She Walks In Beauty

First Lines: “Get dressed, Clara.  In your visiting costume.  We are going out.”  My aunt’s words were at once both commanding and precise–as precise as her posture: a series of ninety-degree angles, seated upon one of my bedroom chairs.  She was perpendicular in the extreme.

I think I got this free for my Kindle, which is always nice.  I’d read something by Siri Mitchell before and while I wasn’t extremely impressed, I was willing to give her another chance.

With She Walks In Beauty, she won me over.  It’s such a complicated story.  But I should probably tell you a little about it, shouldn’t I?

The year is 1898.  Clara Carter is 17 years old and about to debut in New York society, though she really doesn’t want to.  The only reason she is debuting this season instead of the next (like had been the plan) is so she could win the heart of Franklin De Vries, heir to a massive fortune.  It’s harder than she thought it would be, with Lizzie (her best friend) being her biggest rival and Franklin’s younger brother Harry always being around.

There were so many things about it that made it more unique than a normal Victorian era novel.  For starters, it’s set in New York.  And it touched on a lot of history and political issues.  That was so cool.  Also, there were amazing subplots and interesting tidbits throughout the whole thing about society and fashion.

I loved Clara’s spunk.  It didn’t show often, but when she put her mind to something, boy did she ever!  She was just an amazing female protagonist.  And when I feel what the characters feel (every single emotion), then you know you have me invested in the story.  Lovely.

 Belle’s Rank: 5 Roses

Life As We Know It

A comedy about taking it one step at a time.

When I saw the trailer in theatres, I thought it looked funny.  But I’m prone to that.  Movie trailers for me are like window shopping.  Just because something looks good in the window doesn’t mean I’m going to buy it.  The more I looked at it, the more I thought it looked a little stupid, actually.

What I got was an amazingly funny movie that was so much more than a comedy.  It was a story of growing up and taking responsibility.  It was a story of life and love.  And I loved it.

Holly and Messer haven’t gotten along since their terrible blind date in ’07.  Their lives get turned upside down when their best friends are killed in a car crash, leaving them with their 1 year old daughter.  Driven by love for their friends and Sophie, Holly and Messer join forces to take care of the toddler.

As you would expect, things go awry.  That made it funny, don’t get me wrong, but there were other things that made this movie so touching.  Holly and Messer have to give up so much to make things work and still they struggle.  A couple of things seemed a bit out of place just to make the story funnier, but other than that I sincerely enjoyed it.

Stealing Home

Stealing hearts, stealing laughs, stealing memories.

I’ve got loads of new reviews for you guys today!  Ok, so this one is called Stealing Home (1988).  It’s been sitting on my Instant Netflix for a while and I only watched it because it was going to disappear on Monday.

I wasn’t as impressed as I wanted to be.  I really like Mark Harmon, but apparently he’s gotten to be a much better actor in the past 20 years.

The basic story is that Billy Wyatt (Harmon) had given up on his dream of becoming a baseball player.  He gets a call saying his childhood best friend, Katie (Jodie Foster) had committed suicide and he was responsible for her ashes.  While trying to discover what she would want, he rediscovers himself.

Maybe it was just that it wasn’t the kind of movie I wanted to watch the other night, but I really didn’t like it.  It also didn’t help that the tornado alarm went off while I was watching it and had to stop watching for 20 minutes.  And really, there was very little of either Mark Harmon or Jodie Foster in the movie.  The whole thing was told in flashbacks.

I will say one thing positive: Billy’s best friend Appleby made the movie.  Appleby was a hoot and was so funny the whole time.  He was so awkward and bizarre that I loved watching him.

Easy A

Let’s not and say we did.

I’ve been hearing good things about this movie for some time, which has recently meant I haven’t enjoyed the movie as much as I would have without the praise. (ex: Tangled, Toy Story 3)  So I was thrilled that I fell in love with Easy A.

The first thing I’ll say about it is that it’s corny.  No way around it.  Olive is pretending to have sex with dozens of guys and sometimes it requires some kind of public display.  Also, her family is amazingly disturbed.  I loved them.  I loved Olive.

There’s something about Olive that you can totally relate to.  She’s destroying her own reputation to help bullied guys raise theirs.  There’s something almost selfless about that, but not quite.  And then she has to live with the consequences, no matter how harsh they are.  And how completely undeserved.

This movie boasts such an amazing cast and most of them only have small parts.  Amanda Bynes, Cam Gigandet, Penn Badgley, Thomas Haden Church, Aly Michalka, and Lisa Kudrow just to name some of the biggest.  Almost every new character that came on, I’m going, “Now where do I know him from?”  Like Thomas Haden Church.  I recognized him immediately as someone who played a bad guy in another movie, but I couldn’t place it.  He played Lyle in George of the Jungle.  So that’s pretty awesome.

It’s totally snarky, too.  Almost everything that comes out of Olive’s mouth is sarcastic.  Like the line from the trailer that Amanda Bynes says, “There’s a higher power that will judge you for your indecency.”  Olive looks at her and says, “Tom Cruise?” in this deadpanned, sarcastic voice.  I loved it.  I can’t tell you how many times I burst out laughing when I least expected it.

Falling Under

First Lines: Everything changed the night I saw the burning man fall from the sky.

I bought this like, a month ago, hoping it would be as amazing as the cover makes it look.  Should have known better.  But the description grabbed my attention and I thought it was worth a shot.

Theia is a 17-year-old who’s been overprotected by her father every day of her life.  Everything is decided for her by her father and Theia hates it.  There’s not much she can do about it…until she meets Haden.  Theia realizes right away that she’s seen Haden before…in her dreams.  There’s something dark and mysterious about the new kid at school and Theia’s determined to find out what it is.

It sounds a little corny, a little cliched, and you’d totally be right.  It was very much like Twilight in the unnatural way Theia is drawn to Haden.  I didn’t know what drew her to him until I was about halfway through, which was nice.  I enjoy trying to puzzle that out.  The problem?  I’ve read a book very recently with the same basic plot line.  So I was a little bored.

I will say, though, that while I didn’t find Theia and Haden as alluring as I probably should have, I fell madly in love with the supporting characters.  Donny and Amelia, Theia’s two best friends, have a wicked awesome sense of humor and I loved seeing their sarcasm repertoire.  There’s also the amazing “Madame Varnie” who I will not say much about because it’s just that awesome.  Suffice it to say, the supporting cast was better than the leads.

Top 15 Most Romantic Movies (5-1)

Hey guys!  It seems this list is a huge hit!  So here’s the last 5 movies.  They’re sweet, they’re sappy, they’ll probably make you cry, and they’re completely amazing.  Girls, get your boyfriends to watch these with you this weekend.  And guys (should there be any that are reading this), girls like movies like this.  You’ll get brownie points for picking one to watch with them.

5. The Prince & Me (2004)

Lead Actors: Julia Stiles, Luke Mably

The Story: Prince Edvard of Denmark can’t seem to stop making the tabloids.  Paige Morgan’s dream of being a doctor is just out of reach for the time being.  When “Eddie” comes to Wisconsin in search of his next adventure, he finds his biggest one yet in trying to get Paige to like him…

What Makes Them Amazing: Obviously, I have a thing for princes.  If I’m not mistaken, this is the 4th movie on royalty on this list.  And it’s Julia Stiles’s second entry.  But it’s more than that.  Eddie’s trying to go from pampered to earning minimum wage.  His transformation is great to watch.  And I love how Paige knows what she wants from life and goes after it.  Neither ends the movie the way they began.  That’s what makes a good love story, right?

Rated: 43.3/50

4. A Walk To Remember (2002)

Lead Actors: Mandy Moore, Shane West

The Story: Landon’s one of the most popular boys in school.  Jamie’s the preacher’s daughter.  When Landon ends up in trouble with the school and ends up lead in the spring play, he turns to Jamie for help.  But the more time Landon spends with Jamie, the more he sees the man he should be.

What Makes Them Amazing: It’s Mandy Moore, for crying out loud!  (And her 2nd appearance on the list.)  But it’s a story of a person who comes into your life and changes it for the better.  We can all think of someone who’s done that.  And really, aren’t they just adorable there on the cover together?  This is one of my favorite movies.

Rated: 44.6/50

3. The Notebook (2004)

Lead Actors: Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling

The Story: In a nursing home, there’s a man who reads the same story over and over to a woman named Allie.  It’s the story of a young couple named Allie and Noah, who fall in love one summer.

What Makes Them Amazing: The Notebook is a classic.  And yes, I know for a fact there are still some people who haven’t seen it.  It’s such an amazing story of summer love, enduring love, and remembering.  And it makes grown men cry.  There aren’t that many movies I know of that can have that effect on men.  Plus, don’t they make such a cute couple?  I love their story.

Rated: 45.8/50

2. The Princess Bride (1987)

Lead Actors: Robin Wright, Cary Elwes

The Story: Westley has always been in love with Buttercup and soon, Buttercup loves Westley too.  But when he’s killed on a pirate ship, Buttercup swears she will never love again.  Adventure ensues when Buttercup is kidnapped to start a war and rescued by a masked man…

What Makes Them Amazing: This is even more of a classic than The Notebook.  And also, it’s Cary Elwes! (drool…)  He’s so adorable.  Anyway, I remember being thrown for a loop the first time I saw this because they fall in love in the beginning, which is different from most romance movies.  And really, it has everything you could want in a movie.  Sword fights, kidnappings, true love, giants, and humor.  It’s nearly every genre rolled into one.

Rated: 46.2/50

Drum roll please…..

1. Titanic (1997)

Lead Actors: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio

The Story: Aboard the RMS Titanic’s maiden voyage is a socialite who feels the world is crashing around her and a poor artist with a dream.

What Makes Them Amazing: Do we really need more reasons than it stars Leonardo DiCaprio?  Because I feel we’re done right there.  But I can come up with more reasons.  I mean, Titanic’s story itself is interesting.  You don’t even need the love story to capture people’s attention.  But there’s also the clash of the different classes that makes us want more.  There’s an amazing cast of supporting actors that really bring the story to life.  And this movie makes girls cry.  Even some guys.  Which earns it the top spot on my list.

Rated: 48.5/50

So that’s it!  All 15 movies!  If you think I’ve forgotten any or have any feedback for me, don’t be afraid to comment!  I’d love to hear what you think.

Top 15 Most Romantic Movies (10-6)

Romantic movies.  Every girl loves them, particularly this girl.  I’ve compiled a list of 15 of my favorite romantic movies based on 5 criteria I listed in the first portion of this list.  If you missed it, go back and read it.  But basically, it’s how devoted the couple is to each other, how well they work together, and how difficult of hardships they’ve overcome.  Ready for the next five?

10. Chasing Liberty (2004)

Lead Actors: Mandy Moore, Matthew Goode

The Story: Anna is the President’s daughter who feels she’s being kept on too short a leash.  During an escape from the Secret Service, Anna meets Ben, who goes with her around Europe to make it to Berlin.

What Makes Them Amazing: Besides the fact that it’s Mandy Moore (look!  I’m not mentioning a guy this time!  Though he is really cute…), I love the fact that it’s the President’s daughter who is rebelling.  And Ben is such a sweetheart.  Even though he believes most of the time that Anna’s being stupid, he follows her from city to city to make sure she’s safe.  How cute is that?

Rated: 41.4/50

9. Dirty Dancing (1987)

Lead Actors: Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze

The Story: Baby is going on vacation with her family to a fancy resort, which is not as fun as she would have hoped.  Until she’s shown a different side of Kellerman’s resort.  There she meets Johnny Castle, a talented dancer and a man unlike any she’s met before.

What Makes Them Amazing: Oh come on.  Baby and Johnny are classic!  Every girl was like Baby at one point and who doesn’t enjoy watching Patrick Swayze kill on the dancefloor?  That last musical number is my favorite.  Oh, how I’ve longed to find someone as awesome as Johnny Castle…sigh.

Rated: 41.4/50

8. Ella Enchanted (2004)

Lead Actors: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy

The Story: As a baby, Ella was enchanted (ha!) by a fairy godmother to always obey orders.  Ella’s never liked her “gift” and wishes it’d go away.  After she’s pushed too far, she goes in search of this godmother and ends up traveling with Prince Charmont, who learns what’s really happening in his kingdom.

What Makes It Amazing: It’s a fairytale!  Who doesn’t love a good fairytale?  Also, there’s killer music.  But more on point, I love how Ella loves Char.  That curse is one serious obstacle to overcome.  And Char’s cute.  I had to say it.  Who wouldn’t want to find their own prince?  As a side note, Cary Elwes (remember him?  #15) plays the bad guy in this, which is just awesome.

Rated: 42.2/50

7. The Young Victoria (2009)

Lead Actors: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend

The Story: It’s another movie based on a real queen of England.  Victoria rose to power as a teenager against the will of her mother, who wanted to rule as regent.  Meanwhile, Victoria’s uncle (the king of Belgium), wanted her under his control and sent Prince Albert to woo her…

What Makes Them Amazing: This is totally based on a true story.  How true it is, I’m not sure.  But it did say that Victoria was deeply in love with Albert, which Blunt makes very obvious.  And I loved how devoted Albert was to her as well.  They overcame so much and Albert gets serious brownie points for his “big gesture” of love.  You can’t help but adore a prince like that.

Rated: 42.6/50

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Lead Actors: Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley

The Story: Really, is there anyone who doesn’t know what Pirates is about?  And really, I’m only looking at the relationship between Will and Elizabeth when I talk about this.  Boy loves girl from afar, girl gets kidnapped, boy tries to save girl, girl falls in love with boy.

What Makes Them Amazing: Trust me, I’m still looking at this going, “This made it all the way up to #6?”  The only thing I can think of that helped it along is the fact that I’m in love with England and this era (as if you couldn’t tell by the list thus far).  Oh well.  I love that Will is do devoted to Elizabeth, even from the beginning.  I love that they make such a great team, which probably earned them high marks for compatibility.

Rated: 43.1/50

That’s it for now, guys.  The last 5 movies in this list will be coming!  I wouldn’t leave you hanging, now would I?  Don’t worry, we’re almost there!