Thursday, December 30, 2010

2009 Movies I Finally Saw

Here are some movies that came out in 2009 that I saw on DVD during the past year. My reactions are given and I've put the ones I recommend in BOLD to make it easy on ya!

Amelia - bleh
An Education - bleh
The Blind Side - LOVED IT!
Bright Star - LOVED IT!
Couple's Retreat - a stinker
Dance Flick - a few laughs, but mostly distasteful
Extract - Yuk
Fame 2009 - Boring
The Hurt Locker - Turned it off a few minutes in
Ice Age 3 - can't remember if I actually watched it or if the kids just did, lol
The Lovely Bones - SO suspenseful!
Me And Orson Welles - Very good
New Moon - um, well... It was Twilight.
New York I Love You - a stinker
Pippa Lee - good acting, rotten story
Precious - same thing as Pippa but worth watching
Sherlock Holmes - enjoyed very much!
Star Trek 11 - liked it far more than I imagined I would
Up in the Air - liked it until the ENDING - AUGH!!
Where The Wild Things Are - loved it!
Whip It - very compelling
The Young Victoria - A WONDERFUL MOVIE!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fall Reads

I've missed posting here monthly, but quarterly will have to do for now. Maybe soon I can post more regularly.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - 9/8/2010
Excellent - Classic Re-read (AUDIO version)
Catherine Morland visits Bath and falls in love.
I am so glad I read this again. The girls I am teaching are reading all 6 of the Austen novels this school year and I'm reading along with them, of course. Northanger Abbey was first. The reading experience was so much richer this time around. Listened to the librivox version.

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman - 9/10/2010
Good - Suspense
Eliza Benedict is contacted by her kidnapper/rapist 25 years later because he wants her testimony to save him from the death penalty.
Interesting since it deals with the aftermath of a serious crime - not just the immediate results, but the long term effects on a victim's life.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - 9/20/2010
Good - Young Adult
Katniss becomes a reluctant leader in the Rebellion against the capital, but who can she trust?
The long-awaited third volume in the Hunger Games trilogy. I wasn't entirely on board with the direction the story went but the outcome was pleasing, if seemingly a little rushed.

The Last Lie by Stephen White - 9/25/2010
Fair - Suspense
Psychologist Alan Gregory has new neighbors and an "incident" occurs at their housewarming party that has the Gregory family concerned for their safety.
I once enjoyed reading the Alan Gregory novels by Stephen White, but this one was just not that good. The one before this wasn't all that great either. I doubt I'll make an effort to read the next one.

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen - 9/27/2010
Excellent - Fiction
Mary Beth has the perfect life but isn't sure she wants it until tragedy shakes her world.
Stayed up long past my bedtime reading, once the tragedy struck. I love Anna Quindlen and her books aren't at all formulaic.

The Exile by Diana Gabaldon - 10/17/2010
Fair - Graphic Novel
The backstory of Outlander told through the perspective of Jamie's relative, Murtagh.
OK - You know I adore Gabaldon. But I do not adore graphic novels. I tend to be not very observant of illustrations and this made it hard for me to read this. I did find the story interesting although some of the additions to the story seemed a little far-fetched.

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert - September?
Fair - Memoir
The follow-up to Eat Pray Love telling of Gilbert's subsequent marriage
Wow, the self-absorbed rantings and tales of Elizabeth Gilbert continue.

Room by Emma Donoghue - 10/21/2010
Good - Suspense
5-year-old Jack and his mother are captives and he has never left the Room.
I loved this one - very original and told through the eyes of the little boy.

Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen - 10/25/2010
Good - Classic (AUDIO version)
Two impoverished sisters of opposite temperaments fall in love and face problems.
Another re-read due to my Austentatious class. I liked S&S better the second time too. Listened to the librivox version.

Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell - 10/27/2010
Excellent - Memoir
A memoir of the friendship between the author and her best friend who died of cancer
Very touching and insightful book about the nature of friendship and the author's memories of her best friend, now deceased.

In the Still of the Night by Ann Rule - 11/2/2010
Fair - True Crime
Did Ronda Reynolds commit suicide or was she murdered? Her mother takes on the county coroner's determination of suicide.
Another disappointing read from a favorite author. I've loved Ann Rule's books for years, but the latest few have not been what I expect from her. The story seemed amateurish and clunky.

The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths by Pat Brown - 11/4/2010
Fair - True Crime
Self-taught profiler (& former homeschool mom) Pat Brown describes her background, methods and selected cases.
This looked promising, but wouldn't you think a profiler would include her SUCCESSFUL cases in a book about her career? Well, not a single case in this book was solved with Brown's input. Most are still unsolved. So, all we have are her OPINIONS that her skill could have solved the crime. Those stupid police officers just don't believe her. Can you hear the sarcasm? The cases were interesting but no resolutions means that it's just frustrating to read.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer - 11/7/2010
Excellent - Memoir
During the famine of 2002, teenage Malawian William Kamkwamba had to drop out of school and began to study electricity and physics, eventually constructing a windmill out of scrap parts that provided electricity for his family.
This was a wonderful story about this young man's fortitude and ingenuity set against the backdrop of the recent famines in Malawi, Africa. It's told more like a memoir than a cohesive story, and is filled with a good deal of technical information, but the story is compelling.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - 11/8/2010
Excellent - Romance
Pampered Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara must survive throughout the demanding Civil War and Reconstruction.
This was GREAT! Read it! (This was my third reading of this novel, I believe - once as a teen and once as a twenty-something and then now.) I read the first half in print and then listened to the second half.

The Danvers Touch by Elizabeth Lowell - 11/8/2010
Good - Romance
Photographer Cat meets rich ship-builder Travis Danvers and is assigned to photograph him for a book.
The Danvers Touch was recommended in a romance writers' resource as a good example of romance writing, so I found it on paperbackswap a couple years ago. Just now got around to reading it. It's rather an old book (1980's?) so the romance is a little dated, but I can see why it's upheld as a good example. Lots of purple prose, lol.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - 11/17/2010
Excellent - Classic (AUDIO version)
Elizabeth Bennet and the proud Mr. Darcy find that they must learn to put aside both their pride and their prejudice in order to appreciate one another.
The third re-read Austen re-read for my class. Loved this. I remember it being so hard to read the first time. I listened to the audiobook (free on librivox) and it was AWESOME!

Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig - 11/28/2010
Good - Romance
Authorized by Margaret Mitchell's estate, this novel tells the story of Rhett Butler from childhood and his love story with Scarlett O'Hara, extending past the ending of Gone with the Wind.
I was unaware of this authorized sequel until a friend told me about it at book club. I'd read Scarlett back in the day and it wasn't at all what I'd hoped. This novel tells of Rhett's life before Scarlett, continues with his perspective of the events of Gone with the Wind, and then continues. I thought it gave a little too much history and a little too much focus to other characters. But there were some interesting additions to the original storyline and the conclusion we all crave.

ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel - 11/20/2010
Fair - Parenting (AUDIO version)
The title pretty much says it all.
Great premise, a little too child-centered for my tastes, but by the end I thought Runkel had a good perspective. I listened to the audiobook and I'd rather have been able to see the page for this one.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Summer Reads

Have not been doing well with updates here. Here are my summer reads. The comments in italics are my thoughts as of today, so some of the less memorable books won't be very detailed.

Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon - 6/10/2010
Excellent - Historical Fiction
My second time reading the latest book in the Outlander series. Loved it more listening to it. But you? You must start at the beginning.

Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas - 6/17/2010
Good - Historical Fiction
Poignant tale of children caught in an avalance in a 1920's mining town
Very touching story with an interesting presentation. Each story is told independently and then woven together at the end. Loved it, though it was sad.

The Burning Wire by Jeffrey Deaver - 6/22/2010
Good - Thriller
Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs combat a perp killing people with electricity.
Better than the last Deaver I read which seemed to be slightly soapbox-oriented.

Read It and Eat by Sarah Gardner - 6/29/2010
Excellent - Nonfiction
A Month-by-Month Guide to Scintillating Book Club Selections and Mouthwatering Menus
Going to get a copy of this and use it for our book club. I loved the selection of books and the coordinating recipes.

Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles - 7/7/2010
Fair - Historical Fiction
Civil War Female Prisoners
Did NOT like this much. Though it was interesting at times, it was quite a downer.

Catching Katie by Robin Lee Hatcher - 7/11/2010
Fair - Inspirational
Katie comes back to Idaho from Washington DC with the intent of working for women's suffrage, but finding love isn't in her plans.
Anachronistic and pedantic. Wish it wasn't.

Friends of the Heart by Emilie Barnes & Donna Otto - 7/15/2010
Good - Inspirational Non-fiction
Growing friendships that last forever, written by real-life best friends
Enjoyed this. Started it a couple years ago and never finished. Unearthed it recently and devoured the rest.

The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland - 7/22/2010
Good - Fiction
A fictionalized account of the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few female post-Renaissance painters to achieve fame during her own lifetime.
Well-written and fascinating, though not especially uplifting.

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens - 8/4/2010
Good - Classic
Amy Dorrit is raised in a debtor's prison in this rags-to-riches love story.
Book club selection. Dickens is wordy, but masterful at creating character descriptions and plot!

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - 8/4/2010
Good - Memoir
Liz travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia in search of peace and a path to God.
Wow, what a well-written and humorous ode to finding oneself (which is code in my book for S.E.L.F.I.S.H.N.E.S.S.)

The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg - 8/5/2010
Good - Fiction
A group of high school classmates gather for their 40th reunion.
I enjoyed this story and seeing how the classmates had changed in the 40 years since graduation.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zuszak - 8/10/2010
Good - Young Adult
A young girl grows up in Nazi Germany while her foster parents hide a Jew in the basement.
Again, not so uplifting, but very intriguing, especially in presentation. The narrator, for instance, is Death.

Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer - 8/15/2010
Good - Fiction
Sisters come back to their childhood home on Nantucket after life-changing events.
Rather self-absorbed tale of divorces, adultery, father-daughter relationships, etc....

Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott - 8/17/2010
Good - Fiction
Shocking details of the life of a teenage drug addict who pretends everything is normal.
I am not a big fan of Lamott's style, though she does have a way with words. The story, though, is startling and much like a train wreck you can't look away from. There are kids like this, I am sure, and I do intend to make sure none of mine are.

What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America by Linda Baumgarten - 8/21/2010
Good - Nonfiction
18th and 19th century garments from the collection at Colonial Williamsburg are examined and explained in this photo-illustrated over-sized book. Very interesting!
I was fascinated by the details in this book. Did you know clothes were often taken apart for cleaning?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows - 8/24/2010
Good - Fiction
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - almost completely told in letters, it's the story of an author just after WW2 who discovers new friends on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel.
Very sweet read! I resisted this at first because I didn't like the title. A couple friends suggested I would like it and I did!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - 8/30/2010
Excellent - Historical Fiction
Re-read (AUDIOBOOK) Claire Randall steps into a stone circle and ends up 200 years in the past.
Here's the beginning you were looking for. If you haven't read it, you just might like it. A friend (who will remain nameless) recently told me she read it and loved it. She not only read the first one, but all 7. I just adore Outlander.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

April & May Reads

As you may have surmised from the lack of recent posts, life has overtaken me. The part-time job I've taken means less time for writing and much less time for reading. I have all I can do to keep up with my book club's selections. (And I have managed it so far, but the size of the Dickens volume I am supposed to tackle this summer has me quivering in a lump in a lonely dank corner.)

So, here are my April and May reads - pitiful list, though it may be.

Becca By the Book by Laura Jensen Walker
4/2/2010 Good - Inspirational
This was an inspirational romance and I neglected to write a summary. I remember it was about a book club, mostly about the non-Christian member of the club. I also did not realize it was part of a series of books and it wasn't the first one in the series, or I probably would not have read it.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Good - Children's (Read Aloud)
I believe this was the Newbery Award winner for 2009. Mysterious and engaging, the book addresses time travel and includes lots of references to A Wrinkle in Time. I read it aloud to my kids who loved it.

Emma by Jane Austen
5/16/2010 Excellent - Classic (Rollicking Readers)
A re-read of Emma was for my book club's April meeting, though I did not finish it before the meeting.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
5/29/2010 Excellent - Classic (Rollicking Readers)
My May book club selection was Little Women and I finished it the morning of book club. Note that it took me two weeks to read this one book. I highly recommend it - loved it! I don't remember loving it when I read it years ago.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
5/31/2010 Good - Classic (Rollicking Readers)
Because of the length of the summer reading selection for book club, I thought I'd better read the June book as quickly as possible and move right on to the next one. So, I read Hound of the Baskervilles in two days. A very quick and entertaining read, but I don't really think of it as a classic. Hmmmm....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mini Reviews - Weeks of April 4 and 11

Titanic National Geographic special
This was really interesting - about how many errors were involved in the sinking of the Titanic. From the inferior iron rivets to a insulting comment made by the radio operator, so many tiny things contributed to the sinking of the great ship. It helps that I have been fascinated by the Titanic since I first heard of it as a child.

Law-Abiding Citizen
Found this one really distasteful. I don't watch a lot of "R" movies and this would be a good example of why not. Really gory vigilante justice film. Even Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx didn't save it. Save your time.

Alice in Wonderland
Watched this in the theater with my sister - her treat! Thank you, Janet! It was rather surreal, but that comes with the territory, eh? Both Lewis Carroll and Tim Burton fit that category neatly. A beautiful film - lots of vivid colors and interesting things to look at.

Sherlock Holmes
Not as good as I'd hoped, but maybe I was too tired to appreciate it fully. I did like it a lot, but I thought I'd adore it. But it was full of action and an interesting plot, with some super actors.

Welcome to Paradise
An "inspirational" film with Crystal Bernard and Brian Dennehy - I found it very rewarding to watch, though rather corny in spots and amateurish in its editing. Great message and I had the kids watch it too and they liked it.

Alice (2009 miniseries with Tim Curry)
Haven't quite finished this 3 hour miniseries yet, but it's an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Lots of famous faces including Tim Curry and Kathy Bates. I'm enjoying it.

Date Night
Went to the theater to see this with a friend -we both enjoyed it. You may too, depending on how you like your humor. ( Way more action in this film than I anticipated - it isn't a formulaic romantic comedy. Tina Fey and Steve Carell both were brilliant but understated and Mark Wahlberg was quite something to see. Taraji P. Henson was great as a no-nonsense police detective. And a great message made the movie really worthwhile.

The Breakfast Club
Watched this with David. Was surprised to realize this movie was rated "R". Didn't remember that! LOL Perhaps I've seen it so often edited for television that some of the more objectionable parts were edited out. Since we were watching on Netflix Instant, we got the full version, well worth the "R" rating for 1985 but a masterpiece nonetheless. How we get into the heads of each of the characters is quite amazing and I think the ending is perfection. We don't get to see a "happily ever after" - we get to wonder what happens on Monday. It's surely different watching this from a parent's perspective instead of a teen. I turned 19 in 1985 and in college, so was past the high school "thing" but the film delves deeper than just "high school". David doesn't even attend school (never has) but still related well to the characters and their dilemmas.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

March Reads

Five books in March. Fewer than I'd have preferred due to my new part-time job and to reading Wuthering Heights. See below...

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier - 3/3/2010
Good - Fiction
Elizabeth Philpott and her spinster sisters move to Lyme and befriend Mary Anning, a fossil hunter who discovers complete skeletons of never-before-seen creatures.
This was interesting, something different than usual. I love Chevalier's books.

Brava, Valentine Adriana Trigiani - 3/9/2010
Good - Fiction
Valentine's brother joins the business and they investigate production of the ready-to-wear shoe line, plus Valentine reconnects with Gianluca from Italy, and family secrets explode all over the place.
I liked this one better than the original Valentine novel. In fact, I've enjoyed this one more than any Trigiani I've read since Big Stone Gap.

Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte - 3/17/2010
Difficult - Classic
Classic tragedy of Heathcliff and Cathy - read it yourself if you want to know more.
Whew! Glad I read it. Glad I never have to read it again. Way way way different than I thought it would be.

The Lightning Thief Rick Riordan - 3/24/2010
Good - Children's
Twelve-year-old Percy finds out that the odd happenings in his life are due to his previously unknown parentage and he must complete a quest.
I read this aloud to the kids for two main reasons - I want to see the movie so I wanted to read the book first AND I'd heard from so many people that they enjoyed it. I also enjoyed it a lot and so did 3 of the kids.

The Kingdom of Ohio Matthew Flaming - 3/31/2010
Good - Steampunk
Time travel and steampunk, along with a mystery and flashbacks, are set in turn-of-the-century New York and the almost mythical, but apparently real, Kingdom of Ohio.
My first "steampunk" novel! Awwwww. What's steampunk? Think Sherlock Holmes.... Hard to define, but it takes place in the time of steam engines but it also incorporates wild inventions and/or sci-fi stuff like time travel. At least that's how I define it. LOL Enjoyed it!

I need something LIGHT to read. Thinking about a re-read of Stephanie Plum!

What are YOU reading?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Film Feedback - Wks of 3/7 & 3/14

April 7 - I just realized I never posted this despite writing it on March 21. So, here you have it. lol

Last week, I only watched ONE movie. I know - can you even believe it? Not only that, it was a movie I've seen lots of times already - The Proposal. One of my new favorites. IMDB

This past week, I did manage a few more.

Went to the theater to see The Bounty Hunter. It was just ok. The funny moments were almost all in the trailer. I felt like Gerard Butler's character was too flawed to be a convincing romantic lead, though I do enjoy watching him on film. I like Jennifer Aniston too, and the supporting cast was also enjoyable. I felt like a lot of it was a rip off of Stephanie Plum - right down to the big blue classic car that Stephanie has to drive. But it was a nice outing with a friend, even if it was a rather forgettable film. IMDB

Our book club selection this month was Wuthering Heights, so last night we watched the newest film version (2009). The filmmakers made Heathcliff and Catherine FAR more sympathetic than they are in the book. In fact, the book has almost no likable characters at all. It does tell the story of the second generation, which apparently many film versions leave out. We were amused, as always, by identifying where we'd seen the actors previously, commenting on the costumes, the facial similarities of the actors to other famous people, and the differences between book and film. In short, we rollicked. IMDB

I also made time to finally watch New Moon (from the Twilight series). It was better than the Twilight movie in a number of ways, and I am looking forward to watching it with my posse so we can rollick it too. Heh heh IMDB

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

February Reads

I've had this post half-written for a couple weeks. Thought I'd better publish it before the MARCH reads are ready to be posted. LOL

I found time to read 4 books in March - rather a small amount for me.

By a Lady by Amanda Elyot - 2/11/2010
Good - Chick Lit
CJ, an actress preparing to portray Jane Austen on Broadway, is sucked through a time portal to 1801 Bath England where she meets her role model and is in for a surprise!
I enjoyed this one - Time travel, Jane Austen, romance - what's not to like?

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte - 2/17/2010
Excellent - Classic
The mysterious new young woman who resides at nearby Wildfell Hall intrigues young Gilbert.
This was our book club choice for February and it was a pleasant surprise. I knew there were three Bronte sisters, but I'd never heard of this book, written by the Bronte who didn't write Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. It was great - I highly recommend it!

The man who loved books too much by Allison Hoover Barlett - 2/19/2010
Good - Nonfiction
John Gilkey is a book thief who steals rare books just for the pleasure of owning them.
I felt the need for some non-fiction and this was an interesting choice, describing the actions and thinking of a rare book thief.

Don't You Forget About Me by Jancee Dunn - 2/20/2010
Good - Chick Lit
When Lillian's husband divorces her just before her 20th class reunion, she takes a leave of absence from her job as an NYC television producer and moves back home, only to find out that things haven't changed much since high school.
A nice diverting read.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Film Feedback - Wk of 2/28

This week I started a new job working from home. It allowed me less time for watching movies - can you imagine? I still managed 5 films.

The 39 Steps - PBS Masterpiece Theater. Rupert Penry-Jones (better known as Captain Wentworth in Persuasion?). WWI. 'Nuff said? It was enough for me. :-D

Dance Flick - Every now and then, I wonder if I ought to tell the world that I've seen a certain movie. This is one of them. Since I tend to watch dance-themed movies, I figured I'd get a lot of the jokes. Yep. I did. lol And I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that.

New York, I Love You - Another one of those ensemble cast movies. Very strange one. It was more of a love story TO the city of New York, rather than a love story set in NYC or even about it. Short mostly unconnected vignettes - some amusing, some heart-rending, some romantic, some tragic, some hopeful, some thankful. Watched it because of some of the actors in it - Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha, & Orlando Bloom (it's been a while, Orly!). If you like someone in the cast, don't expect to see much of them. If you have been to NYC (I haven't) or lived there, it will probably mean more to you than it did to me.

The Genius Club - A Christian apologetics course set in a madman-wants-to-destroy-the-world plot. The Christian Baldwin brother is in this film. Um, Stephen? I just noticed this at the library and thought David would like it. I was right. He did. I watched most of it with him.

Noise - The last couple weeks have been ones for watching unusual movies. Here's another one. Interesting story about a guy in NYC (again with the Big Apple!) who is being driven crazy by the noise and decides to become a vigilante. I skipped one rather sleazy scene, but the movie on the whole was rather thoughtful and intriguing. This was another I just grabbed at the library because the selection was rather slim pickings and I just wanted something I hadn't seen before.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Film Feedback - Wk of 2/21

Film Feedback Week of 2/21

Cities of the Underworld - watched a few more of these while I was working. Love the show!

State of Play - Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams in a political thriller that I really didn't follow very closely.

I Hate Valentine's Day - That actress from My Big Fat Greek Wedding in a rom-com that I liked better than My Life in Ruins, but not as well as Greek Wedding.

Post Grad - Recommended by one of the librarians, and rather cute. About a recent college grad whose life isn't going quite how she planned.

Moon - Odd, odd, odd! Not quite sure I followed it all - the hazards of having a movie on while doing other things. Read a review that recommended it, but not sure *I* would give it the thumbs up.

Veggie Tales Pistachio: The Boy Who Woodn't - Cute! Love the silly song, and the Pinocchio parallels fit the story well.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Book club movie! The book was better, but Toby Stephens is worth a watch!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Film Feedback - Wk of 2/14

Northanger Abbey
My favorite Austen film! Probably because it's light-hearted and comic. Tilney is all that a gentleman should be, plus he's amusing and likes to banter. None of that smoldering broodiness that Darcy is so known for. It's also short, which is nice to be able to fit in an evening, unlike the very long Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. You have to make an appointment with that one. (though it is an oh-so-enjoyable undertaking!)

Cities of the Underworld
This History Channel TV show on DVD caught my eye at the library. I've always been fascinated with underground relics and ruins, especially after having toured the Underground Seattle as a teen. I find it almost unbelievable that all that can be underneath the pavement of modern cities. I watched 4 episodes - the first disc - and can't wait to watch the rest. You can watch some online at the History Channel website.

Valentine's Day
The star-studded cast was the attraction here, not the least of it being Bradley Cooper. :-) I actually went to the theater this week with my good friend Darlene who is so much fun to watch movies with. The myriad stories were all intriguing and were tied together well by the end. Lots of movie "in-jokes" were sprinkled throughout the screenplay and that was enjoyable. One of the storylines went off-kilter, in my opinion, and left us feeling disappointed, but overall we had a fun time.

Whip It
Previews on other DVD's brought this one to my attention, plus it was filmed in Michigan, I've heard. I think Ellen Page is quite a good actress and I've been interested in Drew Barrymore's work for a while now. This story is one of the "I'm a teen who wants to make my own choices, despite what my fuddy-duddy parents say" sort of plots, but it's unusual in that what she wants is not beauty pageants as her mom has groomed her for, but ROLLER DERBY, which is rather an aggressive violent sport. Who knew? What I loved about it was the strength shown by the family unit, which did include a mom AND a dad, both very realistically portrayed. Juno was better, hands down, but Whip It was a nicely done, enjoyable, solid film.

The Time Traveler's Wife
Saw this in the theater when it came out, but it just came out on DVD and I wanted to see it again. Read the book twice - completely fascinating. The movie misses some of the complexity of the relationship between Henry and Clare, but it still is both emotionally draining and satisfying. Warning - it's a tearjerker of a movie!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Film Feedback - Wk of 2/7

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Nope, I'd never watched this. HERESY WARNING - I am not a Sean Connery fan. (Apologies to all of you who just gasped aloud.) And the print ads I'd seen didn't interest me. But someone mentioned to me the other day that the "extraordinary" in the title really refers to super-hero-type qualities. Oh really? Like the X-men? Kind of. OK, then, I'll give it a watch. 'Twasn't bad!

Chose it because I couldn't find anything else new at the library that I hadn't already watched. Premise - 1st murder in Antartica and female US Marshal has to investigate quickly or be left behind for 6 months of Antartic winter. I sort of stopped paying attention about halfway through.

Finished watching Season 1 and I liked the latter episodes better than the first ones. Sometimes a season needs some time to get going. I really like how involved of a dad Castle is, I like the fact he's an author, and I do like the wordplay and flirting between Castle and the detective (Becket, right?) What I DON'T like are the gory beginnings with the intro of each episode's murder. VERY disturbing. I find I can't look at the screen.

Picture Perfect
Didn't realize how old this movie was (1997) when I snatched it at the library 5 minutes before closing. The clues were the humongous mobile phones. LOL And then about a half hour in, I started feeling like I'd seen it before. Soon after, I realized, yep! I have seen this before. Ultimately a forgettable movie, I guess. And Kevin Bacon as the bad boy romantic character? Ewwww....

Friday, February 12, 2010

2009 Movies I HAVEN'T seen (+4 I have seen by now)

I know I see a lot of movies, but even I missed a few in 2009. More than a few, actually, since I didn't go to the theater very often. I've starred the ones I am really looking forward to viewing.

NOTE: I wrote this list a few days ago and since then, I've seen four movies from it.
Bright Star - Loved it and would like to watch again
Duplicity - Not my thing really
Extract - Even more not my thing
Star Trek 11 - Not usually my thing, but really well done!

Have you seen any of these? What'd you think?
I've starred** the ones I really want to see.
Aliens In The Attic
An Education
Avatar 3D
The Blind Side**
Bright Star
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
Couple's Retreat

Dance Flick



Fame 2009
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker

Ice Age 3

It's Complicated

The Lovely Bones

Me And Orson Welles**

New Moon**

New York I Love You**

Pippa Lee**

The Road

Sherlock Holmes****
Star Trek 11

Terminator 4

Up in the Air**

The Velveteen Rabbit
Where The Wild Things Are
Whip It**

The Young Victoria**

What did I miss? (Make sure you read my earlier post of movies I DID see in 2009.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2009 Movies I've Seen

I've divided this post into several categories, ranking the movies I've seen that were released in 2009. (updated 2/12/10 with 4 additional movies)

LOVED IT - Multiple Viewings
17 Again
Confessions Of A Shopaholic
The Proposal
Wolverine (X-men Origins)

ENJOYED IT - Would recommend
Bright Star
Julie & Julia
Monsters vs Aliens 3D
Star Trek 11
The Soloist
The Time Traveler's Wife
Up 3D

ENJOYED IT - Not necessarily for everyone (or guilty pleasures!)
The Hangover
Night At The Museum 2
Sunshine Cleaning

INDIFFERENT - Not a lot of feeling one way or the other
Easy Virtue
Hotel For Dogs
The Princess And The Frog
Race To Witch Mountain

MIXED FEELINGS - Liked some parts, disliked something about it
(500) Days Of Summer
All About Steve
Bride Wars
He's Just Not That Into You
Madea Goes To Jail
My Life In Ruins
New In Town
The Ugly Truth

DISLIKED MOVIE - But you might like it. Not my thing. Or it was just a stinker.
Education Of Charlie Banks
Fast And Furious 4
Funny People
Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past
G.I. Joe
Mall Cop
The Pink Panther 2
The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3

Watch for another post with 2009 movies I have not yet been able to view.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

January Reads

Eight books in January and most of them very satisfying!

The Eyre Affair
by Jasper Fforde - 1/7/2010
Good - Sci-fi
Thursday Next, a British literary detective, has to track down the thief of a stolen Dickens manuscript.
Darlene told me about this series and it sounded intriguing. I enjoyed it, mostly because of all the literary references and how the story sets itself on its ear.

Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - 1/8/2010
Good - Fiction
Twelve years after Nan was fired, Grayer comes back into her life as a troubled sixteen-year-old who asks her to help his seven-year-old brother.
I chose this because I'd read The Nanny Diaries and found it horrifyingly mesmerizing, mostly because of the way the family treated their son. Now the family has two sons, but I found this story much less believable, though still interesting.

A Bride in the Bargain by Deanne Gist - 1/11/2010
Excellent - Inspirational Romance
Joe Denton needs a wife to keep his land in 1860's Seattle, so he purchases a mail order bride, who turns out to be Anna Ivey, an Easterner who has no intention of marrying.
Deanne Gist writes wonderfully edgy Christian romances. I have greatly enjoyed each one of hers that I've been able to find. Thanks to my mom for telling me about her! If you have never read Christian romance or stopped with Janette Oke, give Gist's novels a try. I think you'll be surprised by the "real" situations her heroines find themselves in, as well as the look she gives into the heart of her characters.

Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag - 1/18/2010
Good - Mystery
Several 5th graders discover a dead woman in the local park, the apparent work of a serial killer.
What a difference from the previous book. :-) I like reading about how serial killers are caught, fictional or true crime.

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain - 1/21/2010
Good - Classic
Tom Canty, a pauper in 16th century London, accidentally trades places with his look-alike, the heir to the throne of England.
This was the Rollicking Readers book club choice for January. FAR better than I anticipated, this story is not much like the Barbie movie, Princess and the Pauper. LOL Now I am reading it aloud to my kids.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - 1/22/2010
Excellent - Young Adult
Katniss and Peetah must travel to each of the Districts on the Victory Tour, but if they can't convince the Capitol they are still in love, terrible things could happen to their loved ones back home.
This was the second book in the series, which I was very glad to find since the first (Hunger Games) ended so obviously in need of a sequel. But this one? ARGH! Oh no! CLIFFHANGER ending! Loved the book, and can't WAIT for the third one.

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey - 1/23/2010
Good - Young Adult Read Aloud
Menolly struggles with the forbidden desire to play her music, then finds a cache of fire lizard eggs after she runs away.
This was the read-aloud for my kids. The boys enjoyed it and the girls didn't at all! I'd read it as a teenager and was interested in seeing what I'd found enjoyable back then.

Thirsty by Tracey Bateman - 1/30/2010
Good - Inspirational
Nina is struggling with alcoholism, her rebellious teenage daughter, and her unrequited love for her ex-husband when she moves back to her hometown after 17 years.
I was very interested in this before it came out, as it was being promoted as the Christian alternative to Twilight, at least in some circles. It wasn't like Twilight at all, though there is a vampire element to it. Good read, but not really a book that would interest teens.

I'm challenging you to leave me a comment with the titleof your current read or a book you hope to start soon!

So, what are YOU reading?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Film Feedback - Wk of 2/1

Since I tend to watch quite a few movies, I thought it'd be productive to review them briefly here. My schedule doesn't often allow for long reviews as I have done in the past (though I adore writing them) but I can at least give you a quick reaction to each one. Hope you enjoy!

Extract - Looked funny from the previews I saw on another DVD. Jason Bateman has made sort of a comeback and I liked him in Juno. This one was heavy on the drugs and sexual situations and left sort of a bad aftertaste. Don't bother with it.

Duplicity - I don't normally like movies where the bad guys are the protagonists a
nd this one had the added problem of me doing something else while I was "watching" it. So, I missed some key points I am sure, but I didn't really enjoy it. However, Clive Owen is nice. :-)

Star Trek - I am not a Trekker. Not by a long shot. But I was told I had to watch this, and it was very watchable, even for the Star Trek newbie. I watched about half of it one night by myself ran out of time (yes, that happens even to me) so had to return it without finishing it. Watched it again with David more recently. He has no Star Trek experience at all, and he really enjoyed it, as did I. If you don't know, it covers the beginnings of Jim Kirk's career and how the crew of the Enterprise is put together. Lots of great special F/X in David's judgment. One bedroom scene was inappropriate for general viewing.

Castle Season 1
Maryann lent me this and I have been sticking it in when I have nothing else to watch. I think I've watched 4 episodes so far. I can take it or leave it. It's about a male author (Castle) of murder mysteries who teams up with a female police detective, unwillingly on her part. They have chemistry that reminds me of Moonlighting (though not as charming).

Bright Star
Loved this! I didn't know much of anything about John Keats, the poet, before watching, and truly I am unsure how much was fiction. But this story was compelling and beautifully filmed. Want to watch it again! Warning: it's very sad!

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Read this book (and didn't really like it too much) but hadn't realized they'd made a
movie. Guess it was a TV movie. Since Dermot Mulroney stars, I thought I'd give it a shot. The movie improved on the book, I think! Give it a try. It's about a doctor whose wife has twins, one with Down's Syndrome. He gives away the Down's baby without the wife knowing and tells her the baby died. Of course, this decision haunts his whole life and changes the life of the nurse who takes the baby.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Library's Gerard Butler Fan

A librarian at one of the libraries I frequent heard me mention that I wanted to watch Gamer because Gerard Butler stars in that violent action flick. Not my normal type of movie. Hers either, but she is a rabid Butler fan and so we discussed his various movies for a few minutes.

The next time I came into the library, I found this note affixed to my stack of requested items.

"Lisa -
For my Gerard Butler fan. Check out Dear Frankie and Attila the Hun DVDs. Good Chick Flicks!
Christine, The Library's Gerard Butler Fan"

Are you giggling? I was! LOL We then had a chance to talk about those films in particular, which I'd already seen (of course!) and loved. Dear Frankie is a lovely movie and Gerard is particularly charming in it, especially because of his Scots accent shining through. Too many movies don't feature that. Attila the Hun is not a particularly good movie, but I enjoyed Gerard in that one as well.

And Gamer? Interesting premise. Pretty gory, in a video-game sort of way, but not the worst I've seen. And yes, Gerard is worth watching.

When I told Christine the Librarian about the upcoming Gerard Butler project in which he'll play Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, she seemed to have heart palpitations. Seems that, next to Butler, her reigning passion is poetry. Here is an article and another.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

2008 movies I saw in 2009

This is a list of movies from 2008 that I didn't manage to see until 2009 and my brief comments on each. Running about 50/50 on the Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down decisions.

1. Bedtime Stories (PG) (2008) (Adam Sandler, Keri Russell)
Didn't really like it, although my family really did. Guess I'm just not an Adam Sandler fan!

2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (PG-13) (2008) (Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett)
Disliked it quite a bit. Again, not a Brad Pitt fan, but the movie was just depressing and way too long.

3. Yes Man (PG-13) (2008) (Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel)
Usually I love Zooey and dislike Carrey, but I didn't like either of them in this much. Now I realize Bradley Cooper is in this so I may go back for another viewing. David really loved this movie though! Red Bull! Red Bull!

4. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who (G) (2008) (voices of Jim Carrey, Steve Carell)
Finally managed to see this at our summer park Movie Nights - on a big inflatable screen. It was really good!

5. Australia (PG-13) (2008) (Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman)
Meant to see it in the theater, but skipped out due to weather. Wish now I'd made it! This one is like two movies in one - very long and two storylines, really. Have seen it four times now, I think. I don't really like Nicole Kidman and, by her own admission, her acting was terrible, but Hugh Jackman carried it. And that adorable child has a screen presence!

6. Quantum of Solace (PG-13) (2008) (Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko)
Hated it. Don't think I even managed to get through it. Too bad too, since I loved the first Craig-as-Bond film.

7. Slumdog Millionaire (R) (2008) (Dev Patel, Madhur Mittal)
Again, didn't like it at all. Depressing. Guess I like my movies cheerful and romantic. Wanted to like it. Probably should give it another try when I'm feeling solemn and in need of deeper inspiration. So many people liked it.

8. Rachel Getting Married (R) (2008) (Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt)
HATED IT. Well, at least the beginning. Turned it off after the first 10-15 minutes.

9. Changeling (R) (2008) (Angelina Jolie, Jeffrey Donovan)
This one I actually liked. Didn't love it, but I liked it and it made me think beyond the normal storytelling paradigm.

10. Fireproof (PG) (2008) (Kirk Cameron, Erin Bethea)
LOVED IT. Although Cameron was the only professional actor, I thought most of the actors did an excellent job of nailing their characters. The exception was the wife - thought she detracted from the film more than helped it. And the story was awesome. Made Bob watch it with me (he never watches movies) and he liked it too. Go watch it, if you haven't.

11. Nights in Rodanthe (PG-13) (2008) (Richard Gere, Diane Lane)
SOB FEST!!! Sad sad sad. But what do you expect from Nicholas Sparks? See it if you like a tearjerker.

12. Kung Fu Panda (PG) (2008) (voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman)
Watched it out of the corner of my eye while the kids watched. They loved it. I was pleased with it.

13. The Other Boleyn Girl (PG-13) (2008) (Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson)
I watched it, but I don't remember all that much about it.

Here are three I had wanted to see, but still haven't. Should I?
1. Mad Money (PG-13) (2008) (Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah)
2. The Tale of Despereaux (G) (2008) (voices of Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman) - Kids saw it, but I haven't.
3. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (PG) (2008) (Documentary) - David saw this but I haven't.

Friday, January 22, 2010

December Reads

Wow, just haven't gotten around to posting my December reads yet! Thought I'd better get to it!

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon 12/03/09
Excellent - Historical Fiction
Jamie and Claire travel to Scotland and back while continuing to participate in the American Revolution
I've waited for this book for YEARS and then when it was published, I was still re-reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes so I couldn't start immediately. Jamie and Claire only get better with age, and the cliffhanger ending makes me crazy!!! Can't wait to listen to the audio! I think Gabaldon's books are even BETTER in audio.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen 12/04/09
Excellent - Memoir
Rhoda Janzen's Mennonite upbringing colors her approach to love, life, and religion. Humorous and insightful, though I didn't actually agree with much.
This book was a great example of an author having a compelling voice. Janzen was utterly charming and mesmerizing even when I didn't agree with a word of what she said. Her memories of her unusual upbringing captivated me and I am fascinated with her thought processes. HIGHLY recommended!

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare 12/12/09
Good - Play
What fools these mortals be - Very hard to summarize! LOL
I don't think I'd read this before. This was our book club selection for December.

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale 12/17/09
Excellent - Chick Lit
Surprisingly deep story of an Utah housewife who meets by accident an actor she has admired from afar.
My sister Christy recommended this to me and I am so glad she did. Hale also wrote Austenland which I enjoyed, but this was far better! I laughed and I cried. Literally I was sobbing through the last hour of reading. But it was a good kind of cry!

Colonel Brandon's Diary by Amanda Grange 12/21/09
Excellent - Romance
The first-person account of Colonel Brandon's loves and life (from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)
Another excellent read for December. S&S is not my favorite Austen since I could never really understand why Brandon chooses to love who he does. However, this (as all of Grange's diaries) really helps me understand and see inside the male protagonist. I love Brandon now! Can't WAIT for Tilney's diary! (not yet published)

A Christmas Promise by Anne Perry 12/21/09
Fair - Christmas
Gracie Phipps, age 13, aids a young girl in finding her lost donkey and in solving the mystery of her uncle's murder
I like Anne Perry's Thomas Pitt novels, but this one takes place before Gracie meets Pitt. It was not as good as I would have hoped.

The Rough Guide to Running by Lloyd Bradley 12/24/09
Good - Non-fiction
British guide to running; covers basics and and expert tips for running everything up to marathons
Much of this was British-specific, but I learned some new information and reading about running is motivating to me.

unChristian by David Kinnaman 12/25/09
Excellent - Non-fiction
What a new generation really thinks about Christianity
Another December book that I highly recommend. If you don't understand why people aren't going to church, read this. If you are over 35, read this. If you want to figure out what the unchurched are thinking or feeling, read this. It first made me angry, then it made me think.

U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton 12/27/09
Good - Mystery
Kinsey is put on the trail of the kidnapping and murder of a four-year-old girl 20 years before.
I can hardly believe that this is Grafton's 21st Kinsey Millhone novel! I enjoy each one.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 12/30/09
Excellent - Young Adult
Katniss is chosen to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a televised battle to the death among more than twenty teenagers.
Wow! I just adored this young adult novel. I really felt like the world Collins creates came alive for me. Katniss is a realistic heroine faced with some terrible situations and her feelings really ring true. I think this is a worthy read, but be warned that it doesn't really have an ending. But there is a sequel already published! I am reading it right now!

What are YOU reading? Have you read anything I've read?