My Fave Five Road Trip Films (Featuring Often Off Topic)

My Fave Five banner

Well my friends, we are just a few weeks into the summer (at least if you are in the northern hemisphere that is) which often means popsicles, swimming pools, and vacations. What better way to travel to your destination than by a road trip! Road trips can be eventful to say the least. Several people crammed into a small space for hours on end? Talk about chaotic, particularly if it’s with your family, or at least with mine it is.  Anyway, in that spirit of vacation and travel, I invited Allie from Often Off Topic to look at our favorite films based around road trips. Allie offers reviews of movies, television series, and books. She also gives regular updates on what’s happening in her life in her Going Off Topic segment. If you don’t already follow her, I highly recommend you go check her site out.

This isn’t the first time Allie has been a guest here on DMR, either. Last year, when she was still one half of the duo Flick Chicks, she, her blogging partner Jenna, and I ranked the movies from the Disney Renaissance. Now she is back to join me as a special guest to list her five favorite road trip films. Take it away, Allie!

I so wish road trips were more of a thing in the UK. I guess the main problem is that we’re just a tiny little island, and our roads kind of suck. Nevermind though, because I get to live the dream through movies! These are my top 5 road trip movies.

#5 Paul (2011)

Speaking of British folk who dream of an American road trip, that’s what Paul is all about! Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play 2 comic book geeks travelling across the US, ticking landmarks off their bucket list. Everything kind of goes haywire when they encounter an actual alien outside of Area 51. It’s not up there with Shaun of the Dead, but you can always count on this duo to make a comedy worth watching!

#4 Borat (2006)

How is this movie 11 years old now? Sacha Baron Cohen plays Borat, sent on a trip to the US to report on what Kazakhstan TV says is the greatest country in the world. It preys on people who have no idea it’s a fictional movie, it’s inappropriate, but it’s funny as hell and stole the hearts of many of us Brits, including me. It spawned a lot of copycat movies which were terrible, but this one stands strong.

#3 Chef (2014)

Chef is the ultimate food porn movie, the kind of movie you absolutely cannot watch unless you’ve just eaten a full meal, and even then your stomach will surprise you by rumbling! It’s also a beautiful, heart warming story about a chef played by Jon Favreau who quits his job and takes a trip with his son across the US in a food truck. Isn’t that just the perfect way to travel?

#2 Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

It’s impossible to explain Little Miss Sunshine to anyone without making it sound like the most depressing movie ever. A family take a road trip to take their chubby, uncoordinated daughter to a beauty pageant. Along for the ride is their Uncle who recently tried to commit suicide and well, I’ll let the rest be a surprise if you haven’t seen it before. It’s one of those rare movies that absolutely nails the blend of drama and comedy.

#1 National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

National Lampoon’s Vacation isn’t just the greatest family road trip movie ever. It might just be my #1 movie of all time. I can’t tell you how many times I watched this as a child. You don’t need to have had a road trip to identify with this one, just any holiday will do, or even any car journey spent with family. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and it holds up surprisingly well after all these years.

In fact, I love this movie so much that part of our Californian Honeymoon last year involved a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain, which you may not know is where the fictional theme park Walley World in National Lampoon’s Vacation was set. Whilst there we managed to recreate this famous scene!

I think you should share your recreation of that scene, Allie! And not to be outdone on my own blog, here are my five favorite road trip films.

Dumb and Dumber movie poster5) Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber is the kind of film that, on paper, seems like it should fail.  Two dimwits travel across the country to deliver a briefcase that one of them thought was left behind by mistake.  However, it is one of the funniest films from the 90s and one of Jim Carrey’s best films. And that is why it works, because of Carrey and Jeff Daniels. They have a chemistry that feels genuine.  It gives the film a lot of heart that it might not have otherwise.  As Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey) travel to Aspen, Colorado, they cause all kinds of mayhem that garner some great laughs.

The Cannonball Run movie poster4) The Cannonball Run

I feel like The Cannonball Run is a forgotten 1980s gem.  Released in the early 80s, it stars some of the biggest stars of the time, including Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett, Roger Moore, and many others.  I feel that of all the movie genres, comedies differ the most between eras and act as a timecapsule of their era. Every decade seems to have their own flavor or sense of humor. I mention that because it is very different from a comedy you would find these days, but I love it. It is much more subtle, think along the lines of The Naked Gun.  I can honestly say they don’t make them like this anymore.

Finding Nemo movie poster3) Finding Nemo

You might not think of Finding Nemo as a road trip film but it has all the classic staples of a traditional road trip film.  A group of people traveling to a destination together? Check. Film has many side characters who only show up for a scene or two? Check.  Group feels closer at end of film? Check.  What makes this Pixar classic a classic are the characters and their story.  Merlin just wants to find his missing son, Nemo. Along the way, he runs into the forgetful Dory, who joins him on his search.  The story is so simple but it works. By following the road trip formula, Pixar was able to really explore the characters that would not have worked as well in another way.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles movie poster2) Planes, Trains and Automobiles

A John Hughes classic. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the movie on this list I saw for the first time most recently. I don’t know how it took me so long to watch this movie. Both Steve Martin and John Candy have been favorite comedic actors of mine and the two of them are absolutely fantastic together.  Their chemistry is some of the best in any comedy film.  Even after seeing it several times now, I still can’t help but laugh at Neal Page’s (Martin) misfortune and Del Griffith’s (Candy) good-natured clumsiness.  This was very close to being my number one spot but it was barely inched out by another John Hughes film.

National Lampoon's Vacation movie poster1) National Lampoon’s Vacation

Ah, the OG road trip movie (probably not, don’t quote me on that). I think I was drawn to National Lampoon’s Vacation based on the movie poster / cover art, honestly.  How can that be called anything less than epic?  This is one of those films that anyone can relate to.  Clark just wants to give his family the perfect vacation, his wife Ellen wants to get to Walley World in one piece, while their children, Rusty and Audrey, would rather be anywhere else. The Griswolds are constantly finding themselves in precarious situations that you can’t help but laugh it.  If you ever think your family has problems, watch this film and you’ll instantly feel better.

Honorary mentions include Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Tommy Boy, Fanboys, and Zombieland.

But wait, there’s more! Here’s Allie again to tell you about it:

Now, it was my suggestion to Drew that we throw in a little something extra into this post for a bit of fun. My question was, if you could go on holiday or vacation anywhere from a movie, either fictional or real, where would you go? I probably should have thought about my answer before suggesting that because that’s why my part of this post has taken so long to write! Thinking of things I’ve watched recently though, I would absolutely love to explore the island of Themyscira, from Wonder Woman (2017). I haven’t had a true beach holiday in years, and that island looked stunning. Plus, I’m not exactly going to complain if Chris Pine just happened to wash up on the shore whilst I was sipping a cocktail!

A place I would really like to go would be the Republic capital planet of Coruscant. However, that might be a little bit further of a trip than Allie had in mind. So instead, I would travel to Hogwarts.  It would be fun to see the best school of witchcraft and wizardry the UK has to offer. Not to mention driving through that picturesque country side.


Big thank you to Allie for joining me. You can see all her antics on her site at Often Off Topic.

If you would like to participate in this year’s Christmas in July Blogathon, click here for details and sign up information.

What are some of your favorite road trip films?

Until next time, cheers!

Advertisements

My Disney Mix Tape (Featuring Film Music Central)

Hey, readers!

By a show of hands, how many people here remember cassette tapes? I certainly do.  And I remember making my own mixes that way I could listen to all my favorite songs at once.  I still enjoy making mixes today, although on CDs, especially for use in my car because sometimes the radio just doesn’t cut it.  This works well for songs not common on the radio, such as Disney music.  There is a subtle art to creating a mix tape that I think many people have forgotten about or didn’t realize was there, so it is always an adventure trying to create the “perfect mix tape.” I thought I would share what I have come up with for my Disney mix with all of you.  I didn’t want to have all the fun by myself, so I invited Bex (Becky) from Film Music Central to create her own mix as well. Bex posts reviews and about a variety of film related news and topics on her site, with a particular focus on music in film (hence the name!). She even is a co-host on the Talking Stars podcast that I was recently a guest on. Be sure to go give her site a look once you finish here. Now, onto our mixes! In proper gentlemanly fashion, ladies first.

I’m actually a little too young to remember when mix tapes were all the rage, but it is fun to imagine the mix tapes I could create. If iTunes didn’t exist, I would definitely create a mix tape consisting entirely of Disney songs. What would go on this tape? Well, in no particular order…

Side One

  1. Frozen “Let it Go” (2013): For me this is the ultimate “Be yourself” song, and for a time I had this song eternally on repeat. Anytime I’m feeling upset, I put this song on and by the time it’s over I feel much better.
  2. The Little Mermaid “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (1989): Yea, this is a villain song, but I love listening to this one, Pat Carroll’s voice makes this song an electrifying experience every time.
  3. Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016): It’s true, every Disney film has a song exactly like this one, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great song. I think we all have times when we feel confined by routine and we want to break out.
  4. Tarzan “Son of Man” (1999): For some reason, listening to this song just motivates me.
  5. The Jungle Book “I Wanna Be Like You” (1967): Louis Prima just makes me want to get up and dance every time I hear this song.
  6. Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991): I listen to this song because how the villagers describe Belle is basically how I was viewed growing up (though less kind words were used). It just reminds me of me when I was a kid.
  7. Beauty and the Beast “Tale as Old As Time” (1991): If I ever get married, this song will play at my wedding.
  8. The Hunchback of Notre Dame “Out There” (1996): When I was younger, I was obsessed with wanting to be “normal”, and when I put on this song, I would imagine I was asking for one day “out there” to be “normal.”
  9. Hercules “Zero to Hero” (1997): I just like this song to be honest 🙂
  10. Hercules “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” (1997): It’s funny, the older I get, the more I feel like Meg in her initial views toward love (she’s over it). When I’m in a really cynical mood about life, this song goes on.

Side Two

  1. James and the Giant Peach “Eating the Peach” (1996): Disney silly songs are some of my favorite songs, and this is no exception.
  2. The Aristocats “Scales and Arpeggios” (1970): I’ve been involved with music in some way since the 4th grade, so this song basically describes my mindset as a child where music was concerned (I was the human version of Marie).
  3. Mulan “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (1998): No lie, this is a great song to listen to while you’re training (ANY kind of training).
  4. Peter Pan “You Can Fly!” (1953): What kid didn’t dream of being able to fly? I love listening to this song and pretending I’m the one flying off to Neverland.
  5. Star Wars “Main Theme” (1977): Since Disney owns Star Wars, that technically makes all Star Wars music “Disney music” so naturally I’m going to include this.
  6. Tarzan “Strangers Like Me” (1999)
  7. Sleeping Beauty “Once Upon A Dream” (1959)
  8. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “Whistle While You Work” (1937): Best Disney work song EVER.
  9. The Jungle Book “The Bear Necessities” (1967)
  10. Robin Hood “The Phony King of England (1973)

And that’s what my Disney mix tape would look like 🙂 Thanks to Drew for coming up with the idea for this cool post 🙂

You’re welcome Bex! Now here is my mix tape, in this particular order:

Side One

  1. I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” (Mulan) – Gotta start with a strong one. This is easily my favorite song from Mulan.  My sister and I have killed this as a duet.
  2. Under The Sea” (The Little Mermaid) – Whenever I hear this song, I can’t help but dance around. It has created some awkward situations…
  3. Be Our Guest” (Beauty and the Beast) – Another one of my top Disney songs.  I love the dip in the middle of the song before it builds up again.
  4. I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” (The Lion King) – I love the colorful animation that occurs during this song. I can always see it in my head whenever I hear it.
  5. You’re Welcome” (Moana) – I mentioned in my review of Moana that I didn’t thing the soundtrack was a strong as other Disney soundtracks but this stands out as my favorite song from it.
  6. Colors Of The Wind” (Pocahontas) – For a song just over three minutes long, it sends a powerful message about not judging others quickly and to look at something from multiple points of view.
  7. Bare Necessities” (The Jungle Book) – I had a sing-a-long that had this song on it. Ever since, it has been one of my favorite Disney tunes.
  8. Friends On The Other Side” (The Princess and the Frog) – The tape moves into the villainous song territory, starting with the voodoo witch doctor Fracilier. I like the bass line that plays throughout most of the song and the spirits that sing back-up. I’m a simple man.
  9. Poor Unfortunate Souls” (The Little Mermaid) – This might be the most underrated song from the Disney Renaissance.  Pat Carroll as Ursula is down right ghastly.
  10. Be Prepared” (The Lion King) – Easily one of the best villain song ever written. Jeremy Irons is menacing as Scar, even when he sings.

Side Two

  1. A Whole New World” (Aladdin) – My cousins would kill me if I made a Disney mix tape and didn’t include this song. It is such a classic and so easy to sing along with, especially if you’ve go company.
  2. I See The Light” (Tangled) – Another great duet tune.
  3. You’ll Be In My Heart” (Tarzan) – This song always gets me emotional, especially when thinking about the lyrics.
  4. How Far I’ll Go” (Moana) – I didn’t expect to have two songs from Moana on this mix but Auli’i Cravalho absolutely nails it.
  5. Let It Go” (Frozen) – This is the perfect song to transition from the more mellower songs that start this side of the tape to the quicker ones that follow. Not to mention it had to be on here because I have literally listened to this song for hours.
  6. Why Should I Worry” (Oliver and Company) – Billy Joel is one of my favorite singers so I absolutely had to include one of his songs on here.
  7. Zero To Hero” (Hercules) – This song makes me want to have a gospel choir follow me around like the Muses do Herc.
  8. Friend Like Me” (Aladdin) – Hands down my favorite song from Aladdin. Perfect penultimate song for the mix.
  9. You’ve Got a Friend In Me” (Toy Story) – Great mellow tune to conclude with. I like to close my eyes, lean my head back, and relax when I listen to this song.

And that’s it! It was hard to narrow it down to enough to fit on a tape. Those that (barely) didn’t make the cut include “Cruella de Vil” (101 Dalmations), “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat” (Aristocats) “Prince Ali” (Aladdin), “Hakuna Matata” (The Lion King), “Won’t Say I’m In Love” (Hercules), “Reflection” (Mulan), “Perfect World” (The Emperor’s New Groove), and “I’ve Got A Dream” (Tangled).

Thank you Bex for joining me in this project! I had a lot of fun putting this together and I hope you did, too. 🙂

What songs wold be on your Disney mix tape?

Until next time, cheers!

If you are interested in participating in the Ultimate 90s Blogathon, hosted by Kim from Tranquil Dreams and myself, you can find all the information here.

Drew’s Samantha’s Movie Reviews: Moana

Happy holidays! I hope everyone is in the holiday spirit because I have a very special gift for you.  Today, my little sister is making her blogging debut in the feature Samantha’s Movie Reviews! Samantha was one of my movie buddies when seeing Moana in the theaters and is a fellow Disney movie fanatic. I have said before that a love for Disney runs in my family and my sister is no exception.  Samantha is the sister who watched Mulan the way I watched Aladdin (read: all the time), not to be confused with the sister who was obsessed with The Little Mermaid (see, we are a Disney family). We saw Moana last weekend and after discussing the film with her, I asked her if she wanted to write her own review for it. And wouldn’t you know it, see agreed! She does discuss spoilers so consider yourself warned. Now, without further ado, here is Samantha’s review of Moana. Enjoy!


Moana movie poster
Disney always has had a wide variety of movies they produce. It seems that all the newer princess films are more tied with girl power rather than needing a prince. This is important to young children to show that they should be themselves to be happy. Moana sets a good example and is another strong character from Disney, along side other heroines including Mulan and Ana.

This movie definitely had its fair share of characters. However, there were a few characters that stood out to me. Moana is one of these characters and not just because she is the main character. For a Disney princess, I found her to be kind of relatable. Not only do we share a love for the sea, but we also have ambition. Moana knew in her heart that she needed to travel outside the reef to find what was waiting for her. She is a determined teenager who isn’t afraid to show her true personality. From early on in Moana’s life, her Gramma Tala seemed to understand her better than anyone on the island. She was the person who also believed that Moana was destined to travel and be a voyager. It was Gramma Tala that showed Moana the large ships that their people used to travel on. This is what pushed her to go out and find Maui.

moana-with-mother

I also like the character of Moana’s mother. In the very beginning of the movie, she took her husband’s side when it came to the water. However, those feelings changed. As Moana was packing supplies for her trip, her mother walks in. One may think that she was coming to stop her daughter from going, but in reality, she came to help her. I found that almost touching because she knew this is something Moana really wanted and needed to do to save her people.

While on her voyage, Moana tries to find the great demigod, Maui. This is the fourth character that stood out to me. I enjoyed how much that animation resembled Dwayne Johnson. An example of these resemblances is during Maui’s song “You’re Welcome.” During this song, Maui does the classic “pec muscle thing” that Dwayne does in the majority of this movies. I thought this was a good way to bring his personality into his character.

Maui eyebrow raise

Don’t forget about the patented Dwayne Johnson one-eyebrow raise. -Drew

Moana had numerous memorable scenes and a couple that had tears filling up everyone’s eyes. One of these tear-jerker moments was as Gramma Tala was dying. As her time was coming to an end, she pulled her granddaughter in close to convince her to go pass the reef and that she would always be with her. Even though this was one of the emotional scenes, Disney managed to add a little punch line. She explained that in another life, she hoped to be a ray otherwise she chose the wrong tattoo. Shortly after Moana set out on her boat, the directors showed Gramma Tala’s death in a different way; they showed a giant ray swimming under Moana’s boat. I found this to be a very clever way to show the death without specifically showing her dying.

As always, a demigod has to have something to show their achievements. In Maui’s case, that was through his tattoos. I enjoyed the fact that he had to earn the tattoos on his body. Towards the end of the movie, once the Heart of the Te Fiti was restored, Maui received a new tattoo to represent the voyage that he and Moana had traveled. I thought this was a good touch on the writer’s part because now Maui will always remember the fascinating journey he had been on.

Most people don’t actually pay attention to the credits as they are rolling, but if you did, you may have noticed that there was a separate animation team just for hair and water. This shows just how much effort the creators put into the little details. I personally enjoyed the hair and water very much. I found Moana’s hair to be almost life like. After Maui tossed her into the water multiple times, her hair looked wet like normal hair would. I thought that was a good touch because in a way, it made the movie more realistic. In real life, women definitely do not come out of the water with luscious hair like many early Disney princesses did. The water was obviously mainly where this movie took place so it definitely needed to be perfect. It always seemed to be sparkling in some way in both the noon and sunlight. I found both these aspects to make the movie more visual to the audience.

Moana had to have a lot of girl power to survive on her voyage, especially after Maui gave up on her. She didn’t quit when her father told her not to go beyond the reef or when Maui refused to assist her. Her mother and grandmother encouraged her to go on the voyage, giving her the support to follow her heart. Moana gives girls another inspiring Disney role model who isn’t afraid to be herself.


Pretty impressive, eh? Besides proofreading and answering questions, I had nothing to do with this review. It is all her writing. Thank you for writing this for me Sam, a little for giving me an extra day to get my review together but mostly because it was great to have you. Hopefully you will be back again!

My review for Moana can be read here.

Cheers!

Happy Thanksgiving! Celebrating with Special Guests

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is a day here in the States that we give thanks for what we have and the people in our lives.  A time we gather around our table eating gravy-smothered turkey, stuffing, beats, and pumpkin pie.  A time we gather around the television, screaming and cheering at the football game.  A time we talk with those not seen often, catching up on lost time.  A time we remember those who are special in ours lives, especially those no longer with us.  No matter how Thanksgiving is spent, it is always with family and loved ones.

We all have something to be thankful for in our lives.  For me, this blog has become something extra special to me, way more than I ever imagined when I first started in the summer of 2013.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I am a horrible (great?) procrastinator.  At any given moment, I will do anything and everything to distract myself from what I need to do.  This blog has helped me get better at not doing that.  Feeling responsible to give you, my readers and friends, some content pushes me to actually get stuff done.  If I don’t deliver what I promise, I begin to feel guilty, like I let you guys down, and I don’t like letting my friends down.  This has conditioned me to sit down (or stand up if need be) and just do what I have to, although it helps that this is something I like to do and is sometimes part of my procrastination process.  I am thankful that this blog pushes me to do better in other parts of my life.

Starting out, I never considered myself much of a writer. Even to this day, over three years later, I still don’t.  I’m just a person who puts his thoughts and feelings into words. Nothing special and certainly not enough to consider myself a writer.  However, I have noticed an improvement in my written communication since starting out.  Besides the experience of me writing, seeing so many different styles of writing across the blogosphere, I am always learning from them and trying to improve my writing so I feel like I can fit in with the rest of you who actually know how to write.  I am thankful that by writing for this blog, I have been able to improve my writing skills.

Working with clients time zones away, I know how efficient the the internet is to communicate with others all over the globe. Yet, I never expected to talk with people literally all over the world.  I have spoken with people from Canada, the UK, South Africa, Israel, and even Indonesia. I was even able to meet up with one of my fellow bloggers earlier this year.  Although I might not know all your names or seen your faces, I consider you friends.  I am truly thankful for the bonds I have created with many of you that grew from becoming a blogger. I am sure they will last for many more years to come.

Seeing as this is a day we all give thanks, I extended an invitation for those who wanted to join in and asked them a simple question: Why are you thankful for your blog and for being and blogger? Here is what they had to say:

Ashley (Box Office Buzz)

I initially chose to start a blog on WordPress because I liked the blog designs available and the ease of working with the templates. However, what has kept me on WordPress is the wonderful community of bloggers. I’m thankful to have a place where I can geek out about my favorite movies and TV shows. I don’t get made fun of for sharing my passions, and even if people disagree, they do it in a respectful manner. Although I’ll probably never get to meet many of my blog buddies face to face, I’m thankful we can all connect through blogging! 🙂

Catherine (Thoughts All Sorts)

Thoughts All Sorts began blogging purely as a written outlet for whatever came to mind (hence the name). For nobody really. Well, for me to just write in a “public” forum meaning I needed to make an effort. This was rapidly to change. Fate had other plans and somehow I came across one of those addictive things called a Blogathon. I finally plucked up the courage to participate and wow…it was like opening Pandora’s Box. Just that one post changed everything and I am so thankful for that! The world, no, the Blogs, I discovered are the best thing out there. I would definitely not be blogging anymore if I didn’t have the support of the wonderful people behind these Blogs. So, I’m thankful for the readers and the writers out there and especially the time they invest in the community. They range from  the social bloggers and the serious ones, but most importantly they range across all corners of the globe, across all genders, age groups, beliefs, races, the works…and THAT makes it so awesome…the things I’ve become exposed to, the opinions, recommendations and just general comments…they always, ALWAYS make my day! Oh…and I’m thankful that I’m bound to add a new movie or book to my “To Watch/Read” list…daily.

Keith (Keith Loves Movies)

I am thankful for my blog and being a blogger because I get to share my love of movies (and now television) with the rest of the world. I’ve always liked movies and I often went to the theater. My friends knew this and they would often go to me with questions or asked me for recommendations. One day, a friend suggested that I should write about movies and that was when my blog was born. When I started almost a year and a half ago, I had no idea what was going to happen or how big it would become but I’m glad I did it. I’ve seen over 160 movies this year and it is has been fun to write about them so far. I hope to do a lot more in the future as my blog grows.

Allie (Flick Chicks)

Movies have always been a big part of my life. I was brought up on Disney, which I still hold close to my heart. As I got older, I went through some rough times and movies were my escape. Any movie I’ve watched more than a handful of times, I have memories attached to, both good and bad. I also love to talk about them, but before I started blogging most conversations would go something like:
Me: Oh hey, I watched a brilliant movie over the weekend called ‘—————-’, have you seen it?
Other Person: Nah, it looks rubbish/Yeah it was okay/Why are you watching that when you should be watching ‘—————’ instead?

Eventually, I kept myself to myself. When I met Jenna, my blogging buddy at work, I found we shared a common interest, movies! Not only movies, but talking about movies! My life was changed forever. We shared DVDs, had movie nights together, wrote emails back and forth with little reviews, and my love for all things cinematic was rekindled.

It was only a matter of time before we started a blog called Flick Chicks together. To begin with, we were talking to ourselves, but eventually we found our way into the movie blogosphere by taking part in a blogathon, and got chatting to other bloggers. From there, our little network grew and grew, and every day I get excited to check if there are any new comments on the blog. I’m so thankful for everyone who stops by and takes the time to comment on something I’ve written.

Writing has always been therapeutic for me, and although I haven’t studied film, or even writing or journalism, I love the fact that I can put my thoughts down into words, share it online, and have other bloggers interact with me. We aren’t a snobby scene in the slightest, and I’m thankful for the fact I can be truthful and honest about how I feel about a movie, without being belittled for it. Whether I loved a movie that bombed at the box office, or hated a classic, I can share my thoughts without fear and a lot of times, be surprised that there are others out there who feel the same.

I’m thankful for everything that blogging has brought me. I talk about a lot of you fellow bloggers all the time, and consider you to be my friends. I’m thankful for the comments, and the Twitter mentions, that cheer me up when I’m feeling blue. And I’m thankful to you all for widening my movie horizons. For recommending hidden indie gems that I’d never heard of, and for convincing me to see classics that I thought would be dull. Thank you!

Robin (Write Out of LA)

Sometimes you have to brush aside the making a living aspect of writing a blog. You also have to roll with the punches when it comes to the hard work that goes into the upkeep of a website. You have to take it in your stride when time eludes you, that blogging can essentially suck hours from you daily. You can bitch and moan about these things, out loud, or internally within your many thoughts. How do I make money with my site? When will I be rewarded for my hard work? Why are there not more hours in the day? Of course if you just drop it all and quit – problem solved.

Yeah, I thought so. Many a time do I remind myself of the pride, the passion, the privilege, that comes with writing about what you love. I am thankful for that. Pouring your thoughts onto the page, like right now, so you can share your notions. I am thankful for that. The community of film-lovers with whom I can mingle, from all walks of life: America. Hong Kong. Germany. Greece. Canada. Brazil. France. New Zealand.  I am thankful for them. Every single one of them. Their contributions to my site, be it by providing physical, publishable words, or mere page clicks while sipping their coffee. I am grateful for those.

Maybe, just maybe, one day I can quit my day job, and make this my priority, make it my living, work harder, faster, and with more zest than ever. That’s the dream. And I am thankful for that.

SG (Rhyme and Reason)

I’ve so much to look up and be thankful for,
The least of which is my own blog,
A hobby, an outlet, a dare to explore
And add my unique dialogue.

I’m thankful for movies I’d never have seen
Without recommendations and tips
From fellow film bloggers, who never are mean
Like some online relationships.

Beyond all the personal gratification
Of writing what I love and know
And seeing that someone in some distant nation
Is liking what I have to show,

A blog is a door to acquaintances, friends,
And fans of what I enjoy too.
To Drew, Rob, and far as the blogosphere sends,
A Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Rob (Movierob)

As a fan of film, I watch as many films as I can (both new and old). As much as I love movies though, I enjoy having meaningful discussions with others about movies. Since starting my blog 3.5 years ago, I have been so thankful and grateful for the lovely film blogging community who are always there when needed. I have discussed, debated, derided and of course been delighted by so many conversations with my fellow bloggers and that makes this even more fun!

Kim (Tranquil Dreams)

Starting up a blog is probably one of the best decisions that I’ve made. A blog is a space to share crazy, stupid and sometimes random (or boring) thoughts. It’s a place to stay positive. In fact, it makes me thankful for many things. The first is the chance to meet a lot of like-minded people who share a lot of similar interests and at times even opens up a ton of other avenues to look into. Second, I’m thankful because it gives the motivation to improve, update, upgrade. It’s a place to learn. Everyday with a blog is a learning experience whether it’s just learning about a new movie or book, or a different opinion and view on whatever topic, learning how to write better and structure posts better, or even technically learning how to put together pictures, edit videos and produce a podcast. This leads onto the third reason why I’m thankful. I’m thankful because the blogosphere (that I’ve encountered) is a place of acceptance. Sure, there are people who might strongly disagree but I’ve never met anyone so extreme. Everyone here is accepting and growing as an individual. It’s great to be among such a motivated crowd and realize that sometimes all those crazy hobbies you have are also someone else’s. In a world when its kind of messy and real life sometimes dishes us a ton of losses, its nice to find some friends and acquaintances, even if they are only through email and comments that always shines a light into our world and hope that we can do the same for them. Being a blogger is something I’m thankful for every single day because everyone I’ve met and all the posts I’ve read has made me a better person: more courageous and motivated and even more passionate and energized to do better every single day.


Huge thank you to everyone who joined in.  I am grateful that all of you took the time to respond and share something personal. Thank you.

I will propose the same question to the rest of you and you can answer in the comments: Why are you thankful for your blog and for being and blogger?

Until next time, cheers!

Tarantino Movie Discussion (Featuring Film and TV 101)

Hey there!

Quentin Tarantino is one of the most recognizable filmmakers of this era.  Is brand of violence, comedy, and unique story telling structure is very recognizable, even to someone who is only vaguely familiar with his works.  For me, I enjoy his films but I’m not crazy about them like other people are. One such Tarantino fanatic is Kira, over at Film and TV 101.  After learning about her Tarantino obsession, I decided to pick her brain and find out what makes him such an appealing director and writer. Kira reviews many television and film genres on her site. She also just expanded her social media presence. She has a lot going on. Be sure to go check her site out so you don’t miss any of it! Now, let’s hear what she has to say.


Quentin Tarantino

Me: Since you are the bigger Tarantino fan of the two of us, why don’t you start us off?

Kira: Which films by Quentin Tarantino have you seen?

Reservoir Dogs movie posterMe: So far I have seen Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill 1 & 2, Inglorious Bastards, Django Unchained, and his segments in Four Rooms and Sin City (if those count). How about you? Which ones have you seen?

Kira: They most certainly do count! Myself, I have seen Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill 1&2, Inglorious Bastards, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. I’ve also seen Natural Born Killers, True Romance, From Dusk Til Dawn and his segment in Sin City.

Which of those films did you prefer and why?

Pulp Fiction movie posterMe: Nice. So pretty much everything except for Deathproof. Have you heard of Four Rooms? Not many people seem to know about it.

My favorites are the Kill Bill films.  The Bride is such a great character and Uma Thurman plays her perfectly. And despite the blood and violence on screen, the soundtrack is rock and moving and weirdly upbeat. It shouldn’t work but it does and does beautifully. How about you? What’s your favorite film of Tarantino’s?

Kira: Oh my goodness, how could I forget Deathproof? Yeah, I have seen that one as well. I have indeed heard of Four Rooms, it’s just not one I have managed to find to watch yet.

The Kill Bill films are wonderful examples of how Tarantino is not afraid to make people badass. Where some directors may have shied away from having actresses in such brutal roles, Tarantino relishes it, and it makes a good contrast to his more masculine films such as Reservoir Dogs and Django Unchained.

My favourite of all of his films has to be Reservoir Dogs. It is such an achievement in film making in my opinion, and shows that a solid script can work wonders. It has so many iconic scenes, another killer soundtrack and all the trademarks of Tarantino film.

Jackie Brown movie posterBesides The Bride, what other characters of QT’s stick in you mind?

Me: For sure. He has shown that he can write any kind of character, regardless of gender, and make them awesome.

Jules from Pulp Fiction is another character I like a lot (it probably helps that Pulp Fiction is my second favorite film of his). His arc is one of the most dynamic and interesting of all of Tarantino’s characters. And he is another character perfectly cast, played by Samuel L. Jackson. There is literally no one else who could play the character like Jackson did!

What sold you on Tarantino and his films? Was there a scene, character or moment that really struck you?

Kira: Can’t knock your choice of Jules – him and Jackson are icons of Tarantino film.

I think it was probably Django Unchained that first caught my attention with his films. I already felt pretty special being allowed to watch it as I was nowhere near old enough and my mum used to be pretty strict about these things. But when it came to the scene where the Bagheads set out on a failed lynching… My word, that’s when he had me. That has quite possibly got to be one of the funniest scenes that has ever been caught on camera for me.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 movie posterIt was after watching that film that I secretly watched Reservoir Dogs online and absolutely loved it. I supposed you could say he had my curiosity with Django, but now he had my attention after Reservoir Dogs. Hmmm… I’m pretty sure there was a Tarantino character with a line similar to that.

What scene sticks in your mind?

Me: Haha What a film for your first Tarantino experience.  I don’t remember that scene very much so I will have to go back and check it out!

There are so many scenes that come to mind whenever I think of Tarantino: When Vincent and Jules go to the apartment for the hit, Jules’ scene at the diner, the opening scene of Inglorious Bastards when Hans is interviewing the man in his home, “Stuck in the Middle with You” from Reservoir Dogs. But my favorite scenes are when the Bride is fighting O-Ren Ishii and the Crazy 88. That entire portion of the film is absolute madness, fun and utter madness. It completely encapsulates what that film is all about.  Not to mention it has some great choreography.

Are there any of his films that you don’t like?

Death Proof movie posterKira: I can only imagine how much fun it would’ve been to film those scenes in Kill Bill and what the set would have been like on those days.

As for films I don’t like, I wasn’t the greatest fan of Natural Born Killers, the Oliver Stone film that was written by Tarantino. It just didn’t do it for me – I thought it was a strange film from beginning to end if I’m honest. However, the film I was most disappointed by was The Hateful Eight this year. I had such big hopes for that film and it turned into three hours of my life that I will never get back. It was missing all the trademarks of a Tarantino film that I look forward to seeing when I watch his films. After the things I had heard, and the fact that it was going to be another western after the success of Django, I was expecting the world from him. Words don’t even really begin to describe the way I feel about that film.

How about you? Are there any films of his you particularly could live without?

Me: Oh, man, being on the set of Kill Bill would have been so much fun! I wouldn’t have mind hanging around Lucy Liu for a little while. 😉

Three hours is a lot to sit through if you aren’t feeling engaged. Some movies can pull it off and it doesn’t even feel like it is taking that long. But when you start clicking your heels waiting for the film to be over, it really ruins the experience.

You’re going to be upset at me for saying this but my least favorite Tarantino film I have seen so far is Reservoir Dogs. I just couldn’t get into the story. It was fun and entertaining but I didn’t feel like I was given a reason why I should care that someone in this group of thieves betrayed them. I know the script worked for most people, such as yourself, but it didn’t do it for me.

If someone came to you and said they wanted to get into the Tarantino film universe, where would you start them? Where would you have them go from there?

Inglorious Bastards movie posterKira: I know what you mean about the three hour run time. I lost count of how many times I must have looked at my watch in that time.

And I shouldn’t worry about Reservoir Dogs, I showed it to my parents and they were somewhat underwhelmed it.

If I was to introduce someone to the Tarantino film universe, the film I would show them would very much depend on the person, although the film that just about everyone wants to see is Pulp Fiction, so that’d be a good place to start. If they liked it, I’d point them in the direction of Kill Bill or Reservoir Dogs as the snappy dialogue and stylised violence are shared well between the two films.

What film would use to introduce people to Tarantino films? Or what film would you want to watch to reacquaint yourself with his films after not seeing any for a while?

Django Unchained movie posterMe: Well, having only seen a handful of them, I would probably say the same thing. Pulp Fiction has everything that Tarantino films are known for, good dialogue, great characters, lots of cursing, violence. And it is the most well known. Then move onto Reservoir Dogs for a better script example and the Kill Bills for a badass female character and violence. Plus, Pulp Fiction has several ties to both of those films in the Tarantino-verse so it would be fun to see if they would pick up on those.

I probably would like to go back and watch either Reservoir Dogs or Django Unchained since I haven’t watched them in a while and I wasn’t as impressed with them as others were. So maybe it is time to give them another chance.

To wrap up, how would you rank his films?

Kira: It would be fun to see if people could spot the nods to the other films in Pulp Fiction!

1. Reservoir Dogs
2. Django Unchained
3. Kill Bill (both)
4. Pulp Fiction
5. Jackie Brown
6. Inglorious Bastards
7. Deathproof
.
.
.
.
.
.
8. The Hateful Eight

What would your ranking of the films you have watched look like?

The Hateful Eight movie posterMe: My list would be:

1. Kill Bill
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Inglorious Bastards
4. Reservoir Dogs
5. Django Unchained

Thank you so much for having this discussion with me, Kira! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Kira: Thank you very much for having me! It’s been wonderful – hopefully we can do it again sometime in the future 🙂

Quentin Tarantino


And there you have it! Those are some of Kira and my thoughts on Tarantino and his films.  How about you? Do you like his films? What do you or don’t you like about them? Which are your favorites?

Thanks again to Kira for taking the time to talk with me.

Until next time, cheers!

My Fave Five Feel Good Films (Featuring Life of this City Girl)

Everybody likes to feel happy. There is nothing better than feeling good about yourself and the things around you.  We can all find happiness in the things around us, it truly is the little things in life.  That is the idea behind the 100 Happy Days challenge, to find something each and everyday to be appreciative for and that makes you happy.  Recently, Natasha, the lady behind Life of this City Girl, completed the challenge herself.  Her success and the success of many other made me think about things that made me happy.  One of those things for me, obviously, are movies.  In particular, there are those movie that can’t help but make you feel good after you are done. Whether that is because the hero saved the day, or the main character got the boy/girl they had a crush on, or one of the million other reasons. Another thing that makes me happy is talking and working with my fellow bloggers.  So I invited Natasha over to share five films that give her a smile every time she watches them. Here are Natasha and my five favorite feel good films. Take it away, Natasha!

Drew checked in with me about a possible collaboration post, and eventually came forth with movies that makes us all feel good. He has this feature, and I have my Five Things Friday, so birds of a feather, eh, Drew? Hehe.

Anyway, it is pretty tricky to narrow it down to only five films, but I eventually chose these below. I just realized that most are all really, really girly films, but I love them, will watch them repeatedly and makes me laugh without fail.

5) Mean Girls

Brilliantly penned by Tina Fey, this is a social commentary film on the dramas of high school life. I think everyone is quite familiar with Cady Heron, her “African” background, and her struggles to fit in with the all American teenage environment she is thrust into. Best line ever in this film:

MEAN GIRLS

4) Wild Child

wild child

The least well known of this list, but Wild Child makes me so stupidly cheerful. I had this little fantasy of boarding school as a kid, how much fun it would be, the crazy things we could do (all fueled by Harry Potter and a local book series I used to devour), so this film spoke directly to all those suppressed dreams. Emma Roberts is the epitome of the American brat, her English school mates are so very English, and the heartthrob of Alex Pettyfer in this is through the roof. All the adventures, naughtiness and emotional battles keeps me entertained on the most basic of popcorn levels, and I thoroughly recommend a watch if you haven’t yet!

3) Crazy Stupid Love

crazy stupid love

Ahh this film! It is the second film on this list with Emma Stone in, and as usual, she’s hilariously funny and relatable and enviably pretty. Then there is the ever entertaining and gorgeous Ryan Gosling, who manages to be hilarious and attractive and so damn cute. This is one of Steve Carrell’s favorite pieces of work – I love when he is more than those silly little comedies that gets made so often. It’s a funny film, with great one liners and casual advice on life on love. I’ve probably watched this one ten times already.

2) The Avengers

Avengers

MCU is my favorite powerhouse at the moment. They are thrilling, full of adventures, they produce their movies well and they are just getting better – proven by more intricate plots as they continue into their third phase. I particularly enjoyed The Avengers because it was the first time all the characters came together on screen. It is also typically Marvel with sarcasm and humor in between the drama.

1) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

lotr

This movie is the besssst. It is my favorite in one of my favorite franchises ever. It is perfectly done, the characters are so well cast I can’t imagine them as any other character, the movies are actually quite loyal to the books. And that fight scene at Gondor. And the Ride of the Rohirrim. And Aragorn taking his rightful place. And and and and EVERYTHING. I can’t help it when I watch this film to cheer and yell and be really very happy when the Hobbitses and everyone end up so damn happy!

Thanks Drew! This list could have gone on for days and days, and it was quite tough narrowing it down to only five.

And what a great bird to be. 😛 Thanks for sharing, Natasha. Now, for my fave five feel good films. Some of my honorable mentions are The Avengers, School of RockDodgeball: A True Underdog Story, The Incredibles and The Blues Brothers.

Legally Blonde movie poster5) Legally Blonde

Some movies have a character that is just so positive and upbeat that their attitude is infectious.  Elle Woods is one of those characters. Throughout her entire journey to become a lawyer, she never lets anyone bring her down. No matter what challenge comes her way, she is always positive and overcomes it.  I can’t help but get a smile on my face whenever Elle stands up confidently against those trying to bring her down.  I can feel her optimism and I always finish the movie in a better mood.

Enchanted movie poster4) Enchanted

Like Elle, Giselle is a positive person. She is thrust from her animated home of Andalasia into real-world Manhattan. In her quest to return home, she runs into Robert, who makes her question her new marriage with Prince Edward.  Manhattan is very different from Andalasia but she doesn’t let the culture shock stop her.  Giselle is always singing a song and looking at the positives of her situation, even when things look bleak.  In the end, she ends up with her true love. And they lived happily ever after, as they say.

Accepted movie poster3) Accepted

Let’s face it, university life can be hard. You know what takes away some of the pressure? Starting your own college with your own curriculum.  That is exactly what Bartleby “B” Gaines and his friends do.  It seems that B can talk his way out of any situation, which is a skill he will need when the neighboring university tries to get his school shut down.  B, played by the wonderfully awkward Justin Long, is one of those characters that you want to see succeed.  He and is band of misfits have a real relationship. To see them have each others back and support each other through thick and thin always makes me feel good through the end.

The Princess Diaries movie poster2) The Princess Diaries

Where the previous movies are on this list because of the characters, The Princess Diaries make the list because of the message. Although Anne Hathaway is an absolute darling as Mia, it’s more about her journey.  Nobody is perfect and it is these imperfections that make us unique and special.  Many thought awkward and clumsy Mia wasn’t fit to become the next queen of Genovia, and she began to believe it herself. But with the help of her Grandma, the current queen, she finds her confidence and accepts her place as the heir to the throne.  Mia’s journey is a heartwarming one and that’s exactly what happens whenever I watch this film.

Tommy Boy movie poster1) Tommy Boy

Ah, Tommy Boy. Just thinking about this movie makes me smile.  Tommy Callahan takes a road trip to save his family business after his father passes away unexpectedly.  He isn’t exactly what you call “book smart” but he tries his hardest, despite what others think of him.  Throw in his father’s assistant into the mix and you have one goofy pair. Chris Farley and David Spade work magic together, making me laugh with every scene. You wouldn’t expect a pair like Tommy and Richard to do well but together they manage to pull it off and save the company, along with hundreds of jobs in the process.  How can that not make you feel good?


Thank you so much Natasha for sharing your go-to feel good films. You can check out all of Natasha’s views and favorites on her site at Life of this City Girl.

The Christmas in July 2016 blogathon is starting in a few weeks. For more information, check out this post.

What are some of your feel good films?