Drool on the Frog

Thursday, May 31, 2007

AU Deadline: Aggghhhh!

The deadline for Art Unleashed design submissions is tomorrow (June 1, 2007)!


And I've been on vacation for a week in Florida.
It didn't do me any good to have early notice! Guess I'll be burning the oil tonight.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Movie Watch 2007

I thought I'd put a quick post out here about movies I'm looking forward to being released.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Willa's Flic Pic: Disturbia * * *


- D. J. Caruso
- Drama/Thriller, 2007
* * *

Ronnie: It reeks in here!
Kale: What's it smell like?
Ronnie: The corps of a rotting hottie.

It's unmistakable that this is a remake of the famous Hitchcock film, Rear Window, and it does an honorable job. With an excellent cast, set, filming and script, this is an all around successful thriller.

The make or break element in remaking this classic was in casting the lead, originally played by Jimmy Stewart. The new script calls for a teenager rather than an adult. Lucky for them, there was Shia LaBeouf, the main reason I wanted to see this film.

We first saw LeBeouf in Project Greenlight about the making of The Battle of Shaker Heights. You may know him from the fabulous film, Holes. He reminds me of a young John Cusack.

In Hitchcock's version, Stewart plays L.B. Jefferies, a freelance photographer who lives alone in an apartment. LaBeouf's character, Kale, is an angry teenager who was at the wheel in the violent car crash that killed his father. The energies of the characters, and actors, are entirely different but they both work. Look for LaBeouf in the new Indiana Jones movie, a great coup for him.

David Morse, another favorite of mine, plays the bad guy in this movie. Morse plays a lot of supporting roles but is a powerful actor and should play lead. I loved his character in Hack in 2002, another brilliant TV show cancelled prematurely.

If you can't see this one in a completely crowded theatre, wait and rent it for a late night movie night with friends.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Book Recommendations

I did some reviews of books that I didn't particularly care for (1, 2, 3, and 4). Let me pass on some really good books I'd recommend. Some are old. Some are new.

Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

- Erik Larson
Vintage, February 10, 2004
I've always had a fascination with true crime stories. Currently I'm reading In Cold Blood (which I picked up as a result of watching Capote). What Larson does in this novel to me is just amazing. Not only does he give a detailed account of the inside story on the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, he interweaves this with the parallel event of the serial killer H.H. Holmes, who built himself a death hotel near the fair knowing he could pray on tourists. I thought I'd be bored with the accounts of the fair but, far from it! Extensive research, great writing and an engaging story.

Fahrenheit 451
- Ray Bradbury
Del Rey; Reissue edition, August 12, 1987
This is the first Bradbury book I've read. It's like the first time I read Jane Austen. I can't get enough. At the local used book store I bought several more well known Bradbury titles. First published in 1953, it's is eerie how relevant and looming this picture of the future still is. A rudimental description of the story would say it's about censorship. The 50th anniversary edition I read included a very interesting interview with Bradbury in the back. Fahrenheit 451 itself has been subjected to censorship. Smart, efficient writing style.

Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality

- Rob Bell
Zondervan, March 2007
This is one of the clearest explanations of the beauty of yourself and a sexual and spiritual being that I've ever read. I love the way that Rob Bell looks at the world and the Word like a kid hanging upside down on the monkey bars - new perspective = fresh insights. I highly recommend it for your kids. They'll get it.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Shakespeare Movies

During my summer of teen angst, I checked out the complete works of Shakespeare. It was a fabulous book with the left and right margins filled with explanations on many of the phrases. During my family's summer vacation, I would wonder off by myself carrying my complete works of Shakespeare. The only other thing I was interested in was sun bathing.

I didn't get a chance to watch a film this week so I thought, in memory of summer and Shakespeare, I would recommend my favorite films based on Shakespeare's writings.

Ten Things I Hate About You
, 1999

This is a modern adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew. It stars a young Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles and one of my favorite actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Unlike other teen flics with too much sex and scatological humor, this is heart warming and lovable. You like all the characters and you want more than anything in the world for Kat to thaw. There's a good payoff in the end and fun is had by all.

Romeo + Juliet, 1996

You already know what a huge fan I am of Baz Luhrmann. In his version of Romeo and Juliet, he attempts what seems like an unlikely combination. He sets the story in a modern Verona Beach, with guns and pimped cars but keeps the Shakespearean dialog. If you already love the story, get a fresh energetic view of it through Luhrmann's colorful and textured lens.

Much Ado About Nothing
, 1993

This adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy of twisting plot lines and outrageous characters is directed, written and acted in by Kenneth Branagh. Much of the fun of this film is in the amazing all star cast: Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, Richard Briers, Keanu Reeves, Michael Keaton, Imelda Staunton, and Kate Berkinsale. Keaton, in particular, is hilarious. Consider watching this film on movie night with friends. It's great crowd pleasing fun and, besides, who wouldn't want to see Keanu Reeves do Shakespeare.

, 1990

This was the first time I completely understood Shakespeare and I know it was the result of Mel Gibson's acting and Franco Zeffirelli's adaptation. Gibson's Hamlet is passionate, physical and intoxicating, which is the kind of characters Gibson plays. There is never a boring moment when he's on the screen.

The Taming of the Shrew
, 1967

I rented this film because I hadn't read The Taming of the Shrew and I had yet to see a movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton together. Taylor and Burton's chemistry is obvious. This is Zeffirelli's earliest success in adapting Shakespeare to film and the most well known. I choose it as my classic.

Shakespeare in Love doesn't really count in this category because it's a fictional story about Shakespeare writing Romeo & Juliet, it's not actually one of his plays.

I saw Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996) and was totally bored. It was the Kenneth Branagh show and, although Hamlet is melodramatic, Branagh's interpretation is too self-important. I didn't like Hamlet in this film and I didn't care what happened to him.

I haven't seen Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948). I hope to one day.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Movie Review Index

In a single post I have accumulated a list of all the movies I've ***** rated ***** since June 1, 2006. You can find a quick link to it in the right hand margin under "Movie Reviews". I'll keep this current each week with the movies I see and rate.

In addition to links to the reviews, there will also be links to IMDB so you can find out more about the movie and a link to a trailer, if available.

Let me know if any of the links don't work or if there is any other information you would like to have access to.

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