The Lion is Still King

A rainy weekday night, all activities cancelled, the kids and I went to see The Lion King with popcorn for dinner. We were the only four people in the theatre, our own private showing.  After giggles and wonder, it became a sing-along, a competition of who knew the most lines throughout this classic film with lessons for people of all ages.

I remember first watching The Lion King (on VHS no less) shortly after Tara was born, as she lay sleeping in my arms, home alone.  I knew nothing about the movie and —spoiler alert!!–I was stunned when Mufasa was killed during the stampede.  Now, this is a Disney film, so I should have known a parent would die, but thankfully we had the non-surprising redemption by the end.  I cried, I cried during and after the movie.

This was Tara’s movie of choice for several years.  I honestly think I watched or listened to The Lion King over 100 times. We fast-forwarded  when Scar recruited the hyenas with his Nazi-esque song, toddler terrifying.  It’s even scarier on the big screen, but thankfully all of my kids beyond that today.  We recently found the stuffed Simba and Nala from when Tara was younger, a few of the myriad of The Lion King memorabilia we owned.  We all love the Broadway show of The Lion King too.  So in the spirit of the original film.

Five days after the movie refrains of “Hakuna Matada” and “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” are sung, hummed, laughed en masse or in private. It’s truly time for my kids to take their place in the Great Circle of Life.  C

A Challenge

Sadly, after a round of writing on vacation, there has been another drought.  Too busy with the end of summer, prepping for school, kids’ soccer, work, car break downs, last minute plans.  Little time for writing or pictures or relaxing as anticipation for school next week is underway.

A little diversion, last night a group of moms and daughters all saw “The Help.”  The moms had all read the book, which I loved, and none of the girls had, but we all enjoyed the movie. Take your daughters, show them the Civil Rights movement in the 60’s, with impeccable sets, homes of the rich-poor-and in between, simple clothing, all through a cloud of smoke.

I call this movie a Changer.  Can it change us for the better?  Skeeter writing a book about The Help during the tumultuous civil rights era in Mississippi was so courageous, so funny, so inspiring. A town full of bigots, some of which probably still remain in many places, ready to pounce on her.  They could have taken her life as they did so many others for going to school, riding a bus, walking on the wrong street, just breathing.

What have we done with our lives?  Do we stand up for our beliefs?  Do we believe in tolerance, acceptance of others? How can we impact our small world?  Can we stand up to the adult bullies in our midst? How can we teach our children to be brave, sponges for learning, to stand up for right if we do not show by example?

What will you do differently today?  How will you react tomorrow, after seeing “The Help” to make the people around you accept that though people  may have different skin tones, come from different financial situations, have different sexual orientations, different goals in life, people want to Be.  and not just seen as “different” for accepting their past, their skins, their goals, their loves. C

Hair–the Tale

Sex, drugs, more sex, dancing, singing, more sex, nudity, and war, war, war.  Wow–what an incredible revival of Hair I saw today, its final Chicago show.  The cast was vibrant, each character alive on stage, whether a lead or part of the tribe.

Intoxicatingly funny, then drawing you in with fear of the draft , we were brought quickly back to the 1960’s reality.  I was obsessed with the movie Hair in high school, learning every word of the songs, dancing with the record again and again.  However, this was the first time I have seen the show live on stage.  What a different experience.   I was amazed how many of the characters and songs I remembered in their entirety, how many were popular on the radio.

Watching the show as an adult gave me a completely different perspective from watching the movie in high school. The hippies excellent messages of peace and freedom and  anti-war and love perhaps lost in their drugs and search for freedom and drop out culture.  Sadly, we are still fighting in wars on foreign soil, losing men and women each day.  Today, however, our soldiers choose to fight, they are not drafted into service. And they are not spit upon when they return home, but held up amongst the people in their families, their town.

Compassionate and effusive, irreverent but relevant, sexual but not exploitative, Hair was an  escape, an educator, a liberator, a story told of joy and fear and hope and loss.  Freedom.  and not.  Awesome.  C

Movies Worth a View

Three movies in the theater in one week–an unexpected luxury!   I recently saw The Fighter and The King’s Speech–about two completely divergent families in different countries, classes, clothes, countenance, language, and periods of history but with similar themes of  family expectations vs. achieving individual goals, second sons languishing in their elder’s rotten shadows, and the protagonists overcoming extreme obstacles to succeed.

From hardscrabble Lowell MA to the upper echelons of England, in neither film were there flashy effects, over generated computer creations, time-wasting jokes, or aliens.  Both dramas were based on true stories, with the ability to draw me into a recent historical time period with excellent costumes and sets, extremely strong ensemble casts of unusual characters, appropriate (and inappropriate) language spotted with unanticipated humor, and attention-keeping story lines.

Already winning a multitude of awards, I expect Academy Award nominations for actors in both films, especially Collin Firth and a supporting nod for Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech and supporting nods for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo in The Fighter.   Two movies worth seeing in the theater, and my surprising choice of The Fighter for the better of the two. While the growth in Mark Wahlberg was impressive with Amy Adam at his side, Christian Bale was over-the-top in a believable way. A fantastic way to spend a couple hours lost in someone else’s lives, both tense and inspiring.

The third film does NOT deserve any mention with the excellent ones above.  Gulliver’s Travels definitely did NOT live up to my Jack-Black expectations.  Enough said about wasting a couple hours in the theater (son’s choice).  C

Peeping In

Last Friday Bob and I had a three hour window between dropping kids off and picking up others from parties.  We headed out for an early anniversary dinner, then came home to start a film.  I chose “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” which I had just rented, since I knew it was completely kid-inappropriate and we had an empty house.  The film began raunchy yet funny, and though we watched the whole thing, I became semi-bored as it turned repetitive and predictable. A little disappointing, based on the reviews I had initially seen (and I usually like Seth Rogan’s films).

Two nights later, while watching the Bears game, I took the puppy Cali out to do her business.  As  I walked on our side yard  by our neighbor’s driveway, I realized that in the dark anyone there has a clear shot to seeing what we are watching on TV. How could I not have noticed that before?  We don’t have window coverings on our kitchen windows, so there is no way to block the view.

So, were the neighbors–or their daughters–in the driveway on Friday night?  It was before ten and they have 3 teenage girls, so most likely someone was out there.   Did they happen to glance in our window?  Did they think we were watching porn on an early evening, instead of watching a film about making a porn movie (with a few porn stars who dropped their clothes easily)?  Were they curious and watched longer?  Or did no one notice?

It gave me a great laugh on a Sunday night, just wondering.  More amusing than some parts of ” Zack and Miri”  (re-titled now that it is available in the library).  C

Julie & Julia & Friends & Dreams

Short notice, but five neighborhood friends went to see Julie & Julia this week. I loved the way the story was told, with two tales simultaneously developing, intertwined and funny and downtrodden and quirky.  We sputtered and laughed and hoped for success for both protagonists, as they followed their food-filled (and too meat-filled for me, sorry Patty who sat next to me) dreams.  The costumes and sets were perfection, and the film made me want to return to Paris NOW.

Meryl Streep was, as always, incredible with the lilting accents and mannerisms and movements that I remember from when my mother used to watch Julia Child on TV, when I was a child.  Debonaire Stanley Tucci was her husband, so in love and involved as she wrote and cooked and wrote and cooked and…  Amy Smart was funny and neurotic, a bit over the top at time, but sweet.

As much as I loved watching the story develop,  it made me sad.  The dreams  I once had, fading as life  moves forward and I am caught in the wave of time and children and mortgages and jobs and mopping the floors and and volunteer work and keeping on top of  the family schedule with military-like precision, until rain changes three practices, and aging families and friends in need.

How many people are staring at their screens after watching that film, trying to write their first blog searching for quick fame, with blank thoughts, no stories to tell?  And don’t realize how challenging it can be to write day after day?   How many other brilliant writers are out there penning away, unnoticed?  What makes a blog catch fire?  Sometimes it’s the real, sometimes it’s the fraud–like the woman who claimed to be pregnant, got all kinds of sponsors and uh-oh she wasn’t pregnant.  What? someone lied on the internet?

We would all love to come home to 65 phone messages like Julie, with offers and names and deals and opportunities to do work we dream about.  A smidgeon of extremely lucky people do what they love each day, not the masses.  We might live through them, while following our own paths.  Even as we grasp at our dream remnants we can only hope for the support system of spouse and friends from the film, cheering each zig-zag step forward.

In my mind, a successful film is one that makes me forget I am sitting in the dark–transporting me to become an invisible participant–gives me reason to feel true emotion while watching, to talk about it afterwards, and to make me think about the major and/or minor issues in it long after the screen is dark.  In all of these goals, Julie & Julia succeeded.   C

Drive-in on UP

Do you have childhood memories of going to the drive-in in your pajamas, sprawled in the back of the station wagon or atop the car, straining to listen to the tinny sound of the voice box (seeing Peter Pan comes clearly to mind)?  Or high school memories of cramming a dozen people in a car, possibly a few in the trunk, hiding beers in coolers, to run around the parking lot, probably annoying many other viewers, barely watching the film?  

We went with three other families to the drive-in last weekend and saw the new Pixar film UP, a chilly but clear night, the drive-in filled with cars of families and teens and friends.  Not too much had changed at the drive-in, other than my perspective, perhaps. Our kids were comfy in their sweats, some did fall asleep in the back of the SUV’s, bowls of homemade popcorn in their laps, chilled wine and beer aplenty for the drivers,  the film enjoyable with the sound slightly better on the car radio. 

What a wholesome, family-filled way to spend time, talking with friends, kids playing baseball before darkness sets, anticipation of a great movie, a party like atmosphere wafting about all the cars.  Our kids enjoy the experience, we get to catch up with friends, and we can all see a film together. C