Story Telling 101

The best story tellers paint a picture in few words.  They illustrate the situation with vivid colors and active verbs.  They draw you in and capture your imagination.  They engage you with each and every fascinating detail.

The best movies do the same.  Every angle, every shot, every sound strengthens the story and allows the viewer to experience the highs and lows of the characters and follow the progression of the narrative to its final climax and resolution.

Matthew McConaughey as Coach Lengyel works his magic to rebuild a devastated football program.
Matthew McConaughey as Coach Lengyel works his magic to rebuild a devastated football program.

The 2006 film, We Are Marshall is a good example of a movie that takes you along for that ride.  In the final play of the pivotal football game, we sit on the edge of our collective seat to learn if the player will catch the ball and save the day for the team, the coach and the school.  But the film makers didn’t just set a camera in the bleachers and let the play run.  No.  They tell the story of the entire year in that one play.

The scene requires two minutes and 44 seconds, from the lineup over the football to the award of the team ball.  And in that short amount of time, editors place 104 different clips.  They tell the story from every angle.  They give you a close up, a wide shot, from under the ball on the line, from the stands.  The film makers take you back in time.  They return you to the game and they help you celebrate the win, moving you from anticipation, to grief, to celebration.

The best story-tellers can do that.  The best movies can do the same.  We Are Marshall is just such a movie.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Again

One of my favorite films for Christmas is Jim Carey and Ron Howard’s version of the Grinch.

Yes, I know that it was a SPLAT on Rotten Tomatoes.  I know that it still gets painful reviews each year. I know that children cry when they are asked to watch the film.

But I like it.  It makes me laugh.  And for my family, it is the perfect movie to watch this season.  Jim Carey isn’t any Jimmy Stewart and the Grinch isn’t any Wonderful Life but it still remains a classic in this house.

Let the Movies Begin

My actual spreadsheet to help track this year’s Christmas Movie Experience.

Yes, yes…I love movies.  I think I’ve made this perfectly clear.  But a good Christmas movie is even more special to me and there is nothing I enjoy more than pulling out my box of videos and getting ready for the season by watching one movie a day.

This year, I’ve made an Excel spread sheet listing the best seasonal movies of all time.  As I watch each one, I’ll be able to check off the list and make sure I make my way through all 35 videos before Christmas day ends.  In the process, I will ensure world peace and seasonal harmony across this great land.  Don’t ever say I’m not a team player.

Sure, my goal is lofty but we must dream big.  Right?


Let The Countdown Begin

In my world, Thanksgiving is the kick-off event for the next few weeks of Christmas cheer.

Midnight Clear: One of my favorite Christmas albums of all time.

I’ve loaded over 1,000 songs on my Spotify play list. I have everything from the Jackson 5 to John Denver.  I’ll be listening to music that ranges from the beautiful melodies of Penny Rodriguez to the chipper chatter of the Chipmunks.  I’ll jam to 243 versions of Silent Night and Frosty the Snowman.  When I’m done, I’ll start all over again.

The perfect movie to kick off the Christmas count-down.

I’ve made the list of the best Christmas movies of all time and pulled the Christmas videos and DVD’s from the attic and dusted them off for the marathon that begins today with one of the best:  White Christmas.  I’ll move on to the Christmas greats of Scrooged and Die Hard and then settle on the classics like Charlie Brown and A Wonderful Life.

It’s been a long year and I need a little Christmas Cheer.  I’ll do everything I can to make it happen…even if it means overloading on some music, holiday decorations and cheesy movies.  I’ll get into the Christmas Spirit, at any cost.