Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Jungle Book Movie Review

Earlier today, I wrote a Flashback Friday post about previous film adaptations of The Jungle Book.

This post is about the new adaptation, which premiered in theaters two weeks ago.

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a man-cub living in the jungle. Raised by the wolf pack, led by Akela (Giancarlo Esposito), the boy is simply part of the of the wolf pack, especially to Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o), the female wolf who took him as her own.

Together with Bagheera (Sir Ben Kingsley), the wolves and Bagheera are doing the best they can for Mowgli. But he is still a man-cub. When Shere Khan (Idris Elba) wants Mowgli dead, the wolves and Bagheera decide that it is time for the man cub to be around his own kind. What starts out as a simple journey becomes fraught with complications. Baloo (Bill Murray) wants what is best for Mowgli, but Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and King Louie (Christopher Walken) have ulterior motives.

Fans of the 1967 animated film will be thrilled that the filmmakers kept the narrative and many of the elements that made that film a success. While it is less of a comedy and more of an action film,  it still well done and entertaining.

I recommend it.

The Jungle Book is presently playing in theaters. 

 

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The Flight Of Gemma Hardy Book Review

Jane Eyre is a respected classic. Charlotte’s Bronte’s immortal novel of a young woman who is able to rise above the challenges of her early life to find success, love and happiness has appealed to readers for a century and a half.

The Flight Of Gemma Hardy: A Novel by Margot Livesey takes Jane Eyre out of rural Victorian England and takes the story to 1950’s and 1960’s Scotland. Gemma Hardy lost her parents before she could know them. Taken in by her maternal uncle, who has also passed away, Gemma lives with her uncle’s widow and his children, who resent her and abuse her.

At the age of ten, Gemma receives a scholarship to attend school. It appears to be heaven-sent and freedom from the abuse she received from her aunt and cousins.  But it turns out that Gemma is not going as a student, but as a maid. Eight years later, the school is bankrupt and she finds work as an au pair for the mysterious Mr. Hugh Sinclair. Mr. Sinclair lives in Blackbird Hall on the remote Orkney Island. Gemma’s charge is Mr. Sinclair’s eight year old niece.

Following the narrative of the original novel, Gemma falls in love with her boss and he with her.  But there is a dark secret and a journey that the heroine must go through before she has her happy ending.

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books.  Jane’s tenacity, strength and courage, when she is abused, mocked and taken advantage of shines through every inch of the book.

On the surface, it’s easy to take a classic and put in another era. The difficulty is to take the heart and soul of the original novel and keep those elements intact while changing the specific details of the era. Unfortunately while the author was able to transport the story and characters to Scotland in the 1950’s and 1960’s, she lost the heart and soul of Jane Eyre.

Do I recommend it? No, not even if you’re a Bronte fan.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Late Flashback Friday Post-The Jungle Book-1967 & 1994

A fish out of water is a common tale. Among the many fish out of water tales is The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.  Published in the 1890’s, it told the tale of a young boy named Mowgli who raised among the animals in the Indian Jungle.

In 1967, the Disney film company decided to take the book and turn the story into an animated film. Mowgli (voiced by Bruce Reitherman) is man cub living in the jungle. Baloo the bear (Phil Harris) and Bagheera the panther (Sebastian Cabot) differ on what to do with the man cub. Baloo would be happy to keep Mowgli with him, but Bagheera knows that the boy is in danger should he stay in the jungle.

 

In 1994, a live adaptation was released into theaters, also by Disney. Mowgli (Jason Scott Lee) was raised by animals in the jungle after his father was killed by a tiger. Years later, Mowgli returns to the “civilization” of Colonial India. Reuniting with his childhood sweetheart, Kitty (Lena Headey), Mowgli must find out not only where he belongs, but what he considers to be civilization.

Do I recommend them?

Let me put it this way. The 1967 adaptation is very era centric. The 1994 movie is more of a what if sequel with a bit of Tarzan in the civilized world in it to move the narrative beyond the original tale.

To answer your question, both are a maybe for me.

 

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Flashback Friday-The Patriot (2000)

Family and a parent’s love for their children is the strongest force on Earth.

In the 2000 movie The Patriot, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is a farmer in Revolutionary era South Carolina. A widower with seven children who survived the French Indian War, Benjamin is not initially interested in the war. He simply wants to raise his children.

But his two oldest sons, Gabriel (the late Heath Ledger) and Thomas (Gregory Smith) disagree with their father. Gabriel joins the Patriots against his father’s wishes. The family catches the attention of the brutal Colonel William Tavington  (Jason Isaacs), who burns down the Martin home and kills Thomas.  Torn between protecting his surviving children and avenging his son’s death, Benjamin will soon change his mind about the American’s fight for freedom.

While I am not a huge fan of Mel Gibson, this movie is enjoyable. A history lesson wrapped in the story of a father’s love for his children, the narrative is plausible and the acting is good.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Throwback Thursday- Groovy Television- The Partridge Family (1970-1974) & The Monkees (1966-1968)

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, television began to reflect the very colorful world that America was becoming.

Two very iconic television shows of the era, The Partridge Family (1970-1974) and The Monkees (1966-1968), reflect what it was  to be a part of the era.

The Partridge Family

Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones) is a single mother of five growing children. Her children, led by eldest son Keith (David Cassidy, Shirley Jones’s IRL stepson) convince their mother to form a band and go on the road. Managed by Reuben Kincaid (Dave Madden), this family band can only live the life that was possible in the early 1970’s.

And course, there is the iconic song from the show.

Then there is the Monkees, television’s answer to the Beatles.

Davy (Davy Jones), Micky (Micky Dolenz),  Mike (Michael Nesmith) and Peter (Peter Tork) are the members of The Monkees, a rock and roll band that has a series of wacky adventures.

 

Do I recommend them? They’re harmless, so yes.

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Filed under Music, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

The Marriage Of Opposites Book Review

There is always more to art than meets the eye. There is the life of the artist and the people who influenced them.

In Alice Hoffman’s 2015 book, The Marriage Of Opposites, Rachel Pomie is a young woman living on the island of St. Thomas in the early 19th century. A member of the tight-knit Jewish community who barely escaped the Inquisition, Rachel is the strong-willed, educated daughter of a loving father and a disapproving mother. When her father’s business begins to the falter, Rachel agrees to marry Isaac Petit, a much older widower who has three small children. Within a decade, Rachel will give birth to four children.

Then her husband dies and Rachel must be mother and father to her children and her step-children, whom she has raised as her own. The problem is that the inheritance laws state that women cannot inherit.  Rachel’s property belongs to her late husband’s nephew, Frederick Pizzarro.  Frederick arrives on St. Thomas only knowing that he has just inherited his late uncle’s property.

He does not expect that he will fall in love with Rachel, who is his aunt by marriage and not much older than he. The community shuns them, but despite the outsider status that has befallen them, Rachel and Frederick stick together and raise their children as if nothing is new or different from their neighbors. Among their children is the famed painter Camille Pissarro, who is one of the most respected impressionist painters of his era.

To be honest, this book is a little slow to start. In fact, it is a lot of slow. Rachel is the protagonist for most of the book, we only switch points of view and see the world through Camille’s eyes just after the halfway point in the narrative. While I admire Rachel’s strength and conviction to follow her heart, I just could not connect with her as a heroine.

When a book is slow, I would hope that it builds up steam and explodes, plot wise at some point. I was left with a pitiful puff of smoke.

Do I recommend it? A maybe, possibly leaning toward no.

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Amy Schumer, The Pap Smear And The Truth Of Life In America

Comedy has a way to bring out the truth in the world.

The truth is that as many inroads as women have made, we are still a male dominated society.

Amy Schumer, in her usual gut busting, truth revealing way, has shown that women still need to fight for their rights. True equality is still yet to be ours.

I won’t say anything else, but I will let the video say it all.

Happy Monday.

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Armenian Genocide

Today is the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

1.5 million Armenians were murdered by the then Ottoman empire.

It would be first massacre of civilians in modern history that would be labeled as an act of genocide.

Many of my regular readers know that I often speak of the Holocaust because it is an event in history that is sadly too close for comfort for me.

Genocide is not new to the human race, we have been killing each other since the beginning of our species over mere labels.

Today I stand with my Armenian brothers and sisters. As they remember the loved ones they lost in between 1915 and 1923, I remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered between the years of 1939 and 1945.

Adding salt to the wound, the Turkish government still refuses to acknowledge that their predecessors in 1915 were responsible for the mass murder of the Armenians.

We can only make this world a better place by reaching out to our neighbors and finding the common ground instead of fighting and killing over minor differences.

RIP and Happy Sunday.

 

 

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William Shakespeare

400 years ago today, William Shakespeare breathed his last.

While he lived and died in Elizabeth England, his characters and narratives are universal.

Falling in love, growing old, falling out of love, conflicts with friends, family and neighbors, jealousy, hate, greed were all used within the various narratives of his plays. In addition to being a playwright, Master Shakespeare was poet.

His poetry is so brilliant that it does not have to be translated into modern English to be understood or appreciated.

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.

One of his brilliant strokes as a writer was to create characters that we all can relate to. We have all had to read at least one of his plays in an English class during our school days.

To show how universal his work is (and how easily it can be altered to a new interpretation), I present to you this clip from 10 Things I Hate About You.

A modern high version of Taming Of The Shrew, the Stratford Sisters, Kat and Bianca (Julia Stiles and Larissa Oleynik) are not allowed to date, until their father changes the rules. Bianca can go on a date when Kat does. The only problem is that Kat does not want to date and there is no boy at their high school who would dare approach her for a date.

Enter Patrick Verona (the late Heath Ledger). Initially bribed to take Kat out so Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), can take out Bianca, Patrick is the only one who would dare ask the fierce Kat for a date.

What this adaptation does brilliantly is keep the narrative and characters mostly intact while removing the almost virulent sexism and updating the plot to the late 1990’s.

Rest in peace, sir. Your physical remains are long since dust, but your name and you work lives on.

 

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Flashback Friday- Serendipity (2001)

William Shakespeare once said the following: The course of true love never did run smooth.

In the 2001 movie Serendipity, Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) and Jonathan Trager (John Cusack), met years ago when they were shopping for gloves for their then respective others in Bloomingdale’s in New York City. The attraction was instant. Jonathan was eager to move forward, but Sara was not.  Deciding to test fate, they move on with their lives. Years later, when both Sara and Jonathan are engaged to other people, they begin to question if their relationship was or was not meant to be.

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I am a little selective when it comes to romantic dramas and comedies. There are far too many that are formulaic with predictable plots and one note characters. But this one is not. It has the standard narrative and characters for the genre, without the audience guessing the plot from the trailer.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies, New York City, William Shakespeare