13 May 2012 @ 01:35 am
You never take sugar in your tea. And you always double-knot your shoelaces.  
Recovering from the claustrophobia of being jammed into a theatre with too many people, I just got back from The Hunger Games! I had very high expectations for the film and it filled them all and still blew me away, especially the bread scene even if it missed the dandelion moment. Peeta was incredible. I expected as much from the other films I've seen with the actor but he pulled every emotion possible out of every scene and was even better than I'd imagined, and so vulnerable I kept wanting to hug him. Prim was sweet, Gale was surprisingly sympathetic, I actually felt for him, and Haymitch made me love him even though I didn't like the book character. The other Tributes were very much as I'd pictured, especially little Rue. The scene where she died hurt, and then when the district saluted Katniss I don't think there was a dry eye in the theatre. My favorite scenes were the chariots, Katniss finding Peeta by the river, and that final hug when they think the Games are over. I was slightly disappointed that Peeta healed up so quickly after the medicine arrived, since I wanted the scene where Katniss is pounding on the glass screaming, but the whole film was beyond perfection, especially this line: "I think about it all the time. How I tossed you that bread, I should have gone to you, I should have gone out in the rain. I remember when I first saw you. Your hair was in two braids instead of one, and in music assembly when they asked who knew the valley song and your hand shot straight up. After that I watched you walk home everyday...every day."

So apparently most Les Miserables fans hate Marius. I'm beginning to suspect somethings wrong with me when my favorite character is always the least popular with other fans, still this surprised me because I always assumed Marius would be a popular character. He's certainly a romantic and tragic revolutionary and, even though I adored him years before I ever saw the fantastic 1998 movie or any other version, he's pretty. I have a weakness for high cheekbones and he has the highest ever.

I'm working my way through the complete 1978 series Battlestar Galactica and I adore Starbuck with his hilarious womanizing, gambling, cigar-smoking, and gorgeous hair, even CORA, his computer, wants to flirt with him. On the flipside I feel sorry for poor Athena; she starts out as one of the leads and after a few episodes the writers seem to have no idea what to do with her, and she spends the rest of the series staring at a computer screen or eating dinner. I love how detailed the world is from the viper fights to the "space Las Vegas", and Apollo, Boomer, and Starbuck's friendship, as well as Apollo and Boxey's relationship, is heartwarming. Rick Springfield turned up in the pilot, which was a treat, even if he had a tiny and tragic role. Starbuck gets to show his caring side in the dream-like "War Of The Gods" when he offers his life to save dead Apollo, even in payment after Apollo has been brought back to life, and his crying shows how much he really does care about his friends. "Fire In Space" showcases Boomer as a hero, as well as showing the loyal heart of Starbuck when he jumps off the ship into outer space to grab onto Apollo who's lost his grip, and continues holding onto him, floating without ropes, until help arrives. Starbuck gets some nice whump in "Greetings From Earth" as well as "The Young Lords", both of which have cute scenes with him and kids. The beautiful and moving "Lost Warrior" features an incredible and fun western showdown between Apollo and a cylon, as well as a lovely backstory and star-gazing finale. While there's no real finale the last episode was superb, and I love the broadcast being the moon landing as well as the adorable "waggling the wings" part.

I'm up to "The Seige" in A Man Called Shenandoah and by now I see the writers enjoy tormenting him. Here he comes closer than ever with the hope of a family, a name, and a hometown only to have it all snatched away. On the bright side Charles Aidman was in it! I adore him, no matter what role he has he's excellent, and he got to have a cute little daughter in this one which is always a sweet bonus. I'm still not convinced on the ending, though. Since the doctor said in the pilot that some people with amnesia forget to read I think it's possible that his handwriting was forgotten and relearned (or at least I'd like to think so), not to mention the fact that little Nora sort of looked like him, enough to put a doubt in my mind. It would have made an excellent finale, too.

I'm infamous for ignoring special features on DVDs so it's taken me all this time to notice my The Time Tunnel set came with a bonus movie, Time Travelers, and watch it. Clint, a doctor desperate to find a cure for the outbreak of an extinct disease, and Jeff, a former astronaut, join forces to travel back to the 1800s and speak to the doctor who found a cure for the deadly virus but lost the records to the Chicago Fire. At the last moment something goes wrong and the men arrive a mere 29 hours before the fire, with Clint contracting the virus, leaving it up to Jeffrey to get them back in time to save both their lives. With Rod Serling's story of a doomed love and poignant endings and Irwin Allen's colorful touch to lend a bit of fun to it all, the two leads have a good and believeable friendship with strong similarities to Tony and Doug's friendship in The Time Tunnel. I would have loved to see Tony and Doug in the Great Chicago Fire but there's enough of both of them in Jeff's character to not feel too wistful. It's a shame they didn't make this into a series as it would have been interesting to see what other adventures Clint and Jeff could have had, and I really liked Jeff as well as the focus being on the travelers.

I saw "The Bounty Hunter", the Trackdown episode that spun-off into Wanted Dead Or Alive and it was interesting to see how much rougher Josh was compared to the series, quick to fight and shoot while later it shakes him up everytime he has to kill someone. He and Hoby worked well together and it would have been nice to see Hoby in Wanted Dead Or Alive. Along the same lines, I also saw a hilarious Boy Meets World episode with the Monkees, being different characters but with many in-jokes and an adorable ending, and the Make Room For Daddy that spun-off into Andy Griffith Show. Andy's character was more goofy, and Aunt Bee was an entirely different character, but it was cute and I can see the makings for the series, especially with Andy and Opie's relationship. While I was working on "Dust Off The Moon" I kept noticing the overlap between the real John Ringo and the tv version, especially the holes in John Ringo's life that could have been filled by someone like Cully. That eventually led to my considering the opposite: if Johnny would become like the real person if Cully was taken away. But I never thought about what would happen to Cully without Johnny. I saw The Rifleman episode "Mark's Rifle" where Mark Goddard played a character very much like Cully, a trick shot artist with a carny background and a likeable smile. But underneath all that is a world-weary, bitter thief, a dark mirror of Cully, or who Cully could have been if he'd shot Johnny or if Johnny had never met him. It would have been fascinating if Johnny Ringo had done an It's A Wonderful Life styled episode for each of them.

I saw an amazing Marcus Welby M.D. episode "A Matter Of Humanities" with Pete Duel as a man with aphasia. He only said one word over and over throughout the episode but it was an incredible acting job, one of the most impressive I've seen. I also discovered the excellent sci-fi series Journey To The Unknown and am working my way through it. I'm also binge-watching the fun sci-fi Gemini Man - I really want a watch like that - and it's clone, the '70s version of The Invisible Man, the catchy Fame, the jazzy detective series T.H.E. Cat, the quirky Jack of All Trades, and the excellent western Branded. I'm also enjoying the '90s sci-fi Roswell.

Heidi, the little Swiss dreamer, and Peter, the young goat-herder with issues have held my heart since I first saw the 1993 movie Heidi as a young child, and even then I knew they had to get married someday. They were so adorable together; Heidi needed someone to look after her, and Peter seemed to come out of his shell only with her help. The moment he saved her on the cliff I was in love with them forever. I recently heard of the not official but good enough for me sequels to the book: Heidi Grows Up and Heidi's Children, which find Heidi and Peter marrying and having twins.

I managed for almost the entire first season of The X-Files to not ship Mulder/Scully. It was "Beyond The Sea" that did me in, right at the scene where Mulder is on the ER table, dying, and Scully is standing there. She's not even crying but that look on her face, like her world is falling apart. And then when she lies for him in "Tooms", and the whole "only trusting him" and the way he panics when she's kidnapped and oh.

I'm watching S.W.A.T. season one. There's enough closeness among the team to make me happy and I love Luca; he's hilarious, adorable, and such a flirt. "Blind Man's Bluff" is my favorite episode so far, with a wound leaving Harrelson deskbound and a new, harsh officer in charge of the team, leading to sweet moments as Harrelson undergoes surgery to get back to his job, Hilda brings him a giant sandwich in the hospital, and Luca goes to his office to visit him.

I've been working through The Big Valley season two and I'd nearly forgotten my childhood love for this gloriously overdone western. It's a colorful soap opera packed with enough brothers h/c to make me squee like a teenager. And it has Richard Long. I don't know what it is about him but I adore him completely. All he has to do is make that amused, crooked smile of his and I'm instantly in love with whatever character he is. It must have started with Jarrod Barkley of the quirkily spelled name, noble character, and gorgeous blue eyes. Not that Jarrod's the only looker, as it has possibly the best looking cast a western ever flaunted. There's Heath, occasionally troubled by his past and constantly troubled by hair that can't decide what color it wants to be. It was bottle blond last season and now it's inching into the brown zone more by the episode. I'm assuming it will be black next season at the rate it's going. He has a crooked, meltable smile and that western accent that always endears me to a character as soon as he opens his mouth. Even Nick who unnerved me seems better now, even if he could use his big brother's ease at controlling his temper. He's such an incredibly different character from Black Saddle it's amazing, mark of a good actor, I guess. Poor Audra doesn't get to do much but be pampered by her brothers and lose the latest object of her affections but she cries nicely and has lots of bright clothing so I suppose she can't complain. In all seriousness, though, it's a fantastic show, surprisingly deep for such a pretty series, with lovely amnesia episodes. I've also been watching Green Acres and fallen in love with it's adorable way of breaking the fourth wall as well as it's homespun humor. I love how ditzy Lisa is, the fancy furniture and clothes against the rundown farm, and the telephone on top of their house. All of the townspeople are hilarious, too, such characters. I've also been rewatching a childhood favorite in Leave It To Beaver. I've been on a cop show spree too this week, watching all the series I used to and loving them all: the fantastic Baretta with Fred and Baretta's disguises, Patrick Swayze in The Renegades, Dan's ability to be anything in David Cassidy Man Undercover, Doyle's curls in The Professionals, David Janssen in Richard Diamond, Mark Goddard in The Detectives, and my favorite Kojak. I'm loving the spy/detective series Hawaiian Eye, and best of all, the jazz-flavored Johnny Staccato, too.

I'm working through Cheyenne and watched the excellent "The Long Winter". Cheyenne's comment about the "tame flowers" was adorable! It makes sense, too, if people call wildflowers "wild" why not call flowers tended in a flower bed "tame"? I saw Paul Brinegar playing a trail hand in another episode, "Lone Gun", about a cattle drive, and one of the other characters was named Rowdy, so he got to keep calling him by that name while I kept expecting to see Clint Eastwood answer. He didn't have his usual whiskers, though, so I recognized him by his voice alone. Then Sheb Wooley turns up two episodes later. This series is like Rawhide before it started. Speaking of which, I finished the new season of Rawhide including Pete's final episode "The Deserter's Patrol". I'm always a little worried when I know a character I like is leaving a series for fear they'll kill him or he'll disappear without a word, which is almost worse. Thankfully if he had to leave they gave him a good send-off; he takes a job as an Army scout and takes the son of his dead friend as his. I miss Pete terribly, though. Clay lacks the warmth and clarity of character, too many shades of grey. This season did give me an unexpected gift by having Pete in the episode "Reunion". It's wonderful to have him back, if only briefly. In the last episode "Devil and the Deep Blue". Teddy turned back up! I'd been wondering where he was this season. Poor Teddy, I rather like him and he never seems to get a main role in any episode. Also, be still, my childhood heart, I watched the adorable "Grandma's Money", and "The Pitchwagon", a feast of hilarious moments where the drivers stage an impromptu talent show, both of which made me remember yet again why I adore Rowdy from his drawstring hat to that sugar sweet and oh so gullible heart. Let's just say when he sings and the girls in the crowd shriek, I'm silently doing it, too. There must be something magical about tv cowboys...they can steal your heart again and again, no matter how old you think you've become.

I adore Barney Sloane, the down-trodden character in Young At Heart, so I was thrilled to discover the film was a remake of another movie, 1938's Four Daughters, and that Frank Sinatra's role (called Mickey) was originally John Garfield's. With four sisters instead of three, the plots are still very similiar, of the women marrying men who they don't completely love yet. Into this walks a piano-player with neither self-confidence or hope compounded by a firm belief that his fates are out to destroy him. Almost the same until you reach Mickey's first scene and everything changes. Expecting the instant pull Barney had on me, I found myself recoiling from John Garfield's portrayal. Barney is such a tragic and emotionally-fragile character you bleed for him; Mickey comes across as sarcastic and bitter, enjoying feeling sorry for himself. It's the most subtle things that seem to change everything: the way they look, the tone of voice, and Frank Sinatra's unique, soulful eyes and world-weary delivery of the lines give a depth to Barney that Mickey doesn't have, and I never truly bonded with the character. It's a shame because it would have been fascinating to see John Garfield tackle the role the same way, including the final scene. Four Daughters has Mickey die shortly after in hospital, and the next scene finds Anne smiling, seemingly having forgotten all about him, and returning to the original man she loved. Young At Heart takes a far more hopeful and beautiful turn as Laurie's desperate attempts to convince Barney that she loves him and needs him finally gives him the strength to pull through surgery. The last scene finds the couple, now with a baby, Barney having finished the song that haunted him through the film. Despite a last cute moment Four Daughters left me saddened and confused, Mickey seeming like an out of place part that was worked in at the last moment and removed without anyone noticing. Young At Heart is so romantic and hopeful that I grin ear to ear at the ending. John Garfield, in his first role, has that brooding sarcasm that he'd use so well in later roles, but his approach is so opposite from Frank Sinatra's that I felt I was watching a different character completely, and the ending only confirmed that idea. The change of the character surviving, I understand, was Frank Sinatra's request that Barney be given a second chance, and I not only agree with his choice but adore him for it. More than Mickey, Barney is the backbone of the film, and the original ending would have defeated the point of the story.

I love sword-and-sandals films and among my favorites is The Robe. Victor Mature was an excellent actor when given a chance at a good role, like Demetrius, requiring an emotional depth pouring out of his eyes. It's always saddened me how there's no real ending for him, so it was with great excitement that I discovered the sequel Demetrius and the Gladiators. Picking up a while later, Demetrius is living with a potter and his daughter Lucia, a young woman he loves from afar, never guessing she also loves him. His world comes shattering around him when Caligula launches an empire-wide search for the robe, believing it will grant him immortality. When they arrive his attempts to protect Lucia from the soldiers sentence him to the gladiator fights, and near death, the conniving Messalina saves him and sets her eye on him at any cost. Demetrius forced to watch as the gladiators attack and appear to kill Lucia. Demetrius lashes out, turning his back on his religion, friends, and even pacifism. Freed and given a position as Tribune, he sets out to recapture the Robe when he discovers Lucia is still living and in possession of it. It's is a well done what if?, interesting in that it isn't a single event that sets him off but more the last straw, implied that it began when Marcellus died for him. I wondered how Demetrius would feel when it sunk in. He's been through torture to the brink of death, rescued moments before dying, and healed, even as his friends knew that bringing Peter there would cast suspicion on themselves, and then Marcellus turns back and gives himself up to allow the others to have a chance to escape with Demetrius. Surely all this would haunt Demetrius, and I would have liked the sequel to touch on this more. His loss of faith, violent anger, and later change of heart, are sudden but believable but I found it somewhat out of character for him to instantly rush into a relationship with Messalina the moment he thinks Lucia is dead. Victor Mature gets center stage in the sequel and he's wonderful, equally convincing as his usual kind-hearted character and the embittered transformation mid-way through the movie. The film ends on a hopeful note but another sequel would have been perfect although the loose ends are tied up. In other new films I watched the 2010 Clash of The Titans which was surprisingly better than the original, even if I was broken-hearted that Ixas and Eusebius were killed. Hans Matheson was wonderful as Ixas - saving Perseus's life and going around with fantastic bows and arrows - and the actor who played Eusebius looked so much like Krycek I couldn't believe my eyes. Perseus was an easy to sympathize with hero, and I liked his relationship with Io even if I was hoping he'd end up with Andromeda in the end. But the special effects were all amazing, and it was quite fun. Next was The Andersonville Trial, a fascinating and moving film of Henry Wirz's trial. The cast was amazing and I was intrigued by the fact that the entire film takes place in the courtroom. William Shatner was superb as Chipman, the prosecuter whose moral convictions and deep sense of caring for those who died drives him to prove Wirz's guilt, and Michael Burns had a achingly tragic role as a nineteen year old survivor of Andersonville who remains lost in the war in his mind. The film dug deeply into the implications of following or disobeying orders and ended with a sobering, thought-provoking comment. I finally saw Because They're Young, and it was superb. I love old "teen rebel" films and couldn't resist the fantastic cast. Dick Clark is an idealistic teacher at a rough school who believes any student can be reached if he tries hard enough, at odds with the hardened principal who wants to go by the rules, teach the good students, and throw away the bad ones. Both are put to the test when he gets Michael Callan in his class, a rough kid with a chip on his shoulder who gets involved in a robbery and finds himself caught against a switchblade. Even as a bad boy he still has that impish grin that makes me smile back. Roberta Shore and cute, towheaded Doug McClure were adorable high school sweethearts in the movie and made me remember how I used to ship Trampas/Betsy before Randy showed up. Throw in some radio music by Bobby Rydell, Duane Eddy at the dance, and James Darren with his million-dollar-smile and very glittery hair and eyes and I was in love. Next I saw the lovely film The Winning Team, a biography of a star baseball pitcher and his devoted wife whose strength helps him overcome a brain injury and gives him the courage to make not only a comeback but win the world series for his team. Then I discovered the film Stolen Women Captured Hearts. Anna is a new bride, married to a man she barely knows when the Lakota capture her, her life spared by the mysterious warrior Tokalah. Forced to adjust in order to survive, Anna finds her heart strangely warmed by Tokalah's kindness as well as confused by the way he seems to have met her before, as she finds herself falling in love for the first time. But her newfound happiness is threatened when Custer takes an interest in returning her, a simple task that quickly turns tragic. It's one of those lovely romantic films that are just pretty to look at, along with the benefits of a clever backstory of Tokalah having seen Anna in a vision, the Indians actually played by Indians, and a unique final choice. Next was Splendor In The Grass, a haunting film that's been on my "must watch list" for ages. Set in the '20s and quite accurate to the time period, the story centers on Bud and Deanie, two star-crossed teenagers deeply in love who only want to get married in their small Kansas town. But Deanie's out-of-touch parents and Bud's ambitious, harsh father threaten their relationship, and finally drive them apart: Bud to alcohol and other women and Deanie to the brink of insanity. With poignant photography, incredible acting (especially Bud's tormented, wild sister) and an aching study in social standards and heartbreak, it's a superb film. Second was Magnificent Obsession, about Bob Merrick, a playboy millionaire with no direction in life who recklessly crashes his motorboat and almost drowns, saved thanks to a resuscitator borrowed from the local doctor, who at the same time suffers a heart attack and dies. Guilt-ridden, Bob attempts to make amends to the widow, Helen, but his efforts result in a tragic accident that leaves her blinded. He begins joining her on the beach where she sits, befriending and falling in love with her. Not knowing who he is, she returns his feelings but fate intervenes when she disappears, leaving behind only a note breaking off the relationship. Flash forward to years later and he's now a talented neurosurgeon when word comes that she's been found, dying in a hospital. In a strange twist of fate he becomes the only person who can save her life and give them another chance at happiness together. It was a rich and lovely soap opera in the grand style only that era could do. The casting is unusual but grew on me, the theme is stunning, and it's a glorious movie to look at. Bob grows over the film and the transformation is fascinating as his conceited, devil-may-care ways turn into a man who gives everything of himself and asks for nothing. Next was All That Heaven Allows, a gorgeous and moving film that's one of the best happy-ending romances I've seen in a very long time. Cary is a lonely widow caught in an endless routine of country clubs, artificial friends, social standards, and the cold glitz of a wealthy, privileged life. Ron is her garderner who's starting his own tree farm, a genuine, loving man who refuses to let little things matter and lives life to the fullest. When a shared breakfast draws the two together they find themselves falling in love, a romance which tests Cary's relationships with her friends and her nearly-grown children as well as shaking the core of her orderly lifestyle. Unable to deal with social convention, she breaks their relationship off, and it takes a season of loneliness and a tragic accident before Cary discovers that what she's wanted all along isn't money or people to think well of her, only the kind of love Ron can give. It was a beautiful movie, both heartwarming and poignant, rich and gripping. Last was the quirky but fun musical The Pirate with Gene Kelly in all his swashbuckling glory as an actor who pretends to be a pirate in order to win the woman who has a crush on the pirate. More Victor Mature's films, too, and the past two were the best so far. The Egyptian tells the tragic story of a man who rises and falls through the ranks from an abandoned infant on the Nile to a wealthy doctor to Pharoh. Victor Mature played a soldier and childhood friend to the doctor who rises with him and changes as he does. The film had gorgeous scenery and sets, a haunting theme, and an incredible, heartbreaking scene where the soldiers kill the worshippers on the outskirts of Egypt. The best scene, I think, is the Doctor's inspiring speech toward the end. Million Dollar Mermaid was a sweet, wonderful film with Victor Mature being fabulous as the carny drifter with his head in the clouds, such a colorful character. I've never seen him play that sort of role and he pulled it off beautifully. The swimming scenes and the technicolor were glorious, and the setting was richly detailed with the silent movie sets, flying machines, and carnival. I've also been on a nostalgic kick and watched all the Ma & Pa Kettle films. I had a couple as a kid and saw them over and over but I hadn't thought of them again until recently. They're every bit as hilarious and fun as I remember.
 
 
feeling: stressed
calliope tune: "Together Forever"-Rick Astley