But Don’t I Have to Like Classic Movies???

As we have discussed previously; I love movies.  I love writing and I love movies.  I have fought the urge for years to write a screenplay, thinking that it would be too difficult to learn.  However, thinking that I could make one of my books into a movie, I spent several months learning everything I could about writing a screenplay, and then in January of this year, I began writing my first one.  Now, with almost two screenplays completed, I have realized that there is only one person who can make my work say what I want it to say, and that’s me. (Or maybe Steven Spielberg or James Cameron, they’ve just been so busy lately!)  So now, I’ve got it into my head that I could make my own movie, and I’m already focused on making my second screenplay into a movie a few years down the line.  I’m sure my wife is so excited to hear about this (sarcasm, don’t fail me now).

So now that I am seriously considering making my own independent movie over the course of the next few years, I’ve decided to devour all the movies I can; learning, memorizing, cataloging.  One of the things that keeps sticking in my head is the idea that I really need to watch the classics, I need to love the classic movies.  So I’ve queued up all the great, old, classics in my Netflix queue and the first movie that came in was Casablanca; and I was stoked!

So, two Saturday nights ago, when Alison was out with some friends, I popped Casablanca the remastered Blu-Ray edition into my DVD player and sat down to enjoy a classic.  I don’t know what I expected, except to be blown away.  There is so much hype behind this movie, and EVERYONE in the movie industry refers to it ALL the time.  After sitting through the 102 minutes of the movie I realized something very disheartening; maybe I would never be a person who understood the love of classic movies.  Inside I was very upset, though I first tried to pretend to myself that I loved the movie.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, Humphrey Bogart was THE MAN!  He was so cool in Casablanca that I think I started falling in love with him!  But all the Humphrey Bogart in the world could not make me like this movie.  Maybe I just didn’t get it, maybe I’m stupid.  It’s certainly possible, but I really could not get into the characters, especially Ingrid Bergman’s.  I really just couldn’t get into the movie at all and ended up just wishing that Bogart would give Bergman the tickets to get to America and be done with the whole thing.  It kind of made the movie seem longer than it was, this back and forth, this romance that was and should be and would not be again even though they both wanted it to be.  My eye is twitching just thinking about it.  So there it is, I’m a want-to-be movie director and I don’t like Casablanca.  For a moment, I thought this had pretty much destroyed my future career as a director.

Then I remembered something; I don’t hate old movies, I just didn’t enjoy Casablanca.  I love Gone with the Wind, and when I say I love it, I really mean that I LOVE IT.  I don’t care that it is 238 minutes long (4 HOURS!!!) I love every minute of it.  And it’s not just Gone With The Wind, there are a lot of older movies that I really like.  I loved Arsenic And Old Lace.  I think it is still one of the best movies of it’s kind.  I love Some Like It Hot, though more recent than the others I’ve referenced here, it is still a great movie.  Then there are the holiday classics like White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life.  I love the old actors, the old writing, and old sets and the way the movies were made.  It was perfect!  I don’t have to LOVE Casablanca to be a director, I just have to understand what I like and what I don’t like.  I DON’T like Casablanca.

There are so many old movies out there that are classics, but I don’t know them enough to know where to start looking for them.  I want to learn about these movies and learn from them.  History is history no matter what the subject matter is.  We all learn from history, our personal history, our family history, our national history, and even from the history of our hobbies.  So this is where I need your help.  To those of you who love movies and have particular favorites, I need you to tell me what you like and what you love, especially when it comes to old movies.  I’m excited to see more and to learn, and I love your feedback most of all so let me have it!!

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And the award for best movie of last weekend goes to…

I love movies.  I LOVE movies.  I have always loved watching movies and, over the course of my adulthood, I have become the type of movie hoarder who actually alphabetizes his DVD collection (I’m not the only one, there are others of you out there and you know who you are!).  Netflix has been a savior over the last couple of years because I have been able to see more movies without going bankrupt buying new DVD’s every Tuesday, only to dislike some movies.  Lately, DVD’s have been sitting on the table for weeks, unviewed.  So in order to get the most out of my Netflix subscription, and as I am beginning to take a behind-the-scenes interest in movies and how they are made; I have stepped up the number of movies I’ve been watching.

Last weekend I watched three movies, and I was quite surprised by which ones I enjoyed.  I watched Prince of Persia: Sands of Time with my daughter.  Even though it was a Disney movie, I did not go in with very high expectations of a movie that was developed from a game.  These concepts have let us all down in the past.  However, the movie was really pretty good.  The script was actually well thought out and well written, the computer effects were outstanding, and the cast of A-list actors really helped to create a really good movie.  I had gone into this thinking that it would be a cheesy movie and came out loving the movie and having some great family time with Breanna.  Following this, I had such high expectations thinking that my next movie, Robin Hood with Russell Crowe.

Robin Hood was not what I expected either, though not in a good way.  Robin Hood was an extremely long, very detailed oriented examination of the legend in which Ridley Scott attempted to incorporate history into the storyline.  It was a very interesting idea and if it were any other story, it might have worked.  Unfortunately, there were too many elements involved to make the whole thing work, and in the end, I was left with a very slow moving movie which was well-acted, but left me confused and dissatisfied.  Robin Hood was even slower than Oliver Stone’s Alexander, which was painful in itself.  While the movie is listed at 140 minutes, ten minutes over two hours, but it felt as if it were three hours long.  I can only sit patiently for that long if I’m watching giant blue aliens flying around on prehistoric dino-birds!! (Shout out to Avatar) If I was bored by the new version of Robin Hood, what would people who were expecting a newer version of Robin Hood: Prince of Theives going to think?  For me, I was just disappointed and oddly curious.  Robin Hood ends as though it were the beginning of legend, which makes me wonder if there is going to be a sequel.  I’ll have to look into it, but if this movie wasn’t good, then what chance do any sequels have?

So, in the end, movie weekend was quite surprising.  Being a screenwriter and a possible aspiring director, I learned a lot from these two movies.  Nothing can take the place of a well-written script.  You can have all the A-list actors in the world, but if the storyline isn’t there, you’ve got nothing!  There is a time limit on anyone’s attention, and there is only so much one director can try to do with a movie before he loses all interest in the movie altogether.  Both movies had a great list of actors.  Both movies clearly had a lot of money backing them.  In the end, storyline and understanding the audience wins out and so the award for last weekend’s movie goes to…

Disney’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. (wait for the applause to die down).

I’m interested in your input and advice.  What movies have you seen lately? What did you like and dislike and why? I’ll keep you updated as I continue watching.  I watched some interesting ones this weekend too, which we will talk about next time.

The E-N-D of NBC??

Until recently, my television seemed to be permanently set to NBC or an NBC program being re-run on a cable channel.  The thought that I would begin a slow migration away from NBC to CBS was unimaginable.  Where was I going to go?  NBC was the station which brought us Cheers, Golden Girls, The Cosby Show, only to lead us into Mad About You, Friends, Frasier, Will & Grace, and Seinfeld.  The station known for it’s comedy seemed to be unstoppable, but lately even its few remaining strong comedies such as The Office and 30 Rock have slowly been losing what made them special.  Shows that actually have strong, creative, and witty writing, like Parks & Recreation and Community have either been canceled or are holding on by a thread.  Instead, we’ve been left with either very strange reality shows or Outsourced!

And it’s not just sitcoms, the dramas have fizzled as well.  NBC was the station which brought us Law & Order, one of the longest running dramas in television history!  NBC was the home of Homicide: Life on the Streets, Hill Street Blues, Las Vegas, L.A. Law, St. Elsewhere, ER, Ed, and, oh yeah, The West Wing.  These are just some of the many shows that ran for season after season, making NBC so great.  Now I’m left with disappointment as NBC promotes ridiculous shows such as Heroes (which is FINALLY over), Chuck (really?), The Event, Mercy, Chase, Undercovers (which, thankfully, just got the boot) and a recent, painful, re-vamp of Knight Rider.  What makes matters worse, shows that actually had a decent storyline and good writing like Life, The Black Donnellys, Mister Sterling, and other such shows were barely given a chance to pick up a following.  What’s with the ridiculous supernatural storyline that NBC seems to be in love with lately?  Are they hoping that the same mysterious powers that their Heroes were blessed with will save their station?  Harsh?  Maybe, but I love television, I love watching good acting and good dramas.  I love LOL’ing and I’m seriously worried that the shows that I do love are going to vanish soon.

So, yeah, I know, CBS!  I couldn’t really believe it either.  My sister-in-law introduced me to the hilarity that is How I Met Your Mother (or as my wife and I call it, HIMYIM).  BTW; we pronounce it out, it’s too much to try to get the letters right!  It wasn’t long after that when I fell in love with my favoritest (yes, I know that’s not a word) of shows in all the world, The Big Bang Theory.  Since then, I’ve come to enjoy Rules of Engagement, but I’m having difficulty getting into Two and a Half Men, though I know it has quite a following.  It’s not just the sitcoms either, the dramas have been great too.  CSI, in all it’s iterations, has always been the gift that keeps on giving.  The reality television that is Survivor and The Amazing Race has never failed to keep me interested, and new shows such as Blue Bloods have me DVR’ing even on Fridays.  So what is it that CBS has right now that NBC doesn’t; good writing.

You know when you are watching a show you love, when it is just flying by and you are so hooked into the story that you forget you are even watching a television program until that annoying commercial pops in?  You know when you laugh so loud that you get that slightly annoyed look from your mate?  That’s good television.  NBC doesn’t have it lately, and I totally understand that not every show is going to be a hit, but right now, very little is a hit.  I watch Outsourced and I might laugh here and there, but what is painfully obvious is the fact that I know I’m watching a television show, and some of me is even waiting for the next commercial break.  That’s not good.  CBS has it too, $h*! My Dad Says is just painful.  That is hard for me to say, being a diehard Trekkie and all.  However, CBS has something great going for them, and NBC has lost what they had, and I’m worried that in their desperation, they are going to scuttle the few good shows they have in some misguided attempt to re-vamp the station.  Please, NBC, please don’t!  There is a solution, I promise.

There are good writers out there, with good ideas that can help bring back good shows and with them, the coveted ratings.  I should know, I’m one of them.  No, I’m not a sitcom writer, but I know there have to be many great ones just waiting for a chance.  If I, as one person, can have many great plans for dramas, then there must be hundreds of great shows that fly right over the desks of NBC exec’s and creative directors, and don’t even get noticed.  Please, NBC, slow down for a moment.  Look at the good things you’ve got, and promote them.  Look back at what works, and draw from it.  I haven’t given up on NBC, I just hope NBC hasn’t given up on itself!

Until next time…

(P.S.-My love of television and movies has me branching my blog out into new areas.  Your input is always welcomed, and for this particular blog, it is desired greatly!  I’m always interested in other point’s of view, even if it is just to tell me that I’m wrong.  I’m always looking for new shows to DVR and new movies to watch so send me your thoughts and feedback!)