Opus Arte's production of William Shakespeare's romatic comedy; which just so happens to be my favorite Shakespeare play.

As most of you know, As You Like it is the story of Rosalind and her cousin, banished from the Duke's court...and young Orlando, the lover.

What is so totally cool about this production is that it was filmmed at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre! It is a recording of a live performace; and the production values are great. The actors are professionals for sure. It was great fun to watch how they interacted with the audience :)

The costumes were very period and the wigs (there were a few) were so natural that the bald guy might as well as grown that head of hair and Rosalind cut hers. (In the way I imagine it, Rosalind--as Ganymede--simply kept her hair securely under a hat.)

There were a few things that I wondered if they might not be period correct, but after talking to Savannah, would say that probably they were. You know, folks from the 16th century really weren't near as prudish as 21st century people--even though we expose more flesh. For those with young boys, there was two scenes where a female character is adjusting her chest to look more attractive--nothing too horrid, but still. For the easily grossed out, Touchstone (the jester) makes a somewhat crude gesture twice...

The finale was funny because the entire casts dances a modern dance to period music before they bow off. They look like they are having a ball while doing so :)


5-star rating

        Racheal

 
 
Author: Paul I. Wellman

Setting: 1840's Texas

Plot: Paul Regret, New Orleans' gambler, engages in a duel with the only son of influential Judge Beaubein. Regret shoots the young man, but does not kill him. Regardless, he has to flee New Orleans with a price on his head. Going to Texas, he is given a choice by Sam Houston himself, of either being extradited to Louisiana or joining the Texas Rangers. Regret cho0ses to join the Rangers, not because he wants to be a Texas Ranger, but because he preferred that to hanging. He learns the ropes of being a Ranger...witnesses the aftermath of a Comanche raid [and from reading The Captured by Scott Zesch (I never finished it), I knew exactly what the author delicately alluded to]...and with his shooting skills earns respect, if not acceptance among the Rangers.

When Regret is commissioned with Tom Gatling (his rather hostile partner) and Captain Blake Henrion to discover the hideout of the Comancheros, the story really takes off. I won't let on what happens, only that they get captured.

Paul Regret's love interest is woven throughout the book and ends up being important to the story.

        ********************************************************************

There was a movie made from the book....
The Duke is not Paul Regret--rather he's the Tom Gatling character--with a different name. If you ask my opinion, the book is better. The Comancheros, the movie is actually quite different than the book. The opening scene is the same and then one scene when Regret is among the Comancheros is the same. That's about it.

In the movie, Paul Regret meets his love interest on a boat (in the book he's known her for several years). He is arrested on the boat by the Duke (or Jake Cutter). Sam Houston is not in the movie. Anyway, Regret gets hauled around by Cutter--Regret knocks Cutter on the head and runs away. He get's re-caught and ends up being drug into the Comanchero trip (no Capt. Henrion in this version). The end is not nearly as powerful.

That was very uncohearant...but I just wanted to say that the book was the better of the two stories. Of course, being a Duke fan--the Comancheros isn't bad :) (Duke is himself you know...I like the Paul Regret of the book better--he's not quite such a prig.)

Book: 5 star
Movie: 3 star

        Racheal

 
 
I have wanted to watch this movie for a while, since I re-discovered it in the DVD cabinet this winter. I'm going to say right off the bat, I enjoyed it. I believe I giggled more than I was on the edge of my seat. The Princess Bride has plenty of Drama, Romance (of course! it's a fairy tale), Danger, and Humor. It is somewhat hokey in someplaces, but for just having a good laugh...who cares!

The Plot: The little boy is sick: his grandpa comes and reads him the story of The Princess Bride. Naturally, the boy is rather resistant to a fairy tale to start with--but through the movie, he gets drawn into the story. (I found this a neat, even hiliarious twist.)

Buttercup is a commoner; Wesley is a commoner. They fall in love. (Suprise!) He goes off to seek his forture and "dies". Five years pass and Buttercup ends up being engaged to the Prince of the land. (She doesn't love him, of course--her heart still belongs to Wesley; even though she believes him dead.) The day of the engagement, she gets kidnapped. The kidnappers are followed by a man in black...between this point and the 'happily ever-after' there is danger, humor, suprises, trechary, and, well, romance. I don't want to give too much away, but things include poison,  valient sword fights (my favorite!), fire swamps, etc. The identity of the villian is suprising and unexpected.

Pros and Cons on the story: Wesley is the hero...he is the faithful man who leads. loves, and protects. Buttercup is not a feminist. (I liked that part.)   Niether character is portrayed as perfect. There is character growth (even if just tiny.) There is no magic. Even when Wesley is 'dead' and raised up he wasn't really dead--just mostly dead. (That whole part was funny as he 'comes back to life'--the actor was great!) I'm not quite sure if the filmmaker was mocking the church by making the bishop (or whatever he was) lisp something awful or not...I will say though that the lisp was unexpected and somewhat startling at first. (Rather sounds like Elmer Fudd--all 'r's are 'w's...) There was one word which was 'bad'--I don't know if it was 'Jeeze' or "Jesus" (okay, so the former is just slang for the latter and ought not be used at all either); it was only used once and by the little boy when he got agitated over what was going to happen next. That was the only profanity. There were NO CRASS JOKES. (Maybe that's because the film was made in 1987?) Buttercup's dresses were modest--no cleavage (you wouldn't get that today! They'd be taking every chance to show off her chest!) Certain characters were 'bad-guys' who end up being 'good-guys'--not exactly sure how to rate that, but the movie wouldn't have worked without them. There was enough kissing, but the focus was more on the story than the smooching. One thing I did notice that was somewhat odd--you never see Buttercup's parents; so I don't know if she was supposed to be an orphan or whether they would have just been extraneous characters that weren't really necessary...(i.e. character who would have been in one sence/had to been paid by the producers.)
 
The Art: The 'special effects' (F/X) work was very, very good for the time. I thought it looked more 'real' than some more modern, digital F/X or CGI work (take Star Wars [episodes 1-3] for instance--that looks fake.) The costumes were well done; except the crowns looked kind of hokey ;) The acting is professional...afterall, it takes a professional to act as limber as Wesley...(it makes me snicker to think of the sence I'm referencing.) The fencing was well done (as far as my limited knowledge could tell.) Some ot the make-up work was rather obvious, but as it's a fairy-tale it wasn't ridiculous.

Overall rating: For good, clean fun; 5-star.  

        Racheal

 
 
This is the first Zane Gray book I have ever read, but I have seen several old Westerns based off of his books.

When I opened the cover, I was expecting something more of a rip-roaring adventure than what I found on the pages. (In retrospect, having seen the movies, I really shouldn't have.) It was really more of a romance. Not just even a love-triangle, more like a love-hexagon! Beware, there may be spoilers in the following...

The story revolves around the love Mr. John Curry holds for Mary Newton, a woman married to a scoundrel. Initally, John simply feels sorry for Mary as he realizes that she is a good woman and she is tied to a dirtbag in marriage (note: Mary did not know Wilber was a low life when she married him). The more John sees her, the more he comes to love her. He calls it a 'pure' love. I don't know exactly what to call it--seeing as it's a married woman and an unmarried fella, but I do know that it wasn't a lustful 'love'. John shows his true love for her, by his willingness to be non-exisitant in her world, so long as she is happy.
 
In time, Mary comes to also love John because he treats her with respect, honor, and dignity. She denies her feelings for John for a long time. She is faithful wife, even when Wilber treats her with disdain, distrust, and disloyalty. Wilber deserts her one day and steals everything of value from her in the process. Even then, the thought of divorce is far from her mind--indeed, it is unthinkable.

Surrounding these characters are the supporting cast of Katharine, Mary's old friend; High-Lo, a young cowboy that John rescued--these two are devoted to one another despite their ups and downs; and Magdeline, an Indian girl who plays a good sized part in the outcome of the story even though she is not a major charactor. Also there is Henley...but I won't go into him, else I might give too much away.

The Worldview: Well...I got the impression that Zane Gray believed in God--maybe even that God is soveriegn; but there was some of that early 20th century theology as well. I haven't been able to stick my finger on it exactly. Morality (based on the law of God) is good; immorality is wrong. In other words--adultery and murder are sin (two issues that could be temptations in the situation).

While you want John and Mary to be happy, there is never the sense of "Oh, just get together and everything will be alright" that seems to be prevalent in modern culture. No. To both of these characters doing the right thing, the honorable thing, is more important that what 'feels good'. I appreciated that a lot.

I'd rate this book a 4-star. That's for my uncertainty on the 'pure love' bit.  I enjoyed it pretty well, but I rather doubt I this is a book I will read again. Also, I wouldn't give it to someone who can't discern between the good and the bad in the book. Something still kind of rubs me wrong about the whole situation, but the fact that it's one that you can actually see happening in real life.

        Racheal

 
 
Authoress: Agatha Christie

How does one write a review of a mystery without giving away, the whodunnit? I'll see if I can figure it out :P

First off, this is a Hercule Poirot story. Naturally that means plenty of the little Belgians comments. He is returning to London from the Middle East when the train he is traveling on founders in a snowdrift at the same time a murder is committed.

At first it appears that no one had a good motive for killing the deceased. After interviewing all the people on the Stambul-Calais coach (these passengers being the only ones in question) and then going through their belongings, Poirot puts his 'little gray cells' to work. Naturally, as he is Poirot, he leaves his fellow investigators in the dust (and of course the reader--unless your brain jumps to conculsions faster than mine). By the end of the story everyone is a suspect...in a deeper sense than initially. But there, lest I spoil it, I won't say anymore.

Suprisingly, I nearly guessed the ending of this one correctly. I was quite close actually (I NEVER do that!) The usual Agatha Christie descriptiveness was there. I would say that this wasn't one of the best ones that I have read, however. There are others that stick in the mind better...like The Murder of Rodger Ackroyd (one of the very first Christies I read), Passenger to Frankfurt (I really enjoyed that one; it was somewhat different that most), and And Then There Were None (I believe that is the American title).

Especially in Poirot books, Christie tends to let the murderer (or murderers, depending on the story) get away with the crime if it serves 'justice'. For instance, if the murdered person happens to be a bad guy, once Poirot figures out 'whodunnit', he lets the murderer get away. (Of course, he wouldn't stand in the way if the law showed up, but still.) As a Christian, I recognize that this isn't Biblical. Vigilante justice, in a land with laws, is wrong. Thus, ending like that tend to set wrong with me--even if I'm glad the bad guy is dead. I would in no way call Poirot a Christian character. More of a moralistic, 'good' pagan. (Not counting his extreme arrogance concerning himself--Poirot, the mastermind crime solver. 'Detective' doesn't quite fit.)

4 1/2 Stars

        Racheal