Saturday, December 31, 2011

Movie Review: The Adventures of Tintin (2011) - PG

Young reporter Tintin obtains a model ship which contains part of the secret to the location of a sunken treasure.  On this search, he is accompanied by his dog snowy, and Captain Haddock.  They are helped by the bumbling detectives Thompson and Thomson, and pursued by Ivan Ivanovitch.

The search takes them halfway around the world, and there is a lot more adventure than you'd expect in an animated film.

The animation is superb, and it's easy to forget the characters are not real people.

The story is more complex than expected,  but not too much so for kids to enjoy.  My nephews, ages 11-14. really enjoyed it.

A very good, enjoyable family film.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Movie Review: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - PG13

Ethan Hunt and the IMF are framed for a bombing of the Kremlin and  disavowed by the President, who invokes "ghost protocol".  Now they have a dual mission:  to clear their name, and stop a madman terrorist from launching a nuclear missile and starting a war.
The acting is top motch, especially Tom Cruise and Michael Nyqvist (who is quickly becoming a favorite of mine).

A very engaging plot and intense action scenes.  Several plot twists add to the excitement.

Warnings include some language and violence.

2 words:  SEE IT!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Win a DVD/Blu-ray copy of "Dolphin Tale"

Christmas giveaway, leave a comment below to  be entered in our "Dolphin Tale" giveaway.
 Read the review of this fine family film here.

Review of "A Dolphin Tale"

If you are looking for that elusive film which the entire family can watch without scandalizing Mom or boring the teens, look no further. "A Dolphin Tale" is wholesome family fare with an inspired theme. I was raised on "The Wonderful World of Disney" on Sunday evenings, so I know a good animal story when I see one, but "A Dolphin Tale" is more than just that. It combines inspirational human stories times that of Winter, the dolphin who was found on the Florida beach near death, tied up in ropes for a crab trap.
 Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) is a middle school boy living alone with his single mother, is upset to be stuck in summer school at the same time his role model, his cousin Kyle (Austin Stowell) is leaving for a tour of duty in Iraq. Life has given Sawyer precious little to care about, and now he's losing his best friend.

Riding his bike along the beach to school, Sawyer sees a fisherman calling for help after discovering a dolphin beached on the shore with its tail entangled in the lines of a crab trap. Sawyer calls for help and while awaiting the ambulance, forms a bond with the dolphin, who communicates with him. He is disappointed that their relationship is abruptly ended by the ambulance's departure, however, when he walks into the Marine Rescue Center, he meets Hazel ( Cozi Zuehlsdorff) the girl on the ambulance, again and she sneaks him into the pool where  her father Dr Clay Haskett's ( Harry Connick Jr) is supervising her rehabilitation. Hazel notices Sawyer's unusual bond with the dolphin she named Winter and convinces her father that this may be Winter's last hope to pull through her ordeal. What she doesn't realize is that her father's hospital is also on life support, and a miracle is needed or Winter will be homeless.
What touches the heart in this film is the parallel between Kyle's ordeal when he is wounded in Iraq and faces losing his future as an Olympic swimmer, and that of Winter whose life depends upon her accepting a prosthetic tail. Many disabled children have drawn hope from this uplifting and true story. Delightful  acting from Morgan Freeman as Dr Cameron McCarthy, the Veteran's Hospital doctor who give wounded soldiers a second chance.

.The entire family watched it together, and look forward to seeing it again.
No nudity, innuendo or foul language.

You can purchase the film on Blu-ray or DVD here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review of "Motherhood Matters" by Dorothy Pilarski

“I can pay somebody to do your job” I was once told by a family member, reducing my vocation as mother to a low-wage job of combined babysitter and housekeeper. I was devastated by that comment, replying, “Sure, anyone can do laundry and cook. They can even watch my children and keep them fed, warm and safe. But no one can be their mother but me.” I believe in the value of my vocation to mother my four girls with all my heart, and have happily dedicated the past 20 years to it, yet I know all too well, that to hold such a belief is swimming against a strong current of popular opinion these days. Opinion which says that motherhood is overrated, antiquated, and even oppressive. There are countless movies and TV shows about overbearing mothers, but you rarely see a show about the pain caused by absent moms. About children who cry at naptime in daycare for mommy, learning to self-soothe at way too tender ages. I saw it for years as a home day care provider. Where was mom? Sometimes, she had no choice, but too often she was out ‘fulfilling herself’, contributing to the family income, not ‘wasting time’ at home. One mother of two preschoolers admitted she preferred a low paid position as a bank officer to staying home with her boys. She made no money beyond daycare expenses, and hardly saw her two delightfully boisterous boys awake. She had no idea what she was missing.

 Dorothy Pilarski does.  Her book, “Motherhood Matters” is a warm-hearted, encouraging conversation about this vital issue. Motherhood Matters” is a series of essays, quotes, prayers, and letters from a woman who has been on both sides of this issue. Dorothy Pilarski has a staggeringly successful career as a businesswoman, motivational speaker, ministry leader, saleswoman, and TV show host. She has also a devout Catholic mother to a son and a daughter, and she knows which is more important.
If you have had attacks on the value of being a stay-at-home mom, or feel guilty for only working part time so you can be home when your children walk in the door from school, this book will act like a tonic on your soul. It will reaffirm your decision to honor the vocation you took on when you gave life to your babies, and heal your heart from the barbs you receive from those who don’t value your vocation. If you are working full time and doing the bare minimum raising your children, as I did, teaching school for a year when my oldest was a toddler, this book will reawaken your inner yearning to be a full time mother, and help you find the courage to explain to your spouse why motherhood matters.
Pilarski offers advice on raising your children to be passionate Catholics. She offers practical, time-tested hints on how to get your children to attend daily Mass with you, think Catholicism is cool, or pray the rosary as a family. “Motherhood Matters” is precisely what the Catholic mother needs; a reminder of her irreplaceable role as first teacher of her small children, and role model of our powerful Catholic faith, challenging teenagers to see themselves as part of the Church.
 Pilarski wasn’t always an advocate for devotion to motherhood; before she was married, she thought there was nothing better than jet setting all over the world on business. An encounter with a mom of many at the Honolulu Zoo opened her eyes, “Call it providence. Gwen helped me see how jet-setting from one city to another was robbing me of something very important. While standing in front of large audience required courage, it didn’t require as much courage as dedicating your life to marriage and children.”
Some women bristle at taking advice on mothering, but Pilarski’s disarming humility, her stories about her own faults and need for confession show that her intent is to mentor not to lecture. I particularly enjoyed the story of the lamp she bought on impulse, hiding the cost from her husband because she just had to have it.  Eventually she had to agree with her family that it was ugly, consigning it to the basement, where it serves as a lesson that we don’t have to give in to every desire. Such a humble, loving and good-humored teacher as Dorothy Pilarski can mentor me any day!
“Motherhood Matters” reads like a bit like a blog, with somewhat of a disconnected flow between stories. This is why I found it helpful to read it a couple of entries at a time, as an evening meditation, to make the most of the spiritual richness and say the unique prayers specially written for mothers. Each reading becomes a mini-retreat, and I found myself wanting to write a prayer journal of the reflections it inspired.
Pilarski relates stories times she followed the promptings of the Holy Spirit to connect with people in her daily life, from neighbors watering their gardens while she is out walking, to well-dressed, lonely women wandering the mall, to a bishop from the Philippines who needed a church to say Holy Mass. She has deep commitment to evangelize, a zeal for souls, and a generous heart to love others as Christ.  The mission of her women’s groups, her TV show on Canadian “Salt & Light” network, and her book is simple;

                      “We need a new generation of valiant, energetic, passionate women that will do whatever it takes to mother their own children—women who refuse to broker their children into the care of others, women who do not want to see their babies in their early years on a webcam. I am talking about women who will storm heaven and Earth to stay at home with their children.”

                        Give “Motherhood Matters” to your favorite mother this Christmas, but keep one for yourself. Keep in at your bedside for inspiration on those days when you feel like it’s not worth it to stay home, a paid babysitter would do just as well.

You can purchase Motherhood Matters and read Dorothy's blog at Gutsy Catholic Mom.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Review: Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure!

It's winter, and the winter snow  inspires Cooper and his friend Bella to go sleigh riding on a toboggan. 
They are having lots of fun, until they get lost.   Importantly, they stay together until another friend helps them find their way home.
An entertaining story with an important lesson for kids, teaching them what to do if they get lost, and also the importance of friends helping each other.
A very good book  :)
“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it
on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Movie Review: HUGO - PG

Hugo is an orphan living secretly in a Paris train station.  He keeps the big clock working, and he is very skilled at fixing things.  He is also  trying to unlock a secret left by his father.
This is a very difficult movie to review:  I found the first half of the movie very difficult to watch.  I was appalled at how cruel several adults were toward Hugo.  However, the second half was quite different, redeeming itself by the good that Hugo's quest brings about, and how he impacts the lives of others, changing them  in a very positive way.   
The special effects were pretty good, and there were a few very tense scenes, but the fact that the camera was too close-up on adult's faces at times, while probably done for an intimidating effect, only gave it a creepiness.
I did not care at all for how the story was told, but I acknowledge that the story itself is a worthwhile one.  Also, I took my two nephews, almost 14, and they enjoyed it.