Tag Archives: movies

Two Buddies, a Russian Spy, and an Intern Walk Into a Bar In Transylvania by Valerie J. Patterson

Two buddies, a Russian spy, and an intern walk into a bar in Transylvania.  Sounds like the start to a good joke, right?  It could have been if I was a comedian and wrote my own material.  Instead, I offer you a couple movie reviews.

A Walk In The Woods stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, and was a very entertaining movie.  It was good to see these two men on the big screen again, too.  Barely recognized Nick Nolte, but without him the movie wouldn’t have been as good as it was.  His and Redford’s characters are as opposite as any two humans could be.  One is refined, the other not so much.  But, opposites often make the best pairs.  Redford plays a character who has spent his whole life in the career/family lane of the road of life.  He’s been successful in writing and in love, and everything about his life speaks fulfillment…until his friends begin dying and there’s one funeral too many, causing him to take stock in his life and what became of his dreams.  One night he makes the life-changing decision to hike the Appalachian Trail–the entire trail.  He goes through his phone book of friends and colleagues and invites each of them to accompany him.  One by one, they all turn him down, and he’s beginning to think he’ll have to do it alone.  One last call comes in.  Nolte’s character–whom Redford never called–asks if he can go on the trip.  This pleases Redford’s character’s wife and the two set of on an unforgettable adventure that resonates with any person at any stage of their life.  If you missed this one in the theaters, it’s worth the rental price.

The Intern stars Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro, and the two have exceptional chemistry and comedic timing.  Hathaway plays an over-stressed work-aholic who started her own Internet company that exploded into a huge success that leaves her reeling between work life and home life.  Enter DeNiro’s character as an intern in the company’s new initiative “Senior Interns”.  DeNiro’s character is living life after retirement and the death of his wife.  After traveling everywhere he’s ever wanted to go, he finds himself with wide open days and tons of time on his hands.  Boss and intern need one another–even if they don’t see it, don’t want it, and don’t accept it, which leads to laughs and lessons learned.  Again, if this is not still playing–as it is here in one or two theaters–it’s worth the rental price.

Bridge of Spies stars Tom Hanks as James Donovan, an American insurance attorney who’s chosen to represent a Russian spy arrested on American soil.  Donovan takes the case, and Hanks shines!  Donovan takes his job seriously and Russian spy or not, his client deserves a fair trial.  Too bad the judge and the jury don’t share the same thought process.  This true story shows humanity at its best and its worst.  When Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “The true greatness of a person…is evident in the way he or she treats those with whom courtesy and kindness are not required.” he was not speaking of James Donovan, but it certainly applies to him.  Catch this one in the theater or via rental, but catch it nonetheless!

And finally, Hotel Transylvania 2, the second installment written by and starring Adam Sandler.  The first movie was adorable and appealed to adults and children alike.  This offering–in my humble opinion–was just disappointing.  Steve and I actually apologized to the couple we had with us!  Dracula is waiting to see if his grandson is a vampire or–gasp–a mere mortal like the baby’s father.  The first movie was all about acceptance of those different from ourselves.  This offering seemed less so, though Dracula does become more accepting in the end, but only after…well, I won’t post a spoiler here on the off chance you have a burning desire to see Hotel Transylvania 2.

So, two buddies, a Russian spy, and an intern walk into a bar in Transylvania…

Until next time, may the movies you chose to see entertain you, warm your heart, and tickle your funny bone.

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When I was a (not so) Tiny Dancer

Recently, I reconnected with one of my cousins. We’d lost touch over the years, due to marriage, moving cities, and the usual excuse of months/years going past so fast. It was lovely that after the best part of 30 years we just picked up where we’d left off. Soon we were reminiscing, remembering the fun times we’d shared as children and teenagers. There was much laughter and schoolgirl giggling to be had.

As children, we’d shared fun days at the beach and happy cinema trips, most of which included much mischief and more usually ended up with us being sent to bed early in disgrace. As teenagers, we continued to misbehave: one memorable night included a family Christmas Party where Kathy and I managed to get ourselves tipsy after sneaking drambuie into the garden shed. That particular incident put me of alcohol for life 🙂

One of our favourite things to do was re-enact scenes from movies in my parent’s living room. I was always a budding movie director and Kathy an actress, a perfect partnership for creating a masterpiece of cinematic glory that, alas, never made it to the big screen. But goodness, we had some fun. We used to love re-creating the barn dance scene from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and would take turns being either one of the brides or brothers. We’d use chairs, tables, footstools, buckets, brooms, and even my dad’s decorating ladder as props, and then set about dancing around the living room. Oh, how I loved to dance.

On UK television at the moment, there’s an advert for a shop chain’s home insurance. It shows a bespectacled  little girl in a ballet outfit dancing joyously around to the soundtrack of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”. She dances with a reckless abandon, and sort of reminds me of…me, LOL.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Workshops Worth the Time

Jillian here. I had a super experience last weekend in Birmingham, Alabama. I belong to the Southern Magic chapter of RWA and they hosted the fabulous Deb Dixon from Belle Books/Belle Bridge Books in two workshops (which were really three). Friday night, she focused on “The Slippery Slope” – which is the big black moment. MAN! I always had a different idea in my head about what exactly that was- I tried to make it way more than it is- not that it isn’t vital but I had a basic misunderstanding of how it actually could be something more subtle than I was making it. I loved how she explained it and I think I have a much better handle on it.

In fact, one of my crit partners was asking me about my story I’m polishing right now last week and wanted to know why I had what happened occur. I said it was the black moment and she said it didn’t  have to be that black.  LOL.  I get what she meant by that comment now.

On Saturday, Ms. Dixon talked about “Goal, Motivation and Conflict” as well as “The Hero’s Journey.”   She broke each of these down into elements and really, really hit us with some wonderful information. Every single word she said over the 10 hours she stood at the podium talking was a golden nugget of information. No one wanted to leave the room to even take care of biological needs.  LOL – I was so impressed with her. Such a great speaker. She related a lot of her talk to movie plots and man, she made the material come alive. And what a great way to teach – the examples made the lessons make sense on a core level.

“The Hero’s Journey” is a 12 step story-telling guideline based on mythology. Most all stories have some elements of this guide. Written by Christopher Volger. This is used as Deb’s jumping off point for her talk.

Ms. Dixon wrote the book called “Goal, Motivation and Conflict” and I recommend that for your writing took kit.

If you are ever in a position to attend any of her workshops, run. Don’t walk, RUN! toward that workshop. It is so worth the time you spend. The fee wasn’t that high and I’ve paid way more to learn waaay, waaay less.

Special Events Lead to Special Memories by Valerie J. Patterson

Steve and I enjoy going to the theater.  It’s something we’ve always done.  We just enjoy movies whether they be mysteries, comedies, or action movies–and sometimes science fiction joins the mix.  However, we’ve recently taken to seeing the special events sponsored by Fathom Events.

A short time ago we got to enjoy Driving Miss Daisy with Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones.  Phenomenal!  Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones were remarkable, and just made for a special evening!!  It was an incredible, memorable event.

One of my very favorite movies is the musical White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen.  2014 is the 60th anniversary of this musical, and Steve just happened across an advertisement for a limited engagement screening of the original White Christmas complete with commentary, interviews, and behind the scenes extras.  This event was being presented by Fathom Events and was available for two days only.  Steve took me to dinner and then to the screening.

It was incredible!  Loved every minute of it.  I’ve seen the musical countless times on TV, but to see it on the big screen just made it all the more better.  It was nearly three hours of pure enjoyment.  Loved the commentaries, the history on the cast and the film, and the anecdotes that were told about the cast during filming.  Definitely one of the highlights of the Christmas season!

We’re looking forward to seeing two of the operas being offered through this special event program.  What could be better than seeing the opera in the comfort of blue jeans and sneakers while munching popcorn?

Until next time, I hope you’re enjoying your Christmas season, have all your shopping completed and your wrapping done!  And to quote Bing Crosby, “If you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep.”

The magic of a movie

We heard this week that Vinnie, our current guide dog puppy, has to leave us for four weeks because of ongoing behavioural problems. You can imagine how disappointed we are, but we really want to give him the best chance of fulfilling his future as an assistance dog, so we know it’s for the best. It doesn’t stop me from feeling a bit down in the dumps though, and while we’ll enjoy the break (he’s not been the easiest pup in the world) we’ll really miss the little chap.

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Today we’ll drive him over to his temporary home for the next month. On the way back, we’re planning to stop off for lunch and hit the shops for a little retail therapy. I think my hubby wants to keep me occupied as I get really attached to these pups and find it hard to let them go, even if only temporarily. But while lunch and some shopping is lovely, when I’m feeling a bit low the best remedy is losing myself in some feel-good movies. The movies of choice at these times are the ones where it’s possible to put reality aside for a couple of hours and enter into a world of movie magic.

Have you seen the movie, Love Actually? If so, you’ll recall the scene between Liam Neeson and the young actor who plays his stepson. The boy is feeling miserable and Liam suggests that they need Kate and they need Leo, meaning that scene in Titanic where the characters are on the bow of the ship and enjoying the freedom of the elements. Well tonight I’ll need Howard and I’ll need Jane and the fabulous movie that is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I think I was about eleven when I first saw it and fell desperately in love with the colour, the dancing, the singing, the costumes and … the brother in the red shirt  It has never once failed to lift my heart. Having fallen in love with films from an early age, I always wanted to be a movie director. My cousins still talk about the time I made them recreate scenes from Seven Brides in my parents’ living room, and insisted they use the correct dialogue and actions. I don’t think they’ve ever forgiven me.

Aside from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, other go-to feel good films are Field of Dreams, The Phantom of the Opera, Out of Africa, You’ve Got Mail, Dead Poets’ Society and all the Indiana Jones series. Of course, there are other movies in my favourites list, such as The Last Samurai, Shawshank Redemption and Saving Private Ryan but these are grittier, hard-hitting films that, while amazing, don’t qualify for my escapist requirements in times of need.

How about you? What are your favourite escapist movies?

My Fair Lady

This weekend, one of my friends celebrated a birthday and as part of her celebration, we went out to dinner and she treated us to a showing of My Fair Lady. Our local historic theatre which was built in 1925 is having a summer season of older movies shown on the big screen. Two weeks ago was Casablanca and next week is Fiddler on the Roof. It’s so awesome to be in that beautiful lady with the plush velvet seats and fancy scrollwork and see these films as they were meant to be seen.


I have three trivia questions for you today. Let’s see who can answer them.

First, what opera were the patrons seeing at the beginning at the film when ‘Enry ‘Iggins first met Eliza Doolittle outside Covent Garden Opera House?

Second, what man played the infatuated Freddy? A man who later went on to play Sherlock Holmes and who’s real father was named Henry Huggins?

Third- What other role did Rex Harrison have that was related to a Doolittle or Dolittle?

THE GREATS by Valerie J. Patterson

I turned on the television over the weekend, scanned through the channels at a pretty fair pace, and paused abruptly as my eyes caught hold of a wonderful sight.  Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly.  This film was made in 1952…well before my time, but it holds a very special place in my heart.  I’m sure you’re sitting there asking how an old musical could be special to a person.  Or perhaps you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The very first time I saw Singing in the Rain, I was perhaps 12 years old.  It was a Saturday—a rare one where my dad had to work.  So after the chores were done—yes, I said chores.  Back in those days, kids had chores to do before anything else on a Saturday morning.  I digress.  After the chores were done, Mom fixed lunch, which we all ate in the living room amidst laughter, giggles, and strange noises—most of which were actually coming from my mother, not us girls as one would expect.  She turned on the television, and we watched this fantastic musical.

My mom loves musicals.  So did my father.  It’s no wonder then, that I love them too.  My parents introduced me to a whole new world outside of cartoons and comedies.  Dad with his love of the music by Glen Miller, big bands, and orchestras.  Mom with her love of classic movies, Fred Astaire-type dancing, and music from her generation.  They shared their favorites with me, and in turn gave me an appreciation for all of the aforementioned things, and so much more.

Gene Kelly ranks right up there with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Doris Day, Cary Grant, Rosemary Clooney, and so many others that it would take me all day to mention.

The first time I saw My Fair Lady, my mother was scanning the channels late at night much as I had done last evening.  It was after midnight, and the news had gone off.  She saw the movie coming on, and encouraged me to stay up with her and watch it.  Well past two o’clock, we were still riveted to the screen, and I fell in love with another old musical.

Another old movie I hold dear to my heart is To Sir, With Love.  I was probably 13 years old when I went for a weekend stay with Grandma—my dad’s mom.  After a busy morning at her grocery store, we went home and ate lunch.  Then we sat down together and watched this magnificent classic.  I learned right away from talking to Grandma just who Dad got his list of favorites from.

To date, I own a vast collection of the classics.  All of which I’ve seen a dozen times or more.  Each viewing is as fresh and alive as the first time I ever saw it.  Each one has a ‘first time’ story attached to it, too, because of the wonderful people in my childhood.

Holiday Inn and White Christmas are staples at my house during the holidays.  I was with my mom and dad both the first time I watched these movies back-to-back while only a mere 4th-grader.  And, let’s not forget North by Northwest or Arsenic and Old Lace or the numerous faces of Lon Chaney.  And who can forget such funnies as Abbott and Costello?  Or Danny Kaye in just about anything he’d ever done?  Remember Ma and Pa KettleAn American in ParisThree Coins in a Fountain?  Clifton Webb and Cheaper By the Dozen?  Oh, the list can go on and on.

And it was safe to have a child view the greats.  These are good, clean fun!  The sex is hinted at in a way that the adults only know about, and the filthy language is limited to lines like, “Why I otta…” and it goes unfinished.  He knows what he otta do, and you know what he otta do, but no one says it in such a way you need to cover the ears of the young and impressionable.

As far as these grand old movies have taken me, there are, of course, movies I watched for the first time with Steve that will become what we share with our children—along with the classics my parents and family shared with me.

Have you got any classics in your movie closet?  I’ll bet you do.  Tell me about them.  Why not even tell me why they’re memorable?

Until next time, stay well and happy viewing of the greats!    Valerie

 

*Author’s Note:  I’m sincerely sorry this post did not appear this morning as I scheduled it to appear.  Somehow I inserted the incorrect military time and thus nothing appeared this morning as it should have. ~Valerie