Category Archives: Book – Movie – TV Reviews

The Shape of Water

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“At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.” ~ IMDb.com

This is a short synopsis of the movie, giving you absolutely no idea of the beauty and creativity waiting for you. My husband and I rarely agree with the Academy on which movies should be nominated, which one wins best picture, etc. In fact, we haven’t usually gotten a chance to see the movies that are vying for the award at the time the awards are given.

We saw The Shape of Water last night and I’m still touched, amazed, and pleased that it won Best Picture for 2018.

 

Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro was the writer, screenplay writer, director, and producer (he might have even worn more hats in this) and I will look for more movies directed by him. I can’t say enough about his talent.  He won Oscars for Best Movie and Best Director for this film.

The actors were well chosen, and were nominated – if not winning – Oscars for their performances.

Sally Hawkins played the janitor. She is mute and says NOTHING the whole movie. She was nominated for Best Actress, but didn’t win. Octavia Spenser played her friend and co-worker. She was nominated for Best Supporting Role by an Actress. Michael Shannon played the creature, and did a superb job.

The story was completely unique and quite creative. I will buy it for our collection.

 

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“The Intouchables”

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We watched this movie from our collection last night. It had been awhile since we saw it the first time, then bought the DVD.

The main plot is that a black man (Omar Sy) needs to apply for one more job in order to start receiving money from the state. He applies as a caretaker for a paraplegic (Francois Cluzet). Cluzet is a man of some wealth. He has enjoyed the finer things of life, but a hang glider accident has taken away almost all of the joy of life. The black man is hired on probation.

This doesn’t sound like a feel good movie, does it. The friendship that develops between these two men is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. They each make the other’s life richer, more enjoyable. The movie had us laughing out loud.

We highly recommend it!!

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Jack Reacher Books

My husband discovered the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. He loved the books and suggested I try them. We’ve both read all of them and kept the books in our library. Recently, I started re-reading them. I just finished re-reading “Die Trying.”

 

Reader’s Digest

This is just how I’m feeling right now. I wanted to keep reading about the two main characters. I love meeting characters I admire. Both of the main characters here were highly trained and able to handle themselves in tough situations. They found themselves in a situation where they were unable to get the upper hand and I admired them even more for how they handled it. They lived by strong ideals, something you don’t find very often anymore.

I have book 3, “Tripwire” on the table beside my chair in the living room. I’m waiting to start it, though, still savoring the rich plot, great characters, and gifted writing from the last one a bit more before I dive into another adventure.

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“Unlocked”

We watched “Unlocked” starring Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, John Malkovich, Michael Douglas and others last night. We were both exhausted by the end of it, having been grabbed by the throat from the beginning.

“In 2009, Rapace came to the attention of international audiences for her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009). Her performance was widely praised, and she won the Best Actress prize at Sweden’s prestigious Guldbagge Awards. She went on to reprise the role in the sequels, The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2009).”

We loved her performances in “The Girl Who” movies. We had read the books before we watched the movies and thought the casting of Rapace was perfect. We’ve watched for more movies with her ever since.

This has a LOT of action, with violence. There is an actual plot – with a REASON for the violence. If you like a really fast-moving, well-written story with top-notch acting, this is one for you. Rapace’s character is strong and relentless. I was surprised how good Orlando Bloom’s performance was. I had thought of him only as a love story actor, but he proved me wrong.

Our ultimate compliment for a movie – we came into the office and purchased a copy for our collection.

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The Residence

I just finished reading “The Residence – Inside the Private World of the White House” by Kate Andersen Brower.

She interviewed MANY of the butlers, chefs, maids, electricians, etc. who have worked in the White House through many presidencies, getting their unique perspective on first families, the importance of their jobs, and their dedication to ‘the house.’ I found it fascinating. I’ve just ordered her book, “First Ladies” for my kindle, and can’t wait to dive into it.

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“Victoria and Abdul”

I’m probably the last person on the planet to see “Victoria & Abdul.”

We rent and stream a lot of movies, most of them being action movies with lots of violence, things blowing up, etc. that are favorites of my husband. I try to watch them, and – I have to admit – sometimes I actually like them – but every once in a while, sandwiched between all the action – I like something with a plot, real acting, with people I care about.

Last night it was my turn again. We eat dinner in front of the TV most nights, and my husband eased out of the room once he had finished his and taken our plates to the kitchen.

I loved this movie. I like almost anything with Judi Dench. She usually plays strong women with character, and it was no exception here. I had never seen the lead man, Ali Fazal, who played Abdul. He was excellent, and I found it a joy to watch them together. I was very pleased to see another of my favorite actors, Michael Gambon, who played Lord Salisbury. (I recognized him from his role of Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter movies.)  A hallmark of a great movie is when you feel richer for having met the characters and shared a bit of their lives.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. I know I’ll want to watch it again soon.

 

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“Wind River” – Movie Recommendation

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“Wind River is a 2017 American neo-Western murder mystery thriller film written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. The film stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker and an FBI agent, respectively, who try to solve a murder on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Gil Birmingham and Graham Greene also star. According to Sheridan, the opening “inspired by true events” card[5] was a reference to the “thousands of actual stories just like it” involving sexual assault of women on reservations, his primary motivation for writing the film.[6]” ~ Wikipedia

This isn’t our usual type of movie, but we rented it because Jeremy Renner was starring.

This is a movie we feel is well worth watching. The story is strong, with strong women characters. The acting is first-rate.  The scenery is incredible.

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Movie Recommendation

The movie is called, “Megan Leavey.”

“The true life story of Megan Leavey, a young Marine corporal whose unique discipline and bond with a military combat dog saved many lives during her deployment in Iraq.”

It stars Kate Mara.

We watched it last night. It’s a movie well worth seeing, based on a true story. Don’t watch without a kleenex or two.

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“Hereafter”

I’m probably the last person on the planet to see “Hereafter,” since it came out in 2010, but just in case you haven’t seen it, I recommend it highly.

“The film tells three parallel stories about three people affected by death in similar ways—all three have issues of communicating with the dead; Matt Damon plays American factory worker George, who is able to communicate with the dead and who has worked professionally as a clairvoyant, but no longer wants to communicate with the dead.”

Directed by Clint Eastwood, I found the characters and their situations riveting. There was great character development. I cared what happened to these people.  The actors were well-chosen, and I found the characters they played appealing.

I have just ordered the DVD for our collection so that I can watch it again.

 

 

 

 

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A Dog’s Purpose

 

“Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog’s Purpose is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog’s many lives, but also a dog’s-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend. This moving and beautifully crafted story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.”

I saw that this book had been made into a movie, and it’s in our queue on NetFlix. I always like to read the book first, so I ordered it.

I cannot say enough about this writer. He is truly gifted. He made me laugh. He made me cry. He made me look at my dogs (and cats) through new eyes.

This book is well worth your time, and I’m keeping it so I can reread it from time to time.

A very special experience you won’t want to miss.

I hope the movie is half as good.

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New Book

The Reader’s Nook via Cathy Ruggiero

One of my favorite authors is Nora Roberts. I like the worlds she creates. I like the characters. I enjoy reading some of her trilogies (and what do you call a 4-some?) over and over again. I slide into her world, forget my problems, see old friends again.

For years and years I have resisted her series written as J.D. Robb. It bothered me that they wouldn’t be like her ‘normal’ writing that I loved. For some reason I decided I just didn’t want to try them.

Marsha, a good friend of mine, told me that she LOVED the J.D. Robb “In Death” series. She convinced me to try one. I bought it used on Amazon for the price of shipping.

I’m hooked. Eve Dallas, the main character, is a detective in a world of the future. She’s an interesting, many-layered woman you want to know. I would like to be her friend. I’m fascinated and admire her. She has courage and grit, and yet remains vulnerable. The world is very different from the one we live in, and yet in the ways that matter, it’s the same.

There are 45 books in the series so far. I’ve bought 12 of them and am in the middle of a great adventure!

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If You Have

Marcus Tullius Cicero via Om Times Magazine via Cathy Ruggiero

 

I’ve told you about some of the books I’ve been reading lately – ones about the White House written by people who worked as support staff for a gazillion years. It’s very interesting to me to get impressions of our presidents, first ladies, and their families, plus what was happening while they were in the White House by people who were loyal to the country and the ‘house,’ rather than one party or another, having to change with each new administration.  I’m on my third one now.

I’m also into Nora Roberts – writing as J.D. Robb – in her series of “In Death” books. I have avoided them for years because when I really like an author, I don’t usually enjoy the things they do to ‘cleanse their palate’ before they write another of their more usual style books. I was told by a good friend that this series was one of her favorites, so I bought a used book from Amazon – the first in the series. Now I’m on #4 and hooked. The main character is a strong female detective who impresses me with her character and tenaciousness, as well as her guts.

I told you recently about an author new to me, Douglas E. Richards. He wrote The Cure, and I almost couldn’t put it down. All I can suggest is that you don’t start it late at night if you want to get to sleep any time soon. Since reading that one, my husband told me that he had several of Richards books on his Kindle. Since we have a sharing set up, I was able to ‘deliver’ the other books my husband had to my Kindle Fire. It makes me feel rich to know they’re waiting for me. :0)

Today I’m going to get more plants to put in our garden! I told you recently that we had finished converting our square foot garden into a RAISED BED square foot garden. This was a LOT of work for these old folks, but well worth the struggle. I now have SIX 4’x4′ x 8″ deep boxes on legs, like tables, about my chest height, filled with Mel’s Mix now and marked with string to make the squares. The only thing planted right now is some Georgia Sweet onion sets.

I’m going to get a good number of plants today, since it looks like our area in Arkansas MAY be free from more hard freezes (although the average last frosts aren’t over, according to the books, until April 10th.). I’m going to risk it and get some plants into the ground.

The main thing I want to grow is as many kinds of lettuce and similar plants as I can. I love to go out and cut leaves for our salads at lunch or in the evening. I’ll also be looking for spinach plants, although I usually have trouble finding those. I’ve started some seed on my window sill, but I don’t know if I’ll be successful.

I have celery and spaghetti squash plants I started inside that I’ll transfer to the garden after they’ve spent a few days on the back porch getting used to the outside temperatures. I’ll be looking for broccoli and cauliflower, and I’ll be starting radishes. That’ll be a good start.  I’ll take pics to share with you as things come together.

“If you have a Garden and a Library, you have everything you need.”

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Great Book for a Rainy Day

I Love Reading Books via Cathy Ruggiero

I Love Reading Books via Cathy Ruggiero

Since we’re having a rainy, raw day here, I’m feeling very lucky to have a warm, dry house and a good book to read!

I started reading Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies, by J.B. West and Mary Lynn Kotz.

It covers a behind the scenes look at some of our first ladies, from Eleanor Roosevelt through Ladybird Johnson from the standpoint of the Chief Usher at the White House for about 30 years.  I’m finding it educational and extremely interesting. I have to admit my ignorance at not even knowing the White House HAD a chief usher, or his duties. Getting his reactions to what was happening in history, and the daily work in the White House during this period really gives you a different perspective on what you thought you knew, plus insights you didn’t have before. I highly recommend this book.

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The Cure

The Cure by Douglas E. Richards

The Cure by Douglas E. Richards

 

“Erin Palmer had a devastating encounter with a psychopath as a child. Now a grad student and scientist, she’s devoting her life to studying these monsters. When her research catches the attention of Hugh Raborn, a brilliant neuroscientist who claims to have isolated the genes responsible for psychopathic behavior, Erin realizes it may be possible to reverse the condition, restoring souls to psychopaths. But to do so, she’ll not only have to operate outside the law, but violate her most cherished ethical principles.”

This author was new to me. My husband passed me the book, saying that he thought I might like it. I was unable to sleep night before last, so came downstairs to read awhile. I started this book, reading half of it before I absolutely could not hold my eyes open a moment longer. I stayed up late to finish it the next night.

I love stores with intelligent, strong women. I’m going to look for more by this author.

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Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

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Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

Recently I recommended George Washington and the Secret Six by these same authors. I am again in awe of their ability to make the book hard to put down, even when you know the ending before you start!

These two men make history, and the men who made it, REAL.

My husband is a former Marine, so I’ve hummed along with the Marine Corp Hymn for much of my life –

“From the halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean.
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.”

I’m proud of my husband’s service, but never really thought about what the hymn meant. I didn’t realize that our confrontations regarding freedom to sail in International waters with 4 Muslim worlds began so early, actually starting in Washington’s term as president, but not actually solved until Madison’s.

I have a better understanding of what happened at that time, the reason for the Marine Corp Hymn, and the reason that the dress uniform of the Marine Corp includes a Mameluke sword. I also have a better appreciation for how hard it was to coordinate military efforts at that time.

Again, I highly recommend anything written by these collaborating authors. I’ll watch for their next book.

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Inferno

Since we recently put “Inferno” in our Netflix queue, I bought the book to read. I always enjoy reading the book first and then watching the movie. I like it so much, I’ve now given it to my husband to read.

I’m probably the last person on the planet to read the book, but if you haven’t read it, you’re in for a real treat. Warning, though – if you have other things you really need to do, don’t start it until you’ve cleared a bit of your schedule.

The blurb on the Amazon website says,

“In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.”

To add my personal note, I found the characters well-drawn and real. I cared about all of them. I even felt a bit sorry for the ‘villain,’ in that his strong beliefs – built throughout his life – were ignored.  The story was a strong one, really keeping my interest. I also loved the virtual guide through many wonderful places all over the world. The descriptions were wonderful, obviously from someone who knew and appreciated antiquity, history, art, and other cultures. I now have a whole list of places I’ll Google, hoping for good pictures. :0)

If you’ve already read it, I would love to hear what you thought. If you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll treat yourself to a real experience.

Since I love Tom Hanks, I’m now looking forward to seeing the movie.

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George Washington’s Secret Six

When I was in the 2nd grade, I wanted to learn about our presidents. I went to the school library and was delighted to find a whole series of blue books that covered ALL of our presidents! I avidly read them. It was a lot of work for a second-grader, but I really wanted to LEARN. Later I discovered that I had worked really hard to read what was essentially drivel. “Washington cut down the cherry tree” type of dis-information, rather than facts.

I STILL get angry when I think of the time I wasted. I really find it hard to believe that the library gave the series shelf space. I’m disgusted with myself for not realizing until much later that I had been fooled.

I was a ‘good student.’ I followed the rules, didn’t get into trouble, made really good grades, but essentially learned very little in the public schools. I then went to college, earning a degree in elementary education, and following that with a Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist. I still feel the same way about my education.

Now that I’m older than dirt, the only one I can really blame is myself. I COULD have made the time to get books that would have told me what I wanted to know, that would have excited me to learn more, to really know about the history of the United States, and facts about our presidents, our wars, our successes and our failures.

Recently I read George Washington’s Secret Six – The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution. The authors are Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger.

I’m STILL excited.

I learned so many things I didn’t know! I had never heard of the Secret Six. I had no appreciation for the fact that after the Declaration of Independence was signed, it was 7 long years of fighting before our actual independence was won by brave men and women in all walks of life, doing what they could for their country. As in anything, there was a lot of controversy. People felt it was prudent, in many cases, to keep a low profile about their politics and loyalties.

I was amazed at the code they devised to be able to communicate without being caught. I never realized how close we came to LOSING the Revolutionary War. I have a new appreciation for ‘regular’ people risking their lives, and that of their families and future, to do what they could to help.

I went to Nathan Hale High School in Tulsa, and I can recite his famous quote – but I had no real appreciation for how young he was – how he gave up his whole future to try to help.  I didn’t realize he was one of MANY young, idealistic people who lived in the midst of British loyalists, trying to get information that would help the rebels win, or how quickly the loyalists would turn over someone to the British trying to get that information, because they were “ruining” the loyalists’ way of life.

gw

I feel awful that I didn’t know this before, but I’m very glad I found this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to learn more about George Washington, Benedict Arnold, The Revolutionary War, our push to win freedom from the British.  I’ve ordered, and just received, the next book in the series, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates – The Forgotten War that Changed American History.

Maybe there’s hope for me yet! :0)

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“Money Monster”

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IMDb

“Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over their studio.”

This movie stars George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Jack O’Connell. My husband and I watched it last night and we both were impressed. It was directed by Jodie Foster. There wasn’t a dead spot in the movie and we both held our breaths until the end. Neither Clooney nor Roberts played on their good looks. The acting was superb and the plot believable. It was amazing that we actually felt sorry for the ‘bad guy’, who took over the TV station and threatened all of their lives.

We highly recommend this movie if you haven’t seen it.

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“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

IMDb

IMDb

My husband and I watched this a couple of nights ago. The synopsis reads, “A journalist recounts her wartime coverage in Afghanistan.”

The movie managed to do two things

  • give a picture of what it would be like to be in the middle of a war where women are considered property, rather than people, facing untold danger
  • manages to blunt the corners of a terrible situation, allowing you to look at it from a different perspective
  • shows you the length journalists must go to get a good story, and to maintain their jobs and status

I was really impressed with Tina Fey as one of the journalists. Although there were several times she probably wouldn’t have survived in the real situation, I left impressed with the gutsiness of her character, her determination to do the best possible reporting that she could, while being very human.

The movie was a combination of gritty and humorous, if you can believe it. The title is indicative of the tongue-in-cheek attitude in parts of the movie.

I would like to read what you think of it.

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Criminal

IMDb

IMDb

My husband and I watched this movie last night. We were impressed.

It stars Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Godot, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman and others.  Though it’s pretty violent in spots, there are understandable reasons for it, rather than it being gratuitous.  The acting was very good and I cared about what happened to the people in the story. The plot was a really creative, interesting idea – one that caused a lot of discussion afterwards.

The story summary is “In a last-ditch effort to stop a diabolical plot, a dead CIA operative’s memories, secrets, and skills are implanted into a death-row inmate in hopes that he will complete the operative’s mission.”  – IMDb

My husband and I are in agreement that we’ll want to see this again, and will be buying the DVD for our collection.

If you’ve seen it, I would be very interested to hear what you think.

 

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“Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”

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My husband taped this for me a couple of nights ago and I’m still feeling good after watching it.

Mr. Mogorium’s Wonder Emporium stars Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Zach Mills, and Jason Bateman. The actors are perfect for the roles they play.

“Magic flows freely through the walls and toys within the Wonder Emporium. But when Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman), the store’s 243-year-old proprietor, decides to turn the reins over to his manager Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman), mysterious changes creep over the Emporium. Molly and Henry (Jason Bateman), an accountant, must discover the magic within themselves if they are ever to revive the now-quiet toys.”

This is a delightful movie. A really feel-good, uplifting movie. The only thing that could have been better was that the movie be longer. I have now ordered the DVD so that I can watch it over and over again, whenever I’m feeling a bit down.

I lost myself in their magical world. I would love to be able to visit this toy store and call the people in it my friends.

If this sounds good, try it. Let me know what you think.

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Furry Logic

FurryLogic

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