My Marlin Moment

One of my sons recently taught me an important lesson. This is the same son who took many years to tell me that he loves me. During his bedtime routine, he was running around an office chair as he flossed his teeth. I noticed a book on the floor in his path, so I pointed it out to him and asked that he move it so he wouldn’t step on it. To my surprise, his face suddenly soured, and he started huffing at me in anger. That’s his usual precursor to a big tantrum. Sure enough, he soon lashed out, throwing the book across the room in fury and crying loudly with the occasional scream of rage. I had no idea what had set him off. I had simply asked him in a neutral tone to move a book. Continue reading

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The Mechanic’s Ending Blows Away the Rest of the Film

When I was starting to get interested in films as a teenager, my mom stoked the flames by introducing me to a number of great ones like Lifeboat and an edited version of Witness. And then she told me about a 1972 film called The Mechanic. It has a fantastic ending, I was told. It was rated PG, so I didn’t think there would be anything too risqué about it. Little did I know that this is one movie that has an ending so good that it actually blows away everything else that happens in it. Continue reading

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How My Mom Taught Me Not to Fear Scary Movies

Halloween season is upon us, so in that spirit I would like to share an experience from my childhood involving scary movies. I was forbidden from watching most scary movies for many years, but my parents were wise enough to know that I would eventually find my way to them and so they needed to prepare me for them. It’s the same reason why we inoculate kids against diseases. I was certainly frightened when I first saw Mr. Boogedy, Poltergeist (1982), and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but thankfully I had the tools I needed to deal with their horrifying aspects because of something simple my mom said to me. Continue reading

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Can You Imagine Seeing a TV Episode Like This Today?

What would you do if you had to choose how you were going to be killed? Imagine living in a nightmarish dystopia in which logic is an enemy and truth is a menace. You’re not being sentenced to death because you’re trying to subvert the authoritarian State you’re living under or even to question its validity. You’re being sentenced to death simply because you hold the wrong thoughts in your head. That makes you a threat.

Would you choose to go quietly, beg and plead for your life, cower in fear, or try to make some sort of heroic last stand? We get to see all of those options play out when a seemingly insignificant librarian named Romney Wordsworth is called upon to choose how he will die in my favorite episode of The Twilight Zone, “The Obsolete Man.” The episode features no action sequences, moments of levity, or anything else that would, at least on the surface, draw the audience in. Instead, it relies on compelling dialogue between two characters who couldn’t be more dissimilar, and complex ideas explored in a subtle and ingenious manner. It came out at the end of the show’s second season on June 2, 1961. Fifty-eight years later, it is just as compelling as ever, and I can’t imagine it getting made today.

You see, Wordsworth is a librarian in a State that has banned books. He is a Christian in a State that denies the existence of God. And he is a free thinker in a State that demands conformity. Therefore, he must die. Those in power can’t logically refute any of his arguments, so they must kill him to silence his hate speech. Continue reading

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James Cameron’s Many Imitators

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then James Cameron must be one of the most beloved directors in Hollywood. Every one of his films has been aped at least once, sometimes before they even came out. Here are some of the most blatant ripoffs. Continue reading

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10 Creative Uses of Pens in Movies

A pen is just a writing utensil, right? Not when it’s in the hands of creative filmmakers. Pens can become a variety of weapons, tools, and comedic punchlines. Here are 10 creative uses of pens in movies. Continue reading

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Can Mission: Impossible Survive Without Tom Cruise?

I’m old enough to remember a time when the idea of Mission: Impossible being a Tom Cruise action vehicle was as outlandish as James Cameron directing a courtroom drama. Such a thing just seemed to be outside the realm of the possible. Hm. Maybe that was the point. It seemed like an impossible mission to transform Tom Cruise from a dramatic actor into an action star, but that 1996 movie (and its sequels) sure pulled it off.

Now I have to ask: can Mission: Impossible survive without Tom Cruise? Continue reading

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