Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Movie Meme Day 31 - Scene that made you stand up and cheer

What makes us stand up and cheer?  Sports movies when a goal/touchdown/win occurs - sure.  Makeover movies when the heroine (it's usually a woman, isn't it) gets all she dreamed of - fashionwise - definitely.  Even the average love story when our lovers finally overcome whatever's been keeping them apart and they make it - always.  However, the movie that always makes me want to cheer is the end of Dead Poets Society.  Robin Williams' character, Mr. Keating has been given the boot because a student of his, Robert Sean Leonard, committed suicide when he realizes circumstances will never let him live his dreams.  As Mr. Keating is walking out the door, a very  young Ethan Hawke steps up on his desk and says, "O Captain, My Captain".  It's a reference to an earlier scene when Mr. Keating is trying to get them to see life differently and has them stand on his desk.  He tries to get Hawke's character to be braver, and in that last moment you see that this one year of class has changed the lives of these kids. 

Here it is if you haven't seen it.  Check out the rest of the flick if you didn't want to stand and cheer, you're missing something great.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Movie Meme Day 30- Saddest character death

This is a stretch but it's my blog. This character originated on tv but died in the film version of the short-lived show "firefly" and its follow up film Serenity. When Wash is killed it happens so quickly and unexpectedly that you almost can't belive it's real. Alan Tudyk is a favorite of mine and I'm sad every time they have his little funeral.

Reel Insight Episode 12 - Drew Barrymore

Rachel and I had a good time discussing our predictions for the Emmys (wow, were we not good at it!) and then the career of Drew Barrymore.  One thing I'm going to try to add to these posts is a brief description of the "new" movies I watch because of our "star of the week".  I've watched quite a few in the past few months, and usually I'd review them in a DVD Round-Up, but I think they'll make more sense grouped here.  Just short blurbs.  Also, we had a winner in our summer Quotable Quotes game.  Congrats!  And keep playing.

Everybody's Fine - The vehicle for Robert DeNiro follows the recent widower as he tries to reconnect with his kids, Kate Beckinsale, Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell, and another adult child, David, we never meet.  DeNiro has some health problems and since the death of his wife, the communicator in the family, he has felt disconnected from his kids.  He embarks on a trip (train, plane, bus, etc.) to visit them all.  He goes to David's in NYC and he's not home, then to Beckinsale's in Chicago where he finds her husband not at home, and a grandson nothing like he'd been told (poor grades, etc.).  He brushes off these inconsistencies and doesn't challenge her about lying to him.  His visit to Rockwell sees him as a  symphony percussionist rather than the conductor his dad thinks he has been.  Again, no challenge to the lies.  Drew Barrymore's character was the most confusing.  A friend asks her to baby-sit, and later we find out the baby is Drew's and the friend is her girlfriend.  I didn't see that until it was explained at the end of the movie.  DeNiro is terrific, finally calling out his kids and trying to put everything on the table.  The others have weak roles and none rise above (though Rockwell is good). 

Donnie Darko - I can see why this is a cult classic.  It's crazy.  Reminded me of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, with it's time shifting, and mystery voices, etc. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a high school kid who is crazy, hears voices, and knows the end is coming.  However, he's also surrounded by lots of strangeness so it's hard to tell the difference.  Drew plays his English teacher, trying to teach them to think and experience the world creatively.  It's a good role for her.  The movie is weird, but I'd watch it again.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind -  This movie also starred George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and next week's Reel Insight star of the week, Sam Rockwell.  It's a fictionalize account of Chuck Barris' (Rockwell) memoirs where he hints that in addition to being a TV producer, he was an assassin for the CIA.  Drew plays Penny, Barris' girlfriend and wife.  She starts out as a crazy wild child, but she puts up with his crazy too.  However, then she grows up, and he doesn't.  She's actually a great character, though the movie is kind of odd too.  Roberts is a fellow assassin, and Clooney plays the guy who recruits him to the CIA (and directed the flick).  Excellent directing, particularly given that it's his first time out. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Movie Meme Day 29 - Movie you have watched more than ten times

There are a lot of movies I've seen more than 10 times.  I'm a habitual rewatcher - I work with a movie on, and once I've caught up with the TV shows I like, I put on another movie.   So there are probably a hundred I could pick from.  However, one I've probably seen annually since early high school is Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Some older high school friends quoted it continuously so eventually I had to break down and watch it.  And they were right, it's quote-ability is only rivaled by The Princess Bride.  One part Arthurian legend, one part fairy tale, and one big part Monty Python.   My brother favored the scene when Arthur "rides" up to a group of people digging in the dirt.

Woman: Oh. How do you do?
King Arthur: How do you do, good lady? I am Arthur, King of the Britons. Whose castle is that?
Woman: King of the who?
King Arthur: King of the Britons.
Woman: Who are the Britons?
King Arthur: Well, we all are. We are all Britons. And I am your king.
Woman: I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.
Dennis: You're foolin' yourself! We're living in a dictatorship. A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working class...
Woman: Oh, there you go bringing class into it again.
Dennis: Well, that's what it's all about! If only people would...
King Arthur: Please, please, good people, I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?
Woman: No one lives there.
King Arthur: Then who is your lord?
Woman: We don't have a lord.
Dennis: I told you, we're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to be a sort of executive officer for the week...
King Arthur: Yes...
Dennis: ...but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting...
King Arthur: Yes I see...
Dennis: ...by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs...
King Arthur: Be quiet!
Dennis: ...but by a two thirds majority in the case of...
King Arthur: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
Woman: Order, eh? Who does he think he is?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Emmy Predictions 2010

I'm feeling a bit off my game this year.  I honestly don't feel like I can accurately predict the Emmys, so I'll mostly go with my own opinions.  Will they go to the terrific cast of newbies (Glee, Modern Family, The Good Wife) or to terrific returning shows (30 Rock, Mad Men) or even a last nod to canceled but great shows (Lost, The New Adventures of Old Christine)???  I know who I would pick in each category, so here you go for the big ones.  My picks are in italics. 

Outstanding Comedy Series
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" (2000)
"Glee" (2009)
"Modern Family" (2009)
"Nurse Jackie" (2009)
"The Office" (2005)
"30 Rock" (2006)

Outstanding Drama Series
"Breaking Bad" (2008)
"Dexter" (2006)
"The Good Wife" (2009)
"Lost" (2004)
"Mad Men" (2007)
"True Blood" (2008)

Outstanding Made for Television Movie
Endgame (2009/I)
Georgia O'Keeffe (2009) (TV)
Moonshot (2009) (TV)
The Special Relationship (2010) (TV)
Temple Grandin (2010) (TV)
You Don't Know Jack (2010) (TV)

Outstanding Miniseries
"The Pacific" (2010)
"Return to Cranford" (2007)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin for "30 Rock" (2006)
Steve Carell for "The Office" (2005)
Larry David for "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (2000)
Matthew Morrison for "Glee" (2009)
Jim Parsons for "The Big Bang Theory" (2007)
Tony Shalhoub for "Monk" (2002)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kyle Chandler for "Friday Night Lights" (2006)
Bryan Cranston for "Breaking Bad" (2008)
Matthew Fox for "Lost" (2004)
Michael C. Hall for "Dexter" (2006)
Jon Hamm for "Mad Men" (2007)
Hugh Laurie for "House M.D." (2004)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Jeff Bridges for A Dog Year (2009)
Ian McKellen for "The Prisoner" (2009)
Al Pacino for You Don't Know Jack (2010) (TV)
Dennis Quaid for The Special Relationship (2010) (TV)
Michael Sheen for The Special Relationship (2010) (TV)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Toni Collette for "United States of Tara" (2009)
Edie Falco for "Nurse Jackie" (2009)
Tina Fey for "30 Rock" (2006)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus for "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2006)
Lea Michele for "Glee" (2009)
Amy Poehler for "Parks and Recreation" (2009)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Connie Britton for "Friday Night Lights" (2006)
Glenn Close for "Damages" (2007)
Mariska Hargitay for "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (1999)
January Jones for "Mad Men" (2007)
Julianna Margulies for "The Good Wife" (2009)
Kyra Sedgwick for "The Closer" (2005)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Joan Allen for Georgia O'Keeffe (2009) (TV)
Claire Danes for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV)
Hope Davis for The Special Relationship (2010) (TV)
Judi Dench for "Return to Cranford" (2007)
Maggie Smith for Capturing Mary (2007) (TV)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell for "Modern Family" (2009)
Chris Colfer for "Glee" (2009)
Jon Cryer for "Two and a Half Men" (2003)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson for "Modern Family" (2009)
Neil Patrick Harris for "How I Met Your Mother" (2005)
Eric Stonestreet for "Modern Family" (2009)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Andre Braugher for "Men of a Certain Age" (2009)
Michael Emerson for "Lost" (2004)
Terry O'Quinn for "Lost" (2004)
Aaron Paul for "Breaking Bad" (2008)
Martin Short for "Damages" (2007)
John Slattery for "Mad Men" (2007)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Michael Gambon for "Emma" (2009)
John Goodman for You Don't Know Jack (2010) (TV)
Jonathan Pryce for "Return to Cranford" (2007)
Patrick Stewart for Hamlet (2009) (TV)
David Strathairn for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Julie Bowen for "Modern Family" (2009)
Jane Krakowski for "30 Rock" (2006)
Jane Lynch for "Glee" (2009)
Holland Taylor for "Two and a Half Men" (2003)
SofĂ­a Vergara for "Modern Family" (2009)
Kristen Wiig for "Saturday Night Live" (1975)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Christine Baranski for "The Good Wife" (2009)
Rose Byrne for "Damages" (2007)
Sharon Gless for "Burn Notice" (2007)
Christina Hendricks for "Mad Men" (2007)
Elisabeth Moss for "Mad Men" (2007)
Archie Panjabi for "The Good Wife" (2009)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Kathy Bates for "Alice" (2009)
Catherine O'Hara for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV)
Julia Ormond for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV)
Susan Sarandon for You Don't Know Jack (2010) (TV)
Brenda Vaccaro for You Don't Know Jack (2010) (TV)

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
"The Colbert Report" (2005)
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (1996)
"Real Time with Bill Maher" (2003)
"Saturday Night Live" (1975)
"The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" (2009)

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
"The Amazing Race" (2001)
"American Idol" (2002)
"Dancing with the Stars" (2005/I)
"Project Runway" (2005)
"Top Chef" (2006)

Movie Meme Day 28 - Most Overhyped movie

There are a lot of reasons a movie could be considered over-hyped.  Either it's the newest movies from a actor/director who hasn't worked in a long time.  Or perhaps it's the final movie by a beloved actress/director before their death.  Perhaps it was just a huge movie that got lots of buzz and everyone knew it was coming.  And then there are the movies that get described as over-hyped because they failed to live up to the promise of all the hype.  In today's Hollywood of mass-marketing, constant trailers, hints, gossip, etc., lots of movies are misrepresented in those trailers and thus cannot live up to that promise, because it wasn't what they were created to be.   I describe them as "marketing mistakes".  I think Brothers, Catch and Release and Leatherheads all fit into that category.  Here's my previous review of Leatherheads and why it couldn't live up to the hype.

So George Clooney's Leatherheads is many things. It's a one-minute buddy comedy, a one-minute screwball comedy, a one-minute romantic comedy, with one-minute about the old rules of the NFL, two minutes about the new rules of the NFL, and two minutes about being a war hero. By my calculation that means the movie should be about eight minutes long. The other 90 minutes don't seem to do much. This movie was marketed, right in the tagline, as a story about football - the original professional football players and how they became legitimate. This is NOT a sports movie. And then it was supposed to be about the love triangle with Clooney, Renee Zellwegger and John Krasinski (totally inappropriate for this role, still channeling Jim rather than this character). That doesn't happen, except for the lipstick scene shown repeatedly in the commercials. The war-hero story line was interesting, but kept losing it's focus between other non-plot points. So basically, this is a terrific 8-minute movie, but I wouldn't bother with the rest.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Movie Meme Day 27 - Best villain

The way this was worded, I somehow got into my mind that it was the best animated villain.  So I spent a while thinking about it, and I gotta say my choice still holds up even when compared to the full spectrum of villains.  Scar from The Lion King is a terrific villain and even gets to sing a song with Nazi-like hyenas marching in front of him.  He kills his brother to take over the kingdom, and banishes the heir to the throne (the Hamlet connection is hard to miss!). 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Movie Meme Day 26 - Freakishly weird movie ending

** Lots of potential spoilers** 
When I started thinking about movies that have a "freakishly weird" ending, I started realizing I could barely remember the end of a lot of movies, particularly ones that have "freakishly weird" parts in them.  So I'm going to go with a movie with an ending I hate instead.  So my post will be retitled:

Movie Meme Day 26 - Worst movie ending

There are lots of movies where the ending is really sad because someone dies (The House of Sand and Fog, Cold Mountain), or just annoying because the main couple doesn't end up together (My Best Friend's Wedding) or both.  However, there are also movies where you can feel yourself disliking a movie unless the ending resolves in a satisfying way, and the one that I'm choosing for this post has my least favorite ending because it does almost nothing to redeem the 2 hours you've spent watching it.  The Pursuit of Happyness is the story of Will Smith, and his real-life son Jaden, playing a father and son down on their luck.  We watch them go through divorce, eviction, living in a shelter, sleeping in a subway bathroom, etc.  They drive us deeper and deeper into his sadness and hopelessness.  And then we get one moment when Smith gets a job and they walk down the street and you're supposed to know everything will be all right.  THEN IT ENDS.  No payback for experiencing all their sadness by sharing in some of their joy.  It just ends.  I hate it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Release: The Expendables (some spoilers - if you care)

The new Sylvester Stallone movie, The Expendables, sets its tone early and actually keeps it up for almost all of its 90 minute runtime.  That tone is a throwback to when its stars were 20 years younger and that, in my humble opinion, is what was missing from this years The Losers and probably The A-Team (though I haven't seen it yet).  It's balls-out action and sibling rivalry-type humor (particularly between Stallone and Statham).  There is no "love interest" which is nice to see, given that Stallone is over 60 (and Hollywood women rarely are in action movies).  He plays the leader of a mercenary-for-hire group of miscreants, including Jason Statham and Jet Li, among others.  The opening scene shows them rescuing some businessmen from Somali pirates.  They have big guns, huge muscles and a self-promoted talent for killing.  They return to their hangout back in the States, which happens to be Mickey Rourke's tattoo parlor (wouldn't you totally guess that Mickey Rourke would own a junky tattoo place?  perfect setting).  Rourke is finishing a tattoo on Stallone's back, when he gets a call about a new job.  Stallone goes to get the details about the job, which happens to be offered by Bruce Willis to both Stallone and Schwarzenegger and the scene with the three of them bantering is hysterical.  The job makes up the rest of the movie, whether they'll do it, how they'll do it, etc.  I saw the movie with my dad, and halfway through the job he leaned over and said, "I think they've killed about 200 people so far" just at the moment I started thinking, "Wow, they've killed a lot of people".  It's good action, with lots of explosions and fight scenes, but for me, that's when the movie starts to drag.  My only other complaint with the movie is the #2 bad guy.  Eric Roberts plays the really bad guy, but he's controlling a dictator in a cocaine producing country, played by David Zayas - Angel from "Dexter" who I so wanted to love, but he's terrible, just awful.  But he doesn't matter - Eric Roberts is the real bad-ass to fight Stallone.
Overall, fun fare, middle of the road.  I'd give it a 2.5, but must bump it up to 3 for the Willis/Scwarzenegger cameos.

Movie Meme Day 25 - A movie you plan on watching (old or new)

A movie I plan on watching soon is The English Patient.  It won the Oscar in 1997 for Best Picture, along with Best Supporting Actress for Juliette Binoche, and 6 other Oscars.  I've seen some of it in the past, but I think it's mostly the clips from other shows because it was such a winning movie the year it came out.  I think I've just been intimidated by its long running time, which is silly.  That and it doesn't come on TV very often, which is how I catch up on a lot of great movies that I missed in theaters and on DVD.  What do you think of The English Patient?  Yea or Nay?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Movie Meme Day 24 - Quote you use most often

There's a scene from American Beauty when Kevin Spacey tells his wife about his new car and says "1978 Pontiac Firebird, the car I've always wanted, and now I have it.  I rule".  That tone of voice with the accompanied hand raise when he says "I rule" is the quote I use the most.  Just in case you're not sure what scene I'm talking about, it's below.  I don't say it every day, because obviously I can't rule at something EVERY day, but I say it often enough that my friend imitate me doing it, so I'm sure I say it often enough.

Follow Me!

First, thank you to all of you who have been "following" me for a long time.  I really appreciate having people read my little blog, and those of you who comment too.  I'm setting a goal now.  The section on the left shows there are 31 "Followers" (side-note, I hate that choice of words.  You all are readers and commenters, not "Followers").  My goal is to reach 40 by September 1.  I know it's only a week away, but I think we can do it.  There are quite a few people who I know read this blog, but haven't signed up to follow it officially.  Please help by clicking on "Follow".  How about an incentive to "Follow" me.  If I reach more than 40 followers by Sept 1, I'll randomly pick a follower to receive a prize - a DVD from my extras collection (good choices, I promise). 

Follow me!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Movie Meme Day 23 - Best explosion or action scene

I had to think about this one.  There are quite a lot of action movies that I like, and actually quite a few explosions in movies that aren't really action movies.  So I'm going to pick two.  The first one, the best explosion, is definitely the demolition of the Old Vic (I think) in V for Vendetta's London.  Adding the 1812 Overture to the explosion and seeing Evey (Natalie Portman) react to both the forbidden music and the destruction make it all the more exciting. 
The action scene that I love and don't usually fast-forward through is the final scene of Saving Private Ryan.  Since you didn't ask, yes, I usually fast-forward through the landing at Normandy in the beginning of the movie, it's just too gruesome.  However, the last scene is made up of all the characters we've come to like (that have survived) and their individual fights to try to protect Ryan (Matt Damon) and be sure the enemy doesn't make it across the bridge they're trying to hold.  It's well shot, without being too shaky, or too slow to make the viewer give up.  The pace keeps you interested and reveals a lot about each character and their individual fates at the hands of the Germans.  Best action sequence, culminating with Tom Hanks' death telling Ryan to earn the right to survive. 

Reel Insight 11 - Bruce Willis

Our eleventh episode is up.  Some great TV talk, lots of new movies, and then Bruce Willis.  Thanks for all the comments and the people participating in the Quoteable Quotes game.  This will be the last week for the summer, and we'll switch to a new game next weekend.  Get your guesses in early. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Movie Meme Day 22 - Favorite final scene/line

I'm sure there are a million movies that would fit this the best, but the one I just watched is The Princess Bride and when Peter Falk walks out and his grandson, Fred Savage, asks him to come over and read the story again and Falk says, "As you wish".  Can't be beat.  And then the song about storybook love starts and they play over the credits.  It's a completely satisfying ending to a terrific movie, that while funny is still a fairy tale of sorts. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Movie Meme Day 21 - Favorite romantic couple

At first glance I had no idea who I would pick for this day of the meme.  Do I pick Jack and Rose, Viola and Will S., or even Cecilia and Robbie, or Jack and Ennis (from Titanic, Shakespeare in Love, Atonement, and Brokeback Mountain, respectively)?   No, I had to pick Denys Finch Hatten and Karen Blixin, real-life lovers in Kenya in the 1920s.  Their love came to life on the big screen in Out of Africa from her written stories.  They never married, but once she separated from her husband, they lived together for several years, while maintaining their own careers.  The acting between Meryl Streep and Robert Redford (at his sexiest) is terrific.  You can tell from the first time they meet there are sparks between them, and when they can finally admit their love, it's just a terrifically romantic story.  Who knows how it would have ended up if he hadn't been killed in a plane crash in 1931.  It's done stunningly in the movie, with terrific music and a narration from Karen that just suddenly stops.  It rends your heart when she recites A.E. Houseman's "To an athlete dying young". 

 "To an athlete dying young"  A.E. Houseman
The time you won your town the race  
We chaired you through the market-place;  
Man and boy stood cheering by,  
And home we brought you shoulder-high.  
To-day, the road all runners come,          
Shoulder-high we bring you home,  
And set you at your threshold down,  
Townsman of a stiller town.  
Smart lad, to slip betimes away  
From fields where glory does not stay, 
And early though the laurel grows  
It withers quicker than the rose.  
Eyes the shady night has shut  
Cannot see the record cut,  
And silence sounds no worse than cheers  
After earth has stopped the ears:  
Now you will not swell the rout  
Of lads that wore their honours out,  
Runners whom renown outran  
And the name died before the man.   
So set, before its echoes fade,  
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,  
And hold to the low lintel up  
The still-defended challenge-cup.  
And round that early-laurelled head  
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,  
And find unwithered on its curls  
The garland briefer than a girl's.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Movie Meme Day 20 - Favorite kiss

I was going to pick something kind of classic - like Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeline Stowe in Last of the Mohicans because it's sexy and kind of defines the movie.  However, the one that sticks in my head and just has to be made known is Reece Witherspoon and Josh Lucas in Sweet Home Alabama
She's been wandering around down in her hometown that she tried desperately to escape, and she's starting to wonder why she left in the first place.  Reece is sitting in the graveyard for hunting dogs talking to the one she used to know and trying to figure out her life.  Josh comes in an congratulates her for making something of herself and apologizes for being such an ass when they got married out of high school.  Even though she's engaged she leans in and they kiss.  Very sexy.  Okay, going to watch it - you know I own it.  Let the laughing begin.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Movie Meme Day 19 - Best movie cast

This movie is not the best movie, but it's one of my favorites and doesn't have a weak link in the entire cast.  Playing by Heart stars Gene Rowlands and Sean Connery, Dennis Quaid and Madeline Stowe, Jillian Anderson and Jon Stewart, Angelina Jolie and Ryan Phillipe, Ellen Burstyn and Jay Mohr.  Each pair plays a couple, some married, some not.  There isn't much else to the supporting cast, with a ensemble this big.  Some movies that are based on a series of smaller stories that eventually interrelate fall really flat because you're only interested in a few of the stories and hate others.   
Playing by Heart doesn't have a weak storyline - they're all important and interesting and do a terrific job connecting towards the end.  Every time I see the movie, I like a different couple a bit better.  Connery and Rowlands are a married couple.  She has a cooking show and he runs her productions company.  He's discovered he has cancer and she's discovered he might have had an affair 20 years ago.  They argue and bicker about what it means to be in love and how a relationship lasts for so many years.  The final reveal about the whole movie takes place at their marriage vow renewal.  Check it out.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jimmy Fallon does Mad Men

This was pulled by NBC because the Emmy voting hadn't finished, but I'm sure it'll be up on TV soon.  It's really funny.  The Mad Men part starts about 20 seconds in.

Movie Meme Day 18 - Favorite title sequence

This was just as hard as the TV version of opening credits.  There just aren't enough of them posted online so I can show you what I mean by how awesome they are.  So I'll just describe my favorites and you'll have to trust me.  The first is from a movie that's only okay, Wimbledon, starring Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst as tennis players who fall in love.  Not terrible, and not great but does have one of the best opening title sequences of all movies.  The credits are bounced back and forth across a blank white screen along with the sound of a tennis ball and the hitting sound.  This may sound unoriginal, but it is done with really crisp text, good timing just so you can read them, but they don't linger too long.   The second opening sequence that is awesome is from Juno.  The scribbled animation of Juno walking down the street gives a terrific sense of the tone of the movie, and then they repeat the technique a few times when the seasons change.  My only beef with the Juno sequence is that it goes on far too long.  It could have been done much faster and been just as effective. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Movie Meme Day 17 - Favorite series of related movies

This is probably the best description of a series of movies made by the same group about a similar subject.  My first inclination was of course The Santa Clause series, but since it's not the holiday season (and those are unjustifiably not great movies), I'm going to choose the Harry Potter series.  Since there will be eight movies covering seven books of source material, it's hard to even call it a series, though franchise seems appropriate.  I'm sure I'll have more to say about how awesome they are when we get closer to the release of the final films, but I'll give you links to some great posts on other blogs about the wonder that is Harry Potter.

Andrew at Encore's World of Film and TV describes the Children of Harry Potter and the Adults of Harry Potter

Nick at Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob reminds us that there are imperfections in the series, though sometimes he sounds more like a fan than a hater when describing things he dislikes.

Fletch from Blog Cabins lists the oddest thing about Harry Potter - call it the pink elephant.

And finally, Rachel and Nick argue the merits of two different Potter films, and as a bonus you get to hear all about the Twilight series.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Happy 101 meme

The guys over at Anomalous Material and Detailed Criticisms tagged me with the Happy 101 award and so I'm happy to oblige by participating.   And while I love my family and adore my friends, I've decided to dedicate my list of things that bring me joy to the bloggers who do just that.

1.  First and foremost is Rachel over at Rachel's Reel Reviews.  In addition to being my partner in crime recording Reel Insight, she's also my friend.  A mom, wife, and insanely busy working woman, she also blogs like a fiend.  With a trustworthy opinion about movies and actors, reading her blogs about movies and her opinions about all things entertainment brings me joy.   We don't always agree (I don't think I harbor the same love for all things Twilight as she does, nor with the same level of irony), but I know where I'll stand when I hear her opinion. She also takes the time to comment on my blog and makes me feel like someone out there wants to read what I'm writing. 

2.  Fletch over at Blog Cabins was the first fellow movie blogger who reached out to me and asked me to join the LAMB.  Once upon a time I was a lonely blogger, alone in the world of movie love, and Fletch helped me join a group.  He's a terrific blogger himself, always pushing the limits of what a blog can be, what it should look like, how the community can grow.  His standards are what I aspire to live up to.

3.  Nick at Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob brings me joy by being such a dedicated teacher.  I never had a teacher who wanted to make movies about Shakespeare and this is just the little I know about him from his blogging about it.  I hope you never lose your desire to inspire your students and use them as cheap labor.   Oh, and his new Vlog is hysterical - I LOVE IT.

4.  David at Hoping for Something to Hope For was one of the first people to comment on my blog regularly.  While he blogs in spurts, I love reading about his love for Firefly, Buffy, and all things Joss Whedon.

5.  The Mad Hatter at The Dark of the Matinee and the Matineecast has become a new friend in the blogosphere, but his encouragement of our podcast, and participation in the whole process has been amazing.  Thanks Hatter!

6.  And to round out the other bloggers I love, I'll just give shout-outs to Sebastian at Detailed Criticisms (good luck at college), Andrew at Encore's World of Film and TV (thanks for all the meme time wasting), and Castor at Anomalous Material (thanks for all the help improving my blog).

Movie Meme Day 16 - Your guilty pleasure movie

This was was pretty easy.  There are a lot of movies that could count as guilty pleasures that I really enjoy watching.  Someone mentioned this morning one of my favorites, Joe Versus The Volcano.  The second of the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan trilogy (the others being Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail, in case you live under rocks), this movie is a stinker of the first order, starting with Hanks' hair.  He stars as Joe Banks, a mid-level working stiff who constantly feels awful.  He's diagnosed with a "brain cloud" and given just a few months to live.  Conveniently, his boss, Lloyd Bridges offers him the chance to make a lot of money and end his life on his own terms - by jumping into a volcano. 
Meg Ryan plays Banks' secretary, and then both of the daughters of Bridges.  The first sister is a "flibbertigibbet" and only conducts Banks from the plane to a boat, captained by the other sister who will bring him to the volcano.  The ship sinks, but they end up at the island anyway.  Banks and the sister realize what's going on, but jump into the volcano anyway, after falling in love and getting married.  I won't ruin the end (though I doubt you'll watch it).  The best parts of the movie don't really involve much of what I've described.  When Joe Banks realizes he's going to die, he decides to spend all his money and plan for the trip.  He hires a limo, driven by Ossie Davis, who advises him and takes him about, getting all kinds of travel equipment, like 4 large steamer trunks.  It's just a funny shopping montage, but I love it.  And then when the ship sinks, Hanks and Ryan are saved by the trunks as they pop up out of the ocean.  Hanks dances and stares at the moon, again a dumb but awesome montage.  Terrible movie, but you can't stop watching.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Reel Insight Episode 10 - Julia Roberts

People listening to me record this episode with Rachel said afterward I must have had a terrific time - or I'm a hysterical schizophrenic because I couldn't stop laughing.  Rachel and I had a fun time recording this one.  There was disagreement - our first simultaneous inclusion of a movie in the Top and Bottom 3.  You'll have to listen to find out which one.  The Quoteable Quotes game has 2 more weeks in August, so there's still time to win!

Movie Meme Day 15 - Best musical

There have been quite a few posts about musicals in the past few months.  Monday Musicals will return in a few weeks to be sure.  This post requirement is a bit strange, it doesn't say "Favorite" musical, it says "Best" musical.  Musicals have held fast to a format over many decades, though the successful ones continue to evolve in small ways to adapt to their own time.   The best musical, in my opinion of course, is West Side Story.  Taking the Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet, bringing it to New York City, and rather than having two families fighting, it's rival gangs of poor white Americans and poor immigrant Puerto Ricans.  The Jets and the Sharks fight over territory and attempt to stay out of trouble and stay away from the police.  Put to the music of Leonard Berstein, with the longest and best Overture among musicals, it's gorgeous music, that has amazing lyrics by the incomparable Stephen Sondheim.  You can't beat that.   Here's a scene I love.  Enjoy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Movie Meme Day 14 - Favorite film in black and white

I had to look up some details about this one.  When I first saw The Philadelphia Story, I rented it from Netflix, so I didn't see the DVD case.  When I bought my own copy it has a color cover and I'm guessing the movie has also been released in color, but it's still my favorite movie in black and white.  On a different note - I was impressed with Steven Spielberg when he refused to shoot Schindler's List in color and transform it to black and white for a theatrical release because he never wanted the movie shown in color.  He committed to the aesthetic he wanted and I think it paid off.   Back to The Philadelphia Story.  Katharine Hepburn plays Tracy Lord, a woman about to get married for the second time.  Her ex-husband, Cary Grant, has shown up to make some trouble, and Jimmy Stewart and Ruth Hussey show up as a reporter and photographer wanting to get the dirt on Tracy's family.  However, Stewart, who won an Oscar for this role, falls for Tracy, at the same time Grant kind of wants her back.  Hepburn is terrific as a woman conflicted, but still sure she doesn't really care what anyone else thinks about her.  It's a funny, romantic, dramatic, original story that has never been duplicated, though often duplicated. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Movie Meme Day 13 - Favorite animated movie

I reviewed Wall*E when I first saw it in the theater.  Then a few weeks ago I even got to podcast with the Lambcast (episodes 29 and 30) about my love for this movie.  There are a lot of animated movies to choose from for favorite, though.  My childhood favorite was definitely The Little Mermaid.  I saw Aladdin 5 times in the theater when it came out.  And I still see all the big animated movies every year (sometimes in the theater, sometimes not).  I'm not sure what it is about Wall*E that always makes me happy and makes it easy to watch repeatedly, but whoever was responsible for the character of WALL*E plays a big part of it. 
His innocence and determination are amazingly human, and of course his devotion to a Barbra Streisand musical (Hello, Dolly) just gives him that kind of nerdy attraction ironic for a robot!  His interactions with EVE and his desire to follow "her" around and eventually hold her hand is a childlike and yet universally acknowledged.  Overall, the movie also has an environmental message that I happen to agree with - people as a whole are trying very hard to destroy the natural world, much of the time with advanced consumerism.  Individually, people are also trying really hard to stop doing exactly that, and WALL*E represents those ideals, that we can each do our part, but it's the whole that matters as much as the individual when it comes to protecting the environment.