Watch It: Perry Mason

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Here we are, on snow day #5 of the school year (2nd in a row of this week). This winter has been brutally cold! As a teacher, I of course enjoy the snow days (any teacher who doesn’t enjoy them, even a little bit, is lying to themselves and to you). However, as a high school swim coach, I’m not a great fan of snow days getting in the way of practice. Since I can’t control the weather or the district’s calling of snow days, though, I try not to stress out about it and fully enjoy my snow day. A key component of that enjoyment, for me, is watching Perry Mason reruns.

Perry Mason is an American court drama that aired from 1957-1966 on CBS.  Every time I have the day off of work and I have the opportunity to catch a rerun, I do so because

 

  1. Perry Mason is a smart show. Like a lot of people, sometimes I attempt to take care of things on the computer or play around on my phone while also half-paying attention to what’s on TV. I can do this with Bones (one of my all-time favorite shows), Law & Order, Body of Proof, etc., but I can’t do this with Perry Mason, not without missing a key detail. The show is well-written, with its focus based on the relationships and motives of its characters, rather than on shocking acts of violence, intense action sequences, or emphasis on technology.
  2. The acting is fantastic. Raymond Burr starred as Perry Mason, earning two Emmys during the show’s duration. Barbara Hale, who played Mason’s secretary Della Street, earned an Emmy for her role on the show as well.  William Hopper, the actor who brought Mason’s private detective Paul Drake to life, was also nominated for his work on the show.
  3. In addition to wonderful acting by the series regulars, Perry Mason often featured guest stars past and present viewers would get a kick out of seeing. Such stars included Dick Clark, Robert Redford, Leonard Nimoy, Cloris Leachman, and Bette Davis.
  4. Perry Mason is mostly formulaic. Most episodes begin with a scene or two introducing the soon-to-be defendant and victim. Perry somehow gets introduced and linked to defendant. Someone is killed. Perry and the police both begin their investigations. The evidence keeps pointing to Perry’s client. A hearing or trial occurs. Perry presents his case and ends up revealing another person as the lead suspect. More often that not, that person will end up confessing on the stand. The episodes almost always end with Perry, Della, and Paul, and sometimes the client who was just proven innocent, chatting and laughing in Perry’s office or in a restaurant. A lot of people don’t like it when their shows are formulaic, but as someone who thrives in routine, I enjoy it – especially since every show includes a new mystery to fit into that formula.
  5. It’s a black-and-white blast from the past. I love watching reruns with my dad, who remembers watching them with his late mom when the show was originally on air. The men all wear suits, trench coats, and hats, and the women all wear pencil skirts and have their hair and lipstick perfectly in place. It’s a fun trip back in time to an age that many people view as classy and more wholesome, but via storylines that remind you no time was truly an age of innocence.

Perry Mason episodes are currently shown on MeTV and the Hallmark Movie Channel.  You can also find full episodes available for streaming here.

 

(image source)

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watch it: movies i’ve seen summer 2012

 

Movie: The Avengers
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

See it if you enjoy: Ironman, the Hulk, Thor, or Captain America, insane special effects, and movies filmed in Cleveland ; )

MoviePrometheus
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

See it if you enjoythe Aliens movie franchise or serious-style sci-fi, alternate stories of how humans came to be, and gross and somewhat gory scenes

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
See it if you enjoyclassic Will Smith humor alongside a Tommy Lee Jones-style straight man, stories that involve time-travel, and sci-fi with heart

 

Movie: Brave
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

See it if you enjoyanything Pixar has made, Scottish accents, movies about mothers and daughters, and fairy tales

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
See it if you enjoycomic book-inspired superhero movies, new tellings of familiar stories, and the acting of Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, Andrew Garfield, and Emma Stone

 

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
See it if you enjoyBatman Beyond and The Dark Knight, stories about the strength of the human spirit, and the spectacular acting of too many stars to name

 

Movie: The Watch
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
See it if you enjoygoofy and crude humor full of quotable lines, silly alien stories, and the acting of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade

 

Has anyone else seen any of these films? What did you think of them?

 

watch it: movies i’m excited to see this summer

School may not be out for the K-12 set yet, but for the past four years summer started in May for me, and I would like to continue that tradition – even if I can only be in a summer frame of mind for now! There are many things I love about summer (sunshine, baseball, ice cream, pools and beaches, driving with all the windows down and music up, my birthday, 4th of July, etc.), but one of my favorites is the onslaught of big movies that hit the theaters. Here are the movies I’m most looking forward to seeing this summer! (Or hit up Redbox for when they’re on DVD. Let’s be real.)

 


  • The Avengers, May 4 – I love movies based on comic books, particularly the Marvel franchise. I greatly enjoyed all the movies leading up to The Avengers (Ironman 1 & 2, Thor, & especially Captain America), so I can’t wait for this film! Bonus: The Avengers was filmed in Cleveland! And has some supremely attractive stars.
  • Dark Shadows, May 11 – I never saw the TV show, but the plot intrigues me. The trailer definitely drew me in, not to mention the fact that Johnny Depp, Michelle Phiefer, and Chloe Grace Mortez, all who always give outstanding performances, all have starring roles.
  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting, May 18 – I don’t know what I can say about this movie except that it looks freaking hilarious and stars a ridiculous amount of my favorite actors.
  • Men in Black III, May 25 – Any child of the 90s who knows what’s up is excited for this movie. IT’S ANOTHER MEN IN BLACK FILM.  If I have to offer further explanations to you about why this is exciting, we have a problem.

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  • Prometheus, June 8 – Okay, I’m not actually super psyched for this movie of my own volition. Dan is mega excited and I am excited on his behalf. Plus he promised he’d buy me a big popcorn when we go see it.
  • Rock of Ages, June 15 – I love musicals in any form, so I’m pretty excited for this movie just because it’s a movie musical. However, it’s directed by Adam Shankman, who was responsible for the awesome musical version of Hairspray!, and stars a ton of big stars who have reputations for delivering excellent performances.
  • Brave, June 22 – I am obsessed with Disney and Disney-Pixar movies. I am WAY pumped for another Pixar film, particularly the company’s first fairy tale and first movie starring a female protagonist. (Even if they happen to coincide within the same film. I’m not that picky.)
  • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, June 22 – I love road trips, which this movie definitely has, and Steve Carrell, Keira Knightley, and Patton Oswalt, which this movie also has.

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  • Magic Mike, June 29 – Channing Tatum, aside from being extremely nice to look at, was hilarious in the recent 21 Jump Street. If the trailer is any indication, this movie should also provide plenty of laughs – and even more shirtless Channing Tatum. Everybody wins!
  • People Like Us, June 29 – While I tend to gravitate towards children’s movies, big-budget action movies, and comedies (as the previously listed movies indicate), I certainly enjoy a well-done drama every now and then. This film looks like such a choice! It centers on questions of family and trust, and stars underrated actors I love like Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man, July 6 – I credit the early 2000s Spider-Man franchise for jumpstarting my love of comic book movies, so naturally I’m beyond excited for this reboot. Plus – Andrew Garfield? Emma Stone? Yes!!
  • The Dark Knight Rises, July 20The Dark Knight was not only a masterpiece of the comic book movie genre, but a masterpiece film in general. I cannot wait to see this follow up, especially since it will add the likes of Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Liam Neeson, and Marion Collitard to the already superb acting of Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freedman, and Michael Caine.

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  • Neighborhood Watch, July 27 – I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this movie’s plot, but it stars people I love for their comedic skill, like Jonah Hill, Vince Vaughn, and Ben Stiller, so I’m hoping it will turn out to be pretty entertaining.
  • The Campaign, August 10 – In this film, Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis go head to head as politicians with presidential aims. That enough convinces me to watch this movie. Add in Jason Sudeikis, John Lithgow, and Dan Akyroyd, and I’m set.
  • Hope Springs, August 10 – This is a “movie for grown-ups” about a couple that’s been together for 30 years and wants to rebuild their spark. Plus, I love anything Meryl Streep and/or Steve Carrell does. The end. Oh, and Tommy Lee Jones is pretty cool, too.

Here are some other summer preview lists in case you are interested: IMDB, IGNEntertainment Weekly, Toronto Sun.

Are you excited for any of these movies? Or movies that aren’t on the list? 

 

 

watch it: mirror, mirror

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Notable Cast Members: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno, Martin Klebba, Ronald Lee Clark

Overall Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆  (rating rationale)

Plot Summary: Snow White (Lily Collins) was just a young girl when her father, the King, went into the woods and never returned. Her stepmother, the Queen (Julia Roberts), became Snow’s guardian and the ruler of the kingdom. On Snow’s eighteenth birthday, the servants within the castle encourage Snow to take hold of her life, finally leave the castle, and visit the people of the kingdom. While traveling, she runs into the Prince of Valencia (Armie Hammer), who had been robbed by “giant” bandits (the seven dwarves on stilts) and was in need of assistance. After helping him and his servant, she finally makes it to the town and is horrified by what she discovers: the townspeople are starving and constantly taxed by the Queen. Later the evening, at the ball, Snow tries to convince the Prince – who she learns has an army – to help her get rid of the Queen. Snow, who had been banned from the ball, is found out and questioned by the Queen. The Queen orders Brighton (Nathan Lane), her number one servant, to take Snow to the woods and kill her so she will not interfere with taxing the townspeople or the Queen’s plan to marry the rich Prince of Valencia, who is clearly smitten with Snow. Brighton, remembering her father as a wonderful man, can’t bring himself to kill her and lets her run free. Snow is taken in by the seven dwarves (Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno, Martin Klebba, and Ronald Lee Clark), who turn out to be thieves. Snow teaches them use their skills to help the townspeople rather than advance themselves, and they teach her how to fight. Together, Snow and the dwarves work to save the Prince and the kingdom from the Queen’s evil clutches.

Personal Thoughts: I really liked this film for several reasons:

  1. I loved the acting. Julia Roberts was superb as always, but it was a lot of fun to watch her play the villan rather than the protagonist. Lily Collins was perfect for the role of Snow White, pulling off the twist on the classic character brilliantly. Nathan Lane and Armie Hammer were excellent supporting cast members, adding healthy doses of humor as well as depth to their characters. The seven gentlemen acting as the dwarves were wonderful, definitely as individual actors but especially as an ensemble. I particularly enjoyed Jordan Prentice as Napoleon, Danny Woodburn as Grimm, and Mark Povinelli as Half Pint.
  2. The story was a quite fun take on the Snow White tale. I loved that this character of Snow was a lot more brave, courageous, and creative than past portrayals. She was ready to take initiative to protect her kingdom, her friends, and her prince, and did so with grace and class. I also liked how this film portrayed the idea of the magic mirror and how it interacts with the queen.
  3.  I was truly blown away by the costumes and make-up. They added immensely to the telling of the story and were a pleasure to look at.
  4. The ending credits (I won’t give anything away, just watch!).
  5. Overall, I thought this movie was a ton of fun! As a young woman who loves cheesiness, fairy tales, and children’s movies, I greatly enjoyed it. However, I also appreciated it for the fact that it provides such a strong female lead for young girls in this version of Snow. I would have loved this movie when I was little!

 

 

read it & watch it: the hunger games

Writing this post feels a little silly, simply because The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins is a worldwide phenomenon and hardly needs to be recommended to anyone at this point. However, since I neglected to discuss the series this summer when I finally read it for the first time, and since the movie was absolutely fantastic, I couldn’t resist the urge to chat about the series and all its forms with all of you!

 

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Let’s start from the beginning: the books. I’m not going to summarize the plots, since (1) you can find dozens of well-written synopsi elsewhere on the web and (2) I don’t want to reveal any spoilers. I wouldn’t call myself a diehard fan of the series – maybe more like avid. My level of admiration for The Hunger Games is nowhere near my Harry Potter devotion, but is definitely greater than my basic enjoyment of the Twilight saga. I couldn’t put the first book (The Hunger Games) down. I found the idea of a dystopian future interesting and the concept of the Hunger Games disturbing yet weirdly fascinating. All the characters are well-developed, revealing their humanity through both their strengths and weaknesses despite the troubling nature of their society. I really admire Katniss as a heroine, as she is smart, strong, independent, and caring. I also found the story itself to be particularly action-packed. I found the second book, Catching Fire, to be just as engaging and action-driven. I really liked the increasing complexity of the relationships between various characters and the growing questions about the society and its government. I still have trouble deciding which of the first two books I like more. I do know, at least after my initial reading of the series, that the third and final book, Mockingjay, was my least favorite (a sentiment several of my friends share). However, once I started to really think about it, I think it was because I was expecting Mockingjay’s action to be as driven by survival and manipulation as the first two books, where as it is actually much more driven by the political storyline of the trilogy. I think if I had known before reading it that Mockingjay‘s focus was going to be more political (for lack of a better word) than The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I would have enjoyed it more. Probably just as much! Overall, I was pretty satisfied with how everything played out and how Mockingjay ended. I’d really like to read the whole series over again sometime soon – I feel like it’s one of those series you enjoy more and more with each reading.

 

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Now: the movie. As I’ve noted, I enjoy most movies I see. This fact is especially true if the movie is based off of a book or some other story of which I am already a fan. The Hunger Games was no exception to this rule, though I truly feel the movie was an excellent adaptation of the book. Erin of Forever Young Adult summed it up especially well: “I thought it made a solid (though too long) movie from a book that spends a lot of time in the main character’s head.” (However, I disagree about the length. While it was a little over 2.5 hours, it didn’t drag.)

The movie was extremely well-casted. Jennifer Lawrence was just brillant. I can’t imagine another young actress who could play Katniss Everdeen as well as she did, especially considering how complex of a character Katniss starts off as and continues to become throughout the series. I was at first skeptical of Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, but after seeing the movie, feel as though he is a perfect fit for the character and had great chemistry with all of his castmates. Gale Hawthorne, played by Liam Hemsworth, does not have that large of a role in the first installment of the series, so I don’t have much to say about Hemsworth’s performance other than it was pleasantly done. Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, and Woody Harrelson, as Effie Trinket, Cinna, and Haymitch Abernathy, respectively, were all impressive in their roles (especially Banks). I’m excited to see their performances as their characters develop further in the series. The young supporting cast members were also superb, particularly Willow Shields as Primrose Everdeen (Katniss’s younger sister), Amandla Stenberg as Rue, and Alexander Ludwig as Cato. Oh, and it pretty much goes without saying that Donald Sutherland (as President Snow) and Stanley Tucci (as Caesar Flickerman) were excellent, per usual.

 

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Aside from the wonderful casting (which truly made the movie), I liked the overall atmosphere and style of the film (the cinematography, the score, the color palette, make-up, costume design, etc.), as it all contributed to how engaging the film was. The only complaint I had about the film was in regards to its handling of the love triangle between Peeta, Katniss, and Gale. Without giving too much away for anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with the book or movie, I basically wish the movie could have portrayed Katniss’s inner monologue on the issue a bit more. I think it was portrayed pretty well considering there’s no narration in the movie (which would have been weird) and satisfyingly enough if you’ve already read the books, but I feel it may cause people who only see the movies to draw different conclusions about the love triangle than people who have read. I concede it’s a pretty strange point to be picky over, but as my friends and I discussed this week, there seems to be a consistent pattern in YA media in which a female protagonist has to be in love (or some sort of love triangle, apparently), and I think the books do a great job of making the romance issue a more complex, organic, and connected to the overall storyline than a basic teenage love story.

In any case, I can’t wait to see the next installments of the film series! I expect I’ll be visiting the theater another time or two in the next few weeks in attempt to tide myself over ; )

 

Have you read The Hunger Games series? What did you think of it? Did you like the movie?

 

 

watch it: 21 jump street


Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest




Notable Cast Members:

Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Ellie Kemper, DeRay Davis

Overall Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (rating rationale)

Plot Summary: Schmidt (Jonah Hill) has his brains going for him. Jenko (Channing Tatum) has his braun. At the police academy, the two set aside differences from high school and join forces to help each other become police officers. In the process, they also become best friends and partners. After screwing up their first attempt at a major arrest, the deputy chief (played by Parks and Recreation‘s Nick Offerman) reassigns them to an undercover operation located at 21 Jump Street. The two prepare to go undercover at a local high school in order to stop the spread of a dangerous new drug (while living with Schmidt’s parents in the house he grew up in). However, they accidentally mix up their newly assigned identities, and Schmidt, who was an academic outsider in high school, gets in with the popular crowd, while Jenko, who was an all-around jock unconcerned with learning, makes friends with the nerds. Add in the fact that their police work is not always top-dollar, and you get some hilarious, action-packed entertainment.
Personal Thoughts: I loved this movie! It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in awhile – definitely the funniest since Bridesmaids. I know I usually like most movies I review, but I claim it’s not that I like everything and it’s more that I am just good at spending my time on movies I like…although most people tell me it’s the first option. I know I’m not alone on my 21 Jump Street opinion, though! Dan thought this movie was hilarious and worth seeing in theaters, as did a few other people with whom I discussed the film. That being said, if you enjoy movies like Superbad, Stepbrothers, Pineapple Express, Your Highness, etc., then you will probably enjoy 21 Jump Street. If you didn’t like at least one of those movies, you may not like 21 Jump Street. If you can’t handle violence, you might not like 21 Jump Street (or at least will need to avert your eyes for a few moments). A lot of my favorite movies are ones like the four mentioned above, and I am excellent at averting my eyes at any violence that gets to me, so I did enjoy this movie! Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum have an excellent rapport as weirdly-matched best friends, display awesome comedic chops, and nicely play the “serious” moments without any cheesiness. The supporting cast is superb, especially Dave Franco and Ice Cube. The story is a bit off-kilter, but just grounded enough. If you’re looking for a movie to crack you up while also blowing stuff up, 21 Jump Street has got you covered.

watch it: big miracle

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest





Notable Cast Members: John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore, Ahmaogak Sweeney, Ted Danson, Kristin Bell, Dermot Mulroney, Vinessa Shaw, Rob Riggle, James LeGros


Overall Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (rating rationale)

Plot Summary: In 1988, Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) was on assignment in Barrow, Alaska as part of his “Adam Around Alaska” series for his Anchorage news station. Shortly before Adam was ready to depart, he and his young native Alaskan friend, Nathan, discovered three gray whales – a mom, dad, and baby – trapped in the ice. Adam’s ex-girlfriend Rachel (Drew Barrymore), who also happens to be a major Greenpeace activist, immediately begins campaigning for serious rescue efforts. Her cause is helped when NBC picks up the story and airs it nationally. Suddenly, the country is experiencing whale fever. The U.S. government, major oil companies, Barrow locals, and reporters and volunteers from across the U.S. band together to rescue the whales. The movie is based on a true story.

Personal Thoughts: I loved this movie! To be fair, I had a feeling I would going into it as I (a) love John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore, Kristin Bell and Ted Danson, (b) the film takes place in Alaska, a major place on my “To Visit” list, (c) the movie is all about animals, and (d) the film is based on a true story and even features excellent Cold War tension and cheesiness. All that being said, the movie did not disappoint. John Krasinksi and Drew Barrymore had a wonderful chemistry and did excellently in roles that fit them well. Ted Danson was deliciously evil yet human as an oil baron, as was Kristin Bell as an aspiring journalist. All of the greater supporting roles, such as James LeGros and Rob Riggle as helpful inventors, were well-done and enjoyable. The story itself was compelling and poignant. A big softie, I didn’t even wear masacra to the theater (despite the fact that I wanted to look cute since it was a date with Dan) because I knew I would cry at some point- which I of course did. The movie definitely ended on a positive note, though, along with some fun credits that included information about what happened to the main players in the rescue once it was completed. Overall, the movie was touching, funny, and interesting, and I highly recommend it.




watch it: red tails


A couple weekends ago Dan came up from Columbus to visit. We love history (we both earned degrees in social studies education), and thought the new movie Red Tails looked interesting, despite its possible cheesiness, so we went to the theaters to see it.



Notable Cast Members: Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Tristan Wilds

Overall Rating: ☆ (rating rationale)

Plot Summary:
While the Tuskegee program in the military allowed African-Americans the opportunity to be trained as pilots and take part in the U.S.A.’s WWII efforts, it did not initially allow them to participate in missions that put them in direct action against the enemy. Red Tails tells the story of these talented men and how they fought both the Axis powers and segregation within the U.S. military while stationed in Europe.

Personal Thoughts below the movie poster & CONTAINS SPOILERS



Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest






Personal Thoughts (WITH SPOILERS):
I went into the movie knowing there would be cheesy parts based on what I saw in its trailer. I did not mind most of the cheesy parts of the movie. In fact, what could have been the cheesiest parts of the movie were not cheesy at all because of the amazing acting ability of Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Terrence Howard (Gooding, Jr., plays Major Emanuelle Stance, who leads the Red Tails, and Howard plays his commanding officer, Colonel A.J. Bullard). The parts I had the major issues with were the very beginning and the very end of the movie. The beginning of the movie made me cringe. It was poorly done, feeling like an awkward simulation rather than the opening of a story. The ending was just plain terrible. As far as I know, while this movie is inspired by true events, it is not actually based on any real individuals (please correct me if I am wrong!). That being said, I do not understand why the writers of the movie chose to conclude the story the way they did. Killing off the pretty much the only likable character not played by Terrence Howard or Cuba Gooding, Jr., or at least the only other character they clearly wanted you to cheer for, and then abruptly ending the film was like someone unexpectedly splashed my face with cold water. I think I actually turned to Dan in the theater and said, “What the hell?!” I did not feel that was a unnecessary turn of events for the story or the way to let it end. It pretty much ruined the movie for me. All that being said, I would not recommend seeing this movie in theaters. I wouldn’t pay for a rental to watch it again, either (although if I had never seen it and had only paid $2 at Redbox to see it I wouldn’t have been mad). I might settle in to give it a second chance if I ever happen to come across it on TV.


things I’ve been meaning to blog about, watch it edition: 2011 movies

Today the 84th Academy Award Nominations were announced. Full of opinions, I went to write a blog post about my thoughts when I realized I had not done a full recap of the movies I had seen in 2011 and my overall rating of them (like I did for 2010). Better late than never, right? Especially since some of these have been nominated for an Oscar and a lot of them have or will be released on DVD soon. So, without further delay, today I’m posting about my favorite 2011 movies, and tomorrow I’ll be discussing the Oscar nominations. Here we go!

My Top Movies of 2011*
(three instead of five because I saw
less movies this year than in 2010)

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Bridesmaids – This movie will always be one of my all-time favorite films. It makes me laugh, cry, and cry from laughing no matter how many times I see it. It is an excellent story about female friendships, the ridiculousness of weddings, and believing in yourself. Awesome writing and amazing acting (my full review can be found here)!

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The HelpFirst of all, if you haven’t read The Help, then you need to stop what you’re doing and start right now. Once you’ve finished reading it, you then need to watch the movie immediately. The acting in this film was truly outstanding. Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis certainly give the knockout performances, but Emma Stone, Allison Janney, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sissy Spacek, and Jessica Chastain are all superb. The film tells an important and compelling story that everyone needs to hear, and does so with both hilarity and dignity.

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Super 8 – I feel as though this movie was highly praised when it was released and then quickly forgotten, and I can’t understand why. It takes place in the 1970s and is presented in a way that it really does feel like a classic Steven Spielberg sci-fi adventure movie (the best comparison I can say is that Super 8 is like a higher-quality The Goonies). The young actors were wonderful and their adult counterparts provided the perfect balance. It has everything a movie should: suspense, humor, action, love, friendship, family, mystery, stretches of the imagination, etc. Definitely worth a viewing – or a few!
Close contenders: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, 50/50, and The Muppets
*All the 2011 Movies I Have Seen & My Ratings
(five star movies are in bold and were the only
consideration for the my top three movies of the year list)

No Strings Attached ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Take Me Home Tonight ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Your Highness ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Bridesmaids ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Thor ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
X-Men: First Class ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Super 8 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Bad Teacher ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Green Lantern ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Transformers: The Dark of the Moon ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Captain America: The First Avenger ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Cowboys and Aliens ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Horrible Bosses ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The Help ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
30 Minutes or Less ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
50/50 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Moneyball ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The Muppets ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
What movies did you see in 2011, and which were your favorite?
*If for some reason you are having trouble leaving a comment, please e-mail me at beagleandbear@yahoo.com or leave me a comment on Beagle and Bear’s Facebook page. Thanks for your help with this issue!

watch it: my 25 days of christmas

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White Christmas

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Mickey’s Christmas Carol
A Christmas Story
A Charlie Brown Christmas
For as long as I can remember, with the exception of a two-year period during my college years, my family has not had cable/satellite TV. When I did have cable at home and in my college dorm room, I greatly enjoyed ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. And as silly as it probably sounds, those Christmas specials are probably the number-one thing I miss about having cable TV. I just loved being able to turn on the TV on any given December evening or weekend and be bombarded by truly wonderful holiday specials. It just made the holiday season feel that much more nostalgic and fun. So this year, I decided to make my own 25 Days of Christmas list and then work my way through it. Check it out! Let me know what favorites of yours made the list, and which ones didn’t that you think I should make an effort to see. The photos above feature just a few of the classics I included.