Tag Archive: notes from rumbly cottage

Surprise Island

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Finding a good family movie can prove to be difficult.

Boxcar Children Surprise IslandSometimes you find one that has great characters but a story line that makes no sense. Or the dialogue feels right until we get into poop and fart jokes that run continuously.

Sometimes a good family movie works and sometimes they just don’t.

I say all this because I recently watch a Boxcar Children movie, hoping that it would be good.

For those unfamiliar with the back story, the Boxcar Children are a family of four children who were orphaned but have been taking care of themselves thanks to the efforts of the oldest brother, Henry. Older sister, Jesse, is a good cook and can organize just about anything. Younger sister, Violet, has an artistic spirit but is a bit shy. Benny is a rambunctious six year old boy that everyone adores.

At some point they are found by their grandfather, a very rich man who wants to care for his grandchildren. They and their dog, Watch, eventually move in to the older man’s mansion and make a new life.

Boxcar ChildrenIn the newest movie featuring these characters called The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island, summer vacation has finally come. The children are ready for an adventure and their grandfather plans to give them one.

He owns an island, one where he used to spend the summer, exploring the entire island and creating memories. It is his intention to let his grandchildren spend their summer here so they can do the same. He will visit as he can but for the most part they will be on their own along with Captain Daniel who lives in the dock house. And there is Joe who is the captain’s assistant.

There is a mystery to solve and adventures to have and a museum to create.

I enjoyed the way this movie played out. It is what some might call a slice of life movie in which the kids just live using what they find on the island and what ever provisions Joe or Captain Daniel can get from the mainland.

But what kept distracting me from enjoying this movie was the animation. Or maybe I should say the lack of depth in the animation. The characters moved very stiffly as did almost any wild creature, the sky, and the sea.

My Neighbor Totoro IMDb com 4 2013Perhaps I have been spoiled by Disney, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli animation. These three studios put out films that are beautiful to watch and complete with great story lines and dialogue. The Jungle Book by Disney features a four-panel background that moves as Mowgli walks, giving the jungle a lush look. The toys in Toy Story look nearly real with their myriad of expressions. The grass in My Neighbor Totoro blows in waves as the wind streaks along.

But none of this happens in Surpise Island. The grandfather’s mustache barely moves as he speaks. It doesn’t matter that the great Martin Sheen gives voice to this character if it doesn’t look like his mouth is moving right. And that can ruin the rest of the movie along with the story it wants to tell.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Incredibles 2

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

This past week we made what might be our last trip to the drive-in for the summer.

You never know, we could make another trip because one must watch scary movies at the drive-in. In reality, I am guessing we are done.

The_Incredibles_2 posterBut it was a great one to finish off the summer season – a double feature with The Incredibles 2 and Christopher Robin. I will talk about the latter sometime in the future. But right now I want to talk about the long-awaited sequel to what I think is one of the best movies of all time.

Why did Brad Bird wait so long to make this sequel? I am sure he has some good reasons. Timing was not right, didn’t want a fake storyline to drive the plot, couldn’t figure out how to make Edna a crucial part of the storyline.

I am sure the reasons were endless.

Luckily what we get is a great storyline.

The supers remain in hiding. And when a bad guy shows up, the family tries to stop him. However, their attempts are futile; the bad guy gets away despite our favorite super heroes managing to save the capitol building.

That is when Lucius meets this rich guy named Winston Deavor. He is super rich and super crazy about supers. Winston is the salesman of the company while his sister, Evelyn, is the creative genius who invents items for the future of right now.

They want the supers to be supers again.

And their choice for this job is Elastigirl – Helen.

The reason why becomes clear. Elastigirl is smoother, more about finesse than bombast power. That means less damages, and more feel-good moments.

But for Helen, it is also about guilt. The guilt of not being there for the kids while breaking the law to help supers be legal once more.

the-incredibles-2 meeting

Frozone, Elastigirl, and Mr. Incredible meeting with Winston Deavor

What I loved about the first Incredibles movie is that it explored the idea of giving participation trophies and making everyone feel they’re special.

This movie is exploring the guilt of life. Helen deals with working mother guilt even though she is smart and good at her job. Bob is guilty over not being out doing superhero stuff while wondering if he is doing a good enough job as a dad. Two other characters deals with the guilt of the should-of’s and could-of’s we all face in life when something tragic happens. Their individual response may be different to that guilt but how they deal with it is interesting.

Yes, these guilt issues are a part of the subtext, but we also get a ton of great action scenes. Elastigirl is the star, people love her, even fellow heroes. Jack-Jack is starting to display all of his powers which can be frightening and exciting. Edna is fascinating for all of her fashion personality quirks.

Can you have a movie that is fun and exciting while dealing with all of these emotions? Yes! Just because we are getting a lot of great action scenes with super-powered people doesn’t mean we can’t handle a few emotions along the way. Everyone knows that emotions are so much messier than the end results of a great battle. But dealing with them and coming to a new understanding can be a great adventure.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

A Street Cat Named Bob

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

It seems as if I am writing a lot about redemption stories. The movies I am watching lately are about people who work to create a better life for themselves or others.

This past week I discovered a book that was very popular in England and apparently around the world. It is called A Street Cat named Bob. The story is about how a young man in London changed his life around after adopting a stray cat.

A Street Cat named Bob posterThe story is incredible, powerful because this man was fighting a heroin addiction.

In 2016, a movie was made based on the book written by James Bowen, the street musician who adopted Bob. In the movie, James is played by Luke Treadaway, a British actor who gives a truthful portrayal.

Nothing is sugarcoated in this movie. We start with James trying to make a living singing on the streets with his busted up guitar. As the rain pours, a friend gives him shelter and a chance to get high. With no prospect for food or proper shelter, James takes advantage.

But a near over-dose makes James decide to live. And he is lucky to get a social worker who is tough but believes in him. Val gets him on a methadone program with strict rules. She also acquires a flat for him in a neighborhood that is not the best but it is safer than the streets.

Two things that happen give James hope. First, he meets Betty, a dog walker and volunteer. Then his new home is broken into by Bob, a marmalade tabby. At first James is only going to give the cat a home for the night and send him on his way. But Bob has other plans. He follows James on to the bus and begins to accompany James where ever he performs.

Various factors work on James and we see that he wants something better. And that what kept me watching. I became enraptured with the story of this young man and his efforts to make a better life, to escape the drugs that plagues him. When Bob goes missing and we fear the worst, we see James work through his emotions and fear.

A street cat named bob still

Still of Bob and Luke Treadaway from A Street Cat Named Bob

Most of the time when I watch a British film, I prepare myself for lots of swearing and more violence than usual. But this movie can be watched by teens and those who are more sensitive because there is minimal swearing. Drug use is off screen although we are well aware of it. There is some fighting but again, it is at minimal amounts.

Luke Treadaway gives a nuanced performance as James. He is joined by Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Frogget, and Anthony Head as James’s father. Each has something to add to the story be it supporting character in James’s story or a person who explains his back story a little more.

Perhaps most amazing is the actual cat, Bob, who stars as himself. There are other cats used to portray Bob at various times but he is on screen a good part of the time intereacting with James and others appropriately.

I have a hard time describing this movie because I really enjoyed it. It was such an accidental discovery but one I will be watching again.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

I Can Only Imagine

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Sometimes a good song falls in your lap. Sometimes a good song takes years to make. Sometimes it takes only minutes to write a song after a lifetime of experiences.

It is the story that drives I Can Only Imagine, a movie about the man who wrote the hit song on the Christian charts. It is both sad and sweet. It’s about redemption and taking chances.

The movie starts when Bart Millard is 10. He lives with his mother and father but the house is not happy. Alcoholic Dad takes his anger out on his family, causing Mom to up and leave. But not before she drops him off for a week at summer sleepover bible camp.

I can Only Imagine IMDbIt is here that Bart meets the love of his life, Shannon. They bond over camp activities and sneaking out to watch fireworks. But when Bart comes home, his mother has left and the only one at home is Bart’s father. A man who takes his anger out on his child.

So Bart spends the next few years trying to please his dad. But plans don’t always go the way you hope. Suddenly, Bart find himself in a different school club and a new door opens for him.

If you follow the band MercyMe, you might know the rest of the story. Of how a promoter saw the band, of how the band worked to be better, how they got an opportunity of a lifetime.

You might know the story on how Bart learned to forgive and open his heart. How his father made the biggest transformation of all.

It is a movie that surprised me because I enjoyed every bit of it. This is one of the few Christian movies where I feel like the writers and directors finally figured out that if you lean heavy on a good story, the message you want to share will come through.

I can only imagine BartIt helps that first time film-actor, J. Michael Finley, does an excellent job as the adult Bart. He makes the high school student and the adult vulnerable and closed off in the right parts. And yet, he cannot deny his own talent or his eagerness to use that talent.

Dennis Quaid gives us a character that is gruff and mean and unforgivable at the beginning. But in the end, we find ourselves rooting for the older man. Granted, he is only about five years older from the last time we see him but he is greatly changed. Quaid expresses all sides of this complicated man without going too far in one direction or another.

Trace Atkins also brings a special something to his role as the manager/promoter who gets the band noticed. His reluctance and belief in their potential makes the role feel real.

Sometimes sincere emotions can make up for lacks in this genre. Many of the people in this production came through with heart-felt portrayals that never let us down. Because of its uplifting story, because of the real transformation of the characters, I enjoyed watching this movie and would happily watch it again.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

What makes a good movie? What makes a bad movie?

How is it that some movies hit all the right notes with a thinner than fresh ice plot line while others with an interesting plot line fail to connect?

Personally, I think it is all about knowing who your audience is and who they could be.

Recently I picked up a movie that looked interesting. It was about how tainted chicken nuggets turned a summer school group of kids into zombies.

Cooties_poster (1)In my head this should be a slam dunk in the horror/comedy genre. There is so much you should be able to mine in this territory to be funny.

But from the start, Cooties hit wrong notes. We start with new substitute Elijah Wood asking his mom how she liked his book when she comes to get him up for his first day at a real job. After her positive affirmations, she pulls out every criticism. This was uncomfortable.

Then he gets to school, makes enemies of various teachers by talking abut this is only a way to make money while he works on his book. One of the teachers turns out to be a former classmate. Potential romance, right? NO! Her boyfriend is the very masculine gym teacher.

We also get very unpleasant sequences with Nasim Pedrad, who used to be great on Saturday Night Live. Here she is a tightly wound teacher constantly talking about what the State of Illinois will not let her do.

After that is when the zombie behavior in the kids starts popping out. Let me just say after a slow start, it goes right into gruesome as a sanctimonious character gets torn apart on the blacktop play ground. And that’s where I stopped watching. If you are going to have gruesome in a comedy/horror movie you need it make it funny. And there has to be at least one likable character that you root for to make it to the end.

I didn’t have that with this movie. But I will tell you one zombie movie that made me laugh and be disgusted at the same time. That was Shaun of the Dead. This movie starred Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as two guys somewhere in England fighting off a zombie horde while trying to save Pegg’s former girlfriend and her friends.

Shaun of the DeadWhy does this movie work? First, we actually like Shaun. He might be a bit of a loser but he actually wants to protect his loved ones. Two, the jokes feel realistic and not taken too far. They are not stiff or uncomfortable. Lastly, the gruesome parts are not that gruesome and they wait until far enough into the movie to be an expected thing.

I actually watched this movie all the way through and not just because I had to. I really enjoyed Shaun of the Dead. Cooties, on the other hand, can go back where it came from. My son later watched the movie all the way through and he stated it started to get good around the two third’s way mark into the movie. It’s doesn’t matter how good Rainn Wilson’s performance is by that point, that is when you hang it up.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Eighth Grade

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

While visiting Oak Park a few weeks back, the husband and I decided to take in one of those independent movies that doesn’t come down this way very often.

eighth grade posterWatching Eighth Grade was like seeing one of those movies that felt true to life. It’s a slice of life story that seems to be about nothing. It is rated R so the kids who would recognize everything depicted as true and everything depicted as false can’t get to see this movie on their own. Parents have to be willing to take their own eighth graders to this movie. But also be prepared to talk about it afterwards.

The story is about a girl during her final week of eighth grade. Kayla is a quiet shy girl who makes videos on how to be more confident or how to be yourself. That doesn’t mean she actually does these things but nor does she not try. Her stories come from the point of view to classmates she wants to be like.

But this girl is also looking forward to high school in the hopes that things will be different. She clicks with her mentor immediately, which gives Kayla hope. She also has a huge crush on the cutest boy in class and wonders how to make him more than an acquaintance. Meanwhile, Dad is trying to connect with his daughter. He is genuinely concerned about his daughter and tries to be supportive as he daughter makes the big transition to high school.

There were times I wondered where this movie was going. It moves slow and sometimes our lead character is contradictory in her actions. She pretends in her videos to be more outgoing than she really is.

But in the end, I saw this girl grow and change. We see her being awkward and afraid and reclusive till she decides not to be these things.

eighth grade kayla n dadThis is one of those movies that doesn’t have a lot of action. But Kayla needs to be brave and we watch her grow her emotional strength. It would not surprise me if this movie becomes an Oscar TM contender, considering the honest and raw performance given by Elsie Fisher as Kayla. Josh Hamilton also comes through with a strong performance as a dad trying to figure out his daughter, a beautiful kind girl trying to find her way.

Kid actors can overplay a role and not be consistent. But Elise Fisher completes all of the right moves in this role. She makes Kayla vulnerable and afraid and brave.

Now I do need to warn you that there is some swearing in this movie. There are moments that are uncomfortable because it features some sexuality that is unwanted,. How Kayla responds is what keeps you watching.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

It used to be that if you wanted to binge on a specific TV show, all you had to do was wait for a cable station to have a marathon of an episode.

That is how I have watched the TV show Monk about a detective that has OCD but is able to solve the unsolvable murder cases.

But other shows can be found on DVD. You can watch all of the seasons of The Big Bang Theory or Seinfeld. It’s not just movies anymore but some of these award-winning short-term TV shows.

handmaids_tale_s1_dvd_cover_artRecently. I watched the entire first season of The Handmaid’s Tale starring Elizabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes. It is based on the novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood about a futuristic society in which women are not allowed to read or hold a job or handle money.

The American government has been overthrown by a religious organization and the constitution has been suspended. One of the precipitating factors to all of this is a massive drop in the birth rate. Women are barren and some children are still-born. It is believed to be either a virus or God’s will upon America for not living by God’s laws.

In this new society, the women have clear rules. Wives of the commanders wear blue dresses and cloaks. They do not work and are expected to do what society women do – hand works, creative works for pleasure, and serve as their husband’s hostess and helpmate. Those rich enough are given a Martha dressed in gray to do the housework and cook meals from scratch. If the couple does not have any children, they are given a Handmaid.

Handmaids tale, walking partners

Walking Partners

This member of the household is to have sex with the husband at her most fertile period while the wife’s in the room. Should the handmaid become pregnant and have a successful birth, she will give the baby to the commander and his wife. Should she not get pregnant after a one year period, she will get sent to another commander. If the second assignment doesn’t result in pregnancy, she will be sent to the radioactive colonies to clean up the toxic mess. It is a certain death sentence.

The show gives us the present story and the handmaid’s past story in flashbacks at first. We find that she was married with a child and loved dearly. This situation is terrible for her. She misses her daughter and believes that her husband is dead. We see her point of view on how life changed. But as the series moves through the episodes, we get to see the viewpoint of other characters and how they are shaped by the change of government.

Handmaid_s_tale June_Luke

June with her husband Luke and daughter Hannah in happier times

The book is very interesting but it does not go into these details. It is fascinating and horrifying all at the same time. I found I could only do two episodes at a time because each scene is so intense. The intensity comes from the constant vigilance everyone is under, never knowing who is a spy and who is not. In a society with few words, it is subtle facial expressions that tell the story even more than the words spoken. You have to watch it, there is no dragging your eyes away.

I must warn you that there is swearing and violence. We will see dead bodies and people killed for no reason. People will scream at their situation and wonder how they can get out. It is brutal and engrossing and makes one wonder if this can ever happen in our world.

I cannot tell you one way or the other.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

With the weather being so hot, I have not had the energy to get out and work in my garden or do much else beyond school work.

Scott Pilgrim Vs the worldI am taking a library class this summer that has a major project due every week. This week is the final exam and in a weird way I am looking forward to it. Soon, it will be over. On one hand I know how to work more programs then I did before. On the other, I will have some time to enjoy the last of summer.

But last Thursday, I broke down and sat with my son to just watch a movie. All I did was watch a movie with him and wondered what I was watching. The movie turned out to be Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

This was a weird little movie about Scott Pilgrim who falls in love with Ramona who has seven evil exes that he will need to battle in order to win her. And it is all treated like a video game. As Scott fights each ex-love and wins, coins fall to the ground and he appears to have a running point count going on.

The exes include a now-famous actor, a few musicians, a goth girl, and a music promoter. But there is another problem as Scott has an ex-girlfriend of his own; Knives wants him back and is willing to date his friend to make Scott jealous and want her back.

Maybe it was my mood and my inability to get up but I loved this movie. It was a lot of fun and a great jab at gamers playing an unusual live action version of their favorite games. There was an epic battle scene just about every five minutes during the second half.

Scott Pilgrim Evil Exes

The Evil Exes in Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

The battles were epic but so were the actors who were given a chance to break us up with some good laughter. Brandon Routh has been shutting it down as the Atom on the DC comic television network. There he gets to be the good guy. But in this movie he plays a dark character fueled by a need for revenge and super powers courtesy of his vegan lifestyle.

Chris Evans wasn’t Captain America yet when this movie was made. However, he has a great time being an action hero actor who has to beat Scott and has no doubt he will. The testosterone coming off of this guy is off the charts.

Jason Schwartzman makes a great appearance as the crooked record deal man and the final evil ex-love willing to fight to the death.

This movie is meant for teens and adults who love to game. While the fights are tightly choreographed and filled with wire-fu, this film is also splattered with f-bombs and language not everyone is going to appreciate.

Still, as a flick for a night when I needed to relax, this movie works. I may never watch it again but it was fun this time around.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


I recently came across this clever little meme that talks about who is a true American that has given us the right to vote, freedom of speech, freedom to demonstrate, freedom of the press.


“It’s the Veteran, not the reporter,
who has given us the freedom of the press.
It’s the Veteran, not the poet,
who has given us the freedom of speech.
It’s the Veteran, not the community organizer,
who gives us the freedom to demonstrate.
It’s the Military who salutes the flag,
who serves beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.”


I have news for whoever wrote this.

You’re wrong because it takes all of us to make sure those rights exist and stay in place.

By excluding the community organizer, you exclude the people who call us to arms, to try to right the wrongs of the community as we see it. Community organizers are not just demonstrating in the streets, they are recruiting people to their cause – be it the army, the alt-right, the women’s march, or their house of worship. And whose words are they using?

They use the words of the poets, the dreamers, those who can speak eloquently about the things the rest of us believe but can’t put into words. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander  were incredible writers who put into words the things that our burgeoning nation wanted and dreamed of. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence that still stirs our souls over two hundred years later. Hamilton wrote various portions of the Constitution and went on to write the majority of the Federalist Papers that define and explain the Constitution even further. Where would we be without the writers of the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, or I’m Proud to be an American?

By excluding the voter, you exclude the people  who do the hardest part of this nation. They go to the ballot box and make their voice heard. Sometimes your side wins, sometimes your side loses. Other nations fight for this right. Other nations have election day ruined by those factions who throw acid or shoot at voters. That doesn’t happen here. And let’s work to make sure that never does happen.

You want to prop up the military as the only fighters of freedom. And a part of me understands. But the other part says that’s not going to happen because the military isn’t the only one doing the heavy lifting of democracy. The work belongs to all of us – the poet, the organizer, the artist, the voter, the journalist, the mother and father, the every day joe and josephine, the soldier.

Someone has to inspire, someone has to gather us together, someone has to create the images and flags, someone has to write about it, someone has to work with the children, someone has to do the everyday work of the nation, someone has to protect it. We are in this together despite looking and being different in so many way.



So Together

So Together
by Kadir Nelson

The only question left is what are you doing to protect our democracy?





Doesn’t matter which side it comes from, it is all pretty deplorable.

And the worst are the memes which misappropriates pictures to make what ever point people are trying to make.

You know the ones, those images that come from the certain relative who makes every family gathering crazy.

So today I am going to show you how to find out the origin of a picture. This is not a job for your cool cellphone. It takes several windows at once. If you don’t have a PC at home, you can always go to your local library and use their computers to do the heavy lifting.

So let’s start with an image that’s been turned into a meme. Click on it so it is a stand alone image.

Picture 1


Now do a right click with your mouse.


Picture 2


See that lovely dialogue box? Good. Now click on the line that says “Copy Image Address.”

Good! Now open a new window on your browser. I prefer Chrome.


Picture 3


See the circled portion that says Image? Click on it.



Picture 4

Your next window will have a camera icon. Click on it.



Picture 5


Remember how we did that neat little “copy address of image” technique? Now get your cursor in the box and hit CTRL and “V” to paste that address in the box. then click on “search by image”.



Picture 6

Now, Bang. your search has produced something. At the top of the page it says “best result = festival.” I scrolled down to find our guy sitting in his chair. Apparently he has been doing a lot of chair sitting. But I found him here in Glastonbury.



Picture 7

And look at that date – 2017.

Just because an image or meme makes us feel good or vindicated doesn’t make it true. Always check it out and stop disinformation in it’s tracks.

Thank you

You’re welcome.