Throwback Thursday: Pinocchio (1940)

Disney has been part of our collective culture for almost a century. The characters and narratives have become part of who we are as individuals and as a society.

The original animated film Pinocchio (1940) is one of the company’s earliest classics. Based on the fairy tale of the same name by Carlo Collodi, it is the story of a man who wants to be a father and a puppet named Pinocchio who wants to be a real boy. Guided by a Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio must learn right from wrong and how to trust his instincts.

Though the message is a bit simplistic, it certainly sticks. What makes the movie for me is the story of family and growing up, two subjects that we can all relate to. Do I recommend it? Yes.

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On a Night Like This Book Review

Change does not happen when we wish it to happen. Change happens when we make it happen.

The romance novel, On a Night Like This, by Lindsey Kelk, was published last month. Fran Cooper knows that she wants to change her life. She also knows that she needs a job. Her relationship with her fiance has become almost too comfortable. When she is offered a short-term position to work for a major celebrity as a personal assistant, Fran jumps at the chance.

Juliette is a superstar and a diva with a capital D. The long list of rules and the exacting schedule that Fran has to keep up with would make the average person’s head explode. Juliette is supposed to perform at the Crystal Ball, a once-a-year event in which only 1% of the 1% receive an invitation.

The job that is supposed to be just that changes when she meets Evan. Over the course of the evening, they connect but promise to keep certain details to themselves. There is, however, one catch. Evan is on the guest list, Fran is not. What they have could end after that night. But, given the right circumstances, it has the potential to last much longer than either anticipated.

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I liked this book. It has a Cinderella-esque, fairy tale feeling that is just enough without overwhelming the narrative. I respected understood Fran’s practicality and professionalism under circumstances that would drive most people insane. Evan has a lovely Prince Charming quality about him that is still grounded in reality.

Unlike other heroines in similar novels, this story is not about Fran finding love. That narrative is secondary. It’s about understanding that wishing for something and doing what we need to do to make it happen are two different things entirely. There is no fairy godmother who is able to turn a pumpkin into a coach. Taking her fate into her own hands, it is the decision to make the figurative jump into the unknown that opens the door to new possibilities.

My only complaint is that it took a little too long for Fran and Evan to meet. But when they did, the chemistry was instant. It’s the reason I hung on until the final page.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Spencer Movie Review

Spending time with the family during the holidays can be a wonderful and heartwarming experience. It can also be emotionally fraught with unspoken emotions and arguments that have yet to be resolved.

The new movie, Spencer, takes place over Christmas in the early 1990s. Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart), as tradition commands, is spending the holiday with her husband and her in-laws. Her “fairy tale” marriage to Prince Charles (Jack Farthing) is at its breaking point. Reigned in by Major Alistar Gregory (Timothy Spall), the only person she can trust is her dresser, Maggie (Sally Hawkins). As her mental health declines and she begins to see the ghost of Anne Boleyn (Amy Manson), she has a choice. Diana can continue to stay where she is and spiral out of control or break free, knowing that her life will never be the same.

OMG. Spencer is not only one of the best films of the year, but also a surefire contender come award season. Stewart’s Diana is truly exceptional. This is a woman who just wants love, but is treated as a commodity by the ones who are closest to her. She tries to fit in, but it is quite obvious that Diana sticks out like a sore thumb. I have zero complaints about this movie. The tension starts with the opening shot and does not let up until the credits roll. It is gloriously uncomfortable to watch, knowing what we know about Diana’s all too short life.

My favorite aspect of this film is that it destroys the myth that American actors cannot play British characters. While we generally accept British actors (i.e. Man of Steel) playing American characters, the same cannot be said when the situation is flipped. The most frequent complaint is that the accent the performer uses is more of a caricature than the real deal. Stewart is so good in the role that I almost forgot that I was watching a piece of fiction and not a documentary.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Spencer is currently in theaters.

Enchanted Book Review

I have a love/hate relationship with fairy tales.

I love them because they represent hope, love and all of the good things that the future can bring.  I hate them because not only do they contain stock characters that are uninteresting, but they continue to teach young girls that the only thing they should want or need in life is marriage and children.

Alethea Kontis’s 2013 novel, Enchanted is a very interesting novel.

Sunday Woodcutter is the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter. She and all of her sisters are named for the day of the week. Her only solace from her busy, noisy household is writing. While writing near a lake, a frog with human like attributes asks her to read to him. She agrees and the relationship quickly turns from friendship into something deeper.

One night, she kisses her frog goodbye.  What she does not know is the frog is Prince Rumbold, who was though to be dead because of a curse linked to Sunday’s family. The king announces a series of balls. At the ball, Rumbold instantly recognizes Sunday, but she does not know the the frog and the prince are one and the same. With dark magic about and the secret of his former non humanoid experience hanging over him, will Rumbold be able to tell Sunday the truth so they can live happily ever after?

I loved this book. Combining three of the most famous fairy tales (Cinderella, Jack And The Bean Stalk, The Frog Prince) in a very readable way, the author was able to re-shape the stories without resorting to the one note and predictable “some day my prince will come” style of storytelling. In short, she is able to utilize the standard character and plot that a reader would expect in a fairy tale, but the novel is written in a way that keeps the reader hooked to the very end.

I absolutely recommend this book.

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