So, we’re all stuck at home without anywhere to go — although cars continue to zip past my house, which has a blind driveway, at twice the posted speed limit like they’re actually late for something important. But I digress… What to do when we’re all stuck at home and we’re trying to do the family bonding time? I know… let’s binge-watch films and television shows. What could possibly go wrong with this idea?
So, even though we have enough television sets for all of us to watch what want, and frequently do, we decided to do some great family bonding: we’d each get to pick a film or show that each of us wanted to see and we’d go from there. Great idea, right?
So we figured we’d set aside time every night and watch something together. The bulldog, which usually snores in the office with me, was quite put out that there was no room for her on the couch. But other than that, we were doing good.
So, we put together a very unscientific poll, WAIT?!?! WHAT?!?!?! Everyone on Facebook or Twitter is an expert on contagious diseases, foreign policy, etc. or so I thought, but I digress again. Yes, we made a poll in the house for listing the films and shows that we each wanted to watch. It won’t be hard to figure out who picked what, but that is what the purpose of this activity was: to watch together what we each like.
This is democracy in action folks, you just gotta love it.
Hopefully, our nation and the world will be once again bustling about and this stuff will be a thing of the past. However, here is our quarantine list of films and shows that we have watched together so far in no particular order.
“Young Frankenstein” – An absolute classic by Mel Brooks, starring Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Madeleine Kahn, Terry Garr, and Marty Feldman who steals nearly every scene he’s in. In a spoof of old horror films, Brooks used many of the sets of the original 1931 Frankenstein version and had Wilder play Victor Frankenstein, who goes by “Fronk-en-steen” to escape the legacy of his grandfather. Well, we all know how that turns out… Kenneth Mars is hilarious as Inspector Kemp. a one-eyed police official with a prosthetic arm, whose German accent is so thick that even his own countrymen cannot understand him. Timeless…
“Blazing Saddles” – Another hilarious comedy-western film directed by Mel Brooks and starring Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, with hilarious bits by Slim Pickens, Madeline Kahn, and Alex Karras. The film could never, ever be remade in today’s politically correct world.
The film is a scathing satire on the rampant racism in Hollywood Western films, with Little, the protagonist, portraying a black sheriff in an all-white town. The film is full of outstanding anachronisms. from the Count Basie Orchestra playing “April in Paris” in the middle of a western desert setting to Little having Gucci saddlebags for his horse to Slim Pickens referring to the Wide World of Sports, or German soldiers from World War II singing with Kahn’s character and then showing up with a lynch mob complete with Mexican bikers, Klansmen in hoods and Brooks himself in a cameo.
Alien vs. Predator – This sci-fi film has always been one of my son’s (and my, too) favorites. The film linked two of the scarier sci-fi villains of the 1980s, the Xenomorph (Alien) and the Predator. Starring Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Lance Henriksen, and Ewen Bremner it was the first installment of the Alien vs. Predator franchise and it brought the graphic novels to the big screen.
In the early 2000s, a satellite detects a heat bloom on an island off the coast of Antarctica, 2,000 feet below the ice. American billionaire Samuel Weyland assembles a team of American, British, and Italian investigators and they unleash the Xenomorph trapped for centuries under the ice. Things are compounded when a Predator ship shows up and three of them begin a ruthless fight with thousands of Xenomorph with the hapless humans stuck in the middle.
Lord of the Rings, Return of the King – The finale of the series directed by Peter Jackson and based on the books of J. R. R. Tolkien. The film shows the hobbits finally reaching Mordor as Sauron unleashes his attack on the kingdom of Gondor.
It is considered one of the best, if not the best, fantasy film of all time. At the 76th Academy Awards, it won all the eleven awards for which it was nominated among them Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay.
My personal favorite line in the film was by actress Miranda Otto. As she moves in to kill one of Sauron’s demonic generals the demon warns her: “no man can kill me,” to which Otto flips off her helmet and replies: “I am no man” and thrusts her sword into his face… Put her in SFAS!
The Godfather – The best mob film of them all, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based on Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel. The film features an ensemble cast including Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, and Diane Keaton.
The film follows the Corleone crime family in New York City from the early 1940s, at the outset of World War II, through 1955. The Corleone family run by Don Vito Corleone (Brando) gets involved in a gang war that will encompass all of NY’s crime families.
The Irishman …I Heard You Paint Houses – is a fantastic mob film directed and produced by Martin Scorsese. The film stars an ensemble of the great mob film actors of the 70s and 80s: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, with Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jesse Plemons, and Harvey Keitel.
You’ve Got Mail – This along with “Pretty Woman,” is the go-to chick flick for many women. Directed by Nora Ephron and starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan it was inspired by the 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie by Miklós László. This film employs the excellent on-screen chemistry between Hanks and Ryan who have also appeared together in the awful “Joe vs the Volcano” and “Sleepless in Seattle” another popular chick flick.
Ryan is the owner of a small corner bookstore that was started by her mother. Hanks plays Joe Fox whose dad (a great, but small role for Dabney Coleman) owns a fleet of mega-bookstores and is opening one right around the corner from Ryan’s in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. At first, Ryan hates him because he’s putting her out of business, but soon the sparks start to fly between the two… and you can guess the ending.
Failure to Launch – Our second chick flick, a romantic comedy directed by Tom Dey, and starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker.
The film is about a 35-year-old man (McConaughey), who lives in the home of his parents and shows no interest in leaving the comfortable life his parents, especially his mother, has provided him since birth.
His mother, played by Kathy Bates, eventually hires Parker, an expert on supposedly getting men to move out of their parents’ homes (I never knew such a profession existed). Predictably, the interaction between McConaughey and Parker develops into something more.
The Searchers – Of all of John Wayne’s westerns, this one is arguably the best. Directed by OSS veteran John Ford it stars Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Ward Bond, Natalie Wood, Harry Carey Jr., Vera Miles, Ken Curtis, and Hank Worden.
Set during the Texas-Indian wars shortly after the Civil War, the film was beautifully shot in the Monument Valley of Arizona/Utah as were several of Ford’s westerns.
Wayne and Hunter are on a multiple-year search for Wayne’s niece played by Wood, who was kidnapped and raised by the Comanche.
Some of our favorites include
Band of Brothers – especially episodes “Day of Days” and “Points.”
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – a hilarious comedy with Rachel Brosnahan and Tony Shaloub, who is fantastic as her father. I admit I didn’t want to watch it, but I loved it.
Diablero – A Mexican sci-fi, fantasy series. My son loves it…but both of his parents think it is awful… shhh, don’t tell him.
Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul – Both of these series by Vince Gilligan are continuations of the same story and they are outstanding.
Fauda – An outstanding Israeli television series about a Special Operations unit that goes undercover in Gaza. Both the creator and main star were actually in the IDF’s Duvdevan Unit. We have also reviewed the series for SOFREP.
Home Town – My wife turned me on to this television show set in Laurel, Mississippi. A husband and wife team, Ben and Erin Napier are trying to reinvigorate their hometown by renovating old beat-up homes and getting people to move back into the historic part of Laurel.
One of the more interesting aspects of the show is how Ben repurposes much of the wood that they tear out of the older homes. After watching this show for the past few months, I’m ready to move to Mississippi… on the condition that Ben and Erin do one of their makeovers for me… Are you listening, Ben?
My bulldog and I burned the midnight oil a few nights ago when I couldn’t sleep. So we watched a couple of old favorites of mine, “Who Shot Liberty Valance” and the Vietnam film, “The Green Berets.” The bulldog really likes MSG Muldoon’s character. Every time she heard his voice, she’d stare at the screen.
That’s what we’ve got so for now. So, what are you all watching?