Great Sites, Winter 2018 Edition

Years ago, I had a weekly feature on my blog where I showcased some great sites I had discovered.

Haven’t done it in a while, and I’ve discovered a few really cool sites I’ve saved to share sometime.

Great Sites

Enjoy…

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Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany’s always reminds me of that Seinfeld episode. George tells Jerry that it’s the book they are reading for book club and Jerry replies with “Truman Capote?”

Breakfast at Tiffany's

George: Yeah

Jerry: Great writer!

George: Oh yeah

Jerry: You ever read any of his books

George: No? You?

Jerry: No

:)

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A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time

We had so much fun the weekend Fire and Fury was released, we decided we were going to read a different book together every weekend. Well, maybe not together, but concurrently.

Since the whole family was excited for the release of a new film based on an old class which neither of us had read, we decided to start with A Wrinkle in Time.

Like and equal are not the same thing at all.

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Welcome to the Jungle

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Only had time for one movie this weekend and we had to make it fit within a tight window, so we saw a movie we weren’t relaly stoked about - Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. We both love The Rock, have enjoyed his other films, and we laughed hysterically at Central Intelligence which also featured Kevin Hart. So we knew we’d laugh but we weren’t sure of much else.

We also really liked the original, so now I wonder why this wasn’t higher on our list.

You don’t get in water with a backpack, everybody knows that.

Anyway,

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Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow

Having seen almost all of the films nominated for Oscars, we went looking for something else last weekend. As I read through the names of films, Terri responded to one of them with excitement - Red Sparrow.

Wow, what a surprise this movie was!

Great family that I have!

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Oscar Picks 2018

Oscar Statues

Writing (Original Screenplay)

All solid nominees this year, but my favorite is Get Out. Like most horror movies, things fall apart a bit at the end, but it’s a really original and thought provoking story.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

I haven’t read any of the original works here, but my favorite script from this batch is The Disaster Artist.

Visual Effects

All of this years nominees featured outstanding visual effects, but one of them blew me away - Blade Runner 2049.

Sound Mixing

I don’t have a strong opinion on this one, but my vote would be for Baby Driver.

Sound Editing

It amuses me somewhat that all the nominees are the same as for Sound Mixing. Perhaps because very few people really know what the difference is. :) I could see this going to any of the films, but probably Dunkirk or Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Short Film (Live Action)

All very good this year, but The Eleven O’Clock was my favorite.

Short Film (Animated)

I usually have one ore more of these which I do not like. This year was different, but I do have one favorite - Negative Space.

Production Design

Blade Runner 2049 or The Shape of Water

Music (Original Song)

I think Mystery Of Love is the favorite, and I think it’s great, but I’d choose Stand Up For Something from Marshall.

Music (Original Score)

Dunkirk or Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Makeup and Hairstyling

Tough call this time but I’d choose - Wonder

Foreign Language Film

I only saw one of these - The Square. I’d like to think that was not the best this year, so I’m picking the only other film that played near me - A Fantastic Woman.

Film Editing

Several good choices this year, but I’m going with I, Tonya.

Documentary (Short Subject)

This is much tougher than it usually is for me. I really enjoyed all of them. My favorite is Knife Skills. Traffic Stop had a lot of potential. If it had explored some of the more difficult questions related to that traffic stop, it would have been my pick for sure. Instead, I think Heroin(e) will win. It explores what is a huge, and growing problem in the U.S, and shows a glimmer of hope dealing with it.

Documentary (Feature)

I did not see Faces Places but the others were all very good. All stories that needed to be told. All told well. I found myself confused throughout most of Icarus and I’m still not sure how the film was made (who knew what and when did they know it, etc.) but if I had to pick one over the others, this is the one.

Directing

I think this if one of those years where Best Picture and Directing will be split. I think the Directing award goes to Jordan Peele for Get Out.

Costume Design

I think Phantom Thread is the least deserving, but I would not be surprised if any of these win. My pick is The Shape of Water.

Cinematography

I still don’t know quite how this is measured, but I was very impressed with all of these films. Two of them stand out for me above the others, though - Blade Runner 2049 and The Shape of Water.

Animated Feature Film

I think this one is a lock for Loving Vincent.

Actress in a Supporting Role

I think Vicky Krieps stole the show in Phantom Thread so I was surprised not to see a nomination for her. In the end, I think she would not have beaten Allison Janney or my pick - Laurie Metcalf.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Though one performance stands out far and away above the others for me, I love seeing five spectacular actors nominated this year. All five of these men are consistently outstanding. Sam Rockwell turned in the performance of a lifetime and I would be shocked if he doesn’t win.

Actress in a Leading Role

Once again, this is the toughest category for me. McDormand and Steep are outstanding and turned in excellent performances this year, but I think the other three were better. I’d give Sally Hawkins a very slight edge over Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan just slightly behind her. I’d be thrilled to see any of those three win it.

Actor in a Leading Role

This might be a rogue pick (I’m not sure, I try not to read too much about who is the favorite, etc.) but I’m going with Denzel Washington. I almost didn’t see this film because he is not one of my favorite actors, but he really, really impressed me with this performance.

Best Picture

The best I can do is divide these films into two batches:

Should Win

Should Not Win

I liked three of these movies, but don’t think any of them should win.

My original pick was The Shape of Water but Get Out and Lady Bird really started to grow on me.

I think Best Picture and Directing will be split between Get Out and Lady Bird. I think Lady Bird takes Best Picture.

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Oscars Menu 2018

Oscars Menu

Every year for the Oscars we put together a menu inspired by the films nominated. I’ve posted the menu here twice before (here and here).

This year’s menu is not quite as elaborate as some.

Here it is.

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Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread

The tea is going out. The interruption is staying right here with me.

The best art makes one ponder - or contemplate.

This film did that for me.

I wasn’t looking forward to it. The trailer made it look like an intriguing story about an aging bachelor who was set in his ways. A man that was particular and quirky and probably a little irritable.

It certainly was, but more than that it was a story about making a relationship work - no matter what it takes.

When we left the theater, Maya said to us “Well, whatever works for them, right?” which given the story worries me a little coming from my son’s girlfriend :) but I had pretty much the same thought.

The other thing that really surprised me about the film was that this is the third movie I watched in preparation for the Oscars that featured the same - very unusual - plot point. I think I could go ten years straight watching 2-3 movies per week and not see another three total. I was very surprised to see the same thing crop up so many times.

Certainly worthy of the nominations it received. I might have even nominated Vicky Krieps. Though the film wouldn’t be my pick for any of them.

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The Dispatcher

The Dispatcher

I f–king died today!

I went on an Audible binge about a week ago to start finishing books I’d already started. Naturally, I started with the shortest ones. :)

The second one I finished, on Monday, I think,

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Live Action Shorts 2018

Eleven OClock

The live action shorts this year were all very good.

Four of this year’s nominees are based on real-life events1 and they all raise important issues. The nominations alone will bring awareness, hopefully, to the issues raised in the films.

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Animated Shorts 2018

Packed Suitcase

We went to see the Oscar Nominated Short Filmes over the weekend. We started on Friday night with the animated films.

They were all really good this year.

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Different How?

Get Out

Sometimes a movie has one quote that wins best quote of the movie without any real competition. This is one of those movies.

I’ll share only part of it so we can share in the inside joke if you’ve seen it and yet I won’t spoil the incredible fun it is when you hear it for the first time.

We handle shit. That’s what we do.

It’s been a long time since I saw this one, but it still sticks with me. It’s a brilliantly directed, terrifying comedy featuring a fantastic performance by Kaluuya.

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All this anger, man

Don’t say what, Dixon.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

We could not wait to see this film.

I was disappointed.

The only redeeming part of the film, if you ask me, were two excellent performances by McDormand and Rockwell.

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If we do nothing

O woman, we gonna burn in hell!

The Shape of Water

The Post was a movie I didn’t love that told two great stories. The Shape of Water is a great film that tells a story I don’t really get.

Certainly worthy of the thirteen nominations it received. I think it’s possible it will clean up at the awards this year, but it is my pick for only three. Three big ones, though.

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Mobilizing the English Language

Darkest Hour

I love to share my favorite quotes from any film I see. Over the last few years, I’ve even started to ask my son and daughter after the film “so what was my favorite quote?” It’s a fun exercise in how well they know dad. :)

Darkest Hour, a film about Churchill, is certainly going to give me a lot of options, but I am going to stick to just two, as usual.

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All We Did is Survive

Seeing home doesn’t help us get there, Captain.

A little while ago, before I saw Dunkirk, my daughter asked me “which are your favorite three Nolan films?”

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Cinema Is A Mirror

Cinema is a mirror of reality and it is a filter.

Call Me By Your Name is one of those films I can’t say a lot about, and I may push the boundaries and say more about it than I should.

It’s a tremendous film.

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Go Eagles!

Two weeks ago I wrote that I was rooting against the birds.

If the Jaguars had won, they would have been my choice against either NFC team, including my brother’s Vikings. After they lost, I knew I’d be rooting for the NFC - even if it turned out to be the Eagles.

We were really pulling for the Vikings then. Billy even mentioned to me that if the Super Bowl were the Patriots and Eagles, it might be hard to even watch it.

Over the last two weeks I’ve really gotten excited about the possibility of an Eagles win. I think the whole family has. Billy and Maya even drove down from New York to see the game with us.

E-A-G-L-E-S!

Terri and I chimed in doing the E-A-G-L-E-S! chant at ACME yesterday!

I even bought a cake and a tee-shirt. :)

Go Birds!

Super Bowl VII

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Reviews Without Spoilers

Whenever I write a movie review I have the urge to explain why the reviews are so short and lacking in plot details.

Since I’ve decided to post reviews more than once a week, I thought I should just write and post this explanation once.

I like to write movie reviews that contain as few spoilers as possible. I realize that may be irrational in a world where we talk about everything via social media, etc, but I don’t want to be the one that spoils a movie for anyone.

I like to share my favorite quotes from a movie, and sometimes I even have to hold back on those because it spoils too much.

Which means most of my reviews are relatively short - some of them very short.

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News is the first rough draft of history

My daughter kept telling me “it’s definitely your kind of movie” talking about The Post. Now that I’ve seen it, I think she meant my kind of story.

If that’s what she meant, she is absolutely correct. The movie actually tells two great stories - both of them my kind of story. Both stories are also very timely. We need to hear these stories in today’s political and social climate. If you ask me, though, the movie was not spectacular. Perhaps worthy of a best picture nomination, perhaps not.

So, let’s focus on the stories.

It’s a story about moral decisions The Post’s screenwriters Liz Hannah and Josh Singer - Vox

The characters in the film are asked to make decision after decision - sometimes between two “wrong” options, sometimes between two “right” options - but in the end it all comes down to the choice of risking everything in the name of what one believes in.

In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.

That alone makes it a great story, but there is another story told that is, if you ask me, just as timely - a woman standing up to men.

I’m talking to Mr. Bradlee now!

This is probably my favorite quote from the film. I just love the way Katharine Graham stopped the interrupter in his tracks. I went online in search of the actual quote to be sure I remembered it correctly, and while doing so I found a really good explanation of the way Graham’s character was portrayed in the film - and what I really liked about this scene and others like it. The author of the quote below explains it better than I could.

There are so many instances of how she went from a goody-two shoes, an oh-dear, oh-dear, pearl necklace-clutching neophyte who would allow men to talk over her in board meetings, to being able to command the room and confidently state that she’s made ‘the decision’ and that is that (“And I’m off to bed,” she says at the end of one scene in the movie, my favourite one, I think). In that scene, her tone doesn’t waver when she proclaims after hearing out all the flustered men, “I’m talking to Mr Bradlee now!”, shutting up annoying management types sniping at her ankles, about how the company would go bust and investors would flee if Mrs Graham went ahead and published the Pentagon Papers. I know I was cheering for her. So many women in real time — and men! (let’s not paint them all with the same brush) — must have been. Katharine Graham, the woman who had the “guts of a burglar”

A must see film that tells stories that need to be told. It might actually win best picture, but I think there are better contenders this year.

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