Pick your movie of the week: Cars! (Sept 1-7/17)

No DeLoreans this time folks. It would win too easy. But the following cars are pretty iconic in the celluloid world. In fact, each one made it onto the Popular Mechanics Top 10 Movie Cars of All Time” list. Which car (and/or movie) would you choose for our movie of the week?

Goldfinger (1964)
1964 Aston Martin

American Graffiti (1973)
1932 Ford Coupe

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
1977 Pontiac Trans Am

 

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God’s Skin Colour

It’s always been a mystery what God looks like, though I have to give props to Kenneth Copeland, the televangelist, who has seen God in person and has a description of him on record including his approximate height and weight. He even describes how the span of God’s hand it just a half-inch longer than his own. Impressive detail. And we would have no reason to not believe him, seeing as he’s still on TV despite his chronic habit of taking money from poor people all across North America and generously giving that money to himself. That, and the fact that the only people who tend to call out his bluff and condemn his actions are filmmakers and journalists. But alas, the Cope-Man from Cope-Land said nothing about his skin colour despite having seen God and having a chat with him over a nice steaming mug of prosperity.

It is also unfortunate that even though God walked on the earth in human form a couple thousand years ago, that we still have no hard evidence. Taking into consideration the makeup of the world geographically back then, he was most likely a slightly darker brownish tone than what we see in native middle-easterners today. However, we should acknowledge here that for a small part of his life he was African. Then again, most depictions of him give us a picture of Jesus having white skin and hair that’s usually parted in the middle for some reason. But since these depictions seem to change so much, even from year to year (the most recent one I’ve seen looks like a bearded Michael Landon and Siegfried Fischbacher’s love child grew a beard), they aren’t much help either.

I can’t go running to movies for answers, as I too often do. Either he’s white skinned and grey-haired like in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Maybe he’s black like in Bruce Almighty. Maybe he’s a woman like in Dogma. Maybe he’s black and a woman like in The Shack. I’m hoping he’s not just a bunch of fire like in Demille’s The Ten Commandments (1956). I have to admit I’d feel a little cheated in that case.

Maybe he’s waiting to show us all in heaven that he’s blue like the sky. Or maybe he’s all metalic or crystal (And he can’t wait to see the look on our faces!). Of course, I think what we are all hoping is that his look reflects attributes more than pigment. I’m hoping that virtues like kindness and compassion drown out the din of our obsession with skin tone. Oh I know… settling on a statement like that is a big cornball dripping in syrup. And believe me, the “I don’t see colour” sentimentality is both naive and frustrating to me. But it sure would be refreshing if we looked at the face of God and saw so much, but were too distracted by it all that we missed the colour.

Yeah that’s pretty cheesy too. Ok, all I’ll say is that I really hope he doesn’t look a thing like Kenneth Copeland.

Congratulations The Color Purple. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

  • Best Actress: Whoopi Goldberg as Celie in The Color Purple. If you haven’t seen this movie, it is more than worth the watch. And I believe that this, her very first feature film, is the very best she has ever done.
  • Best Actor: Robert De Niro in The Mission.
  • Best Quote:I think it pisses God off when you walk by the colour purple in a field and don’t notice it.” — Margaret Avery as Shug in The Color Purple.

Tonight I saw The Glass Castle starring Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, and I highly recommend it. Other movies I enjoyed in the theater this summer: Kong: Skull Island, Wonder Woman, The Big Sick, and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

 

 

Buster Keaton vs 45

In this corner we have the master of stone-faced comedy and innovator of smart slapstick. Hailing from Piqua Kansas and weighing in at 160 lbs soaking wet… Buster Keaton!

And in the other corner: the master of the premature tweet. Hailing from Trump Tower in NYC, weighing in at two Buster Keatons, he is the Hair Fuhrer, Mr. Agent Orange, … It’s 45!

These two pasty-white dudes will duke it out to see who gets crowned with the coveted title, “Not all that racist.”

First, Buster Keaton. I’m a big fan, but this week I watched him in Seven Chances (1925) where I was a bit disappointed. He was great, and so was the movie, but he clearly didn’t have the sensibilities that his silent counterpart, Chaplin, seemed to have. In a scene where he’s looking for a woman to marry, he sits on a park bench and begins to talk to one until she lifts up a magazine with Hebrew words on it. Discovering she’s Jewish, he turns away from her and keeps looking. He catches up to another woman only to learn she is black (an obviously white woman in blackface). Realizing this, he turns from her as well. These are supposed to be funny gags, but I wasn’t amused. There was also a black male character (again… a white actor in blackface) who is a bumbling buffoon who waddles his way through the film like a haphazard simpleton. Yet Buster was never known for being racist, and these “gags” are more indicators of his Vaudevillian influences rather than his views on civil equality.

And now to his opponent in this showdown. He too brings similar disappointments. He did not condemn white supremacists when they support his presidential campaign, and now defends them (as well as neo-Nazis and white nationalists) because of “trouble makers” in a crowd of counter-protesters. “Both sides,” he says, were at fault. Heck, he’ll even hire one of them to serve in his administration.

But 45 isn’t living in 1925. In fact, it’s almost a century later than Keaton’s Second Chances. And his actions are inspired by anything but Vaudeville. I have no idea just how racist Keaton was, or if he’d grown out of it at all from the time of his silent acting career to the time of his death in 1966. But 45—now I do have an idea of where he stands. His words and actions speak for themselves.

With one quick left hook it’s a knock out, folks, and Buster “Douglas” Keaton wins the bout. Yes, he angered me with his racist scenes, but he stopped short of dividing an already divided country.

Let’s be clear, hatred can’t kill hatred. It only multiplies it. Intensely. Fear does the same thing. So how do we fight it? To answer this, I’d like to quote a Spanish woman who was observing a minute of silence in Placa de Catalunya, Barcelona, for the victims of another act of hatred. In the middle of the crowd she held up a sign that read, “I sing today for those voices that you have dared to shut up. We are not afraid.”

They call the silent era of film the “golden era.” And usually we would say that silence is golden. But not in the face of hatred. Let’s meet hatred with speaking up in love. Let’s meet it with our singing.

“To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Congratulations Seven Chances. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Marion Mack as Annabelle Lee in The General. Greatest

Best Actor: Snitz Edwards as “James’ lawyer” in Seven Chances, for no other reason than having a kick-ass name!

Best Quote:By the time Jimmie had reached the church, he had proposed to everything in skirts, including a Scotchman.” — Title Card in Seven Chances.

The only vote was for this movie, and I have to say it was a good pick. All three are worth the watch and translate surprisingly well to an audience almost 100 years later. If you do ever give Seven Chances a try (And you should… it’s only 54 minutes long. And it’s on YouTube!), keep in mind that if you get bored, the last 20 minutes will more than make up for it. I pinky promise.

Pick your movie of the week: Buster Keaton! (Aug 18-24/17)

He was not only the hilarious master of the deadpan expression, he was one of the most innovative actor/directors (some would argue the most) in history. Based on the plot descriptions, which would you pick for this week’s movie?

Seven Chances (1925)
A man learns he will inherit a fortune if he marries by 7 p.m. that same day.

The General (1926)
When Union spies steal an engineer’s beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
The effete son of a cantankerous riverboat captain comes to join his father’s crew.

Tastes like paint… and wood.

It’s time for some top tens. First: the greatest G rated movies of all time! Even though Dennis the Menace—a movie I absolutely love—is actually a PG movie, it’s gotten me thinking about some of the best movies ever made in this category. To make things interesting, I’m leaving out animated ones. That genre practically dominates the G’s anyway. So, in my own humble opinion, here’s the best:

10. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
9. The Sound of Music (1965)
8. Babe (1995)
7. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
6. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
5. March of the Penguins (2005)
4. The Little Princess (1939) …and right up there with it I would include the remake A Little Princess (1995)
3. The Muppet Movie (1979)
2. Babette’s Feast (1987)
1. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009) — This one is a best kept secret. It’s so good!

Honourable mentions go to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Mary Poppins (1964), The Secret Garden (1993), and Funny Girl (1968). I actually haven’t seen that last one, but I hear about it enough that I should at least throw it an honourable mention. And really, any Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton movie can be added to the list. I would say if you’d like to try a Chaplin movie, start with City Lights, and if you’d like to try a Keaton film, start with The General.

Back in 1993 when I saw DTM in the theatre in Battle Creek, MI, I laughed out loud at the scene of Mr. Wilson is in the bathroom getting ready for bed. So here is the top ten movie scenes where I laughed the hardest at, especially upon the first time watching:

10. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) — Cousin Eddie empties the sewage from his RV
9. 
I Love You, Man (2009) — The vet tells Peter and Zooey (Paul Rudd and Rashida Jones) to feed their dog “fruit-th.”
8. Spaceballs (1987)— Dark Helmet doesn’t wear a seat belt while in ridiculous speed.
7. Raising Arizona (1987) — Hi picks up some diapers for the baby. It’s killing me thinking about it right now!
6. Bridesmaids (2011) — The post-Brazilian steak restaurant scene at the bridal shop.
5. The Nutty Professor (1996) — The Klump family dinner.
4. The Hangover (2009) — The surprise in the trunk.
3. Nacho Libre (2006) — the quest for eagle powers.
2. Napoleon Dynamite (2004) — The time machine scene.
1. Rat Race (2001) — The cow scene. There were many others in this movie, but that scene did me in.

And finally, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson were surprisingly major highlights of this movie. Here is my top ten favourite elderly couples in movies:

Tokyo Story (1953)

10. The Notebook (2004) — Noah and Ally (James Garner and Gena Rowlands)
9. The Princess Bride (1987) — Miracle Max and Valerie (Billy Crystal and Carol Kane)
8. Tokyo Story (1953) — Shukichi and Tomi
7. Hope Springs (2012) — Kay and Arnold (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones)
6.
Titanic (1997) — The couple on the bed as the boat sinks.
5. The Karate Kid Part II (1986) — Mr. Miyagi and Yukie
4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) — Bethany and Lewis (Mae Questel and William Hickey)
3. Fiddler on the Roof (1971) — Tevye and Golde (Topol and Norma Crane)
2. Nebraska (2013) — Woody and Kate (Bruce Dern and June Squibb)
1. Meet the Parents (2000) — Jack and Kina Byrnes (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner)

Congratulations Dennis the Menace. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Carol Burnet in Annie. Greatest Miss Hannigan EVER.

Best Actor: Walter Matthau as Mrs. Wilson in Dennis the Menace. His misadventure scenes, of course including the one listed above, are some of my favourite comedic scenes in movies.

Best Quote: Although my favourite line is this post’s title, I also like Kirk’s reference: “A apple” from Dennis the Menace.

This week has made me nostalgic for the funny papers. I miss pulling that section out of the paper on the weekend and having a few laughs. Sometimes I think I stopped reading them because I started living them.