Tag Archive: wolfman

Digging in the Bookpile

Nightly book reading has been fun as we are delving into some new books (from Grandma) and finding old favorites.

For whatever reasons, the kids have pulled out our Bur Bur books and finding out why we liked them in the first place.

Book Cover image from Borders.com

I first discovered Bur Bur a few years ago when I interviewed JoAnne Pastel and Kakie Fitzsimmons. As parents of multi-racial and multi-cultural children with a love of the outdoors, they were having a hard time finding books that spoke to their children.

Necessity is the mother of invention so they made their own books featuring Bur Bur. Bur Bur goes fishing and boating and makes the first pitch at a ball game.

There are various parts of the picture to look at and count. You can find colors and animals. We have a lot of fun reading Bur Bur. One of my favorite pictures is “H  is for Horn.” Bur Bur talks about how dad lets him do the horn every now and again. And the horn sounds off. There is not a sound chip in the book but you just know.

You can find the books at the Bur Bur and Friends website.

My book reading as of late came from one of the other mom’s on my son’s tee ball team. We talk of books and I mentioned how much I have been enjoying some vampire series. She talked about Alice Hoffman whom I have never heard of.

Book Cover Image from Borders.com.

Well, I should know her because the movie Practical Magic was based on her book of the same name. I love that movie. While researching I found out that the movie took liberties with parts of the story (surprised? I hope not) but retained the essentials of a modern-day fairy tale.

In Second Nature,  we are traversing through that sort of story as well. A woman bring home a man about to be locked in a mental institution. He was found in the woods of Michigan, hurt and surrounded by wolves.

Is it realistic that she could have done this or that he would be raised by wolves from an early age? That he could so quickly fit into her world or that they would fall in love with each other almost instantly? Probably not. But other touches are very realistic. A vindictive ex-husband. A feisty grandfather. Young lovers forced into the open and a friend suddenly angry about it.

I enjoyed the reading, enjoyed how the story was told from the various perspectives, including the ex-husband who realizes he is turning into a person he does not want to be. Flights of fancy are written in such a grounded manner, it all seems logical and right.

I stayed up one night because I could not put it down, on the day I was given the book. That is what a good book should do for you.

What have you been reading?

Family Movie Night

“Yanda lies the castle of ma fatha.”

Tony Curtis in "The Sweet Smell of Success," picture from IMDb.com

 This quote is perhaps the most famous for who reportedly said it although no one has ever actually heard it. Allegededly uttered by Tony Curtis during his early days in Hollywood in the movie The Black Shield of Falworth, it is the reminder he was born in the Bronx.

Last week we said goodby forever to Curtis who was a fine actor in a variety of roles from a knight to a cross dressing musician to the Boston Strangler. Granted, his personal life was a mess but apparently he was forgiven by at least one of his children.

Also going up to the big movie house is Arthur Penn, who crafted the masterful Bonnie and Clyde which starred Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. I know there are talks to re-make this movie but it will never live up to the original unless it is far, far better.

 Finally, I want to remember Sally Menke, a film editor who died  during a hike in the mountains of California. She worked on all of Quentin Tarratino’s films, helping him achieve his signature look and style. Plus, she is credited with making the opening of Inglorious Basterds the imcomperable thing of beauty it is.

When you consider how many hours of film the editor gets, the different shots and angles and points of view, it is amazing that we get good films, let alone great ones. Sally is going to be missed for her Oscar-nominated artistry.

 Now that we have remembered the dead lets get to the start of my October series on spooky/scary movies. I am not sure that these movies are appropriate for kids under the pre-teen years. Some of these choices are too close in some ways to real life and may be too scary for young ones.

Movie Poster, Picture from IMDb.com

 Perhaps the best vampire movie ever made was Nosferatu (1922) by director F.W. Murneau. It was during the hey-day of German film-making and no one has ever matched it for creepiness. Max Schreck was a genius in his role. I would like to see it again, especially on the big screen. Gary Oldman’s turn in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) is nothing but a huge homage to that movie.

 The one movie that people remember the most is Count Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi. He would forever have that character

Bela Lugosi as Dracula, picture from IMDb.com.

etched on him but Lugosi really was a good actor. In this movie, Lugosi makes the count romantic and campy. He is a safe monster. Perhaps that is the biggest appeal of Edward Cullen from Twilight.

 Next, there is James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931). The

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein, picture from IMDb.com

first ‘monster’ movie for the talkies, it may be most memorable for not being like the book and for being as scary as Mary Shelley’s work. There are murders and fear and gentleness and tragedy rolled up in 70 minutes with little or no musical soundtrack.

 Last but not least is The Wolfman (1941) starring Lon Chaney Jr. as the ill-fated American. The sets are cheap, the dry ice is plentiful and yet, there is a

Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man, picture from IMDb.com

sadness to this movie like none other. Claude Rains plays the father and gives a performance that is simple, stark and powerful. I saw this reflected in David Thewlis’s performance as Lupin in the Harry Potter film series. It is a movie that is scary because of the emotion and not the actual scares because Larry Talbot is such a grounded ‘everyman.’

 What movies do you consider to be in the ‘classic’ definition of scary movies? And what do you think are the best ‘zombie’ or ‘slasher’ movies?

 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 in the comment scetion.  Become my friend on Facebook.