AFI's Top 100 Movies Chooch

Blade Runner (97)

We watched Blade Runner (1982) last night. I’ve seen it before, but that was over 20 years ago. No, I’ve not watched it again since then. (Don’t judge me, I’ve been busy.)

I remembered the key elements – Replicants, Daryl Hannah doing gymnastics, Rutger Hauer looking fierce and Harrison Ford. *sigh* (Yes, I’m one of the kajillion girls that had a crush on him. I even watched the Frisco Kid every time it was on TV in spite of my mild aversion to Gene Wilder.)

I found the movie much more enjoyable this viewing, and picked up on a LOT more story than I caught the first time. This makes me wonder if I’d ever watched the ENTIRE movie before. It bears pointing out that Joanna Cassidy, who has been in a lot of movies but is not likely a household name (Christina Applegate’s boss in “Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead”, if that helps), had a killer body.

Ridley Scott directed, and visually it’s a very beautiful and striking movie. I giggled at the fact that it’s set in the year 2019, only 9 years away from now. It also starred Edward James Olmos and Sean Young (before she went crazy for Cat Woman). She had a very touching moment, and I had forgotten that she’s actually a pretty good actor.

My favorite line is probably Rachel’s “I’m not in the business. I am the business.”

For a more thorough and thoughtful discussion, head over to “Watch 100 Movies”, the podcast that inspired our viewing of AFI’s Top 100 Movies.

AFI's Top 100 Movies Chooch Movies

Ben Hur (100), Toy Story (99) and Yankee Doodle Dandy (98)

As I mentioned in a previous post, Chooch and I are following behind Christiana Ellis and Mike Meitin in their quest to watch all 100 of the AFI Top 100 Movies.

We use Netflix, with Chooch and I each having our own queue. It’s worked beautifully, and we always have something wonderful waiting for us. It’s very rare that something comes for one that the other doesn’t want to watch, but it does happen.

Since I was inspired to finally watch these by Christiana and Mike’s new podcast series, I decided to take the hit on my Netflix queue for whatever we don’t already own, and while updating my Netflix queue I made the following discoveries:

  • I’ve already seen 47 of the top 100. We’ve decided to re-watch them, to decide if we agree with the ranking.
  • The Color Purple is not on the list. I’m sure people will disagree, but I’m extremely disappointed.
  • Little Big Man is another shocking admission from the list.
  • The Godfather, Parts I (#2) and II (#32) are both on the list. I completely agree with Part I, but I have to wonder about Part II. Especially with the two movies I listed above being absent. It’s not that it wasn’t good, I just don’t remember it being SO good that it merits being on the list. I’ll revisit this item when I view it again.
  • I’m very excited to finally see some of the movies that Hollywood legends starred in. I’ve never seen a Buster Keaton movie, nor an entire Charlie Chaplin or Marx Brothers’ film. Many of the movies caused me to squee as I added them, because I’m excited to finally have an excuse to watch them.

On to my thoughts on the first three that we’ve viewed.

#100 – Ben Hur
This was my first viewing, and the first thing I’ll admit is that I had no clue how entrenched it is in the story of Christ. The lives of Jesus Christ and Judah Ben Hur intersect at a few points, and many events in Judah’s life are put into motion because of Christ. At one of their meetings, I began to wonder if the tiny seedling of inspiration for the Forrest Gump concept started here. This is a very long 212 minute movie. By that I mean it seemed like it took a lot longer than 212 minutes to watch. I loved the grandness of the film and some elements of the story truly moved me. While I can see how this was a ground-breaking movie in 1959, it is not a movie I plan on ever watching again.

#99 – Toy Story
No big surprise, but I’ve viewed this movie dozens of times. I saw it in the theater when it was released, and have watched it when my kids played it at home. I really do love this movie, and like many of my generation and younger, I can recite whole sections of dialog. I did learn one new thing, which was that Joss Whedon was one of the folks that wrote the screenplay.

#98 – Yankee Doodle Dandy
I hadn’t seen and knew nothing about this movie, other than that my friend Leslie LOVES it. While there were some very touching points in the movie, in general I was underwhelmed. I even questioned why it was on the list since I could think of a few musicals that are better (in my opinion) that are NOT on the list.

I was pretty annoyed, so hit up Wikipedia for some background and discovered that it is based on a real person, George M. Cohan. I had assumed that the famous songs were born in this musical, but learned that he wrote them, including  “Over There”, “Give My Regards to Broadway,” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy.” The same article states “he is considered the father of American musical comedy”. Those things, coupled with what must have been a grand production in 1942 made me understand why this film was so important. While I don’t plan any additional viewings (Sorry, Leslie), I certainly understand it’s existence on the list.

My favorite line from the movie occurs upon the birth of George M. Cohan when his Irish father announces “He’s crying with a brogue!”.

I apologize if I’m re-hashing anything Christiana and Mike already mentioned. I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I want to post my thoughts before or after listening to their coverage, so have not listened yet.

Next up, Bladerunner!

AFI's Top 100 Movies Chooch Movies

One Hundred Movies, Finally

I’m happy to report that I’ve finally started watching the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Movies, and I owe my thanks to Christiana Ellis. Chooch and I have talked about going through the list before but we never actually started. Now that Christiana has started her new podcast endeavor, Watching 100 Movies, we’ve finally gotten started.

Christiana and her usual partner in media consumption discussions, Mike Meitin, have already released three episodes discussing the first six films (numbers 100 through 95). We are behind their schedule, but have now gotten our Netflix queue in order to hopefully catch up, but at least follow along. We’ve watched 100 – 98, and I thought I’d give short posts on my thoughts of the movies. I’m hoping this will keep me from getting too far behind, or from stopping when a cluster of unappealing movies are next. There, now I have accountability.

My next post will be about the first three movies on the list. Before that, I thought I’d briefly tell you about my movie tastes.

  • I love movies, especially in the theater. I think the suspension of any interruption to be almost necessary for immersion into the world that I’m watching, except for the most exceptional films.
  • I will see anything and everything starring Kevin Spacey, Audrey Hepburn, Johnny Depp, Sandra Bullock and Denzel Washington. I’m sure there are others, but these are the first that come to mind.
  • I love some musicals, including “West Side Story”, “My Fair Lady”, “Moulin Rouge” and “Sunday in the Park with George”.
  • I find war movies, all of them, particularly difficult to watch. While I’m not a pacifist, I do have great difficulty watching mass numbers of humanity get blown to pieces. Empathy/sympathy/whatever overwhelms me and so it is extremely rare that I’m able to get past that to enjoyment.
  • This same issue is why I have trouble with some other films, such as “Meet The Fockers”, “Falling Down” and “Pursuit of Happyness”. I never finished watching any of these. In fact, since the standard theme in Ben Stiller movies is for terrible thing after terrible thing to happen in a ridiculously long string of unlucky events, I also tend to avoid his movies. I find that the continual beating down of a character unenjoyable, even when I know that eventually the tide will likely turn to his or her favor.
  • That said, I have a particular love of dramas. When a film or actor’s performance is able to reach out and touch my soul in a resonating way? Heavenly, even if I’m sobbing.

Expect a post sometime this week on films 100 (Ben Hur), 99 (Toy Story), and 98 (Yankee Doodle Dandy).

Thanks to Christiana and Mike for motivating us to finally watch all these movies!


You Must See "Inception", And Here's Why (No Spoilers)

I saw it on Thursday with my thirteen year old son. I had heard rave reviews from some pretty tough critics (my friends), so I was happy when he chose it. I didn’t remember the trailer and knew nothing about it, other than Leonardo DiCaprio starring in it.

I feel no shame in admitting that I was pretty damned lost for the first ten minutes or so, but not in an irritating way. No, I was riveted.  You realize pretty early on that you’re watching Something Important, and neither of us took our eyes off the screen. (Okay, okay… I did look at L.T. every so often to see if he was bored. He wasn’t.)

My brain is still processing much of what I saw, and L.T. and I happily differ on how the movie ended. I love both of these facts. For those complaining that they wanted a clear-cut ending, too bad. It was artfully done, and in a way that still has me scratching my head and soothing my aching heart.

I’ve only really been this insistent with one other movie in recent years, and that was “Up”, which had one of the most poignant and beautiful love stories I’ve ever encountered. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you have cheated yourself out of love, laughter and beautiful animation.

“Inception” also has a powerful love story, and some of the most exhilarating action scenes I’ve ever seen. I was literally on the edge of my seat at some points, and holding my breath at others.  If L.T. can be believed, I was even so carried away that I dropped the F-bomb at some unknown point of the movie. He was shocked but couldn’t tear himself away from the story to chastise me, but rather told me as we walked to the car. I’m amazed that I have no recollection of it, but that is to the credit of the story, I suppose.

You won’t be surprised to hear that Leo does a great job in his role. In a completely unfair way, we expect him to always be that believable and to sweep us away with his immersion into his character.  And while I don’t rush out mindlessly to see his movies, I’ve probably seen nearly all of them because I know that he will give a powerful performance. His tortured character in this film is easily my favorite of all his performances, and there were even a few times that I had to look away because I couldn’t bear what I thought was coming his way.

“Inception” also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page. I felt both of their characters to be one-dimensional, but their acting was superb. Now, I loves me some Ellen Page, but this movie didn’t allow her to shine the way that “Juno” did. It’s just as well, because it would’ve detracted and I’m happy to wait for another movie to really showcase her talents.

To my surprise, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was amazing. No, I wasn’t a fan of “Third Rock From the Sun” and was one of the few people I know that disliked “500 Days of Summer”. (Not even my straight-girl crush on Zooey Deschanel helped on that one.) If you saw Joseph on “Saturday Night Live” around the time that “500 Days of Summer” came out, then you saw his pretty amazing dance skills during the monologue. Imagine my surprise when one of his action scenes in “Inception” made that dance routine look like a clumsy, drunken stomp. He quietly rocked his role, as much as there was room for him to do so.

So, not that you asked, but I think you really need to go see it. It’s definitely worth the money.

And if you have seen it, what did YOU think?



I’ve lost it. But here’s what I know:

LT is my thirteen year old, and he lives with his dad out of state. He asked to live with him so he could get to know him and his dad’s other kids better. He came home mid-June, and somehow our time together is over. *whoosh* The last few weeks with LT have been bittersweet, because although I love each and every minute with him I’ve known that the clock is ticking for him to leave again.

My nineteen year old has moved out, and is doing the college thing. He’s working hard, getting great grades and before my very eyes he is changing and defining himself as a man. While he comes home every week or two, the end result is that Chooch and I now have an empty nest. Yes, we have a dog. You know it’s not the same.

We just got back from a week in California with Chooch’s amazing family. We stayed with his sister and her husband as we always do, and spend every single possible moment with Chooch’s son J that we possibly can. The boys came with us this time, and we had a wonderful time. So wonderful in fact, that it was harder than ever to leave. The love and joy that surrounds us when we are there is addictive, but I realize that we’re on vacation and day-to-day life would bring difficulty.

Regardless, I miss J terribly. He has blossomed over the years into an even more fascinating person, and I hate that we live so far away. He’s happy in his life and is surrounded by love, and thanks to his age and technology we have more interaction with him then ever. But I sorely wish we could be there for him more physically.

Without my kids here and with the health problems I’m working around, I’ve been floundering a bit. Part of it is because of the financial upheaval that we’ve been dealing with and part of it may be because of finally dealing with the loss of being a “full-time” parent. It’s been almost a year now, but it still seems surreal.

We’re potentially facing some more big changes, as we contemplate moving. This house is too big for two people and a dog. We need something smaller and closer to Chooch’s employer. Cheaper would be a great, too, since we don’t know how long it will be until I can return to full time work.

Luckily, I’ve got some direction in helping a friend with some projects. It helps that I really and truly believe in him. That, and getting our home ready for a realtor appraisal is where I’m focusing my attention in the future, along with continuing my treatments to be healthier.

Other than that, I feel pretty confused and at a loss. I’ve spent the last 19 years being a mom in the daily sense, but as LT has left again I now feel I have to redefine myself to … myself.

It’s as if the needle in my internal compass is spinning wildly around the dial, leaving me clueless as to which direction to travel. I’m counting on the fact that regardless of where I end up – as long as our boys are healthy and I’ve got my husband at my side, it will be a great journey.

I wrote this in the sand while watching all my guys splash and play in the ocean. I didn't want to ever forget how I felt at that moment.
Dizzy Friends Health

Can I Get A Prescription For That?

Conversation with my doctor:
Her: You have to remove as many stressors as possible from your life, whether it’s people or situations. It’s damaging your health.
Me: Working on it.

The worst part of my migraines should be the part that I can’t control. You know, doing everything I’m supposed to and still not being able to go to work. Or the financial impact of what my inability to get to work has caused. And yes, I’m having to wave “bye bye” to my secure government job due to the length of the diagnosis and search for effective treatment. *

I’m actually finding that the most challenging part is limiting “voluntary” stressors, primarily in social situations. In recent months, I’ve found that others’ negativity has a measurable impact on me, so I literally have to avoid it. Otherwise, whatever  symptoms I’m dealing with intensify and I’m down and out until it feels like passing.

So I’m initiating some changes in my life, one of those is actually trying to express myself as issues arise instead of holding them in. In my family, I’ve frequently been the “peace maker” or “diplomat”, trying to soothe ruffled feathers. Being the one to ruffle them is messy, and I’ve already learned that I own some responsibility for the effects of things having occurred in the past. Not for the hurtful event, but rather letting it fester in me without addressing it and ensuring that it stops.

I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of support, but I’ve also had my words and intentions twisted. I’m not wasting my time on that, and I’ll happily take the “rainbows and sunshine” smart-ass remarks. So far, it’s been a pretty damned good indication of those influences I need to distance myself from, at least for now.

I know a lot of people that are able to have intelligent, thoughtful and fascinating conversations without tearing other people down. I happily spent most of the weekend with a lot of people like that. And not surprisingly I find those to be the people that I have the most fun with. Because, let’s be honest, if you’re around a person that is constantly tearing down other people it’s only a matter of time before they start in on you. If they haven’t already.

And just what do you think the odds are of that?

*For any of you kind and wonderful people that may think there should be a chip-in or fundraising effort, please know that we do not want it. We are blessed in our life, and prefer efforts be helped that are more critical. Hungry kids, cancer cures, homeless shelters, paying down YOUR credit card balance…  there are so many other places to send your money!