Monday, August 30, 2010

Saving Sarah Cain -- 2007

Saving Sarah Cain

Rated PG for brief teen smoking
My Rating: 4 Stars

Lisa Pepper
Elliott Gould
Tess Harper
Tom Tate
Abigail Mason
Soren Fulton
Danielle Chuchran
Tanner Maguire
Bailey Madison

The phone call came just as Bryan Ford (Tom Tate) was about to ask Sarah Cain (Lisa Pepper) to marry him. That instant began his intended's transformation into a new woman. And it began a series of events that rocked two worlds, the lives of five Amish children whose home and family are the world and a young Englisher whose career means everything to her.

When Sarah Cain's sister died, leaving her custody of five children who had no idea about the outside world, she opted to bring them back to Portland with her. Picture it: five Amish children, big city. Five Amish children, Englisher home. Five Amish children, typical public schools. The move from Pennsylvania was more than a change of scenery for them; it was culture shock.

But if the children had problems adjusting, so does Sarah. She offers to buy them new clothes so they will fit in better. But Lyddie (Abigail Mason) is adamant, “Plain we were raised and plain we will stay.” Sarah buys more groceries in a week than she goes through in two months... and eating out? Chopsticks are lethal weapons!

And what about her writing? Before the phone call, her columns were being cut out of newspapers but everyone loves to read about Plain People fitting into 21st century world. It's like time travel without the fantasy. Her column is popular... and gaining. But there is a problem.

It's when her world falls apart that Sarah Cain finds her cross-roads. She must decide who she will live for, no matter what she loses or what the end gains her.

What I Liked:
1: It was fairly well acted... very well directed. I would say this is the best I've seen of Michael Landon Jr.'s films.
2: The 21st century language in a Christian film. I appreciate that they were willing to go the second mile to insure the accuracy of the story.
3: It was indeed inspirational. :-) :-)
4: The score was lovely!
5: The story. I can see why this, of all Beverly Lewis' books, was chosen. It's unique but not so unique that we can't learn from it.
6: The romance. Hehe. :-)
7: I love her boss. He's a jerk, a creep and someone I totally wouldn't like in real life. But he's great on screen. ;-) Elliot Gould was an excellent choice for the part.
8: The buggy/car chase was a very interesting addition to the story. Including that was a wise move on the part of the director.

What I didn't Like:
1: Some of Sarah's lines were said like she was reading them.
2: Since they were careful to keep the language and dress accurately for the setting, I think they should have taken another step and had Sarah and Bryan kiss... or at least indulge in long hugs. It felt wrong when it was only a peck on the cheek. However... who am I to say. :-P

Things to Know:
1: One of Sarah's co-workers... and some of the fellow students of Anna Mae were dressed typically. It did help the story but if you're sensitive to this, I would recommend a screen cover.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pistachio – The Little Boy That Woodn't -- 2010

Pistachio – The Little Boy That Woodn't

Rated G
My Rating: 5 Stars

Lisa Vischer
Mike Nawrocki
Phil Vischer
Tim Hodge
Trevor Devall
Lee Tockar
Megan Murphy

“Moralizing runs very deep in my family.”

Gelato was an kindly old man who lived in the small town Italian town of Balogna Salami.  He never married so he had no wife or children and his three brothers disappeared mysteriously one day while delivering meatballs to the island of Boyardee. But Gelato wasn't lonely because he loved carving things out of wood. He had also adopted three little ducklings and a caterpillar named Cricket. He took them everywhere with him and since they were his 'children', he taught them everything there was to know about life.

One day, Parcheesi, a fellow woodcarver, stopped him on the street and asked if he would like a piece of wood. Of course he would, Gelato replied.. only, he didn't have very much money and he didn't like to spend all he had. But Parcheesi said he could have it for free, so joyfully, Gelato took the wood home with him and spent the night carving.

There was something strange about this piece of wood. It had come from a pistachio tree and even when it wasn't carved, it moved... by itself. Gelato thought it a little strange but didn't give it's behavior another thought. Cricket, on the other hand, had a bad feeling in his legs about it. But he didn't even imagine what was going to happen when Gelato had finished carving his new son, Pistachio.

What came next was not only a learning experience for Pistachio and the ducks, but also for Gelato and Cricket.

“High fives!”
“No hands, numbskull.”

What I Liked:
1: The twist on the fairytale.
2: The humor. Wonderful as always.
3: The corniness of it is mixed with everything else so you don't mind it. ;-)
4: The moral.
5: The music.
6: The ducks.
7: Cricket, alias Khalil.
8: The Extreme Re-do was really clever. It made me laugh more than once. :-)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gaither Gospel Series -- Nashville Homecoming -- 2009

Bill and Gloria Gaither
Nashville Homecoming

Gaither Gospel Series

The Hallelujah Side
featuring Charlotte Ritchie, Welsey Pritchard, TaRanda Green, Chris Freeman
(gospel sound with some added licks... great talent here)

I Wish I Could Have Been There
featuring The Perrys
(family group singing a faster song; again gospel)

Try A Little Kindness
featuring Tim Surrett
(this guy has the sweetest voice... country/gospel song; slower)

I Wouldn't Take Nothin' For My Journey Now
featuring George McDonald, Glenn Dustin
(Very old gospel tent song)

God Is In The Shadows 
featuring The Collingsworth Family
(another family group singing a sweet song... more of a modern sound; very soft)

Over and Over
featuring Jeff and Sheri Easter, Charlotte Ritchie
(modern sound; faster; wonderful tune and words... one of my favorites)

I Don't Regret A Mile
featuring Johnny Minick, Guy Penrod, Sheri Easter (Howard Goodman from The Happy Goodmans: 50 Faithful Years)
(old gospel song; hymn sound)

Child Of The King
featuring Mike Allen, Tim Duncan (Brock Speer from Moments to Remember)
(old gospel song; hymn sound; nice)

I'm So Glad
featuring Jessy Dixon, Alicia Williamson
(very southern/African American sound; get ready to tap your toes!)

The Dearest Friend I Ever Had
featuring The Homecoming Friends
(old gospel song that brings back really good memories)

Feet On The Ground
featuring Dallas Holm
(a slower song with a very rock beat)

O Happy Day
featuring Lillie Knauls, The Talley Trio
(Lillie Knauls always makes me smile... very southern gospel with Lillie's special sound)

Jonah, Job & Moses
featuring the Oak Ridge Boys
(nice song; very country/gospel sound... guitar)

I Just Came To Talk With You, Lord
featuring Dottie Rambo
(I love this song! It's a good reminder... very gentle sound)

The Promise
featuring The Martins
(modern sound; good words)

Ain't Gonna Give Up On God
featuring Gordon Mote
(Gordon Mote never ceases to amaze me. This time, he's on an organ. More bluesy sound.)

Meeting In The Air
featuring Joshua Pope on piano
(Joshua Pope was 14 at the time he performed on this DVD. He was pretty good. :-) Old gospel/spiritual favorite)

Strike Up The Band
featuring Legacy Five
(Old gospel sounding favorite with bluesy licks. Watch their pianist.. he's amazing.)

In The Upper Room
featuring The Gatlin Brothers
(I really enjoyed this one. Great guitar playing; great voices; great song)

The One I'm Dying For
featuring The Isaacs
(The Isaacs have always been a hit with me. One of their softer songs)

It Won't Rain Always
featuring Janet Paschal
(Janet's voice is like early morning dew drops on rose petals. Pink rose petals. She not only has a beautiful voice, she is beautiful. Jesus simply shines through her...)

Make It Real
featuring Mark Lowry
(Mark's voice isn't a typical one but it has a wonderful quality to it that I like. The song is nice too.)
I Need Thee Every Hour
featuring The Homecoming Friends
(This hymn is one of my all-time favorites and it sounds even better with all of these wonderful folks singing.)

featuring The Hoppers
(The Hoppers always do unique songs... this one is one of their good ones.)

Send It On Down
featuring Reggie Smith, TaRanda Greene
(very gospel sounding... Reggie Smith is among my favorite male singers.)

I love Gaither's Gospel Series. We have a few of them and they are such a blessing. God especially used this DVD during a hard time... when you need encouragement listen to Jeff & Sheri Easter sing “Over and Over Again”. :-) “It Won't Rain Always” with Janet Paschal was inspiring as well... both songs really resonated with me for more reasons than one. Both Janet and Sheri have gone through cancer and are still praising God with overflowing hearts of joy... thanksgiving through trials says more about God speaks louder than anything else.

Watch Linda Randall. She's sunshine. :-)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oliver Twist -- 1997

Oliver Twist

Not Rated ('G')
My Rating: 4 Stars

David O'Hara
Alex Trench
Elijah Wood
Richard Dreyfuss

“Is stealing the work the boys do?”
“Uhhh. No! More like... redistributing the wealth.”

Young Oliver Twist was an orphan. He had been born in a poorhouse, his mother dying as soon as she'd given birth to him. The only clue to her identity was the golden locket she had in her hand when she died. This was to become the boy's beacon through the coming years.

The mistress of the poorhouse was a mean old hag who loved to torment the children in her care, but she promised that if Oliver was good, she would let him have his locket when he was twelve. The day before his twelfth birthday, Oliver was forced by a bully to commit the worst sin in the Mistress' book: ask for more food when he'd finished his breakfast. She was only too glad to throw him out because this meant she could keep the locket... and have one less child to feed to boot. But she misjudged the boy. He was not about to leave without it. He snuck back into to the place that night and took back what was his... plus a little chicken for his supper.

Then, he was off to London to find the address engraved in his locket. He walked for miles, hungered and weary. Finally he snatched a ride in the back of a pig cart and was driven straight into the heart of the great city. Once there, he had no idea where to go. He hadn't thought London would be so immense. He wandered about in a daze, looking at the people, animals, merchants and their ware. Just then, his stomach alerted him to the fact that one little stand had apples for sale in a bucket. His stomach said yes. But the Mistress of the poorhouse had raised him to be honest if nothing else, and his heart said no. His stomach won.

Just as he was reaching for the fruit, someone caught him around the shoulders and said in a very put on Cockney accent (Lol!), “Oh no you don't! You were going to go and get yourself caught and then there goes the market and what would happen to hard working, dishonest chaps like me?” Thus, Artful Dodger entered Oliver Twist's life. Here was a boy who had been raised to be a professional thief. But in spite of his cynical attitude towards life and the people in it, Dodger became Oliver's first true friend.

Dodger saw Oliver Twist as a boy with no home, no food and no friends. A perfect candidate for their gang of boy thieves. Over the next few months, Oliver was carefully instructed in the fine art of thievery... and how a good person, regardless of occupation, never peaches on his friends. But in spite of the new family he's come to be a part of, all the food he can eat and the kindness of his new friends, Oliver still feels a yearning to find his true family.

What I Liked:
1: Elijah Wood made this movie. Completely. Watching the conflicting emotions on the face of the character of Dodger was a joy. That is true acting.
2: Although this movie is truly a children's version, it was good. I wouldn't go as far to say that it was wonderful but it tells the story well enough and it's clean. Violence happens (one evil man meets his end on a rope and a good girl gets killed) but it's very toned down. Since the story hinges on these happenings, you can't really do without them.

What I Didn't Like:
1: I would have liked them to include more about Oliver's inheritance and the conditions in his father's will. Why is it that Oliver can't ever become a thief, no matter how hard they try to push him into it? And  why is that so essential to the story (other than for good morals)?
2: On the same subject, there were some unexplained things that I wouldn't have understood, if I hadn't known the story before.
3: It isn't a movie I would watch a second time (except for the experience of watching it with my children).

If you want your children to watch a movie based on a classic, this is a good one. There is nothing bad in it. Thievery is shown in a new light... and the viewer is still left with the feeling of pity. Keep in mind that Dickens wrote allegorically sometimes. :-) It makes the story very funny.

“Goodness is always rewarded.”

Friday, August 20, 2010

National Treasure -- 2004

National Treasure

Rated PG for violence
My Rating: 5 Stars

Nicholas Cage
Diane Kruger
Justin Bartha
Sean Bean
Jon Voight
Harvey Keitel
Christopher Plummer
Stewart Finlay-McLennan

“In 1832, Charles Carroll was the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence...” It is with his last breath, this man bequeathed a clue to the one person he could: Thomas Gates. “The secret lies with Charlotte”, it read. The clue passed from his feeble hand to Thomas' sturdy one was to a treasure... a treasure beyond imagination.

Since that say, the Gates family had been searching relentlessly for it. Convinced of it's existence while others laughed at them; searching when all hope seemed gone... but finally, one of them seemed to be getting somewhere: Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicholas Cage). He had gone through his boyhood years hearing stories about his family's history and had decided at a young age that he would follow in his forefathers' footsteps. But with one small difference: he was going to find the treasure.

After years of studying and training, Ben Gates believed he had finally found Charlotte. The Charlotte was not a woman but a ship. With the help of his navigator/computer/science geek, Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and his sponsor, they discovered that the whims of nature had most likely landed and trapped her in ice, North of the Arctic Circle.

Sure enough, The Charlotte lay there, waiting for them. But it wasn't treasure they found in her; only a beautiful meerschaum pipe with this legend inscribed on it: “The Legend writ. The stain effected. The key in Silence undetected. Fifty-five in iron pen. Mr. Matlack can't offend.” After Ben realized where the next clue was located, he wasn't sure what to do. But he did know that stealing it was out of the question and said so. Unfortunately, his sponsor was as unscrupulous as he was wealthy and proceeded to destroy The Charlotte... with Ben and Riley in it.

Surviving this, the two made their way back to civilization. They knew they could not let something of such importance fall into the hands of Ian Howe but no one would believe that the most guarded document in the United States of America could be stolen. After trying all law enforcements in Washington D.C. and anyone else who might have even a small chance of thwarting Ian, Benjamin Franklin Gates decided that in order to do what is right, he would do something wrong:

He would steal the Declaration of Independence before Ian could.

What I Liked:
1: Two of my favorite actors, Sean Bean and Stewart Finlay-McLennan were on this film. Actually, I must admit that everyone on this film was wonderful. This is the first film I saw Nicholas Cage in and it remains my favorite. He's good in this character.
2: I love Riley. He's hilarious. You really have to be good to pull off an act like that... facial expressions, tone of voice... etc. etc.  
3: The humor. It's clean.

4: Speaking of clean, this movie is definitely a family film...
5: Even though this film revolves around masonry, etc, it doesn't ever sanction or judge the society. It leaves that up to the viewer.
6: The story was very unique and very interesting.
7: The fact that this is one of the best films I've ever seen.
8: Having a very light romance was good.
9: There is enough adventure to be interesting but not so much that kids get too scared.
10: The historical value to this story. It would be a good one for history class.
11: Very little language.

“We probably have our own satellite by now.”

What I Didn't Like:
1: Abigail's clothing is sometimes a little revealing. Nothing horrible, though.
2: One time, Abigail and Ben were changing their clothes in a store and you can see their shoulders above their prospective doors. Nothing that a screen cover can't take care of.

Things To Know:
1: There is some language but it's pretty light.
2: There is a reference to Abigail being pregnant (she's not).

This film made me interested in studying further on the subjects mentioned and read the full version of the Declaration of Independence. As I mentioned above, this film might be good for learning history in a fun way.

“Uh Ben, thee.. the mean declaration lady is behind you.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gaither Vocal Band's Lovin' Life -- 2008

Gaither Vocal Band
Lovin' Life

My Rating: 5 Stars

Bill Gaither – bass
Guy Penrod – lead
Marshall Hall – baritone
Wes Hampton – tenor

I'm Forgiven (Bruce Hibbord, Hadley Hackensmith, Michael Omartian)
Build An Ark (Paul Evans)
Jesus And John Wayne (Gloria Gaither, William J. Gaither, Doug Johnson, Kim Williams, Benjamin Gaither)
Go Ask (William J. Gaither, Gloria Gaither)
Home of Your Dreams (William J. Gaither, Gloria Gaither, Benjamin Gaither)
Search Me Lord (Thomas Dorsey)
Lonely Mile (Henry Slaughter)
There's Always A Place At The Table (William J. Gaither, Gloria Gaither, Larry Gatlin)
The Diff'rence Is In Me (William J. Gaither, Gloria Gaither)
I'm Loving Life (Benjamin Gaither, Jeff Silvey, Kim Williams)
When I Cry (Benjamin Gaither, Marshall Hall)
Prisoner Of Hope (Benjamin Gaither, Jeff Silvey, Kim Williams)
Then He Bowed His Head and Died (William J. Gaither, Gloria Gaither)

My Personal Favorites:
Jesus And John Wayne
Go Ask
The Diff'rence Is In Me
I'm Loving Life
When I Cry
Prisoner of Hope

The mixture of genres of music is wonderful. :-) I don't usually go straight to my preferred songs but listen to the recording as a whole.

Monday, August 16, 2010

LotR -- Return of the King -- 2004

Lord of the Rings
Return of the King

Rated: PG-13 for violence and frightening images
My Rating: 5 Stars

Elijah Wood
Sean Astin
Billy Boyd
Dominic Monaghan
Cate Blanchett
Ian McKellen
Viggo Mortensen
Bernard Hill
Miranda Otto
Andy Serkis
John Noble
Orlando Bloom
John Rhys-Davies
David Wenham
Hugo Weaving

“I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you.”

The triumphant finale of The Lord of the Rings.

After Saruman's defeat at Helm's Deep and the Ents' march against Isengard, Sauron wastes no time in sending his armies and wrath upon the last city of men who have not set their allegiance with him: Gondor.

Pippin looked into the Palantir and saw the coming doom. With this knowledge, Gandalf takes him and rides hard to Gondor in hopes of averting disaster. Here we see for the first time the magnificence of the White City, built into the mountain. Here we see Lord Denethor, father to Boromir and Faramir, whom we have come to respect. And with his first words, we feel his weakness... and madness.

Sam and Frodo are being led ever closer to their destination: the land of Mordor and Mount Doom. Where the One Ring was made, there only in it's fires can it be destroyed. But their companion, Gollum, is treacherous. Frodo is blinded by his burden but Sam suspects and it leads to an ever broadening rift in their friendship. Gollum looks on with glee and leads them on to their doom.

Those surviving from the battle of Helm's Deep gathered at the city of Rohan. There they wait for word after Pippin and Gandalf leave for Gondor. When the beacons were lit in a summons for aid, King Theoden gathered his men from all regions and with his army of 6000, answered the call. Together with Aragorn's army of the dead, they defeated Sauron and Gondor still stood.

But it is only one battle and there  must be another to end all. Until the ring is destroyed, Sauron will always gain power. Frodo passed from Gandalf's sight into the land of Mordor where Gandalf fears there is no hope for ever destroying the ring. Sauron would feel it calling to him and his eye would soon be upon them... unless something attracted his attention elsewhere. Aragorn, as heir to the throne of Gondor, leads an army against Mordor's very gates. There, they use a trick as old as time: diversion.

But Frodo and Sam are running out of strength as they battle weakness and pain and the Eye itself. Is there any hope? Can there be a happy ending after such darkness and evil? But as with life, what seems like the end is a beginning and when all hope is lost, it is the moment when Truth shows His hand.

1: The battle of Gondor with Rohan and the army of the dead. I love the comment about Pirate scum always being late.
2: The humor is wonderful, once again.
3: Aragorn and Arwen are together, at last.
4: I appreciate the fact that Eowyn and Faramir are going to be wed, as well.
5: How a woman killed Sauron's General. :-)
6: Eowyn riding into battle, taking Merry with her.
7: The Separate adventures of Merry and Pippin. They are amusing while apart... and amusing together.
8: I find it fascinating and horrifying that Gollum had to be the one to destroy The Ring.
9: Although there wasn't what I would consider a happy ending for Frodo, he was content with it. Yes, he was sad to leave The Shire and his loved ones, but he was ready to leave a world of pain and sorrow and struggle... it's almost like a Christian's perspective on death and eternal life.
10: I think my favorite scene is right after Aragorn charges the gates with his sword and guess who is right behind him, yelling their hearts out?

What I Didn't Like:
1:A couple of untied threads that I didn't understand until reading the books: In the movie, it is mentioned that Lord Denethor had foreseen the evil that was to come but they don't say how he had foreseen. In the books, it is explained that he had been using one of the nine lost seeing stones and Sauron had deceived him by letting him see only the defeats and horror.
But I think they did this purposely since they would have had to include more scenes with the Palantirs and, perhaps, explain as did the book, that Palatirs are not necessarily an evil. This may have offended many viewers.

2: In the books, the ending of Saruman and Wormtongue is shown. I think it would have added more to the movie if they had included this. However, I think they were running out of time. I would really like to watch the extended version of the movies.

Things to Remember:
1: The land of Mordor and everything that happens in it, is backwards.
2: Tolkien stated specifically in his books that the story was not allegorical and it was not to be taken so. With that in mind, you can embrace what you wish to and ignore the rest. Lol. Or you can do exactly as he wished the partakers of his story to do: enjoy it for what it is; nothing more, nothing less.
3: As dark as this movie may seem, there is more light.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Freaky Friday -- 2003

Freaky Friday

Rated G
My Rating: 4 Stars

Jamie Lee Curtis
Lindsay Lohan
Mark Harmon
Harold Gould
Chad Michael Murray
Stephen Tobolowsky
Christina Vidal
Ryan Malgarini

“Whoa! She's blind!”

This film would have gotten 5 stars, had it not been for a few things listed below. It's an amazing film. Bravo to the actors and director and everyone else who was involved in the making of this film. It was hilarious, sweet and totally unique.

Have you ever wished you could trade places with someone else for the day? Ever been envious because someone else seems to have a perfect life and yours is full of troubles? Think again.

Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her daughter Anna (Lindsay Lohan) have one or two things in common, one being that they share the same last name. Oh. They also live in the same house. They get along about as well as a cat and dog and the pet canary (they don't have one; it was just a simile). Tess is a psychiatrist; Anna plays in a rock band. Tess is getting married again; Anna likes a boy but isn't sure if he likes her and she definitely doesn't like her Mom's boyfriend. Tess loves her son Harry; Anna hates her brother.

But the climax comes when (1: Tess is getting married in two days. (2: Anna is in detention twice in one day. (3: The band gets an opportunity to play at a big concert (just one song!) but it's in the evening of Tess and Ryan's wedding rehearsal/dinner. Tess says absolutely not; that's ridiculous. Why would Anna even think of asking something like that of her?! Unfortunately (or perhaps not), Anna asked the question while they were at their favorite Chinese restaurant and someone overheard the argument that followed.

Just at the climax if their anger towards each other, a Chinese grandmother toddles up to them, offering each a fortune cookie bearing this legend: “A journey soon begins, it's prize reflected in another's eyes. When what you see is what you lack, then selfish love will change you back.” Immediately afterwards, an earthquake shook the building and all thoughts of weddings, auditions and elderly Chinese ladies with silvers trays out of their heads.

That night, however, something strange happened. At least, that's what Tess thought when she woke up... in Anna's room. Suddenly, she discovered that she was not only in Anna's room, she was also in Anna's body! And true to form, Anna was in Tess' room, in Tess' body.

This set of circumstances would have dismayed anybody but it doubly dismayed Anna and Tess. The wedding is... tomorrow. Can they be changed back? If so, how?

What I Liked:
1: This movie was brilliantly acted. I was constantly amazed at the actors and how well they played their parts. Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, especially.
2: The lessons the viewer learns while watching this movie are numerous. I was also surprised how several of them came about.
3: The twists... I wouldn't have thought of half of them.
4: The romance.
5: The humor. I kept laughing out loud throughout the entire film. Bravo!
6: Even though I'm not into rock, I must say, I was impressed by the musical abilities of the bad. They were pretty good. :-)

What I Didn't Like:
1: The rock music gave me a headache.
2: Some crude references. Nothing terrible but not especially good either. :-P

Things to Know:
1: Some immodesty. Nothing that didn't help the film but...
2: There is a lot of rock.
3: Some typically dressed/styled teens.
4: Mean pranks played by some of the characters.
5: The Chinese grandmother practiced 'magic' on Tess and Anna.

I repeat, however, this story is amazing.

“Well, when you get your body back, it's grounded.”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Curly Top -- 1935

Curly Top

Rated G
My Rating: 4 Stars

Shirley Temple
John Boles
Rochelle Hudson
Jane Darwell

Based on the book 'Daddy Long Legs'. Shirley Temple gives a musical performance that is altogether adorable. I was very impressed with 99% of her performance... it was very natural, therefore, cute. ;-)

Elizabeth lives at an orphanage with her older sister, Mary. Their parents were actors before they died so both girls were quite gifted in music and dancing. Mary promised she would stay always with Elizabeth so even though she was too old for the orphanage, she paid her board by cleaning and cooking there. Elizabeth was quite a little persona and continually got into trouble with her antics. But she is so precious that the ladies can't bear to punish her too badly and life went on with her pony and duck. Then, the orphanage trustees come for a visit. They ranged from 99% old and strict to 1% young and amused. The young and amused happened to Mr. Edward Morgan who had recently come into his inheritance upon his father's death... the orphanage ladies wanted desperately to stay on his good side but things nearly got out of hand when one of the other trustees demanded that Elizabeth (who accidentally insulted him with her mimicking) be put into an institution.

After a conference between Elizabeth and himself in the study, he decides he is going to adopt her as his own. Elizabeth was delighted but there was one thing Mr. Morgan didn't know about her... Mary. But no problem. He decides to adopt them both. Well, sort of. He says he's adopting them for a mysterious benefactor who is in Europe, therefore cannot be met at the present time.

So Elizabeth and Mary go from rags to riches beyond their wildest dreams. And don't forget about the pony and duck! :-) “Oh my goo'ness!” They all live happily together and enjoy the challenges and pleasures of family life for some time.

But there is romance in the air... Mary has fallen desperately in love with Edward Morgan and he with her, but neither realize their feelings for the other. It's up to Miss Curly Top herself to play matchmaker... though very innocently. You can be assured that when Shirley Temple is involved, the story ends happily for all. :-)

What I Liked:
1: Some of the lines were so cute. There is something about watching Shirley Temple on the big silver screen... I don't know. It's like having a huge dish of perfect chocolate set in front of me and being told to, 'Eat up!' :-)
2: It was super clean, of course.
3: The humor was fun.
4: You get a big dose of modest swim suits. Lol!
5: Some of the songs are really catchy and nice.
6: When the orphanage ladies were crying.
7: The butler and the cook.

What I Didn't Like:
1: Some of the songs went on half of forever.
2: The occasional stiffness. This movie is actually one of the best I've seen from the 30's, though. You just can't be stiff with Shirley Temple. :-)
3: That being said, the worst actor on the movie was John Boles. :-P He could have been fairly good looking but every time he laughed or tried to be cute... well, let's just say I didn't care for his performance.

If you like B&W movies, I think you'll enjoy this film. Actresses come and go but there are some that never grow old; Shirley Temple being in the top ten. :-)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Alfred Tennyson -- Claribel -- A Melody

A Melody

Alfred Tennyson

Where Claribel low-lieth
The breezes pause and die,
Letting the rose-leaves fall:
But the solemn oak-tree sigheth,
Thick-leaved, ambrosial,
With an ancient melody
Of an inward agony,
Where Claribel low-lieth.

At eve the beetle boometh
Athwart the thicket lone:
At noon the wild be hummeth
About the moss'd headstone:
At midnight the moon cometh,
And looketh down alone.
Her song the lintwhite swelleth,
The clear-voiced mavis dwelleth,
The callow throstle lispeth,
The slumbrous wave outwelleth,
The babbling runnel crispeth, 
The hollow grot replieth
Where Claribel low-lieth. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

LotR -- The Two Towers -- 2003

Lord of the Rings
The Two Towers

Rated: PG-13 for violence and frightening images
My Rating: 5 Stars

Elijah Wood
Sean Astin
Billy Boyd
Dominic Monaghan
Miranda Otto
Orlando Bloom
Ian McKellen
Viggo Mortensen
Andy Serkis
Karl Urban
John Rhys-Davies
Liv Tyler
David Wenham
Cate Blanchett
Christopher Lee
Brad Dourif
Bernard Hill
Craig Parker

“An alliance once existed between Elves and Men. Long ago we fought and died together. We come to honor that allegiance.”

The Fellowship of The Ring has been broken. Gandalf has entered Shadow. Boromir met his death defending Merry and Pippin from Orcs. Merry and Pippin were captured by the Orcs Boromir hadn't killed and were borne away towards the tower of Isengard and traitor Saruman. Frodo and Sam make their way to Mordor, alone in a lonely, desolate land. Or maybe not so alone...

Knowing they can do nothing more in Frodo's quest, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli decided they were not going to leave Merry and Pippin to their fate of torture and death. So they go chase some Orc, to quote Aragorn. Three days and nights of neither food nor rest later leave them wondering if they will overtake the enemy in time.

Meanwhile evil is brewing in the city of Rohan, one of the last cities of men in Middle Earth who haven't succumbed to the evil power. Saruman has possessed it's king, Theodred and has killed or driven out most who are honorable. In their wake is left Eowyn, niece of the King, to the wiles of Saruman's ambassador, Wormtongue. Her courage wavers as her brother, cousin, uncle and all those dearest to her are taken and she alone is left with evil all around her.

Uruk-hai are more powerful than typical Orcs because they can travel in daylight. Their armor and weapons are strong and numerous. They can run at great speeds and distances without food and water. The traitor Saruman has a host of 10,000. His armies combined with those of Sauron makes a formidable force that appears invincible. Here too, we first see the dread Nazgul and shudder at their approach.

All those of Middle Earth are forced to decide with who their allegiance stands, and those who believe in Truth begin to wonder if it is a fool's hope. But Truth should never be taken lightly and Saruman has forgotten how many allies It has.

Again, the entire movie is phenomenal but here are a few of the highlights:
1: Eowyn, daughter of Kings.  I love how courageous she is. I love how she did what she had to do. She wasn't always submissive but she wasn't always rebellious. The fact that she was beautiful didn't hurt either. :-) Miranda Otto was wonderful playing this character... in fact, the movies wouldn't have been as good if she hadn't gotten the part.
2: Peter Jackson knows exactly how to leave the viewer hanging and wishing for more. The story could have gotten long and dull but the way he broke the story up into fragments kept it interesting.
3: Scenery shots on this movie were lovely. In fact, they are so majestic and beautiful that there really are no words for it.
4: I really enjoyed the battle of Helm's Deep. In fact, it is my favorite part of the movie. :-)
5: Elves. I still get goosebumps when Haldir and his army come to aid Rohan. I have watched it again and again and I'm still not tired of it. I must admit to feeling a great sadness when Haldir is killed. He doesn't appear often in the movies but when he does, he inspires honor and righteousness and devotion.
6: I really appreciate how they kept the romance theme throughout the movies. This is one area in which they changed the books that I felt was good. In the books, you almost forget that Arwen exists. By including more of Arwen, the story feels more connected.
7: When the Ents overthrow Isengard and Saruman is left without power. It's so satisfying. Lol. :-)
8: Andy Serkis as Gollum/Smeagol was an excellent casting. He is truly a disgusting and pitiful creature. You find yourself very wrapped up in his story and fate.
9: There is more light in this film, I think. In the books, there was a lot of singing and dancing... I appreciate how they included a little more of it in The Two Towers. I do wish they had done more because some of the songs in the books are really lovely. Tolkien was a wonderful poet.
10: There are several themes that run through the movies/books. One of them is the friendship/enmity between Legolas and Gimli. It makes for a wonderful story and lots of humor.
11: The humor, once again, is excellent.
12: The score... the music for Rohan and the battle of Helm's Deep are my favorites.

“I'm wasted on cross-country. We dwarves are natural sprinters. Very dangerous over short distances.”

Things to Know:
1: Palantirs are shown again.
2: There is magic.
3: There is a reason it's rated PG-13 (or 14A Canadian)... there are parts that are really scary for kids. Parents be cautioned.
4: Again, those who don't care for the darkness, be warned.

What I Didn't Like:
1: I didn't understand the scene where Gollum attacks Sam and Frodo until I read the books. They had spotted him and were only pretending to be asleep. Also, the rope they put around the creature's neck was elvish, therefore, it burned his skin. Thus, the complaints. :-)

If you want to further your education in literature, I would suggest Lord of the Rings. Watching/reading LotR has raised my standards... I tend to compare everything I read or watch to LotR. In my opinion, there are few stories out there that can compare, the Bible being one of those few.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Battle of the Smithsonian -- 2008

Night At the Museum 2
Battle of the Smithsonian

Rated PG for some violence and language
My Rating: 5 Stars

Ben Stiller
Amy Adams
Owen Wilson
Hank Azaria
Robins Williams
Christopher Guest
Alain Chabat
Steve Coogan
Ricky Gervais
Bill Hader
Jon Bernthal

“I'm sorry, but we're all full up in our axis of evil today. Sorry.” [Kahmunrah] (Hank Azaria)

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) has a new job. He finally had a success with a flashlight... the Glow in the Dark flashlight. In fact, he actually owns a prospering company entitled, “Daley Devices”. He enjoys the fame and the money and the new apartment... but he feels as though he's missing something from his life.

One night, he decided he needed to go see his friends at the Museum of Natural History (if you haven't seen “Night at the Museum” you should watch it first) to talk about the old times. But when he arrived, he found everything in disarray. All of the waxworks were in boxes and packing peanuts with new displays to replace them. Larry's friends were being shipped to Washington D.C. to find their final resting place in the archives of the Smithsonian.

“Larry, I can see that you're genuinely slightly bothered about this.” [Octavius] (Steve Coogan)

Larry is bothered about the changes. Especially when he realized that the tablet of Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) was staying was staying behind at the Museum of Natural History with him, along with Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) and Rexy. But truth be told, he wouldn't have done anything about it (other than trying to [unsuccessfully] convince the board of directors that the museum loved the waxworks) if he hadn't received a phone call the next evening from... Jed (Owen Wilson), of all people.

Dexter had snitched the tablet before slipping into his crate (and smashing Larry's fingers). Therefore, the entire Smithsonian, the largest museum in the world, had come to life. And there was someone there who wanted that tablet above of all else.

“I am Kahmunrah. I am half-god, once removed on my mother's side.”

That someone was Akhmenrah's older, much meaner brother. He knows more about the tablet than he should and he intends to use it to it's maximum power. He wants to rule the world. And it will be up to Larry and his friends to stop him. But can they outwit someone as evil as Kahmunrah and his buddies... Ivan the Terrible (“...the correct translation is 'Ivan the Awesome'... I wasn't terrible. I was, in fact, quite an effective leader.”) (Christopher Guest) and Al Capone (“...ok. You hang onto French Toast and...) (Jon Bernthal) and all his other evil companions.

“You don't seem very bad. You just seem sort of vaguely grouchy to me.” [Kahmunrah speaking to Oscar the Grouch]

What I Liked:
1: This film was the same type of story as the original but included so many new and different dimensions that it seemed very much like it's own.
2: Well acted, well directed, etc, etc. Wonderful movie, period.
3: The humor. It's great. Make sure to watch the deleted scenes. I love watching young Al Capone talk to the old Al Capones. “Did you know about this? I'm gonna be fat!”
4: The score. Very pretty.
5: I love how they got so many well known people to play on this film. As Shawn Levy said, sometimes, they didn't even have to ask. That's great. They deserve recognition for the great work they created with both films.

6: The adventure really does get scary when you're watching it for the first time.
7: There is a moral to the story, as well. And more history. :-)
8: The Thinker.
9: Art coming to life. That was a brilliant idea! One of my favorite things about the movie. :-)
10: When Octavius and Jed (in slow motion) attack the enemies feet with swords. How can something be so awe inspiring and funny at the same time? Only with Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan.
11: Dexter is back... with a friend. :-) “You smack. You kick. You smack. You kick.”
12: The little Einsteins. They made me laugh out loud.
13: And of course, the romance. It was rather nice. :-)
14: Orville and Wilbur Wright. You do rock, guys. Keep eating ice-cream. (For those of you who don't know, the actors were the script writers of both films... and they finally got a few lines to say. :-))
15: Make sure to listen to both of the commentaries. They are both highly informative and one especially is hilarious.

What I Didn't Like:
1: Some of the score is a little too rocky for my liking but it is in passing. :-)

“Adios, Bird-brains!” [Jed]