Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Movie Review: ****^ High Road to China (1983)

This movie is Tom Selleck at his best.  This is a 1983 adventure  movie based in the 1920s.  It was put out by Golden Harvest/Warner Brothers.  This movie was made in the wake of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."  Tom Selleck plays Patrick O'Malley, a pilot who teaches lessons, drinks too much and womanizes too much.  He and his two planes are offered employment by Eve Tozer (Bess Armstrong) who needs to find her father (Wilford Brimley) and get him to a British court, or he will be proclaimed dead by her father's partner in business, Bentik.  His partner is with out morals, and will do anything to get his way, including murder.  Jack Weston portrays Struts, his mechanic and drinking buddy. 
The movie is filmed in Yugoslavia.  O'Malley and Tozer fly all over, having great adventures looking for her father.  They fall into the hands of Suleman Khan, who wants to use the plans to drop bombs on the English.  This does not work out and O'Malley drops bombs on the Khan's camp instead, allowing his friends to escape.  They go farther and farther into the back country, arriving in Nepal.  The elder who tells them where to go to find her father advises, "The oz is slow, but the earth is patient."  Bentik sends a fighter pilot to stop their travels.  He destroys one of the planes, but O'Malley meets him in a dog fight with the other, which he wins of course.
They then travel to China where her father is conducting a war against a Chinese emperor.  Father explains that the company is not where the wealth is, but in the patents which are still in his and daughter's name.

This movie is fun.  It turns out to be romantic comedy in addition to adventure.  The two planes used are vintage, and not actually destroyed.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book Review: ****^ Holes


When I finished watching Holes, and they said it was based on a book, I determined I needed to read it.  The book was written by Louis Sachar and published in 1999.  This is another Newberry Medal book.
I really enjoyed this book.  The movie follows the book very well.  There were a couple things about the character Stanley Yelnats that I picked up from the book.  First is that he was overweight.  Shia Labeouf doesn’t come across as overweight.  The second is that he was a bit of a wimp even though he was large.   The reason the lawyer was able to get him off, is because he was in the bathroom being tormented by a bully (smaller size than he) who came forward as a witness and “He was innocent.”  The reason the family could afford a lawyer in the end, and not at the beginning, is because their father finally came up with something that worked.  It may have been coincidental, but father made his discovery the same day Stanley carried Hector Zeroni up the hill.  When Stanley went back to get his shovel, he realized that he had carried him up the hill much farther  than he remembered.  I think Camp Green Lake ended up being a good experience for Stanley.  He had filled out from all the shoveling, and could no longer be considered a big weakling.  I also don’t think he was going to take any more guff from bullies.  He also made a friend in Hector.  The characters are all enjoyable and interesting.  I really like the flashback characters, Kissing Kate and the onion seller Sam, who is a Black Man.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mormon Musical Review: KBYU In Performance: 1856 Long Walk Home

This is a combined telling of the Martin and Willey Handcart Companies in an operatic style.  It uses poetry, song (piano accompaniment) and poetic recitation to tell the story.  It includes some classic stories from the tragedy.  These include the words of Elizabeth Jackson Horrocks with regards to the death of her husband, and spending the night in the freezing cold under the stars with her children on her lap.  Also the words of Frances Webster, "We became acquainted with God in our extremities."

It also gives a fairly good idea of the conditions on the ships in the journey across the ocean.

However it does have some problems with telling two stories at the same time, and as a result it makes some factual errors.  It has the Martin Saints going up Rocky Ridge and crossing the Sweetwater for the sixth time going to Martin's Cove.  It was their first crossing, and they did not pull the handcarts up Rocky Ridge.  It also has Ephraim coming into camp before Martin's Cove, while he met the company after the Cove.

The genre was operatic, and not period, which would have been preferable.  The version of Brigham Young calling on the Saints was enjoyable, and the cords haunting.

This work, I could only mildly recommend.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Music Review: September Morn

September Morn:  This is a record I had as a youth, and I purchased a used c.d. at the Streetlight C.D.  This is vintage Neil Diamond, but this disc really doesn’t have any block buster songs.  “September Morn” is fun to listen to.  It is a mellow song with a good tone.  “The Good Lord Loves You” gives a positive message to those who have been down on their luck.  I also enjoy the version of “I’m a Believer.”  However the other songs in the group are pretty forgettable.  There is one I particularly dislike, “Stagger Lee.” Which is the story of a murder related to losing at gambling.

Movie Review: ****^Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I am seen all the Harry Potter movies, but this is only the second review as I have just gotten done watching this again.  These are movies that you watch over and over.  "The Goblet of Fire" is the fourth in the series.  This is the movie were Voldemort comes back.  I liked this movie because I recognized The Doctor as (David Tennant) as Barty Crouch.  The new teacher for defense of the dark arts is Alastor Moody (Brendan Gleeson).  This is a dual role.  The plot is Voldemort wants to come back from being a glob in which he was left.  However the conditions must be just right.  He plants a spy in the Tri Wizard Cup games with the goal of getting Harry Potter to him, so he can set up those conditions.  Voldemort is evil, as are those who surround him.  Barty Crouch is just bad, and Voldemort has this snake that talks, it is just bad.  Harry has dreams of this evil plot, but doesn't figure out what is happening until it is too late.
Lots of action this version, and lots of relationship strife between our three leads, Harry, Hermione and Ron.   Too many top rank actors to list them all, but this show is a good time, and lead us to further adventures.

Book Review: Voyage of the Dawn Treader: Narnia 5

I must admit, this book is not my favorite of the Narnia series.  Maybe I am a land lover.  This book has Lucy and Edmund along with their snotty cousin Eustace.  It has Caspian on a journey to find his father's companions who took this journey many years previous and were lost.  It is exciting at first, with them restoring the Lost Islands to Narnia.  However it get tedious with them always heading East looking for Aslan's country.  This book is actually enjoyable until they get to the island where the star is in charge.  They find the last of the people they are trying to rescue, but then they continue East.  It becomes tedious.  It took me many days to read the last few chapters.
The idea is the partake of a water of light, sort of like the water of life, or tree of life, and can see more light.  Reepicheep is looking to go to Aslan's country, and he achieves this goal.  Eustace, Lusy and Edmund are send home, but promised there is a portal from our world to Aslan's country.  Aslan appears as a bird, and as a lamb, and a Lion.  Not as enjoyable as some of the others, but still a good book over all.

Movie Review: ****^The Blind Side (2009)

For this movie Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for best actress.  In watching the movie you can see why.  This movie tells the early story of Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), and NFL football player.  Through his youth he was in and out of foster care as his mother had a drug problem.  He would generally run away from home.  However he did get a scholarship to a Catholic school, based on his size.  He was going to sleep outside the gym one evening, when Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) invited him home to spend the night with her family.  She then invited him for Thanksgiving.  Over the objection of some of her friends, and neighbors, he becomes a part of her family.
He initially struggles at football, because he doesn't want to hurt anyone.  However, Tuohy takes him aside, and explains how he has to protect his back side.  He overcomes his fear, and becomes an all-American football player, recruited by many colleges.  However he cannot take a scholarship to a major school without raising his grades.  A tutor is hired, (Kathy Bates) who likes Mississippi.  His new parents also went there.  He chooses Mississippi but not without NCAA investigation.  He has to get some things strait in his mind, and goes home, to birth neighborhood.  He has a run-in with a relative.  Tuohy comes looking for him, and this individual threatens her son.  She starts to walk away, then turns around and lets him know she is packing and she has her son's blind side.  It is a cool seen.  Oher passes his NCAA interview as he says he wants to go to Mississippi because it is his family school.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Movie Review: ***** Hoosiers

Hoosiers is one of my favorite shows.  It came out in 1986.  It is a movie about a small town basketball team.  It is fictional, but loosely based on the story of Milan High School, 1952 and their state championship run.  In small towns, basketball can be the only show in town, and is followed by everyone.  At the same time, a person's whole life can be tied up with those few years of their high school playing years.  Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) is coming back to the coaching profession, after a twelve year hiatus.  His last coaching was at the university level, and he was suspended for punching one of his players.  He had spent ten years in the navy.  He teaches fundamentals, starting with basics, and insisting the players follow what he says.  However, by the end of the year, he is listening to the opinion of his players, but is still the coach.  Dennis Hooper was nominated in a supportive role for his role as the assistant coach, Shooter.  His son plays on the team.  He has a drinking problem.  Even so he assists.  The pressure gets to him and he relapses.  He is in the hospital as the team plays for the state championship.  Shooter's reaction to the game as he listens on the radio are just classic.  I highly recommend this movie.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book Review: Prince Caspian: Narnia 4

This is another great Narnia book.  The children are pulled back to Narnia after a year of their time, but thousands of years of the Narnian time.  They are pulled back because Prince Caspian blows on Susan's horn, which promises help.  The four Prevensie siblings find Narnia much changed.  In fact they do not even recognize Cair Paravel at first because everything is in decay and ruin.  Caspian's father was murdered by his uncle, and now the uncle is after him.  However Caspian escapes to the wild kingdom, and meets dwarves and animals that talk which have been chased into hiding by the king.  Prince Caspian and his people are not original Narnian, but came to the world through a passage between worlds in a cave.  They are Telmarines.  The Telmarines conquered the world some time ago. 
The retaking of the world can only be successful with additional help.  Lucy sees Aslan, who advises her to go a certain way, but the older children over ride her, and so their help does not reach Prince Caspian quickly.  When they do arrive, it seems insufficient.  However Peter decides to take on the king in one-on-one combat to buy time.  They all hope Aslan has a plan.  Aslan's plan is much different than what you might expect.
I again enjoyed this book.  It is the second Narnia book written, but is fourth time wise in the series. 
Symbolically, this book is much like an apostasy which has come over the world, although there are those who still believe.  Lu sees Aslan, and could lead the others to him if they would just follow, however the don't.  Sometimes we are like that.  Those who see Jesus could lead many others to Him, if they would just believe and follow.

Movie Review: **^No Deposit, No Return

This is a sweet little Disney take on O. Henry's "Ransom of Red Chief" except in this case it is a brother and sister, and they are running away and happen to take the same cab as a couple safe-crackers who are getting away after a botched robbery attempt.  The mob is pressuring our robbers for money (Don Knotts and Darren McGavin).  Don Knotts where he is nervous, rattling his hot chocolate cup with a spoon, remembering the sirens.  The noises he makes are hilarious.  He then ends up in a construction project with a bucket on his head, and is saved by a crane.  Who knows how he got out there, but it had to do with saving a skunk which belongs to one of the kids.  This movie has a theme similar to "Savannah Smiles" except in this case it is the mother (Barbara Feldon) who has neglected her children (Kim Richards, Brad Savage).  The kids send a kidnapping note to grandfather, hoping to get money to travel to Hong Kong to see their mother over Easter break.  Grandfather (David Niven)  knows where the kids are, but is enjoying the peace and quiet of there being someplace else rather than with him as they tend to destroy his home.  Instead it is our small time crooks who suffer.  Of course when the mob steps in to take over the kidnap things take a change for the worse.

Movie Review: ****Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

This is another Tom Clancy (obvious from the name) but it has Jack Ryan in the post 911 era.  Sheri says that Clancy wrote about Jack Ryan's son, and perhaps that is where this material comes from.  Jack (Chris Pine) is recruited as an analyst for the CIA by Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner).  At the same time he has fallen in love with Dr. Muller (Keira Knightly).  Then we fast forward three years.  Jack thinks he will just be an employee on Wall Street, while actually working for the CIA.  He notices files hid from them by a Russian firm, and feels he is onto a plot.  He is asked to go to Russia by the CIA to meet with the president of the Russian Company with which they are doing business.  His journey to Russia gets off to a bad start.  His bodyguard (Nonso Anozie) tries to kill him, and Ryan has to kill him instead.  He has now gone active.  They have to get into the Russian director's computer.  He is planning a plot for a terrorist attack against the U.S. as well as a dollar dump, which likely will bring on a depression.  The Russians are mad at the U.S. over lack of support at the U.N.
This show has tension on two levels.  Can Jack, and his fiance who follows him to Moscow, survive, and can the CIA stop the Russian terrorist.  This movie keeps you tense in your seat.  I thought the theater was cold, but it was just my body reaction to the tension which lasts through most of the second half of the movie.
This is good Tom Clancy fun.

Movie Review: ***Oliver Twist (2005)

This is a Roman Polanski version of Oliver Twist.  It is much darker than any of the other versions I have seen.  How Nancy could hook up with him is beyond me.  However, Oliver is just reaching out after having run away.  Runaways are too often the victims of those who would set out to protect them.  That is what we see here, a boy whose life has no value, and he is headed for a watery grave at the bottom of the river, if there is no one to save him. This version has some likeable scenes, but over all too dark for my taste.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Musical Movie Review: ****Shrek: The Musical

Some of the special effects they do in this musical, I don't get.  They actually have Lord Farquaad with little bitty legs like in the animated version.  Anyway, the story is basically the same as Shrek, just add the music.  They show Fiona through the years, held in a tower guarded by a dragon waiting for her prince to come.  I like this song.
Settle in girls. It's story time! Isn't this fun?
It's like a sleep over,
but instead of a pillow fight, there is an insane dragon who incenterates things. Now where were we? Oh right?

There's a princess In a tower
Oh my gosh, that's just like me
Poor Rapunzel Needs a haircut
But the witch won't set her free
She passes time by singing
Like someone else I know
As years go by she sits and waits?
As years go by' Uh oh A torturous existence
I don't remember this part!
She wishes she were dead Skip ahead skip ahead!
But in the end Rapunzel finds a millionaire
The prince is good at climbing and braiding golden hair!

So I know, he'll appear
Cause there are rules and there are strictures
I believe the storybooks I read by candlelight
My white knight, and his steed
Will look just like these pictures!
It won't be long now, I guarantee!
Day number'23. I know its today
I know its today

Oh here's a good one! It's a classic!

There's a princess In a coma
Glad its her instead of me. Pretty maiden
In a glass box How I wonder does she pe?
Blah blah blah, poison apple
Boring boring evil queen
Filler filler, been there, read that!
Seven shorties on the scene.
Skip ahead, skip ahead'
But in the end the princess wakes up with a start
The prince is good at kissing
And melting Snow White's heart!

So I know, he'll appear
And his armor will be blinding!
As shining as his perfect teeth And then repose
He'll propose On one knee
And our prenupt will be binding!
About time we set the wedding date!
Day number'958.
I know it's today. He'll show up today....

There's a princess  Any princess
Take your pick, they're all like me
Not exactly, I'm still waiting
they're living happily
Ever after better get here
I want love in seconds flat
No one needs these middle bits
Oops, did I do that'

Cut the villains, cut the vamping
Cut this fairytale
Cut the peril and the pitfalls
Cut the puppet and the whale
Cut the monsters, cut the curses
Keep the intro, cut the verses
And the waiting, the waiting, the waiting, the waiting
The waiting!

But I know, he'll appear
Though I seem a bit bipolar
And I'm a vandal now as well, though he won't mind
I'm a find, I'm a catch
And a very gifted bowler!
It won't be long now, I guarantee!
Day number'

Are you there God?
It's me Fiona

It's me Fiona!

Now I know, he'll appear
Cause there are rules and there are strictures
I believe the storybooks I read by candlelight
My white knight, my knight and his steed
Will look just like these pictures!
It won't be long now, I guarantee!

Day number 23

Day number 958

Day number 4823

I know its today, oooo

I know its today, oooo

I know its today, oooo

I know its today, oooo

I know its today, oooo

I Know it's today

I know it's today!

This is a show about accepting who you are, which all the fairy creatures must do to confront Farquaad.  Breaking down walls, which Donkey helps Shrek do, and true love.  It is fun.  And did you know Farquaad is the son of Grouchy the dwarf?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Movie Review: ****^Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

This is musical theater at its best.  Some of these songs you hum over and over.  The plot is seven brothers, the oldest of which, Adam (Howard Keel) goes to town to get a bride, and comes back with one, Nellie (Jane Powell).  However all is not right, as there are six more brothers who also need wives.  The song, "Pole Cat" is one of my favorite.  It combines the rhythm of the wood chopping in a very effective manner.  The boys are restless, and want wives, or they start talking about moving away.  However Adam has an idea, although not a very good one, and one bound to lead to problems.  He mans up at the end of the movie and takes blame for his mistake, and does his best to try to set things right.  This is a very good movie about family love, and life in a different time.

Movie Review: *****Frozen

I was pleasantly surprised with this movie.  This is a movie of sisterly love, not of snowmen and snow people.  I was so mistaken in my head of what this movie was going to be about.  This is another enjoyable Disney movie.  It features Kristen Bell and Indina Menzel voicing sisters, Anna and Elsa.  They are daughters of the King and Queen.  Elsa has a secret.  She has a special power that what she touches turns to ice.  However she does not know how to control this power, and so shuts herself up in her room, after she accidentally almost kills her sister.  The song, "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" talks of the change in the sisterly relationship after this accident.  Sheri says this song made her cry.

Then their parents must travel, and are swallowed up by a storm.  Our young women are orphaned, and only have each other.  However Elsa is still afraid of her power/curse.
The other song that is a show stopper is Indira Menzel singing "Let it Go".  Everyone now knows of her curse, and she has run away to live alone.
The snow glows white on the mountain tonight,
not a footprint to be seen.
A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I'm the queen.
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.
Couldn't keep it in, Heaven knows I tried.
Don't let them in, don't let them see.
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal don't feel, don't let them know.
Well, now they know!
Let it go, let it go.
Can't hold it back anymore.
Let it go, let it go.
Turn away and slam the door.
I don't care what they're going to say.
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway.
It's funny how some distance,
makes everything seem small.
And the fears that once controlled me, can't get to me at all
It's time to see what I can do,
to test the limits and break through.
No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I'm free!
Let it go, let it go.
I am the one with the wind and sky.
Let it go, let it go.
You'll never see me cry.
Here I stand, and here I'll stay.
Let the storm rage on.
My power flurries through the air into the ground.
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I'm never going back; the past is in the past!
Let it go, let it go.
And I'll rise like the break of dawn.
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand, in the light of day.
Let the storm rage on!
The cold never bothered me anyway

I especially like the part about the storm raging in side, and then being released.

Anna, goes to find her sister Elsa, and save her, and also save their country.  Elsa has inadvertently frozen everything, and turned summer into winter.  She is joined in her quest by a snowman, and an Ice seller.  They travel up the mountain, where Elsa has built and ice castle.  They discover that it is hard to melt a sister's heart when it is made of gold.
I am not going to say more of the plot because it will give too much away.  This movie is a have-to-see.  There is a reason it has been the top movie for several weeks.  It is a feel-good, positive movie, with good music and good visuals.  It left me with that positive, motivated feeling.
Tony has been to see the movie three times.  Enjoy!!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Movie Review: The Willows in Winter

***^ The Willows in Winter (1996) This is the sequel to the 1995 Wind in the Willow.  It is based on a sequel book written by William Horwood.   The movie starts with children asking grandmother, Vanessa Redgrave, will you tell us another story about the river.  This river story has more excitement and energy than the 1995 "Wind in the Willow."  Mole is lost on the river, Rat is dumped from a plane, Toad crashes the plane but saves the city, Badger misses Toad.  The exploits of Toad are more entertaining, but have the same result and land him in court.  The movie misses the part about Rat and Mole wanting to see the great beyond which are in the book.
For the book review

Book Review: The Willows in Winter

Rarely does a sequel written by a different author, capture the charm of the original book.  However in this case, pleasantly the author does capture the tone of Kenneth Graham.  We are again introduced to Mole, River Rat, Toad and Badger.  Mole is lost when he breaks through the ice, trying to get to his friends, who he incorrectly thinks are in danger.  Thus we are off on a new adventure.  Badger is recruited, who in turn recruits the weasels and sloats, and a great search is begun.  It proves fruitless.  However, Toad is now enthralled by flying machines rather than by cars.  His services are recruited.  His enthusiasm gets him into more trouble than he had ever been in before, and this after betraying his friends.  River Rat is dumped, in a parachute thankfully.  However Toad ends up in to town where the police and judges are out to get him.

Mole ends up rescuing himself.  This book is about relationships, and coming to terms with an eccentric friend, who gets into trouble, but makes life interesting.  The book also leaves a starting place for more adventures, as Rat and Mole have seen the Beyond.
for the movie review 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Music Review: **^ Gladys Knight: At Last

This CD was released in 2001.  It is mostly a compendium of love songs, song in the pop blues style.  There is one song whee Gladys gets out of this mold, and that is the song I prefer, "Grandma's Hands."  This song has a catchy upbeat rhythm.  It talks about Gladys' relationship with her grandmother:

Grandma’s Hands

Gladys don’t you run so fast
Might fall on a piece of glass
Might be snakes there in that grass
Grandma’s hands

It is humorous in its way.   Gladys dedicates this song to "those very special women who have nurtured, protected, loved, and affected positively so many lives."

Another song "Something Blue" is dedicated to those who have "lost someone precious in this life."  In Gladys own life she lost her adult son Jimmy III.

This is enjoyable, but I especially like "Grandma's Hands."

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Movie Reviews: The Wind in the Willow

**^ The Wind in the Willow 1995 Vanessa Redgrave
I loved reading the "The Wind in the Willow" by Kenneth Grahame as a youth, and hoped this movie would have the same magic.  However for me it came up short.  I just seemed like the whole thing was just characters going through the motions, with no real energy or pleasure.  I didn't see mole being so crazed for motor cars as he needed to be, and the capture and escape from jail just didn't have excitement of the book. 

Book Review: The Pastures of Heaven

The Pastures of Heaven
John Steinbeck offers a description of this valley, which is so positive I have been trying to find exactly where it is located and I want to go see it for myself.  Pastures of heaven, must be very nice.
This book is a series of twelve short stories about the people of pastures of heaven.  This is an earlier book of John Steinbeck, published in 1932.  I love short stories, and I love John Steinbeck, so this is the perfect book for me. 
The first story told is that of Bert Munroe, a father with wife and one child, who come to the valley to change their bad luck.  He has had several business ventures which have fallen through.  Often they looked like they would bring success, but in the end did not.  He takes up the farm which is supposed to be cursed.  Past residents have fallen on bad luck with a past family being subject to epilepsy and crazy fits, and they all die in the end.  The next family to be on the place just disappeared mysteriously.   Bert says it’s funny about the place because maybe his bad luck and the places bad luck will cancel each other out, and it does.  He becomes a prominent member of the community and is well liked and accepted.
Edward “Shark” Wicks is believed to be wealthy with many investments.  However his investments are just pretend, but he lets others believe he is doing well.  He is cursed, or blessed with a beautiful daughter.  He protects her chastity jealously.  When he goes away on a trip, comes back and discovers she was kissed by a guy, he ends up with a gun headed towards the boy’s property, even though he really doesn’t want to do anything.  Before he can back down, he is confronted by the police and arrested.  Bond is set, and the whole town comes to realize he has nothing.  His wife is the person with all the power of healing.  He is a broken man, but she lets him know they can go away, and he can have his shot for real.
Junius Maltby comes to the valley for his health.  He was a successful clerk in San Francisco.  He rents a room, but when the widowed proprietor worries about what others might say, He marries her.  She has two sons.  They die from the flu, and the black death takes her, but before she dies, she gives him a son.  He knows nothing of parenting or farming.  The farm turns to weed and they are poor.  He hires a German to run the farm, who knows less than he.  They live in bliss, until the county makes the son go to school.  Father sends him in rags, and the community feels they need to do something about it.  However he is a leader among the boys, and well liked.  They imitate his clothes.  His father and farm hand join in the games.  However, at the annual School Board visiting the school day, a wife of the school board presents him with new clothes.  This causes his father to realize what others think of him, and he leaves the valley, going back to San Francisco to work at a job he knows.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Movie Review: **^The Marvelous Land of Oz
This is a dramatic production from Children's Musical Theater of Minnesota.  It was presented in 1981.  This musical follows pretty well the book, leaving out a few parts as would be expected.  It has all the characters important in the book, Tip, Scarecrow, Nick Chopper the Tin Woosdman, Jack Pumpkinhead, Woogle Bug, Glinda, Jinjur, Jellia, Mombi. I really disliked Mombi's character.  She was too witchy and had too large a part.  In reading the book she was more a mean sorceress, although she was ugly.  She dominated the show in an ugly way.  However the Tinman, Scarecrow and Tip were very good.  The music was forgettable.  I did find the song of Glinda talking to Tip enjoyable.  "Look to your own heart for there you will find the courage to face tomorrow.  There's no other heart that knows, look to your own heart."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Movie Review: ***^The Recruit

The Recruit
This is a 2003 movie starring Al Pacino as Walter Burke, a CIA trainer, and pits him against Colin Farrell, James Douglas Clayton a recruit.  Burke recruits Clayton by telling him he knew his father and implying that he was a CIA agent at one time.  The training has many rough parts, including Clayton being kidnapped and tortured.  As a result of this, he drops out.  However he formed a relationship with a young woman, Layla Moore (Bridget Moynahan).  Burke recruits Clayton in a lower level job, and indicates to him that this woman is in fact a foreign mole.  She is stealing information out of the CIA and wants someone wither rust to work as an independent  spy, and figure out her contacts. 
This movie has some tense scenes.  Everything is not as is seems, which leads to an interesting finish.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Review: ***Doctor Who: The Movie (1996)

As can happen in "The Doctor" this movie stars two doctor, Sylvester McCoy, who is familiar as the doctor, and Paul McGann who is a new doctor.  The Doctor (McCoy) is transporting the body of The Master who was executed for crimes.  However his essence gets into the body of the TARDIS, causing it to breakdown and land in Chinatown, San Francisco.  The first doctor, as he comes out of the TARDIS is shot b y a gang,and wounded.  He gets to the hospital, but the medical profession actually kill him, operating on him before they know what they are actually doing.  The Master inhabits the body of the ambulance driver that took The Doctor to the hospital.  The TARDIS of course is not doing well who he convinces that The Doctor is evil, not him, opens the Eye of Harmony.   The Master,promises power and riches to those who help him.  The Eye must be reclosed, or it will suck the world into itself.  This story takes place at the Millenial celebration, and The Doctor needs an atomic clock to fix the eye.  Many laughs at the New Year's Eve party where they seek out the clock they need.  Great fight in the end, as is common with the Doctor.
This movie was an attempt of seeing how The Doctor would do to an  American audience.  It did not do well, but was a success in England.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Review: The Horse and His Boy: Narnia 3

This book takes place during the golden age of Narnia, when King Peter, Queen Susan, King Edmond and Queen Lucy rule in Narnia.  It is the third book time wise, but the fifth book written. 
Two young people, one young man and one young woman, Shasta and Aravis both have Narnian horses, and when their own situation becomes bad, the horses convince them to run away to Narnia, where people and animals are free.  They meet along the trail, and form an alliance.  Aslan scares them, or herds them along the way.  Aravis is from an aristocratic family, Shasta from a poor family.  When they reach the city of Tashbaan, the capital of Calormen, they are both worried of being identified and sent home.  The dress as poor people, leading dumb beasts of burden.  The horses cut their tails to play the part.  Shasta is mistaken for the Prince of Archenlan, who is visiting Tashbaan with King Edmond and Queen Susan.  Prince Rabadash of the Calormen is infatuated with Susan, and they are visiting as part of a courtship.  However Queen Susan has decided he is not the man for her.  However they have to use deceit to get out of town.  Prince Corin, of Archenland returns, and Shasta is able to continue his journey.  Prince Rabadash is angry at being rejected, and takes 200 horse to attack Archenland, and then Narnia.  Aravis has overheard the plans, and consequently the journey is not just a journey to freedom, but also a journey to warn the people, as the army of Archenland is close on their heals. 
This story includes a twist.  There is one part which is a bit confusing.  Aslan scratches Aravis' back, and wounds her severely.  He later explains it was so she would know the injury she caused a servant girl who was beaten because she ran away.
When Narnia comes to the assistance of Archenland it is Edmond and Lucy who lead the Narnians.  Peter is in the North battling giants. 
I very much enjoyed this adventure.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Christmas Movie Review: Christmas in Conneticutt (1992)

This is a very interesting made for tv movie about the a TV cooking show.  Elizabeth Blane (Dyan Cannon) is the star of a cooking show, but in reality she can't cook.  They take the show to Connecticut, to host Jefferson Jones (Kris Kristofferson) who has been a hermit of late, but in his duties as a ranger, rescued a youth stranded in the woods, and his a hero.  The problem is the story lines on the show are all made up.  Blane does not have a family, is not married, does not have grandchildren.  However all these are provided for her.  Her assistants and her husband take up the spot as Blane's children.  They don't have children of their own, so they borrow a couple children from another family.  Blane's producer (Tony Curtis) plays her husband.  So we have put into play a farsical situation.  This gets worse as Blane and Jones seem to develop a thing for each other.  
When the Christmas show plays (live) the assistant is stranded in a snow bank.  She does all the cooking, and the food is not prepared.  The first section of the show goes wrong, and so the producer says to Blane, be yourself.  This results in her exposing herself and the show as a fraud.  It ends with Blane and Jones ones kissing.  They are all fired, but in the end, honesty created big numbers.
Arnold Schwarzenegger directed.  This is a remake of a 1945 movie.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Disney Musical Movie Review: ***^ Pocahontas (1995):

 This movie portrays the conflict between two cultures.  It has the wicked colonists who are seeking freedom; and gold.  It also shows the people of Pocahontas, who are in perfect harmony with nature and the earth, even though they have their own conflicts between peoples.  Mel Gibson gives voice to John Smith, and Irene Bedard to Pocahontas.  Judy Kuhn provides the vocals for Pocahontas.  David Ogden Stiers is the gold-seeking governor.  Pocahontas is coming to a crossroads in her life, and has to decide whether or not to marry Kocoum, the warrior.  She consults the willow tree to get direction.
    The best part of this show is the meeting of John Smith and Pocahontas in the mist of the waterfall, and the relationship that follows. Another highlight is "Colors of the Wind:"
Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
A beautiful song.

Movie Review: ***^ Pocahantas II: Journey to a New World (1998)

This movie I found on Instant Netflix.  I enjoyed this movie for the most part.  John Smith goes into self banishment, and it is assumed he has died.  However he is in hiding as Ratcliffe (David Ogden Stiers) has gained influence with the king, and wants to take an armada to wipe out the Indians and get his gold. This movie introduces John Rolfe, who goes to America to invite the leader of the Native  Americans to come to England to meet the King.  Pohantan does not wish to go, but Pocahantas decides to go in his place.  She goes as a princess.  Pocahantas is jailed after protecting a bear from torture.  John Smith and John Rolfe team up to rescue her, but then she confronts the king again.  She convinces the king there is no Gold, and Ratcliffe is thwarted.

This movie works with the relationships between Pocahantas (Irene Bedard) and the men.  Ratcliffe continues to be evil.  The animals are no longer cute, the willow tree thing is old, the music is forgetable.  The Native American who travels with Pocahantas is funny in his regal manner.  The artwork leaves no doubt this is 2nd tier Disney.  However the thing that works the best is the relationship between Pocahantas and John Rolfe (Billy Zane).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Movie Review: ****Sabrina (1954)

This is a beautiful story.  The chauffer’s daughter (Audrey Hepburn) has been in love with the younger brother David (William Holden) of the rich employer's family since she was a child.  However he is a player.  So she goes to Paris to get away from the drama, and comes home a beautiful blossomed woman.  However the brother is now engaged, and this is a marriage to convenience to forge a partnership between two families and two companies.  However, as he is a player, he spies Sabrina for the first time, and wants to leave the arranged marriage behind and go with her.  Older brother, Linus (Humphrey Bogart) manages to take his place for a few days, while younger brother recuperates from an injury.  His initial goal is to send her back to Paris.  Slowing the affections change their loyalty.  But the older brother has always been the brother who has been responsible, and would never do anything to upset the family.
As I said a beautiful story, and Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogurt carry their parts well.  The difference in age is something they have to overcome as part of the story, and so does not get in the way of the story.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Narnia 2

This was the first of the Narnia books written, and tells the story of four children, sent to the North during WWII where they can escape the bombing of London.  The are sent to "The Professors" home, which is a very large estate.  The professor is Digory Kirke, who was the magician's nephew from the earlier Narnia book.  He is older now, and not aware that his home has a passage to Narnia, but Lucy, the youngest sibling discovers this.  The other siblings are Peter, Susan and Edmond.  The story of Narnia is too outlandish and her siblings do not believe her stories.  She made the entrance through a wardrobe, but when they try it doesn't work.  However they eventually also find themselves in Narnia, and in the midst of an adventure.   Narnia has been under a spell for 100 years of winter with no Christmas, a spell from the White Witch.  On the other hand, Aslan has returned.  With him comes spring and new hope.  I have seen this movie many times, and also the BBC version, but I was still moved with the sacrificial death of Aslan, who gives his life to a absolve Edmond, who had tricked Edmond into supporting her.  He gives himself to ridicule, and humiliation, but he does not open his mouth.  He is killed by the witch/queen.  Susan and Lucy watch.  They are so tender-hearted, that I could not help having a tear in my eye.  They remind me of the women at Jesus' tomb.  The stone on which he was lying cracks, and Aslan is not there.  The girls missed this, and when they come back to stone tablet they assume his body has been taken to be misused, but then he stands among them.  A more ancient magic, before even the beginning of the world says a life freely given for another will be returned, and so it was.  Then comes the freeing of those enslaved by the witch, and the great last battle. 
The four children grow up as kings and queens of Narnia, but they go on a hunt, and wander back through the wardrobe, and are again children, as if no time has passed.
This book is one of the best of all time.  Wikipedia reports in the top 100 books from 1923 to 2005 according to Time magazine, and number nine according to BBC's the big read.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book Review: The Magician's Nephew, Narnia 1

Although published in 1955, this book is the prequel, or the first of the Narnia books written by C.S.Lewis.  This book gives some important detail as to the world of Narnia.  For example it answers the question as to how the wardrobe had become a doorway between worlds, what was the light post doing there, where did the witch come from?  In fact this book shows us the creation scene, with Aslan singing, and blowing life into Narnia, much in the same order as the creation of the world in Genesis. 
There is a valuable lesson in this book.  The magician really isn't a good man, using people and mistreating them.  When he gets to Narnia, he cannot hear the animals talking.  He is not willing to believe anything that doesn't make sense to him, and consequently the animal are just ferocious beats he is scared of, he does not hear their words, nor their songs and sees them only as threatening.  On the other hand, the two children hear music, and understand th animals, and have a terrific experience. 
In similar fashion, those who hear will hear, while to others the Gospel is just hogwash.  But who is to say that things perceived by the Spirit are not real.  I believe it takes someone on a higher plane to listen to, and accept things of the spirit, which are accepted on faith.
Enjoyable read and I recommend this work.

TV review: Granite Flats

I really connected with this series.  I guess that is part of growing up during the cold war, and that is the story of this series.  This is a town in rural Colorado, with a small Air Force Base.  We are not sure what the purpose of the base is, but it does include a military hospital.  We learn that part of the goings on at the hospital is some nefarious experimentation or forced forgetting used on some air men.  You top this off with a Russian spy satellite falling out of the sky, and causing an explosion on the base that kills a mechanic.  A soldier, who feels guilty about his involvement, confesses to the death of the soldier,  setting up the series.  The show focuses on four young people, one the son of the soldier mentioned, the sheriff's son, a nurse's son and the daughter of two research doctors from the base.  The first is somewhat of a bully, and their is a conflict between he and the three others.  The last three like to solve mysteries.  The first mystery is to figure out what the nurse's son saw falling from the sky the night they arrived in town.  This was a great ride, I hope this continues.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Music Reviews: **Classic Andrew Lloyd Webber

The Classic Andrew Lloud Webber CD was released in 2004 and has various artists singing with the Orlando Pops Orchestra.  It is a two CD set and is an anthology of several Webber musicals.

The Classics is an operatic style, darker in nature.  I found it difficult to listen to some of the music on the this CD.  The soprano parts, instead of being entertaining, were painful to listen to, and sounded very much like a cat screeching.  The low-lights were the section from The Phantom, Memory from Cats and Another suitcase from Evita.  Some of these are my favorite songs, but not in this rendition.  I think the treble tones, which seem sharp at times, triggered my tinnitus.

One of my favorite songs is “Love Changes Everything.”  Love has changed everything for me.  However even this number was difficult to follow with the operatic style of the male singer.  Even so, the lyrics are very meaningful:

Love Changes Everything

Love, love changes everything Hands and faces, earth and sky Love, love changes everything How you live and how you die Love, love can make the summer fly Or a night seem like a lifetime Yes love, love changes everything Now I tremble at your name Nothing in the world will ever be the same
Love, love changes everything
Days are longer, words mean more
Pain is deeper than before
Love will turn your world around
And that world will last forever
Yes love, love changes everything
Brings you glory, brings you shame
Nothing in the world will ever be the same
Off into the world we go
Planning futures, shaping years
Love (comes in) and suddenly all our wisdom disappears
Love makes fools of everyone
All the rules we made are broken
Yes love, love changes everyone
Live or perish in its flame
Love will never never let you be the same

Love, love changes everything

Nothing in the world will ever be the same.

In conclusion I would suggest a pass on this anthology of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work by the Orlando Pops Orchestra.  I know there are other anthologies out there which are much better than this one.

Music Review: ***^The Phantom of the Opera, Highlights From

Charity"s high school choir "Phantom"
Music Reviews: The Phantom of the Opera, Highlights From

This CD offer a very light and enjoyable version of this production.   The Phantom, in "Highlights", is Michael Heath and Christine is sung by Kira Bronte.  This was released in 1996. The Highlights has a light air to it, and is very enjoyable to listen to.  Kira Bronte performs as well as any Christine I have heard, and her light music is pleasing to listen to. She has a light youthful air which is very pleasing. 
  Even the super high notes of “Phantom of the Opera” are enjoyable.  Her other songs are also pleasing, "Think of Me" and "Angel of Music". I enjoy “Masquerade” as my daughter sang in and helped choreograph this for her senior year choir at Cupertino High School.  She also sang the solo for "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again".

In conclusion I would strongly recommend the “Highlights” CD.

Christmas Movie Review: ****^The Christmas Shoes (2002)

This is one of the better made for TV Christmas movies.  This movie was made to follow the story of a popular Christmas song by the same name.
It tells the story of two families and their friends and relatives.  Their stories are intermingled, with some aware of the connection, and others not.  However it is about events that change your life, and give a new perspective on what is truly important.  In life it is so difficult to achieve balance, but sometimes we get our priorities mixed up.  This movie is about fixing those priorities, and focusing on what is really important.
As per a plot, it is very tender.  It presents a mother, who is dying from heart disease, and another family with a father who is mostly away, and fallen away from his family, because he is focused on making money so as to buy a big house.  But in the end, what really matters?  I highly recommend this movie.  Rob Lowe stars as the father who needs a miracle.  Kimberly Williams as the mother who is dying.

Newsong - The Christmas Shoes

This song will make you cry.  I have been watching a movie based on this song with the same Title.  The song leaves me in tears, as we get to a deeper, true meaning of the season.

Music Review: ****Back to Galilee

I have listened to ****"Back to Galilee" from Jeff Goodrich many times.  There is one song I have enjoyed particularly called "Beyond the Sun."  Jeff Goodrich talks of his experience of visiting the tomb in Jerusalem, and the feelings he was having.  "From beyond the sun, beyond the moon; beyond the stars where the galaxies bloom, there come the whispers of heaven, that tell my my Savior lives; He lives."

I know some people would say that these feelings are not real, they are manifestations of ours own desiring.  Or perhaps like Scrooge they would say they are some gastrointestinal action, some undigested undone potato.  Jeff Goodrich also answers this as the song continues.  "From deep in my heart, deep in my soul, deeper than mortal has strength to control, I hear the whispers of heaven, that tell my my Savior lives; He lives"

There are spiritual powers.  They are real, and the testify that Christ lives.  If you have doubt of this, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon, which testifies of Him in written word, and in spirit.
Get your free copy here:!3737!3!23873304735!b!!g!!+book%20of%20+mormon%20+free&ef_id=UrKVpgAAAFJiXwbd:20140104165627:s

Movie Review: ****^ Young Mr. Lincoln

This is a 1939 black and white movie available through instant Netflix.  It is directed by John Ford and Henry Fonda plays Mr. Lincoln.  This is not the way you would expect a Lincoln movie to go.  Instead this movie touches Lincoln as a man, a fallible, sometimes humorous, melancholy man.  He is truly an enigma.  There are those scenes where he can control a crowd with his wit and humor an courage; then there are those times when he talks down about himself.  This movie is truly a masterpiece.  Henry Fonda does a superb job.  I learned things about Abraham Lincoln I didn't know.  He likely had a love when he was young, who succumbed to typhoid.  He was melancholy, and subject to bouts of depression.  This movie also presents Lincoln as a lawyer, and it was as spellbinding as Perry Mason.  I recommend this movie.  Here is a longer review of this comparing it to another Lincoln movie.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Movie Review: ***^ McLintock! (1963)

This is a classic John Wayne movie.  It also stars Maureen O'Hara.  It is a Western remaking of the "Taming of the Shrew."  It tells the story of a cattle ranching area accepting into the community homesteaders.  G.W.'s (McLintock) wife left him a couple years earlier, but has returned to petition for divorce, and to take their daughter with her to the territorial capital.  G.W. refuses.  He is still not sure why she left, but things are not right between them.
Things are also not right between the Native Americans and the area settlers, and the government.  They have released the chiefs of the Comanche, but want them to move to a different reservation.  There is a negotiation, which was decided before the hearing, that the move had to take place.  The Native Americans saw they will not go, and would rather die in battle.
Add to this is the courtship of their daughter, with a college educated dandy, versus a young man her father has hired.  This movie has lots of nice characters, but the two that sparkle ware G.W. and his wife.  In fact it boils over with a good beating in the end.  The chase scene, on foot no less, with G.W. in pursuit is a classic.
These events take place around the town of McLintock.  We see the Fourth of July celebration with races and games and dances.  There is the city fight in the mud.  McLintock helps the Indians to escape, with the hopes of forcing an investigation, and thereby exposes the poor treatment they have received from the governor and the agent.
Drawbacks to this movie are the caricature of an elderly Native American as a drunk always looking for a party with whiskey.  There are also portrayals of white individuals with drinking issues, including McLintock, but not as caricatured.  Also I do not condone spousal abuse. (It was a different era.)