Tag Archive: Family Movie Night


The Lion in Winter

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Lately my facebook page has been filled with advertisements for The Favorite starring Rachel Weitz, Emma Stone, and Olivia Colman.

The story is about Queen Anne of England and how she was influenced by two women who were her favorites at various times.

*COMPOSITE* The Favourite GRABSThe women were in essence fighting over Anne, each with ideas of what would be best for the country.

It is a character study that is both fascinating and appalling.

I haven’t seen this movie yet but it does remind me of an older movie about a British royal family celebrating Christmas while trying to decide upon the heir to the king’s seat.

The Lion in Winter is set during the reign of King Henry II. The king is older and he has three sons wondering who will be the next king. WE know them as King Richard the Lionhearted, King John, and Geoffrey. To make everything more interesting, the Queen has been allowed to visit from her jail cell. Eleanor of Aquitaine is a dangerous woman who has tried to unseat her husband several times and almost succeeded once.

Henry and Eleanor are portrayed by Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn, two giants in the world of acting. One scene is filled with much emotion and constant stategising between these two as both try to get their favorites in place for power. There is much chemistry and fire between these two as they fight and love or just be.

Lion in WinterHenry!! was a ruthless king and Peter O’Toole gives him the right amount of passion and drive to be king. We watch him throw someone out a window and plot to make his favorite king. Katherine Hepburn give a tour -de force performance as a woman who constantly fights for her rights. But Hepburn makes her a standout woman who seems unafraid to admit what upsets her.

This movie also marks Anthony Hopkins debut as a screen actor as Prince Richard. Hopkins gives a strong performance and related the advice Hepburn gave to him regarding acting. Timothy Dalton appears as the French king.

Is this a Christmas movie? No, not really. It is set at Christmas but the family gathering is very intense with family members willing to take out the mates of their family members.

And yet there are beautiful parts of this movie with the grand entrance of the queen at the beginning. A part of me loves the dysfunction and the constant bickering. I love the grand scenes and the more intimate scenes. Even the final scene is fascinating as they make plans for the following year.

Despite being made in the 60s when there were more restrictions on movies, this one is not for kids. It has some harsh scenes and deadly outcomes. It contains adult context and should be kept for teens and older.

This is the season when kid shows and movies abound. This movie is for adults and something many of us can relate to even if our families are not royalty.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I hate it when I am looking forward to a movie and it doesn’t live up to what I had hoped it would be.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has been advertised for months. I was super excited to see Jude Law as a younger Dumbledore. Johnny Depp appearing as Grindelwald seems inspired.

crimes of grindelwald.jpgI knew that we would see Grindelwald’s beginnings as a leader of wanting only wizards to rule the world. I knew that there would be new and old characters developing the story further.

I didn’t expect the darkness but I should have because the timing of Grindelwald’s reign of terror coincides with WWII. And his message of a master race is eerily similar to Hitler’s messages from the early 1930s.

The movie starts with Grindelwald’s escape from New York, a scene in which enemies and partners are discarded like wet towels that are no longer needed. Soon enough we are finding out about his true intentions and desires. We see him slowly trying and winning more followers.

Meanwhile, Newt Scamander has continued to take care of his menagerie of creatures. Because of the events in New York City a few months back, he is no longer allowed to travel across international lines. But the ministry is willing to allow him to travel again if Newt is willing to ‘take care’ of the Credence problem.

Crimes of Grindelwald fullcastThere are other problems. When Queenie and Jacob show up in London, Newt knows immediately that Queenie has put Jacob, an American Muggle, under a spell. They want to marry but Jacob won’t until the law allows them to be married.

Soon enough all three find their way to Paris to find Tina, Quennie’s sister. Not to mention the situation with Dumbledore.

The animation of this movie is incredible. Magical creatures abound and seamlessly works on the screen. I feel as if we are in the London and Paris of the 1920s moving towards the 1930s with more fitted clothing but Marcel waves still abounding.

The problem is there are almost too many back stories that we need to make sense of everything. Some of our characters do not act in a way that seems true to the characters we have known. While Jude Law is good as Dumbledore and Eddie Redmayne continues to shine as Newt, there is something missing. The wonder of magic is simply not present enough despite Jacob’s efforts.

That compounds the fact that this movie is too dark in the story line, in the story telling, and in the characterization of Grindelwald. This is not a movie for children, as much as I wish it to be. It is better for teens and adults who might feel a kinship with Credence in his hunt for his real family.

The first movie had many magical elements and was fun. This second installment has moved to a darker place quite quickly and I feel the rest of the movies in this series will not go back to a lighter feeling. But how can it when we are talking about a holocaust?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

THe Lovely Emma Stone

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

There are various actors that I love to watch because their good. Some I like because they make acting look so easy no matter what role they are playing.

Lucy needs to be bold and daring. Emma Stone has all of that!

Zombieland

I started watching Emma Stone when she appeared in Zombieland. When I see Emma Stone, somehow, I am reminded of Lindsey Lohan. Stone is having the career that Lohan should have had. It is filled with a variety of roles in a variety of genres. Stone has done musical, comic book, drama, and historical movies. She has dipped her toes in science fiction and voice over work.

Everytime I see her in a movie, I am transported. I believe she is that character and her emotions always feel true.

Zombieland starred Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin as four survivors after the zombie apocalypse. They are all trying to get back to a place where they think it might be safe from the zombies, they all want to find if loved ones are still alive.

Stone reminded me of Zooey Deschanel with long dark hair and a sassy attitude. But the one thing I noticed is I could not stop watching Stone. Every time she was on the screen, I wanted to see what she would do next.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of watching Stone in a variety of movies. She has been a 1960s activist writer in The Help. She played Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man. That was followed by voicing the lead character in The Croods.

Birdman-Thomson-and-Sam

Birdman

While these were good, Stone would really shine in The Birdman starring Michael Keaton. The movie was about a man making a comeback on Broadway after a career of playing a super-hero character. Keaton might be crazy, he might really have some powers and we never know for certain.

Stone plays his daughter who has recently come out of drug rehab. She appears much thinners, pale, and has dark shadows under her eyes. But her performance especially at the end of the movie, is spellbinding. It is her reaction to her father’s final scene that allows you to believe in something happy, something positive.

While I thought La-La Land was uneven, Stone was marvelous. Her dancing was light and airy but done by a person who appeared to be confident and learning how to be better. And that matched her character, a young actress trying to make herself better with every role and every opportunity.

Emma Stone stars in Fox Searchlight Pictures' "THE FAVOURITE."Her latest movie is The Favorite set in the early 1700s in the royal court. Stone plays Abigail, a woman who comes to find a job at the royal residence of Queen Anne and becomes the person that the queen wants with her at all times.

This actually happened as Queen Anne slowly turned from her favorite of Lady Sarah Marlborough to Abigail. As I watched the clips, I loved how Stone handled various situations and I found she sounded similar to friends of my children. For those in high school yet, Stone is an inspiration of how to act and how to be during interviews and on set.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Spy who Dumped Me

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman


The other day I started writing my column when I realized I was going to have to scrap it.


My youngest son had to go to the ER. What started out being flu-like turned out to be appendicitis. Surgery took place on Friday morning and the weekend was spent at the hospital.


By the time you read this, he will be at home resting. With any luck he will be well on the way to recovery.


For everyone who sent well wishes and all those who gave up prayers, please accept our thanks and appreciation.


spy who dumped me When I started writing this week’s column, I was talking about The Spy Who Dumped Me. This action/comedy stars Mila Kunis as a woman who was recently dumped by her boyfriend by text message. Her best friend, Kate McKinnon, tries to cheer her up by suggesting they burn all of the ex-boyfriend’s stuff and text him to let him know.


That’s when it gets a little crazy. He texts back to say he will pick it all up. Then Kunis learns from a handsome Brit, Sam Heughan, that her boyfriend is CIA who was making a deal for something that she has in her possession. And when the ex shows up, he asks her to take the item to Europe.


So now McKinnon and Kunis are on their way, hoping not to die in the process. Of course they’re being followed, of course it is going to be dangerous, of course there are going to be guns ablazing.


As much as I wanted to like this movie, I was disappointed. There were a lot of funny moments but there were other moments that dragged or didn’t feel quite realistic.


Because this is supposed to be a comedy, some of the action scenes are over the top in the amount of violence and gun fire. The big torture scene is supposed to be funny because this woman uses gymnastic techniques to beat on these women. But I also love this because it makes fun of the action films that have increased their wire gymnastics actions.


Spy who dumped me kate and mila

Kate and Mila

However, this movie also wants to be taken seriously. The singular body count – one here, one there – gets rather high and they don’t always make sense.


Does Kate McKinnon go over the top? Is Mila Kunis a bit too shrill at times? Could Sam Heughan have been a bit more something? Yes, yes, and yes. The problem is it wants to be both action and comedy. At some point you have to make a choice between action movie with comedic elements or comedic movie with action elements.


On the other hand, if all you want is a fun action movie that is bit of a travelogue with some salty language, then this is the girls night movie you have been waiting for. Can I say that Sam is really hunky?

 

You Betcha, I can!


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

 

Comfort Movie

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

As we zoom into the holiday season, I find I want to watch those movies that are comforting and familiar.

Youve-Got-Mail-movie-posterThis past week I watched You’ve Got Mail for the umpteenth time. One child shook his head and asked if I hadn’t watched this movie too many times. Another child wondered why I was watching the movie without her.

I found myself reading quotes from the movie on IMDb.com and knew where each one came from. Okay, maybe not right down to the minute but I recognized where each one fit in the movie.

I know the movie well despite hating the ending which I will talk about later.

I find that this movie has a wonderful mix of the sentimental and the modern. In this movie the characters meet in an online discussion group, something very modern in the late 90s as AOL and the internet takes off. They meet at Starbucks, which was beginning to be everywhere.

youve got mail coffee shopAnd yet it is filled with memories from the music by Harry Nilsson and Roy Orbison. Each song seems perfectly fitted for the emotional moment of each scene. The most modern song comes from The Cranberries at the beginning of the movie which set the tone of the busy-iness of New York City, of the people walking to work at a quick and excited pace.

There are all of these charming moments throughout the movie with lovely incidental music that has a slight jazzy tone that romances us and reminds us of an earlier citified age.

All of these elements allow me to forgive the ending in which I think Kathleen should have slapped Joe in the face for his deception. She should have told him off before admitting she hoped it would be him all along. Maybe that would have been trite, maybe not the right payoff. But I always felt that she accepted Joe too easily.

You've Got Mail book storeWe all have that kind of movie that makes us happy, where all of the pieces come together perfectly and tell a story the right way. I have wonderful friends who love horror movies, my mother could watch Humphrey Bogart movies all day. My sons are happy with movies that have explosions and chase scenes.

These are the movies we all turn to when life needs to stay on the other side of the door, when we just need a break from the world for a little while. In the next month and a half, life will get crazy for some of us with holiday events and concerts and family gatherings. For some of us the holiday season is a simple reminder of all the things and people we are missing.

Comfort movies help us get through, maybe they allow us to cry or feel exhilarated. We know how everything will move through the story, we know the dialogue, and the various underlying themes that we may or may not think about.

Maybe for you that movie is Godzilla in whatever iteration but for me it is You’ve Got Mail. And the only other thing I need besides a box of kleenex is a bowl of popcorn with cinnamon sprinkled about.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Blair Witch Project

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

In this final week of the Halloween season, I know people are watching their favorite horror movies and getting ready for the Halloween night.

Blair Witch Project Stick FigureOne thing that has fascinated me is the rise of Trunk-or-Treat events. I remember about five years ago seeing a handful of these events and thinking what a great idea that would be. It is a good time for kids to wear their costume again and each trunk can have a different theme with or without a game.

It adds to the fun and festive atmosphere of the season.

I know some people love this aspect. But others love exploring the scary part, the possibility of ghosts and the evil that resides in the human heart. My favorite movies, the ones that I’ve watched once, are filled with scary moments, some ‘gotcha’ moments, and never a sight of the actually villain until near the end if at all.

Blair_Witch_Project PosterPerhaps that explains the popularity of The Blair Witch Project. Released in 1999, the movie purports to be the lost footage of three young filmmakers who go into the woods near a small town in Maryland. They went into the woods purposely to explore the legend of a witch and to see if they can record anything.

Heather, Josh, and Michael are trying to follow a map while searching for signs of this legendary ghost. And what they find are creepy piles of rocks, gooey substances covering their personal items, and stick doll figures. They are followed by strange sounds, lights in the distances, and happenings that cannot be explained.

Because we are seeing ‘found’ footage, it is grainy with a lot of shaky movement. It is a difficult movie to see in the theater. Many people had feelings of nausea while watching the movie. Luckily this does not happen when the movie is watched on a television.

Most of the fear we are watching is tangible, it feels real, it feels as if this is something that could be happening. And that is what makes this movie one of the best in this style to watch. The actors never let us down in their emotional levels – the excitement, the fear, the anger, the resignation. This movie has high ratings along with having been nominated for a Razzie (award for worst movie of the year) which might make a person confused. Is it good? Is it bad?

blair witch posterThe answer is yes to both questions. There are parts that are good, we believe every moment, we believe in the three filmmakers’ fear. And yet, in the after thoughts you wonder why you were scared by what seemed like close to nothing. After all, the person causing all of the fear and terror is never seen. Be aware that there is a lot of swearing and use of the F word. If you are sensitive to this word usage, this might not be the movie for you.

I will never forget what Richard Roeper said about this movie. He suggested that if you want to know if this movie is scary or not, watch it sometime during a dark night, all by yourself in the house.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Just Enough Scare

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

One of the things that I find fascinating about horror movies is how they explore the things that make us fearful.

Sometimes when I watch a scary movie I find I am scared because it hits close to home, explores a fear that I may feel deep inside or know that others feel.

HornsSome story lines just stay in my head and they pop out for no reason. One of these movies is Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe. In this story, Iggy is in deep mourning when his fiance is found dead after being brutally raped. Of course he is the obvious suspect and the whole town thinks he did it.

But after a night in which Iggy curses God for not protecting Merrin, Iggy discovers he has started growing horns out of the top of his head. Worse yet, people are telling him their worst secrets; they can’t stop themselves. So Iggy decides to use that power to find the real killer.

What makes this movie worthy is the exploration of good and evil within one’s soul, how looks can be deceiving. Ok, I loved that Iggy could start fights with a mere suggestion and seemed horrified at his new abilities at first. But it is also a reminder that good and evil resides in a person. How we get there is a thin line.

Another movie that comes back to me is The Others starring Nicole Kidman. She plays a woman awaiting the return of her husband from WWII in a big house on the island of Jersey with her two children. She has strict rules in the house because both children are light sensitive.

TheOthers posterThe thing is, she is beginning to believe there are ghosts in the house and that they are causing doors to not be locked and moving things around. When new servants come to the house they have secrets that they want to share but can’t quite do it yet. It plays on our deepest fears of what is really around us. The bumps, the sound, the appearance that something is not quite right.

For me, the jump scares make me more frightened than movies with slashers. You expect the horrible things that happen in those slasher movies, And while they touch on something realistic, the truth is they are over the top in their horror. What is is scary about these two movies named above is that they touch closer to what we live and what we see. Deep dark secrets or emotions held back can come to the forefront when we least expect it. What seems like something simple is a more complex problem and the answer is nothing that we expect.

Horror movies, strangely enough, explore the emotions. It is one way we process feelings of fear in various situations when we can’t do it any other way. Various themes within horror movies comes and go. We no longer explore environmental poisoning or nuclear changes to organisms. But we do explore that of mysterious strangers or strange poisonings or zombie apocalypse.

What might come next, most of us do not know. But it is still interesting to see what it might be.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night
By Karyn Bowman
Every now and again, you hear about a movie that makes you want to check it out.
Maybe it is because there is a favorite actor or it’s based on a book that you loved as a kid.
House with a clockAbout a week or so ago, my daughter told me about The House with a Clock in It’s Walls. This movie stars Jack Black as Jonathon Barnavelt and Cate Blanchett as Mrs. Zimmerman. I love Cate Blanchett and Jack Black can be good in small doses.
When surrounded by great actors, Black always becomes better. While still over the top in some ways, Black makes it work for his character by mixing in elements of low key behavior to create a more nuanced person. Blanchett, on the other hand, has the freedom to be more wacky and loose.
What is interesting is that the movie appears to be set in the early 50s. There are references to WWII as a somewhat recent event. Captain Midnight, a popular kid radio and TV show is a favorite of Lewis, Jonathan’s nephew.
Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman live next door to each other. They are two witches who are trying to solve a problem within Jonathan’s house. This is not an ordinary house, it has items that move constantly and creatures one would not expect. He inherited the house from another warlock that passed away a year or so before. And before he died, that warlock was creating something in the house that is evil.
To complicate matters, Jonathon’s young nephew Lewis has moved in. His parents recently died so the young boy is coming to stay with his uncle. Lewis is sad and gawky and he likes to wear goggles like his favorite TV hero. Starting school is not easy, especially as he is not athletic, he loves words, and he lives in a house with a bad reputation.
House with a clock 2But Lewis is also a lonely boy and wants to do whatever if takes to prove himself to his new friends. One night he breaks the one rule in his uncle’s house in order to impress another boy. And what that spell does unleashes something that cannot be easily stopped.
This is one of those movies that is only a little scary, Things jump out at you and there are moments of true creepiness (evil mechanical dolls). The computer generated animation was seamless and made various elements seem more real, more fun. It is the kind of movie you can watch with grade school aged children and the family can enjoy it. It is in that bridge area betweenScooby-Doo scary and PG-13 The Woman in Black scary.
As I watched the trailer a few times I began noticing little details I didn’t see before. That makes me want to watch the movie again. I also want to catch those moments of sadness and longing that might lead to deeper understanding of each character going through various stages of loss.
Fun, just a little scary, and a dash of emotional depth. Sounds like my favorite kind of scary movie,
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

A Little Bit of a Scare

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Just because it is the Halloween season, doesn’t mean you have to watch a super scary movie.

Sometimes a hint of the supernatural is all it takes to be satisfied. I know I prefer my scary movies to have a bit of humor in them. Or maybe I prefer to have comedies or dramedies with a touch of horror.

practical-magic-collageOne of my favorite movies to watch this time of year is Practical Magic starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Who knew back in 1998 that we were watching two future Oscar winners. This movie could be described as a comedy because there are comedic elements. It could be a drama because there are moments of clarity and emotional introspection.

The supernatural element as both comedy and serious moments to the movie. The story is about two sisters who are dealing with the early deaths of their parents in different ways. Sally wanted nothing more than to be normal with love and a family. She had all of that until her husband died in a freak accident that some felt was because of the family curse.

Gillian is the party girl. She is searching for love far from home, looking for that one man who can withstand the curse. And she finds that man, strong enough to withstand the curse but evil in other ways.

While this might be a movie you can watch with girl friends or older teens, I would not watch this movie with younger kids. There is too much content that is adult oriented as we go from grief to dealing with an abusive situation to casual swearing for some but serious to others.

But for adults, it is a fun movie. It resolves into an ending we want with the hope of renewal,

BewitchedNow if you are looking for something with more comedy in the supernatural realm, try Bewitched starring Nicole Kidman as Samantha. Kidman portrays a witch trying to be mortal. But she finds herself being discovered by a Hollywood star trying to reclaim his shine with a new version of the old TV show.

This is not a perfect movie but it is a lot of fun. Kidman and the witchy crew have real rapport amongst them. It is when we have Will Ferrell taking first place that we feel the film slow down and be less funny or interesting. However, when he is with Kidman his timing is better. The character becomes more believable. The movie really shines whenever Kidman and Michael Caine share the screen. Their chemistry as father and daughter really sparkles, I could have watched them all day long.

This movie can be watched by middle school and older children. Some of the situations or language will not be appropriate or perhaps content-wise at their level. This is another movie to watch with the girlfriends while you guys nosh and talk and laugh.

Harry, Ron and Hermione HP&SS IMDb com

Hermione, Harry and Ron in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Picture from IMDb.com

If you are looking for something lighthearted to watch with kids, there is always the first Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It is this movie that introduces us to the wizarding world, asking us to see and hear all of the wonders. Yes, there are scary moments such as when the kids fight the troll and battle the various challenges at the end. But there are many times when it feels as if we are being asked to join in the fun. And who can resist that?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

In this day and age one of the things that fascinates me is how you can watch movie streaming. I am amazed by the movies that produced by companies such as Amazon and Netflix and Hulu.

I have talked about other programs that I have watched but I was able to find DVD formats for those movies.

Guernsey Literary and Potato peel pie society largeposterThis time around, I watched a movie through Netflix because I wanted to see this movie while it was still freshly out.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was published in 2008 and became a book club darling immediately.

The story is told through letters as a British writer that is trying to find her way at the end of WWII and a return to whatever is normal.

It is what some might call a gentle read even as it deals with the occupation of the island of Guernsey during WWII.

When I saw there was a movie version, I was quite excited. I really enjoyed the book despite my vow to stop reading stories about WWII. It was quick moving tale while telling a compelling story about survival during the pain of war.

I was not disappointed.

The movie opens with four people coming home after a night of eating and drinking. They are walking home and know they are beyond the curfew hour. German soldiers are out, demanding papers. They want to know why the group is out and, suddenly, they come up with a name.

In creating a literary society, the group realizes they need reading material and so need reading material are found. That is how they get started and connect with Juliet, our London-based writer.

Guernsey mtg with SidneyJuliet is in the middle of a book tour regarding her light-hearted columns printed during the war. And she is still in shock from losing her apartment during the blitzkrieg. But she also must write another book for her publisher and is intrigued by the island’s story of survival during the occupation. So she decides to go there and learn more.

I enjoyed the movie for both its simplicities and intricateness. The movie is beautifully shot and Lily James as Juliet is always lovely from simple sweaters and dresses to her gorgeous evening wear. But we are also telling a tale of the occupation and what happens to those people. How lines are crossed for love or collaboration or the birthing of calves.

This movie does not include car chases or gunfire. There isn’t any swearing or sexuality. Instead, there is the terror of always having to act in a certain way or face dire consequences. That to me is more insidious, more frightening.

guernsey-dance-scene.jpgGood movies don’t happen because of one person. James is supported wonderfully by Michael Huisman as Dulsey, Tom Courtney as Eben, Katherine Parkinson as Isola, Penolope Wilton as Amelia, Glen Powell as rich American Mark Reynolds, and Jessica Brown Findlay as the mysterious Elizabeth. Each takes on his or hers various quirks to make the story interesting and the characters familiar to us.

We know these people. We learn of their struggles and slowly come to understand them in the way that Juliet does. It is a movie you can watch with girlfriends or the husband. If the kids happen to walk in, you won’t have to shield their eye. That’s always a plus.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.