Survive

The life that you live
Is not the life you wish to not have give
A minute, a second or hour of your time
As you start to lose your reason in the rhyme

Even if the pictures seem to fade
You see no progress from what is made
Yet you look beyond the black abyss
And think of all the chances you missed
You maintain hope for the next stage
To overcome this life’s threats venomous rage

But the point has come where destiny has a plan
Should you end it for all you can
You look outside the winter so cold
And wonder what life will be when your old
The experiences that would be gone in a single blast
Are now memories you want to last
So you drop your weapon and open the door
To head back to the world before

To conquer the land to be the person who cares
Someone to make a risk and take on dares
To be the better friend to those that surround
And give out love that has no sense or bound
Get out the door and let the outside light come around
As this moment destroying demons leads to another beginning
And notice that life is in fact worth living
Because if your suddenly your gone with every round going empty
Tears are to be shed and hearts break a plenty

But it is a good feeling to know your alive
And continue on to always survive

Universal Studios Hollywood Welcomes the ‘Year of the Horse’ as The Entertainment Capital of L.A Commemorates Lunar New Year

Universal Studios Hollywood Welcomes the ‘Year of the Horse’ as
The Entertainment Capital of L.A Commemorates Lunar New Year with Festive Decor
and a Special Mandarin-Speaking MEGATRON from Its
Acclaimed Thrill Ride, ‘Transformers:  The Ride-3D’

Lunar New Year Banner

Universal City, CA —Universal Studios HollywoodSM will be aglow in red as The Entertainment Capital of L.A. commemorates the Lunar New Year and “Year of the Horse” with a special Mandarin-speaking MEGATRON character from the blockbuster thrill ride, “Transformers™:  The Ride-3D,” who will interact and speak spontaneously with guests in Mandarin and English as part of the commemorative activities taking place from January 25 to February 9, 2014.

Activities will be situated in the all-new Universal Plaza – a grand courtyard at the heart of the theme park – which will be adorned in customary red Chinese lanterns hanging from above.  The polygon-shaped piazza will display a dozen lampposts, featuring the twelve zodiac animal signs and three specific characteristic attributes.

Providing fun-filled photo opportunities, Woody Woodpecker and his girlfriend Winnie will be dressed in traditional Chinese attire while the iconic “Marilyn Monroe” will wish good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity to guests.  Traditional Asian music will resonate throughout the piazza.

“As a world-class entertainment destination, we are very excited to bring one of the most celebrated holidays in Asian culture to our theme park, said Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood. “We’re pleased to share our unique Lunar New Year tribute with visiting guests from China and around the globe.”

A highlight of the event will be a special Mandarin-speaking MEGATRON, who will engage guests in conversation using progressive voice technology that is reflective of his evil DECEPTICON persona. MEGATRON – an ominous 12-foot-tall figure – is one of the stars of Universal Studios Hollywood’s award-winning thrill ride, “Transformers: The Ride-3D” designed to completely immerse guests in the 3D-HD action-packed world of the TRANSFORMERS.  In-park signage will notate times for the MEGATRON meet and greet.

Universal Studios Hollywood also caters to Chinese guests year round with its world-renowned “Studio Tour,” offering guests a behind-the-scenes look at an authentic movie and television production facility. Helmed by uniquely-trained Mandarin-speaking tour guides, the signature “Studio Tour” provides a front row seat to Hollywood movie-making with access to one of the largest film studios in the world.  Universal Studios Hollywood also features Mandarin-speaking associates within the theme park’s retail stores, and provides in-language park maps.

Universal Studios Hollywood, The Entertainment Capital of L.A.SM, includes a full-day, movie-based theme park and Studio Tour; the CityWalk entertainment, shopping and dining complex, the Universal CityWalk Cinemas and the “5 Towers” state-of-the-art outdoor concert venue.  World-class rides and attractions include the intense, award-winning ride, “King Kong 360 3-D” on the famed behind-the-scenes Studio Tour, the critically-acclaimed mega-attraction, “Transformers:  The Ride-3D,” “The Simpsons RideTM,” “Revenge of the MummySM—The Ride,” “Jurassic Park® —The Ride,” and the much anticipated 3D Ultra-HD movie motion-simulator adventure, “Despicable Me:  Minion Mayhem” opening in Spring 2014.

Serg Beret’s 30 Favorite Films Pt. 3: #10-1

And now the final part.

10. Once (2007), Directed by John Carney

The second to last film on this list I already talked to death about due to Film A Week, Once is a musical like no other taking the trappings of what we see in most musicals and deciding to say “no, let’s make this real and natural,” leading to a wonderful small experience. With a budget of only $160,000 (€130,000 for those in Europe), director John  Carney delivers on that promise to make a sweet experience.

Guy, played by Glen Hansard, meets Girl, played by Marketa Irglova, as the walk around Dublin, converse and make sweet music together. It’s a slice of life musical examining lost love, the end of relationship and the start of a possibly a new one through the power of song. The songs are all original with a soundtrack of great folk rock and even some moments of poppy vibes with the highlight being the Oscar-winning “Falling Slowly” as the two share an immediate connection and “The Hill” where Girl finally tells the story of what happen to her in love.

For the full review with reasons why and the whole soundtrack for you to listen to, head over to this link: Film A Week 10: Once (2007)

9. Shaun of the Dead (2004), Directed by Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright is the best director of modern genre cinema we have in modern cinema. Yes, I already said that in The World’s End review, but I wanted to say it again and Wright would be nowhere today without Shaun of the Dead. Even after watching his other features, his first effort still remains my favorite. The humor is still clever, the premise still works and the fact that zombies are still popular makes this film not so dated as other comedies out at the time.

Shaun, played by Simon Pegg, is a down-on-his-luck man working a crappy electronics job and living in a flat with his mate Ed, played by Nick Frost. After a devastating break-up with Liz, played by Kate Ashfield, Shaun wakes up one day to realize the dead have risen and now Shaun must save Liz, save his mom Barbara, played by Penelope Wilton, possibly kill his stepfather Phillip (sorry!), played by Bill Nighy, and head to the Winchester for a pint and wait for it to all blow over. It turns out it is easier said then done having to deal with the naive Diane, played by Lucy Davis, and the asshole with glasses David, played by Dylan Moran, coming along the journey with laughs had, blood everywhere and a great heart beneath it all.

Everything about this movie not only screams awesome, but blends the romantic comedy concept with zombie horror to a tee by making them work seamlessly together. The ensemble cast is terrific playing off each other with their personalities clashing against each other making for both moments of great humor and fantastic drama. If there is one thing Edgar Wright does well in his comedies, it is the human element which never gets overshadowed and helps make us care about the situation at hand.

One of my favorite scenes involves Shaun and David arguging over the situation of being stuck in the Winchester knowing they may be screwed, but then it go to the whacked out craziness of smacking down zombies while Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” starts to play. Shaun of the Dead is just plain fun with its heart in the right place and hitting the marks every great horror comedy should.

8. West Side Story (1961), Directed by Robert Wise

I like musicals. There. I know it is a crime as a man to like them, or even love them, but I really do and the musical I always come back to is West Side Story. I watched this film back in 5th Grade in order to give us an idea for storytelling in cinema. What I got was an experience in return that made me both happy and sad to see it in all its glory.

The film follows two star crossed lovers associated with local street gangs with Tony, played by Richard Beymer with vocals performed by Jimmy Bryant, as part of the white American gang the Jets and Maria, played by Natalie Wood with vocals performed by Marni Nixon, from the Puerto Rican gang known as the Sharks. These two decide to fall in love as Tony’s friend Riff, played by Russ Tamblyn, and Maria’s brother Bernardo, played by George Chakiris, start to assemble a brawl with Bernado’s girlfriend and Maria’s pal Anita warning Maria of the dangers of what she is causing. What this sets up is a musical filled with fantastic song that move the story along rather than interrupt it.

The score and music to this film is nothing short of perfection with the music of Leonard Bernstein and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim coming together to create classics with the romantic “Tonight,” the intimidating breakdown in “Cool” and a overture to die for that sets the tone of the film. It gives the film a more epic scope than it already has. Every performance is great with Natalie Wood’s Maria being a strong highlight going from the naive girl to a strong woman by the film’s end that is nothing short of brilliant. Yet, George Chakiris as Bernardo is pure awesome.

This guy comes off as not only a worried brother, but a strong leader and figurehead that has a cooler mindset than the hotheaded Riff. Maybe I am bias since it is based of Romeo & Juliet and Tybalt is my favorite Shakespeare character, but I digress. The dramatic moments that start to turn in the film’s second act is fantastic and makes me quite teary eyed by the twist on the source material it takes. West Side Story defines what Broadway musicals can do on the big screen and the impact it can create.

7. Up (2009), Directed by Pete Doctor

Pixar did something rare that no other animated film has done by making a whole audience shed tears within the first ten minutes and it is only something a great story can do. Up is a perfect animated film (even if #2 is my favorite) by setting up a great tale of adventure and reasons for the main character Carl, voiced by the great Ed Asner, to go on his quest to Paradise Falls filled with laughs and thrills for all.

78 year-old Carl Fredrickson is reeling from the loss of his wife Ellie and coping with the fact he may end up in a retirement home alone. Carl decides to live on the promise he had for Ellie to head to Paradise Falls to live out the rest of their lives together by turning his house into a flying one via balloons. As Carl enjoys his travel, he notices a young boy named Russell, voiced by Jordan Nagai, a Wilderness Exploer scout ready to help Carl on his adventure. What happens is a great comedy filled with a mysterious bird named Kevin, talking dogs like the hilarious Dug, voiced by Bob Petersen, dog fighting dogs (see what they did there?) and having to face Carl’s childhood hero, Charles Muntz, voiced by the incredible Christopher Plummer.

The beauty about Up is its nature to find comedy and action beneath Carl’s personal quest to find relief from his strife. It’s an adventure about having to deal with the loss of the one who had a grand adventure with you by conquering an unexpected new one. From the first ten minutes capturing the voyage of Carl and Ellie’s love is a beautifully crafted romance told in silence with the gorgeous score by Michael Giacchino accompanying this seamless and haunting montage. In fact, this part makes a part a little bit later in the film during on of Carl’s private moments all the more powerful. I cry even thinking about that scene and it gets me all the damn time with Carl having a realization that the reminder of his life may not be so bad.

The comedy is very old school with slapstick, visual gags and comic delivering on par with classic Disney shorts and Warner Bros. cartoons. One joke involving the dog alpha having a squeaky voice is, for lack of a better word, fuckin’ hysterical. Every time he came on screen, I was rolling with laughter. Russell is naive and a perfect foil to Carl’s straight man role making Russell the perfect companion for him along for the trip. Dug is fantastic by coming on screen as a bit of a dumb dog, but you just love him by the film’s end. This film is one of the best theater experiences I ever had with the 3D being spectacular and nothing has truly come close to it. It is an animated classic and a true cinematic classic in every way.

6. The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Directed by Frank Darabont

The Shawshank Redemption came out in the year I like to call the “Gamechanger of the ’90s” that was 1994. In fact, it is the third and final entry on this list from 1994 with Pulp Fiction and The Lion King before it, both game changers in terms of storytelling and animation for me, respectively. Shawshank changed the way I think of drama by telling a great tight-knit story through its strong connections, its ability to not shy away from the details and showing us the humanity behind each of the prisoner’s lives. It is a dark, but powerful film with moments that do have a light at the end of the tunnel.

Andy Dufense, played by Tim Robbins, is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and is sentenced to two life sentences at Shawshank State Penitentiary. From here, the life of Andy proves difficult which has him being assaulted by the leader of the gang of “Sisters,” dealing with the asshole guardsman including Bryon Hadley, played by Clancy Brown, and attempting to figure out how to get out of the hellhole. Luckily, Andy becomes pals with Ellis “Red” Redding, played by Morgan Freeman, who helps support Andy by providing tools for chess pieces, friendly advice for everything going on at Shawshank and a helping hand in some of Andy’s plans against Warden Samuel Norton, played by Bob Gunton. It plays out over a twenty year period, but does not feel like it takes twenty years to get to a conclusion.

The film is timeless and the feeling of time not really being quite known makes it that way. Darabont’s pacing and direction help deliver a story by highlighting the key moments in Dufense’s life rather than pad it out with needless scenes. Nothing feels wasted and everything seems essential to the plot at hand. The drama behind Andy’s harsh reality within the walls of Shawshank is heartwrenching yet triumphant. Andy somehow maintains his human nature and sense of hope despite the years that should have weighed him down. The scene where Andy provides music for the prison over the loud speakers in the form of an excerpt of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is brilliant showing that Andy can provide hope within everyone else, even if the warden is a prick about the whole ordeal.

The connections Andy makes through out are wonderful to from Red to Brooks, played by James Whitmore, to Tommy, Gil Bellows, are also fascinating by examining their hardships as well, making it all the more bittersweet when Brooks and Tommy have to leave Shawshank, either dead or alive. I watched this movie for the first time on a whim with my best friend Jerry in pure silence and it was the first time a film had ever done that to us. Even when we spoke, it was not about our lives, but about the film and the story. We held back tears from this film and it was a gorgeous experience. It moved me and my friend and it was worth it. Shawshank will make you experience drama like never before and that is one experience worth taking a chance on.

5. Star Wars [Episode IV: A New Hope in Later Releases] (1977), Directed by George Lucas

Anyone that knows me knew this was coming. I do not care if it is cliche, childish or frowned upon (fuck you George Lucas for ruining the legacy) to like Star Wars, but the film was not only the one of the precursor for the summer blockbuster, but also one of the first introduction to science fiction everyone has (even if it is more science fantasy than fiction). Picking one out of the original trilogy is hard, but out of all the ones that I watched the most, I always go back to the first one. The Empire Strikes Back is brilliant in its own right, but Star Wars started this whole story and worth mentioning.

The story (as if you need a refresher by now) follows Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill, wanting to be a Jedi like his father before him. Luke wants more out of life and wants to help the Rebels lead the charge against the evil galactic empire and the Imperials lead by Darth Vader, played by David Prowse as the body and voiced by James Earl Jones, and possibly rescure a princess named Leia, played by Carrie Fisher. As Luke ventures off after the death of his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, he comes across Old Ben Kenobi aka Obi Wan Kenobi, played by Alec Guinness, who know Luke’s dad personally during the Clone Wars. Obi and Luke, with trusty droids R2-D2, played by Kenny Baker, and C-3PO, played by Anthony Daniels, team up with bounty hunter Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford, and his partner Chewbacca, played by Peter Mayhew, in the Millennium Falcon and…well, you know the rest.

It’s a fantasy adventure at its finest, yet now in space, but delivers a fantastic space opera. The effects at the time are great and hold up, which is shocking that George Lucas would go back and put CGI in to replace it because it looks just fine (not that I mind the Special Editions, I watch them whenever they are on television). The characters are all likable with Luke’s naive yet hopeful sense of life, Leia’s strong ambition underneath the tragedy of her planet getting destroyed, Han’s dry cool nature and wit, Obi’s wise old man role and Vader’s dark and always looming presence. It is a nice small simple adventure that happens to be a grand one at best.

It never tries to be more than it should or be better than anything out there in cinema, yet it decides to entertain with a not-so complex tale (where the prequels, you know, fucked up on) and gives focus more on the character’s journey. The action is great fun with all the spaces battles you want, blaster shooting and even a quick calm and quiet lightsaber duel (where, once again, the prequels fucked up on, but I digress). Lucas’ knows how to direct action and grand set-pieces without wasting a single frame.  Star Wars may be seen as a nerd franchise now, but back then, everyone loved Star Wars and it was event. Over the year, the popularity has diminished due to Lucas screwing his franchise over and now Disney has a hold of the rights to the franchise, which is a nice change of pace. Star Wars’ legacy is unmatched and we will always have the first film to start off the craze.

4. A Hard Day’s Night (1964), Directed by Richard Lester

I love The Beatles with their music that ranged from classic pop sounds, rhythm and blues, folk and psychedelia. I love every member from the soul of John Lennon, the spirit of George Harrison, the heart of Paul McCartney and the drummer that is Ringo. The fact that the Fab Four decided to make a film is spectacular and luckily, that film is comedic faux-documentary joy of A Hard Day’s Night with all the fantastic music of the group and the zany craziness they come across waiting to start their concert.

The Beatles, which are Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Geroge Harrison and Ringo Starr, head out to London in order to perform a concert. the Beatles are confined to a hotel by their managers Norm and Shake, played by Norman Rossington and John Junkin respectively, but of course they are having on of it and go off on their own adventures. Paul has to deal with his villain and real clean mixer of a Grandfather, played hilariously by Wilfrid Brambell, Geroge gets into a modeling agency on accident, Ringo tries to find himself in the concept of “parading” alone and John is being a dry sarcastic smart ass with the mind of a child. They rehearse with the overbearing television director, played by Victor Spinetti, deal with press by mocking them and not caring and run a muck.

It plays out more like a slice of life than anything and it is beautifully done. Director Richard Lester and writer Alun Owens capture The Beatles in a neat time capsule them just casually going about their day. As actors, The Beatles are not bad and naturally fit in with the others. We know they are playing themselves, but during some moments when jokes have to be delivered like a professional, they hit the mark just right. Ringo actually comes out as one of the best among the group due to having the most character to him in terms of plot as we see him go from the butt of the joke to a sympathetic hero.

The music is incredible as the music comes from, well, A Hard Day’s Night. It fits the tone of the film and filled with classics such as the title song as the boys run away from fans with George falling flat on his face, “Can’t Buy Me Love” as the boy escape to have fun outside in the field and “If I Fell” as John sings his heart out with George falling…again (seriously George, what the hell?). It is The Beatles at their finest in their early years by balancing both folk vibes and pop sounds and remains my favorite album by them outside of this film. A Hard Day’s Night is a brilliant look at the boys from Liverpool in their prime of youth and a delightful comedy I always put on in a good mood.

3. Back to the Future (1985), Directed by Robert Zemeckis

As a child of a mother who was a teenager in the ’80s, I assume it was basic birthright to see Back to the Future and enjoy the zany journey of Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, getting stuck in 1955 and having to deal with the aforementioned back to the future situation with his pal Doc Brown, played by the always magnificent Christopher Lloyd. It is one of the many marvels of ’80s cinema that made me love films of that decade and stands the test of time with quick pace, humor and being a great story.

In 1985, Marty McFly is a slacker teenager with a great girl named Jennifer, played by Claudia Wells (suck it, Elizabeth Shue), and pals around with his scientist friend. One day around 1 am, Marty and Doc are at the Twin Pines Mall testing out his latest invention of the Time Machine in the form of the DeLorean because according to Doc, “If you are going travel, why not travel in style?” It turns out the invention works, but Doc is shot and killed causing Marty to go back in time to 1955 meeting his mother Lorraine Baines, played by the gorgeous Lea Thompson, who starts coming onto him and his dopey father George McFly, played by Crispin Glover, who peeps on Lorraine. This causes a rift in the space-time continuum as Biff, his father’s bully played by Thomas F. Wilson, starts to come after him for Lorraince. Marty must sort out the mess he created by convincing the Doc of that time to help him head back to the future and get his dad to fall for his mom. What you get is the perfect film for any teenager in the ’80s.

This movie is just fun as hell and that is what cinema is all about. In fact, this and the last two films on the list all provide the perfect escape from reality in my opinion, but I am getting ahead of myself. Zemeckis’ direction and style is fast and quick, but does have quiet moments of subtlety when the story calls for it during the scenes between Marty and Doc. Zemeckis makes the unlikely friendship between these two real and it is perfect. Marty sees Doc as the father he never had and likewise with Doc seeing Marty more as a son. It is a great relationship that cannot be match. I also love seeing Marty interact with the world of 1955 through conversing with his parents knowing they are know in the age where he can understand them and getting used to the atmosphere of the simpler time while still making some references during that time no one will get. I love when Marty invents skateboarding a little too early, but also makes Chuck Berry inadvertently find his sound by playing “Johnny B. Goode.”

As luck would have it, this film lead to a trilogy with Back to the Future Part II, which was picked as the first film for Film A Week. Honestly, I enjoyed the entire trilogy and love the hell out of it for the humor that writer Bob Gale and Zemeckis brought through out it (and yes, I am including Part III in that statement even if it is more hit-and-miss). Back to the Future makes the concept of time-traveling timeless and a fun one and that is worth going where we do not need any roads for.

2. Sleeping Beauty (1959), Directed by Clyde Geronimi

Yes, I spent a whole Film A Week proclaiming my love for this film and I cannot lie, I wish I didn’t. Since I am nice, I will post what I thought here from that review rather than make you click a link.

From Film A Week 24: Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty ranks up there with Fantasia and Snow White in my mind when I think of Walt Disney masterpieces. As a kid, when the first sequence started after the classic storybook opener, I knew I was in for a marvelous experience and it did not disappoint.

The story starts with the king and queen of a unnamed kingdom giving birth to the new princess, Aurora, named after the dawn. As the kingdom celebrates, three fairies by the name of Flora, Fauna, and Merriwhether bare gifts to the newborn with Flora baring the gift of beauty and Fauna baring the gift of song. During Merryweather preparation to give a gift, the evil fairy, Maleficent, interrupts to deliver death upon Aurora at age sixteen, if she should prick her hand on the spinning wheel. Merryweather counteracts by baring a gift of making the death become sleep that can be cured with the power of true love’s kiss. The rest a majority of people reading this probably already know.

The film itself is a piece of art capturing the feel that you are watching a medieval tapestry come to life as it goes beyond the regular aspect ratio of previous films to a fully colored and fantastical Technirama widescreen presentation, adding more depth and detail to the various landscapes and locations. The colors are lush and vibrant and pop in every scene, even the dark scenes involving Maleficent. The use of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet as the score bring the brilliance and wonderment of the simple story to life, even giving words to the Waltz with the gorgeous ‘Once Upon a Dream’. The characters are design with love and passion, from the beauty of love that is Aurora, the hilarious yet caring fairies, the handsome hero in Prince Phillip and the elegance and grace of evil of Maleficent.

The film truly shines throughout from the forest sequence as the two lovers meet, the sleeping spell being placed upon the great kingdom, and the most climax with Prince Phillip racing on his gallant steed to defeat the wretched Maleficent as she unleashes the powers of hell in its full glory in the form of the mythical dragon in a battle of ultimate good versus evil. Sleeping Beauty plays like a true cinematic experience, harnessing all the powers of animation and film to make the ultimate fairy tale film. Maybe I’m in the minority who thinks very highly of this film as if I was bringing it up alongside the greats of The Godfather, Citizen Kane and Casablanca, but to me, I feel it deserves to be seen as what it is: An absolute classic with all the majesty of a ballet and all the wonder only Disney animation can provide.

And the Number One Favorite Film is…

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Directed by Steven Spielberg

Only once on this site did I briefly mention this as my favorite film of all time and it was in the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie review. I love the hell out of Harrison Ford and I love the hell out of Steven Spielberg, but put them together and you make smagic in the great start of the Indiana Jones series, Raiders of the Lost Ark. This movie is what I think captures everything I love about cinema and what it brings to the table. It captures the fun escape of adventure, the drama of emotions as Indy fights for his life, the romance between him and Marion, but I am getting a little too ahead of myself.

Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. aka Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford, is out in Peru getting an idol from a temple (one not of Doom of course), until he face the booby traps and confronts his rival Belloq, played by Ivan Ooze himself, Paul Freeman, who promptly takes it. Did I mention this is not even have much to do with the main plot of the film? It is just to introduce the tension between the two characters. The adventure truly begins when he gets word from Marcus Brody, played by Denholm Elliot, that the Nazis are looking for his old friend Abner Ravenwood to find the Ark of the Covenant in order to gain occult artifacts and powers (not going to lie, that is pretty badass). Indy heads over to Napal to find Ravenwood, but finds Marion, played by the beautiful Karen Allen, Ravenwood’s daughter who joins indy after her tavern gets raided and destroyed. They head off to Cairo to encounter that bastard Nazi in glasses named Arnold Toht, played by Ronald Lacey, the asshole Belloq and hang out with the always-a-delight Sallah, played by John Rhys-Davies in order to recover the artifact and send it back to be examined by top men. Who exactly? Top. Men.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a joyride and a head rush that is beyond perfect. Spielberg not only made an ambitious action romp, but quite possibly a masterpiece (Schindler’s List is still his masterpiece, though). On terms of why it is my favorite is because it manages to get everything into a neat package in a good pace. The action never dulls, but does break when it needs to in order to forward the story. Hell, even just talking about what the artifact can do and the mystery of where it is is exciting as a bit of a history nerd I am. The set-pieces in here are to die for with the great opening in the temple and the unbelievable chase where Indy is hanging onto truck and knocking guys out just to save the day. If I had to go into detail, we would be here all day.

The chemistry between Marion and Indy is priceless as Marion seems to both love how amazing this man is, but would turn in a single second to kick the living shit out of him. Marion is one of my favorite women in film for this reason by proving that women are better if not greater than whatever a man is capable of. The villains are fantastic by always retaining the idea they can have the upper hand. After all, we are dealing with Nazis here, one of the greatest evils to ever walk the face of the damn Earth. The story is great too by taking the old school route with adventure and focusing on the mystery behind what is going on, rather than just focusing on the action (young writers in Hollywood, take note). It tells an epic tale that stretches across from Asia to Africa and it is massive how much is done. Of course, Harrison Ford is such a dynamo in this role that he makes it with his smug charm, his intelligence and his power to hold himself in a fight all for the sake of history and research. Raiders of the Lost Ark is perfect and I enjoy every minute of it and remains my favorite film of all time.

SEE YOU BACK HERE ON JANUARY 25th

Serg Beret’s 30 Favorite Films Pt. 2: #20-11

Let’s not waste any time, here is part two.

20. Drive (2011), Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

One of the current film on my list, Drive is the epitome of cool that captures a dark Los Angeles mystery with stylistic direction and terrific performances. Nicolas Winding Refn makes a dark and brooding effort with interesting dark twists and a killer soundtrack, this film is a throwback to the day of classic noir and chase films.

Following the character simply known as Driver working as a mechanic alongside Shannon, played by Bryan Cranston, by day and taking getaway drivers job in between to get a steady income by night. Driver comes across a new woman living in his apartment building named Irene, played by Carey Mulligan, developing a possible romance. Yet, Driver meets with her husband just out of prison who gets into some trouble and must rob some cash to help him out, but is caught when the heist goes wrong into the dangerous web involving mobsters Nino, played by Ron Pearlman, and the big boss Bernie Rose, played by Albert Brooks in a surprisingly dark turn.

From the first time I watched this film, I was skeptical at first by the concept, yet the execution by Winding Refn is spectacular. The film is a slow burn of a picture taking it’s time to establish the cold dark world of the mysterious driver and what can happen when shit hits the fan when you least expect it. The performances are great with Gosling taking advantage of the small amount of dialogue by taking more of the emotional route. Of course, this performance is out done by Albert Brooks who is an intimidating prick throughout, even if he give a rare chuckle or two out of it. The music and score is terrific with Cliff Martinez creating a John Carpenter-esque score against the elceltic (albeit a bit hipster-ish) soundtrack with selection like College’s “A Real Hero” serving as the Driver’s main theme. Drive is a modern classic that stands on its own in a world of blockbusters and remakes.

19. Big Fish (2003), Directed by Tim Burton

If you can probably guess by the first part of the list, I am a sucker for a great fantasy film and a great love story. Tim Burton got on board to direct Big Fish after Steven Spielberg dropped out, yet I cannot picture another director taking on this one because, to me at least, this is Burton’s signature masterpiece. Burton put his heart into this one with not only delivering his trademark sense of fantasy and wonder, but a film with terrific performances and a beautiful tale to tell.

After three years of not seeing his father due to his “tall tales,” Will Bloom, played by Billy Crudup, returns home to take care of his dad Edward Bloom, played by Albert Finney, as his health is failing and is determined to find the truth behind the stories his father told him as a youth. Through the curiosity of Will’s wife Josephine, played by Marion Cotillard, Edward’s tall tales come to life with young Edward, played by Ewan McGregor, going on an extraordinary adventure with countless characters, meeting the love of his life in the form of Sandra Templeton, played by both Alison Lohman in the stories and Jessica Lange in present day, and his many odd jobs throughout. The nature of Edward’s stories not only make the simple thing larger than life, they exist in a world of their own.

Burton’s direction working with a tight-knit screenplay by John Agusut is superb by capturing the emotion of Edward’s journey and the disconnect between Will and Edward. It’s stunning to see such a film come from a director known for his dark and gothic nature, but the beauty is in how much it stems from classic Burton and sometimes going away from the typical is a great thing. The performances in here are nothing short of amazing with Ewan McGregor as the charming young Edward and Albert Finney as the older being on the same level and giving a weight to the character, both in the fantasy realm and in the reality that he lives in now. The story is a fascinating one and gets me every time, especially toward the end where I do cry as I think about the relationship between myself and my father. Big Fish is a beautiful fairy tale come to life in the best way possible.

18. Fight Club (1999), Directed by David Fincher

Out of boredom and curiosity, I caught this film on TV going “Fight Club sounds like a cool title. Nothing but fighting through out? Let’s do this.” What I got was something that everyone got which was a pleasant surprised. It’s charmingly dark thriller that is very light on comedic moments and focuses on the self-destruction of humanity within someone by how far they are willing to go.

The Narrator, played by Edward Norton, comes across a man named Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt, and they form a fight club. The rest of the story goes int so many dark twisted places that have probably been spoiled by now. From the terrorist organization they create to the evenings with having nothing but pure sex with Marla Singer, played by Helena Bonham Carter, to the now infamous ending, everyone knows this film like the back of their hand by this point. SPOILER ALERT: Tyler Durden is The Narrator and he has been in his mind the whole time. The journey to these twists are interesting and engaging to watch.

Over the years, David Fincher has become a favorite director of mine by taking his time to tell the story and give characters depth. Fincher has a keen sense of pacing and development that helps makes his film have staying power and in Fight Club, he perfects it with phenomenal direction of the chaos going on throughout the film making The Narrator’s former bland world become this downward spiral going down before him. By now, anyone who has seen this film knows that Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are brilliant in this film and, yes, I am part of that group as well. Yet, I always felt Edward Norton’s portrayal was better than Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden. We get the time to know his perspective and know his struggle against the bizarre nature of Tyler Durden, making him not only a great audience surrogate, but makes us trust him enough to make the twist work so well. Fight Club is one club worth becoming a member of.

17. The Lion King (1994), Directed by Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff

Yes, I know a majority of people consider this overrated and not that great of a film (aka online video reviewers), but yet, I love The Lion King for what it is. The king of all 2D animated films (money wise anyway) is a grand epic filled with drama, humor and an unique variation on the Disney musical formula. It’s a neat retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that almost comes close to be just as complex while retaining the fun of Disney we all watch their animated films for.

The story about the rise and fall of Simba, voiced by Matthew Broderick, and his kingdom at the hands of his bastard uncle Scar, voiced with fiendish ease by Jeremy Irons, after killing his father Mufasa, voiced by James Earl Jones, is now a modern tale that everyone has to known. Hell, I think expected right out of the gate of birth that you have to subject your child to this film in order to love it. As with every Disney film that came out during the Disney Renaissance, The Lion King knows for a fact that it wants to engage as well as entertain the audience.

The animation in this film is stellar with grand landscapes beautifully drawn capturing the epic savanna surrounding Pride Rock to the beautiful oasis of Timon and Pumbaa’s hideaway. In fact, the highlight of animation is at the beginning during “Circle of Life,” giving the grand tone to the film at hand. The music is fantastic with Tim Rice and Elton John giving their all into the musical aspects, but the score by Hans Zimmer outdoes their work with use of chorus and creating a heavy atmosphere that help the story become more than what it should be. It makes the struggle of Simba all the more engaging and the performances are great with the aforementioned Jeremy Irons as Scar being the main highlight. It’s a classic through and through and a part of our vast circle of life for ages to come.

16. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Directed by Frank Capra

The oldest film on this is list is arguably one of the greatest films ever made. Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life is a delightful film that holds a very special place in my heart, not only due to the personal struggle of George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, but how much I relate to how he feels. Often considered a Christmas classic, this film goes beyond that sub-genre it was pigeonholed into to become timeless.

As many known, George Bailey is ready to kill it quits from life by offing himself off the local bridge at Bedford Falls, but the heavens say “Screw that, you ain’t dying tonight” and send down Clarence, played by Henry Travers, to help him see how life would be like without him. Before that could happen, the heavens tell the entire story of George Bailey’s life and just how great a life it is, even if George doesn’t realize it. George focuses on the negative aspects such as Mr. Potter, played by Lionel Barrymore, coming in to take over the town and scam people, the fact he can never leave town due to everyone’s reliance on him and his marriage and family life that weighs him down. Of course, in the end, he knows it is all worth the struggle because everyone cares for him.

This movie got me through some rough times, like with films soon to follow on part three of this list, by helping me see my own life as more than what it is. I suffered through depression and did have thoughts about offing myself, not realizing how precious life truly is and that one day, every obstacle that came my way would lead to a grander and brighter future. It is also something everyone can see themselves in as down on their luck in the rough patch of their lives and Stewart’s portrayal of the “everyman” is perfect as Bailey’s strives for the perfect life while getting knocked down a couple of pegs. The film provides a great story and a fascinating window into the reality of life, even if the supernatural elements do come into play a little to late in the film.

15. Gorjira a.k.a. Godzilla (1954), Directed by Ishiro Honda

This is another one of those films I talked about at length on this site beforehand (as with a few others on the list), so I will keep this one very brief. Gojira, born from the remnants of atomic radiation that plagued the coast of Japan, comes to town and pratically destroys everything. It is up to a salvage ship captain named Hideto Ogata, played by Akira Takarada, the father of his girlfriend Emiko, Dr.Kyohei  Yamane, played by Takashi Shimura, and former lover of his girlfriend Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, to stop the monster.

It’s a dark convincing look at the nature of paranoia, the dangers of the atomic age & technology as it advances and the aftermath of tragedy when it strikes. The effects work is remarkable for its time and the performances all around are great and take the subject matter seriously. If you want to find out why I like it, head over to this link, Film A Week 23: Gojira a.k.a. Godzilla (1954).

14. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2009), Directed by Momoru Hosoda

Ever seen a film that encapsulates all the beautiful nature of young romance as well as give an interesting take on the concept of time travel? No? Well, then look no further than the beautiful anime masterpiece known as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Momoru Hosoda takes the awkwardness of the high school years to set the scene for young Mokoto as she discovers her ability to leap through time after falling on an object granting her this mysterious gift.

Mokoto uses her newfound power to not only arrive early to class or have more time to study, but from being in a situation that proves to be too much for her to handle and avoiding the advances of her friend Chikari. Soon, Mokoto learns the consequences of disrupting time as she soon finds that she is limited on how many times she can jump back in time. This causes Mokoto to try and make wise decisions that leads to a thrilling twist in the story that not only teaches her a powerful lesson, but shows that she might be missing out on what is important.

The animation in this is beautiful as they manage to make a gorgeous canvas of a small city and town with the limited budget that is on par with the animation done by Studio Ghibli. When it comes to anime films, the animation is secondary (in most cases) to the story and the story in this is perfect. Mokoto is naive at what surrounds her and refuses to try to be a part, yet she has to stop and look around once in awhile or she might miss what is there. Sure, it’s a lesson Ferris Bueller taught, but this film exceeds it. The romance, though simple, is there with Chikari really wanting to date Mokoto while we root for him to succeed, which makes the twist a bit of a bittersweet one. If you have yet to see it, I strongly recommend a look at a very underrated gem.

13. From Russia With Love (1963), Directed by Terrence Young

One Bond film on the list simply is not enough. Whereas On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a great action romp, has a great romance and great performances with a lame villain plot, From Russia With Love is a perfect action romp, has a perfect romance and perfect performances with a great villain plot. As this film has been reviewed before on this site, I immediately feel in love with it after watching for 007 in 23 to the point that after all was said and done, I watched this film about three more times because it is that perfect.

Sean Connery is as grand as ever alongside the sultry and seductive Tatiana Romanov, played by the tremendously gorgeous Daniela Bianchi, as the two seem to have a wondrous chemistry. The scene in which she is in bed with nothing on under a sheet is more attractive as it leads the mind to wander and entrances us just as she entrances Bond. The villains are great with Rosa Klebb, played by Lotte Lenya, being a crazy operative for the notorious SPECTRE and the hulking man that is Red Grant, played by Robert Shaw. It also takes the time to create suspense and is a slow burn compare to other Bonds. It is closer to Casino Royale than Goldfinger in many respects.

If you want to read the full review as to why this movie is one of my favorites, head over to this link: 007 in 23: Assignment #002- From Russia With LoveIt’s one Bond film that is sure not to disappoint.

12. Pulp Fiction (1994), Directed by Quentin Tarantino

A majority of people pick this as their favorite Tarantino film as it defined the ’90s era of filmmaking as a whole with its slick approach, non-linear story that grabs a hold and never lets go, insanely creative and witty dialogue and a soundtrack that is timeless. Pulp Fiction kicks ass in every way, shape and form.

The story mainly follows Vincent Vega, played by John Travolta, and Jules Winnfield, played by Samuel L. “Motherfucker” Jackson, as they are out to retrieve a briefcase for their boss Marcellus Wallace, played by Ving Rhames, while coming across  characters like Marcellus’s wife Mia, played by Uma Thurman, and prizefighter Butch Coolidge, played by Bruce Willis. The non-linear path the film takes makes for a narrative that, while split apart, comes full circle in the end.

What can I say about this film that has not been said before? Honestly, I really do not know. It’s still a tight-knit film, a great performance piece from all the actors and remains Quentin’s calling card from this day. The dialogue is heavy with odd references and such dry wit that every dark thriller in the ’90s. The narrative structure, while nothing new, seems fresh under the direction of Tarantino creating a modern noir classic. The soundtrack that acts as the film’s score is still awesome from Dick Dale’s “Miserlou” to Kool & the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” gets you in the groove outside of the film from just how many choices in genres it has. All in all, Pulp Fiction is classic American cinema and is a masterpiece of “cool.”

11. The Dark Knight (2008), Directed by Christopher Nolan

I hate falling into cliches as I hate the concept of being a cliche, but with that said, if I have to fall into a cliche, then putting The Dark Knight
on this list is an exception to those cliches. Director Christopher Nolan takes the classic Batman characters we love and make a dark thriller out of it without totally losing the fun we expect from a comic book film.

When crime starts to take turn for the worse in Gotham, Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale, steps up his game to take down new villain The Joker, played by Heath Ledger, who is running the gambit on local crime bosses in order to test Batman. Bruce also has to come to terms with his vigilantism and heroism when his former love Rachel, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, comes back on the scene dating Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart, running for district attorney in hopes to give Gotham they deserve. The personal life of Bruce and the hero life of Batman crash into a collision course as he tries to figure out himself and his own being as the Caped Crusader.

Not only is The Dark Knight one of Nolan’s best work, but it is the best comic book film I have ever seen (next to The Avengers of course) that I went back to the cinema I enjoyed more than once. The lengths and twists taken to the characters that have populated pop culture was fascinating as it truly captured the struggle Bruce faces as him and Batman are one in the same. The dark turns are reminiscent of some of the best Batman stories with fantastic performances as Bale stepping up to make the Bat his own, but the best comes from the villains. Ledger’s take on The Joker is brilliant by making him the biggest sociopath who enjoys seeing people get harmed as a joke and the tests in humanity he gives his victims. Eckhart as Harvey Dent is great as both the white knight who promises hope and in his turn (Spoiler to a character from 1942) as Two Face to capture the fall to grace into a cold blooded menace. The film is nothing short of fantastic and knows the true essence of Batman, but you probably know that by now after it made over $1 billion worldwide.

STAY TUNED FOR PT. 3: #10-1

Site Update: Three new series starting Spring 2014 & a call for new writers

Hi, everyone. The past couple of week’s have been quite odd as I am trying to figure what to do for this site and where it should go. This question kept creeping up a lot during Film A Week of what is next on the site. Today, for you readers, I want to reveal some new series for the site as well as content I am in the works on. Now, just to let you know, a majority of this may not go into effect until mid-Febuary or the final week of January at the earliest. 

FriendlyFilmP
Coming Soon

 

First off, the Friendly Film Perspectives series is a new commentary series that me and my pal Matthew Reveles came up with and it is in the testing phase right now thanks to the pilot episode on December 25th with Die Hard as the test feature. 

 It is not a review series, which is a breath of fresh air on this site filled with countless reviews on film. The next episode of that series may be in February, but it is up in the air. We are working on improving audio for when other friends step in to join on a commentary. This series is more focused on watching film, having others download our commentary and hearing what we have to say to create a friendly experience.

 

Fort Geekly
Coming February 1st

 

Fort Geekly, a bi-weekly series, will be dedicated to all things geek related. This idea was actually the brain child of Jesus Figueroa from ThisFunktional.com after some conversation, so he gets full credit for even thinking of it.

The series will be more a retrospective series in the same vein of Here You Leave Today…A Disneyland Retrospective I wrote two years ago. It will give focus on the legacy of a certain series that has grown big in the world of geekdom. The reason that it is bi-weekly is to focus on my educational & personal life as that has been given a lot of emphasis at this point in my life. It helps fit my new schedule and the challenges that come in the way. 

Also, the first post is on the modern series of Doctor Who, so be prepared.

 

BackToTheDrawingBoardFantasiaTease
Coming Late February

 

Remember last April in Film A Week all about animation? Did you know that was a test run for Back to the Drawing Board? No, of course you did not. Me and my sister have had two years of planning behind this and we are ready to make it realize for the first time. The problem is that we both have very busy lives, so this series may have an odd schedule of posting.

The series will focus on animation on the big screen and small screen, the controversy of animation in the mind of the public and even give some insight on foreign animation (yes, that also mean anime for those who love anime). 

 

Along with these new series are more poetry, lyrics and personal ramblings that have been absent to let off steam. I also want to focus on bringing in new writers to share their ideas and content. I would love to have new writers step in not only on these three series, but to contribute some stories of fiction, poetry and even personal ramblings. I rather the site go from being just one person into expanding to something grander with more people. I love working with others and would appreciate more contribution.

That is all the updates for now. See you all soon on these new series.

-Sergio Berrueta

Serg Beret’s 30 Favorite Films Pt. 1: #30-21

The New Year has dawned upon us and the site must go on to strive with a new series and original content, but before any of that, I want to do something I have not done in a long while. What is that something? Share a little insight on myself and what I love. What better place to dive into than what films I loved to return and revisit. I am not going to try and be pretentious with these films nor try to attempt to impress the reader with choices as these choices are not the “greatest films or all time,” but rather the films I loved and admire.  Film is about escaping into a new experience and these films help do that just right, at least, in my opinion. Just consider this the epilogue to Film A Week before I move on to bigger projects.With that said, here are 30 of my favorite films, part one.

30. Jurassic Park (1993) Directed by Steven Spielberg

 As a kid, I was practically in love with dinosaurs. These marvelous creatures that did not exist for millions of years where on my mind as I watched We’re Back: A Dinosaur Story and The Land Before Time religiously. It got to the point that my stuffed animal I slept with was a brontosaurus from a claw machine I affectionately called Little Foot, which I still have a love to this very day. So when I saw Jurassic Park on video (I was one when it came out in theatres), you can probably guess my reaction…I was fuckin’ scared.

Seriously, the first five minutes freaked me the hell out, but I stuck with it and loved it. For me as a kid, seeing what I loved come to life on screen was nothing short of awesome with the T-Rex chase being the ultimate thrill and making raptors invade the kitchen one hell of a terrifying scene. As I got older, I fell in love with the story and how serious they take the tale. I eventually read the original novel by Michael Crichton and this film adapts what is needed to be adapted and leaves out some parts that would not have worked on screen (or got saved for Jurassic Park III, an underrated entry in the series). Hell, it even saved Dr. Ian Malcolm from utter despair with Goldblum having a blast in his role.

Spielberg knocks it out of the park (pun intended) by creating a world that was both terrifying and marvelous while showing the dangers of new technology and man’s misunderstanding of how it works. I recently saw this film this year in 3D twice, one at a press screening and the other time I took my little brother as he is going through “Dino-mania” as well. I’m impressed that the film works so well in 3D by having moments where I actually jumped out of my seat. I never got to see it in the theater, so I felt like a child all over again hearing the T-Rex roar loud and proud in the cinema was sheer joy and, yes, gave me have a huge smile rather than fear.

29. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Directed by Alfonso Cuaron

The Harry Potter series is not only one series of books I admire to this very day, but the films have been a part of my life as well. From reading the first book to seeing the first film, I was always going to love this series, but the series really hit its pinnacle with Prisoner of Azkaban. For those who have the book, you would know it’s kind of a short read and the story seems to be more of a side venture even if it has crucial story to the main series’ plot. The film see this concept and makes a film that actually could standalone for anyone who has never seen a Harry Potter feature.

Writer Steve Kloves, writer of every film in the series (save for Order of the Phoenix), put a ton of fun and adventure into this one with director Alfonso Cuaron making the series not only take a darker route, but manages to make a serious adaptation without ruining the fun of the book itself. As Harry, played by Daniel Radcliffe, must deal with the newly escaped Sirius Black, played wonderfully by Gary Oldman, who wants to come and kill Harry under the wishes of Voldemort. Of course, Harry and his friend head for another adventure giving more of the wizardry world life, exposure and even time travel to past moments in order to save the day. This story to me is, in the words of Bender from Futurama, “fun on the bun.”

Maybe I might be a bit bias as Azkaban is my favorite book of the series, but Cuaron managed to get everything right with it. The characters we are familiar with start to grow in the process as they know danger is waiting for them and they could be killed every step of the way. The one that grows the most out of all of them is Hermonie, played by Emma Watson, by using her wits, smarts and caring nature to help Harry on his quest. Also, anyone who punches out Malfoy, played to a tee by Tom Felton, deserves a mention. It’s not anything life changing, but it did manage to make the series have one kickass moment of fun before it got a bit too serious.

28. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Directed by Terry Gilliam

If you read my review of Life of Brianthen you probably know what I think about Monty Python and their brand of humor. These men are legends and genius by giving a smart look and satirizing take on topics. Never have I grown dull of their humor and never do I feel like it falters, even if some Flying Circus episodes I do not revisit. With the Pythons taking on the Arthurian legend, not only are you in for a treat, but you are in for a whip smart and perfectly paced comedy.

I watched this film in high school and, admittedly, I am a bit of a fantasy nerd so this was ripe for me. My pal Joey let me borrow it and from the credits alone with Swedish subtitles promoting the country to film goers I knew it was going to be hilarious. In fact, I think I have quoted this movie more times in my group of friends than any other film, save for about two more films on the list. It’s hard to pinpoint one scene that made me bust out laughing because the film is chock-full with belly laughs from Castle Anthrax to the Holy Hand Grenade, but it is all worth the ride to the abrupt and out-of-nowhere ending.

Holy Grail may not be the pinnacle of their comedy, but is easily the most accessible to anyone. It was first exposure to the comic troupe and got me to love them more than ever. Heck, it is even surpringsly that the strange mind of Terry Gilliam came from here, and while his direction may not be obvious in here as with other films, he knows how to film a broad comedy well. This is one quest for the Holy Grail that is funny in every general direction.

27. The Thing (1982), Directed by John Carpenter

I have already made a short post on my I like The Thing on this site, so I will keep this entry very brief. John Carpenter is known for his cult appeal and his status in the ‘genre film’ game. The Thing remains one of his more serious films by harnessing the power of isolation, paranoia and the sense of something unknown waiting to take over. The special effects work is nothing short of spectacular and the performances are astounding with Kurt Russel’s Jack MacReady easily being his defining role, at least in my mind. Carpenter skillfully created a horror masterpiece that I still get the shivers during every time I watch it.

If you want to read more of my thoughts with Wilford Brimley going insane and a deeper look into the aspects I enjoyed, head over to this link: Film A Week SHORTS! The Thing (1982).

26. Mary Poppins (1964), Directed by Robert Stevenson

I will be willing to accept I am a sucker for Disney. I would literally worship the ground that evil corporation stands on and admire their persistent vision to practically own every major franchise they can get their hands on to please their frozen overlord. Yet, before the terrible jokes about the company, Walt Disney created amazing films and none more amazing than the feat captured in Mary Poppins. The film is a marvel of Disney and the pinnacle of what they could do in live action by adapting a unique story and creating a world that carefully combines the marvel of magic and the humanity of kindness (even if the author P.L. Travers thought it was utter shit).

Julie Andrews as the titular character is perfect in the role covering both the stern nature of her nanny ways and the charisma of a loving mother all the same. She comes in and treats the Banks children with care that their father George, played by David Tomilson, cannot provide. From the antics with the magical chimney sweep Bert, played by Dick Van Dyke doing a questionable accent, going on a Jolly Holiday and getting in trouble at the bank, Mary Poppins makes Mr. Banks and the kids learn the error of their ways and show that life can be fun and free, as long as you still have a stable grasp on what it at hand.

The music is phenomenal with the Sherman Brothers writing their trademark songs like “Feed the Birds” and “Chim-Chim Cheree” with huge set pieces and small moments encapsulating their music. The performances are astounding with Andrews and Van Dyke coming out on top as always alongside a wonderful supporting cast. Watching this growing up was always a treat during the Jolly Holiday sequences with Andrews looking radiant and Dick Van Dyke acting goofy as hell with penguins, but their was a certain chemistry between them. I would have ship the heck out of this two if I knew what that meant when I was five. Anyway, we all know it’s a classic, so why say anything you haven’t heard before. This film is practically perfect in every way.

25. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Directed by Tim Burton

Pee-Wee Herman is always a nostalgic choice for those who managed to see him way back when. I never got that experience when I was young since I was a late 90’s/early ’00s kid of watching Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, but thankfully, their was Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Tim Burton (yes, THAT Tim Burton) started his feature film career with this film and created a surreal and fun comedy that only Paul Rubens would come up with. This film is one of those rare films like Holy Grail above that is hard to describe due to being so fun and entertaining.

Pee-Wee loses his bike and must venture out to the world in order to receive it back at the basement in the Alamo under the wishes of a shoddy fortune teller. That is as simple as can be, but the voyage is fun with Pee-Wee hanging with a rebel and a loner, meeting the adorable Simone at a diner, encountering the terrifying Large Marge and going on the most epic of bike chases throughout Warner Bros. studios. One particular scene that stands out is the biker bar scene that feature Rubens doing the most awkward yet fascinating strut dance to The Champs’ “Tequila.” Heck, in the end, Pee-Wee even goes on a date with his friend Dottie, played by E.G. Daily, and it’s kind of cute they do not end up together and just appreciate each other.

Burton’s direction is awesome and manages to capture the zany and bizarre, but that could be said for any film of his, except maybe Alice in Wonderland. Rubens is awesome and carries the film and the comedy and humor may be a bit random to some, but for me, it works wonderful. It’s a cult classic with a nice comic edge to it and that is something I can get a bowl of Mr. T cereal and watch on a lazy Sunday morning.

24. Beauty and the Beast (1991), Directed by Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise

As with every kid growing up, Disney animated film were essential in childhood just like Mary Poppins was. Thanks to the Disney Renaissance for also being during my childhood because then we would not have the fun and wonderful Beauty and the Beast. This is arguably one of Disney’s best outing in the animated feature, but this is only the third film on the list for me. Virtually everyone has seen it, so not much in the way of plot to explain.

The true of beauty of this film is the music and the performances. Howard Ashman & Alan Menken brought on their Broadway style format to Disney features, but this one perfected it with memorable songs like the titular song to the infectious “Be Our Guest.” The performances by the voice actors are stupendous with Paige O’Hara giving her heart and soul into Belle, but the main scene stealer is always, and this may come as a shock, Richard White as Gaston. Holy hell, this guy is an arrogant asshole, a hilarious buffoon, obnoxious, but can sing with the best of them in his own song “Gaston” and becoming the intimidating monster he is in “The Mob Song.”

In essence, the story should feel like the old tired cliche Disney has brought on with the princess helplessly falling in love fast, but turns it around with Belle falling slowly in love with the Beast, voiced by Robbie Benson, rather than all at once. Pay attention to the time change in the background of the film for that, not even Frozen that changed practically every trope can say they did that first (Sidenote: Frozen is as good, if not better than this film). Belle is also one the first true independent Disney princess that knows what she needs, what she wants and is not afraid to stand up for her own beliefs which is a nice change of pace from the mundane princess types. Beauty and the Beast truly is a tale old as time.

23. The Princess Bride (1987), Directed by Rob Reiner

The simple story of a grandfather, played by Peter Falk, telling his flu-stricken grandson, played by Fred Savage, a fantasy story may not be a great selling point, but luckily we get to see the adventure at hand with the funny, romantic and daring The Princess Bride. I always heard about this movie and never watched it until my Freshman year of high school and I fell in love instantly. It has pirates, kings, sword fights, a great love story, it has it all. Sure, as teenager in high school I should have been like “That is kid’s stuff and not worth it,” but as an awkward teenager, this was totally for me.

Stable boy Wesley, played by Cary Elwes, falls madly for Princess Buttercup, played by Robin Wright, doing anything she wishes. Yet, Wesley leaves to return to marry her with a fortune until Prince Humperdinck, played by Chris Sarandon, comes to marry her after he is believed to be dead. And the rest, well, many film lovers know by now. The film is filled to the brim with a great supporting cast with Mandy Patinkin’s Inigo Montoya stealing every scene on screen, great moments of humor that does not deter from the story and handling the beautiful nature of romance with ease.

It’s a timeless film that serves as a tribute to the classic romance of cinema and the swashbuckling adventure films of the past while creating something new with the framing device, which in itself is unique in its concept. Director Rob Reiner put his soul into this film to create a classic work that is not only worth quoting, but worth watching time and time again. There is not much more to say about it, but this movie would be inconceivable not to miss.

22. Wall-E (2008), Directed by Andrew Stanton

Pixar, like Disney, is a force to be reckon with in animation and in their prime, Pixar could do no wrong and that theory was proven with the science fiction romance film Wall-E. Wall-E is a stunning film, both in its visual elements and in its story elements. It is an effort unprecedented in western animation and in the romance sub-genre as a whole. Funny, considering the last two entries also involved romance.

In the post-apocalyptic future (yea, kind of bleak for a setting, don’t you think?), Wall-E is on the planet Earth cleaning the waste, voiced by Ben Burtt, and comes across a robot named Eve (or Eva as Wall-E says it) and begins the most adorable love I have ever seen on film. It’s cute charming and told in complete silence for the first 20 minutes of the film and oddly entertaining. Luckily, this adventure gets away from Earth and goes universal by going into space to find Eve on her way back to a home ship inhabiting humans waiting to go home.

Visually, the movie is striking with breathtaking views of the galaxy above us passing stars, the rings of Saturn and nebulas undiscovered against the dusty consumed Earth stuck in the milky way that is beyond gorgeous. It is also admirable that the story is just as gorgeous by making the whole ‘meet cute’ romance become a simple concept into a grander idea showing that love is even greater than one can imagine. Andrew Stanton is one of my favorite directors in animation, creating a science fiction classic before the eyes of children and adults alike and one I thoroughly enjoy every time. He also gives great writing advice, but that is more of a personal thing.

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I still geek out every time I read it.

21. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Directed by Peter R. Hunt

I have talked at length about this movie on this site more than once, but On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is not a bad Bond film, Lazenby is not a bad Bond and nothing about this film is truly bad. In fact, it’s one of the Bond films that is a great action romp, a great romance and great performances, even if the villain’s plan is a little dull.

The thrills never grow to long on this film with set pieces like the battle on Piz Gloria and the epic ski chase scene, the Bond girl Tracy, played by the ever so beautiful Diana Rigg, is not only a independent gal by managing to kick just as much ass as Bond, both physically and mentally. The villain of Blofeld is portrayed with more of a calm and collective pace than previous actors by Telly Salvalas and Lazenby has, oddly, grown on me. The romance aspect is great with Bond falling in love for someone for once and the music of the film is one of my favorite film scores ever recorded with the theme tune being the centerpiece.

I may have been exposed to it two years ago, but the lasting power it has on me is worth all the time in the world. If you want to read my full review on this film, head over to this link: 007 in 23- Assignment #006: On Her Majesty’s Secret ServiceAs a bonus, it is also the first Bond film I ever bought and that is an honor worth mentioning.

STAY TUNED FOR PT. 2: #20-11