Check out the prologue to "Alone In The Light" by clicking here

An excerpt from: Alone In The Light

Monday, June 25, 2018

Let's all go to the movies!!!

Let's talk about MOVIES!!!

For some reason - our culture seems to be obsessed with the idea that Cinema is the BEST format for all entertainment.  And while I disagree with that statement wholeheartedly - I do find that there are some really great films out there across a wide range of genres that are just awesome. And let's face it - there are few things more awesome than loading up on popcorn and soda to go sit in the dark with a screen bigger than most houses to watch stories unfold before your eyes...

I've seen thousands of movies in my life. It's the one thing I love as much as reading. In seeing so many films I have LOADS of "favorites" I have my favorite comedy, my favorite drama, my favorite guilty pleasure movie... I have favorite and sub-category favorites for just about every genre. But above all that, I have a small core of movies that I hold near and dear. Movies I can quote without thinking. I don't have to say "uh... what was that one line?" - I just know them. If I were James Halliday - they'd be canon. I do not mean that these are the best movies ever made. I am simply saying that, in my opinion, I can watch any of these movies at almost any time.. They are my personal favorites that do not seem to get old for me... this list is in alphabetical order to avoid the headache caused by trying actually rank them from 1-10.

So, without further adieu, here is my list of:


Aliens - 1986
Quite possibly one of the best of the best in Science Fiction. I was too young to see Alien when it came out in 1979... but 8 year old me about shit myself when I saw Aliens for the first time. It has everything!  Space Marines, cool ships, guns, Bill Paxton yelling "Game over, man! Game over!" It has suspense, drama, action, and above all - heart. More than anything - it has Ellen Ripley played by Sigourney Weaver. Her character is one of the most badass people in science fiction and, again - my opinion here - paved the way for women in kickass roles in Sci-Fi for years to come. (Yes, I know Princess Leia came first - but she was nowhere NEAR as awesome as Ellen Ripley. And then there is Paul Riser...  Raise your hand if you didn't LOATHE his character... go ahead... anyone? Exactly. Yet, in the end, he goes out like a boss along with yet another badass - Jenette Goldstein's portrayal of Marine Private Vasquez.  If you've never seen this movie - well, something is seriously wrong with you. It is a classic of modern cinema.

Black Hawk Down - 2001
Graduating Basic Training from the lovely Fort Benning, GA in 1998 - I was all about Black Hawk Down. It also helps that I have a friend from my first 2 years of college who was present during these events. And I'd read the book. And I wanted to be super high-speed, go get'em soldier at the time. Regardless - I really enjoyed the movie. Spot-on soundtrack, mostly accurate portrayals of soldiers - MOSTLY = close enough for movies... and lots of action, explosions, helicopters and various soldiers running, shooting, jumping, climbing trees, planting flags... the whole 9 yards. To this day, if it is on FX or TNT on a Saturday or Sunday, I'll probably sit down and watch it. It's also got a pretty great cast - Jason Isaacs, Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, and a very young Tom Hardy. It's a good modern war story - loosely based on real events and people. VERY loosely.

Blade Runner: 2049 - 2017
While I am, and will forever be, a HUGE fan of the original Blade Runner - when I saw 2049 I was so amazed at what I had just watched that it replaced the original in my mind. This film has become my go-to standard for what a science fiction movie should be. The world building from the original carried over so well into the sequel that you would think there wouldn't be room to add more - you'd be wrong. Every second of the film is more of the world we came to know and love from 1982's classic - complete with a cameo by Edward James Olmos! Ryan Gossling's Officer K is damn near perfect. He's told time and again that he's just a machine, and a soulless one at that, but then he comes to think, to KNOW, that he was born and that he's special. He finally has a place in this world... and then it all comes crashing down around him. 
Harrison Ford returns as Rick Deckard and he, as always, is great... as is the rest of the cast. Dave Bautista's portrayal of the giant Sapper Morton who "allows himself" to be beaten by K shows amazing range for the big man we all know and love from Guardians of the Galaxy... And Sylvia Hoek's Luv is the embodiment of submissive insanity. I cannot recommend this movie enough. Visually, it is awe-inspiring. The sound, music, and tone are a slow burn that just makes this probably one of the best movies I've seen in decades. 

Casablanca - 1942
So - I grew up with a poster of this movie hanging in my parents' bedroom. It was my mom and dad's favorite movie. So - naturally - I have seen it over 2 dozen times. And I love it. Truly. Humphrey's portrayal of Rick Blaine and Ingrid Bergman's Ilsa Lund are the perfect tragic love story. It's a classic film that I am pretty sure everyone has misquoted at least once in their life... and it will forever be one of my favorites.

Children of Men - 2006
What a bleak and depressing movie... but, oh! What a wonderfully made, acted, and shot movie! The world is pretty bleak as it is these days... but this alternate future is considerably worse I think. I'm a huge fan of post-apocalyptic stories and books - but this is a story about the world slowly falling INTO the apocalypse. People aren't having children, they're fighting in the streets... everyone seems pretty damned depressed. Luckily we can all just order our "I want to end it now" pills and be done with it. I've never loved such a depressing, dark film as much as I have this one. The Road is close - but that one kind of makes me want to hurt myself. Clive Owen does a very admirable job at being the guy doing the thing he wasn't meant to do. And in the end - we're not really sure of his fate. It's remarkably depressing and uplifting all at once... and every second of the film is filmed in such a way that it's entirely plausible... let's not bring current politics into this... See this film if you haven't already. 

The Last of the Mohicans - 1992
I was 14 when my parents took me to see this... my mom was expecting some sort of love story set against the backdrop of frontier living... Well, she was partially right. I think she about walked out when Wes Studi's Magua held the heart over his head still dripping with blood.
What a great movie. Action, drama, war, love, hate, sacrifice... the list goes on. This is probably the #1 most watched movie in my collection... well, pre-marriage that is. Full disclosure: My wife does not like this movie. I still love her... but slightly less.
Daniel Day Lewis is a phenomenal actor. I have yet to see him in a roll and said "meh." He nails every roll he does - including Nathaniel from this movie - check him out in Gangs of New York as well! I'm not a HUGE fan of Gangs of New York, but he is awesome in it nevertheless.
The Last Of The Mohicans is based on the book by James Fenimore Cooper... and I am one of those people who do not really like Cooper's style of writing. I couldn't finish the book. But I can watch the film version on repeat for days and not get bored. It also boasts one of the greatest soundtracks ever made...

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind - 1985
Nausicaa has and always will be a big part of my life... and surprisingly the only animated film on my list.
It has been my favorite movie since I was like 6 years old (under the name "Warriors of the wind"). As a 6 year old I LOVED it and I watched it on repeat until I wore out the VHS. I now watch it on a semi-regular basis with my children.
What's not to love? She's a badass who is trying to do good for her people, flying through the skies on a glider, saving the world, being a good leader and role model... It's also the movie that got me into anime and manga at a young age - and we still have weekly anime nights at our house. Our kids LOVE watching the Ghibli movies and Nausicaa especially - which makes me very happy.
The DVD (when it came out in the early 2000s) is what led me to meet my (now) wife. After sharing our love of anime on LiveJournal (what? didn't everyone have a LiveJournal in 2005??)... I gave her Nausicaa and she gave me Cowboy Bebop: The Movie. Of all the movies I've seen and books I've read - this is the one that means the most to me.

South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut -1999
It's full of swearing, fart jokes, and irreverent social commentary. What's not to love? Trey Parker and Matt Stone perfectly captured the absurdity of today's society in this film. On top of that - they made it a musical number with ridiculously amazing songs. Blame Canada! What Would Brian Boitano Do? And, of course, the musical number by Satan where he sings about wanting to be up there where the skies are blue.
South Park is one of the best examples of social commentary that people will scoff at and claim it's just garbage - but it's not. It's amazing. Although - you should probably avoid it if you're offended by sex jokes and innuendo.

Super Troopers - 2001
The comedy goldmine of this movie sets it way above the others. When I first saw previews for this - I thought it would be awful... I am glad to say I was very much wrong. Convinced to watch it by my friend, Tim, when I came home from Iraq is 2004, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I laughed at it. Sure there are some absurd things and raunchy jokes... but it is such an enjoyable movie that I couldn't help but love it. Here we are 17 years later and I still break it out from time to time to laugh myself out of a potentially bad mood or funk.
Broken Lizard hit a home run with Super Troopers... especially with Brian Cox as O'Hagan... he's comedic gold.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - 1990
I was an avid fan of the cartoon...  with boxes of TMNT toys littering my parents' house leading up to this movie... I vividly remember my first viewing of this with my mom and dad at the Lowe's Cherry Tree Theater - which no longer exists... And then another 4 or 5 viewings with my brothers, friends, and probably my parents again. To this day - I don't know of many live action adaptations that can hold a candle to this one. I've seen it dozens of times, I can quote it from memory... it's a good show as an adult and it's good for kids. It's a perfect "Family Action" movie. It will forever hold a place in my top movies. It has a good story, great costumes, quality ninja fighting, and the teenage antics we all know and love from the cartoons... and it is 100% better than the crap-fest that came out in 2014... Jesus, what a nightmare that was. 

SO - there you have it. My non-scientific list of my 10 favorite movies. You know me THAT much better now. 


Honorable Mentions:
Movies that I also LOVE but couldn't fit into my top 10... 

Krull - 1983
Arthurian tale in space... it's sci-fi AND fantasy!

Speed Racer - 2008
This movie should, in theory, be on the main list... It's such an underrated movie. Fantastic use of colors, CGI, humor... I had really hoped the Wachowskis had been the ones to make Ready Player One into a movie and bring this level of awesome.  

Tranformers: The Movie - 1986
The first cartoon movie to use the word "damnit"... Not to mention songs by Weird Al. 

The Kingdom - 2007
FBI agents in Saudi Arabia trying to solve the terrorist murder of their friends and colleagues. Jaime Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Ali Suliman... Such an intense, good movie. 

Kingdom of Heaven - 2005
The only role I've ever like Orlando Bloom in. I don't know why... but the rest of his movies just made me go "oh, it's Orlando Bloom." I really enjoyed Kingdom of Heaven and not just because of my Near Eastern Language and Cultures studies. It's a little heavy-handed, but sill good. 

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