movie review: little women

Little Women.JPG

Do all the things.

I don’t particularly enjoy Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, but there are two film adaptions of the book that I adore.  ‘Little Women’ (1994)…and ‘Little Women’ (2018), which is the adaption I’m reviewing today.

Let’s start with the story!  Instead of trying to craft a recognizable plot out of a rather episodic book, the filmmakers went a different direction and told the story in a series of flashbacks.  (The framework for the flashbacks is Jo working on her fantasy novel with instruction from Professor ‘Freddie’ Bhaer.)  Most of the major events from the book are depicted in this film: Christmas without (m)any presents, Jo bumping into Laurie at a party, Meg making a fool of herself at another party (the prom this time), Amy burning Jo’s notebook, etc., etc. (I will say that Amy was a lot more justified in burning Jo’s notebook.  The situation was changed up a little and I Approve.)

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The feels were so, so real.  I teared up multiple times, especially with parts concerning Beth (no spoilers!) and the final scene which was #beautiful and #weddingdaygoals.

Now I’m sure most of you are wondering if the casting director got it right.  If Jo was the same strong, independent, flawed woman we all know and love.  If Beth warmed every heart with her sweetness.  If Laurie was a faithful friend.  The answer to all of that is “YES”.  I loved the casting for pretty much every character, but especially the four ‘little women’.  Sarah Davenport was outstanding as Jo.  She’s full of fire and fierce love and flaws.  And she is indubitably a Writer!  All the other films portray Jo’s writing as more of an unimportant, background hobby, but this adaption celebrated her journey as a writer.  And that made her so much more relatable to me.  For the first time, I actually, truly ‘got’ Jo. (And her connection to Beth was also so strong and I loved it.)

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This review is getting loooong, so I’ll just quickly run through the rest of the cast.  Beth was incredibly sweet, but also genuine.  Meg was perfect.  Amy (played, of course, by two different actresses) was annoying but had her moments of warmth.  Marmee was suitably Marmee-ish.  John Brooke was the only good portrayal of the character I’ve seen on film.  It took me a bit to warm up to Laurie (especially because they didn’t include the part where he sends for Marmee without waiting for permission which is my favorite character moment of his) but by the time he comforted Jo at The Funeral, I really liked him.

Overall, ‘Little Women’ is a beautiful film about the importance of family and the connection between sisters.  Highly recommended to fans of the original story.

Eva

Screening provided by Graf-Martin Communications and Pure Flix.

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mini movie reviews {#9}

Mudbound (2017) – Spectacularly depressing.  Gave me a headache.  But Garrett Hedlund was amazing so I don’t really regret watching it.

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Jurassic Park (1993) – YESSS.  So good.  Loved it and watched it twice and still loved it, so yeah.  The music was my favorite part, I think.  That or Jeff Goldblum.

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Wonder (2017) – Not quite as good as the book, but still thoroughly heartwarming.

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Goodbye Christoper Robin (2017) – Really heavy and a little boring.  I think I’ll enjoy ‘Christopher Robin’ much more.

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Unconditional (2012) – Actually one of the better Christian movies I’ve seen.  Great characters, good acting, and some pretty emotional scenes.

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Tarzan (1999) – One of my new favorite Disney movies!  Jane is awesome.

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A Monster Calls (2016) – Made me ugly sob.  A beautiful movie, though, and the Monster warmed my heart.

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Room (2015) – It’s rare that a film actually makes me bite my nails, but I’m pretty sure that ‘Room’ did.  My heart was pounding so hard.  The second half was a little boring, but overall a great film.

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Earth to Echo (2014) – This movie is a tribute to films like ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘E.T.’ and I really dug it.  All the characters were so sweet and small and perfect.

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Napoleon Dynamite (2004) – Some friends of mine HIGHLY recommended this movie to me so I watched it and, yeah, now I love it.  Which is weird because none of the characters are super likable, there’s no plot, and the humour isn’t even my kind of humour.  But there’s just something about it that keeps me coming back for more. (Also, it’s one of the most quotable films everrrr.)

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Annie (2014) – Loooove.  Makes me so happy.

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Anna Karenina (2012) – I cannot get over the dresses and coats and hats in this film.  Incredibly, unbelievably gorgeous.  But that was pretty much the only thing I enjoyed in ‘Anna Karenina’.  (It was filmed a little oddly as well.)

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The Breakfast Club (1985) – Two words: JOHN. BENDER. *heart-eyes emoji*

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So what movies have you watched recently?  Have you seen any of the ones I reviewed above?

Eva

P.S. My bi-weekly excuse for no read-along post – my weekend was crazy busy with the birthday party sleepover I hosted.

movie review: God Bless The Broken Road

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This is one of the most beautiful movie posters I’ve ever seen.  No lie.

Amber’s ideal life is shattered when she loses her husband to the war in Afghanistan. Two years later, she finds herself in a struggle to save her home while providing for her 9-year-old daughter, Bree. When up-and-coming race car driver Cody Jackson rolls into town, Amber and Bree become wrapped up in his pedal to the metal way of life. With her faith hanging in the balance, Amber is forced to decide between the broken road she knows so well or trusting in a new path that God has provided.

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There seems to be a trend lately among Christian film: take a famous Christian song and make a movie based on that song (however tentatively).  The God’s Not Dead franchise, ‘I Can Only Imagine’ (2018), and now ‘God Bless The Broken Road’ (2018).

WHAT I LIKED

-The director, Harold Cronk, knows how to make a quality film in terms of camera work and lighting.  I dug the vintage aesthetic of this film.

-On a whole, the characters were pretty likable.  Amber was a sympathetic protagonist.  Her daughter, her friends from church, and Cody were all sweet.  My favorite character was probably Amber’s mother-in-law, though.  She could be controlling and manipulative, but in the end all she wanted to do was keep her family close.

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-I felt that Amber’s struggles to provide for herself and her daughter were accurately – and heartbreakingly – portrayed.  Those scenes were some of the best in the film.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

-It was just kinda…bland?  A little boring, too.  I found my interest straying through many of the scenes, which was disappointing.  But that’s basically my only complaint.  And for those who aren’t as nitpicky as I am, I think you could find ‘God Bless The Broken Road’ to be a hidden gem.

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Have you seen this film?  What’s your favorite faith-based movie?

Eva

Film has been provided courtesy of Pacific Northwest Pictures and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

book review: dancing & doughnuts

Dancing and Doughnuts blog tour 2 (1)

Fifty dollars just for asking a few questions? Jedediah Jones figures it must be his lucky day. What dancing and doughnuts have to do with anything, he neither knows nor cares. He’s only interested in earning that money so he can finally eat something other than the apples he’s been living off for days. Once his stomach and his pockets are filled again, he plans to move on.

But answering the advertisement plunges him into a forest of painted trees, twelve pretty sisters, trouble, and more trouble. And, yes, doughnuts.

So many doughnuts.

Can Jedediah Jones solve the mystery and earn that fifty dollars when the whole town has failed? Or will the twelve sisters lose their family’s business no matter what he does?

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I dislike mysteries, but Dancing & Doughnuts was the rare exception. The plot – complete with a multitude of suspects, red herrings, and other forms of misdirection – was so clever and interesting that I couldn’t help but be sucked in. There’s a charm about this story that has to be savoured (like Rachel’s previous book, Cloaked, but even better).

The descriptions are so evocative! I want to stuff my face with those delicious doughnuts – crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, filled with sweetness and spice and covered in sugar. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about them. Then there’s the apple cider and the lemon soda water…it all sounds so, so good.

Like Cloaked, Dancing & Doughnuts is chock-full of amazing, lovable characters. I know that the author loves reading books that include characters she’d like to be friends with and, as it turns out, she writes books like that too! It’s awesome. The main character/narrator, Jedediah Jones, has a fun way of looking at life, people, adverse situations, etc. but there’s also a depth to him that I like (he was a sergeant major during the Civil War and it’s affected him in more ways than one). All the Algonas are great. I especially like Alice, Clara, and Felicity. Alice is #goals and also #relatable, which is a great combination. Really, I like all the characters in this novella (with the possible exception of Mayor Gatz) – they’re all very real and and flawed, yet exceedingly pleasant and fun. ❤ I’d be more than happy to meet them in real life, if it were possible.

Dancing & Doughnuts is a retelling of the classic fairy-tale, ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’, and it was soooo cool to pick out the references and parallels to the original story (and I’m sure I didn’t catch them all). The painted forest sounds so beautiful! And actually having twelve ‘princesses’ instead of cutting the number down? A bit tricky, but the way Rachel did it was believable.

Highly recommended to fans of westerns, mysteries, fairytale retellings, or just a good story in general!

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Don’t forget to add Dancing & Doughnuts to your Goodreads shelf and buy the Kindle or paperback edition on Amazon! You can check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour here. Rachel is also hosting a super awesome giveaway for the book tour that you can enter here!

Dancing and Doughnuts Giveaway Prizes

Eva

movie review: God’s Not Dead – A Light in Darkness

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Pastor Dave Hill faces a setback when his church burns down – prompting the officials at the adjoining university to try to tear down the church. Battle lines are drawn between the church and the community as Dave seeks legal help from his estranged brother – an atheist lawyer — in a fight to rebuild the church.

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Despite my many reservations about the God’s Not Dead franchise, I jumped at the chance to review a free DVD copy of the latest (and last?) film – ‘God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness’.  Because, hey, I do enjoy watching Christian films.  And free stuff is always cool.

THE GOOD:

-Dave’s relationship with his brother, Pearce, was the core of this film and their scenes together worked really well.  I enjoyed watching them play off each other in both funny and serious scenes; there were some issues between them and that led to some genuinely moving moments.

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-Seeing Josh and Jude again was cool.

-Also, I believe Josh quoted Pastor Dave’s advice from the first movie right back at him and that made me grin.

-Keaton and Adam’s story was really interesting!  I wish we could’ve seen more them.  I especially felt for Adam, what with Everything That Happened.  That scene between him and Dave near the end was well-done and pretty emotional.

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-I really got behind the message of this film, which is that a church building isn’t the church itself. (I’m sure there’s more messages than that, but I really dug how they handled that one.  I was hoping Pastor Dave would reach that conclusion by the film’s end.)

THE BAD:

-It seems like the quality of this film isn’t the greatest, compared to the other two.  The camera work and script make it feel like a made for TV movie instead of a theatrical release.  So that’s unfortunate.

-Starting with voice-over narration instead of a song? *sigh*

THE MEH:

-Sadly, this film was pretty boring and didn’t hold my interest as well as the other two.

-Pastor Dave himself wasn’t all that gripping of a main character.  I call it the Mater Syndrome – taking a side character whose main purpose is comic relief and making them the main character doesn’t work, nine times out of ten.  And David A.R. White tends to bug me (his acting, voice, etc.) so that didn’t help.

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-And I wanted to get behind his kinda romance with Meg but…it just didn’t happen.

Overall, ‘God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness’ has a better message and characters than the previous films, but is of lesser quality in terms of camera work, script, and pacing.  Worth a watch?  If you’ve seen ‘God’s Not Dead’ and ‘God’s Not Dead 2’, then yes.  But if your introduction to the franchise will be this film, I’d give it a pass.

DVD has been provided courtesy of Pure Flix and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Eva

movie review: a quiet place

Related imageI don’t normally watch thrillers that border on horror but ‘A Quiet Place’ intrigued me and I’m glad I saw it.

Plot: the world has been invaded by aliens who are sensitive to sound.  Very sensitive.  The main characters (unnamed) are a small family who have to rely on each other more and more each day in this horrible new world.  In the film’s prologue, you see their youngest son killed when he (very stupidly) turns on a toy plane.  About a year later, the mom is pregnant, the dad is trying to protect everyone, the son suffers from PTSD, and the daughter is guilty (because she gave her brother the toy plane) and angry at herself and everyone around her.

(I’m not going to spoil the rest of the story because it’s best to watch without knowing Things.)

For me, stories rise and fall on the quality of their characters and ‘A Quiet Place’s characters were beautiful.  Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (who play Mom and Dad) are married in real life and you can definitely sense that.  There’s such a strong, clear bond between them.  They love each other and their kids deeply.  One of my favorite scenes in the film is when they share a pair of ear buds and dance together to the music from an iPod (which is an almost frightening explosion of sound at first).

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Their oldest child, a deaf teenage girl (played by a talented deaf actress) is annoying.  I mean, I get that she’s guilty and lashing out at those closest to her, but can’t you see your dad loves you?  The second child, a boy who’s probably eleven or twelve, was very sweet.  I liked him.  He reminded me a bit of the kid in ‘Jurassic Park’.  And the scene where he and his sister are in the truck, cowering from the alien?  Soooo ‘Jurassic Park’ inspired.

YMMV when it comes to how scared you are while watching ‘A Quiet Place’.  For me, I don’t believe I was ever scared so much as disturbed in a few spots.  In some scenes, it’s pretty obvious that the characters will be okay so that didn’t worry me.  There’s one part where a raccoon gets, um, splatted by one of the aliens and that’s pretty gross.  A few jump scares, none of which made me jump.  That bit with the old man was gruesome (no spoilers, just…*shudder*).  And there was one scene where I did look away – not because of anything scary, but because a character steps on a nail and it goes right into their foot and I didn’t want to see that happen. (Also, there was a bit of burlap caught on the nail and now it’s in their foot and they’ll probably get infected.  Groan.)

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However, one thing I definitely didn’t expect from ‘A Quiet Place’ was how tear-jerking A Certain Part would be.  I’m actually getting a lump in my throat just thinking about because it involves self-sacrifice and a character death (duh) and it’s just…yeah.  It’s tough.  You’ll hate it and love it at the same time.

And can I get a round of applause for that ending?  It was a stellar, amazing, awe-inspiring, perfect, incredible ending. (I could continue to heap on the adjectives.)  It’s given the ending to ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ a serious run for its money for “Eva’s favorite movie ending of all time”.

Overall, ‘A Quiet Place’ was one of those movies that went above and beyond my expectations.  Recommended to just about anyone (no swearing or sexual content, for the win!) provided you’re thirteen or over.

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Eva

P.S. Just wanted to add that, while I thought much of the soundtrack was unnecessary (and unwanted), there was this one jarring, off-key piano theme that was used a couple times that I thought was GREAT.

P.P.S. Don’t ever make a sequel, Hollywood.  Just…don’t.

book review: ‘fawkes’ by nadine brandes

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Thomas Fawkes, son of the famous (and soon to be infamous) Guy Fawkes, is turning to stone and there is nothing he can do to stop it. He might be able to control the Stone Plague if his father gave him a colour mask – which allows the wearer to control a specific colour or colours – but Guy Fawkes refuses to do so. Thomas journeys to London to find his father and persuade him to make the mask. But while Thomas finds his father, he also finds much more: a plot against King James I and all of Parliament. Will Thomas join the plotters or will he fight to find something more?

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Oh. My. Word.

THIS BOOK.

IT IS MY PRECIOUSSSSS.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating Fawkes ever since I read Nadine’s Out of Time series and fell in love with Parvin, Solomon, and all the rest of the gang (yes, even Skelley). And, man, it did not disappoint.

So, Fawkes is set in 1600’s England, which is one of my favorite time eras (well, I tend to lump the 1400’s to 1600’s together, but anyway) and I love how Nadine kept stuff really historically accurate (as explained in the Author’s Note at the end) because with the fantasy element, she could’ve thrown accuracy to the wind and done whatever. But she didn’t and I LOVED that. (If it seems like I’m talking about Nadine very familiarly, it’s ’cause I’m one of her ninjas and I feel like we’re almost friends.) And speaking of the fantasy…I normally don’t like the genre, but it was so, so cool! The masks, the colour powers, the White Light, etc.; I dug it all.

My favorite part of Fawkes is indubitably the characters. I’ve read some reviews where people said that Thomas wasn’t the greatest protagonist, but I liked him throughout the whole book. He wasn’t perfect (and who wants to read about characters who are perfect?) but he went through this whole awesome journey where he asked questions and discovered the Truth for himself and learned from his mistakes and wrestled with the decisions he made and it was so real and human and relatable. Loooove.

Then there’s mah girl, Emma. She’s a super awesome fighter with plenty of skillz, while also being gracious and kind and warm and loving – basically, she’s not your typical tough, soulless Action Girl™ and I thought that was great. Plus, THAT PLOT TWIST WHEN SHE TOOK OFF HER MASK??? How did I not see that coming?! (I love it when books surprise me.)

Guy Fawkes rounds out the trio of main/main-ish characters and while I wasn’t sure how much I liked him throughout most of Fawkes, he completely redeemed himself in my eyes by the end. Many, many tears were shed. His relationship with Thomas was flawed and awkward at times and often frustrating, but it also worked on so many levels. And The Bad Guy was chilling, kind of epic, and totally creepy. Everything a good villain should be.

While the faith message wasn’t as strong in Fawkes as it was in the Out of Time series, I still loved and ‘got’ the allegory and all the themes Nadine wove into the story. Awesome.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan of historical fiction (with a dash of romance), fantasy fiction, allegorical fiction…or simply anyone who loves a good story!

I was given a free copy of Fawkes from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Eva