5 Favorite Holiday Films

Keeping on with this theme of random lists of 5 things I evidently have going this week, we move onto… HOLIDAY MOVIES!

This is a countdown of all my Christmas-y & holiday-y faves. I absolutely LOVE this time of year, and part of the reason for that is because it’s acceptable for me to watch these movies pretty much nonstop (and back to back). First up…

5.The Nightmare Before Christmas

What with ditties like, “This is Halloween” and all, you might think this is actually a Halloween movie. YOU WOULD BE WRONG. This movie is Christmas through-and-through, and is so much fun to watch year after year. It’s charming, heartwarming, funny, and just so, so good. Oh, claymation. I miss you.

I’m going to assume that everyone who is anyone has seen it already, but if you’re part of the no one group at the moment, I think you know what needs to be done.

4. Holiday Inn

You might not know that “Holiday Inn” wasn’t always a reference to economic hotel stays. In fact, it was first a 1942 movie starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Yes. Both of them, in one movie. Epic. I’m a sucker for old movies in general (“Singin’ in the Rain” is still my all-time favorite movie!) and this is no exception. This is THE movie where “White Christmas” first originated (well, the song, not the concept), and is such a delight. It’s about an inn that’s only opened on the holidays (go figure), and is chock-full of singing, dancing, and amazing 40s-style writing.

Fair warning, there is an entire part of the movie that centers around the characters wearing blackface (in commemoration of Lincoln’s Birthday). I mean… it was the 40s. So yeah. But that aside, the movie really does hold up!

3. Love, Actually

As if I’d have a holiday movie without “Love, Actually.” I’m sure there aren’t too many of you out there who haven’t seen this delightful Christmas-themed British film of interwoven vignettes. It is THE ORIGINAL (and without fail, the best) of all the subsequent vignette-ridden holiday-themed movies that have come out (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, blah blah blah).

If nothing else, the movie is worth it just to see Rick from The Walking Dead pour his adorabe cue-carded heart out to Keira Knightley. I think it’s safe to assume that this film takes place pre-zombie apocalypse.

2. The Holiday

I’m a sucker for the rom coms, it’s true. And I’m a sucker for Jude Law in… just about anything (though I have to admit, the way he’s styled in Anna Karenina doesn’t do much for me, hahaha). And since the first time I saw this movie, I have loved it.

The basic summary is this: Iris (Kate Winslet) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) are two equally unlucky-in-love women, who trade houses with each other over Christmas in an attempt to shake up/escape their lives. Hilarity, friendship, and romance ensues. OH, and the score is AMAZING. Like, seriously. Hans Zimmer wrote the score (he is also the amazing composer responsible for Pirates of the Caribbean, and other huge blockbuster films) and it is just wonderful. Like, makes you want to fly up out of your seat and go chase after the one you love.

1. ELF!

And yes, to put the cap on this cake of delicious holiday festiveness, we have the piece de resistance: ELF! I don’t care how many people think Will Ferrel is annoying or this movie is over-quoted or whatever. To me, it is perfect. And I will watch and laugh and quote ’til my heart spilleth over!

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it’s got Zooey Deschenel in it (do you guys watch New Girl? UGH I DIE LAUGHING EVERY WEEK). Of course, she is blonde in Elf, which is kind of weird, but she sings, so it makes up for it. (If you’re looking for Christmas music to get into, by the way, the She & Him Christmas album stars Ms. Deschenel’s sultry tones and is really delightful.)

ANYWAY. SO there you have it! My top 5. And if you are like Sean, and find yourself surprised that A Christmas Story wasn’t on this list, I have some potentially shocking news for you. I… don’t actually like A Christmas Story very much. I mean, I can appreciate it from a cultural perspective, and I’ve seen it enough times to get all the references, of course. But, as a movie, I’m just kinda like, ehhhhh? Don’t hate me!

Favorite holiday film: GO!

PS: Final reminder about the Blue Diamond Almonds giveaway! I’m drawing the winners tomorrow AM, so get your last minute entries in now!

The Hunger Games: A Review

Opening weekend has come and gone, having secured $155 million dollars in the bank, and making The Hunger Games the 3rd highest grossing opening weekend of all time (behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and The Dark Knight). I saw the movie again last night (yay!) and I think enough time has passed that those who OMG!DESPERATELY needed to see the film probably have, so I can go into more depth and be a little more critical than I was in my last post about it.

Consider this your official warning for those who hate spoilers and/or those who hate The Hunger Games to stop reading now. (Though if you’re in the latter category, I have to ask, why? Just… why?) If you haven’t read the books yet, but intend to, you might also want to consider coming back to this entry later, since I’m sure there will be a few non-movie spoilers in here, too. I also apologize that this is probably going to be a really long and really wordy post, since, you know, I REALLY love The Hunger Games.

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As you already know, I loved the movie overall, and it was just as good the second time. Turns out, going at 6:30 on a Monday means an almost empty theatre which made it the perfect second-viewing experience. I’ve never been the kind of person to nitpick the little things when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations. In fact, my favorite Harry Potter films were not the ones that followed the books to a T (like the first two), but the ones that took a few artistic and film-making liberties without detracting from the overall storyline (like 3, 4, and 8). As long as all the major plot points and characters are included, who cares that things didn’t happen exactly “the way it was in the book”? It’s only natural that some things will be left out and changed to make these adaptations into good MOVIES, as opposed to just page-by-page retellings of the books (which, granted, I would love, but any non-book-readers would decidedly not).

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The movie is action-packed, well-cast, and extremely well-acted. I’ll start with casting: I thought they really hit the nail on the head with both of the main stars. Jennifer Lawrence made a fantastic, simultaneously vulnerable and stoic, Katniss. I thought she really looked the part, too. (Am I the only one who thinks she looks better as a brunette?) I heard a lot of initial complaints about Katniss’ casting at first: Lawrence is 20 but Katniss is supposed to be 16. Lawrence is too healthy-looking to be Katniss, who is supposed to be petite and kind of waifish. And I swear, if I hear one more thing about how she’s not the right race because she’s described as having “olive skin” in the book, I will shoot myself. I mean, seriously. Of all the things to care about!

Not only is it a non-issue for 20-somethings to play high school age kids these days (hello, ANY show on The CW!) but Katniss is supposed to have a very mature quality to her. After all, she had to essentially take over the role of provider for her family after her father died and her mother subsequently went catatonic for a while. As for the “too healthy looking” comments, yes, she is from a district where food is scarce and her family is poor, but Katnissis a badass hunter, yo! The book makes it very clear that once Katniss started hunting (which is illegal, so it makes sense that it took some time for her to start doing so regularly), her family didn’t starve.

Hopefully all qualms with regard to the casting of Katniss (say that 10x fast!) have been put to rest after seeing Lawrence’s performance anyway. That scene with her and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz, who was a surprising delight!) before she goes into the tube? Chills. Also, as mentioned, tears.

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I also have mad love for the casting of Peeta. I think Josh Hutcherson is adorable, has immense charm, and is still boyish which is exactly what Peeta needs to be. I know that a lot of fans were upset that they didn’t cast more of a stud to play the part of Peeta, but I thought that he did a great job (and the blonde hair was very natural-looking, IMO). I also loved the contrast that you get between him and Gale, who is a giant with rakish, manly handsomeness, and is pretty much a physical opposite of Peeta. Aside from the physical though, I can kind of take-or-leave Liam Hemsworth as Gale. Perhaps it’s because he had so little screen time, or because he’s tainted from being Miley Cyrus’ boytoy but in general, meh.

My overall favorite casting choice was probably Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman though, teeth and everything. That man is truly flawless in every role he plays.

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Moving onto the main plot: As mentioned, I honestly didn’t feel like they left out anything crucial. Of course there were some things that happened in the book that would have been neat to see on the silver screen (the flashback of Katniss and Gale witnessing the redheaded girl being captured by the hovercraft outside District 12, or the muttations having the eyes of the Tributes, as examples), but leaving them out didn’t detract from the story in any way. In fact, not including those kinds of details may have increased overall understanding of what was going on to those that haven’t read the book. One example of this is how in the book, Katniss’ friend Madge was the one to give her the Mockingjay pin, and getting to wear it in the Arena wasn’t a secret, it was allowed. But the way they did it in the movie was still effective even without that exposition.

When talking with Sean (who hasn’t read the book) about whether there were any parts of the movie that were confusing, he said that the only thing for him was the flashback between Katniss and Peeta. In the book, the occurrence of Peeta purposefully burning the bread from his family’s bakery to be able to give to a starving Katniss is extremely significant to both characters. Without the narrative inside her head, however, we have no way of knowing how Katniss feels when Peeta’s name is called at The Reaping. There’s no way to know of the connection that already exists between them, despite them having barely ever spoken. For this reason, I also feel that Peeta’s revelation of being in love with Katniss while he’s being interviewed may have had slightly less impact to a non-book-reader as well (though I still loved it, obviously).

katniss i love you

One issue I’ve heard some people have with the movie is how Katniss’ first couple of days in the Arena don’t play out the same way as originally written. In the book, she nearly dies from dehydration at first, way before the whole forest-fire-plus-fireballs scenario. I totally understand why they chose to change this. Not only would it have slowed down the pace of the movie immensely, but it’s hard to showcase something like the effects of dehydration in a way that A) makes sense but is B) not boring. This change, as well as the general brevity of Peeta & Katniss’ time in the cave, are things that I can support because I felt that they really helped the pacing of the film overall.

Another thing that I’ve been hearing a lot about is critics’ displeasure with how the movies “glosses” over the multitude of deaths that occur. I actively disagree. Yes, this is a PG-13 movie so it’s obviously not as gory as the book describes, but I thought that the portrayals of the Tributes’ deaths were plenty gruesome and disturbing — especially paired with the aftermath shot of the initial bloodbath where the camera pans in on several of the dead Tributes’, including the face of one girl with her eyes still open. *shudder* Cato breaking the neck of the District 3 boy after Katniss blows up their food supplies was also particularly jarring to me (ugh, the sound!).

As I mentioned in my first impressions post, there was really only one part that detracted from the movie, for me. (I should insert that I didn’t really feel this way the second time around, but this is definitely how I felt after the first viewing.) I didn’t feel that the movie gave enough time for Katniss and Rue to forge their bond. The story moves incredibly quickly, from the tracker jacker attack (I imagined tracker jackers MUCH bigger, by the way) to their plan to blow up the Careers’ food, to (SPOILER ALERT!) Rue’s death. While I enjoyed the actresses’ scenes together (I also thought that Rue was extremely well-cast, and looked exactly as I pictured her), they really didn’t spend that much time together. I don’t think that Katniss’ hysteria over her death made as much sense to someone who hadn’t read the book, for that reason.

The book makes it very clear how protective Katniss is of Rue, how she reminds her of Prim and of how she COULD have been Prim, had Katniss not volunteered in the first place. Through her discourse with Rue, we learn so much about how the Districts operate, and why District 11 in particular is so ripe for rebellion. You just don’t get much of that from their short scenes together, unfortunately. Of course, I do think that Gary Ross (the director) did as good a job as he could with the time allotted for their relationship to develop. Goodness knows I cried! One of the most unfortunate effects of the midnight release viewing was that after the death scene (during which there was some intense SOBBING coming from the row behind us), the movie cuts to the riots in District 11 and then back to a hysterically crying Katniss. When they cut back to her, unfortunately the theatre erupted in laughter. I know it was likely because of all the residual emotional tension but still. I was ready to pimpslap some teenage girls, you better BELIEVE.

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Okay, so let’s move onto some of the deviations from the book that I absolutely LOVED. I see movie adaptations of books as an opportunity to explore things that we don’t get to see in novels (especially ones that follow a single character, like The Hunger Games). I really enjoyed getting to see into the Gamemaker’s control room and the tete-a-tetes between President Snow and Seneca Crane. I felt like the latter especially set up President Snow to become the truly heinous villain we see in the 2nd and 3rd book (since we don’t really see him at all in the first book, actually). I also loved the emphasis that the movie placed on the fact that The Hunger Games is a reality TV show. Yes, a totally sick, horrible one, but a show nonetheless. When you’re reading the book, and you’re there IN the Arena with Katniss, you kind of forget that’s what’s going on outside. The sports-like commentary with Caesar Flickerman and Claudius Templesmith really helped this hit home, too.

Showing the District 11 riot is also something that isn’t present in this book, but I was utterly enthralled by it and thought it was a really great addition. Unlike in the books, where you don’t get proof of unrest in the Districts for a long, long time, we were afforded a glimpse of the unhappiness of Panem’s citizens. I felt it was powerful and appropriate.

On a totally superficial note, I pretty much expected that Katniss and Peeta wouldn’t look too banged up at the final confrontation at the Cornucopia. I mean, this is still Hollywood, after all. They can’t get their beautiful stars too uglied up! I also was selfishly kind of happy that they didn’t end up amputating Peeta’s leg. After all, it was barely mentioned afterward in the books anyway! And I like my Peeta WHOLE. Always.

So there you have it! I’m sure I have even more (erratic) thoughts that I could go on about further, but let’s be honest: I’m probably pushing my luck with you lot as it is. Kudos to anyone who actually read through all of this, haha. The bottom line is: I clearly loved it, I think it’s an incredibly provocative book AND movie, and cannot wait until the second installment is released (slated for November 2013!). Happy Hunger Games!

Thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Just want these Hunger Games posts to stop?

The Hunger Games: Initial Reactions

First off, I got less than four hours of sleep last night, so you’ll have to forgive me if it seems like I’m pumped full of tracker jacker venom as I type this.

Secondly, as you already know I went to the midnight premiere of The Hunger Games last night. I had all the best intentions to nap between work and getting to the theatre which, of course, didn’t happen. Instead, I paced around my house, braiding and re-braiding my hair for a few hours.

Team Peeta

Oh, and I also did my Girl on Fire makeup, natch.

We got to Tysons just before 10, which my fellow Tributes Sean and Erin were not super excited about. It ended up being a good call though, because instead of being greeted with a long line of anxious moviegoers, we walked into an essentially empty lobby. At first, I felt really sheepish. Where were the legions of squealing teenagers? After talking to an employee what the deal was, however, we realized that they had been letting people in as they arrived. We walked in to our theatre (okay, okay, so maybe I ran… sprinted… whatever) just in time to snag the last three non-front-section seats that were together.


A good boyfriend supports your dreams… of regressing to your 14-year-old self.

I have a love-hate relationship with midnight premieres. On the one hand, I am totally That Girl, the one who needs to see the movie OMGASAP! But there are always some unfortunate side-effects of choosing to see an incredibly popular movie with a theatre full of puberty-ridden teenagers. Sometimes it’s fun, like pretty much any time before the movie actually starts. But once the opening credits start rolling, I swear, you need to shut your mouth hole or I will punch you in the throat.

Naturally, the most annoying ones in attendance always end up either directly in front of or behind me. I misled myself and got my hopes up last night, because the entire theatre was ahush and enraptured as soon as the movie started. Of course, as soon as Josh Hutcherson made his first appearance I knew I had spoken too soon. (“Heeheeheehee, he’s so cute! LOL OMG SHHHHHH!”). But hey, it’s not like I won’t be seeing it again. (Duh.) I’ll just have to select a pre-noon movie time (while the legions are still curled up under their comforters) next time to avoid as much inappropriately-timed laughter as possible.

Okay, so now for the the down and dirty of it. My overall take on the movie?

So excited for The Hunger Games!

It. Was. Awesome.

I am going to bite my tongue (er, fingers?) and not give an in-depth review of the movie yet, since it technically only opens today and most of you haven’t seen it yet. That said, I do have a lot of thoughts on it and can’t wait to hear what you all think! I will say this much: I was not disappointed, and I support all of the (for the most part, insignificant) deviations and changes from the book. There was really only one part/aspect that gave me a little pause, but I’m already over it. I also don’t think you need to have read the book in order to A) understand what’s happening or B) enjoy it.

UGH. It was so awesome, I can’t even stand it. I cried no less than four separate times, and was essentially in a heightened emotional state for the entire 2.5 hours. Combine that with the aforementioned few hours of sleep that I got (yes, I am at work today), and I am a total zombie right now. But do you even need to ask? OF COURSE it was worth it. 🙂

I CAN HAZ COFFEE AND GOES AGAIN?!

Have a great weekend, everyone! And Happy Hunger Games! Friday!

Girl on Fire

IT HAPPENS TONIGHT.

Midnight release, baby! I’m sure you are not surprised, given my past experience with midnight releases, hehe. I’ve been going on and on about the books and this movie for a while now, and it’s finally here! Initial reviews from Rotten Tomatoes are showing really favorable scores (90%!) which makes me incredibly happy. I AM SO EXCITED. (I may not be the best at tempering my expectations.) Let’s be honest though, even if it was of Twilight-level craptasticness, I’d probably still love it. IT’S THE HUNGER GAMES.

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I’ve got my Teem Peeta shirt at the ready, have big plans for a pre-movie nap after work, and have even crafted a Katniss-inspired makeup look for tonight that would make The Capitol proud!

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I tried really hard to take photos that would allow me to piece together a tutorial for this, but alas, I have no remote for my camera and thus no mad skillz. So forgive the bad lighting and inconsistent shots, haha. Here are the best of my (bad) attempts, nonetheless. You know, just in case anyone else out there is as crazy as I am (unlikely) and wants to try to create something similar for their movie-going experience.

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Makeup Forever Yellow Gold #10, Tangerine #18, and Neon Pink #75; Sephora Aspen Summit #23; Urban Decay Primer Potion; Two Faced Lashgasm mascara; Urban Decay 24/7 Liquid Liner in Perversion.

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Start by priming your eyes and applying the yellow shade over the entire lid using a flat shadow brush.

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Apply the orange shade in an outward “V” shape to the outer corner of your eyelids, winging it out as far as you are comfortable. Blend.

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Using a liner brush, trace a line underneath the shadows from the outer corner of your eye with the pink shade. Duplicate on your lower lash line. Line your upper lid with liquid liner (I did a bad job of this here, haha) and apply mascara to top and bottom lashes (curling is optional).

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Using a brush or the tip of your pinky, apply the shimmery white shade to the inner corner of your eyes, around your tear duct and blend well. Done!

So let’s move past the facts that A) the lighting is pretty lousy, B) it’s really hard to take pictures of yourself with a DSLR, and C) I am clearly le tired in these photos. As you can see, it’s a flame-inspired eye look that I feel Cinna would wholly approve of. If you’re looking for a wilder look, simply layer on more color and let the shadow reach higher up on your brow line. To tone it down, just don’t wing out the shadow past your eyelid for a look that’s still colorful and fun but much more subtle. Ta-da!

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Also, if you haven’t heard this song by my girl T.Swift from the soundtrack, you should give it a listen. It’s soft and eerie and haunting and beautiful. It illuminates a very specific part of the book/movie for me, which I will not reveal (no spoilers!), but just… yes. It’s gorgeous, as is the video for it, so here you go:

You may have to click through to view the video if you’re reading this via email subscription.

AUUUUGH, I AM SO EXCITED. I can’t promise as to whether or not I’ll be conscious enough to write a post in any sort of timely manner tomorrow, so for now I shall simply say: May the odds be EVER in your favor!

So who’s seeing The Hunger Games this weekend? Any fellow midnight-release crazies out there?

I Don’t Wanna Grow Up…

… I’m a Toys R Us Muppets kid!

Last night, I saw The Muppets movie. Yes, again.


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What can I say? With the general spirit of the season, I was just in the mood for something sweet… and a different kind of sweet than my chocolate pie. Which I did have for breakfast this morning. Heh.


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Truth be told, the Muppets as they originally were intended are actually a little before my time. I did grow up on Muppet Babies, however, so I think that’s close enough. And since I’m evidently bipolar and my mood seems to continuously bounce back and forth between “Christmas Cheerful” and “Doldrum Dwelling”, I guess I just needed a little something to help push me firmly into the former category. So why not the Muppets? After all, the movie is complete with singing, dancing, and primary colors. The story of friendship, acceptance, and, above all, love… well, it’s just good for the soul.

I mean, with the drama that I’ve been dealing with for the past month, it’s been a confusing time. That, coupled with family-less Thanksgivings and hospitalized dogs, has me feeling fairly emotionally drained. And it’s making it hard for me not to be skeptical about the upcoming weeks. And I’m not sure if you know this, but I’m not really known for being a pessimist. I’m generally considered to have the lock on that whole happy-go-lucky thing here. You know, that wild, childlike, foolish optimism? That’s my jam.

But between $1800 vet bills and fancy outings to museums and the theatre, I’m guess I’m feeling just a little too grown-up. Not that I’m complaining about the awesome ladydates, of course! It’s just that I’m a little nostalgic. I know it’s ludicrous to complain about being too adult, especially considering I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to be more mature, to grow up faster, to be taken more seriously. I guess I’m just fickle like that. Chalk it up to that pesky second X chromosome.


Women be crazy.

I suppose I’m just trying to find a way to hold onto my own childlike wonder. After all, it is Christmastime, right? Now is not the time for me to be skeptical. And despite my personal life being a little bit, er, muddy, I’m determined not to let it deter my outlook. I don’t want to be jaded. And if it takes a couple of felt puppets to help me out, well, that’s okay by me.


Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.

What is your favorite reminder of your childhood? For me, it’s Muppet Babies, My Little Pony Tales (the sweet 90s revamp, not the original 80s cartoon), and any Ace of Base song.