Friday, July 17, 2009

Keepin’ Cool

Of course, one way of keeping cool this summer is by either sitting in the library reading a good book or in a movie theater watching a great flick. However, if you want to stay home there is nothing cooler than these films and the actors that give them their cool status:

Steve McQueen: Bullitt (VHS): You can absolutely not get any cooler than Steve McQueen. Whether he is escaping from a German prisoner of war camp in The Great Escape or saving a village in the Magnificent Seven, he is an actor that oozes cool and confidence. He is most definitely at his coolest in this film! McQueen plays Frank Bullitt, a San Francisco cop assigned as bodyguard to Peter Ross, a syndicate witness. When the Ross gets shot-gunned (but not killed), Bullitt goes after the hit man. Complicating his efforts is a politician who wants to use Ross to further his career. One of the coolest things about Bullitt is an absolutely brilliant chase scene. McQueen (doing his own driving) is chased by, and chases, a couple of gangsters up and down San Francisco's hills. They slam into intersections, bounce halfway down the next hill, scrape by half a dozen near-misses, sideswipe each other, and give you the ride of your life for about 11 minutes. Cool.

Sean Connery: The Untouchables (DVD): Whereas Sean Connery definitely solidified his “cool” credentials with the James Bond films, he won the Academy Award for his role in The Untouchables. This film is about how Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and his gang of Untouchables, brought down the gangster, Al Capone (Robert DeNiro). Connery plays the Irish cop that teaches Ness how to play the “Chicago way”.

Bill Murray (DVD): Rushmore: Bill Murray has his own brand of cool. Not Steve McQueen, not Sean Connery, but cool none the less. In Rushmore, he plays Herman Blume, an unhappy millionaire. Blume is befriended by Max. Max is a homely 10th-grader at the Rushmore Academy, a private school where he fails classes but constantly organizes clubs and plays. Max discovers that he and Herman love the same woman (a teacher at Rushmore). War ensues. They both strive to win her affections without thinking of the consequences.

Clint Eastwood (DVD) – The Unforgiven: What else needs to be said…it’s CLINT! Make our day! Do we feel lucky? A man's got to know his limitations (well every man but Clint!).
Of course, these are all quotes from his Dirty Harry films but he didn’t become Oscar cool until the Unforgiven. Eastwood plays William Munny, a former gunslinger, now pig farmer. He is a widower, trying to take care of the farm and two children. When "The Schofield Kid" arrives looking for a partner to accompany him to Big Whiskey to earn a reward being offered, William is initially reluctant. Later, however, after taking a hard look at his prospects, he changes his mind. He's not the man he once was, but he needs the money. So he recruits his old partner, Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman), and sets off after the Schofield Kid.

Samuel L Jackson: Pulp Fiction (DVD): So many cool films to choose from when we talk about Samuel L. The totally campy film, Snakes on a Plane would have been nothing without Jackson’s performance. Star Wars part I, II and III were enhanced by his presence. Die Hard With a Vengeance had double the cool factor Bruce Willis and Samuel L. giving the bad guys trouble. But by far his coolest performance has been in Pulp Fiction. Pulp Fiction follows the lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits whose lives intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption. Samuel L. Jackson plays Jules, one of the hit men, and his partner is Vincent (John Travolta). Their conversation about French Big Macs is priceless! The plot and the language aren’t for the weak of heart but if you can take it, Pulp Fiction is worth the ride!

Other actors to check out that definitely have the cool factor: George Clooney, Christopher Walken, Gregory Peck, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Marlon Brando and Paul Newman.
Anyone else that you consider cool?? Let me know!
Keep cool!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

4th, Food, Firecrackers and Freedom

July has arrived and I thought it was about darned time for another blog posting. Since it is only 3 days until our nation’s birthday celebration, the no-brainer post would have been patriotic themed movies. Been there, done that…it’s so last year!! (see my July 01, 2008 posting for patriotic film suggestions). Instead I started thinking about what the 4th of July means to me. Words like food and fireworks came to mind…but mainly I think about freedom. That, after all, is what the 4th of July signing of our Declaration of Independence ultimately gave us. Here are a few films about people (and chickens!) and their quest for freedom:

Defiance (DVD): The tagline for this film is: Freedom begins with an act of defiance! Or maybe they should have said keeping your freedom. This film follows three Polish Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe who escape into the Belarussian forests. Two of the brothers decide to fight for their freedom in different ways. One joins the Russian partisans and the other stays behind to help the growing population of Jews that have joined them in the forest to escape the Germans.

Wind that Shakes the Barley (DVD): Winner of the PALME D'OR at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, this film is also about two brothers who are fighting for their freedom in 1920’s Ireland. Damien is a medical student, while his brother Teddy is fighting for Ireland’s freedom from the British. After witnessing atrocities, Damien decides to join his brother’s resistance group. Although agreements are made to stop the violence, the brothers ultimately have their loyalties put to the test.

Chicken Run (DVD): Chicken Run, from the creator’s of Wallace and Gromit, is a comedy escape drama set on a sinister Yorkshire chicken farm in 1950's England. Ginger is one of the chickens and she desperately wants her freedom. Unfortunately she is constantly being held back by her incompetent fellow chickens. One night, while bemoaning her fate in the barnyard, a rooster flies in over the fence. The rooster, Rocky Rhodes, is a cocky American who enjoys freedom - in fact; he was escaping from a circus when he landed in her barnyard. The film follows Rocky and Ginger, who yearn for freedom and their daring 'prisoner of war' style escape.

Shawshank Redemption (DVD): In 1946, a banker named Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of a double murder, even though he stubbornly proclaims his innocence. He's sentenced to a life term at the Shawshank State Prison in Maine, where he meets another lifer, Ellis "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman). Through all the harsh times at the prison, Andy never loses hope and strives to make his ultimate dream of freedom come true.

Let Freedom Ring!

Have a great Independence Day!