This month the book and movie are one in the same.
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. What a pleasant read. Not only is the play witty, but it is a testament to how great writing can truly be. What great character development! What a great view into history and morality of the time. I hope you will take the time to give it a read. One of my favorite lines: “He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man. He that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him.”
The movie is the same, as I mentioned. There are, I’m sure, many theater companies in many cities across the country who perform this play in a years time and that would of course be a fabulous way to see this story, but the movie I recommend is the Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson version released in 1993. This movie was filmed while the two were still married, and it is remarkable. Their banter is on par with the best of them. (Yes, I realize there is an out of place performance by a young Keanu Reeves, whom I actually really adore. Think Matrix. But he is on screen for less than ten minutes and only speaking for five, so we can forgive him this.) On the whole, it is a marvelous and enjoyable film adaptation.
And I’m back. I wanted to post in December, but truly that wasn’t going to happen and I was a fool for thinking it would. Though I try my hardest to keep the Holidays in check, I love it all so much that I over plan, over purchase, and over watch every classic Holiday Movie.
Now down to Business. My picks for this month are the same
Book: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This book is timeless. What a perfect piece of real, historical Americana. Alcott wrote a beautiful piece that feels real and not infused with the politics or morality oh her time as so many do as they write historical fiction. Yes, the book is said to be geared toward younger females, but the story is such that an adult male and female can benefit from the story, the ideals, and the lesson of staying true to yourself no matter what.
Movie: The same. Little Women. There are three notable versions of this movie that Hollywood has given us over the last century. The First was in 1933 and starred Kathrine Hepburn, whom I adore. However, that version of the movie is not my first recommendation. It is worth the watching because it has it’s moments, but I felt Jo’s character was not for Katherine and it never resonated with me. Another version, and one I do NOT recommend and NEVER will recommend is the movie produced in 1994. It starred Susan Sarandon, Wynona Ryder, Claire Danes, and even Christian Bale, whom I would trust in almost any film. That being said, I still will never recommend this movie. Yes, it had big Hollywood names, but that was all it had. The story was a gross overstep of the book and was infused with the exact political and moral climate of the time the movie was made. That is a no-no in historical fiction. It is truly not worth the rental fee. Finally, the version I will recommend and the point of this whole rant today: the 1949 version of Little Women starring June Allison as Jo, Janet Leigh as Meg, Elizabeth Taylor as Amy, Margaret O’Brien as Beth, and Peter Lawford as Laurie. All of these actors are amazing. I am a fan of each individually and collectively they created a timeless movie without the political rhetoric of 1949 of which there was plenty! Though the movie does not follow the book as closely as it could have, the overall theme is correct, the overall feeling is the same and I believe that if you never read the book, you would feel that you understood Alcott’s intent. Go rent this version. Or purchase your own copy. It is a wonderful movie for a snowy, winter night.
The book of the month for November is Anne of Green Gables. The kids and I read this book also for homeschool this month. What a beautiful story. The language is such that children must listen attentively. Though it is not as difficult and scripture or Shakespeare it takes a certain amount of allowance for phrases and dialogue that kids may not understand, but the story is wonderful and the worries of youth captured so perfectly. I recommend this good read!
The movie of the month is Singing in the Rain starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. This classic musical is one that holds serious nostalgia. When my dad bought our first VHS player in the 80’s, this movie was one of the first he bought and we watched it over and over and over again. We didn’t have cable television and sometimes there was just nothing on. Like seriously, I remember a couple of local channels being off the air. But we could pop in a musical like this and watch all the grandeur the Golden Age of Hollywood had to offer in this slight parody/ romantic comedy. If you have never seen the greatest musical ever made, buy it now!
The book of the month is an old children’s classic called “Toby Tyler: Ten weeks with the Circus” -by James Otis. I read this book to my children as part of our homeschool this month. It is rich in character description and a wonderful morals for children and adults. It taught gratitude, it cautioned against fraud and poor choices, and it taught how to deal with loss and feelings of helplessness. We enjoyed this book and I recommend it to children and adults alike.
The movie of the month is also for children. Since October with Halloween is pretty much a a month for children, I chose Mr. Toad, Ichabod Crane, and Peter and the Wolf – Disney classics from my childhood. My kids and I watch them every year at Halloween. Though Mr. Toad is not necessarily a Halloween movie, nor is Peter and the Wolf, they have their fearful moments and are a perfect couple for the true Halloween favorite – Ichabod Crane. Oh! how scary it was as a child to see the hand-like cloud obscure the moon as Ichabod trots alone into the Headless Horseman’s Hollow! I still get chills and can hear the deadly laugh of the ghostly murderer. It was fantastically frightening and will forever be my favorite Halloween movie.
The book I’m recommending for August is any Harry Potter Book. My children and I have been reading the series together aloud for the first time over the last six months. And finally we finished The Deathly Hallows to round off the series. I must admit that when I missed the train on the series first appearance (Due to the fact that I was knee deep having those 4 children I mentioned) I never thought I would go back and read a 7 book series no matter how many people said it was amazing. But I rented the first from the Library because, honestly, we were running out of good books to bring home. Home school will do that. You read more than you would ever imagine. But I digress. We checked out the first book and I was hooked, my kids were hooked, and we just had to get the second, third, fourth…you get the point. The writing is wonderful. The character descriptions are masterful and the stories are unique and keep you turning pages. Go Rowling! What a fun ride.
The Movie I am recommending for August is NOT a Harry Potter movie. While we did watch each movie after finishing each book, I must admit I did not like any of them until the fourth movie. And even then, I wouldn’t really recommend them as great films. No, the movie for August is Cold Comfort Farm. Yes, this was a book first, published in 1932, the Author Stella Gibbons. It is a very fun read. Quirky and unique, but the movie. Oh! the Movie! Genius! It is a hilarious hour and thirty-five minutes you will not regret. I can honestly say I enjoyed the movie more than the book. And that is hardly ever the case. Kate Beckinsale and Sir Ian McKellen!? You can’t get any better than that? Not to mention other British greats like Eileen Atkins, Steven Fry, and Joanna Lumley! If you are ready for a satire of 1920’s England, this is your movie.
Short and sweet this month. My book of the month is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It you haven’t given Jane Austen’s pages a turn, I highly recommend! Remember theses books are more than two hundred years old so the pacing is different than today, but boy did she know how to capture characters and make you love or hate them with a single glance. I adore her work. Her writing is an inspiration!
As far as movies go, I would have to recommend The Music Man from 1962 with Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. Not the awful remake from 2003 with Matthew Broderick. The original movie is witty, clever, and has some of the most amazing songs, dances and characters ever. The film also stars Buddy Hackett and Ron Howard. That’s right Ron Howard. As in, one of the biggest movie directors and producers ever. He was just a little guy, a believe he was five and adorable. It is a must watch. Pay attention to the dialogue!
This month I would have to recommend reading William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, by Ian Doescher. Why? Because everyone needs a big belly laugh. “Verily. A New Hope.” I had never read anything else by Doescher, but what I have seen makes me realize how good he is. Hilarious and quite the nod to one of our favorite story tellers, William Shakespeare. And also because I LOVE the original Star Wars trilogy.
Suggested Movie of the month would have to be His Girl Friday starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, two of the best actors to ever grace the silver screen! But when you add the acting chops of these two amazing stars to Dialogue, dialogue, and more dialogue you have a genius moment in cinema. The Movie is based from a play The Front Page written by Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht, and Charles MacArthut. The screenplay was written by Charles Lederer.