Saturday, September 27, 2008

R.I.P. ol’ Blue Eyes

To my mother’s generation, ol’ blue eyes was Frank Sinatra, but the blue eyes of my generation was Paul Newman. I say “was” because we lost this cinematic treasure yesterday. Paul Newman died on Friday after a long fight against cancer. Newman’s career actually took off when I was too young to care but his films from the late 60’s on certainly helped shape my enjoyment of cinema. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid alone made him (and Robert Redford) household words and heart throbs for women of many generations. And who could look at hard boiled eggs (or mirrored sunglasses) the same after Cool Hand Luke. He was a film star, a philanthropist (donating all after tax proceeds of Newman’s Own profits to charity), a devoted family man (married to Joanne Woodward for 50 years, father of six) and race car enthusiast (co-owner of the Newman-Haas racing team). There is much that can be said about Paul Newman, but I will let his work speak for him. Fortunately, the HBPL media department has quite a few of Newman’s films for you to relive the talent that has now joined the ages. R.I.P. ol’ Blue Eyes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Life is an adventure

I am back from my vacation and what a vacation it was! I did a seven day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon and it was a trip of a lifetime! Spectacular! Because I am still in the “great outdoors” mode mentally, I asked my fellow rafters to contribute to this blog by listing their favorite adventure/nature/outdoors movies.
Here are the top five:

Touching the Void: I have touted the wonder of this film before in this blog. It is one of the most amazing adventure survival stories ever told. Two climbers, 20,813 foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes, one climber leaves the other believing him dead, but he wasn’t…
This is my favorite adventure film and one that was mentioned several times by my fellow rafters.

March of the Penguins: I am sure many of you have seen this fascinating documentary. It won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Documentary and it was certainly worthy. The film depicts the yearly journeys of the emperor penguins of Antarctica. The beauty of their life and the tragedy as well, it is one of the best nature films ever. It emotionally engages audiences more successfully than most other films of this genre.

Into the Wild: Based on the 1996 non-fiction book by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild is a feature film, based on the adventures of Christopher McCandless. McCandless travelled around the country, ending up in Alaska. He survived for approximately 112 days in the Alaskan wilderness before meeting his demise. Whether you think he was a crazy, irresponsible youth or an adventurer with a poet’s soul, McCandless’ story is certainly compelling.

Blue Planet: This 2001 David Attenborough documentary claims to be the first ever comprehensive series on the natural history of the world's oceans. It has outstanding photography and includes footage of some sea creatures that have never before been captured on film. This film took 5 years to make and they filmed in over 200 locations around the globe. HBPL has the eight episodes available in a 5 DVD set. Each of the eight 50-minute episodes examines a different aspect of marine life.

River Wild: Alas, HBPL does not have this currently on DVD (it is on order), but I still wanted to include it because several of my fellow vacationers gave it as an adventure film to watch. Directed by Curtis Hansen (L.A. Confidential) and starring Meryl Streep. The story involves a family on a whitewater rafting trip who encounter two violent criminals in the wilderness. The supporting cast includes John C Reilly, David Straithairn and Kevin Bacon who puts in the best performance as the charming but sinister bad guy.