I first saw The Blues Brothers when I was in my early teens and was amazed by the juxtaposition of musician, crusader, and criminal married to an incredible soundtrack and eclectic, relevant cameos that helped to frame an invaluable era of influential music in a new world that had seemingly passed it by. Although it’s an obvious comedy, there lies beneath an amazing story that captured the imagination of a young man and has inspired an amazing journey so far.
Ray tells the powerful true story of an amazing musician who overcame unbelievable obstacles such as blindness, racism and drug addiction to affect multiple generations with his struggle and brilliant musical adaptations. On another level it demonstrates a virtuoso performance by another amazing performer, Jamie Foxx. The overall production quality of the storyboarding and cinematography combine to create a real masterpiece.
The Blues Brothers (USA) 1980, Universal
List price: $14.98
Ray (USA) 2004, Universal
List price: $14.98
David Matt Green
Associate producer and technical adviser, Return to Dwight and Nile: The Crash of PSA Flight 182; ShyCloud.com
Harlan Ellison and Townes Van Zandt are genius American writers whose work I’ve admired since the 1970s. Harlan Ellison: Dreams with Sharp Teeth tells the story of a Jewish kid from Ohio who got beat up for having a big mouth but worked hard and became a prolific and much-honored author of speculative fiction. Still going strong in his 70s, Ellison is famous for his surly manner and bad temper, so I’m proud to say he called me once in 1981 and told me I was stupid!
Townes Van Zandt: Be Here to Love Me shows us a legendary songwriter best known for “Pancho and Lefty,” which Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard turned into a number-one country song in 1983. Tragically, Van Zandt got into sniffing glue as a teenager, then spent much of his adult life hooked on drugs and alcohol. He died of heart failure in 1997 at age 52.
Harlan Ellison: Dreams With Sharp Teeth (USA) 2008, Docuramafilms
List price: $26.95
Townes Van Zandt: Be Here To Love Me (USA) 2005, Rakefilms
List price: $24.98
I would like to recommend Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams as a man who believes laughter can heal; and Life Is Beautiful starring Roberto Benigni as a Jewish man who takes a unique approach to surviving the horrors of a concentration camp. I love these two movies because of their powerful messages! I feel the movies have great symbolism, a positive approach and attitude toward life. They just show how ordinary people live extraordinary lives.
Patch Adams (USA) 1998, Universal
List price: $5.98
Life is Beautiful (Italy) 1997, Miramax
List price: $19.99