Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)

It's always satisfying to discover that a beloved movie of my youth is actually a good movie. I loved The Journey of Natty Gann when I was a teenager, mostly because of John Cusack, who was cute, of course.

He's still cute, but aside from that, this is just a good movie. Good acting, good Depression-era story that's fairly realistic, good cinematography. It's pretty serious for little kids but not too serious, especially if accompanied by some history and explanation.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Four Christmases (2008)

Seems like Jon and I always get to the go the movies when there's nothing particularly enticing playing at the time. We weren't super excited to see Four Christmases, but it was much better than I'd anticipated. The acting by all is stellar ('cause they're stars, you know), and it's perfectly written. I loved it.

Another brief foray into LDS fiction

The Independence Club by Rachel Ann Nunes

This does a fairly good job of getting into the heads of several older single women, some divorced, some widowed. It's a different group to feature in LDS fiction (at least according to my experience, which is not great). There are too many characters to get involved in their stories very much, but it was okay.

This Just In by Kerry Blair

With this book, I decided officially that Kerry Blair is my favorite writer of LDS fiction. This one is funny and intriguing and combines romance and mystery/adventure in a very satisfying way. I loved it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My new addiction

Now that TV is available online (as it always should have been), here's what I've been watching:

The Office: Of course.

30 Rock: Very funny, and differently from The Office.

Ugly Betty: The last episode of the first season was a masterpiece. It's getting less interesting, but I still enjoy it.

Lipstick Jungle: Maybe this is entertaining to me because the women's lives are so different from my own. Or maybe because the people who write it have no idea how successful relationships work, but they're trying.

Chuck: Oh, I love this. The action is over the top and the plots impossible, but who cares when it's so funny. I love that Buster from Arrested Development is on it now. Buymoria rules!

Grey's Anatomy: I had never seen this before a few weeks ago, and now I'm totally into it. What a soap opera! But with way better acting, some funny lines, a decent set, and some very interesting, improbable though possible medical conditions. I'm watching it on surfthechannel, and I'm almost at the end of the third season, so don't give anything away from the fourth or current seasons, please.

Jon has mentioned the word "intervention" in reference to me and my TV watching, so I'm trying to keep it reasonable. But the Interwebs make it so easy!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Believe (2007)

The acting in this LDS film (though not outright LDS) is better than usual, probably because of the mockumentary format. (Or maybe this crowd of LDS actors is just really good at playing MLM sales people because of personal experience? Actually, I have no idea if they're all LDS.) This movie successfully reminded me of every in-home sales pitch we've ever had (and of a couple of particularly unpleasant out-of-home experiences), which made it an uncomfortable movie to watch. And yet Jon thought that it didn't sufficiently explore the yuckiness of having friends and family and church acquaintances hit you up to buy stuff or "start your own business." (He did not use the possibly made-up word "yuckiness;" that's me.)

Admittedly, for those of us who are returned missionaries, there is an interesting connection to explore between preaching the gospel and being a sales person. But I am too tired to address that right now.

It might be worth it to see this movie just for the inspirational MLM song performed by a real member of Air Supply.

The Starter Wife (2007)

In this TV mini-series, Debra Messing sometimes channels Lucille Ball, and it's wonderful. Maybe she's been doing that all along (I didn't see Will and Grace often enough to notice), but I loved it here. It's not outright comedy like I Love Lucy was, but there are plenty of funny spots, especially the dream sequences that parody famous films. I really enjoyed it. As of right now, you can watch the entire mini-series on hulu.com.

Wimbledon (2004)

I think this is a better-than-average romantic comedy. Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany are both good actors, and there's more to the story than boy-meets-girl, etc. I guess it's about how love makes you a better person, and that's a good message. Also, I really like a rom-com that ends with real commitment, instead of some vague promise that the right people are together, at least until someone even more right comes along.

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg

As the subtitle suggests, this book of short stories is liberating. Elizabeth Berg is great at getting into her characters' heads and explaining their actions, however bizarre. Most of the time, though, their actions are pretty familiar, and it's only amazing that it feels like the author has been in my head.

In Her Shoes (2005)

This is a surprisingly good movie, much more than a romantic comedy. Well-written and well-acted, with some pretty serious elements in the story. I read the book a while back, which is also good, but the first scene in the book is graphic and fairly shocking (an odd way to start a book, I thought), while the same scene in the movie is a little easier to take. The characters have more depth than you'd expect. Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz are excellent, as is Shirley MacLaine, who is always a delight, but a less abrasive delight than usual here.