Great films create memorable characters and interesting worlds of their own. I chose the twenty films ‘worlds’ that I enjoy visiting again and again. The order is somewhat haphazard, but I included twenty films worth exploring. There are many more. These films have made an impact on me, on the movies and the people who watch them. That’s My Entertainment? What’s yours?
1. The Godfather 1972
The original is one of the finest films I’ve ever seen. The sequel is almost as good. It has left a lasting impression on me, and helped me admire the power of film. A compelling story with beautiful cinematography, the Godfather takes us to a world that is as much about family as it is about crime. A young man who wanted nothing to do with the family business, and loses his soul in the process.
2. Marty 1955
Ernest Borgnine stars in this black and white study of a lonely butcher in search of love. Borgnine gives the performance of a lifetime in this classic. You may not know this film, you may never see it on a 10 greatest list, but it is very, very, good.
3. E.T. 1982
Spielberg bares his a little of himself as he tells a story of the Extra Terrestrial that just wants to go home. Deep, spiritual themes run throughout the film.
4. Psycho 1960
There are a lot of scary movies, but very few can touch the madness of Psycho. The shower scene still makes people prefer the bathtub!
5. The Wizard of Oz 1939
This color masterpiece didn’t become a true classic until it was released on TV. Judy Garland will always be remembered for Oz, a place “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
6. Goodfellas 1990
Everyone at the top of their game when this was made. Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta’s performances made this one of Scorsese’s greatest films.
7. The Great Dictator 1941
Probably Charlie Chaplin’s most personal film. Timely today as it was in 1941. His marvelous speech rejecting power and violence still resonates with audiences today.
8. The Shawshank Redemption 1994
This sleeper film hit audiences where they live: justice and freedom. Two great actors, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, carry this story from the prison depths to the hope of redemption and freedom. It also made Morgan Freeman the go-to-guy for movie narration.
9. A River Runs Through It 1992
Every film and story asks, ‘What is the world like?’ In River, the world is both incredibly beautiful and sadly disappointing. A young Brad Pitt is tremendous as the brother who could have it all, but he just can’t hold on to it. A supporting cast includes Tom Skerritt and Craig Sheffer.
10. Schindler’s List 1993
Some movies remind us of the power of film, and Schindler’s List is one of them. In this story, based on World War II and the Holocaust, Oskar Schindler tries to find some meaning and redemption with the lives he holds in his hands. Spielberg and the film became symbols of Shoah, and the reason to keep these stories alive.
11. Casablanca 1944
Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in what was considered a B film at best. Still, the crisp writing, directing and acting makes it one of the most beloved films of all time.
12. Lawrence of Arabia 1962
Yes, it’s a very long film, but it is one of the most beautifully photographed films of all time. It’s hard to take your eyes off the performance of Peter O’Toole as Lawrence. Omar Sharif is equally magnificent. Greatness or madness? Yes.
13. West Side Story 1961
What can I say? It’s one of my favorite musicals, and I could watch it any time. Yes, I know, Natalie Wood is not Puerto Rican, but she is Maria.
14. The Bridge on the River Kwai 1956
This is the movie that Alec Guinness should be remembered for. Yes, another prison movie, but also a film of triumph and failure, dignity and humiliation. Best line: “Oh my God, what have I done?” What indeed.
15. Titanic 1997
James Cameron’s enormous film tells a compelling story, even if we know the ending. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are perfectly cast.
16. Patton 1970
The opening scene with the giant American flag is priceless. George C. Scott is Patton. World War II was his destiny. Karl Malden his conscience.
17. Jaws 1975
The shark didn’t work when they wanted it to, and so they went on to create one of the first true blockbusters. Spielberg again, I know, and someday I’ll create a list of greatest films, just his.
18. The Apartment 1955
This Billy Wilder film was billed as a comedy, but the laugh is on the studio. Jack Lemon and Shirley MacLaine battle for right and wrong and every where in between when it comes to men and women. Fred MacMurray was an inspired choice for the womanizing boss.
19. Fargo 1996
I loved Fargo and I love it still because it is so quirky, thanks to William H. Macey and Frances McDormand. I think it gave other filmmakers permission to try new things.
20. Pulp Fiction 1994
Quentin Tarantino takes us on quite a ride with Pulp Fiction. John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis all give strong performances. You may get to the end of the film and say, “Huh?” But, you might just say, “Let’s watch it again.
And that’s what all great films make you want to do!
Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy
Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.
The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.
I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.
Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?
Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!
Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.
So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.
The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.
Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.
First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.
Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.
Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.
Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.
To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!