Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: Movies

“What’s The Toughest Part About Being A Dad?”

Recently, we had some our best friends in town. As we were out touring Minneapolis, one of them asked me, “What’s the toughest part about being a dad?” I had to think on it. Talk about a meaty question. After a few seconds, I said, “well, I guess it’s the wondering that you haven’t done enough, or you could have done more. What keeps me up at night is the tension that comes from not knowing if I should have given one more hug, said one more thing, spent one more minute or read one more book and if it would have made a difference.”

Those thoughts keep me up and make for the toughest part of the “job”, because we want the best for our children. I got a bit introspective on the subject, the other night. Then, by happenstance, as I was researching videos for an internal presentation, I came across this great speach by Robin Williams, in the movie, ‘Jack.’

I’m a huge Robin Williams fan and I can’t believe I’ve never seen the movie. The full text is as follows:

You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. We start to worry, thinking, “What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna be in ten years?” But I say to you, “Hey, look at me!” Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day…make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.

Parents, god bless you. Your “job” is so hard. I applaud all of you.

My Newly Revised Top 10 Movie List

In 2008 I was fresh from a huge High Fidelity high and hardcore into top 5 lists. Not much has changed since then. I still love Top 5 lists. I also love Top 10 lists, Top 20 lists…and basically any activity that requires you to rank things. Since 2008 I’ve seen a lot of movies. Some were new movies. Some were just new to me. While the 2008 list was solid, I felt it was time for a refresh of my top movie list.

For reference, here’s my list from 2008:

  1. Almost Famous
  2. Airplane
  3. Godfather I
  4. Field of Dreams
  5. Usual Suspects
  6. Star Wars, Episode V
  7. Groundhog Day
  8. Love Actually
  9. Shawshank Redemption
  10. Rocky IV

Not a bad list. Just to be clear, this is not a list of the greatest movies ever made. As I wrote in 2008, “These would be the movies that I’d save if my house was burning down.” With that out of the way, here we go.

First, let me acknowledge, I clearly made some mistakes. I love Rocky IV, but it doesn’t make the cut. Don’t get me wrong, it’s enjoyable. It’s completely rewatchable. I love the movie. But, it’s not list-worthy. Unfortunately, I have to say the same about Groundhog Day. It’s definitely Bill Murray at his best. But, as I watched it a few months back, I realized it’s just not quite list-worthy. The toughest pill to swallow was how high I had Usual Suspects. It’s dated. It just doesn’t hold up. The acting is still solid. The twist ending is still brilliant. But, for some reason it just doesn’t work for me anymore. Lastly, I had to remove Field of Dreams from the list. This was tough. The book was fantastic, I have such rich memories of watching the movie with my dad and I hope to one day watch it with my son. However, despite how hard it pulls on my emotions, it just isn’t list-worthy anymore.

So that creates 4 openings. Before we get to that, let me address the re-ordering of the ones that are still on the list. Airplane, Star Wars, Love Actually and Shawshank all needed some reordering. It was clear I overvalued the comedic brilliance in Airplane. It can still make me laugh. I can still watch it over and over. But, it’s just not deserving of the #2 slot. It moved down…significantly. Love Actually and Shawshank were undervalued for different reasons. In 2008, Shawshank was being shown just about every single day on TNT, HBO, TBS and every other cable channel. I think I was just fatigued by Shawshank. I caught it the other day and it hooked me. The acting. The characters. The music. The story. The writing. They’re all top-notch. What the hell was I thinking. As for Love Actually, I just don’t think I wanted to admit to myself how much I liked the movie. It’s brilliant, simply brilliant; and while I know it’s a holiday movie, it works for me all the time.

So to recap, here’s where we stand:

  1. Almost Famous (no-change)
  2. Open Slot
  3. Godfather I
  4. Love Actually (up 4 slots)
  5. Open Slot
  6. Star Wars, Episode V (no-change)
  7. Shawshank Redemption (up 2 slots)
  8. Open Slot
  9. Airplane (down 7 slots)
  10. Open Slot

The open slots. Honestly, not as hard as I thought it was going to be. I knew the movies that needed to be added, I just didn’t know where on the list they belonged. Here’s the new additions:

Inception: My word, such a tremendous film. It’s epic. Every time I watch it, I feel like I learn or discover something new. For example, did you know the music in the movie is the same exact song being played over and over, but just at a different speed? The deeper into the dreams you go, the slower the music becomes. Crazy, right? Much has been written about the movie. The one take I’ve never seen covered, and the reason it appeals to me so much is that at it’s core, Inception is about a dad, willing to do anything to see his kids. Maybe it’s because I have 2 little ones now, but that idea just speaks to my very soul.

High Fidelity: Last, but certainly not least. It barely missed the cut in 2008. This time, I won’t make the same mistake. Each and every time I watch this movie, I appreciate it more. Fun fact, in 2011 I lived about 8 blocks from the fictional location of Championship Vinyl. It’s still a head scratcher that no one ever turned that location into a real record store. What I love about High Fidelity is its honesty. We’ve all been Rob Gordon at some point in our life…digging through the past, looking for answers, stuck in a rut and not wanting to admit that we were at fault for the one that got away. There’s so much to love about High Fidelity, I can’t believe I left it off the list in 2008.

Silver Linings Playbook: Flawless. That was the first thought I had after watching it in the theater. In this past 12 months, there’s no movie I’ve watched more than Silver Linings Playbook. I watched is 4 times between Philadelphia and Sydney, Australia…and back. I own the Blu-Ray. I’ve streamed it. Saw it in the theaters, multiple times…once even alone. There’s something about it that appeals to me. I adore the characters and how flawed they are. The writing is simply brilliant. But, more than anything, I find the outstanding “small” roles, played by “big” actors to be perfect. They’re big enough to make a difference, but small enough not to overshadow. Chris Tucker! I mean, Chris Tucker! Are you kidding me? He’s on screen for less than 15 minutes, but makes a world of difference. Add in Deniro and just wow. I could gush all day long.

Mallrats: Eye roll all you want. It’s Kevin Smith at his best. I don’t know why I love it so much, but I do. It’s poorly edited. The jokes are a bit over the top. It’s not winning an Oscar, any time soon. But, I love it. Perhaps, it’s the flawed pieces all coming together, that make it almost flawless for me. Maybe it’s the fact, I grew up in Jersey and walked the malls for fun, because that’s what you did when you wanted to be cool. Perhaps it’s how the movie plays to my love for details and specifics…who can forget the famous exchange between Brodie and TS about whether the Cooke Stand is part of the food court? Can you really disagree with Brodie’s logic? In the same way that The Usual Suspects feels dates, there’s no doubt Mallrats, on the whole has not aged well. But, yet, in its age, it’s become more endearing.

So where do these movies fit in?

  1. Almost Famous (no-change)
  2. Inception
  3. Godfather I
  4. Love Actually (up 4 slots)
  5. Silver Linings Playbook
  6. Star Wars, Episode V (n0-change)
  7. Shawshank Redemption (up 2 slots)
  8. Mallrats
  9. Airplane (down 7 slots)
  10. High Fidelity

Obviously, there are always casualties in a top 10 list. This is no exception. The list of casualties changed a lot from 2008.

Solitary Man
The Big Lebowski
V for Vendetta
Like Crazy
Meet Joe Black
Good Will Hunting
Crazy Heart
The Departed
American Psycho
The Good The Bad and The Ugly
The Wizard of Oz
American Beauty
Treasure of the Sierra Madre

What Would You Save?

Confession: I’ve seen the Movie “Leap Year.” It’s bad. Like really bad. Could be Amy Adams’ worst performance ever. I won’t give away the plot…even though you can probably accurately predict how it ends…but, there’s a very poignant moment where Amy Adams is asked, what would you save in a fire? Later on in the move, she creates an opportunity to see what her fiancé would save. What he chooses to save sets the stage for the movie’s climax.

I hope none of you ever have to actually decide what to save if your house were to catch fire. Last night I was talking with a colleague, Tonya Hall, who I met on twitter. During our conversation, she shared that recently, during the Colorado fires, she had 15 minutes to decide to what to save in her house, before flames engulfed it. The house perished. The only word that comes to mind is, “tragic.” Thankfully, she made it out unscathed.

Her story, put a very sharp point on the question often asked at parties as a hypothetical: What would you save if your house were on fire and all you had were 15 minutes to get out?

Recently I saw a quote from the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard that stuck with me and in the face of the hypothetical question, seems appropriate: “The more you know, the less you need.” That quote comes from, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. It’s a solid read and I highly recommend it. After my divorce I started over completely. Beyond my clothes, camera equipment, laptop and car, I had nothing. Mind you, this was by choice. The best part of starting over, was how selective I could be in what I purchased. My focus was very much on quality over quantity. I live a rather sparse life, but the “things” I do have, I value.

With 15 minutes to save the most valuable items, I’d be done in 5. There’s only 4 things I’d rush to save:

1. Apple Time Capsule. It holds every photo I’ve ever taken since 2001. Photos are memories and I’d hate to lose those memories.

2. Watch Box: I don’t own lots of jewelry. It’s not my thing. But, watches, are something I love. Each watch tells a story. Each watch was purchased with a story in mind and a moment to to attach to it.

3. Camera Bag: Some items in the bag have sentimental value that can’t be replaced. But, more importantly, I’m always happy, behind the camera, capturing a moment.

4. Document Box: I have a box that contains all the important documents…birth certificates, passports, etc. If you have to start over, you’re going to need most of those documents.

That’s it. Small list. No clothes, except those on my back. No, computers or electronics. No pieces of furniture, regardless of how cool they are. Nope, just 4 things.

What would you save?

Do It Right, Or Don’t Do It

I love Michael Keaton. One of my favorite actors, hands down. If you haven’t seen My Life, I highly recommend it; although bring along the Kleenex…you’ll need it. Grantland, recently did an amazing interview with Keaton that’s worth your time to read. There’s some truly great exchanges and one-liners in the interview, but none better than this discussion on why Michael Keaton passed on doing Batman “3” after having so much success in playing the role of Batman in the previous 2 movies.

Michael: And, I will take credit for this, though: The third Batman didn’t happen because I said this is not good, this is just not good.

Daniel: You were right.

Michael: And I said, “So let’s make it good,” and I run up against this resistance, and I said, “OK, I ain’t doing it, man, I just won’t do it.” And they didn’t believe me, but I said, “No, I’m really not doing it … ”

Daniel: I know — I heard they backed the truck up. I read the whole story. Fifteen million bucks they offer you, and you just said screw it, no.

Michael: Yeah, that was it. Anyway, so I just said no.

Powerful concept, right? Obviously this goes beyond movies. It’s something I truly believe in. If you can’t do something right, if you can’t do it the best you can, if you can’t do it in a way you can be proud of and ultimately defend…DON’T DO IT. This philosophy, which one could argue, allows you to put more wood behind less arrows, is why I think Google is on the upswing. The renewed focus by Sergei Brin and Larry Page is admirable. You’re also seeing it become part of the formula for other companies who are just killing right now, like, foursquare, Ford, Amazon, Square, and Roku. They aren’t rushing to market with something. They aren’t offering a rip off of something else out there already. They aren’t doing it to simply check a box.

No, they’re focusing. They’re being smart about when to invest and what to invest against. This focus isn’t just for show. It’s part of their strategy. They’re doing it right, or they’re not doing it. Perhaps if the music industry took a page from this book, we’d have more AC/DC Black Ice and less Just Bieber [anything].

So, the next time, you’re about to do something, ask yourself, can you do it right? Because, if you can’t, you probably shouldn’t do it.

The Adjustment Bureau

Saw the Adjustment Bureau the other night and I think I’m going to see it again.  It was brilliant, but very different from the trailer.

The trailer makes it seem that the movie is very sci-fi like, but in reality it’s more of a romantic-drama. There’s a lot to take away from the movie in terms of lessons. The dialogue is rife with quotable passages. My personal favorite is still, “All I have is the choices I make.” I wrote about it here a few weeks back.  Life is all about the choices we make and their consequences.  We learn and live that lesson every day.

As powerful as that quote was, there’s another one that sticks out.  In the movie Emily Blunt, says to Matt Damon, “you ruined me. I didn’t want to settle for anyone else.” I can’t give you the context without giving away the plot.  But, if you go see the movie, listen for this line and remember that moment.  It’ll stick with you.

The Natural

One of my all time favorite movies is The Natural.  Robert Redford plays the role of Roy Hobbs, a baseball player with a dark past and a talent that no one has ever seen.  Years ago, when I was a teenager I picked up the jersey Hobbs wears in the movie.  Last year, I picked up the matching hat.  Tonight I watched the movie, in my Aviator chair, with the jersey and hat on, while drinking a Chimay.  Yes, I’m a dork.

Love Is Passion

Big time fan of Meet Joe Black.  One of my all time favorites.  I was skimming through the movie this evening and loved listening to Anthony Hopkins’ character, William Parish, advise his daughter:

Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. If you don’t start with that, what are you going to end up with? Fall head over heels. I say find someone you can love like crazy and who’ll love you the same way back. And how do you find him? Forget your head and listen to your heart. I’m not hearing any heart. Run the risk, if you get hurt, you’ll come back. Because, the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love – well, you haven’t lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.

No Risk, No Reward

Whenever I’m feeling stuck in a rut, a little complacent and wanting to play it safe I think back to this great scene from the movie Risky Business…

2008 Top 10 Watched Movies

Some of these movies weren’t released in 2008, but the one thing they all have in common is 2008 was the first time I watched them.  You may have seen some of them.  Some might be pure popcorn flicks.  Either way, they’re all enjoyable, well to me they were 🙂

1. The Dark Knight


2. Superbad

3. Havoc


4. Across The Universe

5. Hot Fuzz

6. I Am Legend

7. 1408


8. Shooter

9. National Treasure: Book of Secrets

10. Rambo

200th Post – Business Advice From the Movies

We can learn something from anything and we should continually be trying to learn every day.  I firmly believe that.  My Facebook profile says, “My only real activity is consuming as much media and information as I possibly can each day. My brain never shuts off. I’m constantly thinkng, plotting, planning, and learning.” It’s true; that’s what I do every single day.

The other day, I blogged about one of my favorite movie quotes and all time business lessons, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”  That post got me thinking about all the other lessons we can learn from the movies.  With that in mind, here’s my list of 10 things you can learn…

10. Don’t Fake It, Learn It: You can fake anything for a short period of time. I’ve seen people fake “it” for years. Trust me, eventually it catches up to you. Eventually, you’ll find yourself in a situation where someone in the room, who’s smarter than you, calls you out. When that happens, you are indeed screwed.

9. Never Trade Your Reputation: If you lose everything else, you’ll be left with only your reputation. That reputation can help you get back on top quickly. A fantastic reputation will help you gain respect, earn opportunity, and maintain trust amongst those above you and those surrounding you.

8. Be Mindful of Gifts: Sometimes the lure of money can blind us. Cash, cars, bonuses, nice offices, assistants, etc. feel good, but it isn’t worth it if you sell your reputation to get those gifts.

7. Make Time to Train Your “Soldiers”: A well trained team can overcome even the most amazing odds. If we don’t make time to train and mentor those around us, above us, and below us we’ll eventually lose. Mentorship is very important and something we shouldn’t neglect.

6. The Little Things Matter: Every thing matters. The little things are often overlooked and when you have 1,000 little things that aren’t taken care of you can end up with several LARGE problems.

5. Solve Problems: Don’t look for excuses, don’t complain, don’t whine; look for solutions.  It’s easy to point out problems, but it’s a hell of a lot harder to figure out how to solve them.

4. Stay Hungry: Don’t rest on your laurels, don’t become complacent, don’t ever think you’ve finally made it. Someone is always hungrier. The minute you lose that hunger…you lose that edge; it’s really tough to get it back.

3. Make Time For Your Family: Jobs will come and go, but you’re family will always be there (for good or bad). All the spoils in the world mean nothing if you have no one to share them with. So make time to show your family how much they mean to you.

2. Get a Wingman: Everybody needs one. It’s too hard to go at it alone. Don’t look for someone who is 100% like you; it’s a recipe for failure because you’ll never get any alternative perspectives. Without an alternative perspective you might as well be talking to the mirror.

1. Keep Business and Personal Life Separate: In other words, it’s not personal, it’s just business. Don’t let your personal emotions enter the picture. Make your decisions based on the business needs, not personal. This of course means not hiring your friends, just because they’re your friends.