1776: A Broadway Musical About the Signing of the Declaration of Independence

Posted on July 2, 2019 at 9:33 pm

Celebrate the 4th of July by watching the entertaining and inspiring “1776,” based on the Broadway musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The movie does not shy away from the terrible compromise on slavery that the founding fathers agreed to in order to make this country one nation, with a fault line that would shatter our deepest convictions enumerated in the very document our country was established on. The characters are really brought to life with all of their courage and hope as well as their faults and fears.

EHere’s a glimpse from a recent Broadway staged version, with Santino Fontana of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”

And from the movie, with William Daniel as the “obnoxious and disliked” John Adams.

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Movie Mom on “Some Like it Hot” — Crooked Table Podcast

Posted on June 26, 2019 at 8:00 am

Copyright United Artists 1959

I had a lot of fun on the Crooked Table podcast talking about one of the greatest movies of all time, Some Like it Hot.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted on November 22, 2018 at 7:00 am

My favorite Thanksgiving movie is “What’s Cooking?”

And everyone should listen to Arlo Guthrie’s classic “Alice’s Restaurant,” which tells the story of one Thanksgiving that led to an arrest for…garbage.

Have a peaceful and grateful Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Halloween Movies for Kids

Posted on October 25, 2018 at 8:00 am

Copyright Warner Brothers 1966

 

Halloween gives kids a thrilling opportunity to act out their dreams and pretend to be characters with great power. But it can also be scary and even overwhelming for the littlest trick-or-treaters. An introduction to the holiday with videos from trusted friends can help make them feel comfortable and excited about even the spookier aspects of the holiday.

Kids ages 3-5 will enjoy Barney’s Halloween Party, with a visit to the pumpkin farm, some ideas for Halloween party games and for making Halloween decorations at home, and some safety tips for trick-or-treating at night. They will also get a kick out of Richard Scarry’s The First Halloween Ever, which is Scarry, but not at all scary! Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest has the beloved little monkey investigating the Legend of “No Noggin.” Disney characters celebrate Halloween in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Mickey’s Treat.

Witches in Stitches is about witches who find it very funny when they turn their sister into a jack o’lantern. And speaking of jack o’lanterns, Spookley the Square Pumpkin is sort of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer of pumpkins. The round pumpkins make fun of him for being different until a big storm comes and his unusual shape turns out to have some benefits.

Kids from 7-11 will enjoy the classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the silly fun of What’s New Scooby-Doo: Halloween Boos and Clues. Try The Worst Witch movie and series, about a young witch in training who keeps getting everything wrong. School-age kids will also enjoy The Halloween Tree, an animated version of a story by science fiction author Ray Bradbury about four kids who are trying to save the life of their friend. Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock on the original “Star Trek”) provides the voice of the mysterious resident of a haunted house, who explains the origins of Halloween and challenges them to think about how they can help their sick friend. The loyalty and courage of the kids is very touching. Debbie Reynolds plays a witch who takes her grandchildren on a Halloween adventure in the Disney Channel classic in Halloweentown.

Older children will appreciate The Witches, based on the popular book by Roald Dahl and Hocus Pocus, with children battling three witches played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. And of course there is the deliciously ghoulish double feature Addams Family and Addams Family Values based on the cartoons by Charles Addams. Episodes of the classic old television show are online. Beetlejuice is a classic — with a nice 20th anniversary re-release DVD, and soon to be a Broadway musical.

Two recent favorites, ParaNorman and Monster House, should become a  Halloween tradition. Frankenweenie,  Igor, and the Hotel Transylvania series are also a lot of fun.

The Nightmare Before Christmas has gorgeous music from Danny Elfman and stunningly imaginative visuals from Tim Burton in a story about a Halloween character who wonders what it would be like to be part of a happy holiday like Christmas. And don’t forget old classics like The Cat and the Canary (a classic of horror/comedy) and the omnibus ghost story films Dead of Night and The House that Dripped Blood.

Happy Halloween!

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Michael Cavna on the Visual Beauty of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”

Posted on October 18, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Michael Cavna, who covers comics and animation for the Washington Post, has a lovely essay about a television classic, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” He writes about “Linus’s bewitchingly liquid-violet skies and Snoopy’s clouds of fantastical peril, as autumnal tints pop from the trees and leaves” and the use of camera movement to give an intimate, dynamic, cinematic feel to the show. And he reminds us that one Snoopy scene was so iconic it even became an official US postage stamp. The man behind the show agrees.

“Of the 50 prime-time specials we created with Charles Schulz,” Mendelson says, “I believe ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ is Bill Melendez’s animation masterpiece.”

And here’s a lovely essay from Matt Zoller Seitz.

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