Archive for March, 2017


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Plans do not always work out.

Our initial plan for Friday was to pack everything up and go to the drive in for the first night of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens.

Beauty and the Beast PosterWe went on Saturday instead to the Paramount. The line was long but thank goodness for pre-bought tickets. Our group started at age 12 and end with adults. The audience was filled with little ones up to Grandmas. When we left that screening, the line for the next showing wrapped around the building. I was not surprised to hear the movie broke opening weekend records.

The people I went with loved the movie. We cried about a half a dozen times. My kids tell me that I cry at every movie so of course they were not surprised that I had to dry off tears. Perhaps it was the arrangement of the music, the rush of the notes leading to a rush of feelings. I felt myself just as engaged or more so as with the original animated feature.

The story remains the same: a young woman lives in a small French town with her eccentric father. He trespasses on a property and is thrown in the high tower dungeon of an old castle. His daughter comes to save him and trades places.

The master of the castle is a beast, becoming so after showing cruelty to an enchantress. If only he can love and win the love of someone in return, then he can become human once more. But the time is running out. His servants who were turned into household items are in danger of becoming fixed in their state. But they see the girl as a way out of the curse. It doesn’t hurt that she is pretty and kind.

It is a beautiful and grand movie. The tricks of the camera and computer animation make the various scenes of dancing china and attaching furniture a sight to behold. We are given a few back stories that clears up a few details from the older movie. And the OMG big scene of reveal about two characters was underwhelming in the end.

Beauty-and-the-Beast-2017 GastonI found this movie to be marvelous and that was confirmed when the pickiest of movie watchers stated it did not feel like two hours in length. It all went by so fast. The actors made it look so good, so easy. Luke Evans was superb as the villainous Gaston while Emma Watson held her own as Belle. Dan Stephens hit the right notes as the beast, giving him a sense of humor and mercy.

But as always with these movies it is the side characters who get to shine. Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson do that as Lumiere and Mrs. Potts, respectively. Then there is Audra McDonald as the Armoire whose voice shimmers when she sings.

Some people told me they thought the movie was over-rated. Not everyone liked it. I get it even though I disagree with you.

Beauty and the Beast 2017 BeastI was afraid I was not going to like it because I love the original. And yet, Emma Watson won me over as Belle. I believed she would strongly dislike Gaston, I believed she would try to figure out how to escape the castle, and I believed she would find the good in a man who’s life had been wasted in cruelty.

The biggest compliment I ever give a movie is that I would go see it again. When it comes to Beauty and The Beast, I wouldn’t mind seeing it several times over.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

We remember St. Patrick as the saint who drove the snakes out of Ireland. We celebrate his work as a christian cleric by drinking with green beer or Guinness, and eating corned beef and cabbage.

At this point in time, my St. Patrick’s Day plan is to go to the Drive in in Gibson City to watch Beauty and the Beast. I have not previewed this movie so I don’t know if it is good or not.

But this live-action retelling is based on a very popular and well written original. Plus it stars the very talented Emma Watson and Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey. I have high hopes. Plus, I will be at the Harvest Moon Twin Drive-in where there are sure to be plenty of good snacks.

My personal favorite is the funnel cake sundae. Don’t tell my doctor what I am eating. I feel pretty sure I will have to walk a mile or two to kill of the calories of this killer snack.

Now if you are not as lucky as I am, there are always movies you can rent.

LeprechaunSomehow I feel it is possible to find copies of Leprechaun. This 1993 horror movie is about a group of teenagers who unwittingly unleash an evil leprechaun who wants his gold back that was stolen by the previous owner of the house. They don’t know where the gold is located but they keep trying to find it as the evil guy keeps hunting them and killing people off.

Actor Warwick Davis infused his character with some humor. You know him better as Professor Flitwick. Another actor you might recognize is Jennifer Aniston in her first movie.

I am not a fan of horror flicks so I can’t tell you if it good or bad but I am willing to bet that this would not be a good movie for the younger members of your family or any one who gets nightmares easily.

High SpiritsIf you are looking for something a little bit safer with a bit of an edge to it I would take a gander at High Spirits directed by Neil Jordan and starring Darryl Hannah, Steven Guttenberg, Liam Neesom, and Beverly D’Angelo. This movie is about an American couple spending the weekend at an Irish castle to see if her father should buy it or not.

It is a castle reputed to be haunted by a couple who died on their wedding night. But just in case that doesn’t happen, the owner (Peter O’Toole) has provided a few scares of his own to make the trip worthwhile for his guests. This is a movie with medium scares and somewhat less scary for the young ones in the family. I think context wise it is more appropriate for adults than children.

Into the West IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

However, if you are looking for a movie for all members of the family with an Irish theme, then my suggestion is always is always going to be Into the West. It is a fantastic story about two boys who are given a horse by their grandfather. The problem is that the boys live in a Dublin public housing high rise building. They really have no place to keep him and the elevator makes for a poor stable.

Then a rich and greedy man notices the horse and finds a way to get this beautiful beast. But the boys steal the horse back and make a run across the country to the sea. Besides the police and the rich man’s henchmen, they are being followed by their father who has been living in grief over the death of his wife.

I cry, I laugh, I cheer the boys on.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle

The Great Feud

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Never let a good story get in the way of the truth.

I am sure someone has said this in the past but I have no person to attach to this quote. But this is especially true in regard to the latest Ryan Murphy limited run TV show, Feud.

It stars Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon as Hollywood legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis who battled each other for over 30 years.

Both women have won Oscars, both women had ups and downs during their careers. Both women were accused of child abuse by their adult children, although no one will ever top the ‘No Wire Hangers’ tantrum.

Both were gifted actresses known to be temperamental. Bette took the studios to court while Joan hung out in her trailer until a scene was re-written to her liking.

These are the divas that today’s divas look up to and wonder if they can ever be matched.

Yes, these women were difficult. But their talent made them worth it.

Joan CrawfordJoan Crawford earned three Oscar nominations, winning one for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945) about a woman who works hard as a waitress, and later as a restaurant owner, to giver her daughter everything. But there are complications. Her daughter resents the loss of their past life and hate the restaurant that supports them.

It is a role that took guts and determination. Director Michael Curtiz didn’t want her in the role until a screen test proved to him that Crawford was the one for the job. Her hard work slowly changed his mind despite their disagreements. This is one of those movies that is a must see for classic movie fan.

That is also true for Dark Victory (1939) starring Bette Davis. Starring as a socialite who only wants to have fun, Bette must face the fact that she has a tumor on the brain and that her life will be shorter than expected. So what does the girl do? She falls in love with her doctor, flirts with the stable man (Humphrey Bogart), and finds a way to make her last days the best.

It is a thrilling brave performance that is only matched by her performance in All About Eve (1950) in which Davis is an older actress holding on to her place in the world while a young ingenue becomes her assistant and works to take her place. It is a marvelous film in which Davis is fearful and happy and bitter and not afraid to take it to the limit.

Bette Davis All About EveBetter Davis was nominated for ten (10) Oscars, winning two (2). The most important thing about Davis is that she never thought acting was to be small, everything on the screen had to be bigger than life. Maybe Crawford felt the same way although she always wanted to be glamorous and felt that is what her fans expected.

Before I watch the next episode of Feud, I plan on watching some of these older classics to remind me why these two women are so fierce, ferocious, and fabulous.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

In wining six Oscars, La La Land may have proved that it really didn’t need to win that Best Picture award. Yes, I am sure the mix-up was upsetting. Moonlight is a special film that I heard about all year.

 

la la landBut there is so much to like about La La Land.

For me, the # 1 thing was the OscarTM winning Best Song – City of Stars. It is a song that trickles and skips down the scale. It is light hearted and hopeful and sad all at the same time. There is something so perfect about it. I feel as if I know this song, as if Hoagy Carmichael wrote it himself. But no. That’s not how it happened. Somehow this son best reflects my feelings about this movie.

 

When the husband and I went to the cinema last Friday, I was afraid I would not like it; I was afraid the hype would ruin the movie for me. The thing that ruined the movie for me was sitting too close and getting motion sickness from the twirling scenes. I had to leave the theater and come back. I sat in the back next to someone I am sure did not want anyone sitting next to him.

 

an-american-in-paris-o-s-t-1951I started watching the movie again, allowing the music and magic take hold. At times I felt as if I was watching any number of movies set on Hollywood sets with characters from different movie genres walking across the lot. But there is also a scene that made me think of Singin’ in the Rain or An american in Paris. I am sure there were other references I missed.

 

The story is about an aspiring actress and a jazz musician who want to succeed in their professions. They both work in Los Angelos. Seb and Mia meet by accident and they meet at parties. They think they are not attacted to each other and then they fall in love. What they love about each other is the passion each has for their work.

 

Even when they break up, it is not long before one is rooting for the other.

 

This movie doesn’t feel like your usual musical and yet there are constant refernces to old Hollywood classics. I see hints of Fred and Ginger, who danced in the oddest of places. There are moody atmospheres in clubs and being alone at the home of the one you love. There is the sadness of the drive home after feeling like a failure. There is the happiness of a second chance.

 

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone capture our hearts as Seb and Mia, the couple who fall in love when they are not even sure they want to fall in love. We see their dissapointments and failures written all over their faces. It is all right there, you can see it and you can feel their pain. You can feel their passion for their work and why they continue.

 

Maybe La La Land didn’t win the award for Best Picture. But that doesn’t mean its not a winning movie.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.