Throwback Thursday- Young Victoria (2009)

On the surface, the role of Queen seems easy. But the reality of being Queen is extremely complicated and not the fairy tale like fantasy that many think it is.

In Young Victoria (2009), Victoria (Emily Blunt) is the daughter of the Duke and Duchess Of Kent. Her late father was the youngest of four boys. Victoria is the only living legitimate child of any of the four brothers. This makes her next in line to be Queen Of England. Her mother, the Duchess Of Kent (Miranda Richardson) and her consort Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) try to use Victoria’s youth to their advantage. But they will be met with resistance.

At the same time, Victoria is being courted by her first cousin, Prince Albert (Rupert Friend).  In the beginning, Albert’s pursuit of Victoria is purely political, but then it turns into something more.  Victoria is young and intelligent, but can she be the Queen that the English people need?

I like this movie. What is shows is that youth is universal, regardless of whether one is the future monarch of England or she is the average Jane Doe. Victoria, as portrayed by Emily Blunt is young and eager, but also intelligent and aware of the extreme challenges that await her as Queen.

I recommend it.


Throwback Thursday-Norma Rae (1979)

Standing up for yourself and what you believe in is never easy.  Especially when standing up for yourself means that you might not be able to put food on the table.

In Norma Rae (1979), the title character, played by Sally Field works in a factory. As a single mother, her job is the only income that allows her to take care of her kids. But the working conditions are intolerable.  A union would provide the workers with the job and the protections that other employees take for granted. But forming a union is dangerous. Does Norma have the courage to form the union or will she meekly go on with her work?

I saw this movie years ago, but it has stayed with me since then. Sometimes in life, we have to take a risk, even if we know what the end result will be if we fail.  After 36 years, this movie continues to be an inspiration for anyone who dares to stand up against injustice.

I recommend it.

The American Ghost Book Review

Family history can sometimes be very interesting. Hannah Nordhaus has a very interesting story to tell.

Hannah’s great-great-grandmother was Julia Staab. While Julia’s physical remains were interred in the earth many years ago, some have reported seeing her spirit at La Posada, the hotel that Julia once called home.

In her new book,  American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest, Ms. Nordhaus documents not just her search for Julia’s spirit, but also the family history before, during and after Julia’s life.   She starts the book with Julia’s husband, Abraham. Leaving Germany as a young man, he earns his living in the New Mexico. Returning to his country of birth, Abraham meets and marries his wife, Julia Staab (nee Schuster).  But their marriage is not all wine and roses.

Like many women of her era, Julia will have multiple children, back to back. While Abraham was able to grow his business to the point of providing his wife and children with a financially and materially comfortable life, he rules his family with an iron fist.  Traveling between New Mexico and Germany, Ms. Nordhaus takes the reader on a fantastic journey.

This book was highly recommended and rightly so. There are many writers, when switching between the past and present will loose the reader. Ms. Nordhaus is not one of these authors. This book is entertaining, gripping and if the reader is a history buff, it is an interesting way to learn about the late 19th century.

I recommend it.

Throwback Thursday-Jumanji (1995)

To some, a board game is just that. But in Jumanji, it is much more.

Alan Parrish (the late Robin Williams) has been stuck inside to the game Jumanji for decades. Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) have just lost their parents. Moving to new town with their aunt Nora (Bebe Neuwirth), they discover the game and start to play. Alan returns from the game. Now they must finish what was started decades ago by Alan and his childhood best friend Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) before the game takes over the city.

This movie is interesting. It certainly has more action than a typical Robin Williams movie. But underneath the action and the humor is a sense of loss that can only be undone when the main characters must finish what has already been started.

I recommend it.


Throwback Thursday- The Schlubby Guy And The Pretty Girl-Shallow Hal (2001) & Knocked Up (2007)

Every now and then, Hollywood comes up with the the following storyline: the schlubby guy and the pretty girl. They meet, fall in love and end up together.

In 2001, Shallow Hal put a new twist on this theme. On his father’s deathbed, young Hal (Jack Black) makes a promise to only date pretty women.  Years later, Hal meets Tony Robbins, who hypnotizes him. Hal will only see the inner beauty of women.  Then Hal meets Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow). Due to his hypnosis, Hal cannot see that Rosemary is obese.  When the hypnosis is undone by Mauricio (Jason Alexander), Hal’s best friend who is just as shallow as he is, will the relationship survive?

I have mixed feelings about this movie. Rosemary could be construed as a caricature, especially when played by a skinny actress like Paltrow.  But there is also a lesson that the movie teaches without being too preachy.

Six years later, another movie premiered based on this basic premise. In Knocked Up (2007), Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) is your average irresponsible party animal stoner man-child. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl), the average type A, straight forward hardworking woman. They meet at a club where Alison is celebrating her promotion. Alison finds herself pregnant after their one night stand and now Ben is trying become the mature hard working father to be.

This movie is not as offensive as some have stated. But the screenplay does at moments, descend into humor that only a 14 year old boy would appreciate.

Do I recommend them? Yes, but I recommend Knocked Up more than I recommend Shallow Hal.

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