Tag Archive: Jack Black


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How to Have a Big Year

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This past week, I noticed a lot of stuff as I drove or walked around our community.

The town accountant readied his boat for a cruise or perhaps some fishing on April 16th. Yep, he probably deserves a break right about now.

Look, even the tulips are getting in the act.

Look, even the tulips are getting in the act.

As I walked Lady around, I noticed all of the beautiful spring flowers and flowering bushes- daffodils, narcissus, crocus, blue star, and forsythia – in bloom right now. In my own garden I have a new narcissus I am pretty sure I did not plant. I love those surprise volunteers.

Last week, I came home after a night of work only to hear the frogs from the nearby pond. It is about a quarter mile from my house as the crow flies. But the frogs were making a racket that made me think about opening the window so I could fall asleep to that sound.

But that might not have been the best sound. Hearing the birds make a racket might have been the best sound. I could pick out the red wing black birds and the bird that makes a sound like a Star Wars fighter plane. I am seeing blue jays and cardinals. Occasionally, I hear a wood pecker working on a tree but I haven’t seen one yet.

Birding is a different type of sport. It becomes more about making the impossible sighting, the wondrous vagrant, the birds sent off course by storms and high winds. I know parents of college friends who go to Texas for the winter not to winter but to work at a bird sanctuary. Walking into the woods with Neil Case is never a straight forward hike, you are going to see things.

While I enjoy watching the birds that come to our feeders, I never knew or imagined that there was such a thing in the birding world as a Big Year. This is when bird watching enthusiasts take a calendar year from January 1 till December 31 to see as many birds as you possibly can. The record is over 700 species seen in a one year period.

The Big Year PosterI became interested in finding all of this stuff out when the kids turned on this movie, The Big Year (2011) one night during spring break. Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson are three men who decide to do a Big Year in the same calendar year. Martin and Wilson are wealthy businessmen while Black is a working stiff getting over his divorce.

The Black character does everything he can, including racking up several credit cards to the limit, to do this Big Year thing which means a lot of traveling across the United States and Canada in order to see over 700 varieties of birds from North America and others that get blown off course. This includes Alaska, Florida, Texas, boat tours on the Pacific, and Colorado. They will miss work, spouses, and the little things to make this dream of seeing every possible species come true.

I found this movie worthwhile although slowly paced at times. It is a movie meant for adults, context-wise, but my ten-year-old could watch it for the most part. As we watched this movie while at my parents’ house, I wondered if my dad had ever seen it or if he would watch it. There were some exciting moments of almost making the plane and almost catching sight of a bird but no explosions or gun fights.

Perhaps Dad would have just changed the channel if he saw this movie coming on.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Flashes of Kate

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

This past weekend was the first parade for the grade school band.

 

It had been a great weekend with the weather until Sunday morning when it started raining. And I wondered if it would continue raining.

 

Thankfully, the rain stopped long enough to watch the parade to the very end and get enough candy to fill a Halloween pumpkin. There were some great cars along with fire trucks and tractors galore. There were singers, veterans, and boy scouts – classic Americana .

 

By the way, the band sounded great.

 

Last week, the kids went back to school and it was none too soon. With the passing of fair and band camp, so goes summer.

 

But as the days of summer are ending, I have been thinking about Kate Winslet. I love watching movies with this British actress because she is so interesting to watch. Even when she is in a romantic comedy that is nothing special, she lights up the screen.

 

When I watch her in The Holiday, I love how her character is very vulnerable and open to new relationships. Her character is suffering from a big blow as she watches the man she loves become engaged to another woman. She is able to take a vacation in L.A. when Cameron Diaz responds to her ad for house sharing.

 

Both women are suffering from broken hearts but it is Winslet who captures our eye as she charms not only Jack Black but the old codger Eli Wallach with her wit and charm. This movie is a lightweight jaunt compared to some of her other offerings.

 

In The Reader, she plays a German nurse who is accused of war crimes years after WWII. One of the witnesses testifying against her is the man with whom she had an affair during the war years. He was a teen at the time and a part of their courtship was him reading novels to her as she was illiterate.

 

Another difficult movie is Little Children in which Winslet is a wife and mother who starts an affair with a stay-at-home dad. A Doctoral graduate in literature, Winslet has given it all up for a stifling marriage and rambunctious child. But a part of her yearns for something more. There is also a subplot about a sex offender who comes home from jail and has a difficult time settling back in due to harassment. This film is meant for adults and makes one wonder at how life moves and breathes.

 

The last movie that I really love is The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind also starring Jim Carrey. The movie is set in the near future in which people can choose to have certain memories erased from their mind. Carrey and Winslet was an item but after a particularly nasty fight that leads to their break-up, she has him erased from her mind. So Carrey decides to do the same.

 

Of course, it is not that easy. Flashes keep coming back that they cannot explain. They find themselves circling around each other until they realize maybe, just maybe there was a reason for their loving emotions.

 

I would love to see Winslet do a “family” movie just because I wonder what she would do with it.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Last Piece of Christmas

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

 

Image by Kevin Rosseel

This past week I noticed that there were Christmas bulbs on the new trees in our downtown area. The ornaments are in colors of green, red and gold, making our downtown look a little festive.

 

So does the new Christmas tree that is over by the railroad building. It is full and bushy, decorated as it should be for the holiday.

 

I don’t know about you but I am ready for the holidays to be over. It has been crazy busy at my house and just when I think I have a night at home another ‘holiday’ activity has found its way onto our calendar.

 

So while I hope for some time to clean my house from more than its usual wreck, I am also planning to watch a few movies on those nights I plan to wrap a few presents.

 

Once the kids go to bed, I bring out the stash of presents, paper, scissors, tape and marking pen to begin the task of making magic happen. I pick out a movie, pour out some egg nog and get to the task at hand.

 

Kate and Jack in "The Holiday," Image from IMDb.com.

One movie for this “me” time that I love is The Holiday starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as women trading homes during the holidays. Both have broken hearts and need new sights to help the healing process. New connections are formed as these women meet the other’s family members, neighbors and friends.

 

They both find love and perhaps something more important, a renewed sense of self. It doesn’t hurt that the incredible Jude Law is one of the suitors and Jack Black shows vulnerability that makes him more accessible.

 

If I want a good cry, the Christmas movie of choice for me is The Family Stone starring Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson. Here we follow a family who is about to meet the girlfriend of one son. She appears to be as uptight as this family is relaxed or maybe its nerves and wanting to do the right thing.

 

Meeting the family in "The Family Stone," Image from IMDb.com

Of course, there are things that complicate everything. A hidden medical diagnosis, a pregnancy for one sister, another who is greatly opposed to this new person. Then there are the brothers, one of whom is deaf and gay, the other a pot-smoking filmmaker. And just when it could not get worse, the sister of the girlfriend shows up and changes the game entirely for the boyfriend.

 

But there is a moment that changes everything for me, a food disaster that leads to a moment of bonding with the women. From that moment on I cry on and off. I have done this ever since I watched this movie for the first time.

 

Let me wish you and yours  a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

 

Until next year, see you in the rental aisle.

His Name is Black

The other day I was watchin iCarly with my kids. It was a longer than usual episode that took place at a webicon.

Spencer was wearing the costume of one video game hero that he had made himself. He looked proud and dashing. That is until he met the hero of a different realm. Suddenly, it was a face-off between the two. What made the scene especially GREAT was that the opponent was Jack Black.

Poster image from IMDb.com

I will admit that Jack Black had to grow on me. His form of acting is really annoying at times. I may have initially rated The School of Rock much lower than I should have because I disliked him that much. The guy in his early days struck me as nothing more than a big ego who  over-acted every chance he got.

You might remember him from High Fidelity or Shallow Hal. Perhaps you are a Tenacious D fan. Maybe you discovered him in Orange County or Saving Silverman. No matter when it was, you cannot deny that Black has a tone of energy and his projects tend to work off of the quirky aspects of his soul.

Take for example his role in King Kong. As movie promoter, Carl Denham, Black takes his overacting and uses it to create this man who wants to be larger than life. Director Peter Jackson reigns in Black’s excesses and works it so that the final scene of his pronouncement is perfect for Black’s delivery of the lines about what really killed the beast when it was his bigger-than-life ambition.

Poster image from IMDb.com

Another director who got a softer performance from him was Nancy Myers in The Holiday. His character is still fun-loving, still music obsessive but he is a more contemplative man, kinder and less of an asshole. I found him much more likable in this movie as a composer who falls in love easily.

My turning point came during the publicity tour for Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. I saw Black and Kyle Gass on one of the late nite talk shows with Gass obviously drunk. Jack had to do most of the talking.  That is when I saw the drive behind the goof, the realistic expectation of getting a personal project to the big screen. I felt a connection and since then have grown to appreciate his work.

That might explain why I loved his performances in Be Kind Rewind and Kung Fu Panda and Gulliver’s Travels. I am seeing a man who is allowing the gentler side of his soul to be seen more often and I like it.

Black and Will Ferrell at the 79th Annual Oscars, Image from IMDb.com

However, my favorite Jack Black moment does not occur in any movie. It was during  79th Annual Oscar Awards in which Black and Will Ferrell sing about their love of Helen Mirren.  And that they were going to take the future Oscar winner home with them that night.

She ended up taking home Oscar along with her husband. But I wonder if she was tempted in the least?

Family Movie Night

 Snow just keeps falling.

 Last Monday the kids were off from school. Then last Thursday, my husband predicted the kids would be off again. Did not happen despite the constantly falling snow.

 While I was walking to dog on Thursday, my feet seemed to find every bit of ice underneath the powdery snow. Luckily, the dog did not take advantage of the situation the one time I did happen to fall down.

 So now Christmas is coming with a vengeance. Saturday is the big day and presents are being wrapped and hidden. You have seen just about every Christmas movie out there, sung every carol and heard enough bell ringing. You have eaten so many sugar plums, your doctor is giving you dire predictions. Nutcrackers make you sneer.

 I have a few suggestions for movies you may not have seen in recent years. Some have holiday themes and others have a slight holiday theme being wafted around it.

Billie Burke circa 1935, Picture from IMDb.com

 Finding The Cheaters (1945) may be the hardest part of enjoying this screwball comedy about a wealthy family on the brink of bankruptcy who bring a homeless man to the mansion for good press. Billie Burke (Glinda the Good Witch) and Eugene Pallette star as the parents of this brood who learn about the meaning of Christmas after a number of mis-adventures.

 I am not sure if it is possible to find this movie as I could not find it at Facets (Facetsmovies.com) or Movies Unlimited (moviesunlimited.com). Just because it is someone’s favorite movie does not mean it gets to be put out on tape or DVD. My mother loved this movie but if memory serves, the print was pretty bad back in the 70s when they would show it late at night.

Picture from IMDb.com

 Let’s say, you are really not in the Christmas mood but you want a little Santa flavor. I do have the perfect movie for you which pits Santa against those dastardly aliens from the big red planet. Perhaps one of the worst movies ever, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a tale about the aliens kidnapping the big guy along with two children.

 They do so because Martian children have seen Earth TV shows featuring the wonders of Santa. Will Santa bring Christmas joy to Martian children? Will he and the kids get to come back to earth before evil Martians try to kill them off? Will you recognize a very young Pia Zadora? Could it hurt to try?

Picture from IMDb.com

 One movie that seems to be rapidly disappearing from the Christmas movie scene is a favorite. Barbara Stanwyck stars as a Martha Stewert-like writer for a women’s magazine in Christmas in Connecticut (1945). While Stanwyck lives in a small NYC apartment, she writes about her farm and family in the next state over.

Her boss, Sydney Greenstreet, invites himself and a recovering war hero, Dennis Morgan, over for Christmas. Suddenly she needs a farm, a husband, a baby and the ability to cook or she could lose her job. You can imagine the mayhem that happens. Plus, Greenstreet and S.Z. Sakall work off of each others like old pros – which they are.

Kate Winslet and Jack Black in "The Holiday," Picture from IMDb.com

Perhaps my last choice is not the best of movies but I do enjoy watching The Holiday starrring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. These two women have been put down by love and decide to trade home for the holidays to get a change of scene. It is a movie that dares to make Jack Black into a romantic hero.  

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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