Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Movie Review: *^The Marine (2006)

This is not my usual genre of movie.  The only reason I could see to watch this movie is if you liked to see big explosions.  Well that is maybe reason enough because you can't do this yourself.  John Cena WWE Wrestler stars as the ex Marine who is trying to rescue his wife from some really bad people.  There are some really big explosions, but none big enough to kill our Marine.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Movie Review: ****The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.  It is much better than the first.  The relationships are more dynamic, there is much more drama, and Smaug is a scene stealer.  The special effects people did a great job bringing him to life.  This movie, like the first Hobbit, has a confrontation between Bilbo and a foe towards the end.  The first movie was with Gollum, and I had difficulty understanding anything he said.  This movie the confrontation was with Smaug, and I could understand the dragon very well.  Watching Bilbo struggle to manipulate in the pile of treasure because it was so deep, was humorous in a way.  It was like an avalanche of money and jewels.  This movie brings the orcs into the story.  They have been breeding across the lake under to watchful eye of Sauran.  However the area has been hidden through magical powers.  Gandolf breaks the hiding spell, but in the process gets himself caught.  Bilbo, and the dwarves wake the dragon under the mountain.  They make a good battle against him, but the movie ends with the dragon getting away, and on his way to seek revenge of the human inhabitants on the lake, who he assumes helped the dwarves invade his lair.  This is very entertaining.
Some of the important cast:
Ian McKellen Gandalf, wizard
Martin Freeman Bilbo, Hobbit
Richard Armitige Thorin, King of the dwarves
Orlando Bloom, Legolas, elf
Evengeline Lilly, Tauriel, elf who befriends a dwarf

Musical Movie Review: **** Goodbye Mr. Chips

This is the 1969 movie musical which stars Peter O'Toole as Arthur Chipping (Mr. Chips) and Petula Clark as Katherine Bridges.  This a movie about two people from two different worlds, Chipping a school master and Bridges an actress, who fall in love with each other and make a life together.  This is a musical, but at times seems less so because many of the songs have been relegated to to being sung under the action, rather than in the fashion of a musical.  Petula Clark is a terrific singer.  Peter O' Toole sounds like Don Quijote through most of the movie.  However this movie proved to be very effective with me.  I was drawn into the story, and was weeping at the end of the story.  This is a passing of time story, showing Mr. Chips before meeting his wife, falling in love, bringing her to the school, being over looked for promotion, and then going through the war and the death of his wife due to The Battle of London.  We then see him briefly after.  The coming of age song, I find very touching:

In the morning of my life I shall look to the sunrise.
At a moment in my life when the world is new.
And the blessing I shall ask is that God will grant me,
To be brave and strong and true,
And to fill the world with love my whole life through.

And to fill the world with love
And to fill the world with love
And to fill the world with love my whole life through

In the noontime of my life I shall look to the sunshine,
At a moment in my life when the sky is blue.
And the blessing I shall ask shall remain unchanging.
To be brave and strong and true,
And to fill the world with love my whole life through


In the evening of my life I shall look to the sunset,
At a moment in my life when the night is due.
And the question I shall ask only I can answer.
Was I brave and strong and true?
Did I fill the world with love my whole life through?


I think this movie becomes more poignant as one gets older.  I really enjoyed it.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Movie Musical Review: **Scrooge 1970

  This is a musical version featuring Albert Finney and Alec Guinness.  When I realized it was a musical, I had my doubts, and those doubts were confirmed.  How could Scrooge be a singer?  Although I enjoyed hi "I hate people."  I did not like the songs at the end, "I love Christmas" which turned into a big production numbers, just to have one it seemed.  Scrooge played Santa to the Crachetts, which didn't work for me as it was too drastic a change.  The anonymous Scrooge is more to my liking.  Alec Guinness lived up to his being a master of disguise, but his character seemed like a robot rather than a ghost.

Movie Review: A Christmas Carol (2008)

*^A Christmas Carol 2008, animated.  This movie is shorter, and just misses the feeling of the story.  It had animated animals portraying the parts, and was two immature for my taste. 

A Christmas Carol: Summary (21 reviews)

My take on 21 versions of "A Christmas Carol"

***** A Christmas Carol: A New Musical (2011)
****^ A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004 Kelsey Grammer)
**** A Christmas Carol (Patrick Stewart, 1999)
**** A Christmas Carol: Scrooge (1951 Alastair Sim)
**** A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
****An American Christmas Carol (1979) Henry Winkler
***^ A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott, 1984) 
***^ A Christmas Carol (1938)
***^ A Christmas Carol (Central Washington U)
*** Christmas Carol (Jim Carrey, 2009, Disney)
*** A Christmas Carol (1971) animated short
**^ Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1062) animated
** A Christmas Carol: The Movie (2001) 
** Scrooge, (1970 Albert Finney, Alec Guiness)
** A Christmas Carol (1969) animated
** A Christmas Carol (animated 1994)
**Ms Scrooge (1997)
*^ A Christmas Carol, (animated, 2008)
* Scrooged (1988, Bill Murray)
Audio Book: A Christmas Carol

Christmas Movie Review: ***^A Christmas Carol (1938)

This version of "A Christmas Carol" stars Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge.  This telling has a bit of a different twist, presenting the nephew first, and his sliding on the ice.  In this story, the nephew is engaged rather than married, waiting for better financial prospects before he marries.  Interesting June Lockhart (Lost in Space) is one of the Cratchit children.  Her parents play her parents is this film, Gene and Kathleen Lockhart as Bob and Mrs. Cratchit.  Scrooge converts to liking Christmas earlier in this presentation, as he is reminded he once liked Christmas before turning to ingratitude and greed.  Part of his repentance he offers his nephew a partnership, and Bob a raise.  This paves the way for his nephew to marry, and his employee to provide for his family.  It again ends with the famous line for Tiny Tim, God bless us everyone.

Christmas Movie Review: **I'll be Home for Christmas"

This Christmas season fare stars Jonathan Taylor Thomas as a spoiled brat, Jake, and Jessica Biel as his girlfriend, Allie.  He is so caught up in his own world, he doesn't want to go home from school for Christmas, but is tempted when his father offers him a car, and old antique.  He plans to travel home with his girlfriend, but a rival kidnaps him and leaves him in the desert with a Santa suit glued on.
This is not a very good movie.  It may be cute at times with the things that happen to someone traveling cross country in a Santa suit with no resources.  The idea of the movie is that Jake grows and matures, and starts to really appreciate his family.  (He turns down the car int he end.)  But he is still misusing others, stealing a sleigh even at the end.  Everyone is just suppose to accept his greater need.

Christmas Movie Review: *****It's a Wonderful Life:

This is a movie for annual consumption.  I watch it every year.  This year as i watched I realized something I had never noticed before.  This movie is about the power of prayer.  It starts with the petitions of people of Bedford Falls to Heavenly Father on behalf of George Bailey (James Stewart), the manager of the Savings and Loan.  He is in trouble as they have misplaced $8000 and the bank examiner is visiting.  The miserly and mean Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) has sworn out a warrant for his arrest, while he knows where the money is as it fell into his hands by accident, and instead of doing the right thing is trying to destroy the Savings and Loan so he can control the entire town.  My favorite part is when George's brother calls him the richest man in town.  It is very emotional. is the richest man in the world.  That line chokes me up for some reason. . 
On another level this movie is about those whose live circumstance may bring them to the brink of suicide, and about those who love them intervening, rather than letting it happen.  His wife (Donna Reed) intervenes rather than being passive, and many of George's friends also intervene.  And of course Clarence, (Henry Travers) the angel intervenes.  This is a Frank Capra, and on of the best Christmas movies ever made.  Nominated for five Oscar awards, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Movie.  Stewart should have won.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Movie Review: ***Santa Baby

This is a cute little movie which shows the daughter of Santa Clause, who is a business consultant in the real world, and has come home to take over the family business as Santa has had a heart attack.  Being at home, she has some ideas to implement, less cookie breaks and more automation.  However her boyfriend follows her and he wants to purchase the North Pole and put in a mall.  She feels she has ruined Christmas, but things work out in the end, and she gets a new boyfriend.  Jenny McCarthy is Santa's daughter and George Wendt plays Santa.

Christmas Movie Review: **** I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown:

**** I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown: This is very fun as Rerun is determined to get a dog for Christmas.  Charlie Brown will not sell Snoopy, but he does let Rerun play with Snoopy.  However Rerun writes to Snoopy's brother Spike, and asks him to be his dog.  Spike lives in the desert.  Spike visits, and Lu cy fattens him up.  But their mother will not let him stay.  Rerun enjoys their time together, and agrees to continue writing, but Spike goes back to the desert.  I enjoyed this movie as the characters were fresh.  We met Snoopy's family.  We also explore the importance of belonging and being wanted.  Also we see Charlie Brown's love for Snoopy.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Movie Review: Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus (2004)

I almost thought it was a waste to review this movie, as the plot is so very close to the movie "My Santa."  However, this movie was the first, and "My Santa" the copy.  Most movies create the scenario where Santa'a son (Steve Guttenberg) has to be married in order to take over as Santa.  They both find women who are sceptical of Christmas, the women have sons, the Santa's have a side kick.  In this movie he is named Nick, while in the other Chris.  The women in both movies has a suitor, more wealthy it appears.  In this version the woman comes out and states the theme to her friend, money or love.  The friend suggests money, ,bit she chooses love.  May we all choose love.

Christmas Theatrical Review: The Savior of the World

We went to see this Thursday, and I wrote of our experience, but wanted to add a review.  You knew this was going to be something special walking into the room and seeing the set. 

It never ceases to amaze me the way a good stage painter can make plywood look like marble.  You can see the balcony on either side in the pictures.  There was also a balcony in the back.  It was very interesting the way the balcony was used for the chorus, aka angels.  It was very effective.  The play did an adequate job of telling the story of Jesus from the New Testament perspective, but also giving the Book of Mormon point of view.  They presented up through the birth of Jesus.
As mentioned in my thoughts on the evening, sometimes the music drowned out the vocals.  But the spirit of the songs was tremendous, especially when they sand familiar sacrament hymns, "Jesus, Once of Humble Birth."  It was a tremendous production.  I recommend watching this if you ever get the chance.  This same production was presented at the conference center for several years.

Christmas Musical Review: Andrea Bocelli: My Christmas

Last I recorded Andrea Bocelli and David Foster, ****"My Christmas."  It is very fun to listen to Andrea Bocelli.  They had a full orchestra behind them and sometimes a small choir.  Bocelli sings with such a clear and pure voice, it is very enjoyable. He is joined by Natalie Cole for "The Christmas Song" and it is beautiful.  The Mormon Tabernacle Choir backs him for the Lord's prayer and this is perfection.  Mary J. Blige joins him for "What Child is This?" again a beautiful arrangement.  Bocelli climbing the scale at the end is lovely.  "Caro Gesu Bambino" is also beautiful with its clear dulcet tones.  Their are other featured guests including Reba McEntire and Katherine Jenkins.  I love listening to this music, and it makes me closer to the Christmas spirit.

Christmas Music Concert: Christmas at Concordia

A Lutheran University, **"Christmas at Concordia" showed a different religious orientation.  This choir bogged down in slow moving hymns and was not as enjoyable.  For the most part was too slow for my taste.

Christmas Dance Concert Review: Behold the Gift

This is a delightful music and dance presentation presented every year at the Oakland Temple Hill.  It is free of charge, but donations are requested.
I enjoy the lines, and the expression of emotion through dance. I told Tony to watch for the dancer looking like the picture, and we actually saw several.
 The presentation starts with Old Testament predictions of a Messiah, and then we see Joseph and Mary, and the anguish they both have of her being betrothed, yet with child through the Holy Ghost.  The nativity is well done, with she shepherds coming to see the Lord.  The atonement was also well done, showing the angel who supported Jesus in Gethsemane, and the woman at the tomb.
The mood of the second portion is much different, with the lighting and the dancing being of a different nature.  Samuel must have been skilled at gymnastics with the handstands and the tumbling incorporated into his dance.   The believers and those who threatened to put them to death if the sign were not fulfilled is very well done.  The darkness, and then the people restoring their town, followed by them reacting to the Savior coming were also well done. 
I also enjoyed the finale, with dancers from both continents dancing for joy at the atonement of the Savior.
This show is less than 50 minutes, with no intermission.  It is beautiful to behold.  I love the lines that were presented.  I find it beautiful.
There is one more presentation this year, Sunday at7.

Christmas Animated Movie: ***Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales

  This is a bunch of shorts, with no real plot. Sometimes a couple shorts go together, but never more than three.  This means lots of different little humorous shorts, much like a cartoon.  It introduced me to Rerun, the younger brother of Linus and Lucy.  He confronts Santa Claus about not getting what he wanted.  Santa Claus (Snoopy) just croaks.  Lucy does not appreciate Snoopy skating with her, and when he licks her it is even worse.  There a a few Schroeder and Lucy scenes.  Schroeder does not give in to her advances.  There are plenty of notes to Santa with different approaches, from Linus's, "skip our house," to Lucy's, "I've been perfect."  Snoopy enjoys the cookies left for Santa Claus.  This is a fun movie.

Christmas Movie Review: ***A Gift of Love

one of the songs
This is a 1978 made for TV movie.  This movie stars Marie Osmond.   It is a cute story based on  “The Gift of the Magi.” It does not follow faithfully the O’Henry story.  It actually starts sometime before the present exchange which makes the story famous, but is the love story of the young woman (Osmond) who has two suitors, the rich man she does not love, and the common laborer she does.  The story is familiar to everyone, of the gift exchange, he selling his watch to buy her combs for her hair, and she cutting her hair to buy him a chain for his watch, it is still moving.  To love such that you would give up your most prized possession is love indeed. 
Marie Osmond sings a couple songs.  However the songs do not sound period and don’t really add to the story.  The ice skating of the couple is cute.  Also the bird hunting of her first fiancé is also very funny.  It was actually the first fiancé, who realized they would not be happy, and suggested breaking off the wedding.  He, in the end, had more courage than he was given credit for.
And so she displeases her uncle, and goes after the man she loves.  It is Christmas Eve they are married, and Christmas day the gifts are presented.  I enjoyed this show, and feel others might as well.

Christmas Music Review: Bell Family Christmas Concert

**Bell Family Christmas concert.  There is something I don't like about the Bell Family.  Perhaps it is that they come across as too perfect, I don't know.  It just seems fake to me.  Sure they sing all the notes and do well with the music, but I don't like their stage appearance.

Music Concert: Bells on Temple Square

**Bells at Temple Square I did not enjoy very much as I missed vocal music.  The bells, after a few number just stimulated my tinnitus, so I gave it up. I appreciate the difficulty to make music when you have to coordinate with so many other people, and as you have just a few notes your are dependent on every one else doing well.  It is sort of like the dogs singing by barking a different tone.  It is difficult, but not very entertaining in the end, at least to me.

Christmas Concert: Christmas at Belmont

This is a Christian university music program, ***^"Christmas at Belmont."  This is a Nashville based university with several University choirs singing and then singing together.  The presentation included several Nigerian and African carols which were really  very moving.  The interspersed orchestral and band music throughout and it was very well done.

Christmas Concert: Tree Lighting at the Whitehouse

The worse Christmas concert I have ever seen: Tree Lighting at the White House.  They had an African Choir, The Sons of Judah, which was so out of tune, and so out of balance with the men trying to compete with the women, that it was painful.  Not even a military jazz band, Santa Claus and Kermit the frog could save this mess.  It ended up being a commercial for talking about bringing the troops home.

Uintah Basin Orchestra and Choir: Christmas Concert

You may ask how I am reviewing a performance hundreds of miles away and a few weeks ago.  It is available on You Tube.
The sing several stirring John Rutter numbers, "The Candle Light Carol"which is very sweet, Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" was very well done.  There was a Bell Choir, but is was rather thin with none of the big bells which are so nice in a bell choir.  There was also a long orchestral medley of Christmas song, both secular and religious.  I must admit, this is the part that likely would have put me to sleep.  It was a bit long, and my favorite is the vocals, and you put up with the orchestra to keep them happy.  I liked the vocal addition to "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring."  A French tune "Carol to the King" was very well done, and the dancing was beautiful.  In another song the dancing was not as impressive, but this is beautiful.  "The First Noel" was to the arrangement the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has sung, and is beautiful in some of the changes to the hymnbook version.  It ends with a stirring vocal and orchestral Christmas medley written by someone from the Air Force Band.
This is a new Uintah Basin feature, and hopefully it has a long future.  The community should be proud.  It seemed the audience was a bit lukewarm, but they did end the night with a standing ovation.  I was looking for maybe someone I would recognize.  Dennis Hatch was in the program, and a Barlow and a Wardle, but 21 years is too long to recognize anyone. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Music Review: Christmas Concerts ***^ Tabernacle Choir with David Archuleta and Michael York (2010)

***^Tabernacle Choir concert with David Archuleta and Michael York.  This is a very nice concert with jumping dancers.  Miranda has watched it several times as she is an Archuleta fan.  I really like "Joy to the World" and the descant he sings.  Michael York tells the story of the choir, as well as the Christmas story.  Very inspirational.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Movie Review: ****^Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration

Sharp, beautiful vocals, two back up choirs, terrific arrangements, traditional Christmas songs and some new, orchestral backup, dancing violinist.  This concert has it all.  It is available through You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jga12Im8cvk&list=HL1355954816&feature=mh_lolz
I like everything about Celtic Women except the silly way they hold their arms.  
I particularly like the arrangement of "Away in a Manger." Orla Fallon does vocals on this song.  I think this is my favorite Christmas Hymn.  I also heard an old carol I had never heard before, with a powerful message.

The Wexford Carol
Good people all, this Christmas-time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved Son.
With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas day;
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born.

I want to double this testimony.  There was a Messiah born that day, and He is my Lord.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: Sweet Thursday (Sequel to Cannary Row)

“Sweet Thursday” is a delightful read.  It was published in 1954 and written by John Steinbeck.  It is the sequel to “Cannery Row.”  It is set after WWII where “Cannery Row” is before the war.  Many things have changing.  The Bear Flag is now run by Dora’s sister Fauna, after Dora passed away, the local market is run by El Patron, Jesus and Mary, after it was sold to him by the Chinaman.  The boys of the flop house are still there, minus one who didn’t come back from the war.  Doc returns to the Western Biological Laboratory, after it was abandoned during the war.  He begins to rebuild his business.
We add to this mix of characters, Suzy, who arrives new to town, is destitute, and takes up residence and profession at the Bear Flag.  She becomes a project of Miss Fauna, who prides herself in marrying off some of her prostitutes to good men.  They are her gold-star girls.  She earmarks Suzy for Doc. 
Doc has his own struggles.  He wants to do something important with his life.  He takes to writing a paper about octopi.  He can’t get anything on paper however.  He struggles, but the words don’t come.  He studied 20 of them, until they all died.  Now to continue his project, he has to get more octopi when the tide is right, from La Jolla.  Steinbeck interprets Doc’s problems with three voices.  The lower voice, “I am lonely” seems to be the strongest.  Above these voices are those that I have to achieve, and you’ll only fail anyway. 
Fauna manipulates Doc into taking Suzy on a date, and they have a good time.  However Suzy reports they don’t even kiss.  Then the big day arrives.  A party is planned, to present Suzy to Doc as a desirable mate.  Suzy dresses like Snow White.  However, Suzy can see in Doc’s eyes that he is being forced rather than actually going for it of his own free will, or out of love.  She takes off, falling in the mud, and confessing her love.  She is not willing to give into it due to her own pride.  She does move out of the Bear Flag, takes up residence in a boiler, and works for a diner, supporting herself with tips. 
At the same time Doc’s lower voice finally wins out.  He realizes he cannot live without Suzy.  He just can’t be complete without her.  However she won’t have him.  The solution comes to Hazel, who is slow intellectually, but knows he has to do something.  It is rather drastic.  He breaks Doc’s arm with a bat.  He now cannot go collect his octopi without help.  Suzy comes to the rescue, as she is now finds a place.  She has to learn to drive to do it, and drives off with Doc in the car, headed to La Jolla, having knocked the porch off the lab.
I wonder about pride.  In this case it almost kept two people apart.  There was pride on both sides.  Hopefully it doesn’t take broken bones to overcome pride.  I think of a Neal Diamond song, “It’s my belief pride is the chief cause in the decline of the number of husbands and wives.  Oh the great evil pride.  May I keep her in check.

Christmas Musical Movie Review: ***Come Dance With Me (2012)

This is an enjoyable movie with a plot very similar to "You've Got Mail."  We have and executive in money management who has been working on a project for some time, and it finally goes through with a big bonus, while at the same time he starts taking dance lessons to impress the boss' daughter he has been dating, with the hopes of proposing to her at a Christmas Ball.  He starts to fall for his dance instructor, who offers true love, against financial wealth.  Turns out the project he has gotten to go through is going to result in the demolition of the dance instructor's studio.  She comes to him for advise, and rather than confess to his role in the project he decides to help her, and in fact disguises his voice when she calls to confront those involved in the project.  In the midst of all this, his mother shows up where he lives in New York.  Her husband, his father, passed away this year and she decides not to spend Christmas alone.  She helps him see things in a different light.
This movie is very enjoyable.  The dance is lovely and the lines made by the couple as beautiful.  He doesn't get the opportunity to dance with the boss' daughter, but does get wine in his face, twice.
This movie stars Andrew McCarthy as Jack, the business executive, and Michelle Nolden as the dance instructor.  Stephanie Mills is the boss' daughter. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Music Review: ***^Deck the Halls (2006)

When a new family moving into the neighborhood, the men feud over the Christmas decorations. This feud comes out in their Christmas lights.  They each want to do something meaningful, and one neighbor has a goal to make his house so  bright it can be seen from space.  Of course the neighbors have some issues, and he is noisy at night.  It seems everything he does disrupts the Christmas of his neighbor, and both men begin focusing on theirselves and they forget their families in the process.  When the women call them out, and both leave, the men have a chance to rethink things.
This movie has a very good cast, and it is the cast that make it work.  Danny Devito is the new neighbor and his wife is played by Kristen Chenoweth, Mathew Broderick the old neighbor and his wife Kristin Davis.  Jorge Garcia plays a townsman.  I found myself laughing at a scene where the neighbors are competing at the toss game, and a neighbor winds up and hits a lady walking by.  There are many other humorous scenes. 

Movie Review: ***^ Sunset Boulevard (1950)

This is not the musical version of Andrew Lloyd Webber, but is the source material for the musical.  This is the original black and white 1950 film, which tells the story of a deluded silent-film star, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) and the man who comes to live with her, Joe Gillis (William Holden).  This movie is unusual, because it tells the story of the murder of the leading character, with the leading character providing the narration.  It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, and won three.  However more recently it has also been nominated for a "rotten tomato."
This movie is fascinating because it shows the inner cultural of Hollywood from a couple different angles.  The first angle is that of down-on-his luck writer.  He is avoiding the men from the bank who have come to repossess his car as he is three months behind on his payments.  The second angle is that of a famous actress, who is no longer desired, but she is still full of her own importance, and going to make a comeback.   At one point she travels to Universal Studio to talk with Ceil B. Demille. He plays himself.  We see her respected for her past, but her present and future do not look good.  She commits murder when confronted with this reality.  However in her deluded state she maintains her balance, and thinks the reporters have come for her comeback, not her murder.  "All right Mr. Demille, I'm ready for my close-up" is her concluding line.

Movie Review: ***^Silverado

Silverado is a good western, made after westerns were popular.  Because of that it had to be twice as good, and it lived up to its billing.  It stars a quartet of heroes taking on a land baron and his sheriff and deputies.   The quartet are made up of two brothers Emmett (Scott Glen) and Jake (Kevin Costner), a drifter with a past, Paden (Kevin Klein) and an African America traveling to join his family, Mal (Danny Glover).  This movie has its share of violence and killing, but also has a few tender moments.  The brothers are visiting their sister to say goodbye before they try their luck in California.  While there old feuds, as well as their getting in the middle of a land war.  Mal's father is killed by the same land war, while Paden is hired by the side perpetuating the problem.  Sherriff Cobb (Brian Dennehy) perpetuates the negative situation.  Everyone is effected.  Emmett and Jake see their family effected, brother-in-law shot and nephew kidnapped.  As mentioned Mal's father is killed in efforts to run him off his land.  His sister becomes an ally.  Paden sees what is going on, but worries about his friend, Stella (Linda Hunt) who will get hurt if he takes action.  A gambler "Slick" (Jeff Goldblum) befriend's Mel's sister, but is no an ally.
This movie has good action, and it entertains, which is its motive.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Movie Review: ****Savannah Smiles (1982)

This is a movie about a seven year old girl who runs away from home by climbing into someone's car, and two convicts on the run whose car it is.  They don't realize it, but they are accused of kidnapping because they want to make sure they get the reward offered for her.  It has the flavor of O'Henry's "The Ransom for Red Chief" but with a few twists.  Our convicts, Alvie and Boots (Mark Miller and Donavan Scott) are bunglers.  Boots breaks Alvie out of prison just before he makes parole, he gets him a rabbit but Alvie is upset when he discovers it's road kill.  Alvie responds, 'It's fresh meat."  With the girl the next day, they take on the parenting role, something she didn't get from her parents who are too busy with meetings and business.  Her father is running for Senate.  This cute conversation takes place:
What do you want for breakfast?
Savannah: Chocolate milk, cocoa puff, buttermilk, chocolate strawberries, peaches, Wheaties, chocolate bananas, pancakes, sausage, toast, oatmeal - apple, and bacon.
This movie is filmed in Utah and there are many familiar scenes including Liberty Park and Bridal Veil Falls.  Cameo roles are portrayed by Pat Morita, a priest and Peter Graves, a private investigator. 

Christmas Movie Review: Matchmaker Santa

This is a cute little Hallmark Movie of Santa making up and bringing to pass some Christmas wishes from the past, like I want to meet my one and be madly in love.  This is a story of two couples who are mismatched, who in fact with Santa's help find the right match, at a small little town where they still believe in Christmas. Santa manipulates things by making the car not start, moving from place to place, getting a bear to hang around, etc., etc.  Lots of stars:
Melanie and Dean are being matched (Lacey Chabert and Adam Mayfield).  Unpartnering Melanie is Dean's boss Justin (Thad Luckinbill) but he meets an old flame, Blair (Elizabeth Ann Bennett).  Donovan Scott is Santa, John Ratzenberger the mayor, mechanic and Florence Henderson is an older woman in town.

Movie Musical Review: ****Bye Bye Birdie 1963

Bye Bye Birdie;  This is the original made for t.v. version which stars Dick Van Dyke as Albert, the song writer who has recruited Birdie to sing his song before he goes to the Army, as he has been drafted.  He wants to use this as leverage with his mother, to prove he is a success and can marry his secretary, Rosie, (Janet Leigh).  This version includes the actual Ed Sullivan playing himself, and Birdie is suppose to kiss a girl on national television.  However, the Russian ballet is puts a damper on their dream, as this is to play instead of Birdie.  Somehow they get a speed potions (seems like not a good example of doing drugs) into the conductors drink, and he conducts the ballet at an accelerated speed, making it a comedy routine rather than a ballet.  It finishes early and Birdie will perform “One last Kiss, Oh baby one last kiss.”  This is a classic.  Things are looking good, until it all goes bad.  Jesse Pearson plays Birdie, Paul Lynde the father of the daughter to be kissed, and Ann-Margeret the girl to be kissed.

Musical Review: Christmas in Vienna (1993)

This concert presents two of the three tenors, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, with Diana Ross.  There are many beautiful songs here.  Domingo sings "Ave Maria," Ross sings "Amazing Grace."  Diana Ross also sings one of her singles, "If We Hold On Together."  It is quite enjoyable:

Don't lose your way
With each passing day
You've come so far
Don't throw it away
Live believing
Dreams are for weaving
Wonders are waiting to start
Live your story
Faith, hope and glory
Hold to the truth in your heart
If we hold on together
I know our dreams will never die
Dreams see us through to forever
Where clouds roll by
For you and I

This is from "Land Before Time."
The highlight of this concert is a medley of songs sung by the trio, with solos throughout.  There is also a boys choir which sings with the  trio which really adds to the performance.  Stille Nacht then tops of this lovely musical presentation.

Christmas Movie Review: **^Ernest Saves Christmas

This is a cute little show to highlight the talents of Jim Varney.  It does this by letting him be his goofy self, but also letting him dress in disguise on a couple of occasions to expand his talents.  The plot was rather thin.  Santa has to find a new Santa because over time his magic is wearing down.  Put in the reindeer arriving at the airport, the new Santa being reluctant not really believing, young woman who takes off with Santa's bag, and Ernest bringing the sleigh, and you have the makings of a train wreck, and the destruction of Christmas.  This movie was mostly cute, by I didn't get the destruction of Vern's house.  It had no place in the plot at all.  But Varney was very talented.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Theatrical Review: Macy's Yes Virgina, There is a Santa Clause

This is a children's musical version of the Virginia story.  Charlotte is just as mean as the other versions, and her cat is awful at the first.  The scraggly Santa dances with the birds, which is very well done.  The little friend of Virginia, Ollie, has something to say, which I missed in the other versions.
This is a story of the letter sent by Virginia O'Hanlan to the New York Sun, and the answer she received.  The cast sings the answer at the end, just before we see Charlotte change her mind, as she wants to believe in Santa too.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas/ Musical Movie Review: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

This show is an interesting portrayal of life in St. Louis leading up to the 1904 World’s Fair.  It portrays an upper middle class family with five children, one son and four daughters.  The oldest two daughters are into the romantic scene, and have plans and boyfriends.  They are all looking to the fair.  The song "Meet me in St Louis" expresses this excitement.  The "Trolley Car Song," interesting for its rhythms is another fun song.  
Father puts a wrench into the happy home life when he announces that he has accepted a position in New York and he plans on moving the family there.  The family is in turmoil, and not happy at the prospect. 
Things look better for the older girls after the Christmas party.  Their relationships will likely keep them in St. Louis.  However the youngest daughter is upset.  The second oldest daughter, Esther (Judy Garland) sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to cheer her up.  It doesn’t work.  She destroys her snowmen, as she can’t take them anyway.  Father starts to think about things, and Christmas Day announces to the family a change of heart, he plans to stay in St. Louis.  The next scene is a few months later when everyone is going to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on
our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yule-tide gay
From now on
our troubles will be miles away

Here were are as in olden days
happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Music Review: *****Simon and Garfunkle Greatest Hits

This album is terrific.  It was released in 1972, with some terrific songs.  Bridge over Troubled Water and Sounds of Silence have long been a couple of my favorite songs.  I sang Bridge to Sheri at our wedding reception: 
When you're weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all

I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I'll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on Silver Girl,
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way

See how they shine
If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Art Garfunkle does such a good job with this song written by Paul Simon.  It is a classic.  In fact it was the song of the decade 1970s even though it came out in 1970.
Other noteworthy songs include: Scarborough Fair, Homeward Bound and Cicilia.  A lot of fun here.

Christmas Movie Review: ***Fallen Angel (2003)

It is hard to tell who is being referred to here as the “Fallen Angel” because several people have fallen, all because of one tragic accident.   This movie is about two families who are entwined.  It is set in upstate Maine, close to the coast.  Charles Wentworth has a traffic accident in which two people die.  As a result he runs away.  His wife takes their daughter and moves away.  A boy, Terry McQuinn, who was in the accident, becomes estranged from his father and moves away as soon as he can.  He comes back when father is ill, and arrives back just shortly after his father has passed away.  He has some business to finish up, but decides to stay.  He discovers that the daughter, Katherine Wentworth, of Charles Wentworth is coming back to the town, and they are opening up the old home for her.  The daughter has since adopted a girl, who is blind, but sees things others don’t.  He also discovers that her father is also back in the area, living as a homeless man.  McQuinn wants to facilitate their reunification, but he does not tell the daughter.  In the meantime he falls in love with her.  He finally tells her and reveals that he has known but kept the news from her as he didn’t know what to say.   Having kept the secret has bad results, and they seem to be going back to their prior lives.
This movie I found to be a bit like “Christmas Box” with a history, but holes that are never totally filled in. 
Gary Sinise stars as the adult Terry McQuinn andJoely Richardson portrays Katherine Wentworth.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Movie Review: ****^The Amazing Spider Man

I have now seen this movie twice, 3-D and regular.  I can't say that 3-D added a lot, except at the end when he is flying around.  I saw another review that said it was good; but not amazing.  I would say it was amazing, but not perfect.  There are plenty of special effects, there is a love story, which doesn't mimic the other Spider Man movies, there is a nerd who becomes Spider Man, there is a different villain.  All of these make for a great movie.  Tony came out of the movie climbing the walls in the restroom.  Now that is great.

Peter (Andrew Garfield) likes Gwen (Emma Stone), who is a fellow scientist at school.  She claims to top of her class.  Peter's father is a former scientist at OsCorp, but hid a secret formula and fled, but he and Peter's mother died in a plane crash.  Peter crashesbreaks into OsCorp, which leads to the famous biting.  Peter designs his own webslingers based on technology of OsCorp.

Peter goes to dinner with Gwen, whose father is a Captain (Denis Leary) on the police force.  The police do not appreciate Spider Man, and have been trying to arrest him.  However he does let Gwen know of his secret

Oh, in the mean time, Peter has inadvertantly given to Dr Conners (Rhys Ifans), his father's ex partner, the formula his father hid.  Dr. Connors uses the formula, and turns himself into a super lizard.  Peter/ Spider Man feels responsible and sets out to stop him.  He tries to warn the police, but they think he is crazy.

I liked the movie--except the crane scene.  I thought that was corny.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Motivational Movie: ***^Invictus

This movie released 2009 and is now on DVD.  I am watching it courtesy of Netflix.  It stars Matt Damon and Morgan Freemon and is directed by Clint Eastwood.  This movie tells of the relationship between Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienarr, Captain of the South African rugby team.  It talks about overcoming odds, and doing better than you can do.  It is a study of what inspires us and motivates us.

I think the best part of the movie was the Invictus poem, written  by William Ernest Henley who had tuberculosis in his leg, and his leg amputated:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

The conclusion of the movie, with Nelson giving the Cup to Francois, is a true story, and is considered one of the most inspiring sports scenes to be portrayed on British  television.  That this country was able to pull itself out of apartheid, and then jointly support their team to the World Cup is incredible.  I hope to remember the line, "I am the master of my fate:  I am the captain of my soul."

Audio Book A Christmas Carol from lds.org

There is a free audio book presentation of "A Christmas Carol" available from lds.org.  It is very enjoyable and produced by the church.  Sometimes the background noises interfere with hearing the book, but other than that it is very good.  The noise and music is to give some flavor to the reading.   I don't know for how long it be available but it is there now.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Movie Review: **Northanger Abbey 1987

I found this movie in our home VCR collection.  It is a BBC collection.  This movie is so full of showing the dreams and fantasies of Miss Catherine Morland that it forgets to do a good job of telling the story. The story is very convoluted, but you do get that someone wants to court her, but is not very gentlemanly.  However the son of General Tilney is a gentleman.  General Tilney invites her to his home, thinking she is a woman of wealth, which she is not.  When the general discovers her true wealth, he kicks her out of the house, but too late, for his son is in love.  I wish this movie had focused less on the fantasy stuff.  It seemed every other frame there was a dream or a fantasy or something.

Christmas Movie Review: ****The Christmas Box.

"The Christmas Box" is a 1995 made for TV movie.  This movie is based on the Richard Paul Evans book of the same name.  It Stars Richard Thomas as Richard, father of a young family, Annette O' Toole as his wife, and Maureen O'Hara as Mrs. Parkin, the widow who needs someone to live with her in her old age.  Mrs. Parkin asks Richard, "What was the first gift of Christmas?"  Much of the Movie revolves around this theme, the first give of Christmas.  There are also dreams of angels, and a Christmas Box containing old letters.  These lead to the discovery that the widow had a daughter, who died at five years old, and angel child.  It also leads to the realization that the gift of Christmas was a baby.  The mystery seems to be overplayed, and not that much of a thing, but the theme of putting priorities on what is important is something which comes home to me.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Movie Review: ***My Santa (2013)

"My Santa" is an interesting Christmas movie.  It pairs Chris Kringle (Mathew Lawrence) as the son of Santa Clause, who for some reason has to find the right Mrs. Clause, Jen (Samaire Armstrong), before midnight Christmas Eve.  They meet as he is a mall Santa, who promises too much to her son, and she wants to give him a piece of her mind.  However she just can't in the end.  He can tell he has picked the right person because his Santa magic starts to become active.  However the person he picks does not believe in Christmas and Santa Clause.  He slowly grooms her, but when the time come and he proposes to her, and tells her who he really is, she thinks he is just crazy.  Things are going so wrong.  However her son reminds her of the magic of Christmas, and when the right gift shows up under her tree, she knows it is him.  But is it too late?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Movie Review: ****^A Christmas Carol: The Musical

A Christmas Carol Musical  This is a movie version of the Broadway Musical.  This is a delightful find.  It stars Kelsey Grammer as Scrooge and Jason Alexander as Jacob Marley.   Yes Kelsey Grammer has a singing role, and he does a very good job with his gruffy voice.  Most of the singing is carried by the background characters, and very well done.  It is not overly dramatic with its large production numbers.  Most of the action takes place outside at the beginning, rather than in the office.  The ghosts are people he meets upon the streets that day, and entertainer, a beggar, a blind lady.  The transformation takes place with each of the visits.   
There is a song in this production which is very beautiful and stays with me, “God Bless us Everyone”
Let the stars in the sky
Remind us of man’s compassion.
Let us love till we die
And God bless us, everyone.

In your heart
There’s a light as
Bright as a star in Heaven.
Let it shine through the night and
God bless us, everyone.

‘Til each child is fed,
‘Til all men are free,
‘Til the world
Becomes a

Star by star in the sky
And kindness by human kindness,
Let me love ‘til I die
And God bless us everyone.

50 Facts about 15 Christmas Movies

This is an article from Deseret News I found very interesting.
The 15 movies are: A Christmas Story
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey)
Holiday Inn
Home Alone
It's a Wonderful Life
Jingle All the Way
Meet Me in St. Louis
The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Miracle on 34th Street
Mr. Krueger's Christmas
The Polar Express
The Santa Clause
White Christmas

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Music Review: A Bing Crosby Christmas

This is a composite of the Bing Crosby Christmas specials which took place form 1962 through 1977.  Of course the highlight of this series is listening to Bing Crosby sing.  The low light is that with many of the songs they combine different versions from different shows which doesn't work very well.  They also cut frequently from song to song.  Another low light has to be the singing of the Crosby children.  They do not have Bing Crosby's gift.  There are some songs which really inspire.  He sings "Drummer Boy" with David Bowie.  He and Jackie Gleason sing "Two Loafers" which isn't very impressive, but it is fun to see Jackie Gleason again.  Bing Crosby does a terrific job of "Silent Night," as well as "White Christmas."  Crosby has such a beautiful voice, his songs are a treasure.  I miss the age of the TV Special.

Christmas Movie Review: **^ Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer

This is a TV movie produced in 2000 and shown on Cartoon Network every year, which is where Tony and I watched it.  It presents Grandma's bakery and fruit cake store, which has a prime location for being sold and making millions.  Of course the cousin a young man wants the money, and schemes to get it.  Grandma, after being run over by Santa's sleigh is taken to the hospital and the North Pole.  She has amnesia and the cousin prepares to sell the shop, tricking grandfather to give her power of attorney.  Someone needs to rescue Grandma, and restore the meaning of Christmas.  The music makes this show, and includes the original song.  Tony enjoyed it, but it seemed to go a bit long, and the trial of Santa was boring.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Book Review: The House at Pooh Corner

This is the second Pooh book written me A.A. Milne.  It was published in 1928.  It was illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard.  This book presents the continuing adventures of Pooh and Christopher Robin.  It deals with many problems, one of which is Christopher Robin going away to school, and not being with his friends as often.  It also deals with Christopher also going away (perhaps to boarding school) and how the group of friends deals with this great loss. 

Pooh, or Milne, is a poet.  One of the stories is of Owl's tree fallng over, his house is destroyed.  Piglet saves the day, as he is small enough to get out the mail chute, as the door is not workable.  He brings help, and Owl and Pooh are saved.  Pooh promised to write him a poem, and when he does, this is how it comes out.

Sing Ho! For Piglet Here lies a tree which Owl (a bird)
Was fond of when it stood on end,
And Owl was talking to a friend
Called Me (in case you hadn't heard)
When something Oo occurred.
For lo! the wind was blusterous
And flattened out his favourite tree,
And things looks bad for him and we---
Looked bad, I mean, for he and us---
I've never known them wuss.
Then Piglet (PIGLET) thought a thing:
"Courage!" he said. "There's always hope.
I want a thinnish piece of rope.
Or, if there isn't any bring
A thickish piece of string.
So to the letter-box he rose,
While Pooh and Owl said "Oh!"
and "Hum!"
And where the letters always come
(Called "LETTERS ONLY") Piglet sqoze
His head and then his toes.
0 gallant Piglet (PIGLET)! Ho!
Did Piglet tremble? Did he blinch?
No, No, he struggled inch by inch
Through LETTERS ONLY, as I know
Because I saw him go.
He ran and ran, and then he stood
And shouted, "Help for Owl, a bird
And Pooh, a bear!" until he heard
The others coming through the wood
As quickly as they could.
"Help -help and Rescue!" Piglet cried
And showed the others where to go.
Sing ho!for Piglet (PIGLET) ho!
And soon the door was opened wide
And we were both outside!

Sing ho! for Piglet, ho!

This book tells many familiar stories from watching Pooh shows on Disney.  Many have been told, including Rabbit trying to get Tigger's bounces.  They take Tigger on a long hike, with the hopes of getting him lost in the forest.  However this trick backfires.  Tigger knows where he is and everyone else is lost.  In the end Tigger rescues rabbit.  
We are introduced to the game, Poohsticks.  I must admit  I have played this game with my boys many times.  It is throwing a stick into a river or creek from a bridge, an watching as it goes under the bridge.  I an the kids use to play with this over the Saratoga Creek using leaves.  
We are introduced to the character of Piglet. We not only see his bravery, but also his charity.  When Eeyore finds a new house for Owl, it is Piglet's old house.  Piglet is invited to stay with Pooh, and he accepts.

Movie Review: ****Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus (1991)

This is a 1991 made for TV movie with Ed Asner as the newspaper editor, Charles Bronson as the ace reporter, Francis Church and Richard Thomas as Virginia's father.  This movie, at the first has many many antagonists.  Co worker at the dock who have racial attitude against Irish, competitor newspaper reporter who have it in for Mr Church.  Church is struggling with alcohol addiction after losing his wife and child to illness.
Basically there are many plot twists.  Virginia's family is poor, and her father loses his job.  She struggles with the Santa Claus question, but this is not a prominent part of the plot, but brings all the characters together at the end.
The question, "Is there a Santa Claus?" in the a very real sense saves characters in the movie, as they find an answer to this question.  And as they find the answer, they also find the Christmas Spirit.  With all the plot changes I was wary of this movie, but the ending really brings you in, and for this alone this movie is worth seeing.

Monday, December 2, 2013

TV Review: CBS Macy's Thanksgiving Parade 2014

I don't very often review TV, but this is an exception.  First off the parade is great. The big issues was whether or not the could use the balloons due to high winds.  The wind was a problem, but not too much.  They had to fly the balloons at a lower elevation, which may have been better; except all the balloons were in a prone position.  CBS had a few bonus items.  Lady Antebellum sang three songs, ending with Let it Snow which was very beautiful.  There were also peeks at three different musicals including Cinderella.  This was fascinating as they showed some of the technical solutions to changing Cinderella's dress right on stage as well as the mice and pumpkin into horse and carriage.  They flew the Fairy Godmother as they sang "Impossible."  There was a peek at First Date with a song ending in a long kiss.  I guess that date went OK.  Lastly there was a look at A night with Janis Joplin.  I assume this in many Janis Joplin songs.  They showed "Me and Bobby McGee."  It was very good.  So the added stuff was good.  However you would have to include interviews, which for the most part were boring, and in the way of seeing the parade.
As for the coverage of the actual parade, this was very poor.  They showed many balloons, a few floats, a band or two.  I don't know how much was missed as we kept cutting away to an interview or cooking or commercial.  There were lots of commercials.  So overall, I will watch a different network next year.

Christmas Movie Review: ***^ Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

This movie has basically the same characters and relationship.  Richard Attenborough stars as Kris Kringle and Mara Wilson as Susan Walker.  Elizabeth Perkins plays Susan's mother and Dylan McDermott her boyfriend.  There are a couple of plot twists which keep this show interesting.  We are introduced to Kris Kringle who intervenes when a hired Santa Claus is inebriated.  Instead of a psychiatrist, the villain is a competitor store owner who is hoping to buy the store where Santa works.  A couple employees are trying to discredit the Santa Claus who is bringing the store back from the brink. The other interesting twist is "In God We Trust" gives the little bit the judge needs to not commit Kris.  The other is the three requests from Susan to Saint Nick and how they come to pass.  Again a classic.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Movie Review: ****Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

 This movie presents a young single mother, Doris Walker (Maureen O' Hara)and her daughter, Susan Walker (Natalie Wood) as a mother and daughter who have the attitude of only believing in things that are real, and not in Santa Claus.  It also has a Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) and a lawyer, Fred Gailey (John Payne) who defends Kris when he is being sent to an insane asylum because he insists that he is Santa Claus.  Kris Kingle is a very good Santa, and insists  it is more important for the children to be happy, than any one store to get sales.  There is a company psychiatrist at Macy's who leads the anti Santa Claus movement.  That leads them into conflict.  The case ends up in court, and there is a cute scene with the son of the District Attorney who is prosecuting the case.  The son points out his father told him who Santa Claus is.  His father is try to convince the judge to commit Kris Kringle to an asylum.  The judge is seeking some reason to accept him, and is given this when the U.S. Postal Service delivers letters to him.  Of course Doris had suggested this.  This movie talks about faith, and what faith is.  Doris and her daughter find faith in the end.  I really enjoyed Natalie Wood, and her emotions and expressions.  It is interesting the commercialization of Christmas was a theme over sixty years ago.  This movie is a classic.

Christmas Movie Review: Our First Christmas

This is a 2008 made-for-TV Christmas movie.  It shows the effects of a combined family having their first Christmas, when both sets of children want things to continue in the way they have been in the past, and that changing would be disrespecting the deceased parent on both sides.  One side has to give up their Christmas traditions so the other can have theirs.  The children have a plan.  If they are mopey enough, then they will all get their way by being split up for Christmas.  But when it comes down to it, the children want to be together for Christmas, but didn't communicate this very well.  So grandma (Dixie Carter) leaves feeling they are holding on to the past for her.  However grandpa (John Ratzenberger) on the other side is falling for her.  Turns out the children having been selfish is ruining Christmas for everyone.  Or has it?

Christmas Movie Review: *** Naughty or Nice

This is a made for TV Christmas. This movie is a play on a name.  The main character's name is Krissy Kringle (Hillary Burton) and she lives on Christmas Lane.  She gets Santa Clause mail every year, and this year she get's Santa's book, "Naughty or Nice."  She begins focusing on the naughty side of the book, which gives her some momentary satisfaction but makes her life go to pot.  Especially when she reads that her boyfriend of six years had an affair with her worse enemy at the job from which she was fired.  She breaks off the relationship.  Her parents come to visit (Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross ((yes from Family Ties)) and mother reminds her there are two sides to every coin.  It is then that she realizes that the book has too sides, and if you turn it over it will tell you nice things about people.  She begins to set things right, and in so doing gets her Christmas wishes, including a marriage proposal.  This is a movie with nice Christmas Spirit, and a visit from Santa Claus.

Christmas Movie Reviews: ***^One Christmas

***^One Christmas This is a Truman Capote story which was made into a TV movie in 1994.  It features  Henry Winkler as Buddy's (T.J. Lowther) father, Swoosie Kurtz as father's girlfriend and Katharine Hepburn as the girlfriends influential aunt, Cornelia Beaumont.  Buddy is visiting his father, who he doesn't know very well.  He was  living with Aunt Sook in Alabama.  Father lives in New Orleans.  Father is a con artist, manipulating women to give him money for his investments.  He is currently investing in a plane scheduled to be in a race.  He is sure of winning, until the engine blows.  He has to find investors to pay for a new engine, and gets one of faulty history.  Swoosie is a major investor, over the objection of her aunt.  I liked this  movie because it showed the growth of the characters.  They all seem to mature.  Buddy learns to love his father, although he prefers Alabama.  His father learns to be more honest.  Swoosie learns to stand for herself and make her own decisions and Miss Beaumont learns to open up more in her old age.  This movie is a bit slow, but I mildly recommend it.