Monday, November 30, 2009

Recently Watched

29th Street (1991)
(from Netflix)
Based on the life of Frank Pesce, an actor who won $6 million in the first New York State Lottery in 1976, this comedy focuses on the tight-knit Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn where Pesce grew up. It's also the story of how those gigantic winnings ended up becoming a curse of sorts (a case of "be careful what you wish for").

Frank Pesce is played by Anthony LaPaglia, but the real Frank Pesce plays his brother in this movie. Not a 'Christmas' movie per se, but it opens and ends on Christmas, the rest is flashback.

Where God Left His Shoes (2007)
(from Netflix)
A tight-knit family is forced onto the streets of New York City and into a homeless shelter in this heartfelt Tribeca Film Festival selection from director Salvatore Stabile. With Christmas Eve fast approaching, an ex-boxer is buoyed by the prospect of moving his wife and two children into the relative warmth of a nearby housing project. But first, he'll need a miracle.

DEPRESSING! But very good and well acted. NOT your typical feel good Christmas movie, but if you like real-life grit (not glitzy, life is a bowl of cherries) stories, this one is for you.

Midnight Clear (2007)
(From Netflix)
Stephen Baldwin and K Callan star in this heartfelt tale about despair and the life-altering power of kindness. On Christmas Eve, five small-town residents face loneliness and suicide. But as their lives intersect, they find hope through one another.

DEPRESSING! Why do people think we want to see depressing movies at Christmas, or about Christmas? I want to see elf's jumping around, snowmen talking, Reindeer's flying. Oh well, interesting story, not high on the acting scale, the story had a message which hit home. At least this movie did have a nice ending, it was worth the watch.

Mixed Nuts (1994)
(from Netflix)
Nora Ephron helmed this zany comedy about dysfunctional people, the yuletide and a serial killer at large. Steve Martin stars as Philip, who runs a suicide-prevention hotline staffed by tetchy Mrs. Munchnik and lovesick Catherine. After getting an eviction order on Christmas Eve, the counselors think they've hit bottom -- till they cross paths with an array of wackos, including a psycho St. Nick.

HAHAHA! Funny movie.

It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)
(from Netflix)
Every year, when the O'Connors leave their lavish New York home to spend Christmas in Florida, hobo Aloysius T. McKeever takes up residence in the house in their absence. But this year, daughter Trudy shows up unexpectedly. Posing as a runaway, she keeps her identity a secret, as does her father when he arrives home. The confusion that follows ensures the O'Connors will never forget this Christmas.

This was a fun movie. Typical Classic screwball comedy, but you feel good afterwards.

The Man Who Came To Dinner (1941)
(from Netflix)
Arrogant lecturer Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Wooley) overstays his welcome in an Ohio family's home in this rollicking adaptation of the hit Broadway play. Whiteside slips on the ice on the way to dinner and finds himself on bed rest in his host's home. He takes advantage of his vantage point and sets himself on fixing the family's problems. The stellar supporting cast includes Bette Davis.

I love Monty Wooley, I will watch anything he is in. This was a really nice movie. The acting was great and to see Bette Davis in a supporting is almost unheard of, but she was great. This would be a movie I'd watch every year. Fun Classic comedy.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (2008)
There is no synopsis written about it, so I'll do my best. Henry Winker stars as an uncle who visits his niece. During the plane ride he meets up with a good looking young man who ends up being invited home (to his nieces) for dinner. Winkler plays the matchmaker.

For a Hallmark picture this was really good. Something about Henry Winkler and Christmas movies always makes me laugh, but he is always so good in them.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Really Really Really Look for Different!

Some of these are HARD TO FIND.

A Christmas past: vintage holiday films (1901-1925) - B&W
121 min.
Silent vignettes of the Christmas holiday season, digitally remastered. This WAS NOT my cup of tea, and I like silents (well I like Charlie Chaplin), but I couldn't get into these. If you enjoy short silent films, you will probably enjoy these. Hard to Find

Chicken soup for the soul: inspirational stories for the holidays (2006) - Color
88 min.
Based on the book "Chicken Soup for the Soul" by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen.
Vignettes that are inspirational and thought provoking. From the Chicken Soup Television Series. Although this can't be found everywhere, I think Amazon may have it, or try your local library. I enjoyed it very much, I wish they had a volume II.

Hollywood Christmas (1996)
90 min.
(from Netflix) Actress Jane Seymour hosts this collection of scenes from holiday movies, ranging from classics such as It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas to contemporary favorites Home Alone, The Nightmare Before Christmas and A Christmas Story. Deleted scenes and footage from other films feature chanteuse Rosemary Clooney singing "Welcome Christmas, Little Friend" and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in a 1944 animated short.

Roots: The Gift - (VHS only) (1988)
100 min.
(from NY Public Library) The characters of Kunta Kinte and Fiddler from Roots are back in this movie. In this movie the two of them accompany their owner to another plantation at Christmas time and they learn that the son of the owner helps slaves escape. And the two of them try to help him and also see this as an opportunity to escape themselves. Hard to Find

Santa Claus: A&E Biography (2005)
50 min.
(from Netflix) This installment of A&E's popular "Biography" series traces the personal history of Santa Claus, from his origins in fourth century Turkey to his immortalization in "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and modern appearances on the big screen. Despite the commercialization of Christmas celebrations, the "Jolly Old Elf" remains a symbol of what is worthwhile about the holiday season: generosity, kindness and goodwill toward men.

The Vicar of Dibley: 10th Anniversery Specials (2004) - Color - Starring Dawn French
100 min.
(from Netflix) The holidays are always eventful for the eccentric residents of Dibley and their female vicar, Geraldine. In "Merry Christmas," Alice spots a supermodel in her undies in the vicarage. It isn't long before the entire village believes that Gerry is one of the first lesbian vicars in England. In "Happy New Year," the villagers have plans to give Gerry a birthday present she'll never forget: a blind date.If you are familiar with the British series "The Vicar of Dibley", you will know doubt have seen this one already, if not, it is not necessary to watch the series to enjoy the crazy people in this village.

The Vicar of Dibley: Christmas Specials (2006) - Color - Starring Dawn French
108 min.
(from Netflix) Christmas is in the air at the vicarage -- or could it be love? -- in this festive pairing of holiday specials plucked from the hit Britcom's 2006-07 season. With the busiest time of year fast approaching, Geraldine finds herself distracted by charming "townie" Harry Kennedy. But when Harry pops the question and Geraldine returns with a resounding "yes," their big day threatens to become a big disaster.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Have Yourself A Merry Little White Christmas with George Bailey

OK, here they are. I don't need to introduce the stars of the season.

Heidi (1937) B&W - Starring Shriley Temple.
88 min.
(from Netflix) When 8-year-old Heidi is orphaned, her mean Aunt Dete takes her to the mountains to live with her even meaner grandfather, Adolph. Heidi's eternal charm soon warms her grandfather's heart, and the two become great friends. But when Aunt Dete returns and steals Heidi, Adolph sets out on a quest to find the girl and bring her home in this sweet classic from Hollywood's golden age. Another one of those movies that aren't directley related to Christmas, but a much watch during the season. Don't bother with any version but this one.

Holiday Inn (1942) B&W Starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire
101 min.
(from Netflix) Tired of the bright lights of showbiz, Jim Hardy, retires to the countryside to become a farmer. He converts the farm into the Holiday Inn, open only on holidays, then competes against his pal for a singer-dancer's affection.

Going My Way (1944) B&W - Starring Bing Crosby
130 min.
(from Netflix) This classic musical drama that tells the tale of singing Father O'Malley, sent to take over the aging and cantankerous Father Fitzgibbon's parish.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Color - Starring Judy Garland
113 min.
(from Netflix) Director Vincente Minnelli's masterpiece of Americana about the trials and tribulations of the St. Louis-dwelling Smith clan is one of the greatest American film musicals ever lensed. Judy Garland stars as Esther Smith, who just can't ignore the "boy next door". Leon Ames is papa Smith, and young Margaret O'Brien is unforgettable as the rambunctious Tootie. Songs include "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "The Trolley Song."

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) B&W - Starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.
132 min.
Like I even need to put a synopsis for you here. C'mon, if you've never seen this, crawl out from under your rock and go to your nearest Library or Video rental store and watch it already. ZuZu's Petals are waiting!!

The Bishops Wife (1947) B&W - Starring Cary Grant and Loretta Young
103 min.
(from Netflix) This Christmastime angelic intervention sparkles with good humor. Dudley the angel is sent to help a bishop and his wife survive their attempt to finance a new cathedral and the strain it's putting on their marriage. The Bishop's Wife includes complex undercurrents, especially when the bishop sees Dudley as a rival for his job and his wife.

The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) B&W - Starring Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman
126 min.
(from Netflix) Reprising his role as good-natured Father O'Malley, Bing Crosby stars in this delightful, Oscar-nominated film. The priest gets sent to help the financially struggling St. Mary's Academy, presided over by Sister Benedict. O'Malley finds his leadership style at odds with the nun's as the two bicker politely but work together to save the school and teach the children. Fine songs and appealing characters make this film a treat.Best if you watch "Going My Way" first.

White Christmas (1954) Color-Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney
120 min.
(from Netflix) War buddies turned entertainers who fall for a pair of sisters. The boys follow the girls to a resort, which is owned by their former commanding officer, and he's in danger of losing the place. What better reason to stage a show than to keep the resort out of hock?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Not The Same "Old" Christmas Movies

Before I make a post about all the beloved Christmas movies from the Golden Age of Movies, I'd like to post these. Older movies that fly under the radar. If you didn't grow up in the 40s, or are not a classic film buff, you may not know that these movies are Christmas movies. All of these I've seen (except 1).

Beyond Christmas (1940) B&W - Starring Harry Carey.
84 min.
Alternate Title: Beyond Tomorrow
(from Netflix) When three lonely millionaires invite a cowboy and a schoolteacher for Christmas Eve dinner, their two guests fall in love. But when the three old men are killed and return as ghosts, they find their matchmaking efforts are not yet complete. Can the kindly spirits bring the lovers together for good?

The Shop Around the Corner (1940) B&W Starring Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullivan.
98 min.
(from Netflix) Klara and Alfred fall in love, even though they've met only as pen pals and don't know each other's names. Over Alfred's objections, Klara is hired in the shop where he works. As they continue their loving correspondence, they embark on a combative working relationship. What will happen when the truth comes to light?

This was remade into "You've Got Mail". However, the original has more of the Christmas feel.

Remember the Night (1940) B&W - Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray.
94. min.
(from IMDB) Just before Christmas, Lee Leander is caught shoplifting. It is her third offense. She is prosecuted by John Sargent. He gets the trial postponed because it is hard to get a conviction at Christmastime. But he feels sorry for her and arranges for her bail, and ends up taking her home to his mother for Christmas. Surrounded by a loving family (in stark contrast to Lee's own family background) they fall in love. This creates a new problem: how do they handle the upcoming trial? (Hard to Find) - but Turner Classic Movies shows it now and then.
*As of this writing, I've not seen this one yet.

The Great Rupert (1950) Color - Starring Jimmy Durante
88 min.
A vaudeville team fallen on hard times finds salvation in a trained squirrel named Rupert in this film from special-effects pioneer George Pal, who used his Academy Award-winning animated puppetry technique to bring the title character to life here. When Mr. Amendola begins to find cash hidden in the walls of his family's tiny apartment, the police suspect he's a crook. Soon, however, they realize that the real ""thief"" is Rupert!

Another one of those "I never knew it had anything to do with Christmas" movies.

I'll Be Seeing You (1944) B&W - Starring Ginger Rogers Joseph Cotten, and Shirley Temple.
85 min.
(from Netflix) It's Christmas time, and convict Mary Marshall is on furlough from the state prison she calls home. Although she's not optimistic, she hopes the holiday will be truly magical -- and that it becomes when she meets Zachary Morgan on the train. She's worried, though, about what he'll think when he finds out the truth about her. But little does she know that Zachary is harboring secrets, too.

I had no idea what to expect here, but this was a very good movie. One that slips under most people's radar as there is no mention of Holiday or Christmas in the title.

Holiday Affair (1949) B&W - Starring Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh.
87 min.
(from Netflix) Connie Ennis, a young widowed mother who has an unfortunate first encounter with department store clerk Steve Mason, inadvertently causing him to get fired just before Christmas. Despite the mishap, Steve takes Connie on a date, much to the chagrin of her better-established suitor, Carl, but much to the delight of her young son, Timmy, who would much prefer Steve to Carl as a stepdad.

Adorable movie, I came across it looking for other Christmas movies as I got tired of the same old things.

The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) B&W - Starring Bob Hope.
91 min.
When the Lemon Drop Kid accidentally steers Moose Moran's girl away from a winning bet, he is forced to come up with $10,000 to repay the angry gangster. Fortunately it's Christmas, a time when people can be persuaded to part with money for the right cause. (Hard to Find)

The Trouble with Angels (1966) Color - Starring Rosilind Russell and Hayley Mills.
110 min.
(from Netflix) Two teenage girls who turn a staid convent upside down with their youthful glee and zany antics (for starters, invading the nuns' quarters and substituting soap for sugar in the kitchen). Although the pair winds up in loads of trouble, their charm wins everyone over, including the Mother Superior. But soon, storm clouds brew.

Not a Christmas themed movie, but some of it takes place during the Christmas season. Enough so I can include it here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Scrooge Visits 34th Street and Connecticut

A Christmas Carol - Scrooge

How many versions are there? A lot, and I didn't even list them all. I've listed only those worthy of inclusion, which are most of them.

Scrooge (1935) B&W - Starring Seymour Hicks as Ebenezer Scrooge.
78 min.
(from Netflix) This striking adaptation of Charles Dickens's holiday classic is notable for its superb performances, a vigorous script, excellent pacing, persuasive settings, costumes that utterly capture 1843 London and impressive moving-camera photography with atmospheric lighting reminiscent of German expressionist cinema.

Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol (1938) B&W - Starring Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge.
69 min.
Not a bad version, butnot the best.

A Christmas Carol (1951) B&W or Tinted - (Alternate title: SCROOGE) Starring Alastair Simms as Ebenezer Scrooge.
86 min.
The best version of the lot. The best acted as well, this is the movie that always gets me in the Christmas mood.

Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962) Color-Animated.
53 min.
(Jim Baccus) is the voice of the visually impared but lovable Mr. Magoo. This storyis treated as a stage play, complete with closing curtains between acts. The music (yes this has music) is my favorite. I don't think there is a better animated adaptation of this classic story.

Scrooge - The Musical (1970) - Color - Starring Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge.
113 min.
OK before you crawl into a ball anddie at the fact that they made this classic story into a made for TV musical….don't. It was GOOD. Albert Finney's acting probably saved thismovie, but it wasn't as annoying as you would think..."Thank You Very Much".

An American Christmas Carol (1979) Color - Starring Henry Winkler.
98 min.
(from IMDB) In Depression-era New England, a miserly businessman named Benedict Slade receives a long-overdue attitude adjustment one Christmas eve when he is visited by three ghostly figures who resemble three of the people whose possessions Slade had seized to collect on unpaid loans. Assuming the roles of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future from Charles Dickens' classic story, the three apparitions force Slade to face the consequences of his skinflint ways, and he becomes a caring, generous, amiable man.

A Christmas Carol (1984) - Color - Starring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge.
100 min.
Pretty good version, much more serious than the 1951 version, darker, but well acted.

A Christmas Carol (1999) - Color - Starring Patrick Stewart as Ebenezer Scrooge.
95 min.
This is my second favorite non musicalversion of the story. Patrick Stewart was a believable Scrooge although I miss the hair.

Miracle on 34th Street (1973) Color - Made for TV - Starring Jane Alexander.
100 min.
I've not seen this one, but it got a low rating on IMDB. (Hard to Find)

Miracle on 34th Street (1994) Color - Starring Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins.
114 minutes (too) long.
URGH! It ain't Natalie! They changed the names of the stores. Mr. Macy and Mr. Gimble are no more.

Everyone knows Miracle on 34th Street. If you are in the United States, you will probably see it today, as they always show the 1934 version on Thanksgiving. But there are other versions. I've only seen two of them, the other two are hard to find, but it would be a treat to be able to see them one day.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - B&W or Tinted - Starring Natalie Wood.
96 min.
The original and still the best. Using all the original names of the stores (Macy's and Gimbles), fantastic acting, flawless story. A must see every year!

Miracle on 34th Street (1959) Color - Made for TV - Starring Ed Wynn.
60 min.
Never seen this one either, not very high rating on IMDB. (Hard to Find)

Christmas in Connecticut is probably one of those movies you want to watch, but never do. I suggest you do. Watch the 1945 version if you can first.

Christmas in Connecticut (1945) - B&W - Starring Barbara Stanwyck.
102 min.
(From Netflix) Elizabeth Lane, a magazine columnist who touts herself as a blissful wife, mother and expert homemaker living on an idyllic Connecticut farm. Trouble is, it's all a lie. When her pudgy publisher cooks up a scheme to boost circulation by having Elizabeth entertain a war veteran on Christmas Eve, will her charade unravel? This is a feel good movie, one that should become a Christmas staple.

Christmas in Connecticut (1992) Color - Starring Dyan Cannon, Kris Kristofferson, Tony Curtis and Richard Roundtree.
93 min.
You would think with a cast like this, it would be something special. It was just all right. See the Barbara Stanwyck version before you waste your time with this. At least you will see how it is supposed to be.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday Movie Listings

In between reading, I watch movies, as you all know. Christmas is no exception. I love Christmas movies, they are my favorite. I've seen a lot of Christmas movies and want to see many more. Many people do not know how many movies there are out there that have Christmas themes.

I thought it would be fun, and helpful to anyone who would like the information, to compile a comprehensive list of most of the Christmas movies out there.

Why am I doing this? Because over the years, my search for Christmas movies has been tough. I find some on a site here and some on a site there. I get suggestions from friends, I hunt IMDB, Netflix and my Local Library site for Holiday/Christmas movies.

I've seen about 1/2 the movies on this list so far, well maybe more than half.

I will not post them all at one time, there are almost 200 Christmas movies. Yes, that is right almost 200, and Hollywood doesn't seem to be slowing down with them.

Starting on Thanksgiving day, I will start posting my lists. They are grouped, and there is a method to the grouping, but don't worry about that. Just enjoy the list and I hope you find something new and interesting to watch this year. Maybe even a new favorite.

Happy Holidays.

Addendum: As I was compiling this list, I realized that there are ALOT of movies. It would take me at least 2 months to put only a few movies in per post. So I decided to combine them. The posts may be long, but they will be less frequent. According to my list, I have about 175 movies, and don't know if I will share them all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Yes, I'm still alive

Thanks for the inquiries, I am doing well. The surgery went well, the recovery went well. I went back to work today. My reading suffered some, so I'm behind. I did listen to "The Thirteenth Tale" some over my home stay. I'm almost done, after more than a month of listening.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Liturgical Year - the spiraling adventure of the spiritual life by Joan Chittister

“The Liturgical Year: the spiraling adventure of the spiritual life” takes the reader on a journey through one year of the liturgical calendar. The book briefly talks about the basics of liturgical life. The adventure starts with Advent and takes the reader step by step through each pinnacle of the Christian year, including Christmas and Easter. It also speaks of ordinary time and Marian feasts. Nothing is left out and it gives a glorious full picture of the joys of the Christian year, and why each day is special in its own way.

I am a weekly church goer, and I have tried to understand the various parts of the year, but could never quite grasp the meaning of certain periods of the year. This book opened my eyes to the beauty behind the purpose and reason for each day. I also was pleased that this book was not overly technical with the theology. It was written for the layman. Joan Chittister wants us to understand and appreciate our faith and the gifts it offers. I think she was successful with this book.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I will be getting my gall bladder removed today. Hopefully it will be a 1 2 3 thing, and I will be back home tonight. I made sure I went to the library and got some loot for the week ahead.

Reading and watching is going to take up most of my time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A-Z Wednesday

A-Z Wednesday is hosted by Vicky of Reading at the Beach

Welcome to A-Z Wednesday!!
To join, here's all you have to do:
Go to your stack of books and find one whose title starts with the letter of the week.
1~ a photo of the book
2~ title and synopsis
3~ link (amazon, barnes and noble etc.)

Be sure to visit other participants to see what book they have posted and leave them a comment.(We all love comments, don't we?) Who knows? You may find your next "favorite" book.

This Week's Letter is "N"

'Night Mother by Marsha Norman

A daughter, Jessie, and her mother, Thelma (referred to as "Mama" in the play). The play opens with Jessie calmly telling Mama that by morning she'll be dead, as she plans to commit suicide that very evening (she makes this revelation all while nonchalantly organizing household items and preparing to do her mother's nails). The subsequent dialogue between Jessie and Mama slowly reveals her reasons for her decision and her life with Mama and how thoroughly she has planned her own death, culminating in a disturbing yet unavoidable climax.

I don't often read plays, but this was suggested by a friend. I loved it. Very touching. A quick and sad read. I haven't seen the play or movie starring Sissy Spacek. The movie is very hard to find, but it seems to be on youtube. Go figure.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas Challenge Updates


As I was surfing around some blogs I saw that somebody did a Winter Reading Challenge in 2008. I thought that would be a good challenge for me to try, of course I'd have to modify it as I'm in the midsts of many challenges. So, I think I'll attempt to read 5 Christmas themed books between November 1st and December 25th. I may actually read more, but I want to be successful at my mini-challenge.

Christmas Themed Books Read in 2009

1. A Treasury of Christmas Miracles - Karen Kingsbury

2. Skipping Christmas - John Grisham




* * * *

Winter Reading Challenge
Hosted by
Book In Hand

So I was looking through my blog list today and the person I got the original idea for the Winter Reading Challenge is doing it again this year, so I also joined that. It all fits together so nicely. If you would also like to join this one, please go to Book in Hand: Winter Reading Challenge.

The rules of this one

The Winter Holiday Reading Challenge will last from November 1, 2009 to January 31, 2010.

The theme for this challenge is Winter Holidays. The books that you choose to read must have a storyline that includes celebrating a winter holiday, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's, etc. (However the holidays are not limited to just these examples.)

You may choose the number of books you wish to read and a reading list is optional.

Read the complete rules on the website listed above.

1. A Treasury of Christmas Miracles - Karen Kingsbury

2. Skipping Christmas - John Grisham

* * * *

Since I don't want to be a spoil sport, I will also do an 'official' challenge. This one runs from November 26, 2009 - December 31, 2009

The Christmas Reading Challenge:
Hosted by The True Book Addict

will run from Thanksgiving Day, November 26 through New Year's Eve, December 31, 2009
you can choose 1 - 3 books...I know it seems a small amount, but it's a busy time of year and the challenge is only a little over a month.

These must be Christmas novels, books about Christmas lore or a book of Christmas short stories (sorry, no children's books, but YA novel is okay).

* * * *

Monday, November 9, 2009

Holiday Movies - Starting early

The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941)

In this television adaptation of the hit Broadway play, Monty Wooley, who plays Sheridan (Sherry) Whiteside overstays his welcome at the home of an Ohio Family. He slips and falls on the ice on his way to their house for dinner. He is told that his hip is fractured and he requires bed rest.

His stay puts a cramp in a lot of people's style including his secretary played by Bette Davis.

I've always liked Monty Wooley, and I loved him in this. This is also one of Bette Davis' better roles.

It takes place during Christmas so it is an appropriate movie to watch during this time of year.

4 out of 5 stars.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008)

This movie based on a short story by Louisa May Alcott was aired on the Hallmark Channel. It was pure Hallmarkian. A struggling widow is trying to support her 3 children, and they will not be able to afford a Thanksgiving turkey. The widow's estranged mother (who is rich) shows up unexpected. There are a lot of wounds and a lot of dysfunction, but it all comes together in the end. After all, it is Hallmark.

I give this 3 out of 5 stars. I don't know if it was the story or the production. It was just OK for me. It is a nice film though, very family friendly.


My job has blocked blogger. I can see it, but I can't post or answer comments. URGH!

I will be doing all my posting from home.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

It's never to early to read Christmas books. This is the only book I borrowed from the library this week. Still reading one from last week and also working on an audio book. Not to mention, the other books I have on order are still in a queue. I hate waiting for books sometimes.

And only 1 DVD this week. Not technically a Christmas movie and I love Kinkade, so I hope this will be a sweet movie.

Hoping to have more loot to share next week.

A-Z Wednesday

A-Z Wednesday is hosted by Vicky of Reading at the Beach

Welcome to A-Z Wednesday!!
To join, here's all you have to do:
Go to your stack of books and find one whose title starts with the letter of the week.
1~ a photo of the book
2~ title and synopsis
3~ link (amazon, barnes and noble etc.)

Be sure to visit other participants to see what book they have posted and leave them a comment.(We all love comments, don't we?) Who knows? You may find your next "favorite" book.

This Week's Letter is "M"

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

For this novel of French bourgeois life in all its inglorious banality, Flaubert invented a paradoxically original and wholly modern style. His heroine, Emma Bovary, a bored provincial housewife, abandons her husband to pursue the libertine Rodolphe in a desperate love affair. A succès de scandale in its day, Madame Bovary remains a powerful and arousing novel.

AWESOME. I listened to this on an audiobook. I was pleasantly surprised that it was good and that I enjoyed it. I do often read/listen to Classic novels, but when I read the synopsis I thought "sounds pretty boring", but it wasn't. It was suspensful, surprising and just good story telling.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mario Lanza Documentaries

If you are not into opera or classic movies, you've probably never heard of Mario Lanza.

Mario Lanza (January 31, 1921 – October 7, 1959) was an Italian American tenor and Hollywood movie star who enjoyed success in the late 1940s and 1950s.

He has done a handful of movies, some of the most memorable ones are "The Great Caruso" and "That Midnight Kiss".

I love to read and watch things about famous people, and since I'm a Mario Lanza fan, I was happy to hear of a more recent Documentary that was a special feature on the movie "The Toast of New Orleans".

The documentary "Singing to the Gods" was very accurate according to my knowledge. There is a book by the same name, although I have not had the pleasure of reading it yet, but it is on the TBR short list.

"Singing to the Gods" was produced in 2005. Like most documentaries, it touches on his childhood, his rise, his movie career, his singing career, his personal life and tragedies. Interviews with the people who knew him, including one of his daughters and his personal trainer. It was well produced & well put together. When I watched it, I didn't think much of it. I thought it was an accurate portrayal of Mario Lanza.

A few days later I watched "Mario Lanza: The American Caruso", this one is the 1983 documentary (I even watched in on VHS, talk about retro!) Placido Domingo was the narrator.

I'll start by pointing out the parts I enjoyed:

1) I liked the scene where Placido showed us Mario Lanza's childhood notebook, and how he was looking for a 'stage' name at a very young age. How he came up with Mario Lanza (his birth name was Alfred Arnold Cocozza). He took his mothers name - Maria, and masculinized it, and then used her maiden name. I thought that was pretty cool and something I had not known about him.

2) I liked hearing all of his children talk about their parents.

3) I enjoyed the candid shots of the family.

4) The were accurate about his title "The singing truck driver". He was never actually a truck driver, he occasionally backed up the truck near his father's store, but for years they called him that and that is a fallacy.

Now, what I didn't like:

1) I adore Placido, but he should stick to singing and not speak in English. Is accent was so thick, I could hardly understand what he was saying (and I live in THE BRONX), Spanish accents are like second nature, but even I couldn't get all of his words.

2) The started the documentary with his movie career and showing clips. I didn't mind this so much, but it was a half an hour before they got to his childhood, and that was so brief, if you blinked you would have missed it.

3) And the part that got my goat!!!!!!! That he was killed by the mob....C'MON!
They were saying he died of a heart attack, which I believe is false, I believe he really died of a pulmonary embolism caused by his Phlebitis. His Phlebitis is a well known fact, and he having a pulmonary embolism from it is not hard to believe. The conspiracy theories made me angry. That the nurse was paid by the mob to do something to his IV that would make it appear that he had a heart attack.

Mario died in a weight loss center that used a twilight sleep and IV feeding to induce weight loss. Mario had done this time and time again with success. And although his rapid weight fluctuations could have very well caused a heart attack, I doubt it.

So the whole mob story just ticked me off. Why does it have to be the mob? Because he was an Italian American? Why can't he just have died, young and tragically?

See, now I'm in rant mode. LOL!

So the break down is:
Singing to the Gods gets 4 out of 5 stars
Mario Lanza: The American Caruso gets 2 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October Reads - October Watches

Closing the gap to my goal of 75.

Books 58 - 66

58. When the Heart Cries - Cindy Woodsmall
59. The Last Song - Nicholas Sparks
60. Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom
61. Night Flight - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
62. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate - Jacqueline Kelly
63. The Christmas List: A Novel - Richard Paul Evans
64. The Well: David's Story - Mildred Taylor
65. Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain - Meier & Henderson
66. Crossing Over - Ruth Irene Garrett

No goals for movie watching, just keep a list for my own sanity. I'll start with #254 for the year since I haven't been putting a running total in this blog. Yes I watch a lot of movies, but this is a slow year. Last year I was on movie #254 in July!

Movies 254 - 282

254. Beetlejuice
255. Son of Frankenstein
256. White Zombie
257. Salem's Lot (1979)
258. Ghostbusters
259 Where The Sidewalk Ends
260. Highlander
261. Ghost Story
262. Trick r Treat
263. Quarentine
264. Unforgetably Evil: Documentary
265. Chris Rock: Kill The Messenger
266. Tales of Terror
267. I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
268. If…
269. O Lucky Man!
270. Drag Me to Hell
271. The Haunting of Molly Heartly
272. Ghostbusters 2
273. The Objective
274. The Haunting in Connecticut
275. Last House on the Left
276. Fallen Angel
277. Bedlam
278. House of Wax
279. Mr. Sardonocus
280. School of Rock (Rewatch)
281. The Stepfather (1978)
282. A Murder of Crows

As you can see, October is filled with Horror pictures. Now that the month is over, you will see an increase in Holiday fare.

Are there any THANKSGIVING Movies?


You know I love to research stuff, movies especially. Here are some Thanksgiving themed movies I've found. Some I've seen, some I will see. If I have seen, you will see my comments in red. All descriptions from

What's Cooking?
109 min.
What happens when families come together for Thanksgiving? Almost anything! Sit back, relax and enjoy this "generous and charming" (The New York Times) tale of four very different families as they cook up some tasty holiday surprises: love, betrayal and even a few outrageous secrets! And, ultimately, discover the astonishing power love has to reconnect us all.
I think this is the best Thanksgiving movie I've ever seen. Not only does in integrate cultures, it has a touching story that will keep you involved right until the very end. Highly Recommend.

Who Made the Potatoe Salad?
90 min.
Michael, a young San Diego police officer, is so thankful that his beautiful girlfriend Ashley has accepted his marriage proposal that he decides to meet her family over Thanksgiving dinner. But nothing can prepare Michael for what Ashley's family is about to serve up: Her dad's a Black Panther, her brother's a thug, and her grandparents – well, they've got it goin' on...and on and on! By dessert time, Michael has to wonder whether his first meeting of the prospective in-laws should be his last in this delectable comedy that'll leave you begging for seconds!
This was cute, but average. A fun way to pass 90 min.

One Special Night

92 min.
Two strangers take refuge in a small cabin during a stormy winter night and, despite their differences, or because of them, they are undeniably drawn to one another in this holiday classic that demonstrates once again the charisma that has made them two of the world's most beloved stars.

Hannah and Her Sisters

103 min.

Hannah and Her Sisters spins a tale of three unforgettable women. The eldest daughter of show-biz parents, Hannah is a devoted wife, loving mother and successful actress. A loyal supporter of her two aimless sisters Lee and Holly, she's also the emotional backbone of a family that seems to resent her stability almost as much as they depend on it. But when Hannahs perfect world is quietly sabotaged by sibling rivalry, she finally begins to see that she's as lost as everyone else, and in order to find herself, she'll have to choose – between the independence her family can't live with...and the family she can't live without.

My second favorite Thanksgiving movie of all time. Family interaction at its finest. Woody Allen hit the mark with this one.


107 min.

Dutch Dooley, a working-class good guy who’s the new boyfriend of a wealthy big shot’s ex-wife. But when the woman’s spoiled son refuses to come home from his Southern prep school for Thanksgiving, Dutch volunteers to pick the bratty boy up for a road trip back to Chicago that quickly goes hilariously wrong. From fireworks fiascos to hitchhiking with hookers, can a man who’s really just a grown-up kid find a way to bring out the child in a little jerk?
I laughed and laughed. This was a delightful and funny movie. Kids will enjoy it too.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

93 min.

Given the presence of both Steve Martin and John Candy, one would expect this John Hughes comedy to be much, much funnier than it is. Certainly it's not for lack of effort on the part of its stars. Martin is an uptight businessman trying to get home from New York for the holidays. But one thing after another gets in his way--most of it having to do with Candy, a boorish but well-meaning boob who takes a liking to him. Together they travel all over the map; no matter how hard Martin tries to shake him, he can't. But Hughes's writing is never as sharp as it should be and this film winds up being only intermittently humorous.

I thought it was funny enough to keep me entertained.

Son and Law

95 min.

An insouciant college student asked by a friend to pretend to be her fiancé over Thanksgiving break, thus discouraging a jerk back in her hometown from proposing. Shore's character agrees but is given a hard time by the girl's salt-of-the-earth family of farmers. The hero and the friend character have a crush on each other, and now that they have an opportunity to explore romance, their relationship is threatened by poor his tests of rural manhood.

Pauley Shore stars in this, and I'm not a Shore fan, however, I thought this was pretty funny. Shore does some dumb slapstick, but all in all, the story was fun, and romantic.

The Myth of Fingerprints

91 min.
A Sundance Festival special, this indie family comedy-drama was given unduly harsh treatment by critics when it was released. Starring as the long-estranged son of an emotionally distant father, Noah Wyle comes home to his family for Thanksgiving in hopes of reconnecting with his old girlfriend, and receives unexpected results. But he's not the only one coming back. There's the brother with a cute fiancée, who doesn't quite understand what all the tension is about. There's the glum sister who is down on love and everything else until she connects with a childhood acquaintance. And Mom is there to referee it all. But the central conflict involves Wyle and his father.

I couldn't finish this one. I sat through 30 min or so and turned it off. It was too slow, I was bored to tears. I will try again.

Home for the Holidays

103 min.

Holly Hunter plays a Chicago-based single mom who--on the day before Thanksgiving--loses her job and is informed by her daughter of the latter's intention to surrender her virginity while on a weekend-long affair. If that's not enough, Hunter's character then has to fly to Baltimore to join her fractious family for another difficult Thanksgiving. Robert Downey Jr. is terrifically charming as her prankish, gay brother, and Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning show plenty of comic resilience during the predictably interesting Thanksgiving dinner scene. The script by W.D. Richter (Brubaker) avoids the usual clichés in family dramas--the deepest, darkest secret revealed here involves the painfully sweet revelation of a 40-year-old crush. Jodie Foster, directing her second feature, focuses instead on the inevitable softening of old grudges and disappointments with time. This is a wise as well as wonderfully fun movie.

I tried to sit through this one, for Downey Jr., but I found I couldn't. I will try again this year. If I can't, I will give it up.

Pieces of April

80 min.

The plot of Pieces of April, a sweet independent film, couldn't be simpler: As a raffish young woman named April struggles to cook Thanksgiving dinner in her dingy, cramped New York apartment, her estranged family slowly drives toward the city, stopping now and then to question why they're going to a meal they expect to be not only bad to eat, but awkward and unhappy. The writing, acting, and directing of Pieces of April ranges from straightforward to clumsy--and yet the movie builds to a surprisingly potent emotional conclusion. Much of the credit goes to wily Patricia Clarkson, who plays April's cancer-ridden mother with a compelling mixture of sadness, rebellion, and wistful hope.

This wasn't a bad flick, I sat through it.

The House of Yes
85 min.

This film was the toughest of the bunch to embrace, based as it was on a self-consciously quirky off-Broadway play about Thanksgiving at the home of a particularly strange family. Oldest son Josh Hamilton comes home from college for the holidays, with fiancée Tori Spelling in tow. What he hasn't told her is that his twin sister, Jackie-O (played by Parker Posey), thinks she's Jackie Kennedy--or that he and Jackie-O have shared more than, shall we say, filial affection. Posey is wonderfully edgy and she and Hamilton spar with entertaining vigor, but you still have to cope with writer-director Mark Waters's pretentious script.

NO! I hated this film so much, I wanted to dig my eyeballs out with a spoon!

For Children

Stories of Thanksgiving
34 min.
This holiday collection includes these 2 titles: Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message The Pilgrims of Plymoth A comprehensive activity guide with exciting ways to enhance early language and literacy skills. K-4.

Molly's Pilgrim
24 min.
Based on the beautifully sensitive book by Barbara Cohen, this live-action film examines the plight of a young Russian-Jewish emigrant who has come to the United States to escape religious persecution. "Molly's Pilgrim" carries a message about religious tolerance and other American values, Thanksgiving, and growing up, and can be appreciated on many different levels. Winner of the 1985 Academy Award for best live-action short film.

I saw it, I loved it. My daughter loved it too. Great for children and adults. You learn about tolerance, which we all seem to forget.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008)
90 min.
In this moving Hallmark Channel drama based on a short story by Louisa May Alcott, struggling widow Mary Bassett is trying to support three children, but money is so tight that they can't even afford a Thanksgiving turkey. An unexpected visit from her estranged -- and moneyed -- mother means Mary can prepare a proper holiday meal. However, it will take more than a feast to heal this family's emotional wounds.
I plan to watch this one in November. I see mixed reviews, some say it was decent, others say it was awful.