Tag: films

Chick Flicks and Lit

Must admit the feminist in me has never liked either the term ‘chick lit’ or ‘chick flicks’ but I’m afraid ‘Books and Movies that Appeal to Women more than Men’ is a little heavy handed for a blog title (although it could make a good phd thesis… 😉 ).  Women clearly like a broard range of movies and books, but there are certainly a set that are marketed to the female sex more and usually they find an audience (chicken and egg thing.  Do we make chick flicks because chicks want them or do chicks watch chick flicks because they are made? Another phd topic 🙂 )

Unfortunately, most of this genre are not particularly  worthy or flattering of the genre.  In fact, more often than not they are clearly made or written by men (edited by men, directed by men etc).  I find it fascinating that since losing the divine Norah Ephron in 2012 the romantic comedy genre has practically ceased to exist.  This year by my recollection there have been 3 romantic all given paltry recommendations. (Big Wedding 7%, Baggage Claim 15% and Austenland 32% all certified rotten by RW).  These may be underrated movies.  I haven’t seen them but even if they are 3 ‘chick flicks’ in one year is kind of baffling.  Has Hollywood abandoned the attempt to appeal to women?

On the other hand, I don’t know if that is necessarily a bad thing for women.  Like I said, most of these movies are lame and they feature two predominent types of women- 1. Desperate, shrill, complaining, lonely woman (with usually equally obsessed mother), 2. work obsessed ice queens who stare down coworkers and snear at dates.  Neither fits the description of any women that I know.  Well, we all have our moments of both (thinking of myself only in that last statement 😉 ).

Women deserve better.  They deserve to have their feminine sensibilities and romantic natures excited without being talked down to or objectified.  It can be done and it can be done well.

Here are some recent examples of good ‘chick flicks and lit’

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Films

1. Silver Linings Playbook-  warning this has a lot of profanity but it is about real people, or at least real sounding people.  Jennifer Lawrence plays a woman who is depressed but not over-the-top.  She wants to dance and build friendships but they are not her life.  She wants love like anyone else, and had it but still hopes to have it again.  She’s sarcastic without being annoying.

2. Some Kind of Wonderful-  The movie I wish people watched instead of 16 Candles and The Breakfast Club.  Both those movies feature cliched female characters who act according to the part they are given (spoiled rich girl, rebellious stoner, etc).  In Some Kind of Wonderful you have a loyal tom boy who see’s her friend/crush get a date with the prettiest girl in town- who by the way isn’t stupid or evil like so many pretty girls in movies.  A real treat.

3. You’ve Got Mail/When Harry Met Sally/Sleepless in Seattle- Everyone knows I love Norah Ephron.  Yes, her stories are charming and perhaps her men are slightly over-the-top with the romantics but not unbearably so.  With Sally, Kathleen and Annie she creates 3 women (all played by Meg Ryan) who all have careers, all want love and all are witty, brave and silly at times.  Sounds like some women I know.

4. Clueless- A longtime favorite of mine.  Yes Cher and Dionne are ditzy and spoiled but they are also smarter than nearly everyone else around them while still making a complete mess of their lives.  It is funny and romantic without being patronizing.  Another movie written and directed by a woman that works so well with feminine sensibilities without crossing lines.

5. Bridget Jones Diary- This is obviously a comedy so its a bit over the top but Bridget is silly in ways that many women are.  She can’t cook, doesn’t know how to dress properly, says the wrong thing at the wrong moment and doesn’t have a perfect body.  She also charms the socks off of Hugh Grant and Collin Firth so that’s a bit of fantasy but it works.  Bridget is never talked down to or demeaned by the script.  I love her line ‘I already feel stupid most of the time.  I don’t need you to remind me’.  or “It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.” (hint to Austen in there).   That is so true!

6.  Other favorites- Legally blonde (yes, she’s smart.  It’s kind of like Clueless grows up), Love Actually, Nottinghill, Three Weddings and a Funeral, About a Boy, Return to Me, Just Wright, IQ, His Girl Friday, Bringing up Baby, Sweet Home Alabama etc.

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Chick Lit-

1. Undomestic Goddess- All Sophie Kinsella books except for maybe the last 2 shopaholic books.  She is so good at taking a modern theme and then exploring it in a slightly silly character.  Her women are sweet, sympathetic without being total pushovers.  They are also not desperate to meet a man but hope to.  The men and women in her books are basically equal but caught up in a crazy, admittedly unrealistic scenario.   That’s what makes it funny.

2. Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisenberger- A very good movie.  A great book.  Biting satire into the world of high fashion and the wicked witch of the CEOs.  Evidently Anna Wintour of Marie Claire was the inspiration for the boss and I have no idea what she is in real life but in the book she is a pure villain but in a funny way.  Weisenberger is smart and I related to every page of her experience and that being bossed around by a woman is no better than being bossed around by a man.

3. Jane Austen- I don’t know how you could have such a list without talking about Austen.  I’ve often wondered how she manages to stay relevant in 2013 maybe even more so than 1813.  I think what makes Austen’s writing work is that she always has one woman that is smarter than everyone else.  Whether it is Lizzy, Eleanor, Anne, Emma or Fanny, they all believe they know what’s best for everyone else.  The thing is they don’t know their own hearts and that is an extremely romantic notion.  Women can be smart in life, blind in love without being sophomoric about it.    If women feel patronized too it will not matter the quality of the writing.  That was true in 1813, true now.  We want to believe that we are 90% there and through one big life lesson we will get all the way to perfection.

4. Elizabeth Gaskell- we are reading North and South for book club and I just love it so much.  Reading it every year it never get’s old.  Here you have 2 incredibly complex characters that do not accept convention or even each other without some rebellion.  Margaret and Mr Thornton read like real people who think one way about something and then something happens and they see it another way.  They are neither innocent nor evil.  They want good for the people they love, and each other but keep messing up on how to obtain that good.  What person can’t relate to that?  They are my favorite characters in literature

5. This one is a cheat because there are too many to list- Jane Eyre, Rebecca, No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Help, Secret Life of Bee’s, Gift from the Sea, EM Forster, My Life in France, Summer at Tiffany’s, Gilead, To Kill a Mockingbird (yes, I can count it).  Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, Judy Blume, Little Women, Secret Garden, Georgette Heyer etc.

I’m not an expert on the biological reasons of why men tend to like one thing and women another, but I know what I like.  I like stories whether in book, play, music or film, that give me a female character with layers.  Someone that isn’t a block character I’ve seen a thousand times before.   Maybe she surprises me or make me laugh, maybe she’s more tender and heartbroken than expected.  I also like to see these characters happy and all human beings desire to be loved for who they are.

That’s what makes a good story, chick lit or not.

What are some of your favorites and why do you think women are drawn to certain books (or is that a misnomer)?

Captain Phillips Movie Review

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So I think my quotient on tense movies has been officially met this week.  I don’t think I need to go to any others for at least 2 years.  Between Gravity and Captain Phillips I can safety say the last 3 days have been my most intense vicarious experiences ever at the movies.  You all I know I loved Gravity and while not quite as strong Captain Phillips is a very good film.

It’s actually hard to compare the 2 movies because Gravity is a thriller.  It is a fast tense where Captain Phillips is a slow, grinding tense.  My only critique on the film is that it is perhaps 20 minutes too long.

Captain Phillips stars Tom Hanks as Rich Phillips, the captain of a Maersk cargo ship that is taken over by pirates in 2009.  The movie is directed by Paul Greengrass who also helmed the last 2 Bourne movies and United 93.  He is the king of the shaky cam and he is no stranger to it here.  However, I think it worked in this setting.  The camera feels like a member of the crew watching what is happening step by step.

Hanks is great as the somewhat grisly Captain who is not a born hero.  This is no Jack Ryan type.  He plays the part so that almost everyone could say ‘I’ve had a boss like that’.  He’s tough but not cruel.  A businessman at sea free of catch-phrases or inspirational dialogue.  The interactions with pirates show that he at least tries to understand what they are doing and why.

The pirates are all played by unknown African actors and for the most part they are the searing evil you want in a movie like this.  They certainly seem half starved and desperate.  All of them, particularly the leader, are the king of the ‘crazy eyes’ where they thrust a gun out and look at Hanks like their eyes are going to pop out of their sockets.

It was good that they had them speak pigeon English but mostly use Somali.  That added to the realism (such a cliche in movies to just give the villain an accent and that makes them evil).  They go into the motives of the pirates a little bit.  They talk about how the fishing is gone and so that is all that is left for these starving boys who don’t even get to benefit from their plunder but have it taken by their tribal leaders who abandon them once things get tough.

A good half of the movie is spent with Hanks and the 4 pirates in a lifeboat and this could have been sped up a bit but it is very tense.  I honestly wasn’t sure how they were going to get him out of there.  (Of course, I know that they do because of I remember when the event happened).

I also appreciated that there wasn’t any Spielberg-like touches with soaring music and grand speeches.  It all felt very real and tense.  Spielberg and John Williams- take note!

I really liked Captain Phillips and think it is one that is improved by viewing in the theater.

Lastly, Tom Hanks should get an Oscar for this performance.  He at least should be nominated.  It is so much better than the 2 performances he won Oscars for.  He commands the screen and is playing a person not a character.

You should all see it!

As far as content- there is some mild profanity, tense situations and violence but it is certainly appropriate for any mature teen.

Gravity

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All of you wonderful readers know I’m a big movie fan.  That said, I hadn’t been to a new movie since the beginning of the year.  With buying a house, moving in, a new job, being called in RS Presidency, having back issues, swimming all summer, trying to keep this blog up and a million other things, I just ran out of time to go to the movies. 🙂

Fortunately for me I picked the right movie to return to the cinema for.  It is the new movie Gravity and you all have to see.  Don’t just see it some regular theater.  See it in IMAX 3D.  You won’t regret it.  It is a masterpiece.

One of my favorite film critics Christy Lemire said in her review:

“Believe the hype: “Gravity” is as jaw-droppingly spectacular as you’ve heard — magnificent from a technical perspective but also a marvel of controlled acting and precise tone. This is not hyperbole: This is the best film I’ve seen so far this year.”

It may be the best movie I’ve seen in years, certainly one of them.  I can’t think of anything more tense or gripping that’s for sure.  My hand kept clenching the seat and I almost grabbed the hand of my friend sitting next to me.  (It would be a perfect date movie for that reason).

The story is simple.  Its 2 astronauts in space and a test missile gets launched by Russia and it ends up hitting debris that comes shooting out at the explorer shuttle of the Americans.  Sandra Bullock and George Clooney must then figure out how to get home when literally lost in space.

That’s all I can say.  Anything else would be a spoiler but there were many times I thought ‘no way.  That isn’t going to happen’ and then it did.   So, I never let my guard down for long.  It was amazing.  I felt adrenalin for about 2 hours after.  Still feeling it a little now.

The special effects are astonishing.  How did they do it?  They say that they used no zero gravity like they did in Apollo 13.  They used green screen and a series of small wires.  It’s hard to believe it feels so real.  That’s why you have to see it on the IMAX 3D.  It even takes you a few minutes to adjust to the sensation of floating in space.  That’s how real it feels.  I think it will be kind of a worthless movie on the home theater.  The 3D helps a lot and I’m normally not a big 3D fan.

There are some terrific shots that you just wonder how did they get.  Like a scene where some water droplets land and you can see Sandra Bullock reflected in the drop. Or just how beautiful the surroundings are around this disaster.

The performances are also great.  Sandra Bullock is in every scene of the movie and for much of it she is the only person.  (and no talking volleyball or tiger to help her).  Everything happens to fast for the most seasoned astronaut pros  but she’s a rookie engineer that took 6 months of training.  She has no idea what to do and most of the time you grasp that just from her voice.  In the big space suit you can’t see much body emotion.   Just spinning and whirling and panic.

I can’t say enough good things.  Go see it.  You won’t regret it.  Totally appropriate for the whole family although it is very intense.  If you don’t like intense movies than you might not like it but I really can’t imagine anyone who enjoys movies and the majesty of storytelling not liking it.

Alfonso Cuaron is an amazing director.  Bravo!

Movie Survey

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A few weeks ago I did a little survey on books.  Since people seem so fascinated with my opinions on movies I thought I would do a similar post on movies.

Here goes:

Your favorite movie: Up

The last movie you watched : Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Your favorite action/adventure movie(s) : Inception
Your favorite horror movie : The Shining/Wait Until Dark
Your favorite drama movie :  Tough call.  Slumdog Millionaire
Favorite Comic book movie:  The Avengers or possibly X-Men
Your favorite comedy movie:  Clueless, Office Space, Monty Python Holy Grail, Better Off Dead
Your favorite romance: Breakfast at Tiffanys, 500 Days of Summer
Your favorite romantic comedy:  When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail
Movie you are looking forward to:  Book Thief, Enders Game, Hobbit 2
Favorite based on a true story: (favorite genre of mine) Beautiful Mind, Rudy, Apollo 13, Walk the Line, Kings Speech
A movie that makes you happy:  You’ve Got Mail, The Artist, Silver Linings Playbook
A movie that makes you sad: Bright Star, Schindler’s List, Amistad, Les Miserables
A movie that makes you happy and sad: Perks of Being a Wallflower
A movie that you know practically the whole script of: Breakfast at Tiffanys, You’ve Got Mail
Your favorite director: Norah Ephron, Hiyao Miyazaki
Your favorite movie from your childhood: Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast
Your favorite animated movie: Up
A movie that you used to hate but now love: Pinocchio maybe?
Favorite movie in high school: Clueless
If Someone were to play you in a movie?: Melissa McCarthy
Best Adaptation:  Harry Potter movies except 7th part 1 which bored me.
Your favorite quote from any movie:  I love Nora Ephron.  Rom coms haven’t been the same (or even produced) since she left us. Some favorites:
         Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it,  or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?
         People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they’re really saying is that something you didn’t want to happen at all… has happened.
         Well, I’m gonna get out of bed every morning… breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out… and, then after a while, I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.
          The odd thing about this form of communication is that you’re more likely to talk about nothing than something. But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.  (how I totally feel about this blog.  Thanks everyone!)
I could go on…(love her movies and writing). See https://smilingldsgirl.com/2012/07/12/nora-ephron/
The first movie you saw in theaters: The first one I remember was Little Mermaid.  Also Home Alone sticks out.
The last movie you saw in theaters: Wizard of Oz (so amazing)
Favorite score of movie: The Mission
Favorite song in movie:  Over the Rainbow.  (Also my favorite song period)
The best movie you saw during the last year: Les Miserables
A movie that disappointed you the most:  Star Wars: Phantom Menace
Your favorite actor(s): Carey Grant, Jimmy Stewart
Your favorite actress(es): Emma Thompson, Audrey Hepburn, Meg Ryan
The most overrated movie:  What a can of worms to open again… (see post on this topic)  Terms of Endearment isn’t on my earlier post so I will go with that.  Also, hate to say it but I thought Rushmore was overrated. Just didn’t make me laugh. (send the hate mail 🙂 )
The most underrated movie: See my post on this topic Again I’ll bring up a movie I didn’t put on this list.  Stranger than Fiction.  Love it
Your favorite character from any movie: Holly Golightly
Favorite documentary: My Kid Could Paint That, Civil War (Ken Burns but not really a movie)
A movie that no one would expect you to love: Warrior if they didn’t know I was into MMA
A movie that is a guilty pleasure: Rom coms in general.  Cheesy Christmas movies. Love Comes Softly series
Favorite classic movie: His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, Notorious
Movie with the best soundtrack: The Chorus is wonderful, modern day soundtrack- When Harry Met Sally (love all the Harry Conick Jr)
A movie that changed your opinion about something: Slumdog Millionaire made me decide R rated movies might be ok and to focus on screenit reviews, content rather than ratings
Your least favorite movie: Armageddon, Contact, Drop Dead Gorgeous (only movie I’ve left theater crying in a bad way).  See Movies I Hate

Wizard of Oz

Tonight I had a special experience.  I got to see Wizard of Oz restored in 3D at the IMAX. It is playing through the end of the week so if you get a chance see it!   Its amazing.   They don’t make movies like that any more.  The songs, sets, story, acting, everything is so wonderful.  I have said before on my blog that Over the Rainbow is my favorite song of all time.  I have 13 versions of it on my ipod.  I love Judy Garland and think her life is one of such heartbreak.

https://smilingldsgirl.com/2010/10/26/favorite-songs/

I love the story of finding home, protecting your friends, searching for your dreams, and facing evil.  The lesson Dorothy learns through her entire journey in Oz is pretty great:

“if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!”

 

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Overrated Movies Part 2

A few months ago I did a post on what I felt like were overrated movies.  Now I was very clear to state “these are not necessarily bad movies.  I just think they aren’t as good as they are touted to be.  Basically I was expecting to be wowed and left feeling blahhh”.  Meaning I was disappointed but not necessarily repulsed or miserable.  Save that for my post on movies I hate.

The response to my little movie post has blown me away.  I have 83 comments, and that’s just the comments that were postable.  Some were so over the top in their name-calling I did not approve them.  This is not a forum of free speech and if you can’t treat others with a modicum of respect I have no time for you.

The thing that amazes me is I’ve done posts about gay marriage, abortion, religion, politics and not gotten near the vitriol that a simple post on movies got.  Nothing else even comes close. IT IS JUST THE MOVIES PEOPLE!

To give you a feel of some of the comments I got both posted and not:

“i can tell that you know absolutely nothing about movies. giving and opinion doesnt make you an expert about films.”    Did I ever claim to be an expert on films?  This is just my personal blog for my friends and family?

“that perfectly demostrates that real art its perceptible only for few. keep sleeping kid.”   My response to this is if the movie/art is as good as you say it is why are you so threatened by someone who wasn’t even saying it was bad?  Art should be open to a variety of responses if it is good art.

AND WHY AMERICA DO WE HAVE TO THINK THE SAME WAY ABOUT EVERYTHING?

I was also told (along with my fellow commentators)

You people all have the brain capacity of a roach.”

Another person said:

“This country has done nothing but breed sissy men and women for the last 30 years”   So now because I didn’t like the Dark Knight the entire country is to blame?  I am also in a tiny minority on the DK front so maybe others were educated in being more manly than I was?

You are “completely r@$%$$d”  (profanities to follow)

I was also told my list was ‘laughable‘ and that I was the worst ‘critic of overrated movies of all time‘  Here’s a thought- I’m not a critic!  I’m just a girl with a blog that writes about movies occasionally.  I have done nearly 700 posts in my blogging career and by my count 26 of them have been about movies.

I had to laugh when one person said I made them ‘cry’ to include The Graduate on the list (we actually had a delightful back and forth after that and I may give the movie another shot. )

Roger Ebert once said ‘I know as a critic I’m required to have a well-armored heart’.  He also said “In my reviews, I feel it’s good to make it clear that I’m not proposing objective truth, but subjective reactions, a review should reflect the immediate experience”

Thank you Roger.  It’s just my subjective reaction.  Why does that bother some so much?  Its not a truth carved in stone that everyone has to LOVE the Godfather.  What is wrong with thinking it was ok but a little slow?  Why is that so offensive?

I’d understand if you were in the movie, made the movie, wrote the movie but to be so upset over a simple opinion boggles the mind.

That said, I don’t want to give you the impression I was discouraged by the post.  Most of the 83 comments were constructive, insightful and interesting.  For that, I am overwhelmingly grateful.  If anything, I’ve been wracking my brain for other movie-related posts I could enter (oddly enough during this period I’ve watched little to no movies and none in the theater for at least 6 months).  Any suggestions of movie posts you’d like to read?

I welcome those with differing opinions, even strongly worded ones that say something instead of merely insulting me, my readers and/or all Americans.  One of the things I like about my roommate is she has such strong feelings on so many things.  Its fun to be around someone that makes you think.  I hope I do that for people.  I hope they say hmmm ‘I’ve never thought about it that way…’.

So please comment away but try not to cry.  It really is just a movie!  Relax!

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A Summer with No Movies

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For some reason my readers love what I have to say about movies.  I love the movies.  I love the feeling of being swept away in another world and seeing a new perspective in a confined period of time.  Learning something, laughing for a few hours or shedding a collective tear with your fellow movie-goers.

Movies give all of us a common language that perhaps only television rivals.  Even with communicating with children I have been amazed at how equalizing a discussion of their favorite movies becomes.  At a recent family reunion I was talking to my nieces/cousins about their favorite movies and the conversation lasted for 15-20 minutes and at the end my cousin’s son Tait said ‘wow, you know about everything…’.  I wish that were true but I try to stay well informed and culturally relevant about a variety of topics including movies.

Having said that it will perhaps surprise you that I have not been to a single movie this summer.  Even more than that there have only been 4 that sparked my interest, 3 of which did not come to a theater nearby for more than a few days.  The four movies I might have seen given the chance were Before Midnight, Much Ado About Nothing, Blue Jasmine and Monsters University.  The Heat looked kind of funny but I like to wait for the R rated comedies to make sure they aren’t out of my comfort level and from what I hear that one was a pretty strong R.

This is not the first time I’ve felt this way about summer movies.  See post Thumbs Down to Summer Movies but still there are usually a few movies I make it out to.  Have any of you found this?  My parents never go to movies and that always seemed kind of sad to me.  Am I turning into my parents? (a fact I’ve seen coming for some time).

Part of the reason why I haven’t been to the movies is because I have used up almost every ounce of my free time swimming.  That’s where my friends are and that’s where I want to be.  While I will go to the movies alone, they are often a social experience and none of my friends have invited me to go to the movies.  Instead we’ve gone to concerts, the theater, dinners and of course swimming all over Utah and Salt Lake County.

That’s where I have to blame the movies.  Why when I can go to a lake and swim for free or go to a good restaurant would I want to go to a sequel, prequel, remakes or super hero movie especially when I can see it at home in a few months?  It’s just becoming increasingly less appealing as a social activity.  Even if the movies are not technically offshoots of previous movies they are so derivative of those films then why wouldn’t I just go see the original better version?

I’m so tired of the big explosions, special effects and repeats.  This year we got 2 movies where the white house was under attack, 5 end of the world/zombie movies, 3 super hero movies (4 with Thor to come in the fall, 5 if you count Kiss @#$# 2), 3 out of the 5 animated movies were sequels/prequels, I could go on.  And did anyone else notice that there hasn’t been a single romantic comedy or period piece this year.  I know they can be terrible but usually there are at least a couple a year?

I’m sick of movies made in committees.  Someone in some corporate board meeting decided that Walking Dead was a big hit so 2013 was going to be the year of the zombie/end of the world movie.  Just like someone last year decided that the newly envisioned fairy tale was the big hit (2 Snow Whites, Red Riding Hood).

Maybe I was just spoiled because last year was one of my favorite movie years in recent memories.  With Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook, Pitch Perfect, Lincoln and The Perks of Being a Wallflower were all excellent.  These were great movie experiences.  Experiences that could only be had at the movies. Only on the screen could I get up close to Jean Valjean and feel his pain. Its something the stage could never provide.  Same with Wallflower where the music provides a dimension to the story the novel missed.

I’ve missed that experience this year.  What amazes me is that Hollywood will put millions of dollars on a film and not take any time on characters or a solid script.  I mean The Lone Ranger costs 220 million dollars to make.  220 million. What were investors thinking?  That just because it had Johnny Depp it would make more money than any western ever (Dances with Wolves holds that record at 184 million)?  That kind of waste is almost unconscionable and were not even including the marketing for it.  That said, the big budget would be forgivable (think Avatar) if it was a good movie but from everything I hear it isn’t.

Has anyone else had a similar experience this summer?  I’ve asked on my facebook/twitter wall but what am I missing?

Here’s what I say to movie-makers out there- Get some guts.  Every year there are thousands of graduates dreaming of screenwriting glory.  Why not find the best of the best?  Get some budgeting, show some restraint and then actually promote your movies outside of Oscar season.  How annoying is it when I want to see a movie but can’t because it isn’t playing anywhere within 50 miles of my house.  When Before Midnight came out I got an email from fandango announcing I could see the movie in Hollywood California or Austin, Texas.  Only 12 hours in the car and I can see a movie…Sigh

Also, my next rant. I’m so tired of movies throwing in the f word just to appear edgy and independent. I admit that certain characters such language is natural but a movie like Ruby Sparks would be so much better without all the unnecessary language.  Broadway is having the same problem with each new show trying to out-edge the next one.  Didn’t Hugo and The Artist show that sometimes the most edgy thing we can do is old fashioned and simple?  Double sigh…

So that’s my feelings on summer movies 2013.  Hollywood you may have gotten some people to see your films but not this blogger.  Got to try harder to get me in the door.

PS.  Want a great idea for a movie- why doesn’t someone make Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South into a movie?  We haven’t had a Jane Austenish movie in a while and the miniseries was great and popular.  With the popularity of Downton Abbey I think North and South would do very well. I also would love to see any of the Sophie Kinsella books made into a movie as long as it isn’t ruined like Confessions of a Shopaholic or Edenbrooke.  That’d be great!!

Here’s Matt Atchity from What the Flick giving a good portrait of this summer in movies:

A Laugh for a Friday: Things We Learn from the Movies

I heard this the other day and thought it was funny.  So at the end of this long hot week have a laugh on me.

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Things We’ve Learned From the Movie Industry

  1. Large, loft-style apartments in New York City are well within the price range of most people – whether they are employed or not.
  2. At least one of a pair of identical twins is born evil.
  3. Should you decide to defuse a bomb, don’t worry which wire to cut. You will always choose the right one.
  4. Most laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communications system of any invading alien society.
  5. It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts – your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.
  6. When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in your bedroom will still be clearly visible, just slightly bluish.
  7. Radiation causes interesting mutations – not to your future children, but to you, right then and there.
  8. If you are blonde and pretty, it is possible to become a world expert on nuclear fission at the age of 22.
  9. Honest and hard-working policemen are traditionally gunned down three days before their retirement.
  10. Rather than wasting bullets, megalomaniacs prefer to kill their arch-enemies using complicated machinery involving fuses, pulley systems, deadly gasses, lasers, and man-eating sharks, which will allow their captives at least 20 minutes to escape.
  11. During all police investigations, it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.
  12. Most dogs are immortal.
  13. All beds have special L-shaped cover sheets that reach up to the armpit level on a woman but only to waist level on the man lying beside her.
  14. All grocery shopping bags contain at least one loaf of French bread.
  15. It’s easy for anyone to land a plane providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.
  16. Once applied, lipstick will never rub off – even while scuba diving.
  17. The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building you want without difficulty.
  18. You’re very likely to survive any battle in any war unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.
  19. Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.
  20. The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.
  21. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.
  22. If a large pane of glass is visible, someone will be thrown through it before long.
  23. Kitchens don’t have light switches.
  24. If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear.
  25. Word processors never display a cursor on screen but will always say: Enter Password Now.
  26. Any person waking from a nightmare will bolt upright and pant.
  27. It is not necessary to say hello or goodbye when beginning or ending phone conversations.
  28. Even when driving down a perfectly straight road, it is necessary to turn the steering wheel vigorously from left to right every few moments.
  29. All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they’re going to go off.
  30. A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.
  31. If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.
  32. Police departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is their total opposite.
  33. When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.
  34. An electric fence powerful enough to kill a dinosaur will cause no lasting damage to an eight-year-old child.
  35. Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at that precise moment.

Underrated Movies

movie-clip-art11-287x300So a few weeks ago I wrote a story on movies I felt were overrated.  Now those were not necessarily bad movies I just didn’t think they were the amazing 5 stars everyone else seems to. The follow up naturally becomes what are underrated movies that deserve more playing time?

I actually struggled in coming up with a list because some of them seemed difficult to defend but I enjoyed them nonetheless.  Some might think how could I not be into the Godfather and like Sweet Home Alabama or The Blind Side? I can’t explain it.  I just do. So here are some underrated gems to check out by category:

Rom Coms that do the genre right- anyone knows I love a good romantic movie but they have been the scene of some truly horrific flops in the last 10 years.  Some that were unjustly ignored are:

IQ- a funny movie starring Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins and Walter Manthau about Einstein’s niece falling in love.  The banter between Einstein and his buddies is hilarious, the chemistry is right on.  Its available on netflix so check it out (many on this list are on netflix).

Sweet Home Alabama-  Predictable? yes.  do some of the jokes fall flat? yes, but I really enjoy this movie.  I LOVE Josh  Lucas.  He is super sexy and Patrick Demsey plays the other man with a lot of class.  They do not take the easy way out and make him a jerk.

Just Wright- A movie nobody saw with Queen Latifah and Common. The Queen is divine as a physical therapist tasked with helping an NBA player come back from an injury.  Yes, its predicable but you need some of that in this genre.  Its really a fairy tale with the prince charming a basketball player and Paula Patton as the somewhat evil stepsister (god-sister in this story . She’s a gold digger with a heart and boy is she pretty)

Return to Me- Similar to IQ this sweet love story of a girl who gets a heart transplant but then falls for the widower of the heart donor. Its sweet and how great to have a Hollywood romance where the character falls in love without the girl revealing a scar on her chest. A very clean simple movie with a great group of older actors playing the Irish/Italian family of the Minnie Driver character.

Better Off Dead- I can’t really defend this movie except to say that it makes me laugh every time.  A boy is infatuated with his girlfriend and then is dumped for the captain of the high school ski team. To get back he decides to ski the K-12.

Hijinks erupt with everything from Howard Cossell Japanese taxi drivers, animated burgers, a paper boy who wants his $2, a mother who boils bacon and makes goo for dinner and a brother who cuts out coupons from boxes before the cereal is eaten.  What can I say?  It just makes me laugh.

Drama’s that deserve  to be seen-

Marvin’s Room-  A gut wrenching drama with Meryl Streep, Dianne Keaton, Robert Deniro and Leonardo Dicaprio.  It reads like a good play. Two estranged sisters get back together when  one is diagnosed with cancer.  Dicaprio plays a teen with severe behavior and mental illness issues but it is done in a realistic way.   Every performance is good.  It felt like watching a real family.

Warrior- Not enough people saw this great sports/family movie.  The conceit is predictable.  We know the brothers will end up fighting against each other but the journey is so well done.  All the performances are great.  Tom Hardy is super hot and Nick Nolte is totally believable as the alcoholic father everyone has discounted.  The fight scenes are not overly long and the tension is built perfectly.  Great example of its genre.

Secret Life of Bees- Another movie with a strong ensemble cast that nobody saw.  Based on the bestselling novel by Su Monk Kidd tells the story of a little girl who runs away from home in 1964 South Carolina. She finds a new home with a family of black women that knew her mother and are beekeepers.  I loved the book and the movie.

Jane Eyre 1996- I have yet to dislike a version of this story (including the 2011 filming) but this one may be my favorite big screen adaptation.  Charlotte Ginsberg is the most plain Jane but that totally works for the character.  William Hurt is brooding and fun as Rochester even without a British accent.

The Blind Side- Obviously this film has its fans as it won an oscar for Sandra Bullock but amongst critics it is frequently chided as sentimental and even manipulative.  My answer to that is so what?  Hasn’t sentimentality always been an essential aspect to the movies? Even going back to Gone with the Wind or Mrs Minver.  If it is done well I enjoy a good hearted fable that helps encourage me to be a better person.

This story is of course about future super bowl winner Michael Oher and how he is adopted by the Tuohy family of Mississippi.  Its the kind of movie I want to watch when I’m having a bad day or feeling discouraged and I don’t think that is a bad thing.  Our society could use a little more hope and little less cynicism.

Children Movies You Might Have Missed

Winnie the Pooh Movie- Finally a movie designed for little, little kids.  Its short enough for them with a simple sweet story that I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for.  I LOVE the music.  No winking humor for adults just an unabashed little kids movie (5 and under)

Holes- The first time I saw this movie I was blown away.  I called my family and said ‘you have to see it’.  They weren’t as impressed but I thought it was so creative.  Weaving a story of a kid sent to a desert camp to dig holes and an cowboy love story that ended badly leaving a curse on the entire family.  I still think it is brilliant.

Where the Wild Things Are- This movie has its fans and I admit it is one you either go with or don’t. I did.  When I saw it in the theater half of us thought it was amazing and half a big bore.  I loved its realistic depiction of a child, without any of the cloying sweetness of most Hollywood movies.  This is a real kid with tantrums and stubbornness.

Then he is given the chance to actually lead creatures, creatures that feature all of his good and bad traits and he realizes how hard it is. He gets a new empathy for his mother.  I loved the music, voice acting, the kid is a great actor (plus looks like my step-nephew).  Its different but I totally bought it.

Ponyo-  A weird but delightful animated movie from Hayao Miyazaki who made Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.  Both of those are better movies but this one is more like My Friend Totoro and is designed for little kids. The story is simple but the images are so creative and the basic idea so dazzling that the kids have room to write some of their own story.  It is about a little boy that adopts a gold fish that is the daughter of the great sea wizard.  The ocean begins to search for the adorable Ponyo and everything begins.

Classics You Should See-

Talk of the Town- At its release this movie was nominated for Oscars but I doubt many have seen it.  Certainly Cary Grant’s other comedies such as Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday (both wonderful) are more popular but I love Talk of the Town . It has Jean Arthur who plays the high school crush of town good-for-nothing Grant who has been framed by a union for a fire that killed a man.

Knowing the jury is rigged Grant escapes from prison and seeks refuge at Arthur’s summer home which is soon to be occupied by a potential supreme court nominee played by Ronald Coleman.  Justice vs mercy is amazingly mixed in with some great slapstick.  I laugh my head off at this movie and think about philosophy at the same time.  A rare combination.

Brigadoon- The Gene Kelly musical most people haven’t seen.  Lerner and Loewe’s broadway musical comes to life about a town that ages only one day every hundred years.  Kelly and his friend stumble upon the town on a hunting trip and meet the lovely Cyd Charisse.   Some great songs such as Almost Like Being in Love, There but for you go I, Waitin for my Dearie and other great music and dancing.

Lili- A movie most people probably haven’t seen but a sweet fairy tale with amazing dancing.  Its the story of a girl named Lili played by Leslie Caron who stumbles upon a circus in a small town who agree to give her a job as a magicians assistant.  Young, she botches the first night and runs away in distress.  To her surprise she stumbles upon a puppet show and the puppets start to speak to her.

She agrees to be the MC for the puppet show but gets so lost in the illusion that she doesn’t remember who is behind the scenes. Could it be jaded carnival operator who is bitter about his career in dance going down the tubes because of an injury? You will have to see! The dancing is magnificent and like I said it is a gem.