Arts and Entertainment, Films

The Book Thief (2013)

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 Book Thief (2013) from Twentieth Century Fox
Rated PG-13. 
Drama, Historical, War
My rating: ★★★1/2

Description (from the film case): Based on the beloved best-selling book comes an “extremely moving” (Leonard Maltin, Indiewire) story of a girl who transforms the lives of those around her during World War II, Germany. When her mother can no longer care for her, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is adopted by a German couple (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.) Although she arrives illiterate, Liesel is encouraged to learn to read by her adoptive father. When the couple then takes in Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jew hiding from Hitler’s army, Liesel befriends him. Ultimately, words and imagination provide the friends with an escape from the events unfolding around them…

My thoughts: A pretty good adaptation with some nice casting. Though it isn’t a happy-go-lucky tale, of course, it’s somewhat brighter and tamer than the novel, in a way, with almost a storybook feel to some of it.

I would’ve liked to hear a little more from Death in the film, but maybe from a different voice, as Death’s occasional narration is part of what feels storybookish. And some of the potential power is lost here as the story doesn’t convey both sides of the “power of words” theme as well as the novel does.

Nevertheless, I try not to base my judgment of film adaptations solely on their related novels, since, to state the obvious, films aren’t books. Can’t measure such different mediums with the same stick.

Hence, as a film, I give it a thumbs-up. Not sure yet if I’d watch it again, but watching it was worth it.

My corresponding reading: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

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Arts and Entertainment, Books, Films

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008)

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.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008) from Automatic Pictures
Rated PG. Drama, Period Film, Family Film, Christmas

1/2

Description (from the film case): Based on a short story by the acclaimed author of Little Women comes a holiday story of family and forgiveness. Recently widowed Mary Bassett (Helene Joy) and her three children have hit difficult times on their farm. Things are so bad this year that they can’t even afford a turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner. Suddenly, Mary’s wealthy and estranged mother Isabella (Jacqueline Bisset) comes to visit. Although she finds a kindred spirit in Mary’s eldest daughter, Tilly (Tatiana Maslany), Mary resents her mother’s attempts to help them out of their financial difficulties…

My thoughts: Okay, so even though the description doesn’t make it clear, the story here is led by young Tilly, and I rather like this heroine. She’s got some fire but doesn’t wildly burn around, she longs for more but isn’t a total brat about it, and she has some growing up to do but isn’t immature. Plus, she’s a writer, which I always admire.

And, yes, I’m taking the liberty of tagging this as a Christmas film, since Thanksgiving is the lead-up to the holiday of all holidays. The movie originally aired on the Hallmark Channel, and it certainly has the quintessentially “Hallmark” kind of wholesomeness, warmth, and delightfulness wrapped up in an hour and a half.

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Arts and Entertainment, Films

Hidden Figures (2016)

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.

Hidden Figures (2016) from Levantine Films, Chernin Entertainment, Fox 2000 Pictures
Rated PG. Drama, African American Actors/Issues, Biography/Historical

Description (from the film trailer): Hidden Figures is the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

My thoughts: This story was all the more enlightening for me, since I’ll admit that NASA and all matters of space aren’t exactly the highest matters on my radar. And when I think of “computers,” I (like most people these days, I expect) automatically think of “machines” as opposed to human beings who, well, compute. This may be the most interesting that computing and mathematics have ever been to me. Albeit I’ll be sticking with writing and leave the numbers up to the folks who work well with those. 🙂

This is a well-rounded film, maybe a tad corny in spots, but so well cast. It’s the little stuff that makes a movie great, otherwise the big stuff feels like schmaltz, doesn’t feel earned. This movie earns its big stuff.

I was cautious beforehand, since sometimes when a movie knows what it’s supposed to do, it tries too hard to get there. (Like the movie Belle, for instance.) But, no, Hidden Figures knows what it’s supposed to do and just does it.

Truly inspiring.

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Arts and Entertainment, Films, Romance

A Film Lover’s Confession: Downton Abbey

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.

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey (2010-2015) from Carnival Film & Television, Masterpiece Theatre
TV-PG.
Drama, Historical/Period Drama, Romance, War

Four Silver Stars1/2

No, this isn’t my usual film review so much as it is a blogger’s confession. Downton Abbey is a television series, of course, but I treated it more like a long film–or more like a miniseries, at least–in that I watched the entire series, all six seasons…in one week. I thought I’d watch the first episode or two, just to see what all the fuss was about and to find out if I might like it a little, but once I got started…

Well. So began the unexpected marathon, a lot of lost sleep, and an unscheduled pause from my book blogging, which I’ll pick up again this week.

This show just wasn’t what I expected, with more sides to the characters and with plot twists more intriguing than I would’ve guessed. And my rating of it may be unfair, as the last 1/2 star represents the fact that I had a slightly deflated reaction to the final two episodes or so, but could it merely be a reflection of my feelings about the series ending and not about the series’s ending itself?

Quite possibly.

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Trailer heralding the final season of Downton Abbey.