Saturday, December 25, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Days 19-25

Merry Christmas everyone! For the end of 25 Days of Holiday Classics, I'm only going to talk about a few more. One is a new favorite of mine and the other two are films that I watch more than once throughout December, if I have time. I actually watch some of the other classics I've mentioned more than once throughout the holiday season, but they aren't my favorite favorite ones. They're only my favorite ones. Yes, I actually categorize things like this in my head.

First one up is my new favorite, Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). This is one of my favorite musicals, as well. It's definitely one of Judy Garland's best performances. She plays Ester Smith, a seventeen year old girl who falls in love with the boy next door. I love the romance in this film! John Truett (Tom Drake) is the perfect boy next door. He's nice, shy, and handsome! The film focuses on love and it also shows how much life can change and develop within a short amount of time. Especially when the Smith family is told that they will be leaving their home in St. Louis for one in New York City. Of course, during the time period that this is depicting, 1904, it was an amazing opportunity for them. However, there is just something so charming about their home and St. Louis in general that'd it be awful to see them leave it. Also, if they do leave it, there's a chance that Ester and John won't be able to be together. Watch this film to find out what happens! For those of you who have Netflix, it's currently streaming on instant.

Next up on my list is A Christmas Story (1993). I've been a fan of this movie since I saw it when I was about 5 years old. The film is about an amazing Christmas that was experienced by an awkward 9 year old boy named Ralphie. The film focuses on Ralphie trying to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa Claus that the best gift in the world to receive is a Red Ryder BB gun. I love the dysfunctional family life that Ralphie has. It's awesome and it's perfect. The film is full of hilarious scenes and it really captures the excitement of Christmas and how it is experienced by a child.

Last, but certainly not least, is It's a Wonderful Life (1946). This film is about a man named George Bailey (James Stewart), who has always been selfless throughout his life. He does what he believes in morally right, rather than ignore situations, so that he is able to go do whatever it is he wants to do. However, after his Uncle Billy misplaces $8000 and the terrible Mr. Potter won't give it back, George starts to think that life would be better for everyone if he just hadn't been born. Luckily, he is given the chance to see and learn that that just isn't true because of Clarence the angel. I love George Bailey 'till the day I die, and like Mary, I'd totally whisper that into the ear that he can't hear on. This movie sends out a bunch of great life lessons, so I recommend watching it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: The Polar Express: Day 18

The Polar Express (2004) is another classic. I like it mainly because I grew up hearing the story and it's a wonderful story. The author of the book, Chris Van Allsburg, is from my hometown. I can visualize the Polar Express pulling up into my neighborhood and it's fantastic. The movie is about a boy who has been doubting the existence of Santa Claus for the first time this year. However, during the night on Christmas Eve, he is awoken by the sounds of a loud magical train. He boards it and realizes that it is heading to the North Pole to Santa's home. On the train, he meets a lot of friends with whom he ends up embarking on a series of adventures with. He also learns more about himself and the wonder of life in general.

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Elf: Day 17

Elf (2003) is a movie that never fails to put me into a festive and happy mood. Buddy (Will Ferrell) is a human who has been raised by elves since birth. It isn't until Buddy overhears some elves talking about him that he realizes that he is human. Santa decides that it is time for them to let him go explore the human world in New York City and meet his birth father, Walter Hobbs. He also informs Buddy that his dad has been on the naughty list for quite some time and that he has no idea that he has a son.

With this information, Buddy begins his journey off to New York and once he arrives, he is in awe of the vastness of the city and the many activities that can be done there. He meets Walter and it is obvious that Walter doesn't want much to do with Buddy. However, Buddy will not give up on making Walter get to know him better, which eventually ends up changing Walter for the better.

This movie is great for the whole family. It's sweet and it's funny. I love how Buddy changes a lot of lives. At first, people just think he's very strange and mentally unstable, but then they realize that he's not and is very nice. He brightens the lives of those he meets. I love how he ends up winning the heart of Jovie (Zooey Deschanel). I also love how nice he was to his new brother, Michael (Daniel Tay), who really needed to have someone like that in his life. I love Buddy the Elf. This movie sends out a good message about how important genuine kindness truly is.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: We're No Angels: Day 16

We're No Angels (1955) isn't your typical Christmas movie. It's very funny and it will put a smile on your face. It's about three convicts, Joseph (Humphrey Bogart), Albert (Aldo Ray), and Jules (Peter Ustinov), who have escaped together from Devil's Island to a small coastal town. At first, the three are trying to devise a plan to rip off some people and take off with their money to get on a ship and move to a different place. They end up choosing the Ducotel family, who hires them to fix their roof. The three intend to steal from the family during the nightfall, but they overhear the financial distress that they are suffering from because the business at the store they have been working for hasn't been doing well, so they decide not to go through with the robbery. Instead, the three decide to help them out and even end up making them a Christmas dinner.

During their stay, they learn that Andre Touchard (Basil Rathbone) who owns the store will be paying a visit, along with his nephew Paul. Once the three realize how awful these two men are, they decide to help the family out by devising a plan to dispose of the two men. Their plan is to use Albert's pet snake, Adolf, to take care of the two. Will Adolf bite the two and kill them? You'll just have to watch to find out.

I thought that this movie was incredibly funny. Anything involving Adolf really made me crack up. Bogie is great, as usual. Aldo, Peter, and Basil did an awesome job too. I've never seen a Christmas movie like this one. Everyone should add it to their list of movies to see, even if you don't celebrate Christmas. It's that funny!

Monday, December 20, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Love Actually: Day 15

I love Love Actually (2003). I love the little romantic stories being told. I even love the sad ones. I also love how all the stories end up being interrelated in some way. I think that a lot of the relationships being displayed are relatable.  The movie is also comical. The ridiculous Christmas song that Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) sings is oddly catchy. I love the relationship between Jaime (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (LĂșcia Moniz). They are so cute! Falling in love even though they don't speak the same language. I'd recommend this movie to anyone. Well, unless you just broke up with someone. Then it might make you feel really bad. Other than that, it should make you happy and put you in the Christmas spirit.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: The Santa Clause: Day 14

My family and I have to watch The Santa Clause (1994) together every year. It's been a tradition since we saw it in theaters. We love it because it's funny and it reminds you of what it was like being a kid and how exciting Christmas was then. The movie is about a divorced man, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), who hasn't really been able to enjoy time with his son, Charlie. His ex-wife, Laura, drops off Charlie on Christmas Eve and she informs him that Charlie is a bit upset because he has been told that Santa is not real. Scott feels he is too young to have been told this, so he tries to tell him that Santa is real, which just causes an argument to start up between him and Laura. The two stop bickering once Charlie points out that they are always fighting. Laura decides it is time for her to leave and tells Charlie that she will pick him up the next morning. It is clear that Charlie rather go home with his mom and her new guy Neil, but she tells him he'll have a good time and leaves.

Once she leaves, Scott messes up the turkey dinner, so he and Charlie have to go out to Denny's. Clearly, the two aren't having the best bonding time. Once the two get home from dinner, Scott puts Charlie to bed and reads him a bedtime story, The Night Before Christmas. Thinking Charlie is asleep, he stops reading all of it, but Charlie begins asking him a bunch of questions about the story. Scott tells him its just a story and just to go to bed.

During the night, there is a loud sound on the roof. Upon hearing it, Charlie rushes in to wake up his dad. Scott goes outside to investigate the problem and tells Charlie to stay inside and to call 911 if there are any problems. Once he's outside, Scott notices that there is someone on the roof. He calls to the man, which startles the guy and causes him to fall off the roof and die. Charlie comes outside after this and notices that it is Santa. Scott is completely confused by the entire situation. A ladder shows up and both Charlie and Scott go up and find a huge sleigh with reindeer. Charlie talks Scott into putting the Santa suit on and the two end up delivering packages to every house that the reindeers take them to. At the end, the reindeer take them back to the North Pole.

The next morning, Scott is still confused about what happened during the night. Did Santa really fall off the roof? Has he, Scott Calvin, really been magically recruited as the new Santa Claus? Charlie certainly thinks so and he is really excited about it. Strange things start to happen to Scott and his body gradually transforms itself into a chubby Santa Claus like body. This worries Laura and Neil, who decide to take custody away from Scott, thinking that they are protecting Charlie. They even end up getting him arrested on Christmas night. Will he be able to escape jail and deliver all of the presents to all of the children around the world by the end of the night? Will Laura and Neil realize and accept the truth about Scott being Santa Claus? Watch and find out.

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Miracle on 34th Street: Day 13

I watched Miracle on 34th Street (1947) for the first time this week. I thought it was adorable, funny, and heartwarming. It definitely has the most believable Santa that I've ever seen. The movie begins with the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. The Santa that has been hired is completely unsuitable and drunk. A friendly old man (Edmund Gwenn) notices this and informs the woman in charge, Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) of the parade of her intoxicated Santa. Unsure of what to do, Doris persuades the old man to take his place. He ends up being the best Santa that the parade has ever had and he is recruited to be the store Santa at Macy's.

The man is very successful and he has been bringing Macy's even more business because of his Christmas spirit and helpfulness to the customers. However, Doris learns that the man calls himself Kris Kringle and believes himself to be the real Santa Claus, which worries her, even though the man is harmless. She doesn't want him to have an influence on her daughter, Susan (Natalie Wood), who has been brought up to reject fairy tales and imaginative things. Yet, a lot of people, especially Susan, seem to recognize that there is something special about Kris and that he really does seem to be Santa Claus.

The only person who really seems to be against Kris is the Macy's store psychologist and he ends up getting him committed into a mental institution. Appalled by this gesture, Fred Gailey (John Payne), who is a neighbor of Doris', agrees to represent Kris. A lot of people come to support Kris and even though Doris was a bit skeptical of Kris being Santa at first, she begins to believe that he is as well. Will Kris win his case against the people deeming him as a crazy old man? Is he really Santa Claus? Watch to find out.

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Shrek the Halls: Day 12

Shrek the Halls (2007) is a holiday TV movie special. My nephews absolutely love it and I like it a lot too. It's cute and it's funny. Shrek is celebrating his first ever Christmas with Fiona and the family. Having never celebrated Christmas before, he's not sure what to do. He finds a book that is an idiot's guide to Christmas. Shrek follows the book in his own ogre-like way and prepares the house for Christmas. However, Donkey and Shrek and Fiona's other friends show up to join them for Christmas. Shrek freaks out at them when they show up because they are all over the house and telling him how he should do things. All he wants is to give Fiona and his kids the best Christmas ever, but he doesn't realize that it's not about the things. It's about much more than that, like being with the ones that you love and being appreciative of the life that you have. Will Shrek be able to uncover the true meaning of Christmas?

 I've posted a little clip from Shrek the Halls. It's really cute. Puss in Boots is telling his version of the Night Before Christmas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Home Alone Lost in New York: Day 11

While not as good as the first Home Alone movie, Lost in New York (1992) is still a holiday classic. Kevin is basically ditched at the O'Hare airport by his family after they are rushing to get on a plane to Florida. This causes him to accidently board the wrong airplane because he follows a man he thinks is his dad. Once Kevin lands and realizes that he is in New York City instead of Florida with his family, he's very excited. Christmas without snow and Christmas trees just isn't the same in his opinion and he was being treated poorly by his family as usual, so being alone in New York City seems fantastic to him. 

Kevin books himself a hotel room and uses his dad's credit card to pay for it. He enjoys himself going around the city, watching movies, and ordering room service. However, his perfect vacation comes to a close once he runs in to the Wet Bandits, Harry and Marv, again. He finds out that the two are plotting to rob a toy store, Duncan's Toy Chest. Having shopped there, Kevin knows that the money from Duncan's Toy Chest is meant to be donated to a children's hospital. He cannot and will not allow Harry and Marv to steal this money, so he comes up with a plan to prevent them from doing so. Of course, his plan involves a bunch of booby traps for Harry and Marv to get plummeted by. Will Kevin succeed in taking down Harry and Marv's despicable plan? Watch to find out. 

I like this movie because it's funny. Again, he seems to be the only one in his family who understands the true meaning of Christmas. He makes friends with a pigeon lady that everyone rejects because she seems scary and strange because she's always hanging out with pigeons. Also, donates some of his money to Duncan's Toy Chest when he learns that it's going to be donated to a children's hospital. Furthermore, he does whatever he can to stop Harry and Marv from ruining Mr. Duncan's toy store and stealing the money that is being donated. Kevin is definitely kind and selfless, his family should treat him better. 

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Edward Scissorhands: Day 10

I've definitely been falling behind on my 25 days and I'm sorry for that. As of yesterday, I've been diagnosed with a stress fracture on my lumbar. I slipped and fell on the ice on Saturday night, the same night that I was robbed, and apparently the fall caused me a stress fracture. Good news is, it's only a stress fracture. It could have been way worse if I did a clean break in that area. I've got some pain meds for the nighttime, so that I can actually sleep. My back feels awful when I sit and lie down. I'll be fine though.

I classify Edward Scissorhands (1990) as a necessary Christmas movie to watch. Sure, the movie can be watched at other times, but that doesn't mean it's not also a Christmas movie. I love this movie. Edward is one of my favorite made up characters ever. He is so awkward and sweet. It's awful how much of an outcast he is, but it's not surprising. Suburban neighborhoods tend to hold people who become part of a social bubble. A newcomer can disturb it for a while, but once the neighborhood decides that the newcomer cannot be a part of their bubble, then the newcomer will be pushed out. Edward was better off without those nutcases anyway. Of course, there were some people who weren't really a part of the bubble, so they noticed the greatness of Edward.

This film is a necessary watch. I think it is one of Tim Burton's best films, if not the best one. I like the strangeness, humor, romance, and quirkiness of this film. The score is amazing and really adds to the atmosphere of the film as a whole, I especially like Ice Dance, Storytime, and The Cookie Factory. Danny Elfman always creates imaginative scores. I also love the story of Edward and the score goes along with his character development. The acting in this film is superb. Vincent Price is perfect as the Inventor. Johnny Depp is perfect as Edward. Who couldn't love Alan Arkin and Dianne Weist as the parents in this film? If you haven't watched this film before, then what have you been thinking?! Watch it now!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Day 9

Boris Karloff is awesome and I love his narrating of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966). Dr. Seuss was a genius. I don't know who couldn't love this story that he created. The grumpy Grinch is fed up with the Whos of Whoville and their love for Christmas. He doesn't know what is so great about it and why they are always outside holding hands and singing around a Christmas tree. It disgusts him and he wants it to stop, so he devises an evil plan. An evil plan that will help him to steal Christmas from the Whos! However, the Grinch realizes that there is more to Christmas than decorations, nice food, and gifts and that it cannot be stolen. Will he be able to return their gifts and celebrate Christmas with the rest of Whoville? Watch to find out if you haven't already watched it!

Monday, December 13, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Home Alone: Day 8

Well, seeing as my coat, wallet, and phone all got stolen a couple of days ago, I think Home Alone (1990) is a great movie to talk about now. I was with some people from work and we all had our coats piled up together. Mine was in the middle, but the only one stolen. Thankfully all the stuff that was stolen is replaceable and I was not physically harmed. I'm very lucky to have the friends that I have because they've really been there for me these past few days.

Stealing is a crappy thing to do and only desperate or mentally unstable people seem to do it. Harry and Marv fit under both categories and they are also stupid. They definitely get what they deserve when they run into Kevin's booby traps. Kids and adults alike love watching Harry and Marv get the crap beat out of them. I know this due to the fact that I've witnessed both kids and adults watching this and cracking up.

I love Kevin McCallister. He's a cool kid. He seems to be the only one in his family who understands that there is more to Christmas than being materialistic.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: A Charlie Brown Christmas: Day 7

Christmas clearly makes me nostalgic because a lot of the movies I've been choosing have been children's movies. It's fitting though because experiencing Christmas as a child is magical and you always remember that. However, I particularly love Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) because it is an awesome display of what the true meaning of Christmas really is. It's not about materialism, it's much more than that and Charlie Brown realizes this right from the beginning. It's amazing how well a little movie like this explains such a huge message so perfectly. 

I love the little Christmas tree in this film. It's perfect just the way it is. Also, I love Snoopy dancing on the piano and mocking Lucy. Makes me laugh every time. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: The Shop Around the Corner: Day 6

The Shop Around the Corner (1940) is a great Christmas movie. Two employees, Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan), working at a gift shop have an extreme dislike for each other. Unbeknownst to both of them, they are actually in love with each other, but they don't even know it; they have been sending letters back and forth to each other and have fallen in love by being each other's secret pen pal. It's funny to watch the two slowly uncover the truth about their feelings for one another. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie.

Yes, this film highly influenced You've Got Mail (1998). I like that movie as well, but not as much as this one.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Pluto's Christmas Tree: Day 5

Today would have been Walt Disney's 109th birthday, so it's only fitting that I talk about another Disney classic. Pluto's Christmas Tree (1952) is a short, but sweet little Christmas tale. Pluto helps Mickey pick out a Christmas tree. He's very excited about it and when Chip and Dale see him, they start making fun of him. This angers Pluto and he tries to run after them, but the two chipmunks hide in a tree, which ends up being the tree that Mickey chops down. Chip and Dale love the Christmas tree decorations and love looking at all of them. It isn't until Pluto notices that the two are hiding in the tree that things start to get a bit crazy.

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Mickey's Christmas Carol: Day 4

Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) is another version of the Dicken's classic A Christmas Carol. I know I've already posted on the Muppets Christmas Carol, but this one is well done too and it's worth watching both. All of your favorite animated Disney stars are in the film to tell the story, including: Scrooge McDuck plays Ebenezer Scrooge, Mickey plays Bob Cratchit, Goofy plays Jacob Marley, and Donald Duck plays Nephew Fred. Scrooge is visited during the night by his old partner Jacob Marley, as well as by three spirits. They help him to realize how mean he has become and if he doesn't change his ways right now, then he'll end up suffering a terrible afterlife.

I love this movie, it's so heartwarming by the end. I've posted the first part of the movie below. The rest can be found on YouTube.

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Frosty the Snowman: Day 3

Frosty the Snowman (1969) is another classic and I have to watch it every year. This is a very short movie because it was made specifically for television. It's 22 minutes about a lovable snowman, Frosty, who has been brought to life by a magical hat that has been discarded by a greedy magician. However, once the magician realizes that Frosty possesses this magical hat, he is desperate to get it back, and will do whatever he can to get it. Frosty, along with a little girl who helped bring him to life, work together to elude the magician and to find a colder place for Frosty to live. Will Frosty be able to escape from the evil magician?

For those who haven't ever watched this or for those who want to watch it again, watch the video below. It is the first part of the movie and you can find the other parts on YouTube. Enjoy!

25 Days of Holiday Classics: The Muppets Christmas Carol: Day 2

The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992) is a must see. A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite tales concocted by Charles Dickens about a miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who gets the chance to change his life around. He is visited by three ghosts during the night, the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future who make him aware of who he has become and what will happen to him if he doesn't change his ways. Michael Caine plays Scrooge perfectly and the Muppets are awesome, as always.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

25 Days of Holiday Classics: Nightmare Before Christmas

Although I am missing my 31 Days of Horror, as well as fall in general, I feel like getting into the Christmas spirit. I'm not completely straying away from my monsters and ghouls yet though. I love Nightmare Before Christmas! In fact, I love it so much that I currently decided to decorate my apartment with both Christmas and Halloween decorations. I have a couple of Jack-O'-Lanterns and a small Christmas tree with ornaments on it. I love all of the decorations.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) is about a skeleton, Jack Skellington, from Halloweentown who accidently stumbles upon Christmas Town. Once he sees Christmas Town, he becomes obsessed with the holiday and tries to find out as much about it as possible. He falls in love with it and decides that he, the Pumpkin King, will be Santa Claus this year. He sends some kids to capture Santa and keep him hostage in Halloweentown while he goes out to deliver presents to children. Jack thinks that he's giving Santa a much needed break, but he ends up scaring him instead and accidently putting him in danger of being eaten by Oogie Boogie. However, Jack realizes that he has made a terrible mistake trying to put on Christmas, so he returns to Halloweentown just in time to find out that Santa is being tortured by the terrible Oogie Boogie. Will he be able to both save Santa from being killed and Christmas from being ruined? Watch to find out!

I love the music and stop-motion animation of Nightmare Before Christmas. It's all spectacular. Who is my favorite character besides Jack Skellington? Zero the dog, of course. Do yourself a favor and watch this film, it's truly a visual and musical masterpiece.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

RIP: Oscar Wilde

Today marks the 110th anniversary of one of the best authors to have ever lived in this world, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde. What a name and what a truly amazing author he was. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorite novels of all time. It's dark, twisted, and absolutely brilliant. You'll have to read the novel to find out why this is. You may also want to watch one of the films based off the novel. The 1945 one is great, but Dorian doesn't look how I pictured him. The young Helmut Berger definitely looked more of how I pictured the character. He played him in Dorian Gray (1970). I don't know anything about that movie or Helmut, but seeing his picture was enough for me. Rest in peace, Oscar Wilde, thanks for the haunting story of Dorian Gray.

Helmut Berger

Monday, November 29, 2010

RIP: Cary Grant

Archibald Leach (Cary Grant) died 24 years ago today. He suffered from a major stroke before he was going to attend his show 'An Evening with Cary Grant.' He was 82 years old. I love his movies, especially the Hitchcock ones. Notorious is my favorite with North by Northwest coming in second. I do love his screwball comedies, particularly The Philadelphia Story, Monkey Business, Bringing Up Baby, and His Girl Friday. An Affair to Remember is a nice romantic film with him, too. If you haven't watched a Cary Grant movie yet or haven't watched one in a while, those are some of my suggestions for you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Invisible Man: Another Horror Classic

I didn't find The Invisible Man (1933) extremely frightening, but the concept of it is, which is what made it intriguing to me. A man finds a way to go invisible through science and because of his discovery, he becomes utterly insane. What's interesting is that the man is able to wear clothing, so at first you are not aware that he is invisible. Of course, something about his appearance tells you that something about him isn't quite right. However, you learn why he seems so different once he gets angry. He'll shed his clothing and you won't see him at all and there's no knowing what he will do! He's able to throw things, as well as viciously attack you until he succeeds in murdering you.

Claude Rains is spectacular as Griffin, the Invisible Man. I love his voice! He has the perfect amount of craziness in it to make the character sound brilliantly freaky and insane, especially when he cackles. I also enjoyed the effects in this film. There is a scene where they make him look like he's actually invisible. Apparently, the director achieved this by having Rains dress all in black velvet and stand in front of a black velvet background. Rains wasn't always the man under the bandages, he had a double, and it was obvious when the double was there instead of Rains. Mainly because the double is taller than Rains and he had different features than him, particularly his nose.

I want to read the book that this is based on, but I'll have to wait on that. I still want to read The Prestige, but I refuse to pay $16 for it, especially when all the copies I've found of it have shelf-wear. Something about The Prestige reminds me of The Invisible Man. I think it's the fact that the characters in both became so obsessed with finding the best way to do something, that it drove them insane until the point where they lost everything else in their lives.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows Part I

I saw Deathly Hallows Part I today and I am still in awe at how amazing it was. This is the best film in the entire series, which makes me think that the second part is going to be equally awesome. It follows the book so well. I've never seen a film that has followed a book as well as this one has. It truly captured all of the emotions of it perfectly. I want to go see it again already, I loved it that much. I can hardly wait for Part II to be released. I wish that they weren't making us wait all the way until July! That seems like it's so far away! If you haven't already, I suggest seeing it as soon as you possibly can. It's so fantastic that you're not going to want to delay seeing it.

Harry Potter: Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts for his sixth year. Surprisingly, Severus Snape has finally landed the position of the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Professor Horace Slughorn has been brought in to replace Snape as the professor for Potions. During the first course, Harry discovers a potions book that is marked as being property of the Half-Blood Prince. The Half-Blood Prince appears to be a genius and Harry becomes fascinated by his book, which never leaves his side.

Harry also learns much more about Voldemort's past this year. Dumbledore provides Harry with sensitive information related to Voldemort by showing memories that reflect his character. This leads both Harry and Dumbledore to find out why Voldemort has not been able to die completely. The reason ends up being that Voldemort has split his soul into seven pieces and hidden them in objects that he finds to be as precious treasures. Harry realizes that he has a long road ahead of him in order to find all of these objects and destroy them before he can face Voldemort when he is mortal again.

This is another one of my top three favorite books and I loved this film. It has a lot of comic relief by showing the awkwardness between teenagers and falling in love. The memories that are shown are interesting, too. I like seeing what Tom Riddle was like before he became Voldemort.

Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix (2007)

After spending another terrible summer vacation with the Dursley's, being attacked by Dementors and being punished by the Ministry for protecting both his cousin and himself from their soul-sucking kiss, Harry is feeling more like an outcast than ever before. He keeps suffering from terrible nightmares involving Cedric's death and Voldemort himself. He returns to school and the majority of the students feel that both he and Dumbledore are lying about the return of Voldemort.

The Ministry has also decided to intervene on the goings on at Hogwarts by appointing Dolores Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Umbridge is a foul woman. She refuses to teach the student any sort of defensive spells and is brutal in her punishments against students. In order to ensure that students are being taught to defend themselves, Harry and his friends secretly form a group, Dumbledore's Army, where he teaches and they practice casting defensive spells.

Harry's dreams involving Voldemort end up invading his mind more and more on a daily basis. He witnesses him attacking people and him searching for something in the Ministry of Magic. It doesn't cause Harry to do anything rash until he has a dream where Sirius is being tortured by Voldemort. After all hell breaks loose at Hogwarts, Harry leaves with some of his friends from Dumbledore's Army to go save Sirius. What will happen once they get to the Ministry? Will they find Sirius before it's too late?

The best part of this film is when Dumbledore shows up and duels Voldemort. Dumbledore is awesome! You'd have to be insane to want to duel him.

Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire (2005)

Before the beginning of Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts, he has been enjoying a joyful summer vacation with his friends. They get tickets to go to the Quidditch World Cup Final, which all have been extremely excited to see. However, after the match, the excitement is cut short and turned into chaos as a group of Death Eaters sets fire to the visitors' tents and casts Voldemort's symbol for death, the Dark Mark, into the sky. This puts the Wizarding world into a panic-stricken state because people fear that the Dark Lord has returned for good.

Despite the incident at the World Cup, students are able to return to Hogwarts. Once they arrive to Hogwarts, they find out that it will play host to the Triwizard Tournament, which is a magical tournament  that takes place between Hogwarts and two other well-known schools of magic: Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. In order to enter the contest, the contestants must be above 17 years old and they must enter their name into the Goblet of Fire, which chooses three students, one from each school, who will compete in the tournament. On the night of the selection, however, the Goblet ends up spitting out four instead of three names, the fourth being Harry Potter. It is suspected, at first, that Harry somehow was able to hoodwink the Goblet into being selected, but it becomes obvious that he was not the one who entered his name. Thus, Harry is forced to compete in the tournament because the magic of the Goblet of Fire's selection cannot be reversed. Who entered his name? What will be the outcome of the tournament?

This is in my top three of my favorite books in the series, so I was expecting a lot out of this film. I love the film, but it definitely left out a lot. In the book, Harry worked very hard at learning and practicing spells in order to do well in the tournament. It would have been nice to have seen that. Also, Barty Crouch Jr.'s backstory was much more interesting in the book. I wish that they would have gone in that direction with that character. The film felt a bit rushed, especially between the second and third tasks.

I did like the darker tone that this film had. The return of Voldemort is one of the best scenes ever. It's disgusting and it's frightening. You can't help but feel terrible for Harry, Cedric, and Cedric's father at the end.

Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Sirius Black, a murderer both the Wizarding and Muggle world fear, has escaped from Azkaban prison. He is the first to have done it and no one knows how he accomplished it or where he has gone to. No one is safe, especially Harry Potter. The Ministry has decided to take certain precautions to try and protect everyone, which means that they have Dementors, the soul-sucking beings that guard Azkaban and make you feel awful, are being placed at Hogwarts and Hogsemeade. However, the Dementors don't seem to be doing their job because Sirius Black still breaks into the school and attempts to enter Gryffindor tower. Everyone fears that Black has come to murder Harry, but for reasons Harry doesn't fully understand at first.  By the end, he finds out more about Black, his father's past, and himself, which leads him to saving more than one innocent life in one night with the help of his friends.

Prisoner of Azkaban was a good film, but it could have been much better. They left out some of the best parts of the book and added some unnecessary parts instead. The film should have gone into more detail about the Marauder's Map and its makers. It was one of the most interesting and intriguing parts of the book!

Harry Potter: Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Chamber of Secrets is much darker than Philosopher's Stone. I like it more because of this. Harry is very much an outcast in this one and has been dealing with a lot of unexplainable events. First, a house elf shows up and warns Harry. Then, he and Ron are unable to get through Platform 9 3/4 to go to Hogwarts. The Whomping Willow tries to murder both of them once the flying car they arrive in smashes into it. During his detention from arriving in the flying car, he starts hearing a voice moving through the wall, a voice only he can hear. Finally, Harry reveals that he is a Parseltongue during Dueling Club at school and now everyone thinks that he is the heir of Slytherin and the one who has opened the Chamber of Secrets, which holds home to a monster that either petrifies or kills its victims. The monster within the Chamber must be destroyed and who is better to kill it than Harry Potter himself?

My favorite scene in this film is when he discovers how Tom Riddle's diary works. I love how the diary writes back to him and how it takes him back 50 years ago to a memory that frames Hagrid as the heir of Slytherin. It's frightening how easy it was for Tom Riddle to gain Harry's trust. I also love when Harry realizes that Tom Riddle is Voldemort, slaughters the basilisk with Gryffindor's sword, and destroys Tom Riddle with one of the basilisk's fangs. I've been wondering though, if Harry hadn't destroyed the diary, does that mean that Voldemort would have come back as his 16 year old self? That would have been weird!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

I don't understand why they changed "Philosopher's" to "Sorcerer's" in the United States, so I'm keeping it as Philosopher's. The book and film that started it all. I love Philosopher's Stone, but it isn't my favorite. It's merely a fantastic introduction to an unbelievably outstanding series that people of all ages enjoy. 

I love how we get to learn about this amazing magical world through the eyes of a young orphaned child who has had basically nothing in his life prior to receiving his letter to Hogwarts. His life before is so sad because he's treated like he's something awful and that he deserves to have nothing and be treated like he is nothing. He's been forced to live in a cupboard under a staircase his whole life before this! No child or any person ever deserves to be treated like that. That is why it's so amazing when he finally is told that he is a wizard and gets to leave those awful people and be introduced to a completely different lifestyle. 

The only problem I have with this movie is with some of the CGI. The troll is probably the worst. It looks so terrible and I think they could have done a better job with it. Firenze is pretty awful, too. Voldemort's face on the back of Quirrel's head is just embarrassing. Other than that, the film is great. Sure, some of the acting is a little over the top at some points and there are some corny lines, but other than that, it's a good film. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Harry Potter: Hogwarts

Ok, let's be serious. Hogwarts would be the best school ever. Not only are the classes awesome, but the place is full of mystery and it has a beautiful scenery. The place is definitely dangerous, too, which just adds to its mysteriousness. Hidden passageways are scattered all over the place, so you could go to grab a butterbeer from The Three Broomsticks or fizzing whizbees from Honeydukes with your friends if you all use an invisibility cloak! You can break a lot of rules there and you'll basically never be punished for doing so because a lot of the rule breaking will eventually be ruled as services to the school. 

The historical Sorting Hat will put you in whatever house suits you best and it even allows you to add some of your own personal input in making the choice. Each house has a secret location, which requires a password and  includes a common room and sleeping quarters. The Great Hall has an enchanted ceiling that is bewitched to look like the sky, as well as mimic the weather, which is a stellar effect. It also is where all the students get to enjoy their feasts, which of course includes endless amounts of delicious food.

The Forbidden Forest isn't entirely forbidden and it's home to many mystical creatures. As long as you use your head, you can't really get hurt in there. Definitely an awesome place to go for a walk in. You can go soak up the sun by the Black Lake while studying or sit there and watch the giant squid. The Quidditch field is another fantastic area, for either playing the game or just enjoying it. The Whomping Willow should probably only be admired from a distance, just to be safe.

I'm always wondering what house I would be placed in. According to the majority of Sorting House quizzes I've taken, I'd be placed in Ravenclaw. Gryffindor was a close second though. I'd probably ask the hat to place me in Gryffindor though. It has a history of having very respectable witches and wizards.  I also love lions and the color red. If you want to take one of these fun sorting quizzes click here for a more in depth one and here for a shorter one.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Harry Potter

I'm so excited for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I that I've decided to dedicate this week to the entire series. This film looks like it's going to end up being the best of the series so far. It definitely has a darker and more mature tone to it than the previous ones have. I wish that they didn't split it into two separate parts that are being released at different times, but I see why they decided to do something like that. Part II won't be released until July 15, 2011, in the United Kingdom and the United States. If you want to find out when it will be released in your country, for both Part I and Part II, then you can check here. I've also included another trailer below.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday: Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly would have been 81 today. TCM is playing a couple of Grace Kelly movies today, Green Fire and The Swan. I haven't seen Green Fire, but I like The Swan. I still prefer the three Hitchcock films and I want to know why they aren't playing those instead. It feels more like a Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, and To Catch a Thief day to me.