Anastasia (1997)

Time to revisit childhood favorites! I’m not going to lie. It might be a little deliberate to have chosen Anastasia since Netflix is doing “A” titles. Consider it a double feature in a way, especially since Anastasia is currently on Netflix (in Canada). Its also a good choice because I need to watch good movies also and not always average movies. It keeps the moral high and motivation even higher. So I’m going to try from now on. When the week is a little more quiet, I’ll work in another movie, hopefully with the same letter title as the Netflix that week. Summer is around the corner so I usually rest up in June to prepare for all the movie reviews in Fantasia Festival in mid-July.

Enough rambling! Let’s revisit Anastasia! 🙂

Anastasia (1997)

Director: Don Bluth & Gary Goldman

Voice cast:  Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd, Kelsey Grammar, Hank Azaria, Bernadette Peters, Angela Lansbury

The last surviving child of the Russian Royal Family joins two con men to reunite with her grandmother, the Dowager Empress, while the undead Rasputin seeks her death.-IMDB

Don Bluth does have quite the magic. When I watched all these animated films when I was a kid or just younger, I never knew much about who directed and voice casts and all that stuff.  Now that I’ve been in the movie blogger world, I know better. Certain names just seem to be the key behind a lot of movies. I never feel like Anastasia is appreciated or talked about as much as it should be. Fact is, Anastasia is really pretty and what shocked me even more is that its not from the powerhouses now. This is a Fox Animation Studios film. If you even look at the voice cast, there is quite a bit of amazing talent here. It even turns out that I’m doing a back to back John Cusack movie, unexpectedly. Much of Anastasia has to go to the beautiful animation and the fantastic music. I may have not seen this movie in forever, probably more than ten years, but I always hum Once Upon a December in sporadic moments. Of course, the whole soundtrack is quite memorable.

I probably should have reviewed Anastasia ages ago because I’ve always wanted to look at ALL of Meg Ryan’s movies and that project and even thought of it has faded away but I do still love Meg Ryan and her movies quite a bit. She voices Anastasia and she is so great in bringing to life our main character here. Anastasia is feisty and tough if not slightly naive also but she yearns to find her family but who knew that things would work out unexpectedly. She not only finds her family but also meets an unexpected guy who is flawed but also has his own secret.

Voicing Dimitri, the guy that Anastasia meets, is John Cusack. I’m going to be honest that I never acknowledged that he voiced this character.  While I have a lot of appreciation for his acting, I still have a lot to learn about the movies he has been in. But, I do like his voice as Dimitri. It carries a cunning but still very sweet character.  However, I do love Kelsey Grammar as Vlad quite a bit also. Vlad is such a charming and funny character, especially his obsession with Pooka. The cutest element of the entire film is Pooka. I guess dogs whether in real life or animated still are just uber adorable regardless.


 In any animated film, there’s always some villain and here we have Rasputin, voiced by Christopher Lloyd. While he is evil, he holds a comical value that is suitable for kids to watch. I’m not sure how young it would be suitable for but Rasputin is generically evil but still manages to make me laugh. Plus, he is literally falling apart and with the interaction he has with Bartok, his somewhat faithful bat, voiced by Hank Azaria, it becomes not scary but simply entertaining. Rasputin’s mishaps is what I looked forward to the whole time.  While, Bartok was really just a background character that made witty reactions as the comic relief. Hank Azaria does have a great talent in voices and here he demonstrates it yet again.


Overall, Anastasia may almost be 20 years old but it still holds the charm with enchanting music and charming characters voiced by a wonderful cast. Meg Ryan and John Cusack does a fine job as the leads but Christopher Lloyd makes a comical villain and Hank Azaria does a great silly sidekick. It helps that they added in an uber cute dog Pooka to follow them on their journey. A must-watch animated film! I still love it every bit as much as when I first saw it! 🙂

Before we leave, its important to add in a song (or two) from the movie!

Have you seen Anastasia?

Netflix A-Z: Nanny McPhee (2005) & Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

Heading into the second half of the alphabet now, we’re going with a little double feature.  I figured if Netflix offers us the chance to watch a series of movies, I might as well take advantage of it, especially if there is only two 😉  So here we are with Nanny McPhee and its sequel, Nanny McPhee Returns (otherwise called Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang).  I’ve been avoiding this one because it feels like a rip-off of Mary Poppins.  For most of you that know me, I’m a huge Disney fanatic and Mary Poppins is among one of my all-time favorites.  I can watch it over and over and over again, know all the words of all the songs and maybe even the dialogue. So, Nanny McPhee has quite the competition if its anything like that.  Honestly, I don’t know much and they are all assumptions but assuming is not a great thing and I’m trying to not do that.

By the way, its October!! Magical nannies…kind of works, right? I keep thinking Nanny McPhee might be a witch so I guess it works that way 😉

Let’s give this a go! 🙂

Nanny McPhee (2005)

nanny mcphee

Director: Kirk Jones

Cast: Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Kelly MacDonald, Angela Lansbury, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Eliza Bennett, Imelda Staunton

Cedric Brown has lost his loving wife and now has to make his living and take care of his seven young children.  However, his children are so misbehaved that they have already scared away 17 nannies ever since.  With his Aunt Adelaide who provides him with a monthly allowance to sustain him and his family’s living, she gives him an ultimatum that he either finds himself a wife by the end of the month or she will cut her support.  Its here that Nanny McPhee arrives at his doorstep.  Magically, she offers to teach 5 lessons and her rules are simple: she will stay as long as she is needed but not wanted but when she is wanted but not needed, she has to go.

nanny mcphee

I have to admit that Nanny McPhee is a little odd.  Except, it quickly turns into a charming little movie.  I guess you can’t call a movie little when it has a ton of talented cast from Emma Thompson playing Nanny McPhee to Colin Firth being Cedric Brown and Imelda Staunton being Cook.  Not to mention, Aunt Adelaide being played by Angela Lansbury.  All that talent for this movie with kids that are practically unknown.  Well, they were unknown back then.  Thomas Brodie-Sangster, now 10 years later is rather known especially because of The Maze Runner, Nowhere Boy and before that, it had to be Love Actually. With such a solid cast, Nanny McPhee can’t help but deliver strong performanced across the board.  Plus, Emma Thompson is also responsible for the screenplay.  I’m sure that gives her a little more attachment as the main character and adds a little spark to what she’s doing.

nanny mcphee

While Nanny McPhee does have certain features very similar to Mary Poppins plot-wise and at times, feels a little like the cross-over of The Sound of Music with all those children also, it has its own little magic.  It is obvious that this movie is meant for children to teenagers perhaps and the lessons it delivers is great in terms of a family comedy.  Its a ton of fun and reinforces that a family being together means learning together.  Nanny McPhee may seem like she is teaching the children but she is also teaching the father valuable lessons on taking extra care to how he treats his role.  It may seem silly the simple things like going to bed and getting up when told in the beginning but its about discipline and respect, listening and being honest and accepting consequences.  All very relevant to children and grown-ups alike.

Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

nanny mcphee returns

Director: Susanna White

Cast: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Asa Butterfield, Rhys Ifans, Lil Woods, Eros Vlahos, Rosie Taylor-Ritson, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor

Isabel is a young mother with three children living on a farm and trying to make ends meet while her husband is away at war.  Secretly having a massive debt at the casino, her brother in law wants to coax her into selling her half of the farm.  Except, she doesn’t want to despite the struggles.  When her sister sends over two cousins because of the war situation getting more serious in the big city, she ends up having to take care of two more children, and extremely spoiled rich brats on top of that.  It is at this moment that Nanny McPhee shows up and offers to help her with teaching 5 lessons (side note: not the same as last time).

nanny mcphee returns

Nanny McPhee Returns is a great addition to this series.  The cast still retains to be incredibly strong.  Emma Thompson comes back as Nanny McPhee and she just does it so perfectly.  Then we have an even younger Asa Butterfield (because he’s still pretty young right now) in the lead boy among the children.  Along with that, mom is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and there’s ever a small role for Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes and Ewan McGregor.  Nanny McPhee definitely returns with the same charm but this time, it adds a lot more goof.  At times, it felt a little ridiculous but for the most part, I was able to not mind it too much.

nanny mcphee returns

The best part, other than the fun characters, is really that learning the 5 lessons the Nanny McPhee has to teach never feels strained.  If anything, this time, the lessons were more straightforward and even more relevant than the last time.  We in the land of courage, bravery, imagination, taking leaps of faith, and more.  Like I said, relevant with what they are dealing with and with a contrast of children from different backgrounds, the learning is even more substantial.

Nanny McPhee Returns is a very fun sequel.  With lots of lovable characters and an outstanding cast even to its supporting and cameo characters.  Its magical and adventurous even between some of the unnecessary goofiness that they add in this time around.

Its a pity that Nanny McPhee only has two movies in this series. It would be a fun one to keep going.  You can always argue that Mary Poppins is better and she is in fact irreplaceable but Nanny McPhee has her own little charm and its just so relevant no matter when you watch it.  Its a ton of family fun and very much worth your time. 🙂

Have you seen either of these Nanny McPhee movies? Any thoughts?

Netflix A-Z heads into a week of Horror before stepping aside for the Halloween Marathon.  
What O horror takes the spot? Any guesses?

Oscars 2014!

Wow! Two years in a row I watch this! Sometimes, I wonder why I do it since I saw 3 movies that was nominated through all the categories.  Shameful as I’m building a blog that getting more and more focused in that area.  I’m going to try harder this year, thats all I can promise!

Back to the biggest night of Hollywood! My boyfriend was finishing up a movie so I lost a bit of the red carpet action, still, I caught most of the outfits as I did watch the whole Oscars and even used commercial breaks to check out tweets! I have to say that I’m a huge fan of Ellen so I loved her quite a bit! I mean, she crashed Twitter with that crazily retweeted selfie? Did that actually happen? AND she ordered pizza, which was super hilarious! 🙂

Moving along…I did it last year and I’ll do it again!

My favorite dresses at the Oscars last night! (Top 5 because I couldn’t pick 3 *ahem*)

Cate Blanchette

Cate Blanchette

Lupita Nyong'o

Lupita Nyong’o

Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron

Emma Watson

Emma Watson

Cate Blanchett oozes elegance, at least to me, she’s the symbol of it.  No one quite does it like her! And I’m totally loving the blue shades on Lupita Nyong’o and Sandra Bullock along with the design, simple but so pretty 🙂 Charlize Theron was just stunning (especially when she was presenting next to Chris Hemsworth). And Emma Watson knows how to choose her clothes.  I’d love to mention Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Anna Kendrick’s dresses. They were super beautiful too!!

Last year I didn’t do the men but they were so handsome!

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey

chris hemsworth oscars

Chris Hemsworth

Will Smith

Will Smith

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper

Matthew McConaughey was totally charming in his suit. Chris Hemsworth was hot in his burgundy.  Will Smith was looking pretty good and Bradley Cooper surprisingly took my breath away in his suit 🙂

The best speeches of the night goes out to these two awesome people!

matthew mcconaughey speech

Matthew McConaughey’s speech was really meaningful and encouraging. He thanked his belief and faith, his family and his future self.  That blew my mind! This man was already awesome in my book and think he just went even higher!

lupita nyong'o speech

Before Matthew McConaughey got his award, her award seemed like the absolute best.  It was completely heartfelt and so meaningful.  I mean reminding children from everywhere that their dreams are valid (paraphrasing her words, of course), is just beautiful!

Aside from actual on-spot live speeches, I feel the Governor Awards is worth a mention because I was totally happy about Angela Lansbury getting it.

angela lansbury

Bedknobs and Broomsticks was so fun! She’s awesome! I was very happy to see this!

angelina jolie humanitarian award

Aside from her, we have Angelina Jolie that I have to give a mention because I was never a huge fan of hers but her speech was very touching and she’s done some pretty awesome work.  Impressive, right?

Last thing I’m going to talk about is for the songs.  They were all pretty good performances, no? Frozen totally deserved it and Idina Menzel blew me away as always.  She has a monster voice! BUT, the show was hit off on a very positive note with Pharrell Williams performing Happy and dancing with some of the ladies. This right here:


My girl crush on Amy Adams just grew a little (okay okay, maybe a lot)! 🙂

I’ve held you all up too much now so I’ll stop here!

Did you watch the Oscars? Who was the best dressed? Which speech stole the night? Were there any surprise wins?

Part 1: Animated Halloween Movie Marathon

Welcome all to October! I know that I’ve already done a few posts already but let me welcome you to the official start of Halloween month.  Sure, I can’t go out for trick or treating anymore but I do go to Halloween parties and my brain is frantically looking for my next costume…although I have a few ideas, its how to put it together cost efficiently that going to be hard.  Our party topic this year is Famous Characters.  Any suggestions?

Its the first time I’m putting a theme to a month, but I thought it would be cool to get some extras going on here other than the challenges and random reviews.  Remember when I did Top 10 Romantic Comedies for Valentine’s  Well, we’re getting more of that, but Halloween version.  This time, I have a bit (just a bit!) more time to research and plan, I’m going to do this in 3 parts.

I was going to do the hardcore, straight up horror movies first but seeing as this weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada, I decided otherwise.  I’m going to choose something more family-oriented. Its going to be on my Animated/Children Halloween Movie Marathon.  I haven’t had time to really rewatch all the movies.  I really tried though!  I’m doing this in a realistic way, where its just movies that I own up to now.  As it was a sudden decision to do 3 parts, I’ve been binge watching this list, just so the reviews are a bit more accurate.

So lets go! (They are in no particular order of preference but the order in how I had watched them)


1) Garfield’s Halloween Adventure (1985)

Who doesn’t love the lasagna-eating lazy orange feline?  I sure do, even though I’m in my twenties now, I still love him.  Garfield was one of the first comics that I ever read and I think that I actually watched most of it.  It was also his holiday movie collection that I had replaced on DVD first.

This movie was around 20ish minutes and its suitable for kids. Its right at the core of Trick or Treating.  We have a gentle mix of candies, ghosts and light-hearted fun, kind of jazzy music at times.  I don’t know what happened to cartoons but I sure miss Garfield.  C’mon, as much as Garfield picks on Odie, he’s still the cutest, sweetest dog and always Garfield’s best friend.  These cartoons are fun and easy to watch.  At the same time, its simple and quick.  Perfect for children and family watching and exactly the reason why it was the first one I picked out of my movie collection to start off Halloween month.

2) KiKi’s Delivery Service (1989)

As much as this isn’t about Halloween, the main girl is a witch so it qualifies.  We all need to find more time to watch Studio Ghibli movies, right? I think so!

The story is about a 13 year old witch called KiKi who goes into obligatory independent training for one year.  As she learns to take care of herself, she shows her adventures, good and difficult times, as she makes her living with her delivery services.  With her, she has her black cat to accompany her.  Its a fun movie with charismatic characters, nice plot and beautiful animation.  To match it all up, Miyazaki productions always beautiful background music.  Overall, its a  heartwarming coming of age story.

“We each need to find our own inspiration, Kiki. Sometimes it’s not easy.”- Kiki’s Delivery Service

3) Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

Disney is entering the house! Yeah! This movie is a wild animation ride as its a Mary Poppins-like type of movie where its with humans along with animated characters.  Talk about imagination.  I’m not sure how many people out there know about this one.  I only picked this up last year sometime around Halloween.  This is how the story goes: Its set during the World War II in England and the children in London are evacuated to the country.  Three children, Charlie, Carrie and Paul, are assigned into a house with a woman called Miss Price, to learn eventually that she is an apprentice witch.  Together, with a conman, they go off on a enchanted flying bed to look for an ingredient in a faraway place for a spell that could save the country.

Its a fun imaginative ride filled with some songs.  David Tomlinson is also in this one.  For those who don’t know, he was the one who played Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins. I loved him in that role.  This one is quite different but he just plays a more sly, free-spirited man.  The witch is played by Angela Lansbury, who we know in another more recent Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, doing the voice of Mrs. Potts.

4) Casper (1995)

This is one of the newer additions to my movie collection.  You don’t want to see how I reacted when I saw it on the store shelf.  I LOVE this movie when I was young.  I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t like it as much, but turns out it hasn’t changed that much in my mind.  This movie, like the Bedknobs and Broomsticks is also mix of human and animated characters.  The story is different though.  A paranormal expert, Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman) and his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci) are hired by Carrigan, the successor of a mansion, to get rid of ghosts that have been living/haunting it.  Carrigan hires them because she needs to evade the ghosts to find the hidden treasure. While at the house, Dr. Harvey and Kat meet 4 ghosts.  One is Casper, the friendly ghost and the other 3 are Casper’s mischievious uncles, Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso.  Its how their stories unfold with Dr. Harvey trying to help send back the ghosts, Carrigan trying to get her treasure and Casper trying to just make a friend with Kat.  Its a mix of humor and fun times.  Its an alright animation but does fit into Halloween perfectly.

5) Hocus Pocus (1993)

This movie starts off three centruies ago where a town who hung the Sanderson sisters, 3 witches who killed a little girl.  These witches left the world with a curse that a virgin that lights the black flame candle  will wake them from the dead  Flash forward to 1993, we meet Max and his sister Dani who are new to town.  On Halloween night when Max takes Dani to go trick or treating, he meet up with Max’s classmate Allison, and ends up visiting the ancient house of the 3 witches, which is ta museum.  There Max lights the black flame candle and in turn, wakes the sisters.  So starts the hunt by the witches to get back the spell book that they stole, so that they can whip up the potion that will give them eternal life instead of just revived for one night.

This movie is one of my favorites Halloween movies.  Thats because its hilarious and an exciting adventure.  The oldest of the sisters, Winifred is played by Bette Midler and she is one of my favorite actresses.  I just think she’s amazingly funny.  The other sister, Sarah, is played by Sarah Jessica Parker who does the whole dumb blonde role but does it rather decently.

6) The Black Cauldron (1985)

I had to put a Disney in.  I could choose The Nightmare Before Christmas but I watch that as part of my Christmas marathon (is it weird to do that?).  So I chose The Black Cauldron.  This animation is about young boy called Taran, who is an assistant pig keeper.  This pig, Hen-Wen holds secret powers where he can reveal what others don’t know.  The Horned King is trying to take over the land as they speak and they find out that the Horned King is looking for the Black Cauldron, which is a Cauldron possessed by demonic spirits and if unleashed, will be capable of evil things in the world.  Taran is then sent to hide Hen Wen so that the Horned King does not find out through her where the Cauldron is.  Its here we embark on an adventure and Taran is joined by a dog Gurgi, a princess Eilonwy and a ministrel called Fflewddur Fflam.

I always felt that Halloween should be filled with fantasy and magic so this fit right in there.  Its a fun little adventure.  I don’t think a lot of people actually enjoy it but just a fun fact, I learned that Tim Burton actually had originally designed some characters for this animation which was later turned down.  At the Tim Burton exhibit, we had the opportunity to see some of those drawings and designs and it was pretty awesome stuff.  Too bad it wasn’t added in.

7) Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

The next little TV classic that I watched was Charlie Brown.  Its about 20 minutes long about Linus’ belief in the Great Pumpkin and how it rises from the pumpkin patch.  The Great Pumpkin chooses a pumpkin patch to visit every Halloween.  It will choose the most sincere one.  No one else believes him and decides to go Trick or Treat and afterwards, to go to Violet’s party.  Snoopy, of course, dresses up as well and uses his fantastic imagination.  Its a cute, short animation joined with little laughs from all the Peanuts characters: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Sally, Linus, Schroeder, Pigpen, etc.

I love Peanuts movies.  Even though they are short but just like Garfield, its hard to replace their value in my heart.  I think its just getting older is making me more and more nostalgic? I don’t know but I’m enjoyed it thoroughly and I’m sure that others will also.

8) The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

Another Disney classic based on the Legend of Sleepy Hollow using the characters of The Wind in the Willows.  I think the last time I watched this one was on the Disney program showing Disney movies every Sunday afternoon/evening about 15 years ago or so.  For those unfamiliar of the Wind in the Willows characters, we have Mr. Toad with his friends Rat (a water rat), Mole and Angus MacBadger (a badger).  We start where MacBadger calls in Rat and Mole because Mr. Toad with his horse is destructing property all over the place and he needs them to help stop him.  Thats just the start of the adventures we are to join into.  After Mr. Toad’s adventures, we get introduced to Ichabod Crane in a second story and his wish to capture a girl’s heart and the Headless Horseman’s appearance.

This is a classic and one very much worth watching.  It has nice dialogue and its entertaining to watch, the animation is pretty nice and there is very nice music to match the story itself.  Definitely worthy as a Halloween watch (or any watch for that matter).

9) Corpse Bride (2005)

Had enough of classics yet? We’re finally in the 21st century! Corpse Bride is a Tim Burton movie paired with the voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Emily Watson.  To me, this one is more fitting than Nightmare Before Christmas.  As usual, it has a darker tone than other animations.  I love Tim Burton and equally love both Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.  So you can imagine that its a complete pleasure to watch this one.  Its a mix of fantasy and musical.

The story of the Corpse Bride starts with Victor (Johnny Depp) who is to wed a young lady called Victoria (Emma Watson) and goes into the forest to recite his wedding vows.  He chooses right above the grave of a dead bride, the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter) and put a ring on her “finger”.  The Corpse Bride assumes this as the final marriage and considers him as her husband.  She takes him to the underworld where we meet the funny dead characters from skeletons.  How does he get out of this?  Will he be able to go back to marry Victoria?

Its definitely a good choice even though it may not be Tim Burton’s best work.  It has its mix of skeletons, maggots, corpses and the meeting of the dead and human relationship.

10) Coraline (2009)

I’m saving the best for the last.  I LOVE this animation. I can’t imagine how much I love I can express.  I saw this at home with my best friend and even for her, she was a bit shocked at how creepy it got.  Does it suit completely for children? I’m not completely sure but it has parts where its enjoyable enough that its for at least adolescents.  The animation and the story was just captivating, simply captivating.  The characters and the voices were fantastic.  The only two people I knew for the voices was Dakota Fanning, who did Coraline and Teri Hatcher, who plays her mother/Other Mother.

The story is one thats really creepy.  It starts out with Coraline who moves into a new neighborhood.  She is generally neglected by her parents who are both writers and don’t spend too much time on the family part.  She wanders off and meets Wybert and also a mysterious cat.  One day as she’s exploring the house, she finds a secret door.  Later on at night, she crawls through it and enters another realm with her dream family.  The Other Mother takes especially good care of her and cooks her wonderful food, while her Other Father is a pianist and treats her like a treasure.  What happens after you will see for yourself if you haven’t seen it yet.  This movie is very captivating.  It keeps you wanting to know more.  Its also accompanied by a lot of charming characters as her neighbors in the same building.  Upstairs she has a man called Mr. Bobinsky and downstairs, two elder women who used to be stars called Miss Spinks and Miss Forcible.  They pack in a good few laughs to liven up the darker tone sometimes.

There you have it, my movie marathon for animated/family movie marathon.  I actually started watching it after work on Wednesday and finished up tonight.  Its so that I can give you all a nice review and more accurate description and my sentiments about it.  This list originally only had 8 movies but since today I crossed the border to the States and visited Plattsburgh with some friends for a while and found some good movie deals, I managed to add in Charlie Brown and Ichabod Crane.

Hope you enjoy it and if you get the chance, check these out! They are some fun movies.  Not all of them are top of the line but it works for the holidays.  Some pack in some good laughs, some are a bit darker, some adventurous and a few of them are classics.  Definitely worth your time.

How about you? Do you do any family-oriented movies? Would you change some of my movies? Any that you’d suggest?

As for the next part, it will be up by next weekend, so remember to come back if you enjoyed this one! I’m going to build it up a bit and turn up the intensity.

To my fellow Canadian friends reading, Happy Thanksgiving!