Saturday, August 27, 2016

Movie Review: ***^Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)

This movie has a way of putting things in perspective.  It makes a point at the beginning that Continental Drift was caused by the squirrel and his nut.  It is really pretty cute the way they start with a big view of the things going on, and then get to the specifics with the mammoth family, his saber tiger friend and the sloth.  These three, along with the sloth's grandmother, are set adrift on an iceberg in the ocean.  They are headed for adventure as the meet up with a pirate ship, captained by a cranky monkey with sharp claws.  This movie is about fatherhood, and finding romance in unusual places.  It is also again about loyalty, and being loyal to the right thing.
Ray Romano as Manny (The Mammoth)
John Leguizamo as Sid, the sloth
Denis Leary as Diego, the saber tooth
Peter Dinklage as Captain Gutt, the cranky monkey
Wanda Sykes as Granny
Jennifer Lopez as Shira, the saber tooth female
Queen Latifah as Elie, Manny's wife
Keke Palmer as Peaches, Manny and Ellie's daughter

Picture Book Review: The Berenstain Bears Go Up and Down

The Berenstain Bears Go Up and Down by the Berstains, Random House, New York, 1999, in Tales from Bear Country, 2011.

Not much plot to this book, just bears going up and down the escalator.  This is a level I easy reader book.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Music Review: Lyle Lovett: Songs from the Movies: Smile

As the title suggests, the song "Smile" is the head liner in this group.  This song was written by Charlie Chaplin for the movie "Modern Times."  The lyrics were added later by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons.  It is a really poignant song, and has lots of feeling behind it.
However, my favorite song on this C.D. is from "Toy Story," "You've Got a Friend in Me."  I love that song, and it really added to the movie.  He sings this with Randy Newman.
This music has a jazzy feel.  I really like the way jazz sounds, but find it very difficult to sing or play.  Leavett does an excellent job.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Movie Review: Jason Bourne (2016)

This movie is the third of a series.  It has a way of rehashing the same formula, but also keeping the story line interesting.  This movie brings back Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a man trained as a killing machine by the government, but who has rejected the program.  However he is always seen as a liability, and subject to government attempts to put him down.  In this case he is drawn into the fray, as someone else, Nicky Parsons ( Julie Stiles) hacks into the CIA computer and steals the information about Bourne.  It is assumed Bourne is behind the breaking in, and that he intends to release the information to embarrass the CIA.  CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) brings in an asset (Vincent Cassel) to take care of Bourne.  He also is going to use him to take care of Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed) a computer mogul who is reneging on an agreement to put a back door in his computer soft ware so the CIA can access everybody's information.  Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) is a CIA computer specialist, but she plays a much bigger roll in the end as she attempts to befriend Bourne.  Hair raising finish to this movie, with a little twist dangling for the next in the series.
I didn't find a great theme or moral, just action from start to finish to keep you entertained and jumping.  I think Sheri likes this type of movie more than I.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Children's Book Review: The Berenstain Bears Catch the Bus

The Berenstain Bears Catch the Bus, The Berenstains, Random House, New York, 1999.
This book reminds me of our family when we were young  In this book the bus comes at 7, and Brother and Sister Bear are still sleeping at 10 minutes to.  Just like I could never believe how we made it, they did.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Music Review: Neil Diamond :Tap Root Manuscript (1970)

Some of this CD is classic Neil Diamond, and others is music of a style which doesn't appear in any of his other work.  He includes some children's songs, and a mass in this CD.  An instrumental "African Trilogy" sounds something like the Jonathan Livingston Seagull music.  Keeping with the African theme he sings to the lion.
There are two classic Neil Diamond songs, "Cracklin' Rose" and "Soolaimon."  My favorite form this set is "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother."  We all should watch out for each other.  This song is an original Diamond number, but it has such a beautiful message.  It was written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell.  It was first recorded by Kelly Gordon, but became a hit for both the Hollies in 1969 and Neil Diamond in 1970.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Picture Book Review: By the Sea, Berenstain Bears

By the Sea: Tales from Bear Country: The Berenstains, Random House, New York, 1998 (republished 2011)

The Berenstain Bears are ready for a vacation, but when they arrive at the beach mother has some cleaning plans for the kids, rather than heading directly for the sea.  There is sand to sweep out of the beach house, and things to unpack, and beds to make, and walks to rake, and closets to clean, and food to eat, and, and....  Will the bears ever make it to the water.  Yes they will, and it is worth the wait.
The art is again consistent through the Berenstain world.  And the story makes a pretty good rhyme.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Picture Book Review: Big Bear, Small Bear

Big Bear, Small Bear from Tales form Bear Country: The Berenstains, Random House, New York, 1998 (republished 2011)

This is an introductory to the Berenstain Bears, and also an introduction to reading.  This simple book has very few words but it is big on bear pictures.  I read it to my granddaughter and it kept her entertained.  The contrast in sizes is very interesting, especially since everything gets backwards, big hat on small bear and small hat on big bear etc.  This is a very good read to the kids book, but also a beginner reading book.

Music Review: Victor Heredia: En vivo II

This is music from an Argentine composer and singer.  I really like the rhythms, and especially the Peruvian flute music which starts the first song, "Encuentro en Cajamarca.  My favorite song from this group is "Un Dia de Gracia."  The complete sentence is "One more day, one day more, a day of grace for me."  Heredia is very talented and can carry a tune, and write a good song.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Musical Movie Review: *** Pitch Perfect (2012)

This would be considered a modern day musical.  Two freshmen join college a'capella groups, Beca (Anna Kendrick) and Jesse (Skyler Astin;) Beca a women's group and Jesse a men's group. They compete in campus, regional and national competitions.  There is a healthy rivalry between the two groups.  The girls group has never won, perhaps because their is prejudice against girls, but mostly because they lack someone who can sing the low notes.  Of course with both groups there are diva type leaders, but the leaders grow and change as the year progresses.  And then of course our two freshmen fall in love, but at least on the women's side romance with the other group is forbidden.  This movie is great on the music side, and pretty lame on the plot side.

Book Review: Clint Eastwood: Icon

Clint Eastwood Icon: The Essential Film Art Collection, David Frangioni, essays by Thomas Schatz, Insight Editions, San Rafael, CA, 2009.

This is a book of an individual showing off his collection of Clint Eastwood movie posters and handbills.  It is a coffee table book.  It is interesting to see the progression of Eastwood’s career over time.  Some of the movie posters have some very good art.  The posters have a progression, from Eastwood being in shadow or not fully developed in the pictures of his early movies.  However over time he becomes very clear and the focus of the posters.  Then his career takes another turn and he shares the poster with other actors, such as with Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris in “Unforgiven.”  Of course Eastwood also has a very significant career as a director,  Clint Eastwood’s career has spanned over five decades, and during that time he has help create many good movies.  I have not seen them all.  I do not see R rated shows, but many of the other shows I have seen, from “Paint Your Wagon” to “Outlaw Josie Wales” to “Million Dollar Baby.”  This book was fun; I like to look at pictures.  However the writing was not very entertaining unless you might are really into collecting this stuff.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Movie Review: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

This is a classic Steven Spielberg movie.  Much is done in this movie with light, the light through the grate of the ramp when E.T. is left behind, the light of the flashlights and the light of E.T. and Elliott on the bicycle in front of the moon.  The E.T. is abandoned, and takes up with Elliott (Henry Thomas), as his family lives on the edge of the city.  Elliott sees something in the shed, but no one believes him.  However several days later, he entices E.T. back to their house by using Reese's Pieces (they are good).  He introduces E.T. to his sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and brother, Michael (Robert MacNaughton).  They keep it a secret from their mother (Dee Wallace), knowing that it won't go well for E.T. if people find him.  The introduction of the scientist is a bit overdrawn with them showing up in astronaut uniforms.  This is called over milking something.  However the rest of the movie is terrific.  Peter Coyote plays the sympathetic scientist who has been looking for extra-terrestrial contact since he was a boy.  The movie is most noted for "E.T. phone home."  E.T. is played by a puppet, with and extendable neck.  There is some incredible stuff happening in this movie, and the story is well done.  I enjoy the flying scenes, where E.T. uses some type of power to lift them up off the ground.  E.T. has a special power to heal.  There is a clever scene where he tries to heal the wound form the pretend knife Halloween costume.  His heart also glows, which lead to a song by Neil Diamond.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Movie Review: ****Star Trek Beyond (2016)

This is a movie for which you have to be prepared for lots of action.  It really keeps moving.  There is one little twist at the end that I don't want to give up, but the Enterprise faces an unstoppable enemy, bee like ships that all work together as one.  After destroying the Enterprise, they try to capture all the people, but the show never tells why or reveals how many actually die in the attack.  This is because the bee vessels were gathering everyone up and collecting them.  They all end up on the same planet, Spock, and Scottie and Dr. Bones all crashing into the planet, with the goal of rescuing their crew.  Scottie meets a local, at least local now as she has previously shipwrecked on the planet, her father was killed in an escape attempt, and she has been surviving in an Enterprise space ship which has been cloaked.  She is one pretty tough woman, but still scared to go back to the base.
Spock is determined not only to rescue the crew, but specifically Uhura, his girl friend.
This movie is a fast and exciting ride, which doesn't give up until the end.  I didn't take any fantastic theme from the movie, other than sometimes you can get lost in space.  This movie was mostly geared toward entertainment rather than philosophizing.
This movie starred: Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Commander Spock, Karl Urban as Dr. Bones, Zoe Saldana as Lieutenant Uhura, Simon Pegg as Scotty and Idris Elba as our bad guy, Kroll.  He was some fantastic bad guy.  Scotty, or rather Simon Pegg helped write the script.

Music Review: Viva la Musica

With this musical review I have ventured someplace I have never gone before, Spanish Children's songs.  There was a song about the snails wanting to dance well, but they couldn't because they were just too slow.  There was also a number sone, one-to ten, or better uno a diez.  The C.D. ends with I like to sing and write songs.  This C.D. is presented by Kitzi and Gabriela (Kitzia Weiss and Gabriela Huesca).  It was produced in Mexico.
As for my opinion of the music, the songs are nice.  There are a couple of places where they just were too silly.  I don't think even children like silliness when it is excessive.  However for the most part it was fun to listen to.  There was some very good instrumental back-up.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Book Review: all color book of Birds

all color book of Birds, Octopus Books, London, 1972.

I think every house needs a good picture book of the National Parks, other wonder, animals, birds, plants and insects.  This is our picture book of birds.  It has many fine pictures.  Of course it does not have every bird, but it does have a good representation.  The most impressive pictures are those of the cranes as far as I am concerned.  I also like penguins, and this book as a good shot of Fairy, Little or Blue Penguins.  These were Caleb's favorite.  The pictures of the Osprey, Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle are also very impressive.  I wasn't much into reading this book, except for the captions.  This is a look at the pictures book.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Picture Book Review: Curious George goes to the Beach

Curious George Goes to the Beach, characters of H.A. Rey and Margret Rey, Vipah Interactive, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1999.
For me this book marks the end of a journey at least for now.  I have been trying to read all the Curious George Books in the house, and I think this one does it for me.  This book is a bit different.  George doesn't really get into trouble.  He does save the picnic basket; but he had already given all the food to the birds.  Birds are very hungry at the beach, and they always have friends.  Fortunately George has friends who are willing to share their lunch.