Time for an April synopsis!
Before we get all entertainment here, let’s acknowledge that this was the month I received my first paycheck as a novelist and entrepreneur of Owl and Zebra Press. Createspace, Kindle, and Smashwords (which, between the three, distribute to all my other sales venues) take one, two, or even three months to send a paycheck for the current month. So they are all still holding out on me. But the local bookshop, The Regulator, is not. The day after I had my reading and left them with extra signed copies, I swung by and picked up the check. And I got more than the check: the owner had very kind things to say both about the production of the book and also our possible future together. Now, isn’t that nice?
As for April and non-book entertainment.
Ugly Betty (TV series, 2006-2010). Finished! So sad. I previously said that Betty has five or six seasons. Boy, was I wrong. Due to low ratings, they cut it off short at four. Actually, five or six would have been perfect to bring all lines to conclusion, but–as much as I love Betty–ending after four forced the writers to put it into an uncomfortable overdrive. All of a sudden Betty’s a fashionable hottie and this person’s married and that person’s deep and that person’s nice… well, you get the picture. It was already happening slowly on its own, but… I’m repeating myself in a slow lament. I do still love Betty. And Amanda (laugh out loud!). And I also really relate to Betty’s struggle to make choices that hang–sometimes precipitously–between her dreams, her morals, her talents, and her family.
Les Miserables (2012). Les Mis is one of my favorite books and favorite musicals (and we all know how much I love books and musicals). I was slated to go see this movie version with a good friend at the theater (gasp!–can a mom do that?), but, alas, a mom can’t do that. So as soon as Redbox sent a message to my email inbox reminding me it had arrived for rental, I shot out to claim it for 24 hours. Now, I was folding laundry and not staring rapturously at the flat screen, but I was not as impressed as I wanted to be. I did enjoy it, but I have to say I like the book, the Broadway musical (in it’s live form) and the 1998 version of the film better. In the past, I have complained that the 1998 version did not have Eponine or any of the soaring musical score and also underplayed the Revolution in the story, but I take it all back. That former version captured something more of the soul of the Victor Hugo creation and is, in my opinion, more fit for a screen venue. (Sure, the 2012 version’s acting and cinematography were awesome (where the vocals often lacked), but I have said my piece.)
Anna Karenina (2012). And another book movie. This one was the opposite of Les Mis in that it impressed me when I did not expect to be impressed. I was honestly expecting it to be sort of sordid, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked on the previews. So then why was I watching? In the mood for something sordid? I consider Anna Karenina, the book, to be like a Russian cousin to the Jane Austen-esque novels, and while I have enjoyed those over the years (and many of their movies), I have never been able to get through Anna (the novel). I seem to get bored reading Russian lit. So I wanted to like it and to get a feel for the Karenina story. What I was happy to discover–contrary to where I thought the novel was headed when I have tried to read it–was that the movie did not simper around Anna’s liberation as a sexual being and a woman. Sure, she’s passionate and strong-willed and part of a restrictive society, but she is also selfish and stands in stark contrast to the calmer, more sacrificial love of Levin and Kitty. We aren’t convinced, in the end, that she is the best mom (understatement) and we also agree with Anna that her husband, the forgiver and loyalist, is the better person. And I forgot to mention that the movie is done so that you are acutely aware of the movie as creation; plenty of time the the acting takes place in a theater set, characters passing between acts. I’m not really sure why the director took this direction, but it was beautiful and reminded me a lot of Baz Luhrman.
The Croods (2013). Saw this at a movie theater in Michigan with my family and the kids. I never would have seen it based on the previews, but since kids movie options are so limited, I just about end up watching every family film that comes down the pike (or at least the major motion picture pike). Yay for having to go see this. I thought it was a great movie. There are some pretty obvious plot lines and all, but not only is the world the animators created beautiful and awe-inspiring, but the father’s love had me weeping before it was final credits. That, and it’s funny. Recommend.