Sunday, December 4, 2016

MOVIE - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

PG-13 (2:12)
Wide release November 18, 2016
Viewed Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016 at Century Park Place....for the last time?
RT Critic:  78  Audience: 83
Critic's Consensus: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them draws on Harry Potter's rich mythology to deliver a spinoff that dazzles with franchise-building magic all its own.
Cag:  4/Enjoyed it very much, but it was a bit long
Directed by David Yates
Warner Brothers Picture
Written by J. K. Rowling

Eddie Redmayne, Dan Fogler (I really liked him!)

My comments:  The first few bars of music at the very, very beginning of the movie are notes from the Harry Potter theme.  After those first few notes, the music hanges.  Yes, this movie is by J. K. Rowling and yes, it is set in the world of wizards and awizardry, but other than that there's not much comparison to Harry Potter.  It's a standalone.  The setting, for one thing, is completely different - 1920s in New York City.  And for the most part, the story is about adults, not kids or even young adults.
     It's hard to compare the two movies, they are pretty much incomparable.  It was okay, entertaining, and had interesting actors.  I loved Jacob Goldstein, he was actually my favorite character in the move.  The Actor, Dan Fogler, was wonderful.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

Friday, December 2, 2016

One Postcard Received Friday, Dec. 2, 2016

702.  Greetings from Czech Republic
Because I have only painting "reading cards" and you are man (!!) with a sense of humor, I send you raven card.  Raven is poem from Edgar Allan Poe, and you know it.  Enjoy your raven card and have a funny day, Jana.  
PS:  Raven in Czech:  KRKAVEC

MOVIE - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

PG-13 (2:07) (might be scary for younger or nervous kids)
Wide release 9/20/16
Viewed 12/2/16 at Century Gateway
RT Critic: 63   Audience:  64
Critic's Consensus:  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children proves a suitable match for Tim Burton's distinctive style, even if it's on stronger footing as a visual experience than a narrative one.
Cag:  4.5 Liked it so much more than planned...
Directed by Tim Burton
20th Century Fox
Based on the book by Ransom Riggs

Eva Green, Chris O'Dowd, Judi Dench (small part)

My comments:  I couldn't get into the book, only got as far as Jake finding the bombed-out mansion.  However, the movie was fascinating, the storyline incredibly clever.  Maybe I didn't go far enough?  Apparently for me it translated better on film than in print.  I wonder what the difference are between them?  All the effects were pretty darn cool and I love the kind o mind that can come up with a story like this.  Fantastic time travel/fantasy.  Chris O'Down, as the dad, was marvelous.  And I wish there had been more of Juki Dench - love her!

RT/ IMDb Summary:  From visionary director Tim Burton, and based upon the best-selling novel, comes an unforgettable motion picture experience. When Jake discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical place known as Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers...and their powerful enemies. Ultimately, Jake discovers that only his own special "peculiarity" can save his new friends.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Postcards Received Thursday, 12-1-2016

698.  Postcrossing Indonesia - Batam
Hello.  I am Ucy.  I live in Batam City, but my hometown is Bukithngsi city, west of Sumatra province.  I like to collect stamps, coins, banknotes, and I like to crochet.  I hope you like this card.  Happy Postcarduniting!

699.  Tura Beach, NSW, Australia
Did You Know? Humpback Whale
The humpback whale is not the largest of the whale family, but it can still grow to 16 metres in length, weigh up to 40 tonnes and can live to be 48 years old.  These great mammals can throw their great mass up out of the water in a fantastic display.  They are a living wonder and have been an endangered species since 1963.  The breeding ground of the Humpback Whale remains a mystery.  Pods of humpback whales are observed every year on the coast of Australia during their 5000 km migration, returning to Antarctica.

700.  Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Hello Chris, Greetings from Penang Island - the second smallest state in Malaysia.  Georgetown is Penang state capital and UNESCO world cultural heritage site.  This historic city was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light as a British trading port.  Penang Road (Jalan Penang) is a famous street in Georgetown with many classic shops such as this shop which trades caneware.  It is a vanishing trade as there are just few shops of its kind left in the city.  Rattan is the raw material for making caneware and is harvested from rain forests.

701.  Greetings from Malaysia!
Malaysia features some of the world's most stunning tropical beaches.  The diversity of this nation comes from the intermingling of Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian cultures, and has generated a dynamic environment with a unique cuisine.  There are many rainforests, natural scenery.  If you love travelling, maybe ccan think of travel here one day?  I choose this Classic Poem of Chinese for you.  Hope you will like it.  Happy Postcrossing and have a nice day! Janet

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

MOVIE - Moonlight

R (1:50)
Limited release 10/21/16
Viewed 11/29/16 at the Loft with Sheila
RT Critic: 98   Audience:  91
Critic's Consensus:   Moonlightuses one man's story to offer a remarkable and brilliantly crafted look at lives too rarely seen in cinema.
Cag: 4.5 - for the most part, I liked this movie a whole lot
Directed by Barry Jenkins (who also wrote it)
Plan B Entertainment

My comments:  I loved parts one and two.  A lot. But part three threw me off a bit.  The physical change in the main character is too extreme.  He was intensely skinny in the first two parts, and even though he'd bulked up incredibly, he didn't have the leanness that I felt he still would have had.  So it was hard to relate to him as the same character.  And this third part went at what seemed to me like a slower pace.  The story, as a whole, was so sad and so well told - my heart breaks for kids who are brought up in drug-addicted households and poverty, and for kids who have to deal with intense bullying, mentally and physically.  Our world.....or at least some parts of it.  Horrible.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  The tender, heartbreaking story of a young man's struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Postcards Received Monday, 11/28/16

694.  Bogza Art Gallery - Russia
Hello Chris, best wishes from Russia, Moscow.  Hope you like this card with one view of one Russian place - Sochi.  I hope that one day I can visit it.  Elene


695.  Two Cards from NYC - Mater & the Ghostlight and MOMA's version of the Empire State Building
Hi Chris!  I know you don't wan any more famous buildings, but I feel this Empire building is unique.   You can cut the card and make a building yourself.  It's from the MOMA.

696.  Russian Cemetery
Hello Chris!   My name is Maria.  My hobbies are breeding flowers, postcrossing, and travel with my husband.  I read tht you collect postcards with cemeteries, and like Halloween!  I hope you enjoy the card and its desing.  This postcard is from my collection from my grandmother and she's 32 years old! :) I wishy you all the best!

697.  Russian Landscape Painter Ivan I. Shishkin (mailed from Finland)
Hello there!!  I'm Veronica, 25, from Sipoo, Finland.  I'm a photographer and love all art.  I also enjoy travelling.  I have been living in 8 different places around the world.  Have a great day!  Veronica

Saturday, November 26, 2016

70. The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

listened to on Audible
2013 Tyndale House
400 pgs. - read 125 pgs.
Adult CRF
Started and gave up on the same day, Sat. 11/26/16
Goodreads rating: 4.1 - 6069 ratings
My rating: 1.5
Setting: Contemporary Cape Hatteras

First line/s:  "When trouble blows in, my mind always reaches for a single, perfect day in Rodanthe."

My comments:  I've listened to over 30% of this book and I can't get into it...perhaps because I can't stomach the protagonist or her choices?  Or perhaps it goes waaaay too slowly.  Not going to waste my time going any further...too many others waiting for me out there.

Goodreads synopsis:  When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola's rambling Victorian house.Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola's walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola's youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper--the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

67. Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

read on my Kindle
2014, Delacorte Press
296 pgs.
YA
Finished 11/24/16
Goodreads rating: 3.59 - 1,723 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting:  Contemporary NYC and England

First line/s:  "I should know this room.  I've been inside it countless times.but everything looks different now.  The vibrant colors have all turned gray, the view out the windows is a foreign blur, and someone must have rearranged the furniture without telling me."

My comments:  Back in the early days of my marriage when I knew no one in the tiny village of Northeast Harbor and my new husband was away at Basic Training, I practically lived in the town library.  I inhaled every book by Jane Aiken Hodge, Daphne duMaurier, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Phyllis A. Whitney.  What were they called...gothic romances?  I drank up Suspicion in one sitting because it reminded me so much of those days and those books.  And it ended up being a very likeable book.  Didn't blow me away, but certainly entertained me for awhile.

Goodreads synopsis:  Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor.
           For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope.
           Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.
          Combining spine-tingling mystery, romance, and unforgettable characters, Suspicion is an action-packed thrill ride.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

MOVIE - Keeping Up with the Joneses

PG-13 (1:41)
Wide 10/21/16
Viewed 11/23/16 at Century Gateway
RT Critic: 19   Audience:  46
Critic's Consensus:  Keeping Up with the Joneses squanders a decent premise -- and a talented cast full of funny people -- on a witless and largely laugh-free suburban spy adventure.
Cag:  3.5/totally enjoyed it (though not to be considered a "great" movie)
Directed by Greg Mottola
20th Century Fox

Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm

My comments:  Holy catfish, this was a fun movie to watch...funny as heck, actors that have great chemistry and fast moving.  Took my mind away from everything else, as a good movie should, and left me with not a lot of "deep thinking," which at this particular point in my life I'm grateful about!

RT/ IMDb Summary:  A suburban couple becomes embroiled in an international espionage plot when they discover that their seemingly perfect new neighbors are government spies.

66. Once Shadows Fall by Robert Daniels

Sturgis & Kale #1
read on my Kindle AND listened on Audible
2015, Crooked Lane Books
352 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished  11/23/16
Goodreads rating:  4.03 - 186 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting:  Contemporary Atlanta, GA

First line/s:   "Luck:  hard to plan for it, hard to predict when it might show up."

My comments:  A new, female homicide detective gets handed a case that looks like a copycat -  a copycat because the deranged killer of what look like the same type of serial murders is locked away in a psychiatric hospital.   As more similar murders appear, she teams up with a brilliant - though reluctant - ex-FBI agent who is now a college professor.  Of course rapport between them grows as we slowly learn his story, which is deeply imbedded in the original serial killer's story.  Oh, these dark, twisted minds! This was a satisfying mystery, though quite easy to figure out early on if you've read a lot of murder mysteries.  I look forward to reading more in the series.

Goodreads synopsis:  After years of paying her dues on the force, Beth Sturgis has earned her place as a detective for the Robbery-Homicide division of the Atlanta PD. Now, she's heading up a major manhunt for a potential serial killer who’s working his way inward from the outskirts of the city. The copycat elements in the first crime scene lead Sturgis to retired FBI agent Jack Kale, who was responsible for apprehending and nearly killing the murderer known as the Scarecrow, the same Scarecrow who appears to be this new killer's terrible inspiration.
          A reclusive single father and university professor, Kale is trying to keep the demons at bay through therapy and avoidance. That is, until Sturgis shows up asking for his help. Against his better judgment, Kale is drawn into the most dangerous cat and mouse game of his life. Robert Daniels's Once Shadows Fall, is a gripping thriller in the bestselling tradition of Silence of the Lambs and is sure to become a crime fiction classic.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Recipes - I've Been Cooking

I've Been Cooking
Casseroles
Beef Tamale Pie
Salsa Chicken Casserole

Crockpot Main Meals 
Chicken & Cabbage
Cowboy Stew (ground meat)

Desserts
Fruit Crisp Dump Cake

Stovetop
Ramen Skillet

Vegetables
Oven-Baked Cabbage & Bacon

I've Been Cooking - Fruit Crisp Dump Cake

1 box (Betty Crocker SuperMoist) yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 21-oz can pie filling (I used apple, others suggest cherry)
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
     Note: more fruit needed!
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl, stir together cake mix and butter until crumbly.
  • Spread pie filling and pineapple in ungreased 9 / 12 pan.  Sprinkle cake mix mixture evenly over fruit.
  • Bake 38 - 44 min. or until deep golden brown.  Cool 30 minutes.
  • Store loosely covered.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

MOVIE - Arrival

PG-13 (1:51)
Wide release 11/11/16
Viewed date at Park Place Mall on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016 after getting my hair cut.
RT Critic:  93  Audience:  83
Critic's Consensus:  Arrival delivers a must-see experience for fans of thinking person's sci-fi that anchors its heady themes with genuinely affecting emotion and a terrific performance from Amy Adams.
Cag:  5.5  I really loved it, superior movie, may change to a 6...
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
21 Laps Entertainment

Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forrest Whitacker

My comments:  Now that's a MOVIE!  Clever, believable science fiction where you slowly figure out what's going on, and the reality is much ... deeper ... than superficial.  I'll be thinking about this one for a long while yet.  It left me with a couple of small questions, that I'm sure I'm supposed to figure out on my own (sort of like the end of reading The Giver for the first time).

RT/ IMDb Summary:  When mysterious spacecrafts touch down across the globe, an elite team - lead by expert linguist Louise Banks - is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers - and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

MOVIE - Jane Got a Gun

R (1:37)
Wide release 1/29/16 (on DVD in April)
Viewed on Netflix 11/16/16
RT Critic:  40  Audience:  38
Cag:  4.5  Liked it a whole lot
Directed by Gavin O'Connor
Relativity Media
Joel Edgerton is credited as one of the three writers

Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton

My comments:  I don't add movies I didn't see on the "big screen" on the blog, but am making an exception for this one.  It's a pretty current movie and I really liked it a lot, so I want to keep track of it.  It's a rich story, and although there's a lot of killing, the gun battles aren't quite as long and drawn out as in the other westerns I've seen recently.  A gang of outlaws vs. three people protecting a small home, one of whom is totally incapacitated.  Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton make a believable couple, and as their story unfolds as the movie progresses, it really tugs on the heart strings.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Jane Hammond has built a new life with her husband Bill "Ham" Hammond after being tormented by the ultra-violent Bishop Boys outlaw gang. She finds herself in the gang's cross-hairs once again when Ham stumbles home riddled with bullets after dueling with the Boys and their relentless mastermind Colin. With the vengeful crew hot on Ham's trail, Jane has nowhere to turn but to her former fianc√© Dan Frost for help in defending her family against certain destruction. Haunted by old memories, Jane's past meets the present in a heart-stopping battle for survival.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

MOVIE - Doctor Strange

PG-13 (2:10)
Wide Release 11/4/16
Viewed 11/15/16 at Century Park Place
RT Critic: 91   Audience: 90
Critic's Consensus:  Doctor Strange artfully balances its outr√© source material against the blockbuster constraints of the MCU, delivering a thoroughly entertaining superhero origin story in the bargain.
Cag: 5/Loved it
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Walt Disney Studios
Based on the Marvel Comic

Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swanton, Chiwetel Ejiofor

My comments:  Wow, loved this movie!  Not your "typical" Marvel/comic movie at all!  Not an overwhelming amount of fighting/action scenes, lots of incredible effects, a fantastic story, and WONDERFUL acting by Benedict Cumberbatch.  I think I'd like to see this in 3-D, although I don't usually like wearing the glasses, I bet this would be awesome!  Easy to go see again, too.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  A disgraced former surgeon named Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) becomes a powerful sorcerer under the tutelage of a mystic known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, and Chiwetel Ejiofor co-star in this entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe