Late to the Fan Party

I remember when I was younger I was introduced to two franchises with zero prior knowledge: Harry Potter, and The X-Files.  Back in 2001 when The Philosopher’s Stone was released in theatres, I had zero knowledge of the franchise – I simply never grew up reading those books.  I guess it just wasn’t on my radar.

Same thing with the X-Files – my friends in high school got me watching it in order to start a website – and we started with 8th season, ostensibly the worst of the series, the One Without Mulder.  I went into it without any knowledge of it beyond remembering being scared of an earlier episode that may or may not have something to do with cockroaches – I’m really not sure at this point, because I don’t think I’ve watched it since.

The point I’m trying to get to is that the experience of going into these franchises blind was pretty great.  Since then I’ve read all of the HP books, seen the films, and watched quite a few X-Files episodes.  But my first experiences with these franchises were without any previous info and my friends got to laugh at me at some of my questions and observations.  It was fun!

I miss that feeling.  It’s hard to re-create too, especially since there are references to just about every major franchise (literary or visual) online every day.  And I listen to a lot of pop culture podcasts, so somehow, somewhere, little nuggets find their way into my head and just sit in the back of my mind.

I almost had that feeling with Game of Thrones, but it’s not a show I’ve watched with other people.  I share the ‘new’ experience with David Chen on the podcast A Cast of Kings, but that’s the closest I’ve come.  But the feeling of experiencing a new series of books or TV or film isn’t the same thing I’m referring to; it’s hard to describe.

I’ll try to give an example: I really want to read the James A. Corey novels starting with Leviathan Wakes; there’s a TV series that started last year called The Expanse that I’d watch after as well.  But I don’t have anyone in my circle of friends to watch with or have them watch my mind explode at whatever plot twists may turn up.  Luckily, I still know nothing about the series, so there’s still a chance I could share that experience through this blog.

What series or franchise did you discover blind that you ended up enjoying?  What about one that you absolutely hated despite hearing it being talked up a lot?

Coming up this Thursday: Monthly Podcast Update 

Top Baseball Movies

The World Baseball Classic has officially started, and Spring Training has been underway for weeks now.  I can’t think of a better time to talk about my personal top baseball movies.

Other than being about baseball, there’s no real criteria for how I’ve ranked these.  They range from comedy to drama, and the genre doesn’t really affect how much I like the film.

Moneyball

I read the book well before the movie was announced; I think I wasn’t the only one just a little bit skeptical of whether or not an adaptation would be successful.  A lot of liberties were taken to be sure, but the movie works.  The characters are great and visually, it looks gorgeous.  You can’t help but be romantic about baseball.

Major League I & II

I watched these out of order, first seeing Major League II with my brother in a hotel room when it came on TV.  I understood none of the jokes that weren’t obvious, but years later I re-watch both of these films often.

Field of Dreams

You could probably group this one thematically with Moneyball if you were planning a baseball movie marathon.  Everyone remembers “If you build it, they will come” and it’s pretty much a movie being entirely romantic about baseball.

A League of Their Own

“There’s no crying in baseball!”  Another one I watched as a kid, and another one where some of the jokes went over my head.  A fantastic telling of the women that played baseball during the war.  Did not realize until much later in life that Bill Pullman (aka Lone Star) was in this film.

Angels in the Outfield

I’ve watched this movie countless times, and even today it holds up.  I recently discovered that there was actually an earlier black & white film of the same name that centered around the Pittsburgh Pirates.  I have yet to track it down, but would love to watch it.

42

I’ve got a few issues with this movie, but overall I think it’s great.  The actors buy in 100%, except for Harrison Ford, who buys in 120%.

Trouble With the Curve

This isn’t the greatest movie on the list, but has its charm.  Clint Eastwood plays an aging baseball scout going on One Last Road Trip with his daughter.  Justin Timberlake is also in this for some reason?  The funny thing about this movie is that it feels like a direct response from the baseball scouting world against Moneyball, where the villains of the movie rely solely on computer data and analysis instead of the good old eye test.

Mr. Baseball

I watched this one recently – I’d never seen it, even though we had it recorded on VHS.  I thought it was a really great “clash of cultures” film that happened to be about baseball.

Bull Durham

I think I’ve only watched this once, but it’s definitely a good film.  I need to mark this one down for a re-watch.

Rookie of the Year

The prevailing memory of this baseball movie for me is renting it (on VHS, remember, I’m 33) for a sleepover party when I was 9 or 10.  Daniel Stern gets his shot at putting in 120% in this one.  Hot ice!

Basketball

Not technically a baseball movie in the literal sense, it is however a spiritual baseball movie.  From the creators of South Park, this is a great one to watch that picks on some of the weirder aspects of sports.

Bad News Bears(remake)

This remake wasn’t all that great – it was basically Billy Bob Thornton picking up his Bad Santa role and plopping it into the timeless kids movie classic.  But for what it is, it’s not bad.  It earns a spot on my list, if only because I watched it.

 

What’s your favourite baseball movie?  Or sports movie in general?  

 

 

Filmspotting Madness 2017: Pantheon Challenge

One of the long running podcasts I listen to is Filmspotting. The brief summary is that two hosts review films, but that’s not germane to this post.

In the past few years, they’ve run what’s known as Filmspotting Madness, their take on the popular March Madness NCAA Basketball tournament. They’ve pit actors, directors, and films against each other to determine the last one standing. I don’t normally take part, but this year I will.

This year, they are putting movies that are in the Pantheon against each other. The Pantheon is basically the “hall of fame” of movies for Filmspotting. 

There are some pretty tough choices in the brackets, and some of them are Oscar Best Picture winners too (oh yeah, that’s on tonight!). It might even inspire a movie night playlist if you’re not a fan of watching the Oscars.