don't drink during it), and then out to the car.

We had a long kiss goodbye and he sent me on my way. I shall have to find a superhero name for him, my man with the special power of love.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Influence of Mary Poppins

Saturday night we watched Mary Poppins on TV, mostly because I did not recall ever having seen it before. I probably did when I was young, but I had no memory of it.

The first thing that came to mind was Harry Potter. Here we had wizards (Mary Poppin and the chimney sweep dude) and muggles (the parental units and the hired help).

The next thing that came to mind was Nanny McPhee. Obviously both of those stories were influence to some extent by Mary Poppins.

I could write a good paper comparing those two items with Mary Poppins, I suspect. Throw in the history of witches and warlocks, good and bad, parenting versus actually raising a child, and one could write an entire book about this movie with comparison to today's literature.

Not sure I could manage to match it with Tolkien, though. I would have to give that one some thought.

Mary Poppins, in case like me you were not aware, sat amongst the clouds waiting for the winds to blow. She magically appeared to become a nanny to two mischievous children (though their mischief was mild compared to today) and to retrain the family. Doesn't that sound like Nanny McPhee?

The chimney sweep, Bert, played by Dick Van Dyke, performed all kinds of feats and was rather a jack-of-all-trades sort of fellow, for he also was a one-man band and served as a sort of narrator to the audience.

Later in the film there was something about laughing and how it kept your feet from the floor, which seemed a rather good lesson for these trying times.

I knew most of the songs but I think that came from having the album or perhaps a toy jukebox I once had that played many Disney tunes. And then there was that wonderful word: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It means "exceptional" or "wonderful" but also, according to Wikipedia, "Atoning for educability through delicate beauty."

That in and of itself probably requires explaining, and looking at that particular definition gives me a headache! Dum diddle diddle!

Julie Andrews did not look at all like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, for Mary Poppins (she goes by her entire name all the time) has black hair and the change in features is magical, truly. I had no idea Dick Van Dyke was so talented, either.

The film was produced in 1964 and is loosely based on a book series, Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers (something I shall have to add to my reading list, I suppose).

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Movie Talk

Do you like movies about:

time travel? I enjoyed Planet of the Apes movies when I was young (time travel in those - the Earth in future times, governed by apes with man as captive and slave). I also liked all of the Back to the Future movies, so I suppose I do like them, if they are well done and not overly graphic.

the 80's? Not about the '80s, really, but made then: Raiders of the Lost Ark and Ghostbusters, for example. Not really a fan of the brat pack movies.

drugs? Not particularly.

crazy people? Not particularly.

hallucinations? Not particularly.

airplanes? Not particularly.

death? Not particularly.

life? Aren't most of them about life, in some fashion or another?

the meaning of life? That can be derived from many movies and genres. Too vague a question.

fate? Also vague.

I like fantasy movies that end well, or at least, satisfactorily. I like movies with magic in them, movies that are well acted, and movies that make me feel something. Some of my favorites are The Lord of the Rings (all three of them, and no surprise to anyone who has read this blog much), The Harry Potter movies (a few more than others, but they need to be taken as a whole), an older movie called LadyHawke (features Michelle Pfiefer and Matthew Broderick); and of course, The Wizard of Oz.

And Star Wars. We cannot forget Star Wars. Or E.T.

Other movies that may not be considered fantasy but actually are include Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Little Mermaid, Shrek, and Beauty and the Beast. Many Disney movies are fantasies - Sleeping Beauty, anyone?

Chick flicks (I think that's what they call them) also appeal to me. I like Dirty Dancing, Under the Tuscan Sun, Romancing the Stone, The Rose, etc. I also enjoyed Secretariat and the Sherlock Holmes movies with Rob Lowe in them.

My movie education is pretty bereft, actually. I need to watch old movies and catch up, but I have never been one to watch movies. For one thing, my husband is a terrible "flipper" with the remote and if I don't catch something from its very beginning, I refuse to start in the middle and try to catch up.
This would be a better question for my husband, I expect, who does watch more TV than I and enjoys watching movies (regardless of whether he sees the beginning or the end).

Monday, September 21, 2015

Wild - The Movie

Wild, a movie based on a 2012 book by the same name by Cheryl Strayed, was released in 2014. It played on HBO recently.

My book club read the book in 2013 (review at the link). I was ambivalent about the book, and when I heard that it would become a movie, I wondered how the filmmakers would manage that. The book was heavy and portrayed the heroine, such as she was, as rather ignorant. Nor was she someone to admire, even if she did hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Just because somebody takes a long walk doesn't mean they deserve admiration.

Reese Witherspoon starred as Cheryl. She did a nice job of portraying the character, though I confess when I looked the movie up I was surprised to learn she received an Academy Award nomination for the role. Laura Dern, who played Cheryl's mother, also received a nomination. I don't watch a lot of movies so maybe the standards are different now.

During this long hike, Cheryl reflects upon her mother's death. Her mother loved her, but her father was an alcoholic and mean, which can take a toll on a sensitive child. The reflective parts in the movie showed how this tortured past lead Cheryl astray (pun intended), probably better than the book did. The book spent a lot of time reflecting on her mother's death instead of earlier childhood demons. I was glad the movie reversed that.

It is hard to write a book that is reflective and which focuses on a single character to the exclusion of all else. It is hard to do a movie like that, too. The only one I can recall seeing that was successful in recent years is Castaway, with Tom Hanks. And even he had to invent a character with a volley ball to make some dialogue happen.

This is not a movie I would watch again. The acting was fine and the story didn't drag, but I guess I like my heroines to be a bit more, I don't know, loveable.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

You may not want to read this if you've not see the movie, though I will try not to give away anything. This is mostly my impression of the movie and the series as a whole.


Yesterday we ventured out to see the final movie in Peter Jackson's vision of Tolien's tale, The Hobbit. The Hobbit is a prequel to Lord of the Rings, and as prequels frequently do, the movies raised a lot of questions, including the main one: if the elves and Gandalf knew 60 years prior to Lord of the Rings that Sauron had returned, why did it take so long for them to do something about it?

That question is not answered in its entirety in the theater release, so don't expect resolution. I have been buying the extended versions of The Hobbit, which includes more film footage and a story line not even included in the theatrical release, so perhaps the query will be better answered there. But I will have to wait until next fall sometime to learn it.

In my opinion, this last movie was the weakest of the six movies, which is a pity. One should not end something so wonderful as this series of movies on the lowest note. I never thought stretching The Hobbit out into three movies was a good idea because there simply wasn't enough material there. I liked Jackson's additions, as far as they went, but he either needed to veer away more from the book or simply have two movies.

Do not think I was disappointed in the movie. I was not. But  As movies go it was better than most, but I would rate it last of the six. I rank the movies (as movies) like this: The Return of the King, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Two Towers, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. They should be watched in order, though, and taken as a whole.

One of the things that bothered me was the change in CGI and computer effects. They are better in The Hobbit, of course, than they were in Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings was filmed 12 years ago, and the technology has changed. That being said, I would have preferred The Hobbit to have been filmed in the older technology. I think that certain CGI characters should have looked like they did in the older films. The nine ring wraiths, for example, should have looked the same as they did in Lord of the Rings. And the Eye should have looked as it did in the first movies, except perhaps less. If the Eye was at full strength in Lord of the Rings, then it should have been weaker-looking, not stronger-looking, in The Hobbit.

These are, of course, picky little things, things that a geek like myself would notice. I doubt most of the theater-going public pay that much attention. I daresay they don't watch The Lord of the Rings movies two or three times a year, as I do.

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies was a weak movie because of lack of character development. There was precious little of it, even though the movie moved along very quickly for 2.5 hours. Aside from Thorin and Galadriel, character development was minimal. Blood, at least, was kept to a minimum even though there are a lot of deaths. There wasn't even much plot, to be honest. It was just a big battle, so it was aptly named.

This is not a stand-alone movie. Anyone who sees this movie who has never seen the others will be completely lost. They will wonder what the draw is and why people love the story as a whole.

As with books, I am not much on stories that depend on things that preceded them to make them whole. A story that depends solely upon familiarity with preceding books or movies to move it along seems to me to be poorly told.

I cried at the end of this movie as I bid farewell to these much-loved characters and this series of movies. The Lord of the Rings has touched me in a way nothing else I've watched ever has. Though the books as a whole are irritating to me because of the lack of women in the stories, as allegory and commentary on humanity and society, they are difficult to beat. And Jackson, to his credit, did add some women into the stories to help offset the total maleness of Tolkien's books.

So I bid my farewell to Gandalf and Bilbo, to Frodo and Sam. I kiss the cheeks of Galadriel, Arwen, and Eowyn. I will revisit you on the small screen in my annual forays, and I will see you all in my dreams.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

In Baby's Corner

Though I have lived in this area all of my life, I had never once been to Mountain Lake in Giles County. This is the spot where parts of the iconic movie, Dirty Dancing, was filmed. It's one of my favorite movies.

Sunday we went for a little drive and this is where we ended up:

This little building is a museum dedicated to the movie.
It was mostly photos on the wall, but I loved every one of them.
Everybody knows what that means!
Jennifer Grey was very good in this movie.
There was a lot of glare in the museum, so it was hard to get good photos.
I liked this wall about the cast.
Jennifer Grey, aka "Baby"
I think this was my favorite.
That dance scene on the log was a classic!
We made a donation. Regular readers will remember my mother died of pancreatic cancer, too, as did my husband's aunt. The Patrick Swayze Pancreas Research Fund has been established at Stanford University. You can make a donation online if you're so inclined. Or mail one in. Pancreatic cancer is one of the leading types of cancer deaths, yet is it among the least funded as far as research. Thousands die each year from this particularly grueling disease.
This movie will always have a special place in my heart. It makes me smile and it lifts my heart with the song and dance.
Nobody, but nobody, puts Baby in the corner!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dark Shadows

In the early 1970s, I watched a soap opera called Dark Shadows. It featured Barnabas Collins as a vampire who watched over his manor. He was in love with the governess, Victoria Winters.

The show also had werewolves, witches, and other supernatural creatures. It ran for five years on ABC, which was the only station we could receive at the time. It originally aired from 1966 to 1971, but I recall watching it when I was older. Maybe it had a reruns.

The show was campy and it didn't hesitate to cross cultures, history, and anything else. Some of the story lines borrowed heavily from classic books, such as Jane Eyre.

The show has a cult following even today. In 2012, Tim Burton made a movie based on the show.

We watched the movie the other night on TV. It starred Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins.

The movie received mixed reviews. The dark comedy, which was set in 1972, showed the characters I remembered best and stuck to the "why is Barnabas a vampire" storyline for the most part, summing up 5 years worth of soap opera in two hours.

The movie featured some nice lines, one big explosion, some blood, a few ghosts, and a werewolf. There were a few flashbacks but they were nicely done.

I did not care for the actress who played Victoria Winters. She played the part very much like a mannequin, and that was not the portrayal I expected since the entire show revolved around that character and Barnabas.

Victoria Winters was played by several different actresses on the TV show, and I am not sure which one I remember.

Dark Shadows falls into the genre of Gothic Romance. I have always liked that type of show and/or book. These stories have a little horror and a little romance; True Blood could be considered a Gothic of sorts, I suppose, based on those elements. Generally Gothics feature an orphaned young woman who is a governess or housekeeper or something in a mysterious old mansion. Someone - or something - is out to get her.

I used to love the Gothic Romances by Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and Barbara Michaels. At one time I thought I might like to write these types of books. The genre has fallen out of favor, though. It would be an interesting exercise to see what I might do with it now that I am older (and hopefully a wiser and better writer).

It is interesting that the genre has long held an appeal for me, and I wonder if it all started with Dark Shadows. Did I watch it when I was three years old, when the show first came on? I don't know. Maybe I did, and it stuck.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Hobbit

My husband and I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on the big screen Monday afternoon.

We saw the "regular" version of the film. There is also a 3D version and a fast film version (in 3D) but I have problems with migraines and early report indicated those films upset folks with those tendencies.

I am not a big fan of 3D anyway.

The film does not follow the book, as best I remember. I am currently re-reading The Hobbit, but am not very far into the book. However, I am fairly certain that a story thread that involves the Dwarf King and an orc is completely made up.

The basic premise is a hobbit goes on an adventure: he sets off with 12 dwarfs and a wizard to reclaim the home of the dwarfs from a dragon.

I don't want to spoil the film for anyone who has not seen it, so I will not say more about plot. I thought the characters were well done, though I would have liked a little more in-depth characterization of the many dwarfs.

Even in 2D, I could tell the film was shot with 3D in mind. There were many dizzying tumbles down into holes and things, and wild shots that I am sure look quite interesting in 3D. Even in 2D, though, the swoops of camera left me feeling a little ill.

I also found the film a little slow in places; I looked at my watch at least twice during the movie, something I never do during Lord of the Rings (even now on my 100th time or so watching of those films).

Still, if you are a fan of fantasy, or of Tolkien, or of Peter Jackson (film director), then this is definitely must-see. I will watch it again as soon as I can, but on the small screen, where the camera swoops perhaps won't make my tummy turn over.

Monday, September 24, 2012

One Thousand Words

Saturday night we watched a movie called One Thousand Words. It stars Eddie Murphy and if you haven't heard of it, don't worry. Most people haven't, I think.

Rotten Tomatoes heaped lots of bad reviews upon it. However, I liked it.

It's an enlightenment fantasy. Jack McCall (Murphy) is a fast-talking literary agent. He attempts to grab the book of the latest hot mystic, but he gets pricked by a special tree. The tree then appears at his house. Every time McCall says a word, a leaf falls from the tree. He soon realizes that he must choose his words carefully and that when the last leaf leaves the tree, both will die.

As a writer and a communicator, I enjoyed the story. In the end, the most important words - the ones that saved - were "I love you" and "I forgive you," with the last three being key. Forgiveness is hard to come by these days, and it is good to have a reminder of how important that truly is.

A thousand words is not very many. It's about four typed pages, single spaced. While that may seem like a lot if you're 13 and doing a Social Studies report (do they even still have Social Studies?), in a lifetime - in a day's time, really - it is nothing at all.

Words are sacred. That was the moral of the movie, something which seems to have slipped by many of the reviewers. This is the kind of movie we need more of, something with a strong message that points out right from wrong. Wrong: being a glib talker who cares only about money. Right: being a good father who is involved in his child's life.

Wrong: taking advantage of people. Right: taking care of your elderly mother.

Wrong: pretending to be what you're not. Right: forgiving someone who has wronged you.

Wrong: telling your wife/friend/lover that you love them all the time, but not backing it up with action. Right: saying I love you and meaning it, with thought and deed behind the words.

I loved seeing these good, strong messages on the screen. I loved being reminded that words are sacred, that our day-to-day use of them has power that should not be taken lightly.

"When words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain," said William Shakespeare, the greatest playwright ever. Now there was a guy who knew what he was talking about. It is why stories need editors, why articles have word limits, why some of the best writing is "short" writing.

"Words may show a man's wit, but actions his meaning," said Benjamin Franklin, one of the greatest spokesmen to ever come out of the United States.

In today's word of texting and telephone talking, when everyone is connected to their favorite device, scared to miss a word, are the things you're afraid of missing really worth that time and effort?

Doesn't that give you pause?

If you only had one thousand words, what do you think you'd say?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stephanie Plum Comes to Life

Sunday, for an early Valentine's Day, my husband took me to see the movie One for the Money.

He sort of wanted to see it, too. He has listened to enough of Janet Evanovich's books - I have heard almost all of them, as I listen to them in the car - to have a good feel for the characters. I think my hubby is a secret fan of the characters.

The show received terrible reviews, and while I wouldn't put the movie in the "really terrible" column, I certainly would not recommend that everyone rush out to see it. Especially at the cost of a theater ticket today. It is not the worst movie I've ever seen, but even Sex and the City 2 has this beat, and that was a pretty bad movie.

One for the Money stayed fairly true to the book, which I had to read this fall for my Detectives in Fiction class at Hollins University. So I was very familiar with the story the movie is based upon.

In this instance, the book is much better than the movie. That is often the case, though not always.

The basic story line? Stephanie Plum is an out-of-work lingerie sales girl. She goes to work for her cousin, Vinnie Plum, at his bail bond agency. She decides to bring in Joe Morelli, a former lover and a cop who has shot someone and then skipped out on his bail.

She is tutored in the fine art of bounty hunting by Ranger, a Latin man who knows how to handle a weapon.

In the film, Stephanie has this unnamed friend (or maybe she was supposed to be Stephanie's sister - she does have a sister in later books), whom we see only briefly. Stephanie calls her I think maybe three times. It is a rather odd device for the movie, and I'm not sure what it's purpose was, except for extra dialogue and explanation to the viewer. If you must resort to that to carry the script along, it is time for a rewrite.

The problem wasn't really the script, though. The problem was the total lack of chemistry of these actors between themselves and with the screen. You know how some actors just ooze personality across the air waves? There is none of that here.

Katherine Heigl looks as I might have envisioned Stephanie Plum, but that's about it. She is pretty wooden in her efforts to portray the spunky Stephanie.

The fellow playing Joe Morelli looks Irish, not Italian, and there was absolutely no chemistry between him and Heigl. None. Zip. Nada.

The guy playing Ranger did a little better in the hottie department, but still, I didn't feel the vibes between Stephanie and Ranger like I do in the books.

And Debbie Reynolds was completely miscast as Grandma Mazur.

I suspect many of Evanovich's fans will be disappointed with this rather ho-hum effort. The characters in the book are very rich in detail and personality, and there is much to be mined there. It's a shame that this first effort will prove such a disappointment.

However, I fully expect that One for the Money will become one of those that find a good home on the movie channels, where it will play endlessly and become a fan favorite simply through familiarity.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Coming! The Hobbit in 2012

I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan, so I have been anxiously awaiting the next movie: The Hobbit. This prequel to the first trilogy deals with how Bilbo Baggins obtained the One Ring.

I'm so excited. I have watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy many times; I can recite dialogue from it with ease. For Christmas, I asked for the Blue Ray extended 10th anniversary version that came out this year even though I don't own a Blue Ray player.

Yes, I'm a bit of a nerd.

If you somehow missed Lord of the Rings (and I know a few people who look at me like I'm a nut because they don't watch fantasy films so they haven't seen it), you really should watch it. Not for the magic but for the majesty and the themes of brotherhood and redemption. And for the great cinema.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Thursday Thirteen

Today it's all about the Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. We saw the movie on Sunday and here are a few of my thoughts on it. There are probably spoilers but if you're read the book you already know how it ends anyway.

1. The movie is incredibly dark, not just in content but also in the cinematography. Dark colors, night, little light. Everything is rather drab.

2. Emma Watson (Hermione) needs to put on a little weight. I thought she looked a little thin and a little tired. But she acts the part exceptionally well and I believed her character more so than the lead one (Mr. Potter).

3. The special effects in the movie are well done, but nothing really stands out in my mind.

4. The movie adheres to the book in plot line, more or less, but does not adhere to the book in details.

5. In general, the book is better than the movie in my humble opinion, and that is not always the case with me. Sometimes the movies are better but I don't think that is the case this time.

6. I am not a fan of horror movie camera work (you know, where the people are running and scrambling and the camera is following along and it looks like it's falling off a cliff or something and you can't half tell what is going on) and there is a good bit of that in this film.

7. Helena Bonham Carter does a fantastic job as Bella LeStrange. Totally believable and wicked cool. I think she was my favorite in this particular film.

8. Daniel Radcliff has grown into a young man but I had trouble believing that Harry Potter was only 18 as he comes across older than that in the film.

9. I'm not a big Ron Weasley fan but Rupert Grint was the right actor for the part. He does a fine job with the character.

10.  There wasn't enough of Snape in this film, but then there wasn't a lot of Snape in the book, either. Rather unfortunate, that.

11. Ralph Fiennes is an excellent Vlodemort and he plays the character with much finesse and sophistication, which is exactly how I pictured him as I read the book.

12. Evanna Lynch plays a perfect Luna, wide-eyed and a little on the other side of the world. Excellent casting.

13. There is a lot of symbolism in the movie, mostly pertaining to Nazi Germany, fascism and other eye-brow raising forms of government. The torturing of Hermione is particularly painful to see at one point.

There you go. I give the film 3.5 stars out of 5. It's not a bad film but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone other than other Harry Potter fans.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here.  I've been playing for a while and this is my 167th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Review: Momma Mia

Momma Mia, with Glen Close - I mean Meryl Streep - has been playing on HBO.

I watched the movie in its entirety the night it debuted and I've seen pieces of it several times since then.

Some of the singing is off key. However it is a fun movie with a fairy tale ending. Kind of a modern Cinderella story with a twist, if you will.

The musical features songs by ABBA, and since they were one of my favorite bands growing up, I know every song. That is part of what makes this show so fun. Who hasn't heard those songs?

This is one of two movies I've seen this year that I think were made for sleep overs for women ages 40 and up. Not that I know of women who have sleepovers like that, but if we all did then this is one of the movies I'd offer up. The other is the Sex in the City movie.

The story line for Momma Mia goes like this: young girl on eve of wedding wants to know who her daddy is. She reads Mom's diary and decides it can be one of three guys, so she invites all three to the wedding. They arrive, Mom freaks. Young girl's beau is perturbed. Friends arrive to help out. Wedding day arrives, things don't go quite as planned, lovely happy ending.

This is my favorite part of the movie. It won't let you embed it. Click it and watch it, though.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Review: Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince


What a disappointment.

Of all of the Harry Potter movies, this one is the worst. If you are NOT a Potter aficionado, you will have trouble with this movie.

I consider myself to be a Potter fan of the minor sort, anyway, and I had trouble with it. It has been four years since I read the book upon which this movie is based and it’s been since the last movie was out that I watched any of the movies.

Suffice it to say, I’d forgotten a lot. So a little reminder as to who the characters were and why they mattered or why I should care would have been welcome. The movie instead felt like it simply dumped into the middle of something and good luck to you in trying to catch on.

It was also boring. I started looking at my watch about an hour into the movie.

The teen angst, while well done, I suppose, added nothing to the story. I certainly could have done without that in exchange for some reminders of who was whom.

Perhaps it was because I was anticipating the ending that I did not care for the rest of it. However, even Dumbledore’s death was anticlimactic in the movie.

I also recall that I did not care much for this book. It was not my favorite of the seven. That is not to say that I disliked it so much that I couldn’t read it, I just didn’t think that it held up in measure to the earlier volumes. And the upcoming Deathly Hollows seemed to me to be written with the screen in mind and it suffered for that.

A good movie should be a good movie unto itself, even if it is a series of movies, and this one fails that test. I am sure it will do well at the box office simply because of the name, but that alone does not make for a fine film.

This one was so bad that I likely won’t go see the remaining two at the theater. I may save my $10 and wait for them to come out on HBO.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grey Gardens

I watched an HBO production of Grey Gardens just over a week ago.

I am still haunted by this picture.

The true story of Jackie O's aunt and first cousin had eluded me. I never heard of the 1970s documentary and knew absolutely nothing about these people. I watched the film because I have always enjoyed Drew Barrymore's work, though I have on occasion wondered about her choice of film.

She was absolutely fantastic in this role. Scarily so, actually. This was acting at its finest. She played opposite Jessica Lange and they were an incredible team.

In the 1930s, these two ladies were used to wealth and servants and the good life.

Somewhere along the line, things went terribly wrong.

The movie did not really give an indication to me as to what happened. They feel upon misfortune and lost their money because Dad left the house and didn't give Mom any allimony. Perhaps the documentary makes it clearer, I don't know.

The filth the women lived in, complete with cats and racoons, troubled me greatly. Obviously they were both mentally ill, but that for me needed to be clearer in the movie. The movie almost made it seem as if they thought that picking up their own trash was beneath them. So they'd rather live in squalor. There wasn't enough focus on the reasons to suit me, I suppose.

Which is the scary part, isn't it? That it can just happen... one minute you're living the good life and the next you're eating cat food. Sometimes there aren't any reasons and that makes it all the more terrifying.

The mother, played by Jessica Lange, was overbearing and dominating. She had her daughter under her fist, and the younger Edie never stood a chance. Mother Dearest was a rather scary woman as Lange portrayed her. Her daughter Edie had lots of sympathy from me but after a while I wanted to shake her into action. Obviously she could not take action, though.

In some discussions of young Edie I have read online, there is talk of schizophrenia, etc., and I can accept that. For both of the women.

That's because there was something deficit in the souls of these characters. Something strangely amiss.

By the 1970s the two were living alone in a falling-down ramshackled mansion. The city wanted to condemn the place. Jackie O and her sister stepped in and fixed the home back up.

And then some fellows came along and made a documentary, which from what I've read was an eye-opener that brought some modest fame to the younger Edie, at any rate.

I am always disturbed when I learn of people living in poor conditions, for whatever reason. It happens with greater frequency than most folks realize. I would hazard a guess that in every neighborhood in the US there is at least one home that has someone in similar circumstances. It might not be visible from the outside, but inside ... what a disaster.

But I believe these people are doing the best they can. It just doesn't live up to societal standards.

There are lists of homes with city health officials where people like firefighters are told they should not enter the home. I have seen them.

I think I live in fear of becoming a person like this. Someone beyond eccentric.

Anyway, I haven't been able to shake Grey Gardens from my brain. I am hoping this post will knock it loose from my skull.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Last night I watched the Michael Moore documentary Sicko.

It made me cry.

I am not going to review it really; you can read a decent review at The Nation here if you want.

I am going to tell you why it made me cry.

The state of health care in this country is abysmal and I can't understand how we as a people can sit back and watch our neighbors lose their homes and everything they own simply because they are sick.

Do we think it isn't going to happen to us? Do we think we won't age and need care? Are we really that stupid?

I cried when I saw old ladies getting tossed from cabs into the streets. Kicked out by hospitals because they can't pay their bills. They were left in bare feet and in open hospital gowns, shuffling along looking for help.

It was enough to make me want to vomit.

I cried when I saw a 911 rescue worker learn she could receive an inhaler in Cuba for FIVE cents. The exact same thing cost her $120 in the USA.

I felt disgust at insurance agencies and at Congressional "leaders" who have let companies like the insurance and pharmaceutical industries run and ruin this country. This is not a democracy, not if we're letting the least of us suffer like this.

And don't tell me this is not the norm - I am in the health care system. I have my own horror stories. I've watched people I love suffer for lack of money. I watched my mother who had health insurance get sucked in and drowned beneath the cacophony of insurance calls and doctor bills. I watched the system fail her as well as her family as she was dying.

And I did the same with my grandmother and my great aunt.

Our health care sucks.

Statistically we should be alarmed that we're the 37th healthiest country. Or that our infant mortality rate is higher than that of some third world nations. Or that people in other countries live longer than we do.

Doesn't that scare you?

Supposedly this is the greatest and wealthiest nation. So why do people have to lose their homes? Or lose their jobs when they can't work? Why do people HAVE to work while they're taking chemo, when they should be home taking care of themselves?

I have never had a problem with "universal health care" or even socialist medicine. I'm already paying thousands to the insurance company; I doubt that it would take much more off the top for my share if I were paying it in taxes instead. Last year we spent $8000 in insurance costs; it's money out of my pocket anyway.

Since I am already out of that money, I would much rather give it to a system where you and you and my grandmother and my aunt and everyone else I know and love will be assured of some kind of care that doesn't leave them wandering the streets with an IV in their arm.

We are fools.