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Monday, August 27, 2012

You play ball like a girl!

Subject matter over here at the Stream is quite, er, subjective. When it comes to blogging, I'm sort of like that talking dog, Dug, in the movie UP (Pixar)...

We all have moments in life where things are going along and then we figuratively say, "Squirrel!"

Lately, I've had the distinct pleasure of blogging about classical music and science. But lest I get too high brow for my own good, I'm going to descend from these Olympus-like subject-matter heights and talk about movies!

National Public Radio's weekend version of All Things Considered is running a series entitled, 'Movies I've Seen a Million Times'. This past weekend, Regina King - an actress I could not have picked out of a police lineup - talked about one such film in her family, "The Sandlot".

I'm with Regina; I could watch The Sandlot just about every weekend. What's really interesting to me is the breadth a film like The Sandlot has with a generation of kids that wasn't even born when the movie was made (1993). I was playing some whiffle-ball in the front yard the other day with some of the neighborhood kids and we were talking about baseball and dogs and such and I mentioned that whenever they were playing ball, they needed to make sure their ball didn't go over our fence. One of the boys asked me why and I replied that our new German Shepherd, Abby, was like The Beast.

I didn't even have to explain what I meant - they all knew exactly what I was talking about.

Well, naturally, reading about Ms. King's choice of a movie she could watch a million times started me thinking about films that I would put in that category, besides The Sandlot. And since I have a blog...

1. Star Wars: I'm old enough to be one of those people who doesn't call the original Star Wars film Episode IV. All that prequel stuff really made things confusing. Nowadays, if you're talking to someone and say, "Hey, did you catch the first Star Wars on TV this weekend?" they'll either say, "Do you mean Episode I or Episode IV," or "Why watch it on TV - don't you have the box-set?"

You gotta have faith...

Yes, I have a box set with all six Star Wars films; call me crazy, but I will still watch the movies on this list, commercials and all, if they come on TV. And I'll likely watch them more often that way than if I'm sitting around and think to myself, "Hey, let's pull out Episode II and make some popcorn."

2. Indiana Jones: I will change the channel in a heartbeat just to watch the opening scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. There's something about watching the Paramount logo turn into some nameless mountain in South America, followed by the haunting John Williams score, as this mysterious character in a beat-up leather jacket and fedora makes his way through the jungle with his crew of ne'er do-wells. If I have time, I will watch the entire movie, but I will at least watch it up to the part where Belloq starts monologuing to the Hovitos and Indy takes off; right there - when Belloq mimics slicing his throat with that back-and-forth shish-shish noise, and with his maniacal laugh echoing through the deadly Peruvian wilderness - man, that's movie making.

Film fail...even I know that little bag of sand won't weigh as much as a golden head

I've heard critics pan Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but I don't know, it's got all the elements of the early films and the story isn't so bad. I'm not a big fan of Shia LaBeouf but he's pretty good in Skull. Along with Star Wars, I'll watch any of the Indy films a million times.

3. That Thing You Do: It took everything I have not to put Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, National Treasure (which I watched again last night - on TV), The MummyZorro, or any of another dozen movies I've watched a million times - and will likely watch a million more - on this list. Admittedly, Star Wars and Indiana Jones were low hanging fruit, but I sincerely love those movies - so they belong at the top. As I thought about other movies I have watched over and over, this one kind of popped into my head. That Thing You Do is a sometimes campy but altogether believable tale about a band from PA (that's Pee-A) who, despite all the odds, make it to the big time. They score a hit record (the title track), head to the coast (is there more than one?) getting bit parts in a cheesy 60's beach movie, only to have the band disintegrate because the principle song-writer gets a case of artiste!

I don't know what it is about this movie. Is it the music, the characters - I could make a list just including movies featuring Liv Tyler - the believable 'where are they now' credits at the end? I can't put my finger on any one thing. It's just one of those goofy, enjoyable movies that are easy to watch over and over - just like The Sandlot.

What movies are on your, "Watch it a million times" list?


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