filmmaven's coffee chat

a morning discussion of film and popular culture over coffee



Holiday movies to watch while wrapping presents

Are you spending an evening (or two) after everyone is in bed  wrapping gifts?? You’ll need a few things to watch that are just enough of entertaining, mindless and heart warming .

So light a fire (or some candles), pour a glass of wine, get all your supplies out and don’t forget to clear a generous space on the coffee table or the floor for maximum wrapping leverage.

The Holiday (2006, dir & Writer: Nancy Meyers) — its funny because if you asked, I would normally say I don’t care for anyone in this film….except Eli Wallach (more on that later)……Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black and Kate Winslet in a typical no surprises, sweet film. The dialogue is good, the editing a smidge choppy ….but then enter Eli Wallach …a few moments of Shelley Berman, Rufus Sewell and a odd but interesting award ceremony with Wallach and you have a delightful film.

Home for the Holidays (1995, dir: Jodie Foster) —  Foster has a true talent for making people complex and likable in awkward situations. A strangely delightful cast includes Geraldine Chaplin, Steve Guttenberg, Clair Danes and Amy Yasbeck ….starring the always fun Holly Hunter, a quiet and tense Robert Downey Jr, and the beautifully thoughtful Anne Bancroft….. If you care, you really have to watch the film to follow the dialogue…but if you are wrapping presents and just have it on…its just as well…

The Bishop’s Wife (1947, dir: Henry Koster) — Such a sweet and adorable holiday romp — notice Elsa Lanchester and Monty Wolly…..starring the sauve and softly comical David Niven and Cary Grant with the lovely Loretta Young. Beautifully filmed, great chatty dialogue.


Michael Pena ……Ant Man, Comedy and CRASH

SPOILER of a sort ……..If you haven’t seen ANT MAN …come back to this column after you’ve seen it …..okay?

CRASH (2004, Writer / Director Paul Haggis) — 2004 as a busy year for me ..I was trying to wrap up my teaching / Bachelor degrees in combination with a double major….and being a single parent…and working ….whew…so going to the movie theater was not a top priority. However, my Aunt, who has good taste in films, insisted this was the film to watch. Had to be seen on the big screen and please go see it NOW so we can talk about it. So I saw it with her, then again by myself and then a third time with some friends. By then I felt like I had seen all the vignettes equally and was able to emotionally absorb all of the events. So much happens. So many messages. So much sadness. So much joy. So many many incredible actors doing some of their best most poignant work. Don Cheadle gets some of the best speeches of the film, as does Chris Bridges (Ludacris). Everyone shines, from the characters you hate to the ones you love – the acting in tiny moments gives every person in the cast that few seconds to change your life. Michael Pena’s moments stand out for me as the most heart wrenching and true. I felt his emotional levels jump off the screen, when he was terrified, joyful and relieved it came together in sweeping palpable moments. So worth watching. With tissues and some Ben & Jerry’s  chubby Hubby ice cream.

Cesar Chavez (2014, Director Diego Luna) — oohhh..feel so bad that I haven’t seen this yet …I promise to add a referendum to this, its on my list ….but I wanted to mention it because I’m hoping someone will comment ….I have so much going on and I promise this one is on the top of my list!

ANT MAN (2015, Director Peyton Reed) — so what happened was ….We try to have a date night every other week, no matter what. Usually that is dinner out and some great conversation etc…this week I saw that Ant-Man was at the dollar movie ..yes,I still say that even though its really 4 dollars now. I felt bad about it. We kept saying we would go, we would make time to have a day together, see a movie etc….and here it was about 3 months since the release. .and … …it was a great day! Mexican food for lunch at our favorite little place, a walk in Downtown Farmington and even though it was Tuesday the farmer’s market was open and a guy playing the guitar. Then a 4 o’clock movie for 4 dollars. ha!


its always delightful for me when I can interrupt everyone’s viewing by exclaiming isn’t that Evangeline Lilly? Isnt’ that Michael Douglas? oh…look its Bobby Cannavale! and Wood HARRIS! and Judy Greer, and MICHAEL PENA ! I can only say ..that Michael Pena is sweet and funny on screen. He has this look, like …oh yeah..we are gonna have fun now ….and it makes me laugh / smile / get right into the action……Ant Man reached the right levels of comedy, love story, action adventure and science fiction ….a really good blend …..even the CGI hit the right notes …..I didn’t’ get that, much silver/blue this is CGI annoyance … is starting to catch up with my expectations. None of the side kicks ( T.I., David Dastmalchian, Michael Pena) are over the top goofy or take themselves too seriously. I did feel as if a few of Michael’s scenes could have been longer, like they had moments that could have been used better….but over all …a fun movie. One of the best of the Marvel series.

GOOD MORNING! What’s Funny?

Movies are often the thing we need to carry us away …take off those burdens and escape to another place …Comedies are more plentiful in hard times; notice now action adventure super hero is the big wig, as the society recovers from war and economic woes, but lest us nay forget the need for true comedy; Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Mae West and the like ..Those who mix the sad and desperate with the comedic and take away all our worries.

If you are recovering from a broken heart and need some belly laughs with that tub of ice cream:

DUCK SOUP (1933) Dir: Leo McCary – Best when viewed with others, a fun kind of rompy laughter that you just want to be along with a group. Have a few girls in – make popcorn, a blush wine and laugh!

Need to hide from the world and do a movie marathon: 

My Little Chickadee (1940) – dir; Edward c. Cline – Start with this one to set the mood, written by Mae West and WC Fields, its choppy and inconsistent and full of no way did they say that? moments. Only 83 minutes so have this lined up next:

She Done Him Wrong (1933) – dir; Lowell Sherman – Cary Grant, as pretty as they come …and nothing wrong with watching it just to see him ….

Arsenic and Old Lace ( 1944) – dir; Frank Capra – Yes, save this one as the end cap – just when you are all snuggled down into the cushions and the popcorn is gone, you think you might fall asleep and WHAM …you get hit with the comic genius that is Cary Grant and the Brewster’s. You won’t believe what is hiding in the basement.

I just need a break to perk me up & feel sophisticated;

High Society (1956) – dir; Charles Walters -Just plain fun and a little bit romantic ..the sets, the clothes and the dialogue are better than the acting….sort of adorable.  A nice little break from the norms…

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