Category Archives: family

Little House On the Prairie, Season 8

littlehouse8Many of us have spent our younger years watching Little House On the Prairie. It debuted in 1974 when a majority of families still watched television together. Today, most networks, streaming websites, and cable companies compartmentalized programs for age groups. Thus, getting the family to watch one show together is a bona fide miracle.

Today, we have DVDs, so television shows like Little House On the Prairie can be watched by the whole family. This series is about decency and wholeness, celebrating the concept of right and wrong.

Now, you can get the series in full broadcast length and completely digitally remastered. The entire eighth season is on 6 discs, with the very last disc having two Little House On the Prairie movies. The movies are from season 9: Look Back to Yesterday and The Last Farewell. Now, that is a treat and something worth enjoying.

You can select episodes from the menu, so if you have a favorite you want to see, it’s easy to maneuver around and select the episode.  You can even select individual scenes from episodes. Subtitles are available as well in different languages.

Instead of listing all the episodes like a catalog, I am going to highlight some favorite episodes of mine from the DVD package. A Christmas They Never Forgot is where the family gets snowed in on Christmas Eve, The Ingalls family and Esther Sue exchange family stories when they were younger. I just love flashbacks.  No Beast So Fierce follows Charles and James as they go on a business trip together. James becomes friends with a wild dog that follows him everywhere after he feeds it. Stone Soup is kind of a silly title but is about three town kids coming together after a drought comes to Walnut Grove. Laura is pregnant and can’t keep up with the newly planted orchard while Almanzo is away.

All in all, this is a great package and a must for any family’s library.  If you are not sure you want to purchase the DVDs yet, search Amazon Prime and watch a couple of episodes and see if your family likes the programming.

Noah’s Ark

Noah's ArkThe story of Noah’s Ark is mentioned in the bible and is about two paragraphs or a page long, depending on the book. I watched Russell Crowe’s version called Noah and came to terms that Noah was under a lot of pressure. A huge rain storm was coming where it will rain for forty days and forty nights. Raining so hard that the world will be completely submerged in water, a great flood. He had to build an ark large enough to hold all the animals of the world in pairs, male and female. He could not take all of mankind, just his family. Then, he had to feed all the animals and his family until the world was no longer flooded. Right there is a great story with enough conflict to keep you on the crossroads of Heaven and Hell.

Directed by Kenneth Glenaan, Noah’s Ark is more biblical than Crowe’s version. The stories are the same to a certain degree, still Glenaan’s take on the story is clearly an educational message about faith. Noah is portrayed as a man believing in God.  An impressive cast includes David Threlfall, Joanne Whalley, Nico Mirallegro, and Ashley Walters.

Noah’s Ark is a familiar tale of a man, his family, and his passion for doing what God wishes, building an ark that saves his family, the animals, and mankind. If you are familiar with the story, you know God told Noah to build an ark, and then he did it. The movie takes a license because the story is so short in the bible.

Noah is a good farmer and a generous family man, but his family doubts him when he tells them he was instructed by an angel to build the ark in the middle of a very dry desert. He tells what will happen and how he will save his family and the animals. He asks them to be faithful and believe a devastating flood is coming. His sons reject his proposal and decide not to help his father build the ark.  But, Noah has faith in God, so risks derision from his caring but infuriated family. He, of course, endures embarrassment from the townsfolk as well.  He has a devoted and loving wife, who changes her mind and decides to build the ark with him. She wants to demonstrate her support and love.

The flood arrives close to the end of the movie. The forty days and forty nights of raining go rather quickly. Before you know it, the ark lands on dry land, and the movie ends. With melodramatic flair is how the movies ends. Yet, if your faith is strong, you should enjoy the movie for what it is – a validation of the faith in God.

Full of Grace

full of graceUnderstanding the passion related to Christian stories has flocked our existence since the beginning of telling stories. Each biblical story brings an example to us while the parables offer a lesson, and here we have the Virgin Mary’s story, “It’s not about explaining things. It about living…”

Directed and written by Andrew Hyatt, Full of Grace captures the soul of the perfection of our Lord Jesus and his blessed Mother. Even though the movie was produced on an indie budget, it still shines with the Christian influences of heart and soul.

The movie is about the Virgin Mary played by Bahia Haifi with pure dignity, gravity, and the keen sense of maternity that is related to such a heroine.  We follow as she deals with the rising church after the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord. Mary spends her final days helping the church regain its original encounter with the Lord.

The movie is awe inspiring with a very fitting musical score composed by Sean Johnson. As the movie follows Mary, the story speaks from her heart to every angle for each generation. Hyatt wove a masterful message while sharing the love and understanding of a mother, particularly the Holy Mother of God. With that, Hyatt won the Reel Rose Award for Best Feature Length Screenplay at John Paul II International Film Festival.

The movie is indeed very Christian for all Christian beliefs from Protestants to Catholics and the ones in between.

I would not be surprised if this movie played at every church social night because it does educate.  It does reaffirm the gospel of Lord Jesus. Whether you are a true believer or just an interested bystander, the story is good to know since society has lost its idealism and social graces, and we need to be reminded how important religion is to our existence.

Mercury Plains

Mercury PlainsDirected and written by Charles Burmeister, Mercury Plains stars Scott Eastwood as Mitch. He is in his twenties, unemployed, and lives in Jerkwater, Texas. Wedged in the back of a trailer with his mother and stepfather, he lacks ambition and bearing.  One day he decides to go across the Mexican border with a similarly lowlife buddy and find some adventure.  At the first sign of danger, his buddy ditches Mitch and leaves him in the throes of trouble.  Mitch seems to handle the situation without reservations, and grabs the attention of The Captain, played by Nick Chinlund. He is the local paramilitary leader, who observes Mitch’s lack of direction but the ability to think fast on his feet.  The Captain recruits him and gives him five thousand dollars if he joins his band of soldiers. The paramilitary group waylays drug gangs and places a nice dent in the drug industry.

The movie is a familiar story where The Captain has a drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend, played by Angela Sarafyan. She hooks up with Mitch, and they fall head over heels for each other. Meanwhile, the paramilitary team is made up of misfits. Most of them are in their late teens or early twenties while some younger boys in their tweens are also part of the military group.  The soldiers raid drug gangs and other dangerous elements, but these moments barely make the movie exciting. Mitch now has a purpose in life, but it doesn’t last long. All is not as it seems. Finally, The Captain confronts Mitch about his interested in his girlfriend. Given these points, the rest of the story is predictable all the way to the end.

Eastwood, who is the son of Clint Eastwood, is good as Mitch, and he is captivating on the screen, but he needs to pick better movies.

‘Tis the Season for Love

Tis The Season For Love DVD-fHallmark movies usually have a holiday theme in mind when they tell a story. ‘Tis the Season for Love definitely warms up to the countdown to Christmas.

Directed by Terry Ingram, we meet a New York actress named Beth, played by Sarah Lancaster. She is vying to land a role in a David Mamet play. After the audition and not hearing anything final, she receives a perfect gift from a close friend. An airline ticket back to her small hometown she left ten years ago.

Feeling like she needs a good rest, she arrives and soon finds her mother planning all of the Christmas things that the two need to do together.  She rather not do so much stuff, but compromises and visits the town’s Santa Claus, played by Gary Chalk. This simple visit may seem unimportant, but he does have a secret that leaves Beth wondering what the mystery is.

Along comes and old friend, Dean, played by Brendan Penny. He had a crush on her in High School, but didn’t act on it because she was dating Barry, played by Andrew Francis. Dean never felt the two belonged together since they had different interests. Dean is now divorced from Melinda and has twins while working as a fireman. Beth now finds him even more appealing. He boosts her self-confidence from her lack of nabbing acting roles she desires. The town’s Santa Claus is up to something inexplicable and situations get a little out of kilter.

Beth gets involved with a local theater production and really enjoys herself. The seed has been planted, and she is pondering whether or not she should stay in her small hometown for good. Confusion is the end result of her indecision, and what will happen to her future.

You can’t go wrong with a Hallmark movie because they have a formula they follow for each production. Like ‘Tis the Season for Love, each movie is simple but direct, and a love story is sure to flourish.

Get Santa

GetSantaI knew I was in for a treat when I saw Ridley Scott as executive producer in the opening credits of Get Santa.  Jim Broadbent plays Santa who ends up in jail because he tried to release his reindeer from the animal shelter. How they got into the animal shelter is about as sane as the movie gets.

The movie is a bit crazy and fun to watch compared to most traditional Christmas movies that are about the meaning of Christmas. Some are set around Christmas but really have nothing to do with the holiday. On the odd occasion, Hollywood releases a movie about the spirit of Christmas like Miracle on 34th Street,  A Christmas Carol, or It’s a Wonderful Life. Get Santa touches on the spirit of Christmas, but presents the story in a refreshing, hilarious and playful way.

Written and directed by Christopher Smith, Get Santa is strictly a British movie. The tale is filled with dry humor where Santa requests the help of a young father named Steve, played by Rafe Spall, and his son named Tom, played truthfully by Kit Connor. Santa needs them to go to the North Pole, ask the Elves to help them get the reindeer back to his sleigh. Then, Steve, who just finished serving time in jail, can help Santa break out of jail and deliver the presents to all the boys and girls around the world before Christmas.

The movie is full of crazy offbeat characters that keep the story moving along.  I had a great time watching it with my family. Broadbent is a master at his craft. He plays the most believable Santa I have seen in a long time.  Not the usual Christmas sentiment but still the message is clear, believe in Santa, so get a copy or watch it on Netflix.

Flowers in the Attic Movie Series

flowerattic4movDoppleganger family is known in the bestselling book series with a large fan base and devoted followers. Now, all four movies are out as one package in a DVD set.  The Lifetime network produced these four movies, and they are Flowers in the Attic, Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, and Yesterday of Seeds. Covering all four movies can be cumbersome, but let’s take a look at Petals on the Wind. The movie is the second adaptation of a series based upon the V.C. Andrews books about the Doppleganger family.  The movie is somewhat better than Flowers in the Attic, which is the first book and movie in the series.

Like all the movies in the disc set, it is hard to cram the whole book into two hours. Unfortunately, it shows in the movies. The Petals on the Wind includes the most vital parts of the story, and if you read the books, you will not suffer as much.

If you happen to only watch the movies, keep in mind that the series is based on incest between the two main characters. The incest plays a major plot point in the whole series.

Petals on the Wind starts ten years after the children (Cathy, Chris, and Carrie) leave the attic, which happens in the first movie. They run away from a horrifying situation. Cathy, the dancer is sharp, persuasive and strong-willed to get the justice that is awaited. Chris, the doctor is quiet, good-looking and devoted to Cathy. Carrie is sweet, weak and disorientated.

The three characters discover a healthier life. Yet, the undercurrents of what happened to them in the attic will never be forgotten.  They fight illicit feelings of guilt, hidden anger and endless pain. Trying to ease their discomfort, Cathy assures she will put an end to their mother because she ruined them. She pretty much threw them away.

It is important that you watch these movies in sequence because so much happens in these four movies. It will be hard to understand the undercurrents of the prior movies. I am sure ardent book fans will love the series even though it was made for Lifetime not movie theaters.

Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos (A Rooster with Many Eggs)

Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos, directed by Gabriel Riva Palaico Alatriste, comes in Spanish and English, A Rooster With many Eggs.  The animated movie is not a compelling story, yet it’s not really bad either.  The characters are lovable with lots of slapstick humor.  The story takes a unique approach by being lively, entertaining, and mildly titillating, without due seriousness, and a lot fun with innuendos and double-entendres.

The movie follows an apprehensive little rooster named Toto, voiced by Bruno Bichir. His is challenged with confronting and handling an evil rancher. He threatens to purchase and tear down Toto’s family farm. The farm has been in the family for generations.   Toto’s challenge is to fight Bankivoide, voiced by Sergio Sendel, a mammoth rooster. The cockfight will end with the winner-take-all stakes. Feeling the pressure of such an unconquerable task, Toto cannot face the ordeal alone, so he asks his pals for help. Strangely, his pals are a frog, mucho huvevos and a strip of bacon. Can they conquer Banki and keep his family’s farm.

As mentioned earlier, the movie is filled with innuendos and to some extent racy humor compared to customary animated feature. Easily, the Spanish jokes are lost in the English translation since it is primarily written for the Mexican audience.  As an English speaking viewer, I still found a genuine amount of jokes that hit my funny bone. The characters are over the top on the ludicrous side, but the charm is their saving grace. Such as the favorable-intended frog, he earns a lot of laughs.

A Horse Tale

horsetaleDirected by Brad Keller, A Horse Tale received the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal for all ages.  The story follows a typical uptight city accountant, Michael Thompson, played by Patrick Muldoon. He is raising his daughter by himself and is over protective. His daughter, Chloe, played by Mandalynn Carlson, has an unpleasant incident at school, and her dad stresses out. So much so that his assistant recommends they move to her Uncle Cliff’s horse farm. Her uncle needs help with the books, anyway, before the merciless bankers take the farm away from them.  With Christmas coming up, it is a perfect time to visit the family and help save the horse farm.

Cliff, played by Rick Herod, is grateful for Michael’s help. But, Samantha (Sam), played by Dominique Swain, is in charge of running the farm. She has a hard time with the idea of a city guy stepping in to help. Sam is not interested in any assistance from an outsider. They smooth over the rough edges, and decide working together is the best way to avoid losing the farm.

The story is predictable.  But, it is a good family movie because it promotes getting in touch with your family and working together toward a common goal. It also touches on the importance of accepting help when you are trying to overcome a problem. The movie even offers a message to parents: No matter how hard it may seem, let your children grow up and be in command of their own lives. Be willing to let them make mistakes on their own.