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I don’t see many movies in the theater, unless Richard Armitage is in the cast. I watch most movies online. However, I’m writing a novel with a hero with a southern accent and I thought a few hours of Matthew McConaughey would be useful, so I went to see Interstellar.

Wow. This was a fun movie and definitely worth watching in IMAX. There were about five minutes in the middle when I was getting bored with Anne Hathaway making faces behind an astronaut mask and the spaceship spinning, but then the plot picked up and I was fine. There were interesting family relationships and interactions and a hint of romance, which nicely balanced the space travel/adventure/fighting scenes. I liked the music, too. Sometimes it is nice to escape into a different, exciting world. And after seeing this movie, I no longer think my house is dusty.

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The movie Dan in Real Life has a flawed hero.  I have watched this movie several times and there are a few scenes that make me cringe every time.  SPOILER.  When he tells his daughter that she can’t drive, I hear myself, worrying about my teenaged drivers.  When he says something rude at the table to embarrass his brother, I think of rude things I’ve said.  When he gets in a fender bender with a police officer and tries to make a joke, I remember my one and only traffic ticket.

This movie works because it shows a basically decent man, who is still grieving the death of his wife, trying to raise three daughters, and suddenly finds himself falling in love with his brother’s new girlfriend.  What a mess.

But there are moments that are very sweet, very romantic, and true to life.  As with most PG 13 films, there is something rude/crude/vulgar that I wish wasn’t there, but overall, I like this film.  One of my favorite parts is a conversation the mother, admirably played by Dianne Wiest has with her son Dan (Steve Carell).  Dan has just said something rude at the dinner table that embarrassed/shamed/humiliated his brother, and his mother makes him wash all the dinner dishes.  She knows and Dan knows that he was a jerk and doing all the dishes by himself is his punishment.  It’s one of those film moments that rings true.  Lovely.   I also like the bit with the teenager telling her dad he’s a love murderer.

It’s one of the movies that I wish I had written.

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For some reason I’m quoting Little John from the BBC Robin Hood series.

I just listened to Ed Sheeran‘s song that is going to be at the end of the second Hobbit movie:  The Desolation of Smaug.  Wow.  I like it.  A lot.  I liked the music in the first movie, but I really like this song.  Of course, I also like the clips from the movie, too.  Enjoy.

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I’d heard mixed things about Playing for Keeps (2012), some of which was that it didn’t fit the rom-com model.  As a writer, I thought I’d analyze the film, see what worked and what didn’t.

What worked:  Cute scruffy leading man Gerald Butler with a charming Scottish accent.  Good looking other actors.  Poor Jessica Biel looked worn out for the first half of the film, but her hair improved as it went along.

What didn’t work:  Dennis Quaid‘s villanous character.  His part seemed more zany than anyone else, so tone-wise it was jarring.

And now for some SPOILERS.

SPOILERS:  I didn’t like the hero sleeping with two of the soccer moms and turning down a third, who was married which is supposed to show that he has some moral limits.  All these events were played for laughs, but I didn’t find it funny.  Granted, he’s divorced, but the women looked pathetic or conniving and I couldn’t decide if he was stupid, an opportunist, or just too  polite to say no.

At this point in the film, I start rooting for the bland, good-looking guy that the ex-wife is going to marry.  I think,”Will Hollywood really let the hero not get the girl?  Maybe hero will wise up and ride off in the distance letting ex-wife be happy with her good guy.  Like in My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

But of course, that didn’t happen.  I can see why the film got the mixed reviews.  Some of it plays like a bedroom farce, and then there are scenes that are supposed to be emotional and meaningful.

That’s what surprised me.  Just when I was going to write the whole film off as a mess, there was one good conversation between hero and ex-wife.  For a moment, I had sympathy for the ex-wife and could understand why she might take this scruffy guy back.

Which made me very conflicted.  Am I supposed to be okay with them staying in town with the other women hanging around on the periphery of their life?  Ick. That’s not romantic.  

And do I think that this man will remain completely faithful?  Sad to say, the odds aren’t good, and his track record stinks.  In his favor, he wants to change and he is the father of her child.  It’s a decision I would never want to make.  I believe that people deserve second chances and I believe that people can change.  However, I worry that this hero will need a ton of second chances.

So, will I watch it again?  No.  Will I recommend it?  No, it’s more sad than sweet.

But there were a few good minutes that made me think.   And now I’m going to spend some time figuring out what I would have done differently to make a more satisfying story. 

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Today I watched Miracle in the Rain again.  I really like Van Johnson and he is such an earnest, slightly amusing young soldier in this movie.  He meets and basically invites himself into Jane Wyman‘s pathetic life.  She works at a tedious job and takes care of her invalid mother at night.  I enjoy watching 1950’s movies for the clothes, but the clothes in this movie are terrible.  Everyone looks frumpy except for the sleazy co-workers who are sleeping with the boss.  Which makes the movie seem more realistic.  Think about how your co-workers look on a daily basis.  Is anyone model beautiful with a perfect wardrobe?

English: Cropped screenshot of Jane Wyman from...

English: Cropped screenshot of Jane Wyman from the trailer for the film Stage Fright. Lëtzebuergesch: D’Jane Wyman am Virspill vum “Stage Fright” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I was watching this, teenaged son walks by.  Listens to Van Johnson for a minute.  “He is so cheesy,” he says, and leaves.  A few minutes later, he listens to more.  “This is so cheesy,” he repeats and eventually leaves for good.

I like cheesy.

I like watching a movie where a nice guy pursues a nice girl.  My son says, “There’s no conflict.”  No conflict other than the invalid mother, the horrid job, and WWII hanging over everyone’s head.  I also like the less attractive, taller, awkward best friend at the office who has a good heart.  I guess I have a soft spot for old maid/career women.  (And no, the friend doesn’t get a HEA).

Another thing I like about this movie is that it’s good to cry with.  Jane Wyman is so sad in this movie when (SPOILER ALERT) the hero is killed in action.  She gets a cold and staggers through her life.  Then her icky boss takes her out for a drink and makes a move on her.  Hello conflict.  When she finally goes to church and talks to a saint statue that she doesn’t believe in, I’m a goner.  Get out the tissues.   She talks about having never been really happy before until she met the hero and how — now that he’s gone — she wishes she were dead.  This is not cheesy.   This is gut-wrenching and Jane Wyman makes it believable.

Jane is also wonderfully sad in All that Heaven Allows, where she breaks  up with Rock Hudson because her snooty college-aged kids don’t like her dating a younger man.  I bawl at that, too.

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From richardarmitagenet.com

From richardarmitagenet.com

How did I not know that Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack were married?  And apparently they’ve been married 34 years and have two children.

It makes me happy to think that Mrs. Thornton is married to Charles Rider.

 

 

Can you imagine what their breakfast conversations are like?  They are two interesting, creative people — excellent actors who seem to inhabit their roles.  Jeremy Irons was brilliant in a Harold Pinter film called Betrayal that I saw parts of more than 25 years ago, and still remember.  I need to see more of Sinead Cusack’s work.

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Sometimes I feel like I’m the last person to know about things in popular culture.

 

I just spent about an hour, watching various episodes of the Lizzie Bennet diaries.  There are 100 episodes about 6 minutes long that aired on YouTube, starting in 2012.  I haven’t watched all of them — I tried to get a few key points. I liked Bing Lee, the Asian-American medical student.  I saw one episode where he is taking care of Jane, who has a cold.  He was sweet and smart and funny.  Endearing.

 

I am impressed with the creativity of the project.  Some of the modernization of the story is very clever.  Does it all work or make sense?  Probably not.  In a similar vein, I also liked Lost in Austen, although I wish I could edit out about 5 minutes of vulgarity.

 

English: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Austen, Jane. Pr...

English: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. London: George Allen, 1894, page 5. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I’ll admit it — I love Pride and Prejudice in almost every form.  I love the arrogant man and the judgmental woman being annoyed with and fascinated by each other. I love watching these two characters dance around their growing attraction.  I love the fact that they both become better, wiser people, and they are rewarded with a  happily ever after.

 

Pride in Prejudice is my favorite novel, and I am pleased that it is still being read 200 years after it was written.

 

Ah, Jane Austen,  you were a genius.

 

 

 

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