Category Archives: Cinema

A Cinderella kind of day

My favorite fairy tale as a grownup is Beauty and the Beast.  But my favorite as a girl? Without question it is Cinderella. It’s a story that delivers on every level.

From Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 adaptation of Cinderella

As you know, I live with a bunch of men. Even though they pick up after themselves, I end up doing many “Cinderella” chores!

This morning,  in the middle of my work I abandoned a shirt on the ironing board, plunked down at the laptop, and … cruised Facebook, ha.

You know what happened next. Yeah, I was sucked in by one of those quizzes.

Why do we take those things? It’s not like they’re even accurate. Anyway, today’s was especially tempting: What Grimm Fairy Tale Character Are You? 

Am I a beautiful princess or a sneaky villain? Inquiring minds want to know the answer to that one!

According to the quiz, I am the most like … Cinderella.

You believe in two things: hard work and true love. You don’t complain, even when you know that you are taking on more than your fair share of the work. You don’t ask for anything, and yet, every once in a while, someone comes along and takes care of you. You know it is okay to stand up for yourself sometimes. You can say no when asked to do too much work. People will still respect you, and they might even be impressed to see you stand up for yourself!

This description makes me smile. Sure, I can *say* no to too much work — but that just means it will wait for me to do later!

Kind of like that shirt I left on the ironing board. What else was I to do? It was time to get my hair cut. This “Cinderella mom” went rogue!

My stylist does not have a magic wand, but my hair now looks cute instead of scruffy. And after my appointment, this movie found its way into my shopping cart. Something beautiful and good, a Mother’s Day gift to myself. It’s an adaptation I’ve long wanted to see.

You know, for the busy mom Mother’s Day is a Cinderella kind of day. We’re given gifts and appreciation from those we love and serve. Glass slippers and a ball, who needs those? Heck, it’s enough that for one day someone else does the cooking!

Fellow moms, I hope tomorrow is a lovely day for you. What Cinderella’s mother taught applies to each of us, I think. “Have courage and be kind.”

After dinner, our family is set to play games (we all like 7 Wonders). But you know what? I might make my men watch Cinderella with me instead.

Laura Hile (1)

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And the Winner Is . . .

How could you not give this man an award? It's a travesty.

How could you not give this man an award? It’s a travesty.

The Oscars have come and gone again, and once more, after reading the lists of nominees, I have seen a total of two of the movies nominated for anything – Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past. There are six more that I will probably rent when they come out in DVD – Into the Woods, Unbroken, American Sniper, The Theory of Everything, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The ratings and language make one of those very “iffy” for me. I had never even heard of most of the nominated movies, and only two on either of my lists won anything.

The films that win aren’t generally popular with audiences. The masses (translated “we”) apparently don’t recognize which movies are worth going to see. They aren’t “arty” enough for those who vote for the awards. That’s okay. People involved with movies like Superman, The Avengers (and all the spin-offs), Maleficent, Frozen, Divergent, and other popular favorites are laughing all the way to the bank.

In fact, when a movie wins an Oscar, I wonder what’s wrong with it.

On the upside, Lady Gaga’s tribute performance of a medley of songs from The Sound of Music was a pleasant surprise. She can sing! And she wasn’t wearing a dress made of meat or metal! She kept on all of her clothes! And Julie Andrews herself joined Gaga at the end! It was, hands down, the best moment of the Oscars.

Enjoy!

By the way, I think Chris Evans would make a wonderful modern Darcy. If you read Forever Yours, he’s my model.

Definitely not Mr Darcy

And then flog you, per the signed contract.

And then flog you, per the contract.

So last night I saw my very first 50 Shades of Grey commercial. Yes, the book everyone referred to as “Mommy Porn” is now a movie, just in time for the Valentine’s Day dinner date.

And who are the movie producers kidding? That thing is first cousin to a Hallmark Channel commercial! The R rating is laughable, given the nature of the book. I guess NC-17 (or XXX) lacks appeal as a date movie. So we’ll have a heavily-edited version in the theaters now, with a no-holds-barred DVD for sale later.

I have not read the books, but a person would have to live under a rock not to know about them. I’ve listened to a lot of talk and have read plenty. The review by Dave Barry is my favorite, which you can read here. (Be aware that Time has attached a trailer for the movie that you cannot turn off. What was on TV was a heavily edited version.)

And I have to wonder why this scenario is so appealing to women. Is the handsome, powerful, wealthy man so attractive that he can do anything? Does a legal contract between adults mean that one can take advantage of a young and insecure partner? Not in my book.

Christian Grey is no Mr Darcy. Nor is Elizabeth Bennet a gullible Anastasia.

Christian Grey is no Mr Darcy. Nor is Jane Austen’s intelligent Elizabeth Bennet the insecure, gullible Anastasia.

I had the same problem with Pretty Women. “It’s a Cinderella story,” one friend gushed. So is 50 Shades also considered a fairy tale? Rather tarnished, these modern fairy tales of ours. See, I thought the prince loved Cinderella for her beauty and her goodness. There was no need to first check out her good-in-bed-ness.

I teach teens, some from very well-to-do families. And the last message I want to send to any young man is that his wealth and good looks give him the right to have his way with a woman.

Okay, I’ll climb off the soapbox and get back to my original question: why the R rating? I suspect that decision was based on making the most money, don’t you?

Robin Helm’s Honorable Men is an excellent companion to this article.

Regency House Party

regency house party posterIf you haven’t seen this nine-week series from 2004, check it out on YouTube. There are thirty-six episodes which were originally shown in four parts. I’m watching it as research for a summer house party in the third book (Forever Yours) of my new series, Yours by Design.regencyhouseparty

I’m going to publish the first book in the series, Accidentally Yours, in December. The second book, Sincerely Yours, will follow in February or March. I have one more chapter to write.

I’m aiming for an early summer publishing date for the third and final book, Forever Yours.

My Fatal Mistake – The Mortal Instruments

I have made a terrible mistake. I started reading The Mortal Instruments series, and I can’t put it down.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments
by Cassandra Clare

This fantasy world of Downworlders (werewolves, vampires, demons, warlocks, and fairies), Shadowhunters (human demon killers), and mundanes (regular humans) has captured my imagination. I am almost as fascinated with this series as I was with The Twilight Saga. Warning: this series is not as conservative as The Twilight Saga. It’s more liberal in philosophy and theology.Mortal Instruments movie The series has been endorsed by Stephanie Meyer, and to my satisfaction, Clare is a better writer than is Meyer. Meyer excels in storytelling, but her writing style is too modern for the English teacher in me. Clare doesn’t write narrative in fragments; she saves that for dialog.

Sadly, I already had too many distractions interfering with my concentration in writing, and this isn’t helping me right now. I just have to finish reading, and I’ll be fine. At one book a day, I should be through on Wednesday. I’m practically inhaling them.

I really liked the first movie, The Mortal Instruments City of Bones, and I’m glad to hear that the second movie in the series has resumed production and should be out next year.

Excellent Emmas, Robin’s Recommendations

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam

I own four different film versions of Jane Austen’s Emma: the 1972 six-part BBC miniseries with Doran Godwin and John Carson; the 1996 Hollywood film with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northam, Toni Collette, and Ewan McGregor; the 1996 ITV TV film starring Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton, and Raymond Coulthard; and the 2009 four-part BBC miniseries featuring Romola Garai, Jonny Lee Miller, Louise Dylan, and Rupert Evans.
Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong

Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong

Everyone in my family has read the book, so we have had lively debates concerning our favorite film adaptations. None of us like the 1972 miniseries; everyone seems too old for their parts and the film quality is poor. We like different characters in the 1996 Hollywood and ITV versions, though we all prefer Kate Beckinsale to Gwyneth Paltrow (too nasal and too old for the part). Because the handsomest guys win with me, I like Jeremy Northam best of all the Mr. Knightleys and Raymond Coulthard for Frank Churchill. My husband thinks that Mark Strong does a better job with the Mr. Knightley part, and I do see his point. I will also agree that Strong is quite handsome when he wears his hat. My husband, influenced mainly by her pretty face, gives Kate Beckinsale the nod for the part of Emma. My daughter prefers Beckinsale as well. For the part of Harriet, Toni Collette is a wonderful actress, but she doesn’t look the part. We all agree that Samantha Morton deserves the nod there.

Beckinsale and Strong See what I mean about the hat?

Beckinsale and Strong
See what I mean about the hat?

We also are unanimous that the 1996 Kate Beckinsale version deserves kudos for beginning and ending with the chicken thieves, and we like the inclusion of the harvest ball during which Emma lets go of her pride and extends her hand to Robert Martin. That’s all true to the book.

Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller

Romola Garia and
Jonny Lee Miller

The 2009 BBC miniseries stands alone. At first, I thought it was too much of a departure from the real character of Emma Woodhouse, but when I watched it a second time, I became a fan – so much so that my husband bought me the DVD set for our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary. I like all the characters, though Louise Dylan should never be filmed lying down. That angle does dreadful things to her neck and face. Jonny Lee Miller is not devastatingly handsome, but he nails the part, though no one else will ever match Mark Strong’s rant after everyone learns of the engagement between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax. What we particularly liked was the fresh angle on the story.
Romola Garai

Romola Garai


It opens with Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill being sent away from Highbury as children, contrasting their lives with Emma’s sheltered childhood at Hartfield. All three of them lost their mothers, but Emma’s father was the only one who kept his children with him. That explains why he is so loath to let Emma go, and it gives a plausible excuse for the actions of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill. They were, in Anne Shirley’s words, “kindred spirits,” having shared similar backgrounds.

In other words, I have no clear favorite. I watch my three favorites, choosing according to my mood. Whom do you prefer?

Pride, Prejudice, Pain, and Sensibility

For many years, the United States has been the world’s fattest developed nation. However, according to a new report from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, we have lost this dubious distinction to Mexico. Nearly a third of Mexico’s adults (32.8 percent) are obese, which is defined as people 20 years old and older whose body mass index (BMI) is 30 and above. In the United States, 31.8 percent of American adults are considered obese.

Syria (31.6 percent) is third, and Venezuela and Libya are tied for fourth at 30.8 percent. About 12 percent of the world’s total population is now obese. The world’s fattest nation overall is Nauru, a South Pacific island where 71.1 percent of its 10,000 inhabitants are obese. American Samoa is left out of the U.N. report, but acccording to a 2010 World Health Organization report, nearly all of that country’s inhabitants (95 percent) are overweight.

Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie

Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie

I haven’t suddenly become the nation’s fat police – far from it – but I do think it’s interesting to hear Dustin Hoffman’s thoughts about how women feel and relate those feelings to obesity. Our culture clearly worships youth and beauty, and to be considered beautiful, one must be thin. Since nearly one third of us are not in that category, we have an epidemic of women who think they’re ugly. Hoffman’s tears that he was as beautiful as he could be made to be in the film Tootsie speak to that ugly inner me. I have been told many times that I am beautiful, but I have never believed it, because I don’t look like the models in the magazines or the actresses on television. I confess that I hate having my picture made now, and I don’t like my older reflection in the mirror. For the first time in my life, I find myself wishing I were young again – thin and beautiful. My daughters are beautiful, but I hear them turn aside compliments the same way I have for many years. They don’t think they’re beautiful either. I guess we have to see the beauty ourselves before we believe what anyone else says.

Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice

Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice

When Sophie’s Choice came out in 1982, actress Meryl Streep said that she wished she was beautiful. She felt that she was not lovely enough to do her character the justice she deserved. Streep won an Oscar for that film, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t fully satisfying. She didn’t meet the modern criteria for a high standard of beauty.

I don’t expect any radical changes in the way our culture views beauty, but I think that’s a sad statement and a judgment concerning what we value. We place importance on what is not truly important, and many times, we ignore what is valuable.