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Movies can transport viewers to new heights

During February, which is I Love to Read Month, I typically write a book review of my favorite books read over the past year.

I'm going to depart from the norm, step out of the box, and with the Oscars a recent memory, share a few of my favorite movies.

I love just about every film genre. I didn't know there were so many: Disney/Pixar animated movies (family films), musicals, action, thrillers, dramas, romantic comedies, drama, documentaries, biographical, science fiction (love the Star Trek movies best), fantasy, gangster (The Godfather was very good, but I liked "The Sopranos" better though it was a series not a movie) war movies, mysteries, coming-of-age and disaster films. There are more genres, too, but I think most everything will fall into these categories.

About the only movie genre I purposely choose not to watch are horror films. After laying in bed jumping at every little house creak following the viewing of Stephen King's "Children of the Corn" in the mid 1980s, I said no more of that. And that movie is pretty tame compared to what is out there now to scare viewers out of their skins. About the only scary movies I watched and liked were the "Alien" movies starring Sigourney Weaver from the late 1970s.

I have a friend who doesn't like action films or movies with a sad ending. That makes choosing movies to watch rather challenging. While I am not the movie buff that my oldest daughter is, I have seen a lot of movies. Here are a few that I have, and will continue to watch, over and over again.

Second Hand Lions

My Blue Heaven

Mama Mia (or just about anything with Meryl Streep)

The Tourist

Despicable Me (Don't like the second one, though. It's too disturbing for me to see the cute, loveable little minions from the first movie vibrating with evil in the second movie.)

Gone with the Wind

Grease

Fiddler on the Roof

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (or almost anything starring Will Smith)

Up

The Neverending Story

Matilda

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (or just about anything with Jack Nicholson)

Most of the Harry Potter movies

The Fifth Element (or just about anything with Bruce Willis, including the Die Hard series)

National Treasure (or just about anything with Kevin Costner)

Fool's Gold

The Sixth Sense

Million Dollar Baby (or just about anything with Clint Eastwood in it or that he has directed)

Steel Magnolias

The Pelican Brief (or just about anything with Julia Roberts)

Julie/Julia

Avatar

And the list could go on and on.

A few words about directors: I love movies directed by M. Night Shyamalan. I like the twists he puts in movies. For instance, The Sixth Sense is a Shyamalan movie. I love movies directed by Ron Howard, Penny Marshall and Rob Reiner; I'm almost always assured of a quality movie with these directors.

Two directors I didn't think I liked are Tim Burton and Oliver Stone, until I looked at the movies they have directed. I found quite a number of them I have seen and liked, such as Evita, The People vs. Larry Flint, Scarface, Platoon and Wall Street, by Stone; and Edward Scissorshand, Beetlejuice, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the second one with Johnny Depp—I will watch anything with Johnny in it. But I love this version because I like the ending better than the Gene Wilder version), Big Fish, Alice in Wonderland (the most recent one) and a couple of the Batman series, by Burton.

I thought Burton had too much weirdness in his movies, and he does, some of which I haven't been able to figure out no matter how many times I've watched his movies, but the stories are usually unique.

Some interesting facts about Burton: He often shows scarecrows, looks into the main character's past through flashbacks, characters often wear black-and-white striped clothing, he shows factory assembly line sequences, frequently uses extremely dark Gothic atmosphere in buildings and set designs, many of his films feature castles, churches or other old buildings and he frequently includes an exterior shot of a house or structure with a character looking out a window.

So, I guess my new assessment of Burton-directed movies is I will watch them with an open mind and some reservation.

Much like books, movies can transport one from their living room to just about anywhere and as entertainment goes, it doesn't get much better than that if you aren't into mountain climbing and such.

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