Movie Tuesday: Salmon Fishing in Yemen

First Impressions: I am very sad to say I was disappointed in this film.  Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor are two of the best actors currently in the biz, so I was expected fabulous things.  As with most things in life I did not quite get what I expected.

Recommendation: I feel like this is a film for middle-aged men, with a little romance thrown in so their wives will watch it with them. The movie itself was done well enough, but the story really did not keep my interest.

Writing/Screenplay: The writing of this movie was particularly underwhelming.  It was very hard to follow what was going and figure out where the story was going.  The problem was the writers couldn’t make up their minds what they wanted this movie to be.  It was a political film, a mid-life crisis film, a coming of age film, a romance film, a religious film, it tried so hard to be everything that it ended up not really being anything.  This movie was based on a novel (which I have not read), but I would imagine all these stories and subplots could be fleshed out better in a novel than they were in this hour and forty-seven-minute movie.  I did however like the parallel of the life of the fish with the life Dr. Jones; that was clever and well done.
Score: 6.5

Acting: Again Emily Blunt (as Harriet) and Ewan McGregor (as Dr. Jones) are two fantastic actors and I was SO excited to watch them perform together. They both delivered and I loved their on-screen chemistry.  Amr also was very mysterious and wise in the role of Sheikh Muhammed.  However, Kristin Scott Thomas in the role of Patricia Maxwell was very . . . annoying.  It may just be because that character grated on my nerves that I did not like her performance, but I really don’t even understand why she was in the movie.  I found her character and performance to be irrelevant and annoying.
Score: 7.5

Cinematography: There was some visual interest in this film towards the end, but not a lot throughout.  There was a shot of Dr. Jones, “swimming against the current” and then later in the film there was the same shot done with the fish which really added to the parallel of Dr. Jones life with the salmon’s life.  Other than that the cinematography was pretty standard which is fine.
Score: 8

Soundtrack: This soundtrack was actually pretty cute.  It was dramatic when it needed to be, but at times there was some sort of Scottish folk music that was really funny.  The soundtrack was not particularly fabulous or ground-breaking, but it was done well and was one of my favorite parts of this movie.  A lot of time I think people overlook the power of a good soundtrack, but it seems like a lot of thought went into the soundtrack of this movie and that is important.
Score:8.5

Overall Score: 30.5/40

 Favorite Quotes: None 😦

 

Loyalty Lies (Part 1)

Jane took a deep, nervous breath.  She looked at the vast majesty around her.  The scent of beautiful flowers wafted up as she walked the path leading to the large white house with its painted shutters.  Jane remembered walking past the iron gate as a child, wondering what it would be like to be the only child of a governor, rather than the eldest of five wheelwright’s children. Governor’s children lived in luxury, wheelwright’s children begged for jobs as the governor’s maid.  Slowly Jane took hold of the warm brass knocker, bringing it down upon the door.  Her stomach churned violently within her, as she heard the crescendo of footsteps in the hall.  The door opened softly, and there he stood, Ben, the young, strong, handsome butler.  Jane tried not to meet his eyes as she spoke.

“I came to see Governor Trippingdale about a job,” said Jane quickly.

“Jane, how nice to see you, it’s been awhile.  Please, won’t you step inside, I’ll see if the Governor has a moment to speak with you,” replied the always friendly Ben.  Jane stepped into the doorway of the large house.  She thought about how much work it must require to keep up such a house, and became very hopeful.

“Little Janey, how nice of you to come by,” called a blustering voice from around the corner.  Jane looked.  From down the hallway came Governor Trippingdale.  He was a fat, happy sort of fellow, with a round face and sparkling eyes, always happy to see everybody.

“Hello Governor, it’s been a long time.  How have you and your family been?” Jane asked in her sweetest, friendliest manner, keeping her eyes to the floor to show respect.  She really had never known the Governor that well.  His wife had taught Sunday school for a year, and Jane was in her class a long time ago.  Other than that, Jane and her mother delivered clothes they laundered for the Trippingdale’s, but those visits were always brief and to the point.

“Oh, I look around me and see our thriving New York colony and am pleased.  How are things out in your neck of the woods?” replied the Governor.

“Well to be truthful, things are tight and I have found myself in need of a job.  You see, my father was in an accident about two days ago.  He broke his arm, and isn’t going to be able to do much work for a few weeks. I hoped you might be needing some help around here.  I’m good with all kinds of different things.  I can do house-keeping, gardening, or if you need some help with the children I can do that too.”

“Well Janey, I think your visit has come at a purely providential time.  You see, one of my maids had a family emergency and took a boat back to jolly old England about two weeks ago.  I’ve been hoping someone would come along to fill the position, and you might be just the girl. You’ll be sure to mind your business and do your job now, won’t you?”

“Oh, yes sir.”

“Well good, you start tomorrow.  You’ll get two shillings for a good days work.  If things go well we’ll hire you on indefinitely.  How does that sound?”

“Oh, that’s wonderful, thank you so much.  I’ll be here bright and early tomorrow morning.”


To Be continued . . .

Journeying to Distant Lands

Many people are born with a love of words burning deep inside their soul.  However, not everyone is born with that passion.  For some it is developed over time and for some sad souls it is never experienced at all.  Today I thought I would share with all of you my journey into the beautiful world of literary imagination that I now inhabit.

As a young child I loved being read to by my parents and older sister.  They would read me books like Butterfly Kisses and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  In school on the other hand, I hated to read.  I refused to read anything more than Jog Frog Jog or Sue Likes Blue until I has halfway through 1st grade and my parents made me.  I hated to read, I was so far behind.  My first chapter book came in second grade it was The Box Car Children.  I then spent the next 4 year in land of mystery.  I read The Box car Children, Trixie Belden and Mandie.  I enjoyed mystery and intrigue, but at this point I had still not developed a true appreciation for the beauty of words and literature.  That was all about to change.

When I was in sixth grade Anne came into my life and changed my entire view of reading.  Who is this mystical Anne?  Well, she is Anne of Green Gables of course.   These books were recommended to me by my mother.  Of all the things my mother hastaught me over the years, things like walking, talking, and eating, telling me to read these books has been the most life changing.  Anne inspired me to love not only reading, but writing, imagining and creating.  After devouring all eight of these masterful books I went on to read things like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Little Women, and many others.  I now enjoy reading a variety of different books, but it is always the classic novels with a strong female lead that grip me.  I believe I have Anne to thank for my love of literature.  She changed the way I saw books, the way I saw my life, and the way I saw the world.  I used to want to be a nurse, Anne changed that for me, now I want to write.  I was able to relate to Anne; like her I had a vivid imagination and a love of words bigger than myself.  I never saw these qualities as a gift or as a way to make a living, but Anne showed me the truth.  I want to create characters as powerful as Anne and change people’s lives the way L.M. Montgomery changed mine.  This is my attempt t sum up my life through reading, but it is hard to try and sum up my reading life, because I am still in the middle of it. I am still learning to read in many ways, because with every book I read, I learn something new about literature and ways to interact with it.

Movie Tuesday: The Truman Show

Fun Facts: All the street names in Seahaven and all the names of characters in The Truman show are based on the names of famous Hollywood stars (ex: Meryl, Marlon, Lauren Garland, Barrymore Road).

When the film was released director Peter Weir wanted to install cameras in theaters and have projectionists stop the movie and cut to a shot of the audience as they watched the film.

Recommendation: So I have never been a huge fan of Jim Carrey and was a little leery going into this movie, but I actually LOVED it.  This is a movie that provokes thought, but at the same time is also very relatable and easy to understand.  It is a diverse movie that will appeal to a wide range of people with varying tastes.  Highly recommended.

Writing/Screenplay: This film tells one of the most unique and original stories I have ever encountered.  This is such a clever film, because it so relatable.  Marlon was right when he said, “who hasn’t sat on the john and had an imaginary interview on ‘Seahaven Tonight.’” Now this movie is generally believed to be a powerful commentary about the pervasive and invasive nature of mass media and I do think it is that.  However, I think the last scene is definitely a commentary on God.  I’ve watch that scene over several time and to be very honest with you, I can’t decode it.  There are some references to Psalm 139 and the character of Christof is supposed to God-like, but he’s also clearly the villain of the film.  However, what is really interesting is that amid Christof’s dialogue we cut to a shot of Lauren staring at the TV and then looking heavenward saying, “Please God, Please.”  Given this I can’t decide if we’re supposed to see God as Truman’s savior or his warden.  At any rate I think this is a movie with a story that makes you think and in my book that’s a good story.
Score: 10

Acting: The acting in this film was pretty good.  This was definitely the best performance I’ve ever seen Jim Carrey (as Truman) give, he was appropriately dramatic and comedic.  Natasha McElhone also did well in her small, but important role as Lauren.  The absolute standout, top-notch, best performance definitely came from Ed Harris as Christof.  His performance was excellent, compared to him all other performances were just decent.
Score: 8

Cinematography:  I loved all the choices made to help the audience feel like they were watching a television show.  There were several iris shots used throughout, especially when the audience is supposed to feel like they are watching Christof’s show.  I think this is even more interesting because Jim Carrey was cast partially because he reminded the director of Charlie Chaplin and iris shots are usually used to pay homage to silent films.  Just an interesting tidbit.  Anyhow, the cinematography was good, not necessarily a masterpiece, but it was good.
Score: 8

Soundtrack: The soundtrack in this movie was actually fantastic.  It completely controlled the tone of the film and the mood of the audience, just like a good soundtrack should.  The music did its job well.
Score: 9

Overall Score: 35/40

Favorite Quotes:
“Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”
-Truman

“We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented.”
-Christof

Garage Attendant: [the Truman Show has ceased transmission] “What else is on?”
Garage Attendant: “Yeah, let’s see what else is on.”
Garage Attendant: “Where’s the TV guide?”

 

Art’s God

Art speaks loud and clear,
begging you its voice to hear.
A picture says a thousand words.
A poem speaks undeterred.
All artists have tools and tales,
but messages from the heart don’t fail.

A painting may tell of gods above.
A poem may rhyme of gods below.
A picture may capture gods of love.
A melody may sing gods of sorrow.
A dance may point to gods of war.
A film may direct one god or more.

Each artist must think long, hard, and well
about the gods of which they tell.
As one who has chosen a God and an art
I’ll issue a warning to those at their start:
Be careful the story of gods you relay
Or you’ll answer to someone for those led astray.

Movie Tuesday: Footloose (1984)

My Thoughts: The original is lightyears better than the remake; 80’s movie are my favorite! Also, I relate to this movie to the point where it is almost unnerving.

Recommendation:  I think this movie is great.  It’s well-done, fun to watch, and it has a killer soundtrack.  I definitely recommend it!

Writing/Screenplay: I think a lot of people take this movie and see it as a group of teens sticking it to their parents and all moral authorities in their life, but that is not how I see this movie at all.  Part of the reason I think that the original is so much better than the remake is because it does a fantastic job of showing the destructive nature of two different moral extremes.  When Ariel dove too far to the left she developed a self-destructive (suicidal) nature and it ended with some punk guy who saw her as nothing more than his whore whaling on her.  On the other hand, when Ariel’s father (Rev. Shaw) dove too far to the right it ended with the burning of books and the town being so constricting that even his wife couldn’t breathe anymore.  In the end the two of them had to learn to communicate and meet somewhere in the middle.  That being said I do think that the writing was a little heavy handed in certain places.  They got a little sloppy when dealing with the destructiveness of conservatism in the end (particularly with the book burning scene).  I felt like the director was hitting me over the head when I watched that scene.  Now I do think that’s how I was supposed to feel, I think it was intended to really make the audience feel the frustration that Ariel and the other kids in town were feeling.  While I think that is good in theory, in execution it was not conducive to making the film a good film.  I was also a little sad because I don’t think there were a lot of great quote take-aways from this film (comment below with your favorite Footloose or just movie in general quote).  All in all, though I do think the idea behind this story is a really original one!
Score: 8

Acting: The acting in this movie was all around decent, but not exceptional in any way.  Kevin Bacon did well and I really enjoyed watching his cool/smooth (dare I even say righteous or totally tubular) performance. What can I say? I love the 80s; I truly feel I was born on the wrong decade!  Now I have to say I was thoroughly underwhelmed by Lori Singers performance.  I can’t put my finger on it, but it was just off in some way.  Everyone did well, but I’m not shocked that there weren’t any Oscar nominees.
Score: 6.5

Cinematography:  I was pleasantly surprised by the cinematography in this film.  I had pretty low expectations, but they were exceeded beyond what I would have thought.  Don’t get me wrong the cinematography was not by any means extraordinary, but there were a few choices here and there that pushed it above average.  I like the opening scene where everyone is in church listening to the sermon and Rev. Shaw is preaching about how Jesus doesn’t want us to be bored with our responsibilities.  As this all is being said the camera is panning over a very bored and disinterested congregation.  Shots like this throughout the film added a certain level of interest throughout the film that I wasn’t expecting.  Well done Herbert Ross, Ric Waite, and Paul Hirsch.
Score: 7.5

Soundtrack: And now we get to the radest part of any 80s movie, the rokin’ soundtrack.  Seriously this movie soundtrack was fantastic! It was nominated for two Oscars.  The one thing I will say is that for as awesome as this soundtrack is, Ren had horrible taste in music.  I mean who in their right mind picks Men at Work and The Police for their favorite bands.  Yes, they have some good songs and they don’t totally suck, but common they’re no Bon Jovi.  Just saying!  That said, the soundtrack was really great.  I had no idea that so many classic 80s jams originated with this movie.  The music was by far and away my favorite part of this movie.
Score: 9

Overall Score: 31/40

Favorite Quotes:

Mr. Gurntz: “He was trying to teach *that* book down at the school.”
Mrs. Allyson: “Slaughterhouse-Five, isn’t that an awful name?”
Ren: “Yeah it’s a great book… Slaughterhouse-Five, it’s a classic.”
Mr. Gurntz: “Do you read much?”
Mrs. Allyson: “Maybe in another town, it’s a classic.”
Ren: “In *any* town.”

Willard: “You won’t get any dancing here, it’s illegal.”
Ren: “Jump back!”


 

Movie Tuesday: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

My Thoughts: First of all, I would like a sequel to Beauty and the Beast that follows Chip as a he grows up.  Can you imagine the conversations: “So Chip, that’s an unusual nickname.  How did you get it?” “Well I grew up as a teacup in an enchanted castle . . .”  Second of all, I know Disney gets a lot of flak, but the truth is they are such a big company for a reason.  When they put the time, effort, and money in, they are master movie makers and Beauty and the Beast is a master film.

Recommendation: If you like movies that are done well with good acting, music, etc. and you like to be transported back into your childhood you should watch this movie.

Writing/Screenplay:  This is such a creative tale, which is why it has been told again and again for centuries.  I liked the added elements of mystery in this film. The character of Agatha added a fascinatingly new facet.  I also liked how they spent a lot more time cultivating a relationship between Belle and the Beast while still emphasizing Belle’s need for freedom and loyalty to her father.  They also added a lot of historical aspects with Belle’s mother, etc.  I wish they could have spent more time on the Beast’s past.  It was touched on briefly, but I wanted more!  I love the new depth that was added to this old classic!
Score: 10

Acting/Performance: The cast in the film was incredible!  Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Luke Evans, Dan Stevens, Emma Thompson . . . need I say more (because I could)?  Now I know, Emma Watson has been getting all the hype for her performance and she did a great job, but the standouts to me were Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, and Josh Gad.  Dan Stevens was wearing a giant green suit and walking on stilts for most of the movie and he was able to really dig into the many layers of the beasts’ character.  Also his song, Evermore, was my favorite; it gave me shivers!  Josh Gad and Luke Evans were just fantastic.  Gaston was cruel and manipulative.  Le-foue was the funny, innocent victim of Gaston’s manipulative nature.  The two of them had such a great chemistry.  They were funny and clever and they just absolutely shone!  All the actors and actresses gave wonderful performances (they are all incredibly experienced and talented) and it was just a pleasure to watch each and every one of them perform!  Now, there is one thing that annoyed me.  The movie is set in France and the only actor they made do a French accent was Ewan McGregor (as Lumiere).  Literally everyone else had a British accent and it was just a little strange to me, but I still love everything about this cast.
Score: 9.5

Cinematography: I don’t have a ton to say about the cinematography.  I think we were supposed to focus more on the special effects, etc. in this film.  The special affects were great, I really liked what they did with the beast.  I wonder if I might have been more impressed had I seen the movie in 3-D.   The one thing that I did really, really love was the theme of the rose that they emphasized throughout the film.  It was seen in the costumes, in the props, in the stairwells of the castle.  It was very cool to see that theme carried out in different places throughout the movie.
Score: 8

Soundtrack: The music in the movie was lovely.  Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, they all have beautiful singing voices.  The new songs: Evermore and Days in the Sun were my favorites, I can’t stop listening to them.  However, in terms of being a musical this film was not on par with films like The Sound of Music or The Phantom of the Opera or some such musical.  It breaks my heart to say, because I am a huge fan of Ewan McGregor, but I was not overly impressed with his and Audra McDonalds singing.  They were good, but not great and I was a little disappointed.
Score: 8.5

Overall Score: 36/40
 
Favorite Quotes:

“People say a lot of things in anger.  It’s our choice whether or not to listen.”
~Mrs. Potts

Gaston: “Belle is the most beautiful girl in the village and that makes her the best.”
Le-foue: “But she’s so well-read and you’re so . . . athletically inclined.”
Gaston: “Yes, but ever since the war I’ve felt like I’ve been missing something and she’s the only girl that give me that sense of . . .”
Le-foue: “Je ne sais quoi?”
Gaston: “I don’t know what that means.’

“Those are called books you third-rate musketeers!”
~Cogsworth


 

Fountains of Faith

People flocked to the fountain and its cooling spray.
Its bubbling spring with no detectable source,
was something within her that sprang forth,
calming the masses and offering hope.

She knew of the river the flowed within her,
encouraging, demanding, loving, but stern.
The sound of the river offered her peace
and people were comforted by her serene face.

Abundantly joyful, unbreakably strong
her presence could make days less hard, less long.
She was loved and hated by those in her mist,
but the river always flowed and the fountain had no rest.

So the monument stands, effervescent with hope.
The people, they flock, for its source do they grope.
The fountains a guide to the river that flows,
in each person it touches a bubbling spring grows.

Movie Tuesday: Gone With the Wind

My Thoughts: This is such a classic.  It’s not one of those movies that warms your heart; it’s one of those that makes you think.  It’s long, but rich with content.

 Recommendation: You have to watch this movie.  Everyone in the world needs to see this movie at least once.  It’s so worth the time commitment and then you can impress people by saying “like in Gone with The Wind.” Do yourself a favor . . . watch this amazing film ASAP!

 Writing/Screenplay: This is a hard one because this movie is based on a novel by Margaret Mitchell.  I have read the book, and obviously watched the movie.  The movie did a good job of keeping true to the original story.  However, there are a few important things that the movie excluded.  One, in the book, Scarlett has one child with each of her 3 husbands.  In the movie she only has a child with Rhett.  However, in the book having children is an important part of why she doesn’t want to keep getting married after she has money; she doesn’t like children.  Melanie is more of a mother to Scarlett’s’ children than Scarlett is, especially since Melanie only has one baby.  Also the lumber mill is a much bigger part of the story in the book.  Mitchell spends more time on Scarlett’s treatment of her employees etc. all of that has an effect on her relationship with Ashley.  However, the movie really grasps the idea of the passing of the Old south which is the most important thing.  Also the screen writing is wonderful and clear which is important in such am intricate story.  All and all the story of Scarlett O’Hara is one of the most powerful, interesting stories that have ever been told. It is rich with civil war history and provokes thought about the serious issues of the time.
Score: 10

Acting: This movie has an incredible cast.  Hattie McDaniel won a well-deserved Oscar for her portrayal of Scarlett’s Mammy.  Vivien Leigh, who was in almost every scene of this 4-hour film, also won an Oscar for her portrayal of the cunning Scarlett.  There was a lot of competition for this role, but I can’t imagine anyone pulling it of better than Leigh.  As wonderful as McDaniel and Leigh were, my two favorite performances came from actors who did not win Oscars.  Olivia de Havilland, who is one of my favorite actresses ever, did an excellent job as Melanie.  Her character was gentle and sweet, but also incredibly strong and clever.  However, the backbone of this film was absolutely Clark Gable in the role of Rhett Butler.  I can’t believe he did not win an Oscar for this amazing performance.  You’ve heard about how the creators of Iron Man wanted a hero that was loathsome, but that the audience loved and was rooting for.  Well, Rhett Butler is the original Iron Man.  I cannot say enough good things about Gable’s performance, it was absolutely phenomenal!  The one performance that I was not thrilled with was Leslie Howards portrayal of Ashley.  It was melodramatic and overdone.  Every time I watch the scene where Scarlett tries to convince him to run away with her and he kisses her, I cringe at Howard’s dramatic performance.  Still this movie had an excellent core group of actors and actresses who did a fantastic job.
Score: 9

Cinematography: Another well-deserved Oscar was one in this category.  The colors of this film are breath-taking; especially for a movie made in 1939!  There are also just some excellent shots that send shivers down your spine they are so powerful.  The one that stood out to me the most was when Scarlett was helping at the hospital.  She had just witnessed an amputation and run screaming out yelling about how she couldn’t take anymore and she wouldn’t watch anymore people die.  She stopped in the doorway of the church, where the hospital is located and above her head on the door is written, “Peace Be Within Thy Walls.” What a powerful and clever shot!  I appreciated the cinemograph choices made in this film.
Score: 9

Soundtrack: The music in the film did its job well.  It moved the audience in the right way at the right time.  Sometimes it made me feel happy and romantic at others it created tension and fear.  The score was beautiful and well-chosen.  However, there was nothing risky about the choice made.  It was very typical at the time to use orchestra music for a film score. While the music was moving and beautifully played the technique itself was very cut and dried.
Score: 8

Overall Score: 36/40

Favorite Quotes:

“What do you think becomes of people when their civilization breaks up? Those who have brains and courage come through all right.  Those that haven’t are winnowed out.”

“You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but he’s terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.”

Scarlett: “I only know that I love you.”
Rhett: “That’s your misfortune.”
Scarlett: “Rhett . . . Rhett where shall I go?  What shall I do?
Rhett: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”