Monday, September 29, 2014

Marathon of Corruption/Social Revolution

Tonight's marathon is one of the riskiest marathons thus far. All of the films in this lineup are great films and do share a similar feel of darkness, rebelliousness, and a feeling of being grand and epic in its' form of storytelling, but trying to connect the storylines all together have been tricky. We have four different movies that deal with a new social revolution: the birth of Facebook, followed by the legal wars it erupted by it's creator Mark Zuckerberg, a journalist searching for a missing person whose been gone for 40 years, aided in his search by a computer hacker whose viewed as a social outcast, and the final film deals with themes of anarchy and identity change with an insomniac worker forming an underground fight club that evolves into a form of terrorism. We have on tonight's menu:

The Social Network 2010, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011, and Fight Club 1999

Most of these are helmed by legendary director David Fincher, who also directed Alien 3, Seven, The Game, Panic Room, Zodiac, and Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Fincher is well known for making dark crime thrillers and psychological mind games. The Social Network showcases his trademark filmmaking styles such as fast cuts, heavy sophisticated dialogue, deep character depth and transitions. The film is shot like a music video, giving it a lot of style to go with it's intelligent script and powerful themes such as friendship, loyalty, greed, and betrayal. Most importantly, Social Network represents a cultural revolution. The birth of facebook had such an impact on pop culture that it revolutionized our daily lives in ways we didn't think were possible. Through the corruption that the creators of facebook endured at the hands of Mark Zuckerberg, we have all benefitted from this new kind of social lifestyle. The second entry in the marathon, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, continues the dialogue driven concept of Fincher's storytelling, except this time focuses on a journalist searching for a woman who's been missing for 40 years, aided in his search by a young socially outcast computer hacker. Fincher uses a lot of techniques from Social Network including the same composer, same music video style of cinematography, and character depth to make you feel for the characters and find them compelling. In the case of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you feel for Rooney Mara's character Lisbeth Salander when she experiences sexual abuse and corruption at the hands of her legal guardian. Her sweet vengeance on her guardian is definitely the most rewarding scene of the film, giving you a great deal of satisfaction. This is the first in what one hopes will be a fantastic trilogy of films if the filmmakers decide to remake the two Swedish sequels that came with the original film. The final film of the night brings the themes of corruption, social revolution, and identity change all together with Fight Club. It can be debated as being the finest film of Edward Norton and Brad Pitt's careers. If the Dark Knight is the 2000's dark masterpiece, then this was the 90's version of that film. Themes of anarchy and revolution run rampant here.

It may seem that all of these movies, while brilliant, may not come off as being comparable immediately, but when you think about the themes of the films, they do work together or compliment the other film nicely.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Monster Night

Tonight's marathon is paying homage to the iconic monsters that have frightened us within the last 40 years in film history. Whether it's a killer shark, an alien monster that escapes from a train, a giant dragon-like lizard roaming San Francisco, or a monster destroying San Francisco shown by the POV of those who are experiencing it. TONIGHT..IS MONSTER NIGHT. We have the classics on tonight's menu:

                            Jaws 1975, Super 8 2011, Godzilla 2014, and Cloverfield 2008

Tonight's marathon is all about destruction and chaos. We begin with a Shark roaming free in the beaches of Amity, being pursed by a police chief, a drunken fisherman, and a marine scientist in the quest to stop him from leaving a trail of bodies on the beaches. This is the perfect opening to the marathon because it starts off with a small monster that's still terrifying and threatening. Jaws was not just the film that began the tradition of the summer blockbuster in 1975, but also the film that launched Steven Spielberg's career as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. The next film, Super 8, continues the monster trend with an even more powerful creature emerging from the ruins of a train wreck in the summer 1979. This time we witness the workings of an alien monster in a small town through the POV of a group of kids with aspirations to be young filmmakers. Super 8 is a brilliant film that pays homage to the early days of Steven Spielberg, combining his talent with that of the incredibly talented JJ Abrams. The third film, Cloverfield, focuses on the destruction of New York by an undisclosed monster being witnessed by a small group of people with handheld cameras. This is the perfect prelude to the biggest film of the night that's finally been handled properly for American audiences after the failed 1998 attempt handled by Roland Emmerich. While that film can be viewed as an entertaining lizard movie, it doesn't quite capture the imagination of the Japanese version of the great monster. That problem has been completely rectified with the 2014 American version which puts our great anti hero monster creating mass destruction and chaos on the streets of San Francisco. Visually this film is stunning as well as exciting. It's only major flaw is that it places heavy emphasis on the human characters, leaving Godzilla with little screen time. This is a flaw that the inevitable sequels will no doubt fix over time. Let tonight be a tribute to all the great monster films that have terrified us over the last four decades.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Disaster Night

Tonight's marathon deals with the issue of global warming beginning with the critically acclaimed documentary called An Inconvenient Truth, in which Al Gore warns people about the dangers of global warming, followed by the birth of an enormous storm in The Perfect Storm, a Tsunami in The Impossible, and finally Global Warming itself in The Day After Tomorrow. This marathon is staged to represent the birth of global warming through several major forms of storms getting stronger with each movie. We have on our menu for this evening:

An Inconvenient Truth 2006, The Perfect Storm 2000, The Impossible 2012, and The Day After Tomorrow 2004

Not only do the storms build up with each movie, but the dangers of them increase, putting the characters we grow to care about in each movie further at stake. What An Inconvenient Truth does so well is it informs the audience about the rise of global warming, but also making audiences care. You care not just for what Al Gore's saying but also see the frustration in his inability to get people to see the reality in his presentations. An Inconvenient Truth is about the foreshadowing of global warming, the event that's going to change the world for better or worse. The Perfect Storm is the beginning of the actual storm becoming a reality with the Halloween storm of 1991. In this storm, six fisherman are caught in the fight of their life against mother nature. Three hurricanes combine to form one of the greatest storms in recorded history. Their struggle to survive one of nature's most horrifying disasters is one for the books. George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg together make you root for them when battling the storm. The Impossible makes you care about the family caught in the wake of a Tsunami.. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor give powerful performances. The Impossible not only is a gripping human drama about survival, but has one of the most moving scores of all time. The final film in the marathon The Day After Tomorrow, brings the marathon full circle by making Al Gore's prediction of Global Warming come true.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Buddy Cop night.

Tonight's marathon is more than just a marathon. It's an event. This one is about the teaming up of two different cultures and classes of people in the realm of law enforcement to hunt down and stop some vicious drug dealers, kidnappers, terrorists, and counterfitters. This marathon pairs Caucasian along with African American as well as Chinese, but also tackles on cultural issues such as race and wanting to be appreciated and make a difference. We have on this evenings menu:

Lethal Weapon 1987, Rush Hour 1998, Die Hard with a Vengeance 1995, and Lethal Weapon 4

Lethal Weapon emerged from the late 1980s, a decade in which action movies were allowed to roam free without compromise or restrictions, while also building on formulas that have become relevant in today's society. Lethal Weapon pairs up two up and coming actors at the time named Mel Gibson, fresh off The Bounty, The River, and the first two Mad Max films, and Danny Glover from The Color Purple, Silverado, and Witness. 1985 was a major breakout year for Danny, and Lethal Weapon transformed him into a action star as well as Gibson. Directed by Richard Donner who just finished helming The Goonies at the time, he crafts a brilliant and iconic action comedy about Glovers character Murtaugh, celebrating his 50th birthday, and as a present, he's paired up with a new partner whose been registered as a Lethal Weapon. What starts out as an unwanted partnership becomes a bond between the two men that runs thicker than blood. Through each other, they are able to team up and take down a powerful drug ring and form a partnership that becomes a rather silly reckoning for criminals. Lethal Weapon is not just a great movie but has great dramatic moments instilled in the film such as Gibson's struggle with suicide over the death of his wife in a car crash, and the epic fight in the front yard of Danny Glovers home. It is essentially a movie about a man finding the will to live again with by being partners with a senior officer. Rush Hour continues the buddy cop theme of the marathon, though this time pairing up African American with an officer from Hong Kong. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan's team up is even more ridiculous than what Lethal Weapon unleashed, as the two must put aside their differences with each other culturally and solve the case of a kidnapped 11 year old Chinese girl of a Hong Kong ambassador. Rush Hour is hands down the best film of it's series because it keeps the plot simple and realistic, but also allowing it to have tons of fun in the process. The third film in the marathon titled Die Hard with a Vengeance pairs Bruce Willis character John McClane with a racist African American electrician from Harlem named Zeus, played by Samuel Jackson. The twist here is the humor stems from the fact that Zeus hates anyone whose white, and turns every situation into a race issue, even though the evil terrorist named Simon played by Jeremy Irons, targets many sectors of New York without any limitations regarding skin color.. He goes as far as to target a shopping store, a public train, a school in New York, and a Cargo ship in a form of anarchy to hide his own hidden agenda of stealing the gold from the Federal Reserve bank. Of all the Die Hard installments this film hands down is the most effective in terms of handling the buddy cop element of the story, with the first film being right behind it. Lethal Weapon 4 not only is the perfect ending to the Lethal Weapon series, but it gives the marathon and the characters of Riggs and Murtaugh proper closure. They've reached a point where both men realize that they have finally become too old for this shit, and need to accept it and move on. Not only do they become captains in this film, but they also become fathers and grandfathers to their respective wives and daughters. Lethal Weapon 4 also takes the action to newer heights with the legendary Jet Li in his first American role as a villain, demonstrating his quick fighting skills and ruthless villain persona. The end fight between Riggs, Murtaugh, and Jet Li's character is one of the greatest and most brutal fight scenes in cinema history.

Buddy Cop night carries all the essential elements that make up a great action movie. Great action, great characters that you care about, tasteful humor, legit bad guys that you grow to completely hate, and satisfying endings along with carrying with them heart.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Marathon of CHANGE

Tonight's marathon is a representation of the unity that black and whites experienced in the field of sports, and also outside the field. This is a night that glorifies what's best in the human spirit, while also reflecting on a time period in history where America as a country was growing into what it is today. We follow the intense struggles of baseball player Jackie Robinson, a towns resentment and ultimate acceptance of a football team and it's African American coach, a homeless boy being raised and bred into a football star with the caring and nurture of his family, and the story of several maids struggles in their owners homes in the fight for civil rights.

42: The Jackie Robinson Story 2013, Remember the Titans 2000, The Blind Side 2010, and The Help 2011

Themes that describes tonight's marathon are change, unity between two groups of people, self discovery, strength, courage, fighting for what's right, equality, rising above all expectations, and remembering what's best in the human spirit. This trend starts with 42 with the story of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier and being the first African American player to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers after being recruited by his righteous colorblind manager played by Harrison Ford. This is easily Harrison Ford's best performance in a long time and ranks up there with his great work in The Fugitive, Air Force One, Witness, and Mosquito Coast.  He plays the role of a coach who see's potential in the young Jackie Robinson, and casts him on the team disregarding the heavy amount of opposition Robinson received. The coach Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans is about bringing together a racially integrated high school football team despite heavy opposition from the towns people. This is one of Denzel Washington's most heartfelt movies next to Cry Freedom, Philadelphia, Antwone Fisher, and John Q. While still maintaining the theme of sports, The Blind Side continues the trend of football but focuses on the triumphant true story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an all American football player and first round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her loving family. This is the film that gained Sandra Bullock her first Oscar nom and win. Her performance is touching and very inspirational, reminding audiences about why she's a great actress in the first place. The final film of the evening The Help, is not a baseball nor football themed film, but it carries with it the same type of message the first three movies conveyed about hope and change, while giving the marathon the emotional finale it deserves. The Help sheds the sports angle and focuses on an inspiring author during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, deciding to write a book detailing the African American maid's point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they endure on a daily basis. The Help was nominated for an Oscar for best picture in 2011 but lost to The Artist, but walked away with an Oscar for Octavia Spencer for best supporting actress.

Tonight is about witnessing the inspirational stories that led to change, while also making America a better and more tolerant place in the realm of civil rights.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Group of outsiders marathon

Tonight's marathon deals with a group of outsider kids going on insane adventures, rescuing priceless items from the grasps of a big giant dog on the other side of a baseball field fence, the search for treasure, a group of rugged street kids coming together and forming a resistance during a soviet invasion, a group of young filmmakers witnessing a train crash and the unearthing of an undisclosed alien species, and finally, the rivalry between a group of rich and poor kids that ends with a powerful message. Tonight we follow these group of kids and their journeys, which not only carry with them great imagination, but also has them grow from being a group of innocent kids, into responsible young adults. Tonight's menu consists of the following classics:

The Sandlot 1994, The Goonies 1985, Red Dawn 1984, Super 8 2011, and The Outsiders 1982

What this marathon consists of is five full blown movies of five different story arcs involving five different groups of kids. The marathon begins with the formation of the group in The Sandlot though the personal journey of Scott Smalls, a nerdy kid who the group rejects at first but later befriends and are faced with a terrible dilemma of losing a baseball signed by legendary Babe Ruth to the clutches of a giant beast dog on the other side of the fence on the local baseball field. The kids have no choice in this one but to brave the wrath of the beast and get the ball back from his clutches. The Goonies, centers around a group of kids who end up following a mysterious treasure map in their quest to find pirated treasure in order to stop their houses from foreclosure. What begins as a form of innocence for the group of kids begins to take a dark turn with Red Dawn. Red Dawn puts a group of rugged street kids on the brink of World War lll, banding together to defend their town and country from the invading soviets. Red Dawn not only has iconic scenes such as the opening sequence where the Soviets invade the local school but has a great collection of teen stars from the 1980's such as Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, and C. Thomas Howell. Super 8 continues the supernatural element started by the Goonies and Sandlot where a group of kids in the summer of 1979 witness a train crash and investigate strange events occuring in their town involving the creature that emerged from the trainwreck.The final film of the marathon, The Outsiders brings it all together not only with the star studded cast including Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Diane Lane, and Rob Lowe, but it deals with everyday issues of young teen children being discriminated against because of their social status. The film deals with this issue and has a climax that defines the true meaning of friendship, and banding together when times are tough.

Themes that define this marathon are friendship, maturity, bravery, courage, imagination, remembering what matters, reflecting on one's own childhood and past, and patriotism. This marathon captures the innocence of childhood, while also showing that innocence disappearing when situations such as the ones in Red Dawn and Super 8 began to occur.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Unusual people in history marathon

Tonight's marathon is about experiencing the journeys of three highly unusual and influential men who not only grew up to make their marks on history, but also inspired and changed the lives of the people around them. These men were considered outsiders for their time periods because of their abnormal characteristic traits, whether aging backwards starting old then dying young, or having a low IQ but possessing a great heart, or an African American Butler who is the undisclosed caretaker for numerous US Presidents who manages to alter the outcome of historical events through his tenure in the White House. Tonight's marathon is about experiencing the journey of three men who went on a path wanting to make a mark on history and find out their true purpose in life. We have on our menu for this evening.

        The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 2008, Forrest Gump 1994, and Lee Daniels Butler 2013

What all three of these films do so well in executing is making us care about these characters and make us feel what they feel. Leave it to David Fincher to make you empathize with a man who is born old but grows backwards. A man who learns to sail, learns to love, and ultimately learns the true meaning of life. Leave it to Tom Hanks to take you on an emotional journey and make you care so much about a man who may not be the sharpest color in the box, but in the end, he is going to be there to save your life whether you're with him in Vietnam, or on a sailboat as first Mate. Forrest Gump is an amazing film about a man who just wanted acceptance in his life, and to win the heart of the woman he loved named Jenny. Benjamin Button was in the same boat with Cate Blanchett's character. Forrest Whittaker's character Cecil Gaines romances with Gloria Gaines while doing his tenure at the White House. Butler has several star studded cameos ranging from Cuba Gooding Jr and Terrence Howard to Robin Williams, Live Schreiber, Jane Fonda, and Alan Rickman as former presidents and friends of Cecil. With a star studded cast such as the likes of this, how did this movie not get a single Oscar nomination in the last Oscar ceremony.

All three of these movies are about self discovery and hope. The hope that the wonderful people in these stories get what they so desperately wanted in life such as love, happiness, contentment, and acceptance. It is one big emotional journey and an experience that makes the audience stop and reflect on what their needs and desires are in life. Bravo to a great marathon.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The marathon of the Wicked and the Supernatural

Tonight's marathon comes from beyond the grave, starting off as an old fashioned murder mystery in which bodies pile up dead, and the survivors band together to find the identity of their killer. Then continues with a loving couple who died in a tragic car accident and end up ghosts in their own house or rather slaves to an obnoxious family. That story continues with an odd and twisted evil worshipping family who finds their long lost relative, while at the same time welcoming a new one. Tonight's all about experiencing the unusual and the twisted. We have on our menu for this evening:

               Clue 1985, Beetlejuice 1988, The Addams Family 1991, The Addams Family Values 1993

Now this is what a fun lineup is all about. Beginning with the classic board game coming to life on film starring the high profile talents of Tim Curry, Leslie Ann Warren, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Mckean, and Colleen Camp. Who can forget Tim Curry's unforgettable performance as Waddsworth the Butler, the highly intelligent, often hilarious, and cunning Butler who figured out everyone's motives for being at the scene of the crime. Clue is living proof that board games can be turned into great movies. It was a childhood favorite of mine. Beetlejuice is another childhood classic with unforgettable performances from a surprisingly young Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Winona Ryder, and most importantly, MICHAEL KEATON AS BEETLEJUICE. He was beyond amazing here , he was perfect for that role. The costume design, art-set decoration, and makeup were all terrific in this film, as in every other Tim Burton movie. This was back when Burton made great movies, and his team up with Michael Keaton was magical. The Addams Family is a wonderful but wicked story about a twisted family who finds their long lost sibling after years of being missing, but having to win his heart back into their circle after having forgotten everything and being corrupted by an evil old lady and her manservant. The Addams Family Values continues the story arc of Uncle Fester living his life with the Addams Family, but this time he longs for a female companion, except the one he finds turns out to be far more wicked than anyone anticipated. The movie itself also turned out to be one of the rare movie sequels that outdoes the first movie. Most of that is thanks to the flawless performance of Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams and the performance of baby Pubert and Joan Cusack as Fester's evil wife. Is there anyone else on the planet who could've done a better job with this role than Christina did? Highly doubtful. Christina Ricci IS Wednesday Addams.

Tonight is all about fearing the unusual, and solving murder mysteries. This marathon is old fashioned, hilarious, and ultimately tons of fun with great costume, art-set decoration, and makeup effects. I wish more movies would go back to the basics that these movies demonstrated.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sick in Bed marathon

Tonight's marathon is dedicated to everyone whose sick and bedridden this week, and for all of those fighting terminal illnesses. Since I was unable to attend class or work today, I chose to pick three films from one of my favorite actors of all time that blend in well together and tackles issues such as physical impairment, fighting a horrible illness, and doing whatever a father can to get health coverage for his dying son after learning of his apparent heart failure. That great actor is named Denzel Washington. We have on our lineup for this evening:

          The Bone Collector 1999, Philadelphia 1993, and John Q 2002

Bone Collector has our hero bedridden as he lost his legs due to a terrible crime committed by a sadistic killer. He recruits the aid of Angelina Jolie's character to help with solving the case and to be his eyes and ears. This film qualifies as a medical health issue because it's about a man whose lost the will to live after a tragic accident, but agrees to help the police track down a serial killer. The next film Philadelphia, has Washington playing a homophobic lawyer who becomes conflicted when he witnesses Tom Hank's character named Andrew Beckett, experience discrimination for having AIDS and being an open homosexual. During the course of the film, Denzel begins to reevaluate his stance towards gays and realizes that his own prejudices are faulty. This was also Tom Hanks first Oscar winning role, and the one that brought him out of the realm of comedy to becoming one of our generation's most serious actors. We are grateful for having both Denzel and Tom Hanks on the big screen to deliver us one of the most powerful messages that can ever be captured on film. The message that no matter who you are, gay, straight, avatar, whether you're healthy or not. Everyone deserves to be remembered and one's life is precious and the loss of one is a tragedy. That is the message that Philadelphia drives home. The third and final film of the night is John Q, the film that brings it all together and drives the emotions home. In this film, Denzel is a loving father figure who is faced with a terrible reality. His son Mike has a heart condition and unless he gets treated, he will die. Denzel makes every legal attempt to get health coverage for his son but is denied access to any means that are beneficial. Like the tagline says: Give a father no options, you leave him with no choice.

This is the ideal marathon for those who have fallen ill and need a way to pass off a couple of hours without trying to fall asleep and you obviously can't. With these three movies, there is a powerful message behind them about the will to pull through and succeed when the odds are against you. Consider this a heartfelt tribute to everyone whose going through some kind of illness or cold, and a homage to one of the greatest actors of all time.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Revolutionary Marathon

Today's marathon is all about experiencing REVOLUTION. Revolution through a series of legendary stories in the art of English literature with great heroes and villains. Themes of sword fighting, betrayal, forbidden love, masked identities and hidden truths, corruption and claiming what was once lost run throughout this marathon. We have on our menu for this evening:

Scarlett Pimpernel 1982, The Count of Monte Cristo 2002, Les Miserables 1998, The Man in the Iron Mask 1998, and The Mask of Zorro 1998

What do all of these movies have in common? They all have a lead male character who hides their identity and takes the role of either a vigilante who rescues victims of the French Revolution such as Anthony Andrews character in the Scarlett Pimpernel. While doing so, he develops a forbidden romance with a woman named Marguerite, whose also being wooed by the villainous Chief agent for the Committee of National security played by Ian Mckellen. The film The Count of Monte Cristo. revolves around the story of a man named Edmond Dantes played by Jim Cazievel, who ends up being betrayed by his best friend played by Guy Pearce and is wrongfully imprisoned, and becomes consumed by the thought's of vengeance. The third film Les Miserables is a 1998 version which stars Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes. In this story, Liam Neeson plays John Valjean, a heartless convict who becomes transformed by a single act of mercy. Uma Thurman plays the vulnerable prostitute who begs Valjean to raise her only child, Cosette played by Claire Danes. Valjean is pursued by an ambitious policeman played by Geoffrey Rush, who is determined to return Valjean to prison. The fourth film The Man In The Iron Mask, centers around a cruel king named Louis XIV, played by Leonardo Dicaprio, who has a secret twin brother that's been imprisoned by him. In an act of courage and defiance, the Three Musketeers seek to free the imprisoned twin brother and overthrow the evil King Louis from the throne. The epic finale The Mask of Zorro starring Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Bandera's, Catherine Zeta Jones and Stuart Wilson ties the whole marathon together with a young thief, seeking revenge over the death of his brother, is trained by the once great but aged Legend of Zorro, whose also seeking his own vengeance for the murder of his wife and the stealing of his daughter from his mortal enemy.

With each film, the stakes get higher, the action and drama increase as well as the passionate romance between the lead characters such as the Scarlett Pimpernel and Marguerite, the legendary Zorro and the beautiful Elena. This marathon has it all: action, drama, romance, comedy, and most importantly, all the films are period set pieces with revolution and defiance as the backdrop for the heroic stories of courage strength, honor and ultimately: Vengeance and Victory.