Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea

Late this afternoon, as thunder rumbled and rain pelted the windows, I had the pleasure of watching movie number three on my list of Best Picture nominated films. I was especially interested in this movie because Manchester by the Sea was the first film distributed by a streaming service…in this case Amazon…to ever be nominated in the best picture category. 

Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea
Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler and Lucas Hedges. Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, this drama is rated R for strong language and sexuality and has a run time of 2 hours and 16 minutes. Manchester by the Sea was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Affleck, Best Supporting Actor for Hedges and Best Supporting Actress for Williams. It won twice, with Casey earning Best Actor, and with an Oscar for Best Screenplay. 

Lee Chandler (Affleck) returns home to Manchester after receiving word that his brother Joe (Chandler) has died. Long estranged from his family and the community he grew up in, Lee intends to settle his brother’s affairs and be back in Boston in a week. 

Plans unravel when he learns that Joe made Lee sole guardian of his teenage son, Patrick (Hedges). At a loss about how to reconnect with his nephew, Lee struggles with this overwhelming responsibility. As he attempts to help Patrick through his loss, Lee finds being in Manchester brings him face to face with painful reminders of his past, including his ex-wife Randi (Williams). 

Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea

Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea

Can Lee find healing near the sea as he fights his personal demons, or will he continue to flee? 

Manchester by the Sea is a frank and gritty look at life when the journey is impacted by horrific tragedy. Casey Affleck offers one of the most moving and honest portrayals of a broken man that I have ever seen in a film, and deserved his Oscar. I lost count of the number of times my eyes filled with tears. 

Although it has been described as a depressing movie, I have to disagree. Manchester by the Sea certainly delivers an emotional punch, yet it feels so authentic, so realistic, that it creates an empathetic ache around the heart. 

Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea
This film is a glimpse into a life suspended by pain and given over to resignation. Lee embodies a journey interrupted and the choice to withdraw from the flow of life and instead watch it pass him by. He gets by, far from being able to offer anything to anyone, simply waiting for his existence to be over. 

And yet.. and yet…life continually offers the chance to re-engage, to heal, to truly live again. And so it is with Lee. His heart has been so barricaded against feeling anything. The one person who might be able to chip away at the wall is his nephew, who in dealing with his loss, just wants everything to stay normal and remain the same. 

Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea
Manchester by the Sea refuses to allow a love interest or a friend to rescue Lee, and I appreciated that. This is very much a man’s solitary journey and ultimately, the only person who can save Lee, is Lee. 

Don’t expect a traditional transformation or neatly framed happy ending. Instead, treasure the small shifts, the stirrings, the bits of thawing around a heart frozen by grief and guilt. Manchester by the Sea doesn’t so much warm the soul as it shines a light into the dark regions of it and offers hope. 

This Best Picture nominated film is worth a thoughtful viewing. Well done, Amazon. I am grateful for the amazing vision of this company, and I look forward to seeing what they offer next. 

Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea

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Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge

Every year after the Academy Awards air, I watch each of the Best Picture nominated films. It’s a tradition, and one I enjoy. And every year, there is one movie on the list of eight or nine that I don’t look forward to watching. I usually get that one out of the way quickly. Most of the time, the movie proves to be stellar and I am grateful that I watched it.

This year, the movie that I didn’t think I would like was Hacksaw Ridge. War movies are at the bottom of my list, genre wise. I rented the DVD of this film with low expectations and a desire to see it and check it off my list.

Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge
Hacksaw Ridge stars Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths and Vince Vaughn. This biographical drama, based on a true story, was directed by Mel Gibson. Rated R for scenes of war time violence, the movie has a run time of 2 hours and 19 minutes. Hacksaw Ridge was nominted for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director for Gibson and Best Actor for Garfield. It won two Oscars, for Film Editing and Sound Mixing.

Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge
Desmond Doss (Garfield) grew up with an alcholic father, Tom (Weaving), a WWI veteran, and a Seventh Day Adventist mother, Bertha (Griffiths). A couple of family incidents make a deep impact on young Desmond, causing him to abhor weapons and violence.

Desmond, now grown, has a pretty fiancé Dorothy (Palmer) and lives with contentment. However, as WWII escalates, he decides to join the Army and protect his country, while adhering to his beliefs.

Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge
The Army, it seems, objects to a conscientious objector. Determined to prevent Desmond from serving as a medic, his superior officers, Sgt Howell (Vaughn) and Captain Glover (Worthington), make military life difficult for him. He endures disciplinary actions, a beating, ridicule and discrimination, and yet never wavers in his decision to serve his country while not carrying a weapon. Killing someone is strongly against Desmond’s beliefs.

During a court martial hearing against him, for refusing a direct order to qualify with a rifle, Desmond at last receives permission to train as a medic and not carry a weapon. Desmond’s father, whose life has been so devasted by war and who did not want his son to join the Army, pulls himself together and pulls in a favor that allows his son to stay in the military.

Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge
Desmond and his comrades arrive in Okinawa, where the Japanese are entrenched and beating back battalion after battalion atop Hacksaw Ridge. The fighting is intense, bloody and horrific, with many, many casualties.

Beliefs are challenged.

Will Desmond, who has been called a coward for refusing to fire a rifle, be able to endure such a catastrophic battle? Can Desmond hold to his beliefs against using weapons? Can the other soldiers trust a man who would rather die than shoot?

Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge
The first half of this film caught my interest and held it. I was sympathetic to Desmond’s story and empathized with his plight. Garfield turned in a superb performance as the gentle, likable young man who had a patriotic desire to serve and an objection to killing.

I started off liking Desmond, and came to deeply respect him. He had a strong belief system, and he honored it, no matter what anyone said, no matter what happened.

The second half of the movie was extremely difficult for me to watch. The Battle of Okinawa was brutal, in every way. While I can appreciate the amazing special effects and CGI and editing, watching the battle scenes was like experiencing rapid punches to my gut. And yet…I could not look away. I had connected with these characters, especially Desmond. I cared about what happened to them.

Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge
Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge                        The real Desmond Doss 

Historically, no other conscientious objector has ever fought on the front lines without a weapon. Nor has one rescued 75 fallen soldiers, alone, behind enemy lines, without firing a shot. Medic Desmond Doss did both.

I was in tears by the film’s end. And deeply moved. This was a real story, about real people, with real results. I learned about grace and unswerving conviction, courage and trust, compassion and forgiveness. It was a big, messy, agonizingly powerful movie…and it was beautiful.

Hacksaw Ridge. I am so glad that I watched it.

Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge

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Oscar Night 2017

For many people, Super Bowl Sunday is the most anticipated winter tv program. I do watch that sporting event. However, it is not the most keenly anticipated show for me. All my life, the end of December has not only signaled the end of the year, it signals the countdown to my favorite televised event…the Academy Awards, nicknamed the Oscars. 

Oscar Night 2017

I am posting in the blog during commercial breaks, as this award show typically concludes late in the evening. And I am loving the program already. Justin Timberlake performed one of the nominated songs as the opener, a lively number that had attendees on their feet, dancing in the aisles. I applauded as heartily as anyone. 

I confess to a slight trepidation, leading up to the award show. With the highly charged political climate that we currently live in, I felt my anticipation diminished by the concern that tonight’s focus would shift from the movies and spectacular performances to divisive speeches and statements. 

This is what I had to do…let my concerns go. I accepted that everyone is allowed to share their thoughts and opinions. Everyone. And if I reacted to something said, whether by host Jimmy Kimmel or a presenter or an actor accepting an Oscar, that’s on me, that’s something to go within and inquire about. 

Problem solved. Joy restored. 

Oscar Night 2017

Oscar Night 2017Yeah…I take notes.



I needn’t have been concerned. Host Jimmy Kimmel set the tone for the evening with a light hearted opening monologue. “We are going to have fun tonight!” Jimmy promised. I applauded again. 

Here are the six top awards:

Oscar Night 2017
The first winner of the evening was Mahershala Ali, for Moonlight. If Jimmy set the tone for the award show, Mahershala raised the bar for acceptance speeches. He was humble, gracious, sincere. “It’s not about you,” he was told as a new actor, “You are serving the characters, the stories.” My heart was pierced by his words, his tears. Mahershala is an actor to watch, as he tells stories. 

Oscar Night 2017
Viola Davis picked up the Oscar for her performance in Fences. Through tears she shared passionately that she became an actress because this is a profession that knows what it means to celebrate life…not just well known publically recognized lives, but the lives of common everyday people who hoped and dreamed and lived and died. She was asked, as an actress, “What kind of stories do you want to tell?” Viola is answering that question through the characters she chooses to portray. 

Oscar Night 2017
Emma Stone captured this award, her first, for her role in La La Land. She thanked the other nominees for allowing her to stand alongside them. Through tears she said she still has a lot of learning and growing to do, and her Oscar is a symbol, a sign, to continue on her journey. 

Oscar Night 2017

Casey Affleck, humble and searching for the right words, picked up his first Oscar for Manchester by the Sea. His acting career has been inspired by Denzel Washington, whom he met for the first time tonight. 

Oscar Night 2017
Damien Chazelle, La La Land, picked up his first Oscar and is the youngest director in history to win in the Best Director category. He is 32 years old. 

Oscar Night 2017

In all the years that I’ve watched the Oscars, I’ve never seen the wrong winner announced. It happened tonight, for the top award, Best Picture. The presenters were given the wrong envelope, which contained the winner for Best Actress Emma Stone, La La Land. Confused, they hesitated and at last announced La La Land as the winner. During the acceptance speech, one of the supposed winners broke the news that they had actually lost…and Moonlight was the correct winner. I was as confused as everyone else was! I was hoping La La Land would win. But I was impressed with the graciousness of the La La Land cast and the Moonlight group. I wish both could have walked off the stage with Oscars. 

I so enjoyed the evening. There were many surprises, such as a bus full of unsuspecting tourists who got a peek inside the theater, and a funny Mean Tweets segment where actors read trolls’ comments about them on Twitter. And a huge number of firsts occurred: all the major categories were won by people receiving their first Oscars, Amazon had its first big movie nominated, Manchester by the Sea, and it won in two categories, the youngest director in history won, and for the first time a major goof at the end caused the wrong film to be announced as Best Picture. Wow. 

Oscar Night 2017
For me, the biggest surprise (other than the unintentional twist at the end) was finding out what this year’s theme was for the Academy Awards…Inspiration. I didn’t know until the theme was revealed, half way through the show. My mouth fell open. I loved my personal connection with the word, my word for 2017, and that men and women shared throughout the evening about the films, characters and actors who inspired them. 

And there were tears, shed by winners as they spoke from their hearts, and shed by me during those acceptance speeches, during moving performances of the nominated songs, and when Michael J Fox, who is battling Parkinson’s disease, presented for Film Editing. 

Oscar Night 2017
The Memorial segment is especially poignant, as actors who have died in the past year are honored for their contributions to the world, and for their lives. We lost so many bright shining souls, passionate gifted people who devoted their lives to following their hearts. We have been blessed by their dedication. 

I was inspired tonight. I have nine Best Picture nominated films to watch and I made a list of other movies, shorts and documentaries to view as well. In fact, for the first time, I would like to watch all of the winners, in all of the categories, a lofty goal for sure, a challenge I am presenting to myself. 

I appreciated the diversity of the 89th Academy Awards. Although La La Land collected the most Oscars with six wins, no movie overshadowed the others. The winners were from countries around the world including Italy, Syria, Iran, Canada, France and England. All races, colors, genders and ages were represented, celebrated, and honored. 

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, summed up the evening perfectly. She said, “The power of art transcends all things…the magic of movies, that’s what we celebrate tonight.” 

Yes…yes!

Oscar Night 2017

Journey 336: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

My sister Linda and I had the opportunity this evening to watch the final installment in the Hunger Games franchise. Although I have not read the books that this series is based upon, I have seen all the movies, most of them with my sister. 

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, henceforth called Mockingjay 2, stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The adventure sci-fi was directed by Francis Lawrence and is based on the novels by Suzanne Collins. Mockingjay 2 is rated PG-13, for adult themes and violence, and has a run time of 2 hours and 17 minutes. 

Picking up exactly where Mockingjay Part 1 ended, the film continues the saga of young heroine Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence). Having survived previous Hunger Games and unrest and war in the Distrcts, Katniss has become the face of the rebellion. Accompanied by a select group of highly trained warriors, Katniss heads toward the Capitol, with the goal of taking out President Snow (Surherland), the man that she blames for the turbulence in Panem. 

  
Katniss has the backing of President Coin (Moore), leader of the freed districts that are seeking unity. And the quiet support of former games developer Plutarch Heavensbee (Hoffman) and her old friend and mentor Haymitch (Harrelson). President Coin uses Katniss to create propaganda films to rally and continue to unite the refugees from the districts. 

But Katniss is single minded in her determination to bring peace to Panem by ridding it of the leadership that would control an entire population by taking children from each district and pitting them against each other in the Games. All that Katniss holds dear is at stake as she fights her way to the Capitol, in a final Hunger Games type display . Her family. Her country. Her freedom. And the two men that she holds most dear, Peeta (Hutcherson) with whom she formed an alliance during the Hunger Games. And Gale (Hemsworth), her childhood love. 

  
Whom will she choose, should they all three survive the attack on the Capitol? And whom can she trust, to ensure that the horrific tragedies of the past are not repeated? 

Since I had not read the books, and I’ve avoided spoilers, I had no idea how this story was going to end. Because of that, this was an intense movie for me! There were high action sequences, with enough random explosions and things that jumped out at the troop of characters, that I stayed on edge. I twitched several times. And I had no idea who would survive until the end. In my estimation, no character was safe, no matter how important. 

  
Overall, it was a very satisfying conclusion to a great story. There were twists and turns, angst, heartbreak, and difficult decisions. And ultimately courage to face what must be faced to create a new world where everyone, especially the youngest citizens of Panem, were free to pursue their own lives and live in peace. It was touching to see Philip Seymour Hoffman again in his final film. I appreciated him as an actor. 

A big thumbs up for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2…and another drawn out series comes to a close. From the many previews shown before the movie started, there appears to be more great movies on the way. I’m always game for that. See you at the movies! 

  

Day 318: Hollywood Film Awards

Hollywood Film Award Logo

As I have often shared during this year of blogging about first experiences, I am a huge fan of films. I’ve enjoyed watching movies all my life. And more than that, movies speak deeply to me. I don’t just watch a film. I take it in. I ponder it. I receive from it. I draw life lessons from the story being portrayed on the big screen. I also love film award shows. In my family, I am known for my devotion to the Oscars. On Academy Award night, they don’t call, text or visit. They all know it is my special night to watch my favorites win and also to get acquainted with movies I want to view after the awards are all given out.

My first tonight was to watch the Hollywood Film Awards (HFA) as they debuted on national television for their first time. I have heard of this award event, founded in 1997, which is known as the precursor for the Oscars. In fact, the HFA officially launches the award season. When I saw a preview for the 18th Annual Hollywood Film Awards recently, I was excited to be a part of their premiere this evening.

I enjoyed the show! I wondered how the format would differ from the Oscars or the Golden Globes. It was quite different. The winners were already determined and were present to receive their awards. While there was no guessing who was going to win, which is part of the fun with the other two film award shows, this type of format allowed for more focus on the winner in each category. I liked that the presenter of the award had a personal connection to the winner. The film clips not only showed portions of the movies, but behind the scenes interviews and comments. The show flowed well and had a much shorter running time than the traditional award shows with multiple nominees.

Queen Latifah hosted the first ever televised HFA and did a good job, interacting with the audience and introducing presenters. There were 18 categories awarded live tonight and another 8 that were awarded prior to the show. Some of the top awards went to Gone Girl (Film), Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game (Actor), Julianne Moore, Still Alice (Actress), How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Animation), Guardians of the Galaxy (Blockbuster) and Morten Tyldem, The Imitation Game (Director). Best song went to “What is Love?” from Rio 2.

I liked the addition of unique awards including Breakout Performance Awards for Shailene Woodley, The Fault in Your Stars, and Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything, and the Ensemble Award for the cast of Foxcatcher. Michael Keaton received the Career Achievement Award while an emotional Jack O’Connell, Unbroken, picked up the New Hollywood Award.

As in the other award ceremonies, acceptance speeches were held to a time limit, with music signaling that the winner should wrap up his or her words. Sometimes, a speech can make me squirm. For the most part, though, it is during these actors’ moments of speaking honestly from their hearts, with accompanying laughter or tears, that my heart is engaged. I don’t place actors on any kind of pedestal. I do recognize that these are talented people who are passionate about their craft and who love what they do. As they share, that love, that joy, shines through. Listening to them, I am inspired to seek that which brings me such joy.

Meryl Streep says, “Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what’s apparently different , then finding myself in there.” As I watch these men and women transform into someone else, and find myself transported to other times, other places, the same becomes true for me. I find the apparent differences and the similarities in the characters I am watching. I find the challenges, the growth, the joy. And then, I find parts of myself in there.

Hollywood Film Award Queen Latifah

Full list of categories and winners.

Day 167: X-Men: Days of Future Past

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As I wrote in an earlier blog post, I love hero movies. I grew up reading Marvel and DC comics. When the first X-Men movie came out in 2000, I was there to see it. Two of my favorite older actors were in it, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, so I knew I would enjoy it! Tonight, for my first, I saw the latest film in the X-Men saga, Days of Future Past. Linda went with me and this was a first for her as well….this was her first time to see an X-Men movie.

X-Men: Days of Future Past stars Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Halle Berry and is directed by Bryan Singer. It is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 2 hours and 11 minutes. It is a sci-fi adventure.

I enjoy storylines that explore the possibility of traveling back in time, especially those that are attempting to right a wrong. Don’t we all wish we could go back, and change a choice we made or correct a wrong we did? I know I have thought about being able to do that very thing. In the opening scene of this movie, we see a very bleak world where mutants, and humans who help them, are being mercilessly hunted down and killed by robots known as Sentinels. Created in 1973, they have wreaked havoc on the world. The X-Men have decided someone needs to go back and stop Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence, whose actions in 1973 brought about the current situation. The only X-Man strong enough to endure having his consciousness sent back to his counterpart in the 70’s is Wolverine, wonderfully portrayed by Hugh Jackman .

His mission is to find the younger Prof. Charles Xavier, played by Patrick Stewart, and Eric/Magneto, played by Ian McKellen and convince them to find Mystique and prevent her from killing the creator of the Sentinels. She was captured in 1973 and her DNA used to enable the Sentinels to adapt to any mutant that they encountered, more effectively killing them off. I enjoyed the continuing story of the younger counterparts to Charles and Eric, portrayed by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, respectively. These two have long had a friendship/enemy relationship, or, as Linda described it, they are frenemies. And Wolverine is always a joy  to watch!

These are movies fun, full of action, and include good dollops of humor. And yet I found nuggets to ponder. The whole movie is built upon the premise that the future isn’t really set. Charles says, at the end of the movie, “The past: a new and uncertain world. A world of endless possibilities and infinite outcomes. Countless choices define our fate: each choice, each moment – a moment in the ripple of time. Enough ripple, and you change the tide… for the future is never truly set.” The characters also discuss whether a person can be changed, or no matter what is done to affect change, does that person return to who they really are and continue on. Good questions to think about!

I have thought about my own past and what changes I would make if I could go back and redo or undo some choices I’ve made. I know that can’t be done and to dwell on what is past is a waste of my energy. What I can do, is be mindful of the choices I am making NOW, knowing that my future and ultimately my past, is going to be affected by those decisions. I still wish I had a super power though!

Day 143: Godzilla 2014

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After an emotional week, with the tornado anniversary, I wanted today’s first to be light and fun. My sister Linda and I originally intended to take a line dancing lesson this evening. We showed up, but no one else did! I took that as a very strong sign to redirect. So we checked movie listings and times and headed to the theater with the intention of seeing the new X-Men movie. When we arrived at the theater, and saw the number of cars in the parking lot, we considered the fact that the X-Men movie just released today and since we only had a few minutes before the movie started, and we agreed we didn’t want to sit on the front row in the theater, we opted instead for Godzilla.

It was a good decision for a light hearted, fun first. The movie had great special effects, and a decent story line. We enjoyed it and had a wonderful time discussing it afterwards. The movie stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Olsen and was directed by Garth Edwards. It is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 2 hours and 3 minutes.

Without giving away too much of the movie, Godzilla is more than a film about a mega monster on a rampage. In fact, Godzilla may not be the “bad guy” in this movie at all! It is a movie with several themes running through it including man’s negative effect on nature, the fragility of family relationships and allowing balance in nature to be maintained in the way it is meant to be. There is nothing very deep or powerful here. It is intended as a fun film and a remake of the original Godzilla movie.

And that is why I wanted to see this new version. I grew up watching the old Godzilla movies, with the Japanese actors and the English voice overs that never quite matched up with the lips moving. As a kid, I didn’t care about that. I just enjoyed seeing this massive, if somewhat clumsy, monster scare people. I was most familiar with the 1962 version, but I watched them all, including Mothra vs Godzilla. I’m pretty sure I owned a Godzilla figurine.

This latest remake was reminiscent of the Mothra vs Godzilla movie as it features Mothra type creatures that Godzilla does battle with. The Japanese element is there, although thankfully, there were no voice overs or lips moving without words. Maybe it was just our audience, but the first few times Ken Watanabe’s character said the name “Godzilla”, there were giggles and outright laughter. I confess Linda and I were among those who chuckled.

I’m glad we ended up here. I needed to smile and laugh and remember a childhood favorite. And hanging out for a couple of hours with the world’s most famous monster was like running into a friend that I hadn’t seen since kindergarten. It was fun to catch up, remember a few stories and be amazed at how much time has passed since last we met.

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Godzilla, 1962

Day 66: Watch Mr. Peabody & Sherman Movie

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As I have shared previously, I love movies. I am blessed to have a granddaughter who shares my passion and enjoyment of films. At the age of five, she has an impressive collection of DVDs that rivals mine.

Today’s first was to go see Mr. Peabody & Sherman, on opening night no less, with Aubrey and my sister Linda. We made it a girls’ night out with dinner at Chick-Fil-A ( where I enjoyed grilled chicken bites and a fruit cup), the movie, and funny pics in the photo booth to commemorate the evening.

Aubrey has been waiting to see this animated feature. When she realized it opened today, she made a request, via her dad, to go to the movie theater. I was happy to oblige. We invited my sister, who is Gigi to all the kids in the family, because she is always a fun companion. I felt a tug of nostalgia watching the dog-father, human-son duo. These characters were first introduced in the 1960’s as regulars on The Rocky and Bullwinkle show. They had a segment called “Peabody’s Improbable History” where they time travelled and met famous figures and witnessed historical events.

The movie keeps the premise and freshens the story with fast paced action, a bit of school age romance, and more back story on Mr. Peabody and Sherman and their adoptive relationship. The movie contains an abundance of humor for the kids and for the adults, puns that cracked us up and caused Aubrey to turn to me several times and ask, “Why is that funny?”

Overall, it was a fun movie. As always, I enjoyed watching Aubrey watch the movie as much as I enjoyed seeing it myself. Like me, she absorbs a film, repeating dialogue to herself and often acting out scenes for days after the final credits. I love discussing the story and characters with her afterward and hearing her keen insights. The world is fresh and new when seen through the eyes of a child and her perspective on a movie we’ve just seen delights and impresses me.

During the previews, my granddaughter picked out several upcoming movies that she wants to see. I look forward to each one. I look forward to being Aubrey’s movie companion!

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Day 61: 86th Academy Awards Bingo

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This was not my first time to watch the Oscars. No, I’ve been watching this yearly event for most of my life. My family knows not to contact me on Oscar night, unless it’s an emergency. When my kids were little, their daddy would entertain them in another room or take them out for the evening so I could watch the Academy Awards without distraction. That’s how meaningful this show has been, and is, to me.

Naturally, I wanted to be able to incorporate today’s first into this special evening. I had planned a small viewing party, but the weather canceled that plan. So for today’s first, I printed out a ballot so I could vote and keep track of the winners. And I printed out Oscar Bingo cards. Greg and I watched for things to cross off, like “bilingual acceptance”, “#Oscars” and “name mangled”. Neither of us yelled out “Bingo!”, but it was a fun activity, and something I had not done before.

The theme for tonight’s show was “Heroes”. I enjoyed the tributes to the many types of heroes portrayed on the big screen over the years. There was a special nod to The Wizard of Oz, this being that movie’s 75th anniversary. The Memoriam brought a tear to my eyes, as those in the film industry who have recently passed were honored. Their works live on as a legacy to future generations of movie goers. Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” at the end of the memorial segment was very fitting.

I didn’t do well on the ballot, only correcting predicting 8 of the 24 winners. But that’s okay. I don’t watch the Academy Awards to see how many of my favorites win. I watch because movies have been, and continue to be, such an important part of my life. They speak to me, deeply. By drawing me into the story that they weave, movies impart to me lessons for life. I watch a movie that captures me, over and over again, until there is nothing more to receive from that particular story. Some movies, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I’ve watched 20 or more times. With each viewing, another nugget of wisdom is uncovered, another significant truth is revealed. The Oscars honor the year’s best movies, and I watch to pay tribute as well.

I was delighted that Frozen won for best animated film. And the song from that movie, MY song for this year, Let It Go, won best song. Twelve Years a Slave took home the best picture award. I realized as I checked my ballot that I had not seen even one of the nine movies nominated for best picture. That’s unusual for me. I intend to rectify that by watching all nine films. That can be a first me in this year of firsts, one I will enjoy a great deal!

Day 12: Back to Back Movies at the Theater

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Movies have been such an important part of my life. They speak to me, deeply, of life and the journeys we all must take. Some captivate me and I watch them over and over…and over, until I’ve taken in all that they have to offer to me.

Today’s first was watching two movies at the theater, back to back. This was a special treat because playing at my local theater was The Legend of Hercules and Saving Mr. Banks, two movies that connect me to favorites from my childhood. As a child, I loved the epic, hero type stories such as Hercules and Jason and the Argonauts. These movies invited me into a larger story of adventure and destiny. Watching them, something would stir in my heart and I believed there was greatness in me, too. Mary Poppins fired up my imagination and helped me to see how magical the world was. Umbrella in hand, I leapt from the top of my swing set, willing myself to fly.

Watching this current version of Hercules was pure fun. It made me think of my childhood and those Saturday afternoons at the neighborhood theater, where legends came to life and good always prevailed over evil. The cinematography and special effects were much better than in those old movies. Thankfully, good still prevailed!

I got a lump in my throat as soon as the opening score started for Saving Mr. Banks. What a wonderful telling of the story behind the Disney classic. It was nostalgic, hearing the familiar tunes created, and seeing the storyline for Mary Poppins come together. And the depiction of PL Travers and Walt Disney was excellent. Saving Mr. Banks is a film about knowing when to let go of the past and engage in life again.  I was deeply moved.

Once again, I was delighted with the way this day arranged itself. The movies were literally back to back with just enough time between them to move from one theater to another. I couldn’t have asked for two movies that more captured my childhood and to have them playing at the same theater at the perfect times was, well, magical!