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I was 14, he was 15. The very first day we met, he kissed my hand, very Cinderella style. Little did he know he was kissing the hand of a hopeless dreamer. An incurable romantic. A girl who, even at 14, had learned how to exit the world of her reality and dwell in the world of books, movies, plays and music. My fantasy world was the real one in which I dwelt and the reality of school and homework and parents and such were just the nuisance that had to be endured between escapisms.
Our first date. How ironic it was to a movie. Escapism please!
We went to see The Little Mermaid. When it was first released to theatres (am I dating myself, much?). The song “kiss the girl” was the backdrop to our first kiss. He with his towering height and me with my fantasies and already I had us married off with kids and living in a far away land.
Cut to now, and we’re married with kids and moved provinces, so in a way, my 14 year old dream came true.
My number is inverted now. I’m 41. I still use books and movies and plays and music as a way to leave the trappings of the adult world, a world VASTLY more disappointing than I was led to believe as a child. Sure, I can eat what I want and go to bed when I want, but I also pay taxes and clean and raise children and have a job. But I have my dreams. Tucked away where I can call upon them when needed. I still read books and fall in love with the mythical worlds weaved for me. I even write books where I can bend the fantasy to my own will and whimsy. Songs still transport me and movies are where I give over my heart and soul to be drawn into another place and time.
So, it’s no surprise that when the live action Beauty and the Beast was announced that I immediately professed that I would not only see this in theatre, but that we would all go, husband, wife and the three children still remaining at home. No one minded. When your mother is a dreamer, she tends to influence her children.
The day approached and the closer we got, the more excited we became. The kids would frequently play the trailers on the internet and I, the eternal crier, would more often than not, feel my eyes growing hot with anticipation.

On Sunday we crammed our five adult forms into the car and drove to the theatre where Belle awaited. As we sat in a row at the back of the theatre, I leaned over to my husband and whispered “I love that 22 years of marriage later, you’re still taking me to Disney movies. Only now we bring our children.” He tried to pretend like that didn’t make him “catch the feels” too, but I know it did. He has been much more sentimental since his heart attacks.
The show started and transported is exactly what we were. My youngest, the 15 year old, 6’2 man-child sitting beside me, spent the entire show holding my hand, or laying his head on my shoulder, or hugging me. My girls sat at the end silently letting tears fall. The movie was perfection. It should be held up as an example of how to bring a beloved animation to live action. I won`t go into the details of the myriad of ways I loved it, because this post would simply be too long.
It was beautiful visually, artistically, musically and in it`s composition. The casting was perfect and I truly wanted to step through that screen and into Belle`s world.
We left the theatre that evening to go home to the world that we built. It`s warm, inviting and loving. It`s full of laughter, and yes, sometimes tears. Usually mine. It`s teenagers and adult children who still hug their parents. It`s kids who were brought up to love and to treat people with kindness and dignity and inclusion. With all the mistakes and pitfalls I’ve taken in my life, it`s my deepest source of pride to see the family that we built and what we`ve built it into. Even with my love for escaping through books and music and movies and plays, it’s still that Prince Charming of mine that I come back to.

And he still kisses my hand.

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I have a hard core love of reading. It’s been going on now for 36 years, since I first consciously remember picking up and pouring over picture books lying on my tummy in the living room of my house. I can even remember which books were my favourites then. Because books leave imprints on me. And the ones I love, I love forever.

The same can be said for all of the things I’m passionate about in my life. I love music, but some musicians imprinted me and I will always love them over others. Pink. The Beatles. Mozart. Harry Chapin.

Just like I have my go-to songs to listen to depending on a mood I want to indulge, so too do I have go-to authors and even go-to books. I read Tigana at least once a year. I’ve read some of my Maeve Binchy’s so often I’ve had to replace copies. I’ve read Jodi Picoult’s Lone Wolf about a dozen times. I could go on.

Many years ago, before she was on my radar as a writer, I saw the movie In Her Shoes. 2005 to be exact. I love Toni Collette. I love Shirley Maclaine. The movie is funny and poignant and lovely and then I saw the best thing to see when I like a movie. Based on the book by

Who was this Jennifer Weiner? I went to the library and took out a copy of In Her Shoes. It’s different than the movie, as most books are, but much better. I knew that had I read the book first, I would not have enjoyed the movie the way I did. I am usually suspect of adaptations anyway, they tend to ruin the ‘meat’ of the book, with very few exceptions. (John Green’s Fault in our Stars is an exception. They barely changed a thing.)

Anyway, as tends to happen with me, once I read one book I like from an author, I tend to seek out all of their work. And I did. In the ten years since that moment I have read every book of Jennifer’s and I now own most of them. (I am also a bit of a book hoarder. If I like the author, I will ‘collect’ as many of their books as possible)

I fell deeply in love with her last book, All Fall Down. It was a bit of a departure from her normal but, as I understand, it was also a personal story for her, as her estranged father died from a drug overdose. Stories that in some way connect personally resonate with a rhythm all their own and this one spoke to me on levels that I didn’t even understand well at the time. I’m not a drug addict, don’t get me wrong, but the feelings of being a woman and feeling like you are the only one holding the world together is not an alien concept to me. Probably not to most women, and my love was deeply cemented. Even more so than before.

Three days ago I got my hands on a copy of her newest book Who Do You Love. A bit of a throwback to her previous writing it’s about a couple who are each others soul mates. But, it’s not so straightforward. They lose and find one another over and over again through their lives and what started out for me as a bit of a fluffy summer read by mid point of the book had me sinking deeper into the inner workings of these characters yet again. That’s the thing about Weiner’s writing that I love so much. You think you’re getting a great summer “beach read” kind of book, but then she sneaks in and speaks to your soul and forces you to examine things in your own mind through the minds of her characters. She is brilliant in this.

Rachel and Andy meet as children in a hospital. It’s a chance meeting, she is escaping the boredom of her room where she is a long term patient for cardiac care and he is a scared kid with a broken arm in the ER, alone and waiting for his mom. Their meet-cute is truly adorable and we get to watch them unexpectedly touch lives again and again.
While we wait for Rachel and Andy to grow up and get together, Jennifer weaves us through the tales of their lives and who they are. Andy is that kid with the hard hand dealt to him who rises to the world’s stage and Rachel is that well off, popular girl who realizes one day that her rose coloured glasses have been doing her no favours. As they come to love one another, hurt one another, leave one another, we are left questioning our own ‘what might have beens’ and taking a hard look at the consequence of actions. The fallout of the choices we make. We see Andy’s mighty star rise and then plummet to the earth. We watch Rachel go from protected and pampered girl, to finally a woman who can stand proudly on her own. It’s a beautiful journey.

In my own life, if I love something, like an author, or a musician. A friend or a family member, I love them fiercely and completely. Sometimes wearing my own rose coloured glasses. Sometimes, to my own fall from grace.
In this case though, I know my love is not misplaced or misguided. Jennifer Weiner’s books keep on getting better. She both challenges me and delights me and Who Do You Love is no exception.

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I had the greatest idea today for a movie…maybe ever.

Liam Neeson as James Bond.
His newly discovered long lost daughter has been kidnapped.

007…Taken, not stirred.

I’m a friggin genius.

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Movie review time!

So last week our oldest daughter Keisha came home for a holiday visit, to our delight and to the surprise of the younger kids who didn’t know she was coming. It was wonderful. And it just so happened that two of the things we had planned were trips to the movie theater.

Last Tuesday, Keisha, Aislinn and I went to see Into the Woods. My other girl, Kathryn, was supposed to join us but she was suffering with a really bad cold and we didn’t want to expose her to other people in a theater. She was not happy, but she understood.

Well, it’s no secret that I love theater, especially live theater and Hollywood has been happily obliging this love of mine by occasionally turning great musicals into movies. With the exception of Rock of Ages, which, in my humble opinion, was butchered as a film. Nevertheless, for the most part I am truly loving musicals when they are theatrically released.

So, Into the Woods. What a spectacular film! The cast was on point, with the young boy who had played Gavroche in Les Miz playing Jack (of beanstalk fame) and a girl playing Little Red with the most amazing voice!!
For those of you with small children who have seen trailers and know that this movie is about fairy tales, be forewarned, it is NOT for small children. Most of us have forgotten, or never really knew in the first place, that fairytales were originally stories of warning invented to scare young children and teach lessons, not the watered down fairy tales that we have all been Disney-fied to over the years, as magical as those are. Into the Woods focuses on the original stories where people die, are blinded, cut off body parts and basically not all endings are happy ones. I, who went through a huge phase as a teenager obsessing over original Grimm’s Tales, loved it. Small kids would likely be very scared.
The other thing of note is the wolf/little red scenes. I’ve not seen in so many years a pair of songs so saturated in sexual innuendo. Both disturbing and hilarious. And then disturbing again.

All in all, I really loved it and have already bought the soundtrack. Now that Kathryn is better I might even go and see it again….you know, for her sake.

Then, on Friday, Keisha and I went to see Unbroken. The movie that is getting all kinds of conversation going about how it’s being shut out of the Oscar nominations. Something about how Angelina Jolie is difficult to work with. Well, I don’t care if she is difficult or not as a director in this film, she was brilliant. First of all, I love true stories (or based on true stories) and this one was incredible. The story itself is gut-wrenching and achingly sad and strong but what moved me into connecting so hard with this characters (brilliantly played, by the way) was the cinematography. I *felt* the roaring of those planes. I cringed in my seat when the bullets flew and I braced myself when the plane crashed. Because I really felt it. Jolie managed to really put me into the story and that is not easy to do in movies.
It’s a long movie, but it’s totally worth it and anyone who watches (or tries to watch) all the nominated movies every year as I do will hopefully agree with me that this is being shut out for petty reasons, not because it doesn’t deserve to be up there among the best of the best of the year.

Anyway, we have one more request from the fam to see this year. Night at the Museum three. Yes, our kids are all older, but we love “kids” movies just as much as we love “adult” ones and this movie looks just as funny, if not more so, than the first two so we’re going to try to make a night of it.

I hope you all had wonderful holidays and are welcoming in the new year with optimism and happiness.

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First of all, I have to apologise for not posting a Funny Saturday this weekend, to say we were busy would be an understatement, but I won’t bore you with those details.

SPOILERS!!!!

Friday, opening night, we were in the theatre watching (and crying) to The Fault in our Stars.

We had gotten our tickets on tuesday and a good thing, as the movie sold out for Friday and Saturday nights by Thursday, as two poor girls who showed up at the theatre the night of found out. I felt kind of bad for them. If you follow me on facebook or twitter, you will have seen the amazing t-shirts my daughter Keisha made for us all.

And the cake

So we had a bit of a party at the house before we left. Sparkling grape juice so we could “drink the stars” and a house full of four excited teenagers.

I had heard leading up to the actual movie, how close the screenplay was to the book and for once, I wasn’t dissapointed with the changes made from book to script. In fact, there were so FEW changes that the ones they made were negligible. It was spectacular. The ONLY downfall, if one could be named, was that I already knew what was going to happen and started getting choked up before the really sad parts even hit the screen. But that is a small thing.

The cast: I loved the cast and Ansel Elgort deserves and ocsar nod for his role. Seriously. His emotional range was spectacular and although for most of the movie we see him smiling (or so subtly flirting with his eyes that even I felt like blushing), when his character finally breaks down, I truly believed it. Watching him fight back tears on the riverbank when he tells Hazel that he “lit up like a Christmas Tree”, and seeing his lip quiver, it undid me. The scene in the car outside the gas station, he just let it all go. Tremendously. Tragically.
Shailene Woodley was also excellent in her portrayal of Hazel. I knew I would like her, but I wasn’t as struck by her as Ansel. She was very good, but she didn’t reach me the same way.
Without going down an entire cast breakdown, I will say that the rest of the enseble was perfectly cast and I loved all of them. The only character who didn’t resonate with me very well was Willem Defoe as Peter Van Houten. I couldn’t help thinking that (tragically, he died a short while ago, so couldn’t) that Philip Seymore Hoffman would have been so much better in that part. Peter was a bigger man in the book, Willem, although a great actor, is tiny. It gave me too much disconnect. But again, no adaptation is ever going to live up to the way it plays out in your head when you’re reading.

I truly did love the movie overall. I smiled through my own tears when I heard the stifled breathing and sniffles of a sobbing audience. My youngest daughter Kathryn curled herself into the crook of my arm as she cried through at least twenty minutes of film time. Thank goodness we all brought kleenexes.

Now I’m looking forward to seeing Chef, Jon Favreau’s new movie. After that, there are a lot of really great books-to-movies being released this summer, as I mentioned in a post last week.

In other news, last night I auditioned for a musical with the local theatre company. I shot for the main character, but will be happy with even a small part of the ensemble. Just getting back into a theatre again felt great.

It looks like another very beautiful day out there, so have a happy Monday everyone.
Take care!

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I can’t wait. I re-read the book again and put it down last night knowing that this movie is going to reduce me to runny, messy tears in the theatre.

Keisha bought plain white t-shirts and fabric paint and we’re all going to go tonight with quotes from the movie displayed on our chests. We have sparkling grape juice so we can “drink the stars” and it’s going to be an all around amazing night of bonding with my kids.

It has been amazing watching this book go from much talked about to best seller, to film. I will take lots of pictures and try to post them up as the night goes on. Watch this post for updates.

Are you going to see TFIOS this weekend?

Movie review to come…presumably after the tears dry up.

Happy Friday!

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I just want to talk for a minute about the recent rash of books being made into movies.
Yes I know, this has been going on for decades, but it seems lately that there have been more than ever.

With Friday’s opening of The Fault in Our Stars, I’ve been paying more attention to the coming releases and I couldn’t be more excited.
If I Stay, a book I literally devoured by Gayle Forman. It’s YA and it’s a short read, to be sure, but it is gripping from the very beginning and it doesn’t let go until the very end. No spoilers on this one from me, but again, it will be one to bring a box of kleenex with to the theatre.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. If you’ve read the book, you already know that this is a crafty, twisting journey that will play out beautifully on the big screen. If you haven’t read the book, and hopefully no one gives away the plot to you, get ready to have your socks knocked off and for a HUGE twist. I didn’t see it coming when I read the book, and I’m usually pretty good at predicting plot twists, but I remember literally yelling at the book “What the actual fuck!” and throwing it down on my bed. Yes, it was that good. Don’t prepare for any happy endings in this one, either, the ending (although probably very fitting to the characters) left myself and a lot of people on Goodreads in a bit of a frustrated fury. Masterful.

The Giver, by Lois Lowry should be a very interesting movie as well. I haven’t read this book, but I do know the plot and story line and it should be really interesting to watch. Great premise. There are tones of Farenheit 451 to the basic plotline (except we’re dealing with emotions and memories, not books).

Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places is also becoming a movie (another great one of hers I read), James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, and for kids, Alexander and the No Good, Very Bad Terrible Day. I probably got that title wrong.
There are more, don’t think the list stops there. These are just the ones that caught my attention.

But…
Here is the part I’m really excited about. Everytime I hear or read some reporter or pundit giving sound bites about how in this age of technology we’ve all forgotten to read, I laugh a little to myself. I have found that the love of books, by especially recently the teen market, has grown exponentially. Not only that, when fans find out that a book they love is headed for the big screen, they become slightly militant that the screen version remain true to the story. This, in my opinion, just means better quality movies.
I remember back when my oldest was into Eragon. I mean, really into it. It was the first book that had really captured him as a reader and guys, he was really not a reader before this book. He read the series and then…the movie came out.
What a letdown. It was so badly changed from the book that in that one movie, they guarenteed that it would be near impossible to make movies of the subsequent books. I feel like the series itself also lost a lot of its momentum. Fans were angry and I’m willing to bet that Christopher Paolini was none too thrilled.

That’s why with TFIOS, I’ve been so thrilled to watch not only how involved John Green was with the movie process, but how much the team (directors, screen writers, cast) cared about the story and strove to make the movie serve its message. Seeing videos of John on his YouTube channel talking about how he cried watching them film scenes, and then cried again when he saw the final product have solidified for me the knowledge that this movie will deliver what the book served up.
Also, how cool has it been to watch the book author be just as big a part of the press junket as the movie team? A blue carpet greeted all, as well as thousands of screaming fans, to the debut in New York just the other day. Buzz is insane. We picked up our tickets last night.

As most authors do, I have of course had my fantasy moments wondering who would play my characters should one of my books be made into a movie one day. I already know where I would want it set for filming. 🙂

What movies from books are you looking forward to in the next few months?

tickets

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