Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Reviews?

I used to review books on my Huggermugger blog.  I don't think it fit well there with the other content of that blog, so I quit, but now I miss reviewing books.  Should I do them here?  Or resurrect my writing blog?  Anyone have any opinions on this?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 30 - Your favorite film of all time

I have had the same favorite movie since I was two years old:  The Man from Snowy River (1982).

Yes, I really have had the same favorite movie for nearly 30 years.  I have never seen another movie that I loved more than this one.  Why?  It's not the best movie I've ever seen.  It's not the first movie I ever saw.  But I love it dearly.

The Man from Snowy River is inspired by a poem of the same name by A.B. "Banjo" Patterson, who is sort of the national poet of Australia.  He also wrote "Waltzing Matilda," the unofficial Australian national anthem.  I love the poem too, it flows magnificently and is really easy to memorize -- without trying, I've learned the first couple stanzas, and maybe one of these days I'll go ahead and learn the whole thing, which you can read here.

Tom Burlinson as Jim Craig, the Man from Snowy River himself
The movie is about a young man from the mountains, Jim Craig (Tom Burlinson), whose father is killed in an accident while trying to catch some "brumbies" (aka wild horses) to break and sell.  Jim can't make a living in the mountains on his own, so he has to hire out down in the flat country.  He winds up working for Mr. Harrison (Kirk Douglas), an American who made a fortune in Australia and is now a wealthy rancher.  Turns out Harrison has a twin brother called "Spur" (also Kirk Douglas) who was good friends with Jim's father, but is bitter enemies with Mr. Harrison.  And then, of course, Harrison has a beautiful, headstrong daughter named Jessica (Sigrid Thornton).
Sigrid Thornton as Jessica Harrison 
Jim and Jessica are attracted to each other, both being young and attractive, but of course it would never do for the boss's daughter to fall in love with the lowliest hired hand, right?  Anyway, Jim gets accused of stealing a very important horse and gets thrown off the place.  The horse has actually run away and joined the same bunch of brumbies that killed Jim's father.  The movie culminates with a glorious twenty-minute segment about lots of horsemen chasing down the brumbies to try to get Harrison's colt back.  Jim comes along, invited by crack drover Clancy (Jack Thompson) over Harrison's protests.  And, of course, no one can ride in the mountains like a born mountain man...

Jim Craig chasing the brumbies down the mountainside
I first saw it in the theater when I was two, and according to my parents, I loved it immediately.  From then on, one of my favorite things to play with my dad was "Jim and Jessica," which reportedly just involved Dad being the horse and me being Jim and riding around my room.

Jim and Jessica taking a break from riding around in the mountains
When VHS and VCRs were invented a few years later, this was one of the first movies my parents rented because I was still so nuts about it.  My mom had found the sheet music and would play the main theme for me every once in a while, and one time when they rented the video, she used a tape recorder to make me a recording of the opening and closing music.  On that tape, if you listen very closely, you can hear a little girl asking repeatedly, "When are the horsies coming?  When are the horsies coming?"

(Disney made a sequel in 1988.  I'm not a fan.)

The very first CD I ever bought was the soundtrack for this movie.  I've had the piano version of the main theme memorized since I was eleven.  I can replay the entire film in my head, word for word and shot for shot, any time.  I simply, absolutely, unreservedly adore it.

Burlinson and Thornton in 2009 reprising the iconic shot above.
But why do I love it?  I think by this point, it's mostly because I have seen it so often, I am best friends with all the characters, in a way.  Partly, it's because it inspired a life-long love of horses and Australia.  This movie has so many themes that resonate with me:  false accusations, forbidden love, proving yourself when others doubt your abilities... do I love the movie because of those themes, or do I love those themes because of this movie?  At this point, there's no way I can know.

In the end, I don't think I can really explain why I love this movie more than all others.  I just do.

And here endeth this movie meme!  Took me long enough, huh?  :-)

Jim Craig one more time cuz I love him.  And his hat.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Day 29 - Favorite film from your childhood

This is hard to answer, because my favorite film when I was a kid is still my favorite film, and so I'll blog about it next time.  So what should I blog about today?  A movie I loved as a kid that I don't care so much for now?  Except I can't really think of any of those either.  I tend to befriend movie characters and then always enjoy their company.

Well, here's a movie we watched all the time as kids:  The Lone Ranger (1956).  We got it from the library as often as our folks would let us, so often that I still have most of the dialog memorized.  And any actor who was in that movie, I generally think of by their character's name, not their own.  I think of Lyle Bettger as 'Killgore,' I think of Perry Lopez as 'Pete Ramirez,' and I absolutely can never remember Robert Wilke's name because to me, he is always 'Cassidy.'  The only character actor that escapes this issue is Michael Ansara, mostly because he's just so doggone awesome in everything, not just this.  But I've been known to refer to myself by his character's name, 'Angry Horse,' because it's a completely great name.

Anyway, I talked about the Lone Ranger TV show here, so I won't say much more now.

And yeah, I know they're supposed to make a new movie version, with Johnny Depp as Tonto.  I'm reserving judgment for now.  I love me some Johnny Depp, but this is a big part of my childhood, so if they screw it up... I shudder to think.