Friday, July 30, 2010

Jonah -- VeggieTales Movie -- 2002

a VeggieTales Movie

Rated G
My Rating: 4 Stars

Phil Vischer
Mike Nawrocki
Tim Hodge
Lisa Vischer
Shelby Vischer
Dan Anderson
Kristin Blegen
Jim Poole
Ron Smith

“Compassion runs very deep in my family. But not that deep.”

Bob the Tomato and his crew were on their way to a Twippo concert. Everyone in the back seats of the van were singing their hearts about “Billy McGruffrey” (a Twippo song) but the Bob isn't doing so well. He keeps getting almost hit with the guitar his 'navigator' is playing. When they finish the song, everyone exclaims how much they love Twippo songs and Laura Carrot pipes up about how she does too and not only that, she's the only one out of the entire group who gets to meet him because she won the Twippo Sweepstakes. She holds up her ticket gleefully and a sudden gust of air causes it to flutter from her grasp and out the window.

Just at this catastrophic moment, the guitar gets stuck in the steering wheel and a frantic Bob loses control of the vehicle. They end up with flat tires from a mama porcupine, get stuck in a clothesline and when that snaps, they smash into a stump. Everyone is fine (due to seatbelts and airbags) so they get out and look around. Just down the road is a restaurant and with hopes of finding a telephone and another ride, they all rush over.

While the grownups use the telephone, Laura starts bemoaning the loss of her ticket again. But Junior Asparagus tells her it's her own fault for flaunting it and she's only getting what she deserves. That's when the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything arrive on the screen... once again.

“We are the pirates who don't do anything
We just stay home and lie around...”

“You know, we call ourselves the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything but that's not entirely accurate.”
“Yeah, remember when we did that one thing with that one guy?”

It's from this one guy that The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything had learned a valuable lesson from and they were about to share that lesson with Junior... and anyone else who happened to show up... that compassion and mercy are for everyone.

“...our God is a God of second chances.”

What I Liked:
1: This is a Bible story told in a way that will appeal to many audiences.
2: The lesson was told in such a way that I was given a new perspective on a story I've known forever.
3: The humor.
4: The music... very cute.
5: Make sure and watch the bloopers on the Bonus Features... oh! And the Countertop extras.
6: How they ended on a sad note, just like the Bible story does.
7: Khalil. :-D “I'm a caterpillar. Well, that's only half the truth. My mother was a caterpillar and my father was a worm so that makes me...”

I do recommend this movie. :-) :-) :-) VeggieTales are so much fun.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Igor -- 2008


Rated PG for violence and some innuendo
My Rating: 4 Stars

John Cussack
John Cleese
Molly Shannon
Eddie Izzard
Jennifer Coolidge
Steve Buscemi
Sean Hayes
Jay Leno

“Do not yell at me.”

Once upon a time the land of Malaria had been a beautiful country of sunshine, mountains, bounteousness and wealthy people. But one day, the clouds came and covered the valley, destroying their crops and leaving the inhabitants destitute. Then, King Malbert had an idea: make evil inventions to blackmail the rest of the world with.

There are two classes of people in Malaria: the evil scientists who live in their castles rent free and Igors, their hunchbacked assistants who get their degrees in slurring and “Yes Master”-ing. They are taught to obey without question and not think.

But there is one Igor (John Cussack) who has always wanted to be an evil scientist. Because he was born with a hunch, anything besides being an Igor was out of the question but he dreams anyway and secretly invents. He has moderate success: a rabbit named Scamper (Steve Buscemi) whom he made immortal. And then there is Brain (Sean Hayes), who isn't one.

“Blind orphans get everything!”

Every year, there is an Evil Science Fair, in which all evil scientists enter their latest inventions. The invention that wins is used to blackmail the rest of the world. There is one evil scientist who has won every year: Dr. Schadenfreude (Eddie Izzard). With his success came his popularity with the people of Malaria and King Malbert gets worried that he will be ousted from the throne.

“Ironically, at an inch tall, you still have the biggest mouth in Malaria.”

One day, Igor's master, Dr. Glickenstein, blows himself up, leaving Igor and his two inventions to themselves. Just moments after his untimely expiration, the King arrives to talk to him. Igor tries to tell the King what happened but suddenly realizes that this might be his ticket to showing the world what he can really do in the world of inventions. He tells King Malbert that Dr. Glickenstein's invention is life.

And so, Igor's biggest, most evil invention is begun. Will it be a success?

“May I suggest... looking behind you!!! ...... It was just a suggestion.”

What I Liked:
1: The quality of this movie. Well done!
2: The humor. It's hilarious.
3: The storyline.
4: The twists. Totally kept me on the edge of my seat. :-)
5: They kept it fairly clean.
6: There is an edge on which movie producers/directors can topple from... too little and too much. They only over stepped a couple of times.
7: The romance. ;-) It was so cute.
8: The score. It ranges from very fun with a fifties sound, to lovely and dramatic... old movie sound with LotR mixed in. :-)

What I Didn't Like:
1: Jennifer Coolidge's character (s) was fairly seductive.
2: A little bit of language.
3: There were a couple of scenes that were bordering on colorful.

This is another hilarious film that I want to watch again... and again! :-) It's so well acted and the storyline flows very smoothly. Other than a couple of things, I would have given it a full 5 stars. :-)

“Uh... Canadians.”

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ice Princess -- 2005

Ice Princess

Rated G
My Rating: 4 Stars

Michelle Trachtenberg
Joan Cusack
Amy Stewart
Steve Ross
Hayden Panettiere
Kim Cattrall
Trevor Blumas
Kirsten Olson

“How do you know if you have a calling?”
“When you're brilliant teacher tells you so.”

When Casey's math teacher told her she had a gift in physics and that she should work on a project with a personal touch to prove it, she had no idea what to do. Then, one night, fate stretched out it's hand as  she was watching figure skating with her best friend, Ann. Physics is in everything. So why not use something she enjoyed watching?

Off to the Harwood Skating Club she went. At first, it was just for her project... then she realized how dry and impersonal her project was sounding. Mr. Bast had been specific: the project had to be personal. So, Casey decided to try her formulas on herself. It didn't take long before she realized that she not only enjoyed watching figure skating, she loved it.

But there was a problem: lessons take money, something Casey and her mom didn't have a lot of. That was fixable... Casey simply spent a lot of time working a job. There was another problem: Casey's mom had her heart set on college, Harvard to be specific, and college doesn't exactly include a career in figure skating.

In spite of these obstacles, Casey's gift is apparent to anyone who watches her. She manages to enter in the Regional Championships. It's there that she finds out the other side to skating. It's not all glitter. Now, Casey must step back and take a look at her priorities... and her heart. Does she have the guts it takes for skating? Or for that matter, anything besides being a physics geek?

What I Liked:
1: I could really relate to this story. I have said the same things as the characters did and had to make some of same kinds of difficult decisions.
2: No language.
3: The story was well acted, directed and flowed so smoothly.
4: Some of the score is just lovely. They had some solo/duet instruments... guitar, violin. Nice.
5: The humor. I liked that white flour pancakes comment. Lol! For those of you not raised in a health food home, you might not understand. But believe me, that line is right on.
6: How they show that life isn't worth much if you're unhappy... and sometimes, you have to climb mountains to follow your heart.
7: The romance. It was sweet.

What I Didn't Like:
1: On occasion, Michelle Tratchenberg didn't quite pull off the physics geek. (But at the scene of the party, she did and it was great after that. :-))
2: There were some very unrealistic things about the movie. How quickly the children progressed through the levels of figure skating, etc.

Things to Know:
1: Figure skating costumes aren't the most modest in the world. But keep in mind that it's fake skin. ;-)
2: Some rock 'n roll.
3: Casey and Gen both stand up to their mothers and pursue their dreams.
4: A kiss at the end...
5: Men in general are either generalized or not so nice.

Yes, I did like this film. And girls will probably like it. But guys won't. And your moms might not either. :-)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ghost Rider -- 2007

Ghost Rider

Rated PG-13 for horror and frightening images
My Rating: 3 Stars

Nicholas Cage
Pete Fonda
Sam Elliot
Eva Mendes
Wes Bentley

I rented this film because it has Nicholas Cage on it. But I must say that the best thing about this movie was Sam Elliot. :-)

Johnny Blaze (Matt Long/Nicholas Cage) and his father (Brett Cullen) were motorcycle stunt-men. They had been following and working in the carnival for years together, winning many awards for their stunts. Life was a one long adventure in one city after another; fiery hoops and glowing praise and  monotony. Then Johnny met Roxanne. She was the love of his life; there was no doubt.

The course of true love is rarely smooth: Roxy's father proclaimed that young motorcycle stuntman  wasn't good enough for his daughter and made plans to take her out of Johnny's life forever. But he didn't know his daughter's will. The couple made plans to elope and would have gone through with it... if something hadn't happened first.

Johnny discovers that his father, the invincible Barton Blaze, has cancer... in fact, is dying. Johnny realizes suddenly how much his father means to him and as he angrily works his grief out on his bike, he wishes with every ounce of his being that he could help his father.

With that wish, the devil shows up. Of course, Johnny doesn't realize that the middle-aged man using a cane is actually the man from hell, so when he offers to heal Barton Blaze using Johnny's soul as payment, Johnny agrees to the bargain. The next morning, Johnny's father is in perfect health. If it hadn't been for that, Johnny would have thought the last evening's proceedings a dream. A dream that turned into a nightmare: an accident that never should have happened; his father's still body; evil laughter filling the carnival tent. Hours later, Johnny meets the devil on the road and is told that nothing must come in between them and their contract: no family, no loved ones. He works for the devil now.

Just him, the devil... and a desire to die that is so strong it almost consumes him.

But little did either of them know... when someone gives up their soul for love instead of selfishness and greed, the curse becomes their power.

What I Liked:
1: The devil is shown to be almost as evil as he truly is. It makes the viewer realize that he is nothing to laugh at.
2: The acting was fairly well done.
3: Very little bad language.
4: There was some boy/girl stuff but they kept it clean. It was refreshing that way.
5: The legend/Sam Elliot. Nicely done... I enjoy both.
6: The humor. There are times that I actually snickered. “Call me old-fashioned, I'm funny that way. Human sacrifices make me uncomfortable.”
7: The score. I love the cowboy song and I really like how they use it with 'modern' music. The mix is great.
8: Some of the scary stuff was new to me. Kept me on my toes. :-)
9: The justice.

What I Didn't Like:
1: I kept getting the feeling like I wasn't getting all the details of the story.
2: There were a lot of 'givens'... several threads untied at the end of the film.
3: Some bad language.
4: Roxanne is under-dressed a couple of times. It does nothing to help the movie.
5: The way Johnny took care of two of the bad guys... I'm afraid I didn't quite catch the significance of his methods.
6: Theology was pretty bad. Lol. It was worse than Indiana Jones.

The reason I'm probably unfamiliar with Ghost Rider is due to the fact that I haven't read the comics or brushed up on my knowledge of legends. This film is definitely for people who know the story beforehand. If you're a Marvel comics fan, you'll probably love this movie. :-)

One of the funniest lines on this movie was when the woman is getting robbed and Johnny shows up, ablaze. Both she and her captor look at him for a long moment, then she grabs her purse and says, “Uh...thanks!”

Okay, you will have to watch it in order to find this amusing. :-)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Evelyn Cameron -- 1868 - 1928

Evelyn Cameron
(1868 - 1928)
Montana's Frontier Photographer

Why are some black and white photographs so fascinating to look at and study? Is it because the subjects shown in them are dressed for the times? Or is it because one realizes how much time and effort went into each photograph? Perhaps the reason I enjoy looking at old photographs so much is because of photographers like Evelyn Cameron.

Looking at her self portraits, a person would come to the conclusion that she was a sturdy, work hardened woman with a sense of humor. She was. But look again. Don't you see the music in her images? What about close touch of nature ... and the way she set up her subject(s)? It is art. There is a touch here that feels gentler than the wind swept buttes of Montana.

Evelyn Jephson Flower was born in Britain to a wealthy merchant family on August 26th, 1868. She grew up in a large, comfortable house with servants to accomplish every task... even brush her hair. I don't know much about her growing up years but I do know that at the age of 21 (1889), she married Ewen Cameron and traveled to the badlands of eastern Montana to study bird habit and habitat. Her family didn't approve.

Ewen Cameron was a Scottish aristocrat who lived in 'genteel poverty' while pursuing his great interests in birds. He was fourteen years in her senior, eccentric and in need of someone just like Evelyn to balance him out.
In the year of 1893, the Camerons moved to Montana to escape society and find their own way in life. It was a year later that Evelyn got her first camera. She first purchased the camera because she wanted to help record her husband's studies. But she soon realized that it could become a source of income... and amusement. Her pictures marched their way over the ocean to England and her poor prim family was properly horrified at her escapades. But people did pay to have their pictures taken: bachelors sending home pictures to their loved ones; families capturing their growing years forever; homesteaders proudly standing in their best clothes by their small houses, barns and cellars; children and their pets; weddings; funerals;
confirmation and school classes.

She charged 25 cents per photograph, $3.00 for twelve photos mounted in an album. Her favorite camera was Tourist Graflex, which she purchased for $255.58 in 1905. “It made 5 – inch – by – 7 – inch glass-plate negatives, weighed 9 pounds, and was bigger than a breadbox.” Evelyn never owned an automobile. She carried her camera and equipment on horseback... or walked.

I mentioned earlier about the 'feel' of Mrs. Cameron's photographs. I find her pictures unusually professional with a touch only the untamed frontier can give. For instance, the accordion player perched in a tree; a friend with a boxed coyote pup; the Northern Pacific Railroad section foreman in his fringed native costume... with his pipe and gun; Ewen with his goshawk sitting on his arm; the herd of sheep with the lone shepherd and his dog (keep in mind how hard it is to keep animals still enough so they didn't blur!); and the photograph that Evelyn had Ewen take of herself, sitting on a narrow natural stone bridge over a high canyon, reading (she won first place in a contest... the contest theme being the oddest place to be reading it's magazine).

I highly recommend you taking a look at Evelyn Cameron's work. She is one of the very best black and white photographers I have had the pleasure to study.

Here are some sources:
Evelyn Cameron – Montana's Frontier Photographer – Text by Kristi Hager (2007; Farcounty Press) $14.95 (US)
The Camerons: Evelyn and Ewen, Birding in Central Montana, 1912 –13 (Henry L. Armstrong, 2002)
Before Barbed Wire: L.A. Huffman, Photographer on Horseback (Mark H. Brown and William R. Felton, 1990)
Photographing Montana, 1894 – 1928: The Life and Work of Evelyn Cameron (Donna M. Lucey, 1990)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea -- 1997

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

Richard Crenna
Ben Cross
Julie Cox
Paul Gross
Michael Jayston

“Metal... Hm. What species would this be, Professor?”

Something has been terrorizing the Atlantic Ocean, sinking ships or injuring critically. People are suspecting a sea monster of some kind and who knows best about sea monsters but world renown marine biologist Professor Aronnax (Richard Crenna)?

He is asked to come aboard a navy ship who is going on an expedition to find and destroy the monster. As fate would have it, his daughter Sophie (Julie Cox) is visiting him at the time. She is a willful young lady with a mind of her own. But she isn't stupid. Her knowledge and common sense are invaluable to her father. Of course, she insists on going with him. Since the Navy won't have a woman on board, she goes as Professor Aronnax's assistant... male assistant.

On board the ship, Professor A. and Sophie (now known as Charlie Darwin) meet the crew, including the harpooner (“Ned” -- Paul Gross) that the Navy had hired for killing the whatever was terrorizing the seas. Their first night out, the monster appeared. In fact, it appeared alongside their ship. When the harpoon struck, it bounced off with a clang. Ned fell overboard and when the monster struck again, Sophie and Professor Aronnax were also thrown into the sea.

Morning arrived to show the trio (Sophie now known for who she was) clinging to wood debris from the ship, which was limping painfully homeward. With the dawn came the monster. Blowing steam like a whale, sunlight glistening from it's hull... a savior from the blistering sun and salt and sharks. But from death? What sort of human being would be the captain of this beast of destruction?

What I Liked:
1: For having a girl in it, she wasn't dressed terribly and the romance was limited to kissing and hugging.
2: The acting was fairly well done.
3: Beautiful shots of the sea, creatures and plants. I really enjoyed that part of it.
4: There was some detail of the ship and how they lived.
5: Ben Cross made a great villain.
6: The movie was pretty well done for when it was filmed and how much they changed the story.
7: When Professor Aronnax saw he was wrong, he admitted it and changed his ways.
8: Paul Gross has the most marvelous facial expressions. He kept us laughing throughout the entire film.
9: How clean it was.

What I Didn't Like:
Note: Please understand that I am not necessarily a purist.
1: The romance/girl. It didn't help the story at all.
2: They didn't show the pearl in the oyster. That was my favorite part in the book.
3: Nor did they show the part under the iceberg.
4: They changed or skipped many of the best adventures told in the book.
5: Evolution is strongly promoted.
6: There was not a lot of detail about the ship, how they ate, clothed themselves and all the treasures Captain Nemo had collected. In the book, he had another life than ramming ships and collecting treasures...
7: In the movie, Nemo is made out to be an irreversible evil but in the book, he is more eccentric than mad. However, in the book he is much more frightening...
8: Some language. But I hardly caught any of it.

That being said, there is such a thing as time constraints and the movie was enjoyable in spite of all the changes made to the story.

Things to Know:
1: Mentions of unfaithfulness are made... and there is some kissing. ;-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Princess Diaries 2 -- 2004

The Princess Diaries 2

Rated G
My Rating: 5 Stars

Julie Andrews
Anne Hathaway
Heather Matarazzo
Callum Blue
John Rhys-Davies
Hector Elizondo
Chris Pine

Princess Mia (Anne Hathaway) has graduated from college and is on her way back to Genovia to prepare for her coronation. Under her Grandmother's (Julie Andrews) supervision, she begins to take her place in Genovia's society as their future ruler.

But complications arise when Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies) announces that he doesn't believe Princess Mia would make a good ruler of Genovia... and his nephew would be the right choice. Of course, he had not the power to dethrone Mia but he had found an old law of Genovia that stated a Queen must be married in order to be crowned.

Of course, Mia is horrified at the thought of an arranged marriage but the words her dead father came to her again: “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment of something else more important than fear.” With this in mind, she agrees to the terms and becomes engaged to Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue).

With all philosophers, Queen Clarisse wishes to keep her enemies close by, so she invites the other candidate for the throne to stay in the palace. Lord Nicholas Devereaux (Chris Pine) has already decided that his uncle is quite right that Princess Mia should not take the throne. But as he starts to get to know her better, something happens that no one expected... least of all power hungry Viscount Marbrey!

“Now all I have to do is tell Mummy.”
“I have to tell everyone else.”
::together:: “Good luck!”

What I Liked:
1: There were a few twists to the story that were interesting...
2: The acting was marvelous.
3: Julie Andrews actually sung a song on this movie. I was so thrilled because she can't sing much anymore.
4: The relationship between Clarisse and Mia.
5: The courtship of Mia and Nicholas was great.
6: A lot of the aspects of royalty are shone. Not all good; not all bad.
7: It was clean.
8: There was some good kissing. Lol. :-)
9: The humor. It was pretty laughable.
10: Andrew believed the best of Mia.
11: 99% of the score was wonderful.
12: How Queen Clarisse finds love... at last!

What I Didn't Like:
1: Andrew made a better Prince Charming than Nicholas. ;-)
2: There were a few untied strings at the end (nothing much).

Things To Know:
1: Mia wears some strapless gowns.
2: If you don't like dancing, watch out.

I liked this film better than the first one. :-)

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Princess Diaries -- 2001

The Princess Diaries

Rated G
My Rating 4 Stars

Julie Andrews
Anne Hathaway
Heather Matarazzo
Hector Elizondo
Mandy Moore
Caroline Goodall
Robert Schwartzman

Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) is the school geek that all the popular kids like to pick on... when she's not invisible. She lives with her mother, an artist, and her cat, Fat Louie, in a refurnished old fire station and goes to school five days a week riding her scooter.

Then, Grandmother (Julie Andrews) comes into town with news that Mia isn't just a Mia Thermopolis, clumsy school geek with a head of kinky curls, she's Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, Princess of Genovia. And her Grandmother is Queen Clarisse of Genovia.

With this shocking discovery comes the news that unless Mia accepts her title of Princess, the crown will pass to another family in Genovia. Mia isn't thrilled at the prospect but her mother works out a deal that both Mia and her grandmother are willing to (begrudgingly) accept: Mia takes “Princess” lessons and attends the Genovian Ball. After the Ball, she will make her decision.

All of school buzzes with shock when Mia has a make-over. And the school buzzes even more when the news leaks out that the school freak is actually a real live Princess. Mia's status of  most unpopular girl suddenly changes to everyone wanting to be her best friend. But things get ugly when some of her jealous classmates decide to try for their moment of fame.

Mia is faced with the knowledge of what being a Princess means... and it's not all wonderful dinners, beautiful gowns and glittering tiaras. What decision will she make?

What I Liked:
1: Julie Andrews. I love Julie Andrews!
2: Anne Hathaway has such a sparkle to her that I haven't seen in anyone else.
3: The story. Who doesn't want to find out they are a real live princess?! But who understands everything that comes with the position? I appreciate how both positive and negatives sides are shown.
4: I liked the romance. Pretty clean.
5: Mia learns that handsome and popular doesn't always mean good.
6: The Queen took time off her duties to really get to know Mia... and she really did care about people.

What I Didn't Like:
1: I got the feeling that 'I've heard this story before' while watching it.

Things To Know:
1: Mia is shown in just a towel. You see nothing more than when she wears a strapless dress.
2: There is some kissing.

This is probably one of the nicer films I've seen in awhile. It's good for kids... nice, clean story. You'll fall in love with all the characters. :-)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again -- 1979

The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again

Rated G
My Rating: 5 Stars

Tim Conway
Don Knotts
Tim Matheson
Kenneth Mars
Elyssa Davalos
Jack Elam
Robert Pine
Audrey Totter

“Heh heh heh. Now that's what I call shootin'!”

Major Gaskill (Harry Morgan)  is worried. Someone is raiding the US Calvary supply wagons and killing the drivers. From the looks of things, it appears that it's someone with inside information. Unless the raids stop, he will lose his post of command.

Meanwhile, Amos (Tim Conway) and Theodore (Don Knotts) land in a boom town with every intention of going straight after “terrorizing the west”. But as hard as they try, they can't seem to stay on the right side of the law. After the town bank is robbed, all the evidence points to them and the Sheriff can't wait to get his hands on them. Inadvertently, they shoot him and end up on the run again.

Due to a certain set of circumstances, they join the US Calvary (“You're spilling it!”) and accidentally blow the fort up... landing them straight in the stockade, with as many years as Major Gaskill can clap on them (thirty). While there, the two stumble into a gang of thieves who are planning a train robbery and since they've heard too much, they are given a choice of working with the gang or... well, you get the picture.

“Mac who? Fuzzy face. [pause] That Mac. [shoves Theodore in front] Prolly wants to talk to you.”

But this time, Theodore is determined that regardless of the cost, he is going to do the right thing and of course, Amos is always there beside him.

What I Liked:
1: Don Knotts and Tim Conway. They are hilarious together.
2: This movie is 99% clean.
3: In spite of all the laughs, there are some good morals taught in this film.
4: Who wouldn't like a film placed in the wild west with Don Knotts in it?
5: The mystery. I was a little surprised when I found out who the bad guy was.
6: Listening to my fifteen year old brother laugh over this film.

Things to Know:
1: Amos and Theodore disguise themselves as barmaids and one of the guys that ends up dancing with them makes some comment about them two going somewhere. It's funny but the implication is there.

If you like Don Knotts and a corny western, you'll love this film. Watch it when you're feeling blue. :-)

“Oh, I'm just another pretty face...”

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Angels of Morgan Hill -- Donna VanLiere -- 2006

The Angels of Morgan Hill 

Donna VanLiere

My Rating: 5 Stars

The year is 1947; Morgan Hill, Tennessee.

“It was raining real hard the day we buried my daddy. Mama said it was because the angels were crying, but after hours of drenching downpour, I doubted the angels were crying tears of joy about seeing Daddy in heaven but instead were just downright upset about having him there.”

They had just buried Jane's father, after he'd drank himself to death. She and her younger brother John couldn't understand why most of the grownups pitied them. They only knew they should look sorrowful when someone noticed them. Jane was almost glad her father was dead because that meant Mama wouldn't get beaten up on anymore.

Frances Gable was a widow with two children and pregnant with her third. She didn't know how she was going to support her children with another on the way. She didn't want the baby. She didn't know it, but she did want the baby. She was only scared about being the proper mother with no money and three kids to feed. They were all counting on her.  Maybe it was the fear of the future that made her bold when the first black folks arrived in Morgan Hill.

Morgan Hill had never had slaves before the war, so there had never been any black folks in town before. And when they decided to come to the only church in town, some people, including Fran's best friend, murmured. But Fran set her lips in a firm line and was the first to welcome Willie Dean and his family into the congregation. It didn't take long before Frances and Addy Dean got to know each other and became best friends.

“Miz Fran, I don't know nothing about the race you're running. All I know is that if you want, I'll be one of them people who'll give you a cup of cool water.”
Fran looked down at the dust covering her shoes. “I might need a great big pitcher of water.”
“Then I'll just keep my well full.”

But tragedy struck. The Dean's house burned down, taking with it Willie, Addy and their young daughter Rose. Only their son Milo was left. Addy was rescued before she died but her lungs were beyond healing. Just before she breathed her last, she asked Frances to raise Milo. Of course, Fran said she would and with those words, the little family was thrown into a situation that would shake them up, turn them inside out and whether they landed on their feet or not was debatable.

A young white widow with a nine year old and a seven year old, baby on the way, in a neighborhood of mixed (high!) emotions about blacks, taking this child in and loving him as her own. But if anyone was up to the challenge, it was Fran Gable.

“Fran leaned against the counter. 'His mama asked me to take care of him, and I mean to...'
'You don't have to do this, Fran,' Margaret whispered. 'He's a colored person.'
'We're all colored people, Margaret!'”

Told from the view of nine year old Jane, the reader is allowed a unique view of the of those first few months. You will read about how Jane prayed and prayed for a daddy who would love her and John and Milo and Mama like a daddy should. You will read about her best friend named Henry and how she and John made Milo their brother. They didn't care about his skin color anymore than their Mama did. And you will read about how their determination to do what was right changed everyone in Morgan Hill.

What I Liked:
1: How well written this story was. Each emotion was properly balanced and completely understandable. The turns in the story were a little surprising but seemed right. The characters could be myself or anyone I know.
2: The good in the neighborhood reminds me so much of where I live. There aren't many places left like that.
3: I love how courageous Fran is.
4: I love how sweet and kind... but brave and firm Joe was. He's the perfect imperfect hero. (That is not a typo, btw. ;-))
5: The romance. :-)
6: The children. They were regular, good kids with plenty of mischief to season them.
7: Henry and his family. Every community needs a Henry. I appreciate how honest he is with the children.
8: The references to God and how He answers prayer. This book isn't exactly what you'd term an inspiration book, but the relationship Jane had with God was very good. It put into perspective how God does hear our prayers and always answers. (not always yes :-))
9: One can see how God had his hand on the Gable family. Not everything that happened to them was good or nice but in the end, they were stronger for everything that had happened.
10: This book had just about everything in it: mystery, romance, family life, drama, mountain climbing, music (The Carters family was in town!), doctors, child discipline, ice-cream, issues like prejudice and town bullies, fire, threats, child birth, honesty... you name it. But at the end of the story, the reader is left feeling satisfied. There is a good feeling. But it isn't because the story is all warm and fuzzy. It's because the book deals with issues that each and every person has had or could deal with and the solution is to hold on and pray.
11: And don't miss out on the humor. Tucked in just when you don't expect it. :-)

“I almost burst that day. God had heard my prayers and given us a daddy; he'd given all of us a family...”

This is one of the best books I've read in awhile. I am looking for more of Donna VanLiere's work...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

RV -- 2006


Rated PG language, innuendo, and crude humor
My Rating 4 Stars

Robin Williams
Cheryl Hines
Joanna “Jojo” Levesque
Josh Hutcherson
Jeff Daniels
Kristin Chenoweth
Hunter Parrish
Chloe Sonnenfeld
Alex Ferris
Will Arnett

There is something about this film that cracks me up. Robin Williams makes it, of course, but he does have some help from the rest of the cast. :-) Jeff Daniels, Cheryl Hines, Kristin Chenoweth...

Bob Munro's (Robin Williams) job is at stake. He knows that. So when his boss (Will Arnett) tells him to cancel his family vacation to Hawaii and go with him to Colorado, Bob does just that. Little does Todd Mallory know how Bob Munro is going to get there.

You see, the Munro family isn't what you'd call close. Well, Bob and Jamie (Cheryl Hines) have a wonderful relationship (“'s to true love.”) but the kids never talk to him except with insults. (Jamie says it's because he doesn't spend enough time with them... his job keeps him too busy.) So when Bob realizes that he's in trouble with his job, he is afraid that his family will write him off forever as the loser.

So, he rents an RV. A super-sized, fully equipped green monster with a huge depiction of it's owner gracing the left side. Of course, his family is shocked when he parks in front of their house. And when he'd finally convinced them that he chose an RV trip to Colorado because he felt it was good for them (and, he lied, this spur of the moment decision definitely was not about work), they weren't out of the immediate neighborhood before they managed to smash two stone structures and tear off a stop sign.

(“Do you want to go back?” asks Cassie. “We missed the neighbor's cat.”)

Little did they know that life was going to get a bit more interesting. Enter the Gornickes (Jeff Daniels; Kristin Chenoweth, Hunter Parrish, Chloe Sonnenfield, Alex Ferris)! Homeschooled rednecks that sing and sell musical car horns for a living. Just the type of people the Munros have been trying to avoid all their lives. But no matter how hard they try to avoid them, circumstances keep crossing their paths until the Munros realize what decent people... and true friends are all about.

What I Liked:
1: The story. It's different than any other I've seen.
2: The humor. 99% of it is funny.
3: The fecal matter scene. On the Bonus Features, the director mentioned that fecal matter jokes are always funny. I disagree: it takes a special director and a very good actor to pull off what happened here. It's hilarious. Maybe the best part of the movie. Lol!
4: I love it how the homeschooled kids turn out to be smarter than average... and how, in the end, the Munro kids want to be homeschooled too.
5: The relationships between Bob & Jamie and Travis & Mary Jo. It's good to watch.
6: The entire RV thing.
7: There is nothing terribly disgusting or inappropriate about this film.
8: I was glad to see Jeff Daniels again. I've seen him in several films and I can't wait to see more.
9: Robin Williams is special. He's funny, sweet, dorky...
10: I liked how the Munros found out that their problems didn't come from one person or even two people. They all had to work together at it.

What I Didn't Like:
1: There's one line that didn't help the movie... and that is when Mary Jo is explaining how she makes $60,000 a year. Bob asks, “How? By hooking?”
2: Some language.
3: Kristin Chenoweth wore some pretty revealing tops.. as did Jojo Levesque.

This film hits a lot of levels for me. I am glad I watched it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Risen -- 2009


Produced by: the N crew

1: Story of One (Aaron Nasby)
2: Forsaken One (Nathan Nasby)
3: Lord Remember Me (Aaron Nasby)
4: I am Called (Nathan Nasby)
5: Song about Faith (Nathan Nasby)
6: Unto Thee O Lord (Aaron Nasby)
7: I Will Lift Up (Aaron Nasby)
8: Behold (Stephen Nasby)
9: Time Will Tell (Nathan Nasby)
10: Risen (Stephen Nasby)

I asked a friend of mine what she liked best about this recording and she replied, “How professional it sounds.” When you read the behind the scenes I'm about to share with you, you will understand why the sound of this recording is so impressive. The brothers that produced “Risen” have their own homemade studio set up in the back of their shop. For ten years, they have been working on this CD and the time and effort shows. They are incredibly gifted musicians and, obviously, diligent to ensure the excellence of their sound.

Our family met the Nasbys in 2002 when we first moved up to Saskatchewan and it has been a blessing to exchange music and fellowship over the past 8 years. We had been keeping an ear open for the news of their completed product, so it was wonderful to receive it in the mail the other day.

Check it out on iTunes.

What I Liked:
1: I appreciate the many instruments and variety they used.
2: The spiritual quality of the songs.
3: The excellent violin music. (The violin happens to be my favorite instrument. :-))
4: The difference in sounds. Not every song is alike. There is a very classical feel to some and a jazz/pop to others.

“Every soul must seek out the truth behind the story of their lives.
May the songs within this collection inspire you on that journey of
discovery toward the Grand Author himself, the Word of Life, Jesus Christ.”
-- eli eli

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice


A&E and the BBC

Rated PG for mature theme
My Rating: 5 Stars

Colin Firth
Jennifer Ehle
Allison Steadman
Benjamin Whitrow
Susannah Harker
Crispin Bonham-Carter
Anna Chancellor
Julia Sawalha
David Bamber
David Bark-Jones

Probably one of the best films I've ever seen. It is excellence: story, acting, character, constume, music/score, sets... the list could go on. If you are interested in Jane Austen and her work, be sure to take the time and effort to watch this film.

The story is placed in an era in which a girl's duty is to marry a rich husband. Most of the girls of her acquaintance were very pleased to fulfill their calling, but Lizzie Bennet was not.

“I am determined that nothing but the deepest love will induce me into matrimony. So, I shall end an old maid and teach your ten children to embroider cushions and play their instruments very ill!”

Elizabeth Bennet is the second daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and sister to four sisters: Jane, Mary, Kitty and Lydia. Their family is comfortably situated but by no means wealthy, so the very thought of the likelihood of finding husbands for her daughters makes Mrs. Bennet's nerves go to pieces. This is why, when she hears that Netherfield Park  “has been let at last!” she is in a dither of highest excitement. And when the new owner of Netherfield Park is pronounced rich and single, Mrs. Bennet is quite beside herself. She is certain that one of her daughters will snag handsome Mr. Bingley.

In no time at all, everyone is giving balls and parties and to no one's astonishment, except for Jane herself, Mr. Bingley is bestowing his attention upon her. But Mr. Bingley has a friend, a certain Mr. Darcy. He is even more wealthy than Mr. Bingley and a great deal more pride. His pride and arrogance, in fact, are what draws Miss Elizabeth's attention to him. But it is admirable attention. She finds his attitudes disgusting and she tells him so upon any opportunity that presents itself.

Little does she know that her righteous indignation is attracting the arrogant Mr. Darcy in spite of himself.

Mr. Bennet: kindly, wise, patient.
Mrs. Bennet: foolish, busybody, kind hearted, featherhead.
Jane Bennet: of all fictional literary characters, Jane Bennet is the embodiment of goodness.
Lizzie Bennet: intelligent, cynical, loving, faithful, loyal.
Mary Bennet: geeky, selfish, interested only books, and Mr. Collins. Lol.
Kitty Bennet: weak, follower, giddy.
Lydia Bennet: selfish, impulsive, flirtatious.
Mr. Bingley: Kind, good, gentle, follower.
Miss Bingley: proud, selfish, intelligent.
Mr. Darcy: proud, strict, morally upright, loyal, kind-hearted.
Mr. Hurst: drunkard.
Mrs. Hurst: proud, selfish, intelligent, follower.
Charlotte Lucas: kind, timid, determined.
Mr. Collins: pompous, fool.
Mr. Wickham: cunning, sly, smart but decidedly counted too much on Mr. Darcy's continued pride.

Notes of Interest:
1: The film is 5 hours long.
2: They used museums and/or historical landmarks for most of the dwellings.

My Favorite Things:
1: the scenery of England/Wales. It is so beautiful.
2: Jennifer Ehle. She is one of the best actors I've seen.
3: Susannah Harker. Again, excellence.
4: The folks that put this film together managed to catch the very spirit of Jane Austen and the era she lived in. I really appreciate how far they went for accomplish excellence.

Things You Should Know:
1: If you are concerned about low necklines, there are plenty in this film.
2: If you don't like romance, you shouldn't even read the review. Lol!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pride & Prejudice -- 2006

Pride & Prejudice

Rated G
My Rating 3 Stars

Keira Knightley
Matthew McFadyen
Brenda Blethyn
Donald Southerland
Tom Hollander
Rosamund Pike
Jena Malone
Judi Dench

There were few things I actually liked about this film:

1: Keira Knightley.
2: Some of the photography and scenery was absolutely gorgeous.

What I didn't like is more numerous:

1: The film feels modernized. The acting, the costumes, the lines, the houses, the story... I didn't appreciate not getting the feel of the era the film was supposed to be set in.
2: The actors. Some were fine for the characters they played but even Keira, as good as she is, didn't make a good Lizzie. It could have been the script or director, since Keira is a phenomenal actress.
3: The way the movie was filmed felt very choppy to me. It did not run it's course smoothly.
4: The balls/parties were not organized or have the touch of the gentry from the 16th century.
5: Mr. Darcy was just arrogant and ignorant. He didn't have his pride or family bearing.
6: Many of the details that make A&E's production of P&P so marvelous were simply gone. If I hadn't watched the latter before I watched this version, I would have not understood the story and implications.
7: Some of the instances between Lizzie and Darcy in this film would not have been considered any more appropriate than Lydia's running away with Mr. Wickham.
8: Mr. Collins' (accidental) sexual reference. It didn't help the film at all, only took away from the little it had to stand in front of.

There is much debate on which P&P film is the best. I haven't watched the b&w version (from the 40's) but from the clips I've seen, the costumes are not accurate. So I must say, I like A&E's version best and that is the one I will always watch before the others. :-)

If you would like a summary of the basic story of Pride and Prejudice, take a look at my other review... or simply google it. :-) Lots of great sites out there. Also, there are lots of clips on You Tube that will give you a glimpse into all the films.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Night At the Museum -- 2006

Night At The Museum

A Shaun Levy film

Rated: PG for scary images and violence
My Rating: 5 Stars

Ben Stiller
Owen Wilson
Steve Coogan
Robin Williams
Carla Gugino
Dick Van Dyke
Mickey Rooney
Bill Cobbs
Jake Cherry
Patrick Gallagher
Rami Malek

“It's Octavius, Mary.”

The first time I saw this film, I had an earache when I started and no earache when I finished. It must have been all the laughing I did in the time between. :-)

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is a typical guy with a lot of ideas, a son and no job. Desperate not to be evicted from his apartment, he takes a job as the night watchman for the Museum of Natural History. Little does he know that at night, everything comes to life. Including the giant Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and violent Attila Hun (Patrick Gallagher), who loves ripping things... People, mostly.

The first night, as you may well imagine, was not the greatest. If it hadn't been for his son, he would have quit right then and there. The second night was even worse. If it hadn't been for Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) daring him to be the man he could be, Larry would have gladly packed up and never looked back. But the third night is when things got really interesting.

The old night guards (Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney & Bill Cobbs) were planning something big and they thought Larry was dumb enough to never guess he was being framed. It would take the combined efforts of all the museum's inhabitants, including bitterest enemies miniatures Roman general Octavius (Steve Coogan) and cowboy Jed (Owen Wilson), to save Larry and life as they had known it for 50 years.

“This is livin' the dream, baby!” [-- Jed, while revving about in Larry's toy Hummer]

What I Liked:
1: The story was unique.
2: The humor. My favorite part is where Larry Psychs Attila the Hun. I laughed until I cried.
3: The acting. Wonderful.
4: It was great to see some familiar faces from the oldies: Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney. They're as wonderful as ever!
5: Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan. They really play well off each other.
6: I haven't seen a Robin Williams film that I didn't like. :-)
7: Even though this movie is really funny, it isn't just entertaining. There is a lot of history thrown in that I had no idea about. That makes it a great kids film but also one that their parents will enjoy.

What I Didn't Like:
1: Rock music on occasion.
2: Rebecca's shirts are sometimes low and revealing. Only one scene did it bother me.
3: The divorce situation. It wasn't offensive... only sad.

I must say that next to Princess Bride, this film is next in line when I think of funny. We've watched it several times and it gets better with each viewing. :-)

“He says he wants to rip you apart.” [Ahkmenrah translating for Attila the Hun]