Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Movie #1: That Thing You Do
The story of a one hit wonder musical group. I had never been extremely excited about seeing this movie, Alexis had it in our Netflix queue and we decided to watch it. I was pleasantly surprised. The best known actor in this movie is Tom Hanks, but he does not have the largest role. There really isn't one person that I would identify as the lead, rather it is an ensemble cast whose characters each play a significant role in the development of the story.
I expected a goofy comedy, but there was definitely a dramatic story line to go along with the upbeat music and lighthearted elements. One of the many things that makes a good movie is how we connect with the characters and I connected with these characters in such a way that I really cared about what happened to them. This made the ending all the more satisfying when they gave a summary of where the characters each ended up, as if they were real people.
Movie #2: Man on a Ledge
The title of the movie makes the plot some what obvious. I suppose the question is, why is the man on a ledge. Well, I won't ruin it for you. Sam Worthington of Clash of the Titans and Avatar fame is the Man on a Ledge. I like him as an actor but he seemed to struggle a little with the American accent, or maybe I was just imagining that.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie but I am glad I only paid matinee price to see it. Granted, I hate paying prime time prices on any movie if I can avoid it. Bottom line, you don't need to see it on the big screen. The actual story had a good resolution but they threw in a bit at the end that was related to the story arc of some supporting characters, but seemed so random that I didn't think it belonged in the movie.
Movie #3: Chaos Theory
Frank Allen is an efficiency expert. He likes order. Something his life lacks when his wife sets the clock back ten minutes. The time change sends Frank on an unexpected journey with discoveries both tragic and life saving. Through all the chaos, he learns what choices are most important in life.
I really liked this movie. I watched it because I saw it on Netflix and I like Ryan Reynolds, but I didn't know what to expect. Ryan Reynolds is known for his dry sense of humor and this role was a perfect showcase for it. Funny and heartwarming, this movie was a pleasant surprise.
Movie #4: Scorched
Of the movies I have watched so far this is the most random. It is about three bank employees who all make plans to rob their bank on the same weekend unbeknownst to the others. The main stars are Alicia Silverstone, Rachael Leigh Cook, Woody Harrelson, and John Cleese. I watched it for three reasons, It was on Netflix, it was only about 90 minutes which is about the amount of time I wanted to spend watching a movie at that time, and I like the main people in the movie.
I found the movie entertaining. That is something I love about Netflix. It is easy to watch movies you would likely never rent at the video store. As a result you can find some great flicks. This was by no means a great flick, but it was enjoyable for the 90 minutes I spent. It was funny and slightly odd, but if you want to kill 90 minutes on Netflix, give it a go.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I watched Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts. I really liked it. It's about a lady (Julia Roberts) who is unhappy in her marriage and gets a divorce. She has a hard time with the divorce and decides to travel around the world to find out who she is and find balance in her life. (She travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia) It's based on a true story and there is a book with the same title written by the lady that the movie is based on. I liked this movie because there are some really good characters in it and I think we all go through times in our life of needing to find out who we are, but we all have different ways of doing it.
I also saw Contagion. I did not like this movie. The beginning was scary to me. And it didn't get much better after that. It's about a deadly disease that starts to show up all over the world. It moves quickly and kills fast. The Center for Disease Control strives to find a vaccination for it as it continues to spread. After much research they find out where the disease started.
I saw The Vow. I really liked it. It was a sad movie, but overall it was good. I liked that the husband fought for the wife even though he had to deal with his wife's family trying to keep her away from him and her memory loss.
I read the second book of the How to Train Your Dragon series, How to Be a Pirate. It was good. I really like these books. They are an easy read, but they are entertaining.
The Vow was the Valentine's Day date movie. I expected it to be more like a Nicholas Sparks movie, but somehow it lacked heart, somehow. And there were not a lot of men in the theater. That ought to have told me something. The plot is a guy falls in love with a girl who has left her wealthy upbringing behind and they're massively in love. They are in a car accident and she can't remember him, or anything about the new life she forged before meeting him. It's purportedly based on true events and even shows a picture of the couple at the end of the film. There are some good surprises, but the overall effect left me glad mostly about the jumbo popcorn we shared. (Note: I didn't pick the movie.)
The Woodlanders was a Netflix streaming movie I watched while folding an enormous mountain of kids' clothes. It starred Rufus Sewell, who has been a favorite actor of mine since I saw him in Uncorked about 12 years ago. The story, based on a Thomas Hardy novel, surrounds a girl who returns to her native woodlands after leaving to receive an education. Her father believes her education (and his wealth) now make her too good for the life she'd previously expected to have: to marry Rufus Sewell. Instead she is introduced to the local doctor. Things complicate, and regrets are incurred. It was a little sadder than Return of the Native and The Mayor of Casterbridge, two of my preferred Hardy stories. Meh. (But the cinematography was great!)
This Means War. Two spies who are work partners both accidentally fall for the same darling Reese Witherspoon girl. Who will ultimately win her heart? The dashing Brit separated from his wife (who saw her first), or the dashing American playboy? Ugh. It had a fun premise, yeah, but there were a LOT of jokes in it that crossed the line for me. Plus, you'd think there would be chemistry! Not so much. I wish I could rewind my life and give this one a miss.
The Lucky One. I read this Nicholas Sparks romance for Valentine's week. News flash! No one in the story dies of cancer! (I've only read a couple of Sparks' novels, but I kind of thought someone dies of cancer in every book. Not so!) It was a straightforward love story between a soldier come home from Iraq and a single mom in North Carolina whom he seeks out because he found a photo of her in a sand dune while he was serving. She has a son, and he has a faithful dog. There's a villainous, conniving ex-husband to contend with. The end scene is quite exciting. Overall, a good, fluffy read.
The Braid. Okay, I'm mad at everyone I know for not telling me about this excellent book before now. It's so wonderful! The author had an ancestor who immigrated from the islands of Scotland to the Canadian coast, and that is the topic of this YA story written all in verse. Yes, verse! It's poetry, but the story is so accessible! I love it! Two sisters learn they must leave their impoverished island. One will go with her family to Canada, the other sneaks off to stay behind. They braid their hair together into one braid, snip it and each takes half. They expect (with good reason) to never see one another again. The sisters' journeys are treacherous. Hunger and danger and death ensue. The topic of teen pregnancy is handled gently but with realism. It's a touching, ingenious book. I wish my mom were still teaching high school English. I know she could use this as a marvelous text. It's only about 90 pages, but the depth of the characters the author achieves is wondrous. I love this book.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
As the debut novel for The Newport Ladies Book Club series, Olivia launches the series with the sincere passion of a woman whose only goal to is make her husband and children happy. But everyone is not happy and all in not well in Livvy’s family. So the plot thickens as Livvy draws us into her troubled marriage and into her “sticky” life. In an attempt to cope with her increasing family turmoil, Livvy joins a book club despite her husband’s jibe that she’s hasn’t had friends for years. At the book club, Livvy meets Daisy, Paige, and Athena, 3 strangers, 3 different lives, 3 novels to come.
I expected an interesting story, what I didn’t expect was Livvy to win my friendship too. I went from being an interested observer of Livvy, with her annoying Pollyanna creed, to being her #1 cheerleader when she finally let out the agonizing scream that filled her empty house. I laughed at Livvy’s humorous judgments of the other book club women. I felt the compassion the women shared with each other, guardedly and insecurely at first, and openly later as they understood each other better.
I would describe Olivia as compelling: compelling in it painful events, compelling in its sincerity, compelling in its underlying plea for women to lift and encourage each other when it is easier to ignore or judge each other. Through Olivia, Wright shows us how much it means when we care for each when life is hard, and we’d rather cry alone. Olivia was not a feel good novel in a fairy tale sense. In fact, it wasn’t even relaxing. I won’t get back the sleep I lost while reading this novel, but I enthusiastically recommend it. And I’m looking forward to joining the book club again with Daisy in June.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
I took the following from a Christian movie website:
“Four men, one calling: To serve and protect: As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, David Thomson and Shane Fuller are confident and focused. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. . . .
Filled with action-packed police drama, Courageous is the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures, the moving making ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Riveted moviegoers will once again find themselves laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children.”
Fireproof was another Christian movie drama produced by Sherwood Pictures that I watched after seeing Courageous. The main theme of Fireproof was about caring enough to make your marriage work. I watched this movie on YouTube and enjoyed it as well.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Killing Lincoln begins with this sentence: “The man with six weeks to live is anxious.” This book, written like a thriller novel counting down the days in present tense, is supposed to build suspense as readers follow what happens each day to Lincoln and his family, Generals Grant and Lee and the Civil War, and John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators as they count down the final days of Lincoln’s life. While this approach captivated me initially, as the book continued the approach became somewhat tedious, mainly regarding Booth and his buddies. I admit to skimming the last section of the book to catch the important details.
Still, I would highly recommend this book. I learned so much about Lincoln’s assassination and the surrounding events that perpetuated that his sad death. I won’t share details because that will spoil the plot. The book was a fast read despite the historical details. Unfortunately, some key aspects of the conspiracy theory, which I thought should have been more centrally placed in the book, were tucked away in the epilogue. I really liked the brief synopses at the end of the book explaining what happened to key people after the President’s death.
I read Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I've never read any of her books before and I really liked it. It was a page turner and the end was not what I expected, but it was good. I will be reading more Agatha Christie books this year.
I also read How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, which pricklypear talked about in an earlier post. It was an easy book and I found it quite enjoyable.
The last book I've read so far is The Continuous Atonement by Brad Wilcox. I really liked this book. I liked how the author told stories to go along with the principles he was talking about. It helped me remember and understand what he was talking about.
Now onto the new movies I've seen this year. Well I saw The Help, which I enjoyed! And it really got me thinking about American history and racism and slavery and servitude. I would recommend this movie.
I watched Just My Luck with Chris Pine and Lindsay Lohan. It was okay. It is a chick flick but it was a little too cheesy for me. (Although I must say that Chris Pine has really beautiful blue eyes:)
The last new movie I've seen so far is War Horse. It was also only okay for me. Some of my friends really liked it, but it was a little too much for me. Too much of what, I'm not sure. Just something.
Well those are all of my reviews for now.