Retail Therapy

Now that Thanksgiving is over it's time for....no not Christmas yet though that will be here before you know it. No, it's time for the "holiday" that is literally trying to take over our day of thanks: Black Friday. Are you sick of hearing about it yet? If you are, then I can't say I blame you...but read my list anyway and perhaps live vicariously? And if you aren't, here's a good way to get you into the shopping spirit. Today's list features ten films with fabulous shopping sequences.

CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPOHOLIC -  Okay so this isn't the greatest movie made by any means, but I couldn't make a list of shopping and not include this silly little chick flick. After all, the whole plot of it is about a girl who can't stop shopping for clothes (and no it is NOT a story of my life....though it could be.) Yeah...it's probably a bad sign that I found myself relating to much of her inner monologues.

PRETTY WOMAN - It's everyone's dream to be given unlimited funds to clothe themselves in the finest apparel possible...unfortunately in this scenario you're a prostitute and you're only getting the clothes so you'll actually be presentable! But hey... at least you will get some clothes out of the deal!

ENCHANTED - This scenario is pretty much like the last one instead you don't have to be a prostitute! (Whoa..that's a Flight of the Conchords song!) This time you get to be a formerly animated princess who now is adjusting to being human being. Even better, you get to shop for a dress for a ball! Hooray!

BLANK CHECK - What would you do if you had access to unlimited money AND you're a kid? You would go on a huuuuge  toy shopping spree. And you wouldn't just stop at toys. You would get everything possible you can imagine under the sun. I must admit, I haven't seen this film since I was a kid...but this paired with Richie Rich were basically my dream life (minus the whole having an adult love interest when I'm just a kid...gross.)

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA - The only thing better than shopping with someone else's money is getting tons of freebies. If those freebies cost more money than most people make in a week...well that's pretty terrific. This film, a mousy Anne Hathaway gets to shop from the most en vogue racks you can think of, and consequently goes from totally geek to totally chic. Ah, the power of clothing.

BIG - So we've covered clothes shopping (and will revisit it again soon) Let's talk again about TOYS! There's something about toy stores in movies that are always magical. What's even better is if somehow you weasel your way into a job at a toy company and can design your own toys! #winning

CRAZY STUPID LOVE - Yes it is a well-known fact that I absolutely hate this film...but the best part revolves around a suave Ryan Gosling hosting a different type of clothing shopping spree. The guy certainly knows how to dress...and seeing him dole out advice is definitely one of the (few) highlights in the film.

BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE - A mall is a glorious place...but even more so if you're from another century and have never been in a mall! Music stores, aerobics classes and food courts. You'll be enthralled by the possibilities.

CLUELESS - Yes it's all 90's fashion...but it's crazy (then) cutting edge fashion! And you even can use a very archaic computer program to help you plan your outfits every day... Again as I mentioned...malls are the places to be!! ESPECIALLY when it concerns a homely friend needing an all too crucial makeover.

13 GOING ON 30 - When all else fails...just go shopping in your own closet! It only reallllly works though if you're unfamiliar with your closet and everything seems new. It's also good if said closet happens to be well organized so it can constantly shock and amaze. I aspire for my closet to look like this one day...but unfortunately I'm too much of a slob.

Moral of the story? Hooray for clothes! Movies and I both like them. Happy shopping. Or recovering from turkey comas. Whichev.


We Are Family

Tomorrow is the day! Thanksgiving day that is. And if for some reason you're not looking forward to spending some good old fashioned quality family time...just remember: it could be worse! Maybe your family drives you nuts and they're all a bunch of crazies, but here's a list that will make you COMPLETELY thankful for them, rather than being stuck with one of these dysfunctional movie families. Oh and for the record I'm COMPLETELY thankful for my family. They're absolutely the best and love each and every member of our clan like crazy. But...twenty years ago or so, amid all the obligatory youngest child teasing, I probably dreamed of running away at least once a week! Luckily though I never had it as bad as some of the members of the families below!

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE - This family is kind of a mess. Just about every type of psychiatric anxiety seems to be represented here, and at times it can be incredibly painful to witness their interactions with one another. There's a lot of sadness and pain in this family, and it kind of oozes from the screen. But there is a silver lining to this movie family, deep down under it all though, despite their differences they truly do love and support one another (even if that sometimes means impromptu dancing)

STAR WARS - my my my where do you even begin? Father is basically responsible for mother's death. Father completely obliterates daughter's home planet. Father chops off son's hand and tries to turn him evil. Siblings kiss each other. That ought to do it! At least they all seem to bond in the end...minus, of course, their mom who is dead.

THE GODFATHER - Do not betray the family. Just don't. Whether you happen to be a brother, wife or simply an in-law... make no mistake, you are not immune from the consequences just because you're "family." If betrayal occurs, you will likely either a) lose everything and wish you were dead...or b) be...dead! This family is....well one of the leading mob families, so everything you imagine about them is pretty much correct. They're liars, manipulators, and murderers. Still murderers are people too (right Mafia?) 

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK - OCD & Bi-polar makes for a winning combination in this family. A father who is obsessed with creating good juju so his football team and a son obsessed with getting back together with his estranged wife would be simply exhausting. You can see the toll it takes just by closely observing the mother as a character. And if Pat does [SPOILER highlight to read] end up marrying Tiffany after the film concludes [/Spoiler]  The family is gonna be even MORE messed up.

THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS - I'll admit, it's been some time since I've seen this, and I barely remember it....so I'm going from the faintest memory. But from what I DO recall....this family is MESSED UP. Three former child prodigies each grow up to be screwed up and neurotic. One is in love with his adopted sister, and the adopted sister is a chain smoker in a loveless marriage to an older man. And the other one is a paranoid father with two mini-him sons. The parents of the family, particularly the father (where likely all the dysfunction came from...) is even worse with the all the lying and manipulating going on.

BIG FISH - A father and son, on two polar ends of the universe. The son, grounded in reality while the father much prefers the color of fantasy and exaggerating: anything just to make a story good. For a son that cares nothing about stories and only wants the TRUTH, he's grown mighty resentful. When it comes down to it, a certain parent or sibling is never going to be the person you think they should be. It's a hard truth that many just don't want to accept. Big Fish shows that you should stop trying to understand them, but to enjoy them for who they are...and what time you have with them.

THE FIGHTER - Drugs and craziness persist in this family. I suppose the moral is having that many sisters/daughters would ruin anyone's life? Except Marky Mark of course. Really though, this is one of the most unpleasant and dysfunctional families I think that I've seen before. Yes they seem to need each other, but they probably would all be a lot better off emotionally without one another (maybe they'd win less fights, but they'd be more normal, functioning members of society!)

THE DESCENDANTS - Life can be messy. And depressing. Nowhere is that more evident than in The Descendants. Here we have a bit of a rebellious daughter and a recently deceased mother who was cheating up a storm on the family patriarch. If you lived in this family you'd constantly be having to learn life lessons like letting go of anger and making peace with the past. Really, who has time for that?

INTO THE WILD - Even though I dreamed of running away, at least I never went through with it! These next two films are a little different than the rest. Here the main character feels his family and future are just too much for him to handle and desires so much to have a permanent time out, forsaking everything to journey to Alaska (and not saying a word to them about his idea.) In this film, it's ultimately more about the absence of what you thought was a family you needed to get away from, than a straight up dysfunctional one (minus the main character I suppose!) Too bad he discovers a bit too late that "happiness is only real when shared." (Though I must attest I've had some pretty happy solo moments.)  If you need to feel grateful for what you've got, watching some of his struggles near the end will definitely do the trick.

UP IN THE AIR - A similar lesson to Wild is learned here. When George Clooney (ehh I'm not gonna even bother with character names at the moment,) reluctantly returns to the family he's constantly trying to distance himself from for his sister's wedding, he unexpectedly finds himself in the awkward position of having to warm some cold feet. Even though he's made it his life's work to keep people at a distance because of his own issues with personal relationships, (including his two sisters, which are shaky at best...) he comes to an important realization. "Life's better with company. Everybody needs a co-pilot." In all fairness though, I understand why he wouldn't want to hang out with his sisters. One has terrible taste in men, and the other is the annoying mom in Rookie of the Year!

That's it. I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving and remembers the stuff that truly matters. (Then the next day they can trample over complete strangers for stuff...) Oh and if you're looking for the tv edition you can always check out Arrested Development.


Gobble Gobble Gobble

Tis the season of gorging oneself! With the arrival of Thanksgiving merely days away, I thought it was only fitting that I paid tribute to some of the best food moments in cinema to get you into the pigging out spirit. This list can either properly inspire you to stuff your face or perhaps give you the strength to have some self-control, be wise and just live vicariously through these decadent film foods. I must say before I begin that this list was inspired by a Buzzfeed article you can find HERE, so don't be too surprised if you see some similarities....I just felt that my second item deserved to be on this list too much so I made a new one.

WAITRESS - Yes. I must admit the pies in this film put me into a sugar coma almost every time just looking at them. I loved them so much, I sought out the recipes and made some last Thanksgiving. You can read all about my love of those pies HERE But really if you're looking to get your fix by staring at some beautifully filmed food, there isn't just one scene in this one...but SEVERAL. The whole movie is about how one character can relate her life with food recipes, so you know you're golden in seeing some pretty good stuff.

CHOCOLAT - Wow. Two movies in a row that happen to be my sister's all-time favorites. I never made the connection that maybe she just likes movies about food...because another one happens to be on this list too! This one like Waitress, has MANY a scene with food...and not just devoted to any old food....devoted to CHOCOLATE. And not just ANY chocolate! FRENCH CHOCOLATE!! (...aka chocolat...) Plus you add in some good old, vintage Johnny Depp before the Jack Sparrow completely took over and you have a winning formula right there.

HOOK - Okay it's not that any of the food REALLY looked that good in the imaginary food scene...but as a kid it just always seemed to be exactly what I craved at any given moment (basically it looked like that rainbow ice cream that is actually kind of disgusting and yet I'm still slightly obsessed with it...) In my real and life, I probably would be horrified to see such a play dough colored pie, but in my youth it would have been a dream come true. I must admit I still have a fondness for even thinking of that scene for my own weird nostalgia.

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE - Here's another example of food appearing out of thin air. Once again, it's not just any food....but food beyond your fondest dream. Why? Because it's magic OF COURSE!! That obviously means it's the best tasting thing you can possibly think of. Really though, I swear I heard a gasp the first time I saw that. It must be the American dream...or just everyone's dream for food to come out of nowhere and onto your plate.

Can't get enough of those drumsticks!

WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY - Another movie devoted to chocolate! And a whole FACTORY full of it at that. That scene when he first brings them inside might just be the single most dream come true scenario on this list... Who wouldn't want to have everything around them be "eatable" (even I am eatable, but that my dear children is called cannibalism...oh wait wrong Chocolate Factory.) But again, that's not the only scene in the film that will have your sweet tooth hungry! Almost every scene comes up with something else to crave. As I type this I can't help but think about how much I could use a Wonka bar right this second!

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - I think any food probably tastes better if it's being described by singing and dancing silverware. But the silverware has got one thing right! The food in Paris is never second best! So yeah, if I were Belle, I too would be putting my finger in all those foods and sampling EVERYTHING...because it probably tasted scrumptious.

That's right Belle. Dance with the food you're about to murder!

HOME ALONE - Okay, like Hook none of this food actually looks that good. But this represents my childhood love of it. I really related to Kevin McCallister growing up. No one understood the value of a cheese pizza. When he stayed home and ordered his own it was like he was speaking to my soul's fondest wish. Then he follows it up by making a ridiculously huge ice cream Sunday and Christmas Eve mac & cheese. This kid totally got me and my food taste. Does it really make sense for me to put it on this list? No. But it represents the independence for you to be able to eat WHATEVER you want...and to a kid that was priceless.

How come indeed.

JULIE & JULIA - mmm. French cooking. Oh, how I miss it. I really enjoy this movie if only for staring at all of the delicious Julia Child recipes in action! It inspired me so much I've done my own Julie & Julia night twice now, and you can read a bit about my second account HERE. And if you're looking for some of the direct recipes used in the movie you can check out THIS ARTICLE. This movie was full of tasty looking foods, and I must say that raspberry bavarian cream cake looks like one I might want to copy soon...

A CHRISTMAS STORY - As per a family tradition, I can't think of Thanksgiving without thinking of this movie. The scene with the turkey though completely says it all about how you feel when you first start smelling the glorious bird cooking in the oven. You, like the old man, want to pick at the skin and eat bits and pieces all day long. But you must wait. Hopefully for you though you never have dogs tear the whole thing apart before you get a chance to eat it! But even if you did, you'd always have the old reliable Chinese food place open! (But maybe not so much the scene where Randy eats like a little piggy...)

I HATE meatloaf! Double beet loaf!

RATATOUILLE - The BuzzFeed list used the scene of the actual ratatouille, but that one is probably far from my favorite. I take more joy in Remy trying to teach his brother about FLAVOR. Or him cooking a mini little omelet. Or him pulling the strings of Linguini and coming up with recipes on the fly. Once again, this movie highlights one of my greatest joys: good food. So I just can't help but love it!

HONORABLE MENTIONS: JURASSIC PARK (ice cream, jello and raptors are a winning combination!) EAT PRAY LOVE (Italian pizzas are yummy,) WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (I'll have what she's having!)

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS: MATILDA (Mrs. Trunchbull's chocolate cake looks DISGUSTING...but props for them making me weirdly obsessed with Ferrero Rocher since I always thought those resembled the chocolates Miss Honey's father used to give her,) INDIANA JONES & THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (explanation uneeded...) BETTER OFF DEAD - His mother's cooking is so bad, whether its boiling bacon or making some disgusting green goo that happens to be mobile! I never really realized that perhaps getting tv dinners for Christmas might actually be a welcome gift considering her cooking! SWEENEY TODD - All of Mrs. Lovett's pies are NOT to be trusted!

Well. That's my list! Hungry yet? And anything else I missed??


In Memoriam

Earlier this month it was announced that starting sometime in the next year, we will cease to live in a world where Blockbuster exists. This news brought to me so many feelings...so many memories, where could I possibly begin? A world without video DVD stores? THE video movie store? Luckily, I wasn't the only person to feel this tinge of pain. Saturday Night Live crafted a sketch that so perfectly describes the loss that will soon be among us I had to share it with you all. For my part, I created a beautiful eulogy that I hope you will read, and take a few moments to ponder your own feelings.

To Blockbuster: I hardly knew ye.
You came before me and I truly thought you'd be here long after me. I thought I'd enjoy your companionship throughout my entire life. I cannot comprehend my children not knowing you (what children you ask? Just humor me BB.) I remember meeting you as a child and being all too happy to visit anytime I could. I remember working next door to you during high school and the convenience of visiting you anytime. During college, I would wander the shelves with my friends to numb my tired brain after endless homework. Finally, I remember coming to you to track down various weird and random films for themed blog posts in the last few years. Sometimes you let me down (quite often actually...) but there was always a comfort to be found. Redbox and Netflix, you've got blood on your hands as BB finally gets the medicine it gave out so long ago. Peace gentle video store company, the hard fought journey is now over. 

Hungry For More?

This is review is gonna be short and sweet. Doesn't it seem like just yesterday when the first Hunger Games film was upon us? Only a year and a half later, the long awaited and much anticipated second installment is finally here (forgive me my skeptical bias to fast-tracked sequels here, I just tend to prefer it when due time is spent on creating the tightest film possible.) So how does Catching Fire stand up to its predecessor? My feelings regarding the second entry in the Hunger Games franchise (as well as the audience I watched it with this time...ugh) is quite similar to how I felt about the first film HERE.That said, I'm delighted my advice from the first review was taken in two instances, the first being that the cinematography was much improved (no shaky cam) and the second being that Liam finally kicked Miley to the curb in his personal life haha. As a whole, I definitely find this film and franchise entertaining and enjoyable. I certainly like it. I'm just not...gushing with love for it if that makes sense.

I would say Catching Fire is an improvement overall for sure. The stakes feel higher, the threats worse and everything seems more hopeless. And the story is just a bit more interesting. Even if it is a weird hybrid of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Truman Show (with some J-Lawface thrown in as well....which is akin to Tobeyface I'm afraid.) But I gotta give credit where credit is due. I really enjoy when movies can surprise me, and there were definitely times when I had no idea which way this movie was going. Plus I must say, I'm very intrigued to see where this story will go. It definitely leaves things in a really interesting place and sets up a third film rather nicely. Once again, that doesn't mean I'm out to buy the books or would even consider its sequel one of my most anticipated movies....of whenever this is due to come out. Just...when these come out, I'll see them and I'll likely be entertained and satisfied. I suppose that's good enough in the sea of blockbuster franchise offerings these days. EMILY RATING: 7.7/10


Coulda Woulda Shoulda

Sometimes when watching a film, I can't help but wish that I had the power to revise film history a bit. If only to make filmmakers understand the value of "NO TOUCHING!" Or in other words, when you've got a good thing going, just leave it alone. Far too many films became franchises when they should have been one and done. Here's a list of the ten worst offenders, and I have plenty more in the honorable mentions. Also, before we begin, a huge THANK YOU to Courtney once again for her fabulous graphics.

Welcome to the movie that inspired the whole list. You could not have a wider spread of quality between the first movie in this series to the last. Over time, the series has become a complete mockery because it lost its way and completely forgot the type of film the first one was trying to be. John McClane starts as an everyman. Sure he's an above average everyman who is extremely, clever and resourceful....but we do know he is vulnerable. When you get to films 4 and 5, McClane is no longer a man, but an invincible god. Sure he's fun to watch and the action is completely over the top, but all of his charm and relateability is completely gone.

I'm sure this series more than any other on this list wishes it didn't have a sequel either! The lesson to be learned here? If the main star of the first film doesn't return for the sequel, it's probably not the best idea to center a second film around his former love interest, who you then will inform the audience that things never worked out between the two. This makes it seem like Keanu Reeves was a throwaway character in the crazy love life of Sandra Bullock. Is THAT what Speed was supposed to be about?? It also might not help to give the film a ridiculous plot or set it on a cruise ship either...

Now, I'll admit films 3 and 4 are entertaining enough to argue this film's shouldn't be included here, but the 2nd film in this series is so unbelievably awful I had to put it anyway. The first film feels so unlike all the other films in this series, and while the latter films are fine...they still lack the urgency, cleverness or seriousness of the first film. You get the sense from the first one that there are real mysteries to be solved, and the latter films are nothing more than popcorn epics with side characters throwing out silly one-liners. There's just something about the first film that seems more sophisticated than the rest, and I would have been fine if this was the only adventure I ever saw Ethan Hunt embark on.

Sometimes sequels are so awful that you just have to basically forget they even exist for the sake of the first film's legacy. Certain classics take an amount of suspending belief for the audience to even buy one premise....let alone the same event happening over and over. One killer shark is frightening, but several that keep attacking the same people over and over and over? It's a little implausible to say the least, and it seems to undermine the threat of the shark in the first film. He's just one in a million, who cares about him when there's just gonna be a bigger, badder one in a few years time?

When will people learn to leave the Alfred Hitchcock classics alone? And what's wrong with a little mystery regarding iconic characters? Why must everything be sought to explained in other films? Prequels, sequels, side-quels (okay, I made that one up...) but seriously! Can't we leave things unknown, and better yet up to the imaginations of the viewer? These may perhaps be some of the most unnecessary sequels in all of film history!

This first Matrix film achieved the rare combination of being trippy, mysterious and cool, all in one. It was just enough of everything. But, of course, hungry audiences wanted more of that world, more of that story. What they got were some cool actions scenes, but also a whole convoluted mess that just more than anything else was unnecessary. Complication and confusion for the purpose of nothing really. Trying to set up a mythology that was its own, when the first one had done a fine enough job of that without being TOO head scratching.

The first film back in 2003 was a simple, fun summer movie. Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow was fresh, and his adventure was fun. And thennnnn they ran into the ground. One good character does not a movie make, even though the sequels seemed to all think so. The more you have to rely on said character, the more overused and tiresome he gets. It's too bad this couldn't have been a fun one-off adventure that we all could fondly remember....without shuddering about the existence of At Worlds End. As with The Matrix, the desire to create this film's own mythology made it extremely convoluted and clunky. Just...no one cares. Keep it simple and fun.

This is truly a film that should not have been a franchise. I can see the temptation in making it one and why they did....but a silly kitschy premise really can only work so many times. In fact, they were lucky it actually worked fine enough the first time! Don't push your luck! This is the type too that though I find the first film entertaining and fun enough, as a franchise it basically made me ambivalent about the whole thing. Not only that, but there's just something incredibly dated about this one. It really screams 90's film...not something that should be made today.
The first film was a masterpiece. The sequels? Popcorn tragedies. Okay, The Lost World isn't THAT bad (or is it?) But it definitely isn't THAT good. And for the standard set by Jurassic Park, it's simply unacceptable. It suffers from the fact that while Ian Malcolm was a great character in the first film, he was definitely better as a side character. And the side characters they brought in to support him were simply awful. Sure it's fun to see dinosaurs in the modern world and not just on the island....but there's also something a little Godzilla-y about it too.

This movie is harmless enough, and it's definitely nice to see the Ghostbusters again....but it definitely doesn't come close to achieving the par set by its predecessor. And if there's one thing I really hate in these sequels, it's undoing the progress made by the first film. Peter Venkman worked hard to get Dana in the original film! Sure, it's more believable he'd screw it up and they wouldn't STAY together, but who cares? We want our hero to be happy! Then the other thing I just don't care for is the complete 180 of Annie Potts character just so Rick Moranis can have a love interest. It's a fun enough movie and one of the lesser offenders on the list to be sure, but it could and should have been better.