Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Semi-Charmed Summer 2014 Reading Challenge

So I started this blog to write about movies, but since I have become addicted to the reading challenges posted on the Semi-Charmed Life blog, I figured I would utilize this blog for something else I love.

Below is my preliminary reading list for the Summer 2014 challenge:

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long.
10 points: Read a book that was written before you were born.
 Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin (768 pages)
10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn't finish the first time around.
 What is the What by Dave Eggers (560 pages)
10 points: Read a book from the children’s section of the library or bookstore.
 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (272 pages)
15 points: Read a book that is on The New York Times' Best Sellers List when you begin reading it.
 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (775 pages) - currently #2 in hardcover fiction
15 points: Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe.
 The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (352 pages)
15 points: Read a book another blogger has already read for the challenge.
— TBD 
20 points: Read a book with “son(s),” “daughter(s)” or “child(ren)” in the title.
 Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (536 pages)
20 points: Read a book that was/will be adapted to film in 2014.
 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (started May 1, finished May 4)
25 points: Read a book written by a blogger.
 Julie and Julia by Julie Powell (400 pages)
25 points: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir.
 When Rabbit Howls by Truddi Chase (400 pages)
30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the titles.
 Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink (486 pages) & The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (516 pages)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ending the Hiatus

So I haven't posted on here in a long time -- mostly because I tend to never finish what I start -- but also because for a bit I wasn't watching a whole lot of movies.  With a newfound boredom due to nights home alone and being awake until about 5am, I have picked up the list where I left off, and have decided to keep writing about my ventures.

I am not, however, going to write a post for every movie I have watched in the past year.  I don't have the energy for that.  So for a small update I will give you my rankings as of right now.  My top 5 is significantly different than the last time I posted...

46 - Forrest Gump
45 - Yankee Doodle Dandy
44 - Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid
44 - Toy Story
44 - Shawshank Redemption

42 - Silence of the Lambs
41 - Titanic
41 - A Night at the Opera
40 - Ben Hur
40 - Goodfellas
39 - Pulp Fiction
39 - Sunrise
38 - The Apartment
38 - Sophie's Choice
38 - 12 Angry Men
38 - Platoon
37 - Swing Time
36 - Sixth Sense
35 - Modern Times
34 - All the President's Men
31 - Bringing Up Baby
30 - Do the Right Thing
29 - Easy Rider
26 - French Connection
24 - Spartacus
23 - Blade Runner
17 - In the Heat of the Night
14 - Last Picture Show
14 - The Wild Bunch

It seems obvious that Shawshank Redemption currently sits among the Top 5 since it is so widely loved, but I must say that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid proved quite a surprise for me.  I am not a fan of westerns for the most part.  The only western I remember truly loving was the Coen brothers reimagination of True Grit.  I am just not entertained by the John Waynes and Dirty Harrys, etc.  Butch and Sundance, however, were wonderful to watch.  A pair of dirty rotten scoundrels that you were rooting for not only because of their dashing good looks, but their endless humor.  And of course, I am in love with Robert Redford.  End of story.

I finally saw Silence of the Lambs after years of my begging my mother to "rent the butterfly movie".  Although Anthony Hopkins is wonderfully chilling, and Jodie Foster superb as the enthralling Clarice, it fell just short of the Top 5 after rewatching the Shawshank Redemption.

And as for the movie that now holds the #1 spot, what can I say but, RUN FORREST RUNNNNNNNNNNNN.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Easy Rider?

The film Easy Rider (1969) is not good at capturing a viewer's attention.  The first half is quite possibly the most uneventful piece of storytelling I've ever witnessed, that is not an exaggeration.  Much of the first half, or more, of this film is just Henry Fonda and Dennis Hopper riding across the country in motorcycles.  Seriously, just scene after scene after scene of them driving down the road on their motorcycles...   can you say zzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZ???????  I personally have no interest in watching a couple of hippies profit off a drug deal and then start out on a grand journey with the goal of getting to Mardi Gras, where they just end up doing drugs.

The story doesn't really pick up until they breach the border of the deep south where the people's hatred of hippies and what they represent becomes crystal clear.  Fonda and Hopper are seen as the scum of the Earth, insects meant to be squashed, purely because they represent a freedom that others do not understand.  They have no responsibility for anything or anyone but themselves, and no obligation to a job, a family, or even a place to call home.  This is seen as a huge threat to the South's way of life, or rather, the traditional American way of life.  Anything different can not be tolerated and is seen as dangerous.

The moral of this story is that nothing good can come from hatred, and yet the world doesn't seem to be able to learn from this lesson.  Decades have passed since the era of peace and free love but today's world has new rendition's of the same story.  The ongoing argument surrounding homosexuality in this country, for instance, has caused unadulterated hatred to rear its ugly head once more.  Some of the anti-LGBT posts that are seen on the internet are not only appalling and it sickens me to think that some of these witless morons could be my neighbors or the people I work with.  And let's not forget the atrocities that go on outside this country on account of differing political views or religions!  That's my favorite of them all:  hatred based on religious differences, when the sole purpose of religion is supposed to be teaching people how to live morally.  Where did religion go wrong?  How is it that the exact opposite of the initial ideal is now occurring?  How is that history continues to repeat itself over and over again?  Why does hatred still prevail in our world?

Aside from the utterly boring beginning, these are the points that Easy Rider brings to the table, and although the film is not great as a whole, I respect it for its morals.


Visual - 5
Acting - 8
Script/Plot - 3
Attention - 5
Emotion - 8

Total = 29/50

Friday, July 6, 2012

Groucho, Chico, Harpo!!!

A Night at the Opera was my first Marx Brothers film and I could not have been more impressed!!!  Not only do each of the brothers have an undoubtable charisma onscreen but the writing was nothing short of brilliant.  This script was by far the most clever I had ever experienced with a level of wit that no other film could possibly challenge.  George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind were true geniuses.

The Marx Brothers each brought something very specific and wonderful to the film:  Groucho is clearly the screwball comic, incorporating slapstick bits and effortlessly pulling off ongoing contradictions and comedic double-takes in his lines.  Chico puts on a miraculously realistic faux New York-Italian attitude and is one hell of a pianist.  Harpo is an absolute sweetheart, he draws his comedy from mimes with genuine goofy bits and can play harp unlike anyone I've ever seen.

This film, even though made in 1935, is one of the best examples of brilliant filmmaking in the history of the art form.  According to my own personal rating system this movie broke into my Top 5 films and definitely deserves to be there.  Everyone should see this movie.  I am so excited for Duck Soup (#60 on the list).


Visual - 5
Acting - 10
Script/Plot - 10
Attention - 9
Emotion - 7

TOTAL = 41/50

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I watched Platoon a couple months ago and honestly, trying to recall info about the movie now is proving difficult..  Clearly this movie did not leave that much of an impression on me.  The big-name actors in this film, i.e. Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Kevin Dillon, Dr. Cox from Scrubs (haha), Forest Whitaker, and Johnny Depp were all extremely appropriate choices for their roles, and the character development within the story is by far the best part.

One thing I will say is that Oliver Stone was not afraid to be blunt about gruesome events that occurred during the war.  What I did NOT know until writing this post was that Oliver Stone did a tour of duty in Vietnam which gives the movie much more credibility than I had initially realized.  While watching Platoon I had the same sensation as when I had watched the Hurt Locker.  After The Hurt Locker I could feel the heat and the sand on me after watching that movie.  With Platoon I felt as though I was wading through the swamps with Bravo Company, with blood-streaked faces and Agent Orange raining down upon us.  Oliver Stone made the dirt, grime, humidity, and pain come to life.


Visual - 9
Acting - 9
Script/Plot - 7
Attention - 8
Emotion - 5

TOTAL = 38/50

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Twelve Angry Men

With all of the controversial court cases that have been in the news recently, the film Twelve Angry Men was definitely an interesting inside look into the complicated nature of a jury.  It's no wonder the process of selecting a jury is so long...

This movie depicts the exact benefits and problems with using a jury made up of average U.S. citizens. Every person has their own story, their own opinions, and most importantly their own biases.  Based on this movie the selection process was a tiny bit more lax in 1957 than it is today, but the film's example of this proved the importance of having many different people of varying backgrounds in place on a jury.  It proves the importance of democracy and that someone's fate cannot be left up to a single person, because if that person has a bias against a certain sex, age, color, etc. they cannot be deemed able to pass judgment on their own.  Other perspectives must certainly be brought to the table for a collective agreement.  Below is a clip depicting one of the jurors in the film that held a racial prejudice against the defendant and the culmination of his opinion and how everyone else felt about it:

If only this were the exact response that everyone gave to prejudice like this..  We should all turn our backs to it and make it known that it is not tolerated.

I loved Twelve Angry Men because it is the perfect example of why sometimes the difficult conversations need to be had.  The political argument or debate on social issues and values is at times heated and uncomfortable, but that does not mean that we must shy away.  The ability to express our opinions is what makes us human, and no, we will not always agree that is definite.  But why must we always agree?  We are freethinking and I hold that in the highest regard.  The only thing that must unite us is morality, a code of ethics, and the underlying drive to ultimately do what we feel is just.


Visual - 5
Acting - 9
Script/Plot - 9
Attention - 8
Emotional Response - 7

Total = 38/50

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bringing Up Baby

Bringing Up Baby, with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, is the ideal "screwball comedy".  A film from the era of the Great Depression, this film is filled with comedy that will transcend all generations.  This sub-genre within comedy was created with the purpose of helping people to forget the financial troubles prevalent during that time, something that people today can greatly sympathize with.  This story is aborably ridiculous and has the ability to make anyone briefly forget their troubles...   and even forget that Hepburn's character is an A-grade bimbo.  In no other movie could that portrayal of a woman be excusable, so the comedy must be great!


V - 3
A - 6
S - 8
A - 6
E - 8

Total = 31/50