Wednesday, December 28, 2016

And now Debbie Reynolds

My heart grieves so much for their family.  Crying all over again.  She was also an important figure in my early life, in a different way from her daughter but right now, I just don't even know what to say or how to express that.  Rest in peace, Debbie Reynolds.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

R.I.P. Carrie Fisher

Crying as I write this.  I knew it was coming after the news of her heart attack before Christmas, but knowing that, anticipating that finality, somehow didn't lessen the blow of truly losing her.  I've talked before about how important and life-impacting Star Wars was to me (and my family) in 1977, and how the universe and films continued to shape and fill my life after that.  Princess Leia has been a huge part of that.  If anything, I loved her more in Force Awakens than I had in the original trilogy.  I'd follow Princess Leia into any battle for the Rebellion, anywhere, anytime.  As Max Von Sydow's character said in Force Awakens, "To me, she's royalty."

This is a very sad day.

Rest in Peace.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas to all.  May you stay warm and safe today, and celebrate the holiday with your loved ones.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Rio Lobo (1970)


While I grew up with John Wayne Westerns, we only had a handful that we watched all the time:  The Comancheros, The Sons of Katie Elder, Big Jake, The Alamo, The Horse Soldiers, and Rio Lobo were the main six.  There were others, of course, but they were watched infrequently compared to these. 

Since I was young and non-discerning, I loved Rio Lobo pretty much unreservedly back then.  (Okay, let's be honest.  Mostly, I had a huge crush on Jorge Rivero, I was heartily amused by Jack Elam, and I loved the Jerry Goldsmith score. Nothing else mattered past those three things.)  Then I grew up.  Sigh.  Then I discovered Rio Lobo is really a mixed bag.  When it's good, it's good, when it's bad, it's really bad.

Let's get the bad out of the way:  Jennifer O'Neill as Shasta.  Egads.  She single-handedly drags every scene she's in down to sheer fingers-on-chalkboard awfulness.  Shasta ranks as one of the worst movie characters ever, and I just cringe every time she opens her mouth.  She's supposed to be an I-can-take-care-of-myself character, but she just sounds horribly whiny throughout.  Now, O'Neill sure was pretty, but she can't act worth a bean at this very early stage in her career (I haven't really seen anything of hers when she's older, so I'm optimistically assuming that she improved with experience).  Sherry Lansing as Amelita is not really any better.  Susana Dosamantes as Maria is the only one of the ladies in this movie I don't mind. She fits into the movie as Tuscarora's girlfriend, and she never stands out as blatantly out of place.

If Shasta and Amelita were actually important to the plot, I might feel differently.  But if they vanished from the movie, the plot would be the same.  No, it would be way better.  One hates to say that about female characters, but these pretty much have no bearing on anything except to look pretty.

What is the plot?  The first half hour of the movie takes place during the end of the Civil War.  A band of Confederates has been stealing gold payroll shipments from the Yankees.  They clearly have inside information telling them when and where, and John Wayne, as Colonel Cord McNally, is trying to find out who on his side is selling the information to the South.  As the war is still going, the Confederates won't tell him anything, but once the war ends, Capt. Pierre Cordona (Jorge Rivero) and Tuscarora (Chris Mitchum) freely tell McNally what he wants to know, although they don't actually know the identity of the traitor.

The movie then shifts from the war to Texas and becomes a straight Western.  Cordona and McNally head to Rio Lobo to help Tuscarora and his father (a scene-stealing Jack Elam) from some nasty fellows who have taken over the town and are buying up all the land thereabouts for a quarter of what any of its worth.  The head bad guy is revealed to be the traitor McNally's been seeking, which ties the segments together.  There's a showdown, prisoner exchange, bad guys are killed, everything is set right, the end.

The plot is nothing new, and this movie is actually Howard Hawks' second remake of Rio Bravo!  (El Dorado is the other one.)  Perhaps this is why the best part of Rio Lobo is the first thirty five minutes, because it's nothing like the other two movies.

That beginning has always been the best part of the movie.  The spectacular, clever train robbery, McNally chasing after the thieves, getting captured, leading them into a trap...  None of the stuff that drags this movie down (*cough* Shasta *cough*) have shown up yet.  We're introduced to Capt. Cordona and Tuscarora, and I always loved how respectfully both sides treat each other.  Their friendship in the rest of the movie begins here, with that respect for each other as soldiers.  McNally's even willing to let Cordona and Tuscarora go if they give him the name of the traitor, but he also understands when they won't.  I love how he immediately comes to see them after the war ends, buys them a drink, and gives Tuscarora money enough to get home.

What else is good?  Any time Jack Elam is around.  He is flat-out hilarious and gets all the great dialogue.  He and John Wayne play off each other like the pros they are, and with a great deal of enthusiasm and fun. Whenever they're together, it is both delightful, and, unfortunately, you also realize how bad everyone else is.  This was the first thing I saw Mr. Elam in, so I still always think of him as a good guy, even though he's really played some very nasty characters in his time.

And I love the Jerry Goldsmith score, of course.  As usual with him, the quality of the music far exceeds the movie.  This was a score I loved so much I taped the music cues I liked off television so I could listen to them in my walkman.  Music for me is so critical to whether I like a movie and want to revisit it, that this score alone elevates this movie far above many other technically better movies.

I'm also quite fond of Chris Mitchum, mostly because I love him in Big Jake.  He always seems such a good-natured young fellow in these two movies.  Victor French as traitor Ketchum/Sgt. Major Gorman cracks me up.  He's so panicky and worried after he gets captured.  And Mike Henry as Hendricks (the real bad guy of the movie) is average but suitably nasty for the role.

And then there's Jorge Rivero.  My adult self realizes he's not great in this either, but neither is he a train wreck like O'Neill.  I remember reading ages ago that he spoke little English when he made this, so his weak dialogue delivery might just be due to not understanding the language well enough.  My younger self didn't care at all that he wasn't great.  She just really liked the handsome, broad-shouldered, athletic, half Mexican/half French character of Captain Pierre Cordona.  ("Yeah, well which half was kneeling and which half was kissing her hand?")  My favorite scene in the movie is still when he gets captured on the road.

Re-watching this film as an adult, though, I find I mostly appreciate John Wayne.  He's got the sheer power, charisma, and professionalism to carry a movie filled with not-so-great actors.  He's the true highlight of this movie because he doesn't act like he's in a lesser movie that's beneath him.  He doesn't phone it in.  You can't tell he's not in the best health.  He just gives it his all, as he's always done.  He plays McNally honestly and with strength and humor and dignity, even when he has to share scenes with Jennifer O'Neill.  And I love John Wayne for that.  And watching a lesser movie like this one with John Wayne is still far more enjoyable to me than watching many other better films that don't have him in it.

In conclusion, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this movie.  However, if you asked me on any random night if I wanted to watch Rio Bravo, El Dorado, or Rio Lobo, I'm afraid I'd still have to pick Rio Lobo over its two superior predecessors.  I've seen Rio Lobo so many times, it's become a bit of a comfort movie for me.  This movie was such an influential part of my youth, and so I will always have a fond place for it in my heart (besides, nowadays we have fast-forward buttons and I can skip through the worst of Jennifer O'Neill).  Plus, I'm afraid Goldsmith trumps Dimitri Tiomkin and Nelson Riddle, and I'll pick the movie with my favorite music every single time.

This post is an entry in Hamlette and Quiggy's John Wayne Blogathon.  Head on over to either page for a list of participating blogs and what topic/movies are being covered.  Hamlette is also hosting a giveaway!  Thanks to them both for hosting and letting me join in the fun!

Friday, December 09, 2016

December 9th birthdays

December 9th has always been one of my favorite days of the year, because it is the day two of my favorite actors -- Kirk Douglas and John Cassavetes -- celebrate their birthdays.  Both actors were so influential on my early life.  And while we sadly lost John Cassavetes a long time ago, Kirk Douglas is still going strong.  Today marks his 100th birthday!  How amazingly awesome is that?  I've been listening to the Lonely are the Brave (Jerry Goldsmith) and The Dirty Dozen (Frank De Vol) scores to celebrate, although it's the theme from Saddle the Wind that keeps popping in my head today.

Happy 100th birthday, Mr. Douglas!

Friday, November 25, 2016

A period drama tag

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Hope you all had a good time with loved ones and great food.

Hamlette tagged me for this one

1.  What's your favorite period drama movie?
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954).

2.  What's your favorite period drama series?
Mini-series?  Or television?  If mini-series, Shogun still wins hands down.  If television, then I'm going with Lonesome Dove: the Outlaw Years.  Love the characters oh so much, and some of those eps were so darned well-written.

3.  Which period drama do you dislike the most?
Hm.  I have no idea.  Okay, how about the 3:10 to Yuma 2007 remake.  I loathed that movie.

4. Anne of Green Gables or Little Dorrit?
I have not seen either, so neither.

5. Your favorite period drama dresses?
All of Kate Winslet's dresses in Titanic
Deborah Kerr's ballgown in The King and I
Mitzi Gaynor's party dress in South Pacific

6. Who's your favorite period drama character? (Okay, pick at least five)
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford)
Wyatt Earp (Kevin Costner in Wyatt Earp)
Victoriano Ramirez (Oscar Isaac in For Greater Glory)
Steve Judd (Joel McCrea in Ride the High Country)
Tom Builder (Rufus Sewell in Pillars of the Earth)
George Stone (Andy Garcia in The Untouchables)

(Come on, Rufus, get with the hat-wearing program!)

7. If you could join a royal ball, which dress would you wear? (pick a period drama dress)
Ann Miller's dress from Easter Parade!  The movie was made in 1948, but was set in 1912, and while maybe not entirely a drama... I'm counting it because I've always wanted this dress.  And we already know it's perfect for dancing in!

8. What's your favorite Jane Austen movie?
Sense and Sensibility (1995)So far, this appears to be the only Jane Austen movie/story I genuinely like the characters in, and I love the actors in this one.

9. Downton Abbey or Call the Midwife?
Have not watched either.

10. Sybil Crawley, Jenny Lee, Emma Woodhousee, or Marian of Knighton?
I have no idea who Jenny Lee is, do not like Emma nor that particular version of Marian, and, even though I haven't watched Downton Abbey, since Sybil Crawley is played by Jessica Brown Findlay and I dig her from Winter's Tale, I'm picking her by default!

11. Which couples in a period drama do you like the most?
Indy/Marion (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
John Thornton/Margaret Hale (North & South)
Tristan/Isobel (Legends of the Fall)
The Raisuli/Mrs. Pedecaris (The Wind and the Lion)
Blackthorne/Mariko (Shogun)

12. And last, which period drama villain do you like the most?
Since we got to list more than one favorite character, I'm doing the same here:
Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman, Raiders of the Lost Ark)
Messala (Stephen Boyd, Ben-Hur)
John Fain (Richard Boone, Big Jake)

Sunday, November 06, 2016

November already??

I've been on vacation up in the Eastern Sierra this last week.  Other than the fact that I was beset by a stomach bug, it was a great trip.  I got to take Silver with me this time, and that made it super fun.  There's nothing quite like introducing your dog to some new country that he was born for.   Not to mention, hiking at high altitude helps wear him out. :-D  His favorite parts were the meadow trail at the back end of Convict Lake, any time he could splash in any lake or stream, playing in (and eating) snow, and meeting a couple of horses.  My favorite parts were all the hiking, spending time with my parents and my dog, ignoring the internet.

Silver was extremely well-behaved at my parents' house, so they're fine with me bringing him any time I come up.  That is great news for me as I can now visit them more often.

Only bad part is vacation is now over, and it's back to work tomorrow.  Not to mention, it was in the 80's here yesterday when I got home.  Ugh.  I miss the cold weather.

The Sierra above South Lake.
Silver discovers snow.
Silver waiting for his new buddies.
These horses weren't interested in me at all, they just wanted to say hi to Silver.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Desert Island Questions

So, here are my answers to Kate Gabrielle's desert island themed questions, (originally from a Liebster award post). These were so much fun I couldn't resist answering them!

1. If you were stuck on a desert island with one actor, who would you pick?
Hugh Jackman.  I actually cycled through quite a few actors in my head before settling in on Mr. Jackman, because he seems to be the exactly the kind of personality I'd want with me if stuck on an island. 

2. If you were stuck on a desert island with one actress, who would you pick? (Note - this is not necessarily your favorite actor/actress, but someone you'd want to spend months, years, possibly the rest of your life eating coconuts and building sandcastles with)
Barbara Stanwyck, because she's smart, resourceful, and I'd never tire of talking with her. 

3. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only watch one movie on repeat for the rest of your life, which would you pick?

Aliens (1986) or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).  Either one.  Wouldn't matter.  They're two of the few movies that do not require me to be in a specific mood to watch them, and they never get old, and most importantly, they aren't worn out.

4. If you were stuck on a desert island with any movie character, who would you pick?
Alan Grant, from Jurassic Park.

5. If you could watch a movie with any two actors/actresses stuck on a desert island together, who would you pick? If you've got some free time, elaborate a bit on the plot!
I'm not fond of survival-themed movies, in fact they rank up with horror and mysteries as my least favorite genres.  So this would have to be a desert island movie with a different type of plot.  Since this is me, it's going to have to be action/adventure oriented.  And I'd make it fantasy or sci-fi, because who wants the real world?  Let's go with fantasy, cuz then there can be magic and treasure and maybe a dragon and a volcano, of course.  There must be a volcano.  And... and... and...

Okay, really, I got nothing.  Seriously.  I've been stuck on this One Question for like FOUR months now, because I can't come up with a darn thing.  My brain goes to Hell in the Pacific, or Mysterious Island (bring on the giant bees!) or the Crusoe television series (which, do I file on the shelf under my Sean Bean DVDs or my Sam Neill DVDs??  This is a problem, people, a problem! (though, in case you were wondering, it's in the Sam Neill section, because he has the bigger role in the show, and my heart will always belong to him first, but that doesn't mean it still wasn't a problem!))...

And... where was I?  Oh yeah, I keep thinking of desert island movies already made and my brain gets stuck there. 

So, I'm completely cheating on this one and stealing my sister's answer. (I tend to always ask her these type tag questions while she's out and about to keep her (and me) entertained.)  She said she wanted to see a movie with Gary Sinise and William Shatner on a desert island, and I think that's a blooming brilliant combo.  I'd pay real money to see that. 

6. Who is the last actor you would ever want to be stuck on a desert island with (cough, Tyrone Power, cough)? The utterly, teeth-gratingly annoying Big Bang Theory guy who plays Sheldon.  I don't even remember his name and can't be arsed to look it up.  The way he talks, I wouldn't survive one hour with him, let alone indefinitely.

7. You're stuck on a desert island with Edmund O'Brien. What actor shows up in a giant pirate ship to whisk you away to safety and/or a life of adventure on the high seas?
Richard Armitage!  (Of course, I wouldn't necessarily mind being stuck on an island with Edmund O'Brien, either.  There are far worse fates, see question 6... LOL.)

8. If you were stuck on a desert island with a movie cook, who would you choose -- Felix from Christmas in Connecticut or Mildred from Mildred Pierce? Who would make the most out of all the coconuts and tree bark?
Felix, most definitely.  Felix is amazing and wonderful and sweet.

9. If you were stuck on a desert island with me, what movie would you force me to watch? I can't get away! I can't escape! I HAVE TO WATCH IT!
Hm. I would have picked Kiss Me Deadly, but Millie took care of that for me! So I'm going to say that Alain Delon movie you posted about, cuz I really want to see it and you could share it with me. (Really, this is just an excuse to re-post this picture...)

10. You're on a life raft with Herbert Marshall, Joel McCrea and Laraine Day but your weight is sinking the raft. Do you: a) sacrifice yourself to save these three amazing actors or b) push one of them into the water. If you chose b, who did you push and why?!
I don't see why we can't alternate who's in the water so we can all hang on a little longer.  At least until the sharks come.  Well, then... I guess it's just farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies.

11. If you could choose any movie animal to be stuck on an island with, who would you pick? Some ideas -- Asta, Lassie, Pongo, Perdita, The Pie, Cat (from Breakfast at Tiffany's)

Pascal, from Tangled.  Mostly because I wouldn't have to worry about feeding him like I would a dog or larger animal. Having to worry that an animal might starve to death would be unbearable. There are lots of insects on an island so no worries about him, and Pascal is smarter than he looks.

So, there you have it.  Much delayed, much thought about... but finally posted.  Please feel free to grab these questions and post your own answers, as I'd love to see some what other people pick!  Hamlette's answers are over here, if you'd like to read some more fun answers about with desert islands and movies!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October update

In just a few days, Silver will be 9 months old.  Man, where did time go??  He's nearing 50 lbs now and still has some growing to do.  We walk about 4 miles a day, closer to 6 on the weekends when I've got more time, and he still has energy left over.  Of course, that's the nature of owning a Husky.  They are high-energy dogs and if you don't want them wrecking your home out of boredom, you wear them out.  Or wear yourself out, as the case may be.  LOL!

He is really good most of the time.  He's gotten into mischief only a couple times when I've left him alone for more than a few hours.  We'll see how he does this Saturday, as it's time for the Met's HD broadcast of Don Giovanni, with my favorite baritone, Simon Keenlyside.  Not missing that!  Don Giovanni ain't short, particularly with the drive to the theater on either side.  I plan on taking him hiking first thing in the morning, see if he just zonks out peacefully for those hours.

He still wants to be a lapdog if given a chance.
Beautifully fluffy and clean after his first professional grooming.
At our favorite lake where we go on weekends to hike.  He splashes through the water, eats lake weed, and generally has a rip-roaring good time.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Hamlette’s been bugging me to post this, though I’m not sure why, when you could go read Millie’s review!  Seriously, go read her review if you want a far better summary, and one that gives a really neat comparison to the original.

Anyway, for my viewing, I was pleasantly surprised and came out of the movie theater liking it a lot, and also looking for my horse so I could go ride off and fight bad guys.  I drove home a little faster than necessary, cornering a bit swiftly... and that is ALWAYS a good sign that I enjoyed an action movie.  An action movie that doesn't rev me up is a failure in my book.  This one succeeded.

You can probably chalk this enjoyment up to a couple important things.  One -- I had very low expectations going in, and, as I’ve long since learned, my expectations will totally dominate my first viewing.  (Which is why I like to see things twice.)  If I go in with high expectations, odds are I’ll be disappointed.  If I go in expecting the worst, I’ll usually come out liking it.  And I hated the trailer for this movie.  I only ever saw one trailer, and it had some sort of rock music over it, and it was miserable.  Nothing about the movie looked good in that trailer.  I almost didn’t see the movie because of how much I didn’t like that trailer.  I’m glad I ignored that inclination! 

The second very important thing was that I did not spend the movie comparing it to the original while viewing it.  I didn’t even think about the original at all until the crappy tacked on ending with the voice-over that mentioned the word “magnificent.”  Then, I rolled my eyes.  Because what made the original Magnificent Seven characters magnificent was that they went back.  They had no reason to, they could have ridden away, but they didn’t.  They rode back to the village, for no reward, no money, because they wanted to.  Because there are more important things than money.  There’s nothing like that in the new movie.  In the new movie, they’re hired, they fight, they die/live, and it’s over.  They’re still under hire in that final fight, they never leave and come back.  And that fact keeps the original safely intact in its greatness.

However, taken on its own merits, as a movie about seven guys hired to help a town against the psycho who runs the town, this movie was a lot of fun.  The movie flew by and was over before I was ready to leave that world.  I got swept up in the characters and their issues, and my mind just didn't stray to the old movie.

What worked the best for me here was the characters.  I was surprised how much I liked all of them.  When Chris Pratt is playing my least favorite of the seven, that’s saying something.  (Although, honestly, I think I love the concept of Chris Pratt, more than the actuality of him, if that makes any sense whatsoever.  Or perhaps, I simply like the actor more than his characters.  He seems so nice, and he’s so cute and likeable and cool, and I keep thinking that, therefore, I will like him in his movies, but for some unknown reason I haven’t really bonded with him in anything I’ve seen him in.  Jurassic World came closest, except the velociraptors stole the movie, and so... not so much.  I mean the dinosaurs did not steal the original movie from Sam Neill, and they were amazing, so I apparently just have a disconnect with Chris Pratt.  On the other hand, Blue and her compadres are so awesome, they might very well have stolen the movie from anyone they played with, so it may just have been Pratt’s luck to be stuck with scene-stealing dinosaurs).

But the characters here are all distinct and all fun.  I liked them all.  Denzel... well Denzel is Denzel and can do no wrong.  His Chisolm hits all the notes I wanted the leader of this group to hit.  I'd hire him if I needed help, that's for sure.  Ethan Hawke and Byung-hun Lee kill it as unlikely but awesome friends.  They are amazing (separately and together), and every minute they were on screen was a joy.  Vincent D’Onofrio is amusing and unexpectedly sweet as Jack Horne.  Martin Sensmeier doesn’t have much to do, but Red Harvest was still intriguing and had more personality than some characters I’ve seen in movies who had a lot more dialogue.  Chris Pratt’s Faraday was funny and likeable, even if I didn't bond with him.  And my favorite character was Vasquez, played by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo.  Loved him muchly, and you can believe I’ll be looking out for his next movies.

And when there are characters I love that much, not much else matters, and anything else is bonus.  Like the scenery, which avoided the typical dry arid look of so many Westerns and gave this movie a unique location that I really appreciated.  (It was filmed in Baton Rouge, I understand.)  I love seeing greens in Westerns, and not just varying shades of brown.

I was worried from the trailer that it was simply trying to be bigger and badder than the original for the sake of outdoing it alone, but that wasn’t how it played out at all.  The bad guy they set up in this movie (Peter Sarsgaard) WOULD hire an army.  He would bring a gatling gun.  I had none of the plot issues I expected to have extrapolating off what that crappy trailer had showed me.  (I used to love trailers, but more and more these days, trailers are undercutting movies for me, not supporting them.  I think I may just start ignoring them entirely before they give me a rash.)

As for the score, most of it is surprisingly dreary and unmemorable with a few bursts of melody and energy and scattered Horner moments.  And that is just unfortunate.  Horner himself composed some dreary music, (I’m thinking of last half of Beautiful Mind album), BUT it’s still emotional, it’s still got its melodies, it’s still got that gutpunch factor he brought to his music with such ease.  This score has moments that give you a glimpse of what it might have been, then it falls back on more atmospheric blandness.  It works far better in the movie than it does listening to it on its own, and to its credit, I've heard far worse scores than this one.  This one just comes with a set of expectations that were impossible for me to suppress.  I still bought the album, and I've listened to it quite a bit, as it is good writing music (where bland and atmospheric isn’t a detriment), but I wish... oh how I wish.  I do hope someday that they release the supposedly seven completed pieces of music Horner composed for this before he died, just as he wrote them, not re-worked to fit the actual movie.  That I would like to hear. 

So, here’s the scoop for me:  this film, taken on its own merits, ignoring what came before, is a violent but entertaining movie.  I appreciated that this movie was PG-13, as well, as that meant it didn't get too gory, despite the body count.  And because there aren’t enough Westerns in the world right now and I want more, I fully support any one that manages to entertain me this much.  I will buy it when it comes out on DVD.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Tolkien Tag 2016

It's that time of year when Hamlette hosts her annual Tolkien blog party.  Here's my answers to her questions in...

The Tolkien Tag 2016

1.  How many books by J.R.R. Tolkien have you read?
Five: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion

2.  Have you seen any movies based on them?
The six Peter Jackson movies.

3.  Are there any scenes/moments that make you cry?
In the books, not so much.  In the movies... the eagles.

4.  Are there any scenes/moments that make you laugh?
Many.  Merry and Pippin in Fellowship, and so many parts of Five Armies.

5.  Have you ever chosen a Middle Earth name for yourself?  If so, what is it?
Well, my nephew called me Aragorn for the better part of a year, does that count?  I did look up what my real name would be once, on one of those webpages, and I quite liked it:  Nieriel.  I could handle that.

6.  Who would you want to party with/marry/fight to the death? (pick three characters)
Well, I've never seen the Dunedain party, but based off watching Aragorn at parties, I suspect they're quiet about it, so they're definitely my choice.

To marry?  Celeborn, because Marton Csokas.  Also, Celeborn is a serious badass, and quiet, and faithful, and he seems perfectly fine with Galadriel going off and doing her own thing, so that's the guy for me.  Also, did I mention... Marton Csokas?

Fight to the death?  Azog, of course.  He's the only one who made me want to jump into the movie and take him on myself.  I just want to shove Thorin out of the way, tell him, dude, you're going to get yourself killed.  Let me do this.  Why, yes, I have a death wish, why do you ask?  But, if I'm marrying Celeborn, I'm most likely an elf, so I like to think it will be a darned good fight.

Bring it on!
7.  When was the last time you visited Middle Earth, via books or movies?
A couple weeks ago, Desolation of Smaug was on television, and we watched the first half until it got too late.  Been dying to watch the second half ever since.

8.  Do you consider Gollum to be a villain?  Why or why not?
No.  I feel too sorry for him to think of him as a villain.  A victim of the ring's power, yes, under which he schemes and manipulates and causes trouble, but not a true villain. 

9.  How would you sum up what Tolkien's stories mean to you in one word?

10. List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotes from the books or movies.
"It comes in pints?"
"You've had a whole half already!"
"Potatoes! Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew."
"They're taking the Hobbits to Isengard."
"Have we not?"
"Men are weak."
"Thorin!  Thorin.  Thorin..."  (this is a bit of an injoke that only my sister gets, but why quote it all the time.)
"It's moving fast, against the wind."  (which is usually followed by somebody in the family shouting "Crebain from Dunland!")
"A little late to be trimming the verge."

Check out Hamlette's Edge of the Precipice page for more links, games, posts, and fun, including a worldwide giveaway.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Happy 50th Anniversary to Star Trek!

The original Star Trek series was a constant in my life growing up.   There was almost no time when it wasn't playing in re-runs, so my family basically watched an episode a day for years and years and years.  Sure we'd skip the ones we didn't like, but more often than not, when time for it to start rolled around (I recall it aired at 5 pm weekdays, for years), we'd flip stations and settle in to watch.  I can't imagine life without Star Trek somewhere in it.

So Happy Anniversary and a huge thank you to all involved who made this show possible, and then kept it going through some great movies, and onto new television series.

My favorite Original Series eps:

1. Bread and Circuses
2. Mirror Mirror
3. Shore Leave
4. City on the Edge of Forever
7. Balance of Terror
8. Journey to Babel
5. Errand of Mercy
6. Enterprise Incident
9. Day of the Dove
10. The Trouble with Tribbles

Favorite movies with the original cast:

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Monday, September 05, 2016

What, again??

Since I'm on a role stealing tags, let's do this Liebster one AGAIN, but this time with another set of 11 questions, this time from Hamlette.

1.  Is there a movie that has really yummy-looking food in it that you'd love to eat?
Yes.  In particular, I've always wanted the bread and cheese Marion eats in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I want those sausages Sam is frying up in FotR, while Boromir teaches Merry and Pippin to sword fight.  I don't even like sausages either, but that moment still always makes me want one anyway.

2.  What era do most of your favorite movies take place in?
Hm.  Kind of all over the board.  From a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, to Roman times to Medieval times to the Old West to fantasy eras to the 1940s to current to the future.  I don't think I particularly care.

3.  What two actors/actresses have you always hoped would make a movie together, but didn't/haven't yet?
Well, I wanted Tyrone Power and William Holden to make a movie together, and since they didn't, I wrote a novel for them instead.  LOL!  It's probably good they didn't... that would be too much handsomeness to handle in one movie.  I guess nowadays, I'd really really like to see a movie with Ken Branagh and Ewan McGregor.

4.  If money and time and supplies (and crafting ability) were not considerations, what movie character would you love to cosplay or dress up like for Halloween?
Oh, so many costumes.  I'd like a full Jedi costume (and I intend to get one someday). And I'd like to dress up as Lt. Saavik from Wrath of Khan.  I also wouldn't mind an Indiana Jones costume.  I have the hat and bullwhip, would kind of like the rest.  Indy is one of my oldest nicknames, and I feel I should be able to dress up as him on Halloween if I wanted to!

5.  Have you ever cosplayed or dressed up like a movie or TV character for Halloween?
Of course!  My Halloween costumes usually were movie characters.  Andre Delambre and Han Solo when I was young.  I went as Tonto a couple years ago, when my nephew dressed up as the Lone Ranger.  And, of course, just recently, dressed up in Star Trek: Original Series dress for the Star Trek convention.

6.  What movie would your friends/family be surprised to learn you truly enjoyed?
Well, it usually surprises people to find out I love Overboard (1987), the Kurt Russell/Goldie Hawn romantic comedy because I'm not usually one for romantic comedies.  But I love that one enough that I own it on DVD.

7.  What's one book you hope no one ever makes into a film?
No one better make Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle into a movie.  It's my favorite novel after MacLean's The Secret Ways, and it's extremely cinematic, but I have Such Strong Images of everything: locations, characters, costumes.  I couldn't bear to see someone else's idea of what things look like.

8.  Do you know the Wilhelm Scream when you hear it?
Yeppers.  Could recognize it way back before there was internet and we finally found out there was a name for it.  My family just called it "The Scream."  LOL.  We've passed on the love of the Wilhelm Scream and my nephew now recognizes it anytime he hears it, which is a lot.  It's still popping up constantly.

9.  When a character onscreen has to hold their breath, do you try to hold your breath to match theirs?
No, but I have no love of water.  I'd rather look away and come back when the characters are back in the air.  (I do however hold my breath while driving through tunnels...)

10.  What upcoming movies (or TV series) are you excited about?
Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them and Rogue One.

11.  What are some of your favorite movie-oriented blogs?  (Or just blogs that post movie reviews sometimes.)
Classic Forever, Silents and Talkies, Laura's Miscellaneous Musing, Preppies of the Apocalypse, Silver Scene, and of course Hamlette's Solioquy.  Among many others.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

I took my nephew to see this a couple weekends ago, and we both LOVED it so much, we went back this weekend and took my sister.

It is beautiful, and dark, and heartwarming, and thrilling, strange and fantastic, funny and sad, and ultimately a satisfying movie. The stop-motion animation is gorgeous and amazing.  There are several shots I'd love to have as stills on my wall.  (I know I've probably said this before, but I've really come to realize how important nature's beauty in a movie is to me.)

I love the story and setting.  Ancient Japan and Samurai and folklore are right up my alley.  I love all of the characters.  Kubo is fantastic as the young protagonist.  It's very easy to see why my nephew loves this movie so much.  Here's a young character that he very much wants to be.  Someone who cares for his mother when she can't care for herself, who tells and creates fabulous stories, who has magic, who goes on a quest, and who can ultimately stand on his own.  Monkey and Beetle are hilarious and strong and protective.  They nicely balance out the darker segments with their humor and warmth.  Their interactions with each other are so funny, and also so poignant.  I think that's one of the things I love and appreciate so much about this movie.  This isn't a light fluffy movie with crude humor.  It has substance, it doesn't shy away from death of loved ones, the humorous moments are genuine, and it sticks with you after you leave the theater.  Even my sister said the same thing, that it's one of those films that won't leave your mind later.  You keep rolling things around.

My nephew's favorite characters are the aunts, I don't know why.  They were his favorites from just seeing the movie trailer, and they stayed favorites after seeing the movie.  They are deliciously creepy and otherworldly and deadly.

The action scenes are great, and so stunning when you remember they're all stop-motion.  Boy, I admire the film makers who have the patience to make something like this!  There's a great segment in the end credits showing a tiny part of how the movie is made.  We all can't wait to own this one on DVD.


My favorite scene is probably on the Long Lake, with the storm raging.  I love the juxtaposition of the fight on the boat and the quiet of the underwater scenes with the giant mesmerizing eyeballs.  Monkey and Beetle are both great here.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

The Liebster tag

While I'm catching up on tags this weekend, Eva tagged me for this one. Thanks, Eva!

1. Link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Answer the eleven questions.
3. Tag eleven bloggers, and let them know you’ve done so.
4. Ask your tagged bloggers eleven questions.

Here are my answers to Eva's questions:

1. What was the last book you read and what did you think of it?
Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith.  Quite enjoyed it.

2. Who are five of your favorite literary heroes?
Hm, I honestly have no idea.  I have a ton of book characters I love, a ton I want to be or relate to... but heroes?  That's a different kettle of fish.  I'm not sure I have any heroes in books.  I'll ponder this one some more...

3. What is the most prominent color in your wardrobe?
Hm, doesn't seem to be one.  I suppose black if you consider most of my movie t-shirts are black and I wear t-shirts daily. 

4. Have you ever traveled outside your country of residence?
Yes, I've been to Mexico, Canada, and Australia.

5. Do you write? (As in fiction – short stories, novellas, novels, etc.)
Yes, short stories, novellas, novels, and Combat! fanfiction.  Right now only my short stories have been professionally published.  And unfortunately, my writing website has been inaccessible by me as admin for over a year now, so it's out of date.  I have no idea what to do about that.  I've googled the problem and tried things suggested, and nothing works.  It's very frustrating.  This is what I get for agreeing to move it to Wordpress, which I know little about.  Sigh.

6. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
Tea tea tea tea tea!!  Loose leaf black tea, hot, with sugar.  Usually English Breakfast.  Every day!  I don't touch coffee or hot chocolate, though I will have a mocha from Starbucks every now and then, when I'm feeling expansive.

7. What is your favorite boy’s name?

8. What is your favorite girl’s name?

9. Do you/have you ever owned a pet?
Yes, many.  Lots of cats, a few dogs, a horse, goldfish, and koi.  Currently only have two cats (mother/daughter rescues), and one young Siberian Husky named Silver.

10. What’s your favorite movies of ALL TIME?
This list is large, so let's go with three that are always at the top of the list:  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Aliens (1986), and The 13th Warrior (1999).  Can't live without any of those, neither do I have to be in a specific mood to watch them.  I'm always ready for any of those!

11. Have you ever been on a roller-coaster?
Yes, the small ones at Disneyland, and then the bigger ones at a couple different Six Flags parks in California.  And really, I never need to ride a roller coaster with a big drop again. I derive no pleasure from plummeting.  I do like fast twisty roller coasters with no drops, but those are hard to find.  Space Mountain at Disneyland remains my favorite roller coaster.

And I'm going to not tag anyone here either, because this is apparently a tag-free zone!