Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Stars Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Lionel Jeffries, etc.

I'd never seen this one, though I'd seen parts of it here and there. (Like some of the musical numbers: "Me Ol' Bamboo" and "Toot Sweets" and of course the title track "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.")

The movie is more than a little silly. And there are some parts that would have terrified *me* as a child if I'd seen it. (Cough, cough, child catcher anyone?!) But it was an entertaining enough movie. The music perhaps is a bit too catchy in places.

Still I'm glad I watched it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Shop Around The Corner (1940)

Stars James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, etc.

So I discovered after watching You've Got Mail, that it was connected to a few other movies. Including Shop Around the Corner (1940). I had never heard of The Shop Around the Corner. So I was curious about it. Fortunately, it was available on YouTube. And I found it very interesting. It really has quite a different feel to it. It's not as comical as In The Good Old Summertime. Not as over-the-top. Not as ridiculous. (Even though some of the ridiculousness is endearing. In small doses.) It's definitely a more serious, more substantive film. I found this black and white film to be charming and wonderful. I loved Jimmy Stewart in this role! It was just about perfect. I think I definitely prefer this one to the musical starring Judy Garland. And I prefer it to You've Got Mail too. I would definitely recommend this movie!

The trailer:

Part one:

Here's the "date" scene:

Wuthering Expectations Scottish Literature Reading Challenge

I'm going to try to read one or two books for this one. I can't really predict which ones quite yet. But here's what I'm thinking so far. (The rules: When you start a book, or plan to start it, let me know, in the comments here or at

These are three I own and that are in my TBR pile:

The Female Quixote (1752) by Charlotte Lennox.
Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Oliphant (1866)
Hester by Margaret Oliphant (1883)

Her suggested reading lists: one, two, three

Themed Reading Challenge (2010)

Wendy is hosting the 2010 Themed Reading Challenge. February 14 - August 14 2010. The challenge is to read at least five books with a common theme. My theme is "authors who digress." I'm hoping to read some Anthony Trollope, Wilkie Collins, and Charles Dickens. Of course, I'm not limiting myself to just those three. I'll be filling in my list as I go.

1. Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope

French Historicals Oh-La-La!

I'm signing up for the French Historicals Challenge. I'm committing to only three books, but I may read more if time permits. The challenge is from January - December 2010.

1. Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyer

You've Got Mail (1998)

You've Got Mail (1998)

Stars Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, etc.

I haven't seen this one probably in a decade. It's been so long in fact that parts of it felt new to me. Of course, I was familiar with the premise. You can watch the trailer here. What I couldn't have known the first time through is how similar it is to another movie. In The Good Old Summertime (1949). Both films are about couples who can't stand each other (in person) at least not at first. But who connect (seem oh-so-made-for-each-other) by correspondence...when they don't know who they're really writing to. There were a couple of scenes actually that seemed so similar I was curious if perhaps You've Got Mail was meant to be an update of sorts. Anyway, I liked this romantic comedy.

Here's a clip from "In The Good Old Summertime"

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Stars Kenneth Branagh, Robert Sean Leonard, Emma Thompson, Kate Beckinsale, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, etc.

One of the best, best, best adaptations ever of Shakespeare. And one of my favorite films of all time. I love everything about this one. The story. The characters. The music. Everything is so close to perfect, so right, so magical, so amazingly wonderful. One of my favorite parts about this one is the soundtrack. I've probably listened to the soundtrack dozens and dozens of times because it is just so beautiful.

Favorite lines? How could I ever choose?! But I think "The world must be peopled" is definitely high on my list!!!

Shrek (2001)

Shrek (2001)

I've seen this one dozens of times. And with good reason. It is one of my favorite and my best. What can I really say about it? I love it. That's all.

To Catch A Thief (1955)

To Catch A Thief (1955)

Stars Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.

I didn't know if I would like this one. But I did. I really did. It was so much better than I was expecting. I'm definitely glad I watched this one! And I loved Grace Kelly's clothes. Especially the costume party scene. Her dress was oh-so-beautiful.

To Sir With Love (1967)

To Sir With Love (1967)

Stars Sidney Poitier, Christian Roberts, Judy Geeson, etc.

Life is funny sometimes. Just last week my friend was asking me if I'd seen To Sir With Love. (She was a bit shocked that I hadn't.) And then just a few days later, I turn on the TV and it was coming on right then. It was fate really. I just had to watch it. What did I think of it? I liked it. It was one of those feel-good films. An inspirational film showing a teacher who makes an impression, a lasting impression on his students. A teacher who changes lives for the better. Who doesn't want to watch one of those films?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mamma Mia (2008)

Mamma Mia (2008)

There are few movies I love more than this one. I do. Love it. Like crazy. It stars Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Meryl Streep, Julie Waters, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth, etc.

What do I love about this one? Just about everything. Almost everything. There are only a few slight things I'd change if I could. Thirty seconds here or there. But otherwise, about as perfect as perfect can be. Granted, I think loving musicals helps more than a little bit. It's good, crazy, fun. Something that builds in enthusiasm. Which is why it is so fun that includes a "play-a-long" or perhaps that should be sing-a-long movie play option.

The music. I love the music, I do. I think everyone did an amazing job at bringing all the songs to life. Of creating believable (albeit a little wacky) characters who live-and-breathe the songs. You feel--or perhaps I should make that I feel--the lyrics are so true, so authentic to each moment. Especially songs like Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Slipping Through My Fingers, The Winner Takes It All. Organic might be the right word. It would be *really* hard to pick a favorite but The Winner Takes It All might be an unexpected choice. It is such a vulnerable song, very compelling, the performance just amazed me really.

The characters. Loved them all. Mostly. I'd really hate to have to choose a favorite character or a favorite couple. But I do have to say that Bill is just well a bit more of a favorite than the others. I loved them all. But well, I have a special place for Bill. I just love, love, love his character. And his song with Rosie at the end, "Take A Chance On Me" just had me at hello. I mean it was a GREAT way to end the movie. The whole dancing in the courtyard "Take a Chance" just worked for me.

My Man Godfrey (1936)

My Man Godfrey (1936)

Stars William Powell, Carole Lombard, Jean Dixon, Gail Patrick, etc.

Wow! I really, really loved this one. It was actually a recommendation from my brother-in-law. So it was a great surprise to discover a new-favorite-from-the-thirties. What is it about? It's about a "forgotten man" Godfrey "Smith" who goes from living at the city dump to being a working man, a butler for the very rich, but very eccentric Bullock family. One of the daughters, Irene, falls madly in love with Godfrey, and would ignore all the obstacles society might place in their way if they were to try to wed, but Godfrey is a man with a few secrets and he is playing hard to get. Will she get her man in the end?

Anna and the King of Siam (1946)

Anna and the King of Siam (1946)

Stars Rex Harrison as the King and Irene Dunne as Anna. I didn't catch all of this one, but I caught enough to know that I liked it. Not as much as The King and I perhaps. Does it really get any better than Yul Brynner?! But it was interesting. There were definite differences between the two. I'd probably have to rewatch this one to catch them all. Unfortunately, my library doesn't have a copy of this one. So I'll have to wait a while.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) Stars Sidney Poitier, Katharine Houghton, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, etc.

I've been wanting to watch this one for years. Ever since I fell in love with Lilies of the Field. It was as good as I expected. It was quite good, very good. An emotional love story with a lot of heart. Definitely recommended.


Do not watch unless you want to know how it ends...

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999) Stars Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci, Calista Flockhart, and Christian Bale....among others.

I love this movie. I just love, love, love this movie. I think it's very faithful to Shakespeare. And I think it makes the play so very-very clear and relevant. And fun. I think it captures both how fun and yet how true this play can be. Yes, it's a comedy. Yes, strange and fantastical things happen. But it is a romance as well. It is dealing with very real matters of the heart. And it is both playful and serious if that makes any sense at all.

One of my favorite things about this one? The brilliance of Puck!

The trailer:

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)

A Midsummer Night's Dream. (1935)

Did I like this one? Yes and no. I *did* like the beginning of this one at least. It has a bit more pomp and ceremony to it. Something I hadn't quite envisioned or imagined. But at the same time, it was hard not to be overwhelmed with everything that was going on. The sets, the costumes, the overall design, the music, and the "special effects". At times I felt the story--the dialogue--got a little bit lost. What I liked least about this film is Puck. Which is just sad, sad, sad. Because Puck is one of the funnest parts of the play. His lines can often steal the show. This Puck mainly just shouts his lines, in a very over-the-top, wild and out-of-control kind of way. It was hard to understand the words he was speaking because of his delivery.

While this movie is longer than the newer one, the 1999, one I felt it had less to it. I think they spent a great deal of time dancing and prancing around in faerie garb. On the other hand, it does have Joe E. Brown as Flute/Thisbe. Which was just too much fun!!!

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Buy One Book and Read It 2010 Reading Challenge

Amy is hosting this challenge. January - December 2010. I'm signing up for level two which is to commit to buying six books in 2010. My list *is* subject to change.

1. Under the Dome by Stephen King
2. Your God Is Too Small. By J.B. Phillips.
3. Cannery Row. John Steinbeck

Options: New York by Edward Rutherfurd; Drood by Dan Simmons; Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte; Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret Campbell Barnes; Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda Grange; Edmund Bertram's Diary by Amanda Grange;

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

O.A.T.E.S. Challenge

Trish of Hey Lady fame is hosting the O.A.T.E.S Reading Challenge in 2010.

O – Joyce Carol Oates
A – Margaret Atwood
T – Leo Tolstoy
EErnest Hemingway
S – John Steinbeck

I’m nothing if not a fan of changing things up, so if there’s a literary author on par with any author already on this list, and their last name begins with A, T, E, or S (come on, this is the O.A.T.E.S. challenge, you can’t substitute anything for Joyce!), then you can substitute that author in.

Here’s the rules/details:

  • The challenge goes from January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010.
  • Anyone can participate! You do not need a blog!
  • Challenge books can overlap with other challenges.
  • You do not need to pick your books in advance.
  • You can change levels mid-challenge!
  • Levels:
    • Instant OATES – 1 book
    • Old Fashioned OATES – 2 books
    • Rolled OATES – 3 books
    • Steel Cut OATES – 4 books
    • Whole OATES – 5+ books
1. The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck

I *will* be making substitutions. Ernest Hemingway must, must go! So George Eliot may be added to the list in his place. Other substitutions may or may not happen. We'll see.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My Favorite Wife (1940)

My Favorite Wife ~ 1940

This one stars Cary Grant. *swoon* If you're familiar with Doris Day's Move Over Darling (a movie I grew up with, but maybe not everyone does?) then you may be familiar with the story line. This movie is all about a man with two wives. The first wife, thought to be dead--drowned at sea in a terribly tragic accident--comes back from the dead on the exact day that her husband has gotten married. Too late to stop the wedding, but just in time (barely) to stop the honeymoon. The second wife is clueless of course. Which wife will this husband choose? And will he ever TELL the second wife about the first?

There are differences between My Favorite Wife and Move Over Darling (1963). And those differences do matter. I liked the playful ending of My Favorite Wife. It was very funny. And very appropriate I think. I enjoyed both a great deal. I couldn't really choose between the two.

The ending....

Pillow Talk (1959)

Pillow Talk ~ (1959)

Stars Doris Day, Rock Hudson, and Tony Randall. I just *can't* make up my mind which comedy I love more...Pillow Talk...or Lover Come Back. Both are so delightfully funny. At least if you like that sort of nostalgic funny. (I think I'm probably the biggest fan ever of Down with Love because of it.) When I'm watching Pillow Talk, I think it is the best of the two. And when I'm watching Lover Come Back, I just *know* that it is the best. Oh well. What is this one about? Deception, mistaken identities, and bad interior design--or should that last one be vengeance?!

The trailer...

The opening of the movie....

The ending...

Send Me No Flowers (1964)

Send Me No Flowers ~ 1964

Another Doris Day/Rock Hudson/Tony Randall film. This one is about a hypochondriac named George who is convinced he's only got a few weeks to live. What's a good husband to do? Well, if you're George you try to find another husband for your darling little wife so she will have someone to take care of her. Of course, George isn't dying, and his "last few weeks" turn into one big mess. Will that big-mess lead to divorce in the end?

The trailer did NOT hook me. But this movie did have its good moments. Just not as enjoyable as Pillow Talk or Lover Come Back.

Lover Come Back (1961)

Lover Comes Back ~ (1961)

This one stars Doris Day and Rock Hudson. And Tony Randall. It also stars VIP. The wonder-candy with magical effects! I like the foreshadowing of the VIP commercial. Which at the time it is being filmed (the commercial) the product doesn't even exist yet! What is this one about? Well, it's about two people in the advertising business. Carol Templeton and Jerry Webster work for rival companies and are always trying to land the same accounts. Carol does NOT approve of Webster's tactics...and he thinks she's a goody-two-shoes who needs to be taught a lesson. This one has so many great lines, so many great moments. Scenes that make me laugh and laugh no matter how many times I've seen them. This also stars the would-be Alice playing Millie the secretary.

Here's the opening to the movie:

And here is the trailer...


The Gay Divorcee (1934)

The Gay Divorcee ~ (1934)

Let's see, this one stars Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. I had *really* high hopes for this one. My *main* problem with this one is that it had very little plot, very little dialogue. I think you could honestly edit it down to about twenty minutes and have all of the story that matters. Is all the dancing irrelevant for every viewer? Maybe, maybe not. But a lot of the dancing was extra dancing. It didn't even feature all-that-much Rogers and Astaire. There were just dozens and dozens of couples dancing "The Continental" like we should have cared. On the one hand, there were a few scenes that worked for me. Dialogue that made me smile or giggle--in a good way, of course. On the other hand, as I said earlier, if you added all those *good* moments together, you'd have a very short film.

Favorite line(s): "Be feminine and sweet. If you can blend the two."
"You think I'm going to leave you alone with a strange Italian? He might be a tenor!"

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Decades Challenge

I'm so happy to see the Decades challenge return for another year. This year, it's *more* challenging than ever. TEN books, TEN consecutive decades. [Books in the 2000s do not count.]

The Man in the Queue. Josephine Tey. 1929
Ballet Shoes. Noel Streatfeild. 1937.
Miss Hargreaves. Frank Baker. 1940
The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming. 1964.
Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Anne Bronte. 1848. 
Bleak House. Charles Dickens. 1852-1853
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. 1868
Evil Genius. Wilkie Collins. 1886. 

Becky's Wishlist [2010]

I thought I'd start a list this year of books that I see on other blogs that I want to read (and review) myself.

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner [Angieville]
When Mike Kissed Emma by Christine Marciniak [A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy]

Raider's Ransom by Emily Diamond [Carrie's YA Books]
Numbers by Rachel Ward [Jen Robinson's Book Page]
Purge by Sarah Darer Littman [Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf]
Furious George Goes Bananas by Adam Rex [Fuse #8]
Incarceron. Catherine Fisher [A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy)
The Firefly Letters. Margarita Engle. (Bib-laura-graphy)
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce. Reviewed at A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm Reviewed at Welcome to My Tweendom
Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams. [Sarah's Random Musings]
Scumble by Ingrid Law [Bookshelves of Doom]
Boneshaker by Kate Milford [A Patchwork of Books]
Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham [A Patchwork of Books]
Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman [Stuff As Dreams Are Made On]
Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears [Here, There, Everwhere]
The Passage by Justin Cronin [Estella's Revenge]
As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins [The Reading Zone]
Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan. [In the Pages]
Winter Longing by Tricia Mills [Compulsive Reader]
Crunch by Leslie Connor [Tina Says]
Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger [Book Nut]
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney [Bookish Blather]
Where the Streets had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah. [Bookish Blather]
Jane by April Lindner. [Bookish Blather]
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry [Bookish Blather]