Thursday, October 20, 2016

Like This? Try These! #2

Time for another edition of my new series!  Meredith asked me what I'd recommend for fans of Les Miserables (2012), and that one was a bit challenging.  Here are my suggestions!

If you like Les Mis, with it's sweeping emotions, beautiful costumes, and poignant character arcs, not to mention all that gorgeous music, then you might like any of these:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) -- Also set in France, with lots of scenes involving people living on the streets and society's margins, this beautiful retelling of another novel by Victor Hugo (same guy who wrote the original Les Mis) involves a young and vibrant Gypsy (Maureen O'Hara) who seeks sanctuary in the Notre Dame cathedral.  She's persecuted by a lusting, vengeful creep (Cedric Hardwicke); pursued by a poor, idealistic writer (Edmund O'Brien); and championed by a despised, deformed bell-ringer (Charles Laughton).  (Family friendly for the most part, as the creep's lusting is subtext.  The bell-ringer's deformities are pretty startling, though, and this is not a film for young children.)

Oliver! (1968) -- This one takes place among the poor and downtrodden of London instead of Paris, with lots of fairly cheerful songs, but a good bit of darkness going on as well.  Orphaned Oliver Twist (Mark Lester) gets thrown out of the workhouse and must fend for himself on the streets.  He's taken in by a gang of pickpockets and thieves, among them the extremely nasty Bill Sykes (Oliver Reed) and his sweet streetwalker girlfriend Nancy (Shani Wallis).  (Also not for really young children, though Nancy's occupation is only hinted at.  There's a goodly bit of threatened and implied violence, though, including a murder.)

Evita (1996) -- Loosely based on the life of Eva Peron, wife of Argentinian dictator Juan Peron, this one is almost entirely sung, like Les Mis.  In it, a narrator (Antonio Banderas) relates the story of how a poor young outcast (Madonna) rises from obscurity to power and becomes regarded as a saint even though she's very much a sinner.  It's got lots of cool political intrigue and songs that alternately soar and growl.  (And this one's also not for young children.  Some mild language and a lot of innuendo, including scenes of unmarried people in bed, but no actual sex scenes.  Also some violence.)

What do you think?  What other movies would you recommend to someone who likes Les Mis?  Any other movies you'd like to see me do comparisons for?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Why Yes, It's Another Liebster Award!

Hey, guess what?  Constance and Diana of Silver Scenes nominated me for the Liebster!  Over a month ago.  Sigh.  I am STILL catching up on blog reading, tag responding, and so on.  But anyway, thanks for tagging me, ladies!  Here are my answers to your questions:

1. If you could travel back in time, which year would you travel back to? And why? 

Too many to choose from!  Do I go back to see John Gielgud perform Hamlet?  Do I go back to Shakespeare's day and see it performed with Shakespeare himself as the Ghost?  Do I go back to 1926 and convince Rudolph Valentino to go to the doctor for his ulcers so he doesn't die of peritonitis?  (If time-travel is possible, so is me convincing Valentino of something, obviously.)  Do I go to 1973 and remind Bobby Darin to take his antibiotics before he goes to the dentist so he doesn't get the infection that eventually stops his heart?  Or do I go to 1982 and, as an adult now, see my favorite movie on the big screen again?  I could visit the time of Christ, I could hang out with Jane Austen... I can't pick today.  Too many choices.

2. Who is your favorite underrated actor/actress? 

Is Alan Ladd underrated?  I feel like he is, but maybe he's more "under-remembered" than "underrated," as those who are familiar with his work do tend to appreciate him.  How about Armie Hammer?  I enjoy the heck outta a lot of his movies, but people kind of write him off as just another handsome guy.

(Which is not to say he's not a handsome guy, cuz yeah, he obviously is.)

3. What movie/television show do you enjoy as a guilty pleasure? (The program that you would never admit to anyone that you really like.) 

I get a kick out of Friends even though it's fluffy, mind-idling silliness.  I don't own it on DVD or anything, but if it happens to be on and I've got time to kill, I'll have fun hanging out with Joey and Phoebe.

4. Do you listen to old-time radio? If so, which is your favorite program? 

YES!  I absolutely love old-time radio.  Right now, I've been listening to lots of Alan Ladd's show, Box 13, but my favorite is probably The Six-Shooter, which starred James Stewart and had quite interesting plots.

(Do you suppose he dressed like this for every performance?)

5. How many hours do you spend staring at screens (computer/television/phone)? 

Probably between 1 and 4 a day.  That would be 1-2 hours of computer, scattered over the course of a day in little 5-15 minute chunks here and there, and then I watch a movie once or twice a week, so those days it would be more like 4.

6. If you could be mayor of your town what would be the first change you would make? 

I'd put up more "free-flowing right turn" signs, specifically on two corners where I regularly encounter people stopped when they don't need to be.

7. What is one subject/skill you feel all students should learn before they turn 20-years-old? 

How to do laundry by themselves.  It's ridiculous how many people turned up at college not knowing how to even sort their clothes, much less run a washing machine.

Good mama.

8. What would you like your obituary to read? ( Aside from "he/she died too soon" ) 

The beloved author of dozens of western novels, many of which were made into films starring Armie Hammer and Chris Hemsworth.  She leaves behind three children, nine grandchildren, and a rich literary legacy that will continue to delight and entertain for generations.

9. Which movie character do you feel the strongest bond with? To clarify, list which character you think is the most similar to yourself in nature and appearance. 

Lucy Eleanor Moderatz in While You Were Sleeping (1995).  As I said in my review of it, "If I was in her situation, family-less, basically friend-less, I would behave the way she does. I'd have a cat, I'd put up a Christmas tree just for me and the cat, I'd obligingly work on Christmas so people with families don't have to, I'd give a Christmas present to my landlord. I'd even wear my dad's old coat and sweaters just to feel connected to him. "  Also, we both have dark hair and eyes, and somewhat similar coloring maybe?

(But I haven't had bangs for 20 years now.)

10. What is your favorite classic television show? 

Finally, an easy one!  Combat! (1962-67).  In fact, I co-run a fansite dedicated to it, Fruit Salad.

(Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders in the foreground, slouchy and splendid as always.
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley is driving the Jeep, with... maybe Fletcher Fist?)

11. Do you watch classic British films? If not, ( shame on you! ) state why.

Um, maybe?  Does Monty Python and the Holy Grail count?  How about the James Bond films?  Oh!  I liked Kind Hearts and Coronets.  I've seen a few of Hitchcock's earlier films too, is that classic British film?

(They look sooooooo deceptively serious here.)

I'm not tagging anyone because, like I said the other day, I've been catching up on So Very Many tags this month that I don't want to wear out my welcome.  But these were fun questions to answer!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Like This? Try These! #1

I'm starting a new series today, 100% inspired by Jessica Prescott.  She's decided she's willing to try watching "old movies," but she doesn't know what she might like.  And that made me think that, hey, she might not be the only blogging friend I have who's interested in broadening their movie-watching horizons.  Plus, I love comparing things.

And so, I proudly present the first edition of "Like This?  Try These!"  For each post (and I make no claims of planning to post them on any kind of dependable schedule), I'll pair one modern or famous movie with several classic or lesser-known movies that remind me of it in some way.  And I'll elaborate on them a bit.  Sound fun?  I hope so!

If you like Tangled (2010), with its spunky heroine forming an unlikely alliance with someone of dubious intent, and the two of them having various adventures, then you might like any of these:

+ Roman Holiday (1953) -- Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) makes a royal visit to Rome.  She's tired of boring royal receptions and visits with dignitaries.  She longs to find out what life is like for regular folks that aren't princesses!  And she finds out, with the help of a newspaperman named Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck).  He at first plans to secretly write an expose of what sorts of mischief the princess got into while running around Rome incognito, but then... well, let's say Flynn Ryder doesn't have the monopoly on changes of heart.  (This one is family friendly! Unless your family doesn't approve of characters drinking wine and champagne, getting into mild and humorous fistfights, and I think we see a freshly bathed woman wearing nothing but a towel at one point.  Still, I consider it clean.)

Cat Ballou (1965) -- A young woman (Jane Fonda) whose father has been murdered by wild west baddies seeks to revenge his death, so she enlists the help of ne'er-do-well gunfighter Kid Shelleen (Lee Marvin).  Quite a bit of western silliness ensues, but also a pretty heartwarming story of two outcasts helping each other out.  (This one has some mild profanity, western-style violence, drunkenness, and a bit of low-level innuendo.)

+ Romancing the Stone (1984) -- Famous romance novelist Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) sets out to rescue her kidnapped sister from the clutches of Colombian criminals who want to exchange said sister for a treasure map.  Joan teams up with snarky adventurer Jack Colton (Michael Douglas), who agrees to help her if he can share in the treasure, that sort of thing.  (This one has quite a bit of profanity, an implied sexual encounter, some violence, and innuendo here and there.)

So... have you seen any of these?  Do you have other recommendations of similar movies about adventurous heroines and their unlikely helpers?  What do you think of this idea?  And do you have any movies you'd like to see me try to match up for another edition of this series?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Blogger Recognition Award

How sweet is this?  Miss March of Sunshiny Corner and The Elf of Willawa have both nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award!  Thank you both :-)  I am honored.

The Rules:
-Thank the blogger who nominated you.
-Tell a little bit about how you started blogging.
-Give two pieces of advice for new bloggers.
-Nominate 15 other bloggers.

Fourteen Years -- Don't They Go By in a Blink

I started blogging 14 years ago this month.  I was 22 years old, had been married for four months, and had graduated from college the previous spring.  I was holding down my first full-time job and reading all the books I'd been wanting to read during college but never had time for.  Good times!  One day, I picked up a newspaper in my workplace's lunch room and read an article about these new things called "web logs" or "blogs" that had started cropping up on the internet.  Lots of people were experimenting with them, using them a lot like online journals that could be shared with other people.  The article mentioned several sites where you could get your own blog for free, and I copied down that list and decided to look into all this.  Hey, I was a writer, I had things to say, and other people might even want to read them!  Sounded like fun.

My first years of blogging are very much like keeping an online journal.  If you read back through those very old posts (and I'm not suggesting you do that, because 22-year-old me was kind of pretentious sometimes), you won't find me writing book and movie reviews as we think of them today. It's a lot of me just nattering about whatever I was into at the moment and felt like typing up a paragraph or two about.  Which I still do to some extent, but my posts are a leeeetle more structured now.  Also, back then you couldn't add photos easily, and I didn't know enough HTML to add them the hard way, so my old posts all look really blah to me now, lol.

If You Take My Advice...

Giving advice is tricky, isn't it?  I don't know what you, newer blogger, want to know about blogging!  My best piece of advice is to follow links.  If you've found a blog you enjoy, see if they have a list of blogs they like.  Most bloggers do, either in a sidebar (scroll on down a ways and you'll see such a list here on my blog, and a totally different set on my book blog) or on a dedicated page.  If you like their blog, chances are you might like some of the blogs they enjoy.  Also, when a blogger you admire does a tag like this and tags a bunch of other bloggers, see if they provided links to those blogs, because you might like those as well.

Then study the blogs you enjoy, figure out what you like about them.  Do you like their content, their writing style, their layout, the way they answer comments?  Learn from them!  Don't copy them.  Figure out how to make your own blog something that interests you.  Do you love reading movie reviews?  Write up your thoughts on a movie!  Do you love reading book reviews?  Review one!  Do you like bloggers who share deep thoughts on meaty subjects?  Figure out what you think about things yourself, and share.

And the Nominees Are:

Anyone who wants to do this tag.  I've been doing a ton of tags lately, and I don't want to wear out my welcome by tagging lots of people constantly.  If you're looking for something to post about, or you have blogging advice you want to share, consider yourself tagged!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Liebster on a Deserted Island

Kate Gabrielle at Silents and Talkies answered my Liebster Award questions a while back, and she posed such fun questions herself that I've answered hers in return! I first answered them in her comments, but I had such a good time with them that I've decided to post them here too so I can illustrate them :-D

1. If you were stuck on a desert island with one actor, who would you pick? 

 John Wayne. He probably brought lots of books with him, so we wouldn't be bored for a long time. Also, he did know how to do a fair number of useful things like fishing and sailing a boat. Also, except when drinking, he was a quiet guy, so it's not like I'd be super annoyed by some chatterbox.

2. If you were stuck on a desert island with one actress, who would you pick? (Note - this is not necessarily your favorite actor/actress, but someone you'd want to spend months, years, possibly the rest of your life eating coconuts and building sandcastles with)

 Emma Thompson! She is such an intelligent, fascinating, funny person.

3. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only watch one movie on repeat for the rest of your life, which would you pick? 

Branagh's Hamlet (1996), as it's 4 hours long, and I always notice new things to think about when I watch it (well, that's true of all Hamlet adaptations, even bad ones, but his is longest, so hey, it would kill more time.)

4. If you were stuck on a desert island with any movie character, who would you pick? 

Illya Kuryakin, as played by Armie Hammer in The Man from UNCLE (2015).  I feel certain we would survive, and have fun doing so.

5. If you could watch a movie with any two actors/actresses stuck on a desert island together, who would you pick? If you've got some free time, elaborate a bit on the plot! 

Well, I would happily watch a movie in which Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) and Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) are stuck on a desert island. I expect that they were on a top secret mission to board an enemy submarine and rescue a kidnapped dignitary, but it went horribly awry, and now they've washed up on a deserted island with nothing but each other and their witty wits. Much bickering ensues, along with both Illya and Solo one-upping each other with their survival skills. All goes relatively well until Solo's surprise dessert of bananas en flambe sets all the banana trees on fire (for a special agent, Solo's not having a very special day), but that serves as a beacon for Mr. Waverly to rescue them with his helicopter. Gaby has already rescued the dignitary while the boys were stuck on the island, but she's very happy to have them back because their next mission is in the Arctic and she's not very good at driving dogsleds.

6. Who is the last actor you would ever want to be stuck on a desert island with (cough, Tyrone Power, cough)?

Colin Farrell. Gag.

7. You're stuck on a desert island with Edmund O'Brien. What actor shows up in a giant pirate ship to whisk you away to safety and/or a life of adventure on the high seas? 

Alan Ladd.  Obviously.  And I'll opt for the life of adventure on the high seas, thank you!

8. If you were stuck on a desert island with a movie cook, who would you choose -- Felix from Christmas in Connecticut or Mildred from Mildred Pierce? Who would make the most out of all the coconuts and tree bark? 

Felix :-D

9. If you were stuck on a desert island with me, what movie would you force me to watch? I can't get away! I can't escape! I HAVE TO WATCH IT! 

Haha! How about Branagh's Hamlet since I already have it with me?

10. You're on a life raft with Herbert Marshall, Joel McCrea and Laraine Day but your weight is sinking the raft. Do you: a) sacrifice yourself to save these three amazing actors or b) push one of them into the water. If you chose b, who did you push and why?! 

Save Joel McCrea! DKoren would never forgive me if I didn't. I probably would just jump overboard and swim to some other bits of wreckage.

11.If you could choose any movie animal to be stuck on an island with, who would you pick? Some ideas -- Asta, Lassie, Pongo, Perdita, The Pie, Cat (from Breakfast at Tiffany's) 

The Black Stallion. Every time.  The original book is the whole reason I'm obsessed with deserted islands!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Micro Movie Reviews

Last night, I was opining to my best friend that I've been trying to write a review of Captain America:  Civil War for a couple of months now, and it's just not working because I can't seem to find a good balance for it -- I could either write 50 words about it, or 5,000.  She laughed and agreed that was a problem, then asked what my 50-words-or-less review would be, anyway.  Which led to me writing tiny reviews of a whole bunch of movies I've watched over the past few months that I haven't reviewed here.  Most of them I've only seen once, and am waiting to see again before I review them.  But here, just for fun, are my micro reviews of seven movies.

At first, I didn't like this movie at all. Then I saw it three more times, and now I love it. You should see it too. Also, I finally got the Spider-man I've always wanted. The End.

I didn't hate this as much as I expected to. Chris Pratt made me laugh.  I wanted to punch the bad guy repeatedly so he'd land in the hospital and not annoy me anymore.

Alicia Vikander is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses. Sometimes I even stopped staring at Matt Damon long enough to notice she was in this movie. Also, Tommy Lee Jones needs some hugs, but am I really brave enough to offer him one?

Who cast Oscar Isaac as a bad guy and then covered up his handsomeness with so much paint and prosthetics that he could barely speak, much less act? And who said it was okay to make me cry over Magneto multiple times?

Why am I continually surprised by how much I like Marvel's movies? You'd think I'd have learned by now. I didn't see this until after Civil War, which was lame of me -- don't be like me! See this.

So much fun, I want to go read the books now. There's not much higher praise I can give a movie. I did not expect to totally, thoroughly dig it. But seriously, who tells Tom Cruise to put a shirt on? Get real, people.

Is this over yet? Oh, we're smashing more buildings? Didn't we smash that one already?  Guess not.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Five Favorite Couples Tag

So like two months ago, Olivia tagged me with this and I am only now catching up on reading blogs, which I abandoned due to chronic busyness about two months ago.  Ahem.  So here, at last, are my answers!

Psych!  I'm not choosing any of these couples for this tag.
But I do like all of them.

1.) Pick one couple from each category
2.) Tagging is optional
3.) Link back to my site

1.) Period Drama Couple
2.) Sci-Fi/Fantasy Couple
3.) Superhero Couple
4.) Preferred Couple (from a love triangle)
5.) Couple Ended Too Soon

Please note:  There Will Be Spoilage!

Period Drama Couple

I'm going with Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) and Esther (Haya Harareet) from Ben-Hur (1959) because their romance actually grows and changes through the story, as they change and grow themselves.  She's his servant, daughter of his steward, and at first, Judah just sees her as someone attractive and available.  But then later, she helps him heal emotionally, leads him to Christ, and in the process, he comes to see her as a person and not just a cute chick.  I love these two so much, both in book and this film version, that if we had another kid, I would name it either Esther or Judah.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Couple

Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Rachel Weiscz) from The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001).  Definitely.  They're one of my favorite married movie couples, ranking right up there with Nick and Nora Charles from the Thin Man franchise.  In fact, I think Rick and Evie have one of the most positive marriages portrayed in modern movies -- by the time of The Mummy Returns, they are married and have a kid... and they still like each other, love each other, enjoy each others' company, make a great parenting team, and yeah... I'm a fan.

Superhero Couple

I'm going with Rogue/Marie (Anna Paquin) and Iceman/Bobby (Shawn Ashmore) from the X-Men franchise for this one.  Rogue has been one of my favorite X-men characters since before I saw the movies, and over the course of four films, her relationship with Iceman has matured very naturally.  They have a very caring, sweet relationship, and when Rogue popped up at the end of Days of Future Past (2014) holding Iceman's hand, well, there was only one thing that was going to make me (and Wolverine) happier than that sight.

Preferred Couple (from a love triangle)

Cal Wayne (Bobby Darin) and Amy Martin (Emily Banks) from Gunfight in Abilene (1967).  When Cal returns from the Civil War, he discovers that he'd been reported dead a couple of years earlier.  His girl, Amy, is now engaged to his best friend's older brother, Grant Evers (Leslie Nielson).  And that just won't do, because Cal and Amy belong together, people.

Couple Ended Too Soon

Who but Gabriel (Heath Ledger) and Anne (Lisa Brenner) in The Patriot (2000) for this?  I must admit I haven't managed to watch this movie since Heath died, but I do still love it dearly, and I hope I'll be able to watch it again one day.  Be that as it may, the tragic shortness of Gabriel and Anne's marriage is one of the most difficult parts of the film.