Before heading to Disney World and the new Be Our Guest restaurant, I revisited this classic from my childhood. Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination. The Oscars for Best Original Song (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Best Score (the talented Alan Menken and Howard Ashman) come as no surprise as you listen to the enchanting music throughout the film. The story is engaging, the characters endearing (how can you not love a girl who is thrilled by books and libraries?), and the movie simply magical. Roger Ebert was equally enthralled. Check out his review. And something else to look forward to – Beauty and the Beast will be here live on stage in late March as part of Broadway in Chicago.
Scrooged loosely follows the storyline of the classic Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol. Bill Murray’s comic sarcasm and a romance between Frank Cross (the Scrooge character played by Murray) and old flame Claire (played by Karen Allen) expand on the original theme. The four ghosts are not lost amongst the modern tale of a selfish, greedy TV executive who learns his lesson the hard way during the holiday season. It was interesting watching this movie from a twenty first century perspective, as Christmas 1988 is already Christmas Past for us.
This 2013 retelling of the origin of Superman is superb. Man of Steel stars Henry Cavill as Superman and Clark Kent, and he is outstanding. Amy Adams gives a fine performance as Lois Lane. If you are looking for action, there is plenty of it. And the special effects should get at least an Oscar nomination if not a win. The chief villain is General Zod (Michael Shannon), and he is a great nemesis. The battles between General Zod and Superman are titanic. Kal-El’s father Jor-El is played by Russell Crowe, and he gives a very solid performance. For those of you who’ve forgotten, Kal-El is Superman’s Kryptonian name. The movie, although a little dark at times, is a lot of fun.
Did you ever wonder what Paris was like in the 1920s? Here is your chance. Owen Wilson is visiting Paris with his fiancé and her family. He is a writer with writer’s block. One evening he decides to take a walk to clear his mind. When a limo pulls up and the passengers offer him a ride, he accepts. This is the start of his adventure and a chance to go back to the Paris of the 1920s. Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein and Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali welcome him into their world. When Owen’s fiancé and her family become suspicious of his disappearing every night, they hire a detective. The results lead one to believe this may or may not be a dream. Midnight in Paris is one of Woody Allen’s best. The acting is great and the literary characters are true to life.
Snow White and the Huntsman is a new take on an old tale. After the wicked witch Ravenna (Charlize Theron) marries and then murders her father (the king), Snow White (Kristen Stewart) must escape the only home she’s ever known to try and find the remnants of her father’s supporters in order to win back the throne. Ravenna sends a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track Snow down in the haunted forest as war looms on the horizon. This movie had great action scenes and both Theron and Stewart gave excellent performances. Snow White and the Huntsman is an updated, action-filled version of the classic Disney movie which focuses less on romance and more on magic and war.
Discover how “Oz” came to be in Oz: The Great and Powerful. James Franco stars as Oz, a magician caught in a power struggle between three witches (Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, and Rachel Weisz). For all things Oz, also check out the original movie The Wizard of Oz (1939) or the novel of the same name by L. Frank Baum.
This fantasy film starring Maggie Smith is the story of a thirteen-year-old boy named Tolly staying with his grandmother in the country in 1940s England. Grandmother lives in a very old house built during the time of the Normans. While living there, young Tolly travels back to the time of Napoleon and meets some distant ancestors. This film was adapted from the second of the Green Knowe books by Lucy M. Boston, The Chimneys of Green Knowe (released in the US as Treasure of Green Knowe). From what I have read, most people are enchanted by the movie with the exception of those who have read the book before seeing the film. Since I had not read the books, I too loved the film, but I have to agree that the film could have been much better if it had stuck closer to the book. Nevertheless I still recommend seeing From Time to Time. Although the books were written for children, if you like things British, you will thoroughly enjoy them.
Vampires have always existed in the shadows of Bon Temps, Louisiana, but with the invention of the artificial blood product “True Blood,” vampires have come out into the open. Some residents welcome them, like heroine Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), but others need a little persuading. As so often happens when vampires are around, other supernatural creatures make appearances as well. Be prepared for great characters, violence, gratuitous nudity, goofy humor, and a touching love story in seasons 1 and 2 of True Blood. Seasons 3 and 4 are also available on DVD. Based on the novels by Charlaine Harris.
I hadn’t seen Edward Scissorhands in about 20 years, but after seeing the previews for Dark Shadows, I decided to revisit the first collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. And I’m glad I did. Edward Scissorhands is a good movie and a classic filled with funny moments. Costarring Winona Ryder. For more on Tim Burton, check Sally's spotlight of the director.
This is a Woody Allen film, but because he is not in the cast I put it in the DVD player and settled in. It was a delightful fantasy about Paris in the 1920s. There was nothing to dislike about it; it was a pleasure to watch. Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) are sort of in love, and in Paris with her parents. Gil is caught up in the romance of Paris in the springtime. A screenwriter from Hollywood, he has written a novel with visions of joining the ranks of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the other legends of Paris in the 1920s – the perfect set up for what follows. The film is not without a serious moment. It has a message that is purposely delivered at the end; it’s an illusion that a life different from the one we have would be much better. Did you participate in the 2012 Big Read? We read Paula McLain's The Paris Wife. For more on the book and its related resources featuring Paris in the 1920s, visit thebigread.org. Pick up a copy of Midnight in Paris from the library.