Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Errand of Angels (2008)

I'd heard that this movie was really good (although I can't remember where I heard that now), and my expectations may have been too high. It captures some experiences of sister missionaries in a German-speaking country, so that was fun for me, (because I served a mission in the Dresden, Germany, mission from 1992-1993). There's a lot of German in it, which was also fun, though some of it is oddly translated in the subtitles. There isn't much of a plot, although what plot there was stayed true to what might actually happen on a mission. It's definitely one of the better movies targeting an LDS audience, but not as dramatic or moving as God's Army or its sequel, States of Grace.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

I read this because I wanted something similar to North and South and because I'd never read it. It was funny and well-written but very long. Also, all the characters were extremely frustrating, even the "good guys." But that's kind of the point of this book--everybody has faults. Definitely interesting to read about the antics of those who manage to pretend they have money. In some ways, not much has changed.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

North and South is a mid-19th century about the clash between rural southern England and industrial northern England, but "clash" is really too strong a word, probably left over from when I was under the mistaken impression that it was a book about the American Civil War. (Because there was that mini-series called North and South, though I've never seen it, and I don't know why it has stuck in my head for many years.)

Anyway, I feel silly that I am just now beginning to discover Elizabeth Gaskell, who wrote novels and short stories in the mid-1800s. I'd never heard of her until I took a class on the Brontes at BYU, in which I learned that she wrote a biography of Charlotte Bronte. Much later, I became aware of some of her novels, but I didn't read anything by her until my friend Adrienne gave me Wives and Daughters for my birthday (thanks, Adrienne!). I think I started reading that just because she'd given it to me and I felt a certain amount of pressure to read it (not directly from her, I hasten to add; I just made it up myself). I loved it.

Maybe if I'd been an English major, I would have read her in college? I don't know. I was a Comparative Literature major. I'd like to know if she's included in a typical English literature education. Anybody know?

So I finally picked up North and South at a time when I was fairly desperate to find something I'd enjoy reading. And I loved it, too! There's a delightful love story that drags on and on just as it should in a Victorian novel; there are funny characters, though maybe not quite as funny as Jane Austen's; and in this novel, there's a lot of interaction between the leisure class, the manufacturing class (I don't know exactly what to call that class, but I mean the factory owners), and the working class.

I raved about it to my sister Leah, who's watched the BBC production and now also read the book. She loves it, too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Flash of Genius (2008)

This was our other in-flight movie, and it was good. It's another painful story, though. Worth seeing.

The Duchess (2008)

Watched this on the way to New York. It was better than I'd anticipated, though difficult to watch--I guess I haven't thought about the double standards of our Western past for a while. I'm interested in reading the book on which the film is based, Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman, now published as The Duchess. It's a biography and not historical fiction, which makes it more interesting to me than otherwise.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Last Holiday (2006)

This is not a great movie, but I really like it. Part of it was filmed in the Czech Republic, and there are a few conversations in French (with subtitles, but I could follow them) and one in Czech, in which I recognized one whole word! I know that's ridiculous, but I was pleased. I also love the message of the movie and that the main character is played by Queen Latifah and not by one of the more common emaciated ladies of Hollywood.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Read this on the way to New York. It was entertaining and pleasant, and I was only slightly bothered by how the main character makes horrible decisions almost exclusively and is rewarded ridiculously in the end.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)

For Zed's birthday, we took all the kids and Jon's parents to an actual theater to see this. All the funniest parts were shown in the trailers, but we still enjoyed it. I like Kevin James.

Picture Perfect (1997)

This was not that good. Surprise.

Mamma Mia! (2008)

I do have some meatier posts coming up, but I'm getting all the fluff out of the way first.

I watched this while trying to decide what Jon and I should see in New York (we went at the end of January). Mamma Mia! is playing on Broadway there right now, but it was not our choice. The movie was okay. Definitely fun to see seasoned actors singing and dancing to beloved Abba songs; they were obviously having a delightful time. But what a lame story! I don't regret seeing it--who doesn't love Abba?--but it's fluff. (I think Jon said he'd still be interested in seeing it live sometime, though.)

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

After seeing Twilight, I thought I was ready to tackle the the fourth book in the Twilight Saga. I guess it pulled me in, because I read it in under 24 hours (I was taking a sick day, okay?), but I didn't really like it. Everything worked out oh-so-conveniently for everyone, but I guess that's what teenage girls want. I still think Twilight is a fun read, with a new and interesting take on the vampire myth, but I kind of wish the other four books had been just one book.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Twilight (2008)

I dragged my feet about seeing this, because I thought I might hate it. When I finally saw it, I was the only person in the entire theater, and now I wish I had been really loud or something. But anyway, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. The part where Edward explains the whole vampire business to Bella is too long and contrived, and they spend way more time up in the tops of impossibly tall trees than I remember from the book, but it's entertaining enough. I think the movie shows the sexual tension between Edward and Bella even better than the book did, and in a possibly useful way for talking to kids about sex and its consequences.

Closing In by Kerry Blair

After that last Kerry Blair book, I thought I'd try another, but it must not have been as good, because I can't even remember it now. Or maybe I should have waited to read the next one. Or I could have written about it earlier.

Benji (1974)

I had never seen this before, and I had no idea it was quite that old--I was four when it came out. It was slow-moving but still kind of sweet, with lots of cheesy music to accompany Benji's meanderings. Oh, and a montage of doggy love! Or maybe that should be puppy love, literally.