104 New To Me Movies: Austenland(2013)


Title: Austenland
Release Year: 2012
Directed By: Jerusha Hess
Written By: Jerusha Hess & Shannon Hale, From the Novel by Shannon Hale
Recommended By: Valerie Hardt, Alessandra Vecino-Gazabon (If you don’t know who Aless is read, just…any other era of this blog. She’s been pushing this movie on me for YEARS) Also, It’s Bridgerton week, and I wanted some Regency fantasy goodness!
Star Rating: 4


Sometimes it feels like there are movies that were just made for me. A quiet, small casted, romantic comedy about Jane Austen fandom, starring Keri Russel, Jennifer Coolidge and Bret McKenzie? DID I MAKE THIS MOVIE UP?

No, I didn’t make Austenland up, but I very much enjoyed it. The movie centers around Jane Hayes (Russell), an Austen obsessive who spends her life savings to go to an immersive Austen experience to “get it out of her system” and become a more normal well adjusted person. It gets out of her system pretty quickly, when she realizes that the fantasy she’s had all her life is pretty dull. Luckily that dullness is broken by equally bored coachman Martin (McKenzie) and actual chemistry from the experience’s resident Darcy, Mr. Nobley (JJ Field). There’s a few twists from there, but you can probably guess how this goes.

I loved this movie. It was so nice and fun, and comfy. I’ll probably be watching it again at some point.

And of course Jennifer Coolidge is perfect and hilarious as she always is. Oh! And Jane Seymour is also in this movie. And she is also great.

This is a good movie.

What I Was Drinking

I was back to my Sparkling Vouvray. I’d opened a bottle for Bridgerton. ‘Twas nice.

104 New To Me Movies: Crimewave 1985


Title: Crimewave
Release Year: 1985
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Sam Raimi, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (Yes, those Coens)
Recommended By: Blank Check With Griffin And David
Star Rating: 3.5


Every once in a while, I am reminded that for all of my normal presentation, the country club family weddings, prep school education, summers at the Jersey shore and pink hued cocktails, I’m not actually a normal person. I have a broken nerd brain. And not even an average broken nerd brain. It’s one that’s broken by years of classic television and movies that my nerdy peers didn’t care about.

I was reminded of that as I watched Crimewave because I was utterly delighted by it. It just hit my stupid broken brain in a way that I couldn’t explain. It was like a child’s imagining of what an old fashioned movie is, with Looney Tunes violence and weird night clubs and strange voices.

It’s hard to review or describe Crimewave, because it’s not a movie that makes any sense at all. But I was SO HAPPY while I was watching it. And once again, I am just completely floored by Bruce Campbell here playing smarmy heel Renaldo. (Sure he’s a heel, but he’s not such a bad guy.)

I loved Crimewave, and there are probably only like three people I would recommend watch it and two of them are blood related to me.

What I Was Drinking

Ropiteau Bourgogne Pinot Noir, which is a good strong Pinot Noir, if you’re into that sort of thing. I was using to to braise beef, which is why I opened the bottle. It’s not my favorite and I probably won’t buy it again, but it did it’s job.

104 New To Me Movies: Driving Miss Daisy (1989)


Title: Driving Miss Daisy
Release Year: 1989
Directed By: Bruce Beresford
Written By: Alfred Uhry, from his Play
Recommended By: Best Picture Winner 1990
Star Rating: 3


Another Best Picture winner with a weird reputation! Here we go. This time it’s because it’s a movie about a black servant and a cranky old white lady that beat Do The Right Thing easily one of the greatest movies ever made about race relations.

Driving Miss Daisy is…fine. I gave it three stars because it’s deeply watchable. It tells the story of an old Jewish widow in Atlanta in the 50s, (Jessica Tandy) who’s son (Dan Ackroyd) hires her a driver, Hoke, (Morgan Freeman) when she loses her car insurance, and over the course of the years they bond and grow and don’t, and I dunno, it’s Atlanta is the 50s, and things kind of suck for both Daisy and Hoke.

Tandy and Freeman are really wonderful in the film, subtly shifting their dynamic as they become more comfortable and as the world changes around them. Ackroyd is also good, and his snotty, trying to assimilate into Christian society wife is played by Patti LuPone, so HEY! It’s Patti LuPone! Being kind of bitch! I like that.

Overall it’s an interesting character study that isn’t particularly great but very easy to watch and somewhat interestingly written. Incredibly well performed.

What I Was Drinking

Just water. I’m fighting a monster cold. No alcohol because then I can’t take Nyquil.

104 New To Me Movies: The Evil Dead (1981)


Title: The Evil Dead
Release Year: 1981
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Sam Raimi
Recommended By: Blank Check With Griffin And David
Star Rating: 4


First and foremost, I understand that The Evil Dead is basically a masterpiece, that it was made for the same amount of money I pay for rent every year and that it’s a beautiful tribute to what a buncha kids who just love movies so much can do when they decide to do it.

It also scared the ever loving crap out of me to the point where it took me four days to even start writing this review.

I’ve gotten better about watching and especially reading horror in the past few years, but deep in my soul, I’m still that girl who found Escape From Witch Mountain too intense in middle school and made my mom pick me up from my friend Laura’s sleepover birthday party because I was worried about having nightmares. (I know OK?)

The Evil Dead is about five friends who go to a creepy old cabin in the woods. While there they discover some artifacts that lead to them awakening an ancient evil that takes each of them in turn, save for the heroic and stalwart Ash, played by the legendary Bruce Campbell. Campbell isn’t a legend yet, just a kid from Michigan who agreed to be in his high school friend’s movie, but he’s really great in this. He’s vulnerable and kind and strong all at once. It’s really impressive.

Anyway, as a film, I give The Evil Dead 4 stars because it’s truly a remarkable work. I will never watch it again, because I am a big fraidy cat and I never want to deal with how scared I was from watching a movie again!

What I Was Drinking

I made Blue Hawaiins, because I realized I was this close to being finished with my bottle of Blue Curacao. I’m glad I did because that stuff is disgusting except in this one drink and it was a bottle that took up a bunch of space on the bar.

104 New To Me Movies: Rebecca (1940)


Title: Rebecca
Release Year: 1940
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock
Written By: Robert E. Sherwood & Joan Harrison, From the Novel by Daphne DeMaurier
Recommended By: Best Picture Winner 1941
Star Rating: 5


“I dreamed last night I went to Manderley again…”

I’ve reviewed both Daphne DeMaurier’s novel and the 2020 adaptation of same. I also knew that Hitchcock’s version had a reputation as a “perfect movie” and I was reasonably sure, I’d at least seen the back half on TCM at some point.

This movie rules. It is such a good adaptation of DeMaurier’s book. Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier have sexy ass chemistry from their first moment on screen together. Judith Anderson is fantastically creepy as Mrs. Danvers, and obviously, Hitchcock’s ability to make even the most mundane feel terrifying just super suits this material.

Rebecca is a tricky story, the horror is so interior and odd. The hero did in fact murder his wife. (Even if it turned out she was manipulating him to do so, so that she wouldn’t die of cancer) The heroine is kind of a whiny little mouse. But it’s so thrilling and compelling. It’s spareness only adds to it’s ability to propel you forward through it.

What I Was Drinking

I made frose! Does it go well psychological drama? Kind of! But mostly I was just psyched it’s finally warm out. Freeze a cup of rose, squeeze one lemon, add a shot of limoncello and a shot of simple syrup to a blender along with the frozen wine. Blend until smooth.

104 New To Me Movies: The English Patient (1996)


Title: The English Patient
Release Year: 1996
Directed By: Anthony Minghella
Written By: Anthony Minghella
Recommended By: Best Picture Winner 1997
Star Rating: 2


There are very few things that annoy me more than when the film bro consensus is right about a movie. But oh boy, does The English Patient suck.

I should love this movie. It’s so much stuff I love. The collapse of the British Empire during World War II, and the ennui of the white people who it’s collapse effected, tragic romance, sumptuous costumes and interpersonal drama writ on the world stage.

But this is a bad movie, that actors who I really love are bad in. Ralph Fiennes. Bad in this movie. Willem Dafoe. Bad in This movie. Colin Firth. Bad and UNDERUSED in this movie. Juliette Binoche and Naveen Andrews, pretty good but also underused. (If this movie had been about their characters I would have liked it more.)

It’s ploddingly structured, over acted, over edited, and to put insult on to of injury beat Jerry Maguire and Fargo, actual great movies.

I sat on my couch just furious about how bad this was. And that everyone was right about that.

What I Was Drinking

Bellini Chianti, this is a pretty straight forward weekday wine. It’s not really my favorite, but I’d made lasagna and it’s good for that.

104 New To Me Movies: Chariots Of Fire (1981)


Title: Chariots Of Fire
Release Year: 1981
Directed By: Hugh Hudson
Written By: Collin Welland
Recommended By: Best Picture Winner 1981
Star Rating: 3.5


The best sports movies aren’t about the sport at all. Which is good news for Chariots of Fire because it’s about track and track is really really boring. (I say this as a former long distance runner. I love running, but boy is it dull) But Chariots of Fire, which is about the British Olympic track team for 1924. But it’s focus is split mainly between Harold Abrahams, who dealt with all that fun casual antisemitism of the era, by becoming driven to be the fastest man alive, and Eric Liddell, a Scottish minister who refuses to run on the Sabbath which is a problem, because that’s when his gold medal race is.

It’s also about Britain between the wars, class stratification, Gilbert and Sullivan and all kinds of other stuff that’s just catnip to me. And it’s about sports and the human spirit and how it’s lifted up by them. It has a few fun training montages. (One of Abrahams’s is set to “He Is An Englishman” from HMS Pinafore!)

It’s an effective film and a pretty fun one to watch. I was nervous it was going to be a bit of a slog, since it’s famous for beating Raiders Of The Lost Arc in the best picture race. And while it is most certainly, boring in comparison to the most exciting movie ever made, it’s not a boring movie.

What I Was Drinking

Borrasca Cava, it seemed like the kind of flick that called for Champagne. I didn’t have any champagne, but I did have Cava, which is Spanish champagne. HURRAY!

104 New To Me Movies: The Lost Weekend (1945)


Title: The Lost Weekend
Release Year: 1945
Directed By: Billy Wilder
Written By: Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder from the novel by Charles R. Jackson
Recommended By: Best Picture Winner 1945
Star Rating: 4


I’m a little obsessed with Billy Wilder. If I had to pick any pre 1970s director as a favorite it would be Wilder. He was stylish and clever and fun in a way that I just absolutely love. He made my favorite movie, Sabrina, and a few other greats, you know, like Sunset Boulevard and The Seven Year Itch.

Meanwhile, there’s a lot of his movies that I just haven’t seen. And this happened to be one of them. Considered the first mainstream depiction of alcoholism that makes it feel real and dangerous, The Lost Weekend also has a lot to say about the sad male artist, (none of it flattering) pride, and redeeming love.

We’ve got more flashbacks and non linear structure going on here, as Don, the writer in question looks back on how he got to the point where he’s pawning his girlfriend’s coat to buy a few drinks at the corner bar. We learn about the “two Dons” and how there has to be a way for him to stop drinking.

It’s an engrossing film, if a bit didactic. But Wilder does things with the straightforward script and his actors that’s just undeniable. He was so good at making even the most archetypal characters feel like real people. And I’m glad to know it.

What I was Drinking

I didn’t drink while watching The Lost Weekend. That would be heinously perverse.

104 New To Me Movies – The Hurt Locker (2008)


Title: The Hurt Locker
Release Year: 2008
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow
Written By: Mark Boeal
Recommended By: Best Picture Winner 2008
Star Rating: 4


I’ve watched a lot of masterpieces these past two months. And it’s been great. The Hurt Locker was always a movie that I’ve been vaguely embarassed about not seeing. It looks at the Iraq War with nuance! It introduced the world to Anthony Mackie! IT WAS THE FIRST MOVIE A WOMAN WON BEST DIRECTOR FOR!

But, I just hadn’t gotten around to it. Since I’m sticking with Best Picture winners for the month, I figured I should. And I’m glad I did. I needed to marinate on it a little bit, but it’s an incredible film. It’s warm and human in a way I really didn’t expect. (Talking about it with friends on Saturday, my friend John said, “Great film, I never need to watch it again.” An excellent point that I totally get.)

The Hurt Locker tells the story of a the end of a tour of duty for a bomb squad in Iraq. Jeremy Renner (watching this movie absolutely explains why he is a thing) plays Sergeant Will James, who is basically, addicted to the rush of war, and has never quite been able to make it as a civilian. He’s a prodigy at bomb diffusing and not good with people. Anthony Mackie (YEAH!) plays JT Sanborn who is also a good soldier, but much more human, the two clash over a series of episodes in their final month in the desert, before Sanborn decides not to reenlist and James chooses to stick around.

It’s a hard movie to sum up, but it’s just stunningly made. I developed a small obsession with Bigelow’s follow up to this film, Zero Dark Thirty, but this is a much much better made movie. Truly, a masterpiece.

I could of course rant that the first time a woman won Best Director it was for a movie about masculinity and a woman only has like 2 lines, but that’s not Kathryn Bigelow or this very very good movie’s fault.

What I Was Drinking

For this very male and intense movie, I appropriate drank Grand Sud Rose. It’s refreshing and easy to drink and not too sweet. We’re hitting spring friends, so it’s time for me to just drink all the rose! Get excited!