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  1. Movie Recommendations
  2. Movie Stay-Away-Froms (what's the opposite of recommendation again?)
  3. TV Show Recommendations
 Disclaimer: Not all movies are appropriate for all audiences!
 
Four-Star Movies (*=5 Star Favorites)
*American Beauty
(1999, Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening)
Has any movie ever summed up the American Dream better?

Apocalypse Now
(1979, Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando)
Dark, smart, disturbing story set in Vietnam will make war supporters think twice.

Back to the Future
(1985, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd)
Terrifically fun: science fiction meets comedy.  "Hello??  .... McFly???!"

Before Sunrise
(1995, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke)
The most romantic movie ever written and acted, in my humble opinion.

Breakfast at Tiffany's
(1961, Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard)
A tremendous character-driven story, featuring the gloriously lonely socialite Holly Golightly.

* Death of a Salesman
(1985, Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich, Kate Reid)
Should be required reading for every person in America when they're 16, and again every 10 years afterward.  It grows with you.

Die Hard
(1988, Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman)
Sometimes you just want to see lots of things blow up.  Awwww yeah.

Dumb and Dumber
(1994, Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels)
Idiot humor at it's finest, and completely rewatchable.

Eyes Wide Shut
(1999,  Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman
We build predictable, acceptable lives inside our own comfort zones.  This movie shows what happens when those walls disappear.

Fargo
(1996, Frances McDormand, W.H.Macy)
The most understated, dryly funny triple-homicide cop story ever written.

Fight Club
(1999, Ed Norton, Brad Pitt)
Convoluted, brutal, and unforgettable.

The Godfather Trilogy (I, II, III)
 (1972, 1974, 1990, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Robert Duval)
Power, involved storylines, a great backstory, and tremendous all-around acting.  And despite critical pans, I think the ending to Godfather III is the best written and performed ending, ever.

Goldfinger
(1964, Sean Connery)
James Bond's finest movie.  The best spy movie made.

The Good Girl
(2002, Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhall)
A story of an affair, with sympathetic, vulnerable characters presented very realistically.
Groundhog Day
(1993, Bill Murray, Andie McDowell)
A smart comedy, great situations, very re-watchable.  Also featuring Chris Elliott, the most underrated comic actor alive.

Harvey
(1950, Jimmy Stewart, Josephine Hull)
Jimmy Stewart's best friend is a 6 foot tall invisible rabbit and he's the most sane character in the movie.

Heathers
(1989, Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Shannen Doherty)
The ultimate high school movie, complete with its own slang language.

Into the Wild
(2007, Emile Hirsch, Kristen Stewart, Hal Holbrook)
Based on a true story, a successful college graduate donates everything to charity and leaves to explore America.  Simple, brilliant, warm, lonely, and honest.

It's a Wonderful Life
(1946, Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed)
The best Christmas story ever filmed.  Plus the great line, "Why do we have to have so many kids?"

The Lion King
(1994, Animated; Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons)
The opening five minutes is the best opener ever filmed.  Great, catchy songs that have become part of our cultural language.  "Hakuna matata!"

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Return of the King)
(2001, 2002, 2003, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin)
High fantasy done right.  These are the movies that every other fantasy has hoped to become.

* Lost in Translation
(2003, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson)
Friendship with romantic tension has never been performed so authentically.

Midnight Cowboy
(1969, Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman)
Funny, sad, uncomfortable, and featuring phenomenal writing and acting.

Mystic River
(2003, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins)
Sean Penn and Tim Robbins give the best performances of the year, and their lives.

The Odd Couple
(1968, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau)
The original comedy of mismatched roommates.  "It's not a spoon, it's a ladle!"

Of Mice & Men
(1992, Gary Sinise, John Malkovich)
Gary Sinise and John Malkovich have great chemistry in this story of brothers, with a tremendous ending.

* Office Space
(1999, Ron Livingston, Gary Cole, Jennifer Aniston)
A hilarious comedy about office living. When you just stop caring about work, anything is possible.

Poltergeist
(1982, Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams)
Scary, smart, and kept me awake for many nights counting between lightning bolts and thunderclaps.  Ahhhhh!
Pleasantville
(1998, Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Reese Witherspoon, W.H. Macy)
A great design concept using sets and color to tell the story.

The Prophecy
(1995, Christopher Walken)
Christopher Walken plays an unforgettable archangel Gabriel, as only he can.

Pulp Fiction
(1994, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson)
Innovative storytelling style, loads of characters with their own arcs, and lots of action.

Raiders of the Lost Ark
(1981, Harrison Ford)
The original action adventure that spawned dozens of copycats.

Run Lola Run
(1998, Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu)
A hip movie version of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books I loved as a dorky young kid.

* (This is) Spinal Tap
(1984, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer)
Flat out the slyest, funniest, and most quotable movie ever written.  I've seen this one 17 times - and still find stuff to laugh at.  "But this one goes to 11."

Spirited Away
(2001, Animated; Hayao Miyazaki)
This anime film creates a lush, vibrant world you won't want to leave.

The Star Wars Trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi)
(1977, 1980, 1983, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher)
The original trilogy that made science fiction cool.   (Look how much you've undone, "Jar Jar!")

The Shawshank Redemption
(1994, Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman)
Oppressive settings, great acting, and the finest prison movie ever made.

The Shining
(1980, Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall)
The only horror movie that was also sad, glorious, and poignant at the same time.  "You are the caretaker.  You've always been the caretaker."

The Sting
(1973, Paul Newman, Robert Redford)
A clever and unforgettable period con-artist story, filled with plot twists and turns.

The Story of Us
(1999, Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer)
An honest story about separation, featuring the best montage sequence in any movie (3/4 of the way through.)

The Usual Suspects
(1995, Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin)
An action-filled criminal-packed "whodunnit" with fiery twists, and a brilliant conclusion.

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Zero-Star Movies (or: "Worst Movies .... Ever!")
Those very rare movies that get everything wrong.  Utter crap.  You may go blind and/or deaf simply by touching the videotape or DVD.  You have been warned!
 
Alien from L.A. (1988)
Director  : Albert Pyun
Starring : Kathy Ireland (of 1980's 'Swimsuit Illustrated' fame)
Every boy  eventually learns the lesson that just because a girl is good-looking, it doesn't mean she's good.  Well, lemme tell you,  at age 19, lesson learned.  It's hard to tell what's worse: Kathy Ireland's acting skills, or her ultra-high-pitched voice;  the one  that sounds like a screeching mouse on helium scratching its tiny little claws down a blackboard.  With an incomprehensible plot set in outer space with dwarves that want Kathy Ireland's bones for some obscure reason, this movie is just wrong on so many levels.  If there were ever a candidate for a Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival, this would be it.
 
anything with Pauly Shore in it
Enough said.
 
Eraserhead (1977)
Director : David Lynch
Starring : who knows?  who cares????
Local moron has a kid who is hideously deformed and evil.  The family is evil, the dialogue is incomprehensible.  The characters are bizarre and undeveloped.  This movie is ... .weird.  Usually that would be a compliment, but this film just baffles me without leaving me anything other than a general impression that you shouldn't give birth to children that look like big worms.  Even the strange art-film-student-type videotape film from "The Ring" was better than this.  On the other hand, if you want random, disturbing (and I mean disturbing), disjointed footage with no plot, this may just be your holy grail.

 

Jack Frost (1998)
Director : Troy Miller
Starring : Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston
A Dad who's gone all the time gets killed in a wreck in the middle of a snowstorm and comes back as a wisecracking snowman with a smart-aleck face you want to punch every single second you see it on the screen.  From the moment you learn his kid's on an incompetent hockey team, you know "new-snowman-Dad" will come and save the day, that he'll learn that he should have  spent more time at home while he was alive, and blah blah blah blah blah.  There have been less predictable, and more compelling plots on "Bazooka Joe" gum wrappers.  For a brief moment, the film is so awful you think ... "Wait, maybe this movie is so awful that it's 'train wreck' good" in that ironic sort of way where 'bad' becomes 'cult classic.'"  But, just as soon, the moment is gone, and you realize that this movie is just crap, crap, crap.
 
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003)
Director : Robert Rodriguez
Starring : Daryl Sabara, Alexa Vega, Ricardo Montalban, Sylvester Stallone
What?  You mean casting Sylvester Stallone as a crazed mad-scientist villain and his three alter-egos isn't a good sign this movie is going to be great?  Well, to be fair, it's not Sylvester Stallone's fault.  The real culprit here is the absolute WORST screenplay ever written.  I liked the original "Spy Kids," but in this movie, I couldn't care less about these characters.  Their lines are riddled with cliches,  their interactions and reactions are disingenuous, and the few plot twists this movie offers all seem like sudden after-thoughts.  And, wherever there's a conflict, the plot repetitively  enters Ricardo Montalban as the grandfather to solve everything.  (He's in a wheelchair in real life, but in this movie's virtual reality world, he has 'super legs' courtesy of a convenient power up, so he's actually really powerful.  Get it??  Have you learned the Disney-type lesson yet??)  This movie is all about computerized special effects backgrounds, live-capture animation, and would make a great videocard demo program ... for about a minute.  If you've seen the trailer, you've seen the movie.  And, quite frankly, even that trailer deserves special note as one of the worst trailers of all time.  It's not clever.  It's not even mindlessly entertaining.  It's just mindless.
 
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TV Show Recommendations
 
All In the Family (1971-79)
Created by: Norman Lear
Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, Sally Struthers
 
Joan of Arcadia (2003-2005)
Created by: Barbara Hall
Amber Tamblyn, Joe Mantegna, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Ritter, Michael Welch
Seinfeld (1990-1998)
Created by: Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Michael Richards
 
The Simpsons (1989-present)
Created by: Matt Groening
Animated; Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria, Julie Kavner, Yeardsley Smith, Nancy Cartwright
 
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