Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to the movies I go

2013 was a banner year for theater-going for me.  I've been keeping my ticket stubs in a book, and it appears I went to the movie theater 38 times in 2013!  I think that's more than the previous 5 years' theater outings combined!  Four of those were to see operas.  Seven were older movies, fourteen were new movies released in 2013.  And if those don't add up to 38, that's because a few of those movies were seen multiple times.  LOL. 

My favorite viewing in 2013 of a classic film was It's a Wonderful Life, which I saw just last weekend.  I had never seen it before on the big screen, and it was perfect, with a great appreciative audience.  It was also I think the only movie of the entire year that had the volume set at a level that didn't require me to wear my earplugs.  That was soooooo nice, I can't even tell you.  (As opposed to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which required two trips to the lobby just to get them to lower the volume to a point where I didn't have to have my hands over my ears WITH earplugs already in.)

I find it interesting that in both 2012 and 2013, I saw both Raiders of the Lost Ark and Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen.  Wouldn't mind if that became a tradition each year!  Although, I might end up with two Lawrence viewings this year, as it's playing this coming weekend... and in a film print, not a digital.  It's also playing in January, though, so I may just wait for the new year and not try to deal with holiday traffic.

So, what were my favorite new films of 2013?

1. The Lone Ranger (by a long shot)
2. Epic
3. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
4. Jack the Giant Slayer
5. ??

I can't actually pick a fifth favorite movie of the year.  The first four are the ones I bought immediately on DVD when they came out.  I'm not sure I'm going to be buying any of the other movies I saw in 2013, though I will happily watch them whenever they come on.  I liked several movies with about the same level of affection.  They were all very entertaining, but they didn't quite hit my personal sweet spots to push them up into favorites.  Those would include Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Frozen, Planes, The Great Gatsby.  But I can't really pick one above another.  Probably the Hobbit out of those, but I need to see it a second time first.

Least favorite movie of 2013, of course, was Star Trek: Into Darkness

And there is so much to look forward in the next year.  The Phoenix Big Cinemas will be showing The Adventures of Robin Hood in January, and I cannot wait to see that on the big screen.  I'm looking forward to finding out what other classic movies they'll select the rest of the year.

As for new movies coming out next year that I'm aware of, I'm looking forward to the new Captain America movie, Transcendence, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, The Monument's Men, Maleficent, the third Expendables movie, and, of course, the final Hobbit.  I'm sure there will be other films as well.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Favorite Christmas movies

This December is flying by!   I have my tree up and most of my decorations, although it's been raining, so I have not been able to put up the outdoor lights yet.  To celebrate the season, here's a list of my top ten favorite Christmas movies.

1. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) - just a perfect movie, regardless of the season.  The whole cast shines, and I bawl every single time I see this movie.  The Phoenix Big Theaters are showing this one all next weekend, and I'm planning on going.  I haven't seen this on the big screen and I can't wait.

2. We're No Angels (1955) - Hamlette introduce me to this film a few years ago and it became an instant favorite.  I'd never seen it previously because it starred Humphey Bogart and my mom was not a fan, so we tended to not watch anything he was in. This movie is very sweet, and very funny.  Another one where the whole cast is perfect.

3. Donovan's Reef (1963) - This movie is definitely a product of its time, but I still love it.  Mostly I just love Lee Marvin and John Wayne together, and not as enemies.  Their traditional birthday brawl cracks me up.  Lee Marvin's train cracks me up.  I love the Hawaiian on-location scenery.  I love Jack Warden, and I love how funny this movie is.

4. Holiday Inn (1942) - I love Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby in this, love the Irving Berlin music, with, of course, the classic "White Christmas" song.

5. Babes in Toyland (1934) - one of the movies I grew up with.  One of my favorite Laurel and Hardy full length films.  Really love Bo Peep and Tom-Tom.  They're so cute together.  And I love the wooden soldiers and how they save the day.  The bogeymen were quite scary when I was young.  Still find them a bit creepy!  We used to make pee wees and smack them around.  They never came back though, like Laurel's does.  Hmph.

6. The Bishop's Wife (1947) - Is there anything more wonderful and Christmas-y then Cary Grant's angel decorating that Christmas tree?  Always one of my favorite Christmas images, and every Christmas, I can't wait to see this movie, just to get to that moment.  This is also one of my favorite Cary Grant movies.

7. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - I saw this movie for the first time last year, and really loved it.  Loved Maureen O'Hara and John Payne, and loved how the trial turned out.

8. White Christmas (1954) - I love this one mostly for the ending, which makes me cry every time.  Great cast here, too.

9. The Polar Express (2004) - this one is on the list more from familiarity than anything else.  Have seen this one a jillion and one time because my nephew loves it, and it's grown on me.  It's got some great parts, and some weird parts, but ends really well.  Watching my nephew sing along with the little girl in one part makes this movie special to me.

10. Joyeux Noel (2005) - the WWI drama of the true story of the truce on Christmas.  A wonderful movie, so touching and beautiful, even more so because it is depicting real events.  One of the few WWI movies that doesn't leave me plunged into despair at the end. 

And no Christmas movie list would be complete without a bonus mention of my favorite non-Christmas movie set during Christmas:  Die Hard.  One of the best action movies ever, and the Christmas setting is integral to the plot and to some of the best parts of the film.  I tend to watch it at least once every Christmas season.  "Oh the weather outside is frightful... da-de-da, de-da delightful."

DVD giveaway at Hamlette's Solioquy

In honor of Pearl Harbor day today, Hamlette is offering a copy of "The Best Years of Our Lives" on her blog.  Go here to enter.  The drawing is open until Dec 13th.