Pick your movie of the week: Back to School! (Sept 2-8/16)

Sept 2-8-16

There are so many great school movies. Last year we chose between 3 classics (The Breakfast Club, Dead Poets Society, Lean on Me) and this year we have 3 movies that I believe my children will look back on as classics from their era. Each movie has an element of returning to school. Which one will be movie of the week?

High School Musical (2006)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

NOTE: If you haven’t seen any of these, click on the link’s above to read the plot summaries on IMDb. Also, I don’t usually include TV movies, but seeing as HSM made it so big, I felt it deserved its spot on this list of nominees.

Movie of the Week

That first one was a doozy!

01 Room

I was talking to a friend this week and mistakenly identified Good Morning Vietnam as Robin Williams’ film debut. I’d forgotten that seven years prior he was in Popeye. But GMV was definitely his breakout movie. Popeye’s performance in the box office was dismal and he was stuck in TV purgatory once Mork and Mindy was cancelled. He did appear in a handful of forgettable B-movies, but once GMV hit the big screen, things took off for Williams. People now saw him as more than just a funny guy. He was an outstanding actor.

Most actors appear in a pile of movies (most of which none of us have even heard about) before they were able to experience the “break out role” like Williams did. It’s 01 Roomalways amazing to see someone debut with a memorable performance in an equally memorable movie. In this week’s movie, Jacob Tremblay was not only cute, but delivered a performance I know I’ll never forget. It wasn’t technically his first, but it was at least his first feature-length film in which he is both seen (as opposed to lending his voice) and credited.

So, I decided to put together my own top ten greatest film debuts of all time:

10. John Cazale as Fredo in The Godfather (1972)

9. Jennifer Hudson as Effie White in Dreamgirls (2006)

8. Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave (2013)

7. Gabourey Sidibe as Precious in Precious (2009)

6. Natalie Portman as Mathilda in Léon: The Professional (1994)

5. Oprah Winfrey as Sofia in The Colour Purple (1985)

4. Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988)

3. Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins (1964)

2. Christian Bale as Jim in Empire of the Sun (1987)

1. Orson Welles as Kane in Citizen Kane (1941)

Honourable mentions: Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross in True Grit (2010); Barkhad Abdi as Muse in Captain Phillips (2013), and Robert Duvall as Boo Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird (1962).

Admittedly, I’ve not seen some key performances in some very well known and influential movies. Judging strictly from what I’ve heard, these would be the top ten movie debuts in movies I haven’t seen yet (in no particular order):

  • Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween (1978)
  • Johnny Depp as Glen Lantz in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)01 Room
  • Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (1968)
  • Anna Paquin as Flora in The Piano (1993)
  • Tatum O’Neal as Addie in Paper Moon (1973)
  • Edward Norton as Aaron in Primal Fear (1996)
  • Sidney Poitier as Dr. Luther Brooks in No Way Out (1950)
  • James Dean as Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955)
  • Owen and Luke Wilson as Dignan and Anthony in Bottle Rocket (1996)
  • Tom Cruise as Cadet Captain David Shawn in Taps (1981)

Congratulations Room. This is your week.

01 RoomAnd the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder. That’s right Jamie, you uncultured swine!

Best Actor: Al Pacino in The Godfather.

Best Quote: “I am Iron Man.” — Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in Iron Man.

Just a few interesting notes about Room. The producers wanted Brie and Jacob to bond early on before filming began so that they’re mother/son relationship would come off more authentic. In the process, Jacob’s mom asked him if he had any questions for Brie. He asked her 1) her favourite colour, 2) her favourite animal, and 3) if she liked Star Wars (1977).

And this may have worked too well. Even though he was a fine young actor, Jacob couldn’t bring himself to yell at Brie at a point in the movie where his character is supposed to do that. The director had the entire cast and crew jumping up and down yelling until he was able to do it himself.

I love my new-to-me DVD’s. If any of you know where I can get a copy of Downfall (2004) or High Fidelity (2000) for cheap, let me know.

Pick your movie of the week: Flea Market Finds! (Aug 26-Sep 1/16)

I was tempted to simply declare Dial M for Murder as movie of the week just to spite my contentious brother, but I decided to take the five movies I picked up at the flea market in Sussex, NB this weekend and pit them against each other. Which one do you think should be our movie of the week?

Dial M for Murder (1954)

The Godfather (1972)

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

Iron Man (2008)

Room (2015)

Movie of the Week

I can’t believe I did this…

Harry Potter

I was only a little boy, ok? I was 6 or 7. Sometimes we do a few embarrassing things at that age, unless you’re like me and you do a lot of embarrassing things at that age. This week we have two movies of the week. One a boyhood tale, one an embarrassment. My story combines the two.

So for Christmas one year I received a wooden toy airplane. Remember those? They still sell them, especially at flea markets and craft fairs. They’re a solid but safe vintage toy and seeing one can give one nostalgia even if you’d never owned one as a kid. Well, for somereason I was sure that I could take this great looking toy and make it look even better. Not only better, but super, colossal, mind-blowingly awesome! This would be my creation. I got out my box of crayons and something else I’d received for Christmas that year: an embossing label maker. I got tired of simply embossing my name on black strip tape and placing on items in my room. I wanted to use it for my super, colossal, mindplane and crayons-blowingly awesome creation.

I coloured that plane with my favourite colours. I knew when I was done it looked ridiculous, but I told myself it looked perfect. It had to. I created it! And now for the pièce de résistance: I would come up with a name. And not just a simple name like “Sky Wolf” or “The Blue Bomber.” No, I would invent a name.

Talk about excited! I would have a name that would be completely unique to this toy and everyone would be impressed. I sat down with a pencil and paper. I picked letters that, to my child brain, sounded strong and solid. I definitely wanted T and C in there since they were my initials. I also loved the letter K. It just seemed like the kind of letter that none of the other 25 would want to mess with. Then I had it! The perfect name! I wrote it down, embossed it on black tape with my label maker and placed it square in the mid-top of the toy between the wings. The name…

The Krotch!

“Wow, that sounds so cool!” I said to myself. Immediately I started playing with my… toy plane. I was like Andy from the Toy Story movies.

– People in danger, have no fear! The Krotch is on the way!
– Look up there! It’s a bird… no it’s a plane… no, it’s the Krotch!
– Your time has come evil villains. You are about to feel the wrath of the Krotch!
– Don’t thank me, ma’am. Thank the Krotch!

And that moment of greatness lasted about 20 minutes. That’s when my older brother saw my plane, looked up at me and said, “Um, Troy,Harry Potter you know what that means, don’t you?”

“I know.” I said defensively like any kid does who really doesn’t know but is asked it they do by an older sibling.

It didn’t take long after that for me to get rid of that label and pretend nothing happened.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This is your week.

And congratulations Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for being every bit as embarrassing as the Krotch.

Harry PotterAnd the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Definitely Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Goblet of Fire.
Best Actor: Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Ghost Protocol.
Best Quote:He is not human, he is a piece of iron.” — Dolph Lundren as Ivan Drago describing his opponent in Rocky IV

Who would have thought that Harrison Ford + Steven Spielberg + Indiana Jones franchise + $185 million would turn out to be a steaming heap of crystal skulls? I think I’d rather watch a biopic about The Krotch. Then again, who would have thought we’d see a shark actually hold a grudge and travel from New England to the Bahamas to get vengeance on a family. That and batsuit nipples. Who would ever have thought we’d ever see batsuit nipples??

Le Pendule

dark knight

“Now it’s swung too far the other way!” Ah, the pendulum. Do you remember first hearing about it? Perhaps in school? There are two senses in which it’s taught: 1) Scientific. What a pendulum does, how each swing decreases in distance, how it comes to a stand still, etc. and 2) how this correlates with ideas and actions; i.e. we swing from one extreme to another.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what this has to do with Batman… Well, he does swing from being a hero to being “the dark knight.” So there you have it.

Just this morning on the radio I heard that statement I’ve heard a gajillion times since my childhood: “…swung too far the other way.” The subject was rights and privileges of French and English people in New Brunswick. He said that he did agree thdark knightat Frenchpeople in the early to mid part of the 20th century were “second class citizens” and that this was wrong. But he went on to say that we are “on a pendulum” and that it has now—let’s say it together—swung too far the other way. He said that English-speaking residents in NB now have less rights than the French do.

I felt that his claim was a little exaggerated. More rights? I think he was confusing rights with privileges. Unless he’s speaking of actual rights that I haven’t heard about yet. But most of us living in this area have some knowledge of what this gentleman was referring to. For instance, here in New Brunswick there are those whom others’ call “the language police.” They want to make sure that every road sign and every cereal box contains both official languages. They also make sure that the certain jobs, especially government-related ones, are bilingual. Often the language they use and the demands they make seem unfair and biased. On top of that, our provincial government has made some serious bonehead moves. They have terminated jobs in this process instead of grandfathering in bilingual requirements. This, of course, is one example amoung many. Many many bonehead moves. Not like we’re surprised or anything. I mean… it’s government, right?

But here are some things to consider about this dreaded pendulum swing:

  1. If it’s true that French people were treated as second class citizens in the 50’s and 60’s, then having “language police” in the province that is much more often guilty of being annoying than actually being harmful, isn’t really all that bad.
  2. Now let’s assume that it’s worse than just a pain in the neck. The biggest issue I know of concerns jobs. Non-French-speaking NB’ers have long felt that French speakers get dark knightjobs easier in a province having a perpetually struggling employment rate. I can’t say much to this, seeing as any job I’ve ever applied for never did require bilingualism.However, I will say that just about every francophone I’ve ever known or met in New Brunswick spoke very good English. Good enough to use in a job requiring it. Not all, but a commanding majority. Anglophones? Most I’ve ever known could not speak French fluently. Many could, but a large majority could not.
    I would also add that after being on unemployment myself and going through the process of career change and job seeking, you’ve got your own fate in your hands. If things aren’t fair, take classes and learn another language. Go through the rigors of learning a brand new skill. Invest in yourself. Don’t blame others. And please excuse my repetition here, but for every story I’ve heard of people struggling to get a good job because of bilingualism, I’ve heard ten more of French people (Even national heroes, i.e. Rocket Richard!) being publicly mocked, denied work, or treated unfairly. It’s even more ridiculous when whites use this penduludark knightm cry when talking about equality with black people. I’m pretty sure the pendulum has quite a distance to go before you can say “too far the other way,” or worse “the opposite extreme.” Perspective is important here.
  3. It’s a pendulum, isn’t it? It’ll swing your way eventually. Then it’ll land in the middle somewhere. Be patient. The French have had to be. And let’s not get started on how painfully patient First Nations people have been over the centuries.

Congratulations The Dark Knight. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…
dark knightBest Actress: Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Best Actor: I’ll leave out our three nominees who are all outstanding. I think this one should go to Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Avengers.
Best Quote:Excuse me, did WE come to YOUR planet and blow stuff up?” — Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in The Avengers.

Whether or not you agree with the above, please (for me) take time to read these next few sentences. I want to state that I’m not bilingual, nor am I French Canadian. I do come from some Acadian descent (of which I am proud); however, most of my ancestry is very English. The reason I share what I shared is simple: I highly value the act and virtue of understanding, and I can say that pursuing it has enriched my life greatly. It is my hope that the words I’ve written can be practically used to step into another’s shoes. Trying to make you agree with me is not my purpose.

And here is the full top 10 list of actors with the most box office mojo (total earnings of all movies in their filmography):

10. Scarlett Johansson ($3.34 B)
9. Michael Caine ($3.35 B)
8. Johnny Depp ($3.37 B)
7. Tom Cruise ($3.59 B)
6. Eddie Murphy ($3.81 B)
5. Robert Downey, Jr. ($3.95 B)
4. Tom Hanks ($4.34 B)
3. Morgan Freeman ($4.44 B)
2. Samuel L. Jackson ($4.77 B)
1. Harrison Ford ($4.87 B)
Movie of the Week

Pick your movie of the week: Box Office Mojo! (Aug 12-18/16)

Aug 12-18-16

These three actors have made the most money than any others in history. Now that doesn’t mean they are the richest actors, but if you take the total gross of each movie in their filmography and add them together, they are the top earners.

Below are each of their top grossing movies and I’ve added the total for each actor’s accumulated filmography box office earnings. Vote for the actor or vote for the movie, it doesn’t matter.

1. HARRISON FORD, $4.87 B. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

2. SAMUEL L. JACKSON, $4.77 B. The Avengers (2012)

3. MORGAN FREEMAN, $4.44 B. The Dark Knight (2008)

Movie of the Week