Thursday, May 21, 2009

#95: Schindler's List

I'm going to keep this short and sweet because I'm way behind on 1997 movies here. If you're like I was and you've never seen Schindler's List before, stop what you're doing now and add it to your Netflix queue. There's a reason it's on everyone's "Top 10 Movies of All-Time" list.

The acting is superb throughout, but then what do you expect when you put Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley together in the same film? It manages to be emotionally affecting without dipping into Spielberg's usual bag of tricks to manipulate the viewer. Thankfully, he understands that you don't need to add any pathos to the Holocaust to make it a truly horrible thing. When he chooses to play things straight like this, he really can be a brilliant filmmaker.

The movie actually came out in 1994, so you might be wondering what it's doing as part of this project. When it made it's much ballyhooed TV premiere in 1997 it was as a "Director's Cut", so that's what I watched here. From reading on the Internets, there doesn't look to actually be anything different in the Director's Cut other than an extended closing credits sequence in which cast members and Schindler survivors place stones on Schindler's grave in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, I'm glad I continue to make exceptions like this. If I didn't, I probably still wouldn't have seen this remarkable piece of work.

Coming up hopefully soon as I've already watched them:
#96: Marvin's Room
#97: Strays (written and directed by Vin Diesel? It's true)
#98: Enchanted Tales: Hercules

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Return of Chuck

My TV watching has been cut down pretty dramatically of late, but one of the shows that I continue to enjoy week in and week out is Chuck. This season ended on a Matrix-esque cliffhanger (spoilers), but because of NBC's budget-cutting and insistence on trotting Jay Leno out there at an earlier time slot no one knew if it would be coming back next year.

Until now. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Deja Vu All Over Again

Meaghan and I have been talking recently about where to go on vacation this summer. We knew it had to be shorter and less expensive than last year's magnificent two week binge in Disney World. We are looking at buying a house in July or August after all. A camping trip somewhere, maybe? That would be pretty cheap and fun. We could go up north and hit Itasca. Hike to see the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi. Perhaps we'd wander to the west and see the sights of South Dakota: the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug. On Sunday, our choice became clear. Our trip this year would be to Walt Disney World in Florida.

Wha? Huh? But you...

This is apparently what you get when you don't return phone calls. Last Monday evening we got a message on our answering machine from Meaghan's mom. Her annual Summer trip to see her family back in NJ and PA had apparently fallen through and she was looking for somewhere else to go. Perhaps they would come visit us for a few days instead, she said. If only that were the case. Meaghan had late lacrosse practice all last week, meaning that she didn't get home until 8:30 or so every night. From Thursday evening on, my parents were in town for the weekend. There was no chance to call her back until Mother's Day.

In the five days that had passed, Meaghan's parents had decided that they weren't coming to visit, but were instead going to Disney in June and had already booked flights and a hotel. They also wanted to know if we wanted to come along. I guess they saw that we had such a good time with my parents there last year and wanted to recreate the magic. In the process, they seem to have missed the point that this was just last year. We like the Mouse and all, but we've never wanted to be the type of people who go to the same vacation spots year in and year out. So why are we going?

Meaghan's grandparents live in Florida, and we pretty much only get to see them at weddings. This trip includes spending a weekend with them. And although they seem indestructible, those of us who have been through it know how quickly people can disappear. We also don't see Meaghan's parents all that often, least of all when they're happy. And there's nothing like themed rides, shows, and games to bring out the happy in everyone. Consider it $1000 well spent on improving everyone's mental wellness... I hope.

It wasn't my first choice of vacations, or really in my top ten for this year, but it'll be fun. If it floats your boat at all, you can't go to Disney and not have fun. What more could you ask for?