Kathleen
Catching Fire was stunning, everything I'd hoped for and more, transforming my least favorite book of the trilogy into a film I loved even more than the first. It was extremely faithful, too, retaining all the scenes I liked while still being a gorgeous film, even if the action felt more visceral than the last film. The costumes were beautiful, especially Katniss's mockingjay dress, the arena was impressive, and everything seemed more vivid and realistic than before. The rebellion scenes were done extremely well, disturbing enough to be affective, and I couldn't help crying during the part when Katniss talks to Thresh's and Rue's families. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing. I was very unhappy with the casting choice, did my best to tolerate her for most of the first film, but she's finally won me over, turning in a performance that gave me chills, most so in the final scene as well as the part where she shoots the arrow into the sky's force field. Peeta was wonderful, still my forever favorite, quietly loving Katniss from a distance and trying to save her at any cost. I teared up during the scene where he holds the morphling girl as she dies and distracts her by getting her to look at the sunrise. Despite the amount of Gale/Katniss moments, there were so many moments of Peeta/Katniss. I loved Katniss and Peeta's scene on the beach, the pearl scene, and the part on the train where they talk about their favorite colors. Peeta's locket hit me the hardest, though, because as much as he loves Katniss he included Gale. Everyone, especially Effie got more depth in this film, and I choked up when she actually cried about Peeta and Katniss going back in the arena, as well as the scene where she was trying to unite the team. I've grown to love movie Haymitch in a way I never bonded with the book character, and I loved his anger at the capitol when they announce the Quarter Quell as well as him standing up to the Peacekeepers. Cinna's death was as horrific as I'd imagined. He was always one of my favorites and it hurt to see it happen, even though I was prepared for it. Mags was lovely, as tragic as little Rue, but so courageous, and both Wiress and Beetee were fascinating. My only disappointment was the lack of Gloss and Cashmere. They're my favorite one book characters, and I ship them to pieces, but they sadly had no character development, hardly any screen time, and a single line between the two of them. President Snow's granddaughter was surprisingly delightful, quite unlike her grandfather and such a little Peeta/Katniss shipper! Joanna surprised me the most. She was my least favorite character in the series, and while she's still loud-mouthed and even annoying the flashes of humanity, especially the scene where she urges Katniss to "make them pay" made me see her in a different, much better light. Finnick, too, who I always found annoying and unnecessary, was much better than I'd expected, and while he still isn't my favorite I appreciate him a lot more now. The actor wouldn't have been my choice but he impressed me, especially during Mag's death and his face as he watches Katniss after he saved Peeta. I was so glad the force field/CPR scene was left in after they cut out most of the whump from the last film - I can't help it, I need my guilty pleasure. While I have a lot of issues with Gale I thought the actor did a good job with the role, actually getting to do something this film, and I liked, in a way, that Gale's whipping was the result of trying to save someone instead of just stealing. Prim was wonderful, so much more grown up and yet still so innocent, and she made my heart ache as much as in the last film. The ending was as painful as I'd dreaded - I barely survived the wait between the Catching Fire and Mockingjay books - but I adored how the pin turned into the mockingjay at the end.

I've been working my way through Christian Bale's films, starting with the stunning Reign Of Fire. Christian Bale was incredible as Quinn, reducing me to tears during the scene where his friend gets killed, and making me smile during his adorable moments play-acting for the children. I loved his relationships with Alex and Jared, and that the three got their happy ending, although I was saddened by Creedy's death; I loved him and his beautiful Scottish accent. The scenery of dystopian England was amazing, and there were so many moments I loved. Next was the true story Rescue Dawn. Christian Bale, as expected, was stunning and everything about the film was stunningly authentic to the point of being painful and difficult to watch while also being an inspiring story of survival. Next was Terminator Salvation and despite not knowing the prior films I became fascinated by the dark and strange world of it. Marcus was a haunting character, deeply tragic and ultimately human, and the significance of him giving his heart - his most human part - in sacrifice to save John's life was poignant. I teared up when little Star took his hand. Kyle, too, was a fascinating character. Next was Captain Corelli's Mandolin, an intriguing and beautiful love story against some unfamiliar history which caught my interest. The twists and turns in the plot were excellent, the ending lovely but sad, and I liked Antonio, but I still wish Pelagia had chosen Mandras. Christian Bale was wonderful as Mandras, a gentle and ultimately deeply selfless character. After that was the stunning Equilibrium which was both thought-provoking and fascinating, with a richly detailed futuristic world. I loved Christian Bale's role - and whoa, what an acting job - as Preston slowly learns to feel. The scene where he listens to the music was incredibly touching, and I teared up when he breaks down after failing to save Mary. The ending was perfect, the right balance of hope and loss.

In other new films I saw the stunning The Island, a fast-paced dystopian story with Ewan McGregor doing a superb job as the somewhat innocent and yet heroic Lincoln. I loved the concept and plot, as well as the surprisingly happy ending. Next was Moulin Rouge, a gorgeous and heartbreaking musical. Ewan McGregor was fabulous as the idealistic, tragic Christian; I'm truly learning to appreciate his roles, and I adored the love story as well as the riches colors and sets of the film. The songs were lovely, too, as was the dancing, and the ending reduced me to tears. After that was the live-action '90s adaptation of The Jungle Book, a lovely and wonderful version. I loved Mowgli, especially his friendships with the animals and him learning human ways, and the happy ending as well as the filming was beautiful. Next was Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, the next film in the series and as much a treat as the first one. I adored Tyson, such a sweet character, and was so glad to see him survive and be accepted by the others. Percy's skills with water were as impressive as ever, and the friendship between the half-bloods and Grover was lovely. As in the last film the re-imagining of myths was cleverly done - I especially loved the chariot and Hermes running a Fed-Ex store - with plenty of heroics and amusing moments. Then was the bizarre Inception with it's richly detailed world and complex plot which fascinated me. Leonard DiCaprio was excellent as Dom and I loved the recurring theme of the spinning top as well as the open, yet happy final scene. Next was the whimsical Big Fish. Ewan McGregor was charming in as Edward, the settings and characters were lovely, and the bittersweet ending was perfect. After that was the amusing and often hilarious spoof Austenland. I giggled at the in-jokes and loved most of the over-the-top characters. Next was 2000's Arabian Nights, a fascinating and beautifully done adaptation with magical characters and a richly detailed world. I especially loved the "Three Brothers" story, as well as the story within a story within a story format but it was all amazing. Next was the visually gorgeous The Illusionist, an unusual and fascinating peek into the magical world of a stage magician during the turn of the century. The historical accuracy was impressive, the ending was jaw-dropping, and I loved how beautiful everything was. After that was the haunting The Book Thief, a gorgeous and slow-moving WWII drama. I fell in love with the characters, especially Max and Liesel and was so glad to see them both survive and reunite..I found myself shipping them as the story went on. Having Death as the narrator added a poignant feel to the story, and the ending was beautiful. Next was the gorgeously filmed and unusual Oblivion. Jack - all of them - fascinated me, as did his poignant retained and shared memories and ultimate sacrifice. The ending was beautiful and hopeful. Then was the surprisingly good Real Steel. I was expecting little and instead fell in love with the story and characters, even choking up at the end when Charlie hugged Max. Their relationship, as well as Charlie and Bailey's were beautiful, and I loved Atom. Charlie was a wonderful mixture of gruff and gentle, and it ended up being one of my very favorite of Hugh Jackman's roles. Next was Ender's Game, a haunting and visually stunning film with a stunning, poignant ending. I sobbed when the alien wiped away Ender's tears, and during the bittersweet ending, and I loved Ender's closeness with his sister and team. After that was the adorable Kate & Leopold. Hugh Jackman was adorable and quite dreamy as the time traveler, and I loved the romance, as well as the other characters. Next was The Alamo, a moving account of the history. Juan Seguin was a fascinating character, and I loved the poignancy of the events as well as the beautiful filming. I tried the 2013 version of Romeo and Juliet which was a mixture of lovely and disappointing. The score and filming was gorgeous, and the added moments such as a glimpse of what a happy ending would have been like or the final scene when their hands are placed together were hauntingly poignant. Benvolio was precious and Tybalt and Mercutio were the best versions I've seen. Douglas Booth was surprisingly good as Romeo, despite a weak start, fusing emotion and passion into the role and excelling best in his scenes away from Juliet such as the part where he learns of her death. The beginning of the film felt rushed, with not enough time given to learn the characters or be invested in them, and Romeo and Juliet's relationship was far too fast. Hailee Steinfeld, sadly, was the worst part of the film, rushing and barely forming her lines, and emotionally flat in nearly every scene, and I couldn't care about her character in the least. After that was the haunting The Help, a poignant and deeply moving look at a tough issue, with stunning acting and beautiful period detail. Next I saw Nanny McPhee and it's sequel Nanny McPhee Returns which I ended up loving more than the first. The first was very cute, though, and I loved the happy ending and the lovely wedding, especially the snowy wedding dress. The sequel was perfect, though, with it's wonderful WWII setting, gentle humor, loveable characters, and an unexpected and poignant final tie-in to the first film. The children were quite talented, and despite him having only a tiny role I adored Ewan McGregor as their father. The final scene made me tear up, as did the part where Norman and Cyril visit Cyril's father. Then was The Impossible, a gorgeous and beautifully filmed true story which made me sob and fall in love with the family and their closeness as they went through their ordeal. I'm starting to adore Ewan McGregor and he, like the rest of the cast, did a stunning job. Next was Cowboys & Aliens a fun smash-up of two genres that managed to pack in some poignant moments and a touch of steampunk. Jake was a unique mix of violent anti-hero and gentleness, and I loved following his journey. Then was Valkyrie, an excellent and poignant true story.The period details were impressive, even if I wished the cast had German accents, and Tom Cruise even resembled the real man quite a bit. The final scene telling the history was very moving. Next was the lovely Under the Greenwood Tree with a lovely cast and sweet romance and setting. Then was The Secret of Roan Inish, one of the first movies I ever saw and my introduction to selkies. I appreciate it so much more as an adult, and its so beautiful and unique. Next was the strange but gorgeous film The Piano. I adored the theme and imagery and the ending was beautiful. Next was the tragic but gripping Agora which fascinated and moved me. Then was the lovely and strange Ondine. Colin Farrell was excellent as always and I loved the fairytale feel.

I've been working my way through the Hornblower films and they're amazing, everything I didn't know I wanted with sailors and ships and gorgeous period detail. The characters are all fascinating, the world richly filled, and everything is so beautiful it's a treat. I love Horatio; he's fabulous, both hot-tempered and kind at heart. Archie is also lovely, such a sweet, tragic character, and I love his friendship with Horatio. As I expected "Retribution" destroyed me emotionally. I adored Archie, and his death was heartbreaking, more so in that he died giving up his good name, the only thing he had left, to save Horatio, and no one can ever know. The way his death was shown with him vanishing was poignantly beautiful and haunting. I was glad Bush survived his injuries, though. Sadly, though, Horatio becomes a much harder character without Archie's sweet spirit to temper him, and I miss the optimistic young sailor I loved so much in the early films. Maria is a sweet character, though, and I wish they'd continued the films to show Horatio as a father and hopefully learning to love Maria.

I'm working my way through Band Of Brothers and the authenticity is impressive to the point of being painful to watch, especially with it's raw mix of horror and beauty. My favorite character is Eugene Roe, a sad and easy to love medic, and I adore his soft Cajun accent. I also really like Winters and his friendship with Nixon.

I saw the short film Heartless, a backstory for the Tin Man of Oz and was impressed by it's faithfulness and poignancy. I loved the more steampunk look of the Tin Man, leaving the human eyes, and the ending where he's humming the song while rusted in place was heartbreaking.

I'm watching the fifth and final season of Stargate Atlantis, a show I'm going to miss terribly, and despite some changes it's as excellent as always. The replicators storyline as well as Elizabeth's character mercifully finally end with an episode that almost manages to make me feel sorry for her. I think the new actress helps considerably. Instead the focus transfers and continues with Teyla and her son against Michael's ever-horrific experiments. I'm still not sold on the baby storyline, which felt forced, rushed, and out of character, something that could have been greatly improved if the baby's father had been introduced before the storyline, since I don't really mind him although I don't know anything about him, or better yet, making the father one of the regular characters. I gave a little shriek when Elizabeth questioned whether Sheppard could be the father, and with Teyla giving him the middle name of John I'd love to see someone do an AU of it. But, anyway, everyone, especially Sheppard and McKay are adorable with the baby, and I loved that Sheppard was able to somewhat make his peace over the people he's lost by managing to save Teyla and the baby, even so badly injured. Like Sheppard, McKay gets even more depth, and it stuns me to look back and see how much I disliked the egotistical character I first met in episode one compared to how much I love him now, giggling when he talks or complains, and tearing up when he gets hurt. "The Shrine" was an amazing acting job for David Hewlett, too, filled with h/c and some deeply poignant moments between the whole team. Samantha has sadly been removed from command, appearing only in the pilot, to be replaced with Woolsey, and while far from my favorite, he's not as bad as I'd feared and even occasionally shows a human, even amusing side. To my delight, Carson is cured and awake, appearing in several episodes, and clone or not, it warms my heart to hear that lovely Scottish accent again and watch him saving lives, even making it more bearable to tolerate Jennifer. I'm definitely not enjoying the McKay/Jennifer shipping of the season, though, even if it's nice to see McKay happy. I'm glad, after all that happened to the first Carson, that this one got a hopeful, even happy ending. "The Daedalus Variations" is an intriguing concept with a hilarious moment when Sheppard highly praises his alternate reality self. Other excellent episodes include the painful but incredible "Broken Ties" in which Ronon is captured and tortured by the wraith into an addiction to the enzyme. Watching him go through withdrawal put a lump in my throat, but I loved how the team stuck by him and got him through. "Tracker" forms an intriguing bookend to Ronon's story as another runner, this one traveling with a little girl, kidnaps Jennifer to treat the sick child. I liked the concept that runner's trackers had become more advanced since Ronon, as well as the poignant open ending - I like to think he got away from the wraith. Carson turned back up in "Outsiders", a nice closure to the Hoffa drug storyline, and I loved him going all action hero. It was nice to see McKay and he finally get that day off together, too, and it made me so happy to see him again, being all adorable with the village children. "The Prodigal" finalizes Michael's storyline, ending with his death at Teyla's hand, a dark but somehow fitting close for a tragic but evil character. "Remnants" is another strange episode but one that gives an interesting look at Sheppard's fears. The season's best is the stunning "Vegas", an unusually filmed story set in a parallel world. Parallel!Sheppard is fascinating, and so many moments, from the wraith passing as human to McKay discussing the little details that changed this Sheppard's life from the Atlantis one's gave me chills. The ending was haunting and poignant, with the song indicating Sheppard's character as he dies. "Enemy At The Gate" was a fitting finale, tying up the remaining threads to close out the stories of each person. Carson was back, although in a minor role, as was Sam. I didn't care for the handling of Todd's character, usually so sympathetic, as well as Sheppard's treatment of him, and the plot was somewhat rushed and filled, lacking in many more human moments, but the ending made it all worth while as Atlantis returns to earth, bringing the team home and leaving them looking at the Golden Gate Bridge. Ronon's death was shocking and horrible, but thankfully he's brought back to life - a shame the implications weren't explored more later - and I love everything about the scene from Teyla's and McKay's grief to Sheppard going back for him to find him alive; I found it a fascinating insight into Sheppard's character how, even being told Ronon is dead, he still goes back for him as if he won't believe it until he sees it or he's just that determined to not leave someone behind. Also Jason Momoa's acting was beyond incredible.

I've discovered and started watching the adorable '90s series Little Men which is happily set as something of a sequel rather than a remake of the film which I love, and while the Professor's death saddens me I love Nick and the color he brings to the show with his sea-faring past. The kids are all quite talented and appealing, especially Dan, Nan, and Nat, and little Rob is precious. Laurie, Meg, and Amy all make appearances and seem very much in character and believable as older versions. I also like this Jo, a perfect mix of motherly love and spirit who has a bit of June Allyson's Jo about her, and the old Canadian feel of the episodes is heartwarming. I also ship Nick and Jo and love the direction their relationship is slowly going.

I'm on the eighth and final season of Wagon Train and it's back to the comfortable black & white, hour long format of the early years while still retaining all the cast except for Duke. Bill is oddly out of character and even cruel at times but Coop is as wonderful as always, and Wooster happily gets more storylines. Barnaby is almost all grown up now, serving as co-scout, wearing a gun, and courting girls, and while I miss the adorable little boy of before I love seeing him as an adult. Excellent episodes include the hauntingly sad "John Gillman Story" with Bobby Darin in a touching role, the multi-storyline "Those Who Stay Behind", the somewhat dark "Echo Pass Story" in which Coop talks a woman into murdering a man - an evil guy but still a little creepy. I loved Coop's friendship with Wooster and the relief on his face at the end when he discovers he's alive, and the lovely "Miss Mary Lee McIntosh Story". Much of the season has an unusual supernatural obsession featuring ghosts, vampire bats, and a girl who can see the future in the quite good "Wanda Snow Story". "Betsy Blee Smith Story" is an amusing and often hilarious misadventure as Coop finds himself posing as a girl's husband, as well as being adorable with a baby. There's also the lovely "Katy Piper Story" with one of the sweetest one-shot characters in Katy, as well as an intriguing bit of character growth for Barnaby. The season's best is the haunting "The Indian Girl Story" which poses moral questions and few answers within it's tragic tale, as well as providing another chance for Barnaby to shine.

Onto season three of Once Upon A Time and I'm already sick of Neverland while it's Peter Pan mythos makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Pan is creepy and annoying, Tinkerbell gives me a pain most of the time even if she does manage to redeem herself in some slightly shippy scenes with Killian, and the constant gripping makes me want to kill off half the characters en masse. Thankfully there is a few saving graces as Rumplestiltskin's tragic story continues to unfold, and Robin Hood is back, the second actor but still good. I loved Roland and how adorable daddy!Robin Hood was, even if the man with the lion mark storyline is odd. Bae annoys me most of the time, and I can't accept him as the same person as the adorable little child of season one. On the bright side Killian Jones, minus the ghastly Emma romance subplot - she's my least favorite character and I absolutely detest her - is a fascinating character, a mix of tragedy and bad guy, especially with the haunting backstory of how he lost his brother and became a pirate, and his sort of friendship with Charming is amusing. Ariel and Eric's story which I'd been looking forward to was sadly poorly handled and rushed, with Eric coming across as rather bland, and their first meeting already having taken place. Ariel herself was fairly good, though, if more than a little naive. "Going Home" was gut-wrenching, even if part of me refuses to accept Rumplestilskin's death. I'm grateful Peter Pan is gone, and was deeply moved by Rumplestiltskin's sacrifice and final words to Belle and Bae. Regina's character growth was poignant to watch, as was her relationship with Henry. As glad as I am to be done with Storybrooke I found the scene where it's erased heartbreaking, especially as everyone vanishes into the smoke.

Continuing in my quest to watch everything Arthurian I discovered and gave a try to new series starting with the 50s The Adventures Of Sir Lancelot which was adorable and included a catchy theme. William Russell has a lovely, soft voice and the fight scenes are always fun since he seems to give everything to the part. Next was Arthur Of The Britons an unusual and quiet series portraying Arthur as a Celtic warrior rather than a king and focusing heavily, much to my delight, on his sort-of friendship with Kay.

Out of boredom I gave a try to BBC's Sherlock and found it a weird mix of the horrible and strangely entertaining. SM's influence is obvious with the annoying humor, hitting of the reset button, "everybody lives", plot holes, and teeth-gritting fan pandering - if I hear him use the T-shirt gimmick one more time I'm going to scream. However there are a few flashes of brilliance such as the scene where a wounded Sherlock comes back to life with beautiful use of light as the surgery scene overlaps with him in his dream struggling up stairs, as well as the tragic moment where Mycroft sees Sherlock as a little boy after he shoots the bad guy. While I can't stand Martin Freeman and can say nothing good about his lifeless John Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch is surprisingly good as Sherlock, capturing many of the stranger aspects while still making him likeable and often amusing. Molly is a delightful character, as is Sherlock's landlady.

I got to see the pilot for Swingin' Together which was never picked up for a series and it was quite cute, with the always delightful Bobby Rydell as a traveling singer fronting a band. It's a shame it didn't continue, because it was fun and I loved the hints of family-like friendship between the guys, especially their Mr. Cunningham and them.

I've started watching When Calls The Heart, a tv series based upon a series of books I enjoyed as a kid and it's quite cute so far, bringing back that frontier period drama feel that's been seriously lacking since the 90s. The characters, especially the children, grow on me, and Jack is appealing, even if I wish they hadn't changed his name from the book. I also saw the film, and while I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the tv show there were some lovely moments, especially with Edward, a character I wish the series included. I can't figure out exactly where and how it fits with the show, though, since the characters are vastly different in personality and circumstances of their relationships and meetings.

I've started watching Arrow and while it hasn't completely won me over I find it's unusual version quite interesting. While I miss Oliver's humor and warmth, this scarred, troubled, and often violent Oliver is realistic seeing all he went through, and the family intrigue is a fun twist. I adore Barry Allen, such a cutie and a sweetheart, and I love finally seeing the origins of the Flash. I'm looking forward to the spin-off, too. My favorite character so far is the complex and tragic Roy Harper, and I'm fascinated by his journey from thief to superhero. There's a good heart underneath all the anger, and I loved seeing Oliver save him. "Three Ghosts", my favorite episode so far, was stunning, and delightfully whump-filled, continuing with the intriguing storyline of the Japanese miracle drug. I was saddened by Slade's turn into evil, though, since I liked both Shado and he.
 
 
calliope tune: "Harden My Heart"-Quarterflash
feeling: ecstatic