The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) from Blueprint Pictures
Rated TV-14. Drama, Historical, Romance, War

My thoughts: “You have to write about them… This is your story to tell, as sure as I’m sitting here. And you will not be right until you do.”

Every writer needs to be inspired. In the aftermath of World War II, Juliet, a writer in London, follows the tug of inspiration to visit a hodgepodge of book club members on the island of Guernsey.

And here we have a lovely and compelling story about the blessing of books in the midst of horror, and finding people with whom one belongs. Though it didn’t captivate me at every moment, this is one of those rare instances when I like a film better than the novel it’s based on.

Granted, for me, a story told entirely through characters’ written correspondence does not work in a novel’s favor. While it has its creative points, that type of (rather choppy) storytelling tends to make me feel removed from a story, as if I’m reading bits “about” what’s happening and never get to step into the story itself and experience it right along with the characters.

The screen brings these people to life in a different way, making them more accessible. I couldn’t be so indifferent to Juliet here as I was when I read about her. This story truly benefits from giving its audience a chance to look into The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society members’ eyes, and having the music there to enhance certain images is a notable advantage.

I enjoyed seeing the vitality of book discussions, the illustration of what literature, and the sharing of literature, does for us. Plus, being a writer myself, I’m partial to books and movies about writers. I’ll admit I cried while watching Juliet truly go to work toward the end (well, maybe I cried through most of the last fifth of the film or so), and the opening of the closing credits is just brilliant.

I also got a kick out of seeing the nice handful of actors from Downton Abbey, but that’s beside the point.

My corresponding reading: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron by Alex Irvine

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Phase Two: Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron by Alex Irvine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Tony Stark and Dr. Bruce Banner (Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk) have good intentions when they begin working on a global peacekeeping system. But when the plan goes awry, Iron Man, the Hulk, and the rest of the Avengers will have to stop Ultron from destroying humanity in Avengers: Age of Ultron, adapted by Alex Irvine.

So, in my journey through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’m past the point when I might have “had” to know exactly what happens in Age of Ultron. But I decided to go back and read the story based on the screenplay anyway. I’m glad I did.

As with other installments in the series, this one jumps right in without preamble or introductions. Yes, there’s good superhero action and danger. But like the rest of this ongoing sci-fi saga, the layers of the Avengers’ individual stories are what give compelling, even poignant, relevance to it all.

Ultron has interesting personal bits about some of the characters, and as usual, the parts when the Avengers come together and get all Avengery are pretty great. Alas, this book does have a little language I’m not keen on for children’s reads, so I beg the kids and their parents’ pardon on that score.

I wasn’t planning on it, but now that I’ve read this, I think I will go on (or go back) and watch the movie.

 

The Out-of-Towners (1970)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Out-of-Towners (1970) from Paramount Pictures
Rated G. (I personally would have rated it PG for brief, mild language, but that’s me.) Comedy, Family Appropriate

Description (from the film case): Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis are perfectly matched as the hapless Kellermans of Twin Oaks, Ohio, in Neil Simon’s tumultuous comedy hit. The top candidate for a prestigious promotion at his company’s corporate headquarters in New York City, George (Lemmon), accompanied by his wife Gwen (Dennis), is all set to take a bite out of The Big Apple—only to quickly discover that The Big Apple can bite back! Their dream trip to the big city turns into a nightmare of diverted flights, forfeited reservations, missed trains, sinister strangers, paralyzing strikes, lost luggage…and uproarious laughs for all who experience this hilarious screen classic…

My thoughts: When I’m really in the mood for humor, I tend to reach for some of the clean, old-fashioned stuff.

This film is a ridiculously good time. It’s not even like I’m laughing hysterically through it whenever I watch it, as the movie doesn’t hit me on a hysterical level. Don’t get me wrong—it’s super funny. But it’s an easier kind of funny, where I don’t have to be rolling on the floor to still be thoroughly amused and entertained.

But don’t get me wrong x2—by “easier,” I don’t mean the film is flat, simplistic, or predictable stuff you can turn on while you’re busy scrolling through your phone. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss the little stuff that’s a part of this movie’s genius.

And that genius really shines in the last few minutes, when such a real moment hits spot-on and brings it all together, in case you didn’t know you weren’t watching just a bunch of fluff the whole time. It’s a fun film that means something.

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Heart of the Wilderness by Janette Oke

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Heart of The Wilderness by Janette Oke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Kendra is orphaned at a very young age, her grandfather, George, sees no better choice than to take her to live with him in the backwoods. But given that George has lived alone as a trapper for years, the life he provides Kendra, away from the city, may not be enough for her in Heart of the Wilderness by author Janette Oke.

I first read this novel a number of years ago, so it didn’t hold any big surprises for me. Indeed, it’s not the kind of read for major surprises or twists. It’s a simple, easygoing story with only a few characters most of the way through.

Now, while I’ve enjoyed a good deal of this author’s easy reading over the years, this one almost seems to wander along the path of Kendra’s childhood, girlhood, and young womanhood. There’s not really a driving focus until quite late in the book. Then the last few chapters awkwardly rush to pull the faith theme together, to introduce some rather last-minute characters, and also to squeeze in a new, underdeveloped romance.

Nevertheless, even with the weaknesses I recognize in these novels, I still consider the Women of the West series to be one of my all-time favorites. It’s trailblazing fiction: some of the first of its kind in ChristFic as we now know it. Historical stories that are easy to digest but that also tuck some important nuggets inside.