More summer viewing: Mystery Series

Although this blog is mainly about movies, I can think of a few British television series that have full-length episodes that I would consider films! They usually run around 90 minutes. So I suppose it might be a short film.

One of my favorites (and I have quite a few!) is the Midsomer Murders series. Midsomer Murders is the classic small-town police procedural and there is always a murder as the title suggests. I’ve been watching this series ever since the beginning but I prefer purchasing the DVDs so I don’t have to deal with the TV commercials or “adverts” as the British call them. That way I can view them in the comfort of my home and with subtitles. The British have their own speech dialect which can be confusing if you’re not used to it. And if you’re trying to find out who the murderer is, you need to follow closely.

Midsomer Murders has been on the air since 1997 and is based on Caroline Graham’s Chief Inspector Barnaby book series. The TV series was originally adapted by Anthony Horowitz and as of 18 January 2017, 114 episodes have been broadcast, comprising 19 series. I recently saw Series 19 (Part 1) and I’m looking forward  to Part 2.

If you love mysteries and especially those that involve a murder, this is an excellent one to get you started. Not only will you see murder from the British point of view but you get to see beautiful landscapes in the case of Midsomer Murders! What’s not to like? ~~LMMolina

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Summer Viewing

Since the summer recess started I’ve been watching a variety of movies. The Magnificent SevenPassengers, Hidden Figures, The Book of Life, and The Grand Budapest Hotel are just a few.   Not to mention the British and Australian series which I find highly entertaining: Rake, The Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley (this last one is still in process).

The action-packed remake of The Magnificent Seven is a must for those who love cowboy films. The casting is excellent and the one female role is a gutsy gal–not your typical damsel in distress. The gun-shooting scenes keep you on the edge of your seat! (PG13)

The story behind Passengers was something very unexpected. Can you imagine being stranded on a star ship?  The film also gives you a whole new take on the future of  space travel. What a ride! (PG13)

If ever there was a movie to inspire young women to study math and pursue a career in engineering,  Hidden Figures is THE film to watch. Truly inspirational! Loved it! (PG)

Everyone must write his own story is the message of The Book of Life.  It’s a beautiful film full of color and vibrant characters. Wonderful for the whole family! (PG)

An adult film abundant in dark humor, The Grand Budapest Hotel, takes you on a unique trip. It’s a period piece that includes a murder mystery (two of my favorite elements in a movie). (R)

Take your pick; there’s bound to be a film for you to watch in the comfort of your home. ~~LMMolina

Video Clip #20: “Mr. Mom”

Michael Keaton has been involved in drama films of late. But I remember his first films were in the genre of comedy. One of my favorites is his role in Mr. Mom (1983).  Directed by Stan Dragoti and written by John Hughes (of the Home Alone movies and The Breakfast Club), the film tells the story of a man who’s lost his job and assumes the role of a stay-at-home dad when his wife rejoins the work force. As a “mom,” he has no clue how to manage a home. It’s kind of silly at times, but that’s what makes it so funny.  In this scene, Keaton’s character becomes obsessed with daytime soap operas to the point where the house almost literally “falls apart”! It’s an old flick but an entertaining one for the entire family. ~~LMMolina

Movie Quote #20: “Groundhog Day”

“Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one yesterday.”

Bill Murray’s character (Phil Connors, a weatherman) in Groundhog Day (1993) makes this statement while trapped in a 24-hour cycle.  He takes advantage of this unusual situation. Makes you stop and wonder. What if this were possible? What would we do to right wrongs we’ve committed? Or maybe do just the opposite? Who knows how a person will act?

When I first watched this movie, I thought to myself: “This is weird! What a crazy idea for a movie!” But slowly it began to make sense. You’ve got to watch it several times to grasp the concept the director Harold Ramis was getting across to the audience.

It is a comedy and a fine one at that. The theme of time and how humans deal with it, never tires. ~~LMMolina

Movie Review #20: “War Horse”

As far as war movies go, I enjoyed this heart-warming story of a young man from Devon, England, (Albert) and his love for a horse (Joey) that is taken to war. We see the struggles of this fine animal through a 4-year war that leaves millions dead. What we see through this film is the use of horses to win a war through bitter ends.

The bucolic countryside we see contrast sharply with the scenes of the soldiers in trenches and the bitter fighting.  Some of the battles were epic and awe-inspiring!

When Albert as a wounded young soldier is reunited with Joey, we cannot help but feel moved. This is a story of love, patience, devotion and faithfulness among humans and horses.  It’s a film worth watching with the family. ~~LMMolina

Movie Review #19: “Spirited Away”

I watched this film for the first time with my students. I must admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The animation was unusually creative. I observed a lot of detail in the drawings.

If I were to compare this story to any others I’ve read or heard about, I think of Alice in Wonderland. We have many weird characters in a strange setting and a little girl trying to find her way back to the “normal” world with her family intact.

Several themes stand: hard work in life is necessary, family is important, greed is evil and a person must be true to oneself.  Themes that are traditional as they are enduring.

I have to hand it to the animator Hayao Miyazaki for a visually stunning piece of work! ~~LMMolina

Movie Quote #19: “The Devil Wears Prada”

“I’m just one stomach flu away from my goal weight.”

From the movie The Devil Wears Prada (2006), I found out that The National Science Teachers Association encourages biology and life sciences teachers to use this line to start a conversation about body image, nutrition and digestion among teenagers. Interesting! This film, starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep, focuses on body image and appearance in an entertaining way.  A must-see-film for teenage girls (and boys)! ~~LMMolina

Video Clip #19: “Some Like It Hot”

In England, women were never allowed to perform on stage until after 1660. The roles of women were played by young men or boys. When we watch a female performance played by an adult male, we tend to find it comedic. In this 1959 film, we see two male musicians masquerading as female musicians in order to escape from the mob after witnessing a murder. This black-and-white film won numerous awards in many categories. It’s a highly entertaining comedy starring well-known actors, among which is the famous Marilyn Monroe. A classic in its own right! ~~LMMolina