End of Month Youtube Videos

I got some new videos up on the channel I think you will enjoy.  Definitely check them out.  If you haven’t already please subscribe to my channel and give me some thumbs up if you think they are any good.  Thanks!

Here’s one on movies I like to watch when I am sick.

Here’s the end of my blu-ray review series

Movies that I watched in theaters in March

Here’s one on why I think critics are particularly tough on Christian films but it would apply to any film with a narrow audience

Here’s my youtube review of Dreamworks Home

And finally here are the movies I watched at home in March.  Not my greatest viewing month but Akira was pretty cool.  I have to watch it a couple more times before doing a written review.

Again, thanks for giving them a watch and thumbs up.  I really appreciate it.  On to April!

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Home: A Dreamworks Hit

home23So this weekend shows how little I know about the box office.  Dreamworks Home was a huge hit at theaters making 54 million and ending up 1 by a long shot over the comedy Get Hard that brought in 34.

To say I’m surprised would be an understatement.  To me Home was at best forgettable and the kids in my theater didn’t seem engaged at all.  It’s bright and colorful but saddled with a predictable story and inconsistent characters. Maybe I’ve just seen too many movies because everything felt like a retread of better films and I was left asking a lot of questions about how this world could possibly work.  If I’m thinking about all the plot holes than it is usually a bad sign.  Plus, the voicecasting I thought was way off.  Worst of all it didn’t make me laugh.  Not one laugh.

Most critics were a little kinder than me but even the positive reviews said it wasn’t a classic, kind of forgettable. The fact it made more than How to Train Your Dragon 2 opening weekend is a huge surprise.  But then again Maleficent was a huge hit and I thought that was total crap so what do I know?

That said, I’m thrilled for Dreamworks.  They definitely needed a hit so good for them.  It makes no sense to me but neither did Birdman winning Best Picture so who knows?

Why do you guys think Home did so well?  What did Dreamworks do right with this release? It still has a huge budget to overcome so it may not  help Dreamworks as much as it should but we will see.

Do You Believe?

do you believeI debated about doing a review of the current Christian film from Pure Flix called Do You Believe because I honestly don’t want to spoil the rawness of the experience I was able to have.  I normally don’t care about spoilers but I think in this case my not knowing much about the film really helped me to respond and be inspired by it. I hadn’t even seen the trailer but I liked Pure Flix last film God’s Not Dead so I went out to see it and left very inspired.

Enjoyment of this film goes back to my post entitled Consider the Audience. Currently Do You Believe has a low Rotten Tomatoes score with most critics calling it preachy and overbearing.  My response to such critics would be ‘it simply wasn’t made for you”.  There are some movies made for toddlers, some for teens, others for Mormons and some for Christians. Does that give movies made for a target audience a complete pass to be horrible?  No of course not but it also means if you aren’t in that audience you will probably have a hard time relating to the movie just like adults have a hard time enjoying Barney or Dora the Explorer  It isn’t made for you.

Basically Do You Believe takes the Crash approach telling 12 stories of faith with a strong cast including Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, Ted McGinley, Cybill Shepherd and Lee Majors.

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McGinley plays a pastor who is inspired by the question ‘do you believe and if so what are you going to do about it?’ and that kind of gets the story going for his congregation.

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Alexa Vega is very good as a troubled girl who bonds with a returning marine.

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Brian Bosworth is a man who sacrifices his own comfort to help those around him.

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Mira Sorvino is a mother to an adorable little girl who is dealing with poor health and homelessness and Shepherd and Majors are a couple whose only daughter died tragically and they are unable to move on.

do you believe8 do you believe5I particularly liked the story of Bobby played by Liam Matthews who talks about Jesus to a dying man as an EMT and is asked to apologize or lose his job.  I thought that was very true to life and very moving.  It asks the question ‘if you were put on trial as a Christian is there enough evidence to convict you?’.

do you believe3The only storyline which didn’t work for me involved the African American characters who were very cliched street thugs with names like Nefarious and Kriminal.  The performances aren’t bad but the writing could have been better for these characters.

do you believe7I don’t really want to go into any more of the plot but it does get intense and could be upsetting for small children.  I would recommend adults, older children and teens see it first and then decide if it is something appropriate for your younger children.

In some ways films about faith and romance have the same challenges.  The true authentic experience of falling in love or being converted when not happening to you can seem trite, silly, one-dimensional etc.  That’s why movies like Do You Believe get such bad reviews.  I’m not trying to say it is perfect because it isn’t but the experiences of the 12 characters for the most part felt real and authentic to what it is like to be converted and face various challenges to faith.

I don’t know if there is much these films could do in order to not come off as preachy and simplistic to those who have not undergone a conversion experience.  I guess you could have movies like Noah which I liked but most Christians disliked that tries to bridge the gap between believer and nonbeliever but it services the nonbeliever audience more.  As far as a movie of faith and particularly conversion that resonates with all viewers it is tough.  Chariots of Fire? The Mission? Do You Believe is certainly not on that level but it tells a satisfying, inspiring story of Christian life for its intended audience.

As far as comparing it to God’s Not Dead it is tough.  Its 12 characters are much better than the side characters of God’s Not Dead.  Sean Astin is an especially big improvement from Dean Cain.  However, the core focus of the professor and the student in God’s Not Dead drew me in more than any of the 12 stories of Do You Believe.  Part of that is because I had a similar experience in college and really related to what the student was going through.   Do You Believe is way more of a Christian film where God’s Not Dead had themes anyone of faith could relate too as faith shaming happens whether you are Mormon, Evangelical, Jewish or Muslim.  So, the appeal is more narrow but the overall movie is probably better in Do You Believe.

So if you are Christian and want to see something inspiring that could be a part of your family scripture study go see Do You Believe.  I was really moved by it and despite what the critics say found it thought provoking and inspiring.  If you are not Christian it is a definite pass.  But again I don’t think that is a knock against the movie.  It is made for a particular audience and that audience will enjoy it.

Hope I kept that spoiler free enough. If any of you do see it let me know what you think.

Overall Grade- B   Content Grade- B

AMC Animation Madness Round 1

Figured since I posted about the series and shared my brackets I would post the round 1 results of the AMC Animation Movie Madness. I am a little surprised all the anime films got beaten, but I don’t think any of the winners are bad.

Anything surprise you about what won out?  A little surprised on Monsters Inc and Toy Story 3 winning.  Happy Wreck it Ralph didn’t make it on but sad about Spirited Away and Wall-e but Pinocchio is great.

What do you think about the next match ups?

round 2I see it being a Pixar lovefest which as a Pixar fangirl (I even like Cars 2) is fine with me.  I think the winners of the round will be Lion King, Toy Story, Up, Aladdin, Toy Story 3, Monsters Inc (Frozen should win over Monsters Inc but youtube seems particularly virulent in the backlash dept), Beauty and the Beast and Toy Story 2.  As a Disney fan cool to see an all Disney/Pixar Sweet 16 except for Iron Giant.  I am glad to see that one Golden Age Disney made it to Sweet 16 even if Pinocchio wouldn’t have been my choice, it is certainly a great film.

It’s the very definition of a popularity contest but I think it is kind of fun. I wouldn’t take it too seriously.  It’s not saying what is the ‘best’ animated movie.  That would have to be determined by animation experts but it is just what people like the most, which on a certain level is interesting.

Would love for you guys to do your own brackets both what you think will win and what you would pick.  And create your own bracket of 32 at http://www.printabletournamentbrackets.net/preview/32_Team_Single_Elimination_Bracket

I did a bunch of brackets a while back including the best of the worst of Disney which Bolt won.  So it is the movie I would most like to watch again of all the bad Disney movies. Would be really fun if you guys did that bracket too and we could compare our sweet 16, final 4’s, winners.  Give it a try!

worst disney

Home Review

Dreamworks in Crisis

rip dreamworks

I hate to say it guys but I’m calling it- Dreamworks time of death, March 2015.  Let’s give a little bit of background. For years Dreamworks has been battling it out with Disney and Pixar scoring some hits with particularly the Shrek films being the apex of their financial success.  They’ve also had creative victories like the How to Train Your Dragon series, Kung Fu Panda and Prince of Egypt.  Unfortunately they have been unable to curtail costs so even seeming successes were actually studio failures.

Last year it all came to fruition with 3 releases.  Mr Peabody and Sherman with a budget of 145 mil (ridiculous for a comedy like that) made 272 million at box office.  This might seem pretty good but when you take into account theater shares and marketing they took a 57 million hit on it.  Then they had How to Train Your Dragon 2, a healthy success, with budget of 145 million (see Sherman should not have cost as much as HTTYD2!) making 618 million.  Most of these proceeds were overseas (over 400 million of it) and it was significantly less than its predecessor so on the whole a disappointment (total profit 107 million).

Then we had Penguins of Madagascar, a fun comedy which cost $132 million and made $367 million  Sounds pretty good right? Nope that 132 doesn’t include incentive based pay to the actors! So in the end they took another 57 million hit on Penguins.  This is after losing 87 million on Rise of the Guardians and 13.5 million for Turbo in 2013.  As you can see whatever good Dragon did is quickly evaporated.

Then at the end of last year they closed their PDI animation studio laying off 1/3rd of their artists.

That’s where we get to their latest release, Home.  I think many of us were hoping this could be a Frozen size savior for the studio but sadly it is far, far, from that. In fact, if I am honest it is closer to this years’ George Lucas offering Strange Magic than anything else. It cost $135 million to make and I have a hard time believing it will do better than Mr Peabody and Sherman which was actually pretty clever. So in other words another loss.

I’m grasping at straws to find things I liked about Home but there isn’t much.

Home Review-

home3The best thing I can say about home is that it is harmless.  Kind of like Strange Magic there is nothing offensive or off putting.  Your kids will be moderately entertained so if you need a babysitter you could do worse but that is about it.

Home is based on the book The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, which my sister says is quite brilliant.  It is about an alien named Oh that is the ‘most special’ character in his entire race like we’ve seen in movies from Twilight to the Host to Harry Potter.  What makes him unique?  Well, he makes mistakes and likes to have friends and be happy. Not exactly defeating Lord Voldemort but we will go with it.oh home

He is part of a race called the boovs who run away from their nemesis and conquer other planets.  They have just conquered earth and sucked up all the humans relocating them all to Australia.  I suppose if I had been more engaged I wouldn’t have been left asking so many questions about this basic premise.  For example, why do the boov know enough about humans to build houses for every human family, evidently recreate hospitals, schools, and even an amusement park and yet they do not know something like ‘humans live in families and have a Mother and a Father’?

How do the boov know how to run everything in a city like New York and yet are eating paintings, footballs and using a hair dryer for an inhaler? How do they know how to work a power plant and yet the lights are always on?  How are they planning on getting food in this land they have conquered and wouldn’t gathering all of the human race in one place be a really bad idea?  Nothing like 6 billion humans that  have mastered interstellar flight and atomic warfare all together on an island…especially for  a race that is evidently so gun shy?

Also why does Oh drink gasoline, motor oil, eat plastic and yet is disgusted by a blue tablet  and urine from a restroom?  I think that is an attempt to be funny but it doesn’t really make sense so it didn’t make me laugh. It would have been more funny if he had loved the urine and blue tablet.  I mean if we are stooping to that level isn’t that  funnier?

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I know I’m overthinking it but again it just shows how disengaged I was with the story and characters that I started asking these questions.

So our misfit Oh tries to throw a party for his new neighbors but nobody in his race likes him or parties (which again makes me ask how does he even know what a party is? And yet he has a banner, appetizers, the whole works..).

Nobody comes to his party and so he goes outside to try and get people to go but his ‘friend’ doesn’t want to so he sends him an ‘e-vite’ (these aliens still use email and internet just like us) but the email to the party he is currently having goes to the entire galaxy including their sworn enemy, a woefully undeveloped ‘bad guys with spaceship’ called the vrogs I think.

The leaders of the boov’s try to arrest Oh with the captain played by Steve Martin who is actually only in 3 scenes of the movie.

home4But Oh runs off before he can give the boov his password to stop the email. (Always bad in a movie when the entire plot could be resolved by a 3 minute conversation…).  In his running he bumps into a girl named Tipp who was left behind by the human relocation and is trying to find her Mother.  She is far too calm and collected for someone who’s entire race and Mother has been sucked up by aliens. Plus, her car has been hidden by trash.  How did she know to do that? And why hasn’t the trash been sucked up by the unnecessary item balls?  They are sucking up bikes wouldn’t they suck up her car? And would she have been the only human to escape? Wouldn’t it have been more interesting to have had a few that band together with Oh?

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She is voiced by Rhianna and it is a terrible piece of voice casting.  She sounds like a grown woman and I was never exactly sure how old she was supposed to be.  She sounds like a grown up, looks like a child but can drive and yet she talks about getting an A in 8th grade geometry.  At best it is completely bland.

Oh is voiced by Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parson and the two of them are the only characters in the movie for 90% of the film and he isn’t right for the part either.  It just sounds too much like Sheldon which was distracting.  But I have a hard time blaming him because the part was written a lot like Sheldon and didn’t give him much to work with.  He’s socially awkward and oblivious most of the time.  I like Big Bang Theory but I know it has its haters and they will definitely find the voicework very annoying but again I don’t think anything Parsons could have done would have saved the character.

Most of the movie is a road trip story full of road trip movie cliches.  Tipp and Oh must go to Paris to enter the password (I guess no cell phones in this world even though the Boov have these little tablet things) and then to Australia to find Tipp’s Mother voiced by Jennifer Lopez who has maybe 3 lines in the movie.

HOMEThere were about 6 kids in the theater with me and they laughed at a few bits of toilet humor but they seemed squirmy and disengaged.

A lot of people will want to compare this to Lilo and Stitch, a movie that grows on me the more I see it.  Lilo and Stitch is not a perfect film but it is far superior to this mess.  First of all Lilo is a much more complex character than we ever get from Tipp.  She is strange but in interesting ways.  We see her interacting with students and fighting with her sister.  We see her crying and mourning her parents before Stitch is even introduced.

Stitch is also a consistent character.  He is a wild creature and pretty mean throughout, to the point of frustrating me as a viewer.  Here Oh is sometimes smart when the plot needs to be and other times stupid.  He sometimes understands complex words and other times speaks in 2 word phrases. He’s whatever the plot needs him to be which makes it really boring and hard to root for.

I really did not care about Oh or Tipp’s journey because I knew exactly what was going to happen and the movie didn’t give me any reason except for telling us ‘people think I’m strange’… Lilo is pulling heads off of her dolls.  We know she is strange and we are rooting for her because of it.

home 19It’s also a little unclear if the Steve Martin character is intentionally lying to everyone about their enemy and the ‘shush stick’ or if he is just too stupid to know.  If he is lying on purpose than he is a really bad alien and that sense of evil is never laid out at all. I mean this is Darth Vader bad if he is conquering planets and relocating everyone.

The lesson of the story is that ‘everyone makes mistakes’ and that you should ‘run towards your fears’ not away from them (I don’t know if I agree with that last one…).  Again this is usually told to us not actually shown.  Lilo and Stitch conquers weighty themes of family, grief, loss and it does it with the gravitas perhaps only Disney can muster.  Plus, it looks so unique with the watercolors and the Hawaiian feel.  Home looks anything but unique.

A movie like Penguins of Madagascar works because it was funny.  The script was very clever that it could overcome a silly story.  I’m not saying it was a masterpiece but it made me laugh.  Same with Mr Peabody and Sherman.  Home did not make me laugh one time.

home18Like I said at the intro if you take your kids they won’t be miserable.  It’s harmless but I said the same thing for Strange Magic and that movie at least had voicework that made sense.

I’m sorry Dreamworks I want to help you out but I can’t in good conscience give this any higher than the D I gave Strange Magic.  It just doesn’t deserve it.  (This movie has 5 people listed in the voice cast.  Why on earth did it cost $135 million to make? In contrast, Pixar’s Bugs Life with a huge cast cost $120 million!).

The music is by Rihanna and it is nice but feels like it is written for a different movie.  It is dark and solemn when they are just flying across the ocean or walking around.  It’s not nearly fun enough for this kind of movie (think Happy by Pharrell for Despicable ME 2. That made sense.).  The whole Rihanna choice was just wrong all the way around.  What a disappointment and the absolute worst timing for a Dreamworks dud.

If any of you see it let me know what you think.

Overall Grade- D, Content Grade- A

Second Best Marigold Hotel Review

best-exotic-hotel-249911Lately I’ve been very careful about the 2 movies I’ve seen in the theater to make sure I went at a time when the theater would be nearly empty because of my cough.  This was true yesterday as I finally got to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  This is of course a sequel to the original Marigold Hotel in 2012 which introduced us to a whole bunch of great British actors who are finding a new lease on life at a hotel designed for seniors in India.

The-Second-Best-Exotic-Marigold-Hotel-Cast-WallpapersThis amazing cast includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Dev Patel and more.  This sequel adds Richard Gere to the mix and he is one of the most attractive men over 60 I’ve ever seen.  We also get a far too brief appearance from the great David Strathairn.

BEST-EXOTIC-MARIGOLD-HOTELBasically the story is Maggie Smith’s Muriel Donnelly is now working with Dev Patel’s Sonny to run the hotel and they begin in America trying to court investors into financing a second venture.  Maggie Smith is so great. Sometimes I wish we could clone her so that she could be in every movie.  She turns what could be a very trite character into a real person I felt tied too.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015) - Maggie SmithShe’s someone who has no children and yet she has found a place and people where she can literally grow old and leave an impact, be remembered.  As someone who also has no children and is not married I hope I can be so lucky and find a place like the Marigold Hotel when I get older.

The rest of the movie is fairly simple.  Sonny is getting married to the stunning Sunaina played by Tina Desai who is one of the most beautiful actresses I’ve ever seen in a movie. Gorgeous.

exotic hotel3He is stressed trying to purchase a new hotel and be prepared for inspectors who Richard Gere is.

We also get a lovely little back and forth romance between Bill Nighy’s Douglas and Judi Dench’s Evelyn.  It showed that making commitments to each other is not necessarily easier just because you are older.  All the actors elevate the material and make it far more engaging than it has any right to be.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold HotelI could have done with a little less of the silly plot device of a hitman mistakenly ordered between Ronald Pickup’s Norman and Diana Hardcastle’s Carol but the way it ended was sweet and lovely.

The-Second-Best-Exotic-Marigold-Hotel-5We also get to see Celia Imrie go between 2 suitors and get to know the chauffeur on the way. And Lillete Dubey is absolutely elegant and perfect as Dev Patel’s mother who has a relationship with Richard Gere (who can blame her).exotic hotel

I could totally see why you could tear this movie apart.  Is it predictable? Yes.  Is it full of tropes and contrivances? Yes.  Is it travel porn and a completely ridiculous notion of India and growing old? I haven’t experienced either but I suspect, Yes.

Was I completely charmed by it? Yes.

Sometimes all a movie needs to do is get the right group of actors together, play characters I like, that I want to see happy and tell me a conventional story.  Every last person in this movie I liked, I was rooting for.  It’s such a contrast to a movie like The Judge which is equally contrived but full of characters I greatly disliked. Everyone was such a jerk in that movie that I turned it off.

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There’s a place for the dark and brooding characters and stories but not in a light fluffy happy movie about people growing old.  Not in a family drama like The Judge.  Another example would be The Family Stone which gave me one unlikable character after another.  It’s Christmas for goodness sakes, give me someone to root for!

So, I could see the Second Best Marigold Hotel not being your cup of tea.  But if you like pleasant, breezy stories about good people finding happiness than it may be for you.  It’s especially lovely to have a movie with so many older relationships and actors elevating material above the script.

As far as content it is pretty squeaky clean.  There are relationships outside of marriage but nothing is really shown but that’s about it on the objectionable content scale.

It’s the kind of movie I will buy on blu-ray and pop in along with the original which I already own on a bad day when I need a pick me up.  Nothing wrong with that!

Overall Grade- B  Content Grade- A+

5 Favorite Musicals Collab

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I’m very excited to tell you about an exciting collaboration over on my youtube channel.  My friend and fellow youtuber LondonCityTVGirl and I have done a collaboration on our five favorite musicals! It was so hard for me to narrow my list down to my top 5 and I don’t know if it really is my top 5 or just 5 that I like.  I love her 5 choices also.

My Top 5 Musicals

Simantha’s Top 5 Musicals

If you have an account it would be awesome for you to like both of our videos and subscribe to our channels.  You will enjoy both of our content I am sure of that.

What are your favorite musicals?  There were so many I could have picked and I honestly debated it for about a month but I am happy with my list. I would love to hear from you.  Thanks!

District Tag

My friend over at the Lawn Gnome has just posted a neat tag based on the Hunger Games with different movies/books for each of the 13 Districts.  I’m actually not a big Hunger Games fan (yes I know you can all be shocked…) but you don’t really need to be to have fun with this tag.  So, I thought I would bring it over to the blogging world and give you my picks for both movies and books.

First here is his video:

So here is the tag-
District 1 Luxury: Pick a (BOOK/MOVIE) with lots of opulence.

For movie I will pick Citizen Kane based on the life of William Randolph Hearst, one of the richest men in American history.  It’s wildly regarded as the greatest movie ever made and literally every shot can be studied for its lighting, subject matter, cinematography and everything else.

citizen kaneI had a hard time thinking about a book about opulence but decided on Rebecca by  Daphne Du Maurier.  In it a girl falls in love with a rich mysterious man and when she marries him she becomes the new head of an equally mysterious large grand mansion

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District 2 Masonry/ weaponry: pick a (BOOK/MOVIE)with a great war or conflict.

There are a lot of good war movies but I’m going to go with a recent great movie, American Sniper. In Sniper I felt like I was down with the marines going house to house looking for people.  It was a totally different kind of war than I have ever seen before and I was really moved by it.

APphoto_Film Review American SniperAs far as books about war in thinking about it I realized most of the books I have read about war are about prisoners or civilians during a war.  As far as actual battle, soldier books the one that came to mind is Shiloh by Shelby Foote. Some people would probably find this book boring because it methodically takes you through one single battle in the Civil War that in Foote’s opinion changed everything.  It isn’t the Antietam or Gettysburg that we know more about but the Battle of Shiloh.  It’s fascinating, gripping, tragic and will make you feel immersed in history like few other books.

shiloh

District 3 Technology: Pick a(BOOK/MOVIE) with a technological twist.

A movie with a technological twist I will go with Gattaca.  A science fiction film with tremendous heart and great performances about a society who has created genetically perfect people known as valids who are considered superior to traditionally conceived people who are invalids.  Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law are great in it.

gattacaI’m going to give a little shout out to The Giver by Lois Lowry which is such a moving book that turned into a rather pedestrian movie. Kind of like Gattaca a perfect society has been created where all the best choices have been determined and diversity in the slightest is eliminated. People’s senses are lulled except for a man named The Giver who knows all that has been forgotten about human experience.  Jonas, our hero, becomes the apprentice to the Giver and as he see’s the world in a whole new way it makes you think about your own world and the choices you have made.  Great book.

giverDistrict 4 Fishing: Pick a water based (BOOK/MOVIE)

I love to swim so movies in and around water are some of my favorites.  Since you all know I love Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid and Song of the Sea let me dive a little deeper (excuse the pun…) and pick something more obscure.  I love the little British movie On a Clear Day about a man who decides he is stuck in his life and is going to swim the English Channel.  As an open water swimmer I relate to his story but on a slightly smaller scale

on a clear dayFor my swimming books I will do another obscure read that I think would make a great movie- The Great Swim by Gavin Mortimer.  This tells the true story of Gertrude Ederle, Mille Gade, Lillian Cannon, and Clarabelle Barrette who were the first women to swim the English Channel.  It is fascinating for the stories of the 4 women, their personalities and histories, but also the differences in the press and celebrity then and now. A great read! great swim
District 5 Electricity: Pick a powerful (BOOK/MOVIE) .

The first film that came to my mind when I thought of powerful movies is Hoop Dreams.  This is an amazing documentary by Steve James where he follows the lives of 2 inner city boys who dream of becoming professional basketball players.  It is heart wrenching and it goes places fiction couldn’t go.  It’s so profound about how our dreams are our inspiration and also our undoing at times.  It’s about everything that makes up a life. It’s without question one of the best movies ever made.

Hoop_dreamsposterOne of the most powerful books I’ve ever read is The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.  It tells the true story of Dutch old maid Corrie and her sister Betsie who are sent to Auschwitz for hiding Jews from the Nazis.   Her sister is unflappable in her determination to be grateful and positive in the absolute worst of situations while Corrie is a bit more of a realist, a little more sarcastic.  In the end her message of courage, faith and forgiveness is one I will never forget.

hiding place
District 6 Transportation: Pick a(BOOK/MOVIE) that takes place in many locations.

A movie that takes place in many locations I will go with the movie that has a map showing the characters zip around the globe- Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Just in the first few minutes he goes from Boston, to Nepal, to Cairo.

raidersThere are a lot of travel narratives I love so I could have picked any of those but I will pick Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose about the Lewis and Clarke expedition. Kind of like Shiloh, Undaunted Courage is a historical narrative without any fiction.  Just the history but it is gripping, well researched and gives you a new appreciation for America in its raw form.

undaunted courage

District 7 Lumber: Pick a(BOOK/MOVIE) with manual labor.

This isn’t farming but if you consider cooking manual labor then I love Babette’s Feast. It’s a Danish film about a woman who is a refuge and is welcomed in by 2 women and their friends who abstain from luxuries and eat very bland food.  She wins the lottery and gets a chance to cook the way she has dreamed of. It’s a beautiful movie about work and how when we find out what we are supposed to contribute to the world that is when we are really fulfilled even if it is just cooking one meal.

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I could have picked Grapes of Wrath for my movie as well but thought I’d have a little variety.  Nobody does a setting like John Steinbeck.  You can feel the dust and sun pounding down on the Joads family.  It is a book that is depressing in a way but it is also very unpredictable with a complicated notion of right and wrong and characters who wish they could work more than the land allows them too

grapes of wrath
District 8 Textiles: Pick a(BOOK/MOVIE) with amazing clothes!

The movie with amazing clothes I thought of is  Anna Karenina with Oscar winning costumes by Jacqueline Durran. The entire visual style of this movie is so inventive and different.  Joe Wright with his amazing cast and production values elevate it beyond the typical costume drama.  A lot of that goes back to the amazing costumes.

anna karreninaThe best book about clothes I am going to go with Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisenberg (I love the movie too) which is a great book/movie about work. Andy must learn to work with the devilish Miranda Priestly.  It’s a story about what you will sacrifice for work and how little choices bit by bit you can lose your soul to the office.  It’s also very funny with a lot of satire about the fashion world and everything else.

The_Devil_Wears_Prada_coverDistrict 9 Grain: Pick a(BOOK/MOVIE) where food is hard to come by.

Interestellar is a really good choice but since The Lawn Gnome chose that I am going to go with Cast Away. Tom Hanks is brilliant as the man who is shipwrecked on an island and must learn to survive.  When he gets fire it is a triumphant moment and the depth of feeling we get for a volleyball is profound. The film is weakened when he returns back to civilization and becomes more trite but the hungry part is great.

cast awayI couldn’t really think of a good hunger book so I will go with the oldest of standby’s The Bible.  When the Children of Israel are starving and God sends them manna in the wilderness which was sweet as milk and honey.  This kept them alive for 40 years but only if used within the guidelines set out by God.  If those rules were broken it became rotten and bug infested.  A great reminder that God will bless us if we are obedient and seek to follow Him.

mannaDistrict 10 Livestock: Pick a(BOOK/MOVIE) with an animal in it.

Got to go with Babe, one of the best family movies ever made IMO.  A sweet simple story with real heart and humor about the pig that wants to be a sheepdog.

babeFor books I will pick Black Beauty by Anna Sewell which is a simple book about a horse’s life as he passes from one master to another.  Some are cruel, some kind but always engrossing. She really does pack a ton of story into the life of a horse.

black beauty
District 11 Agriculture: Pick a(BOOK/MOVIE) where a character comes to a harsh gritty reality.

I will say Les Miserables. Fantine realizes the lowliness she will stoop in order to save her daughter. It is only a last gesture by a kind man that saves her story from being 100% tragic but it is a harsh gritty reality for sure.

fantine

For a book I will go with a play, A Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.  It’s a gut wrenching story of a man who realizes his life is a failure, his son is mediocre and it is his fault.  I normally don’t like downers but since it is a brief play and its characters are so vivid I have always been drawn to it.  I love movies, books, plays about work and this is certainly one of the most sobering. I guess you could call it a cautionary tale. DeathOfASalesmanDistrict 12 Mining: Pick a dark and sinister(BOOK/MOVIE) !

Well there aren’t many dark and sinister movies I like as you all know. There’s a few ghost stories I like and some funny scary movies like Ghostbusters but all of those have a certain lightness about them.  Maybe since I haven’t talked about it yet on the blog I will go with Strangers on a Train.  It’s a Hitchcock about two men who decide to murder for the other person.  It’s creepy and weird and one of his less well known films.

strangers on a trainAs few dark and creepy movies I like, there are even fewer books.  I could pick the old Grimm’s Fairytales but I will pick a very creepy scary children’s book called Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace about a girl who is orphaned and sent to live at the home she remembers fondly of her aunt and uncle.  Now it is a strange home for the elderly but everyone is controlled by the evil Mrs.Meeching.  Any of you read it?

peppermints in parlor

I forgot about District 13 which is appropriate because it’s The Forgotten District: Pick a(BOOK/MOVIE) that’s “under ground” that not many people know about.

I will go with a film I bet none of you have heard of it is Lili starring Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrar. It is a lovely story about a girl who can’t seem to relate to anyone except for some puppets but she forgets the man behind the puppets a brooding ex-dancer who lost his moment in the spotlight. It’s got stunning dance sequences, Caron is at her best, Oscar winning music and a surrealist art direction.

liliAs far as underrated books there are a lot but I love a little book called The Delicacy and Strength of Lace by James Wright and Leslie Marmon Silko.  It is the correspondence between these two poets as they became friends through writing to each other.  I love letter writing and love poetry so it is the hat trick of things Rachel likes.  I also love that it isn’t romantic but merely a friendship over words.  It’s out of print but if you can find a lovely little read.

delicacy

Because he does both book and movie reviews I am going to tag Richard at https://velociraptor256.wordpress.com/.

Another blogger with an eclectic blog I will tag is the POMAD https://pomadness.wordpress.com/

And finally my book club leader and fabulous book blogger who also occasionally blogs about movies Suey’s Books. http://sueysbooks.blogspot.com/

If you are tagged you can pick both or just do books or movies.  Have fun!

And anyone else who wants to do it go for it!

AMC Animation March Madness

Over at AMC Movie News they are doing a fun project in honor of March Madness which is a college basketball bracket tournament but in this case it is Animation Madness!  They have selected 32 animated films and you have the chance to vote on different pairings at their website

Here John Campea and the team debate the value of different movies and what their picks would be.  I especially liked when all the girls started singing Little Mermaid (I would have done the same).  Some of the pairings are unfortunate as films would go a little farther if not initially up against such strong competition.  But here’s what they have to say.

I watched Akira tonight so I have seen all of the films in the bracket and they are all worthwhile although I would have made a few changes but there isn’t a bad film in the bracket IMO.  So I have filled out my bracket with their 32 and I also created a bracket with my own 32 films.  The interesting is that despite being very different I ended up with the same final 4, 2 and winner on both!  I guess my favorite animated movies are Up, Little Mermaid, Spirited Away and Fantasia however you shake it.

AMC Bracket-

amc bracket2

My Best 32 Bracket

my bracket
My top 32 Bracket

It would be fun if a bunch of my fellow bloggers put up their own brackets.  You might be surprised with how things work out.  Brackets are different than making a list because you are thinking about 2 movies at a time instead of an overall top 10.  Anyway, it’s all in fun so go and vote for your favorites and share your brackets.

Happy Bracketing!