Back to the Future

With most movies I’ve seen, I have a fairly good memory of the first time I saw them, especially if they had an impact on me. I don’t remember the first time I saw Back to the Future too well though. I’m not sure whether it was a rental, or on TV. Either way, I enjoy the trilogy now just as much as I did back then, even if the ways I enjoy them have changed. Just a heads up, there will be a lot more behind the scenes details in this review than normal lately. There are so many fascinating stories behind this movie’s production that it’s worth a look.

Back to the Future was first conceived in 1980 by long-time collaborators and friends, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. After releasing their comedy, Used Cars, Gale visited his parents and looked at his father’s old yearbook. He wondered if he and his father would be friends, if they attended school together, and realized he could test that if he could travel back in time. When he shared that idea with Zemeckis, Zemeckis remembered his mother’s often contradictory childhood stories. That conversation quickly turned into the idea that became Back to the Future. They would end up co-writing the movie together, with Zemeckis directing.

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Western Movies Month 4 – Shanghai Noon

I didn’t plan on the first three Western Movie Month reviews to all be about relatively dark, serious movies, but that’s how it turned out. While “The Searchers”, “True Grit 2010” and “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” are all very good movies, the Western is capable of much more than their shared dark subject matter. Westerns can be just as fun as any other genre. That’s what I was planning for the final week of my Western Movie Month anyway, but now it feels even more important.

Also, this week’s subject isn’t a straight Western movie. It’s a hybrid Western/Martial Arts action comedy, starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson. There are also elements of a “buddy cop film”, in that it pairs two very different heroes together despite their reluctance. It’s also the first live-action Western I ever saw, or at least remember seeing. This is Shanghai Noon.

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Western movie month 3 – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

There are several great reasons to look at this particular Western movie for a Western theme month. One, Clint Eastwood. Two, it’s got the most iconic Western soundtrack of all-time. Three, and I didn’t know this ahead of time, but it’s actually a Spaghetti Western.

The simplest way to describe a Spaghetti Western is, it’s a Western with a mostly Italian crew. That said, many of these productions are international, and also involving Spain, France, Germany or Britain. They often still use at least a couple American cast and crew. Western movies tend to be very popular in Italy, and not just in North America, to the point where the Spaghetti Western is a straight up broad subgenre. There are often differences between traditional Westerns and Spaghetti Westerns. They generally vary in storytelling and tone from North American made Westerns, some of it due to cultural differences, but a lot of it is intentional. Sometimes they criticize, eschew, or even “demythologize” normal Western movie conventions. They’re also generally known for being low-budget, but for its time, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is anything but low-budget.

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Western Movies Month 2 – True Grit 2010

Although Western movies are often associated with the 50s and early 60s, there are quite a few modern Western movies as well. It’s only fair that I review at least one modern Western for this theme month. Enter True Grit, the 2010 adaptation of Charles Portis’s 1968 novel of the same name. This is the second on-screen adaptation of the novel, with 1969’s adaptation starring John Wayne. Although the earlier adaptation was well received, it’s generally considered that the newer version is the better one.

Directed by the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, True Grit mostly follows Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old farm girl who wants to pursue the man who murdered her father. She hires a U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn, while also interacting frequently Texas Ranger LaBoeuf. Although there are other characters throughout, these are the only major characters in the movie.

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Western Movies Month 1 – The Searchers

I’ve been meaning to do a Western Movie Month for several years now. Although I haven’t seen too many myself, I’ve always enjoyed a good western movie here and there. It at least used to be my dad’s favourite genre of both books and movies. Of course, if one is to do a Western Movie theme month, it would be utterly foolish to not talk about at least one John Wayne movie.

Enter The Searchers, a very successful movie released in 1956, which in 1989 was added to the Library of Congress as a historically significant film, among the first 25 movies ever given the honour. It’s also the first major film to get a “making-of” documentary, as requested by director John Ford. John Ford alone is worth talking about. He’s widely regarded as among the most important filmmakers of his generation, and was known for frequent use of location shooting and wide shots. He may have pioneered framing actors against vast, harsh, and rugged natural terrain.

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Adventures in Home Ownership – 2022

In the past, I’ve generally done these updates around my houseversary, but this year, it was better saved for after I finished my latest project, which I just finished yesterday. I completely redid my main bathroom.

Although the bulk of the work happened in late-October to mid-November, this was a year-long project, with little prep projects here and there between March and November, and also buying materials ahead of time. I didn’t remember to take a picture of every step involved in the project, but I do have pictures of most of the major steps. It’s worth mentioning that my father and I did pretty much all of the work ourselves, save for the flooring, which a friend of the family did with my father while I was at work. That same friend also gave me the flooring for free, as it was some of the spare flooring he had from his own projects. In case you’re reading this (I won’t say your name here), thanks again.

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Cheesy Christian Movies Month 4 – Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. Hope your weather is better than mine.

Ah, Kirk Cameron. To say the least, he’s an interesting guy. He’s a well-known Evangelical Christian celebrity, who is part of The Way of the Master ministry, along with co-founding The Firefly Foundation with his wife, Chelsea Noble. His sister, Candace Cameron Bure, is also known in the entertainment industry. All three of them made their start in the entertainment business on TV in the 80s. They all at least appeared on Full House, with Candace being a main cast member. Kirk was a major cast member in Growing Pains, where he first met Chelsea.

Kirk clearly has good intentions with his ministries, and is often involved in Christian movies beyond acting. I’m sure that he’s a nice guy, and would be nice to meet and talk to in real life. With all that said, he’s got a reputation as a nutcase in mainstream culture. He appears not to care too much about what mainstream critics think about his work, and every now and then, he appears in a clip that goes viral for the wrong reasons. The below clip is an example.

Yeah, never mind that the most common yellow banana was specifically selected and bred widely. We’ll get a bit more into Kirk Cameron and his wife next week with Left Behind, but for now, let’s talk about Saving Christmas.

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Cheesy Christian Movies Month 3 – Miracle Man

When I said last week that Miracle Man is pretty much the Christian movie equivalent of Birdemic, I didn’t realize at the time how that was an understatement. At least Birdemic had original music. It was lame music, but it was original. At least in Birdemic, you could see what was happening at all times. At least Birdemic didn’t rely on crazy colour filters for their special effects, and they managed to use gif images. Also, at least with Birdemic, it did get a proper release, even if a small one.

Miracle Man is an interesting idea in theory. The premise is, what if Jesus arrived in modern times instead of 2000 years ago? Apart from that, there’s nothing interesting about this movie from a storytelling standpoint. Yet at the same time, it’s fascinating because of how poorly made it is on every level.

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Cheesy Christian Movies Month 2 – Newsboys: Under the Big Top

Unlike most Christian movies, this one doesn’t really have a central message. It’s mostly a silly comedy, created by the Australian Christian pop rock band, Newsboys. There’s very little information about the making of this movie online. In fact, like last week’s Second Glance, there isn’t even a dedicated Wikipedia page. I couldn’t even find an image of the cover that I could easily paste in this blog, so here’s an album cover instead. Speaking as someone who kind of grew up on this band, I know a few interesting BTS details anyway.

Down Under the Big Top released around the same time as their 1996 album, Take Me To Your Leader, which also happened to be at the height of the band’s popularity. It’s also the last major project that their original lead singer, John James, would be involved with before he quit the band. While at the time he announced that he wanted to become a pastor, 10 years later he publically admitted it was because he actually developed a serious drugs and alcohol addiction, nearly destroying his marriage. It’s nice to know that he’s since overcome these addictions.

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Cheesy Christian Movies Month 1 – Second Glance

While I am a Christian, I generally try to avoid talking about religion on a blog about entertainment. For this month though, I’m making an exception to the rule. I’ll be celebrating Christmas this year by making fun of some cheesy, yet mostly optimistic Christian movies. Let’s kick this off with Second Glance, a 1992 straight to video movie by the Christiano Film Group.

I couldn’t find much about this movie online. In fact, it doesn’t even have a dedicated Wikipedia page, and searching for it redirects you to the movie’s director, Rich Christiano. He and his twin brother Dave co-own the Christiano Film Group, which has been making Christian movies since 1986. Yet this movie became a bit of a meme with its freeze-frame ending right here.

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