Theme: New Beginnings; Week: Jan 3-9/14


For each one of these movies there is a brand new, and very different, beginning for the main characters. So two questions:
1) Which one deserves to be movie of the week? and
2) What changes and new beginnings will you have in 2014?

The Shawshank Redemption (1994, #1)

The Truman Show (1998, #237)

Wall-E (2008, #60)

This week’s (Dec 26/13-Jan 2/14) is… Gravity!

This week is different. In an effort to not ruin a brand new movie experience for anyone, especially one as groundbreaking as Gravity. Near the end of this post, like always, I will assign a best actor, actress and quote, but that’s as far as it goes. So what does lie in the following paragraphs? A quick (I promise) story.

As we movie lovers know, the magic that movies hold are not just in the stories themselves. We often have memories of moments that were made memorable, even magical, because of movies. Though I don’t visit the movie theatre as often as I would like (I’d go multiple times a week if time and money were no object. I would also eat a lot more lobster and take my kids to Disney multiple times a year.), I have had the privilege of seeing monumental movies in the theatre. I can say that I saw movies like The Empire Strikes Back, E.T., The Lion King, Schindler’s List, Titanic, Forrest Gump, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Avatar, Les Miserables, and this week’s winner, Gravity all on the big screen. Each time I remember other details of the day or night that it happened because those were such memorable films. I am sure that as you read this you have a list of movies just like that where you could/would say the same thing.

So here’s the story…

It was a Saturday morning in 1980. On a twisty, narrow rural road near Irishtown, New Brunswick. at the crest of a hill sat a red and white mobile home trailer with a small add-on piece that served as a TV room, small bedroom, and small garage. A mom in her early 30’s is home with her kids while her husband is working and she brings to them a glorious stipulation. If they would clean the TV room really well, she would take them to the city (Moncton) to see a movie that had been advertised on their black-and-white TV for weeks: Disney’s 15th animated film, Lady and the Tramp. As any mom would know, the plan was to take them to the movies anyway, but as long as you’re giving them such a special treat out of the blue like that, might as well get them to earn it. Might as well get some free work out of it too.

The kids were so excited they cleaned the room as if the ghost of Walt Disney himself and a collection of his characters in anthropomorphic form could show up any minute. Being one of those lucky kids I can attest to how fast and thorough we were. I can remember even adjusting the little armrest covers on one of the chairs. I would even say that when we swept in there we actually moved furniture to get behind them all. I don’t even do that today as an adult! Well, I make my kids do it.

Anyway–permanently shifting now from third person to first–I remember waiting for my mother to come in and inspect that TV room. She was very impressed. In fact, she still talks today about how she couldn’t believe just how clean we got that room.
It took about fifteen minutes to get to the theatre and the entire way we sat in that old Dodge Duster watching the telephone poles whisk by enjoying that feeling in our stomachs that we remembered having on Christmas morning and on our respective birthdays. We had grown up seeing movies advertised on TV, but had never gone to watch one in a theatre. Plus, this was a Disney movie! We had also grown up watching The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday afternoons. We had seen so many scenes from their movies, but only scenes. We just knew from watching Disney’s stuff on television that this movie wouldn’t disappoint.

We parked in downtown Moncton and walked to the theatre that was on Main Street. I loved the look and smell of the lobby. Sitting in the seats almost didn’t seem real. The screen was enormous, and we would find out in moments that so was the sound. I loved the movie, just like I knew I would. The most memorable scene may be yours as well when you think of Lady and the Tramp. It was Tramp sharing his meatball with Lady preceded by their iconic accidental kiss. Oddly enough, this is a scene that Walt himself initially didn’t want to include.

That’s where it all started for me. It’s not a movie I watch often. I can’t even remember the last time I saw it. And it’s not a movie that makes it to any of my favourites lists, unless I was to make a list of favourite Disney animated films. (Note to self: make one.) But it’s a day I will never forget. So many more stories could be told of my trips to the theatre over the last 30+ years, but this was the first one. I love that memory. And now back to our regularly scheduled program:

Congratulations Gravity. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to:
Best actress: Sandra Bullock. She has certainly proven herself since her days of While You Were Sleeping and Speed. She’s won best actress at the real Oscars in the past, and something tells me it won’t be her last.
Best actor: Truth be told, Gravity is the only movie I’ve seen of these three, and by the time March rolls around we could find out that one of the fine actors in any one of these movies earns a trophy and I snubbed him. But I’m going to give this Oscar to Martin Freeman who plays Bilbo Baggins. I love him in everything I see him in, which is a lot lately.
Best quote: “You’ve got to learn to let go.” – Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) in Gravity.

Tomorrow I am taking my family out for shopping with our gift cards we got for Christmas and then to see a movie, also with gift cards found under the tree. So far the plan is to see Frozen. Yup, a Disney movie. Speaking of which, we’re also planning on seeing a movie about good ol’ Walt–Saving Mr. Banks–with my sister sometime in the next couple of weeks. Ah, so many movies, so little time.

To you my fellow movie lover, may the adventures in story-watching continue!

This week’s (Dec 20-26/13) “movie” of the week is… How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

This race was neck and neck between this and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Both are by far the most treasured animated Christmas specials. It may not be yours, but the vast majority of people I spoke to and/or heard from on Facebook chose one of these two. Funny thing they were both produced in the same time period, only one year is between them.

Most of us would say that we love this Christmas special so much more than the Jim Carrey version. I would agree. However, I must give Ron Howard’s a bit of a defense. I actually love the movie, though it’s really for just one reason, and that’s Jim Carrey. His humour comes through in the movie, which ultimately saves it. His depiction of the Grinch does seem to be faithful to the original cartoon character, though Carrey brings a modern touch and accents it with excellent physical acting hilarious caricature moments. And really, this is what this cartoon did for the book.

Having said that, aside from Jim Carrey the movie itself uses far too much filler to do the original cartoon any justice. For starters, we find that the Whos aren’t really a wholesome, meek, grateful and peace-loving group like we thought they were. They are spoiled brats who just happen to learn a lesson in the end, just in time. It also tries to feed you a “true meaning of Christmas,” instead of letting you make the decision for yourself.

Which brings us to the beauty of the 1966 cartoon. Just like Suess does in his book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas doesn’t spell anything out concerning what the Grinch was thinking or feeling, nor what you might be thinking or feeling. “Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more.” And we’re not told why the Whos were unphased by the grinchy robbery. They just didn’t let the tragedy ruin anything about Christmas. I remember as a child being moved by that final scene. Not so much with the real action movie years later.

Congratulations GRINCH, this is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…
Best actress: Cindy Lou Who!
Best actor: Linus. His speech under the spotlight (I wonder who was running that thing…) is awesome.
Best quote: “How could it be so? It came without ribbons!… it came without tags!…it came without packages, boxes or bags!”

Mickey, Frosty and Rudolph, keep your heads up. There is always next year.

R.I.P. Peter O’Toole

Peter, I know I said on this blog that I didn’t like your acting in Lawrence of Arabia and I am sorry for calling you a tool. I may not have liked it, but who can argue with someone being nominated for an Oscar nine times over a span of 45 years (way to stay relevant) and being granted an honourary one (for the role in the movie I criticized no less). You will be missed.