Fellow film bloggers Ian, Fogs and PG Cooper have been discussing different directors for a few months now in their Director Talk series. I’ve been a big fan since their first talk about James Cameron. Naturally, I was thrilled when they invited me to be a guest in their latest talk. The topic, the notorious Quentin Tarantino! I had a ton of fun talking Tarantino with the guys. You can read the entire talk here at PG Cooper’s Movie Reviews. Thanks again Ian, Fogs and Cooper.
Fandango Groovers has thought of yet another amazing idea for a blogathon: My Movie Year. Really, I have taken every year in terms of Oscar nominated films, but let me think about what was the best year of memorable movie experiences for me. I think I’ll have to go with 2005. You see, that summer I was 19, just about 20, and working at a movie theater all the time. When I wasn’t at the theater working around the movies, I was at home watching them with my family. And when the summer was over, I went back to college and became part of the films committee on the student union board. It was probably the first year I was surrounded by movies all the time. Here are some movie memories from my 2005.
Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith
Working at the theater, I was required to work at the midnight showing for last Star Wars movie. That night itself was a harrowing experience. So many people demanding popcorn and armed with plastic lightsabers. But one little perk that hardly anyone knows about, was that some of the workers got to see the new Star Wars before anyone was even lining up in Jedi robes. Wednesday evening, we all stayed after work and watched it, technically so that we could make sure the film was put together by our manager properly. And being a huge Star Wars fan, it was just awesome. I remember driving home around 3 a.m., in my junky old truck looking up at the moon and thinking about how I was one of the few people that had already seen the last Star Wars movie. I was so giddy with excitement and it made my little brother so jealous.
War of the Worlds
This was another movie I stayed late to watch before it was officially out in theaters. Since I wasn’t regularly reading about upcoming movies yet, I was completely unaware of nearly everything about to happen. That first loud noise from the tripods nearly scared the crap out of me, and I loved it. When I took my brother and sister to see it (free tickets were what I lived for then) my brother was so freaked out at one scene he hid his face and cried. I love reminding him of that today. And all summer, I kept track of each theater, so I could watch the audience during certain scenes in the film. I still love watching a packed house jump.
Walk the Line
This came out in the fall, my mom and sister dying to see it. I still got free tickets and walked right in like I owned the place. Growing up on country music, I immediately loved the soundtrack. This was one of the first movies I really started to notice a great acting performance. I could really believe Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. There was real pain in her face and voice, and the way she carried on and tried to restrain is was perfect and heart wrenching. This was one of the first years I was really excited about the acting categories at the Oscars.
In my review, I already talked about my parents warning me against seeing this movie, only too late. The story behind seeing it is a little slap-dash, but fun. My roommate and I were simply bored one weekend night. We thought about seeing whatever the student union board was playing (were were both members of the films committee) but decided instead to drive into town and see Brokeback Mountain. On the way there, I made the realization outloud, “You realize we could have walked ten minutes and seen a movie for free, but instead we’re driving twenty minutes and paying eight bucks to see a movie about gay cowboys, right?” I believe my roommate said something along the lines of, “And that’s what makes us awesome.”
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
What makes this movie memorable was the way I perfectly and accidentally ruined a possible date for two friends of mine in college. But hey, if you nonchalantly ask a group of people if they want to see Harry Potter tomorrow and are casually trying to score a date with just one person, do you homework and make sure everyone else is going to be busy. I got the stink-eye from my guy friend for a while, but I didn’t care, I snuck in some candy, sat myself in the middle and had a fun time. All awkwardness has since been forgiven.
What’s your movie year?
The re-release of Titanic in 3D has been going strong for over a week and I had enough willpower to resist it, until Friday. Who was I kidding? I was in the middle of Titanic’s centennial and I love both the history and epic movie. Besides, back in good ol’ 1997 I saw Titanic in both a regular theater and in IMAX, I just had to add 3D to the list. Now, I’ll level with you; the 3D here isn’t as great as it was in Hugo, but for a movie not originally set in 3D it ain’t too shabby. But rest assured James Cameron, if you plan ahead and set up a 50th anniversary re-release in 2047 in 5D holographic smell-o-vision, I hope to get my wrinkly old self in to see it again.
In case you have been on the fence about seeing Titanic in 3D, here are some of the main reasons that make it all worth it.
10. If My Heart Will Go On really is your favorite song in the world. You shouldn’t tell anyone that, but that is a good excuse to see Titanic.
9. Kate Winslet’s boobs. Though the 3D didn’t really enhance them, they’re still a cornerstone of film nudity. For my generation, they were probably the first set we saw outside of a health video.
8. If you were too young to see Titanic back in the wilds of 1997. Now is your time tweens!
7. That shot where the hallway seems to explode from the water rushing all over. The 3D gimmick works particularly well there.
6. When the ship breaks in half and the stern smashes into the water, crushing people below.
5. That guy that hits the propeller. Anyone who’s seen Titanic knows which guy I’m talking about.
4. That final minute as the stern of the ship is sucked under. The new sense of depth added is most thrilling here.
3. The last half hour of the ship sinking. That’s where the 3D pulls some magic.
2. To teach kids that Titanic was a real event. Really, this is just sad.
1. If you just have a real love for the movie, experiencing it again is totally worth it.
With The Academy Awards ceremony last night, my Oscar predictions were busted. While I was rooting for Hugo the whole time (and for a while things were looking good for Scorsese and the gang), I’m very happy for The Artist and all those involved with our new Best Picture winner.
Anyway, let’s do a quick wrap-up on where my predictions went wrong:
While Viola Davis had all the hype in the running for Best Actress, it was finally Meryl Streep’s time to shine again. It had nearly been 30 years since her win, as lead actress in Sophie’s Choice. With 13 Oscar nominations between then and now, the win is well overdue.
Hugo took both sound categories. Looking back, that feels like the obvious choice. I’d like to say my eyes were too engrossed to let my ears realize the Oscar quality.
Film editing went to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which seemed to surprise everyone, including the recipients.
For both Director and Picture, I went against the hype and with my heart on Scorsese and his film, Hugo. That was also a way to play it safe, for 6 years now Director and Picture have gone to the same film, and I was not expecting the Academy to really pick a foreign and independent film. Nonetheless, I’m happy to see Michel Hazanavicius win Best Director and The Artist win Best Picture.
But wait, not only has a black and white, silent film from France just won Best Picture, but this is the first time since 1986 that The Academy Awards have agreed with The Independent Spirit Awards. Indie films have been making headway for years, especially in the past decade at the Oscars. Perhaps a change in the wind is coming in Hollywood. I look forward to seeing what surprises lie ahead.
Everyone has their own favorite holiday film. Some go with the Oscar nominated, family classics, like It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street. I go for a film that best reflects the Christmas and family values I grew up with, A Christmas Story. It was not nominated for any major awards, but nonetheless I felt compelled to share it with you.
The film has a corny type of nostalgia, as the adult Ralphie (voiced by Jean Shepherd) looks back and narrates one of the most memorable Christmas seasons of his childhood. It’s filled with a variety of hilarious misadventures. A friend double-dog-dares another friend to stick his tongue to a frozen flag pole. Ralphie’s father wins a “major award” and displays it in the window, much to his mother’s dismay. And of course, Ralphie’s cunning pursuit to receive the ultimate Christmas gift: an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.
Now Ralfie (Peter Billingsley) is like the kind of kid I once was. His big glasses soak up the world around him and he dreams of a Christmas gift that seems out of his reach. When faced with trouble, like witnessing Flick’s tongue freezing to the pole, or ratting his old man out for teaching him such filthy language, he is a bit of a coward. When he’s dropped the ball, he can really get down on himself, knowing that his real punishment will be the absence of that BB gun. But after so much holiday stress, the kid can snap and find himself beating the snot out of the biggest bully on the block.
The way the family works reminds me so much of my childhood. My younger siblings were also a comforting thorn in my side. We would also regularly hear my father curse at whatever machine he was working on. The soap treatment was also punishment for repeating the words dad didn’t mean to teach me. My siblings and I witnessed our parents restrained feud over decorations, whether they be tacky or tasteful. And whenever we were in real trouble, our mom could down play it enough to save our little butts.
What makes this movie so great, every year, is all the memorable moments that seem to live on. Seeing Ralphie with a huge red bar of soap sticking out of his mouth has become iconic. A few years ago, we gave a leg lamp replica to my father for Christmas. The mashed potato scene lives on as a contest held in northern Indiana, where the film was based. The ending in the Chinese restaurant is always worth waiting for.
The most memorable scene is visiting Santa. Today, most mall Santa stations are fairly low key, and only one story. This Santa sits at the top of a staircase, with a red slide to send the kids down when their time with him is over. He and his elves are less than cheerful, physically lifting and turning each kid, leaving them disoriented on Santa’s lap, his creepy red face too close for comfort. For small kids, it can be an intense scene. Ralphie’s sense of urgency is heightened, with a long line to wait in and the store closing soon. When he finally finds himself on Santa’s lap, his mind blanks and he nearly blows his opportunity to tell the big man what he wants for Christmas. At the last moment, he catches himself on the slide and tells Santa what he wants, only to get that dreaded response he’s heard over, “You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” And nothing says Merry Christmas like Santa’s foot on your forehead, sending you down to a pile of fluff, next to your crying kid brother.
While A Christmas Story is no Oscar worthy film, it gets my praises every year. It perfectly tells the story of a kid’s Christmas, what is most important to him and his family’s dynamic. The best part is, while kids are focusing on their wish lists and calculating toward that perfect gift, it’s the parents who ultimately make that attainable. Of course, never tell this to a kid, they figure it own once they’re older.
“They looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.”
Earlier this week, Anthony Lee Collins gave me the Leibster Blog Award. It’s like an early Christmas gift, and I am so honored. Not only by the recognition, but by the wonderful wonderful things he said about my blog and putting a humble film blogger among bloggers who are novelists and published authors. Thank you so much, Anthony.
And now the rules to this ritual:
- Thank the blogger that awarded you and link them.
- No counter-nominating allowed
- Mention up to five other bloggers who you think deserve the award and leave comments on their blogs.
- Copy the award to your blog.
Here are some virtual early Christmas gifts for these hard working, classy bloggers (who I have not given similar awards to before). Enjoy!
1. PG Cooper’s Movie Reviews provides thoughtful review of films, both new and old.
2. Grand Old Movies is completely dedicated to the films of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and it is quite grand.
3. Marya runs a hell of a site, Cinema Fanatic, with daily movie quotes and my favorite, Oscar Vault Mondays.
4. Dan at Dan the Man’s Movie Reviews is a only a teen, but he is already finding a great voice on the web and has already earned a Lammy nomination.
5. Amanda’s site, Awesome Barnhart, boasts a ton of awesome features, including Anatomy of a Career, listing big names in film and their works.
Over at Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens has turned the idea from 1993’s Last Action Hero and turned it into a fun blogathon for us film fanatics. In the film, starring Arnold Schwartznegger, a teenage boy uses the power of a magic ticket to transport himself into his favorite movie. Stephens has posed a variety of fun questions for us film bloggers to ponder and the answers are fun to share. Feel free to join in on your own blogs and in the comments.
What animated feature would you love to walk around in?
Rip off a bigger piece of Mike Wazowski’s chair and let me wander around the colorful world in Monsters Inc. There’s plenty to explore through Monstropolis and an endless amount of children’s doors to pop though to scare them, or I could just make them laugh. Plus, I imagine a fun jazzy beat plays there most of the time.
What character would you most like to be sat next to on a plane?
So it seems I’m on a long flight, window seat right next to Quint from Jaws. The in-flight movie sucks, so we amuse ourselves by swapping harrowing tales about our scars over some strong drinks. When we get a little too loud singing Show Me the Way to Go Home, the flight attendant only gets a little angry, just cause we’re so charming. As she walks away, Quint raises his glass, “Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women.”
What adventure would you most like to go on?
I’d be ready to go on any adventure (except that terrible 4th one about aliens) with Indiana Jones. Snakes don’t bother me, so I’d be a perfect candidate to help him out down in the Well of Souls. If he gets stuck in a room where spikes have come out of the ceiling, slowly coming down to impale and crush him, I won’t take my sweet time whining about the bugs. Plus, I don’t need blocks on my feet to drive any getaway cars.
What movie gadget would you love to try out (or steal)?
Obviously, the neuralizer from Men in Black. Have I caused a bit of a mess and now people are pissed and asking too many questions? Just coyly put on some sunglasses and flash! They have no memory of it, and I get to make up whatever story I want to get away with anything.
What one film would you most want to be transported into, simply to be a part of that world?
The nerd in me would have died and gone to a galaxy far, far away to be transported into the world of Star Wars. Preferably, I’d end up in the old trilogy, fighting for the rebellion as an X-Wing pilot. If I end up in the new trilogy, I’d enjoy some Old Republic Jedi training under Yoda and die as Anakin turns to the dark side. No matter how fate goes, the force is still with me.