Saturday, August 31, 2013

Movie Review: Sally Lockhart ***Ruby in the Smoke, ***The Shadow in he North

These two movies have the same characters.  They are based on a series of novels by Phillip Pullman about a female detective/ financial consultant in England during the Victorian Era.  I ordered these two movies from Netflix DVD as Sally is portrayed by Billie Piper, Rose in Doctor Who.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of her friends is played by Matt Smith, the current Doctor Who.  I actually watched them in reverse order.  In the Ruby in the Smoke, Sally is left an orphan after her father dies in a ship accident.  She later discovers he was murdered over a ruby of great worth.  She is in the target of a murderess, who has murdered several people, and has surrounded herself with many thugs, in an effort to get the ruby.  The plot also includes the heroin trade and addiction.  Sally uses heroin in small amounts to help her remember her past.  The plot takes several twists, with a young girl kidnapped.  Sally and her friends, because of their persistence, are finally able to prevail. 

The second movie has a much more sinister and complicated plot.  Sally gets involved as someone she advised about investments, loses her money as a company goes bankrupt, and then reemerges as another company.  The plot takes even more twists, as the sinister man turns out to have purchased the rights to a super weapon which he is developing.  This weapon will quell all uprisings, at it uses a train and a Gatling gun, to fire a tremendous amount of bullets.  The evil man's men, burn down the home where Sally and her cohorts are staying, killing her love and father of her baby as she is now pregnant.  However she gets even in the end as she is able to destroy the weapon, but not until after she has turned it on our villain.

Billie Piper as Sally Lockhart
The stories were entertaining, but a bit hard to follow; mostly because of the thick cockney accents of the characters.

Movie Review: ****Chipwrecked

My four star rating is based on Tony's reaction.  He came out of the movie talking about the stories and having really enjoyed himself.  He talked about the chipmunks all fighting over the food on the island. He also liked the slide on the boat.  He liked the songs.  "Firework" is one of his favorite.

'Cause baby, you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh
As you shoot across the sky
Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh
You're gonna leave 'em falling down
You don't have to feel like a waste of space

'Cause baby you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh
As you shoot across the sky
Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh
You're gonna leave 'em falling down
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It's always been inside of you, you, you
And now it's time to let it through
'Cause baby you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh
As you shoot across the sky
Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh
You're gonna leave 'em falling down
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

Movie Review: ***Puss N' Boots

 "Puss In Boots"--this movie had betrayal, love and villains.  The cat dancing was the thing that most made it unique.  However over all I found it just above so-so.  The mother goose and baby goose were fun.   Puss was defending the city, but lost his honor. His honor was restored in the sight of the people, but not in the sight of the law.  The movie also added the usual twists on common nursery rhymes as it is a take off from Shrek. Antonio Banderas stars as Puss N' Boots.  This movie is appropriate for children.

Concert Review: *****Saints Unified Voices

I have seen Saints Unified Voices a couple times.  All I can say, if you ever have a chance of attending this concert, it is a must see.  The music is Gospel rather than traditional Mormon music, but is an enjoyable evening all the same.  We attended with our neighbors.  "Jesus Loves Me" was a favorite.  Also the solo by a choir member "Via Dolorosa."  which reminds us that Jesus went all the way down the road to Calvary.  Gladys Knight with the choir sang "Blessed Assurance."  They also sang a song about not putting off until tomorrow what we should be doing today, as tomorrow may be too late. The last time I saw them Gladys Knight sang "I am a Child of God" with the choir.  I missed that song in this program.  The highlight of the program was the testimonies.  A brother told the history of the restoration of the Church.  Gladys Knight told her story, starting by letting the audience know we are all brothers and sister.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Review: The Patchwork Girl of Oz

The Patchwork Girl of Oz is a very enjoyable book.  After reading it, it is one of my favorite.  We are introduced to Scraps, the Patchwork Girl, Ojo the Unlucky, his Unc Nunkie, and the Woozy.  We are reintroduced to Dr. Pipt (who made the powder of life,) and we meet his wife Margolotte.  Much of this book talks about luck.
Margolotte:  The more one knows, the luckier he is, for knowledge is the greatest gift of live.
Patchwork Girl:  No one can be unlucky who has the intelligence to direct his own actions.  The unlucky ones are those who beg for a chance to think
The plot involves a visit by Ojo and Unc Nunkie to the home of Dr Pipt and Margolotte because they have run out of food and are on their way to the Emerald City.  While there, Dr. Pipt brings the Patchwork Girl to life to be a servant to his wife.  They had different powders for her brains, and wanted to only give obedience and others needed to be a good servant.  However, Ojo fearing she was being short changed, but all the different characteristics in.  However there is an accident, and a marble powder spills on Margolette and Unc Nunkie.  They are frozen.  In the meantime the rest of the powder of life spilled on a phonograph bringing it to life.  It is no one's friend as it keeps playing the same music over and over.  Ojo is sent on a mission to get the charms for a restoring spell, three hairs from a Woozy's tail, water from a dark well, a six-leaf clover, a drop of oil from a living man and the leaf of a yellow butterfly.  There is an ingredient I knew the could not get, but the adventure is fun all the same.  There are three travelers, Ojo, the Patchwork Girl, and the glass cat.  They meet a wise donkey and a foolish owl:
The wise donkey: Advice doesn’t cost anything—unless you follow it.
The foolish owl: It’s hard to be a glassy cat—
No cat can be more hard than that;
She’s so transparent, every act
Is clear to us, and that’s a fact.
They find the Woozy, but can't get hairs out of his tail, so he joins the group.  They next meet the Shaggy man.
Shaggy Man: I never criticize my friends.  If they are really true friends, they may be anything they like, for all of me.
Shaggy Man’s song tells us all of Oz:
I’ll sing a song of Ozland, where wondrous creatures dwell
And fruits and flowers and ,bowers abound in every dell,
Where magic is a science and where no one shows surprise
If some amazing thing takes place before his very eyes.

Our Ruler’s a bewitching girl whom fairies love to please;
She’s always kept her magic scepter to enforce decrees
To make her people happy, for her heart is kind and true
And to aid the needy and distressed is what she longs to do.

And then there’s Princess Dorothy, as sweet as any rose,
A lass from Kansas, where they don’t grow fairies, I suppose;
And then there’s the brainy Scarecrow, with a body stuffed with straw,
Who utters words of wisdom rare that fill us all with awe.

I’ll not forget Nick Chopper, the Woodman made of tin,
Whose tender heart thinks killing time is quite a dreadful sin.
Nor old Professor Woggle-Bug, who’s highly magnified
And looks so big to everyone that he is filled with pride. 

Jack Pumpkinhead’s a dear old chum who might be called a chump,
But won renown by riding around upon a magic Gump;
The saw-horse is a splendid steed and though he’s made of wood
He does so many thrilling stunts as any meat horse could.

And now I’ll introduce a beast that ev’ryone adores—
The Cowardly Lion shakes with fear ‘most ev’ry time he roars,
And yet he does the bravest things that any lion might,
Because he knows that cowardice is not considered right.

There’s a Tik-Tok—he’s a clockwork man and quite a funny sight—
He talks and walks mechanically, when he’s wound up tight;
And we’ve a Hungry Tiger who would babies love to eat
But never does because we feed him other kinds of meat.

It’s hard to name all of the freaks this noble Land’s acquired;
‘Twould make my song so very long that you would soon be tired;
But give attention while I mention on wise Yellow Hen
And Nine fine tiny Piglets living in a golden pen.

Just search the whole world over—sail the seas from coast to coast—
No other nation in creation queerer folk can boast;
And now our rare museum will include a Cat of Glass,
A Woozy, and—last but not least—a crazy Patchwork Lass.
The come upon a wall across their trail, but are able to walk through it walking backwards.
Shaggy Man:  That wall is what is called an optical illusion.  It is quite real while you have your eyes open, but if you are not looking at it the barrier doesn’t exist at all.  It’s the same way with many other evils in life; they seem to exist, and yet it’s all seeming and not true.
They happen upon the Scarecrow, who takes a fancy to the Patchwork Girl.
Scarecrow’s song: 
Here’s to the hale old bale of straw
That’s cut from the waving grain,
The sweetest sight man ever saw
In forest, dell or plain.
It fills me with a crinkling joy
A straw-stack to behold,
For then I pad this lucky boy
With strands of yellow gold.
Ojo breaks the law, picking a six-leaf clover without permission.  He meats the jailkeeper who explains their method of reform.
Jailkeeper:  We consider a prisoner unfortunate.  He is unfortunate in two ways—because he has done something wrong and because he is deprived of his liberty.  Therefore we should treat him kindly, because of his misfortune, for otherwise he would become hard and bitter and would not be sorry he had done wrong.  Ozma thinks that one who has committed a fault did so because he was not strong and brave; therefore she puts him in prison to make him strong and brave.  When that is accomplished he is no longer a prisoner, but a good and loyal citizen and everyone is glad that he is now strong enough to resist doing wrong.  You see, it is kindness that makes one strong and brave; and so we are kind to our prisoners.
A funny bit is the Scarecrow and his ear.  The paint is falling off, and consequently he has some hearing issues.
Scarecrow:  Jinjur did a neat job, didn’t she?  And my hearing is now perfect.  Isn’t it wonderful what a little paint will do, if it’s properly applied?
The narrator offers some advise about friendships.
The little band of friends Ozma had gathered around her was so quaintly assorted that much care must be exercised to avoid hurting their feelings or making any one of them unhappy.  It was this considerate kindness that held them close friends and enabled them to enjoy one another’s society.
In their attempt to find a dark well, they go underground and find the Horners (Horn on their forehead) and the Hoppers (one leg).  They are at war because of a Horner joke about their having more understanding, referring to their having two legs instead of one.  To advert the war, the joke teller explains the joke.  The Hoppers still think it is a stupid joke, but Dorothy (who joined the party) convinces them to pretend they understand to avoid any contention.
After getting the next to last item, oil from the Tinman's elbow, Ojo is rejected in his desire to get the wing of a yellow butterfly.  The Tinman says he would not consent to a butterfly being tortured.  All yellow bitterflies come from the Land of the Winkies where the Tinman is emperor.  This leads to this important interchange,Tinman and Ojo:
Ojo: I’m Ojo the Unlucky.  I might have known I would fail in anything I tried to do.
Tinman: Why are you Ojo the Unlucky?
Ojo: Because I was born on a Friday.
Tinman: Friday is not unlucky.  It’s just one of seven days.  Do you suppose all the world becomes unlucky one-seventh of the time?
Ojo: It was the thirteenth day of the month.
Tinman:  Thirteen!  Ah, that is indeed a lucky number.  All my good luck seems to happen on the thirteenth.  I suppose most people never notice the good luck that comes to them with the number 13, and yet if the least bit of bad luck falls on that day, they blame it to the number, and not the proper cause.
Ojo:  But I’m left-handed.
Tinman: Many of our greatest men are that way.  To be left-handed is usually to be two-handed; the right-handed people are usually one-handed.
Ojo: And I’ve a wart under my right arm.
Tinman: How lucky!  If it were on the end of your nose it might be unlucky, but under you arm it is luckily out of the way.
Ojo:  For all those reasons I have been called Ojo the Unlucky.
Tinman: Then we must turn over a new leaf and call you henceforth Ojo the Lucky.  Every reason you have given is absurd.  But I have noticed that those who continually dread ill luck and fear it will overtake them, have no time to take advantage of any good fortune that comes their way.  Make up your mind to be Ojo the Lucky.
There are greater powers in Oz than that of Dr. Pipt.  And in the end, Ojo the Lucky is reinforced.

Music Review: ***Sweeney Todd in Concert

Sweeney Todd 2001,  This is a concert version which I got through Netflix DVD.  It stars George Hearn and Pati Lupone.  I was thinking that a concert version would take some of the brutality away.  I had previously watched the Johnnie Depp version, but it was just too drastic and bloody.  Still, even the music, with the vague references to violence and red lighting to portray the murders, left me with that same irritated feeling.  It is not to say this version didn’t have wonderful music.  Johanna is a beautiful song, but better in the reprise duet as the barber gets to sing of his lost daughter.  Patti Lupone and Neil Patrick Harris sing the song “Not While I'm Around.”  It is a beautiful song.  I also like the judge, the villain in this show, who comes to get his hair cut.  In the movie this is played by Alan Rickman  who also portrays Snape.  The bum bata bum song he sings while the barber is whistling is beautiful, and from there, they sing “Pretty Women.”
This concert has a lot to recommend it, but the violence of the story turned me away from really enjoying it.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Movie Review: **^Howls Moving Castle,

Howls Moving Castle is Japanese Animie.  The story is somewhat strange, but it does portray a love story.  I have always wondered about Japanese animation and the way they add significant highlights to the eyes.  This animation has that characteristic.  The story is of a woman who is cursed with being old, and how she overcomes this curse.  This movie I don't think will appeal to many people except those who like anything animated.  Overlapping this love story, is one of struggle and conflict; but nothing that would be worrisome to letting young viewers watch. 

Movie Review: ***^Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants is a classic circus film, but of a minor circus struggling to keep going. It has Reese Witherspoon, the star of the circus who performs with an elephant, and Robert Pattinson, from the Twilight series and the company veterinarian .  They have a love affair, even though Witherspoon is married.  Her husband is the antagonist who abuses the animals, has circus performers or staff thrown off the train when he can't pay them.  Sometimes this results in death.  The climax is when some who have been thrown off, catch up with the circus and let the animals out.  The elephant ends up killing the circus boss, who is killing his wife.  This leaves his wife free to marry and to run of to Ringling Brothers and raise a family.  This movie does have general appeal and I mildly recommend it.  May may have too much violence, abuse and sexualized scenes for children.  It is rated PG-13.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Book Review: The Wizard of Oz (The first of many Oz book)

There are certain books, and in some cases series of books, which deserve to be read multiple times.  "Harry Potter" series is one of these.  For some people the "Twilight" series and the "Hunger Games."  For me the best series, is an older one, but it has witches and wizards, just like Harry Potter.  L. Frank Baum created a universe with fantastic characters and adventures. in the "Oz" books.    This is why I have enjoyed this series of books.  I have determined to read them all again after seeing "Oz the Great and Powerful."  Many parts of that story are familiar, but I am not sure which book it would be.  More likely it is bits taken from many books.
I enjoyed "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" which is the first in the series.  It was written in 1900.  We are introduced to the grey world of Kansas, as compared to the land of Oz.  The movie is not a reflection of the book, but takes stories from several different books.  However we do have Dorothy taking care of two wicked witches, with the help of two good witches.  Dorothy meets the Good Witch of the North in the book, but we don't get her name.  She then visits, Glinda The Good Witch of the South.  Baum does an excellent job of keeping his readers interested in his characters, and their adventures.  In the book, we find that the flying monkeys are really not that bad, but they are ruled by the Evil Witch.  She is overcome and melted by water as in the movie.  Each of the heroes gets there wish in a physical way, which helps them gain confidence in themselves and find what they already had.  Dorothy doesn't get hers but through her "silver slippers" she makes it home. 
I love Baum's wit.  As for this book, he talks about which is better brains or heart.  "'All the same," said the scarecrow, 'I shall ask for brains instead of a heart, for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one.'  'I shall take the heart, returned the Tin Woodman; 'for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.'  Dorothy did not say anything, for she was puzzled to know which of her friends was right."

Movie Review: ***Matchstick Men

Matchstick Men is a Nicholas Cage movie.  It is a con man movie, and has a twist at the end, that although not turning out the way you think, turns out well.  Nicholas Cage's character has a nervous disorder, as a result of his business.  In the end he discovers he cannot be a con man and feel good about himself.  I think you have to like the genre to enjoy this movie.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Movie Review: ***Joseph, King of Dreams (2000)

I watched this on Instant Netflix.  This is a Dreamworks animated film.  Ben Affleck voices Joseph, and Mark Hamill voices Judah.  As I watched there were a couple things that struck me, first  I really didn't enjoy the art.  They tried many times, especially with the dreams, to give it a Van Gogh flavor.  The people were all long and angular, mostly skinny and tall (except the bread maker who was killed.)  The other thing I kept saying to myself is, I prefer the music from Andrew Lloyd Webber's version more.  (Donnie Osmond singing "Close Every Door to Me" gives me goosebumps.)
However, this movie did get to me in the end.  I think that is because of the story of forgiveness and family.  These win out over Joseph's anger towards his brothers.  This is a story that is timeless.

I had an interesting religious experience at the end of this movie.  Joseph was a true prophet, and was prepared to save his family.  Israel, his father, likewise was a patriarch and a true religious man.

Music Review: **Broadway in Love

This is an anthology of Broadway love songs produced in 2000 by BMG entertainment.
This group of songs is a mixed bag.  Some are too operetish for me, some don't make sense and some are very enjoyable.  There are fourteen songs, representing fourteen different musicals.  I was familiar with four of them, and those are the ones I enjoyed the most.
"Something Good" from Sound of Music was delightful.  I really enjoyed Rebecca Luker's voice.  I also enjoyed The Human Heart from "Once on this Island."  It reminded me of Mark's performance in this musical.  This is him after being hit by a car, and nursed back to health.  He is the rich aristocrat, who breaks the young lady's heart in the end.  "Some girls you marry, and some you love."
I also enjoyed the presentation from Jekyll and Hyde, "Love Has Come of Age."  This presentation was much nicer than any other I've seen, including the David Hasselhoff version.
Some of the songs I really enjoyed, that I know nothing about the musical are "I'd give it all for You" from Songs for a New World and "Whatever Time We Have" from Children of Eden.  I didn't care for Charles Nelson Reilly singing "it Only Takes a Moment" from Hello Dolly even though I was familiar with this show.  There was one song I thought was just stupid; "Sailing" from A New Brain.  The guy seems to be saying he enjoys sailing more than having a relationship.
Overall I would recommend this CD, but with some reservations.  Some of the songs are over done.

Book Review: The Lost Princess of Oz A Great Book

This book is a delightful read, and one of the better Oz books.  It remains to form, following people on a journey or a hunt.  This time they are searching for Ozma, who has been whisked away and no one knows where she has gone.  However that is not the only thing that is lost.  They are also looking for many instruments of magic—Ozma’s magic mirror, the Wizards magic bag, Glinda’s magical potions as well as her magical book that tells everything that is happening in the world as it happens, and a magic cake pan.
 There are a few new characters in this book, including the frogman, Cayke the Cook, the pink Bear and the Lavender Bear.  And there is a new bad guy, Ugu the Shoemaker.  However he reforms in the end.
These are some quotes I liked, which demonstrate the wit of Frank L. Baum the author:
Speaking of Glinda:
Her knowledge of magic had not been stolen, by any means, since no thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire. 
Lion:  To be individual, my friends, to be different from others, is the only way to become distinguished from the common herd.  Let us be glad, therefore, that we differ from one another in form and in disposition.  Variety is the spice of life.
The Woozy:  To be really lovely, one must be beautiful without and within.
The Frogman:  In truth, no living creature can know much more than his fellows, for one may know one thing, and another know another thing, so that wisdom is evenly scattered throughout the world.
Frogman: Girls are the fiercest soldiers of all.  They are more brave than men, and they have better nerves. 

Movie Review: *^Solitary

"Solitary" is available through Netlix Instant.  This is a strange movie about a woman who loses her husband, and the twist in the end is that she is really in a coma.  She goes through the movie with this life playing out, but she it paranoid of many things.  I guess she had good cause.  Sort of strange and did not really leave me  thinking it was worth my time.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Moview Review: ***Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is a bit flat compared it to the other Indiana Jones films..  However if I compare it to other action adventures it is a fun romp.  I especially like it that they bring in a son, and a marriage at the end.  Shia Labeouf plays the roll of the son.  He rides a motor bike with wild abandon.  Kate Blanchett is with the bad guys the Communists.  Karen Allen is back as Jones' love interest.  The parallel universe left me a bit flat.  It is going on the theme that the gods are aliens.  However I did like the return of the Jones story to Latin America, and the many archeological finds there are in that area.  It is only appropriate that the story heads there. 

Movie Review: ***Sunday in the Park with George

"Sunday in the Park With George" I got through NETFLIX.  I would have scored this movie higher, but tired of listening to Bernadette Peters say "George." I don't know how many times she said this, but it was too many.  This movie stars Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin in two roles.  The songs are intriguing.  "The hat" grows on you, and his singing of the colors is fascinating.  But the song I most enjoyed is "Move On:"
Stop worrying where you're going-
Move on
If you can know where you're going
You've gone
Just keep moving on

I chose, and my world was shaken-
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not
You have to move on

Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you'll be-
Look at all the things you've done for me

Opened up my eyes,
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree-

...Just keep moving on
Anything you do
Let it come from you
Then it will be new
Give us more to see...


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Movie Review: ****Into the Woods

This movie I have watched through Instant Netflix. It is the Stephen Sondheim musical.  My kids did this play when Mark was in Middle School. Mark was Jack with another boy his milky white cow.  It seems like the rest of the kids were involved.  However the version for the Middle School was written for school age, and took out some parts; particularly the second act.  After the first act things end up happily ever after.  However the second act holds several twists.  The princes aren't happy, nor are their brides.  Several characters end up dead, and the rest of the characters struggle with this and putting their lives back together.  This leads to some more heartfelt songs.  The Baker loses his wife to the giant and sings:
No more giants waging war!
Can't we just pursue our lives, with our children and our wives,
'Til that happy day arrives, how do you ignore
All the witches, all the curses,
All the wolves, all the lies, the false hopes, the good-bye's,
The reverses,
All the wondering what even worse is still in store!
All the children.
All the giants..
No more.
 Cinderella sings by way of answer:
No one is alone.  Truly.
No one is alone.
Sometimes people leave you
Halfway through the wood.
Others may deceive you.
You decide what's good.
You decide alone.
But no one is alone.
 And finally the Baker's wife provides counsel from the grave with 
regards to raising their son:
Sometimes people leave you
  Halfway through the wood.
  Do not let it grieve you,
  No one leaves for good.
  You are not alone.
  No one is alone.
  Hold him to the light now,
  Let him see the glow.
  Things will be all right now.
  Tell him what you know.. 
I enjoyed this show.  The songs have stuck in my mind. 

Movie Review: ***^Return to Oz (1985)

This 1985 Disney movie has bits of at least three Oz books mixed into it, "The Marvelous Land of Oz" with Ozma, Mombi and Jack Pumpkinhead, "Ozma of Oz" with with Tic-Tok, the Wheelers, the Nome King, and Bellina the Chicken; and elements of "The Emerald City of Oz" with the Nome King again.  I don't care for the way this movie mixes characters and stories.  It has the "ruby slippers" as the source of the Nome King's power when in the books it was his magic belt.  It has Mombi as the person who changes heads, when in truth it was the Queen of Ev's sister, who was ruling after the Queen of Ev disappeared.  Momb has The Wheelers as her agents of evil, which was never the case.  It also has Oz conquered by the Nome King, which did not happen as The Scarecrow had used his brains to avert this, even though the Nome King had made the attempt.
Anyway, as for the story that does come out, it is enjoyable, but I think the Nome (rock people) sort of make a boring kind of movie.  I can see myself falling asleep through this movie.  Something that I liked was the bit with Ozma, having been locked in the mirror by Mombi.  (It gives it the feel of "Watcher in the Woods.)  It added a nice touch.  There is also a bit of a psychiatric hospital where Dorothy is taken because she cannot sleep.  Again the characters seep over from the hospital to OZ.  This movie is mildly entertaining.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Review: Tik-Tok of Oz

This is the eight of the Oz series and is an enjoyable read.  However the title is a bit misleading.  This book is mostly about The Shaggy Man rescuing his brother.  His brother is called “The Ugly Man” because the Nome King had put an ugly curse on him.  He was captured by the Nome King when he was digging and prospecting for precious metals.  Shaggy Man was transported by virtue of the Nome King’s belt to the area, and then Tik-Tok was also transported to help.  Unfortunately Tik-Tok landed in a well, but with good luck the party came upon him and he is rescued.  A couple more members of the part were Betsy Bobbin and her mule. Also the Rose Princess Ozga, and Polychrome, the Rainbow Princess.  They come upon Queen Ann Soforth of Oogaboo and her generals and officers who are intent on conquering the world.  There was some protest from the wives of the officers when they left Oogaboo.  “Ann commanded them to keep silent, and that was the hardest order to obey they had ever received.” 
The army, Private Files resigned protesting over the request from the Queen to capture the party of travelers.  He established a relationship with Ozga, the Rose Princess. Tik-Tok becomes the army.  Then together they travel to confront the Nome King, but he used a trick, and sent them through a tube to the other side of the world.  However, this only angers Tittiti Hoochoo, the great Jin-jin, who rules the other side of the world.  He is the ruler because he is the only inhabitant who is not a King or a Queen..  “One who is Master of himself is always a King, if only of himself.  In this favored land all Kings and Queens are equal, and it is our privilege to bow before one supreme Ruler—The Private Citizen.”  He had told the Nome King not to use the tube.  He sent back a dragon with our travelers form Oz.  After everyone tried to conquer the Nome King, and failed, they called the dragon to help them.  The dragon first took away the Nome King’s magical abilities, and then sent him outside his own cave kingdom by chasing him with a few eggs.  (As we remember from previous episodes, the eggs are poison to the Nome people.)  Kaliko, the second in charge, now became the ruler of the Nomes.  They knew Shaggy Man’s brother was in a special forest, but didn’t know how to get to this forest.  The Nome King came back as he had been promised to be able to take his pocketsful of gems before being sent out to the cold world.  It was in following him that they discovered the secret forest, and “The Ugly Man.”  However, in his cursed state “Ugly” does not want to meet anyone.  The Nome King performed the magic, but has forgotten the antidote when he lost his magical powers.  He only remembers that a kiss is the cure, but who will kiss one so ugly?

Movie Review: ***^Sons of Katie Elder (1965)

The Sons of Katie Elder is an old John Wayne, who is always good.  There is a scene where John Wayne is shooting his two six shooters much like Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.  I guess this was a rehearsal.  This movie is about three sons who return home after their mother has passed away; a bit too late for her.  It talks about how, in their business and travels, they have neglected her.  It goes from there to the sons deciding to figure out who killed their father, and how their mother was swindled of her property.  This movie is much like "The Mailbox."
 It reminds one of the importance of family, and not forgetting those who are older, even when we are moved out and doing our own thing. This movie has a cute bit with Dean Martin raffling off his glass eye, and then buying it back. 

Book Review: The Sacrcrow of Oz

Cap,n Bill and Trot

The Scarecrow of Oz is a delightful read. It is the ninth Oz book published in 1915.  It is entitled after the Scarecrow, who is the rescuer, but tells the story of Cap'n Bill, a former sea captain with a wooden leg, and Trot a young girl, who are sucked into a whirlpool and sent on a journey.  They meet an ork, a flying creature whose tail is designed like a helicopter blade.  They also meet Button Bright, a boy, who joins the party.  They are traveling trying to find their way to someplace where the can live.  A few early quotes:
Cap’n Bill to Trot before they go through the whirlpool:  Those as knows the least have a habit of thinkin’ they know all there is to know, while them as knows the most admits what a turr’ble bit world this is.  It’s the knowing ones that realize one lifetime ain’t long enough to git mor’n a few dips o’ the oars of knowledge.
The Ork explains his reason for traveling, even though he has lost his home:  ‘It’s a big world, Flipper, my son,’ he would say. ‘and I’ve heard that in parts of it live queer two—legged creatures called Men, who war upon all other living things and would have little respect for even an Ork.’  They come to an island and meet Pessim, who has been left on the island as he makes others feel bad.
Pessim:  “That’s all you know about it!” broke in the little man.  “The trees are altogether too green and the rocks are harder than they ought to be.  I find the sand very grainy and the water dreadfully wet.  Every breeze makes a draught and the sun shines in the daytime, when there’s no need of it, and disappears just as soon as it begins to get dark.  If you remain here you’ll find the island very unsatisfactory.”
“I didn’t come; the neighbors brought me,” replied the little man, with a frown at the recollection.  “They said I was quarrelsome and fault-finding and blamed me because I told them all the things that went wrong, or never were right, and because I told them how things ought to be.  So they brought me here and left me all alone, saying that if I quarreled with myself, no one else would be made unhappy.  Absurd, wasn’t it?

They fly to the land of Mo, where there is a man in the mountain.  It snows popcorn, and it is in this popcorn that they find Button Bright.  The next fly over the dessert to Jinxland.  Jinxland is part of Oz, but cut off from Oz by a tall mountain.  They have an evil king, who is not really the king at all, but Princess Gloria is the rightful heir to the throne.  She has fallen for Pon, a gardener, whose father has also been king.  She teaches Trot about love:

“You don’t understand, my dear,” said Gloria as she wiped the tears from her eyes with a dainty lace handkerchief bordered with pearls.  “When you are older you will realize that a young lady cannot decide whom she will love, or choose the most worthy.  Her heart alone decides for her, and whomsoever her heart selects, she must love, whether he amounts to much or not.”
Jinxland is not good to our heroes.  The Ork has gone to look for his country.  An evil witch turns Cap'n Bill into a cricket, and freezes the heart of Gloria with payment from the king and a man who is courting the princess who refuses him.
The Scarecrow visits Glinda the Good, and they discover the plight of our friends.  The Scarecrow comes to rescue them. 

Scarecrow to Pon: “Why, we must be polite, whatever we do,” explained the Scarecrow.  “It would be very rude to conquer a King without proper notice.”
Initially, it is the return of the Orks who rescue our friends, as well as the scarecrow himself.  But the scarecrow with a few tricks given to him by Glinda, conquers the evil witch.  
Scarecrow to the evil witch Blinkie:  “Believe me, it is more fun to accomplish a good act than an evil one, as you will discover when once you have tried it.”
This story is fun.  It uses the same formula that Baum uses over and over, a traveling group, who meet with peril and interesting circumstances and characters along the way.  He adds his wit, which is what makes his stories work.  His stories have been duplicated, but never equaled.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Movie Review: ***Three Musketeers (2011)

 Three Musketeers was fun.  Tony and I saw this.  Tony was interested in seeing the sword play, and was not disappointed.  The story was very repetitive in comparison to other versions of the same story.  The only addition was the flying ships, which really added some fun to the story.  They had two men-of-war, which were attached to dirigibles, and had a fine battle.  This movie is worth seeing just for the battle between these two vessels.  However other than that the story has been told before.  Mathew Macfadyen stars as Athos and Milla Jovovich as Milady Winter.  Logan Lermon is the young D'artagnan.  The other musketeers are Luke Evans as Aramis and Ray Stevenson as Porthos.  Orlando Bloom plays Duke Ellington.

Movie Reviews: ***Mansfield Park (2007)

Mansfield Park is the Billie Piper version which I got from Netflix mail.  I liked Billie Piper in Doctor Who and she is very good in this as well.  The story as told in this PBC WGBH Boston version loses some of the periphery stuff, and is much more directly a love story between Fannie and Edmond.  I missed the story line of the pictures of the slaves, and how this had effected the oldest son.  But it really did keep the movie focused on the main characters.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Movie Reviews: **^The Mill on the Floss;

The movie "The Mill on the Floss" has a totally unexpected ending. It is based on the novel by George Eliot.  It was of the true romantic character, and I'm not sure if I like it; in fact I'm pretty sure I don't.  If you like movies that end in a way totally unexpected, then you would enjoy this movie.  This movie depicts the love interests of Maggie, and her relationship with her brother.  Maggie is portrayed by Emily Watson, not Emma Watson.   However Emily Watson is a very good actress as well.  I think that is why I picked it in the first place, hoping to see Emma Watson. I watched it on Netflix Instant.  And as I said, I personally didn't care for the ending.

Maggie's first love is a young man with a hunch back.  He is an artist.  However he is also the son of the family's hated enemy, and her father, and brother after he passes away, refuse to the relationship.  She then falls for her cousin's boyfriend, and they run off together, and then she repents and goes back.  Because of family disgrace, her brother does not want to see her, and that leads us to the ending which I will not divulge.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book Review: ***Brother Brigham's Gold

This book is an enjoyable read, and I must admit it kept me interested enough that I was through is in only three days.  It was written by Blaine and Brenton Yorganson.  I found the book amongst Sheri's collection of books.  I am sure it is not available in any library close to Manteca.  It was published in 1984.  It is the third book in the Soderberg Saga.

The adventure and excitement is there, and keeps you guessing as to what is going to happen next.  And the theme is one I had heard about many times before, the lost gold mines in the Uintah Mountains known either as the Rhoades Mine, or the Brigham Mine or the lost Spanish mines.  Many are the legends with regards to this mine, and Thomas Rhoades (who had found plenty of gold in California before turning his back on California and settling with the Saints in Utah) who had special permission to extract gold by the Indians provided he not let anyone know where the mine was located.  Later this privilege was extended to his son, Caleb Rhoades.  For a sample of the legends you can check this website

The story of the lost gold mines has intrigued me, not that I would want to go looking for gold in those mountains.  But I have been through them several times, and have seen evidence of old mines.  It is a fascinating story that just doesn't go away.

As for the book, it combines the persecution of polygamous families at this time, with the legend of the mines.  It has a young man who found some gold while herding sheep at its center.  The gold is used to bail his father, in jail as a result of being a polygamous.  However word of the find attracts a group of outlaws who are intent on forcing the young man to lead them to the gold.  The book also adds a love story, and somehow the girl gets to the mine as well (that is the part of the story that went a bit too far for me.) 

Jane Austen Movie Reviews

*****^ Pride and Prejudice (1995) Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth
***** Pride and Prejudice   (1940) Laurence Olivier
***** Jane Austen's Persuasion (2007)
****^ Pride and Prejudice (2005) Keira Knightley
****^ Pride and Prejudice (1980) BBC
****^ Sense and Sensibility  (1995)
**** Emma (1996) Kate Beckinsale
**** Sense and Sensibility (2008)
**** Northanger Abbey (2007)
***^ Masterpiece Classic: Miss Austen Regrets (not really Jane Austen)
*** Mansfield Park  (2007) (Billie Piper)
**^ Persuasion (1995)
** Northanger Abbey (1987)
** Emma (1996) (Gwyneth Paltrow)

Movie Review: Sense and Sensibility ****^(1995) ***(2008)

This of course is based on a Jane Austen book.  Last night I had an enjoyable time watching the Columbia pictures Sense and Sensibility (1995) via instant Netflix.  This last week I also watched the newer Masterpiece Theater version (2009) from home delivery Netflix.  Miranda pointed out that the original version has five actors from the Harry Potter movies--Snape, Professor Trelawney, Madame Pomfrey, Dolores Umbridge and Cornelius Fudge.  On the other hand the new version only has Mr. Weasley.  On that score alone, I recommend the 1995 version.  The characters are fun, and the acting is superb.  The new version, although entertaining, just lacks the same character.  It tries to add sensuality, especially in the first scene, but it really doesn't fit.

So for the 1995 version, which had me in stitches.  Remember, this movie was made at the start of many of these careers.  Turns out Dolores Umbridge is married to Dr. House, who has the attitude you would expect Dr. House to have.  His sarcasm and wit is just as biting as in his future work.  I found it pleasing that Dolores was getting her pay back, after all she put Harry through.  It was fun to view this way.  In addition, Professor Trelawney loves Hugh Grant, And Snape loves Kate Winslett.  What could be funner than that?  The highlight of this movie is when Elinor (Emma Thompson) discovers that Edward (Hugh Grant) is not married.  She breaks into tears in front of  him.  It is a moving scene, and the humor of her collapse adds to it greatly.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself.   This moving kept me entertained from start to finish.   Mrs. Jennings and Sir John do an excellent job of teasing and needling the girls, and they make the movie fun while not taking itself too seriously.

So I heartily recommend the 1995 version, and don't recommend quite so much the 2009 version.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Movie Review: ***Captain America: The First Avenger

I judged Captain America through Tony's eyes.  Tony was really bored with the first part of the movie.  In the theater he was more interested in playing with his chair than the movie.  However when Captain America (Chris Evans) gets his shield, then things started to pick up. The action was exciting after that point.  This is a good WWII action movie.

It was fun that Howard Stark (Iron Man's father) was part of the movie, and a rival for the woman's Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) affection.  It actually explains where he gets the power for the suit Iron Man eventually makes.  I hated the ending however.  I wanted him to get the girl, not end up frozen for 70 years.  And so for this I give Captain America a mild recommendation.

Theater Review: Les Miserables: San Francisco (2012)

Les Miserables 
Charity took me to see Les Miserables last week.  She had been able to get tickets through the Butler family, who had purchased at the group rate, and had some extras. First off, I must say it is an incredible show.  The colors and the scenes, costumes and set pieces going back and forth, make it truly a work of art and a visual delight.  The music adds the auditory delight.  I love the song, “Bring Him Home.”  And it was performed beautifully.  “I dreamed a Dream” is also a favorite, and it was well performed.  My only regret is that they jumped into it so fast, I missed the first part of the song.  The Timpani covered over some of the vocals which was frustrating, and Javert was hard to understand when he sang “Stars.”
The play clarified some points.  The song “Who am I” has a part sung before the court, where Valjean reveals himself.  Eponine and Cosette were play mates at the inn.  That was something I hadn’t realized.  One song really stood out in terms of the blocking, this being “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.”  They had a light representing the friends who had passed away at the barricade.  The friends come out and take their light.  At the end they were all dimmed, with the exception of the light Marius held.  It was very effective. 
Another moving part is the death of Gavroche.  The students were much affected by this.  Eponine did a very good job of singing “On My Own.”  That she gave her life, so her love could have someone else is very moving. 
Another place where they really did a great job with set, and making things move when they really weren’t was in the sewers, including Javert’s suicide.
Even with all the grandeur,  I had a feeling something was not quite right.  I think it had to do with the morality.  On our way home Charity expressed that she enjoyed it all except a couple of side things. She noticed that there were a couple of times in the side business, that people were pretending to be engaged sexual relations.  I had missed this, but had the feeling everything was not right.  I do not think such beautiful things should be used as a forum to promote irreverent and immoral behavior.

Movie Review: ****Saints and Soldiers (2003)

This movie is very intense.  It is almost as intense as "Saving Private Ryan."  It starts with a group of American POWs, who are being guarded by a group of Germans.  Things get out of hand, and the Germans open fire on the Americans, in the confusion, a small group of Americans gets away.  They manage to get one gun.  However they are well behind enemy lines. Deacon is a sharp shooter, but he is suffering from lack of sleep and war trauma.  He tossed a grenade into a home, which turned out to be full of women and children.  This is now haunting him.  He sometimes has visions of the women or the children.  He is also LDS, a former missionary to Germany.  They rescue a British pilot, who says he has important information.  He needs to be taken to where he can report and give this information.  They are behind enemy lines, but start making their way to where he can report.  However they get snowed in.   They come upon a French home, and are able to take a meal but are snowbound. The English pilot decides he cannot wait for the storm, and leaves the party.  However a couple German soldier also chance by.  They surprise them.  One is killed, but our soldier who never misses, misses and the other gets away.  The Englishman brings him back.  He had gotten cold and decided to turn around, and was able to capture him.  Turns out he is known to our German missionary, who taught his family.  They talk, sharing old times, but the soldier lets him escape during the night, but not before they get some information about where to go to avoid the German soldiers.  The Medic confronts him for being too close to the enemy.  The talk about the Book of Mormon and religious beliefs.   This works for a while, but eventually they are in an area with many Germans, and they are in the midst of a fire fight.  Again they come upon the German friend who helps them.  They are able to command a jeep, with German uniforms, and go through a roadblock.  The Germans are now onto them and the front, but so are the Americans, who quickly realize their mistake.  Deacon holds them off, while the medic makes it back to the American lines with the pilot.  After the medic seeks out Deacon's body, and removes the Book of Mormon from him.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Disney Movies: summary

Disney Movies: summary
***** Frozen (2013) Indira Menzel and Kristen Bell
***** Enchanted (2007) Amy Adams
****^ Brave (2012)
****^ Oz The Great and Powerful (2013)
****^ Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken  (1991) Gabrielle Anwar
****^ Tangled 2010
****^ Treasure Island 1950
****^ Holes
****^ Toy Story
**** Toy Story III 2010
****^ The Other Side of Heaven (Groberg)
**** Wreck-it Ralph
**** Dumbo (19410
**** Glory Road  Don Haslam and West Texas State
**** Toby Tyler (1960)
**** Old Yeller
**** The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)
**** The Thanksgiving Promise
**** John Carter
***^ Pocahontas (1995)
***^ Pocahontas II (1998)
***^ Return to Oz (1985)
***^ The Apple Dumpling Gang, Don Knotts, Tim Conway
***^ The Absent  Minded Professor (Fred MacMurray)
***^ The Three Lives of Thomasina
***^ The Santa  Clause
*** Santa Clause III The Escape Clause
*** The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
*** Tales from Earthsea (distributed by Disney, Japanese production)
*** Christmas Carol 2009 Jim Carey)
*** Aristocats (1970)
**^ That Shaggy Dog
**^ No Deposit No Return, Don Knotts and Tim Conway
**^ Sorcerer's Apprentice 2010 (Nicolas Cage)
**^ Polly
*^ Super Buddies
*^ Robin Hood

Movie Review: **^The Sorcerer's Apprentice

I must admit, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" leaves something lacking.  It seems they try to mesh a modern adventure with the original Mickey Mouse movie, and fails in both respects.   I must admit I really don't like the ending, and the broom scene reenacted (from the original) is cute, but really doesn't fit into the plot.  Nicholas Cage is good, the apprentice is not, the young girl is pretty, and it is good the sorcerer (Nicholas Cage) gets back with his love after missing her for thousands of years.  The action is good, but science winning the day in the end is sort of contrived.  So this movie gets a reserved recommendation.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Movie Review: *****Pride and Prejudice X 4

*****^Pride and Prejudice(1995) ****^(1940) *****(2005) *****(1980)

This is not  review in the traditional sense, but a comparison of four different versions of Pride and Prejudice.  These four include the first one I saw, which is the 1995 six tape series with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in the lead roles.  I then saw the new movie, 2005, with Keira Knightley and Mathew Macfadyen in the lead roles.  I have recently been introduced to two new versions via Netflix.  One is 1980 BBC with Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul in the lead roles which is available through Instant Netflix. The other was a Netflix DVD, 1940 with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier.

First generally reviewing of these movies.  They are all classics, and the story is classic. The first version actually takes the most liberties with the story.  Lady DuBourg is in league with Mr. Darcy, rather than actually upset.  The 1980 BBC version is actually the most modest.  However the version I first saw was the Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.  This one highlights the figures of the women in a very pleasing manner.  And the Keira Knightley has a more rural feel to it, with pigs on the screen, and Keira Knightley is always beautiful, but no miracle bra is going to do wonders, so this version is more modest as well.

Eliza  I love Jennifer Ehle in this role, and her walking every place.  However the character in the 1940 version, captures much more passion for me.  So I must vote for Greer Garson as my favorite Eliza.

Mr. Darcy  In similar fashion I must say Laurence Olivier captures the romance of the film in the most placing manner.  I was introduced to this role form Colin Firth, who is a great actor, and one of my favorite.  However the way this role is played by Laurence Olivier is classic.  

Mr. Bennet is a wonderful character, who actually grows and matures from the experiences with regards to Lydia.  I must admit I prefer the character from the 2005 movie best from Donald Sutherland, just based on the way he presents one of my favorite lines, "If any other men come to marry any my daughters, send them in; I am quite at my leisure." Classic!  His smile is just perfect.

Mr Bingley  I like the Mr. Bingley from the six tape series.  He is just a happy young man, no one can help but like him. Lydia is such a clueless wonder in this version I have to love her. Mrs Bennet with her loud laughing and talking takes the day in this version as well.  Mr Collins, the cousin who is set to entail the estate, is such a nerd and brown noser in this version he is funny.  And his wife, Charlotte, is played in just the perfect fashion. Kitty is so good lamenting at her father's rebuke in this version.  Her cry is just perfect. 

Mr Darcy's cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliams is most enjoyable in the 1940 version as the actor is in a kilt.  Fun.  Miss Jane Bennet is the most beautiful in the 1940 version.  The last scene where Mr. Bingley proposes, and she cries through it.  That is fun.

Mr. Bingley's sister is the most sinister in the 1940 version.  Mary is at her worse in such a  truly delightful way in the version as well.

The bottom line is I love this story, and each of these version is a pleasure to watch.

Book Review: **Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories My Mother Never Told Me

Book Review

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories My Mother Never Told Me.

Editor, Alfred Hitchcock: numerous authors.  1963 Random House, New York

I like to read short stories, and found this book on my shelf.  I am not sure how I came to have this book.  It is actually 23 stories, two novelettes and one novel.

The stories all have an Alfred Hitchcock theme.  He was too centered on cannibalism, as three stories end in this way.  “The Wall-to-Wall Grave” was the story that left me with the strangest feeling.  This story is written by Andrew Benedict.  It portrays a father who gets even with her daughter’s lover, who had jilted her, which resulted in her suicide.  He locked him in a room with a minimal amount of dripping water, and 30 days supply of bread.  And then he just leaves him there.  It is stories like this that trigger my claustrophobia.   

Other stories of note, Ray Bradbury wrote a story about the wind, and its being out to get people.  Witch’s money by John Collier was very humorous.  In back country Spain where people aren’t familiar with checks, the still some form an artist and assume they are real money.  It creates a boom to the economy, but in the end they are not worth anything.

The Arbutus Collar by Jeremiah Digges is worthy of mention.  His philandering daughter-in-law shouldn’t have done so with the beautiful collar made for her.  He warned her it was tricky to get off; he just hadn’t mentioned it might take her head off without his help. 

One novelette was very disturbing, “The Idol of the Flies” by Jane Rice.  From the start I wanted to take the boy in the story and whack him up the side of the head with a 2x4.  I guess he got his in the end.  He would sick flies on people and lay traps for them.  He called for billions of flies to help him, but instead they smothered him. 

“Courtesy of the Road” is a story I remembered, I think from high school literature class.   It testified of the grief of a parent, and his getting even with those who had run over his little girl.

The novel, the final selection in the book, was too much for me.  I enjoyed it as I read it, but did not like the twist at the end.  I think the author must have been sick his self--  “Some of Your Blood” by Theodore Sturgeon.

Overall I would recommend these stories.  I think they are out of print, but you might find them at Deseret Industries or Ebay.

Movie Review: **The Smurfs

It is appropriate to post a review of The Smurfs, as Smurfs II is now in theaters.  Gargamel's cat steals this show.  He/she is so funny pursuing the smurfs, and has such funny facial expressions.  Gargamel (Hank Azaria) is just totally evil.  Papa Smurf is played by Jonathan Winters.  I watched Tony, to see how the movie was doing.  He enjoyed most of the movie, but there was a period there, where the movie seemed to slow down and loss its energy.  He likes the slapstick scenes, Gargamel getting sucked through the funnel, getting foiled in the toy store, and things dropping on his head.  I liked the apple with thinks poking out of it getting him in the butt.  Now that is humor.  One part that started going somewhere and then didn't was Gargamel making an alliance with the Smurf's friend's boss.  It just didn't go anyplace. Perhaps the writers missed something.  This movie is for the young, and those who like animated slapstick.  This a show that combines animated and live characters.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Movie Review: ***^Abduction

Abduction is an action movie, with a misleading title.  The story line of Abduction was actually intriguing.  It is about Nathan, (Taylor Lautner) who is 18 when he discovers his parents are not his parents.  It puts he and his girlfriend (Lily Collins) in danger.  Sigourney Weaver is in a supporting roll as a psychologist who helps them as they make their escape.  I am not sure why they called the movie abduction, as no one was abducted.  They were just trying to get away.  This movie had plenty of action.  It got very poor reviews from the critics.  I think this is because the relationship between the two young people was not as hot as it could have been.  Sometimes Taylor seemed stiff.  I am not sure if this was his character, who was suppose to be shy, or just some misses in acting.  However I am sure many young women came to see Taylor Lautner with his shirt off and had no interest in the story.

Movie Review: ***^Paranoia

Paranoia is a movie about industrial espionage.  It bits two former partners Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) and Jack Goddard (Harrison Ford) who would do anything now to see the other fail.  In between them is the person blackmailed to spy, Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth, Gale Hawthorne in Hunger Games) by Wyatt.  This movie is pretty intense, as Wyatt is willing to do anything to win, including murder.  He threatens to kill Cassidy's father (Richard Dreyfuss) if he doesn't cooperate, and attempts to kill his best friend.  He has killed in the past, as presented by an FBI agent who confronts Cassidy.  The stakes are high, and this movie, after it gets going, keeps you on the edge of your feet.  It does take forever to get up to speed.  We don't even see Harrison Ford until a third of the way through the movie, but when we do, with his energy the movie takes off.  Cassidy also has a love interest, Emma Jennings (Amber Heard) who works for Goddard, and he uses to complete his spying mission.  This is a fun, exciting ride, and it appears our young man, because of his greed, has gotten himself in too far.  I am a big Harrison Ford fan, as is Sheri, and that is why we went.

C.D. Review: ****Mandy Pantikin 1989

In this musical anthology, Patinkin gives plenty to enjoy.  He tends to Stephen Sondheim, and performs "Pretty Lady", "Anyone Can Whistle," "No More" and "No One is Alone."  His version of "No One Is Alon" is truly classic.  He is able to project emotion into the music that makes it live.  He also presents many older songs, music by Al Jolson, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin.  One of my favorites is "Alexander's Ragtime Band" by George Gershwin.  Patinkin starts this C.D. with his version of "Over the Rainbow."  It is beautiful the way he add an introduction to the song, and then answers this introduction with "somewhere over the rainbow."  If you want a good time, "Coffee in a Carboard Cup" fills the bill.  Patinkin takes many rolls, and gives lots of energy to singing this audience stopper.
I really liked his version of "Soliliquy" from Carousel.  This is a point just before intermission when the decision is made that leds to all that follows.  Patinkin is able to capture the emotion of the situation. 
There is plenty to like here.  Patinkin's tenor voice is one that is able to go from his heart to yours.  His music is very uplifting.

TV Review: *****Doctor Who Season Five

Doctor Who keeps getting better and better.  This is another wild ride. This season introduces Matt Smith as the Doctor who loves his bow tie, and Karen Gillam as Amy Pond.  It starts with the Doctor, newly incarnated, coming to help a girl with a crack in her wall.  The crack follows just about every episode this season.  The Doctor says he will be right back, but actually comes back a dozen years later and Amy is now a woman.
My favorite episode included Vincent van Gogh.  I admire his work, and we get to see smatterings of it in the museum, and in Vincent's flat.  Vincent can see a monster others, including the Doctor, cannot see.  The monster has been killing innocents.  It looks like a big chicken.  In the end it is defeated.  In an effort to change Van Gogh's imminent suicide, they show him his legacy.  However it does not prevent his suicide. 
The weeping angels are back in a two part episode.  Only this time there are hundreds of them, and they are out to get them.  However the angels are scared of the crack through which if anything passes they are forgotten and never existed.
Rory, played by Arthur Darvill, Amy's fiance, joins her on the Tardis.  They face off against vampires, an evil dream keeper and they have to choose between two dream sets and pick the real one so as to not die. There is a less serious one where The Doctor takes on as a human and rents a room.  He plays soccer and eats biscuits and tries to be human to fool the entity upstairs, where there really is not an upstairs, but through the powers of a space vehicle one was been created in everyone's mind. 
The show then turns serious as the Tardis blows up, and it is actually this event seeping through time and universes, which has caused the crack. The Doctor has to close the crack, leaving himself on the other side, and can only be brought back if someone remembers him.  This happens at Rory's and Amy's wedding when remembers something blue.

TV Review: ****A Dinner of Herbs (2000)

It is British so I assume it is BBC, but I am not sure.  It is based on the novel of Catherine Cookson.  It tells the story of three young people.  Mary Ellen loves Roddy, Roddy loves himself and Hal loves Mary Ellen.  Roddy and Hal share a similar fate in that both their fathers are murdered by the same man.  Roddy was there, but was thrown off a cliff and has amnesia.

This movie shows three time periods, when they are boys of age twelve, later as young men, and then 25 years later.  It is a show about the effect of bitterness and revenge, and coming to terms with the past; which is sometimes hard to do.  This is a very nice story, and the characters are great.  Mary Ellen has a certain spunk, and the actress changes three time, but the spunk is evident with all three.  It is very well done in that regard.

I would recommend this movie to others if you have the chance to see it.  It is a miniseries with 6 almost one hour sections.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Movie Review: ***^Silver Streak

This is the first meeting of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in a movie.  This is a combination that works.   to Wilder portrays George, a book editor who is trying to have a relaxing time by taking the train.  He decides to make an advance to the woman, Hilly (portrayed by Jill Clayburgh) who is in the room next to his, and while they are starting to make advances, he sees Hilly's boss,  fall off the roof of the train, murdered.  He tries to allay his doubts, maybe he was seeing things, and ends up getting thrown of the train himself.  George getting thrown off the train is a humorous bit of the movie.  The first time, a rural resident gives him a flight in her plane to Albuquerque where he catches the train again.  He tells his girlfriend what has happened.  However, her boss shows up.  He is now very confused.  The bad guy, Devereau says it was a misunderstanding that he was thrown off the train.  He meets the salesman, Sweet (Ned Beatty) he had befriended, but turns out he is FBI.  He discovers the issue is evidence that Hilly's boss has discovered exposing Devereau as a fraudulent art dealer.  Sweet finds evidence of the murder, and the discover the papers implicating Devereau.  (Why is that name always a villain?)  This time when he falls off the train, he killed one of the bad guys.  When he gets to the sheriff's office, he tells his story, and ends up a wanted man.  He escapes with Grover (Richard Pryor) who admits he is a thief.  They take off together.  They make it back to the train station, where there is a police stakeout.  One of the funny things of the movie is George pretending to be black, as they cover his face with black shoe polish. 
The FBI gets involved, and they get their man, but he has set the train on automatic, with no way of stopping it.  I saw this on AMC, which blotted out some of the language.  I cannot tell if the language would have been palatable to me, but the version I saw was acceptable and entertaining.