Two more of the ABC’s of my blu-ray videos to show you. I have a new camera and external microphone on my channel and I think you will see the improvement on the video. If you aren’t subscribed please do. I would really appreciate it.
I also have a giveaway on my facebook page you will want to check out. There is a great site called vudu.com where you can rent and own digital versions of your favorite movies. You can watch them on most blu-ray players or on your laptop, tablet or even phone. You can also digitize your DVD library for only $1, $2 if you want it in HDX.
Over the last year or so I have a library with over 300 films and I am allowed to invite 5 people who can view said library. I am going to invite 1 fan to have access to the library. This has Frozen, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Dumbo, other Disney films and other great live action movies. You can enter multiple times a day through different ways, so please check it out. http://is.gd/Pg2N2S
Most people I know consider To Kill a Mockingbird to be the greatest novel ever written. Perhaps Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby is in the running for some (not me) but it would certainly be in my top 5. I’m sure just like with everything else there will be a few comments about how To Kill a Mockingbird is overrated and I’m sorry but I just don’t get how anyone could think that.
It is so well paced and builds momentum until the moment of the verdict which is completely devastating and yet triumphant at the same time. And then a lesser writer would have stopped there but the story continues till the reveal of Boo Radley and the attack.
I tend to be a bit of a speed reader because I want to find out what is going to happen (even if I’ve read it before!). But with To Kill a Mockingbird I slow down because I love being with these people so much I don’t want it to end. There are not many books I can say that about. Part of that attachment is the complete charm of Scout as the matter-of-fact narrator and Jem as his little idealistic heart is broken.
But in the end the person I most want to stay in my life is their Dad, Atticus Finch. Never was a more noble character put to pen and paper. He reminds me of my Grandpa who I loved dearly and has passed on. I hope we have all known someone like that. I hope we all know someone who is worthy of standing for when they pass by.
I feel like many modern novelists are afraid to write noble characters- afraid they will seem ‘unrealistic’ or ‘too perfect’. It seems like a modern novelist would tag on some negative qualities to Atticus making him weaker and supposedly more complex. And yet I know many people who are like Atticus, who by no means is a perfect person but he is just trying to do what is right. I certainly hope we all know people who fit that description.
In fact, in my life the alcoholics, philanderers and crooks are the minority thankfully. I relate to the struggles Atticus has where his kids and family pull him one way and his desire to stand up for what is right another. He knows he is putting his family in danger by representing Tom but he can’t stand to sit by and do nothing and let evil prevail. That makes him a complex character because you see the conflict in his eyes. Also he knows he is fighting not only a losing battle but one that will hurt his career and name amongst the town but he is anchored by his own moral compass and nothing else in the end matters.
When they went to adapt To Kill a Mockingbird to the movies they certainly had a Herculean task before them. Fortunately it is in my opinion the finest adaptation from book to screen ever produced. Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus and it was such a favorite of his that he kept in touch with the child actors and Harper Lee (a famous recluse) until he died.
After reading the book he said:
“”I got started on it and of course I sat up all night and read straight through it. I understood that they wanted me to play Atticus and I called them at about eight o’clock in the morning and said, ‘If you want me to play Atticus, when do I start? I’d love to play it.’ I thought the novel was a fine piece of writing and of course I turned out to be right about that, because it won the Pulitzer Prize and it’s still being read in high-school literature classes and the paperback goes on selling. But more than that I felt it was something I could identify with without any stress or strain… And I felt that I knew those two children…So I fell into that very readily, both as the father and with an understanding of the children.”
You sense that love in his performance and it feels like a real family. The kid actors are so good and it is kind of amazing this was their first and only role if I’m not mistaken. Peck is so loving and sweet with them while still being honest. It is the mix of showing them the world while shielding them at the same time that makes him a parenting hero.
I love the closing arguments because you know he is certain of the outcome and behavior of the jurors but he still hopes and says with complete conviction they will do the right thing. That’s a main message of To Kill a Mockingbird is hope. Whether it is in the innocence of a child, the honor of a good man or the persecuted souls dreaming of better things, there is always hope to cling too.
When Atticus finds out that Boo is responsible for saving the life of his children he looks at Boo and says simply ““Thank you for my children, Arthur,”. It’s so simple and beautiful. A lesser author might have made a big speech but 6 words is all that is needed. It’s a beautiful contrast when a jury of strong able bodied men fail to have courage but a timid fearful Boo Radley does the right thing.
It’s the culmination of all Harper Lee and Atticus have been trying to teach us. He tells Scout:
“”Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
Some may consider that a sad look at human nature but I see it as incredibly hopeful. Hopeful there will always be people who can say like Paul “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”
So Atticus to me is the most noble and complex character in literature and film. If by some travesty you have not seen and/or read To Kill a Mockingbird stop what you are doing and get it done. Luckily most of us read it in school (and most of us still like it which usually school ruins most books!). It is a movie I frequently watch on Sunday and consider it the equivalent of a hug from my Grandpa who I miss terribly. He was such a man as Atticus.
I finally got a chance to see Begin Again tonight, the musical dramedy written and directed by John Carney creator of indy smash Once. With the current dearth of romantic comedies I was looking forward to this movie and while it is not terrible I was disappointed.
Keira Knightley as Gretta James, a songwriter
Mark Ruffalo as Dan Mulligan, a music producer
Adam Levine as Dave Kohl, Gretta’s ex-boyfriend and a successful musician
Catherine Keener as Miriam Hart, Dan’s estranged wife
Hailee Steinfeld as Violet Mulligan, Dan and Miriam’s daughter
James Corden as Steve, Gretta’s best friend
CeeLo Green as Troublegum, a successful rapper who was discovered by Dan
Mos Def as Saul, Dan’s long-time business partner
Spoiler Alert! I will discuss some details of the movie.
Begin Again has a lot in common with Once. Both movies are about new artists, one male, one female, that are idealistic and pure believers in music and them creating their first album.
But there are some big key differences.
First, I’m sorry but the songs in Once are just better. I did not believe any of the songs in Begin Again were legitimate hits where Once had several including the actual hit Falling Softly (and Oscar winner for Best Original Song) .
The songs in Once were so good they could be used to make a Tony winning broadway musical. You couldn’t do that with the Begin Again songs, and since the whole point of the movie is that Kiera Knightly’s songs are somehow so brilliant it doesn’t feel genuine.
Second, the singing isn’t as good. Mark Ruffalo doesn’t actually sing like Glen Hansard does in Once and Kiera Knightly is not nearly as good a singer as Marketa Irglova. All of the songs are written with a small range and she still doesn’t sound very good. Certainly nothing that would make a record executive stop in a drunken stupor and drop all and work with this ‘amazing’ talent.
Third, in Once the ‘Guy’ and ‘Girl’ are so likable despite not having names. In both movies they are in love with music and not really each other but it comes off so much more of a real and meaningful relationship in Once.
Part of the problem is that Ruffalo is such a mess that I didn’t like him or find him charming. In fact, there was a side of me that was nervous for Knightley’s character that he might take advantage of her (borderline creepy persona). Knightly was bland, niave and kind of preachy about people who actually want to make a career out of music (the shame!). I found her to be a little insufferable.
In Once ‘Girl’ has a child which gives her warmth and keeps you rooting for her. In Begin Again Ruffalo is estranged from his daughter played quite well by Hailee Steinfeld. When we first meet him he picks his daughter up clearly inebriated. This makes me instantly dislike him, where in Once I love the characters who are trying so hard for the chance to record. Ruffalo is an executive who has blown his chance and is fired. It’s not as motivating a character arc and we don’t see as much growth.
Fourth, in Once they are shown practicing so they are ready for the big recording session. They practice outside, in apartments, piano stores etc. In Begin Again the conceit is that they are going to screw the traditional recording studio and record an album in New York live.
It is an absolutely laughable idea that a releasable album could be filmed in and around the city of New York in one or two takes and with all back up willing to work for free! We officially cross the line into a fairytale with scenes of recording in the Subway and officers ‘catching’ them mid song and them running away. You can actually get permits to play in the New York Subway but the idea that a band of that size could get all the amps and everything set up and then record a track and then the cops come? Give me a break!
Maybe it isn’t fair to compare it to its younger, fairer cousin but when you have the same director, writer and a nearly identical premise it’s tough not too. Begin Again is just not as good. It feels like a lame sequel where they just kind of spew out a weaker version of the original. It’s not offensively awful and people are trying but why settle for sloppy seconds when you can easily enjoy the real deal first course?
The only part that surprised me about Begin Again is Adam Levine as Knightley’s rock star boyfriend isn’t half bad. In the world of musicians turned actors he is pretty engaging on screen. Granted he is playing a rock star which isn’t much a stretch but certainly other stars haven’t been able to pull off similar feats as well. He has the one good song at the end of the movie (big surprise there!).
I just wanted a feel good romance and so was hoping at least the characters would be engaging but I didn’t get into it. The premise was too silly, characters patronizing or unlikable and the songs (a big part of the movie) weren’t very good. Overall let down…
There is a lot of swearing in the movie but not much else that is offensive. Not quite as much swearing as in Once (although much of that was in Irish accent which was hard to understand). But I would say Begin Again is adult only because of language.
Clean Content Score- D, Overall Grade- C, not terrible but extremely average.
I thought I would share with you some of my latest youtube videos. I had a lot of fun making them and not everything I talk about has been on this blog. I think most of you will especially enjoy my Worst of Video and my Maleficent rant. Feels good to get it all out in the open. 😉
As I always say it’s just my opinion so if you feel differently that’s great! I am sincerely glad that art speaks to different people in different ways. I would love if you gave any or all of the videos a watch and even left a comment or two. Thanks so much for all your support.