mini movie reviews {#4}

And one for books coming (hopefully) tomorrow!

04e1b49d131a16e9702c7e50b2c79c88--vintage-retro-vintage-humor.jpgNewsies (1992) – My obsession of 2014’s summer months (this and the Broadway musical).  The songs are still, and always will be, amazing.  Plus, baby Christian Bale.

The Patriot (2000) – Gory and violent, but beautiful as well, and I was hardly ever bored for its almost-three-hour run which is pretty incredible.  I still don’t like Mel Gibson, though.

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This guy, however…

Rogue One (2016) – My heart is smashed.

An American Tail (1986) – While ‘Fievel Goes West’ was watched wayyyy more than ‘An American Tail’ during my childhood, this movie still brought back plenty of good memories.

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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) – Ever since I watched and loved A&E’s Horatio Hornblower series I’ve been a little obsessed with that period of British history, so M&C was a natural extension of that.  An excellent film.

Texas (1941) – Super young Glenn Ford and William Holden?  YES.  A thoroughly entertaining ‘B’ western.

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A Royal Night Out (2015) – Gorgeous clothes, lots of Glenn Miller, and not a whole lot going on besides that.  Still, it was amusing.

The Four Feathers (2002) – This movie depresses me to death, but I still love it.  Heath Ledger and Wes Bentley and Kate Hudson all turn in these absolutely gut-wrenching performances.  It’s one of those stories that settled really deeply into my heart and soul forever.

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The Secret of Convict Lake (1951) – One of the better westerns I’ve seen.  Several good female characters, which is a bit unusual for a western.  Glenn Ford and Gene Tierney both gave great performances.

The Inheritance (1997) – This is another #childhood movie and it’s super obscure (but awesome) so if any of you have ever watched it, I’d love to know.  It’s a bit similar to ‘Little Women’ (1994), not least of all because both movies are based on books written by Louisa May Alcott, so I might do a comparison post sometime.

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The Searchers (1956) – Deeply sobering.  A truly great western.

Moana (2016) – I’ve seen this three times now, I think, and I like it a lot better now than I did when I first watched it.  The songs are good and/or catchy for the most part, and Maui is a LOT of fun.  Actually, the whole movie is.

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Have you watched any of these movies?  What films have you seen lately?

Eva

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book review: cloaked

36169102.jpgShe never imagined she’d need to flee for her life.

Mary Rose feels uneasy around Mr. Linden from the moment she meets him on the stagecoach ride to her grandmother’s ranch in Wyoming Territory. But he works for her grandmother, so that means he’s trustworthy, doesn’t it? Everyone else seems to view him as honest and respectable, and Mary Rose wonders if she’s overreacting.

She tries to ignore her suspicions until one night, she discovers his real reason for being at the ranch. Now, if she’s going to save her grandmother — and herself — she’s going to need to run faster than she’s ever run before.

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I read Cloaked in one day. It wasn’t hard because the book is shorter than a regular novel and I’m a fast reader, but that wasn’t the only reason I finished it so quickly. The story moved along so well and the characters were so engaging that I had a hard time putting my Kindle down (except once, where I’d been reading for almost three solid hours and my brain was overloaded).

Having recently finished reading the Lunar Chronicles, I was totally in the mood for another fairy tale retelling, and Rachel Kovaciny more than delivered. There were many hints of the original Red Riding Hood story throughout – mainly Mary Rose’s grandmother, Mary Rose’s red cloak, and Hauer’s trade. But Cloaked is very much its own story. Westerns are my favorite genre and this was such a quiet, heartwarming one (though not without its moments of high action – particularly the finale).

My favorite part of Cloaked was easily the characters. Mary Rose was a fine protagonist, very new to the West and the way of life there – it was neat seeing the West through her eyes, as opposed to most western stories I’ve read where the main character has lived there their entire life. Mary Rose was courageous and smart and very much sixteen without being annoyingly so. Her grandmother was a bit hard to ‘read’ at first, but I grew to like her too. The villain is a creep’s creep. Hauer is a dear (and the fact that he’s half-Cherokee made me like him even more and added some great tension to the story).

Overall, a sweet, clean, relationship-centric western that I would recommend to any and all fans of the genre.

I received an ARC copy in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

Eva

movie review: the proud rebel

This post is part of The Alan Ladd Blogathon taking place at Hamlette’s Soliloquy.  You can read the rest of the blogathon posts here.

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Confederate veteran John Chandler (Alan Ladd) returns from defeat in war to find his home razed, his wife dead and his young son, David (David Ladd), traumatized and rendered mute. Desperate to cure the boy, Chandler takes David to a small town in Illinois where he hopes to find a doctor. But, soon after the pair arrives, Chandler finds himself framed for assault — and forced to choose between serving hard time and working for struggling local farmer Linnett Moore (Olivia de Havilland).

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I remember watching ‘The Proud Rebel’ at my grandparents’ house and not taking much away from it except a couple of hazily remembered scenes (mainly one in the courtroom where Linnett talks to the judge and also some bits regarding the dog).  I mostly forgot about it except to sometimes wonder “What was that movie with the dog and the deaf boy?” (I mistakenly thought that David was deaf.)  Then I got rather interested in Alan Ladd and found an old DVD of ‘The Proud Rebel’ in our collection, so I popped it in to watch and when I hit the courtroom scene I was like “Ohhhhhh…I remember you!”.  Very cool feeling.

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Alan Ladd plays John Chandler and his real-life son, David Ladd, plays his in-the-movie son, David Chandler.  Alan Ladd puts in a fine performance as John Chandler, a man looking to move forward from his past as a Confederate soldier as well as trying to find help for his mute son.  I really love the relationship between John and David – the boy is mute, so he has to depend on his father to help him communicate with people.  Their interaction is made even more heartwarming by the fact that they’re father and son IRL.  John and David’s father-son relationship is a huge part of ‘The Proud Rebel’, since John wanting to find a workable treatment for David is what drives pretty much all the action.

Linnett, portrayed by Olivia de Havilland, is one of the best female characters I’ve ever seen in a western.  She’s run her ranch (or is it a farm?) singlehandedly ever since her father (and brother, I think) died.  She’s kind and compassionate, particularly towards David (he steals her heart much sooner than his father does), but she’s also strong and capable and gives John plenty of good advice throughout the film.  Linnett’s farm is threatened by the villain of the piece, Harry Burleigh, and he’s a pretty formidable villain, played quite well by Dean Jagger (who I know best as the great General Waverley in ‘White Christmas’ – still not used to him in a villainous role).

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I don’t care for dogs, but I still enjoyed every moment of ‘The Proud Rebel’, even the last twenty minutes or so which are centered almost entirely around David’s dog.  And no spoilers, but the ending is predictable without being any the less emotional for all that.

Overall, ‘The Proud Rebel’ is a good, solid film.  I’ve watched it twice, enjoyed it twice, and I wouldn’t be the least opposed to seeing it a third time.  The cinematography, story, and dialogue all flow together well and the plot is interesting.  Recommended to fans of westerns, dogs, Alan Ladd, Olivia de Havilland…just about anyone.

(My six-year-old brother liked it, so it’s good for children as well.)

(And you can watch it for free on Youtube.  Just so you know.)

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Eva

mini book reviews {#2}

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Because I don’t talk about books nearly enough on this blog.

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~A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – This book is frighteningly relevant to my life right now because my dad has terminal cancer.  I understood A Monster Calls more than I would have at any other time; it’s one of the truest things I’ve ever read.

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~The Cherokee Trail by Louis L’Amour – One of my mom’s favorite books.  It’s neat that L’Amour has written a book with a strong female lead (as opposed to women being supporting roles/two-dimensional love interests in most of his stories).  One of his best novels.

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~House by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker – Just no.

(I’m not even putting a picture of the cover here. *shudders*)

~We’ll Always Have Casablanca by Noah Isenberg – The third book I’ve read about the history, making, and legacy of ‘Casablanca’.  Fascinating read, though I already knew most of the facts presented.

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~The Daybreakers by Louis L’Amour – One of my favorite books by Louis L’Amour.  It’s not the most interesting one, but the characters are rich and well-developed (my brother thinks that L’Amour put more effort into his Sackett books than any of the others).  Tom Sunday breaks my heart.  And more cracks appeared when I found out that Glenn Ford plays him in the TV miniseries because it’s horribly perfect casting.

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~Textrovert by Lindsey Summers – A cute, fun read with more than a couple surprises.  I think it’s cool that the author got her start on Wattpad.

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What have you been reading lately?

Eva

movie review: the sea hawk

This post is part of the Swashathon hosted by Movies Silently.

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I inherited my love of swashbucklers from my grandfather, who is a huge fan of the genre in general – and of Errol Flynn’s films in particular.  While I don’t care for Errol Flynn much, old-fashioned swashbucklers are a big favorite of mine.  The glamorous action, feats of derring-do, music, romance, and gorgeous costumes all come together beautifully to create a kind of film that can still entertain today. (I know there are swashbucklers made today.  But the old ones were the best, in my opinion.)

On to the review!

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As Spain prepares an armada to invade England, British privateer Geoffrey Thorpe (Errol Flynn) embarks on a mission to loot Spanish ships. When he captures the vessel carrying ambassador Don Jose Alvarez de Cordoba (Claude Rains), the dashing captain falls for his niece, the beautiful Dona Maria (Brenda Marshall), who settles comfortably in England. Dedicated to protecting British interests, Thorpe heads out to sea on a dangerous expedition that may determine the country’s fate.

‘The Sea Hawk’ is easily my favorite Errol Flynn movie…and my favorite swashbuckler.

Stuff I love about it (because lists are easier than an in-depth review):

~The music – Nominated for a best score Oscar, and it definitely deserved that nomination.

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~The romance between Geoffrey and Maria.  Yes, it’s a little clichéd and predictable, but so sweet.  I like how she starts out by hating/despising him but then softens.  Actually, Maria carries most of the romantic subplot by herself, as Geoffrey doesn’t have much time to think about his lady love in the jungle and the galleys.  It’s enough to bring a lump to your throat, the way Maria mourns for him. (That scene where she’s too late to warn him?  GAH.)

~How the jungle scenes are sepia-toned instead of black & white.  I dig it.

~All the other Sea Hawks.  You don’t see much of them, but they’re cool guys.

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~I LOVE THE QUEEN’S FINAL SPEECH SO MUCH.  You have to remember, that in 1940, England was at war with Germany (and had been for a year already), so I’m fairly certain that Queen Elizabeth I’s speech at the end was a good bit of patriotism that any British citizen would have found more than applicable to their current circumstances.

We have tried by all means in our power to avert this war.  We’ve no quarrel with the people of Spain or of any other country.  But when the ruthless ambition of a man threatens to engulf the world, it becomes the solemn obligation of all free men to affirm that the earth belongs not to any one man, but to all men.  And that freedom is the deed and title to the soil on which we exist.

Honestly, the only thing I would change about this movie is to have Basil Rathbone instead of Harry Daniell play Lord Wolfingham .  Basil Rathbone would’ve provided a chilling presence in the English court instead of a rather wimpy one.  Though, I suppose no-one would’ve been surprised at Wolfingham’s duplicity, then.

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The swordfights are awesome, as usual.  I’ve read the Michael Curtiz didn’t put safety tips on the ends of the blades because he wanted the actors’ reactions to be real.  Dangerous, but it made for some great scenes.

‘The Sea Hawk’ is a glowing, adventurous, swoony film, the very epitome of a swashbuckler.  Highly recommended to all fans of the genre.

Eva

mini book reviews {#1}

As promised.  Maybe a little late, but still…two posts in almost two days is pretty good for me, I think. 🙂

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~Wonder by R.J. Palacio – I re-read this one is prep for the movie and I’ve gotta say…Wonder is one amazing book.  I read it in a day.  And I’m giving Owen Wilson a huge thumbs-up as Nate Pullman.  He’s pretty much perfectly cast.

~The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Elusive Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy – Sir Percy’s adventures never, ever, EVER get old.  I love everything about these books and most of the characters.

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~The Siren by Kiera Cass – Not sure if I like this better than the Selection series, but it’s different and swoonable and so atmospheric.  I’d probably read it again.

~The Divergent series by Veronica Roth – First book: LOVE.  Second book: Slightly boring and Four is more than a little out of character in the beginning.  Third book: What. Even.  Four: All the heart emoticons, Four-style (<4).

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~Just Deserts by Eric Walters – According to my brother, almost every Eric Walters book is a copy of the last, but this one breaks the mold.  Genuinely moved me in a few places, and y’all know that I’m attracted to stories of huge jerks who become awesome human beings through a series of unfortunate events (#lightningmcqueenFORTHEWIN).

~Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman – Interesting, but ultimately a depressing look at how people cope (or don’t) with the trials of life when they don’t know Christ. *shudder*

~Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín – Movie was wayyyyyy better.

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What have you been reading lately?

Eva

mini movie reviews {#3}

I’m not going to be able to do a ‘what I’ve been reading/watching’ for these last three months – #life – so here’s some more mini movie reviews.  I’ll probably do one for books tomorrow or the day after.

The Santa Clause (1994) – Okay for a one-time watch, but not much more.  However, Tim Allen is awesome, both in this movie and in Real Life.

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Free Birds (2013) – I found Free Bird’s portrayal of the Pilgrims to be offensive and ignorant.  Besides the voice acting, there’s little to love in this movie.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982) – An old favorite.  Swoon over the music/costumes/romance/Sir Percy himself.  I love how the stories of The Scarlet Pimpernel and El Dorado are combined.

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From Time to Time (2009) – MAN.  This had such great potential!  But all those British actors were wasted on a boring plot.

Enchanted (2007) – The songs in here are brilliantly beautiful.  Plus, Robert.  Just…Robert.  Amy Adams is a sparkling presence, as usual, and the whole thing fits together like, well, how the glass slipper fit Cinderella’s foot.

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The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) – And speaking of princesses, this film was a delightful romp.  Not A+ quality entertainment, but plenty enjoyable nonetheless.

Rio Bravo (1959) – Dean Martin. ❤  That’s all.

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Dangerous Crossing (1953) – A typical film noir.  Sort of a ‘The Lady Vanishes’ plot; intriguing without being too predictable.

How the West Was Won (1962) – The best thing about HTWWW, besides all the familiar faces, is the whole Epic Family Saga.  Definitely one of my favorite genres (if it is a genre) and I thought it was done quite well here.

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Tangled: Before Ever After (2017) – No, no, no, no, NO.  What have you done with my beloved characters?!

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) – Um…wow.  This one really blew me away.  All the villains, for one.  And the FEELS.  Serious feels. (This is the only Batman movie I’ve watched, by the way.  EDIT: Besides his semi-major role in The LEGO Movie.)  Robin was nowhere near as bad as I thought he’d be.  And there was a Tom Cruise cameo (sort of) which made the whole thing even better.

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What movies have you been watching lately?

Eva