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Spider-Man and Snow White – a movie kind of day

We have two extra days off this week, thanks to mid-year break/boarders’ weekend for school. Master Two still has daycare booked though, so it meant the big kids and I could catch a movie or two! We arranged to meet one of Master Nine’s mates for The Amazing Spider-Man around lunch time (we had a baby scan this morning – all looks good!). I’ve seen the Tobey Maguire Spidey movies more time than I can count, thanks to a kid who just loved all things Spidey for a few years, and I though this one held up pretty well. I really enjoyed some of the casting, I loved Gwen Stacy, and thought the effects were pretty well done. It was perhaps a bit long – a few parts went on a bit much, to the point I was actually checking my watch to see how long was left of the movie! But I liked that it was a bit less cartoony than the Raimi version, though I like that too – different enough, although I still wish Hollywood would make some new films!

Anyway, Master Nine was taken off for a sleepover with said mate, and I realised that Miss Six and I had enough time before picking up M2 from daycare to sneak in Snow White and the Huntsman. Now, despite the fact it stars Kristen Stewart, when I first started seeing previews to this, I was a bit excited.

Fair enough, right? If this was the movie we got, it would have been pretty cool, yeah? But then the reviews started coming in, and it seemed the film was probably a bit flat. So I wasn’t too fussed if I didn’t see it at the cinema, not really a priority. But it was there, and we had time, so we watched it. And, well, I think it was okay. I think I think it was okay because my expectations were pretty low anyway. There was some very pretty film-making. Some cool action sequences (I particularly enjoyed William’s archery). But, to counteract that, there was some dull dialogue, odd story choices, and pointless scenes as well. It was much more fairytale-ish than I had anticipated, which was nice, but this wasn’t really balanced with the grittiness of the rest of the film. Stewart as Snow White was both better than I expected, but a little boring too (not, I think, entirely her fault – here I believe scripting and plot let the character down more than the actor). I liked Hemsworth’s performance a lot, and thought many of the other characters were well played, within scripted limitations. Theron was a bit disappointing – perhaps TOO over the top?

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Movies

Meant to put this in the previous post but forgot. Have been to the movies a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. Hubby and I went Gold Class the other week, and there weren’t many choices so we saw The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I really enjoyed it – nerdy guy being the hero, Nick Cage being all brooding and sexy, and while the women weren’t absolutely central to the story, I liked their characters. I thought it was a lot of fun, a switch off your brain flick, really.

The other film I watched was Tomorrow When the War Began on Friday. I’ve been DYING to see this. When I first heard they were finally adapting this excellent novel for the screen, I was pretty nervous, because it’s such a challenging thing to do well. Then, the first preview I saw had a bloody BIKINI shot front and centre, and I thought that was a very bad sign, cos, yanno, no bikinis in the book, and I would have hated for the girls to be sexed up for effect. But then reviews started to filter out, which were pretty positive, and girliejones was coerced into watching it and RAVED about it, which sealed the deal (cos I trust her judgment). So I took my last opportunity to catch it with only the bub (no opportunities on the holidays, and then going back to work…) and went on Friday. And LOVED it. It was so well put together, with solid performances by the young Aussie cast. I was very impressed by the modernisation of the story (just little touches, but enough to make it real) and by the fact that the film makers have made this story completely plausible. I’ve read the book a heap of times (have taught it lots in school) and while I think Marsden wrote a great book, it was never completely realistic to me. Somehow the film managed to create a wholly plausible depiction, and it really worked. 

Only a couple of very minor complaints. I don’t think the portrayal of the character Robyn was true to the text – they kind of focussed on one aspect of her personality, but left out the mad netballer side (which was my favourite bit about her in the books!). Having said that, the actor was great, and had me in tears near the end. I could also have stood a little more development of Homer’s character as leader – Ellie is totally believable to me, but Homer needed a bit longer to get there I thought. 

And while I KNOW it’s straight from the book, it’s still interesting to see that all the girls had to convince their parents to let them go on the original camping trip, but none of the boys did… :)

There’s a fair bit of action and relationship building left out, as well as some minor plot points (the Hermit storyline, in particular), but the film makers have been very clever about what they’ve taken out (and none of it is missed, in the tight story telling), and I didn’t miss it. 

I’m so delighted with how good this adaptation is, because it means I now have a film text to use in the classroom with the novel – yay! And also? A really, really good movie – I laughed, and I cried, and I had goosebumps from the tension. Very cool. Oh, and the bikini scene from the previews? Totally made sense in the context of the film, and was literally about five seconds in duration!

Favourite quote from the film:
Ellie: Good book?
Corrie: Better than the movie.
Ellie: Yeah, books usually are. 

Heh. Clever and fun. I wish my local cinemas were doing smarter showing times of the film, because I don’t think this movie is getting the exposure it should – highly recommend catching it at the movies!

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One of those days

Busy today. Started at about 4am with an early wakeup (precipitated by "still on work time sleeping schedule* husband wandering the house in the wee hours). Got Master Seven ready for school, got Miss Four organised for a big day, and played with the baby. Took Bub and M4 to National Simultaneous Storytime at our local library (we usually go on Thursdays, but thought it might be nice to do it on the proper day), which was fun. The home to wait for M4’s best friend and her mum to go up to watch the Dora the Explorer "live" show. Kids loved it. I almost fell asleep, despite the incredible noise! But they enjoyed it, which is why we did it :) Then it was home, only to turn around an hour or so later when babysitter arrived, to go out to Gold Class for Robin Hood, which I quite enjoyed, although I felt that, despite the already long length, that there were some important bits missing. In fact, I think it would have made an EXCELLENT (if expensive) television series – one season, with the same basic story, but with a lot more secondary character development (and some more women would have been nice) and relationship development. That’s just me though.

So that was my day. And despite being really really tired, I’m still up, because I’m watching the Lost season finale. Even though I’ve never seen an episode before. And even though I missed the first hour of this one. The things we do!

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Movies!

Have had a two movies in the last two days (plus we got Avatar on Blue-Ray on Wednesday – two days before release, super cheap from Target!). Yesterday afternoon I took Master Seven to Iron Man 2 in GOLD Class as a bit of a special treat. He really enjoyed the whole experience and LOVED the movie. "Better than the first one – more machines!" says he. I liked it too, but didn’t think it was quite as good as the first. I love Robert Downey Jr in these movies (pretty much any movies he’s made lately actually), and thought Mickey Rourke was pretty good too actually. And War Machine (Rhodey) rocked :) Got my geek on – sorry I missed the Swancon36 showing in Belmont a couple of hours later, but that was just a bit far and a bit late for me! 

Today I took my husband (and the baby – big kids both at school) to see the Australian World War I film Beneath Hill 60 – this was excellent and I highly recommend it. Powerful, sad, funny, frighteningly gritty, and very well put together. The only possible flaw was that the acting was a bit, hmmm, naive? But the actors were very sincere in their naivety, and it kind of worked anyway! I loved it. I will be buying in for my dad for Christmas.

And now despite the three boxes of books I have to read (I have three months – no, not telling yet – hopefully next week I can say!), I also have the telemovie and three series of Battlestar Galactica to watch at some stage. Dunno how that happened – will see how I like it before committing to the whole thing.

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Books, writing and writers in film and tv

I was watching the 2008 version of Journey to the Center of the Earth today (ahem, for the third time – I like Brendan Fraser, alright?!), and it occurred to me that a lot of the film and television I’ve enjoyed in recent times has been related to books in some way. I don’t mean book to film/TV adaptations (although I’ve recently enjoyed Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and How to Train Your Dragon, and I’m looking forward to Tomorrow When the War Began, all based on great books), but movies or programs that have books, writing or writers solidly at their core. Sunday nights, for example, I have a steady date with Castle (and sure, Nathan Fillion plays a big part in my enjoyment of this, but that’s not the point!), which is a show about a crime writer who has attached himself to a police detective as research for his new books. I love that Castle is paired with Bones (very loosely based on the Kathy Reichs Brennan books), and one of the things that tickles my fancy is that in the show, the character of Brennan writes fiction about the character Kathy Reichs. These are the things that amuse me!

But when I really start to think about it, a great many of my favourite movies have had this in common. I guess it really isn’t a surprise. I’m a teacher librarian, I read constantly and always have, and now review, edit and publish as well. Books are a massive part of my life, so it’s not a shock that I’m going to like a lot of media that depicts books and writing! Interestingly, most of them ARE based on novels or short stories, but it’s the subject matter that is important. Here’s a list of those I’ve come up with today that I’ve enjoyed:

The Princess Bride
Inkheart
The NeverEnding Story
Nim’s Island
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
The Librarian movies (with Noah Wyle)
City of Ember
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Labyrinth
Stand By Me
Marley and Me
Finding Forrester

If I want to push the boundaries and include storytelling in my list, I could add Big Fish (which I loved), and if you go to diary movies, there’s a whole bunch more, like the Bridget Jones movies, and maybe even Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!

And that’s just those I’ve seen and could think of off the top of my head! A quick Twitter brainstorm (thanks Tweeps!) also netted a heap more:

The Ninth Gate
The Name of the Rose
Mr Murder – I’ve read the Dean Koontz novel, but not seen the movie. I think there are more Koontz and also Steven King books (and probably films based on them) with authors at the centre.
Black Books
The Reader
The Diary of Anne Frank (there are multiple adaptations of this)
The Notebook
Freedom Writers
Capote
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the Guide is a BOOK! It counts!)
The Librarians (I refuse to watch this, but I know others are amused by it)
Ella Enchanted

Another stretch could be Julie and Julia (Do cookbooks count? Blogs?), but I haven’t seen it yet.

And one to look forward to could be Endymion Spring! (Warner Bros has it optioned). Books books, glorious books! Even when they are in the movies and on TV they are glorious! :)

What’s YOUR favourite movie, tv show or even just straight book that has books, writing or writers as a strong plot/character focus? 

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