Tag Archives: great movies

What We Learn From Our Favorite Stories

For years, my all-time favorite movie was Sleepless in Seattle. Even when my screenwriting teacher in a professional program gave me the stink-eye, I wouldn’t change my answer. I have watched that movie so many times, I’m surprised the DVD hasn’t worn out. (I’ve owned it so long, I used to have the VHS tape, too!)

Then Richard Curtis wrote some big blockbuster romantic comedies that I love. Love Actually and Notting Hill are my two favorites. Even my husband, John, likes all three of these movies because they are smart and funny and have great lines of dialogue that you can’t help quoting later.

I love these movies so much that I’ll even watch them on Netflix, even though we own all three on DVD. And oh, Netflix, how I love you. Let me count the ways. That’s where I first watched The Decoy Bride with the hilarious Kelly Macdonald and the awesome David Tennant. I’ve watched that movie sooo many times! I bought it on Blu-ray because I wanted to make sure I could watch it in high quality forever. But then I had to buy it on DVD, too, because that’s the only way I could watch it on my computer. I’ve never done that before, buying more than one copy!

And what’s my go-to movie for sick days? The Family Man. Tea Leoni and Nicolas Cage are absolutely adorable, and those kids! And the best friends! The movie makes me laugh every single time I watch it.

I love romantic comedies. I love reading them, watching them, writing them, talking about them. Like I said, they’re my medicine for bad days. And lately, I’ve had truckloads of bad days.

Thank God for romantic comedy writers because I found some new medicine two weeks ago. I’d seen on Facebook that my friend Sean Gaffney (same screenwriting program I was in) had written a new movie called In-Lawfully Yours. I guess I’m a bad friend for not paying very good attention because I thought it was coming out in the theater this fall, but it came out on Netflix!

I was scrolling through the New Releases and saw the title and thought, how funny, Sean’s movie has that same title. And hey, the movie poster looks kind of – hey, that is Sean’s movie! LOL! I was having a bad day so I watched it during lunch. It is soooo adorable! The hero and heroine really played off each other so well! And the characters seemed like people I’d probably know, people I’d want to be friends with if they were real, not like pretend movie characters.

I felt so much better after watching it, just like medicine. I wanted to watch it again right away, but I controlled myself. I waited until lunch the following day. Aw, wow, it was just as funny the second time. It had been a stressful week, so I turned it on again at lunch for the third day in a row. Still had me laughing and smiling! If you like rom-com’s, you’ve got to watch this movie!

In addition to feeling better, watching a movie several times helps you consciously and unconsciously work through what you like about it, and why. You start thinking about what you don’t like and why. And if you’re a writer, you start going over your own characters and asking yourself how they can become better after seeing some other amazing fictional characters on screen or in a book.

One thing about the writing in In-Lawfully Yours. If they hadn’t gotten the right actors, it could’ve been a little dopey. That’s the risk with humor – it’s got to be the right kind, in the right amount, for the right audience. Of course, that’s the risk with movies in general. Wrong actor, bad movie. Right group of actors, amazing movie!

So when I watched this movie for the third time in three days, I had to stop thinking about these actors who had such good chemistry, and I had to think about the characters I write who will ever and only play out in people’s heads. And that’s when I remembered…

When I wrote Little Miss Lovesick, the first several drafts were aimed at Silhouette Romance (kind of like Harlequin, if you don’t know) and the humor was mild, the kind of humor they’d already published. But when I took a risk and wrote the kind of humor that had me laughing as I was typing, a whole new level of fun story developed! It was no longer the kind of book Silhouette or Harlequin or several other houses were buying. (That was a problem for me until self-publishing came along.)

But the readers who enjoyed Little Miss Lovesick really loved it! My risk paid off and I found my writer voice. Since then I’ve had to push myself to get to the edge of my comfort zone and see what else I can do. I can’t let fear or complacency take hold because I’ll lose what it turns out my readers want. (Plus, it’ll be way less fun for me!)

What stories do you read or watch over and over again? What are you learning from them? Are you letting those favorites push you to become a better writer? Give it some thought.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go watch In-Lawfully Yours again. Thanks for writing such a fun story, Sean! And thanks, Chelsey Crisp and Joe Williamson, for making me laugh with and fall in love with a new favorite couple! I’m such a happy Kitty!  😀

THE INTERN – Two Thumbs Up and a High Five

The Intern movie posterYou may remember from this post that I’ve been waiting over four months to see The Intern, ever since I first saw the trailer. John thought it looked funny, too, so we went to see it yesterday. (It opened Friday.) It was SO GOOD!!!!!

Starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, 70-year-old Ben has decided retirement is too boring so he applies for a job as a senior intern at a super-successful Internet fashion startup company owned and run by Jules, a woman trying to balance everything in her life with limited success. The differences between the older characters and younger characters felt realistic, yet sweet and funny as they all tried to learn from each other.

The Intern movie still photoWriter/director Nancy Meyers had so many opportunities to follow other filmmakers who try to make their characters believable by making them “raw” or “realistic” – and she didn’t take them. This movie will not leave you with a bad taste in your mouth at the end. It was so refreshing to see people making bad choices and then recovering from them rather then wallowing or taking the easy or selfish way out.

Everything about this film is smart and funny and clean. It’s not a romantic comedy, of course, but it’s a great comedy with some unexpected romantic elements. (Hint, gorgeous Rene Russo is older than she looks, and her and De Niro’s characters make you feel like getting older is still going to be fun.) The audience in our theater laughed a lot, and there is a heightened joy when you share laughter, so that made the whole experience even better.

I wanted to see The Intern again as soon as the credits started to roll. Like Saturday’s review of The Age of Adaline, this one is 5 stars, two thumbs up, and a high five. 😀 I am absolutely buying both of these movies on DVD! LOL! Please, give yourself a relaxing break and see them – and take a friend!

The Age of Adaline – A Must-See Movie

Age of AdalineI wish I could remember who told me to see The Age of Adaline – so I could hug her! I’ve been busy so I don’t remember watching the trailer when the movie came out in April. Also, reading the description on IMDB made me think this was some slow, boring, “literary” type of movie, which I’m rarely in the mood for.

But the other night John was out with his friends and I walked by a Redbox at the grocery store and didn’t see anything else that I wanted, so I said, why not?

I am so glad I rented this movie!!!!

Actually, at the moment it ended, I was NOT glad I rented it because I wanted to watch it again! 😀 But it’s on my Christmas list now. 😉

The best part was that there was no “Nicholas Sparks moment.” A couple times I had to brace myself thinking, oh great, this is probably the scene where someone dies and the whole thing is ruined. But it didn’t happen! And a couple times I braced myself thinking, oh great, this is probably where so-and-so is a royal jerk and ruins the tone of the whole movie.

But it didn’t happen!

In fact, I really enjoyed every character, and all the aspects of the plot line. It was a really wonderful story, and well done in every way. The only thing that took me out of the enjoyment of the moment was me worrying that the writers were about to ruin it. In fact, I figured this must be based on a book since it was so well done and that seems to be how we get some of the movies I’ve enjoyed the most the last few years. But when I looked it up, no, just two great screenwriters. I want to hug them too!  😀

If you have a chance, definitely see The Age of Adaline! It’s absolutely 5 stars to me. I can’t wait to see it again the second time, this time without worrying something is going to ruin it. I’m going to love it even more. 🙂

More 2015 Summer Movies I Can’t Wait to See

Here’s another edition of “More Movies I Can’t Wait to See!” Haha! I hope you’re enjoying watching all these trailers and planning your movie-watching calendars. (I am!) Click on the movie title to see the trailer. Enjoy!

PixelsPixels – opened July 24
This movie looks so ridiculous and hysterical! John and I laugh when we see the trailer every single time! A whole new take on alien invasion. This is going to be so fun!

Fantastic Four – opens August 7
I wasn’t a big fan of the last Fantastic Four movie, and I have read very few of the comics, but this trailer makes me want to see this version. Plus, I haven’t seen a Marvel movie I haven’t like in a long time, so I’m kind of an automatic buy with them right now. 🙂

Ricki and the Flash – opens August 7
You know how some trailers really make you want to see a movie and when you do, you realize the movie is nothing like the trailer? Well, we’ll see. It’s got Meryl Streep in it, so that’s a big plus. And there’s a great line: “It doesn’t matter if your kids love you. It’s not their job to love you. It’s your job to love them.” For now, this trailer has got me interested. Of course, I know I’ll be seeing it alone. Not a John kind of film! Haha!

ShauntheSheepShaun the Sheep – animated – opens August 7
I was practically jumping up and down in my chair when I first saw this trailer! I didn’t realize they were making a movie. Our friends in Australia got us hooked on Shaun the Sheep. The cartoons are hysterical. Same people who did Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run. It’s gonna be great!

The Intern – opens September 25
I first saw this trailer accidentally back in mid-May, and I’ve been all but foaming at the mouth waiting for it to come out! Robert de Niro is the intern and Anne Hathaway is the boss! How’s that for a turn-around? Watch the trailer. You’re going to want to see this one! I’ve already got chick-flick plans with a girlfriend – woo-hooo!!

 

2015 Summer Movies I Can’t Wait to See

I already told you about a lot of the movies I’ve seen this year, but when I was watching Tomorrowland, there were so many trailers for more movies I want to see! Some look amazing and I know I’m going to love them. Others have piqued my curiosity enough to want to try to see them if I can.

Click the movie title to see the trailer.

AlohaAloha – Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone
I couldn’t decide if it was the Emma Stone storyline or the Rachel McAdams storyline that made me want to see this movie more. But I decided to use some of my birthday gift-cards-for-chick-flicks to see it. It was definitely a Cameron Crowe film – his stories have a unique touch all his – so it wasn’t really a romantic comedy. But I enjoyed it. Good story, great acting.

Poltergeist – Sam Rockwell
I’ll just start by saying, John will see anything with Sam Rockwell in it, and I’m right there with him. We had to see this movie. Unfortunately, we got busy with a bunch of things when it came out and when we finally had a minute to see it, it was out of the theaters. We’ll either catch it at the discount cinemas, or at Redbox. Bummer. I would’ve loved to get scared in the movie theater!

Entourage – based on the HBO TV series
I love Jeremy Piven. That’s part of why I let John convince me to watch the TV show with him years ago. But then all the other characters were so weird and funny and interesting that I just kept watching. Since we watched the entire six seasons of the show, how could we not want to see the movie? Again, it was playing for a few weeks, we were busy, we finally decided to see it the next Saturday, and it was already gone. Argh! So…we’ll have to see it at the discount cinema or via Redbox.

Jurassic World – Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard
I’ve been dying to see this since the first trailer!! Luckily, the timing was right and we saw it opening weekend. Awesome!! If you liked the first Jurassic Park, I think you’ll like this one. I heard it was written as if it were a sequel to that one. (I wanted to watch Jurassic Park again before seeing Jurassic World, but I couldn’t find it for rent.) Seriously, if you haven’t seen this yet, see it! (And if you’re not interested in dinosaurs, but you loved Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy, see it!)

InsideOutInside Out – a Pixar film – need I say more? 😉
Another trailer that has me laughing every time I see it! There’s always a little fear that I’m going to expect more from a movie than it can give due to an excellent trailer, so I tried to keep my expectations moderate. But when we saw it, we both laughed out loud a lot. It was just plain lots of fun! Of course, for me in particular, I’ve found the concept funny from the beginning because it’s like my book, Little Miss Lovesick, with all those voices that are given their own names! Hahaha!!

Max – Thomas Haden Church
I’d never heard of this film, but the trailer played before Tomorrowland and it looked really heartwarming – and heart-wrenching. It’s about a dog who worked with a Marine and the Marine died. And then…well, watch the trailer. It looks great, doesn’t it? Much as I’d love to see this in the theater, I can’t go to the movies all the time, right? Haha! So I’ll probably have to rent it sometime. Alone. Because I’m sure it will make me cry. 😉

Terminator Genisys – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke
I loved Terminator 1 and 2. I had mixed feelings about the others, but I like the idea so I watched all of them in the theater. This one looks especially good! Here’s hoping! Because I am definitely going to see this one. I just have to find the time!!

Minionsso many great actors doing voices in this one!
All I can say is – watch the trailer! This is going to be one funny film. I can’t wait! And since it’s a prequel, we can then all go home and watch Despicable Me 1 and 2! (Again with trying to think of what day we can go. We need a weekend to just camp out at the theater!)

Ant-ManAnt-Manopens tomorrow!!!! Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas
I’ve been waiting months for this movie to come out! I only know a little about Ant-Man from reading The Ultimates, but Paul Rudd plays him in a way that is entertaining to me at least. Looks like another Marvel success! I can’t wait!

I’ll post another summer movie list with more these-look-awesome films for your consideration. Until then, enjoy all the great flicks! 😀

The First Great Movies of 2015

I love movies! I love any kind of good story, presented in whatever creative form the artist comes up with. Movies are one of the forms I like a lot. If you don’t realize what good stuff is out there, here is a list of the stories that have caught my attention recently.

These are the ones I’ve either seen or want to see. I’ll post again in a week or two about more upcoming summer movies. Click the title to see the trailer. I hope you find some good stories you’ll enjoy!

Out in Some Theaters, Older but Current

BigHero6Big Hero 6 – Animated – possibly in some second run theaters, already on DVD and in Redbox
I loved this movie! Strong family values, power of friendship, good triumphs over evil, kid power, etc. So funny!! Loved the story!

Kingsman: The Secret Service – Colin Firth – possibly in some second run theaters, already on DVD and in Redbox
I enjoyed this movie. It entertained me, which is exactly why I went. The characters played by Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson made me laugh. Mark Strong did a great job as the main character. It was just plain fun!

Insurgent – part two in the Divergent series – possibly in some second run theaters, on DVD August 4, 2015
I went with friends, which is part of the fun, and I enjoyed it. But I’d recently watched Divergent again (which I loved!) so I could be sure not to forget anything. Unfortunately, several times I thought, “I liked Divergent better.” Still, it was entertaining, and told me more of the story.

CinderellaCinderella – possibly in some regular theaters, probably in second run theaters
Best two hours of my movie-watching life so far this year! (At the time it came out.) I saw this one alone and completely forgot myself, the other viewers, the theater – I was so immersed in the movie, I was aware of nothing else! It wasn’t until I left the theater that I realized my cheeks ached from smiling for two hours straight! See it!!

Ex Machina – in some regular theaters, probably in second run theaters soon
Really strange story that kept us guessing the whole time. I didn’t know much about it (which I think helps enjoy a movie more for what it is, not what it’s advertised to be), and I kept getting surprised by what was happening, which led to great enjoyment. Talked about “what if” afterward with John, which is always a good sign that we were really engaged with the story.

Out Now in Most Theaters

Home – animated
This just looks fun! I haven’t seen it but I want to. I mean, come on, Jim Parsons – who plays Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory – plays the alien! What’s not to like?

Avengers Age of UltronAvengers: Age of Ultron – standard, 3D, IMAX
BEST MOVIE THIS YEAR!! John and I enjoyed this movie so much we saw it twice the first week it opened! As I implied above about Insurgent, it’s difficult to make a sequel as good as the original. But this movie rocks!! Of course, since I write superhero books that have a strong family focus, I loved the family scenes. But the action and the dialogue were just about perfect!

Mad Max: Fury Road – standard, 3D, IMAX
We pulled out our three Mad Max DVDs to watch before going to see Fury Road, but we bought them when we lived in Australia, and our International DVD player is packed. Darn! So we watched the new one without having the background fresh in our minds. And it was great! Lots of action, lots of the same kind of fighting I remember from the first three (meaning it’s too violent for some of you), and some great scenes of sacrifice for the greater good. I enjoyed it.

TomorrowlandTomorrowland – standard, IMAX
I expected a fun Disney movie when I saw the trailer for this. You know, like Pirates of the Caribbean, where it’s just something fun based on a ride. But by the time the movie was over, I was inspired to go make the world a better place, to believe we can make it a better place, even one person at a time. Go see this movie! Take your kids! Get inspired! Change the world!