Category: Family Movie Night


Suicidal Blonde, NOT!

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

This has been one of those weeks where the good and bad of life seems tipped towards the bad.

The Bradley Christmas parade was fun with the weather being optimal for a night time parade. It was cold but not too cold. It was not windy, raining, or snowing. We had fun, the kids in the band looked like they were having fun.

Parade, christmasMy friends and I were standing near the Mexican bakery and had great hot chocolate to drink. We laughed at the princesses who didn’t stay in their car but made a point of taking pictures and shaking hands with the crowds. That was Friday night.

Saturday afternoon I found out a friend who lives in Indiana has had the bottom drop out of her world. Her son and his children were in a car accident that took the lives of the children and put her son with life threatening injuries in the burn unit. His girlfriend had lesser injuries. But still, they lost their children, ages 2 and 7 months.

Crashed car terrenceThe only good news is that my friend’s son is still alive but in a coma. It’s unknown if he is going to make it. However, the police were able to catch the person who caused the accident.

When the world gets crazy, I need a movie like Atomic Blonde starring Charlize Theron. I need a movie with a strong character who is good at solving problems or getting herself out of sticky problems.

In this movie, Theron plays an MI6 spy who is sent to Berlin just as the wall is about to come down. She is sent to retrieve something or someone. But just as it appears it is going as plan it goes all wrong. And our spy has to do whatever it takes to keep her mission on track.

There are several elements that makes this movie fantastic.

First are the fight scenes which are choreographed well. They are tough to watch, long drawn out events, and feature fighters who might be a bit tired near what could be the end.

Secondly the soundtrack is allout euro-techno pop. It reminded me so much of the 80s with music by Nina, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and so many others. I was having flashbacks just by the soundtrack.

atomic-blonde-posterLastly, while it was a standard spy double-crossed movie I was sucked into the story line. I need to find out who was supposed to be who. Of course there is a double agent and I wanted to know exactly who it was, even if I was completely wrong in the end.

Some of you may have seen the end and knows what happens. I’m not telling about that. For me, it was thrilling and electric. But I need to warn those who do not like swearing, violence in a movie, or more graphic love scenes. There is plenty of that stuff in this movie and if it makes you queasy or upset, perhaps it is best to not watch.

For me the most terrifying things were her constant baths in ice cold water. There is a purpose to it and I get it that it is a spy thing. Still gave me chills up and down the spine. I had a feeling I knew exactly where it was leading. And I was right.

In the end, the problems were solved with biting violence that made everything irrevocable, Problems erased with a great deal of finality.

Maybe that is not how we do it in real life. But sometimes when life throws bricks at us, I want a way to throw them right back with twice as much force. That is the feeling Atomic Blonde leaves me. Violence with the hope of redemption.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Christmas Hope and Faith

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Every year on Thanksgiving day or soon after, there is one movie I must watch. It is a movie full of sentimental feelings, of earnestness and faith.

It is not a favorite with most of my family but slowly they are all around watching the movie right down to the bitter end.

Miracle Parade SantaOf course I am talking about Miracle on 34th Street. And as far as I am concerned the best version is from 1947 in the original black and white.

Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his performance as a man named Kris Kringle. He looks like a real-life Santa who knows more about the North Pole elf than even the most dedicated Santa-geek.

In the movie, we meet Kris as he discovers a drunken Santa on the float of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. He becomes the Macy store Santa who brings his own costume and charm along with a customer service attitude that surprises both customers and store leadership.

Miracle on 34th StreetHis grace and actual interest in others makes friends with many of his co-workers including Mr. Macy. Mrs. Walker who organizes the parade each year works to find a home for Kris. Meanwhile, Kris sees this as an opportunity to teach Mrs. Walker and her daughter, Susan, how to trust and have faith.

But when an incompetent psychologist is offended by Kris and works to have him committed, it takes Mrs. Walker’s lawyer neighbor, Fred Gaily, to keep Kris from being sent away forever.

This is a movie I have known by heart since I was in my teens. I know every scene, maybe not word by wordt, but certainly by how it all feels. Every time I watch it I notice something different. Maybe it is the way Kris and Albert talk to each other or how the rooms are decorated.

What never fails to catch my attention is how hope and faith are the focus of the story although we are never told if the Walker family are Christians or non-religious. These two parts of the story, the bedrock, depends on how we interact with others. They depend on how we treat others, what we expect, and what we expect to get back. In this case, we come to realize that Kris is motivated by the joy he sees in others when he gives them presents that have real meaning.

Edmund Gween Miracle IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

This movie reveals the true meaning of the holiday, even for non-believers. It was a sentiment needed after a long war that was hard on many families. Hope, faith, joy. It’s all there.

The movie was an instant hit when it was released in June of 1947 and stayed in theater till the holiday season of that year. People needed, wanted the emotions displayed in this movie. And I think we are looking for all of that today. The question is how do we make this happen in our lives?

After all, not all of us can find a Kris Kringle for a Christmas intervention. Sometimes we have to create the intervention for ourselves.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Waiting and Watching

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

There are so many great movies out right now, I am not sure which one I want to see first.

Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express

There is a new Justice League movie and the adaptation of Wonder starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. Kenneth Branaugh plays Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express. There’s the movie about the three billboards and another about the special relationship between mother and daughter.

But the holiday movie I am really excited about won’t hit theaters till the middle of December.

That’s right, it is The Last Jedi which is Episode 8 on the Star Wars trilogy trilogy.

I will be honest when I say that I really don’t like episodes 2 or 3. These are bland movies that never allowed whatever chemistry that Natalie Portman and Hayden Christopher might have had shine through to the screen. The battle scenes are tremendous but there should have been something more to make us love Pademe even more.

The Last Jedi CFWhat I am excited about is the chance to see Carrie Fisher one more time. The actress passed away last year during the Christmas season which was made worse by her own mother passing away a few days later.

But now we get to see her final bit of work, her final time as General Leia. I know it will be heart-breaking and sad, that I will cry when I see her on that screen. I feel as if Carrie Fisher has always been in my life in some form and her brilliance not being available anymore is sad.

It wasn’t just her work in Star Wars, I admired that she was the person movie makers called when they knew their script wasn’t quite right. She became a script doctor, making a variety of movies better because of the dialogue she wrote.

She appeared in some movies uncredited and made them better by showing up. She made When Harry Met Sally better by being the misguided friend who didn’t get that the married men she dated were never leaving their wives which was a supporting role.

In getting ready for this next movie in the Star Wars series, I am very tempted to watch every movie, starting with Episode IV:A New Hope. It will always be Star Wars in my head because this is where we start, this is where we meet Luke, Hans, Chewy and Leia. This is where we learn to fear Darth Vader and revere ObiWan.

The Last JediAnd when we get to The Force Awakens I know I will be crying for a variety of reasons. But I want to see them again in this new movie as I have never wanted to see them before. Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley may be the new generation but Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are the touch points of the older one.

I want to see how they will pass on the torch.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

In the Service

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Making movies about war situations to me is a difficult thing.

There is the intense planning and choreography of people and debris and bullets or bombs.

It is why I appreciate war movies even if they are not my favorite genre. To give a compelling performance while hearing the sounds of warfare, to perform as things blow up around you must be quite difficult. At some point, despite knowing it is all pretend, this must feel real. The bombings and the dust and the potential to lose limb or life.

I remember an interview with Charleston Heston who stated that in one movie he had to walk through a crowd as they cheered him on and how it was easy to walk along feeling proud. All of these people were cheering for him and it was great!

Megan LeaveyOne of the newer movies to come to the home video market has me intrigued but my attempts to see it without buying it have been unsuccessful. Megan Leavey is about a young woman who becomes a marine in order to escape the troubles of her life.

Disciplinary problems follow and one of her jobs is to take care of the cages of the military dogs. One of the most incorrigible dogs is Rex, a huge German Shepard bomb sniffing dog. Somehow, they bond and become a team. Woman and dog work well together till one day a bomb goes off too close and both are injured.

Another movie that came out last year set during an active theater is Hacksaw Ridge starring Andrew Garfield. Directed by Mel Gibson who has always had a knack for war scenes, this movie tells the story of a conscientious objector who managed to save 75 men during the battle of Okinawa.

Hacksaw RidgeThe man is a soldier who doesn’t want to shoot anyone so he is the group medic. When does his fellow soldiers begin to like him? Right about the time that Desmond proves his worth and saves this large group of men during a nasty, nasty battle.

It is these aspects that non-veterans may not understand but we try. We see these movies and grow to understand how bonds are built through the work of war. You don’t have to agree with war to be a great co-hort with the rest of your troop members. You don’t have to get along with people to discover a useful role within your platoon.

While us civilians may not understand everything it takes to be a soldier, to be a good soldier, we do try. And in that trying, we hope that we give the respect deserved to the men and women who make the sacrifice to serve our country and serve it well.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Revisiting Salem

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

As what seems to be fitting for the season, I have been listening to an audio book called How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather.

How to hang a witch

It is a young adult novel about a 16 year-old girl who moves to Salem after her father’s health issues require less expensive care in Boston as opposed to New York. The problem is she is a direct descendant of Cotton Mather, the guy who wrote the book on how to discern witches just before the Salem witch trials. Nor did he ever try to stop these witch trials other than to say spectral evidence is not true evidence and should not be used.

For Samantha, everything becomes worse when a group of girls called the Descendants hate her almost on first sight. These girls are direct descendants of the original victims of the Salem Witch Trials. Lizzie, Mary, Alice, and Suzannah blame the trials on Cotton Mather, making Samantha guilty by association.

But of course things happen that make Sam realize she needs to work with the Descendants. Conversely she is on the constant edge of thinking everyone is betraying her in some way, including her somewhat new boyfriend, Jaxon.

I love the idea of this book but the heroine could get so tedious at times with her lack of trust. That is until you get to the final chapters with the big fight and you just need to see how it all ends.

With the setting being at the most famous trial in the country, it is easy to imagine how quickly people can go down the rabbit hole of fear and suspicion. And you begin to feel awkward about what happened to those people so long ago.

Salem_tv_series-wide.jpgInterestingly enough, there used to be a show on WGN TV just last year called Salem that focused on the period of the witch trials. If you happen to watch it, what fascinates me is how that era was depicted. Wood buildings, dirty walk ways, forests that seem wild and dangerous and filled with evil.

The story is about a young man named John Aldin (played by Shane West) who returns to Salem after a nine year absence, What he finds is the start of the witch trials and people being put to death for crimes with little or no evidence. Worse yet, the woman he loves is now married to a man who forced his departure. That is not the worst,

The worst is seeing his hometown moving into a frenzy to find the head witch and killing innocent people along the way.

This show has been canceled but it is available on Netflix. A part of me could binge on this program, another part of me hears the creepy music and sees the setup with that dread feeling that things are not going as smoothly as I thought things would. And nor are all of the characters who or what you thought they would be.

It is one of those shows that moves from somewhat realistic to the fantastical. While I have watched this show without the kids around, it is one I might watch with my teens but not my younger son. There is just enough realism to stick in a kid’s or the easily affected mind to cause some nightmares.

Not everyone will agree with me, not everyone will feel this way. I like a spooky show every now and again just like anyone else. This one is crazy and ridiculous most of the time. But I would only suggest it to people who know what they’re getting into. Accusing people of using ‘magic’ to cause bad feelings or supernatural actions is too close to real life.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Delving into the Deep

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Maybe it was a dream, maybe it was someone hoping. But I could have sworn I heard or saw that this year’s World Series was going to be between the Dodgers and the Yankees.

Immediately my head started thinking about how somethings never change, even when teams switch coasts or get new ball parks or have long-time owners die.

I thought about players such as Lou Gerhig, the Yankee who died from ALS and became the namesake of the devastating illness. I thought of Yankee Joe DiMaggio with his 56 hit streak and later devotion to Marilyn Monroe.

I thought of the dodger’s phenomenal pitcher, Sandy Koufax and groundbreaking Jackie Robinson.

That is until I finally heard that it was going to be the Huston Astros vs, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.”

Field of James, Kevin and JamesJames Earl Jones, in his deep-throated honey voice said these lines in Field of Dreams, a movie that never doubted the magic of baseball.

This is not a movie for little kids, not contextually. Sure they can watch it for the most part and they might understand some of it, especially that desire to play catch with your dad. But the grief one feels at lost opportunities or the crazy motivation to turn your field of corn into a baseball diamond is powered by something more adult. There is a longing that children or teens may not quite get but adults do.

That is why this movie makes men cry.

I find Dracula movies are complex like that as well. I’m not talking about Twilight but those movies that feature Dracula as a man who lives on the side of evil but remembers when he wasn’t that way. You see it in the Bela Lugosi 1931 version, the way he looks to Mina to become what he is and to have her by his side always.

There is something of love, of hope, of a determination to not be alone.

Dracula-untold-luke-evansYou see this theme in many of the Dracula movies, even the Gary Oldman version from 1992 fed on this theme. Winona Rider who played Mina, made her love for the count an obession worth dying for.

Over the years, we have not lost our fascination with the undead. Writers and film makers have explored what it means to be a vampire, The last movie I found was in 2014 starring Luke Evans as Vlad, a man who is trying to protect his village but takes extreme measures to do it. Dracula Untold may not be a good movie but it is filled with action. And it shows a man who understands the decisions he makes, accepting their consequences.

That is always one thing I respected about Dracula, no matter what his incarnation. He is who he is with no regrets, no looking back. Otherwise, wouldn’t he try to kill himself or have Van Helsing do it for him?

Maybe this weekend I could explore one of these incarnations. Even Gerard Butler has taken on the role with a New Orleans setting in Dracula 2000 before he became a super action hero saving the U.S president one more time.

Bring on the popcorn.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Zombie Love and Hate

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Zombie movies have been the bane of my existence. They terrify me and come back to haunt me in my dreams.

And I love them. There is something about them that exhilarates me. I think about how close you are too death and how close you are to life as a zombie.

Yes, I realize this is horrible and strange and fun all at once.

The problem is I can never watch a zombie movie ever again once I have seen it.

The reason has nothing to do with them being bad but being so good I will find myself in a zombie apocalypse for the rest of the night.

Shaun of the Dead

But if I could watch them, the first movie I would go to is Shaun of the Dead starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. This British comedy duo put together a good zombie movie that happens to parody the genre while scaring one to bits. I can’t say what I started to write because this is a family-read paper.

 

 

The story is about a man who is a bit of a sad sack who wakes up one morning to discover that the Zombie apocalypse is happening in his town, in all of his favorite places. His first thought is to save his ex-girlfriend because this turmoil has made him realize that he loves her and wants forever with her.

There are bits that will make you laugh, make you cry, and in the end, make you shake your head just a bit while being terrified because these zombies eat brains and whatever parts of the body they can get their hands on. This movie, despite being a comedy, is not for kids. It has an R rating which means there is lots of blood and gore as well as swearing. The Brits love the f-bomb.

28 Days laterA more realistic zombie movie is 28 Days Later. This movie is about a zombie apocalypse in England. It is 28 days since the outbreak of a virus that makes people incredibly angry. Angry enough to tear family members apart. There is no reasoning with these zombies, only a bullet can stop them. Cillian Murphy wakes from a coma to discover this new world. He eventually meets up with other survivors to find a safe place,

But there may be no safe place. That’s the killing part of this movie by Danny Boyle. It is not easy to watch, not easy to think about but this movie filled with great performances by some of the lions of British film stars. Again, it is rated “R.”

Warm bodies

 

But if you want a zombie movie that is a little easier to handle, the first is Warm Bodies starring Nicholas Hoult as a dead young man willing to kill other humans to be his dinner every night. That is until he sees Teresa Palmer being a hot-shot zombie killer. Something inside of him changes and he slowly becomes more human. Played like a romantic comedy with the what-if scenario of zombies being re-born, it is interesting to say the least.

 

scooby doo zombie IslandThe other is my go-to for kids and that is Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. Here Scooby-Doo and the gang are investigating a haunted island in the middle of the Bayou for a TV segment for Daphne’s Haunted America TV show. But our meddling kids get more than they bargained for as they realized that they are dealing with real monsters, instead of a guy in a suit. It is fun lite scare that will put only the smallest of viewers down nightmare hallway.

That is my favorite place to avoid at all costs.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Gotcha!

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Now that Halloween is near, I am seeing some great Halloween decorations around town and the county.

Ghoulies and ghosts, bats and pumpkins are flying about about or sitting in cute arrangements. We have ghosties to put in our yard and I have started buying candy for that big event at the end of the month. Our church is planning a Trunk-or-Treat event as well.

The leaves are turning and the air smells different. It feels crisp and clear, perhaps this is our version of the Californian sweater weather that I have heard of but never experienced. I know I can go out in the morning with a sweat jacket when I have to walk the dog in the morning and at night. But if I work in the garden during the day, I have to take off a layer.

Trying to find movies I can watch during this time is a challenge. I don’t watch scary movie because they give me nightmares. These movies replay in my head once I shut my eyes which is not always fun. I have to do some serious meditation to keep these movies from sticking. I don’t know how other parents do it. I didn’t let my kids watch the really scary stuff for a long time. My fall back during the season was always Scooby Doo.

The Woman in Black IMDb com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

It’s movies such as The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe that really get to me. These flicks have plenty of “Gotcha” moments that make a person jump and scream a little or a lot. In this movie, Radcliffe is a lawyer sent to close the estate of a deceased client in a far-off English village on the coast. He has to be in her house and anytime the Woman in Black appears, children are going to die. Her unhinged anger at losing a child led to unhinged anger in the after life. Who knew?

What is funny is that I love watching ghost shows such as Dead Files and Ghost Adventures. These people are always going into allegedly haunted places and finding ghosts or evil entities. The things that they say or their actions can be quite frightening. However, when they replay the event you can see how scary or not scary the event might be. You can see if it is real or not. Or as real as it can look; my kids are always telling me how fake these shows are.

The difference between these is the build up to the action. In horror movies, you always know that something is about to happen for a variety of reasons. First, the character is doing something stupid, such as wandering around alone. Second, the music becomes eerie with discordant sounds that sets a person’s nerve on edge. That is when the moment happens. The evil entity jumps out, the mass murderer gets another person, someone disappears or falls through an open elevator shaft.

But in the ghost shows the action never has build up other than a voice over stating that the scene you’re about to see shows some conclusive evidence. There is little music run-up or if there is, it follows a statement before immediately going into commercial break.

Those are the scares I can handle.

slasher movie villiansFreddy, Jason, Michael, zombies, Leatherface, and the Woman in Black terrify me every time. Even when I know they are coming, even when I hear all of the warning signs.

Probably a good thing I am not like the majority of movie goers or horror films would not have stayed so successful.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

It’s a Documentary!

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I love watching a good documentary.

It is those true stories that have meaning and verve that make you feel wonder and awe about our life here. Some of them make us feel something more uneasy.

Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Image from IMDb.com

I have loved some documentaries in the past. I loved Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a documentary about the studio musicians of Motown when the studio was based in Detroit. Just the soundtrack alone is enough to make me smile. It is the stories of those musicians that make you cry or stand in wide wonder of these men.

Another that is the tops on my list is Man on a Wire about a French man’s tightrope expedition between the twin towers of New York City. To hear the story of how Philippe Petit planned and executed his famous but highly illegal performance is fascinating and a bit of a heist movie with plenty of dumb luck.

But there is one man who is the master of the documentary and that is Ken Burns. Whenever I watch his movies, I feel as if I have learn something I was not going to learn anywhere else. I feel ten times smarter although if I had just read or looked up some of the facts he portrays, I might have known them too.

His newest documentary is call The Vietnam War. It is a movie that does not shy away from a war that might be our nation’s biggest regret. The episode I watched featured a clip about Jane Fonda, aka Hanoi Jane. If you want to get a room of people upset, just mention her name. I find people still react strongly to her. I am certain I have not heard of positive word said about her for the last 20 or more years.

Anyhoo, there is a section of Jane’s visit to the North side – the one where she allegedly took a note from one of our guys as prisoner and sent him to his death. Well, that didn’t happen in reality but the story persists. And while Burns gives us the reasoning from the vet’s point of view about her actions in visiting segment. I am not sure anyone will believe it just as I am sure no one ever really believed her apology.

Vietnam warRegardless of your view of Jane Fonda, what you can’t get around is the visceral feelings this will bring up, especially those who served in the war, protested the war, or grew up during the war era. Ken Burns stated that with every day and new fact that turned up, he felt embarrassed by the new details he learned during the production of this film.

One of my friends, who is a retired librarian, said this film reminded her why she protested this war. I can’t imagine all of the reactions people might have to this series. But I do know that because this was made by Ken Burns it will be a high quality movie.

Just be aware that if you go to buy this movie or check it out from the Library, there are several disks. It might take you time to get through all of them. But the movie is guaranteed to make you think about that war, the things we did, those other soldiers did, and guess at what you might have done.

And that is not an easy thing to think about.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Hear all about it

Family Movie Night

 

Last weekend our own Gladys, the newspaper lady, was the grand marshall of the Pumpkin Fest parade.

 

What an honor.

 

1959-1963-buick-invicta-1960I saw Gladys riding around in the back of a boat of a Buick. I remember when my grandmother had a large Chrysler like this. It was fantastic. Granted, I was too young to understand that the car took a lot of gas to run. But, boy, are those large cars wonderful to see.

 

Gladys was happy to have the ride and we are pretty lucky to have her in the town, helping various organizations and keeping the paper going into its 100+ years of existence. Her positive attitude has meant a great detail to me, personally. Over the years we have, of course, talked about favorite movies.

 

Most of the movies that Gladys and I talk about are various family movies that are funny and make us laugh. But the one movie that has remained a favorite over the years is Return to Me starring Minnie Driver.

 

It is a romantic comedy set in Chicago that is completely implausible. David Duchovney is a young architect whose wife dies in a freak car accident. Driver is a young woman with a serious heart condition. We meet her as she is awaiting a surgery to save her life.

 

Return to Me Poster 2 IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

Six months later, Duchovney and Driver meet when he comes for a blind date at her grandfather’s restaurant. The date is a disaster, the woman is a gold digging nightmare. But the odd couple manage to connect emotionally.

 

Soon they are seeing each other on a regular basis. But Driver manages to hide her chest scars do that Duchovney will not treat her as a fragile doll. That is until she sees her thank you letter to the family of the donor of her heart.

 

It is one of those romantic comedies that make you laugh and cry and realize that you know all of the people in this movie from Jim Belushi’s regular guy to Carol O’Connor’s over protective grandfather. Robert Loggia is the fairy god-uncle we could ever want. It is Bonnie Hunt who holds it all together as writer, director, and loyal best/friend.

 

This is one of my favorite movies because it feels like and old fashioned love story. The people, despite being in a preposterous situation, act consistently with good natures. These are people you want to be around. For an hour and a half, I know I will have a good time.

 

You have to hang on to good movies like that.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.