Friday, February 27, 2015

Protecting Those That You Love Night

Tonight's marathon revolves around the theme of a man protecting the girl that he ultimately ends up falling in love with or is in love with. These male figures range from a regular police officer to a bodyguard, a member of the Rebel Alliance, and a loving boyfriend turned Ghost. The female characters range from an Amish woman to a singer, a princess of the New Republic, and the woman who the boyfriend turned Ghost is deeply in love with. We cover the story arcs of all these amazing characters and their journeys to protecting these people while in the process falling in love with them.
We have on our menu for this evening:

        Witness 1985, The Bodyguard 1992, Empire Strikes Back 1980, and Ghost 1990

Here we have an all star cast among the likes of Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Lukas Haas, Danny Glover, Viggo Mortensen, Whitney Houston, Kevin Costner, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams, Frank Oz,  Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn, and Whoopi Goldberg. The first movie up to bat in this incredible marathon is Harrison Ford's 1985 thriller titled Witness. Nominated for 8 academy awards and winner of two, Witness focuses on a young Amish boy who ends up being a sole witness to a murder, forcing policeman John Book played by Harrison Ford to go into hiding in the Amish community to protect him and his mother until the trial begins. The twist here is while doing so, the policeman and the boys mother begin developing feelings for each other, while also understanding what they both share is forbidden love as he is a policeman and she is an Amish girl. In order for their love to work, one has to abandon the world they once knew and go over to the other side entirely. To date, this remains the only film that garnered Harrison Ford a well deserved Oscar nomination for his dramatic performance as John Book. This film compliments the film that comes next with the 1992 romantic thriller/drama The Bodyguard starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. Nominated for two academy awards for best songs including the hit singles I will Always Love You, and I have Nothing sung by Houston, the film centers around a secret service agent being hired to take the job as a bodyguard for a stern pop singer, and comes to find that her lifestyle is most different from a Presidents. Their egos clash as they both fight for control of the situation but while doing so, also begin to experience feelings that are manifestations of true romance. Costner's character is conflicted with falling for this woman he's assigned to protect and acting on his feelings, but also remembering that he was hired to be a bodyguard and can't protect her under those circumstances. To date, this film remains the most successful movie of Kevin Costner's and Whitney Houston's careers, as well as one of the biggest romantic blockbusters of all time. The third film in the marathon compliments the ego clashing romance of The Bodyguard with the romantic subplot of Han Solo and Princess Leia in Empire Strikes Back. Taking place three years after A New Hope, the rebels become brutally overpowered by the Empire in the newly established base. Luke Skywalker played by Mark Hamill, takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends Han Solo, Princess Leia, C3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca are on the run from Darth Vader, whose become obsessed with capturing Skywalker. Han Solo's character inherits the traits of a bodyguard and heroic figure by returning to the base to escort Princess Leia to safety. Their whole relationship consists of Han Solo being frustrated that Leia won't admit her true feelings for him, and Leia slowly coming to terms with the realization that she is in denial about her true feelings towards a "scoundrel." Nominated for four academy awards including best visual effects and music, Empire Strikes Back remains one of the greatest movies ever made and one of the best sequels ever conceived. The fourth and final film of the night brings it all together while putting a spin on the whole theme with Patrick Swayze's 1990 romantic drama Ghost. This time Patrick Swayze plays a guy named Sam whose killed during an attempted mugging, and remains on Earth as a Ghost in order to protect the woman that he loves Molly, played by Demi Moore from a similar fate. Nominated for 5 academy awards and winner of two, Ghost remains one of the defining love stories in the history of cinema, as well as one of the biggest blockbusters.

So what are these movies all trying to say? Witness says that in order for two people of different cultures come together, one has to abandon their past live and embrace the new one. The Bodyguard says that true love cannot exist without both people putting their shields down and meeting halfway on things. Empire Strikes Back's message from the Han and Leia standpoint is to always admit your true feelings for someome before it's too late. The message of Ghost is that the love inside is so strong that it can never be destroyed nor go away, especially if the other person is in danger. Love conquers all.

Here are our main characters for this evening:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Brief Moments Of True Romance Part lll. The Final Act

Tonight's marathon brings to a close the epic Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight trilogy created by the filmmakers of the recent critically acclaimed coming of age drama titled Boyhood. The first night dealt with the romances getting briefer with each movie ranging from a Labor Day weekend to just 24 hours and even a half hour romance between a young ally soldier and a German girl. The second night dealt with the couples getting older with each film ranging from young adults to two passionate elderly people sharing a forbidden romance due to the other being involved in a marriage. Tonight is more of a thought provoking type of romance night where we feel the joy and heartbreak of several people who come together and share some truly amazing memories together. We have on our menu for this evening:

Lost In Translation 2003, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind 2004 Before Midnight 2013, and 500 Days of Summer 2009

We begin the evening with the film Lost in Translation starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen made in 2003 by Sofia Coppola. The plot centers around a faded movie star and a neglected young woman who form an unlikely bond after crossing paths in Tokyo together. Nominated for four academy awards and winner of best original screenplay, this film sets the tone for the rest of the movies with the theme of two people coming together and sharing an experience that both will remember for a lifetime. The second film in the lineup is Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. Nominated for two academy awards including a nom for best actress, the film won an Oscar for best original screenplay with a storyline that centers around a couple's relationship that ends up turning sour. They both undergo a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. However is through the process of their loss and memories fading that they discover what they had to begin with...although it might be too late. Generally considered the finest work of Jim Carreys career and his most dramatic performance, both him and Kate Winslet bring their A game to their roles in this movie along with Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, and Tom Wilkinson in supporting roles. The third film in the lineup is Before Midnight, the third and final installment in the critically acclaimed romantic trilogy. Picking up 9 years later where they left off from Before Sunset, we reunite with the characters of Jesse and Celine in Greece, almost two decades after their first meeting on a train heading for Vienna. Their third and final meeting will ultimately decide where their relationship will head if they decide to act on their true feelings for each other or go their separate paths. Like it's predecessor, the film received an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. What all three of these films have in common is that their writing is top notch and dialogue and performances are what drives the films. The fourth and final movie of the night is Joseph Gordon Levitt's 500 Days Of Summer. Nominated for two Golden Globe awards including best film and best actor in lead role, Levitt gives a powerful performance about a man who encounters a woman who doesn't believe true love exists, and soon enough he ends up falling for her.

So what are all of these films ultimately trying to say? Lost in Translation says that new friendships can define what's really important in life. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind says that painful memories can help make us who we are and those memories should be accepted and even embraced. Before Midnight says that every relationship has its up and downs, and 500 Days Of Summer says that true love is not a greeting card sentiment.

Our main characters for this evening:

Friday, February 20, 2015

When A Man Loves A Horse

Tonight's marathon is about seeing the several different story arcs of a man and the relationship he shares with his horse. Some of these stories range from horse racing to a journey through World War l for a horse to find his master. Tonight's marathon is about witnessing a man and a horse working together to accomplish the impossible. We have on our menu for this evening:

                                                    Seabiscuit 2003, Hidalgo 2004, and War Horse 2011

We begin the evening with the 2003 Oscar nominated drama titled Seabiscuit. Nominated for 7 academy awards, this film tells the true story of a depression-era racehorse whose victories have gone to lift the spirits of the team behind it but also the nation of America. Jeff Bridges, Tobey Maguire, and Chris Cooper give stellar performances in this profound story bout a young man and a horse being brought together to inspire a nation. The second film in the lineup is 2004's Hidalgo which takes place in 1890, where a down-and-out cowboy and his horse go on a journey to Arabia to compete in a deadly cross desert horse race. The third and final movie in the lineup is the Steven Spielberg horse epic titled War Horse. The film centers around a young Albert who enlists to serve in World War l after his beloved horse is sold to the calvary. The hopeful journey of Albert takes him out of England and into the front lines as the war rages on. Nominated for 6 academy awards, the film essentially is a man's journey to reunite with his horse again.

So what are these movies trying to say? Seabiscuit says to not throw your life away because of one fault, and that everyone deserves a second chance. Hidalgo says that friendships and respect are the ultimate rewards in life. War Horse says that wars can be violent and it takes alot of strength and courage to overcome the emotional damage caused by warfare. This all makes for one epic night full of adventure and self discovery.

Our companions for this evening:


Monday, February 16, 2015

Coming Of Age Night: The Love Between A Son And His Father

Tonight's marathon is specifically a one that pertains to the theme of coming of age. This one deals with a young boy or gentlemen trying to find his purpose in the world but need some guidance from his father. Either the father and son relationships in these films are troubled, wanting acceptance from one side, wanting to reestablish what means most while going on an adventure together, and fulfilling one's destiny after the father passes on. This is not just a great dramatic marathon, it's a moving experience: We have on our menu for this evening:

The Lion King 1994, October Sky 1999, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade 1989, and Life As A House 2000

We begin the evening with the first coming of age film that deals with the father and son dynamic with the 1994 epic blockbuster The Lion King. Boosting an epic cast among the likes of Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, and Cheech Marin, the story places the character Simba as the young lion whose destined to take the throne as ruler of the animals once his father Mufasa passes on. What follows is a personal tragedy that leaves Simba filled with guilt and abandonment, but also represents the beginning of his rebirth as the future king who strives to become the destined king of Pride Rock. Lion King is not only one of the best animated films ever, but one of the best movies of all time. It's father and son dynamic along with the theme of growing up and becoming a man is the perfect setup for the next films. The second movie in the lineup maintains the father and son relationship as being the heart of the film, but this time deals with the wanting of acceptance. The film October Sky, deals with the true story of a young boy named Homer Hickam, a coal miners son played by Jake Gyllenhaal who takes up rocketry against the wishes of his father played by Chris Cooper. This film is absolutely perfect as the follow up to Lion King because not only does it bring the theme of acceptance and following your destiny to a more realistic level, it really hits home in the end. The third film in the marathon goes back to the heights of The Lion King in terms of being an incredible adventure and an emotional father and son film. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, is not only the best Indiana Jones film in the franchises history but also feels the most real. This one shows us a young Indiana Jones whose slowly morphing into the archaeologist he's well known for but also showing us the relationship with his father that leaves a lot to be desired for Indy. Their relationship is a troubled one because ever since Indy was a kid, he felt that his father placed more emphasis on archaeology than on him, and deep down wants to have a relationship with his father while enduring the quest to find the Holy Grail. Sean Connery's performance in this film is so dynamic and powerful, he really drives home the emotions especially in the scene where the tank goes over the cliff and he finally admits regret for not telling his son how he feels. The final movie of the marathon ties it all together with Life As a House starring Kevin Kline and Hayden Christensen. Kevin Kline plays a father diagnosed with terminal cancer who takes custody of his troubled drug addict teenage son who specializes in getting high, small time prostitution, and avoiding his father. The mission of the father in this film is to get the son to help him build a house together, while also reestablishing their relationship and reminding them that no matter what happens, they will always be father and son. A great parallel between this and Last Crusade is Indy is able to save his father from death in that film but the son in Life As A House isn't able to, and must cherish what time they have left. This film still remains Hayden Christensen's finest hour as an actor, and makes one wonder how he did such a great job in this movie but fumbled the ball as Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels.

So what are these movies ultimately trying to say? The Lion King says you can run from your past or learn from it. No one can escape their destiny. October Sky says to follow your conscience and your dreams, even if it means bucking tradition, fighting authority, and withstanding disapproval from those closest to you. The Last Crusade says to tell your loved one how you feel before it's too late, and to not place more emphasis on something that isn't as important as your child. Life As A House says that sometimes you don't get what you wish for, and something bad can be an excuse to force something good to happen.

Our father and sons for this evening:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Good Cops vs Bad Cops

Tonight's marathon is about the representation of both good and bad cops. This lineup gives a healthy balance of the morals of cops whether it being righteous or criminal. There has been alot that's been said in the media about police being both positive and negative, but what this marathon will attempt to show is that there is a battle going on between good vs evil, right and wrong. That becomes evident in the final movie of the evening with Training Day. The message behind the rest of the marathon is that not all cops are as bad as people say and there are one's who are great at what they do, and simply are fighting to get back home at the end of the day. For that reasoning, they deserve our respect because they choose to do a job that most people wouldn't feel comfortable with. We have on our menu for this evening:

                         SWAT 2003, End of Watch 2012, Bad Boys ll 2003, and Training Day 2001

We begin the evening with the film SWAT starring Samuel Jackson, Colin Ferrall, Jeremy Renner, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, and Oliver Martinez. SWAT centers around an imprisoned drug kingpin who offers a cash reward to anyone that breaks him out of jail leaving only the LAPD's Special Weapons and Tactics team to prevent it from happening. SWAT is a thrilling start because it raises ethical questions such as should SWAT shoot a hostage to get them away from the ciminal to catch them and shows the human side of a SWAT team, portraying them as friends and sometimes family. In this case, this team is out to prove themselves worthy of the name given to them. The second film in the lineup takes things to a much darker tone with the critically acclaimed cop drama End Of Watch. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, the film is shot documentary style and follows a daily life of two young police officers in Los Angeles who are both partners and friends. The twist is they meet criminal forcs that are far greater than themselves forcing them to put it all on the line. Whereas SWAT introduces the theme of teamwork and unity between cops, End of Watch takes a darker approach and shows a more realistic environment and obstacles that cops face on a day in and day out basis. The third film in the lineup takes the action to the extreme with Michael Bay's Bad Boys ll. Whereas the cops in the first two are heroic, these guys are loose-cannons who are forced to investigate the flow of Ecstacy in Florida. The point this film tries to show compared to the others is these cops might not follow the rules of a police officer by the book, but when they get the job done, they do it amazingly well. The fourth and final film in the lineup is the ultimate classic battle between good vs evil with Training Day starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. Generally hailed as being Denzel Washington's finest hour as an actor and one of the definitive cop movies of all time, Training Day places our protagonist Jake Hoyt played by Ethan Hawke on his first day on the job as a Los Angeles narcotics officer. Being a rookie cop, he goes on a 24-hour training course with a rogue detective who isn't what he appears to be. The character of Alonzo Harris played by Denzel Washington is one of the most iconic movie villains ever, and shows how terrible cops can ultimately be, and Jake representing the best of what they can be also.

So what are these movies ultimately trying to say with their messages. SWAT says that sometimes doing everything by the book isn't necessarily the right thing. End of Watch says that the bond between two police officers can ultimately prove to be very strong, almost like brothers. Bad Boys ll drives home this message further with friendship being the strongest bond. Training Days final message says that you don't have to behave like a criminal in order to get the criminals.

Our heroes and villains for this evening:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Brief Moments Of True Romance Night Part ll

Tonight's marathon is pretty much a followup to the brief moments of true romance that happened two weeks ago. To do a quick recap of that marathon, that one focused on romances that happened briefly but were intense and powerful. Each love story got smaller as that marathon went with Labor Day taking the entire holiday weekend, Before Sunrise happening in a day, The Family Man being someone's glimpse into what his life could've been like if he had made better choices, and Fury being a brief half hour period where a young allied soldier falls for a German girl under circumstances that pertained to war. Tonights follow the same approach except this time the couples get older as the story goes but the romances remain brief. This time we boast an all star case of Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Robert Deniro, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hank Azaria, Anne Bancroft, George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga, Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. We have on our menu for this evening:

 Before Sunset 2004, Great Expectations 1998, Up In The Air 2009, and Bridges of Madison County 1995

We begin the evening with the film Before Sunset. Before Sunset is the sequel to the 1995 romantic drama Before Sunrise which takes place 9 years after after the events of that film. The original movie had the two lead characters Jesse played by Ethan Hawke, and Celine by Julie Deply first meeting on a train and spending an evening together when an emotional connection begins to develop. Because one of the two was already tied down in a relationship, they had no choice but to part ways and live on with their lives while questioning the emotional attachment they both felt. Fast forward 9 years later to the year 2004, the two young lovers meet each other again on Jesse's book tour. Before Sunset is one of the rare sequels that not only lives up to the first movie but expands on the themes it started. It received an oscar nomination for best screenplay. The second film in the marathon also stars Ethan Hawke but is directed by Alfonso Cuaron, helmer of A Little Princess, Yu Tu Mama Tambien, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, Children Of Men, and Gravity. Co starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Deniro, Anne Bancroft, and Hank Azaria, Based on the novelization by Charles Dickens, the story finds Ethan Hawke as Hapless Finn as a painter in New York, who pursues his unrequited and haughty childhood love. Much like Before Sunset, both films deal with old flames reuniting later in life and feeling the temptation of succombing to each others feelings. The third film in the lineup deals with an older man played by George Clooney in the film Up In The Air. Nominated for a total of six academy awards, Up In The Air centers around a man whose job is traveling around the country to fire people from their jobs. The character Ryan Bingham enjoys his life living out of a suitcase, but finds his lifestyle threatened and challenged when he meets a new hire and a potential love interest played by Vera Farmiga. The fourth and final movie in the marathon has the lead romance characters at their oldest in Clint Eastwood's Bridges Of Madison County. Starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, the story centers around photographer Robert Kincaid, who wanders into the life of housewife Francesca Johnson for a total of four days in the 1960s. Why was this film chosen as the final movie of the evening? Because it plays on all the other films and the themes established so far with both lineups of movies about love that can happen anywhere at any given time, regardless of the circumstance.

So what are these movies ultimately trying to say? Before Sunset says that happyness is the doing and desire is the fuel of life. Great Expectations says that ambition must be tampered by humility. Up in the Air says that you cannot live without nothing and nobody and that everyone needs friends and a family. Bridges of Madison County says that sometimes the best thing to do for your love is to stay away from each other. Family obligations sometimes take importance over what an individual family member wants.

Our couples for this evening:

Friday, February 6, 2015

Terrorism And The Effects It Unleashes

Tonight's marathon is about the act of terrorism and the effects of it. We have several major story arcs coming into play with an all star cast among the likes of Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Bruce Willis, Jeremy Renner, Bradley Cooper, and Jessica Chastain. The story arcs range from pre 911 terrorism in New York to the diffusing of bombs in the middle east, an American sniper whose selected to protect his team from the enemy while having to make tough decisions on whether to take someone's life or spare them, and finally a decades hunt for the terrorist mastermind behind the events of September 11th being brought to justice. All makes for a very exciting and thought provoking evening. We have on tonight's menu:

        The Siege 1998, The Hurt Locker 2009, American Sniper 2014, Zero Dark Thirty 2012

We begin the evening with Edward Zwick's 1998 suspense thriller The Siege starring Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, and Bruce Willis. The plot centers around a secret US abduction of a suspected terrorists which leads to a wave of terrorist attacks in New York City. Through these terrorist attacks, martial law is declared and the city becomes under siege. The Siege was seen as a box office disappointment upon release but later became the most rented film in America after the events of September 11th. What The Siege introduces is the theme of terrorism, and the effects that it brings afterwards such as the declaration of martial law. The next film in the marathon continues the effects of terrorism with Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar Winning film The Hurt Locker. Set during the Iraq War, Jeremy Renner plays a Sergeant whose been recently assigned to an army bomb squad and is put at odds with his squad mates due to his tactical way of handling his work. Winner of 6 academy awards including Best Picture, The Hurt Locker flirts with the theme that some men truly desire and live off war. This is evident in the film that it follows up with in Clint Eastwood's American Sniper. Nominated for six academy awards, the film deals with a Navy seal sniper named Chris Kyle whose pinpoint accuracy ends up saving countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. The film focuses on his conflicts on and off the battlefield with his wife and kids struggling to cope with his four tours of duty. Much like The Hurt Locker, Chris character played by Bradley Cooper realizes that he can't leave the war behind when living at home. American Sniper is a controversial yet significant film that centers around the harsh realities of war. The fourth and final movie of the evening is Kathryn Bigelows Zero Dark Thirty, which brings everything together and gives the marathon its final epic closure. Starring Jessica Chastain, the film chronicles the decade-long hunt for al Queda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May 2011. The films unforgettable climax makes for a perfect emotional payoff for all the tension that builds up from the start of the marathon to its epic finish.

So what are all of these movies trying to say? The Siege says that we shouldn't fight terrorism with terrorist acts of our own. The Hurt Locker says that war can be consuming and that some people thrive off it. American Sniper says to know your purpose, and that PTSD is a serious and awful condition. Zero Dark Thirty says that the chasing of terrorists can lead to obsession and enhanced interrogation techniques are brutal and no different from torture.