Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Comfort Reads and Comfort Flicks

I read a little cozy mystery last week called FARM FRESH MURDER by Paige Shelton, which had some crazy local characters, all capable of murder, and one cute amateur sleuth who nearly dies about four times before she solves the whole thing. I know many readers find these comfortable because they’re a comfortable blend of whodunit with a sprinkle of romance, a splash of spook, and heaps of laughter. Oh, and in the end, if it’s the right kind of cozy mystery, you get three or four recipes inspired by the book. Being my second biggest book collection is cookbooks, you can see why I might find these books fun.

This was pretty typical of the genre: there was a murder and we spent 280 pages trying to figure out who the heck did it. I think the author did an admirable job of keeping the tension going and there were some close calls. I’m not sure if I agree with the murderer she picked; I’m just not sure I got WHY they did it. Then again, there’s not always or usually logic in a murder, is there? Only in fiction is this “necessary”. All I know is that the book itself wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t quite the comfort read I was expecting. Perhaps because the murderer didn’t seem logical. I’m not sure.

But then this weekend, I also watched a movie you might have heard of, SKYFALL. And this is probably my one non-Anglophile thing, I’m not a fan of the James Bond movies. It’s not the character himself—the ultra super spy that can’t be killed no matter how close it may happen, he walks out with his tux still sharp. Bond, I like. It’s the girls…and the silly villains that get on my nerves because they’re so cartoony and insulting. (For some reason, I don’t find oversexed, alcoholic, witty super spy to be insulting at all. Odd.) Anyway, I don’t typically watch the movies; and the actors for these things are usually pretty darned hot, right? Seriously.

And I was watching SKYFALL, not altogether certain I would like it, but within the first ten minutes I was sure I was going to like this. Loved it actually. It’s the perfect comfort Bond flick—because let’s face it. He prevails. The man is shot in the first five minutes, falls into a river and doesn’t die of a gunshot wound, bleeding out, infection, or drowning? Riiiight. Even Batman is going, “Oh, come on!”

But what I loved about this particular Bond movie is how it pushed the boundaries of the “tried-and-true”, the things we enjoy most about a Bond movie with some really real thoughts. Like isn’t Bond getting a little old for this crap? How is he possibly still holding this together? But compared to some of the characters in this movie, Bond was the young-un. M and Kincade were both older than Bond—and still kicking ass. “Old people” (I use the term loosely) who still have it. But then you have Q, who looks 12 and is snotty as all get out about how smart he is (and how he wrote some of the programming the villain was using) and boom, the villain outwitted him with his own programs. Ah, youth. Don’t you love it when they’re humbled too? There’s some comfort that the young ones still need to take some lessons from the old dogs.

I mention the movie because it still ended up as a comfort flick. It ended how it needed to, how you expected it to end. Things were logical. Plots and subplot threads were all weaved and tied up at the end (appeals to my logical need). The song “Skyfall” had great meaning when I heard it again after watching the movie; and I even watched the movie again.

So…I think the discussion I’m having today is what is your comfort go-to read/eat/watch? Why? And what MUST be part of said comfort to make it a comfort or it just doesn’t work? Also did SKYFALL (if you saw it) work for you or do you prefer the Sean Connery ones? I realize SKYFALL might not be a comfort Bond flick for everyone. 


Terri Osburn said...

I never read cozy mysteries. Not sure why, as mysteries were my first loves. Started with Encyclopedia Brown. Maybe I'm not really a who-dun-it kind of reader.

I grew up with Roger Moore as James Bond and haven't watched the movies since then. Totally with you on the silly villains and blatant sexualization of the Bond Girls. But I admit, I've been tempted to see Skyfall. Maybe we'll rent it soon.

Watched the very end of one of my comfort watches this morning. When Harry Met Sally. Also on my list would be Love Actually, P&P (Knightly/MacFadyen), Princess Bride, and The Holiday. I love Moulin Rouge and Australia too.

Speaking of Baz Luhrmann, anyone else itching to see Gatsby? I can't wait.

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

I'm a huge cozy mystery fan and actually have plans to try my hand at writing one - one day. :)

Also a lover of Bond movies. I didn't mind the Bond Girls back in the day - it's the ones in the past 10 years that irk me. I haven't seen Skyfall yet but hope to soon.

For me, comfort reads are those that make me alternate crying and laughing. I need that emotional release both ways to feel like I come out of it feeling better and uplifted.

MsHellion said...

Terri, I've been more a romance fan than a mystery fan, even as a child. If it wasn't for the love of a boy, then it was for the love of a horse. It was always, always for the love. *LOL*

MsHellion said...

Sabrina, I can see you doing a cozy mystery--but they'd all take place at a gym or an athletic event--and all your "recipes" would be for health foods.

I'm curious why you like the old Bond movies but not the newer ones. I find that fascinating.

I do love books that offer both of those things--Anne Gracie, best comfort read.

P. Kirby said...

I'm all about action movies, but I've never been a fan of Bond. The character just doesn't do anything for me, even when played by Pierce Brosnan, who usually does all kinds of things for me.

I will say that Skyfall, of all the Bond movies, was the most memorable. I actually like the interplay between Bond and M. But I never need to see it again, so not a comfort film.

My definition of comfort requires characters who feel like old friends to me, folks I like to visit with time and time again; memorable dialogue; and some humor. Movies? Galaxy Quest, Serenity, Master and Commander, and How to Train Your Dragon, to name a few more cheerful flicks. But also a few dark films like the space horror flick Pitch Black.

Comfort reads are anything on my keeper shelf, and again, aren't necessarily "comforting." More like books I can pick up, open to any page, start reading and my muse is happy. Ranges from happy stuff like Bone by Jeff Smith (graphic novel) or Evanovich's Plum series, to dark, like Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. I'm thinking the book I'm reading now, Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, may end up on the shelf, because I love, love the author's voice.

I read cozy mysteries, but don't don't actually find them comforting. Go figure.

P. Kirby said...

"don't don't"? Giggle. The word so nice, I used it twice.

MsHellion said...

I've liked Pierce Brosnan in other things, and I think he looked good as a Bond, but I still wasn't big on the movies then. I think it was more the writing or the story than the actor though.

I'm not sure SKYFALL is a comfort in the sense to watch again and again, only that I found it comforting that even when they pushed the envelope with "realities", Bond still wins; we still root for Bond at the end. Hero triumphs--that's a comfort to me. I like "justice", et al.

I love the voice in Days of Blood and Starlight--I keep thinking it will be on a keeper shelf, even though I don't have a single other book or story like it, and if you described it, I would be like, "I wouldn't read that. That's too weird." But I totally fell in and the story was totally...normal, you know?

Oh and yes, GALAXY QUEST--one of my favorite movies. I adore that movie. Awesome.

Maureen said...

I adore Skyfall. I love the transition from old school to new school with old school going out by showing new school that it's not all that, so there!

They brought back Moneypenny and I adore it for that. Real comfort.

As for the movies that entrance me and make me want to just sit and watch and admire and feel comfy? Uh...the Bourne Movies. Strange, I know. They are just that well done.

And cozies are my go to...Ones I learn from, without trying. Recipe ones are good, so are herby ones. Or gardening. Antiques... And the ones that take me somewhere I want to go. Like Longmire and Wyoming.

irisheyes said...

Haven't seen SKYFALL yet, but I'm sure I will some day. I've seen all the Bond films so my OCD personality will want to check that one off my list. LOL

Funny you should mention Sean Connery. There is an ongoing feud in our home about the best Bond - I say Sean, DH says Roger Moore. I'm not real fond of Daniel Craig but I absolute love Judi Dench as M!

Comfort movies, huh?! RIO BRAVO, THE PINK PANTHER (the orginal with David Niven), TO CATCH A THIEF (just about any Cary Grant movie), YOURS, MINE AND OURS (the original again), GREASE, THE SURE THING. They all bring me back to happy times and happy memories, either when I was a kid watching with my family or a young adult out with girlfriends.

My family is a huge movie family! My mother jokes that she grew up in a movie house - spent any waking time she could there through her teens (30's and 40's) and then exposed her kids to them all. You pretty much cannot have a conversation with all of my brothers and sisters around without a few movie quotes being used. As my kids start to discover the old classics, it's pretty hilarious to see the look on their faces when they hear a line that's been used to death in our house over the years! So, my list above is pretty much the tip of the iceberg.

Comfort reads are all over the board. I guess it depends on what I'm looking for, but usually it's to revisit old friends and again get that happy feeling. Since I'm a series addict, it's usually a series by Mary Balogh (The Slightly Series), Julia Quinn (The Bridgertons), Lisa Kleypas (The Wallflowers), Jo Beverley (The Rogues), Eloisa James (The Essex Sisters), Susan Elizabeth Phillips (The Chicago Stars), Robyn Carr (Virgin River)... I could go on and on.

Janga said...

My favorite uncle was a big fan of Ian Fleming's books, which his wife hated. She refused to go to the Bond movies with him, and because he liked having someone to listen to his comments on the movies, he bribed me to go with him to the early ones. I was quite young, but I was old enough to know I valued the popcorn and the $$ Uncle paid me far more than the movies. I haven't seen a Bond film since the 60s, and so Sean Connery will always be James Bond to me.

My comfort movies are the old romantic comedies I watched with my parents--It Happened One Night, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The Lady Eve, Adam's Rib, Woman of the Year, Bachelor Mother, etc. In the days of three TV channels and no DVDs, it was a special treat to stay up late and watch one on the late show. Now I love the movies and the memories.

Like Irish, I find many of my comfort reads in series set in worlds I love visiting with characters who are as familiar and beloved as old friends. Jo Beverley has a new Malloren World novel releasing in early August. I want to reread all the Malloren books before then, and I reread Nora's Concannon sisters last month. I can always use a little comfort. :)

Marnee Bailey said...

I read the Harry Potter books when I need a comfort read. And Ward's first few books. Okay, not the first few, just Rhage and Zsadist's books.

I don't have many comfort movie watches.

Maybe Spaceballs. I watch that when it's on. And Anchorman.

I am not sure what makes something a comfort read or not for me. I need to keep thinking on this.

Maureen said...

Where did Hellie go?

Terri Osburn said...

Pop's has doc appointments this afternoon.

Maureen said...

Aha! Makes sense!

MsHellion said...

Sorry, guys! Two doc appts back to back for Pops. :) Then a celebratory steak dinner and a trip to the store.

Mo, I hadn't realized Moneypenny was an original character. I LIKED her a lot! *LOL* But I also loved Q, the little wonderkin who got his ass handed to him. NICE! Herbs and gardening? OH, I'll have to find those!!!

Irish, love your movie picks. *LOL* I'd watch movies with you and Janga anytime! Love, love, love RIO BRAVO. I'm with you about Daniel Craig; he's okay but I favor dark haired heroes to blonds. (Great actor, just not my favorite eye candy.) But I wanted to watch it for Dame Dench! And as usual she stole the show.

Janga, I think you might fare okay with my DVD collection. *LOL* And I too could be bribed to go to movies if there was money and popcorn involved. :)

Marn, Ah, Harry Potter, cannot believe I didn't reference that. I need to have a reread so I can write 8 or 10 new blogs about them. *LOL*

Maureen said...

Susan Witig Albert does a whole cozy mystery series set at an herb shop in Texas.

Indigo Ink has a few mystery books on aromatherapy.

I gotta think about the gardening, there are a few I've read...

Cleo Coyle has one set at a high end coffee shop in NYC.