Tag Archive: Family Movie Night


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When Hollywood people die, it is always heard that they passed too young.

In the case of Cory Monteith, one of the stars of Glee that is true. The 31-year-old actor had been a star for the last four years because of the Fox TV show that featured musical song-and-dance numbers. His character, Finn, may have been a bit dim in the brain but quite the sweetheart.

Cory Monteith with Kevin McHale, Image from IMDb.com

Cory Monteith with Kevin McHale, Image from IMDb.com

The Canadian actor had started branching out into movies recently. His last role was that of a young man dealing with the aftermath of trauma and Monteith felt he could bring something dark to the role considering his past drug use. The movie is called All The Wrong Reasons and word is the film is heading to the Toronto Film Festival in September.

Monteith struggled with drug addictions for the last 15 or so years. Families who deal with that know how hard it is to watch a love one fight and not be able to help that person. There is no word yet how Monteith’s death will be dealt with on the show but I hope they give him a huge sendoff.

On Monday afternoon as I was trying to get something done, my husband announced that Dennis Farina passed away at the age of 69. Maybe you recognize Farina from his days on Law and Order, maybe you recognize him from his days on Crime Story. Farina played mob guys or cops and he did it well. The former Chicago police officer was a tough talker who was ready to throw a punch when he had to do it. But playing one sort of character can lead to typecasting for an actor and soon enough, Farina was more of a side character than the featured role.

Perhaps his most well-known part was that of Ray ‘Bones” Barboni in Get Shorty, a movie based on an Elmore Leonard novel of the same name. It was a tough role in which Farina plays a South Florida mobster looking for the Shylock he does not like who now lives in California.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

But this was not his reportedly best movie. That came nearly 20 years later when he starred in The Last Rites of Joe May. The story follows a down-on-his-luck low-level gangster who has always believed that good fortune is around the corner. When the man is diagnosed with a terminal illness, one would think he would finally feel down. That is until he believes that good fortune may once more be waiting for him.

If anything, the legacy of Dennis Farina is that you can be an ordinary guy and find your dream. He was good-looking enough and talented enough to get into a movie here and there until he wound up on a poplar TV show. Then came more movies, more TV shows, and special projects. It took a lot of work, a lot of perseverance. But if that is your dream, isn’t that what you will do to make it happen?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Makeover at the Movies

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

 

How do you feel when an old favorite movie gets a makeover?

 

 

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

I was thinking about this as my husband made plans to see The Lone Ranger at the drive-in. He is planning to take us to a double feature that also includes Man of Steel, the latest vision of Superman.

 

Both movies represent something from my childhood. Both movies present former heroes in a new light. And to be honest, I am not sure I want to see these movies.

 

I grew up with Clayton Moore playing the former Texas Ranger out to find justice. By his side was Jay Silverheels as Tonto. My brother and I watched the old serial episodes on Channel 9. It didn’t matter that we had seen many of the episodes time and time again. We loved them and played out the episodes in the yard.

 

So imagine my surprise when I saw the first renderings of Johnny Depp as Tonto. The white face and dark eyes along with the strange crow hat made me wonder just what Depp was doing? Would this be the ruin of the new movie or something interesting? It makes me wonder how far into the metaphysical world would director Gore Verbinski dip into in order to bring a different story to the big screen.

 

 

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

And then there is Man of Steel. The story of Superman’s escape from a dying planet is the same but like never before Clark is aware that he has to hide his powers. Like never before he is aware of what makes him different and that fact is not going to be lightly glossed over. He cannot reveal his difference because people will not take the time to understand him.

 

Should we have pondered this before? I mean, why else does someone choose to leave their family on the farm to go to New York? Perhaps, it is why most people leave the farm and head to the big city – they hate the farm. A lot of people have done this in the past and no one gave it a second thought. Who wants to stay on a farm when they can be the big cheese elsewhere?

 

But what we love about Superman are his small town values. We love that he wants to help people, right wrongs and help America remain free. He fights for Truth, Justice and the American Way. He helps the little guy and children while protecting the Earth from outside force.

 

Recently, my 16-year-old watched Superman 4 in which Superman is working for World Peace and Lex Luthor is trying to destroy him. I forgot about some of the awful fashions but I also forgot the wistfulness of Superman and Luthor’s out-and-out greed.

 

Can I bear to see Superman/Clark Kent portrayed by someone other than Christopher Reeves and believe that person is Superman? Will I be able to watch Johnny Depp’s version of Tonto and not snicker – too much? I am not sure. But after Wednesday night, I might have an answer for you.

 

Until Next Week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
This past weekend the husband and I got out to see a band over at the bowling alley. We are friends with one of the members of the band and our son plays in a band with the son of another member.
While their mix of covers run the gamut of rock-and-roll and country music from the 60s through the 90s, my growing up years, they also throw in newer songs. This was my first time hearing “The Boys ‘Round Here” by Blake Sheldon and it was a crowd pleaser as was “Wipeout” by the Safaris.
Hearing so many great tunes by a band who knows that their job is to please the audience and play a tight set really made our night.
But it also led to me thinking about my favorite movies about country singers. These movies are one that can be watched with the teens in the family, many of them talk about the harsh aspects of life that can drag a person down no matter how much success they have attained.
While it seems as if Country music leads to sad stories and addiction in many forms, sadly that is the life for musicians of a variety of genres. Look at the great jazz singer Billie Holiday. Her story is depicted in the movie Lady Sings the Blues and stars Diana Ross.
Her childhood is certainly not idyllic and her adult life was filled drama and chaos fueled by her drug addiction. But the woman could sing with disarming emotion.
Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

A few years ago Jeff Bridges starred as a broken down country star in Crazy Heart. The movie follows his romance with a younger woman who is an aspiring music journalist. The man has to decide how to find sobriety while living a life on the road and having young bucks such as Colin Ferrell taking away his spotlight.

It is a heart rendering movie filled with good music and great performances. Maggie Gyllenhall is wonderful as the love interest but Robert Duvall steals every single scene.
Then again, Duvall knows this territory well since he starred in Tender Mercies in 1988 about an alcoholic country singer who loses everything in his life. When he agrees to work for a widow and live by her request that he not drink while doing it, life begins to change.
This movie, more than any, other reminds me of George Jones. Jones died this past spring and probably no one was more surprised than he was to have made it to the age of 81. Jones was a notorious addict to alcohol and cocaine. When people did not call him ‘Possum,’ they called him ‘No-Show-Jones.’
It is my understanding that there a movie in the works on the life of Jones but no one has been signed to play Jones. What a story it will be from his many marriages, his personal and professional relationship with Tammy Wynette, his comeback in the 80s, and his battle against addiction.
Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

One of my other favorite bio pics is Coal Miner’s Daughter starring Sissy Spacek. This movie follows the rise of Loretta Lynn who became a singing sensation in her early 20s. I am a sucker for a woman who can tell it like it is and sometimes make stupid mistakes. Sadly, they do not show anything from when she and Conway Twitty were singing together and that is a real shame.

Until Next Week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

It is that time of year again despite the rain and the cold.

I might mean summer time in general but in specific I am talking about the movies with loud sound tracks and great stunts.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

I was thinking about this as my 16-year-old reported what he liked about the latest Fast and the Furious movie. The story is about our favorite gang of car thieves living in a country that is not their own. That is when a government agent comes offering full pardons if they will help out with one more job. Oh, and there is a surprise guest as well.

My son did not talk about character development. He did not talk about great dialogue. What he talked about were fast moving cars, driven by men willing to do some crazy stunts.

While some of my family members described this movie as being about fast cars, macho-acting guys, and girls in bikinis, it is also a movie about one last desperate attempt for love and for freedom. There is one line that told me the depth of that love, the amount of risk a person was willing to go through to save that other person.

This aspect almost makes me want to go see this movie. My husband declared it might be one of the few movies as of late that is worthwhile seeing in 3D. I think the stunts I have seen in the trailer are 3D worthy but to be honest, I am not happy with 3D. The colors are murky at best, the 3D action never lives up to its hype. Plus, it give me motion-sickness almost every single time because the screen never stops moving.

Where I plan to see this movie in in the drive-in. Why do we love going there? Fidgeting kids do not draw the ire of other patrons because they have fidgety kids, too. Most allow you to bring in your own food and the best ones have a green area where a game of catch or frisbee can easily occur before the movie or during intermission. While it is an hour to the closest drive-in theater, we are lucky enough to be near three such theaters.

The first is the Lake Shore in Monticello near Indiana Beach. They have two screen which show a double feature. One screen has more adult type films while the other goes for more family friendly fare most of the time. The green space in Okay while the concession stand has some good choices.

funnel cake sundaeMy second choice, and the theater we go to the most, is the Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In. Most of the movies through out the year are family friendly. The concession stand has some great offerings and the green space is fantastic. I love this theater and do what I can to help keep it going. While we tend to bring our own food and drink (perfectly allowable), I always try to buy something at the concession stand. The Harvest Moon is home of the Funnel Cake Sundae. Tasty!

49'er logo facebook

Image from 49′er Drive-in Theater Facebook page

Finally, my favorite drive-in is the 49′er in Valpraiso, Indiana with a drive more like on hour and forty-five minutes. But the green space is incredibly large. The concession stand has a lot of tasty treats. Plus, off duty police officers are the security guys. Most of the time it is a family fare double-feature. Talk about smorgasbord of delights.

I am not sure I can think of a better way to spend a summer night.

Until Next Week, see you in the rental aisle.

Becoming a Great Man

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

This past week saw the release of The Great and Powerful Oz starring James Franco to the home theater market.

 

It is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz that many of us know – and perhaps love – so well. It is a movie that is referenced in so many ways that it may be hard to quantify.

 

 

Poster image from IMDb.com

Poster image from IMDb.com

The latest might be a crack about flying monkeys in last year’s The Avengers that was notable because it was the only pop culture reference that Captain America understood.

 

Anytime some one mentions no longer being in Kansas is a direct link.

 

Not to mention “And your little dog, too.”

 

Why do we need a prequel is not a certainty in my mind. But once it was created, I could not imagine not having it. This movie directed by Sam Raimi is eye-poppingly beautiful. The colors grab your attention.

 

But so does the acting and characterizations of key players in the movie that, sequentially, comes later. We see how various characters are related and why it matters. When we saw the movie at the theater, it was as if time had barely passed and then suddenly the movie was over.

 

It makes me wonder why we, the collective public, love this story so much.

 

In a strange way, I am reminded of Harry Potter. Both characters are orphaned, both live with an aunt and uncle, and both seem to think they do not belong to these families. While one will discover this last fact is true, both children go on a journey through incredible and fantastic land in order to save it from a greater evil.

 

Or as my husband puts it, the preteen angsty feeling that these people who claim to be your family is not really your family. Suddenly, the feeling that you did not belong has been confirmed and what a relief that must be since now you have found a place with magic to make you even a better person.

 

 

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

While I give credence to the first part of his theory , I do not think it is all about magic being the saving force with either character. Dorothy and Harry find a special tool (water and the expelliarmus spell, respectively) to defeat their nemesis but to get to that point they must have strength of character.

 

Both characters go through many trials and tribulations which hi-lights the best aspects of their beings – kindness, gentleness, concern for others, humility. While you could make the argument that Dorothy and Harry represent the fruits of the spirit, it needs to be noted that both are human and fall to the weakness of the flesh as well. We love them because of their good qualities, we relate to both because of their frailties.

 

As soon as I can, I plan to rent this movie for a family night that will find us wrapped back into the magical land of Oz. Come September, I will be on the look-out for the 75th Anniversary edition of the movie that became a classic when it was released in 1939.

 

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle. 

Having A Party…

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

This past weekend, our family hosted a party in which our son’s band played a bunch of songs and performed for family and friends.

This was not their first performance. In the spring, the boys were apart of the high school’s talent show. In that venue they only had to play three songs. In our backyard, the expectations were greater while the audience was smaller.

Those of us who were there had a great time. The boys had occasional help from family members to make a song work but more importantly, they learned how to deal with each other in a performing situation and that is a big hurdle to overcome.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

Will it go anywhere? Who knows. The potential is there to be a good regional band. But like anything else, it takes persistence and hard work. Nickelback wrote in one of their songs that as they were growing up, they wanted to know what it would be like to sing to someone other than themselves while in the car. I think that could fit for many of us.

Friends of mine recently recommended a documentary called Searching For Sugarman about two South Africans who go on a trek to find out whatever happened to their musical hero. Sugarman, also known as Rodriquez, is a folk singer who made two albums in the early seventies. But no one seemed interested in him. His albums didn’t sell in the U.S. and the man slipped back into obscurity.

Somehow his music found its way to South Africa. The man was as popular as Elvis but it was rumored that Rodriquez was dead from an apparent suicide. In the 1990s the two friends decided they would find out what happened to their idol.

The movie won an Oscar for best documentary in 2012. Rodriquez did not show up for the ceremony so as to not take the spotlight away from Swedish director, Malik Bendjelloul. Bendjelloul stated that is fitting for Rodriquez, that he would be so generous on a night honoring his career.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

Another documentary on music that I love is Standing in the Shadows of Motown about the Funk Brothers. These guys were the studio musicians who played on every song recorded in the Motown studios in Detroit.

They created the licks and picks of Motown songs that made them memorable. We see pictures of the man who came up with the opening line of “My Girl” and hear music from an era that has passed into history. These men tell stories of how they worked together and kept each other safe during the riots. And they also tell how hard it was not to be known for the great music they created. And they tell the truth of what happened in the end, why they ended up being left behind.

Music is a fickle mistress but when you are in the middle of making it, there is a feeling of paradise.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle. 

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The last day of school this year, was especially emotional and poignant.

It wasn’t because I have a child graduating or making some great leap on the road map of life.

 

Picture by Clarita

Picture by Clarita

What brought me to tears was the special ceremony honoring Mrs. Pat Farman, trusty librarian at the grade school, as she went through her last days before retirement.

I had the good luck of being a volunteer with Mrs Farman in the library and with a few book fairs. Our conversations centered on books and, well, they were exciting enough to not have to go much farther. We talked about the Young Adult genre a lot because that is one area we both read a lot. We never got into the “who is a better writer – Austen or Bronte” conversation which is probably a good thing.

Now some of you who have not been in a library for a few years might wonder why I would celebrate a librarian besides the fact that I am a book nut. I celebrate librarians because they are some of the bravest people I know.

 

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

Librarians across the country fought for our rights to privacy when the Patriot’s Act tried to take too many away. And when it comes to standing up for books that others try to ban, well, thank a librarian that you can get a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird or Huck Finn or Where’s Waldo. All of these books were on lists to be banned and librarians fought them down.

Maybe that is not the kind of bravery you were thinking of, was it? Not every librarian can be like Noah Wylie in The Librarian movie series that showed up on the TNT network. Granted, how many librarians do you know get to chase after a historic relic with a martial arts expert on their side.

Maybe not all librarians look like Rachel Weisz in The Mummy and get to fall in love with Brendan Fraser while trying to figure out how to get a mummy back into his resting place.

 

Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in The Mummy, Image from IMDb.com

Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in The Mummy, Image from IMDb.com

Perhaps the most memorable librarian is Marian played by Shirley Jones in The Music Man. She learns to trust and love a man who is a con-artist. His plan usually consists of collecting money for band uniforms and instruments. Before anything arrives or has even been ordered, Harold Hill takes off with the money but this time it might turn out differently.

Oh, librarians might seem ordinary, maybe even useless. But they help those of us coming into a library discover new books, new worlds, new information. A library without a librarian is a like a hollow book; it looks good but you need the inside scoop for guidance, direction, to find one that best suits your needs. A good librarian, such as Mrs. Farman, does just that with love and enthusiasm. And that is what kids need in order to foster a love for reading and learning.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This past week has been incredibly busy for our family.

Image by Mathew Hull

Image by Mathew Hull

There have been several ball games, graduation, 4H activities, the parade, town wide garage sale, two birthday parties, and various concerts. Other people I know had dance recitals and graduation parties to host.

While it is an incredible time, it is also incredibly tiring. A few times I wondered if I could fall asleep right where I was but knew I had to stay awake. In truth, I love these moments even during the most hectic moments. But when it is all over, I want nothing more than relax.

Once Sunday arrived, I was ready to do nothing. Which I did rather successfully beyond reading a book, planting a few new plants, and making stuffed shells for dinner. Later that night, the husband and I watched Parental Guidance starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.

Midler and Crystal play grandparents who have been reluctantly asked to watch their only grandchildren. Once in the house, Midler realizes that they are the ‘other grandparents,’ the ones not seen as fun but as a burden. During this week, she wants to create memorable moments for the kids and asks her husband not to screw it up for them.

Image from IMDB.com

Image from IMDB.com

This might be hard because their daughter, Marisa Tomei, is a bit of a helicopter parent but she is aided by the rules of their school and social circles in which kids are told to use their blue voice and baseball games don’t count runs or strike pitches. Old school clashes with new school as grandparents try to figure out a smart house and a set of rules of life that do not always make sense.

This is not a deep movie, there are some moments that one might call cloying or manipulative. But it has nuggets of truth hidden in the biting or bitter remarks made by various characters.

As parents, we strive to do better than what we thought of our parents’ parenting styles. We try to eliminate bullying or unhappy feelings. We strive to make everyone feel good about their accomplishment.

I understand the daughter’s point of view of wanting to be different from her parents. I mean, how many of us have seen the saying “I opened my mouth and my mother’s voice came out” and giving a head-nod of agreement? How many of us vowed that while we love our parents, we were going to raise our kids differently which meant ‘better’ in our heads.

It is not always like that.

Some modern tricks have value as do some of the old ones. I think that not all modern tricks and tools work as well as some of the old ones. I think sometimes kids have to lose games and develop skills from that loss. I think kids need to be taught how to speak to others without being a manipulative bully – and when that happens call the kids for acting out in a manipulative manner.

In the end, parents have to be parents which means setting boundaries and consequences for inappropriate behavior while allowing kids to have fun. It also means that kids have to learn how to treat others in a respectful manner. And sometimes, you break every rule you ever set for a magical moment.

Would I watch this movie again?

I think I might. There is a sweetness as Grandpa learns to bond with his grandchildren. There is some honesty in one of the subplot’s involving careers. While this movie might be acceptable context-wise for those who are pre-teen, I think it is best for adults who get both worlds of parenting.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Travel Bug

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This past weekend I finally finished a project I have been working on for about six months.

I know some of you are scoffing because you might have some project that has taken much longer to not be completed. Well, I have done that as well.

Lately, I have wanted to start finishing projects. Last year I finally put the final stitches into a needlecraft scene. Then I began cleaning out various hot spots of clutter in my house. But this project was something special.

Sign - CompleteIt is a post with signs of various destinations. One of my friends said it looked exactly like something I would do. Last fall, I found various reclaimed reclaimed wood. Once they were sanded and cleaned of the dust, each one was painted on one side, and a name was written on top. Each sign has a slightly distressed look to it and I cannot wait to see how any of it stands up to a real winter.

While it reminds me of the sign post from the old TV show, M*A*S*H, the idea came from a craft suggestion pasted on Facebook. I choose places that reflect series that I am reading or my children are reading. Two of the signs are of places we have actually visited or lived.

If I had more money, traveling would be my joy. There is too much of the U.S. I have not seen and a part of me wishes to see Australia and/or the continent of Africa. Another part of my heart wishes to see the city of Petra that was carved into the mountain so many years ago.

Movies help aid my wandering desires.

Image from IMDb com

Image from IMDb com

We recently watched Life of Pi and while I have no desire to share a boat with a tiger, I would like to see India. I would like to visit the set of a Bollywood movie just to see one of the spectacular song and dance scenes actually performed. Until then, I will have to settle for the excellent Bride and Prejudice starring  Aishwarya Rai in the Elizabeth Bennett role.

Movies about New York City increase my curiosity about the Big Apple. There is a part of me that wants to walk the Brooklyn Bridge as Miranda did in Sex and the City. I would love to go to the top of the Empire State building but leave the big ape from King Kong behind in the jungle. I would not mind taking in the Museum of Natural History just like in Night at the Museum or strolling through Central Park as happens in countless movies.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

Until I can go, these movies and so many more will have to be my ticket to see lands far away – be it Taiwan in Eat, Drink, Man, Woman or Paris in Hugo or The Adventures of Tin-Tin. As for Africa, perhaps Humphrey Bogart and Kathrine Hepburn will allow me to join them on The African Queen once more. 

Where would you like to travel?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle

Iron Man 3 – Dealing

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

 

Our family weekend consisted of plans that ended up getting squashed and re-configured.

 

We started with a plan to see Iron Man 3 at the drive-in theater in Gibson City. The Harvest Moon is our favorite for the great green spaces as well as the fine concession stand food.

 

If you have never had a Funnel Cake Sundae, you are missing out.

 

However, six people in a minivan trying to watch a movie while it is cold and rainy is not my idea of a good time. So instead we packed up the family and a friend to head over to Movies 10.

 

What we found was a Tony Stark trying to deal with everything he saw during the fight with the Avengers in New York. And he is not succeeding at it. Tony is up for days at a time and when he sleeps, all he can dream about is New York.

 

But when an explosion at the Chinese Theater injures his friend, Tony sends out a message to the man claiming responsibility, the Mandarin, that he will find him and bring him down. Meanwhile, we learn about an experiment to create super humans that has one fatal flaw.

 

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

If anything, this movie is about masks. The masks men like Tony Stark and the Mandarin use in order to complete their objectives. It is also about masks that some of us wear while appearing to be a normal person. What heroics or villainy lies in our hearts is not always reflected in the clothing we wear. The most deceitful character, in my mind, is one you did not expect at all.

 

The action was incredible, as always. A full-fledged attack on Tony Stark’s Malibu home is devastatingly great. But the scenes of previous terrorist attacks by the Mandarin are perhaps the most profound. They are gripping in the sadness of loss of life for those people who were not a target per say but merely collateral damage.

Now, I know there are fans of the comic book that are going to be disappointed. They are not going to like how the Mandarin is portrayed, how it leans far away from the original story. But trust me when I say that this reveal of the Mandarin is everything we might want to believe of current figures that use/used televised messages. It is a dirty move and it is brilliant.

For our family, it was a good movie. Our eight-year-old watched it although if you think your child is more sensitive, I would recommend skipping it. I would have done that when my oldest was this age but now my youngest watches these movies with the older kids. It makes him feel as if he is just like them.

While I put my foot down for R-rated horror or intense action movies, Iron Man and the Marvel comic movies manage to keep the blood and gore to the imagination. That I can live with.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle

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