Sunday, November 13, 2011

Movie update...

I've really been trying hard to watch as many movies as's an update. You know, if you can't come up with a movie to watch, I'd recommend you just read my list. It'll save you a lot of time at the Redbox. Although most of these movies you can't even find at Redbox, and maybe not even at the video store. My best source has been the library. You can't beat a free movie rental! I have been trying to watch them in order but I've had to order some from other libraries and sometimes I just had to skip ahead because I was at a friend's house or my parent's house and I didn't have an old movie with me.

The Best Years of our Lives, 1946
This is a nice story about 3 men returning home from World War II. It follows the struggles they have reintegrating into their families and society. Funny, sweet, and at times sad, although it had a happy ending. It seems to me like at this time, Hollywood was beginning to tackle awkward or uncomfortable topics, but was still trying to gloss over them at the same time, if that makes sense. Lots of good looking men in this movie. My rating: ***

Gentleman's Agreement, 1947
A reporter decides to go undercover as a Jewish man, to write a story about the discrimination Jews faced in post-World War II America. Another example of Hollywood tackling a touchy subject. Nice movie, and Gregory Peck (the leading actor) is steamy! My rating: ***

An American in Paris, 1951
Featuring Gene Kelly, this movie was part movie, part musical. Gene Kelly has a wonderful voice and is a phenomenal dancer, so there was a lot of both of those in the story. He's an ex-GI living in Paris and falls in love with a woman who's engaged to someone else. Decent movie, stunning colors (I had been watching all black and white movies up till now!) The 15 minute long song and dance feature at the end was very odd. Overall, I've seen better. My rating: **

Million Dollar Baby, 2004
Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood star. They train Hilary Swank to be an award-winning boxer. I never saw this movie because I don't like Hilary Swank, and I still don't. She's ugly in this movie and has a terrible Oklahoma-redneck accent. I have to say, though, it was a good story and I was shocked at what happened at her last fight. I truly didn't see it coming. I would recommend this movie, as long as you can get over Hilary Swank's accent and Clint Eastwood's rougher-than-gravel voice. My rating: ****

The King's Speech, 2010
I saw this in theaters and loved it, and I still love it after seeing it for a second time. Colin Firth does a phenomenal job as the stuttering King George VI in pre-World War II England. It's heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time to see his struggles and ultimate triumph. My rating *****

Friday, November 4, 2011

November's Challenge:

My challenge for this wonderful month is to watch every movie that has won a Best Picture Oscar. My good friend Laura Lobner and I attempted this while we were in high school, starting at the very beginning (1928). We made it through 1943. The first few movies were hilarious (and super boring) because no one quite had the idea of what a movie should be, so they had no plot. There was also no speaking. Within a few years, they had progressed to words written on the screen, and plots were starting to develop. I will honestly say I think the first movie that really got it right was Gone With the Wind in 1939. I am biased, though, since that's my favorite book/movie. Anyway, since the majority of the early winners were such sleepers, I decided to take up where Laura and I left off all those years ago. Yesterday I began with Going my Way and The Lost Weekend.

Going my Way, 1944
Bing Crosby is really handsome in this movie and his singing is dreamy. The plot is okay, but the movie still relies heavily on the use of a character who exists as seemingly the "town fool", someone to provide comedic relief. Bing is a Catholic priest sent to make changes in a parish, and he meets with a lot of opposition as well as makes some positive changes. My rating: ** (that's 2 stars)

The Lost Weekend, 1945
This stars people I'd never heard of. It's about an alcoholic and his battles with his alcoholism. According to the movie jacket, no one though this movie would go far because it was too serious and accurate in its reflection of the disease. I thought it was boring and the music was so "suspenseful" that it drove my neighbor Amber (who was watching with me) crazy. It's so hard to compare what was the "best movie of the year" with what wins the Oscar now a days. They are just so different! My rating: **

Museum 6: Manitowoc County Historical Society

After I was underwhelmed at the Rahr-West I headed over to the MCHS museum. I've driven past this place for years but never went inside. It's across from Evergreen Cemetery near the Aquatic Center in Manitowoc in an old school that used to be the Manitowoc Normal School, a training school for teachers. I enjoyed this museum. It was small, but had a nice exhibit about Manitowoc's past, including an exhibit about a man who was an acrobat from Manitowoc and joined Ringling Brother's Circus and operated his own acrobat school. The part I liked the most was the upstairs, where they have a genealogy research library. I have a distant relative who came to Wisconsin through Manitowoc, so I'm looking forward to returning there and having a volunteer hopefully help me uncover some information about my ancestor! This museum was small, but it's nice. The Historical Society also operates Pinecrest Village, which is another museum (it's actually a collection of buildings) but I didn't make it there before they closed for the season.

Overall, I did okay on my goal. I didn't get to the Farm Museum or the Washington Historical House in Two Rivers. I didn't get to Pinecrest Historical Village either. I'm told there's a car museum by Meadow Lanes West in Manitowoc but no one's quite sure if it's still there, and I didn't get over there to find out. I think, other than that, I hit all the museums. I'm most glad that I went to the Maritime Museum. I really didn't think it would be quite as neat as it was. Thanks to Vicki Franko for suggesting the challenge!

Address: Corner of 18th and Michigan, Manitowoc
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 9-4
Would I recommend? Yes
Awesomeness level: 3
Time required: 30 minutes
Cost: $5 adults, $4 kids

Museum 5: Rahr-West Art Museum

I've been to the Rahr-West several times, but in the interest of fulfilling this challenge I went again. It's as disappointing as it's ever been. You can see from the picture that it is a big, elegant home. I love going in these old homes because they are always so gorgeous and I love to imagine myself living there. Not this house. They have one room that is set up as it looked back when the home was built, with period furniture, authentic wallpaper and carpeting, etc. It's very pretty, and exactly what I want to see when I visit a museum in an old house. But this is where the good stuff ends. The rest of the rooms have commercial-grade wallpaper on the walls and have a few paintings. There's no mention of what room you are in aside from the small brochure you receive at the front desk that tells you "Morning Room". However, the brochure then goes on to talk about the paintings, not about the original function of the room. The upstairs is even worse. The rooms that do not have the commercial-grade wallpaper have this hideous pattern from the early 1990's and again, the rooms are just used as displays for the exhibits. I guess what I'm trying to say is I feel the house should be what I'm there to see, not someone's collection of ivory.

Address: 610 N. 8th St, Manitowoc
Hours: 10-4 weekdays, 11-4 weekends
Would I recommend? If you like art
Awesomeness level: 2
Time required: 30 minutes if you don't spend a lot of time looking at paintings (which I don't)
Cost: Free, donations accepted