Tag Archive: Harry Potter

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.


Banned Book Week

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Working in a library finds the staff always talking about books.

We talk about the ones we like, dislike, wouldn’t mind burning, and why we never will.

Banned Books picture

Banned and Challenged Books Image from a friend’s Facebook page

We talk with our patrons about the same thing as well as observations about various books. I remember one conversation in which the patron stated he read Mein Kampft. He read it to see what it was all about. And what he noted was if you could get past all of the hatred in the book, there was a solid economic plan for Germany in those days of incredible inflation.

Other times I have heard patrons talk about how they don’t like the language in some of their favorite authors changing to something a bit harsher, more vulgar. And the sexier novels are not always appreciated either.

Maybe they don’t like the sexuality that is dealing with something abusive or the violence of crime committed by serial killers.

There are a lot of reasons why people hate various books. But there are more reasons why we shouldn’t ban them.

Like it or not, we need these various ideas floating around so we can inspect them and see what works and what doesn’t. As much as I dislike the ideas floating around in the original black Sambo book, I believe we need to see it to remember what we don’t want to be. I have seen other versions of Sambo that are not so racially charged. In those books, Sambo is telling the same folktales and is not some caricature.

We celebrate Banned Book Week in libraries this week because we want to remind people that books shouldn’t be banned, ideas shouldn’t be hidden, people shouldn’t be silenced. And that includes the repugnant ones. Once you start banning books, ideas, people it never ends. There is never a line that stops it.

Did we not learn that from WWII and the Nazis? It started with Jews and worked it way to socialists, intelligentsia, journalists, unions, gypsies, religious groups, etc. There were at least 37 badges in various colors and dots or bars to designate your status in Nazi Germany..

The perks of being a wallflowerSo this week, take the time to watch a banned book turned into a movie. Maybe it is To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck. Maybe it is The Perks of Being a Wallflower starring Emma Watson and Ezra Miller about two teens who bring a shy boy into their circle. Maybe it is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone starring Daniel Radcliffe about a wizarding boy who survives an attack that brings him notoriety and danger.

There are many choices because there is no limit to what people seek to ban. That is if you’re so inclined for a banned book turned into a movie.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Family Movie Night
By Karyn Bowman
One movie that I have been most anxious to see is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Our attempts to see this movie were met by bad timing and luck as we finally got tickets. One of the problems I have with these new reclining seats is that they take up too much space and reduce the number of seats in any given auditorium.
Maybe you like them but I am not crazy about these seats.
Back to the movie. This movie is the first in five movies about the fantastic beasts, building up to the incredible fight between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindenwald. Apparently there are going to be fantastic beasts in each movie and various people we have met in this movie will be scattered in the next four.
That is the back story. But in this movie, we are taken back to 1926. This is when Newt Scamander comes to America, presumably to go on an expedition of the colonies. But the world he comes to is fill with just as much hate and fear of the magical by the nomag, otherwise known as muggles or non-magical humans.
He sees a protest by one woman who is determined to stamp out evil, especially in the children she feeds and clothes. But that is not the worst that will happen to him. When one of his creatures escapes from his suitcase, Newt is noticed by an auror. She helps him but not before Newt accidentally takes a nomag along for the ride and the re-capture.
Tina ends up arresting Newt but is forced to let him go, takes pity on him and nomag Kowalski, and gives them a place to stay for the night. That is when we discover what is really in that suitcase and it is amazing. We fall in love with the world he has created to protect all of these creatures.
But the real world intrudes on all of this. There is a disturbance cause by a wizard who is not allowed to use their powers. And magical energy, we learn, when not allowed to come out explodes in the worst possible ways.
I admit that when I came to the theater, I was tired. I may have nodded off during the previews. I was hoping I would not do the same during the movie. Once it started, though, I was hooked in. If I was tired, I sure did not notice it. I was fascinated, especially by Eddie Redmayne as Newt. It is a movie that can be for all family members with just a d=few scary bits for the youngest members of the family.
fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-buckletrumpThe problem with this movie is that as much as I enjoyed it and really loved Newt, there was little else that made a connection. What made the Harry Potter movies so successful is that we became attached to Harry. I loved him and wanted to see where this boy and his friends were going. I don’t have that overwhelming desire with Fantastic Beasts. The movie felt as if it had a certain amount of closure, the characters were done.
It is like the best popcorn you have ever eaten, the stuff with chocolate marshmallow powder flavoring on it. It is so good and sweet and different. You love it, enjoy, it, and when it’s over, you feel good. But you don’t overwhelmingly miss it. The next movie in the series comes out in November of 2018. I am not sure I will even care at that point because there is too much time lag and not enough interest to make me want to follow up. By that time, I am not sure I will be interested in chocolate marshmallow flavoring anymore. And that would be a shame.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Becoming a Great Man

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


This past week saw the release of The Great and Powerful Oz starring James Franco to the home theater market.


It is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz that many of us know – and perhaps love – so well. It is a movie that is referenced in so many ways that it may be hard to quantify.



Poster image from IMDb.com

Poster image from IMDb.com

The latest might be a crack about flying monkeys in last year’s The Avengers that was notable because it was the only pop culture reference that Captain America understood.


Anytime some one mentions no longer being in Kansas is a direct link.


Not to mention “And your little dog, too.”


Why do we need a prequel is not a certainty in my mind. But once it was created, I could not imagine not having it. This movie directed by Sam Raimi is eye-poppingly beautiful. The colors grab your attention.


But so does the acting and characterizations of key players in the movie that, sequentially, comes later. We see how various characters are related and why it matters. When we saw the movie at the theater, it was as if time had barely passed and then suddenly the movie was over.


It makes me wonder why we, the collective public, love this story so much.


In a strange way, I am reminded of Harry Potter. Both characters are orphaned, both live with an aunt and uncle, and both seem to think they do not belong to these families. While one will discover this last fact is true, both children go on a journey through incredible and fantastic land in order to save it from a greater evil.


Or as my husband puts it, the preteen angsty feeling that these people who claim to be your family is not really your family. Suddenly, the feeling that you did not belong has been confirmed and what a relief that must be since now you have found a place with magic to make you even a better person.



Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

While I give credence to the first part of his theory , I do not think it is all about magic being the saving force with either character. Dorothy and Harry find a special tool (water and the expelliarmus spell, respectively) to defeat their nemesis but to get to that point they must have strength of character.


Both characters go through many trials and tribulations which hi-lights the best aspects of their beings – kindness, gentleness, concern for others, humility. While you could make the argument that Dorothy and Harry represent the fruits of the spirit, it needs to be noted that both are human and fall to the weakness of the flesh as well. We love them because of their good qualities, we relate to both because of their frailties.


As soon as I can, I plan to rent this movie for a family night that will find us wrapped back into the magical land of Oz. Come September, I will be on the look-out for the 75th Anniversary edition of the movie that became a classic when it was released in 1939.



Until next week, see you in the rental aisle. 

Banned and Challenged Book Week

This is the week in which we talk about books that have been banned or challenged. Someone, somewhere, found the books on this list objectionable in the decade of the ought’s (2000 – 2009) and made it a point to get those books off the shelves of libraries.


Banned and Challenged Books
Image from a friend’s Facebook page



My question to you is have you ever purposely read a banned book?




With the big, huge success of The Hunger Games this weekend at the box office, it reminds people that some books can be turned into great movies.

It reminds me that a good story can transfix an audience.

Book reading will never go ‘out’ but simply transfer to different venues. I like to read actual books but I have friends who listen to them or read them on one of the various devices out there. How many of us remember when some books (Such as the works of Charles Dickens) would start out as a serial in the newspaper?

I have not read the first book in the Hunger Games yet but I am looking forward to it. However, there are many other books-turned-to-movies that are well worth the time to watch them.

One of my favorite movies for younger children in this genre is Charlotte’s Web  starring Julia Roberts as Charlotte and Dakota Fanning as Fern. If you don’t know the story, it is about a runt pig who is saved by 10-year-old Fern and goes to live on her cousin’s farm. There the pig becomes friends with a spider who is determined to save Wilbur from being dinner. There is something magical about the way Wilbur works his way into the hearts of others, how he and Charlotte develop  a friendship and how Fern grows as a young woman. Many of the voices are perfect match ups and I love the bright and colorful canvas. Then there is the Sarah McLachlan song over the credits that will have the easy weepers (you know who you are) in need of the entire tissue box.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

One of the best series of books-to-movies that I know of is the Harry Potter  series. It would have been easy to let the quality of each successive movie but I found that there is a determination to make the best possible movie with each part of the series. I have written in the past that care must be taken is deciding when to allow a child watch each movie in this series as the comprehension level increases as the characters age. Primary students would enjoy the first three movies while mid-to-older teens are going to love the final three movies more as the action becomes life-or-death situations.

One series that I felt did an incredible job of bringing a series of books to the big screen is The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson combined a collection of characters in a well-paced series that made Tolkein’s Middle-earth come alive in a way I never expected. I was not a fan of the books but I loved this film series. It is a collection of movies that is best suited for pre-teens and older viewers who will enjoy the adult storylines of fear, belief and re-birth.

Finally, for adults I have two rather serious movies that came from books. The first is Atonement written by Ian McEwan. Joe Wright directed the big screen adaptation starring Kierra Knightly and James McAvoy as two people whose lives are forever changed with a false accusation. The situation is complicated with the advent of WWII and a little sister cruelly used by those wanting to hide the original crime.  I was not a fan of the book but once I watched the movie, I admit that I finally got it.

Image from IMDb.com

The last movie I must mention because it is the most well-known and best-selling movie of all time, that is Gone With The Wind. Margaret Mitchell’s book was a love letter to the South before and after the Civil War. It is a picture of a world that I cannot imagine and yet it is the base of so many novels, plays and movies about that region of our country. There is no other movie that I can think of that matches GWTW‘s granduer, panache or storytelling.

These are only a smattering of books-turned-into-movies. What are your favorites? Drop a note at the Record Press Office and I will share them in a future column.

Until next time, see you in the rental aisle.

Should the Kids Watch That?

Image by Mark Miller

It’s Halloween, It’s Halloween.

The Shaggs singing \”It\’s Halloween.\”

Or close enough.

Slowly, it is getting darker earlier than a month or two before. The winds are blowing more and it is getting chilly at night and during the day.

But what I am thinking about are scary movies that are appropriate for various age groups. I have many age groups in my house along with some people who want full-bore scares and others who would rather watch mild scares (me).

I am a ‘fraidy cat which makes me more understanding towards others who might be afflicted in the same manner. If you get nightmares easily, well, I understand completely.

Poster image from IMDb.com

There are some movies that I love but can never watch again because they give me nightmares. Hands down, the best scary movie ever is Psycho. Hitchcock directed a masterpiece I can never watch again. Another movie I can no longer watch is 28 Days Later by director Danny Boyle along with the wonderful zombie spoof, Shaun of the Dead, because I will get nightmares. Had them already, do not want a repeat performance.

Of the zombie movies, these two might be the best only after the great Night of the Living Dead from the sixties. Each one has a different back story for the zombies coming into being and each has its own horrors and funny points. All lie somewhere on the edge of reality and that is what makes them scary.

I would not allow my younger children to watch these movies because that would lead us to nightmare alley.

Next on my list are many horror movie series. Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Scream, Saw, The Hostel. (By the way, for the most part the first movie in these series is the best one.) Those are not on my list for viewing with the kids, even the older ones. I realize my teens can – and will – watch these movies. They will do so without me or my ten-year-old or my six-year-old.

At some point, you have to understand that younger kids cannot handle these scary situations, bloody gory scenes or the abduct-and-torture storylines. They cannot distinguish between fact and fiction quite yet which is why the younger members of the family are not allowed to watch the above mentioned films in my home.

Image from IMDb.com

What I allow the kids to watch are movies that might show up on Cartoon Network, Disney Channel or Nickelodean. For them, something scary might be a show that has fantastical elements – such as Halloweentown – which are so out there that the scary parts are not so scary.

That is the reason why I love the animated Scooby Doo movies for kids as well. Even the ones with a ‘real’ ghost resolves itself easily enough that the scares are not so scary. This is true for the first three Harry Potter movies as well although these fit more into the action/adventure genre.

I know that some people will disagree with me and say I am baby-ing my kids. I know that some of you have different rules and would never allow their kids to watch some of what I would.

You are certainly welcomed to drop a note below to let me know how we differ. What are your movies of choice for Halloween?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Building Scenes

Product Thursday

I blame Lego-My-Photo.

I shared my blogging experience with my kids and said let’s look at this great site with pictures of scenes made with hundreds, thousands of Legos.  We did and my now 7 y.o. became enamored with creating his own scenes with legos. He took what blocks he had and started telling me to take a picture and post it on facebook.

Soon, his brother’s friends brought over their old Lego mini figs and Lego blocks. An alien showed up along with pirates and golden blocks.

His creativity in setting up scenes has been inspiring although it would be nice if he picked up more of the Legos from the floor. I have had too many late nite ouchies after stepping on a block or two.

So it was birthday weekend for the little guy and the parents (me and the husband) knew what we had to do. The siblings focused on Yu-Gi-Oh cards. But we wanted to encourage that creative streak so the mission was simple.  

Get him Legos!

The first package he opened was a basic City set with a few police officers, a few robbers and a dog. It also came with a motorcycle and an ATM.

Playing Cops and Robbers

You think we hit a homerun with that set?

The next present made the boy squeal with excitement.

I thought this would be a good idea because we are presently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. How can you go wrong with crazy trees, Hagrid and villians with a flat nose?

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Forest Legos set

Yep, it was everything the boy wanted.

A few years back, one of my adult nephews explained to me how Legos was resistent to character sets as they wanted play to be a creative act. But then the company started doing these character based sets because kids mixed and matched, going  beyond where ever the original story line started and ended.

That is why I love Legos. You may have a storyline to start with but that is not where it ends.

"Harry Potter! Prepare to Die!?"

And sometimes Lord Voldemort feels the need to rob an ATM and Harry needs to stop him before Voldy can ruin the American financial system.

Wait, that already happened.


Just go to the online Lego store or find a local lego store and start your own addiction.

Every Thursday, I review a product or service. If you have a product or a suggestion of one I should review, please contact me at bowmankaryn@sbcglobal.net.  

Family Movie Night


by Karyn Bowman


Would it be a surprise to anyone to find out that the topic of today’s column is the latest and last Harry Potter movie?


Image from IMDB.com

Considering I have spoken about my fondness for the series in the past, I would assume that is not the case.


My 14-year-old son and I did go to the midnight show at the Paramount theater in Kankakee. We arrived around 10:30 and went to the back of the line that wrapped around three sides of the block. The end of the line beyond us was almost at Chestnut Street.


There were people dressed in costume as various members of the cast including Draco, Mad-Eye, Hagrid, Bellatrix and Harry. I asked Mad-Eye if he had a flask and he pulled one out from an inside pocket of his coat. That was the perfect placement of a flask for Mad-Eye.


Once we were in and seated, we waited another 20 minutes before the movie started. But then we saw a placard for a trailer for Cowboys and Aliens. The cheers went up. Next was a trailer for The Dark Knight. Screams went out for that movie. The third and last trailer was for Sherlock Holmes which drove the crowd crazy. Who wouldn’t go crazy for Robert Downey Jr. in drag?


Then, and only then, did the movie start with hardly any prelude. We see Lord Voldemort grabbing the item he believes will help him win everything. We see Harry making the fateful decision of which group of magical items to pursue. And it begins hurtling towards the end.


Lord Voldemort from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," Image from IMDb.com.

For fans that have read all of the books and need closure on some of the most important storyline, you will get it. Some of the best lines from the book make it to the movie. Some of the plot moves are re-aligned and shaken up to make a smoother movie. 


If you have not read one book or seen any of the movies, you will be lost. Bellatrix’s maniacal evil personality won’t make sense. Snape’s end and confession will not have the impact without the loathing of Harry he displayed throughout the series. You will not understand the tears of the audience members such as me who are watching this last bit of Harry.


For me, it is watching a child who has been a part of my circle grow up and get ready to leave home. Harry has gone from being a cute moppet to a young man willing to face danger. He has taken on the hero’s mantle and who would have guessed this from the first time we saw him.


At the beginning of the series, image from IMDb.com.

There he was a boy being bullied by his unfeeling relatives and once he came to his new school, he became the boy who would stand up to bullies on a regular basis. He became a boy willing to stand up to members of authority, including the head of the government, all so that those who have no voice can be heard.


If you haven’t seen the movies, rent them all before you go. If you are a fan, plan to spend a day or two getting caught up by watching the movies.


And if you are a total weeper like I am, bring tissues with you. You might need them.  


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Movie Poster, image from IMDb.com

Movie Poster image from IMDb.com


Family Movie Night

 I get really excited when some of the Oscar movies start coming out to the home theater market.

 Because our life is pretty hectic with the kids’ schedule of activities getting out to the movies on a regular basis is pretty difficult. I am happy to be able to watch Dancing With The Stars on a regular basis.

 So imagine my happiness when I looked at the DVD release schedules to find that between this week and last, four movies that were nominated for Oscars are coming out.

 Last week, Country Strong starring Gwyneth Paltrow as a country singer making her comeback after a too short stint in rehab. She is a great singer and her husband, played by Tim McGraw, knows that the stage is the only place she can be happy.

Garret Hedlund stars as the rising singer she goes on tour with along with beauty queen-turned-singer Leighton Meister. I love country music, love Gwyneth and Tim McGraw and plan to watch this movie.

While Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1only received nominations for its technical magic, I am looking forward to seeing this movie once more. I have been following the series since the first movie, have re-read the books and feel ready for the final movie.

 Harry, Ron and Hermione have left school to search for the final pieces to destroy Voldemort. Life has never been so tenuous or dangerous. Never have the stakes been higher. Oh, I am so looking forward to watching this flick with a huge bowl of popcorn.

 Yesterday saw the release of the DVD for Rabbit Hole starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as parents who are facing the loss of their young son by a sudden accident. It is a movie that will break your heart as these two people work to rebuild everything they knew to be true. I love these two actors and look forward to watching how two people deal with the ultimate grief and how they allow each other to grieve as well.

 On the same day the big winner at the Oscars, The King’s Speech, comes out as well. While my husband has no interest to see this movie, I cannot wait. Colin Firth has been a good actor for such a long time that his performances are rather seamless. It appears that he is not acting at all.

 He finally won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as the King of England who must get over his speech problem in order to be the reassuring voice his subjects need to hear. He is the king, their sovereign and he must appear to be confident. That is when the Queen finds a speech therapist who helps the King find his voice. Because I also love Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush, my level of excitement is quite high. This last movie is best for younger family members (grade school and up) despite the momentary swearing that is used to help the king.

 Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

 Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.