Monday, January 27, 2014

Books and Movies and 88-Year-Old Entertainers, Oh My!

Okay, so, I'm STILL catching up on book reviews, but at least I've written TWO for books I've read THIS year.  Go, me!  In the rush to get all my reviews completed, though, I almost forgot that I wanted to take a little break and talk about movies.  I'm no movie critic—seriously, I go to the movies about three times a year on average and only watch maybe twice that at home.  It's not that I don't love movies—I do—it's just that I've usually got better things to do (like read).  However, in the last few months, I've actually seen several bookish movies.  Two of them were even in a real, live theater!  I'm going to save my non-theater film for another day so I can review it when I talk about the book it's based on, so that leaves these two:

THE BOOK THIEF:

My husband and I were walking around downtown Chicago one night in early December.  We were near Millennium Park when we saw an ad for some movie and decided, hey, we're footloose and fancy-free in the Windy City, why not catch a flick?  We'd taken the el from the airport to our hotel, so we didn't have a rental car.  Since it was a lovely night, we decided to walk to the nearest theater, which was down by Navy Pier—about two miles away!  I'd been wanting to see The Book Thief, so after our little urban hike, that's what we did.

And ...

I liked it.  Didn't love, love, love it, but enjoyed it nonetheless.  The script stayed pretty close to the book and when it did veer off, I could understand why.  What it did stay very true to was the theme and the feel of the novel.  I knew the film wouldn't get it exactly right, but it did a decent job.  My husband and I were both touched by it.  It gave us a lot to talk about on our 2-mile trek back to our hotel :)

SAVING MR. BANKS:

I realize Saving Mr. Banks isn't based on a book, but it does follow the story of a movie producer (Walt Disney) trying to get the film rights to a book series/character (Mary Poppins) from its author, P.L. Travers.  If you haven't seen the movie, may I suggest that you do?  And soon.  It's one of those warm, endearing films that just makes you want to cheer.  Or sob.  Or both.  Since it deals with some mature subject matter (alcoholism, death, etc.), it's rated PG-13, but I would still label it family friendly.  Truly, it's a wonderful movie.  Even though I sniffled my way through most of it, I fell in love with it.  So much.  I don't know how much of the film's story is absolutely historically accurate and how much has been "Disneyfied," but I don't care.  I adored it.

Whether Walt Disney actually said this or not, I love what his character tells Mrs. Travers:  "That's what we storytellers do.  We restore order with imagination.  We instill hope—again and again and again."  Lovely, right?

Speaking of Mary Poppins, the other night my husband and I went to see one of its stars, Dick Van Dyke.  He and his a capella group, the Vantastix, performed in our area to a packed house.  Most were senior citizens, but that was okay, we had a great time.  The show was excellent—funny, upbeat, very entertaining.  At 88 years old, Dick Van Dyke's still got it going on.  He can sing, he can dance, he can banter with his crazy white-haired groupies ... he's pretty darn spry (maybe it has something to do with his 42-year-old wife?).  As much as I loved hearing him sing Mary Poppins songs, this sweet song was my favorite of all that he and the Vantastix performed (the video's a couple years old, but you get the idea ...):


It was better in person, of course.  And just so, so sweet.  Made me think of all my babies who aren't babies anymore (*sniff, sniff*).

So, have you seen either of these movies?  What did you think?  What other bookish flicks have you seen lately?  Which do you recommend?

4 comments:

  1. I loved both of those movies, the only two that I have seen in a theater in the last two months. I was very pleased with "The Book Thief."

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    1. I was, too! I was worried the creators would get it completely wrong, but, really, they did pretty well.

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  2. My opinion of both movie's mirrors yours. I sobbed at the ending of SMB. Loved it!

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    1. Me, too. Luckily, I saw it by myself (while my daughter and her friend were watching Frozen, which I LOVE, but had already seen) because I did some serious blubbering in my popcorn!

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