Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Movie Review: Broken Hill

Title: Broken Hill
Author: N/A
Genre: drama, music, romance
My Rating: ***
Official Rating: PG
Age Group: 14+

Summary: Tommy is a young composer who is trapped in a town where no one seems to see, or rather hear, his brilliance. When he makes one bad choice, he ends up in a position that could possibly lead him to the biggest music school in Australia. Does he have what it takes to pull something together in three weeks? What if he's working with an unwilling partner and local inmates?

Word of Warning
  • The movie starts out with the finding of an injured man on the road. There is blood on his forehead and we find out that he might have died had he been left there. He is a local inmate who has escaped from jail several times, and was jailed for stealing diamonds.
  • Tommy is often distracted by his love interest and can become oblivious to everything else around him. His friend refers to this as obsessing, but Tommy objects, so his friend then calls it stalking, another term turned down, and finally settles on fancying her from afar.
  • Tommy is chased by a kid in a wheelchair who has spikes on his wheels. The scene is set to be dramatic, but we find out that it's just his friend and all a joke.
  • Tommy jokingly requests his friend roll over his neck with his wheelchair until he's dead--after getting laughed at by his love interest.
  • Tommy is misunderstood by his father and lies to him. The girl is also misunderstood and nearly ignored by her parents. It is assumed that Tommy works his problems but we have no idea what happens to the girl.
  • Words: jeez and prude (twice).
  • At first, the girl manipulates Tommy, using his crush on her to get her way. She flirts with him to get a ride and then tricks him into getting involved in driving her friends down the street so they can throw watermelons at houses, cars, windows, and other things (more on this later). She leans over and, in a whisper, suggests that if he go along with this "things are gonna get a little bit crazy." It's pretty clear how he interprets that.
  • Due to the watermelon trick, Tommy and the others end up arrested (after fleeing the police, which the girl also encourages). Tommy and the girl are given community service, the rest go free with a warning. Tommy's father leaves him to spend the night in jail instead of bringing him home like all the other parents.
  • The joking exchange, "I'd rather be run over by a truck." "I've got a truck."
  • Tommy's friend refers to the girl as hot more than once. He also calls her the American Honey (she's American, everyone else is Australian).
  • Tommy rides a motorcycle without a helmet and isn't all that careful about it. He also does some reckless driving for fun in the desert with his friend (using his dad's pick-up truck).
  • Man without a shirt seen lifting weights, then imagined as playing a violin (still shirtless).
  • One mention of strip and cavity searches for the prisoners.
  • Tommy signs a paper saying he did more community service hours than he did. This is largely due to the girl taunting him.
  • Tommy lies to his father. Later, he's kicked out of his house for it (tossed the duffle bag and told to leave).
  • Tommy is bowled over during what looks to be a football game (without the pads, but clearly a school event).
  • An older man tells a story of spirits creating the world one layer at a time (first it was too flat, so then came the hills, and the rivers, etc).
  • The girl's prom dress is a few inches above her knees and the V-neck is low but relatively concealing (no cleavage shown because of the way the dress is structured).
  • A man in the prison is often shown staring at the girl. At one point she looses it and shouts at him, "I don't know what prostitute I remind you of, but just stop staring at me." He reveals that she reminds him of his daughter, who has only seen him behind bars.
  • Three kisses.
  • The whole story revolves around a group of inmates becoming a band.
My Thoughts
The music was fantastic. The main character first sets out to create this band for selfish reasons, then does it for those involved. It was an interesting story. What more is there to say?
I wouldn't watch it again, but I don't regret the time I spent on it. I gave it the age recommendation of 14+ because of the innuendo mentioned above. It was a fun journey to go on, especially accompanied by music.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Movie Review: Civil Love

Title: Civil Love
Author: N/A
Genre: period drama, romance, civil war, family
My Rating: **
Official Rating: PG
Age Group: 8+
Summary: Rachel's husband died in the war and it's all she can do to keep the homestead running and her children safe. When her brother-in-law comes around hinting at marriage, she refuses on the grounds of not loving him, though she badly needs the assistance in the home.
Then an escaped Confederate soldier shows up in her barn, badly wounded and close to death. Rachel does what she says is the Christian thing to do and tends to his wound. As he recovers, things become confusing for Rachel, her two children, and Daniel, the man they are hiding from a marshal.

Word of Warning
  • People are shot at. Daniel is shot in the abdomen and we see blood on his shirt, hands, and body, as well as a quick glimpse at the wound (which is so bloody we don't seen anything at all). Another man is shot in the shoulder but no blood is seen. Both these instances are almost under-dramatized (not a word, but I believe it's possible to understand my point).
  • Daniel was held prisoner but escaped because he probably wouldn't have lived to the end of the war (so he says) if he'd stayed. During escape, authorities are killed and so are all his friends.
  • Rachel hides Daniel from the law.
  • Three or four kisses.
  • Men get pushed about, kicked, punched, and hit with chairs.
  • Rachel rides into trouble more than once to save Daniel.
  • Daniel is being hunted by two men who will stop at nothing to kill him.
  • Daniel sleeps in the barn, not the house, even when Rachel and her children decide to trust him. She says it wouldn't feel right for him to be in the house, and he agrees. He does spend one feverish night in the house before this decision, however, it's not all that problematic as he lies on the floor in a fever-induced sleep and is completely unaware of anything.
  • Attempted robbery.
My Thoughts
All things considered, it was a decent film. I admit the acting drove me up a wall, but then again the last film I saw had some very talented actors in it so my judgment might be skewed a little. It's a sweet story of a woman falling in love with a man she viewed as her enemy (ahem, yes, I spoiled it. What, you didn't see that coming?). The best part, in my opinion, is the way this comes about. In gratitude for her kindness, Daniel begins to do little random acts of kindness like helping her son chop wood, doing the dishes, working in the barn, etc. It's these acts that grow on Rachel and show her what kind of man he really is. There is no big romantic moment where he confesses his feelings, no scenes where one of them is trying desperately for the other to notice as in most romances, just peaceful gentle but utterly strong love.
Huh. Kind of like the real world. Imagine that.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Music Review: Popular Country Songs

Dear readers,
While we eagerly await Robin Hood Week (which is currently under construction), I bring you another puzzle-piece type post. The only theme here is popular country songs. The songs are not randomly chosen and this will be just a brief look at a few of the more popular songs on the radio today. Enjoy!

Song: We Are Tonight
Artist: Billy Currington
My Rating: ****
Summary: A fun summer night needs a fun summer song, no? "It's a Friday night, it's a small town girl. Everything is right, and we rule the world....We are tonight." There's dancing, singing, and kids just having fun. "Her tan, her touch, her laugh" lets us know the guy is in love (in case anyone doubted that). Granted, there is an implication there with "we are tonight" and a girl being present, but the order of the lyrics gives us no reason to actually come to the conclusion of an intimate physical relationship. Simply put: it's a fun song.

Song: Goodnight Kiss
Artist: Randy Houser
My Rating: ***
Summary: Let's start with the kiss, shall we? Skip past whatever we do other nights and just move right to the kiss. H*** is used at least once. The chorus goes "start it with a goodnight kiss. My lips, your lips. Baby let's just get gettin' there. Start it with a long goodbye, wrapped up tight. Let's spend all night right here." Basically, the plan is to cancel meeting up with friends and "light that little spark that gets you goin' like you do. Just tell me that you want to." It's not too hard to figure out what's being implied here. The only reason for the three stars is the unfortunately fact that the tune is catchy and I like Randy Houser's voice.

Song: See You Tonight
Artist: Scotty McCreery
My Rating: *****
Summary: Basically, "sweet dreams, baby, goodnight" isn't good enough anymore. Scotty wants to see his girl face to face, not over the phone, and it has to be tonight. He's a little obsessed (with hundreds of pictures on his phone and in his car) to say the least. "So I'm comin' over, I hope it's alright" he sings. What does he plan to do? Apparently simply "holding onto you so tight under that porch light" or at least that's all he says. He's willing to drive far to see his girl and he'll be pulling up at her house no matter what time it is for that "little moonlight kiss." Hopefully she's ok with that. Rating based on the fact that this is Scotty McCreery which means it's his voice--which basically requires no explanation.

Song: Hey Girl
Artist: Billy Currington
My Rating: ***
Summary: This song is one big pick-up line. "Hey girl, what's your name girl? I've been lookin' at you girl, and every guy in here's doin' the same girl." She's "so hot, gotta give it a shot" even though he doesn't know her. But he's not about to let her get away without even trying. This consists of offering to get her a drink, suggesting a ride around the town, and continuing to flatter her with words. That's pretty much all the song is. Rating is based on the catchiness of the song and how fun it is to sing along.

Song: People Are Crazy
Artist: Billy Currington
My Rating: ****
Summary: The singer meets an old man at a bar and they have a little chat about "politics, blond and redhead chicks" and so on. H*** used at least once, d***ed as well. Chorus: "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy." That's pretty much it. One of them fought in wars, was married and divorced, and they mention "every girl we knew, and what all we put 'em through, like two old boys'll do." Cigarettes are mentioned. Basically, the two have a chat about life (girls, politics, philosophy, God, and everything in-between). In the end, the old man dies and the singer inherits his fortune.

Song: Every Storm (runs out of rain)
Artist: Gary Allen
My Rating: *****
Summary: This is a song about a struggle. The singer sees someone close to him fighting through a storm, getting shoved about by life, and steps up to say "Every storm runs out of rain. Just like every dark night turns into day. Every heartache will fade away. Just like every storm runs out of rain." He's there for (presumably) her and urges perseverance and a belief in something greater. "Go find a new rose, don't be afraid of the thorns, 'cause we've all got thorns." It's that simple--and that awesome.

 Song: Cop Car
Artist: Keith Urban
My Rating: ***
Summary: According to the music video, the couple is trespassing (to watch planes fly) when they are arrested. He's too busy watching the girl's reaction to really care. She gets angry, then tries flirting with the cops, all to no avail. "Your daddy's gonna kill me," he observes, and he's probably right. She considers running but doesn't and they end up in the back of a cop car. Sitting there in the blue lights, he falls in love. H*** is in the chorus. Stars for it being one of the most unique love songs I've heard in country music.

Song: Hey Pretty Girl
Artist: Kit Moore
My Rating: ****
Summary: Simply put, it's a sweet song. The guy meets his future wife at a dance and "hey pretty girl, won't you look my way? Love's in the air tonight. You can bet you'd make this old boy's day. Hey pretty girl won't you look my way?" They dance, he brings her home (his mom makes him sleep on the couch), they get married and have a daughter who looks like her mother, and he dies thanking God for his wife. One questionable verse is "Hey pretty girl, it feels so right, just like it's meant to be. All wrapped up in my arms so tight. Hey pretty girl it feels so right." As to the meaning of that, there is no clarification. It's up to use to decide what we think is going on, but in the music video it's a simple embrace.

Song: Play It Again
Artist: Luke Bryan
My Rating: ***
Summary: The singer sees a girl alone and believes her too beautiful not to have a date. When he walks up to ask, she interrupts him with "Oh my God, this is my song! I've been listenin' to the radio all night long, sittin' around waitin' for it to come on. And here it is. She was like, come here boy, I wanna dance" and that's exactly what they do, kissing at the end. And of course they both want it to play again. Eventually, he ends up playing it for her on his guitar. Whenever he's able to find it, they dance and kiss (as that's what the chorus requires). Rating because it's catchy, but it lost a star due to the use of the Lord's name.

Song: Keep Them Kisses Comin'
Artist: Craig Campbell
My Rating: **(*)
Summary: That last star was questionable. I wish we could do half-stars. The very beginning of the song lets us know what we're in for. "You got your hair down, you got that look in your eye that says come here and get me boy, lay me down and love me just right." And he, of course, is not about to leave that offer behind. A bottle of wine and a bunch of time results in his decision to "be your man tonight. I can't imagine doin' nothin' but what I'm doin'. Just layin' round, tangled up with you. We got our buzz on sippin' on a little somethin'. I need your lovin', just keep them kisses comin'." He's been missing his girl and after a long week, all he wants is her kiss. Then the chorus follows again. He wants this all night, doesn't want her to stop, and swears "there's honey on your lips. Baby give me one more long slow kiss!" The reason for the rating not being negative is that it's catchy and I happen to know the song was about his wife--which makes it a bit more acceptable.

Song: Everything I Shouldn't Be Thinkin' About
Artist: Thompson Square
My Rating: **(*)
Summary: It's catchy! (that's my defense for the rating) Basically, the guy has a lot of things that need to be done "but baby I can only focus on one. The way you're looking back at me right now, I'm thinkin' about everything I shouldn't be thinkin' about. You're playin' with my mind, baby, aint no doubt. I'm thinkin' about everything I shouldn't be thinkin' about." She is too, apparently. The conclusion is that since they're thinking the same thing, "let's do somethin' 'bout it, what do you say?" I say...this is overly suggestive. I'll admit to liking the song, but that's from the perspective of someone who knows the two singing it are married, in which case it ends up being more cute and less turn-that-off-right-now.

And there you have it. A bunch of semi-random country songs that are relatively popular right now. I do fully intend to do Scotty McCreery's new album sometime soon, but I'm not promising a date just yet.
If you have any suggestions for reviews of books, movies, or music, please leave a comment here on the blog and we'll see what we can do for you.