Tag Archive: helen mirren


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

This past weekend, the husband and I did something new and different.

We took a trip without the kids.

It was necessary to do this as our niece was getting married but had to have a small wedding.

There is a lot more to the story than I can say at this time. Suffice it to say this wedding was the definition of bittersweet.

Because the wedding was not till later in the afternoon, the husband asked what I wanted to do while in the Washington D.C. Area. I had only one answer for this trip – I wanted to see Mount Vernon.

Yes, that Mount Vernon that served as the home of President George Washington.

Mount VernonSo we went, paid our money so we could walk a part of the estate and through the mansion. Because there were so many people, I felt as if we were on an assembly line. There was a cordoned path for us and the docents stayed in their rooms, talking about the rooms as we walked through. No time for questions. There were rooms we walked past too quickly to really see, it wasn’t till I was at home and on the computer that I learned one room belonged to Martha’s daughter-in-law.

What really impressed us were the grounds. The gardens to the east of Mount Vernon were incredibly beautiful as well as utilitarian. Flowers planted in a natural style formed the outer edge of a square while the inside were filled with neat rows of various vegetables. Bees happily gathered nectar and most probably took care of the vegetables as well. These edges were not simply flowers but fruit and nut trees scattered so as to not cause shadows throughout the day.

As we walked about we noticed specialty tours going on. I accidentally joined one that was about all of the gardens, not just the one we saw. That was an hour long tour. There was another special tour at 4:00 P.M. in which you could have tea with Martha Washington. And then there was the Nation Treasure: Book of Secrets tour.

National Treasure II Mt VernonThe 2007 movie has a crucial scene at Mount Vernon in which Ben Gates takes the President to some secret passages underneath Mount Vernon. His goal is to find out another piece to a secret treasure that will somehow prove his great grandfather was not a member of the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln. First he has to get there and does so by the Potomac, so we get to see the sandy beach by the wharf. Then there is the party which takes place on the grounds of the mansion.

It stars Nicholas Cage as Ben Gates, Diane Kruger as he long suffering girlfriend as well as Justin Bartha as Riley. Jon Voight returns as Ben’s father and Helen Mirren joins the cast as Ben’s mother. I have only seen bits and pieces of this movie. I love the first one so much I am afraid to see the follow-up. What if it doesn’t live up to my expectations?

What I love about National Treasure is the history, the walks and/or runs through historically significant sites. And when Nicholas Cage waxes poetic about the Declaration of Independance, stating that people may not talk that way but they think it, I believe him. I believe him during every part of this movie.

Could I feel the same about National Treasure: Book of Secrets? I’m not sure. But I am going to watch it so I can re-visit the plantation I recently toured.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.`

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Family Movie Night

 

It has been hot. Terribly hot, unbearably hot.

 

I think I have lost five founds without even trying. People see me walking my dog and wonder – out loud – about my sanity.

 

I wonder as well. But when I come home from work, the dog jumps on me and begs for his walk. So I hose him down before we go and then we take an abbreviated walk.

 

When we get back, we are thirsty. I am ready to be under the sprinkler if it is running.

 

When it is this hot, I am ready for a silly and ridiculous movie. I want a movie that is going to make me giggle and laugh and forget how hot I am feeling.

 

Movie poster image from IMDB.com

A few weeks ago, Arthur came to the home market. This re-make of the Dudley Moore movie follows the adventures of a very rich man who remains child-like in his daily life. Russell Brand stars as Arthur in a winning manner. You come to understand why he acts the way he does with his constant attention seeking behavior.

 

But then his mother demands he marry Jennifer Garner, a woman from a wealthy family but a bit driven and coarse. In the meantime, he meets the wonderful unlicensed-tour guide, Greta Gerwig, and falls in love with the unpublished children’s author. There to catch him in every bad situation and save him is his faithful nanny, Helen Mirren.

 

This is a sweet movie with funny moments. There are the sad moments and truthful moments and moments that make you shake your head. The movie rating of PG-13 is there for sexual situations, drug references, alcohol use throughout and language. I would not watch this movie with young children around but it is fine for a date night at home.

 

Movie poster from IMDb.com

One movie that I love for kids that is silly and fun is The Jungle Book from 1967. There are so many good songs that make you want to dance and jiggle around the house. The animation is incredibly dense and beautiful, which pulls you in to the movie even more.

 

The movie also has some great performers. Phil Harris plays the lovable slacker bear, Baloo. Louis Prima gives voice to King Louie of the Apes. George Sanders is the silky smooth danger that is Shere Khan the Tiger. Sterling Holloway, also known as the voice of Winnie the Pooh, plays Kaa the snake.

 

Movie poster from IMDb.com

Finally, the best silly and incredibly funny movie out there is Airplane. This movie spoofs every disaster movie and gets comedic performances from people you would never expect such as Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges and Barbara Billingsley. This movie came out in 1980 and is on every list I have ever seen for best comedic movies ever made. It is suited for those who are in their teens and up due to some sexual situations and drug references.  

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

Have you noticed more movies about people in their 50’s and 60’s?

Maybe it’s me not noticing till now or maybe there are enough aging Baby Boomers in Hollywood that still want to be viable or see movies featuring people like themselves.

Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman in "Red," Picture from IMDb.com.

This question comes to the forefront of my mind after seeing commercials all weekend for Red starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren as retired CIA operatives who come back together to figure out why they are being hunted.

This movie came out to the home theater market on January 25th and actually made money at the theaters when it was released back in October. I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to the movies and do not remember this one at all. However, as it made $90+ million at the box office one can only assume that plenty of people did know about this movie.

Something about the trailer does give me a small thrill and I have put it on the “must watch” list because there is something about a decent action-adventure I truly enjoy. Not only that but I love it when John Malkovich gets off his high horse. He looks a little nutty, a little crazy and not his usual self.

Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep in "It's Complicated," PIcture from IMDb.com

This past weekend when the husband and I could not watch The Social Network because it had been taken already, we went for It’s Complicated with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. Instead of being impressed by a 26-year-old billionaire, I was impressed by a bunch of 50+ year olds being willing to explore love and sex at their age, with people their age.

Meryl Streep and Steve Martin in "It's Complicated," Picture from IMDb.com.

 In my opinion, the movie did not really take off until half way through. But there were searing honest moments between Meryl and her two suitors that wrenched my heart. Other moments, including the obligatory “togetherness” scene, were a lot of fun between Streep and Martin.

 Directed by Nancy Myers, this is not her first time with ‘senior lovers’ but it is a better effort and a truer ending than Something’s Gotta Give.

Sylvester Stallone in "The Expendables," Picture from IMDb.com

 The last movie I must mention in this set is The Expendables. These movie stars Sylvester Stallone (who also directed) and Jason Statham as mercenaries hired to take out a South American trouble maker. But they get down to the country and find out the truth. Suddenly sides are getting switched and souls redeemed.

 The fun part of this movie is that it also stars Jet Li, Adolph Lundgren, Steve “Stone Cold” Austin and other action stars we knew from the 80s and 90s. There are even cameos from uber action guys, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. This movie is not meant to be taken seriously; there is not stunning dialogue or deeper characterizations. It is meant to be a love letter to those old movies. Sometimes you need to take a time out from seriousness.

 The thing you have to remember is that Stallone is 64 in this movie and he chooses to fight Austin in one scene. Guts or stupidity, I guess it is whatever it takes to make an entertaining flick.

 Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.