Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pop Quiz: Name These 10 Christmas-Movie Houses


Christmas movie quiz #1#1: They sing! They dance! They trash your house! (Answer)

Christmas Movie quiz

#2: Panic in Paris. (Answer)

Cmas Movie Quiz #3#3: Life Swap. (Answer)

Christmas movie quiz #2

#4: The old man gets a major award. (Answer)

Christmas movie quiz #5

#5: Christmas in Chicago. (Answer)

Christmas movie quiz #6

#6: This family is solid as a rock. (Answer)

Christmas movie quiz #7

#7: Faking it for Christmas. (Answer)

House in lights

#8: Christmas gone wrong. (Answer.)

christmas movie quiz #10

#9: Are You My Mother? (Answer)

Winter exterior

#10: In love with the boy next door. (Answer)

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The Top 10 Movie Houses of 2010


Out of the 50 Movie Houses I featured last year, these were the 10 most popular (most searched for and most read). Did your favorite make the list? Click the links if you want to see the pics!

#10: Sleepless in Seattle

Sleepless in Seattle movie DVD#9: Monster-in-Law

Monster-in-Law Craftsman

#8: Death at a Funeral

Death at a Funeral house

#7: The Proposal

The Proposal movie house

#6: The Parent Trap

The Parent Trap 1961-movie poster

#5: Hope Floats

Hope Floats house

#4: Hanging Up

Hanging Up house

#3: Life As We Know It

life as we know it house

#2: The Blind Side

The Blind Side house

#1 Most-Read Movie Post of 2010: It’s Complicated

It's Complicated movie poster

So tell me–did your dream house make the list? Mine is the one from The Proposal. Love it!I’d be willing to move to Alaska to live in a place like that. :-)

Go to my TV/Movie Houses page to see the entire list of 100+ posts, or check out the Top 10 Movie Houses of 2009.

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The Craftsman House Featured in the Movie “Zathura”


Zathura Craftsman-playing catch

The 2005 family movie Zathura, about an old game that comes to life when you play it, features this wonderful old Greene and Greene Craftsman in Pasadena. During the course of the film, the house gets sent into outer space, invaded by robots and Zorgons, and turned into Swiss cheese by a meteor shower. It’s painful, at times, to watch.

No real houses were harmed in the filming of this movie, however. Director Jon Favreau explains that they built a miniature version of the house and destroyed it instead.

creating Zathura model

The amount of work that was involved in replicating the real house is mind boggling.

model house for Zathura

Here’s how the miniature looked in the movie, when floating through space:

Zathura Craftsman-floating in space

The exterior of the model house matched the real one, but the interiors were invented.

According to Favreau:

“We really wanted the house to feel like something, and feel old, and like it had some character. All the details were chosen from different famous houses, even the fireplace and the fixtures. But it wasn’t furnished well, because we wanted it to look like the dad just moved in. Part of the fun was making a house that, as it came apart, was somewhat tragic–it breaks your heart.”

(Mission accomplished.)

front door

Tim Robbins played the dad. He was only in a few scenes at the beginning and end of the movie. He only had to be there for 2 weeks out of the 6-month shoot.

Here’s his office, where he apparently designed cars:

dad's study 2

dad's study 1

Across the entry hall from his office is the living room, with another fabulous fireplace in it:

living room fireplace

He apologizes to his sons because he knows the house doesn’t feel like “home”yet, and hopes that they’ll come to love it in time:

living room shelves 1

How can they not love it? Look at that woodwork! And those built-ins!

living room shelves 2

After the meteor shower pelts the house, the boys realize they are now floating somewhere out in space:

effects of meteor shower

The front staircase:

front staircase-Zathura

The Boys’ Bedroom:

boys room 1

As the camera quickly pans across the room we get a fleeting look inside the boys’ bathroom:

boys room 4

boys room 3

Kristen Stewart (best known as Bella from the Twilight series, which I coveredhere) plays Walter and Danny’s older sister Lisa, who sleeps through most of the excitement before being cryogenically frozen by the game. Here she is, telling the boys that unless the house is on fire, they should leave her alone:

Kristin Stewart-Lisa in Zathura

One of my favorite lines from this scene is when her brothers say, “But we saw Saturn!” (And she slams the door.)

Lisa’s bathroom:


The Upstairs Landing, before all that gorgeous woodwork gets ripped apart:

upstairs landing

Love that stained-glass window in the stairwell:

front staircase 2-stained glass

It was important to the filmmakers to create a house that looked real, and not like a set. Jon Favreau says, “I came up through independent film, where you’re usually shooting on location. I hate when it looks like you shot on a set instead of on location.”

front stairs 3-going down

We don’t get to see much of the kitchen before it gets blasted apart, but it looks like it was a great one. Love the yellow cabinets and the old subway tile:

kitchen 1

kitchen 3

kitchen 5

Dax Shepherd was a relative newcomer when he played the astronaut who comes by to help them (he’s now starring in the TV show “Parenthood”–I’m working on a post about that one, too):

kitchen 6

All the trouble starts when 6-year old Danny finds this old game in the dark, dusty bowels of the basement and brings it upstairs. When they play it, the game comes to life all around them:

Zathura-tin wind-up game

Frank Oz was the voice of this destructive, red-eyed robot:

robot destroying house

The movie was based on a children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, who also wroteJumanji (another board-game-comes-to-life story) and The Polar Express, among others:

Zathura-Chris Van Allsburg

One of the illustrations from Zathura:

Zathura-book inside

They had to shoot in order because the sets were destroyed by the end of the movie. However, because the house is (thankfully) back to normal by the final scene, they filmed it first.

In the producers’ commentary on the DVD, they talk about how you can tell that the child actors–especially the younger one who played Danny–look younger at the end because 6 months have passed. He also lost several teeth during filming, and they had to fill the gaps with fake ones.

Zathura Craftsman-overhead view

If you love Craftsmans, then check out the posts I’ve done about Monster-in-Law and You, Me & Dupree. Coming up next week on Movie Monday: The classic Cary Grant-Katharine Hepburn comedy “Bringing Up Baby.”

Go to TV/Movie Houses to see more!

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