Tag: Pixar

Movie Munchies: Ratatouille

Today I get to present to you the 2nd episode in my Movie Munchies series.  Just in time for Valentines Day Jacqueline and I make the french dish ratatouille and talk about- you guessed it- Pixar’s Ratatouille!  These videos were a huge challenge for me so I would love your feedback.  We plan to do a couple a month so if you have ideas for good movie/recipe combinations please put in the comments sections.

Also if you try the recipe let me know what you think.  It’s a very versatile dish that you can use as a main dish or side.  Very tasty.

Thanks so much for your feedback and help!

Recipe:
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
1 large eggplant (1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large yellow onions (1 pound total), diced large
1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
2 bell peppers (any color), seeded and diced large
2 large zucchini (1 pound total), diced large
1 lb mushrooms
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon oregano leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper

Salt the eggplant and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Saute peppers, onions and garlic till translucent.  Add eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms and get some color.  Add tomatoes and then let stew on medium low heat as long as you can.  Serve as a topping for pasta or a side with meat.

Christmas Card 2015

Hey guys!  I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and share with you my annual Christmas card that I’ve done every year on this blog.  This year I took inspiration from my favorite movie of the year Inside Out.  I hope you have all the joy in this joyous time of the year you can handle. Sure love you all!

inside-out-christmas-card-2015s

Animated Oscars 2001-2005

Hey guys occasionally I like to share with this blog some of my videos and blogs on movies.  I thought I would let you guys know about a series I am doing on my channel where I am reviewing the films nominated for Best Animated Feature Film for Oscars. This prize started in 2001 and I just posted 2005 today.

I would love if you gave these videos a look and a thumbs up if you think they are any good.  I’ve been working hard on integrating clips and trying to give good feedback on each film.

Make sure you also look at ldsblogs.com for my new column on Family Movie Nights.  I am so proud of it so please subscribe to it even if you aren’t LDS because it is non-denominational column.

http://ldsblogs.com/30014/family-movie-night-anastasia

Next week comes An Extremely Goofy Movie!!!

Here’s my videos on the Academy Awards.  Please give me your feedback.  Love ya

 

Core Memories

inside out8I just watched Inside Out again tonight.  That’s the first time I’ve seen the same movie twice in one week since Perks of Being a Wallflower in 2012.  That movie I saw 3 times in a week because I kept bringing friends I loved it so much.  In Inside Out there are memories that are a certain color depending on the type of memory it is.  There are thousands of memories but the most important are called core memories.  These key memories are the foundations of the ‘islands of personality’ because each memory started Riley on a path to that personality trait.  It’s seriously so brilliant!

It got me thinking about my own life.  What are my islands of personality?  And also what are my core memories holding up those islands?  You guys have been reading this blog for a while what would you say?  I would be genuinely curious to hear what those are in your mind.

It’s easier to think of eras of my life vs one single memory that changed everything but I am sure those moments exist….Hmm.  You know I was just thinking and in some ways Inside Out is the opposite of Up.  Up is about a man coming to grip with his memories and moving in some way with his life.  Inside Out is about creating those memories and what makes Riley into a full person ready for adventures.

I guess some of my core memories would be getting bullied at school, moving to Maryland, getting accepted into BYU, meeting my friend Emily, the death of my Grandpa and Lisa, my conversion experience when I was 14, my last day on my mission, quitting my job, my first open water race in 2011, last day of my first trip to Hawaii, my first panic attack, and another very tough moment I can’t really talk about. Those are the big ones.

As for my islands of personality, those have definitely changed over the years.  There was a time when friendship would have been the most important and now it is less so simply because I have so few that are nearby and able to see regularly 😦   There has also been times when music was a bigger part of my life than it currently is.  So at this point my islands of personality would be swimming, Mormon faith, youtube/blogging, family, loyalty.   All of that is vitally important to who I am.  I’d have more but there are only 5 in the movie so we’ll leave it at that.

What about you?  What would your core memories be?  What would your islands of personality be? Please share and go see Inside Out!

5 Favorite Films

So Rottentomatoes.com has a recurring feature called 5 Favorite Films where various celebrities, mostly actors, give their 5 Favorite films.   (They even had Miss Piggy do a list (Wizard of Oz is I believe a favorite of hers).  It’s harder than it sounds to whittle everything down to 5 films.  I figure it has to be 5 movies I could watch again and again (and have).   There were so many that I wanted to pick like Clueless, Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, Fiddler on the Roof, To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Hoosiers, Les Miserables, Juno, Talk of the Town, His Girl Friday, Sense and Sensibility but I was good and stuck to 5 so here goes.

1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

“You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-You-Are?  You’re chicken, you’ve got no guts.  You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, ‘Ok, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.’ You call yourself a free spirt, a wild thing, and you’re terrified someone’s going to stick you in a cage.  Well, baby you’re already in that cage.  You built it yourself.  And it’s not bound by Tulip, Texas in the west or Somaliland in the east.  It’s wherever you go.  Because no matter where you go, you just keep running into yourself”

– And no, I did not google that quote. It’s one of the few lines of dialogue from a movie that I have memorized (which I think that alone has to put it on the top of my list).  I love this movie if only for that thought.  Wherever you go you eventually have to be happy with yourself.  I love this movie because of the style.  I love the just below the surface sensuality and yet innocent romance.  I love that it’s vintage postcard to New York. I love Moon River and the rest of the music.  I love Audrey Hepburn and I love the idea that nobody is a lost cause when it comes to love.

The only thing I don’t like about this movie (and I almost had to take it off the list for this reason) is Mickey Rooney’s embarrassing performance as a Japanese photographer.

2. Sound of Music

It was tough to decide which musical to pick but I figured I had to pick one of them.  The Sound of Music is definitely the best translation of musical to movie, with the movie actually being superior to the stage production.  Julie Andrews is divine. I could listen to her voice all day.  All the child actors are great and Christopher Plummer is wonderful.  If I made a movie I would want to write a part for him.  He is so good at showing nuance in a character and making someone unlikable have a tender side.

The romance between the Captain and Maria is wonderful and I love the smoldering chemistry in the ‘Something Good’ musical number.  Also, Peggy Wood’s ‘Climb Every Mountain’ is perfect and that’s a hard song to pull off.  I love seeing Salzberg and the thrilling ending at the festival.  My Favorite Things, 16 Going on 17, Do Re Mi, Sound of Music, Problem Like Maria, are all great.

3. Howards End

Maybe my more controversial choice.  A lot of people hate this movie but I loved the book and movie.  It is about a set of educated elite sisters (played by Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter) who come in contact with the traditional elitist Wilcox family who own a house called Howards End.

The movie is partly about human character and how we often try to change people and how that usually leads to disaster but also about how good intentions on the part of all can lead to disaster.  There is also a larger social commentary about class struggles and how finding happiness in assigned class is typically the best kind of happiness.  Especially aspiring higher for others is noble in idea but usually awful in execution.

I love how rich this movie.  You have minor side characters that get a full story arc.  You get to feel the heart of a character like Mr. Wilcox who would normally be nothing more than a stiff aristocrat without feeling.   When Anthony Hopkins breaks down at the ruin of his son you feel wounded along with him.  He is not a bad man but money sometimes makes him appear so to others.

There is also a wonderful undercurrent of forgiveness within the movie.  As all the characters wrong each other in one way or another and all must forgive both the person and the class they come from.  I love the acting, writing, cinematography and story.  Like I said, I love the book and love the movie.

4. Up

Anyone who attended my housewarming party knows I love the movie Up.  It has my favorite opening sequence of any movie bar none.   The love story between Carl and Ellie is beautiful and told completely in an opening montage without any words spoken, just images.  I love that a character who dies in the first 5 minutes can remain an active presence throughout the film.  I love the relationships between other characters like Carl and Russell or even Russell and the animals.

I love the story, as far fetched as it might be I totally bought it as a modern day fairy tale.  I love the spirit of travel, family, friendship and adventure.  I love the end message that life is an adventure no matter where you go.   It is my current favorite movie.

The opening montage: I just watched it for like the 300th time and it made me cry all over again. (and not like a tear drop, no like all out crying.  It just does it to me every time.  I love this movie!)

5. The Little Mermaid

I figured I had to pick one movie that influenced me a child and there is no debate about this.  It is Little Mermaid for sure.  The only other candidate might have been Beauty and the Beast but Little Mermaid came out first so it influenced me earlier.  I LOVED the music.  The idea of the young girl who doesn’t quite fit in totally spoke to me.  My sister and I used to sing ‘Part of Your World’ at night with both of us contending that ‘I sound the most like Ariel’.  (I totally did…).  Jodi Benson is amazing as Ariel’s voice.  She set the standard for Disney animation to come.

It is also funny with Sebastian the crab and Scuttle the bird providing great comic relief.  ‘Les Poissons’ fish stew/crab hunting song being a particular favorite that still makes me laugh.  (I’m sorry if you start that song with any American girl of my age they will join right in).  Ursula is also one of the best villains Disney has ever created.  Sounding like a cigarette smoking grandma her song ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ is definitely one of those most delicious evil songs ever written.  (I love the villain in Tangled also).  She works because she’s plenty scary without being too real for little kids (The Rescuers for instance was a little too real with wicked people kidnapping children…Not exactly something great for most kids to see).

I think it is great that they could make hand drawn animation without 3D and it is as good if not better than most of the animated work put out today with all those helps.  It will always be a favorite movie of mine. It also celebrates the ocean (Maybe that’s where I got my love of the ocean and water!)

Oh and Eric is definitely one of the most dreamy, well developed Prince’s in the Disney cannon.

So there are my 5.  What would you pick?  Please share.

free-summer-movies

6 Best Summer Movies

As the readers of this blog know I am a huge movie buff year-round.  Unfortunately sometimes I grow weary of the blockbuster movies that are usually popular in the summer.  For some reason I don’t usually like super hero movies.  I’ve always prefered characters that I can relate to, even in a complete fantasy.  For instance, Harry Potter may be in a complete fantasy world but his character and skill-set are mostly things I can relate to.   The Incredibles is one of the few super hero movies I like because it moves super heroes into a real world setting and it makes me laugh.  Most super hero movies are very show-offy and just for the fluffy special effects.

Christy Lemire, an AP movie critic I follow, recently posted a list of her top 5 summer movies.  I have to admit I’ve only seen 1 of the movies she lists but I thought the idea was a fun one, especially for me given my usual distaste for summer movies.  I had to make a list of 6 because I just couldn’t leave one off.  So here goes:

1. Up- Up is one of my favorite movies. It is the story of an elderly man that fulfills his dream to go to Paradise Falls (a promise he made to his beloved wife) by flying his house to South America.  It is a sweet, funny, endearing movie that never fails to move and inspire me.  Just the first 5 minutes are more moving than 90% of the current romantic movies made.

The reason why I think it qualifies as a summer movie is its focus on travel (I actually saw it in Hawaii and then loved it so much to see it 2 more times in the theater when I got home.).  The spirit of adventure and freedom also feels very summery.  I think without a ‘summer vacation’ you lose a little of that sensation as an adult and a movie like Up reminds you to be a little more bold.

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/pixar/

2. When Harry Met Sally- I love Norah Ephron’s writing, whether in book or movie form I think she is hilarious. Hidden in the romantic banter is nuggets of wisdom and insight.  I could easily pick You’ve Got Mail as that is a favorite of mine but I went with WHMS because it begins with a road trip with lots of conversation. To me that is an ultimate summer experience.  I must admit that usually such trips are ripe with peril for me but the idea of hitting the road and enjoying the conversation of a good friend is very American and very summery.

Perhaps because so many weddings happen in the summer but it seems to me you have to pick one romance in such a list.  People always compare WHMS to Annie Hall but to be honest I like it better.  I think Annie Hall is kind of boring and it did not make me laugh near as much as WHMS.  It just didn’t- let the name calling begin. 😉

For more of my thoughts on romantic comedies check out these posts-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/romantic-comedies-that-are-actually-romantic/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/romantic-comedy-cliches-im-sick-of/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2008/05/28/open-to-change/

3. Endless Summer- A summer movie list absolutely demands a beach movie.   I LOVE the beach and fantasize about it on a daily basis.  Endless Summer is a landmark documentary that introduced many people to the sport of surfing.  In 1966 director Bruce Brown follows surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August (perfect last name for a summer movie!) as they introduce people around the world to surfing.  They travel from Hawaii, New Zealand to Africa and Australia.   The idea is that by surfing around the world summer never ends.  What a glorious concept!  What a happy thought!

Having tried surfing myself it is amazing what these athletes can do and what a thrilling experience it must be.  Other good surfing documentaries are Step Into Liquid and Walking on Water.  All 3 films are available as an instant stream on netflix.  It will make you want to go to Hawaii and try surfing for yourself.

4. Inception- I picked Inception because for my money it is the best blockbuster type of movie ever made (was going to pick Raiders of the Lost Arc but this is even better).  It is the puzzle piece of a movie where Leonardo DiCaprio goes inside dreams to attempt to retrieve and ultimately change the behavior of the subjects.  Eventually an inception becomes so complicated that there are over 4 levels of dreams within a dream.  In fact, the final ending it is unsure whether there are even more levels.

I think Inception transcends the action movie genre because it has so many well developed characters surrounding the action and special effects. All of the acting is really good, especially Marion Cotillard as DiCaprio’s wife.  Her scenes give an emotional resonance to the film that is missing in most big budget action films.  I also love Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon Leavitt.

I also like that it is a movie 100 people could see and all feel differently about.  I like a movie that doesn’t spoon feed you a moral or a message.  I’ve seen it probably 7 or 8 times and I still don’t know what the ending is.  To me chatting about movies and books is a very summery thing.  Something you just don’t have time for the rest of the year, so Inception makes the list!

5. 12 Angry Men-  This may seem like an odd choice because it is such a small movie.  The reason it made the list is because heat is such a critical element to the story.  Told more like a play, 12 strangers (all played by amazing character actors) must deliberate on a murder case during a hot stifling summer day.  The more they talk the more heat is used to convey stress, emotion, loneliness and anger.

Henry Fonda is excellent as the stick in the mud who insists on conversation but his performance is really the easiest to pull off.  Lee Cobb and Ed Begley as the most explosive jurors are wonderfully nuanced but ALL of the actors are great.  Its remarkable that a movie set in one room with a mere table and some pencils for props can be so compelling.  Perhaps it is because human beings are compelling enough when written well without all the explosions and special effects.

You feel hot watching the movie.  I’ve always wanted to see this in the theater but haven’t gotten to do so.  I wonder if the power of movie to invoke heat and temperature would be missing in a live theater?

Still, an excellent movie for anyone interested in a good script, great acting and perfectly executed sets.

6. 5oo Days of Summer–  My last choice is another romance.  This movie uses Summer in a more broad sense.  Summer comes to mean the time of a romance; hence it lasting for 500 days instead of 90.   It is an artsy movie without being annoying telling the story of two young people Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gorden Leavitt who have a 500 day romance.  It’s a simple story but told so creatively that it does not feel simple.

First it is told in a non-linear way with days 5 followed by day 453.  This might sound confusing but it totally works.  There are also other creative touches such as a mid-movie musical number and a scene that floats into a charcoal drawing.  I also love the scene where a split screen gives two versions of an evening- what is actually happening, and what the character anticipates happening.  Brilliant.  All of these methods, however, could be incredibly irritating if done in a showy way but they aren’t.  It just melds into the picture and makes sense.  Plus, the chemistry between all the performers is really good.  This is especially important for Deschanel who plays a kind of unlikable character, but she’s so likable it works.

It also has the guts to end in a bittersweet but perfect way.  This is the movie I would recommend for someone that wants to feel summer all year round.

So there is my list.  What would you have on your list of summer favorites? Please share!

 

Pixar

While I was away on break one of my most anticipated events of the summer occurred- Pixar Studios released its latest pick, Cars 2.  Unfortunately, this appears to be their first dud with a 35% rotten rating on Rottentomatoes.com.  This comes after a remarkable winning streak with 16 years of fresh movies.  Their previous low was the original Cars at 74%.

I’m actually a little sad to not have my summer Pixar movie (although I will probably see Cars 2 eventually).  As any reader to this blog knows I love movies- particularly films with good writing and interesting characters.  You wouldn’t think this would be a difficult request but of the thousands of films that come out each year it seems only a handful are truly special.

My favorite Pixar movies have it all.  The animation is stunning, the characters funny and interesting and the story is good.  Even a movie like WALL-E, which is very different still drew me in.   On Rotten Tomatoes the first two Toy Story movies have 100% fresh ratings with Toy Story III, Up, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, Wall-e, and The Incredibles all over 95%.

Part of the reason I have always felt connected to Pixar is when I was 9 0r 10 my uncle Mark worked there and gave us a video of their  animated shorts. When Toy Story came out I felt like one of the few people who knew what the jumping lamp in their logo meant because I had seen the short years earlier. We also saw Tin Toy, Red’s Dream and Knick Knack years before they were featured as introductions to various films.

It’s always fun to be ‘in the know’ before others- makes you feel special.  I know my Mom and Sister felt this way when Harry Potter became popular.  I’m not sure how she heard about it but they had been ordering the books on the UK Amazon.com for years before they hit US markets.  That was certainly a find!

Anyway, I thought I would give you my list of favorite Pixar movies and try to explain why but truly I love them all.  I will let you know what I think of Cars 2.  After all, I might like it.  Roger Ebert gave it a great review, so you never know. He actually liked it better than the original.

1.  Up- I have seen this movie so many times and it still moves me.  It is funny, sad, and tender-hearted.  Particularly the opening montage depicting a marriage is for my money the most beautiful five minutes ever in film.    The other day I was watching it at the gym and started crying (and I am not a movie crier).  It was funny because I think everyone thought I was having quite the emotional work out!

2.  Finding Nemo- I just rewatched this movie and was blown away once more.  Just the artistry is beautiful.  If you stop to watch each frame the animation of the ocean continues throughout every inch of the screen.  Every character in this movie is funny and sincere- I particularly like the sharks at fisheaters anonymous. It also has terrific voice actors, funny dialogue and a heart tugging story.  Never did a dentist look so sinister!

3. Toy Story- Great voices, endearing characters and a story pleasant for adults and children.  Are there better characters than Woody and Buzz? Teaches so many lessons about friendship and the danger of pride and competition with others. A game-changing classic.

4. The Incredibles- As previously stated in my review of Summer movies, I do not like super hero movies. Leave it to Pixar to win me over with the Incredibles.  A great movie about a family of super heroes that are living on the down-low as normal citizens.   The best part of the Incredibles is it uses the cliches while still making them work- giving us a weaselly villain, a gadget/clothing guru and action scenes mixed with humor.

5. Toy Story II- Rarely does a sequel equal the predecessor but this one does.  The great characters of the toy collector, cowgirl Jesse and the Barbies are wonderful plus the best music of any Pixar.  You would have to be made of stone to not feel emotion during Jesse’s song, When Somebody Loved Me.

6. Ratatouille- How do you make a movie about a rat and still make it appealing?  I hate rats but love Ratatouille.  Some of the best voice work in all of Pixar and a wonderful depiction of a critic with the duplicitous Anton Ego (I love how his office is a coffin!).  I really want to go to Paris someday and movies like this make me want to go even more…

7. Toy Story III- For my money the best part 3 sequel ever.    How do you take the same characters and make them engaging and funny a full 15 years after the original?  Even the Star Wars and the Godfather movies got weaker at the 3rd entry.  I love the addition of Sunnyside Daycare and all the characters and plot points that setting provides.  I also love the idea of the complicated emotions of growing up- it is exciting and sad at the same time.

8.  Bugs Life- The forgotten Pixar film but I recently rewatched it and found it funny, charming and very creative.  Great voice work and who knew grasshoppers were so evil?

9.  WALL-E- Probably the most controversial Pixar, with some loving it and others finding it a big bore.  It reminded me of an old silent movie.  I like that it didn’t tell you everything.  It just presented images and you were free as the viewer to fill in story details.  In a world where original ideas are few and far between I appreciate the gumption it took to make WALL-E.  To me it was a work of art in film-form.

10. Monsters Inc- Its strange this movie is so low on my list because I really liked it. In truth all of the Pixar movies were on my favorite movies of the year when they came out, so they are all winners.  Monsters Inc is a brilliant idea- taking the classic notion of kids fearing monsters in their closet and creating a great story.  I love the voices and dialogue of Mike and Sully.  Also, Boo is so cute.

11. Cars- I think I would have liked Cars more if it had not been about a world with only cars.  Why not make it like Toy Story where the humans don’t know the cars exist?  Its just hard to make a full spectrum of emotions with a car- partly because they don’t have arms or bodies.  I did like the story and the theme of small-town America being forgotten.  The vistas and artistry is beautiful as well as good voice work throughout.

So there is my list…Enjoy some great movies (All are available on Netflix with Toy Story III being a stream). All of these movies I could watch again and again (and I have!)