Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lady in the Water -- 2006

Lady in the Water
(2006)

Rated PG-13 for frightening sequences
My Rating: 4 Stars

M. Night Shyamalan


Paul Giamatti
Bryce Dallas Howard 
Sarita Choudhury
M. Night Shyamalan
Cindy Cheung
June Kyoto Lu
Bob Balaban
Freddy Rodriguez


Of all fantasy movies, I would have to say this one is my favorite. I love how graceful and whimsical it is... and yet, so frightening and repulsive. When I watched it I felt I was looking at myself, my life. The story opened my eyes to some realities that I had not come to terms with. 


Summary: 
In Philadelphia, there was an apartment complex. In this complex there lived some anonymous people. All of them were hiding from the world, their reality, in one way or another. There was a man who worked cross word puzzles incessantly, a large Hispanic family with five hysterical daughters, Reggie the body builder who only works out half of his body, an animal lover who is reaching the end of her middle years, an Asian mother and daughter who constantly fight, a group of five nameless smokers, the man who never speaks, etc, etc, and of course, Cleveland Heep, the apartment's maintenance man. 




When it comes to keeping the place from falling around his ears, Cleveland Heep is competent and seemingly content. He has a speech impediment that keeps him 'safe' from conversation and even safer from friendships. The first time we see him, he is showing the latest tenant to said tenant's newly taken apartment and shielding him, rather unsuccessfully I might add, against some of the more obnoxious tenants. My first impression of Cleveland Heep's character was how comfortable he was with his life... the man seemed to ooze with pained satisfaction as he toiled on and on. As if he was endlessly, thankfully busy and alone.

But there was something happening with the complex pool and it bothered him. The water kept getting slimy, as if kids were swimming in it at night. After having the filter cleaned a couple times because of it, he was getting downright upset and decided to wait the night up to catch the culprits.


Sure enough, that night there was a disturbance in the pool and he went out to investigate. He could see nothing at first but catches a glimpse of someone trying to grab something off a lawn chair sitting beside the pool. Very frustrated at the intrusion of his normality, he let go of reason and entered the pool in hopes of catching whoever it was. No such luck. Further problems awaited him outside the pool when his feet slipped out from under him and he hit his head on the concrete surround. Unconscious, his body slips into the pool.

When he woke up, he found himself in his apartment, soaking wet, with a huge goose egg taking possession of his head. Groggily, he looks around and tries to sit up. Then he sees her.

She tells him her name is Story.


What I Liked:
1: I loved the fairytale. Fairytales are called fairytales because they aren't (usually!) realistic. This one was beautiful unrealistic and full of symbolism.
2: How clean the film was... but there was enough innuendo to help the story flow better. Sorry, you'll have to watch it. ;-)
3: The humor. It's so wacky and laughable.
4: I love the diversity of the characters and...
5: ...the psychology of them, the story, M. Night Shyamalan, etc.
6: M. Night's movies all have a different feel to them, I think. I love the uniqueness and the freshness. It gives me a different look at movies.
7: The message of everyone, even the smallest and the one hurt most, have a purpose. But we just can't sit and wait for it.
8: I love how everything is backwards. I love how M. Night defied many story 'rules' of our western society.
9: This movie is very frightening. Not so much the 'jump' scenes but the entire story. The evil you only hear about but never see... etc, etc. And I don't think it was only because of Story's possible death but what you knew it would do to the people she was with.
10: After Story brings it, hope is never lost. No matter how awful the circumstances were, it was always there... waiting for us to grasp.

Things to Know:
1: The only clothes Story is seen in is a shirt from Cleveland's closet. There is a scene where she is implied naked and Cleveland walks in on her. It is the only scene where you feel he slapped out of his pain and made aware of her femininity. He tells her to put on her clothes. We see her knees down, nothing else.
2: Some very frightening scenes and suspense moments.
3: I appreciate the morality and message of this film. It is good. Keep in mind that truth is truth, regardless of where it comes from. But also keep in mind that there is no greater lie than one that is mostly true. Be discerning. Be prayerful. As with all things in this life, seek God in it and discard the rest. :-)
4: There are scenes that involve smoking, a party, drinking and someone vomiting. Just sayin'. ;-)


My Thoughts:
This movie is interesting in the controversy surrounding it. From what I read, it seems you will either love this movie or you will hate it. Some people find it way over the top. Others, find the hope and joy and purpose that M. Night Shyamalan made this story sparkle with. I would say that if you've been known to be sane and normal, you probably won't like it. ;-) Hehe. j/k

I did some research of this film. If you want to read some scathing movie reviews, check this baby out! They're rampant! They criticize the story. They criticize the methods. They almost criticize the actors he picked (then they catch themselves and admit Paul Giamatti was wonderful). They criticize the fairytale aspect. They criticize how unbelievable the story is. They criticize the fact that M. Night Shyamalan played a leading, very messianic role in the movie. They criticize... M. Night Shyamalan.

For your information, I do not group all of film critics together. But for the majority of the negative reviewers, it comes out that the most unforgivable part of the movie was M. Night's retaliation to all the critical reviews "The Village" (his previous film) received. So blatant was he that all those who spoke against "The Village" could not help but see themselves in "Lady of the Water".

You may like a film or not like a film. If you live in a country where this is permitted, you can express your opinions and tear it to pieces. But your character is shown in the way you do so. Many of the reviewers who bitterly express their disgust for M. Night Shyamalan and his work do not appreciate the same being done to them. Bitterness clouds the mountaintops of greatness.

I will not tell you what to think of this movie. If you like it, jolly good. If not, that's fine too. But be careful not to be blinded to the messages M. Night Shyamalan may have for us... in spite of his genius faulted ideals.


"Shyamalan is far from a hack; the evidence of his genuine talent is still evident in this, easily his most spectacularly misconceived film. What he is, I suspect, is creatively paralyzed, twisted in knots by his own legacy and the legendary status to which he aspires. With every film, the knots grow tighter, and he slips further and further into impotence and irrelevance."
http://www.decentfilms.com/reviews/ladyinthewater.html


"The key to deciphering M. Night Shyamalan's fractured fairy tale, "Lady in the Water," is to remember that it is rooted in the mythology of Stephen Colbert and "The Colbert Report." It is a warning to Mankind about the dire threat posed by ferocious topiary bears in America today, and a salute to the gigantic, soaring eagle who swoops in to rescue Wet Ladies from pitiless ursine jaws and claws. Colbert oughtta sue. " 
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060720/REVIEWS/60720002








"Farber [character depicting negative film critics] is a ghastly specimen of loathsome appearance and abysmal pettiness. His mean-minded and destructive cynicism, together with an obvious inability to open his mind or his heart, are in terrible contrast to those around him, who are coming to appreciate the childlike wonder of Story and her story. Unforgivably, he actually endangers Story's chances of getting home.
As the film continued, I personally began to bow my head in humility and self-knowledge. My pen slipped from my nerveless fingers and hot teardrops fell on my notepad, like a pure and cleansing rain, blurring the vindictive remarks I had scribbled. I was ashamed ... ashamed ... that I had ever given this incredible idiot M Night Shyamalan anything approaching a good review." 



"Shyamalan doesn't really make character movies. He makes stories..." 
http://www.thehotbutton.com/today/hot.button/2006_thb/060719_wed.html


"I don’t think his movie’s have diminished in quality or effectiveness, and most importantly spiritual and emotional impact. He will never make another “Sixth Sense”, and he shouldn't...But the greatest thing about His films to me is the way it sparks hope, faith, and a sense of purpose in everything that happens on this earth—whether you are a believer or not. And personally, this movie communicates more effectively about our purpose in life than most overtly evangelical films. I realize that most critics (Christian and not) will not agree with my assessment, and many movie-goers won’t either. It’s not a matter though of agreeing with my opinion, but appreciating a work of art that lifts up what is good, pure, and idealistic, instead of what is shallow, titillating, and degrading." -- David Momberg 
http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/movies/2006/ladyinthewater2006.html

"I left the theatre in a contemplative mood, something rare when it comes to most movies. It was inspirational in the sense that it caused me to wonder what purpose God has for me, in my seemingly insignificant life. One of the characters (ironically played by the director) is given a glimpse of his future, both the horrors and the wonderful things that will come of his work, living proof that mankind cannot see beyond this moment, but our legacy as individuals and as Christians stretch into the centuries to come." -- Charity Bishop


"Lady in the Water isn’t a great film, but it certainly is a good one, a mixed bag of myth and hope and love and a commitment to acts of faith in the face of a world that folds its arms and refuses to believe. If it’s true that more and more we’ve come to expect less and less from the movies we see and value as a community, then Shyamalan is doing his part to craft original, honest stories that reflect the skills and ideas of a truly gifted filmmaker. The biggest complaints lobbied against him aren’t that he makes bad movies but that the movies themselves didn’t measure up to some arbitrary ideal that’s been planted in the viewer’s mind before they even enter the theater. And to watch movies that way is to live wearing blinders. Shyamalan’s films are striving for greatness, even — especially — if it’s on his own terms." -- Daniel Carlson 


http://www.pajiba.com/film_reviews/lady-in-the-water.php


If you want to read a good critical review, the last mentioned is probably it. He spoke with wisdom. I do not agree with him 100% but I do respect him. :-) 


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shanghai Noon -- 2000

Shanghai Noon 
(2000)

Rated: PG-13
My Rating: 4 Stars


Jackie Chan
Owen Wilson
Lucy Liu
Xander Berkeley
Brandon Merrill

This probably the funniest, most unique, fresh western that I've seen in my entire life. It had so many twists and turns that I was kept on the edge of my seat, alternately laughing and shocked. 


Roy O'Bannon: "There are some things in this world that are just plain wrong and stealing a princess is one of them."


Summary: 
In The Forbidden City of China there lived beautiful princess Pei Pei, her father and the "pig" her father was forcing her to marry. Also living in the city were thousands of imperial guards who's entire lives were purposed in serving the royalty of their country. Among these was a man who dared think outside of the box and caught a glimpse of the Princess. It was in the moment Chong Wang saw her face that his heart was smitten. Probably he would have gone through his life hopelessly in love had it not been through a series of events in which Princess Pei Pei was kidnapped and held for ransom.

Three Imperial Guards were chosen to bring the amount of gold requested to the appointed place. Chong Wang was not among them but, feeling that it was his fault the Princess had been abducted, he begged to be allowed to accompany them and bring the Princess back to China. In the end, it was agreed to accept his request because there was high hopes of the 'foreign devils' ridding China of his presence.

So they set off for Nevada, USA, to do or die. The Wild West that awaited them was not prepared for such loyalty and devotion while the Chinamen were not prepared for knots the Wild West would throw at them. Chong Wang was especially not prepared for Roy O'Bannon: wild and woolly outlaw of a really mean... uh... gang. Train Robbers. Sort of. Wannabes. Yeah.


Gang member: "Is that the train?"

Unfortunately for Roy and his gang, they decide to rob the train that is carrying Chong Wang, his uncle, the other Imperial Guards (they didn't know about that until later) and the gold to ransom the Princess (they didn't know about that until much later!). Perhaps their paths wouldn't have crossed at all but the newest member of Roy's gang got a little trigger happy and killed Chong Wang's uncle. Roy is upset and hustles his gang out of the passenger car to car containing the safe. But no sooner have they left the car when Chong Wang happens on the scene. His grief on finding his uncle's lifeless form is soon overrun with anger and he swears to avenge his murder.

It doesn't take long for him to foil the poor gang's plans and to get Roy O'Bannon in one big heap of trouble. But amazingly, even in the most difficult circumstances Chong Wang's idealistic attitude and devotion rub off on whomever he touches... and of all the people he meets, he changes Roy the most.


Chong Wang: "He took the gold."
Roy O'Bannon: "Is that all you're worried about? Shame on you."

What I Liked:
1: The acting. As you know, Owen Wilson is one of my favorite actors. This is the first movie I've seen Jackie Chan in and I already appreciate him.
2: The humor. It was really, really funny. Jackie Chan's silent comedy was to die for. And of course, Owen Wilson's lines were as great as always. :)



3: Soundtrack was good.
4: Lots of gags and little details that one has to look for carefully. I love watching a movie three or four times and still finding new things to laugh about.
5: Although rated PG-13... the sexuality was toned down. It wasn't nearly as bad as I had been anticipating.
6: Not much language.
7: There is a mystery... I love mysteries.
8: I really like the look at the Chinese culture. It definitely wasn't complete but it was enough to give me a taste.
9: Happy endings for the good guys are always my favorites.

What I Didn't Like:
1: The sexual implications/brothel visits/etc/etc. It never goes "too far" but still... some of it they definitely could have taken out. For more details visit: www.charitysplace.com/review/shanghainoon.htm
2: Some language. It wasn't over the top but some people might have a problem with it.

Things to Know:
1: There is some crude humor regarding a wet shirt and prison bars. Lol. It makes me laugh every time just because it's so appropriate it doesn't seem crude. But I understand why people would find it offensive. I would had it been in any other context.
2: This movie is not realistic in many ways but it didn't bother me this time because the movie is a satire/comedy. You can get away with a lot if you make me laugh. :-P

Do I recommend this movie? If you like westerns and you like spoofs and you don't mind laughing at yourself, go for it. This movie touched my soul and still made me smile.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Green and Black Organic Chocolate



I became a Green and Black fan quite suddenly. I will never forget the moment it happened. As a rule, I do not like organic chocolate because the only organic chocolate that I had had tasted was waxy, nearly flavorless and general mockery of the that OTHER food group.

But I love caramel with chocolate. I just do. It's this weakness of mine that I can't help. So while in Regina, Saskatchewan's own http://www.dadsnutrition.com/ and happened to see this:



I knew I was going to have to try it. I mean, for that price and with caramel? How bad could it be?!

How can I explain what it was like?

Chocolate. Pure. Unadulterated. Healthy for me. Chocolate.

Caramel. Smooth. Drippy. But not too drippy. Sweet. But not too sweet. Real. Caramel.

Rich. So rich I, the worst chocoholic of them all, could only eat two small sections of the chocolate bar. That made me feel good about myself. ;-)

I was completely swept off my feet and haven't been set back down. It's been months.

Because I was so enamored, I decided to take a closer look at their website:  http://www.greenandblacks.com/ca/ and found that they don't just specialize in Caramel Milk Chocolate Bars. Indeed, their repertoire or products expands far beyond what I had ever envisioned!

They sell many different kinds of Chocolate Bars... I have personally tried the Milk Chocolate and can recommend it. I am eager to try all of their others... White, Expresso, Almond, Maya Gold, Ginger, Hazelnut and Currant, Butterscotch, Dark 85%... etc, etc.


Then, I discovered something else about Green and Black Organic Chocolate: they sell Cocoa, Hot Chocolate Mix, Hazelnut Chocolate Spread, Chocolate eggs... and they even have recipes for things like this:



If you have a chance to buy some Green and Black product, believe me, it's worth the price. You don't taste quality like this every day, and you certainly don't experience twinges of conscience after indulging. :-) 


Friday, September 24, 2010

Alice In Wonderland -- 2010

Alice In Wonderland

(2010)

Directed by:
 Tim Burton

Rated PG for violence and thematic elements
My Rating: 5 Stars

Mia Wasikowska
Johnny Depp
Helena Bonham Carter
Anne Hathaway
Crispin Glover 
Matt Lucas
Michael Sheen
Alan Rickman

I find the varying opinions on this movie to be amusing. I love this movie and my best friend can't stand it. (We're still friends, btw. ;-)) It is interesting how people do not 'kind-of-like' or 'kind of don't like' this story... they either hate it or love it.

Summary:
Alice Kingsley has been having bad dreams as long as she can remember. Well, to be factual, one bad dream. Over and over. It's about a blue caterpillar, a Cheshire cat who smiled incessantly and a strange place that she has forgotten the name of. When she was a child, her father would comfort her when she would wake up from her dream but as the days drew on and the years passed, he died and left her and her mother feeling unsettled and at loose ends.

Mad Hatter: "You used to be much... muchier. You've lost your muchness."

Alice became so muddled and unsure of who she was that one fine day, she found herself at her own (surprise) engagement party where she was expected to accept the marriage proposal of Hamish Ascot. But she wasn't sure she wants to marry Hamish, even though he is a lord (and her pretty face won't last). She looks at all the guests gathered around the gazebo, awaiting her 'yes' ... and abruptly runs away, after a rabbit in a waistcoat.

Lady Ascot: "Do you know what I fear most?"
Alice: "The decline of the aristocracy?"
Lady Ascot: "Ugly grandchildren."

Through the rose garden, behind the shrubs, over the fields and up a hill, the White Rabbit leads her on until quite suddenly, he disappears down a hole at the base of a tree. Perplexed, Alice leans down to see where he went. Her hand slips and Alice disappears too, plunging her head over heels into the vast darkness. With a shriek of terror, she falls... down, down, bouncing off pianos, books and feather beds, her hair tumbling around her face, until she finally lands on her face at the bottom.




In the very famous sequence of events, Alice finds the door, the key, the shrinking drink and growing cake and finally manages to extract herself from the room... entering into a world of magical creatures. Talking flowers, said rabbit in waistcoat, feisty doormouse and, of course, Tweedledee and Tweedledum; but they aren't interested in introductions. Much to her confusion, there seems to be some debate about whether she is the 'right Alice' or not. "How can that be?" she asks. "It's my dream!" But no, they must consult Absolem and off the Tweedles lead her with the White Rabbit and the other creatures trailing behind.






Blue Caterpillar: "Who are you?"
Alice: "Absolem?"
Blue Caterpillar: "You're not Absolem. I'm Absolem. Stupid girl."

The verdict was that she was "not hardly" Alice and they all gather around our poor heroine with such pained looks that she grows irate and pinches herself to wake up. It doesn't work. The doormouse offers a jab in the foot with her wee sword and Alice accepts the offer, thankfully. But in the middle of these proceedings, they are rudely interrupted by a surprise attack from the Red Queen's soldiers. Most of her companions are captured and carried away but Alice manages to escape. Though escape to where she is not sure.



This is when, after a brief moment of vapors, Cheshire Cat appears with his ceaseless grin and droll voice and manages to persuade Alice to accompany him to the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. Ironically, in face of madness, life begins to be sane again and our Alice has the chance to find herself. But whether she takes that chance or not is an entirely different matter.

March Hare: "Spoon!"

What I Liked:
1: Even though this story is pure fantasy, I was able to relate to it and learn from it.
2: The acting was simply amazing.
3: The score was beautiful and one I definitely want to own someday!
4: I dislike Hamish with my entire heart. Bravo, Leo Bill. ;-)
5: This may sound contrary to the genre of fantasy, but I must say it: so many details were looked after to make this story as realistic as possible. Their efforts paid off.
6: Mia was a wonderful choice for Alice. She made the movie. The other actors were really wonderful as well (great cast!) but without the right Alice, there is no magic.
7: That although this movie is completely safe for kids to watch, there is enough substance to keep adult audiences watching in enjoyment.
8: How it discourages marrying for something other than love.
9: The message of hope.
10: Production quality is 10 or more stars. Very well done.

Doormouse: "Chess, you dog!"



Things to Know:
The message of this movie is about finding your place in life. It is a message of hope to those who feel trapped in their lives and their place in their world. You do not have to fill the role society has dictated. However, if the viewer comes with the idea that women are better than men, they may come away from this film gloating. Lol! As with all films, watch with discernment. :-)





Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Humor -- for your day






I usually lump organized religion, organized labor, and organized crime together. The Mafia gets points for having the best restaurants.  ~Dave Beard

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Are You Reading?

My name is Naomi H. and I began this blog in hopes of making a bit of income via google-ads. So far, no such luck. :-) But I haven't been terribly disappointed, I must admit. I have found greater joy in the experience of writing these reviews than I had anticipated and even more joy in a the occasional comment I received.

After spending many weeks offline I have, at last, had a chance to work on this blog and update it. I found comments I didn't realize had been posted (yay!!!). Thus, I am made curious as to how many people are reading this blog and for what reasons.

Question 1: Are you reading?
Question 2: How long have you been reading?
Question 3: Why are you reading?

If you could just take a few minutes and answer these questions... or even just a second to say, "I'm here!" I would be thrilled. Honestly. It would completely make my day. :-)

::hovers over computer in anticipation:: :-) :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dolly Parton

I have just discovered Dolly Parton. I don't know why it took me so long to discover her, but I am making up for lost time now! I love her voice. Seriously, I don't think I've heard any other female voice who could beat that sound. She is amazing.

I looked her up on Wikipedia (which, btw, I'm a frequent user of... whoever invented the concept was a genius) and found a list of her biggest hits. I've been listening to them this evening... so far, my favorites are these:

Coat of Many Colors:



Love is Like a Butterfly:



Golden Streets Of Glory:



Joshua:



Apple Jack:



I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I do. :-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Silver Chair -- 1953

The Silver Chair
(1953)

C.S. Lewis

Summary:
There once was a school called the Experiment House where some unfortunate children, who had parents or guardians of modern thought, were sent to get their education. There were a few children there who actually came to learn but the majority were a group of bullies who made life decidedly worse. At this school, there was no such thing as corporal punishment. If you were a bully, you were said to be an interesting psychological case and more likely as not, best friends with the Head.

But the bullies loved best to pick on our friend from Voyage of the Dawn Treader (who came back from his adventure greatly changed) and his friend Jill Pole. In fact, the story opens with Jill crying behind the gym because she had just come away from being picked on. Eustace Scrubb stumbled upon her and after finding out the reason for her tears, talked her into trying to slip away from the school grounds until the bullies were out of range.

Eustace had never forgotten Narnia and dearly wanted to return. But he didn't know how, except to  call on His Name. But just as they were in the middle of doing so, they heard the noise of their adversaries and forgot completely about Aslan and Narnia. In their rush to get away, they tried the door in the wall that led out to the moor. Usually it was locked up tight but this time, “by Gum!” the handle turned and the door opened. To their surprise, however, it wasn't the moor that awaited them on the other side but sunlight and smooth, green turf and a beautiful forest with singing birds winging their way from branch to tree.

Isn't it rather funny how quickly adventure was sprung upon them? Perhaps it was not exactly in the same way as before but it was just as exciting. But through all the fear and excitement and joy and pain, Aslan is never far away. When their paths were darkest and there seemed no way out, His love and mercy shone the strongest.

“Please, what task, Sir?” asked Jill.
“The task for which I called you and him here out of your own world.”
This puzzled Jill very much. “It's mistaking me for someone else,” she thought. She didn't dare to tell the Lion this, though she felt things would get into a dreadful muddle unless she did.
“Speak your thought, Human Child,” said the Lion.
“I was wondering – I mean – could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to – to Somebody – it was a name  I wouldn't know – and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did and then we found the door open.”
“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.
“Then you are Somebody, Sir?” said Jill.
“I am. ...”

What I Liked:
1: I have always enjoyed the thought of Giants and Fauns and Centaurs and all manner of fairytale creatures. Did you know that Fauns are mentioned in the Bible?
2: The allegory. I found many truths tucked away just waiting to be discovered. :-)
3: The style. Very easy to read and understand.
4: The humor.

“After that, the Head's friends saw that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an Inspector to interfere with other Heads. And when they found she wasn't much good even at that, they got her into Parliament where she lived happily ever after.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Humor in the form of YouTube

A friend showed me these YouTube videos and I wanted to share them with you. I hope you enjoy. :-) 


Rob Paravonian rants about Pachabel. 




In this video, four musicians play Pachabel's Canon in D.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader -- 1952

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
(1952)

C.S. Lewis

Summary:
“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence and masters called him Scrubb. I can't tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none. He didn't call his Father and Mother “Father” and “Mother,” but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and teetotalers and wore a special kind of underclothes.”

Eustace Clarence was very different from his cousins, the Pevensies, but he liked the thought of Edmund and Lucy coming for a visit. When he heard of their impending arrival, he immediately began to think of all the ways he could make their visit miserable. If Eustace Clarence could have seen ahead, he might not have been quite as cheerful about greeting his cousins. But as he couldn't, he proceeded to be his 'record stinker' self and succeeded so well that Lucy and Edmund were spending as much time away from him as they could.

When Aunt Alberta had gotten married, someone had given her a painting. She didn't like it very much but didn't dare to send it away for fear of offending someone. So, she stuck it in one of the back rooms that happened to be Lucy's for the visit. Whenever the two could slip away from Eustace, they would sit on her bed and look at the picture and imagine it to be ship of Narnia. One day, while they were doing so and talking about their kingdom and Aslan and all their friends there, Eustace popped in smiling disagreeably. He had been eavesdropping by the door and, having heard them speak of Narnia before, began to taunt them about their imaginations and how much they liked the picture of the ship.

Suddenly, a very strange thing happened: the picture became alive... and it didn't stop there. All three children were drawn from Lucy's room into the sea where they had to be rescued by those on the ship, which really was from Narnia. Eustace was very upset by this turn of events and demanded to be left off at the next port. But his cousins and King, whom they called Caspian, merely attended his seasickness and stowed him away in a hammock. Over the course of the next few (Narnian) days, he is kidnapped, sold as a slave, lives with little sustenance, endures horrible storms, finds a dragon and a pond that turns everything that touches them into gold, has a (talking) mouse challenge him to a duel, turns into a dragon and realizes what a beast he had been as a human, makes friends and meets Aslan.

Eustace was about to lose his position of record stinker.

What I Liked:
1: The allegory was wonderful. It was so much fun applying the adventures and characters to real life... but spiritual and not.
2: The humor is great.
3: C.S. Lewis wrote a series that doesn't grow old, regardless of how many characters are the same. And the story doesn't get confusing even though he adds many new.
4: Relationship between Reepicheep and Eustace. It made me laugh out loud.
5: Eustace's diary. Lol!
6: The fairy-tale quality to this story.
7: I love how people of all ages can enjoy this book (and the entire series) and learn from it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What A Girl Wants -- 2003

What A Girl Wants
(2003)

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

Amanda Bynes
Colin Firth
Kelly Preston
Jonathan Pryce
Oliver James
Anna Chancellor
              Christina Cole
               Ben Scholfield

“I feel like half of me is missing...”

Summary:
What does every girl want, anyway? To feel protected? To have a friend and advisor that we trust completely? To know that regardless of what choices we make, we'll always be loved? Someone to tease and banter sarcasm with? Someone who will love our mother selflessly? In short, a father?

I think deep in our hearts, the desires of all girls are the same. We might not call it by the same name or even (want to!) realize that a father figure is what we need. 'Father' is so important in a girl's life. He can lift us up to greater heights and make us want to excel in everything, even if just for the joy of pleasing him. On a sad note, that same figure can be all of our hurt... he can make us distrust every man. But a man who loves his daughter, his wife, his family, is worth his weight in gold and then some. He is priceless.

“Women are just drawn to me. It's something I happen to be blessed with.”

At the moment of blowing out her candles each birthday, Daphne Reynolds had made the same wish for as long as she could remember: that if she was good enough, her father would come. Then she, he and her mother (Kelly Preston) would all live happily ever after together in their small apartment, five stories above the streets of China Town.

But year after year passed and suddenly Daphne was no longer a child. She had become a beautiful young woman of seventeen years. And she could definitely think on her own, just the way her mother had raised her. So when Libby Reynolds discovered that her daughter had disappeared, she knew even before she listened to the recorded message where Daphne was headed: England.

“No hugs, dear. I'm British. We only show affection to dogs and horses.”


Daphne was one of those act now and figure out the details later sort of girl (attach Brit. accent). So when she arrived in the great city of London and found herself at the barred gates of the Dashwood Estate, she didn't hesitate. Over the wall she went and found herself plunged into a world she had never dreamed of. How can an all American daughter fit her way into prim and proper England? And how to do it without all the fuss, may I ask? Because there is a problem. Just a slight one, really. Her father, Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), is involved with politics. And his scheming advisors don't care for any surprises... least of all, appearances of unknown (free-thinking!) daughters as beautiful as Daphne.

“Oh, my giddy aunt!”

There's also another problem. You see, Lord Henry is engaged. And she has a daughter.

“My evil step-sister. You've seen Cinderella, right? Let me clue you in. I win.”

What I Liked:
1: I loved the acting. It's all so wonderful. :-)
2: Princess Charlotte was a great addition to the story. One wouldn't think a tactical old woman could be so delightful while prattling on about passionate kissing in the cloak room. I also loved the dog aspect of her.
3: The kitchen scene with Henry and Daphne. “Dude, it's chocolate. Need I say more?”
4: It was fun having Colin Firth and Anna Chancellor acting together again. I would love to see a movie where Anna doesn't have the evil woman part, though. She's so beautiful... but I must say, she does have the right bearing and attitude for the part she plays.
5: I liked the romance. I loved that there were two. Lol.
6: The score, when it wasn't rock, was great.
7: The look into England from a different perspective than usually seen. Yes, it was all city (i.e. crowded) but I liked seeing the rich life, the poor life, the idyllic life, etc.
8: Even though Daphne was a thinker and acted on her own impulses, I didn't get the feeling of a “rebellious daughter”. I appreciated how she was able to be both independent and submissive. That's a tricky combo to pull off regardless whether it's real life or just a movie.
9: How the 'bad guy' is revealed and the 'mystery'.
10: How this movie was basically clean. It was so refreshing and so funny... This ranks right up there with A Cinderella Story.
11: I love how it ends. But I won't tell you. ;-)


What I Didn't Like:
1: When it seemed like Daphne's father was a lost cause, she did move on, which was good. But in spite of her 'revelation' of happiness being in herself, her longings were still the same. I think it would have been better if it had shown her really changing and being happy, in spite of the circumstances.
2: Lack of some details... where did Daphne get the money to suddenly fly to England?
3: Some language/crude terms. Nothing terrible (in fact, I must admit that some of them sounded terribly funny with the British accent).
4: Daphne doesn't dress well 99% of the time. She also moves seductively. Actually, a lot of the women on the film didn't dress too well.
5: Some sexual implications with Clarissa's boyfriend... who is a jerk. It never goes very far but they are there.
6: A lot of rock 'n roll. Not my style.

I did like this movie. :-)

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Ultimate Gift -- 2006



The Ultimate Gift
(2006)

Rated PG for thematic elements, some violence and language

My Rating: 5 Stars


Drew Fuller
Bill Cobbs
Abigail Breslin
Ali Hillis
Lee Meriwether
Brian Dennehy
James Garner

I didn't think I would ever find another young actor like Dakota Fanning but after watching this film, I would say Abigail Breslin is right up there with her. :-)

Summary:
When Red Stevens (James Garner) passed away, his family expected to receive the mother-load. Instead, they were all dismayed when they received little more than they had been given during his life. And no one knows who gets the bulk of Red's estate. Not even Jason. But Jason isn't even sure he's living anymore.

Jason Stevens (Drew Fuller) has had everything money can buy since he was a baby. He had never worked a day in his life. He didn't understand the value of anything. But in spite of how spoiled he was, his grandfather saw a fire in him. He saw a man that could be untainted with money and greed and he devised a plan that he thought would change his grandson if nothing else would.

He surprised grandson with a series of gifts... the first being the gift of work. After one month, Jason had missed breakfasts, been blistered, cattle prodded and his girlfriend hadn't understood, for what he thought was a gift of money. It wasn't. He left Texas, vowing never to degrade himself in such a way ever again. To blank with his Grandfather's will and his stupid gifts.

The second gift was the gift of friendship. “You must come back to this office in one month with one true friend.” Easy? Well, when you've been rich all your life and suddenly, you have no money, no home and your mother isn't allowed to help you, you find out how many friends you really have.

That's when Emily walked into Jason's life. This little girl was just the match for trust-fund-baby Jason Stevens. When she found out she would get nothing out of a friendship with him (even though she and her mom needed money badly) she decided it would be worth a shot. For more reasons than one (“designing” would be one of the words to describe Emily). Little did Jason Stevens realize how much one little girl could teach a man... and how much a man can change in a few months.

As the months progressed on and he was given harder tasks, Jason began to understand his Grandfather and... God. And the gift in the end wasn't quite what he had been expecting.

What I Liked:
1: For an inspirational film, I would say this is the best I've watched.
2: The acting. Phenomenal! Bravo!
3: Emily... I really liked her character. She actually made me cry but three seconds later, she had me laughing hysterically.
4: The humor. With many Christian films, the humor seems second hand or it falls flat. Not with this film. It was very unexpected and effective.
5: Bill Cobbs was great. I've seen him on one other film and he was just as good. :-)
6: The romance. Of course.
7: The lessons. They can be applied so easily to my life.
8: When Jason realizes that he doesn't to be like the rest of his family. There was no reason he couldn't change the course of his life.

Things to Know:
1: There is some immodesty... his girlfriend and his mom. It does add to the story because the people they were do dress that way. It's nothing horrible but if you have a problem with it, have a towel handy.

I highly recommend this film. I am now looking for the book (Jim Stovall).