It's December 1st and winter has arrived in Detroit. I live far enough south (on purpose) that I'm just getting rain which is interesting since the RealFeel temp this morning when I walked in was 17˚F (announced temp 35˚F), but not that far north it's freezing rain and areas west of Detroit are getting snow. Just two days ago I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Gotta love this state.
The beginning of a new month around my little corner of the Internet means you will now find out what I read and watched in November. I'm going to start with books since I watched a boatload of movies and I'm not in the mood right now to link that much.All Souls' Day
by Bill Morris – 325 pages. I had read Bill Morris' previous book called Motor City
and really enjoyed it, so when I saw this on the Borders sale table a year or so ago I grabbed it. I have lots of books so I hadn't gotten around to it (like so many of my books, but I have to say this listing of books read is really helping me get through my books) yet. I found the reviews at the amazon.com links to be very good. Anyway, I enjoyed this book and if you're the least bit interested in 1963 Southeast Asia and the beginning of the Vietnamese War, I'd definitely recommend this book. And trust me, it's not in the least bit dry or hard to read. Long Time Gone
by J.A. Jance – 417 pages. I had never read a J.A. Jance book before, but my aunt had brought a bunch of books with her to give away and it sounded interesting. It's your basic murder mystery/thriller book. No exploration of 1960s American military policy or anything like that, but an enjoyable book. The protagonist even caught the killer in the end. Oops, damn, sorry, gave away the ending.The Last Templar
by Raymond Khoury – 404 pages. I loved this book!!! As soon as I finished it, I took it downstairs to Ursamajor
as I knew this was a book she'd find very interesting. If you liked The DaVinci Code
, I'd recommend this book. I'd say I even liked it better than it, although I still prefer The Eight
by Katherine Neville for this genre. If you have not read The Eight, please do so. I still remember the first time I read that book. It had been in a bag of books lent to me by a friend (DJ Davo, if you read my dancing post from last week) and I picked it up and read the back thinking that I was going to hate this book, but I didn't feel like reading anything else, so I started it. And then I could not put it down. I couldn't wait to get home from work every day so that I could read and then as I got close to the end I found myself putting it down and finding things to do because I did NOT want it to end. I read it again a few years ago just to make sure I still liked it and I still did. I've lent this book out a million times and each time never gotten it back (really pissing me off, as I've lost two hardcovers that way), so I won't lend it anymore. Get it from the library! It's worth it and trust me, so was The Last Templar
.Domiknitrix: Whip Your Knitting Into Shape
by Jennifer Stafford – 256 pages. My dear dear friend Sal
in SF sent me this book from amazon.com. And I suck so badly at writing e-mails these days that I haven't even written to him yet to thank him for it yet. There are some very cool patterns in this book which I'll probably never attempt because I have no confidence in my knitting. And when I read a book and don't understand half of what is said? Oh, not a good sign. I knew all the words, but they were put together in such a way that made my head hurt. Oh, but the patterns!!! I want The City Coat so badly. I might have to get serious about this knitting thing. That book is definitely going with me to Knitting Club tomorrow night.
And last, but not least:The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger – 277 pages. Yup, a classic, I read a classic. I had never had to read it in high school or college, so this had escaped me for years. I typed a paper years ago for BST, but that was as close as I have ever come to it, until this month. If someone could explain to me why this book is considered to be a classic or a must read, please please please please let me know. I didn't get it. I called BST on my walk home on Tuesday to ask him about it. It's his favorite book. He said when he first read it in high school, he could totally relate to Holden Caulfield. Yeah, I didn't relate very well to Holden. It’s not a hard read by any stretch of the imagination. I finished it in a few days basically walking home from work (12 minutes) and to Kroger (30 minutes?) and then on the elliptical at the gym (an hour one day and maybe 20 minutes yesterday), so it's readable. I just didn't understand it. BST said that he thinks it might be a guy book as most women he knows hated it. I didn't hate it, I just didn't get it. If you're read it, let me know your thoughts on it.
My favorite book for the month was The Last Templar
. Read it!
I watched way too many movies this month, but here goes:
11/1 - Sleeping With The Enemy
(K) – 20% - Yikes, I guess the critics hated this movie. I remember this movie came out around the same time as the Silence of the Lambs and thinking that I found this movie scarier than latter because I think it's more likely you'll come across a controlling asshole than a psycho serial killer in your lifetime. I like this movie, but will confess that it's mostly because I think Kevin Anderson is so cute!!! Patrick Bergen creeps me the hell out in this movie (not that I've necessarily seen him in anything else).
11/3 - Mona Lisa Smile
(N) - No rating – I had wanted to see this movie when it was in the theatres but I get to the movies so rarely that it didn't happen. Wow, Kirsten Dunst did a great job in this movie. I wanted to slap the shit out of her. I liked this movie and thought everybody in the ensemble cast did a great job. It's not just a Julia Roberts movie.
11/4 - The Dreamers
(N) – no rating – Yeah, I didn't get this movie at all. It took place in Paris in the late 60s, but that was periphery to the weirdness, I thought. I do not recommend this movie.
11/6 - Laura
(K) – 100% - My friend Suzy
(whom I need to write) gave me this movie on video six years ago when I had my neck surgery and was going to be stuck at home for 3 weeks. I loved it so much that when I found it for $6 (or so, somewhere) on DVD, I picked it up. Great movie!!! Although it's in black & white, this is a movie that translates well to modern audiences – at least I think so, but I love old movies, so am I really the one to say? Watch it!
11/6 - Indiscreet
(K) – 100% - Another old movie, but oh so fabulous! How can you go wrong with Ingrid Bergman & Cary Grant. *sigh*
11/7 - Labyrinth
(N) – 55% - When this movie came out I got to movies even less often than I do now, so I missed it, but haven't always wanted to see it (what can I say? I love David Bowie and think he's just sexy). I wouldn't call this a must see movie, but I enjoyed it and if I saw it was on TV, I'd stop and watch it again. I don't think I'd buy it, but you never know what I'll do when I find cheap DVDs especially when it's David Bowie looking pretty glam.
11/11 - Umbrellas of Cherbourg
(N) – 100% - Oh dear God, I thought I was going to die while watching this movie. I’m sure it was a good movie, but they sang the entire fucking movie. And I don't mean they broke out into the occasional song like a musical, say "The Sound of Music," I mean every single fucking word of this movie was sung. It's not a long movie (less than 90 minutes) but it felt like it went on BLOODY FOREVER
. When this film was restored ten years ago, it was shown at the Detroit Film Theatre, but I had something going on that weekend, so I missed it, and ever since then it's been on my list of movies to see. I had no clue all dialogue was sung. When I mentioned it the next day when I got together with BST and Jason
for movie watching, Jason confessed that he'd never been able to watch the entire movie because of the singing. I felt much better.
11/12 - Stroszek
(N) – 100% - I watched quite a few 100% movies this morning (so far). This movie had been on my Must See List for years as it was the movie that Ian Curtis
watched the night he killed himself. I watched this with BST and Jason
as they're both Joy Division fans (although not to the extent I am, because I'm crazy). Anyway, we all sat there and thought, "WTF?" when it was over. This movie did double duty because it's in my 1001 Movies You Must Watch Before You Die book and this is what my book had to say about it:
"In 1974, German director Werner Herzog made The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (88%), based on the 19th century case of a man suddenly thrust into the world after years living in a cell. In the lead he cast Bruno S., a street musician and real-life social outsider who - with his strange tics and oddly histrionic speech rhythms - proved an inspired choice for the part. If Kaspar Hauser felt like an indirect portrait of Bruno S., that is even more true of Stroszek, in which he plays a street musician and drinker newly released from prison. Finding German life unmanageably brutal, he teams up with a prostitute (Eva Mattes) and a borderline-crazy father figure (Clemens Scheitz). Together they set out for a new life in America, but end up in a barren, banal nowhere. Inevitably ending up alone and at bay, Bruno finally stages an elaborate gesture of despair. The film's final sequence - involving a ski lift, a pick-up truck, and a colony of performing animals in a roadside attraction - is one of the most savage and unforgiving endings on film.
Herzog's 1970s films are often lyrical, steeped in mystical German romanticism: Stroszek is a stark exception. This is a brutally lucid view of the dream of freedom; America is entirely stripped of mystique, presented as a spiritual wasteland and a trap for the unwary. And the final image of the chicken, dancing maniacally to a cacophony of harmonica and hillbilly whopping, is as unbearably cruel an image of the human condition - obsessive and out of control - as any filmmaker has asked an audience to watch.
What makes the picture truly phenomenal, however, is the way that Bruno S. commands the screen, with indomitable charm and verve Despite the role of perennial holy fool, he embodies one of the distinctively strange intelligences of modern cinema. Because of its naturalistic approach and minor-key subject matter, Stroszek is less celebrated than Herzog's great visionary follies of the 70s - but it is among his best films and is certainly one of the most unpitying dramas ever made about Europe's dreams of America."
The three of us were befuddled by the movie, particularly the ending and by BST's movie book which called the movie a "hysterical comedy" as none of us found it funny and we totally understood how it could induce a person already close to the edge to commit suicide.
11/12 - Major League
(K) – 89% - I actually watched most of this on the 12th and then finished watching it on the 13th, as if that matters, but I like to be precise. I love this movie. Absolutely love it. I've never seen any of the sequels, so I can't comment on them, but this movie? Priceless! Even if you don't like baseball, this is a great movie.
11/13 - The Sound of Music
(K) – 88% - I think it's kind of sad that Major League got a better rating than The Sound of Music. As much as I love it, I don't think it's better than this. Somebody who hates musicals probably reviewed it. I have seen this movie more times than I can count and I just love it. I bought the DVD ages ago, but never watched it, but decided it was time to break it out. The best part of this movie is knowing that it is my friend Julius' favorite movie. You have to know Julius to understand that, but suffice it to say that he doesn’t *look* like somebody whose favorite movie is The Sound of Music. He looks like Frank Zappa and is about 6'4" with dark hair and huge feet in combat boots. It just cracks me up.
11/14 - Mary Poppins
(K) – 100% - I was going through my Musical Period this month. It's Mary Poppins, what can I say? I love it, but I'm going to admit that this is the first time in memory that I can remember watching it and not crying at the ending. Am I becoming hard-hearted??
11/16 - The Whales of August
(N) – 71% - I was going to say I don't remember why I had this movie in my queue, but then I remembered it was because of Lillian Gish. I had added this to my queue shortly after my D.W. Griffiths film fest last month. It also starred Bette Davis who played a bitch while Lillian Gish played this sweet little old lady who was Bette's sister and took care of Bette because Bette was blind. It was a pleasant film, but nothing overwhelming. It also starred Vincent Price, but for me the reason to see this film is Lillian Gish. I just wanted to hug her, she was so cute.
11/16 - Scarlet Street
(N) – 100% - I was in a film noir mood when I put this on my list and although the critics loved it, I didn't. Of course, it has nothing to do with the quality of the acting or directing or even the story. My issue is that Edward G. Robinson's character is played for a patsy and I just hate watching people do things that you know are going to backfire on them. I find that extremely painful to deal with. It's probably an excellent example of film noir and if you can get past my issues and you like old films, go for it.
11/16 - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
(K) – no rating – It's Gene Wilder & Jack Albertson. It's classic. I love Gene Wilder and I love Willy Wonka. Nothing more needs to be said.
11/17 - The Odessa File
(TCM) – 71% - I read the book by Frederick Forsythe around the time it came out, so it was a long time ago, but I liked it, so when I saw this was on TCM this month, I watched it. It's always satisfying seeing Nazis being brought to justice, so that was good. Sometimes I think it's hard to judge movies from the 70s these days because technology has changed so much. It looks a little dated, but it was the time period, so that didn't bother me. I can't say how well it followed the book as I read it so long ago, but I thought it was a good movie. If TCM plays it again, catch it.
11/18 - Sabotage
(K) (Hitch) – 100% - I think I must have been having trouble getting movies from Netflix or I didn't feel like watching the ones I had because I spent this particular Saturday watching a bunch of my own movies. Anyway, it's Hitchcock. We know I love him. This movie is brilliant, but a little hard to watch at one point if you know what's going to happen. As usual, the lead female is blonde, and there's a love interest. Old Hitch was a romantic, but not in a cloying icky way. It's one of his British films, but oh so worth the time.
11/18 - The Lodger
(K) (Hitch) – 89% - This is on the same DVD as Sabotage and is only 85 minutes long, so I figured What the heck? It's one of Hitch's silent era films, but you don't really realise that there's no sound (well, there's the background music, of course, but you know what I mean). It's amazing how sometimes you don't need to hear the dialogue to know what's going on. Love it.
11/18 - Saboteur
(K) (Hitch) – 83% - I don't understand the 83% positive rating on this one. This is absolutely one of my favorite B&W Hitchcock movies. Yeah, I know I love them all, but this one is so cool, ending on the Statue of Liberty. And I love the Philip Martin character exhorting the mistaken saboteur to get back into practice on the triangle. It just cracks me up. Or as Holden Caulfield would say "It kills me."
11/18 - Rear Window
(K) (Hitch) – 100% - Jimmy Stewart & Grace Kelly star. Grace Kelly is so beautiful while Jimmy Stewart is pretty much Jimmy Stewart. Classic Hitchcock. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and rent it. Raymond Burr plays a great bad guy in this.
11/18 - My Fair Lady
(K) – 96% - The elegance and grandeur of this film is brilliant. The costumes are to die for. Audrey Hepburn is just so incredibly gorgeous. Rex Harrison is perfect at Henry Higgins. It's a brilliant cast from top to bottom. The songs make me join in. I love this movie and always have. I do wish I could have been alive so that I could have seen Julie Andrews in the Broadway show so I could have a reference point, but ah well.
11/24 - Freaks
(TCM) – 97% - This movie is in my 1001 Movies… book, so when I saw that TCM was going to be showing it late Saturday night (11/18), I set my VCR and went to bed. The description in my book had me a little leery about watching it saying it was so scary, etc. It wasn't, but it was a very interesting movie, especially for the time, I'd bet. The director (Tod Browning, I believe) used actual sideshow "freaks" in the movie and I have to say that it would probably wouldn't have worked at all, if he hadn't. There were parts of the movie that were very disturbing, but nothing that would keep me up at night.
11/25 - The Bridges of Madison County
(video sent by some jackass in NE) – 86% - So, I have this jackass friend in Nebraska
who has been telling me for the past year (at least) that I need to see this movie. And for the past year and a half I've been digging my heels in and just refusing, mostly because I'm not a fan of Meryl Streep's but also because I had no interest in it. He found Seasons 1 & 2 of Stargate SG-1 in a pawn shop in his town and picked them up for me (oh so much cheaper than anywhere on-line) and after he watched them (to make sure they were in good working order – what a good guy he is), he mailed them to me and included a copy of The Bridges of Madison County. He tried to hide it in a Drug Free Kids video jacket, but I knew what it was. I'm not stupid. I might be stubborn, but I'm not stupid. ;-) I am now confessing that I actually liked The Bridges of Madison County. I didn't hate Meryl Streep in it (as I usually do) and since I like Clint Eastwood that wasn't a problem. So, I concede that I was wrong about this movie and it was worth watching.
11/25 - Field of Dreams
(K) – 90% - This was my very first movie on DVD. I got it before I actually had a DVD player. I love this movie and will watch it every time it's on TV. I'm not even a Kevin Costner fan as I think he has slightly more acting ability than Andie McDowell (who has none), but I think he does pretty well in baseball movies. Another movie where I cry at the ending every single friggin' time.
11/25 - To Catch A Thief
(K) (Hitch) – 100% - This time Hitch paired Grace Kelly with Cary Grant to great success. This is also the movie that brought about the end of Grace Kelly's movie career as it was during filming this in the South of France that she met Prince Ranier of Monaco. She did one more movie after this one (can't remember right now which one), but this movie was the reason for the demise. Another Hitch movie which I love and another movie with fabulous costumes to say nothing of the location shots. LOVE! See it!
11/25 - The Jungle Book
(K – video) – 87% - I had been looking through my 1001 Movies book and saw that this was listed and since it had been quite a while since I had seen it, I decided to watch it. This is actually a relatively recent Disney movie for me – meaning that I saw it for the first time in the 90s and immediately loved it. The vultures crack me the heck up. I adore Sebastian Cabot playing Bagheera and Phil Harris as Baloo. And who doesn't love the song "Bare Necessities?"
11/25 - The Iron Giant
(K) – 97% - I decided to stay with the cartoon theme here and since it had been a few months since I had indulged in The Iron Giant (last year apparently since I can't find it listed in my movies watched this year) I threw it in the DVD player. Have you seen this movie? So many people have not and I just love it. Hogarth Hughes is a little boy (9 years old maybe?) who finds this Iron Giant who crashed into Earth near his home in Maine in the 50s. He befriends it, of course, but needs to hide it from the crazy ass government guy who thinks it's evil, etc. Another movie which has me reaching for the tissue at the end.
11/25 - The Man Who Knew Too Much
(K) (Hitch) – 90% - This time our blonde is Doris Day and she plays opposite Hitch's second favorite leading man, Jimmy Stewart. This is a remake from one of his B&W British films and he preferred it to the original. This movie brought us the song "Qué será, será." I don't love this one, but I do like it a whole lot.
And last, but not least, this past Sunday Ursamajor came over for a mini Audrey Hepburn filmfest.
11/26 - How To Steal A Million
(K) – 100% - Audrey Hepburn is fabulous. Peter O'Toole is gorgeous. Hugh Griffiths is eccentric. It's all good. A great movie to add to anybody's Audrey Hepburn collection. And so much fun to watch.
11/26 - Roman Holiday
(K) – No rating, but it should be 100% - Audrey Hepburn's first movie and she's just perfect as the escaped princess playing hooky for the day. Gregory Peck is so handsome and suave, and in the end, perfect. Another one that you must see, if you never have.
I haven't watched any movies this week, because I've been busy watching my SG-1 DVDs. I got into the second season yesterday. It's so nice to see them in order, as opposed all haphazard-like on Sci-Fi. If I hadn't asked for an MP3 player for Christmas, I'd have the next few seasons on my list. *sigh* I hate my obsessions!
Have a great weekend all!