Thursday, July 31, 2008

Quick Update

Still alive. I've spent the last three days moving from one side of town to another, and from one 3rd floor apartment to another. It's verified; I am an idiot.

But I'm an idiot with a new place about five minutes from church (and now an hour from work).

The apartment is...a wreck right now, as you'd imagine. Boxes, bags, piles, papers. I have about 300 things that need to be done right now, but sadly tops on that list is logging in to my work email and winnowing down the almost 200 emails i've gotten in the past 3 days. Awesome. [/sarc]

I'll post pictures...when i find my camera.

In the meantime, i'm hoping my legs heal up. In three days, I've climbed the equivalent of 47,000 flights of stairs (give or take), all while carrying 50 lb. boxes. My quads, calves, and hamstrings kind of hate me right now and want to revolt, and my lower back is still on the fence about it. So I'll be taking lots of ibuprofen and prayer this week.

Be excellent to each other, and feel free to leave a comment (hint hint) for me when i get back to regular bloggerating.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday Video View: Sweded Videos

If you're unfamiliar with the cinematic art of "sweding," this will catch you up to speed.

Now for the show:

Star Wars

Jurassic Park

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (original)

Die Hard

Back to the Future

Edwards Scissorhands

The Princess Bride

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Odd Realization of the Day

From a conversation I had yesterday:

"The Dark Knight" and "Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog" are products from vastly different areas of pop culture, and yet both provide commentary on the nature of evil.

"The Dark Knight" deals with choosing to stand against the chaos and darkness of the world, and the risk each "good" person runs of succumbing to the very evil they are trying to destroy.

"Dr. Horrible" learns that if you pursue "evil," even without realizing its ramifications, you will achieve it, often at the expense of people you care about. And ultimately, he realizes that evil sucks.

Yes, I know these are surface comments, but i don't want to get into more detail and spoil things.

I just think it's interesting that our secular culture still seeks to understand what evil is, and still presents it as something destructive. All the more reason why those who know the Truth need to speak up. Because people are looking for answers.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

One more cool link before i go...

The trailer for next year's mind-blowing comic book movie: The Watchmen.

Um, WOW.

[h-t: Pop Candy]

Thursday Linky-Love

I'm crazy busy, but I want to offer these links for your enjoyment. Some are a bit stale, sorry; I put them all on hold until after the Awesome Fifty was done.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How Do You Follow a Post like "The PBB Awesome Fifty"?

With the return of the PBB Cool Ten...

The PBB Cool Ten (7/13-7/19)

10. 57-38. Leading the NL Central by 4.5 games, and tied with the LA(oA) Angels for the best record in baseball. At the All-Star break. While the cynics are still predicting a September collapse (and admittedly, it's not impossible), there's little doubt that my boys in blue can and should be taken seriously as contenders, not only for the NL crown, but for the prize that's evaded the club for a century. I've said it many times, but I'm still believing it. 2008--Year. Of. Destiny. There's still time to jump on the bandwagon, so study up.
9. I played paintball for the very first time yesterday. It was a blast, and I can't wait to go back--in the fall/winter. Hopefully, the cuts, bruises, and muscle strains will all be healed by then.
8. It ain't me, babe.
7. I'm moving in two weeks!!! AAAAAAAHHH!!!!
6. I rewatched "Once" last night. Man, that movie's good.
5. Okay, seriously, I'm totally jonesing for a BSG fix. It's about time SciFi started showing reruns of Season 4.0, right? Right?
4. Chuck Bartowski+Hellboy=Awesome. Just sayin'.
3. This is late, i know: Vote for the greatest comic book superhero ever... or DIE! (Just kidding.)
2. Do I even need to say it?
1. One of my oldest friends is getting married this Saturday, and I will be standing at his side as best man. I've said it before, but I'll repeat it for it's as true now: of such an honor, I don't feel deserving. But I am thankful and proud to do so. So, congratulations to Brent and Lauren!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The PBB Awesome Fifty: Part the Last

Fair warning, these are mostly darker action flicks.

41. 28 Days Later
(Cillian Murphy)
Definitely one of my favorite zombie movies, though purists will argue that it's not a proper zombie film, since the cause of the outbreak is viral, not supernatural. Uh, yeah, this is me not caring. This movie is frightening, fresh, and visually interesting. A young man wakes up from a coma to find that all of London has been evacuated, and only the infected are left. He finds a few survivors, and together they make a break for the coast and possible rescue. Though the sequel was a bit disappointing (all special effects, no humanity), the original is a very cool film. (Fair warning: brief frontal dudity in the first 10 minutes--dude wakes up naked in the hospital.) Here's the trailer:

42. The Untouchables
(Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert DeNiro)
I'm not a huge Costner fan, but I love this film. The Untouchables is the story of Elliot Ness, the government agent tasked with bringing down Al Capone (played by DeNiro!). He gathers around him a group of men who can't be bought or bullied into backing down--the Untouchables. This is one of those great epic "cops vs. gangsters" pictures, and features Connery's Oscar-winning performance as Malone, as well as the famous shootout-in-a-train-station scene. Here's a glimpse of Connery and Costner:

43. Unleashed
(Jet Li, Morgan Freeman)
This is the most violent "anti-violence" movie I've ever seen, and it's this tension that makes the film so great. Li plays Danny, a man who's been treated like an attack dog since he was small, and is controlled by his master and used as an enforcer and trained killer. When an accident suddenly frees Danny from captivity, he tries to find a life outside of the world of killing and cruelty that he's known. He finds that world with Morgan Freeman, a blind piano tuner, and his daughter. This new life is threatened when "Uncle Bart" shows up looking for his faithful "dog" to return. Amazing fight sequences, and real dramatic tension make this movie a brutal but awesome story.

44. Serenity
(Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau)
How do you create an awesomely different sci-fi film? Make it a sci-fi/kung-fu/horror/western. Joss Whedon first created this story as a TV series called "Firefly," which was never given a real chance on the networks but has taken on a whole new life in syndication and with fans. Serenity is the feature-film that (re)introduces us into the world of Captain Mal and his crew, scavengers and pirates living at the edges of an imperial-controlled galaxy. Mal was on the wrong side of the last great war, and now he and his band of misfits and scaliwags try to scrape out a living--until the arrival of a doctor and his very disturbed sister sends them on a new and darker journey. If you've never seen the series, that's okay, the film guides you into the story and characters just fine. Just keep in mind, it's really a western--so some of the slang and "substitute-swears" take a second to get used to. Here's the intro:

45. Red Dawn
(Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen)
Man, do I enjoy this film. This is your prime example of 80's Cold War paranoia--an alternate reality nightmare in which the Soviets invade through Canada and Mexico, and catch the nation unawares. The story follows a group of high-schoolers in Colorado, who barely escape the invasion and hide out in the mountains, conducting guerrilla warfare on the occupying troops as they try to stay alive through the winter. It's super-awesomely-cheesy and really violent, but I dare you not to cheer them on as they wreak havoc on the enemy. WOLVERINES!!!

46. 12 Monkeys
(Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt)
Another bizarre sci-fi film. In this one, the human race was nearly wiped out by a viral epidemic. Bruce Willis is a convict sent back in time to find the source of the virus--but he may or may not just be insane and hallucinating all of it. Reality gets all bendy and strange as he tries to piece together what's going on, and maintain his sanity. Brad Pitt gives one of my favorite performances of his, as a clearly insane trust-fund baby who just might also turn into a mass murderer. Bizarre movie, but interesting story. (Note: I'm pretty sure you see naked Willis booty, so be prepared.) Here's a darkly funny scene inside the asylum Willis is taken to when he arrives in 1996:

47. Batman Begins
(Christian Bale, Liam Neeson)
After the ridiculous "Batman And Robin," it appeared that Batman movies were forever doomed to campyness. Then came Christopher Nolan's 2005 reboot of the franchise, and he made it clear--Batman is freaking awesome. This is a grown-up comic book movie, dark, brooding, and psychologically-focused. In other words, no more neon bad guys or rubber bat-nipples. This is a great movie for people who haven't watched Batman films before, or have given up on the idea. And i'm TOTALLY GEEKING OUT about the sequel, which comes out in 6 DAYS!!! Okay, the clip is of Bruce being trained by the ninja master Ducard (played by Neeson). Rockin':

48. Blade Runner
(Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer)
More sci-fi, this time from 1982: Ford plays Deckard, a "blade runner"--a man who hunts down dangerous androids who appear human but are not. He's put on the trail of "replicants"--the most human-like of their kind--who have escaped their owners. This search takes him through a seedy, dystopian Los Angeles, as he hunts down these dangerous individuals. (Note: Seedy--meaning i definitely remember some sort of nudity, so be aware.) The visuals were stunning for the era they were produced, and the themes of the film include the idea of what it means to be "human." Pretty cool flick. I need to check out this newly-released version of it:

49. Beautiful Girls
(Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon)
I remember a friend in college sitting me down and saying, "You need to watch this movie with me, you'll love it." He was right. I did. Beautiful Girls is about going home, reconnecting with the past, and figuring out where to go from there. It follows Willie, a piano player returning home for his high school reunion, who reconnects with his best friends, who each have serious relationship issues. The film deals with fidelity, honor, loyalty, self-doubt, and growing up. And the music's great. One of the most interesting (and somewhat uncomfortable) relationships in the film is the friendship between Willie and his 13-year-old neighbor Marty (played by Natalie Portman). There's obviously an attraction, the bond of kindred spirits, there, but the age difference presents some problems, to say the least (don't worry, it doesn't go anywhere scary):

50. The Incredibles
(voices of Craig Nelson, Holly Hunter)
One more animated film, and my favorite Pixar film. This story of a superhero family who struggles with accepting their abilities and destiny is great, because it values the idea that some people have special abilities that others don't, and those who are gifted have a duty to use those gifts. Like Dash says, "If everyone is 'special,' then no one's special." In this "everyone gets a ribbon" world, that's a refreshing message. In this fun scene, Mr. Incredible goes to Edna Mode to get his costume fixed:

If you missed any of the other parts, just...scroll down. They're all there. Thanks for reading!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The PBB Awesome Fifty: Part the Fourth

31. Casino Royale
(Daniel Craig)
I like smart action movies--movies that don't insult the intelligence of the viewer. I'm not saying everything needs to be perfectly logical or explained; I just want some faith on behalf of the filmmaker that I, the audience member, will be able to follow his plot without the plodding overexplanation. For years, I have not been a fan of the James Bond franchise for just this reason. However, this reboot of the Bond story is told in a smart, engaging, more realistic way. Craig plays a more human Bond than previous incarnations, a Bond who bleeds and stumbles, but is still cooler, stronger, and more deadly than I'll ever hope to be. If you're like me, and have avoided the franchise, buy this Bond. Here's a music video of one of the best Bond themes in years, to get a taste of the film:

32. Breakfast at Tiffany's
(Audrey Hepburn)
[I'll give you a second to finish singing the Deep Blue Something song in your head.] Based on Truman Capote's novella, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" follows the relationship of society darling/phony Holly Golightly and writer Paul Varjak. The film is charming, funny, and satisfying, even if the film's ending betrays the end of the source material (Capote is darker). Audrey Hepburn was someone special. Here's a scene where you get Holly at her most authentic:

33. The Third Man
(Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten)
Another great noir classic. Cotten plays Holly Martins, who learns his recently-deceased friend Harry Lime was not only a criminal, but responsible for the suffering of innocent children due to corrupted medical supplies. The final chase through the sewers is one of my favorite chase sequences. The scene below is the first time that Martins sees Lime alive after his "death," and is one of the coolest "character reveals" in film:

34. Night Watch / Day Watch
A Russian horror film, featuring vampires, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night. The main character, Anton, learns that he has supernatural abilities, and becomes the focus of a struggle between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil. It seems that they have an uneasy stalemate, and each person who develops "the Sight" must choose which team to join. Things take a turn when a young boy with a connection to Anton becomes the prize of both armies' efforts. Super-creepy films, amazing special effects, but very R-rated, so be aware. It's worth watching in the original Russian, with subtitles. Here's the trailer for the first one (warning: scary "jump" moment involved):

35. Double Indemnity
(Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck)
More noir? Any guesses what I've been watching lately? This one is another noir classic, starring MacMurray as an insurance salesman who falls for a married woman with murder on her mind. The question is not "do they get away with it?" for the very beginning of the movie shows us a gut-shot MacMurray. The story of the film is, "How did it all go wrong?" Great movie, great cast (it co-stars Edward G. Robinson in his first non-gangster role as a big star), and the sexual tension between MacMurray and Stanwyck is palpable, as shown here:

36. Pride and Prejudice
(Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen)
Granted, this is not the BBC version that so many Austen fans rave about. But I really like this film, even if it takes liberties with the text. And Keira Knightley is enchanting. It's a great film, and I enjoy it immensely. That's all. Guys, watch this film with your lady--major points in your favor, and it's not as painful as "The Notebook." Here's the trailer.

37. The Great Escape
(Steve friggin McQueen)
Probably my favorite WWII movie, "The Great Escape" tells the true story of captured Allied officers tunnelling out of a Nazi POW camp. The tunnels were named Tom, Dick, and Harry. The film has an all-star cast (Richard Attenborough! Charles Bronson! James Garner! James Coburn!), but it's obviously McQueen's show, as he plays Hilts, "the Cooler King" (called that for the amount of time he spent in solitary confinement). Great film, great story, and even a great score. A good war movie for folks who don't like a lot of bloodshed; the key to this film isn't violence, it's the thrills of watching the soldiers avoid capture. I can't find a short clip, so here's the first 10 minutes to whet your appetite:

38. High Fidelity
(John Cusack, Jack Black)
Based on one of my favorite novels, "High Fidelity" is the story of Rob Gordon, a record store owner with a bad track record for relationships. In this film, Rob responds to his most recent breakup by obsessing over why his relationships always go wrong, and in the process learns a lot about himself. The dialogue is funny, the supporting cast is a blast, and the soundtrack is amazing. But don't just take my word for it, listen to the experts (that's right, I quote them when I agree with them):

39. Singing in the Rain
(Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor)
Surely you've heard the song. You've probably even seen the footage of Gene Kelly in the grey suit dancing down the street during a downpour. But have you seen the film? Because the song, as good as it is, gives you nothing about the film itslef. The story is about Don Lockwood, a silent movie star who has to deal with the difficult transition to "talkies" along with his co-star, squeaky-voiced Lina Lamont. When he falls for a dancer with a beautiful voice, he gets the idea to let his new love record the vocals to go with his on-screen leading lady's looks. And yes, trouble ensues. Great dialogue, great music, and although the ten-minute dance sequence in the middle drags on a bit (despite the lovely Cyd Charisse), it's worth the wait. Here's a song by Donald O'Connor, Kelly's partner in crime in the film and one of the key sources of the film's hilarious one-liners:

40. Raiders of the Lost Ark
(Harrison Ford, Karen Allen)
Okay, forget the new one exists. Go back to the original--the first "Indiana Jones" film, and easily the best. Harrison Ford channels all the best of the classic Hollywood serial heroes, square-jawed, daring, devil-may-care, and eager to throw a punch when called-for. This film still makes me geek out like I'm 9 years old watching it for the first time. Even if there were never a "Star Wars," this film would have cemented Harrison Ford as a star. There's no way I could have a list of awesome movies that doesn't include this one; it pretty much sets the bar.

Tune in tomorrow for the final selections!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The PBB Awesome Fifty: Part the Third

(Same song, third verse.)

21. The Thin Man Series
(William Powell, Myrna Loy)
Probably my favorite film couple has to be Nick and Nora Charles, the husband and wife detective duo in this series. While Nick gets the headlines as the bigtime detective, you know Nora's always snooping around looking for clues to help the case. What's awesome about the films is the banter between this loving couple: witty, playful, and flirty. They're a fun pair, and would be at the top of my list of fictional people to invite to a dinner party (provided they promise not to accuse anyone at the table of murder). Here's a clip from the beginning of the second film in the series, "After the Thin Man":

22. The Emperor's New Groove
(David Spade, John Goodman)
Probably one of my favorite animated movies ever, this Disney gem involves Cuzco, the selfish young emperor of a South American kingdom, who's turned into a llama by an evil sorceress (his trusted advisor, natch). He is rescued by Pascha, a peasant with a big heart, and the two figure out a way for Cuzco to reclaim his human form and his throne. Great voice acting, hilarious dialogue, colorful hand-drawn animation, and NO CHEESY SONGS. Well-played, Disney animation. Well-played.

23. Newsies
(Christian Bale, Robert Duvall)
More cheesy songs!!! "Newsies" was Disney's misfired attempt to bring back the Hollywood musical in the early 90's. If this had been made post-"Moulin Rouge," it might have had a fighting chance. No matter--this is a great little film. If you can appreciate the musical, you really need to watch this one. Great score and lyrics, passable acting, fun story. Set around the turn of the century, "Newsies" is the story of newspaper boys who go on strike when "greedy Mr. Pulitzer" wants to make more money by charging the boys more to buy the papers they sell. I'm rarely a pro-union guy, but I have to cheer for these characters. Here's one of the early songs, when the strike is declared:

24. It's a Wonderful Life
(James Stewart, Donna Reed)
This isn't a Christmas movie, folks. Get that out of your head. It's a movie that happens to be partially set around the holiday season, and because of money and copyright issues, it has been shown around the Christmas holiday for decades. But in truth, it's the story of a man who lives a good life, loving his neighbor and taking care of his family, and when faced with financial disaster questions whether this good life was really all it was cracked up to be. It takes divine intervention and a look at a world without him in it for George Bailey to realize every person makes an impact. In this scene, George's latent love for Mary comes to the forefront:

25. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
(Matthew Broderick)
Seriously, if you haven't seen this film, you should be ashamed. One of the best films of the 80's (and John Hughes' storied career), it is what it says it is: high school senior Ferris Bueller cuts school for the day, and he and his best friend and girlfriend have a blast all over Chicago as they try to evade the eye of Principal Rooney. It's fun, it's light, it doesn't ask much from you and gives you a good time. I was shocked to see that Siskel and Ebert actually panned this film. Goes to show, sometimes the critics get it wrong:

26. Lord of the Rings
(Elijah Wood, Sean Astin)
Yes, I'm counting all of them as one. It's all one story. And boy is it an amazing story. Now, if you're not a "scifi nerd" or "fantasy geek," you probably think these films have nothing to offer you. You couldn't be more wrong. These stories are tales of friendship, honor, loyalty, sacrifice, and commitment to something greater than yourself. There are epic battle sequences, as well as deeply personal, emotional moments. In short, it's just great friggin filmmaking, and you'd be foolish to turn in down because it's for "nerds." Don't be lame, dude. Expand your mind, and check it out:

27. The Big Sleep
(Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall)
Probably the greatest example of "detective noir" is "The Big Sleep." Bogie is Phillip Marlowe, a gumshoe hired by a rich family to...well I don't want to give it away. Basically, all those detective cliches that you've heard of--well, they weren't cliches when Bogie did 'em. They were character. And Sam's got character in spades. (Pun intended.) Sit down and shaddap, you mug, before I smack ya:

28. Once
(Glen Hansard, Marketa Inglova)
"If music be the food of love," then this film is its feast. A simple story of two musicians who find each other and collaborate on an album becomes something gut-wrenching and moving on-screen, as you see two souls longing to find solace within each other. The music *is* the movie, each song giving you glimpses into who these people are. Amazing, beautiful, breath-taking. Listen and feel:

29. Return to Me
(David Duchovny, Minnie Driver)
Possibly one of my favorite "romantic comedies" ever, it's the story of a widower who falls in love with a woman who has a secret that connects her to his dead wife. Unlike most films of the genre, this story isn't heavy-handed and clunky with "mistaken identities" or misunderstandings that are easily solved in the "real world" but not on film. Instead, like the Dean Martin song that shares its name, "Return to Me" is gentle, sweet, full of longing and joy. Great acting, great supporting cast (Carroll O'Connor! Robert Loggia!), highly recommended. I couldn't find an unaltered, embed-able clip, so here's the trailer.

30. So I Married An Axe Murderer
(Mike Myers, Mike Myers)
Before he destroyed all the good will he gained over the years, thanks to clunkers like "Cat in the Hat" and "The Love Guru," Myers was actually funny. (No, it's true.) And the funniest film he made, I think, was this one. He plays Charlie, a commitment-phobic bachelor (you don't say! never heard of THAT before! *eye roll*) who meets a girl that he falls for. Problem is, he starts to think she's actually the Black Widow Killer, who had six previous husbands turn up dead. Is he crazy? Is she dangerous? Grab your cup-o-cino and ease into your comfy chair, as this hilarious film answers the question. SIMAAM was also the introduction of Myers' famous Scottish accent, as he also plays Charlie's father, a bizarre Scot with a penchant for verbal abuse:

Tune in tomorrow for Part The Fourth!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The PBB Awesome Fifty: Part the Second

(Same rules and disclaimers apply.)

11. Tombstone
(Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer)
What "Saving Private Ryan" is to the modern American war film, "Tombstone" is to the modern American western. That is to say, it ditches a lot of the post-modern navel gazing and delivers two shotgun barrels full of awesome. The story follows Wyatt Earp, his two brothers, and his friend Doc Holliday, as they try to tame the eponymous cowtown. One of the key fight sequences in the film is the famous "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," but it goes so far beyond that, as justice turns to vengeance and blood is paid for blood. The following gives you a sense of the tension in the film:

12. Rocky IV
(Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren)
I've gone on the record at various times stating that Rocky IV is the greatest movie ever made by humans, and while that statement is silly on its face, I'm serious when I say that this film just about maxes out my "awesome meter." I love the Rocky series, warts and all, but Rocky IV provides the perfect balance of bad acting, montage awesomeness, and testosterone-fueled muscled-ness. In this film, released in the midst of the Cold War tension of the 80's, Rocky takes on Ivan Drago, the Soviet champion, in a battle that's symbolic and overblown at the same time. And the soundtrack kicks. Okay, enough chatter, here's some awesome to stick in your grill:

13. Swingers
(Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn)
I hesitated to list this one, since I don't recommend it to a lot of people. There's a lot of language and foolish behavior, but there's also a lot I enjoy about this story of best friends in LA. Mike is still pining over his ex-girlfriend, while Trent keeps trying to introduce his buddy to some "beautiful babies" to get his mind off her. The action follows these two cool cats from LA to Vegas and back, as they drink, mingle, and swing their way around the singles scene. What I love most about this movie is the ending, in which his other friend Rob (played by Ron Livingston) gives Mike some much needed advice about moving on. I know I watched that scene many times when I needed it in the past. Here's a different scene with Mike and Rob:

14. The Godfather
(Marlon Brando, Al Pacino)
Of course I'm including this one. Are you kidding me? The awesomest of all gangster movies. The Corleone family story is stark and moving and disturbing. Great quoteable lines, amazing performances. The film won the "Best Picture" Oscar, and deservedly so. If you haven't seen this one, shame on you. Here's the great opening monologue of the film:

15. Empire Records
(Rory Cochrane, Liv Tyler)
Talk about changing gears, huh? "Godfather," this is not. I'll be honest; this is a paper-thin, cliched teen comedy, and I still love it dearly. The dialogue is what makes it totally work for me. So many funny exchanges. And the music in the film is a blast. Seriously, don't expect Oscar caliber acting from anyone here (though it does include the work of a future Oscar winner!). Want a sappy romantic montage? You got it:

16. Reality Bites
(Winona Rider, Ethan Hawke)
Here you go, here's a higher class of Gen-X romantic comedy. "Reality Bites" defined a generation, in a lot of folks' minds. I don't know if that's true--probably far from it. But it gives you a perfect time capsule of what the "Hollywood version" of Gen X would be--a group of beautiful people confused and frustrated about what it means to be an adult and make your way in the world. Filmed on location in my hometown (downtown Houston, represent!), it is a sweet, funny, silly take on life post-college. Don't criticize it; just trust that it's awesome. Clip? Sure:

17. 10 Things I Hate About You
(Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger)
Another teen comedy, Dave? Yes, because certain teen comedies are awesome. Including this one, which stars the lovely and talented Stiles and the equally lovely and talented, dearly-departed Ledger. This was Heath's break-out role, I think, and it's comes complete with a great script, just the right amount of edgy humor, and some offbeat and fun characters. This updated version of "The Taming of the Shrew" includes several recognizable character actors and a great soundtrack. Here's the trailer:

18. UHF
(Weird Al Yankovic, that "Kramer" guy)
This film is bizarre, nonsensical at times, full of now-outdated pop culture references, and is perfect for late-night, goofball-movie viewing. If you try to take this movie seriously, you will probably hate it, so just don't. It's perfect for the all-night movie fests with friends, where you can let yourself giggle unashamedly at little kids being blown out of their seats by firehoses and "Conan the Librarian." If you don't like Weird Al, I pity you. If you do like him, then you'll love this. The plot follows Al as he inherits a local TV station and proceeds to make it more popular than the local network affiliate, thanks to shows like this:

19. School of Rock
(Jack friggin Black)
Awesomeness Scorecard: Jack Black being funny (check), rock music (check), kids being funny and playing rock music (check). Need I go on? Okay, FINE. JB plays Dewey Finn, a down-and-out former rock guitarist who needs rent money and, in a desperate move, impersonates his roommate and substitutes at an uptight prep school. Once there, he realizes that the musical prodigies in his care would make a kick-butt band, and decides to use them to win "Battle of the Bands" and collect the much needed cash prize. Really, that's it. The whole plot. But do you need more? Here's the clip:

20. The Philadelphia Story
(Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart)
Okay, we're classing this list up now. My top three favorite actors of classic Hollywood, in a brilliantly written stage-to-screen adaptation, possibly the greatest romantic comedy ever. Grant and Hepburn are a divorced society couple, and Stewart is the reporter sent to sneak in (with Grant's help) to do an exclusive tabloid story on Hepburn's second marriage to a society bigwig. Trouble is, Stewart ends up falling for Hepburn. Double trouble is, Grant never stopped loving her. What a great film. Here's your clip, in which a drunk Stewart leaves the pre-wedding party and wakes up Grant with some questions:

Come back tomorrow for "Part the Third" of the PBB Awesome Fifty!

Monday, July 07, 2008

The PBB Awesome Fifty: Part the First

Description: Reader Manders challenged me to name 50 films that I'd recommend to people. Movies that I'd insist my friends watch because I dig them so much. Well, I've endeavoured to compile such a list. But since movie recommendations are no mean feat, and require a host of caveats, I'll begin with the following:

1) This list is subject to change. Daily. But for the purpose of this listing, I'm going to stick to "The PBB Awesome Fifty: June 2008 Edition."

2) This list is made without regard to rating or content. I'll be the first to say that many of these movies have content that some will find offensive. There are more than a few R ratings here. So I will leave it up to you to decide what you watch or don't. Don't blindly rent a film off this list and then complain to me that you heard bad words or saw blood. That being said, there are some things that you won't find on this list. I try to stay away from heavy sexuality in film, because I know I don't need to see it, so I don't recommend it to others. This doesn't mean you won't see a bum or two on this list, but I'll warn you accordingly, if I remember. However, these warnings won't be exhaustive, so you're still on your own.

3) I'll provide film clips when available, but some of these clips may have profanity too. I'll avoid it where I can, and I won't ever post a clip with the heavier stuff, but some minor swears are included, so click accordingly.

4) Following up on the previous: Just because a film is on this list doesn't mean I'd recommend it to EVERYONE. Basically, I created a list of movies for a person with similar convictions and preferences to myself, so if you find you hate half the movies on my list, it doesn't mean I'm wrong. (It means you are.) I'm also not claiming these are the best movies ever made. You won't see Citizen Kane or Casablanca on this list (double checking...yeah, that's right), not because they're not awesome, but because they didn't make the cut of a film I'd say "Wow, that movie is awesome, you should rent it!"

5) The films listed are in no particular order of preference or importance. I don't dare. That would drive me crazy.

Are we ready then? Let's begin.


1) Bringing Up Baby
(Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn)
Probably one of the best examples of "screwball comedy," this hilarious little film paved the way for movies like "What's Up Doc?" In "Baby," Cary Grant is a dinosaur expert who happens to cross paths with the eccentric and sunny Hepburn, who frustrates his search for a rare bone and a top-notch career. Hepburn, meanwhile, takes an immediate liking to Grant, as you would expect. Their fates are eventually linked, thanks to an exotic pet with an affinity for music. I love the script, and I love the actors, two of my three favorite actors from classic Hollywood. In this scene, Cary Grant meets "Baby":

2) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
(James Stewart, Jean Arthur)
This is the type of movie that makes you believe in the myth of the honest politician. Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, a noble, honest man of the people who's swept up into the political machinations of Washington by a friend of his fathers, who gets Jeff named to a Senate vacancy. Once there, however, Jeff Smith decides he has a responsibility to make the country a better place. Obviously, the forces of corruption don't like that one bit. I love the performance given by Jimmy Stewart, and Jean Arthur's savvy, cynical reporter won me over immediately. In this scene, Arthur tries to help Stewart wise up to the ways of politics:

3) Braveheart
(Mel friggin Gibson)
You knew this would be here, right? Braveheart is easily considered one of the ultimate "guy" films, and should be considered primary source material for John Eldredge's complete library. The film is, from what I've gathered, mostly fiction, but is based on the real historical figure William Wallace, the liberator of Scotland. The movie has bloody, realistic, hack-and-slash battles, great dialogue, a powerful score, and one of the most emotionally-moving death scenes on film. I dare you not to cry--especially you guys. (Note: If I remember correctly, there is some marital nudity, so be aware. Oh, and some long-distance "dudity"--the front bits--so be aware of that, too.) Here's a great scene where you get a sense of Wallace's priorities:

4) Army of Darkness
(Bruce friggin Campbell)
This is the third installment in the "Evil Dead" series of low-budget, high-camp horror films, but easily stands alone as a great cheesy horror-comedy movie. Not scary in any real sense (maybe for kids), the movie is first and foremost a vehicle for the character Ashe's "bring it on" personality and sarcastic one-liners. I think the clip demonstrates this (though my preferred clip would have been Ashe's speech about his shotgun, the "boomstick"):

5) Almost Famous
(Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson)
This is a movie in which I love every character. No matter how selfish or mean they act, at the end, almost all of them are redeemable. This film follows William Miller, a teenaged music lover who somehow gets the opportunity to go on tour with the band Stillwater. The story is based on director Cameron Crowe's own real-life teenage years as a "Rolling Stone" writer. (Note: Possible nudity in a couple scenes.) The music in the film is fantastic, including the original Stillwater tunes. Here's a taste of the "band" in action:

6) Kill Bill
(Uma Thurman, David Carradine)
This two-part epic follows "The Bride," a pregnant woman shot by her ex-lover on her wedding day, who wakes up four years later from a coma and wants revenge for herself and her dead baby. She seeks to kill the eponymous Bill, her lover/employer, as well as the four assassins she worked with who were also responsible for the bloody deed. This is a Quentin Tarentino film through and through, in all its style and gory glory, so if you don't like his pictures, steer clear. However, I think it's compelling, exciting, well-written, and just awesome in every way. The following scene is from Part One, in which The Bride travels to Japan to seek out O-Ren Ishii and her gang, the Crazy 88:

7) Clue
(Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd)
Based on the board game, this is another wacky horror-comedy, though "horror" is hardly appropriate to describe the film. There is a murder (or three) in a mansion, and the dinner guests are all suspects. You have the weapons, the rooms, the characters--and an hour and a half of delicious one-liners and puns. Goofy fun, mostly harmless (aside from a few double entendres and other cheeky references), and totally worthwhile.

8) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
(Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet)
This insanely disordered love story is romantic, funny, bizarre, and full of heart. A couple breaks up, and when one decides to have the other "erased" from her memories, the newly-forgotten lover decides to do the same--only to change his mind halfway and fight to save any memories he can before it's all over. The movie obviously deals with the themes of love and loss, memory and personality, and the plot is imaginative and twisty. And every time I watch it, I fall in love with the "messed-up" Clementine. Every single time.

9) Office Space
(Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston)
If you've worked in an office environment, you'll find a lot of common ground here. But what this film so cleverly explores is how the iron clad walls of office politics and convention collapse when one of the worker bees just decides that he doesn't give a crap anymore. Great characters, quotable lines. Almost worth giving up your red stapler for--almost.

10) The Matrix (Trilogy?)
(Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving)
Look, if you were in high school or college at the end of the 90's, you've seen this movie about 46,000 times. In case you haven't, I'm not going to spoil it for you. I was taken by some guys down my hall to a dollar-theater showing, without being told what it was about, and it blew my mind off. I'll simply say--the greatest scifi movie of the last 20 years. Yes, I'll say that. And unlike many, I liked the entire series. The second and third part had their issues, but overall, I thought the story was great--though not awesome enough to be firmly included. (Note: I think there's some nudity in part 2.) Here's one of the iconic scenes from the original film:

Come back tomorrow for Part the Second of "The PBB Awesome Fifty"!!!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Litany, A Linky-Love, and A Ragamuffin Band (Plus A Preview of Next Week!)

Litany: What's going on.

Work's driving me crazy. So much to do and I feel like I'm just trying to stay above the waterline. Plus, I'm moving in less than a month, and haven't really started packing yet. And I'm best man in a wedding two weeks away and I still have some of that preparation to finish. It's crazy. I'm tired.

BUT. God is still God, and He's still good. My life is full of blessings, even if some of them make me a little tired. Loving family, good friends, good job. No complaints.

Linky-Love: Something fun for your weekend.
[PBB Linky-Love Disclaimer: I grab these links from all over, and I usually forget where I get them. If I swiped a link from your page, let me know, and I'll make sure to give you full credit for it.]

A Ragamuffin Band: Here's some music.

This was my first choice, but it won't let me embed the vid, so here's another.

Coming Soon: I'm excited about this. Next week, I'll be featuring "The PBB Awesome 50"!!! Manders challenged me to come up with a list of 50 movies that I recommend to people. These are movies that I'm guaranteed to say, in conversation, "That movie is awesome! You should watch it!"

So coming up Monday, the first ten, with links and commentary.

Anyway, that's it. Have a great weekend, and Happy Birthday America!!!