Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Yeah, I Liked It More Than The Avengers

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There, I said it…and I loved The Avengers! You all know my Loki love and I would put this film, The Winter Soldier, on top of my Marvel  movie list. Chris Evans, who I praised after seeing Captain America: The First Avenger, is the ideal performer for the role and reminds us, yet again, of this fact with his most recent, and evolved, portrayal of Steve Rogers – Captain America himself.

He is Captain America, dang it!

He is Captain America, dang it!

Now, The Winter Soldier has been in theaters for over a week, and I have no intention of giving any spoilers away here. I figure if you haven’t seen the film by now, you either are going to soon or have read/heard enough to know that a lot of things happen in this film that move towards Avengers 2. The Hail Hydra memes are a pretty big clue at any rate. What I would like to focus on is the story and what makes this movie the best of the Marvel films to date.

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Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock Bring “The Heat” Back to the Buddy Cop Genre

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My dear friend, co-conspirator, -blogger, and all around initiator of great ideas, D3Z, mentioned over dinner that she wanted to see the new comedy by the creators of Bridesmaids called The Heat. True to form, I had a moment of reluctance. Apparent to many of those close to me, this moment is my customary exhibition of what I like to refer to as “Resistance to Awesome.” To paraphrase what I was thinking in my moment of hesitation while watching the trailer: “Well… I
don’t usually like to laugh or have a good time at the movies. I may have really liked Bridesmaids and I may have only been waiting my WHOLE LIFE for a well-done buddy cop movie starring two strong female characters but…. I surely won’t like this obviously good time, right?!” Like I said, that was a bit paraphrased. All I have to say now is thank goodness I have friends with better instincts than my own or I’d never do anything worthwhile.

If I tell you The Heat is a buddy cop comedy brought to you by the director of Bridesmaids Paul Feig, written by the up and coming female writer Kate Dippold starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, I’ve pretty much told every child of the ’80s what they need to know to put a movie ticket and a box of overpriced popcorn in their hands. The Heat has gotten a lot of attention for gender bending the rules of the buddy cop genre and rightfully so. But what I really want to know is “What the Hell Took So Long?!!!”

It is the first buddy cop movie featuring two female leads I can think of. There is precedence on the small screen dating back to Cagney and Lacey and maybe Charlie’s Angels. Recently in comics, an all female teams has been coming into its own in Brian Wood’s The X-men and the team-up and friendship between Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and SpiderWoman (Jessica Drew) has been growing in popularity but even it is mostly within the context of The Avengers. Many female teams in popular literature, Nancy, Bess and Georg(ia), The Friday Society, The Finishing School are all well done but often restricted to young adult fiction.

One trope that we get to see a lot in buddy cop fiction is the “I would die for my law enforcement partner/queen/country/career/American Way” dynamic. Examples are rampant in Hot Fuzz, James Bond, my husband’s Warhammer Novels, and cowboy fiction. We also definitely get this in The Heat, no problem. However I don’t often find this quality in traditionally female literature. More often the female protagonist is fighting to save her love interest, child, or family in general, no doubt highly worthy motivators but this exclusivity is suggestive of a more worrisome disturbance in the female force. It’s almost if women are blatantly viewed, even in their own fiction, as people who, after puberty, can’t form the same bonds men do in bromances with other adult women. If that’s the case, it’s really really lame and disappointing and I for one would like to see this trend bucked further in the future.

Finally, one obvious reason we haven’t previously gender bent the buddy cop genre is ridiculously simple: Hollywood doesn’t like to mess with moneymaking formulas. They do not believe women (or men) are willing to pay to see strong female characters not driven by family or romance in an action setting on the big screen. While it pains me to tell you to continue feeding money to a broken machine, the best advice I can give on how to generate more movies like this one is to go, pay the money, eat the overpriced popcorn. But then come home and open the dialogue. Tell them with money and buzz what we want to see. And don’t forget to let me know in the comments what you thought and to recommend any movies, books, or graphic novels that contradict my sweeping generalization of women’s lit because I would love to be more wrong than I think I am.

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Classical Romances and knitting

Lately I have been indulging in some romantic movies! (don’t judge me, everyone enjoys a good romance, I’m just not afraid to admit it!) these aren’t just any romance movies though, I have been watching the classics. Amongst them are: Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson, Kate winslet, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman) Much Ado About nothing (also has Emma Thompson, she’s obviously pretty awesome, Kenneth Branaugh, Keanu reeves,Kate Beckinsale, Denzel Washington, and the amazing Michael Keaton!) Wuthering Heights (Tom Hardy, Andrew Lincoln)…and that’s all I think I’ll discuss before you get too bored. So before I talk about my awesome knitting, let me sum up romance as I have learned from these movies based off classical novels…if I was high class society, when I turned at least 17? Or I look pretty and able enough, I’m introduced into society A.K.A lots of men ranging from 20-infenity, then when one caught my fancy, I’d flirt or whatever it really doesn’t matter because if I has monies…they all love me! One asks me to marry him, he’s rich enough I oblige, and in a fortnight we will be wed! The cool thing about these classics though, is the heroine typically had a strong mind and they took a bit of a stand on their marriage, BUT! It’s a WAM BAM thank you ma’am deal….Me and Adam would have been married more than 8 years ago….eek! The only cool thing about these ladies lives is they get to read and be educated and learn music and sew and knit…

So onto my knitting escapades. I have been dabbling with some patterns trying to get in the groove of things, and I decided I needed a sleeve for my iPad case, and I found this amazing pattern on revelry (cabled iPad sleeve) and it is so much fun! Lots of cables but it’s not overwhelming, and the pattern works out fast. The neatest thing about this pattern is the way you cast omits done in a magic loop type deal where the bottom is knit closed from the start, so there’s no sewing at the end, which I think makes the sleeve seamless, and awesome! So here’s what I have so far!

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The Adventures of Tintin — In which the author overcomes great ignorance and is reminded of her love for pulp

“I seek above all to tell a story…and to tell it clearly.” -Hergé

Stephen Spielberg must have been chanting this mantra while directing his first animated film and homage to the pulp comic strip of the same name “The Adventures of Tintin.” Tintin, a gallant young reporter, and Snowy, his faithful canine sidekick, become entangled in a quest for treasure and redemption when they fortuitously purchase a clue-concealing model of the good ship Unicorn. The plot of the film was driven by action sequences  as quick, crisp, and convoluted as is expected in the pulp genre. Tintin makes for a fun hero who uses his wits, investigative instinct, and often his strong right hook to solve his problems.

Do not be mistaken. I held many prejudices, all of them as unfair and unfounded as prejudices tend to be, walking into the theater to see this movie. It was animated.There was an animated dog I assumed to be the main character (I mean really, what kind of name is Tintin? Of course it must be a dog’s name, I presumed.) And worst of all in my mind, it was attached to Nickelodeon.  Recalling my personal disappointment in and generally lukewarm feelings toward Nickelodeon’s movie adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, I arrogantly refused to place faith in the folks that introduced me to three engrossing seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender. How ignorant on all accounts.

My husband did not understand my reluctance. “It’s kind of like if Superman comics were told from the perspective of Jimmy Olsen.” And he was kind of right. Instead of a character traditionally driven only by his reaction to a greater being’s initiative and orders, Tintin catalyzes all of the action. From his impulsive purchase of a model ship concealing clues to pirate’s treasure to his uncanny ability to know who to punch when, the storyline progresses like a freight train. In contrast to modern action icons who tend to be portrayed as more rugged (think Daniel Craig as James Bond) was a little jolting to see such a baby-faced hero pull a gun so instinctively, but it was appropriate to the source material. There were other nods to Herge including framed newspaper articles detailing Tintin’s adventures from the comics and the use of Herge’s likeness to depict the caricaturist in the opening of the film. From these tributes and the preservation of the spirit of pulp adventure, it was evident that Spielberg, Wright, and others working on the film were fans of the source material.

I ended up loving the animation in the film and the convoluted plot of the story. I have had a long time appreciation of pulp elements in book series including Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, classics like Around the World in Eighty Days, and television shows such as The Lost World. Of course the appreciation depends on not demanding too much from the genre. Pulp adventure is not particularly known for character development, so don’t expect too much here and you’ll never miss it. If you like pulp adventure, globe hopping, and quests for treasure, or as Brad put it “an hour and a half long episode of Duck Tales,” you should make a point to see The Adventures of Tintin. Or in the words of Thompson and Thompson: To be more precise, you should make a point to see The Adventures of Tintin.

It’s been a while…

Shirt I'm using for new artwork

Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down to write or do anything beyond go to school, teach, coach, come home, but I’m trying to get back on track.  Hopefully, if I can get my mind to where I want to be my life will get back to where I want it to be (I hope that makes sense to you reader…sometimes I believe I’m making perfect sense when really, I’m not).  But I’m getting off topic….

I really want to work with the idea of using t-shirts as a base for paintings that don’t reflect my family or friends, like most of my art does.  I’m starting off with a Darth Vader shirt with the words “The Empire Wants You” written in red across the front.  My goal is to use gesso to attach the shirt to a piece of plywood (instead of canvas) and then paint a scene around it based on the t-shirt used.  Now, this isn’t a one-off deal – I have many t-shirts that I can use for some pretty neat paintings.  Yes, I have a confession to make: I’m a t-shirt junkie.

I LOVE fun t-shirts.  Comic shirts, Star Wars shirts, Monty Python shirts, University of Kentucky shirts, movie shirts – I LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  I wear them under my “work” shirts (aka: button up).  Being an Art teacher, I get a little leeway.  It also doesn’t hurt that the most awesome principal ever, Mark Leet, is a Star Wars fan and doesn’t think my Boba Fett hoodie is a problem.  ANYWAYS….

I’m using the t-shirts that I know I need to clean out of my closet BUT can’t really give away.  I’m sorry to those of you who wait knowing I’ll eventually clean out my closet – I’M KEEPING THEM ALL!!!! hahahahahahaha!

This is ONE of my shirts

Sorry.  That wasn’t very mature.  I’m just excited about this new project – a new start on something.  Now, despite my depression about things beyond my control, I haven’t been completely out of the loop or trapped in my Dark Hole of Questioning My Future.”  Besides time with family, friends, and good, quality time with Doug, I’ve been coaching a 6th grade boys basketball team AND patiently waiting for The Muppets.

If you are not aware that there is a new Muppet movie out there in the world – THERE IS A NEW MUPPET MOVIEOUT NOW!!!

To be Amy Adams in this film....*sigh*

It is a blast!  Written by Jason Segel (who also stars as Gary) and Nicholas Stoller, the movie is, in brief, about a young Muppet Walter who, with his brother Gary and Gary’s girlfriend Mary, go to L.A., discover an evil plot to destroy the Muppet studios, and help round-up the original Muppet lineup to do a telethon to save the studios.  There are many cameos (Jack Black’s is awesome but Dave Grohl’s is my favorite) and the story is very self-aware.  I love the fact that while the film acknowledges that the Muppets are popular with an older generation (the now 30 year olds of while I’m included) and that television is not as wholesome as it once was, it shows that funny is funny.  The Muppets are FUNNY and this movie is well worth the watch for ANY generation.  It would probably be great for as many younger children to watch it as well.  Still, that’s only my opinion and while I’m not an expert….it’s the Muppets! (PS: Chris Cooper is AWESOME as the villain)

Thank you all for your patience and understanding with the lack of posting on my part.  I’m trying to swim out of my pool of self-pity and doing some art for myself and not for teaching or the hallways (Christmas decorations for the main hallway is KILLING ME!) is my life saver.  Still, I appreciate the support of my family, friends, and Doug.  No matter what, I know I’m loved and at the end of the day, that’s good enough for me – and more than I ever expect.

Now, GO WATCH THE MUPPETS and if you see Jason Segel out there somewhere in the world please tell him Staci Gilliam said “hi.”

A 99.9% Chance You’ll Like This Film

I just love the tag line - that's part of what sold me on seeing this film

I’m a nail biter and yes, I realize it’s a disgusting habit that I should quit.  I really only do it when I’m nervous…it just happens that I’m nervous an awful lot of the time (especially of late).  So, when a movie starts with a main character who just happens to be a nail biter as well, I’m interested.  That’s how the movie, 50/50, began for me this evening.

Initially I wanted to see this film because I had heard it received good reviews and I happen to enjoy the work of both Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon Levitt.  I didn’t know much more about it than it was a dramedy that was based on someone’s life (Seth Rogen’s friend, and writer of the film, Will Reiser) and battle with cancer.  Yes, it’s not your average, well-worn story – and it never feels that way.  It feels exceptionally real.  Okay, you could argue that “Staci, it’s based on real life events of course it seems real,” but a lot of movies based on real life events are easy to relate to.  This movie does and kudos are due to the cast for bringing a fantastic script to, for lack of a better work, life.

I haven’t felt this much of an emotional connection to a film in a really long time.  It is both funny, sad, and, at times, out right tragic.  Gordon-Levitt is phenomenal as the lead character and Seth Rogen is a wonderful counterpart.  Angelica Huston plays Adam’s (Gordon-Levitt) mom and does a wonderful job of being both overbearing and loving (things we adult children have to deal with from time to time).  In the end, it’s not just about one young man’s struggle with cancer – it’s about how he and his relationships evolve due to this unpredictable, unrelenting attack by the body against itself.

At the end of the day, just like with Art, it’s how we, the viewer relates to the image/story/piece.  We all bring so much of our own background/baggage to what we see.  When movies like this that are so realistic and so well done, it touches something that maybe we don’t even recognize – or want to recognize for that matter.  I have never had to deal with a close friend or family member having a 50/50 chance at surviving a disease that strikes without warning and doesn’t discriminate like cancer does.  Still, I have lost friends – I know what that is like.  I’ve lost family – watched them succumb to Parkinson’s and dementia.  Everyone has had some type of loss…we have also laughed with those that were sick….we have made bad jokes to ease the tension….we’ve all told them to look at the bright side…we’ve all LIVED with them.  Life is like that – good with bad.  All we can do is keep going forward and not give up – not on ourselves, not on each other.

At least that’s what I took from this film….. and while I can’t guarantee you’ll like this film – I think the majority of you out there will really dig it and feel a connection to it.

Go watch this film – take a friend to this film (a real friend, someone you can love whole heartedly but still acknowledge what an ass they can be from time to time) – and enjoy it   *SPOILER ALERT!!!! There is a happy ending which also happens in real life from time to time*

Here’s to living and loving…and maybe, MAYBE, not biting our nails any more.

Went in Afraid – Walked Out Impressed

He just looks like he's tired of our crap and really, I don't blame him.

Now, before I begin, I really am still working on my art, school lesson plans, and my desire to knit.  If should also be known that I went through a HUGE Planet of the Apes phase at the end of my high school years and the beginning of my university studies.  I distinctly remember walking through the W.T. Young library at the University of Kentucky searching the top most floors for this one, small book by Pierre Boulle thinking I was the only one on campus wanting it.  I was wrong.  Planet of the Apes was out BUT, I was also on an Alec Guinness/William Holden kick as well and was happy to see that the same author wrote The Bridge on the River Kwai.  So, I checked Bridge out, went back to my dorm and watched Planet of the Apes.  (as an aside, The Bridge on the River Kwai was a really good book, and movie – movie may be better –  and I highly recommend it – sadly, I’ve still not read Planet of the Apes).

With the release of The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I was, like many others (i.e. my friends) concerned about what they were going to do to a series I love.  I felt the familiar rise in my stomach that I get now every Star Wars – Original Trilogy – is released.  You know, the whole “what did they do now?!” moment that just hits you in the gut.  With the Planet of the Apes series, that came when Tim Burton did his big re-do of the original movie.  While I thought the way the apes were portrayed was interesting, it’s not a movie that when I see it on T.V. I get excited about – not like I still do about the original Planet of the Apes…or Escape From the Planet of the Apes...heck, even Conquest of the Planet of the Apes!  Okay, I like all of the Planet of the Apes movies.  They are good watches that reflect the time period they were filmed in – late 60’s early 70’s America.  It doesn’t hurt that I love Roddy McDowall and have loved him in film since How Green Was My Valley – but I digress.

I’m happy to report that not only did Rise of the Planet of the Apes go above my expectations, it was a really, REALLY, good film.  James Franco does a wonderful job of playing the scientist searching for a cure to Alzheimer’s, a disease that his father is affected by, that has to take in a baby chimpanzee after its mother is killed trying to protect said baby.  That baby chimp is Caesar.  Caesar was exposed to the drug that Franco’s character is wanting to begin human trials with because no one realized that Bright Eyes (a reference to the nickname given to Charlton Heston’s character Taylor in the original PoA) was pregnant.  Due to this exposure, Caesar is extremely intelligent and learns at a rate higher than his human counterparts.

Now, I don’t want to give the film away.  I really just want everyone to know that this movie is worth your time and it will not poo on your memories of the original Planet of the Apes series.  The most impressive thing, to me, was believing in the characters – ape and human both – and believing in the possibility.  The plot isn’t ridiculous and the way the rise is explained was interesting.  It really made you think as a movie goer and I appreciated that.  It really has stuck with me all day today and I’d like to see it again.  Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, there are some references to the original movie, including the famous “Get your paws off me you damn dirty ape!,” but most were subtle and if you weren’t paying attention you might miss them (look for the Statue of Liberty reference – it was my favorite).

This scene broke my heart.

Now, go out there an enjoy some Planet of the Apes fun.  Whether it’s the original series or this new take on a great idea, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed….unless you watch the Tim Burton one…that one went to some weird places.  OH! Tom Felton, yeah, Malfoy, was good in the film as well.  That being said – Goodnight!

Quick question:  Why is Brian Cox so good at playing a complete ass?  Just wondering.

For the Love of Bruce Campbell and The Fall of Sam Axe

Hail to the King, baby!

This is the third time I’ve tried to write this review. Every time I’ve started it, I’ve spent paragraph after paragraph writing about why I think Bruce Campbell is not only a talented actor, but a Renaissance man (writer, director, producer, a whole lot of AWESOME). Whether it’s his books (If Chins Could Kill: The Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, Make Love: the Bruce Campbell Way), his movies (The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Bubba Ho-Tep, My Name is Bruce) , or his television shows (The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Jack of All Trades, Burn Notice) you can always count on Bruce Campbell to be spectacular. He can play over the top or subtle, sympathetic or abrasive, but he is always good at what he does. The material might not always be the best (Alien Apocalypse) but he is always fun (Alien Apocalypse).

Now, I’m not going to write a brief bio on Mr. Campbell mainly because I can’t. I start talking about first reading his book, If Chins Could Kill, and becoming a fan. I’ll mention how I got to meet him at a book signing in Lexington, KY where he was funny, kind to all of his fans, and took a moment to talk to me. That’s what made me a HUGE fan, the fan I am today. He could have just signed my book, sent me on my way. Instead, he noticed my University of Kentucky sweatshirt and asked me about my major. When I answered, “I’ll be declaring in Electrical Engineering in the spring” he said “well la-dee-dah” promptly followed by words of encouragement, and a thank you. He wasn’t mean, he wasn’t standoff-ish, he was a really nice man who took a moment to banter with a nervous, and embarrassed to be so, 20-year-old girl. It was the best night ever and made Bruce Campbell my favorite actor of all time (Cary Grant a close second)!

Mr. C at a book signing..not my book signing, but similar

After that, I haven’t been able to get enough Bruce Campbell in my life. I own the box sets of the T.V. shows he has starred in (I don’t count Xena or Hercules, though they are fun as well), as well as his movies – a whole bunch of them. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the real reason to watch Spiderman 3 (he’s a French maitre ‘d and hilarious). He’s also the reason I started watching Burn Notice 5 seasons ago. The fact that it’s a great show with a wonderful cast, and what I consider a pretty unique story-line, has made it something I enjoy watching – aside from the Campbell factor of course.

That being said, let’s talk about Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe. This is a prequel to the Burn Notice story line that follows Bruce Campbell’s character, Sam Axe, and explains to the viewers how he ends up out of the Navy SEALS and in Miami where Burn Notice takes place. The synopsis, in brief, is that Sam gets in trouble for sleeping with the wrong man’s wife. Because of this, he is sent to find a terrorist group in the jungles of South America. Only, once there, he discovers that things may not be the way them seem on paper. Sam then has to decide how to help those in need and get everyone, including himself, out alive.

It’s a fun movie directed by Jeffrey Donovan (Michael Weston, Burn Notice) and written by Matt Nix (creator of Burn Notice). Sam is an extremely popular character and there is no doubt that this is owed to Bruce Campbell. With the action, there is a lot of humor – some of it at Bruce Campbell’s cult status’ expense ( he throws a chainsaw while saying something along the lines of “groovy – like his character Ash from Evil Dead/Army of Darkness). It’s nice to see his character stick to what he knows is right and turn the system on itself. Are there some cheesy lines? Sure, but that’s part of the charm of the Sam Axe character. He’s a badass! He could kill you with his hands, build a bomb out of left over parts, and, if he wanted to, he could bring the mountain down on your head. Still, he doesn’t. He doesn’t blindly follow orders, he does what he KNOWS to be right, and he does it all while showing that he’s human – bad jokes, making mistakes and owning up to them, asking for help, all of it. That’s why I love the character. That’s why I love the show. That’s why I love the movie. It’s not because it’s got the biggest budget, or the best dialogue ever, but it has a fun story that is relatable to. We all have moments where we mess up, say a great one liner, say a bad one liner, help someone, don’t help someone – Sam Axe can be all of those things. He’s not a super man, he’s just a man who occasionally does something super.

Will everyone love this movie? No, but what movie is beloved by everyone? It’s a lot of fun, it’s an engaging story with great characters, and Bruce Campbell doing what he does best – a little bit of everything. I bought my copy at Wal-Mart for $15.00, but it’s available at USA Networks, Amazon, probably a bunch of other places too. So, enjoy getting to know Sam Axe and I would suggest getting to know Bruce Campbell – as much as he’ll let us know him – as well.

L-R: Bruce Campbell and Michael Donovan

Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe

Goodbye Johnny Storm…Hello Captain America!

I was going to write this last night as soon as I got home, but I thought it best that I sleep on it and not write, “Whoo! This movie was awesome and everyone should go see it!”  I still feel like I could write the previous statement and not be wrong, but I owe it to the film to be a little more specific.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you another synopsis, or break the film down.  That’s not my job and I wouldn’t want to take away from the flick in any form or fashion.  Instead, I thought I’d take a minute to tell you what I thought were a few of the highlights, especially with regards to what I consider the art of the film.

First off, this is a fun, action packed film and Chris Evans, I tip my hat to you especially.  When Mr. Evans played Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four films, I liked him, but I didn’t really get into the films that much.  It really didn’t have much to do with the actors (except for maybe Jessica Alba, but I digress…), I just didn’t get into it.  Fast forward a few years, and the creation of Marvel Studios, and I’ve been hooked since Iron Man.  In fact, despite Iron Man 2 not being as awesome as Iron Man – but still pretty good – I’ve not been really disappointed in a Marvel film to date.

Chris Evans deserves a lot of credit for what he did with Captain America.  He played him earnestly and just how I have imagined Cap’ to be: a good man trying to do what he believes to be right in a world that’s in the throes of chaos and change.  The effects are fantastic!  The fact that they actually shrunk Mr. Evans to allow him to play Steve Rogers prior to the Super Solider Serum test is amazing.  Originally, they were going to use a small body double and add Mr. Evans’ head later – kinda like they did with Jeff Bridges for CLU in Tron: Legacy, but when they saw it wasn’t going to work, they improvised.  It was the best decision because, at least for me, I believed in his transformation from a small man to, well, a super solider.  In the same vein that I now see Iron Man as Robert Downey, Jr (and no one else because RDJ is spectacular!), Captain America can be no one else but Chris Evans.

Have no doubt, the supporting cast is superb as well.  Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving, Haley Atwell, Dominic Cooper,  – they all deserve credit for rounding out the film and giving it humor, heart, and suspense.  Hugo Weaving is great as a villain – has been since he played Mr. Smith in the Matrix trilogy – and there couldn’t have been a better choice for the Red Skull.

Tommy Lee Jones in the War Room

Hugo Weaving - all Red Skull like

Stanley Tucci - the kind doctor

Yes, I probably could go on, and on, about this film and just how great of a job I thought Chris Evans did.  Still, it was the little references to things throughout the film that really surprised me.  I especially love that they put Cap’ on a Bond tour, show clips from actual news reel footage, and really create a 1940’s feel throughout the film.   I have a soft spot for propaganda art, and the end credits design is based entirely on such posters – which is a lot of fun.  Heck, they use Cap’ as propaganda by putting him on a Bond tour, having him make films showing American’s winning battles, and they even included the 1st comic that Cap was seen in.  Yes, he was punching Hitler and yes, it came out in news-stands PRIOR to the U.S. entering WWII (fact!).

I guess I really liked that, not only was it a WWII film, but it seemed like a WWII film that could have been made in the 1940’s.  There were no ambiguous good guys (like the Inglorious Bastards) or sympathetic baddies.  It was good guys vs. bad guys.  Very black and white, which is the way I believe Captain America sees the world….that is, until recently but that’s a whole other thing.

I hope you’ll go watch the film.  I realize that this really isn’t much of a review, and I’m probably rambling a bit.  It kinda stuck with me all night and I’m still giddy about it.  If nothing else, it was entertaining and a great story.  As with all of the Marvel movies, stay after the credits to see what’s coming our way.  On this note, I’ll thank the cast and crew that made this film, and a really big thanks to Chris Evans – I knew you could do it!

Captain America – I’m excited about this film!

Punching Hitler - all in a day's work

With the upcoming Captain America movie premiering this week, I thought it would be a great time to tell you how excited I am about this film.  Not only is this movie about one of the most beloved characters in comic book lore, but it’s a WWII movie!  Not a Michael Bay version of Tora! Tora! Tora!, but a real WWII movie full of America’s number one solider punching Nazis and being badass.

For those not familiar with Captain America: The First Avenger plot, I’ll give it to you in brief as I believe it to be.  Steve Rogers is a weak young man.  He’s been rejected by the Army numerous times.  Finally, he’s allowed to join, but on the condition that he is to be a part of an experiment.  The result of that experiment is that Steve Rogers becomes a super solider!  The serum works – lets pump everyone up with this right?  No.  Something goes wrong, things that I don’t want to go into happen, and the super solider serum is gone.  We are left with Captain America and a war to win.  The mysterious Red Skull and HYDRA play a part in the film I’m sure ( I mean, how can they not!  Red Skull is on the poster and trailer..He’s Capt’s arch-enemy – craziness…)  Anyways, that’s my take on it, and I can not wait to watch it on Thursday night!

So, in honor of the release of Captain America: The First Avenger, I’ve decided to showcase three films set in, or around, WWII.  These films may not be well-known to you, which is why I chose them, but they are wonderful and are really worth the watch.

Hope you enjoy!

The Great Dictator (1940) is really Charlie Chaplin mocking Hitler before the United State’s entrance into WWII.   This film is both funny – there is a Prince and the Pauper flair to it – and moving.  The final speech the character makes gives me chills (even when Robert Downey, Jr. gave it in the film Chaplin).

Here is a link to the final scene – check it out, play it in the background http://youtu.be/45BotfjfGpE

The Hill (1965), looks at an aspect of war I know I never really think of, the prison camp.  Now, I don’t mean Stalag 17 type of prison camp where it’s enemy soldiers guarding our boys as they plan their escape.  I’m talking where our own are kept for crimes committed while on duty or in uniform.  The Hill takes place at a British prison camp in North Africa.  Sean Connery is fantastic as Joe Roberts, a man who refused orders to run headlong into enemy fire.  The dynamic between the prisoners and their guards – all soldiers in the same army – is interesting and, at time, tragic.

Mister Roberts (1955), like the most successful films, blends tragedy with comedy.  It is a very humorous film that focuses on a ship that is not in the thick of things and an officer that so badly wants to be.  The captain is tyrannical and is constantly undermined by “Mister Roberts.”  The interaction between the characters is wonderfully done and the cast is spectacular.

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