Thursday, November 30, 2023

103 Favorite Movies, #89 - 80

The list of my favorite 103 movies continues. The first entry is here (103-90).

And here we go:

89:  Airplane (1980)

“Surely you must be joking.” “I’m perfectly serious, and don’t call me Shirley.” A movie that delivers the laughs and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Parts haven’t aged well but the movie doesn’t care. It’s hilarious. Available on Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

88: True Lies (1994)

The last collaboration between James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar) and Arnold Schwarzenegger, this movie tried hard to be a buddy/action-comedy flick but parts of it are too serious and some are just cringy. Best part: Harrier jets blowing up a bridge. Available on Tubi (free) and AMC+

87: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

Like Airplane, this movie goes for laughs over everything else. A bit more modern, it still has its cringy humor parts, but mostly you’ll laugh. Don’t worry about thinking, this movie isn’t about that. And the sports movie parts make you cheer to the heroes. Available on Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

86:  National Treasure (2004)

A treasure map on the back of the original Declaration of Independence? The bad guy (Sean Bean, who survived the movie) wants to steal the document. So, the hero (Nicholas Cage) decides to steal it first. As clues (many based on American history) combine to lead the adventures to a possible treasure, the tension winds up. A fun, underrated, movie you should watch. Available on Disney+

85: Mission impossible (1996)

The first Mission Impossible movie had such a convoluted plot, it takes at least two viewing to figure out just what happened. But the tension is high as Tom Cruise has to find the bad guys while evading his own agency. And the climax is amazing (if a bit unrealistic). Worth the two watches, at least. Available on AMC+ and Paramount+

84: Gattaca (1997)

I’ve only seen this movie once (unlike most the others on the list) but it’s an important film dealing with the ethics of gene manipulation in humans. Some children are born natural, others are born enhanced genetically. There is prejudice against the natural born and this leads to many issues for Ethan Hunt who wants to be an astronaut but is natural born. And natural born can't be astronauts. Available on YouTube, Apple TV, and Vudu, all paid.

83: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Based on a true story, it’s a cautionary tale of what money, drugs, and more drugs can do to a man. If only the hero had been ethical in his money making and avoided drugs, his world might not have come crashing down. Or his yacht sunk needlessly. Margo Robbie is amazing in this movie, as is Leonardo DiCaprio. Available on MGM+ and Amazon Prime Video.

82: To Have and Have Not (1944)

The film debut of Lauren Bacall (she was 19) and loosely based on a Hemmingway story. Humphry Bogart leads the cast during World War II intrigue. "You ever been stung by a dead bee?" "You know how to whistle, Steve, don't you?" A great old movie. Available on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video (paid on both).

81: Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

It was 1977 and the world needed a hero and Burt Reynolds obliged with a rebel shipping bootleg beer through the American Southeast. Sally Fields joins the crew as they race along interstate and back road, always on the lookout of "Smokey," i.e., the police. Nothing intellectual or deep, just fun and exceeding the speed limit (which was 55 mph nationally at the time). This was the number two highest grossing film of 1977. Available on AMC+ and Philo.

80: Spaceballs (1987)

Mel Brooks takes on Star Wars. While it references a few other science fiction movies such as Alien and Planet of the Apes, it's mostly a Star Wars parody. Gave us "ludicrous speed" and "They've gone plaid" (which Elon Musk used in names for his cars). Watch it with someone with a good sense of humor. Available on Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

What to you think of my list so far? Let me know in the comments below. 

Next time, 79 - 70,

Thursday, November 23, 2023

103 Favorite Movies #103 - 90

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am going to start listing my 103 favorite movies of all time. Why 103? Because there were some I just couldn't leave out.

103: Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

The only Star Trek: The Next Generation cast movie on this list and the first of five. Directed by Jonathan Frakes (who also plays First Office Riker), the parts on the ship are exciting and claustrophobic as the crew tries to stop a Borg invasion of their vessel. But the parts on the ground and rather silly. Councilor Troi drunk was funny, though. Introduces the concept of the "Borg Queen," which I've never liked but was used in a lot of Star Trek afterwards. Available on Paramount+

102: The World’s Fastest Indian (2005)

“World’s fastest what?” you may be asking. This unusual film is based on the true story of a New Zealand man (played by Anothony Hopkins) trying build the world’s fastest motorcycle and test it out at Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in 1967. Watching his culture shock of 1960s America and his efforts to build the motorcycle makes this movie strangely compelling. It's fun to watch him try to fix issues with the motorcycle. When something doesn't work that he thought would, he says, "Who came up with that stupid idea?" In the end, his Indian-brand cycle is the world’s fastest. Available for free on many sites including YouTube, Peacock, and Pluto TV. 

101: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

This third Star Trek movie with The Original Series cast is an emotional roller coaster. Kirk’s devastation at the murder of his son and the destruction of the Enterprise are both unlike any other Star Trek film. The worst part, Kirstie Alley isn’t playing Saavik anymore. Christopher Lloyd plays the Klingon commander, chewing up scenery. It was obvious he was having a great time. Available on Paramount+

100: Bullitt

Basically, this is on this list because of that chase scene, one of the best ever filmed. Otherwise, this is an interesting crime drama starring Steve McQueen. Made in 1968 San Francisco, there are bad guys and tough cops and lots of nice scenery. Watch for the real cop directing traffic outside a restaurant and a very young Robert Duvall driving a taxi. But once you watch that chase scene, there's not much else to this film. Available on Max and Amazon Prime Video.

99: The Mummy (1999)

There are no horror movies on this list. I don’t do horror. But this movie is a fun adventure with some horror elements. Brendan Fraser stars and Rachel Weisz is the cute, smart love interest. Early CGI is used, but it works and isn’t over used. Just a fun adventure film set in the 1920s. Not to be confused with the Tom Cruise disaster with the same name. Available on Hulu and Sling TV.

98: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

"What is your quest?" Irreverent, silly, and hilarious, this first feature-length movie from the Monty Python troupe is laugh-out-loud funny. From the coconuts clomped together to indicate horses to the peasant spouting Marxist ideas, it'll have you rolling on the floor with laughter. "I fart in your general direction!" Not as sacrilegious as Life of Brian or as gross as The Meaning of Life. Available on Netflix.

97: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

This movie is huge with cast of thousands. And a lot of them are stars. CGI is rampant but it’s so good you don’t care. You don’t need to watch every MCU film before you view this, but it helps. The combination of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers is amazing. The final battle is huge as they try to stop Thanos's genocidal plans. If only Star Lord (played by Chris Pratt) hadn't lost his temper… Available on Disney+

96: Charade (1963)

I don’t remember how I found this movie but I was glad I did. This is a charming film with suspense, romance, and twists. Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn star and the chemistry between them is palpable. A very enjoyable time for an old movie without shootouts or chase scenes. Available on Pluto TV and Amazon Prime Video (free).

95: Galaxy Quest (1999)

An affectionate satire of Star Trek and its fan culture, this hilarious movie is so much fun. Tim Allen (in his best role outside of the Toy Story franchise) and Sigourney Weaver star along with the always wonderful Alan Rickman. If you love or hate Star Trek, you have to watch this movie. It's hilariously funny at times. "Never give up; never surrender." Available on Paramount+

94: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

The last Original Series cast Star Trek movie. The cast is older and slower, but they still save the universe. Sulu is a captain of his own ship and arrives in the nick of time. Can there be diplomacy in the Galaxy? Or will a conspiracy ruin it all? The final space battle is amazing. This is the last movie we see Spock in (he didn't want to be in Generations). A bit marred by a couple of political statements by the filmmakers. And Klingon blood is not lavender. Available on Paramount+

93: Avengers: End Game (2019)

You thought Infinity Wars was huge? This is bigger, longer, and has more CGI. Things go from the devastation of Infinity War to hope to a sad ending. The best MCU movie so far. And boy, there are a lot of infinity stones in New York City! Available on Disney+

92: To Be or Not to Be (1983)

A comedy about the Nazi invasion of Poland and the mistreatment of Jews and gays? Yes, and it’s good. Mel Brooks is less manic as the ham leader of a theater troupe and Anne Bancroft, his real-life wife, plays his wife. Tim Matheson is a handsome Polish pilot. There’s a 1942 version with Jack Benny, but this one is the one with Mel Brooks. It's funny, touching, and maybe just a bit manic. The one criticism: the Nazis are all idiots. Evil usually isn't stupid. Available on Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video

91: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

The first and best Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Keira Knightley is beautiful, Orlando Bloom is brave, and Johnny Depp is… Johnny Depp. It never takes itself too seriously and always is fun. There are a few twists toward the end. Who thought a pirate movie would work in the 2000s? Available on Disney+

90: Speed (1994)

A bus that can’t go less than 50 mph or it’ll explode. That’s the plot of Speed. An exciting action film that launched the career of Sandra Bullock and made Keanu Reeves an action star. Just a good, fast movie. The ending is a bit anticlimactic but that’s okay. Available on AMC+ and Amazon Prime Video.

So, what do you think of my first 14? Let me know in the comments below. More will come...

Thursday, November 16, 2023

We're Not Going Faster

While internet is getting faster, humans aren't.

For millennia, the fastest humans could move on land was about 4 mph. That's the speed of a human or an animal walking. And you could probably do only 20-30 miles per day depending on your stamina or your animal's abilities. (If the animal was pulling something such as a wagon or chariot, it probably was limited even more.)

Then came the train which started out at about 10 mph. More than double walking but still slow. Yes, now they are trains that do 300 mph. 

Today, the fastest mode of travel is the jet airliner (ignoring fighter jets and private jets that are much faster but not available to the general public). They go about 550 mph. And they have since the early 1960s. In 60 years we haven't sped up much at all, especially since the Concord was grounded.

And to be honest, flying is so uncomfortable and inconvenient, I won't fly unless I have no other choice. Last time I went through a TSA checkpoint, I was so molested I thought he should have bought me dinner first.

But why aren't we going faster? There's Elon Musk's hyperloop which might be as fast at 300 mph and more convenient than air travel. And some guy says he can make a Mach 5 (3,600 mph) airplane. That's 3,700 miles per hour!

The problem is, the faster you go, the more problems you have. The SR-71's top speed is still classified but is thought to be in excess of Mach 3 (2,200 mph). And it's a very specialized airplane with a titanium-skinned fuselage. The heat built up from friction with the air is a huge challenge as speeds climb over Mach 1. 

I'd like to be able to travel faster than 550 mph. I'd also like to travel in comfort and convenience (you know, like in a car). Maybe I'm asking too much.

What do you think about the speed we travel? Do you want to go faster? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Zooming Internet

I recently upgraded my cell phone plan. I was on 2 GB with no 5G coverage for data. My new plan is unlimited data with 5G including Verizon "Ultra Wideband 5G"

I changed it because I bought a car with Apple CarPlay and it eats up a lot of bandwidth and I didn't want to go over my 2 GB limit.

Earlier this week I was in Spokane, WA to see the movie Oppenheimer. And I noticed my phone was on Ultra Wideband 5G. So I did a speed test. with the Ookla Speed Test app. The result: 1,479 Mbps download, 79.1 Mbps upload. (Should that be 1.479 Gbps?)

It seems I could download an HD movie in less than 2 seconds, if my math is correct.

On my fiber optic internet at my house, I usually get about 200 Mbps going both ways, max. Which is plenty fast. I can stream a movie while my wife is on the internet and my son is playing video games online and it's fine. But Verizon's Ultra Wideband 5G is seven time faster? What would I use that speed for? Downloading a movie onto my phone in mere moments, I guess.

Another interesting thing, since I changed my plan to unlimited, I'm using more bandwidth. I'm at just over 4 GB with no days left in the billing cycle. 

Do you have 5G on your phone? What do you use it for? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Early Adopters and EVs

Tesla Model S
I saw my first EV in July of 2000 near Los Angeles, California. It was a GM EV1. I remember being surprised by how small it was. Scary small to drive on public roads. Early models had lead-acid batteries (like the 12-volt battery in your car) and I wondered what would happen if it were ever in a wreck. Acid going everywhere, maybe?

You couldn't buy EV1s, only lease them.

I saw my next EV in August of 2013 near Boulder, Colorado. It was a Tesla Model S (the only model Tesla sold at the time). And I remember thinking that the owner was an "early adopter." And that the owner must have some bunch of money to afford it, too.

Being an early adopter has always been expensive. You buy the latest and greatest computer for big bucks, and in 3 months something better comes out, probably for less money. 

This is especially true for electric cars (EVs). I'm often seeing headlines such as "Ford adds range to its EVs" or "Tesla cuts prices of its EVs."

And then I think, "What about the poor schmucks who already bought one?"

And there are rumors of a solid-state battery coming that has about double the range of current batteries and only takes 10 minutes to charge. And it isn't affected by temperature. I'm hoping that actually happens because Washington State, where I live (I can't convince my wife to move to Idaho), is going to start in 2030 requiring all new cars to be EVs. So my next car will probably have to be an EV. When it comes to EVs, I'm not an early adopter.

What do you think about being an early adopter? What do you think about EVs and early adopters? Let me know in the comments below.