More HORROR, Please!

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I went grocery shopping on Thursday to get a jump on all the assholes getting ready for the “big storm” we are supposed to be having here in Seattle. But like a true Seattleite, this storm just couldn’t be bothered to be where it said it would. So I cooked chili and have a list of horror to watch and no storm. Not really. I mean, it’s windy. It’s grey. It’s been raining off and on for two days. But this is Seattle.

So, while my fella catches up with GLaDOS, I’ll give you a brand new list of horror movies. Movies I haven’t listed before! I’ve made a few lists of horror movies. I’ll link them here for you. https://alicia-prague-blog.com/2010/10/24/boo-25-best-movies-for-halloween/https://alicia-prague-blog.com/2013/07/05/top-10-horror-satires/https://alicia-prague-blog.com/2012/10/13/3213/https://alicia-prague-blog.com/2013/10/01/the-scariest-ghost-movies-of-all-time/

Since some awesome movies have come out in the past few years, and I have overlooked a few, I thought it was the right time for another list. Enjoy!

Lake Mungo, (2008) – I’m putting it first so you don’t miss it. This is by far the scariest film on the list. And I do NOT scare easy. If at all. This is a documentary style horror film that leaves you wondering if it really isn’t true after all. It makes Blair Witch look like the footage my mom found of our camping trip to Lake Tahoe in 1988. I don’t want to say anything else. If you see one of these movies, make it this one. You’ll be sorry in all the right ways.

From the Dark, (2014) – I put this in the “survive the night” category of horror movies. All they have to do is make it until the sun comes up. That’s all. A couple who has… car trouble… finds a creepy house to take shelter in. Stupid.

Antichrist, (2009) – All of Lars Von Trier’s films should be classified as horror. I’m just saying. But this one… THIS ONE! Let’s just say you haven’t seen a “couple in a cabin in the woods” movie like this one before. Known only as HE and SHE, the already terrifying Willem Dafoe, and the always in need of a hug or a valium Charlotte Gainsbourg play the couple. If you have the stomach for it, this is a fantastically horrifying film that even seasoned horror fans like myself had trouble sitting through. A fucked up movie. It’s violent. It’s gory. And again, it’s directed by Lars Von Trier.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, (2014)large_sgkw6ifftakwlqy2olfdq4ubxv0I love horror movies in black and white. Maybe it’s a sentimental thing, but every shadow is creepier in black and white. This movie takes place in the aptly named Bad City, where darkness, death and loneliness are your new neighbors. It’s also about a skateboarding vampire badass bitch. It’s an Iranian film written and directed by a woman named Ana Lily Amirpourhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WSMrSucjGA

The Vanishing (Spoorloos, 1988) – This movie fucked me up for a few days. Psychological terror is worse than a guy with a knife any day. This movie deals with that feeling of needing to know… A woman is abducted from a truck stop. Years later, after dedicating his life to finding her, he receives a letter from her abductor. An utterly devastating movie.

Wolf Creek, (2005) – My favorite way to begin any movie: BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. Ah, yes… Backpackers on a road trip. Does it ever end well for them? Not onscreen. Without giving too much away, this one deals with three Australians in the outback who run into some trouble and go looking for help. This movie is disturbing and it feels like someone is breathing over your shoulder the entire time. You’ll hate every second as much as you love it. A remake is due out this year, but see this first!

Dead End, (2003) – As the title suggests a family makes a really bad decision on their way to a family Christmas dinner. This is low budget horror at its best. And that’s all I’ll say about it. I don’t want to give anything away.

The Bad Seed, (1956)bad-seed-1956-patty-mccormackAn oldie but a goodie. The original Kiddie Killer is still the creepiest. Played to perfection by a young Patty McCormack, Rhoda Penmark is the perfect little angel. Most of the time. She just gets real upset sometimes. Another movie in black and white, this 1950’s film breaks from the monsters of the time and gives us something far more horrifying: CHILDREN.

Grace, (2009) – Speaking of fucked up children, have you seen Grace? I guess this is more of a fucked up mom, but still. After a tragic accident kills her husband and unborn baby, Madeline Matheson insists on delivering the baby to term anyway. And as you might have guessed, this baby doesn’t want Mother’s Milk. It’s gross and disturbing and pretty much perfect for mom’s to be.

Bug, (2006) – I’m still pissed at my friend who told me to watch this. This movie messed me up for like… six years now? It stars Ashley Judd and the always frightening Michael Shannon as two lonely losers who find solace in each other and a shared delusion. It’s insane. It’s scary. I took a shower after.

O Captain! My Captain! Remembering Robin Williams

Like many people around the worldrobin-williams-by-Samerry[206123], I grew up watching Robin Williams. I watched him go from Mork on Happy Days to becoming an Oscar winner. He was one of the funniest men to ever live, and a great actor. He was quick, biting, clever and still had the ability to make us all feel. He was a human before he was a movie star. And it showed on screen. His movies taught me about life and love and joy and being able to laugh even when things are bad.

The only way I have of honouring his life is to talk about it here. I can honestly say that everything I need to know in life, I learned from one of the greatest. These are ten of my personal favorite Robin Williams films, what they meant to me, and what they taught me.

  1. Popeye (1980) – When I was just six years old, I managed to win tickets to the premeire of Popeye. No one in my family seemed quite as excited as me, but it was my fantastic coloring work that won those tickets. There was a red carpet and cameras and Robin Williams. It was something. The movie got panned, but I still remember that night and that movie. Even though you hate spinach, you gotta eat it. “I hates spinach!”
  2. The World According to Garp (1982) – The John Irving novel is one of my favorite books. I read the book before I saw the movie, so of course I hated the movie. And I hated it for a while. I re-watched the film some years later and I fell in love. Robin Williams played the role of Garp perfectly, quietly and gave life to him. The movie gave me hope as a fellow writer who has a crazy family of her own. “You know, everybody dies. My parents died. Your father died. Everybody dies. I’m going to die too. So will you. The thing is, to have a life before we die. It can be a real adventure having a life.”
  3. Good Morning Vietnam (1987) vietnamI pretty much had this movie memorised. It was the first of Robin Williams as Teacher roles, and I ate it up. I wanted to have a teacher like him! But of course, there aren’t a lot of teachers that can do really great John Wayne impressions. It was also one of the first times we see him as activist. Standing up for what’s right no matter what the consequence. The lesson: “Okay, if someone is not telling the truth, you say that they are full of… (Vietnamese Class: Shit!) If someone has made you angry or angrier, they have…(Vietnamese Class: Pissed me off!)
  4. Dead Poets Society (1989) o-captainIn what way did this movie not change the way I look at life? I was fifteen years old when this came out and I wished, prayed and tried to figure out a way to go to boarding school. In the 50’s. I know, I know. Impossible. But even as a smart ass kid, I understood the message – Carpe diem, boys. Rip up the instructions, fuck the rules, and live life! Suck the marrow from the bone! And, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” I still believe that. And I’m standing on my desk for you.
  5. The Fisher King (1991) TheFisherKingRobinWilliamsPTSonyPicturesStill one of his greatest films. And the life lesson here is pretty simple. “There’s three things in this world that you need: Respect for all kinds of life, a nice bowel movement on a regular basis, and a navy blazer.”
  6. The Birdcage (1996) – For me this movie was the perfect storm of awesome. You get Robin Williams being hilarious yet holding back because you just have to hold back when you are next to Nathan Lane. And you also get Gene Hackman, who can do no wrong. Together they gave this movie just what it needed to work: heart. “Yes, I wear foundation. Yes, I live with a man. Yes, I’m a middle- aged fag. But I know who I am, Val. It took me twenty years to get here, and I’m not gonna let some idiot senator destroy that. Fuck the senator, I don’t give a damn what he thinks.”
  7. Good Will Hunting (1997) – This movie is filled with so much greatness, and most of it is due to Robin Williams. When he says, “It’s not your fault”. You believe it. And you keep believing it. “So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. anigif_enhanced-buzz-13392-1384973721-10_previewBut you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, “once more unto the breach dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you… I don’t see an intelligent, confident man… I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you’re a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my fucking life apart.”
  8. Death to Smoochy (2002) – I think this movie is fantastic and totally underrated. You can have your Jumanji and your Patch Adams. I’ll take a little movie that’s really about making kids happy. And you know what I learned? “Even when you’re squeaky clean, you can still fall in the mud.” Oh, and I also learned that every movie is better with an iceskating dance number at the end. I love you Rainbow Randall. 
  9. One Hour Photo (2002) – I loved creepy Robin Williams. I was happy that he (mostly) stopped doing half assed comedies and did more dark stuff. He was good at dark. His character in this film was sad and frightening. “Family photos depict smiling faces… births, weddings, holidays, children’s birthday parties. People take pictures of the happy moments in their lives. Someone looking through our photo album would conclude that we had led a joyous, leisurely existence free of tragedy. No one ever takes a photograph of something they want to forget.”
  10. World’s Greatest Dad (2009) – I bet you haven’t seen this one. It was fantastic and completely overlooked. It was directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. It’s a little hard to look at now, seeing the way that Robin Williams took his own life. But I’ll never forget the scene at the end when he jumps in the pool. I hope he found the freedom he was looking for. This is how I’ll remember you. “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.” *Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t seen this film, then don’t watch this clip. It’s awesome, but also a huge spoiler. You have been warned. * 

Movies: 10 Best Food Movies

big-nightI just saw John Favreau’s new film Chef. While it was fun and enjoyable to watch, it wasn’t anything special. Here is a film that had every opportunity to say something about food, food culture in America, “food bloggers” and other dilettantes in the industry. But instead of taking a stand they took us on a road trip… in a food truck. Eh. In the end it was just a pretty movie filled with missed opportunities. I was disappointed. Here are ten that hit the mark and made me hungry.

  1. Big Night (1996) – Stanley Tucci co-wrote, co-directed (with Campbell Scott!), and starred in this beautifully crafted, delectable little film about two restaurateurs who hope Louis Prima will save their family business. Aside from Stanley Tucci being an all around badass, this movie makes italian food look so good, so delicious, that’ll you leave wanting to eat like an Italian, drink like an Italian, and just BE Italian. My brother saw this back in 1996 and he’s been pretending to be Italian ever since. I’m so not kidding.
  2. Chocolat (2000) – armandes-party3Take the beautiful and talented Juliette Binoche, (as a single mother who moves to a tiny French village in the 1960s) add a pinch of Johnny Depp, (as a sexy riverboat-dwelling drifter) stir in a little Alfred Molina (as the towns moral compass), and of course a certain sweet, cacao-based quintessence that will open the closed hearts of the suffocating villagers. The cast is full of greats like Lena Olin, Carrie-Anne Moss, and the great Leslie Caron. Oh, and Dame Judi Dench as a grumpy grandmother who curses and tells gore filled stories to little kids. It’s a charming movie that will make you happy and hungry in equal measure.
  3. Ratatouille (2007) – imagesThis movie captures the Foodie attitude perfectly. An adorable rat (who loves to prepare and eat good food) enters the human world where good tasting food is only for those who can afford it. Yes, fine dining with a rat. I can’t think of a better way to give the finger to food snobs than this sweet little movie. Good food should be for everyone, not just industry professionals and foodies. Oh, and an evil food critic named Anton Ego, voiced by Peter O’Toole. Yes please!
  4. Like Water For Chocolate – (1992) 3112406_origSex and food. Love and Death. These are the things that make life worth living. And these are the things worth living for in this delightfully sensuous Mexican film based on the novel by Laura Esquivel.  (Directed by her husband Alfonso Arau.) This movie is an aphrodisiac. It’s hot and spicy, sweet and salty. It’s the perfect balance of food and story.
  5. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (1994) – Ang Lee draws from his own life as he tells the story of Chinese master Chef Mr. Chu, his three daughters and their Sunday night dinners. It’s a heart warming movie that looks at generational clashes and how families grow apart as they grow older. And the food? Wow. Just… wow.
  6. Julie & Julia (2009) – julie and julia2Meryl Streep as Julia Child. Stanley Tucci as Paul Child. Jane Lynch as Julia’s sister, Dorothy. Directed by the late, great Nora Ephron, this movie tells the story of a struggling writer who decides to cook the entire French Cooking cookbook that Julia Child wrote. The movie weaves in and out of present day NY and 1960’s France seamlessly. And Meryl Streep is a joy to watch. Even when she’s just chopping onions.
  7. Food, Inc. (2008) – This movie blew the lid off of corporate farming in America. It shows viewers the reality of processed foods and how those foods are made. Not only is it ruining life for animals, it is harming the humans who farm them. It is an eye-opening film that deserves to been seen by anyone who eats. Yes, that means you.
  8. Mid August Lunch (2008) – static.squarespaceThis movie is about a guy who doesn’t have to do much. He’s a slacker who loves food. His only real responsibility is taking care of his mother. When his friends ask him to look out for their mothers over a long weekend, we get treated to great laughs and fantastic looking food. Four italian mothers at one dinner table = greatness.
  9. Hot Coffee (2011) – In 1994 Stella Liebeck filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s after spilling a hot cup of coffee on her lap. She was an elderly woman when it happened, and the case quickly became a joke for every late-night talk show. But the facts surrounding the case are not as frivolous as they sound. In this movie you get to see the photographic evidence of the injuries she sustained. And it’s bad. If this was YOUR grandma, you’d be pissed. Director Susan Saladoff offers a glimpse at the PR machine a fast-food behemoth like McDonald’s has at its disposal to maintain a positive public image. (Amazon, does this sound familiar? Hmmm?)
  10. The Trip (2010) – The-Trip-007Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon star in the hilarious movie as fictionalised versions of themselves on a restaurant tour of northern England. As is the case in most road movies, the trip becomes an occasion for philosophizing, and talking about real life. It’s a journey inward and out as the friends banter and joust – improvising and entertaining each other. We are even treated to Coogan’s hilarious, spot on imitations of Michael Caine and Sean Connery. They also eat. They eat often and they eat well. They dine in restaurants with incredible views and service, and in places where the dishes are extravagantly conceptualized and prepared.

The Worst Bad Movies

soul-man-originalWe all love a bad movie. There are some movies out there like Battlefield Earth or Beyond The Valley of the Dolls that are so bad, so unbelievably silly, we just can’t look away. But this list isn’t about those kind of bad movies. This list is about movies that were supposed to be good. The criteria for my list is simple: Bad writing, bad concept, bad acting, bad production or bad judgement are all fair game. I’m looking for movies that spent a ton of money and came out with crap. I’m looking for embarrassing performances from reputable actors. I’m looking for movies I walked out of. I’m looking for career enders. So, without further explanation or ado … a list of some of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

Soul Man (1986) This movie is about a man who undergoes “racial transformation” with tanning pills to qualify for a black-only scholarship at Harvard Law School. Yep. This movie was considered to be in poor taste even back in the 80’s when poor taste was a selling point. But a line was crossed. It made people uncomfortable to watch C. Thomas Howell in blackface. And it just wasn’t funny. C. Thomas Howell took all the fame he garnered from The Outsiders and Red Dawn and basically set it on fire. And watched it burn for the next twenty years.

Sex and the City 2 (2010) sex_and_the_city_2_12I was a fan of the HBO series. Not a huge fan. Just a normal fan. I never had watching parties or got drunk with girl friends while watching it. At least not on purpose. But I liked the show well enough to have felt betrayed by the craptastic sequel to the pretty awful first film. Sex and the City was supposed to be about single gals in the big city – what they wore, who they fucked, where they ate, and occasionally what they did for a living. It was great fun. But time is a tricky devil for a franchise centered around single women. Espically when those women reach their mid to late 30’s and they are still single. So, they did what you’d expect – they married off almost all of them. They gave babies to them. They had them quit their jobs. Maybe it made people comfortable to see Carrie married off or to see Miranda finally trade her job for a family. It’s just sad that they had a real opportunity to show a different side of women. They had a chance to be original but instead they opted for ordinary. And that karaoke scene was pure torture.

The Cell (2000) the-cell_jlo_600x400This movie stars Jennifer Lopez as a world renown child psychologist. Wait, it gets better. She has developed a new experimental technology that lets her enter the minds of comatose patients. Still with me? The FBI recruits her to enter the mind of a serial killer to find out where he has hidden his latest kidnap victim. If you can accept all of that, you are a better person that me. JLo spends a great deal of the movie in elaborate costumes, and occasionally smokes weed in her underwear. The always creepy and awesome Vincent D’Onofrio stars as the comatose serial killer. Who for some reason also happens to be trapped in a glass cell which is slowly filling with water. It’s bad. Really bad. Sure the movie is pretty, and the costumes are great, but it takes more than that to make a good movie. A believable plot is a good place to start.

Southland Tales (2006) southland-talesApparently I cannot stand Richard Kelly. He is responsible for this piece of poo as well as my all time least favorite film, Donnie Darko. But unlike Darko, this movie has little to no redeeming qualities. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale about porn stars and the second coming. It stars The Rock, and Sarah Michelle Gellar… as a porn star. And as exciting as that sounds in theory, the sad fact is that the plot makes no sense. Even on repeated viewings. Or attempted repeated viewings. I couldn’t do it twice. I could barely do it once.

Wicker Man (2006) Everyone knows I love me some Nic Cage. One of the things I like best about him is that he is awful and awesome in equal measure. He can do a movie so bad it’s laughable (like this one) and then do something great like Adaptation. The man is a mystery. But his work in the remake of Wicker Man is pretty much the worst thing he has ever, ever done. 

What Dreams May Come (1998) heaven-what-dreams-may-comeWhen Robin Williams makes a stinker he really goes for it. While Bicentennial Man and Patch Adams are both worthy of this list, What Dreams May Come edges out the competition with its vast amount of pure pretension. I hated this movie. Like The Cell, this movie thinks it can forgo a plotline in lieu of really pretty scenery. Sorry. It doesn’t work that way. And like The Cell, it’s really confusing. Robin Williams has a family and they die. Mostly. Then once he and his wife are happy again, he dies. Mostly. He’s kind of alive in heaven and realizes he can control his surroundings with his mind. He then meets Cuba Gooding Jr. who serves as his mentor in heaven and teaches him how to get into other people’s dreams. Ugh. Just… ugh.

After Earth (2013) 124684 I wish Will Smith would stop producing movies for his kids to star in. They all suck, and they just make me mad at Will Smith. This movie was nothing more than a vehicle for him and his son. Did he learn nothing from The Karate Kid fiasco? Will, if you are reading this, please do us all a favor and stick to bitchen’ action movies that require you to appear shirtless for at least 10% of the running time. These movies you are making with your kids are just sad, man. What would Uncle Phil say about using fame to promote your kids? If they are talented they’ll do alright on their own. And, you kind of aren’t helping anyway.

Godfather 3 (1990) godfather-3 I like to pretend this movie doesn’t exist. Without it The Godfather franchise remains unsullied. The story is not up to par, and we don’t really get much of an explanation for why Michael Corleone has gone legit. He’s older and walks with a stoop, and I guess that’s supposed to show us that he’s human. Just what we want in a Godfather movie. Then to compound the bad ideas, Coppola cast his daughter Sophia as Michael Corleone’s daughter Mary. I’m not exaggerating when I say she ruined the entire film. She is horrible. She should stick to being behind the camera. There are numerous scenes of awkward conversation, and Diane Keaton is reduced to a bit part as a “the mother”. Kay deserved better. So, like I said. I like to pretend that this movie doesn’t even exist. It’s just better that way.

Honorable MentionGlitter, Waterworld, Gili, White Chicks, everything ever from Tyler Perry, Catwoman, The Fantastic Four, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and The Twilight Saga movies

 

Film: Oscar Predictions 2014

12-years-a-slaveIt’s been said that you buy a Golden Globe, but you win an Oscar. That may or may not be true. I’m not naive enough to think that there isn’t a big political game played with the Oscars. I know there are huge amounts of money spent by producers (Mr. Weinstein) campaigning for their films. They want votes and they will make sure they get them.

I know all of that and I don’t care. I still love watching the show, being super judgmental about who is wearing what, and of course, being right about who will win. It’s usually pretty easy to figure out who’s gonna win. But this year, this year is a little different. The way I see it, there are two movies which could take the big award, and possibly sweep. ’12 Years a Slave’ and ‘Gravity’. Below are my predictions (and hopes) for who will take home the coveted, eight pound, Golden Man.

Best Picture: ’12 Years a Slave’

Both ‘Gravity’ and ’12 Years a Slave’ have a great chance of winning best picture. Academy voters adore historical biopics, and especially one with this much weight. ’12 Years a Slave’ wasn’t an easy movie to watch. It wasn’t supposed to be. It was supposed to make you hurt and feel. It did both.The acting was superb, and Academy voters have a history of rewarding films like this one. On the other side of the coin we have “Gravity”, a film that showed real cinematic vision and originality. Some people found the script to be far-fetched, but whatever. Have you been to space before? I doubt it. So keep your totally unsubstantiated opinions about what is or isn’t possible about space to yourself. Oh, and remember it’s just a movie.

Although “American Hustle” is gaining momentum at the moment, the votes have already been cast, and I look at it as a long shot. Too bad there isn’t an award for best hair piece in a film. It would totally win. Both ‘Nebraska’ and ‘Philomena’ were better movies than Hustle, but unfortunately they are not sexy and not many people saw either. I did. I saw them both in the theater and said, “Those movies are going to get nominated.” And they did. They just won’t win.

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey – ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

A disheveled Matthew McConaughey gets arrested in scenes for 'The Dallas Buyers Club' in New Orleans Oscar voters love nothing more than someone who gains or loses an insane amount of weight for a role. There is a long list of actors (Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Renee Zellweger, Christian Bale, Charlize Theron, Adrien Brody, Natalie Portman …) who have used this to their advantage. Some people say, “It’s not acting”, but they are wrong. It’s called “Method Acting”. It’s been around since Dustin Hoffman actually ran miles before filming scenes in ‘The Marathon Man’. This year I think it’s safe to say Matthew McConaughy will be added to the list. He gave a great performance as the straight guy who saved the gays in Texas from The Aids. His character was despicable at first, but after he met a drag queen with a heart of gold (Leto) he softened just enough for Academy voters to love him. I think he’s a shoe in. He seems to have stepped away from his Rom/Com roots and wants to be taken seriously now. I can’t believe that I live in a world where Matthew McConaughy will have an Oscar.

The runner-up would be Leo DiCaprio. He’s been working hard at playing crazy, and he got it right in Wolf. Too bad he didn’t lose forty pounds in the process. Better luck next time, Leo. Personally I’d love to see Bruce Dern win. It was a great and subtle performance that deserves more than just a nod from the Academy. But the chances of that happening are slimmer than McConaughy’s waistline.

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – ‘Blue Jasmine’

Blue-Jasmine-Cate-Blanchett-4 For me, it’s a tight race between the always incredible Blanchett and Ms. Bullock. Both women star in films centered around them. For Sandra Bullock especially. I mean, without her there would be no movie at all. She IS ‘Gravity’. And as amazing as her performance was (and it was), I still think the little golden dude will end up in the hands of Cate Blanchett. I saw ‘Blue Jasmine’ in the theaters and left saying, “She’s going to win for Best Actress”. And I still think so. Her role as a wealthy divorcée suffering a meltdown is a Master Class in acting. Every breath she takes is deliberate and spot on. She played a very unlikable woman who you couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for. If the recent Woody Allen scandal doesn’t disrupt voting, you can be assured she’ll walk away with the statue.

And then again, there’s always Meryl Streep.

Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

primary_DallasBuyersClub-2013-4There is no one in the world who I want to punch in the face more than Jared Leto. I can’t stand him. He’s pretentious and obnoxious and a poor excuse for a rock star. But He’ll probably take home the prize this year. It makes me crazy to say it. He’s going to win for playing a sympathetic composite character designed to make McConaughey’s dirt bag character look like he has something resembling a heart. Big whoop. It’s been done before and better than Leto. But I think he’ll win anyway.

I’d love to see Fassbender walk away with the award, but that won’t happen. The Academy rarely gives awards to villains unless the guy was a cute villain like Christoph Waltz in ‘Django Unchained’. There was nothing cute about the bat-shit-crazy slave owner played flawlessly by Fassbender. And that’s why he won’t win. If Leto somehow manages not to win, you can expect to see the statue go to Barkhad Abdi for ‘Captain Phillips’.

Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o – ’12 Years a Slave’

Lupita12yas_2784544bI know that all of America is in love with Jennifer Lawrence at the moment. I get that. I am too! But I still think Lupita Nyong’o will walk away the winner tomorrow night. Her performance was heartbreaking and pretty much perfect. Lawrence won last year for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and I didn’t think she deserved it. And I don’t think she deserves it for her portrayal of a manic house wife in the 70’s. She might win, but it will be due to her popularity as a celebrity more than for her performance. If we are giving acting awards to women playing angry wives, then I think June Squibb ought to win for her perfect portrayal of a bitter, mean-spirited wife in ‘Nebraska’. The chances of her winning are slim, but I’ll be damned happy if it happens.

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón – ‘Gravity’

gravity_ver2_xlgI love his films, and he deserves to win. ‘Gravity’ was a masterpiece. He already took home the Directors Guild award, so I think this one is in the bag. His vision came to life on-screen, and he used some new techniques that raised a few eyebrows in the film world. Steve McQueen is the runner-up in this category, but I don’t think it’s his year.

Best Screenplay, adapted: ’12 Years a Slave’

But don’t count out Jeff Coogan’s touchingly funny ‘Philomena’, a movie based on another horrific true story. ’12 Years’ might have an all around sweep and take everything it is nominated for, but this category might be one that upsets it. Weinstein has been making the rounds with this film, making sure Oscar voters don’t forget about the little movie that packs a huge emotional punch. Don’t count it out just yet. It stars Dame Judi Dench, after all. She won for ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and was on-screen less than eight minutes. Total.

Best Screenplay, original: ‘Her’

I know that’s not the popular choice here, but it is in fact the right choice. It really is an original idea. And that should be rewarded. Most folks are giving it to ‘American Hustle’, but I feel like I’ve seen that movie before. And more than once. It reminded me of ‘American Gangster’ and ‘Casino’. I didn’t find it to be very original at all. This might be the only award given to the wonderful Spike Jonze film. It deserves it. I’d love to see Woody Allen take home the prize, but considering the recent news and scandal, I don’t see that happening.

Best Animated Feature: ‘Frozen’

I don’t see much of a race here. Disney is back in full force with this pro-female cartoon. Everyone loves it, and the lovely and talented Idina Menzel will be on hand to sing “Let It Go” from the film. If for some reason it doesn’t win, expect to see ‘The Wind Rises’ take the prize.

Best Documentary: ‘The Act of Killing’

frontpage1 Another category where I am going against popular opinion, but that’s just how I roll. The odds on favorite to win is ‘Twenty Feet From Stardom’ about the backup singers (like Judith Hill) and legends (like Darlene Love) who sang lead but were never given credit. It’s one of the only nominated films that folks actually saw in theaters, and it made more money than the rest. It will probably win. But I’m still holding out for the incredible film, ‘The Act of Killing’ in which American director Oppenheimer contacted the paramilitary thugs who in the 1960s killed thousands of Indonesian civilians. Nearly 50 years later, he persuaded them to reenact their own crimes, in the form of the Hollywood movies they loved. Yeah, it should totally win.

Best Documentary, short: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Just trust me on this one.

Best Foreign Language film: ‘The Great Beauty’, Italy

I haven’t seen any of the nominated films, so I am guessing here. All of the folks who know about these things agree that ‘The Great Beauty’ will take home the prize.

As for the rest, you’re on your own. Expect ‘Gravity’ to take home editing and cinematography awards, and probably ‘Gatsby’ for costume design. Make-up will go to ‘Dallas’, and you can never go wrong with picking John Williams to win for Best Score. Although ‘Gravity’ might be a solid bet.

I hope my predictions have helped you in your own Oscar pool. But don’t blame me if I’m wrong. There’s a first time for everything.

Film: Top Ten Time-Travel Movies

esq-future-xlg-40192385It’s one of the oldest cinematic devices. It’s been used in comedies, dramas, science fiction, and even romance movies. I’m talking about time-travel. It’s been twenty-five years (this month!) since Bill and Ted hopped in that phone booth and rounded up history’s most famous folks for a class assignment, so I decided to round-up my own famous folks for this list. In honor of Marty McFly and the rest, I give you what I think are the best (and my favorite) time travel movies. In no particular order as usual. Enjoy!

  1. Planet of the Apes (1968) Planet_of_the_apes_Varese_VSD_5848By far one of the greatest “twist” endings in movie history happens in this Heston classic. Heston (who eats every scene he is in) travels to a distant planet only to discover it is inhabited by apes. Apes who walk and talk and have british accents. By the end of the film we discover along with The Hest, that he hasn’t travelled through space, but through time. Oh, and do yourself a favor and skip the horrible 2001 remake.
  2. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) titleThe only film on my list where you just aren’t sure if anyone has actually time-travelled. And that’s why I love this movie so much. It’s time-travel done the “Quirky Indie” way. Aubrey Plaza (Indie’s IT girl) stars as a young woman who answers an ad asking for a partner in (you guessed it) time travel. Is the guy crazy, or has he really found a way to travel through time? You tell me.
  3. Midnight in Paris (2011) urlBy far one of the best films Woody Allen has made in the last twenty years. It stars Owen Wilson as Woody Allen a screenwriter who takes a trip to Paris with his horrible fiancé and her family. While he is there he stumbles into 1920’s Paris and meets all the literary Who’s Who of the famed Expat community. A fantastic movie that reminds us how often we romanticize the past. And how much I miss living in Europe.
  4. Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)  Peggy_Sue_Got_Married_2 Francis Ford Coppola directed this comedy starring none other than Nic Cage. It’s really hard for me to make a list and not include him somehow. And he sings in this movie, which of course makes me even happier. Anyway, the film centers around Kathleen Turner, (the title character) a forty-something housewife who is dissatisfied with her life and her no good husband. She wakes up one morning to find herself as a teenager, living at home with mom and dad. How would you deal with dating the man who you know later in life you would come to divorce? Jim Carey and Joan Allen also have small roles. Great, funny film worth checking out again.
  5. Somewhere in Time (1980) – Christopher Reeve time travels again, but this time he isn’t a super hero. It’s simple. He falls in love with a picture of Jane Seymour and travels back in time to woo her. Self hypnosis is amazing.
  6. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) ST-IV-The-Voyage-Home-Behind-the-Scenes-star-trek-7879787-1000-690I struggled with which Star Trek movie to use since the two that deal with time travel are the best, and I went with the first. Sure, it’s a little cheesy, but that’s what I like about it. Seeing the Enterprise crew walking the streets of a mid-eighties San Francisco is just too much fun. They are trying to save the humpback whale from extinction (naturally) and wear really awesome “future” clothes while doing it.  Look to Spock for some quippy one liners.
  7. Time Bandits (1981) – I saw this movie in the theater when it came out. I was seven and I didn’t understand much. Years later in Prague I re-watched the movie and realized I understood it fine. It was just a Terry Gilliam movie. It’s absurd, funny, raunchy, over the top, and everything you might expect from a Gilliam film. Not for everyone, but it sure is weird. And I like weird.
  8. Twelve Monkeys (1995) tumblr_llo94gIddG1qk59nyo1_400And while we’re talking about Terry Gilliam time-travel movies, I might as well add this one. It stars Bruce Willis as a convict who is sent back in time to find out how the virus that has devastated the earth got started. Brad Pitt steals every scene he is in as the (maybe) crazy inmate Jeffery.
  9. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) tumblr_kti1veVoBU1qa55fxo1_400Special effects. Explosions. Time-traveling. Motorcycle riding. Badass babe. A cyborg made from liquid metal. What’s not to enjoy here?
  10. Back to the Future (1985) – Duh. I’d have to slap myself silly if this classic didn’t appear on the list. The all time best time travel movie ever. Hands down. End of discussion.

Honorable Mentions: Star Trek: First Contact, Time After Time, Groundhog Day, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

My Favorite Unconventional Romance Movies

secretaryYep, it’s that time of year again. Time for restaurants to hike up prices, time for ladies to demand romance and gifts, and time for men to bring home a stuffed bear holding a heart. Yep. It’s Valentine’s Day. I don’t have anything against the holiday. It’s cute, and I like cute things. I do however have a problem with making a huge deal out of it. It’s not called “Get Her an Expensive Gift Day”, ladies.

In honour of this weird little holiday, I give you my favorite off beat romance films. Sure, any list about romance films will have its staples like Casablanca and The Notebook. But not this one! I decided to make a list of the more quirky, interesting love stories out there. They are also my favorites. I hope you enjoy it, and happy Valentine’s Day!

  1. Wild at Heart (1990) – When you think of David Lynch you will probably have one of two reactions: Love or Hate. I am of the former camp. For me, “Wild at Heart” takes all of the best things about David Lynch and puts them all together. He created a truly romantic love story. It tells the story of Lula and Sailor – two star crossed Elvis lovers on the run from the law and Lula’s batshitcrazy mother. Of course there is so much more to it than that, but it’s David Lynch so I am not going to even attempt to explain it. Just know this: Harry Dean Stanton is in it. Nic Cage sings Elvis’s “Love Me” in a thrash Metal bar. Willem Dafoe plays the creepiest creep in all of creepdom. And, the film is a modern-day telling of the Wizard of Oz. Just watch Nic Cage fight for his lady’s honor and his belief in personal freedom. My favorite scene in the film.  
  2. Secretary (2002) – Often looked at as “That S&M movie”, “Secretary is far more than that. The film is about two people who live in a world that doesn’t accept or understand them. It stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as the fresh out of the loony bin girl who just wants to be “normal”. She finds a job working for (the glorious!) Mr. James Spader as his secretary. They quickly realize that they need each other. She needs to be punished for being such a disappointment, and for not being normal. He needs to feel control and he needs to feel safe. The film is off beat, super sexy, funny and dark. In the end it is about true love and self acceptance. “Who’s to say that love needs to be soft and gentle?”
  3. Harold & Maude (1971) – If you don’t like this movie then… you just don’t like. This movie is the ultimate quirky love story. There are no beautiful people with slight mental disorders here. No Hollywood glam. Just some Cat Stevens music, a suicidal teen, and the coolest senior citizen of all time. I strive every day to be more like Maude. 
  4. Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – What’s better than a coming of age love story? A coming of age love story directed by Wes Anderson. If you didn’t see this in the theater, you missed out. And there is a kitten in it. 
  5. Brokeback Mountain (2005)Brokeback_Mountain,_2005,_Jake_Gyllenhaal,_Heath_LedgerBlah, blah, blah gay cowboy movie blah blah. Did you get it out of your system? Can we move past the shock of two men kissing? Good. Now that we have all grown the fuck up we can look at this great movie for what it is: A tragic love story. I think I cried for a solid hour or three during and after this one. Love isn’t always a splendored thing. Sometimes it hurts, it breaks your heart and leaves you broken. This movie is a story of two people who fall in love, and cannot find a way to be together. So they do the best they can, and we all know how that usually turns out. Heath Ledger gave the performance of his career in this film with quiet, understated pain. The entire cast is spot on. It is a wonderful film. Just don’t go looking for any happily ever after here.
  6. True Romance (1993) – There is so much good here, I hardly know where to begin. You get Patricia Arquette playing the adorable Alabama Worley, a street smart call girl with a penchant for Kung Fu movies. She falls in love with Clarence (Christian Slater) and they get married. And then they start having a few problems. What problems? Let’s see… there’s a crazy pimp (played by Gary Oldman), a stoner roommate (played perfectly by Brad Pitt), an insane Sicilian (played by Christopher Walken) and a great dad (played by Dennis Hopper). Yeah, trouble. I didn’t even mention James Gandalfini getting his ass handed to him by a badass and bloody Arquette. So good. If you are a fan of violence and romance, then this is for you. 
  7. Ruby Sparks (2012) –  Have you ever read a book and wished that a character was real because you fell in love with them? Well, in this film a novelist creates a character and then pretty much wills her into being. It’s quirky, sad, and funny. Paul Dano stars as the novelist in one of the first roles he’s played that doesn’t creep me out. Oh, and Elliot Gould is in it. That’s reason enough to see it. 
  8. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)lars-and-the-real-girl2Long before anyone really noticed what a hottie Ryan Gosling is, he starred in a bunch of strange indie movies. This is one of them. It’s a touching story about a man who finds love… with a silicone sex doll. I’m sure he’s not the first dude to proclaim love for a sex toy, but he might be the first guy who forms an emotional bond with it. The movie is funny and touching, and watching it makes you happy that you know actual people who can love you back.

The Scariest Ghost Movies of All Time

drag-me-to-hell-610x354It depresses me greatly to think about how far from scary Halloween has become. People don’t seem concerned about looking scary, or having a good scare. Halloween seems to be about sex and candy. Two things I am all for by the way, but Halloween should be scary. So, if you are planning a Halloween party, or you just want to get in the spirit of the holiday, try these oh so scary Ghost Stories.

Drag Me to Hell (2009) Sam Raimi excels at horror. He also excels at dark comedy. When you put those together you get classics like Army of Darkness, and this little gem. This is the story of a young loan officer who denies a really gross old lady a loan, and therefore gets gross old lady evicted from her home. Then gross old lady attacks Sweet Young Loan officer and puts a curse on her. The rest super fun so I won’t spoil it. But… there is a goat possession. That’s right. GOAT. POSSESSION.

The Others (2001) A fresh take on the Haunted House genre starring Nicole Kidman as a woman who lives in a huge house with her two weird kids who are sensitive to light. There are creepy caretakers, and odd nannies, and there are even cool, twisted memento mori photographs scattered about to keep the spooky vibe. I saw this in the theater when it came out and left happy. It’s a good one.

being possessed is hard work

being possessed is hard work

Amityville Horror (2005) I’m not usually a supporter of horror remakes, but in this case I’ll make an exception. The 70’s version just doesn’t stand the test of time. It’s hard to take a haunting seriously when James Brolin is brooding under six tons of facial hair. It’s much easier to take a haunting seriously when the unhappy ghosts want to inhabit the incredibly chiseled body of Ryan Reynolds.

Ghostbusters (1984) Ok, so Ghostbusters isn’t really scary. But, when I was ten years old seeing it on a big screen, it was pretty close. While it offers a few jumps and jolts, the most frightening parts of the film involve Rick Moranis trying to flirt, Zuul’s dogs, and a giant marshmallow man which terrorizes New York. It still holds up after all these years.

The Haunting (1963) I read The Haunting of Hill House in high school. I loved it. It was the first book that ever scared me. The book has been made into a movie more than once, but this is the best version. A doctor is researching the existence of ghosts in a really creepy old mansion that has a lurid history of death and insanity. The always amazing Julie Christie plays Nell – the young psychic who has a really hard time dealing with crazy.

The Shining (1980) the-shining-snow1The Grandfather of all ghost stories comes from the master of horror himself, Stephen King. Many people complain that the book is scarier than the movie. Whatever. Learn that film and literature are two different mediums, and that those two mediums work in two different ways. It’s like comparing apples to a steak. Anyway, Jack Nicholson is a writer with the worst case of writer’s block, like ever. He takes his family to The Overlook Lodge in order to work as the caretaker over the winter. Things start going spooky almost immediately. Look for Scatman Crothers as the Chef with the shining. Watch this together with Room 237 if you want to spend four hours in terror.

The Sixth Sense (1999) You all know the big secret of this movie, but knowing the secret doesn’t make the movie any less scary. Bruce Willis plays a shrink who is trying to help a cute little boy who thinks he sees ghosts. Angry ghosts. Mean ghosts. Ghosts who like opening cabinets… and not shutting them!

The Devil’s Backbone (2001) A movie directed by Guillermo Del Torro and produced by Pedro Almodovar is a movie worth seeing. Carlos is a twelve-year-old boy who stumbles upon an orphanage in the midst of the Spanish Civil war. He soon discovers the schools dark secrets, and its ghosts. This movie is awesome.

915852_originalThe Frighteners (1996) Long before Peter Jackson was gallivanting around New Zealand making gay hobbit porn, he made movies like this one. (And Dead Alive. And Meet the Feebles) Michael J. Fox plays a man who recently lost his family in a car accident. He soon discovers he can communicate with the dead and make a living as a phony paranormal expert. Not to be confused with a real paranormal expert. This is a pretty scary movie for young viewers, and the special effects are still pretty awesome.

Top 10 Misfit Documentaries

littleedieI’m a documentary junkie. I’ll watch a documentary about history, true crime, art, science, society …whatever. I realize that I have included many documentaries on past lists, but I have never made  best documentaries list. I’m calling them “misfit documentaries” because these movies don’t really fit into a category. They are strange and peculiar and wonderful each in their own unique way. Hopefully you’ll find a few new films to add to your movie que. (I didn’t include obvious films like “Grizzly Man”, or “West of Memphis” because I really wanted to find a few gems most of you haven’t seen.) So, without further ado – My Top 10 Misfit Documentaries.

  1. Marwencol – This movie moved me in ways that I still think about years after viewing the film. It tells the story of artist and photographer Mark Hogancamp who survived being beaten, nearly to death, by five men outside of a bar. He spent nine days in a coma, and forty days in the hospital before being discharged with brain damage so severe it left him with little to no memory. At all. The film shows his recovery through his art – photographs of dolls and action figures that tell the story of his “previous life”. Or at least what he wants his life to have been. It is an amazing movie of survival that makes you appreciate your life and those you care for. 
  2. King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters – This movie will speak to your inner kid if your inner kid liked to play video games at the local pizza joint or arcade. This movie follows a group of competitive Donkey Kong players. It’s a race for the high score to beat all high scores. The movie is fun and entertaining til the end. It gives you a good guy and a bad guy and an all around happy feeling by the end. 
  3. Winnebago Man – This movie is bound for cult status. It is an incredible and very touching story of a man who was known for, well, getting really pissed off. If you look up “Winnebago Man” on YouTube you’ll find a video of a man trying to get his lines right for a Winnebago commercial. He became an internet sensation and a couple of film makers set out to find this guy, and see what happened to him. What they find is more than just a foul-mouthed man. His story is awesome. 
  4. Stories We Tell – This follows director/actor Sarah Polley’s search for truth within her own family. The film uncovers the secrets and lies that all families have and brings them up front and personal. It’s a brave movie that makes me like Sarah Polley even more than I already did. 
  5. Monster Road – I love watching movies about creative people like underground artist Bruce Bickford. We get to see what makes them tick and what their process is. In this movie we not only get to meet the artist, but we are also treated to his father who is just as eccentric. Bruce Bickford is pretty famous in the underground art world and did a fair amount of collaboration with Mr. Frank Zappa. He’s pretty rad. 
  6. Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple – This story has always captivated me. What would lead over 900 people to follow a man to their deaths? The term “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” came from this story. I like this movie because it starts at the beginning, and we get to see what attracted people to Jim Jones in the first place, and how very manipulative he was. 
  7. Kumaré – While we’re on the subject of false prophets, I thought I would mention the mind splitting awesome Kumaré – a film that explores Americans need for a guru, a spiritual leader. This guy decided to just become a Guru… and it worked! People followed him! It shows how the lie affected the people who followed him, and how it affected him and his life. A great little lesson in this one. 
  8. Grey Gardens – I can’t make a list about misfits and not include Little Edie. I know most of you have seen this movie, but if you haven’t then you get the joy of seeing it for the first time. And you won’t believe what you see is real, but it is.  Grey Gardens tells the story of the Beales – Former socialites, a mother and daughter who live in an old mansion with too many cats, and no running water. Little Edie was the first cousin of Jackie Kennedy and fancied herself a singer, dancer and entertainer. She failed to find “a suitable husband” and moved in with her mother Big Edie in her home in The Hamptons. What you get is a sad story of how the need for fame and fortune can ruin a person. Or save them. 
  9. Stop Making Sense – Still one of the all time great music documentaries. It’s no coincidence that David Byrne has something to do with it. In 1984, well before filming bands was cool, Jonathan Deme filmed one of the best concert documentaries of all time. Stop Making Sense captures The Talking Heads in all of their weird, quirky glory. It shows you first hand the artistry that went into their shows and their music. And we get to watch David Byrne dance in an oversized, boxy suit which is nothing short of delightful. 
  10. Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred Leuchter – This is the guy who invented the modern day electric chair. His father was a corrections officer, and when Fred was a young boy he witnessed a few executions. As he grew older he saw the chair as ineffectual and unsafe and he revamped the model. Oh, and he denies The Holocaust ever happened. 

Best Feel Good Movies

ANCHORMANSometimes life just grinds you down and makes you want to lay on the sofa eating humus and pita chips. Maybe you feel sad or bored or mad or… just plain old bummed. I’ve put together a small collection of some of my favorite movies for getting me out of a funk. If you want to be in a better mood, then try watching one of these movies. Everyone needs an escape now and then.

**Please note that not all of these movies are your typical “feel good” movies. It sometimes makes me feel really good to watch a bad guy get his ass handed to him. Other times it makes me happy to see Adam Sandler yell at a golf ball. It just depends on my mood. This is just a short list and by all means not comprehensive. I’ll try to sprinkle a little variety on top for ya, but feel free to leave your own favorite Feel Good Movies in the comments.**

  1. Anchorman – No matter how many times I see this movie I still end up laughing. Of all the silly Will Ferrell movies, this is my favorite. Steve Carrell is hilarious.
  2. Julie & Julia – This movie features Meryl Streep as Julia Child. That should be reason enough to see it. But, if you are looking for a movie that just makes you happy, this is it. Great performances and it is based on a true story. A woman blogs her way through Julia’s famous cookbook. While doing so, we are treated to flashbacks of Julia’s life in France and how she got started cooking. A really fun movie.
  3. The Princess Bride –
    PB reunion shot

    PB reunion shot

    This is the definition of “Feel Good Movie”. Pirates. Battles. Sword fights. Andre the Giant. Mandy Patinkin. Christopher Guest. R.O.U.S’s. And yes, there is kissing. But we can skip that part if you want.

  4. Stick It – I watch this movie when I am feeling lethargic and like eating all of the ice cream. Watching a bunch of super fit athletes (they used real gymnasts in the film along side the actors) workout makes me feel like working out. Sometimes it works! This movie is like “Bring it On” but with gymnastics and Jeff Bridges instead of cheerleading and Kirsten Dunst.
  5. The 40 Year Old Virgin – I had this movie on DVD when I moved to Prague. I must have watched it at least 100 times that first year. It was the only movie (in english) that we had access to. It was funny every single time.
  6. Romancing the Stone53romancing-the-stoneThis one  is perfect to watch when you are feeling like life is boring and blah. Nothing can kick-start my need for getting out-of-town like this one. I love watching Joan Wilder outwit crocodiles, drug smugglers, evil kidnappers and Danny DeVito. It’s super campy and 80’s and that’s why I love it.
  7. The Shawshank Redemption – There isn’t much I can say about this movie that hasn’t already been said. It’s great. The idea that a man can stay true to himself and be awesome under the worst of situations is why we go to the movies. We want to see Red get of jail and find his friend Andy waiting for him on the shores of a Mexican beach. We want to believe that we can do better. If this movie doesn’t make you feel a little happy then maybe you should try harder.
  8. Grosse Point Blank – I love comedy mixed with explosions and gun fights. I love shoot outs that involve mini-marts. I like Jeremy Piven and John Cusack together. This movie has a little something for everyone. It’s funny, violent, sweet and it features Dan Aykroyd as a professional assassin and a super badass soundtrack. What’s not to love? 
  9. Little Miss Sunshine – Much like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” got me through Prague that first year, this movie got me through living in Mexico. I was fairly  isolated there, and I didn’t have a car. And I didn’t have any money. (Teachers in Mexico make even less than teachers in Prague) I spent a lot of time in my little apartment amusing myself by watching movies. I couldn’t get reliable internet there so I was limited to DVDs until my neighbor and fellow teacher/friend got a Blockbuster card. Whoo hoo! Until then I had just a handful of movies to watch. I watched this one a lot. It made me happy every time.
  10. Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior – I love old school kung-fu movies, and karate movies. Sure I liked Crouching Tiger, but seeing people flying on wires doesn’t impress me as much as watching badass dudes do amazing things physically. I think that’s why I like watching Ninja Warrior. Tony Jaa performs all of his own stunts in this movie. It’s crazy good. The story doesn’t really matter. All you need to know is that you get to see beautiful shots of Thailand and watch Jaa do crazy things with his body. It’s beyond impressive.