I once spent a month in Alaska during the summer, and while there was much hiking and playing and loving the outdoors, we also had a great time coming home and watching long winded dramas. In honor of that I would like to share with you my 2017 list of things to watch when the cool romance/funny drama mood strikes

1. North and South

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(Currently streaming on Netflix)

North and South is a miniseries based on a book by Elizabeth Gaskell. It covers a large span of time. The character of Margaret is always recalling fondly her memories of warmth and beauty of her homeland. It is the summer of her mind. She starts a journey and winds up in a completely different place than she thought she would. In the end Margaret is empowered and she has grown far beyond where she started. It is worth the fours hours that you will sink into watching it. I suggest scones and coffee on a lazy or rainy or simply too cold to get out, Saturday.

2. Love & Friendship

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(Currently streaming on Amazon Prime)

This gem of a movie, while not as long as North and South is much more funny and light hearted (and less realistic). It center around Kate Beckinsale’s, Lady Susan who flits from household to household after the death of her husband wreaking mayhem wherever she goes. Her daughter is long suffering and usually embarrassed by the antics of her shameless parent. Its much like what might happen if Mrs. Bennett (Pride and Prejudice) had lost her husband and been a bit more intelligent. Most of the drama takes place in the residence of Lady Susan’s deceased husbands brothers home (confusing isn’t it?). Its light and funny and irrelevant. Go Enjoy.

 

3. Barefoot in the Park

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(Currently streaming on Netflix)

If you are looking for an oldy but a goodie this is your movie. It was the first movie that Robert Redford and Jane Fonda did together and it was rather magnificent. They play newlyweds in New York. Jane is the overly clingy Cory who has newly discovered the concept of romantic love and hasn’t quite reconciled that with the reality of every day life. Redford plays her straight laced new husband Paul, who hasn’t quite figured out how to deal with his charming if batty wife.

4. Sabrina

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(Currently streaming on Hulu)

Sabrina is one of those interesting movies with a narrated introduction. Sabrina tells us a “Once upon a time” sort of story as an introduction. She grew up as the daughter of a chauffeur living on the property of his employers on one of those complexes that normal people don’t visit much less live on. Sabrina watches the parties from afar and dreams of one day catching the eye of the younger son whom she fancies herself in love with. After a growing up period in Paris as a fashion intern she comes back home where she does catch the eye of both brothers and the story weaves its way into your heart with the charming older brother Linus and his need to really start experiencing life. I enjoyed it immensely.

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While I have not yet read Our Souls at Night, the book, it is most certainly now on my list. I was prepared to be disappointed by the movie. As much as Netflix gets things right it gets them abysmally wrong with original works. However, this beautiful bit of a movie about growing older and still finding that sliver of happiness was everything I could have wanted (mostly). I think many of us, when faced with the prospect of growing older, or with older people, somehow believe that they outgrow loneliness or the need for companionship which is ridiculous but maybe it is more of a hope. In any event the heroin of our story, Addie, starts off very boldly by asking her neighbor Louis to fill a need she has for companionship by sleeping over and talking to her. She has been a widow a while and lives alone in a house much too big for a single person and she misses even the most basic companionship. Instead of doing what many do, which is suffer in silence or let loneliness overtake her she reaches out to someone she has known to be kind and who seems to be in at least a somewhat similar situation. What a brave thing to do at any age. And absolutely honest.

While Louis is definitely more hesitant than she is they form a sweet bond which grows slowly over time. It did make me think. I’ve, for all intents and purposes been single for about three years and especially in the last two years its been hard to go to bed alone every night. It would be something truly special to have someone who simply wanted to have a pleasant and insightful conversation with me before bed each night and to close my eyes and know someone else would be with me when I opened them again. This is not to say I am totally alone. I have a two year old of course and my sister is wonderful but there is something to be said for a different kind of companionship. Robert Redford and  Jane Fonda did a wonderful job with the material. I’ve actually never seen them together in a movie before but my mission is to have a movie night with their movies tonight. They are wonderful together. There were several wonderfully insightful moments in the movie but this quote from the book about growing up,  life, marriage and companionship sum  it up well.

“Who does ever get what they want? It doesn’t seem to happen to many of us if any at all. It’s always two people bumping against each other blindly, acting out old ideas and dreams and mistaken understandings.” – Kent Haruf

 

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Death Comes to Pemberly

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My newest Netflix discovery has been Death Comes to Pemberly. While I am not an obsessive Pride and Prejudice fan I do enjoy movies and sometimes books associated with the worlds created by Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice) and Elizabeth Gaskell (Wives and Daughters, North and South). My favorite of these is probably North and South. Something about spring time just makes me want to watch a ton of haughty British miniseries and read all the associated books. This is perfect coinciding with my discover of Death Comes to Pemberly in the Netflix catalog.

This continuation of the P&P story takes place a few years after the original book ends with Darcy and Elizabeth and a bouncing, rather energetic young Darcy Jr. The movie (it is also a book) takes place around the time that the family is prepping for a grand ball. Georgiana makes an appearance as does Colonel Fitzwilliam, Jane, and several other beloved and some not so beloved characters. Leading up to the ball Captain Denny, and the still rather deplorable, but now a decorated war hero Wickham and as always a rather silly Lydia are on their way to the ball to *surprise* their relatives by showing up there unexpectedly in hopes of not being turned away. During the carriage ride Captain Denny has a fit of conscience and jumps out of the carriage with Wickham on his heels. During the ensuing panic Captain Denny is murdered and of course Wickham is the primary, possibly only suspect.

From here we are lead on a merry chase through many clues and multiple suspects until then final conclusion. It is a mighty mystery filled with touches of romance here and there. The movie definitely captures the romance between Darcy and Elizabeth and shows how their relationship could have grown in the ensuing years after the conclusion of P&P. We also get a rather satisfactory ending to Georgiana’s story. I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to get their British romance fix. And if you don’t have Netflix it is quite reasonably priced on Amazon.

Fifty Shades of Grey: A short review

I’ve avoided the whole Fifty shades of Grey controversy mostly because despite whatever I might feel about it I just didn’t particularly want to argue. I’m tired and pregnant and people are judgmental and silly and will get mad over absolutely anything. Having said all of that I have read the books (several times, cause I am reader and I read everything several times) and I saw the movie. If you haven’t done either of those things please stuff your opinion where the sun doesn’t shine because it is worthless. That would be like me giving an opinion on Dr. Who beyond that I watched one episode, didn’t care for it, and don’t think I will be picking it up again any time soon.

Now that all of that is out of way I’ll share with you my thoughts on the movie adaptation. The book is better. That is true of nearly everything from the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson movies to Angels and Demons. The book is inevitably better because we can all individually use our imaginations and fit what we are reading within our own experiences. Having said that, the movie did stay true to most of the premises of the book. Fifty shades has the same problem that most book to movies have in that you can’t hear the internal dialogue of the characters. The actors they picked for Ana and Christian are great, but you still can’t hear Ana’s internal struggle or Christian’s and that is a vital part of understanding the characters. About an hour into the movie I had three simultaneous thoughts:

I wish there was more dialogue cause they are really good at that

This would be awkward to watch with my mother or brother

She didn’t shave…which is true to the book

The scenes where Ana and Christian are just being Ana and Christian are the best. The scenes where they have sex are sometimes sweet and good, sometimes awkward, and at other times painful to witness. To be fair this was true to the book as well. I think the next movie will be better because the first book and movie end on a cliff hanger and I will go into the theater knowing what to expect and hopefully they will learn to stick with the dialogue heavy scenes and skip some of the sex. I prefer to read my smutt.

Will I watch this movie again? Yeah

I give it a 4 out of 5.

Later, when I feel like getting on my soap box I will share with you all my other Fifty Shades related opinions. ;-P

Did you all see it? If so what did you think?

MASH: or it could always be worse

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I’ve been a bit of a funk the last couple of days. Mostly to do with the fact that I feel like I am alone in realizing the severity in a situation of having a little one in less than 90 days. I’ll condense my drama into one sentence. I have been told we are going to go pick out a crib at least three times now over a period of a few weeks and it hasn’t happened yet…. Anyway something this afternoon finally perked me up a little bit. I watched the pilot episode of MASH which is now on netflix.

The first episode introduces us to Hawkeye and Hotlips and all our other favorite characters. This show was a staple of my childhood. The adventures of that little medical unit during the Korean conflict were something I watched a great deal of as a child though never in order, just randomly as the episodes came to TV. They often showed several in a row on some random channel and I would watch them and laugh at their antic and cry at their suffering.

The pilot episode features Hawkeye doing what he does best, helping people and being irreverent. He cooks up a plan to raise college tuition for a Korean boy to go to his alma mater back in the states. He somehow manages to throw an unathorized party, raise all the money needed, give the prize away to a priest who can’t partake in it, and not get court marshalled by the visiting general who just happens to be a former boyfriend of Hotlips. All while keeping his good humor and attempting to woo the ladies. This kind of show is the kind I miss. Forget How I Met Your Mother with its unsavory ending and silly plot line. Friends was never my thing. MASH is raw and real and funny in the saddest way and I love it.

I’m currently diving into season 4. With that season comes the great Colonel Potter. I always remember liking his character but I had forgotten how much. MASH is a good mood lifting show and Netflix is kind enough to bring me the first five seasons. Here’s to hoping for seasons 6-11!

The Interview: A Review

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A few months ago I went to see the Dracula movie in theaters with my brother. Sadly we were under tornado warnings on and off that week so midway through the previews we got booted out of the theater and weren’t able to watch out movie that day. What I did get to see was the slightly ludicrous but still entertaining trailer for the Interview. I had not heard of the movie before then but I figured I might watch it once it came to Netflix. It looked at least remotely entertaining, even if I find James Franco to be a bit strange and not nearly as funny as most people who are slightly more inebriated than my perpetually sober self. Some humor you can only get if your high.

Fast forward to last December when the raging controversy was brewing over not showing the movie in theaters. Truthfully when I first heard this I thought it was a hoax. I mean this was 2014…Of course we were going to show a perfectly harmless comedy in theaters even if it did make fun of North Korea and revolve around offing their leader. I mean we show movies all the time about actual historical events that don’t portray other countries in a positive light. Theaters also show movies like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit which is all about a Russian plot to ruin the US government and economy. You don’t see Russia crying foul. Putin is not pitching a fit to get it off the air and Carmike is certainly not refusing to play such movies in their theaters. But that is exactly what supposedly happened with the Interview. North Korea pitched a fit, hacked Sony’s network, threatened a bunch of things, and Sony, Carmike and several other people involved in the process of bringing a movie from production to the big screen suddenly backed out of showing it at all.

The whole undertaking was rather surreal. Whether or not what they told us happened actually did, whether North Korea gives a shit about what we watch or make fun of, I suspect we won’t know until 30 years from now when James Franco’s biography comes out. What I do know is that the movie never made it to theaters. For a while there was no clear plan as to if it would ever be released to the public. Then they began to say it would be released direct to DVD or on the streaming services like Amazon, Itunes, etc. And that is basically what happened last month.

Whether I would have been as keen to watch it before I suppose we will never know, but watch it did. Basically it is exactly what it looks like in the previews. Two guys get an Interview with North Korea’s supreme leader, the CIA talks them into trying to take him down, once they get to North Korea things are a lot more complicated than they anticipated. Sex jokes abounded. The dynamic between Seth Rogen and Franco is really good. They play off each other well. Rogen is the ever practical producer trying to reign in the flighty and sometimes downright absurd Franco. The movie is definitely a good one to watch while mindlessly doing your laundry or knitting or some other task. It is not for children (obviously) but it is entertaining enough for what it is. I would never have paid to see it in theaters, but on Netflix, when I already pay to stream way more content than I probably should, it was well worth the entertainment value.

The Newsroom: A Season 1 Review

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I saw the opening scene for the Newsroom a couple of years ago, and I thought the premise was great. I mean who, in my generation can’t appreciate that speech. If you haven’t seen it, even if you have no desire to watch the series, you should watch the first five minutes. I don’t have cable, therefore no HBO and since paying for cable television is pretty much against my thrifty religion I never gave too much to watching it on a regular basis. Like most things I’ll wait until it comes to Netflix. But then my brother gifted me the first season as a Christmas gift.

We start out at a college auditorium with our main character Will and a line of panelists being asked “Why is America the greatest country in the world?” by a typical college blonde. You get the standard answer from the other guests like “Freedom and Freedom” (which is bullshit) but then Will is put on the spot to answer…and he does. Frankly when I saw this scene I was really afraid the rest of the program wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to it. I mean really what can be that consistently good? So far I would have to say that it can be. Will, on first glance, seems like a bitter ass hole…and on second glance too, but then you get to know him. He has layers. Like most people I imagine, but Will is a conundrum. He is a Republican. He calls Republican candidates out on their various and diverse array of distractionary and inflammatory and frankly flat out lying tactics.

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When we first meet Will in the Newsroom he seems to be something of an attention whore. Which I imagine is the case with a lot of people that make it that far into any profession where there face is plastered on a screen night after night. Then we meet Mackenzie…who is such an idealist that you cant help but love her. She wants to report real news…REAL NEWS….not tabloid fodder or feel good stories about Jennifer Anniston’s opinion on children or why botox is a great solution to most problems. Mac has spent some time embedded in with the troops and so perhaps this is where her attitude comes from. She is a mass of energy and positive attitude wrapped in a rather intriguing personality that is a lot of fun to watch unfold over the first season.

We learn a lot about these two characters and their former romance and what it means now as well as the other characters that keep the newsroom running. Nobody on this show falls flat or seems unrealistic. Every character is full of so much depth that you cant help but understand and empathize with their plights and problems. I look forward to Season 2.

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What show have you been watching lately?

For your viewing pleasure:

 

Marco Polo: To watch or not to watch?

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If you haven’t had a chance to sit down and soak up some of Netflix’s original programming you definitely should. Thus far I have enjoyed House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Marco Polo. There are others I am sure I need to watch, but these are the ones that have thus far caught my attention. All of which have new season’s coming to Netflix this year. Marco Polo is a good meeting in the middle point between the afore mentioned shows. It lacks some of the sarcasm of Orange is the New Black while still finding points to be humorous. Marco Polo also brings drama and human interaction without hitting quite so close to home as House of Cards.

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Marco Polo was of course a rather famous explorer. His father was a merchant that went back and forth on the silk road. While I have not exhausted all historical avenues, the series does not venture too far off  the path of the believable. Really and truly it is a Netflix series that is right for more than just the desensitized 20 something’s. Marco, for all his flaws, and he does have some rather silly ones, is a likable man with integrity. Marco chooses his own path. There is a saying I see often on the tattoo’s of feminists that says “She flies with her own wings”. Well Marco isn’t female but he certainly walks to the beat of his own drum. He rarely ever does exactly what you might expect.

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The other characters are just as well portrayed and have so much depth. From Kublai Khan who goes from legend to relatable in this series, to Mei Lin, a dancer in the Song Dynasty court, there is a great deal of diverse characters. Each character has their own agenda, but Marco Polo does a very good job of tying it all together. There are just 10 episodes in the first season all of which you can watch in one sitting if you wish (it is Netflix after all). I love what they do with music in this show. They use the music for dramatic effect to draw out your attention and emotion in a masterful way. Much in the same way the songs from the Hobbit draw you in so does the soundtrack for Marco Polo.

This show is at times both beautiful and brutal but definitely worth checking out.

If you haven’t had the chance to enter our Winter 2015 giveaway click on the picture below!

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Movie Review: I, Frankenstein

In the interest of full disclosure I think I should confess that I have never actually finished Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I am familiar with the story and have seen several movies about the book and using the concepts from the book in various loose interpretations. Having said all that I didn’t let any of that cloud my vision when I sat down to watch I, Frankenstein.

I had some idea of what to expect from this movie from the commercials and because I knew it was in some way vaguely associated with the Underworld franchise. I really enjoy the Underworld movies so I just assumed I would also enjoy this one. Turns out this movie note only is associated with the Underworld films, but the screenplays were written by the same man. That deep voiced, rather gigantic man that we get to see in the Underworld films Mr Kevin Grevioux.

The basic premise of I, Frankenstein is that Victor Frankenstein creates a monster from various cadavers that he plays with for a little while and then discards which of course rather infuriates the monster who takes revenge on Dr. Frankenstein. For whatever reason now that the monster has been reincarnated he is seemingly impossible to kill. He wanders the earth long after Dr. Frankenstein’s death and in that time happens upon some demons who are the baddies in this movies. Demons are of course hunted by heavenly creatures, in this case gargoyles. Considering I grew up on the Gargoyles TV series I really enjoyed this plot aspect though I have heard others complain about it. All in all I enjoyed the film and would definitely watch it again.

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I did not like the lack of real character build up of any character aside from Adam. If the Gargoyle/Demon back story had been a bit better explored the movie would definitely have felt more well rounded. I can only hope if they make a second movie it does a better job of that. It is still worth seeing the film but I do understand that particular gripe.

I, Frankenstein is currently available to stream on Netflix. Go watch it!

Film Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

I am a child of the 1990’s. I actually take a lot of pride in this fact.I grew up watching Dragon Ball Z, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, and all the other awesome shows that were insanely popular at the time.My brother was  Michelangelo for Halloween, and I was the Pink Power Ranger. We played with turtle action figures and the TMNT van. We watched the turtles movies over and over again. I can still tell the difference between each turtle. I’m a fan. When I saw that they were rebooting the series I was pretty excited,Then I saw the actors, which was a pretty good list (other than Megan Fox), but it is a Michael Bay film so I was a little skeptical.

My brother called me up last night and offered to take me to the movies with him and I have learned to never pass up a free ticket and so off we went. It was billed as a kid friendly film, which is fine. I love all kinds of movies and the original turtles were kid friendly, but still hilarious. Pretty much from the very beginning of the movie my skepticism steadily turned into full on dismay. Where were my beloved Turtles? Were was the broody Raph, the comical Mikey, the geeky Don and the way too serious Leo? Honestly there was very little of the new turtles that could even be connected to the characters I know and love. Bay got the stereotypes, but not the soul. I wanted to love this movie, but it wasn’t looking like a possibility.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Quote Poster by WoodPanelBasement, $19.99

Then there was April O’Neil. I was a bigger fan of the turtles than April O’Neil as a little girl but as I grew older I came to really admire the spunk and tenacity of the lovely reporter. She was fearless, and stylish, and a mess at times, but she had a great heart. She also went after the story. Megan Fox as April O’Neil was not something I looked forward to but nothing could have prepared me for the terrible characterization that was brought into this movie. She snapped pictures with her Iphone and skyped her interviews and wined and was a little crazy. It was really painful to watch. This movie was not particularly funny or entertaining. Perhaps if you haven’t seen the original films you might be able to enjoy it but my advice is to go and buy the originals on Amazon. They are currently cheaper than the movie ticket.