A Few Movies That I Need To Watch This Year

So, one of the things on my list of things to be done in 2013 is to watch several movies that I’ve been meaning to get around to. A lot of these have slipped past me for various reasons, but I’m hoping the rectify some of this before the year is done. I’ll more than likely go back and edit this post as I remember more movies that I forgot to add.

The Big Lebowski (1998)
Before I get drug out to the streets and beaten about the head and shoulders with a bag of rusty doorknobs for skipping this classic, this was rectified a few weeks ago. Put down your pitchforks!

Dude.
Dude.

Dark City (1998)
I’ve heard from several sources that the best way to watch this is to mute the first ten or so minutes (or at least until the bathtub) as the intro gives quite a bit away. Any thoughts from those that have seen it?

Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
I’m lumping these two together since they really do go hand in hand. I borrowed a copy of each from a friend a while back and I really need to make some time to watch both of these.

Fight Club (1999)
Do not give me that look. I had this one spoiled for me many years ago, and in rather blatant fashion too. Despite that, I still understand that it’s still worthwhile and necessary viewing.

"Say, did you know that..." "SHUT THE @#$% UP!"
“Say, did you know…” “Shut the @#$% up, Spoiler McSpoilerpants!!”

The Usual Suspects (1995)
Again with the looks! True story, my dad had rented this one some years ago and I literally walked in right at the scene. I mean, I walked in RIGHT as they were putting two and two together. That unfortunately pushed Suspects down the queue a bit for me, but I still want to see it on account everyone telling me of it sheer awesomeness.

Bullitt (1968)
I’ve been told that I cannot consider myself a man until I watch this.

West Side Story (1961)
One of my coworkers has placed me on Puerto Rican Probation until I have seen this. Musicals typically aren’t my thing, but I can stomach them from time to time. Besides, I’ve been told that it’s also a great exercise in documenting one of Michael Jackson’s greatest influences in his music videos, as you can see West Side’s fingerprints in a lot of his stuff.

More to be added, I’m sure!

Heigl vs. Van Damme

I’ve had an epiphany. Katherine Heigl is the Jean-Claude Van Damme of romantic comedies.

OK, lemme explain...

Back in the 80’s, Van Damme was your go-to guy for action flicks. He was that reliable constant- in a Van Damme movie, you knew exactly what you were getting. Most of the characters JCVD played were pretty interchangeable, but you knew that you were getting spin-kicks, splits, funny accents, and at least one fight in his underwear. Seriously, Van Damme probably holds a record of some sort for the number of fight scenes done in his boxers.

Now, take Katherine Heigl. Nowadays, she’s the go-to-girl for any sort of romantic comedy. She too is that reliable constant- I’m a guy, and even I can name several off of the top of my head. And like Van Damme, you know exactly what you’re getting. In this case, it’s a quirky workaholic who serves as a balance to an oafish man of some sort, eventually maturing him.

So yeah, different genres and eras, but they each serve the same roles within their particular niche. Now, someone please tell me that I’m not crazy for thinking this.

Life Lessons from ‘Conan the Barbarian’

Most of my friends know that one of my all-time favorite movies is Conan the Barbarian. Despite this, I think I’ve probably watched the sequel Conan the Destroyer more often. It’s pretty simple, really- I’ve got to be in the right mood to watch Barbarian, while Destroyer is pretty easy to just pick up when you’re killing some time. There’s no denying that the 80’s were the best era for fantasy flicks; it’s the decade that not only brought us Conan, but Legend, Labyrinth, The Neverending Story, Beastmaster and Willow, just to name a few. Good times, good times.

So today I managed to watch Conan the Destroyer for the Lord-only-knows-how-many time, and started thinking about how many life lessons I pulled from these two movies as I was growing up. If you look beyond the obvious stuff (like that whole Crush Your Enemy, See Him Driven Before You, and Hear the Lamentations of the Women bit; sound advice if you’re a barbarian, but liable to get you arrested in this day and age), there was some pretty good advice in there for a growing youth. Let’s examine.

“Know Who You Can Trust.”
Companions that fought at Conan’s side

Throughout the movies, Conan surrounded himself with companions that had each other’s best interests in mind. Subotai, Valeria, Malick, Akiro, and Zula, all were people that had his back, and that he watched out for as well. Then there was Bombataa, captain of the Queen’s guard, and eventual thorn in the party’s side. The lesson here was to be careful of who you trust, because not everyone would have your best interests in mind.

Also, the thought of Wilt Chamberlain protecting anyone's virginity amuses me to no end.

“If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, Then It Probably Is.”
Queen Taramis offers to resurect Valeria (CtD)

As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to raise anything from the dead. This includes, but is not limited to, family, loved ones, and/or pets. Towards the beginning of Destroyer, Queen Taramis convinces Conan to help her procure an artifact that, had he asked for a full-disclosure agreement,  he would have known could potentially lead to the destruction of the entire world. Minor details, really. But of course, Taramis offers to resurrect his dead love Valeria, and it’s game on. Conan ends up wrestling a wizard, fighting countless soldiers, going toe-to-toe with Wilt Chamberlain, getting screwed over by the queen, and ultimately brawling with Andre the Giant in a rubber suit with a horn sticking out of his face.

Fine print? That's for girlie-men.

“Work Smarter, Not Harder.”
Battle on the Mounds (CtB)

After sneaking into Thulsa Doom’s pad, totally wrecking his cannibalistic orgy and stealing away the princess, it’s understandable that our villain is a little less than pleased with our band of heroes. As such, Thulsa Doom sends forth his army of twin-snakey terror to murder the everloving hell out of Conan and company. Rather than shout a defiant “CROM!” and go running headfirst into the fray, though, Conan, Subotai, and Akiro came up with a simple plan. They would stand their ground at the mounds, but not after laying out every single trap known to man for Thulsa Doom’s men. They fought intelligently, and in the end, were victorious.

The last thing one sees before entering Barbarian Hell. Because surely, there is no Barbarian Heaven.

“Never Let Your Past Dictate Your Future.”
Like, the entire first movie

Let’s face it, Conan’s prospects in life sort of went to hell within the first 20 minutes of the first movie, with the whole being-sold-into-slavery-after-the-freaky-snake-dude-slays-my-entire-village-and-beheads-my-mother business. But despite this, Conan goes from orphan to slave, from slave to gladiator, gladiator to thief, and eventually from thief to king (but that, as they say, is another story). Not too shabby.

Crom Approves.

Everything’s got a lesson. You’ve just got to pay attention!

Believing the Unbelievable

One of the things I like to do on my days off from work is to pop in a movie that I haven’t watched in a while and have it going in the background as I go about chores, taking care of the little one, and making sure that the dogs don’t burn down the house. Past weeks have included cinematic gems such as Atlantis, Big Trouble in Little China (THE greatest b-movie ever made!), and Demolition Man– I’m all kinds of high-brow, yo. Anywho, as I was browsing my movie collection recently, I came across two movies that I’ve come to appreciate quite a bit, and that I find myself rewatching from time to time- The Fifth Element, and The Chronicles of Riddick.

Hey, stay with me. I see you trying to press the ‘Back’ button.

Now on the surface, you’d probably think that it’s because both are sci-fi flicks right up my geeky alley. Yeah, maybe that’s part of it, but the thing I’ve always liked about both movies has been the way each one managed to craft a living, breathing and believable (at least in the realm of science fiction) world. That goes a long way in anything that’s got some sort of fantastical setting. I’ve seen too many movies that, regardless of the circumstances, never felt real. Take Dungeons & Dragons, for example. On paper, that should have been an easy movie to nail. I couldn’t begin to tell you how much lore and history that they could have pulled from to make a movie work. Despite all of this, D&D really just felt like a bunch of dudes hanging around the local Renn Fest. I enjoyed it for what it was, but it never really drew me in.

Of course there are a boatload of other problems to consider with D&D, including (but not limited to) a wonky script, little attention paid to the source material (guards using Beholders as sentries? Riiiight…), and Marlon Waynes screaming like a freshly-snipped eunuch. But I digress.

Anywho, Chronicles of Riddick had some source material to pull from, that of course being Pitch Black. But those movies were two totally different beasts all together. Despite this, the world crafted in Chronicles felt very much like a part of the mythos of Pitch Black. Now I admit I’m not totally a fan of the whole Necromonger thing, but the world at least felt real. Same thing goes for The Fifth Element. It really was about the little things, and after watching the movie you could notice fashion trends of the future, as well as futuristic pop culture. Things that seem familiar to us today, but at the same time are so out there that and unique that it totally fits into the setting. I mean, everyone thinks that Ruby Rhod was totally out there as a character. But isn’t he just a futuristic version of Lady Gaga? I’m just sayin’ =)

Alright, bedtime.