Friday, March 19, 2010

For the Weekend: Need a Little Adventure

I'm in one of those moods today, where I feel I just need to get out of town.  To find myself, to just relax, to have a little fun?  I'm not sure which reason, but it's there.  Maybe it's just because I finished reading "Eat, Pray, Love" yesterday.  Or maybe I'm having an early midlife crisis.  Whatever the reason, I thought I'd choose some adventure movies for this weekend, to try and satisfy my thirst.

First off is "Lawrence of Arabia" from 1962, the ultimate see-the-world-through-different-eyes story.  The great Peter O'Toole plays the title character, a British officer who recruits Arab desert dwellers for war during World War I.  This is considered to be the best epic film ever made.  Each shot, even the grandest of ones, helps add more depth to the story.  Director David Lean even shot every scene of traveling from left to right, to emphasize the continuing journey of the characters.  O'Toole is now synonymous with this film, but originally Lean wanted to cast an unknown actor at the time in the lead, Albert Finney.  He even shot extensive screen tests of Finney, in full costume and everything.  The entire test ended up costing £100,000.  However, due to the urging of Katharine Hepburn, they cast O'Toole instead.  You can catch "Lawrence" on TCM Saturday night at 8pm EST.  (And if you want to see more O'Toole, stick around for "The Ruling Class" and "Lord Jim" afterwards.)

Next reach of enlightenment comes with "Seven Years in Tibet" (1997), free to watch on Hulu right now.  It's based on the real-life adventures of Austrian mountaineer Henrich Harrer.  When World War II breaks out, he and his friend Peter (played by David Thewlis, now of Harry Potter fame) are arrested by the British in India for having German citizenship.  They escape from prison and crossover into Tibet, where Harrer befriends a young Dalia Lama.  Sure, it's another example of an actor's (Pitt's) sore attempt at an accent, but it's fun (at least for me) to see how far Pitt has come since then.  After making this movie though, the director, Pitt, and Thewlis were forbidden to ever enter China.

On a much lighter adventure topic, we also have Disney's "Swiss Family Robinson" (1960) on TCM this weekend.  Loosely based on the 1812 book by Johann David Wyss, it tells the story of a family shipwrecked on a deserted island on their way to a new life.  And if you've never seen or heard of this film, you are losing out on some true childhood fun.  The family encounters a mass of different animals, lives in trees, and battles with pirates.  Every friend I know would have given anything as a kid to live in that treehouse.  The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse is one of my strongest memories of my first trip to a Disney park.  (Sadly, Disneyland changed their Treehouse to Tarzan themes several years ago.)  You can watch "Robinson" on Sunday afternoon at 2pm EST.

Finally, one more adventure to feel your weekend - "The Mummy" from 1999.  There's something about this movie that makes me watch it over and over again.  It's not the best any many people's eyes, but it's oh so much fun to me.  It's one of those films that is just pure fun, and that's its only purpose for being.  And the majority of that has to do with the chemistry and personality of the film's stars, Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz.  Released by Universal in their attempt to rehash some of their old classics, it was a huge hit spawning several sequels (though only one of those with the entire original cast) and even rides at Universal's theme parks.  "The Mummy" is on AMC this Sunday at 7pm E/P.

So, I hope these movies fill your adventure needs as much as I hope they will fill mine.  Enjoy!  And I'll be back with more adventure on Monday.

(Post-tidbit:  Not a single woman speaks any dialogue in "Lawrence of Arabia," which runs 227 minutes long.)