Movies · One of My Favorites

One of My Favorite Films: ‘Gladiator’

Rome, in one form or other, has been a part of my life for the better part of thirty years now. I consciously began my appreciation of Rome via the computer game Caesar III. That came about because of a version that arrived already loaded on a new computer. I still play it.

Later, in 2000, I finally got a chance to see a couple of films I’d heard about in actual theaters. While I enjoyed ‘Fantasia 2000’, it was ‘Gladiator’ that captured – and held – my attention.

Side Note

I need to step aside here for a moment to let you know that when something “captures my attention” it usually leads to an obsession that can last for years, involves lots (and lots) of research, and becomes a part of the fabric of my life in some way.

Now where were we? Oh, yes.

I’ve had a life-long fascination with the mechanics of creating film, theater, TV, and other forms of entertainment. It truly is an art form that can evolve to fit the need at the time. Ridley Scott makes amazing movies. The film is the result of years of experience tied with high tech graphics, top of the line performances, and a story that is both compelling and thought provoking. Not to mention a soundtrack that is one of Han Zimmer’s best.

The Story

In a nutshell, ‘Gladiator’ is the story of a Roman General, Maximus, who is at the top of his game. He is chosen by the current emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, to succeed him. Something Maximus doesn’t want and Marcus’ son Commodus, definitely does not want.

Commodus is so adamant that Maximus does not replace him, he murders his father and, when he takes the role of emperor and Maximus walks out on him instead of vowing loyalty, has Maximus’ family murdered and the general sent off into slavery.

What happens next is one of the best epic stories of the last 20 years. If you haven’t seen it,

You can find out more about the film by clicking here.

Rome was the first city to hold 1 million people. Ever.

To get a better idea of what Rome was and the impact it had on the world, check out this article from the Britannica: Click HERE

The idea of Rome, just like the idea of Greece, has been a part of most of our society and culture for millennia. These cultures have informed many of the choices and decisions made when we developed our own societies and cultures.

There is a lot of learn, absorb, integrate as we watch ‘Gladiator’. The film is one of those rare gems that allow us to glimpse a lost world and recall a time when things were very different, and very modern, to the world we live in.

At the end of the day, ‘Gladiator’ is a film that resonates on many levels and is worth taking the time to watch.

Books · Movies

Artemis Fowl

I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that the Artemis Fowl book series, written by Eoin Colfer, is 20 years old. Frankly, it just doesn’t seem possible. And yet…

The books, aimed at a Young Adult audience, brought together mythical creatures and Humans in a way that we hadn’t really seen before. Not, at least, in the same way. Artemis is not your typical youngster. And that is the ultimate understatement.

If you are interested check out Eoin Colfer’s website: https://www.eoincolfer.com/artemis-fowl

I haven’t yet caught up with the later additions to the family saga; the Fowl Twins books, but I’ll be sure to add them to my list.

From Book to Film

I’d like to say I learned a valuable lesson with the Harry Potter books and films. That is, do not – Repeat: DO NOT – expect the film to be as detailed or intricate as the books.

I’m thinking it was around film 5 that the lesson might finally have become ingrained. But I could be in error there.

Lovers of books that are made into movies or TV shows run the not uncommon risk (?) of being disappointed. Why? Simple. Time. There simply is not enough time to take the book word by word and move it into a film medium.

It might sound simple and easy but the end result just can’t justify any part of that exercise. The time and cost to actually produce the filmed product would exceed every expectation and the end result would be a disaster. The first book in the Fowl series is not that long and the resulting film, with the necessary edits, etc., still resulted in a film under two hours. Most audiences won’t want to sit through a longer film

So, do not expect the book to be the film. In fact, one thing that helped me with the Potter films was to not read the book close to the time I watched the film. I gave my brain time to ‘forget’ things so when I watched the film, it was fresh and relatively new.

The Film

First, can I just say how amazing Judi Dench is? I never, ever sit down to watch her work and am not amazed at the end result.

Second, the casting of this film is amazing. I really, really, enjoyed each and every character – the performers brought so much to the table with their efforts.

Third, Kenneth Branagh has shown a level of skill, of deftness of touch, with this film. He kept the target audience (kids) in mind every second of the way, so the audience wasn’t overloaded with graphic monsters, dark and dank settings.

In short, he wasn’t playing to adults with the standard blow things up, excess violence, not to mention graphic gore with the plot secondary to all the special effects. From some of the reviews I’ve read, this seems to have confused folks a lot. <shrug>

Granted, he could have treated us to every second of Artemis searching for the language to unlock the query to find the … … … you get the idea. The film would have gone from under two hours to over three for that alone.

The film actually gives us every piece of information we need to understand what is happening in the story. Yes, a little more information about how certain things do, or don’t, work might have been helpful, Especially if the viewer isn’t a student of myth lore.

Overall, I liked the end result. It was just the right balance of material. It has a beautiful design and the soundtrack is delicious.

Since I am one who might end up nodding off or foraging when a film loses my attention, this was a pleasant change. No pauses. No napping. No foraging.

Final Thoughts

I recommend both the books and the film. I encourage you to remember to leave some space/time between the books and the film, but both are worth your time and attention. Don’t embark with any preconceived ideas, however. Let the story unfold as written.

Enjoy!

Movies

Knives Out!

I finally sat down to catch up (!) with my Watchlist and saw “Knives Out!”.

Boy! Was that a good choice!

If you are looking for a well-paced mystery with lots of twists and turns, this is it. If you love a great cast with a solid script and some seriously good production values, this is it.

Nothing is quite what it seems and the finale is quite… Yeah! LOL!

Cord Cutting · Media · Movies · TV

Keeping Up With…Everything

I don’t know about you, but lately I seem to be more behind in my viewing than ever before. This is astounding to me as I once had two (yes, 2) VCRs set to program a full 12 hours each week.

I no longer use my VCR or my DVR, and I do have a streaming service or two, so I can catch up if I want to. But do I?

I’m also the one who, in case you are new to the blog, set up a yearly Media Calendar specifically geared to keep up with shows I want to watch. This is usually done around 9/1 in time for the new Fall Season to arrive.

It is, therefore, a touch odd for me to note that there are items on the calendar that I have yet to actually watch. I might have caught the season premiere and enjoyed it, but weekly?

Star Trek: Picard just arrived and I am thrilled. It drops on CBS All Access on Thursdays, but I seem to be watching it on Saturday evening. Why? Well, with the first episode I wanted to not get caught up in the online sturm and drang and just experience it and The Ready Room when I could focus on them with a clear head.

Murdoch Mysteries Season 13 recently began being released on AcornTV and drops an episode every Monday. I admit it has been a long wait in between seasons and I’m enjoying every single second of the new material. Even the creepy <shudder> Halloween episode.

As I managed to catch the October Grunge, I also managed to miss several episodes of NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles and NCIS New Orleans.

I am still a Gibbs Girl, but wasn’t all that excited by Ziva’s return. I don’t particularly care for Torres, either. This can create some issues when catching up.

I enjoy NCIS-NOLA, but the loss of LaSalle was a bit devastating and I haven’t seen the episodes surrounding that sad event. I’m not sure I’m ready to delve into Pride’s head at this point, either. Last season was rocky enough.

I’m glad to have the NCIS-LA team back (go Hetty!) and have managed to keep up with them more than the others. Go figure. Maybe it is the “old married couple” dynamic that is Sam and G, I’m not sure. Somehow it just seems comfortable.

And, yes, I get the irony of that, too. 🙂

I enjoyed God Friended Me a lot, but for whatever reason when the October thing hit, I got out of the rhythm of watching and now… Not sure.

I looked forward to, and enjoyed what I’ve seen of both Bob Hearts Abishola and Stumptown, but somehow they have been put on back burners, too.

I am eagerly awaiting the next (and last) season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Can’t come along soon enough.

All that being said, what am I watching, you ask?

I’ve been catching quite a few documentaries on British history along with several episodes of Escape to the Country and various cookery shows. British shows. Lots of British shows. I sense a theme here.

I really am enjoying the opportunity to explore Britain and learn more about the country. it isn’t just the vloggers I follow on YouTube, it is the other material that catches my interest.

A couple of years ago it was Australia care of their version of Better Homes and Gardens. I do manage to catch a couple of episodes of the Bondi Vet – we were introduced to Dr. Chris Brown on Saturday morning syndication on CBS.

Maybe it is latent wanderlust. I don’t know.

It isn’t just the regularly scheduled programming I’m not keeping up with as I used to. I have similar issues with a few of my YouTube regulars.

Justin Scarred is back to filming. Both he and Ally have been under the weather. Tim Trackers are also back now that baby Jackson has arrived and the new family is getting organized. Magic Journeys are also putting out new content – and I’m seeing where they are expanding beyond the usual Disney areas more and more. I’m thinking (and could be wrong) that they are getting more invitations to media events as their channel grows.

Me? I’m just not ready to repeat the usual runs and, to be honest, am not all that interested in another round of visits to the Star Wars Land attractions.

Yes, the theming is amazing and yes the rides are exciting, but somehow… once or twice or even three times was enough. I really would rather go and have a nice meal at the Blue Bayou or sit by the river and watch the ducks. The Florida parks are their usual wondrous things, but with all the construction … I’ll pass watching for now.

Maybe I need to find out what’s new on the Discover Wisconsin channel on Roku? I’ve enjoyed some seriously beautiful scenery and lots of interesting people.

The funny thing about having so many options is that at the end of the day, you can only keep up with a few and after a while you need a break. The nice thing about some of these options is that the viewer no longer has to wait for rerun season and hope that missed episodes will air.

Which reminds me What’s My Line from 1955 is available on Amazon. I’ve been enjoying that, too. Care to join me?

Media · Movies · Old Time Radio · TV

Holiday Entertainment

By now, you have probably been seeing the holiday specials and programming that have appeared on the TV.

Old Time Radio Shows

In our house, there is a semi-tradition in place where we indulge in a lot (!!!) of Old Time Radio holiday shows.

Radiooncemore.com is in the midst of its December Holiday Gift where they program 24/7 holiday shows from Old Time Radio. You have access to their line up via their website and through a variety of Internet radio players. I use TuneIn.

Check out their line up by going to Radiooncemore.com where you will find their schedule and links to listen.

Some of the other OTR stations I listen to are beginning to include holiday programming into their lineups. Bygolly OTR, Antioch OTR, Conyers Old Time Radio are some that I follow.

Movies and Television

I used to follow quite a few shows every season, but lately it hasn’t been easy to keep up.

Peanuts, The Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty, all are favorites. If you don’t already own them on DVD, you can often find them on the streaming platforms for various networks. Amazon seems to have quite an interesting collection of holiday specials and movies.

One thing I do look forward to each year is curling up with “The Muppets Christmas Carol”. Disney+ has included that along with several other holiday shows in their lineup.

Need Prep Ideas?

I have to admit I’m also hooked on some of the older holiday preparation shows that can be found on YouTube. Delia Smith has a multi part production about getting ready for an English Christmas. Entertaining With Beth and Domestic Geek have an impressive collection of videos focusing on easy holiday entertaining.

I’ve also been enjoying Hermione Chantal’s series on decorating and gift making. She is as creative as usual and many of her ideas could be kid friendly. 🙂

Whatever you choose to indulge in for holiday entertainment, don’t forget to pop some popcorn, make some cocoa and take some time to relax.

Media · Movies · TV

Downton Abbey

Wistful Thinking

As I write this, the new Downton Abbey movie will open in the United States on Friday, 9/20/2019.

I can’t help but feel a bit wistful. I watched the entire series when it appeared on PBS. I even occasionally delve into favorite episodes on Amazon.

The trials and tribulations of the Crawley family and their staff have been comfortable companions for many years, but it is the house that captivates me.

You see, at the very core of the series (and the film) is the house. The house was the whole reason for anyone to be there at all. It sustained those who lived within it and around it. The care and tending of such an amazing structure was the sole purpose of all.

As a person who lives in a country where homes simply haven’t existed more than 300 years (and I’m padding that because the country itself isn’t that old) I can’t wrap my head around a family home that goes back several hundred years.

I can’t explain it any more than others. There is something about the history, the architecture, the people that captivate and encourage attention.

In the meantime, I’ll ponder yet again the history of Downton and wonder what everyone has been up to. All while imagining taking tea in the garden with the flowers in bloom.

Like I said, wistful thinking. 🙂