Cowboys and their Country

My mother inherited an obsession with westerns from her father, my Papaw Sam. He has never been a big talker, perhaps since he’s not a great listener on account of his bad hearing.  Most the time he nods or he smiles when you ask him a question like a child who knows you want something just not what.

But his ears perked up, his hearing miraculously improved, and his butt was poised on the edge of that Tahoe seat the entire three weeks that he, my grandmother, my aunt, my mother, and I road-tripped around west. We saw wild buffalo, rolling plains the extended pass Da Vinci’s vanishing point, and deserts the colored under a high sun like a child’s coloring box.

Since I’ve been home from college this past week, I’ve watched two westerns. Of course my mother participated in the watching, which made it all the more fun. The first was William Wyler’s BIG COUNTRY with Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, and Burl Ives. The opening scene starts in the threshold of a homestead. The camera moves out and the screen widens the take in the vast color and emptiness of the west, the Big Country. My mother sitting in the wingback chair next to me sighs, “It’s that pretty.” A similar shot opens THE SEARCHERS, a John Wayne classic based on the book I just finished by Alan Le May. I like the Duke in the 1969 TRUE GRIT, but I’d give him his Oscar for his portrayal of Ethan (Amos in the book) Edwards.

The west is truly beautiful, and as I contemplate where in the world I’d like to end up I can’t rule out west of the Mississippi. Seeing Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and the arches of Arizona made me appreciate the landscape and made me appreciate on a deeper level what the wide focus of those good ole American movies were trying to capture. As my aunt said repeatedly on our summer trip two years ago, somethings in life and in the movies are just unbelievable.

“I Gotta Get Back to Hogwarts”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 opens in theaters on July 15th, just 85 days away! In equal parts, I’m excited for this film and dreading this film. Every time Harry Potter has a big release, I turn up the dorkhood. Book releases, film openings—I’m there early, I’m there tirelessly smiling, and I’m there normally dressed a Harry Potter t-shirt. I guess I’d more of a hardcore dork if I dressed up like a character or at least painted a lighting scar on my forehead . . . I might pull out all the stops in July. Stay tuned for that! But a part of me sad that this will be my last Harry Potter opening. I’m not ready for it to be over.

With graduation so close I can taste it, I feel the need to conjure up my own patronus. As my high school career ended and shifted into college mode, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was there in 784 pages of childhood comfort. Now that I’m free falling into adulthood—I DON’T WANNA GROW UP—the last installment of the film series is being released. The only thing that will be left for me after that is Harry Potter World at Universal Studios.

And you know, a lot of people don’t get the Harry Potter buzz. It’s nothing like the Twilight hype, and if you would like to point out any ridiculous similarities, I’ll punch you in the nose. My mother, for one, doesn’t quite understand why her 22-year-old daughter turns into a heap of excited giggles when Harry Potter comes up. Last night, as I hugged Baby Mac to my chest watching “A Very Potter Musical,” she wouldn’t have understood.

I guess I’m behind the times—“A Very Potter Musical” is old Youtube news—but it still managed to defeat the evils that are Crusade primary sources and the woes of reading one more page of Virginia Woolf.  These real world evils must be revisited, probably with a cup of coffee later tonight, but for an evening I revisited Hogwarts and my favorite literary characters, and I got super excited for the last movie! It. Will. Be. Epic.

I stumbled upon “A Very Potter Musical” in an Entertainment Weekly interview with Glee’s Darren Criss. He wrote the music for the musical before he landed his role on Glee as the heartthrob Blain. Below is an excellentnontraditional performance of the “Very Potter Musical” opening number.

On a side note, two non traditional movies have made my list this week. “A Very Potter Musical,”which I think it’s worth of seeing, and the Lifetime movie “William and Kate.” Next week is the Royal Wedding. So excited for that, too! Today I’m going to try to fit in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ” to make penance of these seemingly sacrilegious movies. “Oh, my Rowling!”

First 100 days of watching a movie every day

Today is the 100th day of 2011, and just guess how many movies I’ve watched this year.

Skeptics may try to say this English Major is incapable of counting, but I have watched 100 movies I’ve never seen before! To commemorate this first leg of my new year’s resolution I would like to take a moment and highlight my ten favorites so far!

1. Ocean’s Eleven (1960)—My first new movie, watched on my last day in Barrington. That morning I was packed and ready to loud the car when I decided to be spontaneous, catching a train to downtown. It was a good day, a very good day. And then I watched this original with Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra; it was the perfect ending to the day, and a wonderful beginning to my crazy resolution.

2. Schindler’s List (1993)—Not too much I can say about this film. It was touched, I cried a little, and I can’t believe that I turned 22 years old without having seen, what I now believe, to be Liam Neeson’s and Steven Spielberg’s greatest movie ever.

3. Amadeus (1984)—This one made me laugh after a bad day, and gave me a richer appreciation for Mozart and for God-given talents.

4. Bright Star (2009)—Keats. “I almost with we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days—three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.” English major swooning, right here.

5. The King’s Speech (2010)—My Oscar pick! This movie was fantastic. I sat in the movie theater with my friend Liz, my legs bunched up in front of me as I gasped and giggled. Amazing acting, amazing story, and great cinematography.

6. Adjustment Bureau (2011)—A very clever film, that’s for sure. Perhaps a bit on the weak side on plot, but I love Matt Damon and his character, I loved the 1950s fashion, and Emily Blunt was lovely.

7. The Fugitive (1993)—I watched this one of St. Patrick’s Day, cheering and yelling at Harrison Ford throughout. Very suspenseful!

8. The Great Dictator (1940)—I about laughed until I cried! It was a smart comedy; one that I sadly wonder reached the funny bone of my generation. And how daring to make fun of a powerful world leader with such unashamed honesty and bluntness!

9. Patton (1970)—I love World War 2 movies; a lot of people do, that’s why there are so many of them. Saving Private Ryan (1998), Spielberg’s second greatest film, is easily my favorite WW2 movie, but Patton has its great qualities, too. I really like Karl Malden—an actor whose movies I have never seen before this year!!—the opening scene with George C. Scott as General Patton standing in front of a screen-wide American flag addressing the audience, and the movie’s score.

10. Morning Glory (2010)—This should be my life. I am Rachel McAdams’ character, I want Harrison Ford to be my best friends, and I wouldn’t mind having my very own Patrick Wilson. But serious—for two hours with Heather and Kelsey, I laughed out loud without humility, repeating lines and rewinding the DVD like I was my cousin Reid to re-watch scenes. It was so funny and gave me such a good feeling.

The next 100 days, and hopefully the next 100 movies, will see me a college graduate and an intern at TT Patton in Barrington. This little adventure of mine is time consuming and difficult, but I look forward to the stories I’ve yet to see in brilliant, film form, and I look forward to the friends that decided to stomach my nerdiness and partake in watching one with me.