Movies & TV Series

American Graffiti (1973): Facts to Know About This Movie

It may not be the best movie ever made (I give that honor to Casablanca), but it’s the one I like to call my favorite. American Graffiti is such a powerful nostalgia picture that it makes me nostalgic for a time period that I didn’t even live in. The movie was a labor-of-love created by writer/director George Lucas based on memories of his teenage years. The movie became a huge success, gave Lucas the clout to film Star Wars and laid the groundwork for the future careers of Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford and others.

The protagonists of American Graffiti are Curt Henderson (Dreyfuss) and Steve Bolander (Howard). Both are scheduled to head back east for college the next morning. Steve is anxious to get out of his small town, but Curt is thinking of staying put. The two will spend the entire night changing their minds.

The movie also follows the adventures of two of their friends: Terry the Toad (Charles Martin Smith) and John Milner (Paul Le Mat). Both boys spend the night cruising the streets of Modesto, looking for action. The geeky Terry strikes it rich with Debbie (Candy Clark), the adventurous type who finds herself attracted to Terry’s intelligence (or is it the car?).  John is not so looking, winding up in the company of Carol (Mackenzie Phillips), someone’s younger sister who is just that: young. This doesn’t sit well for Milner, who has a reputation to keep. This reputation includes him being an undefeated drag racer, a title that is being threatened by an out-of-town hot rodder (Ford).

The movie bounces back and forth between the four boys and their girlfriends as they have one more night of summer high jinks before separating. It will be a wild night filled with pranks, robberies, make-out sessions, drag races, alcohol, car thefts, sock hops and fist fights.

The plot thread that holds the most meaning for me is that of Curt. Desperate to find the “dazzling beauty I have been looking for all my life,” Curt happens to come across a hot blonde in a White T-Bird who mouths to him an “I-Love-You.”  For Curt, the rest of the movie is a romantic quest as he searches by the blonde, only to be sidetracked by ex-girlfriends, hoodlums and stalled cars. In the end, he seeks the help of the popular Disc Jockey Wolfman Jack.

I’ve heard Wolfman Jack compared with the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz. For the entire film the Wolfman has been built up as some all-powerful figure. Rumors about the Wolfman spread all over the streets and even when Curt visits him, he pretends to be someone else. However, when Toto pulls back the curtain on the radio wizard, Curt learns that he is just a normal person, just like everyone else. The Wolfman grants Curt’s request, playing a dedication to the blonde that results in Curt getting to speak with the girl of his dreams. By this time, however, the events of the previous night have given Curt the courage to face the unknown.

Made ten years after it takes place, American Graffiti is a nostalgia picture in the best way.  It is like a time capsule of the 1960s before it was drastically altered by the assassination of JFK and the Vietnam War. Seeing it today, the movie generates even more nostalgia than it did when first released. It reminds us of a time when the worst things teenagers did was to cherry bomb toilettes, sneak cigarettes and steal change from the local arcade. In a time period where most teenagers must pass through metal detectors to get to class, the world of American Graffiti looks downright wonderful.

Although the movie may fall in the same genre as many inferior high school movies, American Graffiti’s hidden depths rise the film above the rest. In between all the pranks and misadventures, Lucas fills the film with some smart messages. For instance, the movie puts a lot of emphasis on driving and its climactic scene features a drag race. However, during a key scene, John walks Carol through the car graveyard, giving a running narration on just how each car crashed and how many people were killed. While his movie may focus on mischief, Lucas doesn’t fail to point out the consequences.

The movie also serves as a tribute to the Rock & Roll music that Lucas grew up with. He fills the movie almost wall-to-wall with songs from the 50s and early 60s. I sometimes feel that the character of John Milner serves as the stand-in for Lucas himself; and when Milner tells us that “Rock & Roll has been going downhill ever since Buddy Holly died,” we know just how Lucas feels.

It wasn’t too long ago that American Graffiti still held the record for being the most profitable film. That means it made the most money in relation to its budget.  It’s a shame that it had to be dethroned by a movie so far beneath it (The Blair Witch Project). Made on a very limited budget, Lucas was forced to film the movie in a style that was unique at the time. The almost documentary style lends a certain authenticity to the film, which only helps add to the nostalgic feeling of the film.

The movie received five Oscar nominations—Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Clark), Screenplay and Editing—but walked away empty handed. Talk about getting your hopes up, it is said that Lucas stood up when the Best Director was announced as “George . . .” only to embarrassedly sit down win it finished “. . . Roy Hill.”

Having the benefit of being a nostalgia picture, American Graffiti hasn’t aged a bit. It remains one of the most delightful, humorous, touching and quietly powerful films ever made. I have no shame in calling it my favorite movie. It’s a classic, it gets an A+.

Movies & TV Series

Adaptation (2002) Review: Things To know About the Movie

If ever there were a movie that you could call “loosely based” on an existing source, Adaptation is it. It all started when screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) was given the job of adapting Susan Orlean’s book, “The Orchid Thief.” Unable to figure out how to turn the book into a movie, Kaufman put himself into the screenplay. The resulting film has less to do with “The Orchid Thief” and more to do with Kaufman’s attempts to adapt it.

Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) was convinced that he could write the screenplay without turning it into a Hollywood thing. He was determined not to include sex, car chases, characters overcoming huge obstacles and all those other cliché plot devices, but rather to create a totally unique and original story. Unfortunately, with his agent and his producer (Tilda Swinton) breathing down his neck, Charlie agonizes over the script, hardly writing a thing.  To make matters worse, his less talented and less intelligent brother Donald (also Cage) has just sold his first screenplay.

The movie bounces back and forth in time and between Kaufman and Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) in her efforts to write a New Yorker story on an Orchid lover named John Laroche (Chris Cooper). Laroche has found a way to steal the endangered flower off of nature reserves by recruiting the help of local Indians, for whom it is not illegal to steal the Orchids.  Orlean is a sophisticated New Yorker, but she begins to develop an attraction to the rugged, toothless Laroche.

Meanwhile, Kaufman—still unable to write a thing—is developing a crush of his own on Susan. He travels to New York in hopes of meeting and getting to know her, but his own insecurities—which he has many—keep him from talking to her. Desperate, Charlie enlists the help of his brother and reluctantly attends a screenwriting seminar in which lecturer Robert McKee (Brian Cox) teaches young screenwriters how to take apart old movies and rehash them into new screenplays.

The first half of Adaptation is just as jumbled as the thoughts that go through Charlie’s mind—revealed to us in a hilarious voice-over—as he tries to write. The movie starts during the filming of director Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman’s last film, Being John Malkovich, jumps all the way back to the beginning of time, moves back to Kaufman, and then to Orlean’s original interviews with Laroche and back again to the beginning of time, etc. As the movie moves on it begins to become more streamlined and straightforward.  Not mistakenly the movie really takes shape once Charlie asks Donald to help him with the screenplay. I never could figure out which direction this movie was taking me, but I eagerly awaited each new step. The movie’s final act is ironically amusing and probably the most fitting ending of any movie I have seen all year.

In the end, it seems Kaufman has succeeded in creating the unique movie he set out to do.  Adaptation is probably the most original movie to come out since, well, Being John Malkovich. Not only is it an absorbing, compelling and hilariously funny film in itself, but it is also a documentary on its own creation. No need for a “Making of” featurette, when this movie comes out on DVD, we have already seen it. This movie had me completely absorbed from the very beginning and it never let up until it ended. I could never quite figure out which direction it was going to take me, but I could not wait to find out.

Nicolas Cage delivers a brilliant performance as the two brothers. He has so completely developed the two characters that we never get confused which is which. Aided by the excellent trick photography, I had to keep reminding myself that, yes, that is the same actor playing both parts. Meryl Streep also gives a terrific performance, showing off both a lighter side and a darker side that we aren’t used to seeing from the actress. Still, stealing the show is Chris Cooper, who is darkly hilarious as the thieving flower lover. This performance surpasses his own scene-stealing performance as the homophobic Marine with a secret in American Beauty, as one of the best supporting performances in recent memory.

Adaptation succeeds on all levels and seems destined to be an Oscar contender.  For my money, it is definitely one of the best movies of the year.  I give it an A.

Movies & TV Series

Alien (1979) :Facts to Know About This Movie

The scariest movie ever made?  Maybe, maybe not, but for my money it is definitely in the top 5. When you come right down to it, director Ridley Scott’s second film (following 1977’s The Duellists) is simply a haunted house movie set in space. Throughout his career, Scott has been very good at combining a couple of tried-and-true genres and, in effect, creating an entirely new genre in the process. Immediately following the horror and science-fiction mixture of Alien, Scott would make Blade Runner, a film that combines the science-fiction genre with film noir.

In recent years Scott has created a number of memorable, Oscar-winning films including Thelma & LouiseBlack Hawk Down and Gladiator, but Alien is the movie that started it all and it can be easily argued that it remains his best. Sure the Alien series has certainly suffered some serious blows in the form of the dismal Alien 3 and the only slightly less drab Alien: Resurrection, but the original remains a classic.  As does director James Cameron’s first sequel Aliens, which is worthy of a classic movie review of its own at some later date.

Alien opens slowly, with little happening for the film’s first 45 minutes. The crew of the mining spaceship Nostromo is awoken from their frozen slumber to learn that instead of returning home, the ship’s central computer (named “Mother”) has rerouted them to a mysterious planet.  The crew—including Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), science officer Ash (Ian Holm), deck officers Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Kane (John Hurt), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) and engineering officers Parker (Yaphet Kotto) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton)—have been ordered to investigate a mysterious signal that has been emanating from the planet’s surface.  Is it an SOS call or a warning?  Perhaps they should have looked more into it before setting out to explore.

While exploring the source of the signal—a seemingly deserted spaceship whose commander seems to have become petrified to his command chair—Kane discovers a cargo holed filled with dozens and dozens of alien eggs. In one of cinema’s biggest “jumps” a slimy creature leaps out from one of the eggs and attaches itself onto the overly curious face of Kane.  Kane is brought back onto the ship where the creature mysteriously detaches himself from Kane and dies. All is seemingly well when Kane awakens from his coma and the crew is set for one more dinner before returning to their frozen slumber for the ride home. The dinner scene would quickly become one of the most famous in Hollywood history.

What a shock it must have been in 1979 when Kane’s convulsions ended with that phallic looking creature popping out of his chest.  One can imagine the shock being comparable to Janet Leigh’s fateful shower in Psycho.

The remainder of the film has a lot in common with modern horror flicks in which the heroes are killed off by the monster one-by-one. What makes Alien stand out from these other films is directly attributable to the film’s deliberately paced first half. The fact that nothing happened in the film for 45 minutes was a major concern for studio executives when the film was being made in 1978. Fortunately, Scott was able to convince them that it was the right way to go. Like Hitchcock before him, Scott knew that it was the suspense before the shock that keeps the audience in their seats, not the shock itself. He knew that if he could just pull his audience along for that first act that he would then have them exactly where he wanted them.

The movie is a perfect example of suspense starting small and building to a point where it is almost unbearable. As the ship awakens from its slumber at the beginning, the camera slowly and smoothly moves through the ship, Jerry Goldsmith’s ominous score sets a quiet tone and the lighting is stark, but simple. We, as an audience, are relaxed, but curious about where this movie is taking us. The stillness is disturbed in the middle of the film by the big “jumps” and by the end, the camera is frantically racing with the characters through the film’s claustrophobic corridors filled with CO2, flashing strobe lights and accompanied by ear-piercing alarms. At this point, we are on the edge of our seats ready to leap.

Although the film’s scares are generated mostly by its suspense, Scott also knew—as he comments in his DVD commentary—that cheap shocks were still a major part of the horror genre and Alien is not without its share. The alien reaching out at a half-naked Sigourney Weaver in the shuttle is just one such example.

Misdirection also plays a major part in the film’s scares and suspense. First of all, Scott plays with the order in which the deaths come and so we can never really be sure about who is going to be next. For example, today’s audiences certainly know that Sigourney Weaver will be the only one standing at movie’s end, but who in 1979 would have guessed? Weaver was an unknown actress that had appeared in only two major films before—a bit part in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and the obscure Madman—and typical Hollywood logic of the time would argue that she would be the first to go.

Later in the film when Ripley retreats back to find the cat, it seems certain that she would be the next to die. Not only has she wandered off alone (usually the big tip-off), but the scene echoes back to the earlier death of Brett, who was also tracking down the cat.

The character who seemed the most obvious choice to be the hero was Dallas, not only because he is played by top-billed star Tom Skerritt, but because, well, he’s a man and women just don’t survive in movies like this. But Dallas was the third to go and in actuality the only two women in the movie were the last two standing (with the exception of the cat, who may have also been a female).

Alien opened a whole new acting world for Weaver.  She earned her first Oscar nomination when she reprised the role of Ripley in 1986’s Aliens and to this day remains the immediate comparison for other actresses that headline action films, such as Angelina Jolie and Geena Davis. Over the years, Weaver has proved one of Hollywood’s most diverse actresses, equally at home in drama (Gorillas in the Mist; Copycat) and comedy (Ghostbusters; Working Girl).

Scott has said that he has always wanted to make another Alien film (the original is the only one he worked on) that goes back to the home planet of the alien species that the crashed ship belonged to; a species that was wiped out by the alien being it harvested as a weapon.  Mr. Scott, I can’t wait.

Horror movies have never been my personal favorite genre, but when they are as brilliantly made as Alien, I just can’t resist.  It is a classic, it gets an A+.

Movies & TV Series

Big Fish (2003) :Facts to Know About This Movie

If there is one thing you can say about the films of director Tim Burton from Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands to Batman and Sleepy Hollow—it is that they are always visually stunning; and his new film, Big Fish, is no exception.  From 15-foot tall giants to small, quirky, hole-in-the-wall towns, the movie is a delight to watch. The unique story is not too bad either.

“Most people will tell you a story straight through. It won’t be complicated, but it won’t be interesting either,” the dying Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) tells his pregnant daughter-in-law. Edward and his son Will (Billy Crudup) have not spoken for a good three years after Will finally grew tired of his father’s insistence to tell wild fabricated stories about his life.  Through various flashbacks the film takes us through the story of Edward’s life, just as he would tell us.

After growing up the toast of the small town of Ashton, Alabama—where the glass eye of the local witch revealed the manner of his death—Edward left the town flanked by a 15-foot giant, determined that he was meant for bigger things.  After a short detour in a pastoral little town—“so strange, yet so familiar”—Edward meets the love of his life at a circus.  Edward spends the next three years doing various jobs for the circus ring-master (Danny DeVito), in exchange for one new fact about his love a month.  When he finally learns that she is Auburn student Sandra Templeton (Alison Lohman), Edward leaves the circus and refuses to let any detail—such as Sandra already being engaged—stand in the way of him and the woman he is going to marry.

Will has heard all of these stories a million times and they have pushed him away from the father he never believed he really knew. With his father’s life coming to an end, Will might finally get the opportunity to understand who his father really is.

Big Fish is a delightful movie that seems to strive for Forrest Gump-like success (it even takes place in Alabama) and although it falls short of that classic film, it is not without its charms. Ewan McGregor delivers another fine performance as the younger Edward Bloom.  With the naiveté quality and complete determination in winning the woman he loves, McGregor plays this role almost as an extension of his Moulin Rouge persona, with a little bit of Down with Love’s cocky Catcher Block thrown in.

The relationship between the father and son—which is what the movie was really about—does not seem to be fleshed out as much as it could.  Instead, the relationship in the film I found most interesting was between Finney and Jessica Lange as the elder Edward and Sandra Bloom.  The two great actors are both terrific in their roles; particularly in an emotional bathtub scene.

Recently nominated for four Golden Globe nominations including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) and Best Supporting Actor (Finney), Big Fish is a touching and offbeat fish story.  I give it a B+.

Movies & TV Series

33 Best HBO Shows of All Time

Best or not, HBO has always maintained to be one of the great entertainers of all time with a list of movies and shows. With more than 100 series and 20 miniseries in the past 42 years, HBO has proved to be one of the favourite channels among all the people around the world. Now here we present some of the best TV shows of all time by HBO—

The Leftovers (2014-2017)

The Leftovers (2014-2017)Created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perotta, this thriller/drama series is actually based on a novel written by Perotta himself. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler, Chris Zylka, and others; this show has spawned 3 seasons and 28 episodes in total. This show chronicles the events of the world after a mysterious event called “Sudden Departure” takes place.

Veep (2012-)

Veep (2012-)An adaptation of the British TV series, The Thick of It, by Armando Iannucci, Veep is a political satire and comedy series. So far there have been 6 seasons and 58 episodes released. The show revolves around the daily life and struggles of a female Vice-President of the United States and how she, later on, becomes the President.

VICE (2013-)

VICE (2013-)VICE is a documentary series that follows two of its journalists as they go about the world and conduct interviews on sensitive political and socio-cultural topics. It has 5 seasons to date and a total of 56 episodes. VICE also won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Series.

Vinyl (2016)

Vinyl (2016)Produced by Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger, Terrence Winter, and Rich Cohen, Vinyl is a crime drama consisting of an equally bewitching cast with Olivia Wilde and Bobby Cannavale. The show aired 1 season with 10 episodes. For period drama and crime drama lovers, this show is going to be an absolute feast.

Treme (2010-2013)

Treme (2010-2013)Treme is a drama series following how the residents of Treme, a suburb of New Orleans, rebuilt their lives, homes, and community following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The series has 4 seasons and 36 episodes.
It has received critical praise for the realistic portrayal and the musical cast.

True Blood (2008-2014)

True Blood (2008-2014)True Blood is the perfect feast for dark paranormal fiction lovers. Based on the novels of the same name written by Charlaine Harris, the series paced over 7 seasons and 80 episodes, follows the life of a small-town waitress as she falls in love with an ancient 100-year old vampire.

Westworld (2016-)

Westworld (2016-)This critically acclaimed show is based on the film Westworld, released in 1973. It opened to great viewer ratings and is praised for its cinematography, acting and plots. The show has aired 1 season of 10 episodes and is slated for another season. It is a sci-fi and drama series and revolves around the fictional town of Westworld.

In Treatment (2008-2010)

In Treatment (2008-2010)In treatment is perhaps a rather curious series produced by Rodrigo Garcia. It documents a psychologist and his treatment sessions with his patients on a weekly basis. What is curious is that at the end of every week, he visits his own psychologist for his treatment. Spanning 3 seasons and 106 episodes, tune in to this show to find out this curious setup.

The Young Pope (2016-)

The Young Pope (2016-)The Young is a drama series set in Italy, starring well-known actors such as Jude Law Na Diane Keaton. The series has 1 season and 10 episodes so far and is slated for another season. This is also the first Italian-based English series to have been nominated for Emmy Awards.

Vice Principals (2016-2017)

Vice principalsA comedy series, co-created by Danny McBride and Jody Hill, this show focuses on a much disliked high school vice-principal who schemes to be the next principal. However, things do not go according to plan and another principal is elected. Hilarity ensues as he then proceeds to get the current principal fired.

Show Me A Hero (2015)

Show Me A Hero (2015)Although a mini-series of 6 episodes, Show Me A Hero is a poignant show that highlights the battles of racial segregation and other similar issues and tensions encountered at that time. Originally written as a book Lisa Belkin in 1999, it has been adapted for the silver screen by David Simon and William Zorzi.

Silicon Valley (2014-)

Silicon Valley (2014-)Silicon Valley is a comedy show based on the trials and tribulations of a start-up founded by 5 young, aspiring entrepreneurs. For those of you wishing to go down the same path or are looking for some light-hearted entertainment, this show is one you should definitely not miss. Up to date, there are 4 seasons and 38 episodes released and a fifth season is slated for production in 2018.

The Comeback (2014-)

The ComebackThe Comeback originally aired for a single season of 13 episodes before being restarted once again for consequent series in 2014 after 9 years. The show stars Lisa Kudrow, of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, who is a sitcom actress. This series has comedy and satire rolled into one epic package and mocks the entertainment and television industry. Kudrow stars as a struggling actor attempting to stay relevant and employable as she finds work in an industry being dominated by younger actresses.

The Casual Vacancy (2015)

The Casual Vacancy (2015)Yep, you’ve guessed it right! The Casual Vacancy a British mini-series, directed by Jonny Campbell, is in fact based on, arguably, one of the most famous authors ever, J. K. Rowling’s novel of the same name. There are 3 episodes, each of them being roughly an hour. The series has been well received by critiques, many praising the cast and the acting.

Carnivale (2003-2005)

Carnivale (2003-2005)This show created by Daniel Knauf is among some of the truly brilliant series produced. Receiving 5 Emmys and various other awards and accolades, Carnivale is an intrinsic show of dark fantasy and mystery. Showcasing the age-old dichotomy of good vs. evil, the Carnivale poses some really thought-provoking questions in the way it inspires those questions. Set during the Great Depression, this series consists of 24 episodes for 2 seasons.

Mildred Pierce (2011)

Mildred Pierce (2011)Mildred Pierce is originally a novel written by James M. Cain and was adapted into a miniseries by Todd Haynes. Starring the celebrity superstar Kate Winslet as the titular protagonist, this show records the journey of Pierce as she attempts to recover from a divorce, set up a new business, and more. There are altogether 5 episodes in the series, but despite its length, Mildred Pierce has received good reviews and praiseworthy acclaim.

Entourage (2004-2011)

Entourage (2004-2011)Entourage is another highly successful comedy series, running 8 seasons and a whopping 96 episodes. Co-Created by Doug Ellin, this series focuses on the growth and life of a famous actor as he navigates through a new city, new life, and a career for himself. The show is also perhaps most known for having several celebrities playing guest roles, often as fictitious versions of themselves.

Eastbound & Down (2010-2013)

Eastbound & Down (2010-2013)Featuring Danny McBride as a former sportsman who returns to his hometown to teach physical education classes at the local high school, Eastbound & Down was produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Consisting of 4 seasons and 29 episodes, this show has received largely positive reviews, despite its seemingly obnoxious and toxic humor.

Enlightened (2011-2013)

Enlightened (2011-2013)Enlightened is a comedy and drama series, produced and written by Mike White and Laura Dern. Dern also, incidentally, happens to play the lead role in the show, of an executive who after a series of self-debilitating mishaps tries to get her life together. Dern also won a Golden Globe Award for the Best Actress category.

Generation Kill (2008)

Generation Kill (2008)Generation Kill is a war-based miniseries, based on the book having the same name by Evan Wright. Adapted by Wright himself for television series, along with others, the series chronicles the incidents and encounters experienced by the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the Marine Corps during the American Invasion of Iraq in the year 2003. This 7-part series has also won 3 Emmy Awards for Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, and Sound Editing

Rome (2005-2007)

Rome (2005-2007)A historical drama adventure series set in Rome in the 1st century BC, Rome stars an ensemble cast, featuring Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson. Based largely on historically correct events, Rome follows 2 soldiers in their life. There are 2 seasons and 22 episodes so far released.

Girls (2012-2017)

Girls (2012-2017)Girls is a cringe comedy show that follows four women and their lives in the big city of New York, the series contains 6 seasons and 62 episodes. It is created by Lena Dunham, who also plays the main protagonist. Slices of Dunham’s real-life events are also included in the plot.

Big Love (2006-2011)

bigloveBig Love is an American drama series revolving around the Mormon faith and polygamy. Starring Bill Paxton, Chloe Sevigny, Big Love has achieved universal acclaim for its interesting and complex take on the dynamics of the American family. The show has 5 seasons and has a total of 53 episodes. Not to be fooled by its controversial nature, the show has actually been very popular for HBO and won many awards for both the show itself and the actors.

Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014)

Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014)This crime drama was created by Terence Winter and the first episode aired in the year 2010. After its success, it continued with 11 more episodes and completed its five-season in the year 2014. The drama series is not as energetic as other dramas but it does have a different type of depth in it.

The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998)

The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998)This late-night talk-show was created by Garry Shandling and Dennis Klein. The best thing about the show is Shandling’s stand-up comedies and the celebrities portraying their true selves, talking about their lives, and making fun of themselves. The series ranked 38 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

Deadwood (2004-2006)

Deadwood (2004-2006)With three seasons and 36 episodes, this American TV series is definitely one of the great shows of all time. The series is set on historical grounds in the year the 1870s in Deadwood, South Dakota. It tells us what happened before and after the annexation of “Deadwood” by South Dakota. The series ran for two years from 2004-2006.

Bored to Death (2009-2011)

Bored to Death (2009-2011)Bored to Death is another good show that ran on HBO from the year 2009-2011. The show has a total number of 3 seasons with a total number of 24 episodes. The story tells us about Jonathan Ames who works as a writer in the daylight and a detective in the dark nights. This comedy thriller is definitely one of the best HBO shows.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014- Present)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014- Present)“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” is a late-night talk and news satire show. The creator and host of the show is the comedian John Oliver. There have been 3 seasons as of now with a total number of 82 episodes. With a lot of humor and satire, the show manages to be one of the best shows on HBO.

The Wire (2002-2008)

The Wire (2002-2008)The Wire is an American crime drama written and created by former police reporter and author David Simon. The Wire first premiered on June 2, 2002, and it ended on March 9, 2008, with a total number of 60 episodes in 5 seasons. The story revolves around the city of Baltimore and its relationship with law enforcement.

The Sopranos (1999-2007)

This show ran for a pretty long time on HBO. This American crime drama is created by David Chase and tells us the story of the Italian American Mobster Tony Soprano. With a total number of 86 episodes in the whole 6 seasons, “The Sopranos” is widely regarded as one of the best TV shows of all time. it has won lots of awards including 21 Emmy Awards and 5 Golden Globe Awards.

True Detective (2014- Present)

True Detective (2014- Present)True Detective is an American crime drama created by Nic Pizzolatto. The first premier of True Detective was aired in the year 2014. the show is based on detective stories and it focuses on three detectives from three cooperating police departments and a businessman who used to be a criminal. They investigate a series of crimes linked with the murder of a corrupt politician. There have been two seasons with a total number of 16 episodes as of now.

Six Feet Under (2001-2005)

Six Feet Under (2001-2005)Created by Alan Ball,” Six Feet Under” is a black comedy that is one of the highest rating HBO shows of all time. “Six Feet Under” ran for 4 years with 5 seasons with a total number of 63 episodes. The show is regarded as one of the greatest TV dramas of all time. It also won numerous awards including 9 Emmy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards.

Game of Thrones (2011- Present)

Game of Thrones (2011- Present)“Game of Thrones” is known as one of the most popular shows on HBO around the globe. Based on George R.R. Martin’s fictional novel “A Song of Ice and Fire”, this popular fantasy drama is created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. There have been 6 seasons as of now with a total number of 60 episodes. It is one of the best TV shows of all time and it has won numerous awards such as 38 Primetime Emmy Awards, the Peabody Award, and lots others.

So here we have given you a list of some of the best HBO shows of all time. If you think I have missed any, feel free to add them to the list. Do not forget to comment!

EDIT (Sept 26th, 2017): List of +23 shows added by Shraddha Anala with 10 by the original author.

Movies & TV Series

Babe (1995): Things to Know About This Movie

In 1995, a little movie about a little pig with a big heart came out of nowhere to win the hearts of movie goers and critics everywhere. Who would have thought that a talking pig movie would wind up nominated for that year’s best picture Oscar opposite films like Braveheart, Apollo 13 and Sense and Sensibility? It may not have won, but there is no denying the fact that Babe is a terrific movie and now it is available on a new special edition DVD.

Near the beginning of the film, Babe the pig (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh) is won in a carnival contest by Farmer Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell). Sad and alone, Babe finds an adoptive mother in Fly (voiced by Miriam Margolyes), much to the chagrin of her mate Rex (yes, that is the voice of The Matrix’s Agent Smith, Hugo Weaving). Fly and Rex are great sheepdogs and one day Babe follows them into the field. It soon becomes clear to Farmer Hoggett that there is more to the little pig than meets the eye and soon he is risking certain humiliation by entering Babe in the local sheepdog contest.

The great thing about Babe is that, although it is by all measures a kids’ movie, it does not talk like a kids’ movie.  Like Walt Disney knew long ago, you can’t talk to kids like children; you have to talk to them like future adults.

The first line of the film—“this is the story about an unprejudiced heart”—states the movie’s theme definitively.  The movie is loaded with morals—I’m reminded of Doc Brown in Back to the Future, “you can do anything if you put your mind to it”—but it does not stop and force these morals on us.  Instead, it presents them in a very entertaining way, letting us figure them out for ourselves.

The movie is a delight to watch, from its charm and sweetness to its humor (particularly that of the neurotic duck Ferdinand) and performances (James Cromwell earned an Oscar nomination).  The most obvious delight of the film is its Oscar-winning special effects.  Once the movie starts, at no time do we think that we are watching computer animation, we simply believe that we have been placed in this world where animals talk (and tiny little mice sing “Blue Moon”).

The new DVD comes complete with an Audio Commentary (featuring writer/producer George Miller), a super-short making-of documentary, and a couple of cute games for kids.  The disc is also available as part of a 2-disc set with the movie’s sequel, the equally delightful Babe: Pig in the City.

Babe is the talking pig movie, a must-see for kids and adults alike.  I give it an A.

Movies & TV Series

The Life of “Vin Diesel”: The Night-Club Bouncer Who Became a Hollywood Sensation


So, you think any celeb from Hollywood becomes a sensation because they were born with a silver spoon? Wrong! There are a lot of celebs who have worked their asses off so that they can achieve what they have become today. These inspiring real life stories make us really proud and we just can’t stop appreciating it.

And guess who one of the most inspiring actors of Hollywood is? Our beloved “Dominic Toretto”.

Mark Sinclair was a “nobody” before destiny hit him hard and he was starred in 2011’s biggest hit Fast & Furious. We call him Vin Diesel.

Born in 16th of July, 1967, Vin Diesel never saw his real dad as he left before he was born. But, he was quite beloved by his African-American step father and his mother. Vin was brought up in California and had a very keen interest in acting as his step-father was an acting instructor and a theater manager.

As Vin grew up, his interest towards acting kept rising and he ended up studying acting and screenwriting in college. However, being restless and the urge of being an actor made Vin drop out from college in the middle and he ended up directing, writing and acting on his own debut venture, a short movie named “Multi-Facial”; which was screened at the Cannes.

If you think Vin was as bulky as he seems now, then no! it was during the time when he was working at a night-club when he started bulking and also acquired his current name.

In the year 1997 Diesel made his first full-length film named “Strays”; although the movie didn’t do well, still he was noticed by director Steven Spielberg and this is when he bagged a role in the movie “Saving Private Ryan”, which was a war classic movie.

Till 2000 Vin did a lot of roles; some worked and some didn’t. And then 2001 happened when Vin became a household name and a heartthrob around the World. The movie “Fast & Furious” became the biggest hit of the year and everyone fell in love with Vin’s character, “Dominic Toretto”. But that was not it. I the year 2002, Vin starred in “XXX Xender Cage” and bang! Vin entered the league of action heroes. Since then Vin has starred in a variety of roles. From being a “Witch hunter” to an “army dude”, or even an antagonist in movies like Riddick and Pitch Black, Vin rocked it all.

Fifteen years from when he was starred in “Fast and Furious”, Vin is now a millionaire with a net worth of almost $150 Millions. Not only money, he has earned the love of millions of hearts and is now among the beloved action heroes like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. We all love Vin and just like he said, “It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning’s winning.” And yes Vin! You won us all with a huge difference.

Vin Diesel Biography

You have probably heard the name Vin Diesel in his countless movies, but do you know what he’s really all about? Vin Morgan was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in a rough neighborhood. He studied English at Hunter College, where he also worked on his screenwriting skills. After graduating, he dropped out of college to pursue his acting career full time. He worked as a nightclub bouncer and doorman, earning extra money to put his name on the credits of his successful career.

Mark Sinclair Vincent

The first thing you need to know about the actor is his name. Vin Diesel was born Mark Sinclair Vincent on January 18, 1970. He was the son of Vincent and Marguerite Sinclair Vincent. He went on to become an actor and producer. He is most famous for playing Dominic Toretto in the Fast and Furious franchise. You may not have heard of Vin Diesel before, but he is one of the most well known actors and producers of all time.

Born in Alameda County, California, Vin Diesel is an American actor, producer, screenwriter, and director. His most well-known works include the Fast and Furious series and The Chronicles of Riddick. His net worth is estimated at $225 million. Vin Diesel’s early life was spent as a bouncer in clubs. His twin brother Paul Vincent worked as a film editor and sound director.

Although his brother is an actor and movie producer, Mark Sinclair Vincent didn’t have a father until the age of seven. His mother, a talented astrologer, told him that he was of mixed race, but the twins were adopted by a theatre manager, Irving H. Vincent. They eventually moved to New York City, where Irving and Delora lived in a large mansion. He gave his sons the surname “Vincent” to distinguish them from their fathers.

Besides his acting career, Vin Diesel’s acting career has included numerous short films. He starred in the American-German Thriller, A Man Apart. He was also an Executive producer in the sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick. And he even performed breakdancing in an instructional video. His acting career has continued to expand since then. He has been nominated for several MTV Movie Awards and has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Although his name was originally “Mark”, he later changed this to Vin Sinclair Vincent. He has a twin brother named Paul. He was raised by his mother and stepfather Irving Vincent, who worked in the acting industry. His mother, Delora, was a single mother, and he had no contact with his biological father. His stepfather, Irving Vincent, also worked in the theater business and raised Vin Diesel. Vin Diesel was a very shy kid growing up, but found acting and producing his first film.

In addition to his acting career, Diesel has a rich personal life. His marriage to Paloma Jimenez resulted in the birth of two daughters, Hania Riley and Vincent Sinclair. He is also the godfather of three children. Diesel is well-known for his deep voice, which was broken when he was 15 years old. The actress Paloma Jimenez named their third child Pauline after his late co-star, Paul Walker.

Apart from acting, Diesel has also created his own production company. He has founded One Race Films, Racetrack Records, and Tigon Studios. He has also lent his voice to various movies, including the comedy The Pacifier (2005) and the crime drama Find Me Guilty (2006). He is also involved in Marvel Comics with a film called Guardians of the Galaxy. His films have earned him a huge following.

In his early career, Diesel dropped out of college to create his own film. He wrote, produced and starred in the film Multi-Facial, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival in 1995. The next year, he wrote and directed Strays, which was about a drug dealer who learns the meaning of emotional intimacy. And that was just the beginning. The rest of his life is a rich and successful one.

After establishing himself as a movie star, Vin Diesel’s career has been filled with success. His films include “Boiler Room,” “Pitch Black,” and “The Fast and the Furious”. He also plays the role of Dominic Toretto in the popular Fast & Furious franchise. He earned several millions of dollars for his role as Dominic Toretto. He has even produced movies such as Hitman and XXX.

Movies & TV Series

Apollo 13 (1995) Review :Things to Know About the Movie

Ron Howard’s brilliant 1995 film about the Apollo 13 space mission gets new life this week at IMAX theaters across the country. As movie screens tend to get smaller and smaller to fit into malls, it is nice to see Hollywood release some of its best films on large format screens such as IMAX. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast graced the screens earlier this year and both Attack of the Clones and The Lion King are due out by the end of the year.

The Apollo 13 space mission took place in April 1970; just seven months after Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. Astronauts Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise) were originally scheduled to pilot Apollo 14, but they get bumped up when Apollo 13’s commander’s ear infection flames up.  The crew changes once more just two days before lift-off, when Mattingly is exposed to measles. Enter Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon), billed as the first bachelor in space.

Things go disastrously wrong when a routine check results in an explosion. Their trip to the moon canceled, the men must figure out how to survive a dwindling oxygen supply, increasing carbon monoxide and a lack of power; not to mention entering Earth’s atmosphere at the correct angle to avoid being either burned up or skipped out into space.  Fortunately the men have a solid ground crew working behind them, led by the cool-headed flight controller Gene Kranz (Ed Harris).

Everything in this movie is top-notch. From the direction to the acting to the special effects—much like the actions of the flight controllers in the movie—everything works to serve the common good (of the movie in this case). Ron Howard takes a direct approach to the film, not ruining it with corny subplots. He knows that the story he has is interesting enough that he doesn’t need to add anything.

Most of the movie takes place in three locations: space, mission control and the houses of family and friends. The sequences in space provide the suspense and the sequences in the homes provide the emotion, but it is the sequences in mission control that really hold this movie together.  Perhaps there is no better movie at demonstrating the importance of teamwork in problem solving. The only way that they can bring the astronauts home safely is to work together. One of my favorite moments in the film comes when a group is assembled to figure out how to fit a square peg in a round hole. There is no moaning, no complaining. The men just start working because they no it is what needs to be done.  As they say, two heads are better than one and in this case there are dozens upon dozens of heads. This might get chaotic if it were not for the cool-handed leadership of Gene Kranz.  Ed Harris gives a brilliant performance as Gene; no matter how desperate the situation gets, he always seems to be in control. It is no wonder he earned an Oscar nomination for his performance.

Ed Harris is only part of this ensemble cast; all of whom give terrific performances. Like Harris, Kathleen Quinlan also received an Oscar nomination for her role as Jim Lovell’s wife Marilyn. She provides the emotional resonance of the film, particularly when she must inform others (her mother-in-law and her son) that something has gone wrong (“something broke on Daddy’s ship”)  Noticeably absent from this version of the film is the scene in which she loses her wedding ring down the shower drain. Although I thought it an important moment in the original film, Howard must have felt it too cheesy and removed it for this version.

Many are now calling A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard’s best film. Still, I believe this film deserves some comparison. It may not be nearly as inventive as Mind, but it is no less thrilling. Take this opportunity to see it again and decide for yourself. I give it an A.

Movies & TV Series Quotes

8 Most Heart Touching Quotes From ‘The Lord of the Rings’


The fantasy movie series such as ‘The Lord of the Rings’ not only take us down to the world of imagination filling the gap of our hungry minds with its mind-boggling middle earth tales, but they also touch our heart with countless quotes about true human values. In this post, I will be posting 8 of such heart touching and inspirational quotes from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movie series.


sam“What are we holding on to, Sam?” said Frodo. Sam replied, “That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”



“You are a Ring-bearer, Frodo. To bear a Ring of Power is to be alone,” Said Lady Galadriel, “this is Nenya, the Ring of Adamant. And I am it’s keeper. This task was appointed to you, and if you do not find a way, no one will.”
“I know what I must do,” replied Frodo, “it’s just that… I’m afraid to do it.”
Lady Galadriel said “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”



Aragorn said, “You said you’d bind yourself to me, forsaking the immortal life of your people.”
“And to that I hold. I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone,” said Lady Arwen while giving him her pendant, “I choose a mortal life.”
Aragorn said, “You cannot give me this.”
“It is mine to give to whom I will. Like my heart,” replied Lady Arwen.



“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”


one-step-moreSam said, “If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.” Frodo replied, “Come on, Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”



“I have… I have never used a sword in my life.”, said Bilbo Baggins.
“And I hope you never have to,” said Gandalf, “but if you do, remember this: true courage is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one.”



Frodo said “Go back, Sam. I’m going to Mordor alone.” “Of course you are,” said Sam, “and I’m coming with you,”



Frodo said “I can see the Shire. The Brandywine River. Bag End. The Lights in the Party Tree.”
“Rosie Cotton dancing. She had ribbons in her hair. If ever I were to marry someone,” said Sam, “it would have been her.”
Frodo hugged Sam and said “I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things.”

Inspirational quotes as good as above from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movie series will keep us inspired throughout our life with the uttermost lesson of love, dedication, friendship, power of modesty and lot more values that make us truly human.

Movies & TV Series

Top 10 Scary Movies For Kids of All Time

We have all grown up listening to horror stories from our grandparents or reading horror stories in the school libraries. But when we were kids, our parents didn’t really let us watch those creepy, scary horror movies. Well, we were not that privileged enough to get a list of the best scary movies of all time. But here I have a list of the best scary movies of all the time for kids. Just have a look.

Goosebumps (2015)

Goosebumps (2015)Released in 2015 and directed by Rob Letterman, “Goosebumps” is based on the children’s book series of the same name. The story of the movie tells us about a teenager Zach, who just moved into a small town. Though he is upset about moving into a small town from a big city, he is quite happy to see beautiful Hannah as his neighbor. Things turn out to be nasty when Zach accidentally unleashes all the monsters that were inside the “Goosebumps” series which is written by Hannah’s father R.L. Stine. Now it’s all on Stine, Hannah, and Zach to return the monsters where they belong.

Little Monsters (1989)

Little Monsters (1989)We often used to tell our parents during our childhood that there our something scary under the bed but somehow our parents never could find anything under the bed. Well, there is a history about it and that is what is beautifully explained in the movie “Little Monsters” directed by Richard Alan Greenberg. Brian, a little boy isn’t very afraid of the monsters under the bed and now he is friends with boogieman, Maurice. Maurice introduces Brian to the new world of little monsters where there are no rules, no parents and there is lots of fun. But things go out of hand when Brian’s younger brother Eric is kidnapped.

Coraline (2009)

Coraline (2009)Coraline is a dark fiction based on the dark fantasy novel for kids of the same name written by Neil Gaiman. The movie is directed by Henry Selick. Coraline Jones is an 11 year’s old little girl who likes adventures and is not very fond of the life she is living. now she has managed to find a World of her choice and now she is inside that world. But all things that look good are not necessarily good for you. The movie is not only ideal for kids but also for adults as it portrays the message “Be careful of what you wish for”.

ParaNorman (2012)

The story of this beautiful movie is based on Norman Babcock an 11-year-old little boy who speaks to the dead and who is often bullied by his friends and other people because of his uncommon trait. His one and only best friend are Neil Downe who is also a loner. During a play rehearsal, Norman learns his town’s past and the reason behind his extra-ordinary trait of speaking to ghosts. This is a great movie that shows acceptance of one’s uniqueness, forgiveness and how does it feel to be different. It is indeed one of the best movies for kids.

Beetlejuice (1988)

Beetlejuice (1988)This movie by Tim Burton is one of his best works. Released in 1988, Beetlejuice deals with the story of a deceased young couple who has become a ghost. Now they are haunting by their former house which is taken over by humans. So they have hired “Betelgeuse” pronounced as Beetlejuice, the “bio-exorcist” to scare the humans away who are occupying their house. With a great story and lots of fun, this is a great scary movie for kids around the World.

Kenny & Company (1976)

Kenny & Company (1976)Directed by Don Coscarelli, the movie was released in the year 1976. The movie is special as it deals with all teenage problems starting from bullies, to girl issues to Halloween preparation. It is indeed a beautiful movie for all the kids out there.

The Monster Squad (1987)

The Monster Squad (1987)Directed by Fred Dekker, this horror-comedy was released in 1987. the story tells us about a group of kids in their pre-teens who loves horror movies and idolize classic monsters. But things turn out to be sore when they realize that the monsters from their favorite movies come to life and now they have to battle against the scary monsters who are trying to take over the world. The movie is filled with a lot of drama, horror, thrills, and fun, this movie is indeed one of the best movies for kids.

Gremlins (1984)

Gremlins (1984)The American Comedy Horror movie “Gremlins” was directed by Joe Dante and was released in the year 1984. The story tells us about a young man who has a strange-looking creature named “mogwai” as a pet. It starts being creepy when “mogwai” starts producing evil creatures that transform into monsters.

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)Directed by Tim Burton, this American dark fantasy was released in 1993. The ruler of Halloween Town Jack Skellington discovers Christmas Town and now he wants to celebrate the holiday in Christmas Town. Though a very simple story, then it has been spoken is amazing. Indeed a great scary movie for the kids.

Monster House (2006)

Monster House (2006)Three kids battling against a house, which is notorious in the town as a “monster house”. The story is a beautiful one with lots of events. Nebbercracker, who lives in the “monster house”, is an alone old man who is accused of eating his wife Constance. Now, the “monster house” is eating anyone and everyone who goes near the house. Now, these three kids have to battle against the house to get rid of its monstrous actions and Nebbercracker is going to help them. The movie teaches you the power of friendship and teamwork. A must watch for all the kids.

Now here we have provided you the list of best scary movies your kids can watch. Now go ahead and grab the CDs this Halloween and give your kids the best treat ever!