Category Archives: movies

Movies, Music, and Mondays . . .

Perhaps I should start with Mondays . . . Today was a beautiful Monday outside.  In the throws of summer on the first of July, and the high temp was 78 degrees.  What a wonderful alternative to the typical 95+ St Louis usually dishes out in the summer.  It is worth reveling in this weather.  Let’s savor it and enjoy it, as normal is almost certain to return very soon.

I worked today, as I do most Mondays.  I was feeling a bit puny, and I had the proverbial rough day at the office, so I am not feeling like much of a Monday fan.  But the day was redeemed by a movie with my youngest and jazz on youtube on my tv.  Technology really is an amazing gift!


I am dying to see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing.  I have been thinking about it for over a month, and now, over a week has passed since it opened, and we still haven’t made it there.  We are not the first-run movie sort of people, so this is not unusual.  But this movie has several things going for it: 1. It’s Shakespeare.  2.  Joss Whedon.  3. It looks so cool in its black and white hipness.  To get you in the mood, check out this review.

The Monday movie at home tonight with 10-year-old daughter was Parental Guidance.  Believe it or not, this is the second time we watched it.  It is just plain funny.  Billy Crystal and Bette Middler play grandparents who go to take care of their tightly strung daughter’s children.  I don’t think Billy Crystal is capable of not being funny, and Bette Middler is a great sidekick.  Marissa Tomei plays the high strung mother of three pre-teen children, and Tom Everett Scott rounds out the family as Dad.  The humor is clean, the family situations are real but still funny, and it ends poignantly enough to bring forth a tear or two.  It is a really good family movie that even teens would like if they take the time to sit and watch with you. (Mine did not, btw.)

Summer Reading Redux

In the midst of summer busyness–caring for the kids, yardwork, household projects–I have been trying to get some reading done. Well, I had to return Belong To Me (mentioned in my last post) to the library. I had Mark check it out for me when it was due last week, and then today, it was due again, and I figured they wouldn’t let me check it out again. I am more than half-way through, and I want to finish it. I just haven’t had the time to get to it.

I did finish The Good Earth, and it was worth reading. If you don’t know, it is the story of a farmer in China before the revolution. The farmer, practically worships the land. With the help of his stalwart, former slave wife, O-lan, Wang Lung survives a brutal famine and goes back to his land to farm it and become rich. He amasses more and more land, and becomes a lord in their small town. He also takes a second wife, a real sign of wealth.

What is great about this book are the themes that run through it–the benefit of hard work as opposed to slothfulness, the benefit of long-term faithfulness as opposed to betrayal, true humility versus false humility, being grateful for the gifts you receive in this life, etc., etc. The story is set in a pagan culture where false gods are honored and the people are superstitious, so the benefits of the gospel are missing. But the good and beneficial elements of these qualities to families and communities are still evident.

After I finished the book, I checked out the 1937 film based on it from the library. The movie had a happier ending and Wang Lung’s character was more foolish than in the book, but it was still a good reflection of the novel.

From looking at, it looks like there are 2 sequels to the first one: Sons and A House Divided Maybe I’ll get to reading them next summer!

Enjoying a BBC Classic

In my search for some new videos to watch, I came across the BBC classic mini-series, To Serve them All My Days. Based on a novel by by R. F. Delderfield, the film deals with the journey of a young WWI veteran from the time he leaves the service through his career as a schoolmaster at an elite British public boarding school. Even though the young man, David Powlett-Jones, does not have a degree when he applies for the position, the likable headmaster, Algy Herries is impressed by him and gives him a chance to prove himself. David goes on to finish his degree and teaches at the school for many years. He weathers many personal trials and enchants the audience with his passion for teaching and for guiding his students through life.

The film itself is simply made. There are no frills here. But the script and the acting give what might sound like dry material for a film come to life with a lot of dramatic flair. I especially liked the actor Alan MacNaughtan who plays an older colleague to Powlett-Jones. MacNaughtan is a dry-witted curmudgeonly bachelor who befriends PJ, and endears himself to the audience with each episode of the series.

We still have one more disc left of the 4-disc set, and I am waiting anxiously for it to be delivered to our local branch of the St Louis County Library so I can see how David’s career ends. I can already tell I’ll be sorry when it is over, and I’ll have to check out the book to read it, too.

This, That, and the Other Thing; Baedekers Included

First, this:

Procrastination–I have a big project to complete, so I am finding every manner of activity to do instead of working on the project–blogging included.

Second, that:

The project I am completing involves a lot of data entry. Arrgh. So I am sitting with my laptop on the sofa and watching a movie while I enter the data. When I come to a stopping point, I do a little web surfing. This is not the most time-effective way to complete a project, but it makes me feel less like I am working on a Saturday. I won’t do all the work like this; I’ll buckle down and get it done on time.

I am watching a movie that I love, so I don’t have to really concentrate on it. I can hear it in the background, and enjoy the familiarity, the comfort of it. It is A Room With A View by EM Forster. Say what you may about EM Forster, but I enjoy his books. I can overlook his opinions that I don’t agree with to just enjoy the plot. I’ve read this book multiple times, and I enjoy the movie from time to time. I received it on DVD as a gift for my birthday last year, so now I can just put it in whenever I please.

I recommend this movie highly if you enjoy British period films. Helena Bonhomme Carter plays the principle female role, and there are other British actors that you’ll recognize. My only disclaimer is that it has some brief male nudity that is shot distantly, so it isn’t horribly scandalous. However, once I forgot to mention this to someone when I recommended this movie, and I lived to regret that mistake. Never again.

The Other Thing

The other thing I did today was shop for pants for my eldest son. At the beginning of the school year, a mere 4 months ago, we bought him several pair of school pants and a few pair of jeans. Now, at the halfway point of the school year, he has grown 3 inches! His pants are what we affectionately referred to as “flood pants” in the old days. When he is standing, they rest about a half inch above his high-tops. At his current height, size 18 in boys’ sizes are too short. So, today I went to Old Navy to purchase the smallest waist men’s pants available–28. I am expecting them to be a tad loose at the waist, but hopefully we will no longer have a view of his ankles. He is camping with scouts this weekend, so I have to wait until tomorrow to see if my pants errand was successful. If it was, I will be a devotee of clearance racks at Old Navy. I hardly ever set foot in the store because I can’t really afford clothes from there, but there sale prices were reasonable and the clearance rack was an excellent place for the budget conscious to shop. Mark even scored a pair of pants from the clearance rack and a pair of jeans from the sale selections!

Baedekers included . . . I just threw this in because chapter 2 of A Room with a View is entitled, “In Santa Croce with No Baedeker,” which begs the question, what is a baedeker? If you really want to know, go here.

The Jane Austen Book Club

I wanted to see this movie that came out in the late fall. With life’s many commitments, I never fit it into my schedule. When I saw the preview, I guessed I would like the film but wouldn’t just love it.

One day in November, I was wandering through Goodwill, and I stopped to peruse the books. I came across the book on which the movie was based. I bought it for 70 cents, and I was able to read it over the Christmas holiday.

The premise is no surprise. The book is about a group of five women and one man who read several Jane Austen novels together and meet monthly to discuss them. It follows the group chronologically over the period in which the group meets. Each chapter deals with parallels between the Austen novel being discussed and the lives of the book group characters. It is truly a character driven story, but there is enough plot line to pull the reader along.

The matriarchs of the group are Jocelyn and Sylvia. They were high school friends who became lifelong friends. Jocelyn is single and a dog breeder. Allegra is the daughter of Sylvia. She is struggling with her personal relationships, and she has moved back home with her mother who has just separated from her father. Bernadette is retired and older than Jocelyn and Sylvia, but she is more like the eccentric aunt than a matriarch. She has been married several times has lived in many places. Her comments on Jane Austen always lead to a monologue about something from her own eclectic history. Prudie is a high school French teacher–probably in her mid-to-late-thirties. She questions the status of her love for her very loyal and stand-up husband when she thinks of Jane Austen. The last group member is Brigg, the only male in the group. He was invited to join the discussion by Jocelyn, whom he met at a science fiction convention that was meeting in the same hotel as one of her dog breeding meetings. Brigg is suspect from the beginning because he is a man and he had never read Jane Austen in the past.

There’s really not a lot of discussion about the Jane Austen novels. There are opinions given here and there, but no comments are really substantial. This book is truly a commentary on how readers relate the details of their own lives to Austen’s novels. It shows the timelessness of Jane Austen. I think is reflects how most book discussion groups actually happen. A group meets to discuss a novel, but they end up talking about how the novel speaks to their own situation. They end up getting to know each other. This book shows that the rise in popularity of the book group is reflective of a need for people to build relationships–to be a part of a group.

I enjoyed this book enough that I plan to check out some other fiction by Karen Joy Fowler. I also still plan to see the movie, but I guess it will be on DVD. Maybe I’ll have to invite a group over to watch it with me!