Five Movies I Wish I Could See In Theaters

A lot of it is the social magic of going out to the movies, seeing it with a lot of people you have never met and sharing an experience. I feel there is no substitute for going out to the movies. There is nothing like it.

Steven Spielberg

Recently, my significant other told me that her job was renting out screens at the Alamo Drafthouse to show movies to employees. They asked everyone to submit a list of five movies they’d want to see, and then chose three movies to screen from those nominations. What they ended up with is “Jaws”, “The Notebook”, and “Jurassic World”. I could take or leave “The Notebook” and “Jurassic World”, but I have to say “Jaws” is a good pick. “Jaws” is far from my favorite movie,  but seeing the original summer blockbuster on the big screen would be hard to pass up.

This got me thinking, though, about what 5 movies I would nominate to see on the big screen. It took me awhile to think of a good list of movies. Obviously, if this is a one time thing I am going to pick something I’ve never seen in the theater before. Generally, I would want to see something spectacular, something visually awe-inspiring. I would also want a movie that I can get absolutely lost in with a world and a story and characters that feels true and tangible. But mostly, I would want a movie that truly deserves to be on the big screen. And to my mind, all five of my picks definitely deserve it.

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The Godfather

This is by far the most intimate of the five films I would choose. There’s very little action in “The Godfather”, but I would still love to witness the drama unfold on the big screen. From the opening “I believe in America” monologue I can see myself getting lost in the world of the Corleone Family. The drama and suspense would only be amplified even further on the big screen.

Lawrence of Arabia

Seeing this historical epic as it was intended would be something else. The vast scenery would completely envelop you. The action would feel larger and even more perilous. There was a major restoration completed in 2017 and the film was shown at a select few theaters in 70mm. What a sight that must have been.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

This movie had an enormous impact on me at a young age. It is one of the first films I ever remember loving and it has always been something my father and I have bonded over. To see it in the theater with Steven Spielberg’s incredible direction and John Williams’ enduring score would be something I would never forget.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

This is (by far) the newest movie on my list, but I missed it during its original theatrical run and have only seen it once in a very small, very bad “theater” (I’m not sure the term “theater” even accurately describes the space). I would love to see this in a full-sized theater to fully experience Edgar Wright’s bombastic style of story-telling. Every frame is bursting with style and color and the soundtrack is relentlessly cool. I want to lose myself in “the mysterious land…of Toronto, Canada”.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

I’ve obviously seen other “Star Wars” movies in theaters, but seeing the original would be a different beast entirely. “Episode IV” came out just two years after “Jaws” and was the really the 2nd ever “blockbuster” movie and was the highest grossing movie in history at the time. I feel like seeing this would be like a trip back to the 1970s in the best way possible.

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Movies in July

Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere.

Narrator

At the Theater

I always figured I’d like the Mission Impossible movies, but I had never seen a single one until this summer. I rented or bought the first 5 through various online platforms just in time for “Mission Impossible: Fallout” to arrive in theaters. And I’m so happy I did. Aside from “MI:2” they are all good, and starting with Brad Bird’s “Ghost Protocol” they are all outstanding action films. “Sorry to Bother You” was one of the craziest movies I have seen in some time. The twists were disconcerting and absurd and left me wondering what the hell it was I had just watched. Everything works to make one of the freshest and most enjoyable movies I can ever remember seeing.

  • Mission Impossible: Fallout
  • Sorry to Bother You
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Hearts Beat Loud
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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Added to My Collection

For the first time since I can remember…I bought a DVD. I’ve been wanting “Idiocracy” for a while now, but I never see it at Best Buy or Target or the like. I did some research and found out it has never been released on Blu-ray nor is a release at all planned. Then, I was watching a GQ video of Terry Crews breaking down his 10 Most Iconic Roles which included him raving about “Idiocracy” and I knew I needed it even on DVD. “Ex Machina” was one of those movies I’ve seen on every “best sci-fi of the last decade” sorts of lists and It turned out to be just that. It was compelling, and thought provoking, and was “Black Mirror”-ish in all the best ways. I highly recommend it.

  • The Shape of Water (4K)
  • Ex Machina
  • Idiocracy (DVD)

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Scene Spotlight #1: “Test Drive”

OK there bud, we’re gonna take this nice and slow.

Hiccup

Welcome to the very first “Scene Spotlights”. This is the start of what I hope will become something of a series. In each “Scene Spotlight” post I will talk about one scene (or even a specific moment in a scene). I’ll talk about why I love it, why I think it’s great, and why I think it’s so impactful. Some of the scenes will no doubt be ones that everyone knows and everyone agrees are great (Think the crop dusting scene in “North by Northwest” or the “I drink your milkshake” scene from “There Will Be Blood” or the Omaha Beach scene from “Saving Private Ryan”). Each of those scenes have (quite rightfully) been dissected ad nauseam…but I’ll still probably include them at some point. Others will hopefully be some lesser known scenes, or at least hopefully ones you may not have thought about very much.

And now…for the first installment of “Scene Spotlights”.

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One of my all-time favorite scenes is “Test Drive”…the first time Hiccup flies Toothless in “How to Train Your Dragon”. It is unbridled joy in it’s purest form. It is an extremely short scene at just over 2 minutes long. There is nearly no true dialogue in the scene, just Hiccup shouting a few directions at himself and Toothless. Yet every time I watch “How to Train Your Dragon” I re-watch this scene at least once if not twice just to bask in it. It is all about the feeling this scene gives you. It is completely overwhelming.

During the first act of the movie we see Hiccup bond with Toothless, becoming more and more comfortable with each other while at the same time testing out their tandem flying. “Test Drive” is the first time we see the culmination of all their work. As soon as we see them in the air, the music picks up and gives us a sense of excitement. Hiccup is learning *literally* on the fly, and the few lines of dialogue there are show us just how hard he is working with Toothless in order to stay up in the air.

Then, of course, it all goes wrong. Hiccup and Toothless are disconnected and free fall towards the Earth. And, in no coincidence, this is when the scene really hits it’s stride. Everything comes together in this moment.

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These few shots are absolutely perfect. We see the fear in their eyes. We see Hiccup’s indecision as he glances between his cheat sheet and the approaching danger. And finally we see him let go and let his instincts take over. The score is amazing as it reaches it’s peak the moment Hiccup’s foot hits the gear. It is beautiful. These shots (and the scene as a whole) are able to encapsulate the movie’s themes of trust and being true to yourself in the span of just a few seconds, and they are why “Test Drive” is one of my favorite movie scenes of all-time.

You can watch this scene for yourself on YouTube, but I’d suggest renting (or buying) both “How to Train Your Dragon” movies because they are incredible.

P.S. while we’re on the subject, we really need to talk about how “How to Train Your Dragon” was robbed of the Oscar for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards. “The Social Network” (really?) beat “How to Train Your Dragon” that year. Trent Reznor and “The Social Network” stole the Oscar not only from “How to Train Your Dragon” but also “Inception” and Hans Zimmer. What a disgrace.

My Favorite Movies of 2018…So Far

Dr. Strange: I went forward in time… to view alternate futures. To see all the possible outcomes of the coming conflict.

Starlord: How many did you see?

Dr. Strange: Fourteen million six hundred and five.

Tony Stark: How many did we win?

Dr. Strange: …One.

We are now officially over halfway through 2018, and I feel compelled to post some sort of “best of” list. I’ve seen 20 new release movies so far this year, and most of them have been pretty good. These six, however, have really stood out. I’m no good at doing a true ranking though, so in alphabetical order here are my favorite movies I’ve seen in theaters this year…so far.

Annihilation

Annihilation is the purest and most mind-boggling sci-fi movie of the year so far. I saw this way back in April and I’m still trying to fully wrap my head around exactly what I saw. It is beautiful (I’m so glad I saw it on the big screen), unsettling, and thought provoking in all the ways great sci-fi can be.

Avengers: Infinity War

Wow, what a ride. “Infinity War” had a gut punch like I’ve never experienced before in a superhero blockbuster movie. It somehow was able to satisfy nearly every plot thread that had been building over the last 19 movies. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is something insanely special.

Game Night

Good solid comedy with some seriously smart twists I wasn’t expecting. It felt very Edgar Wright-esque with some quick cuts and outstanding editing. Comedy movies not normally my cup of tea, but “Game Night” is so well done that I couldn’t help but love it by the end.

Incredibles 2

“Incredibles 2” was everything I needed after the 14 year wait. It truly felt like a direct continuation and was so true to the original. Brad Bird is amazing and deserves every ounce of praise he gets. It had the largest opening weekend ever for an animated movie and in just 3 weeks became the highest grossing animated movie of all-time. It’s basically got Best Animated Feature locked up and I legitimately think it may go down as one of the best sequels ever.

Isle of Dogs

Just pump Wes Anderson films into my veins 24/7. It is a typical quirky adventure and it’s got all the stop-motion visuals to go along with the amazing plot. It seems like he took everything he learned from making “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and then really took it to the next level on this production.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Please please please go see this movie! It is important, earnest, moving, and simply amazing. I, along with so many people, remember watching “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” when I was little and it was amazing to be transported back and see it from another point of view. Mark this down for Best Documentary come Oscar time.

Movies in June

When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong with the fearful, the true mixed in with the facade, and of course, the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way.

Mister Rogers

In Theaters…

I saw quite a few movies in June, including “Incredibles 2” which was everything I had wanted after the 14 year wait. None of them, however, can hold a candle to “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”. The Mister Rogers documentary is important and beautiful and joyous and one of the most impactful movie-going experiences I have ever been through. It is still in theaters in most places so if you are able to do so…please please please go see it.

  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  • Tag
  • On Chesil Beach
  • Incredibles 2
  • Hotel Artemis

Added to My Collection…

June was an incredibly busy month for me, which meant it was a very slow month for my collection. I have still yet to watch a couple of the movies I added in May though…so perhaps it is for the best.

  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • The Incredibles (4K)

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Pixar’s Most Important Movie

Sadness…Mom and Dad…the team. They came to help…because of Sadness.

Joy

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“Inside Out” by Ry-Spirit on DeviantArt

“Inside Out” is one of the many (many) movies I think about a lot. It has beautiful animation, great voice acting (Including Amy Poehler all but reprising her role as Leslie Knope), and relatable characters. It has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2015. It is, in a word, fantastic. But these aren’t the reasons I think about this film so much…

The emotional impact of “Inside Out” cannot be overstated. Aside from the main themes of the importance of Sadness and that all of our feelings are useful and not to be ignored, there is something even more important that the film portrays. It literally personifies the human emotions.

It is an incredible task because it is going to help children understand what feelings are. Children can not talk about feelings or emotions and what they are feelings if they do not understand them. This movie is going to change that for all children, especially children with special needs.

Dr. Courtney Harkins

Understanding our emotions is something most of us probably take for granted. As we grow up we learn how to recognize and deal with our emotions as well as the emotions of those around us. But recognizing and understanding emotions, both within and without, can be extremely difficult for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (or, more specifically, a disorder called Alexithymia). Alexithymia is a disorder that is marked by the “inability to identify and describe emotions” (Wikipedia). It only affects around 8% of the general population, but is found in varying degrees of severity in as many as 85% of people with ASD.

This makes a movie that features visual representations of human emotions a perfect teaching tool for people with ASD. It can help show what certain emotions look like, and even how those certain emotions can cause us to react to different situations. I have read many blog posts from parents of children with ASD who now have a brand new tool to use to help their children describe what they are feeling.

Just listen to two mothers describe the impact “Inside Out” has had on their sons (and themselves)…

“Garrett is excited now that he can tell me what emotion he is feeling and it is helps me to understand my son,”

“Disney is giving our son another tool with this movie to use to in understanding and expressing his emotions,”

Michelle Mears – Sun News and Review

Thanks to “Inside Out,” Ryan finally got to “see” Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear and how all those emotions make you feel. Thanks to Disney-Pixar, these emotions were finally explained in a way Ryan understood, quite possibly for the first time. And this mom got to get a glimpse from the outside in and what I saw made me recognize just how hard it’s been for Ryan to understand all those emotions running around in his head.

Kathy Hooven – The Mighty

Think about that. “Inside Out” literally helps kids express themselves and understand others through the personification of emotions. What an amazing thing. That a simple animated movie can both have an incredibly significant emotional message AND be a important teaching tool for parents of children with ASD is incredible.

Pixar has produced 19 feature length films in its history, each with varying levels of box office and critical success. The studio has won 15 Academy Awards since it’s founding, many for the cutting edge technology they develop to tell their amazing stories. In my opinion, however, that success pales in comparison to what “Inside Out” is capable of (and has been) doing for families of children with ASD. With that in mind, I believe it it the most important movie Pixar has ever released.

Blockbuster Season

“Under tremendous public pressure and the crippling financial burden of mounting lawsuits, the government quietly initiated the Superhero Relocation Program. Superheroes were granted amnesty from past actions under the promise to never again resume hero work. Where are they now? They are living among us. Average people, average citizens quietly and anonymously making the world a better place.”

Newsreel Narrator

It’s June, which means we’re finally getting into the summer blockbuster season. We’ve of course got the big Marvel and Disney movies coming, but there’s a ton of good original movies coming soon to complement them. Now this is obviously a non-exhaustive list, but I hope to see each movie in this list in the theater this summer.

Here are the movies I am excited about this summer (June, July, and August)…so far…

June
  • Ocean’s 8 (June 8th)
    • This is getting mixed reviews so far, but if it retains any of the charm of the George Clooney trilogy it should be good.
  • Hotel Artemis (June 8th)
    • Holy crap this looks fun. The cast is ridiculous, the plot sounds ridiculous, and the trailer is ridiculous. I really want this to be good.
  • On Chesil Beach (KC release date June 8th)
    • Saoirse Ronan is one of my favorite actors and I’m down for anything she appears in. This sort of feels like it would be better suited for an Oscar season release, but I’ll take it.
  • Incredibles 2 (June 15th)
    • You already know. I (along with so many people in their 20s) have been waiting for this sequel for over a decade. I’m listening to the theme song while typing. Brad Bird is simply amazing and I cannot stress how excited I am for this film.
  • Tag (June 15th)
    • Who knows with this. It could just as easily be good as it could be terrible. The premise is basic and the cast is solid so I’m hoping for the best.
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (KC release date June 22nd)
    • Well, the trailer made me cry, so there’s that. I feel that anyone who ever watched an episode of “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” should make it to the theater to see this.
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22nd)
    • Dinosaurs? Check. Chris Pratt? Check. Fun? Check. I don’t expect it to be as good as the first Jurassic World, but any trip back to Isla Nublar (or Isla Sorna) is good.
July
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6th)
    • Well, it’s Marvel. Also, Paul Rudd is BAE. I keep seeing this described as a “palette cleanser” after how devastating “Avengers: Infinity War” was. I just hope they’re right.
  • Sorry to Bother You (July 6th)
    • OK so “Sorry to Bother You” might have the most intriguing trailer of any film set to release this summer. It looks absolutely surreal and bombastic and intensely funny. I can’t wait.
  • Eighth Grade (July 13th)
    • Bo Burnham’s directorial debut. It’s drawn rave reviews from multiple film festivals.
  • Blindspotting (July 20th)
    • This one looks interesting. It was written by and stars Daveed Diggs of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” fame.
  • Mission Impossible: Fallout (July 27th)
    • The series has been gaining steam ever since Brad Bird stepped in to direct “Ghost Protocol”, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. I still need to catch up, but I’m definitely excited.
August
  • BlacKKKlansman (August 10th)
    • The true story of a black man who infiltrated the KKK…I’m in. The fact it was co-written by KU film professor Kevin Willmott definitely doesn’t hurt.
  • Juliet, Naked (August 17th)
    • It’s based on the book by Nick Hornby, which have an incredible penchant for being turned into good films.