100 Movies: The Final Chapter

100 Movies: The Final Chapter

Well we have arrived at the end of our trilogy. The final 25 films I want my growing children to experience as they get to adulthood. Again this is not a list to start showing  the young ones but once they are in the realm of grown up content they should check these out.

25) Apocalypse Now (1979), I do not think there has been any other film to capture the lunacy of war better. This is absolute insanity on all parts. I recommend the Redux version to get a complete picture but what do I know, I’m just an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks.

24) When Harry Met Sally (1989), The best romantic comedy ever made. Billy Crystal at the top of his game with deadpan philosophical humour and a few pure comedic bis. Oh and  Meg Ryan dropping a fake orgasm that defined my goals as a lover.

23) Batman Begins (2005), My biggest pet peeve is the constant rehashing of origin stories in comic movies. Batman is WAY over done but this is the absolute show stopping can’t do better version. No more, we and e get it, tell us different stories now.

22) 300 (2006), Frank Miller. One of my writing heroes. Sin City, Batman vs Superman, Daredevil S1 on Netflix and signifigant portions of S2. It’s a legend from history and in this telling it is a fireside tale to inspire an army that is out manned and out gunned. When this was released I was working as IMAX manager and watched it 4 times before the release date because I could and several more just because I wanted to and fuck my duties.

21) McClintock (1963), Not all Westerns are gritty shoot outs. This Western/Comedy highlights The Duke and his regular cast or supports and the immortally gorgeous Maureen O’Hara. I dare you toi get through the riot with out laughing.

20) The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), My favourite Eastwood film period. He may have been on the losing side but Josey Wales will not let injustice stand. He could have been The Man With No Name but Josey Wales had an extra dimension missing from that character, a justified cause.

19) Princess Bride (1987), I showed this to my kids years ago but it is something I think adults should see regardless. Simple story and a pure example of fairy tale done right. To not like this movie is…INCONCEIVABLE!

18) Labyrinth (1986), See above. Some things are just timeless and to see this as an adult where the motivations of Sarah can shift. Plus Bowie steals this whole show.

17) Watchmen (2009), This was the most acclaimed graphic novel in comics history, bar none. I worried for the film but it did two things right, it changed the ending ever so slightly for the better and it uct out exactly the right stuff to make a compelling movie. You can find an animate version of the removed plot arc and there was a version that combinded the animation with the live action for us pureests, which is not for the mass audience, Watchmen though…wow.

16) The Toy (1982), this is where I first discovered Richard Pryor. A template for today’s manchild and a fun ride on every kids dream to get paid to just play with toys. Hell I don’t think anyone would turn down that opportunity.

15) A League of Their Own (1992), here is a flash of the greatness that Tom Hanks would bring forth a year later in Philadelphia. A well done historical accounting with a cast I think is still underrated which is saying something when you look it up. The final scene in Cooperstown still gets me.

14) Rudy (1993), Never quit, never stop grinding, give it your all every time, never listen to the haters or naysayers. If it all pays off for just a few moments it will be worth it and you may inspire countless others. If none of this makes sense take some time and watch this. Right now. Go.

13) Lethal Weapon (1987), buddy cop movies are not rare. A few days from retirement and in a gun fight, there’s a trope we all know. Strait laced and by the book partnered with a lunatic, still not that unique. Somehow when combined all these elements still worked for Riggs and Murtaugh. You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!

12) Die Hard (1988), Greatest Christmas movie EVER. Gruber > Snape

11) Ferris Buellers Day Off (1986), does high school irresponsibility and cunning get any better? Here’s a fan theory I love, watch the movie and pretend that Ferris does not exist, it’s Cameron’s split personality a’la Tyler Durden, if you don’t get it go watch…wait I can’t talk about it.

10) Bedazzled (2000), Brendan Fraser is a great actor, this proves it. EIGHT different characters and if you get the DVD with the deleted scene the be ninth and best character is there. A great example of “be careful what you wish for”. Oh and Elizabeth Hurley in a tight red one piece dress…excuse me I need some alone time.

9) Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Fan theory; Indiana Jones is the dream Han Solo has when he is frozen in Carbonite. Digest that. Now then, this may be the most iconic adventure film in history, not quite action or comedy and more a throw back to the serials of the early 1900’s radio and movies (as intended). They guys in 4A are right though, Indy didn’t really change the outcome when you think about it

8) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Again Indy really didn’t affect the outcome here. No matter what it would have ended the same. What a ride though and the chemistry between the Jones men is undeniably the treasure here.

7) Beaches (1988), I hope my kids find a friendship like this in their lives. I have seen this once, right after it was released on VHS (Google it youngster) the ending sent me into an emotions turmoil I hid just long enough to get into bed, then I broke down in tears. Real talk.

6) Goodfellas (1990), here’s another one I caught right after it’s video release. The catch there was that I saw Home Alone in the theatre. The goofy bandit was a serious badass all of a sudden. One hell of a mob story following the rise and fall of three friends, crime doesn’t pay folks there is no good way out.

5) Forrest Gump (1994), take all the history out, take all the southern fried wisdom out. THis is the story about the power of just doing things. Keep good intentions, don’t over think things or be insecure, just go and do to the best of your ability.

4) Star Wars (1977), you didn’t think I was going to leave this out did you? The story may not be complex but the revolutionary special effects literally changed the landscape of film. Beyond the technical impact this movie made it also catapulted Sci-fi to a viable top grossing genre AND created the most compelling space franchise ever. Sorry Trekies but you know it was the Wars that paved the way to the resurgence of the Federation

3) Empire Strikes Back (1980), this got dark quick. The rebels started taking an ass kicking and never really got a shot in. Escaping by the skin of their teeth for two hours and losing a friend and lover, Han and hand both go missing before the credits roll and the psychological and physical ass-kicking our heroes receive drive home that the Empire is not some paper regime easily toppled.

2) Return of the Jedi (1983), the bitter sweet ending to the trilogy, the good guys win but the salvation of Vader falls short. A fitting wrap up to the greatest trilogy of all time.

1) Deadpool (2016), R rated action is back and it brought a massive bag of  cash with it. A dead perfect adaptation of the character, not every character but Deadpool was just what was ordered This comic movie proved that both the X-Franchise and R rated action are a draw when done right by passionate people.

 

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100 Movies: The Sequel

100 Movies: The Sequel

 

You wanted the list, you got the list. Continuing my countdown of 100 movies I want my kids to see as they head into adulthood we have a few heavy hitters from the Oscars and a few cult classics. You’ll pretty much see my train of thought as I brain stormed this and compiled suggestions in this offering. Rest assured I will return with more soon.

50) Philadelphia (1993), one of the first films to tackle the AIDS epidemic, this powerhouse stood up for employment law, gay rights and actual facts about AIDS. Oh yeah it also showed us what Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington could do as actors.

49) Legend (1985), this movie takes it’s share of lumps but it really is a wonderful adventure story and Tim Curry steals the show as Darkness.

48) Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004), the biggest rock band in the world starts to crumble before our eyes. Rehab, miscommunication, losing a bassist, self doubt…therapy? This is a lesson in sorting your shit out before you ruin a good thing.

47) Good Morning Vietnam (1987), Robin Williams at his finest. His rapid fire personality gets suddenly mixed with his capability for touching drama as the movie goes on. He rocked it from the delta to the DMZ

46) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), the most recent movie on the list and you are probably expecting 6 more like it, not so much. The true beauty of Rogue One is that it tells the story of why there is a giant plot hole in a movie that revolutionized film and fandom right before turning the end of Empire strikes back into the second saddest ending in the series.

45) Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan (1982), the best of the Star Trek films from the original cast. The second best space based franchise (shots fired!) hit a peak here. Legitimate passion below’s forth from Kirk when he finally hits his breaking point. KHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

44) Scarface (1983), the American dream summed up in 160 minutes. Ambition, hard work, ruthless pursuit of your dreams DOES pay off. Ok  minutes 161-170 are not the desired result and the methods are more that questionable but for me this is THE gangster movie.

43) Scent of A Woman (1992), if I were to sum this movie up in two words “fuck it” Lt. Col. Frank Slade is done and this is his “fuck it” tour de force including standing up and defending a guilty man, successfully not because he was wrongly accused but because of principal and respect earned. Hoo Wa!

42) Heat (1995), cops and robbers gassed to the gills. Pacino fest portion of the list here but the two sided telling of this tale as we see the personal lives of the protagonist and antagonist and a few supporting characters. From the first scene this one throws down and make no apologies.

41) Legends of the Fall (1994), Brad Pitt was still just a beefcake with a few lucky roles under his belt in 1994. Time has proven he is a very very good actor and his abs opened the door for his skills to set up shop. Family is messed up and this Montana brood go through the grind in the early 1900’s complete with WW1, prohibition, death, heartbreak, health problems and bears.

40) Mr & Mrs Smith (2005), Hmm I may have gotten off on a Pitt tangent with the Pacino, anywho…don’t lie, if your troubled marriage could be saved would you prefer the months of combative therapy or a night where you and your spouse beat the shit out of each other, fire off a few rounds and degenerate into super angry sex that makes you realize how much you love them.

39) Oceans Eleven (2001), not all crime films are guns and blood. Comedic heists with a cast that nails their roles with out argument are hard to come by, the sequels couldn’t completely recreate this but the chemistry and silky smooth flow here just work. Clooney, Pitt (again), Damon, and Roberts may sit on the top of the marquee but everyone earns their star.

38) Good Will Hunting (1997), I didn’t see this coming. I watched it very early in it’s theatrical run and was shocked. I hadn’t heard of Matt Damon or Ben Affleck and it wasn’t until after that I saw they wrote it and I won’t lie it inspired me. Robin Williams was more dramatic that comedic but he hit a blend that was perfect for the role. Circumstance does not indicate intelligence, never quit learning.

37) Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), all our favourite cartoon classics in one place and a solid mystery to boot. The live action/animation blend still holds up. The kids today may not get the impact of the Daffy/Donald piano duel but this was the first viable step towards CGI blending with live action.

36) 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), this ensemble sex comedy made rocketed the core cast to new heights and introduced us to Jonah Hill, Kat Dennings and Elizabeth Banks. The cameos and minor characters thrown in pull the whole thing together.

35) The Kingdom (2007), not the typical story of the conflict between the Middle East and the Western powers. More of a detective story for a good portion with elements of learning to understand each other capped off with a high speed gun fight and a powerful dialog capper just before credits.

34) The Game (1997), This is a movie about a game. That is all I can say except that Michael Douglas and Sean Penn do a fantastic job and it is worth every minute.

33) Fight Club (1999), I won’t break the rules here but I will say that this movie MUST be watched twice to see it properly and the self indulgent calamity on modern life takes a beating.

32) Pulp Fiction (1994), Quentin Tarantino shocked the world with this. Resurrecting the career of John Travolta and turning Samuel L. Jackson into a household name. The rest of the cast reads like a seating chart for the Academy Awards. If you get a disc copy try to piece it together in chronological order, it takes a little thought to get it right.

31) Predator (1987), Arnold at his peak. The sci-fi action of the 80’s was at best rife with tripe and a few gems. This is a relatively simple plot done well and loaded with one liners.

30) From Russia With Love (1963), My favourite Bond film. Before the gadgets became the focal point and stunts feats of impossibility the second installment in the 007 franchise hit all the right spots.

29) Casino Royale (2006), The reboot I dreaded and the Bond I like most after seeing it. They grounded the franchise again and went back to a more basic style, plus is really the start of a multiple film arc which had not been done in the franchise.

28) Golden Eye (1995), The Bond franchise had taken a beating over the previous two decades, campy scenes, over the top gadgetry, far fetched plots and a few try to hard to be trendy endeavours took their slow toll. The man who should have taken the reigns years earlier finally got is chance and Goldeneye put 007 back in his rightful place.

27) Highlander (1986), The best of the film franchise and one of the biggest tragedies in the Hollywood cash grab. Several poor sequels and a worse TV spinoff later the original concept is beaten to a pulp. The 1992 TV series had  a good intention and followed through pretty well thankfully. This original story should have been left alone and still holds up.

26) Top Gun (1986), by far Tom Cruise’s most iconic role. Slick, cocky 80’s action and lust at Mach 2. Has anyone not said “Talk to me Goose.” If you look at the concept and plot there is no reason for this to be a viable classic but everyone hit the mark, though I’m still not sure why fighter aces play volleyball so much.

100: The Prequel 

100: The Prequel 

Oh I’m sorry did I leave a giant plot hole? Perhaps I have not told a complete story? Raise your hand if you thought I forgot how to count to 100. I know, for a fact, that AT LEAST two of you did. I was publicly called out on it, both on posts and in a group chat I am part of. C’Mon, those of you that know me should know by now I don’t always show my hand before its time.  At least my friends are reading these, which I am grateful for, thankfully I can take a ball busting as well as I dish them out. I can count to 100 so allow me to take the Hollywood route, fill in the hole and complete the story with a prequel.

100) American Beauty (1999), now this is how you do a midlife crisis. Granted I really don’t think the under aged crush is a good idea at all but Lester took his crisis by the balls and ran. I still think he nailed the true reason for working out “I want to look good naked.” and if things had been just a tad different he would have met Tyler Durden and, one way or the other, had a very different story.

99) The Abyss: Directors Cut (1989), it started out as a solid film but the shorter theatrical time (2h25m) cut out a far deeper story. Flip side is that the better story is about 3 hours long, not the best length to capture a mass audience but not the only film on this list you’ll see in the next 98 titles to have a long running time.

98) Braveheart (1995),…so yeah, see above about the running time. While battling oppression is a valiant and noble thing it isn’t always the happy ending. When you look back the Scots have been battling the English since Rome rolled in and tried to take over, at least. Sure an Australian was leading this time but did he nail it. Plus in the grand tradition of showing off man buns in the 80’s/90’s Mel worked that in nicely.

97) Big (1988), let’s not touch on the statutory rape thing here. Frankly I think Josh did the right thing. I’d love to have a shot at Elizabeth Perkins and he did it with out having to try really. As kids we all wanted to be grown up and as adults we’d all rather go back to being kids. Josh got a lesson we all could use. I wonder if they made a well thought out sequel what would Josh say about the difference in being a kid and an adult?

96) Shawshank Redemption (1994), the positivism movement has been telling us ad nauseum for years that a good head space is all you need to succeed. Andy Dufresne proved it. He had a goal, he had a plan and he did not let naysayers, bullies, anal rapists or lack of immediate results sway him. Long term goals, long term planning and he went through a literal ass fucking and river of shit to get there. Our figurative one is nothing.

95) The Breakfast Club (1985), I wish high school kids could be as enlightened as the BC at the end of this film. By God they made more progress in one day than most people do in 20 years and I help organize my 20 year high school reunion so I know it for a fact. As much as it is on TV find a full version and watch it because it is a tad more grown than we remember from the TV showings. I also found that out first hand about 3 years ago.

94) Aliens (1986), ZEE-NO-MORE-F-S, that is the technical name for the iconic creature we call ‘Aliens’. While the first was a milestone, it is definitely the second that spawned the expanded universe. What a cast, Sigourney, Michael, Bill, Paul, Lance and the great designs of H.R. Giger. Game over, man. Game over! Oh and for the record Predator beats Alien. Every. Time.

93) Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), this one sticks with me. My Dad took me, only me, to see this in theatres. This was HUGE for me and I won’t get into why. Suffice to say movies have been the one thing I fealt I could do with my Dad that my brother could not. That is not fair, but given the family dynamic it is how I have fealt and this came at a time I really needed it. He may only have discovered it reading this but it is true. He took me to my first movie (E.T.) and my only original Star Wars release(Return of the Jedi). This came at a time when  I was desperate to be acknowledged in the family. Plus it is a bad ass James Cameron (2nd in this post) movie when Ah-Nold Mussel-Hogga was at his peak and made $21,429.00 PER WORD and made a bad ass movie

92) American Pie (1999), Porky’s for millenials. This came (pun intended) out of nowhere (suddenly) and nailed (pun intended there too) it’s audience. I still remember the Famous Player Staff screening of this. The franchise took a pounding with Strait to video and too quick sequels but this holds up better than Jim’s study session or a flute at band camp.

91) Se7en (1995), real talk; what’s in the box was WAY worse in my mind when I saw this in theatres. I won’t say here what I thought it was, because it was still horrific which makes me an awful person, but if you ask in person I will tell you. Spacey was far from Usual Suspects ans Pitt was just breaking out to true stardom. Freeman and Fincher were just on par, which is saying a LOT. Mystery/Thriller has no better example, equals but no better.

90) Full Metal Jacket (1987), I really don’t care much for Kubrick. Despite several recommendations and a screening of another of his films repeatedly suggested for this I think he is over rated and pretentious to the point of being a hack. Obviously the sun shines on a mangy dog’s ass once in a while and film is subjective, I cannot deny his fan base and that is a fact. The torment and culture of military life was captured in a way that was not yet seen. R. Lee Emrey and Vincent D’Onofrio really make this film and while I find it drops a bit after a certain point I can’t deny it is quotable, memorable and relevant. Bravo

89) The Outsiders (1983), is there any better day in school than getting to waste a day or two watching a movie in class? The Outsiders was required reading at one point and the movie delivered. Another example of a cast that would cost a billion dollars today before they were famous.

88) The Never Ending Story (1984), well what do we got ova here? Another movie geared towards kids that is actually deeper than expected and holds up 33 years later. Here’s a thought, what if Artax was a symbolic representative of our childhood as we race towards our own end?

87) True Grit (2010), as much as I do love John Wayne the Coen brothers did a tremendous job remaking this novel based film. Bridges and Damon really own their roles here and create a hell of a western.

86) The Color Purple (1985), certain human atrocities must be recounted. Early 1900’s weren’t easy for women or minorities, let alone minority women. This one made my stomach turn watching the struggle of Celie and Nettie was not only a story that needs to be told but a stark reminder that human beings are awful to each other.

85) The Green Mile (1999), in other news there are those human beings that are magically wonderful to everyone, I have a friend like that, but in this case the magic is literal. John Coffey was THE gentle giant and his magical personality was a endearing as his magic touch.

84) The Matrix (1999), say what you want about the sequels, The Matrix is still a mind fuck and an incredible ride. A deep concept and ground breaking effects. If that doesn’t sell out the credits song Is Rage Against The Machine’s “Wake Up”. Skip the sequels if you wish but we all know we would be demanding them if they had not been made because this story needed a conclusive ending.

83) Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Eddie in his prime.  The rogue cop as a fish out of water rags to riches con man adventure in a crappy blue Chevy Nova. Eddie was riding high and while it may not be his best it is a contender.

82) Rocky (1976), Stallone gets a lot of shit for his movies on the whole and it’s not entirely undeserved but you can’t deny he showed up top make a mark with Rocky. This won 3 Oscars, including Best Picture and Stallone was nominated for Best actor and Best Screenplay. It also garnered Best Actress and Supporting Actor. Oh yeah the actual movie of the heart of a champion in an underdog that never got a break in the ring or out.

81) The Great Outdoors (1988), family sucks. Vacations with family you already don’t like inviting themselves and can only lead to, bears, jet boats, smart ass raccoons, hilarious shenanigans and giant steaks. By far my favourite John Candy adventure.

80) Schindlers List (1993), The Holocaust should never be forgotten. I mentioned class movie day earlier but in this case my high school was sent to the Guildford Famous Players Cinema and we saw this. It was tough to watch and digest the capacity for evil involved and the lengths some will go to fight it.

79) Easy Rider (1969), this may be the ultimate road trip movie. Get your bike, your supplies and just go explore the world. Sure they were still getting their share of party favours ingested but that’s just part of finding yourself in the world as much as exploring it is.

78) Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), this movie had no business succeeding. The most challenging property Marvel had on their schedule. The concept required a very tight script, actors that could bring life to lesser know characters and make them resonate, the CGI had to be better than anything Marvel had done yet due to the massive amounts needed. Oh and hope that former WWE Champion could do more than look the part, while simultaneously getting a normally chubby lead actor into top shape.  With more going against it than for it this movie defied all odds and crushed it in every aspect.

77) All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records (2015), this isn’t just the story of a store turned multinational company, this is the story of a whole industry. The Napster boom was not just a hit to the recording industry it killed an entire industry leaving only a small few clinging on in slow death. The story of Tower Records is the story of the retail music industry. I lived it as Music World was an early victim of Napster and file sharing and I saw my job die on the vine.

76) Stand By Me (1986), no other movie is a potent in its transformation with the age of the viewer. As a kid you see the grand adventure. As you get older you see long gone friends and the summers when an adventure was just a whim away. The voice over at the end goes from a neat wrap up to a tear jerking moment where you can place your own friends in the places of Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern.

 

100 Movies I Want My Kids To See (When They Are Older)

100 Movies I Want My Kids To See (When They Are Older)


Movies are great, can’t deny it can you? There are a select handful that are timeless, they hold up no matter when they were made. Scenes so gripping they become cliches, dialogue that is delivered so perfectly that it becomes the often repeated lines that are call upon at a moments notice and live forever in memes. We pass the references around like social cash and when one has to be explained there is a ripple of shock and disgust that permeates the air right before someone grabs a remote and popcorn to educated the uninformed party. Lots of NetFlix, no chill. Since my kids are getting older I found myself thinking about what I was watching at there age, granted it was the late 1980’s and the supervisory levels were not as strict then, of course the available content was also far less, imagine having to go to a store to exchange money for a 24hr use of a video tape. Now if said store was staffed by the right person a kid could get almost anything they wanted, almost, that one room in the back had no leniency. I started to think about which movies I would want my kids to see as they get nearer to adulthood and came up with quite a list. I asked a lot of others for input and found I had missed a great many in my brainstorming. I figured I would whittle it down to 100 movies which was not easy and give a few quick thoughts on each. Don’t worry this is a trilogy.

75) The Last Samurai (2003), Tom Cruise is underrated as an actor, his popcorn action status may be cemented but this may be his finest performance, no I didn’t forget Collateral. There is a beauty in the way the story is told that envelopes all aspects of the production.

74) Coming to America (1988), Eddie Murphy’s finest comedy movie in my opinion, discounting his stand up. Arsenio Hall shines next to him in this fish out of water story. Multiple roles and right in the sweet spot where Eddie was the King Midas of Hollywood, everything he touched turned to gold.

73) South Park: Bigger, Longer Uncut (1999), this movie demonstrates two things 1) humour is available in almost every situation 2) life is hysterical if you can not get offended at everything. Learn to take a joke and appreciate the satire of the show that makes fun of everything. Really it’s an 81 minute episode but what’s wrong with that?

72) Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Is there any more iconic high school movie? I dare you to prove it to me. It may not be all party and good times but it hits all the sweet spots. Plus look at the cast, how many Oscars did the cast accept in their life? How many high profile actors started here? I blame this for Nick Cage though, Hollywood thought he could perform since he got screen time here.

71) Clerks (1994), Ever worked retail? If you have you know that this hits every nightmare in the retail clerk Rolodex. 7 years after release I realized I was Dante and has more than happy to never work behind a register again. I assure you this is worth your time.

70) The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966), It’s long, it’s gritty and it has some not perfect dubbing from Italian but this is the most iconic western ever. Eastwood has performed better in a few cases but this is right up there in his top tier. Plus the theme, c’mon, even the Star Wars theme takes a back seat to this one.

69) End of Watch (2012), this starts out as a mockumentary style cop moive and slowly edges away from the typical mockumentary and cop genre movies with an ending that is part 80’s style shoot out, part heartbreaking tragedy. The full impact here isn’t felt until the last few minutes.

68) The Sandlot (1993), Sure the kids have already seen this but like a few others on the list it takes on a different meaning once you get to the other side of the narrative. The best example of this we’ll get to later in the list. At my age looking back at a summer like these kids had tugs at the heart, I think that is the true genius in this movie.

67) Dazed & Confused (1993), where Fast Times hit the high school experience this nails the grad weekend experience. Granted it is the last day of school for those entering the Senior and Freshmen year in Texas high school system. You want a party movie? This is it. Not to be outdone by Fast Times D&C boasts a young cast that would go on to massive success. Plus it is one of the most quotable movies ever made. “All right, all right, all right.” (you just heard Matthew McConaughey didn’t you)

66) The Wrestler (2008), as a fan I watch wrestling with my kids and while this is not a completely accurate tale for every wrestler this is a cautionary tale that frankly has not been disputed as entirely inaccurate nor has it been touted as far fetched. Conclusion is that this is accurate for a certain low percentage. I see this a perfect cautionary tale. That being said it is also a story of a man that LOVES his job and follows his passion despite being past his prime and medical cautions.

65) Black Hawk Down (2001),  There is no better combat film in my generation. Equals perhaps but none better and the cast is incredible, right before he joined a hobbit and a dwarf on a road trip Orlando Bloom was falling from a helicopter, add to that a slew of recognizable, faces the cast is a 21 gun salute to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

64) City Slickers (1991), here is the ultimate mid-life crisis film. Three guys hit a tourist cattle drive vacation and meet the toughest cowboy this side of Josey Wales. Another film that changes with the viewers age but the key is getting on YouTube.com and showing Jack Palance accepting his Best Supporting Actor Oscar ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGxL5AFzzMY ) Watch it, it’s amazing.

63) The Usual Suspects (1995), BEST. ENDING. EVER. Yadda yadda yadda, great cast. Yadda, yadda, yadda, great story.

62) Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), this is how you do Vegas. This is how you party. This is how you tell a story. Add the talents of Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro. Cameos by Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire, Gary Busey, Mark Harmon, Penn Jillette, Cameron Diaz, Flea, Christopher Meloni, Ellen Barkin. Oh did I mention this is every bit as quotable as Dazed & Confused? Ask me nice and I will tell you what’s in the briefcase.

61) The Rock (1996), one of the handful of movies Nick Cage has not screwed up. Con Air? Con Shit! Connery drops his last great action performance and Cage shows up to put in work. Ed Harris plays the justified protagonist to the point of sympathy when all is said and done and his second in command, David Morse, is totally justified in his motivations. This is what an action movie should be, and in case you missed it I HATE Nick Cage in all but 5 films.

60) Blade (1998), the further back in time we go the less well received comic book movies are. Blade nailed it. C-list character in a non-hospitable  era. Blew minds. By 1998 Batman (1989) and Superman (1978) were the only real success stories agreed upon by critics, fans and box office. While Blade did not hit the box office as hard as the other two it was so successful in the other realms it would take Iron Man to eclipse it (sorry X-Men)

59) Interstellar (2014), I was too old to really get this. Here is another film that will change depending on viewer age and I can’t be 12 again. This was a whim when I watched it and a crushing experience when I was done. While I can’t really put myself in the position of Murph anymore, I will always default to Cooper and it kills me. Space, time, evolution, advancement, survival it all boils down to a father and daughter and a sacrifice for humanity. I need a quick cry now…

58) Bourne Identity (2002), Matt Damon! This broke the mold of the action movies we were used to, no quips or dramatic escapes or exaggerated fights, bare bone common sense style ‘How do I get out of this?’. This is the template for the new direction of 007. A great series that was a turning point for a genre and for the image of Matt Damon. His dramatic and comedic skills were already shown but when he took on Jason Bourne he proved he could do compelling action too.

57) National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), go on a family road trip and tell me this isn’t perfect. I went from Nanaimo, British Columbia to  Dartmouth, Nova Scotia  when I was 7. There is no Wally World out there,  we were headed to a funeral but this seems about right. Go across the country with a spouse and two kids and not turn into Clark Griswold…I dare you.

56) Dirty Dancing (1987), I hate this movie BUT a teenage gil makes the best of a family vacation and finds romance. As a teen that went on a LOT of trips I wasn’t into; Fuck it, Baby get out of that corner and dance girl. As a parent; Johnny I have acreage and a backhoe.

55) The Big Lebowski (1998), bad things happen to good people man. You can’t, like, judge a person on circumstance. That just isn’t cool man. Take life as it comes, be good to each other and try to find a rug that pulls the room together man.

54) Tombstone (1993), the western was dead. period. Unforgiven was still in production when Tombstone was mere pages on a typewriter. Box offices were about to get the second shot in the western revival when Kurt Russel and Val Kilmer rode into town. The retelling of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday  blew minds and became the most quotable western in film history. If you don’t agree “You tell ’em I’m comin’ and hell’s comin’ with me!”

53) Blazing Saddles (1974), Mel Brooks gave us a lot of spoofs and comedies but none on the level of Blazing Saddles. Sorry Space Balls fans. This is THE one.

52) Into the Wild (2007), I can  never decide how I feel about this movie. Is it an adventure? A tragedy? A waste of life or a fulfillment of one? Regardless it recounts a story of removing oneself from a life path that feels wrong and chasing one that feels right.

51) The Sixth Sense (1999), you can only see certain movies once. Those rare gems where the final moments alter everything that came before it. I hope my kids see this untainted  and can truly appreciate the ending.

There’s the first portion. You can find the sequel this weekend right here at The Matt Harding Blog.

Like A Lightning Bolt


Have you ever thought you knew something with absolute certainty only to discover in a flash that you had no clue at all? That is a messed up moment in life, isn’t it. Suddenly you are sat under the learning tree and realization is beating you with a switch cut from the tree of knowledge itself.  If that seems a little over dramatic then you may not really have had one of those moments yet. For me I thought I knew unconditional love, I have family and had cherished pets but in late February 2004 I found out I had not really understood the concept yet.

It happened in the early evening. I was standing next to my Dad, who was in the worst position possible. Dad had arrived with my Mom to check in on my girlfriend as we were in hospital, the poor guy found himself stuck next to the window and the action area as my first born daughter was being born. He had the video camera and looked ready to take the window out rather than risk seeing too much trying to get out the door. The nurse snapped “If you’re recording you need to get over here!”

Now the deal was I could record it as long as the camera stayed above the waist, fair enough. To my poor Dad who had hesitated just a second and was moving the camera, not his head, into position four people including a in labour daughter in-law screamed “NO!

He damn near tore a muscle moving the camera back. I don’t think he was thrilled to have to follow directions from the nurse but the man did it like a champ. For my part I had seen fit to take the advice of my boss and snuck a few hits of the gas mask so I was relaxed enough not to have fainted and I even watched the whole scene unfold. Moments after my poor father was chastised I saw here for the first time, covered in birth and sporting a bone mohawk from her short trip. I looked over at my Dad and said the truest words I have ever uttered. “It’s a girl…I’m screwed.”

She became my world, I had never felt love like that before it hit me like a lightening bolt.  This isn’t to say I feel less love for her younger sister or my step kids but this time was a revelation. Through circumstance she and I spent a lot of together, I worked mostly nights and her mother was in school. I got over my fear of infants and learned to take care of this little creature. Now to be clear I had been around her brother when he was a baby but there was a chunk of time I wasn’t and I was not shy about were my participation line was with him at that age. I had to step up and I think I did okay despite my personal fears and insecurities. I started to figure it out. We were damn near inseparable. Then I got strep throat and for a week (full disclosure I still went to the Metallica concert) I was terrified to be near her and pass the pain I was in to her before she had turned one month old. Hardest week of my life.

Over the years we napped together, she became a ‘bed ninja’ where she could insert herself to my bed without waking me and co-sleep, a trait she passed on to her sister. We walked together, played together, talked together, all the parent/child things. No real unique things really. She always seemed to be independent and wanting to be in charge. In fact when I split with her mother she developed a ‘woman of the house’ mentality. That hasn’t always gone well for her as her sister has never looked at her as an authority figure. These days it isn’t all that bad in some cases because she does have the right idea even though her delivery is a little too dictator like. She has always been sweet and caring, eager to help the younger kids (here’s where that delivery causes problems again). One evening my two girls and I were watching a movie snuggled up on the chaise lounger and as it was Friday night and my job had me at work for 20 of the last 24 hours I fell asleep. I awoke to find a dark house and a blanket over me. She had tucked me in, then tucked in her sister and crawled into her own bed. While I felt like a failure as a parent I was also moved to tears at her thoughtfulness. She loves animals and I watched her heart break as we said good bye to several family pets, her tiny face covered in tears when she was told our beloved Great Dane was gone to heave and yet she still doesn’t shy away from giving her heart to more pets or animals, I hope her love life goes as well one day (far in the future).

Her mischievous side surfaced one afternoon when I had again succumbed to the hazards of my job and fallen asleep during a Barbie movie. This time the little ‘angel’ concocted a prank; hide and get her sister to tell me she went out side. So when I woke up to her sister crawling up on me (I should have known then, she was already a much better ninja than that) I asked where Kaela was and when I looked out to the enclosed back yard there was no one, I checked the house and her sister kept saying “she went outside.” Panic mode. To top it all off her mother I and I were not on good terms so this was a complete nightmare. The neighbors were soon out in force and seconds from a police call, I went inside to grab my phone and that’s when I saw a little sock sicking out from under my bed…little shit. I pulled her out from under the bed and made her come with me to tell the neighbors she was fine. I saw it as a wake up call (no pun intended) and a few months later it was a small factor in my career change.

My not so wee girl just turned 13. Her more grown up demeanor has reduced my mother to tears with the realization the little girl is a memory. She has reduced me to tears as she participated in my Dad and brothers weddings, broke down over the state of her mothers health and my mother not living in town anymore. She is tall and is the spitting image of me (poor kid) which at least proves I would have made a pretty girl. Like any kid her age she is not always easy to be around but I can always count of her being responsible when she is on her own or babysitting. She isn’t perfect, I know this but I am proud of her and I can tell you that with her first breath or air I finally understood unconditional love.