Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm changing a rating. . . a new movie to see

The Young Victoria (Loved it enough to Buy it)--First, I need to say that I am changing the rating of The Snow Walker to Loved it enough to Buy it, because I did. I bought it. So, this is the first time I've changed a rating but that is because I decided I really loved this movie. And the ending which at first I didn't like, I have now decided that I enjoy that it's not entirely wrapped up and the end. It's a bit ambiguous, and you have to think about the ending. In this case, that was a good way to end the movie.

Now, on to The Young Victoria. I LOVED this movie. I'm buying this movie as well. I have watched it twice already and I could and will watch it again. Now, I'm a history buff. It's one of my hobbies. I love to watch, read, visit, learn about the past. That's why I love to visit Europe and historic sites in the USA. I love to visit museums and old homes. It's as close to time travel as I can get. I feel the same way about movies. It allows me to visit places I will never get to and to be part of experiences that I could never have been a part of. The Young Victoria is one of those movies.

I visited London in July 2009 and there was a billboard of this movie on the train platform in the small town we were staying in. I saw it every morning for an entire week and I remember I put it in my Netflix queue when I returned. It was just released in the U.S. on DVD about one month ago and it went to the top of my list of must sees. The story is compelling and for the most part true. There are a few embellishments, but this is a movie and not a documentary. And, from what I've read about Victoria and Albert, it's close enough to the truth. Besides, it transports you to the reign of a young Victoria and her new husband. It shows how they became the great team they were, and how they were better together than they were apart. Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend where pitch perfect and Victoria and Albert. They had amazing chemistry and the performances were wonderful. They became the two people they were playing. It worked. Their performances show a royal match that actually resulted in love and team work. The film also showed the machinations of royalty and politics, but how in this particular case, love conquered it all. Everyone wants to believe that's possible and it's rare. So, I really enjoyed watching a true case where it happened.

The costumes are terrific (they won an Oscar), the sets look perfect and are lavish, and the acting is top notch from everyone in the production, and I do mean everyone. There really isn't a weak link. I LOVED this. I also want to say, that it's PG and for good reason. No bad language, very little violence, and although quite a bit of kissing (it is about newlyweds), there's NO skin. It's great. Everyone can watch this. Now, as I said before, there are a few poetic licenses taken, but it's close enough and if you want to know the history, watch a documentary. Watch this for the fantasy, the romance (men included, because ALL women want an Albert), the escape, and the feel and look of the past. It's one of my favorites and I'm recommending it to everyone!!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A sports movie

The Express (Liked it)--I liked The Express. I like underdog sports movies. I watch quite a few of them. Rudy, Miracle, Hoosiers, The Rookie, etc., you get the idea. A coworker of mine says you can pretty much write any sports underdog movie (I agree). They're all sort of the same formula, but I still enjoy them anyway. Life isn't always easy and I enjoy watching someone beat the odds. Sports flicks are usually one way of seeing that.

Well, I didn't know anything about Ernie Davie before this movie. The only thing I knew about this film going in is that it had something to do with the Heisman Trophy. I had never heard of this man, but his story was compelling. He was the first African American to win the Heisman. I'm not sure why I hadn't heard of this player before this movie, although the ending may have something to do with that. However, if making this movie helps get the story out there, it was worth doing. I love true stories and this telling was good. The acting was good, especially, Rob Brown, who played Ernie Davis. The story was good, and although the ending was sad and may explain a bit why I hadn't heard of this player before 2010, I would highly recommend it. There is absolutely nothing offensive in this movie. It's PG, so anyone can and should watch this. It's definitely worth a rental.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The reason I'm finally visiting Yellowstone National Park

The National Parks: America's Best Idea (Loved It)--This is a documentary by Ken Burns. I love both Ric & Ken Burns documentaries. Their styles appeal to me. but this documentary is now one of my all time favorites. It is beautiful and should be watched. Rent it, Nexflix it, DVR it, do what you have to do to see this. It's GREAT. I didn't know there were 58 parks in the National Park System. I've been to two (Zion's & Arches) and after seeing this, added Yellowstone to my travel itinerary. I'm going in June with my mom, my stepfather, and my sister.

It's wonderful how Ken Burns combines the history of the parks and their development with the stories of "ordinary" people. These or4dinary experiences are the truly extraordinary part of this series. And I'm not going to lie that I teared up (as I often do) when listening to the stories about John Muir and the Gerkes who toured the parks in the 20's in a series of Buicks. The real tears came when I listened to my favorite story of Tuan Luong who has visited and photographed all 58 parks and has the stamps to prove it. He's a French/Viet Namese man who fell in love with the parks, set a goal to see each one, and did so. I have a goal to visit all 50 states before I die (I've been to 30 and to Washington D.C., but none of the 5 U.S. territories), so I understand his motivation and that's probably why I loved his story so much.

A man at work asked me to find one government program that has worked and my answer was the National Parks. The United States invented this idea and we are the benchmark for the other nations that have followed this pattern. It is a system that provides universal democracy. It allows all men to "own" a piece of the most beautiful and important land this country has to offer. So plan on watching this and then visiting a National Park. There are 5 in Utah, so if you live near me or not so near--GO!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Netflix Streaming is Awesome

The Snow Walker (Loved It)--So occasionally I stream movies on Netflix. It's another way for me to get my movie fix. I just watch them on my computer and I love it. If I don't like a movie, I can instantly stop it and move on to another movies ASAP. It's perfect for me. But yesterday, I started a movie that captured my attention from minute one and I didn't need to find something else to watch until the movie was over. The movie was The Snow Walker. It's directed by Charles Martin Smith. He is the actor that starred in Never Cry Wolf a couple of decades ago, and I loved that movie. It also stars Barry Pepper, who I really like as an actor and I think he's under utilized. He's starred in a couple of my all time favorite movies, so when this popped up on my Netflix recommendations I wanted to give it a try. The movie is based on a short story by Farley Mowat (who also wrote Never Cry Wolf). It's a simple story about a pilot in 1950's Canada, who is taking a native to the hospital to treat TB when the plane hes' flying crashes into the Canadian Wilderness. The pilot, Charlie (Pepper) and the native Kanaalaq, played brilliantly by a non-actor named Annabella Piugattuk, have to survive together in a cold, brutal, and vast countryside. The pilot is cocky and thinks he can traipse out to civilization on his own. He soon finds out this isn't the case and learns to depend on Kanaalaq to survive in such a harsh environment. Anabella is wonderful. They auditioned hundreds of girls and I really think they picked the perfect person for this role. She is a natural and the interplay between herself and Barry Pepper was great. Their scenes together have a natural chemistry and the arc that Charlie has is completely believable. The story is much weaker when civilization and the search party stuff is brought in, but to see how the survival happens and how the pilot learns, is worth the two hours. The ending (which I don't want to give away) was a little weak, but overall, I could watch this again. And, I probably will. It had the elements in a movie that I love. It took me to a situation which I will never be in, but was thrilled to view.