Archives for posts with tag: Movies

This movie has so many old Hollywood details that I love, from the big studios to executives’ vintage phones taking audiences back to that time of glamorous style. Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) opens the story and as an industry exec, his demeanor is also like a detective in a classic black and white film. He’s sitting in a curvy, old car at night and the rain falls. I love it because the whole scene looks very mysterious.

Following that are scenes of the cinematic work “Hail, Caesar!” within the onscreen world, in which George Clooney first appears. He plays an actor named Baird Whitlock, leading the epic ancient Roman-themed film in production.

Mannix discusses actors in a phone conversation, leading to the possibility of a young western star working for him. One of my favorite scenes includes this particular character. The actor in question for Mannix is Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), who is rather stuck in the mode of cowboy roles, maybe an early example of being typecast.

Someone approaches him about a change in his image as a movie star, including being in an arranged date and taking on a drama film. Acting in a new genre means numerous mishaps in this case, as it brings him into unfamiliar territory from wardrobe and mannerisms to language and phrases. The way he swaggers and poses is still in cowboy style. I even wonder if his accent is possibly from working in so many westerns, as a way to go all the way with the idea that he’s truly stuck in that genre. Either way, it gets in the way of him saying his lines with the accent for the drama. He can’t seem to get away from his twang, no matter how hard his director, Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) tries to help him.

A creatively choreographed swimming scene being filmed is lead by DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson). She’s a spitfire personality in debating relationships and her public image with Mannix. What the public sees her as is totally different from that of how she responds to him and he is concerned by her personal life, how it is perceived in that time period.

Throughout the story, filmmaking issues are discussed among higher-ups, from problems regarding those who can’t act and the use of various images onscreen. International relations also come into play with certain characters.

Meanwhile, Whitlock has been kidnapped and he finds himself among a group of elder men whose serious and intellectual topics cover history and economics. I believe that they see themselves as anti-Hollywood or a group who fear for how Hollywood would impact the coming years. They have sent a note to Mannix about their captive and a deal.

I haven’t seen too many movies in which Tilda Swinton has starred. But I loved the styles worn by her dual characters, twin sisters Thora and Thessaly Thacker. A hat with a striking black feather tops off a pale pastel suit and sections divided by an inch of black material in either case. She’s a strong feminine character representing that time, while advising Mannix about his predicament.

Another one of my favorite scenes is when actor Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum) leads a Navy sailor musical number in his film. His dance routine is reminiscent of classic movie dance scenes as he incorporates the bar furniture around him. Gurney’s part in the overall storyline of the Coen Brothers movie has a twist.

Back to Whitlock and his kidnappers, it is revealed why they took action involving the leading actor of a major film. The big-wig studios get everything for what ends up on the silver screen. They explain their actions to him by using the topics of concern and that they’re not even asking for much in return. In their level of the film industry, they feel that their work is forgotten while higher-ups reap the benefits. However, there is more to the group’s agenda.

Some cool lasso work is displayed by the young western-turned-drama star as he awaits his arranged date with an actress named Carlotta. They seem to have a nice bonding moment as she shows ease in her onscreen dance moves. It breaks the barriers that they each have some kind of skill from consistent acting in certain type of role. Their date takes them to one of his westerns showing at the cinema and the audience gets great laughs at one character’s antics.

Adding to the timeframe of this movie, Whitlock references a real-life classic Hollywood actor as he talks with his kidnappers. In another scene featuring Moran and for the first time, Joe Silverman (Jonah Hill), the glamor shows again. Johansson’s classy blonde waves remind me of many actresses in the 1940s and the hairstyles they donned. In this scene, they’re in an shadowy office and it looks very noir.

The young stars on a date share more laughs over dinner and confusion over the sisters they encounter only seconds apart. But suddenly, suspicion arises in Doyle when he spots Gurney at a nearby table. He follows him, having been alerted earlier about the kidnapping situation. As he comes across the captive star and drives him back to the studio, little do they know what becomes of the kidnappers’ plan. But now, Whitlock has to contend with how he interacted with those who held him hostage, as well as with finishing “Hail, Caesar!”

I enjoyed this movie for all the detail reflecting the story’s time period, along with the great cast, characters and how various issues come into play. If you love classic Hollywood, you’ll love it as well. This Coen Brothers work also stars Frances McDormand, Fisher Stevens, David Krumholtz and Wayne Knight.

 

Right away, the overwhelming stress Amy (Mila Kunis) has can be felt as she prepares for Christmas. It’s a mix of wanting to enjoy that time of year, but how, with so many things on her to-do list. I love how she simply gives up on wrapping one gift and tosses it over her shoulder, having too much struggle getting it to look perfect. One thing’s for sure in the hectic moments of getting ready for holiday season. Heart-melting and reminding me of a former crush, Jessie (Jay Hernandez) is so sweet, supportive and helpful every step of the way. Amy then gets the nightmare call and her reaction hints at a battle looming ahead.

Her friends Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) have their own mom-induced surprises for the holidays. Much like the Amy and her friends, their respective moms have a variety of personalities that from one generation to another bring about clashes. For Amy, it’s her relaxed style vs. her mom Ruth’s (Christine Baranski) must-be-the-best style of celebrating. Kiki wants distance from her mom Sandy (Cheryl Hines), whose closeness breaks too many boundaries. Isis (Susan Sarandon) is the opposite, not present enough in Carla and her son Jaxon’s (Cade Cooksey) lives.

As the story goes on, it mirrors the first “Bad Moms” in that Amy’s trio find a cause to rebel against in the seasonal festivities. They sit together, share their troubles with one another and party on throughout the mall. Along the way, the friends drew others into their wild shopping spree. It helped loosened them up until the next obstacle in holiday prep time.

When it comes to Christmas decorating, Ruth is both severely traditional and over-the-top in a way that Amy definitely finds tacky. Her mom is an awful stress-inducer in a number of other ways. She nags at Amy, treats Jessie in a brush-off manner and says socially inappropriate things. Trying to downplay it all is Amy’s much more relaxed dad, Hank (Peter Gallagher).

Before seeing this movie, the two generations of moms was interesting to me because of how they were matched up. Kiki and Sandy were similar in appearance. Carla and Isis mirrored each other in wild personality and style. Yet Amy and Ruth don’t look alike and their characters are vastly different, building up their clashes. Kiki’s mom relationship was weird, Carla’s was sad. In my opinion, Amy had the worst trouble brewing with her mom. So it complimented the story that she had a father whose personality was closer to her own.

With everyone gathered at the SkyZone, most of the adults forget their cares and stress-triggering issues. All except for Ruth; she ends up in a challenge after Amy’s rebellious decision in favor of a laughter-filled family-friendly night. What happened to Ruth and the slo-mo result of that moment was hilarious. Kiki making a fight-ready pose, combined with the sound and more slo-mo was another favorite from while they enjoyed their night out. Oh and I remembered Amy speeding around in her ex-husband’s cool red classic Dodge Challenger in the first “Bad Moms.” I guess it was kept off of the wintry roads this time.

The problem Kiki has with her mom sure would inspire her to appear tough and strong, which she has to be emotionally. Sandy keeps laying on guilt-trips whenever her daughter tries to explain that boundaries must be set between them. Kiki simply wants her mom to understand the importance of an adult life that doesn’t include such an in-her-face parent. Her husband Kent (Lyle Brocato) has already been made to feel very awkward as a result of Sandy’s overbearing desire to be around all the time. It seemed as though Kiki and her mom needed that therapy meeting with Dr. Karl (Wanda Sykes) more than Amy and her husband did in the first “Bad Moms” movie.

In a little mother-daughter bonding moment, Carla hinted to her mom that she’s lonely, yet tries to joke about it. Isis appears to sense how her daughter really feels. Despite not being around much in recent years, she shows concern in her expression. Of course, as a non-conventional mom, Isis does something totally unexpected of a parent and it lightens up the sad moment. It isn’t long before Carla’s heart is lit up. She meets Ty (Justin Hartley) and wow, look at this guy! I love how they just click right away, understanding each other; new love found so easily.

During the stripping Santa scene, I thought Carla was going to have a new and rather awkward problem with her wild mom. She looked as if trying to keep herself from simmering at the antics unfolding before her eyes. But a mishap takes place, leading to another dilemma for the newly lovestruck bad mom. I could feel for Carla as her gaze follows Ty, that expression of longing for him when he has to leave after such brief time together.

When Amy tells her mom how it’s gonna be this Christmas…her house, her way…the result makes for a nice twist to come later on. Ruth, as rigid as she was, reacts in such a way that had me thinking she was plotting…but what? Of course, Amy just gets dragged in to more unwanted over-the-top Christmas activities against her laid-back plans. She finds herself singing Christmas Carols throughout the neighborhood and…Surprise! It’s an old rival, Gwendolyn, (Christina Applegate) who answers the doorbell at one house. How will Amy ever live that moment down?

Taking in an over-decorated house and a party with entertainment including Kenny G playing saxophone, the big battle is on. Amy’s fight with her mom was insane and hilarious as Ruth is yelling out claims about why various decor pieces are extra special. It made no difference to Amy where they came from or what made them significant. That scene leads to another moment similar to the first “Bad Moms” movie, as Amy’s kids are upset at the turn of events. Jane (Oona Laurence) is especially hurt by this family upheaval, while Dylan (Emjay Anthony) showed disappointment. Kiki and Carla also have their mom troubles and scenes that reflect stress from not having better relationships with them. A nice transition follows in which Ruth, Sandy and Isis come together, although still at odds over personalities and it’s hard to tell if they’ll end up close friends.

As things get patched up for everyone, Christmas dinner brings a welcomed adult surprise for someone. Jessie’s daughter, Lori (Ariana Greenblatt) delivers one of those “the things kids say” lines about what she’s too young to understand, as she did in an earlier scene. It reminded me of a famous quote from a long-time favorite Christmas movie, similar language in different context blurted out by a young kid. Anyway, everything is now cheery and bright in Amy’s world of family and friends.

In the end, the older generation of moms all strut out on their way to an earlier suggested ladies vacation. I couldn’t help but imagine what’s to come. It had the feel of a cliffhanger and that they’d have their own crazy adventure. What about Amy, Kiki and Carla? I’d love to see those friends again, as well as their love interests. If another sequel came along, what would be next for Amy and Jessie’s relationship and that of Carla and Ty? What hilarious scenarios would happen? After many laughs throughout this movie, its ending credits brought even more fun as the cast goofed around and danced in a wintry setting. I can’t wait to see this again when it’s available in stores.

Even though another Halloween has just pasted, I caught a few old horror flicks on TV this past week. Two of them starred Vincent Price – “The Haunted Palace” (1963) and “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1960). Other than summarizing and sharing opinions on each one, I thought I’d write about some things I’ve always loved about these classic scares.

One element is the creepy, old estates or castles, sometimes overlooking a cliffside and stormy seas. Other times, they’re just beyond an eerie forest surrounded in a lingering fog. I wished these settings were real locations and that I could visit them and explore foreboding structures. Throughout the horror tales onscreen, such detail in every room and exterior areas make for the perfect atmospheric mansion with a haunting past. Old-fashioned lighting, watchful portraits, ornate windows, gates of swirling iron, spiderwebs, climbing overgrowth and then some.

Another part of many horror gems of decades ago is the handsome, young man drawn into the story. He’s always so dashing in those poet shirts, jackets with coattails and riding boots. One such dark-haired, dark-eyed fellow is in “The Fall of the House of Usher” and another is Jack Nicholson in his early film years in “The Terror” and “The Raven,” both from 1963. As a fan of Nicholson from many other roles, I have those on DVD. His costumes had a different style, but he looked equally dashing in them. Aside from him, I usually don’t know who the actor is by name. These men are also usually the heroic figure, rescuing the young woman in danger. I imagine they’d be among my actor crushes if I’d been a teenager or around that age during the 60s.

Last but not least, there are the legendary actors of this genre – Price as well as Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr. Each was perfect in their respective creepy roles. Their classic works were before my time, but I love to watch these every Halloween season or whenever I happen to catch them airing on TV throughout the year. I have an old VHS copy of a horror compilation titled “Creepy Classics,” hosted by Price and I wish I could find in on DVD. There are probably a few old flicks I forgot about since last watching the tape and not seeing them air on TV for a while.

While at my best friend’s house, the SyFy was airing a variety of horror movies, some of which were big screen, others usually on that channel. Most of the time, we talked over looking through old high school items I recently found. Her husband was tuned into the horrorfest, watching “Underworld: Evolution,” followed by another TV movie, one called “Trick or Treat.” When that ended, we joined him to watch “Jeepers Creepers III” (2017). I didn’t even know there was a third part and wasn’t necessarily up for it for two reasons – only saw a few minutes worth of both previous installments and of course, the gore factor. But I figured, why not? I doubted I’d ever catch up later with the first and second of these movies anyway. And we did have some laughs from watching it, because someone always does something that leads to the getting killed off. We were saying, “No, get away from that thing,” and “Oh, sure, bang on the window,” etc.

Despite that, this horror sequel had an unpredictable element in terms of what would happen to the four young guys who spot the creepy truck during their dirt bike adventure. I thought for sure it would be the cocky, dark-haired leader of the pack who would die first as he kept getting closer to it before his friends dared to do so. Then, one of them attempts to damage the seemingly abandoned vehicle out in the middle of nowhere. For that reason and figuring he was a less important character, I changed my mind, saying, “Oh, he’s gonna get it!” But no matter who it turned out to be, I never would’ve seen it coming how it happened. I only knew that I didn’t want to see it. Even that was unavoidable, as several gory scenes snuck up on me. I’d look away, look back, look away again and so on, always with bad timing.

Even those who ended up surviving had moments when I thought for sure they weren’t going to make it out alive. The creeper and his crazy arsenal seemed inescapable. Each time someone was trying to run for safety, with scenes cutting back and forth from that person to the creeper’s weapon, I’d call out, “Duck! Get down!” This winged creature was bent on bringing about death to the locals. In some cases, it seemed as though certain people were intended targets for revenge and I wasn’t sure what drove any vengeance by the creeper. Part of the story involved a dismembered hand belonging to the creeper. Flashbacks were also incorporated to connect to previous incidents, whether from the second installment of the franchise or a more implied scene between parts two and three. That’s one example that relayed the idea of certain people being the creeper’s targets, especially one family. Others victims were random, giving the sense of nobody’s safe in the world of this movie. Some horror movies don’t come across as though everyone is going to die. But in this case, it kept making my friends and I think the whole town is doomed with the creeper out there.

The three of us were joking about whether or not there would be more of this horror movie franchise and its unstoppable monster. Well, its ending sure had a cliff-hanger tone with one survivor challenging the creeper upon a return appearance.

“Jeepers Creepers III” starred a cast mostly of actors and actresses I hadn’t seen in anything else. However, I recognized one man whose character seemed to know a history about the relentless monster. Stan Shaw played that particular role, Sheriff Dan Tashtego. Another familiar face was that of Meg Foster, who was the grandmother of a young girl taken by the creeper.

Overall, it’s not a horror movie that I’ll watch again. My best friend’s husband commented that there didn’t seems to be much of a background story given in the plot. I’m just not familiar with the franchise enough. I’d have to see the rest of it to find any particular connecting points. Since “Jeepers Creepers III” isn’t my usual type of cinematic scare, it doesn’t draw my curiosity to watch the first and second parts start to finish. Tuning in was simply part of getting into the Halloween spirit with friends.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen this romantic comedy of a lovestruck high school girl who learns that she is a witch. Two weekends ago, I was visiting my best friend for the day and we’re always having girl talk and watching a movie or two. “Teen Witch” is one of those movies both of us can relate to from the high school crush aspect. So, I was hoping to find a copy of it on DVD on one store or another. Yet it was coming up out of stock at all locations in my area. I stopped by the f.y.e. at a local mall and ordered it, since they also didn’t have it available at the time. The DVD arrived yesterday evening for me to pick up. Now, I’m just holding off watching it until visiting my best friend again. I can’t wait to watch it with her, for some lighthearted movie-watching among upcoming horror marathons for Halloween. She hadn’t seen it in a long time either, but I know we’ll have some of the same favorite parts throughout the story. We’ll surely find ways in which it reminds us of our high school moments and I can recall a few parts of this movie that are like that for me.

Louise (Robyn Lively), is basically a wallflower with her shy and introverted personality. Yet she’s head over heels in love with gorgeous and popular top athlete Brad (Dan Gauthier). It’s one of element I enjoyed about the story. Well, I felt for Louise, since I was on the shy side around my crush; he could be described in the same way as the movie heartthrob. There’s also a moment in which she is embarrassed by a teacher, although I only remember her reaction. Whatever happened, many can easily connect with that feeling from similar incidents, when a teacher says or does something that humiliates a student. In my high school days, we’d sneak passing notes and one day, my best friend was close to being caught passing one to me about my crush. I don’t know if that guy knew or at least sensed my feelings. But if my best friend had been caught and the teacher did the feared note-reading to the whole class…no words! While that didn’t happen, another teacher almost revealed my feelings in front of my crush. So, in that sense, I can relate to such moments when Louise is totally embarrassed in class or when lead girls in other teen romance comedies feel the same in their particular situations.

The length to which Louise will go to catch Brad’s eye shows how she’s at such a loss for making him notice her. Because of the spell involved, she has insecurity about what’s real. Is he only driven by some unseen power? Or has he truly fallen for her in return? It’s another aspect of this movie that anyone with a crush could understand. I remember a lot of moments that made me question why my crush did this or that, especially since guys I liked as friends (and vice versa) didn’t do what that special guy did back then. I’d wonder if he knew my feelings and was playing off of that…or if he didn’t know and his actions were genuine. In either case, he always had a way of melting my heart.

In attempting to change her life, Louise makes use of a special necklace. Until I see “Teen Witch” again, I can’t remember if she owned it beforehand or if it was a gift from her sorceress / mentor (Zelda Rubinstein). Because of how that piece of jewelry represents her powers and is connected to her love interest, she carries sentimental feelings for it. I love that part of the story as well, because one necklaces I own holds a lot of sentimental value for me. It wasn’t due to being a gift from someone special; a memory involving that necklace gave it so much meaning to me.

The outcome for Louise and Brad is one more reason why I’m looking forward to watching this movie again, especially with my best friend. But I’ll write a follow-up blog post about it afterward.

Every so often, I visit my best friend and bring over a few DVDs to watch between laughter-filled girl talk. Some of our favorite picks in past movie nights have included a mix of ‘80s / ‘90s flicks (“Cry-Baby,” “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club”) and new ones, such as “Bad Moms.” This past weekend I brought over “Why Him,” which we missed during its recent run in theaters. We could relate to the comedy’s dad character, Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston), disapproving of his daughter Stephanie’s (Zoey Deutch) love interest. Both of us have either had crushes on or dated someone our dads absolutely did not like one bit.

Right away, Laird Mayhew (James Franco) had us in hysterics over his wild and free-spirited personality. How would this clash between two opposites play out and what would happen along the way? Ned is the odd man out as the mom, Barb (Megan Mullaly) and brother, Scotty (Griffin Gluck) see more of Laird’s cool side. The party scene hinted at the dad having a not-so-rigid past in his own younger days. Unfortunately, we didn’t get too far into the movie before skip…skip…skip went the disc in my best friend’s portable DVD player. Stopping the movie and ejecting it, I noticed a two-inch scratch on the disc. Having never played this particular DVD before, as well as handling it properly, we were disappointed to miss the rest of the comedy for the time being. Cedric the Entertainer, Keegan-Michael Key and the voice of Kaley Cuoco add more laughs to this father-vs-boyfriend tale. By the next time I’m visiting my best friend, I’ll have a new DVD of “Why Him” for us to watch.

I had a few of our favorites to choose from in continuing our movie night and it came down to “Cry-Baby” or “The Breakfast Club.” We can’t resist the bad-boy characters to swoon over in either one. John Hughes’ detention-bound teens from drastically different backgrounds won out in the end. Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez and Anthony Michael Hall made for the most memorable teen characters who clashed yet found common ground.

Watching Bender and his antics, it’s like being back in high school and trying to hide my good-girl giggling at my bad-boy crush. The guy who I couldn’t keep my eyes off of didn’t have that “criminal” label and he wasn’t known for having any illegal items on hand. He simply got on the nerves of several teachers, doing things that I couldn’t refrain from laughing at in class. To top it off, he was so gorgeous and had such a devilish expression playing on his face. Hey, didn’t many girls see that in Bender? Just as in the movie, when mean Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason) lectures the other four students about thinking the “criminal” is humorous, I had a similar experience. After laughing at my crush and his antics, one teacher called me out on how it was obvious that I had a huge crush and warned me that I’d get hurt. This happened right in front of him! Another teacher had me move to another seat, away from where I sat next to my crush as something else he did set off more lovestruck-induced giggles. In a new seat, he wasn’t even in my line of vision to further distract me. I didn’t have a Bender-and-Claire ending with my bad-boy crush, being too shy to get that close. Yet his wild demeanor and intense good looks drew me in and set my heart racing. That’s what I saw in Claire when it came to Bender in certain scenes.

“The Breakfast Club” came along before my time in high school. It doesn’t matter, though, what generation a viewer of this classic belongs to in life. Of course, that’s due to the overall struggles and drama of teen years. The ideas of acceptance, acting the way your friends act, family-initiated pressure and much more keep Hughes’ work relevant. For my best friend and I, we definitely love the bad-boy element and a totally opposite type of girl falling for him. We both also love Hughes’ “Sixteen Candles,” especially in the way that Samantha (Ringwald) can’t bring herself to talk to her heartthrob, Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling). If only we could all have the ending which those two shared. Another relatable element in that teen flick was how the geeky kid, known as Farmer Ted (Hall) would pester Samantha, while her heart was set on someone else. There were one or two guys at my high school who just didn’t seem able to take a girl’s hint of not being interested.

Even though we didn’t get around to watching “Cry-Baby” this time, my best friend and I relate to it with our crushes and how we felt. This is especially in the way that good-girl Allison gazes dreamily over at rebellious Cry-Baby. She longs to be closer to him and to rid herself of the contrasting square image in which she was raised.

All of these movies, at one point or another, bring about more girl talk of memorable high school days. We loved those times, even though neither of us dated our crushes. Of course, it’s just as Samantha’s dad in “Sixteen Candles” says to her about those feelings.

Now that this year’s top awards for the big screen are just around the corner, my favorites in most categories have been decided. A few of these seem difficult to pick every year, not always
hearing about nominees until last minute. Documentary, foreign language and the short films
don’t often play in theaters near where I live. So, it’s just a matter of which one tends to be
leading the pack. Technical category favorites aren’t usually the easiest to choose, either. Anyway, here are the nominees I’ve picked out so far to win.

  • Best Picture: “La La Land”
  • Actor in a Leading Role: Casey Affleck – “Manchester by the Sea” or Ryan Gosling – “La La Land”
  • Actress in a Leading Role: Emma Stone – “La La Land”
  • Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight”
  • Actress in a Supporting Role: Michelle Williams – “Manchester by the Sea”
  • Directing: Damien Chazelle – “La La Land”
  • Adapted Screenplay: “Fences” or “Hidden Figures”
  • Original Screenplay: “La La Land”
  • Animated Feature: “Zootopia”
  • Documentary Feature: ?
  • Foreign Language Film: ?
  • Cinematography: “La La Land”
  • Costume Design: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” “Jackie” or “Florence Foster Jenkins”
  • Documentary Short: ?
  • Film Editing: “La La Land”
  • Makeup and Hair: “Suicide Squad”
  • Music for a Motion Picture (Original Score): “La La Land” or “Passengers”
  • Music for Motion Picture (Original Song): “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – “Trolls” or “City of Stars” – “La La Land”
  • Production Design: “Arrival,” “La La Land” or “Passengers”
  • Animated Short: ?
  • Live Action Short: “Sing”
  • Sound Editing: “Sully”
  • Sound Mixing: ?
  • Visual Effects: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Which nominees do you hope will take home the big award?