Favorite Films – The 2010’s

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As I looked back over the last year’s worth of blogs, I was reminded that I had yet to finish a series I started on my favorite films. The premise of the series is to pick a favorite movie (that you have seen) for every year of your life. This series started with 1970 (the year of my birth) and was broken up by decade. I concluded in November with the years 2000-2009. It’s time to finish up this series….

2010

2010

In 2010, my oldest son would have been 8, and my youngest son was 3. Many of the movies I watched were kid movies. Some of them were good enough to rank as my favorite films.

Among the kid films I watched in 2010 were Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, How to Train Your Dragon, and Toy Story 3. I guess Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 could almost be classified as a kid’s movie, but I know how much adults loved the series, too. As someone who loves time travel movies, I was left a bit disappointed with Hot Tub Time Machine. Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey probably should have been a whole lot funnier, but it wasn’t. Iron Man 2 was a decent sequel. Grown Ups had potential, but was kind of a flop. The King’s Speech was a very good film. I enjoyed it a lot, but the film that stands out as my favorite is Shrek Forever After.

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My kids loved the Shrek movies. I did too. Shrek the Third was really the worst of the series. I really hoped that this final film in the series would be good – and it was! The idea of an altered universe was such a great story line. It was fun to see Fiona as this great warrior and Puss In Boots as a chubby cat. It was a fitting wrap up to a fun series. I am hoping that my daughter will want to watch them with me!

2011

2011

2011 brought me to many more kid movies, including Rango, Rio, Kung Fu Panda II, Cars 2, and the terrible revival of The Muppets. The Harry Potter series wrapped with Part 2 of the Deathly Hallows. Crazy, Stupid Love was more serious than I thought, but wasn’t a bad film. I enjoyed Limitless with Bradley Cooper a lot. Sequels included Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Hangover II, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (which was ok), and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (which I really enjoyed. I thought Robert Downey Jr. was good in these, despite the hate many reviews had for him). Cowboys and Aliens was a waste of time. Horrible Bosses was just ok. Bridesmaids was played up as this huge comedy, and while there were some funny parts, I really think this was more of a drama. I didn’t think it was as good as all the hype. My favorite film of 2011 was Puss In Boots.

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It was neat to see the origins of this character. I am glad he got his own movie. Antonio Banderas is just perfect as the voice of this character! Just like in the Shrek movies, we also see some of the fairy tale characters. Who knew Humpty Dumpty was such a bad guy!? Loved this film!

2012

2012

2012 brought us The Avengers, The Hunger Games, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The kids and I watched Brave (which was a very good film) and Hotel Transylvania. As a fan of the Three Stooges, I was apprehensive about seeing the 2012 movie. It was not great, but kudos to Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulos, who all did great as Larry, Curly, and Moe. Seven Psychopaths was actually a very good movie – Christopher Walken is excellent in it! Anthony Hopkins is very good as Alfred Hitchcock in the biography Hitchcock, but it was another biographical film that gets my vote for favorite – Lincoln.

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I know many folks found this film long and boring, but I found it fascinating! I remember the first picture of Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln – wow! It was amazing! They really made him look like him. I read often about Lincoln’s Assassination (and JFK’s, too). His story is so intriguing to me. The supporting cast was just as good.

2013

2013

2013 had me at the movies with my kids for The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, Turbo, and Frozen. Sequels included The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and A Good Day to Die Hard. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was less than incredible. We’re The Millers was quite a disappointment. Identity Thief was not as funny as everyone said it was. Simon Pegg was in two films I saw in 2013 – The World’s End and Star Trek: Into Darkness. I enjoyed Gangster Squad, but my favorite film was the biography of Jackie Robinson – 42.

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Robinson is played by Chadwick Boseman, who would go on to play James Brown in 2014. As we look back, we know how amazing a player Robinson was, but this film really shows just how difficult it was for him. I really liked this film. Harrison Ford is also good in this movie.

2014

Year-2014

More kid films in 2014 – I watched Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Maleficent, Penguins of Madagascar, and The Lego Movie. I really liked the Lego movie. I found myself laughing out loud a lot. A Million Ways to Die in the West was just ok – Liam Neeson was a good bad guy in it. The Doc Brown cameo is a highlight. The Hobbit trilogy wrapped up with The Battle of the Five Armies. Guardians of the Galaxy was actually better than I thought it would be. Chadwick Boseman nails James Brown in Get On Up! He was perfect! A movie which surprised me was Kingsmen: The Secret Service. I don’t know what I expected it to be, but it was very good. However, for my favorite film, I will pick an oddball comedy – What We Do In The Shadows.

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In the documentary style of TV’s The Office, the movie follows some vampire roommates around as the live their lives as vampires in modern times. I really laughed out loud at the wackiness of this movie. It was so good, they have a TV series based on the film.

2015

2015

Kids movies I watched included Minions (a sort of Despicable Me sequel), Goosebumps, and the Peanuts Movie. A kid movie which was so good it almost made my favorite – the Shaun the Sheep Movie. My kids would watch these cartoons on TV and I found myself laughing as hard as they did at them. I bought them all the DVD’s and we’d watch them together. This full length movie was very well done and is one to take the kids to! Great movie!! Mr. Holmes was a very good film which focuses on the aging Sherlock Holmes (played by Ian McKellen). Jurassic World was yet another sequel to the dinosaur series Jurassic Park. Tom Cruise returns in another IMF movie – mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. My pick for favorite – Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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The saga continues! It was so good to see Harrison Ford back as Han Solo with Carrie Fisher returning as Leia. There were old favorites and new characters to further the story and we learn all about Han and Leia’s son gone bad. It was better than I anticipated, and at times the action was hard to keep up with, but as a Star Wars fan, it was satisfying.

2016

2016

Kid films from this year that I saw included The Angry Birds Movie (which was not very good), Sing (which was full of some great music), Trolls (which I fell asleep watching), Moana (which was good), and Finding Dory (which was better than I thought it would be). Deadpool was pretty funny – but inappropriate to watch with the kids. Star Trek Beyond was a worthy sequel. The favorite pick, though, takes us back to the galaxy far, far away – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

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What makes this such a great film is the fact that it links up the prequel trilogy to the original trilogy. You see these unknown characters in a battle to get the Death Star plans to Princess Leia. It was really an amazing film. Some people had issues with the CGI characters, but I didn’t. I thought it was awesome!

2017

2017

2017 was a year of sequels – Star Wars had The Last Jedi, Guardians of the Galaxy got a second installment, The Kingsmen had The Golden Circle, and Blade Runner took us to 2049. I sat through The Greatest Showman – a musical which was ok, but nothing I would have picked to see by myself. I’ll go back to kids movies for my pick for favorite – The Lego Batman Movie.

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Admittedly my favorite character from the 2014 Lego Movie, I was glad to see Batman get his own film. Will Arnett is great as the voice of Batman. I liked this one a lot – and I hope it gets a sequel!

2018

2018

As the decade gets closer to wrapping up, I noticed more movies that I wanted to see and didn’t. In 2018, I wanted to see Stan and Ollie and Solo: A Star Wars Story and never saw either. I guess I need to get to the video store. Movies I did see were Deapool 2, The Hate U Give (a very good film based on the book), and Won’t You Be My Neighbor (A fantastic documentary on Mr. Rogers). Bohemian Rhapsody was just amazing! The comparison between the real Live Aid footage and the film footage was so amazing to watch. It was a very good film, and almost my pick. I had to go with The Incredibles 2 as my choice.

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I waited SO long for this sequel. I hoped that it wouldn’t suck and it didn’t. I was glad that it picked up where the first one ended. It focused a bit more on Mrs. Incredible, which was ok because that led to some very funny moments with Mr. Incredible at home with the kids. This could easily be a franchise – it should get more sequels in my opinion.

2019

2019

How sad is it that I only saw one film last year!? Really! ONE movie!!! There were plenty of remakes (all of which I didn’t want to see – Dumbo, Pet Semetary, Aladdin, Lion King)! Sequels I didn’t see – The Lego Movie 2, Toy Story 4, and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. I never saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Addams Family, Midway, The Joker, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Knives Out, or 1917. One movie I am anxious to see is The Irishman. I read the book and just need three hours to watch it! So what movie did I actually see? Urgh – I am embarrassed to even share it. I wouldn’t call it a favorite. It was ok. It was better than I thought. My kids had to explain half of it to me. But, since it is the only film I saw last year – it has to be the pick, right?? At least until I watch some of the others from 2019…..

The film I saw in 2019 – Pokémon Detective Pikachu.

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See the look on his face? That’s how I feel about only seeing THAT movie!! URGH!

I really need to watch others so I can alter this …

Final Thoughts

Despite the way the decade ended … I had fun looking back through all of the various movies I watched over my lifetime. It helped me realize many movies I have always wanted to see and jot them down. It also served as a reminder of all the bad films I have seen – LOL!

I hope you enjoyed this series of blogs. you may now make fun of me about that last one!

Cheers!

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“Cleveland Rocks!”

For our anniversary, my wife and I wanted to plan a little getaway to celebrate.  Neither one of us had too much PTO in our “banks” at work, so we decided on a weekend trip.  During the planning the destinations changed frequently.  Originally, we had hoped to head back for another trip to Florida, but due to the lack of time available, we decided on something a bit closer to home.

There was talk of going to Nashville and maybe catching a show at the Grand Ole Opry.  Then there was talk of Gatlinburg, where my mom so often talked about.  I think we even chatted about Pennsylvania, too.  Eventually, we decided that Chicago was where we wanted to go, but then realized that it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and we figured it might be just a tad crazy (although seeing the river turned green would have been cool.

Cleveland??

To be honest, I am not even sure how we decided on Cleveland, Ohio.  I had mentioned that my dad had gone to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and said it was cool.  I started to look at things in Cincinnati.  There was a lot to do there, but why wasn’t the Hall of Fame coming up in any of my searches?  I knew that Cincy was close to Louisville, KY and thought that we could maybe do something there, too.  I had gone as far as to drop a radio buddy a note to say we were gonna be down there and asked for good restaurants to eat at … only to then realize the Hall of Fame was in Cleveland!

Now that we had cleared that up, we were set for Cleveland.  Now, I will be the first to admit “Cleveland,Ohio” as the answer to “Where did you and your wife spend your first wedding anniversary?” is not at all romantic.  Many people laughed when I told them.  Here is the thing about my wife and I, the destination really didn’t matter – it was simply the fact that we were going to be together.  To me, this is just one of the reasons I love her.  We can be content with just having time with each other, no matter where we are, or what we are doing.

We have made it a tradition to go to restaurants that local wherever we go.  If we can go there at home, we’ll go there at home!  By doing this, we have really been treated to some amazing food.  We always try to find a good steak house or something very unique to the city we are in and we have yet to be disappointed.

The Hall of Fame

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Personally, I think Sam loves watching me get excited about stuff like this.  We both love museums, but I must have been like a little kid on his birthday during this trip!  I had, of course, seen pictures of the Hall of Fame, but it was something else to be standing in front of it.  The big red block letters that sit upon the sidewalk read “LONG LIVE ROCK”.  As I walked up the steps, there are phoney concert speakers erected by the hand rails. The excitement builds as you walk in.

As you enter, you walk into a huge foyer/lobby.  The gift shop is to your right, to the left a cafe/coffee shop, and in front of you there is an escalator to take you down to purchase tickets.  After buying our tickets, you get ready to enter and above the doors the perfect AC/DC quote to welcome you: “For those about to rock …”

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Walking into the main exhibition hall, the first thing I noticed were pictures of John Lennon and Ray Charles on the wall.  The first thing I am drawn to is a glass case containing Bill Haley’s guitar.  Bill is often credited as being the singer of the first “rock and roll” song – Rock Around the Clock.  There is a picture of him playing it in the case as well.  I am not sure why I was so taken in by it, but I was.

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The next thing we saw was a line of bass guitars that belong to Geddy Lee of Rush.  I didn’t count , but there had to be like a dozen of them.  The information said that this was only part of his massive collection.

The Roots

One thing I was thrilled to see here was the fact that the “roots” of Rock and Roll were well represented.  Rock really evolved from a combination of Gospel, R&B, Bluegrass, Country, Folk, and Blues music. Each of those genres was represented here.  Among my favorite things I saw:  a suite belonging to Hank Williams Sr.; Louis Jordan’s music folder with his music and cue sheets; stuff from Muddy Waters, BB King, and Mahalia Jackson; Ray Charles sunglasses; Carl Perkins Guitar; salutes to Johnny Otis, Big Joe Turner, and Sam Cooke and so much more.   The roots of rock were so well represented.  Without these people and the genres of music, there would be no rock and roll.

Elvis

There is a pretty cool section devoted to Elvis, who was one of the first 10 artists inducted into the Hall of Fame.  The Hall has a standing agreement with Graceland in Memphis (which is a museum in itself) and they send memorabilia to them often, so the exhibit changes often.  There was a very cool motorcycle that was custom-built for Elvis.  His gold sequins suit is there, and a jukebox which was given to him as a gift from RCA Records – it contains only Elvis records.  Also on display was a double Gibson guitar which he played in his film Spinout.

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The Summer of Love

With the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love”, there were some very cool things here.  I saw groovy outfits from the Mama’s and the Papa’s, clothing from Jimi Hendrix, and the HUGE mixing board that was used to record some of Jimi’s music.

On thing I really liked to see was the various things that song lyrics were written on.  There were quite a few original pieces of paper where the beginnings of songs were scribbled.  There were also plenty of hotel pads of paper with lyrics on them.  Loved seeing where changes were made to lyrics.

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Cities and Sounds

I loved that there was a section of the hall that saluted cities and sounds.  There was a section devoted to Memphis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and Liverpool, Seattle, and of course, Detroit.

In the Memphis section, there were plenty of neat things from Sun Records.  Johnny Cash, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison all recorded there.  To stand in front of Roy Orbison’s glasses and guitar was pretty awesome.  My earliest musical memories are of my dad playing Roy’s music for me.

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A nice tribute to Motown is here with stuff from Barry Gordy, The Supremes (you can see some of their dresses), Smokey Robinson, and the Temptations are all here.  They were playing the episode of To Tell The Truth with Barry Gordy as we walked through this section.

The Beatles and the Rolling Stones each have a nice section at the Hall.  I thought Mick Jagger of the Stones was taller, but standing by some of his outfits, he’s shorter than I thought.  There is the Asher family piano that Paul McCartney donated, some of John Lennon’s outfits, and the handwritten lyrics to “In My Life”.  A very cool documentary was playing in their section as well.

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I jumped ahead a bit because the next section was London and Liverpool.  There were some very neat things from the Yardbirds, Peter and Gordon, Herman’s Hermits and the Zombies too.  All in all a nice salute to the British Invasion.

San Fran featured stuff from The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, while LA featured stuff from The Eagles, Jackson Brown, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.  One cool thing here was a duffle bag full of hotel keys.  I don’t recall, but I think it said it belonged to one of the Eagles.  They basically kept the hotel key (and keychain) from every place they stayed while on tour.  The bag was stuffed full of some very cool looking keychains!

This section also had tributes to grunge music, punk music and a section called “Rave On” which focused on the “pioneers” of rock.  Those pioneers included Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly.  Soul Music was also spotlighted here with some awesome suits from James Brown, stuff from Aretha Franklin, pieces of the wreckage from Otis Redding’s plane crash, and Sam and Dave.  Featured in the soul section were two amazing things – guitars from Donald “Duck” Dunn and Steve “The Colonel” Cropper.  They played on almost every Atlantic and Stax record.  They were members of Booker T and the MG’s, and also played with the Blues Brothers.  Very cool to see!!!

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Don’t worry metal heads, there was a section for Heavy Metal too. Oh, and a section for Rap, as well.

Protests

When Rock and Roll started to make waves, it wasn’t too popular with folks.  We tend to forget the hatred toward the genre, but they had plenty of newscasts about burning records, and protests that happened.  It was weird to watch the hatred toward the Beatles and read hate mail to the Rolling Stones.  Other artists that were discussed in this section were Frank Zappa and ELO.

On the Radio

As a radio guy, it was cool to be able to walk up to an interactive touch screen and select a region of the US and then listen to old airchecks of DJ’s from different eras.  Naturally, I had to listen to some of the Detroit personalities:  Dick Purtain, Robin Seymour, and The Electrifying Mojo!  There were plenty of familiar names from all over the states and it was nice to get to listen to their stuff too.

The Power of Rock

On the third level, there was a wall with each “class” inducted into the Hall of Fame by year.  You could also go to a touch screen and search by class, by year, or by artist, and listen to their music.  SO many great songs!!!

The Power of Rock is a short film by Jonathan Demme which features many performances from past Hall of Fame inductions.  So many stars and so many great songs were in this film.  The theater had a light show and great sound for the film and it was almost like you were watching a concert live.  The film ends with Prince’s guitar solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps – WOW!  Forgot how amazing that was!  They also had some of the great quotes on the walls of the hallway that you left the theater by.  Prince’s outfit from that show and other outfits were there as well.

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Rock on TV

It was also very cool to see some of the TV show memorabilia on this level.  You could go and record something about your favorite singer or album in special booths.  It was pretty cool to stand in front of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand podium!  His microphone was in a glass case with other things like the set design for the Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan.  They had TV cameras there, Don Cornelius’ suit from Soul Train, outfits from the Jackson Five and Sonny & Cher and the coat worn by Davy Jones of the Monkees that he wore on The Brady Bunch.  There was also some cool musically related stuff from Saturday Night Live, and from various music videos we all watched on MTV.  It was neat to see Paul Shaffer’s keyboard that he played for so many years on the Late Show with David Letterman.

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On the Radio – LIVE

One thing I didn’t realize was that Sirius XM broadcasts their “Classic Vinyl” station out of the Hall of Fame.  Rachel Steele was on air when we went through.  There is a glass window that allows you to look into the studio and watch them broadcast.  I actually felt bad for her.  One thing radio people like is the fact that they can go in to work without really worrying about what to wear, because….who is going to see you!?  Whoever is on the air here, really has to “doll up” every day.

Over all, I loved every second of my visit here!  Any music lover would enjoy themselves!!  If you have never been …. you have to!

Christmas in March

The final stop on the trip was The Christmas Story House.  It is the house featured in the holiday classic.  They renamed the street “Cleveland Street” in honor of the movie.  The Leg Lamp proudly sits in the front window and the Bumpass House is next door.

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This is such an inexpensive treat!  The house looks a little different on the inside, but they have restored much of it to be exactly like it looks in the film, which took a bit because there were a few owners since the movie.

We were allowed to take as many pictures as we liked.  There was a guide who took us through the house and told some stories.  You can see the bathroom where Ralphie solves Little Orphan Annie’s secret message, you can see the many plugs the tree was plugged into, pick up the phone that Mrs. Parker calls Flick’s mom on, see the boy’s room, and see the damper in the kitchen that billows black smoke because of the “clinker” furnace.

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From the backyard you can see the steel mill (still in operation), which helped Jean Sheppard (the author) pick that particular house for the film.  Across the street is a museum with the actual Red Rider BB gun used in the film, outfits from the cast, Darren McGavin’s plaster life mask (used for make up and such), plenty of behind the scenes pictures, and the Old Man’s car.  The gift shop is full of great items and yes, you can purchase a pink bunny suit or a leg lamp (in various sizes).

Sam told me she’d buy me a bunny suit, but only if I wore it every Christmas!  Incidentally, if you have the $$, you can spend the night in the house or next door at the Bumpass house.

The trip was short, but full of good memories.  I love that we were able to do it and I love that we got to spend time with each other. It was the perfect anniversary trip.

Cleveland, does indeed, ROCK!