Tuesday, December 25, 2007

40 Things That Only Happen In The Movies

I thought this was funny, especially #6, 13, 24, 25. Trying out the post-by-email feature, so we shall see how this works out.
Movie review coming soon of National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. Saw it on Sunday morning. (Yes, instead of going to church! Eek! Am I a heathen?)
~~~~~
Did you ever notice that certain things only happen in the movies, but never happen in real life? For example:
  1. It is always possible to find a parking spot directly outside or opposite the building you are visiting.
  2. When paying for a taxi, don't look at your wallet as you take out a note. Just grab one out at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.
  3. Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at the precise moment it's aired.
  4. Creepy music (or satanic chanting) coming from a graveyard should always be closely investigated.
  5. Any lock can be picked with a credit card or paperclip in seconds. UNLESS it's the door to a burning building with a child inside.
  6. If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.
  7. All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red digital displays so you know exactly when they are going to explode.
  8. Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to learn to speak German. Simply speaking English with a German accent will do. Similarly, when they are alone, all German soldiers prefer to speak English to each other.
  9. Once applied, lipstick will never rub off. Even while scuba diving.
  10. The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window of any building in Paris.
  11. Any police officer about to retire from the force will more often than not die on their last day (especially if their family have planned a party). (Caveat: Detectives can only solve a case after they have been suspended from duty).
  12. Getaway cars never start first go. But all cop cars do. (They will also slide to a dramatic stop in the midst of a crime scene).
  13. If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises wearing their most revealing underwear.
  14. On a police stake-out, the action will only ever take place when food is being consumed and scalding hot coffees are perched precariously on the dashboard…
  15. All grocery shopping involves the purchase of French loaves which will be placed in open brown paper bags (Caveat: when said bags break, only fruit will spill out).
  16. Cars never need fuel (unless they're involved in a pursuit).
  17. If you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts, your opponents will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around you in a threatening manner until you have defeated their predecessor.
  18. If a microphone is turned on it will immediately feedback.
  19. Guns are like disposable razors. If you run out of bullets, just throw the gun away. you will always find another one.
  20. All single women have a cat.
  21. Cars will explode instantly when struck by a single bullet.
  22. No matter how savagely a spaceship is attacked, its internal gravity system is never damaged.
  23. If being chased through a city you can usually take cover in a passing St Patrick's Day parade - at any time of the year.
  24. The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. Nobody will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building undetected.
  25. You will survive any battle in any war UNLESS you show someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.
  26. Prostitutes always look like Julia Roberts or Jamie Lee Curtis. They have expensive clothes and nice apartments but no pimps. They are friendly with the shopkeepers in their neighbourhood who don't mind at all what the girl does for a living.
  27. A single match is usually sufficient to light up a room the size of a football stadium.
  28. It is not necessary to say "Hello" or "Goodbye" when beginning a telephone conversation. A disconnected call can always be restored by frantically beating the cradle and saying "Hello? Hello?" repeatedly.
  29. One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them all than 20 men firing at once (this is known as Stallone's Law).
  30. When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in you room will still be visible, just slightly bluish.
  31. Plain or even ugly girls can become movie star pretty simply by removing their glasses and rearranging their hair.
  32. Rather than wasting bullets, megalomaniacs prefer to kill their enemies with complicated devices incorporating fuses, pulleys, deadly gases, lasers and man-eating sharks.
  33. All beds have special L-shaped sheets that reach to armpit level on a woman but only up to the waist of the man lying beside her.
  34. Anyone can land a 747 as long as there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.
  35. During all police investigations it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.
  36. You can always find a chainsaw when you need one.
  37. Most musical instruments (especially wind instruments and accordions) can be played without moving your fingers.
  38. In Middle America, all gas station attendants have red handkerchiefs hanging out of their back pockets.
  39. All teen house parties have one of every stereotypical subculture present (even people who aren't liked and would never get invited to parties).
  40. Trucks use their horns at random (no hang on, that happens in real life too!).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The 888 Challenge

[edited 12-30-07 with complete list]

I am participating in the Triple 8 Reading Challenge. Anyone care to join me?

I only need to read 56 of these books to finish, but I'll try to read all 64 of them.

Come on and READ WITH ME in 2008!

Books Recommended to me by others

  1. Hide – Lisa Gardner (my mom)

  2. The Furies of Calderon – Jim Butcher (sister Christy)

  3. Vineyard series – Philip Craig (mom)

  4. Beauty - Robin McKinley (Marta)

  5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith (sister Janet)

  6. Austenland - Shannon Hale (sister Christy)

  7. librarian series (Christy)

  8. Courting Trouble – Deeanne Gist (Mom)



Young Adult Fiction

  1. Holes – Louis Sachar

  2. ttyl – lauren myracle

  3. Eclipse – Stephenie Meyer

  4. Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze – Elizabeth Enright

  5. Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox - Eoin Colfer

  6. Eragon – Christopher Paolini

  7. Inkheart - Cornelia Funke

  8. Magic by the Lake – Edward Eager


Non-fiction

  1. Ordering Your Private World – Gordon MacDonald

  2. Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs: 62 Digestible Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life – Joe Schwarcz

  3. Walk Away the Pounds : The Breakthrough 6-Week Program That Helps You Burn Fat, Tone Muscle, and Feel Great Without Dieting – Leslie Sansone

  4. Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Your Romance Published - Julie Beard

  5. I Saw the Angel in the Marble - Chris Davis and Ellyn Davis

  6. Making God's Word Stick – Emmett Cooper & Steve Wamberg

  7. Life Management for Busy Women – Elizabeth George

  8. Family Fragrance: Practical Intentional Ways to Fill Your Home with the Aroma of Love – J. Otis & Gail Ledbetter



Books I Want to Reread

  1. The Bible

  2. Out of this Silent Planet – C.S. Lewis

  3. Perelandra – C.S. Lewis

  4. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

  5. Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis

  6. She's Gonna Blow: Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger – Julie Ann Barnhill

  7. Mark of the Lion trilogy – Francine Rivers (3 books)

  8. The Fiery Cross – Diana Gabaldon (audiobook)



Books about Tolkien or Lord of the Rings

  1. The Gospel According to Tolkien – Ralph C. Wood

  2. Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in The Lord of the Rings – Matthew Dickerson

  3. Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues: Exploring the Spiritual Themes of Lord of the Rings – Mark Eddy Smith

  4. The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien

  5. Finding God in Lord of the Rings – Kurt Bruner & Jim Ware

  6. The Origins of Tolkien's Middle Earth for Dummies – Greg Harvey

  7. Walking with Frodo: A devotional journey through Lord of the Rings – Sarah Arthur

  8. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century – Tom Shippey



Romance Novels

  1. Taking a Chance (Heartsong Presents) – Kelly Eileen Hake

  2. Once Upon a Family (Love Inspired) – Margaret Daley

  3. The Stranger (Harlequin Superromance) – Kathleen O'Brien

  4. The King's Mistress (Harlequin Historical) – Terri Branson

  5. Unforgettable (Heartsong Presents) – Janet Lee Barton

  6. Danver's Touch (Silhouette Classics) – Elizabeth Lowell

  7. Perfect - Judith McNaught

  8. Christmas on the Prairie: Take Me Home/One Wintry Night/The Christmas Necklace/Colder Than Ice (Christmas Anthology) - Tracey V. Bateman, Pamela Griffin, Maryn Langer, Jill Stengl



New Books by Favorite Authors

  1. Plum Lucky – Janet Evanovich

  2. Fearless Fourteen – Janet Evanovich

  3. Buckingham Palace Gardens (Thomas Pitt Mysteries) – Anne Perry

  4. Skeletons at the Feast – Chris Bohjalian

  5. Carrot Cake Murder – Joanne Fluke

  6. Sleeping Doll – Jeffrey Deaver

  7. T is for Trespass – Sue Grafton

  8. Breaking Dawn – Stephenie Meyer



Christian Novels

  1. Showdown – Ted Dekker

  2. Once Upon a Cross – Thom Lemmons

  3. Catching Katie – Robin Lee Hatcher

  4. The Martyr's Song – Ted Dekker

  5. Brothers – Angela Elwell Hunt

  6. Journey – Angela Elwell Hunt

  7. Scarlet Thread – Francine Rivers

  8. Claire Knows Best – Tracey Bateman

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Transformers (2007)

Initially I had not planned to let my kids see Transformers. Although it is a movie based on a series of kids' toys, which obviously interests my boys, I had read that it contained mature themes and it was rated PG-13. But then I talked to several people who had seen it and told me how great it was and that it would be wonderful for my kids. So, I reconsidered.

And now I have to say - what in the world are those people thinking? This is really not a kids' movie. We've got swearing, and not just the occasional mild profanity. We've got a very revealingly dressed teenage girl and lingering camera shots highlighting her body. We've got talk of masturbation and pornography. Now, without all that stuff, this would be an awesome movie for kids, but then it'd be rated PG and then sadly none of the adult males who played with Transformers in the 80's would consider seeing it. (Yes, the kids who used to play with Transformers are GROWN UP now. Or at least over 18! lol) And, those are the guys for whom this movie was made.

Lots of action, cool transformations, a very cool 2009 yellow Camaro, and a quest to save the world - that's what the movie has going for it. My kids were transfixed by the cool robot transformations and the boys adored the exciting action. The boys also had no trouble following the complicated (to me and Bob and the girls, anyway) storyline about how the Decepticons and the Autobots came to the earth.

The plot was one of those long convoluted ones that when you think it's about done, then you realize there is still 45 minutes of movie left, therefore it's NOT even close to resolved. From there on out, it's mainly robots blowing up other robots and destroying buildings and vehicles.

Here are their reactions in their own words:

"It's pretty cool. It was kind of lame at first, but I like the car. The car's awesome! We need to watch it again; that was awesome!"
David, nearly age 13

"I don't know what to think of this movie. It's full of fighting. The car's real sensitive. The movie has a lot of wars. My favorite part was when he was in his yellow car and some evil guy was in the police car chasing him."
Emily, age 10

"It was good. I liked it. I liked Megatron; he looked cool."
James, age 8

"It's dumb!"
Suzy, age 5

I have a feeling that my boys will be adding Transformer toys to their Christmas lists now.

IMDB page for Transformers


Screenit.com review of Transformers

Premonition (2007)

Just a quick entry about the Sandra Bullock film Premonition. I do enjoy watching Sandra; she seems so down-to-earth in all her films. The premise of this movie intrigued me from the start - she learns her husband is dead, then the next day he is alive. Then he's dead again.

Figuring out the timeline was confusing, but thankfully Sandra's character also found it confusing and made a handy chart that cleared everything up! Things that didn't make any sense earlier in the movie become much clearer throughout. I enjoyed seeing the story unfold.

All that said, I detested the ending. There was an alternate ending in the deleted scenes. I hated that one too. If I had to do it over, I'd start 10-15 minutes from the end and change everything thereafter. Oh well, I can imagine my own ending, right?

IMDB page for Premonition


Screenit.com Review of Premonition

Sunday, October 21, 2007

300 (2006)

300 was not high on my list of movies to be viewed but a co-worker lent it to me after she raved about how much she liked it. I was a bit put-off by the cover (quite gory) and by the comments of another coworker about how the film was filled with "half-naked women". When I told him that wasn't really a problem for me (lol), he countered with the statement that there were plenty of "half-naked men" as well.

So I began the film with a bit of trepidation, having had such diverse comments beforehand. We had studied the Battle of Thermopylae in our history lessons last year and so I was vaguely familiar with the plot line. I also knew that Gerard Butler was in it, and I had much enjoyed him in Dear Frankie (although not so much in Phantom of the Opera).

I think a bit of a history lesson is called for before I give my reactions to the film. "In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian Empire at the pass of Thermopylae (Hot Gates) in central Greece. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the Persians for three days in one of history's most famous last stands. A small force led by King Leonidas of Sparta blocked the only road through which the massive army of Xerxes I of Persia (Xerxes the Great) could pass. In the final battle, when it became clear that the Persians were going to win, most of the Greek allies retreated but Leonidas and 300 Spartan soldiers stayed to fight."

I do not know how historically accurate the film might be, but I would guess it was much simplified for the sake of a two hour movie, as well as filtered through modern sensibilities and political correctness. HERE are some interesting FAQ's about the movie's historical accurateness.

The style of the film was reminiscent of The Matrix, with the "bullet time" stop-action and the look of a graphic novel. Indeed the film is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller. The stop-action allowed for lots of blood spattering gore, which may be accurate in a battle situation (or maybe not - I am guessing real war is much bloodier and not as artistic). Either way, it's not much to my own personal preferences. I did close my eyes at quite a few places just because I do not want those images in my mind. I found I did not close them quite LONG enough in a couple instances though, so keep in mind that the gory scenes are lingered over much longer than one might expect.

The characters were well-defined, but I don't think the love portrayed between father and son and between husband and wife was much in evidence in ancient Sparta. What I understand of Spartan culture, although it is admittedly not a lot, is that violence was the norm and that family relationships were discouraged rather than encouraged. I also appreciated the fact that the soldiers who were main characters, although obviously much similar in appearance, were easy to distinguish from one another.

The characters were fighting for "Freedom" which is a high ideal in much of modern entertainment. I would offer that obedience to God is a much higher ideal for Christians, and we should keep that in mind when watching movies with the "freedom" ideal from this one all the way down to children's films such as Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Freedom at all costs is not what God calls us to; rather it is obedience at all costs. Also, keep in mind that the Spartan society was possible because of its reliance on (and mistreatment of) slaves.

When the 300 men were lining up before leaving for battle, I was surprised to recognize David Wenham (LOTR's Faramir) in the Spartan uniform. A while later, I realized that his character provided the narration throughout the film.

There are four areas of sensuality in the movie that I feel are worth a caution. One is a husband-wife sex scene and I used the chapter skip to skip this scene. Another is the teenage female "oracle" doing a drug-induced dance. A third is an adulterous liaison between a woman and a man. This was not explicit and was important for understanding what happens near the end of the film. The last occurred in the scene where the traitor comes to Xerxes; there are many sensually dressed women gyrating and the camera lingers on these women. There is also a lesbian kiss in this scene. This is an important scene for content, however, as the traitor makes a deal with Xerxes here. But now that you know that, you can use the chapter skip. ;-)

Ok, I am losing my momentum and if I try to perfect this review, it will probably never get published, so you will get my half-finished thoughts and ideas instead of nothing at all. :-)

Do I recommend seeing 300? Only if you love gore (or don't mind shutting your eyes through a lot of the movie) and if you take the time to find out what really happened instead of taking this movie as historical fact.

SCREEN IT REVIEW

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bandidas (2006)

I was excited about Bandidas, having read on the internet that Steve Zahn, one of my favorite actors, was in it. However, when I saw it in the store, I was apprehensive about the suitability of the film due to the choice of the picture on the cover – two women dressed in midriff-baring bustiers and modern low-rise Western-style jeans, accessorized with ammunition belts, pistols, and throwing knives. You may have disregarded the movie entirely based on the cover. The old adage does apply here – don't judge this DVD by its cover! The outfits worn by Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz on the DVD cover photo are not actually in the movie. The actresses are fully dressed in period costume throughout most of the movie. (A quick google search shows at least 3 other DVD covers for other countries that are much more appropriate!)
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Bandidas

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Maria (Penélope Cruz) is the impetuous daughter of a poor Mexican farmer whose farm has just been repossessed illegally. Sara (Salma Hayek) is the cultured daughter of the richest man in town, a banker who has unknowingly been instrumental in the repossessions of the land of the villagers. The daughters team up to reclaim the land (and the gold) for the people, in a sort of Mexican Robin Hood tale. Rob from the rich, in this case, the evil New York bank, and give to the poor, the Mexicans whose land was stolen. Along the way they enlist the help of a retired bank robber (Sam Shepard) and a criminologist (Zahn) sent to help track them down.

The film opens with a bespectacled crime-solving Quentin Cooke (Zahn) showing his Sherlock-Holmes-type skills. We don't see him again until half an hour into the movie as the characters of Maria and Sara are introduced and their evolution into “bandidas” is shown.

The commentary states that Hayek and Cruz wanted to make a movie together and they do interact with one another well. This is a female “buddy” movie with a Western theme, and the opposing personalities portrayed by the two actresses set up an interesting counterpoint as the movie gets rolling.

The obligatory catfight between the girls is, of course, included, but the film does refrain from exploring further risque possibilities, with one notable exception. This is an offensive scene in the criminologist's hotel room where the bandidas, uncharacteristically and scantily dressed as Vegas-type showgirls, tie him naked to a bed, snap incriminating photos of him, and elicit necessary information from him. They both kiss him sensuously which turns into a running gag for the rest of the film. (This scene is located in the middle of Chapter 11 and lasts about 5 minutes.)

Once they've recruited the criminologist to assist them in their “rob the rich” schemes, the movie really gets rolling. Donning costumes, the ladies take turns pairing up with Quentin to scope out and rob more banks, which gets progressively more difficult. The villain, played by Dwight Yoakam, works for the New York bank, and makes it his personal mission to track down the bandidas and see them hanged. Some laughs and clever dialogue help the story along.


Is this movie appropriate for children? The showgirl scene described above makes it ill-suited for kids, although if those five minutes were skipped, the remainder of the movie is fairly innocuous standard Western-style violence intermixed with comedy. In my opinion, the child who has seen other PG-13 films would find little else shocking in this film. My own children have not seen it, however, I would not discount the possibility of them, especially my oldest, watching an edited version of the film at some future date.


This isn't an extraordinary movie, or a significant one, but it is an enjoyable lighthearted Western comedy that definitely deserves its PG-13 rating. If you're looking for a fun Western, this fits the bill!

Another review

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Someone asked me anonymously for my thoughts on Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. I had mentioned that I would be watching it and they wondered what I thought.

Well. I didn't like it. I already am not a fan of Will Ferrell, although I did enjoy Elf. I don't watch NASCAR. SNL-style humor is not the humor I enjoy. So, why in the world did I rent this movie? It's simply that I have watched the majority of movies available at my local library, and since I do not have Netflix or Blockbuster Online at the present time, I am using the library more and more.

All that said, I was truly not expecting the things I saw in this movie. From the blatant and appalling disrespect from children to parents and grandparents (including profanity) to making out on the dining room table with people EATING there and a long man-to-man kiss, this film was full of crass, indecent, and unpalatable incidents.
Last but not least, I had no desire at all to see Will Ferrell running around in his underwear! The few truly humorous moments (Walker & Texas Ranger!) did not outweigh the bad taste this film left in my mouth.

A more in-depth review is HERE, and I agree with the reviewer's opinions. This review, as well as screenit's below, gives more details on my objections to the movie, which are too numerous for me to waste time listing for you here.

I would not recommend Talladega Nights to anyone.



Screenit.com Review