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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Apropos of nothing ...

As I was walking past the Paramount Theatre on Courtenay Place this afternoon I noticed on their chalkboard marquee that "North By Northwest" was playing. And I said to myself, "Self, what a great movie to see on the Big Screen again!"

Which got me to thinking about what other films aside from this great one of Hitchcock's I might enjoy seeing in a proper movie theatre again.

Oh yes, and Happy New Year everybody. May 2009 bring you all that you hope for and more. Look under "Beautiful Photos" to the right or click here to see an album containing 50 pictures from my New Year's camping trip to Hawke's Bay, if you're interested. Had a great time with my friends Sarah, Simon and Monica. They taught me how to say 'water' like a proper Kiwi, and it sounds remarkably similar to how New Yorkers pronounce it!

Back on topic. Here, in no particular order, are the 7* movies I'd like to see re-screened on the, uh, Big Screen. So with that in mind, pop the popcorn, dim the lights way down, kill the mobile phones and cue that cool "The Audience Is Listening" theme from THX!

1. "North By Northwest" (1959) ~ Well, duh, seeing as how I just mentioned this film, let's cover it first. The primary reason for this one being on the list is that epic chase sequence at the end of the film that has the protagonist running across Mount Rushmore. This is a gripping thriller involving a case of mistaken identity and another reason I'd like to see it again is I have forgotten nearly all details of the plot so it'd be like déja vu all over again. And as it first came out on the Big Screen in 1959, it was well before I was born so I've never really had the chance to see it. Until now - thank you, Paramount Theatre!

2. "Conan The Barbarian" (1982) ~ This film is one of my top five favourites of all time, and though you may scoff at that selection allow me to justify it. First and foremost I love how the producer was convinced to drop the crap soundtrack he'd intended to use (apparently he got his wish for the sequel, "Conan The Destroyer", which is not anywhere near my top 100 favourite films list). Instead, the director was able to get Basil Poledouris to compose a score befitting this epic tale. All of the instruments used by his orchestra were of a technology and type found in medieval times so this film to me is a rare marriage of sound and vision. Second, there are some great lines from this film, ranging from the simple yet effective "Crom!" to "Dinner for wolf?" to this classic exchange:

MONGOL GENERAL: "Conan! What is best in life?"

CONAN: "To crush your enemies! See them driven before you! And to hear the lamentations of the women."

MONGOL GENERAL: "That is good."

3. "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" (1981) ~ This is my Number One Favourite Movie Of All Time, and it never fails to cause a stir. I admit with some sheepishness that this film not only inspired me to a future choice of career (which I abandoned, once I grew up and realised that archaeology is not, in fact, the glorified tomb robbing you see in these films), but it also affected my wardrobe at the time. I wasn't the flashest of dressers in high school, but I had very kind parents who indulged me and I did have a kick-ass leather bomber jacket from the original, cool Banana Republic before they turned all vanilla. I also had a hat very much like Indy's, only unlike Harrison Ford I wasn't able to pull this one off with anywhere near the rugged sexiness that he displayed. Shocking, I know. In fact, I looked rather absurd in it, so it spent far more time looking cool on the hat rack in the foyer than it ever did on top of my head.

This is also the kind of movie that's just made for the Big Screen, although admittedly these days with home theatre technology being what it is, justice can be done to it there. Even so, it still only approximates the experience of seeing this film in a proper movie theatre. Also I cannot afford such a magnificent home setup, so for that reason among many others, bring back Indy, Sallah (the Monarch of the Sea), feisty Marion, the idol, the whip and that rolling boulder!

4. "Gladiator" (2000) ~ While not my most favourite film of all time, it ranks right up there on my list and it is perhaps the one I long to see the most on the Big Screen again. I saw it three times when it was first released, and what kept me coming back was that intense opening scene. It gave me goosebumps every time. Such an engrossing battle, what with all the flaming arrows and the camera angles used to show them taking flight. Maximus' pre-battle speech to his troops made me want to man one of the ballistae or, hell, to pick up a sword and charge in there myself and slash at a few Germanics. His rallying cry of "Hold the line!" during the battle was just awesome. This was also one of Oliver Reed's very last films before he died, and while I'd only seen him in one other film, he gave a memorable performance as Proximo in this film.

5. "Blade Runner" (1982) ~ Still my favourite adaptation of one of Philip K. Dick's stories (Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?) and a superb film in every way. Roy Batty is one of the most compelling characters portrayed on screen to date and is my favourite performance of Rutger Hauer's. I fell in love with Sean Young (yes, in spite of that weird hairdo) as probably did every other teenage boy who saw this film. Leon's chilling "Time to die!" scared me witless back then and still gives me a chill today, although it does make for one hell of a good movie quote. I'll never forget that plastic raincoat Zhora was wearing (Rrrrowwwrrr!) and Edward James Olmos' acting was outstanding in the role of Gaff. Another great line, this one his: "It's too bad she won't live! Then again, who does?"

I have also yet to see the Director's Cut of this, which I really must do, so it's another perfect reason for a local theatre to screen that very edition for me. You do read this blog over there at Embassy Theatre, right guys?

I don't know why, but I have a sinking feeling somebody is going to try and remake "Blade Runner" sometime in the next decade. Wait, I do know why: Hollywood can't seem to help itself when it comes to robbing its own graveyard. Some films ought not be touched! This is one of them. I won't even check IMDb.com to see if a remake is in the pipeline. Ignorance is bliss!

6. "Heavy Metal" (1981) ~ All right, so obviously animated films have come a long way from this benchmark film, but you still just can't substitute anything for this movie. It features six stories from the magazine weaved together into one overall cohesive seventh tale, some of which feature sex and all of which have lots of violence. Throw in a killer soundtrack and even more memorable lines (these are big with me), such as, "And if you refuse: you die, she dies, everybody dies." John Candy did a voice or two, along with some of his buddies from SCTV such as Eugene Levy, Harold Ramis and Joe Flaherty. My favourite segment was "B-17" - pure evil!

7. "The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy" (2001-2003) ~ Trilogy Tuesday is something I'll never forget, and I nearly missed out on it. It was in 2003 and was the lead-up to the first official screening of "Return Of The King" in the States. In fact, while other popular films would make their debut at the stroke of midnight the night before the official studio release date, those of us fortunate (and dedicated) (um, and nerdy) enough to be present for Trilogy Tuesday would get to see it at 10:00 PM. Two full hours ahead of the rest of the suckers who'd have to wait to see 'just' "Return" at midnight. Yes, it was fan-boy heaven all right, but it was so much fun to be a part of it all. The first two films in the trilogy were also shown in their full four-hour states as well, with all the bells and whistles Peter Jackson had originally intended to be in there. We were served hot dogs during the first intermission, and pizza during the second. Plus we got to take home a cel from one of the movies, encased in plastic, as well as a few other memorable trinkets.

Nerd Alert!

So why, after spending 14 hours watching these three movies in the theatre once already, would I want to repeat the experience? Well, aside from the explanatory text in red above, the version of "Return Of The King" we saw was not the extended one! So that could be rectified. Plus in a perfect world they would be shown at the Embassy Theatre right here in Middle Earth Wellington, where world premieres for all three films took place.

Honourable Mentions: The original "Star Wars" trilogy (Episodes 4-6) and "Grease". They are merely listed here because I've already seen them in Big Screen re-release, but of course I wouldn't mind seeing them up there again. I'd only want to see "Grease" in the company of a bunch of friends who wouldn't mind making dicks of themselves like I would in singing almost every song (and doing the dance moves to "We Go Together"). And, while we're at it, please put "A New Hope" right by having Han shoot Greedo first, m'kay? Thanks.

So I'm curious! What are some films you'd like to see again on the Big Screen? I know I've left out a few that I'm sure I'd enjoy going to the movies again to experience.

* Why 7? Because it's all I can think of right now!


Blogger EvaKCAidan said...

KC and I have been debating this one all week....which movies would we like to see on tbe big screen again... so far we have -any of the starwars movies, but not on an Imax theater! indy jones, and my vote goes to any movie that has a hansome man in it!!!(just kidding!)

10:34 AM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Ah good choices there, and I notice they all have Harrison Ford in them! Well, most of them do. Would he be the handsome man to whom you are referring? :D And no IMAX, eh? That's always one of my favourite places to see something but I can see how it would not be everybody's cup of tea!

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Klink said...


Totally agree with you on the soundtrack for Conan. Great score and I love listening to it. I can't believe you haven't seen the Director's cut for Blade Runner yet. If you were up here, I'd let you borrow it. :-) And I'm not at all surprised at your choice for Heavy Metal as often as we watched it in college. And two thumbs up for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

As for me, obviously the original Star Wars trilogy would be first and foremost. I would love to see Highlander again. Actually, I'm pretty sure I never saw the original on the big screen. There are a heckuva lot great cinematic scenes in that movie.

In addition, I'd love to see Hoosiers again. Mainly because I can watch that movie at any time and it does have a good score.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Hey thanks, Rob. I am pretty sure you probably endured listening to my theory about the Conan soundtrack back in college. And yeah watching Heavy Metal in the lounge all those times was cool, especially how some of the quotes became part of everyone's daily lingo!

Highlander - great choice. I never saw it on the big screen, either. Somehow missed that one. But, as per your advice, I never bothered with the sequel. Still cracks me up to this day what you said about those lame 'bird dudes' that were some of the villains in that film!

5:58 PM  

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