Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review: Peter Pan

I just finished Peter Pan,  the centennial edition (2003), reprint of the 1987 version of the book by J.M. Barrie and illustrated by Michael Hague.  This is the classic story, with pencil, pen, ink and water color illustrations.  This is the most popular work of J.M. Barry, which was originally produced as a play, and later written as a book, although Barrie had mentioned this character in several earlier books.  It tells the story of Peter Pan, and the Darling children, who almost forget their mother after being in Never Land, but eventually do come home, and grow up, while Peter remains a boy.  This version is much more bloody than I had supposed, as in the book are people actually dying, while in the Disney version people don’t seem to really die much.  The pirates are intent on killing Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and do get the better of the native Americans.  They take the Lost Boys and Wendy prisoner with the intent of their walking the plank.  However Peter Pan intervenes before this can happen, dispatching several of the pirates, in fact all of the pirates, except the two that swim to shore. 
Peter hopes to spoil Wendy’s return home by shutting the window, but then takes pitty on Mrs. Darling and reopens the window.  Wendy is to come every year for Spring cleaning, but most years Peter forgets to get and get her.  Wendy grows up, but Jane her daughter goes every Spring, and then Jane’s daughter and so on through the years.  Very enjoyable read and to illustrations are very nice.

TV Review: Doctor Who: Dreamland

This is an (2005) animated Doctor Who with David Tennant portraying the Doctor.  This movie is intriguing because it deals with Area 51, Dreamland.  When the Doctor hears of Dreamland his response is, "I've always wanted to go there."  This movie portrays the Western Shoshoni and is close to where Sheri and I use to live.  In the script they also mention the Bear River Massacre.  I don't know if this was a mistake, as this involved the Northern Shoshoni.  I digress.  Back to the story.  The Doctor visits a restaurant where they have an old space junk, and men-in-black come for it.  They run, but discover robot men after them, and finally a colonel takes them to Area 51 where he intends to erase their memories. They discover a cockroach type people working with the Colonel in a misguided attempt to save the world from some crashed aliens.  Turns out the device is a genetic bomb--to entirely erase a species.  It was designed to destroy the Viperox, the large cockroaches, who destroyed the world of the crashed aliens.  They are a husband and wife.  The bomb can only be armed by the husband who designed it.  The Doctor and his cohorts escape the Colonel, discover a large invading force of cockroaches, and are rescued by tribal elders.  Again recaptured the Doctor convinces the Colonel he is deceived, which brings on the war.  The Doctor does not use the genetic bomb, but chases the cockroaches away with the noise of his sonic screwdriver, amplified by the TARDIS.  This is a cool exciting ride and yes, I lone the British accents

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Movie Review: ****^ Treasure Island (1950): Disney

  This is a movie classic, of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel and it is where we get much of the idea of what a pirate is like, black spot and all.  It is the classic tale of people with a treasure map after pirates gold, while most of the crew are actually pirates themselves.  This leads to serious problems.  Robert Newton, with his pirate accent as Long John Silver is incredible.  He and Bobby Driscoll as Master Jim Hawkins create an interesting friendship; Long John as mentor, pirate, thief and man of honor.  On the, other hand Master Jim Hawkins as a naive young man, honest, trusting.  When those that find the treasure are saved from the pirates, and things don't work out to Long John Silver's advantage, Master Hawkins honors his friend and helps him escape. I love this movie.

TV Review: ***^Rosemary and Thyme Season 1

I have found a wonderful British detective series on Netflix Instant.  It ran from 2003-2006 and starred Felicity Kendal as Rosemary Boxer and Pam Ferris as Laura Thyme.  This is a couple elderly women, in the case of Laura Thyme, recently separated, and Rosemary is recently laid off from her job for a university.  Rosemary is a doctor of plant science, and they set up as private gardeners and expert gardening problem solvers.

They are good at their job, however their only problem is death seems to follow them.  The first couple episodes, people were uncovered.  One episode even a horse was unburied, and then later a woman.  Lucky they are very curious.  Laura is an ex cop and her son is a current cop who sometimes helps them secure information.

My favorite episode was "The language of Love."  A man had planted flowers with specific meanings, which his wife finds out to discover that he had an illegitimate daughter, whose mother then committed suicide because of the way she was treated.  His wife only discovered this after he had died, and a book was published about the language of flowers.  It is the daughter who went about killing the family members.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book Review: The Wayward Bus

The Wayward Bus
This is another John Steinbeck.  This book is a study of characters from different economic circumstances, and from different cultures who are thrown together for a bus ride through the rain, and taking an old road because the bridges are out. 
The characters are interesting in their own right.  Juan Chicoy is half Mexican, and owner of the Rebel Corner Diner and also runs a bus line from there to the coast.  He keeps the Virgin dangling from the mirror of his bus, Sweetheart.  Pimples, who wants to be called Kit, is his assistant mechanic at the Corners.  Juan's wife is Alice.  She has a bad temper which gets her into trouble.  She is also snoopy and wants to find out things to hold over people.  The helper in the diner is Norma.  Norma is somewhat lost in life.  She is saving her money to go to Hollywood. 
The bus passengers include the Pritchards, Mr. and Mrs. and their daughter Mildred.  Mildred has an attraction to Juan.  Ernest Horton is a traveling salesman.  He has plans to get ahead through an invention.  An old man, who is always quoting regulations and destroying everyone's fun.  He has a stroke before they reach their destination.  Camille is a character who changes the dynamics.  She is the last to arrive.  She is a real beauty and the men all want to be close to her.   She is in fact a striptease artist. When the bus gets stuck, Chicoy plays with the idea of just running away.  He comes to his senses, and resigns himself to his current life.  This book has interesting characters, not a lot of plot, but lots of interaction between different people thrown together.

Book Review: The Wrath of Mulgarath: Spiderwick Chronicles (5)

This is the concluding episode.  The Grace children return home after their adventure with the dwarves, only to find their home torn apart and their mother gone; even the Arthur Spiderwick library has been destroyed.  Mulgarath has been there.  Thimbletack the house brownie laments that he has failed.  Not only was he unable to protect the home, but Mulgarath has gotten the field guide.  The fly the Griffin to the junk yard, where Mulgarath has his castle.  First Jared visits the elves, and asks if he can see Andrew Spiderwick.  He hopes to learn something to help him battle Mulgarath.  The main piece of knowledge he gains is that ogres like to brag about themselves.  As they approach the cump they see pixies in honey, dad and dying.  Mulgarath has learned how to kill pixies.  The goblins attack them, but between Mallory with a sword and the griffin, they chase them all away.  The other thing Mulgarath has learned from the field guide is that dragons mature quickly when fed cows milk.  He has several cows and baby dragons feeding on them.  The griffin and dragon battle.  Dragons are poisonous, and Simon is burned in touching the mother.  The griffin and the mother dragon have a terrible fight, and the dragon is winning.  Although not poisonous to the griffin, the mother is still deadly.  Some distracts the mother by stepping on, and squishing baby dragons.  While the mother is distracted, the griffin is able to kill it.  The griffin is wounded, but begins to feed on all the baby dragons, not leaving any.  The then enter Mulgarath's castle to rescue their mother, and discover their father is also there needing rescue.  Jared perceives something is wrong, and although Mallory and Simon run to their father, he holds back.  Their father is actually Mulgarath, a shape shifting ogre.  With Mallory and Simon in his grasp, he changes to an ogre and confronts Jared.  Jared gets the ogre talking, while Thimbletack quietly wraps chains around Simon and Mallory, as well as Mulgarath.  Mulgarath gets angry and throws them out the two he has out the window.  The chains hold and they don't fall.  Jared uses Mallory's sword to stab Mulgarath in the foot, and then pushes him out the window, the chain tripping him.  He changes his form to an animal, but Jared has the sword, so he changes into a bird.  Luckily Hogsquel, the hobgoblin  is with them.  He loves to eat birds, and he is very fast.
Our series of books ends with Arthur Spiderwick meeting his daughter, who has missed him since the elves took him hostage many years ago.  He has not aged, but his daughter Lucinda is an old woman. Arthur understands, if he does not want to stay with the elves, he can just dismount from the horse he is on, and he will change to dust.  He chooses this end.
This book had plenty of action, but also a sentimental ending.  I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Movie Review: ****^Wild Hearts Can't be Broken (1991)

This is a Disney movie, and tells the true story of Sonora Webster Carver (Gabrielle ANwar).  It is a depression era movie, and Sonora was determined to make it to Atlantic City to make her future.  She manages to gain employment with Doc Carver (Cliff Robertson), first as a stable hand, and later as a diving girl.  Doc Carver,  a famous sharpshooter, and contemporary of Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill, had put together an act using diving horses with a young woman rider.  Unfortunately Doc passes away before they take the act to Atlantic City.  His son, and Sonora's future husband, takes over the show.  In this movie you have a young woman determined to be a  (Michael Schoeffling) success, and she learns how to mount a moving horse to be a diving girl.  What is even more dramatic is that after losing her eye sight to an accident where she went into the water face first with her eyes open, causing the detachment of her retinas, she continued to perform as a diving girl.  I discovered in real life she performed for eleven more years blind, and a total of 20 years.  In real life passed away only ten years ago at the age of 99.
The actress that portrays Sonora is Fionna on "Burn Notice."

Book Review: The Ironwood Tree: Spiderwick Chronicle (4)

This book starts with a fencing tourney, and Mallory doing very well, even better than the captain on whom she has a crush.  However, during the match, Jared seas someone going through Mallory’s bags.  This is the shape shifting ogre.  Jared tries to get down the stuff, but the coach chases him away as the area is only for participants.  The ogre then changes into him, and gets him in lots of trouble.  He confronts himself with a knife he has in his pocket.  As others come, the ogre transforms into a small child, and Jared is caught threatening a child with a knife.  He is expelled, and his mother feels this is his rebelling at her recent divorce from his father.  In the disciplining process, Mallory disappears.  The twins figure she has been taken underground by the dwarves, but are themselves taken prisoner, with Mallory in a glass coffin asleep like sleeping beauty.  They escape, and rescue Mallory, but are not sure of the way out.  The dwarves are making weapons for Mugarath, as well as iron trees which they hope to use when the take over the world.  A rock hearing creature helps them discover the way out.  As they emerge from the tunnels, they come upon Mulgarath with a prisoner.  The dwarves deliver their weapons to Mugarath, who double crosses them and orders the goblins to kill them, which they do.
This book is more convoluted that some of the others.  There is action, but the underground stuff is about too far out.  Getting back to the evil of Mugarath and the goblins at the end gets the story back on track.

Movie Review: ****^Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
This is a great continuation of the Harry Potter story.  This year Dumbledore is back at Hogwarts, and they have the task to figure out how to kill Voldemort.  Part of this plan is totally unexpected.  Dumbledore, is intent on discovering how they can defeat Dumbledore.  To do this he must review the memories of Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) (prior potions teacher who has agreed to come back to teach) with regards to a conversation with Tom Riddle (Voldemort).  This conversation had to do with Horcruxes, and how you could put your soul into a physical object, and thereby assure your own immortality.  This could be done by murdering someone.  They discover that Voldemort did this several times, and thus there are many Horcruxes around, which must be destroyed.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince:
Draco Malfoy also received a special mission from Voldemort, and Snape is brought into this agreement with a spell he cannot brake, to assist Draco.  Dumbledore and Harry meet regularly to review memories of Voldemort in the pensieve.  Harry Potter does very well in school thanks to a book owned by "The Half Blood Prince" which he has found.  This gives keys to making potions and casting curses.  
Dumbledore and Harry visit a cave, where they feel they will find a Horcrux.  This experience leaves Dumbledore in a weakened state, he had to drink a poison to get to the Horcrux, but they do discover what they think is the Horcrux.  As they get back to Hogwarts, Draco has let death eaters into the school.  He faces Dumbledore, but is not able to kill him, but Snape does kill him.
The last scene is Harry chasing Snape.  He uses a curse from the book, and Snape says, don't use my own curses on me.
I enjoy all the Harry Potter movies.  This movie is no exception.  There is plenty of action.  The movies keep getting a bit darker as we go along, and the murder of Dumbledore was not expected.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review: The Seeing Stone: Spiderwick Chronicles (2)

Spiderwick Chronicles: The Seeing Stone  This second book of five of the Grace children, Mallory and the twins, Simon and Jared, may have been better called “The Spit of the Hobgoblin” because the seeing stone is one way the see the faeries, but you have to look through the stone, after the hobgoblin spits in your eye you have the seeing power permanently. 
This second adventure has more action than the first.  Jared is warned to get rid of the field guide he found in the first book, but he doesn’t do so.  The knowledge contained in the book would give an unfair advantage to whoever possesses it.  Mugarath, a shape shifting ogre wants the guide.  He sends a group of goblins to get it.  The haul off Simon, after first having gotten his cat.  Mallory and Jared take after them, with only one seeing stone between them.  Mallory has her fencing sword, which isn’t very good weapon as the point is blunted.  The first run into a troll, and barely escape her by going around, the then come upon the scene of the goblins, with Simon and other animals hanging in cages, while they are roasting another cat over the fire.  Hogsqueal is also in a cage, our hobgoblin.  He helps the Grace children for his own freedom.  They get Simon out of the cage, and are headed for a freedom when the goblins notice them.  Only the hobgoblin distracting them by eating their dinner allows them to escape.  They then lead the goblins past the troll (who makes an agreement to let them pass for more meaty flesh coming after) who takes care of them.  They also rescue a griffin who had been injured by the goblins, and Simon takes it upon himself to nurse it back to health.

Book Review: Lucinda's Secret: Spiderwick (3)

Lucinda’s Secret.  In this book the Grace siblings visit their great-great aunt Lucinda.  They visit her as they are trying to decide what to do with the field guide.  Lucinda relates how her father Arthur Spiderwick disappeared.  He left with the field guide and just disappeared.  However she shares in the secret of the fairies.  The reason she is in the hospital is she only eats fairie food, which she prefers to regular food.  As a result of this visit, the children decide to visit the elves.  They had found a map of the vicinity which showed the elf area.  It seems Arthur Spiderwick was going to visit them the day he disappeared.  The children also discover that they have lost the field guide, apparently the house brownie, Thimbletack stole it and has hidden it.  The elves insist on getting the field guide, and say they are going to keep Simon until they bring it, while letting the others go.  However Jared plays a trick and trades places with Simon, so they have to let him go.  Something someone said makes Jared think Arthur Spiderwick is still alive and with the elves.

Musical Movie Review: ***Paint Your Wagon (1969)

This is not your blockbuster musical, but it does have its interesting parts.  This is an Lerner and Loewe musical (Alan Jay Lerner book and Frederick Loewe music).   Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood star as partners (Ben Rumson and Pardner) in the gold business, and then they take on a third partner, as Rumson buys a wife from a Mormon polygamist Jean Seberg as Elizabeth.  This is not a flattering portrayal of a Mormon polygamist but uses the stereotypic portrayal.  Eventual the partnership also become polygamous with two husbands and one wife.  This suits everyone until civilization comes to town, and Elizabeth wants a proper family.  Both men decide to leave, but when Pardner learns Rumson is leaving town, he stays.  Noted music includes “They Call the Wind Maria” and “I talk to the Trees.”  This show is cast as characters, not for singing ability.  However the saloon, Rotten Luck Willie (Harve Presnell)  who sings “Maria” does a good job.  Cast also includes Ray Walston as Mad Jack Duncan

Friday, February 21, 2014

Movie Review: ****Grapes of Wrath

This is the John Steinbeck classic.  This 1940 movie is John Ford directed and stars Henry Fonda as Tom Joad.  He returns to the family after four hears in prison for killing a man in  fight.  He finds everything different.  The land in Oklahoma has been bought by speculators, and the people put out by the banks.  California is where everyone is going to start over.  So Tom joins the family, and they take along a preacher, Casy (John Carradine).   Casy stays with the family, until he takes the blame for a fight at a camp, and is run out of town.  The family finds work picking peaches.  They are in fact breaking a strike.  Tom goes to check things out.  He finds Casy there, leading the strikers.  When the goons come out to chase away the camp, they go for Casy, as he talks a lot.  The kill him, and Tom retaliates by killing a goon.  He gets a hit on the face in the scuffle.  The family has to move on, or loss Tom.
Ma Joad (Jane Darwell)  is the strength of the family.  It is she who keeps them together.  As they family is moving on yet again at the end of the movie, she observes that women are steady, while men go in jerks.  By this she means women find strength in whatever circumstance, while men are dependent on their environment.
I really liked the characters of Tom, Ma, and Casy as presented in this film.  My only complaint is the ending is different than the book.  In the book there is a show of strength, that we take from Ma's words, but which we don't see in action the same way as the book.

TV Review: Doctor Who: The Green Death

This series is the last six episodes of season ten.  It features Jon Pertwee as the Doctor and Katy Manning as Jo Grant his companion.  At this time for whatever reason, the Doctor is working for UNIT.  This is a unit in England which is designed to deal with strange occurrences.  In this case there is a strange new disease, which infects  a coal miner which makes him shine green before he dies.  It is actually some kind of virus which takes over their DNA.  WE discover that there is a company Global Chemicals, which has been drilling and dumping their wast into the coal mines in the area. 
This ooze infects others, and also has created a nesting plant in which their are maggots, which also can infect people.  Global chemicals is very secretive, and eventually we learn that they in fact are controlled by a computer, which is effecting people's minds, sort of like hypnosis.  The computer is called B.O.S.S. Biomorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor.  Among other people he is controlling the president of Global Chemicals.  UNIT is put under their control, and consequently take steps to fight the maggots, which actually spread them.  They are going to metamorphose into dragon flies which will take the disease throughout the world.  There are three problems, defeating the larva, defeating the illness, and defeating the computer.  They have a friend in Dr. Clifford Jones, a sort of radical, who is developing a fungus to eat which will replace beef he hopes.  Because of an accident they discover the fungus, though good to people kills the illness, as well as the larva.  However the computer is set to launch an attack taking over worldwide computers.  This is averted when Mr. Wilson comes to his senses as the Doctor uses and anti hypnotic rock on him.  He sacrifices himself to cross the generators and blow the computer up.
This program has cheesy special effects, like many of the Doctor Who series.  But the story kept me entertained.  This was the last of Jo as a companion as she becomes engaged to Dr. Jones. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Movie Review: ****Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

This is a James Stewart movie.  It is very much like a "Perry Mason" which I noted began as a t.v. series in 1957.  Jimmy Stewart is at his best, and the movie is very entertaining.  There is a murder committed, and a person who knows that he did it, but claims temporary insanity based on his discovering that the victim had raped his wife.

Movie Review: ***The Lady Vanishes (1938)

***The Lady Vanishes 1938 is an old Alfred Hitchcock.  It's a  spy story, but you don't realize this until almost the end of the show.  What you do know is that a woman has vanished, and her new acquaintance is looking for her.  However everyone else on the train tells her there is no such person.  However, the young woman looking for her gains an ally, and together they not only avoid people after them, but also eventually figure out what is gong on.

Book Review: Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide (1)

This book is written by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi.
This is the first of five books in which we meet the Grace children, Mallory, and her younger twin brothers Simon and Jared.  They have recently moved to their great aunts abandoned house (she is in the mental health hospital).  They house is in disrepair, and has many creeping noises.  They figure one is a squirrel in the walls, and they discover its nest, which is strange but the pull it out and put it in the trash.  Turns out the nest is not that of a squirrel but that of a Boggart/ Brownie.  It changes back and forth based on its mood.  Of course with its next destroyed it is mad, and takes out its anger on the children, tying Mallory’s head to her bed, making a big mess in the kitchen.  In the meantime, Jared discovers a book, a field guide of faerie creatures.  Using the guide he decides they need to do something to appease the Boggart.  They find his house stuff, and offer him a new house with the stuff inside.  SO the book ends with the Brownie meeting our three siblings, and with a warning.  They are not to keep the book, the field guide.
These stories have lots of action and excitement.  And portends that more is to come.  I am not sure why the book is divided into five parts, other than to make more money.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

TV Review: Twilight Zone: Where Is Everybody? (1959)

The original Twilight Zone ran from 1959 to 1964.  For the most part it was short stories adapted by Rod Sterling to T.V.  The episodes do not carry over, but each is independent.  This is the first of the series, the first season.  Earl Holliman plays Mike Ferris.  However he in fact does not remember his name.  He wanders into a town with no people.  He mistakes a mannequin for a person, but there really are no people.  He looks for them, and finally breaks down as a result of being all alone.  We then cut back and see this has been an experiment in longevity in isolation in preparation for travel to the moon.  They realize they can take care of basic needs, food, air etc., but isolation is a problem to long  space journeys. 

Book Review: Bridge to Neverland (Star Catcher Series)

Bridge to Neverland.  This is the fifth in a series of books written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.  The fourth book concluded the adventure, however in this book we are introduced to new characters 100 years later.  Aidan, 15 and his sister, Sarah, 17 find a secret message in an old desk.  It has a clue telling where additional information can be had so they can find Magill’s stuff.  The family is on vacation in London, and while there the siblings follow up on the clues.  Magill was a Starcatcher in the original services of books.  The clue leads them to the Spanish Embassy, which 100 years ago was a hotel.  On the floor they find another piece of the clue, and then an adventure in a tunnel close to Bathe, and they find a golden box containing star stuff.  The wolves challenging them for the box make a pretty scary moment.
The only problem is their discovery excites the ravens, which turn out to be Ombra, the shadow catcher.  He is still weak, and for this reason his being is split between many ravens.  The ravens begin to attack Sarah and Aidan, but they make it out of London and back to their home, thinking everything is better now.  The ravens follow them, in the baggage compartment of the plane.  When their neighbor shows up, with blackened eyes and no shadow, they know they are in danger, and also leading their parents to danger, although their parents do not know what is going on.  They take off into the night, trying to keep others safe.  They don’t know what to do, and reach out over the internet for someone to help.  They are looking for Starcatchers.  They get a response, and head to New Jersey, Princeton.  J.D. is descended from Starcatchers, but doesn’t really believe in the stories.  However Aidan and Sarah convince him by making him fly with the star stuff. 
The police break in, taking J.D. for a kidnapper.  The kids all escape this time by making the police van fly, and then flying away themselves.  J.D. has Molly’s (Wendy’s) old journal, and they discover about the bridge to Neverland.  They head to Florida, where there is someone who may have worked on the bridge, with Albert Einstein.  Ombra continues to follow them, and every time they use the star stuff, he senses it and is on their trail.  They find the bridge, in Disney World, in the “Flight of Peter Pan” ride.  (One of my favorite looking down on everything.)  Aidan gets his shadow stolen, but Sarah and J.D. make it over the bridge to Neverland, where they are captured by Captain Hook, who confiscates their star stuff.  With this he is able to repel an attempts by Peter, to recapture the stuff.  Peter is captured, and tied up cruelly with a pending execution.  However Hook is enjoying the torture part too much to finish the job.   The Mollusks also fail as Hook flies the ship, using up most of the star stuff.  The Lost Boys come to the rescue, and Tinker Bell talk to Mr. Grin and forms an alliance.  They will lead him to Hook if he won’t eat them.  The descend on the pirate compound and send everyone running, especially Hook.  They recover what they need, and there is just enough to send them back over the bridge.    Peter comes with them to contend with Ombra
This is a fun read.  It is exciting and holds your interest.  Ombra is one of the most evil bad dudes in literature.  He is just evil.  Disney World is brought into the story which is fun.  Of course this book is from Disney Press.  It is also set up for more books to follow.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Movie Review: *** Skinwalkers

***Skinwalkers  2002 PBS.  This movie is available through Netflix DVD.  It is not one of the horror films with the same name.  It is based on the Tony Hillerman novel and is a crime show based on the Navajo Reservation.  As such there is spectacular scenery.  The story is quite intense, and there is a definite twist in terms of who is the killer in the end.  There is a detective, as well as an officer working with him, who is also in training to become a medicine man.  I really enjoyed this show, and the look at the Navajo culture, which is part of the theme of the show.  How close the different officers are to their cultures, as well as the wife of the detective, makes for an interesting story.  Also part of the theme is medicine men vs. traditional medicine.

Movie Review: ***^ Peter Pan 2003

  This movie follows the story of Peter Pan quite well, but puts a bit darker spin on it.  This spin is accomplished by the characters being a bit rougher, and meaner than the characters in other versions of Peter Pan.  It also plays on the idea of believing leading to being able to over come.  There is a scene where Peter loses his faith that Wendy likes him and believes in him, and consequently he begins to loss his battle with Captain Hook.  However Wendy is able to get the message to him that she does believe in him, and things turn out OK.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Music DVD: Neil Diamond Greatest Hits Live (2002)

This Neil Diamond has many oldies and goodies,  but then also many songs I am unfamiliar with.  He starts with America which he sang for "Jazz Singer." He then goes more mellow with September Morn.  Some of Diamond's classics come through, "Sweet Caroline," "I Am I Said" and "Cherry, Cherry."  These always please.  He does a duet with his female backup vocalist, and his voice overwhelms hers.  "Forever in Bluejeans" which was co written by himself and his guitar player is a crowd favorite.  He pays tribute to John Lennon with a medley of Beatles songs.  Over all this concert is very nice, and very realistic.  You can see sweat rolling of Diamond's face, letting you know he doesn't hold anything back. This video shows Diamond at his best.  There are a few other songs I would like to hear, but you can't have everything.
There is a bonus music video at the end, "This Time."  It is very nice:

"This Time"

If there was time enough for me
To do it all, again
I promise you, that I would find
A way to make it right,
This time

This time I'd love you even more
I never thought, I could
But now I know, that I would find
A way to make it right
This time

Over again, I closed my eyes,
And I keep reliving it over again
It's over but then
I've got my dream
Don't no one dare tell me no

And you'd be mine this time for sure
Only got to show I care the way I do
And I'd be there this time for you.

If there was time enough to say
The things I feel inside
I promise you, I'd find a way
A way to say them right
This time

Over again, I closed my eyes
And I keep reliving it
Over again
It's over but then
I've got my dream
Don't no one dare tell me no

And I'll be there this time for sure
'Cause I'm not the same man
That I was before
And I'm nothing at all
If I'm not yours
I only got to show I care the way I do
And I'll be there this time for you
Yes, I'll be there this time for you

Tv Review: Horton Hatches an Egg (1942)

This animated Dr. Seuss feature is a little different, because it was animated by Hannah Barbera.  However it tells the story very well.  Horton is finagled into watching the egg of the lazy bird Maisie.  Horton takes over the job, and sits and sits, 51 weeks "Because he said what he meant and meant what he said and an elephant's faithful 100 percent."  He was faithful when his friends teased him, when the hunters approached and when they took him to the zoo.  Maisie spends the weeks sunning herself in Palm Beach.  Maisie shows up just before the egg hatches, and wants the egg back now the work is done.  SO she takes it, but then it hatches; an elephant bird.
This is a cute show, and those who do the work should receive the rewards.

TV Review: Daisy Head Mayzie (1995)

This is an animated version of Dr Seuss' last book.  Dr. Seuss wrote the book, but it was illustrated after his death.  This short portrays a young girl, Mayzie, who has a daisy grow right out of her head.  AT first she is an object of scorn, even the mayor getting in the act saying the daisy must go.  But then an agent steps forward, and renames the daisy a talent, and signs her to a contract, over the objection of her parents.  She is intent on being famous and having fun.  She has her fun, and gets her money, but they don't buy her happiness, so she goes home where she is loved.
It is sad we cannot have our money and fun and our family and happiness too.

TV Review: The Butter Battle Book (1989)

This is a Dr. Seuss animated TV special, which depicts in a real sense Dr. Seuss' ideas about the cold war.  I wonder if the production of this movie, a couple years before the "iron curtain" came down could have been an observation, or a reason why this wall cam down.
This movie shows two countries, divided by their preference for how the butter their bread, who engage in warfare of ever and ever bigger weapons, until they reach the ultimate point, everyone goes underground, while two face each other with "atomic" bombs which will destroy everything.
This movie gives Dr. Seuss a voice in political issues which he saw around him.

Movie Review: Horton Hears a Who (1970)

This is an animated short made for TV of the classic Dr. Seuss tale.  It is very cute, and does a very good job portraying Horton, who rescues a world on a speck of dust, "Because a person's a person no matter how small."  The music is mostly forgettable, but the story is not.  This is the account of Horton defending the world speck of dust eon a clover despite opposition.  The kangaroos don't hear, don't see and don't believe in the Who's, and the monkeys steal the clover, give it to the eagle to dispose of, and he does in a field of many clover.  Horton meticulously checks out each clover (a drawback is destruction of all the clover) until he finds them again.  However this time, Horton is caged, and the Who's are set to be put in burning oil.  They have to heard, so we learn every voice in a community is important, as they are able to get through "We are hear" is heard by the world.  I like themes,
every voice is important, and every person is important.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Movie Review: Snow Queen (2012)

This is an animated version of the story written by Hans Christian Anderson. This is a Russian made movie.
Gerta, her ferret, and a troll take off to save Gerta's brother and the world from never ending winter.  Upon her journey she meets a gardener with a special power, but Gerta gives smell to her flowers so she tries to compel her to stay, a group of pirates, who see the advantage of having the oceans thawed so let her go, and a flower lady who reminds her she is never alone.  When she faces the snow queens wrath, it is the memory of her brother, and her parents that keep her heart from freezing, and allows her to see the snow queen as she truly is, a little girl, Irma, who let anger freeze her heart. 

Music Review: Peter Noone in Concert with the Chambers Brothers (2005)

This is a very good concert, when it has Peter Noone singing Herman Hermit's songs.  There are some songs there that I could hear over and over, "Mrs. Brown You've got a Lovely Daughter" with the thick British accent is just cool.  As are the songs "There's a Kind of Hush" and "I'm into Something Good."  He also sang "Listen, People" by I am not sure if that is a Hermit's song or not.  The part of this DVD which is better left off is the Chamber's Brothers.  The style is totally different, and too hard for my taste. 

Book Review: Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie's Song

This is the start of a new trilogy exploring the world of faeries written by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.  This book introduces the human characters Nick and his stepsister Jules who live in Florida.  Jules has read the Spiderwick books, and believes in faeries.  She forces her new brother to tag along with her to explore the woods for faeries.  She sends Nick on a hunt for a four-leaf clover.  He finds one, and with it in his possession he sees a Nixie, near death.  He rescues the Nixie, when he should have come in for dinner and is grounded from electronics.  However the Nixie is appreciative and gives Nick and Jules the ability to see faeries.
With this new found ability the Nixie send them on a mission to look for her sisters.  They were separated due to the construction of a new housing development managed by their father.  They find three of the Nixies, dead; and inadvertently find a giant.  The giant can breath fire if it eats a salamander.  This is what apparently happened to the Nixies.  The giant takes after them, and they lead it home where the song of the Nixie seems to but it in a trance.  The problem is the Nixie has to keep singing, without sleep as they figure out what to do.
They visit the authors at a book signing, who do not believe them.  However Jared, from Spiderwick Chronicles is there, and believes them enough to help.  He finds some of his father's letter to a gentleman who lives close to them in Florida.  They visit his shack, and discover some papers which show how to stop a giant.  While the giant is still in a trance, they are able to tie it up.  However they are horrified when they realize the trap is killing the giant.  The book ends with another character, Noseeum Jack, whose papers they stole.  Noseeum ends the giants life, and thinks he has recruited helpers to overcome the giants.  The giants are waking up after a 500 year hibernation.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Musical Movie Review: ****^ Love Never Dies (2012)

I watched this through Netflix DVD.  It is a 2012 production.
Love Never Dies is the continuation of Phantom of the Opera.  It is an Andrew Lloyd Webber production.
There are a couple of songs that stand out, and summarize the musical.  The Phantom fled Paris to Coney Island in New York.  Ten years later he gets Christine Daae to follow.  She brings her husband and ten year old son.  In the second song, "Love Never Dies" is the hint of the ending.

Look With Your Heart by Love Never Dies Cast
Love's a curious thing, it often comes disguised
Look at love the wrong way, it goes unrecognized

So look with your heart, and not with your eyes
The heart understands, the heart never lies
Believe what it feels, and trust what it shows
Look with your heart, the heart always knows
Love is not always beautiful, not at the start

So open your arms, and close your eyes tight
Look with your heart, and when it finds love, your heart will be right

Learn from someone who knows, make sure you don't forget
Love you misunderstand is love that you'll regret

Look with your heart, and not with your eyes
The heart can't be fooled

The heart is too wise

Forget what you think

Ignore what you hear

[Christine and Gustave]
Look with your heart, it always sees clear

Love is not always beautiful, not at the start

But open your arms, and close your eyes tight
Look with your heart, and when it finds love, your heart will be right

Love Never Dies by Love Never Dies Cast
Who knows when love begins, who knows what makes it start
One day it's simply there, a life inside your heart
It slips into your thoughts, it infiltrates your soul
It takes you by surprise, then seizes full control
Try to deny it and try to protest
But love won't let you go, once you've been possessed

Love never dies, love never falters
Once it has spoken, love is yours
Love never fails, love never alters
Hearts may get broken, love endures
Hearts may get broken, love endures

And soon as you submit, surrender flesh and bone
That love takes on a life much bigger than your own
It uses you at whim, and drives you to despair
And forces you to feel more joy than you can bear
Love gives you pleasure and love brings you pain
And yet, when both are gone, love will still remain

Once it has spoken, love is yours
Love never dies, love never alters
Hearts may get broken, love endures
Hearts may get broken...

Love never dies, love will continue
Love keeps on beating, when you're gone
Love never dies, once it is in you
Life may be fleeting, love lives on
Life may be fleeting
Love lives on

Movie Review: ***^Man of the West (1958)

What happens when a reformed outlaw is forced to meet his old gang due to circumstances.  That is the plot of this movie.  Gary Cooper plays Link Jones, who was an outlaw, but left the visit and ran away four or five days to the west to get away from the killing and the lifestyle.  He has started a family, and become a farmer, and left his old life behind.  He is chosen to take money collected by the community, to go east and hire a school teacher.
He is making his way, but the train is robbed at the rewatering station.  In a rush to get away Link is left behind, with two other passengers, and the money is stolen.  Billie Ellis (Julie London) and Sam Beasley (Arthur O'Connell) are also stranded, and impose on Link to keep them safe.  It is a week before another train comes by.  Link goes to his old hideout, where he discovers the old gang, who also took his money and guns.  The old gang leader, Dock Tobin (Lee Cobb) recognizes him, and takes him back in the gang to the chagrin of other members.  He has a feud with Coaley (Jack Lord) after he attempts to make the woman disrobe.  This lead to a classic Western fight later in the movie, in which Beasley takes a bullet for link, and Tobin kills Coaley.  The climax is an attempted robbery of a bank, which turns out to be a ghost town with no money.  The bottom line is Link returns to killing, killing the members of the gang, as the members other than Dock were intent on killing him.
I especially like Dock's character.  He is the old man who is going senile, and is a little crazy.  He is also the tough guy who shows off his own strength, and maintains his leadership in the gang.  He is the uncle of Link, and a couple other cousins are in the gang.  This is a movie worth watching.  Negatives include the smoking of cigarettes, fighting and gun play--western violence.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Movie Review: **** National Treasure (2004)

National Treasure           
This is a very exciting ride, and it includes enough intellectual history trivia to peak my interest.  This movie features Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) and Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) trying to find a great national treasure which was hid by the Masons about the time of the Revolutionary War.  The Gates family has been searching for the treasure for several generations, all with the clue that it has something to do with the Columbia.  And so we see Gage and Poole in the Arctic, where they find an old ship, in which they find what looks like a pipe.  They are double crossed by the financier, Ian Howe (Sean Bean) for their venture and left for dead in the Arctic.  However they make it back  The clues they found in the ship leads them to look at the Declaration of Independence, so they can expose a secret map on the back of the document.  Both groups, Howe and his henchmen, and Gage (Gage to keep it from Howe) decide to steal the document to continue hunting for the treasure.  In doing this, they meet Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) who works for the National Archives.  The stealing of the document is very exciting, and bits both groups against each other.  The FBI is now on their trail, so they turn to their Gage’s father (Jon Voight) for help.  He does not believe in the quest, but he has some old letters they need to.  They find writing on the back, a series of codes, but need more information, so they are off to Philadelphia where they are still pursued by Howe.  They find some glasses to help with the deciphering of the script on the back of the Declaration of Independence, while Howe gets the actual document from them.  Gage is arrested by the FBI, but to get the Declaration he is allowed to meet Howe.
This journey is one good ride.  I especially like the action and they little bits of knowledge which are thrown in as part of the clues they find.  Very fun

Movie Review: ****^Somewhere in Time (1980)

This is one of the best romantic dramas I have ever seen.  This has a classic love story, the only problem being that our lovers are a couple generations apart.  Richard (Christopher Reeve) is a play write.  On the evening of his big opening, an older woman, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour) meets him saying, "Come back to me." 
Eight years later he is a bit despondent about life, and takes a trip to the Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Lake Michigan.  There he becomes enraptured with an old painting of an actress.  He studies this and realizes it is the same person who visited him.  He visits an old professor who believes in time travel.  He says the clue is to immerse yourself in the other time, and blocking out of your own time, and then using self hypnosis, it is possible. 
He tries this the first time, and fails.  He then looks at the old register books, and finds his own name, so he knows he will eventually succeed.  So he tries again, and wakes up in 1912.  He at first doesn't find the actress, but eventually he does.  It is with difficulty that they are able to go for a work.  McKenna's manager does everything in his power to keep them apart.  Richard attends the performance, and McKenna goes off script, and recites a love invitation to Richard.  At intermission they agree to meet, but the manager abducts Richard and leaves him tied up in the stables.  He is not able to get away until the next day, and discovers the acting company has left.  However she has left the company, and finds him for a day of bliss. 
All can not end happily which such a match.  A penny is the cuprit, a penny from 1979, not 1912.
This movie has a sad ending, as Richard starves himself to death so he can be with his love.  He does accomplish this.  Love or mental illness.  I am sure people called it illness, but it works as they meet in the after life in the last scene.
This love story is fantastic, and the resistance of the manager only makes the story more beautiful.  However the self starvation is a bit disturbing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book Review: A War of Gifts: An Ender Story Orson Scott Card

This is a very interesting story involving some of the other students at Battle School, but also Ender.  Zeck is a child, who has exceptional learning ability, but is a pacifist.  This is based on his father, who is a preacher, and has taught that war is of the devil.  However his father also abused him, leaving scars on his back.  Zeck goes to school, but never hits anyone with his weapon in the games.  Any display of religion is forbidden at Battle School, and those who have religious believes are exempted from the need to pray or other religious displays.  Zeck is against anything pagan, and when he observes other students giving Sinterklaas gifts, he reports them.  The students are disciplined and instigate a minor rebellion, giving gifts in stockings representing Santa Claus gifts.  Zeck’s father taught that Santa was another word for Satan.  He complains, but is unable to get anyone to pay attention to his complaints.  So he goes to the Islamic students, and suggests if Santa gifts are OK, daily prayers should also be OK.  This gets the students (and staff who join in) in trouble, and a feeling that things are unfair.  Ender points out that this may lead to future conflicts in the future back on Earth.  As Zeck initiated this problem, he is blamed and ostracized.  He begins to feel worse and worse.  Dink, who was the one who started the gift giving rebellion, feels bad for Zeck, and tries to intervene, but Colonel Graff knows that Ender will deal with the situation. 
The climax of Ender getting to the bottom of Zeck’s problems, and getting back to a place where they can exist together.  Dink also plays a part, and things get back to “normal” Battle School.
This book was enjoyable.  It showed people in a different light, as well as battle School, and dealt with different cultural and religious views in a very enjoyable manner.  It is good to have a book with religion as a central part of the plot, and what to do when you have people form varied backgrounds working together.

***Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon

Transformers have not been my favorite series.   Transformer movies seem too loud and too violent for my taste.  However this movie is as good as any of the others.  It has another Decepticon who crashed into the moon many years ago, and thus the name of the movie.  However, the fighting again takes place on earth.  This time is just as desperate as the others.  Somehow they are going to transport their home planet, destroying earth.  This movie doesn't add much to the series, except we get to see Optimus Prime rip out the spinal columns of his enemies, in the end.  Up until then it is pretty touch and go.  Also, without the humans, and without the Autobots working together, all would have been lost.  At one point the humans send the Autobots away, thinking they are the problem.  I think this movie is as good as the first, and better than the second Transformers.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Movie Summary: Romances: Valentines Day

Valentines Day Romance

*****^Pride and Prejudice, TV miniseries
***** Pride and Prejudice (four versions)
****^ Somewhere in Time (1980) Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour
****^ Sleepless in Seattle
****^ While You Were Sleeping (Sandra Bullock)
****^ Tangled Disney
**** Sabrina (1954) Audrey Hepburn and Humphry Bogart
**** Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969) Peter O'Toole and Petula Clark
****Tammy and the Bachelor (Debbie Reynolds)
****I Walk the Line (2005) Johnny Cash and June Carter (Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon)
**** War and Peace  (1956) Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda
**** Love Story
***^ Cannery Row (1982) John Steinbeck

Monday, February 10, 2014

Music Review: Oscar Hammerstein: The Legacy

Oscar Hammerstein was a prolific lyricist, and wrote with many composers.  This included George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and of course Richard Rodgers.  This anthology of music includes all of these composers.  The music is presented from State Fair, Show Boat, Carousel, South Pacific, and Oklahoma.  The different presentations are from the musicals (which I like best) as well as jazz, big band and solo versions of popular artists.  For example, Frank Sinatra singing "Some Enchanted Evening" was nice, but lacked the energy of the song.  However Sinatra's "Ol' Man River" was very nice.  There are also some original artists, including Mary Martin as Juanita Hall singing "Happy Talk" and "Bali Hai" Mary Martin singing "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy." This collection concludes with Judy Garland singing "You'll Never Walk Alone."  This is a showstopper. 

Book Review: The Last Battle: Narnia 7

The Last Battle:
This is a bitter sweet book, because it is the last, and I am going to miss the characters.  This book presents the last king of Narnia, Tirian, 200 years after the last book, The Silver Chair.  There is a rumor that Aslan has returned, but in fact a monkey has manipulated a donkey to put on a lion’s fur, and then they use him to give the allusion of Aslan’s return.  The monkey then uses his power as the spokesperson for Aslan, to get people to chop down talking trees, and work for the evil country over the mountain the Calormenes.  In fact the Calormenes have plans to conquer Narnia, which they have been trying to do for many years.
Tirian and his unicorn friend try to stop the destruction of the trees, and torture of horses, and find themselves captured.  Tirian asks for help, and Eustace and Jill from the last book show up to help him.  They are able to help him gain his freedom, and then join him in a battle against the Calormenes.  They have also stolen the donkey, and want to expose the fraud, but the ape is quicker, and says a donkey dressed like a lion is trying to convince people Aslan has not returned.  Tash who is the god of the Calormenes has returned, and is in the tent where Aslan was previously.  There is a great battle.  People get thrown into the tent and Tash takes care of them.  Tirian and the leader of the Calormenes go into the tent, and Tash takes up the Calormene leader.  Peter, Lucy, Edmond, Digory and Polly, the other previous visitors to Narnia from England are there, and Peter orders Tash to take his, and leave.  He leaves with the leader of the Calormenes under his arm.
They discover a doorway in the tent, which lead to a beautiful kingdom.  They take this door, and find Aslan, and many old friends and kings.  Turns out, all of those involved in Narnia over the years were at a train station, and there was an accident and they all died.  All except Susan, who had put off the memories of Narnia.  This movie is great fun.  The Prevensies also discover their own parents who were also killed in the same train accident.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Movie Review: ***^The Sword in the Stone (1963)

This movie I remember from my childhood.  I was enchanted with swords play, and the idea that anybody could become king, even a runt.  this is a Disney film, but not one of their best.  The wizard Merlin turning Arthur as a boy into a different selection of animals so he could learn empathy was sort of dull in the end.  However the attitude of the older brothers to Arthur was interesting, with the older brothers thinking less of him because of his scrawny stature.  However, in the end, the runt rules them all.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

TV Review: Doctor Who: Infinite Quest (2007)

This animated version of Doctor Who features David Tennant voicing the Doctor and Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones.  They travel together solving cases, and this one is difficult.  I starts with the Doctor thwarting Baltazar (Anthony Head) in his desire to destroy the Earth and turn the life forces in diamonds.  After this event, he swears revenge on the Doctor, and eventually escapes prison intent on this.  He has learned of the Infinite Ship from jail mates, and plans to find it as it grants "your hearts desire."  Their efforts to catch up with Baltazar takes them to several different plants, and eventually to the jail where the Doctor is imprisoned, as the warden has been replaced by inmates and everything is upside down.  The Doctor is abandoned on the planet, with Martha Jones hostage to help find the ship.  They eventually find it, but the Doctor arrives after repairing Baltazar's flying robot and coming to the rescue.  The Infinite Quest turns out just to be another kind of prison.
This was entertaining, but I still am not sure if I am a fan of the animated version of Doctor Who.  But I do like the voices of Tennant and Agyeman.

Movie Review: ***Spaceballs

This is one of Mel Brooks' best movies.  Spaceballs is a parody of Star Wars, and all movies in the science fiction genre, as it gets a bit at most of them, Planet of the Apes (the statue of liberty in the sand), Alien (a baby being born from a man's stomach), and Star Trek (Lone Star using the Vulcan shoulder squeeze).  It hits most of the time, and a couple places misses.  The Schwartz idea is funny, but goes over board when they hold their life savers in front of their crotches.  The spaceship turning into a maid with a vacuum is totally classic.  This movie has tons of, Mel Brooks plays Yogurt, as well as as President Skroob, our villain.  Rick Moranis is Dark Helmet, a miniature Vader.  John Candy plays Barf, a half man half dog character.  Bill Pullman is Lone Star, Daphne Zuniga the princess (who has to marry a prince, and luckily Lone Star discovers he is one).  Dick Van Patton is the king, and George Wyner is Colonel Sandurz.  Quote classics:
Yogurt: Use the Schwartz, Lone Starr! Use the Schwartz!
Lone Starr: I can't - I lost the ring!
Yogurt: Forget the ring! The ring is bubkis! I found it in a Cracker Jack box!

Self-Destruct Voice: This ship will self-destruct in twenty seconds. This is your last chance to push the cancellation button.
President Skroob: Cancellation button? HURRY!

Colonel Sandurz: Sir hadn't you better buckle up?
Dark Helmet: Ah, buckle this! LUDICROUS SPEED! *GO!*

Barf: I'm a mog: half man, half dog. I'm my own best friend!

Dark Helmet: Before you die there is something you should know about us, Lone Star.
Lone Starr: What?
Dark Helmet: I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate.
Lone Starr: What's that make us?
Dark Helmet: Absolutely nothing! Which is what you are about to become.

Dark Helmet: What's the matter, Colonel Sandurz? CHICKEN? 

This movie has its moments, but a pit crude for my taste.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Movie Review: ****The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Michael Caine stars as Scrooge in this version of Muppet Christmas Carol in which most of the characters are Muppets, and even the vegetables sing.  This is a very enjoyable version.  Rizzo and Gonzo (as Charles Dickens) narrate, Piggy and Kermit are the Cratchits, and the grouchy old men are Marley and Marley.  There are several enjoyable songs, but the song on the theme of "God Bless Us Everyone" is my favorite:
Bless Us All

Life is full of sweet surprises, every day's a gift
The sun comes up and I can feel it lift my sprit
It fills me up with laughter, it fills me up with song
I look into the eyes of love and know that I belong
Bless us all, who gather here
The loving family I hold dear
No place on Earth, compares with home
And every path will bring me back from where I roam
Bless us all, that as we live
We always comfort and forgive
We have so much that we can share
With those in need we see around us everywhere
Let us always love each other
Lead us toward the light
Let us hear the voice of reason
Singing in the night
Let us run from anger
And catch when we fall
Teach us in our dreams and please, yes, please
Bless us one and all

Bless us all with playful years
With noisy games and joyous tears
We reach for you, and we stand tall
And in our prayers and dreams we ask you bless us all
We reach for you, and we stand tall
And in our prayers and dreams we ask you bless us all
I enjoyed this movie and it is one of my favorite.  Of course the best scene is the next morning, and they do a very good job with this.  James Caan is very good as Scrooge.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Movie Review: ***The Face on the Milk Carton: A Bad Adoption Story

Made for t.v. movie (1995) based on the book by Janie Johnson.  My kids use to have the book.  This movie is about how everything is done wrong in an adoption.  Two parents accept their daughter's story of her having a daughter and escaping a cult.  The grandparents take her in as their own, and move, fearing the cult might come after them.  They keep everything secret, and as far as the girl knows they are her parents.  Until she sees her face on a milk carton.  Her face as she was at age three, in a polka dot dress.  She slowly comes to realize that her initial hunches are true, something is not right about the story she has been told.  There are no pictures of her as a baby, there is no birth certificate, she finds Hannah's things in the attic.  She finally confronts her parents, and is told the story about the cult.

However she still cannot let the story go.  She secretly visits the family of the girl on the milk carton, and finds her birth family, not a cult.  She doesn't want to go back with them, but wants to relieve their worry, and writes them a letter, but decides not to mail it.  However she loses the letter, and it gets mailed and contact the other family.

Through court proceeding she returns to live with strangers, her birth family.  This is a struggle.  She is homesick.  She misses her boyfriend; she misses her parents.  The true story comes out, Hannah kidnapped her.  Her parents, as far as we know, did not know; but accepted their daughter's story.

It is a struggle.  Jen's siblings, some of them, are slow to accept her.  She slowly makes adjustments, and bit by bit, the two families begin to tolerate each other.

This is how adoption should never be.  Something based on lies is like a house of cards.  It is sure to tumble.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Movie Review: ****^Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This movie is made perfect by the appearance of Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) who is the "teacher" of the dark arts.  Actually she is a plant of the ministry who is to keep an eye on Hogwarts, and make sure that news of Voldemort's return is considered to be nothing more than a lie.  Because they are not able to really learn at school, they set up a special class, Dumbledore's Army, and hold class in the room of requirements.  This organization mirrors the Order of the Phoenix, an organization among the adult wizard world which is set up to protect against Voldemort.  In the meantime Hagrid has been among the giants, and shares a half brother who he has brought back with him, and who is living in the wood.  This half brother is a full blood giant, and more wild.  When Umbridge breaks up the gang, and discovers their name, Dumbledore is forced out of the school, but instead of going quietly, he flies off with the help of his phoenix.  However the school is left unprotected, in Umbridge's care.  Voldemort uses an ability to invade Harry's mind, and lets him know that Sirius in danger (this is not true, but a vision put in Harry's brain by Voldemort.)  Umbridge intervenes before they are able to go to the rescue.  She is intent on breaking the group and incriminating Dumbledore.  For this reason Hermione is able to lead her on a wild goose chase, where the giant and the centaurs are able to take care of Umbridge.
The group takes off to the rescue, and find themselves in the ministry, where prophecies are kept.  Voldemort is intent on having the Harry Potter prophesy.  Harry is able to recover this, but as it is a trap, death eaters are waiting for them.  The Order of the Phoenix comes to the rescue, but in the struggle Sirius dies.  Also in the struggle Dumbledore battles Voldemort in the Ministry, and his existence can no longer be denied. 
This movie keeps up the tension of the series.  It is very well done.  It continues the fight of good against evil. 

Book Review: The Silver Chair: Narnia 6

This is another adventure Narnia novel written by C.S. Lewis and published in 1953.  In this adventure we again see Eustace Scrubb, who enters Narnia with a school friend, Jill Pole.  They enter into Aslan's country, and Aslan wanted to talk to them both, but Jill accidentally pushes Eustace off a cliff.  Aslan saves him with his breath, then explains the mission to Jill, and sends her off with his breath as well.  They arrive in Narnia just as King Caspian is leaving.  Eustace is to talk with someone he knows, but doesn't recognize the older king, so the miss him.  However they go off in search of the King's son, who was taken prisoner ten years earlier, as he was trying to find the murderer of his mother.
This is a high adventure with many adventures.  They are joined on this adventure by Puddleglum, who is a Marsh-wiggle.  He is the practical member of the team.  They run into giants in their journeys, as they are looking for an ancient city.  They are scheduled for the dinner of the giants, but when they realize they are the meal, not the guests, they are able to make their escape.  They then find tunnels under the ground, which lead to the lower regions.  They find a prince, who is under the control of a green witch.  However the green witch is away.  The prince loves the witch and honors her, and says he is soon to be made king of the surface people as they are planning an invasion force.  A strange thing happens nightly, with the prince saying he goes wild.  The travelers want to watch, and in doing so find an interesting mystery.  This is the prince they are seeking, and nightly he is lucid for one hour, during which time he is strapped to a silver chair, which keeps the enchantment going.  The travelers are convinced to untie him, and free him.  However before they can make their escape, the green witch returns, and proceeds to charm our friends with with a vapor on the fire and a harp.  She would have succeeded, convincing the others that there was no Narnia, and no Aslan, only the underworld which she controlled.  She would have succeeded except for Puddlglum stepping on the fire, putting out some of the fire, mixing the smell of his flesh with the vapors, which destroys the charm.  She sees the battle is up, and turns into a snake and strikes at Prince Rilia, who is just auick enough to catch her by the neck.  Her bite is poison, which is what killed Rilian's mother.  He manages to get his sword up to strike her, as do Eustace and Puddleglum.  Between them the manage to cut off her head.  Turns out she had all her people charmed, which charm is broken.
This movie brings back to excitement of the Narnia series and is very entertaining. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Music Review: **Monty Python's Spamelot, original cast recording

I was very much enjoying this CD until the end.  The music was actually funny.  Looking at the picture of the cast in the enclosed pamphlet was enough to make one laugh.  I especially enjoyed “The song that goes like this.”  It was clever in its parody of the musical genre.  I liked the reaction of the singers after they did the habitual key change. "I should have stayed in D"  Funny. I also liked how the song went from “the song that goes like this” to “the song that goes too long.”  It was very clever.
Lady of the Lake and the “Laker Girls” was very fun.  More for me because I HATE THE LAKERS.  Every year they do in the Jazz, and they get every call, and it’s a travesty for the game, and yes, as the ref that was caught cheating indicated, there is a bias for the Lakers coming down from the front office.  Any way, I wish the parody had been for the team and not the cheerleaders (I have a friend whose daughter was a Laker Girl.)  At least I get some satisfaction.  I would have much rather seen Kobe Bryant stuffed however.
The Lady of the Lake, Sara Ramirez, was very good and very enjoyable.  Her reaction to being off stage for too long, when she is the “Diva’ is humorous. “What ever happened to my Part” continues with the parody of musical theater that makes this CD fun.  That the “grail” is King Arthur proposing to her is amusing.  Off course there is a big wedding scene.
However there were a couple parts of this CD that made it offensive; although the word they use is “controversial.”  One is a story that indicates for a show to make it on Broadway it must include “Jews.”  That went a bit far for me.  The other is that Lancelot is gay and takes a lover, Herbert.  Now that goes way beyond being entertaining.  These too parts could have been left out, and the show had been more enjoyable as a result.  
So in the end, in an effort to try to get the misery right (be politically correct) the destroyed their story and is was just gobblety-gook.  I  guess that is what Monty Python is known for.

Movie Review: ****Stomp: Stomp the Yard (1997)

This is an HBO special of a different flavor.  It starts with six people with a constructed wall made of iron bars.  The are strapped along the wall with some mobility, and they swing back and for and play percussion on the items they have connected to this wall.  These items include pipes, wheel hubs, sinks, any old thing.  It is quite hypnotic to listen to the rhythm and see them swinging back and forth as they play.  We next see them in their truck heading to a big garage.  In the truck they play against the ceiling and the dash and using the horn.  They then get to the warehouse, where they do three numbers using brooms and tap.  On broom broke so you know it was recorded live.  There is a shop where a group of people playing cards.  They make rhythm with with their cards, and mouth noises.   It cuts back to them later, and we have a rhythmic lunch with the sound of apples being eaten.  Then there is a basketball rhythm which is cool, and then to the kitchen.  The banging on the kettles along with the chopping knives make this rhythm.  Then the go down to the sewer, and people are in the sewer with pipes, and combine the sound of the pipes, with a sheath over the pipes which when slip up and down makes a cool sound.  I think I liked this best. 
It starts to rain, so we have a song with with kettle drums making the sound of the thunder with a steady rain coming down.  We have a song with the rhythm of clapping.  Finally we get to the climax son, the trash can banging song with the lids being banged like cymbals, and sometimes slid along the floor, trash cans being played with drum sticks and then hit against each other.  And then big kettle drums being swung two at a time as someone walks an plays them, and some upside down that sounded like mamba drums.
This show goes fast, with no stops.  Fifty minutes strait of percussion can be a bit much.  However they keep it interesting with the dance going along with the percussion.  There are people sliding, dancing with brooms, swinging, jumping, throwing objects to each other.  It made for an entertaining show.

Movie Review: ***^Man in the Iron Mask

This movie is very enjoyable.  It stars Lenonardo DiCaprio in a dual role as King Louis and his twin brother, Prince Phillip.  The pretest of this movie, is that Prince Phillip has been hidden since birth, as there can only be on heir.  When King Louis is crowned  , he has his brother imprisoned, with an iron mask over his face, so no one can see his face and see that he looks like the king.  He is never told why he is imprisoned.  He does not know he is the king's brother.

And there enter the musketeers.  They have been given a much smaller role, and in fact are mostly on the outside looking in, except for D'artagnan who is captain of the guard.  He is also a secret lover of the queen.  King Louis betrays the son of Athos, (John Malkovich) sending him to the front lines where he will be sure to die in war.  He does this, so he can have his fiance, as he uses many women.  Porthos, who needs adventure, and Aramis, who leads the rebellion determine to bring down the king.  Aranis is privy to information about Prince  Phillip, and the steal him from jail.  They hope to replace the king  with the prince.  However, can they teach him to be regal in just a few weeks, the time they have before a masquerade ball, when they hope to make the switch.

This movie is suspenseful and intriguing.  Malkovich is always good, and as the father who loses his son does a good job.  There is some sexual inuendo, and the King seems to be often in bed with different women.  I would recommend this movie, and will probably view it again.