Tuesday, December 11, 2018

favorite movie #105 - holiday edition: the family stone

Favorite movies that have had an impact on me - #105 - The Family Stone (2005) - The Family Stone centers around Stone matriarch Diane Keaton and how she and her family react to eldest son Everett (Dermot Mulroney) bringing home his girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) to meet the family at Christmas — and to ask his mother for his grandmother's ring — to propose to her. This doesn't go over well with anyone, as Meredith is like oil to the Stone's water, particularly youngest daughter Amy (Rachel McAdams), who loathes Meredith at first sight. Holidays with the family can be stressful for us all, and I like how the Stone clan is quirky and tight, but also underneath all their sarcasm, full of love. Craig T. Nelson is wonderful as always as patriarch Kelly. He and son Ben (Luke Wilson) try to be supportive to the awkward Meredith. Tyrone Giordano does his best with the under-written role of Thad, another Stone son, who happens to be deaf and gay. Claire Danes shows up about midway as Meredith's sister Julie, to complicate things.

Sybil and Kelly Stone (Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson)
Sybil greets Thad (Tyrone Giordano)
Charades with this family are never simple. Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) tries to communicate with the Stones

Sunday, December 09, 2018

favorite movie #104 - holiday edition: the lion in winter

Favorite movies that have had an impact on me - #104 - The Lion in Winter (1968) - It's Christmastime, 1183, and King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) wants his youngest son John (Nigel Terry) to succeed him. His wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn), does not. She wants their eldest son, Richard (Anthony Hopkins) to be king of France and England. Middle son Geoffrey (John Castle)? No one seems to want him. Just a typical marital spat between powerful rulers? Not exactly. Henry has had Eleanor imprisoned for years, to punish her for suspected treason and to curb and control her power. The Lion in Winter is not history exactly, but it is a wonderful imagining of how this historical family may have interacted. Mostly it is delightful to watch.

Eleanor (Katharine Hepburn) and Henry (Peter O'Toole)
L-R: John (Nigel Terry), Eleanor, Richard (Anthony Hopkins), and Geoffrey (John Castle)

Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn): I adored you. I still do.
Henry II (Peter O'Toole): Of all the lies you've told, that is the most terrible.
Eleanor of Aquitaine: I know. That's why I've saved it up until now.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

favorite movie #103 - holiday edition: the holiday

Favorite movies that have had an impact on me - #103 - The Holiday (2006) - Iris (Kate Winslet) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) are severely unlucky at love. To escape their most recent heartbreaks they switch houses on a home-exchange website for the holidays — Iris moving into Amanda's palatial L.A. mansion, where she meets musician Miles (Jack Black), and Amanda into Iris's charming, but very quiet Surrey cottage. Quiet, that is, until Iris's brother Graham (Jude Law) stops by looking for his sister. The Holiday on its surface is a fairly standard rom-com. You'd have to have never seen one before to not guess the outcome. What sets it apart from the pack is the charm of its four leads and the twin holiday backdrops of wintry Surrey and sunny Hollywood. There is also some great supporting work from Eli Wallach, who plays a Classic Old Hollywood screenwriter who teaches Winslet about meet-cutes and how to be a gal with gumption.


Holiday connection: Home and life swapping during the holiday season

Friday, December 07, 2018

favorite movie #102 - holiday edition: pocketful of miracles

Favorite movies that have had an impact on me - #102 - Pocketful of Miracles (1961) - Superstitious bootlegger Dave the Dude (Glenn Ford) won't make a move without the good luck apples he gets from street person Apple Annie (Bette Davis). But Annie has gone off the rails — her young daughter Louise (Ann-Margret, in her debut role), who has been educated abroad, is engaged and coming to the U.S. to meet her mother for the first time. And Louise thinks her mother is a socialite, Mrs. E. Worthington Manville. The Dude can't do business without Annie, and Annie can'r sell apples when she's on a bender. The Dude's girlfriend Queenie (Hope Lange) tries to fix up Annie while his right-hand man Joy Boy (Peter Falk) tries to salvage his business — and steals the movie. It's all very silly and sentimental and lots of fun. Fun fact: Director Frank Capra had filmed the story once before, as Lady for a Day, in 1933.

Dave the Dude (Glenn Ford) and Joy Boy (Peter Falk) pick up one of Annie's (Bette Davis) apples
Annie tries to pick up her letter from Louise at a fancy hotel
Queenie's nightclub act
Hope Lange as Queenie
Peter Falk as Joy Boy
The dude still needs Annie's apples
Ann-Margret as Louise

Holiday connection: Louise's visit takes place during the Christmas season.