Decade: 2000’s; Week: August 1-7/14

Aug1-7-14

 

A hallucinating teenager, a couple of magicians, and a band of pirates. I’d say this is a pretty good trio to choose from:

1. The Prestige (2006, #51)

2. Donnie Darko (2001, #193)

3. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003, #222)

 

 

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Wall-E: the computer-animated-robotic Rocky

Rocky and wall-e

I love Wall-E. It’s definitely a stand-alone in the colourful pool of animated movies. Not often is there one made with such little dialogue and yet audiences left with so much to think about. I love the character of Wall-E, and as I was thinking about why I like this robot so much I realized that he shares many attributes and qualities with another great movie character: Rocky Balboa.
He doesn’t get into any sparring, punching, or even training, and the closest Rocky might come to Wall-E himself is that flashy, bug-eyed robot in Rocky IV (….happybirthdaypaulie….). But these two really are more alike than I had originally thought.

  1. Both loners? There is a big difference between loneliness and solitude. To me, both characters appear to be loners but are really individuals who get strengthened by solitude. Rocky lives alone, walks alone, and has a very different personality that those around him don’t seem to get. Wall-E is physically alone while he’s diligently and continuously cleaning up planet Earth. But Rocky does have friends. Some yell out to him from their apartment windows. He pays personal visits to others. He seems to like and respect people, even the ones who appear to be threatening or not respectful to him. At first it looks like Wall-E only has an insect for a friend, but he immediately seeks companionship with Eve. Neither character has a bad attitude toward people nor a low enough sense of self-worth to slink away from others. Instead, they embrace the individuals who do show love back to them, even if they need coaxing (as in the case of both Adrian and Eve). I have to say that my favourite scenes in Wall-E are the ones in his little home (though seeing a robot float through space empowered by a fire extinguisher is pure awesomeness). I love that he collects. He doesn’t look to impress anyone with his collection. He just loves the art and beauty in each thing whether it’s a silent movie, a plastic fork or a rubik’s cube. I love these scenes of solitude. I am also struck by Rocky’s apartment and the scene where he gets up at an ungodly hour and drinks half a dozen raw eggs in a glass. The moments are quirky but special moments of solitude.
  1. Both befriend cockroaches. Some of Rocky’s friends and family are socially repulsive to others, especially Paulie. Wall-E has a friend who is… an actual cockroach. I’ve always valued having a variety of friends, including ones that tend to grind all others’ gears. No one is less judgmental than these two movie characters, even to the cockroaches in life.
  2. Humility, simplicity and dig-down-deep determination. Wall-E and Rocky keep it simple. A friend and a plant are both valuable and must be protected. Wall-E doesn’t squint his eyes like Eastwood and pull of macho stunts. He just sees danger and tries to protect. He sees the prize and goes off running for it. He cares and therefore acts. There are a few inspiring scenes where the robot is giving his last bit of strength or sacrificing himself just to help those he is committed to. Even though Rocky is a character many of us think of when we envision movies meant for male audiences who love a good fight, the character itself is not like that. He digs down deep not to show what he’s made of or show off what he has. It’s just his job being done with all heart and determination.
  3. Priorities. Both of these characters show a great example of true care toward another. Again, Wall-E has his sights on Eve and her interests and never strays from that. And Rocky—he, a verifiable nobody, knocks the heavyweight boxing champion of the world to the mat in the first round and then proceeds to take him to a full fifteen round draw. And what does he do when the bell rings and he’s surrounded by press, fans and immediate fame? He yells for Adrian. It doesn’t look like he wants anything else.

This isn’t the last time an unexpected computer-animated Disney character has inspired me (Remi in Ratatouille being the other) and I hope it happens many more times. In my last write-up I gave a list of favourite/best movie characters. Maybe sometime I’ll make one for “most inspiring characters.”

Congratulations Wall-E. This is your week.

Wall-e and RockyAnd the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity. Who can forget her opening scene? It kicks the virtual reality right out of you.
Best Actor: Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown. He delivers his lines so well in Back to the Future.
Best quote: “I know Kung Fu.” – Keanu Reeves. The line is so lame it’s awesome.

And remember folks, for every person you can think of in your mind who is a cockroach you have befriended, there is another friend of yours who looks at you as the cockroach.

 

Theme: Futuristic movies; Week: July 25-31/14

July 25-31-14

It seems every summer amoung the blockbusters there is usually at least one futuristic movie. This summer one of them has made the top 250 list: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014, #153). Though the list has many of these kinds of movies, below are four that I’ve selected for this week:

The Matrix (1999, #19)

Back to the Future (1985, #48)

WALL·E (2008, #60)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, #104)

Which do you think should make the cut?

Such a character…

Avengers

I love Mr. Dressup. When I was a kid I could watch him draw, make crafts, dress up, and listen to him talk for as long as I thought my mom would allow me to. Although his persona and character were enough to keep me watching, I also loved the other characters he interacted with: Casey, Finnegan, Aligator Al, Aunt Bird and the Owl on the wall. We all love characters. They’re often what keep us watching movies and TV shows. The Avengers success had everything to do with its characters. Sure there were very funny parts, great action and cool visual effects, but what makes this movie so cool is that our favourite characters are in it. Usually in super hero movies there is a sequel that tries to fit in too many characters at once and it comes out choppy and forgettable (Spider-man 3 and Batman & Robin, I’m looking in your direction). But Avengers crammed them all in and actually pulled it off.

In honour of these great characters, allow me to give you what I believe is the twelve greatest movie characters of all time:

12. Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
11. Clark Griswold (National Lampoon Vacation movies)
10. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
9. Nacho/Ignacio (Nacho Libre)
8. Lloyd Christmas (Dumb and Dumber)
7. Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood)
6. Ron Burgundy (Anchor Man)
5. Guido Orefice (Life Is Beautiful)
4. Rocky Balboa
3. The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin movies)
2. Austin Powers and Dr. Evil
1. Darth Vader

Why twelve? Well, I just couldn’t leave anyone out. And hoping that at least one person reading this just may be as list-crazed as I am, here is my top twelve greatest TV characters of all time:

12. Lucy Ricardo (I Love Lucy)
11. Jack Bauer (24)
10. Mary Tyler Moore
9. Ralph Kramden (The Honeymooners)
8. The Fonz (Happy Days)
7. Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)
6. Radar O’Reilley (M*A*S*H)
5. Kermit the Frog
4. Kramer (Seinfeld)
3. Homer Simpson
2. Archie Bunker (All in the Family)
1. Mr. Dressup

I could go on with more lists. I must say I’m obsessed. It’s become a problem in fact, and I attend weekly meetings. But for now…

Congratulations The Avengers. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill in The Avengers. Joy, are you glad I picked Robin over Scarlett Johansson?
Best Actor: Tie between Christian Bale and Morgan Freeman in The Dark Knight Rises. Both are on my list of favourite actors. Wow, I need to tone down on the whole lists thing…
Best quote: “Superheroes? In New York? Give me a break!” – Stan Lee

Ok, this list compulsion is really out of control. But just one more! Top ten favourite SNL characters:

10. The Blues Brothers
9. The Continental (Christopher Walken)
8. Nat X
7. Mango
6. The Roxbury Brothers
5. Linda Richmond
4. E. Buzz Miller (Honest ta Gad!)
3. Church Lady
2. Father Guido Sarducci
1. Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute

I just have one question for Mr. Dressup: Why does Casey’s mouth not move yet we hear him talk, but Finnegan’s mouth moves like Jagger yet he doesn’t make a sound? Let me know in heaven I guess.

Theme: Superhero Movies of the 2010’s (July 11-17/14)

July 11-17 14

Another combo week. This week’s selections all come from movies made after the year 2010 and are all summer superhero movies. What I love about this is that superhero movies today are so well done and so spectacular that they’re now everyone’s favourite. It’s no longer a geek’s realm. I think these are all very good contenders too:

1. The Dark Knight Rises (2012, #50)

2. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014, #106)

3. The Avengers (2012, #184)

You know how to whistle don’t ya?

Ever hear a story about someone famous that talks about their limitations or past failures that makes you feel better about being you? I remember hearing that Albert Einstein had failed math in school as a kid. That encouraged me to work hard academically and stop worrying about not making it. Too bad the story ended up being a hoax, but at least I graduated high school.

I have four stories about Humphrey Bogart, this week’s undisputed king of Hollywood’s golden age. And to the best of my understanding and research, each one is true.

1. Bogart had a lisp. Not a hard fact to substantiate–all you have to do is watch one of his movies. Though it’s subtle, it’s still there. A lisp is often referred to as an “impediment,” but to met lisps are quite endearing. Bogie is no exception. He has a voice that is easy to listen to and you often forget about the lisp. Think about it: one of the greatest actors to ever grace the silver screen and he has a speech challenge. Whatever you have that’s keeping you from doing what you want to do probably isn’t much different.

2. While we’re on the subject of challenges and impediments, there aren’t only the ones we live with on a day-to-day basis. There are also the surprise ones. Bogart was in a car accident in 1953. No one ever plans for those. He was almost done his acting role in a movie called Beat the Devil, so just as accidents always do, it came at a horrible time. His front teeth were knocked out hindering his speech more than his lisp ever could have. They had to find a professional impersonator who could copy Bogart’s voice and dub the recording over some of his last speaking scenes. That young actor was a then-unknown Peter Sellers. I’m hoping the next time I run into a surprise hurdle like that in my own life that I will look for some creative thinkers to help me through it like the producer of that movie.

3. For half of his career Humphrey Bogart lived in the shadow of another actor. In fact, many of the roles that made Bogart famous were ones that this actor rejected and he was just picking up his leftovers (including Casablanca). The act of “overshadowing” involves an invisible shadow that is invented and assumed by people, most notably ourselves. I hate feeling that way. but no worries here–that shadow isn’t tangible and therefore not real. Simply work hard at doing what you love and live your life to the fullest. Besides, guess who the actor was who overshadowed our king of the golden age? George Raft. Ever hear of him? Yeah, me neither.

4. This last story I find most poignant. Even heart breaking. Being a lover of film Bogart would screen the movie A Star is Born (1937) at his home each and every Christmas Day. And every time he would end up crying as he watched. One year a director friend of his asked him why this was. He answered that it was because he expected a lot of himself and added, “I’m never going to get it.” Here is one of the greatest actors in modern history and he cries every year over not being good enough. I sure hope someone in his life was there to tell him this wasn’t true, as we all now know. Perhaps Lauren Bacall? Either way, tears shed over not being good enough are wasted tears. We all are good enough. The sooner we realize this the better.

Congratulations Humphrey Bogart and Casablanca. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…
1. Best Actress: I’d pick Kim Novak. I just love Vertigo so much and I thought her role was quite memorable. Ingrid Bergman is a close second though.
2. Best Actor: As usual I pick someone other than the focus of the weekly movie winner, if the week is based on an individual. I can’t choose between Stewart and Grant, so I’m going with Claude Rains. I pick him because I always love it when I find out he’s in a classic movie I just watched. My reaction is always the same. “Hey, that’s the invisible man!”
3. Best quote: “Here’s lookin’ at you kid.”

And here’s lookin’ at you Bogie. Thanks for being so vulnerable as to allow yourself to be subject to the big screen. Both your excellence and your shortcomings inspire us today.

It’s Popcorn Pop Quiz time!

Popcorn pop quiz

Totalfilm.com put out a list of what they believe are the 60 greatest movie trivia facts. Below are the movies that made the top 4. Put them in order of which movies you think received the number 1 spot, the number 2 spot, and so on. Whoever is closest to the right answer by this Sunday will receive free popcorn in the mail. I will also reveal the four trivia facts then. And here they are in random order:

Taxi Driver
The Usual Suspects
Raiders of the Lost Ark
There Will Be Blood

NOTE: 2 points given for each movie placed in its correct numbered sequence; 1 point given for each movie that is 1 number away from its correct numbered sequence.