Friday, March 6, 2015

Movies Based on Actual Events...Sort of

How many times have you gone to the movies and watched a film that was “based on true events”? Audiences love to see films of this kind, especially when said films depict epic battles and historical moments. Sometimes, however, audiences go to the movies without the slightest idea the film they are about to watch is actually based on reality, and sometimes movies that are supposed to be realistic twist the story to benefit the box office.  Let’s take a look at some of the most popular films, based on true events, from 90’s and beyond.

Braveheart - 1995

Yes, Braveheart was based on real Scottish hero William Wallace and his battle against King Edward I of England. Braveheart was a box office success and was nominated for 10 Oscars--5 of which they won. This movie initiated the pre-war pep rally speech you now see every leader give his warriors in nearly every war movie ever since Braveheart’s debut. While some call the movie one of the most historically inaccurate films ever, it did a lot for the Scottish tourism industry. Thanks to Braveheart, thousands flocked to Scotland to learn more about the country’s history and helped the country pull in 7-15 million pounds thanks to movie-loving tourists.

Black Hawk Down - 2001

Ridley Scott is one of the most famous film directors of our generation. The genius behind movies like Alien and Gladiator also directed this film, based on the Battle of Mogadishu. While the movie filmed in Morocco, the story takes place in Somalia. A US black hawk helicopter is shot down and the soldiers try to survive until they are rescued, but during that time they experience the true horrors of war and lose friends along the way. While Americans loved the film, the people of Somalia complained and said it painted them in a negative light. Despite any negative press, Black Hawk Down was a hit and won 2 Oscars.

Apollo 13 - 1995

This Ron Howard masterpiece was based on the failed Apollo 13 mission. This shuttle carried a crew intending to be the 3rd group of people to walk on the moon, but an explosion on board damaged the shuttle’s oxygen supplies and electrical wiring. Not only did those events endanger the astronauts, the malfunctions also prevented the team from ever reaching the moon. To add to the film’s authenticity, Ron Howard got permission from NASA to use one of their low-gravity machines in order to film the space scenes in the movie. The actors also underwent the same NASA training real astronauts would go through in order to give them the proper mindset for the film.
Schindler’s List - 1993

The Holocaust has to be one of, if not the most difficult subjects to tackle for any filmmaker. So many movies have created tales of hope out of such a horrific event, but there is one movie that set the standard for films depicting this dark time in our history. Schindler’s List is based on Oskar Schindler, a German business man that saves thousands of people from the Nazis by offering them work in his factories. Steven Spielberg directed this classic, but the film was originally pitched to other famous directors like Roman Polanski, Martin Scorsese, and Sydney Pollack. This movie brought both Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes into the Hollywood spotlight for their incredible work, and became a must in every film fanatic’s collection.

U-571 - 2000  

Out of all of the films on this list, U-571 takes the cake for issues with accuracy. While the core storyline of a submarine capturing a naval Engima machine did happen, it was not done by a group of Americans on a submarine called U-571. The Engima machine was captured by British soldiers from the HMS Bulldog, using the submarine U-110 months before the Americans entered World War II. The movie offended the British public, and even inspired former prime minister Tony Blair to comment and call the movie an “affront” to the soldiers of the U-110. While not a blockbuster, the movie did experience financial success. For those of you that love trivia, the U-110 inaccuracy is only the beginning when it comes to facts this film got wrong. Keep that in mind next time you catch this flick on tv--you might end up wanting to research it yourself.

Friday, February 20, 2015

5 Apps for Movie Fanatics

Texting has become enough of a social annoyance that movie theaters now ask viewers to turn off their phones before the movie begins. Everyone hates “that guy” that answers his phone during a flick, but theaters also want their customers to stop texting during movies, as the light of the phone screen can distract others. That being said, your smartphone is still a wonderful tool if you’re a movie fanatic--just don’t use it once you get to your seat! Here are some awesome movie apps you should download onto your phone if you haven’t already.

Purchase tickets, rate movies, look up showtimes and watch trailers all from this free app. Fandango has recently added original programming and a mobile ticket option to its repertoire. You no longer have to swipe your credit card at a kiosk to print your tickets. Fandango generates a QR code that the movie theater employee can scan right from your phone. Talk about saving time--especially if you’re late for the movie!


The famous movie website also has an app counterpart. Think of IMDB as the Wikipedia of movies--but with verified facts. If you’re a trivia fanatic, or simply can’t remember the name of “that guy” from a movie you saw years ago, IMDB can help you find that information and much more. Connect with fellow movie fanatics on the IMDB forums and read up on the latest movie news. You can also watch trailers for upcoming movies and read about celebrities and other entertainment events.


This app makes a game out of watching movies and television shows. With GetGlue, you can check in (much like Foursquare) and let your friends and families know what you’re watching on the small or silver screen. This app can link to your favorite social media sites and you can make friends with the other users. GetGlue awards you with special stickers after a certain amount of check-ins, or if you check in during the season premiere (or finale) of a show. You can then request a print out of these stickers, which get sent to you for free.

Watch TCM

If you’re living in the past and love the Golden Age of cinema, this app is for you. You can watch live streams of the Turner Classic Movies channel via the app as well as watch a ton of movies without any commercial interruption. View the upcoming movie schedules and plan what you would like to watch, then share your opinions with fellow movie fans. The app also connects to the site’s blog page, and you can view never-before-seen images of Old Hollywood stars and movie sets. The app itself is free, but you will need to log in using your cable service provider information. It’s worth it to have access to all of these amazing films.


This app has a number of accolades. It is the most downloaded movie app in the Apple App Store and Lifehacker.com has labeled Flixter the best app for movie showtimes. Like Fandango, you can purchase tickets and read reviews, but Flixter is connected to another famous movie website, Rotten Tomatoes. You can download and stream movies and television shows as well as check out the latest movie trailers. Add your own movie review to the mix and use Flixter to create a list of movies you want to watch or eliminate the ones you don’t want to watch from your options. Considering you can manage your Netflix queue via Flixter as well, this is one app every movie lover must have. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Classic Sports Movies to Add to Your Collection

Baseball Edition

We love “best of” lists when it comes to building our movie collection. It's hard to find the right movies to place on our shelves when we consider the vast amount of films created all over the world. So, every now and then we will give you a list of our favorite films as a suggestion. Think of it as your cheat sheet to movie research. You might not agree with our picks, but you might be inspired to watch one you haven't seen yet and then add it to your home theater library. 

Field of Dreams (1989) – “If you build it, he will come.” So many famous quotes seem to come from sports movies and Field of Dreams spawned one of the most misquoted lines in history! In 1989, Kevin Costner starred in this film that combines magic, nostalgia, and baseball. Costner's character (Ray Kinsella) hears voices that inspire him to build a baseball diamond in his backyard. This diamond brings the ghosts of famous baseball players to play in front of the small town—one of those players being the ghost of Kinsella's father. This movie is said to be the movie to make even the most macho man cry, so keep that in mind, but it's also a great escapist film that makes you wish you could build a baseball diamond of your own.

Major League (1989) – Before Charlie Sheen was dating questionable women, tearing up Las Vegas and talking about tiger blood, he portrayed Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn in the Major League movie series. This flick is about the Cleveland Indians road to the playoffs. The team ends up with a new owner that wants the Indians to lose in order to move them out of Ohio. Once the players learn about their new owner's plot, they decide to start playing well on purpose, both to spite their owner and keep the team in Cleveland. If you enjoy the first Major League movie, make sure to check out the sequel that was released in 1994. Sheen returns in the sequel and the film keeps the same tone and humor of the first movie in the franchise.

A League Of Their Own (1992) – “There's no crying in baseball!” How many times have you heard that one? Directed by Penny Marshall (of Laverne & Shirley fame) this movie sheds light on the lives of female baseball players in the US during World War II. With the men off to war, women took over a lot of jobs once only done by men—including baseball. With an all-star cast including Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, and Madonna, it's hard not to enjoy this classic. Baseball intertwined with politics and societies a lot back in the day, and this movie shows one of those instances in a comedic, yet memorable way.

The Sandlot (1993) – “You're killing me, Smalls!” Maybe you've heard your friends say it before, and I'm sure you've seen a clip of a freckle-faced redhead boy in a catcher's mask yelling “Play ball!” at a game. Well, that clip and that quote are from The Sandlot. This classic is about the summer adventures of a group of boys and their neighborhood baseball games. Other classic lines, like “You play ball like a girl!” (also used at sports games) come from this comedic and nostalgic film. For those of you that keep thinking about the good ol' days and your childhood, The Sandlot is a must.

42  (2013) – Although this was a recent entry into the world of baseball movies, it should still have a spot in your movie collection. 42 is the story of Jackie Robinson, the first black Major League Baseball player, and the struggles he had to go through to earn the respect of racist fans, players, and managers. It is a touching story, sometimes hard to watch (only because of how awful he was treated) that ends up teaching the audience a very important lesson—that baseball fans can be of any color, and from any walk of life, as can its players.

Friday, August 15, 2014

5 Movie Endings We STILL can't figure out

SPOILER ALERT! The movies in this article ARE a  few years old, so we'll hold back on saying I told you so if you continue to read on. If you haven't seen these movies you should probably schedule some time and put them in your Netflix queue-- they’re well worth watching, even if we don’t fully grasp the ending.

Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan's ensemble cast film left many moviegoers very angry, mostly because the ending left the movie’s biggest question unanswered. In our current culture of immediate satisfaction, the obscure ending just wasn't what the audience wanted to see. In Inception, a movie about the layers of our dreams and how our reality influences them, we are introduced to the concept of a token. This item lets characters know whether they are in a dream or not. If they can knock the item down, they are in the real world, but if the item does not fall over, they are still dreaming. Well, the movie ends with Leo DiCaprio’s token (a top) spinning and spinning. Just as you think it wobbles and is about to fall the movie ends, leaving you wondering if the final happy moment between DiCaprio’s character and his family is indeed a dream or reality.

The Shining (1980)

This Stanley Kubrick film, based on a novel by horror master Stephen King, gave us some key pop culture quotes and scenes. Who could forget Jack Nicholson’s crazed visage peering through the broken door and yelling, “Here’s Johnny!” ? But believe it or not, many people have not seen the movie in its entirety--they just know the quotes.  If you have seen the movie, the ending doesn't leave you hanging as much as Inception’s ending, but we are still left with a big question. We discover that Jack Nicholson's character has actually been in that hotel for a very, very long time, appearing in photos from the 1920’s. Does that mean his wife and child are also ghosts? Is Nicholson’s character reincarnated? Is any of it real at all? People still debate the movie’s ending and its creepy scenes today.

K-Pax (2001)

This movie isn't as well known as the others on our list, but the ending is just as mysterious. In K-Pax, Kevin Spacey plays a man that claims to be from another planet. His psychiatrist, Jeff Bridges, tries to convince him otherwise, but starts to doubt his own knowledge of medicine. Throughout the entire movie we are wondering if Spacey is indeed an alien from the planet K-Pax or just a mentally ill man.  The movie explores the concept of science, psychology, and insanity, but it also makes you wonder if people that are institutionalized are actually as crazy as we think. Was Spacey’s character indeed from another planet? We don’t know.


The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

This movie brought very little closure to fans of the Wachowski brothers famous trilogy. People had a difficult time fully understanding the concept of The Matrix the first time around, and Revolutions didn’t seem to add anything concrete to the situation. The characters Oracle and The Architect didn’t clarify much of anything--instead, they seemed to have confused fans even more. Finally, at the end, the audience is left wondering: Did Neo become part of the I Matrix? Was he actually killed in his final battle against Agent Smith? We have yet to find out.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

If you could even sit through this lengthy, somewhat strange Kubrick movie, the ending will have you wondering what in the world you actually watched. The movie has very little dialogue, and we go from apes and a monolith to astronauts in a space ship without much of a bridge. People are mostly familiar with Hal 9000-but if you've seen the image of the giant baby floating in space and wondered what in the world it had to do with the movie--join the club. We still don't know if that is the reincarnation of the main character or something else entirely.