I watched Netflix's Stranger Things over the weekend and LOVED it. This E Online article lists some of the reasons without any big spoilers, but basically if you liked ET, the Goonies and Stand By Me, you will love it, too. Those references are all ones that will surely come to mind since the show is set in 1983 and follows a group of kids trying to solve a mystery. Another story that immediately came to my mind due to the subject matter was Dean Koontz' book, Watchers. Even though two movies were made from the book, neither did Koontz' story justice, so I would like to put in my request now for the Duffer Brothers to tackle that one.
The Duffer Brothers created, wrote, produced and directed Stranger Things. I didn't know anything about them so I looked them up and learned that they are twins, Matt and Ross Duffer, and that I've already seen some of their work since they have written some episodes of Wayward Pines. I was really excited to find out that they are from Durham, NC!
I really can't think of anything I didn't like about Stranger Things. Winona Ryder and David Harbour are perfection as the adult leads and the child actors are incredibly talented, as well. (I fell in love with Gaten Matarazzo's portrayal of Dustin.) From the sets and wardrobe to the cinematography, the 80's "look" of the series is authentic enough that it could easily pass for having been made during that time. (Since Matt and Ross Duffer weren't even born until 1984, this is even more impressive). The series is only 8 episodes long, which is the perfect length in which to tell the story, and it is broken into true chapters that make sense. Add this one to your Watch List! And if you like it as much as I did, let Netflix know they need to greenlight a second series stat -- before these incredible child actors grow up!
Corey Haim died early this morning at the age of 38. I didn't follow
Corey Haim's recent reality show career, but was aware that he battled
problems with addiction. Early reports said he died of an overdose, but
other reports say he was no longer taking drugs. He recently filmed a new movie, which has not yet been released, and was attempting a comeback.
I was past the Tiger Beat age when Haim enjoyed his biggest
popularity so I never had posters of him on my wall or anything, but I
always liked him. I thought he was an adorable kid (who happened to
look a lot like one of my cousins when he was young) and he starred in
one of my favorite movies of all time, Silver Bullet. It is not as well
known as The Lost Boys, which I liked as well, but (in my opinion) is
every bit as good. The movie is based on a Stephen King story about a
little boy in a wheelchair who battles a werewolf with the assistance
of his sister and his kinda crazy, sometimes sober uncle played by Gary
Busey. It was made in 1985 so the special effects are not spectacular,
but the story is funny and kind of scary and sometimes even a little
bit touching -- for a Stephen King werewolf movie anyway. I am not big
on what critics think of movies, but they didn't all hate this one. If
you have never seen it, I recommend you give it a look.
I have followed the ski injury and death of Natasha Richardson this week with sadness. It is sad anytime someone so young loses their life in such an unexpected way, especially when they leave behind a loving husband and children. I am a big fan of Liam Neeson and recognized Richardson's face, but did not realize why she was so familiar to me until this morning when my daughter and I were watching the morning news while getting her ready for school. They showed a picture of Richardson and mentioned that she was in The Parent Trap, something my daughter knew before they even said it. That is one of our all time favorite family movies. We have probably seen it a dozen times. My daughter said "Aww man, that really stinks" when she saw the news of her death. Yes, it sure does.
Update: This is a wonderful story about a little girl whose life was saved because her parents heard about Richardson's death.
A young girl in Ohio who suffered the same brain injury as Natasha Richardson is alive today because her parents
took her to the hospital after hearing about Richardson's brain injury and
CNN reports that Morgan McCracken, 7, was hit in the head with a baseball
during a game with her dad and brother in the family backyard. The girl's
parents iced her injury, and she seemed fine for two days, even getting an A on
her spelling test.
Morgan's mom and dad, Connie and Donald McCracken, learned of Natasha
Richardson's accident, in which she injured her head but was lucid and talking
afterward, and wondered if their daughter was truly OK following the baseball
accident, CNN reports. That night, Morgan began complaining of a headache, so
the family ventured out to the emergency room. Morgan was in such bad shape by
the time they got there that she had to be transferred to a children's hospital
by helicopter, where she was immediately taken into surgery, according to CNN.
My family went to see The Dark Knight last night in IMAX and it definitely lives up to the hype. At Rotten Tomatoes the movie received 94% positive reviews which is pretty darn rare, so I was expecting a lot and it delivered. My husband and I discussed a while back whether or not all the praise Heath Ledger received for his portrayal of The Joker would have been made if he had not died before the movie was released. One of the first things we said after leaving the theater was that he absolutely deserved an Oscar for the role. It was scary and creepy and even, at times, funny (in a sick sort of way). It is sad when any young person dies, but to think of the talent that was lost is doubly sad.
While watching the part of the movie where Batman is riding his Batcycle (or whatever it is called) with his cape flying in the wind I could not help but think of one of my favorite movies of all time, The Incredibles. Those who have seen the movie surely know the reference I am referring to. If you have not seen The Incredibles, by all means, purchase the DVD and treat your family to it. It is a movie for every age. And if you haven't seen The Dark Knight yet, check it out. You won't be disappointed.
I have found it extremely hard to blog lately between doing some work for a candidate here in NC and tending to my kids. My youngest just had her eleventh (or twelfth, I've lost count) surgery and we are still recovering from that. Anytime I decide to take ten minutes to write a blog post I typically end up spending several hours online reading other blogs, reading comments, etc., so lately I have just had to say "no" to blogging.
Every now and then I have to jump in and say a few words though.
My few words this week are about a post by Sarah at Trying to Grok. If you are not familiar with Sarah's blog, please stop by and read her. She is funny and interesting and very candid. The post that caught my attention this week is about the recent rash of anti-war (and some anti-troop) movies that are not doing so well at the box office. Here is a bit of Sarah's post:
The Washington Post put out an article on why the recent crop of Iraq war movies aren't doing so well. What's their take?
For now, Kuntz agrees with Bochco: "We're bombarded by information about [Iraq] 24 hours a day," he says. "We already know plenty about it. We don't need to learn more about it from the movies. Right now, it's something people want to forget and escape from. I speak for the American public when I say, 'What a bummer.' "
I speak for my blog when I say, "What a jackass."
They go through this huge list of anti-war movies and wonder why the public isn't interested. Hmmm, let me take a stab at it: Make a movie like 300, and people will flock to the theater. Make the soldiers the freaking good guys, and you've got yourself a hit; make them rapists or dupes or Tools of the Bushitler Oil Junta, and no one wants to see your damn movie.
Maybe dumb people think the Iraq war is a "bummer" because all your movies present it that way.
Follow the link above to read the rest.
I'll bet if they made more movies about heroes like those on the Vets for Freedom National Heroes Tour people would come to see it. What about a movie about Soldiers' Angels founder Patti Patton-Bader? If a positive movie about members of the U.S. military is too much for the American film industry to swallow, there are many recent heroes from other countries like Lance Corporal Lance Croucher, a Royal Marine serving in Afghanistan who threw himself on a grenade to save the lives of his patrol. There are plenty of stories like these that are not only interesting, but are inspiring as well. But then they might inspire some to join the military. That might be one reason we aren't seeing those kinds of movies about our current crop of heroes. All it will take though is a "Passion of the Christ" type movie to break through and turn the tide. A positive depiction of American troops in Iraq that made really big money might just inspire some copycats. Will we ever see a "Saving Private Ryan" that takes place in Iraq? Maybe, but if we do I am betting it will not be until George Bush has left the White House.
This weekend I took my seven year old to see the Hannah Montana 3-D movie. I have to admit that I enjoyed it-- in spite of the $15 ticket cost.
The glasses were plastic and not at all flimsy and the movie didn't hurt my eyes. It was really pretty cool.
The concert footage was interspersed with backstage stuff, as well as with fan footage that was nothing short of adorable. Unless you think seeing dads don high heels (most held on by duct tape) and race to win Hannah concert tickets and backstage passes is not adorable.
The only complaint about the movie is that the crowd was pretty dead where we saw the movie. My daughter knows all the words to the Hannah songs and jumped to her feet singing and dancing, but then quickly sat down when she noticed no one else was doing it. (The seats were stadium style so even when she was standing up she was not blocking anyone's view.) We went to the movie with one of her very good friends so they danced in their seats most of the movie.
One more thing -- the previews shown before the movie included two 3-D movies that looked promising. One was an animated movie about 3 flies that went into outer space. The other was Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brendan Fraser. I'll be looking out for those this summer.
I took my daughters to see Nancy Drew today and we all loved it! It was funny and interesting and cute and a perfect movie for girls of any age. Probably boys of any age, too. I just don't have any of those. The Nancy Drew character makes it hip to be square. Her sleuthing buddy, Corky, is hilarious. The story is interesting enough that you want to know the secret behind the mystery (although it is pretty easy to predict who the good and bad guys are). There are laughs at the "Martha Stewart"-like qualities that Nancy possesses, but never any ridiculing of all her positive attributes. In other words, the movie does not make fun of the fact that Nancy is conscientious and honorable and honest and smart and modest and old-fashioned. Well, there are a lot of jokes about it, but they are not laughing at those things, but at the reaction to someone who is those things. I know I didn't explain that well, but it is just a really good movie and Nancy Drew is an excellent role model. I go to a lot of kid movies and this is one of the best ones by far. I took my six and ten year old daughters and one of their friends and they all loved it. There was a girl I would guess to be around nine years old sitting in front of us with her mom and grandmother and they all laughed the entire time, too. Lots of good, clean fun, but not so syrupy that it was corny or boring. If you have a daughter, take her to this movie.
I should not have said kids of "all ages." My only reservation is with very young kids. My six year old was fine in the movie, but she has seen the Pirates of the Caribbean so she might not be the best guide. It might have too many violent/scary scenes for a very young child that is easily frightened, but there is no blood or anything like that. It is almost cartoonish violence, although a bomb does explode and Nancy is threatened to be shot (or strangled or stabbed -- it is a long story). My younger daughter really enjoyed it because she has been reading Nancy Drew books this summer, but my ten year old liked it just as much. I think I might have enjoyed it more than both of them. Sorry to gush, but I really couldn't find anything that I didn't like about the movie.
Update:The reviews are mixed. I am really glad I didn't see them before seeing the movie. In my opinion, those who hated the movie seemed to be expecting a film with some heavy significance. It's just fun people! Non-serious fun that it is safe to take your kids to see. That is rare today and that is why I liked the movie so much.
I caught Not Without My Daughter on cable tonight. I had not seen the movie in some time, but it seems more timely than ever watching it now. The movie stars Sally Field and is based on the Pulitzer prize winning book by the same name describing the ordeal of Betty Mahmoody who was held against her will in Iran by her Iranian born husband. She spent two years in Iran before escaping with her daughter in a dangerous trip over the mountains to Turkey. If you have never seen the movie, rent it. It is hard to watch, but it really gives an insight into the way women are treated in Iran.