Sunday, December 19, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part XV

How the West Was Won (1962)
This may be the most epic western ever made. The Cinerama process (an ultra-widescreen format) captures the American west in all its grandeur. The problem is that the movie gets too big for its britches. Much like Giant and Cavalcade, How the West Was Won tries to tell too much story in its (already considerably lengthy) running time. Characters came and went throughout the film and I was never always sure who was who and what their relationships to each other were. It was more like a series of short films strung together than one cohesive narrative.

The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
There is no story here, just a series of parody sketches from the guys who later made Airplane! It is very funny though also very R-rated, but feels more like watching an episode of Saturday Night Live than an actual movie.

American Psycho (2000)
This film is too grim and dark for my liking and, aside from a scene in which our antihero and his colleagues compare business cards, not very funny for being a satire.

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)
Having seen some of the new episodes of Doctor Who, I was curious to check out some of the classic Doctor Who stuff. And then I saw this movie was available on hulu. And it starred Peter Cushing as the Doctor. So I watched it. First of all, it is not a part of the Doctor Who canon but a spinoff movie made for American audiences with some of the major bits of Doctor Who mythology altered in order to make it more accessible. It is a rather hokey movie with very dated production design, though consistent with the little bit of classic Doctor Who that I have seen. There is little to recommend here, even to fans of Doctor Who or Peter Cushing.

Moon (2009)
This is an intriguing tale of a man working all alone on a remote lunar mining facility. While the film has a slow pace it covers some interesting narrative territory. (Or it would have had I not worked on a student film about ten years ago that basically had the same basic plot twist to it.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part XIV

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
The movie started out interesting as a very patriotic American begins to question his faith in his country, but as the movie progressed and got more and more pessimistic and more and more ugly, I got less and less interested in the character and the message he was preaching.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)
I find it interesting that this light-hearted movie aimed at kids and young adults that takes place in the modern world seems to have more affection for the mythological stories and characters it contains than the major studio release that actually told one of the major mythological stories.

Idiocracy (2006)
What starts out as a brilliant commentary on where a society raised on entertainment that caters to the lowest common denominator and shuns intellectualism can end up quickly becomes a one-note comedy with the same handful of jokes being repeated on an endless loop. It could have made an excellent short film, but stretched out to feature length it starts to become the very thing it is mocking.

The International (2009)
There is a thrilling action set-piece in the Guggenheim Museum that is the highlight of the film. The rest of the movie, however, is pretty run-of-the-mill international espionage stuff.

Puss in Boots (1988)
I have vague memories of watching a version of Puss in Boots as a kid, a version which I have been interested in revisiting. I was hoping this was it. It wasn’t. It was, however, a harmless children’s movie that featured the always entertaining Christopher Walken in the title role.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part XIII

The Bad Seed (1956)
The pretty little girl with no moral compass was very creepy. What is more frightening is that children like her can actually exist.

Sunshine Cleaning (2008)
Alright, I admit it. I only watched this movie because it has Amy Adams in it. This was a fun, quirky little comedy that suffered from feeling a little too much like Little Miss Sunshine 2.0 but was otherwise enjoyable throughout.

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962)
The dramatizations of three of the Grimm fairy tales are quite magical but the surrounding story of the two brothers trying to write a duke’s family history is overlong and dull.

To Have and Have Not (1944)
The movie feels a little too much of a remake of/sequel to Casablanca, but Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall sizzle on screen and Walter Brennan is fun as always, making for a very entertaining film. (And, really, if you’re going to rip off another movie, you might as well steal from one of the best.)

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
I’m sorry, but a marriage between two extremely flaky people will never last and it wasn’t very funny either.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part XII

New Moon (2009)
I thought that this would at least be an improvement over Twilight. After all, they replaced the first director with the director of the snappy About a Boy so at least the plodding pace would be sped up. No such luck. The incessant pausing in mid-sentence by every single main character was amplified. We also get what pretends to be a love triangle for Bella whose talent for being vapid reaches new heights. I kept waiting for something to happen. And waiting. And waiting. And then there was a glimmer of what might be mistaken for some rising action and I thought, “Now we must be getting to the explosive climax.” But instead of something happening the credits just rolled. The climax was so uninteresting that I completely missed it and I had to think back and figure out what it was supposed to be. At least the first one had a poorly-staged action piece for a climax, but the only suspense in New Moon came from waiting to see if anyone could get through a complete sentence without a giant pause.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
This is a cute story about two girls dealing with their mother’s illness. The find companionship in Totoro, the giant, mute forest spirit that is half bunny rabbit, half teddy bear, and 100% adorable. And there’s a giant cat that doubles as a school bus.

Clash of the Titans (2010)
I enjoy Greek mythology and thought the original movie was pretty good, so I was interested to see the new take on the Perseus myth (though I did make sure to go in with low expectations). There were some fun action scenes and some wild visuals (that still failed to measure up to the gorgeous stop-motion work by Ray Harryhausen in the original) and I walked away from the theater feeling more satisfied than not. But the more I thought about it afterward the less I though of it. The fatal flaw in the movie is the world view or lack thereof. The trailer (and the tagline “Damn the gods”) make it seem like a humanist piece where Perseus rejects the gods and does things his own way. But in the movie he accepts gifts from the gods and uses them to complete his quest. And yet the gods are painted in such an unsympathetic light that a reading of “the gods are powerful and make things work which makes them worthy of worship and obedience” doesn’t work very well either. It’s as if the filmmakers couldn’t decide which extreme they wanted to shoot for and waffled back and forth so much that they ended up in a wishy-washy middle that would be stupid if it managed to be adequately expressed. I might be getting too worked up about a silly popcorn movie about deities from a long dead religion, but is an internal consistency too much to ask for?

Mulholland Dr. (2001)
The movie starts out fairly interesting with a story about an aspiring actress trying to make her way in Hollywood. But three quarters of the way through the film director David Lynch pulls the rug out from under the audience and takes the film in a completely new direction. The audience is supposed to be asking questions like: was it all a dream?, which part was the dream?, and how does my perception of the first three quarters of the film change in light of the final quarter? Me? I was busy thinking unhappy thoughts at the movie while I rubbed my bruised coccyx.

Perfect Blue (1998)
This anime film has some striking visuals but gets really weird and dark in places.

Coming up next: five more movies that don't have enough in common for me to come up with a clever teaser.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part XI

The Kid from Brooklyn (1946)
Danny Kaye stars in this mediocre remake of The Milky Way (1936), a Harold Lloyd talkie. Even Danny Kaye is unable to match Lloyd's wide-eyed innocence, and events that were charming in the original come across as forced in the remake.

The Hidden Fortress (1958)
This is the story of political intrigue, hidden treasure, and a princess in disguise told from the point of view of two nobodies who most of the time don’t even know what is going on. This highly entertaining piece from Akira Kurosawa was the primary influence for C-3PO and R2-D2 in Star Wars.

Libeled Lady (1936)
It’s William Powell and Myrna Loy on screen together in a fun comedy. What more do you need to know? See it.

Dark Star (1974)
This low budget science fiction comedy is slow and dull at times but contains some fun sequences like an encounter with an alien which looks like a giant beach ball and a conversation with an armed bomb that feels straight out of Douglas Adams.

The Wolfman (2010)
While there are a couple good scary and gory scenes of the wolf doing terrible things to innocent people, the story is far from interesting and the filmmakers’ attempts to enhance the mythology come across as little more than silly padding.

Coming up next: some disappointing fare.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part X

Repo Man (1984)
This movie can’t decide if it’s a coming of age story featuring lots of colorful characters or if it’s a movie about dangerous alien technology. Either one of those could be interesting but thrown together they end up being at odds with one another ultimately resulting in an interesting failure of a movie.

The Lovely Bones (2009)
What was so great about this story that it HAD to be a movie? Whatever it was did not come across on screen. Narrative threads disappear without warning, the afterlife in which the murdered main character finds herself makes very little sense, and it all leads up to an unsatisfying non-ending. Sure the visuals are pretty cool in the afterlife scenes and Stanley Tucci is pretty creepy as the murderer, but it still just adds up to a rather empty and bleak two hours.

The Blind Side (2009)
This is a wonderful movie about unconditional love and how it can change the lives of not only the recipient but also the giver as well.

Fantasyland (2010)
Every year a bunch of experts in fantasy baseball play against each other in a high profile league called Tout Wars. One year the question was asked, “How well would a regular guy do against all these so-called experts?” Enter Jed Latkin, a wide-eyed, enthusiastic fan of fantasy baseball. He starts out as David versus Goliath, but as the movie progresses he is so obsessed with winning that we soon start rooting for him to fail because he is so obnoxious. At one point he is more interested in swinging a trade than being with his wife while she is in labor. For people who are unfamiliar with fantasy baseball, it isn’t a very good primer on how the game works. On the other hand, for people like me who are avid fans of the game, there was a frustrating lack of information about how he managed his team (and we were never once treated to a look at his entire roster). It is worth checking out for people who are already fans of fantasy baseball, but for those who are more interested in learning about fantasy baseball, the 45 minute documentary “Silly Little Game” produced by ESPN is much more informative.

Gun Crazy (1950)
The noir-ish look to this film is why phrases such as "glorious black and white" exist. It is glorious to look at. Unfortunately, it is accompanied by a thinly-veiled cautionary tale of how a young man's life can be ruined by fast women and an obsession with guns.

Coming up next: a couple older comedies.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part IX

The Wicker Man (2006)
Nicholas Cage wears a bear suit, punches women, and screams ridiculous lines in this remake that fails in just about every aspect that the original succeeded. Where the original is creepy, this one is boring. Where the original is suspenseful, this one is silly. And while the original has an interesting religious discussion, this one creates an unnecessary back story for Cage’s character that only serves to confuse matters.

Speed Racer (2008)
The races are fun, the sets are colorful, and the actors are attractive in this movie that is an enjoyable two hours that won’t stick with you.

Play Time (1967)
There is no real story to speak of here, merely a series of extended comedic set-pieces enacted almost entirely through the visuals. The highlight of the film is a sequence that depicts the opening of a restaurant in which almost everything goes wrong. There are some wonderful gags sprinkled throughout the film, from the doorman who is unable to do his job because he has to use an ultra-modern button panel that is a complete mystery to him, to a floor tile that has come unstuck so every time the head waiter walks passed that spot on the floor he actively avoids the tile. The pace of the film is almost maddeningly slow, leaving the audience to seek out the comedy instead of having it spoon-fed to them.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)
On our way to see this movie, my friend asked me how I would do a dramatization of the Alice books. After giving it some thought my answer was that since the books are so episodic with very little overarching story and almost nothing carrying over from one scene to the next there were only two ways to really do it right. The first way would be to do a very faithful adaptation and take advantage of the episodic nature of the books and do it as a television show or web serial. The other way would be to take characters and situations from the book and put them into a brand new story that has a much more structured narrative. This movie uses the second tactic and is mostly successful. The Mad Hatter plays too large a role (it makes me wonder if Johnny Depp being cast in the role caused it to grow too big) and the Jabberwock is woefully underused, but the visuals are gorgeous, transporting the audience into a fascinating world of wonder.

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)
So this is my first foray into the real world of Bollywood and it was a mostly enjoyable experience. It features a cast of wonderfully colorful characters and has some fun musical numbers. On the other hand, at over three and a half hours long it occasionally gets tedious, especially during the climax of the film which revolves around a cricket game. Since this movie taught me pretty much all I know about cricket, I had a hard time really investing in the action of the game since I don’t know all the nuances of the sport, though I can speak with more authority when I say that cricket is indeed a stupid sport.

Coming up next: more catching up from 2009.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part VIII

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Some of the elements in this film were quite interesting (the post-apocalyptic society created by Tina Turner as well as the Thunderdome itself) while others were far too farcical to be believed (the village of children and their prophesies). What results is a mixed bag in which the best elements are as good as what we saw in The Road Warrior (1981) while the worst ones are only good for Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
There are some amusing hijinks that occur as a group of actors try to put on a show during the depression. But the real reason to see the movie is the lavish musical numbers staged by Busby Berkeley.

Village of the Damned (1960)
This is a wonderfully creepy horror movie with a town that mysteriously falls asleep and loads of freaky children. It’s just too bad that the conclusions to these types of movies rarely measure up to their premises.

Nine (2009)
I went to see this film at the dollar theater. The film started with visions of South Africa. I quickly realized that they had put the wrong movie into the projector, and were actually showing Invictus instead. “That’s fine,” I said to myself. “I also wanted to see Invictus.” But after only about five minutes someone somewhere realized the mistake and changed the film to Nine. I probably would have been better off with Invictus. It’s not that there’s anything really wrong with the movie, it’s just that there was nothing in it that I liked. The characters were all selfish jerks, the look of the film was quite drab, and none of the musical numbers were interesting or memorable. Just about the only bright spot in the movie is Marion Cotillard as the long-suffering wife of Daniel Day-Lewis’ philandering movie director.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
To be honest, the trailer didn’t entice me. It looked like cheap animation combined with yet another gratuitous celebrity voice cast. But what I got was an immensely entertaining movie with interesting characters, humorous animation, and a jaunty score.

Coming up next: three remakes/reimaginings and two really long foreign films.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part VII

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
There were some interesting visuals, but this Roger Corman pseudo-classic used way too many narrative cliches to catch my interest.

First Blood (1982)
Sylvester Stallone creates an interesting character in John Rambo. The movie was a lot smaller than I was expecting but still quite entertaining. When I watched the film I had just had my car towed and so it was easy for me to identify with this man who was being picked on by the police for no good reason.

Rififi (1955)
It starts kind of slow and ends rather grimly, but the real reason to watch this film is the heist sequence that takes up most of the second act, is mostly silent, and is very thrilling.

The Road (2009)
While this interesting, moody, post-apocalyptic film creates a wonderful atmosphere and gives us a couple interesting characters, it gets bogged down by its slow pace as I kept waiting for SOMETHING to happen.

The Merry Widow (1934)
Most of the musical numbers are unremarkable in this Ernst Lubitsch musical. The real reason to watch it is the wonderful repartee and hijinks the characters get themselves into. Of special note is Maurice Chevalier as the biggest playboy in the kingdom who is very funny and an obvious influence on Pepe Le Pew.

Coming up next: a couple musicals that are worlds apart.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part VI

Hmm, it's Thanksgiving and I'm talking about two horror movies and one pseudo-horror film. And a revisionist western. I guess I really should have released these yesterday. Oh well, happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'm thankful for hulu, Netflix, the Los Angeles County Public Library, and the dollar theater who have combined to make these entries possible.

Phantom of the Opera (1998)
Horror director Dario Argento takes the classic story and gives it the full-on horror treatment. While there were some interesting visuals, the whole thing comes across as silly and grotesque and not very scary, and the opening sequence is a complete ripoff of Batman Returns (1992).

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
This is a pretty good revisionist western, and while Clint Eastwood is not quite in top form, it is still quite entertaining.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
The visuals are stunning (what else would you expect from Terry Gilliam?) and Christopher Plummer puts in a heart-tugging performance as Doctor Parnassus, the world-weary leader of a four-person traveling sideshow. While the rules of the world don't always make sense, it is a feast for the eyes that is well worth it. (Insert obligatory comment about this being Heath Ledger's final performance here.)

The Wicker Man (1973)
This is a bizarre little horror film that almost masquerades as a musical in the first half. Things start out unsettling and get progressively creepier as a policeman tries to track down the disappearance of a little girl on a remote island populated solely by unnerving cult members. This film is recommended for people who enjoy quirky horror films.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Having seen all seven seasons of the television show, I was interested to see "the one that started it all" (sort of). I went in knowing that it would be a far cry from the television show, but even knowing that I was still let down. The comedy fell flat, the drama was unengaging, the villain was yawn-inducing, and to top it all off, Kristy Swanson was completely unconvincing as any kind of superhero and gave me absolutely no reason to care about her as a person.

Coming up next: some more dour fare. I wasn't intentionally watching all these types of movies at the same time but the do seem to want to clump together.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part V

The Jacket (2005)
I was hoping for an interesting, mess-with-your-mind movie that kept me guessing through the very end. Instead I got a mediocre movie with some uninspired time travel.

A Christmas Carol (2009)
This may be the most cinematic version of A Christmas Carol ever made and the most visually stunning. On the other hand, Jim Carrey as an old man was weird (he should have waited 20 years to play Scrooge), Bob Cratchit just looked off, and the whole thing came off as rather emotionally shallow.

Catwoman (2004)
This movie is a series of dumb ideas. First of all, they completely threw out all of the Batman mythology surrounding the character of Catwoman and made up a completely new world around the character. So what was the point of calling it Catwoman? Then they cast the severely overrated Halle Berry as Catwoman. Then they dressed her in some bizarre, partially completed dominatrix outfit. The story is dumb and there are no interesting characters. There are, however, too many shots of cats for me to truly hate this movie, and Halle Berry acting all cat-like was actually a well-executed idea.

Cloverfield (2008)
I am glad I waited until DVD to see this movie. The concept is interesting and the camera-work is believable as found footage shot by an amateur. On the other hand, the single point of view got a little monotonous, and I would have liked to have a little more explanation for everything that happened.

Eight Men Out (1988)
This dramatization of the 1919 Black Sox scandal examines what it would take for prominent members of the best team in baseball to intentionally lose the world series. It is an interesting character study, and of course features lots of baseball. (Though I did find the movie a little frustrating in that I recognized almost all the actors but couldn’t figure out where I recognized them from, even after a trip to imdb.)

Coming up next: some classic and not-so-classic horror.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part IV

These are long overdue. I should be getting more punctual in the future since I'm joining Procrastinators Anonymous tomorrow.

Pillow Talk (1959)
This is an amusing romantic comedy with a romance that could only exist in Hollywood. There is no way a relationship between these people would ever last in real life.

Up in the Air (2009)
I’m not sure what it is about Jason Reitman’s films, but I find myself really enjoying them, even when the subject matter is not something that would normally interest me. I think what it is is that they are just askew enough from the mainstream Hollywood fare to be fresh and different without falling into the “quirky for the sake of being quirky” trap that plagues far too many independent films. Case in point is Up in the Air, which features George Clooney as a man whose job it is to fly all over the country and fire people. Not only does he consider his services an art form, but he has worked hard to turn traveling into an art form as well, honing his lifestyle and possessions to the point where he can get into and out of the airport with the greatest ease. While the premise of the film is certainly topical, it never swells up with Importance, letting its audience draw its own conclusions.

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
The look of this movie is fantastic, beautifully translating Maurice Sendak’s artwork to the big screen. Too bad nothing worthwhile happens in this beautiful world. The first time we see our young hero Max, he is wrestling with a dog (while growling like an inarticulate idiot), and doing it so violently that I was waiting for the dog to bite him out of self defense. I am not a dog person, but at that point I was more emotionally involved with the dog than with Max. And Max never did win me over, acting like a punk kid through the whole movie. And when he runs off and enters the world of the monsters, I was expecting them to be older and wiser than Max and teach him valuable life lessons, but instead they were all just as emotionally immature as he was. This left me with no character to latch on to and twenty minutes into the movie I was ready for it to be over.

Where Eagles Dare (1968)
A crack team of Allied officers is sent on a mission to rescue a captured general from the Nazis in the days leading up to D-Day. The hitch: the general is being held captive inside a nearly impregnable castle deep inside German territory. While the number of plot twists in the third act gets a little ridiculous, this is a rip-roaring adventure yarn that features a thrilling cable-car sequence as its centerpiece.

Zodiac (2007)
San Francisco is rocked by a series of murders committed by the mysterious Zodiac killer. He taunts the authorities and creates a city-wide panic by sending cryptic messages to the major San Francisco newspapers. The scenes featuring Zodiac’s murders are full of tension and dread. But this is not so much about a serial killer and his reign of terror as it is a character study of three men who are faced with a mystery that is never solved. Their quest to discover the identity of the Zodiac goes from a desire to bring him to justice to just simply being obsessed with finding out who did it.

Coming up next: more overdue mini reviews.

Friday, October 22, 2010

How Sweet It Is

1993 marked the end of an era. Nolan Ryan, the greatest strikeout pitcher of all time, was pitching his final season. It also marked the beginning of an era, though one of less import to the national scene. In the summer of 1993 my family moved to Dallas. Having not made many friends and still waiting for the moving van to arrive with most of our stuff, we were looking for something to do. So someone decided to turn on the Ranger game. I had enjoyed watching baseball and considered myself a baseball fan, but growing up overseas meant I had no chance to follow a team or really consume anything baseball related. At that point I could maybe name half of the major league teams but didn't know any player names other than Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Mickey Mantle.

All that changed the summer of 93. Suddenly I had a team. I was immediately drawn to Juan Gonzalez (Hey, that's just like Speedy Gonzalez!) and Ivan Rodriguez (Hey, that's the same last name as the kid in The Sandlot!).* But though it was their names that initially drew my attention, it was the way they played the game - Gonzalez with his bat, Rodriguez with his glove - that held it. They were my first official sports heroes.

*Growing up in Papua New Guinea means that you don't learn things like Gonzalez and Rodriguez are common Hispanic last names.

It has been a long eighteen years, full of highs and lows (and it seems more lows than highs). But through it all I have remained faithful to my Rangers. Even a move to Southern California did not shake my allegiance. The local team that made it to the playoffs six times over the past decade did not cause my loyalty to waver. And now for the first time I can proudly say that the Rangers are headed to the World Series!

But it is more than that, because they advanced by beating the Yankees, and beating them decisively. "What's so special about the Yankees?" you may very well ask. "Sure they have the highest payroll in baseball, have a rich, storied history, and carry two notable former Rangers on their roster, but you know you're going to face the best teams in the playoffs." True. But to get a proper perspective, we have to go back to 1996.

1996 was a good year for the Rangers. The team won 90 games. Juan Gonzalez won his first of two MVP awards. Manager Johnny Oates was the co-winner of the Manager of the Year award. But what really made 1996 so special was that it was the first time in team history that the Rangers made the playoffs. Our first opponent was the Yankees. Game 1 was beautiful with the Rangers winning decisively with a score of 6-2. Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. Game 2 went into extra innings and the Yankees squeaked out a victory 5-4. The Rangers were leading game 3 until the ninth inning when the Yankees scored two unanswered runs, beating the Rangers 3-2. Game 4 was tied through six innings until the Yankees scored a run in both the 7th and 9th innings. Final score: 6-4. And the Yankees advanced to the next round. And yet games 2-4 could have gone either way, and probably would have had the Rangers lineup produced. Juan Gonzalez sure did his job. He hit .438 (which is exceptional, for those of you not in the know) with 5 home runs and 9 RBI. The rest of the team combined for a .190 batting average (which is pitiful), 1 home run and 7 RBI. Had the rest of the lineup not rolled over and died, the Rangers would have won the series easily. And of course it didn't help that the Yankees proceeded to waltz over the competition on their way to the World Series title.

Two years later we made the playoffs again. And once again we faced the Yankees in the first round. The Yankees won the series 3-0. The scores: 2-0, 3-1, 4-0. That's right, we held one of the most potent lineups in baseball to an average of three runs per game. Unfortunately, once again our just-as-if-not-more potent lineup decided it didn't like the thought of running the bases. In the second round the Cleveland Indians fared worse, giving up an average of 4.5 runs per game, and in the World Series, the San Diego Padres gave up a whopping 6.5 runs per game. The Rangers posed the biggest challenge to the Yankees that year, yet all they get out of it in the history books is "also ran" status.

And it was the same story in 1999. The Yankees won 8-0 (OK, I'll admit that one was decisive), 3-1, and 3-0. The pitching (a notorious weak spot historically for the Rangers) once again did its job in keeping the Yankee bats in check yet the Ranger bats (almost always among the best in the league) stayed home. So for the third time in four years the Rangers were little more than footnotes in postseason history while the Yankees went on to win it all.

The following years saw the Rangers aspiring to mediocrity. Alex Rodriguez, their best player, practically begged to get out of Texas. A few years later their best player did it again in the form of Mark Teixeria. They both ended up in Yankee pinstripes. Talk about adding insult to injury.

And so we find ourselves eleven seasons later, and after far too many false steps on the part of management, the Rangers are once again in the playoffs. I did not want to face the Yankees in the first round and this time it worked out and we faced off against the Tampa Bay Rays. And this time we were the victors. But the Minnesota Twins did not do their job and they let the Yankees advance. I began preparing myself for a disappointing series. I was afraid that my boys would crumble under the mystique that surrounds the Yankees. Yet the Rangers emerged victorious, and resoundingly so. Their smallest margin of victory was 5 runs. They scored twice as many runs as they surrendered. They hit more home runs. They stole more bases. With the exception of one game and one inning, they completely dominated the Yankees who are now heading back to New York with their tails between their legs.

I don't know what the future holds for this team (or even at this point who they will face in the World Series) but I am proud of my team and pleased with their accomplishments, and the way they are playing now, they can lick anyone that comes up against them.

So I think I've earned the right to say:

Rangers rule and Yankees drool!

Not to mention,

The Rangers Are Going To The World Series!

Monday, September 20, 2010

100 Greatest Movie Moments - Part IV

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The bad guy drinks from the wrong grail and ages 100 years in 50 seconds. When his body has faded to dust, the grail guardian comments, “He chose poorly.”

Beauty and the Beast (1991)
“Be Our Guest.”

Dead Alive/Braindead (1992)
The main character uses a lawnmower.

The Player (1992)
The opening tracking shot.

Jurassic Park (1993)
The T-rex attacks the jeeps.

The Sandlot (1993)
Squints puts the moves on the lifeguard.

Schindler’s List (1993)
Oskar Schindler watches a girl in a red coat walk through the ghetto as Nazi soldiers clean it out.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Andy plays a beautiful Mozart aria over the loudspeakers in Shawshank prison.

Apollo 13 (1995)
Ed Harris sits down.

The Usual Suspects (1995)
Verbal Kint leaves the police station.

Mission: Impossible (1996)
Ethan Hunt must steal a file from an ultra-secure CIA computer, all in complete silence.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996)
Mike and the bots riff on their own credits.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The sniper takes out an enemy sniper. Through the sniper’s own scope. While quoting Scripture.

The Matrix (1999)
The camera swoops around Trinity in mid-kick.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Darth Maul pulls out his lightsaber.

Toy Story 2 (1999)
Buzz Lightyear lands on an alien planet and infiltrates Zurg’s lair.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi duke it out in a room full of weapons.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Boromir’s death.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Smeagol has a conversation with Gollum.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
The lighting of the beacons.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Captain Jack Sparrow’s entrance.

The Incredibles (2004)
Dash discovers he can run on water.

The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
The chandelier rises and the opera house is transformed from old and run down to its appearance in its glory days.

Children of Men (2006)
Soldiers and terrorists alike stop fighting at the sound of a baby’s cry, the first time they’ve heard it in almost twenty years.

Enchanted (2007)
Giselle turns Central Park into the setting of a giant musical number.

Friday, September 17, 2010

100 Greatest Movie Moments - Part III

The Graduate (1967)
“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”

In the Heat of the Night (1967)
“They call me MISTER. Tibbs.”

The Producers (1968)
The song “Springtime for Hitler.”

True Grit (1969)
John Wayne rides down a group of bad guys, a gun blazing in each hand and the reins clenched in his teeth.

Patton (1970)
General Patton’s opening monologue in front of a giant American flag in which he expounds on his theories of war, including: no one “ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other [guy] die for his country.”

Dirty Harry (1971)
“I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’... You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?”

The Godfather (1972)
Michael Corleone becomes godfather to his nephew while his minions murder his biggest enemies.

What’s Up, Doc? (1972)
The madcap car/bike/Chinese dragon chase through the streets of San Francisco.

Jaws (1975)
A young woman goes skinny-dipping and learns that there is more in the water than just her.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
King Arthur and his knights are stymied by a group of French soldiers and their silly insults.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Prevented from watching a World Series game on television, Jack Nicholson enacts an imaginary baseball game to the enjoyment of all the patients of the mental hospital.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
The alien mothership shows up and then finishes the song.

Star Wars (1977)
A spaceship flies across the screen, shooting at something behind it. It is immediately followed in close pursuit by a gigantic spaceship that dwarfs it.

Alien (1979)
There is an unexpected guest at dinner.

Apocalypse Now (1979)
“I love the smell of napalm in the morning!”

Breaking Away (1979)
Cyclist Dave Stoller keeps pace with a semi on a rural highway, all for the sheer joy of riding his bicycle.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
“I am your father.”

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Indy gets chased by a large boulder.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
E.T. and Elliot fly across the moon on Elliot’s bike.

Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Khan puts ear bugs in Chekov and the captain’s ears.

The Natural (1984)
Robert Redford knocks out the stadium lights with a home run while Randy Newman’s score soars.

This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
“This one goes up to eleven.”

Aliens (1986)
Ripley puts on a robotic load lifter to do battle with the alien queen.

The Princess Bride (1987)
Inigo Montoya duels with the man in black.

The Abyss (1989)
A tentacle made out of water explores an underwater station.