Five Favorite Wedding Movies

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and ALL THE PEOPLE who apparently got engaged yesterday … thanks, Facebook, for reminding me that I am still single AF … I thought it was time to explore another trope of romance cinematography: weddings. Whether it’s the central focus of the plot or just a sweet scene in a saccharine will-they-or-won’t-they story, they’re abundant and extravagant across the board, cropping up in a vast number of films. When I started to compile a list, I realized how prevalent they are in quite a few of my favorite movies. Here’s just a small handful (and some honorable mentions). Enjoy!

1. Mamma Mia! (2008)

Mamma

Just reading the title gets the song stuck in my head. (“Just one look and I can hear a bell ring!”) As a huge theater nerd, I love all the stage-to-film Broadway musical adaptations. While Hairspray and Rent are very high on my list, this one is my absolute favorite. It was our favorite show when we saw it our first time back in 2009 and remained our favorite when we saw it again, just this past summer before it ended its 14-year run on the Great White Way. ABBA’s upbeat songs set the tone for a story of a young bride-to-be searching for her father against a stunning Greek backdrop, which ensured a beautiful cinematic version. Then throw Meryl Streep in as your lead—SOLD. I love this movie. It’s just so much fun and I always have an urge to watch it before I go on vacation to somewhere tropical.

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16 Movies I Want To See In 2016

A new year means a new batch of film experiences for movie fanatics like myself. Who will be the new Oscar players? The new summer blockbusters? The new book adaptations? What screwball comedies are going to make us laugh? What dramas will make us cry? What actor will have their moment, the one that makes you acknowledge that you’ll be paying much closer attention to their work from now on? I love movies, obviously, and I especially love that there are always so many to choose from. This list is bound to grow as buzz from film festivals and award season starts to spread. (Plus, there’s always the half an hour of trailers that play each time you visit a theater.) Pass the popcorn, another year of going to the movies has begun!

1. THE 5th WAVE | 1/22/16

The trailer caught my interest, since I’m into YA sci-fi fiction being turned into movies lately. I also like disaster flicks. It’s been a while since we’ve seen what Chloe Grace Moretz can do in a starring role, so I’ll give it a shot.

2. DEADPOOL | 2/12/16

DeadpoolI love Ryan Reynolds—particularly sarcastic badass Ryan Reynolds. I know nothing about the Marvel character, just that I have a few friends who are insanely excited for this and the trailer cracked me up. I’ve warmed up to Marvel movies in recent years and this one looks far more promising than, let’s say, Ant-Man did.

3. ZOOTOPIA | 3/4/16

It’s a Disney animated movie about animals. If you know me at all, you know why I want to go. Just watch the trailer. So many sloths!

4. The Divergent Series: ALLEGIANT | 3/18/16

AllegiantDivergent is right behind The Hunger Games on my list of favorite YA dystopia literature-turned-film. Shailene Woodley is doing a great job of bringing believability to Tris’ heroism and the all-star cast just keeps getting bigger and better. The first book was phenomenal and the first movie followed it perfectly. But the books lost their way after that and the screenwriters did a great job of keeping the plot on track for the big screen. Insurgent made much more sense on film than on the page, so I’m confident they’ll do the same for the final installments.

5. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 | 3/25/16

GreekI love the original so much, I practically have it memorized. So now that it’s their daughter’s turn to get married, it seems only natural to check in on Ian and Toula and see how they (and the whole big fat Greek family) handle the situation. I can’t wait. This is one sequel I won’t mind at all.

6. THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR | 4/22/16

This prequel is going to take what worked in the first film (bold cinematography, Charlize Theron’s face, Chris Hemsworth’s everything), remove what didn’t (Kristen Stewart and her new favorite director), and add some beautiful, talented women (Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain). Mix that all together and see what happens? We’re already off to a promising start. Continue reading

Five Favorite Movies Starring … Animals!

The Lion King (1994)

The Lion KingThis gradually became one of my favorite Disney movies as I got older. I never used to consider it one of the core faves (which include The Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, and Aladdin), but I have a new appreciation for it now. It was one of the few films that did sequels effectively—Simba’s Pride is pretty solid with a couple goosebump-inducing tunes. I’d have to say it has some of the most breath-taking animation of the Disney world, from the dazzling African landscapes to the herds of wild animals. And what a powerful message! I’m 27 years old and I still cannot make it through Mufasa’s death scene without shedding at least one rolling tear. (I mean, come on, can ANYONE watch that scene?) What has propelled my affection for it over the past couple years is my experience seeing the live theater adaptation on Broadway in the summer of 2012. I love stage shows, but this one knocked everything I’ve ever seen (and there have been MANY) straight out of the park. You don’t think they can orchestrate a stampede on a small stage? Oh, but they can. It was phenomenal. And the music was just amplified; I had so many chills for the entire three hours. It was infused with tribal influences and had some truly wonderful voices bringing the words to life. If you ever get the chance, go see it! Continue reading

Vacation Hangover Movies: Cruise Edition

The post-vacation transition from relaxation back to the rise-and-grind routine is usually a pretty tough one. At press time, it’s my first day “back to work” (working from home is such a godsend) after a 10-day cruise throughout the Caribbean. I boarded Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas with my family on Thursday, June 18 and spent the next week exploring: King’s Wharf, Bermuda … Philipsburg, St. MaartenSan Juan, Puerto Rico … and Labadee, Haiti. We kayaked. We snorkeled. We saw the sights. We swam. We sweat buckets on beautiful beaches. All while living on a floating oasis that offered an ice-skating rink, full-sized boxing ring, rock-climbing wall, surfing simulator, mini golf course, three pools, five hot tubs, and mouth-watering meal options that included a full daily buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a coffee café, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor, cupcake shop, Johnny Rockets, sushi bar, 24-hour pizza, and a five-star formal dining room for dinner. (I’m actually working from home because I can’t see my feet anymore; I just roll from room to room.)

Needless to say, it was a wonderful escape … but it’s always nice to come home. I tend to return to reality with overwhelming wanderlust stowed away in my suitcase, so to help my travel hangover subside, I usually watch some movies that help me ease back into the real world. When I go to Disney World, I unwind with Disney movies. When I visit an island, movies that take place in Hawaii or Greece, usually. So since I just got off a 13-deck luxury ocean liner, I plan to indulge in some of my favorite flicks that take place on (or in) the high seas, such as:

Pirates of the Caribbean | 2003

PiratesBefore Johnny Depp became Disney’s cash cow and Tim Burton’s play thing, he was a respected actor who chose his roles very carefully. The tip of the slippery slope he’s found himself on in recent years (in my opinion) was his very first portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow—which isn’t to say that I don’t love those movies, because I do, very much so. I just don’t like what it did to his career and that they couldn’t stop at just one excellent film. Regardless, the first is the best, as is usually the case, and I absolutely love watching it when I want to get into a nautical mood. Based on the popular Walt Disney World attraction, it’s a highly quotable swashbuckling adventure that I’ve practically memorized. Drink up, me hearties, yo ho! Continue reading

2015 Summer Movie Preview, Part 2

Eh, what the heck. Here’s five more.

Poltergeist | May 22

PoltergeistI find re-boots to be really frustrating, especially when I’m already a big fan of the original. I still remember the very first time I saw the Spielberg-written and produced 1982 fright flick; I was far too young and just flipping channels at my grandparents’ house. It was already to the part where Diane goes after Carol Anne and the huge hunk of skeleton head snarls at Steve. I later watched the full film a couple years later with my dad and sis, who couldn’t have been older than six at the time. She didn’t even flinch at the scene where that guy peeled his face off, but I couldn’t sleep that night. It’s since become one of my favorite scary movies, so I’m incredibly skeptical as to what an attempted remake can do to the integrity of the original, which already has a real life spooky story to back it up. But the trailer does make it look pretty terrifying and even though I NEVER see horror movies in the theater, I feel like this will be one that I just have to bring myself to sit through.

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Top Tearjerkers

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I don’t mind a good cry every once in a while. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, if I’m not out with my girlfriends at a club, I’m in bed with a movie that makes me feel like my heart may burst out of my chest (see my prior PSAs). But you know, there are a lot of excellent emotional films that don’t revolve entirely around love. So I threw together a few of my top tearjerkers, because I like to torture myself by watching gut-wrenching YouTube clips during the day. My list is pretty short, so add your own in the comments!

Toy Story 3 | 2010

SOB

Disney/Pixar comes into your childhood adulthood like a wrecking ball (minus the naked Miley Cyrus on top AKA Disney gone wrong). It’s bad enough Andy’s going off to college (are we really that old already?) but then the toys get accidentally dropped at a daycare made of nightmares and boogers, their lives are turned upside-down by a homicidal teddy bear, and they wind up in an incinerator and they’re trying to get out and they realize it’s useless and they all commit to the fact that they’re about to die and they hold hands to face it together andWHAT THE HELL, DISNEY. Pretend you don’t already have tears in your eyes over toy deaths (can they even feel pain?), because they get rescued (whew), but you don’t realize the conclusion of this film is a one-two-punch until Andy brings his pals over to Bonnie’s house and finds Woody at the bottom of the box. He never meant to give away his best bud, but he gives a heart-wrenching speech about what makes Woody special: “He’ll never give up on you, ever. He’ll be there for you, no matter what.” Kids will take the speech at face value, but adultsespecially those who graduated college a month before this film’s release and have been thrust into the real world and are quickly realizing that it’s time to leave childhood behindwill take it for the lovely metaphor it is and may or may not find themselves ugly crying in a room full of strangers. So long, partner. ❤  Continue reading

More V-Day Clichés

I’ve been Single a while, but I don’t bow my head in shame when I say the word like most girls do. It’s a choice I made quite a few years ago to not tie myself down when I am undoubtedly still slugging through the best years of my life. I love knowing that I can pick up and move to a new state if an opportunity presents itself without worrying about who I’ll be leaving behind. I can go where I want when I want without having to check in with someone. It’s either a selfish or smart way to live. I choose to think it’s smart.

In college, my friends and I were too wrapped up in throwing epic parties to even bother finding significant others. This suited us just fine. I love looking back at my college days knowing I made the absolute most of those four short years without someone holding me back from doing whatever my heart desired in any given moment. It was liberating, and when it finally came to an end, I had a sinking suspicion that the career I was trying so desperately to launch would ultimately be my top priority over finding a date for Friday nights. Online dating? Noooo, thank you. The few horrifying hits I got from my first foray into that nightmare turned me off the whole thing pretty strongly, even though I have friends who have found boyfriends, fiancés, and husbands on sites like OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, Match, eHarmony, etc. I still have time. I’m not worried.

Anyway, whether single by choice or by circumstance, V-Day is still a tough one for us single ladies to grin and bear each year. (My fellow single girlfriends and I are planning a night out this year—tearing up a dance floor, drink in hand, sounds like the perfect escape from the sight of the chocolate boxes and red roses that pop up everywhere.) I expressed my disdain for this holiday last year with a look at three of my favorite romance movies to drown my sorrows in—and since my outlook hasn’t changed in the past 365 days, here we go again with three more movies. Continue reading