Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Well, I haven’t been feeling well this week at all but unfortunately I had to work through it. Normally I am working about 70 hours a week so the fact that Monday was the Family Day holiday … so thankful! I firmly believe there should be at least one holiday long weekend every single month.

This weekend I took the opportunity to enjoy a few nights in, some hanging out with room-mate and others with my family, and I brought out the old movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971).

I haven’t seen it since I was a little kid. I totally forgot this movie even existed, although it had some pretty big names in it in its day. If you aren’t familiar with the story, here are the important deets (copied and pasted from wikipedia):

“Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a 1971 British-American musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Productions. It is based upon the books The Magic Bed-Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons (1943) and Bonfires and Broomsticks (1945) by English children’s author Mary Norton. The film, which combines live action and animation, stars Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson.”

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“The film is frequently compared with Mary Poppins (1964), since it combines live action and animation and is partially set in the streets of London. It also features numerous cast members from Mary Poppins, particularly Tomlinson. This movie is great for all ages.

During The Blitz, the three Rawlins children, Charlie, Carrie, and Paul are evacuated from London to the remote village of Pepperinge Eye. They are placed in the reluctant care of Miss Eglantine Price, a reclusive woman who agrees to the arrangement temporarily. The children attempt to run back to London, but change their minds after observing Miss Price attempting to fly on a broomstick. Miss Price reveals she is learning witchcraft through a correspondence school with hopes of using her spells in the British war effort, and offers the children a transportation spell in exchange for their silence. Miss Price casts the spell on a knob that the youngest child, Paul, has removed from the bed in the children’s shared bedroom, and she adds that only Paul can work the spell.”

Well, you know trouble is going to ensue from that, now don’t you?!!

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I was a little nervous that rewatching a movie I had loved as a child would tarnish its image in my mind, but the charm remains. All the tunes in this musical are very catchy. A bit like Mary Poppins, I feel as though Bedknobs and Broomsticks will never age too much to be enjoyable, although it would be neat if they remade it with updated special effects and animation.

Any of the scenes with the bagpipes or military songs are my favourites!

It seems like the movie is available for free from a couple of youtube accounts (which I have no association with). Try these links: First Try     Second Try

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xx

 

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The Finest Hours – a review

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The synopsis:

On Feb. 18, 1952, a massive storm splits the SS Pendleton in two, trapping more than 30 sailors inside the tanker’s sinking stern. Engineer Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) bravely takes charge to organize a strategy for his fellow survivors. As word of the disaster reaches the Coast Guard in Chatham, Mass., Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff orders a daring rescue mission. Despite the ferocious weather, coxswain Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) takes three men on a lifeboat to try and save the crew against seemingly impossible odds.

Deep breathe. Wow.

This movie certainly has anticipation down. I think I was holding my breath for half the movie, and when I left the theatre, my ticket was shredded into ribbons in my pocket from working it through my fingers during the many tense moments in this film.

I love a story that can invoke so much emotion. That is surely the point of creating anything in the first place. The last time I felt so much anticipation in a film was Unstoppable, also based on a true story. I may have to re-watch it and put a blog of here sometime soon.

In the mean-time, go watch The Finest Hours.

One of the best aspects of this movie is that it shows the harrowing events taking place both on-board the stern of the sinking oil tanker, and the experiences of the Coast Guard crew trying to reach them. Both stories were incredibly interesting and could have comprised a movie in themselves, but having both perspectives in the same one shows how incredible it was that the rescue was able to succeed and the narrow odds both crews were up against.

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Although I suspect that some creative liberties were taken in the scenes depicted, mostly due to the extremely dramatic nature, this was still a remarkable feat of will. As I sat in the theatre, I couldn’t help but think how awe-inspiring humanity can be the iron will every man exhibited to keep struggling towards life. From the actions of the sailors fighting to buy time and keep a sinking ship alive for as long as possible, in the hopes (not knowledge) that someone was coming to save them, to the Coast Guard crew who went out on a suicide mission, fully expecting to never even make it to the sinking ship, it was one heroic moment after another.

And the Coast Guard seemed to think their cutter was a surf board, cruising over, and under, massive stormy waves.

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The story made me think of soldiers in war and this movie inspired a whole new level of respect for Coast Guard members, and their families, for the dangers faced and sacrifices made, in serving. We all know that the Navy can be grounded due to poor conditions, but the Coast Guard cannot. Their mandate is to serve; if there is a ship in distress, the Coast Guard will respond.

One of the themes repeated throughout is that the Coast Guard always goes out. They don’t have to come back. This is so very different from the Marine motto of never leave a man behind and it shows the differences in mindset between the two organizations. Management in other corps will weigh the costs and benefits of performing a certain mission, and plan for the least number of casualties possible. The Coast Guard just goes out, because they don’t have the option to re-plan, re-schedule or just the “null”.

Casey Affleck and Chris Pine were both magnificent in this film. Although I was more drawn to Affleck’s character, I couldn’t help but compare Chris Pine to some of his other notable roles such as Captain Kirk (Star Trek) or Prince Charming (Into the Woods), simply because this one was so different. I love versatile actors and consider them one of the greats when they can inhabit such different characters with apparent ease, rather than sticking to the same role in thirty different productions. Chris Pine is surely a great.

Clearly I am a huge fan of The Finest Hours. It brought up a whole lot of similar feeling films that I want to go re-watch now. Hopefully I will get some blogs up on here shortly.

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xx

 

 

The 5th Wave – a review

The 5th wave (2015) is a film based off of a young adult trilogy of the same name, written by Rick Yancey.

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From imdb.com

The human race stands on the brink of extinction as a series of alien attacks decimate the planet, causing earthquakes, tsunamis and disease. Separated from her family, Ohio teenager Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) will do whatever it takes to reunite with her brother Sam. Fate leads her to form an alliance with Evan Walker (Alex Roe), a mysterious young man who may be her last hope. Forced to trust each other, Cassie and Evan fight for survival during the fifth assault from the invaders.

I am confused as to who the target audience of this film was. The books are written for tweens and teens and the movie has the same vibe to similar films, such as Divergent. But the opening scene is of the teenage main character killing an innocent man. And her romantic interest in the movie is a college-aged man, Evan (played by Alex Roe). As a twenty-six year, I was a little squeamish seeing them develop a romantic relationship. Admittedly, Cassie (played by Chloë Grace Moretzseems older than her years and our social constructions of age and maturity might matter little in an apocalyptic world, but I do wish that Cassie’s character would have been a little older.

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I really loved the idea driving the story. I haven’t read this type of story in a while and I am going to check out the rest of the books in the series. I am hoping that they are better written than the film! The film … why is it that 90% of the time I dislike a show or a movie, it is because I feel the writing is lacking? Is writing really that hard?!

The 5th wave starts out great. Interesting and compelling. I liked how the timeline wasn’t entirely linear, I felt that it added depth to the series. I also felt that most of the initial acting was really well done. There are a lot of highly talented and well-known actors in it. Maggie Siff (from Sons of Anarchy) and Ron Livingston played Cassie’s parents and Liev Schreiber (from Wolverine and Ray Donovan) was Colonel Vosch.

– Spoilers ahead –

However, the plot involves turning children into soldiers to fight The Others, and their acting is childish and lacking. It is so bad you almost wonder if it is on purpose…

The director and producers have the children sitting around the barracks, playing cards and gambling in their down-time, the way adults would. To me, it would have been more believable if the kids were running around, playing like children do, when not in training. It was also baffling that the kids were not broken down into teams based on age. Instead, the 7 year olds were mixed in with 17 year olds, and expected to operate as soldiers and snipers in actual urban combat situations. Apocalypse or not, someone that young could never keep up with the older teens, mentally or physically.

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For these young ones, most of their acting was one-dimensional and even the teenagers in the group seemed to accept everything they were told without ever wondering where the non-military adults were… they were all brainwashed way too easily.

Evan on the other hand, Evan I loved.

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I thought that Evan was one of The Others, and I was half-right. I loved Alex’s depiction of him and wish that we could have seen him a little more in action. He was my favourite character in the film, and if they do another, I hope that his role, and his abilities, are expanded upon. Evan is deeply conflicted about his identity and the role he has to play in the war for Earth, which makes him the most interesting and compelling character on the screen.

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Unfortunately, throughout the entire film the plot is utterly predictable – I actually called the “plot twist” just from the trailer. It made the characters seem very stupid and naive to not be suspicious until the end. Call me paranoid, but as soon as the school buses showed up at the refugee camp, I would have been out of there with my kids. I would never have let them separate me from my children. Somehow, the kids who were told that their parents would follow behind never seem to question why they never show up, or why the only refugees taken to the base are children.

It was also obvious to me that Evan had some connection to The Others. He stayed in his family home, completely safe and secure from concern and seemed to have no need to hide. He chopped wood outside for heating and cooking, knowing that there were snipers and drones hunting in the forest, but again, wasn’t concerned and maintained to Cassie that she was perfectly safe in his home, despite her insistence that there is no safe place.

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Evan is H-O-T hot.

In the end, I felt disappointed that what had seemed like such a good idea was so poorly executed. I walked away from the movie theatre feeling let-down, and so did my viewing partner. I still find the idea intriguing and will probably check out the second and third books in the series, to see what happens. Hopefully they are better than the film.

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xx

 

McFarland, USA – a film review

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McFarland, USA is 2014 film, set in McFarland, California in the 1970’s. It is based on a true and very inspirational story.

Trailer via Youtube

If you don’t wan to watch the trailer, here’s the jist of it: a down-on-his-luck high school teacher/football coach and his family move to one of the poorest school districts in the country. Most of the children in this school are the kids of “pickers” (fruit and vegetable pickers in the fields) and are lucky if they graduate. The penitentiary is directly across the street from the school for heaven’s sake. But after Coach White has been fired again, it is the only school desperate enough to hire him.

To make matters worse for the White family, at least in their minds, is that they have to live in this shitty little town because the family cannot afford to live in one of the wealthier, neighbouring communities and commute. Living in a dirt poor, predominantly Mexican community in the very south of California is seen as an extremely temporary and unpleasant experience to start.

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However, as tends to happen in movies, the family resolves to try to make the best of their situation and in doing so, realizes that it isn’t so bad. Mr. White, and his wife and kids make connections with their neighbours, and then others in the community.

After White is removed from the football coaching staff after a disagreement with the Head Coach, he starts a track and field team, visualizing a success story as his ticket out of there and back into an affluent school district.

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The rest of the story you can probably figure out from there. At the end of the day, you don’t watch coming-of-age sports movies for the intrigue. The teacher is either a do-gooder out to save her students, or out to rescue themself from life, but in the process develops all the feels, and begins to care more about his/her students.

I really like the story outlined in McFarland, USA. It is a typical Kevin Costner movie, but I felt that there was a very healthy balance between the sports plot-line and the lives of the runners and the White family.

This was a movie I have been wanting to see for awhile, and I’m glad I finally found some time. It was sweet, enjoyable and entertaining, and gave me a positive feeling at the end of the movie, that carried me through the day.

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My favourite aspect of this film, is the scene depicted just above. During the credits, the typical flash-forward to present day occurs, and you see the retired Coach cycling alongside a group of runners. Intermingled are the cross-country runners of McFarland high school today, with the grown, real men whose stories were told in the film.

In a place where anyone who can get out does, it was amazing to hear how the bond between these men returned them all to McFarland after university. Many now work at the school and are landowners. One even became a police detective (funny story. The camera panned to him and I thought, wow he looks like a cop. Then they say he’s a detective … a hot one too!). This moment was just the icing on the cake for me.

If you’ve read my recent run of film reviews and don’t know which one to pick, choose this one. Hands down, my favourite of late.

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xx

Kingsman- a film review

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Synopsis: A juvenile delinquent is recruited into a top secret British spy agency by a stylish mentor who trains him tin the skills of his craft.

Trailer (via Youtube)

Kingsman is a cross between James Bond and a B teen movie, but somehow it works. I remember laughing at the trailer for this when it was in theatres and declining an offer to go, but I was bored and it was on netflix …

I caught it last weekend and Kingsman was actually pretty entertaining! Parts were pretty fantastical, such the bullet-proof umbrella and the whole slicing a man in half bit. There is an incredible dearth of blood up until the end, despite all the violence. All in all, it was a completely unbelievable – yet amusing – story.

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I was very impressed with Colin Firth’s performance. I love actors who can play a wide variety of roles and this one is about as far from King George as you can get.

My favourite parts were the testing stages, from underwater escape rooms to Halo jumps.

I have a little bit of adrenaline junky in me and it would be cool to do this. Not saying I would do the first, because I don’t actually want to experience a likely-to-die scenario, but it would be an AWESOME story to tell, if you did survive.

There isn’t all that much story in Kingsman, but what is plentiful is the fun. It made me laugh. I said it above, but this movie is very James Bond with all the impossible situations and crazy tech, but I was more so reminded of Ethan Cross, from the Mission Impossible series. Firth’s motto “manners maketh the man” is a good one to live by, and something a lot of us could use the gentle reminder of.

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I didn’t understand the the “R” rating that the movie received. It felt very Disney because despite the violence, there was little blood, gore, or repercussion. I certainly feel that 14A would have sufficed.

Minor, minor spoiler:

The only questionable bit was at the end, where the Norwegian Princess offers the young hero anal sex in exchange for saving the world. If the movie was bumped up to an R rating for that one small line, and a quick glimpse of bare ass, it’s a little bizarre compared to some other movies out there that are 14A.

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xx