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Cocoa and Caffeine Hollywood Travels

This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Revisiting My Favorite Films Of The Past Year

The year 2014.  Number of movies watched: 107

This past year has been a busy one, but I still managed to keep up with as much of my movie-viewing habits as I possibly could.  Like many of you, I don't always have the opportunity (nor the inclination) to catch everything while it's playing in theaters.  More often than ever before, I'm watching my entertainment via Netflix or on my iPad.  Rarely do I resort to watching entertainment on my phone, however.  I just can't bring myself to do that-- not on a regular basis.  Call me old-fashioned or just plain stubborn, but I feel I have a moral obligation to myself as well as the filmmaker to watch films on a properly-sized screen.  

Below are my favorite films (and discoveries) from my personal 2014 movie-viewing.  There are many great films here and some that aren't necessarily astonishing as much as they are interesting, provocative, moving, and memorable.

KENDRA'S  FAVORITE FILM (AND REVISITS) - 2014

(In no particular order)



*ALIVE INSIDE (Documentary)
Music is magic.  It can take us out of ourselves and create us at the same time.  It's linked to moments in our lives, memories we thought were long forgotten.  Alive Inside aims to show how personalized music can be used to salvage people from the brink of ailments such as Alzheimers and dementia and make them come to life again in ways you'll have to see to believe.  Directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett.  Featuring Dan Cohen, founder of Music & Memory.


*SCENIC ROUTE
A psychological thriller directed by Kevin and Michael Goetz.  Written by Kyle Killen.

*THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL 
A comedy directed by Wes Anderson.  Written by Stefan Zweig.  Truth: At best, I'm a lukewarm fan of Wes Anderson.  While I appreciate his visual style and the fairy-tale qualities of his films, sometimes these elements prove to be so visible that it takes me out of the story (which isn't necessarily a good thing.)  However, I loved Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Grand Budapest Hotel made me a believer again in the uniqueness that Mr. Anderson brings to the constantly evolving mosaic of modern filmmaking.

*DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee.  Written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
Yes, this is so last year, but I finally got around to seeing it and if you haven't, you should!  It's a heartbreaking tale yet it's a beautiful example of how a small independent film can make a huge impact when all the creative elements align in perfect fashion.

*BLUE JASMINE
Written and directed by Woody Allen.  In my opinion, Cate Blanchett is one of the most underrated and brilliant actresses working today.  To see her perfectly melted into the persona of a New York socialite undergoing massive personal turmoil in a script penned by Woody Allen is in a word: exquisite.

*STORIES WE TELL (Documentary)
Written and directed by Sarah Polley.  We all harbor secrets, some of which are hidden within families for generations.  Sarah Polley is someone I hope to hear more and more about as years go by.  In what seems to be a relatively short period of time by filmmaking standards, she's proven herself as a blossoming talent with impressive potential.  If you see her feature film, Take This Waltz prior to seeing  Stories We Tell, it'll give you a different perspective on this very personal documentary about Sarah's family.  Raw, inspiring and altogether powerful.

*SOMETHING FROM NOTHING: THE ART OF RAP (Documentary)
 A film about the history of rap featuring Ice-T and Dr. Dre? This is not a film I thought I'd be highlighting.  However, it's a surprisingly well-done documentary about the creative process of writing music and poetry as it relates to rap.  Additionally, it tells of how rap came to become a prominent music genre and why rap is both culturally and artistically important in society.

*THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL (Documentary)
I love baseball and I like any good underdog story especially a true one, as this one is.  The Battered Bastards Of Baseball tells the story of the surprising, yet short-lived success of the Portland Mavericks, an independent baseball team functioning outside Major League Baseball in the mid '70s.  Fascinating and inspiring for anyone, especially if your heart is filled with good old-fashioned independent spirit.

*KING OF COMEDY
With a name like Rupert Pupkin, it has to be good.  1982.  Robert DeNiro.  Jerry Lewis.  Nothing more to say.  If you haven't seen it, watch it now.  If you've seen it before, watch it again.  Directed by Martin Scorsese.  Written by Paul D. Zimmerman.

*THANKS FOR SHARING
A romantic comedy about sex addiction.  Funny, honest and entertaining, it covers a subject rarely addressed in feature films beyond the occasional punch-line.  Directed by Stuart Blumberg.  Written by Stuart Blumberg and Matt Winston.  Featuring Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow.

*A HIJACKING
A dramatic thriller about a Danish cargo ship hijacked by Somali Pirates.  In Danish with English subtitles.  Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm.

*GOOD MORNING VIETNAM (1987)
Showcasing the very best of Robin William's talents, he stars as a DJ who shakes things up at a US Armed Forces radio station in Vietnam.  A film worth revisiting-- especially as a tribute to the supremely talented and unique force that is Robin Williams captured on film.  Directed by Barry Levinson.  Written by Mitch Markowitz

*A SHORT HISTORY OF DECAY (2014)
An independent comedy about a failed writer who moves in with his ailing parents in Florida.  For anyone who has lovable parents that have the capacity to annoy the hell out of them, this is for you.  And really, isn't that all of us?  Written and directed by Michael Maren.

*NIGHTCRAWLER
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy.  Jake Gyllenhaal at his creepiest-best playing Lou Bloom, a low-life who hustles his way into the underworld of seedy crime journalism.  Also featuring an outstanding acting turn for Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran local news anchor.

*WILD
Reese Witherspoon portrays Cheyl Strayed, a young woman who tries to shed her own personal demons by partaking in the insurmountable: a solo hike along the 1,100 mile Pacific Crest Trail.  Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee.  Written by Nick Hornby.  Adapted from Cheryl Strayed's memoir, "Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail."  Powerful and inspiring, this film proves that even when we think we've reached our lowest point, nature can soothe us, become our companion, and  allow us trust that everything will be okay again if we simply put one foot in front of the other and believe in ourselves with every ounce of our being.

Copyright © 2015 by Kendra Liedle/@cococaffeine

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year: Start It Off With A Cheery Attitude

Start the year off with a spunky attitude.  Take risks, live life on your own terms and don't take shit from anyone.  I'll drink to that. -KL


Artistic Perfection

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Blank Space At Midnight

I have no shame in letting loose and rocking out to Taylor Swift.  Why not dance my little heart out??!! Truth is, I do it all the time.  No matter what responsibilities you may have or whatever stresses you might be facing, my hope is that you can forget about all of that for a moment or two and lose yourself in something.  

For me, dance is the one thing that allows me to be completely and utterly myself with no filter, no self consciousness and no worries. Find what works for you and embrace that thing, whether it's an activity or a person or your favorite movie.  Get to it now.  Life is waiting.  Happy New Year!!
#TaylorSwift #BlankSpace #HappyNewYear #Embracelife #Dancethenightaway

And here's me dancing the night away.  Celebrating the moment and anticipating a new year filled with good luck, surprises, and hopefully a fulfilled dream (or two!)

-K.Liedle/@cococaffeine



Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays From Cocoa and Caffeine Hollywood Travels

Happy Holidays to one and all!  Be kind, forgiving and thankful. Jingle a bell. Dance if you feel like it. Laugh alot.  Spin a bottle or a dreidel or yourself.  Eat pizza or Chinese food or a plateful of brownies. Get dressed up.  Get naked.  Get drunk.  Do whatever the hell you feel like doing.  It's your holiday after all.  Make it memorable.
Copyright ©2014 by Kendra Liedle/@cococaffeine

Seasons Greetings From The Stars



Sunday, December 21, 2014

In Light Of The Recent Sony Hacking Scandal

In light of the recent Sony hacking scandal, I have to say that I'm not entirely surprised. Corporate cyber attacks have been increasing at an alarming rate in the past few years. Traditionally, hackers have been after databases and personal information that can be used primarily for financial gain. The attack on Sony went far beyond goals of pure financial gain. Its aim appears to be a politically motivated attack to cripple a major corporation into compliance by exposing not only company records but personal email correspondence between Sony executives-- correspondence that has proven to be embarrassing and in several cases, potentially career-ending. Additionally, the hack has exposed countless Sony employees and their families to identity theft. Many of these employees, we'll never know by name. I cannot imagine the frustration, anger, tension and fear they must have been feeling throughout this ordeal. That isn't to say it's over. No, the story doesn't end here. The vastness of this cyberattack is unprecedented in the film industry, make that any industry. (At least that I'm aware of.)

As someone who works in the film business, I'm well aware that certain factors that make our industry unique also give way to a corporate culture that isn't necessarily professional at all times. The entertainment industry is a billion dollar industry that attracts people of all different personalities, egos, levels of expertise and talent (or lack of it.) Add to the mix, the long hours (often spent away from home, on-location), the high stress levels and the possibility of wealth and recognition in a well-known, highly competitive and prestigious industry. At the worst of it, you witness those who are jockeying for position for the greatest personal gain despite where that leaves the rest of the pack. If there's anything to be learned from the Sony hack, it's this: Be careful with what you say in any electronic format, even if it is your personal email. (And really, what's personal anymore anyway?) Anything you say can be taken the wrong way if seen by the eyes of the unintended. This has always been the case, but the Sony story exposing the inner workings of some of Hollywood's top-level executives proves that none of us are immune to the consequences of cyberhacking.

The other lesson learned from this whole fiasco is that film is more than mere entertainment. Both film and television are powerful mediums. They can be used to disseminate propaganda, to make social commentaries, to change (or inform) public opinion about potentially controversial subject matter. Whether we like it or not, films are cultural phenomenon. What we put out there reflects back on us and informs how we're seen on the international stage. This is an incredibly important concept to understand. I personally won't miss "The Interview." I don't think any of us will. But the greater intrigue will be witnessing the far-reaching consequences of the film in the months (and years) to come. And whether or not a precedent has been made that will make it more difficult for films to be openly expressive without fearing retaliation and/or retribution.

Copyright © 2014 by KLiedle/@Cococaffeine