New Lists: Best Golden Age Movie Musicals and Best TV since 2000

Posted on August 5, 2018 at 8:00 am

Lists are designed to start arguments, not resolve them, but it is always fun to see what other people think as long as you don’t take it too seriously.

Vulture has a list of the best Golden Age movie musicals.  Without making any comment on whether this list is definitive, I’ll just say that every one of them is well worth seeing.

The Ringer has a list of the best 100 television episodes of the century (so far).  As you might predict, “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “The Americans,” and other high prestige dramas, but it was fun to see great choices from “Project Runway,” “Barefoot Contessa,” “The Bachelor,” and the one that would probably top my list, the one with the twist in “The Good Place.”

Copyright 2017 Fremulon

 

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What Was Your All-Time Best Movie-Going Experience?

Posted on July 2, 2018 at 9:00 pm

Scott Derrickson asked people on Twitter to respond with their best movie-going experiences and the results are a lot of fun to read. Some are just the pleasure of discovering a great movie or a movie that feels great because it spoke to them in a personal way or at just the right moment. Many others are about sharing a movie with just the right person.  The movies named include “Raising Arizona,” “The Sound of Music,” “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” “Harold and Maude,” “Gravity,” “The Blair Witch Project,” and “Interstellar.”

Here’s mine:

Walking out of the two day bar exam after law school into the bright sunlight and going to a theater a block away to see the first Star Wars movie. Liking it so much we sat through it twice. Also: a night of Laurel & Hardy, WC Fields, Keaton, Lloyd at a time I needed to laugh.

Needless to say, I was not the only one who mentioned Star Wars.

While you’re on Twitter, check out this @TCM thread with people posting their favorite movies set in their home states for TCM’s 50 Movies 50 States series.

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Movies for the 4th of July

Posted on July 1, 2018 at 6:18 pm

Independence Day Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Jeff Goldblum star in one of the all-time great popcorn pleasures. Aliens attack the earth and it takes a quirky engineer, a plucky President, and a heroic military pilot to save the day. What does that have to do with the 4th of July? Listen to the President’s stirring pep talk.

The Patriot There are many films about the Civil War, but not many about the Revolutionary War. Mel Gibson stars in this uneven but stirring film about a farmer pulled into the rebellion.

1776 I love this film, based on the Broadway musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with almost all of the stars from the acclaimed stage production, including William Daniels as the “obnoxious and disliked” John Adams, Ken Howard as a dashing Thomas Jefferson, and Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin.

And don’t forget Schoolhouse Rock!

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Rita Hayworth, Part 2: Ticklish Business Podcast with Kristen Lopez

Posted on July 1, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Many thanks again to Kristen Lopez for inviting me on her Ticklish Business podcast to talk about Rita Hayworth. Listen to part 2, our conversation about the movie with the worst Irish accent, the worst Hayworth haircut, but the best fun-house mirror denouement, The Lady from Shanghai, directed by and co-starring Hayworth’s then husband, Orson Welles.

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Free for Father’s Day Weekend: My Ebook on the Best Movie Fathers

Posted on June 15, 2018 at 8:00 am

In honor of Father’s Day, my eBook, 50 Must-See Movies: Fathers is FREE through Father’s Day, this weekend, June 15-18, 2018.

50 must-see fathers smallWhat do “Wall Street” and the “Star Wars” saga and, seemingly, about half the movies ever made have in common? They are about fathers. In “Wall Street,” Charlie Sheen plays the ambitious Bud, who respects the integrity of his blue-collar father, played by his real-life father, Martin Sheen. But Bud is dazzled by the money and power and energy of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). The movie will up the ante with Bud’s father’s heart attack as we see him struggle between the examples and guidance of these two male role models.

In “Star Wars,” Luke (Mark Hamill) does not know until halfway through the original trilogy that (spoiler alert) the evil Darth Vader is his father. He was raised by his aunt and uncle, who are killed very early in the first film, but the father figures who are most meaningful in his life are the Jedi masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Like Bud in “Wall Street,” Luke must choose between the good and bad father figures. Like Luke, Harry Potter is raised by an aunt and uncle, but he finds a true father figure later. For Harry, it is headmaster Albus Dumbledore. In opposition is He Who Must Not Be Named. Like Luke, Harry has the opportunity for great power on the dark side, but he lives up to the example set for him by Dumbledore.

The first stories ever recorded are about fathers. The central human struggle to reconcile the need for a father’s approval and the need to out-do him is reflected in the “hero of a thousand faces” myths that occur in every culture. In Greek mythology, Zeus is the son of a god who swallowed his children to prevent them from besting him. Zeus, hidden by his mother, grows up to defeat his father and become the king of the gods. Ancient Greece also produced the story of Oedipus, who killed his father and married his mother, and The Odyssey, whose narrator tells us “it is a wise man who knows his own father.”

These themes continue to be reflected in contemporary storytelling, including films that explore every aspect of the relationship between fathers and their children. There are kind, understanding fathers whose guidance and example is foundation for the way their children see the world. There are cruel, withholding fathers who leave scars and pain that their children spend the rest of their lives trying to heal. There are movies that reflect the off-screen real-life father-child relationships. Martin Sheen not only played his son’s father in “Wall Street;” he played the father of his other son, Emilio Estevez, in “The Way,” which was written and directed by Estevez, and which is about a father’s loss of his son. Will Smith has appeared with his son Jaden in “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “After Earth.” John Mills appeared with his daughter Hayley in “Tiger Bay,” “The Truth About Spring,” and “The Chalk Garden.” Ryan and Tatum O’Neill memorably appeared together in “Paper Moon.” Jane Fonda produced and starred in “On Golden Pond” and cast her father Henry as the estranged father of her character. Jon Voight played the father of his real-life daughter Angelina Jolie in “Tomb Raider.” And Mario Van Peebles, whose father cast him as the younger version of the character he played in “Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song” made a movie about the making of that film when he grew up. It is called “Badasssss!” In the role of Melvin Van Peebles he cast himself.

Director John Huston deserves some sort of “Father’s Day” award. He directed both his father and his daughter in Oscar-winning performances, Walter Huston in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and Anjelica Huston in “Prizzi’s Honor.”

Some actors known for very non-paternal roles have delivered very touching performances as fathers. Edward G. Robinson is best remembered for playing tough guys, but in “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes” he gave a beautiful performance as a farmer who loves his daughter (Margaret O’Brien) deeply. Cary Grant, known for sophisticated romance, played loving – if often frustrated — fathers in “Houseboat” and “Room for One More.” “Batman” and “Beetlejuice” star Michael Keaton was also “Mr. Mom.” Comedian Albert Brooks is a devoted father in “Finding Nemo.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V74rUwMYHE

There are memorable movie fathers in comedies (“Austin Powers,” “A Christmas Story”) and dramas (“To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Boyz N the Hood”), in classics (“Gone With the Wind”), documentaries (“Chimpanzee,” “The Other F Word”), and animation (“The Lion King,” “The Incredibles”). There are great fathers (“Andy Hardy”) and terrible fathers (“The Shining”). There are fathers who take care of us (“John Q”) and fathers we have to take care of (“I Never Sang for My Father”). All of them are ways to try to understand, to reconcile, and to pay tribute to the men who, for better or worse, set our first example of how to decide who we are and what we will mean in the world.

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