Sunday, December 10, 2017

Five Holiday Film Treats

Merely thinking about certain movies can boost my holiday spirit. What do these films have in common? Most of them deliver stories filled with humor and messages of hope -– all wrapped up in an entertaining cinematic package. Below are five of these wonderful movies.

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944). This beautifully filmed offering celebrates the importance of love, family and friends. It boasts excellent performances, charming nostalgia and wonderful music galore, including Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “The Boy Next Door,” and “The Trolley Song.” Watching it takes us back to a simpler time – the beginning of the 1900s. Everything about this motion picture is still captivating.   

PLANES, TRAINS and AUTOMOBILES (1987).  Steve Martin and John Candy are very funny playing two men trying to get from New York to Chicago for Thanksgiving.  A blizzard causes the Chicago airport to shut down – so their plane lands somewhere in Kansas. Martin’s character finds himself burdened continuously with the overbearing guy portrayed by Candy. These two have terrific comic chemistry together – but Candy died shortly after this film was released, so their plans to work on other projects with each other didn’t come to fruition. But PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES is a gift to moviegoers because it shows how great these two actors were as co-stars.      

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL. Kermit portrays Bob Cratchit and Gonzo plays Charles Dickens here, but it’s Michael Caine who steals the show. He’s absolutely wonderful as the grumpy, miserly Scrooge – and he even warbles a tune or two. This is my favorite version of the Dickens classic.  

THE GRINCH (2000). Jim Carrey’s astounding interpretation of the Grinch makes me laugh every time I think about this amazing movie. From his gruff voice and hairy green appearance to his wild physical antics and impossible grumpy attitude, Carrey simply is this incredible creature. I completely forgot Ace Ventura, Andy Kaufman, and Carrey’s hilarious In Living Color personas while watching him in this film. After seeing him transform himself into this character, I now admire Carrey primarily for his Grinchiness. And I loved the way the Dr. Seuss story illustrates the power of a child’s innate goodness to bring about redemption. “Maybe Christmas Can’t be bought in a store – maybe it’s just a little bit more.” 

 A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983). I think this movie is the best family Christmas comedy of all time. I never get tired of watching it – and that’s a good thing because it’s shown so much on TV around the holidays. It’s another nostalgic gem – taking us back to the 1940s and showing the magical quality of Christmas for kids back then – especially for our hero, nine-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsly), who makes sure everyone knows he wants a Red Ryder air rifle – even though he’s warned “You’ll shoot your eye out!” In our house, it wouldn’t be Christmas without watching A CHRISTMAS STORY.

As Tiny Tim says at the end of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, “God bless us, everyone!” I send that same wish out to movie fans everywhere.  


Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Shape of Water Film Poem

A magical, poetic film titled “The Shape of Water” has been haunting me since watching it a couple of days ago. In fact, I couldn’t sleep at all the night before last because the poem below kept floating around in my head.

From waters deep the Creature came,
caught by a man who knows no shame

This Creature needs to be saved soon
or face the fate of certain ruin.

A daring mute might be the one
to rescue him when all is done.

Her love for him is true and strong.
She knows to kill him would be wrong.

A fairy tale told with great flair,
“The Shape of Water” makes us care. 

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Charles Dickens and Writer's Block

Did Charles Dickens invent Christmas? Of course not – but he definitely wrote a wonderful Christmas story for the ages. The Man Who Invented Christmas mixes fantasy and reality in a holiday film for the entire family. Dan Stevens delivers an amusing -- but a bit over-the-top at times -- portrayal of Dickens, and Christopher Plummer plays Scrooge to the hilt. It’s fun to watch both of these fine actors in roles we’ve seen on screen many times before.

As a Dickens/Stevens/Plummer fan, I enjoyed the creative concept of the movie as well as the entertaining performances. The idea of characters appearing to an author in order to assist with writing the story and even arguing about the ending really appeals to me. That fantastical approach works well here. It gives the film a magical feel. 

I don’t want to give away too much about the plot of The Man Who Invented Christmas, but I couldn’t resist writing a little poem about this creative holiday film.

Writer’s block? It’s not just a joke.
Even Dickens almost went broke.
Frantic, he searched for a great tale
that could result in a huge sale.

When characters cried out to him,
he thought that they were just a whim.
But Scrooge and crew fought to be heard.
They made Dickens note every word.

Dickens listened and wrote his best
Christmas story to pass the test.
“A Christmas Carol” came to be.
And now THIS film is here to see.

Plus, Tiny Tim lives on to say
"God bless us everyone each day."

(Released by Netflix and rated “PG” by MPAA.)

Review also posted at ReelTalk Movie Reviews.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Casablanca On Demand

During the week of November 13 through November 19, Movie Addict Headquarters celebrates the 75th Anniversary of Casablanca by featuring On Demand a special tribute show originally aired back in 2008.  Our special guest is Tom Barnes, author of Casablanca Film Trivia: Here’s Looking at You, Kid! 

Barnes includes 1,130 questions about Casablanca in his fun trivia book, and he’s worked on these questions for the past 15 years. The questions cover such areas as history, actors, script, critics, images, characters, production staff, music, geography, goofs, and clothing. Each of the 33 chapters centers on a specific category or theme, and most of the chapters end with interesting “factoids” about this fascinating movie.

Listeners can hear this popular vintage episode at any time during the week by clicking on the BlogTalkRadio link at the end of this article.  

Barnes says, “Now that Casablanca has reached old age, it is time to reflect on the film’s impact since winning the Academy Award for best picture...What better way to honor Casablanca than a book of trivia about all aspects of the film and its filming?

As a Casablanca fan, I had a great time trying to answer Barnes’ questions while reading his book. I also learned some intriguing new information about one of my favorite movies.

Because Barnes is a former teacher, that’s probably one of the reasons he does such an excellent job holding the reader’s interest in this trivia book.
Joining in the lively discussion are film critic Diana Saenger, founder of Classic Movie Guide, and avid Casablanca fan Jazz Shaw.

(Casablanca Film Trivia: Here’s Looking at You Kid! is published by Papyrus Publishing.)   

HOST: Betty Jo Tucker
PRODUCER: Nikki Starr

NOTE:  Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events are bringing Casablanca back to the big screen for two days: November 12 and November 15, 2017. Check your local media sources to see if it’s showing in your area.   

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

An Excellent Documentary

It gives me great pleasure to recommend a wonderful Netflix documentary titled Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. Griffin Dunne, Joan’s nephew, directed this intriguing journey through the remarkable career of an iconic writer whose work has covered America’s tumultuous social and cultural scene for over half a century. Because Griffin knows his famous aunt so well, his conversations with her come across as intimate and sincere. Plus, his choice of selections from Joan’s work -- as well as the friends and colleagues  to include in the film -- help us understand the powerful influence of this amazing woman. 

Even more important, however, is the subject herself. Now in her 80s, she listens carefully and makes sure her answers accurately depict what she’s thinking and feeling, similar to the way she writes.     

Joan Didion has earned great fame.
Her writing garners high acclaim.

She captures truth as time goes by
with elegance and cynic’s eye.

Journalist, author and playwright,
she composes to gain insight.

Watching Joan in this fine movie
becomes a gift of history.

She faces suffering and pain
but still goes on to work again.

A woman to admire, for sure.
Her unique writing will endure.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sweet Bedtime Story

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford pair up beautifully in Our Souls at Night, a romantic Neflix film that makes my heart sing. And, of course, I couldn’t resist writing a poem about it.  

“Help me get through each night, neighbor?”
A strange request coming from her.
She’s asking him to share her bed,
but not for sex, just talk instead.

Spouses they lost sometime ago.
And romance hopes seem rather low.
But who knows what their future brings?
We hope it’s filled with lovely things.

OUR SOULS AT NIGHT – a sweet movie.
Fonda and Redford work for me.
They play these roles with style and grace
in this fine film not rushed for pace.

Each character we get to know.
We watch their friendship slowly grow.
This motion picture was for me
a special treat I loved to see.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Las Vegas Lament


So many lives lost needlessly.

When will we learn; why can’t we see?

Tears for loved ones – an endless flow.

Action needed – we ought to know.

Some say don’t talk about it now.

Free speech needed for that, and how!

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