Friday, July 24, 2009

Harry Potter and Me

I always think the last Harry Potter movie I’ve seen is the best one. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is no exception. Of course, the first film holds a special place in my heart because I was so excited to see the characters come to life on the big screen. Although I felt concern about whether or not the film version would enchant me as much as J.K. Rowling’s delightful book, I needn’t have worried. Everything from Harry’s fast-paced airborne Quidditch match to the ferocious three-headed dog named "Fluffy" appeared on screen almost exactly as I pictured the characters and events in my own mind. It was uncanny!

The following four Harry Potter movies were definitely entertaining enough to keep my sense of wonder alive. I marveled at the daring of Harry and his friends Hermione and Ron as they solved the mystery of The Chamber of Secrets; I cheered their discovery that Sirius Black was much more than a criminal in The Prisoner of Azkaban; and I shuddered at Harry’s harrowing graveyard meeting with the evil Lord Voldemort in Goblet of Fire. While watching The Order of the Phoenix, I felt Harry's frustration as he grappled with his own inner demons and the abuse of power.

Which brings us to The Half-Blood Prince. My worry about Harry intensified here. What were Dumbledore and Professor Snape up to? Who should be trusted? Why did Dumbledore give Harry such a dangerous mission? How can Harry uncover the truth about the villainous Lord Voldemort’s time as a student at Hogwarts? And who is The Half-Blood Prince? Clearly, there’s evil afoot, and the stage is being set for a showdown between Harry and Voldemort, which will take place at the end of the franchise.

I think this latest Harry Potter outing offers the most humor (especially when teen-age romances begin to bloom) as well as the most wondrous visuals so far. Director David Yates and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel must be modern wizards, for -- with the help of magical special effects, sets, music and costumes -- they have created a movie of incredible beauty despite its mostly dark themes.

It’s always a treat to see well-made movies emphasizing the value of courage, friendship and loyalty – and despite fascinating special effects and an emphasis on magic, I believe that’s the important message delivered by all the Harry Potter films.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009


Thanks to Queenz of Media and Rebbekah White of Heal Yourself Talk Radio for inviting me to guest on their BlogTalkRadio shows this week.

On Monday night, July 20, I’ll be one of the “BTR All Stars” featured by Queenz of Media during their 12:30 a.m. show (Eastern Time), and on Wednesday, July 23, at 1 p.m. (Eastern Time), Rebbekah and I plan to talk about fun movies that “can make you forget your troubles.”

Here are the links for your listening pleasure:

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mel Brooks Tribute

If anyone in showbiz today deserves a tribute, it’s Mel Brooks. That’s why I’m delighted to hear about plans by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to honor this comic legend. On July 24, Brooks will be feted in “a hilarious and delightful evening with film clips and personal stories from Mel’s artistic collaborators and friends.” The Academy promises to present many of Brooks’ outrageous moments on film during this special program. How I wish I could be there!

As an avid Mel Brooks fan, I would love to thank him for all the pleasure he’s given me through his movies, especially Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, To Be or Not To Be, and The Producers (both the original and the musical re-make).

I am in awe of Brooks’ talent as a comedian, writer, producer, director and composer. He’s received three Oscar® nominations -– for the adapted screenplay of Young Frankenstein, for the Blazing Saddles lyrics, for The Producers (1968) screenplay -– and won the golden statuette for the latter. He also earned an Oscar® for The Critic, a very funny short film in which he did the hilarious narration.

My favorite Mel Brooks movie scene? There are so many, it’s hard to choose. But the one I love the most is his Frank Sinatra-like singing of “High Anxiety” in the film of the same name, which is a brilliant send-up of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Congratulations to a showbiz legend!

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