Welcome to my screening room. Here I present for your viewing enjoyment a selection of both my favorite and antifavorite movies. This area will always be under perpetual construction. Look for lots of expansion and improvement as time goes by.
***** A one-in-a-million flick; a movie of
the very highest caliber!
**** A very good movie
*** A good flick, though not great
** A so-so flick
* Save this for when you're bored
 A poorly-made flick
[x] A bad movie
[xx] A very bad movie
[xxx] An EXTREMELY bad movie
[xxxx] A GUT-WRENCHINGLY HORRIBLE movie!
[xxxxx] Assassinate the director!
My Top Ten Most Favorite Movies
- The Neverending Story ***** This is my all-time favorite movie. It not only lays forth directly, succinctly, accessibly, the cancers and evils which are eating away at the souls of all of us who have the fortune/misfortune to be part of "modern civilization", but it even prescribes remedial action, something no other movie I've ever seen does. This movie bids you set aside your fears and doubts, and dare to do what you dream.
- Gandhi ***** A beautiful telling of the life of visionary Mohandus K. "Mahatma" Gandhi. It was filmed on a "shoestring" budget of a few hundred thousand dollars, and yet it has an epic grandeur greater than many movies costing 100 or even 1000 times as much money! (It costs a cool half-billion bucks to film a typical "blockbuster" these days. Richard Attenbourough made this flick on a thousandth of that!) This movie is a historical epic. It is very long, and it is full of uncomfortable ideas that actually make you think. Those expecting fast-paced, non-stop, slam-bang action will be sorely disappointed. But it is my all-time number-two favorite movie, because of the important and compelling ideas in it: that we human beings can learn to tolerate each others' differences, that we can live together in peace, that war is ultimately unnecessary, that we can solve our conflicts by negociation rather than aggression, that we can be assertive without being hurtful. This movie compellingly illustrates these powerful ideas in a non-preachy way, making it (in my opinion) one of the greatest movies of all time.
- Koyaanisqatsi ***** Koyaanisqatsi is one of the most bizarre movies ever filmed. It is also, in my opinion, one of the best. It is a feature length motion picture, yet it has no dialog and no plot. Koyaanisqatsi is about nature versus modern civilization, balance versus imbalance. The title, koyaanisqatsi, is a word in the Hopi language meaning "life out of balance". This film shows that imbalance very poignantly, even without dialogue or plot, at about 5 times normal speed. Beyond that, it's indescribable. You'll just have to see it.
- Star Wars ***** One of the best-ever tellings of the ancient story of the on-going battle between the forces of good and evil in the universe. This movie is about courage, honor, loyalty, betrayal, and faith in a higher power. Certainly one of the greatest movies of all times. I saw it the day it first came out back in 1977 and it changed my life forever.
- Star Trek: First Contact ***** Since the days of Copernicus and Galileo, when humankind first learned that we are living on a small, insignificant planet, orbiting a very ordinary star, far out on the edge of a very ordinary galaxy among millions of other galaxies, as far from the "center" of things as imaginable, one overwhelming question has seared the mind of anyone who looks up at the night sky contemplatively: "Are we alone? Have we no friends out there?" The answer comes to those of us who are honest with ourselves: "We are probably not alone. There are almost certainly others out there, friends or enemies. But where are they? Why have they not come? And what would I do, one lonely human, if they did come, and they landed in my backyard, and one of them stepped out of his spacecraft and said 'hello', and raised a hand in a gesture of peace, or a weapon in a gesture of hate?" That is the main point in First Contact. The whole movie leads up to that moment when the young space traveler from a distant star -- the first-ever visitor to Earth from another planet -- raises his hand in greeting to Zephrim Chochran and says... well, I won't tell you what he says! See it yourself!
- Titanic ***** This movie is the best of all the movies about the Titanic. Titanic works very well on many different levels, including scenic grandeur, maritime action-adventure, historical epic, love story, disaster story. Titanic features incredible, breathtaking cinematography, especially in the external shots of the ship. These scenes were filmed using a combination of live-action, scale models, and computer animation, but you can't tell! You'll swear you're really there. While Titanic does include some fictional story details, all of the main events of the real-life Titanic disaster are accurately portrayed. This movie presents the tale of the life and death of the greatest ocean-going ship ever built in a way that is more real, more compelling than any other Titanic movie I've ever seen. I was also greatly moved by the fictional but deeply-moving love story between Jack and Rose, a tale of a love which transcended even death itself. The very last scene of the movie is especially poignant. But more than anything, this movie is a historically-accurate tale of how people reacted to one of the most horrifying maritime disasters of all time. Courage and cowardice, poise and panic, murderous greed and selfless sacrifice -- all are portrayed in this movie as they actually happened on that tragic night. Come take the boat ride of your life; but be sure to reserve a seat in the lifeboat!
- The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King ***** Director Peter Jackson's first two episodes of JRR Tolkien's classic tale The Lord Of The Rings were good, but not great. This episode, however, is truly one of the greatest movies ever filmed. (It is also the fifth-longest movie ever filmed in all of human history.) This third episode adheres to both the details and the spirit of Tolkien's original tale much more closely than Peter Jackson's first two episodes. It also has much more coherence, better acting, better directing, better continuity, better emotional "rightness", better pacing... hell, better everthing. It is simply the best Tolkien movie ever made, bar none. It blows anything else ever filmed out of the water. Intensely exciting, ravishingly beautiful, deeply moving. Two thumbs up! Way to go, Peter Jackson and crew!
- The Untouchables ***** A badly titled movie, in my opinion. But a very good movie, none-the-less. This is all about the battle between a small band of men ("The Untouchables"), who include US Treasury agent Eliot Ness (well acted by Kevin Costner) and a street-smart Irish cop (one of Sean Connery's greatest performances), against gangster Al Capone (Robert DeNiro). This movie is about courage, and the will to fight evil at all costs, and the tenacity to keep on fighting until the battle is won. As Eliot Ness says near the end of the movie, "Never give up! Never give in! Never stop fighting until the fighting's done!"
- Casablanca ***** A lovely b&w flick about love, loss, jealousy, bitterness, and redemption, among other themes. Well-made, and well-acted by Humphrey Bogart. The song "As Time Goes By" is one of my all-time favorite movie songs.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day **** This movie is a warning of the dangers of letting technology, power, and money get in the way of more important human values on a national/global level. The first scene shows the Third World War in progress, children bursting into flames in a schoolyard as a million watts of gamma rays (from a thermonuclear weapon which just detonated a mile away) suddenly sear their flesh from their bones. The next scenes show a nightmare of post-holocaust war. Then the rest of the movie goes back to the present day, and shows hints of what lead us to the war in the first place. The protagonists then have the task of preventing that war. A sometimes-gruesome, but eminently watchable flick. The "father-son" relationship between Arnold Schartzenegger's "Terminator" character and the little boy is especially touching.
- Schindler's List **** This movie earned Director Steven Spielberg his first OSCAR for Best Director, an honor the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had wrongfully withheld from him on several different occasions because of the Academy's bias against Science Fiction and Fantasy, Spielberg's usual genres. But in Schindler's List, Spielberg tells the story of World War Two villain/hero Herr Schindler, the wealthy Nazi businessman who specializes in profiting from the war by selling munitions and other supplies to Hitler's Nazi armies, but finds to his dismay that the Jewish slaves working in his plants are just as human -- sometimes more so -- as the Germans. He finds himself increasing appalled at the cruelty of the Nazis and other Germans towards the Jews, and finds himself, little by little, doing what he can to thwart the Nazis' campaign of torturing and murdering Jews. He manages to save several hundred lives, at least. And yet, at the end of the movie, he remains a loyal Nazi, believing in the basic principles of the Nazi philosophy, if abhorring the brutal excesses. I admire the makers of this movie -- director, producers, writers -- for not over-simplifying Herr Schindler and trying to make him out to be either a simple hero or a simple villain. He was neither, as the movie so beautifully points out. This movie is highly emotional due to its unemotionalism. That is, it is very moving precisely because it sticks to accurately portraying the historical facts without sentimentalizing them. A "must-see" movie for mature adults! However, BE WARNED: This movie contains extremely-graphic scenes of extreme violence. In one scene, for example, a Nazi officer is standing in an open square, in broad daylight, with a young Jewish woman, about 20 years old, his prisoner. The young woman says something the Nazi officer doesn't like, so he pulls his pistol out of his holster and blows her brains out. I still don't know how they did that flying-brains effect. The scene has no music or sound effects (other than the sound of the gun going off), and the camera does not zoom in or out, or cut away. The camera holds study on the whole scene, from before the officer shoots the young woman, to afterwards, as he walks away, ordering someone to "remove this garbage". That scene gave me nightmares for weeks. This movie is not for young children, or those with weak stomachs.
- Aliens **** A wonderfully frightening science-fiction/horror story. I especially love the scene where Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) is in the elevator, going down to the basement to rescue her little girl from the evil clutches of the alien monsters. All the way down, she's assembling, loading, and readying her weaponry. When the elevator door finally opens on the bottom level, there she stands with loaded-and-cocked armor-piercing machine gun, grenade launcher, idling flame thrower, and other goodies; one look at her face, and you can see she's a woman who's out to kill whoever dared to abduct her little girl, and death to anyone or anything that gets in her way! A great scene.
- Twister [****] A one-of-a-kind movie. There are other movies about tornadoes, but no other movie comes this close to reality. This movie is terrifying because of its sheer realism. The viewer is taken on a tour of tornado country, during the heart of tornado season, and gets to ride with the tornado chasers in their cars and vans as they put themselves in harm's way. In the movie, the tornado chasers get very close to the tornadoes indeed, far closer than they intended to on a couple of occasions. The tornadoes in the film were mostly computer-generated, but much of the winds, rains, and thunderstorms were real. The movie was shot almost entirely on-location in the Oklahoma/Kansas area, and contains hours of footage of this beautiful countryside, all shot in sharp, realistic color in broad daylight. You'll feel like you're really there. This movie is a partially-fictionalized version of the true story of the VORTEX team's tornado research in the early 1990s. A very frightening movie.
- Fatal Impact [xx] I don't know what this movie was about because it was so boring that I slept through most of it. An extremely inept attempt at "spoofing" various other movies. Its allusions were difficult for me to figure out, and most of its jokes left me wondering where the punch-line went to. Play this flick on your VCR if you want to fall asleep! As good as Sominex.
- Clueless [xxxx] This movie was so just-plain-stupid that it made me sick to my stomach! It is an insult to the intelligence of the movie-going public. Did the people who made this think we don't have brains in our heads?
- Monty Python's The Life of Brian [xxxxx] This movie makes-fun-of and trivializes everything I believe in and hold sacred: Love, truth, logic, goodness, honor, ethics, courage, compassion -- it makes a mockery of all these things, and hence I despise this film as I despise no other movie. Here this foul and hideous movie sits, at the very BOTTOM of my list of movies, and here this revolting gob of garbage will sit till hell freezes over. I think all of the negatives, prints, and videos of this filthy, disgusting misuse of celluloid should be rounded up and burned, and the persons who made it should be assassinated! That's how much I hate this vile and contemptible flick! (Oh, and whoever wrote that nauseating song "Look on the Bright Side of Life" should be crucified, slowly and painfully.)
84 years later, a 100 year-old woman named Rose DeWitt Bukater tells the story to her granddaughter Lizzy Calvert, Brock Lovett, Lewis Bodine, Bobby Buell and Anatoly Mikailavich on the Keldysh about her life set in April 10th 1912, on a ship called Titanic when young Rose boards the departing ship with the upper-class passengers and her mother, Ruth DeWitt Bukater, and her fiancé, Caledon Hockley. Meanwhile, a drifter and artist named Jack Dawson and his best friend Fabrizio De Rossi win third-class tickets to the ship in a game. And she explains the whole story from departure until the death of Titanic on its first and last voyage April 15th, 1912 at 2:20 in the morning.
After winning a trip on the RMS Titanic during a dockside card game, American Jack Dawson spots the society girl Rose DeWitt Bukater who is on her way to Philadelphia to marry her rich snob fiancé Caledon Hockley. Rose feels helplessly trapped by her situation and makes her way to the aft deck and thinks of suicide until she is rescued by Jack. Cal is therefore obliged to invite Jack to dine at their first-class table where he suffers through the slights of his snobbish hosts. In return, he spirits Rose off to third-class for an evening of dancing, giving her the time of her life. Deciding to forsake her intended future all together, Rose asks Jack, who has made his living making sketches on the streets of Paris, to draw her in the nude wearing the invaluable blue diamond Cal has given her. Cal finds out and has Jack locked away. Soon afterwards, the ship hits an iceberg and Rose must find Jack while both must run from Cal even as the ship sinks deeper into the freezing water.
A love story doomed by the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Rose Calvert, now 101 reminiscences her experience of the Titanic, to American oceanic explorers, and her emotional connection with another passenger, Jack. Jack was an American starving artist who won a trip home on the Ship of Dreams to a lucky hand in poker. His luck unfortunately ran out on April 15, 1912 after colliding with an iceberg in the northern Mid-Atlantic. Four days before the unsinkable ship began to fill with ice cold sea water, Rose and Jack's love story began. Rose was suppose to marry her mother's pick of a fine gentlemen Cal Hockley, who was only attracted to Rose by her beauty and family fortune. Rose however felt she was in a crowded room screaming for help with no one to hear. Jack did hear her, with someone to finally listen, Rose couldn't deny her feelings for Jack anymore. Their love came to a new level, when Rose asked Jack to draw her like one of his "french girls" wearing only the rarest diamond, the Heart of the Ocean. A fun filled, romantic love affair between Jack and Rose couldn't be denied and Cal's pockets began to feel empty and he became jealous of Jack searching for a way to compromise Rose's love for Jack. The Titanic then collides with a large iceberg and begins to sink. As the ship lowers itself into the depths of the ocean, Jack and Rose must fight death of the freezing water and await a rescue ship. 84 years later Rose hears of the Titanic and the discovery of her drawing and meets with the explorers, her memories are where our story begins. The Titanic is a powerful story of survival, love and heroism. A love story that will never let go of the hearts of the people around the world.
Deep on the bottom of the sea, some 3800 meters below the surface of the freezing Atlantic Ocean, lies the wreckage of a ship. It is the unmistakable figure of the Titanic, once man's greatest mechanical achievement, now stripped of its former glory. Almost a century later, Brock Lovett, a modern treasure hunter intrigued by Titanic's hidden riches, and his well-equipped technical crew are digging for answers for the past three years; nevertheless, without any success. But, when Rose Calvert, one of Titanic's few survivors, learns about Lovett's crusade, she will begin to unfold her incredible, heartfelt and utterly tragic story that intertwines King Louis XVI's deep-blue "Heart of the Ocean" diamond, with her unlikely romance with the young bohemian vagabond, Jack Dawson. Can the past's mistakes teach a lesson in humility to both paupers and royalty?
Deep-sea explorer Brock Lovett has reached the most famous shipwreck of all - the Titanic. Emerging with a safe believed to contain a diamond called 'The Heart of the Ocean', he discovers the safe does not hold the diamond but a drawing of a beautiful woman wearing it. When Brock is later interviewed on TV, he shows the drawing to the cameras, and a 100-year-old woman named Rose Calvert living in Michigan recognizes the woman in the drawing - herself! On a visit to Brock's explorer ship over the wreck, Rose tells her story of the Titanic and its ill-fated voyage. Engaged to a would-be steel magnate, Caledon Hockley, she boards the Titanic's first-class suites with him and her mother in Southampton. Also boarding are Jack Dawson and his best friend Fabrizio De Rossi, after a lucky poker game wins them tickets in steerage. When Rose attempts suicide by jumping off the stern in third-class, Jack pulls her back onto the ship... and a bond is forged between them as Jack is invited by her into first-class the following day. Rose's mother and Caledon Hockley try desperate measures to keep them apart. But that strategy goes out the window when the Titanic collides with an iceberg, and due to a design flaw begins to sink - despite being proclaimed 'unsinkable'. Now Rose and Jack must fight to stay alive, but is young Jack already doomed because of his lower status as a steerage passenger?
A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.
The synopsis below may give away important plot points.
- In 1996, treasure hunter Brock Lovett and his team aboard the research vessel Keldysh search the wreck of RMS Titanic for a necklace with a rare diamond, the Heart of the Ocean. They recover a safe containing a drawing of a young woman wearing only the necklace. It is dated April 14, 1912, the day the ship struck the iceberg. Rose Dawson Calvert, claiming to be the person in the drawing, visits Lovett and tells of her experiences aboard the ship. In 1912 Southampton, 17-year-old first-class passenger Rose DeWitt Bukater, her fiancé Cal Hockley, and her mother Ruth board the Titanic. Ruth emphasizes that Rose's marriage will resolve the DeWitt Bukaters' financial problems. Distraught over the engagement, Rose considers committing suicide by jumping from the stern; Jack Dawson, a penniless artist, convinces her not to. Discovered with Jack, Rose tells Cal that she was peering over the edge and Jack saved her from falling. Cal is indifferent, but when Rose indicates some recognition is due, he offers Jack a small amount of money. After Rose asks whether saving her life meant so little, he invites Jack to dine with them in first class the following night. Jack and Rose develop a tentative friendship, though Cal and Ruth are wary of him. Following dinner, Rose secretly joins Jack at a party in third class. Aware of Cal and Ruth's disapproval, Rose rebuffs Jack's advances, but later realizes that she prefers him over Cal. After rendezvousing on the bow at sunset, Rose takes Jack to her state room and displays Cal's engagement present: the Heart of the Ocean. At her request, Jack sketches Rose posing nude wearing it. They evade Cal's bodyguard and have sex in an automobile inside the cargo hold. They later visit the forward deck, witnessing a collision with an iceberg and overhearing the officers and designer discussing its seriousness. Cal discovers Jack's sketch of Rose and a mocking note from her in his safe along with the necklace. When Jack and Rose attempt to tell Cal of the collision, he has his butler slip the necklace into Jack's pocket and accuses him of theft. He is arrested, taken to the Master-at-arms' office, and handcuffed to a pipe. Cal puts the necklace in his own coat pocket. With the ship sinking, Rose is desperate to free Jack. She flees Cal and her mother, who has boarded a lifeboat, and rescues him. They return to the boat deck, where Cal and Jack encourage her to board a lifeboat; Cal claims he can get himself and Jack off safely. After Rose boards one, Cal tells Jack the arrangement is only for himself. As her boat lowers, Rose decides that she cannot leave Jack and jumps back on board. Cal takes his butler's pistol and chases Rose and Jack into the flooding first class dining saloon. After using up his ammunition, Cal realizes he gave his coat and consequently the necklace to Rose. He later boards a collapsible lifeboat by carrying a lost child. After braving several obstacles, Jack and Rose return to the boat deck. All the lifeboats have departed and passengers are falling to their deaths as the stern rises out of the water. The ship breaks in half, lifting the stern into the air. Jack and Rose ride it into the ocean and he helps her onto a wooden panel only buoyant enough for one person. Holding the edge, he assures her that she will die an old woman, warm in her bed. He dies of hypothermia but she is saved. With Rose hiding from Cal en route, the RMS Carpathia takes the survivors to New York. There she gives her name as Rose Dawson. She later learns that Cal committed suicide after losing everything in the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Lovett abandons his search after hearing Rose's story. Alone on the stern of the Keldysh, Rose takes out the Heart of the Oceanin her possession all alongand drops it into the sea over the wreck site. While she is seemingly asleep in her bed, photos on her dresser depict a life of freedom and adventure, partly inspired by Jack. A young Rose reunites with him at the ship's Grand Staircase, applauded by those who perished.