Saturday, November 26, 2016

Children's Book Review: The Berenstain Bears: We Like Kites

The Berenstain Bears: We Like Kites by the Berenstains, Random House, New York, 2004, in Tales from Bear Country 2011.

This is a rhyming and picture book telling of a day kite flying.   I like the different kites; dragon, cat, bat, happy face etc.  This story reminds us there is always another day.

Christmas Music Review: BYU Vocal Point, He is Born 2015.

This is a delightful presentation.  I must admit, Vocal Point hits a home run with they sing spiritual songs, but I don't care for their secular songs.  This is an A cappella group from BYU which has been singing since 1991.  It is made of nine male BYU students.  In this album they are joined by others on a few songs.  "He is Born" features Ryan Innes and is the title song.  The hallelujahs are beautiful.  The vocal percussion takes a measure or so to get going.  Perhaps people's favorite is "One Single Bell" which they sing with One Voice Children's Choir from Utah.   This song has a unique sound, with a boy soprano mixed in.  The also perform traditional numbers, "Silent Night," "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly."  There are fine solos in "Silent Night" and "Emmanuel'"  The feel like a light beam piercing the dark.  The also sing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" with BYU Noteworthy, the BYU women's group which is similar in focus to Vocal Point.
This C.D. has left many inspiring hymns on You Tube.  As I said, their spiritual music has a very special place in my Christmas music list.  It reminds me of the Savior.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Movie Review: *****O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

I love this movie just for the music.  This is a modern musical which has all the bluegrass music.  It makes me want to dance.  I was trying this yesterday and Sheri said it looked strange, but the music is my blood and I will keep trying.
Three escaped convicts can do quite a lot while they are on the run.  Everett, Pete and Delmar played by George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson escape from the chain gang and are after a pot of gold which is due to be inundated by water in a few days for the building of a new dam.  However the law is after them, and they have many close calls.  It is only later that we learn there is no money, but Everett has convinced the others to escape so he can keep his ex wife (Holly Hunter) from marrying another man.  He was chained to the other two, so they had to come with him.
They meet upon another man with his guitar, and give him a ride.  Tommy Johnson (Chris Thomas King) is headed to a radio station to sing into a can for money.  They three join him, and together they become the Soggy Bottom Boys and record a song.  The song becomes very popular on the radio, but no one knows who the boys are.  A music producer is after them to sign them to a contract.  They run into a bank robber, George Nelson (Michael Baldalucco) who is making a name, and not worried about the money.  He leaves the three with a car and cash.  They also run into a bible salesman (John Goodman) who mugs them and takes the money and car.  They also come upon a Ku Klux Klan revival and intended lynching of Tommy Johnson.  They rescue Tommy, but the Imperial Wizard is after them.  Turns out he is running for governor and winning the election.
Things change for our escapees when they sing at a large function in an effort for Everett to get close to his ex.  The governor hears them sing, as does the Imperial Wizard, who grabs the microphone and calls them out, revealing his membership in the Klan.  He is booed off the stage, but the governor strikes and pardons the boys and recruits them for his support.   With newfound notoriety, his ex agrees to remarry him, but only with the same ring they married before, which is back at their homestead.  Our boys are on the rode again, and overtaken by the prison boss, who hasn't heard about the pardon, nor does he care.  A fine hanging is in order.  Only the flood of water from the new dam can rescue them, and the ring is actually found.  But is it the right ring?
Everett at one point expresses to Delmar, "woman is the most fiendish instrument of torture ever devised to bedevil the days of man."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Movie Review: ***^Rules Don't Apply (2016)

This is an incredible look at the later life of Howard Hughes.  Warren Beatty portrays Hughes, and gives himself a big task in portraying someone with phobia to germs, and self isolation, worrying about being subjected to psychiatric evaluation and a conservator appointed to steal his company.  Alden Ehrenreich portrays the driver, Frank Forbes who rises up in the Hughes empire to his closest confidant.  And then their is the actress, Marla Mabrey, for whom he falls portrayed by Lily Collins.  There are other famous actors who portray people around Hughes, Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick and Martin Sheen.  They cow tail to Hughes' whim, such as banana nut ice cream, and if they cross him they get fired.  They only person who calls out Hughes is Mabrey's mother portrayed by Annette Benning.  She leaves and her daughter stays.  Marla Mabrey is a woman who is determined to not have sex until after marriage, and does not drink.  However she becomes upset one night she is meeting Hughes, and drinks too much and becomes drunk.  In this mood, she flatter Hughes, who takes a ring from a drawer (among several) and puts in on her finger saying with this ring, I thee wed.  They then have sex.  She becomes pregnant.  The next day, following sex, Hughes officially marries someone else. t have a wife who will not let him be committed to an insane asylum.   Hughes does not take responsibility for the child, and Mabrey discovers Hughes' real nature and goes home.  She advises Forbes to do the same, but Forbes stays on.   It isn't until five years later. when Mabrey brings her son to see Hughes, that Forbes finally makes the jump to gain his freedom from Hughes.
This movie has an interesting theme.  To what lengths will we go for success, to leach off of someone who is rich and famous.  It is an interesting dilemma.  Hughes has very strict rules, and often objectifies the women around him, as well as humiliates the men.  But for the most part they stay.  It takes a lot to quit, even when the situation is bad, as the thought of money can overcome many wrongs.
Lily Collins must be complimented for her work in this film.  She is really a fantastic presence on screen.  There is a period after she leaves that the movie drags and I think it is the lack of the energy between she and Ehrenreich.  When she finally comes back, the movie regains its energy for the end.
This movie is a long-term project from Beatty.  He also wrote the screenplay and directed and produced.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Movie Review: ****Robin Hood (1991)

This movie starts with Robin of Locksley, (Kevin Costner), returning to England after the crusades, grateful to have escaped with his live, and bringing with him a Moorish friend, Azeem (Morgan Freeman), who has a debt to pay to Locksley, and has vowed to save his life in return for his life having been saved.  However England has changed, with the absence of King Richard (Sean Connery).  The Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman) is plotting to become king.  He is helped by a witch, who is actually his mother (Geraldine McEwan).  After finding his own lands in ruin, and his father executed, he seeks refuge at the home of Marian Dubois (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), who of course greets him poorly.  Robin eventually falls in with the thieves of the forest, and takes them on a mission of revenge against Nottingham.  However he has bit off more than he can chew, and with the Celts as hired mercenaries they are overwhelmed and many taken prisoner and scheduled to be hung.  That is what sets up the doom of the sheriff, as Robin will not let this happen.  Seven men take on his forces, and with the people rising up, win the day.  Great adventure, and terrific scene with Robin and Azeem being catapulted over the wall.  Perhaps the best thing about this movie, is the song sung with the credits, with several lines slipping in during the show:

"(Everything I Do) I Do It For You"
Look into my eyes – you will see
What you mean to me.
Search your heart, search your soul
And when you find me there you'll search no more.

Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.
You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for.
You know it's true:
Everything I do, I do it for you.

Look into your heart – you will find
There's nothin' there to hide.
Take me as I am, take my life.
I would give it all, I would sacrifice.

Don't tell me it's not worth fightin' for
I can't help it, there's nothin' I want more
You know it's true:
Everything I do, I do it for you, oh, yeah.

There's no love like your love
And no other could give more love.
There's nowhere unless you're there
All the time, all the way, yeah.

Look into your heart, baby...
Oh, you can't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.
I can't help it, there's nothin' I want more.

Yeah, I would fight for you, I'd lie for you,
Walk the wire for you, yeah, I'd die for you.

You know it's true:
Everything I do, oh, I do it for you.

Movie Review: ****Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Here is another fantastic view of the Harry Potter world.  In this film we are introduced to Harry Potters ability to speak to a snake.  As a result, Harry wonders if he should have been in Slythirin House.  It also makes him a prime suspect when the Chamber of Secrets is opened; and children start disappearing.  The good thing about this is they are only frozen and not killed, because they see the Basilisk (giant snake) directly it would kill them, but reflected it only freezes them.  Even Hermione meets this fate.  We are also introduced to Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) in this episode, ton's younger sister, who is used by Draco's father to introduce the journal of Lord Voldemort.  When people start getting frozen, Hagrid is accused, because of his relationship with a giant spider, who in the end is not the cause.  Harry travels t the spider's lair to learn more, and barely escapes in a mystical car.
This film resolves when Harry confronts the beast in the Chamber.  When he is about to be killed, the Phoenix and the hat bring to Harry's aid the sword of Gryfindor.  Harry destroys the evil journal with a tooth from the Basilisk.
This movie also introduces us to house elves.  Doby shows up at Harry Potter's home, and does all he can to prevent Harry Potter from returning to school.  He is the house elf of the Draco family and knows of the plot to open the Chamber of Secrets.  Hermione takes it as her quest to free the house elves.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Music Review: Mano a Mano Tangos: A la Manera de Vicente Fernandez

This C.D. of tangos clearly is that of a Mexican singer, singing Argentine tangos.  This C.D. lacks the passion and feeling of tango, and is clearly not Argentine but Mexican.  Even on the cover, the singer wears a sombrero.  It is all downhill from there.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Music Review: Tony Bennett: Duets II

This C.D. presents Tony Bennet in duet with many seventeen different popular artists.  It is mostly jazz compositions, and many of the artists lose their individuality singing this style with Bennet.  However Aretha Franklin comes through as an individual, singing "How do you Keep the Music Playing" with Bennett.  Sheryl Crow shines with "The Girl I love" and Faith Hill and Bennett do a beautiful job of "The Way You Look Tonight."  Josh Groban's powerful voice also shines through as he sings "This is All I ask" with Bennett.  Mariah Carey and Bennet sing the last song with lots of energy, "When Do the Bells Ring for Me."

Art I Like: Picasso: Museo Picasso de Barcelona

Picasso is a unique artist.  He painted for a very many years, and had different periods of art.  His art was popular even from his high school days, and he was still going strong some 70 years later.  He was also very prolific.  So here are a few of my favorite examples.
I really enjoy this painting, because the embrace seems to go on and on
This painting is entitled Guernica, and is supposedly against the war.  I don't really care for it as too much is going on.  In this picture a Spanish village is destroyed by Germans
A self portrait form the blue period

In the cubist period, the piano player

Ladies in waiting, which seemed to be a common theme of Picasso

Another common theme was birds and doves.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Movie Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

I must admit, I enjoyed the books more than the movie.  I think the movie is not going to be a trilogy like the books.  It did not follow the books true to form, but does give us the world, three level of beings in addition to regular humans, peculiars, wights and hollowghasts.  The wights are determined to seek immortality, but to do so they must harness the force of embrynes (a peculiar who can make time loops, and turn into birds.)  Hollowghasts are primitive creatures, who were once peculiars, but a failed experiment turned them into monsters.  However they eventually develop into wights.  Each peculiar was their own skill which is very interesting.  Jake (Asa Butterfield), who can see hollowghasts, but didn't even know what they were a few days ago, finds the loop of Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), at the request of his grandfather, who informed him of the peculiars, his friends, just before he passed away.  Jake does find the loop, and the peculiar children.  However an evil wight has followd him, Barron (Samuel Jackson), who is also a shape shifter.  He had pretended to be the psychiatrist, and then a bird study man, and followed Jake to the peculiars.  He sets in motion the collapse of the time loop, and kidnaps Miss Peregrine.  Jake befriends Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell) who is lighter than air, and can control air.  (This is different than the book where he falls in love with the fire girl.)
The group of peculiars follow Barron to rescue their embryne.  Samuel Jackson plays his character too light hearted.  Their are classic struggles, and Barron makes fun of them.  I didn't find his character believable.  This show features direct fighting, unlike the book.  The hollowghasts are invisible to all except Jake.  However the throw snow on them and make them visible.  This way they can have a fair fight.
Even though the movie is not as well done as the books, it is entertaining none the less.  Based on the books by Ransom Riggs.  Tim Burton directed.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Music Review: Rascal Flatts, "Feels Like Today"

This c.d. is full of classic country music.  It starts right off with a love song, "Where You Are."  The chorus and the second verse are so poetic I had to share:

You're a waterfall, washing over me
I'm a thirsty man let me drink you inWell I am on my way, You're a mountain topWhen I reach for you, your love lifts me upAll that I want is to be Where you are
I'm the frozen ground, you're the warm sunlightShining down on me, baby just in timeWell I have never been in a love like thisOh, you move my soul every time we kissAnd I love how you heal; I can't believe how alive I feel

Gary LeVox is the lead singer, with Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney.  They and others write the songs.  This is their third album, with over 5 million in sales.  The also use several other background musicians.  
The titular song is very nice, "Feels Like Today."  In this song, the singer is waiting for something to happen, something to change in his life.  It feels like today that it will actually happen.  
"When the Sand Runs Out" is a classic motivational song.  When they get to the chorus this song is just exciting:
I'm gonna stop lookin' back and start movin' on
And learn how to face my fears
Love with all of my heart, make my mark
I wanna leave something here
Go out on a ledge, with out any net
That's what I'm gonna be about
Yeah I wanna be runnin'
When the sand runs out.

"The Day Before You" is another classic love song: 
"I can't wait to wake up tomorrow
And find out this promise is true
I will never have to go back to
The day before you

The three co-wrote Oklahoma-Texas Line.  This song has a different energy, is more up beat and gets the blood moving.  
These songs move me.  Sometimes the country feel can be repetitive, but there is no better venue to share a story, and these men do this remarkably well.  

Movie Review: Joe Kidd (1972)

This is a classic Clint Eastwood Western.  He portrays Joe Kidd, an ex bounty hunter who is convinced to come out of retirement by Frank Harlan (Robert Duvall) and because Luis Chama (John Saxon) and his men attacked his estate, stole or killed his horse, and tied up his man with barbed wire.  Chama is a local hero to the Mexican residents who are trying to fight for their property rights against Harlan.  Harlan is determined to kill Chama, and anyone else who gets in his way.  Kidd helps him to a point, but realized quickly he is with the wrong wide.  There are some scenes here I remember from my youth, like opening the hatch and the bad guy falling to his death.  A classic bit of action is taking the locomotive into town and smashing into the bar, so as to get a drop on Harlan's men.  Another classic scene is when he tells the sheriff (Gregory Walcott) to "Get out of here."  And later when he punches him in the nose and says, Next time I'll knock your head off."  This refers back to the sheriff having punched Kidd early, and using the same line.

Children's Book Review: The Berenstain Bears Ride the Thunderbolt

The Berenstain Bears Ride the Thunderbolt, The Berenstains, Random House, New York, 1998, in Tales From Bear Country, 2011.

In this case the Thunderbolt is a roller coaster.  This story has basic words, and is considered a first level reader.  It tells the story more with pictures.  And of course after spinning, and going upside down, all the Bears go again, except Papa Bear.  I like the way Papa Bear has a green face, it lets us know quickly his tumble is rumbly.  I usually avoid roller coaster myself.