Five Completely Underrated Movies You MUST Watch

7 Dec

I was originally going to go negative at first – Five Completely Overrated Movies You MUST Avoid – but it’s the Christmas season, and why not spread a little cheer?

Movie tastes are like socks – lightly examined, dirty little choices that reveal a lot about the person wearing them. Some stink. Some are cute. Some make you rethink your previous position on footwear (or cinema). After reading The New Yorker’s recent list of the dceade’s 10 best films and thinking “What the hell?” I thought this would be fun.

So, five completely underrated movies you must see:

1. Unforgiven (1992) – I was tempted to make the list Clint Eastwood’s Ten Best, but that seemed silly. But, for a thought-provoking exceptional western with beautiful photography and stellar acting (just check out the movie’s Oscar wins), you can’t beat this masterpiece. William Munny might be the most memorable cowboy EVER.

2. Star Trek (2009) – Granted this movie isn’t even a year old, and the hype surrounding J.J. Abram’s reboot of the classic space franchise was anything other than underrated. But, as a Team Vader kind of guy (meaning I always liked Star Wars much more than Star Trek) I was absolutely blown away by this movie. Mesmerized by the writing, the castin and the visuals, my wife and I went to see this for our 8th wedding anniversary – and loved every minute. I can’t wait to see if Santa drops the DVD into my stocking for Christmas.

3. Ronin (1998) – DeNiro. Great car chases. International espionage. More great car chases. This movie is an adrenaline rush on DVD. The plot and acting are great, and the highly underrated Stellan Skarsgard is absolute brilliant as the movie’s main villain. Perhaps the best part is Jonathan Pryce as an I.R.A. warlord on the hunt for the film’s MacGuffin. If you’ve ever seen Pryce as a bad guy in any other movie, you won’t believe how well he pulls it off here.

4. Dan in Real Life (2007) – Just saw this for the first time the other night, and dang near fell off the couch laughing at Steve Carrell. This really got to me because Carrell plays a writer on the cusp of making it into syndication, and the struggles between his real life and the life of his advice column is as distant as Obama’s relationship with the G.O.P. Poignant, funny as hell, and featuring the insufferable Dane Cook as a sufferable fitness instructor, this movie has plenty of warmth to go with the obvious comedy.  Must, must see.

5. Elf (2004) – What would a Christmastime top five list be without at least one Christmas movie? This cute movie is underrated because it was the first and last time that Will Ferrell was charming instead of annoying, funny instead of insipid, and likeable instead of loathsome. And James Caan as a father figure is priceless.

So there’s your list. Which movies did I whiff on? Which ones would you recommend? And tomorrow, five totally overrated movies. Starting with this one…


Tiger Woods’ Failure as a Father

4 Dec

Just a dang shame...

Yeah, there’s a reason the picture is taking up half of the column space, and it’s not the guy holding the baby.

It’s the baby.

Lost in all of the ugliness that has become Tiger and Elin Woods’ life are the faces of Sam (the pictured infant, now 2 years old) and Charlie (the nine-month old son that many people didn’t even realize existed until the scandals broke). Their dad, arguably the most famous man on the planet, will now be remembered in an entirely different way.

And those two kids will have to live with that.

It’s hard enough when people refer to your dad as “the Black Jesus”, “a golf god”, “the greatest athlete of all time.” That’s a heck of a legacy to live up to; the kind of thing that has driven other children of famous parents into the world of depression, addiction, even suicide.

Now tack onto that pre-existing fame the collective disappointment that many of our nation are experiencing right now, and it becomes an almost unbearable burden:

To bear not only your father’s greatest successes, but his greatest failure as well.

I don’t much care how the media views Tiger. I don’t much care if things get better for him, personally, in the near future. He deserves the excoriation as much as he ever deserved praise. I agree with Jesper Parnevik to some degree: whatever Elin dishes out, he’d better shut up and take.

But I do hope this blows over quickly for the kids. I hope that Tiger can get back on the golf course and win five or six tournaments in a row, put the focus back on his exceptional and singular skills as a golfer, and let his family rest in relative peace for a while. Maybe by the time Sam is old enough to darken the door of the local Kindergarten, the events of the past few days will be lessened in the overall pantheon of their family life; maybe by the time Charlie hits school, the past few days will only be a lame taunt lobbed at him by an overly jealous classmate.

I hope that’s the case. I hope.

But I don’t know. Until then, I’m praying for the kids.

Outstretched Hands

2 Dec

She comes to me every afternoon when I walk through the door, a smiling little metronome, each day asking the same thing.

“Play with me Daddy?”

Normally, my hands are full with my jacket, my laptop bag, maybe some books, and my answer is always the same.

“Not right now, honey. Daddy needs to change.”

Her face falls. Her shoulders slump. She recedes back into living room, a disappointed tide going back out into the sea of solitude for at least another ten or fifteen minutes. And I make my way down the hall and into my bedroom, exasperated by the unending need of an almost four year old daughter for my attention. The laptop bag slams into the bed. The tie comes off with a snap then gets thrown into the closet with my pants, shirt and shoes. I grab a pair of jeans, maybe my house shoes, and trudge back to where she sits. Continue reading

Back In Action

1 Dec

I’ve been away, working on some things for the past few weeks. Personal issues mainly, and most of those having to do with my writing. I shut down TSG for awhile because I wanted to concentrate on ficiton writing. And so I did.

And while I did, I was reminded by several things that my nonfiction writing is as popular, if not more so, than my fiction.

So, The Southern Gentleman is back in action.

There will be some changes. First of all, the number of archived posts will be culled to the Top Ten posts of all time here on TSG. Everything else will be new stuff.

Secondly, the name of the blog will change: from The Southern Gentleman to A Southern Gentlman, for better search engine optimization.

Thirdly, I will hopefully invite more participation from the people who read. Of course, most people get here through random search engine stuff, but that’s another story altogether.

Lastly, I’m just going to have fun. I’m not going to try and draw anyone here. Whoever ends up here is who I’ll be writing for. My time of straining so hard to become “somebody” is over. I just want to be me.

Welcome to the New South.

Blog for the Cure

24 Jun

beat-breast-cancerI’m a big fan of boobies, which, being a man, is sort of like saying that fish are fond of water. I think there is a DNA sequence that creates the otherwordly attraction that men have to breasts.

But I digress.

As I said, I’m a big fan of bo0bies, and recently my wife’s family has been scarred once again by breast cancer. Rachel’s mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor, and her sister was recently diagnosed and is currently in chemotherapy with radiation to follow. And did I mention she already had the preventative double mastectomy?

So, the boobies that I love the most are now even more in danger of cancer.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I love my wife as a person, not just for her anatomy. She knows this. I’m just using the irreverence to help make a point:

If you haven’t been involved in beating breast cancer – by supporting Susan G. Komen, or doing a three-day walk, or just wearing a ribbon to raise awareness – you need to get up off your butt and do it. The statistics on this disease are insane, and to find a cure we’ll all have to help.

Preserve the boobies, men! Mobilize to prevent breast cancer.

Otherwise, a whole sequence of our DNA may become a Darwinian albatross.

Why Not Just Call Her A “Nigger” and Be Done With It?

15 Jun

donkeySome folks are just idiots.

Take the GOP activist from South Carolina who recently referred to an escaped gorilla from a nearby zoo as “one of Michelle’s relatives.”

Michelle – as in Michelle Obama. As in the First Lady of the United States. As in well educated and accomplished African-American woman.

Did I mention that the guy wrote this on FACEBOOK?

Cause, you know, nobody ever visits that site.

Here’s the link to the story on CNN.

It blows my mind that anyone, let alone someone who makes a living purportedly as a savvy politico, would resort to making a crude joke aboout the President’s wife being descended from a gorilla. It’s just wrong (Darwinism aside).

Have we all gone insane? First David Letterman makes jokes about Sarah Palin’s kids, now we have a political activist resorting to Jim Crow imagery?

Good. God.

And the gentleman in question, Rusty DePass, says it was an attempt at a joke.


A joke?

Equating an African-American with a primate is a joke? Given the ugly history of racil epithets, I bet DePass really kills ’em when he does stand up at Klan rallies.

The GOP has been reportedly fighting to find it’s identity lately. Some are pushing hard for moderate politics, others see future only in the politics of division and polemics. Folks like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich are calling for the party to lean away from the left and further to the right.

Well, got news for you, fellas – you keep letting guys like this DePass speak for you, and you won’t share anything with the democrats other than an unpleasant symbol.

And at least people will call the Democratic one a donkey.

They’ll just call you jackass.

Face(book) It – Blurbs That Ain’t Funny Just Don’t Cut It

9 Apr


I’ve only recently realized that the world has been taken over by Facebook and Twitter, and that most of what the world has to say isn’t funny.

Seriously. Have you ever read some of the status updates people put out? “Gone to bathroom. Will return.”

Truly, Hoss? You couldn’t just type – “leaving my desk. Be back in a few”?

It’s amazing how much talent it takes to type something hysterical in the limited amount of space you get with Facebook and Twitter status updates. Few people really have the talent, and even then, those people run out of interesting things to read after awhile. Usually a person is good for about 15-16 funny status updates in a given week; when you consider that most folks update their status that many times IN A FREAKING HOUR, you realize how many unfunny updates we’re being exposed to.

Look, if I wanted the CNN news ticker, I’d just go to CNN. I don’t need your take on the hostage crisis aboard the Maersk Alabama – I have Anderson Cooper for that. When I go on Facebook, I want to be amused by your creativity and imagination. I want to see the literary flair that average people possess without realizing it.

I mean, some folks just come up with downright hilarious observations and thoughts about life. Others regurgitate funny lines. But it’s those folks who choose to make you snooze to the minutiae of their daily droppings that kill me.

S0, as a public service, here are some funny and creative status updates for your Facebook or Twitter comedy-challenged friends and acquaintances. Feel free to use them any time (with proper attribution – at least leave me a comment and let me know you used it, even if you don’t tell anyone else…).

[Insert your user ID] wonders if Bob the Builder uses illegal immigrants.

…thinks that there should be more coffee, less morning.

…wishes that just once, the rest of the world would learn to obey me as they should.

…has seen fire and rain. Just not at the same time, because water extinguishes fire.

…wonders how in the holy hell the song “Rock-a-bye Baby” is supposed to be comforting to a small child. Have you ever really paid attention to the lyrics?

…wonders if the President ever goes around singing his name to the tune of “Rock the Casbah”?

…once gave a five dollar bill to a homeless man, who promptly gave it back and said, “Thanks, but by the look of things, you need this worse than I do.”

…would like to know: if you’re in the same bathroom as the Pope, and he drops a deuce, can you say “Holy crap!” and it not be a sin?

…thinks North Korea is mad because their leader looks like this guy from “The Simpsons”:

…says if you have to ask “What would Jesus do?” chances are you aren’t going to.

…thinkth thpeech impedimenth aren’t funny.

…would like to market the doll “Demolish Me Elmo.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course. Feel free to add your own hilarity in the comments section, and if you’re good, I’ll steal it and use it on my Facebook page. Plus, if you’re a Facebook member, you can become a member of the group“People With Good Taste: Folks Who Read The Southern Gentleman.”