So here I lie. Still sick. Thankful for the internet, but really wishing I could be doing something. Working. Something useful. My mind isn’t really thinking all too clearly, so I’m reluctant to write, as I have no idea what sort of tripe will come out of my fingers. (I’ve tried writing on an unclear mind before–what usually happens is that I think (at the time) that what I’m writing is pure genius. Then I come to my senses, I discover it was actually garbage. Sigh.) Although I will say this: prior to me getting sick, I was watching Frosty the Snowman, and I came up with a really good idea for a middle grade fantasy that I think I’m going to work on once the revision of ParkerBoy is done.
I have a lot of films and books I can update you on. Forgive me for not providing the linkage today–just don’t have it in me. But I can at least write about what I’ve been doing.
White Christmas–I assume all of you have seen this movie. If you haven’t, then I don’t know what you’ve been thinking. I watch it almost every year, and I really do love it. Bing Crosby’s voice is pure velvet, and Danny Kaye is his usual fantastic self. Great songs. Three and a half stars.
Elf–I know there are a lot of anti-Will Ferrellites out there. People who refuse to see anything with him in it. Well, this is one that they should make an exception for. (They should also make an exception for Stranger than Fiction, but that’s for a different post.) He’s perfect in this role, and the movie (about a human who was raised by elves, then goes to New York City to meet his real father) is just about perfect. The ending is off to me. A little too cheesy for a film that escaped the cheese for almost the whole movie. But such is life. Still a great movie. Three stars.
Wanted–A graphic novel adaptation that pretty much threw out most of what it was adapting, the movie still wasn’t all that bad. Basically, Mr. Tumnus finds out he’s a born assassin, and he gets trained by Lara Croft and God to kill Captain Englehorn. If you got all those pop culture references, pin a rose on your nose. The action sequences in the movie are outlandish, but they looked and sounded really cool on my home theater, so I give it an extra half star. Two and a half stars, to be exact.
Frosty the Snowman–Rankin and Bass really tried to stretch the whole make-a-Christmas-song-into-a-movie thing too far. Rudolph was cool. It had a plot. Frosty? Not so much. I remember liking this as a kid, and I think TRC liked it, but . . . the animation was just too bad, the plot too bare . . . though it did give me that good story idea, so I’ll give it a bit of credit. Two stars, for old time’s sake.
The Barimaeus Trilogy–Can’t remember if I blogged about this one or not. Read the entire Jonathan Stroud series, and I really enjoyed it. Strong three stars. Take a "modern" London in an alternate reality where wizards rule demons and have become the ruling class, and then have the protagonists consist of a snotty young wizard and a snotty old demon, and you have the makings of a fun YA series. Check it out.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret–Read this yesterday. 510 pages, but most of them are pictures. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Definitely a unique sort of a book–a picture book, MG fantasy fusion. Three stars, and you’ll learn a thing or two about old cinema, which is always a plus. Hugo Cabret hopes fixing an automaton will let him see a message from his dead father, but he’ll need help along the way to do it. That’s a very basic summary, but I’m too sick to give you any better.
Baby Face–One of the most notorious movies from early American cinema. It was one of the films that gave critics of the debauchery of cinema the fodder they needed to pass the Hays Code. Watching it now . . . boy have we come a long way. This movie would be PG at worst. It’s about a woman who literally sleeps her way up the corporate ladder. Nothing’s shown, but plenty is implied. Barbara Stanwyck stars (and you can catch a glimpse of an early John Wayne, too). I enjoyed it. Three stars.
Ghost Town–Ricky Gervais (the British Steve Carrell) stars as his usual character–a snarky, obnoxious man who’s rude to everyone and everything. Except then he dies for seven minutes, and when he comes back, he can see ghosts. This is the set up for a romantic comedy, believe it or not, and I was very pleasantly surprised. The very fact that by the end of the movie, I don’t despise Gervais as a character is something in and of itself. He plays such a good despicable character. Anyway–I liked that it wasn’t too predictable (to me, at least), and that it kept the laughs coming. Three stars. You should check this one out, if you haven’t.
Swiss Family Robinson–Decided to watch this with TRC. It was one of my favorite movies growing up. Didn’t know if it would stand the test of time, but I’m happy to say that it did. Still really loved it. A family gets shipwrecked on a Pacific island, and they have to scrounge from the wreckage of their ship to survive. It’s got animals, pirates, and more. Three stars. One thing that I was sad to note was the career of Tommy Kirk. You’ll remember him as the perky young fellow in The Shaggy Dog, The Absentminded Professor, Son of Flubber, Babes in Toyland, Old Yeller–a slew of Disney movies. He was a Mouseketeer and one of the Hardy Boys. I saw him in this and wondered where he’d ended up. A bit of snooping around on IMDB answered that: he’d had a big contract with Disney and was a real up and comer–then Disney found out he was gay, the company blacklisted him and pretty much ruined his life. He couldn’t get any good acting jobs and that was that. He now runs a carpet and upholstery cleaning business. I find that incredibly sad. Here’s to you, Tommy Kirk–I really enjoyed your movies as a kid, and they brought me a lot of pleasure.
I think that about sums up what I’ve been up to recently.
As far as how my Christmas went, it was great. TRC had a fantastic time, and we all got to spend a lot of time together, playing games and such. A Good Time Was Had By All, and it was nice to be able to have a break from work. Of course, then I wished that I didn’t have to go back to work. My wish was granted, and here I am, sick as a dog. Be careful what you wish for–it might make you vomit.