Let's All Go to the Movies

Call me crazy but I've been thinking a lot lately about how much I'm looking forward to sharing some of my favorite movies with my son. The fact that he's only 7 months-old just means I have plenty of time to plan. My wife and I have discussed the appropriate age for some movies... and she has weighed in with her opinions after getting past the fact that I'm crazy.

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Gremlins - PG

A Christmas favorite! But, how old should my little guy be before I let him watch it? There's the super cute Gizmo... but there's also 'the microwave scene'. I'm thinking I was 11-12 the first time I saw Gremlins so I think somewhere in the 10-12 range for my boy. I said 10... she said 12.

Blade Runner - R

My all-time-favorite movie. This one is definitely not for youngsters. Even if you look past the darkness and violence, the underlying theme of what makes us human would be lost on kids. I really don't know what the appropriate age is here... Should I make him read the book first? 14? 16?

Blazing Saddles - R

This is probably the movie I'm most looking forward to sharing. A Mel Brooks classic that wouldn't even be possible to make today. I'm sure we'll have to talk about the appropriateness of some of the language, but I think it's important to be exposed to potentially uncomfortable situations that make us question and discuss. And then there's the campfire scene... did I mention I'm looking forward to this? 14?

The Entire James Bond Filmology - PG - PG-13

Once a year I watch all the James Bond films in order (by release). Yes, that means I've seen Moonraker more times than is safe but it's the price I pay. I found an excellent article over on Fandango titled "When Can I Watch James Bond With My Kids". I agree with their assessment of the level of violence and sexual innuendo and that for the most part it's far less explicit than a lot of other offerings. I believe the suggested age range mentioned near the end of the article (9-11) seems like a good fit.

Apocalypse Now - R

This one is going to need some more thought...

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Of course, all of this may be negated by the fact that my kid may not even want to watch these movies. Or he may suffer through them out of pity for his old man and it may not turn out to be quite the bonding (no pun intended) moment that I'd hoped.

 

Better Plex on Roku?

I received an interesting email from Roku yesterday.  Besides tempting me to buy the MLB TV package (which I'm considering), it also contained this:

 

This is what I've been waiting for... I hope.  There was already a Beta version of Plex available, but the controls just didn't feel right and it was a hassle to scroll through every movie to get to the one I wanted to watch.  This release version looks to be more polished.  In fact, it looks a lot like the Plex app for iOS.  The presentation of your library has a similar feel to NetFlix on Roku.  There are separate sections for your Plex Channels and for your home libraries (Movies, TV, etc.).  Within the library there are the expected sections like "Newly Released", "Recently Watched", "By Genre", "By Actor", etc.  Actually, these are the same headings that were available in the Beta app, but you could only choose them one at a time along the top of the screen.  The new interface definitely looks and feels better.  This is what I've been waiting for.

Add the Plex Channel to your Roku.

Anyone Know a Film Director?

OK, time to talk about something important. Something that has been on my mind for the past few days and I think it's time we all just face it head on. I'm talking, of course, about Moonraker . Remember the film from the late 70's? If not, you're one of the lucky ones.  Unfortunately, I remember it. I remember it as a steaming pile of disorganized crap.

    At the time, I didn't think too much about.  I've always been a tremendous fan of the James Bond franchise and I just saw this as an unfortunate mistake.  But, earlier this year I decided to set about reading all the original Ian Fleming novels.  When I got to book 3, "Moonraker", I was blown away.

    The character development, depictions of London, and the relatively tight geographic setting for the novel should have made it a perfect candidate for film adaptation. Instead, the powers the be decided that post-WWII tensions between Britain and Russia were not relevant enough... and also because of a little film called Star Wars, they decided to move Moonraker into outer space.  I know, it sounds like such a good idea, how could it have gone so wrong?

    So yesterday while I was discussing theme songs from James Bond movies with my wife (seriously, those are the kinds of things we talk about) I began to feel cheated.  Cheated by the 1979 incarnation of Moonraker.  This could have been... no, SHOULD have been a great movie.  But, I'm an optimist and I don't think it's too late.  After my initial skepticism with Daniel Craig, I'm completely on board with him as the hard-ass Capt. James Bond from Fleming's novels.  He's the obvious choice for a film version of Moonraker.  I'm not even going to call it a remake because the first attempt was so far off target as to be an unrecognizable effort.

    I'd love to see it stay fairly true to the original novel with the 1950's setting.  Movies don't have to be currently politically relevant to be good.  

    Time for casting.  I haven't ironed out the cast yet, but I'm thinking about it. Feel free to share any of your ideas and opinions in the comments section. Here are my thoughts so far and I'll follow up in the future as things begin to flesh out.

    We know (or at least I do) that Craig IS Bond.  That's the easy part.  And, if we're going to stay true to the novel, then that means that Judi Dench won't be our "M".  Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing but respect for her since she took on the role, but for our return to the Blades club we'll need a "new" M.

    Beyond Bond, the second most important piece of casting is for the villain, Sir Hugo Drax.  The 1/2 German 1/2 British hero-turned-villian is an amazingly crafted character in the novel and deserves some thought as to who could step into the cinematic role.  I'm already imaging the card playing scenes at Blades between M, Bond, and Drax!

    Next up is Gala Brand; the girl that Bond didn't get.  She's a British special agent assigned as the assistant to Hugo Drax.

    Also, we have the roles of Willy Krebs and Dr. Walter to fill.  But, no Jaws and no Chang as, thankfully, they were not a part of the original story.

    That's it.  A sparse few major characters and only a few settings, but I believe this could still be a great movie.

Favorite Movies

Last week I ran an "unofficial" contest on my Facebook account asking my FB friends to guess my favorite movies to win a copy of my book. The premise was simple enough; the first three people to guess a movie that's on my top 10 list would win a book. However, when I set about creating the list, that task was anything but easy.

Straight away I decided to exclude comedies from the list. I don't think it's possible to judge comedies along with other movie genres. It's hard enough to weigh dramas against action movies, but how can I compare Old School to Fight Club? I'll probably end up ranking my top 10 comedies and then using that list as a contest for a giveaway here... so stay tuned.

But, back to the list. After much agonizing, sorting, shuffling, and re-sorting I finally arrived at a top 10. At the moment I saved it, I knew it was probably not 100% accurate. I'm sure there were movies that I had simply forgotten about that belonged on the list... or did they if I forgot about them?

Without further ado... the list:

  1. Blade Runner
  2. Apocalypse Now
  3. Rear Window
  4. Fight Club
  5. Unforgiven
  6. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
  7. North By Northwest
  8. Pulp Fiction
  9. American Beauty
  10. A Clockwork Orange

To me, these are all movies that stand the test of time. I wouldn't hesitate to rewatch any one of them on a moment's notice.

I've gotten some grief about my #1, but I don't care. It's my list. There is so much more going on beneath the surface in that movie that it's completely deserving of the number 1 spot. Also, Philip K. Dick is one of my favorite authors. Blade Runner is adapted from his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? .  I can't recommend it enough. Now, if someone would make Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said ...

Apocalypse Now is an easy #2 for me. I can't recall how many times I've watched that movie. Hell, I've bought the DVD three times; The original, Redux, and the Complete Dossier. If and when I buy a blu-ray player it will be one of the first titles I purchase.

I think the two Hitchcock movies need no defending (#3 Rear Window & #7 North by Northwest). I'm a trememdous fan of all his work, but these are two of my favorites along with The Lady Vanishes and The Thirty-Nine Steps .

Fight Club . Another great movie based on another great book. Check out the book if you haven't already.

Unforgiven. Not just a great Western, but a great all-around movie. Tombstone is not too far out of my top 10 as well.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest .  Continuing the great book, great movie theme.

Pulp Fiction. Tarantino's masterpiece.

American Beauty. Kevin Spacey at his best.

A Clockwork Orange. Uh, what to say about this one? Well, after watching it 4 or 5 times it starts to make more sense... nah, it's just crazy-fun-as-hell to watch.