Category: Family Movie Night


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Sometimes I like watching older movies because I want to see what was different from then. I also like to see what is the same. Some old movies I watch because I have fond memories of them and want to have those good feelings again.

Lady and the Tramp SignatureI recently saw the Disney Signature Collection of Lady and the Tramp, the 1955 animated movie from the Disney company that saw its biggest hit since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. This collection was release just this month.

I know I read this book to my kids when they were little but I never remember watching more than bits and pieces of this movie.

Of course the spaghetti dinner scene is the most iconic, the most remembered scene. And it almost didn’t go in because Walt Disney didn’t like the scene.

Perhaps you know the story, perhaps not. Lady comes to the Dear family as a Christmas gift to Darling from her husband, Jim. They love the adorable cocker spaniel who becomes a valued member of the family. Lady has her routines and friends in the neighborhood.

When Darling becomes pregnant, Lady worries that her role in the house will change. But it doesn’t and soon she adores the little human as much as she adores his parents.

However, the couple need to take a trip away from home and Aunt Sarah comes to watch the baby. This is when the trouble begins. Aunt Sarah hates dogs and brings her evil cats with her. Now my husband would say “but of course they’re evil, they are cats after all.”

lady_and_the_tramp_spaghetti

This is when Lady runs away in fear and she finds herself being protected by Tramp, a lovable mongrel who manages to evade the dog catcher time and again. As Lady works to escape all that frightens her, Tramp guides her through the free and easy life.

This remains a beautiful movie to watch, the animation is layered and smooth. Storytelling is key. We find ourselves rooting for Lady because she is such a winning personality. Tramp, too, wins our heart because he is the classic bad boy who is just waiting for a good woman to change him. He is genuinely upset when bad things happen to Lady.

However, the opening has not aged well, feeling corny and old-fashioned in a bad way. My daughter wanted me to fast-forward through it to get to the movie. It is the same with the ending, It is the old heavy handed music with the choral singing with many voices but little harmony.

The other disappointing part of this DVD is that there are no extra featurettes about the making of the movie or how they worked to create the different scenes. In the loop that plays while you are deciding what to to, there are wonderful pencil drawings of various characters that slowly move into full color animation. I wish that there was more on this history of this movie.

This signature edition was good for one night of watching. But if you are looking for more, you need to spend time on the internet to find it.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Breaking In

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

This past Mother’s Day, one of my gifts was a movie date with my son.

Now this was going to interesting because he prefers horror or deadly action/adventure movies while I am more of a romantic comedy or straight comedy fan. I hate the nightmares I get with his favorite genres while he likes comedies that are a bit more racy or drug infused.

Breaking inFor whatever reasons, we settled on Breaking In starring Gabrielle Union and Billy Burke. I like Gabrielle Union, she has always played tough women who seemed smarter than most. She has had a 20-year career in Hollywood playing strong women.

And in this movie she must be strong when she and her kids go to her deceased father’s house for the weekend in order to get it ready to put on the market.

As you may have guessed, her father had a few secrets. Such as what his business entailed and just how much security fills the house. And this is a beautiful spread. Lots of square footage, lots of rolling greens, and wooded areas. The house has a security gate and a long winding driveway.

Problems start when our grieving mom, Shaun, and her children find out that there are intruders in the house. Unfortunately for Mom, the kids are inside while she is outside. These men want something within the house and they are willing to kill to get it.

The leader, Eddie, played by Billy Burke of Twilight fame, pretends to be a nicer guy. He pretends he doesn’t want to kill an entire family to get what he wants. He leaves that role to henchman Duncan, played by Richard Cabral, who likes waving a knife around.

Soon we are in a struggle as the men try to find something in the house and keep the mother bear at bay. After all she just a woman, she can’t fight back. Or can she?

Breaking in 2You know the answer to this question because we have seen this movie before. I like that Union makes Shaun into a caring person and not some fighting robot. She never loses her compassion for her kids or others caught in the web of these intruders. But it doesn’t feel fresh or new, nothing seems to be added to this film that moves it beyond what it is. Its one of those movies that you will watch later on when it appearsom a day when you need to veg. For that it is perfect.

My biggest gripe has to do with the location of the movie early on. We are shown a street sign and for those who know the city, it is obviously the Old Town neighborhood in Chicago. As the man jogs, it appears that he is running along the lakefront near Belmont harbor. Next, he is running in a residential area that features big houses and wide streets. While there are mansions in Chicago, this looks more like some North Shore neighborhoods. For a character who creates a super stronghold, it seems inconsistent that he does an unprotected daily run that takes him on a twenty plus mile run.

This is one of those movies you could watch with your older teens. Just be aware that there is plenty of violence and some swearing as this has a PG-13 rating. It wasn’t the worst movie I‘ve seen this year but I was hoping it would be better.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

As some of you may know, I was diagnosed with Type Two Diabetes a few years ago.

Despite watching my diet and exercising, there have been no easy fixes. I did not have that lovely dramatic weight loss nor have my numbers chosen to stay in their proper range.

Recently I was told to get diabetic shoes and change a few more aspects of my daily routines. While I know I am lucky that I never had Type One, there are days when I wonder if I will ever get used to all of this. I think about the changes I have made and wonder what else is there for me to give up. But I also try to not look at is as giving up but prolonging my life with fewer health complications.

Secret Life of Walter Mitty posterIt is saddening and overwhelming, making me want to hide from it all some days.

Perhaps that is why I have been thinking about the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013). This remake of the classic MGM movie is about a man who spends much of his life day dreaming about the things he wishes he could be or do.

Walter, as played by Ben Stiller, has always been a very careful man, a guarded man, who have never traveled or done anything outside of the small parameter of his life. Recently, he has developed a crush on a co-worker but is not brave enough to talk to her. He works as an image manager for Life magazine that is about to print it’s final hard copy magazine. Soon, this version of Life will be online only and staff members will lose their jobs.

It is up to Walter to find the last picture from a renown photographer and the man jumps into the assignment. The man afraid to travel find himself flinging himself into one adventure after another, trying to find the reclusive photographer and the final image meant to be the final cover image of a dying magazine.

Secret life of Walter Mitty skateboardThrough his adventures, Walter discovers something about himself. I guess we expect that because this movie is all about change and growth. And we want it to be happy. And Walter changes through his travels. When ever someone goes on a journey of self discovery and growth, there are expectations that this person will be a better version of themselves.

Walter may have wished for more when he started on his journey. He expects more when he returns home. And he gets more. I love the travelogue aspect of this movie, the beautiful scenery. I enjoy some of the philosophy as well. Sean Penn can deliver the mystical magical performance when needed, sometimes that mystical aura is right there in front of us and we just can’t see it.

Sometimes it requires us to travel around the world to see what was always there but hiding in plain sight.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Infinity War

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

So Friday night, my daughter and I went to see Avengers: Infinity War. Even though I had bought tickets the night before, we still had to wait outside in a long line to get in to the theater before the show.

Avengers Infinity WarI have to admit I went into this movie with some fears and preconceived notions. I wasn’t sure if this was the last movie, that it would end the series. I wondered how bloody it would be or if it would be too much for me to watch.

I walked in with these fears because this movie was going to be heavy. Thanos, a super villain, is a character who is trying to find balance in the world and he tends to invade various worlds. He almost always instantly kill half of the population with no rhyme or reason as to who is killed.

But now he is trying to collect six infinity stones in order to put his plan of equal destruction throughout the universe without having to leave the comfort of his home. We watch as Thanos tromps his way through the universe working to get the remaining of the six stones.

That is all I can say without getting much more into the story line. It is too complicated.

I can tell you this. Do not go in blind.

There are a lot of characters from the Marvel universe, some from the first Captain America movie. Others come from the Thor and Iron Man movies. Newer characters who have had only one or two movie so far are here as well.

If you don’t go on a Marvel Universe binge before seeing this movie, you might want to create a score card. There will barely be any clues as to how various characters relate to each other. As they interact with each other you will only notice some friendliness between a few and animosity between others.

Honestly, it is easier to go on a Marvel Universe binge.

Avengers Infinity War 2Once you do, go see this movie because it is great. It asks the difficult questions of mortality and survival and why anyone would continue fighting when it appears nothing is left. This is not the usual light-hearted comic book fare. It is heavy with light moments thrown in. And there are moments when the crowd in the theater cheered because favorite characters showed up. There are other moments when the crowd voiced their disappointment over happenings in the movie.

This is one movie that will stick in my head for quite some time. I will think about different characters and what they were willing to do to fight evil. I will think about the Rapture and how this movie reminds me of those aspects.

I might even go see this movie again to catch all the little things I missed that might lead to clues about the next Avengers movie which is currently scheduled to be released a year from now.

I am looking forward to it.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Greatest Showman

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

In this world of constant information, it can be hard to understand why showman P.T. Barnum was ever a success.

Greatest ShowmanHe relied on society’s fascination with anyone and everyone who was ‘different.’ He created exhibits and shows of what people wanted to see. He made money and lost money and made it again by taking phenomenal risks.

And that is only what is covered in the movie The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum. This movie covers the time that Barnum created his American Museum, his live performances, and the tour with Jenny Lind. We are thoroughly in the mid1800s without mention of the Civil War or Barmun’s abolitionist or temperance activities.

I hate to break it to you but this is not a documentary or bio pic looking to be accurate.

Instead, we get an action packed, musically driven story that hilights Barnum’s desire to make money anyway he can. The whys are the usual reasons that propel anyone to succeed. Barnum adds to this by being willing to risk everything all of the time – his home, his properties, his non-existent fleet of trains.

We also see that he is a brilliant promoter. He knows how to get people to his shows, how to publicize his shows, how to keep people coming into the door. All of this despite the protesters and the angry mob who do not want the freaks on display because freaks need to stay hidden at all times.

Greatest Showman - castThe music is not fitting with the times, instead it has a modern pop and hip-hop vibe. This is Me was nominated for an Oscar and is the big song of the movie as the Barnum show cast sings it with dignity when they become more open about who they are.

The dance sequences are incredible as well. Based on Broadway hip-hop spectacular and Busby Berkley views from the top, we see how Barnum is the center of the show. He wants to be the center, he wants to drive the show, he wants to be the one who says ‘look at this, you have never seen this before.’

Hugh Jackman is great in this movie because he encompasses the hope of a man who has failed before, he is a risk taker, and he is a pure raconteur constantly re-inventing himself with each new venture. Gone is the weariness that we saw in his role as Wolverine; instead we get a man hungry for success who never losses his lust for life. Michelle Williams plays his wife with her own ethereal style. It is something she can do in her sleep and yet I never get tired of watching her as her husband takes them from poverty to riches and down again.

Greatest Showman - Zac and ZendayaBut credit must go the rest of the cast including Keala Settle who plays the Bearded Woman, Lettie Lutz. Rebecca Ferguson is impressive as the legendary Jenny Lind. Zac Efron and Zendaya bring life to their roles as star crossed lovers in a time that did not allow racially-mixed couples. Their performances, singing, and dancing added spark to many scenes.

Not everyone is going to like this movie. But for those who love the musical genre, this makes a great spectacular to add to your collection.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Make’ em laugh

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When life gets hectic, all I really want to do is laugh.

I want to laugh until my sides hurt.

Lately, I have found myself angry and tired of seeing people with guns going into schools and shoot up whoever they can find. I am tired of there being no answers, no solutions, and nonsensical arguments being bandied about.

So I look for comedies to distract and make fun of the world.

Arsenic and Old Lace posterI grabbed a few comedies the other week with Arsenic and Old Lace (1941) being at the top of the pile. This classic stars Cary Grant as a theater critic who loudly stated in the past he has no intention of marrying – ever. That is until he falls in love with the girl next door, Priscilla Lane. They wed at city hall but before going on their honeymoon, Grant wants to tell his two aunts. They are the sweetest ladies who do much charitable work in Brooklyn.

And he will, right after they discuss the dead man in the window seat AND his homicidal brother’s return to town AND the bodies in the basement AND elderberry wine. All of this happens on Halloween night.

It is silly and goofy and completely over the top. Cary Grant thought this was one of his worst performances. Pearl Harbor occurred during the shooting of the movie, and Director Frank Capra meant to make more edits before he left to join the armed services. But he never did tone it down.

They story is fun, the action is quick, and the fight scene between the brother and the police is enough to make one laugh a few belly laughs.

But in case you want something a bit more modern, there is always Date Night starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey. These two crazy kids are a couple who fear they have fallen into a rut, especially after close friends tell them the friends are getting divorced.

Date Night posterSo on their usual date night, Tina and Steve push their boundaries. They dress up a little more, go into NYC to a hot new restaurant for a meal, and take someone else’s reservation. But of course there is a problem, these things always lead to problems. It appears that the couple who did not show for the reservation is holding on to something belonging to a criminal figure.

And as the night goes on this couple has to figure out how to stay one step ahead of bad police guys, find the couple, get the flash drive, get help from super security guy Mark Wahlberg, and get home in time to pay the babysitter. Oh, and stay alive.

This is not a movie for those people who do not like swearing. It can get raunchy at times and definitely not for kids. That’s ok because sometimes couples need a break from the routine and watch something meant for adults. I always liked this movie for being both preposterous in the action and deeply honest in the interaction between this couple.

It might be one of the few romantic comedies that features car chases and shoot outs before the ending resolves into happy-ever-after.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Thor: Ragnarok

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Once I found out that Thor: Ragnarok was on video, I wanted to see it.

Thor RagnarokIt is no secret that I am a big fan of the Marvel comic series movies. I have seen most of them and love them. Each one fits into to the overall story line, with different issues being addressed specific to those characters.

But this one I knew was going to be different. It was reported that Chris Hemsworth wanted a different feel to this movie and I could understand why. Thor is a stoic character most of the time with a bit of fiery emotion that is hard to control. This can be hard to play all of the time.

In using new director Taiki Watiti, improvisation was the rule on set. Some of the lines came from suggestions from a fan who visited on set during a make-a-wish visit. Others came during the moment of filming. We have seen glimpses of humor throughout the past movies but here Hemsworth allows us to see a goofier and sometimes more honest version of Thor.

But there are other momentary glimpses of perfection. Such as when a Led Zepplin song is used for the final battle song. I giggled and screamed a little when I realized the legendary English band’s ode to Nordic myth set the scene for this important battle. I could have sworn Loki’s hair did a slow motion swoop during this scene, matching the musicality of the song.

The story is about Thor’s need to get home after being captured on a distant planet. He needs to beat the super opponent in order to be able to leave. And he must get back home to stop his older sister, that he never knew about, from destroying Asgard.

Thor and LokiWhile I love this series for developing characters and making us like them even more than before, never have I seen this group of actors mix the serious and the humorous so seamlessly. His description of the break-up with Jane is telling and funny and face-saving in one fell swoop.

But other characters, including Tom Hiddleston and Jeff Goldblum go for the humor as well, working in the subtleties of their characters as allowed. It is not a total wink at the camera but there is enough to let us know the actors are trying to have fun while dealing with the serious aspects of this movie.

There are plenty of sight gags and oops moments, physical humor and eye rolls that make us laugh. But there are also moments of emotional angst and personal introspection as characters decide who they really are as a soulful creature. There are always ethical issues to mull over in a Marvel comic book movie but here we get it mixed with humor.

Thor valkarie and helaCate Blanchette, Tessa Thompson and Rachel House are great as women warriors who fight with fury and their own sense of purpose or right and wrong. There are so many moments with these women that you just need to watch the whole movie to catch their wonderful moments that string along wonderful baubles into a beautiful necklace.

The essentials of the Marvel movie remains. But the differences make this movie worth the viewing. Who can resist The Immigrant Song by Led Zepplin during the major battle scene?

No one, I tell you, no one.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Live from Jerusalem

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

As Easter comes closer, I have to admit I look forward to the annual showing of Jesus Christ Superstar.

I remember when I was a kid and people hated this version of the crucifixion story. It was too secular. The music was loud and bombastic. It seemed to have no understanding of the greatest story ever told. It was blasphemy.

I can’t remember what my very religious grandmother may have thought about the movie. I can’t imagine she was very happy about the movie as she was a bit old fashioned.

Jesus Christ Superstar Ted NeelyI must have known about it because I remember singing the title song and having a classmate tell me I was going to to to the fiery place. Nancy was Catholic and must have heard that from her parents or her priest.

As the years have past and I have seen the movie again. I found it to be heart breaking and beautiful as we walk through the last weeks of Jesus’ life. I always thought that the cast were experimenting with how things happened in that way. I always got the sense that they thought this time it would be different, that they could do this and Jesus wouldn’t die.

Ted Neely was in his prime at the time of the filming of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was young and handsome in that early 70s style. His voice could be gentle and ferocious. The scene in which Jesus destroys the temple sticks out for the anger we seldom ever saw from Jesus. The same goes for the Hosannah scene in which Jesus comes to Jerusalem in triumph.

Later scenes walk us through the various parts of the story in which Jesus confronts his immediate future and what he must do, no matter how difficult. Strangely enough, we never see the resurrection, we never see the next part of the story. It simply ends with the crucifixion and the regret of the remaining characters.

john-legend-sara-bareilles-jesus-christ-superstar-portraitsThis Sunday a new version will be shown live with John Legend in the lead role. If I have learned anything over the years, it is that Legend has a fantastic voice with a great range. His songs have great emotional scope so I feel confident that he can make the role incredible.

These live musical events have been going on for a few years now and they seem to be very successful. It is exciting to see performances in a live setting as you never know what can happen. But the other part of a live performance is that the emotions of the performers are more raw, more tangible.

Because the play was so popular with an iconic performance by Neely, it will be interesting to see how John Legend handles the role. I am also anxious to see Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene and Alice Cooper as King Herod in this production. While not everyone will agree with the rock opera treatment, I find telling this story in different ways brings the story to a larger audience, always an interesting challenge.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Shape of Water

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Since the Best Movie was announced at the Oscar Awards, I have been wanting to see The Shape of Water.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, the movie is described as an other-worldly fable. I was fascinated by the character who lives in the water, a creature who looks vaguely like the creature from the Black Lagoon.

Shape of water posterMy son and I watched it together, and because it is a bit touchy at times, I found myself leaving the room occasionally. I don’t like blood or much violence or action that takes place under water.

Our main character is a mute woman who lives alone but has a lively relationship with her next door neighbor. She works at a secret government lab as a cleaning woman. One day a new ‘asset’ is brought to the lab, a creature that needs to be underwater most of the time.

What government interrogator Michael Shannon plans to do with the creature is unknown. But for the present time, torturing the creature is high on his list.

Elisa and Zelda, Elisa’a black co-worker, are allowed to clean in the locked lab. Sometimes, Elisa has lunch in there and develops a relationship with the creature. She teaches him sign language and they begin to communicate.

This is not a movie for everyone. There is violence and swearing and short bits of nudity. But there are also questions of right and wrong and how we treated people in the early sixties that was supposed to be a time of magical kingdoms. You will be required to think while watching this cinematic spectacle of wonders.

Shape of Water Sally OctaviaThis movie is gorgeous to look at. The sets of Elisa’s and Giles’ apartments are rich and detailed. The lab is retro to what we thought secrets labs should look like if they were housing a creature that required living underwater most of the time.

And our water monster is incredible as well, his gills flying out when angry. His scales coming off after hours of torture and deprivations. Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones as our mute couple display more emotions than we ever see in most Kate Hudson romantic comedies.

I know what I saw and I know that this was a beautifully realized movie. But my head is still pondering and wondering at all of the side details and unspoken commentary about life in the Cold War era. Not everyone was valued, people with good ideas and instincts were discarded because they did not fit the boundaries of normal at that time. Even the Russian spy is never everything we think that person should be.

If you plan to see this movie, be prepared for normal to not be so normal. Be prepared for something weird and out of this world. Be prepared for a fairytale where monsters walk free and others wrangle for that hope of freedom. It is a weird and strange, lovely and beguiling movie. One of my friends told me not to waste my time. I am telling you that if you like the weird and beguiling, this might be the movie for you.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When doing the annual St. Patrick’s Day column, I try to stay away from those movies I write about every year.

I heart IrishNot going to talk about Into the West yet again. If you haven’t seen it, then you should. It’s a great movie featuring a legendary horse out of Irish folklore.

The same goes for Ondine and The Secret of Roan Inish. Both movies feature selkies, the latter is from the past, the former is set in modern times. While there are not chase scenes both are worth while. Check them out.

I have not talked about any Daniel Day-Lewis movies in the past. Just know that he is one of the best actors ever but his movies tend to live on the serious side of life. They are worth the time spent watching.

Before we talk movies, I will tell you that my friend once again had her wonderful potato party. I was lazy and did not bring a topping for the potatoes. Instead I focused on my green dessert. I made dark chocolate brownies with minty green frosting. Yes, the brownies had mint-flavored frosting.

They were tasty and since I under cooked them, slightly, they were soft and moist. When I took them home, there was great remorsing. I have no regrets.

Tara RoadSo this year for movies, I am suggesting chick flicks, the kind that make women cry and laugh and want to throw things at the TV. Thank God Irish novelist Maeve Binchy had two novels made into movies before she passed away in 2012.

 

 

First up is Tara Road starring Olivia Williams and Andie McDowell as two women who switch houses for two months after their lives have fallen apart irrevocably. Ria and Marilyn swap houses between Dublin and the United States. Both hope to seek a respite from their own lives while healing from the pain of loss.

Is this a first rate production? Not really but I do enjoy it for the strong performances by Williams and McDowell. They slowly meld into the other’s life while discovering strengths of their own. Its the perfect movie to watch with girlfriends.

Circle of FriendsThe other Irish movie for a chick flick festival is Circle of Friends starring Minnie Driver and Chris O’Donnell. This movie is about two friends (Benny and Nan) who go to University, meet up with a childhood friend, and discover love. Driver plays the sweet Benny who is never allowed to forget that she is heavier than most girls.

O’Donnell is the pre-med student from a wealthy family who falls in love with Benny. Some how they find each other and work towards developing a relationship. But life and other manipulations work towards disaster. Benny finds herself challenged and heart broken and ready to move forward.

This is the kind of movie to watch to remember life when everything seemed ‘simplier.’ All you need now is some popcorn and dark chocolate brownies with mint frosting.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.