Friday, July 27, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation (Cinematically Speaking)

We're just a few weeks away from the first day of school.  We've had a great summer--probably the first one in years that hasn't been stuffed to the gills with places to be and people to see.  The guys have gone on a few "Man-Cations" (spearfishing and camping) and that has left me home to tend the chickens and pets and do what I love best---catch up on "my" movies.  I say "my movies" because no one in this household is laying claim to them (at least the majority of them). 

 I really loved Birdsong.  It's based on the book, by the same author that did "Charlotte Gray".  Eddie Redmayne is normally not my idea of a leading man, but give it some time.  You'll be swooning for his Stephen's devotion to Isabelle.  Heartbreakingly lovely in every way.  I thought about it constantly when it was over, and that's the sign of some major soul-impact.

  Oooooh....I normally don't watch the Masterpiece Mystery selections.  This one was recommended by a friend and I'm so glad I gave it a go.  Most all of the twists were unexpected for me.  I went to Barnes and Noble to buy the book.  I could only find it in mass-market paperback.  Yeah, right.  Maybe Amazon has it for real.


This is a quirky story about a struggling family, a crisis at the National Gallery of Art, and a possible romance between a stuffy museum guy and a free spirited teacher who rides bicycles everywhere.  Takes place in Wales with lots of kooky characters.

A group of Jews, thrown together in Auschwitz, decide to hold a mock trial against God, who seemingly is the only one responsible for their misery.  I couldn't get into this one at all.  It all felt very contrived and I'm thinking, "Ummm...what about the Nazis?  Try blaming them."


Not horrible, but definately not my favorite Dickens adaption.  I hate when the villians are TOO villianous, and that's what happens in this one.  They may as well have put a handlebar mustache on Quilp and had him tie up Nell to railroad tracks.  There was way to much skulking around, laughing diabolically, and well, I just thought, "Nobody is THAT mean."

Okay.  This one more than made up for The Old Curiosity Shop.  Talk about swooning--Pip Pip Hooray.  I wasn't too keen on the casting for Stella, but she grew on me.  This one is pure joy.  I want to own it.

My bookclub and I went to see Moonrise Kingdom at the old Tampa Theatre.  I giggled through the entire film.  The cast is amazing.  The set design is a dream. Frances McDormand is the queen of independent films.  My Ed Norton did a great job in the lead.  But the kids really stole the show.  If you liked "Little Miss Sunshine", you'll love Moonrise Kingdom.

For the third or fourth time.  Never gets old, kid.

We saw this one restored on 35mm as part of the Summer Classic Movie Series.  At first, I was like "Classic?".  Then I realized it's been 22 years since it came out.  How in the heck?

Coco Before Chanel is a little French movie that oozes style, elegance and independence of spirit.  I loved Audrey Tatou in "Amelie" and here she is all grown up.  The costumes are phenomenal and won an Oscar.  You will love learning about Gabrielle "Coco" before she became an icon.

I don't have perspective because I have not quite gotten to watching "Inspector Morse" on PBS as I've been meaning to.  However, Endeavour (Morse's first name) is a prequel to the series.  Set in Oxford, this one was a mystery of the murder of a high school girl and it kept me interested until the last second.

Wept buckets.  So much going on here.  So many story lines, but mainly it revolves around the lives of Jamaican citizens, some of which come over to fight in the name of England in WWII and afterward are shunned by society because they are "black".  There's romance everywhere, lots of twists.  Very endearing to say the least.

I told a friend as I was in the middle of this, "this is like the Talented Mr. Ripley  meets Mommie Dearest".  Set in a gorgeous landscape with a castle-like mansion they like to call home, it's a love-triangle of sorts, a struggle for power, family ties so tight they strangle.  Check out "Brideshead Revisited".

I don't hear much about "My Boy Jack", but it was one of my favorites from the BBC.  The true story of Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book) and how he deals with his only child going off to war.  Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe and Kim Catrall are surprising casting choices, but they pull it off to a "T".

Another favorite.  The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton is narrated by a dead woman.  She goes back in time and explains how she, a young 20-something woman of very little domestic knowledge, went on to publish one of the most successful cookbooks ever (still in print today).  It's also a story of what happens when your husband works too late at the office (check it out to see what I mean).

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is another Dickens adaption.  It's a whirlwind of courtships, jealousies, and a whole lotta opium goin' on.  Like it alot.

Oh, The Artist.  What can I say that's not already been said in the news and on the Oscar stage already?  If you doubt that a silent film can pack much punch in this century, think again.  Wow.  And wow.

This kid annoyed the heck out of me.

Oh, my word.  A G-rated movie has survived the cutting room floor!  If you like stories of underdogs, basketball and nuns, this one is a winner for Family Movie Night!

A wonderful, wonderful story.  My 12 year old son watched it and then started it over and watched it again.  It deals with the Holocaust in an interesting way--from a child's perspective.  And they do a very gentle job of handling the subject matter without softening the impact.  Two thumbs way on up there.

And we had to follow up our Holocaust Movie Marathon with Valkyrie, starring Tom Cruise.  This got obliterated in the reviews.  However, I didn't quite care about the lack of German accent on Cruise's part.  It was an interesting story, well acted, and it taught me something I didn't know.  It was suspenseful, my kids really liked it, and so for that, I have to give it at least 3 and a half popcorn kernels.

My next long-term commitment is "Lark Rise to Candleford", which was recommended by my local librarian.  It's four discs long, so stay tuned....


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