SUZANNE SISKEL AND KATHLEEN EBERT

Spring Break, 1988. Hays Kansas. I was a senior in college; Suzanne was a senior in high school. She came to Hays to spend the week with me, but spring didn’t get the memo to come. Instead, we were snowed in for the week in the middle of March. I recall trudging through waist-deep drifts with Suzanne to get to a party. That memory, and one other stick out.

We had rented two movies on VHS. They were the only forms of in-home entertainment we had, and we got our money’s worth. We are still quoting lines from one of them.

“Lucas” was the story of a shy teenage boy who gets bullied, and decides to join the football team. It was a heartwarming story, and as I write it, I realize I can recall only a few other details.

Perhaps it will be on my movie queue tonight; I am quite sure I haven’t seen it since then.

I have seen the other movie since then, and I believe I have seen it enough for one lifetime. “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” was, and still is a classic in its own right. However, it very likely will never again appear in my movie queue.

Everyone I know has a big ‘but.’ Let’s talk about your big ‘but.'”

“Listen to reason,” another character says. Pee Wee responds: “I’m listening to reason.” (Must have hand up to ear for effect.”)

I’m rolling a big donut and this snake wearing a vest…” (Pee Wee is telling another character about a dream he had.)

Jokes about the Alamo are still tossed between us in regards to this movie. If you haven’t seen it, we do still recommend it. Once, however, is likely enough.

Perhaps this week of movie-watching laid the foundation for the movie watchers we have become today…

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If you know Gail either in person or through this blog, it shouldn’t surprise you that she simply doesn’t have time to watch TV. Not even in full-on lockdown mode last year at this time. She always found constructive things to busy herself with.

Suzanne and I, however, fell prey to urge to use the lockdown to sit down and watch movies. Even as the world has started turning again, she and I still love to plant ourselves on our respective couches many evenings with our husbands and watch movies. She and her new husband were enjoying movies together before the shutdown– Hallmark movies, Lifetime movies, you get the idea. (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit again.) While I also like to watch an occasional series, she tells me that she and her hubs are committed only to each other, and are non-committal when it comes to binge-watching a series.

(Again, a little throw-up-in-my-mouth episode.) Whatever works for you, Suzanne.

We frequently share movie recommendations, because it is often difficult to decide if a movie is worth an evening of our lives. So, in honor of the iconic movie critics Siskel and Ebert, and to hopefully help all of you movie-watchers out a bit, she and I have decided to offer you our picks for movies. We will have no thumbs-down like they did; if it’s listed here, it is obviously at least one thumbs-up. No streaming information is provided, since everyone seems to have different streaming services. If it interests you, I hope you can get it!

Suzanne Siskel:

*Mean Girls–she wears pink on Wednesdays.

*Pretty in Pink–and Suzanne is pretty, too.

*Sixteen Candles: Suzanne was only 11 when I turned 16, so she is off the hook. Like the main character in this movie, however, nearly everyone forgot my 16th birthday–even Gail.

*Shawshank Redemption–a classic beyond words

*Identity Thief: anything with Melissa McCarthy is a hit, Jason Bateman is a hit, too.

*Game Night: Jason is a hit in this movie, too. Every movie, really.

*The Long Kiss Goodnight: an action thriller I haven’t yet seen.

*Thelma and Louise: an ongoing classic, Susan Sarandon shines, as always.

*Terms of Endearment: funny, sappy, classic.

*Arachnophobia: don’t watch if you don’t like spiders.

*Needful Things: Stephen King. No need to say any more.

*Overboard: one of Mom’s favorites, too.

Kathleen Ebert:

*Pay It Forward is my all-time favorite movie. It changed my life. Enough said.

*Groundhog Day is good for any day of the year, and perhaps every day of the year if you like it as much as I do.

*Bad Moms/Bad Moms Christmas: We saw these together in the theater when they came out. Crude, but hilarious. Carla was our favorite, and for a time after, if we were faced with a dilemma, we would simply ask ourselves, “What would Carla do?” Susan Sarandon shines again in the second film as Carla’s mom.

*Bad Words: We seem to be drawn to movies with “Bad” in the title…or maybe movies with Jason Bateman. Another crude movie, but with a good message. We are spelling bee freaks (Under Our Spell, September 1st 2019), so this one was perfect for us.

*Akeela and the Bee: Another awesome spelling bee movie; family friendly.

*Twister–a must for anyone living in Tornado Alley.

*Bruce Almighty: makes you laugh, and makes you think. As a speech therapist, my favorite is the newsroom scene. You’ll know why when you see it, if you haven’t already.

*Evan Almighty: the kind-of sequel to Bruce Almighty.

Dolores Claiborne and Misery: These Stephen King classics are made unforgettable by Kathy Bates.

Dirty Dancing: needs no explanation. It was our mom’s favorite.

There are many more movies we have watched in the last year, and I can’t remember most of them. My husband and I recently watched two great movies, both based in India, and both are highly recommended. White Tiger is a drama that illustrates the social structure/caste system in India, and Lion is based on a true story about a five-year old boy who gets stuck on a train and becomes lost a thousand miles from home. He is adopted out, and struggles with knowing he left his family behind as he grows up. Have your Kleenex ready.

Unlike Suzanne, I have committed myself to watching a few series, including:
Breaking Bad, The Queen’s Gambit, Bloodline, Dead to Me, Ozark, and Goliath. All are highly recommended, if you want to give up sizeable chunks of time.

Spring is springing, the days are longer, and the outdoors beckon. We are answering the call, but still make time for our beloved movie-watching. If you have any movie suggestions for us, and for everyone else reading, please post them. If you have any suggestions for convincing Gail to sit down and watch a movie once in awhile, please post that, too. She simply needs to listen to reason.

Thanks and happy movie-watching!

HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY

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HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY

“What if there is no tomorrow?  There wasn’t one today.”  Bill Murray as Phil Connors in Groundhog Day.

“I find my inner peace, my quiet self at the movies alone.  I stretch out and I smile to myself in the dark.  The first few times, I was scared I would look like a loser, at the movies by myself.  But now, I’m like, ‘Yea, I’m doing this,’ complete with popcorn and snacks.  It’s my therapy.  It works.”  –my friend Rhonda, on the joys of going to the movies alone, which she does several times a week.

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I am crushed.  I sat down to hopefully start a marathon of watching Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day, and I could find it exactly nowhere on cable TV.  So, like a modern, self-respecting American woman, I looked it up online.  Surely a cable station—TBS, Comedy Central, etc.– was playing it nonstop all day today, Saturday, February 2nd, 2019, but, no.  Before I panicked, I checked Netflix and Amazon Prime—I subscribe to both; surely one of them would offer it in their lineup for free streaming.

But, no.

Herein lies the quandary:  I have seen it at least ten times.  Do I invest $3.99 to see it yet again?

This year marks the 26th anniversary of one of my all-time favorite movies, in honor of one of my all-time favorite (obscure) holidays.  In 2006, it was added to the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”  I totally agree.

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Groundhog day is observed by both the United States and Canada, with its origins in Pennsylvania among the Pennsylvania Dutch.   The earliest records of this were a simple mention made in a diary of a local resident dated February 2nd, 1840.   In 1886, a local Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania newspaper reported the observance of this date, whereby “the beast has not yet seen its shadow.”  The following year, it was made an official celebration.

Prior to the movie release, the crowds in Punxsutawney numbered around 2,000 for this celebration.    After the movie release in 1993, however, the crowds rose to about 10,000.  The population of Punxsutawney is around 6,000 people.

Most traditions, no matter how illogical and non-sensical they may seem typically have roots in deeper traditions, and Groundhog Day is no exception.  The observation, according to online sources, appears to be an enhanced version of the weather lore that the badger is the predicting animal.  February 2nd is the Christian observance of Candlemas Day, and legend has it that clear weather on that day forebodes a prolonged winter.  The groundhog—also known as the woodchuck—became the preferred weather prognosticator.

Typically, the groundhog sees his shadow, and there are six more weeks of winter predicted.  Official reports indicate he didn’t see it this year, so we will have an earlier spring.  Statistically, he is right about 40% of the time.

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I love a good movie.  I love to watch good movies repeatedly.  I have a fantasy of being trapped in a hotel room, all by myself, with nothing else to do but watch movies.  It has yet to come true, but I keep hoping.  When I am at home, I don’t spend a lot of time watching movies, I always feel I should be doing something more productive.  However, while I was at home alone this weekend, I got back on Netflix and did a little more binge-watching…

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Groundhog Day is certainly one of my favorite movies.  I love the humor, but deeper than that, I love that Phil Connors, the main character, after failing to escape the time loop he is stuck in that forces him to re-live Groundhog Day multiple times, realizes he can make this work for him, and for those around him.  He first tries to work it to his advantage by over-indulging in food, drink and merriment, but always wakes up to the same day all over again.  He even tries suicide to escape, but even that sends him back to the same day all over again.  So, he makes it work for good, not evil.  He gets multiple chances to fix his mistakes, and turn them into acts of kindness and generosity.

If we could all be so lucky to have that opportunity with our own mistakes.

Another one of my favorites is Pay It Forward. If you haven’t seen it, give it a chance to show you how powerful one person’s actions can be, and the ripple effect they can have.  Just be sure to have your tissues ready.

Two of our mom’s favorite movies were Fletch with Chevy Chase, an 80’s comedy, and Dirty Dancing.  Quite a combination.  She also liked Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, and Mannequin with Andrew McCarthy.  Another interesting combination.  I don’t recall our dad watching movies, but he did have a few television series he liked, especially Chuck Norris in Walker, Texas Ranger.

I polled Gail and Suzanne regarding their favorite movies.  Suzanne, hands down, and without hesitation, responded: “My all-time favorite is ‘The Birds’ by Alfred Hitchcock.”  Hmm.. I found this interesting, so I asked why.

I guess because I enjoy watching people get their eyes pecked out.” I found this quite disturbing, but consider the source.  I reported this to Gail, and she, too, likes The Birds.  I simply had to laugh.  You don’t know my sisters as well as I do, so please take all this with a grain of salt.  They are harmless, as evidenced by their other favorites:

Suzanne:  “I also really like ‘Terms of Endearment’ and ‘Sixteen Candles.’”

Gail:  “One of my favorites is also ‘Catch and Release,’ with Jennifer Garner and Timothy Olyphant.  You know, him.  HIMmmmmmm…  She also likes Top Gun for the male actor as well.  You know, him.  HIMmmmmmm

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The American movie industry has been a staple of our entertainment economy.  During the Great Depression, the movie industry suffered, just as nearly every other industry did.  However, Americans spent their hard-earned fifteen cents to escape the reality of their excruciating poverty for just an hour or two, with 60-70 million Americans seeing a movie in the theater every week.  Even during these hard times, it was worth it to that many people.

“The content of the motion picture still was designed for escape, the majority reflecting the tastes of tired or jaded adults seeking a never-never land of luxury and melodrama, sex and sentiment.  –Dixton Wector, historian.

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We have a low-key evening planned for the Super Bowl tonight.  While my husband and son will be watching the game, I am planning on delving into the movie minds of my sisters, and watch The Birds.  I have never seen it, and if they like it, perhaps I might, too.  It will be a new experience.

I didn’t get to watch Groundhog Day yesterday.  Time got away, and while I wasn’t opposed to paying $3.99 to see it online for the sake of the occasion, I didn’t get around to it.  I will have to shell out $3.99 for The Birds, but for this glimpse inside my sisters’ movie minds, it will be worth it.

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I rarely go to the theater to see movies.  Suzanne and I have seen a few together since she moved to my small city, but we should see more.

If you feel the desire, take yourself out for a movie date, just like Rhonda does several times a week.  It would likely be time well spent.

Or, whatever you enjoy doing, take the time.  Unlike the main character in Groundhog Day, we don’t get the chance to go back and re-do yesterday.  We don’t get time back after it is gone.  So make it count.1034921601.jpg