Day 30 – A Beautiful Ending

Alas, with this post ends SandmanJazz’s 30 Day Film Challenge courtesy of Cineworld. How appropriate then that the final prompt asks for a film with a beautiful ending.

Well, it wasn’t My Fair Lady, which was well on its way to a wholly satisfactory ending but instead has Henry Higgins asking Eliza Doolittle for his slippers. What a waste! After all the lovely songs and all the build up, no closing duet, no love song, no whispered … but I digress.


No, what comes to mind as a beautiful ending is Casablanca (1942), directed by Michael Kurtiz. It won three Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Unlike My Fair Lady, Casablanca’s love story ends with a parting that the drama and wit of the dialogue slowly prepares us for. Then comes the closing scene.



Rick Blaine: If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.
Ilsa: But what about us?
Rick Blaine: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have it before…we’d…we’d lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you…
Rick Blaine: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Here’s looking at you, kid.

Who can forget what comes next? The plane takes off with Ilsa and her husband, the leader of the French resistance, while Rick and Capt. Louis Renault, sometime cynical antagonists, watch. They had fought on different sides, for different ends, neither of them heroes by any measure. They were now on the same side, knowing they had to find new places of refuge, maybe even a new cause.

Nothing was certain. Except that they had given hope another chance.

The plane is now lost to sight. Silently, Rick and Louis turn and walk away, the fog closing in around them, when Rick says:


“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”




CUT! Perfect ending.







Day 29 – The Movie That Never Ends

For SandmanJazz’s 30 Day Film challenge courtesy of Cineworld cinemas, the penultimate prompt asks us to volunteer a film that we didn’t want to end. Okay then. Well, are we really sure we don’t already have a movie that doesn’t end whether or not we want it to end? Think of the many Star Wars franchise prequels and sequels and spin-offs, all really part of the same unending story.


I’m good with that. Star Wars has become a familiar part of the movie landscape. First conceived, written and directed by George Lucas, the original Star Wars (1977) burst onto the scene like a starfighter in lightspeed hyperspace with Hans Solo and the Millenium Falcon, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and the Jedis, 900-year-old Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Toy stores would look empty now without R2-D2 and droids like C-3PO and stormtroopers, lightsabers and blasters, Sith and Jedi action figures, and there has to be a corner of the universe where we know that Ewoks live in their forest canopied homes.


When the original trilogy came out, Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back (1980), & Return of the Jedi (1983), they took our breath away with their special effects and the creation of whole new worlds and their denizens, all curiously similar to humans however unsightly, ethereal, fantastic, or fuzzy adorable with their jabbering patois and customs that somehow seemed quite earthly.

Not just that, we went around wishing each other good luck at parting, saying, May the force be with you! like we were part of the universe where rebel forces and star ships were a regular feature.

But this was just the beginning of George Lucas’s cinematic legacy.

The next installment was a prequel trilogy that may not have seen the quality of writing we had come to expect, but the story and the special effects more than held their own. The mysterious aquatic planet of Kamino and the graceful and preternaturally-composed Kaminoans in The Attack of the Clones (2002) are a fantastic feat of  imagination.


By this time Star Wars had truly become the lavish and spectacular, larger-than-life American space opera that it continues to be. Each installment in the saga continues to be a feast for the eyes with more and more phenomenal species and landscapes, and eye-popping characters, e.g. the infamous Jar Jar Brinks.

The most recent sequels have been disappointing to many fans but there is hope, especially as Disney’s Mandalorian promises a next-generation of intrepid adventurers and Yoda-like sages. The eponymous protagonist is reminiscent of heroes from old westerns and the series thus far has a lot in common with that genre. Thankfully, the longevity of the Star Wars universe seems assured.

Sail on into hyperspace, Star Wars, and may the force be with you!


Day 28: A Life-Changing Film

For SandmanJazz’s 30 Day Film challenge, the prompt today asks for a film that changed your life.

Just ONE movie?


I suppose that’s in the realm of the possible, that one day I could have walked into a movie theater or sat down in front of the TV and after a couple of hours of a really good movie my life was changed. Or a moment of epiphany during the movie after which you’re never the same.

Maybe that’s happened to someone? I don’t know. It hasn’t happened to me.

I do know that movies, like books and paintings and music and plays and arts in general impart something to us, good or bad. But it works incrementally. Not like an avalanche but like the steady fall of snow. It matters what you put before your eyes day after day, month in, month out.

In the end, these things do change your life, for better or worse.

If you inadvertently watch something that breathes darkness and lies, always have on hand a palate cleanser. Something that brings the light back into your eyes and points you home again.

And that’s my non-answer to the prompt. Sorry, Charlie.


Day 27 – Fave Superhero Movie


Today SandmanJazz’s 30 Day Film Challenge asks us to disclose our fondest superhero film! Yikes! On the one hand, I think this comic-book-derived genre is so over-hyped and on the other hand, three films come quickly to mind as memorable in their own right apart from the superhero mania: Superman (1978), Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), and The Dark Knight (2008). They range from traditional to gothic to neo-noir and I enjoyed each one.

At the moment, though, I’m going to go with The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan. It wins the sweeps mostly for its noir shadows, out of which emerge the darkest representation of a nihilistic psychopath this side of hell, Heath Ledger’s Joker.

He just wants to watch the world burn.


The most disturbing revelation in the movie, though, is its suggestion that there is in each of us an ember of this desire waiting for a chance to unleash itself.

That idea is not unfamiliar. Some call it the imp of the perverse, others recognize it as original sin. But to fight it daily within ourselves and in others takes a “superhuman” courage and strength, from a selfless act of kindness to a willingness to forgive, even sacrifice for the sake of others. Characters like Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), Alfred (Michael Caine), and Lt. Gordon (Gary Oldman) represent our noblest impulses..

But sometimes these acts come from unexpected sources.

When the Joker conducts “a social experiment,” we see the drama between good and evil played out not just in the superhero Batman but the seemingly hardened criminal, the scarred and shackled hulk of an orange-suited convict who refuses to allow his “betters” to blow up a ship full of passengers just to save themselves.

Dark Knight makes us confront hard truths about ourselves as individuals and as a society that few movies, let alone superhero movies, have the ability to do. You gotta hand it to Christopher Nolan. As a storyteller, his narrative works on many levels all at once, not just on a comic book level.

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Day 24 – Fave Film Director

In response to SandmanJazz’s 30 Day Film Challenge today, to wit, a film by your favorite film director, this one was a tough decision. So many favorites, so where to begin? Going down the list – John Ford, John Huston, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, Francis Ford Coppola – I‘m tempted to say Kubrick but being in the mood I’m in, today’s pick is John Huston.


Huston’s well-known for The Maltese Falcon, but to me his most memorable achievements are The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and The Dead (1987), the latter being the last movie he directed. The Dead is a mesmerizing adaptation of James Joyce’s short story from The Dubliners and The Man Who Would Be King is a cinematic and storytelling tour de force, a  brilliant adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s story. I wish he had been able to complete his series, The Bible: In the Beginning, but as it is, it showcases the scope and power of his directorial imagination.

Here’s to you, Mr. Huston! 🍷

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