What I Loved in 2020 in Movies

In 2020, as I stated in my previous article, I consumed more media than I have in I don’t know how long. The thing was as far as movies go, not many were new for the year. Consequently, my favorite films were a good combination of films that were new to me, regardless of release date, revisiting classic favorites, and re-watching some films I’d seen but could barely remember.

Without a doubt my favorite new film I watched in 2020 was Netflix’s Enola Holmes with Millie Bobby Brown as the exceedingly clever and effervescent younger sister of the famed detective Sherlock, played by the equally talented Henry Cavill, who portrays the character at an early stage in his career with subtlety, warmth, sternness and eventual humility. There’s also Sam Clafin whose excellent as their haughty and no nonsense and bitter Mycroft, the wonderful Helena Bingham Carter as their unpredictable mother who goes missing and Louis Partridge as the sweet young man Lord Tewksbury whom Enola meets and becomes entangled in a plot that involves deceit and murder. But Brown truly is the shining star in this story that is exciting, mysterious, and charming, with a fun style that often involves breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience. Moreover we see a feminist approach to the period genre which is usually dominated by male protagonists showcasing how this young woman navigates a world that wants to only stifle her. If you enjoyed the humor and style of the Sherlock Holmes films with Robert Downey Jr. but also appreciate something a bit lighter, you’ll love Enola Holmes with it’s exceptional performances, rich production design and costumes and lively story. I LOVED THIS MOVIE!!

As far as 2020 releases go, the only other film I saw was one I thoroughly enjoyed: Netflix’s remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s, and Daphne De Maurier’s Rebecca. Although the original handles the tone and tense nature of the book better and overall is a better film, I still loved this remake. The casting is spot on and superb, and the production value beautiful with glorious European scenery and an appropriately vast and gothic manor in Maxim DeWinter’s estate Manderlay. This edifice has the proper mysterious and haunting beauty that transcends into the performances as the truth of what happened to Rebecca unfolds. Although we never truly feel the claustrophobic tension of the original, Lily James, Armie Hammer and Kristin Scott Thomas still capture the essence of these characters extremely well. It’s a most worthwhile film.

Although they weren’t released in 2020, there were some big releases I finally had the opportunity to watch. My favorite of these particular “new to me” films was undoubtedly Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. I’ve since learned reactions to be varied and divisive but I absolutely loved every minute of the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga, from the inspired journey for Rey, to finally seeing Rey, Finn and Poe on an adventure together, to the redemption of Kylo Ren, to the appearances of the legacy and legendary characters Luke, Leia, Han, Lando and others and finally to the epic battles for the fate of the galaxy and the souls of the characters. I really loved this new trilogy and the way the story captured and often mirrored the original trilogy’s story beats and essence, while offering something new especially with Rey’s character- a girl who found her family and place in the world and the Star Wars legacy as a shining symbol of these space adventure’s most timeless theme: hope.

On the Disney side of things, I really loved returning to Arendelle in Frozen 2, which offered up much of the same delightful and poignant character beats and transcending songs, along with truly breathtaking animation. The standouts were most definitely Elsa’s powerhouse extraordinary songs “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself” as well as Anna’s “The Next Right Thing” with all three being gorgeous and truly inspirational moments whose meaning are profound and can be emblems of motivation, finding your true self, courage, self love and peace. Although I liked the original better, this was a truly beautiful film.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Dumbo, which added upon the story of the original film with touching and thought provoking results, and a style and colorful way that Tim Burton does so masterfully. It shows us the power of believing in yourself no matter what, while also being a strong animal rights proponent showcasing the majestic nature of elephants and the beautiful animals they are.

As someone who loves Christmas movies, I was so happy that the new films I watched this year were also some of my overall favorite movie experiences for 2020. The Kurt Russell led Christmas Chronicles and its sequel were creative, colorful, heartfelt and hilarious with sweet stories and characters that brought something new to the a story that’s been depicted countless times with Santa and the North Pole, while also bringing us traditional warm and fuzzy emotions. Last Christmas was a sort of modern version of The Bishop’s Wife with an emotionally resonant heart that left me in tears and despite guessing where the story was going. Whether it was surprising or not, it still was a lovely and inspired look at living your life to the fullest with kindness, belief in yourself and the reminder to always look up. These films will definitely be on my movie watching list every year.

The Chris Evans directed Before I Go was a dreamy and romantic look at how one night between two strangers can be life changing. It was sweet, surprising poignant and a fine directorial debut for Evans. Game Night, a sort of adventure, comedy, mystery, was not only way better than I expected, but genuinely hilarious, full of unexpected twists and a bona fide edge of your seat flick with an excellent cast.

Two Dwayne Johnson led films thoroughly entertained me- the sweet and poignant The Game Plan about a professional football player who just learns he has a daughter was heartwarming with a surprising twist and just the right amount of corniness. Similarly, Jumangi: Welcome to the Jungle was so much funnier and entertaining than I anticipated it would be. Perhaps it’s because of my love of the original that I didn’t expect much but the film was brought into the modern era with humor and a surprising amount of heart.

The period drama fantasies From Time to Time and The Secret of Moon Acre were my most surprising watches. I had not heard of either but they were both lovely little films that showcase the importance of faith, forgiveness, acceptance and love with the former surely being a film for any fan of Downton Abbey as it’s helmed by creator Julian Fellowes and featuring several cast members. Both PG family friendly films are delightful.

I also loved two family friendly comedies. Troop Zero is about a group of misfits in the 1970s trying to win the Girl Scout esque contest so they can be included on a recording that will be broadcast into space. It was funny, quirky and makes you route for these determined children who may not be in the “in crowd” but whose uniqueness makes them all the better for it. Instant Family was also a thoughtful and eye opening look at the Foster Care system as a couple decides they want to foster and eventually adopt 3 siblings instead of one child, and have to deal with all the struggles and misadventures that comes with the territory. It’s played for laughs mostly but the poignant moments hit you right in the heart.

The Liam Neeson thriller starter pack as I am calling it took a two day period in 2020 with four films that all have a similar feel that Neeson has carved out for himself the past decade, most notably in Taken. But it was three others that enjoyed more. Unknown is the most mysterious and will keep you wondering what exactly is going on with a man whose life had been taken over by another, with his own wife denying his identity. Non-Stop is the most heart pounding and emotional as an Air Marshal tries to detect a threat to the lives of an entire flight of passengers. The Commuter is the most thought provoking as it begs the question- would you do even the unthinkable for the right price?

Ocean’s 8 was a fun caper and worthy continuation of the series featuring an all female team up consisting of a stellar cast including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Rhianna, Awkwafina, Helena Bonham Carter and Mindy Kaling. It’s stylish, fun with a few clever twists. Speaking of wonderful women, in the biopic Judy, Renee Zellweger captures the renowned Judy Garland’s voice, mannerisms and tragic demons. Judy is a sad and beautiful and heartbreaking look at the iconic entertainer.

Lastly, I was happy to finally see a film from one of my favorite actresses Audrey Hepburn. Wait Until Dark was tense and exceptionally performed as Hepburn must deal with ruthless thieves and murderers when she inadvertently gets caught up in their intrigues with one, in this case, disadvantage- she is blind. But when she turns this around and uses this to her advantage, she turns the tables into heart pounding and thrilling moments.

My other movie habits for 2020 included revisiting favorites and watching films I had seen but didn’t remember well. For the former I indulged in my favorites from 2019: the epic and brilliant MCU culmination Avengers: Endgame, the fantastic Captain Marvel, delightful reimagining Aladdin and the superb mystery Knives Out.

I revisited Woody Allen’s charming Magic in the Moonlight, a beautiful and breezy 1920s romp about magicians, mystics and charlatans in the champagne soaked and luminous French countryside. The Adjustment Bureau combines destined love, drama and science fiction in a unique and captivating way. The hilarious, stylish quick paced Leatherheads is reminiscent of 1940s screwball comedies with witty dialogue, a rousing score and incredible cast. And Hail Caesar is another look at classic Hollywood which is an equal part glamorous, realistic and interesting way of exposing the underbelly of tinsel town with equally dazzling and nostalgic homages to such actors as Esther Williams and Gene Kelly.

Finally, I took great joy in re-watching a childhood, and indeed all time time favorite movie of mine in a new way. I was beyond happy to see that Shout Factory released a special Blu-ray of The Wizard featuring over 30 minutes of deleted scenes and never before seen footage, an entertaining and informative audio commentary and beautiful and crisp 4K transfer. This film is so much more than the “Nintendo movie” and it was such fun revisiting it. You can read a more in depth review I did of the film on The Nerd Machine here: Rediscovering a Classic: The Wizard

As far as other films I watched the list is extensive:

Who Framed Roger Rabbit
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Legally Blonde
Win a Date With Tad Hamilton
Age of Adaline
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
The Ugly Dachshund
Miss Congeniality
Charade
The Rocketeer
Hidalgo
Murder on the Orient Express
Gosford Park
Second Act
The Blind Side
Playing it Cool
Sweet Home Alabama
Penelope
Secondhand Lions
Center Stage
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Vivacious Lady
On Moonlight Bay
Akeelah and the Bee
Fools Rush In
Something New
P.S. I Love You
One Fine Day
Scoop
The Skeleton Key
Red
Winchester
Arsenic and Old Lace
The Village
Secret Window
The Woman in Black
Clue
The Burbs
Midnight Lace
The Birds
Three Men and a Baby
Three Men and a Little Lady
Dial M for Murder
Rear Window
The Lake House
Speed
The Net
Red Eye
Taken 2
Phantom of the Opera
Mirror Mirror
Morning Glory
Now and Then
About Time
Angel Eyes
Only You
Ocean’s 11
Ocean’s 13
Sun Dogs
Thrill of a Romance
Leave Her to Heaven
Angel in the Outfield
Night Must Fall
Pillow Talk
Spider-Man Trilogy
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Operation Dumbo Drop
The Mummy
The Mummy Returns
Apollo 13
The Notebook
Howard
A League of Their Own
How Do You Know
He’s Just Not that Into You
Raising Helen
Something’s Gotta Give
Guarding Tess
Double Jeopardy
Laws of Attraction
Good News
Bewitched
Noelle
Poseidon
War Games
Stay Tuned
Pay the Ghost
Adrift
Sulley
Swiss Family Robinson
Enchanted
Chicago
Blast from the Past
A Christmas Story
Home Alone
Home Alone 2
Christmas in Connecticut
Miracle on 34th Street
The Santa Clause
Elf
White Christmas
Holiday Affair
The Bishop’s Wife
All I Want for Christmas
Fred Claus
Come to the Stable

What were you favorite films you watched in 2020 Let me know in the comments!

Favorite Baseball Films

October is upon us which means Autumn harvest and pumpkin patches and spooky Halloween feelings everywhere. But what October can also mean for the baseball fan is the thrill of playoff games. I grew up loving and learning from my father and brother and am now lifelong fan of the sport, and while I was not blessed with athletic ability, I did grow to love and appreciate the sport on multiple levels. In the spirit of that , of course what I think of is one of my other great loves: film. So when you combine the two, the possibility of knocking it out of the park is always there for me. No baseball film is created equally, nor are their objectives all the same. And, of course there are still some I have yet to see. Of those that I have, there are many that have become absolute favorites. And instead of simply ranking them, I thought I would showcase films that each capture some aspect of what the games means to the players and fans, the history of the game, and the intrinsic nature of what makes the sport ever timeless and beloved.

Youth & Baseball
The Sandlot (1993)

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As I said in my End of Summer Movie Night article,” No matter if you love or play baseball, this coming of age story of kids learning about this sport and themselves is a hilarious and often sweet look at childhood, its pangs and its simple joys, is one we can all can find something to relate to. Nostalgic, funny and rich with a small town American vibe, the summer spent with these young boys changes their lives forever, and the film has become part of our culture.” Forever we will quote it when we think of that summer classic treat s’mores with “You’re killing me Smalls!” The Sandlot so wonderfully captures what baseball can mean to young kids and emerging teenagers, as they form friendships and learn about discipline and self confidence as well as compassion- all things necessary to mentally prepare for the game- seen thorough a comedic and nostalgic lens.

The Bad News Bears (1976)

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Much like The Sandlot (which obviously drew upon some things from this film), The Bad News Bears captures what baseball can mean to children at a very trying and formative part of their lives as they learn and improve their skills, as well as their overall attitudes and belief in themselves. Some of these kids however are more, shall we say, “foul mouthed” or of the delinquent type, but at their heart they’re good kids who really are just misfits who have been pushed around and overlooked, overcoming the odds and actually becoming a contender in the Little League’s season and final game. Very much of its 1970’s era, funny and so re-watchable, The Bad News Bears wins for all these reasons as well as the best non-traditional use of Opera “Carmen’s” music ever.

History of the Game
The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

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This touching and thoughtful biographical classic stars Gary Cooper as the great Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig, one of the greatest men to ever play the game, who tragically succumbed to the rare disease that is now named after him. It shows his early life, falling in love with his wife, and his life as player up until he game where he gave the now famous speech about considering himself the luckiest man on earth. Understanding and loving the game should in my opinion constitute an appreciation for the great history of the sport which includes the lives of some of its greatest players. Lou Gehrig’s life was short but his impression was indelible.

42 (2013)

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One of the most important times in the history of baseball was when African American players, finally and rightfully joined the MLB, the first being the great Jackie Robinson, who in this film is wonderfully portrayed by Chadwick Boseman of Black Panther fame. Of course today, players of every ethnicity and nationalities play in the Major Leagues, and they would not be here without Robinson who paved the way for them all. We see his struggles and triumphs and the adversity and prejudice his faced every day and how his courage and strength of character led him to become of the greatest players of all time. Many scenes that display the horrific racism he was subject to are quite difficult to watch, but it’s important to showcase and recognize that hatred will never win. 42 is captivating and beautifully done.

Spiritual and or/ Deep Personal Meaning

Field of Dreams (1989)

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“If you build it, they will come” is a line many people who have never even seen this beautiful, poignant film even know. The reverent, almost hushed omniscient voice is haunting and yet hopeful, and to those who do know this movie, know how much this simple line encompasses. Field of Dreams is about a man who builds a baseball field in his corn field in Iowa, after hearing this voice and a team of players magically appear. Are they ghosts? Are they angels? What does it all mean in the grand scheme of things and to this man and his family and friends? I won’t spoil it for those who have yet to watch. But I will say that Field of Dreams profoundly demonstrates the depth baseball can have on an individual in terms of their relationships with those they love, personal fulfillment and growth. Fathers and sons, and spiritual individuals will most definitely feel akin to it. It’s simultaneously melancholy and hopeful, and grand and simple, but all together wonderful.

Angels in the Outfield (1951) & (1994)

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Although there are differences between the two versions of these films, at their hearts the same feelings and overall meaning are evoked. In the classic film, there is less slapstick and a romance element in addition to a orphaned child in need of a home; in the remake there are instead two children in need of a loving family. In both however, these children pray for the Angels and their coach, and those prayers are miraculously answered. What’s lovely is that in both films it’s not about winning or losing, although that is a big part of it. Rather it’s about how the sport was metaphor for the struggles in these people’s lives. They were low, dejected, even hopeless, and a miracle happens. But the true miracle is the kindness and love that forms in all of their lives. Watch both as they both are a hit.

Adversity & Triumph

The Natural (1984)

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A beautiful and poignant film, The Natural tells the story of Roy Hobbs, a man whose one mistake led him down a path in which his dreams of becoming the best player there ever was, alas never truly happen, at least not in the way or time frame he expected. As a naive 20 years old ace pitcher, he never makes it to the big leagues until 16 years later, no longer pitching but a hitter of extraordinary abilities who inspires and helps his team regain their confidence and lead them to the playoffs. With allusions to The Odyssey, this story is one about overcoming the past and learning from it, showcasing that as strong as Hobbs is, his true strength is his strength of heart, character, integrity and determination. With stunning cinematography, this golden hued film shows baseball in its true glories, defeats, and moments that are both about what the sport and players can mean to us all, and what it represents to the players themselves. The ending will no doubt bring forth chills and tears from many a viewer. And what is so extraordinary about this film is how the drama of the story Hobbs mirrors that of how the game itself so often plays out. It so often is with one team feeling defeated and dejected, metaphorically knee deep in the mud, but in that final inning no matter how down you are there is always hope for that lightning to strike one more time, if you have courage, determination and belief. The Natural, which also is filled with wonderful performances, direction and captivating score, is not only a amazing baseball movie, but stunning film all together.

The Rookie (2002)

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Based on a true story, The Rookie tells the story of Jim Morris, a high school teacher and coach, who once had aspirations for the Major Leagues but an injury ended his career. Now 36 years old his teams makes him promise that he will try out again if they win their championship, and lo and behold not only do they beat the odds and win, but Morris somehow is able to pitch better than he ever could before. And so begins an touching look at a man who amazes everyone, including his family and himself with his rise though the minors to finally a chance to pitch for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The fact that it’s based on a real story makes this all the more wonderful as we see that like baseball itself there is always a chance to live out your dreams- your ninth inning may come when you least expect it!

Romantic/ and or Fan Perspective

Fever Pitch (2005)

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Is this a romantic comedy or a baseball film? The answer to this question is that Fever Pitch is truly a bit of both. Unlike most of the other films on this list, this film’s main characters do not play the sport. Instead this is about a man who falls in love with a woman who is completely unknowledgeable of the game, and he brings her into this world and this part of his life- one that is very much all consuming that he wants to share with her, while also learning to balance it with the other aspects of their relationship. The romance may be the main plot point, but Fever Pitch captures so wonderfully what baseball means to its fans, especially those whose love of the game is a generational familial one or one shared with friends. We get to see the collective joy and elation that baseball brings to so many, and how wonderful it can be to share that with someone you love. Set during the Boston Red Sox road to the World Series in 2004, fans of the teams will surely feel a connection to this film, but truly this could be about any team or fan as the shared feelings and love of the game is a universal thing.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949)

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A charming and sweet musical set during the turn of the century and starring three incredible performers Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Esther Williams, this film may not be the most accurate depiction of the game of baseball, but it more than makes up for it in entertainment value and a unique look at the sport at a time period rarely depicted for the sport. Funny, romantic and rich with 1900’s Americana nostalgia, Take Me Out to the Ball Game follows two star players who moonlight as singers and the new female owner of the team who turns both their heads, and of course hilarity, and personal and romantic entanglements ensues, with songs and as well as a fun look at the team’s road to the World Series. Very much like many of the MGM musical of the time, you’re sure to have a grand time watching this one and delight in the full performance of the title song.

Everything

A League of Their Own (1992)

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This film is without a doubt not only my favorite baseball film, but one of my favorite films of all time. Some may disagree with that sentiment, which is fair, or believe that it is merely because of the strong female aspect of the story. And while that is a definite part of the film’s appeal and a strong characteristic, what makes A League of Their Own so special is that it encapsulates so much about so many aspects of life, touches on so many emotions and relatable things, and showcases everything about the game of baseball that makes it the great sport that it is. Following the short lived All American Girls Baseball League which was started the save the game while so many male players were fighting in World War 2, this story follows many stories most notably 2 sisters, the team they join The Rockford Peaches and their brash coach and former All Star. It’s story about sisterhood, the toils of those on the home front, the chauvinistic attitudes women faced, and determination and perseverance, filled with some these actors’ finest performances, stunning direction and masterful editing and musical score, all of which makes this one of those rare perfect films. But what makes A League of Their Own so wonderful in its depiction of the great game of baseball is that is shows the struggles that players go through on a daily basis emotionally and physically, and the toll it can take on the mind and the body. It showcases the drama of both each and every game and the ones that matter the most, where every out, every pitch, is such a tense moment in time. And above all it so wonderfully demonstrates what the sport means to players and fans alike in such a beautiful and poignant way in the elation and collective joy or absolute heartbreak, which can be found in one swing of the bat, or one play at the plate. The film’s most famous line is “There’s no crying in baseball” but certainly this film not only elicits just that,  but shows us something else: “Baseball is supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great!”

What I Need to Still See

No list of films is complete in my book unless it includes those of which you have yet to see but hope to someday. On that list for me are two starring Kevin Costner, the classic comedy Bull Durham as well as the drama For Love of the Game. Also on my list are the film about Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle attempting to break Babe Ruth’s home run record in a single season 61, the Jimmy Stewart classic The Stratton Story, and the recent biographical drama Million Dollar Arm.

 

What are some of you favorite films about Baseball? Did I mention yours? Let me know in the comments!!

 

Frozen 2 and Once Upon a Time Connections?

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If you are a fan of the first Frozen film and a Once Upon a Time fan, chances are you enjoyed seeing those characters pop up on the fairy tale series. Although, it wasn’t everyone’s favorite storyline, it was however overwhelmingly loved and almost every fan would agree that the characterizations were spot on and some of the best the show ever did. For me personally, the characters and storyline are definitely favorites, so much so that the story written almost became so embedded in my mind as what happened to the characters after the film concluded. So when I heard there was to be a Frozen sequel, I couldn’t help but have the Once Upon a Time story in my mind. Not that I actually thought that the film would do that as they are completely separate entities. Though Oncers, admit it- wouldn’t you love to see animated versions of Storybrooke, Emma, Hook, Snow and others. How fun would that be!

In all seriousness, now that we have seen three trailers for Frozen 2, I do delight in some similarities, visual and character wise, as well as other possible comparisons. Whether these are intentional or not and whether they drew inspiration and took cues from Once Upon a Time will probably be open for interpretation. But it wouldn’t be the first time a Disney film did so, which is funny given what the concept of the series is. But at the end of Season 1 of Once Upon a Time, which aired May 13, 2012, Emma awakens her son Henry from a sleeping curse with True Love’s Kiss, something that came as a surprise and proved the strength of True Love obviously exists between a child and parent. Two years later in 2014, Maleficent was released, and there was a similar moment where Maleficent, who had become a mother figure to Aurora, awakens the princess from her sleeping curse in the same way Emma had awoken Henry. Is this merely coincidence, or a case of drawing inspiration? Whatever the case may be, the similarities and possible similarities between Once Upon a Time and Frozen 2 are definitely present and are all positive, natural, and/or interesting ones.

Team Family

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From what we can tell from the two longer trailers for Frozen 2, it seems like Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff are a united family, venturing off on an adventure together, facing dangers of all sorts. It also seems as if Kristoff may be living in the palace, and possibly engaged to Anna by now. In Once Upon a Time that is very much also the case. Kristoff and Anna are engaged, and while Elsa and Anna are separated, Elsa and Kristoff grow closer as friends and future in laws. And when all three are together again, there is very much a sense of a united front- they are a family. Frozen 2 obviously also presents that. Now this similarity is most likely a case of both merely taking the story and characters in a natural direction from the first film. So these comparisons are not surprising at all.

Runes and Gravestones

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As we see in the above images, we see what Once Upon a Time would often do: gain inspiration from the source and create their own take on it. In this case, Once Upon a Time took an image we saw in the film of the Gravestones for Elsa and Anna’s parents, with what look like ancient Runes, and recreated them in a new scene where grown up sisters, now happily together lay flowers for their parents. What is interesting is something we see in Once Upon a Time’s sisters in this and other moments is then in turn seen in Frozen 2 creating some visual and character similarities.

Holding Hands

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Above we see in Once Upon a Time, Elsa and Anna hold hands as they approach their parents’ gravestones. In a moment in Frozen 2 we see something very similar as we see the sisters holding hands, standing before large stones that look very much that of the graves for their parents. Visually this is an obvious comparison to make. But what I love is that Frozen 2 seems to be taking that character beat of the affectionate gesture between sisters they really emphasized on Once Upon a Time, and continuing that in the second film. In the first film, Elsa became so petrified of hurting anyone with her powers and always kept her gloves on, so it is both a natural and lovely to see that after overcoming that, Elsa instead chooses to hold her sister’s hand as a sign of love and strength, no longer afraid but instead confident with her sister by her side.

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The Enchanted Forest

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This comparison is somewhat superficial but I still delight in it. In Once Upon a Time, Anna heads off in search of answers of what happened to their parents after discovering that they were seeking something that could rid Elsa of her magic (or so they thought). Anna boards a ship to a place known as Mist Haven, or more widely called by its inhabitants as the Enchanted Forest. In Frozen 2, Elsa and Anna’s father tells them a story about an Enchanted Forest, and years later, the sisters and Kristoff seem to venture off to this mystical place. That is where the similarity ends, but the same name thing is interesting.

Anna’s Sword Skills

 

In the trailer for Frozen 2 we see Anna wield a sword with a great deal of force and confidence, something previously unseen in the first film. Where we did see this before was in the version of Anna in Once Upon a Time. In the show, Anna comes upon a friend of Kristoff’s, David before he becomes the valiant Prince Charming. It’s here we see Anna, whom she says was taught to sword fight by palace guards, helps David and teaches him to wield a sword himself. That back-story was one beloved by fans, and the sequel’s Anna looks very much the same, remaining her brave and plucky self but with impressive sword skills.

Elsa’s Magic

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In the first Frozen film, Elsa’s magic is very powerful, but at times it seems she has trouble with control and has issues when her emotions get the best of her. In Frozen 2, it looks like that still may happen, but importantly it looks like there is also a sense of even more power and more control of that magic. That is something we definitely see on Once Upon a Time. In fact, her story involves Elsa realizing her sense of self and self love, one that doesn’t have to have Anna with her to calm her down. She helps Emma gain control of her powers and learn to accept herself exactly as she is, choosing to keep instead of rid herself of her magic. Might we see a similar story in Frozen 2? Given what we’ve seen in the trailers, I think the possibility is strong.

A Found Family?

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In Once Upon a Time, Elsa and Anna discover that not only do they have an aunt named Ingrid who like Elsa has ice magic, but also that their parents did not wish to get rid of Elsa’s magic as they had thought. Instead, in their final moments they left a message in a bottle where they confess about their past mistakes of not accepting Ingrid’s magic, and that it should have be nurtured and cherished. Their Aunt Ingrid, whose anger over her sister’s “betrayal” led her to become a villain, sees the error of her ways and sacrifices herself to reverse her deadly spell of shattered sight. Anna and Elsa’s found family may not be with them in the physical sense, after that, but their spirits and what they learned from them remained.

After watching both trailers for Frozen 2, the plot is still somewhat hard to distinguish but I think there is a strong chance that the voice Elsa hears calling to her, and the people they meet in the Enchanted Forest could very well be family they never knew existed, just like Once Upon a Time’s Ingrid, as we see what is most likely the King and Queen in the Enchanted Forest as children. The older leader might even be a villain in the same way Ingrid was. The plots will obviously not be identical and this is pure speculation, but I do think a great deal of Frozen 2 could deal with not only the origin of Elsa’s magic, but the discovery of what happened to their parents, and possibly even others who possess magical abilities.

A Redemption for Hans?

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Lastly, although the reappearance if Hans is not a guarantee, Santino Fontana who voiced him in the first film, is listed among the cast. What could he be doing in the film? Would he continue to be a villain, or will be do what so many Once Upon a Time villains did and find redemption? This was commonplace of the series, but it isn’t really something Disney Films have done much. Most villains either die or are no longer seen again, remaining their evil selves. I actually think it would a welcome change to see a villainous character change for the better.

The similarities between Frozen 2 and Once Upon a Time are most definitely there. Although some comparisons are simple and merely visual, others have a stronger connection. Whether even more plot connections exist remains to be seen. We shall find out this coming November. Whatever the case, Once Upon a Time’s Frozen interpretations will remain beloved, and any and all similarities that are present in Frozen 2 will be looked at with fondness and smiles in what is sure to be an exciting and beautiful film.

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Top 10 Favorite On Screen Pirates

Avast ye matey’s, yesterday be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so I thought I would look at all of the pirates that have ever swash buckled their way into our hearts and count down my favorites from film and television. Some are dastardly villains, some are humorous foes, some are romantic heroes, and some are every thing in the book. But all definitely have a flair for the dramatic, a distinctive personality and have tongues and wits as sharp as their swords!

10. “Captain Hook” portrayed by Hans Conried (Peter Pan)

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This version of the classic character may be a codfish, and one we can find humor in more so than be frightened of, like other Disney villain’s. But make no mistake, this pirate may often be fooled by his nemesis Peter Pan, but also has his moments of intelligence, clarity and downright evil, and against those who are very young including Tiger Lily, the Darling children and Pan himself. Thank goodness Tinkbell’s bravery out shined her vanity, and in the end Peter was saved and the Crocodile will continue to give the captain what he deserves.

9. “Blackbeard” portrayed by Charles Mesure (Once Upon a Time)

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Much more of villain than his on screen nemesis’ Killian Jones, this dastardly pirate looks more like a traditional version of Captain Hook than the show’s actual Hook with his long red coat and dark long hair. He is elegant, deceitful, but also quite funny, with a great chemistry between Mesure and O’Donoghue to boot, making this pirate one of the show’s best recurring characters.

8. “Captain Hector Barbossa” portrayed by Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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The brilliant chameleon of an actor Geoffrey Rush manages to take a wicked, typical pirate villain and turn him into a well layered and compelling character that is more than villain throughout the course of the franchise. He is killed, then resurrected and continues in his cunning pirate ways, only for us to discover that there is an actual heart that is vulnerable and sympathetic to others, from the couple he married aboard his ship during an epic battle, to the daughter he never knew he had. I can’t believe I ended up crying over Barbossa, but I did!

7. “John Merrick” portrayed by Gabriel Byrne (Shiprecked)

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A pirate who is most definitely dark and evil, this understated pirate carries out his sinister work in the shadows and in disguise as the Naval Captain he murdered. Taking over a crew of good, hard working sailors, he slowly poisons a good Captain, delves out harsh punishments and is willing to hurt the young and innocent, all in the name of money. What a true pirate definitely was in reality, this is a grounded and effective character indeed.

6. “Elizabeth Swann” portrayed by Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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The beautiful Elizabeth was born into a world of propriety and wealth, but all her life longed for adventure and was drawn to more. Make no mistake, the girl who showed us all that life is more than corsets, gowns and arranged marriages, learns inner strength as well as the ways of a Pirate life and found her way as both a capable woman and swashbuckling pirate in her own right. Eventually she is elected Captain Swann, a pirate King leading all of the crews of the world in an epic battle for freedom. She is fearless, strong and willing to do anything for those she loves. But like her eventual husband Will, always remains on the side of honor. Her story was one of resilience and patience as she is finally reunited with her beloved Will permanently, True Love knowing no bounds.

5. “Captain James Hook” portrayed by Dustin Hoffman (Hook)

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There is not a more traditional version of J.M. Barrie’s Captain Hook more brilliant than Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of the villain. Many years after Peter Pan left Neverland and had a family, Hook kidnaps Pan’s two children, wanting revenge and war against the “boy’ who cut off his hand and threw it to the crocodile. An evocative, delight of a film, what makes it stand out is definitely this Hook who is sardonic, sour, slimy and yet charming. He is funny but never ridiculous, cunning and resourceful but not without his moments levity. Hoffman’s Hook is dastardly perfection.

4. “Will Turner” portrayed by Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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The more traditional heroic pirate of the series, comparatively, the handsome and steadfast William Turner, son of the pirate “Bootstrap” Bill Turner, didn’t even start out in this role. Beginning the franchise as a humble blacksmith who turned his nose up at those filthy, low life pirates he encountered as he vowed to rescue his love Elizabeth from, he soon became the ideal combination of pirate and hero as he teamed up, and sometimes became at odds with, Jack Sparrow, Barbarossa, Davy Jones and a vast crew of miscreants. However, he always remained on the side which was honorable and in the best interest as those he loved. Will Turner is the pirate who went on a great journey all in the name of love and family.

3. “Captain Jack Sparrow” portrayed by Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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Is there any other character like Captain Jack Sparrow? I had seen many a pirate film, and had been on the ride in which the film is based on countless times. But when Jack first appeared on screen in the 2003 film, it was an indicator of exactly the kind of unique, wonderful and instantly beloved character he would become. Standing tall on the mast of a ship, the salty sea wind in his face, he looks proud and resolute, until we see he is on a modest boat that is sinking in which he sails right into the dock on the boat’s final moments afloat. He’s hilarious and unlike any other pirate we’ve seen. The seemingly perpetually drunk Captain Jack Sparrow is a character we can laugh at and root for despite his look out for himself ways. The franchise would not be what it is without this clever, funny, and resilient pirate, who simply wants freedom, respect, and above all rum.

2. “Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts” portrayed by Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride)

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As Wesley’s portrayer Cary Elwes so perfectly stated recently, there’s a shortage of perfect films out there, and I would say that not only is The Princess Bride one of those films, but one of the main reasons is due to the character of Westley, and the incomparable performance by Elwes. After being presumed dead by his True Love Buttercup, poor farm boy Westley returns as the Dread Pirate Roberts, ‘kidnapping” (but truly rescuing) the princess and only revealing himself after a tumble down a cliff and an exclaim of those famous words of I Love You, “As You Wish.” Like the film itself, this pirate is charming, funny, and full of line after line of wisdom, truths, and flair. Westley is strong, romantic, brave, and all in all the perfect fairy tale pirate hero.

1. “Killian Jones/Captain Hook” portrayed by Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon a Time)

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Was there any doubt as to who my number 1 pick would be. The dashing rapscallion of the beloved fairy tale series didn’t appear until Season 2, but soon became not only a fan favorite, but one of the best characters in the show with the brilliant performance by O’Donoghue and excellent character and story development. Going from a charming villain whose allegiances often simply aligned with whoever he could benefit the most from, this version of Hook, real name Killian Jones, became a fully fledged romantic hero, helping to save Storybrooke and many characters numerous times and winning the heart of the show’s leading lady, the Savoir herself Emma Swan. His story ended in a beautiful way as he retained his pirate flair, charm, and intelligence, while becoming a hero, husband and father. This modern version of Captain Hook is one for the ages!

What are your favorite on screen pirates? Did I mention some of yours? Let me know in the comment section!!

 

Shipwrecked Image Credit (x)

End of Summer Movie Night

The end of summer may be drawing near, but for those us who want to hold onto that sweet summer fun just a bit longer, one of the best ways to do this is with a fun “Summer Movie Might.” Whether it be in the comfort of your own home, at a special screening in the park, on a television, or from a projector, these are some films that are perfect reflections and companions to the summer season, whether it be in the heart of it or in those sweet final days.

Classic

The Parent Trap (1961)

The original and superior film, this Disney classic starring Hayley Mills, Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara is a funny, sweet and naturalistic classic look at two girls who meet at summer camp and realize they are sisters, separated and each going with a different parent when they were just babies. That realization is quite sad when you examine it, but when they devise a plan to switch places in hopes of getting their parents back together, in turn it becomes a heartwarming and often hilarious film. Taking place in the summertime, the scenes at Camp Inch and at the father’s home in Monterey, California are rich with warmth, sunshine and sweetness of a more carefree era.

Gidget (1959)

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A slice of Americana, 50’s and 60’s era summer nostalgia, Gidget starring Sandra Dee, James Darren and Cliff Robertson is both adorable, light-hearted fun about the surfing craze and beach lifestyle of the time period, as well as a surprisingly poignant look at the complexities, confusion and pangs of being a teenager on the cusp of adulthood when it comes to love, sex, and what you want out of life. It’s simply seen with a lens that is less explicit than modern cinema, but still relatable. Of course at its core, the adventures of Gidget, Moondoggie and the Big Kahuna  are sweet summer fun.

Summer Magic (1963)

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Another oh so sweet lesser known Disney family film, is for those with a love for old fashioned sensibilities and way of life. Following a family who have fallen on hard times after the death of their father, they find happiness again in the Yellow House in the provincial town of Beluah, Maine where life is slow, and the people are friendly and generous. This may not be for everyone, but it’s rich with nostalgia of a bygone era. Taking place from summer all the way to Halloween, Summer Magic is a sweet showcase of overcoming loss and finding beauty in the little things from serenades on the front porch, to games of croquet and carving pumpkins.

Romance/Drama

Letters to Juliet (2010)

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Lovely little tale for the hopeless romantics, this film is not only beautiful in the sun-kissed splendor of Italy, but in the story of Sophie and the “Juliet” she helps to find her long lost love, while also finding a little romance of her own. What makes this film so lovely is that it showcases a love story that is about those who have lived a long life and yet their hearts still beat for each other after many years apart. A fine cast including Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave, this modern tale of love in Verona is the perfect romantic summer delight.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series (2005, 2008)

Touching, poignant, relatable interweaving stories of four best friends as they make the transition into young adulthood, going through the trails and tribulations of young love, the loss of loved ones, personal struggles, and insecurities, all while sharing a miraculous pair of jeans that somehow magically fits all of them. Over the course of two summers, these four young women discover so much about themselves and life and realize that their bond, their sisterhood is an unbreakable one, and that together, or apart, true friends will always be there to offer love, support and comfort as soft as a well worn pair of jeans.

Musical

La La Land (2016)

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City of Stars, are you shining just for me? A bittersweet love story, a nostalgic, colorful musical splendor, a love letter to the beauties of Los Angeles, La La Land is all that and more. If you are a lover of the old fashioned musical and a modern romantic story, then this is the perfect combination. It makes one want to head to LA and see all of its local treasures. It may be a bit of a fantasy, but it’s one wrapped in love, joy and the thrill of summer days and nights filled color and music. And who does not love the effervescent duo of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling who shine as brightly as that city of stars.

Summer Stock (1950)

Gene Kelly and Judy Garland made three films together for MGM, and this one is by far the sweetest, funniest, and brightest of the bunch. A summer stock company led by Kelly descends on Garland’s farm, as her sister, often carefree and thoughtless, brings them to rehearse their upcoming production. Of course, mayhem ensues and well as the romantic entanglements that so often fill these type of musicals are presents, as well as lovely musical numbers, incredible dancing, the fantastic chemistry between Garland and Kelly, and just wondrous summertime fun for all.

Adventure

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

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The first (and still the best) in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is a perfect, swashbuckling adventure. Filled with humor, romance, a creative story, incredible cast, and characters that have become so a part of our culture, The Curse of the Black Pearl is not only a great “popcorn” flick for a summer night, but ones that never seems to grow old, no matter how many times we watch and are transported to the exotic and beautiful Caribbean, frightening battles of moonlight crews of skeletons, romantic tension of young Elizabeth and Will, and hilarious, captivating Captain Jack Sparrow, the clever rapscallion we all adore.

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

The strength of the human spirit, the importance of love and family, and the admiration of ingenuity and bravery are what make this story of a family who are stranded on an island truly special. They must learn to adapt to this new world while encountering wild animals and fending off cutthroat pirates in this Disney classic based on the book of the same name. It’s a fun and touching family adventure film that remains a lovely, timeless classic.

Sports

The Sandlot (1993)

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No matter if you love or play baseball, this coming of age story of kids learning about this sport and themselves is a hilarious and often sweet look at childhood, its pangs and its simple joys, is one we can all can find something to relate to. Nostalgic, funny and rich with a small town American vibe, the summer spent with these young boys changes their lives forever, and the film has become part of or culture. Forever we will quote it when we think of that summer classic treat s’mores. If you don’t know the line, “You’re killing me Smalls,” do yourself a favor and check out this hoot of a summertime family film.

Bend it Like Beckham (2002)

Soccer, or as it is known in the UK where this film is set, Football, may not be a sport we all are familiar with. But the story of two young women who want so much to play while dealing with families who do not necessarily approve or understand is one that remains always relatable and poignant. Both dealing with cultural and gender issues, breaking free from the norms, and coming out triumphant and happy is a story that we should always delight in, celebrate and encourage to see more of. Bend it Like Beckham is a perfect film to end the summer with.

What are your favorite films to watch in the summer? Did I mention some of yours? Let me know in the comments!!