Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Tail of the American Dream

Don Bluth’s fourth animated feature film, An American Tale came out in 1986 and it wasn’t until this movie that he became a known name. I had actually never even seen An American Tale until recently but I had seen An American Tale: Fievel Goes West quite a few times. It feels almost blasphemous to say this but I liked the sequel more than the original, even though Don Bluth (who is my favorite director) was not involved in making it. That’s not to say that this isn’t a great animated classic, because it is but I think there were just too many people involved in making the final decisions on the actual film.

One of the reasons why this film did work though and why it captured the interest and hearts of all that saw it, other that the fact Don Bluth directed it of course, was that Mr. Bluth had one of his best voice actors Dom DeLuise, on board as the voice of Tiger the cat. It is a role that he has reprised in every sequel to An American Tale, and that’s including the TV cartoon Fievel’s American Tales.

I’ve always thought it was kind of cool that this actually was the first animated film to ever beat out a Disney animated movie (The Great Mouse Detective) in theaters. The next Bluth movie was The Land Before Time and it managed to surpass another Disney animated movie as well(Oliver & Company). Which of course made the Disney company realize that they actually had competition and caused them to work harder on their films, resulting in Disney’s The Little Mermaid and several more wonderful films. So in a roundabout way, Don Bluth is partly responsible for some of my favorite animated movies and this gives me even more reason to love him.

The American Tale Sequels:
An American Tale, An American Tale: Fievel Goes West, An American Tale: The Treasure of Manhattan Island, & An American Tale: The Mystery of the Night Monster

~Official Site

Trailer:


Somewhere Out There Music Video:

Movie Clip-Never Say Never:


Related Reviews
The Animated Films of Don Bluth by John Cawley
Banjo the Woodpile Cat (1979)
Xanadu (1980)
The Secret of NIMH (1982)
The Land Before Time (1988)
Thumbelina (1994)

Who Could Plot a Murder Better Than a Mystery Writer?

At Annie Laurance’s Death on Demand bookstore on Broward’s Rock Island, South Carolina, murder most foul suddenly isn’t confined to the well-stocked shelves. Author Elliot Morgan’s abrupt demise during a weekly gathering of famous mystery writers called the Sunday Night Regulars is proof positive that a bloody sword is sometimes mightier than a brilliant pen.

With Annie in the unenviable position of primary police suspect, the pretty young mystery maven and her wealthy paramour, Max Darling, embark on an investigation into a classic locked-room mystery with high stakes. For failing to unmask a brutal and ingenious killer could mean prison for Ms. Laurance. While success would mean her death.


This was the first book that I ever had read by
Carolyn Hart. I discovered her books through a friend and although she has two different series I decided to go with the one centered around a mystery book store called Death on Demand, which is also the title of the very first book in the series and the name of the series itself as well.

Although I liked the story, the characters, and the mystery, there was just one teeny, tiny little thing about this; and I’m guessing every book in the series, that irritated me to no end. Since it is a mystery only book store it does make sense though. On almost every single page at least one mystery author and/or their books were mentioned. I’ve only started reading straight mysteries (I’ve read them in mixed genre before) in the past couple of years so a large majority of the people mentioned I have no clue who they are!


I did appreciate the author suppling sketches of the island and the floor plan of the bookstore to help the reader with the mystery but although I did enjoy having more than a vague picture it’s not what ultimately gave away the murderer. I’m not going to say how I figured it out but I will say it wasn’t the same reason that either of our fine "detectives" gave!

Death On Demand Series
1. Death on Demand (1987)
2. Design for Murder (1987)
3. Something Wicked (1988)
4. Honeymoon With Murder (1988)
5. A Little Class on Murder (1989)
6. Deadly Valentine (1990)
7. The Christie Caper (1991)
8. Southern Ghost (1992)
9. Mint Julep Murder (1995)
10. Yankee Doodle Dead (1998)
11. White Elephant Dead (1999)
12. Sugarplum Dead (2000)
13. April Fool Dead (2002)
14. Engaged to Die (2003)
15. Murder Walks the Plank (2004)
16. Death of the Party (2005)
17. Dead Days of Summer (2006)
18. Death Walked in (2008)
19. Dare to Die (2009)
20. Laughed 'til He Died (2010)
21. Dead by Midnight (2011)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Springwater: Five Years Later

Intelligent and outspoken, Jessica Barnes will never make a docile wife, and she’s never met a man who’s wanted anything more. She left her home back East to help her seriously ill brother run the Springwater Gazette, but she arrives in town to find the family in upheaval and the newspaper about to go bankrupt. Ever efficient, and not shy with her opinions, Jessica rolls up her sleeves and takes charge. Springwater has never met a woman like Jessica, a fact which becomes abundantly clear to one of the town’s most distinguished men.

As mayor of Springwater, Gage Calloway can’t stand the way Jessica criticizes his decisions. As a man, though, Gage is finding her a delectable armful he would dearly love to know better. And when a blizzard strikes, stranding them alone, these two strong-willed people find a passion in common they’d never thought possible.


The story of Jessica Barnes is told in the historical western romance called Jessica by
Linda Lael Miller. It’s the fifth book in the Springwater series and there are actually only two more in this series (although Ms. Miller has said she might do more) that I have left to read. I’m pleased to say this is the last of the short ones (150 pages) though.

I have to admit that I was a little upset that Jessica takes place five years after Miranda (in the winter of 1880) but it was nice to meet new people and see how much the little stagecoach stop has grown. It’s actually a town now with a mayor and everything! The people in Springwater and their families have grown a lot as well.

This was such a good story! Jessica was a little harsh and snippy at first for my taste and Gage had his own shortcomings but I liked both of them by the end. I have to admit it was fun to see the two of them match wills though. I can’t wait to come back to this enchanting little town when I read A Springwater Christmas.

Springwater Seasons
Springwater (1998)
Jessica (1999)
Miranda (1999)
Rachel (1999)
Savannah (1999)
A Springwater Christmas (1999)
Springwater Wedding (2001)

Miranda’s Story

Thrown out by her father for bearing an illegitimate child, Miranda Leebrook and her newborn ended up in Springwater completely by chance. But in this kindly town, Miranda finds what she most desires: acceptance and friendship for herself and her baby boy. When rancher Landry Kildare offers her a marriage of convenience, Miranda accepts, and is happy at last to find a place to settle down.

To Landry’s way of thinking, the arrangement is purely practical: Miranda needs a home, and he is desperate for a caretaker for his two mischievous boys. But Miranda’s sweet sensuality soon has his thoughts turning in a different direction. With Miranda as his wife, Landry wants nothing more than to show her all the joys of life, and share with her the daily surprises, special moments, and deepening passion of a marriage that was meant to be.


Miranda by
Linda Lael Miller, is the fourth book in the historical Springwater western romance series; that takes place the fall of the same year that the previous book Savannah was set in (1875). We actually first meet Miranda in Savannah’s book on the first page because Savannah helped deliver her baby.

I thought that this story was actually one of the most exciting and intriguing of all the books in the series. There is actually a villain and real obstacles for the main character to overcome and you get to watch a sweet love slowly start to grow. Miranda may be a fallen woman but she’s still innocent and somewhat naive. I had a harder time with liking her at first that I didn’t have with any other of the Springwater women because although she isn’t
stupid by any means, she is mainly "common sense smart." I did eventually come around though and was rooting for her by the end.

This is another very short story (142 pages to be exact) that I wouldn’t have minded being a bit longer after I got over my initial disinterest in Miranda and started to like Landry (although his occupation makes me kind of sick, FYI: he raises and butchers pigs). I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series soon!

Springwater Seasons
Springwater (1998)
Jessica (1999)
Miranda (1999)
Rachel (1999)
Savannah (1999)
A Springwater Christmas (1999)
Springwater Wedding (2001)

~ I don’t recommend trying to read this series as out of order because although each could stand alone, the plots from the previous books are given away in each successive story.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Love Can Heal All

Savannah Rigbey has made a living pouring whiskey and singing in saloons since she was sixteen years old. She’s come to Springwater to take up her half-ownership of the local bar – but her work begins before she even sets foot in town. On the stagecoach to Springwater, a young girl goes into labor – and Savannah, with her level head and steady hand, aids a gruff doctor in abating a crisis.

Dr. Prescott Parrish has never met a woman like Savannah. Despite her rouge and bangles, she is a virtuous – though decidedly stubborn – woman, who ignites his most infuriating emotions. But behind his prickly exterior, Pres harbors painful memories of the Civil War, heartache that may be soothed by a new and fulfilling love. Slowly, Pres and Savannah begin to see each other for who they really are, with masks removed – and with passion flaring unexpectedly...


Savannah is the third book in the Springwater series by
Linda Lael Miller which I’m currently working my way through. It’s a wonderful historical western romance that takes place in a tiny, stagecoach-stop town (that slowly starts to grow in every book) in the Montana Territory. This story picks up where the last book (Rachel) left off a year later in the summer of 1875.

If I had to pick one of the women I’ve met so far in the Springwater series as my favorite, Savannah would be near the top (after Miss June Bug of course!). She is such a caring and interesting person, which is really surprising considering the hard life she’s had. She’s a brave person too because women in general, didn’t own their own businesses and particularly not saloons! I was very happy with her decision at the end though. I do like all of the men of Springwater but Pres isn’t my favorite (I rather like Trey and Scully). He’s still a very good character though even if he’s a bit rough around the edges.


This was a very sweet story and my only regret is that it wasn’t long enough (all of the "name books" in the series are only 150 pages long unless you read Springwater Seasons which is all of them compiled into one volume)! I’m really looking forward to spending some more time in Springwater soon.

Springwater Seasons
Springwater (1998)
Jessica (1999)
Miranda (1999)
Rachel (1999)
Savannah (1999)
A Springwater Christmas (1999)
Springwater Wedding (2001)

~ I don’t recommend trying to read the series as out of order because although each could stand alone, the plots from the previous books are given away in each successive story.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Even Teachers Need Learn How to Love

Rachel English has traveled to Springwater to take a post as the frontier town’s first teacher. Although the ramshackle schoolhouse – and her half-wild pupils – are not what she has envisioned, Rachel spiritedly makes the best of her new surroundings. But when she takes a stand against the scandalous saloon across the road from the school, she is more than surprised by her own powerful attraction to the bar’s part-owner, handsome widower Trey Hargreaves.

The father of a beautiful part-Lakota Sioux girl, Trey appears to be everything that Rachel, with her proper Eastern upbringing, should avoid. When Rachel’s fiancĂ© died during the Civil war, she turned her passions to teaching, and closed a door in her heart. Now Trey, with his troubled past, is the only man who can soothe her hidden sorrow, and give Rachel a chance to embrace the love of a lifetime.



I really enjoyed Rachel by
Linda Lael Miller. It’s the second book in the Springwater Seasons series and you get to see the little stagecoach start to slowly start to grow into a proper town. Each of the books feature a different woman finding love in the heart of the tiny western town (more of a settlement really) in the Montana Territory a few years after the Civil War. This is the story of Evangeline’s (from the first book called, aptly enough: Springwater, which is set 4 years before this one) school teacher friend Rachel English.

This is only the second book I’ve read by Ms. Miller but what I find most intriguing about her heroines, (besides the fact that they are so well-written!) is that all of them are stubborn, strong-willed women that have seen and endured many hardships. None of them are afraid to get their hands dirty but I guess you had to be pretty tough back then, especially if you were a woman.

The only problem I had with this book is that it’s just too short! Actually the next couple of books in the series are all incredibly short (unless you get Springwater Seasons which is all of the "name" books put together into one novel) but they are still just as rich in detail. It feels good to visit Springwater again!

Springwater Seasons
Springwater (1998)
Jessica (1999)
Miranda (1999)
Rachel (1999)
Savannah (1999)
A Springwater Christmas (1999)
Springwater Wedding (2001)

Here is the song
Lorena that Trey and Rachel dance to.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Two Classic Books In One Fabulous Disney Film

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was the very last of the Disney Studio’s package films and it resembles Fun and Fancy Free in format but in my opinion, this is the best of all the anthology films. I have watched this Disney version of Sleepy Hollow almost every Halloween for as long as I can remember. I was a bit early this year but I also got to see The Wind in the Willows for the first time!

I loved how it not only acknowledges that these two great cartoons are classic books but it is actually what ties the whole movie together! The narrator starts off in the British classics section of the library for The Wind in the Willows because it was written by a British man named Kenneth Grahame in 1908. Then after the cartoon is over we move over to the American classics section and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (written by Washington Irving in 1820) is told.

The story of Wind in the Willows (or The Madcap Adventures of Mr. Toad) is narrated by Basil Rathbone who was a British actor most famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes, which one of the characters (Rat) resembles a bit. I really enjoyed this zany cartoon but no where near as much as Sleepy Hollow.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (or just Ichabod Crane) is narrated by one of my favorite singers from the 1940's, Bing Crosby. He’s wonderful and he does all of the narration, the voices, and the
singing too of course. The cartoon itself is a bit odd because there really isn’t anyone speaking except the bully Brom Bones and Crosby is his voice but you never even notice!

~This is such a great movie that I was sorry when it was over. I actually had to watch it again before I took it back! The current DVD for it isn’t that great (and don’t get me started on it’s lack of bonus features!) Hopefully there will be a better DVD available soon!


Trailer:


Headless Horseman Song:


Related Reviews
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Bing Crosby Films

Sweet & Mysterious Regency Romance

Proper decorum has never come easily to Carlotta Anne Fairleigh – not even tonight, when the lovely impetuous miss is finally making her debut. As she waits to make her entrance, she can’t help wondering about the darkened house next door, the supposedly abandoned home of Hayden St. Clair, the man society has dubbed the "Murderous Marquess". Certainly one small peek through his window before the festivities would be harmless...
And naturally, this latest "adventure" ends in disaster, throughly compromising the budding debutante’s reputation and leaving her suddenly, unthinkably... betrothed! Soon she’s en route to the wilds of Cornwall in the company of the handsome, mysterious marquess whose name the ton whisper with fear and loathing.

Yet there is something thrilling – and surprisingly tender – about her dark, unreachable groom, and the desire in his eyes is undeniable. But before Lottie will surrender to the yearnings in her heart she must unlock the secrets of Hayden’s past, no matter how scandalous– or perilous– they may be.
Title: One Night of Scandal
Author: Teresa Medeiros
Series: Farleigh Sisters, Book 2
Published: August 2003
Publisher: Avon Books
Pages: 384
Genre: Romance

Teresa Medeiros’ book A Kiss to Remember is the story between Laura Fairleigh and "The Devil of Devonshire" Sterling Harlow and is where we first meet Laura’s little sister Lottie. In One Night of Scandal she’s all grown up... but still getting in trouble! I always enjoy Mrs. Medeiros’ romances but I especially like it when she revisits characters from her previous books. All of her stories can be read by themselves but I think you really miss out on the character building if you don’t read the previous book first (which is why I won’t read a series out of order).

It’s almost hard to believe that this passionate young woman is the same "Hellion of Hertfordshire" who appeared in A Kiss to Remember as a little girl. Lottie has grown up so much! I loved how she has so many obstacles to overcome yet she never gives up and continues to fight for what she wants. If you like the old classic gothic romances that Lottie wants to write then I suspect that you will love this book!




The Fairleigh Series
1. A Kiss to Remember (2001)

First Paragraph: Carlotta Anne Fairleigh was coming out. Unfortunately, what she was coming out of at the moment was both her elaborate ball gown and the second-story window of her aunt Diana's Mayfair mansion. She might have managed the latter without incident if the silk flounces adorning the bodice of her gown hasn't become entangled in a nailhead protruding from the inside of the windowsill.

Find Teresa Medeiros Online

Links

Interviews

Source: Library loan, paperback

Saturday, September 22, 2007

"They Want to Be Found You Know"

When I was fifteen, I was struck by a bolt of lightning through an open window of the trailer where we lived… I recovered, mostly. I have a strange spiderweb pattern of red on my torso and right leg, which has episodes of weakness. Sometimes my right hand shakes. I have headaches. I have many fears. And I can find dead people. That was the part that interested the professor…
At the request of anthropology professor Dr. Clyde Nunley, Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver come to Memphis to give a demonstration of Harper’s unique talent. And what better place to have that demonstration than in a very old cemetery?
Dr. Nunley doesn’t bother to hide his skepticism, especially when Harper stands atop a grave and senses two bodies beneath her – one of a centuries- dead man and the other of a young girl, recently deceased. When the grave is opened, Harper’s claim is proven true. The dead girl is Tabitha Morgenstern, an eleven-year-old abducted from Nashville two years previously – a child whom Harper had tried, and failed, to find. The coincidence raises suspicions about her among the police – so she and Tolliver undertake their own hunt to find the killer. They make a nocturnal visit to the cemetery, hoping that Harper can sense something further about the murder.
And then the next morning, a third dead body is found in the grave
Title: Grave Surprise
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Harper Connelly, Book 2
Published: September 26, 2006
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 320
Genre: Paranormal Mystery

I have read many of Charlaine Harris’ books and although it’s not my favorite (the Sookie books hold that claim), her Harper Connelly series is still very interesting. I read the first book in the series, Grave Sight last year and enjoyed it and I’ve recently finished the current book (at least until next month!) called Grave Surprise.


The story was really great and the characters were well-developed but I still don’t care for Harper as much as I should. She’s a physically weak person and for some odd reason that makes me like her less than some of Harris’ other characters. I do think Harper’s talent is really neat though! I wouldn’t want it by any means but it’s still really cool to read about her unique body finding abilities. I can honestly say that I’ve never even heard of any other character in literature with her certain skills.


I am still a bit weirded out about Harper and her stepbrother’s relationship. I picked up on the more-than-sibling feelings in the first book and Harper finally noticed them in this one. I’m not sure what to think or feel about them being together though. It’s kind of odd to me but most people are rooting for them. As long as they keep solving crimes and finding bodies I’ll keep reading!

Harper Connelly Series:
1. Grave Sight (2005)
2. Grave Surprise (2006)
4. Grave Secret (2009)


First Paragraph: I didn't like Clyde Nunley the first time I met him face-to-face in the old cemetery. There was nothing wrong with the exterior of the man: he was dressed like a regular person would dress for the mild winter weather of souther Tennessee, especially considering the task at hand. His old blue jeans, work boots, shapeless hat, flannel shirt, and down vest were reasonable attire. But Dr. Nunley had a smug, smooth, air about him that said that he'd brought me here to be an object of derision, said he'd never believe I was anything but a fraud.


Find Charlaine Harris Online
Official Website
Author's Blog
Facebook


Links:
Author Wikipedia
Struck By Lightning Website


Source: Library loan, hardcover


Related Reviews:

Sookie Stackhouse Series:
1. Dead Until Dark (2001)
2. Living Dead in Dallas (2002)
3. Club Dead (2003)
4. Dead to the World (2004)
5. Dead as a Doornail (2005)
6. Definitely Dead (2006)
7. All Together Dead (2007)
8. From Dead to Worse (2008)
9. Dead and Gone (2009)
10. Dead in the Family (2010)

Aurora Teagarden Series:
1. Real Murders (1989)
2. A Bone to Pick (1992)
3. Three Bedrooms, One Corpse (1994)
4. The Julius House (1995)

5. Dead Over Heels (1996)
6. A Fool and His Honey (1999)
7. Last Scene Alive (2002)
8. Poppy Done to Death (2003)


Anthologies:
Many Bloody Returns (2007)
Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008)

Let's Ride!

The Ghost Rider movie and its soundtrack fit together well but I think a lot of the music itself doesn’t work without the film (and the amazing special effects) backing it up. My favorite song from the movie actually doesn’t appear on some versions of the soundtrack. It’s called (aptly enough), Ghost Riders in the Sky. It’s the only song on the CD that’s not an instrumental piece by Christopher Young and it has been performed by numerous people over the years but on this case it was given a unique sound by the Australian rock band Spiderbait.



I wasn’t too impressed with a lot of the tracks and only three of the instrumental pieces really stood out for me. They are Blackheart Beat, San Venganza, and the last song on the CD, The West Was Built on Legends… just don’t ask me what the chorus is supposed to be saying! The rest of the instrumentals just sounded like other familiar Marvel comic movies but with more of a gothic (and in some songs, western) flavor to it.


Track Listing:
1. Ghost Riders in the Sky- Spiderbait
2. Ghost Rider
3. Blackheart Beat
4. Artistry In Death
5. A Thing For Karen Carpenter
6. Cemetery Dance
7. More Sinister Than Popcorn
8. No Way to Wisdom
9. Chain Chariot
10. Santa Sardonicas
11. Penance Stare
12. San Venganza
13. Blood Signature
14. Serenade to a Daredevil’s Devil
15. Nebuchadnezzar Phase
16. The West Was Built On Legends

~I also have a post on the Ghost Rider movie


Soundtrack News:


Ghost Rider in the Sky Music Video:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Killer Casanova

Eight kidnapped women. All beautiful. All talented. All in danger of having their lives cut cruelly short if police detective Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) and key witness Kate Mctiernan (Ashley Judd) can't locate the elusive "collector" who calls himself Casanova.
From the Deep South to the California coast and back, the hunt is on in this provocative race-against-time suspenser based on the best-selling novel by James Patterson. Ashley Judd plays resourceful, strong-willed Mctiernan. She's the lone escapee from Casanova's hidden lair... and determined to rescue the fellow captives she left behind. Morgan Freeman is Cross, a master at solving the unsolvable. But there's more than his reputation at stake: This time one of this victims is his niece in this "taut, riveting thriller" (Fox-TV).
Title: Kiss the Girls
Release: October 3, 1997
Genre: Thriller
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Based On: Kiss the Girls by James Patterson
Writer: David Klass
Director: Gary Fleder
Music By: Mark Isham
Produced By: David Brown and Joe Wizan
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Run Time: 117 minutes



Kiss the Girls is a mystery thriller based on the book by James Patterson. It’s actually the second book in the Alex Cross series, the first being Along Came a Spider which was made into a movie in 2001, four years after this one. I actually hadn’t seen Kiss the Girls before so when I learned that it not only existed but was the prequel to such a great movie I had to see it! Did I like Kiss the Girls more than Along Came a Spider? No. Did I enjoy the movie? Very much, and I look forward to reading the book soon.

I have yet to see a Morgan Freeman movie that I haven’t liked but that’s not to say I’ve seen all his films because I haven’t. The ones I have seen though are among some of my favorites. Freeman is such a talented, fabulous actor that he can do any role believably and at the same time makes the other actors around him look good too. Ashley Judd (who plays Kate McTiernan) is an okay actress in most of her movies but she is simply wonderful in Kiss the Girls. I was able to figure out early on what Casanova’s occupation was but I couldn’t quite figure out who he was up until the last moment so I was a bit surprised but I loved the ending.

Find Kiss the Girls Online

Film Wikipedia
Imdb.com
Book Wikipedia

Trailer:



Related Reviews
Morgan Freeman- Alex Cross
The Bucket List (2007)- Carter
Wanted (2008)- Sloan

Monday, September 17, 2007

Vote for the Comedian!

Comedy superstar Robin Williams (RV, The Birdcage, Mrs. Doubtfire) plays Tom Dobbs, a comedian who made it to the top by telling it like it is. When he decides to run for president to unleash his trademark comic rants on the powers that be, something extraordinary happens - he wins! From the director of Good Morning, Vietnam and Wag The Dog comes an irreverent comedy hit with a hilarious all-star cast that is sure to win your vote for best comedy of the year!

Title: Man of the Year
Release: October 13, 2006
Genre: Comedy Drama
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Writer: Barry Levinson
Director: Barry Levinson
Music By: Graeme Revell
Produced By: James G. Robinson
Distributed By: Universal Studios
Run Time: 115 minutes

I seriously doubt I would have ever seen Man of the Year had my favorite comedic actor, Robin Williams not been in it. I just don’t care for politics! I do have to say that I am disappointed that Universal Studios thought they had to trick the viewer into watching the film on the pretense of
it being a comedy (watch the trailer if you don’t believe me) though. I was expecting a bit more comedy than conspiracy theory but I was pleased and entertained (even if the beginning is a little slow). 


I’ll be the first to admit that Robin Williams (Tom Dobbs) has made quite a few stinkers but if you don’t mind his (sometimes) bawdy humor and if you think the government has stopped listening to its people than this is the political satire for you. Personally, I’m one of those people who doesn’t pay attention to politics unless it’s something really big and I come from a long line of non-voters but I refuse to turn this into a political debate.


I have heard and seen that Man of the Year didn’t get good reception and there are some pretty bad reviews circulating for it but I honestly liked the film. It’s not Williams' best work by any means nor Christopher Walkens’ (who plays Jack Menken) and poor Laura Linney (who plays Eleanor Green), is hardly even recognized as a main character! I have to say that the movie was interesting though and really makes you wish some of the politicians and government people would take notice. I love this quote, which is of course a line from Mr. Dobbs:


"You know recently a lot of the past administration has said it’s unpatriotic to question the government. You know if it was unpatriotic to question the government we’d still be English.”

~ I have seen the DVD . There was a “Making of” featurette, some deleted scenes, and a short gag reel that serves as bonus features.


Find Man of the Year Online
Official Site
Imdb.com
Wikipedia
ReelzChannel


Links:
Robin Williams Fan Site


Interviews:
About.com Interviews

Trailer:



Robin Williams Interview:



Director Barry Levinson Interview:



Related Reviews
Jeff Goldblum- Stewart
Jurassic Park Trilogy (1997, 1993)- Ian Malcom

An All-Time Good Time!

In the grand tradition of Walt Disney's greatest classics, Melody Time, Disney's 10th animated masterpiece, is a high-spirited blend of music, fun, and fantasy. An adventure in animation and storytelling, this genuine Disney treasure can now be enjoyed by the whole family!

Melody Time is a wondrous showcase of seven classic stories, each enhanced with great music and unforgettable characters. Donald Duck- and all-time Disney favorite- puts on a display of jazzy antics as the star of "Blame it on the Samba." Music becomes a real adventure for a busy bumblebee in "Bumble Boogie." From the mischievous young tugboat in "Little Toot," to the heroes of legend and myth in "Johnny Appleseed" and "Pecos Bill," this feast for the eyes and ears entertains with wit and charm.

Title: Melody Time
Release: May 27, 1948
Genre: Animated- Family/ Anthology
MPAA Rating: G
Based On: Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky
Writer: Winston Hibler, Harry Reeves, Ken Anderson, Erdman Penner, Homer Brightman, Ted Sears, Joe Rinaldi, William Cottrell, Jesse Marsh, Art Scott, Bob Moore, & John Walbridge
Director: Jack Kinney, Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, & Wilfred Jackson
Music By: Eliot Daniel & Paul Smith
Produced By: Walt Disney
Distributed By: RKO Radio Pictures & Walt Disney Productions
Run Time: 75 minutes

I seem to recall seeing Melody Time at some point when I was little but once I sat down for a re-watch, it was like seeing many of the cartoons for the first time. This package film is a lot like a pop-version of Fantasia or it’s predecessor Make Mine Music but it still can hold it's own. I really enjoyed some of these cartoons and others I could have done without but they're from Walt Disney's reign over his studio. I just wish he would have had time to make more.

There are seven cartoons included in this feature... well eight if you count the title sequence and each one is sung by a different person who was popular in the 40's (when this was made). There’s slow music, upbeat and fun music, a recitation of a famous poem, and two shorts about some American Legends. There is one edited scene in Pecos Bill that I wasn’t happy about but I’m just glad it wasn’t completely cut out of the picture!

Here are the shorts in order:
Melody Time- Buddy Clark croons the beautiful opening song during the credits but the theater masks in the animation are incredibly creepy.
Once Upon a Wintertime- I liked the love song that is sung by Frances Langford and I thought the animation was cute and interesting in the fact that the animators used color to express mood. Also, is it just me, or does the boy look like a grown up version of Peter from the Peter and the Wolf short that appeared in Make Mine Music?
Bumble Boogie- This has to be the most interesting instrumental number in the movie! It’s a jazzy, energetic piece that was inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov’s classic Flight of the Bumblebee. The abstract animated sequence is a little odd and reminds me of something that would appear in Alice in Wonderland.
Johnny Appleseed- One of my favorite cartoons in the feature which tells the story of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. There are some really great songs in this cartoon and amazingly, all the voice work (including the singing!) is done by TV personality Dennis Day. Keep your eyes peeled for a chipmunk that bears a striking resemblance to Dale (Chip and Dale)!
Little Toot- This one is cute and it’s based on the children’s story by Hardie Gramatky but it reminds me of some of Disney’s other anthropomorphized machines such as Pedro the Plane. It’s narrated by the wonderful Andrews Sisters but I prefer their other collaboration with Disney, Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet which was in Make Mine Music.
Trees- Is a recitation of the famous poem by Alfred Joyce Kilmer done by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians and set to artistic animation. This is my least favorite of the shorts and it feels really out of place to me but it is very pretty.
Blame it on the Samba- This was obviously left out of Saludos Amigos or The Three Caballeros and it really shouldn’t have been. It’s a fascinating and exotic cartoon straight out of Latin America with live-action performances by the Dinning Sisters and Ethel Smith mixed in with the animation. I wish there were more cartoons of Donald Duck and Joe Carioca, I loved seeing him again!
Pecos Bill- The final cartoon and one of the very best. It’s the story of the American legend himself told by one of America’s legends, Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger. The child stars Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten also make an appearance. Some people might find parts of this cartoon offensive but it’s much better than some of the stuff on TV nowadays.

~ I’ve only seen the VHS. The DVD version includes some other cartoon shorts as bonus features such as Donald Applecore, Lambert the Sheepish Lion, and Casey Bats Again.

Find Melody Time Online

Links
Kiddie Records- Story of Pecos Bill
Disney Shorts- Johnny Appleseed
Disney Shorts- Little Toot
Disney Shorts- Bumble Boogie
Disney Shorts- Once Upon a Wintertime
Disney Shorts- Blame it on the Samba
Disney Shorts- Pecos Bill

I’m not sure where the introduction piece is from (maybe Disney’s American Legends?) but this is the only version of Johnny Appleseed I could find

Part 1:


Part 2:


Blame it on the Samba:

Related Reviews
Dennis Day- The Old Settler / Johnny Appleseed / Johnny's Angel
Frosty's Winter Wonderland (1976)- Parson Brown
The Andrews Sisters- Little Toot singers
Make Mine Music (1946)- Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet singers
Bobby Driscoll- Himself
Treasure Island (1950)- Jim Hawkins
Luana Patten- Herself
Fun & Fancy Free (1947)- Herself

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Disturb + Suburbia = Disturbia

In Dreamworks Pictures' new suspence thriller "Disturbia," the quieter the street, the darker the secrets.

Kale (Shia LaBeouf) has a life most teenagers would envy. He spends his days endlessly playing video games, surfing the net, eating junk food and watching cable. He has complete free reign of the house, and a beautiful young hottie named Ashley (Sarah Roemer) has just moved in next-door.

There's only one problem- he's not allowed to leave the house. Kale's under court-ordered house arrest for three months, and if he takes one step beyond a 100-foot perimeter of the house, his next confinement will be in a real prison. And jail cells don't have video games and cable.

Now he's going stir crazy in his own house while his mother (Carrie-Anne Ross) tries to keep things together by working day and night. As the walls start to close in, Kale starts to notice the world outside. With some secondhand surveillance equipment he begins spying on his neighbors, most prominently Ashely, who soon catches on to him. To his surprise however, she becomes interested in his stakeout hobby. What starts out as a game turns deadly serious when Kale and Ashley begin to suspect that one of their neighbors (David Morse) may be an elusive serial killer. But who's going to be believe them? It may just be their overactive imagination. Or they may have stumbled across a secret that might cost them their lives.

After all, even killer have to live next-door to someone...

Title: Disturbia
Release: April 13, 2007
Genre: Suspense
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Writer: Christopher B. Landon, Carl Ellsworth, & Christopher B. Landon (story)
Director: D. J. Caruso
Music By: Geoff Zanelli
Produced By: Jackie Marcus Schaffer, Joe Medjuck, & E. Bernett Walsh
Distributed By: Dreamworks
Run Time: 105 minutes
Official Site

I’ve been hearing a lot about Disturbia this summer and I’ve looked forward to watching it. The film is a great thrill-ride and what makes it even creepier is the fact that it could actually happen! I mean, just about every serial killer lives next door to someone and a lot of people are getting their kicks with voyeurism nowadays. Scary thought isn’t it?

I loved how smart, funny, and altogether thrilling the movie is. When Shia Labeouf’s character, Kale is doing battle he runs or tries to get help but he does do the stupid “go-investigate-the-killer’s-home” bit but at least he goes somewhat prepared! Labeouf also isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and neither is method actor David Morse who plays the bad guy Robert Turner. During the filming of the fight scene, Morse actually broke some of his fingers!

This is such a great summer popcorn flick that is just a ton of genres thrown into one film… and it still works! The director D. J. Caruso knew what he was doing with this even if it’s essentially a re-imagining of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I thought the movie was still fresh and interesting enough in its own right though. To say that Disturbia is the best thriller I’ve seen this summer would be a big, fat lie but I really enjoyed it and was sorry when it was over.

~ The bonus features were pretty good with some deleted scenes, a music video, a (very) short blooper reel, a “Making of” featurette, and a few other goodies.

Find Disturbia Online
Official Site

Link:

Interviews:

Trailer:


Shia LaBeouf Interview:


Cast Interview:


Music Video:

Friday, September 14, 2007

How Much Pressure Till You Break?

Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling star in the dramatic thriller Fracture. When a meticulous structural engineer (Hopkins) is found innocent of the attempted murder of his wife (Embeth Davidtz), the young district attorney (Gosling) who is prosecuting him becomes a crusader for justice. Fracture is packed with twists and turns that weave in and out of the courtroom as the pair try to outwit each other. The film features an outstanding supporting cast that includes Academy Award-nominee David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) and Rosamund Pike (Pride & Prejudice), is directed by Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear), and written by Daniel Pyne (The Sum of All Fears, The Manchurian Candidate) and Glenn Gers.

Title: Fracture
Release: April 20, 2007
Genre: Suspense Thriller- Crime/Drama
MPAA Rating: R
Writer: Glenn Gers & Daniel Pyne
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Music By: Jeff Danna & Mychael Danna
Produced By: Gregory Hoblit
Distributed By: New Line Cinema
Run Time: 113 minutes

The trailer for Fracture looked so cool that I could hardly wait to see it. I never did get around to watching it in the theater but you’d better believe I snatched up a copy the day it came out on DVD! I almost wish I hadn’t waited so long because it is a great addition to the mystery thriller genre.

The film did remind me of some of my favorite crime TV shows like the CSI’s and the Law and Orders but it’s still really interesting and entertaining all by itself. I’ve heard that the director, (Gregory Hoblit) has called the film a “grainy popcorn thriller” but I’m not sure whether I should agree or disagree. I actually thought that it was smart, sophisticated, and had a bit of wry humor thrown in as well.

Being that I’m a huge Anthony Hopkins fan (Ryan Gosling isn’t that bad either), I had a hard time disliking his character Ted Crawford. He was smart, he was egotistical, but at the same time he was a ruthless killer. Hopkins is such a great actor that you almost want him to be able to get away with what he’s done…. or supposedly done (innocent until proven guilty and all that jazz).

~ The DVD is very skimpy on the bonus features with only a few deleted scenes (which were pretty boring) and two alternate endings that; although interesting, looked almost alike.

Find Fracture Online
Official Site

Interviews
Ryan Gosling

Trailer:


Premiere:


Hollywood.com Premiere:


Ryan Gosling Interview:


Movie Prop Featurette:

Related Reviews
Anthony Hopkins- Ted Crawford
Mission: Impossible II (2000)- Mission Commander Swanbeck
David Strathairn- DA Joe Lobruto
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)- Noah Vosen
Billy Burke- Lt. Robert 'Rob' Nunally
Twilight (2008)- Charlie Swan
Cliff Curtis- Detective Flores
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)- FBI Deputy Director Miguel Bowman
Fiona Shaw- Judge Robinson

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Awakened by a Kiss

Laura Fairleigh needs a husband. If she is to keep a roof over her siblings’ heads, the prim rector’s daughter must wed by her twenty-first birthday. When she finds a mysterious stranger with the face of an angel and the body of Adonis unconscious in the forest and with no memory of his name or his past, she decides to claim him for her own. Little does she know that her fallen angel is really the devil in disguise.

Sterling Harlow, the notorious rakehell known as the "Devil of Devonbrooke," awakens to the enchanting kiss of a lovely young woman who informs him he is her long-lost betrothed. With her sun-kissed cheeks and smattering of freckles, she looks every inch the innocent, but her curves posses a woman’s allure. When she assures him he is the perfect gentleman, he wonders if he’s lost his wits as well as his memory. He would have sworn he was not a man to be satisfied with mere kisses – especially from lips as sweet and luscious as Laura’s.

As he attempts to uncover the truth before their wedding night, a kiss to remember ignites a passion neither of them will ever be able to forget...

Title: A Kiss to Remember
Series: Fairy Tales, Book 3
Published: June 26, 2001
Publisher: Bantam
Pages: 336
Genre: Romance- Historical

I have read several of Teresa Medeiros’ historical romances before and some of my favorites are part of her Fairy Tale Series (they are all stand-alone’s because they’re related by theme only), each of which have the "happily-ever-after" ending that is so essential to both a romance and of course, a fairy tale. If you haven’t guessed, each one of the books in this series is based very loosely on popular fables such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty. This book; A Kiss to Remember, is the Sleeping Beauty but only in the most basic way so I never even noticed.

I love how Medeiros’ took a classic "amnesia romance" story and turned it on it’s ear... actually she turns every classic romance theme like that on it’s ear! I think she is one of the most talented romance writers today because she always presents new and interesting heros and heroines. I especially enjoyed the complex character of the Devil of Devonshire!


~ Laura’s little sister Lottie’s story is told in One Night of Scandal

Fairy Tale Series
1. Charming the Prince (1999)- Cinderella
2. The Bride and the Beast (2000)- Beauty and the Beast
3. A Kiss to Remember (2001)- Sleeping Beauty

The Fairlegh Series
1. A Kiss to Remember (2001)

First Paragraph: Sterling Harlow had to draw up an ottoman and stand on tiptoe to peek out the drawing room window. He might have had an easier time of it if a plump yellow cat hadn't been draped bonelessly over his arm. His warm breath fogged a perfect circle on the chill glass. He rubbed it away with his sleeve just in time to see an elegant town coach draw to a halt in the curving drive of the whitewashed manor house. As a bewigged and liveried footman leapt down from the back of the coach and moved to swing the door open, Sterling leaned forward until his nose touched the glass.

Find Teresa Medeiros Online
Blog (last updated 3/9/10)

Link:


Source: Library Loan, hardcover

Related Reviews
Lady of Conquest (1989)
Shadows and Lace (1990)

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