Pops’ Movie Club

Hobbies, Creative Pursuits and Worthwhile Causes: First Installment. (For some background, read the previous post, Exploring The Deeper Places.)

So the exploration has begun. The quest: to identify pursuits for us Men-Of-A-Certain-Age; things other than watching the 24-hour news channels and becoming even grumpier old men.

Let me go ahead and offer a few disclaimers: I admit some personal bias here. The first ideas that come to mind for me are those things I find interesting, so canning jelly and jam won’t be on the list unless you love it and want to write a guest post about, which would be awesome. Nothing against jelly, but canning it is not compelling for me.

Of course we need to keep our pursuits within the law, relatively speaking. Since About Pops doesn’t dwell in Colorado, marijuana-growing won’t be on the list. Also we need to have some limits set by reasonablenss and good judgement. So hang-gliding, cliff-diving, self-tattooing, and fire-eating probably won’t be on the list. And while it sounds so manly to include hobbies like cigar smoking or chicked-fried-steak eating, if my cardiologist found out I was experimenting in these realms, he would have a heart attack.

You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies - all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies. —Steve Martin

Pursuit #1: Start/Join A Movie Club

This idea is compelling and daunting for me. While I love movies and would welcome the opportunity to watch and discuss with a few close friends, I’m way too introverted to actually join a club. So maybe from time to time I could post a movie suggestion, or you could send me some ideas. Then could watch them individually in the privacy of our own homes.

Everybody has something that chews them up and, for me, that thing was always loneliness. The cinema has the power to make you not feel lonely, even when you are. —Tom Hanks

Selecting a movie or movies seems to be very important, but tricky. Tastes in movies varies wildly, and judgements are made. For example if I suggested our club start with the movies of Nora Ephron, you might suggest that what I need is a cigar and a chicken-fried-steak, or you might assume I had been smoking the favorite crop of Coloradians.

So how about the movies of John Hughes (the good ones)? Or Wes Anderson? Or Woody Allen. I know, let’s compromise and go with Alfred Hitchcock. We’ll start with Rear Window.

A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it. —Alfred Hitchcock

Maybe we could leave the movies up to a film expert like Robert Osborne. You know, the guy that picks the films for “The Esstentials” on TCM.

Read this from the TCM website:
“Watch the Essentials every Saturday at 7PM CT. Since its inception on TCM in 2001, The Essentials has become the ultimate series for movie lovers to expand their knowledge of must-see cinema and revisit landmark films that have had a lasting impact on audiences everywhere.  Each season a co-host joins Robert Osborne for a special introduction and post-movie discussion about the enduring qualities of a particular film.”

If tonight’s selection is any indication, I feel like we can trust Robert. So let’s start tonight:

1955 118 Mins TV- PG Drama

It’s a great film and released just as us Baby Boomers were toddling around the house. Here’s a description from the website:

James Dean starred in three films before his tragic death in an automobile accident on September 30, 1955 and the first of these, East of Eden (1955), was the only one released during his short lifetime. An adaptation of the 1952 novel by John Steinbeck, East of Eden was director Elia Kazan’s follow-up to On the Waterfront (1954) and marked his first use of both Technicolor and Cinemascope. The technological upgrade worked wonders for the story’s verdant Salinas Valley setting, where brothers Cal (Dean) and Aron (Richard Davalos) Trask compete for the affections of their taciturn farmer father (Raymond Massey) and the love of a local girl (Julie Harris) in the last innocent months before the start of the First World War. Adapted by playwright turned screenwriter Paul Osborn, East of Eden took as its inspiration the Biblical tale of Cain and Abel, a take torqued even further by Dean’s unorthodox performance (which made him a teen sensation and the industry’s hottest commodity). Dean plumbed deep within his psyche to play the troubled Cal Trask and his unconventional approach to his craft frustrated and angered costar Massey, resulting in a palpable onscreen tension that helped define the fractured relationship of their characters. Toploaded with talent, East of Eden scored its only Academy Award for sixth-billed Jo Van Fleet, in the small but unforgettable role of Cal Trask’s wayward mother. Dean skipped out on the film’s March 1955 New York City premiere and his subsequent Oscar nomination for Best Performance in a Leading Role was bestowed posthumously, an Academy first.

Start the popcorn, dim the lights…