Y’know, it’s Saturday night, as I write this, ready for it to post on Sunday morning, East Coast time. We watched basketball tonight – whoa, some serious March Madness, college Basketball upsets! – but usually, on Saturday nights we try to do family movie night.
Since I live with a bunch of totally GUY-guys, you can imagine the usual fare: MoneyBall, The Avengers, Iron Man 1 & 2, Captain America, The Rookie….You get the drift. It’s a lot of action, weighted heavily toward Super Heroes, and Baseball movies since two of the four of us are totally mad for baseball. (I’m leaning toward super-fan, and our youngest could give a rip!)
Thing is, sometimes I like something different. Sometimes, I like a comedy. Maybe slapstick, maybe Romantic Comedy, and sometimes, I really like those Teen-Who-Makes-Good movies, like High School Musical or Stomp the Yard or Drumline.
As you all know, being avid readers, there are only so many story lines. It’s the personality of the characters an author attaches to those “standard story lines” which make or break a movie or a book. Take the movie Drumline. It’s the street-kid-gets-a-chance-at-college story, and the odds he faces and the nemesis he encounters in the head of the college music department, who controls the boy’s fate. The very fine actor, Orlando Jones (pictured on the right, from the Wikimedia Commons picture file) is the Music Director with serious capital letters. He’s highly educated, highly sophisticated and somewhat uptight chair of the music department. He’s truly marvelous as the straight-laced prig Dr. Lee, played against Nick Cannon’s irresponsible rebel of a drummer. Really brilliantly done.
Funny thing is, he also plays – again, brilliantly! – Clifford Franklin, a washed up football running back with butter fingers in the delightful football movie, The Replacements. Clifford refers to himself in the third person, thinks he’s faaaaaar sexier than he is, and is just generally an insecure goofball. “Clifford Franklin says that this game is going to be HOT!” “C’mon baby, let me show you what Clifford Franklin can do…”
Same actor. TOTALLY different roles. I have a lot of admiration for actors who can pull this off. I had a very strange moment of deja vu when, one night, I was channel surfing and both Drumline and The Replacements were on. Different channels, of course, so as I scanned through the selections, I had to do a double-take to realize that the sober Dr. Lee, from Drumline, was also the imminently laughable Clifford Franklin.
This has happened a couple of times with actors I admire. I’ll be channel surfing and there they will be on multiple channels in multiple roles. Very schizophrenic, but VERY interesting, from a writer’s point of view, to see how one actor can play so many different “people” and still be convincing.
Take Hugh Laurie, for instance. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons) Brilliant actor. Simply brilliant. He does House, MD on American TV, plays comedy clubs and has been in tons of sitcoms in the UK (Black Adder, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster), and then in kids movies like Stuart Little and 101 Dalmatians. I happened upon him in three incarnations one night – House, Stuart Little, and on Bravo’s Inside the Actor’s Studio. And yes, ladies and gents, he is ENGLISH, not American. The accent is REAL, and yet he manages to sound like Dr. Gregory House, grumpy American jerk of the year. Ha!
Fascinating, as Spock would say. I often like to watch a row of movies with a single actor – go through all Kevin Bacon’s movies (shudder!), or see Kevin Spacey in K-Pax, LA Confidential, and American Beauty. As a writer, it helps me understand the way to turn a story line, or twist a characters mood or motivation in whatever I’m working on.
Weird, I know.
I’ve been watching Robert Downey, Jr. lately to get that complex, dark-edged, reluctantly helpful/heroic thing going. He plays that type of character well, from Sherlock Holmes to Iron Man, from Charlie Chaplin to SoapDish.
Now, all that said, sometimes, I just like to watch the movies for the entertainment. It’s hard not to analyse them, or see the story twists and turns as turning points and so on, but if it’s a good enough story, I forget all that analysis and just enjoy. IT’s got to be a really GOOD movie for me to turn off the internal writer/analysis maven/storyteller however.
So, let’s have some fun. Here are some of my top Favorites in several categories, where I’ve been able to turn that off and just eat the popcorn and be glued to the screen, immersed in the story. You tell me yours!
1. Action Adventure – The Avengers. Hands down one of the most fun, quotable movies in recent memory. I never ONCE stopped to analyse.
2. Blow it Up movie – Skyfall. LOTS of stuff blew up. It was great. Total popcorn and drool movie. (Hey, Daniel Craig. Just sayin’!)
3. Comedy – TIE – Fish Called Wanda and Young Frankenstein. I”m going for the oldies here because most of the newer ones which have made me ROFLMAO are Romantic Comedies, another category altogether!
4. Drama – The Blind Side. I so didn’t see this coming as a “keeper,” not at all. I figured “Football movie…yeah…” Oh, it was SO much more. Pass the Kleenex, let’s watch it again.
5. Sci-Fi – The Lord of the Rings series followed hard on by Star Trek – the new one. Fab-U-Lous. Hands down, one of the best sci-fi movies in years.
6. Disaster Movie – Twister. All that, and flying cows too.
7. Romantic Comedy – While You Were Sleeping and 27 Dresses. I know they’re a few years old, but they are still among my all-time-favorites.
8. Historical – The King’s Speech. If you’ve not seen this, run, don’t walk, to your Netflix and get it in your queue. Brillllllliant film. I resisted seeing it, thinking it would be either maudlin or sad or just stupid. It was none of that. And it’s absolutely the best thing I’ve ever seen Helena Bonham Carter in. She CAN act, imagine that! :> She was outstanding.
9. Old Movies I’ll Watch Again and Again – Its a Wonderful Life; Operation Petticoat; Bringing Up Baby; White Christmas
10. Guilty Pleasure – The Wedding Planner. This movie is SO B-Movie. Really. Not very well acted, not a hugely surprising plot. And yet….I’ll watch it every time, and enjoy the heck out of it, no matter what.
So what are yours? Tell, tell! Help me fill up MY Netflix queue!
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