Thursday, October 31, 2013

Movie Review: ****Signs (2002)

This is another M. Night Shyamalan movie and stars Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix.  The premise behind this movie is fascinating, and we see the fear through the eyes of the actors.  First mysterious things happen, and then crop circles, and then a view of an alien on the TV.  The reaction to this by Joaquin Phoenix blows me away.  It sets you up for suspense, because the aliens are not there to be friends, but to have a picnic, with humans as the food.  Gibson plays a pastor, who has given up the cross when his wife passed away in an auto accident.  The events of this movie help him find his faith again.  Some things--call them intuition, or inspiration, cannot be explained other than that God is watching us.  This movie is very well done.  It is a must see.

Book Review: Tortilla Flat.

This is a classic John Seinbeck, and one of his earlier works.  It follows a group of paisanos who live near Monterrey.  They are held together by Danny, who has inherited two houses.  Danny is a character who is use to being homeless, but now has two houses when he returns from the war.  It follows this group after they return from World War I.  They get the most pleasure from a jug of wine, and are always looking for a dollar so they can buy wine.  They also avoid work, unless it is really necessary.

Pilon rents one of the homes, but never intends nor has money to pay.  Eventually he and a couple others staying with him burn the home down.  They then move in with Danny, and the pressure of paying rent is taken away.  Eventually the group includes six, who live in the house, Danny, Pilon, Pablo, Big Joe Portagee, The Pirate and his five dogs and Jesus Maria.  Jesus Maria is the more sensitive member, and leads the group on altruistic ventures, including supporting a woman with nine children the years the beans failed, and she was not able to glean from the fields.  The Pirate has made a vow to give a candlestick to Saint Francis, who cured one of his dogs.  Every day he chops a wagon load of wood, and takes it to the city to sell.  He gets a quarter every day, which he saves for a 1000 day candle.  He hides the money, and the group want to find it to altruistically help the Pirate better take care of himself.  However they also see much wine in the task.  However, in the end, the Pirate gives the money to his friends to watch for him.  Big Joe steals the money, but in the recovery they realize the Pirate has met his goal.  The candle is given, and the Pirate is dressed well enough to attend church, by borrowing clothes from the others.  The dogs also break into the service in which the priest talks about the love of Saint Francis for animals.

There are numerous short stories woven into the telling of this book.  I enjoyed it.  John Stienbeck's goal of helping us understand them is achieved.

The book ends with a sad tone, after a couple years of being landlord, Danny longs for his carefree former life.  He goes into a funk, and his friends decide to have a big party with lots of wine to bring him out of it.  His friends actually work to get money for wine.  The party ends up being a community wide party.  When Danny gets drunk he likes to fight.  He challenges everyone to fight him.  He has no takers, and goes outside to find someone. I could tell more, but don't want to divulge the ending.  I enjoy Steinbeck books, and would recommend this book to others wanting to read a good story.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Movie Review: ****The Others

This is a ghost story with a creepy house.  Some memories are too terrible to remember, and such is the case with this movie.  With her husband at war, Grace (Nicole Kidman) is home to care for her two children.  The have an illness making them sensitive to light.  She always keeps the windows covered.  However the curtains are left open, and doors are left open.  Is it the servants, or is it ghosts?  Her daughter says she is seeing people, and draws a picture of them.  Grace finally leaves because of the ghosts or intruders.  She runs into the night fog, and comes back with her husband, home form the war.  This movie makes very good use of fog and ambiance, and a creepy house.  It too have a twist at the end.  Good fun, but perhaps too creepy for little ones. 

Music Review: ****Beach Boys Greatest Hits

This album was released in 1995, but most of the songs were recorded in the 60s.  The Beach Boys have a way to create a mood with just a few notes and chords, and a simple melody.  They do it over and over again, and had many hits.  Some are classic; "Help me Rhonda," "Surfin USA." "Kokamo" and "Fun Fun Fun"  To me Barbaranne just didn't make the grade.  Perhaps it was too simple.  Also they sing way too much about cars.  However the TBird song is classic.  Dads should always take the Tbirds away. 
Kokamo is included in this collection, but was not recorded until 1988.  This is one of my favorite of their songs. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Movie Reviews: ***^Les Miserables (2000)

This is not the version currently in the movies, but a 2000 miniseries version which is available through instant Netflix.  It has an international cast with Gerard Depardieu, a French actor, as Jean Valjean and John Malkovich as Javert.  Malkovich is eerie in his roll of Javert, as he is so persisitent in his pursuit of evil.  
This version does not have the music, and has a couple of plot twists different than the musical.  These mostly involved the Thernadier family, as Thernadier ended up in prison after his first experience with Valjean for selling a child.  His other experiences were just as distressing, and lead to his harboring great bitterness.  By this we understand more his motivation to rob Valjean when they meet again in the city.  The emotions are in this movie, as in the other versions I have seen.  They make Eponine to be uglier, and with less of a crush on Marius.  However Marius is the neighbor to Thernadier.  It is he who warns Javert of the robbery of Valjean, and puts Javert on the trail of Valjean again.
Marius' grandfather has a larger roll.  And takes his grandson in after the barricade.
My only complaint was the suicide.  Javert walks into the river.  Could you really complete a suicide that way?  Cosette (Virginie Ledoyan) is truly beautiful, and could easily steal a man's heart at one sighting.  This movie is entertaining.

Movie Review: ***^Lady in the Water

A janitor, apartment complex manager, discovers someone has been in the pool after hours.  It turns out that this is a mystical creature of the water, a nymph, who is trying to return to her own world, while avoiding being attacked by some strange wolf like creatures.  The janitor realizes that there are certain characters needed in this story, to facilitate the safe return of the nymph.  He explores the apartment complex, discovering different of these characters among his neighbors, a guardian, guild and healer.  He makes some mistakes in his identifications, but he does put together a team.  However the team needs to be correct to work.  This movie has some intense monsters, wolfmen that are made of plants.  Bryce Dallas Howard is the Lady in the Water, Paul Giamatti the janitor.  This movie was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.  This story is enjoyable, but some of the story does not make sense.  You have to suspend logic.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Book Review: The Tin Woodman of Oz

"The Tin Woodman of Oz: A Faithful Story of the Astonishing Adventure Undertaken by the Tin Woodman, Assisted by Woot the Wanderer, the Scarecrow of Oz, and Polychrome, the Rainbow's Daughter" is another gem from L. Frank Baum.  In this book, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Woot the Wanderer take off on an adventure to find the Woodman's former lover, Nimmie Amee.  Woor reminds the Tinman of his duty, seeing as how she is likely still waiting for his return. 
The Tin Woodman responds, “Beautiful things may be admired, if not loved,” asserted the Tin man.  “Flowers are beautiful, for instance, but we are not inclined to marry them.  Duty, on the contrary, is a bugle call to action, whether you are inclined to act, or not.  In this case, I obey the bugle call of duty.”  So the Tinman agrees to seek her out of duty rather than love.  The Tinman's heart is kind, not loving.  The Scarecrow commened that the Tin Woodman has a kind heart and not a loving heart.  “Even so, I am not sure it isn’t best for the girl,” said the Scarecrow, who seemed very intelligent for a straw man, “for a loving husband is not always kind, while a kind husband is sure to make any girl content.”
I enjoyed the poem of the Scarecrow:
“What sound is so sweet
As the straw from the wheat
When it crunkles so tender and low?
    It is yellow and bright,
    So it gives me delight
To crunkle wherever I go.

    “Sweet, fresh, golden Straw!
    There is surely no flaw
In a stuffing so clean and compact.
    It creaks when I walk,
    And it thrills when I talk,
And its fragrance is fine, for a fact.

“To cut me don’t hurt,
    For I’ve no blood to squirt,
And I therefore can suffer no pain;
    The straw that I use
Doesn’t lump up or bruise,
Though it’s pounded again and again!

    “I know it is said
    That my beautiful head
Has brains of mixed wheat-straw and bran,
    But my thoughts are so good
    I’d not change, if I could,
For the brains of a common meat man.

    “Content with my lot,
    I’m glad that I’m not
Like others I meet day by day;
    If my insides get musty,
    Or mussed-up, or dusty,
I get newly stuffed right away.”

Our travelers are captured by a Yookihoo Giantess who transforms them into other shapes.  “Be contented with your fate, for discontent leads to unhappiness, and unhappiness, in any form, is the greatest evil that can befall you.”  The manage to escape by stealing an apron from the Giantess which has power to open the doors.  However now the Scarecrow is a stuffed bear, the Tinman a tin owl, Woot a green monkey and the meet Polychrome, the Rainbow's daughter who had been transposed into a canary. 
Tommy Kwikstep had wished himself twenty legs, but when they developed corns he was miserable.  Polychrome restores him by magic and he thanks her, “And I am resolved never to speak again without taking time to think carefully on what I am going to say, for I realize that speech without thought is dangerous.
Ozma meets our group, as she was following them in her mirror.  She restores them and they are on the road again.  The face more adventures, meeting a fellow suitor for Nimmie Amee, who had a similar fate to our Tinman, as he is a tin soldier.  They also hear of Chopfyt, who is a compendium of the cast off parts of our two Tinmen.  This story has a bit of a twist at the end, as these two are determined to offer themselves to her and she may marry whom she chooses.  Another quote from the Scarecrow I thought I might share when he talks of the importance of using our brains appropriately.

Scarecrow: “Dear me!” remarked the Scarecrow, “what unhappy thoughts you have, to be sure.  This is proof that born brains cannot equal manufactured brains, for my brains dwell only on facts and never borrow trouble.  When there is occasion for my brains to think, they think, but I would be ashamed of my brains if they kept shoot out thoughts that were merely fears and imaginings, such as do no good, but are likely to do harm.”  “Your oil can, friend Woodman, is filled with oil, but you only apply the oil to your joints, drop by drop, as you need it, and do not keep spilling it where it will do no good.  Thoughts should be restrained in the same way as you oil, and only applied when necessary, and for a good purpose.  If used carefully, thoughts are good things to have.”  Polychrome laughed at him, for the Rainbow’s Daughter knew more about thoughts than the Scarecrow did.  But the others were solemn, feeling they had been rebuked, and tramped on in silence.
Another stellar book, of a traveling adventure from L. Frank Baum.

Movie Review: ****The Birds

The Birds is classic Alfred Hitchcock.  The story has some holes.  I never really understand why the birds go haywire.  The fact is they do, in Bodega Bay, and has something to do with the love birds purchased by Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) a San Francisco socialite who has bought the birds to impress Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) and for his sister's (Veronica Cartwright) birthday.  She ends up staying for dinner, and rooming with the school teacher, Annie (Suzanne Pleshette).  She also had a thing for Mitch, but was chased off by his mother.  It is probable mother (Jessica Tandy) will also chase of Melanie.
The birds slowly begin attacking the community.  The most eerie scene is at the school.  Melanie is there to pick up Mitch's sister, as the birds have killed a man, and mother is worried about her.  She is waiting for a good time to get her, while smoking a cigarette.  Slowly the crows begin to gather on the playground equipment.  We first see one crow, then two more, then five more, until the playground equipment is covered with birds.  Another bird flies to meet them, and Melanie follows the bird, until she realizes they have problems. As the students try to escape, the birds attack.  One child is injured, but they all are scared.  Next we see Melanie who has taken refuge in the local diner.  They talk about the birds, with many skeptics, and some doomsayers, while the birds gather again.  This attack is more violent, and result in a fire. 
The family holes up at the house, but not to good effect.  This is an eerie show, and leaves you understanding that we are at the mercy of the birds.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Movie Review: ***^The Village

This movie is directed by M. Night Shyamalan.  Again this movie has twists.  What makes this movie eerie is the use of colors--yellow for the Villagers and red for the monsters.  The community is manipulated into red areas and yellow areas.  It is very isolated.  The villagers are not to go into the red area.  However, some of the young people are wanting to challenge this tradition.  Ivy Walker, who is blind, (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) have a love interest.  However this leaves out a third friend, Noah Percy (Adrien Brody) who becomes jealous, and stabs Lucius with a knife.  It falls upon Ivy to save him by going for medicine.  It is a long journey for a blind girl, especially with monsters around.  Sigourney Weaver plays Lucius' mother, and William Hurt Ivy's father.
I enjoyed this movie very much.  It does not keep its scariness on subsequent viewings, but the first watch is very creepy.  This is not geared as a children's movie, and the red blood is a bit graphic for children.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Movie Review: ****^ The Sixth Sense

This is one of the best ghost stories ever, and it is told in such an eerie fashion.  The line "I see dead people" is classic.  This movie established M. Night Shyamalan as a director.  It starred Bruce Willis as a psychologist who is helping a boy deal with his "neurosis" and it isn't until we are into the movie a ways that we see that the issue is really the boy's ability to see ghosts.  He is terrified by them.  As a result he is scared of tight places, and the dark.  This movie also launched Joel Osment as a child star.  He does a great job.  Shyamalan is known for his twists, and this story is no exception.
There is a shooting at the first of this movie which may be disturbing to children.

Movie Review: ***^House on Haunted Hill (1959)

This is you classic haunted house movie.  A millionaire and his wife invite five guests to a haunted house party.  If they last the night the host will pay them $10,000 each.  This is a house were there have been seven murders.  They are locked into the home, and expected to stay the night.  There is murder afloat, along with grotesque heads about, ghosts, falling chandeliers, acid, hangings, screams, skeletons, betrayal and double betrayal.  This movie is black and white. 

Movie Review: ****^The Ghost and Mr. Chicken

This was one of my favorite scary time movies growing up.  Even with the explanations at the end, and seeing it so many times, it still scares me.  Don Knotts plays Luther Heggs, a wanna be reporter who falls for a challenge to spend a night in a haunted house where a murder took place some years before.  Only as Don Knotts can, he sets himself up in a sleeping bag, and when the house really turns out to be haunted, he runs away in terror.  No one can do a scared face like Don Knotts.  He writes of his night, and becomes a local celebrity,  However when he is sued for slander, he takes the court to the house, and it doesn't appear to be haunted.  Knotts' love interest is Alma Parker (Joan Staley).  A great line in this movie "Atta boy Luther."  This movie has cobwebs, bleeding scissors and a self playing organ. Cool!!!

Movie Review: ****Toby Tyler or Ten Weeks with a Circus

Toby Tyler or Ten Weeks with a Circus 1960, Walt Disney.  This movie takes me back to my youth.  This is a classic that never grows old with age.  I find this movie fascinating from the boy who finagles himself into a couple more peanuts, until he becomes the circus performing star on the horses.  Toby is portrayed by Kevin Corcoran, who was a common Disney Movie actor.  I like the girl, Mademoiselle Jeanette, and had a crush on her as a child.  She reminded me of my cousin.  However I was too young for her as I was only three when this movie was made.  The relationships Toby has with the other members of the circus is what makes this movie work. His immediate boss tricks him out of money which is rightfully his, and doesn't deliver his letter to him from his aunt and uncle.  Mr Stubbs, the monkey, throws his money away he has been saving.  The strong man befriends him and takes him under his wing, and protects him from the abuse the concessionaire boss has used on other boys.  On of the clowns becomes a good friend, Ajax the horse performer is jealous of him and treats him poorly, and the other horse performer Jeanette is loveable as the trick horse rider.  I recommend this movie.  It is a feel good show.

Movie Review: ****La Perla, The Pearl

This is a 1947 Mexican film of the John Steinbeck novella the Pearl.  I borrowed it from Manteca Library.  It was selected by US Film Registry for preservation.

This story follows very closely the book, but not exactly.  John Steinbeck wrote the screenplay.  This movie has lots of tension, starting with the scorpion stinging the baby.  Seeing the scorpion and the baby, and knowing what would happen was very tense.  They take the baby to the doctor who refuses to see them.  What I liked that was not in the book is the showing of the Mexican culture.  This includes singing, dancing and fireworks.  The story takes place in Baja California.  The doctor refuses to see the baby, but he is cured with help of a curandera.  Meanwhile, the father finds a big pearl.  The pearl changes the life of he and his family.  First locals try to steal the pear from him.  The do this by playing on his lack of knowledge.  The doctor insists he treat the baby, even though he is now better.   The doctor and his brother-in-law try to get him drunk so they can steal the pearl.  There is a big fight.  They accuse him of fighting his best friends.  The pearl buyers, try to buy the pearl for much less than it is worth.  They all work for the "patron."  He decides to take the pearl to a large city to sell.    His wife pleads with him, "por favor, tira la perla al mar." "please, throw the pearl into the sea."  He refuses, and when she tries to do it, he catches her and hits her.  They are confronted by robbers, and the father kills a man.  He and his family make their escape.  He is chased by the doctor and the patron, who has trackers.  The patron kills the doctor, and another bystander.  He then catches up to the family, and hears the baby crying.  He fires a shot at the baby, just before the father is able to overcome him.  The couple return home, where they throw the pearl back into the sea.
This story has meaning on a couple of different levels.  You can look at it from the perspective of seeing everything against those who are poor, trying to keep them in their station.  However you can also look at it from the attitude that we all have our lot in life, and should stay there, and not let big dreams get in the way.
It does help to know Spanish, but I didn't catch all the dialogue.  There is more action than dialogue however, and if you have read the book you can follow the story.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Movie Summary: Halloween Genre Movies

This is Halloween week, and there was an article of scary, none R rated movies in the Deseret News.  This is my list of Halloween worthy movies, all family friendly, I hope.
***** Oz The Great and Powerful: Plenty of witches
****^ Wait Until Dark: Blind lady who isn't so helpless
****^ The Sixth Sense:  ghost story with a twist
****^ Hitchcock: The making of Psycho
****^Twilight Series:Vampire Love stories
****^The Ghost and Mr. Chicken: Haunted house visit with Don Knotts' humor
****Red Riding Hood: beautiful use of color
The Others: Ghosts in the fog
**** The Birds: Alfred Hitchcock suspense thriller
****La Perla: scorpion crawling down a rope gives me the creeps
****Ghost: a ghostly love story
**** Super 8: An "Alien" worthy monster
***^The Village: colorful monsters
***^ Hotel Transylvania 2, Adam Sandler
***^ Lady in the Water: scarey monsters
***^ Return to Oz: plenty of witches and one that collects heads
***^ Cannary Row: has a breaking a limb scene before "Misery"
***Nightmare Before Christmas: Jack takes over Christmas
***Practical Magic
*** The Brothers Grimm: con-men caught up in a real witch story
The Haunted Pumpkin of Sleepy Hollow (2013)

Movie Review: ****Ghost (1990)

Everyone loves a good ghost movie, and this is one.  Patrick Swazye stars as Sam Wheat, a businessman, whose partner has turned to crime and embezzling, and Wheat gets caught up as an innocent bystander, and murdered as a result.  However he is still around as a ghost, and struggles with protecting his wife, Demi Moore, and helping people discover who killed him.  Whoopi Goldberg stars as a fake medium, until Wheat shows up, and then her powers as a medium are confirmed and every ghost is coming to see her.  Goldberg adds some humor, Moore some beauty, and Swayze some heat.  This movie is very good.  The pottery wheel scene is classic.  This picture depicts a difference between and evil person passing, and a good person.  You don't want to have been evil, it isn't pretty.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Movie Review: ***Three Wishes

This is a 1995 Patrick Swayze movie in which Swayze plays a transient, Jack McLeod, whose leg is broke when he is hit in a car accident by a mother (Mary Elizabeth Manstrantonio) who has two children.  They subsequently take him in while he heals, and this is the story of the effects he has on the family.  The father of the family is a pilot who was shot down in the Korean War and listed as missing.  Consequently, the boys have a "less than" feeling being with out a father.  The oldest son is usually picked last at baseball, and his team is really poor; while the younger son has excessive fear of the night.  The story tells how they are both able to overcome these problems.  They have some ides, that he is an angel and can grant wishes.  The oldest son, Tom, won't tell his wish, so McCloud says he will choose one for him.  Tom doesn't want him to leave, but he does all the same, and on just about the same day, father comes home having been released by the Koreans.  Many years later, when Tom is a father, and facing financial issues, and not enjoying his family vacation as a result, he confronts McCloud again, who hasn't aged, and McCloud says he got it wrong, the wish wasn't for his father to return, but that he would be happy with his blessings in life.
I just admit, I wasn't into this movie that much.  If you want to see Swayze, "Ghost" is a better choice.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Movie Review: *****The Dreamer of Oz (1990)
Every once in a while you find something very good and so unexpected, you want to let everyone know about it.  If you follow this blog, you know I am a fan of l. Frank Baum, and the Oz series, and his other books.  I found this made for TV movie very enjoyable.  This is the history of L. Frank Baum, and the history of his writing the stories of OZ, starting with “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”  Baum was a delightful teller of tales, however they were not well received in the publishing community at first.  John Ritter stars as Baum and Annette O'Toole as his wife, Maude.  Baum was a regular character, with business ups and downs, and a heart condition, until age 40. His first break was "Mother Goose: in Prose" followed by "Father Goose: in Prose."  However the Oz book was his first love.  No one wanted to produce it.  He went from publisher to publisher and still no luck.  He was at his wits end.  He finally proposed self publishing the book, and that was the turning point.
This is a motivational movie about a relationship, but also about a very gifted and creative man.  This is a great family movie.

Music Reviews: *Beatles: All you Need is Love

I checked out a music CD from the library which was *Beatles songs for young people.  It didn't work for me.   It wasn't enough Beatles and it wasn't enough children's music.  It was someplace in the middle, and not very good at either genre.  The only song even mildly enjoyable was a rendition of the "Octopus Garden Under the Sea" which I have heard on Sesame Street. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Movie Review: ****^The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend (1991)

Pete Maravich (Adam Guier) had a gift on the basketball court, and he was a pleasure to watch.  This movie tells how that gift came to be.  There are some things that come naturally, and there are some things you develop.  In this case, both of those criteria apply. 
This movie deals with Pete Maravich when he was in eighth grade, before he was a legend.  He was struggling with things just like anyone else.  However he had a dream.  His father (Nick Benedict) had been a professional player, and was a college coach.  He emphasized self confidence.  Pete took these lessons to heart.  He had a love for basketball, and being the best.  I love this movie.  It is a motivational classic.  His mother (Millie Perkins) tolerated the fanaticism of the men in her life. 
One warning for those who watch this movie with their children; it shows many “tricks” with a basketball.  Your kids will try many of these tricks.  If they do the “ricochet” incorrectly it may cause an injury.  
This movie is very motivational if you have big dreams.  If not I imagine it will fall flat.  I like Pete's interaction with the cheerleader.  Pete can't understand why do something if you are not dedicated to be the best.  By the end of the movie she has caught on, as has Moose, the big guy on the team who wants to get a scholarship.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Movie Review: *****Rudy

This is one of my favorite movies.  It lets you know that it is what you do with what you got that is important.  This movie is based on a true story of Rudy, Daniel Ruettiger (Sean Astin).  Rudy does OK on his high school team, but has no college prospects, just dreams.  He takes a job at the mill like his father.  When his friend dies, he decides to follow his dream to play football for Notre Dame.  He doesn't get in, but attends a smaller school, while he prepares to get in.  There is a cute scene where he participates in the ritual of painting the helmets, reserved for Notre Dame students.  He finally gets to Notre Dame, and makes the practice squad as a walk on.  His job is to be a target for the regulars.  He takes his knocks, waiting for his chance.
This movie tells a few basic concepts, you should always pursue your dream, and sometimes it takes help from a third person to get there.  This show has an incredible ending.  I watched this game live in 75, and saw the team carry Rudy off the field, not really knowing the story.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Movie Review: ****^Hitchcock

Hitchcock is a 2011 movie starring Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock and Helen Mirren as his wife Alma Reville.  It also features Scarlett Johansson as the actress Janet Leigh.  I watched it through Netflix DVD.
I found this movie very entertaining.  It is about the making of Psycho.  I was fascinating with the making of a film, and even more fascinated with Hitchcock and his wife, coming together to make a triumph.  They took a great risk with this movie, as Hitchcock could not find financial backing, and had to back the movie himself.  There were so many nuances to the making of the film that at times it seemed the project was going to fall apart. There was dealing with the studio, dealing with the censors, and dealing with personal pressure at home because of they mortgaged their home to make the film.
Overlapping this is the relationship between Hitchcock and his wife Alma.  Hitchcock determines she is having an affair, and this effects his work on the movie.  However when he collapses from exhaustion, Alma comes up to keep them going and to keep production from falling too far behind, or to keep the cost overruns from being too great. Alma was not having a physical affair, but perhaps one of loyalty as she was helping a friend write a book.
In the end, this movie was Hitchcock’s greatest success, even surpassing “North by Northwest.”  I am putting this movie in my motivational movies.  It shows what can be accomplished with a dream, determination and resolve.  
I don't think youngsters would appreciate this movie. 

Movie/Music Review: *^ Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band

This is the Bee Gees singing Beatles music.  The music comes from two Beatles albums--Abbey Road and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  It seems like just about anybody in music at the time had some kind of a cameo in this movie.  The best part of the film is Strawberry Fields (Sandy Farina).  Her songs are crisp and well done.  She is the girl friend of Billy Shears, played by Peter Frampton. 
As for a plot, it is bad.  So bad they have George Burns as the narrator trying to explain what is going on.  When things fall apart in the end, the weather vane fixes everything, and everybody has a big sing along.  The sing along has all kinds of musical groups, including Seals and Croft.  Good music, but would have been better as a concert, forgetting any idea of a plot.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Movie Review: ^ Saturday Night Fever

I ordered this movie from Netflix.  I must have not looked well as it was rated R.  I wanted to watch the music and the dancing, but couldn't get through more than 10 minutes because of the excessive F' word usage.  I could tell it was only going to get worse.  I do not recommend this movie.  I understand there is a PG version which is toned down, but didn't see it available through Netflix.

Movie Review: ***^ Xanadu (1980)

Xanadu 1980  Sheri and I enjoyed Xanadu when we were younger.  It actually came out a couple years before we were married.  Olivia Newton John stars as Kira, a muse.  Gene Kelly as Danny McGuire, is a former love interest of the muse, and the current love interest, Sonny Malone is played by Michael Beck.  The story explains a muse is not allowed to have a permanent relationship, but they are to help people’s dreams come through.  The dream in this case is for the two men, who are partners, to get a club going which they call Xanadu.  When the muse has to leave as the dream is fulfilled, Sonny is depressed and miserable, as Danny was 30 years ago.  He goes after her.  He runs through a mural, into the realm of the muses.  Because of this great love, she is granted a day to come back and see the opening day of the club.  She still has to leave in the end, but they do get a day.  This show has good music, and a story line that works.  I don’t know what it is with all the roller skating.  Maybe it was a thing for the time, roller skates, not roller blades.  There is a twist at the end.

Book Review: The Long Valley

This is not my favorite John Stienbeck book.  It is a series of eleven  stories which center on Salinas Valley.  It was published in 1938.  It also includes the Red Pony series which I have reviewed elsewhere.
It isn't Steinbeck's writing style which I dislike.  He is a master of this craft.  However, in his efforts for realism, with some of these stories he leaves a sour feeling.  It seems the stories are generally tragic, and sometimes too graphic.
The story which most left me with an eerie feeling was "Flight."  You have a premonition it is not going to turn out well.  Even the main character's sister, early on says her brother is not dead yet.  It is just too graphic for me in the end.
"The White Quail" is also tragic.  However in this case, the ending is unexpected, and very sudden.  The wife in this story is very selfish in her pursuing a garden, above all else; above love for her husband, above having children, or letting her husband have a dog. 
Steinbeck introduces us to later themes.  A story deals with migrant workers ("Breakfast.")  Another about labor organizing, ("The Raid.")  He has a story about a man who at one time would had been considered an "idiot savant."  (I think that label is offensive, but it works in this case.)  "Johnny Bear" had no social skills, but had an ability to repeat conversations word-for-word.   He uses this skill to get people to buy him whiskey.  Going around as a human tape recorder, can only offend others and get you in trouble.  Such is the case here.
Another story which leaves a bad feeling is "Murder."  This story seems to indicate there is a place for spousal abuse.  I totally disagree with this premise.  There is never an excuse for hurting another of Heavenly Father's children.
Steinbeck also has a study of group think in "Vigilante."  There have been studies of this.  How people will sometimes do things they normally wouldn't, if they are going along with a group.  In this story, we see a young man after he has participated in a lynch mob.  There is no thought of their own guilt, but only justification and getting away with it.
This book does have the quality of writing of Steinbeck.  However, I am not sure if all of these stories needed to be told.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Movie Review: ****^ Brave (2012)

Brave is a very popular Disney Pixar movie released in 2012.  I am seeing it through Netflix DVD.   This movie is set in the Scottish Highlands.  I love their accents.  The theme of this movie is mother daughter relationships, and overcoming pride. This movie has a very interesting plot.  Merida (Kelly Macdonald) and her mother (Emma Thompson) are at odds over her having to marry a young man from a different clan so as to strengthen relationships between clans.  Merida would like to fall in love, and choose her own husband.  In her conflict with her queen mother, she runs away.  While away she comes upon a witch, who gives her a potion to change her mother and thus her fate.  The potion turns her mother into a bear.  Her father (Billy Connolly) hates bears, having lost his leg to a bear attack.  Merida has to get mother out of the house, and switch her back.  Meanwhile her triplet younger brothers also get turned into bear cubs.  Merida finds out the key to restoring her mother is to mend her pride in terms of her relationship with her mother.  There are a couple stand out quotes, having to be responsible for our own futures:

Merida: [voice over] Some say our destiny is tied to the land, as much a part of us as we are of it. Others say fate is woven together like a cloth, so that one's destiny intertwines with many others. It's the one thing we search for, or fight to change. Some never find it. But there are some who are led.

Merida: [voice over] Some say fate is beyond our command, but I know better. Our destiny is within us. You just have to be brave enough to see it.

This is a feel good show.  It has a positive motivational theme.  Tony and I enjoyed it together.

Movie Review: *****The Sound of Music

This is one of my favorite movies of all time.  I saw it when it first came out at a theater in Denver, where we had traveled for my father's graduation with his Masters in Library Science from the University of Denver.  It was at a big theater in Denver.  And what a presentation from the "Sound Of Music" in the Austrian Alps, and Maria running full speed to make the bell, which she fails miserable.
This show has many high-lights.  My favorite is the Mother Abyss singing "Climb Every Mountain to Maria, telling her to face her challenges rather than run from them:
Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path you know.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
'Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.

Don't you just love the two nuns confessing "I have sinned" as she shows the Reverand mother the car parts, as the von Trapp family makes its way over the mountain. 

Movie Reviews: ****^Rigoletto

****^Rigoletto:  This movie is a low-budget film which we received through Featured Families, 1993.  It is a musical.  It has Joseph Paur as Rigoletto and Ivey Lloyd as Bonnie Nelson, who is put out to work for the mean Rigoletto.  The movie is disjointed at times, but listening to Joseph Paur sing "The Curse", and to a lesser extent Ivey Lloyd sing "Music Boxes" is a delight and makes this musical very enjoyable.  I have watched this movie over and over.  I am always ready to watch it again.
This movie was filmed in Utah.  A couple of people in the auditorium were friends of mine when we lived in Roosevelt.  It is excellent family entertainment.

Movie Review: ***^ Cannery Row

The credits indicate this is based on the John Steinbeck books Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday.  It is 90 percent Sweet Thursday with a little Cannery Row, like the frog roundup thrown in for good luck.  The first book let us know that Suzy wasn't the first to live in the boiler.  A couple had preceded her.  We don't see this in the movie.  The movie has a couple twists to the relationship of Doc (Nick Nolte) and Suzy, (Debra Winger) like Doc having been a baseball player.  Doc's place gets broken up like the first book, and he ticks off Suzy like in the second book.  I like the spunkiness of Suzy's character.  However I think she was too hookerized.  Part of the fun of the book is she just didn't fit with that life style.  There was no way for the movie to portray the different voices talking to the Doc.  They really make the book interesting, the drive and the futility of the drive. 
Nolte does an adequate job as the Doc.  He does seem more like and ex-baseball player than the Doc from the book.  I miss the Doc's rich eccentric friend, who sponsors him in the end to get a high powered microscope.  The movie ends with Mac and the boys earning money and they mistakenly get him a telescope.
This movie ends happy with Suzy learning to drive so she can drive Doc to La Joya.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

TV Review: Classic Doctor Who: The Three Doctors

This is a 1972 opening series of the tenth season of Doctor Who, and is the first in which a prior Doctor comes back.  It features the first three Doctors, who are brought together by the Time Lords as the home world of the Time Lords is under attack, and their energy is being sapped into a black hole. Because of this attack, the Time Lords go against their own rules, and put the three Doctors together to attack the threat.  The Doctors are played by John Pertwee (third and current to movie Doctor) Patrick Troughton (second) and first William Hartnell (First).  The first Doctor is not able to materialize, due to insufficient energy, but appears on a view screen.  He is often the most level headed, and is sent to calm the other two down.  As the first two get together, they become engaged in a rivalry, which hinders their effectiveness.  The stream in the black whole is sent to find a Time Lord.  The Doctors eventually discern that they need to follow the stream, and so they do so.  There the find an old Time Lord Omega, who helped establish the Time Lord realm to begin with, but all thought he had sacrificed himself in an explosion.  His "will" has allowed him to exist where nothing should exist, in a black whole which is made of antimatter.  However as his "will" is what allows him to exist, he cannot leave.  He has brought the Time Lord to force them to use their will so he can leave.  However he has gone made, and actually the particles have destroyed his body, so he is an empty suit of armor.  Omega has accidentally brought many friends and others from Earth to the black whole, in his attempts to find a Time Lord.  He agrees to send them back, if the two Doctor Who's stay.  They agree.  However the use Omega's insanity and anger against him, and are realized, and restored to their natural spot, when Omega is set free through death.  The black hole becomes a star.
I found this entertaining.  The soldiers of the world created have interesting weapons, but they seem to always miss.   Their appearance is somewhat grotesque.  They energy being which is sending everyone to the black hole is a interesting special effect.

TV Movie Review: ****It's an Adventure Charlie Brown

This is a delightful little bit available through Instant Netflix. It doesn't have any real plot, but shows numerous humorous short stories.  Reminds me of when we were younger, my friends and I would get a Peanuts book and read it together on the stair landing at South Cache Junior High School.  This reminds me of those times, and it is very fun.  Charlie Brown coaches a younger team, he is elected president at summer camp, Lucy tries to get rid of Linus' blanket, but Snoopy keeps bringing it back.  There are numerous other funny bits.  It made me smile.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus: L Frank Baum

I was looking for something not Oz but Baum at the used book store, and this is what I found.  This book was published in 1902, or shortly after the Wizard of Oz and before the second Oz book The Marvelous Land of Oz.  It tells Baum's version of where Santa Claus came from, and how he came to be Santa Claus with hints into different customs.  NeClaus is the name given him by the fairy princess after he is taken in by Wood Nymph Necile.  The name means Necile's Little One.  The Ak; Master Woodsman takes a liking to him, and allows him to stay.  It is also he who shows Claus his own kind as a young man after he had lived with the immortals his entire childhood.  Claus decides to live among his own kind, but stays close to the forest people in the Laughing Valley of Hohaho.   Claus takes it upon himself to make children happy, by making them toys.  They were not any toys at the time.  In doing so he makes himself an enemy of Awgwas who like children to be miserable.  They try to kill him, and each time he is rescued by the immortals.  Finally there is a great battle and the Awgwas and their hosts are destroyed, and Claus is free to deliver toys to the people of the world.  He notices that reindeer and deliver faster than he with a sleigh.  However the reindeer are controlled by Knooks who can be grouchy.  They finally agree Claus can use reindeer on day a year, Christmas Eve.  The reindeer have a special diet and favors from the other immortals so they can perform this task. Claus is given the name Santa by the children of the world.  Finally Claus grows old and death is sure to overtake him, putting a stop to annual toy delivery.  However Ak takes pity on him, and Claus is given the cloak of immortality, and thus has the energy of a youth but the appearance of an old man.
This little book has an explanation for many Christmas traditions including the Christmas Tree, the sleigh, bells, chimneys, toys, workshop, etc. etc.  This quotes I found insightful

The Ak: Yet suffering in moderation, is the natural lot of mortals, and it is not out place to interfere with the laws of nature.

narrator: But it is the law while Evil, unopposed, may accomplish terrible deeds, the power of Good can never be overthrown when opposed to Evil.

Narrator speaking of Claus: For a generous deed lives longer than a great battle or a king's decree or a scholar's essay, because it spreads and leaves its mark on all nature and endures through many generations.

"In all this world there is nothing so beautiful as a happy child," says good old Santa Claus; and if he had his way the children would all be beautiful, for all would be happy.

Movie Reviews: ****Napoleon Dynamite

****Napoleon Dynamite  This is the movie that introduces the world to Jon Heder.  Our Bishop's son had a minor part trying to break a Tupperware bowl.  He was also an assistant director.  I saw this at the movie theater, and as I left the theater I heard one women say this was the worse movie she had every seen, while another young man said it was the best thing he had ever seen.  It has a different type of humor, which grows on you the more times you see the movie.  Napoleon is fun with "his skills" which show through in the end.  I also love this movie because it shows Mormon culture without flaunting it.  It has Deseret Industries, rural Preston (which is in Cache Valley where I grew up,) dry farmed wheat, cattle butcher visiting your house, fishing for bass and horse back riding.  This are things I grew up with.

Book Review: ***^The Cat Who Smelled a Rat

This is my first experience with a Lilian Jackson Braun book, and this is obviously not the first.  Inside the cover it has 25 other "Cat" books. This was published 2001 so there are likely more, however Sheri says the author has now passed away. Since we are now cat owners, I figured I would give it a try.

This book tells the story of a semi retired columnist.  He still writes his column, but seems to be independently wealthy.  He has two Siamese cats.  The cats sense something is wrong.  The fires are not accidental.  And so we have a mistery which the columnist helps to figure out, with the aid of the cats.  The clue they need is discovered by one of the cats.  I don't think there is a moral or theme to the book, other than having a good time--which I needed this week.

I think I enjoyed this enough to venture to some more books.  Sheri says she has read them all.

Movie Review: ****Of Mice and Men (1939)

This is the 1939 movie version of John Steinbeck's book which was published in 1937.  There are a couple things I like better in this movie than the Gary Sinise John Malkovich version.  And there are a couple things that I don't like as well.  This version gives much more focus to the situation of Curly's wife.  It is interesting that she is not named.  She is a non-person.  To Curly she is a pretty possession he has to look out for.  He spends much of his energy accusing others flirting with his wife.  She for her part longs to go to the movies, but Curly goes to town with his friends.  Apparently she has no mother-in-law, and father-in-law does not like her to play music.  In the end she does not have a life.  This movie portrays her being kicked out at the end, and she comes back to get her puppy.  As for Curly this movie leaves out the bit about using Vaseline on his hands.  However he does tangle with Lenny, and gets his hand smashed.  I like the look of the splint they put on his hand.  I don't care as much for this Lenny as John Malkovich.  He leaves a sense of pretending to Lenny, rather than actually being the character.  I like Crooks in this version, with his twisted back, and bitterness that he can't associate with the other men because of the color of his skin.  I also really like Candy, his reactions to his dog being shot, and then is having hope of getting a place with Lenny and George.
The ending is done is in good taste, showing George and his reaction, rather than the physical brutality of the bullet hitting Lenny in the head.  This is a very good version, and it being so soon to the release of the book, leaves me to think John Steinbeck had an active role.  Steinbeck did write a theatrical version of this book.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Movie Review: ***^ O'Henry's Full House

This is a movie which present five short stories of O'Henry and is narrated by John Steinbeck.  Some of the stories were familiar to me.  The first is "The Cop and the Anthem."  This is the basis for a Red Skelton sketch.  Briefly, the story is of a "bum" who is down on his luck.  Winter is coming on, so he determines three months in jail would be nice and warm.  However he finds it difficult to get arrested.  He throws a rock through a window, and they chase someone else; he eats a fine meal with no means to pay, and gets thrown out.  Nothing seems to work.  He finds himself in a church, and his heart is pricked and he decides he should get a job and start a new life.  However he is arrested for vagrancy, and thrown in jail for three months, he gets what he wants, the second he doesn't want it.

The Clarion Call is a police story which pits a detective against his old friend he grew up with.  His friend turned out to be a criminal, who has just killed a man in a burglary.  However he holds a mark over the detective, a $1000 mark of money he loaned the detective.  He knows the detective cannot repay, and cannot turn him in as long as he is in his debt.  The detective gets out of the bind by getting the reward money offered by a paper for his arrest, and giving this to the criminal.

The third is "The Last Leaf,"  I recently reviewed the BYU version of this movie.  This version is more a period piece.  It does not have such a close relationship between the painter and the girls, but mostly one of acquaintance.  However the sacrifice of the painter is just as real as he paints his masterpiece.

The Ransom of Red Chief is well done and very funny.  It is about a kidnapping.  The con men have an old car which is humorous all to itself.  I am pretty sure there is a Don Knots movie of the same theme (No Deposit No Return.)  This movie is very funny, as the family enjoys a couple days without their terror of a son, and the kidnappers are forced ts pay him parents to take him back. 

The last movie is "The Gift of the Magi."  There is a similar movie with Marie Osmond.  This version is very well done as well.  It does not show what their pride and joys are, but shows the anguish at getting money to but Christmas.  There is no bonus this year, but she has the barber cut her hair for a wig, and she is able to but a chain for his watch.  He sells his watch so as to get combs for her hair.  They know they love each other after they have given their most priced possession for the other.

This movie is worthy of watching.  It was enoyable and is good family fair.

Movie Review: **** Emma (1996)

This is the Jane Austen BBC, A&E movie, 1996, starring Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong.  In Jane Austen's way, it is a romantic comedy involving the British upper society.  It has Emma arranging marriages, and doing rather poorly except with regards to her governess.  She next sets up a young woman of questionable background with the vicar, and this turns our badly; although the vicar does propose to her, Emma.  It isn't until after her for her good neighbor confronts her bad behavior at a party, that she starts to realize she loves the neighbor, and when another suitor appears, she finds herself even more in love.  This movie has the Austen charm and is well done.  This version is better received than the feature version produced about the same time.   Kate Beckinsale is lovely in her role, and we all hate the vicar's wife, someone from outside the community who happens to have an inheritance but also has airs.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Movie Reviews: ***Last of the Mohicans

"Last of the Mohicans" (1992) is based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper.  The action takes place during the French and Indian War.  Magua (Wes Studi) (Huron Tribe fighting with the French) has a bitter grudge against Colonol Edmund Munro and his two daughters (Madeleine Stowe and Jodhi May).   He attacks a column that is taking the girls to their father.  They are rescued by Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) (adopted Mohican) and his Mohican brother and father.  This draws him into the war on the side of the British.  He becomes enamored with one of the daughter's, and there are several scenes when they are longing each other.  Hawkeye takes them to the fort, which is under siege, where the girl's father is in command.  The British and French reach agreement where the British are allowed to leave.  However Magua and the Huron warriors pursue them, leading to a great battle.  The Colonel is killed, and Hawkeye again escapes with the girls.  However they are about to be captured, and Hawkeye leaves them with a promise to return and effect a rescue.
This movie has lots of good action; there are at least three battle scenes.  The last of the Mohicans is always coming to the rescue, but will he arrive in time.

Movie Reviews: ****Wreck-it Ralph (2012)

"Wreck-It Ralph" is produced by Disney.  Tony saw this with me.  Tony says the best part of the movie was the fighting.  John C Reilly portrays Wreck-it Ralph who is not happy with his status in life--the bad guy in the video game Fix-it Felix.  He has been at it for thirty years.  He crashes the party for the thirty year anniversary.  He was not invited.  He is told, if he can win a medal, then he can hang with the other game characters in the pent house.  And so he goes on a trek to a shooting game against viral bugs.  He wins his medal, but in getting it, a viral bug attaches to his vehicle, and he ends up crashing in candy land.  Alan Tudyk plays the bad guy--king of candy land, and sounds and looks just like Ed Wynn (Uncle Albert from Mary Poppins).   Albert befriends Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) who supposedly is a glitch.  This friendship has several nuances which make it entertaining as Vanellope attempts to get into the race and win.  Having a friend cures Albert of his doldrums, and gives meaning to his life.  His relation also improves with others of his own game.  This is not a traditional Disney with singing, but it does have relationships and a very good villain.

Movie Review: ****^Wait Until Dark (1967)

This is an excellent movie which features Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman, Susy Hendrix.  Somehow she becomes entangled in a drug smuggling case, when her husband brings home a doll from an overseas trip.  They are both innocent bystanders, but still the doll is wanted by the drug lord (Alan Arkin) who is willing to kill or do whatever he needs to do to get his heroin stash.  They have searched the house, but not found the doll.  They now plan to play a intricate con game to get Mrs. Hendrix to divulge the location of the doll.  The neighbor girl has borrowed the doll, not telling anyone.  This movie has lots of intrigue and danger.  Susie Hendrix seems so vulnerable.  I keep it with our Alfred Hitchcock movies, even though it is not.  This movie does not have anything inappropriate other than violence.  It is good for a scare.

Movie Review: ****Super 8 (2011)

"Super 8" is an enjoyable movie and I had a good time watching it.  It stars Joel Courtney in his first roll and Elle Fanning who are forming a love interest relationship as Joe Lamb and Alice Dainard.  The show starts with the death of Joe's mother in an industrial accident, and Alice's father blaming himself.  Joe's best friend, Charles Kaznyck has a crush on Alice, and invites her to participate in the movie he is making.  Instead of leading to his forming a relationship, it sparks Joe and Alice, against the wishes of their fathers, to form a relationship.  Charles becomes angry as he realizes Alice likes Joe back.
 However this show is more than relationships, but an "ET" on steroids.  It was produced by Steven Spielberg.  It starts with a horrendous train crash which Joe and his friends witness, which turns out to be an attempt to help the ET escape.  However this ET is not cute, and he terrorizes the town.  What he doesn't get of the town, the Air Force does. 
I really like Elle Channing's acting, the rivalry between their fathers, and the alien is gruesome.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

TV Review: Doctor Who: ***The Ark in Space

This is a 1975 episode of Doctor Who with Tom Baker as the Doctor and Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith.  It pits The Doctor on an ark 4000 years into the future.  The humans on the ark have frozen themselves in sleep as a way of saving the human race, projecting themselves into the future as the Earth is no longer sustainable.  This idea worked well, except that a space fly has gotten into the works.  The queen fly accidentally electrocutes herself, but not before giving birth to her larvae, which are set to inhabit the human bodies.  The timing mechanism for the humans to reemerge has been triggered, and several come back to life.  The commander however touches a larvae, and turns into a fly.  The new commander (ex commanders mate) takes over, and they determine to try to electrocute the rest of the flies, except the lead fly who was the commander, has turned off the power.  This episode only has a happy ending because of the sacrifice of some of the crew, including the commander who has just enough humanity left to safe his mate.
Special effects aren't near as good as current series, and The Doctor and the commander both seem rather stiff and unemotional, while Sarah Jane Smith is too emotional.  But it is Doctor Who.

Movie Review: **^RM (2003)

**^RM Kirby Heyborne stars as the returned missionary for whom everything goes wrong.  From his family getting the date wrong when he is returning, so he does not have a ride home, there having moved and not told him, mother pregnant and again he doesn't know to everything else going wrong.  His job is not waiting for him, and neither is his girl.  And so he is starting over.  He does meet a girl, Kelly Powers who is portrayed by Britani Bateman.  The funniest thing about this show is the comparison between the relief society, where they bring ice sculptures to enhance the lesson, and the Elder's quorum, where no one can remember whose turn it is for the lesson and no one has a manual, is too true.  Will Swenson stars as the best friend who didn't go on a mission, and ends up getting the RM into trouble with the law.  The decision comes down to one of being honest, even when it is hard.  I don't like the far out circumstances this show portrays, but then I was never part of a fraternity.

Mormon Movie Review: ***Singles Ward

***Singles Ward  This is an early Mormon Movie, which takes many Mormon cultural aspects, and takes a different look at them.  This includes putting a different tune to many of our favorite primary songs, taking a look at some of our Mormon meetings, and takes a laugh at ourselves.  However it does so in an acceptable fashion, as the lead character has his Enos moment, which leads to his repentance and new start.  There is another switch, as he waits for his missionary.  Will Swenson and Connie Young star as the lead characters Jonathan Jordan and Cammie Giles.  They get off to a terrible start as Jonathan's humor and rudeness over the phone make for difficulty when he meets Cammie in person.  Kirby Heyborne also stars as a young man excited to go on a mission to Boise.
The part about the car bungee jumping was a bit much for me.  I give this movie a mild recommendation.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Book Review: Cannery Row

Cannery Row; John Steinbeck 1945
This book is the story of two great parties, one which goes awry, and one which hits its mark.  Doc is such a swell guy; everyone wants to throw him a party.  Mack, who describes himself as one who tries hard, but things just don’t work out for him.  And so more than the parties, are the characters involved.  Mack and his flophouse friends go on an adventure to find frogs so as to raise money for the first party.  They have a great time finding frogs, get drunk, and meet a man who gives them a pup to bring back.  They come back with hundreds of frogs.
They are able to use the frogs to purchase all the items they need for the party from Lee Chong, decorations, food, more decorations and alcohol.  They only problem is that when they have the surprise party for Doc, in his laboratory, Doc doesn’t show up.  As parties will, it gets out of hand, leaving the laboratory in ruins.  Many of Doc’s record albums are broken, as is the record player, glass is broken, books are left about; it’s a big mess.  When Doc does get home, he finds his place in shambles, and takes out his anger on Mack’s face with a couple hard blows.  He then cleans up the mess.
The second party, Doc is expecting, and even though it is a surprise party, he has prepared for the party.  His nicer albums he has locked away, as well as other stuff he doesn’t want broken.  There are still fights and damage, broken windows etc.  But this time Doc is part of the party, in his nostalgic way.  He quotes poetry which reminds them all of lost loves.  Lee Chong participates, giving Doc a long string of firecrackers, which they set of in the early hours of the morning.  This is a party they will remember for a long time.
Mixed in these stories of the parties are the characters.  They boy who helps Doc collect from the ocean, who is not allowed to go to school as he has a learning problem, and in his efforts to get something nice for the part sets himself on his way to reform school for stealing; a Chinaman who spends each night by the ocean; Malloy and his wife who live in an old boiler; the flop house friends and their dog-- bums really, but they have a place to stay thanks to Lee Chong.  Lee Chong is the Chinese grocer who is shrewd in business, and has everything you might need in his shop—but nothing is ever on sell.  There are the characters of the Bear Flag Restaurant--    really a whore house; from the bouncer to the madame.
Understanding characters is what John Steinbeck is about.  To understand Doc, one must understand the tides.  He is a student of the tides, which helps him in his collecting of animals to sell to universities.  He visits La Jolla, collecting octopi.  While he is out as far as you can go, before the tide starts coming back in; he comes upon the body of a young woman under the water, wedged between a couple of rocks.  She is beautiful in her way, but also scary and mysterious.  Doc is affected by this, and reports it to a gentleman along the beach who will inform the police.
This is a fun book.  It does not have all the characters in the movie.  However I understand there is a sequel, ”Sweet Thursday.”  Some of the movie is from that book as well.

Movie Review: The Gaucho (1927)

I was hoping to get the story of El Gaucho, Martin Fierro.  This is not that story.  This is more a Robin Hood type movie starring Douglas Fairbanks.  This movie is a silent movie and stars Douglas Fairbanks as El Gaucho.  He is the head of a band of thieves which roam the Andean Mountains in Western Argentina.  He has been plundering the area, and has a serious girlfriend.  This movie tells hits story, but also the story of a miraculous healing water which is blessed by The Virgin.  There is a woman who fell from a cliff, and woke up and saw an apparition of the virgin, and also was healed from the wounds of her fall in the blessed water.  There is a community which forms around this shrine called the City of Miracles.  This city has much gold as people who are cured miraculously donate gold.  With this they hope to take care of the poor. 
However an usurper, Ruiz, conquers the city, throws the poor in jail, and steals the gold.  The Gaucho is also intent on stealing the gold.  He does conquer the town, but he does not find the gold.  He pardons the poor, but the man with the black death he says should go shoot himself because he poisons everyone with is breath. The movie takes a twist when this man infects The Gaucho, and The Gaucho's hand starts turning black.  The saintly woman leads him to the shrine to heal him if he has faith.  However the girl friend sees them and becomes jealous.  She betrays them to Ruiz' men.  However in the meantime he is healed by the sacred water, as is the man with the black plague.  The girlfriend realizes what she has done, and brings The Gaucho's men to the rescue.  In this movie we see Fairbanks doing his swashbuckling moves through the trees as he makes his escape.  They use a cattle stampede to defeat Ruiz and his men.
A couple points of historical interest.  The Gauchos roamed The Pampas more than the Andes, and this is where most of the large cattle estates were.  However, Fairbanks and Lupe Velez dance a tango.

Movie Reviews: ***Nightmare Before Christmas

***^The Nightmare Before Christmas:  This is a Tim Burton classic.  This is close to a Halloween movie.  It presents Halloween taking over Christmas in the form of Jack Skellington; Jack (Danny Elfman and Chris Sarandon)  who has become bored with Halloween.  Jack's love interest is Sally. (Catherine O'hara) They decide to invade Christmas.  They kidnap Santa, and Jack takes off on the sleigh, to deliver presents of a different type--which quickly offends the population.  He is seen as an imposter, and blown from the sky.  In the meantime, the Boogie man has been torturing Santa, which wasn't suppose to happen.  If something doesn't change Christmas will be ruined.
I enjoyed this movie for the most part; even with the gross Halloween stuff.  I am not sure of the theme.  Maybe it is that you have to know who you are and stay in your place.