The Spielberg Blogathon: Reminiscing about Raiders of the Lost Ark & Jurassic Park

SpielbergBlogathon

This post is part of the SPIELBERG BLOGATHON hosted by Outspoken & Freckled, It Rains… You Get Wet, and Once Upon A Screen taking place August 23-24. Please visit these host blogs for a full list of participating blogs

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When Ruth asked me to participate in the Steven Spielberg blogathon, I wasn’t sure what to write about so I figured I should do a write up about two films of his that I’ve watched many times. These two films also made me into a film fanatic and home theater enthusiast that I am today.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

I was born in the Far East and the martial arts films was the only genre I’d watch, but after seeing this film I became a fan of American action films. I think I was about 8 or 9 years old when I first saw this film, my family and I were living in the Philippines Islands at the time and I saw it at some old movie theater. I was too young to really understood what the film was about but the visual and of course the action pulled me in. I still remember that the film’s climatic scene gave me nightmares, I freaked out when I saw the villains’ faces melt off and they were burned alive.

But I still thought the film was magic and when my family and I arrived to the States a year later, I begged my parents to buy me a VHS copy of the film. What’s so funny was that I didn’t know there were sequels until I saw a TV spot of The Last Crusade the year we arrived in the States. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the third film on the big screen but watched it several times on VHS. Then a couple of years later I watched Temple of Doom on the old Sci-Fi Channel. I enjoyed the two sequels but to me Raiders is still the best in the series.

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I’ve owned this film on many formats, first I had the VHS copy then later when I was able to afford a LaserDisc player, I bought a LD version of the film. When DVD became popular, I of course bought the DVD set then just a couple of years ago I got the Bluray set, unfortunately I had to buy the dreadful fourth film too.

Since Spielberg is a big fan of David Lean and Lawrence of Arabia is one of his favorite films, he even stated that the film’s script is the best ever written, so Raiders of the Lost Ark was his ultimate tribute to Lean’s classic film.

 

Jurassic Park

The summer of 1993 was dubbed Arnold vs. Sly since both of those action stars had two big films opening in the same summer and the so-called industry “experts” predicted that Sly’s Cliffhanger and Arnold’s Last Action Hero would dominate the box office. Of course Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was also one of the hyped up films but no one expected it would stomped both Sly’s and Arnold’s films. Sure I was excited to see new action films from Sly and Arnold but I super excited to see this film about dinosaurs. It’s one of the first films to have included full CGI effects in many scenes and it’s about dinosaurs!

Yes, like many kids back in those days, I was obsessed with dinosaurs and I’ve just finished Michael Crichton’s novel that it’s based on. I still remember to this day which theater I saw the film at on opening weekend and still remember how at awe I was after the film was over. The first time I saw the CGI dinosaurs, my jaw dropped and throughout the film, I had a smile on my face. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at the cinemas. I actually went to see the film twice on the opening weekend, around this time digital surround sound was pretty new in movie theaters so I wanted to hear the T-Rex’s roar in full digital sound over and over again. I was bummed that I couldn’t make it to the re-release on IMAX last year. With an opening weekend of over $50mil, it’s a record opening at that time. I think the summer of 1993 should’ve been called, T-Rex stomped Sly and Arnold.

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Like Raiders of the Lost Ark, I’ve owned this film on many formats. First VHS then LaserDisc and years later on DVD. Recently I bought it on Bluray but I have yet to watch it. Apparently Universal didn’t give the film a proper HD transfer so I was hesitant to buy it. Since I haven’t watched the film in a couple of years, I need to see and hear it in HD soon. This film also turned me into a home theater enthusiast, as mentioned earlier, I saw the film at a theater that has the new digital surround sound and after experiencing that, I wanted to have a home theater. Of course being a high school kid, I didn’t have the money to buy home theater products yet. But as I’ve gotten older and can earn bigger pay checks, I’ve invested some good amount of cash on home entertainment. In a way, I can thank and blame this Spielberg’s film for making me obsess with home theater.

Spielberg is one of the best filmmakers ever and these two films proved that he can make films that can please both the critics and audiences.

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What do you think of these two films, were you lucky enough to have seen them on the big screen? Do share your memories on the comments section.

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What I’ve Watched in my First Week on 2013

Happy Monday all! This the first FULL work week I have for a while now, I’m definitely gonna miss the partial work week from the Holiday season, ahah.

In lieu of a weekend roundup, I thought I’d share how my movie watching has been in its first week of the new year. Actually it’s been rather slow and I haven’t been to the movie theater since The Hobbit over a week ago. Not that I miss going to the cinema, though some things are definitely meant to see on the big screen, which is why we’d go see Life of Pi next weekend.

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I miss the movie-going experience, though not the waiting-in-line part

I’ll be going to a couple of advanced screenings this week, but due to the embargo, I can’t talk about ‘em yet. Let’s just say one of them is likely going to be in the running for Academy Awards nominations and the other one is a period action film starring a few very popular actors. So anyways, I’ve only seen about three movies so far and three of them were new to me.

  • The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
    ShopAroundtheCornerPoster
    The inspiration for You’ve Got Mail starring Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart is lovely. I didn’t know it was set in Hungary. Though the mail correspondent part wasn’t as prominent a plot as the remake, but the scene at the cafe were pretty much identical.

    I need to watch more James Stewart movies, I think The Philadelphia Story is next! Oh, I also like Frank Morgan as the store owner Mr. Matuschek!

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  • Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

    SafetyNotGuaranteedPosterI’m so glad I finally saw this. I’ve been seeing a ton of great reviews on this one, glad it was available on iTunes. All of the actors were unknown to me, but I was impressed by Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass. The story is wonderfully bizarre and it was full of quirky characters as well. Duplass (who reminds me a bit of Sean Bean) plays Kenneth, a supermarket employee who put a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel, and Plaza plays Darius, one of the three magazine employees who head out on assignment to write a story on it.

    The premise makes for off-the-wall and hilarious scenarios, but yet the story ends up being quite heartfelt, especially when it’s between Kenneth and Darius. It keeps you guessing throughout up until that whoa! ending. It’s the kind of ending that makes you stand up and cheer despite how preposterous it is, definitely one of the most original time-travel stories I’ve ever watched. If you’re looking for great, memorable characters and emotional gratification, this movie is not to be missed. I quite like the music too, my favorite part was when Kenneth sang The Big Machine with a Zither!
  • The Wings of the Dove (1997)
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    WingsoftheDovePosterI’ve been wanting to see this movie for quite a while, especially when someone mentioned about the memorable scene at the London Tube. Well, there’s that and a boat load of memorable rainy scenes in Venice too!

    It’s based on a 1902 novel by Henry James. The tagline says it all: A couple with everything but money. An heiress with everything but love. A temptation no one could resist. Helena Bonham Carter in one of her plethora of period dramas was quite bewitching as a young woman, Kate, who’s torn between love and her privileged life. She’s basically an impoverished girl who’s taken up by her wealthy aunt (Charlotte Rampling), but she’s in love with a penniless journalist Merton (Linus Roache). When she befriends a dying American heiress Millie (Alison Elliot), she concocts a plot to enable her to have her cake and eat it too, but things don’t exactly go according to plan.

    Oh, the things people in the name of love… the chemistry between Helena and Linus was scorching, but man, it’s awful and sad how far Kate is willing to do to get what she wants. It’s really a dark, twisted and poignant love story. It certainly makes for a passionate and ravishing period drama. Both HBC and Linus were captivating, Linus was quite mesmerizing, he’s got such an uncanny resemblance to Christian Bale, no wonder he was cast as Bruce Wayne Sr! Bonham-Carter was nominated for an Oscar for this role. I pretty much love all the performances, down to the supporting roles with thespians like Michael Gambon and Charlotte Rampling.

    It’s the kind of story that lingers long after the end credits. In fact, I kept thinking about it all night all the way until this morning. I feel like this film deserves a full write-up, which I still may do in the future. The cinematography alone is breathtaking… all in all a bewitching adaptation.
  • Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (re-watch)
    It never fails to entertain. Sean Connery + Harrison Ford pairing is just brilliant, plus there River Phoenix in the beginning as the young Indy. I wish he were still alive today, I’d rather see him than Shia in the fourth installment! Anyway, we also watched the making-of documentary which was pretty cool as Spielberg went almost scene-by-scene on various locations.


Well, glad to report that the three new ones were all very enjoyable. So what movies did you watch in the first week of the New Year?

31-Days Movie Meme Day #24 & 25 — Fave movie quote & Movie I plan on watching

Day 24 – Quote you use most often

Well, I don’t use it too often, but I guess more often than others: “Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”

I find that I use a lot of quotes from Gladiator a lot, there so many memorable ones as well as one-liners from that movie! In fact, there should be a meme for “Movies with the most memorable quotes”, and that one ought to be on the list. Obviously the ones uttered by Maximus are the most popular (i.e. “What we do in life… echoes in eternity” and the one on this list), but I LOVE this one by Senator Gracchus, not so much the quote itself, though it’s a good one indeed, but more about of the way Derek Jacobi delivered it. It was just… sublime.


And here are five other memorable movie quotes:

  • Batman Begins
    Alfred Pennyworth:
    Why do we fall sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up.
  • Ben-Hur
    Judah Ben-Hur:
    Almost at the moment He died, I heard Him say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
    Esther: Even then.
    Judah Ben-Hur: Even then. And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.
  • Multiplicity (one of my comedy guilty pleasure!)
    Doug Kinney – clone #3, referring to clone #4: You know how when you make a copy of a copy, it’s not as sharp as… well… the original.

    Jonny Lee Miller & Frances O’Connor

  • Mansfield Park (one of my favorite period dramas!)
    Edmund Bertram [when asked whether he loved Fannie Price]:
    There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.
  • Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
    Professor Henry Jones: I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne. Let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky…

    Since it was Sean Connery’s 80th birthday yesterday, I thought it’s fitting to include this awesome scene from that movie in his honor!

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Day 25 – A movie you plan on watching (old or new)

Well, in my recent weekly poster post featuring Woody Allen’s new movie, a few people suggested Purple Rose of Cairo. So that’s what I just received in the mail today. Can’t wait to see it!

A few other ones in my Netflix queue are: The Beat that My Heart Skipped, An Education, Spirited Away (another suggestion from the comments section), V for Vendetta (a great thriller my husband and I want to watch again), and West Side Story (a classic I’m ashamed I haven’t watched. So thanks Andrew for the inspiring me to finally rent it because of this meme post!).

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Well, let’s hear your favorite movie quote(s). I’m sure everyone has at least one.

Desert Island DVDs: 8 flix I’d take with me if I were stranded on a desert island

Oh the dilemma! Thanks to Andy from Fandango Groovers, in the past month, a whole bunch of us movie bloggers have been inflicted with an amusing predicament. Apparently, Andy was inspired by a UK radio program called Desert Island Discs where guests are invited to imagine themselves cast away on a desert island with only eight pieces of music. The twist for us cinephiles is we’re instead asked to simply pick eight DVDs instead. My initial reaction is thinking about those that might actually help me survive and find ways to get off the island, of which movies like Cast Away would be I’d wish I had in my stash. But really, if you were really stranded and fighting for survival, movie-going experience probably isn’t going to be your top priority. So in this case, the word ‘deserted’ is really up for interpretation. I figure the island could be one that’s been ‘deserted’ by the owner – in Indonesia, if you’re wealthy enough, you can actually buy a piece of an island and make it your own resort. So the island I’m stranded in happens to be previously owned by some Richard Branson-type tycoon who’s forced to abandon it due to some tax evasion scandal – hence the top of the line outdoor theater system :)

So without further ado, here are my eight picks (in alphabetical order) that I wouldn’t mind seeing over and over again. Well, that is until the yearn for civilization ultimately beckons.

1. Batman Begins
Why not The Dark Knight, you asked? Well, I do like both movies — and one might argue that TDK is the better one of the two — but I’ve always loved origins story and truthfully, I find this one to be more enjoyable for repeat viewings. Besides, this is truly a movie where Bale’s caped crusader is front and center, instead of being sidelined by a terrific villain in the form of Heath Ledger’s Joker. I wish Maggie Gyllenhaal had been cast as Rachel here though, but at least the rest of the stellar cast well more than made up for Katie Holmes. There are plenty of memorable scenes in Chis Nolan’s first foray to superhero flick, but this spectacular batcave scene where Bruce Wayne conquers his biggest fear is iconic and poignant, plus the music is downright perfect. Gives me goosebumps every time!


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2. Bride & Prejudice (narrowly edges out Moulin Rouge*)
I never thought I’d put this one on my list but when I came across a picture of it, I remember how much I enjoyed seeing this entertaining Bollywood [loose] interpretation of the Jane Austen classic Pride & Prejudice. Director Gurinder Chadha infused this movie with humor and amusing culture-clash scenarios, you can’t help but laugh and have fun from start to finish. Bewitching Aishwarya Rai as the ‘Elizabeth Bennet’ character Lalita anchors the movie with her beauty and charm, of course just like Keira Knightley in the latest adaptation, she’s far too gorgeous to play the supposedly plain heroine. Martin Henderson as Darcy isn’t quite as ‘irresistibly tormented’ as Colin Firth, but he shares a pretty believable chemistry with Rai that the relationship still works. The Indian supporting cast is fantastic, most notably Naveen Andrews as Balraj (Mr. Bingley) and the hilarious Nitin Ganatra as Kohli (Mr. Collins).

*Moulin Rouge comes thisclose to being on this list, but I feel that though some of the scenes of Ewan & Nicole together are totally repeat-worthy, I find that I keep ffwd-ing a lot of the beginning parts of the dvd. So overall, B&P is much more enjoyable for me as a whole.
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3. Casino Royale
I don’t mean to be disloyal to my hero Timothy Dalton here, but I didn’t really agonized too much on choosing this over his first Bond flick The Living Daylight. Mostly because I’m just not impressed at all by Maryam D’Abo as the Bond girl. Now, Daniel Craig is a formidable Bond that surprised everyone – including me – and he benefits from such a well-written script and amazing direction from Martin Campbell. Not to mention the smartest and classiest Bond girl ever, played by the ravishing Eva Green. Vesper Lynd is hands down my favorite, and the scintillating banter scene of the two of them on a train is proof that a Bond girl can be ever so fetching without having to take her clothes off. This is just one of many scenes in the movie I’ll never grow tired of, hence its inclusion in this particular top 20 list.
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4. Dear Frankie (narrowly beats Phantom of the Opera*)
It’s hardly surprising to a lot of you that I’m going to have a Gerry Butler movie, the question is which one? Though I fell for the Scot in Phantom, and yes I do still watch that from time to time, I feel more inclined to include the little-known tiny gem about a little deaf kid whose mother had to lie in order for him to have a father-figure for a day. Butler is only in the movie for 25 minutes or so, but oh quality definitely makes up for quantity. From the second he sits down in front of Emily Mortimer’s Lizzie and orders his coffee ‘Americano, strong’ in his husky, Scottish brogue, we’re done for. The postcard-worthy charm of Scotland scenery, the soulful soundtrack and fabulous acting all around makes this one a flick that rewards you with each repeat viewing.

*Butler owns the screen and cast a spell on women the world over as the half-masked tormented hero, but Joel Schumacher’s direction of Phantom is far from perfect that keeps me this from being a classic movie. Though I’ve seen this flick more than a couple dozen times by now, I don’t know if I necessarily want to see it over and over in a short time span.
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5. Gladiator (narrowly edges out Ben Hur)
I told Andy earlier I’d include Ben Hur on my list, but despite being one of my all-time fave, I feel that if I only had that one and Gladiator, I’m more likely to reach for this Ridley Scott movie. In a way, the two compelling heroes share a similar fate of being condemned to die despite their innocence and face such insurmountable plight. They’re both redeemed at the end as well. Though it seems as if the main theme is vengeance (especially in this ‘My name is Maximus’ scene), by the end of the story, he’s fighting for Lucilla’s future… and ultimately for the people of Rome. Crowe’s performance alone is enough reason to keep re-watching this, but there are plenty of great acting all around, most notably Joaquin Phoenix as the ‘terribly vexed’ arch enemy Commodus. Add the gorgeous cinematography, lush costumes and the much-copied, stirring soundtrack, I’d say yeah, I’m definitely entertained! Oh, as I own the extended-edition dvd version, the special features section will definitely keep me busy for at least a whole week!

6. Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
Indy is the one franchise my whole family love. I remember watching Raiders of the Lost Ark with my brothers and we’d always find something to cheer about. The John Williams’ score alone is such a rousing piece that’s practically synonymous with great entertainment. I’m not crazy about the second and the latest installment, but this third one is a real gem. Harrison Ford as the sole hero is enticing enough, now add yet another highly charismatic actor in the mix and you’ve got one heck of a jovial ride you can’t wait to get on again as soon as it’s over. Ford and Sean Connery make for the most perfect father-son duo, and the witty and whimsical script and full-on action scenes keeps you on your toes and far from ever being bored. There are themes of friendship, family, faith, and loyalty that makes this such a satisfying movie-watching experience.
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7. BBC North & South
Ok, I must admit this choice is an indulgent one. But hey, you’re stranded on a remote island with nothing but eight movies to keep you entertained, do you blame me? Besides, I’m normally not a ‘beach-person’ anyway, so by the second day I’d be sick of the warm sunny skies and I’ll be dreaming of the cold, moody climate of Northern England (yes, call me crazy but I’m originally from a tropical country who moved to Minnesota, remember?). Oh, and of course having dreamy Richard Armitage as the Darcy-esque Mr. Thornton can’t hurt either. There are 4 parts of this 235-minute miniseries that center on the captivating slow-burn love story between Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale, but there’s more to it than just romance. In fact, I’m also drawn in by the history of the cotton mill business and their quandary, as well as the complex relationship between the mill owners and the workers. All that provides a compelling backdrop to what the hero and heroine must go through until the moment they finally ‘find’ each other. Oh, and what a moment it is! Just take a look at this train station scene (#16 on the list) and you’ll know why I had to include this movie!


8. Sense & Sensibility
Ahh, last but definitely NOT least. Anyone who knows me realize this one is a shoo-in. On any given Sunday afternoon when I’m not blogging, I almost always reach for this Ang Lee-directed Jane Austen period drama. Thanks to my cousin Rani who first introduced me to this more than a decade ago. I wasn’t instantly blown away by it, but it just kept growing on me each time I watch it — and the fact that I watch this A LOT makes me like it even more! I’m glad Emma Thompson won Best Screenplay for this, though I think her performance is equally noteworthy alongside Kate Winslet. This is one movie where I pretty much have to have the remote on hand in order to rewind some of my favorite scenes, and there are so many of them, especially those involving Col. Brandon, played with amazing subtlety and grace by the always-terrific Alan Rickman! The part when he first beheld Marianne and fell for her is heart-wrenching, and I shan’t ever forget the scene when Marianne murmurs the word ‘thank you’ after he escorts her mother for her. The expression on his face is priceless! I can go on and on about this movie, so maybe a full review is in order. But suffice to say, this is one dvd I simply can’t live without.


Ok, that’s it. I’m kinda glad it’s only eight as this post might’ve gone to a second page by now! To see what my fellow movie bloggers pick, check out Fandango’s blog. You might wonder that I picked my selections out of my Fave Scenes list. Believe me, it’s not intentional, but obviously the two are related. So if anything, I guess I’m pretty consistent in my choices :)

So what do you say, readers? Would you care to share what 8 dvds you would pick if you were stranded? Let’s hear it!