Tuesday, December 14, 2010

HOLIDAY MOVIE REVIEW: The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

'The Shop Around The Corner' is set at Matuschek's, a little shop in Budapest. Alfred Kralik, the clerk and Clara, the newly hired sales girl don't at all get along in real life but unknowingly fall in love with each other through anonymous correspondence.

'You've Got Mail' was based around this movie, and the basic idea of the two is of course the same, but while the newer movie has the added drama of a big corporation attempting to takeover smalltown America, 'The Shop Around The Corner' has a more intimate, down-to-earth setting.

The characters are charming and the interaction between Mr Matuschek and his staff is realistic and lends itself to a lot of subtle but laugh out loud jokes that anyone who's worked in retail will certainly relate to. The writing is great, with the obvious plot twist being revealed earlier on so that the film can focus on how Alfred and Clara deal with the outcome and whether or not they can get over their initial dislike of each other and see the person they fell for through their letters.

I think what makes 'The Shop Around The Corner' so great is the chemistry between awkward everyman James Stewart and uptight and intellectual Margaret O'Sullavan. Their arguments are feisty but not overblown, and whenever they are on screen together you can't wait to see the sparks fly.

The supporting cast, including the precocious delivery boy Pepi and highly-strung Pirovitch are also excellent and really brings the atmosphere of the store to life, adding to the charm of this delightful romantic comedy. While so many other films in this genre struggle to combine the heartwarming with the hilarious, this one does so effortlessly and is extremely enjoyable as a result.

With it's emotional climax taking place on Christmas Eve, this is the perfect movie to get any classic cinema lover in the mood for the upcoming holidays.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

TIPS: Choosing great gifts

I really like choosing presents for people, but sometimes it can be quite difficult to figure out what to get for someone.

If you have a friend that likes to read, you don't want to show up with a book voucher, but with a personally-selected book that she will love and treasure.

You'll want people to remember your presents and feel like you've made the effort to get something personal and special. A good way to find out about what to get for someone is to ask them about things they enjoyed when they were a child.

Your stuffy boring old parents (not to say that there aren't any cool parents!) might have been real 'hip cats' in their younger days! Getting them an album that they really loved when they were teenagers will bring all those memories flooding back to them.

Or maybe your best friend loves old movies. Instead of buying them a poster, or a Blu-Ray/DVD of their favorite film, try to find something a little more unusual. Online you can often find really cool movie memorabilia such as autographs, film cels, standees, etc. This can often be expensive, so perhaps a cheaper alternative would be to plan a whole night where you screen the movie in your accordingly decorated bedroom or living room. Send them a themed invitation and plan some other related activities.

For example, if your friend loves 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' you could give them the invitation in a jewelry box and welcome them wearing a silly cat mask, doing your best Holly Golightly impression.

Or if she loves Frankenstein, send her an invitation that looks like the scribbled formula of a mad scientist!

This is an inexpensive, easy way to turn a boring night in front of the television into something exciting and memorable.

Homemade presents can be nice to give as well. You can add your own touches and customize items exactly to the recipients tastes.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be showing you a few easy gifts to make.

CONCERT REVIEW: Lady Gaga - Live At Rotterdam, Ahoy December 2010

Taking the crowd on a quest to get to the Monster's Ball, Lady Gaga leads you past dirty subways and dark forests to finally arrive at the ball itself.

She performs all her hits as well as several album tracks with a lot of energy and heart. Her live vocals are great, switching between her funky pop style and a raw, powerful voice with ease.
Lady Gaga's show is, as you'd expect, a very theatrical experience with beautiful sets, props and gorgeous, sexy outfits.

Dirty, sexy, fun and sweet; it perfectly showcases her talent and everything that makes her so special.

She's eager to interact with the crowd, making the perfectly choreographed concert seem intimate and unique.

I was surprised that she took the time to address issues like bullying and feeling like an outsider. Lady Gaga really has created a place where outsiders are welcomed with open arms and are made to feel at home.

Besides it being an extremely entertaining show, I felt inspired and touched by Gaga's openness and sincere gratitude towards her fans.

I was a fairly casual listener before I went to her show, but I've come away a devoted Little Monster.

If you get the chance, definitely go see her.