Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Song Says it All

I was just at the orthodontist’s office, waiting for my younger daughter, and caught this funny scene from The Sandlot.  A group of boys in the 1960’s take a break from the baseball diamond to cool off in the pool.  Check out how perfectly the music fits the scene!

PS.  You can see the scene works very well with the swear words edited out, so it’s really too bad this great kids movie has so many of them.

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Stars of Les Mis Sing Live at the Academy Awards!

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Watch it Here!

We are fans of Les Miserables at our house (actually, my husband only tolerates it.) So my teenaged daughters and I were happy to see this medley performed live by the actors at the Oscars!

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February 25, 2013 · 5:37 pm

Did You Read the Book First? Safe Haven

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Nicholas Sparks has a formula for his books, and we love him for it!  A beautiful but damaged woman meets a handsome but troubled man in an enchanting southern town. They overcome obstacles, and have a happy ending.

Safe Haven is the latest to make it to the big screen.  It is well done, with one big exception!

Acting:  Josh Duhamel is spot-on as loving dad Alex who begins to be open to a new love in his life. Watch his expressions! Julianne Hough, as Katie, shows that fear is always just below the surface.  The kids are ideal, Noah Lomax as the wary son and Mimi Kirkland as the adoring daughter!

Wardrobe:  Did you notice how Alex starts the movie wearing ratty t-shirts, then as his awareness of Katie grows, he attempts to wear better casual clothing.  Katie, however, has no money and few possessions, so I had expected to see the same clothing more often.  And would she-who-has-been-damaged-by-men really buy a tiny bikini for her day at the beach?

Location:  Makes me want to go on vacation in North Carolina.

Sex:  There was none in the book between Alex and Katie, so why did they put it in the movie?  The anticipation was part of the charm, and timing, of the novel, which could have been transferred to the big screen just as well.

Did you see it?  Did you read the book first?  What do you think?

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Presidents and …. Zombies?!?

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I like historical movies – old movies, historic romances like Sense and Sensibility, war movies like Saints and Soldiers.

Some of my favorite TV shows have also been historical:

Voyagers (1982-1983), in which Jon-Erik Hexum and Meeno Peluce are time travelers that “fix” things, as in the episode that they kept Thomas Alva Edison from giving up on the light bulb.

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992-1993), in which Corey Carrier and Sean Patrick Flanery play Indiana Jones as he travels the world with his family and on his own, meeting and interacting with famous people, as when he was a reluctant WWI aerial photographer and met up with The Red Baron.

Warehouse 13 (2009- ), in which secret government agents search for historical artifacts that have magical powers, like driftwood from the Titanic, which can freeze people on contact.

So in honor of President’s Day, my husband and I watched a historical movie involving a president.

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012).  On the eve of his Gettysburg address, Lincoln (Bill Oberst Jr) leads his secret service men to a Confederate fort that is surrounded by a town of zombies.  From experience (his mother was a zombie), Lincoln knows that zombies are waken from their walking slumber by loud noises, and can only be killed by a shot to the head or, his preferred method, beheading.

Not to be confused with the recent Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter (2012), this is a lower budget ode to famous people in history while keeping true to zombie films.  You have to suspend disbelief – the president is allowed to risk his life at a time of war?  Are General Stonewall Jackson, future cowboy Pat Garrett, young Theodore Roosevelt, actor John Wilkes Booth really all in this fort at the same time?

Yes, it’s cheesy, but it’s fun to catch all the historical references, as when the lady says this to Lincoln before turning into a zombie:  Few will note, nor long remember what we say here, but they’ll never forget what we’ve done.  And now, it’s for you, the living, to finish this work.”  When Lincoln slices off a zombie’s head he utters “Emancipate this!”  Funny!

Two supporting actors are not good actors, the facial hair is atrocious, there is not much suspense because the zombies are always where you expect them to be (behind you – look behind you!), and the women are either zombies or shrews or prostitutes (if you are under attack by zombies, wouldn’t you wear some more practical clothes?).

But when he is not slashing zombies or running from explosions, Lincoln’s character is just as I would expect him to be.  The language is clean, the special effects are decent, the soundtrack is quality.  Fun movie!

What are your favorite historic, or slightly historic, movies?

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Big Screen, Small Screen, or Tiny Screen?

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My teenaged daughters and I got to see a great old movie on the big screen this weekend, as a part of Reading Cinema’s Forty Foot Films series in San Diego.

Roman Holiday (1953) is the story of a young princess (Audrey Hepburn) on an extended diplomatic tour of Europe who suddenly cannot stand one more royal parade or gloved handshake or polite dance with old members of the nobility. She sneaks out and spends the day in Rome pretending to be a regular girl, accompanied by two men who take her around the sites.  She is unaware that Gregory Peck is a newspaper man who knows who she really is and will sell her story the next day for $5000.  His friend, played by Eddie Albert, is a photographer who is documenting her adventure with a camera hidden in a cigarette lighter.  Fun and romantic!

Movies are so much better on the big screen!  And don’t even try to get me to watch anything more than YouTube videos on a tiny iPod Touch screen.  I’ve only seen this movie on a regular TV screen, and caught so many more details and nuances while watching in the theater.

Faces:  This is Audrey Hepburn’s first American movie, and she is young and poised, with perfect eyes and makeup, but has not yet had her teeth fixed.  You can actually see her smile improving at different times during the film (she must have been undergoing orthodontic procedures while shooting).  Gregory Peck can express so much with just his eyes, something else you miss on the small screen.

Set Design:  The props and set decorations are very carefully thought out.  By the courtyard door in Gregory Peck’s apartment is a small table with a statue of a face with an open mouth.  Only in the movie theater did I catch that it is Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth) which foreshadows that terrific scene when the friends dare each other to put their hands in the real Mouth of Truth.

Location:  Rome!  How can you capture the grandeur and glamour and grittiness that is Italy on the small screen?  You can’t!

Do you have any favorite movies that you simply must watch on the big screen?

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Teachers in the Movies

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As a former high school teacher, I don’t like watching movies or TV shows that take place in high schools, because they typically get it all wrong!  I wonder if cops feel the same way when watching police films, or if lawyers feel annoyed watching courtroom dramas?

An example of a movie that gets teaching wrong, but still is a fun movie:

Here Comes the Boom (2012)  To raise money to prevent music and other extra classes from being cut from his high school, a biology teacher (Kevin James) begins to compete as a mixed-martial arts fighter, because even the losers get prize money.  At PG, it is safe to bring anyone to see this movie – your mother, your children, your Sunday school teacher – because there is very little bad language, the violence during the fights does not result in gushing blood or even much bruising, the kissing is brief, no alcohol or drugs, and all amoral behavior gets brought to justice, or the individuals see the error of their ways and fix things.  Fun movie!

But portraying teachers, they get many things wrong.  Biology teacher Scott Voss (Kevin James) is late to first period and gets caught climbing in through the window by Principal Betcher (Greg Germann), who gives him bus duty and takes away vacation days as a punishment.  Yes, bus duty can be a punishment in real life, but teachers do not get vacation days!  The days they don’t teach (winter and spring break, summer vacation) are days they don’t get paid for.

Henry Winkler plays the gentle band instructor (Marty Streb) who supports Kevin James in his quest to win money to save music at the school, but he doesn’t conduct correctly.  If you are a musician, just close your eyes during shots of him with the baton, because he gets the rest of the band teacher character right.

Kevin James relies on school nurse Bella Flores, played by Salma Hayek, to bandage him up at school, and she even comes to his home one evening to pull his shoulder back into it’s socket.  It’s a funny scene, but not realistic.  For one, how many schools still have a full-time nurse on staff?  And two, teachers have medical benefits, and wouldn’t need someone to treat their injuries in their spare time.  But, the shoulder scene is needed to move the characters along, so I’ll forgive that!

Are there any films that unrealistically portray your profession?  Does it matter?

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Football Movies for Super Bowl Week

We are not football fans at our house.  We go to all the high school home football games because it’s where my girls attend, and because our school wins.  Our girls go to Super Bowl parties with the church youth group every year, and if we aren’t going to a party, my husband and I will watch the game at home.  Because it’s the Super Bowl, and as Americans, it’s a requirement!

Here are some football movies to watch when the Big Game isn’t on:

Timeline (2012)  My favorite Super Bowl commercial from last year is actually a brilliant short film!  Did you catch that the yard line numbers are actually years?  Do you see when the Rams get their helmet design?

Remember the Titans (2000) The true story of the 1971 integration of a Virginia high school football team.  When Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) takes the team at night to one site of the Battle of Gettysburg and gives them a speech, it gives me chills – powerful stuff!

The Blind Side (2009)  True story of an African-American teen, Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) adopted by a Caucasian family headed by Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock).  Is it only because of his football abilities, or do they really care about him?  And why does the costume designer make Sandra Bullock wear such tight clothing?  Good movie!

Brian’s Song (1971) Real life 1960’s Chicago Bears players Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) become friends, even though they are different races, and even though **spoiler alert** one gets cancer.  I read the book first, and cried, then watched the movie and wasn’t as moved.

The Game Plan (2007)  Dwayne Johnson is a quarterback loving his bachelor life when a little girl (Madison Pettis) “adopts” him.  Cute movie!  Lots of Elvis references, with The Rock even singing, ”Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

What are your favorite football movies?

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