Tag Archive: Family Movie Night


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

My kids are always pushing me to watch movies I think I would not like. Granted, some of them are horror films, which I do not like.

It doesn’t matter if they have a funny bent to them, I can’t watch them at all.

But then there are the action adventure movies that strike at the right moments.

ben-affleck-batmanIt has been a Ben Affleck week this time around. We just re-watched Batman Vs Superman to watch all of the scenes with Wonder Woman. What I loved about this movie is the reasoning behind Batman’s hatred of Superman. It’s not a jealousy thing but one of the lack of control one has on one’s own life. Especially when the person causing the chaos is a super-strong alien who could turn against us at any time.

Worse yet, the destruction this superhero causes has effects on people he doesn’t know nor appears to have any awareness about those people.

Bruce Wayne/Batman has been there before and he is not willing to give up the control he has fought hard to gain. That is what builds his dislike and distrust until he and Superman can find a common point to trust each other on.

While we might agree this is not the strongest of supper hero movies, you cannot deny that Affleck gives Batman a world-weariness that is appropriate and fitting. He makes the man worth watching through all of his surliness and compassion.

Then my child said “get The Accountant.” So I did, knowing a little bit about this story. Affleck stars as a man who works as a free-lance accountant for underworld clients who need to know they can never take advantage of him. This professional is what many might call a high-functioning person with Autism. He is focused and smart as a whip. Numbers are the one thing that brings calm and order to his life.

Ben Affleck the accountantBut as we see through a series of flashbacks, Chris’ life has never been easy. It is his military father who must figure out how to teach his very different son to survive in the world.

These days he is doing what seems to be a straight-forward job. A lesser employee has found discrepancies in the books of a robotic company. Chris has been hired to find out how it all happened And just as he is about to get there, suddenly the job is over.

So the next thirty minutes of the movie gets a bit silly and ridiculous. There is much action, retaliation, and revelations. Just when you think you know everything, something else is revealed.

The point of this movie is not the incredulous plot line but to see Affleck play a man who is not normal, whatever that is, do things that most normal-developing people can’t do. Is it because of his ability to focus to the max or because of the training he received along the way?

Does it matter if you are just following along? Probably not. This is one of those times you just go with it. Affleck has a tendency to find not so great movies but makes his role worth watching.

I found myself enjoying the movie as I watched. Afterwards, when I took the time to think about what I just seen, I realized that this was a bit of a popcorn revenge movie that had something to say without finding all of the words it needed to use.

Disappointing.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

The other night I started watching a show called Anne with an E

It is based on the Anne of Green Gables book series about a young orphan who is mistakenly sent to bachelor and his spinster sister.

Anne with an E

Anne With an E

I have never read this series but seeing the newest adaptation was fascinating and intriguing. I could see how Anne would get on the bad side of just about anyone.

I read one review that did not like the darkness of the new series or some of the liberties it takes with the source material.

And I understand that review, I really do. Except, I found myself loving the show and wanting to watch more. I felt some of the touches on the story were perhaps more realistic about the bleakness of Anne’s true reality. It also made me wonder how Anne could be so cheerful or hopeful feeling considering she should have been more bitter feeling about her life so far.

What I really felt was excitement that I could watch this show, thanks to our Netflix subscription. And I do love Netflix. But I also get frustrated that I cannot watch certain shows because Netflix drops them or removes movies from the streaming list.

Mocking Jay part 1Case in point, I finally saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Having read all of the books and watched most of the movies, I realized I was ready for that last movie, Mockingjay Part 2. I had avoided it not because I thought it was bad but because I know the ending. I know who lives and who doesn’t which makes me sad.

I thought for sure that Netflix would have it in their streaming collection and that there would be no problem in watching that movie at the moment I wanted to watch it.

The answer turned out differently. It was not available for viewing and I was lucky to have seen Part 1 on the cable station I saw it on. And to think that Mocking jay Part 2 only came out less than two years ago. I could rant about the unfairness of picky streaming services. But I’m not.

Thankfully, I have a library card. Thanks to that library card I have ordered a physical copy of the movie I wanted to see. Yes, it is possible for any of us to buy an out-of-district card. But what if we didn’t have to do that. What if we had a library here in St. Anne?

library card plastic2It could be a place with computer access for those kids who have chrome books from school but no internet access at home. Twenty-five percent of all Americans do not have internet service at home. A library could be a place where books, movies, and other tools for learning could be at a librarian’s or patron’s fingertips. A library could be a place for people to work on resumes or learn something new or read a classic novel such as Anne of Green Gables.

To have a library, a publicly funded library, would cost money. But you would pay for that after the first six hardbacks, or ten movies, or 50 prints from your email. People know where I work and some sigh with the desire of having a library of our own. I think about how great of a thing that could be as well.

Libraries aren’t just about books or movies. They are about the wonder of discovery and the beauty of the world that is all around us. I think Anne Shirley would agree with me that libraries are about hope. And hope can take you to many different places.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Oh, Drew

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

A chance conversation about Drew Barrymore lead my daughter to state she had never seen the movie Ever After featuring Barrymore in the lead role of Cinderella. We were at Dollar General looking in the movie bin to see a picture of Barrymore looking down in a loving but subservient manner.

Ever AfterIt was surprising to me as this is one of my favorite Drew Barrymore movies. According to some sources this is Drew’s favorite movies of her own work as well.

Ever After is a version of the Cinderella story set in France. Her father has died, leaving the little girl under the care of her new step-mother, Angelica Huston, and two step-sisters. What is most interesting is the assumption that Danielle married royalty and is the ancestor of Madame Royalle who tells the story of the little cinder girl.

History buffs will recognize Madame Royalle, portrayed in the movie as the older woman played by Jeanne Moreau who tells the tale of her ancestor, as the last living child of Marie-Antoinette.

Everafter Drew IMDb com

Drew Barrymore in “Everafter,” image from IMDb.com.

The movie is a delight with Barrymore and Angelica Huston, both Hollywood royalty, emotionally battling each other. Dougray Scott is wonderful as the Prince who feels trapped by his role in the royal family. Leonardo Da Vinci shows up to be the Artist in Residence. But there are fun scenes and romantic scenes and plenty of action.

Once we started watching, suddenly my daughter said that she did remember the movie. But I do not remember her suddenly saying we could stop watching. We watched to the bitter end.

We did for another movie I found called My Date with Drew in which a young man decides to spend 30 days trying to get a date with Drew Barrymore, his childhood idol/crush.

Brian Herzlinger is struggling to survive in Hollywood after six years. An appearance on a game show nets him $1100 and an idea for a documentary. He will spend the next 30 days in an attempt to get a date with Drew. Using a video camera that must be returned to Circuit City in 30 days, Brian taps into every connection he can think of.

My date with drewHe and his friends meets with directors, screenwriters, personal assistants, actors, and a skin specialist to find a connection to Drew. He works through her company contacts and sets up a website to publicize his quest while deciding if he needs a real job in order to survive.

This movie was the festival darling of 2004 once it was discovered. People tended to love it or hate it. While I appreciated Brian’s efforts, I found myself in the ‘hate it’ crowd. I felt like I was watching a bad video and never felt that Brian had enough gusto to complete his task. I watched it to watch it. But it is not something I would recommend or even watch again.

I feel bad saying that until I realize this move was made 13 years ago. He has moved on since then and so has Drew.

Perhaps I can just rev up Ever After one more time.

Right or Wrong?

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

US flag bearers ladyheart

Image by Ladyheart

Memorial Day makes us think of the service members who have fought for the rights and freedom we all enjoy in this country.

We enjoy various ceremonies that names the dead from various wars, we watch wreaths being set at tombs of unknown soldiers that represents all who are lost in various conflicts.

Maybe you have traveled to Washington D. C. and visited the Vietnam Wall or the Korean war memorial. Both, to me, are the most emotional and expressive artworks depicting the costs of war. The Wall is haunting with its seemingly unending panels listing the names of the people who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

But the Korean War memorial is unreal with its slightly larger the life figures walking in a group among plantings that make it almost appear as if the men are walking through a fog. It is eerie and unsettling. It makes me feel sad for these young men as they travel where they don’t know and with no knowledge of what to expect when they get there.

So I was surprised this week when my son picked up Snowden, the Oliver Stone movie about the young NSA worker who exposed secrets of the spy community that both endangered assets in the field and informed Americans that they were all under surveillance through social media and email and anything we might have done through electronic media.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives an eerie performance as the young man who felt his government was doing something wrong and it had to be stopped. Snowden weighs what to do while continuing to do the work he has been hired to perform. We go from his time in the service when an injury left him unable to be in special services to the time when he has decided to let go of the information and eventually travels to Russia.

SnowdenTo be honest, I listened to the movie while doing other work in the next room. To me, his conversations sounded as if he was a person dealing with paranoia until we find out that maybe it wasn’t. I find it strange how some people’s paranoid thoughts came true with this scandal. We fear overstep with the government and we fear not doing enough to stop it.

Now you may want to debate if Snowden was right or wrong in his actions. Some of the material he released exposed intelligence information that did put people in danger. However, Snowden also allowed the American people to know that they need to be need to be more careful. How they use social media, what is said in emails. Everything that we do online or on our computers can be hacked, can be looked into by our government at anytime. We found out that various world leaders were being surveilled without notice.

I find that this movie brings up discussion. You can’t help but wonder if you would do the same thing that Snowden has done or would you do it differently? Is the cost of doing what you think is the right thing worth it?

After watching parts of this movie and watching the commentary, I still don’t know what is the right answer.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

She’s a Wonder

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

There is only one movie that everyone is talking about this week.

That movie is Wonder Woman.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, this movie alleges to be everything for women in the film industry. It is to prove whether or not a woman director can make a blockbuster hit featuring a woman in the lead role as a comic book superhero. It is the first comic book hero movie to be directed by a woman that cost $150 million dollars to make.

wonderwoman-movie-kneeling-1000419As of Sunday night, it took in just over $100 million in the Untied States alone.

And you’re wondering if this movie is worth your time, is Gal Gadot not only beautiful but able to act and carry a movie like this?

The answer to your questions are yes and yes.

I am not sure how much time we spent in that theater in those reclining seats. But I can tell you it did not feel like two hours and twenty minutes. In fact, it felt much shorter.

We start in Paris as Diana Prince arrives at work deep in the bowels of the Louvre. A briefcase from Wayne Enterprises arrives for her containing a picture, one that we saw briefly in Batman Vs. Superman. But as Diana reminisces about the past we find that it was no cake walk.

From here we see Diana as a little girl who admires the warriors and wants to be one. He mother reluctantly agrees to allow her training to begin. As time goes on, Diana is revealed to be a strong fighter. She also continues to have a large heart, capable of seeing the good in others.

Her life changes the day Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) falls into the bay from the sky. Diana saves him from drowning. But he is forced to tell the queen of his mission, that he is a spy for the allies during WWI.

From there we go to the front and it is not pretty.

diana-prince.jpegThat is the story does not remain pretty. Gal Gadot, on the other hands paints a picture of a woman determined to make the world better. While her mind is a single track, her fighting abilities are fluid and diverse. In case some poor fool on the internet tells you there is only 10 minutes of fighting, don’t listen.

There is plenty of action including at the training field of the Amazons, on the beach, at the front, and in the final show down. I am not sure which scene is best. The No-Man’s land scene forces Diana to confront the power of war while the scene in which she slides across the floor on her knees is just plain fun.

While all of this is great, Gadot also lets us into the world of the Amazons without being too campy. Yes, they live on an island oasis but it doesn’t mean these women are weak. These are tough women who enjoy a good fight.

What makes this movie sparkle is the realism of the characters. We know guys who can cope and those who cannot. We know people who make smart-aleck comments and people who are tough as needed. Diana, for all of her single-minded focus, is not a simple character. But nor are the characters on our side of the war.

But there is something else. Wonder Woman never works from a point of revenge, as do so many comic book characters do. She comes with the desire to end war, to allow people to be happy. At first she feels things will get better once she takes out a certain player. But by the end, Diana gains a new understanding. That growth of character endeared me.

All in all, this is a movie I want to see again and again. This is a character I would be happy to be around on a more regular person.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Many of you reading this column know that our family is a pet family.

Meaning that we have and had a variety of pets. Dogs stand out for us because they are right there, every day, beside us as we eat supper or take them for walks or give them food or watch TV or snack on anything that might fall on the floor.

Is there anything more cute – or pitiful – than a dog cocking their head just so in order to beg for a morsel of food?

A Dogs purposeSo this past weekend we watched A Dog’s Purpose with the knowledge that it could make us cry.

And we did cry – a lot. In fact, if you know you cry easily this may not be the movie for you. Context-wise, it is meant for adults although you could go as young as some pre-teens. But be aware you are going to have to do some explaining about pets who die, work dogs who die, and the general life span of a pet. There is no way you are getting through this movie with a younger child not wondering about their beloved pet. And they will cry about it.

The story is about the soul of a dog who travels through time to find he first true master.

We are not getting into the discussion of if animals have souls. In this movie, they do. And they laugh at some of their own antics. I have seen dogs give dirty looks, I have seen dogs smile, I have heard tales of a dog getting revenge on those who mistreat them.

But this dog, Bailey, starts off as the pet of a boy named Ethan. They are together through good times and bad times. That is until Bailey finally dies from old age after 12 wonderful years together.

Through the ether of the universe, Bailey comes back to be beloved by several more owners. He discovers his own love and he is mistreated. And then several years later, he finds Ethan again.

There are many actors who make this movie worth watching, starting with Dennis Quaid. As I searched through the cast list I found the names of people I knew as good reliable actors, such as Peggy Lipton, Britt Robertson, and Josh Gad. I learned about new actors, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Pooch Hall, John Ortiz, and K. J. Apa, who made their roles interesting and compelling.

There is a book of the same name from which this book is based. I read that some portions of the movie are different than the book, which I couldn’t tell you because I haven’t read the book. But I found that this movie had great heart about why pets matter to us humans.

What I do know is that I loved watching this movie and I will probably re-watch it just as soon as I re-gain a healthy level in my my tissue supply.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Mother’s Day

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

It is May and I have plenty of garden work to do. I purposely planted zinnia seeds in my front garden in the spots where nothing grows very well. Last fall I loved my blackberry lilies around so they would mostly be in one spot.

At a recent sale I purchased two wild geraniums and a coral bells to place in my shade garden. Then I received a note from a gardening friend who is giving up her flowers. She has offered to let me take a shovel to her yard and grab what I want.

Is there anything more heavenly?

Maybe gardening is not for everyone. I personally love to get into the dirt and create a garden that will bloom at various times of the year. Truth be told, my favorite mother’s day gift is a flat of plants. This year I want to add more lavender and flowering cabbage so that the fall version of my garden is just as pretty as the spring version.

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-movie-charactersEveryone does different things for Mother’s day. They might go for brunch or cook a special meal. May be the family does a picnic or a walk in the woods. Some feel it is a special holiday not to be missed while others call it a ‘Hallmark’ holiday.

What is a person to do?

Frankly, my thought is to plant my new plants, supervise cleaning of my house, and have a fabulous meal. At some point I want to watch a movie but the question is always which movie.

I currently have Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is sitting on my pile. It’s a good movie continuing stories in the Harry Potter series before his parents were born but not the one I was thinking about.

To Walk InvisibleBut I am really interested in watching a movie that has been featured on Masterpiece Theater called To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters. The story line is set during a three year period in which the Bronte sisters – Charlotte, Anne, and Emily – write literary masterpieces. Their books, respectively – Jane Eyre, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Wuthering Heights – were published at a time when women were not designated for anything beyond take care of a home and being married.

From the reviews I have read, this is a raw movie that may inflame your sensibilities as the Bronte sisters deal with being published authors, having their names known to the public, and wondering how to live privately in a public era.

The Bronte sisters were like a lot of resilient women in their era, they succeeded when they were told they could not. Even their own voices whispeared caution. But like every other fiction-how-did-I get -here tale, we find how they made thei r mark, how they changes the landscpe of literture in a goo way.

To me that is worth watching.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

We Can Fly

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When my daughter first told me that the school play was going to be Peter Pan, I had to stop myself from getting every copy of every version of the movie or TV special I could lay my hands on.

I managed to contain myself but was very happy when the kids performed over the weekend. Everyone did a good job, everyone looked great and sang well. Captain Hook had a great evil laugh. Perhaps instead of “Speak Like a Pirate” day in September there should be a “Laugh Like a Maniacal Evil Leader” day. Peter had that joie d’vivre and perfect petulance when he didn’t get his way. And Wendy, well what I can I say here without being an annoyingly boastful mother. But I liked her performance, too.

Peter Pan Mary Martin

Mary Martin As Peter Pan

For those of us over a certain age, we can remember when Mary Martin played the forever young man who never wanted to make the first step of growing up. What you may not know is that Mary Martin was instrumental in getting the musical version of Peter Pan created during the 1950s. She originated the musical role on Broadway and would win a Tony for her performance.

In the 1970s, Olympic Medal winning gymanst Cathy Rigby took on the role. With her hard-won athletic skills, Rigby made flying and mid-air somersaults look natural. When the play went to Broadway, Rigby was nominated for a Tony award for her performance.

Peter Pan Cathy RigbyOf course many people know the Disney animated version. A sequel came out about 10 years ago featuring Jane, the daughter of Wendy who is kidnapped by Captain Hook during WWII. And there is the version with Robin Williams as a grown up Peter Pan with Maggie Smith playing Wendy. We also have Finding Neverland which is about how the write James Barrie came up with the play. None of these movies are my favorite one about the boy who can fly.

My favorite is the live action movie from 2003. The movie stars Jeremy Sumpter as the boy who loves to torment Captain Hook. Unlike the others, this movie is gorgeously filmed. The details of the rooms, the depth of the colors, and layers of scenery brings the movie to life or perhaps larger than life.

Peter Pan IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

But it is not only those visual aspects. I love the language, the words that are spoken. When Wendy expresses her amazement of Peter time and again she speaks of “the cleverness of you.” I am fascinated by Jason Issacs as he plays Hook who learns to fly with happy thoughts of Peter being dead. As Hook breaks down Peter, I am mesmerized by his forceful nature until he is broken down by his one sad thoughts.

Issacs is equally compelling as Mr. Darling who works in a bank to support his family in the manner to which society dictates. There are times that Darling is embarrassed time and again in front of his employer until he begins to realize what really matters in his life. It is his performances that draws me back to this version.

Live performances are better. But if you can’t get that, this makes a great second place.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Take the Wave

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Bringing a new movie into the house is always a roll of the dice.

I never know if the kids are going to want to watch it.

Pete's DragonTake Pete’s Dragon for instance. I brought this one home, thinking it was a no brainer. They like fantasy flicks and what is more fantastical than having a dragon show up in your modern-day life.

We never watched it because the first words out of the kids’ mouth were “You know that is on Netflix.” It sat on the shelf because I meant to watch it and never did. Guess I will have to stream it some night – by myself.

However, that was not the reaction when I brought Moana in the house. The box was taken out of my hands and placed in the machine before I could put away my work things and grab my slice of pizza.

The story is about a girl who lives in on an island in Polynesia. But their island is dying and Moana believes she is the one to save it by getting the heart of the Godess returned to her.

Moana

It requires finding the demi-god Maui, and making him return the heart. But Maui is not honorable or likable. He tries to strand Moana until the ocean, her special friend, makes it clear that Moana goes with him. Through their adventures and going on some dangerous missions Moana and Maui develop a friendship.

And what a journey it is.

I watched this movie a couple of times in bits and pieces, each time finding something else to like. Moana and Maui are complex characters who are enjoyable to watch. Moana is given a family who actually love and adore her but community rules prevent sailing beyond the barrier reef. Maui is a demigod who has made life easier for humans but he appears to have some issues that need to be resolved.

I also liked that Moana is another Disney character that does not need a male romantic partner. Similar to Moira (Brave) and Elsa (Frozen), Moana wants to do great things but not in the way her parents want. Her issue is that her island appears to be dying and she knows great dangers must be faced to make things better.

I know there are some complaints about this movie not being completely culturally accurate. But it can also inspire a kid to look up information about Polynesian culture and discover what the Long Pause was all about. It might steer kids to wanting to know more about the demigod Maui and the Goddess Te Fiti. That is what a good movie should do – inspire and encourage.

Finally, I have to talk about the music. Lin-Manuel Miranda is credited as a song-writer on this film and he has made some amazing music. Various songs reminded me of his hit musical, Hamilton, but as I listened to more songs separately I realized that there are many good pieces here. And it makes me wonder what we will hear from him next.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

This Saturday is April Fool’s Day. Do you have your practical jokes ready?

This is one of my favorite non-holiday days. Every few years I try to come up with a neat and elegant practical joke. I say every few years because I like my family to not know if I will do something this year or not.

SlashLast year I went with a classic. I printed out a picture of Slash the guitarist and taped it on my son’s tire. I woke him up just a little earlier than needed and told him there was a slash on his tire. That tire needed to be changed before he goes to school, I told him.

So he got up and went to change the tire. Once he saw the picture, he knew he had been tricked. So he smiled to himself, took the picture off of his tire, placed it on one of his father’s car tires, and waited till his father was napping before telling him the tire had an issue.

I laughed and laughed.

My favorite joke actually came from someone else. My friend’s mother used clear thread to sew the utensils for dinner onto the place mat. Unfortunately her new husband did not have a sense of humor. His total acknowledgment was to get up from the table to get a fork out of the silverware drawer. I love this joke for its simplicity and elegance.

Those are the jokes that make me laugh hardest – simple and elegant slapstick. That is why I loved Abbott and Costello. This comedy duo made people laugh during the years of WWII and the post war era. Their most popular routine – Who’s On First – is repeated or referenced to this day.

I became enamored with the duo when their movies were constantly played on TV during my youth. It was always something in the line of “Abbott and Costello meet…” One time it was Frankenstein, another was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Or they were ‘in’ someplace, such as Hollywood or in the Foreign Legion.

Abbott and CostelloBud Abbott was always the straight guy, the tall man with the charm while Lou Costello was the guy who over-reacted to whatever situation what happening. It didn’t matter if he was being chased by the Wolf-Man, a cop, or an errant bad guy, Lou always reacted with big wide eyes and clumsy movements. Bud might be more restrained in his performance but it bounced off of Lou perfectly. Later when the men broke up as a pair, Abbott tried to work with another partner. Even he admitted he worked best with Costello and it was hard to replace him.

Start your Abbott and Costello journey with Buck Privates (1941), one of the best WWII comedies. Hold That Ghost (1941) is their first meeting with the supernatural with Lou’s terrific terrified responses. After that, you can find a number of movies that ate filled with their vaudeville routines and slapstick comedy.

Their brand of humor made America laugh with simple but elegant routines. And that is something to aspire to being.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.