Desert Island Challenge

Recently my book publisher threw down the gauntlet. He challenged me to the infamous “Desert Island Challenge!” If I was stranded on a desert island and could only take ten movies with me, what would they be? First let me say, I hope there is some power on that lump of sand. Not to mention a DVD player and an LG big screen. Providing those were accounted for, I set out to make my list. At first it came easy. GLADIATOR. BRAVEHEART. ROCKY. All classics, all Academy Award winners, all brilliant screenplays about extraordinary heroes. When I got to number four, however, I stalled. The movie that came to mind was clearly RAMBO. One of the all-time great action films, written by the indomitable James Cameron, which spawned a slew of sequels that grossed nearly a billion dollars. Certainly, I was not the only one a fan. But I knew people would balk. Rambo? Really? Stallone? Again? Screw ‘em. It was my list, and that film got me through a lot in my youth. It sure as hell would get me through a lot on an island. Then came movie five. As a writer of action movies and an author of a book about writing action movies, I could’ve easily coasted home on nothing but action fare. But I felt a pang in my heart for something else. And noticed at the core of all my action picks laid one thing: a great love story. For without it, what’s the point? Convinced I had enough goring and gouging to last me the rest of my days, I decided to cross over and go with SAY ANYTHING. Mouths dropped. How did that ever make my list? Cameron Crowe is how. One of the most talented screenwriters in history with a gift for gab and an insight to the human condition. To this day my friends and I recount the dialogue like it was yesterday. And that’s one of the magical things about that film, or any great film, is they take us back to our yesterdays. Next was GOOD WILL HUNTING. Written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and as they were wise to admit at the Academy Awards, a bullpen of some of the most talented scribes in the world. Again, I found myself drawn to a story about a bold hero with flaws for days whose discovery of love sets him free. Number seven was THE HORSE WHISPERER. This threw everyone for a loop. But something about Robert Redford’s character always drew me to this movie. For me, he embodied all the qualities in a man I hope to have when I grow up: Honor, conviction, integrity, kindness, courage. Strangely, it is those values that I find myself drawn to, in not only great heroes, but great people. OCEAN’S ELEVEN was next. There have been three Oceans made thus far. If I had room for them all, they would all make the cut. The repartee between Clooney and Pitt pays homage to the classic Rat Pack male camaraderie, and in the end, these criminals demonstrated more class than all the marks they took down. No list is worth its salt without a Bill Murray movie. His flippant attitude and dry wit wreaks of comic genius that will help any lonesome island dweller remember how to laugh. STRIPES was the benchmark for me. And to this day, I find the lines from that film drifting into my dialogue unwittingly. Last came my first love. Rock and roll. Born and bred on Led Zeppelin, I knew I needed music to keep my soul alive, and thanks to the genius of Jimmy Page, THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME offered not only some of the best of Zep’s live performances, but a window into the mind of its artists through ethereal narrative imagery that tips a hand to Game of Thrones forty years before it came to be.

Those were my picks. To the left.

What are yours? I hereby challenge you to the “Desert Island Challenge!” Post one each day ten days in a row on your social media of choice. You might be surprised what you find.