Kathleen
Continuing with my superhero obsession I watched Daredevil, a visually gorgeous and superb adaptation of one my favorite and first beloved superheroes, rich in colors with a recurring theme of red. Rex Smith's sensitive and ninja take on the role will always be my favorite but Ben Affleck did a brilliant job as Matt, capturing the subtle nuances and inner struggles of the character. The story was more tragic and thought-provoking than most of the genre, and I loved the beauty of it, like how Matt can "see" with the rain, how he watches people's hearts, and the contrasting imagery of the church vs. his devil costume and darker side of his personality. I was surprised but a little glad that the film didn't take an easy way out and bring Electra back to life, even as sad as it made the ending. After that I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine and it was stunning, an awesome and quite in character exploration of Logan's tragic past. I loved his early backstory with the idea of him going from one war to the next along with the ill-fated relationship with his half brother, even if I'm not quite sure how his brother fits with the same character in the first film. The idea of Wolverine having claws before the experiment was fascinating and unexpected to me, but I loved the idea as well as how he used his steel claws to free all the mutants on the island. I teared up at the brief inclusion of Xavier, as well as little!Scott and his first set of sunglasses. After that was X-Men First Class, and I loved seeing the beginning of everything. James McAvoy made a perfect Xavier, capturing the deep caring of the later version while including a uniquely youthful spirit, and for the first time I felt for Mystique - or Raven here - as well as the tragedy of what will become of her, even as shocked as I was that she choose Magneto over Charles in the end. Her early friendship with Charles was sweet, though, and surprising since I wasn't expecting it. Charles becoming paralyzed was incredibly haunting, as was his friendship with Erik and how he tries so hard to prevent Erik from turning evil. I loved the other characters, too, especially Sean/Banshee and his fascinating and fun gift.

I finally got to see The Man From the 25th Century, an Irwin Allen pilot that sadly never got picked up for a series but had a fascinating premise and awesome cast. James Darren stars as a man taken as an infant and raised in a technically advanced but emotionally bankrupt alien world with the sole purpose of turning him into a destroyer of earth. His target is a top secret base - The Time Tunnel! which made me desperately want a crossover - but he gets a change of heart - evidenced at the beginning when he protests the killing of an alien - and winds up helping protect the base which sends the aliens toward earth to kill him before his information can be revealed to earth. Unfortunately his most intriguing skill - telekenesis - was only briefly explored, and we never get to see what sort of character he'd become in his further adventures of helping earth and fighting aliens. Still it was a fun show and rich ground for crossovers and ideas.

I finally watched I Dream Of Jeannie: Fifteen Years Later and it was a mix of the surprisingly good and very disappointing. Roger and Dr. Bellows, both played by the original actors, were flawless, effortlessly slipping back into character and providing the vast majority of the few laughs in an otherwise strangely serious reunion. Barbara Eden took a while to fall back into the role, and never quite captured the bubbly personality or even some parts of Jeannie II's scheming personality, but it was wonderful to see her in the role again, and her being older gave me ideas of whether Jeannie would have traded her immortality for a normal, more human existence with Tony. Despite ignoring the twin children implied in one of the episodes, T.J. was quite good and believable as a mixture of Tony and Jeannie. I loved him slowly discovering his genie powers across the show while still retaining the realistic behavior of an '80s teen. The weakest part of the show was Tony, a different actor who lacks both the talent to pull off the part as well as the chemistry Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden had. Still the plot had some fun moments - my favorite was the hilarious scene in which Jeannie accidentally blinks everyone's clothes off in a restaurant and Dr. Bellows, upon arriving, assumes it's the thing to do and starts taking off his suit, and the final plot was surprisingly poignant, despite my confusion over why she simply didn't blink Tony home or in a different direction. Still her trading Tony's memories of their life together in return for his life was haunting, and I loved the hopeful, adorable finale when she bumps into him again, magically fixes his tie, and walks away with him following her.

I'm watching season five of Merlin now, and wondering what happened to my beloved, silly little show. Merlin has, in his own words, "grown up", and it's heartbreaking to see how jaded and even callous he's become. Merlin was once my favorite, until Lancelot took his place, Arthur grew on me, and I adored Gaius, but up until this season I still had a fondness for him, even in fourth place. Now I find myself annoyed and angry at him most of the time, and saddened at what the writers did to him, turning him into a twisted, dangerous person who won't even give Mordred a chance and has no one to blame but himself when everything falls apart. Almost everything he does is only for Arthur, with no thought to anyone else, and he's more than willing to kill for him, all of which gives the series a desperate yet hopeless feeling as Merlin struggles against the prophecy of Arthur's encroaching death, Gwen worries, and Arthur runs headlong into one danger after another. There's a new and older Mordred this season, and despite my reservations Alexander Vlahos completely won me over. He still seems too old to convincingly play opposite Arthur and Merlin, but he's a superb match for little Asa Butterfield, complete with the same vividly blue eyes and a disconcerting smile that flashes on and off so quickly I almost miss it. Yet he's softer and more endearing than little!Mordred who always send chills up my spine, and despite the fact that I thought I'd never love any Mordred except Hans Matheson in The Mists Of Avalon, I love his take on the character. The writers did a somewhat better job shifting him from good to evil, but his complete acceptance - with only one brief scene of hesitation - of the girl's evil seemed out of character. Despite that the scene where he yelled and his magic threw down the door sent chills up my spine. Alexander Vlahos was incredible in the episode. Merlin's betrayal of Mordred shocked me, and showed how very much he's changed from the days when he saved Freya, an almost parallel to "The Drawing Of The Dark". Bradley James is still excellent as Arthur, proving himself a just and honorable king who cares deeply for all his people, and even goes as far as to spare the life of a woman sentenced to die for sorcery. As the creepy "Death Song Of Uther Pendragon" shows, Arthur is about as far as his father as it's possible to be, and all for the best. Strangely enough I found myself disliking Gwen this season, both for the completely evil and murderous enchanted Gwen in the mid-season story arc, as well as the almost harsh way she rules. Also the writers, despite some promising hints in past seasons, have completely failed to convince me of Arthur and Gwen's romance which seems more tepid by the episode. Arthur says he loves her, but they behave more like two people sharing a kingdom instead of friends or family, and hardly husband and wife. The knights are a little underused, but still the best part of the season, and even Gwaine who I dismissed as a replacement Lancelot has finally won me over. However Elyan's senseless death gives me one more reason to hate how the writers use, or rather misuse, the knights. Elyan never got much of a role or chance to shine, but I liked him, and it seems pointless and cruel to kill him off just so the writers can try to infuse some life into their Arthur/Gwen ship. The Round Table is gorgeous, though, exactly as I imagine it should be. My favorite episode of the season is the superb opener "Arthur's Bane" which manages to craft a perfect blend of gently funny moments with tragedy and strong character building, reintroducing Mordred and even giving a dash of humanity to Morgana's twisted and usually over the top personality. There's a gloomy feel cast across the whole season, marked with disturbing, almost gruesome concepts such as the tragic crippling of the little dragon Aithusa, and the relentless torture and cruelty inflicted on the characters, making five an anti-climatic and sad end to what began as a fun and clever twist on the legends, and I can't help thinking the writers lost their way or rushed to the end without giving enough time for the important part. It's supposed to be the Golden Age of Camelot but it only crumbles more and grows darker by the episode, and I can only shake my head at all the wasted potential if the writers had given more time to plotting and pacing the series instead of falling back on the tiring and nearly sickening trope of Morgana vs. Camelot with some enchanted object and much throwing of people up against walls and trees. The problem, I think, was rushing everything instead of giving the series time to grow and fill the shoes of the legends. The first two years were perfect, three still had promise, and even four had some excellent moments and even whole episodes. Five sadly doesn't measure up, and only the season's opener and finale held my interest. "The Diamond Of The Day" was very good...not perfect, but close, breathing a little life and nostalgia into the series. Merlin seemed more his old self, the inclusion of him trapped in the cave was cleverly done, and Arthur's last "for Camelot" put tears in my eyes. I've grown to love Arthur over five seasons, warming to him as he grew from a hated bully to a prince with a good heart and finally the once and future king, but I was prepared for the heartbreak. The battle was epic, far more than the usual scene which focuses entirely on Arthur and Mordred, exactly as Camlann should be. Mordred stabbing Arthur and killing him was quietly underplayed, and I couldn't help tearing up for both of them, especially when Mordred gives that last smile before he falls. Gwen putting the pieces together and realizing Merlin has magic was beautifully done, subtle yet perfectly acted, and Gwen finally seems to be the sweet and kind character she used to be. Surprisingly I found myself shipping Leon/Gwen, mostly because of the talk about their childhood and the way he looks at her. It's adorable and I like to think after Gwen had mourned for Arthur that she eventually grew to love Leon, too. Avalon was beautiful, and I got a thrill when it first appeared, one thing I'd been looking forward to in the finale. I loved the magic reveal, somewhat anti-climatic - I'd hoped for a full season of Arthur coming to terms with it and magic returning to Camelot - but it was moving, and superbly acted by both Colin Morgan and Bradley James. I loved how Arthur gradually gains respect for Merlin and all he's done, eventually accepting him and not wanting him to change. Percival had a slightly larger part than usual, which I enjoyed, but I hated that Gwaine had to die. If he had to die I wish it had at least been a noble death like Lancelot, instead of the senseless and horribly cruel death he got. I must say I've never been more grateful to the writers for killing a character as I was when Morgana died. Five seasons late, but still good. Arthur's death was heartbreaking, perfectly filmed and acted, and if I wasn't crying before that I would have broken down and sobbed when Freya's hand came out of the lake for Excalibur, not to mention Merlin - the real Merlin and not the cruel one that's been here most of the season - crying; I can never have dry eyes when Colin Morgan cries. I liked the open ending somewhat - leaving room for imagination and fanfiction - but was saddened by all that wasn't shown - Merlin returning to Gaius, Gwen's acceptance, Gwen's reign, Leon/Gwen, and so on. But immortal!Merlin was tragically beautiful...if only the series had shown Arthur's return in the future. To cheer myself up I watched a different Arthurian film, The Last Legion, a unique and fascinating spin on the legends. Thomas Brodie Sangster was superb as young Caesar Romulus Augustulus, a child caught between killers and a small but loyal band willing to die for him. I found Aurelius the most fascinating of all..at first glimpse he seems a cruel, hardened warrior, but his friendship and loyalty to the child quickly won me over, as did the tinge of sadness around him. Mira was quite interesting, too, both warrior and woman with a caring for Aurelius. And Ambrosinus(Merlin) being Uther's teacher as well as Arthur's was unusual and an intriguing thought. The film was beautifully done, too.

I've discovered another silent film actor to love: the wonderful, handsome, and talented Charles Farrell. I gave a try to the film Lucky Star and fell in love with it - and him - at the same time. He played such a sweet character that I couldn't help loving him, and Janet Gaynor was adorable as the girl he falls in love with, both making it a lovely film with a perfect ending. My favorite so far is the gorgeous 7th Heaven, a beautiful and poignant romance that made me smile and sob and love them both dearly. Chico and Diane's relationship was realistic and so lovely, and their "wedding" brought tears to my eyes, as did the incredible and moving ending. I'm also learning to love his films with other actresses, starting with City Girl, a movie with some beautiful scenery, lovely photography, and an adorable scene where he and his co-star run through the wheat field, pausing for him to pick her up and kiss her. He played a very sweet character, too, who was impossible not to love. After that I saw The River, a sadly fragmented film with part of it only able to be told through still photos and inter-titles, but still highly unusual and lovely. It's quote "The river, like love, cleanses all things" sums up the film in which the river stands as a character, much in the same way of Our Mutual Friend, washing away the past of one of the character and redeeming them through another, as well as a character nearly dying and surviving through love. While I wasn't as impressed by the actress, Charles Farrell did an excellent job with the role, a mix of awkward country boy and determined man who wins her over and breaks her out of her hard shell when he nearly freezes to death and she's nearly unable to save him. It had a happy ending, too, that part, like the beginning and two other scenes, lost and told only in a photograph. I wish they'd find a complete copy, but still the part that exists was well worth seeing, since I love his films. Last was Liliom, a delightfully non-musical version of the lovely musical Carousel, with Charles Farrell in the title role. It turned out to be a talkie, so for the first time I got to hear his voice. He didn't sound like I expected, but his voice grew on me and I loved his accent. He was great in the role, too, and I grinned ear to ear at the carnival scenes. Charles Farrell has a lovely, nearly frail vulnerability, and cute shyness about his acting, combined with a tendency to get whumped that is exactly what I love in acting and characters. And on a completely shallow note, he's very easy on the eyes, too. Catching up on my love of Shakespeare, I saw the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet and it was utterly gorgeous. Beautiful sets, lovely actors - Romeo especially - pretty dancing, and of course the glorious theme. I loved that it retained the original lines and setting, just a flawless film overall. After that I saw Flyboys, a gorgeous and sweepingly old-fashioned film about the men who fought in the skies of World War One. James Franco was wonderfully sweet as Blaine, and I adored his interactions with Lucienne and the children. Among other new films this week I saw the adorable Penelope and fell completely in love with it. James McAvoy was wonderful as Johnny, and stunning with those beautiful blue eyes. He had a perfect mix of sad sweetness and gentle humor, and my favorite scenes were the lovely ending in the park and the hilarious scene where he sings "You Are My Sunshine" out of key while attempting to play an assortment of instruments. Penelope was easy to like, too, and I loved that Penelope and Johnny got their happy ending. Then I saw the gorgeous and bittersweet fantasy The Odd Life Of Timothy Green which completely broke my heart and put it back together again. Timothy was adorable, and I loved how he touched each person and made them better. Next I watched Wrath of the Titans, the sequel to Clash Of The Titans, and surprisingly liked it even more than the first. Perseus, now a widower, has a young son, and finally Perseus/Andromeda became canon, much to my delight, even if I prefer the first actress who played her over this one. Hades finally got redemption in the end, and Zeus came across as a kinder and more loving god toward his son and grandson. Pegasus was back, too, just as beautiful as ever, and I found the plot easier to follow than the first. Next was The Crucible, a stunning, heartbreaking, and disturbing look at the motives of the Salem Witch Trials. Despite being somewhat fictionalized it was still a fascinating image of the events, both extremely well acted and directed, and incredibly powerful. By the end of it I loathed Abigail even more than I always have, since the film painted her as a scheming girl drunk on power and revenge, but the actress did a good job with a very difficult role. Little Betty, much more able to be pitied and sympathized with, was also quite good, and Daniel Day-Lewis did a superb job as John Proctor, one of the victims I've always had the most interest in. His scene of being accused as well as his moving final speech were stunning, tear-jerking, and should have won him an oscar. Joan Allen was also excellent as his caring wife, Elizabeth, and I sobbed at her final line. I happened to run across Daniel Day-Lewis again in my search for a good version of The Last Of The Mohicans, the 1992 version, and he had big shoes to fill as Hawkeye, since I love both the book and the tv series Hawkeye which remains my favorite version of the story. But he was excellent at the role, and as much as I adore Lee Horsley's more lighthearted and friendly approach to the role, Daniel Day-Lewis actually fit my image a little better - lighter and swifter on his feet, more woodman-ish, and a stronger, slightly rougher character while style having a kind and gentle tenderness beneath it all. Cora was also a great character, a strong match for Hawkeye, and I loved their relationship. The film seemed a little too short, but maybe that's just because I enjoyed it too much so it felt like it sped by, and Uncas wasn't shown as much as I would have liked but it was a beautifully filmed and acted adaptation, with the gorgeous backdrop of North Carolina against impressively accurate sets and costumes. Duncan's redemption was haunting, turning a character I disliked into one I admired in the ending. Alice was frail and lovely and I wish her hinted at romance with Uncas had been shown more, but still their tragic and earlier foreshadowed deaths broke my heart, as did the words of Chingachgook in the last scene. The theme was pretty, too, and familiar to me for some reason. On a shallow note, I also loved Hawkeye's hair...the tv version's got nothing on him there! I finally watched the film version of Highlander, and as I'd suspected from the pilot of the tv show, I quite enjoyed Christopher Lambert as Connor, a different, more world-weary, but still fascinating and easy to sympathize with hero. He's a unique, more unusual sort of handsome, too, with a little bit of Robert Lansing's eyes and forehead with an awful lot of Misha Collin's lower face and build thrown in. In fact, between his looks, expressions, and trenchcoat, I kept having flashes of some sort of awesome Supernatural crossover. But his looks make him appear more old-fashioned and non-1980s which helps make it more believeable. The flashback scene of him finding little Rachel and later, with her much older, were precious and made me wish for more scenes or fanfiction of him raising her. Likewise, the love story of Connor and Heather was heartbreakingly beautiful, against the song "Who Wants To Live Forever" that I've always had a weakness for, even though it makes me tear up. But the resolved, happy ending was perfect, exactly what I'd hoped for. In other new films this week I watched An Old-Fashioned Christmas, and despite the fact that it didn't measure up to the original, the very sweet An old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, it was still enjoyable, even if I kept wanting to shake some sense into both Tilly and her grandmother. Gad was still the same loveable character of the first film, and despite everything I felt a little sorry for Cameron. I wish he'd had some redemption in the end beyond his new-found ability to stand up to his mother, even as much as I appreciated that. His accent, despite attempting to be Irish, sounded a lot more English to me, no matter how hard he tried, which made me giggle everytime he spoke. I loved Tilly's grandfather, though, such a feisty and colorful character, and her relationship with him. I saw the cute fairytale Ever After, a perfect and beautiful version of Cinderella, and fell in love with it. The Prince had far more personality than he ever has, and I loved how headstrong and bold Danielle was, even saving him from the gypsies in a clever and hilarious way. Then I saw the underrated and fun The Last Airbender. The concept of bending the elements and fighting with them was original and fascinating, and I loved the characters, especially the believing and good-hearted Katara. Aang's tragedy of being alone in accepting his role as the avatar, and Yue's death were especially moving, and I felt for all the characters. Following that was The Indian In The Cupboard, a gentle and lovely adaptation of the book I loved as a kid. Little Bear and Boone were perfect, exactly as I imagined, and I loved the ending. Next was the fabulous Night At The Museum, a fest for a history and that sort of fantasy geek that I am and I loved every second of it and all the characters; followed by the even zanier and more hilarious Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian. I giggled through all the oldies songs, and loved the cupids, the octopus, and, of course, Jedediah and Octavius, even better than in the last film. After that was the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still and was happily surprised to discover as much as I enjoy the original, I actually loved this version more. Keanu Reeves was more believable as Klaatu, alien yet learning to be human, and I loved how he changed slowly and with the most subtle moments over the course of the film. Helen also had more personality, even if the sparks of a romance were stripped away, and little Jacob was adorable and an incredibly good actor. Also the plot was more coherent than in the original, with a better conclusion, and I loved the idea of the "arks". Next was the wrenching and poignant The Flowers Of War, a deeply moving character study of a diverse group of people in China during the midst of the Second-Sino Japanese War. The historical setting drew me to the film but I fell in love with the violent beauty of it, and the incredible acting from everyone, especially the always amazing Christian Bale. The ending, along with many other moments, made me cry, and I loved how vividly realistic everything seemed, from the small moments such as John hugging Shu to the Chinese soldier's sacrifice. After that was The Confession, the sequel to The Shunning, and in some ways, although I really enjoyed the first film, I liked this one even better. Surprisingly the cast changes all seemed to be equal or for the better, and the story was intriguing and touching. I loved seeing more of Daniel than simply flashbacks, and the last scene gave me hope for his and Katie's relationship. I don't mind Justin, though. I loved that Katie finally got to meet her mother in the end, if only for a little while, and the ending left me waiting patiently for the final film, hopefully coming soon. Next was the haunting and offbeat Desire Me with the surprisingly delightful pairing of two of my favorites, Greer Garson, who I've adored since seeing Mrs. Miniver as a small child, and Robert Mitchum. Next was the excellent Bend of the River with an excellent cast and final twist. Next was two childhood favorites Miracle On 34th Street and Meet Me In St. Louis, both of which I loved. Then was the poignant Goodbye Mr. Chips Which I loved as a child and hadn't seen in years. Next was the fabulous and hilarious Christmas in Connecticut which I adored. Last was the beautifully sad Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, the theme of which I've loved for years.

I watched the fascinating Peter Pan prequel Neverland which offers an intriguing and poignant backstory for Peter, Hook, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys. The boy who played Peter was quite good, impressing me despite not looking exactly how I imagined, the orb was an unusual and interesting addition, and I liked the explanation for the Indians and pirates being in Neverland. Tiger Lily was wonderful, given much more personality than in most versions, and I ended up surprisingly shipping Peter and her. The origins of Hook and Peter's hatred for each other was also a fascinating twist, and I liked the ending with the tied-in elements to Peter Pan including the watch being swallowed and Peter leaving his shadow behind in England.

I've been on a roll of animated films lately, starting with the flawless The Emperor's New Groove this week, definitely the most zany and hilarious animated film I've seen yet. I couldn't stop laughing, and I loved the colorful characters, especially the endearing Kronk. The animation was perfectly done, especially the llama, and I loved the slightly steampunk design of Yzma's lab and the lever that drops into an alligator pit. Following that was the sequel, Kronk's New Groove, nearly as hilarious and just as adorable as the first. I loved all the clever nods to older Disneys, as well as the "Gollum moment", and the cute Disco sequence. The ending was wonderful, and I loved how Kuzco inserted himself into the story, I only wish he'd been in the film more. Next I saw Atlantis: Milo's Return, the fun sequel to the wonderful and underrated Atlantis: The Lost Empire. While I missed the original Milo's voice, everyone else was the same, and the story, a series of three adventures, was a lot of fun. I loved the fairytale-like ending, too. Following that was the precious The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina, a completely adorable version of the stories with a different twist here and there. I loved Tom and Thumbelina's relationship, as well as the side characters like Albertine and the mice, and the lovely ending. Then I watched the beautifully animated The Rescuers, a gorgeous and adorable film with loveable characters, especially the darling little mouse heroes of the title. Last was the delightfully French and utterly precious Ratatouille which made me giggle and restored my faith in modern animated films with it's big heart and loveable characters, especially the too cute for words Remy. After that was The Hunchback Of Notre Dame II, and despite the fact that it didn't rival the original, I still enjoyed it. It was sweet, and lovely, and Quasimodo finally found someone to love and be loved by. I also liked that Phoebus and Esmeralda had a son, cute little Zephyr, and his friendship with Quasi was precious. Then I saw Atlantis The Lost Empire, a fun, steampunk-filled adventure that has to be one of the most underrated Disney films ever. It was beautifully done, though, a perfect blend of humor and action with a loveable and geeky hero in Milo.

I've been binge-watching Gomer Pyle USMC, a childhood favorite, and loving it. The Sgt. and Bunny are always a treat, and the guest stars are delightful.
 
 
feeling: sore
calliope tune: "Dream Weaver"-Gary Wright