Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Kind of Movie - A List of Great, Off-Beat Films

So, Mark and I just got back from a rendezvous date at our little independent theater in town. It is one of our very favorite spots to visit.

We caught their matinée of a simple, funny, poignant coming-of-age movie entitled, "The Way Way Back." This movie boasts an impressive cast - Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Amanda Peet, Liam James, and more.

Photo from IMDb.com
If you haven't seen this movie, hurry up and go see it. But don't look in your big chain cinemas that only show Hollywood blockbusters and other boring, predictable, formulaic movies. Go find a local indie theater and settle in for a movie that will make you laugh, cry, and move you. The entire cast of this show will have you spellbound in every, single scene. And, being that the name of this post is "My Kind of Movie," don't expect any grand adventure or huge plot. I like simple and quirky. And when two directors can take "simple" and deliver big through cast, music, and writing, you have something I would rate 10/10 stars.

It's a spare, unassuming story set in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts (think clambakes, lobster bakes, bike rides, watermelon, and beaches), where a young, shy teenage boy named Duncan (James) goes on vacation with his mother (Collette) and her overbearing boyfriend (Carell). Struggling to fit in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in funny and easy-going Owen (Rockwell), manager of the Water Wizz water park.

When the credits started rolling, I swallowed my tears, leaned over to Mark, and said, "I loved it." This is most definitely my kind of movie.

What other movies would make my list of quirky, fun, offbeat, simple, mesmerizing, poignant, entrancing films? You know, uncomplicated story, great cast, excellent writing, good music, and heartwarming, captivating simplicity? (Bonus if it has an ambiguous ending)! Well, here's a sampling (all pictures are from IMDb.com, where most, if not all, of these movies rate more than 7 stars):

(500) Days of Summer
A quirky, offbeat film starring Zooey Deschanel (Summer) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
She doesn't believe true love exists; he falls for her.
What's not to love?

I'm a big fan of foreign films, too. Many of them fit the description I've written above.
This is one of them. A simple, sweet story about a young girl in Paris. Enough said.

Barney's Version
I love Paul Giamatti. He is excellent in everything I've seen him in.
This movie is no exception. It's all about Barney.
 I'll say no more, because I don't want to give away the experience.
 And that is what these kinds of movies are about - you shouldn't just "see a movie."
 You should have an experience.

How? How? How has this movie not garnered far more press than it did?
 Directed by Rob Reiner (hello!), this film tells the story of Juli Baker, who loves trees and wants to kiss Bryce Loski. She's been smitten with him since the second grade. Then in eighth grade, everything changes. Bryce begins to look at Juli differently, but does she feel the same? Beautifully told from two different perspectives, this movie will have your heart. GO. SEE. IT. This is one not to be missed. I can't oversell it. Watch, no . . . experience it.

 It's Kind of a Funny Story
 A story of a depressed teen's new start that comes after he checks himself into an adult psychiatric hospital.
Lauren Graham is in it, too. Sweet story, great flick.

 Like Crazy
In "Like Crazy," Anna, a British college student, falls in love with an American student, Jacob. When graduation approaches, Anna decides to stay, in direct violation to the terms of her student visa. After a visit home, she is unable to return to the United States. Fighting customs and immigration battles, they must decide if their relationship is worth the distance and the hardship. Another great foreign film.

 Little Miss Sunshine
A great ensemble cast tells the story of a highly dysfunctional family on a road trip to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant. Outrageously funny. Seriously, you may fall off your chair. Terrific payoff in this movie.

 Moonrise Kingdom
 Seriously, aren't these posters the best?!? With these kinds of movies, even the posters are creative and different and telling. They fit. They're quirky. Like the films they profess. Like this one. Moonrise Kingdom - it doesn't get quirkier than this. Set in the 1960s, a local search party looks for a pair of young lovers who have fled their small New England town. Starring Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and more. It's vintage; it's quirky; it's off-beat.

 This foreign film is like a wonderful, extended music video of a love song. It tells the story of a busker and an immigrant and their week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs together - the songs that tell their story. It's beautiful and features the hauntingly lyrical "Falling Slowly."

Win Win
Another great Paul Giamatti film. In this one, he plays Mike Flaherty, a disillusioned attorney who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach. He meets a star athlete through some questionable business dealings while desperately trying to support his family. Just as he is about to get a double payday, the boy's mother shows up fresh out of rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything.

I could go on and on. Here are a few more movies I would add to this list:

High Fidelity - John Cusack, my favorite Hollywood heartthrob, stars in this one, so that should be reason enough to watch it. It is based on a Nick Hornby book, so there's another reason to watch it. This hilarious movie follows the 'mid-life' crisis of Rob, a thirty-something record-store owner and compulsive list maker, who, together with his off-beat clerks, tries to navigate and explain the grown-up world of love and relationships. Rob recounts his five top break-ups, wondering if pop music is the reason for them all. 

Please Give - I'm a big fan of all of Nicole Holofcener's films. This one is no exception. In fact, it may be my favorite. It stars Catherine Keener (she is in almost all of Holofcener's films) and is the story of a husband and wife in New York City, their cranky elderly neighbor woman, and her two granddaughters. Another movie that is most certainly an experience.

Friends with Money - Another Holofcener film. This one stars Jennifer Aniston playing Olivia, a woman who quits her lucrative job and then finds herself unsure about her future and her relationships with her successful, wealthy friends. (I'm excited that Nicole Holofcener has another film coming out this fall - "Enough Said" - starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini  - that also looks excellent). Her movies have a great feel to them.

Garden State - Written and directed by Zach Braff, this movie tells the story of a man named Andrew who returns home for his mother's funeral after ten years of being estranged from his controlling, psychiatrist father. His father has always made Andrew feel that his mother's wheelchair-bound life was his fault. Now Andrew tries to get off of the meds his father pushed on him and see life through his own eyes, all while starting a relationship with a girl who has problems of her own. Another quirky, haunting, cinematic experience.

Sideways - Yep, it's another Paul Giamatti movie. This one tells the story of two middle-aged men with not much to show but disappointment. They set off on a week-long road trip through California's wine country, just as one of them is about to get married. This film highlights the art of winery.

Sunshine Cleaning - Crazy storyline in this one starring Amy Adams (who I think looks A TON like Jenna Fischer from The Office), Emily Blunt, and Alan Arkin. A young mom must raise money for tuition to send her young son to private school, so she starts unusual business -- a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service. Need I say more?!

Jeff, Who Lives At Home - This quirky film stars Jason Segel (who we love) and Ed Helms. Jeff is 30 years old, unemployed, and lives in his mom's basement. He is looking for signs telling him what to do with his life. He answers a wrong-number call for "Kevin." Convinced that this is a sign, he sets off following all "Kevin" signs he sees. Jeff's brother, Pat, upsets his wife by buying a Porsche they cannot afford. Pat and Jeff together see Pat's wife with another man. And at her job, Jeff and Pat's mom (Susan Sarandon) receives e-mails from a secret admirer and tries to figure out who it is. This movie is full of misunderstandings, mistakes, and confrontations.

An Education - Nick Hornby wrote the screenplay for this film that tells the coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, who begins to meet up with a much older playboy. I really enjoyed this movie.

3 Idiots - So this was our first experience with a Bollywood film and I have to say that we absolutely loved it. I hate stupid movies and the cover for this one looked so stupid. The only reason we checked out this film was because, while looking for movies to watch, this one was in the Redbox years ago, and as we looked up the different movies available to us (on IMDb.com), this one had an incredible 8+ rating! Impressed with the rating (though somewhat skeptical), we decided to take a chance and we're glad we did. GREAT film. In it, two friends are searching for their long-lost companion. Together, they revisit their college days and recall memories of their friend and how he inspired them to think differently, even as everyone else called them "idiots." Don't let the title or cover scare you off like it almost did us. This is a moving, inspirational movie. Almost 3 hours long, it will keep you interested the whole time. Try this Bollywood film!

The Girl in the Café - In this film, Bill Nighy plays Lawrence, an aging, lonely civil servant, who falls for Gina (Kelly Macdonald - voice of Merida in "Brave"), a mysterious young woman he meets in a café, when he is in town for the G8 Summit in Reykjavik. Simple and captivating, this movie will win you over.

$5/Day - This is a fun film we're glad to have discovered. Christopher Walken plays the conman father to a very conservative son, who begrudgingly agrees to go on a road trip with his father. The caveat? His father tells him they can do it on $5 a day. I won't give it away - just watch it.  

Other great (in my opinion) recommendations include: About a Boy, The King's Speech, Waking Ned Devine, Definitely Maybe, The Invention of Lying, Silver Linings Playbook, Lars and the Real Girl, Jesus H. Christ, Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen), and Doubt.

The next movie coming to our local theater isn't quirky or offbeat. It is "The Butler" and it looks like an absolutely excellent Hollywood film. Have you seen this cast?!? Forest Whitaker, Alan Rickman, Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, John Cusack, Vanessa Redgrave, Liev Schreiber, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden, and more. It is based on a true story and tells of race relations in the U.S. as seen through the eyes of a black butler who lived at the White House through 7 presidencies and 30 years.

What else can you recommend based on this list? I'd love to hear more suggestions . . .


Dr. Mark said...

Awesome list! I loved every one of these movies. I can't think of anything to add to your comments. I will say that I loved Silver Linings Playbook, and the scene where Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro get into a Philadelphia-style debate after the Eagles-Giants game is worth the price of admission. Great music, too!

Thanks for a great rendezvous date today!

J Fo said...

SURPRISE! I'm here! So glad you told me about this post! Now I have a good list of movies to add to my list. On this list I have seen:
-Little Miss Sunshine
-Once (LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I listen to the soundtrack all the time and bought The Swell Season's next album.)
-Garden State
-About a Boy (I just finished this book actually. Love Hugh grant in the movie.)
-King's Speech. (Completely moving. One of my all time favorites.)
-Waking Ned Divine (A family favorite! So sweet, quaint, sincere. I have images of that old man riding the motorcycle naked. Haha!)
-Lars and the Real Girl (If it hadn't shown up on the list I was going to add it for you. Love it.)
-Silver Linings Notebook
-Doubt (Haunting.)

I can't think of much right now to add, because you hit most of it on the nail. But I would say the movie Big Fish is one of our favorites. We are big on Tim Burton, but this isn't his normal dark...it's very real and fantastic at the same time.

LMW said...

Thank you for this list. A few caught my attention as movies I should try. My only problem is that I don't like depressing/disturbing or tragic movies. This isn't to say that everything has to be sunshine and roses, but I also don't want the sadness to sit with me after the movie is over, which can happen to me for days if I watch something too disturbing. Wen I was a kid, if there was a movie where somebody died from cancer or some other desease, I'd worry myself sick that something similar would happen to me or somebody in my family, so I'd say I'm pretty over-sensitive to movies. Now, I can read about those things, however; I just can't watch them play out in a movie. With all that said, which movies might I be wise to avoid on your list?

I've seen most of the movies on J Fo's list and particularly liked, Garden State, About a Boy, King's Speech, Silver Linings Playbook, and Doubt. We watched Little Miss Sunshine, but didn't end up liking it as much as others seemed to. My husband loves

Other movies that I'd add are: Waiting for Guffman, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Juno, and I'm blanking on others right now. I'll come back and add more as I think of them.:)

Boquinha said...

My mind is now racing with great movies like these . . . Easy A! Crazy Stupid Love! Juno! Waitress! 10 Things I Hate About You!

How could I forget those?!?

Mark, agreed. :)

Jessica! I knew you'd be on the same page with this list! I kept thinking of you as I wrote it. The King's Speech is one of our all-time favorites, too. Phenomenal movie. Thought of you when I wrote "Lars." :) LOVE the ambiguity in Doubt. Had us talking for hours afterward.

We've seen Big Fish. I remember it being kind of heavy and odd. I think I'd forgotten that was Tim Burton!

LMW said...

Oops, I meant to say that my husband loves Amelie.

Also, I think I'm going to have to watch Lars and the Real Girl now, since so many people have recommended it.

Boquinha said...

Oh, LMW! We were commenting at the same time and both added Juno! That's awesome.

Your explanation of your sensitivity? You could very well have been describing my very similar reactions to visual stimuli. Funny enough, I had JUST written this to Jessica (J Fo) in an instant message:

"I have a hard time with anything violent (or seeing anyone be hurt in any way - emotionally, yelled at, etc.), so I have to be careful with dramas. I love sitcoms."

So I really do get what you're saying. That being said, you are safe with most anything on this list, because I couldn't emotionally handle heavy films either (I have struggled with depression and am careful what I allow into my life). I remember seeing "Stepmom" years ago at the dollar theater and being SO mad that I had been duped into a heavy movie since their preview had been all dancing and singing into hairbrushes. Mumble grumble.

I don't have the greatest memory in the world, but looking over this list . . . lemme see . . . I remember Barney's Version having heavy, disturbing aspects, but not so much that it haunted me - I was more taken with the writing, presentation, and twists; Nicole Holofcener's films can deal with heavy stuff - they are a bit darker, heavier than the usual quirky, offbeat stuff I have listed; I was worried about Sunshine Cleaning (I generally avoid potentially disturbing images), but it was fine; 3 Idiots did have a disturbing image/scene that jolted me.

All the movies I added in my comment are also fine. Most of these movies felt ultimately inspiring and uplifting to me. I love walking out of a movie feeling like I've had an experience, like I've *felt* something, like I'm inspired to DO something great, even if it's a simple thing. That's how most of these movies are - light, inspiring, fun, moving, quirky . . . I think you're safe with most of them, keeping in mind the caveats I've listed. Since my memory isn't the best, Mark can chime in with anything I've missed . . . :)

Mark, did I miss anything?

Boquinha said...

A few more thoughts (welcome to my racing mind):

1. I love ensemble casts, especially in good TV shows.

2. I love character-driven stories, in books and movies. Most of these are character driven. Simple plots, great characters. (Book wise, that's what I love about Eleanor & Park - it's like an indie film in print!).

3. I love good side characters. Allison Janney plays a great one in The Way Way Back.

4. We tend to choose movies that have at least a 7-star rating on IMDB. That is generally a good indicator.

5. From research on this post, I've got a list of several more movies to watch (some have already been on my list of movies to watch anyway):

*A Single Man (Colin Firth!)
*Sydney White (this one might be a bust, not sure - I can't tell - could be stupid and I hate stupid movies - something along the lines of Dumb and Dumber or Ace Ventura is like pure torture for me).
*Away We Go (John Kransinski and Maya Rudolph - how have we missed this one?)
(Oh, speaking of Maya Rudolph, we liked Friends with Kids, too)
*Blue Valentine (might be too heavy, though)
*The Reader
*Charlie Bartlett
*Love Me If You Dare
*Everybody's Fine
*Forgetting Sarah Marshall
*Enough Said (coming soon)

I love foreign films, too. I like the music. I like the simple story lines. I like the feel of the films. I like the cinematography. I like the gorgeous views they often have. I like the ambiguous endings. I even like the subtitles. One of my favorite things at BYU was the International Cinema. I have several favorites, most of them French. Some of my favorite foreign films include:

My Father's Castle
My Mother's Glory
Jean de Flourette
Manon of the Spring
The Bicycle Thief
Cinema Paradisio

Anyone have more suggestions on foreign films?

LMW said...

Thanks for those tips, Stacie. Good to know what movies I'll be able to trust.

About ensemble casts, since I know you love Gilmore Girls and Friends, do you like West Wing as well? I highly recommend the series, especially the first 3 seasons if you haven't tried it yet.

Jimmy said...

I usually rent movies and it takes me 3 or 4 sittings to finally get through an entire movie. So Roger Ebert I am not. In a nutshell: I am a fan of the Terminator movies. I like About a Boy and the great job it does of capturing loneliness. The Sixth Sense is the best movie I've seen that I didn't want to see. The latest True Grit was underappreciated, and I think Ordinary People is the best movie I've seen in my lifetime.

LMW said...

I'll ask Bill about foreign film suggestions. He loves them.

LMW said...

And, yes, The Butler does look intriguing.

Dr. Mark said...

Wow! So much discussion on here!

If I had any suggestions they've already been covered, and I know my mind will not race fast enough to catch up with everyone else's trains of thought.

LMW said...

Ha, Mark. Who doesn't like learning about new things for entertainment and making suggestions of their own?:) I'm hoping you guys do a music post like this in the future too.:)

J Fo said...

So I haven't seen a ton, but I did watch Blue Valentine...and wished I hadn't. I'm thinking it would hurt your heart! All the 2 main characters do is hurt each other (mentally and physically) and it just left me feeling empty afterward. Boo on that one because I really like Ryan Gosling. ;)

Boquinha said...

Oooh, a music post like this would be fun!

Jessica, thanks for chiming in on that one. When I read the description, I wondered and felt hesitant about it. I usually read the parental guides (for myself, too!) to help me decide if it's good for me or not. I hadn't read that one yet, but I imagine that it would dissuade me as well.

I thought of another movie - A Lot Like Love with Amanda Peet and Ashton Kutcher. Great film. I picked that one up years ago in a video store (remember doing that? Sometimes you'd get a hit and sometimes you'd get a dud . . . ) - this one was a hit.

If I haven't said it already, I also love the symbolism in these movies and how they make you think. A good film should do that, in my opinion. It should stay with you and make your wheels turn.

The Magic Violinist said...

I LOVED "The Way, Way Back"! :D "The King's Speech" is awesome, too.

The ones on here that looked the most interesting to me were "Flipped," "It's Kind of a Funny Story," "Like Crazy," "Little Miss Sunshine," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Once," "Jeff, Who Lives At Home," and "$5/Day."

The Magic Violinist said...

I love good side characters, too. :)

Emily Foley said...

I've never seen Once but have been hearing the music a lot lately (a game I play, Song Pop, plays it, and one of the musicians on our Cruise was on Irish Idol and he sang it, it's amazing!).

I love About A Boy! Love! And Midnight in Paris. Sooo good.

LMW said...

I also liked Admissions with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. It's better and more substantive than the previews let on. I wouldn't have even watched it based on the clips that I'd seen, but a friend recommended it and thought I'd actually like it based on what she knows about my taste in movies.

Thanks for the warning, J Fo, regarding Blue Valentine. I think I'll stay away from that one. I love provocative movies, but I need something to redeem it if it's going to have sad parts.

Boquinha said...

We saw that at our little theater, too! Speaking of Tina Fey, I also love the movie Mean Girls. It's a movie that I thought was going to be stupid or shallow due to the title and cover, but I'm glad I eventually watched. I love satire and that one is very well done!

Loved going to the movie with you yesterday, TMV. :)

Boquinha said...

LMW, I just saw that I didn't respond to your West Wing question. I haven't ever seen it, but it's in our queue. The writers for TWW also wrote for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - a one-season show with Matthew Perry that was cancelled way too soon.

Boquinha said...

"Julie and Julia" is another great, fun film. I love the dual perspectives and how they went back and forth and showed parallel themes.

Boquinha said...

Dead Poets Society is another I remember being good from years ago, though admittedly, my memory is not the greatest.

And as fine as all of these films are, I also think it's important for people to watch classic 80's movies like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Say Anything, Some Kind of Wonderful, Princess Bride, Back to the Future, Karate Kid, Princess Bride, Goonies, etc.

We're also fans of the Oceans movies. I love them because they're intrigue and adventure without anything gruesome or horrible to watch. Plus, they infuse it with comedy and have a great cast every time.

Boquinha said...

Oops, Kate has informed me that I wrote "Princess Bride" twice. Replace one of them with "Ferris Bueler's Day Off." :)

Dr. Mark said...

If we're going old school, how about Ghostbusters? Hardly a piece of cinematic genius, but it was entertaining! At least the first one was.

LMW said...

I think the world loves Princess Bride, indeed. I've not met anyone who doesn't like it at least.:)

If you liked Sunset Strip, I promise, promise that you'll love West Wing. Aaron Sorkin is a genius writer. I'd love to see something where he and Amy Sherman Palladino join forces.:) Speaking of Sorkin, we really enjoyed Newsroom, even though it hasn't gotten the best reviews; we still think it's very good, though no West Wing, of course.

I keep meaning to watch Mean Girls, because of Tina Fey's and Amy Poehler's involvement. Speaking of Amy Poehler, I highly highly recommend the shows 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation.

Dr. Mark said...

Sorkin and Palladino? That would be an interesting pairing! Talk about rapid dialogue!

Make sure you watch "Mean Girls." It's extremely clever. We actually watched "30 Rock." It's kind of funny--we didn't start watching it until last fall. We worked through all the seasons on Netflix and then managed to Tivo enough of the final season to catch up in time to watch the finale in real time. We had a lot of fun with it.

LMW said...

Seems like you guys like to power watch seasons of television shows too. Bill and I love to "discover" shows when they're either a few seasons in or even complete, because we love to marathon watch shows and find it difficult to stay interested in a show if we have to wait week to week. If we watch a show that is current, we tend to let them build up on the DVR so that we can watch them in marathon sessions. That's what we've done with Parks and Rec.

Yeah, I say Sorkin and Palladino would be fun together, but I'm guessing the rapidness of the dialogue would pretty much make my brain explode.:)

I'm glad you had fun with 30 Rock. Have you two tried The Office? I've heard that if we like 30 Rock or Parks and Rec that we should like The Office, but I haven't tried it yet.

I have a little less than two weeks left of my summer vacation, so I'm going to put Mean Girls high on my list of things to enjoy before it's time for me to go back to work.

Boquinha said...

Yes! We do love to power watch shows on Netflix or on DVD from the library. I often prefer that to movies. It's psychological (a sitcom is 22 minutes; a movie is an hour and a half). Sometimes we watch 4 or 5 sitcom episodes in a row, which I recognize is longer than a movie, but somehow it feels different, more efficient, more productive? :P

The shows we're currently watching on a week-to-week basis are Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory. We also love Amazing Race.

Parks and Rec - when it started, we saw one episode and thought it was an Office wannabe, but since then we've heard so many good things, we may have to try it again. We like what those SNL women come up with!

We've watched The Office. We really enjoyed the first several seasons, then it was kind of "meh" for a while and then it got better again. Clever show and some very memorable, funny episodes for sure.

I hope you enjoy Mean Girls! It's great satire. :) Are there any others on the list you're considering trying to watch before summer vacation is over? If so, I'd be happy help narrow it down to some really good ones. :)

Dr. Mark said...

Maybe knowing that we're only committing to 20 minutes or so at a time makes it easier to keep watching another episode. Setting out to watch a 2-hour movie in one sitting seems daunting sometimes when we're tired.

LMW said...

Yeah, and I think the faster pace of the 22 minute shows makes it seem less intense than a movie. Then again, we love to marathon watch longer shows like West Wing or shows of that ilk too. It all depends on our mood at the time, of course.

I probably won't have a lot of time before vacation is over to watch a lot of movies due to a sister's wedding and other last minute obligations, but a couple more suggestions to narrow things down would be great.

I liked Parks Aand Rec right away, but it took a few more episodes for Bill to really get into it. It's kind of ridiculous, but it's super fun. Fun Fact: the person who plays Ann is Quincy Jones' daughter.

Thanks for the tip about The Office. I think we'll give it a real try then.

Anonymous said...

Ok Boquinha...does this reaction convince you to not stop blogging???!!!

Boquinha said...

72 fishes, yes, this discussion is GREAT fun! :)

LMW, we are Quincy Jones fans, so thanks for the trivia - we love stuff like that!

Okay, if I had to pick top favorites from this list, they would be:

The King's Speech (though I know you've seen that one)
The Way, Way Back (thought that won't be on DVD for a while)

Another movie I really like is "Shakespeare in Love" - not really a quirky, indie film, but it is a well done film.

Boquinha said...

Oh, and if you like Mean Girls, see Easy A, too. Another great satire.

Have you seen The Help?

Dave Johnson said...

Also posted this before:

We've been either in nursing school or traveling since 2005 and are SO behind on new movies. We also get a little bored with all the big Hollywood stuff, so maybe we'll use this list as as starting point to catch up and change our viewing habits a bit. I think we've also become so fond of TV (and it's gotten SO much better in recent years) that there's not a lot of time left for movies. My list of TV shows I want to check out keeps growing longer while my movie list is growing shorter. Probably because I'm watching boring movies. The thought of sitting through a 2+ hour film is exhausting, while a 30 min - 1 hour TV show isn't. But then I'll sit and watch three episodes, so...

Boquinha said...

Ironic you say that right after your spiel about a 20-minute vs. a 3-minute song. :P But I hear you - I generally prefer a TV series to a movie, too. But if it's THIS kind of movie, I'm so in. I'll convert you yet.

Dave Johnson said...

In that scenario, wouldn't the tv show be the 20 minute song?

Boquinha said...

No, because it's analagous (song to visual media) - a typical song is 3 minutes (versus a longer, 20-minute song) and a typical TV show is 30 minutes (versus a longer, 90-minute movie).

Dave Johnson said...

Bu..bu..bu..but, drama's are an hour and HBO/Showtime drama is even longer. And I watch 3 episodes at a time...

LMW said...

No, I haven't seen The Help, but I've been wanting to watch it. Thanks for the reminder.

I have to agree with Dave that I find TV series easier to watch. I love it when I find a good movie, but it seems easier for me to get into a TV series, maybe because I like that I can live with the characters longer? That's probably why I like book series too. Television series that I'd highly recommend (I've already mentioned some), in no particular order, are:
The West Wing
Madmen (probably not great for children)
Veronica Mars (rough spots for kids)
Gilmore Girls
Homeland (definitely not for children)
30 Rock
Parks and Recreation
The Big Bang Theory
Rosanne (I'm serious!--GilMore Girls had some of the same writers, including ASP)
Reba (I'm serious again)

Here are thoughts on a couple earlier comments that I failed to respond to:

I've seen Pleasantville. It's a little funky, but worth watching.

I also hate stupid movies. Slapstick or any Dumb and Dumber type movie has no chance with movie. So many people that I know, even intelligent ones (ha), loved The Hangover, so we stupidly gave it a try, but only made it through the first five minutes before just turning it off with disgust for being so stupid. Then again, I do love Elf. Speaking of Elf, I am a sucker for Christmas movies, no matter how cheesy, but I'm guessing that's a whole other topic.:)

We enjoyed Julie and Julia too. It was cute in a good way.:)

Sorry for all the tangents.

Boquinha said...

40 comments! I am loving the discussion on here, tangents and all!

The Help is great - both the book and the movie. I think you'll enjoy it.

I also find TV series easier to watch. I think it's psychological. :P And your point about living with the characters longer? Totally agree. That is so me. That's why I enjoy working in long-term therapy sooooooooooo much more than with short-term, inpatient clients. You get to have a longer relationship and see the growth and change and get closer and tighter. SO much better. And that does translate into other aspects of life, like entertainment. :)

I've heard good things about The West Wing, Newsroom, and Mad Men.

We have a friend who is a big
Veronica Mars fan (we haven't ever seen it).

We love, love, love Gilmore Girls (as you know) and have Parenthood in our queue, though I happened to see a commercial for what looked like a pretty heavy episode and it made me hesitant.

I've heard good things about Homeland

We LOVE LOVE LOVE Friends (as well as Frasier and Freaks and Geeks - ooooh, have you seen Freaks and Geeks? A MUST SEE!!).

We enjoyed 30 Rock.

Our curiosity is piqued on Parks and Recreation.

We LOVE The Big Bang Theory (as well as Modern Family - have you seen that?) - we're excited for both of those shows to start up again.

I used to enjoy Rosanne. I didn't know that some of the GG writers wrote for them!

Didn't ever watch Reba - it seemed very canned, but I don't know since I haven't seen it.

Pleasantville just came into the library for us.

I totally agree with you about stupid movies. We all have our guilty pleasures when it comes to them - growing up, mine was "Better Off Dead" and "One Crazy Summer." I must admit that I also laughed hysterically at "Tommy Boy."

We haven't ever seen Elf, but many people have recommended it to us. It's on our list of movies to watch! We love "A Christmas Story," too.

We also enjoy documentaries and silent films.

Never apologize for tangents - I love them! :)

LMW said...

I have not seen Modern Family, but I know of a lot of people who love it. I need to give it a serious try. It's hard to get the gist of whether or not I'll like it from the clips that I've seen. I've heard a lot of great things about Freaks and Geeks too. Will have to try it. I think I watched an episode and it didn't stick with me. There is some heavy stuff in Parenthood, but it has a good balance of serious and funny. I don't think there's anything too disturbing in it. Veronica Mars, however, can be pretty heavy at times, which is why I don't recommend watching with your kids. It really is great though.

We enjoy a good documentary, but don't watch them enough. What would you recommend in that area? One that we loved was Buck. My description of it wouldn't do it justice, but I advise that you watch the trailer, which is really good.

LMW said...

PS. When I get into a series or even a movie that I love, I will get just obsessed enough to have to read lots about them, including interviews from the people in the shows or movies, which is why I can supply you with little factoids about some of these shows.:)

PPS. Reba does seem like it'll be cheesy, but it is quite funny. I wish it had been on a major network; it deserved to be. For the record, I feel the same way about stupid sitcoms as I do about stupid movies. I need my sitcoms to be clever with its humor. I really can't enjoy sitcoms like Two and a Half Men, Two Broke Girls, etc. They're just too stupid.:)

Speaking of other guilty pleasures, I'll have to admit that I love those quaint shows like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie. Don't judge.:) I also love the classics like the Andy Griffith Show and the Dick Van Dyke Show, along with The Golden Girls and Frazier (sp?). I'm not big on shows like Leave it to Beaver or Brady Bunch though. The acting is too stiff/forced.

Dr. Mark said...

LMW, we tend to get the same way with shows. The behind the scenes stuff is so interesting and gives you a new appreciation for the work itself. And I agree--the humor in a sitcom needs to be clever. I cringe at some of the shows I really enjoyed as a kid, but then again, I realize that enjoying the cheese is important in my evolving sense of humor.

"Frasier" is great. The writing is clever and intelligent, and while some of the old comedic cliches show up from time to time, it is such a great show. "The Brady Bunch" and "Leave it to Beaver" are difficult to watch now when you really analyze the acting, but as a kid I really didn't care.

And your guilty pleaures? You can't beat those "quaint" shows. They all appeal to some sort of longing for simpler times. There's nothing wrong with that.

Kelly said...

I love all of these movies! I really enjoyed: Like Crazy, 500 Days of Summer and Jeff Who Lives at Home. You have great taste in movies! Kelly :)

Boquinha said...

LMW, I highly recommend Modern Family - very funny stuff, great writing. It's great even from the very first episode. It's got a great ensemble cast (something I really love about Friends, Go On, Gilmore Girls, etc.). Same with Freaks and Geeks - that is one of our very favorite shows!

We watched one episode (the first one) of Parenthood and it looked so good, but yeah, I worry about the heavy aspects. And then there's the whole close-knit extended family thing that is sometimes difficult to watch when it is so not our experience. I'm on the fence on that one . . .

Thanks for the warning on Veronica Mars. We have a friend who loves it, though I suspect part of that is due to his crush on Kristen Bell. :P I don't know that much about it in general.

Documentaries -

Supersize Me and Food, Inc. are two of our very favorites. I resisted watching Food, Inc. (because I kind of didn't want to know) and I had NO idea how HILARIOUSLY entertaining and informative Supersize Me would be. I thought it was gimmicky about a guy eating McDonald's. It is so much more than that. HIGHLY recommend.

I've heard Paper Clips (on Netflix) is good, though we haven't seen it yet. I like documentaries about historical figures and places (like MLK or the WWII Memorial, etc.).

Oh! we like Morgan Spurlock A LOT. After Supersize Me, he had a TV program that is on Netflix called "30 Days," where he (or someone) takes on a task for 30 days (living on minimum wage, living in prison, etc.). It is FASCINATING. He often pairs opposites together (a gun control advocate spends 30 days with a gun enthusiast and gun shop owner, a pro-choice woman spends 30 days in a pro-life center for women, etc.). The hardest one for us to watch was the one where an anti-gay rights woman spent 30 days living with a gay couple and their children. She was LDS and a VERY angry person. It's known as the ONLY episode where the person who tried out the opposite view didn't learn anything new at all. She didn't go in open to the possibility in the slightest. It was painful to watch, honestly. It generated a lot of buzz online. Just be forewarned. We had no idea when we started watching it that it would be like that. We really learn a lot from all of his episodes. Fascinating show - he always has stats and figures to back up some of the different points, so he brings in additional information from which to learn. Great concept.

Boquinha said...

Planet Earth is another GREAT documentary series. It will give you a fantastic appreciation of this amazing planet on which we live, and all it has to offer.

We also like the movie "Milk" about Harvey Milk - it is a biopic and very inspirational (a bit sad in parts, be forewarned).

The Pixar Story is EXCELLENT. It's on Netflix. Watch it and be TOTALLY inspired! It is the story of how Pixar came to be. Just amazing.

I get obsessed like that, too! I usually do most of my research after I've finished a series (to avoid spoilers), but I am known to pause something we're watching and look stuff up on the spot! LOVE that! I love your factoids. We've seen a few Lauren Graham interviews recently, by the way, and she's a lot of fun!

It sounds like you and I enjoy the same kind of things and also avoid the same kinds of things. If you avoid stupid sitcoms (agreed!) and need your sitcoms to be clever with their humor (agreed!), definitely watch Frasier (sounds like you already do) and Modern Family.

Loving the true confessions! I also really enjoy Little House on the Prairie. Know what else is great? Anne of Green Gables. I've been in the mood to watch that recently. SUCH a great book and movie.

My all-time favorite old show is "I Love Lucy." I also really enjoy "All in the Family." And if we can discuss cartoons, let me throw in The Flintstones, the Jetsons, and The Smurfs. Oh, and Peanuts! I love the Peanuts series!!

Kelly! It is so so so good to hear from you! Go figure that we love the same movies. :)

LMW and Kelly and Jimmy, I owe you all emails!

LMW said...

I definitely agree with you on Anne of Green Gables. I was on a Anne of Green Gables kick last winter and watched all the movies and even listened to a radio drama of it.:)

I will definitely try Modern Family again. We tried the Office again, but just couldn't get into it. We are enjoying The New Girl though.

30 Days sounds really interesting. I'm going to put it in our cue. We enjoyed Supersize Me too.
Lauren Graham appearances on Ellen's talk show are hilarious, especially the one where she sings Ellen a song while trying to play the piano. Speaking of talk show clips(random tangent), if you aven't seen it, you guys should look up the interview with Taylor Swift (I know you guys like Taylor Swift) and Zac Efron interview on Ellen, the one where they sing a song together. Also hilarious!

Boquinha said...

I think Modern Family is much better than the Office. We are working our way through Parks and Rec - we're on season 2 and everyone says it gets better from here on out. Season 1 was too reminiscent of The Office for me, but I hear they back off on that. If you're choosing Modern Family over The Office, I'd say that's a good choice!

New Girl, Season 2 is on Netflix now! :)

Ha! Just looked up the YouTube clip of Lauren Graham singing on Ellen - hilarious! She seems like someone I'd love to hang out with. We've seen the Taylor Swift/Zac Efron interview, too - so funny!

So, I have more movie updates to add to this list - ha!

We've seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall - cute, silly, fun. We love Jason Segel and Russell Brand is always a hoot, too. My favorite part has to be when he's singing at the piano about not going to a psychiatrist. So funny.

Here it is (warning for language): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB_1t-Vn6Vs

Perks of Being a Wallflower - excellent book and movie. Like The Help, I'm impressed with how the movie captured the tone of the book so well.

Did I mention Martian Child? Also good. Love Cusack.

Lost in Translation is another good one. So is Catch Me If You Can.

We saw The Butler - excellent, though I do think there were too many things going on and it could've been a little more focused and thematic. That said, excellent movie, even if the presidential casting is strange.

We saw Pleasantville - good flick. Great premise. People who thought I'd like this movie were right.

Ooh, another fun flick is Calendar Girls. So great.

We saw The Kids are All Right. Good film. But why do I always find Julianne Moore's characters so difficult to like?!?

Mark and I have recently seen "Safety not Guaranteed," and it did NOT disappoint. It stayed with me for DAYS. It's funny - as I look up movies I like on IMDB, about 6 additional movies show up each time suggesting movies I'd like based on what I'm looking at. "Safety Not Guaranteed" keeps showing up on lists (along with many other movies I like and have seen), so I've had it written down for a while. We saw it on Netflix a couple of weeks ago. Great flick.

LMW said...

We like Martian Child too.

Boquinha said...

Mark and I saw Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" yesterday - excellent! Cate Blanchett was amazing.

To watch soon:

Enough Said
About Time

Boquinha said...

We saw "Enough Said" this week. Also excellent! I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love Nicole Holofcener's films. This one did not disappoint. And Julia Louis-Dreyfus? Quite a good dramatic actress as well as funny. She has an infectious laugh. The movie was great. Such a study into human character.

Boquinha said...

Dan in Real Life. Forgot that one.

Boquinha said...

This is going to become my go-to place to add great movie finds that fit the kind of description I've given in the post. A recent gem of a find? "Stuck in Love" - LOVED it. Great soundtrack, too - currently #1 on the iTunes Indie list!

Boquinha said...

Adding to this list - we've seen 3 great movies this summer:

"What If" with Daniel Radcliffe
"100-Foot Journey" with Helen Mirren
"Magic in the Moonlight" with Colin Firth - SUPER cute Woody Allen flick

On my list now:

"Skeleton Twins"
"The Judge"
"St. Vincent"

Okay, so I have a question - we've watched the Pilot for Friday Night Lights. I found it SUPER heavy on football. Are all the episodes like that?

Also, we've started Veronica Mars and really like it so far.

Boquinha said...

Well, according to my previous comment, I wanted to see:

"Skeleton Twins"
"The Judge"
"St. Vincent"

I've seen two of those. "Skeleton Twins" was really good. And Mark and I watched "St. Vincent" yesterday and it was fantastic. I loved, loved, loved it!

"Woman in Gold" is now on my list, too.

Boquinha said...

"Woman in Gold" was good, not great. Though I do love Helen Mirren and isn't she gorgeous.

Mark and I saw "Love and Mercy" and it was FANTASTIC. Here's what I put on Facebook:

Saw "Love and Mercy" tonight, not because of the Beach Boys, but because of John Cusack (who's brilliant). Consider me converted - Brian Wilson is a fascinating artist. Wonderful, artistic film and impressive biopic! Thought we might be the only ones there, but the theater was packed! Want to see a really good film? Go see this one.

Thanks for indulging my John Cusack fangirling. The film is so well cast - not just him, but Elizabeth Banks, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti. Loved it. My kind of movie.

And later this:

One more word about "Love and Mercy" . . . in addition to being a really well-done film with a superb cast, something else that has stayed with me is the impressively strong female character of Melinda Ledbetter (portrayed by Elizabeth Banks). This film is a biopic and not really about the Beach Boys. It is about Brian Wilson's struggle with mental distress and his musical genius. Elizabeth Bank's role as Melinda was compellingly fierce, strong, and incredibly empowered. She entered his life at one of his darkest yet most hopeful times. She is an inspiring woman who stood up to people who were trying to manipulate her and she fought for justice, fairness, and the happiness of others while never, ever compromising her own integrity. If you haven't seen a film in a while that inspired you with a strong female lead, go see this one. And just try to not feel empowered to be a badass. I'd be very surprised if there weren't Oscar nominations for all four of these actors - John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Giamatti (how does he portray such sleazy characters and yet continue to enamor us?!?). ‪#‎StrongFemaleRoles‬

The Magic Violinist said...

You told me to add "Mona Lisa Smile." ;)

Boquinha said...

More movies to add. Do people keep getting emailed updates on these comments? This is where I keep adding to my list of awesome movies, so here goes . . .

"End of the Tour" - SO good. I love Jason Segal and he was great in this role.

"Infinitely Polar Bear" - I got pulled in by the awesome title and I loved the movie. Mark Ruffalo does so many interesting movies. This film tackled a tough subject without being too heavy. It was bigger picture than a diagnosis and it was moving and stayed with me. Big kudos to the director for putting together this fine semi-autobiographical film.

Boquinha said...

Max and I saw "Sing Street" and LOVED it. It's by the same guy who did "Once" and this one is all about 80s music, so it is a must see!

Boquinha said...

More to add to the list. Mark and I saw "City Island" with Andy Garcia and we really enjoyed it. It definitely deserves to be on this list. Fun, quirky, simple.

Our family also watched "Trumbo." Not exactly indie. Some pretty big names. But such a good movie.

Notable mentions: Moana, Florence Foster Jenkins, and Doris.

Dr. Mark said...

Stacy and I just finished "The Fundamentals of Caring." It's a Netflix original starring Paul Rudd. Great, simple, enjoyable film. I suppose that's obvious since it's on this list.

Boquinha said...

Recent favorites include:

"The Greatest Showman"
"The Post"
"Lady Bird" (though I didn't love it as much others)
Did not love "The Florida Project"

(Besides the obvious Star Wars films