Posted in Books, Chocolate, Doctor Who, Food, Movies, Political, Televison, Uncategorized, Weight

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Turns 50

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I’m celebrating 50,000+ views on my blog (Thank you! Thank you!) and the 50th anniversary (published 1964) of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, published 1964.

Loved with this book, then I saw the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – my mind was forever altered.
A factory full of chocolate? It was one thing to read about it, another to see a river of chocolate

I still love the 1971 Gene Wilder version best (directed by David L. Wolper), maybe because it’s steeped in childhood memories or because for me, it’s Gene Wilder’s definitive performance.

This is where I fell in love. Gene Wilder and chocolate. Sign me up!

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Wilder is the ultimate Willy Wonka. He didn’t go over-the-top weird, instead opting for a subtle, damaged man-child who was trapped in his own reclusion, a Howard Hughes-like creative genius who couldn’t cope in a reality that wasn’t of his own making. Wilder’s transcendent blend of cordiality, callousness, awe, and animosity make you think he is Wonka, he just is.

Jack Albertson was delightful as Grandpa Joe, who apparently couldn’t get out of bed to get a job, but could dance a jig and spend the day at a chocolate factory.

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Charlie Bucket is the only child Dahl and Wonka even remotely like due to his meek and accommodating nature, but Charlie wasn’t as obedient as he seemed, he spent money on a chocolate bar that he wasn’t supposed to; so even in the most co-operative child Dahl found a fault.
The 1971 version was renamed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to cross-promote UK’s The Willy Wonka Candy Company who had bought the rights from Roald Dahl.

I never understood why Roald Dahl was classed as a children’s author, he clearly disliked children, at times rather intensely. His stories and books reflect this.
What he hated more than children were their parents, specifically parents who didn’t raise their children properly, at least from his point of view.

Imagine what Roald Dahl would think of children and their parents now?

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The Friday Project/ Harper Collins

I recently read A Brief History of Chocolate (Steve Berry and Phil Norman) which I must warn you will not only vastly entertain and inform, but make you crave chocolate.

Despite best intentions this book lacked something, what was it? Oh yes, chocolate. They should sell each copy with a chocolate bar or coupon for a free chocolate bar. There, a marketing idea, no charge…although I’d take a thank you in chocolate bars.

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I also loved the darker, creepier Tim Burton vision of Willy Wonka.

Johnny Depp played him weird and it worked. Also damaged, but in a deranged-metrosexual-game-show-host-who-moonlights-as-a-rock-star-on-acid-way.

Veruca Salt was a bad egg or nut in all versions, but really, her parents spoiled her. Also, Augustus Gloop, Mike Teevee, and Violet Beauregarde. All annoying children, but allowed, even encouraged to be so by their parents.

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 The first time I walked into the Hershey chocolate factory in Smith Falls, Ontario the smell was divine, like melted chocolate floating through clouds of more chocolate just before it rained chocolate.

I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face, the pure wonder as he watched row after row after row of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups racing happily along the conveyor belt.

I’m sure I had a similar look as I saw the giant vat of chocolate I wanted to swim in, not figuratively, literally.

No Oompa-Loompas, no chocolate waterfall, trees made of taffy, Everlasting Gobstoppers, no fizzy lifting drinks, or Wonka though, but lots of chocolate for sale and sample.

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Alas Hershey closed the factory after 45 years, losing a great tourist attraction, and hundred of jobs. Several other large employers closed, shipping more Canadian jobs overseas, 1ww10leaving 40% of the town unemployed.

Now a flame has been lit as Smith Falls rallies; the factory at 1 Hershey Drive now produces medical marijuana, which, in a great cosmic irony would have made more people buy chocolate.

There are still times, when I open a chocolate bar wrapper and think I see a flash of gold.

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Posted in Books, Movies, Televison, Uncategorized

Big Fish

Big Fish is so emotional and so sincere, depending on the place you’re in, it can be almost difficult to watch, but worth every minute.

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Tim Burton directed this after losing his father and mother between 2000-2002. Although not close to either or perhaps because of that, Burton is able to meticulously highlight the pain, sorrow, regret, and joy of the story; each are woven through each shot with a texture only loss can weave.bigfish4

There is no way to explain this movie except to say watching it is an unmitigated pleasure that you will want to  call on again and again.

The cast is exceptional in so many ways: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Marion Cotillard, Helena Bonham Carter, Danny DeVito, Robert Guillaume, Matthew McGrory, Steve Buscemi, Alison Lohman, Deep Roy, and Miley Cyrus (credited as Destiny Cyrus) among others.bigfish2

The 1998 novel, Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace gives us this fantastical tale of a man who has an astonishing gift for storytelling. On his deathbed he and his son try to reconcile.

John August follows the same path, but brings the tale onto the screen with words and images that wrap you in soft, warm blanket where you want to sip some tea and press replay.bigfish7

The son thinks he can never trust his father because he obviously wasn’t as his tall tales portrayed. The son had never looked past his own disbelief to his heart where his father’s stories had nestled, where he learned the stories were true in many ways, if he only believed.

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A film of rare proportions, with just the right mix adventure, magical storytelling, the glory of life and love, and raw emotion.

And music by Danny Elfman. Never forget that.

When I read the book I cried.

When I saw the movie I openly wept.

And still I never fully understood…

Now, sadly, I do.

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Posted in Doctor Who, Movies, Music, Televison, Uncategorized

Cheese Shadows

ImageOK, it’s really called Dark Shadows, not Cheese Shadows.

To be upfront I liked the original Dark Shadows and I like most stuff done by Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, Helena Bonham Carter so throw in Jonny Lee Miller and Michelle Pfeiffer in a supernatural comedy and hey, I’m there.

alicecooper1Oh yes, and they had Alice Cooper performing, er, need I say more?

darks1The critics tore this to shreds and let’s face it, what do they know? Audiences are made up of real people, we go to theatres to escape, to learn, laugh, groan, hide our eyes, smile, remember, and sometimes cry. We want to be thrilled, chilled, and be diverted from reality. We don’t have to be all snobby, oh, this film is so below our very esteem. Whatever. If you like it, there it is.

I was overtly pleased by this movie. It was campy and I mean that it the very bestDalek-made-of-a- rubbish-bin-with-a-plunger-and-whiskDoctor-Who-campy; there are only so many actors and directors who can pull that off. It oozes cheesiness and not just cheese, the more serious stinky types of cheese.

It has nuances, rambunctiousness, and subtle comedic flashes. I felt as I did the first time I was gifted with Beetlejuice.beetlej6This made me bubble up with happy.

Posted in Autism, Family, Holidays, Movies, Music, Televison, Uncategorized

Edward Scissorhands

1halloween7I sat watching Edward Scissorhands in 1990, mesmerized.

I laughed, I cried, I sighed, I railed against the injustice, and gave my heart to Johnny Depp. No worries, I’d given it before and since; it’s still in good working order. I’m sure he’d reciprocate if he knew I existed…or not.

Themes of bullying, prejudice, isolation, teen angst, self-awareness, hope, pain, betrayal, lies, dignity, honour, and love weave a dazzling web of stunningly brutal tragedy, comedy, and enchantment, in and out, in and out, each thread of this film somehow masses together in utter brilliant film magic.

The castle is gothic and delightful, but a place of secrets and loneliness.

The suburban neighbourhood is weird and flawed, but with creepy optimism and veracity.

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The contrast shows that hope and love can flourish anywhere, as can pain and deceit.

Lauded, loved, mocked, hated, and parodied (best, when Depp reprised his role on Family Guy…you have to see it to believe it). And still it has stunningly stood the test of time.

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Caroline Thompson, Stefan Czapsky, as well as the astonishing cast and crew did a superb task of articulating Tim Burton’s vision of Edward and his challenges and his triumphs. This film is truly a gift.

Vincent Price is categorically flawless in what turned out to be his last performance on film, ending a dramatic and spectacular career as the great gentleman of horror.

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 When Winona Ryder (Kim Boggs) is dancing in the ‘snow’ that Edward creates from the angel ice sculpture, it’s so heart-cutting because their love can never be, but they will always know it really is. Perhaps it’s so poignant because Depp and Ryder were a real-life couple at the time…and not meant to be.

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This is a perfect movie for Halloween, Christmas, or any day of the year.

Love, love, love this movie. Did I mention I love it, not sure if that was clear.

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Posted in Movies, Televison, Uncategorized

BEETLEJUICE

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I remember the first time I saw this at the theater, mouth agape in between fits of laughter. Strangely, I feel the same today.

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This movie is timeless. Just the right amount of serious and funny, lessons twirled in with candy-coated hilarity. Hard to believe it’s been 25 years. beetlej2

beetlej5There was always talk of a sequel, but as a fan I have to say, no thanks. When the first one is this perfect why ruin that legacy?

The cast really makes this movie, each plays their part to eerie fulfillment.

The writing is gruesomely amusing.

The direction of Tim Burton, a strange, mythical creature who entertains and astonishes, is sublime.

There is nothing I would change about this movie.

Described as comedy/horror/fantasy I can see how it’s all those things, but more.

A Halloween or anytime movie for the ages.

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetleju…

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Posted in Books, Movies, Music, Televison, Uncategorized

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

nbchrist2I went to see this movie on opening day 1993 and a few more times in the following weeks. I had no children with me. I also bought the VHS tape when it came out, the soundtrack, and later the DVD. I may or may not have some small toys from the movie and a few TNBC T-shirts over the years, one possibly bought as recently as today.

To say I love this movie is too serene.

Like most Tim Burton films TNBC is funny, dark, deep, and stabbed full of obvious messages.

The main character is a skeleton named Jack Skellington.nbchrist1
He’s the Big Mouldy Cheese of Halloween Town, he’s the Pumpkin King, he has it all, fame, fortune, adulation. But he’s bored with his job. He wants more.
He discovers Christmas Town and sees it’s marketing potential. He figures this must be what he was destined to do.
So he rebrands himself and retrofits Halloween Town to do this new gimmick, Christmas.
Things go terribly, dreadfully,  horribly wrong, of course.
The day or should I say eve is saved, mostly with the help of Sally who has loved Jack just as he was.nbchrist8
The Christmas brand is salvaged, as is that of Halloween.
Short story extended, Jack realizes he had everything he needed to make him miserably happy in Halloween Town all along. Cue a gruesomely romantic scene.
Crushed into all that? Lots of cool songs by Danny Elfman (sigh, I still love Oingo Boingo), mayhem, fun, drama, lots of funny lines…one of the best films every made.

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“Jack, please, I’m only an elected official here,
I can’t make decisions by myself!”
~Mayor of Halloween Town

It’s a marketing dream in one nightmare.

The making of this film is almost as interesting as the film itself. Astonishing. nbchrist6Many have poached from, peeled back, and tried to copy the mastery of this movie in the 20 years since it’s release, but this masterpiece is incomparable.

Makes sense that it’s really just a remake of another perfect classic, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Can’t see it? Think about it.

TNBC combines Christmas and Halloween so naturally, I’m in.