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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Food in Film: Ugli Fruit

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

Ugli fruit

What do you get when you cross an orange, a tangerine, and a grapefruit? The Jamaican uniq fruit, trademarked as UGLI.

UGLI®️ fruit. Photo by GabeB, Flickr
I'm not certain if uniq fruit can be found in a film, but it gave me a good reason to watch Cool Runnings (1993) again. There's a scene where Derice Bannock (Leon) runs through a marketplace and we see some women carrying baskets of what appears to be citrus fruit. Could be uniq fruit, but I don't know.

Research revealed over 30 films shot in Jamaica, but I haven't seen most of them. So why write about uniq or UGLI®️ fruit?

Because the fruit is known for its unattractive skin, yet it yields juicy sweetness inside. It makes me wonder about foods we might refuse to eat because of the way it looks (or smells) and films we might not see because they don't appeal to us.

For years I thought blue-cheese dressing would be disgusting... but then I finally tried it, and loved it.

My husband humored me when I wanted to see Sullivan's Travels (1941). He was certain it would be boring, but watched it with me, anyway. You guessed it... the film is now his favorite comedy.

Do you have examples of foods and/or films you initially avoided but later loved?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Food in Film: Turkey

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

… Turkey

We had turkey for every holiday and family gathering when I was a kid. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter. Reunions. Turkey, turkey, turkey, turkey. By the time I was grown and gone, I was sick of that bird and determined I would only prepare turkey once a year on Thanksgiving.

Why not copy my daughter and do away with it altogether (see Lobster)? Because I gotta have my turkey sandwich! Bread. Butter. Mayo. Turkey. Sprinkle of salt. That's it.

If I go somewhere else for Thanksgiving and don't have claim on the leftovers... well, I prepare a small turkey roast at home, just to have my sandwich. That's my tradition.

Which means, unlike this scene in Free Birds (2013), at my house there is no pardon for the turkey.

Scene: Pardoned turkey.

For a fun side: Family gatherings create funny movie-worthy moments. I wrote about humorous Thanksgiving incidents in Life... the stuff comedy is made of.

If you have a few minutes, follow the link to that post, then return here to share a funny moment from one of your family feasts!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Food in Film: S'mores

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

… S'mores

I was fourteen years old and had gone on a picnic with a friend and her parents. As we stood near a small campfire, Ann asked if I wanted a s'more, and like Scotty Smalls, I had never heard of them. She showed me how to make one, and when I bit into it... oh my... heavenly!!

Here's the classic scene from The Sandlot, (1993):

HAM PORTER (Patrick Renna)
Hey, wanna s'more?

SCOTTY SMALLS (Tom Guiry)
Some more what?

HAM PORTER
No, no. You wanna s'more?

SCOTTY SMALLS
I haven't had anything yet so how 
can I have some more of nothing?

HAM PORTER
You're killing me, Smalls!

Scene: Introducing Scotty to s'mores

Have you ever tasted a treat that was so delicious you can recall details years later of where you were at the time you bit into it and angels sang?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Food in Film: Ramen

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

… Ramen

In The Ramen Girl (2008), Abby (Brittany Murphy), an American in Tokyo, seeks training from a ramen master, Maezumi (Toshiyuki Nishida). She learns technique, but her broth isn't right. Maezumi can't understand why Abby's broth always fails, so he takes her to his mother. Abby prepares ramen and serves it to her. The mother recognizes the problem...

MAEZUMI'S MOTHER
You cook with your head. Understand?
Your head...is full of noise.
You must learn...to cook from the
quieter place deep inside of you.

ABBY
But how?

MAEZUMI'S MOTHER
Each bowl of ramen that you prepare...
is a gift to your customer. The food that
you serve your customer becomes a part
of them. It contains your spirit.
That’s why your ramen must be an expression
of pure love. A gift...from your heart.

Her counsel haunts me. I cook with a head full of noise and it shows in my preparation and presentation. I hurry through the cooking process, and don't take time to make meals look attractive. I just plop it on a plate and serve it up, "Here's your grub."

What does that say about my heart? What does that say about me?

Don't get me wrong, I can prepare tasty meals and I've even won prizes at cook-offs, but think what I could do if I cooked with my heart!

The Ramen Girl - Trailer

Do you cook with your head, or a quiet and loving heart? 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Food in Film: Quiche

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

… Quiche

They say real men don't eat quiche, but if that's the case, James Bond is not a real man... in A View to a Kill (1985) he even makes quiche.

JAMES BOND (Roger Moore)
(removes quiche from oven)
Et voila. Quiches des Cabinet.

STACY SUTTON (Tanya Roberts)
Sounds interesting.
Mmm. What is it?

JAMES BOND
An omelet.


Scene: James Bond makes quiche.

My husband doesn't make quiche, but he does make omelets. After the kids moved out, he took over the tradition of serving breakfast in bed on Mother's Day. He serves me an omelet with a "quiche" on the lips.

Mother's Day Breakfast in Bed
Notice how attractively he arranged the fruit. I lack that flare. Tomorrow's post will have more on that topic.

If you have a favorite quiche recipe, please share!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Food in Film: Pancakes

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

… Pancakes

As in GIANT pancakes! When Buck (John Candy) makes pancakes for his nephew's birthday, he goes all out in major proportions... pancakes so large he has to flip them with a snow shovel. "This is where you separate the men from the boys." Gigantic goodness! (Uncle Buck, 1989)

BUCK
I hope you're hungry!
You should see the toast.
I couldn't even get it through the door.



The first time I made pancakes for my husband, he was filled with dread, unsure how to let me know he hated pancakes. I use the past tense because up until he had mine he hated them. Turns out that his mom made pancakes so thick he could barely choke them down, but mine were light and thin. 

My mom made delicious hotcakes (as we called them), and my favorite topping was her homemade chokecherry syrup. Oh how I miss that! 

How do you like your pancakes?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Food in Film: Old 96er

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

… Old 96er

While vacationing at a lakeside resort, Chet Ripley (John Candy) and his family dine at a Paul Bunyan themed restaurant. Chet orders the "Old 96er"--a 96-ounce prime aged beef steak--and if he consumes the entire thing, including gristle, his family will eat for free (The Great Outdoors, 1988).

A few bites of steak and I'm good. If I eat more it sits like a brick in my stomach. When the Old 96er arrives at the table, I cringe.

Scene: Chet eats the Old 96er.

We like to eat local cuisine while on vacation. Themed restaurants can be fun, and if we eat at a franchise restaurant, we select one that isn't available where we live. We don't want same-o, same-o.

Sometimes we select a diner based on the amount of cars in the parking lot, other times we ask locals for recommendations. Once in awhile we try a place simply because of an intriguing name, like Lizard's Thicket (South Carolina). And sometimes limited cafe options in a small town give us so-so foods but fun family memories, like Pickle's Place in Arco, Idaho.

I have visited all 50 of the United States and although I can't recall every dining experience, these restaurants (listed in alphabetical order) stand out in my memory:
If we visited your area, what eatery would you recommend?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Food in Film: Nacho Cheese-flavored Chips

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

… Nacho cheese-flavored chips

I was introduced to Doritos chips in the late 1960s, and that's my first recollection of eating like an addict. Seriously. I chowed on those chips until the bag was empty, and then devoured another bagful the next day, and the day after that. Finally, I reached a point where even the thought of eating Doritos made me sick, and I broke free.

But then... they came out with their nacho cheese-flavored chips in the mid-70s... and I had to try the new flavor, right?

So I can relate to the instant attraction the animals experience in Over the Hedge (2006) when RJ (Bruce Willis, voice) opens a bag of nacho cheese-flavored chips. Whoof. Cheese powder everywhere. They like it! And when Hammy (Steve Carell, voice) asks what is that, RJ responds:

RJ
That, my friend, is a magical combination
of corn flour, dehydrated cheese solids,
BHA, BHT, and good old MSG,aka:
the chip... nacho cheese-flavored.

The nuclear cloud of powdered cheese begins at approximately 0:40. Be careful. It's addicting.

Scene: Nacho cheese-flavor explosion.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Food in Film: Meatloaf

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

… Meatloaf

I like meatloaf. Homemade, restaurant made, I have rarely met a meatloaf I didn't like. When I visited Hawaii, early pregnant with our first child, surrounded by exotic cuisine, all I wanted was a meatloaf sandwich. (And my husband, the hero, helped me find one in Honolulu.)

For many years I prepared the dish using a new recipe each time. I enjoyed them all. And so did the kids... until they watched Ralphie's little brother in A Christmas Story (1983) whine, "I hate meatloaf." After that, my kids wouldn't touch the stuff.

Scene: Randy hates meatloaf.

That scene still irritates me!

While writing this post, I texted both kids, "Do you like meatloaf now?" My daughter thinks meatloaf is "just okay" but my son says he loves it. Awwww... that warms this mama's heart. He's my favorite child.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Food in Film: Lobster

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

Lobster

A few years ago, our daughter and son-in-law took an honest look at the their Thanksgiving meal and accepted that neither of them enjoy turkey and the traditional trimmings. They wondered why they were wasting their time and money on foods they didn't like. From that point on, they broke away from tradition and now their yearly feast features lobster.

They use a Better Homes and Gardens recipe: Broiled Lobster Tails with Garlic-Chili Butter. I'm glad the recipe is for the lobster tail. I have never cooked live lobster and probably never will.

In Julie & Julia (2009), Julie (Amy Adams) cooks her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French CookingThis scene validates my live-lobster squeamishness.


Scene: Julie cooks live lobsters.

I love lobster and it feels appropriate to say I "love" it since I don't abuse it. I don't eat lobster very often, and I don't over-eat it when I do. Every bite gets savored, and brings satisfaction.

Therein lies a key for me... when I take time to actually taste the food and savor it, I feel satisfied and eat less. I mentioned in yesterday's post that I want to learn to be finickier, like a cat, and only eat foods that taste amazing. Well, our daughter is like that, and I want my tastebuds to be like hers when they grow up.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Food in Film: Kibble

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

… Kibble

I went through a stage of pushing fiber on my family in the form of bran muffins and bran cereals. One morning my husband prepared a bowl of cereal with milk. He took a bite, then added heaps of sugar. It was still disgusting but he dutifully continued eating, thinking, I don't care if this is good for me, it tastes like crap!

Then the kids entered the kitchen and exclaimed, "Dad! Why are you eating the cat food??"

In my defense, I had put the bulk kibble in a plastic container and placed it on the floor of the pantry with the cat food!

In his defense, the plastic container happened to be a Tupperware cereal keeper.

He could learn from this scene in The Secret Life of Pets (2016): Chloe shoves her kibble aside!

I can learn from the scene, too: Be more finicky, like a cat. If a food doesn't taste amazing, don't eat it. (More on that topic tomorrow.)

However, part of this clip is painfully funny because I relate to Chloe at the refrigerator. She tries to resist eating the turkey, but gives in, gorges... and then... she spies... the cake....

Scene: Meet Chloe (Lake Bell, voice) 

So, fess up... do your eating habits resemble finicky Chloe or compulsive-eater Chloe? (Or both?)

Have you eaten dog or cat kibble? (Or both?)

Have you dutifully eaten horrid tasting food because it was supposedly good for you?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Food in Film: Jelly

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

Jelly

When my children were young, a friend showed me how to make what she called "poor man's jelly" using unsweetened Flavor-Aid with apple juice. The juice takes on the flavor of the powdered drink mix. She liked to make that type of jelly (jam) when fruit was too expensive or not in season.

I chose cherry flavor for my batch of jelly. It was a huge hit at home and disappeared in a short amount of time.

To this day I am uncertain why I never made it again. It tasted fantastic, after all, unlike the jelly that Dr. Nefario and the Minions churn out in Despicable Me 2 (2013).

Scene: The jelly factory.

Has that ever happened to you... make something delicious once and never make it again?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Food in Film: Ice Cream

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

Ice cream

In Forrest Gump (1994), Forrest (Tom Hanks) tells a man at the bus stop...

FORREST
The only good thing about being
wounded in the buttocks... is the
ice cream. They gave me all
the ice cream I could eat.

I'm not sure why a wounded butt merits all the ice cream he could eat. If it had been a tonsillectomy, I could understand. Still, when I consider ice cream in the movies, that's the scene that comes to mind. 

Scene: Forrest brings ice cream to Lt. Dan

And an honorary mention goes to Miss Congeniality, (2000) when Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) digs into a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream and declares she's going to get "chip-faced" (Miss Congeniality, 2000).

As a sugarholic in recovery, I miss ice cream. Sometimes I make a type of "instant" ice cream with fruit in a high powered blender, but I can't find a healthy version of vanilla. I miss that the most when I eat cantaloupe. I used to love cutting a cantaloupe in half, scooping out the seeds, and filling it with vanilla bean ice cream.

Do you know of a healthy version of vanilla ice cream (with no refined sugar and no artificial sweetener)? Please share!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Food in Film: Hot Dogs

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

Hot dogs

Hot dogs and movies... remember the commercials that played at the theaters years ago? Hot dogs dancing, singing, jumping into buns.

In You've Got Mail (1998) Kathleen (Meg Ryan) and Frank (Greg Kinnear) find seats in a movie theater as one such vintage commercial plays on the screen. They are involved in a tense discussion and a woman shushes them. Frank's response is classic!

FRANK
A hot dog is singing.
You need quiet while a
hot dog is singing?

Another classic hot dog scene: George Banks (Steve Martin) throws a fit in the grocery store because he "wants to buy 8 hot dogs and 8 hot dog buns to go with them," but the buns are sold with 12 to a package. He already feels nickeled and dimed to death with wedding expenses and doesn't want to pay for four extra buns! (Father of the Bride, 1991)

Scene: "I am removing the superfluous buns."

My favorite hot dogs are simply charred and placed in a bun with a bit of yellow mustard. I don't gorge on hot dogs, but the buns... well, let's just say I never worry about having more buns than franks... they'll get eaten. Thankfully, I can find packages of 8 buns.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Food in Film: Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

Grilled cheese sandwich

While snooping through a kitchen gadget store recently, I bought a set of "toaster bags" designed to prepare grilled cheese sandwiches with no butter or oil needed. Just put the cheese between two slices of bread, put it inside the bag, and slide it into the toaster. Ta-dah. Out comes a non-greasy toasted cheese sandwich. But, alas, out goes the finger-licking taste of the grilled bread.

After realizing I missed the grilled-ness, I tried to butter one side of my toasted sandwich. Still wasn't tasty. A grilled cheese fail.

Maybe Jack (Michael Keaton) could have revived my un-grilled cheese sandwich! (Mr. Mom, 1983)

Scene: Jack reheats the grilled cheese sandwich.
(at approx 1:23 of this clip)

I think an iron would have been a better kitchen gadget than my new toaster bags.

Do you have any regretted kitchen gadgetry?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Food in Film: Fried Green Tomatoes

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

Fried green tomatoes

I had never heard of this particular side dish until the release of Fried Green Tomatoes in 1991. We moved to the South a year later, and whenever I saw fried green tomatoes on a restaurant menu, I usually ordered them. Now we live in the West and they seem a rare treat.

Trailer: Fried Green Tomatoes

Last December, we went to Florida to visit our son and daughter-in-law. While wandering the Neptune Beach area, we went to the Flying Iguana, a restaurant specializing in unique tacos. One taco called "Dirty South" was filled with fried green tomato, black eyed "peaco" de gallo, pimenton cheese sauce, and baby arugula. It had me at fried green tomato.

And oh... my... goodness! The best taco ever!!

My mouth salivates right now as I type about the experience. I need to plan another trip to visit our son. Yeah, to visit him. (Ahem.) And if we happen to meander near the Flying Iguana, well...

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Food in Film: Eggplants

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...
Eggplants

Such an interesting plant with deep rich color, but consider the unique perspective of Prymatt Conehead (Jane Curtin) when she catches sight of them in the grocery store! (Coneheads, 1993)

Scene: Mrs. Conehead discovers eggplants.

My niece introduced me to a local eatery called Aubergine and Company, which serves delicious healthy foods. Aubergine is another term for eggplant, and I've enjoyed it in my meals there, yet for some reason I never think to prepare aubergine at home.

Do you like eggplant? If you have a favorite eggplant recipe, please share!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Food in Film: Donuts

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...

Donuts

I used to have a t-shirt emblazoned with, "Start every morning with a smile and a donut... the smile is optional."

My mom made dreamy donuts, and I welcomed the task of shaking the deep-fried treasures inside a sugar-ladened brown paper bag. Iced donuts were my favorite, though, especially with maple-flavored icing.

As a sugarholic in recovery it's been 16 years since I've had any such pastry, yet it's oddly satisfying to see Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) perched inside a giant donut, binging on donuts. He is, after all, only human.

NICK FURY
Sir, I'm gonna have to ask you to exit the donut.

Scene: Tony Stark's donut binge (Iron Man 2, 2010)

If I ever reach a point where I can truly love (instead of abuse) such foods, maybe I can get a shirt emblazoned with, "Start every morning with a donut and a smile... the donut is optional."

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Food in Film: Chocolate

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...
Chocolate
The food of love.

In the film Chocolat (2000), Vianne (Juliette Binoche) arrives in a rural French village and opens a Chocolaterie. Her shop location and timing seem like poor choices--across from a church at the beginning of Lent--but she doesn't worry. Her charm and chocolates eventually woo the villagers... except for Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina). He is determined to abstain from any pleasure, including chocolate.

I want to say I love chocolate, but sadly, this is a food I can easily abuse. Feed me an ounce and I'll take a pound. I find it much easier to completely avoid eating it. Don't worry, you can eat chocolate in my presence and it won't bother me. As long as I don't have it in my system, I'm fine.

Otherwise... this could be me... as Reynaud succumbs to the sweet temptation, followed by guilt, shame, and a sugar coma.

Scene: The Mayor attempts to kill chocolate.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Food in Film: Butter

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...
...Butter

Maybe it's my English roots, I don't know, but I grew up with butter on my sandwiches. My dad claimed butter (which he jokingly called "salve") helped the bread slide down the gullet.

I believe real butter is healthier than artificial substitutes, but it's certainly not the healthiest route when I have both butter and mayonnaise on turkey sandwiches. Even my peanut butter sandwiches are buttered.

However, as much as I love the creamy yellow goodness, I gag when Doug Madsen (Tim Allen) consumes a stick of butter in Wild Hogs (2007).

Scene: Doug eats butter.

Could you eat a cube of butter?

What's on your sandwich?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Food in Film: Apples

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A food addict and connoisseur of tasteful films reviews Food in Film, starring...
… Apples

In Pocketful of Miracles (1961), an apple a day seems to keep the bullets away from gangster Dave the Dude (Glenn Ford), but only if they are from Apple Annie (Bette Davis)... he believes hers bring good luck. When unexpected news triggers Annie into a drunken stupor and unable to peddle her apples, he helps her with a miracle.

Trailer: Pocketful of Miracles 

While growing up, it seemed the only apples we ate were Red Delicious and Yellow Delicious. Their names don't fit their flavor, so I was never keen on the "apple a day" theory. 

Years into my adulthood I finally discovered truly delicious apples... Fuji, Gala, Pink Lady, and Honeycrisp (my favorite). They might not bring me luck, but considering the bland variety I was raised on, flavorful apples seem miraculous! 


Note: Catch this gem on Turner Classic Movies May 14 at 10:30 PM (ET).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Theme Reveal: Food in Film



I am a sugarholic in recovery (16 years), but still a food addict. I eat healthy foods, but too much and too often. Several months ago, I came across this statement in a blogger's profile: "I love food…a little too much, and it led to obesity."

At first I thought I love food, too. But then I took pause.  Do I really? Do I really love food?

I pondered on the word love. If I love something, I take care of it, cherish it, notice it, feel gratitude for it...

In the animated film Ratatouille (2007) when chef Linguini (voice of Lou Romano) meets food critic Anton Ego (voice of Peter O'Toole), they exchange the following:

Linguini
(awed)
You're... Anton Ego.

Anton Ego
(sarcastic)
You're slow for someone in the fast lane.

Linguini
And you're... thin, for someone who likes food.

Anton Ego
I don't like food; I LOVE it.  
If I don't love it, I don't swallow.

Let's see... I stuff my face, hardly taste the food, and rarely feel satisfied with what I eat... so I keep eating. I use and abuse food, and that does not equate to love.

In reality, I need to learn to love food.

So, with that in mind, and since this is a movie blog, I'll consider my relationship with food--from Apples to Zagnut--referencing specific movies and scenes.

Join me... let's savor Food in Film!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Movie trailers.

Friday: Comic Relief

My husband and I saw a trailer for a movie we'd never heard of and it looked hilarious, so we rented it from Redbox. Then... we watched it. And discovered the only funny parts in the movie were ones we'd already seen in the trailer.

Yep, sometimes the trailer is better than the movie.

Sometimes the trailer misleads the film's theme (fyi... My Girl 1991, is not a fun kid's movie!).

And sometimes the trailer reveals too much. Which leads me to this humorous Studio C video: Movie Trailer That Spoils Everything. Enjoy!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Friendly Movie Characters

Writing Prompt: Write a blog post inspired by the word: friendly.

Friendly encounters with strangers lift my spirits. Such as when a woman in Italy showed me how to work the laundromat washer, and a gentleman who observed me gazing at a scenic landscape, stood beside me and expressed, "Bellissimo. Bellissimo."

I am grateful for friendly tall grocery shoppers who hand me items from the top shelf. And for the woman on the hospital elevator who held the door for me, suspecting, in my distraught state, I had gotten off on the wrong floor. She was right. And kind.

So, I feel a tender spot for friendly movie characters who reach out to strangers in their time of need. Often, their kindness has far reaching effects like when little Jenny offers Forrest a seat next to her on the school bus (Forrest Gump, 1994), or when Sister Husband (Stockard Channing) invites Novalee (Natalie Portman), a teenager with a newborn, to stay with her (Where the Heart Is, 2000).

But not all friendliness or kindness are the grand acts. Sometimes there's a friendly character in a minor role, like Marshall (Ossie Davis), a chauffeur who helps Joe (Tom Hanks) select clothes (Joe Versus the Volcano, 1990), or Sara's (Eva Mendes) nice boss, Max (Adam Arkin) in Hitch (2005).

Let's not forget the background extras, either... the waitress, cab driver, doorman, passenger on the train, pedestrian. Since the camera's focus is on the main action, it's easy to overlook what's going on around the main characters.

And therein lies the challenge. As I tried to think of specific examples to include in this post, I came up blank. So I've challenged myself to look for friendly acts in the background of the movies I watch in the next few weeks, and report back to this blog post.

Can you recall friendly background character action? Please share!

Writing prompt from:

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Take 34: 12 Angry Men

Tuesday: My "take" on a film.


12 Angry Men (1957)


"Life is in their hands--death is on their minds!"

An 18-year old boy is accused of murdering his father. The trial is over, the jury sent to deliberate. A "guilty" verdict would sentence him to death.

The initial vote: 11 (guilty) to 1 (not guilty). That one vote weighs heavily since the verdict must be unanimous. Thus proceeds arguments and re-hashed evidence as the jurors uncover (sometimes unwittingly) flaws in the prosecution's supposed open-shut case. 

Almost the entire film takes place in the juror's room, but you put 12 men in a hot stuffy room and add personality clashes, prejudices, differing backgrounds, and you get plenty of conflict. 

Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) does not claim the defendant is innocent, but insists there is reasonable doubt to his guilt. One person giving someone the benefit of the doubt can go a long way. I want him in my corner!


Notes on content:
  • Infrequent mild swearing
  • No nudity or sexual situations
  • Heated debate, arguments, contention

(Roger Ebert listed this film in 33 Movies To Restore Your Faith in Humanity. I posted about the book here.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Goodness of characters and people.

Disappointment and frustration with the film industry made it difficult to post anything on this blog for the past several months, but I recently purchased Ebert's Essentials: 33 Movies to Restore Your Faith in Humanity, and feel hope again.

In the introduction to his book, Roger Ebert states that he rarely cries at the movies, but when he does, "it's almost always because of the goodness of a character."

All of the films listed in the book "have one thing in common--the goodness of people."
"They are very different people and good in many different ways, but all of them, whatever the place in life that fate has led them to, try to do the best they can with their opportunities. Yes, that can restore your faith in humanity. We need more of these films and fewer weekend blockbusters entertaining young people with the slaughter and suffering of anonymous victims in action pictures."
More goodness of people and less slaughter... I wholeheartedly agree!

Of the 33 movies listed in the book, I've seen eight:
Apollo 13
Casablanca
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
The King's Speech
Lawrence of Arabia
October Sky
12 Angry Men
Up

The remaining 25 have been added to my list of films I want to see.

He writes about movies that can restore faith in humanity, but his book also restored my faith in filmmakers. Thank you Roger Ebert.