16th Annual Ebertfest

8667281310_71bb4cf5cc_h

Here it comes.  Woo Hoo!

The 16th Annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, or more informally known here in town as Ebertfest, starts tomorrow evening.  Technically it starts tonight, but that screening, at the University, is for students.  It’s a good one though, the original The Taking of Pelham, One, Two, Three.  Alas, we won’t be seeing that one.  We will start tomorrow evening, alongside other fest goers, for the viewing of a documentary of Roger Ebert’s life called Life Itself.  I can hardly wait.

I just got done reviewing the line-up.  12 films over five days.  It’s a diverse group, which is lovely and something I look forward to every year.  These are, for the most part, quiet lesser known films.  Sure, this year we’ll be seeing Do The Right Thing and Born on the Fourth of July, but other films, directed by women from Saudi Arabia and China, aren’t known to me at all.  There’s also a 1924 silent, accompanied by a local orchestra, and a documentary about a New Orleans musician.

Film immersion.  For five days, starting with the Wednesday evening screening and ending with the one film at noon on Sunday, we will be in it.  In it with 1600 other film buffs who look forward to and live for this experience every year.  Community, a shared experience, love of film, love of different ideas and ways of looking at the world, love of hearing voices that are not our own and that we may have never heard before.  Stories told with grace, humor, angst, and a passion that becomes contagious.

The festival starts tomorrow… and I can’t wait.

Happy Birthday, Dad

ImageToday would’ve been my dad’s 71st birthday.  71.

I imagine him, smiling, moving quickly from one project to another, eyes sparkling like only his did, laughing that fantastically gregarious laugh.  I imagine him surrounded by his children, their spouses, his grandchildren, his wife.  He is drinking coffee, with cream and loads of sugar, and eating a cheese sandwich.  His hair is gray, it went that way early, which is something he passed to the seven of his children, and his clunky black glasses are perched on his nose.  He’s wearing a pair of polyester pants, some funky loafers, a knit polo shirt, and some off-color windbreaker.  He’s legally blind, but you’d never know it by the way he zips around, managing to never run into anything.  His spirit, which has always been joyful and silly and free, is a big presence in this space.  He fills it.  I imagine him giving me a hug, so tight, full of all the things he could never really say.  Afterward he sits down at his pedal steel guitar and he plays.  Man, does he play.  His skill is unmatched, his notes hitting with perfection, and his smile gets even bigger, if that’s possible.  Then he begins to sing….

Today would’ve been my dad’s 71st birthday.  He’s been gone for nearly 8 years now.  I miss him still….

Happy birthday, Dad.

Sit Back, Relax, or Sit Up and Be Tense

I’ve been on my share of flights with funny flight attendants. I can tell you, there’s nothing like a little humor to relax nervous fliers. Plus, it’s nice that they don’t always take themselves so seriously. If I had to repeat the same spiel multiple times a week, I’d try to mix it up too.

Here’s a great example of what it means to fly the friendly skies.

100+ Favorite Films – In No Particular Order

I was chatting with a friend a couple of months ago about film and giving recommendations about movies I liked and didn’t.  In the course of that conversation my friend looked at me and said I should do a 50 best list on the blog, and then she could just reference it and try to see some of the films.

These things are easier said than done.  It’s strange how during a conversation it’s easy to have something pop into your head and you say, oh, that’s a good one, you should see it.  It’s another to stare at a blank screen and tell yourself to start listing them off.  Oh the pressure of it all.

My approach to this list was pretty simple.  When I thought of a film I’d open up the draft of this post and write it down.  Not rocket science.  Not even close to being a well thought out and considered list.  In the end, however, I decided that was OK.  I decided that an off the top of my head list was kind of fun.  It’s not researched and I certainly didn’t scour best of lists in trying to remember films.  I just took them as they came to me.  Which means, again, this list is definitely not complete, or refined.  I’m sure there are films I left off the list and others I probably shouldn’t have included in a best of list.  But, I have.  One thing is certain, I really love all the films on this list.  They might not all be artistically amazing or worthy of an Oscar, but they are all movies I’d recommend to a friend, which started this whole thing in the first place.

So without further ado…. Here’s the list.  It’s not alphabetized, and if you count, there are actually over 100 films here.  Apparently once I got rolling, stopping was tougher than I thought it would be.
Shawshank Redemption

 

The Princess Bride

 

Philadelphia

 

Cloud Atlas

 

Before Sunrise

 

Death and the Maiden

 

The Long Kiss Goodnight

 

L.A. Confidential

 

The Matrix

 

Rebecca

 

Blade Runner

 

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

 

Schindler’s List

 

Holiday

 

Suddenly, Last Summer

 

The Children’s Hour

 

Rooster Cogburn

 

Beast’s of the Southern Wild

 

Jackie Brown

 

Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi

 

The Fisher King

 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

 

The Impossible

 

Silver Linings Playbook

 

Winter’s Bone

 

V for Vendetta

 

A Beautiful Mind

 

A Separation

 

Inception

 

The Usual Suspects

 

The Silence of the Lambs

 

Enemy Mine

 

Das Boot

 

12 Angry Men (1957)

 

Saving Private Ryan

 

The Aviator

 

Big

 

The Abyss

 

Dead Again

 

Sneakers

 

A River Runs Through It

 

The Artist

 

The Planet of the Apes (1968)

 

Blade Runner

 

Brokeback Mountain

 

Peter’s Friends

 

For Love of the Game

 

Traffic

 

High Fidelity

 

Suspicion

 

The Trouble With Harry

 

I Confess

 

Rebel Without a Cause

 

Chariots of Fire

 

On Golden Pond

 

Amadeus

 

Crash

 

Gravity

 

Mud

 

The Way

 

Pan’s Labyrinth

 

The Departed

 

Little Miss Sunshine

 

Safety Not Guaranteed

 

Lost in Translation

 

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

 

The Bridge on the River Kwai

 

Lawrence of Arabia

 

2001: A Space Odyssey

 

The Godfather

 

To Kill a Mockingbird

 

Sideways

 

Roman Holiday

 

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

 

Kill Bill Vol. 1

 

Kill Bill Vol. 2

 

Dark City

 

The Station Agent

 

High Art

 

The Way Way Back

 

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

 

Minority Report

 

Days of Heaven

 

Immortal Beloved

 

The Hours

 

Playing By Heart

 

Mystic River 

 

Willow

 

Apollo 13

 

Jacob’s Ladder

 

High Noon

 

The Fugitive

 

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

 

Looper

 

The Dark Knight

 

But I’m a Cheerleader

 

Julia

 

Gattaca

 

Some Kind of Wonderful

 

The Fall

 

12 Years a Slave

 

Now And Then

 

Darkman

 

A Scanner Darkly

 

Meet Joe Black

 

Silverado

 

The Breakfast Club

 

Steel Magnolias

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

snowI want it to be sunny AND warm.  Is that too much to ask?  It looks gorgeous outside today.  Blue sky, slightly breezy, crisp.  Looking out there, it seems as though I could grab my cup of coffee, the book I’m reading, and head out to the chairs we have on our back deck.  The chairs that just yesterday were covered in snow.  But, no.  Uh uh.  Ain’t going to happen.  Why?  It’s damn cold.

It’s not really that bad, being 37 out there right now that is.  Not bad considering the winter we’ve had.  Not bad considering how much snow and cold and wind we’ve had this year.  But, c’mon.  37.  It’s spring.  I’m ready for spring weather.

Not long ago, November of last year, we had our first snow of the season.  We were so excited.  Yay, we said.  It’s going to snow we exclaimed excitedly.  Yay.  When we only got a dusting we were upset.  We felt robbed.  We wanted more.  We should’ve kept our gosh darn mouths shut.  Be careful what you ask for is right.

Those months ago, when we were entering the cold season and we wanted to experience a real Illinois winter, we didn’t know what we were asking for.  The previous two winters we’d lived here were mild, mellow in fact.  We were told repeatedly that the warmer weather we were experiencing then wasn’t normal at all.  We had no idea.

Now, after a frigid winter and loads of laundry from all the layers we have to constantly wear, we’re ready to pare down.  We’re ready to break out only t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops and not have to spend 10 minutes just getting ready, layer by layer, to go out.  We’re ready to actually look forward to walking the dogs.  We’re ready to be able to sit outside on our deck and watch the birds in the feeders and talk to our neighbors over the fence and grill with ease.  We’re more than ready.

Of course, in three months I’ll be complaining about how hot it is, how humid it is, and I will long for the cool breezes of early spring.

10 Word Review

10 Word ReviewAn update about 10 Word Review.  I have organized and catalogued and alphabetized the list of movies, books, television shows, food, and miscellaneous stuff I’ve reviewed and put up lists, each group with its own page, under the 10 Word Review heading.  So if you ever want to look at the complete and ever-changing list of films, books, tv shows, food, or miscellaneous stuff I’ve reviewed just hover over the 10 word review tab and then click on whatever page you’re interested in.  Click on a film, say, and you will be instantly whisked to my review of same.

10 Word Review – Civil Wars Self-Titled Album

I’ve been working on the blog, more info to follow, and while I’ve been at it I’ve been listening to the Civil Wars self-titled album from 2013. I’d previously posted a 10 Word Review for the song Dust to Dust from the album and at that point I hadn’t really listened to the album in its entirety. Wow. In my opinion this album is nearly perfect. My 10 Word Review: Beautiful, haunting, harmony, lyrical, writing, heartfelt, story, graceful, amazed… YES.