Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has announced the 14 films that will be included in their 2019 Big Screen Classics series. TCM screens these films in movie theaters across the U.S.A., giving film lovers the chance to see classic films on the big screen as they were intended to be seen. Also included with each screening is commentary before and after the film from Ben Mankiewicz and other TCM hosts that provides context, insights, and other pertinent details about the film. All in all, it’s always a great time at the movie theater.
It’s all about Christmas movies this month. In the podcast, I give a review of the musical Scrooge (1970), one of my favorite film retellings of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The film is available on Amazon.
Nine films were previously announced for the festival. Now today, TCM has announced five more films, including the opening night film, When Harry Met Sally with director Rob Reiner and actors Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in attendance.
With the theme of “Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies,” the festival lineup is starting to take shape. The other four films announced today fall right into the festival’s theme:
The Clock (1945), romantic drama starring Judy Garland and Robert Walker; directed by Vincente Minnelli
Indiscreet (1958), romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman; directed by Stanley Donen
Love in the Afternoon (1957), romantic comedy starring Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn; written and directed by Billy Wilder
Mad Love (1935), the horror/obsession film starring Peter Lorre and Frances Drake; directed by Karl Freund
Also, the TCM network will celebrate its 25th anniversary on closing night of the festival. It’s all exciting stuff for classic film lovers! We hope to see you in Hollywood in April!
Last month’s Turner Classic Movies‘ Big Screen Classics film was Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). I can’t stop thinking about it, particularly given the current mood in the United States of America.
As you know, the film is about an idealistic man named Jefferson Smith (played by James Stewart) who is appointed as United States senator by the governor of an unnamed state after one of the state’s senators dies while in office. The state’s governor along with the state’s other U.S. senator, Joseph Harrison “Joe” Paine (played by the great Claude Rains), are actually both rather corrupt and are puppets to business interests in the state, and, with Smith being rather naive, they feel like they can preoccupy his time so he’ll stay out of their way.
After Smith becomes savvy about what’s really going on, he gets framed and is about to get kicked out of the senate. He decides to return home, but his secretary (played by Jean Arthur), who sees him for the decent and honest man that he is, finds him on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and helps him see a different path (see clip below).
She reminds him that Abraham Lincoln also had his own political foes and vicissitudes. She reminds him about the importance of having faith in “something bigger.” And she reminds him that he has “plain, decent, everyday, common rightness” and that the country “could use some of that.”
I am reminded of the words of Abraham Lincoln on the walls of his memorial: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in…”
I hope I can remember these words of goodness and truth, even in dark and challenging times. The hope of America lives on—in the memorable character of Jefferson Smith, in the words of Abraham Lincoln which we can read and ponder today, and in all of us, if we so choose.
Video game buddies Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz venture into the big city of the internet in Walt Disney Animation Studios‘ new animated comedy adventure Ralph Breaks the Internet.
A sequel to Disney Animation’s 2012 animated feature Wreck-ItRalph, the film picks up six years after the original. Ralph (again voiced by John C. Reilly) and his BFF Vanellope (again voiced by Sarah Silverman), who are both still active players in their respective video games (Fix-It Felix, Jr. for Ralph and Sugar Rush for Vanellope), are in a pretty set routine in Litwak’s Arcade. Every night after the arcade closes, the two of them meet up for a root beer at Tapper’s and then go hang out in some of their other favorite games in the arcade (including a 1980s Tron video game!). While Ralph feels perfectly content with the way life is, Vanellope is wondering about if there might be something more to her existence than racing on the same tracks in her game every day.
When Ralph tries to help Vanellope feel better, he instead causes a major problem with the Sugar Rush game, leading to the breaking of the console’s steering wheel (he is Wreck-It Ralph, after all) and prompting Mr. Litwak to unplug the game. With all the citizens of Sugar Rush now homeless, the other characters of the arcade that we met in the first film, including Fix-It Felix, Jr. (again voiced by Jack McBrayer) and Sgt. Calhoun (again voiced by Jane Lynch), come to the aid of their fellow video game neighbors. Ralph and Vanellope then decide that they will try to get the required part to fix Sugar Rush and to restore things back to how they were in the arcade by traveling to the internet via the arcade’s newly installed internet connection.
Here’s the latest trailer that shows the film’s setup.
What follows is a classic small town kids traveling to the big city sort of story, just amped up a bit by turning many of the familiar websites we know and love (Google, eBay, Amazon, etc.) into places within the giant electric “city” of the internet. Ralph and Vanellope get in way over their heads, Ralph continues to, well, wreck stuff, and the two have a grand adventure of experiencing new things and figuring out what they want out of life.
New characters introduced in the film include the stylish tastemaker algorithm Yesss (voiced by Taraji P. Henson), tough-as-nails race car driver Shank (voiced by Gal Gadot), know-it-all Knowsmore (voiced by Alan Tudyk), and dark net gangster Double Dan (voiced by Alfred Molina). And in one of the funniest segments of the film, all of the Disney (and Pixar!) princesses are in the same scene at the same time and are voiced by all of the living actresses who voiced them in the original films: Ariel (Jodi Benson) from The Little Mermaid, Belle (Paige O’Hara) from Beauty and the Beast, Jasmine (Linda Larkin) from Aladdin, Pocahontas (Irene Bedard), Mulan (Ming-Na Wen), Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) from The Princess and the Frog, Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) from Tangled, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) from Frozen, and Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) along with the OG Disney princesses Snow White, Cinderella, and Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. Oh, and Merida (Kelly Macdonald) from Pixar’s Brave is there, too. Also making cameo or brief appearances in the film are some popular real-life YouTubers and internet celebrities, including Colleen Ballinger (aka Miranda Sings), Dani Fernandez, GloZell Green, Tiffany Herrera (aka Cupquake), and Flula Borg.
Director Rich Moore is back for the sequel. This time he is joined by co-director Phil Johnston, who also co-wrote the screenplays for this film as well as the original Wreck-It Ralph. The film is loaded with their trademark and witty humor, which I love. I admire so much how they are able to make situations and things funny without being cynical and without just dumping in jokes for the jokes’ sake. Rather, the humor, while extremely topical, always helps to propel the story and character development and it never feels out of place.
This is not only a great sequel, but an endlessly clever and entertaining film. With its compelling story, interesting characters, amazing visuals, and witty interpretations of how the internet might work if it were an actual place, huge kudos are due to all of the artists at Disney for creating something so beautiful to look at and so fun to experience. Taking this journey to the big city with Ralph and Vanellope is a total joy from beginning to end (and make sure to stay through the end credits, too).
I’m loving these posters, teaser trailer, and “teaser trailer reaction” for Pixar Animation Studios’ upcoming sequel Toy Story 4. I have a feeling that more content is on the way, so I’ll keep updating this post with new posters and videos as needed.
I’ve just recorded the inaugural Movies Past and Present podcast! In the episode, I discuss the new movies opening this Friday, November 9, 2018 as well as movies recently reviewed on the blog (specifically, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and Bohemian Rhapsody), and some classic movie info for the week.
I’m hoping to put it on some podcasting services, but in the meantime, here’s this week’s podcast. Thanks for listening!