Let’s Go To The Pictures: 2014 Edition

I love movies. I mean, we all do. Let’s write down which ones are the keepers! (Got it, Facebook overlords! Some additions for the 2014 edition later in the story.

manhunter-12406539

Facebook. September 21st, 2010

Okay, I’ve already done books, then albums and now… movies. Whoever is passing this around is going by… chronological order of invention? In that case, start thinking about your 15 favourite TV shows, 15 favourite websites, 15 favourite video games, 15 favourite phone apps…

Tagged by Tish Valles!

The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen films you’ve seen that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what films my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note – upper right hand side.)

1. Manhunter (pictured above, with a sexy William Petersen as Will Graham and Dennis Farina as Agent Jack Crawford) – After being asked several times what “my favourite movie” is, it’s been always been difficult to say just one. So I’ve turned to saying this movie by Michael Mann. It’s not the favourite, but it’s certainly one of my bestest. I explained more here in the original Details Later blog

2. Miller’s Crossing – “All in all not a bad guy – if looks, brains and personality don’t count.”

3. LA Confidential – Watching this in a movie house was an almost-narcotic, out-of-body experience. (Oh gosh, they should call the cops! Wait — they are the cops!)

4. Infernal Affairs – The Departed? Not a PATCH on this movie. Also an out-of-body experience.

5. The Iron Giant – Ah, 2D animation. You’ll always rule for me. (“I’m not a gun” gets me every. Single. Time)

6. Flash Gordon – The 1980 version was one of my earliest experiences going to the movie house. I’d say it really holds up even though the model glue used to create the sets could probably be found cut off just left of frame. Plus, a zillion quotable quotes!

7. Star Wars – Because in any list of movies that you feel “sticks with you,” this movie is the stickiest.

8. Ordinary People – It’s a personal “tent pole” movie, a crucial building block of why I like the movies I like today.

9. Amadeus – Same reason as #8. With added GLORIOUS music.

10. Henry V (1989) – The Crispian’s Day speech is just one of those perfect movie moments for me. (Oh Pat Doyle, call 911. You’ve been robbed of an Oscar. Over and over, basically.)

11. I Know Where I’m Going – Silly romantic comedy premise, but it doesn’t drive you mad. And made in 1945!

12. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – A diabolical plan by Jim Carrey to get into Karen’s 15 Movies list. (See: the “you’re pretty!” scene)

13. Blazing Saddles

14. History of the World – These two Mel Brooks movies conjure so vividly summers/vacations with all my cousins in Cebu, and we watched these movies daily, every four hours (practically. Like it was on schedule). Many, many jokes went over our head, but we laughed anyway. “Don’t be saucy with me, Bernaise!” “Mungo only pawn in game of life.…”

15. The Up Documentary Series – Michael Apted’s every-seven-years visitation of a bunch of British kids since they were seven years old. The most recent one: 49 Up. To steal/paraphrase Roger Ebert’s line, this series best use of the film medium, in the world of the film medium. The saga of Neil, sigh. No fictional screenplay can match that. 51 Up 56 Up comes out in 2012, though the kids in the movie are all: Can we quit already? You’ve been filming us since 1964!

Honorable Mentions (because there always is!):

Cinderella – Still a favourite Disney cartoon, just because the dressmaking scene with the birds and mice still ROCKS.

Heaven Can Wait – The first movie I saw on home video (Betamax!). The movie to blame for my discovery of repeat viewings

Rocky – Yeah, the sequels are not of consequence, but the original is masterpiece of great, emotional filmmaking. Without you know, saying very much.

Fame – “I Sing The Body Electric” is a movie sequence I can watch on repeat over and over. Maybe singular movie sequences should be the next list of 15…

2014 Update:

With that parting, I suggested to Film Asgardian Quark Henares that we should get started on singular moments/sequences we’ve loved in movies. Start thinking, everyone!

I’ve seen 56 Up. With the return of Peter, all but one (come back, Charles!) are still letting us peek into their lives, all for our privilege. Would you let the world to intrude on you every seven years? Pretty much everyone is more accepting of their filmic duties. No more rebelling.

Here’s a few titles to add to the pantheon:

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers — Why wasn’t this in the list back then? My mom twisted me and my brothers’ respective arms to watch this, and she was right: this movie was a delight, and so began the shaking of our movie universes beyond Star Wars.

All Is Lost — My brain still can’t wrap around on how this movie got away with working with so little toys but created such cinematic grand architecture. There’s no backstory, practically no dialogue; a simple story of survival on the seas. It was plain entertaining, yet rich with provocative ideas. This movie made Gravity seem all technical tricks and cheap emotion, in comparison. Mr Redford, you were robbed.

A Simple Life — The idea of a young professional ending up having to care for the helper who raised him seemed like a Hallmark movie. But this Hong Kong film is unforced and buoyant, and conveys the hope of living with absolutely zero cheap sentiment. (How does Andy Lau seem to be Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise and Daniel Day-Lewis all at the same time?)

Metropolitan — As the years pass by, it’s a genuine pleasure to recall this movie with friends, and repeat all the hilarious dialogue. (“He’s a Fourier-ist!”) What else do you want to love a movie for?

Broadcast News — Aaron Sorkin, you little sh*t. This is how you blend a believable workplace romance and present the state of media with out straw man arguments and awkward propping up of your characters. A recent re-watch of this movie will show you that all the downward fears of the press… have come to pass. Sighhhhhh. (That said, I continue to watch “The Newsroom” for your excellent work on Don and Sloan.)

Books That Took: 2014 Edition

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

This list went around in 2009, but somehow has resurrected again 2014. I’m sure it’s a way for the Facebook robots to know more about us. Thanks for everything… and nothing, Facebook!

I’m adding a few things I’ve read — and remembered! — since the initial list came out. You’ll see them right after the 2009 roll call.

 Facebook. July 19, 2009

Don’t take too long to think about it. Ten books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First 10 you can recall in no more than 10 minutes. Tag 10 friends, including me because I’m interested in seeing what books my friends choose.

 Terrie tagged me, and I promised to do this. It’s like, weeks, late… but here it is!

 1. True Notebooks by Mark Salzman. He’s my favourite author, and I’ve read all his books except for one (The Laughing Sutra is in my Book Debt pile… I know, some favourite! But he really is.) This is the most recent one he wrote, and the “play the one about the mom” story he describes in the book floors me every time I remember it. Ah, wonderful! I’m just glad I live on the same planet with this guy.

 2. Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. As a kid, I’d been reading “chapter books” before this title, but this is first time in my reading experience that showed me that writers are trying to reach out to you, to speak to you – the “telepathy” that Stephen King described in his On Writing book. I pretty much read everything she wrote; her children’s books anyway. To this day, I’m still trying to write as directly as her when I have to write. (Like this note on Facebook. Wink!)

 3. Up The Organization by Robert Townsend. For this I say, thank you Andy Taylor! (Yes, of Duran Duran!) I’d seen this book laying around the bookshelves at home, and when Andy said this is his favourite book, well my teen self finally got around to reading it. And this book struck me the way Andy did, most likely – this book definitely influenced the way I communicate, how I approach people, how I deal with most anything. A lot of elements are outdated now (one chapter was about not being scared of computers “girls in the steno pool”), but the way Robert Townsend suggested we view the world remains true and universal.

 4. A Hat For The Queen from A Little Golden Book Eager Reader series. Hee, do they still make Little Golden Books? This book sticks with me because according to my tricky memory, it’s the lightning moment when I discovered I could read! How the words that I spoke matched the words I was viewing on the page. The only problem is, I seem to recall that this lightning moment happened when I was in Grade 2, or eight years old. Did I really learn to read that late? How did I survive Kinder to Grade 1?

 5. The People’s Almanac/The Book Of Lists by Irving Wallace et al. I devoured these informational books all throughout my childhood, and these books gave me a love for interesting facts and ideas, and how knowing them could expand your mind and open up the world. See, I don’t “know” everything – far from it. But learning about the little details of the world is so much fun and worth staying on the planet for.

 6. Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guides. Speaking of knowing “everything”… I used to buy his annual guides and discovered you could love movies in a whole new way, a way that allowed me to define what makes a film great, for myself. Truth be told, these reviews are a collective “tentpole” of my movie-going. (Terrie knows what this means. Or check it out in my old blog here.) And Leonard was so funny. I still crack up his review of “The Promise,” starring Stephen Collins and Kathleen Quinlan that went something like: “Boy meets girl. Boys falls in love with girl. Girl gets into accident. Boy thinks girl is dead. Girl is alive but has new face. Boy falls in love with same girl with new face. Viewer runs screaming from the room…”

 7. The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger. I think it’s mandated that every teenager read this and be blown away by it. Cue: Teen Angst. I picked this up from the St Scho library, thinking: I can read the important books. Kaya ko ‘to! And the first line taught me not to be afraid of the “big” books: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like…” Hee! Big books are just like you and me! (Sorta.) Now of course, I think it’s such a WHINY book. Snap out of it, Holden Caulfield!

 8. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. One of the more recent books I read that hit me deep. Wow, I just bawled my eyes out reading this book. I tried to read McCarthy before, but it was just way above me. The Road though, is clear and direct, but punches a wallop. I remember pa na brownout at the some of the more heartbreaking parts of the book. Ugh, I think I bawled harder because of the power outage!

Ugh, I’m so daldal! I know I was supposed to write ten, but aren’t you exhausted me going on and on already? For the last two, I promise to be brief!

9. I Know This Much This True by Wally Lamb. For sure, the thickest book I ever managed to finish! And it had the best come-full-circle ending, that I didn’t see coming.

10. The Sweet Dreams series, but ONLY The Summer Jenny Fell In Love. Hee, I remember another lightning moment when I read these books (and I only read five of the hundreds out there): it was when my cynicism began! C’mon the senior football jock noticed the shy sophomore who is more beautiful than the head cheerleader — again?!? Ugh. Jenny though, gave me hope that familiar stories can still break through and seem fresh. Plus, Jenny and the boy she fell in love with were refreshingly ordinary types.

Whew! Got through it! Can’t wait to hear the books that “remain with you” y’all!

Back to 2014! In the end, I still think Up The Organization was the one that truly made an impact. Much of what is in it is how I frame my daily living. (“If you’re not here to do things excellently, then what are you doing here?”)

Here are the additional titles that also make it to the Great Karen Pantheon of Books:

11. On Writing by Stephen King. King’s mentioned up there, but this book makes you fall in love with writing, and want to do right by the art. 

12. The New York Times Manual of Style & Usage. Informative and hilarious. The editors were having fun when they decided to teach us a thing or two. (FYI — Blond = for guys. Blonde = for gals.) 

13. If You’re Talking To Me, Your Career Must be in Trouble by Joe Queenan. Discovered in the glory days of Movieline magazine, Joe interviewed celebs and was assigned to do deep dives on the most painful movie tropes. I continue to reach his benchmark on comic writing. (“Finally, a few weeks later, I sat through Armageddon, the film in which Bruce Willis and a bunch of roughneck oil drillers accept a temporary job on an asteroid hurtling toward planet Earth because the Texas economy is on the ropes, the benefits in outer space are better and Liv Tyler’s pouting makes them anxious to leave this solar system.“)

14. The Portable Dorothy Parker. “You could lead a horse to water, but you can’t lead a horticulture.”

15. The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson. The 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago led to ambitious architectural design by Daniel Burnham and possibly the world’s first serial killer in HH Holmes. Both stories are thrillingly re-told and a delight to read, and Larson gives us a special gift in making design planning more suspenseful than a murderer on the loose. 

Pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming

Lincoln Center, 2012

“So take that look out of here, it doesn’t fit you
Because it’s happened doesn’t mean you’ve been discarded
Pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming
Cry out for everything you ever might have wanted
I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can’t stay here
with every single hope you had
shattered…

I just felt like posting this. With the sad day that just passed us, it seem vital to remember how we truly need to seize the day.

RIP, Mork. 

You are still reading out loud, aren’t you? Good.

Liam arrives home from school. Fall 2012. Trumbull, Connecticut

Liam arrives home from school. Fall 2012. Trumbull, Connecticut

How often do you agree to take on recommendations? Sometimes you seek them, I constantly give them (sometimes unsolicited… Sometimes?) and there are times you just listen patiently, then… yeah. Maybe.

The Slate Culture Gabfest podcast ends each episode with a recommendation from each of the hosts. They could be a silly YouTube compilation of goats bleating to hilarious effect, or a rather weighty yet entertaining philosophical conversation series in The New York Times.

Mostly, I just enjoy hearing them share what brought them something good for the week. It’s a real pleasure to hear people share what they love.

In a recent episode, the Gabfest host and Slate film critic Dana Stevens recommended the poem “Pied Beauty” by Gerald Manley Hopkins. The works of this Victorian-era poet was thrown at me in high school, but like your regular high school nitwit, I didn’t look closely enough into his work, or his ready-for-prestige-movie-casting life as a poet turned Jesuit priest (complete with burning all his work right before entering the religious life).

Perhaps most strikingly, I didn’t listen enough to his words. Manley Hopkins was known for his verse “sprung rhythm”. There’s all sorts of technical explanation on meters, foots, accents, etc on what that means. But the image itself of “sprung rhythm” gives me well… the picture.

Dana Stevens doesn’t just recommend Gerard Manley Hopkins’ works, she recommends you read his work out loud to feel the great joys of his thoughts rendered in rhythm. (As Stephen Fry recommends too. The blog post title is his edict for poetry.)

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things —
For skies of couple-colour as brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare and strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow, sweet, sour; adazzle, dim
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

“The beginning? Simple. Almost comic…”

Image

I really need to write again.

I don’t know why I was being a whiny baby about not knowing how to write anymore. Well, I do know why, but terriegirl and dishaboutdesign reminded me to just get started. It doesn’t have to be so hard.  

That’s as plain as it can be put.

There’s a lovely meme on Facebook about flooding the news feed with images of art and beauty, and I’m all for it.

Here is a clip of one of the loveliest creations of art, that continually gives me hope for our future, of what we can do and create. Mozart’s Serenade No. 10 for Winds, 3rd movement is PROOF. Salieri describes it perfectly: