“The object of a question is to obtain information that matters to us, and no one else.”
- Sean Connery as William Forrester in "Finding Forrester"

Visit My Amazon Store

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And the Nominees Are...

This morning, the nominations for the 78th Annual Academy Awards were announced.

It's shameful but I must admit that I've only seen 10 of the films on this years list:

Needless to say, without having seen the others I can't make any judgements about who should receive the coveted Oscar. But I hope it won't be too long before I can get to see them all.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Oscar Review: The Godfather (1972)

#3 on AFI's list of the 100 Greatest Films of all time, containing the #5 most memorable score, winner of 3 Academy Awards including Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, and one of my personal favorites, The Godfather is without a doubt one of the finest pieces of American cinema ever made.

Family. Business. Revenge. Set in post-WWII New York, The Godfather traces the final years of Don Vito Corleone's (played by Marlon Brando) rule at the head of the most powerful crime family in the city.

We enter the scene at the wedding of Connie Corleone (Talia Shire). The Don and his adopted son/lawyer Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) are listening to the pleas of a man for vengeance for his daughter, Sonny (James Caan) is fooling around with a bridesmaid, and Michael (Al Pacino) arrives home from the war with his girlfriend Kay (Diane Keaton) while girls swoon over Johnny Fontane at the microphone.

As deceit, betrayal, and power struggles abound, competing families fight to gain control of the criminal underworld. When the Don rejects a plan to add drugs to their list of activities and Sonny loses his temper one too many times, it is up to Michael to take over the family business and become someone he never wanted to be.
The Godfather is just an amazing film. Having never seen the trilogy before, I spent a weekend watching them with my mom about 4 years ago and just fell in love with the series. It is so full of great writing, brilliant acting, and that haunting melody.

One of my favorite storylines is Michael's transformation. His rise to power is central to the plot, but the subtle, intensely calm moments throughout the first half of the script really show Michael's progression from little brother to his self-realization as a true part of the business to his assertion of his new role as an active participant in the family. He goes from a nice-guy, Navy Cross recipient who is off-limits as a "civilian" in the eyes of the crime world to orchestrating a double-hit that sends him into exile.

My favorite moments of the entire film are those surrounding Michael's transformation. He finds out his father has been shot and heads to the hospital. When the police guard is nowhere to be seen, Michael feels as though his father is in danger and enlists the help of the baker - who has come to pay his respects - to dissuade a potential hit. Outside on the hospital steps, Michael lights a cigarette in the baker's trembling hands and notices for as his own hands are as steady as can be. Back in his father's office as the sons are frantically plotting revenge, Michael calmly lays out a plan - justifying it as "it's not personal, it's strictly business."

The Godfather is plainly a great movie. A nearly flawless script contains some excellent quotes: "leave the gun, take the canoli;" "Maunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Saturday;" and the #2 quote on AFI's list: "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse."

A fine film, deserving of all it's accolades. If you've never seen it, do. If you have, watch it again and see again the brilliance of Frances Ford Coppola's master work.

UPDATE: An interesting piece of trivia, Marlon Brando became the second person to ever refuse an Oscar for his portrayal of Don Corleone. Brando sent a little-known actress dressed as a Native American (Sacheen Littlefeather) to speak on his behalf in protest of the way the US and Hollywood discriminated against Native Americans.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Oscar Review: The French Connection (1971)

Drugs, car chases, and man named Popeye make The French Connection rank as one of the top 100 films of all time (AFI - #70).

Det. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (played by Gene Hackman) and his partner "Cloudy" (played by Roy Scheider) are two narcotics cops on the streets of NYC. They never seem to catch more than small-time dealers despite following leads that seem to be headed for bigger and badder offenders. That is, until one day when they spot a suspicious character in a local bar.

After tailing the "last of the all-time big spenders" around the city all night they find him making a drop, switching from his Caddy to a less fancy car, entering a little sandwich shop, and his companion removing her blonde wig. Popeye's hunch is beginning to pan out. If only he can convince the higher-ups to let him follow through.

Meanwhile, two men and a television actor make their way into NY from the south of France and begin to lead Popeye, Cloudy, and their fellow cops all over the place as they broker a huge drug deal.

Made by the Frenchman and pulled off the case it is up to Doyle and his partner to solve this mystery all on their own.
Winning 5 of its 8 Oscar nominations - including Hackman's first Academy Award - The French Connection dominated the top spots at the 44th ceremonies.

Tonight was only my second time watching The French Connection in full and it had been more than half a dozen years or so, at least, since the last time - long enough for it to feel new to me - and I found that it wasn't quite as good overall as I had remembered.

The writing isn't great, even though it did win for best adapted screenplay, but it certainly makes up for it in the drama of the chase whether on foot as they shadow suspects or in the high-speed race with an elevated train. Hackman's portrayal of Popeye Doyle quickly became one of the most well-known film cops for his strength of will to follow through when his gut tells him what's right, ranking Doyle as AFI's #44 Film Hero.

Spoiler Alert:
One of the things I really liked about The French Connection that I had forgotten about since the last time, is the way it ends. From time to time I like to see a movie that either doesn't quite resolve itself at the end or the bad guys get away with it. When they're in the abandoned building in the closing minutes of the film, Popeye kills one of the good guys by mistake and you find out during the "where are they now" portion prior to the credits that the Frenchman's whereabouts are unknown and most of the accomplices got off easy leaving Doyle and Cloudy transferred out of narcotics.

I just get tired of happy endings sometimes. Maybe because I know that life doesn't always work out that way - the nice guy doesn't always get the girl, and the microfilm can make its way into the wrong hands - though, one of the reasons to watch a movie is to escape that very reality. But, to me, it's a little more daring, a little more original to make the good guys fall short. There are movies like Heat, where the audience is torn between rooting for the good cop in pursuit or the gang of bank robbers, which leave you thinking about the story on a much deeper level than one where everything is resolved as it should be.

The French Connection is a classic that should be on your list of movies to watch at least once.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Oscar Review: Patton (1970)

Squeeking in at #89 on AFI's list, our next film will be the first in a series that will encompass all of the Best Pictures of 1970-80.

Patton traces the career of the great military strategist, historian, poet and German Occupational Commander General George S. Patton (played by George C. Scott). Believing in reincarnation, Patton felt that he was a brilliant military leader in a previous life and was destined to be great in this one - creating for him a tremendous ego.

A master tank commader and a genius when it came to fighting a land war, Patton rarely met a challenge he couldn't overcome. With his unorthodox methods, his extreme self-confidence, and his temper the general often found himself in hot water with his superiors and was perceived by many as being more than a little insane.
Receiving 7 Oscars (of 10 nominations), Patton is one of those movies that stands out as one of the more comprehensive historical American epics. Though he refused the statuette - the first to do so - George C. Scott won Best Actor for his portrayal. During the awards ceremony, Scott stayed home reportedly watching a hockey game because he felt the Oscars were contrived.

I enjoyed Patton each time I've watched it. It's a hair under 3 hours long, and it feels it! It tries to put in so much of Patton's life, touching on all of his most famous exploits, which, at times, makes the film seem to drag on and jump around a little. The writing is ok for its day, though beware of the cheesy one-liners offered throughout.

Fans of history should enjoy this movie, just be sure you watch it at a time when you won't nod off.

UPDATE: In the spirit of reporting the honors received by these films, in addition to their Oscars, readers might find it interesting that Patton's title character was named as the #29 greatest film hero in AFI's list.

Glücklich Geburtstag, Wunderkind!

Today is Mozart's 250th birthday. If you see him, wish him well!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Oscar Review: The Sound of Music (1965)

The next installment in my Best Picture series is a film that has captured the hearts of moviegoers for over 40 years. Coming in at #55 on the AFI list, The Sound of Music has set a standard for movie musicals.

Based on the real-life story of Maria and the von Trapp family, The Sound of Music chronicles the journey of a young "flibbertijibbet, will-o'-the wisp" would-be nun from a convent to a home with seven children and into the arms of a retired naval captain.

As the children plot their schemes to get her to leave, Maria wins (played by Julie Andrews) them over with her kindness, her courage, and her music. Not only a dictatorial governess, Maria takes the children on adventures throughout the Austrian countryside and acts as counselor, a friend, and brings "the sound of music" back into a house that has grown cold with the harsh whistles of a man who only knows how to run a ship.

Soon, as he wins over the children, she steals the heart of Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) from an impending marriage to Baroness Schrader. When the Nazis take control of Austria, the Captain is called back into service for the Third Reich. To facilitate the family's escape, they enter the Salzburg Folk Festival and while the German's watch, the von Trapp family makes their way into the Alps towards Switzerland.
I'm watching it now, but I haven't seen the film version in I don't know how long. Two years ago the company I work for provided sound for a local middle school's production of the musical. After going through a week's worth of rehearsals and shows - with performances slightly better than one would expect from middle schoolers - I got tired of The Sound of Music and couldn't bring myself to watch it for awhile. But I will always come back to such a classic piece of cinema.

Robert Wise's production of The Sound of Music is an endearing story of the importance of joy and music and imagination. Rogers and Hammerstein's music has been among the most beloved in all of film history taking 3 spots on AFI's Top 100 Songs (though there are many more wonderful selections that didn't make the list):

  • #88 - "Do Re Mi"
  • #64 - "My Favorite Things"
  • #10 - "The Sound of Music"
Winning half of its 10 Oscar nominations, The Sound of Music has proven across the generations that it will be remembered as one of the greatest films of all time.

UPDATE: The Sound of Music was also named as #27 in AFI's list of the best love story's of all time.

Rule of Thirds

Lately I've been walking around in a haze. I'm not sure what's brought it on, but for the past week or so I've just been out of it and not in the best of moods - not cranky, just out of sorts.

In photography and video there are a number of things to consider when composing your shot - lighting and shadow, color, focus, the background, objects in the scene, etc. There is also the rule of thirds. Basically, you want to divide your view into thirds vertically and/or horizontally and place things like the horizon or other objects in your view into those segments to create a well balanced, visually appealing look.

I've been thinking about this some in relation to life. I get about 8 hours or so of sleep each night during the week and I work for around 8 hours per day which leaves roughly 8 hours of open time. Thirds. With work and sleep I'm taking up 2/3 of my week with important activities that are vital to keeping up with quality of life, having a roof over my head and food in my fridge, and so forth. However, there is still the matter of the other third. When taking a picture of a sunset over a lake or ocean, for example, the water or the sky could take up 2/3 and the other element (sky or water) taking up the other third without losing balance. But in life, there should be another element in there to balance the time for work and the time for rest, right?

I just need to fill that space with something other than my schedule of tv shows so I'm not sitting alone in my apartment night after night. Life can be made up of nothing but work and sleep - and the ocassional interactions outside of work - but in order to be balanced and healthy, there needs to be that extra something, something to bring fulfillment, something that gives meaning and purpose, something special...

On to a more exciting note... A couple of weeks ago I bought my ticket to spend a weekend in March in Austin, TX with my best friend from college. On the agenda will be watching movies, playing UNO, and just hanging out and making fun of each other. It's going to be great!

Also, of recent note, I just got my ticket for my Alaskan vacation at the end of May! I'm taking a week to drive around the Land of the Midnight Sun. I've got a decent itinerary set but if anyone out there has been there and have any suggestions let me know!

So, it's not all as depressing as I make it sound, but I still have that other third...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Oscar Review: West Side Story (1961)

The next entry on my list of Best Picture winners comes in at #41 with the American Film Institute and received 10 Oscars out of its 11 nominations and has been regarded as one of the best movie musicals of all time.

West Side Story is the wonderful tale of star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria, whose only crime is that they come from different communities. On the streets of New York City, two rival gangs battle over turf in a neighborhood that is far too small for either of their egos. The "Jets," whites who feel they have a right because of their citizenship, and the "Sharks," Puerto Ricans who want an equal footing in their new home, decide to settle things once and for all in a one on one fight for territory.

During a community dance, Tony, a founding member of the Jets, encounters Maria, the beautiful younger sister of Sharks' frontman Bernardo. As the plans go forward with the fight, Tony and Maria's love affair grows, much to the dismay of 'Nardo and his friends.

When the fight goes south, leaving Tony's friend, Riff, and Bernardo dead Maria and Tony make their plans to leave town. When he is falsly told that Maria was killed for falling in love with an American boy, Tony goes looking for her alleged killer and finds himself getting shot, and dying in Maria's tearful embrace.
West Side Story, based on Shakespeare's beloved play Romeo and Juliet, has been one of my favorites since the first time I saw it back wen I was about 12 years old. The music, the tragedy, everything was just wonderfully told.

Robert Wise, who cut his teeth editing Citizen Kane, did a great job with Jerome Robbins in translating the prototypical tragic love story into a modern-day tale of crossing boundaries in the name of true love. Though, in this version, it can be said that all make out slightly better than Shakespeare's lovers. Of course, having Maria live in grief could arguably be worse than Juliet's fate.

Back on the subject of music, it should be no surprise that West Side Story is the source of 3 of AFI's Top 100 Songs:

  • #59 - "Tonight"
  • #35 - "America"
    and, my personal favorite,
  • #20 - "Somewhere"

I haven't seen West Side Story in a couple of years, but it's definitely one that I need to watch again. Take some time to sit down and enjoy this great piece of film.

UPDATE: In an effort to report some of the honors received by these great films, it is interesting to note that West Side Story was named as the 3rd greatest love story of all time by AFI.

Oscar Review: Ben-Hur (1959)

Yet another film where Charlton Heston doesn't wear any pants. Our next Best Picture comes in at AFI's #72 and is one of many historical epics of the '50s. Ben-Hur - winner of 11 Academy Awards, more than any other film until Titanic (1997) - is the story of a Jewish prince who is sent to prison by his childhood friend, who has returned as the commander of the Roman Legions, over political disagreements and a public misunderstanding.

After spending years in exile, experiencing a wide range of suffering - from extreme heat and thirst in the desert to endless rowing on a Roman ship - Judah Ben-Hur saves the life of an important Roman who adopts him and grants him his freedom. Judah returns home as a champion chariot racer and finds his home abandoned, his mother and sister living in the valley of the lepers, and a man who once gave him water sentenced to death on a cross.
When I was younger, I had seen Ben-Hur a number of times and was taken in by the adventures Judah experienced throughout the film. He escaped from a slave ship while still thinking of others. He regains his freedom through his character and integrity. He befriends a wealthy merchant and becomes a renowned horse racer. And, of course, there's the famous chariot race in Rome. At a younger age, I was easily satisfied with such a story pakced with so many turns of fate.

What I wasn't as conscious of until I got older was the overtly religious aspects of the plot. I was aware of the time frame of the film being during the lifetime of Jesus and that there were a number of encounters throughout.

When I watched Ben-Hur again this past Christmas when I received it as a gift I saw it with different eyes than I did when I watched it last. All in all, the film is a good story with a level of writing one would expect from movies of this era. It does an excellent job carrying out the epic scope of the story with it's many locations and the trials Judah faces. However, watching as a more spiritually mature person than I used to be, I found many of the Christ references and interactions to be more than a bit forced and unnecessary to the overall plot. I don't think Jesus needed to be the one to give Judah a drink of water when he was dying of thirst in the desert or as a catalyst for some change in Judah's sense of compassion. He was always a man of integrity with the well-being of others at the forefront of his thinking and I think that he would've saved the Roman commander and the like anyway without the influence of all of the Jesus references.

Other than the seemingly forced Christian superimposition - which, in my view, hurts the story more than it helps - Ben-Hur is a classic, though I wouldn't say that it is a "must watch."

UPDATE: Also of note, the score to Ben-Hur is ranked at #21 on AFI's list of the 25 greatest film scores.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Oscar Review: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Next on my list of Best Picture winners is a classic of American cinema - despite the fact that it's about a bunch of Brits. The Bridge on the River Kwai, winner of 7 out of 8 of its Oscar nods and occupying the #13 spot with AFI, is a wonderfully made film about a British battalion in WWII that was ordered to surrender and is sent to a POW camp in order to build a bridge in the intense Southeast Asian heat.

Upon arrival at the camp, the Japanese colonel is bent on breaking the Geneva Conventions and forcing the captive officers to perform manual labor alongside the enlisted men. Colonel Nicholson - played by Alec Guinness in the role that won him an Oscar - is intent on retaining control over his own men even in such a dire state. Commander Shears (William Holden), an American, makes a daring escape attempt that will lead him right back into the jungle from which he tried so hard to save himself.

In an attempt to make the most of their situation and to show that the spirit of the men cannot be defeated, rather it continues to thrive, Col. Nicholson takes over supervision of the construction in order to build a bridge they can all be proud of and that will continue to stand for years to come as a testament to British ingenuity and commitment. However, Shears and his fellows have other plans.
The Bridge on the River Kwai has always been one of my personal favorites, perhaps for it's location, perhaps for the story, perhaps because it's the only other movie I've seen with the real Obi-Wan Kenobi. Whatever the reason, this film has continually been one of those films that I could watch over and over again that never gets old.

It is a film about finding a sense of purpose and freedom no matter what your situation. Col. Nicholson sums it up perfectly upon the completion of the bridge when he says: "...there are times when suddenly you realize you're nearer the end than the beginning. And you wonder, you ask yourself, what the sum total of your life represents. What difference your being there at any time made to anything." Life takes you on many a winding path through many types of terrain and it is up to us to make it meaningful, to make the high points worth the struggle of the lows.

Ranked among my favorite classic WWII movies - along with The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, and Midway - The Bridge on the River Kwai is an excellent example of the kind of storytelling that made the cinema great. If you've never seen it, do. And if you have, watch it again and see how this group of soldiers, out in the wilderness, triumphed over adversity and turned defeat into victory.

Sundance 2006

Just an FYI...

Today marks the start of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. IMDb (The Internet Movie Database) has setup a blog to chronicle the week and a half event that presents the newest in independent films and has brought films such as Garden State, Napoleon Dynamite, and others into the mainstream in recent years.

Also, expect more Oscar Reviews to come. It's been a full week and I wanted to watch my next Best Picture on the list again - because it's a favorite of mine - before writing about it. I'll catch up with some more this weekend too and, hopefully, bring us well into the 1960s by next week.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sacred Space: Temples and Churches

My friend Laura, as regular readers may know, lives in Kyoto and spends some time touring around Japan and visiting the countless temples and shrines in the area.

If you click here, she has recently posted about some of the differences between Japanese temples and Christian churches of the Midwest (and, I think across the US in general) in how they function as consistent worship spaces and the care given to them.

There are some interesting observations, have a look!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Oscar Review: Casablanca (1943)

Next in our series is the film that ranked #2 on AFI's list of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time and has been a fan favorite as the consummate love story.

Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, is the story of Rick Blaine, a night club owner trying to live his life on his terms as an American in German occupied Morocco in the early years of WWII. His popularity with the locals and his favorable treatment of local officials when it comes to gambling makes Rick an influential man, someone who can get what he wants and make things happen.

Rick is in total control of his destiny, that is, until one day when a woman from his past makes her way to Rick's Cafe Americain. Ilsa arrives with her husband, Victor Laszlo, on their way to freedom with the German SS hot on their tail. Knowing Rick has ties with some members of the underground, Ilsa approaches him to arrange for their departure on the last plane out of town. Throwing Rick into a tailspin of emotions, he struggles between doing what is right and helping the love of his life, or giving in to his feelings and taking Laszlo's spot so he and Ilsa can be together once again.
I saw Casablanca for the first time about three years ago after having seen clips of it and heard it quoted over and over in When Harry Met Sally... and elsewhere. I was immediately taken in by the story and Rick's inner struggles. A common theme in many stories of love and romance, Casablanca artfully projects the dance between desire and doing what is right. Bogart does an outstanding job at telegraphing Rick's pain and desperation as he tries to maintain his suave image. He must carry on business as usual while at the same time negotiating the transport of Laszlo and Ilsa despite himself.

The writing and atmosphere, along with the diverse company of characters, help to make Casablanca one of those films that endures. This film holds its own even in today's movie market. Though moviegoers will go to the theater to catch the latest romantic comedy one would be hard-pressed to find a contemporary story that could come close to the brilliance of Casablanca.

Casablanca took home 3 of it's 8 Oscar nominations and has been hailed ever since has a classic among classics. It is full of some of the most quoted lines in all of movie history, taking 6 of the slots on AFI's top 100 - more than any other film:

  • #67 - "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."
  • #43 - "We'll always have Paris."
  • #32 - "Round up the usual suspects."
  • #28 - (one of the most misquoted) "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'"
  • #20 - "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
  • #5 - "Here's looking at you, kid."

It's charm and it's passion make Casablanca one of the most beloved films ever made. It somehow taps into those recurring themes in life and makes them speak to us generations later, making it onto my "Must Watch" list. No matter who you are, a hopeless romantic like me or a diehard action fan I know that once you watch it, Casablanca will move you in a way few other films can.

UPDATE: In an effort to report the honors received by these great films, it might be of interest to know that Bogart's portrayal of Rick Blaine was named the #4 greatest film hero by AFI. "As Time Goes By" was listed as the #2 song, and Casablanca was named the #1 greatest love story.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Oscar Review: Gone with the Wind (1939)

During the next month and a half, I will be taking a look at 40 films that have been honored as the Best Picture of the year.

Our first film in this series is the earliest in my collection, the classic Gone with the Wind. Nominated for 13 Academy Awards and winner of 8 (plus a special award, and one for science and technology) at the 1939 ceremonies, Gone with the Wind has since graced high spots on countless lists of the greatest movies of all time with the American Film Institute ranking it at #4.

Known for the colorful characters of the Old South in the mid-nineteenth century, Gone with the Wind follows the lives of Scarlett O'Hara played by Vivian Leigh - and the well-to-do of Georgia. Scarlett loves a man, Ashley Wilkes, but is crushed to hear that he will be marrying his cousin Melanie. On a whim, and somewhat out of spite, Scarlett marries another man. After she loses her husband to pneumonia, her mother to disease, and her father to a riding accident, Scarlett is left to take charge of Tara, her family's large plantation, and the welfare of a community of family, friends, and workers.

In order to pull herself out of despair and utter ruin, Scarlett steals a second husband from her sister - who, of course, soon dies as well. She becomes desperate in her attempts to keep her home and to keep up appearances while struggling with her own fear. Scarlett and Rhett - played by Clark Gable - after crossing paths throughout the plot, finally marry and build a new home together. As is expected, tragedy strikes again when their daughter dies, exposing a great rift between Rhett and Scarlett which eventually leads to Rhett leaving for good.
I had seen Gone with the Wind maybe once or twice when I was younger, and then again when I received it as a gift this past Christmas. It is an epic story that, at times, feels a lot longer than necessary. Clocking in at just under four hours long, it can be a marathon of viewing all in itself. Being 60+ years old, it is obviously of an older style of filmmaking that makes it somewhat difficult to maintain the interest of a more modern audience. The script is very dialogue heavy which certainly would have an affect on attention deficient viewers.

While watching, I mainly found Scarlett to be extremely annoying, to be honest. She was stuck on a man who never loved her reciprocally. She married a series of men whom she didn't love at all, causing others, who actually loved them, to suffer. When/if she ever shared her true feelings with anyone it would be at the exact wrong time, only causing more pain. More often than not she would distort her story, or downright lie to get her way. It was her form of self-preservation, her way of coping with the world coming down around her. I am sure that she loved her family and friends but she seemed to always put herself first. I just thought that she was one of the more annoying characters ever.

After a bit of reflection, though, I saw her courage and her strength. In addition to the keeping-up-appearances mindset of the Old South, Scarlett felt that she had to wear a strong face for herself. She couldn't continue in the midst of so much tragedy if she gave in to all her fear from the turnings of her life. As they continued to pile up, she began to lose more and more of her venear, thus turning many, if not all,in her life away. It's a tragic story, told on a scale that hadn't been attempted before, making it an enduring classic.

Though I wouldn't personally place the film itself on a personal favorites list for it's cinematic merits alone, I can certainly understand why it's become such a beloved movie. The writing, though a bit wordy and whiny for my taste overall, has produced three of AFI's Top 100 Movie Quotes:

  • #59 - "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."
  • #31 - "After all, tomorrow is another day!"
    and, of course
  • #1 - "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

Also of note, which, for me, makes it worthy of acclaim, Gone with the Wind was the film which garnered Hattie McDaniel a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of "Mammy" and thus honoring the first African-American woman with an Academy Award - long before the Civil Rights Movement.

First impressions often make or break a movie. However, given the depth contained in the cinematic medium, the best movies will constantly provide new windows into meaning each time you view them, and long after the final credits have rolled. While I wasn't very fond of Gone with the Wind as I watched - to the contrary, I sat in awe of how such a film would be considered one of the greats - I have since come to see its value and it's place in the scheme of film history.

If you haven't seen it, I have to say that it is worth seeing. Enjoy!

UPDATE: In an effort to report the honors bestowed upon these great films, it may be interesting to note that Gone with the Wind is listed as the #2 greatest love story and the #2 greatest film score.


I've been having some issues posting over the past few days and Blogger has been less than helpful thus far. So, to make it a little easier for myself, I have switched - for now, if not permanently - to a "blogspot" address for the blog.

The new address is http://jasondavidmoore.blogspot.com, though I have also redirected my former address to the new space so current links will still work as usual.

I hope this doesn't cause too much confusion.

Oscar Season 2006

On Tuesday January 31st, the nominations will be announced for this year's Academy Awards that will be held on Sunday March 5th. As regular readers of this blog know, I am a bit of a movie buff and take a certain amount of pride at my knowledge of movie trivia and history.

Over the next month and a half or so, I will be posting reviews of many of those films which have been honored with the Academy Award for Best Picture between 1939 and 2004. Though I own 31 of these, I will be expanding my list to reviewing those which I have seen - making the number closer to 40.

I hope you will find this endeavor to be as enjoyable as I hope to.

Inspired by Psalm 130

From the depths of my being I cry out,
“Hear Me!”
“Heal my spirit; fill me with hope and joy!”
Grant me your peace,
Show me your way,
Have mercy on me.
O, Divine Essence,
My heart waits for recreation,
For my own willingness to be renewed.
Sing to me your sacred songs,
Your holy songs of love,
Songs that ring out truth and life.
I wait.
For forgiveness for my past,
For hope for my future.
I wait.
For joy in the here and now,
For love and for peace.
I wait.
Because you are the Heart of Forgiveness.
You are the Substance of My Hope.
I wait.
Because you are the Source of All Joy.
You are Love and Peace.
I will wait.
Because without your undying mercy,
Without your recreative power,
I would not be who I could be,
No more complete, and no more whole,
No closer to where and what you are.
And so I will wait.
Though I may cry out,
Though I may feel broken and lost,
I will wait.
Because it is worth it,
Because I need you,
I will wait.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Inspired by Psalm 15

What do you require of my life?
Who is it that you want me to be?
In this world where things are uncertain,
And every situation demands me to be someone else,
Who do you want me to be?
You ask for my heart to be strong,
For me to do what is right
And to live a life of truth.
You ask that I speak with a gentle tongue
And that I treat every person with equity,
Seeing all as you do.
You ask me to work for the cause of good,
To love those who need love,
Especially when it is hard.
You ask that I give all that I can,
Asking nothing for myself
But having compassion and mercy for others.
You ask for my life to be as one blessed,
To be a vessel of your grace,
A messenger of your peace.
I confess that I am not who I should be.
And, at my best, I am far from your ideal.
Forgive me…

A feeling of calm runs through me.
I feel your presence all around,
And within.
I find comfort in your soft whispers,
Solace in your quiet company.
As I strive for the greater things,
To live out the love you have shown me,
Your constancy calms my spirits.
I now understand the reality of your words.
I must try with all my heart,
I must grow toward a higher purpose.
You do not ask for perfection,
That I be higher than anyone else.
You ask only for a courageous existence,
Living as best I can,
Not letting myself get in the way of your Love.
You ask that I make a difference,
That I be the difference in this world.
And I will do my part.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

From a Good Friend For a Good Cause

My friend Laura's friend Anna is running in the Boston Marathon this April. Aside from this being a tremendous feat in and of itself, she is running to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, specifically in memory of Laura's father who died of Leukemia when she was a child.

To read more, or to donate, please click on one of the links below:

If you are able, and willing, please take a few minutes to support Anna and her efforts and spread the word. Thank you.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sacred Songs

For the past 2-3 years, my dad and I have written and released a series of four devotional resources called Sacred Paths, Sacred Signs (for Advent), Sacred Renewal , and Sacred Love (for Lent). As you will find, if you visit the site and listen, is that they are free verse - for the most part - poems set to a musical background to enhance the listening experience and to help the listener get into a more reflective mood.

Recently we've begun work on our fifth volume entitled Sacred Songs, based on selected Psalms. More than a paraphrased retelling of the Psalms, we are trying to take the themes and flow of ideas found in each selection and allow them to be expressed through a more personal lens. When all is said and done, we will have 14 selections based on Psalms 1, 8, 15, 23, 24, 46, 51, 100, 105, 121, 130, 137, 139, and 150. We are still in the writing process and will probably not release it until the end of the month at the earliest.

Even though I have four of my seven roughed out already, I just finished the one based on Psalm 139. Enjoy...

Psalm 139
Source of All Life…
Heart of My Own Heart…
You know me well.
Not just my habits and my routines
You know me,
You know who I really am.
You see all the dirt and the grime,
You see the subtle flaws,
Stains of an imperfect past.
Deeper than my fractured façade,
Underneath the myriad masks I wear,
You understand my authentic Self.
You hear the unspoken,
The wordless ramblings of my mind,
As they search for expression.
I cover my eyes,
I turn away,
“Don’t look at me!” I cry.
But you remain,
A strong hand with a gentle touch,
You remain.
You are Love Beyond Measure,
Your are Hope Beyond Hope,
You are the Fabric of My Being.
As small as I am,
As one among so many,
You watch for me, and guide the way.
Whatever the path my journey shall take,
As I rise up on the wings of the morning
And sail to the other side of distant horizons,
My heart will be full,
My focus will be clear,
With the knowledge that you are with me.
Giver of Life, Source of My Peace,
You are ever in my heart,
And I am home.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Looking Forward

It's hard to quantify or qualify this past year of my life. There were certainly some highs and some lows, some big steps forward for myself and some missed opportunities. Overall, a year like none other. There may be some situations I would handle differently if faced with them again, however I would rather look forward with the wisdom from my past.

During my time off last week I spent some time reflecting on the significance of turning 25. The obvious is the quarter-century mark. When described in the context of a century, 25 carries with it a weight not applied to any other age. Sure, when you hit 10 you're an entire decade old; at 20, you're two, and no longer a teenager. You can get your license at 16. At 18 you can vote and join the military. At 21 you can drink... legally. But 25 doesn't have any special designation like the others - well, that's not true, my car insurance rates go down. It's all psychological, really. It's a nice round number, so it must mean something.

At 18 I gained independence when I went to college; I could start really living my life the way I wanted, making my own decisions. At 20 I was a counselor at a summer camp in the care of children - real responsibility. At 21 I traveled around the world accumulating life experience and a unique perspective on where I fit in the grand scheme. At 22 I graduated college and got my own apartment, really growing up now. For the past two and a half years since then I have been growing into the man that I am in a different way than ever before. There were no prescribed steps along the way, no real markers to keep track of my progress.

For as long as I can remember, I've always been perceived as being older than I am and, often, I have felt a year or two older too. So, in some ways, it's no big deal turning 25 other than the fact that I'm now numerically as old as I felt for the past year. In others ways, though, I feel like I need to begin taking a more serious look at the road ahead. It is now when I hope to see my life turn down the path that I will take for the next 50 or so years.

I'm not sure what will come of this next year. What trials will I face? What joys? What sorrows? What triumphs? Will my dreams come true? Will lightning strike? Who will I meet? And when? How can I take the reigns and steer my way in the right direction for myself?

As with most things, there are more questions than answers. But it is these soup questions that drive my quest for true meaning, purpose, and life. I don't know what is out there waiting for me in the fog of my future or what lies over that next horizon. But I live in hope. I know deep down in a place I cannot understand that "whatever is good and right will come" and make all the difference.

I watched one of my favorite movies tonight - Amelie - and I realized, as I always do while watching, that it is the simple pleasures that carry the most meaning, that make life extraordinary and unique. I need to be on the lookout for the little adventures that no one knows about, for the soft and silent moments that mean something to me alone. It is there that I will find true life. And it is there, that I will find myself.

Here's to my New Year!