Movies

    🍿 Watched UHF on the big screen today, when I’d only watched it at home before. Early on I seemed to be the only person laughing but maybe people were feeling shy or something because they laughed more as the movie went on. It’s a funny movie every time.

    🍿 Watched Yes Day.

    This is a super fun family movie! I love it in no small part because of Jennifer Garner and Jenna Ortega but also it’s just super fun.

    🍿 Watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

    Can’t believe I’ve never seen this before. Surprised to find that Sean Penn was my favorite part of the film, but then, Jeff Spicoli is a spiritual big brother to Ted Theodore Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esquire, so it makes sense.

    🍿 Watched Heartburn.

    This one is written by Nora Ephron & directed by Mike Nichols, and it’s mostly very sad.

    But the cries it made me cry were mostly happy cries because Meryl Streep’s character clearly loved her kids so much and I love my kid so much, too.

    🍿 Watched The Intern.

    Another Nancy Meyers film. I really liked this. It made me cry. I think it was a little tricky because it seemed both to critique and support Anne Hathaway’s character’s intensity as an overnight CEO, but I guess that’s a good approach, not moralistic.

    🍿 Watched It’s Complicated. Happy to have watched. It seemed to me mostly to be about how a manbaby doesn’t want to contribute to his new family and tries to get his ex-wife to take care of him now that she’s an empty nester and won’t need his help. Spoiler: it doesn’t work.

    🍿 Watched Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story.

    A fascinating documentary about a fascinating person.

    🍿 Watched Hats Off to Christmas.

    Stefan from Saturday Night Live, played by Bill Harder, says 'This place has everything'

    This is the most paradigmatic Hallmark Christmas movie. It has everything:

    • a struggling small business
    • a suit guy
    • who is going back to his small hometown after life in the big city
    • a wheelchair-riding moppet
    • who miraculously recovers from the injury that made him need a wheelchair
    • a woman being stupid because of a conversation she eavesdropped on
    • who is a young widow
    • two chaste kisses
    • a happy ending

    Is it a good movie? No. But is it a laughably bad movie? No. Haylie Duff is incredibly winning and the reason I kept watching. Her chemistry with her costar is non-existent but she’s so cute, I didn’t care.

    🍿 Watched Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

    My kid’s first time seeing both. Home Alone is, of course, a classic. Home Alone 2 isn’t a revelation but is super fun.

    πŸΏπŸ“ΊπŸŽ„ Watched The Christmas Train.

    Based on a David Baldacci novel & bringing a bit of star power with Dermot Mulroney, Joan Cusack, and Danny Glover. A journalist runs into an old flame on The Christmas Train. Cute stuff. Almost too high-quality actually, for the vibes I’m looking for.

    🍿 Watched Airplane!.

    Super fun. I can’t begin to imagine how delightful it must have been for the people who saw it when it was first released.

    πŸ“ΊπŸΏπŸŽ„ Watched The Naughty Nine.

    This is a heist movie about kids on the naughty list breaking into Santa’s workshop. It honors all the heist tropes and is super fun. Watch with a kid if you can.

    πŸ“ΊπŸΏπŸŽ„ Watched Reporting for Christmas.

    I really like this one. A hard-hitting Chicago reporter heads to a small town in Iowa to cover the 40th anniversary of the local toy company’s most popular product. Life changes ensue.

    Super cute, winning cast.

    πŸ“ΊπŸΏπŸŽ„ Watched A Biltmore Christmas.

    Mostly for Jonathan Frakes & Robert Picardo πŸ––πŸ» but I ended up really liking it. There’s a lot of 40s Hollywood glamor. Also, I love Biltmore. I’ve been there only twice but I still love it.

    πŸ“ΊπŸΏπŸŽ„ In the movie A Timeless Christmas, I can suspend my disbelief enough to accept that a man time-traveled from 1903 to 2020, but asking me to accept that his love interest is a shoe-in for a history faculty job simply by virtue of having a PhD is a bridge too far.

    πŸΏπŸ“ΊπŸŽ„ Watched A Christmas Frequency. A radio producer sets her show’s host up on on-air blind dates to save the show from the slump it’s in because the host is no fun after separating from her husband. It’s not a solid movie but I liked it because the cast is adorable.

    πŸ“ΊπŸΏπŸŽ„ By the way, time travel is a whole subgenre of holiday made-for-TV movie. See:

    πŸ“ΊπŸΏπŸŽ„ I was watching Hulu’s A Christmas Frequency and everything was going great but then it shattered my suspension of disbelief by having one guy give another guy an expense report, printed on paper.

    🍿 Saw Wish. A story full of good ideas. Music nice but not as memorable as, say, Encanto. Chris Pine is, of course, a delight. Full of beautifully casual representation.

    I often find myself watching movies in 22-minute chunks, partly because of being a parent and partly because of having a short attention span lately. I do TV shows with act breaks, so 3 or 4 breaks as I watch where commercials would be. It’s been liberating to realize I can do this. πŸ“ΊπŸΏ

    🍿 Watched Ladybug & Cat Noir: The Movie.

    A reimagining of the TV show. I loved how well it used the Palais Garnier. Sweet story and you get all the emotional payoff fans of the show had to wait 5 seasons for in only 105 minutes.

    πŸ”–πŸΏ Read Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is a Fascinating, Spectacular Philosophical Experiment by Olivia Rutigliano (Literary Hub).

    Well, I was already interested in seeing Barbie, but now that I know it’s about existential crises, I really want to see Barbie.

    🍿 Watched Howard.

    It’s always striking when you realize the outsize influence an artist has had on you, and watching this it really hit home what an influence Howard Ashman has been on me. I think tomorrow is its lady day on Disney+. I hope they’ll release it for purchase after that. I’d buy it.

    Response to Charlie Jane Anders's "What the Universal Translator Tells Us About Exploring Other Cultures"

    πŸ”–πŸ“πŸ“šπŸ“ΊπŸΏ Read What the Universal Translator Tells Us About Exploring Other Cultures by Charlie Jane Anders (Happy Dancing newsletter).

    Anders talks about the way a universal translator gives us shortcuts to understanding other cultures that don’t really show how hard it is to actually understand another culture.

    She offers a lot of examples of this and asks,

    How is it that Han Solo understands Chewbacca, but doesn’t speak Wookiee himself? And vice versa?

    It’s been a long time since I was getting my Master of Arts in teaching and had to take a course on how Language Acquisition happens (almost 20 years), but I recall that we tend to understand much more of a language than we can speak, and I’ve certainly found that to be true recently.

    For W’s Fulbright, we spent two months in the Netherlands, and had learned some very basic Dutch using Duolingo before heading over there. I often didn’t understand what people were saying, but I always understood more of what they were saying than I could ever speak myself.

    Our first week there, some young people overheard my son saying his favorite Dutch word, “kat,” on the bus. They asked us about our being Americans and then one of them wanted to know if we were full of “kattenkwaad.” We didn’t know this word, and the person who asked didn’t know English well enough to explain it, but his friend tried.

    I asked if it meant behaving like a cat, and he indicated not exactly. He tried to explain by example: pushing the stop button on the bus, then not getting off when the bus stopped.

    “Oh, like, pranks!” I said.

    “Yes, like pranks.”

    “Mischievous,” my sister suggested. He wasn’t sure about that one.

    Weeks later, I found this book in the shop a short walk from our house:

    Dutch book: Eerste Hulp Bij Kattenkwaad - First Aid for Mischief

    Google translates this title as “First Aid for Mischief: The Survival Guide for Cat Parents.”

    I don’t think it captures the sense entirely, based on our bus conversation, but it’s hard to be sure.

    🍿 Want to watch: Tully.

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