Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks - Store/Supermarket/Mall Movies

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join us by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and telling us about them, so we can choose our weekend viewing!

Yes, it's true! This week Thursday Movie Picks is going to the mall! Or, you know, a record store. Or grocery store. Or book store. Or department store. You know. A place where you go to buy things.

I have to admit, all those movies and more crossed my mind, but I had either used them before, or they had maybe one or two scenes that fit, which is really not enough in my mind. So it was difficult picking these, but here we are! And I'm pretty happy with these three. I hope you like them, too!

High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000) Let me get this out of the way right off the bat: The book by Nick Hornby is one of my All-Time favorites. The movie isn't. But as far as adaptations go, I gotta say this one is pretty dynamite. John Cusack works in a record store with Jack Black and Todd Louiso, and together they form a sort of all-knowing trio of too-cool-for-school music snobs, constantly rating things in Top Five lists. Cusack's Rob is finally in a relationship he thinks will stick, except that she meets someone else, and he spirals into a funk trying to figure out his life, even to the point of looking up his exes to find out where those relationships went wrong, and if maybe possibly he could get them back. All of this sounds insufferable, and to be fair, if you can't stand Cusack (or Jack Black, perfectly cast as he may be) it might be. But I found this to be far funnier and more delightful to watch than I ever could have possibly imagined.

Miracle on 34th Street (George Seaton, 1947) This is the one. The best Christmas movie ever. Says me. Who does not celebrate Christmas. At the very least, it is the most American Christmas movie ever made, interrogating (however lightly) our consumerist culture and what we truly think the "Spirit of Christmas" is. Is Edmund Gwenn's Kris Kringle really Santa Claus? Does it even matter? Everything about this movie is just charming, from Gwenn's infectious smile, to Natalie Wood's early onset teen angst, to Maureen O'Hara's gradual opening up to joy. Both the joy of Christmas and the joy of buying things at Macy's. Aw, I joke because I love! Also: This is one of my favorite trailers EVER. I mean, they don't even use more than 5 seconds of footage from the film! Not even a HINT of what it's about! BRILLIANT.

Chocolat (Lasse Hallström, 2000) This may be stretching the theme a bit, but Juliette Binoche's Vianne Rocher does open a shop where she sells chocolate (in a town, of course, that is overly pious and sees sweets, ESPECIALLY that lustful, sinful chocolate, as the devil's food). And also, this deserves a re-evaluation by people who think little of it because it (undeservedly) received a whole lot of Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. I'll freely admit that it's not THAT good, but it has its pleasures, not the least of which are Binoche and Judi Dench's performances as the earthy, sensuous Vianne and the local old crone, respectively. It's simple, but very sweet, not unlike most really good chocolate.


  1. I haven't seen any of these, though I've seen parts of High Fidelity. I actually didn't know what Chocolat was even about, I've only seen the title before. lol

  2. Great picks!

    I'm not much of a fan of Cusack outside of The Sure Thing but I liked him in High Fidelity, same goes for Jack Black but he fit here. I haven't read the book but my niece loved it as much as you, it lead her to read all Nick Hornby's work.

    I was surprised by the overdone outpouring of love for Chocolat which I saw in the theatre when it came out. I thought it was an enjoyable puff piece and nothing more but I guess it caught the zeitgeist of the moment.

    I LOVE Miracle on 34th Street!! Don't know about it being the best Christmas movie ever, I lean more towards White Christmas and Christmas in Connecticut myself, but it's all the things that fabulous trailer said...A real Groovey Movie! Adore the entire cast including Thelma Ritter's tiny bit "Well, I'll tell ya. I never done much shopping here before, but I'll tell ya one thing. From now on I'm going to be a regular Macy's customer." in perfect Brooklynese. Classic.

    Speaking of the trailer it was brilliant in how it promoted the movie and the studios stars at the same time, Sexy Rexy on the lot making Anna and the King of Siam, don't forget that Miss Anne Baxter is a recent Oscar winner for a 20th film! And look little Peggy Ann Garner is growing up, She Drives!!, and is a hip chick!

    This was relatively easy for me this week with my three just popping into my head.

    Who’s Minding the Store? (1963)-Dog walker Norman (Jerry Lewis) loves the beautiful Barbara (Jill St. John) but Barbara’s from money, a fact Norman is unaware of. Her family owns a highly successful department store and her mother, Mrs. Tuttle (Agnes Moorehead) is determined to break them up. Norman goes to work in the store and tries to prove himself while Mrs. Tuttle’s minion, Mr. Quimby (Ray Walston) gives him ever more humiliating tasks. Typical Lewis comedy is a bit sweeter than usual and has a great cast.

    The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)-Annoyed to hear workers at one of his stores are trying to form a union the world's richest man John P. Merrick (Charles Coburn) decides to check it out for himself. Going incognito he gets a job there on the hunt for what he sees as troublemakers but discovers instead that the employee’s grips are legitimate when he befriends Miss Mary Jones (Jean Arthur), another worker at the store. In time Merrick ends up carrying the flag for the workers to be treated decently…and maybe has found a love of his own. Played for laughs but with an underlying serious social tone.

    Employees Entrance (1933)-Harsh pre-code tells the story of a soulless bastard (Warren William) and what he does as he ruthlessly oversees the running of a large department store during the depression. He thinks nothing of trading work for sexual favors, throwing people out of work who displease him, demeaning his employees sometimes to the point of suicide. A candid if unpleasant portrait of a contemptible man all the more vivid because of being produced just before the Hays Office would have made its production unthinkable.

  3. High Fidelity is one of the most relatable stories ever told. It plays like me and my friends sitting around talking about movies and songs and that. So well-written, much of which originate in, as you stated, Hornby's superior novel. But it's a solidly well-made film that is pretty unique as far as comedies are concerned. If you can believe it, I've never seen Miracle on 34th Street (for shame) nor Chocolat, despite my Mom's never-ending attempts. Now, I'll think twice. Great picks!

  4. I have not seen High Fidelity which is popular today because I'm not a fan of Jack Black but might give it a try. I LOVE, LOVE! LOVE the trailer you found for Miracle on 34th Street. This is my 2nd favourite Christmas film with Its a Wonderful like being first but what a great movie. I love that they got Sexy Rexy in the trailer. I think one of my favourite scenes is when Maureen O' Hara's co-worker made the martinis triple strength. That phone scene is hilarious and the actress deserved an Oscar mom for such a short scene. I love Chocolate as well and find it a a very dreamy that shows she needed healing as much as the tow folk. I don't think it deserved as many accolades as it got but it is a nice film. I think Johnny Depp was not suited well with Juliette Binoche..he seems too immature for her.

  5. I've only seen Miracle on 34th Street and that was a really long time ago. Keep telling myself I'm going to rewatch it. Maybe this year around Christmas time.

  6. I haven't seen any of these but I really want to watch High Fidelity. Great picks!

  7. I haven't seen any of these, but I think I'll watch Miracle on 34th Street this Christmas.

  8. I love love High Fidelity - it made me want to work in a record shop - for a limited time. And I STILL need to watch Chocolat.

  9. I would never have thought of it but you're right, Binoche's character does open her own shop in Chocolat.

    And I don't know how Cusack's Rob manages to keep his store open with his overly judgy employees.