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Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Starting earlier this year with the release of Son of God, it is being said that 2014 is the year of the biblical movie.

Just looking at a list of movies shows that there are at least four major motion pictures with biblical or faith-based themes to them.

Last week, an independent movie called God’s Not Dead starring Kevin Sorbo was released. The story is about a college student who feels pressured to give up his faith by an atheist professor. Instead of giving in, that kid played by Shane Harper (Spencer from Good Luck, Charlie), chooses to defend his beliefs and does so scientifically.

While the critics have not been kind, I am interested in seeing this movie. I want to see how they portray the conflict and how our main character, Josh, is able to defend his beliefs.

NoahThis week, the big production of Noah makes it to the big screen. Russell Crowe stars as the man who is given the task to build a boat that will save his family and many of the creatures of the earth. I became excited about the movie after watching several trailers showing water rushing down and the very human story of all those people being left behind.

It has been reported that the word “God” is not used in this movie. Instead other names are used, which actually is appropriate considering this is a story from a Jewish standpoint. In the Jewish tradition, you do not call “God” by his name because that word is so powerful. “Yaweh” is a more common term that is allowable. I also read that the director, Darren Aronofsky, has been wanting to make this film for years but it took his great success with Black Swan to make that possible.

In April, Heaven is For Real comes to the big screen starring Greg Kinnear as the father of a young boy who states he saw Jesus when the boy was very sick with appendicitis. Adapted from the book of the same title, I expect a very gentle telling of this story. I find Greg Kinnear can be very subtle and engaging, he is able to tell a story well. I wonder how they will deal with various parts of the book that show a family in crisis as well as the moments of joy.

This fall, Nicholas Cage stars in the remake of Left Behind. I wonder what kind of performance he will give knowing how intense this actor can be. Finally, we will go through Exodus starring Christian Bale (Batman series) as Moses and Ridley Scott in the director’s chair in the month of December.

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

What some might say is that Hollywood realizes there is some good money to be made by playing to Christian believers. But I believe these movies do not get made unless producers believe they will actually get their money back.

I also believe that there are people hungry for movies about faith and belief. Otherwise a movie such as Heaven is For Real may have never seen the light of day. Noah and Exodus are made for the spectacle they create. But movies like Heaven are made for us normal people to ponder.

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

Are you a youth group leader?

Then you know what I am about to say is true.

Picture by Xandert

Picture by Xandert

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we get stale. How many times can we do the same lesson to a bunch of kids who may or may not want to listen?

There is a scene in Soul Surfer in which the kids are listening to their youth group leader  quietly and attentively.

That was real fiction because I have never had that happen. When I mention it to the kids, they usually say “you know that is a movie, right? It is not real life.”

So the other night when the kids gathered, I asked then to pair up and gave them six pieces of paper. I tried to hum the theme song from “The Dating Game” before I announced that tonight we were going to play a new game.

I called it “Things I Don’t Remember Talking About in Youth Group?” or something similar.

The kids laughed because they realized I wanted to make what we talk about fun but not like a test. At some point I wanted to see if they remembered anything we talk about because most of the time they are busy trying to out-talk me.

The five questions went like this:

*Who was the guy who freed the Jews from Egypt?

* Name one of Jacob’s two wives.

* What was the first name that Paul went by?

* Name six of the twelve disciples?

* Where was Jesus born and where did he die?

Bonus Question: How many people did David have to kill to prove to Saul he was worthy of being King?

The answers were pretty interesting, especially when everyone remember Rachel but not Leah. And the most disciples anyone could remember was four. Well, guess what the next few lessons will be focusing on. Yep, we are learning about each disciple.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

As we move close to Easter and the resurrection, it is important to know about the men who kept the movement going after Jesus left the earth.

I am not sure if I will go into the deaths of each man but their lives before meeting holds interesting facts. None of these men were perfect, like the rest of us.

I can’t wait for next week’s youth group. I just need a way to make it fun.

Suggestions, anyone?

The final post about the dog

Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
We were in the back yard that is open to the side street since we do not have a fence.
A couple of kids were walking by when their voices became louder. “Burying your dog? Did your poor little dog die?”
By the sing-song tone of their voices I knew they were not being sympathetic. I knew they were trying to make a joke at my grieving family’s expense. So I gave them the look. The ‘mom’ look that let them know if they continued there would be trouble.
As some of you may know from Facebook, our black lab died suddenly at the end of February. We believe he had a heart attack. All I know is that I was there for his last moments, his last breathe. I patted his side and let him know it was ok.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur family was heartbroken. People cried or did ‘useful’ chores so as not to deal with the grief. But it has been very strange not to have the dog around prowling for food or sharing the couch with his humans.
A few weeks before his death my husband, the two younger kids, and I were on the couch watching a favorite tv show. The dog began pacing in front of the couch until he found just the right space to get up and join us. Once he was settled, the dog began slowly pushing off my daughter while making sure his head was on my lap. As far as the dog was concerned he was the favorite kid.
While we miss his companionship, we do not miss his food stealing or clothing eating ways. I found one of my husband’s favorite winter vests in the dog’s hiding place. Sadly, he had already chewed a piece of it off.
So now we must go on without him. Doing the daily walk, which I haven’t done in any sort of regular form since winter started, is going to be tough without the dog tugging and pulling for every squirrel and rabbit. Meal time seems strange without rushing to put everything away before we ‘let the dog out.’
I thought about him as my daughter and I watched Bride and Prejudice, the Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice. The story remains the same – boy meets girl and manages to offend her in every way despite his admiration for her. Only after she learns the truth about an unfortunate situation does she begin to realize his true worth.
Image from IMDb com

Image from IMDb com

The setting, however, is in India. And because this is a Bollywood production, the action can suddenly turn into a song-and-dance production featuring hundreds or a handful. The songs are fun, beautiful and always meaningful to the story. And who can deny the incandescent beauty of Aishwarya Rai?

As we watched the movie, I thought of how much Storm would have loved sitting with us, especially if there was the hope of eating some popcorn.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

How long is too long?

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

 

Have you ever had that feeling of knowing something was good but the downside was that it took too long to do?

 

This past week I brought home The Adventures of Tin-Tin. This is a great movie that was directed by Steven Spielberg and was nominated for an Oscar in 2012.

 

adventures of tintinI love the way the animation folds out as if you are reading right along in the graphic novel that is the source material for the movie. In some ways it reminded me of Inception starring Leonardo Di Caprio. The books, by the way, have been popular in Europe for years, and Spielberg seemed to be the perfect director to bring Tin-Tin and his dog, Snowy, to life

 

The problem started as every single kid who walked into our house had the same comment when they saw the dvd box on the table.

 

That movie is too long.”

 

Some tried to justify it by saying they fell asleep and when the woke up (a couple of times) the movie was still playing. Or they said it was good but they couldn’t keep up with it. This seems strange to me since the movie has plenty of action and adventure with blinding rain storms and a chase along the narrow streets of an old city.

 

Many times the Oscar movies are longer. They want to tell all aspects of a story and sometimes you need more than the usual 90 minutes of the average feature film. And that can be fine, especially in a movie such as any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy which flew by very quickly for me.

 

son of the maskThen again, I have been to some movies that were only 70 minutes long – the bare minimum for a full length feature film – and felt as if they would never end. There was a Dana Carvey movie like that which should have been better but never seemed to get done. I could say the same about Son of the Mask starring Jamie Kennedy as well as the Scooby Doo live action movies.

 

With all that in mind, I looked up the length of the movie for Tin-Tin. It was 107 minutes which translates into 1 hour, 47 minutes. Most movies are 1 hour, 30 minutes long.

 

I am not sure what this all means because these are the same kids who play video games for hours on end until we turn off the TV and kick them out of the house to get some fresh air. An extra 17 minutes drives them to distraction? Really?

 

pride and prejudiceWell, I will remember that the next time I am watching all glorious 129 minutes of Pride and Prejudice starring Kierra Knightly and Matthew Macfayden. The time seems to fly when I am watching this movie – all 2 hours and 9 minutes.

 

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

 

stormtight

This morning around 4:00 a.m., my husband woke me up to say he thought something was going on with our dog.

I smelled the smell of poop and thought the dog had been sick.

But it was worse than that.

He was dying as he tried to get up the stairs to be with Mom and Dad one last time. I sat with him until he breathed his last. I patted him and tried to be comforting. I told him it was okay to go on.

A google search suggested it could have been a heart attack or a stroke, especially since there had been no signs of problems in the last 24 hours.

Here is a better accounting from my husband’s blog called Rambles With Storm at his Stray Casts website.

As the news came out this week regarding Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow’s accusation towards her father, I wondered if this affects how I feel about Woody Allen the artist. Can I support a man, artistically, who has this terrible accusation rolling about?

Poster Image

Poster Image

Currently, Midnight in Paris sits waiting to be viewed at my house. I really do love this Woody Allen movie in which Owen Wilson is magically transported to the Roaring Twenties and the ex-pats era. He meets the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Giants. Gods, really, in the literary world. To have Gertrude Stein edit your manuscript is a dream come true.

My head hurts as I think about this because I feel the same way about Roman Polanski. He is a brilliant film director, The Pianist was/is a masterpiece that made us understand the suffering of the Holocaust even more deeply. And yet, Polanski has not been in this country for over 30 years because he is accused of drugging and molesting a 13-year-old girl.  Other girls/women have made similar claims against him. PianistEven being a Holocaust survivor cannot gild that fact over.

Pedophiles. We scorn them, hate them and never want to believe their victims. Who could do such a thing to a young child?

Who wants to believe that a priest, a coach, a trusted friend, a parent could ever do such a wrong to a child?

We don’t so we give that person a pass. They move on to a different job, a different family, a different child.

Philip Seymour HoffmanWhat about Philip Seymour Hoffman? Does our image of him as an actor/artist change because now we know about his heroin addiction? We know on the morning he was supposed to be picking up his kids for a day of fun, he started it off with getting high. We can laugh about parents who need wine to deal with their kids. But really, did Phil need that high so badly? Was he a bad person because the fix was sooooo important to him – beyond kids, beyond personal relationships, beyond work?

Heath LedgerIt gives me flashbacks to Heath Ledger – so talented, so young, so driven. His were legal prescription drugs but still, too many are too many. Like Hoffman, Ledger and his companion, Michelle Williams, were on the outs because of his addictions. Knowing these people cannot function without their drugs, does that change my mind about their work, their artistry?

The same goes for Hemingway. I know his reputation – the boozing, the women, the multiple wives. But as I read A Movable Feast in which Hemingway examines his Paris years, I find myself liking him and enjoying his writing. I want to get to know him better, I want to know his opinion about other writers. While I dislike Hemingway personally, I see what draws people to him. He has style, he Movable Feastlikes fun, and he is not afraid to get into a fight. When Hemingway writes about why a young boy should always carry a knife, it makes me realize his homophobia might have had some real basis to it.

Back to the original question – Does an artist’s personal life affect how we view their art?

As much as I want to say ‘yes,’ the truth may be more of a ‘no.’ I enjoy the work of Allen and Polanski, of Hoffman and Ledger. Their abilities have a certain pull, a certain truth about them. I would have never said I feel the same about Hemingway till I started reading this memoir.

When it comes to the person, I cannot say the same. Allen and Polanski have such allegations that are reprehensible. Hoffman, Ledger, and Hemingway fought against a different demon – one of addiction that most will tell you is a battle royale with addiction being the victor most of the time. The latter three I can excuse or make exceptions. But of the first two, I cannot.

I probably will watch movies by Allen or Polanski again but I will always think about their predatory behavior as well and wonder how this has affected the movie I am watching.

If that is the case, then the answer will always be yes. I might be able to make excuses for some. But knowing what I know, I will always look for clues of those unearthed secrets in their works. I will wonder if there weren’t signs of it before the accusation.

I will always wonder.

Wishing the Best

Dear Jane,

Dear Jane,

Jane AustenAnother year, another birthday. If I could I would grant you a wonderful birthday, as I would to all of my friends and family.

I wanted to write you a nice letter, I really did. But those darn children of mine have given me a cold. I am a bit wheezy and coughing and having plenty of drainage in the sinus.

I am weak and miserable so I apologize for the not so great letter you are reading at the moment.

I simply do not have the energy or wherewithal to make witty comments and stunning put downs.

Not that there have not been a few opportunities.

The Tea Party Republicans have been making silly demands such as one senatorial candidate in North Carolina who thinks public schools should be closed and that women do not need birth control. Then there are the idiots in the House of Representatives who finally admitted they did not think the government shutdown would really de-fund the ACA, only after the government had been shutdown for 16 days.

Image from Wikipdeia

Image from Wikipdeia

When your Republican Speaker of the house finally says “You’ve got to be kidding me?” I think the faction might have taken things too far. Those goofs are about to find out how much they are not needed to get laws passed that needed to be passed.

But enough on politics.

Life at my house has consisted of Christmas activities and sickness. Our 16 y.o. had bronchitis while the daughter and I are in the midst of colds. I watched way more TV than usual today because what energy I had was zapped up almost immediately. Imagine getting winded from sweeping up the kitchen.

Picture by Mensatic.

Picture by Mensatic.

Soon it will be my birthday. I hope that you can stop by as I am sure there will be some delightful bit of cake. Perhaps over a wonderfully hot cup of tea we can discuss the plot points of my book that need improvement. It is nearly done, I need only one or two more chapters.

Then comes the fun part – editing.

Until next year, wishing you the happiest and a healthy birthday.

Your devoted fan, etc…

Making the Christmas List

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

 

Now that snow has fallen on the ground, it can truly be considered the holiday season.

 

It is not Christmas, or winter even, until the snow has fallen. Otherwise, winter becomes this cruel joke with cold winds and gray surroundings. There is no fun in pulling a sled across hard dirt or grass. While a fake snowman made from scrap wood or metal pieces might be funky and kind of cool, it cannot replace the real thing.

 

I like winter days when we brave the cold, spend an hour or so doing something ‘outdoorsy’ before coming in for hot chocolate and cookies. There are also days in which I spend time playing games or doing puzzles because it is just too darn cold to go outside. Cookies and hot chocolate make those days special as well.

 

For now, Christmas will seem like Christmas, especially if the temps stay in the low 30s so that it is not too cold to enjoy being outside. Those temperatures make it possible to be out without being an icicle in two-minutes flat. Very helpful as there are many outdoor events to take in during the next few days and weeks.

 

Sifting through our mail find the start of Christmas cards and holiday catalogs. I love seeing all of the different products that are out there. We also get dvds from various companies. But one that I felt I had to watch is called Chicago’s Christmas Tree Ship.

 

Image from VAP Films

Image from VAP Films

The story is about Captain Herman Schuenemann who brought thousands of trees from the Upper Pennisula of Michigan on his schooner every year to Chicago. He was known as Captain Santa. But in 1912, as he prepares his ship for its annual run, the weather takes a nasty turn. Barometers belonging to the local people in Michigan start going crazy. Even the rats flee the ship. Schuenemann decides to go ahead anyway.

 

It is a storm of epic proportions that water logs an already burdened ship. The waves confronted by these sailors are massive. Water that goes into the open hulls freezes immediately. The ship is lost. That is until the early 70s when a diver finds the wreckage, nearly intact, approximately 60 miles from its destination.

 

If I was giving this video to someone, it would be to a Chicago history nut, someone who loves diving around old wrecks, someone who loves being on Lake Michigan. If they love the History Channel, as my father does, I am thinking they would like this dvd. It is filled with old pictures of the time period as well as pictures of Capt. Schuenemann and underwater footage of the wreck.

 

Now you are probably wondering where you can buy this wonderful video that will make an excellent present to Uncle Al who used to sail on Lake Michigan as a merchant Marine or whatever shipping company it is that brings/brought goods back and forth on the lake. All you have to do is visit www.VAPFilms.com or call 608-873-5784. They will happily process your order for $24.00. There are other movies in the catalog that might intrigue you as well.

 

 

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

Dying Young

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

 

Hollywood actors come and go.

 

Paul Walker F&FThey lose popularity, make some bad film choices that make people want to forget them, or die young.

 

When I heard the news about Paul Walker over the weekend, I knew that fans of the Fast and Furious franchise would be sad to see the passing of this man. He was the rock of the series, the one character who didn’t seem crazy. He held it all together even during the worst of times.

 

Walker also had a reputation of being a good guy off of the movie set as well. I read one story in which he paid for the wedding ring of a soldier’s bride-to-be when he noticed the couple were having difficulties paying for one while in a jewelry store. The toy drive and charitiable event he was at on Saturday was to help survivors of the typhoon that ripped through the Philippines.

Paul Walker Eight below

One movie critic friend, Peter Sobczynski, wrote on RogerEbert.com/Balder and Dash about how Walker gave a good interview for a so-so movie while sick with a viral illness. Sobczynski stated that Walker was more gracious than he had to be while talking about some of his goals for the future. Could have Walker matured into an A-list actor? The possibility was there.

 

At my house, it seems that should a Fast and Furious movie be on any TV network it will appear on my TV. My husband, who is not mechanical whatsoever and not much of a car guy period, will stop and watch this series no matter what. It was this series that propelled Walker to fame but he was no over-night-success.

 

Walker started acting as a child, slowly making he was through TV shows and made-for-TV movies. The Young and the Restless fans might remember him as Brandon Collins. Appearances in Pleasantville, She’s All That, and Varsity Blues built as career as a solid actor.

 

The movie I remember him for, other than the big franchise, was Eight Below. It is a story about a guide in Antarctica who is forced to leave his sled dogs during the bitterest part of winter due to a major storm. Walker spend the rest of the movie trying to find a way back to rescue his animals. It is a movie based on a true story that was sad and sweet in many ways.

 

Paul Walker HoursWalker has one movie scheduled for release this month called Hours in which he plays a man trying to save his newborn child during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Another movie, Brick Mansions, is scheduled for release in 2014. At the time of his death, the seventh Fast and Furious movie was in production. Vin Diesel has expressed his grief at the loss of a close cast mate but it will be in his hands as how the franchise moves forward.

 

In the meantime, expect a Fast and Furious marathon. Or better yet, rent some of Walker’s other movies to remember another talent gone too soon.

 

 

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

 

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

When the date for the opening night of Catching Fire, the second movie in the Hunger Games series was published, my daughter wrote it on the calendar.

 

Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

We were going to the midnight screening and that was all there was to that.

 

That is until we found out we could go see the movie at 9 pm instead of midnight. I was happy for that since I worked the next day.

 

I have read the books and know what to expect. The story continues from the last movie in which Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) must now live as victors and go on tour. They must continue pretending to be in love or risk the lives of their loved ones.

 

But all around them, rebellion is on the rise. They can only watch as people are killed for believing in the hope of rising against the capitol. What can the government do but propose another Hunger Games for the 75th Anniversary in which past tributes are reaped for the games.

 

The acting is tremendous. Jena Malone made me forget she was ever in Pride and Prejudice. Donald Sutherland continues his great performance as the wicked and devious President Snow. Jeffrey Wright shines as Beetee. Philip Seymour Hoffman is simply perfect. I was enthralled most of the time despite having read the books and knowing what to expect.

 

For those people who have not seen the first movie or ever bothered to read the books, you may be wondering if this is a stand-alone movie. Let me be honest, it is not. It is the second movie in a four-film series. If you are new to the series, I strongly suggest renting Hunger Games before you go see Catching Fire. Relationships between the various characters will make sense to you once you do as will the reason for the games in the first place.

 

That said, I can only tell you that with an increased budget, you will notice better sets, cinematography, and costuming. The world portrayed in this story is still bleak but interesting as hope filters down to the oppressed districts. The movie does what it sets out to do – propel the story while giving us the battle scenes from the games. 

 

 

Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

Haymitch’s house, Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

What intrigues me is the mix of eras in this movie. Design of the homes is Victorian while societal norms appear to be Depression era. The computer technology is farther along than we are now but they still use coal for heat and fueling factories. Costuming also appears to be a mix of eras although anything from the Capital seems to go for the most outlandish things possible.

 

I have to admit I would love to see this movie one more time on the big screen in order to catch details of what I might have missed as well as to enjoy the spectacle. And if I do, I would take no one younger than ten because I believe the context of this movie is meant for those who are an older pre-teen and up. It deals with issues of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, government corruption on a large scale, and how people deal with stress in times of oppression.

Catching Fire Hunger games poster 4

It was a near perfect movie that slows in the middle till it picks up again and we are back on that roller coaster ride of thrills.

 

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

 

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