Saturday, September 9, 2017

But I Digress... Inspirational Interlude

By Cat

First Harvey, now Irma. These destructive weather patterns seem to have a homing beacon to put my family and friends right in their crosshairs. Nerve-wracking is the understatement of the century. I know that I’m not alone and my plight of simply being hundreds and hundreds of miles away from being able to help is not unique. Both of us here at Trust the Dice have loved ones in Florida right now as this terror of a hurricane is working its way in that direction.

I don’t mention this to dwell on the fact or further sensationalize it – nor is it passing any sort of judgement on those that are not joining the clogged interstates in a bid to flee. None of that.

What I want to focus on today is giving you a second part in what seems to be becoming a series focusing on hope and inspiration. Last week was hope – this week is the latter.  (Though, I suppose my title gave that away!)

We all need some positive vibes right now. We cannot let ourselves get flushed in the vortex of the cloud-spin. (This is what I have to repeat to myself so that I don’t keep the Weather Channel on the TV 24/7.) With that in mind, I bring you 5 movies to inspire you (and hopefully not tread on your feels too much in the process).

5) *batteries not included (1987)

Viewing Options: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, Youtube Movies (purchase)
Director: Matthew Robbins
Actors: Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Frank McRae, Elizabeth Peña, Michael Carmine, Dennis Boutsikaris, Tom Aldredge, Jane Hoffman
Genre: Fantasy, Family, Science fiction, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 106 Minutes
More Information Here. 

IMDb Blurb: Apartment block tenants seek the aid of alien mechanical life-forms to save their building from demolition.

This has to be one of my favorite movies of all time. It runs you through a gauntlet of the full spectrum of human emotion (unless you’re an unfeeling rock – seriously). There’s comedy, romance, sci-fi, feats of the fantastical, tragedy, drama, action – you name it! I will admit that I had tears in a few places, but those little mechanical aliens are just so darn cute!

This movie was powerful enough to make an impact that resonated all the way into Saturday morning cartoons, where the Muppet Babies (1984-1991) used a diner scene from the movie in one of the imaginative adventures of the muppet toddlers.

This story was originally set to become a part of Amazing Stories (1985-1987), which was a TV series developed by Steven Spielberg. He thought it was so fantastic that he pushed to turn it into its own feature film, where he continued to support the film as one of its Executive Producers. Pair his genius with the movie score by the late James Horner (1953–2015) and you have movie gold.

How does it fit in with this theme? Simple. Hope, faith, The Golden Rule, and perseverance. The residents of the apartment block don’t really have any other choice (or desire) to relocate in the face of big business wanting to bulldoze it for “progress.” They stand their ground in the face of impossible odds and their hope is rewarded with assistance from the most unlikely of places –outer space. It’s not all that one-sided, though. It’s because of their own basic human decency and treating the little adorable flying saucer people well (we won’t count the hamburger incident) that the little guys are able to lend a hand as a thank-you.

4) Peaceful Warrior (2006)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, YouTube Movies (purchase)
Director: Victor Salva
Actors: Nick Nolte, Scott Mechlowicz, Amy Smart, Tim DeKay, Paul Wesley, Ashton Holmes, Agnes Bruckner, B.J. Britt
Genre: Drama, Sports
Rated: PG-13
Length: 121 Minutes
More Information Here. 

IMDb Blurb: A chance encounter with a stranger changes the life of a college gymnast. 

This is the one movie on today’s list that I haven’t already seen. I actually stumbled across it recently out of curiosity when I saw the lead actor was in it. After looking into it a bit, watching the trailers, and reading some reviews; I am confident in listing this here.

It very well might fit the recipe of most sport movies – and even those based on true stories, as this one is. That’s not the point, though.

I think we all need reminders every once in a while that life sucks sometimes and we can’t change things that have already happened to us. What we can do is find the strength and courage to pick ourselves up and put things together again, even if things can’t be the same as they were before. We can still strive to exceed expectations – but not just that of others, but our own.

Everyone in the path of any of the horrible storms that have plagued our coastlines, and even those caught in the devastation of fires raging elsewhere in the country, or even the major earthquake in Mexico – everyone – will have a rebuilding and healing process in the coming months and years.

The more positivity and inspiration out there in the world right now, the better; I say.

3) The Spitfire Grill (1996)

Viewing Options: Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu,
Director: Lee David Zlotoff
Actors: Alison Elliott, Ellen Burstyn, Marcia Gay Harden, Will Patton, Kieran Mulroney, Gailard Sartain, Louise De Cormier, John M. Jackson
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 116 Minutes
More Information Here. 

IMDb Blurb: Percy, upon being released from prison, goes to the small town of Gillead, to find a place where she can start over again. She is taken in by Hannah, to help out at her place, the Spitfire Grill. Percy brings change to the small town, stirring resentment and fear in some, and growth in others.

It has been a very long time since I’ve seen this film, but I remember it fondly. It was one of the movies that came to mind as I was trying to think of those that fit the themes of rebuilding your life, starting over, and a sense of community.

It’s not all sunshine and roses on the community front – but that’s how everywhere is. There are some people that are yapping about the disasters everywhere being some sort of cosmic or theological punishment and all sorts of crazy talk. Sadly, it’s part of the human condition for some people to be susceptible to believing such things.

What counts is how the members of the community that DO rally around the main character interact and how they protect her quest for a second chance and new beginnings.

2) The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (1995) 

Viewing Options: Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, YouTube Movies (purchase)
Director: Christopher Monger
Actors: Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, Colm Meaney, Ian McNeice, Ian Hart, Kenneth Griffith, Tudor Vaughn, Hugh Vaughn
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 99 Minutes
More Information Here. 

IMDb Blurb: When an English cartographer must tell a Welsh village that their mountain is only a hill, the offended community sets out to change that. 

I had to throw some levity in here. There are comedic elements in other movies listed here, but they’re mostly stacked on the heavier side of things. This film is a fun romp where an entire Welsh community comes together to do something about what should have been otherwise impossible to change.

There are some crazy shenanigans hatched as the village strives to build their mountain out of a hill.

The key thing here is community working together to better their village – regardless of their individual motivations. It’s funny, it has heart, and a great underlying message.

1) Pay It Forward (2000)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, YouTube Movies (purchase)
Director: Mimi Leder
Actors: Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, Jay Mohr, Jim Caviezel, Jon Bon Jovi, Angie Dickinson, David Ramsey
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 122 Minutes
More Information Here. 

IMDb Blurb: A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance.

OK. I was really on the fence about listing this movie, and, in my decision to do so, I felt it was necessary to ‘go big or go home’ by listing it as the #1 entry.

Here’s why. I hate the ending. I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever talked to that has seen this movie that has ever liked the ending. Hated it. It’s an unnecessary punch to the most sensitive of feels.

This is my disclaimer. I already warned you before about spoilers – but this is different. If you watch this, prepare for your soul to feel trampled on.

Even with my dire warning, and the inevitability of the scenes that immediately precede the credits, this is an absolutely outstanding movie. The concept of turning good deeds into the best pyramid scheme on the planet is phenomenal. It’s a concept more people should embrace. Be kind to one another. Treat other human beings with respect regardless of your differences. Help those in need if you are able – and it will spread outward in ripples that will make the world better.

After all the disasters and devastation, this is the sort of message and vibe I want to put out into the world. It’s the sort of impetus that had strangers hauling boats into flooded areas to help evacuate people from harm’s way. 

Tell someone you care about that you love them today.  The first ripples are small, after all.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's Cat's celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

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