You have been getting to know our Smarty Movie Critic, Heather Gunter, for a few months now. She’s pretty fabulous, huh?! We sure think so! We love her so much that we invited her to be part of our Smarty team – whewhoo! Her enthusiasm is contagious as she hits the theaters for every movie opening day and gives us a thumbs up or down before we even think about taking the fam or the hubby or the gal pal squad!
After interviewing Heather today, I realized that we have so much in common. I’m pretty sure all of her favorite movies are mine too – I feel so hip and current!!
Smarties, I’m honored to introduce you to the newest member of our Smarty family, Heather Gunter!
Heather’s Smarty Mom Stats:
Mom of: Will (12) & Caroline (10)
Married to: Andy for 15 years
Years in Charlotte: 13
Hometown: Wilton, Connecticut
Occupation: Mom & Smarty Movie Critic!
You are such the movie buff! Tell us how you got into this?
I have loved movies for as long as I can remember. Putting a story on the screen with actors, music, lighting and scenery creates a magical world that transports you to another reality. It is amazing to me that you can enter a theater in one mood and exit a couple of hours later completely transformed. Even though I am terrible at remembering names, for some reason I have a strange habit of remembering the names of actors which is especially helpful on trivia nights!
Favorite chick flick?
One of my favorites is The Notebook. It is such a beautiful film and Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams are perfection together. Many scenes were filmed in the Charleston area and I have retraced several of Noah and Allie’s steps in my visits to The Holy City. I may or may not have even trespassed on private property just to get a glimpse of Noah’s plantation house on Wadmalaw Island. Another favorite is Pride & Prejudice (the 2005 version with Keira Knightley). The smart and outspoken Elizabeth Bennet may be my favorite heroine of all time.
Favorite scary movie?
I’m not typically a fan of the horror genre, but I lived in Washington D.C. and worked right near the staircase featured in The Exorcist, so that film stands out as being particularly terrifying. I definitely prefer thrillers, so films like The Sixth Sense or The Silence of the Lambs are right up my alley.
Favorite family movie?
I’d have to say the Harry Potter series. The films completely envelop you into the magical world of the Hogwarts and each film in the series is complete and satisfying on its own. Put together, the series is absolutely epic. I cried like a baby in the closing moments of final film as I didn’t want my time with Harry, Hermione and Ron to end. We did insist that our children read the books first before watching the movies so they would use their imaginations in interpreting the stories before cementing the images in their minds with the films.
All-time favorite movie?
This is such a tough question – there are so many great options that it’s so hard to pick just one! If I had to, I would probably choose Casablanca. A mixture of romance, suspense, action and a little humor, Casablanca is the gold standard of cinema. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as star-crossed lovers Rick and Ilsa are flawless. Here’s looking at you kid!
Favorite Netflix series?
I did like House of Cards, but it has gotten so incredibly dark and twisted that I am a bit stuck right now and haven’t made it through most of the current season. Right now, my favorite tv show is Downton Abbey, entering its sixth and final season on PBS. You can’t beat the drama, the costumes and the amazing castle that houses the Crawley family and their many servants.
What movies are you looking forward to this year?
I was lucky enough to interview Stephen McFeely, co-screenwriter of the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and he promises that this will be the most emotional Marvel film yet. It sounds like a game changer for superhero movies so it should be fantastic! I am also eager to see Finding Dory because who didn’t love that crazy blue fish (Ellen DeGeneres) from Finding Nemo? I couldn’t put down the brilliant book Me Before You by JoJo Moyes so I can’t wait to see the film starring Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Sam Claflin (Hunger Games). Finally, I obviously adore J.K. Rowling so if Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is anywhere near as great as Harry Potter, sign me up!
It’s a tie between Gerard Butler and Daniel Craig. I have a thing for accents!
Moving onto the mom stuff…
Favorite restaurant with the fam?
Cafe Monte – their french fries are to die for and our kids love the crepes.
Favorite date-night spot?
You can’t go wrong with Good Food on Montford. I love getting different small plates to share – variety is the spice of life, right?
Favorite winter activity with the fam?
Sadly, we tend to hibernate this time of year. My Southern husband is always amazed at how his Yankee wife can’t handle the cold. If we can sneak off to Kiawah to walk on the beach, that always perks our family up.
Last meal you cooked?
My favorite no-fail dinner for company is Chicken Marbella, which is an easy make-ahead meal:
1 large cut up chicken (you can also just use chicken breasts)
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dried oregano
coarse salt and pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers
6 bay leaves
1/4 cup Italian parsley
1 cup white wine
1 cup brown sugar
Combine chicken with all ingredients except wine and sugar in a baking dish and marinade refrigerated overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and sprinkle chicken with sugar and pour wine around mixture. Bake 50 minutes, basting frequently. Serve wtih basmati rice.
What’s your go-to when you don’t feel like cooking?
Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken with some rice and broccoli on the side.
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
I love the store Surroundings in Olde Towne Village Shopping Center as they have great teacher or hostess gifts and they wrap everything for you beautifully!
Behavioral trait you hope your children don’t inherit?
How can I choose just one?! I am a big worrier and would love for my kids not to waste so much time fretting about things that probably would never happen. I also pick my cuticles which is a horrible habit that I have yet to kick.