Tag Archives: film reviews

What to Watch on Date Night?

It’s no secret. I love movies. I would watch one every day if I could. Joe and I have been having some date night movie nights, and I thought I’d share some ideas to watch.

How to Pick a Movie for Date Night

Wine for the MoviesHow did that get there???

So you want to watch a movie, but don’t know what to pick, right? For this edition, we’ll focus on a few comedies and great storylines you’ll both enjoy!

Sports Movies You’ll Both Love!

The Cutting Edge

Starring D.B. Sweeney as an ex-hockey player whose only forward option is to partner figure skate with Olympic hopeful Moira Kelly. It’s the love story of opposites. Sweeney is playful, both in the rink and off. But Kelly is all hard work and practice. Can the two of them meet in the middle to win Olympic gold?

Major League

This movie is one of my favorites! A group of ball players, hand selected to be the worst team ever, push together to win the pennant. And if there’s a little romance story hidden amongst the locker room humor, the better for me!

Mr. Baseball

Another classic oldie but goodie. Tom Selleck stars as a once big ball player in the states who gets signed to the Japanese Dragons. Dumped in a new country where the customs and the etiquette of the game are different, it’s going to take some learning to get used to. Plus, Selleck is in top form in this movie. Fans of Three Men and a Baby will get the same humor they know and love.

Trouble With the Curve

Great cast of Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, and Justin Timberlake! Eastwood plays a scout whose eyesight is failing. Adams is the estranged, but dutiful, daughter who goes scouting with him to help. And Timberlake is a new scout with a whole lot of respect for Eastwood. A smart movie that deals with the politics of baseball as well as family relationships. This one is sure to have something for everyone.

Field of Dreams

“If you build it, they will come.” – Field of Dreams is one of those iconic inspirational films you both will enjoy. When a corn farmer (Costner) starts hearing voices, he believes he’s supposed to build a baseball diamond in his yard. Some of the greatest ball players in history start to visit him, and this feel good movie takes off!

A League of Their Own

In my opinion, one can’t go wrong with Geena Davis. Men and women love her. Add to that Tom Hanks and Madonna, a movie full of history, laughter, baseball, and conflict will capture both your hearts. Just remember “there’s no crying in baseball!”

Cool Runnings

Based on the true story of the first Jamaican Olympic Bobsledding Team. It’s family friendly, full of laughs, and an inspirational story to boot. Add John Candy as their trainer and you’ve got classic 90’s humor.

Remember the Titans

Another true story of a high school football team’s evolution into mixed race games. Denzel Washington plays the newly hired African American coach who must unite his team together if they’re going to survive the season. Great soundtrack here as well.

Those are some of our favorites! What are yours?

What sports movies do you love to watch that double as great date night flicks?

Why Hitchcock Remains A Classic

It seems my last post about Alfred Hitchcock brought out some fans! Well, grab a bowl of popcorn, cause now I’ve done my homework! And I thought I’d share some fun facts about Hitch for Guilty Pleasure Friday.

Alfred Hitchcock (wiki images)

Over the span of 60 years, Alfred Hitchcock made movies that stuck with his audience. That’s pretty impressive considering he lived to be 80 years old, 3/4 of his life was spent in the film business.

And you know what? Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar! I was shocked to learn that, and had to do a little digging to see who could have beat out one of the greatest, most classic directors of all time!

Alfred Hitchcock’s Oscar Nominations for Best Director

1941 – Nominated for Rebecca, lost to How Green Was My Valley, director John Ford

His first nomination was for Rebecca, one of my all time FAVORITE flicks EVER! Hitch waited years to do this film until he had the money to buy the film rights. The movie went on to receive 10 Oscar nominations, and did win Best Picture! It is the only Hitchcock film to win that award.

Rebecca stars Lawrence Olivier (hubba-hubba) and Joan Fontaine. Rumor has it Olivier was vying for his then girlfriend, Vivien Leigh, to get the lead roll of the film. When Fontaine got it instead, he was reportedly very cruel towards her and Hitchcock played on that! He was a director who would go to great lengths to get what he wanted the camera to see. He told Ms. Fontaine that the entire cast and crew hated her, thus making her shy and uneasy on set, exactly like the character of Rebecca.

The real noteworthy character is the evil Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson). I’ve said it before, if my inner editor had a voice, it would be this woman’s! She’s EVIL!

If you’re feeling depressed, don’t watch this video clip. Go outside, make some water balloons, then throw them at those hellion kids that keep riding their bikes across your lawn! That always cheers me up.

If you’re not depressed, check out this clip! It’s the eerie “Why-don’t-you-jump-to-your-death?” speech Mrs. Danvers gives to Rebecca!

1945 – Nominated for Lifeboat, lost to The Lost Weekend, director Billy Wilder

During the making of Lifeboat, almost every single cast member became violently ill. Several of them caught pneumonia, and Hume Cronyn almost drowned during a storm scene in which he was caught underneath a metal wave activator. Actress Tallulah Bankhead overcame pneumonia twice, and supposedly Hitch gave her a puppy after filming. He had already named the dog Hitchcock. Charming.

Scene from Lifeboat

Demanding realism in all his films, the cast was surrounded by dry ice fog, storm waves, and a rocking ship, even though the boat never left the tank it was filmed in.

1946 – Nominated for Spellbound, lost to The Best Years of Our Lives, director William Wyler

Will he kiss me or kill me? That’s the question asked in Hitchcock’s Spellbound. The film won 1 Oscar, for best music. And it had 4 other nominations including Best Picture, but it lost both Directing and Best Picture to William Wyler.

Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck in Spellbound

Spellbound is noted as one of the first films to show psychoanalysis on screen. And had ‘Director’s Cut’ been available in Hitchcock’s days, the audience would have heard the phrases “sex menace”, “libido”, and “tomcat” in theaters. However, the censorship association had those terms cut.

1955 – Nominated for Rear Window, lost to On the Waterfront, director Elia Kazan

In 1954, when Hitch directed Rear Window, it was on the biggest constructed set of its time. Each apartment had running water and electricity. Actress Georgine Darcy lived in hers while filming.

Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window

Though it was nominated for 4 technical Oscars, it didn’t win a one. Now it is ranked number #48 in the American Film Institute’s Greatest Films of All Time, and #3 in its Mystery Genre.

1961 – Nominated for Psycho, lost to West Side Story, directors Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise

The film he wasn’t supposed to make. Psycho was nominated for 4 Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Janet Leigh. She lost to Rita Moreno who played Anita in West Side Story, a film that swept the Academy Awards that year with 10 Oscar wins – including Best Directing and Best Picture.

Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to Psycho from author Robert Bloch for $9,000. He spent $800,000 to make the film (considered low budget even in 1960), and the film earned more than $40 million.

Janet Leigh in Psycho

Psycho was the first movie to ever show a flushing toilet on screen. 😀

This was made mandatory as the script writer states Marion flushes evidence down the toilet, evidence that is later found by her sister.

The shower scene? Janet Leigh and costume designer, Rita Riggs, perused several strip tease magazines in search of something that would cover Janet, while still alluding to nudity. However, the final wardrobe for the shower scene was made of glued together pieces of moleskin, a fleshlike fabric commonly used as a bandage.

After “that disgusting movie, Psycho” was released, Walt Disney banned Hitchcock from filming in Disneyland.

Psycho is now ranked #14 in the AFI’s Greatest Films of All Time, and it’s #1 in their list of Top 100 Thrills.

Alfred Hitchcock and wife, Alma Reville

Alfred Hitchcock may not have had all the fame he wanted. He did, however, marry the love of his life, the talented Alma Reville. Together, they raised their only daughter, Patricia.

He received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the AFI’s Lifetime Achievement Award, a Golden Globe for his “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” TV series, and 2 Hollywood Stars on the Boardwalk of Fame! His work won and was nominated for many other awards and tributes.

Today, over 30 years after his death, his work is still setting the bar for what makes a good story. He was true to his ideas, he collaborated with people he wanted to work with, and he pushed everyone and everything to their limits.

And that is why Hitchcock remains a Classic.

Curious where North by Northwest falls in all this?

So many of you named North by Northwest as a favorite film, so I was shocked to learn he was never nominated for this movie! It did get 3 technical Oscar nominations, including best writing and best film editing, but it lost all to the film that won Best Picture, William Wyler’s Ben-Hur.

Your turn! Are you shocked to see how Alfred Hitchcock’s career pushed boundaries? What do you think makes his work classic? Who’s your favorite Hitchcock character?

For more Hitchcock fun, check out my post about the recently released film, Hitchcock – the story of his life while making Psycho.

Or, for more inspiration and fun, read Julie Glover’s post If Hitchcock Tweeted.

*All research from IMDB.com, a movieholic’s dream database!

Guilty Pleasures: Alternative Romantic Comedies

With Valentine’s Day still in the air, and more plausibly due to the fact that I worked in a video store for five years, I have an addiction to movies.  Romantic comedies in particular at this time.

It’s a common side effect from years of stacking shelves and alphabetizing films in their proper genres.  I can’t say no to a slightly wacky romcom.  Without this guilty pleasure, would we all know and love such cult classics like Muriel’s Wedding, Saved!, and Beautiful Girls?

So if you and your loved one are looking for something to snuggle in for, might I recommend one of these recent releases?

Two Thumbs Up.

Damsels in Distress

Starring Greta Gerwig (Greenberg) as Violet, a pretentious college student set out with the goal of changing people’s lives.  Whether it’s dating a moron because he has blue eyes, starting a Suicide Prevention Center that uses tap dancing as therapy, or being remembered for creating a new dance trend called the ‘Sambola,’ Violet has a lot of ideas about the world.  Gathering her friends, she tries to educate them with her causes and teach them about life and love.

Also starring newcomer Analeigh Tipton (Crazy, Stupid, Love; America’s Next Top Model) as the transfer student Violet takes under her wing, this film was a delightful find.  Filmed in an almost vintage style, these girls who don’t fit in find a way to help each other.

Pitch Perfect

When Beca (Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air; Twilight series) is forced to go to college by her dad, she befriends an odd women’s acapella group, the Barden Bellas.

While IMDBing Kendrick, I learned she actually began her acting career on the stage performing in musicals and received several awards.  So singing was no new thing for this leading lady.

Also in the Barden Bellas lending huge laughs was Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids) portraying Fat Amy, a girl who’s really good at “mermaid dancing.”  And Brittany Snow (John Tucker Must Die; TV’s American Dreams) plays Chloe, the girl who gets Beca to join the Bellas.

What makes this flick a romantic comedy is the tuneage tension between rival groups, the Barden Bellas with the all boys’ Treblemakers!  And it’s a hilarious one!  Guys and girls will enjoy this film.

Ruby Sparks

In a slightly more melancholy romance, actress and writer Zoe Kazan gives us Ruby Sparks.  For all you writers out there, you’ll find this one fascinating.  It’s the story of a has been writer, played by Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine), while starting a new piece of work, he wakes up one day to find his female lead living in his apartment.  Everything he writes about her comes true.

Now that’s a dangerous power.  What would you do in that situation?

Calvin (Dano) tries to balance real life with fiction, but can he tell who’s writing what?  Is he writing his life or his life writing itself out?

It’s a unique story and one I think is really thought provoking.  It’s told from Calvin’s point of view, but written by Kazan and I find that whole dynamic striking.  Fun fact:  Dano and Kazan are dating in real life, so it’s very likely this idea was a cohesive story thought up by both of them.  Either way, very entertaining!

What films are on your must see list?  Have you caught any of these flicks?  Would you like me to alphabetize your movie collection?  Leave a comment!  I Luh-Huv talking about movies!

Countdown to the Oscars: Nana Nana Boo Boo, My Predictions Were Right…Mostly

I’d originally planned to get my year end review of 2012 books out there, but you all know it was going to go on hold with the announcement of:

The 2013 Oscar Nominees!

With nine nominations for Best Picture, y’all better tie your kicks and scurry them butts to the theater in time to catch these flicks before awards night!  On your mark, get set, say “Cinema!” 

Are you ready?  Cause I’m gonna call it like I see it!

Best Picture Nominees:

  • imdb.com

    Amour kicks off the list, from Austria, and most likely to win Best Foreign Language Film, starring oldest Oscar nominee in history, Emmanuelle Riva (age 85), and Jean-Louis Trintignant as a retired couple whose love is tested when Anne (Riva) suffers an attack which will forever change their lifestyle.

  • Argo – The surprising film that made it in, despite being released back in October of 2012, which in Oscar world may as well have been dog years earlier.  Kudos to Alan Arkin for notching a second Oscar nom for the flick in the role of Best Supporting Actor.  Arkin’s made a bit of a comeback for himself in indie comedies like Little Miss Sunshine and Sunshine Cleaning, alas as the film received no major notes for Best Actor (wasn’t shocked there, Ben Affleck, but still proud of ya!) or in Best Director, I’m afraid I’ll have to count this one out as a true contender for Best Picture.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild – Or what I’m calling, “This year’s slightly better contender than The Tree of Life“.  Ah, remember that one?!  It was nominated last year for Best Picture and it starred Brad Pitt.  Millions of you flocked to the theaters and movie rentals and then came out going WTF???  I think Beasts of the Southern Wild is going to be this year’s art film entry, but one that is going to make a lot more sense.  It’s a magical tale of a little girl named Hushpuppy (artsy film hint #1) who comes of age one summer amidst her father’s ailing health and some melting snow-caps that are causing flooding in her bayou home.  There’s something about mythical beasts in there too… (artsy film hint #2)  The film did wonders at the Sundance Film Festival and now, Quvenzhane’ Wallis (age 9) is the youngest person to be nominated for Best Actress.  I gotta say, I think it’s sweet, but I don’t think the Academy…at least I HOPE the Academy would select another contender.  Seems a lot to assume this 9 year old (8 at the time) performed better than any other actress out there!  Especially ones who’ve trained and practiced their craft for years.  Don’t wanna be an ageist, but I can see Naomi Watts throwing knives!!


  • Django Unchained – Well, bite my tongue!  They decided to let Quentin Tarantino in again!  I’m ecstatic!  But I’m afraid this nomination is all the glory Tarantino is going to see.  Without other nominations in the key categories, I think we can safely eliminate this film from winning Best Picture.  Too many rumors fled the entertainment news for me to be surprised that neither Kerry Washington nor Jamie Foxx were nominated.  It’s a bit of a snub, if you ask me, that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t receive one, but wild card winner could award a Best Supporting Actor to Christoph Waltz, now a Hollywood favorite since Inglorious Bastards.  With a new spin on the story of slavery, I’ll be eager to see how the action drama does!
  • Les Miserables – For the last several years, any musical that gets nominated typically wins Best Picture.  Remember all the hype Chicago got in 2002?  Probably couldn’t pay most of you to watch the film now!  But Les Miserables has all the facets:  an all-star popular cast full of eye candy and talent plus a slew of pop culture trends and rising!  Yes, yes, even Miss Susan Boyle, our very own Britain’s Got Talent queen has made the music from this movie popular!  And well done Anne Hathaway, scoring a Best Supporting Actress role along with co-star Hugh Jackman, up for Best Actor!  *wipes drool*
  • imdb.com

    Life of Pi – Nominated for Best Director, Ang Lee, the awesome one who gave us Sense and Sensibility, is back with another Best Picture Nominee.  Life of Pi, masterfully illustrates the story of Pi, a shipwrecked and castaway boy who faces the perils of the sea with the odd, but only other survivor, a Bengal tiger.  I don’t know about this one yet as I haven’t seen it.  I think Ang Lee stands a chance, but without any acting nominations, could it take home Best Picture?  We shall see.

  • Lincoln – Of course!  Of course Daniel Day-Lewis comes out of actor hiding to score another Oscar nomination for Best Actor!  Rewind to There Will Be Blood, Gangs of New York, and My Left Foot!  The man is unstoppable!  And with Steven Spielberg in the running for Best Director, this could be a triple threat!  Except…it doesn’t end there!  Sally Field is up for Best Supporting Actress and Tommy Lee Jones for Best Supporting Actor (Those of you who read my review of Hope Springs may be shocked to know I’m actually rooting for him this time!) 


  • Silver Linings Playbook – Fantastic news for fans of The Hunger Games Winter’s Bone, Jennifer Lawrence scores another Best Actress nomination opposite her co-star, Bradley Cooper, who has his own Best Actor nom.  Kudos to Cooper for breaking away from such comic roles as The Hangover and The A-Team to take on more in depth characters with Limitless, The Words, and of course, this nomination for Best Picture.  David O. Russell, up for Best Director, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver both up for Best Supporting Actor/Actress leads me to believe that Silver Linings is going to be the strong contender against Lincoln and Les Mis.
  • Zero Dark Thirty – The cinematic retelling of the Navy S.E.A.L. team that took out Osama bin Laden.  From The Hurt Locker director, Kathryn Bigelow, first female to win the Best Director Award, Zero Dark Thirty has been highly anticipated.  However, will this film hold the same weight for the Academy as The Hurt Locker?  Bigelow was not nominated for director this year, but Jessica Chastain is up for Best Actress!  Careful, Quvenzhane’, Jessica’s got guns!  You guuuuys, I’m talking about her acting chops!  Didn’t you see her in that artsy film The Tree of Life?!

There you have it!  The 2013 Academy Awards nominees for Best Picture.  For a full list of nominees, check out ABC’s ballot of all categories! 

Your reactions?!  What flick is your pick for the winner?  Any titles you think were robbed of a nomination?  Inquiring minds HAVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING!!!

Oh, and want to know what I was slightly right about, but mostly wrong?  The Hobbit!  No nominations for Directing, Cinematography, Costume, or Original Song!  It did however get noms in Visual Effects and Make-up, leaving me to fess up, I was “mostly” wrong, but slightly right.

The Tree of Life, Hugo, and The Descendants

The Oscars are just one week away and I’m trying to catch all the films available before the event to up my chances of picking the winners.  I’m also busy planning the decor and menu for the party.  I’ve got the schwag bags started for prizes, and they are gooood!

So here’s the final review on some of the hottest nominees for Best Picture.  Stay tuned at the end to enter Jess’ Ultimate Oscar Win Contest!

The Tree of Life

This film is not for everyone.  If you hate really artsy, existential movies where the cinematography is really the height of the story, then you probably won’t make it all the way through this movie.  I did like the film.  It’s artsy, thought-provoking, and the cinematography was like watching Planet Earth all over again!  The main story tells that of a family in the 50’s parented by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain (nominated for Moneyball and The Help).  Their three boys are growing up in a household where life isn’t perfect.  There are good times and bad, and interspersed with that theme of a father and son’s relationship is some of the most breathtaking natural images of science and space.

Does this film stand a chance for Best Picture?  I doubt it.  But I think it’s an incredibly well made and poignant film written and directed by Terrence Malick.  The footage is breathtaking and there are some scenes where the essence of life is so beautifully blended between the family and the natural element that you can’t help but look at it with awe.


Nominated for 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Costumes, Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cinematography, Hugo appears to be the race winner.  The titled lead, Hugo, is a boy who lives in the train station, desperately trying to piece together an automaton, a magician’s machine he and his father were working on before his father’s death.

The film creates a wonderful and imaginative world inside the clocks at the train station as well as the city of Paris.  The costumes and music are well coordinated to the setting, but what I loved the most is the colorful array of characters and their body language.  The picture seems as though minute detail was taken with every extra and every corner of the set.  I loved Sacha Baron Cohen as the Station Inspector!

Hugo could very well be the film to beat at the Oscars.  Scorsese certainly earned the Best Directing nomination!  And with so many other categories functioning together all in the same film, why wouldn’t the Academy select this one?  Don’t quote me yet, but I think the film picked will be Hugo, though I’m secretly rooting for The Help.

The Descendants

Will this be the year for George Clooney?  I’m going to say no.  But I could be incredibly surprised with the Best Actor category.  The Descendants is an incredibly well made film with honest characters and true to life acting of them.  Clooney is great as Matt King, a father who struggles to keep his family sane after his wife ends up in a coma from a boating accident.  The chemistry between Clooney and the two young actresses (Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller) playing his daughters is really quite charming, and I don’t know why unexpected, but it was.

I definitely recommend this movie for any audience. Note*  There is a lot of swearing.  The message of family is strong and presented in an equal balance of big and small picture, tough times and funny ones.  I like how they picked a paradise of a setting like Hawaii and blended it with the real issues we all face.  Definitely a film I’d watch again.

Jess’ Ultimate Oscar Challenge!

I’m going to list the nominees for 4 big categories:  Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress.  Vote for your picks below.  All entries must be submitted before Sunday at 6pm.  The commenter with the most correct answers wins AN AMAZON GIFT CARD!!!  And an array of Oscar themed fun like recipes and movies!  Don’t you want in?  Here are the categories; I’ll see ya’ll below!

Best Motion Picture of the Year


War Horse (2011): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Top 10 Slightly Absurd Romantic Comedies

For those of you who tuned in around Valentine’s Day to Freshly Pressed, Funk’s House of Geekery posted their Top 10 Romantic Comedies for Geeks and I love every film they showcased!  In the spirit of love and Guilty Pleasures Friday, I’m giving you my list of Top 10 Slightly Absurd, but oh so wonderful, Romantic Comedies!

10.  Beautiful Girls

Back home for their high school reunion, stars Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, and Michael Rapaport are still trying to put their lives together.  Not a one of them knows a thing about women, but they’ll spend their days trying to figure us out.  The film also stars Uma Thurman, Rosie O’Donnell, Mira Sorvino, Martha Plimpton, Lauren Holly and very young Natalie Portman as the women who drive them crazy, but who they can’t live without.  It’s as much a coming of age story as it is a romantic comedy, and these guys have some great lines.  Plus, you know how when you go out with a group of friends to the local pub and the jukebox starts playing Sweet Caroline, and you all start to join in?  Yah, I think that came from this movie.

9.  Muriel’s Wedding

I can’t get enough of Toni Collette!  She’s awesome in the Showtime series United States of Tara, and I loved her way back when she was Muriel Heslop.  Set in Australia, Muriel is the outcast of society.  Her family is full of losers, her father is a philanderer, and the only thing that makes her feel better is ABBA.  But Muriel decides to change her life, run away, call herself Mariel, get a best friend played by Rachel Griffiths, and find herself a husband.  This film is unconventional and awesome!  I guarantee you’ve never seen a film like this one, but you’ll want to watch it again and again, even if just for the ABBA dance sequence!

8.  Earth Girls Are Easy

Geena Davis is Valerie, a California girl looking for love.  Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, and Damon Wayans are the three aliens from outer space who crash their ship in her swimming pool.  The good girl that she is, she cleans them up and befriends them, helping them make their way in the new world.  Filled with 80’s hair and dress, some slightly absurd song and dance numbers, and laser light steamy scenes, this film’s got em!

7.  Mermaids

An underrated and unappreciated Cher film, I have always loved this quirky romantic comedy.  Mother of two, Cher is Mrs. Flax, raising her daughters, Charlotte, played by Winona Ryder, and Kate, played by Christina Ricci.  Mrs. Flax goes from man to man and moves her daughters with her.  Charlotte takes up extreme hobbies.  Recently, she’s become obsessed with the life stories of saints and plans on becoming a nun, that is until she meets a cute boy in town.  Kate is going to be an Olympic swim champion and spends her time with a stopwatch hanging out several inches underwater in the bathtub.  The surprising love interest for Mrs. Flax is the local shoe salesman played by Bob Hoskins, who, with a good sense of humor, will change the lives of these women when they least expect it.

6.  How to Marry A Millionaire

How can anyone say no to Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall, and Marilyn Monroe?  This is my favorite Monroe film!  It’s the story of three women who’ve all been jaded by love and have set their sights on millionaires to make their dreams come true.  They’ll do whatever it takes to set the scene right, whether it’s modeling the latest fashions, selling and buying back all their furniture, and even dating a man who wears an eyepatch.  “Not bad for a one-eyed man!”  “Is that all he’s got?  I thought somebody must’ve belted him!”  It’s wild Betty, sultry Lauren, and naive Marilyn gold!  And as for love, it may have entirely different plans for these leading ladies after all.

5.  Saved!

Pure campy satirical goodness.  Jena Malone stars as Mary, a young Christian girl who does what Jesus tells her to do, including have sex with her gay boyfriend to make him all better.  Alas, Mary ends up pregnant, and her gay boyfriend ends up at Mercy Camp, a home for Christian kids who’ve wandered off the path of righteousness.  Mary then struggles with all she thought she believed, including her friendship with Christian Jewel elite Hilary Faye, played by Mandy Moore.  The last thing Mary is looking for is love, and let’s face it, she’s in no condition to get involved.  But Pastor Skip’s super cool skateboarding missionary son, Patrick, played by Patrick Fugit, really digs Mary.  Co-starring delightfully handicapped Macaulay Culkin and Jewish badass Eva Amurri as Mary’s newfound friends, this film is hysterical and lovely all wrapped up in one.

4.  Strictly Ballroom

Fans of Baz Luhrmann will appreciate this early film about a champion dancer who loses his star partner.  Scott Hastings was a great dancer.  His mother was a great dancer.  His father a great dancer.  But one day, his father lost it, and it cost his parents the competition.  Now all hopes are riding on Scott, but there’s little time to find him a new partner.  Fran is the awkward, ugly girl who practices alone but tries her hardest.  A chance encounter may show the two that they’ve more to learn from one another than they ever expected.  Despite the odds, they’ll show the crowds that dancing, and more importantly love, isn’t just strictly ballroom.

3.  200 Cigarettes

One of my favorite movies for its all star casting and quoteable lines!  Kate Hudson, Jay Mohr, Martha Plimpton, Casey and Ben Affleck, Christina Ricci, Gabby Hoffman, Courtney Love, Paul Rudd, Janeane Garofalo, Dave Chappelle, and Elvis Costello all together in a New Year’s Eve movie where everyone is looking for love.  Following different characters as they journey towards the same party, this film is a depiction of the 90’s at its finest and the games people play when they’re looking for love.  This flick is a party you won’t want to miss.

2.  Garden State

Maybe not all that absurd, but it is a quirky and unusual romantic comedy.  Zach Braff is Andrew Largeman, home for his mother’s funeral, depressed, and without direction in his life.  While sitting in the hospital waiting room he meets Sam, played by Natalie Portman, a neurotic and very unconventional girl with ideas of her own.  Together, they help each other face the obstacles in life:  a dead hamster, a swimming pool, a flaming arrow, as well as the past.  Co-starring Peter Sarsgaard, Garden State is a movie about friendships that blossom into something more and about forgiveness as we come of age.  Plus, it has a killer soundtrack!


1.  Amelie

This is my favorite feel good movie of all time.  Only once have I ever finished a film, rewound it, and watched it over entirely again, and it was this movie.  Audrey Tautou stars as the namesake, Amelie, a reserved French girl who takes pleasure in learning what pleases others and in helping destiny get its revenge.  Filmed full of color, lively accordion music, and snapshot stories of all the characters Amelie encounters, it’s as much a love story of humankind as it is Amelie’s own fate with romance.  So much of what she’s thinking can be seen in Tautou’s candid facial expressions, that though it is a foreign film and subtitles are not everyone’s cup of tea, I hardly think you can turn this one down.  Indeed, you really shouldn’t.

What films would make your slightly absurd guilty pleasure list of romantic comedies?

My Week With Marilyn and The Help

Hi Everyone!  First of all a BIG THANK YOU, I mean it, A HUGE ONE, to all the readers and commenters of my last two guest posts.  You all made Jenny Hansen and Marcy Kennedy feel so welcome.  Thanks!

What, you missed them?  Well, allow me to give you directions.  You can find Jenny talking about definitions of love here and Marcy talking about overcoming anything for 30 seconds here!  Enjoy!

But today, we’re talkingOscars again!  I’m reviewing two films with Best Actress Nominees, and these are leading ladies you won’t want to miss!

The Nominees for Best Actress in a Leading Role are:

  • Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs
  • Viola Davis for The Help
  • Rooney Mara for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady
  • Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn

(source: teaser-trailer.com)

My Week With Marilyn

Based on the memoir by Colin Clark, My Week With Marilyn captures the film shooting of The Prince and the Showgirl, which starred Monroe opposite Laurence Olivier (played by fellow Oscar Nominee Kenneth Branagh).  Clark was a young man avoiding more sensible routes of adulthood, by earning himself a position as third Assistant Director on the set.  The film shooting took place shortly after Monroe’s marriage to author, Arthur Miller (who wrote the classic Death of a Salesman).

What Michelle Williams manages to portray are the polar opposites of celebrity poster child and girl interrupted.  Granted, this is all taken from the diary Clark kept while filming, so we only see his perception.  But we know enough about Marilyn’s tumultuous life and her struggle to feel loved.  On film, she stole the viewer’s hearts and they couldn’t take their eyes off her.  Behind the scenes, she worked diligently, albeit not timely, with an acting coach and whether she knew it or not, probably needed someone to take care of her.

The film, My Week With Marilyn, isn’t exactly a love story, but perhaps its players would say so.  Though Monroe was newly married, she began an affair with Clark, who probably never had a real girlfriend before.  That’s quite a coupling!  Michelle Williams is stunning in her doe eyed, young Marilyn and impressed me by doing her own singing in the film.  She is gorgeous and I think well deserving of this nomination.  How does one begin to embody an epic Hollywood starlet like Marilyn Monroe?  I think Williams got it right!

(source: imdb.com)

The Help

Nominated for several awards including Best Supporting Actresses Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain, Best Picture, and Viola Davis for Lead Actress, The Help is a film to contend with.

Viola is quickly becoming a favorite actress of mine.  From small scenes in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close to this starring role, she proves again and again she’ll do what’s needed and what’s right for the character.  What’s more, I caught the end of the SAG Awards (Screen Actor’s Guild) and both Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer won, as well as the Cast won Outstanding Performance in a Motion Picture.  When Davis got up to speak she said this film was truly a story where everyone came together, and having such a large cast, it was remarkable how they all came to work and made this movie happen, no egos, no demands, just working together.

Davis plays Aibileen, the Godly and good maid who cares for white people’s children.  The story of The Help is set during the civil rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi.  New graduate, Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan, returns home to Jackson and doesn’t understand the segregation going on around her.  She decides to write a book from The Help’s perspective.  What follows is a beautiful and strong friendship caught on film through the acting of Davis and Spencer, who plays Minny, the much MUCH  more outgoing and sassy maid.

This film, largely in part to its actors, will make you laugh so hard you could choke on your popcorn if you’re not careful, but it also will make you unnerved and moved in a very real way.  Both Davis and Spencer, and even Chastain, have done exceptionally well, being nominated in almost every award ceremony, and winning several more.  They are strong performances to beat, but I wonder if those awards cancel them out for the Oscars?  Will this be the year Meryl’s name gets called?  I don’t know, but Viola and Octavia are two women who have earned their nominations!

Your turn!  What films have you seen nominated for the Oscars?  Which leading lady are you rooting for?  Who would play you in your own Oscar worthy life story?

Guilty Pleasures: Off the Wall Films

For five years of my teenage life I was video store girl.  It’s time you all knew.  It’s still probably my favorite job I’ve ever had.  The store was three blocks from my house, I’d get free movies anytime, and I had keys to the store-so I mean anytime!  You know how new releases come out on Tuesdays?  I previewed them all on mondays!  It was the best.  And I watched A LOT of movies back then!  Here are some of my favorite off the wall films.

(source: moviegoods.com)

Dummy:  Adrien Brody stars in this offbeat comedy about a man who’s at the end of his ropes.  Fired from his job, Brody’s character, Steven, decides to become a ventriloquist.  He also really wants to date his unemployment counselor, played by Vera Farmiga.  His best friend, Fangora, exceptionally acted by Milla Jovovich (who some like myself may love from The 5th Element) is a desperate woman dealing with her sick mom and trying to start a band.  Any band.  Other cast favorites include Illeana Douglas as Steven’s sister and Jessica Walter (the mom, Lucille, on Arrested Development) as Steven’s mother.  You’ll love every awkward moment of Steven’s life, I swear!

(source: imdb.com)

Oscar:  Some people love Rocky movies.  I prefer to take my Stallone in the form of this enchanted mobster movie.  Sylvester Stallone plays “Snaps” Provolone, a newly retired mobster trying to make his home presentable while under FBI surveillance.  His daughter is played by Marissa Tomei, and she’s in love with anyone who’ll take her away.  His other daughter just appeared for the first time today on his doorstep.  And there are three leather bags shuffling around the whole time: one with 1000’s of dollars, one with expensive jewels, and one with the maid’s underwear!  Tim Curry is an excellent supporting actor as the speech therapist, Dr. Poole.  All English buffs will get a kick out of this film.

And this blog wouldn’t be MY blog if it didn’t  have a little paranormal nod and tribute to Jane Austen. 

(source: wikimedia.org)

High Spirits:  A group of American tourists travel to a legendary haunted castle in England for a getaway.  The staff knows the place is going under.  But the manager, Peter O’Toole, has better plans: he’ll make it haunted!  Charading his team around as ghosts and banshees, he’ll try to frighten the guests who’ve come.  What no one expected is that the place is haunted, and now the ghosts are out for some vengeful fun.  Starring Steve Guttenberg and Daryl Hannah as starcrossed physically and elementally troubled lovers, this will be a unique movie to watch.  Supporting actors include Peter Gallagher, Beverly D’Angelo, Jennifer Tilly, and Martin Ferrero as the tourists.

(source: amazon.com)

Pride and Prejudice:  An updated classic with a wardrobe like Clueless: College Years, Kam Heskin stars as Elizabeth Bennett.  The plot is the same, but the Bennett sisters are comprised of college roommates instead, all of them looking for love.  Elizabeth is an aspiring author, and Will Darcy just happens to own a publishing firm.  A few characters are missing, such as the Bennett parents.  The mother is really represented by a newly published book called The Pink Bible that is selling out fast.  A few other fun spins include Jane’s character as a latina and Charles Bingley has made his riches by creating music cds for canines!  It’s a complete romp with fabulously quotable lines and I’ve shared it with all my Austen-crazed girlfriends.  You really ought to too.

Have you seen any of these flicks?  What are your favorite off the wall films?  Share them in the comments and they could be my next featured Guilty Pleasures: Off the Wall films!

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