My first order of business with this new site is to move everything from my original website (100 Bag of Popcorn) to here. So here is the little backgrounder on the reason for this list and my progress thus far will be posted soon!
I've always been attracted to the big screen for one reason or another. Sometimes it's because I can relate to the main character. Other times it's because I wish I could travel back to that time and live a day in their lives. Mostly, I watch movies for the same reason many other people watch movies, because for a few hours you can laugh, cry or scare yourself silly and just forget about everything going on in your life. That's the best part about movies I think. So, being a movie buff, you would think that I had seen all of the great classics. Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Dr. Strangelove... but I am openly admitting that I have not seen any of these movies, along with many other American "classics". So, in order to help complete my cinema education, I have decided to watch the AFI Top 100 Movies of all time and write a blog about it. Now, I don't claim to be a movie expert. Just an avid fan. Much of what I say you may disagree with, but that's OK. That's the great thing about movies, everyone sees each one differently. I already know I will be cringing through Silence of the Lambs.. I guess I just hope that anyone reading my blog will enjoy my commentary and maybe can either relate to how I feel, or encourage a discussion about our difference in opinions... Enjoy!
"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster." -Henry Hill
As a boy, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) idolized the Italian Lucchese crime family gangsters in his blue-collar neighborhood in New York, and went to work for them as an errand boy at an early age. The local mob capo, Paul Cicero (Paul Sorvino) and Cicero's close associate Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) helped to cultivate Henry's criminal career, and were his closest friends within the mob. The movie GoodFellas follows Henry, Paul, Jimmy and Tommy Devito (Joe Pesci) through their careers in the mob, consisting of major thefts, controversial murders, and drug dealing, all of which eventually leads them either to death, prison or the witness protection program.
Now, being a gangster movie, this is definitely a "guys guy" movie, but I think that women can really get behind it and relate to it as well. There is one character not listed above that had an important role in this movie, and that is Henry's wife Karen (Lorraine Bracco). Karen was a young girl swept off her feet by the "bad boy" nature of Henry. I think she really truly started to love him the moment after he beat her next door neighbor with a gun and then asked her to hide it in her mother's house. Karen stuck by him through everything, including infidelity, murder, jail time and drug abuse. This made me ask the simple question... why?
It's that damn bad boy image that gets us girls. We can try to deny it, say that we want guys who treat us well, pamper us and love us unconditionally, but that isn't always the case. The fact is that there is something intriguing about a guy living on the edge, and not being sure where he will be or what he will do next. You like the thrill and excitement, and when he screws up you chalk it up to his personality and that "well, he may have stayed out all night drinking with his boys, but he came home to me eventually..."
There's also the "Well, I know he has some bad habits, but maybe I can make him change, maybe I will be the one he will realize is worth giving up his bad boy life style for." The truth is, no one is good enough to change this breed of men.... look at George Clooney!! The man is a fox and he has dated some of the sexiest women in the world... and he just bounces from one to another like its nothing at all. Completely happy being free and single....
For some men... its just in their blood, and they are the only ones that can decide when they are ready to change... For some of us girls... we are willing to wait as long as it takes, because we are just so gosh darn, head over heals, fly me to the moon in love.. but for most of us, we keep on moving ahead telling ourselves "I am so much better off without him" and "his loss" and find someone who does treat us well, but I think a piece of us will always be thinking... what if..
Ok, Ok.... I know. I have failed in my blogging. Life has gotten in the way, and I'm pretty sure made the movie I now have from Netflix worth $30 instead of $9 or less. So yes, I have failed. However, there is no where to go from here but up, and (since I am currently doing NOTHING at work) I will be making a plan of action to tackle this 100 movies list!!!!
So, that being said, Here is Do The Right Thing:
So my lack of attention to this blog may have been due to my less than enthusiastic response to the last movie ("Blade Runner"...don't bother), and this movie "Do The Right Thing". Now, it wasn't that this movie had a poor story line or horrible acting that made me lose my interest. It was that I had a very hard time relating to this movie on a personal level. I tried to think of every angle I possibly could, but I ended with zip, nada, nothing!
Brooklyn, NY is experiencing a heat wave during the summer of 1989, and people are doing anything they can to keep themselves and tensions cool. Mookie (Spike Lee) is a young man living in a black and Puerto Rican neighborhood with his sister, Jade (Joie Lee, Lee's real life sister), and works as a pizza delivery man for a local pizzeria. Salvatore "Sal" Frangione (Danny Aeillo), the pizzeria’s Italian-American owner, has owned it for twenty-five years. His older son, Giuseppe, better known as Pino (John Turrno), "detests the place like a sickness" and holds racial contempt for the neighborhood blacks. Sal's younger son, Vito (Richard Edson), is friends with Mookie, who is black, which Pino feels undermines their fraternal bond.
Upon entering Sal's shop, a kid named Buggin' Out questions Sal about the "Wall of Fame" in the restaurant displaying famous Italians, and demands he place some pictures of black celebrities on the wall, since, he explains, Sal's pizzeria is situated in a black neighborhood and sells pizza to black people. Buggin' Out attempts to start a protest over the "Wall of Fame", but no one will support his protest except Radio Raheem, who earlier got into an argument with Sal about playing his boombox loudly in the store. Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) lives for nothing else but to blast Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" on his boom box wherever he goes.
That night, as the shop is closing, Radio Raheem and Buggin' Out march into Sal's and demand that Sal change the pictures on the wall. Radio Raheem's boombox is blaring at the highest volume causing Sal to yell and demand that they turn the radio down or leave the shop, but the two men refuse to do. Finally, Sal snaps and destroys Radio Raheem's boombox with a baseball bat. This causes Radio Raheem to become enraged, attacking Sal. A fight ensues along with a crowd of spectators. The policemen arrive at the scene and Buggin' Out is arrested while Radio Raheem is placed in a chokehold by one officer, killing him.
Afterwards, the large crowd of onlookers are enraged about Radio Raheem's death. A tense moment ensues when the crowd contemplates violence against Sal, Vito, and Pino. Deciding that the floodgates are going to burst open eventually, Mookie grabs a trash can and throws it through the window of Sal's restaurant, directing the collective anger towards the property and away from the owners. The angry crowd becomes a riotous mob, rushes into the restaurant, and destroys everything within, eventually setting the place on fire. Firefighters arrive and begin spraying Sal's building as the crowd is held back by riot patrol. The firefighters, after several warnings to the crowd, turn their hoses on the mob, further enraging them. Meanwhile, Smiley wanders back into the smoldering restaurant and hangs a picture of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. on what's left of Sal's "Wall of Fame".
The next day, Mookie returns to Sal and demands his weekly pay he had earlier been demanding to receive early, which he gets and he and Sal cautiously reconcile.
Wow. I hope just from reading that summary you are able to comprehend how powerful of a movie this is. So much tension over race. Now, I hope you can also see why I had a hard time relating to this film. If you haven't checked out my picture on the "Cast" tab, I am a 22 year-old, white, blonde girl who grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Now, you might think that, "hey, Washington, DC is such a diverse area, you have to be familiar with racial tension." You would be half correct. Yes, the Washington, DC area is a very diverse area, and for that reason, I never really paid race any mind while I was growing up.
During my childhood, I grew up next door to a family from Pakistan, had a friend down the street who had both white and black parents, and my best friends in elementary school were, Persian, Mexican, and Black. I don't think I even thought about the fact that they looked different from me, because when I looked around, everyone was different from everyone else. This continued to be my way of life all throughout my middle school and high school years. Italian, Filipino, Irish, Jewish (attended soo many Bar and Bat Mitzvas...) African American, African, Australian... name a country and there was somebody in my school from there. We all grew up together like this, and I can't speak for all of those friends I had (would be interesting to hear their take on it), but I never really thought about what another person's race was or paid it much attention. Until I went to Miami University in Ohio.
People talk about a culture shock of going from a small town to a big city, well going from my medium sized town, to middle of no where Ohio with a school that probably ranks as one of the least diverse colleges in the country (# 4 most homogeneous in the country in 2008), was a culture shock. Every one... was... white. Not only white, but looked exactly the same. I could probably have counted on one hand how many people I passed walking to class who were of a different race than me. It was startling. I had never really thought about race when I was applying for schools because I guess I had just naively assumed that all colleges and towns were diverse, just like mine back home. (University of Maryland is a VERY diverse school in a VERY diverse area).
So although I am not some sheltered person living in the middle of no where (like Oxford, Ohio), I have never experienced racial tension first hand. The person closest to me who I think can relate to this story more than me would be my father, who has been a teacher and coach in the county I grew up in for over 30 years. He specifically teaches students who are struggling in mathematics and usually come from low-income families. I can't say off the top of my head any stories he has about racial tension between him and another student or students between themselves, but I do know that it has happened. I know generally that when he benches a kid for poor grades, he is sometimes accused of being racist. The funny thing is, this can sometimes come from white players who think he just wants to play black players!
The film ends with two quotations : The first, from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., argues that violence is never justified under any circumstances. The second, from M argues that violence is not violence, but "intelligence" when it is self-defense. These are both good quotes to think about and mull over as you watch "Do The Right Thing". I would recommend watching it, even if you don't think you can relate to it, because it has such a powerful message and maybe it will educate those of us who do not understand.
So can I just take a moment to say Harrison Ford is a FOX...
Ok, now that I have that out of the way, Blade Runner. I have to be completely honest, I was underwhelmed with this movie, and I am not sure why it is on the Top 100 list. Yes, Harrison Ford is amazing to look at (especially circa his Star Wars days) but there needs to be more to a movie besides amazing bone structure and a chiseled stomach.
The movie takes place in Los Angeles in the year 2019 (the year the Federal Government expects me to finish paying off my student loans...plus interest) where the people of Earth now own flying cars and have begun to colonize other planets with human like robots called "replicants". These replicants were designed as slaves for the colonists until they decided to revolt and were ordered to be removed. A few escaped and made their way to Earth where they came to seek revenge on their makers. Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, a retired cop who is asked to return to the force to track down these renegade replicants and destroy them.
So now that we are all up to speed, can we talk about the fact that 2019 is 9 years from now?!? The movie was written in 1982, and the writers believed that 37 years from then (yes, I used my fingers to count that out) everyone would be flying around in cars and we would have human cyborgs that would do our bidding. So I guess the initial reaction some people would have would be, "What were these writers thinking? How could that have happened in such a short period of time?" However, my initial reaction was "Have we as humans failed to meet former generations expectations?" "Have we become lazy or unmotivated?" This made me wonder, how long it took humans to create other noteworthy advances in technology...
Here is a little history lesson: The first car was built in 1896 by Henry Ford (no relation). Roughly 40 years later, the first televisions were made available for consumers to purchase. Less than 30 years later, in 1969, those people were watching a man walk on the moon from their living rooms. Wow. To me, that seems incredible. The fact that my grandparents didn't even have a television and that I am sitting at a device able to transcribe and send information instantly across the world is mind boggling to me.
So that brings me back to the essential question, were the writers too ambitious or have humans not accomplished enough? I think it is a bit of both. The age in which the writers had written this script was full of advancements in technology, and history was showing them that it should only continue at the current, or an even faster, rate. Now, lets not completely discount what humans have accomplished since 1982. Again, I am able to sit here and write this blog which is something that never would have been fathomed in the 80's. We cracked the genetic code, created cell phones, the hybrid car, DVDs, ipods...etc. I do not think we as humans have failed to live up to the accomplishments of our ancestors, but that our areas of focus have changed.
There is no real desire for flying cars, besides the novelty of it (I mean, that would be pretty neat), but imagine the issues we would have today with the FAA and concerns about terrorism. Robots are just not practical. They aren't affordable and there is no real desire for them. Also, after seeing a million movies with robots attacking the human race including, I Robot, Terminator, Austin Powers (remember those Fembots?!), I have no desire to know or own one. Space exploration and "colonizing" other planets has also fallen to the way-side. People are still trying to figure out how to make this planet work, why start another one? If we learned anything from our American History classes (well, any countries history class for that matter) colonization of a new land is not a walk in the park. Were still trying to figure out what happened to the lost colony of Roanoke (google it). The truth is, our goals and ambitions have shifted since 1982 due to world events and changes in interest. So to me, yes we have failed to meet some peoples expectations, but I don't think that we will leave future generations unimpressed.
As far as the movie itself goes, I found it to be forgettable, and again, was unsure why it would make the Top 100. I did a little research and I saw that it was nominated for 2 Oscars, one for Best Effects and one for Best Art Direction. After seeing what they were nominated for I could understand a little bit more. In 1982, the technology that they were using in this movie was probably cutting edge. I wonder what that generation thought of the effects in the movie Avatar... you're welcome. :o)
"Say goodbye to the wife and tater tots!" This was one of my favorite lines from the movie Toy Story when I was growing up. My brother and I watched this movie so much as kids that we could recite the whole first scene by memory. Needless to say, that hasn't changed, and we tend to annoy/shock our family and friends when we talk back and forth to one another purely in movies quotes.
I was about 8 years old when Toy Story first came out, and my favorite toy at that time was probably my American Girl doll Kirsten. Whether it was the beach, skiing, or just to the mall, Kirsten was always dressed for the occasion, and I took her everywhere. Every Christmas I would dress her in her St. Lucia outfit (white robe and crown of candles) for church. One Christmas (or birthday I don't remember exactly, especially because they are so close together) I got another American Girl doll, Josephina. Now Kirsten basically looked exactly like me (Scandinavian) and we basically had the same name, but Josephina was exoctic looking and had beautiful silky hair that I could braid and unbraid without ruining. (Kirsten's hair at that point looked like straw.) Josephina came with all new dresses and accessories and I was so excited. That Christmas, I was told I could only bring one toy to Pizza Planet.. I mean Christmas service, and guess which one I took. She had never had a Christmas experience and it was only fair! At least that was my 8 year old reasoning. But I am pretty sure that as soon as I got home, I ran upstairs and found Kirsten and gave her a big hug. After that, I took both of them everywhere I went, and was sure to try and not show favoritism. I'm not sure when I saw Toy Story in relation to getting Josephina, but I know that I probably was able to relate to the story line very well.
Now watching this movie almost 15 years later, there are other themes that stood out to me. As a kid you see toys acting and you don't think that you can relate to the situation they are in, because they are toys, not humans. Watching the movie now, I see how I can relate to those toys and their struggle with friendship. Growing up, and even today, I never had just one best friend. I have had many. Most of which were best friends with my other best friends. This always caused problems from when we were young, and still sometimes today, when it came to attention being paid more to one than the other. Just like Woody and Buzz, if one of us was invited on a "play date" the other best friend better have been invited too. Don't get me wrong, I loved and still love having a group of people I can call my best friends, but it doesn't come without effort, understanding and compromise. Once you have that balance, you find yourself surrounded by a group of people who all love each other no matter what, and that is worth all the effort.
Although my brother and I could probably still recite the lines from this movie, there are many aspects to this movie that we missed. Being a kid, you take movies at face value, and don't pick up on many things that the writers may have added. (Sometimes to keep the parents that are watching from going insane.) One thing that popped out, that many of you may never remember seeing, was Mr. Potatohead taking his lips off and kissing his backside. I don't think I would have understood this as an 8 year-old, but I found it pretty funny as a 21 year old. Also, I can imagine watching this movie as a parent and seeing the kid character Sid blowing up toys, and thinking "This child shows all the signs of being a mass murderer when he grows up" or "Where are the child's parents? Why are they allowing him to destroy his sisters dolls and order fireworks through the mail?". One random thing that stood out to me was that the main character Andy did not seem to have a father around. His mother never mentions him, but has a young daughter Molly that can't be older than a year, year and a half. They are also moving at the time, so I wonder did he leave them? Did he pass away? It bothers me that I do not know, but again, this is something I never would have noticed as a child.
Overall, this movie holds wonderful childhood memories for me and I am happy that it made the Top 100 list, because although it was probably added due to the honor of being the first Pixar movie, it can be related to, interpreted and enjoyed by anyone of any age differently. That is what a good movie is supposed to do.
Let me know what you thought of the movie Toy Story, and if you haven't watched it in a while (or ever) pick it up, I think it will definitely be worth your while. Also, share some of your childhood memories about your toys when you were young!!!!
Watching Ben-Hur was a great way to start off my AFI Top 100 list. Not because it was an amazing movie, but because it contains everything that a viewer would think a "Top 100 Movie" should have. Symbolism, drama, action, and and a moral. When thinking about what I would choose to write about for the movie Ben-Hur I came to a dilemma. I realized there was so much I could write about that I didn't know where to begin. I felt like it was divided into two different movies. One half focused on revenge and the other half focused on the religious theme.
Although there were many aspects to the movie, I would say the theme of revenge stuck out the most. Two childhood friends brought back together only to be torn apart by conflicting beliefs. Something that I personally have never experienced but made for an interesting story. Messala felt so strongly about his beliefs and the opportunities he had within the Roman Empire that he was willing to sacrifice a family who he had been close to since boyhood. That is something that I cannot relate to, and is hard for me to write about. This is probably because I am a "people pleaser". I hate having people not like me or be upset at me. So if I had been in Juda's or Messala's position I probably would have tried to come to some sort of agreement or even maybe gone along with my friend's opinion just to end the argument and move on.
Something else that surprised me during the movie was the lack of reconciliation between Messala and Judah. When Messala calls Judah to his death bed and refuses treatment until he sees him, I thought that this would be the moment where the two would realize their mistakes and ask for forgiveness from one another. Instead, Messala decides to use his last dying breath to take one more stab at Judah's heartstrings. I thought that moment was a great change from what viewers would have expected to happen and I must admit, that I felt bad for Messala laying on that table in so much pain until he showed no remorse, and then I didn't feel so badly anymore.
After watching Ben-Hur I can see why it is on the AFI Top 100 list. For being made in 1959 it had pretty realistic action scenes and special affects (it won the Oscar for Best Special Effects), as well as convincing acting on the part of Charlton Heston (Judah) and Stephen Boyd (Messala). There were times during the movie that I expected dramatic music to suddenly be played to emphasize the emotion of the scene, but realized that it was not needed because the emotion from the actors faces showed it all. Something I do not recall happening very often in current movies.
One of my favorite quotes from the movie was when Sheik Ilderim commented: One God, that I can understand; but one wife? That is not civilized. It is not generous!
I did enjoy watching Ben-Hur, even if it was over three hours long. I suggest watching it over the span of two nights or maybe on a rainy saturday afternoon, when you don't have any other plans for the day. Also, make sure whoever you are watching it with can sit for more than an hour without having their ADD kick in and distract you from the movie :o)
I hope you enjoyed my first post, and please leave your own thoughts about the movie below!!!!