Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Movie Review: ***The Black Cauldron (1985)

This is a Disney movie, based on the novel by Lloyd Alexander.  It is not a musical.  This film was directed by the Mormon movie maker Richard Rich.  My thought about this movie is that somehow it missed the magic of the Alexander book of the same name.  In the book, Taran and Eilonwy are fascinating characters, and then you add Dolbi, Gurgi and Fflewddur Fflam and it is a very entertaining story.  The characters lack the same spark and spunk.  It gets really bad when the fair folk sound like little kids.  The voice of the evil Horned King is ridiculous.
So my conclusion is I love this book, just not this particular telling.  Read the book.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Book Review: The Castle of Llyr

The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander, A Dell Yearling Book, New York, 1966.
This is the third of the five books which include The Black Cauldron.  In this book, Taran has some competition in winning the love of Eilonwy.  This is in the person of Prince Rhun, whose parents are set to tutor the princess, and they hope their son and Eilonwy marry.  Eilonwy is leaving Caer Dallben to be trained in the ways of princesses.  Taran accompanies her to the island realm of Mona, which is close to the original home of Princess Eilonwy's people.
However, shortly after arriving a plot is made known to them to harm the princess. What is worse, there is a traitor in the castle.  Too late do Taran, and Prince Don (who has been there in disguise) react, and the princess is kidnapped.  The book then becomes one of rescuing the princess.  On their journey they meet a giant cat, who would have done them in but the cat likes the harp playing of the bard, Fflewunder.  They also meet the giant, who also almost does them in in trying to get out of a cave where he has trapped himself growing too large.  After their escape they travel to the island, Llyr, once inhabited by Eilowny's people, where they confront an old nemesis Achren.  She is hoping to use Eilonwy, control her and restore her powers. 
Somethings are not meant to be controlled however. 
Again I enjoyed this book.  I like the characters, and now we have a love triangle, Taran, Eilonwy and Prince Rhun.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Movie Review: ***^Jack Reacher (2012)

This is a Tom Cruise fast action adventure which doesn't disappoint.  This movie starts with the sniper style murder of five innocents.  Cruise plays Jack Reacher, an ex military police, who is called in by the defendant who is accused of killing five people by sniper fire.  reacher has been hiding for many years.  While in the military, reacher caught this guy who is accused of the murder, of killing innocent civilians in Iraq.  However things don't add up, and thus starts the action which leads to more murders, and eventually the kidnapping of Reacher's partner in the investigation, the defense attorney Helen (Rosamund Pike)  So Reacher has to save the day.  He includes and old guy )Robert Duvall) in his rescue, who ran the shooting range where the sniper, and the actually murderer practiced.  He has helped vindicate the actual person accused, and they are coming after the real killers. 
Lots of tense violence in this movie, if you like that type of thing.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Book Review: The Black Cauldron

The Black Caldron by Lloyd Alexander, A Yearling Book, Dell Publishing, New York, 1965.
This continues the story of the Assistant Pig Keep of Caer Dallben.  The Black Cauldron, is the means by which the Lord of Death has been increasing his forces.  He throws the body of a newly dead person into the cauldron, and they become undead.  These warriors do not die, nor do they live.  But even worse, the Dark Lord has sponsored several murders, so as to get more bodies for the cauldron.  Prince Gwydion as determined that they must attack the Dark Lord's realm, and destroy the cauldron.  Schemes are laid, and the plan carried out, except the cauldron has gone missing.  Taran, (assistant pig keeper) and his companions come upon clues which lead them to pursue the cauldron.  He travels with Guthrie, his loyal friend (a hairy being), Ellidyr, who is constantly harassing the pig keeper to prove his own worth as he is the youngest prince, and often forgotten, Adaon, son of the high bard,  and Fflewunder, a king but also a bard hopeful.  Doli, of the fairy folk is also with them.  They are separated from the others, and under attack, but seek refuge in the Fair Folk (undergrond people) way station.  There from Gwystyl and his crow, Kaw, they are given clues of where the cauldron has gone.  The decide to pursue the cauldron without waiting for others.  They must travel to the Marshes of Morva and confront three witches, who have taken the cauldron.  Ellidyr, seeking glory for himself, leaves the group.  they are attached and Adaon is killed.  He leaves to Taran a brooch which gives powers of seeing things, and sensing things.  This he later uses to purchase the cauldron from the three witches (the cauldron belongs to the witches, and the "repossessed it from Arawn the Dark Lord.)
However taking the cauldron back to Gwydion is a most difficult task.  Ellidyr comes upon them and steals the cauldron, then Morgant, a supposed ally takes the cauldron, with the hopes of rising to power.  This leads to a sharp battle.  The destruction of the cauldron comes from an unexpected source.
I am enjoying this series of the assistant pig keep who always seems to prove himself somehow. 

Movie Review: ***^The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

So the director for the Christmas pageant breaks her leg, and someone has to step in, Grace Bradley (Loretta Swit).  She holds tryouts, and the Herdman children show up.  Everyone knows they are the meanest and worst children ever.  They are bullies, and often do terrible things.  But when they decide to take over the best parts in the pageant, no one dares say anything.  So they are all cast.  The christmas story is new to them, and by the end, the story reaches their hearts.  Although the pageant is different, many say it is the best ever. This story is touching, because it shows how a community can support a family in need, and then the family gives back.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Book Review: The Book of Three

the Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander, A Yearling Book, New York, 1978.
This is the first of five books about Taran, the Assistant Pig Keeper from Caer Dallben.  The author says these books are based loosely on Welch lore.  The assistant pig keeper loses the pig, Hen Wen.  Hen Wen is an oracle pig.  The assistant pig-keeper finds himself on an adventure he did not plan on.  Upon his adventure he meets Gwydion, the Prince of Don.  Gwydion takes up the search, as he realizes the pig is sought by the evil, and he himself was coming to consult with the pig.  Together they are captured by forces of evil, the caldron-born who do not die.  Taran is placed in the dungeon.  There he meets Eilonwy, a young lady who helps him escape.  Eilonwy takes a sword of power, Dyrwyn, and in doing so the castle collapses.  Gwydion does not escape and Taran thinks he killed. 
They are joined in the escapes by Fflewddur Fflam, an ex ing and current bard.  Also a human type creature, Gurgi.  His character is very cute with his double talk and constant hunger.  The group continues to be pressed by the Cauldron-born, and eventually they are surrounded.  Through out Eilonsy does not let anyone draw the special sword, but through some miracle Gwydion returns to draw the sword.  Gwydion was not killed, and the evil queen had sent him elsewhere for her evil purposes. 

Book Review: Memorable Christmas Stories

Memorable Christmas Stories, Compiled by Leon R. Hartshorn, Deseret Book, Salt Lake CIty, Utah, 1974.

I love short stories, I love Christmas stories, and so here we have both.  This book is one to treassure.  I read a story from here for our Christmas Sing-a-long this year.  It seems like every story brings tears to you eyes.  These stories express the true meaning of Christmas, with selfless acts of services through out.  I will continue to treasure this book.  On story I really like "Trouble at the Inn."  It gives greater meaning to the spirit of Christmas.