Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Movie Review: **^ White Christmas (1954)

"White Christmas" seems to be a cookie cutter movie of male duet act meets sister duet act and so begins a romance.  What this movie has is the song White Christmas written by Irving Berlin.  It also has Danny Kay and Bing Crosby.  You really have to love Bing Crosby's voice.  These two always do some great dances.  The theme of this movie is that it is best not to over hear conversations, because this can lead to misunderstandings. Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen play the female sister act. 

Movie Review: ***Brigham Young

This is an entertaining story, but not very well historical.  This movie is a Hollywood production, not a Church production.  Even with the inaccuracies, it does tell a very good story of faith and perseverance in the West.  However it wasn't easy, and then shows through more than anything.  Vincent Price portrays Joseph Smith, Dean Jagger, Brigham Young, John Carradine, Porter Rockwell.  A fictional family, Jonathan Kent and Zina Webb are played by Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell.  An interesting tidbit is that Dean Jagger converted to Mormonism after the movie.  The movie sometimes focuses too much polygamy, but the story is well done.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas Movie Review: ***Fred Claus

This puts the Santa Claus story in a new light.  Fred is Santa's older brother.  Not everything is cool between the brothers, as Fred has struggled living in the shadow of his younger brother.  Perhaps this is why Fred tends to the naughty side.  Finally, using tough love, Santa insists Fred come to the North Pole to work for the money he is needing.  This isn't a good year for Fred to be at the North Pole, as there is an intense audit going on, and Santa is under threat of being fired, and Christmas abolished.  Santa and Fred eventually air their grievances in a snowball fight, which gets rough, and Santa is left with a bad back.  He cannot deliver presents.  By the rules, only a Claus can deliver presents.  If they are not delivered by morning, Santa Claus will be done away and all the elves fired.  This movie stars Vince Vaughn as Santa.  This movie has some sexual inuendo, an employee who is scantily dressed, so a parent may want to watch this before letting children watch.  This is a made for TV movie.

Christmas Movie Review: ***Shrek The Halls

This short animated movie carries on the theme of the Donkey interfering with Shrek's home life.  In this movie the Shreks have had triplets, and Shrek wants his first Christmas to be perfect, based on a book he has read.  Donkey and friends destroy this peace.  However in the end Shrek finds his own Christmas story.   This story is not as good as "The Grinch" but it is cute in its way.

Movie Review: *****Krueger's Christmas
This is my all time favorite Christmas movie.  It was produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1980 and stars Jimmy Stewart.  I watch it every year, at least once.  I don't know what it is, but I cry every time I watch this movie.  It is the part where Mr. Krueger finds himself a spectator of the first Christmas.  his talk with Jesus is so deep and emotional.  I see myself also bowing and worshiping our Lord.  I like other parts of the movie--The BYU Dancers, The Tabernacle Choir, the carolers.  And the little girl who warms everyone's heart.  I even like George the cat. This movie I highly recommend.  Jimmy Stewart stars.  Michael McLean produced and contributed to the story.  Kieth Merrill directed.

Movie Review: ***^Yes Virginia There Is a Santa Claus (2009)

This is the 2009 TV remake of this story.  It uses more modern computer enhanced animation to tell the story.  It adds a corner Santa to the story, but the Charlotte is just as mean and spiteful as the original.  I enjoyed it very much, and it has a song from the musical at the conclusion, "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Clause."

Movie Review: ****^Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Clause (1974)

I really enjoy this short movie.  It is based on a true story of a little girl seeking to counteract her doubts about Santa Clause.  She wants to believe, but has some doubts.  She finally writes to the paper, asking her question.
I found the real story very interesting, and is presented through this website.
There is also a new musical sponsored by Macy's which is available on You Tube, but also for performing.  I watched this, and even knowing what was coming, was touched by the final number, "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Clause."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Which Christmas Radio Station Do You Prefer?

The Christmas season is now in full gear.  KJOY 99.3 has been playing Christmas for a few days, KOIT 96.5 is on boards as of yesterday, and KBAY 94.5 has started with the music today.  KJOY is a Stockton station that doesn't reach the Bay area.  KBAY really doesn't Manteca, and KOIT does reach Manteca, but is sometimes week signaled.  However I have been pleasantly surprised.  In fact I think I prefer it, because they do not shy away from the traditional, Christian, Christmas music.  I like to hear the traditional songs, in fact I usually prefer them. 
There are many more choices these days.  There is music through the TV Dish or cable.  There are also choices for Hula.  However, I think I prefer KJOY.
2016 This year I add another radio station to the list.  This is Sunny 102.3 out of Modesto.  This  gave me a couple stations in the valley, and if I didn't like one I could switch to the other.  I like more spiritual music than the secular, and some songs are just too much (like moaning for a guy).  My major complaint is that they turn off the Christmas music much to early.  I could listen at least through the end of Christmas break.

Movie Review: ****Christmas for a Dollar

This is a short movie, if you can call it a movie.  It is more a slide show presentation.  However the story is very compelling, and it is presented with artist renditions of the story.  It tells the story of a depression era Christmas.  It is a true story written by Gale Sears and the illustrator is Ben Sowards.  Although the format is not the normal acted out drama, the story draws you in.  The premise is what kind of Christmas can the family have on only one dollar; which for them is a lot.  To get the full impact, you need to watch the bonus material, where the author describes how this story came about, why she wrote it, and the importance of her own family legacy.  I think this is why the movie was so compelling to me, I have been focusing on my own family legacy in writing the history of my Great-great grandfather.

Movie Review: ***^The Absent Minded Professor (1961)

This is an old Disney movie, but still a good one.  The premise is the professor gets so focused on what he is doing, he sometimes forgets things, like his own wedding.  However he does invent something he calls Flubber.  Flubber increases in energy as it bounces.  With this he helps the basketball team win, he impresses on the dance floor, and he makes a car that flies.  He tries to attract the government to buy his invention, so he can save the university from a loan shark.  However they aren't interested, at least not openly.  This is a fun show.  Sure the 1961 special effects aren't great, but Fred MacMurray is.  Also stars Nancy Olson as his girlfriend, Tommy Kirk as the loan shark's son and Ed Wynn in a small role as the fire chief.

Music Review: *****Neil Diamond Greatest Hits

Neil Diamond Greatest Hits 1966-1990

In this CD I have found an old friend.  I visited the used C.D. store across the street from where I work, Streetlight C.D.  They have a store full of old classics, but in the interest I only purchased three to start off with.  Each of my purchases was an old friend, and none more than Neil Diamond’s hits.   This two-C.D. set offers 37 hit songs.  I must admit that there are a few I don’t care for, but for the most part I scored each song either four or five stars.  There are a couple favorites.
I was a fan of the Jazz Singer movie, and this has three songs from the movie.  My favorite is “Hello.”  This is the classic story of separated lovers.  There is also a song form Jonathon Seagull entitled “Be.”  Another classic.  Then of course there are the songs that I really love, that get to Diamond’s soul.  “I am… I said” which is delivered with lots of energy, and explores the life of being separated by work from the ones you love; your home, while making a home for yourself in new environs.  Similar to Sheri and I heading to California 20 years ago.  A friend of mine pointed out that to say, “I am I said, to no one there, and no one heard, not even the chair,” is sort of a silly lyric, but I love it anyway.  “Sweet Caroline” is another favorite.  Songs such as this just make you tingle inside with pleasure.  “Song Sung Blue” is also fun.  My only complaint is that some of the songs were recorded at a concert, and includes mumble jumble to get the crowd excited.  I like the original version of the songs.  A couple more favorites are “Longfellow Serenade” and “Holy Holy.”  Neil Diamond has a way of putting lots of energy into a few lyrics.  Another treat is a duet with Barbra Streisand, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore.”  This collection mixes older songs with a few newer ones.  This song is wonderful. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Music Review: ***The Radio City Christmas Spectacular (2007)

First off, the Rockettes are fantastic.  How they can do what they do, and so effortlessly is truly a miracle.  They are so precise with hands and legs, it makes for a very fun time.  "Twelve Days of Christmas was great, as was their final number.  How they can kick so many times in a row, without exhaustion is amazing.  I really liked their dances; however other parts of the presentation left me flat.  I hated the bear Nutcracker, and the flying was too much.  The vocals were always just loud, with too many painted on smiley faces.  It was like having too much sweet for breakfast.  I loved that they presented the nativity scene.  However it was too extravagant.  I would have liked it more humble, as Jesus was.

Movie Review: ***The Gift of the Magi (2010)

This is a remake of the O. Henry classic.  However in this version we substitute an antique car and a camera for the hair and watch.  This version adds a marital fight and separation just before the giving of gifts.  I didn't really care for this part, because if they were truly people who sacrificed so much as they did, I think they would have had more trust.  The two things did not fit in my mine.  The separation was based on a misunderstanding and lots of pride.  He saw her with a man, who in fact was her second boss at a job she took to make money for his gift.  There is a side story of the best friends of each of the main characters needing to find someone, and having been unlucky in love in the past.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas Movie Reviews: ****^ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas' (animated) presentation of the Whos and The Grinch is classic.  This is animated short presentation based on the book by Dr. Seuss.  I especially like the dog, and the big horn he has to wear, and then the sleigh he pulls.   When he is on the pinnacle, and it looks like everything will fall and be destroyed, the dog's big eyes tell the whole story.  Could the Grinch's heart be melted?  If it could, he could save the day.  I couldn't watch this enough.  Boris Karloff voices the Grinch.  Dr. Seuss is credited with the lyrics to the songs.
Your a mean one Mr. Grinch

You're a mean one, Mister Grinch
You really are a heel,
You're as cuddly as a cactus, you're as charming as an eel, Mister Grinch,

You're a bad banana with a greasy black peel!

You're a monster, Mister Grinch,
Your heart's an empty hole,
Your brain is full of spiders, you've got garlic in your soul, Mister Grinch,

I wouldn't touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole!

You're a vile one, Mister Grinch,
You have termites in your smile,
You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile, Mister Grinch,

Given a choice between the two of you I'd take the ... seasick crocodile!

You nauseate me, Mister Grinch,
With a nauseous super "naus",
You're a crooked dirty jockey and you drive a crooked hoss, Mister Grinch,

You're a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich, with arsenic sauce!

You're a foul one, Mister Grinch,
You're a nasty wasty skunk,
Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk, Mister Grinch,

The three words that describe you are as follows, and I quote, "Stink, Stank, Stunk!"

You're a rotter, Mister Grinch,
You're the king of sinful sots,
Your heart's a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots, Mister Grinch,

Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots!

Music Review: *****Music and the Spoken Word: Chirstmas Season

"Music and the Spoken Word" comes on multiple times on BYUTV.  You can also see some episodes on their website.  They add special guests this time of year, or you can watch old episodes with special guests.  I have seen Alfie Boe sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."  This was followed by the story of the "candy bomber" narrated by Tom Brokaw.  I was just watching David Archuleta singing a couple years ago with the choir.  I have also seen the story of Silent Night from WWI. Another episode has Angela Lansbury singing "We Need a Little Christmas.  Some of the episodes even feature dancers and performers.
I give a heart endorsement for these musical presentations.  There is sure to be something to bring peace to your heart.
This is a link to BTUTV where you can see many of these episodes.

Christmas Movie Review: ****Little Lord Fauntleroy

I love this movie.  It is a made for TV film.  It ends with a Christmas feast, making it  Christmas movie.  Little Lord Fauntleroy is raised by an American mother, in humble circumstances.  It is when he is a bit older, and his brother and uncles have all passed away that he discovers he is a Lord, the son of an Earl.  His mother agrees to take him to England so he can take is rightful place, be educated.  However the earl does not want to invite the mother into his home.  She agrees only on the understanding that nobody tell her son why she lives in a separate cottage. 
The Earl has it in his heart to change the little lord, however things do not work out that way.  Little Lord Fontelroy is smarter than he looks.  He does good deeds and blames them on his grandfather.  Eventually this makes an impression on the tenants and people in the community.  It also has an effect on the Earl, and eventually his heart is melted. 
Alec Guinness stars as the earl and Ricky Schroder as Little Lord Fauntleroy.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: ****City of Ember

"City of Ember" is written by Jeanne DuPrau and published in 2003 by Yearling.  The premise of this book is very well done.  A safe haven city is beginning to deteriorate and run out of supplies after 230 years of habitation.  It was designed to last 200 years, and then instructions were left to help the people escape, and supposedly reinhabit the earth.  The city is plagued by more and more frequent black outs.  The generator which runs by hydro-power, is more and more prone to breaking down.  Lina Mayfleet has just finished school and is assigned to be a runner.  Doon Harrow, her classmate is assigned to the plumbing world, working underneath the city.  Lina discovers the old instructions for Egress, how to escape the city.  It is difficult to decipher them, as they were chewed by her baby sister.  This story has intrigue, and problem solving, and exploration and adventure, and a twist at the end.  I enjoyed this read.

Christmas Movie Review: ***On the Second Day of Christmas (1997)

This is a made for T.V. movie.  It has an OK story, but it glamorizes pick pocketing and has a six your old girl participating in the same and setting a good example for our kids.  I am glad I didn't have my own six-year-old watch this.  I know it is a way to make a relationship movie, good guy falls for bad girl and her daughter.  Sort of the opposite of the Curly Sue movie.  Mark Ruffalo and Mary Stuart Masterson star and Howard Hesseman has a guest role.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Movie Review: ****^Silent Night (2012)

This movie is more than a film about the writing and first performance of "Silent Night."  Although it does tell this story.  Joseph Mohr is the assistant priest, however the priest is often away as he attends to a larger church.  This movie is about the priest Joseph Mohr (Carsten Clemens) and his overcoming bitterness which might result from his work, and loving people, but watching them die.  He supports a singe mother, and her sick son.  In his illness he reads the poem he has written, "Silent Night" to him, and he takes comfort from the words.  Mohr organizes a choir from among local citizens, many of whom do not attend church.  They sing in German, which is not right according to the lead priest, who arranges for the transfer of Joseph Mohr.  Joseph Mohr, asks the parish organist, Franz Gruber (Markus von Lingen),  to write a special Christmas song.  However this work bogs down as the parish organ stops working, and Joseph is too involved int he writing and offends the organist.  Joseph determines to give up move to a different parish, and let his bitterness over take him.  However he is confronted by the mother of the boy who passed away.  She reminds him how he loved the poem, and asks that he not let her son's death be for nothing.  With renewed faith, he takes the poem to Franz Christmas Eve, asking him to set it to music for Christmas Eve Mass.  He takes his guitar with him.  The choir is invited to sing the last stanza of each verse, and Franz and Joseph sing the song as a duet.  I like this movie because of the internal struggle of the priest, who makes a decision not to become as the older head priest, who is bitter and cynical.  It is good to be reminded that our attitude, to a great extent is a choice, despite our circumstances.  I also liked the portrayal of a young woman, who likes to sing, and becomes so enthused at one point she things with the choir.  I guess choirs were all male at that time and this causes a scandal.  I often am overcome with the desire to sing myself, and sometimes getting in trouble singing too much.
This movie is made by writer and director Christian Vuissa.  He is a Mormon directory who has made several Mormon movies. 

Christmas Movie Review: *The Family Stone

This movie was not only predictable, it belittled those who didn't agree with the moral standards of the movie calling them assholes.  The story is pleasant, but I don' think I will ever watch it again.

Christmas Movie Review: ***^Christmas Story

 This is a Finnish film, and it is a very good story explaining where their Santa Claus came from.  He is an orphan, who is finally adopted by a carpenter.  The carpenter not only teaches him the trade, but also leaves him a chest of money.  He then starts as a toymaker who wants to leave toys for everyone, and finishes with a bit of magic.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Movie Review: ****Hunger Games

The thought of children killing children is eerie, and I was hesitant to watch this movie as a result.  I think the bloodshed was done as tastefully as it could be, but still it leaves you with a bad feeling. This movie stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen who is good with a bow and arrow, and volunteers for the Hunger Ganes to save her sister.
I keep mulling in my head, what is the theme of this movie?  What is it trying to say?  Is it saying something about governments and power?  Is it saying something about relationships when there is an over bearing government?  When there is the chance that your child will be picked for a game that will most likely leave you child dead, how do you react?  They try to glorify the contestants, giving them fancy clothes to wear and good food to eat, but there is the ominous presence of death in the room.  The presence of death is engrained in the society through the games, and in this manner the Capitol controls the provinces.
The story goes that they have been playing the “Hunger Games” for the past 74 years—ever since 12 of the provinces rebelled against the government.  The war was won by the government, and the game helps keep this in everyone’s mind, that the provinces were defeated and the central government is supreme.  This is a punishment for the rebellion, but also they say good will from the government as they take only two children from each province each year, rather than the greater bloodshed which would be caused by war. 
The two children Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from district 12 survive the games, having to show everyone they are a couple so as to avoid the wrath of the government.  However there is another boy who loves the heroine, Gale (Liam Hemsworth.) 
The President, portrayed by Donald Sutherland, is in a position to be very evil in the next movie, at least so it appeared at the end of the movie.

Christmas Movie Review: ****A Christmas Memory

This is a made for t.v. movie featuring Patty Duke and Eric Lloyd (Charlie in Santa Clause.)  It is a Truman Capote story.  This is an enjoyable tale of Truman as a boy being raised by four older aunts and uncle.  He has a special relationship with one of the aunts, and they make fruitcake for everyone (30 cakes which they deliver or mail.)  It is also a story of moving on as one of the aunts arranges for him to go to military school.  his is a very good holiday movie

Movie Review: ****^Hunger Games: Catching Fire

It is hard to critique a movie after watching it for the first time, because you are still moved from the emotion of the movie and feeling violence of the movie.  This is the continuation of "Hunger Games."  In this movie, we are introduced to Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) as the spark of revolution.  Her boyfriend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is invited to runaway with a few.  However, how would the protect the entire community.  She is given the task by President Snow (Don Sutherland) of convincing the people that she and her pretend boyfriend, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are madly in love, as was given for the reason they would both take the berries in the first movie.  This is agreed to, but things have already been put into play, and this is something that will be hard to stop.  The provinces are restless, after the last games and Katniss, whether she meant to or not is the reason.  I like the trip to District eleven, and the spontaneous speeches from Katniss and Peeta.  It causes a riot, but was very well done and moving.
And so for the 75th games, she and Peeta are back into the arena.  Again Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) is their mentor.  The new games master is Plutarch Heavensby (Philip Seymour Hoffman.) However this time things are different.  The president, and the empire are still ruthless, putting down the masses, and living a life of extravagance, while those in the provinces starve.  This ruthlessness can became their own undoing however as more and more people turn against them.
This is a great ride, it is a bit bloody, but tremendous fun.  One thing for sure, it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Theatrical Review: ***^ A Christmas Carol: Central Washington U
I enjoyed this theatrical version of "The Christmas Carol."  The reaction of Scrooge the next morning are especially delightful and stand out in my mind.  "I am lighter than air, I am flying, I am a baby, what do I do?"  It is worth watching this version just for the next morning.
The only thing I didn't care for in this version is that the old Scrooge took a role in the ghostly shadows, dancing at Fezziwig's party.  Other than that, a delightful presentation.

Christmas Movie Review: **^DreamWorks: Holiday Classics

**^DreamWorks: Holiday Classics  This presentation is available through Instant Netflix.  It has four different shorts; two presenting the Madagascar characters, then a Donkey Shrek-tacular, and finally a film with "Dragons" and the characters of "How to Train Your Dragon."  Of these films, that one that captured the holiday spirit is one of the penguins in Central Park Zoo "Madagascar Penguins and a Holiday Caper."  The private of the penguins, notices that the polar bear is all alone, and so he determines to get him a Christmas present.  He has to leave the lair secretly, and gets into trouble himself as he is sold as a chew toy to an old woman.  The other penguins come to his rescue and they perform a holiday service for the bear.  The only redeeming song from Donkey is Puss N' Boots singing Fleas Navidad.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Music Review: Joni Mitchell: Blue 1971

This is on You Tube.  Joni Mitchell put out this album in 1971 when she was 27.  She wrote most of the music as she traveled through France after leaving a relationship.  She starts with the song "All I Want."  I like this sentiment from the song. 
All I really really want our love to do
Is to bring out the best in me and in you too
All I really really want our love to do
Is to bring out the best in me and in you

Isn't that what we should focus on in relations, making each other better.  

California starts out as peace anthem, but is more Joni singing about coming home to California.  It was in California where she recorded this album.

Sitting in a park in Paris France
Reading the news and it sure looks bad
They won't give peace a chance
That was just a dream some of us had
Still a lot of lands to see
But I wouldn't want to stay here
It's too old and cold and settled in its ways here
Oh but California

California I'm coming home
I'm going to see the folks I dig
I'll even kiss a Sunset pig
California I'm coming home

However the highlight of this album is "River."

I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
I wish I had a river I could skate away on
I made my baby cry

This theme is repeated several times throughout the album.  In referring to baby, it appears to be talking about a love, but may be a veiled reference to her own baby who was adopted by others when Joni was young.

Christmas Movie Review: ***A Christmas Story (1983)

This is a classic Christmas tail.  It shows the struggles of a boy, Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) and his quest to get a Red Ryder B.B. gun for Christmas.  The scene of the cold flagpole and the tongue is a classic.  I still makes me laugh.  I came close to doing the same thing as a child on a dare.  However, when my tongue started to seal to the pole I pulled back and only lost a few cells of tongue skin, and did not become firmly attached.  You would think the firefighters would have unsealed his tongue with some warm water rather than giving the kid such a jerk.  This is still a fun story.  "You'll shoot your eyes out kid." is a classic line.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: ****^Mockingjay (Hunger Games 3)

This story starts with Catniss Everdeen having to decide if she is willing to be the “Mocking Jay” or no.  She finally agrees, if she is allowed to be the won to kill President Snow.  As such she becomes part of the public relations team to turn the rebel provinces against the Capitol.  Eventually all the districts turn, which makes for a last assault.  Much of the book centers on Peeta; who is held captive by the Capitol and Snow.  Peeta is the p.r. man for the Capitol’s cause, arguing against the war.  Those who know Peeta, and love him, when they see him on the t.v. screen, know that he has been tortured and manipulated.
Peeta is finally rescued from the Capitol, along with several other key people.  The first thing he tries to do is choke the life out of Catniss.  Turns out he had been brain washed and manipulated with the use of sting bees which cause delusions.  He has a hard time knowing what is real and what is not.
Catniss and Peeta end on a team in the Capitol.  Catniss is sure Peeta is on the team because  the president of the districts wants her dead.
They fight their way to President Snow's mansion, when the most unexpected things happen.  Reading, it reminded me of the explosion in the third Star Wars, an attempt at assassination.  This explosion had the same jolting effect.  I did not like the result.  The story does not end anything like you would expect, but somehow the author comes to a happy conclusion.  I think I will miss these characters.  Snow dies in the end, but Catniss doesn't kill him. 

Christmas Movie Review: *** Elf

I have always thought this was just a stupid setting to give Will Ferrell a platform to do stupid stuff.  I must admit, it has that element which kept me from really watching it.  I finally did this year, and the story is really cute.  Bob Newhart is his Elf father and James Caan his birth father.  My favorite character is the fellow elf at the store, Jovey played by Zooey Deschanel.  She adds a touch of beauty and class to the show.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Movie Review: A Christmas Carol (1994) animated

This is an animated version of "A Christmas Carol" which really doesn't have much to make it stand out than the other animated versions.  It tells the story adequately, but just so.

Christmas Movie Review: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

***Santa Claus III
  I had never watched this movie before, and was pleasantly surprised.  I enjoyed it more than number two.  Mr. Frost is so evil.  He tricks Scott Calvin into giving up Santa Clause and takes over.  He takes over Christmas.  Every thing goes bad until he is warmed by Lucy's (Calvin's step daughter) magical snow globe.  This was a fun show.

Christmas Movie Review: **^The Santa Clause 2

**^Santa Claus II  The second movie goes a bit too far, with the toy
Santa who takes over the workshop.  The battle between the toys and the elves is mostly just stupid.  However the battle between the two Santas is classic, and the romancing of a Mrs. Claus is fun.  In fact that is the best part of this movie, is the relationship with the school teacher who becomes Mrs. Claus, as required by the Santa Clause (as in rule.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Christmas Movie Review: ***^The Santa Clause I

I have always liked this movie, and the play on words from different Christmas poems and how they fit in; such as the ladder company.  Tim Allen stars as Santa Claus and is funny as always.  Eric Lloyd plays his son.  I also liked the elves and the magic.  The North Pole is very magical.  The Elf security team is a bit overboard, but a fun show.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Movie Review: *^Super Buddies

This is a movie we were all stuck watching as Anthony turned it on.  It is a Disney direct to video effort.  This movie would not have lasted in the regular theater, but Tony was thoroughly entertained.  The plot is that of a space craft of a bad dude, shape changer, or take over your body kind of thing wants to control some power rings who comes to Earth to find them.  Then a good space guy who takes the shape of a dog.  Then some real dogs get the rings and put them on and get special powers including the ability to talk.  This all happens on Grandpa's (John Ratzenberger) farm who reports to the sheriff a spaceship landing.  Sheriff just makes fun as the spaceship is invisible, and the bad guy is now inside a pig.  However he then trades with the sheriff, and goes after the rings on the dogs.  Our dogs will have to learn how to use their powers, and also how to fight together as the bad dud gets a shot in and downs the good spaceman/dog.

Christmas Movie Review: ***^A Chrstmas Carol 2009: Jim Carrey

This is the Disney version of "A Christmas Carol" with Jim Carrey.  The characters are so real with their animation, which is their strength and down fall.  It is just too much over done with the new animations.  It makes the characters scary, much to scary for children, and sometimes for me.  I cannot watch this with Tony.  Gary Oldman plays Bob Cratchit and Colin Firth the nephew, Fred. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Movie Musical Review: ****Oklahoma (1955)

This is a movie presentation of the original musical.  It seems to be very true to the original, including the overture, interacte music and all of the dance music. It starts with Gordon MacRae as Curly McClain singing "Oh what a Beautiful Morning,"  and just gets more delicious from there.  Laurey (Shirley Jones joins him with her beautiful voice.  Curly is courting for Laurey but she is not sure if she wants him, as she has promised to go to the party that night with Jud (Rod Steiger), their ranch hand.  Jud has a chip on his shoulder for anyone who thinks he is better than him.  At the same time there is a love interest between Will (Gene Nelson) and Ado Annie (Gloria Grahame).  I really like the song "Pore Jud is Daid."  If Jud is just playing along, or really thinking about what people will say when he is dead, I don't know.  However this song is a premonition of what is to some.  Laurey and Curly finally hit it off, and get married in the final scene.  This creates bad blood between Curley and Jud, which boils over on the wedding night. 
My only complaint about this movie is too much dancing.  Some of the dancing is cute, but the scene where Laurey is confused, the dance goes for ever.  The entire movie is two and a half hours.  They could have shortened it at least 15 minutes.  I do love the music,  "Oklahoma" is always a favorite, as is "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top."

Christmas Movie Review: ***^A Christmas Carol (1984)

***^ A Christmas Carol 1984 with George C. Scott of Patton fame.  Scott is a better Patton than a Scrooge.  This version entertained but did not inspire.

Musical Review: *****A Christmas Carol
This is titled on YouTube "A Christmas Carol: A New Musical."  I find this to be the most entertaining, moving and emotional version of this story that I have seen.  It was written by Keith Ferguson and Bruce Greer.  This is a December 2011 performance of the First Baptist, Carrollton, TX.
This production captures the true meaning of Christmas, and it puts Jesus into the story, where he belongs for He is the meaning of Christmas.  This production does this in many ways.  It reminds us Christmas is not only a holiday, it is a holly day.  It has Tiny Tim and Bob Crachit at church where the Christmas story is told.
It uses traditional carols throughout, and this adds to the story.  Finally, it shows the repentance of Scrooge, on his knees.  It is in prayer, working with God and the Savior that we find true forgiveness and repentance.  "Though your sins be as scarlet, yet shall they be as whit as snow."
I cannot recommend this performance enough.  I only complaint was that just before Marley makes his entrance, it seems to be a bit overdone.  Too many lights or something.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Christmas Movie Review: *Scrooged (1988)

"Scrooged" 1988 is the worse version of "A Christmas Carol" I have seen.  Bill Murry plays Frank Cross a t.v. executive.  He is the Scrooge character.  This movie is a comedy, but misses with its lame jokes, comparing the story to "Ghost Busters."  This I give my lowest marks.  This movie was just too irreverent.  The only thing I found funny was Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim and her doing a tumbling run after being healed.

Christmas Movie Review: ****A Christmas Carol (1999)

Made for T.V. "A Christmas Carol" 1999 with  Patrick Stewart is one of the better versions and one of my favorite.  In all the viewing I have done, this is the one that takes first place for me.  Patrick Stewart is superb.  In the first he goes to strike a child with his walking stick, which was very harsh.  The movie is choppy at places with stops made for commercial breaks, but the characters come through.  The first ghost was not a woman and I thought this fit perfectly with the character.  The change from miserly to charitable Scrooge was done in a believable fashion.

Christmas Movie Review: ** Christmas Carol, The Movie (2001)

 I must admit, this is not my favorite version.  It does have Kate Winslett as a love interest to Scrooge and she sings beautifully, but it doesn't have much else to recommend it.  It has a non animated section, which I enjoyed.  It showed Charles Dickens traveling to America, and reading the story with some changes. This part was well done.  When he tells the story it is animated.  The movie adds two mice, with the motivation of attracting children to see the show.  The mice just seem obnoxious to me and don't add anything.  In fact they change the tempo of the action.  The animation seems poorly done, although there is a long list of animators.  This is not the version I would pick to see.

Christmas TV Special: ***The Berenstain Bears Christmas Tree
A sweet TV short about the true meaning of Christmas as Papa Bear loses sight for a while as they pursue a Christmas Tree that will be perfect.  Instead he learns to worry about others and this is true Christmas.  "That Christmas star reminds us there is more to Christmas than all the fuss."

Christmas Movie Review: ***A Christmas Carol (1971)

This is the shortest version of “The Christmas Carol” that I have seen.  It is only 27 minutes, but still it tells the complete story, and does a very good job of it as well. Alastair Sim provides voice for Scrooge.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Review: The Magic of Oz

This is another delightful read.  I didn’t harvest as much whit, but the story was very entertaining.  We have the Gnome King coming into play again.  A young lad, who is tired of taking orders and wants to explore, comes upon a magical word which will transform whatever he wants something to transform into.  You just have to be careful not to transform yourself into something that cannot talk.  When the Gnome King sees this power in action, he manipulates the boy into helping him extract revenge upon the people of Oz and to capture the land for themselves. 
They may very likely have been successful, because using the ability to transform things they try to convince the animal to join them.  The animals are wary, but decide to think about it.  In the meantime Dorothy and the Wizard come upon the animals.  They are already mad for the things the Gnome King has told them.
This story shows how your own pride can destroy your plans, especially when your plans are evil to begin with.  Our story includes plenty of treachery, and lots of magic.  I will leave you to read the book to find out how pride frustrates the Gnome King and his companion.

Christmas Movie Review: A Christmas Carol (1951)

This movie stars Alistair Sim as Scrooge.  It is really the penultimate Christmas Carol in terms of telling the complete story.  Other versions cut short Christmas Past, but this does not.  It gives much more breadth to the story as a result.  The other ghosts also show more scenes than other versions.  Hermione Baddeley of Disney fame stars Mrs. Cratchit.  This movie is available through Netflix DVD and YouTube.

Christmas Movie Review: A Christmas Carol (1969)

Scrooge is very scary and very grouchy in this animated version.  It makes me think it may have been inspiration for Jim Carrey and his Scrooge.  Scrooge is so evil at the beginning this makes his transformation even more remarkable.  This version wants to be a musical at times, and has the nephew singing, as well Scrooge.  However Scrooge does not visit the nephew in the end, but spends Christmas with the Crachetts.  I missed the nephew getting another chance at Scrooge.  There is a bit in this one about Scrooge not being able to sneeze and clear his sinuses.  It was unneeded bluff. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chritmas Movie Review: ***^ Christmas Angel 2009

This is a made for TV movie.   It was actually an enjoyable Christmas movie.  It featured a woman with her dog, who is struggling to make ends meet as she lost her job.  He neighbor gives her a job being his secret Santa.  At the same time she befriends a reporter who wants to reveal what is happening, despite secret Santa's desire to be anonymous.  This move features a story of people struggling to get through and being  brought together by a secret Santa.   Of course there are some bumps along the way, such as the attitude of the guy in the story, such as the attitude of the reporter, but it works out well in the end.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Movie Review: ****Sherlock Holmes (2009)

This Sherlock Holmes movie was made in 2009.  The most interesting thing about this movie are the characters, and the enmeshment between the character, Dr. Watson (Jude Law) who would like to see less of Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and get married to Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly).  However Holmes uses guilt, or dependency, or something to always keep him around.  This results in his almost being killed by a blast.  In this movie the nemesis is Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong).  Moriarty is still in the background, but a woman that intrigues Holmes, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) is working for him.  Blackwood sets himself up as coming back from the dead, after Watson proclaims him dead.  He continues to perpetrate murders to control others and gain power.  His boldest move is an attack on Parliament with gas warfare.  Will Holmes figure things out and get there in time.  This movie has good action but as I said, more interesting characters.

TV Special Review: *** "It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)

Same Peanuts characters with a few new ones, but not the same pizazz.  Story is only mildly amusing and is mostly a forum for Peanuts Comic Strip lines.  Snoopy is good as Santa Claus, and Charlie Brown trying to explain to Sally that Christmas is more than getting.  Woodstock and his friends are fun.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Christmas Movie Review: ****The Coat: A Story of Charity

This is a short put out by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and available on Mormon Chammel. It has no words and is animated.  It portrays an incident in the Life of Heber J. Grant.  If this does not get you in the true mood of Christmas and the Holidays, nothing will. 

Christmas Movie Review: **** "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

 This is a movie I grew up with.  It is an animated Christmas special featuring the Peanuts characters.  It came out in 1965, when I was eight.  Through my teen year the group of kids I hung with had a thing for Charlie Brown.  We would share his comics before school as the bus landed us a few minutes early.  This is one of those shorts I have enjoyed my entire life.  Before video, I would look forward to the showing of this every year, and always try not to miss it.  I love when they sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."  It makes me tingle.  I love Schroeder's music.  And I love Linus reciting the Christmas story.  This is a movie that makes Christmas season better.