Showing posts from December, 2008

Escape from Sobibor (1987)

Jon and I first saw Escape from Sobibor many years ago, and it made a huge impression. It was just as good the second time. It's the true story of the only concentration camp to stage a successful revolt--about 300 prisoners escaped. (There were a couple of revolts at other concentration camps, but they were not quite as successful.) This is an inspiring and moving film, definitely worth seeing. And though the subject matter is awful, of course, it's not gory; we actually watched it with our kids and then talked about World War II and the holocaust.

Bring It On (2000)

I've seen bits and pieces of this on TV over the years, but I just recently watched the whole thing, uninterrupted. (Or maybe it was a little interrupted; I think I watched in on , but it's not there anymore.) It's a pretty good high school flick, though more crass than I hope my own teenagers will be. (One can hope.) Possibly even up there with my all-time 1990s favorites, Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You .

Holiday Movies!

I've watched many a mediocre feel-good holiday movie in the last month or so, partly because our tiny library had a recent influx (I'm thinking ABC Family might be selling a cheap package deal of which they took advantage) and partly because I've been knitting crazily, trying to finish Christmas gifts. So here they are: Snow (2004) A bad guy steals one of the reindeer and the newest Santa--young, unmarried and good-loooking--goes looking for him at the zoo that bought him, where happens to work a possible future Mrs. Claus. Cute, harmless, certainly silly at times but not overly sappy. Mrs. Santa Clause (1996) A musical! Which made my kids a little fidgety, but we made it. Angela Lansbury is Mrs. Claus, who's feeling underappreciated and takes off with the reindeer and the sleigh to try out a new route before Christmas and, due to reindeer injury, ends up living incognito in 1910 New York for the week before Christmas. The movie introduces women's suf

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

I think this is the first graphic novel I've ever read, and it's definitely worth reading. The author tells about her life as the daughter of freethinking parents in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution. It's a very quick read and even though it's told from a child's perspective, there's plenty to think about.

What About Bob? (1991)

My favorite scene in this movie is where Richard Dreyfuss's character chokes and Bob goes to heroic and hilarious measures to save him, after which the family gathers around Bob congratulating and celebrating with him, while the deserted dad lies gasping for breath on the couch. I have to admit, though, that the first time I saw this, I didn't enjoy it much, because Bob reminded me too much of someone I knew at that time.

Iron Man (2008)

I watched this to see if the kids could watch it (answer: not yet). I didn't expect to like it, but I really did. (I know I could fast-forward through any offensive parts in this and other movies. But I'm pretty sure the fast-forwarding would only happen the first time, while I was watching it with them. After that, the kids would just remember that they'd seen a movie, not which part to skip. But they can wait a little while. They might think it'll kill them, but it won't.)

Joy School by Elizabeth Berg

This was another enjoyable novel by Elizabeth Berg. The main character is a 13-year-old girl trying to figure out how she'll fit in to a new place and school. She's true to life and more evidence of Berg's talent with characterization.

Fever Pitch (2005)

I was surprised to find that this is actually very good, but less surprised when I saw that it's based on a novel by Nick Hornby. It's a romantic comedy, but it's meatier than most, addressing questions about how to make a relationship work by compromising without becoming a subservient shadow of yourself. I really liked it.

Never Change by Elizabeth Berg

This is one of several books by Elizabeth Berg that I read recently. So far I haven't found one I didn't like, although I have mixed feelings about this one because of how it deals with the subject of assisted suicide. Still, I liked it. I'm impressed with Berg's ability to capture different personalities and insecurities.

The Dance (2007)

The script in this film is better and the characters more complicated than in most LDS films, but I was still distracted by signs of mediocrity. Like the fake disco music at the dance, which seemed to be attended by about twenty people. Of course, I've never been to a young adult dance in Boston; maybe twenty people is a good turnout, but I'm guessing not. However, it is based on a play (by Carol Lynn Pearson), which would also be sparsely populated. Also, the title could use a little work. I did like the characters, who were more varied and had more depth than usual.

The Wendell Baker Story (2005)

Written by Luke Wilson, who also stars, and directed by Luke and his brother Andrew Wilson, this was surprisingly charming and funny. It's about a laid-back, not yet financially successful con-man who's stringing his girlfriend along until he can make some real money. But then he gets caught and goes to prison, where he seems to be having such a good time that his girlfriend dumps him for good. Regret and reformation ensue as he tries to win her back after he's paroled. Besides Luke Wilson, you get Eva Mendes as Doreen the girlfriend, Owen Wilson as the slimy operator of a "retirement hotel," Will Ferrell as Doreen's new boyfriend with a real job (manager of a grocery store), and several other entertaining and well-acted side characters. I really liked it.

Mediocre (or worse) movies I watched recently

Jon was out of town for two weeks straight and I ran out of TV shows to watch online. And as I've said before, I try not to watch anything too good without him. So there's my excuse for watching (and sometimes even re-watching) crappy stuff. Only You (1994) Predictable. Marisa Tomei is pretty irritating, but Robert Downey Jr. is cute and Bonnie Hunt is always a pleasure. In retrospect, I am also annoyed by the picture on the DVD cover, which shows "Faith" dressed in her wedding dress, apparently dancing in an Italian fountain. And the back of the case shows her on a bike with "Bob" (oh, sorry, I mean "Peter"). But those scenes never happened in the movie. Why? Head Over Heels (2001) I think this was the movie that actually used pronouns correctly after prepositions (as in "There's nothing going on between him and me" instead of the increasingly prevalent "between he and I" and other similar horrors). But I can

My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)

This doesn't follow the typical formula, does it? And I have to admire that. Still, I think it's kind of an annoying movie. Also, watching it in 2008, it's hard to get over the size of Julia Robert's mobile phone.

Traitor (2008)

Saw this in an actual theater, which is always something to celebrate. It was very exciting, well-acted, surprising. I have to agree with Eric Snider, though, who said the movie had "a tendency to bring up hot-button issues, frown thoughtfully at them for a few moments, then set them down again before moving on to the next superficially treated topic." There are some interesting concepts here, but they're not deeply entertained. But it was an entertaining couple of hours. Note: Eric Snider used to write a humor column in BYU's newspaper The Daily Universe back when Jon and I were there. Now he's a film critic, but he still writes funny stuff, too.