I got a collection of old black and white movies from Goodwill and have been super excited to start watching them. I cannot say, however, that the first one was a total success!
The story follows a young woman who writes a book (“The Lady Says No!”) encouraging women to say no to men more often and value their own worth. No accepting cat calling! No accepting your husband dallying with other women!
But—the movie goes on to show—she really knows nothing about men. And you quickly learn she knows nothing about men when the flirtatious male lead shows up and charms her socks off with very little effort. She then realizes her advice to say no is more harmful than helpful and that really, women ought to say yes more. Wallah.
The main message of the movie was fairly cringe-worthy, which is a pity because it had some truly funny, memorable moments. I really like David Niven in My Man Godfrey and think he had some potential here.
I remember several petitions circling in 2015 among my friends to get Beyond the Mask into movie theaters when it first came out. I don’t remember if I signed it, but I sure hope I didn’t. This will not be a positive review.
Beyond the Mask is an “American Christian historical action-adventure film.” Or at least, that’s what Wikipedia says and I couldn’t describe it better. It follows William Reynold, a British East India Company assassin/mercenary who decides to turn honest when his old bosses try and kill him. When not involved in a fight to the death (which happen about every 30 seconds), he spends a lot of time mooning over the helpless blonde-haired, blue-eyed heroine. But just when you think the movie can’t get any slower…he moves to America and turns vigilante for the American colonists?
It is very clear that this movie was inspired by All Of The Favorite Home School Action Movies. Pirates of the Caribbean, Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, Lord of the Rings, probably Narnia, The Legend of Zorro, Romeo and Juliet, National Treasure, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, The Count of Monte Cristo…and so many more. It scrupulously follows the “arc of a good story”–from the young and handsome hero and his quest to redeem his honor, to the hapless heroine, the wise mentor (a very strange and Leprechaun-like Benjamin Franklin), the evil villain (who is so evil he apparently murders family members for fun.) And yet despite all this, the plot falls flat.
(For the record, Bethany says there is no good. But you know what they say–couch insults constructive criticism between compliments.)
The movie tries. I can understand why it generally went over well with Christian audiences. It is full of action and explosions and romance and yet remains squeaky clean. The actors do what they can with the roles they are given. (Bethany says, “No, the acting was not good. Only Gimli was good.” John Rhys-Davies–aka Gimli–plays the villain. So disclaimer there.) The costumes are…sometimes pretty. At least, I usually liked the heroine’s gowns. And…well, like I said. There is clearly a passion for good, swashbuckling stories here. And just because I don’t think it delivers on that passion doesn’t mean I can’t respect the attempt to bring it.
To be blunt, the very thing that probably brought Christian audiences in is what lost my sister and I. It is the problem of most Christian movies and books. Namely, it brings a sledgehammer to do a chisel’s job.
The hero’s conversion experience is the great climax of the movie. Which isn’t necessarily bad. But there is no subtlety about it. He misunderstands grace and love. Then someone reads him a lecture about grace (granted, it was the heroine and not a random pastoral character, so I guess that was good.) Suddenly, his motivation, his understanding, his life changes. He is empowered to change the world. It is a familiar, basic plot and allows for no subtly. You will not be allowed to miss the message about grace. They will say it…and say it again…and again in case you missed it. Honestly, it is not the worst part of the movie and it has been done much worse before but my sister and I rolled our eyes frequently.
This is also just a terribly plotted movie. Characters die for the hero and my sister and I kept going, “Wait! Who was that? Why did he do that? Why do we care?” The bad guys are cookie cutter villians without clear motivation. (Maybe greed?) The romance was insta-love and unbelievable. The transition to the American Revolutionary War was awkward. And it was all so, so historically inaccurate.
My sister refused to believe home schoolers directed this thing. “No home schooler would make such egregious mistakes!” she kept saying. (Alas, both directors were homeschooled according to their bios.) Instead of enjoying the climatic final action scene, we spent it Googling “When was rubber invented?” “When was wire invented?” “Where did bombs come from?”
Finally, the movie itself. We tried to grant it grace because of the budget (hopefully most of its 4 million dollar budget went to paying John Rhys-Davies because he deserves something for being in this movie.) But the green screen was awkwardly evident and frequently the background characters’ costumes are…odd. (At one point, the villain attends a party where all the background characters are wearing the same coat.)
This is yet another attempt to make a Christian movie that falls short…and I think most of the problem lies with the plot. (Bethany: “And everything else.”)
Me: Should I blog about the salmon I baked for dinner or the Justice Thomas documentary we watched last night?
Bethany: No offense to your cooking but the Justice Thomas documentary was way cooler.
Justice Thomas is easily my favorite living United States Supreme Court Justice. I got flack for it frequently in my Constitutional Law classes. I love his opinions. I love his demeanor on the court. But I didn’t know much about him as a person.
This documentary was fascinating and well-done. It focuses on Justice Thomas’s life before making it to the Supreme Court: his boyhood in the rural South, the impact of his grandfather on his life, how he nearly became a Catholic priest, his work in the White House, the accusations of Anita Hill during his confirmation hearing, and much more.
The two hour documentary compiles over 30 hours of interviews with Justice Thomas and his wife.
The documentary was originally intended for release in theaters around Christmas time but, accordingly to a friend of mine who worked behind the scenes of the film, several liberal groups (including Planned Parenthood) threatened to protest if it was released. Accordingly, most major movie theaters did not show it.
That fact is truly a shame. The documentary tackles a lot of hot button issues about race and what Justice Thomas went through to make it on the Supreme Court. We got a taste of it recently with the Kavanaugh hearings—and while Kavanaugh still hits close to home, Justice Thomas has had time to reflect and this documentary presents a glimpse of what he and his wife went through.
I highly recommend giving it a watch. This isn’t “red meat” for Justice Tomas fans. It is an unexpected look at a justice who is notorious for saying very little and yet his 30 odd years on the bench have left an indelible impression.
We were pretty excited but…disappointed with the result. It was beautifully costumed and occasionally goofy. But it lacks romance. There was no chemistry between Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma) and Johnny Flynn (Mr. Knightley). I found myself shipping Emma with Frank Churchill…and I hate Frank Churchill!
Also Mrs. Elton looked like she escaped from Whoville.
If you have followed this blog long at all, you will know I am a huge fan of the TV show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. So, you can guess at how excited I was when I heard they decided to make a movie. Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020) released on Acorn TV last month and I talked Bethany into watching it with me last night. It was…okay.
The adventure leaves behind Australia and occurs primarily in London and Palestine. Between rescuing damsels in distress and solving several murders, Miss Fisher uncovers hidden tombs, dodges ancient curses, and spends a considerable amount of time looking fabulous in the desert. The movie basically turns her into a female Indiana Jones. Though Dot and Aunt Prudence get their cameo moments, the only other character from the TV show with any amount of screen time is Chief Inspector Jack Robinson.
It is a fun, action packed movie and well-acted. Essie Davis (Miss Fisher) and Nathan Page (Jack Robinson) are always great and their natural chemistry shines despite quite a lot of unnecessarily plot angst. The costuming remains as fabulous as ever. And though several scenes tried way too hard to come across artsy, I thought even the filming did a good job.
The problem is really the plot. It is something of a mess. You don’t have time to think much about it while watching because every five minutes presents another action/chase/shooting/fighting scene. But it tries so hard to keep the viewer constantly entertained that it makes it hard to focus. And once you think you finally understand the mystery, someone starts shooting and Miss Fisher heads off to a different country on a rabbit trail that feels out of nowhere but apparently ties in somewhere.
And did anyone ever tell poor Dot that Miss Fisher didn’t actually die??
Overall, I would say if you enjoy the world of Miss Fisher, definitely give it a watch. And if you don’t but the idea of a female Indiana Jones intrigues you, also give it a try. I would absolutely watch more Miss Fisher movies if they came out. The ingredients are all there for something good…it just needs a more cohesive plot.
I saw Little Women yesterday in theaters with my Mom, Signe, and Bethany. Though I had my hesitations going in, I was was overall impressed with the movie.
It does a good job with the Little Women story. As an ardent fan of K Dramas and BBC mini-series, I definitely felt it could have used more development. I thought Meg’s story line in particular needed more development and that the actress who plays Amy had too deep a voice to play a young teenager. Laurie never aged and remained wishy-washy till the end. But overall, it was well done.
The movie touches on many of the iconic scenes from the book. But it mixes them up in new ways. It had lovely costuming. And more importantly, it contained several memorable scenes that I think beautifully added to the story. (Jo’s loneliness being a particularly poignant one.)
I certainly want to see it again and recommend watching it if you haven’t already. But if you did see it, what are your thoughts?
My Mom did not realize I was a Reylo shipper. My Mom now knows I am a Reylo shipper. My poor Mom.
The movie was great. I was highly pleased with this conclusion and how it pretends like the last movie never happened. Definitely recommend for those on the fence. I think there is much to dissect but I don’t want to give anything away!
Have you seen the trailer for the new Emma movie coming out in 2020?
I was skeptical when I first saw pictures for it but it looks like they’re going more comedy than romance and now I cannot wait to see it. Really curious to see how they do.
Speaking of trailers, I stumbled upon this short “clip” made about one of my favorite non-Heyer/Austen Regency novels, Mr. Malcolm’s List. I do hope they make it into a full movie someday. Or at least give us a Part 2.
I am super late to the party but let me just echo all the reviews I’ve seen elsewhere and say…Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was an awesome movie.
It was interesting. It was funny. It blended humor and action in a way that didn’t feel at odds. It had cool animation. There was a great lesson at the end. It left me wanting more while simultaneously wrapping everything up enough to be satisfying.
I won’t lie, I was skeptical about the hype. But there is a reason for it.