I can feel the tension in the air in Happy Valley.
In a week from today we will go to the polls and vote. In a country where popular government is the standard, held by periodically held free elections, faith in the electoral process is imperative. The belief of some that this may be incorrect, coupled with voiced misunderstandings on various issues, creates tension.
Penn State University found itself in the unenviable last week of having to ban citizens from speaking on campus after spending weeks defending these speakers’ right to freedom of speech. It is true that their reasoning – the safety of those present – certainly speaks of the need for people to come together peacefully if they are to exercise their First Amendment rights. Nevertheless, the build-up, quarrel and result became nationwide news. It was a tense time in Happy Valley.
Finally, at a local but much less country-shifting level, the Penn State soccer team has given millions of Penn State fans hope to win last weekend’s game against… well, I can’t even put their name in. With an advantage in the middle of the fourth quarter and the possibility of wiping out a five-year streak with the state in the west, everything was dissolved within minutes and defeats were torn from the hands of victory. The tensions were certainly high on Saturday.
After the game we went home and sat by the fire in our backyard with friends who stayed with us for the weekend. Immersed in all the remaining tensions and frustrations of the game, we searched for John Prine singing in Illegal Smile, the “key to escaping reality.”
Then the conversation moved to movies. Not just any movies, but sit on the couch and enjoy mindless entertainment. Comedies. Humorous films. Action films. The good guys win movies. Movies with a healthy dose of fantasy and / or science fiction. Videos with memorable and quotable lines. Films for which reality does not exist. Videos with all these features mixed into one.
So my two college friends and I came up with a list of the top 10 movies – or movie series – that we like to watch when we want to park our brains at the door, let the art flow over us, and release the tensions of life into the universe. They are:
1) Pirates of the Caribbean – 1, 2 and 3
Having Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow must surely be one of the best casting decisions in the history of cinema. Based loosely on Disney rides, this series of movies provides plenty of opportunities for humorous exchanges as cheeky pirate tales unfold. The fourth and fifth films in the series omit (mostly) the characters of Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner, making them feel a bit out of sync and less enjoyable. But anyone looking for a novel way to decline an appeal should use the sentence, “I’m not willing to agree to your request. I mean no ‘. ”
2) Repo Man
This 1984 movie, which stars young Emilio Estevez as a failed punk rocker who becomes a repo intern, is weird and funny. With three main characters named Bud, Miller and Lite, two of which are played by classic character actors Harry Dean Stanton and Tracey Walter, this bizarre picture requires you to completely forget reality while watching. A worthwhile fact: the executive producer of the film was Mike Nesmith of The Monkees.
3) Avengers – sequels and related hero movies
The story of World War II that leads to today’s struggle between good and evil – not only on earth but in all universes (plural). Sarcasm, wit and biting humor appear in all variations of the “group” films of Avenger, as well as in the films of individual characters – Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, etc. Must-see cinema.
4) Kingsman: Secret Service and Kingsman: The Golden Circle
After seeing Samuel L. Jackson as the main good guy Nick Fury in the Marvel movies, it’s fascinating to watch him play an awful bad character in Kingsman’s first film. Julianne Moore then picks up the villain’s nasty truncheon in the second film in the series – all holding Elton John as his personal pianist hostage.
For those who knew Shia LeBeouf as the awkward and inept teenager Louis Stevens from the TV series “Even Stevens”, it’s easy to comprehend the transition to the slightly less awkward and inept character of Sam Witwicky in the first Transformer movie. Good versus evil, shape-shifting alien vehicles with deadly powers aimed at destroying the earth, supported in the film by great character actors such as Julie White as mom and John Turturro as a government agent, make this an entertaining movie not only for kids.
6) Men in black; MIIB; and MIB3
Tommy Lee Jones plays the agent of Kay of the Men in Black – the agency responsible for tracking all aliens on earth – and recruits Will Smith to become his partner as Jay’s agent. A series of three films follows their exploits to save the Earth from extinction. Each of the videos hits the right buttons for fictional fun, humor and action.
7) Star Wars: Episodes IV, V and VI
The original three movies in the nine-movie series are a bit heavier in drama and lighter humor than most of the other movies on this list, but good space stories to be told in the future are great for escapism. That the smartest character was the little green alien that appears in the second film – and was voiced by the Muppet Master – makes the whole series even more endearing.
8) The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai in the Eighth Dimension
This iconic movie is so bad that it’s the perfect cure if you really want the art to flow over you. Cheesy special effects, Halloween costumes and an amazing acting game all add up to a mélange of a story centered on a brain surgeon / rock musician who has to stop the eighth dimension invaders who plan to conquer the Earth. This is an alien movie with Jeff Goldblum that gives you an unforgettable dialogue: “… because remember, wherever you go, there you are.” If that doesn’t mean reality is reversed then I don’t know what it means.
9) Star Trek: The Movie
All the main characters of the series are here – Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov. Knowing the premise, alien life form, Kirk’s declarative tone of conversation, gadgets and costumes are a great opportunity to break out and let the USS Enterprise crew do what they do best: save the day.
10) ET extraterrestrial
Kids, a cute alien, a dog, nasty adults, and an unforgettable phrase used in conversations 40 years after filming: ET phone home. Enough said.
We are well aware that you can watch hundreds of films that give you the opportunity to escape from reality (with Christmas on the horizon, the “Santa Claus” series would be a great option). As we sat by the fire on a chilly Saturday night this was a list that we came up with. Whatever your favorite is, remember that if the tension gets too much, drop down, grab some snacks and your favorite drink and lose yourself in the movie!