Monday, August 29, 2005

A Four Movie Weekend

I guess all the stars were in alignment because I saw not one or two, but four movies this weekend. My movie going experience was initiated on Friday afternoon with The Brothers Grimm. I later saw The 40 Yr Old Virgin the same night. On Saturday I saw The Cave. And I completed the movie block with Sky High on Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, I enjoyed all four movies. See comments below:

The Brothers Grimm
Visionary, captivating, and somewhat creepy. It was a Terry Gilliam film, with the requisite strange humor, characters and imagery. It even had a Gilliam veteran in Jonathan Pryce. Matt Damon and Heath Ledger did a great job playing close, but not always harmonious siblings. Heath (Jake or Jacob) is a dreamer and a scholar of folktales. He has his head in the clouds and it drives his pragmatic brother Wil, short for Wilhelm (Matt Damon) crazy, although he utilizes his brother's knowledge of folktales to concoct hoaxes to squeeze money out of superstitious villagers. Wil always jots down the stories that people tell him along the way on their journeys, always looking for the real fairy tale. This is fun because the moviegoer can surmise that all those stories go on to be added to the Brothers Grimm volume that has entertained readers for centuries. But they are called upon by force to fight a real and evil threat upon threat of death by a nefarious officer of the Napoleonic occupation of Germany by France. The wicked witch (played by the luminous Monica Belluci) in this story is really quite scary and there are moments where you want to grab and hold onto something. There's also that fairy tale surrealness that I particularly enjoyed, being a lifelong lover of fairy tales. Jake has a love interest in a villager named Angelika who has lost sisters to the wicked witch's enchantment and is determined to get them back by hook or by crook. She's just as quirky as everyone else in this one, but it gives the movie a unique charm. I gave this movie a solid A and I'll pick this one up when it comes out on dvd.

The 40 Yr Old Virgin
If you want to laugh so hard you choke on your popcorn or pee your pants, found myself sometimes wondering if the writer wasn't peeking into my life, although I'm neither 40 or a man. Andy is an endearing hero who is a little bit abnormal but really is more normal than many of the oversexed characters on television and in movies. The language is at times coarse but it adds to the atmosphere in the movie in which frank discussions about sex figure heavily. Andy has a trio of well-meaning coworker/friends who take up the quest to see their friend deflowered and the resulting antics are hilarious. I particularly enjoyed the fact that all of Andy's idiosyncrasies help him when he finds the woman he is meant to be with, because I feel like people do have certain character quirks for a reason. This movie's a winner and a sure dvd buy when it ocmes out. I give this one an A+.

The Cave
If you don't like monster movies skip this one. However if you like a layered storyline with surprises that you didn't quite see waiting around the corner, check it out. I won't lie, I went to see the movie for Cole Hauser who is in my stable of hot actors. I was sort of gritting my teeth as I'm not totally into creepy monster movies because of the body parts factor as the beginning credits rolled. But I thoroughly enjoyed this one and found myself grabbing the seat more than a few times. Cole Hauser was great as the expedition leader who had to make some seriously hard choices and undergoes a heartwrenching event but uses it to help his team get back to the surface. If you are a fan of his and would like to see a movie where he's in it more than five or ten minutes and isn't the bad guy, this one is a good bet. He's in a lot of scenes and definitely gets to demonstrate his acting chops. As with most monster movies, the ending has a twist, but you'll have to go see it to find out. There is plenty of droolworthy potential in this one (especially for girls): The aforementioned and totally hot Cole Hauser, Morris Chestnutt (always fine and with bulging biceps that make for great eye candy--a great performance too), Eddie Cibrian (lovely blue eyes, dark hair, sweet smile, and nicely-defined body in his wet suit--redeeming himself nicely from the jerk Jimmy on Third Watch), and a couple of other guys. And there's an eyecandy nod for the guys in the athletic Piper Perabo and the ethereal Lena Headey. The scenery is spectacular with a lot of underwater cave scenes. But I personally wouldn't be caught dead there since I'm claustrophobic and have fears of drowning. Not to mention whatever creepy crawly bugs or monsters might be down there. That's why watching movies like this is fun because all you risk is the movie fare and a couple hours of your life. Well I found this movie a great use of less than two hours and a pleasant surprise. This one earned an A and a definite nod to buy when it comes out.

Sky High
I love anything with superhero themes in it. This movie takes the whole concept of the world's famous superheroes to the next step. What if they married, had a child and saw that child off to high school, except a school especially for future superheroes. I loved the whole concept. Especially when the son of the superhero couple who has saved the world numerous times turns out to be frighteningly normal or so he seems initially. Or so others think. But it turns out that he's a true hero. He knows that a good superhero is no better than his sidekick. And heroes can be the people that don't make it on the cover of Elle and GQ Magazine. I enjoyed the superhero nods throughout this movie and the comedic twists inherent in the genre. The idea of high school is scary enough but imagine having to go to a high school where the class is divided up into hero and sidekicks and your destiny is decided by someone else. It takes the popular versus geek kids concept to the next level and definitely hits home with the underlying theme. I thought all the kids did a great job, and a lot of the faculty and superparents are played by actors who are beloved in genre movies like the great Bruce Campbell, Lynda Carter (who we all know is Wonder Woman), Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, and with Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as the super-perfect superparents. The young man who plays the underwelming Stronghold offspring does a great job. As well as his lovelorn friend Layla and the outsider who is the result of a superhero mom and a supervillain dad, Warren Peace, quite a hottie. And their gang of sidekick friends are endearing and hilarious. I loved how the popular kids turned out to be villainous as those of us who were nerds and geeks in high school know often tended to be the case (wink, nod). I could definitely see some great sequel potential, and possibly a book or tv series. The concept is too good to let go of. I gave this one an A+ and will definitely be grabbing a copy when it comes out on dvd.

Well I'd have to say that his weekend was a great one as far as movies. Not a bad one in the bunch. And just when I was starting to pine for the movie-going experience...

2005 Top Ten Romance Couples

For one of my groups we had to list our top 10 couples from romances. I had to do some thinking because I've read so many romances with great couples in them. After a few days of pondering I decided that most of the couples were actually old favorites, none of which had been bumped off for newer couples. A super romance couple needs to have the following qualities:
  • Mutual respect
  • Everlasting, fathoms deep love and devotion
  • An intense connection
  • Fiery chemistry
  • The ability to convince the reader that they will be together until the day they die
1.Wolf and Mary--Mackenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard
2.Sebastian and Jessica--Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
3.Derek and Sara--Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
4.Daniel and Elise--Iguana Bay by Theresa Weir
5.Carter and Bailee--The Texan's Wager by Jodi Thomas
6.Jack and Anne-All Through The Night by Connie Brockway
7.Julian and Grace--Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon
8.Mary and Sebastian--A Well-Pleasured Lady by Christina Dodd
9.Elizbeth and Myles--Velvet Angel by Jude Deveraux
10.Samuel and Leda--The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale

Rediscovering Johanna Lindsey

Well things have been crazy this summer, thus I am very behind on my blog entries. After discovering the wonderful local library, I was happy to find that they had a copy of the newest JL book, Marriage Most Scandalous. As of late I have not been reading this author as much because I was a little underwhelmed with the last books I read by her: The Present, Joining, Say You Love Me. I have still been collecting her books except for the last two but they have been very far at the bottom of my tbr pile. This definitely saddens me as she was my favorite author for many years. I would use my meager funds to buy her paperbacks right when they came out. And I would read them over and over again. But when I heard about Marriage Most Scandalous I was intrigued. The hero was described as a mercenary which made my ears perk up. I love dangerous romance heroes. What can I say? I was tempted, despite my limited financial funds to buy the book when it came out (from Walmart at a considerable discount), but since money wasn't good I elected to wait. And lo and behold, my patience was rewarded when I found it at the library. I finished the book in 2 days (because I saw three movies also in that time period), and I was totally satisfied.
Sebastian Townshend is in a word, a fantastic hero, despite his flaws: broody, rude, short-tempered. But also principled, vulnerable, and heroic. I pictured Christian Bale with a ponytail: tall, brawny, beautiful, brownish eyes, brooding. Perfection. Although I could not find an actress who fit Maggie's description, I had a very good picture of her in my head. This book definitely had elements that I love in my romance novels: dark, brooding hero, with an air of danger, who is disgraced for a past event that isn't totally his fault. A strong-willed, intelligent heroine who can handle him. And loads of chemistry. Sebastian's sexuality fairly erupted off the page. He makes such a very determined assault on Maggie's virtue that I know if I were in her shoes I would find very hard to resist, especially since their pretend marriage puts them in very close quarters. I felt the need to fan myself as I read the book. Lovely in a word. The secondary characters were also quite interesting and well-drawn. Of course there's never enough time to delve too deeply but JL tantalized the reader enough to wish that the book was 300 pages longer. As I finished this book I knew that my Johanna Lindsey slump was broken.
As a matter of fact, my love of JL was so reenergized I found A Loving Scoundrel at the library and quickly proceeded to check this one out too. I started this one Sunday morning and finished it late, and I do mean late, Sunday night (say around 3 am). This reminded me of many a time in my past where I stayed up far too late reading and re-reading the latest Johanna Lindsey novel. Jeremy Malory continues the tradition of thoroughly, mild-numbingly hot heroes. He would definitely be hard to resist if I was Danny, his amazing, enjoyable heroine. This book did have the rakish element that I don't always enjoy but the thing that made the book sing for me was that Danny played the game by her own rules. Sure Jeremy wanted an affair with her, and after resisting his advances at first and failing, she decides to enjoy their time together and move on. And she refuses to be his mistress. That saved the book for me because I really really don't like mistress books. Danny is probably one of the best, most interesting heroines I have encountered in my years of romance novel reading. She is very philosophical about life, doesn't shed unnecessary tears, and does what has to be done. She is a survivor with the character that hardship brings to a person. And the icing on the cake is that she doesn't take crap from her hero. When he deserves a punch in the face she gives him one. Jeremy fell hard for her and I must say that I did too. She's up there with Cristabel Gaines from Lawless in my book. Jeremy continues the tradition of rakish Malory males very well, and I found it interesting how his rakish ways were tolerated and condoned by his family. On a philosophical level, I felt like there was perhaps a commentary made by JL about women and their status in society. A woman with the protection of a man is respected and her innocence is preserved and cherished. But Danny doesn't have family and no protection so she is considered fair game by the Malories (as Jeremy's mistress). As a matter of fact, she is forced to dress as a boy for fifteen years to avoid becoming a prostitute in her live on the streets of London. I wasn't terribly happy about that attitude but I suppose it's realistic for the time period and even today in some ways. I felt that despite the fact that she was a maid in his household she shouldn't have been thought of as a "prime piece" who could be used and thrown away. The Malory men seem to have very sexist attitudes towards women: those which can be used and those who should be protected. It was interesting and somewhat annoying to me but nevertheless it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book, probably because when Jeremy came to fall in love with Danny he was willing to do everything and anything for her protection and her love. I would say that Jeremy was probably my favorite Malory easily. As far as favorite Malory books, I'm still a fan of Love Only Once with Regina and Nicholas and The Magic of You with Warren and Amy, but this one's up there too. Which brings up a good point: I also enjoyed the appearance of the members of the Malory clan. It was a joy to reacquaint myself with them after so many years, and I haven't read those books in some time. In closing, I had a very happy Johanna Lindsey reading weeking, breaking a years long slump. I need to pull out those other Johanna Lindsey books and fast. Happiness!