Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Twelfth Night: Or What You Will -- 1996

Twelfth Night: Or What You Will

Rated: PG for mild thematic elements
My Rating: 4 Stars

Imogen Stubbs
Toby Stephens
Helena Bonham Carter
Steven Mackintosh
Imelda Staunton
Mel Smith
Richard E. Grant
Ben Kingsley

My introduction to Shakespeare was this film. I do not know enough about Shakespeare to recommend this film on any other grounds than the fact that I found it enjoyable. Other than Shakespeare, this movie is wonderful.

It is a tale of two love stories and how they came about. It would seem that Shakespeare loved the unconventional. ;-)

Once upon a time in the land of Shakespeare's mind there were identical twins.Viola and Sebastian were their names and their hearts and minds were entwined deeply. When their ship sinks during a storm, they become separated and each think the other is lost. When Viola and some of her fellow shipmates wash ashore in Illyria, her heart is so burdened and heavy with grief that she feels she cannot live.

What saved her was coming upon a funeral. The sight of the beautiful Countess Olivia weeping over the grave of a dearly departed brother wrung the heart of our poor Viola, who's own grief and loss mirrored the Lady's. Her only thought was of how she could ease the suffering of this other sister who stood so broken and helpless with agony.

Then, she heard the rumors: Duke Orsino. He adored Countess Olivia with his heart, mind and soul. Had it been his heart alone in question, the two would have been married that very day. But the Countess Olivia was quite determined in her refusal of him. When Viola heard this, her mind was set in it's course. She would dress as her brother and serve the Duke. She would become his trusted friend and confident. She would be the go-between in the courtship of the Duke and Countess Olivia. She would bring her lady much joy and comfort. Viola had wonderful intentions.

What I Liked:
1: The story, of course. :-) It's beautiful and hilarious and so Shakespeare. 
2: The actors. They are all wonderful and true to their characters. So alive.
3: The humor is very laughable. 
4: The music. Ben Kingsley was amazing. 
5: The psychology of the film was well done and left the viewer scrambling to keep up.
6: The spirit of the film is dark and troubled... and it remains this way through the entire film, with little splashes of light. Well done! 

Things to Know:
1: When Viola is making her transformation, she dresses partly on screen. 
2: Some sensuality. It never goes beyond kissing but there are a couple implications.
3: Beware of statues in the garden... and someone reads Amour in the evening.
4: Cruelties done towards Malvolio just for the sake of cruelty. (Alternately horrifying and hilarious.)
5: This film is intense; full of twists and surprises. Watch with your mind open. 
6: There is drinking and quite a lot of drunkenness. 
7: As with all media, view with discretion. :-)

I had such a difficult time researching... so, when I found these reviews, I felt I needed to include them. They give interesting insight.

Do I recommend this film? :-) It is intense from the first moments. It grasps you and throws you into a world. It's dark and whimsical; realistic and magical; humorous and sad; hopeless and hope filled. Yes, I recommend it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stéphanie Labbé -- Vert Green -- 2008

Vert Green

Stéphanie Labbé

1. Fisher Hornpipe - Quadrille Montcalm
2. L’acadienne
3. Valse 2
4. Naphtalie Billette - Reel des poilus
5. Danse Écossaise
6. Pot-pourri papa
    Big John McNeil
    Angus Campbell
    Joyeuse Québécoise
7. Reel révolutionnaire
8. Westmoreland Hornpipe
9. Reel du pendu
10. Valse Westphalia
11. Clog du sac recyclé
12. 4 coins de St-Malo
13. Vert - Green

I met Stéphanie Labbé for the first time at Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party, where she was hired as an instructor. 

You know what? I wrote that sentence, then sat here, staring blankly at my screen. I'm trying to find words that describe Stéphanie and her music. Lol. She is an amazing person. There just isn't a way I can tell you who she is... you have to meet her. 

I'll never forget the night of her concert at camp. It was fiddle like I've never heard it before. It was out of this world; it was electrifying; it was pulsing; it was definitely French. She got three standing ovations in fifteen minutes. 

But it wasn't just the music that caught the crowd. It was Stéphanie. 

She's from Quebec. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Maple Leaf Country , that's French Canada. Do they speak a lot of English over there? From those I've met, I'd say negative. In her concert, Stéphanie was up on stage, trying to speak to a very Saskatchewan crowd (which means we may speak Hungarian, Ukrainian or Polish but mostly, we're illiterate when it comes to French) in English. Her command of the language wasn't that great at the time but she tried. :-) She had everyone shrieking with laughter more times than once and you felt that she laughed the hardest. 

But again, I bring you attention to her music! It is so alive. It brings a person onto their feet without thought or reason. We all know that recordings are rarely as good as live. However, there are a few artists I really enjoy and I listen to their CD's over and over. One of them is Stéphanie Labbé. Her music is a gift. 

Visit her website: www.stephanielabbe.com

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Prince of Persia -- The Sands of Time -- 2010

Prince of Persia
The Sands of Time

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action
My Rating: 4 Stars

Mike Newell
Jerry Bruckheimer

Jake Gyllenhaal
Gemma Arterton
Ben Kingsley
Alfred Molina
Ronald Pickup
Richard Coyle
Toby Kebbell

From the first moment I heard that Jerry Bruckheimer had produced a movie from the concept of the game "Prince of Persia", I wanted to see it. A few days later, I was walking out of a store with it in my hand.

I really enjoyed it. In fact, I could watch it again! Yes, I do see the faults. It is only a mirrored surface of what could have been epic. It gives you just a little taste of the truth and some mixed up ideas about the rest. None the less, I must admit to loving it; I had delightful shivers all the way through it. I love Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones and Star Wars, too. What can I say? ;-)

Nizam: What a glorious mess we are.

Legend had slowly weakened over the centuries until it was only a whisper in the wind; secret from the world and the evils that dwelt in it. The truth lay in the bosom of a sacred city and would have stayed, safely sheltered... But there was evil. There was greed and selfishness and corrupt hearts. There was death trapped in a mind and the embers of it glowed and smoldered until the captive was ready to give up his soul.

Persia was the most powerful empire in the world. In fact, the world had become Persian. All bowed, all paid homage. All acknowledged it's power.... Or should we say almost all?

King Sharaman was a ruler for such a Kingdom. He was wise and dispassionate. His heart was for Persia, his sons and his family. His wisdom had shown itself in many forms but the strangest of these had been in regards to the little beggar he had taken off the streets. 

"A great man would have stopped what he knew what was wrong, no matter who was ordering it."

Dastan was not a typical Prince. Probably because he wasn't of loyal blood. Oh yes, he was cocky and irritating and knew everything. But he knew how to fight and he knew how to pick his friends. He knew about the bonds of brotherhood. And he was about to learn about being a real man. 

The story begins as the three sons of Sharaman are debating whether to attack the sacred city of Alamut. A spy had intercepted weapons being transported from Alamut to Persia's enemies. Prince Tus was the oldest and Crown Prince, therefore, in command. Orders from his father had been to not attack Alamut and he did not wish to disregard them. Garsiv, the second son who was brave and fierce, declared that such orders would surely change with turn of events. Dastan was not sure.

The matter was decided when Nizam, the trusted brother of the King, quietly told them this was for the good of Persia. Their hearts turned to his bidding. Because of their trust in him, their minds firmly closed to the murmur of their hearts.

It didn't hurt that rumor had it that Princess Tamina, the ruler of Alamut, was drop dead gorgeous.

Tamina: Must feel wonderful winning such claim for destroying such an innocent city.
Dastan: Oh, a pleasure to meet you too, Princess.

What I Liked:
1: The bond of family and brotherhood is expressed very beautifully in this story.
2: Some very excellent truths were taught.
3: I think this is the first time I've actually seen on screen a decent portrayal of falling in love. They chose to love each other.
4: Pretty awesome acting.
5: Love, love, love the score. It was amazing.
6: The humor was well placed.
Sheir Amar: Tch, secret government killing activity! That's why I don't pay taxes! 
7: The princess is rarely ill-dressed. I could show this film to my brothers. Yay!!
8: I have always loved watching people escape using their own feet, hands and general athleticism. ;-) (One of the reason I enjoyed Mall Cop)
9: Although there are many faults to this film, I believe it's worth watching. I learned from it and I was inspired.
10: The film was fairly clean. Only a couple things I thought could have been thrown out.

What I Didn't Like:
1: I do get caught up in these things, I admit. But they bother me, so: the snakes rattled before biting and there were no rattles on the ends of said snakes' tails. And Jake Gyllenhaal decided that he liked Harrison Ford so much he needed to smile like him. So annoying. :-P
2: Many details were missing regarding culture and some bloopers about language, etc. This was definitely a Hollywood film  that expects you to be carried away with the action.
3: The fact that this film had the potential of being an epic, a masterpiece... and it isn't. I have a little understanding of how much work and effort and time that goes into a movie, so I can't criticize too much. I just wish they had been able to make this film into what it could have been.
4: Some sensuality that was so not needed. It didn't help the story at all. For the record, it was basically a glance and a question that aren't particularly harmful but it ruined the moment that I had been enjoying.

Things to Know:
1: Some magic.
2: Some Eastern religious views were referred to and promoted.
3: The entire story was based on a Noah's ark legend. Interesting.

As with all films, watch with discernment. If you enjoy desert, sheiks, princes, poison, lots of action, snakes, really bad bad guys, good guys who aren't perfect, beautiful princesses, clean romance and ostriches, this is for you. :-)