Monday, January 31, 2011

"Secretariat" movie review

An enjoyable movie for anyone who enjoys horses! The racing action is very exciting, and all the more thrilling for Secretariat having really done it!

The only real downer, to me, was that Penny (Secretariat's owner) seems to put her horse responsibilities above her family responsibilities, and, isn't depicted as having a very close relationship with her husband. They treat each other more like politely kind brother and sister. It's partly the fault of the husband being a very bland actor, I believe, and another of the movie's focus being on her and the horse, thus leaving little time for development and better understanding of her family life. So no real objections, just a sense of dissatisfaction with that aspect. Watch the movie for the horse story, not the human story, and you'll be fine.

As far as genuine objectionable content, all I have to say is that in one sequence, one of the daughters is wearing a pair of pretty short shorts. The movie is rated PG for "brief mild language" but I'm honestly not sure what that refers to. I didn't catch it, wherever it came up.

The cast in the "horse world" is excellent. The trainer, the groom, and the jockey "make the movie" in my opinion! And I was pleased to find out the actor who portrayed the jockey is a Christian! I was told that the director is a Christian, too, but I haven't researched it for myself. Scripture does open the movie! A passage from Job, concerning horses. It is the best movie opening ever! So cool how they did it! You should watch the beginning, if no more. :)

This movie goes down on my "recommended" list, for the sake of the clean content and exciting horse action.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax" by Dorothy Gilman

I found this book, the first of a series, in our county library and thought it looked very promising. I love Agatha Christie's "Miss Marple" mysteries and this looked similar.

Mrs. Pollifax is tired of her life as an old lady. Her children are grown and moved away, and she lives alone, spending her days volunteering at one charity or another. As she slips toward depression, her doctor recommends that she should do something she always wanted to do, but couldn't, because of family responsibilities. But what Mrs. Pollifax has always wanted to be is a spy! She applies for the job, and through a series of hiccups she is accidentally hired by the department as a courier of secret documents from Mexico. It was supposed to be a very safe and very simple mission. But things go wrong through no fault of Mrs. Pollifax, and she soon lands in a most unexpected situation, and performs in a most unexpected way.

The book would have met with my every favorable expectation if not for the unexpected foul language sprinkled generously throughout. Why the author would have made such a move, effectively crossing children off her target audience, is beyond me. And for myself, that's not something I need to exposing myself to more of, (I can't help hearing it in the real world but I can help reading it). I could overlook a word or two but not in this quantity. There is also no reference to God that is not flippant, and are a couple references to "the gods." I am very sorry to bid Mrs. Pollifax farewell forever, because with a few alterations, the Mrs. Pollifax books could have been a new favorite series of mine. The plot was creative, the writing good, and Mrs. Pollifax quite memorable. But all things considered, I cannot recommend this book.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Tangled" Movie Review

An animated story of Rapunzel, with exciting twists and adventures along the way.


It is super funny, and surprisingly clean! It doesn't contain any rude humor that I picked up on, nor inappropriately dressed girls. (The evil old lady's may be a little low at times, but not shockingly so). There were only one or two things that struck me as objectionable. One was a conversation between Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, (a handsome bandit! ;), when Rapunzel is struggling with guilt over disobeying the woman she thinks is her mother, by leaving the tower. Flynn tells her that it's part of growing up, to rebel at a certain age and break your mother's heart. There is an impression that Flynn's advice is not to be trusted at this point, yet the statement is never openly refuted. This is not a good thing for kids to hear, as it makes an excuse for and encourages sin nature. If you watch the movie with children, consider doing some explaining/correcting during this scene. The other possible objection was an emphasis on following your dreams, which isn't all bad, but gets blown out of proportion by Disney all the time.

I definitely do recommend "Tangled," unless you harbor an abhorrence for animated films, or happily-ever-after stories. I personally love both. And I want a horse like Maximus!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Speak Now - Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift's third album Speak Now, sold 1,047,000 copies in its first week. I was hoping that meant that she was actually improving as a songwriter/singer, so I listened to the album.

"Mine" is comparable to "Love Story" in that they're both cute stories, and not as musically redundant as Swift's music sometimes can be. But "Mine" is not nearly as close to innocent as "Love Story," mentioning "a drawer of my things at your place" among other things.

"Sparks Fly" has several suggestive phrases like "it's just wrong enough to make it feel right" and mentions "you're the kind of reckless that should send me running" and "my mind forgets to remind me you're a bad idea." There are no decent parts to this song.

"Back to December" (supposedly written to "Twilight" star, Taylor Lautner) apologizes for breaking his heart, and seems to be asking for him to take her back. It's kinda catchy, but I can't get past the fact that she's broadcasting this tender little apology to the whole world. If I were Taylor Lautner, I think I would be disgusted. As more of a "wish-I-could-tell-you," anonymous sort of song, though, it's not bad.

"Speak Now" is about a girl barging into her ex-boyfriend's wedding and breaking it up. She talks about the bride "yelling at a bridesmaid... wearing a gown shaped like a pastry" and "her snotty little family." If she's correct about the bride's personality, I guess she did her ex-boyfriend a favor. Again, not bad... pretty funny.

"Dear John" (rumored to be written to singer John Mayer) rants about how he treated her and paints a bleak picture of the aftermath of their age-imbalanced relationship. I didn't enjoy it at all, but there's nothing too objectionable about the lyrics.

"Mean" is a childish song written to a critic who did what critics do: criticized her. At one point Swift says she can see him in bar years from now "drunk and grumbling on about how I can't sing." This song would be hilarious except for the fact that a 20-year-old wrote it... and appears to take herself seriously. The word "mean" is extremely over-used, and I think I can see the critic dying of laughter over this song.

"The Story of Us" is just a stereotypical failed happily-ever-after story and seeing each other after the relationship fell apart. Another so-so song with nothing objectionable, and a catchy tune but just a little redundant and boring. And it ends weirdly with a spoken "The End."

"Never Grow Up" is a sweet, sad song about Swift's feelings about getting her own apartment, and what her parents probably felt thinking about her childhood. But the phrase "grow(n) up" is used too many times and you just want to never hear her sing those words again when the song is finally over...

"Enchanted" is about love (or obsession?) at first sight. Swift muses, "the lingering question kept me up 2am, who do you love?" A light-hearted, innocent song about that completely shallow attraction that you can have after barely meeting someone. The line "I was enchanted to meet you" goes down better than "please don't be in love with someone else" though.

"Better Than Revenge" (possibly written to Joe Jonas' next girlfriend) is bursting with childishness that rivals "Mean." She seems to equate the stolen boyfriend with "toys on the playground" and speaks of having the boyfriend "right where I wanted him" when the other girl "stole" him. She also digs into the other girl with an inappropriate line about her reputation.

"Innocent" looks back on childhood innocence and offers forgiveness ("who you are is not what you did") assumedly to Kanye West, who apparently insulted her by interrupting an acceptance speech. Another shallow, slightly boring song, but with a feel-good message... however incorrect (since no one is really innocent...)

"Haunted" is another love story gone wrong, with Swift yearning for an ex, "haunted" by the relationship. Nothing bad here, just another redundant song.

"Last Kiss" is suspected to be written about Joe Jonas. It's a hopeless and depressing song about their breakup. She says she'll "go sit on the floor wearing your clothes" and wishes him well while she wallows in her pain and declares "your name, forever the name on my lips." There's also a hint of a sleepover when she says "like I used to watch you sleep."

"Long Live" is a fun, fairy-tale-esque story about crashing through walls, fighting dragons, moving mountains and ruling the world.

Compared to other teen stars who are "growing up" Taylor Swift's new album isn't as bad as I would imagine Miley Cyrus' album (I only bothered to listen to "Can't Be Tamed".... freaky) but maybe that's because she's just not growing up as fast. The whole album felt very much like something a 14 or 15-year-old might have written, especially since those ages have become targeted by so much more sensuality recently.

Also, Taylor Swift can't sing. I've heard her "live" (though I wasn't actually there, it was on TV) and she's really terrible.

I'm a little scared that 1,047,000 copies of this album sold in the first week.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Inception (PG-13)

First, my completely biased opinion: one of the most amazing, thought-provoking, well-filmed and fascinating movies that I have ever seen. I immediately wanted to go back into the theater and watch it again. The plot is so detailed and unique. I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it to the older teen/adult who enjoys that sort of mysterious science-fiction.

I really don't want to spoil the plot, so unless you're unsure about seeing it and want to know the gory details of all the negatives in the plot, don't read any farther. The first negative is the amount of violence. Much of it is in dreams, so the "people" being "killed" are actually just projections of the dreamers subconscious, and not actually "real" people being killed. It still looks like real violence, though. Second, God's name is abused, and there are several other curse words, but it wasn't the worst language that I remember for a PG-13 movie. Third, there aren't really any good guys, as the main characters are thieves, trespassing in and stealing from people's minds. The main issue for me, though, was the suicide aspect. In dreams, suicide "wakes you up." One character, having experienced the effect of suicide in a dream, comes to believe that real life is still a dream, and to really wake up and see their "real" children, decides to commit suicide again, and tries to convince the spouse to do the same. The character succeeds in suicide, but the spouse doesn't try and tries to save the other character unsuccessfully. As you can imagine, that is tragic. Also, the effect that this movie might have on people of suicidal tendencies or just people in general who might not have a Christian viewpoint on life, death and the afterlife is worrying. However, all that aside, I would still recommend this movie to anyone sane who wouldn't have an issue with the violence and language. It was pretty clean for a PG-13 movie, but I don't recommend it for children under 13 at all.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

As a Result of Being Computer-Illiterate...

To whom it may concern:

This is your furry pal Jessica here, and I am breaking into the reviews to point out that I am not a computer expert. This is why: I have been using an interesting question-asking website called "" as a means of attracting different sorts of people by talking about controversial issues, and then subliminally directing them towards a certain new blog of mine. I was attempting, today, to link the questions I answer to my more casual blog, which you can get to by clicking the link on the side that reads "Jessica."

However, since I am also listed as an author for this blog, somehow or another the posts have been ending up here. This is unfortunate, slightly embarrassing, etc. So I want to apologize to anybody who was confused about this, and to anybody who left a comment on these posts, as I have now deleted them as they hold no relevance whatsoever to this blog! Good grief.

However, in keeping with the spirit of this blog: is a very interesting site, where people often ask very interesting questions. Often the questions have to be taken with a grain of salt (or a tablespoon), as there are people out there who will question anything you say or declare a belief in, in ways that are really not very nice. Therefore, in general I recommend it for 15 and up as a way to pass the time. People often ask wonderful questions that really make you think about your answer as well, which I like.

Anyway, that's all for now! Again, I am sorry for the mistake.



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

All the well-known superheros have been revamped, CGI-ed and epic-ified. And so, they moved on to the well-known detective, Sherlock Holmes and his side-kick, Watson. Sherlock was played by Robert Downey Jr. and portrayed in much more of an "awesome" light than ever before.

I thought the movie was very well filmed. I liked the angles, the lighting and the CGI shots (which I guess qualifies as filming?) immensely. It had a good mystery feel, although I thought the plot could have had more depth. There were some disturbing images (involving some scenes that contained apparent witch craft) and one not-so-modest scene, but amazingly, a pretty clean movie.

I recommend it for anyone old enough to deal with witch-crafty stuff. It's not the most fantastic movie I've ever seen, but it's really near the top of my "fun-to-watch-not-really-deep" movies list.