Tag Archives: films

The Windy Road Home

25 Apr

So I had a great time hanging out with my friend in Tucson, but as Ben Franklin says, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” After sleeping on his couch and shooting the breeze, I had to get going home. Which means driving through a wind storm in the Sonoran Desert.

Despite the picture above, we actually had no visible dust blowing through–apparently the previous two dust storms this season took out all the easily accessible dust, so visibility was clear. Sorry to fool you, but it’s really hard to show wind in a desert landscape, because there’s not a lot of trees as a visual reference.

But a two hour trip does give you plenty of time to think. Since I like to stop in Casa Grande on the way home, it did make me think, “How do you screw up a Scotch and Soda? It’s two ingredients!” Yet it tasted terrible. Must have been a really bad well scotch–which is entirely possible–or way too much soda. Which is rather difficult with such a small glass.

Okay, enough complaining. I did go down to a Legion bar while I was down in Tucson (when I got there, not when I was leaving), and was pleasantly surprised on how nice it was. It also had the highest number of day drinkers I have ever seen concentrated in one place. Wow. I guess the sheer number of retirees in that location makes that a lot more possible. There were several visitors from out of town, including folks from LA, Georgia, and Scotland (by way of Canada)! There I was, doing a little writing and playing, and this couple with a thick Scottish accent are hanging out.

My friend is also someone who “swallowed the blue pill,” which is our family’s term for someone who is very afraid of COVID. He’s had the first shot, but doesn’t want to eat in a restaurant until he’s had the second shot. I respect that, even if I don’t agree with his opinion, but we disagree with a lot of things. We’re still friends. I personally think it feeds into his agoraphobia, so it’s really just an excuse, albeit a good one. However, it’s not like he asked me if I was sick coming into his house, or the fact that I haven’t gotten the shot either… so how effective is his isolation?

However, my friend did introduce me to a couple films that I never would have seen on my own. So often, I get turned off by reviews, that when my friend (who has different standards) takes a gander at stuff, he’s able to open my horizons beyond what I would be willing to. And that’s the point of having friends; someone who will not just make you less lonely, but to challenge you and your thoughts. We had a conversation about gun control–I can’t say I defended my position really well, but then again, I wasn’t planning to make a convincing argument at that moment.

So to wrap it all up, vacation allows us to have new experiences. The stay-cation never has the same effect; getting out of your bubble, the same-old, same-old, refreshes us and challenges us in ways that give us energy for the days ahead. However, this collection of random thoughts may be a bit too silly–what do you think? Let me know in the comments below! Then if you need more random thoughts, check out one of my books. However, but if you don’t want to pay for someone else’s ramblings, go ahead and download one of my stories for free!

That Film That Only You Care About

8 Apr

A film podcast I listen to put out a challenge: have them review a film they haven’t seen before. That’s kind of a problem since they’ve been doing a film review show for twenty years. But as I get older, I have to focus on films I love that people forgot they watched.

So many films that I love (that are relatively obscure) are only beloved in my memory because I watched them in that “magic time” of 12-16. By most objective views, they’re not great, but because I watched them at a time I was discovering films, I thought they were amazing! Big Trouble in Little China still tops the charts as one of my favorite films, but a lot of other people would argue that’s good as well, so let me get into REAL obscure-ville for films I like but no one else does:

2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)

The sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey that no one asked for. Monoliths around Jupiter. Giant Space Baby. Roy Scheider. This is a colossal hard sci-fi film that had one major flaw… it wasn’t Kubrick’s 2001. It made money, but no one ever bothered to film 2061: Odyssey Three. It was a film that was enjoyed, but forgotten. It was forgotten because one of the main plots was two warring powers–the US and the Soviet Union–had to came together in face of this alien event. Then the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the movie wasn’t relevant anymore. Neither was PanAm Airlines, so this film became very dated, very quick. Still love the story, the acting (Helen Mirram as the Russian pilot is awesome), and the effects, but no one remembers this film.

Freejack (1992)

I grew up loving cyberpunk, so this film really hits it hard for me, since there are very few films in this subgenre. Most people remember this film as “Oh, yeah–wasn’t that the one with Mick Jagger?” Yes, and he’s frickin’ phenomenal in it. This was near the end of Emilio Estavez’s success, so again, a lot of people saw this film… but few people remember it. The main flaw with this film is that they set it not far enough in the future (2009) for most of this stuff to happen, but it’s a wonderful cyberpunk romp with time travel instead of virtual hackers. Anthony Hopkins does a great job… for the limited amount of time he’s on screen, and Rene Russo is frickin’ hot, even if you have trouble believing that she’s 18 in the beginning of the film.

Predator 2 (1990)

This is cyberpunk light, so it still has a soft spot in my heart. Again, not far enough in the future–1997–but pretty believable like watching Demolition Man. This film gets forgotten because… well, it wasn’t Predator, but still has a lot of great acting (by the supporting cast), great action, and chasing the alien around LA is awesome. Danny Glover is… well, playing Danny Glover. Bill Paxton plays… well, Bill Paxton, and yes, he gets killed by the alien. But you had some great goofy bug hunt, and even if it’s not great, I still love this film.

So what films do you love that everyone else has forgotten about? Let me know in the comments below! And after you get tired of films, why not pick up one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too rich for your blood, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. Remember, Ripper, I wasn’t testing you… I was testing the machine. (And it works.) 🙂

What is obvious to some…

22 Feb

I made sure to introduce Monty Python’s The Holy Grail to my son at the earliest age possible. So when we sat with other geeks, Asher knew all about it. Then someone asked, “has he seen Life of Brian yet?” I said no. Why? Because he simply wouldn’t get it.

Why wouldn’t he get it? Because he didn’t grow up in a Christian culture. He went to Jewish schools until he was in 3rd Grade. We go to synagogue every week. The only connection he has with Christians are his friends, and as teenage boys, they’re less likely to talk about faith except in the passing. He barely knows about Jesus’ story, Christian holidays, and the New Testament… except from what we taught him.

So although it’s an incredibly funny film, for my son, most of it is only funny in context. Which means I’d have to explain the film as he watched it; that would make it homework and kill the joy out of it. So I figure he should probably discover it later on his own. However, that’s led to another problem… all modern comedy is based on Python. Every single comedic ensemble that Asher enjoys learned initially from watching Python. I tried showing him an episode of Flying Circus once and… he just didn’t get into it. Some of it dated, but more to the point, he’s seen so many other groups do similar jokes, or (gasp) do them better.

It’s like having film students watch Citizen Kane. By modern standards, it’s an okay film; solid, not amazing. It’s only when you have someone explain why the film is amazing that you actually understand. Before Orson Wells, all films showed a scene in front of a backdrop–the camera didn’t move, the lighting was always bright to show the actors on screen, there was no variation. It was much more stilted production. Citizen Kane created cinematography.

The reason you don’t see that when watching Citizen Kane is because every film after that is based on Citizen Kane. So all the ingenious concepts got copied by everybody else. It’s like rewatching The Matrix–you’re not wowed by bullet time or the inventive use of green screen. Thankfully, it’s still a good film; the fight scenes are still enjoyable, but you’ve seen similar stuff since then.

So will Asher seek out Life of Brian? Who knows? But he’s not clamoring for it. There are so many options–so many other movies he wants to see–that unless someone watches it with him, I don’t think he’ll seek it out on his own. Which is a different post for a different day; the loss of a common canon. But what do you think? Would Life of Brian still be good without knowing much about Christianity? How many films do you drag your kids (or someone else’s kids) to, because you know that if they watch it long enough, they’ll love it? Let me know in the comments below!

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