Category: Movies

Welp, it’s definitely not Monday, but I still read some things

This was a good weekend. I went to a wedding, which…I love weddings. I don’t ever want to have a wedding (at least not in the traditional sense), but they are a delight. Anyway, the couple was super cute and happy even if there was a slight rain delay. (It’s been bone dry for weeks so of course it finally rains on the day of their wedding. Of course.)

Anyway, some slight changes had to be made to accommodate the weather, but everything after that was two thumbs up, fine holiday fun.

Then, on Sunday, my daughter and I went to my parents’ to spend Mother’s Day with my mom, and we taught my daughter how to play Spades. She’s almost ready for college for real now.

We also watched Miss India America, which is really cute and fun and a great example of a compelling, though mostly unlikable protagonist. It’s also streaming on Netflix. Ahem.

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It’s Monday & I go back to work TOMORROW

No, I’m not ready. Before the break, my boss called me to tell me she had to change one of my classes because she was afraid it wasn’t going to make. Turns out she was right: the class she switched me to had eight people in it after two days, and it’s currently full. Meanwhile, one of my other classes still has fewer than ten people so I feel like I may get another surprise switch tomorrow. It’s cool, though. I am prepped for the other possibility. It’s just a matter of getting everything in the LMS before classes start. (Did I mention they start Wednesday?)

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It’s Monday & I had a very merry Christmas

So Christmas was good here. It was very low-key. My daughter is home this year (she usually goes away), and we exchanged gifts around midday. (I had to wake her up–also par for the course with that one). I also spent most of the day cooking. Here’s something interesting: apparently, I *can* cook when I *want* to.

I made ham, macaroni and cheese, collard greens (using this recipe), and sweet potatoes. For dessert, I made an apple cake using my grandmother’s recipe, which I haven’t made in a long time. To make things interesting, I iced it using this caramel sauce. Everything turned out awesome. My daughter (who, as a general rule, hates everything I cook) loved everything, and my dad made sure to get some collard greens for the road. That was nice, especially since I was most worried about how they would turn out.

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It’s Monday & I’m Never Going to Finish All the Books on My Shelf

No, seriously. I still have ten left in the stack that I want to get to before the move, and I don’t think it’s going to happen. Also, reading them is starting to feel like work now–probably because I am trying to read them in a specific order. It might be time to start jumping around the stack.

This past week, I read:

Dear Bill, Remember Me? and Other StoriesDear Bill, Remember Me? and Other Stories by Norma Fox Mazer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The best stories were the title piece, the first story, and “Chocolate Pudding.” But these are all honest, real, and raw and, as someone who will likely be a spinster, I appreciated the last story a lot.

View all my reviews

Two weeks ago, I saw:

Love and Friendship

I forgot to mention that I went to see Love & Friendship, which is based on the novella Lady Susan by Jane Austen. I am not a huge fan of Austen’s books, but I think they translate really well to screen. I should state up front that I’m also not super into period pieces. However, I liked the humor in this, and I loved how Lady Susan was always ten steps ahead of everyone else. This movie is very talky-talky, so if you don’t go in much for that, you might not like it. I am generally a fan of talking movies, though, so this worked for me.

Also, I haven’t read the book but the movie kind of makes me want to and, as I said, I’m not a huge fan of Austen’s books, so it definitely has that going for it.

I do have to say that I don’t get the title at all. It didn’t seem to match the movie. Maybe I’m missing something, though. I think Lady Susan would have worked just fine. I mean, it is all about her and her machinations after all and not really all that much about friendship and Love & Friendship is so darn generic (I kept mistakenly calling the movie Love & Acceptance, for example). Ugh. Anybody else who saw it have an opinion on the title? (ETA: Duh, the title is meant to be ironic. But still, generic and bland, especially given the rest of the movie.)

As of today, I’m reading:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

 

I was feeling kind of slumpy (and it’s almost time for The Cursed Child), so I decided to reread Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (I mean, it’s only been a little over a year since my last reread of Prisoner of Azkaban, so. It might be time is what I’m saying.) I’m about 1/3 of the way through, and I can tell you right now that the beginning of the book needed way less Quidditch. Also, there’s a lot of great foreshadowing and framing in all of the opening scenes when they head to the World Cup and before they get to Hogwarts. You know, minus the Quidditch match descriptions.

My plan was also to sign up for the Potterhead July Blog Festival, but I (a) totally missed the sign up AND (b) will be moving in July so it’s probably not the best time to commit to anything. I am looking forward to reading the posts, though.

 

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older is one of my favorite people on Twitter, and my colleague highly recommended his book, so I finally decided to read Shadowshaper. I’m listening to the audiobook, and Anika Noni Rose narrates. I’m digging it so far.

 

Stepping to a New Day by Beverly Jenkins

I’m participating in a blog tour for Stepping to a New Day by Beverly Jenkins at the beginning of July. I’ll be starting this one later today.

 

 

Happy reading, everyone!

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M is for Mulan

How do academics show how much they love stuff? They either write papers/articles about the things they love or create assignments about the things they love. One of my best assignments is probably my Mulan definition argument essay. It is brilliant, if I do say so myself.

 

Get it? Because I bow down to Mulan but the assignment is so brilliant the world bows down to me?

Anyway, the assignment was perfect for a summer class. Basically, I had my students watch the movie, and then they wrote an essay arguing that Mulan deserved a soldier’s pension even though she broke the law.

I’m putting the assignment overview and guidelines below. To prep for the assignment, we read a definition argument in their textbook and MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and talked a lot a lot a lot about addressing a hostile audience, which is why King’s letter is so crucial.

Assignment Overview

Your assignment, then, is to take on the persona of one of the soldiers and argue that Fa Mulan fits the definition of a soldier because she exhibited the characteristics of a man suited for the rage of war as put forth by the Chinese army and deserves the bonus and the lifetime pension.

Assignment Guidelines

Your audience for the paper is the Emperor’s council, and your paper must explain how Mulan fits all of the criteria for being a soldier because she proved herself to be a man suited for the rage of war. You must provide examples of how she fits each criterion outlined on the previous page as well as anticipate and refute any objections the council may have. In order to be successful, you have to establish your credibility and authority to determine whether or not Mulan is qualified to be considered a soldier and use a tone appropriate for the audience. The council must be thoroughly convinced that Mulan deserves the bonus plus lifetime pension.

If anyone wants more details or the full assignment, please email me: theenglishist[at]gmail.com.

A to Z 2016

For the A to Z challenge, I’m blogging about fannish pursuits (aka things I’m a fan of or have strong feelings about). Tune in tomorrow to see what I picked for N!

L is for The Last Dragon

Ugh, why is it so hard to talk about the things I truly LOVE?

Like I can sincerely think of nothing to say about The Last Dragon because I want to say everything, and it’s all too much. It is, like the best childhood things, completely cheesy and absolute perfection. (Ha! This writer had the same issue. So I feel better now.)

So, here. Have a GIF of Richie breakdancing out of some ropes because THAT IS TOTALLY THE KIND OF AMAZING THING THAT HAPPENS IN THIS MOVIE.

It is magical.

I mean, as I am writing this, the title song is playing through my head as well as my favorite scenes. And I can actually recite the whole movie. I’m completely obnoxious about it, and that delights me to no end.

Oh, alright. Here is also a clip featuring Sho’Nuff because he is the meanest, prettiest, and baddest mofolo down around this town, so it would be criminal for me not to feature him in some way.

 

Okay, there is so much good there and not just the ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS things the women say (“I would like to peel this banana”? “How would you like to kiss on my fist?” — GOLD), but the fact that Leroy is 100% not scared of Sho’Nuff and there’s this moment when Sho’Nuff realizes it. It is brilliant. And Johnny calling Sho’Nuff a “string bean Rick James looking fool”? OMG.

Also, Sho’Nuff is INSANE. I love him. One more scene because I can’t resist.

Okay, okay. Last one. Because it is EVERYTHING.

I mean, really.

Also, I used to have “Sho’Nuff” as my ringtone for text messages. It was awesome.

 

A to Z 2016

For the A to Z challenge, I’m blogging about fannish pursuits (aka things I’m a fan of or have strong feelings about). Tune in tomorrow to see what I picked for M!

C is for Clueless

clueless

The four phases of my love for Clueless, one of the greatest movies of all time:

Phase I, 1995: The summer Clueless came out, I was visiting my godsisters in Georgia. Every single day, MTV showed some new promo clip or cute little moment with the cast (in character). I specifically remember there was an ad spot wherein Cher and Dionne talked about how they heard sucking on lemons helped burned calories and then did so before eating their salads. I laughed so hard. I was desperate to see the movie. However, my godsisters had just moved to the middle of nowhere and their mom had just started a new job, so we didn’t get a chance to go. And then I went home at the end of the summer and didn’t get a chance to go.

I eventually rented it and watched it on VHS later that year. I liked it. It was fine. I moved on.

Phase II, freshman year of college: One of my friends had the movie on VHS. My school, though close to a major city, was actually quite far from it if you didn’t have transportation, which none of us did. We watched a lot of movies that year. A lot. But we constantly rewatched Clueless. We started speaking in Clueless quotes. We started noticing background details about the movie. We pointed them out. We were probably annoying. (This guy my friend dated said after they stopped dating that we were annoying.) Ask me if I cared? It was glorious.

Phase III, graduate school: Remember how I said that I watched a lot of TV in grad school? I also rewatched a bunch of movies because I found that I wrote papers best when I used movies I knew very, very well as background noise. You know, movies I could pretty much recite line for line as I was watching.

Clueless was one of those movies. But it kind of went beyond that. I actually was so obsessed with it that I screencapped the entire movie. For fun. I spoke almost exclusively in Clueless quotes (there’s a Clueless quote for every occasion). I created a mood theme on LiveJournal. For those of you who don’t know, that takes an extremely long time. Not only did I have to find a picture for every mood, but I also then had to crop them and upload them and etc., etc., etc.

You know, now that I think about it, I was a little nuts in grad school. But I digress.

Phase IV, now: I own Clueless on DVD of course (and VHS, too, naturally), but I may or may not have watched it a time or two or several on Netflix. Most importantly, though, I have introduced my daughter to Clueless, and she enjoys it. Does she love it the way I do? No. Did she consider blowing her road test to get her driver’s license to imitate Cher? Maybe.

 

 

Shout out to my daughter for the driving test bit since I wasn’t sure which clip to pick for this. How do you choose your favorite scene from your favorite movie when you love every. single. scene? I mean, they are pretty much all perfection. Even this clip is infinitely quotable — and that’s even before the actual driving test.

So, yes, Clueless is amazing, and if you haven’t watched it already, you definitely should. And if we ever have a conversation, you’ll get about a quarter of the pop culture references I make.

 

A to Z 2016

For the A to Z challenge, I’ll be blogging about fannish pursuits (aka things I’m a fan of or have strong feelings about). Tune in tomorrow to see what I picked for D!

Monday Reading Check-In

I missed last week, so let’s do a little catch up, shall we?

 

Since my last post, I read:

Destiny's EmbraceDestiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don’t typically read traditional romance stories, but this one seemed to check all the boxes pretty well. I was more intrigued by the character of Alanza than Mariah, but it was fun reading about life on a ranch and all of the other fun historical tidbits that you get from historical fiction.

Read Harder 2016: Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900

View all my reviews

 

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and ScientologyTroublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, so I listened to this on audio, which I think made it just that much more amazing.

Leah is a complete badass and spills ALL THE TEA. All of it. Every last drop. My girl names names and everything. ALL OF THE NAMES.

I love this book. Love, love, love. Remini is fierce and funny and also a little hood, which I completely appreciated.

Read Harder 2016: Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)

View all my reviews

 

I also went to see:

Zootopia

Zootopia! I don’t make it to the movies often, but my daughter’s birthday was Wednesday, and she really wanted to see Zootopia, so off we went. It was a lot of fun and also a really practical look at how structural racism and sexism (and other forms of discrimination work). Allegory, yay! Anyway, my daughter liked it so much that she has already seen it again, so I can highly recommend it.

 

As of today, I’m reading:

I’m still making my way through Something Wicked by Alan Gratz. Poor Banks (Banquo), man.

I also started Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud, which is all about recognizing when it’s time to move on from situations in your life. I was introduced to the book through a small group study at my church, which I got a lot out of, so I figured I should probably read the book to get a little more understanding, so here we are. This article provides a little bit more info about the concepts covered in the book, if anyone is interested.

I’ve been reading House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones (the last book in the Howl’s Moving Castle trilogy) at work for the past week. I like the book well enough so far, but I legit keep forgetting about it until I get to work or unless I’m at work. So I guess this is the equivalent of a bathroom book in that way. We’ll see if it picks up. Or if I give up on it altogether. (I will probably finish it since I keep being amazed at how far into it I actually am. Maybe.)

Original now hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children's lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.

Original now hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children’s lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.

Happy reading this week, everyone!

 

Movies Based on Books: Gone Girl

Gone Girl

The best thing for me about watching movies in the theater is observing audience reactions—especially one that’s based on a pretty popular book. I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (my Goodreads review) about a month before going to see it whereas the friend I went with had read it more than a year ago. The women sitting behind us clearly hadn’t read it AT ALL, and so we all had different reactions to what happened.

See, the crazy was fresh in my mind, and my friend remembered that there was a lot of crazy, even if she couldn’t remember anything beyond the big stuff. Those other women, though? Gasps and exclamations throughout. Lots of “OMG” and “What the…?” Me, I was just like, “Yep, everybody in this story is still crazy.”

As for how I felt about the movie, I thought it was a pretty solid adaptation. All the main points were hit and some stuff was condensed for the movie, but, all in all, I had the same reaction to the book as I did to the movie–mainly that everyone was terrible except for Go and Boney, and they were the only two I felt anything for. Oh, and I thought Tyler Perry was awesome as the lawyer. I liked that character more in the movie than the book.

There were two changes that I didn’t particularly care for:

  1. In the book, Nick drinks pretty constantly, and I don’t think that was emphasized as much in the movie.
  2. I was really, really upset by something that happened at the very end.

[SPOILER]I hate, hate, HATED that Nick physically assaulted Amy at the

First, the point was that he didn’t and wouldn’t. Second, it just brought up all kinds of icky “she deserved it” feelings/commentary that should not have entered the conversation. My friend is a DV advocate, and she had very mixed feelings about it, and we both agreed that it just should have been left out altogether—especially since it wasn’t in the book. We know he’s frustrated; we know he feels powerless. Even her non-reaction was troublesome. Ugh, that whole part annoyed me. Just…let’s not.

[/END SPOILER]

Now that that’s out of the way, this movie also crystallized something else for me:

I really hate sex scenes. The nudity didn’t bother me at all (except during that one scene, which is supposed to be bothersome because it’s the height of effed up). But I seriously do not need to see people have sex, even if they are fully clothed. I mean, after about two seconds, I get it. They’re having sex. Okay. Can we move on now?

(I feel the same way about sex scenes on TV. And I grew up watching soap operas! Which, again, I always felt those sex scenes went on too long, and those are just people rolling around with sheets strategically covering their bodies and soft music playing. Seriously, though: WE GET IT.)

(I realize I may be in the minority on this.)

So, yes, that’s my big takeaway from Gone Girl: I hate sex scenes. Also, you know, I still like Go and Boney the most. (I was going to say love, but really. Neither version leaves a lot of room for love at all.)

In conclusion: A great adaptation, which left me feeling pretty much exactly the same as the book did.

Movies Based on Books: Think Like a Man

(source: IMP Awards)

(source: IMP Awards)

I was flipping channels one Saturday and came across Think Like a Man on VH1.

This is an odd little movie that is also a typical (fun) rom-com. Most of the weirdness comes from the fact that the movie is based on the self-help book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey, and, in the movie, the women are reading the book and Steve Harvey makes appearances throughout discussing the points in the book. Those appearances are played as interviews on talk shows, but it’s so meta and breaking the fourth wall that it feels like a huge commercial for the book.

Which it is, I guess. The book plays prominently in the story. Not only do the women carry the book around with Harvey promoting it in the background, but the men also read and discuss it. I mean, if the point is to show what happens to women who read the book and the men they’re involved with, then that makes perfect sense. It’s still weird.

The premise of the book is that a man gives women advice on how to get and keep a man instead of women going to other women for advice about how to get and keep a man. So, I feel as though there is a better way that could have been handled in the movie. By, I don’t know, having the women befriend a man who still gives them the advice from the book or something.

What I’m saying is I found those parts of the movie really jarring because they took me out of the movie as a movie and made me think of the movie as a commercial.

(I watched this with my daughter, and she didn’t have this problem at all. She just went with it. So I’m guessing most average viewers wouldn’t care either. Maybe just people who study stories for a living.)

That said, the actual characters are a lot of fun. And there are lots of good-looking people being good looking and also making out. I found myself rooting for almost all of the characters and their relationships, so the romance part was nicely handled. It also helps that there’s a happily married man to balance out all of the wacky single people shenanigans. (And Kevin Hart’s character is bitter and going through a divorce, which adds a bit more of fun.)

Plus also, I love Meagan Goode’s haircut in the movie. And looking at Michael Ealy is always a good time. As is looking at this guy who I don’t remember from anything else, but is super cute and adorable.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie. The characters were all likeable, and I think it helps a lot that they all wanted to be happy. Also, the movie was funny, so it wasn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.