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Recommendations: The Devil Wears Prada, In Good Company

July 9, 2009

The astute observer (read: anyone with an internet connection, eyes, and the curiosity to stumble over to my corner of the internet) might have noticed that I don’t post very often (read: at all).


Part of the reason I haven’t been updating as much as I want to recently is because I’ve been absorbed in learning about personal finance, which I just discovered is a topic I find fascinating.

I very briefly considered starting a personal-finance blog, to track my progress, but those topics are currently much better handled by the folks whom I’ve been reading (and I’d probably never update that, either):

Ramit Sethi at I Will Teach You To Be Rich,
J.D. at Get Rich Slowly,
and Trent at The Simple Dollar, among others. And they’re fascinating, but that’s not why we’re here.

I’m posting today because, while reading Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz (recommended by several of the bloggers above), I kept having scenes from various movies pop into my head. Upon having my mind wander in this way, I would consider the scene, and decide if I wanted to put down the truly fascinating book to pull out the movie, or if I wanted to keep reading.

Most of the time I would keep reading, my memory of the scene or movie proving enough to tide me over for the time being. Never Eat Alone is a very interesting book, along the lines of How to Win Friends & Influence People. It’s all about the connections you make in life and in business, and how to nurture your network.

Two of the movies that made me stop and pull them out were The Devil Wears Prada, which is a brilliant film that I’ve watched time and time again, and In Good Company, which I had completely forgotten I owned.

I figured, if I had to stop everything to see them again, I might as well recommend them to everyone else.


Title: The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

[Rent this from, Rent this from Netflix]

Premise: Andrea “Andy” Sachs (Anne Hathaway) dreams of being a journalist for the NewYorker, but mostly just needs to pay rent on her New York apartment. At the end of her rope, despite being completely un-interested in fashion, she applies to work for “Runway”– the only important fashion magazine–and gets hired, much to everyone’s surprise, as assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep)–who might as well be god, as far as the fashion world is concerned.

Miranda turns out to be the devil-incarnate, demanding long hours and impossible tasks of Andy, who struggles with co-workers who hate her and a personal life that’s falling apart. But it’s “the job a million girls would kill to have,” and if she can just stick with it for a year, she’ll be set.

Based on the book of the same name, The Devil Wears Prada is a fascinating story about a young woman’s struggles to find her place in a difficult and often contradictory world.

Genre: drama, uplifting, romance, based on a book

Audience: Anyone remotely interested in fashion; anyone who likes a good, well-written story with strong acting and great highs and lows. Most men would consider it a chick-flick, but I would challenge them to watch it anyway; I think the movie transcends tranditional gender stereotypes, if you have an open mind.

Occasion: A great pick-me-up movie, if you can handle a little character-building adversity with your uplifting moments; excellent to watch with a bunch of friends, possibly while enjoying dessert and a nice glass of wine.

Watch every minute? I caught a lot more of the nuances of the film the second time I saw it, so you’d probably be alright if you were wandering in and out, or you and your friends got caught up in an interesting wine-fueled discussion, but it bears watching several times.

Big Screen vs. Small Screen: Either.

Why I liked it: I love this movie because I’m a sucker for the underdog, down-and-out, plucky hero/heroine stories. Which this is, and then some. Of course it helps that our heroine is played by the lovely and talented Anne Hathaway, who is one of my all-time favorite actors. It also helps that Meryl Streep does a brilliant job of playing the cynical, difficult, down-right evil Miranda Priestly. She provides a wonderful counter-point to Hathaway’s likeable and endearing character.

Not to mention the supporting cast, who are all brilliant (and easy on the eyes). Stanley Tucci makes an appearance as Miranda’s right hand man and Andy’s eventual mentor, and Tracie Thoms plays her best friend, whom some of you might recognize from the theatrical release of Rent, or the short-lived, but fan-beloved tv show, Wonderfalls.

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”: I own this movie because I kept wanting to rent it. Since owning it, I have watched it numerous times (as mentioned above) and have shown it to many of my friends, men and women alike.

If you liked…: I had trouble coming up with titles that might go here (reader input on this topic is always appreciated), but‘s “complicated formula” produced such results as: Rattatouille, Lost in Translation, and The Nanny Diaries (along with Sex and the City, but I haven’t seen that one, myself). I’m not sure I 100% agree with those choices, but in lieu of my own thoughts on the matter, it’s a good place to start. They’re all good movies.


Title: In Good Company (2004)

[Rent this movie from Blockbuster, Rent this movie from Netflix]

Premise: As a talented and successful businessman, Dan (Dennis Quaid) is flummoxed when his company announces a merger with a bigger company, and that there will be “necessary” cuts to the labor. All of a sudden, after twenty-plus years of devoted service, his job, and his career, are in jeopardy. And to top it all off, his new “boss” is a punk kid (Topher Grace, of That 70s Show fame), young enough to be his son.

Both men have important lessons to learn (and to teach), whether he realizes it or not, and if they can just manage to look past appearances and trust each other, and, heaven-forbid, work together, maybe, just maybe, they’ll get to the other end up the upheaval with their dignity, if not their job, intact.

Genre: uplifting, drama, real life

Audience: Might be too touchy if you, or someone you know just lost their job through no fault of their own, but there are good lessons, and a positive message, to be gleaned from this movie, and I highly recommend it.

Occasion: Good for a quiet evening at home with your family; not a good party movie, it’s too thinky.

Watch every minute? It’s not vital to spend every minute glued to the screen, but I’d pause it if you have wander into the kitchen for more popcorn and don’t have a clear view. Or whatever.

Big Screen vs. Small Screen: Either.

Why I liked it: I first saw this movie on a trans-Pacific plane trip (from Tokyo to Chicago). Because we were headed East, the sun basically never set on our flight, so there was very little sleep to be had. Despite being tired, a little jet-lagged, and grouchy that my in-flight blanket was scratchy, I throughly enjoyed the movie. I coudln’t tell you what other two movies I watched on that 18-hour flight, but I remember seeing In Good Company.

I possibly remember it so well because it made me think of my father. He’s spent most of his life working for the same company (as most of our parents have), and I thought the messages and story would resonate with him even more-so than it did with me.

I showed it to my dad, and he enjoyed it, but he did note that it hit a little close to home for him. I guess I can understand that, but I still think it’s a brilliant film. It’s all about relationships and connections and uncommon bonds. It take you on a rollercoaster ride, emotionally, but you sympathize with each character, and hope that they can all get what they need and deserve.

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”: I own, but I’ve only ever watched it twice (once just yesterday, years after buying it the first time). If you watch it the once, and enjoy it, I’ll be happy.

If you liked…: American Beauty and The Devil Wears Prada (interestingly, recommends The Nanny Diaries for this movie, too. Huh.).

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