Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Greetings all. I hope you all have had a nice week analyzing my posts, just kidding. I had a little trouble thinking about a topic for this week, and even more trouble deciding how to make the list once I did finally decide. But after much internal debate, I was eventually able to finalize my top ten list for this week. I decided to go back to movies since that is the topic I find most interesting to talk about with people about whom you know little. I know little about all of you so I guess it is as good a topic as any. So let's get to it.

Top Ten Film Scenes:

10. The Silence of the Lambs. The scene I am referring to is of course the first meeting between Clarice Starling and the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter. I think the scariest part of the movies is the first time you see Dr. Lecter. When she comes around the corner of his cell and he is standing right in the middle of it with a crazed yet satisfied look on his face. It is so creepy. And then the conversation begins and the audience is just so terrified of what sort of mind games Lecter can play because of the warnings Clarice received. And finally, what would any mention of The Silence of the Lambs be without the further mention of "liver with some farvar beans and a nice chianti."

9. Cinderella Man. I think Cinderella Man is one of the most underrated movies ever because it is one of the best I have ever seen. It is filled with unforgettable characters and scenes but the best one is the scene where Jimmy Braddock has to ask the boxing promoters for money. Braddock, the main character, is a very proud man and does things with honor throughout the whole picture, so for him to humble himself to those who previously fired him is an incredible thing to watch. Russell Crowe does not need any more recognition for his incredible acting skills, but in my opinion, this is his best performance. It truly is remarkable.

8. Casablanca. It's a classic. How could you not like Casablanca? This is another movies with an endless list of unforgettable quotes, but more noticeably, unforgettable lines. It seems like more lines come from Casablanca than in any other movie combined. obviously that is an exaggeration buy you get the picture. From "Gin joints" to "As time goes by" the movie is just unforgettable. But the scene that I like most is the scene in Rick's Cafe when the Nazis are singing a song in German amongst themselves. Well Casablanca is occupied with French citizens, so in the same bar the French start singing their national anthem in response. The struggle eventually ends on the side of the French and you can see the sense of unity in the French. It is an epic scene.

7. Jaws. I am a firm believer in Jaws. I think it is one of the best films ever made and Robert Shaw's portrayal of the rough captain of the Orka, Quint, is some of the best acting I have ever seen. The best scene in Jaws is where Shaw is just going to town with his acting skills while the three are talking about different scars they have accumulated over the years (macho talk). Then Quint goes into a monologue about how he survived the largest recorded shark attack ever recorded when a Naval ship went down. It is an actual event, but hearing it from the point of view of someone that was there is a powerful thing. Plus Quint is a badass.

6. Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back. To be completely honest, I'm not sure there is one defining scene in the Star Wars saga for me to talk about. But the fact of the matter is that Star Wars is one of my favorite movies ever, and I am referring to Star Wars as a whole and not as one single movie. But if I had to pick one I would pick the one that is most widely known, which is the battle between Luke and Darth Vador. Apart from being totally awesome, we also get the movie line to end all movie line's, "No, I am your father." The Funny thing is, when anyone quote's that movie, they always say, "Luke I am your father," but he never actually addresses Luke by name. Not many people realize that. Awesome scene though.

5. The Godfather. The Godfather, in my opinion, is the only movie I have ever seen that I wold consider to be flawless. It is just perfect. But the scene that gets me the most is the meeting between all the five families. This is the first time the Don has revealed himself to the other families since his assassination attempt. The part that makes the scene is when he starts talking. He forgoes the vengeance on his son Sonny, but communicates the importance of a safe return home for his son Michael, who had to flea the country. And he says "But I am a supersticious man an if some accident should happen like if he were to be shot by a police man, or if he were to hang himself in his jail cell, or if he is struck by a bolt of lightening, then I am going to blame some of the people in this room. And that I do not forgive." Not sure if that is entirely right, but it is close enough. Epic.

4. Unforgiven. If you haven't seen Unforgiven, and an alarming number of people I talk to haven't, then go rent it. It is one of my favorite movies and the best Western I have ever seen. It isn't like most Westerns though, meaning to say that the whole thing isn't about gun slinging. It has it's fair share of action, but it is all at the end so if you are one who needs their daily dose of action in a movie you will get it, but be patient. If you are one that likes a good drama, this is more of your type of movie. But the scene I am talking about is the climax. It comes at the end of the movie so I don't want to give too much away, but the main character, William Munny played by Clint Eastwood (who also directed it) is a retired outlaw, who tries to convince everyone that he has changed his ways. Then at the end of the movie shit goes down and he jacks some fools up. It is awesome. But I don't want to give away the ending. Go see it. It's great. If you dare to watch it having not scene it or just want to watch it again check it out. Click on the second one. It's edited so it's not the entire scene but you get the idea.

3. Godfather II. I am a fan of the original Godfather more than part II, though I do not fault anyone who differs from that opinion. In the second however, there are two story lines going on, one about the present Michael Corleone and one about Vito's past and it is that story line that I love to watch in part II. It is like watching a moving painting. Anyway, the scene I love in that story line is the one where Vito takes his first step towards becoming the Don by killing a cruel mob boss that controls the his town during the town's parade. It is such an incredible scene that I really can't describe it. He's climbing over rooftops, the music is incredible, just go watch that movie. I want to right now.

2. E. T. My favorite movie from my childhood is also perhaps my favorite movie ever. E. T. should go down as one of the greatest achievements in film history, but many people see it as a children's film and overlook it, especially people my age I have noticed. But they shouldn't because it is GREAT. The final chase scene is possibly my favorite of all time, the only reason I didn't put it at number one is because there really isn't any dialogue. I guess that shouldn't really matter but I've already made this list and I like going with my first instincts. The musical score by John Williams is amazing though. It just elevates that scene so much. I'm talking about the scene where everyone is chasing the kids on their bikes. It's so cool.

1. The Shawshank Redemption. Possibly the most underrated movie when it came out, and I read somewhere that this is considered the best movie never to win an academy award for best picture. I would agree with that, though I doubt that is a general consensus. It is however a great movie and has really picked up popularity since it's release on video and DVD. My favorite scene in the movie however, which also happens to be my favorite scene of all time, is the scene where Andy, Red, and the rest of their inmate group of friends are hanging out on the rooftop they are tarring. They are drinking beers as if they are buddies, beers that Andy was somehow able to haggle for. And Red, played by Morgan Freeman is providing the voice over with some of the best writing you will ever find. "We could have been tarring the roofs of one of our own houses. We were the lords of all creation." 

Just missed it:

To Kill a Mockingbird: the Atticus Monologue.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest: Where they play basketball.

Raiders of the Lost Arc: the opening temple scene.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Greetings all. Last week I discussed movies, and though it is one of my favorite topics to discuss, I am going to try not to repeat the general topics from week to week. So this week I will be discussing sports and since the greatest sport in the history of creation is baseball, that will be the sport from which this week's top ten list is derived. So without further delay:

Top Ten Greatest Baseball Position Players of All Time (Pitchers Not Included):

10. Mickey Mantle. On top of his natural skill, Mickey Mantle was one of the greatest athletes in major league history as well. He was a switch hitter that completely mashed from both sides of the plate and also hit for average. He hit over 500 homers, won three MVPs and holds like a million  world series records. The sucky part about the whole thing, if you are a "glass is half empty type of person," is that he played his entire career on bad knees. He had structural damage in his cartilage or something, but he was always hurt. People often speculate what his career numbers would have looked like if he had been healthy.

9. Alex Rodriguez. When his career is done, we may say he is the greatest. It's pretty rediculous what he has done (and how much he is getting paid to do it for that matter) at such a young age. If you don't know about him then you probably  have not had a tv or something for like the last ten years. But that's cool. No judgement. 

8. Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio was the center fielder for the yankees right before Mantle got there and was a savage on both offense and defense. He also holds one of the most ridiculous records in all of sports. He hit safely in fifty six straight games. Most guys don't even play in fifty six straight games. Plus he married Marilyn Monroe.

7. Ty Cobb. From what I've heard, this guy was kind of an asshole. He was racist and a dirty player. But he could swing the stick with the best of them, and that is what we are talking about on this list. He set about ten million records until the "modern era" of baseball came to be. But he still holds the record for career batting average, .366, and is one of only two players to ever hit four thousand hits.

6. Honus Wagner. He and Cobb are considered the best players to play before the "modern era," and Wagner is widely considered the best shortstop of all time. They called him the Flying Dutchman because he was from Germany and his speed was insane.

5. Barry Bonds. Say what you will but this guy can seriously hit. I'm not even a Giants fan and I still respect his abilities regardless of whatever extra help he allegedly used. I'm not going to take a particular stance on the steroid issue in this post today but I will say that Barry Bonds may have very well been the greatest baseball player any of us will ever see. The man could just flat out hit.

4. Henry Aaron. Hammerin Hank, as they called him, is a model of consistency. He held the home run record for 33 years but did not do so like Barry Bonds by hitting 70 bombs out of nowhere. He consistently hit his forty home runs or so every year his entire career. I was watching a special on him one time and someone said that they never considered him to be a great power hitter, just a great hitter and then all of the sudden he was chasing the record. He was a quiet superstar that came out and did his job. He also still holds the records for most RBIs. And he did all of that over extreme pressure because nobody wanted him to break Ruth's record.

3. Ted Williams. Boston fans will tell you that Ted Williams, also known as the Splendid Splinter, was the greatest hitter that ever lived. And if they are wrong, they are not wrong by much. For starters, Williams was the last person to hit for a .400 average at .406 and that was before they didn't count sacrifice flies. So he really should have had a better average. He is of course a member of the illustrious 500 home run club and he achieved that despite missing two of his prime years for service in WWII. He also hit the triple crown three times. Unbelievable. And he hit a homer in his very last at bat.

2. Willie Mays. The Say Hey Kid was incredible. If there was one player that I wish I could travel back in time to watch him play, it would be Willie Mays. Mays was the essential five tool talent. He could hit, hit for power, defend, run, and had a cannon of an arm. Until Barry Bonds came along, he was one of three people to ever hit 600 home runs with 660. And the thing that I think is probably the most ridiculous of all his achievements is the fact that he appeared in a record 24 all star games. Only one other player did that. Most don't even come close to playing that long. He is amazing.

1. Babe Ruth. Ruth's fame was bigger than his baseball stature and has now become legendary. Ruth started his major league career as a pitcher and was quite successful. Many experts suspect that if he had finished his career as a pitcher he would have made it to the hall of fame from the mound. But he hit so many damn home runs that they had move him to right field so he could hit every day. Before Ruth came about and became the godly baseball player he is, the record for hitting home runs was 138. Ruth hit 714. There are so many stories about him that he has become a baseball legend. Even now his numbers are hard to contemplate. Once in a game, he pointed to the center field wall while he was at the plate indicating where he was going to hit the ball. The next pitch sailed into the stands where he was pointing.

Just Missed the List:

Roberto Clemente. Arguably the best defensive right fielder ever, he had a complete cannon. He was also a pretty good hitter, making it to the elite 3000 hit club with exactly 3000 hits. He was tragically killed shortly after in a plain crash ending his incredible career prematurely. 

Ken Griffey Jr. Oh how it would have been if not for the injuries. He was on pace to break all the records before the injuries plagued the latter days of his career, and still do for that matter. And he won ten gold gloves in center field, so he wasn't just an offensive juggernaut. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Top Ten Movies I Saw This Year

Hi everyone. My name is Josh and I'm starting this blog in order to send out my various opinions to the world without any initial contradiction. Not that I don't love a good argument, because I do, but I tend to think of my opinions as facts. If you disagree with me, that's fine, leave me a post and tell me why and I will probably decide that you are wrong and will continue believing everything that I believe. And what is it that I will be discussing exactly? Pretty simple really. Each post I will decide on a topic and then list my ten favorite items, movies, people, things, etc. that i think qualify for that topic, hence the name Josh's top ten list. Most of the topics will be about movies, music, or sports since those are my three main interests. So without further rambling, I will now commence discussion on the first topic:

Top Ten Movies That I Saw This Year.

I might note that I am not a film critic and have not seen all the movies this year but here it goes anyway.

10. "Charlie Wilson's War." This movie got a lot of hype early in the year because of the likes of Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Phillip Seyemore Hoffman, to name a fiew but dropped off the map when it suffered a few less than impressive reviews. But I liked it. I thought it was a very timely subject matter, dealing with a covert war and government deception, yet dealt with it very well. Plus, I love Tom Hanks. He is a great actor, though sometimes I think his performances are a tad overrated, but he is just awesome in this movie. He and Hoffman have great chemistry and are hilarious together. Julia Roberts was terrible but I always think she is terrible so no surprise there.

9. "Zodiac." If this movie came out later in the year I think it would have received some oscar consideration. It was GOOD but not GREAT. Robert Downey Jr. however, was great as he usually is. When Robert Downey Jr. is on screen, you cannot help but watch his every move, whether 
he is talking or not. He is just so talented and so unpredictable. Too bad he was drugged out for a few years there. Anyway the rest of the movies was just pretty good and they really made eerie accusations that really got me thinking which made it last longer. When in doubt, I say if you are thinking about the movie later on (and not thinking of how much it sucked) then it was probably pretty good. Bit long though. Could have cut some of it down a little.

8. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." I don't care what anybody says, this movies was bad ass. The action was awesome and Ralph Fiennes once again represents evil perfectly in the form of Voldermort (The other of course being his role in Schindler's List). It was awesome. I don't have much more to say about that.

7. "There Will Be Blood." I saw this movie with my brother and when I came out I said "I didn't really like it." But try as I might, I could not get the damn thing out of my head. Whether or not I had
 decided to like it or not yet, there is no denying that the film making, from a technical stand point, is incredible and the performance by Daniel Day Lewis is nothing short of brilliant (fun fact: Lewis has only been in 9 films since 1989 and has four oscar nominations for those films and will probably receive his second oscar this year... and should). But I wasn't sure if I liked the story. Without giving away too much, I think the title should have been different. 
Having said all that, I think everyone should go see this movie. If nothing else, it will get you to think... a lot.
6. "Into the Wild." This movie was inspirational. It made me realize that a lot of the things people covet really don't matter. This was another movie that I had to think a lot about. The film seemed to me to be a little over-directed. It seemed like a lot of directing cliches were use
d. I don't remember any specifics because I saw it like 4 months ago, but I remember thinking it. I also remember the acting being tremendous. Emil Hirsch did a great job if only by keeping my interest while taking up like 90 percent of the screen time. It is tough to watch just one person more or less the entire movie, but I was never bored and the various other characters throughout the film were all very well acted.

5. "Live Free or Die Hard." Very surprised. Justin Long and Bruce Willis worked very well together and were very entertaining. Beyond that, all you need to know is that it was BAD ASS.

4. "Superbad." Oh... my... God... This movie was absolutely hilarious. It is, in my humblest of opinions, an instant classic. It was so raunchy and yet it struck so many chords close to home. The dialogue was fantastic, the situations outlandish yet believable, and the characters relatable. It was so funny and yet at the end of the movie they tie it in with an emotional ending that made it a good MOVIE instead of just a good COMEDY. And it wasn't good, it was great.

3. "Transformers." When I saw the trailer for this film, about a year before it's release, I thought that it would be a joke but that I would go and see it because I loved watching the Transformers cartoon. It was incredible. The reason people started going to movies was to escape from reality, if only for a short while. Now people are to worried about the production v
alue and the acting performances or whether what you see can actually happen. I am also guilty of this. But Transformers wipes that away and if viewed from the right point of view, it is pure entertainment. Plus it kicks serious ass.

2. "Ratatouille." I have never disliked a Pixar movie. In fact I thought Cars was the worst one and I own it. But Ratatouille was excellent. I LOVED it. Everything from the animation to the musical score. It was nearly perfect. If you have not seen this movie, go buy it.

1. "No Country For Old Men." When I walked out of this movie, I immediately wanted to see it again. I have already talked about how other movies made me think a lot, but none compared to this movie. A lot of people I talked to said that they didn't get it, or that they didn't like the ending, or they didn't think anything was resolved. To those people I say, exactly. I know that might not bring you much closure, but go and rent it and watch it again. This time, watch the movie through the perception of Tommy Lee Jones' character. He is the old man and the one that realizes things are changing for the worst and could not be stopped. The acting was superb on all counts and the Cohen Brothers do it again with this movie. some of their movies have missed in my opinion, but I think they nailed it with this one. A perfect commentary of the state of violence of today. It is almost as though this movie is set in the old west. It is so good.

Just missed the cut:"The Bourne Ultimatum:" Very good, but I've seen it twice from the first two Bourne movies. And it wasn't as fun as its action competition.

"Juno:" It was good. Not great. Probably the second most overrated film of the year. I think most people liked it because it has been deemed the "cool movie to like."

Not even close:"Attonement:" THE most overrated film of the year. No actor chemistry, bad direction, bad acting, annoying Keira Knightley. It was just bad.