Even More ‘If These Books Were Movies’

I can never go too long without making one of these posts! For me, actors that encapsulate characters usually come to mind moments after a book introduces someone new. I’m then unable to really separate the story from these faces, and playing casting director always feel like a secret reading bonus. Below are some of my recent dream-casting choices for if these books ever became movies!

1) Leighton Meester and Michael Zegen as Ruby and Andrew (Girls on the Line, by Aimie K. Runyan)

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“I refuse to marry a man who spends his life in a dark room, longing for the sun but lacking the backbone to stand and open a window.”

I’m that weird 20-something who has never seen Gossip Girl and doesn’t really have any desire to, but I’m loving Leighton Meester in Single Parents. She appeared quite quickly as the resilient, determined Ruby, a Philadelphia society woman who answers the Army Signal Corps’ call for female phone operators during World War I. As a working-class son of Irish and Italian immigrants, Andrew immediately reminded me of Michael Zegen from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. While his character is a bit of a dope, Zegen strikes me as an old New York type who will always step in to help you at a dire time, which fits Andrew perfectly.

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My Most Random Pop Culture Confessions

The world of TV and movies is a weird one. Not only is it so vast, but the way it cultivates for each person is extremely dependent on the family and life one is born into. This means that everyone’s individual pop culture educations have their own unique quirks. An encounter with a TV show or movie that you think is a natural rite of passage isn’t as obvious to others, so in a bit of a stream of consciousness, I wrote about my incredibly random experiences with and takes on TV and movies. It’s a bit of an indulgent, nostalgic post for my own benefit, but if you have your own thoughts to share, please do!

I’m in my early 20s and grew up watching Family Feud reruns from the 1970s on the Game Show Network. For me, it was all about hilariously outdated outfits and Richard Dawson greeting all of the women with a kiss on the lips. The channel also reran episodes from the ’90s that Ray Combs hosted. My understanding of the Steve Harvey generation comes from Kenan Thompson’s SNL parody and the briefest clips of Steve Harvey hosting celeb editions.

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Yes, More ‘If These Books Were Movies’…

These are some of my favorite posts to write. As seen by all of the posts filed in my ‘If These Books Were Movies’ tag, I love talking about a certain actor who appeared almost instantly as a character in a book I was reading. I’m attempting to write a novel now, and I’ve loved putting together a secret Pinterest board of the actors I envision as my characters. The dream castings mentioned in this edition were particularly strong and quick to materialize — Hollywood producers, take note!

1) Julia Roberts and Rachel McAdams as Birdie and Cady (Campaign Widows, by Aimee Agresti) 

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“Talent could protect and insulate you against the world in so many ways, she had always thought.” 

A lot of the characters in this ensemble novel actually appeared very clearly to me, but Julia Roberts as a D.C. socialite whose marriage is failing and Rachel McAdams as the plucky TV producer who has moved her life to D.C. for her fiancé’s career were utter no-brainers. Birdie is an older woman whose fabulous campaign parties make up for the personal turmoil she often faces in regards to her philandering husband, while Cady makes the best of her producer job at a local, lowly ranked morning talk show as her fiancé jets off as a staffer on a prospective presidential campaign. Cady reminded me a lot of McAdams’ Morning Glory character, while Birdie just had the composure Roberts has in so many roles.

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My 5 Most Influential Moments From Mary-Kate & Ashley Movies

I grew up loving all of the Mary-Kate and Ashley movies, and I think the twins’ movies about international travel particularly gave me the wanderlust bug early on in life. Of course, the movies totally gave me the false expectation that boys would fall in love with me whenever I went on vacation (this piece sums that theme of the movies up hilariously), but by now, it’s safe to say I’ve recovered from that disappointment.

Looking back at these movies (which are somehow still not available to stream anywhere), I’ve realized they’ve influenced me more than one would initially think. Whether it was a fashion moment, a certain vacation boyfriend, or something that felt dated even when a movie was new, I thought it’d be fun to share my most influential moments from the Olsen twins’ movies and why they’ve always stuck out in my mind.

James taking Chloe to the Peter Pan statue in Winning London, but really just the entirety of Winning London

I feel like I underestimate my love for this movie until I start thinking about it. I loved Anglophiliac stories from an early age via exposure to Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins, and my love of British culture only increased as I grew older and explored the United Kingdom through books. I’m pretty sure my memory of Winning London, my favorite Olsen movie, predates my relationship with Harry Potter. I couldn’t explain why it appealed to my younger self, a version of me whose dream wasn’t London yet, but looking back, I see how this shaped so much of my enthusiasm for the city.

When I studied abroad there, I legitimately had a moment of reflection the first time I visited the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, on an amazing day I had spent crisscrossing the city on my own. Looking at the statue and slowly walking around it just like Mary-Kate Olsen does in that clip, I thought, You did it. You made it here. You’re in London. Through the way the statue is featured in this movie, it had become the ultimate symbol of London for me. When I came home that Christmas, I even rented this  movie on Amazon to watch with the perspective of a Londoner, feeling giddy about being able to say, “I went there.”

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An Ode to Black-and-White Movies

For me, it started with Shirley Temple movies.

In childhood, my local library was tucked away in a school district building, limited to a long stretch of a hallway and two cramped children’s rooms. The library has since become a sprawling, gorgeous building a block away from this old location, but my formative memories as a reader rest within visions of that confined space, its dirt-brown carpet, the holiday season’s glass case display of a wintry village, and the chapter book alcove’s solar system mural.

At the end of the long hallway were the shelves of VHS tapes, when DVDs were still a novelty, when your main hope for a movie selection was that the person who checked it out before you had rewound the tape. In a time when our movies now start within a short series of clicks, I marvel over how foreign rewinding seems to me now. God forbid you check out a dramatic epic that was split between two VHS tapes.

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My Movie Romance Is…

1) Lady and the Tramp being serenaded over a spaghetti dinner, but especially when accompanying the 102 Dalmatians twist of two human actors, an eventual real-life couple that’s still together today, connecting over that sweetly shared meatball.

2) A couple’s everyday jaunt through a London tube station in About Time, capturing the stresses and the wonders of the mundane yet magical.

3) Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed huddled around a telephone together, just barely balancing between being calm childhood contemporaries and passionate, loving partners.

4) Jimmy Stewart’s slow, twinkling grin in any movie.

5) Captain von Trapp straightening his gloves before stepping in to teach Maria how a man dances.

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What I Wish I Hadn’t Missed

Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.

~ Robert Morgan

1) Simon & Garfunkel’s Central Park concert

2) Newsreels played before movies

3) Wearing a hat and gloves for your daily errands

4) Midnight releases of the early Harry Potter books

5) The original Broadway productions of My Fair Lady and The Music Man

6) Experiencing high school without text messages

7) A television world with only three main channels

8) The heyday of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire movies

9) Nights that ended with watching Johnny Carson

10) The prime era of drive-in movies

11) The hair and fashion of the 1940s and ’50s

12) Sitting with loved ones while watching the very last episode of M*A*S*H 

13) Nora Ephron’s New York

14) Baggy flannels and wide-rimmed glasses being ’90s men’s go-to fashion

15) The Tina Fey-Amy Poehler era of SNL‘s Weekend Update

16) Watching new Friends episodes on Thursdays

17) Gene Shalit’s TODAY Show segments

18) The novelty of the first few seasons of Real World

19) Swaying to Glenn Miller at USO dances

20) Needing to watch TV in real time at risk of never seeing a certain episode

21) Consciously living through the height of the Spice Girls’ fame

22) Big, wavy hair being in style, a la Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally

23) Being able to avoid feeling engulfed by the news or that I’m missing the next best thing, and knowing that we can disconnect without realizing we’re doing so

One of the virtues of being very young is that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your imagination.

~ Sam Levenson

January 2018 Watch: ‘Moonstruck’

Each month, in an attempt to keep up an active feature on the blog, I’m going to highlight a film I watched for the first time and, well, talk about it. Did it resonate with me? Was it over-hyped? Was it worth a watch? I’ve also kept a list of movies I watch in a year since 2011, so I thought this would be a fun way to highlight films that may have stuck out to me in a special way.

Moonstruck has been on my watchlist since it became available on both Hulu and Amazon Prime a short while ago. It wasn’t until the movie started that I recognized how familiar the characters and their cultural quirks were to me. Three of my grandparents were born and raised in New York City boroughs as the children and grandchildren of immigrants, and the fourth, from upstate New York, went to nursing school in Brooklyn. I’m half Italian, and my Italian grandfather grew up in Brooklyn, where the 1987 movie Moonstruck takes place.

In addition to that familial connection, growing up on Long Island exposes you to plenty of older people who grew up in Brooklyn or Queens apartments, watching their fathers renovate their homes on their own and one day becoming frequent DIY patrons of the Home Depot near their suburban homes. I’ve had an understandable fascination with mid-to-late 20th century New York for a long time, and this movie was the perfect dose of familiarity and discovery for me. Several weeks after I watched it, John Mahoney, whose character Perry I couldn’t help but grow fond of, died, which made this viewing feel even more coincidental.

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My Favorite Movies of 2017

This year, I found myself flying through books but struggling to sit down and watch movies, particularly after I graduated in May. I had even more strange aversion to watching new movies, and I feel like many of the films I watched in 2017 were repeats of old favorites. I mean, I’m not the only one who just gets in the mood to binge Nora Ephron movies, right?

That being said, I definitely didn’t watch as many movies this year as I normally do. I even took a full year of film studies classes my senior year, but I managed to get away with not watching some of them in full (I know, I’m awful). If anything, I’m proud of the amount of reading I finished in 2017, and while my favorite films weren’t necessarily standouts, I always need to remind myself that it’s fine to just be indulgent with my book and movie choices and not get too wrapped up with the high-brow picks everyone’s talking about!

After checking out my favorite movies from this year, read about my favorite picks from 2014, 2015, and 2016! And just a reminder: these are films I watched for the first time this year and not necessarily ones that debuted in 2017.

1) Hidden Figures (2016) – Seen January 10, 2017

I saw this so long ago that I genuinely forgot that the viewing was still this year. After seeing Manchester by the Sea, which was nothing like our usual movie picks, earlier last Christmas break with my grandma and sister, we needed to revert to our typical selections of girl-power, historical movies. Hidden Figures was the perfect solution, telling the true story of the African-American women who worked through a major chunk of calculations on NASA projects in the 1960s.

I was so blown away by the performances of the three main actresses, and I’m still shocked that Taraji P. Henson didn’t really get award recognition for her role. If you need any further proof that women played key roles in some of history’s greatest events, Hidden Figures is for you. With it being an Oscar-nominated film, I also love how it didn’t have to rely on nudity or gore to be noticed—the story as is was more than enough.

The actor who played John Glenn was also briefly a contestant on one of my favorite childhood showsEndurance, and he grew up good. 

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5 Movie Scenes That Always Make Me Cry

I’m a crier. I can usually hold it together in real life, but put me in front of certain movies or TV shows and I’m a mess. I’ve even written about the shows you should stream when you need a good cry.

There are specific cinematic moments that never fail to make me misty-eyed and sniffling. Perhaps I’ll soon talk about TV moments that made me ugly cry to the extreme, but for now, I want to focus on the more low-key, tender moments in film that either made me upset even as a child or have only struck a chord in recent years.

There will definitely be mentions of spoilers for these movies, so proceed with caution!

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