Pick your movie of the week: Greatest Movie Couple! (Feb 3-9/17)

movie-couplesI thought I’d do the Valentine’s Day thing early this year, mainly because it’s the one holiday that I despise the trappings and therefore don’t like to add to it. During V-Day week I’ll have a totally unrelated theme. 🙂

And this week we’re doing things differently. Below are movies with 8 of the most iconic movie couples and you get to pick 2. Here they are in no particular order:

Gone with the Wind (1939, Scarlett and Rhett)
Titanic (1997, Jack and Rose)
When Harry Met Sally… (1989, Harry and Sally)
Grease (1978, Sandy and Danny)
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980, Han and Leia)
Dirty Dancing (1987, Baby and Johnny)
Casablanca (1942, Rick and Ilsa)
The Princess Bride (1987, Buttercup and Westley)

(For the record, my favourites aren’t nominated: Jerry and Dorothy (Jerry Maguire, 1996), Jesse and Céline (Before Sunrise, 1995; Before Sunset, 2004, Before Midnight, 2013), Rocky and Adrian (Rocky, 1976).


Movies about Movies

6471995369_468e43c967_zI know I’m not the only one who loves movies. So many of my friends and family—probably a huge majority—love watching them, quoting them, and talking about them. And this is what makes Hugo great. Not only does it have a main character on an 12243424503_0b860359bd_mintriguing journey and characters you could watch for hours just because they’re that interesting, you also have scenes and themes on earlycinema that can make you nostalgic for a time that you didn’t even live through. As he always does, Scorsese brings you right into the heart of the story: it’s setting, its mood, its emotions, its normality, its abnormality, its beauty.

So here are some of the greatest movies about movies:

Tropic Thunder (2008). It can be a little on the crude side, but it’s a very funny movie that pokes fun at its own medium. One of the best lines comes from Robert Downey Jr: “I’m the dude playin’ the dude disguised as another dude!”

Be Kind Rewind (2008). This actually isn’t an incredible movie by any stretch, but the idea behind the story is original and fun. When you see what the characters are up to and the creative ways they do what they do (I don’t want to spoil6022514058_051d7866a4_m it, but it’s the coolest thing, especially for those who love movies.) it’s just a ton of fun.

Cinema Paradiso (1988). This is an Italian movie that I watched for the first time just a few years ago. It’s adorable and charming and I highly recommend it. And the kid is adorable!

All About Eve (1950). I wasn’t thrilled about this one, but it’s good and it’s one of those movies that’s “kind of a big deal.” The story is interesting and the characters memorable. One of the main characters is Bette Davis, and there’s a cameo by Marilyn Monroe early in her film career.

The Artist (2011). Making this movie was a gutsy move, and it paid off: it won the Oscar for best picture in 2012. I didn’t think a silent film made 80+ years after the genre fizzled out would hold my attention, but it did. Very good movie.

Adaptation (2002). If you’re tired of Nicholas Cage and don’t wish to see him in another movie for the rest of your life, at least give this one a try. He’s great in it, and so was Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, and Chris Cooper.

Bowfinger (1999). Ummmm… kind of flopped at the box office. And at the video store. But I have to say, I still love Bowfinger. The title is the last name of the main character, 3073716871_ed8658ce6a_mSteve Martin, who tries to make a movie he is certain will be a hit, so he does whatever he can to get Eddie Murphy’s character to star in it. So funny and so worth the watch.

Ed Wood (1994). This is a biopic about a legendary director. Legendary at being a terrible director, that is. Lately I’ve been pretty tired of the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp tag team, but this one is excellent.

King Kong (1933). I’m still at awe at how well this movie holds up 84 years later. In fact, I’ve seen all three of the major King Kong films, and this is still the only good one. I’m really looking forward to the new one coming out soon, though. It better be good!

Congratulations Hugo. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…
scorseseBest Actress: Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator.
Best Actor:
Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull.
Best Quote: Ok, Jamie’s suggestion is such a classic: “…but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you?.” — Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas. And I’d like to  add another great line from the same movie: “By the way, I took care of that thing for ya.” — Peter Cicale as Pete the Killer.



Pick your movie of the week: Scorsese! (Jan 27-Feb 2/17)

jan-27-feb-2He’s my favourite director, and he’s made so many greats that it’s tough to choose just 4. But it’s up to you to choose which of the following Martin Scorsese films will be our movie of the week:

1. Raging Bull (1980)

2. Goodfellas (1990)

3. The Aviator (2004)

4. Hugo (2011)



A weapon greater than the atomic bomb?

00000Of all the weapons invented in human history, it seems that either the gun or the bomb would be the most powerful and influential. There are two weapons, however, that beat out both. One was invented in the 15th century, a weapon that armed more of earth’s citizens with power and might than ever before and still does to this day. That invention was the printing press.

I’m trying my best not to sound exaggerated or trite, but it really was a powerful weapon. People having access to information that would educate and inform made life miserable for absolute rulers and those who controlled the worldview of the masses. And if that’s not convincing enough, consider A&E Biography 1999 list of the most influential people of the last 1,000 years. Through research, number crunching, and consultation with academic historians they compiled their list and at the very top was Johann Gutenberg. There was no doubt that his contribution was more dominant, significant, and influential than even the likes of Genghis Khan, Albert Einstein, Christopher Columbus, and Napoleon.

Watching a movie while lying in the tub last week (one of my favourite new pastimes), a thought came to my mind. Maybe there has been another invention with similar effects that we haven’t quite acknowledged yet. I was watching Winter on Fire (2015), an Evgeny Afineevsky film that covers the 00000Euromaidan protests in Ukraine in 2013-14. My knowledge of what was going on then was minimal. I knew basically what was going on, but this movie shone a light on the events and made them matter deeply to me. A weapon was used in that conflict. A potent one and I’ll never forget its impact on the event itself, and its impact on me.

This mighty weapon is neither a gun nor a bomb. It was invented in the 20th century, but it’s not television, Internet, nor any type of telecommunication. It’s earliest use was 1918: the video camera.

Yes, video is brought to us by various forms of media, but there’s something so powerful in raw footage being recorded by professionals and amateurs alike. And even though videos can be manipulated to serve anyone’s purpose, they are often debunked by individuals who know better. Or by other competing video clips of the same event. Or even common sense. True, it can be annoying in a world where anyone and everyone has access to video, but it’s making it harder and harder for the powers that be to feed us what they want us to think, believe, and feel.12227506043_23c797f2de_z

Seeing the terrors of government power persecuting innocent, peaceful protesters is now etched in my brain. There’s too much footage of what happened for Putin and Yanukovych to hide. It’s not just Ukrainians and eastern Europeans who are outraged by what took place. The world is outraged.

I love this weapon. We all can use it. And though it can be used to hurt others (and certainly it has), it’s potential to be used for good is far greater and easier to imagine.

Can’t say the same thing about a bomb or a bullet.

Congratulations 20 Feet from Stardom. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Not so sure there are “actors” in these movies; however, Annie Allix was so interesting to listen to in Man on Wire. She had such a unique yet mature outlook on life and gave Petit so much support. She also had to put up with him and his obsessions.

8620650646_d9dc807ae7_mBest Actor: Again, no actors, but I loved learning about Roger Ebert in Life Itself.

Best Quote: “I was born inside the movie of my life.” — Roger Ebert in Life Itself.


I’m looking forward to seeing 20 Feet from Stardom, as it’s the only one of this week’s nominees that I haven’t seen. That and it sounds awesome.

Last week I shared my favourite 2016 movies that I’ve seen so far. This week, I’d like to share with you my favourite non-2016 that I saw for the first time in 2016:

10. Paper Moon (1973)
9. Hoop Dreams (1994)
8. The Dirties (2013)
7. True Romance (1993)
6. Colonia (2015)
5. The Big Short (2015)
4. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
3. The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
2. The Act of Killing (2012)**
1. Children of Heaven (1997)

**This is another documentary that is in the same wheelhouse as Winter on Fire.


Pick your movie of the week: Documentaries! (Jan 20-26/17)

jan-20-26-17I love a good documentary. These nominations are not my favourite ones, but they are the top three rated documentaries on Rotten Tomatoes. Which one would you choose to be our movie of the week?

Man on Wire (2008)
A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City’s World Trade Center’s twin towers in 1974, what some consider, “the artistic crime of the century.”

20 Feet from Stardom (2013)
Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we’ve had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now.

Life Itself (2014)
The life and career of the renowned film critic and social commentator, Roger Ebert.


Oh these kids…

16042903829_f6334ace51_zWho would you say makes for a better person: the silent generation (born before 1945), the baby boomers (born 1946-1954), the gen-Xers (born 1965-1976), the millennials (born 1977-1995), or the centennials (born after 1995)? What generation would be the greatest?

Recently I watched a short video that was making its rounds on social media. In it, a gentleman who looked to be about my age or slightly younger talked about the reasons why this current generation is so messed up. He did say that it wasn’t their fault. He said “they had been dealt a bad hand.” Some of the bad deals in that hand were an overexposure to technology (comparing it to alcoholism), their having been told they are 16036445180_474ea4c48c_mspecial and rewarded for things they didn’t earn, and a sense of entitlement.

I don’t completely disagree with everything he said. He certainly sounded like he knew he was talking about. In fact, I’m not writing to challenge his claims. However, when commentaries like this are shared I always remind myself of the following:

Problems are omnipresent. Yes, we do have a host of deathly allergies today that they didn’t seem to have even 30 years ago… but we don’t have chickenpox. Children spend too much time on social media… but you spend too much time in front of the TV. Or maybe too much time by yourself when you needed more time with adults. Soon this generation will look at a new generation and shake their heads. The cycle will continue.

We grow into the newness. At this point in time, social media activity is still pretty new. It’s dangers have shown themselves and we’re concerned. The current narrative is that my children’s generation can’t handle real personal relationships. Well, maybe they 7819824242_03ee449738_mare doomed, but remember the 90’s? I was a grown adult who was worried, along with all other grown adults, that the kids spent too much time playing video games. For adults in the 70’s and 80’s it was TV that was kids’ big problem. Go back farther it was rebellious rock n’ roll and blue jeans. In the 1850’s it was young ladies who “rode astride on horses.” A generation earlier than that it was the waltz. These things have all become part of our lives and their dangers don’t scare us as much. Even dogs are dangerous, but we’ve tamed them and learned to live with them.

We’ll make it there. We always do. My kids don’t like getting together with other people and socializing as much as I did at their age. Yes, this saddens me. But they are also more tolerant and culturally aware than I ever was. I also admire how they treat theirfriends who suffer with anxiety, learning disabilities, autism, etc. Perhaps we should post videos saying “this is EXACTLY problem with gen-Xers” or baby boomers. The material is certainly there.

I remember being a grown adult shaking my head at the kids of the 90’s and their video games. I still know a lot of those kids today and many have children of their own. Somehow they overcame. My peers have stunted growth, I’m sure, from TV’s influence, but for the most part they survived. I have no doubt that my chil12055250473_ec65101cd0_mdren’s generation will emerge as better people than we were. I even have faith they’ll be able to match the greatness of the Silent Generation. Somehow I think we will dig deep down and overcome Facebook and Twitter.

Who exactly is entitled here? The first time I heard that “this generation” has a problem with entitlement I was in my early years of teaching in a college. It soon became a buzzword for us on the faculty. If we had a tough time keeping students happy it must’ve been because of their sense of entitlement. If more students failed a test than passed it and they blamed their teacher for it, well that just had to be because of their entitlement mindset (especially if the teacher was me). If they complained about cafeteria food—entitlement. Anything negative at all, it was always tempting to just shake our heads at “this generation.” But maybe the millennials and centennials are onto something… Ever have an employer that demanded respect but didn’t reciprocate? Yeah, me too. Ever been given a grade that you know you didn’t deserve but you were stuck with it because the teacher said so? Yeah, me too. Maybe this generation if finally not putting up with that crap. It’s not that they think respect or authority is unimportant, they just don’t see these as ends unto themselves. Maybe it’s about time some of us looked at life this way.

In our nominations this week we had one silent generation (Queen E), one baby boomer (Erin B), and two gen-Xers (Cheryl and Julie). It was a close race, but…

Congratulations Wild. This is your week.

3771066593_eb1334b67e_mAnd the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Helen Miren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen.

Best Actor: Albert Finney as Ed Masry in Erin Brockovich.

Best Quote:You can never have too much butter.” — Amy Adams as Julie Powell in Julie and Julia. And this is true with popcorn at the theater too.

I feel like I’ve already wrote about this, so sorry for the repetition. But this has been on my mind and just had to get it out. Remember that there has been no age in history where one cannot find a quote of someone talking about how bad things have become with the youth of their time (And the preceding link is just the beginning. Believe me, I have more.). Let’s just believe in kids and be optimistic about the future.


Pick your movie of the week: Biopics, pt. 2! (Jan 13-19/17)

jan-13-19-17Our second installment in the category “biopics.” Sorry that in so many of the pics have the characters looking so dour… You can pick your favourite flick of the four, or you can choose according to performances. Either way, which one deserves to be movie of the week?

Erin Brockovich (2000)

The Queen (2006)

Julie & Julia (2009)

Wild (2014)