Monthly Archives: February 2016

“Where about you from?”

There are movies that make you say, “Who’s that?”

You look them up on the back of a movie case in a rental store and attempt to find every movie that they have made prior and all of those movies that will follow.

That movie for me was “Glory.”

That person was Denzel.

Denzel

I was unprepared for the pure power and emotion of the performance he put forth.  He came from out of nowhere for me and he seemed like a seasoned movie star that stole every scene he was in, leaving all of us to wish that he was in every frame.

It was the first movie I’d seen him in and I later rented “The Mighty Quinn.” He was in every frame of that great thriller and the film love affair began.

Thank God for “Glory.”

Not only was it my intro to Denzel, it had Ferris Bueller and Westley in it too.  It was unlike any other movie I’d seen about war.  The first battle doesn’t even take place until well over an hour into the movie.  It had a very “All Quiet on the Western Front” feel to it.  It was about the soldiers “boots” on the ground versus the two sided perspectives you’d see in a war.  The confederate soldiers were ominous, almost ghost-like when they appear out of the smoke and fog during the first battle.  It is one of the most eerie scenes depicted in a war movie that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.  The confederates don’t really have faces or perspectives for us to draw from.  Their purpose is opposition and nothing more.

Labeling “Glory” as a Civil War drama is misguided.  It is that, but it is also a story about brotherhood on a very interesting and dysfunctional level.  Part of the journey we take with this story is watching the growth of a unit of men by the films end.

When I think of the movie–outside of it being my thankful introduction to Denzel–I remember the unexpected, deep true power I felt of those last few frames of the soldiers being bundled together in the ground.

Much like there are moments of struggle and choices that we learn from in life, in the end we have the people that stick through it with us in the toughest of times.

Yes, friends fight; and if they can see it through, they become best friends or the brothers that we get to choose.  We all have mentors that teach us.  Some of them become the fathers that we have always wanted to respect and love.

——

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“Someone is staring at you in ‘personal growth’.”

This next one is similar to “Roxanne” and “Splash.”

No, Daryl Hannah isn’t in it, but it is considered a comedy romance.

A pretty good comedy romance.  Some people’d say great and I wouldn’t disagree with them.

Personally, it’s not a “go to” genre for me.  Most guys that I know don’t have that as their favorite genre either, but I do like a well written, witty, comedy romance, and this one delivers.

At that stage in my life, a lot of the comedy romance movies that I’d seen and enjoyed had one of two things–slapstick/screwball (“Roxanne,” “Bringing up Baby“) or goofy fantasy (“Splash“).

This one was different.  It was mostly dialogue between two people at a time (sometimes 3 or 4 people at most).  I found that I really had to pay attention to what people were saying to each other in order to gain an interest and an understanding of the story that the writers were trying to tell.  There was little movement or action unless people were walking and talking.

It was unlike any type of movie that I was used to or had viewed, yet I found myself surprisingly captivated.

I remember watching it with my mom and sister for the first time and I began understanding what “adult” humor was:  wit, sarcasm, timing, and circumstance.  It was the first time I started laughing at the same time they laughed instead of just laughing because they laughed, like I had learned to do when I was seven or eight.  I actually understood the jokes and found it funny like they did.

In those other comedies I was learning when to laugh.  By the time I had seen this one, I was ready to laugh.

And laugh I did when I watched “When Harry Met Sally” for the first time.

harry sally

I found that as I watched it, my mom and sister enjoyed Sally’s point of view and I was of course fond of Harry’s cynicism (take in mind I didn’t know what cynicism was at that time but I was learning quickly that I enjoyed his “mood.”)

Sally was cute and annoying (it takes her 5 minutes to order lunch and she is an unapologetic optimist).  Harry was short, goofy looking, and didn’t like anyone or anything.  Perfect matches right?

Looking back, I should’ve known better (SPOILER-of course they will end up together-IT’S A COMEDY ROMANCE!!!).  Again, this was one of the first CRs that I’d actually sat through and I wasn’t jaded at this point with all of the formulaic CRs to follow.  I think that is why I enjoyed it so much.  I view it as my first true Rom-Com and I was young enough for it to be a surprise for me as the story and conflict developed.

I’m stretching a grin across my face as I write this, remembering how naive I was when Harry trudges over to Sally on New Year’s Eve and berates her at the party like he wants to start another war and then it turns into one of the greatest “I love you speeches” ever written.  I seriously remember thinking, “Oh yeah, so they are going to get together.  Huh…look at that.”

This might be the Comedy Romance that ruined the genre for me, actually, because it is the one that I compare the rest to and you can never have a surprise after you have seen your first formula Rom-Com.

Apologies to anyone that has read this before seeing it.  I know that I haven’t been my usual cryptic self while writing about a movie I enjoyed, but it was exciting for me to finally give something away.

Almost as exciting as watching a well written Comedy Romance for the first–as a naive youth–time.

——

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“The only word that comes to mind is harmony.”

So, in March of 1990 I was still 12.  In July I turned 13.  By the fall I moved from 7th grade to 8th grade.

My favorite movie to that point was still “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

By the spring of 1991 in March, the sequel “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze” was out and it was totally on my radar.

On the last weekend in March, my family and I were all together shopping in the big city Idaho Falls, Idaho…it was huge to us…(grew up in a town of 10,000 okay?)  It was very rare for all five of us to spend a weekend together and we decided after we were done shopping to go to a movie.

Of course my goal was to convince everyone to go see Ninja Turtles 2.  I mean, what other movie could anyone want to possibly see; am I right? Right?

Yeah, my sister had other plans…and at the time, I was not happy to hear them.

“Come on,” I shouted.  “You never let me choose.  I know you guys think it’s stupid, but they’re good movies.”

Yes, that was as good an impression of a salesman that I could provide at that stage in my life.

Long story short, epic fail.

So there was this other movie that was fresh off a huge success at the Oscars, 7 in total including Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay; that Sunday before.  My sister had already seen it, loved it, and wanted to go again and get our take on it.

“I promise you, even as mad as you are at me right now, you will love this movie.”

She was serious.

I didn’t think she knew how mad I could get at someone.  I thought she was crazy.  She used the word “love.”  That word intrigued me and I was impressed with her hubris so I caved (to be honest, it was a 3-2 vote and my little brother and I were SOL but that is beside the point).

So all of us went to “Dances with Wolves” together and my sister was not wrong.  By the end of the movie I felt like she undersold it.

I had never seen anything like it and it was a HUGE impact on my taste and what I thought was a “good” movie after that.

As soon as we entered into a Civil War medical tent of bloody bodies (and I mean BLOODY bodies) lying on a table with faceless people hovering over them, talking as if they are not there or even human at that point–I was hooked.

sisco

This is a movie in which a horse should’ve probably gotten an honorary supporting actor nod.  There has never been a more memorable and magnificent animal shot on film–no pun intended for those of you that know why that’s a pun in the first place…mom is not going to appreciate that last bit.

anyways…

The picture captured me with gore and bravado and it held my focus with it’s intelligent and subtle humor, even in scenes that should not be humorous; in particular when Dunbar takes the time in the middle of a battle to scold Stone Calf for using the gun as a an ax instead of shooting it at the enemy.

Along with beautiful animals, there are beautiful landscapes, a very simple love story that avoids a lot of cliches, and a man that eventually learns to find his true self among people that he would’ve never thought could accept him.

prairie

I cared about the characters–everyone one of them-including the wolf and the horse, and the tragedy that occurs within the story had a very real feel to it like when your cousin punches you perfectly in the middle of your chest and you have the wind knocked out of you for a short period of time (we were boys, we used to do that to each other for fun–“okay, your turn dude…”).

Thankfully, not many heroes die, but we are left with a sense of “no good can come of this”…and I loved that damn movie.

I left in tears, and when my sister put her arm around me as we walked out of the theater and asked me, “Was I right?”

I cried even harder into her shoulder nodding and saying, “Yes.”

The score by John Barry is one of my favorites.  It’s my sister’s ringtone to this day.  Every time she texts me, I’m reminded of this moment when she taught me the difference between a movie and a GREAT movie.

——

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“Hey, Bogey… who died and made you referee?”

This next movie has to be mentioned.  Even if only for the purpose of an interesting crossroads that I will explain in a future post.

This is the second movie that I got to go to on opening night that my parents dropped me off at in the theater and left me to go with every other kid in my junior high…and I’m talking every other kid in my class was there.

I was 12.

The last time that I got to go to the theater without my parents was in 1985 when “The Goonies” premiered and I went with my friends that were a few years older than me at the time.  They were more like older brothers watching out for me as opposed to being equals.

I was on equal ground with everyone at this movie.

I remember feeling somewhat alone.

In the “Goonies situation,” a group of us decided to go together to a movie I had not heard of, but my peers were excited to see it, so I became excited.

In this situation, I wanted to go by myself, not knowing that everyone in my class had the same inkling.  Looking back, I probably should’ve known better, but all I was thinking was that I wanted to go.

I had a strange sense of longing, yet I noticed that a lot of people trickling in were people I went to school with; making it feel like I was attending class in a weird way.  I felt odd excitement and I had a little bit of adrenaline flowing through me as I was in a situation that was foreign.  When I got excited, I didn’t stop talking.  I said hello to everyone that I knew and I moved from one person to the next so quickly that they rarely had a chance to respond to my initial greeting.

Every seat in the theater was filled, and it was thrilling to experience a movie with that large of a crowd that were my peers.

We all laughed together at the same jokes.  We were all sitting in awe when the heroes were in peril.  I like to believe that we all had a sense of relief at the climax of the film as well.

Before we’re jaded, we like to be right alongside the heroes following them through their conflict.  I need to believe this.

I know…I’m neglecting to give away the title.  I don’t know why it is so embarrassing.  I was 12!

It was “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” okay!

Yes, there was a period in my life when I was excited to see silly movies.

Yes, I couldn’t stop talking about it with all of my friends at school when we watched it together.

Yes, we recited the movie line-for-line multiple times throughout a given day.

Yes, we acted out scenes from the movie on the playground at recess.

Yes, Michelangelo was my favorite turtle.

Yes, I went to the movie in the theater more than once (wasting good allowance money).

Yes, I tried to talk everyone that I knew into going to the theater with me (including adults), because it was the greatest movie I had ever seen!

I feel your judgement.

I get it…

Experiencing a movie like that with so many of my classmates on opening night added to the enjoyment of the movie.  If I had decided to go to that movie for the first time on a weeknight when there might have been 10-15 people there, I probably wouldn’t have liked it as much.

I learned that the atmosphere of the people around you can affect the movie experience for you.  We always remember the jackhole who can’t shut up during the movie.

Think back.

Do you subconsciously hold a grudge against that movie because of that jerk?

Something to ponder…

At the end of the day, I feel we all have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle phase in our life, and that is okay.

I’m jaded now and would never get caught attending a TMNT movie by myself…

*Pish posh*

…but…

I do have a 3 year old that might give me a great reason to experience my youth again when we watch it together some day.

That’ll be worth more than a million bucks.

——

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