Monthly Archives: February 2014

Pompeii: It’s All About Power

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Pompeii (2014 PG-13) may seem to be a love story set during a volcano eruption.  But actually the movie is about power.  Power, and many fight scenes between men with lots of muscles.

Here is a list of the players, from most powerful to least:

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Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland) as the senator from Rome, is the most powerful person. He uses his power to force a girl to agree to marry him.

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Proculus (Sasha Roiz) also is powerful as Corvus’ highest ranking Roman soldier. But he only gets to show his power in protecting Corvus. We never know what he wants for himself.

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Severus (Jared Harris) and Aurelia (Carrie-Anne Moss) are the power couple of Pompeii, a successful businessman pitching a construction project to Senator Corvus. He must adapt to Corvus’ wishes, even if it means giving his unwilling daughter in marriage.

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Daughter Cassia (Emily Browning) holds power over her servant Ariadne (Jessica Lucas), but in their relationship Ariadne is more like a supportive friend.

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Graecus (Joe Pingue, not pictured) is in charge of the entertainment and bosses around Bellator (Currie Graham, not pictured), who is in charge of keeping the gladiators ready to fight. Yet when Graceus brings a problem to businessman Severus, he is commanded to put on the show anyway.

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Those with the least power are the ones who were stolen from their families and raised to fight. This is their story. Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is about to age out of fighting, after one more fight with Milo (Kit Harington). The action turns when these two decide not to be powerless any more, and to decide their own fate.

If you’ve ever had someone boss you around, or if you’ve ever been kept from doing something you want, then you can relate in a small way with most of the characters in this movie.  And, in the movie, the bad guys lose.  Fun movie!

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Airplane! Is it Still Funny?

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Airplane! (1980 PG) is one of the first spoof movies.  This comedy makes fun of current fads and all sorts of disaster movies.  Now, it would probably be PG-13.  Is it still funny today?

Years ago I first saw Airplane! at a sleepover with a bunch of junior high friends.  I remember it was unlike movies I was used to, like The Love Bug and Star Wars.  I laughed because I thought that mature people would laugh, not because I really thought it was funny.

When my husband and I watched it recently, I wondered if I would think it was funny now that I’m an adult, and presumably would understand all the jokes.  Here’s what I found:

1.  It’s fun noting how airports and air travel have changed.

I remember holding on tightly to my dad’s hand while walking past the strange religious people at the airport.  Airplane! spoofs their zeal.

2.  Airplane!  spoofed other movies, and is spoofed in movies even today.

Airplane! spoofs Saturday Night Fever, and then gets spoofed by Elf.

3.  The dialogue is truly funny!

What is it?  Don’t call me Shirley!  All together.

I love the extreme disaster music, too.  Don’t call me Shirley.

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The Lego Movie: A Special Guest Review

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We watched The Lego Movie (2014 PG) with my sister and her daughters.  The girls (ages 3 to adult) review it for you!

What did you like best about The Lego Movie? “Everything, because everything was awesome!” “By taking everyone to jail, um, that’s good.”  “I liked the twist at the end.” “I liked the message in the movie which taught that everyone is special in their own way. You just have to believe in yourself.”

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How could the movie be better?  ” I would have liked a little more back story behind the beginning.” “Nothing, it’s already amazing.”  “Needs better jokes for older people.” “The movie would’ve been better if the universe was on it’s own and Will Ferrell and the kid didn’t control their world.”

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Who would like this movie?  All of us agreed that anyone who loves playing with Legos, or has built things with them in the past would really like this movie.  Also Will Farrell fans, and adults with a good sense of humor.

Thanks for taking the time to give this review!

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Shirley Temple: Two Films You Must See

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Shirley Temple is a rare example of a child star who also has quality teen roles and a successful adult life away from film.  Here are my favorite films of hers, from her childhood and teen years.

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The Little Princess (1939) stars ten-year-old Shirley Temple as Sara, the daughter of a wealthy British officer who leaves her at a girls boarding school while he goes off to fight the Second Boer War in 1899. The strict school mistress is more impressed with Sara’s wealth than her pleasant personality.  Sara is generous and friends with everyone, even the servant girl.

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During Sara’s lavish birthday party, the school mistress receives word that her father is missing in action and his wealth has been confiscated.  Immediately Sara is forced to return all the gifts, give all her possessions to the other students to help pay for her room and board, and is sent to sleep in the cold attic and live as a servant.  (Start at 4:38)

Watch her amazing acting ability as the days go by and she grows tired and hungry.  Her spirit crumbles and she yearns to take that apple from the dresser of the snobby girl who enjoys seeing her suffer.  Her only friend is the other servant girl, and the Indian servant from the neighboring home.

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Shirley Temple is an accomplished dancer and singer, and in this movie she shows her ballet talent in a dream sequence in which she is a little princess, hence the title.

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Sara does not believe her father is dead, and wanders around the veteran’s hospital looking for anyone who knows her father.  These scenes at the hospital show the excellence in directing by Walter Lang.  Watch and admire how he shows the pride and pain in these British soldiers, the honor and reverence towards visiting Queen Victoria, and the frantic search as time is running out.  And when the school mistress realizes she will have to answer for how she treated Sara, her final scene is simple and perfect.

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In The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) Shirley Temple plays teenager Susan.  In reality, Shirley was 19 and married!  But this comedy is still funny after all these years, and we get to see gorgeous Shirley Temple acting as the straight man against frantic love-interest Cary Grant and serious big sister Myrna Loy.

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Susan is clearly too young for Richard (Cary Grant), but a psychologist convinces Richard to play along with her fantasy until it fades.  Watch Richard and Susan at the high school basketball game.

Now Richard has decided to play along, and even adapts some teen clothing styles and lingo.  Susan is delighted!  Her big sister Margaret, not really.

Eventually Susan realizes that she likes high school boys, and Richard realizes he loves Margaret, and all is well.  Fun movie!  Talented actress!

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The Monuments Men: A Cheerful War Movie

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Don’t get me wrong.  War is horrible.  Good people die needlessly, countries are left in ruins, evil people do horrid things.  The Monuments Men (2014 PG-13) has all that.  But the audience feels hopeful goodwill towards the characters in this movie.  There is no overriding sense of death as in The Book Thief (2013), or sense of horror over man’s inhumanity as in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008), or the devastation in the trenches of battle as in Saving Private Ryan (1998).  You leave the theater feeling, well, cheerful.

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Based on the book of the same name by Robert M. Edsel, The Monuments Men follows a small team of aging art specialist tasked with protecting great works of art in Europe towards the end of World War 2.  Protect them from what, you may ask.  Allied bombs and advancing American tanks all wreck havoc on paintings and statues in ancient buildings.  Nazi’s have stolen art from the homes of Jewish families.  Hitler wants a huge art museum with all the greatest artworks of Europe.  Churches are looted at gunpoint of their statues and paintings.

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The team played by George Clooney (who also directed), Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and young translator Dimitri Leonidas do a great job portraying the challenges they face.  Cate Blanchett is the French woman with inside information she may or may not be willing to share.

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I recently read The Girl You Left Behind, a novel by Jojo Moyes. It takes a painting, titled The Girl You Left Behind, and reveals the story of how it started in France during World War 1 and ended up in England today. There weren’t Nazis in WWI, but even then Germans helped themselves to art in occupied France. Wonderful book!

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Good movie about a forgotten part of history!

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Stand With Me: A Movie with Purpose

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Young Vivienne sees photographer Lisa Kristine‘s image of two young boys who are modern day slaves, and her heart breaks.  With her family’s support, she decides to raise money to help free child slaves by selling lemonade.  Two filmmakers, Grant Peelle and Patrick Moreau, hear about her story and are compelled to document her journey.

Their documentary, Stand With Me (2014), is on limited release to theaters, and available for DVD pre-order.

Watch the trailer, and I know you will be touched by the passion of everyone involved.  People are inspired to help make a difference, just as Vivienne is.

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Stand With Me directors (from left) Grant Peelle and Patrick Moreau, with me in the middle.

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Hollywood Romance in a Corset: Somewhere In Time

Hollywood has always loved a good costume romance.

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Jane Seymore is a natural for period movies, and glows in Somewhere In Time (1980 PG) as a 1912 theater star managed by controlling Christopher Plummer (who also is a natural for period movies.)

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In the present (1980, I guess), an old woman comes up to theater critic Christopher Reeve and says, “Return to me.”  Somehow he determines that she is the older version of the 1912 theater star.

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Reeve uses vintage clothing to help him time travel back to Jane and 1912.  Wouldn’t you?

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When in 1912, Reeve moves differently in the restrictive clothing style of the time, and is aware of his social status in ways that contemporary garments do not impose on him.

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But he still gets the girl to fall in love with him.

Fun, romantic movie!

What is your favorite romantic costume film?

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