A Love Letter to Love Actually (from a dude)

Today is an exciting day. We here at CulturePoppe have our first guest post and it’s from the one and only Sam Davidson. I’ve known Sam since high school from our days in the youth group at First Baptist Nashville. We went on mission trips together, sang in the youth choir together and at one point even lead a weekly “family group” bible study together. Let me make it clear that when I say “lead”, I mean Sam actually lead and I co-lead in title only. I was the moral support if he ever needed it.

Regardless, we had some good times, I think. Now Sam is the co-founder of the fantastic Cool People Care, an organization I can’t support enough, an author of three books you all need to read, and father to one of the cutest kids around. He’s busy. So, to have him write a post for us is much too kind.

Christmas is just under two weeks away so I’m sure everyone has delved into their Christmas movie collections and began debating with themselves which Christmas movie is their favorite. Well, don’t worry any more because Sam is about to answer that question for you.

Take it away, Sam.

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Ugh. New Year’s Eve just came out. Those of us who can see a crappy movie from a mile away know this is a sad replay of Valentine’s Day, which was a lackluster attempt at achieving one-tenth of the awesomeness that was – and is – Love Actually.

I’m a guy. But I will go on record every day of the year to say that Love Actually is in my top five all time favorite movies. I don’t pick favorites by the same cinematic criteria that Oscar voters do. I say a movie makes it into the Top 5 if I can watch it anytime, anywhere.

Full disclosure: the other four I can watch at any point – even right now – are:

The Dark Knight

V for Vendetta

Napoleon Dynamite

Rent

Don’t judge. What’s in your Top 5? Speed? Clueless or Star Wars? Whatevs.

Love Actually should always be watched during Christmas. It’s the best Christmas movie ever. Ever. Elf and Christmas Vacation tie for second. Everything else is okay. No – I don’t care for A Christmas Story. Get over it. Right now. Because it’s time for me to tell you why Love Actually is a cinematic Christmas present to humanity.

This is one of the most hopeful movies you will ever see. The possibility of love – for all of us – is what keeps us going most days. We could have gotten fired, our dog could have run away, we may have misplaced our Hootie and the Blowfish CD (“Cracked Rear View,” not “Fairweather Johnson”), but if we have someone in our life who loves us – and we, they – then all of that can be overcome. And if we don’t have a steady, the chances that at any given moment – like when we’re asked to be a nude stand-in on a movie set – we could find our soulmate at least makes us want to get out of the bed in the morning, and not just because we have to pee really bad.

You know what else is great about this movie? The British accents don’t require subtitles. I love Ricky Gervais and his original Office, but I had to watch it all with subtitles. Love Actually does not make you read anything.

The intertwining of all the relationships is also beautiful, done before Lost really showed us how to do it. (Fun fact: the only people who don’t know other people in Love Actually are Billy Mack and his manager. This is also the only platonic relationship pair portrayed, showing love is so big, it’s not only romantic. Thanks, Wikipedia!) As the movie unfolds, you see everyone knows each other that you can’t help but hope they do a sequel set at Thanksgiving where they all end up eating together. So fun!

The only thing worth debating about this movie is which relationship pair is the most awesome. Is it David (the Prime Minister) and Natalie ? Or maybe Jamie and Aurelia? Or the innocence of Sam and Joanna? Epic endings make for awesome movies and Love Actually packs a hell of a punch in this arena. The flick – clocking in at over two hours – never drags. If you think it does, then you should be dragged outside and your TV destroyed.

Love Actually has some choice language. And shots of boobs and butts. So it’s not exactly the thing you pop on while you’re at Grandma’s house (who is chief church lady at her local congregation) while you’re opening presents with your niece and nephew who are 4 and 7, respectively. But it is the thing you watch while decorating the tree with your friends, after the kids go to sleep, while you make and enjoy hot chocolate, after you get home from 4th of July fireworks, before you go on your next business trip, and when you don’t feel like watching anything that’s in your Netflix Instant queue, even though you have 83 things in there. (Seriously – go remove Hot Tub Time Machine, Scrubs, and She’s All That right now. You will never watch any of these.)

If you haven’t seen Love Actually, stop being a Grinch and go get it now. Fall in love with a movie about love. We all love love. We do. So go love loving love for a few hours.

And if you still don’t believe me that this is one of the five best movies ever and that it’s the best Christmas movie of all time, then watch out; I’m primed to write a treatise on why Lakehouse is one of the best love stories of our generation.

Because it is.

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Agree? Disagree? What’s your favorite Christmas movie? For me Love Actually is a very close second to Home Alone. But, like Sam, I could watch Love Actually (and Rent) any time, any where.

Thanksgiving Marathon round-up

If you’re looking for something to keep you entertained tomorrow while you’re lying on the couch in a food coma, look no further. Here is a list of Thanksgiving eve, day and days after marathons to keep you planted on your couch all the way to Sunday! There are several lists out there that are quite detailed, but I’ve compiled a list of what I’m most looking forward to saving up on the DVR. All times are Central Standard time.

Thanksgiving Eve:

Friends – Nickelodeon

Like JT mentioned in his Friday Five, nobody did a Thanksgiving episode quite like our dear Friends. I’ve been quoting that hilarious scene from The One Where Ross Got High in my head for the past two weeks. It’s just perfect. But I digress. Nickelodeon is starting from the very beginning of the series starting tonight at 9/8c until 4 30 am Thursday. Hooray! Get ready to laugh like it’s 1994, but just remember not to put beef in the trifle.

Extreme Couponing – TLC

I’ve actually never seen this show, so what better way to get addicted than with a marathon, amIright? I’m always amazed at hearing how much people can save using coupons. (Recently a friend of mine actually got paid to shop at wal-mart because she had such good coupons). I need some tips. The couponing frenzy begins at 2pm today!

Thanksgiving Day

Star Trek: The Next Generation – BBC America

What? No one can resist Jean Luc Picard. NO ONE. Resistance is futile beginning at 7 am.

How It’s Made – Science

Ok. I admit my Thanksgiving Day is looking really nerdy pairing this with TNG, but everyone likes to learn, right? See how “the workers” make things starting at 8 am.

Brothers & Sisters – SOAPnet

Remember when Brothers & Sisters was a really great show and we had a Tom Skerritt/Sally Field/Steel Magnolias reunion in the pilot episode? Yeah, me too. I miss those days. So, grab your biggest red wine glass and start drinking with the Walkers at 4pm.

Black Friday

Project Runway – Style Network

FIERCE! Hot Mess! Hot TRANNY Mess! Catchphrase, catchphrase, catchphrase! That’s what Christian Siriano provided us with ad nauseum during his season of PR which will be strutting down the runway again starting at 7am.

The Glee Project – Oxygen

This show is fantastic no matter what you think of Glee. It gives me a whole new appreciation and respect for Ryan Murphy – and a bit of a crush, I have to admit. He has this intimidating confidence about him and he wears great hats. Bonus! Plus, you get to see how our favorite leprechaun made it all the way to the end. (I didn’t spoil the end for you. There’s more winners because the contestants were just that good). Get your jazz hands ready bright and early! The Glee Project starts at 9am.

Awkward – MTV

Another show I haven’t seen yet, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. I plan on catching up on the entire first season starting at 10am.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – Encore

TNG, How it’s Made and LOTR in it’s entirety? In one weekend? How am I single, again?! Wait, I think I just answered that question. If you don’t love The Lord of the Rings trilogy, there’s seriously something wrong with you. I know I own all three in their extended, director’s cut versions and I may have had a LOTR marathon a few years ago with a friend and maybe we made lembas bread and secretly wanted to wear capes while we ate it, but that doesn’t mean I’m too good to watch it when it randomly comes on a movie channel. It just means I need to make sure I have all the ingredients for lembas bread before Friday. Let’s pull an all-nighter and travel to Middle Earth starting at 7pm to 430am.

Saturday

Battlestar Gallactica – BBC America

Oh my gods. (that’s a show reference) I know. I’m not doing myself any favors and I’m beginning to think I would have a lot to talk about with Dwight Schrute if we ever came face to face. But come on. It’s Battlestar Gallactica. So say we all! Find out of you’re a Cylon (all along the watchtower) stating at 5am.

Sunday

Mad Men – AMC

It’s going to be a while before MM is back with new episodes. To help us get our fix, AMC is giving us three episode mini marathons every Sunday from now until it comes back sometime next year. I guess that will have to do. So, fellas, slick back that hair and pour yourself some whiskey, and ladies? Put on some heels and get in the kitchen. Watch Mad Men every Sunday starting at 5am.

American Pickers – History

No show makes me appreciate junk more than this show. Start digging through piles of it at 7am!

What are you most looking forward to catching up on or watching for the first time this weekend? Are you judging me for how nerdy I am? Or do you have a recipe for lembas bread you want to share?

 

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Molly Gentry is a lover of anything Jimmy Fallon or Tina Fey related and a nap enthusiast. You can find her on Twitter and FacebookRead more posts from Molly.

Mid-Monday pick me up

Wow. Talk about a casual interview.  This might be the best thing I’ve seen in a long time, virally speaking. I didn’t think I would be able to like Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe any more than I do now, but after watching just a few minutes of this 16 minute interview, it’s official: I want to be his BFF. Most people would probably turn up their nose at his seemingly disgusting way of living, but I see it as endearing and I know he wouldn’t judge me if he ever came over to my apartment because we’re both believers in the floor-drobe way of “sorting/organizing” our clothes. (Floor-Drobe! Brilliant!) And kudos to him for knowing you can clean windows with newspaper. It’s really the only way to do it.

There’s just so much to love about this interview. His nervous laughter, his dropping Rupert Grint’s name (they really are friends!) and just his general awesomeness.

Enough from me, you can watch the video here.

Enjoy!

Baby, it’s (getting) cold outside

Yesterday Entertainment Weekly broke the news that Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams have recorded yet another version of Baby, It’s Cold Outside. I couldn’t be more happy about this! Not only is it a great song, but these two could sing anything together and it would sound fantastic, as evidence by this gem.

Many people got tired of the growling and the scatting from each of them, but when every other performance on American Idol is a beauty queen or Adam Lambert wannabe, I’ll take the growling any day.

But I digress.

Even though this isn’t a Christmas song (they just talk about the weather, you guys. There’s no mention of baby Jesus at all), it gets played repeatedly on all the adult contemporary All Christmas All The Time stations in December. Some people get tired of it, but it’s my go-to jam when the weather is dark and cold and what other people would deem “yucky”. I love it!

So, I got to thinking; what are the best versions of this song? There’s a ton out there and I probably haven’t heard half of them, but I’m going to share my top 3 favorite versions now! You’re welcome.

3. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan

Here’s a pretty classic version of this song that would be good playing in the background of any Christmas party. There’s not much pizazz to this version, Ella and Louis know how to sing it like pros.

2. Ray Charles and Betty Carter

If you want a sexy, jazzy version of this song then look no further! This version actually took a little while to grow on me, but on repeat listens you hear how smooth and effortlessly they sing together. Pair the downplayed vocals with the ramped up horns and it’s pretty hard not to love.

1. Johnny Mercer and Margaret Whiting

You absolutely can’t go wrong with this version of Baby, It’s Cold Outside. What I like so much about this one is how animated they are when singing. They aren’t just singing the words, they’re acting them out vocally so that you can picture them bickering at each other during each line of the song. It really is pretty brilliant. The best part is Margaret’s gasp in the middle of the line “I’ll take your hat (gasp) your hair looks swell.” Love it. It’s also kind of hard to find a version where both male and female vocals are bearable. Sometimes the male outshines the female or vise-verse, but I can’t find anything to complain about with Johnny and Margaret. It’s perfect.

I’m going to go ahead and give an Honorable Mention to She & Him. Their version on their new Christmas album released just last week is the first version I’ve ever heard where they switched roles. M. Ward sings the traditionally female part and Zooey Deschanel sings the male part and it works. To me it sounds a bit frantic and rushed and I’m not a huge fan of the echo effect on Zooey’s voice, but it’s different and I like it. Well played, She & Him!

Because I like you guys so much, here is a playlist of 10 versions, including my 3 favorite, of Baby, It’s Cold Outside to get you all in the cold weather spirit. So, fix yourself half a cocktail and light up a cigarette because it’s going to be a cold one!

What are your favorite versions? Did I miss one that I need to know about?

(Be sure to click on the EW link above to hear a sample of Haley and Casey’s duet. But be quick! It’s only available for 24 hours, but the official download will be available November 21)

Strawberry Swing

Well, it had to happen. My number one song got stolen yesterday by Haley in this excellent description of the video for Strawberry Swing. It’s also one of my favorite’s, if not the favorite, from Viva la Vida. Whenever I hear it, I instantly think of summer and how I should be frolicking in a big field of dandelions or swinging on a tire swing. Weird? Maybe. But some songs just scream summer, and this one does that for me.

The video is also just wonderful. Chris Martin in tights and a cape fighting off a giant squirrel! And I’m in love with the thousands of butterflies at the end of the video. It’s just perfect.

The Hardest Part

This video is high on the top of my list strictly because it is so flippin’ hysterical. Is it really one of my favorite Coldplay songs? Honestly, no. I much prefer this “stripped down” version they did live during their Viva La Vida tour. It was ah-mah-zing (b-t-dubs, ah-mah-zing will never get old). And I even taught myself how to play the piano diddy at the end by listening to it over and over and over.. I was kind of obsessed with it at one point.

I love everything about this video. The horrible women’s talk show called Attitudes (it was real!), Linda Dano and her awful hair, Chris Martin’s Miami Vice-inspired get-up, his hair!, the May-December dancing duo. I mean, really. What’s not to like here?

Trouble

“Trouble” is easily one of my favorite songs from Parachutes. It’s mellow-ness makes it the perfect song to have playing on a day when all you want to do is lie on the couch and listen to music. It’s so good, there’s not one, but two videos for it. That’s right! Two!

This first one is my favorite of the two. It’s captures the mood perfectly because the song is about the band tying each other up in chairs in dark ally-ways right?

This one is very dream-like and while it’s hilarious to watch Will Champion pretend like he steering a horse and buggy, it just doesn’t fit with the song. A for effort though.

Which version is your favorite?

Violet Hill

As JT pointed out yesterday, Coldplay has a knack for picking a theme for each of their albums and sticking with that theme. That’s why I really love the video for Violet Hill. Chris Martin has said that he was influenced by Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables while writing this album and it’s obvious. I love the gritty look and feel of the video and the dirt all over their uniforms, the military-style drums and Chris Martin’s fascination with a magnifying glass and a hammer.

But probably the best part about this video is that it has the feel of a home movie, especially during the bridge when they’re sitting around the piano and just having a laugh. It looks like they’re four boys who found these really awesome costumes and props and played dress up for an afternoon and just happened to get it on tape.

What’s not to like about that?

Fix You

This is my absolute favorite Coldplay song. It just is. However, it’s getting bumped to near the bottom of my top 7 list because there just isn’t much to the video. As weird and theatrical as most of Coldplay’s videos are, it’s strange to me that this one is so.. lackluster. I would expect to be balling my eyes out after watching a video for such a sad/sweet song. Just think of the storytelling that could’ve been! But, no. We get Chris Martin walking along the highway, then realizing he’s late for a gig, takes off and makes it just in time for the big finish. I’m not complaining. I love when he starts to book it when the guitar riff comes in and that twirling light bulb deal? It’s even better live. I guess I’m just wondering what could have been. Maybe there’s some deeper meaning there that I’m just not picking up, or maybe they just didn’t have time to fulfill my dream of a Travis Tritt-like epic sob story music video. They just don’t make videos like this anymore.

My favorite part of this video is the footage from the concert. When, at the end, the audience is singing the end of the chorus and Chris Martin and Johnny Buckland have huge smiles on their faces. I can only imagine what it must feel like to have thousands of people singing a song that you wrote back to you with such enthusiasm. Must be nice.

I’ll leave you with two videos today; the music video, of course and the  use of Fix You at the end of one of my favorite episodes of Scrubs. Talk about the perfect use of this song in a TV show, Scrubs always knew how to do that.