Crazy Knitter Reviews

The place where this crazy knitter reviews books, TV, movies and recipes

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - #3

A wonderul novel that transports the reader to far off places and times. It is 1972 and a young woman finds some old yellow papers in her father's librabry. She begins to read them at once and realizes that her father has a major secret. She convinces her father to take her on a trip where he begins to tell her the horrifying tale. It seems that it all started with his mentor, Professor Rossi, and a book he found while he was a student at Oxford. The book contained only one thing, an image of a dragon holding a banner that says Drakyla. Soon the horrifying tale of horrors thought to be made up is unfolded. It seems that Dracula, Vlad Tepes, is alive and well somewhere in Eastern Europe and the father, Paul, had tried to track him down to find his kidnapped mentor. Soon Paul disappears and the young woman is on her own mission to find someone she loves. However, there are people who will stop at nothing to keep the secrets of Vlad Tepes and want to stop Paul and his daughter before all is revealed.

This was a wonderful book. While on the surface it seems to be about Dracula there is actually a much deeper story being told. It is a story of lose and longing. Kostova descripes in amazing detail some exotic and far off places - Istanbul, Hungary, France and Bulgaria. Many people may feel that she could have left a lot of detail out and made the book shorter but I think it adds to the richness of the story. I highly recommend this novel and please do not let the fact that it is 600-plus pages detour you - it is well worth the time invested.


Bowery at Midnight (1942)

Not a typical Bela Legosi flick but it was interesting. Legosi plays Professor Frederick Brenner aka Karl Wagner. During the day he is a preofessor of psychology at the local college but by night he is a gangste. He runs a bowery at night where local criminals come together. There he recruits some of the underworld's finest to commit crimes for him. They do so gladly never knowing what awaits them once their job is over - death. Now one of the professor's students has found out about him the professor must get rid of him and quick.

This movie was not great and not bad - it was just alright. Legosi was not his usal self in this film which was the major disappointment. Also, there was an entire storyline that was never fully explained or resolved which was very annoying. Worth checking out if it is on TV but do not waste your money on it.


When a Stranger Calls (2006)

A so-so remake of a classic. Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) is being punished by her parents for going over her cell phone minutes. They make her babysit for Mr and Mrs Mandrakis (Derek de Lint and Kate Jennings Grant), a wealthy doctor and his second wife. While at the huge deserted mansion she starts to receive phone calls. At first she thinks it is her ex-boyfriend playing a prank on her. Soon though the calls become menacing in nature. The caller keeps asking her if the children are ok and if she has checked them recently. To make matters worse the maid and her friend who came to visit have seemingly disappeared. Soon the police trace the calls and they are coming from inside the house. Now she must try to take the children and escape from the maniac who is stalking her.

This movie was alright but probably not as good as the original. There were no moments that made me jump which is unusual for me. Most of the "scares" were manufactured horror movie stereotypes. However, the last 15 minutes of the the film were very intense and enjoyable. Belle was slightly annoying as the girl who is being stalked but did an alright job overall. This is the remake of the 1979 film of the same name starring Carol Kane and Charles Durning. I think your time would be better spent watching the original than this so-so remake.


Washington Melodrama (1941)

A nice little drama. Calvin Claymore (Frank Morgan) is a Sentor living in Washington DC. He is trying to push through a bill that will help the people of Europe out financially and is coming up against a lot of resistance. To make matters worse his wife, Elizabeth (Fay Holden), and daughter, Laurie (Ann Rutherford), are in South America for the summer and he is extremely lonely. One night a friend takes him out to a local club run by Whit King (Dan Dailey), a real sleeze ball. While Calvin is there he meets a beautiful young woman named Mary Morgan (Anne Gwynne). They strike up a platonic relationship and spend a lot of time together. Soon Claymore's wife and daughter are due to return from their holiday so Calvin decides to end the relationship. Soon though Mary ends up dead and Whit decides to blackmail Calvin to keep it quiet. However, Claymore does not realize that it is Whit that killed Mary.

I really enjoyed this little mystery. Morgan and Rutherford were both wonderful as the father and daughter team. Dailey was also wickedly great as Whit, the murderer/blackmailer. All in all this was a nice little movie for an afternoon in.


Monday, June 25, 2007

The Starter Wife (2007)

I was not sure about this series but I really enjoyed the first episode. Molly Kagan (Debra Messing) seems to have everything. She is the wife of a top Hollywood studio executive, has a beautiful daughter and anything her heart desires. She runs her home very efficiently so her husband never has to worry about any small detail. However, that all changes when one night after a studio party her husband, Kenny (Peter Jacobson), tells her that he wants a divorce. This is when she realizes that she is a starter wife - the wife who supports her husband on his rise to the top and is dumped almost as soon as he gets there. Soon she is shunned at her usual hangouts and by her "friends". One of her best friends, Joan (Judy Davis), allows her to stay at her house in Malibu while she goes away for the summer. It is here that she begins to rebuild her life and look for love again. Will it be Lou (Joe Montegna), he husband's boss, or Sam (Stephen Moyer), the local beach bum, who helps heal her broken heart?

This was a very cute show. I have not watched beyond the first two hours but I enjoyed it and will definetly watch them (they are all on my DVR). If you are a Debra Messing fan then you have to see this show.


A Global Affair (1964)

A nice movie with a wonderful message. Lisette (Michele Mercier) is a tour guide at the United Nations building. One day after a tour she finds a baby abandoned in the foyer. She takes the little girl to the security office to figure out what to do. It seems that this child will become the pawn in a global custody battle if things are not handled correctly. This fight could lead to an important resolution benefiting the children of world being defeated. The Under Secretary (Nehemiah Persoff) decides to leave the baby with Frank Larrimore (Bob Hope), a UN employee who was just on the radio the other night talking about the importance of the children's resolution. However, he is a bachelor and has no idea how to raise a child. Soon word of the baby gets out and Frank is charged with finding appropriate adoptive parents for the little girl. Soon women from all over the world are throwing themselves at him so he will choose their country for the baby to live in. Of course this has disaterous effects on his budding relationship with Lisette.

I really enjoyed this film. It had a wonderful message - that all children are children of the world. Hope was funny but his comedy was toned down in this film. Look for Yvonne de Carlo (aka Lily Munster) as the femae representative of Spain. All in all this is a funny and uplifiting movie.


Bachelor in Paradise (1961)

A cute little sex comedy. A.J. Niles (Bob Hope) is the best selling author of a series of bachelor books describing the wants of women all over the world. Even though he has made a lot of money he is in trouble with the IRS. It seems that his accountant has run off with his money and has not paid A.J.'s taxes for several years. To save A.J. from prision his publisher has a wonderful idea. he will set him up under an assumed name in Paradise, one of the best subdivision's in America. There he will write about what the American suburban woman wants. However, A.J. causes a major rift in the neighborhood. All the husbands are jealous and want him out. However, there is one woman who really wants him to stay - his landlady Rosemary Howard (Lana Turner).

This was a fun movie to watch. Hope and Turner were funny as the mismatched pair of A.J. and Rosemary. Paula Prentiss was also wonderful as one of A.J.'s disciples, Laura Delavane. All in all it was a nice movie to watch on a Saturday afternoon.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Old Dark House (1932)

A spooky classic film. On a very stormy night Philip Waverton (Raymond Massey), his wife Margaret (Gloria Stuart) and their friend Roger Penderel (Melvyn Douglas) are driving though the Welsh countryside. Eventually the road they are on is washed away and they have to stop for the night. The go to a large old castle nearby to seek shelter. There they are greeted by the a mute man who we soon learn in named Morgan (Boris Karloff). He is the butler for the Femm family who live in the house. Horace (Ernest Thesiger) and his sister Rebecca (Eva Moore) live in the home with their 102 year old father, Roderick (Elspeth Davidson). Soon they soon realize that they are not alone in the house. It seems that the Femm's brother, Saul, is locked in the attic. He is a psychopath and will burn the house down at any moment. Now Morgan has let him out of his room and everyone is afraid.

This was a nice suspenseful movie. The acting was a tad over the top but that was very common for this era. Karloff, however, was wonderful as the must butler who is not all there. It is also nice to see a young Gloria Stuart since all I really know her from is Titanic. There was a remake of this film made in 1963 starring Tom Poston. However, the original is well worth watching if you like this genre.


And Baby Makes Three (1949)

This was a very sweet comedy. Jackie Walsh (Barbara Hale) is about to be married to Herbie Fletcher (Robert Hutton), heir to the Fletcher matress fortune. However, at the alter Jackie faints. her Uncle Bill (Lloyd Corrigan) soon discovers that she is pregnant. Jackie was recently divorced from her first husband, Vern Walsh (Robert Yooung), and he is the father of the baby. Of course this causes a major problem for Jackie. Her future in-laws, Mr and Mrs Marvin Fletcher (Nicholas Joy and Billie Burke) do not want a scandal so they want Herbie to convince Jackie to share custody with Vern. However, Jackie is convinced that Vern would be a bad influence and the child and wants sole custody. Of course when the beautiful Wanda York (Janis Carter), the named other woman in the Walshes divorce, comes to town and becomes engaged to Vern things get really compicated.

This was a very cute movie. Robert Young was very funny as the father-to-be. Barabara Hale was also wonderful as Jackie, the woman caught in the middle of this crazy story. If you like romantic screwball comedies you would enjoy this little gem.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Army Wives

The story of four very different women who all meet at the army post where their husbands are stationed. Denise Sherwood (Catherine Bell) is the perfect wife and mother with a major secret she is hiding. Claudia Joy Holden (Kim Delaney) is the wife of one of the highest ranking officers on post and is looked up to by almost all the other wives. Pamela Moran (Brigid Brannagh) is a woman who does the unthinkable to keep her family out of financial ruin, with a major tarnish to her reputation. Roxy LeBlanc (Sally Pressman) is the newest wife on the block, having just married one of the soldiers after knowing him for four days. There is also an army husband, Roland Burton (Sterling K. Brown) is a psychiatrist whose wife, Joan (Wendy Davis), has just returned, changed, from Iraq. As their lives become intwined what problems will arise for the group.

I really enjoyed this show. It was nice to see two actresses from two of my favorite shows, Catherine Bell from JAG and Kim Delaney from Philly (which was cancelled WAY to soon), back on TV. However, I love Sally Pressman as Roxy. Some people on IMDB have called her character white trash but I see her as a woman who has made mistakes and is now changing her life for the better. I highly recommend this show, good dramas are hard to come by these days.


Bubba Ho-tep (2002)

A very silly and cheesy movie. At a nursing home in East Texas we meet a man who claims to be the real Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell). We learn that he traded places with an impersonator and that is the man who died. He fell off a stage while performing as an impersonator of himself one night and broke his hip. In the home he befriends a man who believes that he is John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis). Together they soon realize that something is not quite right at the home. One night JFK is attacked by a soul sucking Egyptian mummy. Soon JFK and Elvis are researching how to get rid of the ancient soul sucker before it is to late.

This movie is not for everyone but I enjoyed it. It was not the best movie I have seen but it was mildly entertaining. It was nice to see Ossie Davis in a comedic role. I love how he walked around saying the government painted him black to cover up the fact that he is still alive. Bruce Campbell was at his usual cheesy best as Elvis. There is a sequel scheduled for release in 2008 called Bubba Nosferatu and the Curse of the She-Vampires. Sounds like another interesting one. However, if you like B horror movies you will enjoy this movie.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Ball of Fire (1941)

This was a very cute romantic comedy. Bertram Potts (Gary Cooper) is a professor specializing in grammer. For the last several years he has been working with 7 other scholars on an encyclopedia for the Totten Foundation. He is working on the slang entry when he realizes that he knows nothing about his subject. That is when he decides to go out into the real world and learn the lingo of the day. He ends up in a club where a beautiful young woman named Sugarpuss O'Shea (Barbara Stanwyck)is the star. He decides that she must join his roundtable discussion and goes into her dressing room to invite her. This is when we learn that she is the girlfriend of Joe Lilac (Dana Andrews), a gangster who is wanted by the police for murder. Joe's thugs decide she needs to hide out and she knows the perfect place - the foundation with the 8 professors! However, things get very complicated when Bertram and Sugarpuss fall in love.

I really enjoyed this little gem. Cooper and Stanwyck had a wonderful chemistry. It was nice to see the out of their usual dramatic element. All the actors who portrayed the professors were terrific. There was a remake made in 1948 called A Song is Born starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. However, I think this original is worth seeing first.


Reunited: The Real World Las Vegas

Our favorite roommates are back! Five years ago the cast of the Real World: Las Vegas made reality TV history. There was a lot of sex, alcohol, fights, sex and more sex. Now they are back and seem to be better than ever. The first episode centered around Arissa, who alienated herself from the rest of the cast. It seems that 4 years ago she was living with former roommates (and lovers at the time) Alton and Irulan. Something happened in a bathroom between Arissa and Alton that brought their tight knit friendship to an end. Now the claws are out and the girls are ready to fight. If you liked this season of TRW then you have to see this show!