Friday, February 23, 2007

The Top 14 Movies to Start a DVD Collection

It appears that a column I wrote several months ago is looking very accurate. If you look in the archives, you will see that back on July 29th, I had predicted that the low cost of producing dvds would eventually phase out the concept of video rental stores. However, now that I look back to that fateful column, I also inaccurately predicted that the girl in For Better or For Worse would reunite with her old boyfriend after the current guy dumped her. I did get the dumping part right however..

Last Wednesday’s snow storm combined with the upcoming Oscars inspired me to write today’s column - keep in mind that a snow day on Valentines Day means a lot of new babies are gonna be born mid November. Even though I went to work in the crummy weather.. I just couldn’t stay home and watch any more of that awful Anna Nicole Smith coverage.. Speaking of which, that Larry Birkhead guy is starting to look very very good.. even though watching him on the stand reminds me of Kato Kaelin…His sharklike lawyer Debra Opri has the makings of a big star the way she handles the proceedings and her nightly visits to Larry King.

Please raise your hand if you were at work Thursday watching the court coverage to make sure your computer’s live streaming ability would be ready for next month’s CBS NCAA Tournament online feed. You know who you are.. You’re the people who saw the lawyer faint on Thursday and yelled out “What the Fudge” and to paraphrase A Christmas Story… you didn’t say Fudge. Even though many have criticized the Judge for being a bit of a ham, you gotta give him credit for his instant diagnosis that the fainting lawyer had low blood sugar due to diabetes and insisted that HE buy the fainter some orange juice from the local vending machine! He's a Judge! He's a Doctor! He's a Philanthropist!

Meanwhile Howard K Stern is at the 14:59 mark for his 15 minutes of fame… with the last second ticking off when it turns out he is not the father of that baby. Amazingly the other Howard Stern’s popularity is gonna soar now that Sirius is merging with XM giving us the tantalizing realization that satellite radio will not make us choose between Howard on Sirius and the XM Major League Baseball Package .

The Valentines Day storm got me wondering about what movies I would watch during a long snow storm. And since a lot of people have been building up their dvd collections, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to use this week to list my Top 14 must have movies.. Here in no particular order, are the movies I would watch if stranded at home for a lengthy period of time.. or on a portable dvd player while stuck on a Jet Blue plane on a runway. By the way speaking of airlines, I would like to see if this stewardess who did the hoochie mcscoochie with Ralph Fiennes will ever appear at Career Day at the local high school. Lisa Robertson lost her job after checking into the airport bathroom with the actor, who was en route to a Safe Sex symposium! After joining the Mile High Club (Safe sex? Didn’t Ralph see Snakes on a Plane?) Robertson admitted to a newspaper that she later went back to his hotel room for several more go-rounds with Fiennes. The airline fired her because to paraphrase George Costanza, this type of behavior is frowned upon. I wonder if she will collect unemployment. .

Now time in no particular order for the list of dvds to watch on a stranded weekend….

We start with an Honorable Mention - Since this is about movies in my collection, I technically can’t include this film since it just came out and I haven’t bought it yet.. Therefore it gets honorable mention…. This week marked the release of THE PRESTIGE, the best movie of 2006 in my humble opinion. (See the November 7th column) It came out at the same time as the other magician movie The Illusionist, yet I found Prestige to be so much better and incredibly entertaining. As a matter of fact when I saw The Illusionist, I really didn’t like it at all.. finding the ending to be quite predictable…and incredibly overrated, yet many critics oddly favored it over The Prestige, and they both pulled in similar box office numbers.

1. Christopher Nolan showed his talents by directing The Prestige… but he first became a star with his fantastic MEMENTO. The movie which is told in reverse chronological order interspersed with a 2nd storyline that goes in regular order. This is mind boggling because its about a guy with no short term memory who doesn’t remember what just happened.. Nor does the viewer since the story is told backward! An absolute head scratching classic.

2. Speaking of head scratchers, M Night Shamalyan’s THE VILLAGE is extremely entertaining.. Even though I figured out the “surprise ending”. Nonetheless, its one of MNS’s better movies along with The Sixth Sense whose ending I also predicted… However I really did not like Lady in the Water. This is not to pick on Paul Giamatti…who was also in the Illusionist.. Heck his dad Bart Giamatti was a terrific guy and a great baseball commissioner.. But Lady in the Water was just sooo stupid.. it didn’t have any surprise twists, although it did have a few entertaining moments. The story was based on a fairy tale Shmalyan used to tell his kids - he shoulda stuck with Goldilocks.

3. Last year’s Oscar winner CRASH was accurately predicted in last years Oscar Preview column.. Hmmm.. Maybe I might have the right pick for this year too? Crash was one of 2 4 bladder movies in that July 29th column,….

4. THE GODFATHER , the other 4 bladder movie in that aforementioned July 29th column is a classic and is a good movie to kick off a streak of legends.

5. While we are on the classics.. Lets not forget THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Readers of this column may note a recent column where I proclaimed my dislike for musicals.. However I make an exception for this legendary film which has so many catchy toons. One rainy day on a singles weekend many years back, on a double dog dare, I went into a gazebo and started to sing.. “I am 16 going on 17..”. I also have informed Trophy Wife that when we have kids, they will be expected to say goodnight to dinner guests with…”Good Night, Farewell… We bid you all adieu.. To You, and you and you and you. Oh wait we’re supposed to raise them not to point. Hmmm….

6. Another one of my all time favorites is WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT. Despite amazing advances in computer technology no other film has come close when it comes to integrating live action with animation. I have to admit I have always been a big fan of this kind of movie since the days of Mister Limpett… but WFRR’s ability to utilize the character libraries of Walt Disney and Warner Brothers created some incredible moments. I was always amazed that this movie didn’t launch Christopher Lloyd into a huge movie career.

7. While we’re on the Taxi cast list.. RUNNING ON EMPTY with Judd Hirsch and the late River Phoenix are amazing in this movie about a family on the run. After seeing this movie, you can never listen to Fire and Rain by James Taylor the same way again after you hear the poignant way it is worked into this movie.

8. The oddest movie of the last few years has gotta be NAPOLEON DYNAMITE.. I can’t put my finger on it, but for some reason I think this movie is just fantastic. Between the internet chat room habits of Napoleon’s brother, and Uncle Rico’s obsession with his high school football team lost opportunity.. This has to be one of the strangest yet most entertaining movies in recent years. An absolute classic.

9. What? No Kevin Bacon movies yet? Well let’s add the great DINER -.. especially since it’s a gold mine for Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.. One of my all time favorites.. Its one of those movies that had a remarkable unknown cast that all turned out to end up with pretty impressive careers… sorta like the original Saturday Night Live. The writing and directing is amazing, especially the tense pre wedding football exam.. Everybody.. especially those of us in diner filled NJ has a diner buddy who would always try to mooch food like the Paul Reiser character in this legendary film..

10. THE RUNNING MAN - Richard Dawson’s performance as Damon Killian goes down in history as the all time classic villian.. Better than Darth Vader and Lex Luthor combined! This “futuristic” game show is a combination of Fear Factor, Survivor and Lost all rolled into one… and nobody ever ever thought that Dawson had the acting chops to turn in such an incredible performance. It definitely blocked out the usual lame-o acting by Governor Shwartzenegger.

11. After seeing all these serious movies.. How about some yuks with my choice for funniest movie ever? AIRPLANE is an absolute knee slapper and more than 25 years later people are still repeating their favorite lines from that comedy classic.

12. After that, the laughing continues with THERES SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, the movie that started Ben Stiller’s movie role. Besides giving away a single guys secret for maintaining composure during a date, it also had a lot of other crazy moments such as an oddball way to incorporate the background music into the movie.

13. The comedy triple header continues with AMERICAN PIE - another legend that changed my perspective of eating Apple Pie. The movie is quite juvenile, but it introduced MILF to day to day language- and included the character passionately moaning out "Stifler's Mom!". The movie is laugh out loud funny and gives me a chance to put a Eugene Levy film on the list.. even though he is much funnier in Best in Show which I don’t own. Nonetheless Band Camp kids will never live down the legacy of the Michele character who has gone on to have a decent career on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

14. PULP FICTION - I figure after watching 13 movies.. By the time I get to #14, I will have misplaced my watch and the remote.. more than likely in the couch cushions. No matter what stands out in your mind about this classic.. for me the most outstanding moment is when Bruce Willis’s character as a child gets a watch from his previously imprisoned dad who revealed a very interesting place to hide a watch when you’re behind bars. (See the legendary Newlywed Game answer for a clue to that location)

Now time for The Oscar Picks… No matter how you slice it the Best Actor this year has been Zachary Quinto from Heroes who was also on 24 in the 2003 season. His range as Sylar being the nasty villain to being “Mr. Nice Guy” is amazing… Here are the picks.

Wild Card Award 1 - The only one where Borat is nominated - Best Adapted Screenplay. I pick Borat.. Even though it was “ad-libbed”

Wild Card Award 2 - The only category where The Prestige and The Illusionist compete - Cinematography - I pick The Prestige.

Supporting Actor - Eddie Murphy

Supporting Actress - Rinko Kikuchi - tough role; she couldn’t speak!

Actor - Peter O’Toole…everybody was so impressed with Forest Whitaker’s Idi Amin… but I liked the guy from Homicide who played him in the Entebbe movie.

Actress - Helen Mirren for the Queen

Director - Martin Scorsese

Best Movie - The only one I saw - Little Miss Sunshine - yeah it’s a dark comedy but because it came out during the John Karr - Jon Benet Ramsey story, the whole premise of a kiddie beauty pageant makes it the scariest movie of 2006.

Now time for The Clip of the Week.. I love how the award losers are soooo gracious… Here is a clip from a recent award show featuring country singer Faith Hill…

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