Great Movie Moments with Dessert

Today is #NationalChocolateCakeDay, so of course the first thing that came to mind for me was how The Outsiders would eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

Outsiders Chocolate Cake

Sidenote: Please don’t reboot this movie, Hollywood. You’re not going to find a cast that matches the star power of these “Greasers”. 

The Outsiders

A movie becomes memorable by appealing to the several senses of its audience. A great line that tickles you funny. An emotional scene that pulls your heart strings. Or that thing that got your sweet-tooth senses tingling.

Here’s a list of scenes that stick with you, thanks to something tasty.

“Come with me, and you’ll be…”

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, 1971

This song will be stuck in your head for the next week. You’re welcome.

 

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

The Godfather, 1972

If you grew up in Italian kitchens like I did, you’re picking up cannolis wherever you see them. As you do so, without question this exact scene runs through your head every time.

 

“The 5 cent one?!”

Once Upon a Time in America, 1984

Strong lesson in picking up dessert before a date.

 

“Baby? Ruth?”

Goonies, 1985

You should see how strong I am when in a similar a situation and Reese’s peanut butter cup is just out of my reach.

 

“Oh Rufio…?”

Hook, 1991

Is it weird that thing I remember most from this movie, outside of the Rufio chants and Dustin Hoffman’s ticking mustache, are the frosting pies? Literally just frosting in a pie crust…Just me?

“I’ve gotta know what a $5 shake tastes like.”

Pulp Fiction, 1994

Of my 5 favorite lines from Pulp Fiction, 2 have to do with food. This one, and the “Royale with cheese.”

 

“Lieutenant Dan, ICE CREAM!”

Forrest Gump, 1994

If you happen to ever get Dairy Queen with me, I will more than likely do an incredible impression of this and either make you laugh…or embarrass the hell out of you.

“Wait for the cream…”

Inglorious Basterds, 2009

Christoph Waltz set the bar pretty high for himself when Quentin Tarantino introduced him to American cinema audiences with Inglorious Basterds. His “Hans Landa” will go down as an all-time movie villain and he won an Oscar for it. He also made eating strudel way more suspenseful than it needed to be.

 

“Who’s got the throat slitter?”

The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014

The Mendl’s cakes play a HUGE role in this film, and look absolutely delicious. Thankfully there’s a “How-To” video for making them yourself.

 

“Chocolate lava cake is not just undercooked chocolate cake.”

Chef, 2014

Chef is one of my favorite films in recent years. It actually inspired me to do my Food Truck Challenge this past summer. And now our list has come full circle because CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE.

Note: American Pie, Matilda, and Stand By Me were left off because those scenes only make you lose your appetite.

Do some more memorable scenes come to mind? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

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The New “Soft Side” of Deadpool Clip

Some of you probably have Valentine’s Day weekend plans. Dinner reservations, something cute and romantic, a cab sav picked out for the occasion (I would)…Then there’s the rest of us who are severely single and looking for ways to avoid our Facebook and Instagram feeds for an extended period of time. Maybe a pint of Ben & Jerry’s too.

Thanks to some insanely good marketing, Deadpool has my attention for that weekend. Ever since the early August release of the Red Band trailer, Ryan Reynolds and the movie’s promotional team have hit fans of the “Merc with a Mouth” in all the right places. Even on Australia Day, he got some necessary shots in on Wolverine.

Today, the softer side to Wade Wilson emerged along with some super cute chemistry with Morena Baccarin. The clip is pretty adorable and relatively NSFW (so be sorta discreet at the office, jerks).

 

Go ahead and put me down for 1 ticket to a February 12th screening. If I need to get 2, let me know on Facebook or Twitter

Looking Past ‘Batman v Superman’ Because of ‘Suicide Squad’ Trailer, ‘Wonder Woman’ Footage

The more Batman v. Superman trailers and clips are released, the less enthused many are getting about it.

Even Deadpool and his film’s marketing team are having fun at the Man of Steal and Dark Knight’s expense.

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It’s still an exciting year for superhero fansDeadpool hits theaters February 12th, Batman v. Superman will be out March 25th, Captain America: Civil War May 6th, and X-Men: Apocalypse May 27th.

Warner Brothers and DC seem to already be looking beyond Batman v. Superman by releasing a new Suicide Squad trailer, which is due out August 5th. After seeing it myself, so am I.

Unlike the recent BvS promotions, the Suicide Squad stuff doesn’t give too much away. And more importantly, it’s FUN. The dialog is a little cheesy, but that comes with the Summer blockbuster territory.

Suicide Squad poster

Also looking ahead, Warner Bros. produced a featurette for the upcoming Wonder Woman film (June 23rd, 2017). The intent might’ve been to get you interested in BvS, but I might be more intrigued in her standalone film instead.

Next step would be to incorporate the DC TV universe into their film universe, but that’s a rant for another day.

 

Vote for your pick and check out more on Facebook or Twitter

Top 25 Films of 2015 – The Final List

It took until 2016 to get this list done, but that’s the price of being thorough…and loving movies.

I released a list at the end of the summer and another before the holidays. Of course, studios waited till Christmas and after to release some of the most anticipated films of the year. Just in time for the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees, here are my Top 25 – The films I liked, really liked, and loved.

25. Carol

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It’s elegant and shot beautifully. Cate Blanchett has the title character but Rooney Mara is the one you’re invested in. I would have loved to see this film shot decades ago with Audrey Hepburn in Mara’s role. Kyle Chandler’s classic look would have fit in nicely. Also enjoyed the appearance from Cory Michael Smith who is currently The Riddler on FOX’s Gotham. It’s fitting.

24. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

MI Rogue Nation 2015

It was a strong year for blockbuster franchises. There are two more represented further down this list. The Mission Impossible series seems to get better as time goes on and fortunately for them, Rogue Nation hit theaters before Spectre did with a similar plot and much better execution. 

23. Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation 2015

Idris Elba seems to show us in everything he does that he is one of the best actors of our time, and this Netflix Original film gets him closer to the acclaim he properly deserves. Beasts of No Nation is also a milestone for Netflix that shows they should be taken seriously as a film studio and not just for television…Just try to avoid the string of unfortunate Adam Sandler flicks they will be putting out for a while.

22. Creed

Creed 2015

Creed is a very good sports movie. It reminded me a lot of the first Rocky film. I love how they filmed the fights and Sylvester Stallone deserves every “best supporting actor” nomination he gets. We’re reminded how great an actor he is, and how awesome a character Rocky Balboa is in this film. Michael B. Jordan is certainly in store for big things and this film is a clear sign of that. I just wished they held back on the cheese factor of a certain training scene and that his “big opponent” was a much more memorable character. 

21. Trumbo

TR_08395.dng

The acting in Trumbo is outstanding. The hype was real regarding Bryan Cranston’s performance. Both Helen Mirren and John Goodman play their parts very well. The correlation between how members of the American communist party were treated and some of our society’s current issues today strikes a chord. I just wish I hadn’t seen so many of the big scenes in the trailer already and that the directing was better.

20. The Big Short

The Big Short 2015

The more I think about The Big Short, the more I think I liked it. Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling are all awesome in the film and it’s incredibly smart. Hamish Linklater is also an excellent complement, similar to his role in The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams. The constant explaining of every economic term (which might have been necessary) gets distracting and the comedic approach takes away some of the necessary emotional investment. Had I not seen 99 Homes, I probably would have appreciated this film a lot more while watching it. 

19. 99 Homes

99 Homes 2015

Like The Big Short, 99 Homes takes place during the financial and housing crisis but it’s way much more of a punch to the gut. You get the perspective of people who lost their homes from the crisis, and it’s even more of a thriller because you have no idea how these people will react to those who have to break the news to them. Michael Shannon is also as good as anyone in supporting actor categories from this film.

18. Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton 2015

The music, the acting, the “Bye Felicia” scene…

Straight Outta Compton was an awesome biopic and it told a story that I think a lot of younger hip hop fans needed to hear, considering how influential members of NWA really are to the genre. The only reason I don’t have it ranked higher is because it did feel long by the end. 

17. Love & Mercy

Love and Mercy 2015

Love and Mercy was another biopic (also with Paul Giamatti as a jerk manager) that I enjoyed, but this one stuck with me a lot longer after. Paul Dano is great as young Brian Wilson and for once John Cusack is a lot less “John Cusack”-ish than he is in most of his roles. Elizabeth Banks also gives one of the more underrated performances in film from this year. If you’re like me, you probably listened to “Pet Sounds” for a week after seeing it.

16. The Walk

The Walk 2015

I’m a little disappointed The Walk isn’t getting more chatter during awards season. Obviously I think there are better films, but Robert Zemeckis did a brilliant job utilizing 3D, especially for the climax of the film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ben Kinglsey were both remarkably charming as well. 

15. The Hateful EightHateful Eight 2015

It’s not Quentin Tarantino’s best, but “Not Tarantino’s Best” is still better than most. The second half of the film was up there with some of his most entertaining…and bloodiest. For me, this was Walton Goggins’s coming out party on the big screen. Loved him in Justified and The Shield. I think it’s obvious Tarantino did too.

14. Mississippi Grind 

Mississippi Grind

It was too appropriate that I watched this film while waiting to hear my lottery numbers called. Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn has the All-American Asshole role down between this and Bloodline, yet knows just how to make you feel for him. Sure, Ryan Reynolds plays another good-looking fast talker, but his whole “who, what, and why” deal keeps you as intrigued as the constant gambling…which is enough drama by itself. 

13. Ex Machina

Ex Machina 2015

This was a big year for all 3 stars of Ex Machina. Oscar Isaac continued his path to Pacino-status with his roles in Show Me A Hero and Star Wars, which Domhnall Gleeson also stars in (as well as Brooklyn and The Revenant). Alicia Vikander has a good chance of getting both Best Actress and Supporting Oscar nominations for her roles in The Danish Girl and Ex Machina. Her character, Ava, still haunts my dreams as well. It’s an unreal suspense film. 

12. The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour 2015

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…I can’t recall a time where I’ve seen two actors be so natural interacting with each other for a film. That’s all this film is…a long weekend conversation from Bloomington-Normal to Minnesota and back, with honest thoughts and feelings. I’m happy to see Jason Segel is getting some acclaim as well for his portrayal of David Foster Wallace.

11. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs 2015

Yes, I’m a HUGE Sorkin fan, but I found the approach to this biopic to be incredibly original. It wasn’t your typical “start-to-end” story, but just 3 different periods in time and how each person has evolved in that time. It also helps that everyone involved nails it with their parts, especially Michael Fassbender.

10. Brooklyn

Brooklyn 2015

If anyone is challenging Brie Larson for Best Actress, it’s Saoirse Ronan. She and Brooklyn do an amazing job of making you feel all the emotions you can muster. It also helps that two of my TV crushes, Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak, Arrow) and Jessica Paré (Megan Draper, Mad Men), have solid roles in the film. The contrast in two worlds during the 1950s and how Eilis (Ronan) evolves is what makes the film.

 

09. Inside Out

Inside Out 2015

A movie about feelings makes you feel feelings…and even more than the typical Pixar feelings (which is saying a lot, considering the first 3 minutes to Up). It also helps that they casted all the right people for all the right feelings.

08. The Martian

The Martian 2015

I came across a Facebook friend listing his “Top 10” and he said he hadn’t seen The Martian because “It looked like Castaway in space.” He is very wrong…unless he values Jeff Daniels, Donald Glover, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Michael Pena, Jessica Chastain, and Kate Mara to all be a volleyball named Wilson. There’s also a Lord of the Rings reference that probably won the film “Best Comedy” at the Golden Globes by itself. 

07. The Revenant

The Revenant 2015

I have a very difficult time seeing anyone other than Leonardo DiCaprio winning Best Actor at the Oscars. Maybe Bryan Cranston, but Leo will be SO pissed if he doesn’t because of everything he went through for this film…It’s pretty evident.

06. Room

Room 2015

The Best Actress category at any awards show is Brie Larson’s to lose because of Room. Jacob Tremblay is amazing as well…just be prepared to have your heart strings pulled hard.

05. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road is a 2 hour long roller coaster of action, explosions, and rock’n’roll. I don’t recall taking a breath between the start and end. The twisted and beautiful mind of George Miller is on full awesome display. 

04. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 2015

I think we all have our personal movies that connect with us in more ways than most and matches our personalities. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl was that movie for me, my favorite from the summer. There’s also something about Nick Offerman as a sociology professor, robe-wearing, cat-obsessed dad that still tickles me funny.

03. Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies 2015

Bridge of Spies is about as good a film as you could ask for from a combination of Steven Spielberg and the Coen Brothers…I was pleasantly surprised to see that the latter wrote the movie once the closing credits rolled. It was all meant for someone like Tom Hanks to lead in. There is one scene toward the end that I found to be as powerful as any in 2015. 

02. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars- The Force Awakens

The best way I’ve heard The Force Awakens described is that it hit all the right spots in all the right ways…It really did. Nostalgia and newness brilliantly combined. Fantastic well-timed humor that the past films lacked. If you waited for something to disappoint you, you’d only be disappointed by the fact that you’re still waiting. It’s also the only other film, besides #1, that I went back to see in the theater again and appreciated more for it.

01. Spotlight

Spotlight 2015

I really don’t think there was a better performance by an ensemble this year. It was a refreshing take on journalism, not over-glorifying the industry but simply presenting how a paper goes about getting a story. All the comparisons to All The President’s Men are warranted. I will also stump hard for Mark Ruffalo getting Best Supporting Actor recognition, even when the category is heavy enough as is. 

 

What does your list look like? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

Who Is the Best Fit on the ‘Han Solo Spinoff’ Shortlist?

Although shooting doesn’t even start for another year from now, Disney and Lucasfilm are close to naming their new Han Solo for the spinoff Star Wars film series. Similar to how Disney and Marvel plan to introduce their new Spider-Man, Tom Holland, with a small role in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War before his own feature film, a young Han Solo may appear in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story due out December 16th, 2016. The spinoff films take place between Episodes III and IV, so the target Solo actor is between the ages of 20 and 29.

Variety is reporting that “after seeing thousands of actors”, the list is down to Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Dave Franco, Jack Raynor, Scott Eastwood, Logan Lerman, Emory Cohen, and Blake Jenner. There may be more in consideration, but Variety knows the names have made the cut and that an announcement should be made within the next couple weeks.

The two names I don’t want to hear announced for the role are…

Solo Chicken

…Miles Teller and Dave Franco. The bad press around last summer’s Fantastic Four failure were as much Teller’s fault as anyone. He’s also just not that damn likable. Sure, it worked for Whiplash, but even then I found myself hoping every bad thing possible would happen to his character. And unless Franco has non-“Frat Guy Party”film on the horizon, I don’t need his smug grin flying the Millennium Falcon.

So who does fit, if the two more recognizable names don’t? Who pulls off the perfect combination of charm, cockiness, rough-around-the edges, and warmth that will make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs?

Rather than brainstorm actors that could be potentially better, let’s work with the 3 best names on the list.

1. Emory Cohen

Emory Cohen

When I first read the list, Emory Cohen stuck out the most to me. Maybe it’s because I just saw him in Brooklyn, but the heart and humor in his performance were convincing enough. He has the smirk, the charm, the mannerisms, and he’s coming off a very successful film with Oscars buzz.

(Also in The Gambler, Beneath the Harvest Sky, and The Place Beyond The Pines)

2. Scott Eastwood

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 2.00.11 PM

The son of Clint Eastwood is the oldest of the actors in the running at 29 years old. Scott Eastwood has the pedigree and yes, the looks. Eastwood is also setting himself up to breakout in action/adventure films with a mysterious role in the upcoming Suicide Squad film. Rumors have him pegged as either Deathstroke or Dick Grayson but nothing is confirmed. Eastwood will be starring alongside Walton Goggins (Hateful Eight, Justified) in the upcoming western, Diablo. Han Solo is the closest thing Star Wars has to a space cowboy, so…

(Also in Gran Torino, Fury, and The Longest Ride)

 

3. Blake Jenner

Blake Jenner

Blake Jenner is young and a Glee alum, and feels like a dark horse pick. Most of his short resume is TV related, but he has some projects on the way that could lead to bigger things. Growing with Star Wars in spinoff franchise could be cool to see. He’ll be appearing in upcoming Supergirl episodes and could breakout in Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some. It looks like what happens when Dazed and Confused goes to college.

 

4. Logan Lerman

Film Review The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Certainly not my favorite in the bunch, considering I like 3 more ahead of him, but Logan Lerman’s filmography section on his IMDB page is a bit more impressive than most on the shortlist. His starring role in Fury a year ago showed he’s matured from the Percy Jackson franchise. The babyface might hold him back from being the right fit, or maybe that’s exactly what Lucasfilm is looking for…I’ve also been rooting for him ever since Perks of Being a Wallflower. 

(Also in The Three Musketeers, 3:10 To Yuma, and The Patriot. 

Who would you like to see cast as young Han Solo? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

‘The Revenant’ Gets ‘Park and Recreation” Theme Treatment

Tonight’s the night. (Dexter Morgan voice)

The first showings for Leonardo DiCaprio and  Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s highly anticipated revenge flick, The Revenant. 

Thankfully, the internet has concocted something amazing for you before you go check it out! Mashup artist and comedian Demi Adejuyigbe put together this bad boy, since Pawnee apparently gets a lot of love in the movie.

If I were to recast Parks and Recreation characters with Revenant actors, I’d have Tom Hardy as April Ludgate.

April Hates People

For more, follow along on Facebook or Twitter…or The Bear gets you! 

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Coming Soon To MichaelPiff Dot Com in 2016

For everyone who has followed along or checked in over the last year and a half, thank you so much for doing so. If people didn’t read, I wouldn’t write…Your encouragement for me to to keep doing so is more appreciated than you know.

The plan in 2016 is to continue covering everything in movies, music, sports, TV and food, but to generate more and more fun and entertaining content for all the topics this blog has become known for. Below is a list of things I look forward to featuring on the site and hope to get your input on. I am also always open to ideas and collaboration, so please feel free to reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or email me at piff.michael@gmail.com. I would like to include guest posts as well, so PLEASE let me know if you’re interested.

The Burger Challenge

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Just like the Pizza Challenge a year ago, I’m looking for the Chicago area’s best burger! So far I have visited 10 burger joints and plan to have 40 ranked before summer. Above are some of the awesome items that I’ve tried and I’m always looking for recommendations.  Follow along on Twitter and Instagram as the list grows, and let me know if you’d like to team up for an upcoming burger adventure.

Note: A Wings Challenge has been suggested as the next project. Stay tuned for that.

 

Movie/TV Madness Tournament

An annual tradition for those who have followed my work for the past few years, I’ve conducted a multi-week bracket tournament for both TV shows and movies. In the spirit of the NCAA Tournament, we list 68 competitors and break them up by region with appropriate seedings. Readers vote round-by-round on the winners of each matchup. The madness happens in March, but stay tuned to see if you’ll be voting on movies or TV shows this year.

Ballpark Foodie

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Something I look for when visiting stadiums across the country is a unique and awesome food item I can’t get anywhere else. Starting this Spring, I’ll be reaching out to Major League Baseball organizations to see what baseball fans can look forward to at the concession stands for the 2016 season. I’ll be checking out as many ballparks as possible but if you happen to find something yourself, please send a photo my way on Twitter with the hashtag #BallparkFoodie and I’ll feature it here!

 

TV Show and Movie Power Rankings

BB-8 Thumbs Up

I wrote up a few lists regarding my favorite TV Shows and movies from the past year (The 2015 Movie List will be complete after The Revenant finally hits theaters). Rather than wait months at a time for new lists, I’ll have an updated Power Rankings for new movies and favorite TV shows as I watch them every couple weeks. Look forward to how Batman v Superman stacks up against Captain America: Civil War, and House of Cards with Game of Thrones…There will also be a pre-season 6 ranking of all surviving (or speculated to be surviving) Thrones characters.

 

The 2016 Fantasy Football Draft Board

Cam Dance

ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper will be updating their NFL Draft boards up until the first pick is called…I’ll be doing the same this year with all Fantasy Football positions. If you’re like me, you’re already thinking about your first round pick for next year’s Fantasy draft. From the end of this season until draft time next year, I’ll have a regularly updated version of my Fantasy “Cheat Sheet” for you to prepare.

 

More Mixtapes!

Ron Swanson rectangle

The college radio DJ in me LOVES sharing music and giving people a look into what I’m listening nowadays. It also encourages me to check out new artists and tracks and see if they’re worth including in upcoming playlists. Here are the mixtapes from 2015, and lookout for what’s to come in 2016. Maybe we’ll finally get new Radiohead and Tool that we keep hearing about.

The #Twitter101

Twitter 101

In 2015, I started a new tradition of keeping a list of my favorite follows on Twitter. I plan to update the list every year with new accounts and some of old reliables that make Twitter fun to be on. If you recommend anyone to follow or would like to nominate yourself for consideration, just say so here!

 

The New Piffcast 2.0 (Finally)

Pirate Piffcast

When I started writing this blog, I fully intended to relaunch my podcast and feature it here. This year I’m fully committed to bringing it back, discussing all the topics I write about here, getting YOUR thoughts and opinions on-air, interviews with people and experts who know way more than I do, etc. If you’re interested in contributing to the podcast or would like to even sponsor it, contact me via Facebook, Twitter or email me at piff.michael@gmail.com

 

These are just a few of the plans I have for this year, along with the columns and articles that help make this blog what it is. Looking forward to getting things rolling and to make big things happen in 2016! Follow along for all the fun on Facebook and Twitter