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The New Ben-Hur Movie! (2016)

1de28b514ebabcff0c68016d911a1e05It’s been a very great wish of mine that some talented filmmakers would take it upon themselves to remake the story of Ben-Hur (based on the novel by Lew Wallace) into an epic blockbuster.  I’ve seen the old 1959 version but to be honest I’ve never enjoyed it.  It just feels too hokey to me, and Charlton Heston never looked convincing as Judah.  Ben-Hur was recently remade into a tv mini series within the last couple of years.  I’ve never felt tempted to watch it since I’ve read that it doesn’t do the book justice in its content.

So I was pretty excited to learn that the epic story would be refilmed yet again! I’ve been following the process throughout the last year or so and the other day I was super pumped to see the first release of its trailer!  (View below)

A couple of comments after having watching the clip:

-The quality and excitement warrants more of my interest!  Especially the scenes of the Roman ships of war.  Wow!!

-Great.  A sex scene.  [rolls eyes]  I sure hope it isn’t as bad as it looks.  Maybe it’s the evil Messala and not Judah & Esther.  I hope.

Why, oh why do these film versions never include Iras?  Her character adds a whole ‘nother dimension of interest to the story.  I mean, they could have tons of fun with her seductive quality.  Would the movie really suffer from another love interest?  But they always seem to erase her entirely, and this time is no exception.  Pooh.  I’m also seeing a missing Quintus Arrius.  Judah’s and his relationship are one of my favorite aspects of the book.

What are your thoughts on this upcoming movie?

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Inspiring Voices Series: Lana Parilla

fc77986970f087e4dcd331e09b65a15eI’ve been enjoying watching the tv series Once Upon a Time for a few years now.  Sure, there are parts of it that I find hokey, and I get upset at some of the choices characters make, but there’s also something about the show that keeps me coming back for more of the continuing story.  I think it’s because I see so many illustrations from the Bible in the characters.  Not one episode goes by that I can’t think of a principle or a verse or warning from the book of Proverbs that suits the theme.

One of my favorite characters on the series is Lana Parilla’s version of the Evil Queen (aka, Regina Mills). There are several reasons why I’m interested in her, but the one I will focus on here is because I absolutely love to listen to her voice.  Listen to the clip below and take note of any characteristics of her voice that strikes you:

What did you hear? Right away, you probably noticed her rich, alto voice.  It pairs perfectly with the character Parilla plays because as soon as she enters the room, the others are at her command.  Her voice contrasts with the others’ higher, breathier tones.  She is able to communicate sarcasm or threat at will with a low, light touch.  Lana can also sound sultry and dusky when she chooses.  She shows such command of her voice and it makes for an interesting performance!

How does how she make you feel when you listen? Maybe chilly?  The smile heard in her voice when she makes a threat gives one the impression she takes delight in being evil.  She is not an easy person to love, even as Regina transforms throughout the show.  I often picture porcupine quills stuck out all over her because of the pain you hear from her.

You also hear a lot of confidence and control in her voice. Part of what helps to make this happen is her confident body posture, because the voice is a physical thing coming from the body.  Her’s is well grounded in who she is.  We can all take a tip or two from her!

What are some tv characters you appreciate in large part because of their voice? I’d love to hear about them!

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2016 in Inspiring Voices Series

 

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Interview with “Unbroken” Author Laura Hillenbrand

d4e0b16c5b159627fcacd5b0ff91672eI’m super excited to see the movie “Unbroken” (based on the book by the same title) in theaters this December!  The story follows the life of Louis Zamperini, Olympic track athlete, turned airforce hero during WWII.  Interned in a Japanese POW camp for several years, Louis overcame many odds and lived to serve God with his life after the war.  Seriously, everyone from my pastor to my dentist has been reading this book (you can read my own book review here).  Recently on In the Market with Janet Parshall, Janet interviewed the author of this bestselling nonfiction book, Laura Hillenbrand.  You can click here or on the picture to listen to it.  Don’t miss this true-life amazing story!

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Interviews With Authors

 

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Does The Lord of the Rings Date Me?

f0d3601ee0f381a2e69f0bce7df27a94Am I the only one who feels like the original Lord of the Rings trilogy movies date me? I was only a young teenager when these movies first came out, so I just got to thinking recently that there are quite a few younger folks than me (I still consider myself as ‘young’!) that don’t remember them originally. They don’t remember life before them.

I remember seeing The Fellowship of the Ring in the theater for the first time. I was totally unfamiliar with the story and had no clue what it was about. I went with my younger cousins to see it. I remember it all on the big screen– unbelievable cinematography, overwhelming special effects, blaring sound, battle scenes I couldn’t stand to watch. I couldn’t follow the story, since we had arrived late and missed out on the first 15 min., and I kept confusing Aragorn with Boromir. There were the horrifying RingWraiths, the fiery Balrog (who I was convinced was the Devil incarnate), and an elf queen that morphed into something truly terrifying. But the thing that absolutely scared the tar out of me were the creatures known as Orcs. By the end of the movie, I was completely wide eyed and my hair was blown back. To top it all off, I had nightmares of a tentacled sea creature coming after me. I told my aunt that I didn’t see how any author could write such things and be a Christian!

82d768dd57d8830d86d4f052c20bc2e2Those were my first impressions of Middle Earth. Needless to say I get quite involved in a story! It also speaks to how sheltered I’d been when it comes to movies. My friends loved the movie and I eventually went on to read the books which enabled me to better understand everything. Watching the movies again at home on DVD wasn’t quite as intense as the movie theater, and each time we rewatched them the thrill factor dissipated. But that first time of seeing trolls and balrogs was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. My younger cousins (at the ages of 9 and 10) hadn’t been phased one bit by any of it, but then they’d grown up in a household more accustomed to movies of that nature. Sometimes I’m amazed at what younger and younger kids are acclimated to when it comes to entertainment as time goes on. I’m not necessarily saying that LOR is wrong for a certain age, as that’s up to each family. It’s just an observation and it’s interesting comparing my own experience to them.

I was having a conversation a while back with a young highschooler who said she refused to watch LOR “because of all the violent war,” yet her favorite movie genre was horror films. I still can’t figure that one out.

fe7359ed8031873ecc11a00c6ddd7914I think Peter Jackson’s movies forever changed movie making. They’re broader in scope, grander in detail. Even so, it’s funny to sometimes rewatch those films that are now 10 years old and see ways that they are technically outdated. I wondered then and I wonder now what the younger generation will say 15-20 years from now when they see it. I think the movies will always be classics, but I don’t think people will view them with complete awe like we did in the movie theater. Like Star Wars. We still love them, but the special effects aren’t that thrilling in this day and age. They were even remastered on the later DVD releases.

During the three year time the films came out, we lived in a Middle Earthian culture. All of us girls wanted to wear our hair long and romantic. My friend, who was quite the seamstress, designed her own LOR-inspired long, flowing dresses and wore them to church, and my friends’ younger brothers would practice their best creepy imitate of “Gol-lum!” And of course, we girls had multiple crushes on all the heroes.

f09fed866e83eb62152649ec8a376a02Tolkien wrote such a classic epic that will endure for a very long time because it is so interpretive and we can identify with many of the characters. LOR meant more to me later on when I watched the trilogy during depression. My grandpa hadn’t been impressed with the movies when he first saw them, either, but later he found some solace in them after Grandma died. There’s something about the story that speaks to us deep down inside, inspiring us to keep going when things get bleak.

It is well-known that J. R. R. Tolkien did not intend for his works to be allegories. But LOR came out at a time when America began it’s War on Terror. 9/11 had just taken place several months before. I think the movies were there at a time when the world needed stories like that. It was hard not to find our own interpretative symbolism for current events in them. They inspired us and gave us hope to fight for the right, even when there were those who claimed that it was too hard, not worth it, unnecessary. That we should turn a blind eye to evil and compromise with our enemies.

I’m glad that The Hobbit is now available for fans who missed out on the original LOR excitement 10 years ago.  Sometimes certain classic movies will become more than just entertainment. They become memories.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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On Controversy Over New Left Behind Movie

nic-cage-open-letter-sliderI don’t know about you, but I’m getting mighty tired of hearing fellow Christians shooting ourselves in the foot and producing embarrassing testimonies by being so harsh and critical of the new religious movies that have been coming out recently.  I remember there was an outcry from some folks who were planning on boycotting Prince Caspian when it came out because “it wasn’t word for word as the book.”  Other movies are deemed too hokey, or too casual, or too overly-dramatic, or too imaginative, or too imperfect to go see.  It can become a form of self-righteousness.  “I won’t go to see that film because I don’t agree with that actor’s personal life…”  Or whatever the case may be.

MovieGuide recently posted an article and an open letter to Nicholas Cage that I think is very good and worth reading.

The bad in Hollywood keeps getting worse.  But the door is swinging wider open all the time for much good news in the film industry, and for that I heartily applaud movie-makers who have a hand in it!  Keep it coming!  And fellow believers, we’ve waited too long for this opportunity of good, clean Christian art in the movie entertainment-world to be continually shutting down honest efforts.  Instead of legalism and small-mindedness, let’s get out there and make it even better!

“Left Behind” is based on the best selling book by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

 

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Book Review: All Creatures Great and Small

32086Genre: semi-autobiographical; humor; historical fiction

Plot Summary: James Herriot is a young vet fresh out of school and eager to find his place in the world.  He answers an ad for a veterinary assistant in the Yorkshire Dales, and consequently does become part of a different world—a place full of memorable characters, where pets and farm animals alike find a memorable place in his heart, just as their owners do; where farmers with Yorkshire dialect invite him in for a “bit o’ dinner”,  and where the lovely young daughter of one of the farmers soon captures more than his attention.  Audiobook excerpt read by Christopher Timothy.

Trivia: James Herriot is really the pen name of James Alfred Wight.  Visit the World of James Herriot official website here.

My Review:  I first heard of this series from my aunt, a farmer’s wife, who greatly encouraged me to read them, saying they were her favorite books of all time.  And if Aunt E. gave high praise for a certain book, you know there’s something to it!  But they really didn’t look that interesting to me.  I wondered how intrigued I could really get reading about calfing and tuberculin testing.

Then I watched the All Creatures Great and Small tv series that were filmed in the 1970’s, and I was sold!  There was something about each little animal story and character that drew you in and made you want more.  So I picked up the first in the series and settled down to read all about the adventures James Herriot, Siegfried and Tristan, and Tricki Woo.

Robert Hardy, Christopher Timothy and Peter Davison as Siegfried Farnon, James Herriot, and Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small. The dog is an overly pampered and often ill Pekinese named "Trickie Woo".I found the book just about as captivating as the show.  Some time had elapsed since I had seen it, so that the stories in the book were only vaguely familiar, and I never could quite remember how they had ended, so I didn’t feel that watching it first ruined anything for me.  I actually preferred being able to hear the Yorkshire dialect in my head as I read it, something I wouldn’t have been able to do if I hadn’t seen them.

If you look the book up on Amazon, there are over 200 reviews, and very few of them below 3 stars, so that is testament to the fact that they are well-loved!  There is something sweet and simple about it really.  Each dog, each cat, each cow or piglet had their own story, so that it didn’t get monotonous.  Besides, there were plenty of colorful characters to keep the story alive.  The thing that makes the book so humorous is the realistic people and situations.  Siegfried was so hilarious because he reminded me of a few people I know!  I could empathize with James because my dad was a farmer and knew some of the same predicaments (for example, it is an unwritten rule that cows choose to give birth on Sunday mornings right as it’s time to get ready for church).  Another thing I appreciated was that though it is about a veterinary surgeon, it doesn’t get bogged down with scientific names and facts.  I mean, you don’t feel as though you’re reading a college textbook.  The author gives the average reader just enough information to understand the medical situations, but doesn’t bore you with it.

However, I started to get antsy to finish it about halfway through the book.  I can’t say it was because it was boring.  Maybe it was because there was a lack of plot, and it was really just a collection of small, everyday adventures.  There is nothing wrong with that, and it was a joy to read, but I longed to get moving to some action-adventure.  I think it would have helped if there had been more adventures with Tristan in the book.  Thankfully, the romance with Helen moves the second half of the story along to the end.  In my opinion, it was the dates with Helen that were the most comedic.

Although this didn’t really bother me, be aware there is some language issues throughout.

Please don’t pass over this gem!  If you’re in the mood for something quiet and subtle, this certainly will hit the spot!  And then, don’t forget to try out the tv series—it isn’t everyday that a film version does a book credit, but I thought they did it remarkably well!

You can also watch the documentary about the making of the show (unless you hold to the opinion that getting behind-the-scenes spoils the mystery of it).

Someday I would also like to get ahold of the book, “The Real James Herriot: A Memoir of My Father,” by Jim Wight. 

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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(100th POST!:) Article on Fantasy in the Movies

I can’t believe this is booklearned’s 100th post!  Mar. 17 will be our one year anniversary!

I came across an article online entitled Forever Fantasy: The Involvement of the Fantasy Film Genre in the Reception of the Bible which I found quite interesting and wanted to pass along to all of you.  Seeing as how the Oscars were last weekend, the new Hobbit movie came out recently, etc., I thought it was apropos.  Most interesting is the chart near the en of the article which shows the dramatic increase in movies being produced that include positive morals and biblical content.  Way to go cinematic world!  We could all use some uplifting news!!

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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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