Gimme 5: Favorite Film Animals!

What do they say? Never do a movie with a child or an animal? I suppose this old adage stems from the fear of being upstaged by an adorable little girl in pigtails or a cute, furry creature. But there have been some wonderful movies centering on animals – and those films where an animal just has a few scenes, but steals the show! For decades we have had scores of unforgettable animals (Toto, Bambi, Spielberg’s Great White); many woven into the fabric of cinema history. To celebrate Halloween, I was going to do a “scary movie” Top 5, but I used that one up when the “Gimme 5” feature just started – so I chose this instead. I want all you movie/animal lovers out there to try this one – if you don’t, I’m calling PETA.


I will start…

1. Otis the Pug & Milo the Cat (1989)
(this should come as no shock to anyone familiar with my site. These two cuties made the best of friends though)
2. Elsa the Lioness (Born Free, 1966)
(Love the score to this film, but Elsa is the movie. Watching a human couple raise this orphan lion cub is a marvel to watch)
3. Virgil the Chimpanzee (Project X, 1987)
(this little guy breaks my heart. I always have a tough time watching this film – mainly because of his adorable facial expressions)
4. Dumbo the Elephant (1941)
(those blue eyes, that sweet disposition, those awesome ears! Tell me him being cradled on his mamma’s trunk while she is incarcerated doesn’t break your heart — and I’ll tell you that you’re without a soul)
5. King Kong (1933)
(The mighty king of ’em all…I used to watch this every year they played it on TV around Thanksgiving time. A superb film)

Now It’s Your Turn!!!

Gimme 5: Clint Favorites!

The name — is Clint. An indisputable living legend and at 80 years old, his new film, Hereafter (starring Matt Damon) opens nationwide today. A 4-time Oscar winner, Clint Eastwood has done it all…actor, producer, composer, and filmmaker. His 35+ year relationship with Warner Brothers Studios has been beyond reproach and, like a fine wine, he only seems to be getting better with age. I recently posted my favorite directors in the “15 Directors Meme,” and I had to include Mr. Eastwood for his diverse canon of impressive work. I must admit that I hadn’t really thought of him as being one of our greatest directors, but with films like Mystic River, Bird, Unforgiven, and Letters From Iwo Jima, he is simply too talented to ignore.

Simply put, Eastwood is a Hollywood staple…an artist who broke into TV in the 1950’s before starring in the spaghetti western, A Fistful of Dollars (1964). I always look forward to seeing his movies and this week, I’d like to celebrate the man by asking you to share your 5 Favorite Clint Flicks – ones he starred in or directed…or both! With 60+ acting credits & 31 films behind the camera, there are plenty to choose from! So go ahead…make my day, and


I Will Start…


1. Absolute Power (1997)
(I love this one! Clint is a lifelong thief who is witness to a murder involving US President, Gene Hackman. Great stuff!)
2. Unforgiven (1992)
(Unlike any western you will ever see; his performance here is grand. His direction, masterful)
3. A Perfect World (1993)
(Very underrated. Eastwood is a US Marshal hunting down an escaped convict – Kevin Costner in one of his greatest roles)
4. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
(I saw this before I heard the buzz & it completely shocked me. A warm, powerful, & at times, humorous film. A mighty, unforgettable work)
5. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966)
(The final installment of the “Dollars” trilogy, Clint is dynamic as “Blondie,” one of 3 gunslingers competing to find a buried fortune…a classic!)

Now It’s YOUR Turn!!!


Gimme 5: Sweeping Epics!

According to Wikipedia, the epic film is one “that emphasizes human drama on a grand scale.” They are more ambitious in scope, have high production budgets, and usually have a much longer running time. From historical epics (The Birth of A Nation and Lawrence of Arabia) to war epics (Patton and El Cid) to romantic epics (Out of Africa and Doctor Zhivago), Hollywood has been making them for decades. I will try not to be repetitive in my film choices here (or else I would certainly put The Godfather films as epics) and Woody Allen doesn’t make these kind of movies, so sadly, no Woody on this “Gimme 5.” I will try and list my favorites of those most commonly viewed as a “saga” or “epic.” Really, the definition is up to you. So for this week, I am asking you to think big, think saga, think glorious and grandiose — and



I Will Start…

1. Fanny and Alexander (1982)
(not your typical “epic,” but Bergman’s 312-minute autobiographical film is everything that movies should be)
2. Reds (1981)
(Warren Beatty’s romantic epic is gorgeous from beginning to end)
3. The Ten Commandments (1956)
(Cecil DeMille’s last film; I’ve seen this story of Moses so many times & it never wears on me)
4. Braveheart (1995)
(Mel Gibson’s retelling of William Wallace’s story is a cinematic triumph. Freedom!!!)
5. Gone With the Wind (1939)
(I know it’s cliché, but there is a reason for it. And yes, I do love this outstanding achievement)

Now It’s YOUR Turn!!!

Gimme 5: Toe-Tappin’ Musicals!

I know that as a student of the theatre, I tend to pay more attention to staged plays than I do the genre of the musical. Not this week though! Despite what some may think of my personal tastes, I do enjoy a good musical filled with some memorable tunes. The problem is that, in my opinion, there aren’t too many out there — especially ones that have been made into quality movies. At least, that has been the case for the past few years. If you wasted your time with the disastrous adaptations of Rent or The Phantom of the Opera, you know what I mean. The MGM musicals of the 50’s they ain’t! Nonetheless, there have been quite a few good ones — from the old RKO flicks to The King of Siam to, well…South Park. So I am hoping that you share your own favorites here and:


Here Are Mine…

1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
(Really…does it get any better than this one?)
2. My Fair Lady (1964)
(Despite the last 2 minutes of this film, I always find this Pygmalion adaptation to be an absolute delight!)
3. Top Hat (1935)
(Classic Fred & Ginger. Give me this on a rainy weekend day and some take-out…and I’m all set)
4. The Commitments (1991)
(One of the best films about music I have ever seen. Tremendous soundtrack)
5. Guys and Dolls (1955)
(OK, so I’m a bit biased here. But it’s Marlon…singing!!! And he does a great job opposite Sinatra)

I feel that I must give honorable mentions to: Dancer in the Dark and Beauty and the Beast

Now It’s YOUR Turn!!!

Gimme 5: Mind-Blowing Sci-Fi Flicks!

I realize that I don’t give science-fiction films their due on this website. We all have our own favorite genres though, and science-fiction has never been one of my favorites, so my knowledge in this area is not as expansive as other types of films. But I always try to keep an open mind and don’t immediately reject them (case in point: I thought the best film of last year was a science-fiction film…). And though I certainly respect the artists behind these highly imaginative tales, I never really got into any of the Star Treks, Jurassic Parks, or even the Alien series (I know, I know). But I know many movie-lovers and film bloggers can’t get enough science-fiction, so I thought to get your input on your Top 5 Science-Fiction Films. I hope to get a lot of feedback on this one — if for no other reason than because of my limited familiarity with the genre. Based on your recommendations, I can put them in my rental queue and give them a shot.
So start the countdown, get ready for lift-off (how lame is that intro?!) and —


I will start…

1. Blade Runner (R. Scott)
(despite the hokey narration, there is no denying how brilliant this film is. Gorgeous art direction and camera work here)
2. The Matrix (the Wachowski Brothers)
(A triumph of a screenplay and still seems ahead of its time)
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (S. Kubrick)
(perhaps the gold-standard of all sci-fi films — a revolutionary work)
4. Metropolis (F. Lang)
(The design & effects of this futuristic society are still wondrous to look at, considering this is a relic from German Expressionism movement)
5. District 9 (N. Blomkamp)
(I was so surprised at how much I loved this movie. Brilliant storytelling & profound/subtle social commentary)

Now It’s YOUR Turn!!!

Gimme 5: Dream Dinner Invites!

After a one-week hiatus, the “Gimme 5” is back & ready for your feedback! Reminiscent of the IFC program “Dinner for Five” (hosted by Jon Favreau) where celebrities sat around eating, drinking and sharing their stories about projects past and present, I thought it would be a fun and interesting question to ask you — who is your dream guest list if you had the choice of having five Hollywood celebrities over to eat, drink and be merry with. The artists can be dead or alive. Ideally, they should be five people you consider fascinating and would want to spend an evening with.

So…Who Is Coming To Dinner???


Here Is My Guest List…

#1. Marlon Brando
(not only my all-time favorite actor, but a fascinating & complex human being. I loved hearing him speak)
#2. Jackie Gleason
(he would probably drink everyone under the table, but he has always been one of my heroes…and oh, so talented)
#3. Charles Chaplin
(I don’t think he & Brando would speak to one another, but he is one of the handful of geniuses in the history of cinema)
#4. John Cassavetes
(A true maverick and the father of independent film; I could listen to him for hours)
#5. Woody Allen
(my only invitee still living; I would have SO MANY questions to ask!!!)

Now It’s YOUR Turn!!!

Magic Lantern Milestone: My 100th Post!!!

So here it is! Magic Lantern Film’s first real milestone — my 100th post on this website!!! I thought I would take a moment and reflect on my mighty blog and share some thoughts with you. First, as you know, I have always had a tremendous love for film. Ever since I was little, I have had an immense passion for theatre and motion pictures. But that isn’t what compelled me to start this website. I never even really gave the idea much thought, if any at all. Last year, I was inspired by a friend of mine who posted his “Top 10 Horror Films of the Decade” on his personal movie blog. He had posted it on Facebook and I gave it a read. I never looked at a film blog before this. I thought, “That’s pretty cool. I would love to start my own, especially as I tend to have rather loud opinions of my own on anything movie-related.” So I asked some questions, created a WordPress account, and wrote my very first post on December 26, 2009The 10 Best Films of the Decade (2000-2009).

I didn’t write another post until February, exactly two months later. I had no followers, of course (with the exception of a couple of close friends and family members). I didn’t realize at the time that it was something I wanted to keep up on a semi-regular basis. For this second post, I wrote about my personal thoughts on the nominations for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. It wasn’t until April 2010 that I really began to immerse myself into this blog. I started learning a bit more about WordPress and graphics and such; I began to write movie reviews and add other features to the site (movie polls, and the weekly “Gimme 5” feature that was given to me by Raul Duke). I saw that a few of the other sites had Podcasts, so I thought to do something a bit different. I started my own Video Web Rants to try to do the same thing, but on a more personal level (I need to get back to doing that more often and I certainly will, especially as the Oscar race begins to heat up). I started finding other film blogs and reading their opinions. I had no idea that there were so many movie bloggers out there! An entire sub-culture of people who have the same passion for movies as I do — and we communicate regularly on each other’s sites. All of these terrific movie blogs with voices of their own — all intelligent, creative, distinct, and pretty damn good writers. It has been my pleasure to get to know all of these movie lovers a bit via cyberspace. I won’t name them all, but my BlogRoll lists a good number of these excellent film blogs and the knowledgeable people behind them.

The blog takes up a good deal of my time and very often I get frustrated, wondering why I am even doing this. I don’t get paid (yet). The audience is a bit limited. I could be doing any number of other things. But then I get a few comments on a particular post, or people chime in on a weekly “Gimme 5” and it all seems worth it. I love going to the movies…I love writing about movies; I enjoy creating these Top 10 Lists, despite how much time it takes to research and write it all out.

It is also amazing to see just how many visitors the Magic Lantern Film Blog gets. Since March 2010, the number of visits to the site has grown exponentially each and every month — and it has continued to grow. That is very encouraging to me and puts a smile on my face when I see the statistics. I hope that trend continues. I also hope to keep adding to the site, bit by bit. A few goals I have for the near future are (1) to hire someone (much more knowledgeable than me) to create a new layout to the site and make it look much more appealing (2) to be linked to sites such as Amazon, Netflix and such where readers can make purchases (3) to produce the video web rants on a regular basis with much higher quality (4) connect to even more film bloggers and their sites, and (5) to continue the trend of having more and more people find the blog and to find it interesting enough to keep coming back to it.

So that is it! 100 posts. Sounded like a round enough number to resemble some sort of minor accomplishment. I hope to get through the next 100 in much quicker fashion. Thank you to everyone who has visited the site and many, many thanks to those who have bookmarked it and continue to read on a regular basis. As always, I would love to hear from you — your own thoughts and opinions on writing a blog, or any honest thoughts you have about this one in particular. I am always looking for constructive criticism to help make this site even better. Any questions you have, I’ll take those too.

Thanks again!!!

Gimme 5: Awesome Sports Flicks!

Ah, yes! You can smell it in the air…that special time of year has come and the new NFL Football season is finally upon us, with last night’s Saints/Vikings game (God, I hate Brett Favre) kicking off the festivities! I know a few weeks ago I came up with my own Top 15 list of what I consider to be the greatest sports films ever made (click here to see the Almighty list) — but what I failed to do was get YOUR opinions on what your favorites are, as there are certainly many to pick from. Two things in life I have great passion for — movies and sports. It’s great when the two are put together to make an extraordinary, inspiring film — and this week, I’d like you to GIMME 5 of Your Favorite Sports Flicks! No surprises with my Top 5, as I will simply stick with the five I chose for my earlier list…this one is all about you and I wanted to time it right with the new football season! So huddle up, put your gear on, and…


Here are my Top 5:

#1. Rocky (1976)
(the quintessential underdog film. Totally inspiring!)
#2. Raging Bull (1980)
(DeNiro at his best; masterfully shot; a tremendous character exploration)
#3. Hoop Dreams (1994)
(powerful & genuine moments from 5+ yrs of footage – a cinematic triumph!)
#4. Field of Dreams (1989)
(A father & son reconcile, elements of fantasy, & the purity of the game of baseball…a magical film)
#5. The Natural (1984)
(I love Roy Hobbs & his story is one that makes you cheer throughout!)

Hoosiers could very easily be in my Top 5 as well. Love that movie!!!

Now It’s YOUR Turn!!!

Gimme 5: Favorite DeNiro Flicks!

Today marks the release of the highly anticipated Machete (directed by Robert Rodriguez & Ethan Maniquis). I’m not very excited about it at all, but since it co-stars Robert DeNiro, I thought it would make for an opportune time to get your feedback on the legendary, Oscar-winning actor. I figured there are plenty of movies to pick from, so this week I am asking you to Gimme Your 5 favorite Robert DeNiro Movies — they can be what you think his 5 best performances are or the 5 best movies he has been a part of…you decide!

Once upon a time, Mr. DeNiro put everything into his craft and gave us some of cinema’s most magnetic characters. That was a long while ago. Now, it seems he is more businessman than artist; cashing paychecks and busy making lousy Fockers sequels and other nonsense such as Hide and Seek, Godsend, Showtime and yes, sadly, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.  A far cry from The Mission, Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Regardless, he is a heavyweight talent and there is always hope that he will return to top form. Here is his extensive acting resume — now:


I will start…(going strictly with his actual performances here)

#1. Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull 
(still, the performance of his life…)
#2. Vito Corleone in The Godfather: Part II
(brilliant in his subtlety and taking on the persona of a young Brando. Exquisitely crafted)
#3. Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver
(cinema’s most notorious vigilante. Raw and uninhibited approach)
#4. Michael in The Deer Hunter
(the nucleus that holds this awe-inspiring film together. Absolutely captivating)
#5. Sam Rothstein in Casino
(I think a more multi-layered performance here than in Goodfellas & shows more range)

Hmmm….3 out of the 5 were directed by Martin Scorsese. I would think it’s high time to start collaborating with the master filmmaker again…Leo will be just fine for a while.


Gimme 5: Favorite Spielberg Movies!

Yesterday, I did a write-up on Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film, Munich, which I consider to be his most daring, most mature work to date. But that’s just me. Part of the reason I started this website is to have a dialogue with other movie lovers, getting your thoughts and opinions on the world of movies. So piggy-backing on yesterday’s post, I thought it would interesting to see what your favorite Spielberg films are. Next year will be his 40th year making feature-length films and though he seems to have done it all, I tend to dismiss him when I am speaking of our most accomplished directors. I really shouldn’t considering his tremendous canon of work…from worldwide special effects blockbusters such as Jurassic Park to the more intimate, “smaller” films like The Color Purple, he has done it all and his films will be remembered for as long as there are movies. If you need to refresh your memory on his extensive resume, just click here for his IMDb page and take a peek. You want to choose a film that he produced, that’s fine too…it’s up to you. Just join in, that’s all I ask! 

‘GIMME 5’ of Your Favorite Spielberg Movies!!!

Here’s My 5:

#1. Munich (click here for my reasoning)
#2. Schindler’s List
(I think I can watch this anytime – a colossal achievement)
#3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
(I still remember coming home from that movie at age 10, mesmerized)
#4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
(Come on…who doesn’t love this film???)
#5. The Terminal
(I absolutely adore this little movie. And Tom Hanks rocks in it!)

Now It’s YOUR Turn!!!

Gimme 5: Guilty Pleasures!

We all have them. We know that they are bad movies with little redeeming qualities about them, yet we love them anyway. When we by happenstance catch them on TV, for some odd, mysterious reason, we cannot change the channel. We enjoy them too much. Sometimes we are even guilty of not admitting aloud that we like these films — but we know. We know deep down that we are secretly in love with these shameful movies. They are the ABBAs, the Jonas Brothers, the Yanni’s and the NKOTB’s of cinema.

So continue to live in denial if you want. That’s all right. I wouldn’t dream of judging you for liking Hudson Hawk or The Adventures of Pluto Nash. That’s your business. But for this week only, right here, right now, on this website, I want you to cleanse your cinematic soul and come clean. Yes, come clean and fess up to 5 bad movies that you can’t help but love. I promise I will not share or laugh; I will not mock or question. In fact, as always with the “Gimme 5,” I will be the first one to dip my toes into the cold waters. I will confess my own. I know this is a tough one, but I am hoping that you will be brave this week and….


#1. Roadhouse (1989)
(I know I’ve mentioned it before. I think there should be a Broadway musical based on Swayze’s philosophical ass-kicker!)
#2. Oscar (1991)
(I can’t help it!!! I thought Stallone and the entire cast was funny as hell in this one!)
#3. Cocktail (1988)
(Pure 80’s Cruise here. Plus, Elisabeth Shue is hot & I still wanna learn how to flip liquor bottles like that!)
#4. Ishtar (1987)
(This movie got a bum rap from the get-go, but I really get a kick out of watching Hoffman & Beatty do their thing.)
#5. Loverboy (1989)
(before Patrick Dempsey became simply nauseating to look at…)

Honorable Mentions: Just One of the Guys (1985), Swamp Thing (1982), and Guess Who? (2005)

Now it’s YOUR Turn!!!

Gimme 5: Bad-Ass MoFos

Unfortunately, I’ve been out of the loop this very busy week because of my sister’s wedding (yea…today!!!) — and will be out of commission for the weekend trying to sober myself up. What would make me oh-so-happy would be to see a whole bunch of great input on this week’s “Gimme 5” when I check back in on Sunday night. 🙂

For this week, I’d like you to share 5 of your favorite bad-ass movie villians! They can be who you think are the five most villainous characters in cinema — or simply five baddies you enjoy/love the most. There are no rules here — so you pick! I know there are so many great ones, so if you want to go over five, be my guest. So, doing a complete reverse from last week’s gushy 5 Love Stories, this week, I want you to:


#1. Amon Goth (Schindler’s List)
(the epitome of evil incarnate)
#2. Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men)
(“I would say he doesn’t have a sense of humor.”)
#3. Booth (In the Line of Fire)
(Malkovich is more than a worthy adversary here – and great fun to watch!)
#4. Frank Booth
(creepy, immoral, violent, perverse, vulgar…Hopper had it all here — and an oxygen mask to boot!)
#5. Lex Luthor (Superman)
(Gene Hackman, of course. He is so delightfully wicked in the original. Kevin who?)

Honorable Mentions: Bill the Butcher (Gangs of New York) and Jack Torrence (The Shining)


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