Saturday, December 28, 2013

Winter Holiday Movies


In Bruges- It just happens to take place during Christmas in picturesque Bruges, Belgium. 2 hitmen wait for their boss on the dl in Bruges after a hit gone wrong. Comedy. 
Starring: Colin Farrell, Ralph Feinnes

Love, Actually- One of the best Romantic Comedies & Ensemble films I've seen, let alone a fantastic adult Xmas film. Set in London, a group of interconnected lives during the 6 weeks up to Xmas, each story showcasing love in all its forms. 
Starring: Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, etc.

Gremlins-Comedy Horror film about a man who adopts an unusual pet named Gizmo with some very important rules about care-taking. If those rules are broken, Gremlins roam the earth. Takes place on Christmas Eve.
Starring: Pheobe Cates

How The Grinch Stole Christmas  1966 &(2000)

Winter Solstice

Happy Feet
Animated film about a penguin with the gift of dancing. Incredible singing by the late, great Brittany Murphy
Also voiced by: Elijah Wood & Robin Williams

Winter Solstice 

In this suburban drama, a widower (LaPaglia) confronts his older son's (Stanford) decision to leave home and his younger son's self-destructive behavior.



New Yr's Eve

When Harry Met Sally
Possibly the greatest New Year's Eve scene of all: After years as friends, Harry (Billy Crystal) finally declares his love for Sally (Meg Ryan). The best quote? ''It's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve,'' Harry says. ''I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.''

Bridget Jones's Diary
Containing one of the best New Yr's scenes ever, with Zellweger drunkingly singing All By Myself and vowing to not to all the things she has done in the past, making all kinds of New Year's resolutions she couldn't possibly keep & keeping a diary of her accomplishments & setbacks. This Academy Award nominated Renée Zellweger romp is perfect NYE material: It's all about fresh starts, clean slates, and self-improvement.

Someone Like You
It's romantic comedy 101: New Year's Eve rolls around and our heroine (the plucky Ashley Judd) realizes her feelings for a platonic pal (Hugh Jackman). She rushes out to meet him — but will she make it in time for a countdown kiss? Ok so that's the only New Yr's scene, but this movie is so funny, endearing, & real for romantic comedy standars that it should still be on your watch list. 

Sex and the City: The Movie
Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie Bradshaw) rushes to Miranda's apartment for a New Year's bonding session. She even (gasp!) takes the subway. Now that's a good friend. Again the only NYr's scene, but this film is sooo amazing & such a perfect way to round out a truly fantastic, tv-altering series. 

No plans this evening? Why not pull off a major bank heist or watch a pre-Chicago Catherine Zeta Jones wiggle, writhe, & conjoin her body around all kinds a red laser beams.


An American Tail
The sweet story of Jewish mice immigrating to America to escape the 1885 pogroms by the Cossacks (cruel cats), is a classic for the holiday. The brave young Fievel Mousekevitz even gets his signature blue hat as a Hanukkah present from his father, who explains the hat has been in the family for three generations. 

 A parody of 1970s exploitation movies, this Hanukkah even has Andy Dick playing an insanely evil Santa Claus.

A Rugrats Chanukah
As delightful for all ages as a really good jelly donut, the world's most adventurous babies quest to save the meaning of Hanukkah. Through a misunderstanding of adult-speak, they think they're out to vanquish the "meany of Chanukah". You can find this on Netflix find searching & adding Rugrats Holiday Special which includes Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, & Kwanzaa

Eight Crazy Nights
Adam Sandler voices Davey Stone, an alcoholic with a criminal record, is sentenced to community service under the supervision of an elderly referee. Davey is then faced with trying to reform and abandon his bad habits.


The Black Candle 

documentary film that uses Kwanzaa as a vehicle to explore and celebrate the African-American experience. Narrated by Maya Angelou

you can find this on Netflix find searching & adding Rugrats Holiday Special which includes Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, & Kwanzaa

Winter Themed Movies

Image of Frozen
Three skiers are stranded on a chairlift and forced to make life-or-death choices that prove more perilous than staying put and freezing to death.
Director: Adam Green
Image of Smilla's Sense of Snow
Based on Peter Hoeg's bestseller, this film is set in snowy Copenhagen where a small boy is found dead after he fell off a roof.
Director: Bille August
Stars: Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne

Image of The Grey
After their plane crashes in Alaska, six oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step. 
Director: Joe Carnahan
Image of Groundhog Day
A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again. 
Director: Harold Ramis
Image of Misery1990
A famous novelist is "rescued" from a car crash by an obsessed fan. 
Director: Rob Reiner
Image of Alive1993
Uruguayan rugby team stranded in the snow swept Andes are forced to use desperate measures to survive after a plane crash. 
Director: Frank Marshall
Image of Ravenous
Captain John Boyd's promotion stations him at a fort where a rescued man tells a disturbing tale of cannibalism. 
Director: Antonia Bird
Image of Serendipity2001
A couple reunite years after the night they first met, fell in love, and separated, convinced that one day they'd end up together.
Director: Peter Chelsom

Holiday Movies in theaters now:

A Madea Christmas
Black Nativity
A Christmas Candle
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty- At least one of his fantasies involves snow-with him scaling a snowy mountain. 
47 Ronin- I saw a scene in the trailer with snow.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

2014 Indie Spirit Award Nominees & Winners

Winners  announced March 14th

Winners are in BOLD

My picks for winners are in PINK

Best Director


J.C. Chandor for All Is Lost (2013)
Jeff Nichols for Mud (2012)
Alexander Payne for Nebraska (2013)

Best First Feature


Best Female Lead


Brie Larson for Short Term 12 (2013)

Best Male Lead

Best Supporting Female


June Squibb for Nebraska (2013)

Best Supporting Male


Will Forte for Nebraska (2013)

Best Screenplay


Best First Screenplay


Nebraska (2013): Bob Nelson

Best Cinematography


Best International Film


Gloria (2013/II): Sebastián Lelio

Best Documentary


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Food for Thought: Thanksgiving & Foodie Films

Thanksgiving Movies
Son in Law (1993)
1993-Comedy-Plot: Sweet home town girl meets Shore her freshman year at college in the big city. She's changed fast & wants to go home for Thanksgiving showing of her new image with Shore in tow. It does deal with coming home for Thanksgiving from the big city. This is one of the few Pauly Shore movies I can stand thanks to an awesome 90's fashion makeover, the charming Carla Gugino, and the occasionally sweet Shore. 

The House of Yes (1997)1997 Dark Comedy
Plot: An estranged brother returns home for Thanksgiving with a surprise fiance, much to the chagrin of his mother & crazy Jackie O obsessed twin sister.
Parker Posey at her best. Intelligent, hilarious & inappropriate with an amazing cast. Even Tori Spelling is amazing. 

Pieces of April (2003)2003 Comedy
Plot: The bad seed of the family (Holmes) wants to prove her new found adulthood by cooking her family Thanksgiving meal. Everything goes wrong.
This is the oft rare indie comedy without a depressing ending. 

The Ice Storm (1997)1997 Drama
Plot: Set in 1970's suburbia, 2 dysfunctional families decide to have Thanksgiving together and all their secrets come out.
This is a haunting, beautifully acted film directed by the acclaimed Ang Lee. Sometimes hard to watch, but ultimately thought-provoking and sometimes inappropriately funny.

planes-trains-automobiles-original1993 Comedy
Plot: Morticia gets pregnant and Uncle Fester marries a black widow.
Black Widow (Joan Cusack) sends Pugsley & Wed off to summer camp to get rid of them. My favorite scene of this surprisingly superior sequel is the Thanksgiving pageant, where Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) plays a vengeful Native American who decides to go off script. Won't give anything away. 

Plot:  Depressed man (Keanu Reeves) is referred to a very special woman (Charlize Theron) who takes a month to "nurse" anyone back to mental health. This is November.
Super sappy, but somehow I remember liking it.  

1973 Animated
Plot: Join Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang for this Thanksgiving double feature. In A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Chuck tries to host a traditional holiday feast. In the Mayflower Voyagers, the Peanuts reenact the first Thanksgiving. In the Emmy-winning first feature, dinner turns into a disaster when clueless Snoopy and Woodstock serve toast and popcorn as the main dish, but Marcie steps in and saves the holiday.
I love the Peanuts & I love Snoopy. Nuff said. 

Tower-heist-movie-poster-hi-res-01-405x600.jpg2011 Comedy
Tower Heist follows Josh (Ben Stiller), Charlie (Casey Affleck) and Enrique Dev'reaux (Michael Peña), employees of an exclusive apartment building who lose their pensions in the Ponzi scheme of Wall Street businessman Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). The group enlist the aid of criminal Slide (Eddie Murphy), bankrupt businessman Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) and another employee of the apartment building, Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), to break into Shaw's apartment and steal back their money while avoiding the FBI agent in charge of his case, Claire Denham (Téa Leoni). So why is this a Thanksgiving movie? Because a court hearing for Shaw has been scheduled for Thanksgiving during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to avoid publicity, and Shaw will go free. Josh and his team decide to break into Shaw's apartment during the parade.

Foodie Films & TV

Image of Ratatouille 2007 Animated 
Plot: With dreams of becoming a chef, a culinary genius in the form of a rat, makes an unusual alliance with a young kitchen worker at a famed restaurant. 
Stars: Brad GarrettPatton OswaltIan Holm, Peter O'Toole, Janenae Garofalo
This Oscar winning animated film had culinary moments so appetizing looking, I wanted to jump in the screen and eat, Paris looked stunning, & it had some of the best voice over work by big name actors & not voice over artists I've heard in quite awhile.

Image of Julie & Julia 2009 Biopic
Plot: Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book. 
Director: Nora Ephron
Stars: Amy AdamsMeryl StreepChris MessinaStanley Tucci
Amazing Frensh food & memorable kitchen moments & meltdowns.

Image of Chocolat200 Romantic Comedy- 
Plot: A woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village that shakes up the community. 
Director: Lasse Hallström
Stars: Juliette BinocheJudi DenchAlfred MolinaCarrie-Anne Moss
I've heard it takes 40lbs of chocolate to re-create to euphoric feeling of love. Since that would probably kill you, why don't you watch this film & the chocolate in it do that instead.

Image of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs2009 Animated
Plot: The most delicious event since macaroni met cheese. Inspired by the beloved children's book, the film focuses on a town where food falls from the sky like rain. 
Director: Phil LordChris Miller
Stars: Anna FarisBill HaderBruce CampbellJames Caan
So this was my absolute favorite book when I was a kid. Could it possibly live up to my expectations? Yes, actually it did. Yes there's a sequel now, but it looks stupid. Mutant animal food hybrids? Really?

Image of Simply Irresistible1999 Romantic Comedy
Plot: A terrible chef (Gellar) trying to keep her late mother's restaurant afloat, suddenly obtains the magical ability to put her feelings into her food and becomes a culinary gem.
Director: Mark Tarlov
Stars: Sarah Michelle GellarSean Patrick FlaneryPatricia Clarkson,Dylan Baker
Ok so a lot of people bag this movie, but I think this movie is adorable. And the eclair scene with Clarkson & Baker is a standout.

Image of Fried Green Tomatoes1991 Drama
Plot: A housewife who is unhappy with her life befriends an old lady in a nursing home and is enthralled by the tales she tells of people she used to know.
Director: Jon Avnet
Stars: Kathy BatesJessica TandyMary Stuart MastersonMary-Louise Parker
This movie centers around different characters that work and patronize the Whistle Stop Cafe where the "secrets in the sauce". This foodie film will have you wondering what the heck are fried green tomatoes?

Image of Waitress2007 Comedy
Plot: Jenna is a pregnant, unhappily married waitress in the deep south. What does make her happy is making pies in the diner she works in, and makes every kinda pie for every kind of life-event or feeling imaginable.
Director: Adrienne Shelly
Stars: Keri RussellNathan FillionJeremy SistoCheryl Hines
Image of 2 Broke Girls2011 Comedy Series
Plot: Two young women waitressing at a greasy spoon diner strike up an unlikely friendship in the hopes of launching a successful business - if only they can raise the cash.
Stars: Kat DenningsBeth BehrsGarrett MorrisJonathan Kite
This business in question is a cupcake shop with the baking skills of Dennings & the business savvy of Behrs.

Image of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory1971 Musical
Plot: A poor boy wins the opportunity to tour the most eccentric and wonderful candy factory of all. 
Director: Mel Stuart
Stars: Gene WilderJack AlbertsonPeter OstrumRoy Kinnear
Please at all costs avoid the remake with Johhny Depp. It's creepy and stupid. This original had so much heart and sooo much candy. I'm having a hankering for a giant gummy bear right about now.

Image of Waiting...2005 Comedy
Plot: Young employees at Shenaniganz restaurant collectively stave off boredom and adulthood with their antics. 
Director: Rob McKittrick
Stars: Ryan ReynoldsAnna FarisJohn Francis DaleyJustin Long
This movie might turn you off to food, especially after seeing what happens to patrons who send their food back. You've been warned.

Image of My Big Fat Greek Wedding2002 Comedy
Plot: A young Greek woman falls in love with a non-Greek and struggles to get her family to accept him while she comes to terms with her heritage and cultural identity. 
Director: Joel Zwick
Stars: Nia VardalosJohn CorbettMichael ConstantineChristina Eleusiniotis
The Greek culture like all cultures revolves so much around food. Food quote: "He don't eat no meat? He don't eat no meat? It's ok. I make lamb."

Image of My Best Friend's Wedding1997 Romantic Comedy
Plot: Jules (Julia Roberts) tries to stop the upcoming nuptials of her best guy friend before he marries preppy Kimberly (Cameron Diaz)
Wedding movies always have food, there's the cake, the drunken karaoke bar sequences, the singing lobsters at the brunch. You know, the usual. This movie also happens to have the main character as a food critic. Oh should I ever be so blessed?

Image of Return to Me2000 Romance
Plot: A man who falls in love with the woman who received his wife's heart must decide which woman it is who holds his heart. 
Director: Bonnie Hunt
Stars: David DuchovnyMinnie DriverCarroll O'ConnorRobert Loggia
Minnie Driver and all the adorbale old men in her life all revolve around the family run O'Reilly's Italian Resturant.

Image of Under the Tuscan Sun2003 Romantic Comedy
Plot: A writer impulsively buys a villa in Tuscany in order to change her life. 
Director: Audrey Wells
Stars: Diane LaneRaoul BovaSandra OhLindsay Duncan
According to this movie grapes taste purple, teenagers fall in love picking olives from olive trees, and people are brought together with food. This is my go-to feel good movie when I need a pick-me-up.

Image of The Last Supper1995 Dark Comedy
A group of idealistic, but frustrated, liberals succumb to the temptation of murdering right wing pundits for their political beliefs. 
Director: Stacy Title
Stars: Cameron DiazRon EldardAnnabeth GishJonathan Penner
Politics aside, this movie is funny and everyone's head goes face first into their food. I know I've done that for different reasons.

Image of Eat Your Heart Out1997 Romantic Comedy
Daniel, Sam(antha) and Peter are three old friends living together in a Los Angeles loft. Being gifted with a great cooking skill and good looks Daniel uses his talent to bring home one beauty after another. As he gives public cooking lessons, there is enough female supply for his wishes. One day, a TV-Producer takes part in one of his courses and watches him work. Then, she offers him his own show, "Cooking for Two". Daniel is more than happy and accepts gratefully. The three friends promise to each other that not even money can bring them apart.
Director: Felix O. Adlon
Stars: Christian OliverPamela AdlonLaura San GiacomoJohn Craig
This is one of those great under-dog movies where the cute, quirky but imperfect girl (I used to see myself in all those characters. Heck I still do but I got the guy to watch them with now) where the she gets the hot guy in the end and he can cook.

Image of Super Size Me2004 Documentary
Plot: While examining the influence of the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences on his health of a diet of solely McDonald's food for one month. (100 mins.)
Director: Morgan Spurlock
Stars: Morgan SpurlockDaryl IsaacsLisa GanjhuStephen Siegel
Guaranteed to make you vomit in your mouth a little every time you so much as see those double arches. That is, if you haven't already. This documentary is funny, informative, and makes you think more about what you put into your body and how that can effect your life. I must confess though-I still go to McD's for the coffee, sweet tea, and an occasional parfait or even ahem Bic Mac. It's my McD weakness. I'm sorry. It's the secret sauce (thousand island dressing I know). But I can cut up onions that tiny. It's those too. Damn you Big Mac.

Image of Top ChefReality Cooking Competition Series
Top Chef
Plot: Professional chefs from around the country from all types of backgrounds and walks of life compete to win the title of Top Chef which usually includes $100,000, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, and a showcase at the annual Aspen Food & Wine Classic. Each episode has a Quick Fire challenge & an Elimination challenge.
Stars: Tom ColicchioPadma LakshmiGail Simmons,
I love this show! Each season is in a different state with each challenge highlighting different food facts/culture, etc of that state. There in my childhood favorite and a huge part of my life growing up: New Orleans, LA.  

Thanksgiving & Foodie Films Currently in theaters
planes-trains-automobiles-original2013 Animated
I can't vouch for this one yet, but why a computer-animated Thanksgiving movie has taken this long to be made is kind of shocking. Let's hope it's not a turkey. Word play - yes!

Foodie Movies Recently Released on DVD
2013 Dark Comedy
An obsessive chef Heather Graham) befriends an anorexic former child star (Carrie-Anne Moss) living in the apartment next door, sparking a fiery battle of wills.
2013 Drama
One individual's actions impact the lives of many in this urban tale of religious conspiracy and interconnected lives.
This movie is pretty incredible. It also revolves around a convenience store and a bag of candy. 

Other Thanksgiving and Foodie Films that I haven't seen yet so I can't attest to if they;re good, but I want to see them. 

The Mistress of Spices 2005 Romance
After leaving India and moving to the United States, Tilo sets up shop in San Francisco as the proprietor of an exotic spice store and helps her customers -- including a handsome American -- change their lives with just the right amount of seasoning.
Dylan McDermottAishwarya Rai BachchanAdewale Akinnuoye-AgbajePadma Lakshmi

Scent of a Woman 1992 Drama
Hoping to earn some extra cash during the Thanksgiving holiday, a poor prep-school student agrees to look after a blind and cantankerous retired colonel. Though the two are mismatched, their relationship grows during a string of wild escapades.
Al PacinoChris O'DonnellJames RebhornGabrielle AnwarPhilip Seymour HoffmanBradley WhitfordFrances Conroy.

My Girlfriend's Boyfriend 2010 Romantic Comedy
Jesse Young, a girl who already has everything, finds herself falling for two seemingly perfect guys: sexy but struggling writer Ethan and button-down advertising executive Troy. Can she find true love with two men at the same time? Milano Plays a waitress in this film & 2 characters first meet cute at the cafe where she works. 
Alyssa MilanoChristopher GorhamMichael LandesBeau BridgesTom LenkCarol Kane

Big Night 1996 Drama
Despite its superb cuisine, an Italian restaurant run by immigrant brothers verges on bankruptcy. But the siblings risk it all to save their bistro when they get the chance to cook up a feast for bandleader Louis Prima.
Diner 1982 Drama
In 1959 Baltimore, former school chums facing adulthood find solace at the local diner, where the banter between groom-to-be Eddie (Guttenberg), best man Billy (Daly), womanizer Boogie (Rourke), married Shrevie (Stern) and quirky Modell (Reiser) ranges from girls to growing old. Oscar nod for Best Screenplay.
Steve GuttenbergDaniel SternMickey RourkeKevin BaconTim DalyPaul ReiserEllen Barkin

In the Weeds 200o Romantic Comedy
Struggling to find success in New York City, Adam (Joshua Leonard) and Chloe (Molly Ringwald) are a waiter and waitress in a swanky restaurant, surrounded by eccentric co-workers who hash out their personal lives while trying to make ends meet. 
Joshua LeonardMolly RingwaldEllen Pompeo

"Kitchen Confidential" 2005 Comedy
Inspired by the best-selling book of the same title, this sitcom follows the antics of once-famous chef Jack -- played by Bradley Cooper -- whose hard-partying ways nearly derail him. When a second chance presents itself, will Jack be able to act?
Bradley CooperNicholas BrendonJaime KingJohn Cho

A Private Function 1984 Satire
Set during the lean years after World War II, this comedy follows the schemes of a malcontent wife who goads her placid husband into stealing a pig that their country village -- contrary to food rationing laws -- is fattening for slaughter.
Maggie SmithPete Postlethwaite

Soul Food  1997 Drama
Traditional Sunday dinners at Mama Joe's turn sour when three sisters start bringing their problems to the dinner table. When tragedy strikes, it's up to grandson Ahmad to pull the family together and put the soul back into the weekly gatherings.
Vanessa WilliamsVivica A. FoxNia LongMekhi Phifer

The Slammin' Salmon 2009 Comedy
When a boxer turned restaurateur announces a contest to his staff, the good news is that the winner will get a $10,000 bonus. The bad news? The loser will be on the receiving end of a heavy duty smack-down at the hands of the boss.
Michael Clarke DuncanLance HenriksenOlivia MunnVivica A. FoxMorgan Fairchild

The Myth of Fingerprints' (1997) Drama
Warren (Wyle) returns home after a three-year absence and soon falls into the rhythms of his childhood: bickering with his siblings, hanging out with his stoner buddies and avoiding his strange, cold father. But when his ex-girlfriend reappears, she becomes the catalyst for a Thanksgiving that changes everything. 
Noah WyleBlythe DannerHope DavisJames Le GrosMichael VartanJulianne MooreRoy Scheider

What's Cooking? 2000 Drama
Plot: In LA's Fairfax district, where ethnic groups abound, four households celebrate Thanksgiving amidst family tensions
Starring: Julianna Marguiles & Alfre Woodard