Category: Movies

Movie Review: A Million Ways to Die in the West

By , January 27, 2015

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Sometimes you just need a movie that will make you laugh. Sometimes you want to see Adam Sandler get in a fist fight with Bob Barker or Will Ferrell run around a Nascar track in his underwear. If you wholeheartedly agreed and want go watch one of these right now - you definitely need to see this movie. (If you ran screaming from the room at the mere mention of Adam Sandler – you might want to skip this one. But you don’t know what you’re missing…)

Written and directed by Seth MacFarlane – the guy who brought us Family Guy and TedA Million Ways to Die in the West takes MacFarlane’s trademark irreverence and moves it to where it belongs: The Wild West. The West was a rough place to live. If the Indians didn’t get you, the wild animals would. So many ways to die, so little time.

Seth MacFarlane plays Albert – a local sheep farmer who’s in love with Amanda Seyfried’s Louise. Unfortunately, she’s in love with the local mustache purveyor Foy (NPH himself). Will he get her back or will Charlize Theron have to climb down from her gold Dior tower to save the day? There were parts that were laugh out loud funny and parts that were scream out loud shocking. This movie is not for the faint of heart. My favorite character was Sarah Silverman’s “Lady of the Evening.”

Two notes of caution:

1) Even if he begs for it, DO NOT lend Neil Patrick Harris your hat. You won’t want it back when he’s done.
2) People die at the fair.

Happy watching…

:) Amanda

PS Does anyone else think Seth MacFarlane looks like Peter Brady? Just wondering…

  

Sound City

By , January 18, 2015

SoundCityThis gem can be found on Hoopla and is certainly worth watching. If you read the recent Rolling Stone cover story  (December 4, 2014 – available via Zinio!) on Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters (and of course, former Nirvana member) you know he’s an intensely busy guy and that he loves the history and uniqueness of American recording studios.

Grohl produced and directed this full length documentary on the Van Nuys, California landmark, Sound City in 2013. It will have to hold me over until I can view, somehow, Sonic Highways, the eight part HBO music studio/city travelogue series he recently completed.

Sound City Studios and its legendary Neve sound mixing console saw numerous excellent bands and recordings throughout the seventies and into the nineties (a modern highpoint being Nirvana’s Nevermind) and beyond until the digital age/Pro Tools and other changes affected it’s ultimate demise in 2011. From Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Damn the Torpedos, Hard Promises (and others) to  recordings by Rick Springfield (you’ll learn more about his famous dog too), War, Cheap Trick, Johnny Cash and many others this place reveled in a no frills / do it live ethos that resulted in some truly solid recordings. Was it the room dynamics that lead to the terrific and much sought after drum sound? Or a combination of magic and luck…

The film is a flowing trip of first hand recollections, great footage, interviews with musicians and those that worked there or helped make the recordings – Butch Vig, Ric Reuben among them along with Grohl’s own animated appearances. Find out what eventually happened to the legendary sound board, see Stevie Nicks laying down vocals with the Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney jamming on what appears to be an electric cigar box guitar! Great stuff.

-Phil

Sound City

Popmatic Podcast December 17th, 2014: Best Movies of the Year

By , December 17, 2014


Your holds queue just gained a few holiday pounds. These are best movies of the year. Could Bryan’s favorite movie of the year be Amanda’s least favorite of the year? You’ll have to listen to find out. Tell us your favorites in the comments.

BEST MOVIES OF THE YEAR

Amanda
The Lego Movie1) The Lego Movie
2) Veronica Mars
3) Frozen
 
 
 
 
 

Bill
Chef1) Chef
2) A Most Wanted Man
3) Nightcrawler
 
 
 
 
 

Bryan
Maleficent1) Maleficent
2) The Congress
3) Jodorowsky’s Dune
 
 
 
 
 

Jeremy
We are the Best1) We Are the Best
2) Snowpiercer
3) Obvious Child
 
 
 
 
 

Mike
Grand Budapest Hotel1) The Grand Budapest Hotel
2) Under the Skin
3) Blue Ruin
 
 
 
 
 

TICKLING OUR FANCY

Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks by Dick Cavett

Text Me Merry Christmas” by Kristen Bell & Straight No Chaser

Holiday Wishes by Idina Menzel

Amanda’s holiday concert

Letterboxd – like GoodReads but for movies

Cutie and the Boxer

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three original 1974 version

Brick

Her

Birdman

Cat People

Captain American: Winter Soldier

Guardians of the Galaxy

A Field in England

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Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Book review: A Christmas Memory

By , December 11, 2014

capoteA Christmas Memory

By Truman Capote

 

 

When writer Truman Capote was a little boy, he lived for some years with his eccentric aunt, Miss Sook in rural Alabama. Truman considered Miss Sook to be his very best friend and this book was inspired by their time together. A Christmas Memory centers around one of Miss Sook’s favorite Christmas activities, making fruitcakes. High jinks ensue when Truman and Miss Sook set out to make 30 cakes in time for Christmas. A Christmas Memory is a warmhearted and charming tale that celebrates love and simple blessings.

 

 

-Karen

 

 

P.S.       A Christmas Memory is available as a short story for adults, as a picture book for children and on DVD. You can read more about the adventures of Truman and Miss Sook in Capote’s short story collection entitled A Christmas Memory, One Christmas and The Thanksgiving Visitor.

 

 

 

 

 

DVD review: Chef

By , December 9, 2014

Chef

I have a secret guilty pleasure. I will watch any movie with John Leguizamo in it. From the Summer of Sam to Romeo + Juliet, Ice Age to ER, I always love his characters. They’re funny and smart and he usually leaves you wanting more.

So when I saw that he as going to be in a new movie, I was intrigued. And the fact that it was about a food truck? That just made it so much the better.

Jon Favreau actually wrote, directed, and starred in this movie. Favreau is the main chef at a struggling restaurant, who is not being allowed to explore his creative food talents by square boss Dustin Hoffman. Leguizamo is his sous chef and friend. After flipping out at a food blogger (played by the great Oliver Platt) in a video that goes ultraviral online, Favreau walks away from his head chef job in order to find his culinary voice.

While on a trip to Miami with his ex-wife and son to talk to his ex-wife’s ex-husband played by a manic Robert Downey, Jr. (did you follow that?), Favreau finds himself in possession of a run-down old food truck that he has no idea what to do with. With the assitance of his son and Leguizamo, who flies from California to Miami to work on the food truck with his old boss and friend, Favreau starts the road trip of a lifetime – selling Cuban sandwiches along the way as they drive El Jefe Cubanos from Miami to California.

I liked the aspects of the movie that were about the food truck, but the story had a lot of heart and a lot of humor. As one could expect, the life of a chef offers very little time for a solid family life, and the road trip was as much about building the relationship between father and son as it was about rebuilding a career.

My husband didn’t really want to watch this with me because I’ve made him watch the Food Network all the time, but he even admitted that it was a good movie. If you are looking for a good story, feel free to start here.

But I warn you, you will want a yummy Cuban sandwich afterwards. I’m just saying…

Happy watching…

Amanda :)

 

 

Best of 2014

By , December 1, 2014

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the season of Best Books lists.  This post contains my top three picks of the year in fiction, nonfiction, and film. Note that we were lucky enough to have three of these six authors here for this year’s Southern Festival of Books!

FICTION

We Are Not OurselvesWe Are Not Ourselves
by Matthew Thomas

Best book I’ve read this year, hands down. It reminded me of all of those great sprawling books from about ten years ago, like The Fortress of Solitude and Middlesex.

P.S. It would be much better to go into this not knowing anything about the plot!

 

 

EuphoriaEuphoria
by Lily King

Historical fiction for people who don’t like historical fiction, inspired by the life of Margaret Mead.

 

 

 

 

Funny OnceFunny Once: Stories
by Antonya Nelson

Best story collection of the year, full of failed ambitions and unfulfilled expectations.

 

 

 

 

 

NONFICTION

Under MagnoliaUnder Magnolia: A Southern Memoir
by Frances Mayes

Try this even if you don’t think you like Frances Mayes.  The most surprising thing about this memoir is that it reminded me a lot of my own childhood (also in rural Georgia), even though I’m almost 35 years her junior.

 

 

 

Ten Years in the TubTen Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books
by Nick Hornby

This is a compilation of Hornby’s “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” column in The Believer and is the best book about books I’ve ever read (it helps that he and I have similar reading tastes, including a love of literary biographies). I could’ve kept reading these articles forever.

 

 

Art of the English MurderThe Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock
by Lucy Worsley

I enjoyed every page of this. I would almost call it “light” if that didn’t seem derogatory. Let’s just say it never felt like homework like some nonfiction does.

 

 

 

 

MOVIES

Blue RuinBlue Ruin
This revenge gem is for fans of the early Coen Brothers.

 

 

 

 

 


The Grand Budapest Hotel
Grand Budapest Hotel
IMHO, this is second only to The Royal Tenenbaums in the Wes Anderson oeuvre.

 

 

 

 

 

BoyhoodBoyhood
This movie amazingly transcended both its hype and the almost three-hour length. It makes for a memorable, nostalgic viewing experience.

CD review: Inside Llewyn Davis Original Soundtrack Recording

By , October 23, 2014

 Inside Llewyn Davis Original Soundtrack Recording

When the Coen Brothers write and direct a film you know two things, you’re going to see a really good movie and you’re going to hear a really fabulous soundtrack. The Coen’s latest film Inside Llewyn Davis does not disappoint.

The film, loosely inspired by the life of American folk singer Dave Van Ronk, “follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.” Oscar Isaac plays the lead character of Llewyn. Not only does Isaac’s do a great job acting he also does an amazing job singing. His voice is soulful and impressive.

 

Inside Llewyn Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing.

 

The moment I finished watching the movie, I ran to the computer to see if the library had the soundtrack….they did … was it worth the wait? Absolutely.

 

 

 

- Karen

 

 

The Inside Llewyn Davis Soundtrack is available as a CD and digitally through Hoopla on the library’s website.

 

You may also like:

Inside Llewyn Davis DVD

 

Inside Llewyn Davis: the screenplay

By Joel Coen

 

Inside Llewyn Davis Movie Website

http://www.insidellewyndavis.com/home

 

 

 

 

Movie review: Enough Said

By , September 30, 2014

Enough Said_ Enough Said

This is a smart, funny and very enjoyable movie featuring the late, great James Gandolfini in a role you may not be accustomed to given his preeminence as Tony Soprano.  He plays Albert, a sweet divorced man whose ex-wife, Marianne, befriends Eva, played by Julia Louise-Dreyfus (of course, well known from Seinfeld, New Adventures of Old Christine and recently star of HBO’s Veep).

Eva, a travelling masseusse, begins a relationship with Albert and their woman in common leads to all sorts of plot twists where shared information creates uncomfortably real and thought provoking situations.  What to reveal; When?  Who knows what?  Can we go on like this and become an honest couple based on our true feelings for each other?

Definitely a charming, romantic situational comedy worth watching with excellent acting all around and lots to recommend it.

-Phil

 

 

 

Book review: Tara Road

By , September 23, 2014

 Tara Road
By Maeve Binchy

This book has sat and sat and SAT on my To-Be-Read pile for what seems like forever. Initially I grabbed it because I thought it might have something to do with Gone with the Wind. Even though it completely doesn’t, the book jacket grabbed me. A house swap? From Dublin to Connecticut and vice versa? Hmm…I liked The Holiday. Why not?

When I finally began to read Tara Road, I borrowed the audio. This was a lucky happenstance, because the reader (in this case, Jenny Sterlin) has a beautiful Irish voice and sets the story nicely. Starting in Dublin, we meet Ria Johnson. The first half of the book details how she meets Danny Lynch & how they build their family. I kept waiting for the house exchange part, but couldn’t possibly see how it would fit. I even went back and read the cover, just to make sure this was the same book. It was, and is. I just hadn’t read far enough.

Little by little, Marilyn Vine and her Connecticut world sneek into the story. She and her husband are estranged, having just suffered through some horrific tragedy and Marilyn decides she needs some time to get away. On a whim, she dials Danny’s number in Dublin, having met him on a previous visit several years prior. When Ria answers they both cook up this scheme to trade houses for two months.

Whew! That was a lot of backstory to get through for a house exchange. But, honestly, every minute and page and scenario was worth it. At this point, you may either continue reading Tara Road OR you may switch out at start watching the movie (or do both like me!).

The movie starts right before the house exchange, significantly truncating Ria’s backstory and stars Andie MacDowell as Marilyn Vine and Olivia Williams as Ria Lynch. (Just because I always have to find some Joss Whedon connection, Williams starred as Adelle DeWitt, the head of his short-lived Dollhouse.) The book version is almost 500 pages, so naturally several plotlines and characters get cut in the movie. I loved both Ria and Marilyn, but I thought that movie Danny Lynch was nowhere as good, or as handsome, as the written Danny and I wanted to punch Polly Calahan in the face in both versions. Definitely a decent film adaptation though.

This book was nothing like what I was expecting, but I so enjoyed reading it. I was sorry when I finally finished. I had not read anything from Maeve Binchy before, but I have a feeling this won’t be the last book of hers I read.

Happy reading…

:) Amanda

PS Today is my birthday (Da na na na na na). I’m gonna have a good time (birthday!)…

Comics review: Sin City

By , September 18, 2014

Frank Miller has become reclusive in recent years. Before going off the grid, he changed comics forever. Jeremy tells us how.

Daredevil Volume 1

Batman: Year One

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Sin City Volume 1: The Hard Goodbye

Sin City Volume 2: A Dame to Kill For

Sin City Volume 3: A Big Fat Kill

Sin City Volume 7: Hell and Back

Sin City (movie version)

music by Black Dice Freegal | Hoopla | Free Music Archive

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