Posted in Listening to Music, Living Life, Watching Movies

Why Do We Mourn Celebrity Deaths?

This week we all had the unfortunate task of saying goodbye to two celebrated and beloved icons, David Bowie and Alan Rickman. With Bowie’s eccentric style and music and Rickman’s dry humor and villainess ways, they were two extremely different performers, but loved so much that the world is mourning their loss with heavy hearts. 
Celebrity deaths happen often, as it’s a natural part of life. And while the majority of us don’t know any of these celebrities personally, we still shed tears over the loss. Why is that? Why do we mourn the death of these celebrities like they’re a close friend or family member?

The answer is simple – when we’re a fan of a public figure, they become a part of our lives. Not a physical part like friends and family, but an accessory. They become something that means something special to us, and when that something is gone, it’s almost as if a part of us is gone, too. We mourn out of nostalgia rather than personal grief.

When someone like Alan Rickman dies, we’re sad because Rickman played characters that we treasure. Suddenly our Severus Snape really IS gone, and it makes us sad. We know from the people that were close to him that he really was one of the most loving, generous, loyal, and nice people around, which is great, but it’s not something that we know first-hand. Yet here we are, reading tributes to him on the internet, and crying.

I can think of a handful of celebrity deaths that made me cry – Heath Ledger, Robin Williams, River Phoenix, Cory Monteith, James Horner, Christopher Lee, Michael Jackson…people I never knew and never would know, yet people who had an impact on me at some point of my life. And because of that, I felt that loss.


Of course it’s a different kind of mourning we go through than when someone we personally know dies. When friends and family pass, the mourning seeps into your whole body, it becomes something physical that you can’t really shake. Sometimes it’s hard to cry because the sadness is too much…because it’s too real. And it’s something that stays with you for the rest of your life.

It’s not like that when a celebrity dies. Not to say that crying over a celebrity is something superficial or fake, because it’s not. But there’s that distance we can put between the death that makes it seem, well, not so bad. Yes, we were all sad when Robin Williams died. Many of us cried. We thought of those moments when he became a part of your life, like when you saw “Aladdin” for the first time, or when “Good Will Hunting” was your favorite movie for a few years. But that sadness wasn’t the same sadness his family and friends felt when he was suddenly gone from their lives.


I know lots of people who think it’s silly to mourn a celebrity’s death. “It’s not like you actually knew them”, they’ll say. And that’s fine if they want to think that way. But don’t let that stop you from mourning. And don’t let it stop you from celebrating what that celebrity brought to your life. Because when it comes down to it, that’s what we’re doing. Today, although we’re sad, we’re celebrating the joy that Alan Rickman brought us when he played the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham. We’re celebrating the life of David Bowie by listening to his music.

And that’s the silver lining in all of this: film, music, print…all the things that celebrities did are here forever. Sure, we can miss these people because they won’t be making more movies or performing music or writing books, but we’ll always have access to the stuff that made us love them. So in a way they’ll always be a part of us whether they’re alive or not.


And that’s a comforting thought.

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Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, Reading Books, Traveling to Places, Watching Movies

So…What Happened to 2015?

Well, I made it through the entire year of 2015 without blogging once. Don’t worry, I’m not touting this as a good thing. In fact, I’m downright ashamed about it. Blogging was my thing, the one way I held on to my love of writing that spawned over 20 years ago…and I just let it disappear.

 

I could sit here and blame a list of things for my lack of writing: no ideas, no time, etc., but it wouldn’t justify anything. I had ideas. I had time. I just got lazy. It became easier to just post on the many pointless social networks I belong to. In fact, basically all I did in 2015 was post to social networks that I don’t even like because I kept changing my mind about which one I wanted to use and didn’t want to use and it was enough to drive me crazy.

In fact, it DID drive me crazy. Crazy to the point where I decided that in 2016 I need to get back into long-form blogging and ENOUGH WITH THE SHIT OF SOCIAL MEDIA.

But I’m not here to discuss all the things that are wrong with social media in 2016. I’m here to tell you that I’m back and that this year will be much different than last year. It HAS to be.

So before I officially make my blogging return, here’s a quick run-down of the things that happened in 2015 just so you know that it wasn’t ALL social media.

• I realized that I liked other genres of books more than young adult. That’s right! 2015 was the year where I sort of broke up with YA and embraced historical mysteries and middle grade. Of course middle grade isn’t exactly new to me, but some of the best books I read last year were from the middle grade genre. And I absolutely tore through the Maisie Dobbs and the Beatrix Potter mystery series’, thus giving the British Cozy Mystery genre a new fan.

• I saw some movies in 2015! Even some in the theater! See, I’m not getting old just yet. A couple of stand-outs were Pixar’s Inside Out (which made me cry like a 15-year-old me watching Little Women), Cinderella (which was just PERFECT), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which is so freaking fabulous I may need to write a separate post about it).

• It’s no surprise that I listened to a ton of music this year, mostly film scores. Unlike YA books, film music will ALWAYS be my thing and I’ll never outgrow it. Highlights: Patrick Doyle’s Cinderella, Junkie XL’s Mad Max: Fury Road, Debbie Wiseman’s Wolf Hall, and DUH John Williams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

• Speaking of music, I finally got to see One Direction LIVE AND IN CONCERT in July. I went by myself, like all cool 36-year-old moms do, and had a freaking blast. Seriously, it was tons of fun. And hot as hell since it was like 95 degrees, but still tons of fun. After seeing New Kids on the Block in 1990, ‘NSYNC in 1999, I’ve finally come full circle. No more boy bands in my future.

• Oh, let’s not forget TV! Of course these days I usually only watch whatever my daughter watches (which isn’t bad at all), but last January brought the return of two of my favorite shows, Sherlock (Series 3) and Downton Abbey (Series 5). And then in May my other favorite show, Glee, finally came to an end after 6 seasons. Again, talking about that show and its ending will require a separate blog post.

• In terms of traveling, the only place we went this year was California to visit the in-laws. Despite the fact that my father-in-law’s health was fading during our summer visit, we managed to have some fun at Disneyland and my first trip to Universal Studios. We had to return to CA in October for my FIL’s funeral, which was sad, and doesn’t even count as a trip since it was literally for two days. This year, however, is a biggie when it comes to travel. In March we head to Japan for two weeks with my mother-in-law and brother-in-law in what will definitely be the most interesting and fascinating trip I’ve ever taken. You can bet there will be post about that!!

2015 was definitely an interesting year, with both the good and the bad. But it’s time to move on…time to remember the good, get past the bad, and welcome the new.

HERE’S TO BLOGGING IN 2016!!

Posted in Watching Movies

My National Film Registry Nominations

A while back I wrote about the National Film Registry and all the wonderful movies that had been inducted, particularly thirteen awesome ones.  After learning all about the NFR, I fully intended on submitted my own nominations for 2013.  However, that deadline has unfortunately passed as of September 13, 2013, which means I’ll have to wait until next year to submit my list.

My list of 25 films may change from now until then, but here’s what I have as of today.  Remember, the nominated film must be at least ten years old and be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important”.  Obviously those factors are determined differently by everyone, but here’s what I think is a pretty awesome list (in alphabetical order).

before_sunriseNominee:  Before Sunrise

Year:  1995

Why:   “Loving someone, and being loved means so much to me.  We always make fun of it and stuff.  But isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”

blair_witch_project_ver3Nominee:  The Blair Witch Project

Year:  1999

Why:  “We walked for 15 hours today, we ended up in the same place!  There’s no one here to help you, THAT’S your motivation!  THAT’S YOUR MOTIVATION!”

the-breakfast-club-1985-hughesNominee:  The Breakfast Club

Year:  1985

Why:  “What we found out is that each of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal.  Does that answer your question?”

600full-a-charlie-brown-christmas-posterNominee:  A Charlie Brown Christmas

Year:  1965

Why:  “Nobody sent me a Christmas card today.  I almost wish there weren’t a holiday season.  I know nobody likes me.  Why do we have a holiday season to emphasize it?”

cinderellaNominee:  Cinderella

Year:  1950

Why:  “And yet through it all Cinderella remained ever gentle and kind, for with each dawn she found new hope that someday her dreams of happiness would come true.”

clerksNominee:  Clerks

Year:  1994

Why:  “Empire had the better ending.  I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader’s his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett.  It ends on such a down note.  I mean, that’s what life is, a series of down endings.  All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets.”

936full-clueless-posterNominee:  Clueless

Year:  1995

Why:  “Miss Stoeger, I would just like to say that physical education in this school is a disgrace.  I mean, standing in line for forty minutes is hardly aerobically effective.  I doubt I’ve worked off the calories in a stick of Carefree gum.”

evildead1Nominee:  The Evil Dead

Year:  1981

Why:  “Soon all of you will be like me…And then who will lock you up in a cellar?”

ferris_buellers_day_offNominee:  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Year:  1986

Why:  “What do you mean nothing good?  We’ve seen everything good.  We’ve seen the whole city!  We went to a museum, we saw priceless works of art!  We ate pancreas!”

MPW-18720Nominee:  Field of Dreams

Year:  1989

Why:  “This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray.  It reminds us of all that was once good and it could be again.  Oh…people will come, Ray.  People will most definitely come.”

A70-11370Nominee:  Gladiator

Year:  2000

Why:  “My name is Maximus Decimas Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius.  Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife.  And I will have my vengeance, in this life or next.”

grease_xlgNominee:  Grease

Year:  1978

Why:  “Why, this car is Auto-matic.  It’s System-matic.  It’s Hyyyydro-matic.  Why, it’s Greased Lightning!”

jerry-maguire-movie-poster-1996-1020199178Nominee:  Jerry Maguire

Year:  1996

Why:  “I lost the number one draft pick the night before the draft!  Why?  Let’s recap: Because a hockey player’s kid made me feel like a superficial jerk. I ate two slices of bad pizza, went to bed and grew a conscience!”

1993-jurassic-park-poster1Nominee:  Jurassic Park

Year:  1993

Why:  “God creates dinosaurs.  God destroys dinosaurs.  God creates man.  Man destroys God.  Man creates dinosaurs…Dinosaurs eat man.  Woman inherits the earth.”

The-Little-Mermaid-Movie-Poster-the-little-mermaid-18617517-1172-1790Nominee:  The Little Mermaid

Year:  1989

Why:  “If he does kiss you before the sun sets on the third day, you’ll remain human permanently, but if he doesn’t, you turn back into a mermaid and…you belong to me.”

lord_of_the_rings_the_fellowship_of_the_ring_ver4_xlgNominee:  The Lord of the Rings:  Fellowship of the Ring

Year:  2001

Why:  “Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.  Even the very wise cannot see all ends.  My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over.  The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”

Poster_-_Mary_PoppinsNominee:  Mary Poppins

Year:  1964

Why:  “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.  You find the fun, and – SNAP – the job’s a game!”

moulin_rougeNominee:  Moulin Rouge

Year:  2001

Why:  “You may see me only as a drunken, vice-ridden gnome whose friends are just pimps and girls from the brothels.  But I know about art and love, if only because I long for it with every fiber of my being.”

nightmare_before_christmas_ver1Nominee:  The Nightmare Before Christmas

Year:  1993

Why:  “There’s children throwing snowballs instead of throwing heads, they’re busy building toys and absolutely no one’s dead!”

gpxjoE0yvRwIhFEJgNArtKtaN7SNominee:  The Princess Bride

Year:  1987

Why:  “You can’t hurt me.  Westley and I are joined by the bonds of love.  And you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds, and you cannot break it, not with a thousand swords.”

Saving-Private-Ryan-movie-posterNominee:  Saving Private Ryan

Year:  1998

Why:  “Someday we might look back on this and decide that saving Private Ryan was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of this whole, godawful, shitty mess.”

Shakespeare_In_Love-PosterNominee:  Shakespeare in Love

Year:  1998

Why:  “My story starts at sea…a perilous voyage to an unknown land…a shipwreck…the wild waters roar and heave…the brave vessel is dashed all to pieces, and all the helpless souls within her drown…all save one…it will be a love story, for she will be my heroine for all time.  And her name will be Viola.”

20110513040054!Terminator_2_posterNominee:  Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Year:  1991

Why:  “Of all the would-be fathers that came over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only thing that measured up.  In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.”

when-harry-met-sally-posterNominee:  When Harry Met Sally

Year:  1989

Why:  “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out.  I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich…and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night.”

willy_wonka_and_the_chocolate_factory_xlgNominee:  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Year:  1971

Why:  “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”

So there you have it.  I don’t know when the nominations are announced or the inductees are chosen, but expect it to me sometime early next year.  And then we’ll see how many of my nominations (if any) are chosen!  Until then, what movies would you want to see be inducted?

Posted in Listening to Music, Watching Movies

The Awesome 13 – Disney Songs

I’ve been on a Disney kick lately.  Not sure why…but Disney music has been getting a lot of action on my Pandora app as of late.  I’ve always loved Disney music – it’s sort of inevitable when I was practically raised on Disney movies – and I’m lucky that I have a daughter who shares the same enthusiasm, even if she’s not as familiar with much of the music as I am.

So I decided to see if I could narrow down the extensive Disney music library into a list of 13 songs, aka 13 AWESOME DISNEY SONGS as determined by yours truly.  And here is the result.*

*These songs are from animated movies only.  Disney live action is a whole other topic to be visited at another time, and would probably only consist of songs from Newsies anyway.

13.  “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” – Mulan

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For some reason it seems that people aren’t as aware of this movie as they should be.  Granted it came out towards the end of Disney’s golden 90s decade of awesomeness, but it’s still a great movie with beautiful animated and good songs.  Like this song in particular.  Sung by the war hero Shang (well, technically it’s sung by Donnie Osmond, which just adds to its awesomeness), Mulan’s sort-of crush who still thinks she’s a boy, it’s a fun song with a fun montage of boys becoming soldiers.  And every good Disney song deserves a good Disney montage.

12.  “Belle” – Beauty and the Beast

Belle_Reprise

This movie already has one of the best prologues of all the Disney movies (gaah…all the stained glass windows!), so why not let it have the best opening song of all the movies!  Beautifully sung by Paige O’Hara, who is also one of the few during the 90s who was able to do both the speaking and singing parts, it gives us a great introduction to who I think is the best Disney heroine EVER.  I mean, come on…she sings about BOOKS.  Not much can compete with that.

11.  “Poor, Unfortunate Souls” – The Little Mermaid

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Ah, yes.  The One That Started It All.  For many of us in my generation (late 70s to early 80s), this was indeed the movie that got us hooked on Disney animation.  This movie is filled with what are probably my favorite Disney songs (and many of my favorite Disney EVERYTHINGS), but it’s Ursula’s song/lament/proposal for Ariel that always stands out.  Every Disney villain deserves a good song, but this one still gives me the chills because “it’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man”.  Damn, Ursula.

10.  “Some Day My Prince Will Come” – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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What I consider to be Disney’s first hit song, it’s hard to believe that this song is over 75 years old.  And yet it still speaks to millions of girls (and boys, I’m sure) all over the world.  I’m sure there are some women out there who hate this song, who think that women should want more than just some man to save them, but come on, peeps.  That’s not what this song is about.  Snow White is just a young girl wishing for a better life, and that life just happens to include a great guy to share it with.  After 75 years it’s still a beautiful song of hope that also happens to be pretty awesome, too.

9.  “All in the Golden Afternoon” – Alice in Wonderland

videosong

Poor Alice.  It always seems that just because she’s not a princess, she always gets forgotten.  It’s true that the songs in the movie aren’t that memorable.  To most people, that is.  But I’ve personally always loved the song sung by all the flowers after Alice has been shrunk down to the size of a caterpillar.  Yeah, so the flowers aren’t exactly the nicest plants in the world.  A lot of them are actually kind of, well, evil.  But no matter.  I just think the song is fun and a great way to learn about bread-and-butterflies.

8.  “Sing, Sweet Nightingale” – Cinderella

Cinderella196

Ilene Woods, the voice of Cinderella, had a beautiful voice.  It wasn’t the high soprano of Adriana Caselotti’s Snow White – in fact, it seem almost the opposite.  It was lower and richer in tone, but still sounded completely relatable, like Cinderella was a real person.  She sings more than one song in the movie, but her voice sounds best while singing this short melody while cleaning the floor.  There aren’t many words in the song, but she had the kind of voice that didn’t need words to sound great.  Her sound was enough.

7.  “Be Prepared” – The Lion King

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The Lion King’s soundtrack was definitely Disney’s biggest endeavor and most popular, thanks to Elton John and all his skillz.  His two songs “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “Circle of Life” were huge pop radio hits, but my favorite once again goes to the villain.  Scar, the evil Uncle of Simba and voiced by Jeremy Irons, sings a song that’s so haunting and terrifying that it still kind of scares the crap out of me.  It’s filled with evil lyrics and evil chanting, and with allusions of Hitler weaving themselves throughout, you end up with one hell of a song.

6.  “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)” – Hercules

500px-I_Won't_Say_I'm_In_Love

Hercules is another one of those Disney movies that gets forgotten because it’s not about a princess.  It’s strong point is its comedy and stylized animation, but it does have one song that I think is brilliant, and it’s the only song that the character Megara (“my friends call me Meg – that is, they would if I had any friends”, another one of my faves) gets to sing.  Meg tries to deny that she has any kinds of feelings for Hercules, but duh, she totally does.  But she tries to sing her way out of it, and the outcome is a song so freaking catchy and groovy that you’ll find yourself hitting repeat on your car stereo more than once.  Or maybe that’s just me.

5.  “Reflection” – Mulan

mulan

Behind every Disney heroine solo lies a cry for help and a secret wish, and “Reflection” is a perfect example of that.  Mulan pretty much sings what every girl – animated or not – feels at least once in her life.  Who am I?  Why am I pretending to be someone I’m not?  Will I ever be able to see my reflection?  Oh wait, that’s what vampires sing about (haha, sorry).  But seriously, this is a beautiful song about confusion and hope that’s beautifully sung by Lea Salonga, but that should come as no surprise because, duh, Lea Salonga.  She’s kind of the unofficial singing voice of everything in my head.

4.  “Once Upon a Dream” – Sleeping Beauty

sleeping-beauty-75

I’ve already admitted that Sleeping Beauty is my favorite Disney animated movie of all time in this post, and one of the contributing factors to that is the music.  The smartest thing Disney did with this movie was take the original ballet music that Tchaikovsky wrote and turn it into their film score.  And when they added lyrics to one of its main theme, you get Aurora’s own song of hope, that her dreams are all she has to go by.  Which, if you think about it, sounds an awful lot like what Cinderella was singing about in this next song…

3.  “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” – Cinderella

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As I said, dreams and wishes and hope are big amongst all the Disney girls.  And it’s no surprise that Cinderella probably had it worse of all of them.  At least the other girls had, you know, actual people that loved them.  Cinderella?  Not so much.  So the fact that she can be so positive while singing about her dreams is not only the sign of a great person, but a great song as well.  Even if you live with evil people who make you clean the curtains and do the laundry four times a day, it’ll be okay as long as you hold on to your dreams.  And hey, look where Cinderella ended up.  It worked for her, it may work for you, too.

2.  “A Whole New World” – Aladdin

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I just freaking love this song, I really do.  Seriously, I love every single thing about it.  I love Lea Salonga’s and Brad Kane’s voices.  I love the melody.  I love the lyrics.  I love the magic carpet ride they take us all on.  I just…honesty, I don’t know if words can really describe my feelings for this song.  It also brings back wonderful memories of being 13 years old in the midst of my Disney phase and thinking that Aladdin was the greatest movie ever.  But really, this song is a great example of Disney songwriting at its best.  Also, MAGIC CARPET.

1.  “Part of Your World” – The Little Mermaid

singingariel

Okay, here we are.  Numero uno.  And no surprise, really.  This song proved just how important songs are to Disney films, and how one song can be the best part of a whole movie.  And back in 1989, this song was the most important thing Disney could have done to restart their dominance in film animation.  But all business aside, this song is absolutely perfect.  And it’s still the only Disney song that can bring tears to my eyes.  How many times have I seen this movie?  How many times have I heard this song?  No matter.  When Ariel bravely sings that she’s sick of swimming and ready to stand, I don’t even bother trying to stop the tears.  You don’t have to be a mermaid to want to be part of a human world.  You just have to be a person who wants to be a part of something to understand how Ariel feels, and I think that’s something that we’ve all felt.  Oh, and Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel?  Ah, man.  It’s just…the feels.  The feels.

Runners-Up Who Didn’t Make It Into the Top 13 But Still Undeniably Awesome:

  • “Just Around the Riverbend” – Pocahontas
  • “Just Can’t Wait to be King” – The Lion King
  • “Kiss the Girl” – The Little Mermaid
  • “When Will My Life Begin” – Tangled
  • “Something There” – Beauty and the Beast
  • “You’ll Be in My Heart” – Tarzan
  • “So This is Love” – Cinderella
  • “My Own Home” – The Jungle Book
  • “You Can Fly, You Can Fly, You Can Fly” – Peter Pan

I should just stop before I end up listing every single Disney song ever written.

Posted in Catching TV, Watching Movies

Crushable, Swoon-Worthy, and…Animated?

A couple of years ago I wrote a post called “Crushing on Fictional Characters”, in which I wrote about…well…fictional characters in books I was crushing on.  Duh.  There have been many literary books that come to life on the pages and make me fall in love with them, and that all comes with excellent writing.  If I like a boy in a book, the author has done their job.

But what about the boys (or girls, whatever) that are in TV or movies but aren’t…real?  As in, not real people?  As in…ANIMATED??  (Please don’t say cartoons.  PLEASE.)

That’s right, I have totally developed crushes on animated characters.  Whether it’s a Disney prince or an evil anime boy, it’s happened.  And that’s all thanks to the brilliant animators and writers behind some of these shows and movies.

So what animated boys leave me crushing?  Here’s a handful of swoon-worthy hand-drawn or computer animated characters that have stolen my real, beating heart.

Prince Phillip (Sleeping Beauty)

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To this day, Phillip is the only Disney Prince who has made me swoon (though Flynn Rider comes close).  Why is that?  Is it the Gothic-style animation?  Is the color of his glorious golden brown hair?  Is it his personality?  Is it the way he climbs up the stairs to find a sleeping princess and looks at her like she’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen?

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Well, I suppose it’s a little bit of all of that.  And plus, there’s the fact that he can dance.  Remember that scene in Gilmore Girls when Rory and Lorelei are making Dean watching Sleeping Beauty and they say that Phillip is the best Prince, and Dean says, “Because he can dance.”  He claims it’s because he has a little sister that he knows this, but we all know it because it’s totally true.  Prince Phillip can awake me from a 100-year sleep any damn day.

Lion-O (Thundercats)

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If I’m honest, I’m not really talking about the original 80s version of Lion-O.  I mean, he was okay, I guess, but nowhere near the 2011 reboot Lion-O.  Damn, that man-lion thing is sexy.  One thing that changed from the original, and in term helped out Lion-O’s sexiness immensely is instead of being a boy trapped inside a man’s body (because that’s just annoying), now Lion-O is a misunderstood teenager.  Which means lots of brooding looks and stuff.  Which people like.

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Not to mention he’s got waaaaay better hair now.  Or mane.  He is a lion, right?  Whatever.  I would probably date him, were I also an animated cat-like humanoid android.  If he wasn’t so hung up on Cheetara.  Even though she’s totally hung up on Tygra.  Oh, the drama!

Tuxedo Mask / Darien Shields (Sailor Moon)

Tuxedo-mask-sailor-moon-25225153-498-370

Ah, Darien Shields.  AKA Tuxedo Mask.  AKA Mamoru Chiba / Tuxedo Kamen, if you’re staying true to the original Japanese version.  Whatever you want to call him, you have to at least call him sexy.  Because basically Darien Shields / Tuxedo Mask is like the anime version of Bruce Wayne and Batman.  And that, my friends, is glorious.

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I used to watch Sailor Moon every morning before school (we’re talking high school, people), and my favorite episodes were always the ones with Tuxedo Mask.  After losing his parents when he was a child (like Bruce Wayne), he eventually develops a dual-identity, unknowingly turning into Tuxedo Mask whenever Serena Tsukino (Sailor Moon) is in trouble.  So he’s always saving the day in his mysterious way, and I eventually developed a teeny little crush on him, even though I wouldn’t have admitted that to anyone back in high school.

Now I really don’t care what people think, and I’m proud to belong to the Tuxedo Mask fandom.  Because you never know when he might come and save you!

Prince Zuko and Jet (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

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The only reason I’m lumping these two guys together is because they’re from the same show.  Other than that, they’re totally different.  But both sexy.

Prince Zuko is the misunderstood (there’s that word again) teenage Prince who’s been banned from the Fire Kingdom by his own father, which means Zuko has a TON of issues.  Mostly regarding his family – his mean dad, his missing mom, his crazy evil sister, and his wonderful uncle – but still.  He’s got every right to be angry and pissed off and depressed and upset.  And it’s all those things that make Zuko so lovable.  Seriously, I just want to punch him in the face, tell him it’s all going to be okay, and then hug him.  Forever.

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Oh, but then there’s Jet.  Jet only appeared in two or three episodes throughout the whole series, but he made such an impact that he’s got fangirls up the wahzoo.  First of all, he plays a rebel.  And every girl likes a rebel.  He has a total grudge against the Fire Nation, and rightly so.  The Fire Nation is evil.  Jet does some pseudo-crappy stuff, but it’s all in the name of fighting against the Fire Nation.  Kind of like Robin Hood.  And he’s so suave and charismatic about everything that it’s impossible not to think that everything he’s doing is right.

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Luckily for Zuko, he has a happy ending.  Jet?  Not so much.

Mako (The Legend of Korra)

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From the same world as Avatar: The Last Airbender but 70 years later, we have Mako, a firebender (but not the evil kind like there was before) who’s described as “dark and brooding”.  And there, my friends, are the magic ingredients for crush-worthy animated characters.

Mako also happens to have great hair (as did Zuko and Jet), which is hard to achieve when it’s animated.  Which just goes to show you that these Airbender animators are HAIR MASTERS.

Mako may be dark and brooding, but he’s also a really good guy, and so far has been a pretty good boyfriend to Korra (oops, was that a spoiler?)  He’s the kind of boyfriend you want to take home to your parents AND have a little fun with.  If you know what I mean.

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YES I KNOW HE’S ANIMATED.  I’M NOT TOTALLY CRAZY.

What also helps Mako, as well as Jet and Zuko, is their voice.  And that all comes down to the voice actor.  Mako has a sexy voice (thank you, David Faustino).  And just listening to him talk – whether he’s arguing with Korra or telling her he loves her (SWOON), it just works for him.

Ah.  I love Mako.  And his silly scarf.

Prince Shining Armor (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)

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Okay, I know he’s not even a person.  Like, at least Lion-O was humanISH, right?  But I don’t care.  I love Twilight Sparkle’s older brother, Shining Armor.  Why?  I don’t really know.  Is he cute?  Hard to say, as he’s a pony.  Can ponies be attractive?  Well, let’s see.

Um, yes.  I think he qualifies as attractive.  For a pony.  And he’s in uniform!  A Royal Guard!  Every girl likes a man – er, pony – in uniform, right?  And he’s in love with Princess Cadance.  Which automatically makes him pony hot.

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So it’s okay to think he’s attractive.  Don’t worry.  You won’t be the only one.

Marshall Lee (Adventure Time)

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I can’t talk about animated crushes without mentioning at least one person from Adventure Time, since I pretty much have a crush on the whole damn show.  I’ll always have a soft spot for Finn, but when I first saw Marshall Lee…oh damn.

In the amazing episode “Fionna and Cake”, all of the characters switch genders.  Finn becomes Fionna, Jake becomes Cake, Princess Bubblegum becomes Prince Bubblegum, and so on.  But my favorite gender switch came from my favorite character, Marceline the Vampire Queen, who became Marshall Lee the Vampire King.

Marshall Lee, like Marceline, can sing and play the guitar (sexy).  He’s 18, slim, has black hair, and dresses like a hipster.  And he’s just a little bit evil.

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He’s only been onscreen for about seven minutes, and he’s got more fangirls than Edward Cullen.  I think this vampire has a pretty good future ahead of him.  Even though he’s dead.

So there you have it, my crushes on animated boys with really good hair.  Have you ever found yourself crushing on an animated character?  Or am I the only crazy one?

Posted in Watching Movies

The Awesome 13 – National Film Registry

I love watching documentaries about movies.  Seriously, I could sit and watch film documentaries all damn day long and still want more.  And last night was no exception.   I watched a documentary on Netflix called These Amazing Shadows from 2011 and is about the National Film Registry.  Don’t know what the NFR is?  Well, let me educate you.

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Back in 1986, millionaire and business mogul Ted Turner realized he had no idea what the hell to do with all his money, so he decided to buy all the rights to MGM’s movies.  That meant he could pretty much do what he wanted to them, so he got the bright (re: stupid) idea to start colorizing all the black and white movies.  That meant that classics like Casablanca and It’s a Wonderful Life were now IN COLOR instead of their iconic black and white.  Which looked totally weird.

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Obviously people were completely pissed off about this, and rightly so.  What made Ted Turner think he could do this to these works of art?  QUOTE: “Well, they’re my movies now.  I can do what I want.”  END QUOTE.

Luckily Congress realized they were dealing with a madman, so in 1988 they established the National Film Preservation Act, which does the following:

Prohibits any person from knowingly distributing or exhibiting to the public a film that has been materially altered, or a black and white film that has been colorized and is included in the Registry, unless such films are labeled disclosing specified information.” (Wikipedia)

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THEY’RE TALKING TO YOU, MR. TURNER.

So starting in 1989, the NFR started choosing 25 movies a year for the registry, “films that are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”  As long as the film is ten years old or older, it’s eligible for the registry.  Then the National Film Preservation Board decides amongst all the nominated films and picks the 25 inductees of that year.  I’m sure it’s a long, grueling progress that has spawned many arguments and fights and hair-pulling, but ohmygod that sounds like a fun job.

Anyway, since its inaugural year in 1989, 600 films have been registered with the NFR.  I’ve seen 81 of them, roughly about 14% of them.  That’s not very many.  However, I’m positive that I know people who probably haven’t even seen 5% of those movies, so I’m looking pretty good.

Of course as soon as I figured all this out I quickly decided that I need to see ALL THE MOVIES.  Well, obviously I’d be stupid to think that would happen any time soon.  So let’s just focus on the movies that I HAVE seen.  And while we’re at it, let’s pick the AWESOME 13 OF THE NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY!

(In chronological order because I can’t narrow anything else down because my brain hurts from looking at 600 movies).

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

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Why It’s Important: It was Walt Disney’s very first full-length animated feature film.

Why It’s Awesome:  It’s over 75 years old and it still looks and sounds amazing.  Also, the Evil Queen.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

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Why It’s Important:  It turned Judy Garland into a star and became a cultural phenomenon.

Why It’s Awesome:  The music is timeless, the effects are amazing, and the end makes me cry every time.  Also, Ruby Slippers.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

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Why It’s Important:  It gave Technicolor the chance to show off like never before, and it depicts American life in the Midwest at the turn of the century.

Why It’s Awesome:  Judy Garland has never been better, the songs are fantastic, and the costumes are gorgeous.  Also, all those damn parties.

The Sound of Music (1965)

MPW-6725Why It’s Important:  It’s cinematography at its best, plus classic music and a political message.

Why It’s Awesome:  Because it takes place in Austria where kids sing in the mountains and put on puppet shows.  Also, the gazebo.

The Godfather (1972)

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Why It’s Important:  Most critics agree it’s one of the greatest movies ever made.

Why It’s Awesome:  It’s about gangsters and families and weddings and horse heads and cannoli.  Also, SICILY.

The Exorcist (1973)

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Why It’s Important:  At the time, it was one of the scariest movies anyone had ever seen.

Why It’s Awesome:  It’s still one of the scariest movies people have seen.  Also, that horrifying still-haunts-me-today backwards spider crawl.

Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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Why They’re Important:  They had the most significant impact on film than any other movie in history, and still impacting it today.

Why They’re Awesome:  Do I even have to say?  It’s freaking Star Wars.  Also, Yoda.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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Why It’s Important:  It married two influential filmmakers (Lucas and Spielberg) to create a perfect action film and a cultural icon.

Why It’s Awesome:  John Williams’ score soars, Harrison Ford is HOT (literally and figuratively), and it’s super fun to watch.  Also, snakes.

Halloween (1978)

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Why It’s Important:  It was one of the first “slasher films” ever made, spawning a whole decade of copycats.

Why It’s Awesome:  Michael Myers scares the poo out of me.  Also, DON’T ASSUME HE’S DEAD BECAUSE HE’S NOT.

Back to the Future (1985)

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Why It’s Important:  It remains of the best and most original written movies ever, plus has a huge fan base that continues to this day.

Why It’s Awesome:  After 30+ years I still laugh at almost every line because Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Crispin Glover are SPOT-ON.  Also, 1.21 Gigawatts.

Silence of the Lambs (1991)

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Why It’s Important:  It broke all sorts of rules when it came to women’s roles, not only in film but in the police force, and Anthony Hopkins delivers an amazing performance.

Why It’s Awesome:  You can’t help but like Hannibal Lector even though he’s a serial killer, and the climax of the film is unlike no other.  Also, fava beans.

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

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Why It’s Important:  It was the first animated feature film to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award.

Why It’s Awesome:  Belle is the Best Disney Princess Ever because she’s a book nerd who doesn’t like jocks, and Beast is kinda sexy.  Also, Enchanted Castle.

The Matrix (1999)

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Why It’s Important:  It’s visual effects changed filmmaking forever.

Why It’s Awesome:  It’s mind-blowing to watch and philosophically challenging, and the fight scenes are amazeballs.  Also, Keanu Reeves.

Obviously I’m leaving out a bunch:  Gone With the Wind, West Side Story, Jaws, The Philadelphia Story to name a few, but I’d be writing forever if I included them all.  So go do yourself a favor and SEE THESE MOVIES, if not all 600 of them if you got the time.  It’s just as educational as going to a museum to see priceless works of art…that you can do in your pajamas on your couch.

Posted in Watching Movies

52 Weeks, 52 Movies – FEBRUARY

Another month is drawing to a close, and that means another chance for me to share with you the new movies I’ve watched over the past four weeks.  It was a mixed bag this month, though nothing truly knocked my socks off the way Les Miserables did last month.  In fact, I don’t think I saw anything remotely great…just sort of good…and sort of bad.

Footloose (2011)

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I started the month off with a movie I once swore I would never see solely based on the fact that it was a remake of an already awesome movie, especially one that looked exactly the same as the original.  So I had reeeeeally low expectations going into this one.  But guess what.  I didn’t hate it!  In fact, I think I may have actually liked it a little.  And you wanna know the weird reason why I liked it?  Because it looked exactly the same as the first one.  I’m talking same shots, same dialogue, even some same dance moves.  I think it was because it was so familiar to me already that I enjoyed watching it.  The main guy who plays Ren, Kenny Wormald, whom I had never heard of until this, is a fantastic dancer (much better than Kevin Bacon), and Julianne Hough, while not my favorite person in the world, isn’t completely horrible.  All in all it was rather enjoyable, dance scenes were fun to watch, and I still got to hear the line “Jump back”, which is kinda worth it.

Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam (2010)

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I’m a fan of the first Camp Rock movie, and while I was excited to see its sequel, it took me quite a while to actually sit down and watch it.  I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as the first, and I was right.  It wasn’t horrible – it had its moments, usually when Demi Lovato was singing, but I liked the story of the first one better.  And to be honest, I was rather distracted by the relationship between Demi and Joe Jonas.  Not their relationship on screen, but OFF screen, and knowing what I know now.  All I could think about was how he dumped her and then she started cutting herself and became bulimic.  Of course I don’t know if that was a direct cause, but I kept looking at her wrists for cut marks and would think things like, “I wonder if she made herself throw up after this scene.”  That makes me sound horrible.  I really like Demi Lovato, and I’m sad that she went through such a hard time.  And I don’t like Joe Jonas.  So that whole thing mayhave ruined the viewing of the movie.  But, you know, it was okay.

Abduction (2011)

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I admit, I was slightly curious to see how Taylor Lautner would do in a role that WASN’T Jacob Black.  That’s pretty much the only reason why I watched the movie.  It’s about a high school kid who finds out that he was kidnapped as a little kid, kind of like Stephen Dorff in that awesome Lifetime movie from 1990 Always Remember I Love You, but kind of totally different.  And apparently him knowing that he was abducted is REALLY bad.  So Jacob Black hooks up with Lily “My Eyebrows are Insane” Collins and the two go on the run because the people who kill his fake parents (Lucious Malfoy and the scary Coyote Ugly bar owner) are now after him.  So basically it’s just Jacob Black running with Eyebrows and making out on trains and going to Pirates’ baseball games.  It was entertaining, I guess, if you aren’t distracted by eyebrows and the thought that Jacob Black might turn into a werewolf at any given second.

Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers / Return to Horror High (1988/1987)

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So, I was in the mood to watch really bad horror movies a few weeks ago, and since Netflix is filled with them I had many to choose from.  The first one I watched is a sequel to one I’m pretty sure I saw back in high school, but like the Friday the 13th movies they’re all kind of the same so it’s hard to tell.  Basically the plot is that one of the camp counselors (who is actually the killer from the first movie – they just went through electroshock therapy and got a sex change – FOR REALS) starts killing all of the campers who are “bad”.  It’s pretty obvious from the first few minutes which ones will literally get the ax and which one will be the sole survior.  It was totally horrible, from the dialogue to the acting – painful, even – but I guess that’s what makes them so much to watch.  You can’t take any of it seriously.  Not even when the main character (the Killer) is played by Bruce Springsteen’s sister (I’m serious.  Her name is Pamela Springsteen).

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While the makers of Sleepaway Camp 2 probably knew that they were making a piece of crap, I honestly think the makers of Return to Horror High thought they were making something good.  Which it wasn’t.  The premise:  a group of filmmakers film a horror on set of a high school where a bunch of real-life murders happened.  And of course crazy stuff starts happening on set.  People get killed in all sorts of silly ways.  The end.  You can tell they thought their dialogue was witty (it wasn’t).  You can tell they thought the acting was good (it wasn’t – except for George Clooney, who’s in it for about five minutes and then gets killed off).  It was just bad, but not in the good bad that Sleepaway Camp 2 was…just bad.  But you can tell that Clooney was headed for stardom after that role.  Seriously.  Should have won an Oscar.

Bel Ami (2012)

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This movie may as well have been titled Robert Pattinson Has Sex with Everyone.  I honestly don’t know why I watched this movie – I just happened to come across it on Netflix, and I thought, “Well, I like period pieces”.  So I watched it.  And oh-my-god-it-was-crap.  I don’t even know what it’s about anymore.  All I remember is that Robert Pattinson plays a poor Frenchman (at least I think he’s French) who works his way up to the top of the social hierarchy via his penis.  Yeah, he just has sex with a bunch of women.  And the women keep getting older the further he gets along, from Nymphadora Tonks to Christina Ricci and all the way up to Kristin Scott Thomas, he does them all.  I read somewhere that someone thought this was Robert Pattinson’s best acting to date.  Um…what movie were they watching?  If they were watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, then okay, yeah, I get it.  But…now I’m just confused.  Maybe they were just joking.

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Oh, that’s hilarious.

So here’s hoping that March brings on a much better set of movies.  You know it’s not a good month when a remake of Footloose is the best thing you saw.

Posted in Watching Movies

52 Weeks, 52 Movies – JANUARY

So my first month of watching new movies wasn’t totally exciting, but hey…I saw five new (to me) movies, which means I’m that much closer to my goal.  And even more importantly – they were all good!  Of course I rarely see movies that I hate, so chances are all the movies I watch this year will be good.  Maybe not all great, but at least good.  Enough.

With no further ado, I bring you my five movies of January!

Super 8 (2011)

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Since I’ve been a geeky fan of J.J. Abrams ever since Felicity – yes, FELICITY, people – and even more so after I went to his panel with Joss Whedon at Comic-Con a couple of years ago (name droppin’), I was really excited to see his sci-fi homage to Steven Spielberg (who also produced the movie).  Of course it took me two years to finally see it, but I did.  And I really liked it!  I didn’t love it, as I tend to reserve that word for movies that give me the feels, but it was really fun to watch.  Fun, as in the crazy train wreck that happens in the beginning of the movie.  Also the zombie make-up.  Zombie make-up is cool.

elle-zombie-filmspongeShe’s just playin’.  It’s cool.

Les Miserables (2012)

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Speaking of love, this one kicked me right in the feels.  I knew I was going to like this movie ever since this post, but I didn’t think it was going to turn me into a blubbering mess the way it did.  Good God, I cried like a baby during this movie.  Not just because it’s a depressing movie (it is), but because that’s what some of those songs do to me.  CRY CRY CRY CRY.  That’s what the name of this movie should be called.  That or “Everybody Dies”.  Oh, and Marius?  I know we’ve never had a good relationship, me hating your character and all, and not understanding why exactly Eponine loves you so much, but now I’m pretty sure I want to marry you.  The end.

Les-Miserables-Samantha-Eddie_510x317Yerp….I get it.

Secret of the Wings (2012)

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I know you’re probably thinking, “What?  A kid’s movie?  About Tinker Bell?”  Why yes, it is.  Thanks for noticing.  And since you don’t know it already, Tinker Bell is the SHIZ.  She’s hilarious, for one thing, and she gets mad easily.  Which is something all the Disney princesses are lacking:  temper.  You seriously think Cinderella put up with all that crap without wanting to yell and throw things?  That’s why Tinker Bell is awesome.  And this newest installment in the Tinker Bell series is my favorite (yes, I’ve seen them all).  Why?  Well, it takes place during winter, which we all know is the best month.  And it introduces us to winter fairies (or are they pixies?), Periwinkle and Spike.  It’s all great fun, the animation rocks, and I can watch it with my daughter.  Win win win win win situation.

secret-of-the-wings-winter-fairiesThe New Gang.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2012)

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Tom Cruise is one of those actors who I will always enjoy watching despite whatever is going on in their personal life.  He gets lots of crap for his Scientology background and his tendency to jump on couches, but I honestly don’t care about that stuff.  Why?  Because Tom Cruise is the ultimate MOVIE STAR.  Seriously, look that word up in the dictionary and it’ll probably have a picture of him.  All the Mission Impossible movies are great, but I especially loved this one.  Tom Cruise does what he does best, which is run and hang from precarious heights.  Jeremy Renner (my husband’s not-so-secret man-crush) is also in this movie, and I really hope they make more MI movies with his character because he was kinda awesome, as is Simon Pegg, of course.  And the girl…well honestly I have no idea who the girl is, but she was pretty cool, too…a lot better than what’s-her-face from the first movie.  It’s a perfect Saturday night popcorn movie, and I highly suggest you watch it.  Or Tom Cruise will run all over your face.

Mission_Impossible-Ghost-ProtocolHe likes to climb ridiculously high buildings.

First Position (2012)

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So technically this “movie” is actually a “documentary”, but I’m still totally counting it because it had just as much drama as any other movie out there.  And it was released at Sundance.  It’s about ballet dancers competing in this huge competition that will A) get them noticed, B) get them a scholarship to a prestigious dance school or C) get them a contract to a prestigious dance company.  The documentary focuses on five very different dancers and their journey in preparing for this competition.  It’s stressful and dramatic and emotional, but it’s BALLET DANCING, which means it’s awesome.  Seriously, the crap these dancers put their bodies through on the very slim chance that they’ll actually do this as their career is inspiration for us all.*

*May make you feel like a failure in comparison.

tumblr_mfb4b8j1ZR1qfq4wmo1_500Not sure if leg is even attached to body…

That’s it for the month of January.  What’s in store for February?  Well, there are a couple of past Best Picture winners on Netflix that I have yet to see, plus a certain remake of a classic (of which I’m a little weary, but I’ll probably end up liking anyway).

Happy watching!!

Posted in Watching Movies

52 Weeks, 52 Movies (Give or Take a Few)

Because last year was such a lame year in terms of me seeing new movies, I’ve decided that this year is going to be different.  It has to be different.  Movies are a huge part of who I am, and by not seeing them I am simply losing little pieces of myself and turning into someone who’s not very interesting.

So I’ve decided to take on another task this year:  To watch at least one new movie a week.  That’s it.  Just one.  If I happen to see two, then that’s awesome.  If I see three, that’s freaking extraordinary.  But all I’m asking for is ONE.  It sounds so easy – to someone who probably doesn’t have kids, that is.  Seriously, my kid freaks out if I attempt to watch anything that’s not related to Nickelodeon or Disney.  But Netflix is filled to the brim with movies that I want to see, and if I just make the effort, whether it’s watching them on my iPad or laptop with headphones, I know it can be done.

imagesAnd apparently it’s awesome…?

So my goal for this blog is to right about the new movies I’ve seen at the end of each month, which should be roughly around five movies per post.  Unless of course I become super determined and start watching a new movie every night.  But I won’t get ahead of myself.  I have a kid.  And books to read.  And Doctor Who and Sherlock to watch.  I’ve got priorities, people.

who-series-7-part-2Important priorities.

Of course there will be the days when I find the time to watch a movie and all I want to do is curl up on the couch and watch me some Harry Potter, which is totally acceptable.  Sometimes my mood overrides my brain, thus resulting in “comfort watching” (like “comfort reading” but, you know, with movies).  But I promise I will do my best to explore the unknown.

So what movies did the month of January bring me?  Stay tuned…

Posted in Watching Movies

Birthday Toast Post – Christian Bale

Today marks the 39th birthday of Christian Bale, which is both awesome and crazy at the same time – awesome because it’s Christian Bale, but crazy because he was only 18 when I first took notice of him, which means that both he and I are getting old.

christian-baleHe looks way better than me.

But anyway.

Happy birthday, you dark knight, you.  And to celebrate 39 years of Bale, I’m here to take a look at my favorite Bale performances.  Of course I haven’t seen the entire Bale filmography, as he’s become quite the little busy-body when it comes to making movies, but I can definitely put down a fairly solid TOP TEN BALE PERFORMANCES list.  Complete with exclamation points!! (and possible sarcasm).

10.  The Prestige (2006)

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So even though this movie is about magic – of which I’m totally not a fan – I am a fan of Christian Bale (and Hugh Jackman, who also stars, and Christopher Nolan, who directs), so I decided to see this movie.  And you know what?  Bale + Jackman + Nolan = cool magicians.  Seriously, this movie actually didn’t make me hate magicians the way I usually do.  The story kept you guessing the whole time, with a surprise twist thrown in at the end.  That being said, had Bale not been in this movie, I probably wouldn’t have seen it.  So there.

prestigeI’m totally okay with Bale doing silly coin tricks like this.

9.  Treasure Island (1990)

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Honestly, I’d be surprised if anyone else saw this made-for-TNT adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s  classic novel, as it was out of print for years up until 2011 when it finally came out on DVD.  Somehow I managed to find the VHS way back in the mid-1990s at Suncoast (remember that old store?), but I didn’t watch the movie very often.  Why?  Well, it was quite long and boring in parts.  But it didn’t take away the fact that Bale was “sooooo cute” in the movie (yes, my exact words as a 15-year-old).  And his shirt gets all torn up, revealing his 16-year-old man chest (hey, I was 15.  Shut up).

03Well this is down-right dreamy.

8.  Reign of Fire (2002)

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Also known to fans as “Christian Bale Doesn’t Wear a Shirt For Most of the Movie”.  Or “Christian Bale Sweats For Most of the Movie”.  Or “OMG Christian Bale Does the Best Darth Vader Impression Ever in this Movie”.  Oh yeah, and it’s got dragons.  Bale is a DRAGON SLAYER.  That’s right, I said DRAGON SLAYER, ya’ll.  Top ten indeed.

Reign-of-fire-reign-of-fire-8808363-300-375Why, HELLO there, Sir Slayer.

7.  Henry V (1989)

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So he may only be in the movie for a combined 20 minutes or so, but he definitely made an impression on this young girl when I first saw this movie (probably because I was slightly obsessed with him.  But whatever).  He plays the part of Shakespeare’s famous character “Boy”, and says such wonderful lines like “Good Bardolph, put thy face between his sheets and do the office of a warming pan” and…well…that’s about it.  So he doesn’t say much.  Oh, and he totally dies in the end.  Which is, of course, the most depressing part of the movie because all you’re thinking is, “Wow…I really didn’t see enough of Bale in this, and now he’s gone.  Shakespeare sucks.”*

*Okay, he doesn’t totally suck.  But come on.  Give our favorite boy a name and some decent screen time, for Bardolph’s sake.

Some-images-I-found-of-Henry-V-christian-bale-10860273-402-286Blah blah blah Shakespeare blah blah Bardolph.

6.  American Psycho (2000)

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This was the movie that made everyone look at Christian Bale a little differently.  Like, WOW, this guy can act!  And WOW, this guy is crazy!  But mostly WOW this guy has the hottest bod ever.  Seriously…Mr. Bale put some serious time into that scrawny Welsh body and turned it into perfection.  On a serious note, this movie is not for the faint-hearted or the closed-minded.  Then again, Mr. Bale walks around naked.  So you make the choice. 

AmericanPsycho_GQ_24Apr12_rex_b_642x390Call me maybe…nope, call him crazy.

5.  Batman Begins / The Dark Knight / The Dark Knight Rises (2005 / 2008 / 2012)

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Well, obviously I had to lump all three of these together because they’re all freaking awesome, and, um, did I mention that Bale is BATMAN?  (If you didn’t know that already, you must have been living in a bat cave.  But not THE Bat Cave.  Because no one knows where that is.)  Favorite actor + favorite superhero = OMG THIS SHIZ IS AWESOMESAUCE.  And yes, I just used the word “awesomesauce” in reference to Bale and The Dark Knight Trilogy.  But honestly, these movies are truly amazing, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.  Bale as Bruce Wayne is perfect, and his Batman is a lot more intense than Michael Keaton’s, Val Kilmer’s and George Clooney’s combined.  And you’ll be copying his voice for days (until you see Bane, and then you’ll be copying his voice for days).

christian-bale-batmanThis is just…too…awesome.

4.  Little Women (1994)

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Oh, Laurie.  Laurie, Laurie, Laurie.  Jo was so stupid when she let you go.  Who would have thought that Amy was the smarter March sister?  I never cared much for the boy next door character of Laurie until I saw Bale play him in this movie, and I swear to God it’s not just because it was Bale.  Well yes, it had a lot to do with that fact.  But to use a very movie-critic-sounding word to describe Bale in this movie, it would be that his performance was “delightful”.  I’m serious.  Bale was DELIGHTFUL in this movie.  It’s obvious why the March girls love him so much and let him into their weird little world, and it’s totally NOT obvious why Jo turns down his marriage proposal.  Laurie is FREAKING DELIGHTFUL, Jo, and you just tossed him away like he was a piece of old cheese.  What.  Evs.

850861_1318097144981_fullDELIGHTFUL, dammit.

3.  Swing Kids (1993)

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I was pretty much at the peak of my Bale obsession when this movie came out.  Again, I don’t think too many people saw this movie – Bale and his co-star Robert Sean Leonard weren’t really household names (except at my house where they were Very Important Names), and I guess no one really had an interest in seeing a movie about dancing Nazis.  But I did, of course, and I absolutely drooled while watching Nazi Bale jitterbug his way right into my heart.  His character may be kind of a dick in the movie, but he comes around in the end, so it’s all good.  Swing Heil!

wunderbarThey be dancin’.

2.  Empire of the Sun (1987)

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This was one of the first things Bale had ever done acting-wise, and I’m surprised he wasn’t nominated for a Oscar for this movie.  He was only 13, and he pretty much carried an entire Steven Spielberg movie on his tiny little Welsh shoulders with freakish maturity that is hard to come by in these Beiber-esque times.  He starts out as a bratty, privileged British schoolboy and ends up a hardened prison camp boy, and he’s totally believable the whole time.  And since I was the same age as him in the movie when I first saw this, I can say that I thought he was super cute.  I can’t say that now because it would be, you know, kinda weird.  But I can think it!

MSDEMOF EC016A-Dorbs.

1.  Newsies (1992)

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I know, I know, BIG SURPRISE, right?  But honestly, what is better than Christian Bale in Newsies?  He sings, he dances, he gets in fights, and he looks really good while doing it.  Again, this is one of those movies that if it didn’t star Christian Bale, I wouldn’t be talking about it so much.  Can you imagine the movie WITHOUT Bale?  A ragged army without a leader, I say!  Bale brought charisma to a somewhat mediocre musical, and suddenly everything around him in the movie sparkled.  It may be cheesy, it may be down-right silly, but it will always be awesome.  Thanks to the birthday boy.

1345598872_8-starsbigbreaks-640I’m sexy and I know it.*

*The guy on the right.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Posted in Watching Movies

A Brief History of My Favorite Movie

One question I seem to always ask people I meet is “What’s your favorite movie?”  It’s a good way for me to break the ice, and it also gives me an idea of what kind of person I’m dealing with.  A favorite movie can say a lot about a person.  Sometimes their answer doesn’t surprise me (“Oh, my favorite movie is The Notebook”! exclaimed the wide-eyed, bubbly 16-year-old, or “My favorite movie is Citizen Kane,” said the hipster film student), and sometimes I’m caught completely off-guard (“Oh, my favorite movie is Citizen Kane!” exclaimed the wide-eyed, bubbly 16-year-old, or “My favorite movie is The Notebook,” said the hipster film student).

220px-CitizenkaneStop lying to yourself.

However, when you really think about it, the question “What is your favorite movie?” is a completely ridiculous question.  So ridiculous, in fact, that it could almost be called ridonkulous.  Because of all the awesome movies that we all see in our lifetime, who can honestly pick out the ONE and say, “Yep, that’s it.  MY FAVORITE.”

It’s the Sophie’s Choice of all Sophie’s Choices.

In my 33 years of life thus far, I’ve had many “favorite” movies.  Every time I say such-and-such is my “favorite movie”, another one comes along a few months later to take over that title.  Over the past few years I’ve seen less and less movies, so my so-called current favorite is still probably my favorite, but I’m sure sometime down the road I’ll see the one that’ll knock ol’ Frodo right off that pedestal.

My first official favorite movie was probably The Wizard of Oz way back when I was a tiny kid, as I’m sure it was for a lot of other tiny kids.  I was never scared of the witch or the monkeys (I never understood why other kids were) because I was too much in awe of Dorothy and how awesome she was.  The whole movie was awesome – it still is – and to say it’s not still one of my favorites would be a total lie.

wizardofoz_121003_360Almost 75 years later and still awesome.

I used the term “favorite” extremely loosely when I was a kid, applying it to such movies as Meet Me in St. Louis (because, duh, Judy Garland), Back to the Future (because, duh, Michael J. Fox), and Unconquered (because, duh, um…because…you know…being captured by Indians was totally romantic back then?)

unconqueredYup.  Totally romantic.

Then there was also that period of about a week when Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was my favorite movie.  For reals.  I thought it was the best movie in the world.  And then the week ended and I probably went back to thinking the best movie was Cocktail even though I hadn’t even seen it (because I was ten years old).  All I knew was that it starred Tom Cruise, and Tom Cruise was “the cutest guy in the world”, especially in the commercials for Cocktail.

MCDCOCK EC001DREAMBOAT with a capital T-O-M.

I probably didn’t truly mean the word “favorite” until the summer of 1991 when I saw Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and decided after the opening credits (oh my God THE MUSIC!!!!) that this was indeed the best movie ever made and that nothing in this entire world would ever come close to the awesomeness that was Kevin Costner with a bow and arrow.

I’m serious.  This was probably the first time of my life that a single movie gave me THE FEELS.  I loved it with every fiber of my 12-year-old being.  Did I care that Kevin Costner couldn’t do an English accent to save his life?  Absolutely not.  Did I care that there were no cute guys in the movie except for maybe that Wolf kid who was trying to escape after he stole something of Robin’s?  Hell no.  All I cared about was the fact that Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman were the most heroic guys ever, the music was amazeballs (seriously, guys…Bryan Adams + Michael Kamen = (“Everything I Do) I Do it For You” = SQUEEEEEE), and I suddenly wanted outrageously curly hair just like Maid Marian.

MaidMarianMaryElizabeth MastrantonioRobin used to burn her hair as a child.  And yet she still swoons.

God, I loved that movie.

And then I saw Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Unlike Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which I loved EVERYTHING about, there was only one thing I liked about Terminator 2, and his name was Edward Furlong (read all about it here).  Yes, looking back now I see that the movie is truly awesome and completely revolutionary for its time (Stan Winston and his brilliant liquid metal!), but to a 13-year-old girl who’s in love with a 14-year-old boy with a sk8r boi haircut, well, nothing else matters (see here).

tumblr_ls64cdAPtv1qh9an6o1_500Oh, for CUTE.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day was my new favorite movie!

And then I saw freaking Newsies.

I won’t go on and on about how much Newsies changed my life – you can read all about that in this fine post – but it did manage to dance all over Robin of Locksley’s mullet and kick him back to Sherwood AND melt all that liquid metal into oblivion, thus becoming “MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME”.  It was like a combination of my two previous faves:  take the EVERYTHING about Robin Hood, add in a super cute boy (make that many cute boys), and you get Newsies (sort of).

tumblr_m7ihgssxlu1rz572do8_400Yeah, I pretty much blame him for everything.

For much of 1992, I sort of flip-flopped between Newsies and Terminator 2 as my favorite movie (and Far and Away for a couple of weeks in between because, duh, Irish Tom Cruise).  If you were to ask me at the time what the official word was, I probably would have said T2 only because I owned the movie and got to watch it on a regular basis (and when I say “regular”, I mean “every night”).  Once I was able to actually own Newsies (trust me, back in the day it was pretty much impossible to own movies the way it is today), it quickly moved back to the number one position.

Until I saw The Power of One!

Yes, it’s a very odd movie to declare as a favorite – I’m sure most people out there haven’t even heard of it.  It came out in 1992 and stars Stephen Dorff, who pretty much became my Christian Bale fill-in when I wasn’t watching Newsies.  It takes place in South Africa after the end of WWII and it’s about an English boy who goes to school in Johannesburg and takes up boxing and they talk about Apartheid and…well…to be honest, I don’t really know what the hell it’s about.  All I knew was that there were cute boys in it.

MSDPOOF EC074Cute boys that box.

If you haven’t noticed, cute boys were my main priority when I was a young teen.

My whole The Power of One fetish lasted a few months, then it was back to Newsies, and then it was Swing Kids for a little bit, then Newsies again, and then I sort of stopped keeping track.

When I got into high school I started branching out and watching all sorts of different types of movies, though not seeing one I could truly call my “favorite”.  I just sort of liked everything.  It wasn’t until college when I was suddenly meeting new people when I had to pick a favorite again.  Because when you ask the question, “What’s your favorite movie?” the likely thing is that they’re going to ask you the same thing in return.  By then I had outgrown my T2 and Newsies phases, and I felt kind of weird telling them that movies like Star Wars were among my favorites (I wasn’t comfortable with my geek status back then), so I told everyone my favorite movie was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

gal_ferris_bueller_02Because of reasons.

It wasn’t a total lie.  As far as comedies go, Ferris is definitely at the top (because, duh, “Danke Schoen”).  I held up the whole Ferris front during all four years of college, and even moved out to CA with the intention of telling fellow industry colleagues (because I was totally going to be working in the movie biz, ya’ll) that the John Hughes classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  was my favorite movie of all time.

AND THEN I SAW MOULIN ROUGE!!!!!

Yep, this was it.  This was the one that CHANGED EVERYTHING back in 2001.  Nothing – not Munchkins, outlaws, T-1000s, newsboys, parade floats – NOTHING came close to everything that Moulin Rouge was when I saw it nine times in the theater.  I hadn’t felt that way about any movie ever in my life!  The songs!  The costumes!  The dancing!  EWAN MCGREGOR SINGING ELTON JOHN!  My life was totally complete at that point.  If I never saw another movie again in my life, I would be happy forever.

moulin-rouge-1Life.  Complete.

Well, then I saw this little teeny movie about Hobbits and Elves and Dwarves and Wizards and Orlando Bloom and holy crap Howard Shore’s score and Orlando Bloom and Middle Earth and Galadriel and New Zealand and did I mention Orlando Bloom?

orlando_bloom-2453This guy.

Yeah, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring came along at the end of 2001 and my whole entire world flipped upside down.  I pretty much forgot about every other movie I had seen up until that moment.  SHIZ GOT REAL when I saw Fellowship.  Seeing it 13 times in the theater wasn’t enough.  Waiting for the sequels was the worst torture anyone could throw down upon me.  This movie became not just MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME, but a way of life.  This is what changed everything.

And guess what?  Eleven years later, Fellowship of the Ring is still my favorite movie.  Lots of others have come close:  the two other LOTR movies (obviously).  Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black PearlThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Pan’s LabyrinthInception.  Every Harry Potter movie.  They’ve all made huge impressions on me and made me remember why I love movies so much.  But they’re not Fellowship of the Ring.

the-lord-of-the-rings-the-fellowship-of-the-ring-originalHell to the yes.

And all the movies from my past that were once my favorite movies?  Well, I can still consider them “favorites” of mine.  They’ve all taken a part in shaping who I am today, and I’ll never forget that.  I know I’m not the only one who once declared that Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was the best movie ever made, and I take comfort in that.  And I know I’m not the only one who loved Newsies simply because it had dancing boys in it.

The challenge is still out there to the movie who can usurp it, but until that day comes, my answer to the ridiculous question “What’s your favorite movie?” is still Fellowship of the Ring.

Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, Reading Books, Watching Movies

The Awesome That Happened in 2012

Another year has flown by, and it’s time to take a look back at 2012 and all the awesome stuff that went down.  Books, movies, TV, music…and all the other stuff that gets us by on a daily basis.   I can probably count the number of movies I saw on one hand, but it was a record year for me in terms of number of books read – 97 – even though I came up short in my goal of 100 (I can thank a bout of the flu at the end of the year for that).  I lost touch with a couple of TV shows, but learned to love new ones.  And I came to realize that pop music is still alive and stronger than it has been in over ten years and something to be embraced, not shunned.

one-direction-5Don’t deny it.

So here we go.  My list of the Awesome That Happened in 2012

BOOKS

In between re-reading all the Harry Potter and Betsy-Tacy books this year, I read a good mix of young adult and children’s books (but mostly young adult).  Turns out some of the best paranormal books these days aren’t about vampires or werewolves, but angels, as both my picks for best paranormal books are about angels (yet still completely different from each other in their own awesome ways).  And as someone who is usually underwhelmed by a lot of contemporary young adult, I did come across two that blew me away.

Dystopia still manages to catch my attention despite the fact that a lot of them are starting to sound the same.  My two faves this year broke out of that dystopia box, though, and made things fresh again.  And although young adult fantasy is sometimes hard for me to get into, when I do get into it I usually love it, which is what happened with my fantasy picks.  One made my heart pound, the other completely broke my heart in two.

And finally I started dipping a little bit into historical young adult books, which isn’t a super popular genre but one I believe we’ll be seeing more and more of.  My picks both happened to take place during World War II, and as a result made me even more hungry to learn about the past.

Best YA Contemporary

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Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Runner Up:  Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Best YA Paranormal / Supernatural

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Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Runner Up:  Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Best YA Dystopia

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

Runner Up:  Divergent by Veronica Roth

Best YA Fantasy

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Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Runner Up: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Best YA Historial

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The FitzOsbornes at War by Michelle Cooper

Runner Up:  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

TELEVISION

As the mother of a four-year-old girl, I’m usually stuck watching such shows as Phineas and Ferb, The Backyardigans, and Dora the Explorer (and when I’m lucky, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic).  But every now and then I get to watch one of “my shows”.  Of course this year was different than any other year before since it’s the first time we’re relying solely on streaming television through Netflix and Hulu.  Of course a lot of the shows I used to watch like Castle, The Vampire Diaries, and The Office are still available through those services, but the urge to watch them just isn’t there anymore.

My love/hate relationship with Glee contines.

However, thanks to Netflix and a 45-minute-long panel at Comic-Con, I dove into a show that’s been on since 2005 and watched all seven seasons in the course of just a few months, thus cementing  it as one of the best shows of the year.  It’s a show that will scare you to pieces one minute, have you laughing on the floor the next minute, and then crying your eyes out soon after.  And it’s managed to do that for seven seasons.  The only other show that’s been able to do that for that long is Gilmore Girls.  And a certain sci-fi show.

This sci-fi show premiered waaay back in 1963 and then sort of unofficially ended in the mid-90s.  Then the show had a sort of “reboot” in 2005, starting with Series 1 and still going strong today with the premiere of Series 7 this fall (in Britain a “season” is called a “series”).  This summer I watched all the series with all its “regenerating” characters, and I quickly realized that no sci-fi show since Firefly gives me The Feels the way this one does.

And what can I say about animated shows that hasn’t already been said?  Some of the best shows on TV are animated, yet they get a reputation for being “kids shows”, therefore not getting the respect they deserve.  This year’s best animated show is more than a companion show to Avatar: The Last Airbender.  It’s a beautifully animated and brilliantly written story that conjures up more emotion than any primetime drama you’ll ever watch.  And when I want to laugh, I know all I have to do is watch the show that makes me laugh more than any other show that’s on TV today, and it’s probably the most realistic comedy show since Friends and The Office.

Best Drama Series

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Supernatural

Runner Up:  Downton Abbey

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series

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Doctor Who

Runner Up:  Once Upon a Time

Best Animated Series

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The Legend of Korra

Runner Up:  My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Best Comedy Series

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The New Girl

Runner Up:  Anything I can find on YouTube starring Catherine Tate

MOVIES

Like I said before, it was a pretty pathetic year for movies in terms of actually seeing them, but luckily I do have a few to write about.  One is pretty obvious, since I’ve been waiting for it to come out since 2004, and one was one of Pixar’s best since The Incredibles.  As excited as I was for The Hunger Games, it didn’t come close to the book, although I did find it entertaining to watch.  And even though I loved The Avengers, I chose another masked man as my top action pick for 2012 solely due to the emotional punch it threw at me.  And since most of the movies I watched this year were picked out by my daughter, I decided I should pick my “unofficial favorite” just for the hell of it.  Because at least this one is Disney, and at least the main character is pretty awesome.

Best Sci-fi/Fantasy

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The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey

Best Animated

brave-hd-movie

Brave

Best Action

the-Dark-Knight-Rises-Wallpaper-batman-24171592-1600-1200

The Dark Knight Rises

Best Movie that My Daughter Made Me Watch

Tinkerbell-and-The-Great-Fairy-Rescue-01

Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue

MUSIC

2012 was a fun year for music just because of how much we’re being exposed to so many different kinds at a higher rate than we ever were before.  The three main songs of the year:  “We Are Young” (fun.), “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Gotye), and “Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen) were all huge hits yet all sounded completely different.  Adele continued to ride the high she got from The Grammys, yet we’re all patiently waiting for a follow-up album while still listening to her 21 album.  And another boy band hit the scene in a big way, proving that catchy pop music will never die.

Best Song(s)

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“Love You Like a Love Song” – Selena Gomez and the Scene

“Some Nights” – fun.

“Without You – David Guetta ft. Usher

“Domino” – Jessie J.

“I Won’t Give Up” – Jason Mraz

“Starships” – Nikki Minaj

Best Album(s)

Stronger-album-cover-kelly-clarkson-25141790-1500-1500

Stronger – Kelly Clarkson

Red – Taylor Swift

Some Nights – fun.

Up All Night – One Direction

Unorthodox Jukebox – Bruno Mars

In terms of all things entertainment, 2012 was a pretty good year.  But I expect 2013 to be even better.  I’m going to see more movies (Star Trek!), branch out into different genres of books (romance?), and see if I can find a new TV show to love and obsess over (Sherlock…).  I hope 2012 gave you as much joy as it did me – and I hope 2013 is your best yet.

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Posted in Watching Movies

Birthday Toast Post – Steven Spielberg

If you’ve been living under a rock on E.T.’s home planet for the past 30 years, you may be asking yourself three questions right now:  1) Who is Steven Spielberg?  2) Why are we celebrating his birthday?  and 3) Who the hell is E.T.?

etFYI

Well, let’s see.  Where does one begin when talking about THE GREATEST DIRECTOR OF ALL TIME?  That’s right, I said it.  The Greatest.  Who’s only made some of the best movies of all time.  I got to see him at Comic Con last year and he got one of the longest standing ovations I’ve ever been a part of (outside of Joss Whedon and Harrison Ford).  People love Steven Spielberg because he was such a huge part of their childhood.  He also turned 66 years old yesterday, so it’s only appropriate that we celebrate Mr. Spielberg and some of the work he’s so gratefully bestowed upon us.

So here’s his Top Twelve (because he’s 66, and 6 + 6 = 12, duh…) Movie List in order of Awesomeness. And because I feel like everyone knows these movies so well already, I won’t bore you with synopses or reviews.  I’ll simply sum up each movie in two words or less.  Because I’ve got skillz.

12.  Hook (1991)

hook

Rufio dies.

11. E.T. (1982)

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Reeces Pieces.

10.  Jaws (1975)

JAWS-Poster

Bigger boat.

9.  Poltergeist (1982) – Writer Only

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“They’re here.”

8.  Saving Private Ryan (1998)

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 “Earn this.”

7.  Schindler’s List (1993)

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Red coat.

6.  Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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Melting faces.

5.  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

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“No ticket.”

4.  The Goonies (1985) – Writer Only

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Truffle Shuffle.

3.  Empire of the Sun (1987)

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Christian Bale.

2.  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

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Monkey brains.

1.  Jurassic Park (1993)

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Chaos Theory.

So, I know what you’re thinking.  “Why do you think Temple of Doom is the best Indiana Jones movie?”  Because I love Short Round.  It’s hilarious.  It opens with a song.  And because it’s the one I watched the most as a kid.  Or, “Why is E.T. so far down on the list?”  Because of reasons.  Or, “Why isn’t A.I. on the list?”  Because it’s even more depressing than E.T.  And finally, you may even be thinking, “What is Empire of the Sun?  I’ve never even heard of it.”

If you’re asking that question, I suggest you close this post now and go watch it.  Seriously.  It will change your life.  Well, maybe not totally change it.  But it will give you the feels.  And a 13-year-old Christian Bale is extraordinary in this movie.  That kid destroyed it.  In a good way, of course.  He out-performs every single other actor in that movie.  SO WATCH IT.

Empire-Sun-Chrsitian-Bale_lLe chills.

Finally, you may even be surprised that Jurassic Park is my favorite Steven Spielberg movie of all time.  No joke.  I effing love this movie.  Reasons:  It has a Velociraptor.  It has a theme park.  It has a Brachiosaurus.  It has Jeff Goldblum.  It has a T-Rex.  It has an electric fence.  IT HAS DINOSAURS.  And after almost twenty years, those dinosaurs are still the most realistic dinos I’ve seen on screen, thanks to the genius F/X master Stan Winston.

The-Land-Before-Time-Animated-Adventure-CartoonKidding….

Jurassic_Park_T_Rex_Wallpaper_by_keeperxiiiThis guy.

Spielberg is still a pretty busy guy.  He’s had three movies come out in the past year – The Adventures of Tin-Tin, War Horse, and Lincoln – all which I have yet to see, but plan on doing soon (or as soon as they begin streaming on Netflix).  And he’s showing no signs of slowing down.  I plan on being part of the Spielberg Generation for a long time.

news-graphics-2008-_655878aHappy birthday!

Posted in Catching TV, Listening to Music, Reading Books, Watching Movies

Remember, Remember, Another November

Oy.  November.  I can’t remember the last time a month kicked my ass so much.  For some reason this month felt exhausting, and I’m actually glad it’s coming to an end.  That and the fact that my husband can finally SHAVE OFF THAT DAMN MUSTACHE/BEARD/NIGHTMARE he’s been growing out this month for “Movember”.  I’m seriously counting down the hours to when I can see his silly face again.

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In between dentist appointments and flu shots and getting together with friends, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to sit down and blog.  Things have been busy at work, hence the whole not being able to blog at work thing going on.  And don’t worry, being busy is a good thing.  The other girl in my department was transferred, so it’s just me doing these returns, and it’s keeping me busy for a full eight hours.  So, yes, I can’t blog as much during the day, but at least my days are zipping by fast.  And by the time I get home, I can’t think of anything to blog about.  But since the month is over, let me sum up what I’ve been able to get accomplished.

Ever since I got back into reading YA fiction again at the beginning of the month, I have been reading pretty much non-stop, which is another excuse for my lack of blogging.  I’ve been SCORING at the library when it comes to books I’ve been looking for (except for Kiera Cass’s The Selection, which I’m convinced I’ll never find), and it’s been so much fun.  Here’s a list of the books I’ve read this month alone:

imgharry potter and the half-blood prince2

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince :  This was the last HP book I read before getting back into YA (see my previous post), and I forget how much I loooooove this book.  Honestly, I think it might have edged up in front of Goblet of Fire, which has been my favorite one for ten years.  But I also think that whenever I read Prisoner of Azkaban, so who knows.  Oh hell, they’re all my favorite.

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A Brief History of Montmaray / The FitzOsbornes in Exile / The FitzOsbornes at War: It’s been a long time since I’ve read a complete series of books where I absolutely loved all of them, and loved the final book the best.  But that’s how I felt about the Montmaray Journals trilogy by Michelle Cooper.  Seriously, people…if you want to read good YA literature that’s NOT a paranormal romance or post-apocalyptic thriller, read these books.  Amazing.

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Cinder: This retelling of Cinderella was also fun to read, and I enjoyed the Firefly-inspired world the story was set in.  It didn’t pack the emotional punch that other YA books I’ve read have, but it was still a great story, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

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Bitterblue: The book that came before this one, Graceling, was one of my favorite books of 2011 (or 2010…can’t really remember), and I had Extremely high hopes for this one.  And luckily the author Kristin Cashore didn’t disappoint.  I still think I like Graceling better, but I thoroughly enjoyed all 563 pages in a matter of one weekend.  It also made me realize how much I love fantasy books that sound like they could be actual history, sort of similar to Shannon Hale’s Bayern series.  Highly recommend.

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Under the Never Sky: The more dystopian YA books I read, the less and less they affect me.  I don’t know if it’s because The Hunger Games set such a high standard that no one else can come close to (except for Lauren DeStefano’s Wither and Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, which were both AMAZING), but I find myself feeling almost disappointed when I’m reading dystopia these days  because they’re all starting to sound the same.  But you know what?  I really liked Under the Never Sky.  It didn’t kick me in the gut like The Hunger Games did, but I was intrigued by the world that Veronica Rossi had created.  Now onto the search for the sequel…

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Team Human: I’d heard lots of good things about this book when it first came out, and I was excited to find it at the library.  It didn’t realize that it was a humorous book that sort of made fun of the whole vampire phenomenon, so I wasn’t very emotionally invested in it.  However, it was light and fun and took me just a day to read, so if you need a break from the heavy stuff, it’s a good recommendation.

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I’m currently reading Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, which is the sequel to last year’s Goodreads’ book of the year Divergent, which I loved.  I’m only a quarter of the way through right now, but things are good.  Can’t wait to delve back into it tonight.

Speaking of The Hunger Games, I FINALLY saw the movie a couple of weeks ago.  I liked it – I thought Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect Katniss and Liam Hemsworth was the perfect Gale, though I’m still having issues with the whole Josh Hutcherson as Peeta thing.  Peeta is sort of sacred to me, and I felt something was missing.  But they covered pretty much everything in the movie that was in the book, and it was entertaining, even though it wasn’t the emotional rollercoaster ride that the book gave me.

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Because of all the reading going on, I’ve been lacking on any TV or movie watching.  I’m still on season seven of Supernatural, and I’ve fallen behind on The New Girl, Castle, and Once Upon a Time.  I’ve been watching a lot of my daughter’s shows, though I’ve managed to get her to watch only shows that I enjoy as well.  Thanks to Netflix we can now watch The Moomins for the first time EVER, which is awesomeballs, and I recently checked out season one of The Smurfs from the library, which I could watch all freaking day.

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I’ve also been watching season two of Downton Abbey in preparation for season three, which premieres on January 6 here in the states.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, Downton Abbey is like the world’s best soap opera but with better writing, better acting, better accents, and better clothes.  Of course I just happened to stumble upon a total SPOILER that will happen in season three involving my favorite character, but whatever.  I got over Joss Whedon killing Wash, Tara, and Fred, and I’ll get over this.

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The only show I’ve only been actively keeping up with is Glee (and I use the term “actively” loosely because I keep having to play catch-up), but I’m finding it difficult to get super excited for it the way I used to.  But I’m having issues with this season of Glee, all which will be addressed in a later blog.  It’s just too much to talk about here in this already-too-long blog post.  But you’ve been warned.

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As for music, the Christmas music season finally began on November 23, when I added 765 Christmas songs to my iPod.  It seems like a lot of songs, but when I play my iPod on random at work, I’m lucky if I hear five Christmas songs during the course of eight hours.  I haven’t bought any music in a long time, even falling behind on my Glee songs from iTunes, but I noticed yesterday that the two-disc soundtrack to The Hobbit is now up for pre-order with a release date of December 11.  And you know I’m not going to wait until Christmas to buy that one for myself.

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So November is over, and December is just a few hours away.  Stayed tuned for an End-of-the-Year blog post spectacular (re: year in review) and a final 2012 wrap-up of Hot Tea, Hot Books.  For now…take a breather.  November is over!

Posted in Catching TV, Learning Things, Listening to Music, Watching Movies

My Streaming Life

If you were to tell me ten years ago that in 2012 I wouldn’t have TV, radio, a CD player, or a membership to Blockbuster, I would have thought you were nutso.  How would I watch all my favorite shows?  How would I listen to music?  How would I get my news?  How would I rent movies?

HOW WOULD I BE ABLE TO SURVIVE?

Well, thanks to that wonderful thing we call technology and the interwebs, I can do all that without having to have all the junk.  Now, I know some of this is old news to some of you.  You might be thinking, “Well, duh…I haven’t listened to a CD since I got my iPod eight years ago.”  Or, “What’s Blockbuster?”  And yet some of you might be thinking, “Wait, you don’t have television?  How do you watch TV?”*

*Which of course I’m reminded of the scene in Back to the Future when Marty is having dinner at Lorainne’s house and they ask him if he has a television set and he’s all, “Well, yeah, we have two of them” and the mom is all, “Don’t be silly, nobody has two television sets.”  Haha.  But I digress.

I was inspired to write this blog from a friend and fellow blogger who also wrote about not owning a TV and how she gets by in life.  And thought it may seem like the end of the world, it’s actually quite easy.  Let me explain.

When we moved from California to Minnesota, we were pretty wiped out in terms of money.  We carefully went over what we needed and didn’t need and decided – quite bravely, I might add – that we would forego getting television.  Oh, we have a TV set, just no channels.  We figured that by just continuing our Netflix subscription, we would save over $100 a month.  And friends, let me tell you…it has been pretty awesome.  Netflix has loads of TV shows that we watch, plus loads that we’ve always wanted to watch but never got the chance.

Edwardian awesomeness streaming on Netflix

And here’s what’s even more awesome:  no commercials (take that, politicians!), and most shows in HD on our TV.  And they stay on Netflix for a really long time.  It’s like buying the entire series of a show without having to spend all the money on the DVDs.  The downside, of course, is not being able to see new episodes.  You have to wait a while before new episodes get on Netflix.  But like I said, if there’s that show you’ve wanted to watch but missed when it originally aired, and now you have to catch up on seven seasons (like me and Supernatural), Netflix is the answer.

Finally get to watch you, boys

But what about that show that you just have to see that you can’t wait a year to see on Netflix?  Well, that’s where Hulu Plus comes in.  We just recently decided to suscribe to Hulu (which is $8.99/mo just like Netflix) because they’ve finally partnered up with Apple TV (which we have), which means we can watch Hulu on our TV.  Of course you’re not going to find every show you want on Hulu, but I’ve been lucky with a couple of my shows.  I still can’t watch the show live (but who can these days?), but I can watch shows like Glee, Supernatural, Castle, The New Girl, and Once Upon a Time the day AFTER they’ve aired.  Which, if you have a DVR, is when most people are able to get to their shows anyway.  So it works out.  I still feel like I’m connected to the real world by seeing new episodes of my shows.

Keeping up with the fairy tale

Of course there’s going to be the one show that’s not on Hulu but you have to see.  For me that’s Doctor Who, and the way I solve that problem is iTunes.  Yes, I’m going to have to spend a little money.  But it’s Doctor Who, and I love it, so I’ll pay to buy the season in advance.  It goes into my iTunes, which I can watch on my TV, and new episodes are downloaded the day after they air (technically they download at midnight, so you can stay up and watch them and feel like it’s still the same day).  But I’ll only put money into the shows that I really, really, really want.  Other than that, Netflix and Hulu are pretty damn amazing.

Must…watch…the…Doctor…

I also turn to Netflix and Hulu (well, more so Netflix) for movies.  Netflix has hundreds and hundreds of steaming movies, and I can always find one to match my mood.  We still watch our DVDs and Blu-Rays, of course, because Netlflix doesn’t have any Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc, or any Disney animated movies (which are all we watch when it comes to movies), but everything else is pretty much watched on Netlflix.  Even some that we own on DVD we’ll watch on Netflix because it’s easier (sometimes I get lazy and don’t want to put a DVD in the DVD player), and the picture is better (Netflix=HD, DVD=not HD).

Every day is Thor’s Day on Netflix 

And if for some reason we want to watch a new movie, we don’t have to rent it from Redbox or any other place that rents movies.  We can just rent it from iTunes (for usually around $5 in HD) and watch it until it disappears a few days later.  We don’t usually do this, though, because of our hook-up with someone who rents blu-rays from Netflix (my dad) who lends us the movies when he’s done.  So again, we’re still connected.

But what about music?  We all know that iPods revolutionized the whole music industry ten years ago, sending CDs into oblivion.  I haven’t listened to a CD since I got my new car four years ago that came with an iPod adapter.  I listen to my iPod in the car, at work…pretty much everywhere.  But sometimes I need something new.  I can listen to the radio in my car, but what about when I’m not in a car?  I don’t have a radio at home.  But I do have an iPad, and I can stream music through that.

This should be on everything

We’ve all heard of Pandora Internet Radio, and that’s all well and good, letting us make our own playlists based around one artist (I once caught my husband listening to my Lady Gaga Radio playlist and still make fun of him for it).  But I recently discovered Songza, which is all about the playlist.  They actually create playlists for you based on your mood.  For example, when I got ready for work this morning I went to my Songza app and the first thing it did was say, “It’s Wednesday morning.  What are you in the mood for?”  and then listed playlists called “Waking Up”, “Working Out”, “Reading the Paper”, “Singing in the Shower”, and “Feeling Confident”.  I picked “Waking Up” because, well, that’s what I had just done.  Then after I selected that, it went even further by asking me what genre I wanted: Bright & Happy Pop, Timeless Pick Me Ups, Indie Pop & Rock, Hip Hop & R&B, and Country.  I picked Bright & Happy Pop, and then it listed three different playlists to choose from.  Since it was 4:45 in the morning I didn’t want anything too bright and happy, so the playlist “Soft Pop” was perfect for getting ready.

I find that I like Songza better than Pandora because not only are there no commercials, but I have an unlimited time limit.  With Pandora you can only listen to so many hours per month.  Of course since I’m usually listening to my iPod I’ll never come close to reaching those hours, but Songza is just more fun to play with than Pandora.  So that takes care of my music listening.

This post has become a lot more long-winded than originally planned, but I guess I had a lot of information to share.  Basically what I’m saying is that if you have the right tools (internet, tablet/smartphone) it is very possible to get what you want and stay connected to the world without breaking the bank.  It’s just coming to terms with cutting the cord that’s the hard part.

But it’s 2012.  You can do it.

Posted in Watching Movies

“Old Yeller” Complex

I am not a fan of animal movies.  Not to say I’m not a fan of animals.  I like most animals.  They’re a necessary part of the whole circle of life thing, and pets can do wonders for people’s lives.  I also believe animal cruelty is horrible and should be stopped.  But what about the cruelty towards humans by making us watch movies about animals???

Of course I blame all this on the 1957 Disney classic movie Old Yeller.  I think pretty much every kid in the world (at least in my day) has seen this movie, and I’m sure they’re all scarred deeply by it.  It’s about a boy and his dog, who is also his best friend in the entire world, which should be an automatic cue to us that THE DOG IS GOING TO DIE.*

*I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you that this post is riddled with spoilers.  But I’m doing you a favor, trust me.

The boy (Travis) and his family live in post-Civil War Texas, and they are just about as poor as you can be.  They live on a farm, and they come across Old Yeller when he saves the youngest son (Arliss) from a bear attack.  The boys then keep the dog as their own.

You know, Ma?  He’s my best friend in the entire world!

So everything is fine and dandy on the farm for a while until the family realizes that one of their cows has rabies.  So Travis does what any other boy would do at that time.  Grabs his rifle and shoots the cow dead.*

*This is a SET-UP, by the way, letting us know how skilled Travis is with a gun.  Because, you know, he might have to use it again later on in the movie.

Then that same night a rabid (re: RABIES INFESTED) wolf comes to the farm and starts attacking everything.  Our beloved Old Yeller tries to once again save the day by attacking back and defending his family.  But of course he gets bitten by said wolf.  Uh-oh!

I’m totally fine, I swear!

Worried that Old Yeller may have gotten rabies from the wolf, the family locks up poor Old Yeller to keep an eye on him.  And then when Travis goes out one day to feed him, Old Yeller – with what I’m sure looked like the demons’ eyes from Supernatural – growls and snaps at Travis.  Which, you know, is TOTALLY not what Old Yeller normally does when he’s hungry.  Which can only mean one thing.

HE’S GOT THE RABIES.

What’s a boy to do?  He can’t just let Old Yeller run around all rabid and crazy and killing everything in sight.  Seriously, remember in Pet Sematary when the dad buried his dead son in the Indian burial ground just so he could rise again, and the kid was totally psycho???  THERE ARE ALWAYS CONSEQUENCES WHEN YOU TAMPER WITH THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS.  So when your dog gets rabies, I’m sorry, but you have to kill it.

So that’s what Travis does.  He gets his trusty gun, and he shoots his best friend.

This hurts me more than it hurts you.  

Mind you, THIS IS A KIDS MOVIE.  Whose twisted idea was it to make a movie FOR KIDS about a poor farm kid who has to shoot his dog?  I’m sorry, but the whole “this is Travis’s first step in becoming a man” lesson gets completely lost on me when I’m still shaking in a fetal postition in the corner over the fact that he had to shoot his own freaking dog.

Anyway.  Old Yeller is the sole reason why I hate animal movies.  I should hate Disney, too, since they’re the ones who make most of the animal movies out there, but luckily their princesses outnumber their animals.  And to save you the pain and heartache of discovering the horror on your own, here’s a list of animal movies to avoid at all costs:

Bambi (1942)

Bambi is a cute little deer with cute animal friends like “They Call Me Thumper” Thumper the bunny, and an adorable skunk named Flower.  Then Bambi’s mother is shot by a hunter, and the forest burns down.  The end.

The Fox and the Hound (1981)

It’s like Romeo and Juliet for animals.  Two animals…both alike in dignity…in fair…um…woods…where we lay our scene.  In non-Shakespeare words, it’s a fox and a dog who grow up being friends until someone tells them they can’t be friends anymore because they’re different.  The end.

Marley & Me (2008)

Cute dog brings struggling family back together.  And then the dog dies.  The end.

The Lion King (1994)

Simba (son),  to Mufasa (father):  “We’re pals, right?  And we’ll always be together, right?”  And then Mufasa gets pushed off a cliff run over by a huge stampede down below.  The end.

Turner & Hooch (1989)

Well, GEEZ…when a cop’s partner is a DOG, what the hell do you think is going happen???  The end.

Black Beauty (1994)

Lets’s see…abused horses?  This may have a happyish ending, but the damage has already been done.  The end.

Dumbo (1941)

Circus elephant is nicknamed Dumbo because his ears are abnormally large.  His mom is locked up in a madhouse but still manages to sing a horribly depressing song called “Baby Mine”, which will reduce even the toughest bad-ass to tears.  The end.

The Yearling (1946)

A boy named Jody has a pet deer named Flag.  They’re besties.  When Flag grows up, Jody’s dad tells him he has to shoot Flag – not because it’s been infected with rabies, but because it’s “a nuisance”.  Jody runs away, but his dad shoots Flag anyway.  The end.

Final words:  Don’t watch movies that star animals, because 9 times out of 10, that animal will die a horrible death that will never, ever leave your mind.  You’re much better off watching movies about princesses (unless she owns a beloved pet, in which case you must stay far, far away).

Posted in Watching Movies

Why Remaking “The Goonies” Would Totally Suck

It seems that nowadays Hollywood is all a-twitter with remakes of 80s movies, what with Red Dawn coming out soon, as well as a new Dirty Dancing (which I refuse to see).  And those are just the Patrick Swayze/Jennifer Grey movies that are being remade.  Who knows what else lies in store for us when 2013 comes around.

I’ve written about how good movies shouldn’t get remade before, using Back to the Future as a reference.  Yes, it would be AWFUL if that movie got remade.  But can you imagine what would happen if Hollywood got their hands on another classic?

Can you imagine what would happen if they got their hands on The Goonies??????

Look at how frightened they are!

The Goonies, of course, is one of the best kids movies ever made.  Released in 1985, it starred a young Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, and Josh Brolin, among other awesome kid talents.  Oh, and it was FUNNY.  Seriously, that movie makes me laugh more than any other movie made for kids, starring kids.  And the reason why it was so funny was because Hollywood got away with so much more in the 80s.  Back in the 80s, kids could swear in a PG movie.  If a kid swears in a movie these days, you best be sure that movie gets a PG-13 rating.

We’re all crying, Chunk.

And that’s one of the reasons why remaking The Goonies today would be such a bad idea, on top of the fact that they’d be ruining a classic by remaking it in the first place.  I know that sounds kinda bad – a funny is more funny because kids say bad words – but it’s true.  Admit it – all the parts that make you laugh are when Chunk says “s***”.

Like when this happens.

If they were to remake it today, they could still have the kids swear – but it wouldn’t be PG.  And since they would be aiming the movie towards kids, they’d have to make it PG.  Which means no kids would be swearing.  Which means there would be no penis jokes.  Which means pretty much every line that Corey Feldman, aka “Mouth”, says would have to change.

Cruising the coast, sniffing some lace, downing the brews.

For example, let’s take the scene where Mrs. Walsh asks Mouth to translate everything she says to their new maid, who only speaks Spanish.  She thinks Mouth is telling Rosalita all about the house and the chores she’ll need to do.  Mouth, however, tells Rosalita about where Mr. Walsh hides all his sexual torture devices, how to separate all the drugs (marijuana in the top drawer, cocaine and speed in the second, heroin in the bottom), and if she does a bad job she’ll be locked up with the cockroaches.

That scene probably wouldn’t happen today in a PG kids flick, at least the parts about sexual torture devices and drugs.  But if you tone down the dialogue that scene, it’s not as funny anymore.

Which would make a new Goonies movie utterly crappy.

Another thing that sets The Goonies apart from kids movies today is the way parents were portrayed.  In the 80s parents were usually portrayed as non-existent, perhaps referring to the whole “latch-key kid” syndrome in which both parents worked and kids were left alone that was prevalent in the 80s.  I feel like nowadays movies try to portray parents as being more involved as a way of keeping up with the times.  But the reason why The Goonies worked in 1985 was because the parents had absolutely nothing to do with the story.  These kids went on these adventures by themselves, and the parents were rarely shown.  And that was totally okay!

Nothing personal, but we don’t want to see you until the very end.

But if The Goonies was remade today, they would probably try harder to portray the parents as caring adults who are worried that their kids are gone all day.  They would be shown calling them on their iPhones, making sure they’re okay, scared to death that some scary Italian mobsters are trying to kill them…and suddenly the parents are a part of the plot of the story, which would take the story away from the kids.  And that would be NO FUN AT ALL.

Hollywood’s usual argument for remaking movies is the upgrade in technology.  “But we can make the effects look so much better!”  And while that may be true, I think we all know that better effects don’t make the remake any better.  George Lucas did it with Star Wars, yet most people (the purists) prefer the old style of effects.  The Goonies, however, wasn’t about effects.  The effects that it did have were the “real” effects that made the Indiana Jones movies so great – it wasn’t about CGI, it was about smoke and mirrors.  So do redo The Goonies and use CGI would not only make it lame, but it would make it unbelieveable.  We believed all the effects in the movie because they were all organic.

100% Pirate, 100% Real

Now I know you must be thinking, “Come on, they’re really not going to remake The Goonies, are they?”  Well, as of right now…it doesn’t really look like it.  For a while there was a talk of making a sequel that would star the same cast as the original.  And that probably would have been pretty cool.   But despite the fact that Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner (the ones behind the original) were pushing for it, the plans fell through.  And because of that, there was talk that they would just remake the first one instead.

Not gonna happen.

That was in 2010, and I haven’t heard anything since then.  Which is a good sign.  Apparently they’re too busy going through the Swayze/Grey songbook to worry about pirate ships and buried treasure right now.

But don’t be surprised if it does eventually, even if it does go straight to video.  And when that day happens, don’t be surprised if a tiny piece of your soul leaves you, never to return.

Posted in Teenage Obsession, Watching Movies

Teenage Obsession: School Ties

As I was thinking about what to write about today, I realized I hadn’t done a post for my Teenage Obsession series in a long time.  I also realized – after searching the internet for “things that happened on this date in history” – that a certain movie I was obsessed with in my – ahem – later teenaged years (we’re talking borderline 20s, people) opened in theaters on this day back in 1992.

As you may remember, 1992 was a big year for movies to obsess over.  However, I didn’t realize the awesomeness of this particular September 18, 1992 flick until about 5 years later. Suddenly School Ties was reborn, and for about a month of my college life it was the BEST MOVIE EVER.

I know what you’re thinking.  Why School Ties?  Isn’t it just a movie about boys who play football at a prep school during the 1950s?  Well, yes.  It is.  But is also SO MUCH MORE.

So.  Much.  More.

Why did it take me so long to realize the true power of School Ties?  Well, I can put all that blame on Matt Damon.  I saw this little, relatively unknown movie back in February of 1998 (yes, I remember, whatever) called Good Will Hunting and it made somewhat of an impression on me (re:  I became Damon-obsessed).

I suddenly had to see every freaking thing Matt Damon had been in up to that point, including the uber-boring Geronimo (which I don’t remember at all), but when you’re a superfan of someone, you don’t cut corners.  You go all the way.

Even if he has unbecoming facial hair.

I had seen School Ties before all this, but of course I had to see it again now that I had different eyes (re: Damon-obsessed eyes).  I also had even more reason to see this movie again because not only was Matt Damon in it, but so was Ben Affleck and Cole Hauser, two Good Will Hunting alums that were also real-life friends with Mr. Damon.  Because, you know, any friend of Matt Damon is almost as equally important as The Man himself.

NOT the cast of School Ties.

So I rented School Ties.  And after about 20 minutes into it I decided that this may be one of the most awesome movies ever made.  Let’s discuss the reasons why.

First off, let’s talk about the cast.  You already know that Matt besties Ben Affleck and Cole Hauser are in the movie, and that’s all fine and dandy.  But it also has some other greats of our time.  The Encino Man himself Brendan Fraser, for example, in his first dramatic role.  Fraser plays David Greene, the ringer recruited from Podunk High School to be the new quarterback.  The kicker (PUN INTENDED)?  David is a Jew!  Not a big deal now, of course, but back in 1955?  He may as well have been a Nazi.

Shaking hands with the enemy!

Wait.  That didn’t…um, well…you know what I mean.  David being Jewish in 1955 was a Very Bad Thing.

Which brings me to another reason why this movie is awesome.  And yes, it’s regarding Matt Damon.  We all know and love Matt for all the awesome characters he’s played over the years.  Will Hunting.  Jason Bourne.  Tom Ripley.  Private Ryan.  Charlie Dillon.

Do not be fooled by Toothpaste Face.

Charlie Dillon?  Yes, that’s right.  Matt’s character from School Ties is hilariously awesome.  He plays the privileged, Harvard-bound quarterback (whoops, ex-quarterback now that Greene is around) who’s pretty much hated David from the get-go.  He acts like he’s cool with suddenly being second-best to David – he even told David how much he envied him – but we all know he’s dying inside.  If only he had something against David that would make everyone else hate him, too…*

*Cue turning point in movie.

Charlie’s wish is suddenly granted when he overhears alums at a party talking about David and how another school “wouldn’t accept a Jew”.  Well, you can imagine how happy this made Charlie.  He didn’t even waste a breath in telling the other guys about it, too, in what would become the GREATEST SCENE OF ALL TIME.

Well, maybe not of all time.  But definitely in the movie.

The shower scene.  In which we see naked prep school boy butts.

Edited for content

Anyway, naked butts aside, it’s a pretty intense scene because Charlie outs David in the only way he knows how – like a total prick.  Because that’s what Charlie Dillon is.  A prick who’s so scared of not being the best that he has to make the people around him feel like crap.

“True story, last weekend there was a religious revival at Madison Square Garden. Bishop Fulton Sheen made such a stirring speech that 10,000 people converted to Catholicism. Then Billy Graham got up and did some inspired preaching and 10,000 people converted to Protestantism, then to close the program, Pat Boone got up and sang “There’s A Gold Mine In The Sky” and 20,000 Jews joined the Air Force!”

Oh, yes.  Charlie Dillon is an asshole.

And Matt Damon plays him beautifully.

Despite the fact that it’s a movie about boys at an all-boys school, there is a girl in it as the love interest of David, Sally Wheeler (played annoyingly by Amy Locane).  Well, she was sort of Charlie’s Waspy girlfriend before David came around, but as she explained to David she was never really Charlie’s girl…they just grew up together and always got thrown with each other.  But she makes it quite obvious that she’s way into David, which of course makes Charlie hate the world even more.

“I have a confession to make, I think about you more then I ought too.”

That is…until Sally finds out that she’s thinking about a Jew!

and it just hit the fan.

At this point pretty much everyone is against David, going as far as pretending to sneeze as they say, “A-Jew!”  Even good ol’ Chris O’ Donnell, who plays his roommate, turns into kind of a dick.   He tries to stay on David’s side, but even he is a little weary of the fact that David lied to him about being a Jew.

David Green:  “You never told me what religion you are.” 
Chris Reese:  “I’m a Methodist.” 
David Green:  “A Methodist. And all this time I didn’t know it.”

Which always pissed me off about this movie, by the way.  Everyone’s going around telling David that he lied about being a Jew, but…when the hell did they ask him?  It’s not like they said, “Hey, Greene, are you Jewish?” and David responded with, “Nope!”  That would have been a lie.  Instead David simply chose the whole “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” method and kept his mouth shut.  So there was no lying.  I kept waiting for David to defend himself on that but he never did.  Still slightly annoyed by that.  But I digress.

Though he could have totally kicked O’Donnell’s ass.

The penultimate moment leading up to the climax is when David sees Charlie cheating on a test.  We also see another guy notice Charlie cheating, but David doesn’t know this.  What is a now-hated Jewish boy supposed to do?  He can’t tell on Charlie because he knows no one will believe him after “lying” to them about his religion.  But someone needs to speak up or else they’ll all get punished and probably lose whatever chance they had at attending an Ivy League school.  So what does David do?

He decides to confess that he was the one who cheated.

Deliberation.

Of course as I’m watching this I’m all, “Why would you do that?  Screw them all!  They’re all assholes who deserve the punishment for the hell they’ve put you through!  Like you said, they’re all COWARDS!!!!!!!”

“I’ll honor your traditions.  I’ll go to the Dean and I will lie.”

Luckily right as he’s about to confess, the other guy who saw Charlie cheat (played by the uber-sexy Randall Batinkoff) steps up and admits what he saw.  So David gets off (well, sort of…he’s still punished for not reporting it right away), Charlie gets in trouble (and probably has to go to a state university, heaven forbid), and everyone else lives happily ever after.

Charlie Dillon:  “You know something? I’m still gonna get into Harvard. And in 10 years no one will remember any of this. But you’ll still be a goddamn Jew.” 
David Green:  “And you’ll still be a prick.”

GUILTY.

Because school administration doesn’t want to look like the bad guy, they try to make David feel better.  Maybe they can all just forget this whole thing ever happened.  But how does David respond?  LIKE A TRUE HERO.

“You’re never going to forget this happened. You used me for football, now I’ll use you to get into Harvard.”

Oh, SNAP!  Joke’s on you, St. Matthew’s!

I watched this movie every night during my month-long winter break my freshman year of college.  I watched it to the point where I knew every single sound that came from the movie.  And then when winter break ended, so did my endless viewing of School Ties.  I watched it occasionally, but I began to collect more Matt Damon movies, thus giving me different Damon viewing material.

Like movies involving rain.

To be honest, it’s been years since I’ve watched School Ties, though I did put it in to have on while I type this post.  I still think it’s a good movie, and…um…hold on…I…um…

…naked butts.  Gotta go.

Posted in Watching Movies

Little Relics of Movie History

I’m not one you would call a pack rat.  I collect some things, but I definitely know when to throw things out.  However, there are certain things I do like to save because, well, I just do.  I guess to me they’re like little bookmarks in my life – a date stamp of certain events that mean just a little bit to me.  To the average person these things are meaningless, and most people just throw them away afterwards.

So, what am I talking about?

Movie stubs, people.  I save movie stubs.          

The collection I have now goes back to when I first moved out to California eleven years ago.  I used to save them when I was younger, going back to around 1992 when I first actively started attending movies.  But unfortunately that collection disappeared, most likely into a trash can when I wasn’t looking.

But I started saving them again eleven years, and still have most of them today.  It’s fun to look at them every now and then to see if I still remember going to see that particular movie.  And movie stubs are awesome because not only do they say the name of the movie, but they have the date, the time, and the theater at which you saw it.  For example, I have a collection of tickets from the 13 times I saw The Fellowship of the Ring in the theater (I know, craziness), and most of them are from different theaters, which makes all those times easier to keep track of.  (The picture to the right is of random midnight showings).

The oldest one I have goes back July 11, 2001 when I saw Final Fantasy at General Cinema in Sherman Oaks, CA.  I saw it with future hubby and one of his friends, and to be honest I don’t remember any of the movie because it held no interest for me (I didn’t pick the movie, needless to say).  But I do remember going to the movie, thanks to the info on the stub.

I have a handful of tickets from the numerous times I saw Moulin Rouge in 2001, ranging from seeing it in first-run theaters to multiple times in a ghetto second-run in Northridge, CA, each time with future hubby.  I remember those times really well because the sound on the theater’s copy of Moulin Rouge was really crappy for the first 20 minutes of the movie (but luckily went back to normal just in time for Ewan McGregor to sing “Your Song”).

I don’t keep my Fellowship of the Ring tickets with me because – and yes, this is really nerdy of me – I have them all framed as a collage.  I had an extra 5×7 frame lying around and I got the idea for the FOTR collage – all 13 tickets – and it actually looks kind of cool.  But I have my tickets from the times we saw The Two Towers and Return of the King, even though by that time we didn’t have the free time to go see them 13 times like we had previously with the first one.

I saw all the Harry Potter movies in the theater, of course, but for some reason I don’t have all the tickets.  I only have my ticket from Sorcerer’s Stone (November 19, 2001), Chamber of Secrets (November 15, 2002), Half-Blood Prince (July 16, 2009), and Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 and 2 (November 19, 2010 and July 15, 2011).  Which actually upsets me a lot.  Which means I’m totally going to go searching for them once I finish this post.

Missing:  Three stubs.  Reward to follow.

I know I’m not the only one who does this. If you Google “movie stubs”, you’ll come up with a bunch of sites of people who’ve turned all their stubs into collages and what-not.  And  AMC Theaters has a program where you can save your virtual stubs that go towards some kind of rewards program, like getting free upgrades on snacks (screw the diet and turn that small popcorn into a medium!)  But it costs $12 a year, and you have to go to a lot of movies for it to be worth anything.

I like the old fashioned way.  And maybe someday I’ll put them all in some sort of scrapbook, the way I did with all the old movie ads I used to find in newspapers (which is still in the basement of my parent’s house).  And since the most recent movie stub I have is from the 3-D re-release of Beauty and the Beast back on January 27, 2012, maybe I should go see some more movies.

Happy movie-going!

Posted in Watching Movies

One Does Not Simply Hate “The Princess Bride”

The conversation started off innocently enough.  It was lunchtime, and I was searching the internet for random quotes from The Princess Bride.  Because, you know, one of the best movies ever, right?

Well, not according to some.

I had found a website devoted to The Princess Bride quotes when suddenly my co-worker leans over and says, “Ugh.  I hate The Princess Bride.”

Silence.

It took a few moments to digest what she said.  I heard the words “hate” and “Princess Bride”, and I was trying to figure out how they went together.  Because in the world I live in, you don’t hate The Princess Bride.  I mean, what could you possibly hate?  It has Princess Buttercup and The Dread Pirate Roberts and Andre the Giant and The Six-Fingered Man and Miracle Max and ROUS and shrieking eels and Fred Savage and My Dear Sweet Westley and I’m-Not-A-Witch-I’m-Your-Wife and OH MY GOD NO ONE HATES THE PRINCESS BRIDE!!!! 

NO ONE!!!

Seriously, it was like I was trying to translate Elvish.  Except that the Elvish language is cool, and hating The Princess Bride clearly is not.

When I finally realized what she was telling me, it took all my strength to not fall onto the floor.  I held on tight to the table.  I calmly asked her to repeat what she said.  Maybe I heard her wrong.  But, alas…no.  I had met someone who hates The Princess Bride.  Maybe the Mayans were right after all.

It felt as though I was watching an episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  And I was leaning towards the “NOT” side.  I had met people who had never seen the movie before which, although a small disgrace, is somewhat believable.  But to meet someone who actually hates the movie?

INCONCEIVABLE!!!!!

My first question to her after the whole “Um….what?  Huh?  Um…repeat that?” episode was, of course, “WHY?”  Because I figure if you’re going to hate a movie like The Princess Bride, you’ve got to have a pretty damn good explanation.  Her reasoning behind this madness, however, was the fact that as a child she was forced to watch the movie with her mom over and over again.  So really, it’s probably not the movie itself she hates; it’s the fact that it was something of which she had no control.  It’s probably somewhat equivalent to my hatred towards One Magic Christmas.  Forced to watch it as a kid, hate it now.  But I say “somewhat” because one does simply not compare One Magic Christmas to The Princess Bride.  My co-worker’s declaration of hate does not hold up.

Oh, the horror.

After I cleared my head of this blasphemy, I got to thinking about movies that I hate.  And to be honest – excluding One Magic Christmas – I don’t think I actually hate any movies.  Yes, there are movies that I probably don’t want to see ever again.  Drive Me Crazy, starring Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the Entourage guy with puffy hair is totally stupid – and not in the “so-stupid-it’s-good” sort of way.  The Bachelor starring Chris O’Donnell and Renee Zellwegger is a train wreck, but I don’t think I would go so far as to say that I actually hate it.  And The Man on the Moon – not the wonderfully depressing movie about young love starring Reese Witherspoon, but the horribly depressing one about Andy Kaufman starring Jim Carrey – is like two hours of torture, but I probably don’t hate it.

Bad, but not hateable.

Hate, when it comes to movies, is a mighty strong word.  The definition of hate according to Dictionary.com is “to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward.”  Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t think a movie has ever made me feel that way.

Not even Old Yeller.

AND CERTAINLY NOT THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

I think he agrees.

If I were to give my co-worker some advice, it would be to try watching the movie again WITH A CLEAR MIND.  Don’t think about how many times you had to watch this with your mom when you were a kid.  Don’t think about how uncool it would be to have the same taste in movies as your mom.  Watch this movie as though you were watching it for the very first time.  Revel in the joys of the dialogue, the swashbuckling, the romance.  Laugh.  Cry.  Cheer.  Whatever.  Just don’t say you hate the movie.  I may have let you off easy this time.  Next time you may not be so lucky.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to listen to my own advice and watch One Magic Christmas again.  Because one does simply not compare One Magic Christmas to The Princess Bride.

The end.

Posted in The Awesome 13, Watching Movies

The Awesome 13 – Star Wars

It suddenly came to me today that after over a year of blogging about things that I love, I’ve never really talked much about Star Wars except for the times I’ve written about film scores.  So in honor of the second greatest movie trilogy of all time, I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s Awesome 13 list to Star Wars and its 13 awesome moments.

13.  Escape From the Sarlaac (Return of the Jedi)

After Jabba the Hut’s little party gets crashed by Luke Skywalker and company in attempts to rescue the carbonite-frozen Han Solo, Luke and Han are sentenced to execution by way of Sarlaac, which is a horrible way to die because basically you’re dropped into a hole deep in the hot desert of Tatooine only to be eaten and digested by a huge mouth lined with several rows of sharp teeth.  As a kid I was terrified of the Sarlaac, which probably had more to do with my fear of falling than the actual monster itself.  But it’s a fun scene to watch now – hearing Lando’s hilarious scream as he falls towards the mouth before he’s rescued, watching Boba Fett’s unfortunate demise, and the exciting conclusion of Luke and Han breaking free and destroying Jabba’s sail barge right before Leia makes her own escape after strangling Jabba with the chain from which she was captured.  Good times.

Luke:  “I was born here, you know.”
Han Solo:  “You’re gonna die here, you know.  Convenient.”

12.  The Real Anakin Skywalker (Return of the Jedi)

All this time we’ve grown to hate Darth Vader.  He may be Luke’s father, but he’s Pure Evil.  We’ll never root for him, right?  Well, that all sort of changes in Return of the Jedi when Vader sees his son almost die at the hands of The Emperor, who’s far more evil than Vader will ever be.  He saves his son, giving his own life in the process, and as he lay dying on the ground in his son’s arms, we see the real face of not Darth Vader, but Anakin Skywalker.  We get a small glimpse into who Anakin really was before he became more machine than man, and even though 16 years later we get to see the evolution of Anakin Skywalker, we cherish this moment between Luke and his father, the father he never knew, the man he could finally forgive.

Anakin:  “Tell your sister…you were right.”

11.  Leia Meets Wicket (Return of the Jedi)

Hate on the Ewoks all you want, but I like ‘em.  They’re cute, they’re fuzzy, and they will attack you if you piss them off.  The cutest of all, of course, is our Ewok hero Wicket, who Princess Leia meets after her disastrous speeder bike ride.  She’s curious about him, and he’s definitely weary of her, even when she tries to offer him food.  I admit, I’m a sucker for this scene because it’s just plain cute and silly.  We know he’s not dangerous, even though he’s holding some sort of spear, and we just want him and Leia to be friends so we can continue to watch him be cute.

Princess Leia:  “You’re a jittery little thing, aren’t you?”

10.  Ewok Celebration (Return of the Jedi)

Speaking of Ewoks, they throw the best parties.  Again, people like to hate on the furry guys, but admit it…you love the end scene of Return of the Jedi.  In the original release of the movie, we get an awesome song called “Ewok Celebration”, originally titled “Yub Nub”, which means “Freedom” in Ewokese (betcha didn’t know that!).  The song is utter nonsense, but it’s hilariously fun.  We also get to see Luke’s vision of the spirits of Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda watching over him.  In the original, the actor playing Anakin is the same guy we see in the aforementioned scene when Vader dies.  In the re-release of the movie post-prequels, the spirit of Anakin is suddenly played by Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin in the prequels.  Now I know some people (husband and brother) who are completely offended by this change.  Me?  Not so much.  I honestly don’t mind it at all.  But whatever.  It’s a fun way to end the trilogy, crazy Ewok song and all.

9.  Introducing Han Solo (A New Hope)

Since Han Solo seems to be everyone’s favorite character, we can’t deny that his intro in the first movie is pretty memorable.  I’m not sure if it was memorable when the movie first came out, but we love it now despite the fact that we’ve seen his intro about 500 times now.  We meet Han when Luke and Obi-Wan are looking to hitch a ride out of Tatooine.  Han’s got the rep and the ship to do it (even though Luke thinks the Millennium Falcon looks like a piece of junk).  But the price has to be right, and the three of them manage to strike a deal that pleases all.  Right away we know that Han isn’t a good guy (he did, of course, SHOOT FIRST), but we love him anyway.

Han Solo:  “Han Solo. I’m captain of the Millennium Falcon. Chewie here tells me you’re lookin’ for passage to the Alderaan system?” 
Obi-Wan:  “Yes indeed, if it’s a fast ship.” 
Han Solo:  “Fast ship? You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon?”

8.  Rescuing the Princess (A New Hope)

As a kid, and like all other nerdy girls from the mid-80s, I loved Princess Leia.  She remains to this day one of my favorite female characters of all time.  Strong, feisty, and not clumsy at all (take note, young adult fiction writers), she’s everything a Princess should be.  After being taken prisoner by Governer Tarkin, she’s rescued by Luke, who’s disguised as a Stormtrooper.  And then comes one of my favorite dialogue exchanges in the movie…

Leia:  “Aren’t you a little short to be a Stormtrooper?”
Luke:  “What?  Oh…”  (takes off helmet)  “I’m Luke Skywalker.  I’m here to rescue you.”

And, okay.  I know that I love Leia because she’s strong and independent woman who doesn’t need the help of some farm boy from Tatooine.  But I can’t help but swoon every time.  Even though he’s really her brother.  *shudder*

7.  A Moment With Han and Leia (The Empire Strikes Back)

At the beginning of the second movie (and hands-down the best of the bunch), we see what it’s like when Han and Leia spend quality time with each other on the ice planet Hoth.  We know from the first movie that even though they don’t get along, these two peeps have got it bad for each other.  They’re just too proud to stubborn to admit it.  So what do we get instead?  Banter.  Lovely, lovely banter between the Nerf Herder and the Princess.

Princess Leia:  “Let go.”  
Han Solo:  “Shh.” 
Princess Leia:  “Let go, please.” 
Han Solo:  “Don’t get excited.” 
Princess Leia:  “Captain, being held by you isn’t quite enough to get me excited.” 
Han Solo:  “Sorry sweetheart. I haven’t got time for anything else.”

For some reason we all love a good love/hate relationship between two characters, and this one is one of the best.  It’s a realistic scene that humanizes two people amidst a sci-fi/fantasy story, in a galaxy far, far away, and we can’t get enough.

6.  Time on Dagobah (The Empire Strikes Back)

One of the reasons why I love The Empire Strikes Back so much is because of Yoda.  Some of my favorite scenes take place during Luke’s time on the planet Dagobah where he meets Yoda and trains to become a Jedi.  First off, I love the look of the planet.  Wet, swampy, humid…nothing like the dry desert of Tatooine.  And Yoda is, for lack of a better word, awesome.  He’s come to Dagobah to live in exile after failing to defeat Darth Sidious, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any mojo left in him.  He teaches Luke the way of the Jedi, and also rides on his back and steals Luke’s weird hot-dog-looking food when he’s not looking.  Yoda’s a feisty, grumpy old man who’s determined to turn Luke into a Jedi, and I love him for it.

Luke:  “I want my lamp back.  I’m gonna need it to get out of this slimy mudhole.”
Yoda:  “Slimy?  Mudhole?  My home this is!”

5.  Destruction of the Death Star (A New Hope)

In what is probably the most exciting and anticipated scenes in the first movie, we get to see Luke transform from innocent, whiny farm boy to a X-Wing flying prodigy.  I’m sure no one thought that Luke was going to be the one to save the galaxy by shooting a ball of fire into an exhaust port two meters wide, but with the help of The Force, he does it.  The whole scene is a blast (no pun?) to watch, from the roll call (“Red Five standing by.”) to the trench run to the final explosion, which looks cool whether you’re watching the originals or re-releases.  It’s one of those can’t-help-but-cheer moments…especially when Han Solo and his Millennium Falcon come and save the day (re: save Luke’s ass).

Han:  “You’re all clear, kid!  Now let’s blow this thing and go home.”

4.  Vader’s Confession (The Empire Strikes Back)

This is the most famous scene in all three movies, and it’s the most important and pivotal as well.  Up to this point – if we’re watching it for the first time, that is – we don’t know much about Darth Vader except that he’s a pretty evil guy.  But when it comes out that he’s actually Luke’s father (spoilers?) – the one person whom Luke hates most in the galaxy – well, let’s just say that everyone’s jaw hit the floor.  DARTH VADER IS LUKE’S FATHER!!!!  Yep, it’s pretty huge.  And even though Luke makes some pretty weird-looking faces during the scene, it’s powerful and intense and never holds back.

Darth Vader:  “Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.” 
Luke:  “He told me enough! He told me you killed him!” 
Darth Vader:  “No.  I am your father.” 
Luke:  “No. No. That’s not true. That’s impossible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

3.  “I Know.” (The Empire Strikes Back)

Two words.  Two words are all it took for us to realize how Leia and Han felt about each other.  No need for any grand declaration of love, no balcony speech, no sappy love song.  Just a simple “I know.”  And really, can you imagine any other response from Han?  Granted he didn’t have much time, what with the whole being lowered into molten-hot carbonite, but still.  Simplicity is best.

Leia:  “I love you.”
Han:  “I know.”

2.  The Throne Room (A New Hope)

Star Wars is filled with memorable images, but the one that stands out in my mind as my favorite is the final scene in the first movie.  The Death Star has been destroyed, and now Luke and Han are being rewarded for it (but not Chewie, poor wookie).  The scene itself is awesome.  The actual Throne Room is a long, rectangular hall with a long walkway that Luke and Han walk up to receive their reward from Princess Leia.  Luke is wearing a sweet-looking mustard-colored 70s jacket.  Han has a permanent smirk on his face.  And Leia is looking at the two of them like they’re silly, little boys.  There’s no dialogue, only music – a majestic march that only John Williams could think up, which provides the perfect ending for an awesome movie.

1.  The Opening Crawl (All Three)

Okay, admit it.  You get all giddy like a little kid when you see the opening crawl at the beginning of each movie.  Your heart jumps when “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” appears on the screen, and then…WORDS!!!!!!  A bunch of words slowly moving up the screen.  It’s a odd way to begin a movie, that’s for sure.  But it just makes sense. If a Star Wars movie didn’t have that opening crawl, then it just wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie.  Who knew that reading background info about rebel alliances and empires could be so exciting?

Posted in Listening to Music, The Awesome 13, Watching Movies

The Awesome 13 – Film Scores

About a year ago I wrote a post about some of my favorite film scores and why I’m such a film score geek.  I talked about some great ones from such composers as John Williams and Howard Shore, but I didn’t have the guts to actually rate them and narrow them down to a #1 winner.

Well, I think it’s about time I do just that.

This was a difficult list to make.  Not the rating, but the leaving out of so many awesome scores that didn’t make the cut.  For example, John Williams has scored about fifty-thousand movies (give or take a few thousand), but I couldn’t have a list with just John Williams scores.  He appears on this list twice (Patrick Doyle, however, appears on the list three times).

So here it is…The Awesome 13…Film Scores.

13.  How to Train Your Dragon (2010) – John Powell

This is the most recent film score to appear on this list, and also the most surprising.  I didn’t know much about this movie when it came out two years ago, except for the fact that it was based on a children’s book of the same title.  It looked cute, but I just thought it was just another animated kid’s movie that I probably wouldn’t see.  But I began to hear some positive buzz about it.  And then amongst all that buzz, it got itself an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score.  Well, this definitely got my attention, since that’s my favorite category at the Oscars.  So I went on Amazon and bought the soundtrack to see what was so great about it.  And you know what?  It’s awesome!  If you like powerful orchestral works that soar with a touch of Celtic, this is a great score to listen to.  Never slow, always beautiful and exciting.

Try These Three:   

  1. “See You Tomorrow”
  2. “Test Drive”
  3. “Romantic Flight”

12.  Sherlock Holmes (2009) – Hans Zimmer

The score for Guy Ritchie’s film Sherlock Holmes remains to be one of the most inventive and original musical scores I have ever heard.  Using a banjo, cimbalom, squeaky violins, a broken pub piano, this mish-mash of odd instruments matches perfectly with the quirkiness of the movie.  It’s such a fun score to listen to because you never know what’s going to come next, and you can’t help but feel a little mischievous as you listen, like you’re about to do something crazy and unpredictable, too.

Try These Three:

  1. “Discombobulate”
  2. “I Never Woke Up in Handcuffs Before”
  3. “Marital Sabotage”

11.  The Secret Garden (1993) – Zbigniew Preisner

Most people have heard of the classic children’s book, but not too many people I know have seen the 1993 movie starring virtually all unknown actors (except for Maggie Smith, though in 1993 I didn’t know who she was, either).  But I highly recommend seeing this movie if you love beautiful sets and atmosphere and storytelling, and especially if you love beautiful and melodic, yet haunting music.  Mostly using piano and violin, composer Zbigniew Preisner brings the moors of Yorkshire to life and makes you feel like you’re part of the magic.

Try These Three:

  1. “Awakening of Spring”
  2. “Taking Colin to the Garden”
  3. “Colin Loves Mary”

10.  Little Women (1994) – Thomas Newman

While Thomas Newman is more known for his work with Pixar (Finding Nemo, Wall-E), he first got my attention in 1994 when he scored Little Women starring Winona Ryder.  He has an interesting style, using what almost sounds like tubular bells in his work, paired with a more traditional orchestral sound.  It’s light and fluttery most of the time, and as with most good composers, makes you feel like you’re living in 1860s New England with the March sisters.  And it’s his music that creates much of the emotion captured in the movie.

Try These Three:

  1. “Orchard House”
  2. “Spring”
  3. “Beth’s Secret”

9.  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) – Tan Dun / Yo-Yo Ma

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is probably the most international-sounding of all the scores on this list, as it mostly consists of traditional Chinese-style instruments, especially the drums.  Yo-Yo Ma contributes to the score with his beautiful cello solos, which flow so serenely that you forget this is considered to be an action movie.  There are moments of excitement when the Chinese pounding of the percussion puts you right in the middle of the action, but it doesn’t take away from the beauty of the score and the artistry of the whole movie.

Try These Three:

  1. “The Eternal Vow”
  2. “Night Fight”
  3. “Farewell”

8.  Much Ado About Nothing (1993) – Patrick Doyle

Excluding John Williams, Patrick Doyle is one of my favorite composers, although he remains to be unknown to most people.  The main reason why he’s so awesome is because he has a way of creating the most beautiful, memorable melodies of any other composer out there.  And Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing is no exception.  As one of Shakespeare’s comedies, it makes sense that this score is light and bubbly and fun.  The opening overture of the movie is soaring and majestic and gets you pumped for the rest of the movie.  And though it’s a light-hearted comedy, it has its dark moments.  But the score never loses its beauty and instead creates a melody that stays with you for a long time.

Try These Three:

  1. “Overture”
  2. “The Masked Ball”
  3. “It Must Be Requited”

7.  Henry V (1989) – Patrick Doyle

This was the first time I was introduced to Patrick Doyle, and I was blown away.  This is a lot different from the happy-fest you hear in his Much Ado score, and instead he focuses on dark, instense melodies while also capturing a powerful and almost patriotic feel moments during Henry V’s famous speech before the Battle of Agincourt.  It’s music that makes you feel like standing up and cheering although you know the bloodbath that will follow.  Don’t get me wrong – the movie is fantastic.  But this is one of those scores that can stand on its own and make you feel as if you’re part of the story without seeing a single scene from the movie.

Try These Three:

  1. “The Death of Falstaff”
  2. “The Day is Yours”
  3. “The Wooing of Katherine”

6.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2004) – Patrick Doyle

While I love all of the scores for the Harry Potter movies, this one still stands out as my favorite, probably because it’s Patrick Doyle and contains some of the more memorable themes than the rest of them.  While he obviously kept in John Williams’s original theme from the first movie (as did all the composers from the other movies), he added in his own blend of magicalness by giving Harry, Hogwarts, Neville, and Winter their own themes.  They’re all beautiful and feel like full orchestra pieces, making them stand out amongst all other music you hear in any Harry Potter movie.

Try These Three:

  1. “Harry in Winter”
  2. “Potter Waltz”
  3. “Hogwarts’ Hymn”

5.  The Indiana Jones Trilogy (1980 / 1984 / 1989) – John Williams

This is the first of FOUR trilogies that appear on this list, and the reason why I didn’t pick individual movies from the trilogies to highlight is because I just can’t split them up.  Using a chorus of trumpets and trombones, “The Raiders March” is one of the most memorable themes of any movie, and the rest of the three soundtracks are just as fun, action-packed, and triumphant.  There’s not much more I can say about them other than they’re classic John Williams that you can listen to over and over again and never get sick of.

Try These Three:

  1. “Raiders March” (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
  2. “Nocturnal Activities” (Temple of Doom)
  3. “Keeping Up With the Joneses” (Last Crusade)

4.  The Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy (2003 / 2006 / 2007) – Klaus Badelt / Hans Zimmer

The scores to these three movies are so much fun.  Just like the movies, the music doesn’t take itself seriously: it just makes you smile and have a good time.  There’s never a dull moment in the score; the action is constant until the very last note in the final film, At World’s End, which probably has the most variety of music of the three.  Badelt and Zimmer focused on using lots of horn for the main themes, plus furiously fast strings combined with the clashing of cymbals to accompany the background, which not a lot of people had heard before this.  But it’s what keeps people’s attention – always moving, always flowing, and always entertaining.

Try These Three:

  1. “He’s a Pirate” (Curse of the Black Pearl)
  2. “Dinner is Served”  (Dead Man’s Chest)
  3. “One Day” (At World’s End)

3.  Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – Javier Navarrete

I hate to use the words “hauntingly beautiful” again, but they definitely describe the score to Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy film perfectly.  The entire score was based on a lullaby – a creepy lullaby that will stay in your head for days – and from that lullaby came a magical and lyrical melody that makes you feel like something isn’t right, despite how pretty-sounding it may be.  But that’s what the whole movie is: a fairytale that takes place against the background of a violent war.  Something beautiful paired with something ugly.  It’s amazing how a single violin can manage to make you feel all of that in just a few simple notes.

Try These Three:

  1. “Long, Long Time Ago”
  2. “The Moribund Tree and the Toad”
  3. “A Princess”

2.  The Star Wars Trilogy (1977 / 1980 / 1983) – John Williams

Oh, geez.  Where do I begin?  Everyone knows Star Wars.  It was voted as AFI’s Number One Film Score of All-Time.  Why?  Is it because everyone is familiar with it?  Well, no.  It’s because IT’S AWESOMENESS AT ITS BEST.  John Williams pretty much changed film scores all together with the release of Star Wars in 1977.  Inspired by Richard Strauss’s “Also sprach Zarathustra”, Williams created fanfare in his work for this movie, something that was lacking from a lot of the movies from the same decade.  And suddenly the blockbuster movie and score were born.  All three movie scores have the same themes and tones running through them, yet still contain memorable themes in each of them.  This is a score that will live on as long as Star Wars – which will, of course, be FOREVER.

Try These Three:

  1. “The Throne Room” (A New Hope)
  2. “The Imperial March” (The Empire Strikes Back)
  3. “Parade of the Ewoks” (Return of the Jedi)

1.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001 / 2002 / 2003) – Howard Shore

Well, this should be no surprise to anyone who knows how I feel about The Lord of the Rings.  Prior to seeing The Fellowship of the Ring, I had always loved film scores.  But this one sort of changed everything for me.  Suddenly I realized that a film score could be just as moving and wonderful and spectacular and thoughtful as the movie itself, and become a completely separate entity on its own.  Howard Shore created a masterpiece within these three movies that run together so seamlessly that one can sit and listen to all ten hours of score and feel like it’s just one piece.  And even though the three vary in tone, you can hear recurring themes in each movie – themes for the different races, different lands, etc – that seem to pop up at just the right time.  And the fact that books have been written about the score alone, as well as a live concert of Lord of the Rings makes you realize that this is definitely something special that may not happen again for a long time.

Try These Three:

  1. “The Breaking of the Fellowship” (The Fellowship of the Ring)
  2. “Evenstar” (The Two Towers)
  3. “Minas Tirith” (The Return of the King)

Oh, who am I kidding?  TRY ALL OF THEM.

Posted in Watching Movies

Need a Good Scare?

In previous posts, I’ve written about movies and tv shows that have made us cry and made us laugh.  Well, I think it’s about time we find out about another emotion.

Let’s find out what scares the crap out of us.

Not to be confused with movies that have scarred me for life, these certain movie moments have accomplished what they set out to do, which is make sure the viewer is totally freaking out at that moment.  I’m not one who scares easily, but I sure did when I saw the following scenes.


The Movie:  The Exorcist (1973)

The Scream Factor:  Flashes of Pazuzu

I think we can all pretty much agree that The Exorcist is a pretty damn scary movie.  I know some people who flat-out refuse to watch it.  I remember seeing the re-issue of the movie back in college and people actually getting up and walking out because they were scared (I distinctly remember hearing a “Oh, hell no”, followed by quick movement flying by me).  Yes, the movie is scary.  It’s haunting.  It’s the kind of movie that stays with you for a while after you’ve watched it.  Especially when you see flashes of the face of Pazuzu, the demon possessing Reagan’s body.  These random flashes of a “gaunt-white face with dark rings around his dull, red eyes and brown, crooked, rotting teeth” (Wikipedia) happen so fast throughout the movie that if you blink, you’ll probably miss them.  But if you don’t blink, well, you scream instead.

The Movie:  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Scream Factor:  Sally’s Screaming

Hands down, the scariest movie I’ve ever seen.  I had the genius idea of having a “Scary Movie Night” one night by myself in college and thought I would give this one a shot.  Let’s just say that to this day, no other movie has made me so utterly terrified as this one did.  Despite the whole plot of Leatherface killing people and hanging them up in his meat locker, the thing that made this movie so disturbing was the constant screaming.  Sally, the heroine of the movie, screams pretty much the entire time.  It’s so horrible and realistic that you just feel completely helpless, like no matter how much this girl screams her head off, it’s never enough.

The Movie:  Halloween (1978)

The Scream Factor:  Michael Is Not Dead Like You Think

What makes Michael Myers so frightening?  Is the mask?  Is it his willingness to kill everything that gets in his way?  No.  It’s the fact that he WALKS.  Seriously, the guy walks slower than most people, yet still manages to kill whoever he’s after.  But he’s at his most frightening when he’s playing dead.  In a scene where Laurie thinks she’s killed Michael and he lays behind her while we watch her cry, hell breaks loose when Michael suddenly sits up.  I’ve seen the movie a kajillion times, but I still jump every time I see that.  Rule of thumb?  NEVER ASSUME THE BAD GUY IS DEAD.

The Movie:  The Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The Scream Factor:  The Melting Staircase

There are lots of scary moments in the first (and best) movie of the series, but it’s the moment at the end when heroine Nancy is locked in her house with Freddy Kruger while she’s sleeping and, of course, having a nightmare.  Being chased has always frightened me (seriously, people think playing Tag is fun???), so when the central character Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) is trying to run from him and she gets stuck in the “melting staircase”, I tend to freak out.  I learned recently that they used pancake batter as the melted stairs that encase her feet and slow her down, but…no.  Still scary.


The Movie:  Scream (1996)

The Scream Factor:  The Worst Phone Call Ever

For those of you familiar with the urban legend of the baby-sitter in the house who gets a phone call from someone who basically says “I’m in the house”, you’ll get this one.  At the very beginning of the movie, Drew Barrymore’s character is hanging out at home alone, watching movies and making popcorn.  Then she gets a phone call from someone who appears to be flirting with her at first – until he tells her that he can see her.  Then things get bad.  Now, back in 1996, cell phones were still a novelty.  Not a lot of people had them.  So the idea of someone calling you from a phone that’s not connected to a cord, therefore giving them the opportunity to call you from outside your front door…well, that’s pretty scary stuff.  Not only that, but it’s Drew Barrymore.  She’s a star!  We don’t expect the star of the movie to die at the very beginning!  So the whole beginning of that movie just messes with us, and the whole movie changes all the rules about horror movies.

The Movie:  The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Scream Factor:  The Tent

First off, I love this movie.  I think the whole premise of the movie – making it seem like a documentary filmed by students and making people actually believe that it’s real via the internet – is genius and something that no other movie will successfully be able to do.  Oh, yeah – and the movie is scary as hell, too.  Even without the idea of a spooky witch running around, the idea of camping at night in the middle of a forest is creepy.  So when we’re watching these students in their tent at night just talking, and then suddenly SOMETHING begins pounding on the side of their tent, HOLY CRAP it scares the poo right out of me every time.  And people wonder why I don’t go camping.

The Movie:  The Ring (2002)

The Scream Factor:  The Video

Okay, if someone told me about a video that if you watched you would die seven days later, I WOULD NOT WATCH IT.  But hey, that’s just me.  However, we as an audience of the awesome movie The Ring are sort of forced to watch this video through the eyes of the character Rachel (Naomi Watts), and it makes us realize that even if we weren’t going to die in seven days, we wouldn’t want to watch this video anyway!  THIS VIDEO IS DISTURBING.  Seriously.  The images that flash on the screen – the ladder, the window, the scary chick brushing her hair, the FINGERNAILS – horrible.  Yet we can’t look away.  Which is kind of the point of all horror movies, if you think about.  As disturbing as some of them can be, you just can’t look away.

The Movie:  Dawn of the Dead (2004)

The Scream Factor:  The First Ten Minutes

Normally I don’t find zombie movies scary, at least not to the point of feeling really, really scared like the aforementioned movies do.  But then I saw Zach Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead and decided that, well, zombies can be f***ing scary.  And all it took was the first ten minutes of the movie to make me realize that.  The character of Ana (Sarah Polley) is just waking up in the morning when a small, innocent-looking child walks in their bedroom.  Of course this child is not innocent because she’s a ZOMBIE, and she kills Ana’s boyfriend, who then immediately turns into a zombie and also tries to kill Ana.  Sounds like your basic zombie movie, right?  Well, it would be – IF THE ZOMBIES DIDN’T RUN LIKE THIS.  That’s right, these are not the “walking” dead – these dead RUN.  FAST.  If your heart is not pumping like crazy after ten minutes, well, then you just might be a zombie yourself.

The Movie:  The Strangers (2008)

The Scream Factor:  “Because You Were Home”

This movie is pretty much my worst nightmare wrapped up into a 90-minute movie, and probably a movie I never want to watch again, simply because of the whole “this can happen to you” factor it has going on.  Movies with Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers – those aren’t super scary because I know they’re far from real.  But you take a movie like The Strangers, which is about a couple who are staying at a vacation home and are terrorized by creepy people wearing even creepier masks who break into the home, it scares you to pieces because it’s horrifyingly realistic.  The moment that gets you is when Liv Tyler, while being attacked, screams out “Why are you doing this?” and the creepy doll-face girl answers with, “Because you were home.”  Um…yeah.  NO.

Maybe we should all stick to watching comedies.

Posted in Listening to Music, The Awesome 13, Watching Movies

The Awesome 13 – Musical Movies

I consider myself one of the lucky people who loves so many different types of movies.  You know those people who seem to only like one kind of movie?  I feel bad for them.  To be a true fan of movies, you have to have a wide range of tastes.  And one of my many tastes?

MUSICALS.

Ever since I was a kid and first saw Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis, I have loved the movie musical.  I love music, I love movies…it only makes sense, right?  Now, for some silly reason I thought this post would be easy to write.  Top 13 movie musicals?  SIMPLE.

Um, yeah.  Not so much.

Every time I thought I had my 13, I would think of another one.  And another one.  And another one.  So many more that I had to scratch my original list and start a new one.  Seriously, people.  This is stressful stuff.

But I think I have my list.  Unfortunately a lot of good musicals had to be left off – West Side Story, Singin’ in the Rain, Chicago, for example – but of course that doesn’t mean they’re not amazing.  They just haven’t had as much impact on me as these other 13.  If I was doing top 20?  Yeah, they’d definitely be in there.  I left out all Disney animated movies, since I already covered that in a previous Awesome 13 post.

So let’s get started, shall we?

13.  Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

It’s funny that this movie made this list, actually, because it’s not the songs that make me love the movie so much.  The songs, to be honest, are actually kind of forgettable to me (except for that one where the kid is trying to sell that magic hair cream…”May I have your attention, PLEASE??”  Love it.).  What I love so much about this movie is Tim Burton and Johnny Depp at their best.  The look of the film is 100% Tim Burton (complete with black and white stripes!!) and 100% Johnny Depp (complete with fake accent!!).  Oh, and did I mention that Severus Snape and Bellatrix Lestrange sing in it as well?  Okay, fine, they don’t.  But Alan Rickman and Helena Bonham Carter do!

Yes, it’s rather gory in some parts – I mean, the guy chops people up and puts them in PIES – but it’s so much fun to watch that you don’t even realize you’re watching a gory, somewhat violent movie.  Because, you know, there’s singing in it.  Which makes it all okay.

12.  High School Musical 3 – Senior Year (2008)

Okay, first of all, shut up.  I know what you’re thinking.  And I don’t care.

Yes, I realize that this movie is cheesy and made for pre-pubescent girls who think Zac Efron is their future husband.  Whatever.  I enjoy this movie.

The first two movies in the trilogy are okay.  I mean, they’re fun and all, and I’ll still occasionally watch them as background noise, but the third one is a substantial improvement.  It had to be since it was the first one they were actually putting into theaters, unlike the first two which only aired on The Disney Channel.

And while the plot was predictable (come on, it’s Disney…it’s not like it’s a frickin’ David Fincher movie), the songs, dancing, and whole production was tons better than the first two.  And, um, Zac Efron looks way hotter in this one.  But that’s totally not a contributing factor, I swear.

11.  The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Who would have thought that Tim Burton would show up twice in a list about musicals?  But he does, at least in mine!

First off, the movie looks amazing in stop-motion animation.  Second of all, it’s a movie about Halloween and Christmas, two of the greatest holidays of ALL-TIME.  And, of course, it has Danny Elfman – OINGO BOINGO – singing as Jack Skellington, the greatest Pumpkin King of ALL-TIME.  The songs are memorable and surprisingly emotional (“Sally’s Song” actually gives me tears if I’m in the right emo mood), and the sequence where Jack discovers Christmas Town is probably the best Christmas scene of any movie next to the entire 26 minutes of How the Grinch Stole Christmas animated special.

This movie has gained quite the cult following over the past 19 years (WHAT?? 19 years???), and it’s no surprise that they’ve even made a cover album called Nightmare Revisited, which covered every single song – even the score – in the movie.  Amazeballs.

10.  Grease (1978)

If you look up any list of best movie musicals, Grease will most likely be on it.  Why?  Because it is a great movie with great songs, and it will always be a great movie with great songs.  Even though a movie made in the 70s to look like the 50s will still look like a movie from the 70s.

John Travolta is in his PRIME in this movie as Danny Zuko (seriously, way better than the depressing Saturday Night Fever), and Olivia Newton-John is perfectly casted as adorable Sandy.  The songs are super fun – Summer Lovin’ is still one of my favorite scenes in any musical, and Stockard Channing gets me EVERY TIME when she sings “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”.

Oh, and the ending?  Big ol’ celebration at the school carnival?  SO MUCH FUN.  I want to go to school with these people.  Even though they look like they’re in their 30s.

LOVE THIS MOVIE.

9.  Across the Universe (2007)

So this movie is a perfect example of the songs totally overshadowing the movie itself.  And the reason for that is simple:  the movie isn’t very good, and the songs are AMAZING.

Why are the songs amazing?  Well, it’s The Beatles.  And, well, that simply needs no further explanation.  It’s The Beatles.  And even though it’s not John, Paul, George, and Ringo singing, they’re still amazing.  That’s the beauty of The Beatles’ songs.  They’re awesome no matter who sings them.

And I absolutely love these renditions.  Jim Sturgess has a great, Northern England voice that sounds like it was made to sing Beatles songs.  He turned my favorite Beatles song, “All My Loving”, into even more of a favorite Beatles song, though he sounds the best during “I’ve Just Seen a Face”.  Even Evan Rachel Wood, who doesn’t have a particularly strong singing voice, songs sweet and innocent and great.

Like I said, the movie is somewhat pompous and overdone.  But the music definitely makes up for that, making it the only reason to sit down and watch it.

8.  Phantom of the Opera (2004)

To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to like this movie when it first came out.  I knew Joel Schumacher was directing it, and he’s the man responsible for bringing down the Batman franchise (though if if weren’t for him, we may not have gotten Christopher Nolan, so…yeah).  What the hell was he doing directing a very much loved Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway musical???

Well, I found myself rather surprised.  Surprised at how much I really liked the movie.  I had never seen the Broadway show on stage (I know, blasphemy), but I was familiar with the songs.  And the one thing I never liked about the songs before this was the fact that it sounded like old people singing were singing them.  I know that sounds weird, but I never felt like I could sing along to them.  But when Emmy Rossum plays Christine, I suddenly find myself loving the songs.  Because she really does have an amazing voice.

And Mr. Batman-Ruiner actually made the movie look rather beautiful.  The cemetery scene when Christine sings “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” is pretty drool-worthy as far as set and costume design.

So if you’re totally against this movie but haven’t seen it, I suggest giving it a try.  Just don’t think of Batman’s nipples while you’re watching it.

7.  Mary Poppins (1964)

This list just wouldn’t be a list without at least one Julie Andrews movie (she appears on the list twice).  Mary Poppins is just one of those movies that people will love FOREVER.  It was made almost 50 years ago, but it truly feels timeless.  For one thing, it has Julie Andrews, who is kind of like a goddess in terms of musicals.  She made the character of Mary Poppins entirely hers, and no one will be able to come close to her perfection.  She is, of course, practically perfect in every way.

And those two adorable kids?  The dancing animated penguins?  The carousal?  Cleaning your messy room simply by snapping your fingers?  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?  (by the way, I totally just spelled that phonetically and the computer recognized it as a real – and correctly spelled – word).  Everything in this movie is absolutely delicious.

Except for “Feed the Birds”, which makes me cry like a little girl.

6.  Annie (1982)

Besides the fact that this movie is my childhood, it’s just one of those movies that every girl in the 80s wanted to be a part of.  Why is this movie so awesome?  Well, let’s see.

  • Singing and dancing orphan girls
  • Alcoholic Carol Burnett
  • Molly and Pepper
  • Dumb Dog
  • Come on, Annie.  Let’s go to the movies!
  • Ann Reinking
  • Punjab
  • The sun will come out (tears tears tears) tomorrow

There’s just so much about this movie that I love love love love love.  I heard that Will Smith is currently developing a remake, which of course gives me a stomach ache, but at least I know that this one will love on forever despite the remakes and copycats.

And seriously, who can copy Carol Burnett?  NO ONE, I say.

5.  The Wizard of Oz (1939)

For a lot of people, this is the first musical they ever saw.  And they probably didn’t even realize that they were watching a musical!  That’s because The Wizard of Oz pretty much covers every kind of genre out there (musical, drama, comedy, fantasy, sci-fi, horror – you know why) and is loved by mostly (I say “mostly” because, well, I’m sure there’s some who don’t like flying monkeys) everyone who sees it.

We all know what happened with Judy Garland and how towards the end of her life she, you know, went off the end, but watching her in her first starring role reminds us all of how much of a pure talent she really was.  That voice.  That face.  Those big eyes.  And even though there have been other makings of the World of Oz, nothing will ever be like that first one, the one that made us fall in love with a girl from Kansas who traveled to the magical world of Oz, only to find her way home again.

And I’d like to meet the person who doesn’t feel at least a tiny bit emotional when she says,” There’s no place like home” at the end of the movie.  Seriously, have you no heart?

4.  Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Without a doubt, The Wizard of Oz was the movie that made Judy Garland a star.  But Meet Me in St. Louis was the one that reminded everyone why.  She’s amazing in it.

I watched this movie to death when I was a kid.  This was back in the day when no one really owned any movies, and the only way you could watch them was to rent them at the video store or record them from the TV (on your giant VHS machines, of course).  Well, my dad had recorded this movie from the TV, and along with The Wizard of Oz, Unconquered, and Back to the Future, I watched this one the most.  At first I didn’t even make the connection that this was the girl who played Dorothy, because that’s how different she looked in MMISTL (plus I was only like seven years old, and I didn’t make connections like that at that age).

I love this movie, I really do.  It’s a great story about a family in St. Louis in 1903 leading up to the World’s Fair of 1904.  And even though it takes place over 100 years ago – and was made almost 70 years ago – it feels like it could all happen in today’s society.  Family relations.  Crushes on boys who live next door.  Dancing at parties.  Trick-or-treating (except I don’t think people throw flour at people’s faces anymore).  Riding on trollies.  Switching out mean girls’ dance cards so they get stuck with crappy guys to dance with.

Okay, well, most of it is still relative today.  And the music?  Some of the best songs from movies are in this one.  “The Boy Next Door”, “The Trolley Song”, and I bet you didn’t know that “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was written for this movie!  Of course it’s sung during such a depressing scene that it’s hard for me to listen to today.  But still.  Great songs, great cast, and just a flat-out great movie.

3.  The Sound of Music (1965)

Unlike some of the above movies, The Sound of Music was not a part of my childhood.  My parents didn’t own it, and they never watched it on TV.  In fact, like West Side Story, I don’t think it was a movie my parents even liked.  So when I got older, sometime around 15 years old, it was on TV.  I knew the songs from it and had seen certain scenes, but I had never watched it all the way through until then.

And I fell in love.  For many reasons.

Number one:  Julie Andrews.  I didn’t think I would like a character more than Mary Poppins, but I sure as hell loved her as Maria, the nun-turned-von Trapp.  With her pixie haircut and her abundant energy and quick tongue, I had never seen a heroine in a musical like that before.  To this day when I hear “I Have Confidence” I instantly get in a positive mood.  Seriously, if you’re ever in a crappy mood and need a pick-me-up, put on that song.  Suddenly you’re smiling and feeling on top again.

And I love every single one of those Von Trapp kids.  From Gretl to Leisl (especially Leisl…what girl didn’t want to be her????), I thought they were all awesome in their own way.  Shy, bold, sweet, incorrigible…they all have their own identities, which is hard to come by in movies with large casts these days.

And the songs.  Oh, the songs.  They’re – for lack of a better word – wonderful.  It doesn’t matter that I’m 33 years old – I still get a kick out of singing “Do-Re-Mi” and “Lonely Goatherd”, and I cry whenever I hear Christopher Plummer sing about Edelweiss flowers.

And I hate Rolfe for totally dissing Leisl like that, especially after dancing around in the gazebo with her.  Worst villain in the movie, that one.

2.  Newsies (1992)

Not much more can be said about this movie that hasn’t already been said.  Put together a bunch of cute teenage boys who sing about selling newspapers and dance like it’s NOT 1899, and you’ve got the best movie musical of the decade.  Some highlights include:

1.  Christian Bale

2.  Christian Bale

3.  Christian Bale

4.  Christian Bale

Whatever.  Just watch it.

1.  Moulin Rouge (2001)

I’ve wanted to write about this movie in many of my blog posts over the past year, but I’ve never had the perfect opportunity to do so, unless I write a post about “Movies That Have Changed My Life”.  Because that’s what Moulin Rouge did.  Changed my life.

I have a personal attachment to this movie because it was the first movie I saw in the theater when I moved out to CA, and the first movie I went to see with my future husband.  It was one of those moments when timing was everything.

More specifically, though, Moulin Rouge changed the way I watched movies.  Upon first viewing, you can’t but think, “THIS MOVIE IS TOTALLY INSANE.”  And it is.  It’s controlled chaos.  Some people hate it, some people love it.  And man oh man, I LOVE IT.

The whole movie is gorgeous to look at.  The colors, the excitement, the sets, the costumes…it’s just amazing.  And the music?  You wouldn’t think that Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman would be able to pull it off, but they actually exceed expectations.  They’re perfect in the roles of Christian and Satine, you believe their story, and you root for them the entire time.

Baz Luhrmann picked excellent songs to tell his story, and my favorite scenes tend to star those songs.  I knew I would love this movie from the moment Ewan McGregor opened his mouth to sing one line from “The Sound of Music”, but it was when he sang Elton John’s “Your Song” that I fell hard.  I smile during the entire “Elephant Love Medley”, and I get all weepy when they sing the SHOULD-HAVE-BEEN-NOMINATED-FOR-AN-ACADEMY-AWARD song “Come What May”.

Oh, and the best five minutes of the entire movie – nay, the best five minutes of ANY movie – comes during the “El Tango de Roxanne”, with Ewan McGregor singing during one of the most intensely choreographed scenes I’ve ever seen.  I can’t even find words to explain it; you just gotta see it.

And yes, Satine dies at the end, but we know that from the beginning.  It’s sad, but the movie as a whole made us so happy that it doesn’t even bother us.  Why?

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

Remember that, folks.  It’s important stuff.

Posted in Catching TV, Geeking Out, The Awesome 13, Watching Movies

The Awesome 13 – Comic-Con 2012

Well, another Comic-Con International has come and gone.  And as usual, it was full of fun, craziness, and no sleep.  And what better way of recapping my experience than with an Awesome 13 list?

So here it is:  13 awesome moments from Comic-Con 2012!

13. Fringe Tears

I’ve never seen the show Fringe (it’s one of those shows that I really wanted to watch but never had the time), so there’s no reason to be emotionally invested in it.  However, that all changed after sitting through the Fringe panel on Sunday.  During the audience Q & A, the cast was asked to name their favorite scene from the first four seasons of the show that they weren’t in.  One of the actors Jasika Nicole began to describe a scene with fellow actor Anna Torv, and she starts crying.  Then Anna Torv starts crying.  Then actor Lance Reddick starts crying.  You can hear people from the audience of 6500 people sniffling.  I’m crying, and I don’t even know why.  But it’s just a testament to how much this show means to them, how hard they’ve worked to stay on the air for four years, and how this final season will make everyone cry even more.

12.  A Korra Read-Through

We all know how much I love the show The Legend of Korra, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally put faces to the voices we hear on the show.  At this panel on Friday, the voice actors came out and did a read-through from various scenes throughout the season with the help of voice instructor Andrea Romano.  It’s so bizarre hearing these voices you know so well coming from actual human beings, but you start to realize why these actors were hired, why their voices match their character so well, and it doesn’t take anything away from the magic of the show.  And after a rough-cut of scenes from Book 2 of The Legend of Korra, I’m more excited than ever for it to start again.

11.  Superman Superfan

The Q & A portion of any panel is always interesting, but every now and then you get a fan that truly encapsulates everything a fan should be.  On Saturday during the Man of Steel panel, a fan came to the microphone in tears.  Cloaked in a Superman sweatshirt, it was obvious this man is a huge Superman fan, and after seeing the very first footage of this upcoming movie directed by Zach Snyder, he became overwhelmed to the point where he could barely get his words out.  The moderator of the panel Chris Hardwick (more about him later) then jumped down from the stage and ran up to the man to give him a huge hug, telling him that he represented everything that true fans are, and that it was totally cool to cry about it.  It was just one of those things that show you how passionate we are at Comic-Con and how much this stuff really means to us, and for two minutes this guy was the star of the whole panel.

10.  The Train and Felicia Day

This year at Comic-Con was definitely a year of firsts for us, one of those firsts being taking the train from Los Angeles to San Diego.  After four years of driving to SDCC, I highly recommend taking the train instead.  It’s much more relaxing, you have free wifi, and if you sit in business class like we did, you get unlimited snacks.  You also might run into a celebrity or two like we did on Sunday on our way back to LA.  Now Felicia Day might not seem like a celebrity to most people (most people don’t know who she is), but to the people of Comic-Con she’s a goddess.  She also happened to be at the train station on Sunday afternoon.  She was waiting in line like the rest of us, and since I knew I probably wouldn’t have this opportunity again, I went up to her and told her how much I enjoyed her web series The Flog.  She smiled and said thank you, and again after I told her that my daughter is now obsessed with unicorn poop (you have to watch The Flog to understand that).  I didn’t want to seem like a scary creeper, so that’s all I said, even when she sat two seats behind us on the train.  I had my moment, and it was kind of awesome.

9.  Robert Downey, Jr.’s Entrance

It just wouldn’t be Comic-Con without Robert Downey, Jr.  He loves Comic-Con, and Comic-Con loves him.  Every time he’s there he makes some kind of awesome entrance, and this year was no exception.  Right before the Marvel panel on Saturday night, the lights suddenly went out and the song “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross began playing over the speakers.  And before we knew it, Robert Downey, Jr. was dancing down the aisle of Hall H while 6500 people were cheering.  He obviously had security all around him, but it didn’t take away from the awesomeness of it all.  Because when it comes to RDJr at Comic-Con, it’s “never too much”.

8.  The Lines

Most people hate lines.  And for 51 weeks out of the year, I hate lines, too.  But lines are a huge part of Comic-Con.  No matter what you do, you’re waiting in a line for something.  In the past we’ve always gotten up early to get into lines for Hall H and Ballroom 20 where the big panels are going to be.  But this year was the year of camping out.  The panels this year were so big that people camped out overnight to secure there spot in the hall.  For example, on Friday we got in line for Ballroom 20 at 1:30am (mainly because of the Firefly reunion panel, which wasn’t until 12:30pm).  On Saturday my husband got in line at 10:00pm (I joined him at 2:00am) for Hall H (mainly because of the Warner Brothers panel, which wouldn’t start until 2:30 pm).  And on Sunday we got in line for Hall H at 2:30am, which actually proved to be late due to the 1000 people ahead of us in line (mainly because of the Doctor Who panel at 12:30pm), but we still got a decent seat in the middle of the auditorium.  It takes experience and planning to get a good spot in line.  I saw so many people come to the line after 7:00, thinking they were there early, only to discover that they probably weren’t going to get into the panel.  As the saying goes, “One hour early at SDCC means 12 hours too late.”

You just become accustomed to waiting ten hours in line at Comic-Con.  You find stuff to do.  You make friends with the people around you.  And you make those lines part of your overall awesome experience.

7.  Warner Brothers Surprises

Everyone knew going into the Warner Brothers panel that it was going to be a big one, especially with movies like Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, and The Hobbit on the schedule.  But what we weren’t expecting were the little surprises they had in store for us.  The first one was the expanded screens.  Instead of the usual one screen in front of us, the screen extended to both side walls, giving us three screens of awesomeness.  Then in between Pacific Rim and Man of Steel, they surprised us by showing a teaser for the movie Godzilla and then bringing out the director (looks awesome, by the way).  And then in between Man of Steel and The Hobbit, they once again surprised us by bringing out Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis to talk about their upcoming movie The Campaign, which was hilarious.  And who doesn’t love surprises, especially at Comic-Con?

6.  Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

This refers to an upcoming episode of Doctor Who, and is just a sliver of how much fun the entire Doctor Who panel was on Sunday.  Writers Stephen Moffat and Caroline Skinner were there, along with actors Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill to talk about the show, as well as show footage from the upcoming season, like dinosaurs on a spaceship.  This is Karen’s and Arthur’s last season on the show, leaving about halfway through, though we don’t know how they’re going to go out, so this was a little bittersweet for everyone, as their characters Amy and Rory are hugely popular.  Chris Hardwick, who knows more about Doctor Who than I ever will, moderated the panel, and it was just fun to watch everyone interact with each other, especially when Karen and Arthur did impressions of each other (hilarious).  Season seven can’t start soon enough!!!

5.  Chris Hardwick, Comic-Con Extraordinaire

Chris Hardwick is the host of the podcast “The Nerdist”, which my husband and I are avid listeners.  During Comic-Con, he’s one of the busiest guys there.  He moderated five panels at the convention, as well as attending his own panel and hosting a live podcast of “The Nerdist”, which we attended on Friday night.  Why do I like Chris Hardwick?  Well, for one thing, he’s hilarious.  He’s a great host and moderator, and always knows exactly what to say at the right time.  He’s also worked his ass off to get to where he is today.  You may remember him from the 90s as the co-host of MTV’s Singled Out with Jenny McCarthy and, if you listen to his podcast, you’ll know that he didn’t exactly enjoy it.  He became an alcoholic, drinking up to 14 beers a day, and gained a bunch of weight until he finally got his life together.  He stopped drinking, he got in shape, and he created this podcast with friends Matt Mira and Jonah Ray.  Like Felicia Day, he’s become hugely popular in the nerd world, getting just as much applause at the panels he moderated as the stars themselves.  He’s truly an example of proving that you can be successful by working hard and doing exactly what you’ve wanted to do your whole life.

4.  John Barrowman Reveals All

If you were to watch John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and his spin-off series Torchwood, you would never know how hilariously crude and awesome he really is.  John Barrowman was the guest at the live “Nerdist” Comic-Con show on Friday night that we attended, and I honestly don’t think I’ve laughed that much or that hard during any two hours of my life.  I won’t go into everything that happened (edited for content and all), but John Barrowman has absolutely no shame when it comes to his love life (gay and proud), and his bathroom habits (poop), and he will kiss and fondle total strangers without any kind of consequences.  The live show is now up on their podcast to listen to, but it was definitely one of those “you had to be there” moments that I will never forget.

3.  A Visit from Joss Whedon

It was early Friday morning (early as in 3:00am) and we’d been waiting outside in the Ballroom 20 line since 1:30am.  Mostly everyone in line was asleep – that is, until word got out that Joss Whedon was at the front of the line signing autographs.  That was pretty exciting, but we figured that he probably wouldn’t make it down to our part of the line.  We were in front of a lot of people, but we definitely weren’t in the front.  But a half hour later, we spotted him making his way down towards us.  He was signing autographs, people were getting their picture with him, and Joss himself was actually waking people up who are sleeping.  My husband was determined to get Joss to sign his SDCC badge and a picture, and guess what:  he did!  And I got to take the picture!  It was such an exciting moment – this man who had created some of our favorite TV shows and directed the third most successful movie of all time, taking the time to come out at three in the morning to greet his fans without any security, showing how much he appreciates us, and proving why we appreciate him.

2.  Thirteen Minutes of The Hobbit

Excluding the Firefly reunion panel, the thing I was most excited to see was the panel for The Hobbit.  They had promised it was going to be big, and they did not disappoint.  Peter Jackson was there, along with writer/producer Philippa Boyens and actors Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Ian McKellan, and Elijah Wood.  They started off showing a video diary of the end of filming, and that was all exciting, of course, but nothing compared to the 13 minutes of actual movie footage that was shown.  I don’t think I breathed the entire time.  We saw new faces, plus old faces like Galadriel, Legolas, and Elrond.  It all looked seriously…amazing.  And we only have to wait five months to see the entire thing!  Hell, we’ve already waited nine years to see it, so what’s another five months?

1.  Firefly’s Shiny Moment

By far, the most anticipated panel of the entire con was the Firefly reunion panel on Friday.  There’s a reason why so many people were camped out to see it.  Even though the show wasn’t even on for an entire season, it has achieved true cult status, its fans some of the most loyal and passionate of any.  The minutes leading up to the panel were tense – you could practically feel the anticipation in the air.  It was the first time I’ve witnessed an audience begin to clap in rhythm before a panel has even started.  Not all the actors could be there, but when the ones who were walked on stage, the place exploded.  Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, and Adam Baldwin were all there, plus producer TIm Minear and writer Jose Molina, and, of course, Joss Whedon.  The panel was awesome, of course, but the moment that we’ll all remember was the final question of the audience Q & A when Joss was asked what the show’s fans meant to him.  He couldn’t answer – not because he didn’t know, but because no words could describe.  He got choked up, then Nathan got choked up (seriously, there were tears), and the entire crowd of 4000 stood up and gave Joss the biggest standing ovation I have ever witnessed in my life.  I don’t think a dry eye was in the house – audience or on stage.  It’ll definitely be the moment I will always remember from Comic-Con 2012.

Posted in Watching Movies

Summer Movie Extravaganza!

Summer is a huge time for movies.  Kids are out of school, people are on vacation, and the weather is hot, which means it’s the perfect time of year for The Big Summer Movie Blockbuster.

I consider myself a very seasonal-driven movie person – that is, I tend to watch certain movies at certain times of the year.  And there are some movies out there that just scream “SUMMER!!!” that are hard to watch during the winter months.  So what better way to celebrate summer than make a list of what I consider to be awesome summer movies?

Jaws (1975)

Considered by some to be one of the scariest movies of all time (um, did ya’ll even see The Strangers??), Jaws is a perfect summer movie.  It’s about sharks that attack summer vacationers on the fictional island of Amity.  Sharks that EAT people.   It doesn’t more summery than that!  And it’s a proven fact (maybe) that sharks don’t eat people during the winter months.  Except maybe in Australia.  Because, you know, they’re all backwards down there.  But still.  Awesome summer movie.

Friday the 13th Part 1 (1980)

Okay, so I realize that this isn’t exactly the mega-blockbuster you have in mind.  But this movie has summer written all over it.  It takes place on the original Friday the 13th – June 13 – at a summer camp called Camp Crystal Lake.  Freaky camp movies were made to be watched during the hot summer nights.  Leave the creepy Halloween movies for fall.  Because Jason only comes out in the summertime!*

*Of course that doesn’t mean he won’t come after you if Friday the 13th happens in December.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982)

Action, adventure, romance, Harrison Ford…it makes for a lovely combination for the perfect summer movie.  And seriously, it looks like it’s 100 degrees during the entire movie.  Indy is always sweaty (which is fine because he’s hot…literally and figuratively), and people’s faces melt off at the end of the movie.  Summer has officially begun, people!

Field of Dreams (1989)

I guess it’s because it’s about a summer sport that makes this movie full of summer glow, but my memory of seeing it during summer vacation when I was ten years old is what makes this an awesome summer movie for me.  It was hot outside and cold in the theater, I ordered a large Sprite the size of my head, sat in the front row, and accidentally spilled the entire drink on the floor in front of me.  Yay, summer!   But yeah, baseball.  It’s not played in the winter.  Therefore, summer movie.

Point Break (1991)

Well, let’s see.  This movie has Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, and surfing.  It came out during a summer I consider to be one of the most pivotal summers of my life (twelve years old – right on the brink of teenagehood).  The beach scenes ooze summer goodness (and badness, if you’ve seen the movie), and, oh yeah, it has Keanu Reeves in it, who was simultaneously starring in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and the video for Paula Abdul’s “Rush, Rush” at the time.  So basically 1991 was The Summer of Keanu.  It’s sum-sum-summertime!

Jurassic Park (1993)

There’s just something about Steven Spielberg and summer movies that go together like green eggs and ham.  This movie about the worst dinosaur theme park of all time was the biggest movie during the summer of 1993, mostly due to the fact that we had never seen dinosaurs this realistic – or scary – before (the Land Before Time movies did nothing to prepare us for this).  And since summer is the time for theme parks, Jurassic Park fits right in as the perfect movie to watch on a hot, July day when you don’t want to deal with the long lines.

Independence Day (1996)

You shouldn’t be surprised to see this movie on the list.  It’s title is a summer holiday.  To call this movie by anything else would be – for lack of a better word – stupid.  It has everything needed to make a great summer movie – Will Smith, aliens, Will Smith, explosions, Will Smith, cities in peril, Will Smith, and a rousing speech about our celebrating our independence.  Seriously, I’ve tried watching this movie during a different season and it just doesn’t have the same effect.  July 4th does not fall in December.  That would be our next movie on the list…

Pearl Harbor (2001)

So yeah, if you know your American history, you should know that the attack on Pearl Harbor happened on December 7, 1941.  Definitely not summer.  But you know what?  It happened in Hawaii, which made it look like summer despite the fact that people were getting ready to celebrate Christmas.  But you really don’t get that feel when you watch the movie.  It came out in May of 2001 and provided the perfect beginning to the summer season.  And maybe the movie wasn’t so good.  Maybe it was cheesy.  Maybe it made me giggle a little.  But they don’t release movies in the summer and except them to become Oscar winners, peeps.  Have some fun with it.

Pirates of the Caribbean 1/2/3 (2003/2006/2007)

These movies were the biggest movies of the summers in which they were released, and not just because people love Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley the way I do.  Turns out people love pirates as well, and more so during the summer months because they can go on vacation to Disneyland and take their kids on the ride that inspired the movie.  A pirate movie during the winter?  Doesn’t found very exciting to me – I don’t even think pirates come out during the winter time.  They save up all their energy for pillaging during those months.

And last but certainly not least…

ALL THE BATMANS!*

*Except for Batman Returns.  Because it’s a Christmassy movie.

It just wouldn’t be summer without a Batman movie in the mix (except for the summers in which no Batman movie came out).  The first movie Batman came out in 1989 and to me was the first big summer franchise of my lifetime.  Suddenly Batman became synonymous with summer, and even continued when Christopher Nolan took over.  His movies are good enough to be released in the winter months and be considered for an Oscar, but Nolan knows better…the Bat-Man only flies when it’s warm outside.**

**See above note

What are some of your summer favorites?

Posted in Reading Books, The Awesome 13, Watching Movies

The Awesome 13 – Harry Potter

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since the last Harry Potter movie was released in theaters.  Not only that, but it’s been five years since the last book came out.  And one more thing…it’s been fifteen years since the very first book was published.

So even though Harry has been out of our lives for a year (or five years if you’re one who only cares about the books), he’s been a part of our lives for fifteen years.  There have been amazing moments in the books and movies (and unlike some people, I am a true fan of both), and I’m here today to bring the top 13 things about Harry Potter.

13.  Harry Gets His Wand (Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone)

When Harry finds out that he’s a wizard, he’s a bit confused and overwhelmed, and the whole idea of being a wizard after enduring 11 years of torture from his extended family still seems so farfetched to him, even as he walks through Diagon Alley with friend / mentor / half-giant Hadrid.  But then he goes into Ollivander’s Wand Shop and everything falls into place.

There’s the moment where after a few unsuccessful tries at different wands when Ollivander suddenly knows…he knows exactly which wand is meant for Harry, and when Harry holds that 11” wand made of holly with the core of a Phoenix feather, we ALL know.

“I think we must expect great things from you, Mr. Potter…. After all, He-Who-Must- Not-Be-Named did great things — terrible, yes, but great.”

12.  The Unexpected Ally (Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix / Deathly Hallows)

I’m lumping three different moments into this one because they’re all sort of related.  In Order of the Phoenix there’s a moment where Harry’s aunt and uncle – Vernon and Petunia – are about to throw Harry out of the house because he’s being an annoying magical teenager until Petunia receives a howler (a very loud letter) from Dumbledore. And suddenly Petunia won’t let Harry leave.

“Remember my last, Petunia.” 

We’re pretty sure the letter was meant to remind Petunia about the last letter that Dumbledore sent her, which was attached to baby Harry when he was left on her doorstep, telling her that she must raise him as her own.  We also get the feeling that maybe evil Aunt Petunia cares for Harry a little more than we’re meant to think.

And then there’s the moment (also, like above, not in the movies) in Deathly Hallows where Harry is leaving his home for the last time before going off and looking for horcruxes and evil dark lords.  Vernon and Petunia get in the car without really saying goodbye (though in the movie we do get a shot of Petunia sitting in the car looking rather torn), but suddenly Dudley – the boy who’s harassed Harry his whole life – walks over and shakes his hand, thanking him for saving his life from the Dementors two years ago.  It’s a touching moment when you realize that Dudley really sees Harry as a brother, not just a punching bag.

“I don’t think you’re a waste of space.”

“Thanks”.

Finally there’s a small moment towards the end of Deathly Hallows after Voldemort’s and Harry’s duel when everyone thinks that Harry has died.  He’s lying on the ground, and when Draco’s mom Narcissa walks over to him, Voldemort asks her if he’s dead.  Narcissa bends down, sees that Harry is in fact alive, and instead of calling him out, she quietly asks him if Draco is all right.  While this doesn’t fully prove that Narcissa cares for Harry, it proves that she’s a mom and that her son is the most important thing in the world to her and that she’d rather have the peace of mind that her son is alive than Harry dead.

“Is Draco alive? Is he in the castle?” The whisper was barely audible, her lips were an inch from his car, her head bent so low that her long hair shielded his face.

11.  Harry and Lupin (Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban)

Harry meets Remus Lupin at the start of his third year when Lupin becomes the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.  He soon finds out that Lupin was a close friend of his dad’s, and because of that Harry suddenly sees Professor Lupin as someone he can trust and confide in even more so than Dumbledore, as the first adult he’s been able to truly trust outside of Hagrid.

He develops a bond with Lupin that seems to connect him to his deceased father, a bond we don’t see again until he meets Sirius.  And the scenes that reflect this both in the book and the movie show us just how much Harry needs a father figure in his life.  Plus Lupin is the one who taught him “Expelliarmus!”, which proves to be one of the most useful spells Harry will use.

“The very first time I saw you Harry, I recognized you immediately. Not by your scar, by your eyes. They’re your mother; Lily’s. Yes, I knew her. You mother was there for me at a time when no one else was. Not only was she a singularly gifted witch, she was also an uncommonly kind woman. She had a way of seeing the beauty in others, even, and perhaps most especially, when that person couldn’t see it in themselves. Your father, James, however, had a certain, shall we say, talent for trouble.  A talent, rumor has it, he passed onto you. You’re more like them then you know, Harry. In time you’ll come to see just how much.”

10.  Harry and Hermione Dance (Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows)

This small scene doesn’t appear in the books, and was simply added into the first Deathly Hallow movie as a tension breaker.  But’s so much more than a way to break the tension.  Harry and Hermione are on the run, hiding, and Ron has left them after a rather large argument between him and Harry.  Hermione is depressed because she loves Ron, and Harry is frustrated – not only because his best friend is gone, but because he doesn’t know where to look next for those damn horcruxes.

The radio is playing music, and suddenly Harry, seeing how miserable Hermione is, gets up and makes Hermione dance with him.  She’s reluctant, but she joins in and they end up laughing, and yes, for a moment you think that maybe there’s someone else between the two of them, but you quickly realize that there’s not.  Harry and Hermione are best friends, they’ve been through a lot of crappy stuff together, and they’re going to stick together even though this.  But the absence of Ron is so overwhelming in this scene, and you can see it on both their faces.  It’s a scene that’s both uplifting and heartbreaking (as is everything about Harry Potter, but whatever).

9.  The Yule Ball (Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire)

What I love so much about this movie isn’t the fact that there’s a huge tournament going on at the school, or that Voldemort is back.  It’s that this movie captures what it’s like to start growing up, what it’s like to suddenly be teenagers and have complicated feelings about other people.  And what better way to experience all of that than at a dance!  The Yule Ball showcases teenagers at their best – the dancing, the swooning, the crying – and makes you realize that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a witch or wizard or muggle.  You still all go through the same ups and downs as any other 14-year-old.

“The Yule Ball is of course a chance for us all to – er – let our hair down.”

8.  Harry Rides Buckbeak (Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban)

Things start to change in Harry’s world once he starts his third year.  He’s used to his magic ability now – the wizarding world isn’t a novelty anymore.  He’s becoming a little more confident in himself.  But he’s still a 13-year-old boy, and things are still confusing.  He hates his aunt and uncle enough to walk out on them and catch a ride on the Knight Bus.  He hates the fact that he passes out every time a Dementor comes around.  He hates that he doesn’t have an adult figure to confide in.  And he hates Draco Malfoy more than ever.

When Harry has the opportunity to ride the new hippogriff at school Buckbeak, he’s a little apprehensive.  But as soon as he lifts off he suddenly feels absolute freedom.  For those few minutes, all of his problems disappear and he’s able to just enjoy life the way he knows he’ll never really be able to do.  It’s a liberating moment for him and for us as well, because all we want is for him to feel truly free.

7.  Cedric Dies (Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire)

If Prisoner of Azkaban is considered the one where things began to change, then Goblet of Fire is the one where shiz gets real.  The Triwizard Tournament is a huge event.  Students coming to visit from other wizarding schools is a huge deal.  And the fact that freaking He Who Must Not Be Named has come back is pretty much the end of the world.

And then we meet Cedric.  Sweet, honest, loyal Cedric Diggory, the boy from Hufflepuff who only want to play fair in a tournament rife with danger.  And when he and Harry decide to call it a tie and grab the Triwizard Cup at the end of The Maze together, we think, “Oh, what a great boy, that Cedric Diggory.  I’m really glad they’re both going to win.”

And then they’re swept off to a cemetery by means of a portkey where they run into Wormtail and a fetus-looking Voldemort, who orders Wormtail to do his worst.

“Kill the spare.”

And Cedric dies.

This is the first death that occurs in J.K. Rowling’s books (outside of Harry’s parents, of course, which we only see through memories), and it was a huge deal at the time.  Someone gets murdered in a kids book???  But you know what?  It had to happen.  It’s Voldemort, for Pete’s sake.  This is what he does.  As depressing as it was, Cedric had to die, if only to prove that Voldemort must be defeated at all costs.

“Remember Cedric Diggory”

6.  A Young Tom Riddle (Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince)

We first meet Tom Riddle in Chamber of Secrets as a 16-year-old memory from an old diary who reveals himself to Harry and Ginny as a way of trying to defeat Harry again.  It’s a great introduction to Tom Riddle, who will later become Voldemort, but it doesn’t come close to the young Tom Riddle we meet in Half-Blood Prince.

In a memory collected from Dumbledore’s pensieve, we see Dumbledore meet Tom Riddle for the first time at the orphanage in which he grew up.  He’s 11 years old and – just like Harry – is unaware that he’s a wizard, though he knows there is something different about him.  He’s done some bad things at school, but he’s still innocent.  We know he grows up to be The Dark Lord, but for those fleeting moments at the orphanage you want to believe that he’ll turn out differently.

“I can make animals do what I want without training them. I can make bad things happen to people who are mean to me.  I can make them hurt.”

5.  Snape’s Memory (Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix)

Because they’ve discovered a connection between Harry’s and Voldemort’s minds, Professor Snape has been asked to give Harry lessons in Occlumency, which will protect Harry from Voldemort reading his mind.  Harry fails miserably at first, and Snape keeps on harassing him and belittling him until suddenly Harry gets angry and fights back and finds a way to get into Snape’s mind.

We’re suddenly watching Snape’s memories of Harry’s father James, along with his friends Sirius and Lupin, and how they made fun of Snape as a teenager at Hogwarts, and how they would play tricks on him, including the trick that almost killed Snape.  We get a tiny piece of backstory on Snape that we never imagined, as well as insight to James and how Harry feels about him.  Snape is suddenly fleshed out, and Harry becomes more confused and angry than ever.

“Suddenly Harry’s mind was teeming with memories that were not his — a hook-nosed man was shouting at a cowering woman, while a small dark-haired boy cried in a corner…. A greasy-haired teenager sat alone in a dark bedroom, pointing his wand at the ceiling, shooting down flies…. A girl was laughing as a scrawny boy tried to mount a bucking broomstick.”

4. The Epilogue (Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows)

A lot of people are split on how they feel about the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, about whether they felt it was necessary or not.  Well, I can’t imagine NOT wanting to know how things end up for Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and while we won’t know everything, the epilogue gives us a tiny snippet at the future lives of our beloved threesome.

We see Harry and Ginny, happily married with their children on the first day of Hogwarts for their son Albus Severus, we see Ron and Hermione with their children, and we even see Draco acknowledge Harry at the train station, as they have an understanding now.  Albus is scared to leave, and it’s not until Harry explains to him why he was named after Severus Snape (aka SNAPE), you really get to see how far Harry has come in his life.

“What if I’m in Slytherin?”  The whisper was for his father alone, and Harry knew that only the moment of departure could have forced Albus to reveal how great and sincere that fear was.  Harry crouched down so that Albus’s face was slightly above his own. Alone of Harry’s three children, Albus had inherited Lily’s eyes.  “Albus Severus,” Harry said quietly, so that nobody but Ginny could hear, and she was tactful enough to pretend to be waving to Rose, who was now on the train, “you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.”

3.  Harry and Ron’s Argument (Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows)

After finding the cursed necklace – a horcrux which they must destroy – Ron holds on to it for safe keeping.  But because this necklace is cursed, it drives its owner slowly mad.  Suddenly it takes over Ron, who becomes angry at Harry for leading them on this pointless journey to find the other horcruxes.  All Ron cares about is making sure that his family is dead, and he accuses Harry of not understanding that because his family is already dead.

The dialogue and the emotion between the two best friends is so strong and powerful that it’s almost hard to watch (or read).  Here are two boys who have been together at Hogwarts from the beginning.  They’ve been through deadly wizard’s chess games, a chamber of secrets, a Whomping Willow, and a werewolf attack together, and suddenly you feel this hate coming from Ron, when all you want them to do is hug and make up.  Of course Ron gets angry enough to leave, which makes you realize how evil the power of the dark side can be.  And we’re just left feeling empty inside.

“Well then, I’m sorry, but I don’t quite understand. What part of this isn’t living up to your expectations? Did you think we were gonna be staying in a five-star hotel? Finding a Horcrux every other day? You thought you’d be back with your mum by Christmas?”

I just thought after all this time we would have actually achieved something! I thought you knew what you were doing! I thought Dumbledore would’ve told you something worthwhile! I thought you had a plan!”

“I told you everything Dumbledore told me! And in case you haven’t noticed, we have found a Horcrux already.”

Yeah and we’re about as close to getting rid of it as we are to finding the rest of them, aren’t we?  You know why I listen to that radio every night? To make sure I don’t hear Ginny’s name. Or Fred, or George, or Mum—“

What, you think I’m not listening too? You think I don’t know how this feels?!”

“No, you don’t know how it feels! Your parents are dead! You have no family!”

2.  Dumbledore Dies (Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince)

Obviously this is a huge moment in the books and movies.  Dumbledore is the most important person in Harry’s life, and when he sees Dumbledore dies by Snape’s wand, his world comes crashing down.  It’s a majorly depressing scene in the book, and made even more depressing on film as everyone at Hogwarts holds their lit wands up to light up the sky for their fallen Headmaster.

It’s not fair – everyone he has loved – his parents, Sirius, and Dumbledore – has left him, and now he’s out for blood.  He’s determined to do what he can to finish what Dumbledore started and to finally defeat The Dark Lord.  It was another one those “OMG HE DIES???”” moments that began with Cedric and continued on with Sirius and then multiple others in Deathly Hallows, but it’ll always be Dumbledore’s death that gets us the most.

Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.

SeverusPlease…”

Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore. “Avada Kedavra!”

1.  Snape and Lily (Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows)

Omigosh, this scene.  This scene nearly killed me in the book, and drove me to tears in the movie.  Voldemort has just attacked Snape, and when Harry finds him he’s close to death.  Snape montions for Harry to collect a tear from him, aka a memory, to put into the pensieve.

And then Snape dies.

But that’s not the sad part.  When Harry drops the memory into Dumbledore’s pensieve, we see how Snape became friends with a young Lily Evans before she met James Potter.  We see the two of them start Hogwarts together as best friends, we see them get sorted into different houses (Lily to Gryffindor, Snape to Slytherin), and we see them start to grow apart.  Snape delves deeper into learning about dark arts, Lily meets James.  But Snape never stops loving Lily, even when she marries James and has a baby boy named Harry.

Because of his love for Lily even after her death, Snape has promised to keep Harry safe even though he represents all that he hates.  Everything that Snape has done over the past six years since Harry entered Hogwarts has been for him, all from his love for Lily.  It’s the best scene in all seven books and eight movies, and it shows that Severus Snape is one of the best characters ever written.

Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?”
“For him?” shouted Snape.
Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.”

The Harry Potter series is one the biggest series of all time, and there’s a reason for that.  For J.K. Rowling, the timing was perfect, and something about the books struck a chord with audiences everywhere.  There are hundreds of books out there about witches and wizards, but none of them can come close to the characters, the stories, and the world that Rowling has created, and to her I owe so much.  I will love these books forever.

And trying to pick out only 13 awesome moments of them was REALLY hard to do.

Posted in Geeking Out, Watching Movies

Dear Spidey: Too Soon?

With The Amazing Spider-Man in theaters in less than a week, the same question is probably rolling around in everyone’s (well, at least the nerdy ones like mine) mind:

Is it too soon for a franchise reboot?

I first thought this a year ago when the buzz began and when they made an appearance at Comic-Con.  The first Spider-Man series was still fresh in my mind, as well as everyone else’s, with Spider-Man 3 being released in 2007.  And even though the third movie wasn’t the best one (most people just forget it ever existed), it still seemed like it was a little too soon to try bring back Spidey.

But the more buzz I hear about the upcoming movie starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone – among others – the more excited I get.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the first two Spider-Man movies that Sam Raimi did ten years ago.  I had always been more familiar to Batman, so Spidey was new to me in 2002, and Sam Raimi did an excellent job at introducing him to people like me.

Meet your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

It’s well-known that Sam Raimi wanted to do a fourth Spider-Man movie, even after the flop of the third one, but it became apparent that there just wasn’t enough story there from the first three to warrant a fourth.  Hence the reboot:  Start over fresh when Peter Parker is in high school (Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker had just finished high school) and tries to find out more about his father who left him, and concentrate on his first love, Gwen Stacy (who, in my opinion, is way cooler than Mary Jane because she’s a science major and super smart, as opposed to MJ who wants to be an actress).

Way smarter than you.

Like I said, I was a little iffy at first.  The one thing that kept it on my radar was the fact that Marc Webb (haha, no pun intended?) was directing the new reboot.  Marc Webb, for those of you who don’t know, made his directorial debut with 500 Days of Summer, which is an amazing movie (if you haven’t, PLEASE PLEASE SEE IT), and I knew that this Spidey movie would be different than the others because of what Marc Webb can do with character development.

Yep.  “Development”

I’ve heard from various sources that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are “stellar” in this movie, which is good to hear.  Tobey Maguire was, you know, fine as Peter Parker.  Meh, I say.  Kirsten Dunst isn’t my favorite person in the world to watch on film (except when she’s playing a child vampire), but I loved her hair in the first movie (not in the second, because the bright red from the first was now muted red…blah).

Blah.

And for those of you people who are totally against the reboot, let’s sit back and talk about Batman for a moment.  The original Batman franchise had two good movies, both directed by Tim Burton in 1989 and 1992 (Batman and Batman Returns).  Then Jerry Bruckheimer took over and sort of ruined things for everyone (Batman Forever and Batman and Robin).

That all ended in 1997.

And then someone had the brilliant idea of bringing Batman back from the dead.  Instead of basing him off the Batman that Warner Brothers had created in 1989, they turned it into on origin story (and who doesn’t love origin stories??) and based it off the classic comic book Batman: Year One.  They got an amazing director, Christopher Nolan (Memento) to take over, and they cast Christian Bale as Batman (and if you’ve ever read this blog before, you may be aware of my feelings for Mr. Bale).

A whole lot of awesomeness.

Batman Begins came out in 2005, and seven years later this Batman reboot is considered to be one of the best franchises ever.  Its sequel The Dark Knight made a kajillion dollars and got Heath Ledger a (posthumous) Academy Award.  The final film of the series, The Dark Knight Rises, opens in theaters next month and will no doubt make just as much money and be just as awesome.

I’m not saying this new Spider-Man reboot is going to equal the success and awesomeness of Christopher Nolan’s Batman, but it deserves to have a chance at it.  Because if you get a movie that has great storytelling, great characters, great effects, and great heart within it, you have a great movie.  It won’t take away anything from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, it can only just expand on what’s already great.

Now we’ll just have to wait and see what Zack Snyder does with a second attempt at a Superman reboot…

Posted in Catching TV, Geeking Out, Watching Movies

Comic-Con 2012 – A Wish List

With Comic-Con 2012 less than a month away, there’s lot of speculation of who and what is going to be there.  Which studios will bring their most anticipated movies of the coming year?  Which celebrities are going to make an appearance?  How early am I going to have to get up to possibly see the one panel for which I’ve been waiting a lifetime?

We’ll have all these answers in the days leading up to the convention, but for now all we can do is wait and play the guessing game.  It’s a good way to get ready and excited for Comic-Con – as long as you don’t get your hopes up about a certain person who will most likely never make an appearance at Comic-Con.

Yes, I’m talking about you, Christopher Nolan.

For those of you unfamiliar to Comic-Con, read my blog post from last year.  Or here’s a quick run-down for you:  Comic-Con is a four-day convention that takes place in San Diego that celebrates the popular arts: movies (mostly of the sci-fi/fantasy genre), TV (same deal), comic books, pop art, and CosPlay.  Movie studios, television studios, artists, and writers come together and put on panels for the lucky 100,000+ people who get to attend Comic-Con to show off their hottest upcoming releases, or to talk about what we as an audience love the most: the popular arts.

It’s an exhilarating, tiring, and exciting event that my husband and I have attended for the past four years (minus the one year I was due to give birth on opening day), and each year is different.  But will still manage to have an awesome time on practically zero hours of sleep and live to tell the tale (seriously, if you ever go, don’t plan on getting more than three hours of sleep a night). 

Of course the one thing that most people anticipate is the schedule for Hall H.  Hall H is the room that is mostly reserved for the big movie studio panels because it holds the most people – 6500 – but don’t let that number fool you into thinking you can just come and go into the hall as you please.  If you want to get a spot for ANY of the panels on that particular day, you have to get there early.  REALLY EARLY.  We’re talking “before the sun comes up” early.

There are actually people wrapped around this whole body of water…just waiting.

So until the official Comic-Con schedule is released, here is my official Comic-Con 2012 Wish List.

The Hobbit Panel

The word on the nerdy streets of San Diego is that Warner Bros. Studio has reserved a three-hour block for Saturday.  Do you know what that means?  THE EFFING HOBBIT.

There are already rumors that this is going to happen, given that it’s WB’s biggest movie this year and that Peter Jackson hinted about it when he made an appearance last year.  The Lord of the Rings movies are my favorite movies of all-time, and to see be able to see the cast of its sequel will be huge for me.  I’m serious.  There might be tears.

Iron Man 3 Panel

Getting to see Robert Downey, Jr. in any panel is pretty awesome (I saw him at the panel for Sherlock Holmes three years ago), and after the insane success of the first two Iron Man movies and The Avengers, everyone is anticipating a huge panel.

Also, since I’ve missed the two other Iron Man panels because of pregnancy or other CC events, I would love to see Gwyneth Paltrow make an appearance.  Maybe I’ll ask her a question about GOOP and what kind of organic food she recommends I eat.

Star Trek 2 Panel

 I’ve read two conflicting rumors about J.J. Abrams upcoming sequel:  a) Star Trek 2 is going to be big at Comic-Con, and b) Paramount isn’t coming, therefore no ST2 panel.  I hope the first rumor is true, because I freaking loved the first movie (I’m not even a Trekkie), and I love J.J. Abrams.  I got to see him and Joss Whedon speak together at CC two years ago, and I’ve decided that J.J. is pretty much all kinds of awesome (and okay, I might have a total nerdy crush on him, but whatevs).  So I would love to see him talk about the sequel, I would love to see the cast (Chris Pine), and I would LOVE to see footage.

So please, Paramount, make your presence known at Comic-Con this year and BRING STAR TREK 2!!!

The Legend of Korra Panel

Since this is my new favorite show of the year – and a sister show to another fave Avatar: The Last Airbender – I would love to see it make another appearance at Comic-Con.  The show came to the convention last year to a sold-out panel, and it wasn’t due to air for another year.

But now that the show is on and it’s completely awesome, I would love to see them come back, along with all the voice actors this time.  And possibly a fire-ferret.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 Panel

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, and shut up.  It’s about 99% sure that Twilight will be there for their final film this year.  They’ve never missed a Comic-Con, and this is their big finale.

That being said, I’ve never gone to any of the Twilight panels.  We’ve always been at a different panel during that time, and besides, the Comic-Con Twi-hards kinda freak me out.  But I would like to experience it just one time, and this is my last chance to do that.  And maybe Jacob will take his shirt off…?

The Vampire Diaries Panel

Okay, here’s where the real “wishing” comes into play.  I wish I could be in two places at once.  I know for sure that The Vampire Diaries will be at the con this year.  It’s already been announced.

However, as what happens a lot at the con, it’s during the same time as another panel…that panel most likely to be The Hobbit.  And I’m sorry…Stefan, Damon, I love you…but I cannot miss the chance to see a bunch of Dwarves and Elves and Kiwis on stage.  I’m sorry.

Doctor Who Panel

Last year the Doctor Who panel was on Sunday, and for the past four years we’ve never stayed at Comic-Con through Sunday.  Sundays used to be the quiet, non-eventful, do some last-minute shopping days that never got much attention.  But now Sundays are becoming big in their own right, proving that last year when the Doctor (and Castle and Glee) showed up.

No word on whether they’ll be there this year, but hopes are high (as are the rumors).  And since it’s the last season for companions Amy and Rory (I’m crying just thinking about it), I’m sure they’ll want to make one last appearance.

The Dark Knight Rises

Yeah…it’s never gonna happen.

And just for fun…

Firefly Tenth Anniversary Panel

Because you never know.

Posted in Listening to Music, Watching Movies

The Anticipation of “Les Miserables”

If you love movie trailers as much as I do, then you should know that there’s an app for that!  It’s Apple’s iTunes Trailers, and it has every current and upcoming movie trailer on it that you could possibly want to see.  I check it about once a week to see if there’s anything new that’s been added, just so I can keep up with the times.

This week’s Trailer of the Week:  Les Miserables.

Like many other middle school choir geeks, I had a crush on the little Broadway musical Les Miserables.  I was first introduced to it when I was in choir (altos represent) and we sang a Les Miserables medley.  I immediately fell in love with the songs, and after we watched a video of the stage musical, I immediately decided that Les Miserables was the best thing ever.

And like every other 13-year-old, semi-Emo and slightly misunderstood girl, I identified with the character Eponine.  She was, after all, the girl who loved a boy who loved another girl (damn that annoying, prissy Cosette!!), and she got to sing the best song in the whole show, “On My Own”.

le weep sigh

*side note:  One of the first clips I ever saw of Glee before the show came out was of Lea Michele singing “On My Own” into a hairbrush while looking in the mirror, and I thought, Holy s***, that was me when I was 13!!!

Of course had I known that in the book Eponine was described as “a pale, puny, meagre creature, with a hoarse voice like “a drunken galley slave’s” due to it being “roughened by brandy and by liquors.” She now wears dirty and tattered clothing that consists of a chemise and a skirt.  She also has missing teeth, mangled hair, bony shoulders, heavy brooding drooping eyes, and a premature-aging face with only a trace of beauty lingering.

Yowsas.

Anyway, I’ve seen many different versions of this musical. – The first big one was in celebration of the 10th Anniversary, which I had on video, and starred “The Dream Cast” of the show which, if you know musical theater, is amazing: Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean, Philip Quast as Inspector Javert, Michael Ball as Marius Pontmercy, Lea Salonga as Éponine, Judy Kuhn as Cosette, Ruthie Henshall as Fantine…the nerdy, drool-worthy list goes on.

I got to see the musical on stage about five years ago in Los Angeles, and even though I don’t remember anyone who starred in it, I remember getting all emotional during the songs.  I felt like an Emo adolescent all over again.

And the most recent version I’ve seen was the 25th Anniversary concert that aired on PBS in 2010.  I was so excited to see Lea Salonga back in it, this time as Fantine (only she’ll always be Eponine to me), and was a little surprised to see Nick Jonas (yep, a freaking JONAS BROTHER) as Marius.

It’s the truth.

He wasn’t amazing in the role – you could tell he doesn’t exactly have a voice that can reach the back row of the theater – but he did what he could with it, and you could tell he was really trying.  And I guess better him than his brother Joe…

You may be surprised that a film based on the musical has never been made.  There was a 1998 film starring Liam Neeson and Claire Danes that was based on the Victor Hugo book, but since there was no music, I had no interest in seeing it.  Apparently it’s hard to make and market a movie that contains 90% singing and 10% dialogue.

But after Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Baker Street were made into successful musical films (well, I thought they were successful), it seemed that a musical adaptation of Les Miserables as a film was just around the corner – even though one had been stuck in DEVELOPMENT HELL since 1988.

The movie – finally to be released this December (Merry Christmas, fellow musical nerds) – stars a handful of awesomeness:

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean

Russell Crowe as Javert

Anne Hathaway as Fantine

Amanda Seyfried as Cosette

Eddie Redmayne as Marius

Samantha Barks as Eponine

Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier

I know that Hugh Jackman can sing, I have no doubt that Russell Crowe can sing, and Helena Bonham Carter showed just how crazy talented she is when she starred in Sweeny Todd.  I have no idea who Eddie Redmayne is except for the fact that he starred in a bunch of British films and British TV movies and used to model for Burberry (in other words, he’s the most British person in the world).

British?  You betcha.

Samantha Barks played Eponine in the 25th Anniversary Conert – yep, she got to pretend she was in love with a Jonas Brother!  And while I will always be a little biased towards Lea Salonga, I thought Samantha Barks did a really good job – she looked the part (well, not the book’s description of the part, of course) and she had a great voice.  I’m really glad they cast her in the movie, too, because the part almost went to – wait for it – Taylor Swift.

And then we have the diary-writing Princess herself, Anne Hathaway, as Fantine.  Here’s how the book describes this character:

“Her splendid teeth had evidently been endowed by God with one function – that of laughing. Her thick blond tresses, inclined to wave, and easily escaping from their confinement, obligated her to fasten them continually. Her rosy lips babbled with enchantment. The corners of her mouth, turned up voluptuously, seemed to encourage audacity; but her long, shadowy eyelashes were cast discreetly down towards the lower part of her face as if to check its festive tendencies. Her whole toilette was indescribably harmonious and enchanting. Fantine was beautiful, without being too conscious of it. She possessed two types of beauty – style and rhythm. Style is the force of the ideal, rhythm is its movement.”

And here’s what she looks like in the movie:

Okay, granted this is towards the end of her life when her health has deteriorated and she’s about to die.  But the Fantines I’ve seen in the past have always looked rather normal in the time of their death.  This Fantine scares the crap out of me.

Anne Hathaway also has the challenge of singing the other uber-popular song from the musical, “I Dreamed a Dream”.  This is what she is singing during the trailer, the only audio you hear as you see various clips from the film.  I’ve heard Anne Hathaway sing before in the movie Emma Enchanted, and I know she can carry a tune.  But I’ve heard people like Judy Kuhn, Lea Salonga, Idina Menzel, and Lea Michele blow this song away.  The bar is quite high.

And for some reason I still picture Emmy Rossum in this role.  But I guess I’ll have to wait and see how Catwoman does.

Along with The Hobbit, this is the other movie for which I’m so excited this holiday season.  And based on the cast and the teaser trailer thus far, I think it’s going to be a good one.  And the soundtrack is going to be killer.

Let’s just hope they don’t turn Cats into a movie now.

Posted in The Awesome 13, Watching Movies

The Awesome 13 – Disney Animation

In honor of my daughter’s first day of preschool, I decided to make a list of my favorite Disney animated movies.  I’m a huge fan of Disney animation, much to the joy of my daughter, who obviously benefits from my animated movie collection that was started long before she was born.  So let’s take a look back at the 13 movies that have stayed with me all these years that I can now share with my daughter – and you.

13.  Pocahontas (1995)

Say all you want about this movie being historically inaccurate.  I don’t care.  All I want is a good story paired with great animation and great songs, and I can get that when I watch Pocahontas.  First off, Pocahontas was drawn by animator Glen Keane, who’s like the greatest Disney animator of all-time.  You have that on top of the beautiful scenery  – seriously, the colors are amazing in this movie – and two awesome songs sung by Judy Kuhn, Christian Bale as the voice of Thomas, and a raccoon named Meeko, and we all know how cute raccoons are.  Oh, and Mel Gibson?  Yeah, he might be kind of crazy as a person, but he does a great job at voicing John Smith.  I can totally see why a 12-year-old would be in love with him.*

*I don’t think Pocahontas was really 12 years old in the movie.  But in “real life”, that’s how old she would have been when she met John Smith.**

**creepy

12.  Mulan (1998)

When this movie came out, Disney was nearing the end of the decade that saw some of their greatest movies released.  And although it didn’t receive as much recognition as its predecessors, Mulan is a kick-ass movie.  A girl chopping off all her pretty hair to disguise herself as a boy just so she can fight in the war so her dad doesn’t have to?  Awesome.  How many of you would do that?  Not I.  But deep down Mulan is still a total girl and develops this crush on hunky Shang, and it’s kind of funny to see Shang struggling with his feelings because it’s totally obvious that he feels something for Mulan, but he thinks she’s a boy named Ping (awkward).  Anyway, Shang is pissed (but probably totally relieved) when he finds out that “Ping” is really a girl, but decides after Mulan totally saves his butt that he can’t be mad at her because he’s in love with her.  I guess he’s okay with Mulan wearing the pants in the family.

11.  Peter Pan (1953)

Peter Pan is another one of those stories that I’ve always loved, and this movie is no exception.  This movie was made during the time when Mary Blair worked for Disney, where she designed some of Disney’s best-looking movies.  Sexual tension is all over the place, what with Wendy and Tinker Bell both wanting The Boy Who Won’t Grow Up, and all those mermaids who obviously have history with Peter (hello, they’re naked and they try to kill Wendy).  Tinker Bell is really the only interesting character in this movie, a tiny fairy (or pixie?  What is she?) suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder with a tendency to have temper tantrums.  No wonder little girls love her so much!

10.  Hercules (1997)

Sometimes a Disney movie doesn’t have to be about a princess to be good.  Hercules is a good example of that.  I was going into college when this movie came out, which apparently made me “too old to see animated Disney movies in theaters” (whatever), but when I saw this movie on video (seriously, it was a VHS), I thought it was hilarious.  The funniest one I had seen since Aladdin.  And the heroine, Megara (her friends call her Meg – that is they would if she had any friends) is a total bitch, which is so refreshing amongst a sea of polite and proper princesses.  The animation is totally stylized, which is an artistic way of saying that the human characters look nothing like actual humans, but since this movie is about Greek (well, Roman if you want to get super technical) mythology, the style works.  The songs are also super catchy and will stay in your head all day after just one listen.

9.  The Lion King (1994)

It took me a year after its release to finally see this movie because thanks to movies like Benji and Old Yeller, I hate animal movies.  Something bad always happens in animal movies.  And The Lion King is no exception.  SPOILERS:  Mufasa dies.  His own brother Scar kills him and blames it on Simba.  Hey…that sounds a little like…Shakespeare!  Hamlet, to be exact.  Cue total appreciation for said animal movie.  Seriously, though, The Lion King made a billion trillion dollars at the box office because it is a fantastic movie, despite the fact that something bad happens.  And the music is awesome – don’t listen to Sarah Palin when she tells you to keep your kids away from the movie because “a gay man wrote the music”.*

*Actually, don’t listen to Sarah Palin at all.

8.  Tangled (2010)

Can I just start out by saying that I love this movie?  When I found out that Glen Keane, animator extraordinaire, was going to direct the movie, I had no doubt it was going to be fantastic.  Mandy Moore as the speaking and singing voice of Rapunzel?  Love her.  Zachary Levi as the speaking and singing voice of Flynn Rider?  Swoon.  And a tiny green chameleon named Pascal?  Adorbs.  And you know what?  The movie looks amazing.  Rapunzel’s unnecessarily long hair looks like real hair.  And yes, while the songs might not be iconic like other princess songs, they’re not what’s driving the movie forward.  It’s the relationships – Rapunzel and her creepy kidnapping psycho mother, Rapunzel and swoony Flynn, and Rapunzel and her miserable parents who make me cry every time I see them release those depressing lanterns.

7.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

I think it’s safe to say that none of us were alive when this movie came out.  Seriously, this movie is 75 years old!  And it still stands on its own today.  It doesn’t matter that the Prince has absolutely no purpose in this movie other than scaring the crap out of Snow while she’s singing into the well and then kidnapping her from the dwarfs at the end of the movie.  It doesn’t matter that becoming the housemaid of seven dirty little men is somewhat disturbing.  What matters is that this movie is wonderful and timeless and horribly frightening, namely any scene involving the Evil Queen.  I’m serious, have you actually paid attention during those Queen scenes?  How a kid can watch this and not have horrible nightmares involving skulls and blood and ravens and apples is beyond me.

6.  The Little Mermaid (1989)

The fact that I saw this movie in the theater when I was ten years old makes me feel really old.  Since Snow White sort of owns the title of “The One that Started It All”, I guess we can say that The Little Mermaid is “The One that Restarted It All”.  It was the first movie of Disney’s “Power Decade”, as I like to call it, and when you compare it to the Disney movies that were coming out in the 70s and 80s, you can see why.  The animation is fresh, the songs are powerful (I still tear up when I hear “Part of Your World”), and Ariel is a ginger!  And yeah, she can kind of get whiny every now and then, but cut her some slack – she’s only 16, she can’t walk, let alone get her driver’s license, her sisters are stupid, her only friend is a guppy, and she has to wear actual seashells over her boobs every day.  I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty whiny, too.  But you know what?  It all works out for her.  She gets the guy based on her looks and the fact that she combs her hair with a fork.  Awesome.

5.  Aladdin (1992)

If you think about it, Aladdin was a pretty ballsy movie to make.  You mean we just fought in a war in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and Iraq and Iran, and you want to make a movie that takes place in a fictional Arabian place called Agrabah?  Whatever, let’s do it!  And thank God they did, because Aladdin is awesome.  Some of my favorite Disney songs are from this movie, including one of my favorite Disney scenes ever (MAGIC CARPET RIDE!!!!), Genie makes me laugh out loud every time he opens his blue mouth, and yes, I admit, I kind of still have a crush on Aladdin.  Come on, he’s the boy from the wrong side of the tracks!  He’s got a pet monkey, for Pete’s sake!  What’s not to love?  Oh, yeah, and he can totally make wishes for you on his “magic lamp”.  Which is code for…“magic lamp”.

4.  Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of my favorite books, it only makes sense that I love the Disney movie as well.  And I do.  A lot.  The story itself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but then again, it’s not supposed to (unless you’re on drugs, in which case it all seems perfectly normal to you).  But that’s why the movie is so much fun.  Anything can happen in Wonderland.  Girls can shrink when they drink some unknown, most likely poisonous substance.  They can grow taller when they eat a mysterious piece of cake.  They can talk to a hooka-smoking caterpillar who can make freaking letters with his smoke, man!  And she can totally crash a tea party being hosted by a Mad Hatter, even though to this day no one really knows what a “hatter” is.  But I love all the songs, I love the animation (again, Mary Blair), and most of all I love Alice.  Because even though she’s a little screwy and says things like “contrarywise”, she’s a girl like all the rest of us and just wants to go home and listen to her sister read her really boring books with no pictures in them.

3.  Cinderella (1950)

Cinderella is probably the most famous princess of all time (excluding Diana), and that’s probably due to the whole underdog story she’s got going on.  Poor and abused by her horrible witch stepmother and her ugly witch stepsisters, all we want for the little cinder girl is to find the happiness and true love she deserves.  With the help of her “where-the-hell-did-you-come-from” Fairy Godmother, she ends up with a new ride and a new getup which takes her to the ball where she, of course, meets Prince Charming (no relation to Snow White’s Prince Charming…at least I don’t think so…maybe once removed?).  She seems to like the guy, even though she’s only with him for a couple of hours, but apparently that’s enough time to want to marry him.  And luckily Cinderella is the only one in the land to wear a size 5, or else she would have had some competition during that whole “if the shoe fits” fiasco.  Anyway, the movie is wonderful and one of the most realistic-looking Disney animated movies, and the songs are some of the most memorable.  Because who doesn’t love songs about dreams and wishes and hearts and nightingales and bibbity bobbity boos?

2.  Beauty and the Beast (1991)

The one thing that Beauty and the Beast can say that no other animated movie can is that it has been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.  And you want to know why it was nominated for Best Picture?  Because it’s flipping awesome, that’s why.  In Belle, millions of brown-haired, book-reading girls found their heroine, an offbeat girl who’s devoted to her father and simply wanting more than her provincial life.  She gives up her life to save her father from imprisonment and in turn has to be a prisoner herself at the castle of The Beast.  And if you don’t think that Beast is even the tiniest bit of sexy, then you must be watching the wrong movie.  He’s grouchy and kind of mean and, well, really hairy, but deep down he’s loving and caring and a blond-haired, blue-eyed Prince.  This movie has some of the best characters – main and supporting (they’re dishes!) – and the best songs of any other animated movie.  And the final scene?  Ah-maze-ing.  Seriously.  Beautiful, magical, and tearful.

CAN YOU GUESS WHICH ONE IS LEFT???

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1.  Sleeping Beauty (1959)

After all the Disney animated movies I’ve seen in my 33 years, Sleeping Beauty is HANDS DOWN my favorite.  Why?  Well, let’s see.  It’s gorgeous to look at.  Each frame – frames that were hand-painted in letterbox (which was waaay ahead of it’s time) – is like a master work of art that should be hanging in a gallery.  The music is beautiful, thanks to Tchaikovsky, who wrote the music for the ballet years before the movie was a blink in Disney’s beady eye.  The three fairies are hilarious.  Seriously, they’re like The Golden Girls minus the slutty one (Blanche?)  The villain, Maleficent, is the most evil person in the history of the world (well, probably not as bad as Hitler).  And Prince Phillip – yes, he actually has a name – is the best Disney prince that was ever created.  He actually had a personality, which was a first as far as princes went, he rode a horse like a stud, he was funny, and he was uber romantic.  Look at all the crap he had to go through just to get to the girl he loved!  And then he kisses her even though she’s been sleeping for a hundred years and probably has the worse morning breath ever.  So yeah, Prince Phillip – and Sleeping Beauty – are tops in my book.

Any thoughts?  Am I cruelly leaving out any movies that are near and dear to your heart?  I wanna hear it!

Posted in Learning Things, Living Life, Watching Movies

Itsy-Bitsy Evilness

I know this is going to sound like a total cliché, but I hate spiders.  Like, seriously HATE them.  I’m not a killing person, but if I see a spider, I WILL MURDER IT.

I don’t care how cute it may appear.

Spiders, or arachnids (meaning eight-legged monster) are the one thing that will cause me physical paralysis.  I’m serious, when I see a spider – doesn’t matter what size – I will not be able to move.  For the first few moments of contact, all I can do is pray that it will suddenly disappear before my eyes.

They never do.

When I’m finally able to move, I look for the nearest thing to me with which I can throw at the spider.  It has to be within reach, because if I take my eyes off of the spider for even one second, that sucker will be off and running, and for all I know it’s jumped onto my face and is ready to kill me.

ATTACK!

As soon as I find something to kill it with, I will do whatever it takes to make sure the job gets done.  If that means breaking a window because of the shoe I have to throw at it (true story), then so be it.  Because if you expect me to go to bed with a rogue spider loose in the house, you’d be WRONG.

And even worse is the phenomenon I like to call Zombie Spider, where after you’re 100% sure you’d killed that spider to the point where it doesn’t even closely resemble a spider anymore, it’s suddenly gone.  Like, the thing freaking GOT UP AND WALKED AWAY even though it doesn’t have any legs anymore.

Thought you killed me, eh?

I don’t know where this fear of spiders stems from – it’s not like I’ve had a horrifying, life-altering incident with a spider in my lifetime.  But I know that millions of other people share this same phobia, so I know I’m not alone.

So, why am I suddenly writing about spiders?  Well, I was planning on doing a post about some of the scariest movies I’ve seen, and then realized that only one movie causes paralyzing fear in me.  I’m not saying other movies haven’t – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre , for example, remains to this day as the only movie that has ever made me scream out loud.  The Blair Witch Project still makes me check every corner of the house.  And The Strangers actually made me somewhat sick to my stomach because it was so uncomfortably horrifying.

But the movie that combines all those fears into one 90-minute terror fest contains just one word:

Arachnophobia.

HORROR.

First off, let me just state that when this movie came out in 1990, it was marketed as a comedy.  A COMEDY!!!!  Like deadly spiders who bite your hand while you’re eating popcorn is something to laugh about???  I hope they got hate mail from people who couldn’t sleep at night anymore because they thought they were seeing a FREAKING COMEDY.

The premise of the movie is simple:  a new family moves to town, and the dad (Ross) becomes the small town’s new doctor.  Then suddenly all these people start dying, and while the townspeople don’t know what’s causing the deaths, we as an audience know because the film actually makes us watch these spiders attack these poor victims.  We know these spiders are deadly because we saw them kill at the beginning of the movie down in the Amazon forest, and then saw one of the spiders get shipped off to America, thus procreating an entire army of deadly spiders.

All because of this idiot.

Of course all the people dying just happened to be patients of Ross, so everyone thinks he’s some kind of witch doctor.  He starts to think these people were killed by spider bites, and then we find out that he’s more scared of spiders than anyone else in the world.

Of all the towns in the world to become a doctor…

The final battle of the movie comes down to Ross and the Spider Queen, who’s a little pissed off that he’s trying to kill all her kids.  But she has to realize that her kids have taken over the ENTIRE HOUSE, thus making escape impossible for Ross’s family.  This scene is horrifying for any arachnophobe to watch, because the spiders are EVERYWHERE.  They’re coming out of the walls, they’re covering the floor, they’re piling out of the bathroom sink, and as an audience we’re just sitting there because a) we can’t move due to extreme terror and b) we’re afraid we’ve peed our pants and don’t want the whole world to know.

And then just as we think the world itself has ended and spiders now rule the earth, Ross – with some help from John Goodman, who plays a bad-ass exterminator – destroys the Queen and her disgusting egg sack and everything burns, and the spiders are gone forever.

Ross and his family move back to San Francisco because it took a deadly spider attack to make them realize that they like city life way better, and they’d much rather die in an earthquake then be covered by 5000 spiders.  And I don’t blame them one bit.